Category Archives: News

grandstanders and compromisers

There’s been a lot of talk about who’s running for President.  So far I’ve been extremely underwhelmed by the Democratic nominees, though I have to admit I haven’t read about all of the min detail.  But presidential candidates from both parties tend to be flashy and obnoxious.  Hillary was an exception . . . and she lost.

Anyway, it looks like they may avert a government shutdown.  From CNN:

“In a sign that made it look like a shutdown was increasingly likely, talks broke down over the weekend, but four members of that group — the top Democrat and Republican from both the House and Senate Appropriations committees — kept meeting Monday to try and broker a deal.”

What I’d like to know is who are these four lawmakers who were willing to stick it out and negotiate with people they probably don’t like and try to compromise?  Their names aren’t even listed in the article.  I’m guessing their compromise will be unpopular with everyone, and so they’re not seeking attention over it, but I want to know who they are, so I looked up the names:

  • Richard Shelby (R-Alabama)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)
  • Nita Lowey (D-NY)
  • Kay Granger (R-Texas)

Sadly, they are all as old as the hills, or I’d want one of them to run for president, instead of the current crop of grandstanders.

sexting

From the NYT:

After years of hearing about the dangers of youth sexting, researchers at Drexel University set out in 2015 to find how common the practice is among adults. And after interviewing 870 people, ranging in age from 18 to 82, they discovered that sexting is “more common than generally thought,” as the American Psychological Association primly observed. Fully 88 percent of adults reported swapping sext messages at least once; 82 percent had sexted with someone in the last year. Far from being a threat to our relationships, sexting correlated strongly “with greater sexual satisfaction, especially for those in a relationship.”

Do you believe this?  88%?  I’m skeptical that 88% of adults have ever owned a cell phone.

I’ve never sexted via text, but let’s assume instant message services count.  Then yes, I have sexted (especially if you consider the benign love-texts from Jeff sexts.)   H and I definitely exchanged some mildly erotic messages in the early days of relationship.  I find texting slow and painful, and hence have never felt the urge to sext on that platform.  Within the last year, though?  I don’t think so.  In fact, I can say with high confidence, not.  Is there something wrong with me?  Are we selling ourselves short on sexual satisfaction by not?  Should I ask my husband to begin sending me pictures of his nether regions?

I also will admit to have taken, on film, some questionable photos as a 20-year-old.  Those no longer exist, thankfully.  And, I can’t imagine being in Jeff’s position and having those broadcast across the country fro all to ogle.

I do think we should give teens a break.  Sending and receiving sexts seems pretty darn normal, photographic or no.  I think you can actually get charged with a crime for doing this, which seems absurd and not in keeping with the times.

Some more interesting perspective from the article:

It’s only going to get worse (or better, depending on your perspective) as we’re rapidly establishing new and welcome cultural norms about hitting on people. It’s increasingly unacceptable to hit on someone at work or in a classroom or on the street. So we do it online. We swipe left or right and start swapping texts with a stranger. The conversation quickly progresses from flirty to dirty and, before we know it, we’re exchanging nudes with that stranger.

Virginia Democrats

Gotta love Virginia and politicians in general.

Governor: Democrat, dressed in blackface and picture was put in his yearbook.  Denies that he’s in the picture but acknowledges having dressed in blackface on at least one other occasion.  Democrats call for his head.  He refuses to step down, saying this happened 35 years ago.

#2 in succession: Democrat, black, has not admitted dressing in blackface but has been accused by a credible source – a professor at Scripps College – of forcing her to have oral sex.  Basically, he appears to have raped her.  And then he described her, per NYT, as an “expletive” in a private meeting – bitch perhaps?  Or worse?

#3 in succession: Democrat.  Called for the Governor to resign over blackface incident.  Now it comes out that HE also dressed in blackface, in 1980.  Now claims that he’s learned from the incident 40 years ago.  Guess those extra 5 years made all the difference over the governor!

#4 in succession: A Republican. Sexual assault and blackface status still unknown.

Honestly, if I had some free time, I’d do a comprehensive search / investigation of all the politicians who’d dressed in blackface and publish it.  My guess?  50% of white male politicians over 50.

Harvard admissions

I have to say that reading about the Harvard admissions process makes me sick.  First, it’s important to establish whether it matters or not.  I would argue that it absolutely does.  I have never heard someone who attended a top-tier school – Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Duke, Stanford – argue that it doesn’t matter.  I’d say I was a good ten years into my career before the fact that I attended Stanford stopped being significant to people inside and outside the company.  And an engineering MS at Stanford is nothing like an undergrad degree at the top Ivy Leagues in terms of connections and opportunities.

