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October 28, 2004

Boston's MLB World Series Victory

Boston won the World Series and lost a bit of its character.

Part of the mystique, allure, and soul of Boston was that they were lovable losers. The Curse was something that defined the region and the people. It helped to create one of the best rivalries in all of sports (Boston vs New York) and created a sort of counterpoint between the cities as well. New York City would do anything, pay anything to win. Boston was the also ran, the hopeful, the always denied. The nice, bookish, younger brother always in the shadow of the star, hip, older brother. Now Boston has lost that. People will start to notice now that Boston has the second highest payroll in ML Baseball. The expectations of the city and the fans have increased. The must-win attitude will sink in and you'll hear promises by players and fans to be back again next season. When/If that doesn't happen, you'll see more money spent, more trades made, less excuses accepted. Soon, Boston's front office will look just like the Yankee's. The business of winning will replace the fun of playing.

Congratulations on ending 86 years of close misses. I'm sure Buckner et al are quite happy to no longer be the butt of so many jokes.

It's too bad you lost your character along the way.

October 11, 2004

Death of a Superman

“You will believe a man can fly.”

That was the tagline and, for any boy who went to a theatre in 1978, it was true. Christopher Reeve played Superman (and Clark Kent) with such grace and wit and wisdom, that most people alive today cannot separate him and the character in their minds. Most of us, when we hear the name Superman, have a picture of Christopher Reeve in our mind’s eye. No matter how bad the movies got (and three and four were pretty bad), Christopher Reeve remained a source of strength, purity, and self-effacing courage in the role.

And then the “curse” struck him, too, like George Reeves, Kirk Alyn, Bud Collyer, and others. Reeve became paralyzed in a horse-riding accident. Rather than shrink from it, rather than be bitter and angry over it, rather than shy away from the lime-light and hide his infirmities from the world, Christopher Reeve found the courage to once more don the red and blue—this time proverbially—as a man of steel giving voice to a segment of our population that too rarely has one. He fought for medical research, funding, and relevance for those with spinal injuries and others. He kept a positive outlook. He leaped taller buildings and changed, even if slightly, the course of mighty rivers for those suffering these injuries.

Christopher Reeve continued to act and also directed some very well-received projects. He continued to inspire everyone around him with his determination. He said, “I will walk again.” And, like believing a man could fly, I just knew it would happen. Some day, some how, I believed he would.

Christopher Reeve died this weekend. I know he is flying now.

Rest In Peace

October 5, 2004


Our country is evolving into an antisocial place. Where once our survival hinged on knowing others and working with them to gather what was needed to live, we now live in a world where you can almost totally do without human contact.

I can order nearly everything I want via the Internet today. This includes entertainment, clothing, food, and all manner of other products. I can pay my bills online. The Internet makes telephoning, writing letters, or stopping by to see someone irrelevant.

Cell phones mean that I can shut out the rest of the world and speak only to those with whom I want to share my thoughts. They also connect us to the World Wide Web and allow us to be more insular.

Internet chatting has replaced dating. Both at work and at home I can IM with people to alleviate the need to actually walk three cubicles over and speak with someone. If I do deign to go to the supermarket, I can now get my items and checkout at the self-serve aisles with absolutely minimal contact with others.

Technology has even gone the extra step and allows me to father children without having sex—one less need for contact with others. A few minutes alone, some internet-made contacts and transactions, and viola! I could be a dad with only minimal contact with any other human being.

As this technological isolation pervades our society, we are seeing a disturbing increase in antisocial behaviors and crime. Children are acting out more at school and not able to get along with their peers. “Fear of Public Speaking” is at such heights that more people are scared of this than are afraid of dying or involvement in heinous crimes. As a country we are getting fatter and our vision is rapidly deteriorating. Violent and antisocial crimes are on a steady rise. People can spew their hatred in any number of totally anonymous, and therefore safe, ways to any who will listen.

Attendance is falling at our national parks and monuments. Air and car vacations are declining except for those special holidays or occasions. For the past three years, attendance at movie theatres has declined.

