Christian Schneider

Author, Columnist

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 52)

Help Yourself to Some Anti-Knowledge

An announcement: I have joined the legions of writers on Substack who have begun their own newsletters. So hop on over to Anti-Knowledge and subscribe here.

Also, be sure to pick up a copy of my new book, “Anti-Knowledge: Essays From the Era of Negotiable Truth” here or at any reputable bookseller. (And some disreputable ones, too.)

The Unbearable Whiteness of Balling

Over the weekend, a carrot-topped Q-Tip named Kevin Huerter dismantled the Philadelphia 76ers, destroying their nearly decade-long “process” and catapulting the Atlanta Hawks into the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals.

The sight of a gangly caucasian torching the Eastern Conference’s number one seed caused much bemusement among NBA viewers. On Inside the NBA, TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal called Huerter “Opie Richie Cunningham.” New York Times reporter Astead Herndon, who is African-American, tweeted a photo of Huerter, saying, “imagine this guy ends your season.”

Herndon’s tweet immediately provoked the performatively offended on Twitter, who cried reverse racism for a joke about a white player in a 75 percent Black league.

“Imagine the outrage if a white man tweeted this about a black man playing a white dominated sport,” wrote one commenter. “Huh? This dude just put up 27 against the number 1 seed in the East and was seminal in winning the game. And that’s your take? Come on man,” wrote “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” actor Rob McIlhenny.

“What should the guy who ends your season look like?,” wrote another commenter, asking Herndon to explain his tweet.

L’affaire Huerter unveils an open secret in competitive basketball: White players are viewed differently than Black players. And you know what? It’s fine.

Here’s the thing that non-athletes don’t get: When your Black teammates or competitors tease you for being white, it is the ultimate honor. You are now part of the club. They are showing you respect.

As an avid basketball player growing up in the Washington, D.C. area, I always got a close-up look at how I was viewed vis-à-vis my Black teammates. At playgrounds, I was inevitably one of the last players picked. When you finally got some run and could show you had some flavor in your game, you’d start getting affectionate nicknames, always based on famous white players.

“Oh look, we got a little John Stockton here! Look at mini Bobby Hurley!”

At one point in college, playing on a court outside a dorm reserved primarily for Virginia Tech football players, a group of Black players actually stopped a game in amazement when I went between my legs and behind my back, a move the Miami Heat’s Tim Hardaway had perfected and which I had practiced hundreds of times. The move would not have gotten so many hoots and hollers had it been performed by a player who was…um…more “stereotypically” flashy.

The purpose of pointing this out is not to brag that I was really all that great – at 5’9”, I wasn’t anywhere near good enough to play in college, and these are dribbling techniques every high school player can do – but when you can do them as a white player, it gets you more attention.

As evidence, look no further than college basketball or the NBA, when announcers begin speaking in tongues when a white player throws down a vicious dunk. Pat Connaughton of the Milwaukee Bucks sports a 44-inch vertical leap – the second-highest ever measured at the NBA Draft combine – and yet even after seven years in the league, announcers are still caught off guard by his “sneaky” rise. (This is exacerbated by the fact the Bucks are well-known for their parade of white stiffs throughout the years.)

And you know what? It’s awesome.

Sports is an oasis from much of America’s performative nonsense in that it is purely a meritocracy. And when you’re part of a team, the abrupt honesty fomented by competition can provoke honest discussions of all sorts. Being in the pressure cooker of a basketball team forges friendships and trust in a way that is missing in the social media era – different players of different races can joke with each other in ways not possible among strangers. Honest conversations about race can be had without participants immediately assuming bad intentions.

(For example, my high school team’s bus rides were always accompanied by boom boxes playing Go-Go music of the late 1980s. This prompted me to ask our star player what white artists he ever listened to. “George Michael,” he told me, “because he gets all the ladies.”)

Getting teased as a white player among friends is fine, because racism is, in effect, an act of power. As a spokesman for white people, I can report that we are doing just fine. We can even storm the U.S. Capitol, live stream it, and all walk out without a bruise.

