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Sunday, July 29, 2012

An Olympic Message for my Godson. :)

The Olympic Ideal

The Olympics are well under way, and medals have already been awarded.  Looks like these Games will be remembered favorably.

This would be a fine opportunity to remember the words of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the IOC and of the modern Olympic Games.  He is quoted as saying:

"The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well."

Given how advanced each athlete must be at their chosen event, it's obvious that every Olympic athlete would have had to earn several triumphs in order to compete to begin with.  Nevertheless, the Baron's philosophy still holds water. 

Too many people think that winning is all that matters, and nothing less is acceptable.  To adopt this as your reality means you have committed yourself to the self-fulfilling failure known as perfectionism, which is a complete fallacy.  Winning is obviously the goal of every game, sport, endeavor or venture that is undertaken.  But that doesn't mean that you can never lose, and it doesn't mean that losing is a failure in and of itself.

The Baron didn't say this directly, but since he was an educator, I think he may have been implying that to lose is to learn a lesson.  It is only from failures and setbacks that we learn about ourselves. Good judgment comes from experience, and experience must follow from bad judgment. Also, to know that you've given everything you could give towards your goal is already a victory, even without the prize being awarded.

Maybe he was also implying that even when you perform your best, your opponent might still know something you don't, may still be a little faster or stronger than you, or maybe just wants it a little bit more than you do.  Given that, there's a chance that your opponent might win and you might lose, but that doesn't mean you give up the ship so soon.  You still play as hard as you can, and go for a win anyway.  Even if you come away with the silver medal, even the winner gets all the "spoils," and even if the crowd forgets your name as soon as they leave the arena, you still know deep down that you've won anyway

The quote, "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" was incorrectly attributed to Vince Lombardi, Hall of Fame football coach.  This was later found to be incorrect because Lombardi did not want his players to rely upon opponents' mistakes to coast their way to "ugly wins."  He actually told his players that nobody can achieve perfection, but "when we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."  This means that you prepare the best way you can, train as hard as you can, and envision yourself winning, even if you might not. 

Record books and historians are not kind to those who don't win, but you still can be.  Maybe there's a game that you've played recently that did not result in the victory you wanted.  Maybe there's a prize you wanted that went to someone else.  Or maybe there was something that you wanted so bad that you did everything to get it, and you still failed somehow.  Forget that result, and congratulate yourself on what you did to try to achieve it.  You did everything in your power to get it, and it simply wasn't meant to be. 

Don't post-mortem.  Don't second-guess.  And PLEASE do not beat yourself up no matter how bad you feel!  That was your opponent's job, and they've finished doing it.  They won a prize for it, but  you won't!  Why add to their work at your own expense?

So even though we all want Team USA to win gold in just about everything, they won't.  And even if some of our athletes are not on the highest rung of the medal stand, remember their efforts anyway.  The fact that they competed for our country to begin with already makes them winners.  And don't forget those athletes from other nations who complete against Team USA -- they might not all be NBA All-Stars, but they've made it their central goal to win anyway.  Respect that.

Enjoy the Games, peeps.  Comments welcome.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Munich 11

This summer will be 40 years since the 1972 Israeli Olympic Team was massacred at the hands of Palestinian terrorists in Munich.  While the world stood by, seemingly helpless, an entire national team was wiped out for the sake of a misguided message.

Today, the President of the IOC hosted a ceremony at London's Olympic Village, in which a moment of silence was observed in honor of the murdered athletes.  This may or may not have been a concession to public pressure after he refused to allow for such an acknowledgment during the Games' Opening Ceremonies next week.

The fact that this anniversary would not be acknowledged in "prime time" speaks volumes about the world's attitude about Israel.  Apparently, the governing body of this event is cowed at the prospect of "offending" several other countries who continue to have issues with Israel, notwithstanding what those athletes endured.  The fact that it could have been any other country that suffered the same fate at any time is apparently lost on the IOC, because Israel has never really been thought of as any other country.

So if Mr. Rogge won't stand up and do the right thing for all to see and hear, I'll just have to do it instead.

I'll acknowledge the fact that in 1972, 11 young men and women sought to honor their country by developing their bodies to perform great feats of strength and speed, and not to be tossed from an apartment window in order to meet the demands of a group of murderers.

I'll acknowledge the fact that one country has always been forced to militarize its entire citizenry, despite the fact that it is the Holy Land, merely for the sake of its survival.  Its attempt to join the international community as an equal nation was met with disaster, because the world chose not to accept it as an equal nation.

I'll acknowledge the fact that since that time, Israel has returned to the Olympics, brave as always, and that its athletes have earned medals for their performances.

And I will also acknowledge the fact that Israel has more than earned the right to be respected as an equal nation, at the very least at the Olympic Games, and should receive more than mere lip service from a committee that is so easily pressured.

