Monday Required Reading

  1. Three cheers for my ‘oh so woke’ sport.
  2.  Props to this brave, young French woman for agitating for a more frank approach to sexism and gender violence.
  3.  File this under “increasingly relevant”. A new study has found being angry increases your vulnerability to misinformation.
  4. Leah Sotille’s podcast Bundyville is state-of-the-art audio journalism. Along with Kathleen Belew, she’s my go to source on all things domestic terrorism. File her most recent writing, “All Bets Are Off”, under “increasingly relevant”.

What Happened on January 6th, 2021?

Young children will wonder. Maureen Dowd’s answer:

“He draped his autocratic behavior in the American flag. Surrounded by Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, F.D.R., M.L.K. and monuments to our war dead, this coward whipped up a horde of conspiracists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and gullible acolytes to try to steal an election for him. He said he would march to the Capitol with them, but he didn’t, of course. He watched his insurrection on TV, like the bum that he is.”

Pence’s Luck Runs Out

White House reporters say Trump is livid with Pence. The President’s public comments lend credence to that. And now we’re learning many Republicans in the White House and Congress are repulsed by the President’s treatment of the most loyal of Veeps.

But no one whose been paying even a little attention should be surprised. The surprise is that the political partnership lasted as long as it did. In Trumplandia, four years is forty.

What I find most fascinating about the President is the stories we never hear. Specifically, about close friends, whether childhood, college, or more recent. Sure, people partner with him in business and politics, and they appear chummy until they don’t. No one ever talks about him as a close, personal friend. When he said his older, overweight friend died from the ‘rona, I was left wondering how “his friend” would have described their relationship.

Friendship requires one to put other’s interests before their own on occasion. To listen, to help them move, to make them food, to celebrate their successes, to support them through difficult chapters of life. Most importantly, it requires reciprocity. Friendships mature as people learn to put other’s interests before their own.

More simply, narcissism is friendship kryptonite.

What Do You Say We Unplug The Giant, Cosmic Scoreboard?

These days, as I watch and listen to political pundits on right and left-leaning cable news programs, and their “man/woman on the street” interviews, and as I scroll through my Twitter feed, I recognize a familiar pattern.

Everyone is lobbing political grenades at one another as if there’s a giant cosmic scoreboard with “Democrats” on one-side and “Republicans” on the other.

My friends and I do the same thing. We try to couch our grenade-texts in humor, but we’re definitely scorekeeping.

Whenever we score-keep, we focus more on our team—whether Democratic or Republican—than on problem solving and trying to improve everyone’s quality of life. I’m afraid it’s gotten to the point where we want to defeat the other team more than we want our cities, counties, states, and country to flourish.

Among many other examples, Republicans ran up the scoreboard with their rushed Supreme Court appointment bullshit. This week, Democrats are running up the scoreboard by saying everyone that voted for Trump is responsible for the siege of the Capital Building.

Who is going to unplug the giant, cosmic scoreboard first? I will try to by remembering what my mom taught me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Imagine the silence that would descend on the country if everyone followed that maxim.

The Rest Of The World Is Watching

And they know. We’re not a “city upon a hill”. We’re not exceptional. We’re not the model for others to follow. We’re a deeply divided country weakening our democratic principles and traditions while a public health crisis rages.

Things will calm down and improve in the months and years ahead, but we will never be a “city upon a hill”, or exceptional, or some idealized model for others to follow.

Challenging Myself In 2021

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? What physical challenges might be motivating to train for and fun to attempt in 2021?

I’m early in the decision-making process, but so far, I’ve narrowed it down to two. The first is a Claire Law inspired 300 mile bike ride with 16,000′ of elevation gain. In under 40 hours, as per her and the Rapha 500k Brevet guidelines. Probs not in the dead of winter though since I’m afraid of the dark. And rain. And cold.

Thanks to my brother for finding the second one, which he instinctively knew, is much more in my wheelhouse.

This is good to know:

“One popular method of doughnut-eating is flattening three or four doughnuts on top of each other to form one pastry. ‘You can trick your mind into thinking that you’re only having three doughnuts when you’re really having more.'”

Monday Required Reading

Administrivia. Every time I write critically about the President, a humble blog regular and close friend whose opinion I care about, rips me for spreading “hate” and sowing “division”. Given that predicament, I guess I shouldn’t link to any of the numerous articles about our President’s Saturday phone call to Georgia’s Secretary of State which Carl Bernstein called “way worse than Watergate”.  

1. The Plague Year: The mistakes and the struggles behind America’s coronavirus tragedy. Lawrence Wright’s damning deconstruction of “America’s coronavirus tragedy” details the President’s complicity which my friend might think of as hateful and divisive. Not to worry though, it’s WAY too long for him. Everyone writing books about this simultaneously let out an “Ah shit!” upon finishing Wright’s piece. I could excerpt endlessly from it, but there’s other reading to get to.

2. The challenge of chess – learning how to hold complexity in mind and still make good decisions – is also the challenge of life.

3. Walk, run or wheelbarrow: We moved our bodies forward during the pandemic. Our second born walked 153 miles in December!

“. . . my eldest walks. She carries a backpack loaded with her journal, a beanie, whatever book she’s reading. She dons her mask and canvasses our Atlanta neighborhood at New York speed, striding purposefully as if she has somewhere to be. When the sun starts to set, she sits on a patch of grass or a park bench to catch her breath and stares into the sky, tracking the light until it bleeds into darkness.

She does this every evening because, as she explains, it gives her ‘something to look forward to.’

When she comes home, cheeks flush, hair windswept, my daughter does seem happier, lifted. The simple act of walking underscoring her autonomy, reminding her that she is still a human capable of breathing fresh air, of shuttling from point A to B, that she is still a human at all.”

4. Shearing Sheep, and Hewing to Tradition, on an Island in Maine. Love, love, love the pictures. They have the same effect as an engrossing foreign film, they totally transport me across the country to the island. Long live the Wakemans and their way of life.