Now You Know What I Think …

The World, According To Me

Give Fried Chicken a Break…

Ok, I think I might be on thin ice here, but I’m gonna go there anyway…

Recently, Sergio Garcia got in trouble for saying that he would “serve fried chicken” while making a joke about having Tiger Woods over for dinner. I gotta tell you, I’m not that crazy about Sergio Garcia, and I probably have a more favorable view of Tiger Woods than most…

But, that said, I think this has gone on too long, and nobody’s actually put enough thought into differentiating between what I would say are at least two very different kinds of stereotyping.

Take two simple, common examples:

  1. Asians don’t drive well.
  2. African-Americans eat fried chicken.

In my opinion, and I think it should be obvious, these are very different. Example number 1 has a negative connotation to it. It’s not really that it’s negative, it’s that there is any connotation to it at all. Similarly, “African-Americans are better at basketball” has a connotation to it too. There’s a judgement implied. If you think it’s bad to not drive well, or good to be better at basketball, then if you use one of those stereotypes, you are making a judgment of a particular group of people, based on their race. That’s a form of prejudice, and it’s not important whether it’s a “good” opinion or a “bad” one.

However, when saying that “African-Americans eat fried chicken”, you are making no such judgement. Similarly with Jews eating bagels, or Japanese eating Sushi… Nobody really thinks it’s good or bad to eat fried chicken (I guess vegetarians might have an opinion, but that’s not related to race), and I guess eating sushi has connotations, but again that’s not related to race. None of these statements indicate any judgement of the race being stereotyped. I think that makes a big difference.

You hear all the time the opinion, from some, that we’ve become too sensitive to these stereotypical statements, and we should just acknowledge the differences between us and move on. I don’t really agree with that in general. Yes, maybe we’re a little sensitive, but there’s justification when we’re talking about the “bad” stereotypical statements… The ones that imply some kind of judgement. But, there needs to be a distinction.

I don’t believe that Sergio was making any kind of judgement of Tiger’s race. He doesn’t particularly care for Tiger, and wasn’t being nice to him, but that’s his right. But, he wasn’t being racist. He wasn’t saying Tiger is inferior (or superior) because ‘his people’ eat fried chicken. He was just making a joke based on the view that more African-Americans eat fried chicken than other races. If he said to me: “come on over to my house and we’ll serve bagels and lox”, I’d think that was thoughtful. Not the same if he said: “come on over to my house and don’t worry about it, because I won’t charge you for lunch”. That implies a judgement… There needs to be a distinction…

Now you know what I think…

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May 24, 2013 Posted by | racism, sports | Leave a comment

Send Them To Jail!

The recent Prince Fielder / Barry Zito incident is just the latest in a long string of episodes of violent behavior that seems to be ok, because it happens on the Baseball field of play. Here’s a little background on what happened:

In September of 2009, Prince Fielder hit a walkoff HR (a home run in the bottom of the last inning, that ended the game) against Barry Zito (an opposing pitcher). The following season, in a spring training game, during Barry Zito’s next time facing Prince Fielder, Zito hit Fielder with a pitch. After Fielder was hit by the pitch, he picked up the ball and tossed it to the mound and past Zito. There were no words exchanged.

Here are a couple of blogs, one by a major league player, and the other by a major league baseball columnist, describing the incident, and the prevailing baseball opinion on such matters.

Here’s a snippet from the first blog:

Barry Zito did hit Prince Fielder because of the walk–off home run.  But I believe he is sending a message to the league that the Giants care about how the game is played. I also think that Zito is teaching his young pitching staff how to hit a batter.

Here’s a snippet from the second blog:

It’s conceivable Zito was also serving notice to Fielder that the three-run bomb he hit off the Giants lefty isn’t forgotten either… Zito took a step toward being the emotional leader of the staff on Thursday. 

Both of these articles, and actually many many more, don’t even discuss whether this action is appropriate. They are only discussing what the motivation is behind such an act, and whether it will be effective. It is universally agreed, in baseball, even among the victims, that this is an acceptable, and even desirable, form of retaliation for the act of celebrating a home run that won a game.

