Wednesday Assorted Links

1. What swimming in my underwear taught me about Donald Trump and getting away with it. Funny, but rest assured Briggs YMCA patrons, I do not condone swimming in one’s underwear. That’s the reason the swimming backpack has a second just in case suit and pair of underwear. More spontaneous peeps should adhere to a strict “forget your suit, forget the workout” life philosophy. (Thanks DB.)

2. Why shade is a mark of privilege in Los Angeles.  My conservative friends will say this is ridiculous. As someone far too experienced with skin cancer, I respectfully beg to differ.

“As the world warms, the issue of shade has drawn more attention from urban planners. The writer Sam Bloch, in an article in Places Journal this year that focused on Los Angeles, called shade ‘an index of inequality, a requirement for public health, and a mandate for urban planners and designers.'”

3. I learned to play the piano without a piano. Passion personified.

“I was 11 years old when I asked my mum for piano lessons, in 2010. We were in the fallout of the recession and she’d recently been made redundant. She said a polite ‘no’.

That didn’t deter me. I Googled the dimensions of a keyboard, drew the keys on to a piece of paper and stuck it on my desk. I would click notes on an online keyboard and “play” them back on my paper one – keeping the sound they made on the computer in my head. After a while I could hear the notes in my head while pressing the keys on the paper. I spent six months playing scales and chord sequences without touching a real piano. Once my mum saw it wasn’t a fad, she borrowed some money from family and friends, and bought me 10 lessons.”

4. On writing about divorce when you’re still married.

“There’s my husband in the corner, who’s married to someone always wondering just how solid the ground beneath her feet is, and who always reassures her that it’s good. There’s my ring on my finger. There are all my friends, rising up from the ashes of their old marriages and seeking out new bodies to bond to. What is more romantic—more optimistic and life-affirming—than the fact that we know how all of this might end and still we continue to try?”

5. It’s that time of the year when you start wondering what to get your favorite blogger for Christmas.

 

The Divide in Yakima is the Divide in America

Yakima’s 15 minutes of fame compliments of the New York Times. The sunny place just on the other side of the mountains where I’ve spent some summers teaching.

Except for this sentence, it’s a hopeful story.

“Planes now land almost weekly at the Yakima airport, loading Central American migrants wearing leg shackles and handcuffs to and from buses bound for a federal immigration facility on the other side of the state.”

Dulce Gutiérrez is a great human being whom everyone in the United States should celebrate.

Another of Alberto Salazar’s Runners Says He Ridiculed Her Body for Years

Someone should write a book. Something like “The MeToo Perps’ Painfully Predictable Non-Apologies”. Possible subtitle, “Their Inability to Understand the Harm They’ve Caused”.

Chapter 53, Alberto Salazar.

“My foremost goal as a coach was to promote athletic performance in a manner that supported the good health and well-being of all my athletes. On occasion, I may have made comments that were callous or insensitive over the course of years of helping my athletes through hard training. If any athlete was hurt by any comments that I have made, such an effect was entirely unintended, and I am sorry.”

“On occasion, I may have. . .”

For shit’s sake, you either did or didn’t Alberto, so either don’t apologize or drop the tentative “may have” bullshit.

“. . . callous or insensitive. . . “

That doesn’t sound so bad. The most timid of adjectives given the allegations.  Why does the (alleged) perp get to label his behavior instead of the victims of the abuse?

IF any athlete was hurt by any comments that I have made. . . “

Thus creating the suggestion that the problem is in their heads. In the initial draft his lawyers probably rewrote, I wouldn’t be surprised if he asked, “Why are they so damn sensitive?”

“. . . hurt by any comments I made”

The classically vague, non-apology apology. Salazar can’t bring himself to acknowledge anything specific that did cause significant pain. Again then, why say anything at all?

He wraps up his non-apology this way:

“I do dispute, however, the notion that any athlete suffered any abuse or gender discrimination while running for the Oregon Project.”

The ultimate power play, the abuser defining what constitutes abuse.

After a close reading of his words, it’s obvious that Salazar is more defiant than remorseful. Sadly, he has lots of company.

Quotes of the Week

Steve Kerr on being singled out by the President of the (dis)United States:

“I realize the horse was out of the barn a long time on this. But for me personally, this was my experience with, wow, has the office sunken low. My hope is that we can find a mature unifier from either party to sit in that chair and try to restore some dignity to the Oval Office again, and I think it will happen.”

Randi Mayem Singer on Twitter where she has changed her name to Randi Great and Unmatched Wisdom Singer:

“BREAKING: The president is refusing to be impeached on grounds that if he were impeached, then he would be impeached.”

Ruth Whippman in a New York Times essay, “Enough Leaning In. Let’s Tell Men to Lean Out.”

