My Conversation with Martina Navratilova

Here is the podcast and transcript, Martina was in top form and dare I say quick on her feet?  Here is part of the summary:

In their conversation, she and Tyler cover her illustrious tennis career, her experience defecting from Czechoslovakia and later becoming a dual citizen, the wage gap in tennis competition and commentary, gender stereotypes in sports, her work regimen and training schedule, technological progress in tennis, her need for speed, journaling and constant self-improvement, some of her most shocking realizations about American life, the best way to see East Africa, her struggle to get her children to put the dishes in the dishwasher, and more.

Here is one bit:

NAVRATILOVA: I just wanted to leave no stone unturned, really. The coach, obviously, was technique and tactics. The physical part was training, working very hard. I’ll give you my typical day in a minute. The eating was so that I could train hard and not get injured. So it all came together.

The typical day, then, when I really was humming was four hours of tennis, 10:00 to 2:00, two hours of drills and maybe two hours of sets. Then I would do some running drills on the court for 15, 20 minutes, sprints that if I did them now, I wouldn’t be able to walk the next day.

[laughter]

NAVRATILOVA: You know, 15- to 30-second sprinting drills. Then we would eat lunch. Then I would go either play basketball full-court, two on two for an hour and a half or little man-big man. It’s two on one. I don’t know, those people that play basketball. You just run. You just run.

COWEN: Which one were you?

NAVRATILOVA: It switches. Whoever has the ball is the little man. No, whoever has the ball, it’s one against two. Then you play little man, the person plays defense, and then the big man plays center. It’s not two on one, it’s one against one and then one. Then whoever gets the ball goes the other way. It’s run, run, run.

Then I would lift weights and have dinner either before lifting weights or after. So it was a full day of training.

COWEN: What about 9:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M.?

And this:

COWEN:Billie Jean King once suggested that you use writing in a journal every day to help you accomplish your goals. How does that work for you? What is it you do? Why do you think it works?

NAVRATILOVA: It worked because it really centers you. It narrows it down, whatever long-term goal you have. It becomes more real and more current because it narrows it down in that, “What do you need to do today?” and “Did you accomplish that goal?” You have a big goal. You break it into smaller goals, into smaller goals, until you get into, “OK, what do I do today to get to that goal?”

…Try to be honest with yourself. Be honest but also be nice to yourself. You see that with most champions. They’re perfectionists. You beat yourself up too much. I preach and I try to strive for excellence rather than perfection.

If you strive for excellence, perfection may happen. [laughs] It’s good enough to be excellent. That’s good enough. You don’t need to be perfect because perfection just happens by accident.

I asked her this:

COWEN: What was it like to go skiing with Donald Trump?

My favorite part was this:

NAVRATILOVA: Tyler, you need to drink more water. You’re not hydrating at all.

Remember, above all else, sports is cognitive!  These are some of the smartest humans of our time, even if it is not always the kind of intelligence you respect most.

Comments

I would have liked a question on why Tennis isn't a level playing field.

There are so many more hard court and clay court tournaments than grass court tournaments. Certain playing styles are incentivized over others. Given the surface mix across the major tournaments, it doesn't "pay" to be a serve and volleyer any more.

I've never seen a tennis court that wasn't level.

It isn't fair to a serve-and-volleyer if 90% of the tournaments are going to be on clay and hard court

It isn't fair to me that the basket isn't 15 feet high.

That's a caricature of my view.

I believe there are different ways to do well in tennis. Diversity of styles is good for the game. Courts must reflect the desire of the public to see a diverse range of styles.

Tennis can take a cue from cricket - a more old fashioned game played in very diverse conditions - on pitches that are hard, pitches that are soft, pitches with grass, pitches with a lot of cracks, moist pitches, dry pitches. The whole gamut.

"Diversity of styles is good for the game."

Why?

"Courts must reflect the desire of the public to see a diverse range of styles."

Evidence for this "desire of the public"?

"Why?"

Because it makes the game less physical. It can hasten the progress of many games. And sets up clashes of contrasting playing philosophies. A John McEnroe vs Bjorn Borg clash was not merely a clash of the top 2 players in the world, but a clash of two different schools of thought, two alternative approaches to sport.

