California: The Two-State Solution

California, you have the least equal citizens in America. Each Californian has one-twenty millionth of a vote in the United States Senate.

With 12% of the nation’s population, California has exactly 2% of the votes in the senate. Same as Wyoming, which means that for every vote a California citizen gets in the senate, a Wyomingite gets seventy.

This injustice, embedded in the Constitution, is old news. The framers gave each state two senators, regardless of population. They did this for two reasons: to placate the small states, which seems silly now, and to get the slave states to ratify, which was the mother of all corrupt bargains. read more

America the Lucky?

I don’t want to be a buzzkill during the holiday season. This column ends on a joyful note, I promise. But as 2017 draws to a close, there is a dire truth we must confront. Democracy is under severe pressure world-wide.

Democracy is in retreat, even in places where it has been around long enough to take for granted, and that’s part of the problem.

Democracy is in bad odor in much of the world in 2017. People have lost faith and who can blame them? Democracy has proven ineffective at defending them against devastating income and power inequalities. read more

Read a Book

Nothing is less welcome than unsolicited good advice. It comes with too many negative assumptions, like I know better, and you don’t.

I don’t like it when someone tells me I should give up cigars and take up soccer. I am well aware that the best advice in the world will be resented and ignored if not offered with humility and grace.

Such delicate manners have never been my strong suit, but meager though they are, I am willing to exhaust my supply to share one invaluable insight that has made my life richer, and could do the same for you, I humbly believe. read more

Postseason Postmortem

Thank God, it’s finally over. By the end of this beatdown of a season the Giants were reduced to one forlorn goal. Don’t lose a hundred games. They didn’t, and that’s the best you can say about 2017.

The record will show 98 losses against 64 wins. Dead last in the National League, and tied with Detroit in the American League, a team we faced, and swept, in the World Series five years ago.

How bad is 64-98? Turn it around and see. In our three championship years of 2010, 2012 and 2014, we never won 98 games. Our high-water mark was 94 wins, in 2012. We were worse this year than we were good in our World Series years. Those years we made history; this year, we were historically bad. read more

The Lukewarm War: Part Two

Last month, I argued that we are in a Lukewarm War that is getting hotter by the moment. Those moments keep coming faster.

North Korea launched a missile directly over our ally Japan. That was a reckless, impermissible act. Then it got worse; North Korea announced it had tested a Hydrogen Bomb. In a month or a year they could top one of their ICBMs with a thermonuclear device. Kim Jong Ill isn’t bluffing anymore.

There are many other troubled spots on the globe. Our tit-for-tat diplomatic imbroglio with Russia keeps getting worse. NATO sweats every time Trump tweets. Putin rubs his hands with glee as our president does his job of destabilizing Europe for him. read more

The Lukewarm War: Part One

The world is in the throes of a Lukewarm War. And it is getting warmer every day. As I write these words, North Korea rattles a nuclear saber, and we meet their rants with our own. The peace of the globe hangs on the brink of that distant peninsula.

But there are many places in the world today that are one incident away from igniting the Lukewarm War into a hot one. A Russian plane shoots down an American one in Syria. Ukrainian rebels launch an attack towards Kiev. America responds….

Iran, infuriated by the Israeli response to the attack on the Temple Mount, decides it time to teach that state, which they’d love to destroy, a lesson. They launch some of their own missiles, which they’ve been testing and perfecting lately. Tel Aviv gets hit. Israel strikes back…. read more

Outrage is the New Black

(Trigger warning: If you’re a hypersensitive twerp you may feel unsafe in this column.)

It is time to party, my fellow Americans. Once again we come together to celebrate our national birthday and participate in our favorite ritual, internet shaming and outrage.

Nothing goes viral faster than some public person doing something it is possible to take offense at, because if it’s possible, everyone will.

While the medium of outrage is up-to-the-nanosecond Twitter feeds, our reaction is so old fashioned it’s quaint. read more

Curing my cold and capitalism

I recently came home from Palm Springs with a vicious cold. While I don’t hold the desert accountable for my current distress, I do blame capitalism.

You can’t watch TV without seeing endless ads for pharmaceuticals, usually for some dire condition. “Ask your doctor if Utrexa ™ (auxilimab) is right for you. Studies show you may live 53 days longer if you have small cell lung cancer that hasn’t responded to conventional chemotherapy. Side effects include swelling of the gums, incontinence, flatus, vomiting, coma and death.” read more

The Toxic Myth of Cultural Authority

I’ve been curious about the current explosion of sexual harassment scandals. Why now? Why all the high profile cases?

Some explanations occurred to me. One is that women are more vulnerable to sexual harassment now because they’re, rightly, more ambitious. In the old days locking down a good marriage prospect was enough for most women, not because that was all they were capable of, but because that was all the culture allowed.

Today, women are climbing into places previously forbidden to them. Those places are usually controlled by rich and powerful men. Many of those guys (they don’t deserve the honorific “gentlemen”) are trolls—in both senses of the word—and try to take liberties with young, ambitious women. read more

Requiem for Who’s Who in Baseball

For 101 years, a little red book called Who’s Who in Baseball, stuffed with players and stats between soft, glossy covers, arrived every spring. In 2017, it died. Disrupted, like so much else these days, by an efficient and soulless technology.

Who’s Who in Baseball was just a magazine. There will be no grieving relatives, crying hot tears as it’s lowered into the ground.

But for 101 years, before 101 opening days, Who’s Who in Baseball was there, on your coffee table, when you needed it. But not this year and never again. read more