Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

The Face of Stupidity

16.06.2011 (11:10 am) – Filed under: Sports,Stupidity ::

Want to see the poster-boy for asinine, mindless thug behavior? Look no further than this Candadian fool whose team lost game 7 of the Stanley Cup at home in Vancouver.

 

Matt Gurney, a member of the editorial board for The National Post chain of newspapers, says the entire nation was embarrassed by the riots and the international attention it has attracted.

“There’s nothing cultural about Vancouver that could explain this. It’s not a rough industrial city,” he says. “It takes a lot to provoke a Canadian so when the rest of us are looking at them and saying, ‘You people are idiots,’ they have to concede the point.”

Football as a Metaphor Starring the N.Y. Jets

21.01.2010 (8:29 pm) – Filed under: National Security,Sports ::

The irony of this week’s AFC championship game is not lost on any football fan: Had the Indianapolis Colts had the moral fiber to give a decent effort in week 15 of the NFL season, the New York Jets would be watching this week’s big game at home instead of playing in it against the Colts. Now Peyton Manning and Co. must play the most dangerous team in football. Goes to prove that you should always give 100% and play the game straight. Indy got cute and may well get screwed.

The Jets aren’t a particularly skilled team, but they are an effective one that makes the most out of what talent they have. They are also a brutal opponent that grinds down better teams while waiting for a mistake they can capitalize on. As the Bengals and Chargers discovered, they win through naked animal force, not finesse or skill.

Conversely, the Colts are everything we admire in a football team. They have a charismatic, popular quarterback who is one of the best of all-time and still at the peak of an excellent career. They score touchdowns in bunches, mostly through the air, and look like a well-oiled machine on offense, a machine that cuts through defenses like they weren’t there.

Consider that football, like ideological warfare, is a blood sport. The Colts are the United States in this analogy, their free-flowing, explosive offense akin to the competitive, complex engine of the American economy. They are, beyond a doubt, the best offensive football team to have played the game over a period of several years. Only one thing has ever been their undoing – their failure to remember that they have to defend themselves against less-skilled but equally determined opponents.

Their opposition, the green-shirted Jets, represent the forces of might-makes-right fascism. Lacking the ability to compete with their betters, the Jets will bully, beat down, and do their best to utterly brutalize the Colts in an attempt to steal what they could never win in a straight-up game.

A comparison to the problem America faced in the violent, repressive Soviet Union during the Cold War would not be amiss. No aspect of Soviet life was comparable to its equivalent in the U.S. America was socially, economically, and culturally superior in every way to Russia and her enslaved satellites. Only in the realm of military force could the Soviets compete with us and compete they did, pressing us hard for two decades before the effects of their inferior economy – the very aspect of Communist life that was supposed to set them free – made it impossible for the Russians to keep up. The death of the free world was rather narrowly averted, primarily thanks to the offensive firepower of our free market economy.

In 2010, a new sort of fascism threatens the free world in the form of Islamic terrorism. Like the Indianapolis Colts, the U.S. must defend itself vigorously against an unskilled, brutal enemy that could never defeat us in a fair fight, whether the arena is military, economic, or cultural in kind. Do we have the resolve to fight to preserve our way of life? Or will the thuggish killers who despoil their own religion wear us down in the long game of asymmetric warfare? Public opinion poll after poll suggests we lack the will to defeat such an enemy.

Scoff if you will, but demographics and determination, two very important factors in a long-term struggle, are on the side of the terrorists and those mainstream Muslims on whose tacit support they depend. Unlike the Soviets, the jihadists from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan actually believe in the vile doctrine they espouse publicly, a fact that makes them infinitely more dangerous, man for man, than the Russians ever were.

