Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Tides of Fate

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
~ William Shakespeare

Did you watch Game 6 of the World Series? If you did, and you're a baseball fan, you'll never forget it.

People who were lucky enough to be at that game will be talking about it for the rest of their lives. It was an epic tragedy/comedy, full of awful mistakes, remarkable recoveries, spectacular plays, and close calls. Commentators are ranking it with the most memorable World Series games of all times. Best ever or not, Game 6, 2011, was everything baseball should be.

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for their win in Game 7, even though my heart was with the Texas Rangers. I knew when the Rangers let that final strike to win Game 6 slip away not once, but twice, that their moment to grasp triumph had passed. I still hoped they would win in Game 7, but I felt they would lose. I hated to be right.

It will be a long winter in Texas as the Rangers, "bound in shallows and in miseries," relive what was so close and might have been. They are a great team, and I hope the Ranger's winning tide will rise again in a post season not too far distant.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Question of Timing

Here's a link to the countries where American military troops are currently deployed. As you can see, there are dozens of them, all over the world. American troops have been stationed in many of these countries for all of this century and half of the last century. Thanks to every single one of them for their service.

One dramatic example is Korea, where the U.S. military has kept the peace since the 1953 truce between North and South Korea. According to a report linked here, issued today, there are no plans to draw down the 28,500 American troops in Korea--budget cuts notwithstanding.

So, aside from political ideology and a flailing presidency, what is the reason for President Obama's big hurry to pull out of Iraq, a country that will most assuredly suffer mightily from our abrupt departure? This is, of course, a rhetorical question. After all, there's a presidential election coming up next year. Since he's already mucked up healthcare, the economy, unemployment rates, the debt, and the national deficit, it would be a glaring omission for Barack Obama to neglect screwing up foreign policy before the fourth quarter.

The president has got to work fast now. There are three years behind him and only one short year ahead for him to continue blaming George W. Bush. When it comes to grabbing the spotlight by making dramatic speeches about his latest jarring change to our national identity, time is beginning to run out on President Obama.

That's the good news. I can only hope and pray this game doesn't go into overtime.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Debatable Value

I don’t know about you, but I can’t watch the GOP candidate debates. I’ve tried, in occasional ten-minute segments and in news clips after the fact. Based on the various snippets of debate footage I’ve seen, the debates all seem to play out like one continuous slow motion train wreck.

According to the schedule, we’ve only got about 87 more debates to go (or so it seems).

I have a lot of questions about the debates. Why are MSM anchors hosting these disasters? Those chuckleheads aren’t going to ask any decent questions. Why are the candidates lunging at each other’s jugular veins? Why aren’t they presenting a united front by focusing on President Obama’s failures as a leader? There’s enough material on that topic alone for a few hundred debates.

Why are the candidates instead talking about apples, oranges, and gardeners? Why aren’t they talking about jobs, the economy, jobs, unemployment, jobs, the deficit, jobs, the debt, jobs, border security, jobs, national security, and did I mention jobs? Why aren’t they concentrating on that looming national catastrophe, Obamacare?

Why is Rick Santorum so whiney? Why is Ron Paul allowed to walk the streets unsupervised? Why can’t Mitt Romney ever seem unrehearsed? Why is Rick Perry always “fixin’ to” do something? Why is Michele Bachmann dressed like Lt. Uhura?

Watching the Republican debates is kind of like watching an Obama speech or press conference. You find yourself brimming with multiplying questions but hearing no real answers. You get bored with listening and shut off the television. You hope it doesn’t happen again—but you know it will.

I think I’ll try tuning out until the 2012 general election results. There’s no debate about the fact that those will be well worth watching.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Loved Lucy

It's impossible for me to calculate how many hours of my life have been spent watching "I Love Lucy" reruns. Rest assured that, had I devoted all that time to higher education, today I would probably hold several post-graduate degrees.

That doesn't mean earning an advanced education would have been time better spent. We've all got to have some fun in life, and nothing is more worthwhile fun that sitting down with a bowl of popcorn and a DVD full of "I Love Lucy" episodes. The woman was a comedic genius, a pure original, a one-and-only talent that we'll never enjoy again.

