I was going to write a birthday post, but most days I feel like I have profoundly screwed up my life, and I have to deal with the overwhelming sense of dread that comes with thinking about how I’ll never get a do-over. So… I wrote this instead.
2018 is bleak. I don’t really like playing the “better” or “worse” game, because human beings have done (and continue to do) some pretty atrocious things. In certain regards, our current time might be “worse” than the world I was born into 35 years ago today, but, then, Ronald Reagan was president when I was born, so worse is truly a relative term.
Your judgment of good or bad, better or worse, depends on what you value. When you’re trying to evaluate the state of the world, you’ll probably run into internal inconsistencies and conflicts about said values, especially if you do the work of asking yourself if your actions support your values.
But to be pleased with living in the US in 2018, then it seems like you would have to value the following:
That said, we had this coming.
I grew up watching The Cosby Show. It’s hard to even think about watching it now, knowing that as it was being filmed and airing on TV, Bill Cosby was (allegedly)* drugging and raping women.
As it comes to light that Kevin Spacey, an actor who starred in some movies I loved (The Usual Suspects, American Beauty, Baby Driver), serially preyed upon young men (also allegedly)*, it makes me question what other terrible things have been done by people whose creative work I have enjoyed. It makes me wonder what I should do about it as a consumer of art.
The Usual Suspects. 20th Century Fox.
Continue reading on Medium.
“ESPN is about sports. ESPN is not a political organization.” — ESPN president John Skipper
This has led to me seeing variations of the phrase “politics has no place in sports” plastered all over social media.
If only this were true.
In 2005, the United States Congress held hearings about doping in baseball. Top players testified. Jose Canseco famously admitted to using steroids in the past. Mark McGwire, feeling as though he’d be vilified either way, famously said “I’m not here to talk about the past.”
In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, 11 Israeli athletes and a German police officer were killed by a secular Palestinian terrorist group. They were aided by German neo-Nazis.
In 2015, a movie titled Concussion was made based on a 2009 GQ exposeabout the NFL trying to suppress a forensic pathologist’s research on brain degeneration due to chronic trauma that football players sustain.
In 1991, the Baseball Hall of Fame voted Pete Rose to be permanently ineligible for induction, after he agreed in 1989 to a permanent ineligibility from baseball due to betting on games while he was a player and manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Rose is the all-time MLB leader in hits, games played, at-bats, and singles.
In 2017, TV deals kick in for the Big Ten conference from which athletic departments will reportedly get payouts of $43 million in 2017–2018. Most schools the U.S. don’t profit from athletics and siphon off money from academic budgets to keep pace. College athletes, even at schools that doprofit, are not paid for their work.
If your response to neo-Nazi rallies or domestic terror attacks is to say something like “love conquers hate” or “hate never wins,” please pause and challenge yourself to dig a little deeper into what those words means.
If you criticize people who praise Nazi-punching or antifa or black bloc for defensive acts of violence and say things like “violence is never the answer” or “hate is hate,” please stop and consider more nuance.
And if you are a white person and have the nerve to point out to black people that Martin Luther King Jr. promoted nonviolence, for the love of God, please just stop.
These seemingly well-meaning slogans don’t address the severity and prevalence of everything that falls under “hate” and “violence.”
Warning: Contains Spider-Man: Homecoming spoilers, and, yes, I know I’m still being a huge dork about this particular aspect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But I will complain about it until Marvel hires me as a consultant, so buckle in, friends.
This will probably make more sense if you know two things. (1) I think the UN is a relatively useless institution in the 21st century, because it was designed to deal with Germany and Japan in the aftermath of WWII and uses a mostly out-dated concept of the nation-state (thanks, transnational capitalism!) as the basis for operation; (2) I thought Captain America: Civil War was lame, but I wrote a piece on how its use of the UN inadvertently critiqued it in an interesting way.
I still want to know if he got a new backpack.
I enjoyed Spider-Man: Homecoming a lot more than I thought I would. For one, it was fun. It felt like a comic book movie and not another male revenge fantasy (someone I love died and/or was a brainwashed assassin for 70 years, let me lash out because I don’t know how to have feelings–Tony, Zemo, T’Challa, and Steve all had the same story line in Civil War and only T’Challa had a redemption arc) or a thinly veiled generic action movie (okay, fine, the airport scene was cool). For another, Peter Parker wasn’t angsty or brooding beyond typical awkward, teenage, how-do-I-talk-to-girls angst.
Denver Post columnist Terry Frei got fired for tweeting: “Nothing specifically personal, but I am very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend.”
- The use of atomic bombs that destroyed tens of thousands of Japanese people should make you uncomfortable, so maybe don’t say things like this.
- Frei made it personal by referring to a specific person.
- The thing that insensitive bigots don’t understand is that they seem to think this is all about personal offenses and sensitive snowflakes, which means they clearly don’t get it. It is systemic, institutional, structural injustices that screw over women, minorities, the poor–through policy and social practices. It’s about unfair, degrading treatment of entire groups of people based on some relatively arbitrary identity marker. It’s not personal sensitivity.
2017/8/17: An updated version of this piece appears on medium.com.
Donald Trump clearly doesn’t care about governing or know anything about governing. He has never given any indication that he did. Vague statements in his campaign didn’t magically turn into knowledge after the election.
Donald Trump wanted to be president in order to protect and promote his business and the Trump brand. He probably also wanted the power, but we have no way of confirming the latter other than his insistence that he won the election in a landslide [read: he didn’t] and his language befitting of a demagogue. We do have evidence, however, of his financial stakes.
Trump has refused to separate his business interests from his presidency, refusing to put his assets in a blind trust, instead handing over management to his two oldest sons. After the election, the Trump Organization doubled the initiation fee for its Mar-a-Lago resort — which Trump has since called “the Winter White House” — to $200,000. Trump Hotels’ CEO also said, after the election, that they planned to triple the number of Trump Hotels in the country. And that’s just in the U.S. According to the Washington Post, “at least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries and territories across South America, Asia, and the Middle East.”
This is dangerous to the American people. The President of the United States is supposed to represent national interests and not, say, what he stands to profit from a casino or a luxury condo in Turkey. It’s not a coincidence that the Muslim-majority countries on Trump’s first attempt at an anti-immigration executive order were countries in which he has no business investments. The stated purpose of the order was to prevent terrorists from entering the country, even though no terrorist attacks have been committed on U.S. soil by people from any of the banned countries. It’s not hard to connect the dots.
You can find a laundry list of Trump’s business conflicts of interest here. It’s long. And it’s not subtle. My personal favorite is the Chinese trademark dispute that had been going on more than a decade and was magically settled in the Trump Organization’s favor after he became president.