The only way to defeat Trump and his supporters

It’s about tribalism. You cannot work with Trumpists. Period. You must defeat them and then fix the problems that handed them control.

It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into. – Jonathan Swift

Since the moment of Campaign 2016 when it became clear that Donald Trump actually had a chance, a lot of people have done a lot of thinking and pontificating and punditofying and writing and hand-wringing about the reasons for his viability. On one end of the spectrum: Donald gave the drooling, racist, misogynist, xenophobic, ignorant, anti-intellectual, hillbillies a cynical, smirking, dog-whistling charlatan they could line up behind. On the other, we’ve had all manner of thoughtful, complex analyses about how economic anxiety (and utter despair) fueled the rise of a non-partisan populist backlash against a political establishment that has spent decades betraying those it represents.

Both versions are compelling because each was built on a measure of observable truth. Continue reading “The only way to defeat Trump and his supporters”

The twisting, capricious nature of “blessings”

CATEGORY: PersonalNarrativeYesterday was … unsettling. Any time you’re meeting with your physician and the words “brain tumor” come out of her mouth, it’s going to make you sit up a little straighter, even if she’s mostly dismissing it as a possibility. Mostly.

As I have noted before, I suffer from a disorder that causes significant vertigo issues and, commencing in the past few years, a condition called Nystagmus. In 2007 I visited a top dizziness expert at the University of Colorado medical center in hopes of finding some good news. I submitted to many tests and the diagnosis was a degenerative inner ear disorder. It was going to get worse, I was told. Also, people who suffer from diseases like this one enjoy an exceptionally high suicide rate. (Although, perhaps “enjoy” isn’t quite the right word.)

I had been a very active athlete my whole life, but not any more. Continue reading “The twisting, capricious nature of “blessings””

Adrian Peterson and the glacial pace of cultural evolution

Reach out and touch me now
Aphrodite said
You aren’t the only one
with armies in your head

Adrian-PetersonI guess I take the Adrian Peterson story personally, for reasons I wrote about back in 2011. To this day I remember the pain that was inflicted on me by those I loved, and who loved me. Pain inflicted because they loved me, so much that they would have laid down their lives for me without question. But in their minds, if they spared the rod they were hurting me.

It warps you, in a way. It makes you associate pain with love and justice. And at 53, I have accepted that I will never quite be okay because of it.

Cultural evolution is a slow and sometimes painful thing. What is obvious to you and me today will be obvious to everyone eventually, but eventually might mean 20 years. Continue reading “Adrian Peterson and the glacial pace of cultural evolution”

Roger Goodell, Kabuki journalism and #StandYourGround

I rarely criticize people for overthinking. I mean, this is #Merica. How often do I get a chance? This nation has its problems, but we’re not prone to overthinking.

Still, every once in a while we do wander further down the rabbit hole than is necessary. Take this whole fire Roger Goodell thing. Should he be fired because he lied? Well, if that’s proven, sure. Should he be fired for presiding over an inept operation? Maybe – if that video was in the building and he didn’t know, then that’s a problem.

But it’s really simpler than that. Continue reading “Roger Goodell, Kabuki journalism and #StandYourGround”

An open letter to Janay Rice

Dear Janay,

The last few weeks have undoubtedly been difficult ones for you, and the last couple of days have probably been among the most trying of your life. I can imagine that you’re torn so many ways, and since I have never been in the position you’re in – have never experienced anything remotely like it – imagine is about all I can do. And speculate. I guess we all speculate. We can’t help it.

But you said something today that I just can’t let go. You said:

I love my husband. I support him. I want people to respect our privacy in this family matter.

Continue reading “An open letter to Janay Rice”

Can we get Donald Sterling and Rochelle Sterling and V Stiviano on The Jerry Springer Show?

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote this:

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.

William Gibson took it a step further. Continue reading “Can we get Donald Sterling and Rochelle Sterling and V Stiviano on The Jerry Springer Show?”

Online dating tips: tell OK Cupid you’re looking for the opposite of what you really want

Childless in Seattle? Not for long. Jim, let’s meet those bachelorettes.