To claim victory for future generations of Americans we have to play both sides of the ball. This means fielding a strong defense in the form of a military able to match terrorists cut for cut. We also have to continue to play offense using our economy as an engine of wealth – and choice – generation. Realize that this cannot happen while taking on excessive amounts of debt by borrowing largely from our competitors and enemies. Nor can we afford expensive government programs like President Obama’s about-to-fail health care plan that sap the life from our economy. Personal freedom has always driven our success and now is no time to give in, whether to those who believe that we cannot be trusted to care for ourselves or to those who wish us harm simply because of our desire to be free of the oppression they so desperately prefer.

In football as in life the choice is clear. Go Colts!

Michael Vick to Soar with the Eagles

14.08.2009 (4:52 pm) – Filed under: Sports ::

imageAfter serving 18 months in a federal prison, Michael Vick will be suiting up for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles in less than two months.  Presumedly Vick will be acting as Donovan McNabb’s back up for the short term.  But that casting won’t last long.  Vick is too talented to play second-fiddle to the aging and erratic McNabb – barring the absence of another run-in with the law on Vick’s part.

Terms of the deal haven’t yet been disclosed, but Vick will be working for relative peanuts compared to the massive contract the Atlanta Falcons had given him before his intimate involvement in a brutal dogfighting ring was discovered.

Whether Vick can stay clean is far from a sure thing. Prior to going to prison, Vick was a lowlife punk whose athletic ability had outweighed his lack of intellect and morals.  Vick’s brother Marcus is just as bad or worse, something that could work for or against Vick in the future.  It all depends on his personal growth, an intangible of the highest order.

Did Vick learn the key lesson from his stretch in the Big House, namely that no one is untouchable or above the law, even a big-time NFL quarterback?  Time will tell.  Personally I don’t think we’ll see Vick in trouble again.

One thing is certain: Not everyone is excited to see Vick back in the NFL:

The animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wasted no time reminding people exactly what Vick had done.

“PETA and millions of decent football fans around the world are disappointed that the Eagles decided to sign a guy who hung dogs from trees. He electrocuted them with jumper cables and held them under water,” PETA spokesman Dan Shannon said.

“You have to wonder what sort of message this sends to young fans who care about animals and don’t want them to be harmed.”

The message it sends is obvious: NFL players are profit centers, not role models.  It’s all about providing value to one’s team – there is no other criteria by which an athlete can be legitimately evaluated, which is as it should be.

It’s entirely up to the Eagles ownership and management to estimate that value and weigh it against the good will that signing Vick will cost them.  And it will cost them.  But as the Dallas Cowboys and the other teams in the NFC East are about to find out, a few hurt feelings and alienated fans are chump change compared to a Super Bowl ring.

3 Cheers for NBC

24.08.2008 (7:43 pm) – Filed under: Gay Rights,Media,Sports ::

I rarely watch network televisions programs (with the notable exception of Mad Men, which is aired on AMC and so not exactly in the mainstream), so I couldn’t say one way or another whether NBC airs quality programs or not during regular prime time.

But the network deserves a round of applause for editing gold medalist diver Matthew Mitcham’s homosexuality out of their broadcast.  Thanks, NBC, for providing the information that matters and skipping the unsavory side of Mitcham’s life story.  I’m glad that someone finally realized that it’s not mandatory for every TV storyline to feature this sort of relationship as the new hip way to have sex.

Olympic Effort

20.08.2008 (4:06 pm) – Filed under: Political Correctness,Sports ::

I love the Olympics! I can’t wait for it to come again – summer or winter, I love em both. To me, the Olympic games epitomize what’s great about the American ideal: sacrifice, competition, commitment, reward. These athletes put more time in training that we do in our 9-5’s, living on a dream to become the best. They don’t give up, they work through injuries, setbacks, whatever, just to be able to compete against other athletes to see who’s best.

There is no other arena that I can think of that can at the same time show the agony of disappointment and the joy of victory. Take the 100m hurdles, for example. The pre-race favorite, Lolo Jones, hit the 2nd to last hurdle and lost the race. Watching her reaction as she crossed the finish line, one could feel the agony of what she was going through: she knew she had the race in her hand, she knew the gold was hers, and wham, she came up 2 inches short on a hurdle and it was gone. Poof! But then, Dawn Harper, who was the third USA qualifier during the Olympic trials, had a break out personal best run and finished golden. She was amazed, stunned, and just couldn’t believe it. All the work she put it, the commitment, the sacrifice, the competition, and then the reward. I love it!