Does a Djokovic - Nadal clash represent that? No.

The public still likes to see recordings of the McEnroe-Borg clashes of the early 80s. Would they be watching videos of Djokovic and Nadal in 2030? I doubt it. Because there is nothing distinct about the latter. It does not represent a clash of philosophies.

Is the purported pay gap justified by differences in revenues?

Without looking I will wager they are.

You mean BBC revenue is effected by whether it is McEnroe or Navratilova is on air?

It isn't, by the way, as the bulk of the BBC's revenues in the UK comes from this - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_licensing_in_the_United_Kingdom

Wow prior, your random link generator is particularly non sequiturish today. Unless you just really wanted us to remember how the BBC is funded.

Here let me try:

You mean Australian tourism is affected by whether Federer or Williams is on air? It isn't, by the way, as the bulk of Australian visitors do not attend the Australian Open - https://www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/passports-and-travel/tourism

Did you actually read what she said? - 'There’s this hoo-ha right now about me getting a lot less pay for the same work as John McEnroe at Wimbledon. The BBC is a publicly owned corporation, but they would not divulge what people are making.

Finally, they had to last year say how much people are making. Only people that are making £150,000 a year or more, anybody less than that, you don’t have to divulge.

A lot of the part-time people did not make the cut, but John McEnroe did make the cut. He gets at least £150,000 for Wimbledon, while I was getting paid about £12,000, £13,000 for less work — less work, yes — but about maybe one third.'

He probably meant differnces in prize money...

BBC revenue is not effected by McEnroe/Navratilova; people running BBC/BBC programmes are judged differently. Any reason why one couldn't get more than the other? Wouldn't be paying Navratilova more wasting taxpayers money?

As Brazilian minister Aloysio Nunes pointed out, Trump is a perversion of Republican values the same way former Brazilian President Quadros was a perversion of Brazilian conservative party UDN's values in the 1960's. However, a few worthwhile initiatives have been begun under Mr. Trump's rule. His anti-Chinese policies and military may supply future administrations the template they will need to counteract and counterbalance China's blatant political and economic aggression against the West and its allies. Mr. Trump has exorcised Vietnam's ghost abd made it ckear there is a place for American influence in Asia and that America may resort to first strike policies.

Good points.

Trump has few redeeming qualities in my opinion, but his one undeniable strength is his negotiation skills. He wrote a book on the topic, is following the book to the letter, and it's working.

Many of his critics are merely lamenting the fact that he has upended a paradigm where America has recently always lost out. Trade is paramount in that. We've had enormous military success but often pay a high price of political and moral indignation. Trump is immune to that, and ISIS has been destroyed because of it.

If the GOP were more Trump-like in legislation, it would have had much more success in the past year. Instead it wrestles in its relationship with Trump's character, malapropisms, faux pas, and personal shortcomings. As it did under Bush, the GOP is in the majority but acting like a minority party. It never seems to know how to govern to its strengths. However the problem may be magnified because of the effect a small minority of Republicans in the Senate have on a functioning majority. You've got RINOS, reactionaries, and rebels tugging against one another either in misplaced principles or political jockeying. Rand Paul, for example, seems to be implaccable while Susan Collins appears to be trying to squeeze out moderation.

Trump may be good at negotiating, but he didn't 'write' anything. The man doesn't even read.

They were certainly his ideas, or now that transcribing software is good enough, are there no more authors?

Maybe, maybe not. But let's be clear about Trump and 'writing', 'reading', and 'thinking'. Those things still have meanings.

Supposedly, he was a big fan of Hitler's speeches:

http://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trumps-ex-wife-once-said-he-kept-a-book-of-hitlers-speeches-by-his-bed-2015-8

Take that, msg! Don't feel so superior now, do you?

Not only that, it was a special copy written in blood!

Did he actually read the speeches? It was probably a signed copy "to a fan". Fairly sure he'd rather watch "Triumph of the Will" than read.

I don't know, but I prefer to think he did. Having a bunch of fascist demagogic speeches be the one book you actually read just seems like a very Trumpian thing to be true.

He didn't have to read, the dark magic still worked as he slept.

