Monthly Archives: July 2018

A fantastic column on the new trend of “parent shaming,” and how it’s ridiculous. Will Arnett teaches us Canadian slang. And the guy who stole his date’s car, to go on another date.

There were many times in my career as a journalist where I’d read a column or a feature story someone had written and been like “Man, I wish I’d written that! Because it’s exactly what I’ve been thinking and feeling.”

It’s interesting having that same sensation through the lens of being a parent, because I’ve read lots of things that I’ve agreed with and wanted to also write about, but someone has already done it better.

Not sure I’ve ever felt that way more than when I read this sensational piece, “Motherhood in the Age of Fear” that ran in the New York Times last weekend by Kim Brooks, a Chicago-based writer and Mom.

In the piece, which I cannot recommend strongly enough, Brooks speaks about the awful trend of Mom-shaming. This is when complete strangers observe behavior that they think is negligent and then admonish the parent, or in some cases actually call the police on the parent.

Ninety-nine times out of 100, the behavior isn’t negligent at all, it’s busybody alleged “caretakers” looking out for children sticking their nose in other people’s business, and it can have serious, serious consequences. Most of the time this behavior involves allowing a child to be alone for as little as a few minutes, which in this day and age of helicopter parenting is considered criminal.

We as a society have so over-managed and overscheduled and coddled our children, we are so afraid to have them be alone for even five minutes, that some think it’s a crime to let them have the tiniest bit of freedom and independence.

From the piece:

We now live in a country where it is seen as abnormal, or even criminal, to allow children to be away from direct adult supervision, even for a second.

We read, in the news or on social media, about children who have been kidnapped, raped and killed, about children forgotten for hours in broiling cars. We do not think about the statistical probabilities or compare the likelihood of such events with far more present dangers, like increasing rates of childhood diabetes or depression. Statistically speaking, according to the writer Warwick Cairns, you would have to leave a child alone in a public place for 750,000 years before he would be snatched by a stranger. Statistically speaking, a child is far more likely to be killed in a car on the way to a store than waiting in one that is parked. But we have decided such reasoning is beside the point. We have decided to do whatever we have to do to feel safe from such horrors, no matter how rare they might be.

And so now children do not walk to school or play in a park on their own. They do not wait in cars. They do not take long walks through the woods or ride bikes along paths or build secret forts while we are inside working or cooking or leading our lives.

There are stories in the piece about a woman in n 2014 named Debra Harrell, who let her 9-year-old daughter play in a park while she went to work at a nearby McDonald’s. It was a safe neighborhood on a summer day with lots of kids.
None of this mattered when another parent contacted the police. Ms. Harrell was charged with unlawful neglect of a child and her daughter was put in foster care for about two weeks.

That same year, an Arizona woman named Shanesha Taylor was charged with two counts of felony child abuse and sentenced to 18 years of supervised probation, all because she had no child care and had to leave her two younger children in the car while she went on a job interview.

Also from the piece: In a country that provides no subsidized child care and no mandatory family leave, no assurance of flexibility in the workplace for parents, no universal preschool and minimal safety nets for vulnerable families, making it a crime to offer children independence in effect makes it a crime to be poor.

It is unconscionable that this goes on in America. As a father I’m constantly worried about being judged by other parents, when my almost 4-year-old wanders a different aisle in the supermarket than I’m in (I can hear him the whole time), or when I have, once or twice, allowed him to (gasp) sit in the car for 2 minutes by myself at a gas station with the windows open while I ran in to pay the attendant.

We are so, so quick to judge other parents, and criminalize their behavior.

Read this essay. Parent-shaming needs to stop.

**Next up today, I have said many times on this blog how much I love Canada, and Canadians. Not just because they love hockey, but because every Canadian I’ve met has been a decent, fun human being, and every time I’ve visited Canada I’ve loved it.

But I don’t speak Canadian, so Will Arnett, a native of Toronto, is here to educate. Some of these are hilarious, like the “2-4” and the “suitcase” but I think “Goal suck” is my new favorite. Or “beaking.”

God bless Canada.

**Finally today, I’ve had a few bad dates in my life, including the time I accidentally left the restaurant with a woman and had forgotten to pay the check (shockingly, the relationship didn’t work out.)

But I have to say, a Memphis woman named Faith Pugh may have had just about the worst first date ever. She went out with a man named Kelton Griffin, an old acquaintance from high school. Kelton was dropped off for the date, and at a gas station asked Pugh to go inside and get him a cigar.