As always, there are two sides to this issue, so I’ll try to briefly explain what goes on:

Pitchers, on occasion, intentionally throw a baseball at about 90-95 miles per hour, at Batters, with the intention of hitting them.

That’s it, and to me that’s enough to know that it’s wrong. However, there’s more irrelevant explanation needed. So, I’ll go a little deeper. There are basically four reasons that this happens:

  1. The opposing pitcher has previously hit one of “my” Batters.
  2. The Batter has previously shown “me” up.
  3. The Batter has previously had, or is currently having, a very successful day against “me”.
  4. One of the other Batters on the other team has previously shown “me” up.

For some reason, all of these above scenarios seem to be, almost universally in the baseball world, deemed as reason enough to put a person’s life and career in jeopardy. But let’s analyze the actual thought process a little more closely.

What the pitcher is thinking to himself is that if any of the situations above is happening, then he is justified in throwing at the batter. This is the way that Baseball ‘polices’ itself. It is a grievous crime to do any of the four things above, and the accepted way of keeping people in line is to throw a ball at them.

Honestly, think about that for a minute.

This isn’t the case in other sports. In football, if a player scores a touchdown, it’s a major thing. He’s happy. He celebrates. Often, he actually does show up the other players, but really, he’s just celebrating a big accomplishment in his sport of choice. There is not retribution to be expected by the other team, with the possible exception of the other team trying harder to score.

But, actually, it’s even more weird. Baseball is a game where being successful 30% of the time is an exceptional achievement. And, home runs, which are often the predecessor of a player “showing up a pitcher” are even more rare. For instance, a player who hits 30 HRs in a season (about the top 5% of players) will hit one HR about every 5 games or so. A football player who scores 10 Touchdowns in a season (about the top 5% of players) will score one TD about every 1.5 games. So HRs are actually much rarer than Touchdowns. Touchdowns happen a few times every game. Home Runs are much rarer. And, the celebrations for scoring a Touchdown are effusive. Players leap and high-five each other, and sometimes perform some staged appreciation of their happiness. There is, occasionally, a 15 yard penalty assessed against such celebrations, but never is there any thought of retaliation by the other team (with the exception of a new reserve to stop this from happening again).

But, in baseball, often the ‘celebration’ that players point to as “showing up the pitcher” is merely that player standing at the plate and watching his ball go over the fence for a few seconds too long. Pitchers and other players will actually yell at a batter as they are rounding the bases, if they have committed the sin of watching their ball too long. And, a beanball is probably in the near future.

In other sports, the celebration is often even more aggressive. When a basketball player dunks over a defender, the ensuing chest beating and primal scream and staring into the face of the defender is downright intimidating. And dunks happen many times per game. And, they have no bigger impact on a game than any other points. Yet, there is no thought of physical retaliation, beyond the increased incentive to not let it happen again. This is what the reaction should be. If someone does something worthy of celebration, remember it, so that you can use it to fuel your desire to do something worthy of celebration yourself.

Don’t try to hurt the other guy. That’s more than childish, it’s what we teach our children to be better than.

And, it’s actually assault. I don’t know why it’s not considered a crime. Players have been very seriously injured from this kind of retribution. Players’ careers have been ended; their lives never the same. But, baseball players seem to be immune from punishment in this regard.

I think that these pitchers should be held accountable, and charged criminally, for what is essentially a criminal act.

Now you know what I think…

August 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Are We The World?

I enjoy watching the olympics… At least the events that I consider sports (but that’s another blog for another time)…

However, with this current, Winter Olympics coverage came the promotion of the new “We Are The World – 25”.

While the cause is a very good one, the video got me thinking about the “old” one. So, I found it, and watched it, and WOW… Really… The original one was REALLY great. It got a little misty for a while…

EVERY major superstar of the time was in it. And, they all seemed to care. And they cooperated so well. When I first saw the “new” one, at the beginning, I actually said out loud that it seemed like none of the performers had met. It looked like they filmed it separately, until the group scenes. Not so, at all, for the “original”. Give them both a peek, and compare for yourself.

Here’s a link to the 2010 version, and here’s a link to the original.

