SOME OBSERVATIONS FROM A COASTER…

Some Observations From a Coaster….

I chose this title upon realizing that my mind seems to drift from one thing to another, with accompanying emotional ups and downs as I pass each experience through my mind’s filter. Just like on one of those giant roller coasters, although I’ve omitted any loud screaming.

There have been a few “white knuckle” moments however, especially when I try to digest the House GOP’s perspective on politics, social programs, and life in general. Take the proposed immigration legislation as an example; they apparently are afraid to provide a “path to citizenship” for the 11 million illegal immigrants, speculating that all of them will vote for the Democrats. This has some truth to it, but what they don’t consider is that if they would come up with sensible proposals and programs, perhaps they would attract many of those folks into the GOP fold. Instead, they continue to obstruct every piece of reasonable legislation, even those proposed by members of their own party, and stand as symbols of intolerance and bigotry. It’s difficult for me to remain a left-leaning Independent, but I’m thankful that the “other side” provides enough nonsense to keep me from going all the way over to that direction.

Obama

I was early on a strong supporter of Obama (and still am), and for quite a while was becoming more and more disenchanted with his apparent inability to follow through on those “ringing phrases” we heard throughout his campaigns. But I finally awoke to the fact that he has proposed well-thought-out legislation and solutions to many of the identified problems, only to have them blocked from proceeding further toward adoption by opponents hostile toward him personally, rather than the concepts themselves. In fact, some of his proposals had been eagerly put forth by those very same individuals, only to have them vote in opposition when he initiated them in the spirit of compromise.

Congress has become a joke, although one that’s not very funny. When 90% of the population is in favor of something, like universal background checks for gun ownership, and Congress votes against it, something is terribly wrong. We might as well throw in several members of the Supreme Court along with them, those stalwarts who set back Civil Rights Progress several decades, and are no doubt involved in finding more ways to restrict women’s rights to make personal decisions about their own bodies. Along with a number of GOP-controlled legislatures.

I can only hope that Obama can weather the storm for the rest of his term, and that people will return to the kind of Republicans that accomplished many significant achievements for this country. Those were people who were ruled by common sense while at the same time adhering to their underlying principles, and having the good of the country as their goal in common with their colleagues across the aisle. Our very own Alan Simpson was a prime example, and we need more like him. So many current members, including those from my state, are little more than ventriloquist dummies in parroting the so-called “platform” of their party. Which apparently has its main goal the maintenance and enhancement of Big Business at the expense of everyone else.

Islamic Radicals

I don’t understand how large numbers of members of certain religions use that religion as an excuse to kill non-believers. I already referred to Mark Twain’s perspective on this, in his short story, “Letters From the Earth”, in a previous blog. But the current clashing between two groups having similar roots, Shiite and Sunni, is completely puzzling to me. Their initial split goes back almost 1800 years, after the death of Mohammed, and continues to grow with each new assault of one group on the other. Both seem to ignore the two main functions of religion, the first the personal aspect in which the individual’s depth of faith to the Deity arises from within the person and provides solace and satisfaction only to the degree of personal commitment, and the second, the guidelines for interpersonal, societal activities that provide a format for maintaining a productive and functioning culture. Religious codes like The Ten Commandments, and secular codes like our Constitution are examples.

So far, no country in the Middle East has had an Islamic-based Constitution, in spite of being overwhelmingly Muslim. However, it appears that there are now groups wanting to go in that direction, and causing significant issues between themselves and others who want to avoid mixing religion with politics. Egypt, for example, has a long tradition of secular government in which numerous religious groups were allowed to flourish. I was struck by the consistent observation of Christian churches adjoining Islamic mosques throughout Cairo although the former only represents perhaps 10% of the population. This mutual respect was further seen in a song by Rula Zaki, popular recording artist and performer in the Middle East, which calls for continuing that respect. I hope that whatever solution is achieved through the current pain and suffering provides for all persons to not only adequately participate in government but also to receive its benefits equally. And I certainly don’t want to see the Lutherans going after the Methodists.

News

Why do the major cable “news” channels feel obligated to devote hours to a couple of courtroom broadcasts of murder trials in a faraway state? Are there really that many people who care? I was frustrated in trying to get updates of the situation in Egypt, having received emails from three of my friends in Cairo during the recent governmental changes. My friends were excited and hopeful, but there seem to have been numerous setbacks and increasing violence as events unfolded. I have great memories of my two visits there last year, and I wanted to know.