Of course, there’s always going to be the dopey “if there’s Black History Month, why isn’t there White History Month, too” brand of internet troll, and they were out in force after the Huerter game. But the reason you can make fun of white players is simple – if you joke about whiteness, you’re not making fun of something that can cause real damage to an individual. If, by contrast, you joked about a player’s “Blackness,” you would be making light of a thing that could have widespread detrimental effects on his income, educational opportunity, and way of life.

You would also be a dumb racist.

And if you are somehow offended by being taunted for being white, there is always the option of being awesome and earning the respect you think you deserve.

During one practice in high school, I dribbled the ball up the court, stopped at the three point line, and put up a shot. The coach blew the whistle and excoriated me on the spot, yelling, “you have to be a hell of a player to take that shot!”

Next time down the court, I dribbled up to the same spot, and again took another three pointer. Our coach at this point was beside himself with rage. Veins bulging, he screamed, “what did I just tell you?”

“All I heard was that you have to be a hell of a player to take that shot,” I said.

And therein lies the beauty of athletics. Want to dispel a stereotype? Do it on the court or on the field. Like Kevin Huerter, regardless of your race, you’ll always get your shot.

A Festival of Anachronisms

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, the Wisconsin State Historical Society is one of my favorite places to hang out.  If I had the time, I could spend full days just combing through microfilm, plucking oddities from hundred year old newspapers.  In fact, when I need to scroll through old papers to do work research, I have to discipline myself to only read the stuff I absolutely need – otherwise, I could be there for hours.

The glory of old newspapers is in the shocking anachronistic language they use; their pages are replete with terms that have long been shelved in the name of political correctness.  Take, for instance, this front page headline from the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1923:


Of course, in 1923, “moron” was an actual psychological term, used to describe someone who was slightly mentally retarded.  So the headline made perfect sense.

But it isn’t just words that are out of place in 2012 America; the subject matter is often fairly shocking, as well.  Take, for example, this 1923 editorial from the Milwaukee Journal, which contests a study that argues Native Americans have no “racial odor:”

1923 was also a year when divorce was a very public act; when everyday couples divorced, it often made the front page of the newspaper, with reasons given for the split.  Here’s a pair of divorce notices from 1923: in one, the husband alleges his wife “used abusive language,” and in the other, the wife alleges the husband married her before the legal one-year waiting period had passed.  (Presumably, if the marriage was going well, she wouldn’t be as quick to seek an annulment – maybe the old wife came back around and caused trouble.)


1923 was also a time when the Klu Klux Klan was still very much a part of American life.  Apparently, many Klan members thought the KKK was missing something:  a feminine touch.

In March of 1923, a new women’s chapter of the KKK began meeting.  They called themselves “Kamelia:”


This editorial was placed on the front page of the Milwaukee Journal, and is funniest how apropos of nothing it really is:


“Try to change a woman’s mind – YOU CAN’T DO IT!  Am I right, fellas?

Given all the hand-wringing about illegal aliens in 2012, I found this picture from 1926 to be entertaining:


Another example of how certain words have changed meaning over the past 100 years: Somehow, I think this characterization of George Washington would be a little more controversial these days:


Finally, I wrestled with whether to include this one – and I won\’t post the picture here.  But while the other examples serve to show how long ago those words had different meanings, this example demonstrates how recently one specific word was still a part of acceptable American lexicon.  It appeared on the front page of the Milwaukee Sentinel on October 24 of 1926, and involves a talented dog with a curious name.


Profiles in Civility

Today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel features a story about how “civility” has been lost in Wisconsin due to the conflict over collective bargaining rights.  The article goes out of its way to show that both sides are guilty of incivility, with UW-Madison political science professor Dennis Dresang declaring that “nobody’s got a monopoly on rhetoric and threats and incendiary language.”