I fail to see how Trump's strategy on trade is "working." The Chinese just offered him the promise (getting rid of tech transfer) that they offered to previous presidents Obama and Bush. The Koreans just agreed to lower barriers on us selling them things that we don't actually sell them. I get that they agreed to lower steel exports, but I think it highly likely that even that will amount to re-routing production through third parties--as they have done in the past to fulfill trade promises (see, for example, the Multi-Fiber Agreement).

It's not that I don't see that other powers are making various statements. And I get that U.S. steel mills will be able to raise prices for U.S. buyers. But beyond robbing U.S. Peter to pay U.S. Paul, I don't see much evidence that Trump's deal-making has radically altered either U.S. trade.

Ditto for ISIS. ISIS was rapidly losing territory in 2016. They continued rapidly losing territory in 2017 and 2018. I totally agree that it was good for President Trump to continue with the policies that led to ISIS losing territory; but what is the shift that we should be celebrating?

I know it's a long shot but I'd really enjoy a Conversation with LeBron James --- or, maybe a slightly less long shot, Tim Duncan

I know we already got Kareem, but I crave more NBA Conversations.

Less of a long shot, and I think more interesting than a Conversation with LeBron, would be someone who other people have suggested to Tyler: Gregg Popovich. It's not impossible to imagine that Pop might actually participate. I wonder especially what his thoughts are about the NBA vs NCAA Div 1 and one-and-done vs NCAA Div 3 (be sure to ask him about his experiences coaching Pomona-Pitzer). Oh and high school varsity vs AAU and club teams.

How should basketball be organized in the US? This partly depends on what we think our goals should be -- profit for the NBA? Entertainment for the fans? Salaries for the superstars? Salaries for the marginal players? Profit/notoriety for the colleges? For the high schools? Skills development of the players? Human development of the student-athletes ("student-athlete" being an oxymoron for many superstar players, but a reality for the majority of players)?

Somewhere in there are the national teams, but in basketball (unlike soccer) the US national teams are mainly an afterthought; even during the Olympics and World Championships we know that the basketball that really matters is in the NBA. Oh and also the shoe companies and the media, they've got billions of dollars riding on basketball.

The other big question that I have for (or maybe about) Gregg Popovich: Tyler had a post a month or two ago suggesting that sports are one area where identifying high productivity individuals is done well. I think this is quite true for basketball players; even if you're in some isolated small town playing on an obscure high school team, there are people who will notice your abilities and bring them to the attention of college or even pro talent scouts.

But what about good future basketball *coaches*? Popovich's career trajectory seems to have had a certain amount of luck involved. He might've easily spent 40 years coaching in obscurity at the Div 3 college level. Or is it the case that good coaches do get noticed, and if they're good enough to coach in the NBA they will eventually get their shot at it?

Tyler asserts that the sport is cognitive, but I didn't read any direct discussion of that. Did I miss something?

I could agree that all sports have a strong cognitive component. There is some tactical intelligence, but it's likely based on experiential heuristics. Team sports certainly have strategic intelligence, but players dont usually make those decisions. While many who make those decisions are former players, I'm not convinced that the job cant be done by someone who has never played. This bodes well for women doing that job, unless I'm mistaken that the strategy requires more actual experience than I suspect. We certainly have enough Monday Morning Quarterbacks to suspect that strategy doesnt require experience actually playing. Many generals have had no wartime planning experience.

I don't think that is what is meant.

It is more the speed at which decisions need to be made, based on the input from all the senses. Athletes describe a slowing of time, where they see and hear everything and have time to respond. We are privileged to see these performances when an athlete is a step ahead of their opponents. It is not only cognitive; I've had that experience and watched with horror at how long it took my body to respond to what I told it to do.

There is also the cognitive ability to deal with failure. A well fought tennis match between two closely matched players is won by losing a few less than the other. Some sport positions are like that; hockey goalies, football defensive backs. Failures are spectacular and the top players in these positions are characterized by cognitive processes, mental toughness.

And to even get to play at this level requires a pattern of discipline and very thoughtful way of approaching life.

That sounds more reasonable, but based on the lack of articulation in either the question or the answer, I have no way of judging whether that is how it was meant or perceived. My description of tactical decision making is consistent with your description.

