It seems pretty clear that there is no way to play football without really awful damage to the humans playing the game. We always have been aware that most NFL players spend their retirement in pain, often crippled with orthopedic injuries.It's now clear that they are also living with severe brain injuries. I can't remember most of the stats I've heard but one is that NFL players have four times the rates of ALS and altzheimers of the general population. There are many other bad outcomes and evidence that it does not require a concussion to cause damage.Football looks to me like this: We are paying grown men to destroy themselves of the field of valor. For our entertainment, we hire young men to go on a field and ruin their bodies and minds. That sort of makes me sick but, I also have a lot of resentment about their whole culture and also am sort of glad to find out that these arrogant, exulted, dimwitted heroes are getting their just deserts.But then I remember this: Football is the most popular participatory sport by a huge margin. It is played by children and they are getting injured, too. Not only are there the obvious injuries of the occasional child who blows out a knee in high school but, much more importantly, they are banging their tender young brains viciously. Youth football programs are run by amateurs. They do not have money for good equipment. The players do not have experience to protect themselves.THey actually do get lots of concussions and they get even more sub-concussive smacks on the head whose danger is not well understaood but is thought to be a really bad thing, at least as the number of incidents mounts.And they are doing it because, in most of the homes in America, people paying their cable provider big bucks (another reason to hate the NFL) so they can watch young men destroy themselves and call them heroes. Fathers excitedly talking to their sons about the admirable qualities of these players.Imagine if we had a culture where families were watching porn together and telling their daughters that the porn star women were amazingly awesome heroes. If we exulted in their amazing physical performance, their courage in taking on a dozen men, they incredible determination to rise to the peak of their sport. Imagine if we had a culture where we were making heroes of women who were intentionally destroying themselves.Nobody can doubt that I am basically disgusted by just about everything in modern American culture. From the way people drive to the environment to the fact that we put up with advertising on everything, I think we are idiots and have created a cesspool to live in so I admit I have a jaundiced view.But I don't think I am being too extreme in thinking that we are doing a terrible thing by supporting an industry of gladiators with a national network that recruits children at a very young age to strive to prove their prowess and willingness to sacrifice so they can reach the ultimate goal of entertaining us by ruining their bodies and their minds.
When I was young and stupid, I often said that the only reasonable objection to gun control was that someday we might need to shoot the cops. If I had been saying this when I was five years old in the fifties, I might have been right. To say it today is just plain wrong.We are long, long past the time when guns are useful in defending yourself against the government. If the government wants to screw you, they will hop onto their computer terminal and type, Fuck You. If they want you in a prison camp, they will shut down your grocery store and put a trail of Froot Loops leading into the cell. Sure, somebody will hunt rabbits to avoid the camp but if you have kids, you'll do what you have to to feed them.Oh! you say, you'd hunt if only we hadn't taken your gun. Well, how long do you think it would take Chicago to be stripped of all animals, down to the rats, if the grocery stores were gone? I live in semi-rural Minnesota and am 100% sure that the local ecology would support us for a couple of months at most. But, if you don't believe that, then they can turn off the gas and freeze you out in the winter. The trees on my property would keep me warm for a year but, it would be a really tough year. Year two would be a double bitch.Tens of thousands of people are harmed every year using guns justified, at least in this context, by the microscopic possibility that those guns might someday be useful in securing freedom. Trading year after year of tens of thousands of people's lives and even more are are harmed for something that is a bizarrely rare possibility (we are not living in the Sudan) and is even less likely to be remedied by guns (technological society has much, much more effective means of tyranny than violence) is the epitome of foolishness and cruelty.
Though I make no comparison between the two events beyond the fact that they are brutal, national traumas, in World War Two, America made a decision to undergo desperate hardships. We did it and emerged stronger and better. Obviously the stakes are completely different but we have allowed the Republican radicals to destroy our ability to work on problems and it is time to make a decision that we have the will and toughness to change the course of history.
Since Newt Gingrich invented the new regime in 1994, Republicans have stopped voting as individuals adhering instead to a political principal where they act as a bloc to impose their will on the country. Through a combination of intimidation, ideology and increasingly radical conservatism, they have paralyzed our country.
Now, we cannot we tap our national home equity loan to cover our bills (debt limit, in case I'm too obscure), but we can't be intelligent about the deficit, the environment, energy, national security, healthcare, infrastructure or anything else. These are crucial issues, some of which, the environment, at least, are truly apocalyptic. I suspect that the President realizes that we are at a decisive moment. Listening to his tone about the debt limit ("I will *not* negotiate about the debt limit."), he seems to realize that the real "hopey, changey thing" he has been elected for is to use his historic second term popularity to put an end to this. It will be awful if the worst happens but I will support the President cheerfully as he refuses to compromise in a way that validates or capitulates to Republican coercsion. It is my expectation that the ensuing hard times will cause the electorate to understand that politics is not a game and reject the childish arrogance of the Republican lunatics. I believe that, if they force us into recession, default on our debts, and more, that each Republican vote against extending unemployment benefits, stimulus, etc, will be a nail in a Tea Bagger coffin. I expect that the next election will restore respect for the value of compromise and a realization that the government is the tool Americans use to work together to make our lives better.
