I think one reason I’m finding it hard to blog of late is this: Every hour or so, I read something like this, and I’m struck dumb:

President Donald Trump again blamed California for the year’s dangerous and deadly wildfires and threatened to withhold federal funding from the state.

During a cabinet meeting Wednesday, he said the state needs to clear old trees to prevent fires.

“What’s happening should never happen. I go all over the country and I meet with governors. The first thing they say is there’s no reason for forest fires like that in California. So I say to the governor, or whoever is going to be the governor of California, you’d better get your act together because California, we’re just not going to continue to pay the kind of money that we’re paying because of fires that should never be to that extent,” he said.

Nineteen days before the election. Maybe 18, 17 by the time you read this. I’m just numb at this point. I have Battered Voter Syndrome.

But all is not lost. From time to time, when I feel like my life needs more complications in it, I read Dan Savage’s column, and it clears right up. I love “Savage Love,” because it makes me feel very suburban and boring. I have never, for example, considered the conundrum of being a straight guy with a yen for receiving oral sex, who’s been letting his gay friend do the job:

My problem is I am starting to feel guilty and worry I am using Sam. He’s a very good buddy, and I’m concerned this lopsided sexual arrangement might be bad for our friendship. Sam knows I am not into guys and I’m never going to reciprocate, and I feel like this is probably not really fair to him. But these are literally the only bl*wj*bs I’ve received since I was a teenager. What should I do?

Savage contacted Sam, and Sam said, hey, not a problem! Problem solved. (I asterisked that word, just in case any of you have content filters at your offices.)

I’m amazed at how many people have polyamorous or otherwise open relationships, and the kinks? Wow:

I’ve been dating this guy for almost a year. Everything is great, except one thing: He wants me to kick him in the nuts. It really bothers me, and I’m not sure what to do.

I would…not know how to answer that compassionately. My advice would be one word: Leave. Not that I wish to kink-shame, but um, wow.

Nineteen days. Remember that. I’m off for a very long Friday and — I devoutly hope — a pleasant weekend. Hope yours is, too.

Posted at 9:14 pm in Current events |

41 responses to “Dumbstruck.”

  1. LAMary said on October 18, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Trump also said California was diverting rivers to flow into the ocean. He said that a couple of months ago when Northern California was on fire. I think Montana, Colorado and New Mexico were also on fire and Norway and Spain too.

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  2. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 18, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    Wait, what? Kick me in . . . that just makes no sense at all. #SorryNotSorry

    Kink away, America, but we don’t need kicking. Into any region. I’m fairly certain about that one.

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  3. beb said on October 19, 2018 at 12:38 am

    When I was a young lad I read the fanzine, Science Fiction Review written and published by Richard Geis. Geis was astonishingly open about his life. I think the phrase TMI was coined on account of him. One shocking confession of his was that he (a bachelor) would advertise for oral sex but preferred men over woman because knew how to do it better. Like i said TMI

    We need to set up a rating system for Trumps lies on a logarithmic scale like they use for earthquakes. Where a category 2 lies would be ten times as outrageous as a category 1. Trumps lies have gone from mere distortions to whoopers to he’s making stuff up to “in what world could this possible be true.”

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  4. ROGirl said on October 19, 2018 at 4:28 am

    This might help alleviate some of the stress in the weeks leading up to the election.


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  5. Sherri said on October 19, 2018 at 8:20 am

    Shameless self-promotion: https://www.post-gazette.com/sports/other-sports/2018/10/18/carnegie-mellon-cmu-sports-analytics-conference-2018-sherri-nichols/stories/201810180018

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  6. Julie Robinson said on October 19, 2018 at 8:49 am

    Promote away, Sherri, you’ve got something to crow about. It has to feel great to finally be receiving recognition. And I’ve learned a new word, sabermetrics.

