Paragraph To Ponder

“In July, the I.M.F. estimated that an investment of $50 billion in a comprehensive campaign for vaccination and other virus control efforts would generate some $9 trillion in additional global output by 2025 — a ratio of 180 to 1. What investment could hope to yield a higher rate of return? And yet none of the members of the Group of 20 have stepped up, not Europe, not the United States, not even China. Billions of people will be forced to wait until 2023 to receive even their first shot.”

Adam Tooze, What if the Coronavirus Crisis Is Just a Trial Run?

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

What I’m Listening To

Podcast. The Rise & Fall of Mars Hill by Christianity Today. Places the church’s decline in a broad sociological context, excellent production quality. Central question—Why do people keep elevating charismatic leaders whose fame and lack of character is their undoing? 

Related. Fav podcast host, Jack Hough, Barron’s Streetwise. Can’t get enough of his self deprecating sense of humor, smarts, and personality more generally. 

Music. Leon Bridges Essentials, Apple Music. Dig this profile of Bridges

Forgive Me, For I Have Sinned

On Sunday I was fine cycling up Mount Saint Helen’s until I wasn’t. My legs mutinied during the last few miles before the top, cramping so badly that any pedaling was tough. Five salt tablets, gels packed with more sodium, a protein bar, and four bottles of gatorade weren’t enough when the cramping went from bad to worse on the return. 

From the top of the volcano you descend very quickly for about 6 miles and then climb about 8 more before descending another 23 to the start (74 miles total, 6,900′ of elevation). For the first time in 15-20 years I had to stop on a mountain climb about 3-4 miles from the last top at Elk Rock. I found some shade on the other side of Spirit Hwy and attempted to sit down on the shoulder and I don’t know what, stretch I guess. Problem was my knees wouldn’t bend so I basically fell over while holding my bike which end up resting on my shoulder and neck. 

A car stopped. It was the Park Ranger/Angel who topped off our water bottles at the closed Visitor’s Center at the top 45 minutes earlier. “Are you alright?!” “Yes,” I lied, “but I have 3-4 miles to go to meet up with my friends and I’m a little worried they’re gonna wonder what happened to me.” He took off and informed them that I was near dead on the shoulder 3.5 miles below, but would be along eventually. 

Time will tell what the Cosmos will extract from me for lying to the best Park Ranger ever. In my defense, he was driving a Honda Civic, so it wasn’t like he could transport Blanca and me to the top of the climb. He did ask if I had water though and although I had one bottle left at that point, it was dumb (even by my standards) not to take him up on the offer of more. 

Without my friends shepherding me down the mountain, I would’ve been in trouble because I would’ve been in the hot sun another 20 minutes without enough liquid. Pro-tip, if you ever SLAM into the wall on your bike in the mountains, do it in the company of Mark, Allen, and Dennis. 

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How many salt tablets does a guy need to take?

Paragraphs To Ponder—Haiti

By Maria Abi-Habib.

“With broken bones and open wounds, the injured jammed into damaged hospitals or headed to the airport, hoping for mercy flights out. A handful of doctors toiled all night in makeshift triage wards. A retired senator used his seven-seat propeller plane to ferry the most urgent patients to emergency care in the capital.

A day after a magnitude-7.2 earthquake killed at least 1,300 people and injured thousands in western Haiti, the main airport of the city of Les Cayes was overwhelmed Sunday with people trying to evacuate their loved ones to Port-au-Prince, the capital, about 80 miles to the east.

There wasn’t much choice. With just a few dozen doctors available in a region that is home to one million people, the quake aftermath was turning increasingly dire.

‘I’m the only surgeon over there,’ said Dr. Edward Destine, an orthopedic surgeon, waving toward a temporary operating room of corrugated tin set up near the airport in Les Cayes. ‘I would like to operate on 10 people today, but I just don’t have the supplies,’ he said, listing an urgent need for intravenous drips and even the most basic antibiotics.

The earthquake was the latest calamity to convulse Haiti, which is still living with the aftereffects of a 2010 quake that killed an estimated quarter-million people. Saturday’s quake came about five weeks after the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated, leaving a leadership vacuum in a country already grappling with severe poverty and rampant gang violence.”

Postscript.