"Do you think I turned into a different person who wants to hurt people or subvert their civil rights? Well, I didn't. You know how I used to completely agree with you about drones? Well, not any more. The reason is that I got into office and found out what is really going on."The things liberals and progressive people are complaining about are things that I complain about every day in meetings. Here's the thing: if you knew what I know, you would be very grateful we are able to mount the national security regime I have implemented. "It's been reported that I personally judge to whom we apply the rules of the battlefield. That's exactly true. You can rest assured that I am sickened every time I hear about a death, especially unintended victims on both sides. You can also trust that I sincerely try to figure out how to deal with things that can't be revealed. If a mistake is made, it's on my head alone and I take that seriously."In the end I hope you will realize that the difference between then and now is that I know a lot about what's really happening in the world. If you make me actually explain about that in a way that would allow the public to make an informed decision, it would be very bad. I would still act as I now do, even at risk of the destruction of my reputation, ife or career. "I ask for your support, and right now I am speaking especially to people on the left that have known me for a long time. You know I am not like George Bush. You can trust that I have managed this national security regime according to principle. The place where you need to trust me is when I say, Please, don't make it harder for me to do an already brutal job. It is necessary."
America is trying to come to grips with this election. There seems to be a more bitter, harsh divide between the partisans of the candidates than ever before. Each side is convinced that the world is going to end if their man loses. Of course, it's really something that's been going on for a long time.On Salon.com, a guy named Andrew O'Hehir addressed the problem. He thinks that it goes back to some fundamental visions of the role of the country and the loss of power by white people in a world where everyone is increasingly not-white. Everything the guy says, is true but it misses the point. (Check it out here: http://j.mp/S9uI3i ) He correctly emphasizes the intractability of these issues and the dangerous divide that results but I think he misses a deeper reason for our schism.
I think this divide is based on the fact that we actually have two kinds of human beings trying to coexist. By this I mean physical difference that enforces two different ways of processing reality. It is a neurological difference that I am increasingly convinced is as concrete and significant as schizophrenia.On the one side are people who have the power of conviction. Whatever lump of meat inside their brains that causes the sensation of faith is highly developed. Along with that faith is a reverence for ideals, of right and wrong, of economics, of social policy, and so on. These ideals are introduced into their lives at an early age and act as seed crystals to organize their observations into a worldview. On the other side are people in whom this lump of meat is diminutive. These are people who question everything and, based on their observations, make up stories to explain why things are as they are. From this imagination, ideals emerge. Conversations about them become observations to other people and those observations become the basis of other stories. Similarities in the stories are upheld as ideals but they are always provisional. New information is able to upset the worldview of these people at any time.The former, faithful, people resist changes to their worldview because 'ideal' is ideal. Once an ideal is included in the canon, subsequent information exists only to confirm the value of the ideal. Satisfaction and beauty are associated with things and ideas that fit closer to the ideals. This sensation is not subject to analysis and is adequate to establish the correct interpretation of new observations. It is what Stephen Colbert refers to as his "gut."Those other folks, let's stop being coy and call them liberals, are very successful in science and art, enterprises that depend on the ability to open-mindedly synthesize new realities in response to new observations. The other folks, hereafter known as conservatives, excel where consistency of purpose and the ability to prioritize are valuable. Business people tend to be conservative because they are able to ignore the complications they face because they are able to apply their highly developed skill at faith to themselves. This allows them to fearlessly assert authority, take risks and ignore secondary consequences of their actions.Both kinds of people are useful in various contexts. The challenge is that, as with the changing successfulness of women relative to men, reality is starting to make some preferences known. Just as society no longer really needs very many large, muscular, violent men (as it did in days of yore), it has less need for people who can go off into the wilderness armed with little more than their faith in their own rightness and the ability to ignore the fact that there are bears, or children at home that need care.I don't know how we reconcile these two but I do think it's a mistake to conceive the difference based on beliefs or insecurity. Sure, the white guys are feeling a little put upon as they realize that the brown guys are more numerous and that sheer whiteness doesn't really buy much once you are competing on an equal footing but, that's momentary. A hundred years from now, everyone will be coffee colored and gay and no one will care.What will not change is that, now that we can select our mates from the entire population (rather than just those within walking distance of our log cabin), people are choosing mates based on the similarity of their brain meat. Of course, they *think* it's because they share faith, or an interest in history, or curiosity or whatever, but increasingly, people choose mates who have an equal ability to have faith or to approach the world as a tabula rasa. That is, conservatives marry conservatives and engender purebred conservatives. Liberals do it, too.This is potentially a Neanderthal vs Homo Sapiens sort of conflict. I don't have any idea how we solve it but I do know it's not really about abortion, the environment or racism. It's about what kinds of people we are and it's very frightening.
I am listening to the ex-CEO of Acorn. She is describing the quality control process Acorn used. They reviewed the registrations and handed them in with an audit list. It flagged ones they thought were suspicious, eg, Mickey Mouse.They did it this way to avoid having themselves be involved in discarding registrations but also to make sure the secretaries of state were aware. The 'scandal' that forced them out of business was based on registrations that they flagged. It was utterly fictitious bullshit propagated by Republicans to hamper voter registration among the poor and black people served by Acorn.That's enough reason to hate Republicans but, it gets worse. This year the Republican National Committee wanted to do voter registration. They turned to their usual guy, Nathan Sproul, but, since he had long been known for cheating on registration, THEY ASKED HIM TO CHANGE HIS CORPORATE NAME so that no one would know it was the same guy who cheated last time.Then, he did it again. In several states his registrars turned away Democrats, registered people to fictitious addresses and threw away Democratic registrations. Unlike Acorn, this guy had no quality control process to flag bad registrations, nor did they take care to avoid throwing out registrations. Instead, it was left to the secretaries of state and outside activists to figure it out. Did the Republican National Committee know about this? Since they asked him to change his corporate name to avoid other recognizing him, you have to figure they knew about his propensity for cheating.Hypocrisy does not even begin to characterize the low moral character of Republicans. They cynically drove a virtuous organization out of business to interfere with the 25% of the new voter registrations they gathered. Even more cynically, they actively sought a company they knew would cheat. In the one case, they threw a national shit-fit. In the other, they quietly fired the guy - for this year.Fox News? They had 122 stories about Acorn. They have had three stories about this year's republican cheating.