Stick to baseball, 1/7/17.

I’ve been working on the top 100 prospects package, which begins a three-week rollout on January 18th, since New Year’s, so I didn’t write anything for Insider this week. My boardgame reviews continue, with a review of the Celtic-themed game Inis for Paste and a review of the boardgame and new iOS app for Colt Express here on the dish. I did hold my regular Klawchat on Thursday.

You can preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon, or from other sites via the Harper-Collins page for the book. Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter.

And now, the links…

  • Several former Justice Department lawyers penned an op ed claiming that Jeff Sessions is lying about his involvement in civil rights cases. They say, “Sessions knows that his real record on race and civil rights is harmful to his chances for confirmation. So he has made up a fake one.” In a rational world, that would end his nomination for Attorney General.
  • Venezuela’s ongoing political and economic meltdown may lead to a recall of president/dictator Nicolas Maduro, but he appointed a successor this week in new Vice President Tarek el Aissami, who is (or was) under investigating by U.S. authorities for drug trafficking.
  • Author Ryan Holiday wrote an insightful, somewhat angry piece on the ‘online diversity police’, folks who immediately decry the lack of diversity on any list or grouping (often inaccurately, as it turns out).
  • Lindy West wrote one of the week’s best, most important essays, on why she left Twitter after six years on the service, citing the endless abuse and the rise of neo-Naziism.
  • The Daily Beast exposed the long con of 55-year-old “millennial” comedian Dan Nainan, who tries to pass himself off as 35 and has fooled several media outlets as such.
  • Esquire has a longread on former Deadspin and Gawker EIC A.J. Daulerio, whose career was derailed by the Hulk Hogan sex tape lawsuit.
  • Grierson & Leitch each posted their top ten films of 2016, along with a 100-minute podcast where they reveal their lists to each other and discuss them. As usual, Leitch’s list comprises fairly well-known films, while Grierson’s has several films I’ve heard of and three that may not actually exist.
  • The eight-year-old transgender boy kicked out of a New Jersey Cub Scouts group after other parents complained talked to the Jersey Journal, as did his mother, about what happened, in a piece that also explores the psychiatric community’s evolving understanding of “gender dysphoria.”
  • Jill Saward’s death didn’t garner much coverage here either, but she was an important figure in the movement for sexual assault victims’ rights, as the first British rape victim to waive her right to anonymity and publicly discuss her case.
  • Will Trump’s election mark the return of civil disobedience? So far it has, but can the various movements opposed to the Republicans’ reactionary agenda keep it up for four or more years?
  • Let’s talk about the Russian hacking operation, which a US intelligence report says Putin ‘ordered’ to get Trump elected. David Remnick weighed in as well.
  • The Seattle Times called out Trump’s “reckless linkage” of vaccines to autism, desperate overwhelming evidence that there is no link.
  • Lauren Duca of Teen Vogue has quickly become one of the most important voices in political journalism, thanks to pieces like this one about the family selling access to the President-Elect at a party at Trumo’s Mar-a-Lago resort that made over $420K.
  • Republican Christine Todd Whitman headed up the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush, but she said she fears for the planet under a Trump regime for many reasons, including his denial of climate change.
  • The Washington Post‘s Dave Weigel outlines the Republican Party’s plan for a “sweeping conservative agenda” now that they control the White House and both houses of Congress. I’d dispute the word “conservative” here, though; this is very much an agenda written by and for white Americans, especially Christians, but doesn’t bear much resemblance to the traditional economic and libertarian-minded conservatism of Reagan or Buckley.
  • The political crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo hasn’t gotten much attention here amidst our own, but President Kabila hasn’t signed the agreement to end his rule, which has been marked primarily by his looting of the country’s coffers of millions of dollars.
  • Finally, the Huffington Post made news of nothing with a piece on Mark Zuckerberg apparently becoming an ex-atheist. I’m linking this for one major reason – my disdain for the need to classify people by their religious beliefs, something I first encountered on Wikipedia maybe a decade ago, where articles on people can be categorized by the subject’s religion. You can change your religious beliefs on a dime; you can lie about them (in many countries, you may have to); you can fail to fit in any neat bucket of beliefs. As a general rule, I don’t think your religion is any of my business unless you wish to make it so, so I particularly dislike the idea that you need to know what someone believes or, as in this case, that a possible change in the beliefs of a famous person are somehow newsworthy. I’ll be happier when Zuckerberg’s beliefs include extirpating fake news sites from Facebook.


  1. Are you guys ready for my boiling hot take?

    I think O.J.: Made in America is overrated. It was interesting early on but dragged on and was a chore to finish.

    • Ouch, I just burned myself on that take.

      I happened to love it, but I can totally understand anyone who didn’t think the whole 7 1/2 hours held them. It would make my top ten, but as I’ve said before I think I’ve only seen ten movies that were released in 2016 so far. (Still hoping to see at least a half-dozen more before the Oscars.)

    • I would recommend Nocturnal Animals. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think Tom Ford is on to something. Moana would also make my list. Manchester, Moonlight, and La La are on my list too. I think Hell or High Water is forgotten but worthwhile.

    • What the heck, since nobody asked, here’s mine:

      1) Green Room
      2) Moonlight
      3) Manchester By the Sea
      4) The Witch
      5) Tower
      6) The Wailing
      7) The Wave
      8) Midnight Special
      9) The Neon Demon
      10) The Lobster

      Tower in particular I hope gets to reach a wider audience. It’s a doc about the UT Austin bell-tower shootings 50 years ago, and it combines news footage with animation and rotoscoping to recreate the scene from several perspectives. The rotoscoping (animated frame-by-frame tracing of live actors and scenery) allows for some re-creation of the scene without it seeming too “acted out”. Highly recommended.

  2. Re Zuckerberg, I guess it depends how you define “newsworthy.” I find it interesting. If enough people find it interesting, does that make it newsworthy? I think that speculating on a public figure’s religious beliefs is unfair, but it does not appear that that article said anything that Zuckerberg himself did not say or do. If he volunteers it and enough people are interested, then is that okay?

    Religious beliefs matter I think, especially those of a politician or maybe someone like Zuckerberg who runs the website from which millions of Americans receive news.

    Wikipedia does have an obsession with religious beliefs though. Haha.

    • Religious beliefs matter insomuch as we, as a society, have decided they matter, particularly with respect to politicians (as you note). The problem is that they shouldn’t matter in any way. After all, discussing someone’s “religious beliefs” is really nothing more than a litmus test for determining if they’re Christian.

  3. Klaw, just curious on whether you stopped using q-tips for their most popular, although recommended against, use after the article you posted a few months back. Trying the experiment on how long I can make it currently.

    • As someone who punctured my eardrum with a Q-Tip (admittedly more due to my stupidity than the product), I highly recommend continuing the experiment for as long as possible.

    • I’ve cut way down on using them on my ears – not 100%, because sometimes they’re useful just for getting any water out after swimming or showering – but I still use them a lot in the kitchen for cleaning!

    • They’re good for keyboard cleaning and car radio cleaning too.

  4. The problem with religion is that it is almost impossible (in my opinion) for it to remain private. It always affects a person’s worldview, even if it is not intentional. And that matters, I think, if that person is in government, running a news/social media website, or even writing a novel or making a serious film.

    For me, “religious beliefs” is a litmus test for whether the person is a believer or not, regardless of particular faith. That’s important to me.

  5. As much as I’ve disliked Daulerio (e.g. creeping on Stuart Scott’s phone while the latter was texting someone he was trying to have an affair with…something like that, among all the other things listed in that article), I do hope he can overcome his demons.