This morning you will take your team and ride the longest climb of your route on the H2H challenge in addition to taking on the heat of the central highlands of Viet Nam. You’ll be passing by the Lao border, be mindful of this Frontier area where friendly bandits often frequent and will tempt you with icy beverages. You’ll following the Ho Chi Minh highway passing through the Annamite mountain range to areas of outstanding natural beauty – namely the Dak Glei Ngoc Linh nature reserve and the Dong Amphan National Bio-reserve. Do not let this stunning scenery or the exciting prospect of climbing even higher on Ngoc Linh mountain distract you.
Finally, watch for the kamikaze butterflies on your downhill slops. They will come at your with zero respect for road safety.
Your team for this mission:
Michael Tatarski, aka ‘Steak’ will be your lead man; he is known for providing false information and hope. While he has a solid sense of direction, he is known for providing inaccurate facts and figures that can easily mislead and provide false hope on your ride. Be prepared for his ‘Donkey Kong’ style antics when you reach the top of hill for he will be rolling cold bottles of Revive down to you.
You’ll also be aided by the singled wheeled Mr Kimber. Kimber has a total disregard for bicycle physics that allows him to ride any bike in any condition. As useful addition for your team given the road conditions.
Your nature man is Chris Gallet. Gallet will defend you and your team from spider attacks along any bathroom stop you have to make.
Ms San-Diep. San Diep is your woman on the scene and has intimate knowledge of local customs and language. Added to this, with the ability to pacify any situation with charm and sophistication is the Lormor and Resparc.
Finally along the frontier area, your heavy hitter is Tat and Damo. Tat is skilled in several forms of martial arts and is your Zen barrier. Damo just intimidates people with his strong Mancunianbackground.
As always, if you or any of your team get a puncture, the secretary general (Rolls) will disavow any knowledge of your actions.
This message will self destruct at the end of your ride.
Ngoc Linh mountain. Called the rooftop of southern Viet Nam. Some 2,598 meters high.
Fun down hills weaving through the mountains
Jack teaching the team how to ride with a busted wheel
On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton named a triad of wonks to lead her policy team. Two of them were widely expected: Jake Sullivan, a top aide to Clinton when she was at the State Department, and Ann O'Leary, who served as legislative director in Clinton's Senate office, both made the cut.
But the third member of the team, Maya Harris, is perhaps the most interesting. Harris, the sister of California Senate candidate Kamala Harris, isn't a known member of Clintonland. She didn't hold a key position in Bill Clinton's White House, or on Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign, or in Hillary Clinton's State Department. She's a law professor and, most recently, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, where she published only a single paper — but it's a paper that may prove key to Clinton's 2016 efforts to hold, and even expand, Obama's coalition.
The paper's title is "Women of Color: A Growing Force in the American Electorate," and in it, Harris criticizes politicians and political strategists for only addressing the concerns of women of color "as a part of broader efforts aimed at women, youth, or a specific racial or ethnic group." Women of color, Harris argues, are their own, incredibly fast-growing voting bloc, and any politician who wants to win them needs to make sure "their interests are priorities on the policy agenda."
But Harris's paper isn't just about how to win the votes of women of color; it's also about why politicians should try. She spends most of the paper laying out just how decisive these voters will be in future elections. "Women are the country’s largest voting bloc, and women of color are the fastest-growing segment of that group," she writes, going on to note that "women of color represent 74 percent of the growth in eligible women voters since 2000."
Moreover, women of color aren't just eligible to vote — they really do vote, at least if you give them something to vote for. This chart from her paper makes the point well — in every subgroup you can think of, women vote at higher rates than men, and African-American women vote at higher rates than anyone:
Harris's paper doesn't delve deep into what kinds of policies are likely to win over women of color, but her basic political theory is an interesting signal of how Hillary Clinton's campaign might try to fashion its own version of Obama's coalition.
There has been wide skepticism that Clinton can sustain the high turnout among minority voters that Obama managed. Harris's point is that most of those voters are women, and that if Clinton wants them to turn out, she needs to give them reason to turn out. In hiring Harris to help lead policy on her campaign, it's a reasonable bet that Clinton is signaling she agrees, and intends to try to give them reasons to come to the polls.
