Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Football: Change the Rules of the Game

How many young people, from middle school to the NFL,
suffer concussions but continue to play, because of the
money, power, "opportunity" and cultural influence attached
to  football? There must be many thousands; a large number
doggedly stay on in the sport until, frankly, they are used up,
too old and damaged to play ball or do much else. --Exactly
what sort of "game" is this? It is a blood sport, not completely
removed from the days of Ancient Rome with its gladiators.

In recent years the media shocked some of us with ugly news
about NFL teams  paying bonuses to players who will seriously
hurt stars on opposing teams. This equates to brutality,
criminality (intent)  and --no particular skill other than thuggery.
It's high time for major changes in the tactics, philosophy and
morality of the game:

(1) No headshots, head butts, etc. Hefty penalties, in some
cases resulting in being ejected from play, must be awarded
to end these frequent life-altering concussions.

(2) Remove some of the "contact" in this contact sport:
five or more players jumping on top of one on the bottom
and other egregious "plays"  should leave football.
Whatever happened to touch football? You still need passing,
running, blocking et al. even in this milder form, no?
Wouldn't that demonstrate more true talent and less

Helmet design can never prevent concussions, which
are similar to shaken baby syndrome. The brain floats
inside the brain case (skull) and violent impacts will shake
it up very detrimentally, voila, a concussion. More padding,
etc. cannot successfully address this.

Boxers and football players after the age of 40 who have
had multiple concussions become virtually unemployable.
Besides the economic worry (where will the income come
from for the next 40 years?) the ruined brain performs
less well and overall quality of life is diminished.

Think about that the next time you're in the stands yelling
"Kill 'im!" Football: change the rules of the game.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"The Most Transparent Administration"? Not About the Healthcare Glitches

If  The White House has not invited experts from MIT or
The University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana to create and/or
fix the software for the public exchanges sign-ons, I
STRONGLY suggest they do this IMMEDIATELY.
I think  "experts" from other places, like Georgia Tech,
simply aren't up to the required complexity. But these two
institutions are well-known internationally to be so...

Then there is the matter of "scaling up" (-from software
capable of handling hundreds or thousands of  sign-ons to
literally millions.) This is one of obvious glitch sources here,
not so easy to do accurately as some science documentaries
lead viewers to believe. That probably explains why Mr. Obama's
"first successful sign-up", (a Ms. Baker, who needed 11 hours and
seven tries to get it done, per CBS) was brought to the White House
in a shop-worn human-interest aspect of his attempted apologia
maxima, while NOT revealing the names and credentials (c.v.s)
of the people on his original Obamacare software start-up team.
Mr. Obama never actually said he was sorry, only merely mad; he
CANNOT possibly be as upset as those thwarted in trying to get
the healthcare they really need.

Memo to the White House: You must provide this information.
No plausible deniability for these folks--or YOU in the inner circle.
Mr. Obama, your easy-going manner does not serve well here,
i.e., "act natural, act casual", etc. Be more forthcoming, take
personal responsibility, state the expert team's qualifications.

You can kiss your transparency braggadocio goodbye if you
don't...and do call MIT. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Is Nihilism Nigh, Worldwide?

So much murderous violence occurring simultaneously
suggests suicidal tremors in Earth's body politic:
desperation, need, jealousy, greed, inability to comprehend
or cooperate--the specter of nihilism grows ever larger,
just in time for Hallowe'en. Here at home, TV fiction
features characters routinely threatening to punch one
another in the face,  parroted by many of  the viewing faithful;
bullying among the  young, especially in schools, pushes
the vulnerably sensitive over the edge into ending their
lives, a boy and a girl just recently.

It looks likely that there isn't a cogent care for tomorrow,
next week or next year, the way the powerful AND the
ordinary are misbehaving.

If nihilism is nigh, that terrifies far more than vampires,
zombies and assorted ghouls...Happy Hallowe'en!