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  7. Suzanne said on October 19, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Wow, Sherri! Impressive! Makes me excited to almost know you 🙂

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  8. Mark P said on October 19, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Come on, now. Don’t we all know by now that it’s impossible to overestimate Donald Trump’s ignorance, stupidity and mendacity? The man is a bottomless pit into which every putrid thing has been dumped. Why should we be surprised when he opens his mouth, we look in, and see a cesspit? I know, it’s hard to internalize the depths to which the US has sunk. We keep thinking this is just a bad dream, something too terrible to call just a nightmare, and we will surely wake up to find the America we thought we had. But, to paraphrase Springsteen, those days are going boys, and they ain’t coming back.

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  9. Bitter Scribe said on October 19, 2018 at 9:53 am

    Spiro Agnew: “A tree is a tree. How many do you need to look at?”

    Ronald Reagan: “Ninety percent of pollution is caused by plants and trees.”

    Donald Trump: “Old trees are sitting there, rotting and drying.”

    Man, WTF is it with these guys and trees?

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  10. Diane said on October 19, 2018 at 9:55 am

    How cool! Congratulations!!

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  11. Dorothy said on October 19, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Sherri that is so very cool! I’m assuming you are staying somewhere in Oakland? If I had known ahead of time I might have scheduled a trip into the ‘burgh for the weekend just for a chance to say hello in person, and maybe slip into Mineo’s in Squirrel Hill with you for a few slices. Last time I was in town was in July when my niece got married. We took in a Pirates game while we were there. Enjoy your stay!

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  12. Diane said on October 19, 2018 at 10:04 am

    Mark P.,

    You are right but my brain just doesn’t seem to have the capacity to comprehend that when the President just sent people to break into Democrats headquarters and otherwise spied on people, etc. were indeed the good old days.

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  13. Icarus said on October 19, 2018 at 10:27 am

    I’m not confident about Democrats gaining control of anything especially with gerrymandering and voter suppression and other tactics.

    for the last two years, my circumstances at the office have straight up sucked. I have an anal retentive control freak colleague with limited social skills calling the shots.

    Finally, someone above us noticed or took an interest or just asked a question they didn’t expect an answer but steps are starting to develop to change things…but it is still a long path to fixing the problem

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  14. Heather said on October 19, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Congrats, Sherri! Very impressive!

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  15. Suzanne said on October 19, 2018 at 11:32 am

    Meanwhile, a friend of mine who is part of a farming family told me how much trouble they are having unloading their grain. Every grain elevator is already full. Why? Because buyers aren’t buying like usual due to tariffs.

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  16. Scout said on October 19, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    I have Battered Voter Syndrome too. And like Icarus, I am very worried about the midterms. Not that people aren’t fired up and ready to vote blue, but that the fix is in. How else to explain Mitch McConnell announcing his plans to attack SS, Medicare and the pre-existing conditions clause in the ACA? I try to stay hopeful, but I’m really depressed. The Kavanaugh travesty, followed so soon by the gruesome murder of Khashoggi signals the complete and total corruption of our democracy. The people running things right now are simply evil. There’s no other way to frame it.

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  17. Deborah said on October 19, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    Sherri, How cool is that! I know nothing about sports analytics but I’d love to hear your speech (or read it) especially the part about women practitioners.

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  18. beb said on October 19, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    For a long time I assumed negative campaign ads were meant to encourage people to vote against one candidate or the other. But lately I wonder if the chief intent of negative campaigning is to discourage voting at all.

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  19. Deborah said on October 19, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Jakash, if you’re reading, are you by any chance attending the Symphony matinee today? We’re unexpectedly going and thought if by chance you’re there we could meet up at intermission or something. I ask because you’ve mentioned here that you’ve been to matinees there from time to time.

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  20. Jenine said on October 19, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    @Icarus: good wishes for your work situation. There is so much out of one person’s control at work. I hope the trend is upwards.

