Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's Obamatime

President Barack Obama today issued an emphatic challenge to the NFL’s plan to change overtime rules for playoffs, causing a firestorm of outrage from Republican leaders.

At a press conference called to discuss the recent Health Care Summit, a reporter from ESPN asked the President his opinion of the proposed overtime rules. Obama replied, “It seems like a good idea. As a fan, ah, I’d like to see a .. simple system .. for all .. overtime games. Something similar to the, uh, college system … where each team gets, uh, an equal chance .. to score, regardless of whether .. it’s a, ah, touchdown or .. field goal.”

Reporters then peppered the President with questions about whether he planned to have the federal government step in and direct the NFL to enact a more sweeping change of the rules. Obama tried to evade the inquiries by attempting to steer the discussing to others topics, such as healthcare, but the media insisted on sticking to the overtime issue.

Following the press conference, Republicans were quick to attack the President’s NFL overtime proposals. Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell (R, KY), remarked that “Mr. Obama’s plans to overturn the overtime system are an affront to American sports and hard-working American fans. The free market system has given America the finest professional sports in the world. There’s no need to change it.”

House Minority Leader, John Boehner (R, OH) had a slightly different take on the controversy, but was no less opposed to Obama’s proposal. Appearing before the media on the steps of Congress, brandishing a ream of copy paper, Representative Boehner asserted that “the administration’s plan would require this much paper to explain to the new overtime rules to the average American. The ‘Obamatime’ system will increase NFL ticket prices putting the game beyond the reach of hard-working Christian Americans.”

The National Tea Party held another Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to exploit the rancor being generated by Republicans. Ron Paul addressed the conference, arguing that, “We do not need new overtime rules in the NFL; in fact, we do not need rules at all. Teams should be free to play as long as they like, unimpeded by government regulations. Restrictions against holding, grabbing facemasks, spearing and end zone celebrations are also unconstitutional and must be eliminated.”

Sarah Palin got the biggest response from the CPAC crowd when she asked “How does Mr. Oba-maaaa, have the gumption to tell the NFL how to run the game? His origins are in Af-ricaaaa, where they don’t speak American, let alone understand American sports like football and hockey. Obama grew up in Ha-waiiii, far removed from the professional sports. He went to some elitist college, so naturally he wants to impose those rules on us. Socialist Obamatime college rules are too convoluted for regular, hard-working, white, Christian Americans like you and me. You know what else, his kids play soccer which is football in European

Senator John McCain (R, AZ), who lost to Obama in the most recent Presidential election, said, “For the President to interfere in the most sacred of American institutions is an outrage. It’s an outrage. I did not spend years being tortured in a Viet Nam prison so that we could have Obamatime rules destroy our national treasure, the NFl.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, NV) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D, CA) met with fellow Congressional Democrats to try and work out a compromise overtime proposal. “Maybe the President went a little too far,” mumbled a contrite Reid. “We’re open to the idea of removing the equal opportunity option from the overtime plan.” Pelosi, obviously nauseated by Reid’s whimpering manner, chimed in, “We feel an appropriate solution is to have a coin flip determine which team gets the ball in overtimes. Then the first team to score wins. We call it ‘Sudden decision.’”

Republicans are reportedly meeting to come up with negative adjectives to describe the “Sudden Decision” plan. At last report, the leading invective was “Democrats wouldn’t know a decision if it bit them in the ass,” which resonated with voters of both parties.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Olympic Dreams

I know you don’t want to hear about it, but last night I had a dream in which we were cleaning out our tiny tenement house in some crime-infested section of a big city.

Nobody wants to hear about anybody else’s dream. It’s always, “so then we were in this tenement house but it turned into a carnival and some guy – it might have been Moses or maybe Jethro Tull – anyway – he had this cow, which was really a blueberry muffin …” and so on. But I have a point, so bear with me.

The house in my dream was “secured” by doors with giant dead bolts, but the doors themselves were ¼ inch thick, rotting wood that would not stop a determined fly from breaking through, let alone the neighborhood thugs.Why the criminals wanted to break in I don’t know, because the house was filled with only piles and piles and piles of old clothes we were cleaning out of the closets and drawers. They were possibly all the clothes that were missing in all my other lifelong dreams about showing up late for important tests and interviews.

Over the past two weeks we have heard all about Olympic athletes “dreaming of this day” and “pursuing lifelong dreams”, yadda, yadda, yadda. No one has dreams like that. The only pursuit in dreams is that guy (who might be Moses – or maybe Jethro Tull) pursuing you with the intent to do something horrible involving a cow muffin. The only worldwide exposure you dream about is standing naked on the ice – late for your event but with the entire media still there. Only Johnny Weir enjoys this dream.

I’m not saying that no one ever actually dreams at night about Olympic victory but that, when they do, it would have a bizarre twist to it. Liner visualization of winning an event occurs when we imagine or fantasize or maybe daydream about achieving it. And I’m not saying that all night dreams are bad dreams. I have had a good dream about being on the Olympic medal platform. Naked. With Lindsey Vonn. The media is not there. And I know you don’t want to hear about it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Start By Asking What The Hell You're Talking About

Thank G-d for the cautious rationality of Kathleen Parker. (For those uncomfortable with the idea of a single deity or of openly printing the name of it, I have censored it while I study the effect it might have on comprehending this post).

