The Whatever Digest, 9/10/18

So many things to do today, so little time to do it! Let’s zoom through a few things.


Hey, look, professional football has started its season. I realize this is an opener that most of you aren’t expecting from me, as I rarely evince any sort of interest in football or the NFL, but in point of fact for the last decade I’ve had a fantasy football team (the Churro Unicorns, previously the Mediocre Walloons) in a league my friend Norm put together. He asked me into it because they needed an extra person, so I said sure, let the computer make all my picks for me, and then engage with it only to swap out player on bye weeks. My team often does poorly, but sometimes it does well; I even finished at the top of the league one year. As a result, I keep up with what’s going on in the league, especially as it involves my key players.

Which this year includes Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay QB, who did quite nicely for me last night, despite being pulled from the game for a bit. I feel the computer made a solid choice giving him to me this year. Also I was delighted by the Cleveland Browns, none of whom are on my fantasy team but who are my current avatar of sports-related futility now that the Cubs had to go and wreck a magnificent 108-year losing streak by winning a mere World Series. The Browns broke their seasons-long losing streak, but not their not-winning streak, by tying their game with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It is, as many have noted, to most Browns way possible not to lose. Let’s see if they go 0-0-16, which, honestly, would be delightful.

I won’t know until tomorrow morning whether the Churro Unicorns have won their first game of the season, because my opponent (the Ponte Vedra Wolverines) has players in the game tonight. But the current score is 64 – 37, so they have a lot of ground to cover. I’m feeling good about my chances. But then, that’s what I say every year.


Les Moonves out: And good riddance. More than a year after the whole #MeToo movement got its push, we’re still seeing fallout, which isn’t surprising and which almost certainly will continue. CBS is trying to ward off some of the fallout by donating something like $20 million to women’s rights groups. That’s nice but it’s what happens internally at CBS that really matters. And I guess we’ll see. In the meantime, another famous and important man down, because he saw women as a perk, not as people.


Directly related to this topic, the Washington Post published what I think is a very good piece from the rabbi Danya Ruttenberg on the matter of famous abusers and the subject of forgiveness, and when (and if) they should ever be forgiven their transgressions. Ruttenberg comes at it from a rabbinical point of view, which makes sense given her vocation, but the reasoning is approachable for anyone.

And it comes down to this, as I understand it: before forgiveness — and before any return to public eye — comes work: Understanding what it is that one had done wrong and working on one’s self and righting the wrongs one has done. Only then may one ask for forgiveness, and seek that return. Without having done the work, the return to the public eye is precipitate, and unearned.

I think Ruttenberg is on the right track with this, and it also explains why, as an example, Louis CK’s appearance in a comedy club failed as badly as it did. Louis CK admitted he had done bad things, and went away, but there hasn’t been any evidence that he’s been doing to the work he should be doing, or making amends as he should. So when he shows up nine months later effectively acting like nothing has happened, or at least hoping everyone else will act like nothing has happened, well. It doesn’t compute.

I think you can change some of the order of the things rabbi Ruttenberg lists for forgiveness — I think you can apologize upfront and do the work after — but doing the work to better yourself is absolutely essential. And you have to do the work of bettering yourself for itself, without the expectation that at the end of it is a return to status of any sort. And that of course is the really hard part. Especially if you have been famous or have had power.

It seems easier just not to be a harasser, honestly.


And directly related to that topic, Sarah Silverman talks about Louis CK (scroll down in the interview), and how hard it is, as someone who’s known him and has loved him as a friend for years, to be objective about what’s going on with him. It’s not that she doubts any truth of what he’s done, or defends him, but as she says, “I can’t be objective. I can’t give you a good answer on this that you’ll be happy with or that I’ll be happy with because the whole thing makes me sad.”

You know what? I think that’s a perfectly good answer for Silverman to make, given who she is and her relationship with Louis CK. It doesn’t deny what he’s done and it doesn’t excuse what he’s done, and it also notes that she is not going to be able to give a satisfying statement for most people, because what is the issue of a celebrity fuck up to everyone else is something intensely personal to her, involving her friend. It’s wrapped up in an entirely different perspective.

The internet is a place where it’s easy to demand everyone publicly answer for everything, but I think it’s perfectly acceptable for people to say, in situations like this, “Hey, I’m too close to this and I’m going to deal with this privately.” Because they are, and it’s okay to acknowledge that fact. I recognize that, especially if both parties are well-known (as Silverman and Louis CK are) and otherwise outspoken, this sort of statement can seem unsatisfying or even a little hypocritical. But, you know what, well-known people are actually also people, not just the semi-fictional constructs we make them out to be. People are allowed to deal with personal shit away from the stage. If you demand that they can’t or shouldn’t, that’s your right, but maybe look at why you’re demanding such a thing.

