Thank you, thank you, thank you, Caped Crusader, for helping to keep my blog a lively place in my absence. (And a warning to everyone else that I’m coming home soon!)
I did something unusually frivolous the other day — I went to see the live stage show of Dancing With The Stars. I’ve always loved ballroom dancing (I can recite by heart some of the dialog from Fred & Ginger movies), so I guess it was pretty predictable that I would come to enjoy DWTS.
My delight in the show comes about, in no small part, because of its “getting it right” format. I love entertainment (books, movies, and, apparently, TV shows) that have as their trajectory people who, through hard work, instructive mistakes, enthusiasm, heart, heroism, etc., start at the bottom and work their way to the top.
On DWTS, many of the “stars” (B-listers, athletes, musicians, and “personalities”) who come on the show have never danced before. Some of them never do learn how to dance, but others prove to have previously untapped talents and it’s a delight to see them go from stumbling around to impressive dance chops. And always — always! — the ones who stay the course are the ones who work hard and cheerfully. The lazy ones and the whiny ones flame out quickly. It’s a good life metaphor.
Thanks as always to Caped Crusader for this wonderful collection:
My apologies for not blogging today. It’s been a peculiar day, to say the least. I tried to get some work done this morning, but between phone calls and interruptions, I found myself staring at the clock and realizing that I was going to be late for Daniel DiSilva’s talk about his book, Government against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences. I always underestimate how long it will take me to get to the City, and today I was determined to give myself lots of time. Thank goodness I did.
Things started off weird as soon as I left the house. Because of the storms this weekend, one of the intersections no longer has a timed traffic light; it simply had flashing red lights. As always, people stopped much, much longer at the flashing red than they would at an ordinary stop. Those things just seem to freak them out a little. Indeed, at some point later today, some driver got so freaked out that he (or she) slammed into one of the traffic lights, knocking it to the ground, pulverizing the pavement, and further ruining traffic flow on this peaceful little road with a maximum speed of 30 MPH.
I eventually made it to the southbound side of the freeway, heading to San Francisco, but saw to my dismay that the traffic was completely stopped. That could only mean an accident — or perhaps not. . . .
As the traffic crept forward, I saw that it had stopped because a man with a big smile and a dog on the leash was walking northbound in the middle lane of the freeway. I think that, maybe, the man’s car had broken down on the side of the road and that a friend, sitting in that same middle lane was a big white truck that seemed to be waiting for him. All I could think was “What a peculiar way to rescue a friend who’s broken down on the freeway.”
After that, things seemed to go well for a little while. This was my first time seeing the new $31 million movable barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s really, really ugly. I certainly hope that it’s worth the money and aesthetic loss. It seems like a fairly big sacrifice when there have been fewer than 20 head-on fatalities on the bridge in the last 40 years.
Once in the City, my plan was to park at the affordable Portsmouth Square Garage in Chinatown and then use Uber to get to the restaurant, which is located at the base of Market Street, an area with very expensive parking. One block away from the garage, though, I again found myself in completely stopped traffic. Inching forward, I discovered that, in the middle of the Clay and Kearny intersection (a fairly busy one for those who know the City), a woman was singing and dancing, with occasional pauses to throw things out of her basket onto the street and then pick them up again. Even for San Francisco, it was unusual behavior.
The people in the garage were very helpful, so I made it out of there quickly, snatched up my iPhone, turned on my Uber app — and got a message saying my app was out of date and unusable, so would I please download the new app. Do you know how long it takes to download an app without Wifi? It takes 12 minutes, which is how long it took me to walk very quickly from the Portsmouth Square garage, to a restaurant near the Embarcadero.
By the end of the drive, I felt discombobulated, and I’ve felt discombobulated ever since. I somehow got knocked off my stride or, for another metaphor, my flywheel got a hitch in it. Whatever. I just can’t seem to get myself back on track today. I’ve still got some legal work to do before I can get to bed (my afternoon was piddled away caring for family members), and I think I just need to reboot. Tomorrow promises to be a bit more normal.
I assume you are all familiar with the news story about the U.S. Army’s decision to apologize for and delete a tweet with the phrase “chinks in armor,” one that refers to the vulnerable points in old-fashioned metal armor, but that is now deemed racist because of the word “chink.”
That story reminded me of the time my father got taken to task for using the word “niggardly.” It means “stingy,” and goes back in time to the mid-16th century. It has nothing to do with the insulting American term for a black person. Nevertheless, people don’t use the word anymore because they can be assured that someone will take offense at the fact that the word sounds sort of like an insult.
I was rooting for the Patriots to win, not because I cared about the Patriots, but because I truly dislike the Seahawks. Russell Wilson is a hugely talented quarterback, but overall I think the team is a classless act, something the players demonstrated perfectly when they elected to start a fistfight in the last seconds of the game, after it was clear that they were losing. Whenever Seahawks players have a choice between sportsmanship and boorishness, they choose the latter. Small surprise that, by a factor of two to win, they lead the league in penalties.