And here, Clinton might run a very different kind of campaign than Obama. As much as part of Obama's 2008 appeal was that he would be the first black president, he was at pains to avoid proposing policy specifically aimed at the black community.
Only 12 percent of the electorate, after all, is African-American. Obama needed to convince a majority of voters that he would govern on their behalf, and so even when he gave his famed race speech in Philadelphia, he was quick to separate his historical analysis of racism from his policy intentions:
I have asserted a firm conviction — a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people — that, working together, we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances — for better health care and better schools and better jobs — to the larger aspirations of all Americans: the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man who has been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family.
But Clinton's position is different. The math is on her side. A majority of the electorate is female. A majority of voters of color are female. If Clinton somehow polarizes the electorate perfectly around gender — if every woman votes for her, and every man votes for her opponent — she'll win, and easily.
That means Clinton can work to make policy appealing directly to women in a way Obama couldn't make policy appealing directly to African-Americans. And when it comes to turning out women of color, in particular, one of her key policy advisers will be someone who's spent the last few years thinking about how to use policy to bring women of color to the polls.
Centuries of human existence, Prodigy and fate intertwined in conflicts, Mulberry fields turned into open sea, Enough has been seen to melt the heart. Little wonder that beauty begets misery, For Blue Heaven's jealous of exquisite glamour!
Beauty certainly begets misery, a country for some, a war for others, beauty for all. Cam Thuy, It was truly a difficult town to leave.
Woke in the morning around 5:30 am, not due to noise, but to the lack of it, gone were the sounds of hectic traffic in Hanoi and of the catcalls and late night dub-step debauchery of Cho Ben: I had experienced something new in over three years in Vietnam: Silence.
After packing my bags in the van I headed out for coffee. I ran across an elderly man who was opening shop, he owned the local apothecary, his name was Van. After having a pleasant chat with him in shockingly good English ( he reminded me of my Pilipino friend Geoff, doing an impersonation of his grandfather, if that helps, it probably doesn’t) , I left to have breakfast with the rest of the team, but not before promising him that I would see him next year…(H2H 2016?) Breakfast was the usual, soup, either Pho or Bun Bo, it doesn’t really matter at this point as long as it has calories and won’t make me sick; I am happy.
I returned late, missing the team stretches ( I ran into Van on the way back and he wanted to talk more, I know the previous description doesn’t work for most - lets liken him to Mickey Rooney in breakfast at Tiffany’s, but you know, not in an offensive way). My riding buddy Pocket Rocket/Maple Muff/Carolyn was getting anxious; she was ready to go. Go we did. Go we must.
So we journeyed forth from Cam Thuy to Yen Cat, putting the lovely Appalachian looking town of Cam Thuy to our blackened posteriors and bronzed calves.
The scenery on day three was profound; the primeval karst rock formations gave way to bluffs and rice paddies encapsulated by distant mountains… It would make Dawkins religious….It would make a politician keep a promise. Sometimes in life there are so many awful things that make you feel like you cannot go any further, beauty is like that too; I’ve seen it. Cam Thuy, if god rested on the seventh day, may he have rested with you?
Powering through, we stopped for lunch, after about 50 kilometers, having some of the best Bun Bo I’ve ever tasted. After lunch we were all set to hit the pavement with gears shifted low and heads held high, but not without an impromptu sexy dance party involving Carolyn, Issac and myself. With locals bemused and Tat excited by our performance, we carried on.
We arrived in Yen Cat, much earlier than we anticipated due to a hill that never came. The entrance to the town was supposed to be proceeded by an arduous 12 kilometer climb that frankly was neither, much to our relief.
After showering and sink washing our gear in the sinks, we met down in the lobby. A few beers and some booty-licious coffees later, we heard that Thea thought the hills were like acid, forever rolling up and down gently dipping you into the places that you both wanted and needed to be.