At that point Kelton stole Pugh’s car. And took a friend of Pugh’s on a date. In the stolen car.

Shockingly, this dream of a man was arrested for his crime, when Pugh’s friend helped locate the car using the GPS on her phone.

Can’t believe he was still single and not snatched up yet.

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A study on obesity says that if you’re conceived in winter, you’re less likely to be fat. On his final broadcast of “Only A Game,” Bill Littlefield replays a beautiful essay. And the bear who wandered into a hot tub and drank a margarita

It’s Monday, it’s August, and I know what you’re thinking: It’s so hot out, my spouse and I should try to conceive a child.

OK, OK, maybe that’s not exactly what you’re thinking. But maybe some of you are thinking that. If you are, hey, more power to you. But just know, it’s entirely possible that if you DO decide to try and make a new human in the summertime, it’s more likely they’ll be overweight as an adult than if you just wait till December to have sex.

Sounds crazy, right? Well, I have science on my side to prove this. Well, to at least argue this. Check out this story on a new study from the Institute of Food Nutrition and Health at the ETH Zurich University in Switzerland.

Check this out, from a Newsweek story on the study: Their work hones in on brown adipose tissue, or brown fat, as opposed to white fat. The latter collects around the belly, and is used to store energy. In contrast, brown fat is used to keep us warm and gathers around the neck, torso, and in white fat reserves. Existing scientific evidence suggests brown fat burns a relatively large amount of energy when it is activated. It is believed the presence of it in the body could make it easier to lose weight, in the right conditions. It is also linked to a lower risk of becoming overweight or developing metabolic disorders, the authors noted.

“The study identifies for the first time a link between environmental temperature and offspring metabolism which is transmitted through the sperm,” Dr. Christian Wolfrum, lead author of the study, said.

I find this fascinating. The idea that the climate, and the temperature of the people involved in conception, could make a difference whether your offspring is heavy or skinny blows my mind.

Both my kids were conceived in winter, so I guess that means they can eat whatever they want? Of course not.

Still, science is kind of amazing sometimes.

**Next up, I’ve written many times in this space about my love for the NPR radio program Only a Game, and its wonderful host, Bill Littlefield. After 25 years of bringing listeners stories about little known and famous athletes alike, filled with humor, heart and insight, Littlefield is retiring.

On Saturday his show replayed some of his best pieces over the years, and this one in particular moved me greatly when it aired in 2015, and did again listening to it this weekend. (Listen to it at this link below).

https://player.wbur.org/onlyagame/2018/07/27/cooperstown-memories-father-son-final-show

It’s about Bill, his Dad, and two trips to Cooperstown taken a few decades apart, and what they meant. Just really beautiful stuff.

***And finally today, because we all need a good bear story every now and again, I bring you this enterprising little fellow out in California. Seems the bear in the video above decided to drink a margarita while at Mark Hough’s house in early July, and then help himself to the hot tub in the backyard.

Look, it’s not easy being a bear, OK? People are scary, the woods can be dangerous, and there’s always some joker calling you “Fozzie” or something.

Sometimes you just need to chill out, have a drink, and relax.

Good News Friday: A potentially huge breakthrough in Alzheimer’s treatment. A supermarket where you pay what you think is fair is a great idea. And a 12-year-old girl calls out sexism at a parade in a great newspaper letter.

And a Happy Friday to you all out there, hopefully enjoying the dog days of summer somewhere cool.

While I happily think about the fact that the U.S. Open is coming soon and the fact that our President really, really should’ve kept his lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen happy (this might really be big and lead to impeachment, I know we’ve said that before but this time we might be right), I throw three happy stories at you.

First up today, a potentially huge breakthrough in the fight against the insidious, awful disease called Alzheimer’s. Researchers have just announced the results of a clinical trial where, for the first time, a new drug was discovered to both reduce the plaques in the brains of patients and slow the progression of dementia.

This, from Thursday’s New York Times: “More extensive trials will be needed to know if the new drug is truly effective, but if the results, presented Wednesday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago, are borne out, the drug may be the first to successfully attack both the brain changes and the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.”

The top-line results of the study? “Of the 161 patients in the group taking the highest dose, 81 percent showed such significant drops in amyloid levels that they “converted from amyloid positive to amyloid negative,” Dr. Kramer said in an interview, meaning that the patients’ amyloid levels dropped from being considered high enough to correlate to dementia to a level below that dementia threshold.”