“So perhaps instead of nagging women to scramble to meet the male standard, we should instead be training men and boys to aspire to women’s cultural norms, and selling those norms to men as both default and desirable. To be more deferential. To reflect and listen and apologize where an apology is due (and if unsure, to err on the side of a superfluous sorry than an absent one). To aim for modesty and humility and cooperation rather than blowhard arrogance.”

The backlash in the comments from Whippman’s male readers speaks volumes about the validity and importance of her insight.

Who Will Hold Weinstein’s Lawyers To Account?

Harvey Weinstein tried to rape Rowena Chiu, a Miramax assistant, twenty one years ago after evaluating scripts with her in a Venice hotel. Chiu, who has a degree from Oxford in English Literature can write, so she tells a lucid and harrowing story that details how Weinstein, and others like him if we extrapolate, wreak havoc on their victims’ lives.

Props to you for getting this far in the post.

But will you take the 7-8 minutes required to read her story or is it too unpleasant a topic for a fall weekend? Are you giving in to a MeToo malaise? I hope not, women who have suffered sexual abuse deserve much better. And given the intense silencing of victims that Chiu details, we’re really just getting started understanding the breadth and depth of the problem.

Chiu reflects:

“I’ve had many years to ruminate on how I fell into Harvey’s trap, and the best way to understand it is through the four power dynamics of gender, race, seniority and wealth.”

Power over. Power over. Power over. Power over.

I shudder to think Weinstein may leverage his immense wealth to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison. In the U.S. we talk sporadically about growing inequality, but not nearly enough about how that growing inequality creates two distinct judicial systems.

Granted, our legal system depends upon everyone receiving a robust defense when charged with a crime, but what about before then, how is it okay for lawyers to enable monsters to continue committing crimes indiscriminately by strong arming victims into non-disclosure agreements? Why can’t we go after those attorneys and get them disbarred for moral turpitude? It’s not enough to ask “How do they sleep at night?”

What Podcasts Should I Listen To?

In a shameless effort to appear a wee bit younger and hipper, I’ve finally started listening to podcasts. Sometimes during the commute, but primarily when I run and cycle with me, myself, and I.

Here are ones I’m enjoying:

Against The Rules by Michael Lewis. About the decline of “referees in American life”. Maybe things really are at least semi-rigged.

The Happiness Lab by Laurie Santos. Yale prof who created a Positive Psychology class that went viral both on campus and later on-line. Since reading this, I’m a positive psychology skeptic, but so far my bullshit alarm has not sounded. Episode 2, “The Unhappy Millionaire” is particularly interesting.

Bundyville by Leah Sottile. Everything you wanted to know about Cliven Bundy and his anti-Government hangers on, but were afraid to ask. Thorough and thought provoking.

The Retirement Answer Man by Roger Whitney. Granted, this one won’t help me appear any younger/hipper, but great case studies of ordinary people trying to save and invest enough to stop working.

Bogleheads on Investing Podcast by Rick Ferri. Interviews with smart financial analysts who adhere to Jack Bogle’s philosophy of investing. Bogle is the recently deceased founder of The Vanguard Group, an investment management group.

Conversation with Tyler by Tyler Cowen. One intellectual talking to others about everything under the sun. Recent guests included Samantha Power and Masha Gessen. Next up, Salmon Rushdie.

The Nation, Start Making Sense. Insightful lefty analysis of current events. My conservative friends will say “insightful lefty” is an oxymoron, but I will not take their bait. :)

What else dear reader should I be listening to on my now pitch black, drizzly morning runs? Think politics, social sciences, personal finance, sports, comedy.

 

 

 

 

Netflix’s “Unbelievable”

Rumors of Netflix’s possible demise are premature. This eight episode mini-series about a serial rapist is truly outstanding. I wasn’t sure I was up for it and almost bailed after the very dark first thirty minutes, but indoor cycling season has started, and I’m glad I stuck with it.

Merritt Weaver and Toni Collette are a dynamic duo. Weaver’s steely minded, workaholic detective is especially impressive.

More important than any particular person’s contribution is the powerful illustration of how victims of sexual abuse can easily be traumatized a second time by uncaring, calloused, hyper-skeptical police.

The miniseries excels at what I try to get my first year writers to do, tell a subtle, nuanced, and complex story particularly in how it portrays men. Given the topic, it would’ve been easy to paint the majority of men in the story with a broad, decidedly negative brush.

But to their credit, the writers resisted that impulse. Instead, the rapist’s evil is detailed in the larger context of several caring and likable men including the female detectives’ male partners, along with good guy FBI agents, police, an intern, and others.

Also, the pacing is perfect and the whole tragic story, which sadly is based on a true story, seems imminently believable. Almost like you’re watching a documentary.

Unbelievable is more proof that this is the Golden Age of television. Tonight, the eighth and final episode. Hoping against hope for some semblance of justice for the victims.