Archive | October, 2012

Do the Right Thing

27 Oct

                                                      Coaches and Rules

We all like to kid coaches and gym teachers for perhaps having what (on the outside) appears to many to be a fun, simple and stress free job but my favorite educational thinker and philosopher of all time was my youngest son’s 9th grade gym teacher. My wife and I were attending back to school night and “Coach” as he was affectionately known was giving his annual back to school night talk to the parents.

“There are only 2 things I ask from my students, he said, and if they do these two things then we’ll get along fine. #1: Do what I say. Why? Well, because I’m the teacher and I said so. And I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t want you to do it so just do it because that’s what I said. And #2: Do the right thing. And what do I mean by that? Well, I think we all know what the right thing to do is, so let’s just do it and that’s all I ask.”

There you have it. A streamlined philosophy of life with only two simple rules to live by. It mat have been presented simply and a bit eccentrically by the beloved old coach but in essence aren’t these really the two simplest of rules that when violated by others leave us feeling angry and disappointed and frustrated with our fellow man? Think about it. It’s the basis of all strife in the world.

Rule #1: Do what I say. What the coach meant by this was that the world has rules and everyone needs to follow them. If there is a boss, a leader, and elder, an authority then you need to do what they ask when participating in the groups that they lead. Every situation or event or task in life has rules that dictate and direct certain behaviors. People need to follow and obey what these rules say in order to maintain society. But what if our leaders or society tell us to do something that is inappropriate or wrong? Well then rule #2 supersedes or takes over.

Rule #2: Do the right thing. And although the clever or shrewd lawyer in us all may say, “How am I supposed to know what the right thing is?” Don’t we all know what the right things are? Isn’t that what defines us as human beings? Isn’t that what makes us believe that we are so special among all of the creatures on the planet? We claim to know who God is and so we do know the difference between what is “right” behavior and what is “wrong” behavior. We may not always admit to it but from a very early age (certainly by the time we reach school age) we know if we are being bad or good, don’t we? It’s what we base our rule of law on. Only someone who is insane can claim a defense of, “I didn’t know right from wrong when I committed that horrible crime.”

How do we know right from wrong? How do we know what morality is? We know because all humans are innately selfish. Among the first things we learn in life is to care about ourselves and our personal well being… and as lifelong selfish individuals we know what hurts us and what makes us mad and what injustice feels like and so consequently we also know what hurts others, i.e.: the same things that hurt us!

So do we know what the right thing to do is?

Oh yes we do.

So like the coach says, Do it! Now go play!

Charter Fails, Principal Wins Big

26 Oct

Charter Fails, Principal Wins Big.

Here is one thing you can expect from the privatization of the public schools. Private money will only be used in schools if it can make private profits. If you think that big money investors are interested in altruistic causes…what are you thinking with?

Bread and Circuses

25 Oct

Usually whenever I wish to switch channels on the Television (And I admit to watching too much television) I move from channel to channel, rather than just punch in the number of the new channel I’m looking for. Anyway, that’s how I stumbled upon The Maury Povich Show and two brothers who were trying to figure out if they were the father of the little boy that one of them had been raising for two years. Of course it turned out that neither was the father and wasn’t the mother surprised! And I thought, are there really that many mothers in New York who don’t know who their baby daddy is? Enough to fill 250 shows a year for how many years now? And what is the matter with Maury Povich and how much did he get for his pride and his self respect on E-bay?

And so I switched the channel again and there was a New Jersey man holding another man at gunpoint and all of this was calmly being filmed by a network film crew while no one intervened. Then all was right with the world because this was no reality murder but rather an episode of Repo Games, where a repo-man comes to take your car away but before he does he asks you 5 questions and if you answer 3 correctly, you get to keep your car free and clear! So the man put his gun down, calmly answered all of the questions incorrectly and then went back into his house without shooting anyone…of course…that’s real.

