Saturday
Aug152015

The best part of Bernie Sanders' book

He wrote Outsider in the House with his friend Huck Gutman back in 1997. I read it early on in my Sanders work. Levi is his son. This is my favorite paragraph:

One of the fun aspects of being a congressman is the different kinds of people that I meet. After we left Glover, Levi and I took a beautiful drive across the width of the state to Swanton, which is located in northwest Vermont, just south of the Canadian border. I often think how lucky I am not only to live in Vermont, but to campaign there. Driving along beautiful Vermont country roads in August, as the sun goes down, just ain't hard work. It's exactly the kind of thing I would do if I never ran for office. In the back of the car I always have a bathing suit, and it's not uncommon for us to stop midday on the campaign trail and jump into a nearby lake or river.

Saturday
Aug152015

My 'listi-profile' of Donald Trump

I don't know that I would do it for everybody, or even could, really, but I think it worked here, this profile of Donald Trump in the words of Donald Trump in 199 things the current Republican front-runner has said.

Monday
Aug102015

Bernie Sanders and the Democrats

New today with Manu Raju:

“You don’t change the system from within the Democratic Party.”

“My own feeling is that the Democratic Party is ideologically bankrupt.”

“We have to ask ourselves, ‘Why should we work within the Democratic Party if we don’t agree with anything the Democratic Party says?’”

Bernie Sanders, everybody—the same Bernie Sanders who is running to become the Democratic Party’s candidate for president of the United States.

The most surprising thing about the independent Vermont senator’s surprisingly successful campaign so far is not that he’s doing it as a self-described democratic socialist. It’s that he’s seeking the nomination of a party he caucuses with in the Senate but is not a part of, isn’t a registered member of and has never been a registered member of—a party he’s spent his 40-year career beating at the polls and battering in the press. Keep reading.

Previously about Sanders: 1. With Michael Crowley, the foreign minister of Burlington. 2. 14 things Bernie Sanders has said about socialism. 3. Bernie Sanders Has a Secret.

Sunday
Aug092015

Lessons, now, from the age of sail

Did you read Maya Jasanoff's piece in Sunday Review in today's New York Times? I sure did — because of Bounty, if nothing else.

Liked this:

But Conrad wasn’t being emptily nostalgic. He recognized that technological progress, for all its much-heralded benefits, comes with social and ethical costs. To operate a sailing ship was to master a “craft.” You had to observe and interpret nature, adapt and react to fast-changing conditions, obey without question, decide without doubt, toil without pause. The craft connotes more than a clutch of skills; it is a code for how to live. It turns a sailing ship into a “fellowship,” a community forged by shared values.

“The taking of a modern steamship about the world,” by contrast, “has not the same quality of intimacy with nature,” Conrad insisted. “It has no great moments of self-confidence, or moments not less great of doubt and heart-searching.” It lacks “the artistic quality of a single-handed struggle with something much greater than yourself.”

This, too:

The ocean also shows the failures of progress. It is where thousands of refugees drown trying to reach prosperity. It is where slavery and piracy flourish in the face of modern law. It is where industrial chemicals and plastics pollute and destroy ecosystems.

And it is where, with rising sea levels, the planet pays us back even beyond Conrad’s imagination for our embracing fossil fuels over the enduring benefits of sail.

In due course we arrive, if it can be said that we ever fully arrive, Richard Bode wrote. The truth is that there are destinations beyond destinations, and so the confirmed sailor goes on tacking forever.

Sunday
Aug092015

Terrible advice for a young writer?

Alice McDermott to Joe Heim in todays Washington Post Magazine:

"I guess I cringe when the discussion leads to, rather than books and sentences and characters and the stuff that writers are supposed to be concerned with, how to have an online presence and how many followers you have on Twitter. That stuff always makes me uncomfortable."

Agreed. At this point, though, for better and for worse, aren't both important?

