Stop Already Mr. President

If I confess to being afraid, very afraid, will you quit with the inane immigrant invasion scare mongering?

Like most Demos, I’m afraid of lots of things:

  • I’m afraid that your weakening of fuel economy standards may contribute to accelerating climate change.
  • I’m afraid that your efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act may make low-income people and people with preexisting conditions more vulnerable.
  • I’m afraid that your support of the National Rifle Association may lead to more mass shootings.
  • I’m afraid that your administration’s dismantling of environmental protections may endanger the natural environment and people’s health.
  • I’m afraid that your tax policies may widen the rich-poor gap.
  • I’m afraid that your coarseness may detract young people from pursuing public service.
  • I’m afraid that your silence on why our demand for illegal drugs is so high may cause people to believe the problem lies exclusively with other countries.
  • I’m afraid that your total disregard for international relations may take years for future administrations to undo.
  • I’m afraid that parents will continue to doubt whether their children may live better, more secure lives than them, because your administration is doing little to combat our mental health crisis, rebuild our infrastructure, and strengthen public schooling.
  • I’m afraid that your use of the phrase “fake news” may weaken the First Amendment and dissuade people from discriminating between more and less credible news sources.
  • I’m afraid that Ruth Bader Ginsburg might die and Russia will get another Supreme Court nomination.

Those are just my Demo fears, I’m also afraid that UCLA basketball will never return to prominence and my bench press might plateau at 160 lbs. I know, I’m a sad, sick guy.

The point of all this? Forgive me if the fact that some desperate people sneak into our country to work jobs our citizens won’t, doesn’t scare me as much as it does you. As you can see, my fear quotient is already off-the-charts.


Do Yourself A Favor

And jumpstart 2019 with some Chinese fiction. Specifically, Ge Fei’s The Invisibility Cloak, translated by Canaan Morse. My first 2019 book, well technically a novella, but I need to round up because Eldest read 44 books in 2018, the Good Wife 20, and the Youngest is reading up a storm since devouring Becoming late last month. Hmm, I wonder if Eldest and Youngest gave me six months of HBO for Christmas to distract me from the printed page #dastardly.

A rising tide raises all boats, so as I try to hang with the fam on the book front, I’m falling further beyond on The New Yorker. Ever catching up is probably hopeless. I’m onto this now, but I digress.

Ge Fei is a Chinese Ian McEwan, who I really, really like. Wonderfully clear; whacked out characters; compelling, suspenseful storylines. It was like spending another few weeks in China.

The back of book overview:

New wealth blossoms in today’s Beijing because everyone is lying to everyone else. Friends use friends, relatives cheat each other, and businessmen steal from one and all. Superficiality is the standard, and Mr. Cui knows it—in fact, he is drowning in it. The rich clients who buy his exquisite custom sound systems know nothing about music; his sister’s family is trying to trick him out of her unused apartment; his best friend takes advantage of and looks down on him. Desperate to escape this poisonous hypocrisy, the quiet artisan stakes his future on a job for a wealthy yet mysterious client who wants “the best sound system in the world.” This man, who has a mansion and an air of thinly concealed brutality, will drag Mr. Cui to the precipice of a new yet dangerous future.”

A central concept is connoisseurship. Unless it’s paired with arrogance, I always enjoy being in the presence of connoisseurs like Mr. Cui, an expert on high end sound systems. At one point, Cui secures a pair of the world’s nicest speakers, but he doesn’t tell his wife:

“Nor did I ever reveal their real value to Yufen. One day I came home from a delivery to find Yufen cleaning the speaker boxes with a goddam steel wood scrubber and White Cat disinfectant. She scrubbed hard to make them ‘look a little newer,’ and even put a huge fucking flowerpot on top of the each box. I almost fainted.”

More on the speakers:

“To keep the speakers in good working order and prevent the sound from deteriorating into fuzziness, I warmed them up once every two weeks or so, usually during the quite hours of the night. I’d pull out a recording of an Italian string quartet’s rendition of Mozart ( my favorite composer to this day), or Walter Gieseking playing Ravel or Debussy, and listen to it as a low volume for a couple hours. I knew that the technical specs of my own system kept the speakers from producing the best sound. But it was like seeing a young, beautiful woman right after she wakes in the morning, face fresh and unwashed, free of make-up. It felt more than enough. I could sense her understated elegance, her every gesture, her intoxicating allure.”

Damn, not all analogies are created equal yo.

Also, Cui’s takedown of self-important professors is LOL funny:

“. . . They seem incapable of doing anything but complaining. If the number of mosquitoes dropped one summer, they’d say, My God, the world’s gotten so bad even the mosquitoes can’t adapt. And if the mosquito population boomed, they’d say, Shit, it looks like only mosquitoes can thrive in this world.”

I should stop writing, and start reading, otherwise I’ll be mired in fourth place at year’s end.




Extra Grande Alphabet Soup

Teri Woo, a friend of mine who just jumped from PLU to St. Martin’s to build a nursing program, is quoted in a story in our local electronic “newspaper”. Get a load of her title:

“We also anticipate BSN students from Hawaii, Guam and the Pacific Islands, so our BSN graduates will fill a need outside the local area as well,” said Teri Moser Woo, Ph.D., RN, ARNP, CPNP-PC, CNL, FAANP, director of nursing at Saint Martin’s.”

