Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Specialest?

The relationship between professional athletes and their fans has changed a great deal over the decades. As recently as forty years ago, and maybe more recently in some cases, it was not at all uncommon for Philadelphia Eagles players to work off-season jobs in the Philly area. They'd sell cars, or construction equipment, or men's wear, to varying degrees of success, and the companies they worked for would relish the clientele the  hired fame brought through the doors. And in the process, the players were all the more integrated into the community that rooted for them so ardently on Fall and Winter Sundays.

It's unnecessary to speak at length to what the team, and its successes and failures, meant to the Eagles fan base. Suffice to say, hundreds of thousands of avid fanatics based the outlook of their Monday mornings on what the Eagles did the day before. But by Tuesday, those same fans were wiping the slate clean and looking forward to the next game with at least a glimmer of hope, chatting optimistically about the ways to come out on top this time, even if in the next breath they were deriding coaches like Joe Kuharich and Ed Khayat, or quarterbacks like Pete Liske and and Johns Reaves.

But there's a big difference today. How many players, right down to the 53rd man on the roster, are working second jobs in the Philadelphia area? Sure, you see them on ads city-wide, and for the biggest stars, nationally. And yes, there's a great deal of community involvement through various organizations, but even that is a small drop in time, as the players today have to work well past a forty hour week year round in order to stay in condition and remain mentally and emotionally prepared for the coming season.

The fact is, it can at times be pretty tough for Average Joe Philly to relate personally to a multi-millionaire just because he's wearing an Eagles jersey. Often, because of the money they make, the players are under an intensely invasive microscope, with the fans critiquing every play, and often to the negative, made worse by the perception that someone pulling down that kind of scratch shouldn't be making those kinds of mistakes. We cheer with reckless abandon their successes, but we revile them for their failures. We've always taken poor performances personally, but it's at a new level today, because how dare Moneybags blow that coverage or fail to haul in that pass?

So here's my point, and this is in no way a dig at those fans who celebrated so deliriously in 1960, or suffered ignominiously through some of the worst seasons the NFL has offered over the last fifty-odd years: This Eagles team is at least as special to the fans, and maybe more so, as any in the past. The players have to be the kind of people we want to root for, 24/7, because the media doesn't miss a thing anymore. In fact, they have to be the men both on and off the field that, despite their hefty pay days, can still inspire a relationship with fans from a wide but bottom-heavy socio-economic spectrum. Yes, the coaching staff has a role in the overall image, but in the end, it's all about the players.

I don't know if Carson Wentz sees the Eagles and the fans as anything more than a splendid payday waiting to happen. I'm not sure if Fletcher Cox cares one whit about Philadelphia beyond his role on the football team. I can't say if Malcom Jenkins is truly and deeply invested in the city and its football fans. But even if they don't (which I highly doubt) they've done a fabulous job of making us all believe they are as fully sold on us as we are on them.

I believe they care as much as we do. And I believe that at least the majority of them understand what this game means to the fans and the city. And they are thankful and happy to have us along for the ride. They have to work harder than ever to keep us dedicated and rabid. They've done that.

For that reason- and the old timers can shoot me if they must- this just might be the most special team this city  has seen since Super Bowl became a thing.  Win or lose, they've captured our hearts.

But if they want to own those hearts forever?


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Stop. Just, stop.

There's a disturbing trend in our country, one that thankfully exposes much hypocrisy, but also shamefully highlights at least as much ignorance and bigotry. It's the increasingly more common fact that so many American citizens profess to revere and stand by the U.S. Constitution, while using it as so much toilet paper whenever it clearly dictates against personal preference, or when it's interpreted by the highest court in the land, The Supreme Court of the U.S., to say something that gets one's panties in a sweaty bunch.

  I'm going to spare you an in-depth analysis of the myriad topics and rulings that have, over the last several months, resulted in this post. Instead, I'm just going to make some points, as briefly as my admittedly excessive verbosity will allow, and then step away from the keyboard:

  1) If you think a state government should fly, or if you choose to fly, a flag that has come to represent a cadre of states that openly and violently committed treason in order to maintain the status quo regarding the ownership of and commerce in human beings utilized to perform uncompensated labor under dire conditions of imprisonment and torture, you love neither the Constitution nor the United States of America.
  2) If you feel that your religious beliefs should be used as any sort of template for public education, civil rights laws, or election funding, you are operating under a gross misinterpretation of at least a very crucial part of the U.S. Constitution.
  3) If you believe that "freedom of speech" means that you are permitted to say anything you damned well please, no matter the lack of veracity or irrationality of said speech, and that having done so, no private person or business can do anything to hold you accountable, via restriction of interaction or criticism, for what you've said, then once again, there's an important part of the Constitution you simply do not grasp, and you'd be well served to consult someone who does understand so that they can explain it to you, thereby having yourself set at least somewhat straighter.

