Saturday, October 11, 2014
A Leftist Attempts to Defend Football
Jonathan Chait, attempting to defend one of the left's new whipping boys, football, makes lots of valuable points, but I was amused by the following passage:
Football tends to attract boys suffering from testosterone poisoning, and certainly it is far from a surefire cure. Perhaps we'd all be better off if boys could be guided into totally peaceful pursuits, but not all teenagers are cut out for chess club. Football channels boys' chauvinistic belligerence into supervised forms, shapes them within boundaries, and gives them positive meaning. These virtues, like those often attributed to the military, can feel like clichés imported from an earlier era -- and yet discipline and directed ambition are, as every social scientist knows, the bedrock of success in adulthood. And also like the military, that other bastion of social authoritarianism, football has actually changed with the culture -- its disregard for player safety and its misogynistic conflation of weakness with femininity have shrunk from the norm to the hoary exception. To cite just one example, over the last dozen years, the program Coaching Boys Into Men, which uses coaches to teach male athletes to respect females, has flowered nationally. Football has fallen victim to the paradoxical dynamic by which liberal culture's awareness and sensitivity have succeeded in reducing violence but in so doing made the problem of violence seem even more anachronistic. [my bold]Testosterone poisoning? Can the left become any more derivative or second-handed? How is replacing the misogynistic error of equating moral weakness with a caricature of femininity any better than the misandrous one of equating barbarism with a caricature of masculinity?
"If you like the idea of being self-employed someday, start now by developing a 'self-employment attitude.'" -- Michael Hurd, in " 'Work for Yourself' Applies to All of Us" at The Delaware Coast Press
"If you start to unfavorably compare yourself to others, stop!" -- Michael Hurd, in "The Antidote to Envy" at The Delaware Wave
"[P]oorly designed [Electronic Health Records] can impede physician workflow and jeopardize patient safety." -- Paul Hsieh, in "Did Bad EHR Software Lead to Ebola Patient Being Sent Home?" at Forbes
My Two Cents
Hurd's article on self-employment reminds me of an imperfect analogy I once drew between having an employer and being self-employed: Having an employer is like being self-employed -- and having only one client. As Hurd indicates, this situation can make certain things easier, but it also has major pitfalls. Whatever "security" comes from that situation is due to a trading-off of the insulation -- from the loss of that client -- that other clients could bring.
Keeping the Raccoons Out
From an article about one man's effort to solve the problem of raccoons getting into Toronto's trash bins, while not making it too difficult for humans to use them:
"We've devised all sorts of ways of protecting our garbage, which all fail," says Michael Pettit, an associate professor of psychology at York University, who has studied the history of animal behavior, including that of raccoons. The success of the city's aggressive raccoons have struck fear into the hearts of Torontonians. Even Toronto Mayor Rob Ford confessed to the media that his family was too frightened to take out their trash. "Everyone I know has had to evict a raccoon from their house," says Pettit. "Everybody has a raccoon story."The solution -- which will soon undergo a massive field test -- appears to be to create a latch that requires an opposable thumb.