Friday, January 15, 2010

Haitians R Us

The earthquakes in Haiti have caused a huge, terrifying, catastrophe. The people affected by tragedy in Port Au Prince represent a large plurality of the people of this planet:

...our world is home to 6.7 billion people.

In 2005, almost 1.4 billion people lived below the international poverty line, earning less than $1.25 per day.

1.02 billion people across the world are hungry.

There are a lot more statistics to show that the average middle class existence of an American family is unusual, in fact almost amazing, compared to so many people around the world.

Naturally, in an environment which is not immediately affected by the problems of hungry and poor people, the US citizens who are eating every day and don't go to bed hungry, may tend to take for granted their amazingly good fortune. Even though many of us see homeless people begging for money right under our noses.

The one-two punch of the earthquakes striking near a major city of Haiti, a totally poor country, and the mainstream media able to get stories and visuals back to American citizens so quickly, provides a clue of how bad off much of people of the world really are. But we still have to be told that Haiti's problems, which began before the earthquake, are more universal than unique.

Unlike the tsunamis which were half way around the world, this natural event is much more close to home--680 miles from Miami.

An act of nature on this scale makes a rational person want to see an end to the petty squabbles of various groups within the species of humanity, and recognize the real enemy is within each of us, and not from someone else.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bra Baby and Mark McGwire

You see the picture of the "Bra Baby." This is an item I purchased in K-Mart in Burbank, because I was intrigued that the entire box is covered in lettering written in Hebrew. Since Burbank is not known for a large Jewish population, I could only assume that the shelves full of this item with Hebrew blurbs on it was because Jewish immigrant women need to wash their bras and keep the cups from collapsing more than other women. Even if a lot of Jews lived in Burbank and the women need "Bra Baby's," how many of them would be fluent in Hebrew enough to understand the packaging?

If the Bra Baby explanation seems strange, it's nothing compared to what follows, which is mostly current events:

Sarah Palin's going to be paid to comment on Fox News; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid not only got caught making telling racial observations about Obama's chances as a man with black blood to be elected president, he substituted the arcane term "negro" for "black," not to mention he got the issue right! The big banks who got bailout money from taxpaying citizens, are now reporting huge profits, and they are planning to reward the rank and file with huge bonuses as they continue to foreclose on homes of the taxpayers from whom they got the bailout money.

So my big beef about Mark McGuire's confession of steroid use when he broke Babe Ruth's home run record possibly inching him closer to acceptance by the sportswriters as a member of the sacrosanct Baseball Hall of Fame seems out of place, priority-wise.

Actually, the number one issue is that while we, the people, once again are committing untold billions of dollars, manpower, and time, to pound the crap out of some warlords in Afghanistan, thousands of little terrorist-wannabes all over the world--yes, even in our United States--are trying to create little explosive messes to get their 15 minutes of fame and martyrdom or whatever by killing innocent people and only the NYPD has a clue where some of them are.

The CIA, FBI, TSA--you spell it--are more concerned with strip searching every single last ethnic-looking Muslim-possible coming onto or off of any plane from any number of countries who have big numbers of Muslims in them. Which should include the US where over 6 million Muslims call home.

My problem with McGwire is that he was taking drugs to "enhance" his performance, which some consider cheating against another player who wasn't doing that. And of course, the possibility of becoming dead from steroids, or at least having a vastly altered organic system detrimental to your health, and standing there as a role model from young kids (or even 50+ year-olds like myself) who love baseball and want to emulate the "heroes" who make and break records--doesn't feel right to me to have this person in the hall of fame.

When I was growing up, prior to modern baseball parks, and modern cork-filled bats, and modern bouncier baseballs, and steroids, there were a few heroes in the game who stood out. My favorites were Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. Both of them, I found out by the time I reached middle age, were drunk most of the time. Ruth also over ate. Not like we do at Thanksgiving. He ate so much during a single game--the bat boy brought him over a dozen hot dogs--he was hospitalized and had to have his stomach pumped.

Just to make a good Hollywood ending, the Babe Ruth Story in 1948 starred William Bendix as Babe Ruth--and Bendix had been the bat boy at that game!

So if Ruth and Mantle could bang out home runs, and make plays in the field--in fact Ruth was one of the all-time great pitchers in major league baseball before they realized he packed in bigger crowds hitting home runs every day instead of pitching every four--while handicapped by booze and late nights etc, then it seems to me like McGwire is nowhere near their league.

McGwire might have been sober, in shape, and a good family man, but when you take a drug--a steroid, or human growth hormone--to make you a better hitter even though that drug may have a bad effect on your health, you don't belong in the same class as the great ballplayers who were drunks and whore mongers who didn't cheat by artificial means.

And if you think that doesn't make sense--look at the big stories this week: Leno may move to 11:30 and Conan may go to Fox. Simon Cowell says this is his last year on American Idol.

Who really cares about Geithner and the emails?

If I were really focusing on what's important, I'd be worried about Pete Carroll leaving USC for the Seattle Seahawks and the scandals in that wake. But I'm really a baseball fan, and the machinations of the economy and banking are something I could never understand. If it involves people, I'm always confused.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Are You Trying to Seduce Me, Mrs. Goldstein?

When I graduated high school in 1968, my girlfriend lived across the street from me. Her mom was a very attractive middle-aged lady who I liked very much. Like an aunt. Maybe more like a sexy aunt with a great figure!

That really isn't the point. It seems that a well-known politician in Northern Ireland, has a wife who is fooling around with a teenager. So the story makes news because of the name, "Mrs. Robinson."

The report alleged that Iris Robinson — then aged 59 and, like her husband, a well-known politician in Northern Ireland — had obtained $80,000 from two property developers for a 19-year-old man, Kirk McCambley, with whom she had been having an affair. According to the report, the teenager allegedly used most of the money to set up the cafĂ© but saved $8,000 to give back to his lover, the appropriately named Mrs. Robinson.

Interesting that over 40 years after the book and movie, "The Graduate," that "Mrs. Robinson" still makes news.

I tend to notice these tidbits because my girlfriend's mother's name was...not Mrs. Goldstein.

Can you imagine the kidding I got about "Mrs. Robinson" across the street? Actually, I didn't get kidded very much--in Hartford, CT in 1968 it seems that movies were not the pinnacle of interest that I thought they were. Even my girlfriend's mom, Mrs. Robinson, thought it was humorous -- but not THAT humorous.

I used to say, "What are the odds?" Now I say, "There are no coincidences."

Good night, Irene! (That's what I call Mrs. Robinson.)