Olympic Champion swimmer Katinka Hosszú. Photo credit: Doha Stadium Plus Qatar @ Flickr.com

Olympic Champion swimmer Katinka Hosszú. Photo credit: Doha Stadium Plus Qatar @ Flickr.com

This quadrennial athletic competition has seen it’s share of controversy. In particular, it seems NBC Sports can’t stop tripping over it’s dick with all the sexist spin on the news. For his part, Sports Analyst Dan Hicks pointed out the “crucial” role that Olympic Record Breaker Hosszu’s coach played in her victory. He later defended that description of Shane Tusup, while apologizing for offending the audience.

No doubt, lots of champions owe their success to their coaches. Coaches represent an often decades-long brain trust of coaching and performing experience. Athletes have talent – and many possess a keen mind as well – but coaches focus those raw talents a young athlete has into a peak performer. And in the case of Katinka Hosszú and her boyfriend, insiders say that there really is a pretty specific dynamic that matters when telling Katrinka’s story.

But it strikes me that I can’t really give you the names of any coaches in Olympic sport at all. None, that is, except Martha and Bela Karolyi of Olympic Women’s Gymnastics fame. If you asked 100 Americans the names of three other Olympic coaches and the Karolyis, I think we know whom a majority would recognize.

I don’t know who Ryan Lochte’s coach is, nor Michael Phelps’. But I certainly know the athletes’ names for their gold-studded histories. Usain Bolt, I know. His coach, I do not.

What I’m getting at, here, is that sports media seems to possess a deep dependency on coaches when discussing women’s athletics generally. We know, for example, that Martha Karolyi is a “queen maker” in the US Women’s Gymnastics Team. Women do not automatically go to the Olympics or compete for any one metal simply because they can or because they scored the highest in Nationals.

Martha Karolyi, via NBC Sports.

Martha decides who goes and who stays. And in the process, we are treated to literally hours worth of collected video of Martha – sitting in the stands, no less – watching the gymnasts and presumably making her decisions.

If a similar decision making process happens on the US Men’s Gymnastics Team, I don’t know about it. And I have literally no idea whatsoever who the head coach of that team is. In fact, Google searching ‘us men’s olympic gymnastics “head coach”‘ returned the Wikipedia pages of Martha and Bela first, followed by a 2009 article naming Kevin Mazeika as the head coach of the men’s team. The fourth entry is finally a list of head coaches throughout the last decade or so, through which I can scroll to finally find my answer: Mark Williams.

So. Mark Williams.

I’m not sure if this is because the media can’t help of thinking of women athletes as silly girls who can’t be trusted with their own athletic careers, or if this is just an old, bad habit. It’s worth pointing out that “Women’s” gymnastics includes athletes barely over 16 years old. Regardless, perhaps if the media is seeking to avoid this kind of blow-up in the future, it ought better to focus on how it treats coaches in it’s storytelling than to any one blow-up.

Summer sucks. There’s no way around that.

As a freelance web developer, I’m always in search of the next gig. There’s never quite so much work that I’m not always thinking of where my next meal will come from. And in the summer time, things tend to be pretty dry. No one is hiring. No one is looking to build things.

But all things being equal, this is about as bad a summer as I’ve seen in a long while. And I’m reasonably certain I know why. As a business owner, the idea of hiring someone when I have absolutely no idea what the future holds seems like lunacy. Even building new websites when I don’t know what happens in the fall seems like maybe saddling your business with the last straw. And if you actually hire someone? Well, you might be volunteering to pay their UI come January.

Because I don’t think there’s anyone in the business world (save for Trump himself) that doesn’t think Wall Street’s going to lose it’s shit if Trump manages to become President of the United States. Even if you support him – even if you’re the sunniest optimist about Trump’s America – you can’t expect that his election won’t be a huge disruption to our economy.

Every Middle Eastern businessman or shop owner knows his business if not his happy home is on the line. Every other business attached to his or hers is also in jeopardy: suppliers, contractors, craft service companies, everybody. Same goes for every Latino in business. And businesses not owned by a ethnic group regularly demonized by the Trump still need to worry about the next flap of Trump’s enormous butterfly wings.

So buckle up, America. It’s about to be a very lean several months. If not years.

Photo via the "Internet"

I am very worried about a Trump Presidency. I know the polls don’t really show it. I know it’s not the sentiment reflected back to us by our televisions. But I’m worried, nonetheless.

I’m not worried about racists. We know what part of the political spectrum concentrates its power with the Southern Strategy. Racist who vote at all will vote predictably.