Louis CK done fucked up; there’s no doubt about it. Sarah Silverman should be allowed to process the fact that her friend fucked up however she wants. So should any friend, in that situation.


Obama’s speech: Hey, remember when we had a president who could speak complete sentences about things that were not directly about him? Good times, good times.

Also: Hey, vote in November, okay?


And that’s the digest for today. Please enjoy this picture of Smudge as a parting gift. See you tomorrow.

33 Comments on “The Whatever Digest, 9/10/18”

  1. As a Bears fan expecting that game to be a blowout by the Packers, the way they lost was the most Bears thing possible.

  2. “Hey, remember when we had a president who could speak complete sentences about things that were not directly about him?”
    It’s too early in the week for uncontrollable sobbing here at work.

    Here in the mid-Atlantic we’ve got a hurricane heading right for North Carolina, and it looks like it’ll be a category 4 when it hits. I’ve got several friends who work for FEMA, which is spinning up as much as it can. (But one of them goes on maternity leave on Friday. Excellent timing for her.) Looks like it will be a repeat of Harvey, but in North Carolina, with possibly a yard of rain. I dread how the orange s**tgibbon in the White House will deal with this. Nevermind his enablers in Congress.

    Less than 2 months to the election, but 4 months to a new Congress that can restrain him.

  3. Joseph Finn is exactly correct up above. That loss to the Packers was so totally Bears, it could have been coached that way by John Fox, or any of the other former coaches going back to Dick Jauron and Dave Wannstedt. So totally, perfectly, Bears.

    (I heard Chris Collinsworth saying after the game “oh, the Bears should be happy, this was a toad game they should have won” and thought…really? Now THAT would be totally Bears. Let’s celebrate that loss as a game we should have won.”)

  4. Oh my, Smudge is growing. He is a very handsome cat.

    Hmm. Every joke I come up with about how big he’s getting keep becoming too tasteless in my eyes, so I’ll give that up. Best wishes to the human and feline family on your end.

  5. I know it’s just a figment of what’s behind him, but it looks like Smudge is wearing a crown. Good for him.

  6. I wonder at the work that a transgressor has to do in order to be allowed back into the public eye.

    Because Louis CK was a public figure, does that work have to be public? I”m guessing the answer must be yes, because the public gets to pass judgement on his comeback, even though the vast majority of us didn’t witness it. If he finds an audience willing to listen to him (and then to listen to him again following any backlash), does that mean he’s back?

    I do know there will always be some who want to veto any sort of return. I’ve witnessed enough “redeemed” politicians and celebrities to know that some never forgive. My brother was five years old in 1972, but won’t watch anything with Jane Fonda in it.

    I probably shouldn’t get a vote on Louis CK, because I was never a fan of his anyway. By “not a fan” I mean only that I was barely aware of his existence. I never made an effort to know his work when he was popular, so I doubt I’ll make an effort now.

  7. On the topic of forgiveness, or at least not making every crime a life sentence, do you have any comment about Olivia Munn getting a guy’s scene cut from the Predator movie because of his past crime? (Avoiding specifics to avoid triggering folks; it’s easy enough to find online.)

    Also, your comments about “doing the work” helped me understand why Charles S Dutton and Mark Wahlberg have been accepted by Hollywood despite their pasts. It looks like they’ve done the work. Thank you for that insight.

  8. Actually, I don’t think Mark Wahlberg has done the work; in my book, the lack of outreach to the Asian American community has shown him to be un-serious as far as I;m concerned.

  9. The stuff on forgiveness sounds a lot like what SorryWatch usually says. “A good apology uses the words “I’m sorry” or “I apologize.” It names the offense. It takes responsibility. It shows understanding of the effect — the impact — of the offense. It explains the steps being taken to ensure that the offense never happens again. And if possible, it makes amends or performs reparations.” In case you are not familiar with it, “How to apologize: a short checklist.” and “The parts of a good apology.”

  10. @JM: I think one of the important points about the Olivia Munn case is that the scene the sexual offender was in was one where his character was hitting on her character. Given his past, I think it’s a totally inappropriate choice by the director to chose that particular scene for his friend with a sexual offender past. I suspect Fox wouldn’t have made the director pull the scene if the actor had been in a short non-sexual interaction with another male actor.

  11. zibelyne says:
    Mediocre Walloons????
    Where did that one come from?

    My guess is that they are either Flemish laughing up their sleeves, or Walloons who don’t take themselves seriously.

  12. Re Walberg:

    “Though it was reported that Trinh was blinded in one eye during the attack, the victim said in 2014 that he’d lost the eye in a grenade explosion when he was with the South Vietnamese army in 1975.”

    “”He was young and reckless but I forgive him now,” Trinh told the Daily Mail. “Everyone deserves another chance. … I would like to see him get a pardon. He should not have the crime hanging over him any longer.””