This is potentially huge. You, me, everyone we all know has seen a friend of loved one affected by Alzheimer’s. It’s a horrible, horrible disease that robbed my Grandmother of her brain for her final years.

This is a possibly-thrilling breakthrough. Of course further testing needs to be done, etc. But it’s a wonderful development.

**Next up today, this is a fantastic and crazy idea that just may revolutionize supermarkets, and restaurants. A man in Melbourne, Australia has started a supermarket called “The Inconvenience Store.”

The store collects produce that stores plan to throw away because it’s not fresh (or pretty) enough to sell and “sells” it by donation.

From this story I read on Upworthy.com: “It receives throwaways from a local bakery — breads that aren’t good enough to sell but are still perfectly edible — for its patrons to take home. Other things that stores are prepared to toss, like items that are dented or just past their best-before dates, also stock the store’s shelves.

There are no cashiers and no set prices — a contribution box sits near the exit as an unassuming invitation to give what you can in exchange for what you take. People can also volunteer at the store as a form of payment and support for the store.”

Very cool idea, and one that I hope catches on.

**Finally today, I have a couple of new heroes to tell you about, and they’re both people you’ve probably never heard of. First, meet Elin Errsson, a 21-year-old Swedish political activist (definitely three words I’ve never typed in a row before) who single-handedly prevented the deportation of a man from Sweden, to Afghanistan, on a flight last week. It’s a pretty amazing story; read it here from The Guardian.

But my other hero is someone closer to home, and Miss Julianne Speyer, you, young lady, are a rock star. Julianne, 12, lives in Russell Township, Ohio, and is a proud member of the Girl Scouts.

At her town’s recent Fourth of July parade, Julianne became bothered by the parade MC’s descriptive differences in talking about the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts.

So she wrote a letter (above) to her local paper, the Geauga County Maple Leaf,  printed above, calling out the sexism from the announcer and proudly declaring that women no longer should have to put up with this kind of demeaning attitude.

I love, love, LOVE this letter. Good for you, Julianne.

 

Remembering the great “Midnight Run” on its 30th anniversary. An awesome gymnastics routine that channels Michael Jackson. And a Michelle Obama voter registration commercial makes me miss her a lot

Thirty years ago this month, a little movie was released starring Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin.

It was about a washed-up ex-police officer from Chicago named Jack Walsh, who’s now a bounty hunter in Los Angeles. He gets an assignment to find and bring home Jonathan Mardukas, a former Mafia accountant who stole millions from the mob and is now in hiding somewhere.

At first glance, maybe you didn’t notice “Midnight Run.” Yeah it was DeNiro, who was in the middle of a streak of incredible movies. And Grodin is good. And the supporting cast (Joe Pantoliano, Dennis Farina, Yaphet Kotto) was solid. But still, there were so many “buddy cop” type movies back then, that few expected “Midnight Run” to be amazing.

But oh my God, is it amazing. Absolutely, completely wonderful. One of my all-time favorite movies (when I made a list on this blog a few years back on my Top 10 flicks of all time, “Midnight Run” was honorable mention and I hated leaving it off.)

I’m writing about it today because there’s actually been a lot of press about the movie lately, it being the 30th anniversary at all. Bill Simmons did a great podcast at The Ringer about “Midnight Run,”  and the best TV critic alive, Alan Sepinwall at Rolling Stone, wrote a tribute to the film as well. (He calls it the “Casablanca” of buddy movies.)

It’s funny. It’s warm (the scene at Jack’s ex-wife’s house, with his daughter? Beautiful). It’s actually wise, and it is written and directed beautifully. De Niro had never played comedy before, and he does it perfectly. Grodin is a wonderful foil, and so many lines are committed to my memory because they’re so damn hilarious. (“Why aren’t you popular with the Chicago Police Dept.”)

Midnight Run” is available to stream on Amazon for $3.99. If you haven’t seen it, instead of getting another latte at Starbucks, spend two hours with a classic. If you don’t love it, I’ll send you the four bucks back.

**Next up today, I have no idea why this video is suddenly showing up in my social media feeds since it happened a few months ago, but I’m thrilled that it did.

This is Katelyn Ohashi, a UCLA nationally-ranked gymnast, doing a routine to Michael Jackson music at the PAC-12 championships in March. So freaking good.
I don’t have any idea how elite gymnasts do this, but what an incredible performance.