Of course, this attempt to find equivalency between the actions of the Right and the Left in Wisconsin is pure nonsense.  The attempt to show “both sides do it” falls apart if the reader has any recollection at all of the events of the past eight months.  Let’s take a quick look at the Democrats’ “profiles in civility:”

  • Democratic state Rep. Gordon Hintz yelling at fellow Rep. Michelle Litjens “you’re f***ing dead.”
  • Sen. Spencer Coggs said Walker’s bill was “legalized slavery” and Rep. Joe Parisi said Walker was “calling the National Guard out on the people of Wisconsin.”
  • Fourteen state senators fled the state to block passage of Walker’s collective bargaining bill (including Tim Cullen, who decries the loss of civility in the MJS article.)
  • Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched on the Capitol, many with profane signs comparing Walker to Hitler, bin Laden, etc.  (Remember this lady?  (Language Warning.) See anything like this at Tea Party rallies?)
  • Aggressive, militant activists have been following lawmakers everywhere they go, filming them, verbally harassing them, and pouring beer on one.
  • The “solidarity singers” have been yelling every day in the capitol rotunda, forcing things such as blood drives to move to places other than the Capitol.
  • The chief justice of the Supreme Court likely leaked a story to the press accusing one of her colleagues of choking another justice – a story that was completely debunked, and the accused justice was eventually exonerated.
  • Committee hearings have been disrupted, with people being dragged out by their feet – one woman chained her head to the railing of the state senate parlor with a bike lock.
  • Illegal activity has been rampant, whether it is liberal activists providing  ribs for votes doctors providing fake sick notes notes, or otherwise.
  • Protesters disrupting every Walker public speaking event, including a Special Olympics ceremony.
  •  In the most toxic campaign ad of 2011,the Left tried to make it seem like Supreme Court Justice David Prosser was the best friend of pedophiles, digging up a case Prosser prosecuted as a district attorney 30 years ago.  (There were no similar ads run by any Republicans either in the Supreme Court race or the state senate recalls.)
  • Teachers pulling their kids out of school, shutting down Madison schools for 4 days, and bringing the kids to capitol rallies.
  • The desecration of the state capitol, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cleanup costs.
  • Marching not only at Scott Walker’s home, but at the homes of individual legislators that don’t have any police protection.
  • And probably most uncivilly, Democrats refused to participate in this year’s staff versus legislator softball game.

I am really making an honest attempt to find anything from the Right that matches anything on this list.  At one point, a friend of former State Senator Dave Zien allegedly tried to punch a solidarity singer.  The reports of collecting signatures and shredding recall petitions is merely a rumor; there’s no evidence anyone on the Right caused the “cyberattack” that liberals are complaining about.

And honestly – let’s say some right-wing hacker caused this “cyberattack.”  What’s worse – that, or the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court likely planting a fake story in the paper in an attempt to smear a fellow justice?

So the real story here isn’t that civility on both sides has been lost; it is that Walker supporters have maintained their composure amid an avalanche of poisonous actions by union loyalists.

Then What Does a Mountain Look Like?

Via the Cato Institute blog:

President Obama says he wants to “invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt.”

Uhhhh…. here’s his plan.

The Perils of an Undercover Lover

Tonight, I got hooked watching “Police Women of Broward County,” which is your typical COPS-type show, just with kick-ass peroxide blondes.

\"\"I was particularly interested in a storyline about an undercover prostitution sting, where they took one of the female cops and had her serve as “john bait” in a hotel room.  They used 48 year-old detective Julie Bower, who features an enormous mop of crimped blonde hair.

To start the sting, she had to put her own prostitution ad on Craigslist, complete with photo and everything.  Within ten minutes of placing the ad, she started to get calls.  Naturally, she was falsely modest, saying she didn’t expect to get calls so soon.

But that got me thinking – what if you’re involved in one of these sting operations, put one of your ads up, and don’t get any calls at all?  Like, everyone in the police force is sitting around the phone, and it never rings?  I’d imagine that would be fairly embarrassing.  I would actually feel bad that none of these creepy guys thought I was hot enough.  I mean, these lonely dudes will stoop to anything – but not you.  You’d start blaming the picture, saying it made your butt look too big, or it was out of focus or something.  (It would be even more embarrassing if you used a picture that you already had posted on Facebook.)