Does she have to fold her business card? I used to attend bimonthly graduate program meetings with Teri and would chuckle to myself every time she used nurse-speak. Admittedly, educators can get way too jargony, but nurses are TUKQOJ—the undisputed kings and queens of jargon. Their lead is such that educators and other academic subgroups are playing for second place.

The Humanities Are Not Dead

In recent years the humanities have been the Phoenix Suns; the Miami Marlins; the Arizona Cardinals; the Theresa May; the Sears, Roebuck, and Company, of the academy.

Science sexy. Technology steamy. Data analysis super hot. Religion, art history, English literature, philosophy, decidedly unsexy.

Partially due to the escalating costs of a university education, “What is the ROI—return on investment?” has replaced universal questions about the purposes of life and a life well lived that are the lifeblood of the humanities.

That is the context in which I read this Kara Swisher New York Times commentary titled “Is This the End of the Age of Apple?

Swisher touches upon Apple’s recent struggles and asks:

“Where is the next great boom of innovation going to come from, when even the strongest brands and products might not be sure things anymore?”

She contends:

“Now all of tech is seeking the next major platform and area of growth. Will it be virtual and augmented reality, or perhaps self-driving cars? Artificial intelligence, robotics, cryptocurrency or digital health? We are stumbling in the dark.”

She concludes by imploring:

“We need the next wave of innovation, and we need it now.”

Only if we concede to our President that everything is transactional and deem the humanities completely irrelevant, should we conclude we’re stumbling in the dark because a high profile technology company is struggling. As I write, Swisher has inspired 1,105 comments.

Dig the top rated one, as determined by New York Times readers, by “Childofsol” who resides in Alaska:

“No. What we definitely do not need is more technological innovation in the world of things. How about this: What would truly be innovative, is to develop an economy that isn’t based on endless growth and the mindless consumption that endless growth entails. We need to become a country that values its citizens, as evidenced by clean air and water, the right to health care, and the right to retirement security. A culture which reverses its headlong rush into ever-faster everything, and celebrates the art of living in harmony with the environment which supports us. That’s the kind of innovation we could use more of.”

Or the silver medal comment by “Berk” in Northern California:

“’Where is that next spark that will light us all up?’” A fantastic, memorable vacation? A good story? A great meal with friends? A walk in the woods on a crisp fall day? Experiences, not things.”

All of the top rated comments are similar. Clearly, if we can generalize from New York Times readers even a little, there’s serious skepticism about mindless technology. And a longing for some semblance of balance where the humanities rise from the mat before the quants hurriedly count to eight and declare a technical knockout.

That is heartening.



The Thrill of Victory

I shoulda received a gold medal, blue ribbon, or big ass trophy for winning the Byrnes Family Christmas 5k. Even set a course record. Sadly though, there was hardly even any media at the finish, it being a holiday and everything. Except for one week every four years, elite runners in the U.S. never get the attention we should.

To all those dads who run with their daughters for 5 or 10k and finish together and then blanket social media with pictures, that was the plan. Then Youngest and Eldest informed me, that like battery powered toys or something, they can “only run with music”. I planned to run whatever pace they wanted. We were going to bond. Then they showed up to the start sporting Airpods for shitsake.

So we headed out together to the Gull Harbor Rd turn around. At the risk of them getting cocky, I didn’t tell them I was coming off a four week break from a calf injury and that our race was my third rehab run. Not only did I mask my loss of fitness, I broke out my Ironperson hat which, just as I had hoped, intimidated them big time.

We headed out together, me talking over their stupid music. Until the Mile 2 marker which came early on Cushman Rd, a slightly uphill, tricky half mile segment. Tricky because Cocoa, Eddie, and Griffey often need some love. Eldest and I blew past Youngest who had cut the course short and succumbed, mid-race, to petting Cocoa, a black labradoodle in desperate need of a hair cut. At the same time, Eldest informed me she had to turn up her music for the final push, and if “I wanted to go ahead, I could.”

That was the invitation I had been waiting for. I accelerated like a topped off Tesla and went “full gas” as they say in the pro peloton. Sweet separation came as quickly as you can say “Tahtah for now”. Halfway up Cushman I turned to see Eddie and Griffey, told them they were good boys, and promised them I would pet them later.

Right after doing the “U turn” at the end of Cushman Rd I saw the former college swimmer not too far away. Turns out, she can run a little. Time for some Tough Love though, rehab be damn. A right on Indian Rd, another right at the bend, a check of the watch behind Travis’s house, 3 miles. I grab an American flag from an adoring fan on the side of the road and lean in to the finishing tape. Well, I think I did, maybe not, in all honesty my first major running win is a bit of blur. Just like me when at full speed.


Paragraph to Ponder Plus

For its comedic value. From NBA (National Basketball Association) savant, Zach Lowe:

“It has been a rough month for Chicago fans. The Bulls are a mutinous laughingstock. They have a freaking leadership council, and they are trying to pass it off as a serious thing. Can it craft team legislation? Can someone filibuster? Does it have a cloture rule in case someone filibusters?”

And at the risk of piling on, my favorite Twitter follow:

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And lastly, since lots of people will take time off from work next week, an idea worthy of consideration from my favorite Twitter follow.

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