Personal Best: Roger Bannister laps in at 88

    Back in a still rough post-war era reviving personal dreams - measurable, daunting, somehow achievable.

    It's not that other sports measures aren't great, or that the 4-minute mile wasn't in a way much more arbitrary than the ascent of Everest, but still, a definite challenge in an age of breaking the sound barrier and other advances.


    The Accidental Revolution

    A funny thing has happened to the Revolution on steroids that was supposed to take us by storm. The complaints that would define us turned out to be lukewarm after all (seems whites in flyover country were less than worried about jobs, and the need for free education hasn't been dominating the front pages (yet?), while others like $12/$15 minimum wage are less than likely to get a national listening under current government).

    But several issues have gained traction - some old, some new, some red, some blue... #MeToo may be receiving some deflection, but it appears it's real beyond pink pussyhats and the casting couches of Hollywood. Even Fox had a heretic on its CPAC review, and tried quickly to veer off into "poor accused men", before going viral.

    #RussiaGate is now in full scandal mode with domestic and foreign indictments, full charges against Manafort, Gates in full confessional flip mode, and the Nunes Memo now rebutted and exploded all over GOP faces.

    #BlackLivesMatter is a thing - the smear job against black athletes has finally failed, and worries about blacks' security and well-being have gained prominence over traditional canards about the troops and the needs of sport fans, while Michael Steele just blew the racist club out of the CPAC water.

    Feeding the Dinosaurs: The Death of Movement 2.0

    I'm going to do what I largely dislike doing - linking to a New Republic article instead of writing me own blog piece - because it needs to be discussed.

    10 years ago we'd won the Presidential election, and had introduced a new modern style of grassroots participation that had started with Howard Dean's shortlived efforts in 2004.

    Battle of the Sexes: On Bonsai Trees & Suburban Myths

    A quote recently about men's role in the changing state of affairs (pardon the pun) struck me as rather bitchy and dismissive: "Oh, how fragile is the ego of a man. We must never let him feel like a bonsai in a grove of California redwoods..." The same article goes on to note men's time spent with children nearing women's (ignoring any Roy Moore jokes there). So why the insult and calumny? It's not like men aren't evolving to meet the changing societal situation, whatever the headlines. It's also not like men aren't on the brutal receiving end of many of these changes.

    Battle of the Sexes: War's not the absence of Peace

    Once upon a time in a land far away, we had big people and smaller people, and the bigger people largely took care of the smaller people and the smaller people largely did what the bigger people wanted, and this comic-book characterization carried on for a few millennia. Beneath the cartoonist's rendition, there was a lot of smudgy tawdry goings-on, but in a regular newspaper, you can only get so much detail.

    Eventually people discovered tools, which went from simple stuff like big sticks used as clubs on to more subtle stuff like x-ray spectrometry and online marketing, which confused the hell out of early caveman/woman, but is slowly becoming comprehensible to their descendants.

    Victory for 3rd Way Democrats?

    Well, it's Monday morning, figuratively speaking, and victory has many fathers & mothers while losing's an orphan, as JFK noted. So putting a stake in the ground...

    Has the centrist Democrat revived over the last year? Let's see how this went - Wilmont Collins won as a black Liberian immigrant in Helena - and a member of Child Protection Services and the Naval Reserves - focused on support for the homeless and increased funding for police and fire departments. Can we split that baby any nicer?


    Week in Rear View: All the Kingsmen

    Lost almost an hour's worth of link collecting last night trying to summarize the shape we're in, so here's a quick stab as the news keeps piling up.

    Big news last week was Manafort & Gates being indicted last week & finding out Papodopolous had pled and talked some months ago - Rick Gates being key as he stayed on with Trump's campaign to the end, while Manafort slid out earlier to avoid controversy (but never cut connections), while more of Manafort's ties to Russian mafia/power brokers became public. Judge found this week Manafort's release from home confinement denied as risky. But that quickly led to a slew of other revelations.

    Remember, Trump himself notes he hires all the smart people, the rich people. What you're smelling is the stench of burning braincells and crime cells - ain't it grand?

    On Counts and Balances

    As confirmed this week yet again, a piece of salacious gossip spun silly can travel the world before we put our adult hats - analytic minds for Kahneman fans - back on and rein it in. On the "plus" side, as one commenter noted, we now know the DNC was pants, an accident that already 'appened. On the minus side, we now know:


    Prayer for Atheists & the Culture Wars

    I was thinking of Doc's comment about how prayer is different from meditation, and as the left becomes largely secularized and often atheistic, this difference can have knock-on effects.