What’s funny is that once it came time for her to actually go undercover, the cameras went to her house to show her picking just the right slutty clothes to wear.  And as it turns out, she had a whole closet of them.  Like, it took her an hour to pick just the right whorish pants.

At one point, she actually said she had the option of picking out clothes from the police station, but decided to go with her own.  Can you imagine this discussion?

Captain: “Now in order to be believable, we want you to look super slutty.  Like, a real, genuine whore.  And not a high-end one – one that will do pretty much anything for twenty bucks.  Like a really, really dirty one.  So head on down to wardrobe.”

Julie: “No thanks, Cap.  I got this one.”

In any event, they managed to nab a couple guys.  It always surprises me how stupid and desperate these guys can be.  It seemed fairly obvious that she was trying to get them to express verbally what would be going on, in order to get it on video – to the point where it was awkward.  In the rare instance I ever fooled a woman into such activities, I can assure you we didn’t sit down and map out how it was all going to go down.  (Primarily because it might creep them out I set aside a couple minutes for crying.)

It does go to show what a thin line prostitution is, though.  I\’m pretty sure that if any of these guys had met Detective Julie Bower in a bar and bought her $20 worth of drinks, they\’d probably have gotten the same thing they sought in that hotel room.

Podcast: Kings Go Forth

On this week\’s podcast, we introduce the Grossinator, discuss the greatest guitar solos of all time, and review Milwaukee soul band Kings Go Forth\’s new album \”The Outsiders are Back.\”

Listen here:


Or download directly here.

Other links referenced in the podcast:

Here\’s what is on George W. Bush\’s iPod, circa 2005.

Here\’s a YouTube demonstration of the Grossinator.

Here\’s a video for \”One Day\” by Kings Go Forth:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

WPRI Column: How Eric Davis Can Save America

My latest column is up over at the WPRI website.  It discusses what lessons the markets can learn from baseball card collectors.  An excerpt:

I suppose it could be argued that everything I know about markets and economics came from baseball card collecting. At age 14, I had a massive collection, complete with card value spreadsheets and the like. My card trading negotiations with my friends likely resembled the Iranian hostage negotiations. They often dragged on for days, and involved insults, flattery, and every other negotiating tactic one can invoke. Thank God I hadn\’t heard of waterboarding.

I bought Mike Greenwell rookie cards in the way Warren Buffett snatches up undervalued stocks. I tucked them all away, waiting for them to appreciate in value, as they almost certainly had to. When I finally took a class in college on investing in stocks, I just said “ooooh, it’s just like baseball cards.” Only a little less cutthroat.

Read it here.

My Trip to the Wisconsin Tea Party

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This is Why Brandon Jennings is the Best

Long story short: A few months ago, I wrote a jokey post for the now-defunct SportsBubbler site, in which I urged the Bucks\’ Brandon Jennings to stop tweeting.  Not so much because I wasn\’t dying to know what race of women he prefers to date, but because I didn’t want him to get himself suspended.  (Two days after I wrote the column, Jennings was fined by the NBA for tweeting too close to the end of the game.  Total BS, if you ask me.)

That column led to me exchanging some e-mails with writer Davy Rothbart, who was working on a story about Jennings for GQ Magazine.  He wanted to know if I had any background info on Jennings, or questions I would ask him for the story.  I unloaded a bunch of stuff to him, as I think Jennings is one of the rare athletes who will actually tell you what he thinks.

After publication of the GQ story, I got a care package from Rothbart.  Inside it was a note from Jennings.  Here it is:


Of course, this is awesome on so many levels.  It’s clear he saw my column about his proclivity for ribald tweeting, but didn’t take it as me being critical of him.  And it appears he also has a sense of humor about the whole thing.  And finally, anyone who incorporates dollar signs into their own nickname is on another level.

So this will forever go on the memorabilia wall.  Many thanks to Davy Rothbart for getting Brandon to sign it.  And I hope that for the sake of everyone’s entertainment, Brandon never stops twitting.

The Diary of a 6-Year Old Madman

hawaiiOver the weekend, I was rooting around in some old junk in the basement, and came upon a journal I kept when I was six years old.  (Don\’t ask why a first grader would keep a daily journal – clearly, I had a lot on my mind.  Although it figures that I would be a blogger well before anyone had a computer.)

