Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Playing It Safe

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Andrew Golota (on the left) vs. Kevin McBride at the Madison Square Gardenh
Subject: Andrew Golota (on the left) vs. Kevin McBride at the Madison Square Garden | Date: 10/06/2007 | Photographer: Charlie |This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
For a few years there's been a movement to ban kickoff in pro football in order to make the game safer.  In a similar vein, a movement wants to ban head punches in boxing.

Both movements are products of an attitude that people need to be protected from anything dangerous or risky.  That way of thinking drives me crazy.

I wrote about a similar issue a few years ago, and I included a long lost of injury statistics.  I'm not going to do that this time, because the numbers are 100% beside the point.

Football is dangerous.  Boxing is dangerous.  That being said, not everything dangerous should be illegal.  People have a right to chose what to do with their bodies.  If people don't approve of full contact sports, THEY DON'T HAVE TO WATCH IT!

It's the same mindset as wanting to ban smoking in bars because some people don't approve of it.  If someone doesn't approve of smoking, THEY SHOULDN'T GO TO BARS!  Smoking may be dirt stupid, but people should have the right to do it.  Of course, if they smoke for 30 years, they shouldn't be able to sue tobacco companies.  Part of making choices is accepting the consequences.

Likewise, people have a right to participate in full contact sports.  However, if they do, they shouldn't be able to sue the league when they get a concussion.  Full contact sports involve FULL CONTACT!  You play the game, you take your chances.  But, that doesn't mean we should water down the game.

We can build safe cars, recall dangerous baby cribs, and do 1,000 other things to protect each other.  Yet, we'll never be able to make life 100% safe.  We shouldn't try.  People need to be free to be people, not robots.

A wise man once said, "Sitting in church, eating bran flakes is safe.  You take your chances with everything else."

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Those SUPER Heroes

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Subject: Heroes of Marvel Live | Date: 03/05/16 |
Photographers: James Kiester & Bonnie Kiester | This picture was taken by the author of this blog. |

Recently, I was at Portland's Moda Center (home of the Trail Blazers), watching a Marvel Comics based stunt show.  A few years ago I wrote a blog about comics as pop lit, but as I scanned the crowd of children and adults, many of which were dressed as their favorite character, I began thinking about America's love of superheroes.

I was 8 years old when Christopher Reeves first donned Superman's cape on the silver screen.  Not having seen a mainstream comic book superhero in a full blown movie before, I remember being giddy with excitement.  Equally rare in those days, were live action superhero TV shows.  When characters such as The Incredible Hulk, Spiderman, and Wonder Woman did make the air waves, they were almost always pitted against non-super "realistic" criminals.

Fast forward to today; audiences can watch a variety of super-based shows.  From DC Comics we have The Flash, Arrow (Green Arrow), Legends of Tomorrow (featuring a Justice League-like team), Supergirl, Gotham (a Batman prequel), IZombie, and Lucifer.  Meanwhile, Marvel Comics produces Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, Dare Devil, and Jessica Jones with Luke Cage (Power Man) coming in the fall.

In addition to these televised offerings, in 2016, movie goers can see Deadpool, Batman Vs. Superman, Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, Suicide Squad, and Doctor Strange.  Then in 2017 fans have Wolverine: Old Man Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman, Spiderman: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Justice League: Part 1 to look forward to.

Given their dominant media presence, one has to wonder what's fueled these heroes' increase in popularity.  I can think of three possible explanations.

  1. Those with the purse strings fund the arts.  During the Renaissance the Catholic Church was arguably the wealthiest organizations in the world.  As such, they funded the works of artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Pachelbel, Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Verdi.  Today, thanks to toy and comic book sales, DC & Marvel are multi-billion dollar companies who can afford to fund block buster projects.
  2. The audience has changed.  From the 30s through the 70s, comic books and super heroes were primarily for kids.  In the 80s the kids of the 70s kept reading their favorite titles, and comics began to evolve to adapt to the older audience.  These days comic shops have a large general section and a small section of child friendly comic books.   Since adults are driving the market, movies & TV shows are being mass produced for those adults.
  3. We need a simplistic escape.  Typically, it's rare to see a morally complex super villain.  These baddies usually want to steal a valuable object (a diamond, secret plans, etc...), kill someone, or enslave a population.  In response to this threat, a noble hero rises to protect us from evil.  Given this moral simplicity, it may not be a coincidence that Superman became popular just as Hitler was coming to power.  Perhaps dark times make us long for symbols of hope, fictional or not.  If that's the case, it's not surprising that a country which continues to squabble over marital rights, and  has been at war for 14 years, has latched on to superheroes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

2 A.M.

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Subject: A shot of the glorious full moon that visited my Bible class on 09/08/14 | Photographers: Linda Waltmire |
I'm a great person at 2 a.m..  I stare at the ceiling's shadows, depicting borders of fictional nations, and ponder the events of the day.

I grimace at the thoughtless comment I made, eleven hours earlier, when my mental filter temporarily slipped into neutral.

Then I kick myself for watching YouTube's cheesy offerings when I could have been blogging, or emailing my friend after her knee surgery.

With closed eyes, I apologize to God for the prior day's deficits and faux pas, hoping to receive the continued gift of grace.

Upon ending the prayer, I earnestly vow, as God as my witness, to; break my bad habits, double my work output, pay better attention to the fabulous people in my life, and budget my resources better.  And, HOLY HUCKLEBERRIES, I SINCERELY MEAN EVERY WORD!

3 a.m. arrives, and with comfortable slumber my brain slips back into default.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Searching For The Good

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During a recent GOP debate Senator Marco Rubio stated, "When I'm president of the United States we are getting rid of Obamacare..."

During a Feb. 7 interview on ABC's "This Week," host George Stephanopoulos asked Trump whether he "would authorize torture." Trump responded: "I would absolutely authorize something beyond waterboarding."


Subject: Manny Pacquiao during the opening ceremony of the NCAA Season 87 at the Araneta Coliseum on July 2, 2011 | Date: 07/02/11 |
Photographer: Inboundpass | This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. |

Manny Pacquiao, the eight time world boxing champion, recently said. “Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female. If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals.”

It seems like people are not only more hateful & cruel, but they're more open about it.  One candidate is advocate the torture of suspects.  Another is broadcasting the fact that he wants to take health care away from 17 million Americans. A sports star is publicly quoting the Bible verse Leviticus 20:13, which says that gays should be put to death.

It would be easy to think of this as a mean world.  Yet, while the are mean selfish shallow people in it, a closer look will often reveal a world of kindness, compassion, and generosity.

Real estate moguls, Jordan Menashe, and his father, Barry Menashe, donated part of the second floor of a building they own to be used as a homeless shelter in downtown Portland.

Instead of buying a boat, Marty Burbank, an attorney and Navy veteran, has made a pledge to 26 kindergarten students to fund each student's tuition for two years at community college and two years at a California state school, at an estimated price tag of $1,000,000.

Rich people aren't the only ones making the world a better place either.  62.8 million Americans volunteered 7.9 billion hours of their time last year.  On a personal note, my physical disability makes me dependent on the goodness of truly wonderful people every day.

It's easy to focus on the evil in the world.  We see it, we're shocked by it, and it makes an indelible mark on our psyches.  The good IS out there though, we simply need to pay attention enough to see it.