Journalism Lives

Two lengthy, extremely well written profiles worth your time if you’re the least bit interested in (1) North Korea and/or (2) marketing.

1. The Untold Story of Otto Warmbier, American Hostage. Unfunny throughout.

2. How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million. Very funny in places.

Rejecting Cynicism in Piqua, Ohio

My nephew, D.J. Byrnes, has left his job as an Ohio State football writer (ElevenWarriors.com) to run for the 80th District of the Ohio state legislature.

DJ is way more progressive than the district, so I suspect he’s a longshot, but I’m proud of him for giving it a go.

He’s a smart, sarcastic, humorous person who wants to make a difference in his neighbor’s lives. Win or lose, I trust he’ll find ways to do that.

Why I’m Running

Jul 15, 2018

I am running because people like me aren’t supposed to seek political office. No fancy degrees hang on my walls. No opulent suits hang in my closets. I have no connections with corporations, energy companies, or shadowy networks of deep-pocketed donors.

My friends say I must be crazy to run. The absurd toxicity has poisoned our political process and pushed capable, everyday people to the sidelines. But no longer.

This fight isn’t about Democrat vs. Republican, or Left vs. Right. It’s about regular people organizing to eradicate the plunderbund that seeks to strip us of our dignity, health care, and wages.

I plan to take my pro-worker message to every corner of the district—including ruby red Darke County. I am going to take it to churches, fast food restaurants, county fairs, and gun ranges. Only donations from individuals and labor unions will fuel this campaign.

As the last three decades have shown, new faces on old politics won’t solve our problems. It’s time for Ohio to operate for the many, not the few. I am the Swamp’s worst nightmare because I cannot be bought, sold, or traded. Lobbyists and corporate shills need not darken my doorstep if their business does not benefit the hard-working Ohioans that fuel the 80th district.

Together, we will end corporate tax giveaways and create new revenue streams to invest in our district and bring new industries and jobs.

In solidarity,
D.J. Byrnes

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Apparently, from his picture, in addition to healthcare for all and guaranteed living wages, it looks like he’s going to bring mountains and mountain lakes to the district. How kickass is that?! D.J., be careful at the gun ranges and good luck come November. I’m pulling for you.

Wednesday Assorted Links

1. Jordan Spieth laughs off “very British” haircut. Dude seems totally unaffected by his fame. Personable and grounded. Now if he can just get the flat stick heated up again.

2. Don’t ban scooters. Redesign streets. Related, I want one of these (the Plus to be specific).

3. No more free food for Facebook employees. Hope they are alright.

4. They don’t own homes. They don’t have kids. Why Millennials are plant addicts.

“Everyone made fun of me because I was sleeping on an air mattress and buying plants. But having living things to care for soothed me.”

“They don’t come in and buy $300 pots unless they are actors. They buy a lot of succulents, hanging plants and airplants.”

What the hell is an airplant?

5. 1 Hen, 76 Ducklings. Call me old fashioned, but I think if you’re going to have a baby, you should take care of it yourself.

I Was Wrong

No, not about how to properly load the dishwasher, I’m very right about that.

I was wrong about the merits of Positive Psychology, a newish subfield of psychology dedicated to the study of happiness or “subjective well-being”. When I read the literature, I believed it was based upon solid social science. Ruth Whippman taught me otherwise.

As referenced in Michael Schien’s subtly titled Forbes piece, “Positive Psychology is Garbage”, Barbara Ehrenreich does the same in her book Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America.

Writing in Forbes, Schien explains Seligman’s success, the pseudo-intellectual founder of the movement:

“When describing his concepts, Seligman uses big words about statistics, mathematical equations, and empirical data. For most of us, this serves as the equivalent of a doctor’s white coat—it seems authoritative, so we don’t question it.”

Guilty as charged. Later, he adds:

“It’s a lesson you would do well to follow. When trying to get people to pay you for your ideas, present them in terms that have the whiff of science whenever possible. Equations. Data. Statistical analysis. Remember, it’s not that the science itself actually matters, it’s the appearance of science that counts.”

I’m left believing happiness is partly the result of being born to happy parents. Other things that tip the balance from despair to joy include a good night’s sleep, a few close friends, healthy food, sunshine, art, physical activity, and socially redeeming work.

But without equations, data, and statistical analysis, I don’t expect anyone to pay my list any attention.

Friday Assorted Links

1. Did you like The Brady Bunch? Do you have $1.885 million?

2. Attention drivers. Highway 1 is now open.

“After 17 months and more than $100 million replacing a damaged bridge and rebuilding the highway in two locations, drivers can once again skirt the western edge of the continent, forever burnished by wind, rain, waves and tide.”

Props to the much maligned public sector.

3. No PressingPauser would ever stereotype professional basketball players just because of their outward appearance, but just in case, there’s this.

4. If I ever suffer temporary insanity and pay $250 for a pair of running shoes, they damn well better make me (a lot) faster.

“Compared with typical training shoes, the Vaporflys are believed to wear out quickly: Some runners have said they lose their effectiveness after 100 miles or so.”

$2.50 per mile? As Millennials like to say, hahahahaha.

5. Forget a Fast Car, Creativity is the New Midlife Cure. Right on. I hope that means superficial, materialistic lowlifes like me can score a pre-owned Porsche for less.

6. Could not have happened to a nicer guy.

Too Smart For Own Good

Near the very end of Claire Cain Miller’s New York Times story, “When Wives Earn More than Husbands, Neither Partner Likes to Admit It”, there’s a powerful illustration of why academic writing often sucks.

Consider two of the last few sentences. First Cain Miller’s clear, specific, easily comprehensible one:

“. . . . Women who outearned their husbands were more likely to seek jobs beneath their potential, they found, and to do significantly more housework and child care than their husbands — perhaps to make their husbands feel less threatened.”

Immediately followed by Marianne Bertrand’s, a University of Chicago Business professor, attempting to communicate the exact same idea:

“‘When the gender norm is violated, there is some compensating behavior to try to undo some of the utility loss experienced by the husband.”

That contrast is the problem of academic writing in a nutshell.

Bertrand’s use of more sophisticated vocabulary, “gender norm is violated”, “compensating behavior”, and “utility loss” muddies more than it illuminate’s Cain Miller’s previous point. It would be nice if doctoral economics programs, no make that doctoral programs of all sorts, required a class in journalism.

Academics would be well advised to follow Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s advice to her writing students.

“She tells them to avoid inflated language—’never purchase when you can buy.'”

Amen to that.