My sister got her first job at Bain Boston.  From there she went on to venture capital and is now a VERY successful VP at a startup.  Bain Boston ONLY recruits from Ivy Leagues and UVA.  UVA is the ONLY non-Ivy League school Bain recruits at (or recruited at in 2003 – I can’t say if things have changed.)  (You can go to their second tier offices from  other schools, like the Atlanta office from GT, but if you want the direct path to opportunity my sister had, you need to be at a very select list of schools.  I had an offer after grad school and the manager didn’t recruit at public schools like GT.  This is very obviously stupid on his part, but it is real.  And obviously, connections are huge.

This article is about the opportunity afforded to those at the tippety top of the money spectrum.  Incredibly, these people apparently make up 10% of the Harvard class with a more than 40% admit rate.  That’s mind-boggling!  But it’s only the tip of the iceberg.  My husband went to an elite private school in Manhattan, probably the most elite in NYC.  He had decent SATs but not exceptional (1400s), good grades but was not valedictorian, and participated in extracurriculars but really didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.  (For the record, I do think my husband is one of the most overachieving people on the planet, but it’s not clear to me that that would have come through on a college app all those years ago.)   He applied to multiple Ivy League schools, including Harvard and Yale, got into all of them, and chose Harvard – a daring move since he comes from a Yale family.  (Father, brother and sister all went to Yale.)  His family was nowhere near rich enough to buy a building, but they didn’t need to apply for financial aid.  What percent of the admit class goes to these applicants – the well-off graduates of prep schools all over the country?  And while these prep schools may have a scholarship student or two, my husband, child of a Manhattan doctor, said he thought he was poor in high school because most of the other kids at his school were so much better off than him!  It boggles the mind.  It truly does.

Ironically, my children are Harvard legacies.  And Stanford legacies.  Apparently Harvard’s class is typically one third legacy!   And we live in a big city and are solid earners, so if we wanted to, we could try to get the girls into one of the more prestigious private schools in the area.  Even if we sent them to public school in, say, Bellevue, I’m pretty sure Harvard admissions is familiar with the top public schools in the area.  I’m 100% sure schools in Roanoke are NOT on their recruiting list, or any other elite school’s for that matter.

When 40%+ of the class goes to the rich kids, and probably another 10 or 20% to athletic or musical or other types of prodigies, that leaves about 40% of the class for the rest of the country to fight over the scraps.  Into those few remaining seats, you have to fit middle class overachievers, the economically deprived, and racial minorities.  And I guess that’s probably part of the reason affirmative action is so controversial.  There’s all this affirmative action going on to help the rich and connected that’s rarely talked about.  Is racial affirmative action any more or less fair?  Why do we have a court case about racial discrimination but no court case about the economic discrimination?  Why is it not OK for Harvard to discriminate based on race, but it’s OK for them to give seats to people whose parents might buy a library?  If we want this opportunity for L, should my husband join the alumni association? So. lame.

What I find fascinating is how much Harvard wants to hide their admissions process and criteria from public scrutiny.  To me, that’s a tell.  If you’re frightened and embarrassed to share publicly how you choose to admit students, that probably indicates there’s something unsavory about it.

Trump went to an Ivy League school.  I’ll leave it to you to decide if he earned it:

“He was a transfer student who arrived at Wharton after two years at Fordham University, which U.S. News & World Report currently ranks 66th among national universities,” the Post explains. Trump reportedly had “respectable” grades at Fordham, but got into Wharton as a transfer student mainly because of an admissions officer who had gone to high school with his older brother.

serena

I am a big fan of Serena.  However, when I was reading an article about what went down at her match yesterday, I literally had to stop reading.  I was cringing too badly, and I don’t like reading about people I like doing stupid things.

I think I stopped when I read that her coach had acknowledged coaching Serena but excused it by saying “everyone does it.”  (I’m inclined to believe him.)  The problem is that Serena swore up and down that he wasn’t coaching her, going so far as to invoke her daughter.  So there are only two scenarios in which Serena wasn’t lying.  (a) Her coach lied when he admitted coaching her.  This seems extraordinarily unlikely.  (b) He was coaching her, but she didn’t realize it.  It seems unlikely this is the only time he’s done this, so we’d have to believe that he’d been up there waving his hands around and she’s just been completely oblivious.  Possible.  But unlikely.