How long will this last, I wonder?

More and more, competition is frowned upon as having no compassion for those that can’t compete at the same level.  In the guise of being tolerant of everyone’s feelings, we’re allowing people to strike down that which makes us all better: the desire to succeed!

Competition makes us better, it forces us to do things we otherwise would not have done in order to improve. It teaches us how to sacrifice; how to commit. If we’re all told that no one is to be better than someone else, what happens to the those ideals? They do transcend athletics, after all.

And then there’s the great evil: reward. Great effort should results in reward. Yet more and more we see less emphasis on being rewarded. We have little league teams now where everyone gets a trophy, just for participating. There are no awards for those that went the extra mile. When I was in 9th grade, I was on the freshman football team. At the end of the season, the coaches handed out letters to everyone (letters, for those of you that don’t know, go on letter jackets, and one is supposed to earn these by playing). I remember it like it was yesterday, everyone got them – even the jerk offs who didn’t try and didn’t give a damn. To me, the letter was worthless, and I never acknowledged it, even to this day.

Am I alone in this feeling? I think not, but the voices are growing more and more subdued.

Simply put, if there is no reward, there will be no effort, there will be no commitment. Without reward, one can not have competition, and there will be no success. Of course, I think that is exactly what a certain group of people want: all of us at the same level, none better than anyone else, none higher in stature. My insides just scream at this prospect, but I can’t deny the fear that it’s coming.

In the mean time, I have the Olympics to watch, and I can marvel at someone’s ability to do something so much better than I could ever hope to do.

Sports Reality for Girls

10.05.2008 (7:33 pm) – Filed under: Sports,Women's Rights ::

Michael Sokolove has a great article at the NY Times Magazine about sports injuries and the seldom-discussed fact that teenage girls are much, much more likely to both sustain major knee and head injuries than boys of the same age.  Despite the unfortunate title of "Uneven Playing Field", this article is highly recommended reading for parents and coaches of teen athletes of the female persuasion.

A study last year by researchers at Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, reported that high-school girls who play basketball suffer concussions at three times the rate of boys, and that the rate for high-school girls who play soccer is about 1.5 times the rate for boys. According to the N.C.A.A. statistics, women who play soccer suffer concussions at nearly identical rates as male football players. (The research indicates that it takes less force to cause a concussion in girls and young women, perhaps because they have smaller heads and weaker necks.)

But among all the sports injuries that afflict girls and young women, A.C.L. tears, for understandable reasons, get the most attention. No other common orthopedic injury is as debilitating and disruptive in the short term — or as likely to involve serious long-term consequences. And no other injury strikes women at such markedly higher rates or terrifies them as much.

The N.C.A.A.’s Injury Surveillance System tracks injuries suffered by athletes at its member schools, calculating the frequency of certain injuries by the number of occurrences per 1,000 “athletic exposures” — practices and games. The rate for women’s soccer is 0.25 per 1,000, or 1 in 4,000, compared with 0.10 for male soccer players. The rate for women’s basketball is 0.24, more than three times the rate of 0.07 for the men.

So imagine a hypothetical high-school soccer team of 20 girls, a fairly typical roster size, and multiply it by the conservative estimate of 200 exposures a season. The result is 4,000 exposures. In a cohort of 20 soccer-playing girls, the statistics predict that 1 each year will experience an A.C.L. injury and go through reconstructive surgery, rehabilitation and the loss of a season — an eternity for a high schooler. Over the course of four years, 4 out of the 20 girls on that team will rupture an A.C.L.

None of this is to say that girls and women can’t be great athletes.  But there are fundamental differences in the way our bodies are put together that make parenting, mentoring, and coaching girls different than boys in purely physiological terms.

The good news?  New studies indicate that proper training helps a great deal.

