Miscellania

“The saddest thing is to be

a minute to someone,

when you’ve made them your eternity.” 

Sanober Khan

I speculate that nonfiction books are headed down the path of academic journals. They will be useful for academics positioning themselves for tenure, but they will be too slow and ponderous for communicating ideas. People who really care about ideas will turn to reading and writing substacks instead of books and journals.

Books are not Information Dense

Substack is much better

Arnold Kling

A Neurologist’s Tips to Protect Your Memory: 1. Pay more attention. 2. Find regular everyday memory challenges. 3. Read more novels. 4.Beware of technology. 5.Work with a mental health professional if you need to.

Dr. Richard Restak, a neurologist and clinical professor at George Washington Hospital University School of Medicine and Health

“The average American — even if they’re a highly sophisticated college graduate or a law school student — really doesn’t know an awful lot about the many different ways in which even innocent people can regret for the rest of their lives the biggest mistake of their lives, the decision to waive their Fifth Amendment right and agree to talk to the police.”

James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School in Virginia

Mullings of a Mature Man

Senior citizens are like older cars without a gas gauge. Both have travelled many miles and not sure how much time or travel is left.

As years grow, handshakes, hugs and kisses among friends and family are longer.

Photo by Pixabay

Those who are truly happy, if offered a chance to enter a time machine and go back to relive their lives, would decline and say, “I would not change a thing.”

Emptying contents from my mom’s home of 54 years, I sensed fond memories of my youth following them solemnly from the house to the truck taking them away.

One’s definition of “success’ matures with age. Success becomes not so much in what we have but what we contributed with what we had.

If you still believe in 75% of the things you learned or were told in the first 25% of your life, you haven’t been paying attention.

2023 Predictions

I am late for making 2023 predictions but this is mainly a fun exercise as no one is very good at figuring out the future. Based on my mediocre abilities to pick winners in my NFL pool, the reader should not expect great foresight here either.

Politics:

  • Neither Joe Biden nor Donald Trump will run for president in 2024.
  • The leading candidates as 2024 Presidential nominees will be Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida (who will be helped by vaccination scandal, see below) and Gretchen Whitmer, Governor of Michigan.
  • President Joe Biden will pardon Donald Trump in the fall of 2023 as a result of multiple convictions against Trump. Biden will say that the pardons were initiated “to promote national healing and unity.” The pardon and subsequent agreements not to imprison Trump and members of his family will be a result of negotiations and agreements between the Department of Justice, the New York Attorney General, the Atlanta Attorney General and Trump’s attorney team. Disgraced, Trump will fade from public view.
  • Melania Trump will divorce Donald Trump.
  • In retaliation for the conviction and imprisonment of January 6 conspirators, a devastating domestic terroristic attack will occur and kill thousands of US citizens.
  • Vladimir Putin will suffer a “health issue” mid year and negotiations between Russia and Ukraine will begin in mid 2023.

Photo by Virgil Cayasa

Sports

  • The Phillies will finish as a wildcard team in 2023 but they will not make it to the World Series.
  • The Eagles will make it to the NFC championship game against the 49ers and will lose due to key injuries in the offensive line and defensive secondary.
  • Tom Brady announces retirement after Tampa Bay loss in NFL playoffs.
  • The 76ers will lose in the second round of the NBA playoffs. 4 games to 1. This will be James Harden’s last season with the team. Joel Embid will request a trade at the end of the season. Doc Rivers gets fired.

Business

  • The Dow will finish at 36000 on 12/31/23; NYSE at 4300.
  • Twitter files bankruptcy.

Science

  • Scandal and controversy regarding the rollout, safety and efficacy of the various Covid vaccinations.
  • Frenzy will occur when an UFO sighting is witnessed by thousands and documented through video and radar.
  • No progress in finding treatment or prevention of Alzheimer’s.