Was the umpire’s handling of the coaching unfair?  Given that Serena’s coach was in fact apparently was coaching, it doesn’t seem like it, though if it is extremely common for coaches to do this, then perhaps it was.  This is a really important point because this is what kicked off the whole thing and set the tone for the match.

The racket penalty was caused by the coaching thing; because there’d already been a warning, that turned into a penalty.  In and of itself, it wasn’t unfair.  The controversy arises from Serena calling the umpire a “thief” and he giving a penalty as a result.  I’d love to see some data on whether this is in fact irregular or not.  From what I’ve read, it seems that it may in fact have been, but I haven’t seen anyone actually compile data.  Even if it was irregular, it seems a little over-the-top to attribute it to sexism.  Maybe it was racism.  Or maybe he was just mad because she was so aggressive.  It would be really useful to see data on this particular umpire.  Honestly, if I were an umpire, I’d be very disinclined to take that kind of hostility.  But I don’t follow tennis, so I don’t know what’s normal and acceptable.

Maybe Serena was so angry because she’s witnessed this ump behave in a sexist manner before, or something he’d done led her to believe that he was in fact sexist.  Sometimes you just get that sense from people.

Honestly, though, I found the French Open’s comments and policy change based on Serena’s attire far more sexist.  I thought that was egregious.  In that instance, Serena responded very politely; to me, that was blatant sexism and I wish she’d called them out on it and not been so polite.

There is a great deal of sexism in the world, but I think it’s important to be careful about calling out people for sexism when it’s not clear that it actually exists.

.

Update – Doesn’t sound to me like the umpire is sexist.  Possibly an overly strict (bad?) umpire, but not sexist.  “No sexist issue there,” said Chris Evert, the former world No. 1, on Sunday. “His history with men players shows that.”  Interestingly, the umpire also gave Venus a coaching penalty.  She stated at the time, that at age 36 it was the first and only penalty of that nature that she’d received (and disputed it).  Same coach?  Legit?

yet another

When I “opened” the local newspaper this morning, I came across yet another #metoo case.  I find it extraordinary how in almost all of these cases, there are many many women who have come forward.  I can’t decide if this is because these guys always are abusive or obnoxious to many women, or if if no one listens until 10 or 12 people have come forward, at least in the case of someone prominent.  This particular guy, David Meinert, has been accused to “misconduct” by 11 women, including assault and rape between 2001 and 2015.  (Meinert is a “prominent business man and activist” in Seattle.)  Two of them filed police reports, but apparently nothing happened until now, when the local NPR station published reports highlighting the accusations.  What if NPR hadn’t published those reports?  Might this guy have continued on without issue for another few years?

(Is it really appropriate to lump RAPE in the category of #metoo?  The ST categorized their story as a subset of that broader movement / “discussion”.  But to me, rape is a crime on par with murder that should stand on its own, apart from other types of harassment.)

“Whether at a bar or in a boardroom, Meinert had a reputation for aggressive-bordering-on-inappropriate behavior, according to seven people who worked with him in a variety of capacities.  Those interviewed described instances of Meinert hitting on employees at his businesses, making sexually charged comments and not backing down when rebuffed.”  Why are people like this tolerated?  I can’t think of anyone I interact with at work that behaves like this.  I guess I’m not sure what I’d if there was someone; if someone doesn’t cross the line in public, and they are good at what they do, it’s hard to get rid of them.

St. Brigid

I’ve picked up my knitting again.  St. Brigid is a bucket list knit, and I knew it was going to take forever . . . and it is living up to billing.  It’s not really particularly hard, but the pattern is sufficiently complex that I haven’t been able to memorize it, which means knitting it always requires a certain amount of concentration.  In any case, the back is done (one mistake, which I think is not noticeable to the layman), and I’m determined to finish the front sometime in the not too distant future.  Which means in the next month or two.  As always, I’m eager to take on something new and lazy about finishing the old.  I’ve been obsessed with running and the like lately, but I’m feeling my interests circle back to crafting, just a little bit.

In other news, like half of the world, I can’t stop thinking about the Thai soccer players.  Of course there are people dying right and left all over the world, but everyone is coming together to save these people, and it’s sort of a failure of humanity if they can’t manage it.  So, I’ve checked CNN more in the last couple days than in the previous couple months.  Hopefully there will be good news in the morning.