    Meditation is more like the hollow bamboo tube - the taking what the universe offers. American ethos isn't like that - we're a demanding bunch, with a "don't tell me what to do mentality". Submissiveness doesn't play well in the heartland.

    Homage to Catalonia: the Conspiracy Factory

    This week we were met with scenes of police removing protesters in Barcelona, with outcries of heavy-handidness by Madrid. Absent the cries of police brutality was any suggestion of how police should handle the unwanted job of removing thousands of protesters, and what is an acceptable level of force - critical to me, as I'd meditated for 2 weeks on horrid images of US police wailing on and pounding a black man's head into the pavement for two minutes, along with unneeded body slams say of a skinny girl in a tight skirt.

    More important, I didn't hear any discussion of what I'd been hearing for weeks - that Putin's bots had turned to fomenting dissension and turmoil in Catalonia, hoping for a final split that would give the EU another crisis to leave it on the ropes. This is impressive,as the story of how Russia manipulated the US election keeps snowballing as one unlikely scenario after another gets divulged.

    The outcome of Catalonia's unapproved referendum will be predictable - the people who will show up will be overly in favor of secession even as the majority may be iffy, and the supposed police overreaction will be presented as proof that Catalonians need independence *now*, fait accompli. Meanwhile Putin must be sniggering in his kofje - not a complaint in sight.

    Hef & the Culture Wars

    There are a million words to be written about the misogyny of Hugh Hefner's mission, many already being jotted down. There's a lot of humor and contempt to be had still for a grown man that liked hanging around in PJs far into adulthood. There's something to be said for his early civil rights support, as testified by Dick Gregory and others. And that lead me to the territory I'd like to address, as it goes to the crux of our recent NFL morass, the need for BLM, last year's election, and a host of other issues.

    Hefner founded the Playboy Club in 1953, not in tinseltown as we recall today but in Chicago, the thriving center of the our still glorious post-war phase. It was a conservative place in a conservative era. It's easy to think of the 50's as some Happy Days thing, Richie Cunningham all fresh and speckled, I like Ike kind of lovely romance with paradise and God-given but deserved success. But most here know that dream of the suburbs and the lucky trip to Vegas was a hyped-up myth, that the house didn't pay out nearly as often as stated, that half the "lucky ones" strolling in and out were shills. And instead of carefully crafted Walt Disney features and Elvis rockumentaries, it was as much about Lenny Bruce and Last Exit to Brooklyn and Naked Lunch and the  National Guard called out to LIttle Rock to enforce integration and McCarthyism and tons of other foul stuff covered with a sanctimonious wholesome totally marketed image in a Golden age of marketing. This was "Family Values", aka "we're Christian and you're not".

    Wanking Weiner

    Well, someone's got their schadenfreude going big time. Anthony Weiner's going to serve hard time, despite having destroyed his marriage and his party's campaign, undergone treatment, expressed remorse in no uncertain terms, for showing his wanker over the internet to purportedly an underage girl*.

    [*there's a whole load of suspicion over whether Russians and/or Republicans set  the known sickie Weiner up with an "underage girl" who seemed to have a Master's degree in English lit from her non-too adolescent literary references. But I guess for now we have to assume it's partly true, police penchant for lying or not.]

    Now let's compare this sentence with say Brock Turner, who raped a comatosely drunk college classmate (didn't even know her name) behind a dumpster, left her with her clothes wrapped around her ankles and her bare ass in the pine needles while Brock the perp tried to run away from 2 Swedes who fortunately happened to notice the ruckus.

    Trade Policy Reality Check - neither Scrooge nor Sucker

    I've noted this over and over, but maybe this one will get through. Below's a chart showing the largest countries. The 2 largest are down at the bottom with pathetic GDP per capita of China's $10K and maybe $4K for India. China has roughly 5x our population, India 4 1/2x. And while their income is awful, China's rose about 500% from super awful over 25 years, while India's has more than tripled.

    For some reason we're not able to ever think of that as *OUR* success, that rather than sending Bibles and powdered milk, we have found a real way to lift almost 3 billion people out of poverty in just 2 countries, and it certainly doesn't end there.

    Of course much of the credit belongs to them - cutting their birthrates drastically, producing productis and services that are wanted by the rest of the world, steady incremental improvements and attention to obvious areas like infrastructure & education, and less obvious ones like government regulations & judicial reform and various human rights. In the meantime, the last 8-10 years, we've been flat.

    The Man Myth

    Ah yes, another firing of an idiot who stated what much of the world believes, that "men are more charismatic performers? ... they work harder? ... they are more driven? Possibly a bit of each."

