Rio Olympics: American Women are Pre-eminent

August 24, 2016

Tuesday, January 23, 2016

In Top Effort by U.S., American Women Are Pre-eminent

By Jere Longman

Rio De Janeiro–“…The size and depth of the American States team resulted in the most gold (46), silver (37) and bronze (38) medals of any nation…

Most striking was the performance by the American women.  The American men won 18 gold medals, the same as Britain.  But the American women were dominant with 27 (not including a gold in mixed doubles tennis).  Had the women competed as a separate country, they would have ranked third in the overall medal count…

There are two primary reasons for this pre-eminance.  The United States is one of the few countries to embed sports within the public education system. And equal access to sports for women comes with legal protections, gained with the education amendment known as Title IX in 1972 and the Olympic and Amateur Sports Act in 1978.

About one of every two American girls participates in sports in high school, according to the U.S.O.C., nearly 85 percent participated in university-funded sports…

A level playing field benefits all athletes and helps our medal chances,’ said Jill Geer, a spokes woman for U.S.A. Track & Field.”

A level field includes not only the field itself, but the protections for women instituted in 1972 and 1978 at both the high school and the university levels.  When I was at U.C. Berkely before these laws there was no such protection and money was allocated to men first.  Women were on the U.C. tennis team,  but no women’s U.C. swim team.  I organized a intra-residence and sorority women’s group to compete: there was a butterfly-breast Olympic gold winner competing in our little group weekly, as well as other young women winning medals, one a silver medal in the back stroke and a gold in the relay.  And the young women in a local synchronized swim team had won national titles, but not for U.C.  This changed in the ’70s.

Surfing to Success

August 21, 2016

The Economist, August 13, 2016

The leisure economy

Surfing to Success: Quality waves create a surge in economic activity.

Quality waves bring surfers who need somewhere to sink a cold beer and snooze. Nearby towns also get a boost as surfers roll in for suppplies or, for the less talented, medical care.  The better the waves are, the greater the surge in economic activity–but only to a point.  The biggest, purest breakers are suitable only for pros (or novices with scant regard for personal safety). 

Waves, it turns out, are no drop in the ocean.  High-quality waves, the authors (Thomas McGregor and Samual Wills of Oxford University) estimate, generate economic activity worth $50 billion per year globally.  That’s around @420million annually for each place with good surf.  

According Messrs McGregor and Wills, to catch the economic benefits, countries need stable politics and a decent business environment…”

California Law Lowers the Bar on Gun Confiscations

July 4, 2016

The Wall Street Journal, Saturday/Sunday, July 2-3, 2016

California Law Lowers the Bar on Gun Confiscations, by Zusha Elinson

“…authorities in California are using a new law designed to prevent the next mass shooting by temporarily confiscating guns from people considered a danger to themselves or others.

Under the confiscation law, which went into effect in January, California residents can lose their weapons without being convicted of a crime or being institutionalized.  Police or immediate family members must persuade a judge to sign a gun violence restraining order, which lasts up to 21 days but can be extended.  The law has so far been used to seize guns in 33 cases…”

See “sportsidioms.com” for explanations about low bars and high bars in track meets.  The metaphor in this title is derived from track and field sports: high bars are more difficult than low bars for people to jump over.

“Hope Trumps Fear”

May 13, 2016
  1. The New York Times INTERNATIONAl, Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mayor Assails Politics of Fear, by Steven Erlanger and Stephen Castle

LONDON: “The new mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said on Wednesday that his election in the face of a divisive campaign high-lighting his religion is a lesson to Donald J. Trump that Islam is perfectly compatible with Western values.

Mr. Trump is ‘playing into the hands of extemists’ and is ‘ignorant about Islam,’ Mr. Khan said…’But London,’ he said, ‘chose unity over division, and a rejection of the politics of fear,…What we have shown, and I hope it’s a lesson that Hillary and others in America take on board, is hope trumps fear,’ he said, adding ‘forget the pun.”

In Bridge, a trump card wins over other cards.  In the above paragraph hope trumps or wins over fear. 

 

 

 

 

Can Trump Get the Ball in the End Zone on the First Ballot?

April 13, 2016

New York Times April 13, 2016

The Opinion Page:  OP-ED, by Thomas E. Edsal

No Paul Ryan Means Still More Anger

“With Ryan out of the equation, the next president will win not because he or she is the most loved, but because he or she is the least hated…

If Paul Ryan really meant what he said, the Republican Party has lost its best chance to take the White House and maintain control of the Senate…

No one illustrates these internal contradictions more colorfully than Alex Castellanos, a media consultant…  Six weeks ago he said, ‘ Trump earned the nomination. He won it fair and square…’

On April 3, Castellanos thought better of his earlier assessment and produced a sharp critique of all the remaining Republican Candidates:

‘If Mr. Trump is one hundred or more votes away from the nomination it is unlikely he can find the delegates to get the ball in the end zone on the first ballot. He will turn the ball over on downs though nearly at the goal line. On the second ballot, he drops 100 or 200 votes or more and starts bleeding. Ultimately, he bleeds to death on the convention floor—which you think would be good news for the candidate in second place, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) unless of course, you’ve met Senator Ted Cruz.’