Parker wrote a column for the Washington Post last week about the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy (I need to start reading a real newspaper - I didn't see this article until it was reprinted in the Cincinnati Enquirer today).

Parker explains that "gays and lesbians are equal to the task of serving in the military ... it is so obvious and true" and that "Equally absurd is the notion that gays cannot abide by the rules against fraternization. There's no evidence that gays are less able to control their libidos than are heterosexuals." and that "gays and lesbians already have served honorably and valiantly, so what ... is the big deal?"

This is why she is such a great writer, because just when you think she is caving in to "the enlightened views of a few urban dwellers" she sets us all straight with the fact that "the military really is not about you. And the right to serve belongs to no one", that "In combat ... unit cohesion is crucial. Whether serving as 'openly gay,' ... will affect that cohesion is the great unknown" and we need extensive further study to decide whether the military can survive overturning "DADT".

It should be obvious. The question goes beyond gay people. We are fortunate that the military has not forced white soldiers to serve with people who are openly of African, Mexican or (G-d fobid) Japanese origin until we can study what effect it would have on the morale of xenophobes and their ability to function cohesively.

I am forced to reveal here that I was, at first, of a different orientation that Parker. I sent her an email asking "Is this satire? Take your column and substitute "Jewish" for "homosexual". Would you seriously state that a study is needed to determine how it would affect "unit cohesion" if Christian soldiers had to serve with soldiers who were openly Jewish?" I am embarrassed to have been that openly ignorant.

Parker brilliantly replied, simply, "I'm sure you are aware that skin color and ethnicity do not equate to sexual behavior." What was I thinking? i forgot that being Jewish means being of a different ethnicity and skin color, having a funny accent and a hooked nose. We must continue to force Jewish soldiers to hide the fact that they don't believe Jesus is the son of G-d or that, in the privacy of their homes, they light funny candlesticks with those of their ethnic persuasion - at least until we can study the ability of Christian soldiers to serve effectively alongside them, knowing what they are.

The only group that should not be subject to a Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is bigoted homophobes. First of all, they can't help being who they are. secondly, as long as everyone they hate or fear or are uncomfortable with is prohibited from revealing their differences, there will be no disruption of unit cohesion when they act upon their unnatural proclivities.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Retard" Is Just a Four-Letter Word

I love my wife. I also love my sister. I love pie too. To say I love them all equally would be one thing; to say I love them all the same would be creepy.

It’s so fine, it’s sunshine, it’s ambiguous, it’s overused, it’s the word, “love”. Love is the most used word in song and verse, theater and literature. And yet we really don’t know love at all - because we love the word so much that, like sugar and spice and ketchup, we use it on everything.

Affordable” is a word that gets tossed around a lot lately. It’s as popular, though not as weighty as love. No one has written a sonnet asking, “How do I afford thee, Let me count the ways.” No one is making a movie called “I Can Afford You, Man.” It is not even always a positive word. Having stuff that is not “affordable” to everyone gives us status.

““Right” is another word we love. People on the Left assert that everyone has the right to affordable health care. The problem with “affordable” is that, like love, its definition is contextual. Steven Wright tells us “everything is within walking distance … if you have enough time.” Likewise, everything is affordable … if you have enough money.

I support getting more people health care because healthy people will contribute more to society, but there is a limit to what we can afford. A while back, everyone had the right to affordable housing. People bought houses they couldn’t afford and now they can’t buy things for the people they love because the economy got fucked up. Pardon my French.

If I remember the story correctly, one day my niece, who was not quite old enough to drive at the time, used the word “fuck” in a sentence. Although she undoubtedly used it properly, my sister, who was driving her home from school, objected to the word. My niece said, “Mom, it’s just a word.”

Of course it is. But words have meaning and, more importantly, they have the weight of whatever emotions we invest in them (e.g. the word “love”). My niece knew that, but she was possibly trying to appear cool to the friend who was in the back seat with her.

In advance of pro-am night at Go Bananas, comedians are warned that their sets must be “TV clean”. This always puzzled me since the words “shit” and “fuck” and a few others are spewed out on the stage by the majority of performers. Recently someone clarified for me that the forbidden words are all c-words: “You can’t talk about putting your c-word in her c-word or c-wording on her c-word”. So George Carlin’s list of seven words you can’t say on television is reduced now to just two? At least for Go Bananas, TV clean includes “piss”, “shit”, “fuck”, “motherfucker” and “tits”, but not “c-word” and “c-word-sucker”.

Not mentioned by the G.B. guidelines was a word that is available to black comedians but not the rest of us. That is of course the “n-word”. I would sooner write the c-word here than the n-word. There is so much more emotion and conflict tied up in it and yet it all depends on who uses it.