  So please, if only for as long as this post sticks in your memory, stop with the fallacious cries of censorship, restriction of rights, reverse-racism, persecution, or whatever other imagined crimes your pathetic little martyr complex has you feeling victim to at the moment. You're wrong, and you're whining more than an adult should.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Governor Christie Under Investigation?


If not now, when?

That’s what many people are wondering in the face of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s continued refusals to announce himself a 2012 Presidential candidate.

Granted, his approval ratings in-state are inching steadily downward, no doubt a result of NJ residents’ intimacy with his various lies and hypocrisies. But nationally, he could find himself at the top of a heap of thin, deeply flawed GOP candidates. And even in the scathing glare of the national spotlight, Christie could take a page from Palin’s playbook and simply lie, lie, and lie again until he got the necessary number of fools and sheep to believe him.

So why has he not declared?

Well, perhaps there’s something going on, behind the scenes, that would not survive such invasive scrutiny.

It seems there are rumors afloat all about Trenton, as well as various other satellite dens of power, that there is an investigation afoot. These rumors speak of federal involvement, targeting Christie, and others.

Now, the charges rumored to be investigated number as many as the rumors themselves. Likewise, other parties rumored to be in play are varied and plentiful.

Granted, these are just rumors at this point, but would Christie likely decide to run for president if they were true? The answer to that would be a resounding no. He could survive his deceptions and misdeeds if he said and did just the right things. But a federal investigation- for anything, really- would torpedo his candidacy instantly and render him damaged goods for the future as well.

Oh, and did I mention these are just rumors?

But there’s something for all of us to think about. Yes, there are rumors now, and that’s all they are at this point. Either there is an investigation ramping up, or there isn’t. But none of us know one way or the other, not yet anyway.

So there are just rumors. And so often, rumors end up being so much hot air.

But then there are the rumors that accurately presage the future.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Be Sure to Insure


Auto insurance is a fact of life in our country. Currently, only one state does not require some form or another of insurance for automobiles, New Hampshire, and they require insurance in cases of some past infractions. As well, a resident will have driving privileges revoked in the event of an accident that involves uncompensated costs. Wisconsin requires either insurance, a $60,000 deposit with the DOT, or a bond filed with the same department. California follows a similar procedure, with the deposit or bond amount at $30,000.

And why is insurance mandated? It’s pretty simple, really. It’s to eliminate unpaid costs that would eventually be passed on to the taxpayers, via state and federal funds supplied by taxes, as well as state and federal fees and surcharges.

Strangely, or not, the Teabaggers and other self-appointed conservative enforcers have little to say about this form of mandated insurance. Perhaps the fact that the insurance saves billions of dollars in uncompensated costs has something to do with the silence.

And yet, they can’t seem to follow the same sort of logic when it comes to mandated healthcare.

Uninsured medical costs topped $200 billion last year, and have been over $100 billion since 2000. Of those costs, fully a third are ultimately uncompensated. The primary source of funding for those uncompensated costs are the federal, state, and local governments, or more accurately, the taxpayers. This pays 85% of the payment shortfall, to the tune of over $56 billion dollars last year.

And of course what cannot be calculated monetarily is the insufficient or nonexistent care for those who carry no insurance and either get subpar treatment, or forego it altogether.

So maybe it’s not about the money. Maybe it’s about who proposes the healthcare plan. After all, Mitt Romney got it through in Massachusetts, and contrary to what many talking heads insist, the plan actually has worked quite well. But then, Romney looks like the average ultra-con, and our President does not.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The End is Nigh!


Are you ready for some rapture?

Yes, it is being predicted, and not just by the usual evangelical lunatic fringe, that the rapture will occur this Saturday, May 21. Of course, the rapture is that special time when “the dead in Christ” will rise up out of the earth and ascend to heaven to be with god and his son. Then, shortly after the corpses have gone, those who are alive and saved will follow upward. This will leave those of us who are heathens, pagans, heretics, or generally just non-Christian , here upon the earth to suffer five months of the end times. It will be a period of hellfire and brimstone and consummate suffering, culminating with the actual end of our existence on October 21, also of this year.