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  21. Sherri said on October 19, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    Dorothy, I am staying in Oakland. It would have been nice to see you, but I don’t have much free time, anyway. I’ve got a bit of a break right now, but I’ve been in nonstop interviews today, have a workshop and a dinner tonight, the conference tomorrow, then plans with friends Saturday night and Sunday before I fly out. I’m a popular person!

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  22. 4dbirds said on October 19, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Congrats Sherri.

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  23. john (not mccain) said on October 19, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    Kicking nuts is shocking? Oh, you poor innocent lambs. Wanna know an alternative use for ping pong paddles and rope?

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  24. Dexter Friend said on October 19, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    I’d love to see Jerry Brown kick Trump square in the tiny nutsack.
    The insanity has maxed out! I ran straight to the car and the party store and bought a couple…it’s over a billon dollars, and who’s to say I can’t win? 🙂 😉 https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/mega-millions-jackpot-climbs-1-billion-n922111

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  25. Dexter Friend said on October 19, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    Sherri, I am finally understanding WAR and WHIP even as I have been a baseball nut for over 60 years.
    It’s been decades since “The Mendoza Line” meant a damn thing. As I recall, there was a player named Mendoza who barely hung on due to the fact he was a great fielder, but he struggled mightily to keep his BA over .200. Back in the early 60’s, a player hitting below .200 was always sent down to the farm or released. Players began to refer to the .200 marker as The Mendoza Line. Flash forward…Jackie Bradley , Jr. won the MVP of the ALDS last night with a .200 average and just 3 hits in five games, but with 2 homers and another Rbi hit he knocked in 9 runs and grabbed the hardware. My point is, wow! have things changed. In 1961 Roger Maris was belittled by Ruth apologists because he hit .269 while knocking 61 homers. Today, players are making many millions per annum as they hit .203, .218…as long as complicated sabermetrics formulas show they are much more productive than a puny BA indicates. Being quite slow, I will never understand algorithms, and I shall never try.

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  26. Deborah said on October 19, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    Well, back from the symphony and didn’t connect with Jakash. We don’t usually go to the matinees, lots of little old white haired people (I should talk). It was an interesting program, Music in the Time of War. It was sponsered by Jennifer Pritzker, a trans woman who used to be a Lt Colonel in the military and has a military museum in Chicago. She’s in her 60s now (I think) and went through her transition a half dozen years or so ago. I can’t imagine how it must have felt living a life that your gender doesn’t match for so many years and from such a prominent Chicago family like the Pritzkers. Penny is a sibling or cousin and JB is running for governor in IL. I think he’s still expected to win (Dem). Although I’ve been away for a few weeks, so who knows? Hyatt hotels are where the Pritzker money comes from. Penny had a cabinet post under Obama that took years to finalize because of her international financial ties, meanwhile Trump is getting away with all kinds of international financial shenanigans and the Repub controlled Congress couldn’t care less.

    Geez, I can’t even comment about the symphony without getting steamed up about Trump.

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  27. Jakash said on October 20, 2018 at 11:57 am

    Deborah @ 19 and 26, this is the first I’m seeing your comments. (I’ve been cutting way back on my visits to nn.c, as well as looking at folks’ Twitters as the election approaches. I just don’t need to think about this upcoming referendum on whether the country is semi-permanently batshit crazy or whether 2016 was an aberration any more than I do already. I remember that after Obama tanked the first debate in 2012 and things were looking grim for awhile, I checked out from closely following the proceedings, then, too.)

    Anywho, we weren’t at the symphony yesterday. I don’t know where I gave you the idea that we go to symphony matinees, because I can’t recall doing that. Last year we had a 3-performance mini-subscription and went a few other times, too. They didn’t offer us that this year, so seeing them perform at Millennium Park last month for free might be it for us for a while.

    Sounds like an interesting program, though when I see “World Premiere” mentioned, I usually don’t imagine I’m gonna be too delighted with that particular piece. ; ) Thanks for thinking of me, though!