    Having spent part of the weekend listening to drunken "charismatic performers" at 5 am and the last 1 1/2 years horrified by the latest batch of "more driven" men, I'm still bewildered that people think of this as a plus, as a feature, rather than a grave disqualification, or at minimum a toss-up among other useful measures, such as efficiency, quality of work, consistency, team inspiration & enablement, etc.

    Four Tumors

    John McCain came out of the hospital this week yet again a hero, with all of America cheering him on. Never mind that he was off to do battle against the type of health care that had just saved his life - the free health care that had made his life livable for 50 years since his horrid Vietnam days, while so many other lives slump by.

    But it was 10 months ago that America went ballistic on Hillary Clinton for supposedly hiding something sinister - presumably a tumor tied to a blod clot a few years back, or maybe just maybe Parkinsons, or something else, Wikileaks even going as far as to offer a poll to guess. The Media was hardly down with sympathy at her moment - why hadn't she said she had pneumonia, gasp!?!? why had she covered things up? and lots of bets on when, not if, her demise would come.

    The Nuremberg Defense

    It was summer of 1972 and G. Gordon Liddy along with his plumbers had just broken into the Watergate with the help of some disgruntled Democrats, but gotten caught. Meanwhile, the DNC in a futile attempt at unity had forced the Eagleton choice on McGovern only to see it blow up in his face with stories of psychiatry and electroshock.


    Our techno selves are gaining ground, but despite the Kurzweil singularity and all the promises of our cyberfuture, I'm more interested in stuff.

    A few groups reviewed Lennon's Imagine, with the usual questions of whether it's the drippiest sappiest song ever written, or something of noble spirit with timeless scope.

    But me, I'm looking at these pieces I find strewn about and wonder who's going to take care of them, archive them, re-imagine them in other forms and colors and textures and mashups. An old postcard, a record, a nice rock, a ticket from a concert, an unfinished sketch...

    Our humanity will be determined by what we cling onto. No one will save us from the responsibilities of our own space, no one will clean out that room - that bit's ours, to love, honor and cherish, or simply dispose of through neglect. It's us.

    We keep getting stuck in what other people define for us. How about we just think about what we want to think about, develop what we want to develop. At the end of time, it might just be us, a tent, a campfire, and a tin of beans. Who ever needed more?

    Poof. Like Quinn in space - that's all it ever was, just a promise. And we know about promises.

    Man Made of Clay

    Yesterday was the 1-year anniversary of Ali's passing, and I happened to catch an old 1970 documentary on him a week ago, a.k.a. Cassius Clay. Not only did it bring home how little I knew or remembered of him, it brought home how modern he was - how he would have been perfect in our times, not just the convoluted 60's.

    Ali was articulate. That's usually a pseudo-insult when ascribed to black men, but when juxtaposing a young poor nearly illiterate southern black kid turned boxer vs. a New Yorker raised in riches and supposedly Wharton-educated, it's amazing to see the deftness with which Clay-then-Ali could run circles around his opponents and the press outside the ring as inside. He'd shout, he'd sing, he'd rhyme, he'd talk, God would he talk, making up stuff on the spot, or spouting stuff in tandem with his buddies in his entourage, and he'd get in your head till you couldn't get him out.

    He had that psychological thing worked out. He could have easily outplayed that cast of 16 loser Republicans on the stage last year, messing with them, out-bragging them, laying out in plain detail why he's the champ and they're all chumps, but without Trump's weird hand signals and slow repetition and unbelievable braggadocio.

    Bad Boys/Bad Boys (watcha gonna do...)

    All good fun when Trump or Nugent talk about their "2nd Amendment rights" or bombing Planned Parenthood clinics or "bleeding out of wherever", but make poor Barron have a bad dream and our 1st Amendment rights go out the window - as Kathy Griffin's finding out.

    (as if he hasn't watched Chuckie & other horror movies and not that anyone cared about say Chelsea Clinton's feelings when attacking her father. As if they cared about Seth Rich's family when they made up a fake murder scandal...)

    Fuck them, and fuck all the news outlets that condemned her and censored the photo but refused to take on Trump and the GOP too hard for all their outlandish, violence inciting asshatery where real people got attacked, like that black guy who got punched at a Trump rally, or the reporter who got decked by a Montana Republican candidate. Whiny little bastards can dish it out but squeal about their kids when they get hit back. Sad!, right Donald? And besides, it was just locker room talk, amirite Kathy?

    (And someone's writing Melania's Tweets for her, so don't get me started on her questioning Griffin's psychological health - at least she got rid of the psychopath in her bed, and now we have to sleep with him)



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