As for dealing with failure, that's not cognitive it's emotional, a completely separate mental process. With that I would include within-game emotional management.

>above all else, sports is cognitive!

No. This is utterly and obviously false.

You could have just said that there is a strong cognitive element to many sports, but that would have been far too reasonable of you.

It's a good thing you don't talk like this about important issues such as national security, where such over-emotional lying could possibly have you spouting nonsense.

“such over-emotional lying“

My good sir Pants,

I was under the impression that the correct term was “mood affiliation”, but perhaps I am using the expression inaccurately.

Im not convinced anyone knows what Mood Affiliation actually means, including Tyler.

Ditto "Straussian."

It's a shame because I really want to know and believe in these things. Tyler has a gift of salesmanship.

Mood Affiliation has a virtue over "White Privilege" for having a written definition, but like WP it is empirically untestable.

'Tyler has a gift of salesmanship'

Best satirical comment in months.

How many books have you sold prior?

"Straussian" is pretty clear. Of course it means, pertaining to the philosophy of Leo Strauss -- and I'm fond of noting that the academic book "Leo Strauss: Man of Peace" is an excellent introduction to the ideas of an interesting thinker.

But it also refers to an idea that Strauss pushed, among others (and not his most important even if, currently, perhaps his most well known).

Generally speaking, the idea is that in highly charged political times, when saying the wrong thing could get you into trouble (i.e., being a republican in an absolutist monarchy), some thinkers chose to hide their actual opinions in carefully coded language, such that a surface or superficial reading would not reveal the ideas really being discussed or supported.

Such virtue signaling is unbecoming of a researcher. One can admit that not all athletes are dumb brutes without going so far as to declare them potential Rhodes Scholars who chose a different path.

Aside from the fact that time devoted to sports has an opportunity cost in liberal education, it also signals that the opportunity cost of obtaining that education is high for some people.

Dumb brutes have an honored place in society. Lets not make them into something they aren't just to please our sensibilities of equality. Steven Hawking's sole sports participation I could find was being coxswain of a rowing team. I certainly wouldn't argue he was burgeoning athlete but for his academic choices and a serious disease.

Isn't TC's citation here of "sports cognition" little more than (or nothing but) an invocation of Howard Gardner's dubious "multiple intelligences" hypothesis from decades back?

"Ideas" launched within the charmed closed circle of Harvard University sometimes have long and pernicious careers. (Gardner's nonsense was a metaphorical offer to treat disparate educational outcomes [and poor cognitive performance] as if they equally manifest "cognition" or "intelligence".)

Perhaps so, and that's the way I interpreted it, but without more articulation I would just be speculating.

Given the context, the question sounds like, "Are athletes smart? Are you smart? How does your smartness display itself on the court?"

Derek, above, opined that "cognitive" in this context involves mental quickness in reocgnizing and responding to rapidly developing situations. Fair enough. But what is the upshot? One could equivalently say that being a gunslinger, soldier, taxi driver, or day trader also cognitive in nature. I can agree, but I'm not sure what the implication is. What is the punchline?

I'm sure I can only indulge speculation here:

perhaps possibly maybe the takeaway is: "concerted cognitive effort applied purely to individual somatic performance can yield remarkable aesthetic outcomes whose ephemerality, though documented by camera and microphone, can enjoy only limited appeal."

--which I guess might make cognition in sports almost as useful as cognition in contemporary philosophy.

There is a big mental component of most sports. I wonder what the correlation is between IQ and sporting success, and I wonder if there are mental aspects to sports success that don't get captured by IQ tests. If so, where else are they important in life?

I mean, some mental abilities are probably only really useful in basketball, and others in chess. But it seems like there should be other stuff that's useful across the board.

The Rhodes Scholarship has an athletic requirement. The premise is precisely that students should be well-rounded and split their time between book learning and sports.

He's just trolling his nerdish readership.

I think I got this from one of those Republicans, that Trumpism triumphed and is, for now, the party. "John McCain, George Will, Mitt Romney, even George Bush? speak as outsiders now.

In a simple dollars and sense view, the Republican party pays $37,000 per month rent at Trump Tower, because of course they do.

