Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Little League Baseball: Why "Just Have Fun" Is Just Lame

Winning is fun, and it's a worthwhile goal, especially when it results from practicing
 and playing hard. And it's always fun getting your name on the back. Photo courtesy epr Marketing.
I was waiting to get an x-ray in the doctor's office and started talking with someone else who was waiting for an x-ray. Then my son started talking about baseball and little league and how excited he was about playing and getting his name on the back of his uniform. That's when the nice lady said to him, "Just have fun." I haven't stopped thinking about that. That's the standard line among people who are afraid that either their kids might take winning too seriously or the parents might take winning too seriously.

I remember what it was like playing little league and I know that it's more fun to win than to lose. It's more fun to catch the ball and have your teammates run over and give you high fives than it is to drop the ball. It's more fun to hit the ball and help the team win than it is to strikeout. In fact, striking out, dropping fly balls and throwing the ball away are no fun at all and kids know it’s no fun. There’s no reason to tell them it doesn’t matter if they caught the ball or not – it matters to the kids - even to the ones counting dandelions in the outfield.

Hitting, catching and throwing well, especially well enough to do it in a game situation,
require practice. This is the part the "Just have fun" crowd has trouble grasping. Of course, parents should not be overly pushy about practice, but kids who like and want to play baseball (or any sport) will have fun practicing if practice time is designed to be fun. And they will enjoy upgrading their skills, they will enjoy the process of improvement and take pride in their achievements as they catch better, throw farther and straighter and hit the ball farther and more often. That's what makes it fun. And it's that internal reward for hard work that feels even more fun than winning, yet it also contributes to winning the game.

Kids who want to excel and win aren’t being helped when adults belittle their hard work and commitment to playing their best by suggesting that just having fun is somehow a more worthy goal than playing hard and winning - as if winning is unworthy of their efforts. In fact, there may be nothing more fun in sports than when you practice, play hard and win - and nothing more important than learning that sometimes you practice, play hard and lose anyway.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Parkland School Shooting Demands We Ask the Right Questions of Police, FBI

Following the Parkland school mass shooting, people seem very comfortable with the idea of a world where the only people entrusted with the right to use firearms are police officers. Everyone else would be disarmed and largely defenseless. It's an idea
worth exploring. Remember that many of these police officers are the same people who

If everyone is to be unarmed in this world except the police, then are these really the people we want to entrust with firearms? And, btw, the police aren't even legally responsible to protect anyone from anything per these court cases.

Then who is legally responsible for protecting our families? We are. Statistics suggest it's folly to think protection is at the other end of a 9-1-1 call. The average response time is 10 minutes (one hour in several cities). That's just enough time for the burglars to kill everyone, load up the truck with the new flatscreen, have a beer and get away unnoticed and unharmed. In other incidents, police officers responding to 9-1-1 calls arrived on the scene only to shoot the innocent people who called 9-1-1 in the first place.

We all have a natural right to protect ourselves in nearly any way we deem necessary along with a Constitutional right to own firearms. If the idea of a gun-free world relies on the police for safety and protection, and the seemingly incompetent FBI to catch the crooks after the fact, then I'll keep my right to bear arms, thank you.

From a review of a number of police interactions with ordinary American citizens, it's clear that many of today's police officers operate as hostile aggressors as standard procedure. In fact, police officers murder about 1,000 people in America per year with their firearms, and they shoot another 3,000 or so more people per year who survive the shooting. Then there are the growing number of cases where police officers rape women at ordinary traffic stops.