This cataclysmic event is not to be confused with the Mayan doomsday scheduled for December 21, 2012. But the number 21 does seem to be significant, doesn’t it? Wonder why…

Anyway, the speciousness of the prediction aside, something like this will  break us up into three basic groups.

First, we have the True Believers, the evangelicals and devout, as well as the paranoid and panicky who are getting serious now with this impending End. They’ve bought into the scenario, and are going to spend Saturday waiting to be swept up into the sky. Though, only after the billions who are already dead make their ethereal trip, of course. I don’t know how they’ll spend their days. Maybe there will be church gatherings and Bible readings and euphoric celebrations. But they will be chaste and orderly.

Second, we have those who believe but just don’t care. As well, there will be a few non-believers who use this as an excuse to act out. The bottom line is, this group will become disorderly, riotous, larcenous, violent, and generally felonious. They will see themselves as unsaved, unworthy, and as usual, untouched by earthly guidelines of good sense and good taste. And they figure if they’re going to hell, why not get their money’s worth before the journey? Thank fully, we can expect this segment to be a distinct minority.

Third, we have those who simply do not believe but are every bit as good and decent as the most devout believer, along with those who are Christians but don’t cotton to this apocalyptic nonsense. These people will go about their business on Saturday as they would during any other weekend, happy to be free of work, seeing to chores and kids and recreation. Maybe some of those who are teetering, or strongly curious, will identify a true believer and keep an eye on them, to see if they end up going POOF and leave a vapor trail heading into the sky. But overall, they will live their lives, obey the law, be honest and forthright, be loving and caring, and shake their heads at all the silliness they see around them.

Into which group do you fit?


Put it like this: I’ll see you all on Sunday

Monday, May 16, 2011

Games People Play


Over two decades ago, Osama bin Laden decided he was going to take down the Great Satan, aka, The United States. Despite what is in retrospect some pretty inept security, it took him and Al Qaeda until September 11, 2001 to make the big splash they’d been working toward. His goals were based on some central tenets: he needed to morally confuse and befuddle America, he had to bankrupt the American economy, and he wanted to diminish America in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Now that bin Laden has taken  a bullet to the eye courtesy of Navy Seal Team Six, it’s become popular to sit back and gloat about how America has won it’s personal battle with ObL. You just know he died scared, wishing for a few more moments before his brain was turned into a gray and red slurry, don’t you?  But things aren’t really as rosy as all that. And while bin Laden certainly cannot take credit for all our continuing ills, they’re no less real for that fact.

Consider the moral aspect.

While I am not judging, America greeted the demise of bin Laden as though Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck just exploded a world-killing meteor. We displayed a bloodlust, perhaps justifiably, but one that parallels that shown by many of the fanatics who oppose us so vehemently. Fat talking-heads gripe that Obama won’t show pictures of bin Laden postmortem, then complain that talking about his porn stash compromises national security. Senators decry a president’s adulterous inclinations just hours after getting oral sex in the back of their cars from mistresses. And even the most religiously zealous among us go blind to the WWJD billboards and cheer torture, revenge killings, and covert assassinations.

Now look at the economy.

We were already on a careening  crash-track before bin Laden ever signed off on the 9/11 attacks. Unfettered, and unregulated, greed on Wall Street led to exotic mortgage instruments and a runaway real estate bubble that doomed the economy the day the first NINJA loan was funded. We deemed many companies “too big to fail” and handed them billions of dollars to stay afloat. We sank over $3 trillion into a “war” in Iraq that was misguided, based as much on a son’s attempt to validate his daddy’s past aggressions as it was on a desire to strike back at an Axis of Evil. We continue to bankroll a similar debacle in Afghanistan, the mountainous Killer Of Empires. And we’ve forked over more than $11 billion to Pakistan alone in the name of fighting terrorism. Pakistan, of course, has done little toward that end, in fact harboring bin Laden for several years, and has instead used the billions to build hundreds of nuclear warheads to likely one day strike at India, bringing on a very real slice of Armageddon. Oh, and to keep things interesting, we continue to subsidize oil companies with billions as they record record revenue and profits perfectly well on their own.

And how do we look to the rest of the world?