Getting a lot of press lately is a word that people are responding to as if it were the n-word; that is “retard”. Rahm Emanuel recently characterized a proposed strategy by some liberal Democrats as “fucking retarded” and many were upset by it, especially Sarah Palin, who has a developmentally disabled child.

“Mentally retarded” is a benign term used to describe someone whose intellectual development is prevented from progressing “normally” by some condition such as Down Syndrome. But “retarded” has taken on such a negative connotation that where I live, the Hamilton County Board of Mental Retardation has become Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services (just as the County Whacko Ward became the County Mental Health Clinic).

Does using the word “retarded”, in the way Emanuel and others have, demean people with that particular mental disability? Defenders of the term say that it does not; that saying “that’s retarded” means someone is behaving as if developmentally disabled. Just as saying “that’s crazy” means they are behaving as if mentally ill, saying “that’s so gay” means behaving as if they love someone of the same sex, saying "that's so dumb" means behaving as if they are mute, or saying “that’s so lame” means behaving as if they have severe leg injuries. By saying the proposed policy was “fucking” retarded, Emanuel meant it was like someone developmentally disabled having sexual intercourse, which, as far as I know, would be just like anyone else having sexual intercourse; so I find his comment odd at best.

When someone calls someone else a retard, it conjures up, for me, images of degrading stereotypes, suggesting that people who are actually retarded are lesser human beings because of the way they look or speak or act. It seems a very mean word, expressing a cruel thought (just as "c-word" and "c-word" are very nasty names for otherwise very functional, important and enjoyable parts of our anatomies). "Retarded" may become (already is to some people) so pervasive that it loses that emotional weight and becomes like “crazy” or “lame”: words used everyday without a thought to their origin. For now though, I will avoid using the r-word as an insult or as part of a joke on stage and I will try to spread more “love”.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snow Men Need Kids

No doubt about it, I should have had more kids or a shorter driveway.

This morning I was half an hour into clearing the 5 inches of snow off the driveway when the Catholic guy across the street brought out his home-grown work crew and put them to work. They were done and back in the house drinking hot cocoa before I could even find the path to my front door, let alone shovel it off.

Time to think about that snow blower again.

FROM 12/23/04
Six a. m. Wednesday morning the sleet and freezing rain started. Fortunately, I get up that early to go to work. Fortunately I had stopped on the way home and bought some ice melter. Fortunately, they had 3 20 lb. bags left. (Why is "lb" the abbreviation for "pound"?)
"Do you want help carrying those to your car?"
"No, I need to warm up for lifting heavy shovelfulls of snow." So I carried the 60 pds. (makes more sense) out to my car.
As the sleet pinged off my coat early Wednesday morning, I sprinkled the driveway with ice melter and went off to fight through the morass of terrified drivers clogging the route to work.

By Wednesday afternoon, the roads were getting packed with holiday drivers, semi trucks, workers leaving early, and ice.
I left at about 3:00 and it took me only an hour and a half to go the 15 miles on the expressway from downtown to my house.

It kept on snowing until Thursday morning. At our house we had from 8 to 10 inches of snow. I was not about to do a scientifically accurate measurement, which would have involved trudging about the yard, poking a yardstick in various spots as if I
was trying to see if our yard was done or needed a few more minutes in the oven.

I didn't have time for that; I had to get started shovelling so I could get out and go to work. But wait: Our county was under a "level 3 snow emergency" meaning only emergency vehicles were supposed to be on the road. So no work for me. Yay! I didn't have to go sit in a warm office eating Christmas cookies, meat and cheeses, nuts and candy from clients and vendors! I got to stay home shovelling snow off my driveway!

I also did not scientifically measure the volume of snow removed from my driveway. But my educated guess, given the length of the driveway, the width I cleared, and the 9 inch depth, is that it was between several buttloads and about a hunnerd sh-tloads.

It could have been worse. Had I not put the ice melter down, there would have been a layer of ice becoming one with the cracks and crevices in my driveway. As it was, it only took me a little over three hours to clear one minivan width plus enough space for a sedan on the other side of the garage to possibly maneuver into the cleared path.

This process was made more fun by the snowplow that drove by every hour and spewed a couple inches of slush back onto my clear driveway.

Down the street I saw the neighbors who own snow blowers shooting arcs of snow away in about 1/6 the time it took me to shovel. Aw, snow blowers are for sissies! They foul the air with their gasoline emissions and their obnoxious motor noises!

Later my next door neighbor and across the street neighbor came out and began manually shovelling their driveways. We are real men. A real man enjoys the gentle "scrape, scrape, scrape" of the shovel, the fog forming around his head as he breathes in and out strenuously, the sensations in his back, legs, arms and chest that let him know he is alive - but perhaps not for long - the snot dripping from his nose, greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes ---- wait, sorry, I'm still a bit delirious from hypothermia.

God, I wish I had a snow blower.

Today I started with the mound of snow the plow had left out in the street at the end of the driveway. Sure enough, just when I got that done, the plow was coming up my side of the street again. As he got near my house, the driver spotted me, slowed down, lifted his plow and bypassed my driveway, leaving the neatly cleared path I had made. I ran after him to give him a big kiss, but he got away.

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