John Kornblum, a former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, who still lives in Berlin, said, “If you cross her, you end up dead. There’s nothing cushy about her. There’s a whole list of alpha males who thought they would get her out of the way, and they’re all now in other walks of life.”
German politics was entering a new era. As the country became more “normal,” it no longer needed domineering father figures as leaders. “Merkel was lucky to live in a period when macho was in decline,’ Ulrich said. “the men didn’t notice and she did. She didn’t have to fight them—it was aikido politics.” Ulrich added, “If she knows anything, she knows her macho. She had them for her cereal.”
-After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Angela Merkel went from unknown East German scientist to the most powerful woman in the world, a rise due to equal parts analytical ability, political tactics, and patient opportunism. George Packer details the incredible evolution in The New Yorker.
It wasn’t long before breeders found that they didn’t really need riders to make money… The top bull could earn a quarter of a million dollars at a single event, and as the purses grew so did the sport’s attention to genetics. Ranchers once content to breed any bull that leaped around now turned to outcrossing and in vitro fertilization to select specific behaviors: the dropkick, the side spin, the twisting belly roll. The result was a succession of ever more powerful, more athletic, more murderous bulls. The only question was who could ride them.
The change has been especially hard on young riders. Their learning curve gets steeper every year, and there are fewer and fewer ordinary animals for them to practice on. “These kids that are eleven, twelve, thirteen years old—they’re getting on bulls that we never saw until we were pros.”
Is there a limit to how dangerous a bull can or should be? “I hope not,” he said. “Because I intend on making one that’s a whole lot ranker than we’ve had before.” He smirked. “You know the bad thing? We can’t breed cowboys. If you could figure out how to get a set of women and three or four sires that had all that heart and the other ingredients that it takes, then you could match the sires and the dams up like we do the bulls. Then maybe we’d have a great bull rider.” In the meantime, there’s only one alternative: start them young.
-Bull riding has never been a safe sport, but today, getting hurt is a matter of when, not if. Burkhard Bilger delves into what keeps kids getting back on the bull at The New Yorker.