Monthly Archives: May 2014

Your Running Shoes Don’t Matter

I’m a proud owner of a pair of Vibram FiveFingers.  In fact, it’s my second pair, I wore out my first pair with no adverse effects on my legs.  So I watch with amused disinterest when I see the various pro/con stories pop up.

This latest one, “Barefoot running shoe maker forced to withdraw health claims”, got me thinking.

Thing is, I also own a pair of Nike Frees.  And a pair of rather bulky Asics.  I rotate between all three for my runs.  And I can say this with confidence:

Your running shoes don’t matter.

Sure, the shoes feel different.  And they teach you different things about your stride.  My Vibrams taught me a lot about how bad my form was when I got them.  This just happened to coincide with a rigorous yoga/training schedule that included weight training, better diet, and less running.  Yes, less running.  Don’t knock it, it shaved almost a half hour off my marathon time, but that’s beside the point.

Here’s where I learned that if I wanted to be a faster runner, my form needed to improve.  And that’s why your running shoes, in the end, don’t matter.  The distance between your foot and the asphalt?  ¼ inch, tops.  If you’re thinking a proper cushion is going to make a lick of difference, you might want to rethink that.

No, it’s your footstrike that starts the cushioning.   The arch of your foot grips the road as it coils up, the shock travels up your leg and gets further absorbed by the thighs, hips, and then your core.  There’s your cushioning.  About four feet of muscles and tendons in a delicate trapeze to keep your torso gliding smoothly as a cloud over the road.

Sure, Nike and Vibram will tell you some BS about how your feet and calves will adapt to the strain of minimalis shoes.  They’re marketing departments and you should suspect them.  Is your form off?  Do you run with a hunched back and a potbelly?  Do you shuffle along like it’s a struggle to stay upright?  Your feet and shins are not designed to handle that kind of strain.  They will only crack and break.

It’s what I discussed with my friends at Phase IV – “overuse injury” is really a misnomer.  It’s really “overabuse” – that is, running for too long with a form that abuses specific joints not designed to handle stress.

Instead, look at the people that show off those light shoes in the ads.  They’re fit, trim, their abs are tight, and they run like they’re hovering over the ground.  If you want to avoid injury, you need to learn how to run like that.  That takes dedication.  It’s the kind of gait we aspire to as runners, it’s what we admire in awe when we watch elites glide down the road like a dream.

And when you keep this as the benchmark of injury free running, your running shoes don’t matter.

Sterlings should sue the LA Times, and further questions

Normally I’m one who defends established newspapers as an oasis of reason in an internet rumor mill.

But I cancelled my LA Times subscription promptly after reading their headline “Contrite, defiant Sterling only fuels further outrage” the day after Sterling tried to explain himself to Anderson Cooper.

I talked to a few of my law school friends, and outside the press frenzy about this, the consensus is pretty clear – Sterling had not given into a blackmail attempt.  The field day everyone is having with this, gleeful at the thought of publicly humiliating the Jew and taking his property, reveals really deep anti-Semitic roots in this town.

So, if we still do live in a nation of laws and courts, and not “the court of public opinion” (i.e. lynch mobs), we think the Sterlings have a real case against the Los Angeles times for False Image.  If not Defamation of Character.  I’d like to dissect this a bit, and probe some deeper questions about exactly what’s been going on in this city.

We can call out False Light on the LA Times for a number of reasons, and we can start with their characterization of the Anderson Cooper interview.  Anderson Cooper was more than fair with a man who came forward to represent himself.  The highlights were that he was set up by this woman, she goaded him to say things he wouldn’t ordinarily say, and she broke his trust.  This is the consensus of people who actually listened to that phone conversation.

What are the first three things the LA Times puts up?  “Donald Sterling attacked Lakers great Magic Johnson, suggested that African Americans have not done enough to help their community and blamed the media for creating the turmoil.”  An hour long interview, and these three questions were almost ancillary.

People could say that Sterling did not come off well.  But given the town press’s prejudice towards him, he could have just masturbated for an hour and it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference.  They have their attitude towards him and they cherry-picked the facts that fit.

A lie is defined as a “misrepresentation of fact.”  So in pure terms, we have a demonstrated fraud here, and it could be easily argued as False Light.  Of course I’m just posting this one article, but I think this article is quite representative of all the articles they’ve posted about him.  Other articles have painted him as suffering from dementia, actually wanting to lose his team, old man bigot product of a bygone era, I’d go on but it makes me sick just to think about how they’re painting him.

And the worst part is, in a nation of laws, not one opinion piece suggesting that maybe the accused has rights, and society should respect that.  No.  It’s just “you’re either with us or you’re a bigot.”

With this in mind, Is it any wonder that Mark Cuban came out and proudly declared himself a bigot?