In the interests of disclosure, in case you haven't already learned from my prior postings, I am Jewish, I am Zionist, and I am proud.  It's not my style to blame discrimination, real or perceived, for any disadvantages, or to use it as a crutch or an excuse.  However, if it looks like discrimination, sounds like discrimination, and smells like discrimination, you have to form a conclusion.  I dare the IOC to say that they would refuse a moment of silence if the athletes murdered by terrorists had been Belgian, Bolivian, Okinawan, or any other nationality. 

Feel free to comment, whether you agree or disagree -- provided you choose your words wisely.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Comics Hate Crime in Colorado

Super Heroes

This past weekend, a midnight premier of "The Dark Night Rises," the final chapter in the current Batman franchise, was disrupted when a gunman armed with an arsenal of automatic and/or semi-automatic weapons allegedly killed 12 people and injured 38 people in a theater in Aurora, Colorado. We're all stunned, shocked, and angry at what has happened, because it's horrible on so many levels.

On the political front, the gun control debate will now be out of control.  The NRA and its supporters will remind us that guns do not kill, people do, and the gun control advocates will demand investigations as to how James Holes obtained his entire arsenal legally.

What infuriates me is the circumstances under which this mass murder occurred -- while innocent movie-goers were about to watch a movie about a comics super hero.  A super hero who would have wiped the floor with James Holmes if some bored writer had decided to insert a character like him into the comics.  That alone makes this mass murder almost as disgusting and contemptible as bombing a house of worship during services.

We fantasize about super heroes because they can do what we can't.  A dark and brooding billionaire, forever mourning the loss of his parents, can invest in weapons that the defense department can't afford, invent an alter-ego for himself, and spend his nights putting life and limb at risk to put the fear of G-D into all criminals.  The rest of us are far more limited.

(to my Marvel-reading friends, he and Iron Man are kindred spirits in that neither hero has any powers, but they both have unreal weapons and gadgets, but I just can't take Tony Stark seriously -- especially not the way Robert Downey Jr. plays him as a major league -----le.  But I digress.)

I can think of no greater desecration or than executing such a carefully premeditated plan to kill people who actually wanted to escape reality for a while and imagine that there really was a Batman.  To suspend reality temporarily, and watch a story about a larger-than-life figure with no fear, few weaknesses, and an obsession with bringing criminals to justice.  When Mr. Holmes allegedly caused the deaths of his victims, which included young children, he not only violated their lives.  He also violated the imagination of comic book fans and movie-goers everywhere, and mocked our desire to simply go out and be entertained.

Now people are reconsidering whether movie theaters are safe places to be.  Just like any other terrorist, this miscreant has frightened us back into our homes for his own twisted reasons, and robbed us of part of our freedom.  If I had my druthers, I'd hire a UFC fighter to dress as Batman and and give this fool a beatdown!

However, as I've said in prior posts, we don't live in a comic book.   We do not live in a world of vigilante justice.  We live in a civilized society with laws.  Thank G-D this wanna-be Joker was apprehended within minutes of his departure from the theater.  Thank G-D law enforcement was able to disengage the many bombs and booby traps he set in his apartment, which could have caused even more death and destruction.  And thank G-D we have a justice system which will resolve this matter properly.  I wouldn't call any of them super heroes, but without Batman himself, they're the closest thing we have.

So my thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this massacre, and with the survivors as well.  I can only hope that we can move on from this as from any other disaster -- stronger and wiser -- and that this loser learns that being a super-villaim is less glamorous than he may have assumed.  Most importantly, may we keep believing in super heroes -- real-life villains can only win if we stop believing.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Election Year -- The Video!

Election Year

Every four years, by coincidence at the same time as the Summer Olympic Games, we Americans are granted the duty and responsibility of choosing our next President.  It is never an easy choice, as both candidates are almost always greatly qualified, yet also greatly flawed.  Even more so, because all governing bodies in our nation and its subdivisions are ruled by a very adversarial two-party system, the election becomes more of an un-popularity contest -- whomever gets the least amount of mud slung at him or her is the winner.

It's very easy to forget that whether we consider ourselves liberals or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans, we're all really on the same side.  We still both love this country and what it stands for.  We still both care about the economy, jobs, and crime prevention.  We still both care about freedom and liberty.  We've just gotten so wound up in party lines and adverse rhetoric that we've forgotten all about what made this country great -- all I have to do is look at the photos and buttons shared by all of the liberal and conservative friends I have on Facebook, all smearing and maligning the opposition's candidate to make them appear completely undesirable, to be reminded of how far off-course we've gotten.