At the time, I was living in Hawaii while my dad was stationed there for military duty.  The entries begin in March of 1980 and run until May of that year, when we moved to Virginia.  Interspersed between scribbled pictures of Star Wars, Star Trek, and King Kong were timeless passages like these: (click on them to make them bigger)

On April 8 of 1980, I touch on something that would be a theme in my life for the next couple of decades:


Notice that I never said I actually caught any of these girls that I was trying to kiss.  And that I denied it until the bitter end.  Six year old pimpin’ ain’t easy.

Earlier in April, I discussed seeing a movie called “The Wax Museum,”  – I think I was referring to the 1973 movie “Terror in the Wax Museum.”  I still kind of vaguely remember seeing it.


Blek blek blood!

Also in April (date unknown), I tell what must have been the first joke I ever wrote down:


On April 15, I returned to the subject of chasing girls at recess.  At this point, I had recruited my own little gang (called \”The Braves\” to help me. We even had our own cheer.)


Clearly, to be a member of The Braves, you also had to be able to draw the U.S.S. Enterprise from Star Trek.

Finally, in this one, I tell the tragic story of what happened when someone stole my lei. (Remember, we were in Hawaii:)


That’s right, James – I’m still looking for you.  Thirty years of revenge is about to be exacted on your “guts,” my friend.  All for stealing a flower necklace that was likely purchased for fifty cents.  You better hope I never find out what your last name was.

And there’s a lot more.  I recognize this is all self-indulgent, but it’s amazing to catch a small glimpse at was rattling around your brain at six years old.  It gives you just a little portal into who you were when you think you were someone else completely.

Here’s the website of the school I attended.  Go Cougars!

Wisconsin: Fighter of Bad Federal Laws

My new commentary is up over at the mothership; it attempts to draw a parallel between Congressman Paul Ryan\’s attempts to repeal the new health care law with former Wisconsin Senator John J. Blaine\’s successful attempts to repeal prohibition in 1932. (Although, as the last paragraph points out, prohibition prevented individuals from doing something they wanted to do – drink – while the current health care bill forces many people to do something they don\’t want to do – purchase health insurance.)

In my research for the piece, I ran across an awesome old Milwaukee Sentinel column from 1932 by a man named Gunnar Mickelsen, who vigorously defended the benefits of drinking. And it may not even fit in well with my column, but it was too awesome to leave out. I couldn\’t help myself. Here\’s his logic for why drinking is necessary to society:

\”Now, it is our theory that Milwaukee was happy because it talked. The urge to hold conversation, to communicate ideas and experiences is one of man\’s major motivations. It is behind most of his endeavors and his works. Deprive him of the privilege to talk and you rob him in no small measure of his ambition to do.

What use are actions if he can\’t talk about them later? The man\’s ego who is satisfied at the mere doing, without telling others or hearing their praise or criticism, is a rare fellow. The happiest persons are those who have something to say, know how to say it, and are given the opportunity to do so.

Beer and wine make for conversation. There is in liquors of mild alcoholic persuasion that which quickens the flow of the thoughts in a man\’s cranium, loosens a notch the belt about his reticence, and releases upon his tongue the fruits of his meditations. It is for precisely this reason that men have resorted to alcoholic drinks as a means to make their companionship more vivid and happy.\”

There you have it – people only do important things so they can brag to friends about them. And liquor makes people talk more. Ergo, without alcohol, nobody would really do anything, since they wouldn\’t be able to boast about what they did. Simple as that.

I, personally, think it\’s air-tight. In fact, I had a couple beers just now, so I could brag to you about my column. Only reason I wrote it, really.

Band of the Week Podcast: Heligoats

On this week\’s podcast, we discuss why I paid $100 to see Simon and Garfunkel, whether \”road etiquette\” for bands exists, and we review the outstanding new album \”Goodness Gracious\” from the Heligoats.

Listen here:


Or download directly here.