"I think I got this from one of those Republicans, that Trumpism triumphed and is, for now, the party. "

Well duh. Triumphed over Clintonism for that matter. Elections have consequences.

Do you have a random number generator for your sock puppets accounts?

It used to be that Chromium would remember my Name. Even if that name was funny bear characters. But something changed, at MR or in Chromium, and I had to copy and paste the bear every time. What a drag. Or be one of the few who post as Anonymous each day.

Anyway, I decided just now to set up an actual Chromium Profile for Autofill for the bear, and that works, so I can use it more easily. Now I just have to remember to use it.

"Anonymous" does have advantages though, including that variations of it are the only impersonation-proof names at MR. It can't be impersonated because it is already an anonymous collective.

"Tell that to Ann."

Wait, didn't you just say that Republicans were steadfastly supporting Trump?

It would be interesting if things did change, and Ann was a bellwether. But the daily tracking polls haven't really moved.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/trump_administration/trump_approval_index_history

Is that steadfast support? Or "steadfast?"

You thought that today was the day that one of his links would ever support his position?

Wait a minute TMC, that's a dangerous position for you to take. Are you (and JWatts?) saying it is over for Trump and his base is dropping him now?

But there are always strawmen available, so there's that.

Oh look, you posted another link that refutes your point.

Trump Approval Index History (Approve): High 59% Currently: 45%

Yes, see that's not steadfast support. Trump has never had steadfast support. He's a wildcard clown.

He was the 2nd worst candidate of my life time. He was just very lucky to be paired up with the worst candidate of my life.

Jeez,

Trump's position today: 45/53 approve/disapprove

The same ration as 01-Feb-18, the same ratio as 04-Jan-18, the same ratio as 06-Sep-17 to name just a few. It has been a random walk around the same values.

Now if you really want to engage with this, sure we have Ann Coulter publicly rebelling, but you tell me, if a pollster called her what would she say for that audience? Does she still officially approve for the purposes of opposing liberals?

At this point you are apparently trying to maintain the simultaneous positions that Ann Coulter is both a steadfast supporter of Trump, but a public rebel by saying "He’s a ‘Shallow, Lazy Ignoramus’.

I don't think this conversation is going anywhere. You make statements, they get refuted, then you move the goal posts around. It's tedious.

At this point it is clear you didn't understand my top post at all. Everything we are talking about here is up there. This is about how:

"Nobody really loves the guy as President, but they’ll tell pollsters they do (or maybe comment below) “steadfastly” – or at least until they can get rid of him."

Ann is making clear she doesn't love the guy, and I think more of you are admitting that in these pages, but those polls still don't move. It's all about they quotes around "steadfastly."

I will mumble a few words on sports and cognition. It starts way back, at the dawn of AI. At that time a bunch of brainy people thought about how we moved, how we did things, and they plotted a very cognitive view. Before we take a step we scan the hall, catalog the items, decide where to step, and so on. The thing that did not occur to anyone for decades was that many species from foxes down to cockroaches can get down that hall. They probably aren't taking a highly cognitive view. Mosquitoes fly without doing force vector equations.

Tennis players aren't doing force vector equations either.

What can happen though is that we can use our slow cognitive "brainy people" view in training, and train the animal within us, over and over, for the animal performance. By that time though it should be fluid, unthinking, noncognitive.

Great description.

At a cognitive level, it is also important to accept the impermanence of all things.

I think Tyler should've pushed back a bit at the equal pay stuff. Sports are an entertainment product. Generally, good players provide superior entertainment to bad players. Men are vastly superior in virtually every sport, that's why we have gendered categories to begin with. If 100 million people watch the NBA and 1 million people watch the WNBA, why would there be pay equity?

The point being in tennis the viewership and interest is much more equal than the NBA vs the WNBA. So the pay should be too.

Do you know what the relative pay and revenues are between men and womens sports?

Your statement sounds plausible if not conclusory.

I don't have the details. Just seems like common sense, male and female tennis stars are somewhat equally well known, the majors have similar levels of interest, etc. And it's just as obvious the NBA is orders of magnitude more popular than the WNBA. Golf is more like basketball than tennis, with the men dominating the attention. Not many other pro sports where both genders compete.