[Director of research at the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation Holly] Silvers, along with a Santa Monica orthopedic surgeon, Bert Mandelbaum, designed an A.C.L.-injury-prevention program that has been instituted and studied in the vast Coast Soccer League, a youth program in Southern California. Teams in a control group did their usual warm-ups before practices and games, usually light running and some stretching, if that. The others were enrolled in the foundation’s “PEP program,” a customized warm-up of stretching, strengthening and balancing exercises. An entire team can complete its 19 exercises — including side-to-side shuttle runs, backward runs and walking lunges — in 20 minutes. One goal is to strengthen abdominal muscles, which help set the whole body in protective athletic positions, and to improve balance through a series of plyometric exercises — forward, backward and lateral hops over a cone. Girls are instructed to “land softly,” or “like a spring.”

The Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation published results of its trial in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. The research was nonrandomized and therefore not the highest order of scientific research. (The coaches of teams doing the exercises made a choice to participate; the control group consisted of those who declined.) Nevertheless, the results were attention-grabbing.

The subjects were all between 14 and 18. In the 2000 soccer season, researchers calculated 37,476 athletic exposures for the PEP-trained players and 68,580 for the control group. Two girls in the trained group suffered A.C.L. ruptures that season, a rate of 0.05 per 1,000 exposures. Thirty-two girls in the control group suffered the injury — a rate of 0.47. (That was almost twice the rate for women playing N.C.A.A. soccer.) The foundation compiled numbers in the same league the following season and came up with similar results — a 74 percent reduction in A.C.L. tears among girls doing the PEP exercises.

Something to be aware of if any of the young ladies in your life are sports enthusiasts.

TAMU vs. UCLA

24.03.2008 (8:17 am) – Filed under: Sports ::

Not to be a sore loser – which I am, in truth – but there was way too much "home cooking" being dished out in the last few minutes of this 2nd round NCAA game, including the last play of the game on which no foul was called. 

Nope, nothing to see here.  Donald Sloan had just sunk a much more difficult shot on the prior possession and was plainly and egregiously hacked by two Bruin players on this one, as even a blind man can see from the pics below.

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The Houston Chronicle says:

Maybe Donald Sloan would have gotten to the foul line if he’d produced autopsy scars.

Sloan got slapped and knocked down on the way to the potential tying basket in the final seconds of the Texas A&M Aggies’ second-round NCAA Tournament game against the UCLA Bruins. The cameras don’t lie: In 49 states, what the Bruins defense did to Sloan would have constituted a mugging.

The truth is that the Aggies were in Anaheim, Calif., just down the road from the UCLA campus. The truth doesn’t set the Aggies free or send them to the next round.

Right or wrong, that’s the kind of call — or non-call — that almost invariably goes the way of the marquee team.

That’s something to dislike, not to celebrate, about sports.  Perhaps the NCAA should re-consider the notion of allowing teams to play in their home cities, for the integrity of sports, such as that is.

Football, Sport of Chumpions?

27.08.2007 (8:28 pm) – Filed under: Crime,Education,Sports ::

Is it just me or is football – the American variety, I should clarify, lest Europe be swept by another plague of soccer hooliganism because of this blog – the employer of a disproportionately large number of socially maladjusted freaks who either don’t know right from wrong or simply don’t care to acknowledge the norms that bind the behavior of the rest of us?

The NFL is, of course, the Holy Grail of football, drawing to itself the best athletic talent in the world and, all too often, some of the worst character individuals as well.

It would be easy to pick on Mike Vick right now, what with his recent conviction for participating in a dog fighting ring. However, with respect to the PETA crowd it’s hard to get overly worked up about the fate of a few dogs what with Iraq, Afghanistan, and all going on. To my knowledge Vick never harmed or threatened a fellow human. Yes, he broke the law. But the PC bloodhounds are snarling and snapping after him for their own sport, just as Vick’s fighting dogs went at each other and with a similar result.