As it so happens, the Heligoats played a show in Madison last week, and I was on hand to film it.  It\’s pretty dark (it was a coffee shop after all), but I think it turned out okay.  Here\’s \”Fish Sticks.\”

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More Truth in Labeling

I was taking my kids to school this morning, and I noticed the car in front of me had “4WD” emblazoned on the back.  And I got to wondering – what difference does it make to me whether that guy’s car is 4 wheel drive or 2 wheel drive?  What would be the purpose of announcing to the world how many wheels are functioning on your car?  Isn’t that really a personal issue between the driver and his automobile?

Come to think of it, I’ve seen other outward declarations of engine capacity.  Aren’t there some cars that actually tell you how many cylinders they have in their engine? (V8? V12?  I don’t even know the lingo.)  Or that they have anti-lock braking systems?  I propose that car companies start putting things like “REALLY GOOD AIR CONDITIONER” on the back bumper of their cars.  Or “EXTRA LARGE CHANGE CUP,” just to make all the other drivers feel insecure.

While it’s slightly annoying in the car world, this could actually work in the people world.  Wouldn’t it be quicker to judge people if they just wore clothes that told us what they thought their most impressive quality was?  People could wear t-shirts that say things like “CAN BENCH PRESS 250 POUNDS” or “SCORED 1200 ON MY SATs.”  Not only would it provide an important fact about that person, but it would also highlight what they think is most important about them.

When you go out with a girl, she can wear a shirt that says “NOT UNTIL THE THIRD DATE.”  Guys can wear a sweatshirt that says “THERE’S A REALLY GOOD CHANCE I’M ON DRUGS RIGHT NOW.”  It takes all the guesswork out of interpersonal relationships – a true time saver.

Cash donations accepted.

Your Self-Defense Tip of the Day

I honestly thought my Dad would be the last person to catch on to the internet.  He is your prototypical late adapter – he drove our family van (purchased 1985) until about three years ago – it got so bad, he had to start the ignition with a flat head screwdriver he kept in the glove compartment. (That is not a joke.)  I’m pretty sure for the last four years, it only had three wheels. (That was kind of a  joke.)

Anyway, much as we take away driver\’s licenses from the elderly who can’t drive, I propose revoking internet privileges from old people that think they need to forward on EVERY piece of junk mail they get.  Every day, I get a new chain e-mail from my Dad – obviously, none of them say “Send this to 10 people and your son won’t despise you.”  Because he does, and I do.  (Okay, not really.)

I thought the one he sent me yesterday about the inventor of the Tootsie Roll was the last straw.  But then, he passed along a new “hot tip” for personal safety. (My safety tip for him would be to stop sending me this junk, so I don’t smack him in the head next time I see him.)

This new tip goes as follows: If you don’t feel like carrying a gun, and if you can’t get your hands on pepper spray, then you should carry the next best thing – WASP SPRAY.  To quote directly from the e-mail:

The wasp spray, they told her, can shoot up to twenty feet away and is a lot more accurate, while with the pepper spray, they have to get too close to you and could overpower you. The wasp spray temporarily blinds an attacker until they get to the hospital for an antidote.

(SIDE NOTE: An “antidote?”  Doesn’t this only work if you’re being attacked by Lex Luthor?)

So you heard it here first – carry around a can of wasp spray if you want to avoid being attacked by sexual predators.  And wasps.

One small thing, though – aren’t those cans of wasp spray pretty big?  How am I supposed to stick a giant can of insect spray in my pants without getting some kind of indecency ticket?  If you have to carry around something that big, you might as well just put your own sexual predator in your pocket, so he can molest the other sexual predator before he gets to you.

A final point – each city should have at least one store that carries all the products that people still think are legal, but have for some reason been banned for no good reason.  It’ll be a giant store of pepper spray, laser pointers, and plug-in hot pots.  (Each of which I have tried to buy in the past year, remembering they were once commonly accepted, only to be told they are not sold anymore.)  Soon, tube-shaped sausages will be on the list.  And once people start spraying wasp killer in each others’ faces, Raid will be on the shelves at the contraband store, too.  I give it until 2013, tops.

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