In Today’s News

In the interest of helping the growing number of journo’s on the sexual harassment beat with their untenable workload, I have created a template:

“Today, [insert number] women [or substitute underaged men or just men if applicable] have accused [insert name of Hollywood director, writer, actor, comedian, Congressman, former/current President, professor, executive, publicity titan, veteran political journalist, athlete, celebrity journalist, studio head, fashion photographer, Olympic team doctor] of allegedly [insert type of harassment—groping them while posing for a picture, talking about sex with them, telling them he deserved to see them naked for all he had done for them, touching them in an improper way, repeatedly making sexual comments at work, kissing them and grabbing their breasts during a work meeting, chasing them around a hotel room naked, masturbating in front of them, raping them]. [Insert name again] has released a statement through his attorney saying he is extremely sorry if anyone has been hurt by his actions.”

 

Monday Assorted Links

1. A guy filmed a fantastic commercial to sell his girlfriend’s 1996 Honda Accord.

Now his fiancee.

2. Fred Beckey, Conqueror of North American Peaks, Dies at 94.

“Indeed, Mr. Beckey shunned publicity and people. He lived like a hermit in Seattle, holing up to write or vanishing for months on expeditions. He looked like a scruffy hobo — a wiry, stooped nomad with a backpack, a shapeless jacket, dirty pants and sneakers. But he was all-purpose: the craggy face leathery from sun, wind and snow; powerful hands scarred with cuts; flyaway hair crushed under a woolen cap; keen eyes for the next toehold; and a toothy smile for the book signings.

He never married or had children, never had a business or sought security. Friends said he just wanted to climb mountains.

But to the fraternity of climbing enthusiasts around the world, he was a phenomenon whose exploits above clouds and tree lines at 10,000 to 20,000 feet resounded in mountaineering lore and journals: the achievements of an eccentric daredevil who took on the continent’s last unclimbed peaks and uncharted routes, who probably took more risks than anyone in history.”

3. Reinventing the hutong.

“A kitchen, dining hall and two crisply modern bathrooms on the ground floor are connected to bedroom, study, teahouse and terrace above by wooden ladders rather than space-stealing stairs. The hostel is a felicitous marriage of ancient and modern design. Zhang Ke hopes that projects like this will encourage new generations of Beijingers to think of living in remodelled hutongs rather than in tower blocks that could belong anywhere.”

4. Americans Are Officially Freaking Out.

“A majority of the more than 3,400 Americans polled, 59 percent, said “they consider this to to be the lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember.” That sentiment spanned generations, including those that lived through World War II, the Vietnam War, and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.”

Maybe we should cut one another more slack than normal.

5. Check the excellent new blog by the eldest daughter and college friend. They appear to like television. Here’s “Big Al’s” top five t.v. shows of all time. Note the overlap with Meaty’s top five. Nice that their distorted views of the modern workplace are not holding them back. I will continue reading CROSSOVER HIT even though they don’t appreciate The Wire or the Sopranos. Note to self: find a co-blogger named Meaty.

The Gray Lady’s Downward Spiral

The New York Times is known as the Gray Lady. Today the Gray Lady ran a sad, sick story on its front page. Titled “U.S. Report Says Humans Cause Climate Change, Contradicting Top Trump Officials.

This is really your fault. Instead of subscribing to the NYT, you just read it online for free, which means the Gray Lady can’t afford fact checkers anymore. So they’re just making shit up.

How do I know this? Because in the middle of this morning’s run, as I climbed up out of Woodard Bay, a blizzard began. Now that’s hyperbole, but PressingPause can’t afford fact checkers either, so I exaggerate at times. In truth, it was a very steady snow, huge wet flakes, that I swallowed to quench my thirst.

Obvi, if it dumps snow in Olympia, WA on November 3rd, there’s no global warming. Also, how dare the Gray Lady contradict “top Trump officials”! Who does she think she is? We know. A sad, sick lady in decline.

 

Rethinking Cancer

I was blown away by the scope, clarity, interdisciplinary artistry, and intelligence of Siddhartha Mukerjee’s 2010 book, “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer“. Like Atul Gawande, Mukerjee somehow practices medicine, runs a world class research lab, while being married with two school-aged children. I like this quote from his wife, Sarah Sze, a MacArthur Genius grant recipient and tenured art professor/sculptor at Columbia.