Taking all you say as true, isnt most of the compensation in endorsements?

Are there other aspects of business decisionmaking besides gender? For example, management might be taking a bigger cut of the purse in womens sports. Or they might be investing more in promotion of the sport, in relative terms. In summary, wages are not the only input of production and the leagues are not alike in all other respects.

Yeah. Subjectively, in tennis, a good womens' match is about as fun for me to watch as a good mens' match, whereas a good men's' basketball game is more fun to watch than a good womens' basketball game. I don't know why that is, though.

And presumably the BBC being a public carrier means that commentators and pundits ought to be paid the same.

"The men still — most corporations are run by men, owned by men. They’re much more likely to give the money to the men than the women."

Mmm, yeah, that's how it works.

Proposed solution to the gender pay gap: play the men and take their prize money.

That'll work if the man's twice your age and he owes money to loan sharks.

Actually, I would like a list of top sportspeople of any gender who have loan sharks or gambling issues. It is for a friend of mine.

Is that how it works in figure skating?

"Generally, good players provide superior entertainment to bad players."

This statement is correct but not very useful. College basketball teams with rare exceptions have at best one or two players who will ever amount to anything in the NBA. Even the worst NBA team is filled with players who were stars at the college level.

Yet college basketball is a hugely popular and profitable enterprise. Ditto college football compared to the NFL. More people watch MLS soccer in the US than the vastly superior pro leagues in Europe. Etc. etc.

The talent level of the athletes is certainly a factor in sports' popularity but not nearly as big as some people make it out to be. More importantly, sports popularity is endogenous, not some fixed constant -- they rise and fall in popularity. AFAIK, women's pro soccer didn't even exist 25 years ago. That doesn't mean that NWSL players should make the same salaries as MLS players do -- but the women on the US women's national team might have a good point in agitating for equal pay to the men's national team.

The funniest part of this good interview was Tyler staying completely silent on equal pay.

Back before Tyler settled into complacency, he would have taken his little white board that he keeps under his interview chair and said: "Martina, excuse me, if I could interupt for just five minutes, I'd like to explain something. Here, along the horizontal axis, ..."

Thats right. I mean how many male porn stars make what Stormy made?

Navratilova's career was made possible by hours and hours of unpaid training, diet and lifestyle modifications. Only reason she could do that was because she could afford to train instead of work. That led to where she was during tournaments, when she actually got paid. Those opportunities must be accessible to all & all athletes, both amateur and professional, should be paid for practicing and training.

Now, this is satire.

BINGO!

Sports is cognitive? Most sports are reactive. Indeed, the very best players don't think, they react. Then there's golf. Who could ever forget Anthony Kim standing over the ball and unable to draw the club back. Or Ernie Els at the Masters hitting six putts - on one green. Some attribute the success of Freddie Couples to being dumber than a brick; cognitive he is not. Jack Nicklaus is often described as the cognitive golfer, yet he attributes his success to hitting the ball away from trouble and hitting his approach shots to the middle of the green. I suppose that's cognitive. My favorite tennis player was Ilie Nastase. Now he was a cognitive tennis player: he'd play all manner of mind games to defeat an opponent. Of course, the enormous sums some athletes earn today aren't attributable to the butts in the seats but rather the butts on the couch. I'm not all that confident that what one sees on the screen is reality, virtual reality maybe but not reality. Sports are the Truman Show. Fake sports, fake news, fake politicians. Cognitive we aren't.

But did he grunt at opportune times. ;)

McEnroe and Connors were also brats, er personalities.

Here's an economic situation. I understand that in professional (no-limit, hold 'em) poker tournaments there are under-the-table deals wherein players agree to pool/split their final winnings. Same could be done in pro golf and tennis. But, that could be "scandalous."

McEnroe, yes. Connors, some, but not a whole lot.

This comment from her - 'yet we’re so scared here' - is what stands out the most. Americans are seemingly unaware of how unusual the (ever growing) level of fear in their society is, even to someone who has lived there for 45 years.

That's because there isn't an ever-growing sense of fear for most people.

