“Perfect Call”

I can’t believe the President released the memo. What’s next, his taxes?

After reading the memo, as bad as things are in the (dis)United States, I feel even worse for the people of Ukraine given their comedian President whose ass kissing is more sickening than funny.

Informative twitter thread on the memo by Brad Simpson, University of Connecticut historian. Starts here.

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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.

 

 

 

 

“I Just Gave Her Room To Grow”

Would the last blogger please turn out the lights. All the cool kids are podcasting, fortunately though, some wonderful writers are still sharing hidden gems like this heartwarming essay from an acquaintance of mine to her seventeen year-old daughter.

Sister Golden Hair Surprise.

Marycake CAN flat out write. Her eloquent description of parenting being a steady mix of joy and sadness perfectly described my experience of co-parenting two daughters a decade older than hers.

This excerpt of hers surfaces a dilemma a lot of my friends, especially female ones who parented full-time, have struggled with as their children have reached adulthood and moved out.

“Watching my daughter grow into young womanhood so focused, imaginative and bold, has made me wonder how my life would have been different if I had taken, Dare Greatly, as my motto, or Live Out Loud? Or just Be a Great Girl? But you know, it feels late to change. I am so caught up in observing the unfolding wonder of my daughters’ lives, (and in driving them all over creation) that it’s exhausting to imagine doing much with mine except laundry, or making vague threats about dressing down the boys who come around.”

No one teaches parents who parent full-time for long stretches of time how to balance their selfless care for their children with their own personal growth. In particular, with the best of intentions, parents privileged to stay home with their children sometimes loose themselves in their parenting resulting in a parent-child interdependence that complicates the tough enough already transition to young adulthood.

Sometimes so much that when their young adult children move out the parents miss their children more than the children miss them.

The challenge is how do full-time parents maintain some semblance of autonomy when so enmeshed in their childrens’ lives for a decade or two? Parenting is so time and energy consuming, how do full-time parents in particular maintain outside interests, meaningful relationships with other adults, and a some sense of purpose that extends beyond their child or children?

I wonder, for those of us who are either approaching 50 or older, is the answer not to parent so intensely?

I think so.

“I just gave her room to grow,” Marycake says a few times.

Like every parent, Marycake is nostalgic for her family’s past. Despite that, she seems to be avoiding the psychological and spiritual downsides that tend to accompany long-term, extreme child-centeredness.

 

 

 

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.

How Not To Apologize

Another master class, this time from Shane Gillis.

From today’s New York Times—Shane Gillis Dropped From ‘S.N.L.’ Cast Among Criticism For Racist Slurs. Shortest S.N.L. career ever.

After being caught uttering racist shit on tape and film Gillis apologized by saying, “I’m happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said.”

I’m guessing he could’ve salvaged the biggest break in his life had he shown genuine remorse, by you know, mentioning specific things he said that were hateful and the specific people most effected. But obviously, he felt so little remorse, he couldn’t fake it.

His non-apology apology translates this way, “Screw any and all of you who are too sensitive for your own good.” A sentiment that always works wonders when reconciling with others.

National Greatness Reconsidered

Team USA is doing poorly in the World Cup of Basketball which is also serving as a 2020 Olympic qualifier. Even though several top NBA players chose not to play on Team USA, many US fans still assumed the team would prevail. Now they are disappointed.

The new international basketball reality, the world has closed the considerable gap the US historically had in basketball dominance, makes me wonder why the men’s US National Soccer Team is still a third or fourth tier program?

Much more importantly, why do we let our country’s athletic performances influence what we think about ourselves? At all.

It’s odd isn’t it, the way we count Olympic medals and feel a little better about ourselves, at least temporarily, when our countrymen/women excel in international competition.

Like most places, in the US we watch our teams closely and cheer them passionately, while we simultaneously incarcerate more people, childhood poverty and homelessness increases, gun violence persists, environmental regulations are undone, and loneliness and mental health challenges mount.

If we have to compete, why don’t we change the parameters? How about a World Cup of Prison Reform. The country that reduces their prison population and recidivism the most wins. The World Cup of Childhood Poverty and Homelessness. The country that moves the largest percentage of children out of poverty and reduces their homelessness population the most wins. The World Cup of Public Safety. The World Cup of Environmental Protection. The World Cup of Social Infrastructure.

Granted, those competitions won’t translate to television and will take a lot longer, but unlike the athletic ones, the outcomes will improve the long-term quality of our lives.