It’s far harder to ignore the criminal shenanigans of one Mr. “Pacman” Jones who, according to the all-seeing eye of WikiPedia:

…has been arrested 5 times and questioned by police 11 times since he was drafted by the Titans in 2005. Many NFL commentators are quick to point out that Jones has more arrests than interceptions since being in the NFL.

One of the events was this little ditty:

On the morning of February 19, 2007 during the 2007 NBA All-Star Game weekend in Las Vegas, Jones is alleged to have been involved in an altercation with an exotic dancer at a local strip club. Cornell Haynes Jr. and Jones patronized the club on the evening in question. Haynes began to shower the stage with hundreds of one-dollar bills, an act known as “making it rain”. Jones then joined Haynes by throwing his own money for “visual effect”. Club promoter Chris Mitchell then directed his dancers to collect the money. According to the club’s co-owner, Jones become enraged when one of the dancers began taking the money without his permission. He allegedly grabbed her by her hair and slammed her head on the stage. A security guard intervened and scuffled with members of Jones’ entourage of half a dozen people. Jones then allegedly threatened the guard’s life. During this time Mitchell and a male associate left the club with a garbage bag filled with $81,020 of Jones’ money and two Breitling watches, which police later recovered. After club patrons exited following the original confrontation, the club owner says a person in Jones’ entourage returned with a gun and fired into a crowd, hitting three people, including the security guard involved in the earlier skirmish. The guard was shot twice, and one of the people hit, former professional wrestler Tommy Urbanski, was paralyzed from the waist down. Jones maintains that he did not know the shooter, although the club’s owner insists that Jones did.

One could go on and on listing the names of pro football players who have been in trouble with the law, including Ray Lewis and Rae Carruth, both of whom were charged with murder a few years back, but why bother? I think you get the idea, which is that for every class act like Tony Dungy or Walter Payton, or Texas’ own very cool but under-skilled David Carr, there is a Pacman Jones ticking like a time bomb waiting to explode.

The irony is, of course, that these rotten apples are paid millions to be bad-asses and strut their stuff on the field. All they have to do to live their entire lives in the kind of luxury that few people can dream of is play the game they love for a few years. But too many of them cannot learn to color between the lines during the off-season or even between games and end up like Vick, the Pacman, or worse.

As pathetic as it was watching Vick finally admit that he’s not above the law, what really bothers me about the criminal element in football is what happens at the lower levels of the game. There are only 2-3000 pro players in the U.S. at any given moment – how much trouble can they cause?

Actually quite a lot, if one considers the ripple effect of their influence.

In college football, for example, football players who have absolutely no business being on a college campus based on their academic prowess (pardon me while I choke…) are treated like demigods by their intellectual betters and fanatical sponsors alike. These players are pumped up on so much artificial self-esteem that it’s hardly surprising that so many have been guilty of criminal misconduct vis-a-vis members of the opposite sex. The classic case took place in Colorado where Gary Barnett presided over a culture of rape that practically screamed, “You’re a football hero – you deserve it! Heck, you’re doing her a favor by raping her with your godly gridiron groin!”.

In fact C.U. is is hardly an isolated case. The same thing happened in Minnesota and Tennessee, and numerous other states in recent years.

Charming.

As if that weren’t bad enough, there’s just as much or more wrong with high school football as their is with the college game/business. Several high school football coaches have been arrested for having sexual relationships with students in recent years. Although dated, the Houston Chronicle published a lengthy writeup on the subject in 2001.

The Chronicle article clearly shows the problem is NOT limited to football or even to male coaches. Even so, my point is valid, especially in a state like Texas where a high school football coach in a small town is like a demigod in his own right. He’s an older, usually chunkier version of the star athlete on campus, just as important and even more powerful because coaches are almost always placed in positions of authority over classrooms as well as their players on the field.

For me this is what takes the cake – the fact that the education process is diminished, even corrupted by schools that insist on using football and other coaches to teach in classrooms as if they were capable, competent, interested educators.