And these police officers are largely unaccountable. Of cases where police officers were charged with a crime, nearly every one of them has been acquitted. It's easy to demand that people with mental illness need to be barred from owning firearms but maybe we need to ask if it's really the police officers who need to be disarmed. In exploring a world where police officers are to be given a legalized monopoly on firearms when they already enjoy nearly 100% immunity from the law, what mechanism would check their increasingly brutal abuse against ordinary Americans from becoming standard procedure?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

NFL Football Ratings Drop: It's Not Colin Kaepernick's Fault

When the TV ratings for NFL football dropped rather suddenly, nearly everyone in the media who covered football pointed to Colin Kaepernick and the many players who refused to stand for the national anthem. I don't doubt that many fans who were turned off by these protests then turned off their TV sets. And let's not overlook Ray Rice and the parade of domestic abuse incidents that preceded the player protests. But these aren't the only reasons or even the most important reasons for the ratings decline. The most important reason strikes at the very heart of what makes sports so entertaining and uplifting. It's that many lifelong fans have begun to openly question the integrity of the game. There are simply too many ridiculous penalties and other baffling calls and non-calls to keep dismissing them as inconsistent officiating.

In this year's playoffs, for just one example, the Chiefs' Derrick Johnson sacked the Titans' Marcus Mariota for a game-changing fumble recovery (see it here)- only the league assured us it was neither a sack nor a fumble and awarded both the ball and forward progress as a runner to Mariota as if we hadn't just watched the play with our own eyes. At least one call like this happens every week. The refs seem to drop a flag almost every other play then conference with each other to decide on which team to call the penalty. Or, if the league likes the outcome of the play, the flag is picked up and there's no foul called on the play.

Pass interference is enforced so differently from game to game that it seems it can be called almost anytime a big chunk play or a first down is needed. On most of these calls, it seems both the receiver and the defensive back could be called for the penalty - or maybe neither of them - since no one seems sure of what is pass interference and what isn't. See this call penalizing the defensive back for elite level coverage.

Just as no one seems to know how to assess pass interference, no one knows when a catch is a catch. The written rule seems to change almost every year. What's a football move? How long do you have to hold the ball after obviously catching it for it to be a catch? What if the point of the ball grazes a blade of grass? Dez Bryant made this spectacular catch to beat the Packers in the playoffs - only the league assured us he really didn't as if we didn't see it with our own eyes. Since replays and challenges were added, the league seems to want as many calls determined in New York as possible to ensure there's always an opportunity to achieve a desired outcome. But penalties can't be challenged. Until coaches can challenge penalties, it will be difficult to believe the league is focused on determining the rightful call.

As a Steelers fan, I can't help but mention one of the more outrageous examples of strange officiating ever seen in any sport. I'm referring to the overtime coin toss when Jerome Bettis said "tails" and the ref insisted he'd said heads, giving the ball to Detroit. Then the Lions won the game. Listen for yourself here.

Then there's the famous play that started the Tom Brady era. In the 2001 playoffs, when the Raiders' Charles Woodson forced a fumble from the Patriots' quarterback and the Raiders recovered, I simply thought the refs made a dumb call, ruling Brady's pump fake and fumble was really just an incomplete pass under the so-called tuck rule (did that rule even exist before that play?). But given the overwhelming amount of miscalls, missed calls and blatantly biased calls I've seen in the years since, it's hard to watch the tuck rule play today and think anything other than the Raiders were being screwed. If the league really did want the Patriots to win, or just wanted to keep the game close, then how can we watch Super Bowl LII or any NFL game without feeling as if we're being duped the entire time? It's certainly not scripted to the point of WWE wrestling, but it's become difficult to be sure it's 100 percent sport.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Republicans Celebrate Saving Obamacare

I was interviewed today by a CNBC reporter about repealing Obamacare and replacing it with the American Healthcare Act, a.k.a. Trumpcare. Since few people had time to actually read the bill before the vote and there was no real debate in the House, and the only debates on the news occurred after the fact, I thought it worth sharing these points from our conversation:

Members of Congress are still exempt so that says a lot about how great this plan is going to be for the American people.

There seem to be a number of items in the bill funneling federal tax money to the states so the states can decide how to use the money. If ever there was an inefficient system that can only promote waste and abuse, this is it. Instead of the federal government taking our money and giving some to the states to make our healthcare decisions for us, how about we just keep our money and use it to to pay our doctors?

