So yeah—Oral Roberts has a gay grandson, and his name is Randy. An ordinary person might find humor in the names Randy and Oral, just as he might predict that at least one lineal descendent of television’s most virulent homophobe would be gay. But Oral Roberts is not a normal person, and the whole thing blew his mind. One forgets that although we are all on the same planet, we live in emphatically different worlds. It’s Friday, and one person’s foundational assumption is another’s stunning discovery. This week’s link roundup is about the difference between how we live—and, by extension, how we assume others live—and how they actually do. I think you will find it touching and disturbing in turn.
Let’s start with touching.* I know many of you do not follow mixed martial arts for some baffling reason, which means you are missing out on several things. One is the fantastic sportswriting of Ben Fowlkes, and another is the Diaz brothers. The two collide in this fascinating examination of what it means to enter the world of sport from a world of desperate poverty, also known as Stockton. If you are wondering what Stockton does to a child’s mind, consider this photo of the Diaz siblings, aged approximately eleven. Those children are set against the world. The best part of the article, though, is Ben’s charitable—I’m going to say large-hearted, actually—meditation on what it might mean to be the older brother in the Nick/Nate dyad. Nick Diaz may be the most mercurial and evidently hate-filled fighter in MMA, but he is a good brother.
Meanwhile, on the absolute other end of human experience, Mitt Romney’s former business partner explains to the Times that wealth inequality is a good thing. Edward Conard’s greed-is-good argument is nothing new, but the zeal with which he advances it is striking. He disdains lawyers, for example, because they avoided risk by entering professions that do not maximize their income. Conard’s derisive term for such people is “art history majors,” but he considers it an injustice that they have the same distaste for him. “Most citizens are consumers, not investors,” he tells the Times. “They don’t recognize the benefits to consumers that come from investment.” Conard estimates the value of these benefits at $20 for every $1 investors take home—a number he seems to have pulled out of thin air. His claim that the ongoing transfer of wealth to the richest generates money for non-investing consumers makes a lot of sense, provided you do not think for even one second about where investment returns come from.
Art history majors do complain a lot, though. Back in our ancestral homeland, University of Iowa student Jordan Ramos has been prevented from dancing on the raised platform at the Union Bar. As any Hawkeye will tell you, that platform is for skanks, and Ramos is a “plus-sized individual.” They overlap, see, but they’re not the same thing. Union owner George Wittrgraf has publicly apologized to Ramos and other overweight women who have been prevented from table dancing at his establishment, which is what Ramos originally wanted. She is still going ahead with a planned protest tonight, though. “They should publicly apologize to every single person they’ve done this to and admit that they do discriminate,” she told Gawker. “I want it in writing that every paying customer will be allowed in this establishment and allowed up on the platform and on the dance floor.” It’s a noble cause, but Ramos may be headed for a pyrrhic victory. Four words: prospective employer Google search.
Meanwhile, in actual violations of civil rights, David Shipler has noticed how many of the terrorist plots foiled by the FBI in recent years were also masterminded by the FBI. Sting operations are nothing new, but they have historically been conducted against people who have already committed the crime for which they are being stung—agents buy drugs from drug dealers, for instance. They do not find guys who want to sell drugs but can’t figure out how, give them a kilo and then bust them. Yet James Cromitie, recently sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiring with an FBI informant to blow up two synagogues, required “11 months of meandering discussion and a promise of $250,000” to pursue a terrorist plot. As one of the 300-odd million people funding the FBI—also targeted by it, but whatever—I would like to know how much it cost to get that guy off the streets.
We as a nation could be using that money for more meaningful projects—you know, like this:
Yes, I like that song. Yes, I recognize that it is the sad decline of Nicki Minaj. What can I say? I’m a production guy.