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Hot Curry

11 March 2016

There are some performers who transcend their arena. They become representative of something bigger than just their own stage, or court, or track, or field. Tiger Woods was such a performer for as long as anyone has been. He was so good and dominate that he compelled casual fans to become diehards, and non-fans to tune in to see what he would do. Barry Sanders made the laughable Detroit Lions a contender in every game when I was growing up. All eyes were on Barry Bonds* while Baseball’s eyes were looking the other way. Michael Jordan made the Chicago Bulls the model of a dynasty. Everyone thought LeBron James would do what Michael has done, but LeBron has not at all dominated the way Michael did. When Michael was playing I loved the NBA. Stats, mid-season games, the random bottom-feeder games playing on TNT Tuesdays, All-Star Weekend; I watched everything. But then Michael aged, Magic quit, Kobe never passed, fundamentals were forgotten, Shaq was only good because he was bigger than Goliath, and the game got boring. The most noteworthy thing about the NBA for a decade and a half was listening to Charles Barkley’s slurred commenting.

Enter Stephen Curry. While LeBron has not accomplished what many people assumed he would, Stephen Curry has trounced all expectations. And once again, I love the NBA. Watching Curry dominate below the rim is more exciting to me than witnessing Michael dominate above it. Curry has compelled me to turn the channel back to the game. Sports Center recently tweeted Curry’s sharpshooting:

Trump may be doing this in politics. He is certainly a buffoon, but not merely one. If he is elected he will instantly become a consequential buffoon. Thus many have tuned back into the game to watch him (and others) defy or disappoint expectations.

So what has recently tuned you back in? What was exciting, then passé, then reignited a former interest you thought long gone?

Lead

26 February 2016
url.jpgYesterday on All Things Considered on NPR an evangelical pastor from Dallas tried to explain why evangelicals are smitten with a thrice-divorced casino mogul who is soft on abortion. His answer was, to me, silly, and nebulous, and exactly why Gideon Strauss earlier this week indicted the American church for weak, toothless discipleship. He basically said that evangelicals are looking for leadership and someone who can solve problems. Any cursory examination of Donald Trump’s life/career would call either of those into question. He can’t solve a marriage, his casinos and hotels have not solved local economies–some have hurt communities around the world (Atlantic City and Aberdeenshire, Scotland are two)–and his leadership is nothing more than a mix of cult-of-personality and fascism.
But the more I listened to the Dallas pastor talk about “leaders,” and the more I have thought about “leadership” as a characteristic since that interview, the less I know what it means. What is leadership? And what is leadership in politics? Does it look different in the military compared to a company compared to the government? I even got so perplexed that I texted Pat “Shoeshine” Rayner, a Lt. Col. in the USAF, what he thought leadership is. His answer, short because he is very rich and very powerful man and doesn’t have a huge amount of time for trifles because, you know, he leads men: “Setting the example, enabling success, developing trust.”
Is leadership of the type that rich and powerful leaders of men like Lt. Col. Pat “Shoeshine” Rayner, USAF, laud and cultivate even matter in politics? I totally get it when it comes to families, militaries, schools, companies and businesses, teams, street gangs, day cares, churches, Mormon isolationists and Michigan Militiamen, etc. But these types of leaders are rarer than not in the White House. And it hasn’t seemed to matter. No one builds a consensus anymore; no one converts enemies away from the Dark Side. You posture-rage against the other guy and worry about re-election.
So does leadership matter to you, or does it seem to you like it does to me that in politics leadership is a largely nebulous trait that sounds good but hasn’t proven itself all that essential?
No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it. ~Andrew Carnegie

2016 Is A Push

19 February 2016

imagesFor whom are you voting? Or will you abstain? This may not be the best topic to help reconvene meeting in The Pub, considering we are in the eleventh hour before this state’s primary. But maybe the eleventh hour is just the time to ask the question, since many people don’t really decide on their candidate until the eleventh hour anyway.

