Friday, February 22, 2008

Nothing More Powerful

I read a Newsweek article today contrasting the boomers, who were activists in the 60s, to the millennials, young people who are now active in the presidential campaign. According to this article, boomers are more combative and confrontational, while millennials are more consensus oriented and practical; preferring to effect change from the inside. Barack Obama, despite his age, embodies the qualities millennials admire, and therefore represents them.

Chronologically, I'm pre-boomer, but if this article is correct, my sentiments are distinctly millennial. I was certainly combative when I was younger, but assumed I had mellowed with age. Perhaps that's not it at all.

Upon further thought, I believe we're in an epoch where a critical mass understands that this is not the time for confrontation. Life, history, world development is cyclical and evolutionary. There are many indicators that we are in a new cycle. We are moving rather quickly toward a global economy. Despite the technological and economic superiority of the United States, this country is no longer able to exercise its will over other nations, beginning with the debacle in Vietnam and currently evident in Iraq. Additionally, we are seeing increased philanthropic activity by the wealthy and celebrated--Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney. And technological innovations on the Internet--MySpace, FaceBook, YouTube--allow and encourage increased expression of ideas and participation in the political process.

Of course, there are always those who resist change of any kind who will continue to rail at the disintegration of "values." And they will continue to scream and protest while adapting to inevitable changes. (Like, for example, the vociferous, independent women who make a living insisting that women should be wives and mothers who submit to their husbands and don't work outside the home.)

Visionaries, like Barack Obama, are in touch with this seismic shift in our world and have surrendered to it. Now is our time for a new way of operating the government and the country.

And there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Harvard and Stanford do the right thing.

Congratulations to two of the most prestigious (and expensive) universities in the country. Both Harvard and Stanford have instituted policies to waive tuition for students whose family incomes are less than $100,000. The details are more complicated, but the bottom line is that these two universities with their multi-billion dollar endowments have recognized that the cost of their tuitions weed out all but the extremely wealthy and perhaps a few who are extremely brilliant.

What that means is that the campuses wind up with only one class of student with no diversity of ideas or perspectives. This policy change at these universities will significantly broaden and diversify the field of brilliant students from which they may select the best. It will also provide a cultural base on campus that will allow students to interact with a range of people whose backgrounds may differ from their own. And that's one of the major benefits of a college education.

I hope other universities will follow Harvard and Stanford's lead.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Unsporting Milieu of Sports

The last several days have been interesting in the sports world.

Bobby Knight quit his job without being asked.

Indiana University, an erstwhile power in college basketball, is about to fire yet another coach.

The U.S. Congress wasted their time and our money in a hearing about Roger Clemens' use of steroids.

Senator Arlen Specter wants to have another congressional hearing about the New England Patriots' cheating.


Now that Kelvin Sampson, the IU basketball coach has come under fire and may be fired, we know why Bobby Knight suddenly quit his job at Texas. Bobby Knight and the Bob Knight Worshippers (BKW) have been working on getting him back to IU since the minute he was kicked out. I know what I'm talking about because I live in Indiana and I'm an IU alum. I'm not sure if the BKW are in the majority here, or if they are just more visible and vocal than those of us who were happy to see Knight's back. In any case, I have no doubt that the BKW are somehow involved in the mess currently brewing for Sampson. They either set him up, or they knew, that with the impossible pressure Sampson is under to win immediately, that he would be forced to break the NCAA rules. I find it significant that someone in Sampson's office reported his infractions. I would be really surprised if that person is not a BKW.

So long as Knight is breathing, the BKW will want him back at IU, so bring him back. Don't let some other unsuspecting guy take the coaching job and be undermined the way the last two coaches have been. Mike Davis, the guy who immediately succeeded Knight, won more than 60% of his games, but that wasn't good enough because he wasn't Knight. So Davis had to leave. In his second year Sampson has the Hurryin' Hoosiers ranked in the top 25 nationally, but that won't do. He's not Knight. So let's resolve this issue once and for all. Bring Knight back!