A few of us went exploring, Yen Cat didn’t have much to offer, in fact, it felt a little bit like correspondence photos from North Korea; it was grey, desolate. We came upon a small group of children playing football and Chinese jump rope with a rubber band string. We gave it a go, but even by using my height to cheat at the game ( by just stepping over and through), the game proved too difficult.
We headed to the only watering hole in town for one beer, however we were greeted by a raucous group of young Vietnamese men who invited us to join them, not one to insult or turn down a few new friends we joined them to take photos and gulp down 100%-ers. However they became a bit touchy in the literal sense, convincing themselves that Mr. Keith Landberger was the handsomest man they had met, we knew that they had had enough to drink and so had we.
At the team meeting we shared secrets and to our surprise and Claire’s disappointment we found that Ms. Thea’s secret was an unrequited attraction to Mr Keith. We left the night tired and wondering what the hell was up with Yen Cat, where Keith was King and the cops were touchy (feely). We tucked ourselves in with our “people bits” bruised…. But not blistered. Well, not yet…
It's almost time for H2H 2015 to start riding! After a couple of days in Hanoi we're down to one final evening before we hit the road. A few team members flew up north early but the bulk of the team arrived Wednesday afternoon (including Carolyn, who went MIA with a dead phone for several hours). All of our bikes arrived in one piece and there were no major luggage mishaps, although Chris G. ended up with a bag of clothes smelling like fish.
Chuong, our trusty mechanic, set to work putting the bikes together, allowing us to enjoy the afternoon in Hanoi. After a filling dinner of xoi a number of us decided to stay out far too late and drink far too much before getting up this morning for a two-hour bus ride south to Cat Dang village in Nam Dinh province. This is where The Children's Initiative, one of our charity beneficiaries, helps support the local school system. Along the way Ms. Lien, the TCI coordinator in Hanoi, told us we would be meeting with the commune- and district-level authorities who are, and this is a direct quote, "real Communists."
Our first stop was the kindergarten, which has been massively improved over the years through funds raised by H2H. Since I first came here in 2012 they've added two lovely classrooms and an impressive kitchen. It's great to see where the money we raise goes in person.
The newest building
After getting a brief tour some of the children put on a performance while the rest goofed around and mugged for the camera. I love seeing such pure joy in a nondescript town that most of us would consider pretty poor.
Afterwards we were treated to a feast of rice, chicken, egg, tofu, stir-fried vegetables and soup. I recognized several of the officials from my visits to Cat Dang ahead of the 2012 and 2013 rides, but they were much more subdued this time around. In years past this lunch devolved into a boozefest, where the locals forced shot after shot of deadly rice wine on us until we could barely even put together a coherent sentence. Luckily, given the debauchery of the previous night, the forced liquor drinking was kept to a minimum. I think I only had five shots, which is certainly a record low for me in Cat Dang.
We were then brought to a middle school in another part of Cat Dang, where the team split into groups and played games with the students in various classrooms. Most of the kids were pretty wary of us ugly foreigners, but they seemed to get into the games eventually.
It was then back on the bus and back to Hanoi after an awesome afternoon. We're having a team dinner in a bit and then it's time for final prep - making sure our gear is sorted and our bikes are ready to go. Tomorrow morning we start early so we can have breakfast at KOTO before officially hitting the route. Day 1 takes us to the small town of Dai Nghia on a pretty flat 75km jaunt. I for one can't freaking wait to finally get pedaling - this will be my third H2H, and I'm just as excited as I was the first time. We've got a great team and I look forward to getting to know everyone over the next month.
We plan to post on a daily basis from here on out, so please follow our progress!
Justice Kagan's "Dr. Seuss" dissent in Yates v.United States, another example of her intersting and readable style of writing, caught everyone's attention this week, for good reason.
But she’s not the only judge who employs that style. Judge Neil Gorsuch’s recent opinion in United States v. Rentzis another excellent example of engaging, reader-friendly writing. The first paragraph, though long, is a jewel. I've broken it up for ease of reading below.