On a tangent, good on you, Mr. Cuban.  I have a feeling the rest of the owners will close ranks behind Sterling, on the grounds of refusing to let an owner lose a team over blackmail.  If they are the sole voice of reason in this lynch mob, it makes a damning statement about capitalist democracy, that the only people who can run it responsibly are the capitalists.

But let’s take this further.

The charges can deepen into Defamation of Character, if there was no sexual relationship between Sterling and Stiviano.  For this I go by Sterling’s remarks in the Anderson Cooper interview, that he just thought some young woman cared about him and it’s hard to say no to that.  The theory is equally plausible that she came into his life with malicious intent and blackmailed the family with misleading recordings, and they had given her the house and cars to shut her up.

This is something for the Sterlings to ask themselves.  If there was no sexual relationship between the two, it’s Defamation of both Donald and Shelly to say their marriage is falling apart because he’s cheating on her with a younger woman.

And what a damning statement it would be, if they reaffirmed their marriage by denying an actual affair.  How much of a given was it, in this entire town, that he was paying for sex, if the reality is she was just a malicious gold-digger who took advantage of an old man’s trust?  How many entities could be held liable for fanning that slander?

And here’s where I’d like to add some more probing questions.

What’s going on in the editorial boards of the newspapers?  Why this lapse of basic rights of the accused?  I understand Los Angeles has deep anti-semitic roots – it’s why Jews settled in Beverly Hills, because they weren’t allowed to buy homes in Pasadena.  Does the editorial board of the LA Times have roots in this demon?  Do we need to bug their hallways to find out what’s going on?

What do the columnists say?  As I posted in a previous link, Michael Hiltzik actually defended Frank McCourt, saying his crimes aren’t the worst in baseball.  And that’s one of the first lessons I learned in politics – whenever someone gets busted for sex or drugs, it’s always about a deeper.  Was there some conspiracy to run him out of town so some older (whiter) money (Guggenheim Group) could take over?

And what is the deal with Magic Johnson, anyway?  He stands to be the main beneficiary of the Clippers scandal, being first in line to buy them in a city that worships him.  He was also the figurehead buyer of the Dodgers after the city kicked out Frank McCourt (for the record, the city made it worth his while to leave, they didn’t threaten sabotage and forced sale if he didn’t surrender the team.  But let’s ignore that key fact for now).

Does he have sinister motives here?  What’s his relationship with Stiviano?  Did he put her up to it?  What does Frank McCourt think about his sale of the the Dodgers?  It sounds like he’s happy with what he got, he still gets to go to baseball games and he gets his parking lot profits for eternity.  So he’s probably signed a non-disclosure agreement a mile long.  But it would still be nice to bug both of their phone conversations and see what THEY say in private.

Does Johnson have any ties to the Player’s Association?  What is the deal with them anyway?  When Silver and others are talking about the urge to expropriate the team, and where it’s coming from, he says the players are demanding it.  Really?  This whole thing is because a few players are so upset over some fucked-up phone conversation, that they will uproot the whole league unless they expropriate the owner?  I think people who speak for themselves would be a bit more rational.  I suspect this “association” is in somebody’s back pocket.

And what about Adam Silver and Richard Parsons?  As figureheads for the reaction, their stances are predictable.  But Adam Silver, for all his stated “confidence”, sounded quite nervous at his last press conference.  I imagine he’s nervous that he really doesn’t have the votes.

And what is Richard Parson’s history?  The history of CEOs is generally that of incompetent self-serving figureheads.  What’s his history in “preserving value”?

I have no idea about any of these people.  That’s why I’m asking these questions here.  On my own little corner of the internet.  Because the media have prodded Sterling enough to be guilty of molestation.

How not to be racist in America

It’s simple, really.  Don’t get involved with other races, ever.

The accusations against Donald Sterling have a particularly personal sting with me.  Not just because the whole town is ganging up on one guy, not just because he’s a fellow Jew, but because I too am in the property management business.

The epithet “evil Jewish slumlord” has been hurled at me quite regularly, generally as a joke, which gets an uneasy laugh out of me.  But underneath also a disturbing bit of entrenched anti-Semitism.

Not to divulge too many details about my dealings – but when you run properties, on any level, you piss people off.  It doesn’t matter how much you put yourself out for others.  You’re not Santa Claus or a miracle worker, you’re beholden to material laws, market forces and the banks.  And tenants tend to take out their aggressions on you for things you have no control over.

Sometimes, they take advantage of your legal liability, and threaten to sue you no matter how unfounded the charges.  Even on my minor level, it’s happened at least once (the threat quickly dropped once I accused the lawyer of extortion).

So I figure for a large landholder like Sterling, it gets that much worse.  And it gets even worse than that when you realize he’s lived his life surrounded by other races, holding property in racially and economically diverse neighborhoods.

I did the usual cursory Google research on his discrimination lawsuits, and pulled up this CNN article.  Not surprisingly, nobody ever won one of those lawsuits.  In a couple of the cases the charges were even dropped entirely, and yet today they’re being used in the case to strip him of his team.