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  28. Deborah said on October 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Well, I’m waiting in the ER, I fell flat on my face after I tripped on one of those metal plates they put over construction on Michigan Ave. it happened where the big Crate & Barrel used to be, turning into a gigantic Starbucks. My face was kind of a bloody mess, my sunglasses broke and cut my eyebrow. Split my lip, will be getting stitches. Abrasions on my nose and chin. And getting a CAT scan Incase there’s a fracture which they don’t really expect

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  29. Julie Robinson said on October 20, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    How are the crowds at weekday matinees? I’d love to have more matinees available, since I can’t drive at night anymore and public transportation is non-existent at night. I got pretty irritated at our local symphony when they made a big splash about their new program for people who can’t drive at night. A bus will take you downtown. Fantastic, but what if you can’t drive to the bus meet up location? It’s just a bus to downtown, which is fine, but let’s not advertise it as being for people who can’t drive at night. I’m afraid I got in a bit of an argument with them about it.

    No doubt the people who organized this are young, and don’t have any idea what it’s like to have bad eyes. And they better get off my damn lawn while they’re at it!

    There are some pretty amazing performances on YouTube, though. Last night my son pulled up the Bernstein Mass, performed at the 2012 Proms, and we ended up watching the whole two hours. I don’t think I ever heard it in its entirety, just a highlight album, and boy howdy is it a mixed bag. Bernstein needed more people in his life saying, this, Lenny, this is not a good idea. Parts are so sublimely and tragically beautiful, parts are just weirdness that he should have worked out at his analyst’s office.

    Matt is lobbying a group he performs with to add this to its season. I don’t think it would be a good fit for them, or their audiences. They tend to go for more Disney and Broadway stuff. He may need to find another group.

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  30. Dexter Friend said on October 20, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    Deborah, so sorry to read of that awful mishap. Sue ’em. A radio producer I listen to daily had to deal with a different sort of sidewalk mishap. In NYC, A ConED manhole blew up during an under-street explosion. This guy’s mother was walking right there, she was knocked down and trampled by the hordes, suffering many broken bones, and she passed away after lingering in agony for a couple years. It took 8 years before her only heir, her son, could settle with ConEd. He received an undisclosed sum, sworn to secrecy as to the amount. He then began travelling the globe with his windfall, but kept his job. I think he probably received a helluva chunk, but at a horrific cost.

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  31. Deborah said on October 20, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Yeah Dexter my husband and I discussed that. If the outcome had been dire with a skull or jaw fracture we would have pursued that, but nothing showed up on CAT scan or X-ray, I didn’t really expect it to, but just wanted to be sure. I just wonder how many other people have tripped at the exact same spot,

    I took my broken prescription sunglasses to Warby Parker to get them replaced right after I left the ER, as it was just a couple of blocks away. They saw my banged up face and gave me an $80 discount which was nice. I will be having a black eye etc, it’s already showing up. I drank a martini this evening through a straw, my lip is really swollen and sore. But I’m lucky, could have been a lot worse.

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  32. Deborah said on October 20, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    I should add that I got excellent care at Northwestern Hospital emergency room. It took a while but they were very thorough and walked me through every procedure with detailed information and lots of empathy. I only hope that all who pass through there get the same regardless of ethnicity, race etc.

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  33. basset said on October 20, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    Deborah. you’re over 25, right? How can you wear Warby Parker? Tried em here but didn’t find anything that wouldn’t require a nose ring and a shaved sides, greasy pile on top male haircut. Or maybe I was just in the wrong town, or not hip enough, or too old, or something.

    And while we’re talking about emergency rooms, let me say that St Thomas West ER in Nashville has taken outstanding care of Mrs. B during our two recent visits, one broken wrist from a fall and one septic shock.

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  34. Deborah said on October 20, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    Ha ha Basset, funny I think Warby Parker glasses are super mainstream, not the least bit counter culture. And the prices are pretty darn affordable. The pair of progressives I got before I tried Warby Parker were over $800. These prescription sunglasses cost me $95.

