On June 27, I wrote an article for Deadspin on how to link up with a regular pickup basketball game in a way that does not end with all the regulars silently hating you. It is reprinted below.
For most of my adult life, I have managed to play basketball two or three times a week. I do this because it is significantly more fun than, say, spending a joyless half-hour on a worn treadmill in some windowless YMCA basement, and at 29, my knee still has yet to explode like poor Shaun Livingston’s. But like every Millennial with an overpriced graduate degree, I have also moved around plenty, logging stints in five major cities (or four, depending on how you feel about Boston) over the past ten years. This means that I am very familiar with the feeling of showing up to a court full of total strangers, high tops in hand, and hoping for the best.
As a thin layer of vanilla protein powder dust settles on the post-Chad Bachelorette era, the show’s ever-meddling producers face an existential crisis. Now that this season’s de facto villain is off to a life of cutting grand opening ribbons at Crossfit gyms, they have to find some way to generate intrigue and convince us to entertain any outcome other than “Aaron Rodgers’ Younger Brother Jordan Rogers is going to win, because she so obviously likes him way more than anyone else, but we have to go through the motions with these other jamokes to fulfill ABC’s airtime needs.”
On June 15, I wrote an article for Crosscut talking about some of the psychology underlying the way people talk and think about homelessness. It is reprinted in its entirety below. (It’s also linked above, but don’t read the comments because the takes are definitely hot enough to singe your eyebrows.)
Why do people sometimes respond so negatively to those living in crippling poverty? There are a few simple, well-studied psychological strategies that people use to alleviate their inherent unease when confronted with severe inequality. Learning to better understand these unconscious thought processes can foster greater empathy, encourage realistic thinking about the issue, and spur progress toward meaningful solutions.
Remember when Detective Alonzo Harris, frustrated with Jake Hoyt’s reluctance to participate in, um, the police-orchestrated armed robbery and murder of a retired-cop-turned-drug kingpin, screamed “THIS SHIT’S CHESS, IT AIN’T CHECKERS” at his visibly terrified protege at the end Training Day?
That’s what I kept thinking of while watching Chad absolutely burn down these first four episodes of The Bachelorette. From the jump, the others housemates’ attitude toward Chad could be fairly summarized as, “Hey, dude, don’t be such a dick.” But this generic take doesn’t quite do justice to the unique brand of anarchy that Chad brings to Agoura Hills. He makes people uncomfortable not because he’s rude, or because he’s the Bachelorette villain du jour, or even because he’s not there for The Right Reasons. It’s because he decided to play a totally different game than anyone else, this season or ever! While Chase and Derek goofed around with toy lightsabers, Chad was hoisting that gigantic broadsword that Mel Gibson strapped to his back in Braveheart. Jordan and Luke sat on the balcony played Battleship, while Chad chugged up and down the coast launching missiles at the Bachelor Mansion from an ACTUAL battleship.
One of the Bachelor franchise’s dumbest and yet most hallowed tenets is that all contestants must accept the unimpeachable truth that the eponymous single lad or lady is really, REALLY desirable. The contestants are to think of themselves as deeply fortunate to be in the mix, and must unquestioningly treat the mere CHANCE to win the title character’s heart as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for which they can and should do ANYTHING. If for some reason you don’t feel this way, then you’re not there for THE RIGHT REASONS, and a bunch of white guys in fitted v-neck t-shirts who were all social chairs of their fraternities in college are going to have WORDS with you, bro.
The season premiere of The Bachelorette is a reasonable approximation of what would happen if you attended a high school reunion to which only classmates you didn’t particularly like were invited, and you all stayed in the same garishly decorated mansion and drank for 36 hours, and everyone complied with a strict “Club Monaco Only” dress code. The forced conversation, insincere bro hugs, and open scorn for stubble-faced fellow strangers are hallmarks of every season’s kickoff, and I’m not sure it’s possible for one to begin a Journey for Love in any other way.
This time around, Aaron Rodgers’ Younger Brother Jordan Rodgers (his full, legal name) scored the coveted First Impression Rose and emerged as the frontrunner despite telling Jojo that he “retired” from pro football, which is a…delicate turn of phrase. Retirement connotes a certain level of agency that is lacking when one no longer does something because, um, no one else thinks they are good at it or wants them to do it anymore. I really should have deployed that that line at least ONE of the times I got cut from my high school basketball team.
On May 25, I wrote an article for The Seattle Times arguing that the city should strengthen the rules protecting the fundamental property rights of homeless residents before conducting “sweeps” of unauthorized homeless encampments. It is reprinted below. If you have time, go read the commenters on the Times website, who serve up takes so hot that I want to crush them into powder and sell them in baggies.
If you’re lucky, a sweep starts with a flier. A copy-paper-sized posting informs residents of a homeless encampment that they have three days to go somewhere else — anywhere else. And at the appointed time — or, too frequently, at a different time — cleanup crews, dumpsters and backhoes arrive to quietly and efficiently wipe anything that remains from the map.