Waxing Nostalgic II

“The Greek word for “return” is nostos. Algos means “suffering.” So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.” 

― Milan Kundera, Ignorance

The Andy Griffith Show, Hogan’s Heroes, Match Game 75, Barney Miller…these are all 1960 and 1970 television shows enjoying a revival. Many viewers, generally in the Medicare and Social Security eligible categories, are eschewing current produced media fare for TV shows of their younger years.

Why? The reasons may vary but for many it’s a portal to a simpler time with less stress and drama. People need a break from Covid 19, Trump rants, smarmy Fox commentators and an endless stream of violence, disasters and deaths on their TVs and computer screens.

Photo by Andre Moura Pixels

I too pine for simpler times and have compiled a short list of memories, places and people that take me back to a simpler time.

  1. Cherry Hill Mall food court with Nathans, Arthur Teachers and Bassetts Turkey
  2. Drive-In movies
  3. Emma Peel
  4. Local minor league hockey (Jersey Devils, Ramblers)
  5. Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings and Chet Huntley
  6. Extensive coverage of college and high school sports by local papers
  7. Fish’s (Abe Vigoda) asides on Barney Miller
  8. Summer League Basketball at Wood and Memorial Parks (Cinnaminson NJ)
  9. “Missed by that much”
  10. Pat Paulsen running for President
  11. Gladys Ormphby and Tyrone on Laugh In
  12. Barbi Benton
  13. U.S. Pro Indoor Tournament at Spectrum
  14. Chief Jay Strongbow
  15. Lindsey Nelson and Ray Scott announcing college and professional football games
  16. Old Republican party (Everett Dirksen, Hugh Scott, Gerald Ford)
  17. Apologies
  18. Soupy Sales
  19. By Saam and Richie Ashburn broadcasting Phillies games
  20. Petula Clark
  21. Diving horse at Steel Pier
  22. Sparklers
  23. Tinsel
  24. Hill Street Blues
  25. John Larroquette’s (Dan Fielding) leers on Night Court
  26. Mike Wallace interviews on 60 Minutes
  27. Playboy interviews
  28. Sport magazine
  29. Archie Bunker
  30. Phyllis George
  31. The Grassroots

Reader, how many from this list do you remember and know?

Finish Line

In my younger days, I ran 5K and 10K races. When I was able to see the finish line from a distance, I needed to make a decision. Do I finish the race strong with a last minute spurt or do I comfortably finish at a relaxed pace? My decision was not based on winning any medals or prizes as I was a “back in the pack” runner. My decision was personal, primarily based on how much energy I had left in my legs and what I wanted to accomplish in terms of my own goals. I mostly competed with myself and was interested in seeking improved race times.

As one gets older in life, there are a number of finish lines that need to be crossed. Generally, the first finish line is the end of your career or business. For many, the decision on how we finish that race is not made by them. Some don’t get the opportunity to finish but are pulled aside and told their race is over. The lucky get to finish the race on their own terms and with the plaudits and appreciation of their fellow employees and partners. They leave with a sense of satisfaction of a race well run.

Young people are not concerned with finish lines. They are at the beginning or mid-way point of their race. Time is on their side – – they have the energy, ability and opportunity to run more laps and circle the field if they are so inclined. They are in the early stages of a life marathon with many miles to go.

As I have gotten older, I appreciate that a final finish line may be looming. I don’t know its distance but I sense its presence. There are no mile markers in the final finish line. I still have the ability to decide if I want to walk or jog in my last miles or finish with a burst of speed and vigor. There won’t be spectators to cheer me on. How I finish that race will largely be my decision. There are no medals to win. But there is one more chance to make a difference in my life and maybe someone else’s. One more opportunity to overcome a challenge or make a contribution. One more opportunity to achieve a life well run…

Lost Religion and Other Beliefs

All religions promise a reward for excellence is of the will or heart, but none for excellences of the head or understanding.

Schopenhauer

Interesting article titled “Can the Meritocracy Find God” in the April 10 edition of The New York Times by Ross Douthat, a Christian journalist who is trying to imagine a scenario where “not just would-be intellectuals but the wider elite-university-educated population, the meritocrats or “knowledge workers,” the “professional-managerial class” would convert or turn to religion.

He cites considerable obstacles, including that the “American educated class is deeply committed to a moral vision that regards emancipated, self-directed choice as essential to human freedom and the good life” and the meritocracy’s reliance on science, “which regards strong religious belief as fundamentally anti-rational, miracles as superstition, the idea of a personal God as so much wishful thinking.”