If you were to review my OK Cupid profile, you’d find this:

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 7.26.53 PM

And, just to be clear, this:

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 7.28.12 PM

So today, OK Cupid e-mailed me this: Continue reading “Online dating tips: tell OK Cupid you’re looking for the opposite of what you really want”

Brendan Eich case raises free speech issues for people who don’t understand how free speech works

No, Virginia. Intolerance of intolerance isn’t the same as intolerance of human beings.

When it became public that recently appointed Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich had donated to the controversial anti-gay rights Prop 8 initiative in California back in 2008, things – as we used to say back home – blowed up. Rarebit yanked an app from the Mozilla marketplace and in a highly visible move, dating site OK Cupid asked its users not to access the site with Mozilla’s Firefox browser.

Eich fought back, and we witnessed a couple of days of textbook crisis management as the company (and its under-fire CEO) worked to convince the world that a person’s official and personal beliefs can be compartmentalized – that is, you can be anti-equality in your private life but suitably inclusive at work. Continue reading “Brendan Eich case raises free speech issues for people who don’t understand how free speech works”

NaPoWriMo 2014: write like nobody’s reading

National Poetry Writing Month begins today. Will you write 30 poems in 30 days?

Well, no. I won’t, not me personally. I retired from writing poetry a couple years ago. But before I did I wrote four books and am currently looking to publish them, so I definitely salute the annual celebration of the art.

Here at S&R we have a deep and abiding respect for verse, and we encourage you to break out the quill and parchment (if you don’t have a quill and parchment pen and paper, or even a word processing package such as Microsoft Word will do) and get your poetry on. Continue reading “NaPoWriMo 2014: write like nobody’s reading”

Should your son join a fraternity? Read this. Right now.

Dear Parents: if your son goes to college, joins a fraternity and screws up, you could lose your home.

Do I have your attention yet?

How many times in my adult life have I heard this?

YOU were in a fraternity?

Doc Sammy, in another life.
Doc Sammy, in another life.

Yes I was. Theta Chi, Gamma Omicron chapter, Wake Forest University. I know, I don’t fit the stereotype. Neither did my chapter. Sure, we had parties. We drank, sometimes more than was strictly healthy. We were appropriately hormonal for a pack of 18-22 year-old guys. We were noisy and obnoxious and occasionally rude, especially when singing a rousing round of “Roll Out Your Mother” during Parents Weekend football games.

But consider this. Theta Chi, during Spring Rush of 1980, was the first place in my life I ever heard anyone talk about diversity. Today, of course, diversity is a critical concept in corporations, in schools, in government, everywhere. We are becoming a more diverse nation that promotes equal rights and standing for people of all races, for women, and finally for the LGBT community.

I’ve been paid by large corporations to develop diversity training, in fact, and what a wonderful irony that my first introduction to the importance of the concept came in a fraternity. Continue reading “Should your son join a fraternity? Read this. Right now.”

Dear women of Match.com and OK Cupid: WTF is wrong with you?

Women – and men – in online dating communities are acting like goddamned sociopaths. This needs to stop.

Okay, not all of you. But some of you. Men, too – I’m guessing this isn’t just women. See if you recognize yourselves below.

On multiple occasions I’ve been talking to women I met through OK Cupid. Things going great, we really seem to be hitting it off, and then we agree to meet. The woman has even been the one asking me out, in fact. I say yes, then … poof. Gone without a trace. Never hear from her again.

This is odd behavior, especially when she just asked me out, right? Am I saying yes wrong? WTF? Continue reading “Dear women of Match.com and OK Cupid: WTF is wrong with you?”

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Black Thursday

Thanksgiving is now Black Thursday and Black Friday is upon us: what should America not be thankful for?

The nation gives thanks … for what?

I was never a William Burroughs fan, but I nonetheless find myself thinking about his 1986 “Thanksgiving Prayer,” surely one of the most caustic (and insightful) takes on our great American holiday. I’m in this sort of mood for a reason. Or two, or three.

