Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Opinion | Pickleball should die. Long live pickleball!

Opinion | Pickleball should die. Long live pickleball!

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You might feel the same way if pickleball — with its signature just-over-the-net return known as “dinking” — has also become your raison d’etre since the sport’s explosion in popularity.

But not Rick Reilly. “I hate pickleball,” says Reilly.

Also to note: “It’s not a sport,” the contributing columnist writes. (Italics mine, derision his.)

His piece scorning the court game is delightfully cranky; he hates the sight (inelegant) and the sound (“pwock!”) and would also hate the smell if it had one.

“But wait,” the PicklePushers wail. “It’s America’s fastest-growing sport!”

So what? The Diphyllobothrium is a fast-growing tapeworm. Doesn’t mean I want it.

Luckily, for us aficionados, Katrina vanden Heuvel (presciently!) volleyed pickleball criticism last year.

The sport (yes, sport!) is providing Americans of all walks of life an easily accessible way to make friends and strengthen real-life networks. It’s restoring our social capital. Pickleball, perhaps, could even lower crime.

As vanden Heuvel wrote, “Any phenomenon that can foster community on this scale is worth checking out.”

Sorry, Rick. Nice serve, but I’d say we’re 0-0-1.

Chaser: Law professor James Boyle wrote a love letter to the regular pickup game. Yes, he included pickleball.

We all know artificial intelligence is coming for our jobs. But is it coming for your job?

Dancers, you’re safe. Interior designers, not so much. (As a journalist, the third profession available to gay men, I fall somewhere in the middle.)

Graphics and data columnists Yan Wu and Sergio Peçanha scraped a bunch of new data to plot various occupations based on how likely they are to be affected by the AI boom. You can type yours in to find where on the graph your future lies.

The catch is that we still don’t really know whether AI will replace us or we’ll end up harnessing it to do our jobs even better. That will also vary greatly profession to profession.

And even if your job disappears, take heart. “From lamplighters to switchboard operators to video store clerks, professions have come and gone,” Yan and Sergio write. “We’ve adjusted.”

Chaser: Columnist Karen Attiah is getting out ahead of things. She wrote in January that, for writers, AI is like a performance-enhancing steroid.

From Paul Waldman’s column on the Republican-dominated Texas legislature’s attempt to have the Ten Commandments displayed in every public school classroom in the state.

But … but … isn’t there direct Supreme Court precedent against that? Hey, what’s precedent these days?! Worth a shot!

Paul writes that, legally, this will be a test of how far a minority can go imposing Christian nationalism in a decreasingly Christian nation.

But James Talarico approaches the matter religiously, too. The Texas legislator is a Christian himself — and he makes a case this goes against the faith’s values, as well.

Two Black mothers, two deeply personal lessons.

The first comes from Doris Cammack Spencer, mother of Patricia Spencer Favreau. Favreau, who has seen much of the world, writes that her mother mostly stayed within the States. But her journeys navigating the world first as a Black girl integrating an Anacostia school and then as a Black woman climbing the ranks of government and marching for civil rights were more profound than overseas vacations.

“Her physical passport might be empty,” Favreau writes, “but her personal passport is abundantly full.”

The second lesson is from the mother of contributing columnist Theodore Johnson. She died two years ago this Wednesday, and Ted has been reflecting on his grief.

How does a Black man navigate such a devastating emotion when he’s taught he has to be strong — but not too strong? How does vulnerability work when stability is what the world demands of you?

Ted doesn’t have all the answers, but he’s still being pointed in the right direction by his mother’s words: “I’m proud of the man you’ve become.”

  • Far(ther)-right outlets are using Fox News’s disrupter playbook against it. Catherine Rampell writes that the network has two options to fight back.
  • President Biden’s biggest liability for 2024 is his own vice president. Columnist Matt Bai offers an answer to the Kamala Harris question. (And, no, it doesn’t involve replacing her.)
  • Columnist Eugene Robinson writes that society made the choices that put Jordan Neely on the New York F train where he died.

It’s a goodbye. It’s a haiku. It’s … The Bye-Ku.

Until you botch the match point

Have your own newsy haiku? Email it to me, along with any questions/comments/ambiguities. See you tomorrow!

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