**Finally today, feeling a little wistful coming across this new Michelle Obama video, where she and some celebrity friends like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tom Hanks urge everyone to get out and register to vote (I’m not a celebrity but if you know anyone who’s not registered, good God, get them registered!).

I miss Michelle Obama. I miss her grace, I miss her class, I miss her intelligence and most of all, I just miss seeing her. She was such a wonderful First Lady, so smart and funny and compassionate, that I feel like going back now to watch her amazing Convention speech (still blows me away) from 2016.

Anyway, just seeing this little video made me miss her. And appreciate how good we had it. And makes me wish so much that she’d run for public office.

A fascinating, frightening look at Christian support for Trump, and all the hypocrisies it entails. Video. A waitress gets groped, and manhandles the creep who did it. And marijuana use legal in NHL? It’s about time

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way, but over the past several months, maybe even since early 2017, I’ve found myself batting two contradictory political ideas around in my head.

The first: “I am so f’ing furious at the 38 percent of Americans who voted for Trump. What kind of racist, bigoted, homophobic, backwards people are these, who could overlook so much of the awfulness of Donald Trump and still decide he should be the leader of our great country? To hell with them, forever.”

The second: “I can’t believe so many people voted for this idiot. I want to know more about how these people could do that. I want to hear their justifications, their reasons, why they made this seemingly horrible decision, and how they feel about it now. I need to try to understand this mindset, so I can make sure I and other liberals can go about changing it.”

I have to be honest, most of the time, the first argument wins out. My simple belief that if more apathetic Americans get fired up to vote, and actually show up at the polls every two years, that Democrats will re-take the Presidency, Congress and most governorships. When more people show up, Democrats win, it’s that simple. And so most of the time I think “to hell” with Trump voters and the right-wing, they’re not worth wasting time thinking about.

But I’ve really, really tried to shove that part of my mindset to the background at times, and stories like this amazing one by Stephanie McCrummen in the Washington Post Sunday really blow me away.

And terrify me.

McCrummen, who won a Pulitzer this year for helping expose Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, went down to Luverne, Ala. to spend time at the First Baptist Church, speaking to the pastor, Clay Crum, and many in his congregation.

Like the best reporters always do, McCrummen didn’t pass judgment; she simply listened, observed and reported.

And what she found was both slightly heartening and incredibly terrifying. These are almost all Donald Trump supporters at First Baptist, and the part of the story I found slightly heartening was they almost all acknowledged having a difficult time voting for Trump. You get comments like this from a man in his 30s named Brett Green, who finally got mad at Trump for his infamous comment about America taking immigrants “from shithole countries.”

“Jesus Christ was born in Nazareth, and Nazareth was a shithole at that time,” Brett said. “Someone might say, ‘How could anything good come out of a place like that?’ Well, Jesus came out of a place like that.”

And  you get this from a man named Terry Drew,  “who sat in the seventh pew on the left side, who knew and agreed with Trump’s position, and knew that supporting him involved a blatant moral compromise.

“I hate it,” he said. “My wife and I talk about it all the time. We rationalize the immoral things away. We don’t like it, but we look at the alternative, and think it could be worse than this.”

So at least, from my point of view, there’s an attempt at reckoning with the hypocrisy they’re undertaking. At least an acknowledgement of how the values they (and their beloved Bible) espouse are completely at odds with the person they voted for.

But oh, there’s also so much terrifying stuff in here. Agreements among the congregation that Trump’s positions are more important than his character. Rationalizations that other Presidents had mistresses, or did bad things.

And then there’s Sheila Butler, the character in the story who will stay with me long after the rest. She’s 67, and a Sunday school teacher. Here’s just one small excerpt from the mind of Sheila:

“To her, this was a moral threat far greater than any character flaw Trump might have, as was what she called “the racial divide,” which she believed was getting worse. The evidence was all the black people protesting about the police, and all the talk about the legacy of slavery, which Sheila never believed was as bad as people said it was. “Slaves were valued,” she said. “They got housing. They got fed. They got medical care.”

Wow. I mean… wow. I cannot recommend strongly enough reading the whole story. The reporting is wonderful, the details terrific, and McCrummen just gets out of the way and lets these churchgoers explain themselves the best way they can.

Look, I don’t think anyone at First Baptist will ever turn against Trump. But listening to them, and at least paying enough attention to be frightened that this is what they really believe, I think is pretty important.