My already-in-place dislike for the Seahawks escalated when I learned this afternoon that their coach, Pete Carroll, a Marin native, is an icon to 9/11 Truthers. He’s never come out explicitly and said he’s a Truther, but he’s professed the type of bewilderment about 9/11’s events that only comes from Truthers’ mouths:
When I worked at the Bancroft Library at Berkeley, one of my great pleasures was to head to the basement stacks and look at the illuminated manuscripts kept down there. That may explain why I always see the Middle Ages in blazing, gilt-edged color, whereas when I think of the 1920s and 1930s in America I see a rather dark, black-and-white world. Perhaps that’s part of the reason I’ve never underestimated the Middle Ages.
The other reason is my passion of medieval church architecture. After all, how primitive can an era be when it’s capable of the magnificence of St. Chapelle in Paris, which is unequaled by anything else I’ve ever seen:
Prager University has produced a short video explaining that the Dark Ages weren’t dark at all. What the video doesn’t say, but I’ll pass along here is that part of why we look back upon them is because Western history was written by Protestants, who had a vested interest in making the Catholic Church look more repressive than it actually was.
As always with these guys, the language is a little blue, but this is a brilliant visual about why vaccinations, although they come with risks, are still better than the alternative:
We’re contemplating a trip to Las Vegas. Since we neither drink nor gamble (and the kids can’t join in those activities in any event) we’re looking for other fun things to do while we’re there. One of the top-rated activities is Battlefield Vegas. As best as I can tell, you pay a fixed fee for shooting instruction, and then have the opportunity to fire real guns associated with famous battles or computer games. It looks like incredible fun (the kids lost interest in any other activities after having heard about this one), but it’s also quite pricey — understandably so, if it’s everything that’s promised. I’d love to hear from someone who’s actually been to Battlefield Vegas to make sure that it is indeed everything that’s promised. For a large-ish family, the cost adds up quickly so, while there are no guarantees in life, knowing that it’s more likely than not to be fun would be helpful.
I just want to say that it always irritates me when people with whom I work professionally, upon reviewing my writing, feel the irresistible urge to mark it, much as dogs mark telephone poles, just to prove they’ve been there. It’s certainly true that some people’s edits make my work better and for that I am grateful. Other people, though, just shuffle things around, often with grammatically disastrous consequences.
Ultimately, as long as these people — whom I call “existential editors” because they seem to edit only to show that they exist — pay my bills, I really shouldn’t care what they do. But as someone who, in her professional life, crafts her sentences with some care, I hate to see these existential editors fold, spindle, and mutilate that work.
I’m jamming away on legal briefs, which precludes blogging now. Meanwhile, here’s a nice picture I took while walking my dogs this morning. I like it because, to the extent the rains have once again stopped, bringing back the grim specter of drought, it’s nice to be reminded that the hills are still green:
I’m curious as to whether there’s a connection between people’s career trajectories and their political views when they’re older. I have noticed in my own life that a lot of my conservative friends have bounced around a bit from one career to another in their younger days, while a lot of my Progressive friends have stayed with their original career. I sort of straddle the line, because I stayed within the legal profession, but molded my work to confirm to my personal work preferences, rather than the other way. I also added in writing and being a Mom along the way. I also changed my politics along the way.
What about you? Without violating your privacy, can you sketch briefly what your political leanings are, whether they’ve stayed the same throughout your adult life, and whether you’ve had the same career forever, stayed in the same career but changed the way you do your work, or if you’ve had big changes in your work over your lifetime. If the last mentioned is true, how many changes have you had? Has your been a picaresque career, or was there just one seismic shift? If this were a poll, I’d set it up this way:
1. How would you define yourself politically today?
2. Have you always held the same political views?
3. If not, did you shift from more individualist views to more statist views, or vice versa?
4. Are you still in the same career you were when you started working as a young person?
5. If yes, you are in the same career, are you in the exact same line of work or have you significantly changed your work within the same field? For example, have you shifted from being an employee to being a manager or even being self-employed?
6. If no, you’re not in the same career, what kind of career change did you have?
7. Also, if no, you’re not in the same career, how many career changes have you had?
I doubt I’ll have the discipline to take any information I get from this post and turn it into a more formalized observation about lifestyles and politics. Mostly, I’m just curious about what might just be a coincidence amongst my acquaintances, and I figured that, if we’re all curious together, we can enjoy a little bit of crowd sourcing right here.
I’ll say right off the mark that my suspicion now, with minimal data, is that conservatives have had more practical experience in life than liberals. Even if we emerge from the Ivy Tower covered with the dewy glow of the Democrat party, dealing with real life — especially multiple variations of real life, such as being in the military, then being an employee, then working for oneself, etc. — we’ve come to realize that the real world operates by certain immutable cause and effect rules. For this reason, we’re eventually drawn to conservativism, which deals with the world as it is, unlike statism, which tries to force the world into conforming to academic theories about what a perfectly managed world could and should be.
Apropos fact and theory, on Facebook I very politely, respectfully, and with genuine curiosity asked a hard-core Leftist to explain to me how we could use peaceful solutions to deal with ISIS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda, etc. It’s been three days and he hasn’t responded. I suspect he never will.