At the same time, I wanted more information about the tragic deaths of the firefighters near Prescott, Arizona, where I have friends also. But all that I could get on CNN, MSNBC and yes, even on FOX, were live broadcasts of a murder trial. For hours and hours.

I wonder if other folks share my frustration.

Sports and some rule change proposals

Golf-–I’ve never understood why it’s required to rake a bunker so that the sand is “pristine” for the next victim, that ball marks in the line of one’s putt may be repaired prior to putting, but that if your ball lands in a fairway divot made by a previous player, the ball must be played from that divot. The person who made the divot was hitting from an undamaged spot; the person following should have the same advantage. So change the rule, allow a free drop from a divot, but only a drop, not a placement. And while you’re at it, let us repair spike marks on the greens. Same logic.

Comment: I don’t think golf should be part of the Olympic Games. We already have team competitions and weekly tournaments with essentially the same cast of characters; the best golfers from countries around the world already compete against one another as much as they desire, through the various pro tours and amateur events. I would much rather see wrestling re-instated, after all, it was one of the original events.

Further Comment: As each Olympics is scheduled, cities around the world compete for the opportunity to become greatly indebted in order to build venues which, after the games, will subsequently have only limited use. Quite often, the construction phase uproots many people as whole, usually poor neighborhoods are destroyed in order provide building sites for arenas and other venues. At the same time, some entrepreneurs take advantage of the situation in order to enhance their own personal fortunes, as even occurred in the U.S. in connection with the Salt Lake City Winter Games several years ago. Any financial benefits to the locale are fleeting, if any, and primarily for the few weeks of the games.

Why not build a permanent Olympic facility in Athens, Greece, one that would be used continually as each Olympiad rolls around? Greece certainly could use the jobs required to build the complex, and the income generated continually throughout the future. With the prospect of permanency, adequate hotel and lodging facilities could be added, and used between Olympiads for tourism activity. Et cetera.

Pro football—Change to the college rule that the clock stops when a first down is made, to be restarted when the ball is readied for play. That would speed up the game, particularly in the latter part, when teams use those long times-out just to stop the clock.

Use the college rule on pass interference, a 15 yd. penalty. Currently, the pros place the ball at the spot of the foul, even though it might be 50 yds. downfield. That assumes that the receiver would have caught the ball if the foul had not occurred, which may or may not have been true. The college rule takes into account that although there was a foul and should be punished, we really don’t know if the ball would have been caught.

Basketball (all levels)—Basketball used to be a game of finesse; it has devolved into an activity of strength and speed particularly at the NBA level. I personally don’t even consider that to be basketball, having grown up in a different era. I’m concerned that this change is creeping inexorably downward to the younger players; on ESPN, Jay Bilas made a comment that college basketball is becoming more and more like pro basketball, which he referred to as “Organized Fouling”. His solution—call the fouls as the rulebook states, and we can get back to more of the finesse games of Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Wilt, Cousy, Kareem, and many of the other greats of the game who relied on agility and athletic ability rather than brute strength. That’s not to say those players weren’t strong; I distinctly recall being momentarily stunned when Mr. Chamberlain stuffed one on my head before 12,000 appreciative fans. Mr. Bilas  went on to say, and I agree, that offensive foul calls are the most egregious in either not being called or are favoring the offensive player in spite of good defensive work by the opponent. Quite simply, who initiated the contact and who had the position?

Personal Well-Being

Well, I only seem to be hindered by age factors of deterioration of the spine through the wonders of osteoarthritis. As a nerve becomes inflamed, it sends a message to one or two of the muscles in the back to go into a “knot up” mode, causing significant pain and discomfort. Investigation reveals that the cause cannot be healed, only dealing with the symptoms remains as a solution. If I play a few holes of golf, I suffer for several days thereafter. And just when I discovered that one of my sons joined a club with TWO golf courses. Life is unfair. My doctor and I are investigating other pain management options and hopefully I can become a bit more active in the athletic arena. Still not enough to get in to the Rio Olympics.

The neuropathy in my feet and legs causes some fatigue along with the loss of feeling; ascending stairs and hillsides presents a problem but I can usually achieve the summit given enough time and patience. Like three or four hours. I’ll be riding my bike when the current Global Warming Event decides to withdraw its fangs, at least for a few days or so. It’s 100 today; our summer temperatures are usually in the upper 80’s to 90.

At least I’m healthy enough to resume my traveling, and toying with either New England or Scotland in September. I have a few Wyoming school evaluations to do in October. Until then, I think I”ll stick close to home and work on the golf and fishing.

Always Be Happy      To Our Youth

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