Deadspin: Joe Morgan Doesn’t Think Willie Mays Belongs In The Hall Of Fame   ◆

OK, Deadspin’s headline is a lie (or more charitably, clickbait), but their position on Morgan’s concerns about who belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame are spot on:

Yes, this shit again. There are two full months until the next class of inductees is revealed; this will be two full months of arguing about steroids and Barry Bonds and what exactly “character” entails with regards to evaluating the career merits of the big men who play a game with a stick and ball, triviality at its most insufferable; and the reliably grating discourse being especially so was kicked off with a bang today upon the deliverance of Morgan’s letter in the inboxes of Hall voters today.

Baseball’s always had different “eras”. It’s crazy to compare players from a hundred years ago to today’s, yet we do so all the time, despite modified rules, improved fitness levels, and changed fan expectations. The Hall of Fame should be all about on-the-field production, relative to the players’ peers.

Four stages of competence   ◆

The Four Stages of Learning provides a model for learning. It suggests that individuals are initially unaware of how little they know, or unconscious of their incompetence. As they recognize their incompetence, they consciously acquire a skill, then consciously use it. Eventually, the skill can be utilized without it being consciously thought through: the individual is said to have then acquired unconscious competence.

A reminder that we often don’t know what we don’t know1. You have to first figure out you don’t know something, then consciously decide to begin to know it.

It’s how we learn and grow.

  1. The last part of the “things you know you know, things you know you don’t know, and things you don’t know you don’t know” triumvirate. Or, as popularized by Donald Rumsfeld, “known knowns”, “known unknowns”, and “unknown unknowns”. 

Open Apple, closed Apple   ◆

Fun article from Christopher Phin in Macworld:

You can date an Apple user as accurately as a botanist counting rings to date a tree, and you don’t even have to cut them in half first.

What you do is work out what they call the Mac’s secondary modifier key. This is trickier to do than you might think, as evidenced by how I had to come up with that awkward description rather than name it myself and so skew your response.

I won’t spoil it, but I’m definitely what Phin calls “a more seasoned veteran”, though I certainly could be a “true keeper of the flame” considering my pre-Macintosh Apple experience.

Seeing White   ◆

From the Scene on Radio podcast, a 14-part series on “whiteness”:

Just what is going on with white people? Police shootings of unarmed African Americans. Acts of domestic terrorism by white supremacists. The renewed embrace of raw, undisguised white-identity politics. Unending racial inequity in schools, housing, criminal justice, and hiring. Some of this feels new, but in truth it’s an old story.

Why? Where did the notion of “whiteness” come from? What does it mean? What is whiteness for?

Fourteen utterly compelling episodes. A must listen, regardless of your “race”.

I Miss Barack Obama   ◆

David Brooks, writing for the New York Times one year ago:

[…] it feels as if there’s been a decline in behavioral standards across the board. Many of the traits of character and leadership that Obama possesses, and that maybe we have taken too much for granted, have suddenly gone missing or are in short supply.

That was about the campaign, and the decline seems to have continued its downward trend since the election.

Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss, and that I suspect we will all miss a bit, regardless of who replaces him.

It’s safe to say that none of those adjectives will ever be used to describe the current White House occupant, without a negation in front.

New York Times 1992 Book Review of The Men Who Pulled the Triggers   ◆

The phrase “Ordinary Americans” in the aforelinked piece struck me as familiar, in the context of the Holocaust.

A brief search suggested why: a book titled Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland.

Walter Reich wrote in a 1992 New York Times Book Review:

We know a lot about how the Germans carried out the Holocaust. We know much less about how they felt and what they thought as they did it, how they were affected by what they did, and what made it possible for them to do it. In fact, we know remarkably little about the ordinary Germans who made the Holocaust happen — not the desk murderers in Berlin, not the Eichmanns and Heydrichs, and not Hitler and Himmler, but the tens of thousands of conscripted soldiers and policemen from all walks of life, many of them middle-aged, who rounded up millions of Jews and methodically shot them, one by one, in forests, ravines and ditches, or stuffed them, one by one, into cattle cars and guarded those cars on their way to the gas chambers.

We’re no where near rounding up millions of anyone and killing them, but this is incremental. Again, from the review:

The Jews were presented not only as evil and dangerous but also, in some way, as responsible for the bombing deaths of German women and children. Another factor was the process of dehumanization: abetted by Nazi racial theories that were embraced by policemen who preferred not to see themselves as killers, Jews were seen as less than people, as creatures who could be killed without the qualms that would be provoked in them were they to kill fellow Germans or even Slavs.

Evil and dangerous. Responsible for deaths. Dehumanization. Less than.

Sound familiar?

From the review, one more time:

CLEARLY, ordinary human beings are capable of following orders of the most terrible kinds. What stands between civilization and genocide is the respect for the rights and lives of all human beings that societies must struggle to protect. Nazi Germany provided the context, ideological as well as psychological, that allowed the policemen’s actions to happen. Only political systems that recognize the worst possibilities in human nature, but that fashion societies that reward the best, can guard the lives and dignity of all their citizens.

Ordinary Americans, whether in positions of authority or not, must recognize their role in how other human beings are treated.

Handcuffing a five-year-old child or a 65-year-old woman, or denying people food and bathrooms, does not protect this country. It only dehumanizes us all.

Ordinary Americans carried out inhumane acts for Trump   ◆

Chris Edelman in the Baltimore Sun:

When we worry and wonder about authoritarian regimes that inflict cruelty on civilians, we often imagine tyrannical despots unilaterally advancing their sinister agendas. But no would-be autocrat can act alone. As a practical matter, he needs subordinates willing to carry out orders. Of course, neither Donald Trump nor Steve Bannon personally detained any of the more than 100 people held at airports over the weekend pursuant to the administration’s executive order on immigration, visitation and travel to the United States. They relied on assistance.

The men and women who reportedly handcuffed small children and the elderly, separated a child from his mother and held others without food for 20 hours, are undoubtedly “ordinary” people. What I mean by that, is that these are, in normal circumstances, people who likely treat their neighbors and co-workers with kindness and do not intentionally seek to harm others. That is chilling, as it is a reminder that authoritarians have no trouble finding the people they need to carry out their acts of cruelty. They do not need special monsters; they can issue orders to otherwise unexceptional people who will carry them out dutifully.

This behavior that worries me. Petty acts by petty actors with delusions of power. It’s bad enough to be “following orders”, quite another thing to do so without compassion.

Keep It Simple and Take Credit   ◆

Democracy Journal:

When society decided citizens should be able to read, we didn’t provide tax credits for books, we created public libraries. When we decided peoples’ houses shouldn’t burn down, we didn’t provide savings accounts for private fire insurance, we hired firefighters and built fire stations. If the broad left takes power again, enough with too-clever-by-half social engineering. Help people and take credit.

It’s great to do good, but people need to know Democrats are the ones doing good. Why hide your light under a bushel?

After all, it ain’t bragging if it’s true.