Too broad a brush? Perhaps. But if you find a coach who demonstrates all three of the characteristics I listed above, by all means hang on to him or her – that coach is a rare individual. Even in a best-case scenario, coaching takes an extraordinary amount of time, time that’s going to come from somewhere. Coaches have to sleep and spend time with their families. Unfortunately, too often the classroom is what is compromised when coaches teach.

Suffice it to say that this post would make me a rather unpopular fellow and derail my campaign for the school board before it even starts if the folks in my home town happen to read it. Should they, I doubt if what I have to say would change a single mind. But another football season is starting and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American children will be given a sub-par education this year. And for what? So their town can feel better about its shortcomings by opening a can of whup-ass on the school in the next burg down the road?

Wow! That’s really showing ’em, to say nothing of the Indian and Chinese kids who are studying their booties off overseas and practically licking their chops at the idea of coming to the States to take the jobs that we’re not preparing our own kids to do.

In a way this is a hard post for me to write because I actually like football and many other sports. My kids play sports in school. I played them too and the best times I had in school were sports-related, bar none.

Nevertheless, if we’re going to make athletics the existential religious experience they’ve become then we should be willing to pony up the whole cost of the game. That is, pay coaches to coach, teachers to teach, and never the twain shall meet. This is especially true in regard to football coaches.

Cross-posted at The Van Der Galiën Gazette.

The Great Divide

25.04.2007 (10:16 pm) – Filed under: Philosophy,Sports ::

With thanks to Eric Gunnerson, I want take a break today to talk about something real and good and worthy, unlike so much in the media and the world at the moment and, in all likelihood, in all moments.

The subject is the Great Divide Mountain Bike Race, as documented by one of the riders. Kent Peterson is way cool and his experiences on the 22 day, 2500 mile ride are the kind that can and inevitably must shape a person’s life.

Read all of Kent’s day-by-day account of the trip, it’s awesome:  well-written, entertaining, and heartfelt.  After reading about the adventure I find myself thinking that I’d like to do it someday.  Soon.  I’m not getting any younger and neither is my already-bad knee.  Soon my older sons will be able to outride me – perhaps then.

Some exerpts from the first half of Kent’s ride:

Every racer but me has chosen a 29” wheeled, multispeed bike so naturally my rigid steel Redline Monocog is the bike that attracts the most attention.  I’ve gotten used to confused looks from folks when they see my choice of bikes and many people seem compelled to issue forth well-meaning critiques starting with phrases like “wouldn’t it be easier…?”  I’ve learned to keep my responses as simple as my bike and often reply that the Redline is a fun bike and it’s really all I need. If I’m feeling chatty I point out that it would be easier not to ride the Divide at all or to ride the course on a motorcycle, but that really doesn’t seem to be the point. Every person racing the Divide is here for a challenge, I’m just defining the challenge a bit differently. I want to see how fast I can ride a rigid singlespeed mountain bike from Canada to Mexico.

June 20th

I roll into Helena around 9:30 AM and arrive at Great Divide Cyclery just as it’s opening up.  I work at a bike shop, so I know that my own crisis is just one problem in a litany of woes the shop will see today and that they probably have a queue of regular customers with higher priority concerns.  I present my case to Gwen Sensing and Steve Coen, the two folks working here this morning.  What I need is a new rim and some spokes to lace it up, or a new wheel, and I’ll be happy to do the work myself.

It turns out I don’t have to do that. In a stroke of extreme good fortune, Great Divide Cyclery has one Specialized Hardrock Singlespeed on the sales floor.  The chainline is right but the tire has to be swapped and a 17 tooth cog installed.  In order to clear my rear rack, we have to pull the rear disk brake.  But the new wheel sports a beefy Ditch Witch rim with a great braking surface and everything comes together with what the Taoists call effortless effort.  I am on the proper path.

