Paragraph To Ponder

You can suffer from marriage burnout and parent burnout and pandemic burnout partly because, although burnout is supposed to be mainly about working too much, people now talk about all sorts of things that aren’t work as if they were: you have to work on your marriage, work in your garden, work out, work harder raising your kids, work on your relationship with God (‘Are You at Risk for Christian Burnout?’ One Web site asks. You’ll know you are if you’re driving yourself too hard to become an ‘an excellent Christian.’) Even getting a massage is ‘bodywork’.

Jill Lepore, It’s Just Too Much, The New Yorker, 5/24/21

Thursday’s Required Reading

1. 12 year old grandmaster. 

2. Ultra cycling’s underdog has no patience for haters

3. On infrastructure. Why does it cost so much to build things in America? 

4. The power dynamic between humans and Yosemite National Park.

5. On ‘small travel’. Making discovery, not distance, travel’s point.

A Hard Pass On Psychedelics

Ever pressed pause and asked yourself why LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs are trending?

Here are some explanations from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Hallucinogenic and dissociative drugs have been used for a variety of reasons (Bogenschutz, 2012; Bonson, 2001). Historically, hallucinogenic plants have been used for religious rituals to induce states of detachment from reality and precipitate ‘visions’ thought to provide mystical insight or enable contact with a spirit world or ‘higher power.’ More recently, people report using hallucinogenic drugs for more social or recreational purposes, including to have fun, help them deal with stress, or enable them to enter into what they perceive as a more enlightened sense of thinking or being. Hallucinogens have also been investigated as therapeutic agents to treat diseases associated with perceptual distortions, such as schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and dementia. Anecdotal reports and small studies have suggested that ayahuasca may be a potential treatment for substance use disorders and other mental health issues, but no large-scale research has verified its efficacy (Barbosa, 2012).”

Apart from the potential to help with substance abuse disorders and other mental health issues, I don’t find any of the other rationales convincing. Their appeal seems to speak to people’s discontentment with having more of their needs met than any other people at any other time in world history. 

Maybe this is just another case of Okay Boomerism, but I never wake up wishing for more mystical insight. More Sea Salt Caramel gelato in the freezer yes (or dark Raspberry Chocolate), but not a more enlightened sense of thinking or being. I’ll be sitting this one out because I’m content with my current anemic level of insight, thinking, and being. 

Influencia

Cristiano Ronaldo’s marketing power appeared to be on full display this week when his removal of two bottles of Coca-Cola from the podium at a press conference coincided with a $4 billion drop in the company’s market value.

Before speaking to the media on Monday in Budapest a day before Portugal’s Euro 2020 opener against Hungary, the Juventus star moved the Coca-Cola bottles out of the frame and held up a bottle of water before saying, ‘Agua.’

Coca-Cola’s share price dropped from $56.10 to $55.22 soon after Ronaldo’s gesture, while the company’s market value dropped from from $242 billion to $238 billion. Coca-Cola is an official sponsor of the European Championship.”

Portland A Year On

From “After a Year of Protests, Portland Is Ready to Move On. But Where?”

People will conclude very different things from this update because as the Torah says, “We see things not as they, but as we are.” Admittedly, it’s dangerous to selectively excerpt from it, but here goes.

“A hardened core of street activists, many of them professing opposition to authority in general, has dug in and shows no signs of going away. (Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, has asked people to stop calling them protesters, but rather what they call themselves: anarchists.) Their numbers are now down to perhaps 25 to 75 on any given night, compared with hundreds in late 2020 and the many thousands who marched last summer in protests after Mr. Floyd’s murder.

But they have shown themselves at times to be violent — one was charged with attempted murder after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the police — destructive of property and highly adaptable, using social media tools and other strategies to divert the police from the targets they select.

Direct actions are promoted on social media with the phrase ‘No gods, no masters,’ a 19th-century anarchist term that indicates a rejection of all forms of authority. More traditional protesters from Black Lives Matter and other movements who try to curtail violence are now ridiculed as ‘peace police’ by the anarchists, who mostly consist of young, white men.

Demetria Hester, a member of Moms United for Black Lives, continues to push for defunding the police but disagrees with the current call for dismantling the entire political system. “Breaking windows is performative,’ she said. ‘That satisfies them at night, but they don’t have a plan.’