“‘You can’t get lost in the everyday details. Sid and I are both totally like that, which can be not good with things like parking tickets. Sure, things are falling through the cracks all the time, but that doesn’t matter. The big things matter.'”

I haven’t read Mukerjee’s 2016 book, “The Gene: An Intimate History,” but did just finish his recent New Yorker essay, “The Invasion Equation,” about how cancer biologists are rethinking cancer. And he’s done it again, written so clearly even I can make sense of the science. His writing is deeply engaging on top and will not disappoint anyone interested in the current state of oncology.

A one-sentence caption on the second page of the essay summarizes the shift in thinking:

“We’ve tended to focus on the cancer, but its host tissue—”soil,” rather than “seed”—could help us predict the danger it poses.”

Later, he elaborates:

“It was only natural that many cancer biologists, confronting the sheer complexity of the whole organism, trained their attention exclusively on our “pathogen”: the cancer cell. Investigating metastasis seems more straightforward than investigating non-metastasis; clinically speaking, it’s tough to study those who haven’t fallen ill. And we physicians have been drawn to the toggle-switch model of disease and health: the biopsy was positive; the blood test was negative; the scans find “no evidence of disease.” Good germs, bad germs. Ecologists, meanwhile, talk about webs of nutrition, predation, climate, topography, all subject to complex feedback loops, all context-dependent. To them, invasion is an equation, even a set of simultaneous equations.”

My take-away from Mukherjee—whether you or I are likely to die from cancer depends largely on whether oncologists learn to think like ecologists.

Friday Assorted Links

1A. Running While Female. Male runners may be shocked to learn how often women must endure on-the-run harassment. Many female runners have come to just expect it.

“43 percent of women at least sometimes experience harassment on the run. . . compared with just 4 percent of men. In the vast majority of cases, it’s not life-threatening. But it is pervasive, and it’s upsetting, and it’s most likely happening to. . . someone you know.

A man will look a woman up and down as she runs past. A driver will shout a come-on, laughing with his friends as they speed away. A person on a bike or in a car will follow a woman, and she might dart down a side street to escape. Even if nothing like this happens most days, knowing that it (or something worse) could happen causes stress. As the recent national dialogue surrounding Donald Trump’s sexist comments and alleged assaults brought to light, almost all women—runners or not—have endured unwanted sexual attention. And no matter how swift a woman’s pace, it’s impossible to outrun harassment.”

1B. Male athletes at Garfield High mentored on how to interact with women.

“‘There was things. . . that I noticed that I’ve done in the past . . . I just realized I should change,’ said Ramari, a football player.”

Imagine that, coaches looking past scoreboards.

2. Why America’s roads are in tatters.

“Brickyard is among the roads that the Muskegon County Road Commission has slated to be turned to gravel, twenty-eight miles in all.”

We are a nation in decline.

“Each American driver pays about $450 per year toward roads, according to the Journal of Infrastructure Systems. Europeans fork over on average 2 to 3.5 times as much — the difference is largely in fuel taxes. Americans have always resisted giving such financial support for infrastructure projects. . . . The federal gas tax, 18.4 cents per gallon, was last raised in 1993 and has since lost more than one third of its purchasing power. Only three states currently index their gas tax to inflation.”

You get what you don’t pay for.

3. How long must Seattle teachers save for house down payment?

“Teachers with five years of experience, and a master’s degree would pay about 28 percent of their annual salary on rent for a one-bedroom in Seattle, according to the NCTQ data.

“Are you giving people enough money to buy a house or even rent a modest apartment? If you aren’t doing that, you’re sort of depriving a profession of what makes it a profession.'”

4. Fuck, I Totally Forgot to Fight for Women’s Rights and Promote Sustainability.

“You know how it is, though.”