This weekend marked the 60th anniversary of the premiere of "I Love Lucy," and this year Lucille Ball would have celebrated her 100th birthday. Back when average life expectancies didn't extend past age sixty-something, this woman began a new career as a TV star at age 40. As we all know, her courage and daring was rewarded with worldwide fame and stunning success. That's an angle that gives this story from the vintage years of early television a very contemporary edge.

Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (or "Lucy and Ricky," as most TV viewers know them) was interviewed by TV Guide to commemorate her mother and the classic television comedy show. She said that although her mother was very different in real life, she loved playing the Lucy character.

Which was the best episode? I'd have a hard time choosing one over another. Each Lucy fan has his or her favorite, and the show keeps earning new fans among younger generations. "I Love Lucy" will always be top-rated entertainment as long as there's some form of media to watch it. Along with her many millions of fans down through the decades right up to today, I loved Lucy.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Lost in Location

Not to be a party pooper, so to speak, but guess who were the top contributers to Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign?

Um, gee whiz. They're mostly corporations.

Let's take a look at the Top 20, linked here. In the finanical sector we've got Goldman Sachs, UBS, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and CitiGroup. In the high technology sector, there's Microsoft, Google, IBM, and GE. There are also the usual suspects in academia, such as Harvard, Columbia and Stanford University, which are no surprises. But the majority of Obama's top donors are from that evil death star, Corporate America.

So perhaps the "Occupy Wall Street" crowd is a bit off course. Maybe they should shift the primary base for their sitting butts from Wall Street to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. But of course, the OWS protestors are not exactly deep thinkers. Most of them are listening to their iPods, talking on their iPhones, or tinkering with their iPads--all very profitable products of one of history's most successful corporations, Apple.

One news report I saw showed an interviewer asking a guitar-strumming protestor why he was there. After a pregnant pause, because this evidently was a really tough question, he responded "I'm not really sure, but it's the most worthwhile thing I've ever done."

Oh, brother. The country is in more trouble than I thought.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

iNovator, iNventor, iCon

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

The death of Steve Jobs should give all of us pause for many reasons. Here was a college dropout from humble beginnings who revolutionized technology to the point that he literally changed the world, building a massive fortune in the process. We work, play, listen to music, talk on the phone, and communicate in entirely different ways today than we did before Jobs worked his computer magic.

Fifty-six years is not a long life. Yet Steve Jobs achieved amazing things in that abbreviated lifespan. As a human being, it appears he was not always at his best. Despite his enormous wealth, Jobs is not known as a charitable giver. He denied paternity of his first child, born out of wedlock, and he cut his partner out of a fair share of the bonus for developing the Atari video game. But throughout the decades of his life and career, in addition to his wondrous techological inventions, he built strong relationships with his colleagues and, most especially, his family. Jobs was very public about his "iLife," but fiercely protective of his family's privacy. This, to me, is perhaps the greatest evidence of his intelligence.

Steve Jobs gave a very wise and thoughtful commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005. He knew he was playing his end game, and he was generous enough to share the wisdom he had gained about learning to die. A crowd of 20-something college graduates is a tough audience for such a profound message, but I think they will remember. They'll remember the dying genius who took precious time to speak to them, who was honest, brave, and continually productive as he counted down his days.

Steve Jobs gave those graduates a lesson more helpful than the iPhone, more memorable than iTunes, and more useful than the iPad. His message was that everyone ends up dead; what matters is what we do while we're here.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Remember the Angels

Today is the Feast of Guardian Angels, and Pope Benedict XVI took this occasion to remind us of the angels' constant presence in and protection over human lives.

When I think about the many attacks against the U.S. plotted by Islamist enemies but foiled before they could do us harm, I have to thank the angels as well as the Lord. After all, he gave them the task of watching over us, and I believe they are doing a stellar job.

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. ~ Psalm 91

Image: Webshots, American Greetings