**Next up today, a delightful little video that made me smile. Female employees in the service industry are constantly forced to put up with harassment from moronic men, and usually they just have to deal with it. But it was kinda thrilling to see what happened to 31-year-old idiot Ryan Cherwinski when he decided to pat the ass of waitress Emilia Holden in a restaurant in Savannah, Ga. recently.

Holden felt the tap and immediately grabbed Cherwinski by the shirt and slammed him to the ground, while shouting at him. The police were called, Cherwinski was arrested, and a small blow was struck for working women everywhere.

You go, Emilia!

**Finally today, a little update on one of my favorite topics: the legalization of marijuana. Specifically, the idiocy of professional sports leagues asking their players to be at their best 100-200 nights a year, brutalizing their bodies, but not letting them use a product many, many athletes have said is an immense help: Pot.

The National Hockey League, which is behind the curve on so many issues (CTE and head injuries, for one), appears to be out front on this one. With Canada moving to legalize weed and other U.S. states of course having already done so, the NHL is in talks with the players’ union to make pot legal for its players.

Fabulous. It’s about time. (Also, I have no idea if P.K. Subban, pictured above, is pro-pot, but I just love him and any excuse to run a picture of him.)

 

Good News Friday: An amazing story of a man walking 20 miles to his new job. France World Cup hero Mbappe does a great thing. And the MLB player who built a “Miracle Field” for kids with special needs.

Happy Friday to all of my readers; hope you’re enjoying a gorgeous summer Friday with people you love.

Truly wonderful story to start off with today; I’ve read and seen variations of this kind of tale a lot over the years, but this one seems particularly remarkable.

A 20-year-old college student in Birmingham, Ala. named Walter Carr was due to start a new job with a moving company recently. The night before he was to start, his car broke down, and with very little money and no time to get it fixed, he had to figure something out.

The job was 20 miles away from his apartment. So Carr decided to start walking at midnight, and figured he could get to the moving job in eight or nine hours.

What happened next, when he encountered some police officers, and the rest of his journey, is truly amazing. And wait till you read what the family that was moving that day, and Walter’s boss, did for him.

I really don’t want to give too much away, because The Washington Post’s Allison Klein does a sensational job of weaving this tale.

Such determination by this kid. Such kindness showed by others. There’s always hope out there.

**Next up today, if you followed the World Cup at all you know that a big reason France won was the play of 19-year-old phenom Kylie Mbappe. Well, Mbappe just became an even bigger hero this week after announcing he was donating his entire earnings from the tournament to a charity that gives free sports instruction to hospitalized and disabled children in sports, Premiers de Cordee.

The donation will be for just more than $500,000, and Mbappe has been involved with the charity for a few years.

“When his schedule allows it, he intervenes for us with pleasure,” said Sebastien Ruffin, the GM of Premiers de Cordee. He has a very good [relationship] with children, he always finds the right [words] to encourage them. I sometimes even feel that [he] takes more pleasure to play with the kids than the kids themselves.”

Sounds like Mbappe has a great future, in philanthropy and in soccer.

**Finally today, if you’re looking for a major league baseball player to root for the rest of the year, I nominate Josh Reddick of the Houston Astros. The Georgia native did something amazing over the past few years; he’s built a brand-new Little League field specially for children with special needs near his hometown in Effingham County, Ga.

He spent more than $1 million of his own money to build Josh Reddick Field, partially to honor his Dad, who was severely injured in an accident when Josh was a newborn.

What a wonderful field, and wonderful gesture. He’s got my support for the rest of his career.

Even if you’re not a Sacha Baron Cohen fan, this guns video must be seen. A minor league baseball team mocks Millennials and it’s very funny. And the “Neymar Challenge” in Mexico is a big hit with people who flop

With my head (and probably yours) head still spinning from that unbelievable American leadership capitulation to Comrade Putin Monday, I went looking for something to cheer me up.

Not sure I found it, but if you’re looking for something that will blow your mind even more than an American president openly siding with a Russian dictator over his own intelligence agencies, let me show you this Sacha Baron Cohen video from the debut episode of his new show on Showtime, “Who Is America?”

Now, I’m not a Borat fan, or much of a Baron Cohen fan. But this clip went viral Sunday night and into Monday for a very good reason: It’s hilarious, and terrifying.