And then came the commercials and a trailer for the next show to be featured later in the day…and that’s when I heard the words that left me shaking my head and wondering why I ever thought that television would provide a medium that would someday help the world become more educated, tolerant and sophisticated. The words came from a woman who was the guest on another reality show called Ink Master and here’s what she said… “I’m getting a phoenix shooting fire out of my Vagina!” Say what? And you want to be on TV? And you are?

And all of these shows are real aren’t they? Because after all it’s called reality TV isn’t it? And everything on TV these days is the truth. After all they say it is and repeat it over and over and over but…Is any of it? Anywhere?

And of all the TV shows Mr Romney wants to cut from television, should he be elected president, he chooses Sesame Street and the entire PBS lineup? And he smiles at America and the world and is proud of himself for saying it. I’m sorry Big Bird. I love ya but you have to go. America can’t pay for your nonsense anymore. It just costs too much and government has no place being involved with public television. Let the private sector handle it. The private sector knows best. And you too Jim Lehrer…I like you too but we have the fair and balanced Fox news channel so once again private enterprise proves their superiority over anything the government can provide.

And I think…How did we invent this wonderful, magical, technological marvel whereby we can beam sounds and pictures instantaneously from one place to another and to billions of people around the world and this is the best that we can do with it? This is the only thing that we can do with it? Entertain one another? Laugh at people who don’t pay their bills, can’t remember who procreated their children, hold others at gunpoint and want flames to shoot from their vaginas? And on 300 different channels?  And those could easily be stories that you see reported on the so called legitimate NEWS too, for crying out loud.

Where’s the instruction? Where’s the information? Where are the arts, technology and creativity that distinguish human kind from the other creatures of our planet? Where’s the humanity?

If it’s anywhere, it’s on PBS. It’s brought to you and in part made possible by our government who at least still has one feeble grip left on beaming some sanity and sense into the world.

Please America, whiles there’s still time, do not let the few remaining particles of intelligence that can escape our planet and reach out into the universe as a beacon of evidence of life well lived perish from the face of the Earth!

Vote for Big Bird! Vote for truth, justice and public television. If you don’t, and you leave it up to the private sector then where will you turn to on your dial for any of those things?

Please don’t leave us with just Honey Boo Boo and…bread…and circuses.

We all Pledgeafallegiance!

24 Oct

Just another side note on Monday’s debate.

Must all candidates wear an American flag pin now? Always? Is that the only way to let all of us Americans out there know that they’re Americans too?

I remember a big to-do on the internet over a picture that showed President Obama without his American flag pin on…gasp! He doesn’t love America…how could he? Where’s the pin?

Have we become that shallow in this country? Or that needy?

Did anyone else notice that Mr. Romney’s pin was bigger than President Obama’s?

Do I sense an escalation in the war on flag pin size???

Couldn’t we just ask all presidential candidates and all presidents from now on to always dress like either     Evel Knievel or Wonder Woman so we could be absolutely, positively, definitely, without a doubt, 100% sure that they love America? Because otherwise, I mean, how are we gonna know? Really?

Education in Last Night’s Debate

23 Oct

Education in Last Night’s Debate.

Earrings and Killer Robots

23 Oct

I was switching back and forth between the debates and the Monday Night Football Game…what can I say, I’m an American…and while I’m watching the game (the one with the football) One of the players takes off his helmet and I notice that he is wearing 2 giant sized diamond earrings! (How could I miss them?) Really? Earrings in football? There’s no earrings in football!

That got me thinking about the pregame in the locker room…

“Hey Bro, how do I look in these earrings? Do they match what I’m wearing?”

“Yeah you look great sweetie, now let’s go kick some ass!”

Then I switch over to the debate (the one with the presidential candidates) and finally the two rivals are in agreement on something. Is it peace on earth and good will to men? No! The one thing they’re both in favor of is more unmanned drones!

