‘Urban Meyer Viral Video’ Writing Contest

More than you prob want to know about it.

The first two submissions are from the same Slate article:

  1. “On Saturday a video began circulating on social media in which he (Meyer) is shown sitting on a bar stool in a busy restaurant while a woman, who is obviously not his wife, Shelley, backs her … stuff … right up into his … situation.”
  2. “. . . at the Columbus steakhouse he (Meyer) owns, which incidentally was the venue where a young woman was just filmed putting her defensive backfield in the direct vicinity of his schematic advantage. . . “

Monday Required Reading and Listening

The semester is in full swing. Time to raise your game.

  1. Our high-speed transport future. Doubt I’ll live long enough to find out if it’s 670 (Branson) or 760 (Musk) miles per hour.
  2. And the future of weight-loss.
  3. How to help kids struggling with their mental health.
  4. The best young adult author going explains how to connect with kids through the written word.
  5. China’s Hot New Rental Service: Men Who Actually Listen. Groovy, we’re trending.
  6. Astute Ryder Cup analysis you’ve been clamoring for. I hope the U.S. hasn’t “ushered in a new era”. I prefer my Ryder Cups like I do the Good Wife, close.

Netflix’s ‘The Chair’

Six very short episodes totaling three hours. Final grade, ‘A’. It’s the story of a newly appointed Chair of an English department at a fictional “near Ivy”. The larger stories are the corporatization of higher education, the declining status of the humanities, and the rising tide of social media-based groupthink among (many) students.

The filmmakers hit the elderly/senile/tenured faculty especially hard and it’s always hilarious. Sandra Oh is excellent as the besieged Chair, but her adopted daughter may be even better. Kids are usually filler, but she’s a complex, edgy, thoughtful human just in smaller form. Other filmmakers take note. 

The contrast between the young hip prof and the one well past his expiration date missed the essential element of excellent teaching—the degree and thoughtfulness with which students engage directly with one another. Had I consulted, I would’ve recommended substituting more poetry class-like dialogue for the Hamilton-like performance which was far fetched. Partial credit for that vignette though because with the exception of this all time great teaching film, t.v. and film teachers are almost always center stage. 

We don’t go to sporting contests to watch coaches. We don’t go to symphony concerts to (just) watch composers. So why do filmmakers take us into classrooms to primarily watch and listen to teachers? The answer of course is because way, way too many teachers talk way, way too much. And that teacher-centered model has seeped into our consciousness to the point that it’s rarely questioned.

Postscript: Clearly, no sophomore slump for Ted Lasso. Still so well written. A wonderful mix of intelligence, humor, and humanity.  

Clickbait

Sprawled out on beach towels at bucolic Tolmie State Park, the twenty something daughters  explain the concept of “clickbait” to their Sexty Sixty momsie.

“I follow a photographer mom’s blog who often titles her posts something like “We’re Having A Baby. Just to get you to click on it. But then you quickly find out that they’re ‘talking about maybe having another baby sometime or not'”.

Which got me thinking about the humble blog. Given the late summer doldrums, maybe it needs a jolt of clickbait. Why fight the fake news, maybe I should just Sheryl Sandberg into it. So look for upcoming posts tentatively titled. . .

  • My Brush With Death
  • The President Called Me About Afghanistan
  • I’m Starting My Own Business
  • I Dunked On Rudy Gobert
  • I Had Two Holes-In-One In One Round
  • I Hacked Rate-My-Professor
  • We’re Having A Baby

Just Call Me ‘Ron’

Stop Calling Professors ‘Professor’. Nicely argued.

I’ve always asked my students to call me Ron. Partly because my first college teaching gig was at a Quaker institution which tried to be egalitarian. Mostly though because I’m wired to be informal. 

Some students are down with it from the get-go, for others it takes getting used to. They’re almost disappointed, as if they want me to be a know-it-all. It doesn’t take me long to disabuse them of that notion.

One of my first high school students in Los Angeles called me a “tough, young buck from UCLA”. That was cool, but don’t use any of my nicknames like Slip or HD (Heavy Duty), that’s a bridge too far. Oh, except one nickname is fine, Birdie*. You can use that one whenever you’d like. 

*Compliments of Lou Matz in high school. Sigh, these days on Western Washington links, I’m known as Bogey Byrnes. 