First off, you may have noticed all the static around the news that more and more businesses will be open today, getting a jump on tomorrow’s appalling orgy of consumerism, Black Friday. That term originated in the early 1960s, apparently, with bus drivers and the police, who used it to describe the mayhem surrounding the biggest shopping day of the year. Continue reading “Thanksgiving is now Black Thursday and Black Friday is upon us: what should America not be thankful for?”

Online dating: the physical attraction problem

In order for an online dating service to work, it has to reliably move people past the merely physical and help them perceive their match’s real attractiveness.

In a post a couple weeks ago I mused about how the online dating world is plagued by what I guess we’ll call the “physical attraction problem.” I touched of a bit of controversy, both here and on Facebook, because there was some disconnect between what I set out to say and what people wound up hearing. Perhaps that’s on me. In any case, the question of attraction is important if we’re ever to improve on our current trainwreck of an online dating system.

I’ve been thinking about these issues, for reasons noted in that top link, and I can’t help feeling like the single biggest hurdle to getting from Match.com to something that actually works for people is physical attraction. Continue reading “Online dating: the physical attraction problem”

The real problem with online dating

Online dating sucks, especially for a guy like me. There has to be a better way.

Match.com sucks. eHarmony sucks. OK Cupid sucks. Plenty of Fish really sucks. (Although, it should be noted, at least those last two have the advantage of being free.) I assume that Christian Mingle sucks, although perhaps in ways I haven’t thought about yet.

I hate online dating, and if the comment threads on Lisa Barnard’s much-read post and my own critique of the process from last year are any indication, a lot of you do, too. It’s shallow, it inspires dishonesty and while there are certainly cases where people find happiness with online dating sites, I suspect the most common case is frustration and a general decrease in the ambient self-esteem levels of those participating. Continue reading “The real problem with online dating”

Happy Father’s Day: “The Day Daddy Died”

Today is Father’s Day, and S&R would like to wish a happy one to America’s dads.

At the same time, and in the contrary spirit that often typifies what we do around here, I’d like to be the one who acknowledges that our relationships with our fathers are often less than we’d hope for. Frankly, some dads are complete bastards, and in many cases they’re probably at least a complex mixed bag. And why not – being a parent is hard, I’m told. This basic reality makes the guys who get it right even more worthy of our love and respect.

It’s no worse than fair to say that my own father lived his life out between Mixed Bagville and the untamed Bastardlands, and truth be told I have a hard time remembering him as more good than bad. Continue reading “Happy Father’s Day: “The Day Daddy Died””

Parenting in the age of (runaway) digital media

A newly released report from the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern University tells us some things we probably already know and some other things that ought to disturb us a little. Our good friend Dr. Lynn Schofield Clark, author of The Parent App, walks us through the main findings and offers some analysis in a post at Psychology Today, and it’s worth a read, especially if you’re  a parent. On the “we knew that” front, Clark notes that modern parents are “much more comfortable with communication technologies than were the generation of parents who preceded them” and that “these parents are … Continue reading Parenting in the age of (runaway) digital media

Corporate prison thugs: things getting even worse for the Wierdsma family

Boulder DA: Is it wrong to give false testimony to a federal agency? Thomas Wierdsma: No, happens all the time. We reported a couple of times late last year on the outrageous case of Charles and Thomas Wierdsma. Charles is a corporate prisons executive (The GEO Group) who routinely beat his wife and Thomas, his dad (a GEO Group Sr. VP),  threatened to use his federal government connections to get her deported if she didn’t shut up and like it. GEO Group bills itself as “the world’s leading provider of correctional and detention management and community reentry services to federal, state and … Continue reading Corporate prison thugs: things getting even worse for the Wierdsma family

Dumb jock? Hardly: Scott Fujita absolutely nails it on gay marriage (and civil rights generally)

If you only read one thing today, make it this. Scott Fujita of the Cleveland Browns reflects on what it means in a society when some people are regarded as “less than” others. A snip: I support marriage equality for so many reasons: my father’s experience in an internment camp and the racial intolerance his family experienced during and after the war, the gay friends I have who are really not all that different from me, and also because of a story I read a few years back about a woman who was denied the right to visit her partner … Continue reading Dumb jock? Hardly: Scott Fujita absolutely nails it on gay marriage (and civil rights generally)