The U.S. Economy: "Watchful Waiting" over our Political Non-function: No Fig Leaf Big Enough to Cover the Shame

...that includes the huge plants from back in the dinosaur days,
when individual leaves were many feet across. I have every
expectation that, early in 2014, this same pandering, posturing,
preening, politicking absent the facts will reoccur, the popular
public-speaking mechanism so favored by the right and left,
elected and not-elected alike.

But the average American, and many investors, are watching
with weary, jaundiced eyes; witness the upsurge in tech stocks and
the S & P, yet the DJIA, home to most non-expert investors, did
NOT similarly so surge. The week ended (10/18/'13) with less than
30 points gained on Friday by the Dow Jones, which makes me
think of the economy as still parked in the intensive care ward,
while we "watchfully wait".  (--Just what exactly are we waiting
FOR?? --A majority of legislators willing to legislate for the
common good, that is, for rich and poor alike (excepting vicious
billionaire brothers Koch and company?)

                          [hack, cough, cough....]

Beware the tipping point, if we don't:

--stop million/billion pork-barrel projects (yes, they still exist,
   Sen. Mitch McConnell just received one);
--streamline wasteful program duplications;
--eliminate tax loopholes for super rich individuals and
--find a way to sanely, humanely create a more graduated,
   multi-level tax structure;
--fix our aged bridges, roads and rails
   (witness Minneapolis' deadly, major bridge failure).

The world would call us Deadbeat America, our "Exceptionalism"
mocked openly over land, sea and air, here, there, everywhere.
Merely mocking us isn't the worst of our future shock, as what
other nations think practically, tangibly, matters, despite denying,
decrying, ignorant voices to the contrary.

Watchful waiting will not heal our economy; no fig leaf
exists to salve our pride. Only intelligent, honest effort
works, what has ever worked. Let's get going! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Super Power or Super Problem? Any U.S. Default Deters World Growth

...and I don't mean population. It seems as if  humans can
procreate in the direst of circumstances, yet solving urgent
political/financial  impasses often seems quite beyond us.
Once again, due to ignorant intransigence, ego, and an
eye toward imagined political gain, we are at the eleventh
hour, with little will in a small but powerful pocket of
Congress to do the right thing. Yet this particular precipice is
of an unknown, likely world-wide catastrophic quantity--
because the planet's nations have believed in a tenuous
thing known as "the full faith and credit" of the United
States, our treasury bonds behind the entire world's
currency, our never having defaulted status. 

That small, standing their ground defiant pocket in the
U.S. House, AKA the Tea Party, may well spiral us
all into a sovereign debt crisis. Deadbeat America,
where would your much-ballyhooed "exceptionalism"
and "super power" status be honored then?
Extraordinary, yes, but not in a praiseworthy way.
Few forgive avoidable harm; the rest of the world
WOULD take note, friend and foe alike. Heads up,
Tea Partiers--that applies internally as well, come
election, er, RE-election time.

Too bad there isn't a binding resolution to jail
such legislative offenders: a U.S. default deters
world growth, stability and peace.

Today's online Chicago Sun-Times explained
"the Hastert Rule", which former House Speaker
Hastert devised, implemented and institutionalized
(gee, all the way back to 2003, SUCH a historic
long-standing precedent!), to wit: No Speaker
sends a bill back to the Senate unless supported
by a majority of the majority--not just a house-
wide majority. If this isn't a nakedly, purely
political ploy, I don't know what is. Memo to
Boehner: Time to break the rule, buddy!
Especially in view of the fact that Mr. Hastert
was NOT a legendarily canny, statesman-like
Speaker in any event. Mr. B., your nation
and world are watching. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

In-Ayn Rand Rules Parts of the South, to Its Detriment (and ours)

Willful, occasionally criminal, stupidity rules large swaths of our
nation, particularly in poorer southern states. Worship in the
Ayn Rand cult conveniently cloaks selfish disregard of others
in a pseudo intellectual guise of "productivity", " high-ideal
individualism," etc. Much of this has segued into the Tea Party,
many members of which claim to be Christians. It is not
rationally possible to be a true Randian, atheistic acolyte and a
practicing Christian--the philosophies are diametrically
opposed to each other.  How do these people reconcile
this seemingly insoluble paradox? They don't; they just
let it hang there in the ether, ranting Randian "Objectivism".

