Category Archives: News

gymnastics

Yes, yes, YES.  Heads obviously need to roll over the Nasser situation, and those heads need to come from the power corridors of USA Gymnastics.

To make the Olympic team in 1996, you needed to be in the top 5 at the USA gymnastics Olympic trials.  (Shannon Miller and Dominique Moceanu were byes as they were injured by recognized to be the best gymnasts in the country.)

In 2000, doing well at the Olympic trials was no longer sufficient to make the team.  Instead of the athletes who won the trials being on the team:

That year, a selection committee ranked the women vying for the United States Olympic team using their scores at the national championships and the Olympic trials. Then the committee, led by Bela Karolyi, the national team coordinator at the time, selected the six-member team in a closed-door meeting. The gymnasts who were not selected, Beckerman among them, were cast aside, often without explanation.

In 2004:

The two women with the highest scores at the trials are virtually promised spots, although they must show what Marta Karolyi, the women’s national team coordinator and Bela’s wife, calls ”readiness” at a post-trials camp.

The remaining four athletes on each team will be chosen by a selection committee. In some cases, those making the selections will pick gymnasts who excel at one or two events over more well-rounded ones because it would strengthen the United States’ chances for a team medal.
As of 2016, i believe the team was chosen exclusively by committee.  In other words, the way the team was chosen was 100% subjective.  In 2016, the selection committee consisted of Marta Karolyi and a coach who former competed for the Ukraine.  Excuse my prejudice, but I don’t have a lot of faith in former Eastern block coaches to “coddle” the gymnasts – aka protect them from abuse.
You might wonder why the team is now chosen by committee instead of by some objective process.  Well, there are a lot of reasons, but the roll of the Europeans can’t be ignored.  Basically, the Europeans (excepting the Romanians) are not capable of fielding large gymnastics teams filled with all-around competitors.  They have disproportionate influence in the gymnastics governing body, and have successfully pushed for smaller and smaller teams and fewer gymnasts to compete in each event.  Because of the latter factor especially, it becomes much more difficult to objectively select the best team.
What does all this mean?  These gymnasts, most of them between 15 and 19, are completely subject to the opinions and preferences of their much older, much more powerful coaches.  They are training 30 or more hours a week, living what doesn’t resemble a normal life, and they must please 70-year-old Eastern bloc coaches.  It’s messed up.
Whose head would I like to see roll?  Well, lots of them.  But for a start, Marta.  She should be out for good.  She’s so old, she’d probably retire anyway.  But nevertheless, I place a huge amount of blame on her.

aziz ansari and “babe”

I ran seven miles this morning, the last of which was mostly uphill.  However, the hardest twelve minutes of my day were definitely stretching.  Stretching is seriously no joke.  I’ve been diligently spending 12 minutes three times a week, so basically 30 minutes a week, stretching.  It’s become increasingly obvious how incredibly inflexible I am, a product of the fact that I do almost nothing that requires flexibility.  Running, biking and swimming don’t, and spending a significant portion of my day sitting at a desk obviously doesn’t help.  Anyway, I’ll be repeating the sit and reach test in two weeks, so I guess we’ll see if I’ve made any progress.

In other news, I’m very curious what people think of the article in babe about a woman’s unpleasant encounter with Aziz Ansari.  I should start by saying I don’t know much about Ansari.  I’ve never seen him in any shows.  I only know he did Parks and Recreation because I googled him.  I’m not into comedians, and I really don’t care about him in particular.

My take is that he sounds boorish and inept.  It sounds like a bad date.  But this woman allowed him to take her clothes off.  To use the age-old phrase, what did she expect?  If I go home with a man and allow him to take my clothes off basically immediately, I expect that he’s going to want to have sex.  That doesn’t mean he has a right to sex by any means, but it’s a bit unfair to be surprised by him wanting it.  She also gave and received oral sex on multiple occasions during their “date.”  If I were in her situation, I would leave, and I would be upset, and I would not go out with him again.  That’s basically what she did.  (The worst night of her life, though?)  But was what he did assault?  In my opinion, absolutely not.  Was it sexual misconduct?  That’s a bit of a new term, likely invented to address this very article.  I don’t really even think it was necessarily misconduct.