Additionally, I have never believed that voting should be a private thing. After all, our votes are a declaration to the powers-that-be that we believe the person for whom we voted should be in authority over other people. That the people who got our votes should pass legislation that affects the lives of other people. So I do feel that we can, and should, know our neighbor’s vote(s).

I would also like to know who will get your vote because I am at a loss. In my opinion, the entire field of republicans is laughable. I take none of them seriously. They make me embarrassed to have called myself a republican in the past. I certainly will not call myself a republican now. As a Christian I am embarrassed of them, especially those that keep saying they are Christians when no fruit is readily apparent in their lives. And as one who teaches logic and ethics I am embarrassed by their politics. In fact, the more I read the Bible, the less republican I get. Pure, unadulterated capitalism is nowhere in the Bible. Neither is this unwritten, republican, natural law that assumes we should always seek the greatest amount of our own safety. In fact, the more I read it, the Bible pretty clearly espouses a degree of self-imposed socialism. The more I watch and listen in this election cycle, the less I respect any of the candidates and the more I, like David Brooks, will miss President Obama.

And while I am not a republican, I am not ready to say I am a democrat, either. As a Christian, and, again, as one who teaches philosophic logic, I can easily see that what progressives self-describe as progress is often anything but.

So, seriously, is abstinence an option?

Nativism

1 February 2010

Until recently, anthropology has been a decidedly one-way street. Scientists would travel to foreign places to sit down in the middle of the foreigners and write pithy assessments while they gawked at a bevy of activity, hopefully being done rather swiftly by a bevy of topless native women. When a sizable-enough stack of journals had been filled with poignant and award-worthy observations of the local color, the observer would pack up and go home to a crusty, homogeneous audience ready with congratulatory cognac, and tell strange tales of gourded primitives.

That is until a TV company from Britain brought a group of such tribesmen from the island of Tanna, at the southern tip of the pacific archipelago that comprises the island nation of Vanuatu,  to London, in 2007. Meet the Natives is a fascinating show on The Travel Channel that documents this turn of the tables. These unsophisticated, unscientific, stone-aged men are kindly given the chance to see the real world and experience what real life is like in the 21st century. They are shown cities, and culture, and technology. They are fed flavored food, and candy, and they get to use toilets. And if all this were not enough generosity, the anthropologists filming them also turned on the sound.

But one of the more fascinating things about the show is that the islanders are better anthropologists than the anthropologists. They quickly and concisely dissect western civilization. They seem to understand the creation and the ecosystem better than we do, too; they warn a rancher that cattle can’t be raised on corn, or it will die, and before it does, produce bad meat. The rancher just chuckles like a dipwad.

This made us sad. These primitive men eat better (or maybe we should say eat smarter), provide for their society better (or maybe we should say provide at all), include people better, but don’t necessarily live longer. They live primitively, and it’s hard. They live in the land, in the dirt, and it may seem to us like they are not advancing or making life better, but they can’t imagine a man living in the streets.

Would you be willing to live like they do? Would you be willing to give up technology to live in a society that has no homeless people? What technologies should we abandon, because they are killing us, and what sorts should we pass to these men to improve their lives? Or do their lives need to improve at all? Is technology so unstoppable, and warrants that we just shut up and go with it, or can and should we say enough is enough?

Child’s Play

12 August 2009

A list of classic, must-read children’s books is posted on the NPR website, offered by children’s book author Lesley Blume. Not only had I not read any of them, I had only even heard of two. Which made me wonder…what books did I read as a kid? Or, which books did I love enough to consider classics? Aside from Garfield and Peanuts comics, I couldn’t think of many. I don’t remember reading much at all, but thankfully there are a few books so indelible in my reading memory that they would be on my short-list of classics, and perhaps be blamed for sparking my reading life. So I compliled a (very) short list (albeit a lame and rather obvious one) of my own:
callofwild

Ate the bacon.

Was bitten.terabithiahatchet

What are your classics? What books did you read as a child or young adult that you would not want your child or young adult to avoid or miss? What classics should I read now, and be sure to pass on to my brood?


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