You could make all sorts of arguments about this, that he’s a sneaky rich lawyer with lots of money, yadda yadda yadda.  But then you’re just making my point.  You wonder why poor neighborhoods are so run down?  You wonder why nobody invests in them?  You wonder why White Flight was a thing?  Here’s your answer.  Donald Sterling built his life on relatively poor neighborhoods.  And now he’s being eaten alive.

Who would want to invest there, in this kind of climate?  What kind of Santa Claus were you hoping for?  Did you want the government to come in and build stuff for free?  Do you want to be a photo-op for politicians who come and billoviate about the plight of the poor?  Because those same politicians just go back to the faceless corporate behemoths who take over these properties and sell them for scrap.

Why bother?  People attack Sterling, but the biggest racists in this country never actually get called racists.  You know, the really wealthy ones, who safely shield themselves from any kind of Black or Mexican, save for one or two tokens who dance to their tune.  It reminds me of Malcolm X’s preference of the Southern racist, who is open and actively deals with Blacks, over the Northern racist, who just says the flowery catchphrases while shielding their actual life from any contact with other races.

I fully realize this is a debate I’m not going to win.  The mob has the support of the town press, they will cry and howl and snowball rumors until the filthy Jew is run out of town on rails and they happily gorge on his expropriated property.  I just want to go on the record saying this will only make racial tensions, and class divisions, worse.


Donald Sterling and Anti-Semitism

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, I don’t need to explain too much to you.  His lady friend released footage of a phone conversation where she got him to question her Instagramming photos of herself with a black man, and now the world is clamoring for him to sell his team.

What’s most striking to me about all this, is the strong whiff of Anti-Semitism in all this … the utter jubilation at the thought of stripping Sterling of his team, on such shaky charges, has the ring of Merchant of Venice.

Is what he said cringe-worthy?  Of course.  Does he have a history of questionable behavior?  Of course.  He’s a capitalist.  And capitalists don’t get rich writing checks.  His behavior is quite typical of his class.

Fortunately, in LA we have a nice case study of a slimy owner who we needled to sell his team: Frank McCourt.  And regarding his situation, LA Times Business columnist Michael Hiltzik said “The history of baseball ownership is a brimming cauldron of con men, hacks, racists, cheapskates and bankrupts.”  I promise you the bell curve doesn’t shift significantly to basketball or football team owners.

Of course, McCourt was embezzling money from the Dodgers, running the team into the ground.  And yet, nobody clamored to force McCourt to sell, we had to patiently convince him to sell and pony up enough money collectively to make it worth his while.

Compared to him, Sterling looks like a pretty decent guy.  Taking a nothing team from a nothing market to a championship team that rivals the Lakers over 30 years?  I’d say that’s decent management.

But the tune is far different with Sterling.  We take a questionable phone conversation, one that would never be admissible in court for a number of reasons, and wave it around as the crowning jewel in a case to strip a Jew of his prize possession and achievement.  And we celebrate that our consciences have been cleansed, with a nice new prize to boot!  Everybody wins!

And that’s the core of Anti-Semitism.

It’s putting all our guilt and shame of the injustices of Capitalism and the innate bondage of wage labor, and transferring it into an impossible moral standard on the Jews who actually manage to claw their way into a piece of the pie.  It’s taking this opportunity to have all the players complain that they’re being bought and sold on the market, like it’s STERLING’S fault, and not the entire institution.  It’s accusing Sterling of doing all the things every other rich person does to get rich, while the rest stay conveniently out of the hot seat.   As Chris Rock says, “It’s all right, because it’s all white!”

It’s the core of Anti-Semitism throughout history.  And if I may claim an exemption to Godwin’s rule, it’s what the Nazis did.  It’s going from “bankers run the world” to “Jewish bankers run the world”.  And rather than expropriating the expropriators, as that Communist Jew Karl Marx said, they expropriate only the Jews to cleanse their guilt and live another generation.

So, if we are to make some good sense ouf of this morass, there is one question to ask both players and the other owners.  And that is, what is it about Sterling that really gets them and makes them want to get rid of him?  The fact that he’s a racist, or the fact that he’s a JEEEWWW???

But this is not a question for us to ask them in public.  It’s for their mistresses to ask them (remember, the oppressed players have mistresses too, I’m looking at you Kobe Bryant), privately, needling the answer they want out of them, while recording the conversation and releasing it without their consent.

Frankly, you could probably buy this out of any number of mistresses for a couple million.  For Donald Sterling, this would be a trifling sum well worth the vindication.

POST-SCRIPT: as if the universe were nodding in agreement, the New York Times just posted an article about the one guy who went to jail for the 2008 financial crisis.  And guess what?  He’s a Semite.  (of course there’s also Bernie Madoff…)