Now, down to October 10th, 2013,  as we are suspended
in the era of Sequestration (incorrectly used, according to
Oxford, et al.) partial government shutdown, a possible
looming default, the first in U.S. history, with world-reeling
consequences: some super patriots smugly deny, dismiss such an
eventuality, even say, "bring it on". Obtuse and uncharitable, when
disaster comes to their state or town, they won't  be too
ashamed to demand help from--the government, yes, that
Great Satan in their parochial view of economics. [What's logic
got to do with it?  Logic, a second-hand emotion....]

In-Ayn Rand must be delighted about now; never mind
if a whole nation falls down the rabbit hole, people are
actually following, even venerating her. But her ideological
victory is doomed to be short-lived, if history is any guide.
Inane and insane, her subjective emphasis completely
ignores human reality. We are individuals, yes, but
are of the herd as well--that's how we evolved over
six million years of history, forming families and hunter-
gatherer groups, then entire societies.

Let's not aspire to all or nothing philosophies. We can't
progress with narrow right-wing anti-government rhetoric,
nor nanny state soak the rich ideologies. We're all in this 
together, despite newborn shrill southern secession movements.

Let reason ring, along with freedom, in the North, South,
East and West--that would be best.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Extreme Errors: All Across America

The last few weeks, from September to October first, 2013,
have shown little more than a litany of errors from officials in
DC, shutting down (by intransigent posturing) parts of the
federal government, sending ~800 thousand workers on
furlough without pay, among other outrages.  A pointed
critique goes out to overly-leftie democrats AND right-wing
nuthatches on the republican side of the aisle. But this debacle
is merely Part One...

Part Two: They had better do something to raise the United
States' debt ceiling well before October 14th, a trigger date
before the much-publicized October 17th deadline. America's
much-vaunted "Full Faith and Credit" will be (if it isn't already)
in jeopardy. Certain talking heads warn that without prompt
borrowing authority, a new global financial crisis looms,
caused by a default on U.S. Treasury bonds, which ultimately
underpin our entire system, respected, relied upon around
the world--until now.

Let's go back to September, when 13 people were shot at a
troubled Chicago South Side neighborhood park. Friends and
families were still at the park at 10:15 p.m., including the
three-year old who was shot in the face. Didn't these "innocent"
adults understand the circumstances which sadly obtain where
they live? Or is denial relied upon, to their detriment? Why
would this mother take her three year old to a park in reputed
gang territory and still be there at 10:15 p.m.?  I hope she didn't
feel "there's strength in numbers", because only one person
packed an AK-47, and he was no friend of hers, or the other
twelve shooting victims...none of which were killed, miraculously.

Poor people in dangerous areas must work smarter to survive.
Parks anywhere aren't bastions of safety well after 9 p.m., so
being indoors late at night is one hell of a good idea in these
chaotic and gun-crazy times, no matter how splendid the
weather is. Extreme errors also happen locally, in smaller
spheres, as this one incident demonstrates.

As to Part One and Part Two, extreme errors in DC will
cause some of  these "stand your ground" politicians to risk
their high positions come voting time. The average American,
while not brilliant, still appreciates who isn't working in the
public interest--and that same public will make them pay,
probably sooner than later.  Ask the nineties' Newt Gingrich,
who "rode upon the high places" until an election in Congress
trimmed his sails...people began to see that his "Contract with
America" seemed  more like a contract ON America.

All across America, dangerous, heedless  stupidity is now
the order of the day.