In character, Baron Cohen poses as an Israeli anti-terror expert who comes to America seeking support for his “Kinder-guardians” program, which he claims has been so successful in Israel. The program trains toddlers, 3 and 4-year-olds, on how to use guns, so they can help prevent school shootings.

And yes, we get to see a few gun nuts salivate with glee about this fake program, and then Cohen goes to Washington and gets real, actual politicians to say unspeakably awful, evil things.

Please watch to the end, if you can. And be very, very afraid. The teddy bears, the horrible jokes, and the very real beliefs of gun rights zealots… it’s all here.

**Next up today, it’s been a long time since I’ve laughed at/mocked/appreciated a minor league baseball promotion in this space, so I was thrilled to come across this one from the Montgomery (Ala.) Biscuits, a AA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.

On July 21 the Biscuits are holding “Millennial Night,” destined to honor the generation of current 20s and early 30-somethings.  On this night participation ribbons will be given out just for attending the game, there will be napping stations and selfie-taking stations, and lots of avocados available to eat (lots of Millennials apparently like avocados, but so does my 3-year-old so who knows).

I actually thought this was kind of funny, and clever, but as always people on the Internets lost their ever-loving minds about it. Here are some of the wildly-oversensitive replies from those who don’t love what the Biscuits are serving up.

**And finally, here’s another story that made me laugh pretty hard. If you followed the World Cup at all (oh hey France, congrats on that. Your victory allows me to link to one of my favorite “Cheers” lines ever:, from Dr. Frasier Crane: )

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the World Cup. So if you followed the World Cup maybe you heard about the kerfuffle involving the histrionic diving of Brazil’s star, Neymar. This guy made those Italian soccer players of years past look like straight-up sportsmen. Neymar moaned and whined and fell to the ground at the slightest bump.

Well, a pro team in the Mexican soccer league Liga MX decided to have some fun at halftime of their July 7 game. They decided to hold the “Neymar Challenge,” where a number of budding young soccer stars lined up on the halfway line during the break in play before taking part.

This saw the kids rolling around in feigned agony, much like the Paris Saint-Germain forward has been known to do. The Brazilian star had exited the 2018 World Cup the night before as his side were beaten 2-1 by Belgium in the quarter-finals. Mexican soccer fans took delight in the result, with their team having been eliminated from the tournament by Brazil on July 2.

This is awesome. The kid in the black shirt who’s far in front has clearly been practicing. Give that man a Brazil jersey, immediately!

A fantastic final few days of Wimbledon, as Djokovic and Kerber re-ascend (but that 26-24 fifth set was obscene). The inside story of the amazing Thai cave rescue. And in honor of Putin-Trump meeting, two great U.S.-U.S.S.R. clips

Every year, on the Sunday night after Wimbledon ends, I feel a little sad. Because two glorious weeks of tennis are over, on the most hallowed grounds of the sport, and it won’t come around for another year. (Though having the U.S. Open be only six weeks away does make me feel a little better).

But tonight I’m feeling fired up about tennis because of the return of Novak Djokovic, long my second favorite player (behind some guy with the initials RF). Djokovic is hardly beloved among fans, and I can see why some find him irritating (his exhortations, his snippiness with crowds, his constant ball-bouncing before a serve).

But I love the guy, because I think he’s genuine, always gives credit to his opponents, and because in this age of Federer and Nadal, two of the five greatest players ever, he’s found a way to thrive and become a legend himself.

Djokovic has had a terrible last couple of years in tennis; he was injured, he changed coaches a bunch (even firing Andre Agassi), and hardly seemed like his old self.

But the last few days at Wimbledon … man. He beat Rafael Nadal in five pulsating sets Friday and Saturday (a match played over TWO days, and I’ll rant about that in a moment), truly an extraordinary match, one of the best you’ll ever see.

Then he beat Kevin Anderson in the finals Sunday, who was totally gassed from his ridiculous semifinal win. Djokovic cried after the win, and watched his 3-year-old son cheer him on from the players’ box, and it was beautiful.

The sport is better when Nadal, Federer and Djokovic are all playing their best. They’re all pretty close to that now, which is why Wimbledon was so phenomenal this year.

On the women’s side, Serena Williams fell just short of winning her first Slam as a Mom, losing in the finals to Angie Kerber. Serena is still not my cup of tea, but she really does seem to have matured a lot in the last few years, with her attitude and behavior on court. She was completely gracious after the match, and motherhood really does seem to have softened her. I fully expect Serena to win the U.S. Oen.