Few statutes have proven as enigmatic as 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Everyone knows that, generally speaking, the statute imposes heightened penalties on those who use guns to commit violent crimes or drug offenses. But the details are full of devils. Originally passed in 1968, today the statute says that “any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime ... uses or carries a firearm, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm, shall, in addition to the punishment provided for such crime ... be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 years.”18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). That bramble of prepositional phrases may excite the grammar teacher but it's certainly kept the federal courts busy. What does it mean to “use” a gun “during and in relation to” a drug trafficking offense? The question rattled around for years until Bailey v. United States, 516 U.S. 137, 116 S.Ct. 501, 133 L.Ed.2d 472 (1995), and even now isn't fully resolved. What does and doesn't qualify as a “crime of violence”? The better part of five decades after the statute's enactment and courts are still struggling to say. Cf. United States v. Castleman, --- U.S. ---, 134 S.Ct. 1405, 188 L.Ed.2d 426 (2014); United States v. Serafin, 562 F.3d 1105, 1110-14 (10th Cir. 2009). And then there's the question posed by this case: What is the statute's proper unit of prosecution? The parties before us agree that Philbert Rentz “used” a gun only once but did so “during and in relation to” two separate “crimes of violence”—by firing a single shot that hit and injured one victim but then managed to strike and kill another. In circumstances like these, does the statute permit the government to charge one violation or two?
Things have been hard since I got let go from TIME. Me and Kenyatta have been scrambling to hold everything together. Relationship is good—we've been in this situation before, so we're not as panicked as before. Samori is doing well—for all he knows I just have more time to spend with him, which he loves. But man I've been carrying around stress, like a ton of bricks. I don't have to lecture you on that, you know all about it. But one thing that has gone absolutely right since I got layed-off—this Bill Cosby piece in the Atlantic. It's running in the May issue and will top off at 7,000 words or so. I missed the cover, but that's OK. This piece has been a dream. Here is the bonus—the book drops in May, and so does the piece. The Atlantic is gonna do an interview with me on their site about both the book and the article. I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you thanks again, man. When I got rejected on this from XXXXX, I was so down. That connection you managed between me and James Bennet meant all the world.
—"A Note Of Thanks (Again)"
Sent to David Carr on 2\28\08
David Carr, incomparable, irrepressible and now legendary, is my friend and my brother. I talked to him about everything—relationships, money problems, taxes, religion, drugs, alcohol, travel, writing, food, death. On Thursday night it was announced that David collapsed and died in the newsroom of The New York Times. On Sunday night, it was announced that I received the George Polk award for commentary for my article The Case For Reparations. This award has my name on it, but it is the property of David Carr.
Let me tell you exactly what I mean.
The Case For Reparations is an argument by reported narrative, a genre of journalism I first began studying and practicing as an intern at The Washington City Paper almost 20 years ago. My tutor in that practice was David Carr, then the City Paper’s editor in chief. Before taking up my studies, I’d enjoyed a successful career as knucklehead, which is to say that before I practiced the trade of narrative argument, I practiced the art of fucking up. My resume was impressive. On two separate occasions, in two consecutive years, I was kicked out of the same high school. When I was 14, I was arrested for threatening a teacher. Two years later, I was suspended for the same thing. I was not a thug, to the extent such people even exist. I was the kind of kid who sat in the library reading all day, and then failed my literature classes. I was the kind of kid who minored in literature and the failed my literature class and my humanities classes. Adults often think children take a kind of rebellious pride in these sorts of antics. If so it is the pride of fuck-ups and knuckleheads, the shadow of a deep and abiding fear that your life is going nowhere.
But there was this thing called The Washington City Paper which made arguments every week: big, profane, arrogant arguments. And to this it married a kind of immediacy communicated through reporting, direct quotations, and vividly rendered scenes. And it did it this at incredible length—in 1996, the minimum City Paper cover story was 5,000 words. I read a lot of these words when I was supposed to be doing other things—like studying literature or working a job. I was obsessed with the words in that paper. The words were not organized like any readings I’d ever seen. Maybe I could learn to use words in that same fashion. It wasn't like I was doing anything else. It wasn't like I had ever been good at anything else.