I’m not worried about Brexit America. Not exactly, anyway: I genuinely think there is some unique and perplexing thing about British citizens who time and time again said they didn’t think their vote would matter. Or perhaps it is we that are the perplexing ones. Either way, in America, if you don’t think your vote counts you generally don’t vote at all.

What worries me is that even among the staunchest of liberals in my father’s generation, I hear a common sentiment. That sentiment is that “in the 60’s, it was about all of us. Peace and love. But I guess now it’s just about black lives mattering.” I do hear it. And I hear it often.

Never mind that the fight for civil rights far predates and postdates the Flower Power movement. Set aside the fact that the 60’s entire claim to fame basically boils down to That Time Privileged White Kids Cared About Social Justice. Baby Boomers seem to think that every stride Black America has made since Hendrix was because they bought the same albums and smoked the same pot.

And now that the rallying cry doesn’t include them, they seem put out. “All Lives Matter!” they cry. Because the one thing you can’t do to a Baby Boomer is uninvite them to the protest.

For how many of our parents’ generation does a vote for Trump represent the Great Shrug of Baby Boomer indifference? Like a sullen Randian character, do Boomers simply reject the politics of the day? Do they throw off any pretensions of liberalism, conservatism or even stewardship and simply vote “Crazier than You?” Maybe I really am worried about a Brexit. Even a Boomer sit-out might be enough to sway the election. Everybody in the Liberal wing of the Boomer gen just sits down, smokes their medical marijuana and says, “I’ve done enough.”

Will the Great Shrug be a vote to reanimate Barney Fife? Donna Reed? Sammy Davis, Jr? Will the Great Shrug be the collective sigh that pines for the days when television told you what to believe and cameras never interfered with the message? Because the sentiment in my parents’ generation feels a lot like technoshock: the moment when you stop understanding what your technology is telling you. That moment when the world moves beyond what you can cope with.

I can sympathise with anyone who can’t handle Hillary Clinton. I’m not anti-Hil, but I certainly would have preferred a better choice than between the Orange Menace and yet another sample of the Bush/Clinton/Bush years. But I smell something nasty in the wind. I hope I’m wrong.

Photo via Oddysey on Blogger.

Now that Corey Lewandowski has formally been charged with what was pretty obviously a crime from the start, it’s time once again to discuss the Trump Campaign’s constant stream of violence. Unlike previous bouts of violence at Trump Rallies, which took place in the crowds, this one confirms that there is something inherently violent about the Trump Machine as he runs it. Still, I’m sure there’s plenty of people who will cling firmly to their plausible deniability, encapsulated in the following meme:

trump-violence

Now, I don’t want to move too fast for the mouth-breathers that support Trump. But consider this: if you intentionally go to a place where you have a better-than-average chance of getting the shit beat out of you, you’re probably something of an asshole. If you go to a place where you have a better-than-average chance of getting a crack in against someone with whom you have a disagreement, you’re almost certainly an asshole. And much though I certainly do love watching people wreck themselves on “World’s Dumbest,” and so on, if you go to a place where you have a better-than-average chance of watching someone you don’t like getting the shit beat out of them, you’re… well, something less than noble, anyway.

The bottom line is this: people who are looking for trouble know where to go. It’s not a Bernie rally, it’s not a Clinton rally, it’s not a Ted Cruz rally, it’s not a John Kasich rally. People who are looking for trouble are going to Trump rallies. Their political affiliations – if such they really have – are meaningless. And now that Trump’s own “campaign manager” has been placed under arrest for the crime of assault, we have positive affirmation that this is exactly what Trump wants.

So. This article is pretty rich with inaccuracies. As you might imagine from a woman whose only marketable skill is taping her boobs into a dress. Nevertheless:

  • Deists. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
  • Not all the Founding Fathers were Deists. Or Christians. And by the way? Deists and Christians typically stand on the opposite sides of the room at parties…
  • The Constitution itself lists no rights whatsoever. The Bill of Rights does that.
  • Not only does the Constitution not do anything so presumptuous as “grant” rights, but in reality, it only requires of the government certain duties.
  • The last clause of the Constitution says that anything not addressed there is considered to be up to the people. If it’s not in the Constitution, that means you absolutely have that right.
  • Nobody but your Creator gave you any rights. It’s right there in the fucking Declaration of Independence, the document upon which the Constitution was based.
  • The last clause of the Constitution basically says, “Anything not addressed here is for the people and their states to decide.” If it’s not in the Constitution, that actually means that yes you do have that right.