The new bill does not repeal Obamacare. It does not remove the individual mandate that forces us to pay for healthcare whether we want it or not. The president and the republican party have proven they are entirely without principles. The republicans like to talk about free markets during the election but they never follow through once in office. The republicans have caved in and accepted the basic premise of Obamacare that the government can force us to buy anything they want us to buy.

We don't have a two-party system, we have a one party system and everyone's invited - except the American people who pay for the party.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Top 5 Twilight Zone Episodes for a Trump Administration

President Donald Trump sounds to many Americans as if they've entered the Twilight Zone. From fake news to racism and the plight of displaced factory workers, here are the five best Twilight Zone episodes to watch during a Trump presidency:
"Spock, do sensors read Donald Trump on the wing?"
Photo: Democratic Underground

“Devil's Printer” – A failing newspaper owner can't make any money objectively covering the news so the owner makes a deal with Burgess Meredith - except he's the Devil in this episode. Together, they create the news, break the news and control the news.

“To Serve Man” – Do you read the whole article before sharing online or just the headline? Can you trust the author? Aliens come to Earth offering to end hunger and disease out of the goodness of their hearts but it turns out they're really interested in the goodness of Earthlings in their bellies. If only people had taken the time to check the source and read the whole text beyond the headline.

“He's Alive” – Dennis Hopper preaches a particular brand of hate as a budding politician with support from a mentor who turns out to be none other than Hitler. Sometimes a politician's personal charm becomes more important to voters than their policies and the people suffer.

“Brain Center at Whipple's” – A manufacturer replaces his workers with a "totally automated machine" in the name of productivity. In one of Rod Serling's preachiest scripts, he makes a better case for humans versus robots than the AFL-CIO ever did. But that still won't bring back jobs from China and few in the media are pointing out the role of automation in job loss while the focus is on trade deals and unpatriotic business execs.

“The Whole Truth – A used car salesman tries to sell a car that forces him to tell the truth. He can't control what alternative facts come out of his mouth or hide what's wrong with the car. If only he'd had Twitter.

Watch them on Hulu here.

Friday, January 20, 2017

15 Reasons to Protest That Have Nothing to do with Trump

It's great to see so many Americans angry enough to take time from their lives to protest in the streets. Since smashing windows, setting fires and yelling, "F-Trump" doesn't seem like a very effective form of protest, I scribbled this list of a few pressing issues that not only are worth
We have many reasons to protest that are unrelated to Trump. Photo: Variety
protesting but if the protests were successful in sparking government action then the world would be a better place. Here are some issues worth protesting, in no particular order, feel free to add others in the comments:

1. We've been at war non-stop since we needlessly invaded Iraq and thousands of innocent people have been killed in our name with insane amounts of our tax money

2. The Internet was developed with our taxes yet its control was quietly given away to the United Nations

3. 3,500 infants die each year from SIDS, according to the CDC. Really? Healthy babies just suddenly die for no reason?

4. Bankers and other financial criminals continue to engage in illegal, fraudulent activities yet rarely go to jail and when caught, any fines are paid by our own taxes

5. Police brutality and outright murder, racially motivated and otherwise, continue, along with secret locations for "questioning"

6. Ordinary Americans are subjected to abuse, theft and destruction of property at the hands of the USDA, EPA, BLM and other gov't agencies

7. The DNC Wikileaks “leak” revealed Citigroup chose the cabinet for the previous president

8. Federal housing policy keeps poor people poor and is largely racist in nature

9. The surveillance state monitors much of our activity 24/7 in violation of the Constitution and the information was very recently allowed to be shared throughout the federal gov't

10. "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press," yet we're restricted by many laws that abridge our right to free speech and the free press is under siege. There's no such thing as a free speech zone – the entire country is already a free speech zone

11. The death tax continues to take our money that had already been taxed as income – this tax continues to destroy family farms and other family businesses