Douthat expresses a concern about the “deep secularization of the meritocracy.” He is disappointed that people who could have pursued religious careers as priests, ministers and rabbis have turned to secular positions as social workers, professors and psychologists. Instead of running religious missions, these secularists have started and invested in their own foundations.

The essay sparked an interesting online debate from readers and I have posted selected comments below. I will complete this post by adding my thoughts at the end. Comments by New York Times readers are in italics:

We’ve come too far to believe in the mean-spirited garbage spewed by self-serving individual sects. When God is the God of every human being, bar none, then people will flock to houses of worship.

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All religions rely on blind faith and magical beliefs where as non believers rely on science and facts.

After years and years of of seeing the damage caused by religion to humans throughout history is it any wonder that people are finding that they do not need religion to be Good people or do good for their fellow humans which is progress we should all be happy about.

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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” – Seneca

This couldn’t be more blatantly true than in today’s politics.

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Raised Catholic, the teachings of Jesus are engrained in the fiber of who I am and how I live my life and treat others. It is the basis of my morality. But, I think Jesus was a Jewish social justice reformer, not the son of a supernatural creator.   It’s the very conscience I developed as a Catholic that forced me to leave the Church.I just can’t participate in the hypocrisy, sexism and homophobia of the leaders and the institution.

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The Christian church was instrumental in colonialism. The Christian church led the way to anti-Semitism. The Bible belt in the US led the way to slavery, Jim Crow, and white supremacy. The world-wide Roman Catholic church issues pieties while continuing to downplay sexual abuse of children by priests. Why would anyone look to the church for moral guidance? For spiritual guidance?

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The churches have only themselves to blame for the decline of church membership: Pedophile priests and cover up of them in the Catholic Church; evangelicals supporting the anti-Christian values of Trump and Republican party. The “prosperity gospel”?  It’s an oxymoron.

No, the secularization of America won’t reverse until the institutions of Christianity and their leaders start talking and acting like Christ. The present hypocrisy is too blatant. The lack of humility is too off-putting. 

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If more people were actually educated in scriptural studies, there probably would be many fewer adherents to the claim that the bible is the inerrant “word of God.”

Example:  King Solomon is only a fictional character. There is no record of this so-called great and powerful monarch in the considerable historical documents of the period in which he would have lived and reigned.

Furthermore,  in Israel, perhaps the most excavated region on the planet, archaeologists have not uncovered a single bit of evidence of the vast temple he supposedly built. Apparently, the temple existed only in the minds of those who wrote the books of Chronicles and Kings and described the edifice in great detail. 

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I was raised a Catholic and a Christian as was Mr. Douthat.  At some point I determined that, while I deeply admired the teaching and example of Jesus, I did not think he was god and I did not think he believed he was god so I am not religious any longer. 

As my life has progressed I am amazed at how much Jesus’ teachings have stuck with me and at how little Jesus’ teachings have stuck with Christian believers.

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The problem, Brother Douthat, is that the atheists and secularists in this country generally act a lot more ‘Christian’ than the ‘Christians’ in the pews.

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What I still can’t fathom about Ross–and the many others that lament the decline of organized religion, Christianity or otherwise–is the presumption that the possession of an organized religious epistemology and creed is prerequisite for a moral outlook.

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But I still practiced my religious beliefs until religious leaders backed the former president 4 years ago and then last year. Even against all he did, including his horrendous handling of Covid in the name of economics. Some of these religious leaders even went along with his anti-mask rhetoric and mass gatherings.

The former president was not religious, he is a womanizer, he is rude and obnoxious to everyone. Yet many religious leaders still backed him. 

Religious leaders chose to back a non-religious leader over a religious leader.

To me that says cult.

Religious leaders need to support candidates that represent who will help the people.

Until that happens more people will become disenfranchised as I have.

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As a science PhD, there is a very simple reason why I don’t “get God”. It is because I prefer an evidence-based worldview. And, by evidence, I mean something that is verifiable and falsifiable, and does not just consist of murky warm feelings, vague philosophical arguments, or references in ancient writings.

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My Thoughts: I was baptized and raised as a Catholic. I attended Catholic grade schools and high school. Despite all the sermons and religion classes, I rejected Catholicism when I was 16. I did not accept that Catholicism was the one true religion and that those who were not Catholics were destined to limbo instead of heaven after they died.