Review: Running to the Mountain: A Journey of Faith and Change by Jon Katz

I bought and read this book over 20 years ago. I was about the same age as the author at the time and I had a sense of my advancing age, mortality and the need to make changes. I did not have a spiritual guru like Katz did with Thomas Merton. ( I do share his interest in the writings of HL Mencken.) While there were times when I would have liked to be alone, I had absolutely no desire to find and buy a distressed cabin in the woods and live there.

While Katz was a far more successful professional man, I fortunately did not share most of the childhood traumas that he experienced with his parents and siblings. His demons followed him from childhood to adulthood.

This book had far more influence on me when I read it at 50 years old than it did re-reading it at 70 years old. Maybe I am a bit wiser, maybe I am a bit more resigned at my current age. Plus I have very little enthusiam for change.

Interestingly, I read an update on Jon Katz and noticed that he divorced his wife Paula in 2008 and remarried in 2010. Reading between the lines in his book, I sensed that he may have had some dissatisfaction with his marriage. I guess that that was part of the change that he was looking to make.

This is an inspiring book for those on a spiritual search or reconciling their mid life crisis. Very good story…

Excerpts from the book I found interesting…

I am not nearly as afraid of dying as I am of the hinges inside my mind and soul rusting closed. I am desperate to keep them open, because I think that if they close, that’s one’s first death, the loss of hope, curiosity, and possibility, the spiritual death. After that, it seems to me, the second one is just a formality. I wanted to oil the hinges, force the doors to stay open.

I’ve struggled mightily to figure out how to be spiritual without having to be religious, how to find peace without bending my knee before an altar.

I’d lost close friends this way before, even abandoned a couple myself. When men are pressed, their friendships go to the bottom of the list.

There is huge risk involved whenever you seek to discover yourself. You might find that you’re not as happily married as you thought you were. That you’re growing older than you’ve permitted yourself to acknowledge. That you have few true friends, or the wrong ones. That you’re not happy with the place you’re living or fulfilled by the work you’re doing. That you’re not happy or fulfilled, period.

As with so many other boomers, death was suddenly in the air around me, the consciousness of mortality emerging as parents, older friends and mentors, and the first of my peers began to falter and fall. I was writing my own history. I wanted immortality, though not in the conventional religious sense. I wanted to live on in the fond memories of the people I left behind, to be recalled as a supportive father, a loving husband, a devoted friend, a man who struggled to be a good person.

Demise of the Philly Big 5 ???

A rivalry in decline: Does anyone still care about the Big 5? 

The Temple News 12/20/22

The Big 5 is as passé as DVDs, Blockbuster’s and 8 tracks. Its heyday was back in the 1960s and 1970s where Palestra Big Five games were sellouts complete with noisy student sections, raunchy rollouts and streamers after the first basket. The building rocked back then.

Today’s Big 5 games are played with the passion of a CYO game.

The Big 5 has become the Big 1. At a recent Big 5 doubleheader featuring LaSalle vs Temple and St Joe’s vs Penn, only 3300 people showed up. Watching the games on TV, I noticed that as the camera panned the crowd, that many in attendance were alumni of decades past, a lot of gray hairs. The squeaks of sneakers on the gym floor were louder than the desultory cheers of a largely disinterested crowd.

It’s been a long time since a Big 5 school other than Villanova could attract or recruit a five star prospect. Past coaches were colorful and respected recruiters and strategicians. They could take unheralded players, many who were local stars, and create disciplined and competitive teams. It’s hard to know or remember the names of the current Big 5 coaches especially since Jay Wright has retired.

Fran Dunphy is the current dean of Big 5 coaches with his current stint at LaSalle and past head coaching jobs at Temple and Penn. If he can hold out a few more years, he could land a potential future job at St Joe’s. (St Joe’s has not had a winning season since 2015-16 season.)

Pro teams, in the distant past, would scout for NBA eligible players in Philly but there is only one potential draft prospect and he predictably plays for Villanova (Cam Whitmore).