Let Knight and the BKW have their heart's desire. When the gods want to punish us, they give us our heart's desire.


I'm not a fan of baseball. The only reason it was ever the national pastime is because back in the day, there wasn't much else to do. With the advent of television, football has become the national pastime. You don't see rows and rows of empty seats at football games. And we all know that basketball and hockey are a lot more entertaining than baseball. I don't care how much nostalgia wants to say otherwise.

It's precisely because baseball is boring that everybody (players, owners, fans, the commissioner, the league) looked the other way when steroids became a part of the game. The astounding feats of the players made baseball exciting and increased ticket sales. There's no point in feigning shock about the source of this sudden inflation of the baseball prowess of guys in their mid to late 30s. Even I know that athletes don't peak near the end of their careers. According to this baseball logic, Shaquille O'Neal should be about to hit his stride!

So accept it for what it is, people, and please, Congress, do not waste any more time stirring these muddy waters.


The Patriots admitted they spied and they've been punished. All along they said their perfect season would mean nothing if they did not win the Super Bowl.

The did not win the Super Bowl.

The undefeated season merely made them big enough for a really hard fall.

Let it go, Senator Specter.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Co-presidents: Is this what you want?

"If the Clintons succeed and win in November, the nation will have something truly unprecedented: an unelected, unofficial, but nonetheless true co-presidency." Newsweek

So, for all those women who believe they are voting for Hillary, know that you are actually also voting for Bill, the philanderer you love to hate.

As a private citizen, Bill Clinton, a former president of the United States is welcomed (and well paid) around the world as a "speaker/consultant." As a consequence, Newsweek poses a rhetorical question. "His private dealings raise inevitable questions about who might come seeking favors if he and Hillary move back into the White House."

Frankly, I find the prospect of Bill Clinton back in the White House scary, but then I've managed to survive two Reagan terms and I'm still standing after seven years of George Bush II, so I guess I'm stronger than I knew.

But is this country strong enough to survive another 8, or even 4, years of an administration whose primary goal is enrichment of themselves and their donors? The country is already trillions in debt, and counting, to lenders around the world.

By the way, Obama's campaign is largely financed by small donations from tens of thousands of contributors; not by corporate lobbyists. The day that the Clintons loaned 5 of the millions Bill has made from "consulting" to their campaign, Obama's supporters gave him $3 million.

There is a part of me that prefers to see the Clintons inherit this mess, but the part that wants something to be left for my as yet unborn grandchildren, is desperate for Obama to win because at this moment in our history, he is our best hope, as Michelle Obama so elegantly points out.

Can you imagine Hillary giving a similar heart-felt speech about Bill?

Me neither.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Nasty people who do good things

This is in response to the W. Kamau Bell Curve blog re Bob Knight, Ike Turner, Miles Davis, and others who have transcendent skills/creativity but who also lose control.

Yes, I still listen to Miles Davis, despite his violence with women. And grudgingly I have to give Bobby Knight his props as a basketball coach, etc. for the others.

I haven't always been so generous, but the older I get, and the more self-examination I do, the more I understand that each of us humans has many demons to deal with. Some of us manage to keep our demons under wraps, while others let them out, albeit very, very carefully.

One thing all of these brilliant, nasty guys have in common is that they do not pick on people whose power is equivalent to their own. I never once saw Bobby Knight attempt to choke another coach, or a referee--only the players whose playing time (and scholarships) Bobby Knight controlled. Nor did Ike ever slap around the male musicians in his band. In other words, these nasty guys were bullies only with people they perceived as weaker than them.

Imagine the agony they must live (have lived) with on a daily basis having to stifle their ever present anger, which is always an expression of fear, whenever there was no weaker person around for them to hit.

So, I have come to pity rather than scorn these cowardly folk.

Of course, that's certainly easier for me than for the people who have been on the receiving end of one of their explosions.