I did not buy into papal infallibility and the church’s positions on birth control, divorce, pre-marital sex, abortion and women’s role in the clergy. The parish and diocese I belonged to were hotbeds of child abuse cases committed by priests. People were aware that these incidents were occurring and nothing happened until much later. The monsignor at my parish was more interested in soliciting contributions than saving souls and protecting children from his demented priests. The more I read into the church’s history, the more disillusioned I became.

I looked into other religions and found them wanting. I realized that the bible was part history, part fable, part mythology, part propaganda but certainly not credibly God’s word. I had not yet rejected God’s existence but I grew doubtful. I was uncertain and continued to read, study and ruminate about God as I got older.

Many of the people who I find devoutly religious experienced a momentous, sometimes catastrophic personal event or strong feeling that convinced them that God exists. I never had the feeling or maybe I ignored or misinterpreted it. I don’t have a God gene. I find an empty church more of a religious experience than a full one. I think the practice of meditation is more useful than prayer.

As I read religious history and literature further, I was more impressed with the arguments of Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Steven Hawking and other agnostics/atheists/scientists that there is/was no God.

All that being said, I would not criticize anyone for their belief in God alone. I will criticize certain unwise or irrational actions, beliefs and deeds based on contorted religious thinking. I find support by evangelicals for Donald Trump and many of his policies reprehensible. 

Last point, I try to live by the tenets of the prayer of St Francis Assisi. One does not need to belong to a religion to perform good acts. One just needs to be a caring and moral human being.

Modern Day Icarus

But who names a starship the Icarus? What kind of man possess that much hubris, that he dares it to fall?” 

― Amie Kaufman

The fortunes of men do not move in a straight line. There are dips of fortune and misfortune that follow like a timeline graph of the S&P market performance. What and who goes up, inevitably fall, at least temporarily. For public figures, in particular, falls and misfortunes are amplified as they are publicized, criticized and posterized.

Failures and misfortunes proceeded by hype, hubris and arrogance are replete from the past. Politics is a veritable quicksand of past victims of questionable judgement and behavior including Richard Nixon, John Edwards, Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer,  and Oliver North. Sports and media icons of fallen fortunes include Pete Rose, O.J. Simpson, Tiger Woods, Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly, Kevin Spacey, Bill Cosby and Lori Laughlin.

Comeuppance often is self inflicted. Poor judgment by words or actions or can often alter the flight of one’s career or legacy.  The sun melted the wings of Icarus when he flew too close to the sun. Legacies and reputations crash when their victims flew too far from truth, probity, decency and humility.

Five current examples of contemporary Icarus like behavior:

Jacob Peter Gowy‘s The Flight of Icarus
  1. Donald Trump: His pride was so damaged that he decided to lie and obfuscate about the results of his re-election defeat. Worse, Trump was able to dupe sycophants and crazed zealots to an attempted overthrow of the government, rejection of election results and the assassinations of Congressional political leaders.
  2. Lou Dobbs: Never met a crazy conspiracy theory or theorist he did not like or have on his show. More intimate with Trump than Melania. Confirmation of H.L. Mencken adage: “The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.” 
  3. Lindsay Graham: More flip-flops than a boardwalk in the summer. Once respected for his bipartisanship, he once rose on the wings of a John McCain friendship and principles; today, Graham’s descent coincides with his support of those elements, policies and people that McCain despised.
  4. Curt Schilling: What you say has consequences. A Hall of Famer based on his Major League Baseball performance. Off the field, his comments on same sex marriage and Muslims project him as a minor leaguer bust in the fields of politics and culture.
  5. Carson Wentz: Once the Franchise, now soon to be one of the great disappointments in Philadelphia sports history like Markelle Fultz, Shawn Bradley, Mike Mamula and Kevin Allen.

Perfect Moments

Years ago, I read Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life by Eugene O’Kelly. O’Kelly was the CEO at KPMG who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died within three and a half months of the announcement. The book was primarily about the art of dying though O’Kelly did offer some advice about how to live. O’Kelly described his goal of pursuing Perfect Moments and Perfect Days. For example, he described having a four hour dinner, good wine and conversation with friends as a perfect moment.

So it got me to thinking, what are my “perfect moments?”

Here are a few of my perfect moments:

Unhurried dinner or lunch with friends in a quiet setting conversing lightly and laughing about the “old days”, memories, anecdotes, people, sports, politics etc.

Sitting by the ocean just watching the waves roll in, enjoying the sun and not allowing a care in the world to ruin the moment.

Sitting on my porch engrossed in a great book or story and losing track of time.

Listening to my music of my youth and allowing experiences, feelings and people to flow back into memory.