Sunday
Aug092015

Lawns are silly

In Outlook in today's Post: "What you are saying is that life itself is a nuisance." Totally. The thing about lawns. Ban lawns.

Saturday
Aug082015

Arian Foster in ESPN mag

Glad it was in there. Some parts I starred?

This part:

The separation of church and football -- not to mention church and public education -- blurred at Tennessee, Foster says. Coaches, led by head coach Phil Fulmer, scheduled trips to Sunday church services as team-building exercises. Foster asked to be excused. He was denied. (The school confirmed that these team-building exercises to churches took place.) Word spread: Foster was arrogant, selfish, difficult to coach. "They just thought I was being a rebel and didn't want to participate in the team activities," Foster says.

"I was like, 'No, that's not it. Church doesn't do anything for me. I'm not a Christian.' I said, 'We can do other team-bonding activities and I'll gladly go, but this doesn't do anything for me.'

"So I went, probably five times. I don't want to bring race into it, but we never went to any predominantly black churches. We went to a lot of those upper-middle-class white churches, which I always found interesting because the majority of the team was black, so I thought the majority of the team would relate to a black church. I would rather go to a black church, honestly, because the music is better to me. If the majority of your team is black, why wouldn't they try to make them as comfortable as possible? But I guess when you're dealing with religion, color shouldn't matter."

This part:

Foster was in the Texans' training room after an offseason workout when two of his teammates began a conversation about immigration.

"We should close off the border with Mexico," one of them said.

The other agreed.

Foster, whose mother is Mexican-American, interrupted.

"Aren't you guys Christian?" he asked.

They both said they were.

"Didn't Jesus say love thy neighbor? And is Mexico not our neighbor?"

They began to argue, telling him he was missing the point, that this wasn't about religion.

This part:

Everyone in this business reaches a point where all the branding efforts and PR staffs and media-relations managers turn the simple act of having a conversation with an athlete into a different version of the same endless Kabuki. What's the story about? How long do you need? Can you mention his charity? PR people sit in on interviews, time them, cut them off. The process is as spontaneous as a stump speech. In a weird reversal, Foster's business manager called after I'd spent hours with his client. Humble Lukanga says he wants to prepare for the aftershocks, not prevent the quake. But what repercussions does he fear? Pickets at the stadium? A band of Joel Osteen disciples gathering at Foster's home to explain how the dry side of the street was God's subtle way of leading Arian toward the prosperity gospel? Lukanga can't say. "Arian has always been a rebel at heart," he says. "He's never been worried about backlash." The inference is clear: Somebody has to be. To Foster, though, the act of getting his story out there -- and the freedom it creates -- is a form of immunity.

Foster is in football but not of it, an outsider on the inside. He routinely finds himself standing on the sideline or in the huddle, looking up at the stands of a sold-out stadium and thinking, "Man, all these people are really here to watch us play a game."

"It's so weird, so weird," he says. "I take my job seriously, I really do, and I work my ass off for it. But sometimes I'll be in meetings and the coach will be up there all stressing out. 'Rarr-rarr-rarr.' Veins popping out. I'll be thinking, 'This is just a game.' In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter that much. It really doesn't, man, but you can't admit that -- or else."

Is this casual rebellion? Does he provoke for a greater good or simply his own amusement? Is he somehow the conscience of a generation of athletes, the only one willing to say the things the ominous Sword of Pepsi has made virtually extinct? Or is he speaking to an entirely different audience, a counterculture that appreciates a man who stands on the sideline and sees the NFL's embrace of the military-industrial complex as "the commercialization of everything -- just symbolism, man, and it gets people pumped 
up and feeling good and takes everything to an extreme"?

Wednesday
Aug052015

Jason Isbell in the new Rolling Stone

"A lot of people in Nashville think that the best song is the catchiest, or the one that sells the most copies. They're editing songs in a way that make them seem more consumable, I guess. I'm trying to edit them in a way that makes them more honest."