In the February of 1996, I sent David Carr two poorly conceived college newspaper articles and a chapbook of black-nationalist poetry—and David Carr hired me. I can’t even tell you what he saw. I know that I immediately felt unworthy—a feeling that never quite faded—because I was knucklehead and a fuck-up. But what I didn't then know about David Carr was that he'd written and edited the knucklehead chronicles, and published annual editions wholly devoted to the craft of fucking-up. I think that David—recovering crack addict, recovering alcoholic, ex-cocaine dealer, lymphoma survivor, beautiful writer, gorgeous human—knew something about how a life of fucking up burrows itself into the bones of knuckleheads, and it changes there, transmutes into an abiding shame, a gnawing fear which likely dogs the reformed knucklehead right into the grave. Perhaps that fear could be turned into something beautiful. Perhaps a young journalist could pull power from that fear, could write from it, the way Bob Hayes ran with it, because the fear was not of anything earthly but of demons born from profound shame and fantastic imagination.
Carr was a master at activating the journalistic imagination. He was constantly imploring his writers—many of us under 25—to do something different, to tell stories differently, to break the form. He would have stories from Esquire or The New Yorker photocopied. Then he would distribute these photocopies to his writers, like the blueprints of imperial army weaponry, and charge us, his rag-tag militia, with the task of reverse engineering. Then he would assemble us around a long table in the conference room, and quiz us on what, precisely, we’d gleaned from the future-tech of enemies, and what of it we might use to turn the great war.
Carr loved the technology of storytelling and those who wielded it. If you mentioned a great narrative writer in their element—say Gary Smith profiling Pat Summitt—his eyes would perk up like he’d just seen Carl Lewis mid-sprint and he would say, “Oh, he can go.” He once saw an article on how one might incorporate the tools of poetry into nonfiction. He tore out the article and left it on my desk with a note saying something like, “Still waiting to see some of this in your writing.” Another time he left a copy of The New Yorker on my desk—knowing my interest in hip-hop—with instructions for me to read a deeply reported feature on Tupac’s death. He would bring in writers from Vanity Fair and enlist them to break-down our own stories and explain where we were going wrong and how we could make it right. David wanted us always moving faster, always getting stronger, always reaching higher.
Virtually the entire staff at Washington City Paper was liberal. That included David, but he was deeply skeptical of lefty activism concealed as journalism. David had no interest in objectivity, but he always believed that truest arguments were reported and best bounded by narrative. Narrative was the elegant Trojan horse out of which the most daring and radical ideas could explode and storm a great city. An 800-word column demanding or rejecting reparations is easily repelled. Clyde Ross isn’t.
David made us feel like the writers at the big publications—at GQ, at The Atlantic Monthly, at Esquire— were no better than us. He pushed to go harder, to try match their pace, and he did this by activating fear and shame. David was a brutal and exacting boss. We didn't have fact-checkers at City Paper. There was a basic rule for errors. The first error you "introduced into the paper" earned you a talking-to. The second one earned you a lengthier talking-to and probation. The third one earned you unemployment. You did not need to “introduce” an error into the paper to earn “a talking to.” Once I flubbed two names in a music review. David chased me into an elevator and yelled at me until we got to the bottom. Another time, being 20 and wholly unaware of ethics, I promised a subject that a story would be “good for him.” David called me into his office and yelled for five straight minutes.
He yelled more than any other boss I’ve ever had. I was not exactly unfamiliar with his tactics. David once told a story about yelling at me over some error in my copy and noticing my face glaze over with a look of recognition. And he said he thought at that moment, “This is not the first time this kid has been in for the treatment.” It was not. My own parents ruled by fear, shame and expectation. Even his rationales were familiar to me. He would say he was so hard on us because people already have low expectations for the alternative press. “They already think we make shit up,” he’d say, and that meant that we had a higher bar, which is to say, it meant that we had to be twice as good.