Any time with my wife.

The Old Man and the Read

A mark of an educated man or woman is to employ an expanded vocabulary in their speech or conversation. A mark of a very educated man or woman is to know the appropriate times to employ the expanded vocabulary to a particular audience.

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I always thought that I had a book within me that I could write and publish. But after recently reading My Mistake: A Memoir by David Menacker, a book about the author’s experiences in various roles in the publishing world, I am now disimbued of that ambition.

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I am also reminded of an adage from the great Christopher Hitchens about people who want to write a book: “Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.”

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I am a huge fan of good journalism. And despite all the outcries of “fake news,“ there is a lot of good investigative journalism of political, business, health and culture topics reflecting strong research, responsible sourcing, effective writing and editing. Magazines of exceptional writing and reporting include The New Yorker, Atlantic, Vanity Fair, and The Nation. What’s frustrating to me is the reliance of so many people on blogs and memes, particularly as it relates to politics and the coronavirus.

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A great financial and mental investment is the online Sunday New York Times for $.99. Excellent ideas, essays, news coverage and articles on politics, business, culture, entertainment and people. I am biased but I think Maureen Dowd is one of the best essayists and commentators of the political and current events scenes.

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Authors continue to write “self help“ books as it is a huge market within book publishing. However the greatest ideas for self-help were written in ancient times by Socrates, Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius, Confucius, Lao-tzu and Epicurus. Much of what is written today as self help is just a regurgitation of their ideas.

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One of the greatest literary influences on my perspectives regarding life, death and religion is found in the first chapter of a book by Alan Watts titled The Wisdom of Insecurity. The chapter begins, “By all outward appearances, our life is a spark of light between one eternal darkness and another.” I have underlined just about all of the first chapter in my copy of the book. A great deal of wisdom in 15 pages.

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In high school, we were assigned summer reading. The three books I remember and enjoyed were (1) Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee (2) All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and (3) The Bridges at Toko-Ri. I struggled with the following summer books: (1) The Spy by James Fenimore Cooper, (2) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert and (3) The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. I found the writing in those books tedious and boring.

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The best and most memorable short story I have read is The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. Written in 1948, it is still an appropriate theme for our times. I remember my shock at the ending of the story.

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Currently reading Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife by Bart D. Ehrman. Just finished How Did We Get Here? From Theodore Roosevelt to Donald Trump by historian Robert Dallek.

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A very funny read is Make Russia Great Again by Christopher Buckley. It is a satirical novel about a former Jewish food manager of one of Trump’s Golf Clubs who reluctantly becomes Trump’s seventh Chief of Staff. He becomes embroiled in a number of crazy White House scandals and deals with Fox commentators running the government and his boss’s bizarre ideas (e.g. Ivanka as VP to garner women’s vote.) Strangely enough I’m not sure this satire is as farcical as the real time events of the Trump presidency.

Old Man and the Read

Metrics

lots-of-numbers-1314543

Photo by Black Ices from Pexels

Many of us fixate on numbers. We are concerned about our weight, net worth, credit card balance, retirement income, sales goals, cost of tuition, departure time for a plane etc. 

Listed below are some personal metrics that don’t merit any national or scholarly attention but amuses me:

43: Number of years that my wife and I have been married. It certainly has been an accomplishment to have been married this long. It is reported that 50% of all U.S. marriages end in a divorce or separation. To those who ask about the secrets to marital longevity, my only answer is to choose the right partner and I certainly did. She deserves 99.5% of the credit as she has had to endure my many moods and temperaments as I navigated the rapids of life.

46: This number represents my resting heart rate. It is a relatively low heart rate especially for someone of my age. However, I have always had a low heart rate. I have been test periodically to ensure that there are no issues. I can attribute much of my low heart rate to being active, particularly when I was younger when I played a lot of basketball and jogged.

1: This is the number of times that I have played golf on an 18 hole course. I did this when I was in my early 30s. I don’t remember what my score was. I do remember trying to hit onto a green that had a water hazard in front of it.

12: This was the approximate number of golf balls that I lost in the water hazard trying to hit onto the green.

1: This represents the number of times that I may have been impaired or even drunk from alcohol. This happened in 1994 when my wife and I were vacationing at a resort in Saint Thomas. I remember playing tennis for a little over an hour with the club pro on a very hot and sunny afternoon. ( I remember the tennis pro had gone to Penn and thought I was crazy to play at 3:00 p.m.) After playing tennis, my wife and I headed over to the resort bar. I was very thirsty…

4+: The number of pina coladas that I drank at the resort bar that may have slightly impaired my balance. Good thing that I did not have to drive. The drinks and the order of poppers (the food, not the drug) made me very mellow.