But according to Haglund, government could not acknowledge a basic human right to health care because only God could grant those rights.“Well, no. This country was founded on a document called the Constitution,” she said. “And it also believed — a lot of our founders were deists, you know, some of them were Christians — and they believed that man was born with rights from God, that government doesn’t create rights.”“Because if they create rights, they can also take them away,” Haglund added.

Source: Ex-Miss America: ‘Our founders were deists’ and God didn’t create a ‘human’ right to health care

mitt-romney

I’m calling it now: the Republican Party should immediately broker a convention and nominate Mitt Romney as the Bringer of Death to the Party. Who could be better than an empty suit, nominated by empty suits, as a naked attempt to subvert the will of a racist bully body they abhor?

But the 2012 GOP nominee is nevertheless leaving the door open — just a crack — to the possibility of being drafted by his party at a contested convention in July. “I don’t think anyone in our party should say, ‘Oh no, even if the people in the party wanted me to be the president, I would say no to it,'” Romney said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “No one’s going to say that.”

Source: Mitt Romney isn’t exactly ruling out his presidential nomination – The Washington Post

mitt-romney

Photo via Oddysey on Blogger.

It’s hardly the most important issue in the campaign. I doubt we’ll see national press coverage of the issue. But it strikes me as ironic that in the same week that the Water Street Music Hall gets shut down for violence that happens outside of it’s walls, Donald Trump fully expects to take zero responsibility for the violence that has happened in the same room in which he was speaking.

It isn’t at all surprising given the primary season so far. Even less so as he’s in the midst of a press conference called for the sole purpose of bullying Marco Rubio.

In fact, based on the below quote, he can’t manage to get his head out of his own ass long enough to realize what is a shocking problem with the optics of his campaign. Also: his bully supporters see no problem with it, either.

Trump on the Crowd Melees | Talking Points Memo

TRUMP: Well, I have nothing to do with it. When you have 25,000 people in a building — you know, today we had to send away so many thousands of people, we couldn’t get them in. If you have that many people, if you have four or five people or ten people stand up out of 22,000 that are in this building that I’m speaking to, a very great entertainer said, Donald, you’re the biggest draw in the world without a guitar, which is sort of an interesting —

Source: Trump on the Crowd Melees

Photo via The theodysseyonline.

As liberals and independents, it can be a little unsettling to see the unphased certainty with which Donald J. Drumpf and his followers view the election. Like many such moments, this is one in which it takes all your effort and concentration to remember that the election hasn’t even happened yet. You can begin to question whether your view of the world is really fundamentally flawed in some way.

In such moments, it’s important to remember that these are people for whom “uncertainty” is an unfamiliar concept. They’ve heard of it. But uncertainty has never really happened to them. Instead, they quietly walk among us, certain that the vast overwhelming majority (once, the Moral Majority) is on their side. If only they could speak.

But of course, those putative “normal Americans” cannot speak their minds: they are under the dreaded pall of “Political Correctness,” a phrase that brings two terms Trump fans are uncomfortable with together with the insane concept that you’re not allowed to call black people the N-Word. Like all “normal Americans,” they know that they would lose their jobs if they spoke the truth. And so would everyone around them.

No matter how many times reality refuses to show “normal Americans” a face that confirms their world view – even after every seated member of the Thanksgiving table says, “shut the fuck up, Uncle Frank!” – they cannot be disabused of their certainty. Because the rest of us need to stop buying into the Liberal Media.

Now that Donald Trump is leading the Republican Primary, these people are free to speak their minds as much as they please. Freedom! Sweet freedom! They revel in the freedom to say how they really feel, because President Trump is going to Make America Great Again. Just like he did with real estate education!

So whatever you do, don’t bother trying to get your asshole friends on Facebook to see the light. They’ve seen it. And they prefer their own little world where President Trump Saves America. And don’t bother fretting about his chances in November. No one knows the future. Not even a Trump supporter.

Photo via Washington Post

One guy moose hunting in Alaska decided to take out his hovercraft. Somehow, this one event becomes a case before the Supreme Court that could have huge impacts for the environment and the definition of sovereignty between states, the Federal government and its citizens. It’s hard to fathom how one moose hunter in Alaska could suddenly become important to those of us in Rochester, NY. But as it turns out, he is.

John Sturgeon is by all appearances a pretty ordinary Alaska resident. His soft-spoken and respectful words in the Court make him seem like a pretty likeable guy. He hunts moose in Alaska, which is not at all controversial or illegal. And like any hunter, he takes what advantage he can – when he can – to get within shooting distance of his quarry. His choice one day eight years ago was to ride a hovercraft, which has the advantage of being able to cross rivers as easily as flat land.