I leave Helena and ride back into the wild country. I’m really loving the descents now that I have two working brakes. I get a bit of extra excitement as an enormous elk leaps across the trail about eight feet in front of me on a particularly steep descent and later I see more deer and beaver and various other creatures. In places the trail is very rough and steep and in other places the headwinds are fierce but my general sense is just an overwhelming
feeling of joy that I’m able to ride.

June 24th

The night is bear-free and in the morning I roll down to Flagg Ranch, a tourist Mecca on the main highway that runs between Yellowstone and the Tetons. Mr. Rockefeller has his pavement here and the pavement seems to have attracted every RV in the western hemisphere. I know that many people are saying that gas prices are too high these days but on this day, in this place with large nomadic herds of mobile comfort careening from one scenic spot to the next, I’m thinking that gas prices could stand to go a bit higher.
June 30th

I’ve seen a lot of emptiness on this trip but the small spot where my Tarptent should be is a void that dwarfs even the Great Divide Basin. In the twilight I stare dumbly at a flapping loose strap as I mentally replay the day. I’d packed the tent up this morning, about sixteen hours and 116 miles ago. I’d double strapped the various bags as is my custom but in a moment of inattention, two straps were looped into one. And that key strap, somewhere on the trail between Breckenridge and this dark place, a path of beautiful stony climbs and high-speed, high-bounce descents, somewhere on that long trail, a single buckle gave way. I think about chains with weak links and how you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. I think perhaps that I am too stupid to race the Divide.

It is easy and wrong to think that minimal gear and a simple quest equates to some kind of renunciation of the material world. In a very real sense, a Divide racer’s minimalism is in fact an extremely purified form of materialism. I’m not free of material goods, I’m intensely dependent on them. Each item I have chosen for this journey has been extensively studied and obsessively considered. I’ve literally weighed my options and made my choices. The other racers have done the same.

Like I said, read the whole thing – Kent’s race diary is the coolest thing I’ve seen on-line in way too long.

At the risk of putting my words to his story, the last paragraph above says something to me about the way most people live their lives.  I’m no exception, I’m sad to say.

What it says to me is that we too often bind ourselves to material things and immaterial ideas that seem valuable but are worthless.  The ability to see, hear, and feel the truth is inate in men and women.  It’s part of us.  But participating in society deadens the spirit inside us.

We’ve all felt it, that sense of understanding that comes during a long stretch away from work, at a funeral of a loved one, on the beach facing an endless stretch of water.  We glimpse it at odd intervals, for too-short moments, and know we have a purpose that we’re not fulfilling.  Duties call and, rushing to met them, we forget that we have higher obligations.
The truth about us is not in our jobs.  It’s not in our televisions.  It’s not down at Moe’s Tavern.  It’s not in the public faces we present to the world or the falsehoods we mouth to keep the illusions in place.
The truth is in our hearts and minds.  But where did it come from?
Tune out the noise, turn off the cell phone, forget your job, your boss, your sister-in-law, the newspaper.  Don’t believe the lies you tell yourself every day.

A ride like Kent’s prunes the useless debris from our lives and leaves us with only the most important things in our hearts.  There’s only so much we can carry.  Consider and accept what is true, whether you like it or not.  What else matters?

Rush was Wrong?

02.10.2003 (12:30 am) – Filed under: Sports,Stupidity ::

No, not really, not about the NFL’s version of Affirmative Action. But wrong or not, he’s gone, forced out of his position on ESPN as a result of stating the obvious: the NFL wants to have more blacks at the top of its marquee.

How dare I? Anyone who reads the sports page knows that the NFL central command has actively campaigned for teams to hire black coaches. In fact, earlier this year, the Detroit Lions were actually fined by the NFL for failing to interview their quota of minority coaching candidates before hiring Steve Mariucci, the very successful former coach of the 49ers.

The fact is that many people don’t like Rush Limbaugh. On his radio show, he has made himself a target of certain categories of people, people who were literally salivating for the opportunity to “cut him down to size”. Simply by stating the truth about the NFL’s practices, he gave them the opportunity to do just that.

The irony of it all is that Rush was quite wrong about Mr. McNabb’s playing ability.