Maybe All Isn’t Lost After All

RAGBRAI, Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is more than just a bike ride, it is an epic eight-day rolling festival of bicycles, music, food, camaraderie, and community. It is the oldest, largest, and longest multi-day bicycle touring event in the world.

Here’s a great intro. Ryan and his newish girlfriend’s first day. If you don’t know Ryan, you should.

And here’s a wonderful “photo story” of RAGBRAI compliments of National Public Radio. The second picture is worth at least 1,000 words don’t yah think?

Hypocrisy On A Staggering Level

A reader writes, “Hey Ron, who should I read and follow to better understand the housing crisis?”

Jerusalem Demsas.

But why did Marc Andreessen, billionaire venture capitalist and vocal affordable housing advocate, just block Demsas on Twitter?

Because of her brilliant reporting and scathing takedown of Andreessen in this Atlantic essay, “The Billionaire’s Dilemma”. In thirteen paragraphs Demsas teaches a master class on contemporary American life and the wealth gap more specifically.

The money paragraph. . . pun intended:

“Unfortunately, when local officials charged with overseeing development are confronted with balancing exercises, they almost always default to blocking or delaying projects. This happens in part because the future beneficiaries of new development cannot advocate for themselves. No one knows who will eventually live in new housing, what kids will be born there and go to school in the neighborhood and grow up to make the community better. But the present-day neighbors who are worried about construction, who believe that their home values might “MASSIVELY decrease” if teachers live near them, who are prejudiced against renters and people who live in multifamily housing—those people can and do speak up. And often, local officials bow to the pressure or are elected because they themselves oppose new housing development.”

I listened to an in-depth interview of Andreessen recently and was blown away by his intelligence. Demsas’s piece is a powerful reminder that the heart trumps the mind.

Reality Catches Up

A reader writes, “Hey Ron, August is finally here and I’m going on vacation. I wanna get my financial life in order. What’s one book you’d recommend with that in mind?”

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel.

I read Housel’s blog too. Today’s post is titled “Reality Catches Up”. It’s about the precarity of fleeting success. This paragraph will resonate with anyone with much work experience.

“It happens at work, too. A manager who can’t earn employees’ respect by leading often tries to force it through fear. That can feel great: Your employees say “Yes sir, right away sir!” But it’s unearned respect. Employees who fear you will hide the truth from you to avoid repercussions. So the manager flies blind, oblivious to problems large and small that won’t be apparent until it’s too late. Every bit of respect over what you deserve is a liability, a hidden form of debt.”

The Best Ever

Vin Scully (1927-2022).

From John Gruber’s heartfelt remembrance.

“Most fittingly, it was Vin Scully at the mic for Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run in game 1 of the 1988 World Series, the Dodgers against the A’s. I was 15, watching it live with my friends. Who else to call such a moment in Dodger history? The whole at-bat epitomizes Scully’s gift. He let the drama build. Gibson was unable to start the game because he had not one, but two injured legs. The man could barely walk, let alone run. A mere hit could tie the game. Dennis Eckersley, the best relief pitcher in all of baseball, on the mound. Two outs. The count full. Then: ‘High fly ball into right field, she is … gone!’ And then, for 70 seconds, as Gibson hobbled triumphantly around the bases, as his teammates celebrated at home plate, as the full house at Dodger Stadium erupted in ecstatic pandemonium, Scully said not a word. 70 seconds. The moment belonged to Gibson, the Dodgers, and their fans. And then, this: ‘In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.'”

The GalPal and I were walking on the Hermosa Beach bike path when diners at a beach-front  restaurant erupted. We pressed in to marvel at the replay.

Use the link above to watch and listen to the magical at bat. The fateful pitch was outside. Gibson reaches for it, and because of his injured legs, doesn’t really turn on it. How the hell did that ball clear that fence?

What To Think About Hellfire Missiles

That are designed to kill a single person.

That’s what my government’s Central Intelligence Agency decided to use to kill Ayman al-Zawahri in Kabul last week as he read on the balcony of a “safe house”. Two missiles to be exact.

We’re supposed to celebrate this. “There’s no where to hide. We will find you no matter how long it takes.”

But I don’t find the revenge satisfying at all because it will do nothing to slow, let alone reverse, the mutual hatred between Al Qaeda and my government, and the back-and-forth killing associated with it.

As I read the account of how the C.I.A. tracked al-Zawahri (Netflix production probably in progress by now), two analogies came to mind. That of a mafia war where competing families ramp up the violence and that of a gang war where competing sides mindlessly kill more and more of one another.

Are we supposed to feel safer with al-Zawahri gone? As if there aren’t younger successors waiting in line to seek revenge on our seeking revenge?

Where does it end? What’s the non-drone, non-hellfire missile plan for deescalating the violence?