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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

When one door is closed...

90% Monty...Another door is opened. When I cross-posted my most recent entry on this blog to Smirking Chimp a few people commented, and I responded to most of them. It gets to be fun, because about 95% of the time the respondents aren't very bright, and misread what I wrote. Some, who are smarter than most, get offended that I dare to challenge the conventional wisdom of assumed reality.

At the end of my Olympics essay I added the first comment, and my response. It was fun and easy, the complainant a clich├ęd Net poseur. There were a couple of other dumb comments, and two that were more literate, from the same guy, which are shown below. It may or may have not been this same person, but someone reported me as a spammer on my own blog on Smirking Chimp, effectively preventing me from responding to the smarter person's most recent post.

Not to worry. I can post my reply here. Below are the smarter guy's first comment, my response, his second comment, and the response I tried to post (with edits).
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Beach Volleyball

It's a much more popular sport than you might think. In many coastal (and some non-coastal) areas of the world, beach volleyball tournaments draw tens of thousands of spectators, and award millions in prize money. It's a big time sport, and is watched by far more people than who follow team volleyball.

It's also more demanding physically than team volleyball. Each player has to cover more area, and it requires much more exertion to run around in sand, as opposed to on hardwood.

I don't really think that there are any countries outside of the middle east where a woman could be arrested for wearing a sports bra and a low-cut bikini bottom on the beach. The women can also wear bermuda shorts and t-shirts like the men do.

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate."
--Steven Wright--


Submitted by JMadison on August 23, 2008 - 3:59am.
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How about rooftop volleyball?

One can't help wondering that some, if not much, of the appeal of beach volleyball might be due to the scanty outfits. If huge crowds all over the world are flocking to see the games, I can't help wondering if they don't have anything better to do.

I wonder also what it's like being in the back row of a beach volleyball stadium where tens of thousands come to watch.

It probably is more demanding physically, but I don't see that as a qualification as an Olympic event. How many volleyball events does an Olympics need? Again, how about bed of nails volleyball? Hot coals volleyball? Two feet of water? Trampoline? Pogo stick? Rooftop, now that would be interesting.

Because a certain attire is acceptable on most beaches doesn't mean it is appropriate for the Olympics. If so, then, again, why not go full Monty? It would be more consistent with the original Olympic spirit, and would allow the news media to create more hype. There's money in them there games.

Actually, global warming will likely solve the issue. It would be interesting to see what beach volleyball players look like in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. Skin like leather, scars from basal cell surgeries, onset of melanoma, hiding from the sun.

Submitted by JAH on August 23, 2008 - 3:27pm.
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JAH...

...you can really be a bummer.

If you don't like watching sports, that's fine. But most people do, and it doesn't mean that they "have nothing better to do". It's entertainment, just like TV, movies, and even reading and blogging.

There are two volleyball events, and beach volleyball is by far the more popular. Team volleyball has never been a big spectator sport anywhere.

I don't understand why athletic wear is inappropriate for the Olympics. A lot of women like American football because of the tight pants. Track suits are also revealing, not to mention the suits worn for diving. Should we eliminate track and field as well?

If you don't like it, don't watch it. That's cool. But don't belittle those of us who like sports. I'm going to root for our team, just like I root for my local sports teams. That doesn't make me jingoistic. Just a fan.

BTW, I used to be a competitive marksman at the international level, so I've also competed. But not at the Olympics. Didn't make the cut at the '87 trials.
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"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate."
--Steven Wright--


Submitted by JMadison on August 23, 2008 - 5:43pm.
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Once more, by the numbers

I was a marksman once too. Here's the proof. Here's some more. I worked at a trap and skeet range once too. I was pretty average, 23-24 out of 25. In my days of duck hunting I was pretty good at shooting Wood Ducks and Teal, no mean feat (Then I had a B.B. King experience - the thrill was gone. I don't eat meat anymore either). I also played football and ran track, with a tad less success. Probably my greatest success was in CYO basketball, where our ragtag team, including a former Little League World Series star, beat almost every team in the league (The refs were afraid of the team we didn't beat. It's OK. They needed the championship more than we did). I also anchored a swimming relay team in the Boy Scouts, bringing our team from last to second. And, in Army basic training, managed to do pretty good in "PT" tests.