Some prominent Black leaders have been formally distancing themselves, with some calling the anarchists’ rejection of gradual progress just another symbol of privilege that Black people do not have.

‘Being able to protest every night is a white privilege, being able to yell at a police’s face is a white privilege,’ said Gregory McKelvey, a prominent Black organizer who ran the mayoral campaign last year for Mr. Wheeler’s opponent, Sarah Iannarone. ‘Most Black people across the country do everything they can to avoid cops.'”

There is no reason why law abiding, pro-peaceful protest liberals should let 25-75 anarchists confirm Fox viewers’ and Right Wingers’ preconceived notions that all Progressives endorse violent anarchy. “Formal distance” is a start. Prosecute cases of violence and vandalism. Schmidt is striking the right balance.

Paragraph To Ponder—Vax Edition

John Gruber on Philadelphia’s Vax Sweepstakes:

“I really do love the idea of these lotteries and giveaway promotions. It’s innumeracy that leads some people to grossly miscalculate the risks vs. rewards of getting vaccinated, and it’s innumeracy that leads people to play lotteries. Sweepstakes for getting vaccinated put innumeracy to work.”

Osaka Says ‘Au Revoir’ To The French Open

The gist of the story

“Osaka, 23, . . . revealed that she has experienced depression and anxiety since winning her first major at the 2018 US Open and explained that speaking to the media often makes her nervous. She apologized to any media members she had impacted with her decision.

‘I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media. I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try and engage and give [the media] the best answers I can.'”

This is bigger than the French Open. Osaka is emblematic of a generation that struggles with anxiety disorders and mental health more generally. The question is how are employers going to adapt to their young, often anxious employees? The best course of action will hinge on the type of work. But it starts, in each case, with heightened sensitivity to the issue. 

In Osaka’s case, tennis needs her WAY more than she needs tennis. In 2020, she earned $50 million from tournaments and endorsements*. Osaka preferring Instagram to post-match pressers makes perfect sense because she can control the message and her social anxiety. It was painful watching her squirm under intense questioning about a poor performance in a previous tournament. Professional tennis “powers that be” should start thinking about how athletes can leverage their social media to increase their and their sport’s popularity. The post match presser is analog, social media is digital. Osaka isn’t saying she doesn’t want to interact with fans, she’s saying she just doesn’t want to do it live right after matches. 

When professional tennis comes to ask me what they should do, I will be brief. Always accommodate. 

*I suspect Osaka’s mental health challenges and transparency about them make her an even more popular endorser of products. I also suspect she’d forego many millions for peace of mind.

The Biebs Ditches His Dreads

Before and after pictures and the story here.

The Bieb’s experience highlights how the lines between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation can be blurry.

Here’s a helpful start in distinguishing between the two.

“Appreciation is when someone seeks to understand and learn about another culture in an effort to broaden their perspective and connect with others cross-culturally. Appropriation on the other hand, is simply taking one aspect of a culture that is not your own and using it for your own personal interest.”

The social media mob immediately decided Bieber was not broadening his perspective or connecting with others cross-culturally, instead he was using his dreads for his own personal interest.

However, even if that assumption was correct, a few minutes of research into the history of dreads would’ve muddied the water considerably:

“One account claims that dreadlocks originated in India (unlike most who cite Egypt as their birth place) with the dreadlocked diety Shiva and his followers. It is likely that this is the spirituality origin of dreadlocks in Indian culture. However, the first archeological proof of people wearing dreadlocks came from Egypt where mummies have been recovered with their dreadlocks still in tact.

Regardless of their origin, dreadlocks have been worn by nearly every culture at some point in time or another. Roman accounts stated that the Celts wore their hair ‘like snakes’. The Germanic tribes and Vikings were also known to wear their hair in dreadlocks. Dreadlocks have been worn by the monks of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Nazarites of Judiasm, Qalandri’s Sufi’s, the Sadhu’s of Hinduism, and the Dervishes of Islam, and many more! There are even strong suggestions that many early Christians wore dreadlocks; most notably Sampson who was said to have seven locks of hair which gave him his inhuman strength.”  Source.

Which makes me wonder, why didn’t JB try to enlighten the mob with a similarly brief history lesson? It’s too bad he opted for hair clippers instead of the teachable moment.

Maybe I should take the baton and grow some dreads. I’ll report on my progress same time next decade.