Paragraph To Ponder—Self Delusion Edition

“Donald Trump is writing a book. And, as with all things Donald Trump does, he is already marketing it with a combination of hyperbole and outright lies. Although the former president has boasted that rights to a memoir about his political career—the ‘book of all books’—are being fought over by major publishers, and that he has already turned down ‘very substantial offers’ from ‘two of the biggest and most prestigious publishing houses,’ reporters have uncovered zero evidence to substantiate his claims. According to Politico, none of the editors and publishers contacted at the Big Five publishing houses—Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, and Simon & Schuster—said they were aware of any such offer. One source was openly ‘skeptical’ of his claims. ‘He’s screwed over so many publishers that before he ran for president, none of the big 5 would work with [him] anymore,’ the source told Politico.”

I can hear him now, “I NEED you to find me 11,780 more readers!”

Postscript: Awkward.

I Got Into A Fight

A week ago and lost bigly. The saddest part, it was the fourth time I went into our green space to trim bushes and weed underneath them ignorant of the poison oak lying in wait. For 48 hours I was fine, and then, not so much. I will spare you the pictures which I should sell to a medical textbook publisher.

The poison oak plague is just one of repeated health challenges I’ve been struggling with this spring. Challenges that have left me with less energy to read, think, and write.

I’ve been reminded that control is elusive and life is fragile. Eating well, running, swimming, and cycling doesn’t guarantee anything.

If I come out the other side more appreciative of my health and whatever time I have left, my travails will have been worth it.

The Genius Of Kenny Mayne

Bummer start to the day.

Reading the responses on Twitter was illuminating. Who knew so many other people appreciate Mayne’s unrivaled, irreverent sense of humor as much as me.  

Here’s one example among thousands.

At 1:27 Mayne delivers the best sports comedy line of all time, “The engraver uses ‘Skin So Soft’ to remove the name.”

Rachel Nichols on Mayne:

So many people use sarcasm as a crutch to be mean. @Kenny_Mayne‘s secret sauce is sarcasm as a weapon for compassion, brilliant observations mixed with a sense of wonder & appreciation for the good.”

Damn the ESPN bean counters.

What My Critics Get Wrong

I refer to this as the “humble blog” because of the small readership. I routinely get proposals from search engine optimizers (presumably from India) who promise an increase in readership as a result of their coding prowess. But their pitches are impersonal and expensive, so you remain a part of a highly selective group of readers. 

Given that reality, I can’t afford to alienate any loyal readers, but that’s exactly what I did when I flippantly wrote that I wouldn’t be voting for Biden at age 82 in 2024. Check that, in hindsight, it wasn’t flippant, it was a semi-thought out point of view which of course anyone can disagree.

But one friend didn’t just disagree, he declared he was done with the humble blog. Who knew I was committing an unforgivable sin. Another very good friend somehow colluded with the first from across the country to ask if I’d vote for an assortment of especially revolting right-wing nut jobs if they ran against The Octogenarian.   

Since the infamous post first appeared, The Former Reader sent me a few text messages about “probably being too old” for this or that. For the record, he is 63 years young. Finally, a light bulb went off, he took it personally. Somehow, me not wanting an 86 year old President was saying his own expiration date was fast approaching. I wonder if the same is true for his Fellow Critic, who is two years the President’s junior.

That most certainly was not my intent. I would vote for both of my friends for President without hesitation. Here’s hoping someone shares that sentiment with The Former Reader.

The Former Reader’s and Fellow Critic’s doomsday electoral hypotheticals distract from the key question. Why the hell should any national political party have to settle for someone so elderly for one of the most difficult and important jobs in the world? Is there no man or woman as well qualified in their 40’s? What about their 50’s? 60’s? 70’s? An 82-86 year old Biden might do okay, and Fred Couples might win the Masters, but the odds are a lot better that Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, or Dustin Johnson is sporting the green jacket Sunday night. I probably won’t be voting for Biden in 2024, because I’ll be playing the odds.  

I do not expect this elaboration to have any salutary effect on my critics, known and unknown. In fact, I’ve probably just stepped into it a little deeper. Fellow Critic despises golf, so he’ll probably cancel me too. 

If a blog post falls in the forest, does anyone hear it?