0: The number of times that I have dunked a basketball on a regulation 10 foot high basket. Besides being handicapped with an inability to jump very high, I also could not palm a basketball. This was a desired athletic fantasy that I was unable to complete.

13: The number of states that I have lived in, drove through or visited. With the exception of Tennessee which I may have been driving through for a half hour on the way to Asheville N.C., all states were on the East coast.

10/0 Ten represents the number of companies and small businesses that I worked for as an employee. Zero represents the number of companies that are still in existence. Now my involvement did not kill off these companies, There were one or two that I tried desperately to save. All died from either obsolescence, poor management or as a victim of a natural business cycle.

 

My Dad: I Hardly Knew Ye

Dad

My father, Edward A. Burleigh and me (Gloucester NJ)

I don’t remember a lot about my father. Memories of sixty years or more are very suspect. However I remember his last day…

He and my mother were going to a Valentines Day event in 1960 that night.  I was seven years old. My second grade class was asked to make personalized Valentine Day cards for their parents. I gave my mother her card early in the day. I vaguely recall that I was mad at my father. I don’t remember why. I did not give him his card. He may have wondered why. But as my parents were preparing to leave for the event, I had a change of mind and handed him the card. My father was not the sentimental type for cards and most expressions of affections. He opened the envelope, read the card, smiled at me and said “I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” However I did not see my father again. That night, he suffered a heart attack and died.

There is no consolation for a seven-year-old boy when he loses his father so suddenly. However, I was so glad that I gave him the card. I did not want my last contact with him to be of rancor. I wanted him to know that I loved and respected him. He gave me a wink and smile as he left the house. That’s my final memory of my father.

My father was not a big man. He might’ve been 5’6 in height and weighed less than 150 lbs. However he was a very tough man. I had heard stories from his brothers, other family members and people who knew him that he was good with his fists. My father noticed one day that I came running back into my backyard to avoid some bully out front. My father told me that I can fight the boy or that I would get hit with a belt by him. Not an easy decision for me but I went out and fought the bully (to the bully’s surprise). To the best of my recollection, the fight ended in a draw.

He was a devoted family man, not just to my mother, myself and my younger sister but also to his brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces.  He came from a large family, five brothers and four sisters. An example of his devotion to family was told to me by one of my aunts. My aunt was going through a bad and abusive marriage. She had three small children, no job and no alternatives to leaving. One night my aunt’s drunk and abusive husband beat her in front of her kids. That got my father involved. He confronted and “resolved” the issue with my aunt’s husband and found a place to move her and the three kids.

My father did not have a high school degree. He enlisted in the Navy at age 17 and fought in the Atlantic theater during World War II. I have pictures of him in his youth. He always had a smile on his face and an arm around a buddy or girlfriend.  I had heard he was a very good dancer. I guess those genes did not get passed to me.

I vaguely recall that he worked a number of different jobs and that his last one was working shift work at the New York shipyard in Camden. Not surprisingly, I do remember watching Friday night boxing fights with him. He enjoyed fishing with his brothers. This may have been the only recreation he enjoyed. I don’t recall him having any interest in football, baseball or basketball.

 I think he smoked to excess, drank too much and did not take care of himself very well and I think this led to his early death at the age of 35. I wondered how happy he was. He always talked of going to California. He had a brother, Elmer, who lived there and my father seemed to have a bit of wanderlust.

I often wonder how different my life would have been if he had stayed alive. My father was very personable and outgoing. I was quiet and shy, just like my mother. My young sister, Sandra, at age 3,  was starting to show her bubbly personality and verve. Sandra may have inherited his personality gene. My father did share one similarity—-we both lost our fathers early in our lives. His father also died early in his life. His mother ran a boarding house and did laundry to support nine children.

I would hope that my father would have been proud of how I lived my life. Like him, I took care of my mother and sisters and protected them the best I could. He may have appreciated how I handled his death and showed the toughness he had as life threw challenges at me. I hope so. I’m Ed Burleigh’s son, I would not have wanted to disappoint him.

 

 

Clearing My Mental Cache (Part 2)

Items that may amuse, entertain, inform and inflame you…

Pickleball challenge

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The experience of finding an open court to play pickleball in the next few weeks may be similar to trying to find a dinner reservation on Mother’s Day. One might expect long lines, unexpected delays and the need to acquire a lot of patience.