This is certainly subjective. We will always have our fans, and our detractors. For every England, there’s a France (Ungrateful bastards, right?), and so on. More importantly, though, how do we compare with the rest of the world? Well, we hold our own in racism, but that could be considered subjective as well. So let’s consider metrics such as life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy, and math comprehension. We crack the top ten in one of those, life expectancy, and fall woefully short in the others. Infant mortality comes as little real surprise, as we’ve never given much more than lip service to those not yet of voting age. But it still speaks pretty poorly of us. And the other two, based on our obscene failures in education, result from two fundamental miscalculations. First, we can’t seem to understand that it is possible to correlate one fewer $4o0 ball peen hammers bought by the Pentagon to ten additional textbooks given to our schools. Second, in the wake of leaving our economy in the hands of those who had the highest incentive to abuse it, we’ve decided to make public services, including education, the illogical scapegoats, gutting funding and guaranteeing that we won’t be reading or adding numbers any more effectively in the near future.

American companies hire almost 80% of their technical professionals from other countries because, in the words of one staffing chief, “they’re smarter.” Since 2001, we’ve increased the anti-terrorism bureaucracy to the tune of three whole Pentagons worth of new office space.  And we kill, abuse, marginalize, and hate people different than us, all while holding some holy book that, at least in some parts, tells us that’s exactly what we shouldn’t do. And as one final stake in the heart, Conan The Barbarian is divorcing his Kennedy squeeze.

So no question, there’s no way you could say bin Laden was a winner in the end. But pending further review, it’s not clear what we’re winning, either.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Liar, Bully, Hypocrite…What Else?


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is many things, most of which, it seems, aren’t especially admirable.

He said he was in touch while in Florida during last December’s snowstorm. He said public-sector unions regularly pressure the state legislature for things they fail to win through contract negotiations. He professed to be a Trenton “outsider.” He attempted to explain why the state lost out on $400 million in federal education funds. He claimed to balance the state budget without raising taxes.  And in every case, he was less than truthful. So Christie is a liar.

When presented with his blatant falsehoods, he and his likeminded staff bombastically cry foul, claiming hidden agendas, hair-splitting, and misrepresentation. He attempts to demonize police officers, firefighters, and teachers to all who will listen. So Christie is a bully.

During his campaign to become governor, and early in his term, he berated past officeholders for shortsightedly mortgaging the state’s future by borrowing so far down the line. Since then, he’s floated over $10 billion in longterm bonds, all set to come due after his term will be completed, and some due even after a possible second term (shudder!) is past. So Christie is a hypocrite.

So what’s next? Well, recently Christie was asked about his views on evolution and creationism. His response boiled down to “It’s none of your business.” Well, I beg to differ.

The governor has the ability to present a bill to the state legislature. It generally carries considerable weight, and with a sympathetic legislature, can be pushed through rather quickly. And therein lies a very real and frightening problem.

Just look what the neo-neanderthal Bobby Jindal has done in Louisiana with a bill that allows teachers to teach creationism in science class. Elsewhere, in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Kentucky, along with other states, loosely-veiled policies allegedly allowing free discourse on the subject instead permit creationism to be presented as science.

Let’s understand this first. Evolution is science. It is a theory, just like gravity, and only the misunderstanding or deliberate ignorance of the definition of a scientific theory can attempt to render it as less than fact. And in some ways, we understand evolution more clearly than gravity, Yet, who is questioning the veracity of gravity?

We’ve conjured up countless equations that will accurately predict the effects of gravity, but we still can’t say exactly what it is. Is it some sort of magnetism, or curvatures in space time, or invisible rubber bands, all acting in step with our mathematical proofs? On the other hand, we’ve identified many of the drivers behind and influences on evolution. From top to bottom, there are fewer gaps in our knowledge of evolution. So why aren’t more “believers” trying to cram a god into the gaps in gravity theory?

Now it’s time to circle back around. Evolution is science. Creationism is mythology. Evolution is to be taught in science class. Creationism is not, no more than civics or English Lit or any other subject should, or should not, be. Heck, you can start a class on world religions or mythology or theological philosophy, and talk about creationism till the cows come home, but at no time should it be elevated to the status of science. And science class is no place to point to the gaps in the total understanding of evolution and shout “Goddidit!”

So, Christie, when someone asks you your views on evolution and creationism, it is our business. You have the power to earnestly attempt to thrust New Jersey back into an anti-intellectual Dark Age. Teabaggers and other ultra-con neo-fascists would certainly love such an attack on reason, logic, and rational thought, but this is New Jersey, not Louisiana or Texas. So come clean and either relieve those of us who actually think, or give face to one of our basest fears.

You’re already a Liar, Bully, and Hypocrite. Now enquiring minds want to know: Are you a Moron as well?