The thing is, she believes there is, and it is striking from the outside of the U.S., these being her following words - 'Of what? I don’t understand that. It’s like this manufactured fear. Then people are just blind. They make these decisions on emotions rather than rational thinking.'

And these were her words preceding them - 'I don’t know what we’re afraid of because nothing bad has really happened in this country since the Civil War. You really think about it. Pearl Harbor, yes, horrible, awful, but compare that to what went on in China, Communist countries, of course all the wars in Europe, World War I, World War II, Korean War. Compare that to that and there’s no comparison.'

"she believes there is"
People believe lots of things. Outside of the tennis stuff, this was just a lot of bullshit.

As you wish. I find the non.stop drumbeat about American crime in this comment section, to give one concrete example, a fine example. American crime rates are down dramatically, yet the fear of crime is higher than in the past.

The same applies to all of the fears swirling around guns - whether the fear of NRA members that jack booted thugs will come to take their weapons away, or the fear of another mass murder incident involving assault weapons held by many Americans.

Even this web site, with its various shuffling topics such as Eurogeddon or nuclear war with North Korea (which is absurd, at least when one thinks of nuclear war as being the sort of MAD that North Korea will never be able to engage in with the U.S.) seems engaged in its own low grade yet constant variety of fear manufacturing.

I agree with you about overblown fears, prior, but I think most places develop overblown fears and I also don't think most people are as worried about these things as this website or other makes it out to be.

@Ted: of course you are correct, but prior is not very smart so it's hard for him to pick up some obvious truths.

Related:

https://twitter.com/madeleine/status/979026257831710720

I don't know, maybe Madeleine Albright played too much tennis ..

'but I think most places develop overblown fears and I also don’t think most people are as worried about these things as this website or other makes it out to be'

Her point was that most places have a history where developing overblown fears - war to use a relevant Czech example - is understandable. What she found difficult to understand is why Americans have such fears without any comparable reason.

After all, there is an entire American industry devoted to stoking various fears - direct mail fund raising mainly targets fear to raise funds. This being a profitable American business model that is about a generation old at this point.

To give another concrete example - Americans seem more fearful of terrorism in Europe than Europeans are, which is bizarre when you think about it for a second.

@prior: "To give another concrete example – Americans seem more fearful of terrorism in Europe than Europeans are, which is bizarre when you think about it for a second."

Yes, there are Americans (mostly alt-right) on Twitter for whom Europe is masturbatory apocalyptic fantasy.

It isn't just the alt right on twitter. Here is the example of the current American ambassador to the Netherlands, former congressman Hoekstra.

'In 2015, Hoekstra spoke at a conference hosted by a right-wing anti-terrorism group, claiming without evidence that the “Islamic movement” had brought chaos to the Netherlands.

“There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned,” Hoekstra said at the time. “And yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/01/11/trumps-new-ambassador-ignored-questions-from-dutch-reporters-now-u-s-reporters-want-answers/

"To give another concrete example – Americans seem more fearful of terrorism in Europe than Europeans are, which is bizarre when you think about it for a second."

Not really. What country got hit on 911? What country launched a "war on terrorism?" America has lost many more people due to real and imagined(Iraqi WMDs) Islamic terrorism than Europe.

If it makes you feel better, I'm more relaxed in the past year.

+1. That was indeed a very perceptive comment.

clockwork - I have known a lot of people who grew up in Communist countries, and in countries with much more tragedy from bad politics and tyrants than one could find in the USA. Often they are arrogant, and consider Americans less wise than themselves, due to "less suffering".

Sometimes I explain to them that what Americans fear is not what they fear: that does not make them better or make us better, but we are different. A Frenchman fears that bad things will happen to France, a Slav fears for the Slavs.

Americans fear no more about America than foreigners fear about their country, but Americans also fear that something bad will happen to the French or the Slavs, or some other group, and there will be something the Americans could have done, and they didn't do it. The French and the Slavs, to put it mildly, do not feel such thoughts in a reciprocal way about America. So the level of concern here seems awful high to parochial foreigners.

