And The Winner Is

In the (dis)United States, politics has become an intense, zero-sum competition. No one is ever changing their mind again. Neighbors signal their team affiliation with signage like TikTok’s Tony and Ezekiel.

We’ve become way too competitive for our own good, and yet, to differing degrees, we’re wired for competition. So what are we to do?

There are lots of different non-political ways to get our competition fix. We should turn our attention to them.

Professional soccer is alive and kicking. As is professional basketball and golf. Maybe we should argue about the Lakers and Clippers chances of winning it all. Or Milwaukee’s? Or be like the young dude on Harrison who when he saw Blanca and me ride up to him Tuesday morn, dug down and rode especially hard to make sure we knew he was faster. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. That’s the spirit.

Psychologists refer to it as displacement.

Or compete with those closest to you. Who does more of the household work or runs more of the errands or listens better? That always ends well. Or see if you can choose the fastest check-out line at the grocery store like me. Or be the driver who gets the most miles per gallon for your model of car like me. Or see who can save the most money in a month by not eating out and other self-imposed austerity measures. Or see who can collect the most masks. Or see who knows the most people at the farmer’s market.

If we just turn off the cable news and unplug from our devices, the possibilities are endless.

I’ll start. No more politics for me. For at least a few hours.

 

 

 

Pandemic Ponderings

  • I’m worried about one of the humble blog’s most faithful readers, MZ, who is the Seattle Mariners #1 fan. I hope she is doing okay without beisbol. Then again, as a Mariner fan, she’s proven to be extremely tough, so she’ll probably be fine.
  • Sigh. Tomorrow would be the men’s NCAA national championship basketball game between the surprise of the tournament, the UCLA Bruins, and Dayton.
  • If the Royal and Ancient really follows through on cancelling the The Open Championship, MZ and all of the humble blog’s loyalists should begin worrying about me. Why go on living?
  • The key to surviving our lockdown is going to bed with a clean kitchen. If I keep waking to a clean kitchen, I could do this for a very long time. Then again, I’m an introvert and I’ve been cutting my own hair for decades.
  • How much $ have I saved cutting my hair over the decades? Where is that $?
  • ESPN is considering televising a game of H-O-R-S-E. They are almost having as hard a time with this pandemic as the Trump administration.
  • After considerable thought, I’ve decided not to wear a mask and instead just pop the malaria pills I have leftover from my last trip to Africa.
  • To young scientists just getting going, epidemiology is sexy.
  • Pray for my soul. I will not be going to church on-line.

 

 

 

 

Trump’s Triumphs

A friend dislikes the President’s personal style, but supports his policies. I’m baffled by his ability to compartmentalize. Most people, like me, do or don’t give a politician the benefit of the doubt based upon their personal feelings for them.

That sure seemed to be the case among conservatives during the Obama years.

I strongly dislike the President’s personal attributes. In fact, he’s a composite of my least favorite attributes—a serial braggart; dishonest; incurious, sexist; racist; xenophobic; insecure; uncaring; coarse; and most of all, self-centered. If I walked up to the first tee of a golf course as a single, and the starter asked if I’d like to join the President’s threesome, I’d pass.

I also dislike the people he keeps company with and his privileging of money above everything else no matter the issue. Yesterday, he tweeted, “Just spoke to my friend MBS (Crown Prince) of Saudi Arabia. . . .” MBS, one of the few people on the planet whose megalomania rivals his own and the person who oversaw the grisly murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The take-away is sickening—you can dismember the body of an American journalist if you buy enough military hardware.

Apart from material gain, I don’t know what he stands for.

And yet, the more critical I am of the President, the more my conservative friends are critical of me. For being divisive. For not giving him any credit for anything. For being predictable.

I’ll never conform to their way of thinking, but I never want to be predictable. Then again, most partisans, meaning all of us these days, are so predictable as to be boring. We pretty much know what each other is going to write and say, how each other is going to vote.

So in the spirit of fairness, a mental exercise. I’m going to give the President credit for some things. Maybe this exercise will inspire my conservative friends to do the same, in retrospect, in the context of the Obama years.

As this pandemic makes painfully clear, I believe the President’s intense isolationism is a grievous mistake; however, I applaud his reticence to use military power to solve international problems. He has done a very good job not starting any wars.

He also has done a good job getting other developed countries to pay a fairer share of their security needs. There’s no reason for us to float anyone anymore.

And, despite his nonsense about China paying the tariffs*, his administration has done a good job laying the groundwork to reduce the US-China trade deficit, which is unsustainable.

And, as his daily press conferences illustrate, he’s a master communicator. Just contrast him with Pence who will put you asleep faster than a million melatonin. Of course a lot of what he says is patently false, which makes for an extremely dangerous combination. His base cares more about how he communicates than whether he’s truthful or not. They like how he makes them feel better about themselves, and at the same time, aggrieved by secular elites and liberal media. But I digress. In short, I don’t like what he says, but I concede he combines very simple language, intonations, and idiosyncratic syntax extremely effectively.