So, with all due respect to Mr. Obama, Mr. Romney, and the parties they represent, I propose the dismantling of both parties, and the introduction of several independent parties, to present "outsider" and "dark-horse" candidates to run for all offices at the national, state, and local levels.  Our positions will consist of combining the best and most logical positions of the Democrats and Republicans as follows:


Abortion:  Keep it legal and keep it safe.  That only means we're pro-choice, but not that we're pro-abortion.  Once you realize exactly what the procedure entails, you realize that very few women leave the facility as if it were a day at the spa.  It's a very personal, heart-wrenching choice that many women face, and there are circumstances where it is absolutely necessary.  It's not a get out of jail free card, or a license to be irresponsible.  Rather, it's a last resort, because when two heterosexual adults engage in a process that was naturally designed for one purpose, there is always a possibility that that purpose may be achieved unintentionally, even with all of modern science's advantages.If the would-be parents of a child-to-be are not able or willing to commit to raising a child, and risk giving that child a miserable upbringing, the option should remain available.  Also, the would-be father should be notified of the process.

Anti-bullying laws:  Mandatory in all 50 states.  That doesn't mean we're raising a generation of tattle-tales.  It means we're raising a generation of people who understand that actions have consequences.  To those who claim that these laws somehow affect free speech, our position is that any words or action that lower self-esteem, reverse or disrupt the educational process, or encourage suicide, are not protected.  As the Supreme Court found in the obscenity decisions of the 1970's, you know it when you see it.

Obama Care:  Keep it.  There are far too many people who cannot afford health insurance, and would likely go bankrupt if they suffered a catastrophic injury that was not caused at work or in a motor vehicle accident.  If need be, the tax/penalty could be reduced to be less prejudicial to those who will not purchase health insurance, but the entire purpose was the make health insurance affordable for those who need it, but cannot have it.

Gay Marriage:  Mandatory in all 50 states, and DOMA should be struck down as unconstitutional.  Homosexuals are just as capable as feeling the same natural and committed love for one another as a man and a woman do, and they should enjoy the same benefits of that committed relationship. 

Marijuana:  Oh, just legalize it already!  "Just say no" was an epic fail, as was Prohibition.  Why waste taxpayer money by locking up Jerry Garcia and Method Man?

(now I'm envisioning the two of them smoking up behind bars, LOL)


Immigration:  If Congress and ICE found better ways to control the border and prevent illegal immigration, the State of Arizona would not have felt compelled to infringe on an area preempted by the federal government.  To live and work in the United States, you must be a citizen, you must pay the same taxes that all other citizens pay, and you will learn English.  In fact, for just this purpose, English will be the official language of the United States of America.  It will be required as part of the citizenship test, and those who cannot learn the basic fundamentals of the language will be denied citizenship.  In all other respects, the process will made simpler so that the desire to remain undocumented will dissipate.  Nonetheless, conviction of a crime will result in instant deportation to your country of origin.

Welfare:  Families with one child who are on welfare will be denied additional benefits if they have any more children within 20 years of the first child's birth

Alcohol:  All states will be granted the option of lowering the drinking age back to 19.  This is not done to encourage binge drinking on college campuses -- rather, doing so will make the desire to drink less and less appealing, as there will no longer be the "outlaw" image attached to it.  Rather, those between the ages of 19 and 21 will realize that purchasing beer is about as exciting as buying toilet paper, and the consumption of same will not be the center of social life that it sometimes becomes. 

Terrorist Activity:  The KKK, neo-Nazi groups, and Islamic Jihadists will be required to register with the Department of Homeland Security if they plan to form non-profit corporations or other organizations, and submit to regular and random audits of their activities and records.  Doing so will not limit or infringe their sacred "free speech" or "peaceful assembly" rights, but will instead keep the public informed of what their planned activities might be.

Religion:  Ten Commandments.  Every courthouse.  Every school.  Every bank.  Every prison.  Get with the program.  To throw a bone to the atheists and agnostics, they should only be designated by the appropriate Roman numeral or Hebrew letter so they won't be "offended" by the mere mention of the name of G-D -- and they should be displayed right under the slogan "In G-D We Trust."

(oh crud, now we're gonna have a schism over whether to put Roman numerals or Hebrew letters -- dammit Allweiss, be consistent!)

And so, "My Fellow Americans" (damn I always thought that was annoying), my entreaty to you is that we put aside partisan politics, reach across the aisle, and do away with the contrasting primary colors that only divide us further.  Rather, take positions from both sides that benefit our country the best, and find candidates that will espouse them and commit to them once elected.  If you don't see any candidates who will commit to them, don't elect them.  Or better yet, be one!

DISCLAIMER:  The preceding message was not an endorsement of either candidate, of either party, or of any one particular political philosophy.  Those who disagree are welcome to comment or respond via Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, or other social media, provided you do as my father taught me, and choose your words wisely.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What's Next -- The Video

What's Next?