OK, couple more Wimbledon thoughts and then I promise no more tennis here until the Open:

— So the reason Kevin Anderson was exhausted Sunday was because he had to play an insane 50 games in the fifth set against John Isner in the semis Friday. The two men played a 26-24 fifth set, because Wimbledon refuses to use a tiebreaker, and makes players win final sets by two.
Absolutely ridiculous, in a semifinal of a Grand Slam, to make people have to play 6.5 hours. For the love of fans, players and the sport, give us a final-set tiebreaker! Do it at 9-all, or 12-all, or even 14-all. But please, do it! Anderson had nothing left Sunday, the length of the match forced the Nadal-Djokovic semi to be played over two days (because of the silly but charmingly quaint 11 p.m. curfew at Wimbledon, no matches can continue past that hour), and the women’s final was delayed as well.

Just so unnecessary. Let them finish and not destroy their bodies in the process.

— Anderson-Isner was compelling, but not particularly exciting tennis. At some point you have to admire their stamina. And how about the blatter stamina of the chair umpire, Marija Cicak, who didn’t get one bathroom break in the whole match. She should get a trophy for that.

— Finally, a few quick words about Federer: Sure it was disappointing to see him lose to Anderson in the quarterfinals. But for most of the tournament this almost-37 year-old played great, and I fully expect him to be in the finals of the U.S. Open in a few weeks. He’s far, far from done.

**Next up, by now you know all about the incredible rescue of the 12 Thai soccer players and their coach from a cave, by some incredibly heroic SEAL’s and emergency personnel. But the inside story of how these boys were able to be saved is incredible; this New York Times article is fantastic, providing details of how duct tape was so important, how luck played a part, and how so many things had to come together to save the boys.

“I still can’t believe it worked,” one of the rescue operation leaders said. Truly, a wonderful story of teamwork. And this NYT piece takes you inside the cave, with graphics, videos and so much more. Multimedia journalism at its best.

**Finally today, President Man-baby is meeting with his bestie, Vladimir Putin, today, and God only knows what will happen. Wouldn’t surprise me to find out that by Monday night we’re now co-countries with Russia, or that Putin has agreed to be Trump’s running mate in 2020.

Given the uncertainty, I feel like today is a good time to watch these two clips; let’s call them “Great Moments in U.S.-U.S.S.R. history.”

First, a little hockey game in 1980 was played between the two countries. How’d that turn out again?

And then, in what I feel is an equally important moment in Cold War history, we have our greatest heavyweight boxing champion ever, a lefthander out of the fighting city of Philadelphia, Rocky Balboa, single-handedly bridging the divide between two nations with a stirring speech. (Truly my favorite part of this wonderful, ridiculous scene is at 1:26, when the first Politburo guy stands up and almost can’t believe he’s applauding.)

The woman in San Diego who feeds schoolkids and homeless people gets an awesome surprise. The Dad who saved the ballet recital. And the baby who loved her Dad’s guitar playing so much

And a Happy Friday, amigos. Super-pumped up today to watch Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic tangle in the Wimbledon semis, though they’ll be hard-pressed to match the amazing Wimbledon men’s quarters on Wednesday. So much ugliness in the world again this week (“NATO? Who needs NATO?”) but there is so much good out there as well, including those amazing rescue workers who saved the entire Thai soccer team and their coach trapped in a cave. What a miraculous, amazing job done by those SEAL’s and emergency personnel.

I want to start Good News Friday this week with a different kind of hero, but one equally deserving of live: Debra Davis is an angel of a woman living in San Diego, who not only serves lunch to hungry high school kids there, but drives around after that in a beat-up old car serving food (paid for by herself) to homeless people.

Ms. Davis has been beloved for years, but finally the community got together and showed her love in a tangible way. As always, Steve Hartman of “CBS Sunday Morning” delivers the beautiful goods.

What a woman. Her reaction at the end is just priceless.

**Next up today, this went viral in the last few weeks for a very good reason: It’s fabulous. Two-year-old Bella Daniels wasn’t having a good time at her first ballet recital, screaming and crying while her little partners were dancing great. But Bella’s Dad Marc, with Bella’s baby brother in his arms, came out to rescue her and put on one hell of a performance.

Seriously, he got all the steps and moves right! So great. No dance they do at her wedding will be as good. Check out the jumps at the 2:01 mark, perfect!