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  35. Sherri said on October 21, 2018 at 7:26 am

    My keynote went really well, beyond my expectations. I couldn’t have asked for better; different parts landed with different people, and all day I had people coming up to me and saying “I really loved that part about…”

    I even had someone from the conference approach me about the possibility of coming and speaking at the Wharton Moneyball Academy, a summer program at Wharton for high school students interested in sports analytics!

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  36. basset said on October 21, 2018 at 8:27 am

    I dunno, Deborah, Warby Parker just seems way too hipster for me… went to their store in Nashville and looked online, didn’t see anything I liked. My last two pairs have come from Walmart so there you go… didn’t like them much better but at least they were cheap.
    Going out to the woods today to prepare for deer season, muzzleloader starts on the 3rd and rifle on the 17th.

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  37. alex said on October 21, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Sorry to hear about your tumble, Deborah. And didn’t know Crate & Barrell on Boul Mich was gone. It had a sort of Guggenheim-ish facade as I recall.

    I fell through a cracked sewer grate next to Northwestern Hospital one time. It opened beneath me like a pair of jaws and ate one of my legs, racked my balls and caused me to hit my head on the sidewalk and pass out. Fortunately I was right outside the hospital and personnel came out, put me on a stretcher and took me to the ER. And people stopped to comfort me through the whole thing.

    I have friends who swear by Warby Parker and I may just have to try them out. I got my last pair of glasses through my optometrist for about $700 and I can’t even use them, but what I need to do is find a more competent optometrist, or maybe even an ophthalmologist, who doesn’t overcorrect my vision and expect me to get used to it. You don’t get used to being too blind to drive. I told the bastard that if I caused an accident wearing those glasses that I would make him a party to any ensuing lawsuit.

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  38. Deborah said on October 21, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Holy cow Alex, falling through a sewer grate is one of my worst nightmares. Seems like you could have sued the city over that, at least to be compensated for the cost of your medical care?

    Off topic, you grammar and spelling experts: which is correct “whoa” or “woah”? I always thought “whoa” was correct and didn’t start seeing “woah” until the last couple of years, I see it a lot online.

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  39. Dave said on October 21, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    Woah? That looks like WO (long o) and ah, like ahhhhh to me but I see so many misspellings and incorrect grammar (not that I’m perfect) online that I know it is a losing battle. Whoa is the only correct way to spell it, as far as I’m concerned.

    Sorry about your nasty fall, Deborah and Alex, that had to scare you.

    I am very fearful that this coming blue wave isn’t. I really fear where we appear to be going.

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  40. alex said on October 21, 2018 at 4:09 pm


    I actually did consult an attorney at the urging of a friend. He said there wasn’t enough money in it to make it worth his while and besides, as the sewer grate in question wasn’t within a crosswalk, legal precedent wasn’t on my side. People injured by public works outside of crosswalks are just shit out of luck, according to him. Or at least that’s how it was in the 1990s. As an illustration, he showed me the case of a woman who broke her neck when she walked onto a grate in stiletto shoes.

    Looking back on it, I’m rather surprised. There’s probably no one the personal injury attorneys in my current city wouldn’t represent.

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  41. Dorothy said on October 21, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    Whoa (never woah) Deborah. I’m glad you are okay. That sounded very scary. And you too Alex! I knew someone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time – a bus and an ambulance collided and the ambulance hit the curb and rolled onto its side. This woman was walking by and one of her arms was trapped. Awful injuries resulted and her hand was in a permanent kind of frozen C shape. She was close friends with my next door neighbor in Turtle Creek PA.

    My grammar pet peeve is those who use ‘awe’ in place of ‘awww’. Makes me scream inwardly each time.

    Has anyone else seen The Last Man movie? We did today. Liked it a lot. But I felt a little nauseous during some of the scenes portraying the rollicking space launches.

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