Contribution information is included at the end, if you’re interested.

Also, while looking around, I came across this video of Michael Jackson doing his part for the original. I found it fascinating.

Now you know what I think…

February 14, 2010 Posted by | Michael Jackson | Leave a comment

I Told You So…

Everyone hates someone who says “I told you so”. It seems that there’s really no disagreement on that. Saying “I told you so” is wrong. That’s it…

Well, I disagree.

I think there are two kinds of “I told you so’s”, and there should definitely be a distinction. One is bad, and one is not so bad, and can be used for good in the raising of a child.

The type that we’re most familiar with is in a situation where Person A is deciding on a course of action, and runs his choice by Person B. Person B offers advice in favor of Choice #1, but Person A still chooses Choice #2. Choice #2 turns out to be a disaster, and Person B is in position to say “I told you so”. We’ve seen it a million times. Person B is deriving pleasure from Person A’s failure, and rubbing his/her face in it. Person A has lost, and Person B is claiming that he/she could have changed the result, if only Person A would have listened. We should shoot Person B in this case…

However, what about this slightly different scenario? Person A is still deciding, and Person B offers advice in favor of Choice #1 (just as above). Let’s say that Person A takes this advice and goes with Choice #1. Let’s also say that Choice #1 turns out GREAT. Person B is then in position to say “I told you so”. However, in this scenario, it’s a “good” kind of “I told you so”. Nobody is relishing in another’s failure. Nobody is beating anyone down. Person B is just taking credit for having a hand in a POSITIVE decision. If it is done nicely, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. Both Persons could, conceivably, high-five over their joint effort, and rejoice in a decision gone right.

I find that this comes up frequently during child rearing. Children don’t know what the heck they are doing, and parents give advice all the time (whether asked for or not). I feel it’s fine to give advice, and then have it not taken, but it’s terrible to “kick the kid while he/she’s down”, if things go wrong. However, if advice is taken, and things go right, it’s a great bonding situation, and also builds trust between the child and the parent. And, if gently reminded (as in “I knew that was going to work”) the child might be more likely to take the advice of the parent in the future. Hopefully, that’s for the better.

Now you know what I think…

February 5, 2010 Posted by | Children | | Leave a comment

What The Heck’s Wrong with “Enhancement”?

OK, so I think I’ll be pretty far from the main stream opinion here, but…

I really don’t get the distinction that most people are making between “Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs)” and other things that have been created by the last few generations, that enhance performance.

For the purpose of this article, we will have to accept that PEDs work. By this, I mean that they do, indeed, allow a user to get bigger, stronger, and faster than a user could reasonably get without using them. I’m not absolutely sure that this is the case, but we have to start somewhere.

The major arguments against PEDs being legal for use in sports seem to be that:

  1. They offer an unfair advantage, and thus performance across eras cannot be compared.
  2. They pose a health risk for the user.
  3. The use by some players will cascade, with other players using to “keep up”.
  4. The use by “role models” will influence youngsters to use.

Let’s talk about number 2 first. RIDICULOUS!!! We have 300+ lb football players banging into each other for our amusement. We don’t care that most of them can’t walk when they leave the game. And many of them suffer brain injuries that have a comparable effect to Alzheimer’s Disease. I haven’t seen anything that says the risks of using steroids rivals that. And in other sports, people die for our amusement. How can we say that steroid use in baseball is more dangerous for the user than just getting into a boxing ring? Or racing cars? We’re not outlawing these events. The health risk to the user is an absolute red herring here, and I refuse to discuss it more. Yeah, fine, it’s a slight health risk. So is everything. The uproar is NOT because this is a health risk. We let people smoke cigarettes, for goodness sake!!!

Conversely, points number 3 and 4 above seem to be absolutely true. I’m sure that some “clean” players look upon “dirty” players and see how successful they are, and decide that they need to do something to “keep up”. I’m equally sure that some children see their role models using PEDs, and decide that that’s the way to excel at a particular sport, and begin using themselves. I don’t really think we need to discuss this anymore. It seems pretty obvious to me. However, the uproar is not because of these issues either. We don’t really care about the players who can’t keep up, because they’re clean. And, hopefully we realize that we have to teach our children what is right and what is wrong, regardless of whether famous people do things or not.