Castellanos was particularly dismissive of Cruz:

‘Senator Cruz has no value beyond an alternative to Donald Trump. If Trump collapses, the need for Ted Cruz evaporates, so Cruz is at risk of collapsing, too. Senator Cruz is the unpleasant medicine the Republican Party is willing to swallow when it is sick, but not when it is feeling healthier As Donald Trump backs out of the convention hall, Cruz is likely to get a run but then fall short, which gives John Kasich his moment..”

It’s American football season, as well as the presidential ball season.  Which is more interesting?

How G.O.P. Elites Lost The Party’s Base to Trump

April 13, 2016

New York Times, Monday, March 28, 2016

How G.O.P. Elites Lost The Party’s Base to Trump

Rupture Emerged as Working-Class Voters Felt Ignored by Republican Leaders  

By Nicholas Confiessore

Done Nothing to Move the Ball

“… While jobs in places like Buffalo were vanishing, Washington was coming to resemble a gilded city of lobbyists, contractors and lawmakers. In 2014 , the median wealth of members of Congress reached $1 million, about 18 times that of the typical American household, according to disclosures tabulated by the Center for Responsible politics. During the same year, real hourly wages remained flat or fell for nearly All American workers.

Ed McMullen, a public relations executive who worked for the Conservative American Heritage Foundation in the 1980s, watched the gulf widen between the Washington establishment and the working people in his home state, South Carolina.

‘Thirty years later, the same people are sitting in Washington that I worked with, making a million a year, going to fancy dinner parties, and they’ve done nothing to move the ball,’ said Mr. McMullen, who has joined the Trump campaign. ‘Therein lies the great chasm between the think tanks, the ideologues and the real world.”

A Faceoff: A Clash of Religious and Business Interests in Georgia

March 29, 2016

A  New York Times, Wednesday, March 23, 2016

NATIONAL

A Faceoff:  A Clash of Religious and Business Interests in Georgia

Governor Faces Heat on Bill to Aid Opponents of Same-Sex Marriage, by Alan Blinder

Atlanta–“The Georgia General Assembly’s approval of a proposal to strengthen legal protections for opponents of same-sex marriage has set in motion a high-stakes show down that has drawn some of the nation’s most influential companies into a battle between gay rights activists and religious conservatives.

The bill, which approved on Sunday, now faces the scrutiny of Governor Nathan Deal, a Republican.  But it is clear that companies and sports organizations, including Apple, Coda-Cola, Delta Air lines  and the National Football league, will have a significant effect on public debate and the governor’s decision to sign or veto the measure.

The face-off playing out here in the Deep South’s most visible city, where residents are most often at odds with a largely rural state, is posed to emerge as one of the most consequential tests of political power on gay rights issues since the United States supreme court decision last summer that recognized a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

A face-off is basically a confrontation.  In sports, in the games of LaCrosse and ice hockey, the two teams have a face-off at the beginning of a game when an official drops a puck between two opposing players.

 

Opening Next Frontier in Political Hardball

March 20, 2016

New York Times National, Monday, February 15, 2016

NEWS ANALYSISOpening Next Frontier In Political Hardball, by Emily Bazelon

“It takes no feat of imagination to guess how the debate about replacing (Supreme Court) Justice Scalia, who died unexpectedly on Saturday, will take shape.  Within a couple of hours of his death, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader joined by fellow Republicans like Ted Cruz, said that Justice Scalia’s seat on the United States Supreme Court should remain vacant until after the November presidential election.

It’s called delay, delay, delay,” Donald J. Trump said at the opening of the presidential debate on Saturday night.  Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, countered that it would be “unprecedented in recent history” for the Supreme Court to go a year without a full complement of justices.  Before the evening was over, President Obama promised to nominate a successor, saying he expected a timely Senate vote.”

Baseball has two balls, hard and soft.  The Big League Baseball teams play with hard balls.  The implied connotation of “Political Hardball” is that the Republicans and Democrats will play hard to deny a vote or get a justice confirmed.

 

Should Obama Drive the Ball Up the Middle

March 20, 2016

New York Times, Saturday. March 19, 2016

OUR BEST COMMENTS FOR THE WEEK

“This wasn’t the time for compromise. With Trump and Cruz fighting for the nomination, Democrats and Obama should drive the ball hard up the middle and quit trying to be cute and clever. “

Principia in St. Louis reacting to President Obama’a selection of Merrick Garland as a nominee for the Supreme Court.

A drive up the middle is an aggressive move in baseball, and a suggestion for President Obama.  As an idiom, it is similar to “play hard ball.”

Harvard Leveling the Playing Field

January 25, 2016

The New York Times, January 15, 2016

How Some Would Level the Playing Field:  Free Harvard Degrees, by Stephanie Saul

“Should Harvard be free?

That is the provocative question posed by a slate of candidates running for the Board of Overseers at Harvard, which helps set strategy for the university.  They say Harvard makes so much money from its $37.6 billion endowment that it should stop charging tuition to undergraduates…”

Another provocative question: Does Harvard short change Asian-Americans in admissions?

“Their argument is that if Harvard were free, more highly qualified students from all backgrounds would apply, and the university would no longer have trouble balancing its class for racial or ethnic diversity–making sure that Asian-Americans do not lose out.”

A playing field that is tilted, not level, is not fair to the players.  Harvard is trying to balance its classes for racial or ethnic diversity.