As a feminist, I don’t think a woman should ever be forced into sexual acts that she doesn’t want to participate in.  That means men (or woman) should not use their greater physical strength or other types of power they might possess, such as a position at work, to induce a woman into sexual acts she’s not interested in.  However, I feel that adult women are capable of expressing what they want and don’t want, and I don’t find it flattering or helpful to suggest that a man should have to repeated ask a women, Do you want this?  How about this?  And this?  I’m 100% comfortable with “no means no.”  I don’t think we need “yes means yes.”

From the article:

“I just remember looking in the mirror and seeing him behind me. He was very much caught up in the moment and I obviously very much wasn’t,” Grace said. “After he bent me over is when I stood up and said no, I don’t think I’m ready to do this, I really don’t think I’m going to do this. And he said, ‘How about we just chill, but this time with our clothes on?’”

If you keep reading, they do get dressed, and then he starts hitting on her again.  And then she leaves.

This editorial in the NYTimes summarizes my feelings pretty well.

I’ve read many women who are infuriated by Ansari’s behavior and consider it unambiguously sexual assault.  That is not my perception at all, and I’m curious if I’m an outlier or what.

houston

I’m not sure what to write about Houston, except that I’m really in shock.  I really can’t remember when there’s been a natural disaster in a place I knew, where I had friends and family.  What’s happening to Houston is really mind-boggling.  The graphic on the front of the New York Times sums it up well – unbelievable rainfall right dead center over Houston.  So many natural disasters, even New Orleans, seem avoidable or preventable or fixable in some way.  All I can think in terms of Houston is mandating that all future homes be built at least 3 feet above the ground.

The worst affected person I know is Jonathan’s sister.  She and her family have evacuated – been rescued by boat – and are staying in a hotel with their pets, as of today.  Prior to that, they were staying with a neighbor, as their single-story house in central Houston is under several feet of water.  Their neighbor’s house is built three feet up and has multiple stories.  Right now, Leslie doesn’t think they will ever return.  Perhaps they will move into an apartment.  While this will be financially devastating for them, he is a well-employed lawyer, and they will likely figure it out without having to resort to FEMA trailers like some others may need to do.

The worst story I heard was Sarah and Jose sheltering in closets with their family during a night of repeated tornado warnings.  I’m so glad they were only warnings, but wow, that sounded truly awful.

It’s odd being here in sunny Seattle, completely unaffected, living life as normal.  One day ‘the big one” (earthquake) may hit us, and the rest of the country will look through their internet windows in horror while continuing with their lives.  Hopefully not any time soon.  I was struck at one point that it was lucky it was my SIL Leslie and not my SIL Elizabeth going through this as E is expecting a baby any day now.  (She lives in Virginia.)  But of course, there must be hundreds of mothers on baby watch and hundreds more with tiny babies in Houston.

saudi music video

I am simultaneously inspired and horrified by this music video out of Saudi Arabia creating a sensation.  I am inspired by the brave and obviously vibrant women who made it, and horrified that playing basketball while cloaked and covered from head to toe is considered controversial.

 

It’s well worth watching if you have a couple spare minutes.  There’s so much debate about feminism (and all the isms these days), but very little discussion about the widespread subjugation of women around the world, especially the Arab world.

One thing that struck me recently is that the US has resumed trading with Iran.  Great.  We’re all becoming friends.  However, US women who wish to do business with Iran will have to cover their hair and obey highly sexist Iranian attire rules when in Iran.  This is being dictated by Iran of course, but also by the American companies they’re trading with, such as Alaska Airlines.  What are a few hijabs when we’re talking about billions of dollars in airplanes, right?

thinking about Trump

From what I have read, Trump didn’t really expect to win any more than we expected him to win.  Now he is scrambling.  The man is simply unprepared to be president.  Let us hope he gets his act together quickly.  I have been avoiding the news, but the headlines about his advisor-choosing process are stressing me out a little.  I do believe the debacle of the W presidency had a lot to do with bad advisors and bad influence, and I fear a repeat.  I would guess at this point, despite all his rhetoric, that Trump doesn’t really have a clue what he actually wants to accomplish and how he would go about it.  That means he’s going to be figuring it out over the next few months, and things could really go in any number of directions.