So, we get to the crux of the issue: that PEDs mess up the “integrity” of the games, because we can no longer compare talent across eras, and thus must put the dreaded asterisk next to names throughout the record books.

Here’s the thing… WE ALREADY CAN’T COMPARE TALENT ACROSS ERAS!!! Aspirin became widely available around 1915. Before that, Babe Ruth had to play with his hangover, or miss the game. Advil came around in like 1969. All the players before that didn’t have those benefits. Arthroscopic surgeries… Some great players had careers cut short by knee injuries that would only have them miss a few weeks nowadays. We know so much more about the body now. We have (legal) supplements that those old-time players couldn’t even dream of. We have weight machines that they would look at as out of science fiction stories. Old time players SMOKED CIGARETTES IN THE DUGOUT. Are you kidding me? They didn’t know that it affected their play. How much better could they have been?

So, why don’t we consider Aspirin, Advil, Arthroscopic surgeries and the like to be “enhancements”? I don’t know.

But, I’ve left the biggest for last. And this one is the one that really boggles my mind. Imagine how many players could have benefitted from this… LASIK eye surgery. We can now ENHANCE peoples’ vision. How can that be ok, but drugs that allow you to heal from an injury faster are not ok? Is it just that these are “drugs”? Would it be ok if players could be operated on and have bionic arms put on? Why is it ok to have an operation that improves your eyesight? I don’t know.

Oh, one other thought… If someone came to you and told you that there was a drug that would make you better at your job, which would enable you to shoot to the top of your particular industry, and would have the same perceived drawbacks that PEDs have, wouldn’t it be ridiculous for people to say “that’s not fair”? I mean, if it made you a better accountant, would anyone object? Would you think anyone should have the right to object? How could anyone tell you that even though the technology exists for you to become better at your livelihood, you can’t use it because it wouldn’t be fair? This would be ridiculous.

We like to see athletes compete at the highest levels. They are adults. They should be able to make choices for themselves, and if they want to use a drug that enables them to work harder to become the best they can be, then I think they should be allowed to do so. I think that all of the things mentioned above are enhancements that can be expected, due to society’s progress, scientifically. PEDs are just the latest sign of “progress”.

Now you know what I think…

February 3, 2010 Posted by | Performance Enhancing Drugs | , , , | 1 Comment

How Old Is Your Plane?

I’m concerned. It seems like common sense to me. I don’t get why others aren’t concerned. I’ve had eyes rolled at me for years whenever I bring this up, but I never had a blog before, so here goes…

Airplanes are old. And, it’s a new kind of old. We don’t really know how long a plane should last. It’s kind of new territory.

If a car gets old, and breaks down, that’s it. It breaks down. This is inconvenient, but not usually life threatening. If a plane has a mechanical issue, it’s likely to be found way up there. That’s trouble.

Today, this cnn.com article appeared, which is the first mention that I’ve seen, other than myself. Here are a couple of sentences:

The average age of the fleet of the seven large U.S. passenger airlines — including American, Alaska, Continental, the merged Delta and Northwest, Southwest, United and US Airways — is about 14 years old, according to The Airline Monitor.

It found American and Delta/Northwest had the oldest fleets, at about 16 years on average. As of the end of 2008, a small percentage of the merged Delta/Northwest’s planes dated back to the late 1960s.

I’ve got a 14-year-old car, and for the last 6 years or so, it’s been our “spare”. It doesn’t get driven much. But, if I had to depend on it, that would be a problem. The late 1960s??? Are you kidding me?

The article says that these planes are very well cared for and that the plane might be old, but the engines might have been replaced this year… MIGHT???

You can’t really compare planes to your car. Your car (probably) isn’t a commercial vehicle. However, taxis don’t last very long. According to this document, taxis must be replaced, by law, every 5 years (in NY). Why such a difference? It seems to me that the laws should be MORE stringent for planes. What am I not getting?

I think that it’s just a matter of time before a series of maintenance-related crashes happen.

Now you know what I think…

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Airplanes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment