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.

On Professional Success

For some reason, chauffeuring my daughters to the airport inspires very good conversations.

Recently, I mostly listened as Eldest talked about her work at a humanities library in Chicago. I’m proud of how well she is doing and how independent she has become on her modest salary. Even cooler is her emerging self confidence and ambition to take on more responsibilities to continue learning and growing.

She’s feeling more ambitious than ever before, not for status and money, but for influence at another non-profit or in a political campaign. To make the world a better place.

I emphasized knowing people who are known and liked by the hiring decision makers since that type of recommendation is often a tie-breaker. It has dawned on me though, while using the first few weeks of my sabbatical catching up on The New Yorker, that when it comes to professional success, there’s something much more fundamental than that.

A powerful template for professional success is found in these profiles of two of the more successful writers working today, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and  Otessa Moshfegh. In a few words, singleminded sacrifice, otherworldly discipline, a clear sense of life purpose.

Check this interview with Moshfegh. Specifically, 1 minute in.

Favourite holiday. . . “I don’t know if I’ve ever been on holiday.” If you didn’t write. . . “Trying to be a writer”.

Ngozi Adichie is married and has a daughter. Moshfegh is engaged. But they’re writers first, then partners, mothers, whatever else. If their marriages endure, their partners understand that and are okay with it. Both writers isolate themselves for extended periods and willingly make lots of other sacrifices for their art. Their sense of life purpose precludes any concern for “work-life balance”. Work is life.

Both are naturally talented, but at least equally important, they outwork all the other writers seeking their prestigious awards and book sales.

So when you dream about a challenging, consequential, and rewarding professional life, the best question isn’t who do you know, it’s what are you willing to sacrifice?

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Both daughters looking pretty self-condifent

 

Trump, “I Said Would Instead of Wouldn’t”

More on the dystopian novel we’re trapped in here.

“President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he meant the opposite when he said he didn’t see why Russia would have interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections. ‘The sentence should’ve been: ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia’.”

Cue the Twitter comedians:

• I obviously meant to shout “I DON’T OBJECT” sorry that I ruined your wedding.

• I mean, I might have ruined it, or I might not have. It was probably your fault for inviting me to the wedding. Both sides are to blame.

• I meant to say “It is NOT safe to cross” which I can see now might have made a big difference.

• I also meant I want to build a MALL between the US and Mexico.

 

Paragraphs To Ponder

John Gruber, at Daring Fireball, on what the Russians most likely have on Trump:

“I don’t think it’s the infamous pee tape because even if real, the pee tape might not sink Trump. I think it’s money — that Trump’s entire company, and therefore his personal wealth, is held afloat entirely by Russian money and Putin could pull the plug on it with a snap of his fingers. But whatever it is, it seems clear there’s something they’ve got on him.”

Gruber again:

“I’ve been thinking for a few months now that the most powerful person in the world isn’t Trump or Putin but Rupert Murdoch. If Fox News turned against Trump — not against Republicans, not against conservatives, but only against Trump and his family — it would sink Trump’s presidency within months. Politically, Trump couldn’t breathe without the support of Fox News. Rupert Murdoch could make that happen.”

 

Pacific Northwest Heatwave

In the Pacific Northwest, when the mercury rises above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32C), everyone gets a little nutty, similar to how Southern California drivers lose their minds when it rains. Last night it was 90 degrees at 8pm, plus it was high tide, so the salt water beckoned me from my reading chair. The Sound is cold, but less so at high tide, since the rocks heat up during low tide.

As I stood in the waist deep water, I thought I was all alone, but two friends emerged from the wooded trail and joined me. Griffey and Eddie, two hyper friendly dogs, were even more excited to swim than me. Summertime fun.

Tangent. On the walk home, I may have spied my neighbors’ empty glass bottles which were set out on the street for once-a-month recycling. You may label this nosey eavesdropping, but it’s more sociological analysis. How much alcohol do people drink? Do they prefer wine, beer, or spirits? If beer, the cheap stuff or expensive craft labels? How are their family economics?

Another tangent. If your doc is like mine, she probably asks you how many drinks you have a week. I’m guessing people seriously underreport. I mean docs are scary in their lab coats and all and you know the answer they’re looking for. Same as when your scary dental hygienist asks if you floss. “Several times a day.”

Then I walk by your house and there’s a Giza Pyramid of empties on the curb. Pants on fire. Hey docs, here’s an idea, stop with the questions and walk your patients’ streets on recycling night.

In an effort to outsmart my similarly sociologically inclined neighbors, I’m masking my drinking habits this summer via aluminum cans which get tossed into a larger, enclosed receptacle that they’d have to lift the top off of to see inside. No one would go that far would they?

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Thursday Assorted Links

1. Today’s higher education case study—The (dreaded) University of Southern California.

2. This is what it’s come to. On the new game show Paid Off, lucky winners put holes in their student debt.

3A. Signs of a thaw for Ethiopia and Eritrea.

3B. The Addis Ababa art scene.

4. Trump tariffs spare clothing industry. How convenient.

5. Bloody Sunday. A preview.