That went for reporting and for writing. A friend and fellow writer recalled David editing his copy and finding some clichéd phrase and writing in the margins, “I’m shocked to discover you think this is acceptable language to use at Washington City Paper.” I once got a tip that the people who did evictions were hiring homeless people to do the lifting and carrying. The homeless making people homeless was a perfect Washington City Paper story. “Find them,” David told me. I did not even know where to begin. Do you simply go find some homeless people and say, “Do you do evictions?” Evidently, yes, because that’s what I did, and this is the story I brought back.
What I remember about chasing that story is the fear—the fear of offending, of asking impolite questions, of intruding. But you could not work for City Paper without learning how to walk the streets of DC, approach people you did not previously know and barrage them with intimate questions. This is an essential skill for any journalist—but it also one of the hardest things to do. But David had no tolerance of our fears, save fear of him. And if we could learn to be as deeply intolerant of our fears as he was, then a thousand glories lay on the other side. This was represented in David himself, a man who was as effusive in praise as he was damning in condemnation. I still remember stumbling upon him in another editor’s office having just turned in a draft of that eviction story, and David looking up and saying, “We were just here talking your incredible fucking story.” No one had ever said anything like that to me. I remember my mother calling the office one day to talk to me. And David, in his brusk, brutal way, grabbed the phone from me and said, "I just want you to know that your son is here working his ass off." No one had ever said anything like that to my parents about me. I was a fuck-up. I was a knucklehead. I was going to end up on the corner. I was going to end up in jail. I was going to end up dead.
And then I wasn’t.
David Carr convinced me that, through the constant and forceful application of principle, a young hopper, a fuck-up, a knucklehead, could bring the heavens, the vast heavens, to their knees. The principle was violent and incessant curiosity represented in the craft of narrative argument. That was the principle and craft I employed in writing The Case for Reparations. That is part of the reason why The George Polk Award, the one with my name on it, belongs to David. But that is not the most significant reason.
It has been said, repeatedly, that David was tireless advocate of writers of color, of writers who were women, and of young writers of all tribes. This is highly unusual. Journalism eats its young. Editors tell young writers that they aren’t good enough to cover their declared interest. Editors introduce errors into the copy of young writers and force them to take the fall. Editors pin young writers under other editors whom they know to be bad at their job. Editors order young writers to cover beats and then shop their jobs behind their backs. Editors decide to fire young writers, and lacking the moral courage to do the deed themselves, send in their underlings. Editors reject pitches from young writers by telling them that they like the idea, but don’t think their byline is famous enough. Editors allow older black editors to tell young black writers that they are not writing black enough. Some of these editors end up working in public relations. Some of them become voting rights activists. Some of them are hired by universities to have their tenured years subsidized by aspiring young writers.
All of that happened to me. And I know that I am not alone, that I am just the tip of what happens to young writers out there. And I know that even I, who am no longer a young writer, do not always wear my best face for young writers. And among the many things I am taking from David’s death is to be better with young writers, and young people in general. Because every single time some editor shoved me down, David picked me back up. It was David who I called at his home out in Montclair, in 2007, with a story to pitch to this magazine. And I asked him who he knew. And he knew James Bennet. And this is my life. It was David I called after an editor-in-chief called me into his office to tell me I did not have “the fire” to cover housing policy and development, and instead ordered me to write a weekly column on “black men.” It was David who told me that the editor did not know what he was talking about, and it was David who confronted the editor directly.
The Case for Reparations is, before it is anything, a reported story about housing policy and development. It is the story that David was urging me to write 19 years ago. The award belongs to him because I would not be a journalist were it not for him. The award belongs to him because I would not be at The Atlantic if not for him. The award belongs to him because he urged me on for nearly my entire adult life—faster, stronger, higher—and his memory will urge me on for the rest of my natural life.
David, I keep thinking I am going to call you. David, I keep thinking I am going to wake up. David, I heard a song yesterday and I wanted to call you:
Well, I’ve been dragged all over the place,
I’ve taken hits time just don’t erase
And baby I can see you’ve been fucked with too,
But that don’t mean your loving days are through.
I miss you terribly. I do not want to say goodbye. Tony says you were our champion. How can we go on, David? How can all of it just go on? Who will be our champion, now?