His hovercraft broke down while he was out and two men approached to see what was going on. According to reports, the three men interacted for about a half an hour before the two strangers identified themselves as rangers. It was then that they informed Mr. Sturgeon that the hovercraft was not permitted to be used on Federal lands.

In Rochester, what is public and what is private land is rarely all that much in dispute, save perhaps for a stretch here or there where a park backs up to a private residence. But out west, questions abound. Over hundreds of acres of lands. New York State is about 12% government protected land; in Alaska that number is 61%. And it is the question of whose authority – federal or state – governs the land on which Mr. Sturgeon was hunting that is the problem.

In excellent reporting at Alaska Public Radio, the issue Justices seem to be getting hung up on is the word “solely.” Specifically, that the stewardship of the land that Mr. Sturgeon was hunting on is a bit of a cypher. What seems to have started as a sharing plan between state and federal agencies has devolved into a regulatory quagmire. The question of whether or not a hovercraft is permitted on that land depends entirely on the subtle distinctions in the code.

But if issues of jurisprudence and sovereignty are what complicate the case, they are not the only issues at stake. The responsibility with which we’ve entrusted our Federal government is to maintain a healthy environment within the preserves they manage. That charge is not about the simple management of a park for our recreation: it is about maintaining a pristine wilderness that we squander at our peril. Mr. Sturgeon himself benefits from those efforts, as evidenced by the fact that he’s hunting there at all.

Protecting the land means having clear laws and regulations about what is and what is not allowed to be used within the preserves. But in this case, there isn’t even consensus on what the federal preserves are. In such a case where the land is not claimed by any private party, it’s in the interest of science and our environment to interpret those rules broadly. Better that regulations within those territories be over-broad than under-cautious.

On the opposite side of science’s interests in this case are the interests of the State of Alaska and it’s residents. Those residents and elected leaders of Alaska can rightly ask why their regulation should be or has to be inferior to those of the Federal government? It becomes increasingly clear to we in the East that the Bundys of Malheur fame represent an ugly, violent inflection on what is a common sentiment in the West. And this case represents a much softer tone, but it’s no less urgent.

It’s also hard to escape the seemingly-tricky behavior of the park rangers in this case. Here in Rochester, police wear uniforms. You can ask for their badge numbers. But in Alaska, park rangers just look like bros? Walking in the woods? It may not be central to the case, but the idea that a cop sidles up next to you and raps with you for half an hour, then whips out a badge seems like entrapment, somehow. Mr. Sturgeon wasn’t hitting up a hooker. He was hunting.

There’s no clear indication that the Court prefers one argument over the other. There’s no indication that they were about to get into a Clash of the Titans fight over the heart and soul of the Constitution, either. But an empty seat on the Supreme Court could mean a year or more of ambiguity, into which who knows what manner of protest might pour?

With only eight Justices, it’s still possible that the Court can come to an agreeable compromise and close the case. But if everyone plays by their appointment-ordained roles, this thing doesn’t go anywhere. In the interim, do hovercraft sales skyrocket in Alaska? Along with beef jerky?

Photo courtesy Gauge Skidmore @ Flickr.com

I did a little digging into Donald Trump’s gobsmacking statement on Meet the Press this morning. For those that have not already seen, given the opportunity to disavow the endorsements of White Supremacists as notorious as David Duke, Trump said simply, “I don’t know David Duke.”

As has been commented frequently on social media, anyone under 30 could be forgiven for not seeing any particular relevance to the name David Duke. But a man as politically and socially active as Trump at Trump’s age cannot with any shred of credibility state that they do not know the name David Duke. Not at least enough to know that his is an endorsement no serious candidate to the Presidency could accept. Yet, giving the opportunity, Trump dodged the question.

But there is at least this little nugget of Donald Trump’s colorful political past, wherein he seems to directly refute the candidacy of Pat Buchanan (another name the under-30 set is not obligated to know). Refute, that is, because he believed Patrick Buchanan was a “Hitler-lover.”