There is no way to say it, as an American, without the risk of being misunderstood as condescending. To put it roughly but accurately, other countries are like children who fear for their own safety, without fearing much for the safety of other countries than their own, Americans are more like the adults in the room, who fear for the safety of their own country but also fear for the safety of other countries. The historical reasons for this are obvious, this does not mean Americans are better and non-Americans are worse. And yes, if we Americans did not feel that way, little Martina would not have grown up dreaming she would live in America one day. Well, she has been young, and beautiful, and beloved, and nobody can take that away from her, even if she is ignorant and talks too much in a negative way about a country that has been so kind to her, and about the good people of that country.

It is ok to criticize Americans, but not from a position of ignorance, and her lack of gratitude is something she needs to work on. I have no idea why she thinks, as a rich person, who has been a rich person since the day we welcomed her as a future citizen, that it is ok to belittle the suffering of Americans, and to lecture Americans from her position of wealth, after all that Americans have done for her.

Outstanding post. +1000

+1, There are other countries that also tend to take the long view, but it's obvious that American has for decades led the effort.

Adults don't "fear" for others; rather, they take concrete actions based on reason and reflection to mitigate risk to others.

And France has suffered combat deaths in Afghanistan and Mali. There are surely countries that care very little about what goes on outside their borders but France is not among them.

Ricardo - I can't disagree with what you said about France, and, for the record, I am aware that quite a few Russians have recently given their life in battle on behalf of people in other countries.

sounds like a German woman, booming, matter of fact practical voice.

I'm not familiar with that little man-big man basketball game that Navratilova tried to describe. We used to sometimes play a game that we called "cutthroat" when there were three of us (an inconvenient number) on the basketball court. It was basically 1-on-2 half-court basketball.

But the game that she describes sounds like it is full-court, and there seem to be rules that distinguish between who is the big man and who is the little man? In our game, the only distinction was that the guy with the ball was on offense and the two others were on defense.

I may be revealing my age here, but I'd never heard of her before your bleg. I wouldn't say this has been my favorite CWT, but I still found this a great interview, very interesting and a fine example of what pods are able to do, mostly because of her abilities as a speaker -- not to say the questions were poor. This pod has come a long way, and I look forward to the next one.

He probably meant differnces in prize money…

Quite the gynocentric partisan: "I think the men should play two out of three. Because both men and women play, they should be paid the same. End of story. It’s the right thing to do, by the way."

And yet, can't bring herself to say "But the fact is that currently men work more than women for the same pay at the Grandslams, and that is unfair to men".

And offers a dubious explanation: "Also, they found that until they slowed down the grass at Wimbledon, which was the last tournament that finally gave us equal prize money, the ball was in play longer in the women’s matches"; whereas: A common counter-argument has been that women's games are longer, so three sets last a comparable time to five sets of men's tennis, but, while numbers aren't available for the average length of men's and women's matches at Wimbledon, there has certainly been no evidence of this in the tournament's finals. On average, women's finals since 1980 have lasted just over 93 and a half minutes, whereas the average men's final has lasted over 151 minutes."

Forgot to put quotes after "whereas" and before "A common".

Another dubious-sounding claim: "Actually they did studies. Most people came to Wimbledon — they’ve done questionnaires — most people came to watch men, but then when they were leaving, they actually enjoyed watching the women more than the men."

So according to her womens' matches give more value to the viewers than mens' (though women are graciously willing to settle for equal pay with the lower-value gender), but somehow mysteriously this differential in enjoyment never reflected in the market!

Anyone surprised that gynocentric demanders of equality are usually also female-chauvinists?

everything about this subject is bollocks. Men's final tickets for Wimbledon sell for more than double the price of the women's final (and it's money we are talking about). e.g. see on stubhub £3899 for men's v £1201 for women's. Quarter Finals even more stark (£2615 for men v £650 for women). Why do we let Navratilova make the case for equal pay on the basis of equity? It's not about equity - she could get equity with a nurse if she wanted. It's about Navratilova getting paid more.

I'd like to see how female tennis viewership will get affected if the skirts were made a bit longer or if the women are made to wear men's shorts instead.

I could have lived another 50 years without hearing Martina's political views aired.

remember also, not to underestimate objects!

Afterwards, did you share your insights from Discover Your Inner Economist about how getting children to do the dishes can be an unsolvable problem?

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