I know you’re all gonna say that I’m just getting too old, and I know it’s no use in longing to go back to a kinder and gentler time (The stone age!) or anywhere again for that matter, but I really do miss the days when a coach could say to a professional ball player (And politely I might add) “Hey big fella, Might I suggest that we leave the jewelry in the locker room until after the game? You know it’s just a thought on safety…not to mention, oh… fashion sense!

And I long for a time when two men who were vying for leadership of the free world might agree on “Strength and readiness and more protection for our citizens and oh… saying something like …might for right! …  but never …            We need more killer robots!”

Killer robots and fashionable ear wear for football players. Really?!

If I were younger would these be good things?


22 Oct

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.
         -Abraham Lincoln

Two politicians are about to debate when one looks at the other and says. “Everything you are about to say is going to be a lie!” I know, replies the second politician, But hear me out!”

Is there anyone out there who isn’t tired of politicians who refuse to answer questions honestly? Who even in the face of questions that we already know the answers to refuse to acknowledge those truths and instead change the subject or answer some other question that was never asked? Are we tired of moderators who won’t object when answers to the questions asked aren’t forthcoming? Or of audiences who won’t at least raise a vocal objection when politicians deliberately avoid answering questions simply and honestly. Why do we politely sit by when those who are running for important government offices (And aren’t they all important?) refuse to address us with candor and honesty? What else do we need to hear? Who are they to demand decorum from us? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? After all are they not the applicants for the job?

We must demand virtue and integrity and honesty and above all gravitas from our political aspirants!

We should shout them all down with a steady roar of Gravitas! Gravitas! Gravitas! Until our questions are answered and they behave with the seriousness of purpose and intent that all of our government offices deserve.

We live in a time and place and with the speed of technology that can easily fact check every speaker who opens his mouth in front of an audience. Why don’t we at least do that? Accompanying every moderator or audience who asks questions of a politician should be fact checkers wired to the internet who can immediately account for the truthfulness of any statement.

Instead we wait for the “debates” or meetings to end so we can listen to the ramblings and obfuscations of this network or that which have in reality already aligned with one candidate or another and have no more integrity or seriousness than a Saturday night sitcom.

Where is the Gravitas? Where is the seriousness of purpose? Are these not our fortunes, our lives and our sacred honor that we are placing in their hands?

“We cannot afford to differ on the question of honesty if we expect our republic permanently to endure. Honesty is not so much a credit as an absolute prerequisite to efficient service to the public. Unless a man is honest, we have no right to keep him in public life; it matters not how brilliant his capacity.”

Theodore Roosevelt

…And I might add…he or she has no right to remain there!

The Mighty Casey has…

19 Oct

While I was watching the New York Yankees fold to the Detroit Tigers last night for some reason my mind turned to the problems we face with drugs here in America. Why you ask? Probably because I had just watched A-Rod strike out 10 out of 11 times at bat (or close to that) and he was one of the most famously known and notorious PED (performance enhancing drugs) users in Major League Baseball! Selfishly, since I’m a Yankee fan, my first thought was why has he stopped using them?! Then I thought, who is still using them? Since there are over 100 known PED users on a list being kept secret by Major League Baseball, I felt this was a valid thought. After all none of my Yankees could hit the ball any more. They couldn’t be using drugs! Perhaps Detroit players are? After all, they’re clobbering us! Have you seen their pitching? My god, they all look like Bob Gibson. Get the tests!

Then I thought…Why does Major League Baseball test each player in the spring and then again randomly over the course of each season? Isn’t that a waste of time and money? Why not just test excellent (and aberrant) performers? Wouldn’t this make more sense? “Hey, nice homerun there big fella! You hit that ball so hard it almost left the stadium! Here’s a high five and a cup to pee in. Now hit the urinals!”