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Just a thought: For pickleball to become more mainstream and garner national attention,  it needs a “bad boy” like Nick Kyrgios or John McEnroe to compete against Tyson McGuffin, Ben Johns etc. of the pickleball elite.

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While I agree that Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time, I don’t think he would beat Lebron James in a one on one game if both were in their primes.

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Book recommendation: Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby. An excellent compliment to the recent ESPN documentary The Last Dance.

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As an aside, I am old enough to remember seeing him play and I choose Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns as the greatest football player of my lifetime.

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I would not miss baseball if they did not play in 2020. I would miss college and pro football as well as pro basketball if they did not play in 2020. I am also under the opinion that the NBA should not bother resuming the 2019-2020 season’s games. Wait till November and start the new season.

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Old Paradigm (before coronavirus) “Hi neighbor, can I borrow a cup of sugar?

New Paradigm: “Hi neighbor, (through mask) can I borrow a roll of toilet paper?”

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Five Biggest Lies of the Pandemic

  1. “We all in this together.” (slogan used by just about every company in their ads since March.)
  2. “I don’t take responsibility at all.” (Donald Trump-3/13/20)
  3. The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA…(Donald Trump 2-24-20)
  4. It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” Donald Trump 2-28-20)
  5. The virus is not going to sink the American economy,”. “What is or could sink the American economy is the socialism coming from our friends on the other side of the aisle. That’s the biggest fear that I have today.” (Larry Kudlow Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 28)

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Just an observation but I wish Congress and the President exhibited the same energy, resources and urgency for small businesses and employees that the Federal Reserve did in supporting Wall Street, large corporations, CEOs and wealthy stockholders.

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Fox News just published their poll of suburban women. 33% of those women polled had a favorable view of President Trump; 66% had an unfavorable view. What is more surprising? (A) Fox News posted the results of their anti Trump poll? Or. (B) There are still 33% of suburban women with a favorable view of Trump?

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Though children are not able to attend schools in person, they are receiving a far greater and more impactful education in human nature, mortality, sacrifice and compassion.

 

Thoughts from the Bunker

As I write, I am reading stories of people unable to get needed medical care. A 73 year old woman has been sitting in a chair for over 29 hours with a high fever, coughing and experiencing breathing issues in  a New York City hospital emergency room. Hospitals are overrun with patients like her and do not have the beds and staff to help her.

At 67, I can’t promise wisdom but I can offer perspective and a little history. I remember times before computers, cell phones, the Internet, 24 hour news, cable TV and e-books. Back in 1960s, our biggest fear was an atomic war with Russia. School children endured air raid drills which was basically huddling under your desk and closing your eyes. I wax nostalgic as I now huddle at home and my worry is not radiation from an atomic bomb from Russia but catching a virus from China. Unfortunately this is not a drill and casualties are rising every day.

In 1960, I remember a young President who suffered some early growing pains like The Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba but grew steadily competent in the job. Even though I was only 10 at the time of the Cuban Missile crisis, I understood how his leadership and good judgment pulled us out of a major nuclear confrontation. He was assisted by a number of very smart people like his brother, Bobby Kennedy. Donald Trump is now being assisted by his inept son-in law Jarrod Kushner, who inspires as much confidence as Barney Fife in a fire fight. From JFK to Trump, how did this country deteriorate this fast in sixty years!

How did we slide downwards from a President who pushed this country to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade (and succeeded) to one whose major campaign promise (other than a tax cut for the rich) was to build an ineffective wall? Kennedy’s program landed astronauts on a target 238,900 miles away. Trump can’t deliver masks, breath equipment and other needed medical supplies to a battered New York City 225 miles to his north.

In our current crisis, we have a President more concerned about his television ratings than the number of people suffering and dying from coronavirus. His press conferences are replete with self praise, false information and dangerous life and death advice that his medical experts are forced to quickly disavow. He uses press conferences as replacements for his public campaign appearances in front of fawning audiences. At a recent news conference, he had a pillows huckster lecture the press instead of using the time to have a doctor or scientist provide guidance to a fearful public. Trump describes himself as a “war time President.” Trump is, like Mussolini.

Though Trump has garnered and deserved most of my ire, there are also too many in the public disregarding social isolation guidelines. Maybe if they can imagine themselves, their parent or other loved ones in a desperate plight like the 73 year old woman above, maybe they will act responsibility and Americans can start to move out of their self imposed bunkers and into the Spring sunshine.