How many people can name three neighbors? I know I can’t. I have the nice black couple across from me, the guy who rides bicycles shares one wall, and the Lone Vacuumer lives above me (who always has to vacuum at midnight). But their names? What they do? Their significant others? Of course not.

But what can we do to suspend or complete revoke this trend in antisocialism?

First, we need to take responsibility for our own actions. I realize this sounds like another isolationist idea. However, on closer inspection, I find that if people take responsibility for their own actions, they tend to start thinking of others. Part of responsibility is thinking of other people and how what you do affects them. This is the first step in getting people to include others in their thinking.

Second, we need leaders who think globally and act communally. Imagine if, after taking responsibility for ourselves, we started to look at the wrongs of the world in general and our community in specific. We could affect real change by servicing those ills. Our personal responsibility will then translate into communal responsibility.

Third, let us reintroduce the idea of fair play and honest competition. I believe this could evolve naturally from the first two suggestions, but I want to state it here. If our company will be fair to us, we will be fair to them. If our leaders are honest with us, we will be honest with them. Instead of stabbing everyone in the back and stepping on their hands and feet as you climb the social and economic ladders, why not try to help everyone above, below, and around you to succeed? Imagine what could happen at your workplace if the company was working to nurture its employees at the same time the employees were working to make the company and each other successful?

Last, we need to stop the rat race. Stop ‘keeping up with the Joneses.’ Stop worrying that Mary has that big shiny new car you’ve been wanting. Instead, be happy that she could afford it and keep saving for your own. So Jamal just got promoted to management, you are doing the best you can in your job and you will get the acknowledgement you deserve for it. So what if Kim got accepted to that prestigious school. She must have worked hard and had a great interview and essay. I will get the school of my choice if I am equally as successful.

Imagine how personable the world would be if those four steps were taken by each and every person. You would want to meet your neighbors, if only to acknowledge their accomplishments and be acknowledged for your own. We would go to parks both to have fun and to ensure that it is a clean, safe place for others to go. Homelessness, gangs, and general crime would be all but gone, as people would be working to help their community to prosper, taking responsibility for their actions, and playing fairly and honestly with one another.

I can dream, can’t I?

October 1, 2004

First Debate (2004 election)

The thing that struck me most while Kerry and Bush were "debating" each other occurred whenever they showed both candidates via the split screen. While Kerry was talking, Bush seemed agitated. When Bush was talking, Kerry seemed calm and understanding. Bush often had long pauses where he seemed unable to come up with the simplest phrases and names. Kerry seemed to have a good command of the facts and was able to "wing-it" and use many of Bush's phrases and goals against him.

To me, it was like watching a boxing match between someone like a Mike Tyson and someone like a Mohammed Ali. Tyson (Bush) is all about aggression and offense. He believes that if you are down on the canvas you can't beat him. So he invests everything in his strong offense and attacks you unrelentingly. However, this leaves him open to the opponent who can successfully outlast his aggression, survive his offense, or counter-attack him. Ali (Kerry), on the other hand, had a plan of attack in mind, but was creative enough to change his rhythm and his plan as the fight dictated. He would stand toe-to-toe with certain foes, would rope-a-dope against others. He would rile some up pre-fight and get in their heads. Others he would act all scared of and would lull them into a false sense of security.

Bush was intransigent on his points. He wanted to hammer home the fact that Kerry changed his position on the war and other issues. Kerry picked up on that and was able to counter-attack Bush by bringing up changes in information and situations that called for a leader to change tactics but showed that Bush did not. As Bush saw his points get turned against him, he floundered. He had trouble remembering both Kerry's and the Vice-President's names. He got agitated. He lost his "down-home" way of speaking to the common man and tried to bully his points across but jumping in and speaking out of turn. Kerry was able to stay his course, flow with the punches thrown, and land some good jabs in return.

When the moderator asked for specifics, I heard homilies and euphemisms from Bush. From Kerry I heard actions and time tables.

It remains to be seen who the American public thinks won that debate. The polls have not yet been released. While I am still undecided who I will vote for in November based on the issues, I can tell you who I felt looked and acted more “Presidential” during the first debate.