Hey All:

Now that another July 4th has passed, we take with us the ideas of freedom, liberty, and independence.  Since this is an election year, depending on which presidential candidate you support, those three words may take on slightly different meanings, but they are no less relevant to our lives in general.

So what type of liberty, freedom, and independence are you seeking?  Maybe a new job?  Maybe quitting a job to make it on your own?  Maybe a better relationship?  Or maybe just some alone time?

Well, before you start planning how to attack these laudable goals, you need to detach yourself from whatever you're leaving and face forward towards whatever comes next.  No looking back over your shoulder, no post-morteming whatever moves you made or didn't make back then, and no, ABSOLUTELY NO second-guessing, no matter what!

To truly change the present and look towards the future, you need to forget the past.  Not like all the Hebrews who whined to Moses about how much better they had it in Egypt.  Leaving that job behind, and worried what they'll say about you behind your back?  LET them say it, you're gone!  Who cares?  Worrying if you should have stayed with the relationship, even if you weren't happy?  If you weren't happy, then you should have left that relationship already!

Now's the time to move forward, not backwards.  Maybe you've got a super business idea and feel just courageous enough to jump in with both feet and make it work.  Maybe you've got a better idea for your life that involves a certain amount of choices and input from you.  If that's where you're at, what are you gaining by looking backwards and rehashing history?

Whatever happened happened, and whatever will happened isn't here yet.  Races only run in one direction, from start to finish, and I have YET to see a well-respected runner turn around and start making his way back to the starting line!  Move FORWARD ONLY.

Tomorrow is Monday.  Make it a good one!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 4th and Canada Day

Declare Your Independence!

Independence Day 2012!

Hey All --

It's an awkward week we have when July 4th is on a Wednesday, as this is a holiday that some of use to artificially extend the weekend.  Instead, it looks like we have to shortened weeks in a row, rather than one long weekend.  Sorry for those of you who have to work this week, and then go back after the 4th, but let's still acknowledge what the holiday signifies.

On that summer day in 1776 in Philadelphia, the Second Continental Congress ratified a most inflammatory missive addressed to King George III of England, advising him that the 13 colonies of North America no longer wished to be ruled by the Crown.  Without rehashing the text of that document, since it's hard to sift through the popular colloquialisms used in 18th century English, we can review the manner in which the Declaration was constructed, and use it as a model for our own situations in which it's necessary for us to declare our own independence. 

Yes, this may be somewhat repititious, but I feel the need to borrow from last year's post that dealt with declaring one's personal independence from others.  So for those who need to throw off whatever shackles and monitors are keeping them tethered down, here's the outline:

(1) BE CLEAR ABOUT IT. That flowery "when in the course of human events" paragraph was the 18th century way of telling the British monarchy that they were about to be placed on notice of their transgressions and the consequences.

(2) EXPLAIN WHY IT'S WRONG. You and I may know that it's "self-evident." Whoever thinks it's OK to "pwn" you is CLUELESS to that which is self-evident because THEY ARE NOT SELF-AWARE, and need explanations.

(3) READ THEM THE LIST. Assuming you've documented them well enough, of course. It's hard for most self-aware individuals to explain away their documented actions. The CLUELESS ones, of course, will try to convince you (and themselves) that it never happened in the first place.

(4) TELL THEM THE GRAVY TRAIN IS OVER. Oppressors in all walks of life get accustomed to receiving too many free passes. They must be clearly notified that they will no longer receive them, and that boundaries have now been erected.

(5) BE AWARE OF WHAT YOU RISK. Our Founding Fathers were not drafting a school term paper, but an inflammatory document with serious consequences. The more liberal among you will note that they were all white males over the age of 21 who owned property (including slaves).  But putting that annoying issue to the wayside, we must remember they faced grave danger signing that document. Several of them were murdered by the British, some of them lost their property, some of them were poor and penniless after the war.
Not to say that this will happen to you if you declare your own independence. The last thing you need is another reason to put it off. Just be prepared for whatever consequences your former oppressors might throw at you. Make a plan, if you have to. But bottom line, just be ready.

It's a little scary to declare independence for yourself, and sometimes it involves great risk.  But following through on it can be one of the most glorious and self-actualizing things you can do in your life.  To use the words of John Galt from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged for further reinforcement:  "I swear - by my life and my love of it - that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

So let's try to remember that as Hump Day this week is lit up with fireworks on the Hudson River and with barbecue pits in many backyards.  It's never too late to declare your own independence from anyone or anything that is oppressing you, holding you back, or preventing the full enjoyment of life.

Good night all, and Happy 4th in three days!

DISCLAIMER:  The above is meant to demonstrate the value of declaring independence, whether on a personal level or the international.  It does not espouse either a conservative or liberal political stance, nor is it addressed towards any individual or individuals personally.  Any misunderstanding is entirely the responsibility of the reader.