    One of the weird corner cases is when the actual victim forgives the perpatrator, but the peanut gallery/public does not.

    I get when the public holds out for justice when the victim cant get justice themselves. But its weird when the victim has forgiven the perpetrator, but the public still wants their pound of flesh. A pound they dont actually deserve.

  13. I have in the meantime convinced myself that, like Churro Unicorns, they are pure fiction…

  14. Gwangung: “Trinh is not the only Asian American that Wahlberg has attacked”

    Have victims come forward asking for the pitchfork mob to help them get justice they cant get on their own? Because thats when i would call him out.

    Or if walberg’s behavior today indicated hes still a violent racist, i would support calling him out.

    If there are no victims coming forward, and if walberg appears to be repentent and not a racist today, then why would i call him out?

  15. I’m usually more of a dog lover, but Smudge is absolutely adorable. Directly related to that topic, if the Browns win a game, I would be more surprised than Smudge always looks. On that note, your book Redshirts is my favorite Sci-Fi comedy. Keep up the amazing writing.

  16. I’ve been avoiding all forms of (American) football until the concussion issue is fully addressed. I am excited about F.C. Cincinnati joining MLS, so I will be happily following MLS next year.

  17. On the subject of being cranky just to be cranky: folks, could you all have a look at the date, and kindly remember anniversary stress is a Thing that Happens. I suspect there’s a lot of people out there, like myself, who have brains which have been looking for something to get grumpy and miserable about so they could celebrate the Anniversary of The Day It All Went Pear-Shaped properly. (Particularly since there’s no “real” reason to celebrate it). This means there’s going to be a lot of people for the next couple of days who are going to be short-tempered and grumpy for reasons they don’t exactly understand, but which are nonetheless real.

    Might just be worth keeping that in mind, hmm?

    (Incidentally, this is why formal days of remembrance and such are a Good Idea – gives people something known to tie the feelings to, and a process of catharsis to exorcise them).

  18. Speaking of formal days of remembrance–Nov 11,2018 is the centennial of the Armistice ending WWI. It’s been a century now, and still the poppies grow in Flanders fields.

  19. Dear Megpie,

    While it is certainly true that those who forget the past court the risk of repeating it, the same can be said of those who pointlessly obsess about it. 17 years ago is 17 years ago. So what?! Move on.

    As it happens, September 11 is also the day that my Other Significant Other** and I got together, so for me it is a happy anniversary. If others choose to go, “Oh waily waily waily,” that is their problem. We shall make merry merry merry.

    And even if it weren’t, I have better things to do with my life than wallow in the past.

    [** it also happens that she was born on December 7. As she says, days that will live in infamy…]

    pax / Ctein

  20. Dear John,

    The good rabbi’s position is a near-universal one, not a specifically-Jewish thing. The Church, in fact most Christian sects, talk about atonement and redemption in exactly the same way. So do the various secular Reconciliation policies that have been invoked by various governments. You must actually DO SOMETHING to compensate for your transgressions.

    Assorted miscreants have whined about atonement — how long must they atone before they will be forgiven? Isn’t a year… or two… or whatever good enough? The universal failure is that none of them have in fact atoned. They have only acknowledged that they were bad, bad boys; they have taken none of the affirmative steps and actions atonement requires.

    They think of atonement as a “get out of jail free” card. It can indeed be a “get out of jail” card… but it is by no means free!

    It is a fair discussion to ask how much atonement is necessary before one can be forgiven. Every case will be different, every person will judge differently. But there is one clear cut answer: it is more than none!

    – pax / Ctein \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. 
    — Digital Restorations. 

  21. ctein: Most of what I was writing about was prompted by my brain (which lives in me, in Australia, and was, like the rest of me, nowhere near New York in 2001), which has been busy looking around for things to get miserable about for the last few days. Like, it remembers being sodding miserable on September 12 (because I’m in Australia and we’re about 8 hours ahead of you folks in the US) in 2001, in 2002, 2003 and so on, and this year around the 9th or 10th of September, it was pushing me to go find things to be miserable about, and making me miserable about them, because it’s gotten into the habit of being miserable in September at about the point the date moves into double digits.

    I figure I can’t be the only person on the planet who has a brain like that.

    Realising it as a conscious Thing helped me to realise what was going on, which is why I brought it up here, since I suspected it might (just might) be a subconscious motivator for some people’s crankiness. If it doesn’t apply to you, then it doesn’t apply to you.

    I am NOT spending huge amounts of time consciously brooding on the fact the USA collectively lost its marbles nearly twenty years ago and the way this has tainted politics and culture all around the frelling world – I’m dealing with an unconscious habit of thinking which has basically resulted in me being unnecessarily miserable at a certain time of the year. I’m also trying to help out others this might apply to by drawing attention to the phenomenon. Again, if this doesn’t apply to you, then it doesn’t apply to you.

    Best wishes.

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