That’s the best I can do. We now return to regular programming.

*economists are clear, US consumers pay them in increased prices

Weekend Assorted Links

1. Radical Survival Strategies for Struggling Colleges.

“Moody’s projects that the pace of closings will soon reach 15 per year.”

Sobering. How will my employer, Pacific Lutheran University fare? If it was a stock, I would not buy it because of the larger context, but I am cautiously optimistic about our future because our brand new president is as smart an entrepreneur as I’ve known. He’s quickly learned about the never ending peculiarities of academic culture and faculty-based governance. But the Warriors may not have much success this year even with Steve Kerr as coach.

2. Payne Stewart’s daughter writes him a letter twenty years after his tragic death.

“People say time heals all wounds, but I don’t believe that. Sure, as the years have gone by, I’ve learned how to manage my sadness in losing you. But the pain never really goes away. I think about you every day, miss you every day.”

3. It turns out there are (really) bad questions.

4. How to Travel Like a Local. Thorough.

5. Why Don’t Rich People Just Stop Working?

“Are the wealthy addicted to money, competition, or just feeling important? Yes.”

6. Song of the week. So effortless.

Andrew Luck’s Sudden Retirement From Football

The 29 year old Indianapolis Colts quarterback making $35m/year suddenly retired Saturday. Everyone is shocked, including me, but for a different reason than most.

Over his injury riddled career, the Stanford grad made $100m on the field and lots more off of it. If Luck earns 4% on 150m he’ll have $6m a year to decide how to spend the rest of his life. He should be okay especially since he’s said he is going to make Indianapolis home.

What’s most shocking about his retirement is that it’s not more common. I don’t understand why more elite players who have made $10m+ don’t quit before their brains and bodies begin breaking down.

Scientists know football players are at risk from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries. These are 25 year olds who have another 50-75 to go. Professional football players keep getting larger and faster. Playing professional football is often compared to getting in a car crash every Sunday.

The Colts owner says Luck is passing up $450m in future salary. So what. What is the value of one’s brain and body?

How much money is enough, $150 million no doubt, but why not $5m? Spend and invest smartly and watch it grow over time. Why aren’t many more players heading for the exits. Why isn’t Chris Borland the model?

Early during Sunday’s training ride, six cycling friends and I buzzed Tumwater High School. Cars lined both sides of the street for half a mile. Pop Warner junior football is alive and well in Tumwater, WA. Which I find perplexing.

It makes perfect sense that parents want their children to play sports, but why choose the one where one’s health is most likely to be compromised. Tradition?

Why choose football when there are innumerable safer options? Case in point. You may have missed it, but Sunday in Atlanta Rory McIlroy made $15m by winning professional golf’s final playoff tournament. Hitting a golf ball, not being hit. Don’t expect him to retire anytime soon.

 

 

A Little Lost This Morning

The Open Championship is over. Final rest day at the Tour de France.

The Open Championship is the best golf tournament in the world. Way more inclusive than the other three majors. Way more authentic than the Masters. I love seeing the players sporting winter hats, with the sideways rain, playing from hellish pot bunkers and gorse. Port Rush Ireland is one of the more beautiful settings for golf I’ve ever seen. It boggles my mind that fewer than 2m people live in North Ireland and 237,000 watched the Championship live.

Irish passion for golf was evident in Rory’s Friday charge, all the Irish player’s comments, and Lowry’s 63 on Saturday. Professional golf doesn’t get any better than that. Only wish I had been there.

And the outcome of le Tour is still up in the air after two weeks. Given the weakness of his team, I do not think 2 minutes is enough of a cushion for Alaphilippe. Of course, we’ll probably have to wait 8 years to determine the winner.

Thanks to this movie preview, which gave me an Open Championship like jolt of joy, I think I’ll be okay today.

Lost in Tiger’s Masters Victory

Understandably, all of the post tourney press is about Tiger’s comeback from professional golf oblivion. Best comeback in the history of sports many argue.

But just like a year ago, when the University of Virginia basketball team became the first #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed in the NCAA tournament, many no doubt missed Francesco Molinari’s master class in gracious losing.

A year ago, after the unlikeliest of defeats, Tony Bennett:

And Sunday afternoon in Augusta, Georgia, Francesco Molinari, taking a page from Bennett’s book:

“I think I made some new fans today with those two double bogeys.” Best runner up interview and line ever. If only all of us were half as centered. As with Bennett, look for Molinari in green sometime soon.

Postscript: How does one explain how Molinari could so surgically make his way around Augusta for 65 holes, then suddenly, as they sometimes say, throw up all over himself? My theory is it had nothing to do with bad swings or Tiger’s death stare, it’s that he could only hold off the weight of the spectators (spare me the “patron” bullshit) for so long. He wasn’t just battling Tiger and numerous other Americans, he was fighting the legion of Tiger fans. How dare anyone, let alone a foreign player, spoil the ending! An empty course and the two stroke cushion he began with is enough to hold Tiger off. Tiger, in other words, owes his victory to the multitudes.