12. The gov't takes billions of our dollars via taxes and gives it to corrupt dictators around the world while being entirely indifferent to the thousands upon thousands of homeless people on our own streets

13. The federal reserve banking cartel has no legal right to decide the interest rate on loans or to create our currency - 1913 Act entirely unconstitutional 

14. The federal gov't has no legal or natural right to take our money via income tax

15. We're still subject to unconstitutional stop and frisk

And the last reason to protest that's more legitimate than shouting "F Trump":

16. NFL coaches still can't challenge penalties

Saturday, March 12, 2016

When the president gets a death button part II

There is no joy in typing "I told ya' so" but the Pentagon admitted this week that its drones are being used to monitor Americans over U.S. soil, and that this has been going on for more than a year. It's been almost four years since the FAA approved drone flights over U.S. soil and almost five years since I
Somalia Pentagon drone strikes to hit American soil?
wrote about it here. The Pentagon also claims it used its drones to murder 150 people in Somalia this week. It's bad enough we're killing people overseas without any declaration of war but every American has to be alarmed at the thought that the government will soon use drones to murder us on our own soil. Sure, there will be a fine excuse to do so: "He's a terrorist!", "He stole a car!", "He had a gun!", "He bounced a check!"

If this seemed outlandish four or five years ago then you had too much faith in the benevolence of our federal government. If it still seems outlandish today then you're just not paying attention.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Presidential Election Getting Too Much Attention?

We call the president the leader of the free world. We're outraged the next president will either be even worse than Obama or will nullify his eight years of change. There's panic over the presidential election of 2016, as if the winner will wield such power over our lives that we must live or die with every change in the polls and prepare to flee the country if the wrong candidate wins. What if the
Republican or democrat, the policies are largely the same.
president doesn't wield so much power? What if he's merely the face of the powerful interests that truly wield the power over our lives? Would it still matter so much who lives in the White House?

Our government has become so pervasive and bloated that one person, a president, with barely two or three years to rule before facing re-election, can hardly take any real control over the many organizations that truly run the country and influence global politics from behind the scenes. The Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, the Federal Reserve private bank cartel and other organizations enact their own, self-serving policies at taxpayer expense, often in conflict with the stated policies of a presidential administration - and nearly always against the interests of the American people. If a president refuses to go along, these organizations can simply bide their time until the next election. John F. Kennedy, for example, when he tried to fire CIA Director William Donovan after the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, was famously told, "You can't fire me, you don't even know who I work for!" Presidents come and go but the bureaucracy lives on. In the decades since the JFK assassination, these interests have only become more entrenched.

If we consider the policies the two democratic candidates would like to implement from the Oval Office, the policies are largely the same. If we consider the policies the remaining republican candidates would like to implement, they, too, are largely the same. The differences are often just semantics. All support some type of amnesty for illegal immigrants, the difference is only in the implementation. All essentially support the same economic policies of the Obama administration. They mention Obamacare but none truly want to let the free market into the conversation. What's different? Just the Great Wall of Trump and Ted Cruz in the role as the faux Constitutionalist? So, not much - certainly not enough to alarm the leadership running the drug trade at the CIA.

Everyone left on the stage for both major parties supports a continuation of perpetual war, inflating the money supply and the ongoing takeover of America by the federal government. Maybe the person we elect to occupy the Oval Office in 2016 isn't as important as we're led to believe.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Don't wait for government to solve problems

Ask people what words best describe our Congressmen and other political officials and many would say, "corrupt", "crook", "thief", for just a few examples. Yet many of these people when faced with a challenge of any kind turn first to the same corrupt, thieving crooks for solutions to problems large and small. Meanwhile, history demonstrates that we don't need government to come up with solutions to our problems.

Consider how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came to pass. High school history textbooks present the federal government as the hero that righted the wrongs of Civil War reconstruction. But did the federal government really lead the charge? How did the Supreme Court act in defense of American minorities? Famously, the Supreme Court formally legalized prejudice and discrimination with its "separate but equal" ruling. The only reason there's a Civil Rights Act of 1964 is because the American people decided to take action and right the wrongs that government officials had allowed to go on for a century.