I went on Facebook shortly after the election seeking to find other like-minded individuals who were similarly disheartened by Trump’s election.  I did find this, but what I also found that I didn’t expect was an incredible amount of hate and vitriol directed at Trump voters.  Honestly, I was taken aback and disgusted.  I’m not talking about the posts expressing sadness that people who would vote for someone who speaks as Trump does and expressing concern over our country’s future.  I’m talking about the ones who insist anyone who votes for Trump is a racist asshole.  It seems too much to hope for that the liberal establishment will look in the mirror and ask how it is flawed and how they can improve so that someone like Trump isn’t an appealing alternative to their candidate.  I see a divide between my friends who grew up in affluent, urban areas and those from rural areas, particularly the rural south.  While nearly all my friends and colleagues are liberal, those who came from areas where there is widespread rural poverty and unemployment due to factory shutdowns are much  more likely to be sympathetic to the plight of the Trump voter whereas the former are more likely to dismiss them as stupid and bigoted.

I do feel anger, but I honestly don’t feel it towards Trump voters.  I know plenty of people who voted for Trump.  The people I know who voted for Trump are mainly single issue voters who vote pro-life no matter what.  (I know a lot of people think pro-lifers are inherently evil, and I obviously don’t agree with this point of view either.)  There are two groups I feel anger towards.  1: Democrats and Liberals who stayed home.  Voter turnout was very low.  My understanding is that more than Trump receiving a lot of votes, he won because Hillary won so few.  2: Hold your nose and vote Hillary voters.  Yes, these people voted, but their rhetoric dissuaded others from voting.  Needless to say, anyone who didn’t vote or who voted third party gets no sympathy from me if they complain about Trump.

Four years.  I want to say to the Democrats, Let’s get it together people!  Much as I love Hillary (and hate Bernie), the Democratic candidate slate for 2016 was weak and limited.  The Republicans sort of dissolved into Trump disarray, but they had a large group of diverse candidates, similar to the Democrats in 2008.  Let us hope some new liberal leaders will emerge in the next four years.

Trump

Holy shit.  I cannot believe Trump might actually win this thing.  Maybe it’s naivete caused by living out here in liberal-land – I know a grand total of ONE Trump supporter that I’m aware of in WA and dozens on the other side – but I felt it was a slam dunk for Clinton.  The NyTimes said she had a 90% chance of winning yesterday.  Now they’re saying 70% for Trump (which I guess goes to show how much they know.)  Honestly I’m furious.  H says it’s sexism.  Is he right?  I’ve been blown away by the vitriol directed at Clinton by some liberals around here and the ridiculous support for Sanders.  If not sexism, what is the problem?  What leads people to think that having Trump in charge is going to lead to a better outcome?

I was told by a colleague that I was sheltered recently.  He wasn’t directing his comment specifically at me, but more generally at all of us well-paid, over-educated, liberal engineers so far separated from the people who feel they’re losing their path to well-being.  At the time, I thought, yes, we are sheltered, but still . . . Trump will not win.

I am honestly afraid for our country if he wins.  I’m not worried about the wall between here and Mexico or his sexism, though these things are obviously troubling.  I’m worried about the vast amount of military power he will wield if he wins, and the incredibly difficult tightrope our president will have to walk in dealing with ISIS and Iran and Russia and so on.  The world is a perilous place and Obama, in a way, has kept us safe for eight years, as well as averting a general meltdown.  I’m not confident Trump can do the same.  And please spare me the talk about moving to Canada.  If things go south in the great USA, of the whole Western world will suffer.

Bush caused a lot of harm in his eight years.  I fundamentally believe Bush was a good guy, but incompetent.  I think Trump is both a bad guy and also a loose cannon.

And if only Hillary had won over Obama eight years ago, she would have taken the general election, I’m guessing Obama could have won in 2016.