Then I thought…Gee, if A-rod had fired up a joint there in the dugout to help him relax and forget his troubles while being benched in front of America for his obviously poor and non drug related performance, he would have been arrested and taken to jail. Using a performance enhancing drug would only get him a suspension from baseball. He’d see no jail time, get to keep his millions and probably a trip to the hall of fame. That’s weird isn’t it?

Then I wondered just how many people are in jail for using marijuana. (The game was all but over so what can I say? My mind was wandering)

Anyway…I went to the computer and googled the DOJ and discovered that: In 2007 the Department of Justice reportedthat there were 1,841,182 drug arrests in the United States; And that there were more drug abuse arrests than any other category of offenses. Marijuana arrests accounted for 47.4% of the drug abuse arrests. That means about 872,720 persons were arrested for marijuana offenses. Eighty-nine percent of these arrests were for possession.

That led me to think…Who are all of these people that they are arresting for marijuana use?

And why is there anyone on a college campus today who isn’t in jail?!

Then someone popped out and the game was mercifully over…but then a commercial came on and the spokesperson was hawking testosterone and explaining how any man over 30 needed more of it! And this was on national television! And testosterone is one of the banned performance enhancing drugs that will get you suspended from baseball! In fact Melky Cabrera who led the National League in hitting just returned from his suspension for using it!

Then the game returned to my TV set and there were the Detroit Tigers celebrating in their locker room by pouring champagne over their heads and into their mouths from time to time and I thought…

Wouldn’t the Detroit Tigers’ parking lot be a great place for a DUI checkpoint? Quick somebody notify the police but I doubt anyone will get in trouble in Tiger town tonight…

So be careful out there America! We have a strict drug policy in this country but I have absolutely no idea what it is. Just like the Mighty Casey, and A-Rod, I guess every at bat is gonna be either a hit or a miss.


18 Oct

On Choosing…

Over 200 years ago James Madison (the 4th president of the United States and one of our founding fathers) had these interesting thoughts about governance which I found to be quite relevant to our political and societal problems in 2012…

On providing a public education for all citizens:

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
“A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both.”
“A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.”
On preserving both religion and government by their separation:
“And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.
“In no instance have… the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.”

On our politicians and politics:

“All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.
“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
On our need for government oversight and regulation:
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
And finally on war:

“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”      “Armies and debts and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.”

We already have the largest army the world has ever seen, and I seriously doubt that it is going to get any smaller. We have the largest debt that the world has ever seen and I also have serious doubts that it will be getting any smaller. So do any of us really believe that are taxes will be getting smaller any time soon no matter what anyone tells us?

As far as I can see our choice is between someone who might have some shared experiences with the way most of us live and someone who has no shared experience with the way most of us live. I have to go with the lesser of two evils and hope (I’d say pray but I think President Madison was spot on about that too) that we will discover the common sense necessary to restore our common sanity.

Weird Science II

17 Oct

If you are having trouble deciding about the never ending debate over global warming perhaps you should ask nature!

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that it’s October 17th and all of the leaves are still green like it’s the middle of summer? I’m in New Jersey near the east coast of the USA and here, Autumn just ain’t what it used to be.

Maybe my memory’s going but I seem to recall piles of smoking leaves back in the 60s right around this time of year and trees with beautifully colored and falling leaves of orange, red and gold. And November was a cold month where the trees were barren and winter was on the way. Yet today I have flowers blooming and grass still growing and leaf raking is somewhere in the distant future… I guess???

It’s definitely getting warmer! I don’t know whose fault it is but perhaps the fact that there were 2.8 billion people on  the Earth when I was born and now there are over 7 billion people 57 years later and another 2 billion 30 years from now (keep your fingers crossed) might have something to do with it…

I know for you naysayers it still snows in the winter (usually) and it’s still hot in the summer (very) but is it staying warmer later where you are?…and getting warmer earlier too?…just checkin’ and just sayin’… but it seems to me that there’s no point in trying to debate… or debunk nature.

Ho Ho Ho and a bag full of leaves for Santa!

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