Slate (USA)October 26, 1999
Copyright (c) 1999, Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC
Record Number: 10-26/services/public/syndication/syndication.asmx/Get_PageId_1003886/index.html
Section: ballot box
Buchanan Cuts Hitler Another Break
Author: Jacob Weisberg

Pat Buchanan’s Holocaust revisionism has never taken the form of his denying that Nazis murdered some Jews. Rather, he has consistently hinted, indicated, and implied that that he thinks the Nazis were somewhat less guilty of the Holocaust than people make them out to be. Today on ABC’s Good Morning America, Buchanan tried shifting the blame for the Holocaust away from the Nazis once again. Asked by Diane Sawyer about Donald Trump‘s comment that he was a “Hitler-lover,” the newest candidate for the Reform Party nomination had this to say:

Well let me explain. In the book I wrote, I referred to Hitler as a monster. I say that he–he behaved like Al Capone in his first days in office and he and Stalin let loose their SS and NKVD killers and set up Auschwitz and perpetuated the massacre.

The Russian NKVD was the 1930s ancestor of the KGB. It helped Stalin to kill many millions in its day. The Jews of Auschwitz, however, were not among them. To be more specific: Russian NKVD killers did not help to “set up Auschwitz.” Nor did they “perpetuate the massacre” there. Auschwitz didn’t even begin operating as a death camp until 1942, long after Hitler ended his non-aggression pact with Stalin by invading the Soviet Union.

Claiming that Hitler and the Nazis weren’t solely responsible for Auschwitz may be the single most extraordinary and outrageous thing Buchanan has ever said about the Holocaust. It isn’t anyone’s eccentric or revisionist view of history. It’s the fantasy of a disturbed person who thinks he can get elected president with the support of the Teamsters, David Duke, and Lenora Fulani.

Yesterday the Republican Party … today his faculties.

So if you’re keeping score at home, shifting blame away from Hitler is beyond the pale for Donald Trump. But getting the endorsement of one of Buchanan’s own favourites is not worth disavowing.

oil-derrick-dfe

There are many ways in which the sudden and suddenly-political death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has the potential to impact the ordinary lives of every citizen. So far, no one has declared an upside, which is a statement unto itself. We here at DFE decided to take a look from the perspective we know best.

There are a number of cases either before the Supreme Court right now, possibly held up over the threatened year of inaction between now and Election Day, or heard but not yet ruled on. Many of those either rely on the legal interpretation of science or affect interests of the scientific community.

One big story that’s not really getting a lot of play in mainstream channels is the fate of the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan is the Obama Administration’s EPA plan for cutting emissions at power plants. Power plant hydrocarbon emissions make up a substantial 40% of the total for the United States. The Obama Administration plans to leave as its environmental legacy a system aimed at cutting those emissions by 2030.

But the bombshell from just a week and a half ago was that the Supreme Court ordered the program halted pending a hearing in the Court. That hearing could be pending for quite some time if Republicans make good with their post-election nomination plans. And if a Democrat wins the White House, they may find some new excuse to stall longer.

The Clean Power Plan is a fairly modest proposal that doesn’t even set the goal of the program for another four years. It stipulates that emissions in 2030 will not be more than 16% less than those in 2020. Legally loopy enough for you? Well, get ready for the reason the SCOTUS put the Clean Power Plan on hold:

The various parties challenging the Clean Power Plan, which include multiple states and energy companies, raise several disagreements with how the EPA has interpreted its own authority to regulate under the Clean Air Act. The most difficult question presented by this case, however, isalso the most absurd. A quarter-century ago, Congress enacted two conflicting amendments to the Clean Air Act. One of these amendments arguably prevents the EPA from moving forward with the Clean Power Plan, the other does not.

It is as if Schrödinger’s cat were written into the United States Code. The cat is both alive and dead. The Clean Power Plan is both legal and illegal.

In other words, there is nothing about the letter of the law that is unconstitutional. This is only a matter of which cat gets to exist, based on neither random chance nor on cosmic coincidence. Purely – exclusively – based on politics. And now the politics of the Supreme Court may be changing. Will be changing, one way or the other.

As if their prospects weren’t already looking, well,.. a little mealy in the first place,.. it really begins to seem like Republicans are planning to campaign on the SCOTUS vacancy. Like it or not, without confirmation hearings, SCOTUS will be a big part of the campaign. For a really long time.

Almost a year. Through all the debates. Every single time you hear a Republican speak or be interviewed, the question will come up. One will accuse the other of wanting to appease Obama. The other will complain about a negative attack advert featuring Scalia’s face. Over and over and over again.

How long before the public is just straight-up bored and filled with resentment of the topic by Election Day? How soon before late night comedians are making snarky, “just get it over with” jokes on a nightly basis?

If anyone on the Democratic side chooses to use the topic to highlight the profound lack of appointments in the Republican-led Senate, people might start asking questions. Why is this almost OCD obsession with obstruction necessary?

It just seems like a long-term loser, to me.