Friday, December 23, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: Practically Christmas

It's practically Christmas, but today's update has nothing to do with the holiday.  Enjoy!

1. Donald Trump Expected to Retain a Private Security Force As President (New York Magazine)
Trump has retained his private security detail as president-elect, and he’s expected to carry on doing so even after inauguration — a move that’s both unprecedented and, in the eyes of some Secret Service agents, dangerous…
[T]he president-elect actually increased his spending on private security after he was provided such protection in November 2015: Even as Hillary Clinton outspent the GOP nominee by nearly 75 percent, Trump spent nearly three times as much on security contracting. In total, his campaign doled out more than $1 million on private security through the end of last month.
With that investment, Trump assembled an anti-protester intelligence squad, tasked with identifying people at his rallies who didn’t look like they belonged. Shockingly, this security team wracked up dozens of accusations of racial profiling and the use of undue force.
Meh.  Nothing ominous about that.
2. Blade Runner 2049

[T]he decisions of former LSU running back Leonard Fournette (pictured) and former Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey to skip their respective bowl games in preparation for the draft possibly is just the tip of the iceberg.
LSU was the first school to recruit
me for swimming.
Beyond the fact that other players inevitably will decide to not play in that one final game of their college careers, Fournette and McCaffrey have opened a door that eventually will lead to a player who: (1) has demonstrated skills that will make him a first-round draft pick; but (2) has not yet qualified for the NFL draft to skip the third year after the graduation of his high school class and spend that full season preparing for the draft (and not exposing himself to serious injury by playing football).
Eh.  We hear this every year.  But Fournette and McCaffrey are unique talents playing at a position that is notoriously hard on its players.  I don’t think anybody blames them in this instance, but to be fair, there are exactly thirty-two first round talents every year, and many of those don’t necessarily “grade” as first rounders according to NFL scouts.  For the rest, they need NFL scouts to see them on film, and that’s why they’ll keep playing.
With 128 FBS college teams and many more FCS and Division III schools, there are at least fifteen thousand college football players dreaming of getting drafted at any one time.  Okay, so maybe twenty can afford to skip their senior bowl games.  Less than a handful could actually skip an entire season, and even those would undoubtedly hurt their draft stock.
Bottom line: I think college football will be alright.
A Chinese vessel returned the submersible drone to a United States Navy ship in international waters off the Philippines, near where it was taken on Thursday, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, Peter Cook, said on the Pentagon’s website.
Since the Pentagon disclosed the episode on Friday and demanded the return of the ocean-monitoring device, American and Chinese officials have engaged in verbal sniping over the legality of the seizure, which took place roughly 500 miles from the coast of mainland China. In the latest announcement, Mr. Cook pressed home the official American position…
China’s opaque policy making, especially on military issues, has left outsiders guessing about who authorized the seizure, whether the act was meant to send a message, and, if so, whether that message was aimed at Mr. Trump. But the way in which the Chinese ship fished out the drone with a United States Navy ship nearby suggested a calibrated action, several analysts said.
This episode looked like straight tit-for-tat targeted at the President-Elect after he took a call from the President of Taiwan a few weeks ago and then publicly questioned the One China Policy.  Among others, Business Insider says the Chinese “came out on top” this time.  
Not exactly what was promised during the campaign, am I right?  Where’s all the “winning” I’m supposed to be getting sick of by now?  So far, the Chinese are making Trump their punk bitch.  We did see some aggressive tweets on Twitter, though, so maybe I’m reading it wrong.

Also: since our next war is clearly going to be a naval conflict in the South Pacific, does that affect Navy Football’s recruiting?  Asking for a friend.
5. Lovers’ Confession
Sally and I celebrated our anniversary yesterday.  With Christmas around the corner, anniversary presents don’t tend to be such a big deal at our house.  But I got the idea for a poem for her while I was riding my bike earlier this week, and I decided to see it through as an anniversary gift.  There’s not much you can do for a person that’s more personal than writing for them, which is something that Sally understands well since she is a writer herself.

Sally took me to Fairfield Craft Ales (@FairfieldCraft) to start last night's date.
After fits and starts, I called the damned thing “Lovers’ Confession”.

Lovers’ Confession
It’s true: our love is not a rose garden.
Petals fall not softly on the finger.
We go not gently; we seek no pardon.
Cross words, like passion, oft strike and linger.
Love can be venom and struggle and fight,
or shuddering ecstasy twining abed.
Holding each other alone in the night,
Times when no words can express what was said.
Truth of our love: joy and calamity,
Kissing, caressing, quivering pleasure,
Pain, tears, loss, and even insanity
Stand us together too often to measure.
Our love binds us whole when happiness fails,
Passion arises of love’s great travails.

That damned poem turned out to be the hardest, most seriously-minded piece I’ve written in a year or more.  It started as a Meatloaf riff running through my head—“I can see Paradise by the dashboard light”—and I decided to juxtapose that lyric against the idea of making love in a bed.  In a larger sense, this would represent the duality that exists in all marriage, that marriage is pleasure and pain in a single union.  We want it to be easy, but reality is that it only works when we work at it, when we put our whole selves into it.  Also: fighting is part and parcel to marriage because, really, we only fight because we care.
These thoughts, though, did not sit particularly well with the glib wordplay that came across in my first draft, especially because I started by trying to channel Meatloaf, and even more so once I realized that I’d accidentally started in the middle and therefore had to write a different opening.  Not to mention that my first bits of clever wordplay had all the wrong meter...
Anyway, judge for yourself.  All I’m saying is, I spent much longer on that poem than I thought I would.
That's all I've got this week.  Enjoy the holidays!

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