How The Former Guy Plays Golf

From a New York Times reporter who followed the Former Guy during Thursday’s LIV Golf pro-am.

“He had. . . not finished a hole after his blast from a bunker had failed to reach the green and was nestled in some nasty rough. Instead, he had his caddie pick up the ball and march to the next tee. On another hole, when a birdie putt rolled nearly six feet past the hole, he casually scooped the ball up to end the hole, apparently conceding himself a par. Try that this weekend in your match with your usual foursome. Or any foursome.

At other times, a Trump mis-hit would simply be ignored. As if understanding the drill, his caddie would retrieve the golf ball from the sand or deep rough and walk forward.”

Hardly news. Why would anyone, paying any attention, expect him to play it as it lies and count all his strokes?

Dr. Melissa Yuan-Innes

Understands privilege way better than most. Yuan-Innes is a part-time emergency room doc in Canada and one of six people The New York Times interviewed about this year’s stock market correction.

Yuan-Innes isn’t sweating the downturn. “If we need more money,” she explains, “we would just earn more money — I would rather not do that, so it’s sad, but it’s certainly not as hard as people who are getting paid minimum wage.”

She adds:

“I recognize my privilege in having parents and grandparents who worked extremely hard before me. Lots of financial independence types will tell you they’re entirely self-made, unaware of advantages they’ve gained from their white privilege, gender, middle-class status, education, government, or their relatives’ sacrifices.”

“We’re lucky we have enough money coming in to cover what’s going out.”

Being mindful of one’s privilege and one’s luck go hand-in-hand.

The Boys Are Not Just Fine

From “No, the Boys Are Not Doing Just Fine” in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Sentence and paragraph to ponder.

“The four-year graduation rate among women is 10 percentage points higher than for men.”

“Gender gaps in higher education do not appear out of nowhere. To a large extent they reflect the disparities in the K-12 education system. Girls outperform boys at every stage, and in almost every subject. According to my analysis, two-thirds of the students graduating high school with a GPA in the top 10 percent of the distribution are female. The ratio is reversed at the bottom.”

I have had a front row seat to this phenomenon for the last few decades. To add insult to injury:

“In recent years, for every BA awarded to a Black man, nearly two went to Black women.” 

My response to this, despite all the countervailing evidence, is to TRY to expect my male students to achieve equal to my female ones. Put differently, to not cut them any “gender slack”. But that resolve seems inadequate to the task given the historic and systemic underpinnings of the academic achievement gender divide.

What In The World Happened To Elise Stefanik?

The New York Times asks. The crux of their answer:

“Ms. Stefanik’s story is important in part because it mirrors that of so many other Republicans. They, like Ms. Stefanik, are opportunists, living completely in the moment, shifting their personas to advance their immediate political self-interests. A commitment to ethical conduct, a devotion to the common good and fidelity to truth appear to have no intrinsic worth to them. These qualities are mere instrumentalities, used when helpful but discarded when inconvenient.”

Sustainability For Reals

Sustainability is not just a buzzword at our crib.

The Good Wife did a bad thing. She got the trees trimmed. That wasn’t bad. The bad was having the tree trimmers leave a small mountain of tree mulch in the driveway without cluing me in in advance.

It’s all good. I just subbed out a bike ride for a few hours of shoveling and wheelbarrowing. The end result is a very cool environmental win-win. Because the trees were trimmed, our very nice view got even better. Now I can easily see the Pal at Olympia Country Club when he’s sitting poolside with his coastal elite friends.

And instead of buying “beauty bark”, the tree mulch is providing a natural weed suppressant. Like me, it may not be beautiful, but it’s perfectly okay.

Retire (Really) Early

FIRE (financial independence retire early) profiles are so out-of-touch as to be pretty damn funny. They’re also ridiculously formulaic. The subjects, usually engineers, almost always work in tech, and always make six figures. The formula is “We (it’s almost always a pair of people) saved over half of our income for “x” number of years and retired at age “y”. In the profile I read today, “y” was 35 and 36 years old.

Slackers. I wanna read a FIRE profile where the subjects retire at 23 and 24 years old.

“We made $500,000 right out of college as coders, AirBNB hosts, and professional poker players. We saved 80% of what we earned for the eighteen months that we worked. Our $600,000 nest egg currently generates $30,000/year which is more than enough to support our #vanlife.”

The Ultra Wealthy Are Winning. . . For Now

Based on yesterday’s middling statistics, including how few times the LA Times link was opened, I did a poor job framing Mckenzie’s story. I described it as a long and difficult read hoping you’d rise to the occasion. If I were to suggest all of us go run a hilly and hot marathon, I probably shouldn’t be surprised if none of you show.

I should’ve lead with the importance of regularly mixing in challenging content with all of the light, entertaining stuff that tends to dominate the interwebs.

I can’t shake Mckenzie’s story, especially after reading Evan Osnos’s mind blowing New Yorker piece, “The Haves and The Have-Yachts”. Osnos tells the story of the ultra-rich buying ever larger, more expensive yachts.

If you’re even a little bit like me, and you don’t like the ultra-rich, Osnos’s piece will turn your dislike into a much, much deeper antipathy. If you have high blood pressure, be sure to take your pills first.

I can’t help but read the stories without wondering why in hell the world isn’t overcome by poor people’s revolutions. Osnos makes a few references to the “EatTheRich” movement, but the Wikipedia entry for it describes it as a political slogan associated with class conflict and anti-capitalism.

Sometimes in my hometown of Olympia, WA I see an “Eat the Rich” bumpersticker or graffiti tag. If I was a “Have-Yachter” I’d be thrilled that the primary pushback to the growing wealth gap is some flaccid combo of political slogans and bumperstickers.

This puts me in a tough position in that I don’t condone mindless property damage or really violence of any kind, and yet, I can’t help but wonder if much more radical responses to the growing wealth gap are warranted.

Another dilemma is how do we define “ultra-wealthy”? The tipping point seems to be $30 million, but compared to Mckenzie, I definitely qualify as ultra wealthy.

The legions of ultra wealthy people reading this post are saying to themselves, “We’ll be fine, we’ll just invest even more in security.” Right now they’re right, but whether I live to see it or not, someday poor people’s rage will ignite like the fires in France, Greece, Portugal, and Spain.

Pregnant And Homeless In Los Angeles

“In 2018, three Times reporters slipped through a hole in the fence above the 101 Freeway in Hollywood and into a world of young homeless people. Their objective was to tell the story of women at the cusp of the shifting response to some of the gravest social problems: intergenerational poverty, homelessness, child neglect, mental health, foster care and addiction. A feature-length documentary will be released as a companion to this project. See all of the stories at”

Mckenzie Trahan’s story. Long and difficult to read/view, but an incredibly illuminating window into homelessness. A story of hardship upon hardship upon hardship.

Sports Extravaganza

Athletic competition is the key to remaining semi-sane these days.

And right now is peak sports. Let me amend that. Peak niche sports. Your Seattle Mariners with their 14th straight victory. Stellar performances at the World Track Championship meet down Interstate 5 in Eugene, Oregon, also known as TrackTown, USA. The thinning of the Jumbo Visma herd in the Tour de France with the podium still to be determined.

And most memorable, Cameron Smith is the ‘Champion Golfer of the Year’. That’s a title I would love to have some day. Maybe next year.