Somalis Know They Are Invisible

Naomi Klein, in her 2001 book, Fences and Windows, writes:

“When I was twenty-three, I had my first media job as a copy editor at a newspaper. The newspaper closed at 11p.m., but two people stayed until 1a.m. in case a news story broke that was so significant it was worth reopening the front page. On the first night that it was my turn to stay late, a tornado in a southern U.S. state killed three people and the senior editor on duty decided to reopen the front page. On my second night, I read on the wires that 114 people had just been killed in Afghanistan, so I dutifully flagged own the senior editor. Remember, I was young, and it seemed to me that if three people warranted reopening the front page, then 114 would surely classify as a major news event. I will never forget what the editor told me. ‘Don’t worry, he said, “‘those people kill each other all the time.’

Since September 11, I’ve been thinking again about that incident, about how we in the media participate in a process that confirms and reconfirms the idea that death and murder are tragic, extraordinary and intolerable in some places and banal, ordinary, unavoidable, even expected in others.

. . . I still think the idea that some blood is precious, some blood is cheap is not just morally wrong but has helped to bring us to this bloody moment in our history.

That cold, brutal, almost unconscious calculus works it way into our shared global psyche and twists and maims us. It breeds the recklessness of those who know they are invisible, that they are not among the counted.”

This weekend a bombing in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, killed over 300 people and left hundreds more seriously wounded. It was so lightly reported on, it’s understandable if you know Green Bay Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collar bone Sunday, but were completely unaware of the massive loss of life in the Horn of Africa.

After 9/11, a friend of Klein’s wrote to her:

“Compassion is not a zero sum game. But there is also undeniably something unbearable in the hierarchy of death—1 American equals 2 west Europeans equals 10 Yugoslavs equals 50 Arabs equals 200 Africans—which is one part power, one part wealth, one part race.”

Last night I traveled to Somalia through the pen of Alexis Okeowo. Okeowo introduced me to 17 year-old Aisha, a young basketball obsessed woman living in Mogadishu. I wish I knew her in real life so that I could support her and cheer her on. Her harrowing but inspiring story is inextricably linked to some of our planet’s most pressing challenges.

The more I got to know her, the more I wondered about her future. Then a deep sadness. She could have been among the dead.

Mindless Sex Scandal Scorekeeping

What do uber-liberal Jennifer Weiner and right wing nutter Rush Limbaugh have in common? They both revel in their political opposites’ moral failings. More accurately, they both stand and applaud loudly when their political opposites are caught straying far from the sexual straight and narrow.

Weiner in today’s New York Times:

“The double standards employed by some members of the “do as I say, not as I do” Christian right are nothing new. Show me a senator who votes against gay marriage, and, at least in one infamous case, I’ll show you a guy who’s soliciting same-sex encounters in the airport men’s room. (Hello there, Larry Craig!)

Show me another Republican senator who made his name as a “pro-family advocate” and I’ll show you a guy whose phone number showed up in a Washington madam’s little black book. (Howdy, David Vitter!)

Show me the far-right speaker of the House, a man with perfect scores from the National Right to Life Committee and the Christian Coalition, and I’ll show you a guy who, as a high-school wrestling coach, set up a chair in front of the boys’ shower the better to ogle his protégés, and who was eventually jailed as a serial child molester. (Dennis Hastert, come on down!)

We’ve been down this road of duplicity before. The televangelist who prayed, alongside his wife, for the return of traditional morals, admitted to having sex with — and was accused of rape by — a 21-year-old church secretary, and found to have paid her $279,000. The congressman who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act was sexting with his underage male pages.”

4-0. Scoreboard! Nevermind all the wrecked lives left in the wake, our party is winning because theirs is losing.

Like a good Stoic practicing voluntary self deprivation, I listened to Rush Limbaugh during this morning’s commute. He went all Jennifer Weiner on Harvey Weinstein whose “alleged” decades of sexual harassment momentarily give the Republicans the edge in the Sexual Impropriety Olympics. I’m not sure of the actual score because its constantly adjusting for new sordid details from our most public figures on the right and left.

Note to Rush Limbaugh. You can’t constantly discredit the New York Times as a reputable publication and then cherry pick stories that give you a political hard on. Is it trustworthy journalism or not?

Ready for the most amazing insight I have on offer today? Neither political party has a monopoly on virtue. Scorekeeping belittles the victims, mostly less powerful women. Powerful men of all political persuasions are adept at breaking vows and taking advantage of the less powerful. Mindless sex scandal scorekeeping is an especially poignant example of partisanship run amok.