One does not see much hope for the NCAA tournament with the exception of Villanova but they need quite an improvement to achieve the Sweet 16 if they get in. Shown below are current records:

Villanova 7-5

Temple    6-7

Penn        6-7

St Joe’s    5-6

LaSalle    5-7

The Athletic has reported that representatives from the Big 5 schools plus Drexel have been meeting on plans to revive the Big 5 spirit and rivalries.

I wish them luck and offer this piece of advice:

To generate fan interest, you need exciting and competitive teams. To field competitive teams, you need outstanding players. To attract outstanding players, you need outstanding coaches and facilities. To interest and hire outstanding coaches, you need $$$, plenty of $$$. 

News: Most Influential vs Most Thoughtful

My list is decidedly different. I chose people whose contributions, judgement and commentary I respect.

Mediaite’s Most Influential in NewsEric Burleigh’s List of Thought Leaders in Media
1. Suzanne Scott Fox News1. Kara Swisher
2. Elon Musk 2. Andrew Ross Sorkin CNBC
3. Chris Licht and David Zaslav3. Maggie Haberman NYT
4. Tucker Carlson Fox News4. Maureen Dowd NYT
5. Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinsski MSNBC5. Jim Acosta CNN
6. Sean Hannity Fox6. Chris Wallace CNN
7. Matt Drudge7. Bill Maher HBO
8. Lester Holt, Norah O’Donnell and David Muir8. Jonathan Karl ABC
9. Maggie Haberman9.  Karine Jean-Pierre White House Press Sec
10. Greg Gutfeld10. Sam Harris
11. Ben Shapiro11. Charles Barkley TNT
12. Jake Tapper CNN12. Nicole Wallace MSNBC

Getting Schooled

A sober and somewhat depressing essay about the states of education and teaching within the United States.

Here are just a few of the longstanding problems plaguing American education: a generalized decline in literacy; the faltering international performance of American students; an inability to recruit enough qualified college graduates into the teaching profession; a lack of trained and able substitutes to fill teacher shortages; unequal access to educational resources; inadequate funding for schools; stagnant compensation for teachers; heavier workloads; declining prestige; and deteriorating faculty morale.

There’s a Reason There Aren’t Enough Teachers in America. Many Reasons, Actually. Thomas B. Edsall NYT 12/14/22

I‘m hardly surprised to read about the many failures of the American education system. We need to prioritize education as much as we prioritize health care and defense spending. I had not factored the effects of the “culture wars” but I can imagine the toll it has created among many teachers. The job is hard enough now without adding politics and wacky prohibitions about what is taught and what books pass a purity test.

Education and teaching was much better when I attended school between 1958 to 1974. Teachers were generally respected. There were very few incidents of parental interventions. There was bullying but not to the degree seen today. There were no worries of a crazed gunman running into a class and shooting students. There was interest in pursuing teaching as a career. How that has diminished since I attended school!

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students graduating from college with bachelor’s degrees in education fell from 176,307 in 1970-71 to 104,008 in 2010-11 to 85,058 in 2019-20.

Edsall NYT 12/14/22

The failure to provide or receive a good education is a bane for the rest of one’s life. We know what the problems are. How to fix all the holes in our education system is another matter.

Running on Empty

As I get older, there is a growing list of things that I can longer do or have lost interest in doing them…

Image by publicdomainpictures from pixabay
  • Playing basketball
  • Sex
  • Jogging or running
  • Ability to focus on a televised sporting event or show
  • Enjoy dining out
  • Patiently waiting in lines
  • Doctor appointments
  • Driving at night
  • Driving long distances
  • Children parties
  • Commercials, advertisements, public address notifications
  • Traffic
  • Politicians
  • Talking politics
  • Elections
  • Donald Trump
  • Eating apples
  • Religion or talking religion
  • Feigning interest in conversations or with people where I have little compatibility