Ordinary Americans devoted their time and energy to solve the problem on their own. Once the groundswell of energy was in motion, government finally reacted to the will of the people - though not before violently fighting against this rightful change. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 only put into law what the American people had already demanded.

How about drunk driving laws? How did they come to pass? Government officials paid very little attention to drunk driving. In fact, there was an unwritten, unspoken acceptance among government, the beverage industry and the automotive industry - until a mom named Candace Lightner founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) when her 13-year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver. Ms. Lightner first presented the idea that drunk driving was a problem, then created a groundswell of public support to put an end to drunk driving. Once government officials recognized it as a popular issue, they scrambled to get on board and pass a variety of laws against drunk driving. This one, ordinary American began to solve the problem. Government only reacted to what the American people had already demanded.
President Woodrow Wilson was among the many government officials who fought against allowing women to vote.

And how did women get the right to vote? Women's suffrage wasn't in the Constitution and government officials did nothing to help women get the right to vote. In New Jersey, in fact, women actually had the right to vote and in 1807, government officials took it away. It wasn't until the 1830's when women began entering the workforce in greater numbers and recognized they deserved the right to vote and started agitating and becoming vocal about voting that any real progress occurred. In 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized a conference on womens' rights. It was Stanton who persuaded Susan B. Anthony to get on board. They created the groundswell of support. Then state government officials reacted by passing laws. Yet the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote didn't pass until 1920 and only overcame the resistance of government because World War I necessitated the support of the many women who joined the workforce during the war.

Clearly, it makes little sense to look to or wait for government to solve our problems. Unfortunately, many people in government prefer to exploit our problems for their own benefit and their involvement often worsens a situation. As people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Candace Lightner and Elizabeth Cady Stanton have proven, the most effective solutions come from us, from we, the people.

Today, many doctors across the country, for example, have decided to offer their services on a retainer basis to survive post-Obamacare. In Missouri and Michigan, the government responded to the will of the people by passing laws stating these medical retainer agreements, which have proven to cut costs and promote patient health, may continue unfettered by insurance regulations. Disgusted by the public school system? Scores of ordinary Americans have started charter schools and thousands upon thousands of others now homeschool their children. While the public education system works hard to discredit and control this traditional method of education, many government bodies and boards of education have reacted to this movement by passing laws offering educational flexibility that aim to keep these students - and the funding they bring - in the system. Ready to push back against the rise of the police state? Former U.S. Army paratrooper Stewart Rhodes founded Oathkeepers to defend the Constitution and prevent government officials from destroying the freedoms that allowed America to grow and prosper.

Now, if the thieving, corrupt crooks in government would please just get out of our way, then we, the people are ready to prosper.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Open Enrollment Period for Food Shopping?

During the 90-day period starting November 1st, 2015, we get to select one supermarket where we'll be permitted to buy food for our families for the year ending 2016. It must be located in the state where we live. Be sure to select carefully because no other supermarket will be legally allowed to sell us any food until the following year when the next open enrollment period starts. I sure hope the supermarket I select doesn't jack up the prices and pay less attention to product quality and service knowing that we're only allowed to buy food in one supermarket.

Sure, this seems incredibly ridiculous and who would tolerate such a decree from the federal government or from a supermarket cartel, if one were to exist. Yet we not only tolerate it when it comes to healthcare but some people even rejoice at having their choices restricted by just such a decree pushed with the support of the healthcare cartel.

Just because the media has stopped hyping the pros and cons of Obamacare doesn't mean anything has been resolved or that we have to stop trying to fix the healthcare crisis. November 1st, 2015 doesn't mark the start of the 90-day open enrollment period for food shopping, though someday, it might. It does mark the start of the 90-day period when we're granted the privilege of switching from a horrible healthcare plan to a truly horrific healthcare plan.

For a doctor's perspective, click here.
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