Friday, March 6, 2015

Some Things Confuse Me

Some things in life confuse me.  I'm not talking about an inability to understand certain parts of quantum physics or not being able to read ancient Hebrew.  Those are things few people have mastered.  I mean there are parts of
McDonalds Chicken McNuggets
Subject: McDonalds' Chicken McNuggets | Date: 10/04/2011 | Photographer: Evan Amos |The copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.
every day life which make me scratch my head and keep me awake at night.  A friend of mine tells me that thinking about such things is what causes my chronic headaches.  Maybe so.

The boast, "100% white breast meat," confuses me.  I get what they're claiming; their nugget or patty contains only white meat from the chickens' breasts.  Yet, when dark meat has so much more flavor, I'm not sure why only using blander white meat is considered to be a good thing.

The Bible confuses me.  I'm not referring  to its lessons or message; I personally believe the Bible to be a reflection of God's word.  However, in a literary sense, I don't understand

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what constitutes a verse.  Using the English Standard Version, the Bible's shortest verse is the two word verse John 11: 35, "Jesus wept."

By contrast, its longest verse is the two sentence long passage Esther 8: 9, "The king's scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language."

Just looking at these examples, one might say a verse is defined by the expression of a single idea.  If that's the case though, what do we do with single sentences which span more than one verse?   Acts 1: 1-2, "1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen."

I'm sure there's a highly technical answer explained within the dusty pages of some book housed in one of the Vatican's secret vaults.  Nevertheless, the inconsistency of the Bible's verse structure perplexes me. 

Extravagant pet products confuse me.  The production of such products doesn’t confuse me.  Big companies have found a cash cow, and they’re milking Bessie for all she’s worth.  It’s the American way, I get that.  It’s the demand for these trinkets that baffles me.

A well cared for pet needs a bed (a pillow or soft blanket will usually do), food, a bowl to eat out of, water a bowl to drink from, snacks to promote dental health & good behavior, somewhere to relieve itself (a clean litter box or ample yard), a brush, nail clippers, a collar, a leash, and a few toys.  That's it.  OK, I grudgingly concede to the idea of a tooth brush & paste, only because vets are recommending such things these days.  But, that's it. The rest, including dressing a pet and pushing them around in a stroller, seems silly to me.

I was at Target and thought I'd get some treats for my new puppy. Target has 2 entire aisles of dog & cat toys, food, and treats.

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I saw balls of every conceivable color, including day glow colors, for dogs which can only see black & white.  There were balls with bells, squeaky balls,  mini-tennis balls, balls fastened to each end of a cylinder to mimic the shape of a bone, and a mind numbing array of other pet oriented balls.

I was equally surprised by the multitude of gourmet flavors pet snacks come in.  I saw animal snacks in; salmon & herring, venison & sweet pea, turkey & sweet potato, bison & lentils, free range chicken, and filet mignon with bacon; varieties.  Not that a dog would know a filet mignon from a skirt steak, but if Fido did score such a snack, he could finish it with Peanut Butter Flavored Frosty Paws Ice Cream for dogs from the frozen food aisle.

I'm perplexed by other things too, including commercials which treat viewers as stupid, people who go onto talk shows and court shows to air their dirty laundry, and Family Feud contestants who believe the dirtiest possible answer WILL BE on the survey board.  However, what really confuses me is the idea that very few people seem to be questioning any of these things.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Fixing Boxing

Long term readers know that my favorite sport to watch is boxing.  When everything goes according to Hoyle, or rather Marquess of Queensberry, boxing is man versus man, and the better man wins.  There's no blaming the wide receiver, point guard, or pitcher.  If Fighter A wins,  Fighter A wins.  If Fighter A loses, Fighter A loses.  Of course, this ideal doesn't take "sloppy" judging and officiating into account, but that's a problem of execution, not design.  Nevertheless, when everyone executes their role correctly/honestly, boxing is an exciting sport to watch.

The real problem with boxing is an issue I've addressed before. Professional boxing is made up of multiple weight classes, some with more than one name, and different sanctioning bodies recognize different champions for each weight class.

Table of current boxing championship belt holders as of: 12/07/2014
Subject: Table of current boxing championship belt holders as of: 12/07/2014 | Source: BBC Sports

It's a mess.  Andre Ward and Carl Froch share a Super-middleweight title,  Scott Quigg and Guillermo Rigondeaux share a Super-bantamweight belt, and Floyd Mayweather holds titles in more than one weight class, which is SUPPOSED TO BE illegal.  This hodge podge doesn't even take each sanctioning bodies' interim champions, silver champions, emeritus champions, or diamond champions, for each weight class, into account.  Once we count those, each weight can have as many as twenty "champions."

When a weight class has twenty champions, it has no champion.  Belts and championships have become meaningless in boxing.