True fatherhood: Making a fool of yourself on stage to save your child. Beautiful.

**And finally today, another father-daughter musical video that I loved, this one sent to me by my Dad. Check out what happens when this father begins to play Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover” on guitar for his baby girl. Sadly, my 8-month-old has not responded the same way to my killer air guitar on “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”

Still, this baby rules. Enjoy your weekend.

I’m aghast about America, Part 4,323: Have you heard about this World Health/breastfeeding story? A daughter’s hilarious tweet from her Dad’s phone. And David Simon is blisteringly good about the Annapolis shooting

My good friend Jeff has said to me on numerous times in the past two years how he admires that I mostly manage to stay even-keel about all the atrocities being committed in the Trump administration.

Oh, of course I get extremely pissed about the separation of children from their families at the border, and the rampant corruption in this White House, and just how amazingly destructive Scott Pruitt was able to be in his short time as head of the EPA. But generally, I try really, really hard not go crazy about every horrible thing.

But this story I read in The New York Times Sunday just sent me over the edge. Maybe you heard about it, but likely not. It’s about a completely non-controversial resolution from the World Health Organization about encouraging breastfeeding. Here’s the lede to the story, and please, try to contain your outrage for a moment.

A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.

Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.

American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding” and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.

When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs.

The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

The showdown over the issue was recounted by more than a dozen participants from several countries, many of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from the United States.

Health advocates scrambled to find another sponsor for the resolution, but at least a dozen countries, most of them poor nations in Africa and Latin America, backed off, citing fears of retaliation, according to officials from Uruguay, Mexico and the United States.

In the end, the Americans’ efforts were mostly unsuccessful. It was the Russians who ultimately stepped in to introduce the measure — and the Americans did not threaten them.

THIS IS INSANE. So many parts of this story are horrible, but how about threatening military aid to Ecuador if they don’t withdraw the resolution? Really, that’s what we’re going to do over a freaking breastfeeding promotion resolution???

And the part about Russia introducing the measure and all of a sudden the U.S. not objecting is just too priceless. Gee, I wonder why Russia would somehow get favored but not Ecuador?

I mean, I just cannot deal with this. I said on Twitter right after I read this that it’s truly astonishing on how many issues the U.S. is now standing alone from the world. I mean…breast milk is now a reason to threaten another nation?

Good God, are there no depths to which our President and his administration will not sink, no issue on which they won’t bully? Just awful. And outrageous.

**Next up today, I thought this was pretty hilarious. Hockey writer Sean McIndoe Tweeted this the other day: “My daughter just asked to borrow my phone and when I got it back she had texted this to my wife, please advise.”

This is what young McIndoe texted:

Pretty freaking funny if you ask me. When a reader asked how old his daughter was, McIndoe replied “As old as she’s gonna get.”

**Finally today, I wanted to point you to a phenomenal piece of writing, a blistering screed, by the great David Simon, creator of ‘The Wire,” and many other wonderful things.

Simon is writing about the five people murdered at the Capital Gazette newspaper office in Maryland last week, and he is writing passionately and brilliantly about how just because this specific shooter had multiple motives to inflict violence against the newspaper doesn’t mean Donald Trump and the culture of hatred and poison toward the media he’s spewing isn’t toxic.

This is just an excerpt, but I highly recommend reading the whole thing (hat tip to loyal reader Sanford for first pointing me to this.) This section is right after Simon talked about the two dead who he knew personally:

These are the people I see when I think of the president declaring time and again for the villainy of journalists, or when I read the online screeds of his followers and devotees validating or excusing the insanity, stepping sideways from the pathetic spectacle of a United States President using his bully pulpit to, well, bully the free press of a republic.  It is a reach to claim — and so I have not — that Donald Trump contemplated all of what was to come when he began his prolonged campaign against the American press. I don’t think he imagined the blow landing on Rob Hiaasen or John McNamara or the other committed journalists murdered with them, or that the violence would explode at a community-based newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, or even that the reckoning for his adversaries in the press would be so lethal. I don’t think Donald Trump imagines very much at all. But premeditation is scarcely required for a verdict of gross negligence — for me to say, deliberately and dispassionately, that this empty, soulless man, in his unfitness for the high office, in his petty rancor and heedless verbiage, purposely created a climate that helped to murder my friends.

Fabulous, necessary stuff from David Simon.