During the fabulous days of yester-year, there were eight weight classes...,
  • Flyweight: 8 st (50,802 Kg / 112 lbs)
  • Bantamweight: 8 st 6 lbs (53,525 kg / 118 lbs)
  • Featherweight: 9 st (57,153 kg / 126 lbs)
  • Lightweight: 9 st 9 lbs (61,235 kg / 135 lbs)
  • Welterweight: 10½ st (66,678 kg / 147 lbs)
  • Middleweight: 11 st 6 lbs (72,574 kg / 160 lbs)
  • Light Heavyweight: 12½ st (79,378 kg / 175 lbs)
  • Heavyweight: (unlimited)
...and one champion per weight class.  Fans knew who "the champ" was, and people could root for, or against, the guy.  Today, if a fighter has a big name, and a decent management team, they can have a  belt.  If a boxer has enough pull, and a belt isn't available, a sanctioning body will commission a new title for him.  Heck, if I put my mind to it, I could probably obtain a 147 lb title.

People point to this title soup and laugh at boxing, and justifiably so.  Boxing's credibility is going to remain in the dumper until it fixes itself and establishes a clear hierarchy for each weight class.

As I see it, there are two possible ways boxing can be fixed, and by "fixed," I don't mean paying off a judge or having Bubba take a dive.  I mean, there are two ways to solve the problem.

The first way is for fans to latch onto one sanctioning body as THE sanctioning body, and ignore the other three.  If people only went to IBF sanctioned fights, for example, promoters would only schedule IBF sanctioned fights, and the other three sanctioning bodies would dry up.

This tactic has worked for other sports.  The United States Football League (USFL) played three seasons, from 1983 to 1985, before surrendering to the realization that fans don't want to watch football in the spring & summer. Similarly, the American Basketball Association (ABA) ceased to exist when the NBA swallowed them up in 1976.   Sports leagues/bodies collapse when fans don't support them.

Unfortunately, the fan solution won't happen in boxing, because there's no clear cut reason to support one sanctioning body over the others.  Without that distinction, fans won't care enough to boycott big fights in order to bankrupt sanctioning bodies.

My other solution is a Superman type solution.  Essentially, for this solution to work a Donald Trump or Bill Gates level benefactor would need to swoop in, buy controlling interest in all four sanctioning bodies, and merge them into a single sanctioning body.  This solution would have the added benefit of allowing our hero to restructure the weight classes in a way that makes sense.

Unfortunately, people would call such a forced merger a monopoly, and they'd be crying, "restraint of trade."  I can't picture a philanthropist who cares enough about boxing to adopt such a headache.

In a nutshell, both solutions are incredible long shots, neither of which will realistically occur.  Until networks stop treating every fight as the finale of a Rocky movie, by having a belt be at stake, die hard boxing fans are going to be stuck following a sport the rest of the world thinks of as a joke.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Big Questions

Faith/Science Comparison
Subject: Faith/Science Comparison | Source: Lani Kai Akers' Facebook Feed |

This morning a friend of mine posted this cartoon on Facebook.  It's a humorous attempt to point out the fallacy of religious thought and promote the value of scientific thought.  The graphic got me thinking about the age old debate.  Rigid scientists tend to label the devout as being ignorant and superstitious, while some religious zealots think of scientists as heretics.

I've wrestled with the question of science versus faith for years, decades even.  After much reflection, I don't think it has to be an either/or kind of thing. As I see it, science tries to explain HOW the universe works, and faith tries to explain WHY. They're different approaches to different questions.

Science can; tell us how atoms react, map the functions of the human body, and let us see galaxies light years away.  Faith, on the other hand, can answer the moral questions and put our existence into some kind of perspective.

Now some people are about to call me a heretic, and other people are about to call me ignorant, but by my way of thinking, claiming we're here by the happenstance of a cosmic explosion is just as outlandish as not getting a child medical help in the hope God will cure him/her.  

Balance is necessary if truth is to be realized.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Beaverton oh Beaverton

When people think of poetry they typically think of soul stirring dramatic pieces by Frost, Poe, or Shakespeare.  However, poetry can also be tongue in cheek and silly.  In that vein, I rewrote Glen Campbell’s “Galveston” to fit my hometown, Beaverton.  Enjoy.
Interior of the Cedar Hills Crossing mall (formerly Beaverton Mall)
Subject: Interior of the Cedar Hills Crossing mall (formerly Beaverton Mall) | Date: 07/277/2011 | Photographer: Steve Morgan | This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Beaverton oh Beaverton,
I still hear your cool winds blowing,
I still see her dark eyes glowing,
She was 21 when I left Beaverton.
Beaverton oh Beaverton,
I still hear your beer trucks crashing,
While I watch the perverts flashing,
I clean my gun and dream of Beaverton,
I still see her standing by the Starbucks,
Standing there watching phone app TV,
And is she waiting there for me,
At the mall where we used to run.
Beaverton oh Beaverton,
I am so afraid of dying,
Before I dry the tears she's crying,
Before I watch your small birds flying in the sun,
At Beaverton at Beaverton.