I actually enjoyed the Olympics more than I do watching sports in general on TV. Amateur athletics are more pure and uncluttered by money, and also more likely to elicit spontaneity and selflessness. I tend to be a fan of the Chicago Bears, but can't watch a game for more than a few minutes. It's too brutal, and too hyped. The announcers just can't keep their mouths shut. It isn't rocket science, and I feel perfectly capable of recognizing that a great catch is a great catch all by my lonesome.

In the Olympics I found most of the sports good to watch. No matter how mediocre one was as an athlete, the Olympics always inspire. One of the great things about being on the high school track team was that you could try out every event. I ran the mile, but also tried out the shot and discus, high jump, low and high hurdles, sprints, relays, broad jump (now the long jump), and even the pole vault - the hardest of all, in my experience. Having done all that, and been in and around track meets, what the athletes go through is something I can relate to.

Maybe I'm just showing my age, but I can remember when "uniforms" in athletics were modest (except maybe basketball) relative to today. I think it's more about connotation than any absolute standard. In Western culture, a woman wearing a bikini that rides up on the gluteus maximi area creates an image in the minds of most men of sexual intimacy, of revealing private areas that are normally shown away from public view in exclusive situations. It can't help but distract from the experience of watching the athletic performance, and also to inspire an abundance of crude jokes around the world.

I did stop watching beach volleyball. I probably would have watched more if they were attired like the indoor players were. I'm not a total prude. If they were to go full Monty, I would likely have watched the entire matches. There can be standards in any sphere of activity, and that includes the Olympics.

When I was young, the Olympic heroes were Rafer Johnson, Wilma Rudolph, Cassius Clay (now Muhammad Ali), Bill Bradley, Jerry Lucas, Billy Mills, and Al Oerter. My inspiration to run came from Roger Bannister, the first person to break the four-minute mile. Probably my greatest sports hero is Sandy Koufax, the Dodger left-hander who had such a perfect delivery. I got to watch him pitch in a World Series game by lucky happenstance (he lost) in 1965. We sneaked into some box seats behind the Dodger dugout, and got to see him up close. I still remember it like it was yesterday.

Standards were different then. You didn't have the athletes' (formerly) private areas thrust in your face, so to speak. I think they could actually perform better, at least in beach volleyball, if they didn't have the added concern of revealing too much. I suppose to some of them it doesn't matter.

I should mention something about basal cell carcinoma. I have some knowledge of the disease, having had three surgeries to remove lesions, or nodules. It's the least serious of the three forms of skin cancer, but is no fun. I had many sunburns when I was growing up, largely due to swimming and playing baseball. Celtic skin was a contributing factor. A person of paler complexion would be wise to avoid long sun exposure, especially in this era of compromised ozone shield.

Maybe beach volleyball does deserve to be in the Olympics. It just seems to me to be a bit much, too many sports, without much reason to be on the world stage. The original Olympics were not meant to be an engorgement in sports, but for a mixture of reasons having to do with ritual, passage of time, cessation of warfare, and to engage in sportsmanship and excellence.

In today's world, the athletes have to overcome the money needs and greeds of nations and corporations. It's hard to watch them above the hype, but probably even harder to participate in them above the hype, continually being pestered by corporate shills for TV and other media.

I don't have any problem criticizing the Olympics. I'll watch the games if I feel like it, and turn them off when I feel like it. Saying "If you don't like it, don't watch it" is similar to saying "Love it or leave it," as if wishing for something better somehow disqualifies one from participation.

It's also the equivalent of saying that if one thinks the Bush criminal regime is deserving of life imprisonment at hard labor, then he or she should lose the right to vote.

I believe the members of the Bush criminal regime should be imprisoned at hard labor for the rest of their lives. I vote, and I write a blog, which I more often than not repost here. It isn't much, but it beats doing nothing. I'm not much of a spectator, but I spectate whenever I feel like it.

When I referred to Jingoism, it was about NBC. I can cheer for the "U.S." without any help, thank you, and mostly did. For instance, the men's volleyball team. I missed the women's - must have been at work. I caught some of the swimming events, the diving, and the rowing. But most of all, I watched the women gymnasts. I only watched them by accident, but was immediately taken with their poise, skill, personality, and sportsmanship. Or is it sportswomanship? Whatever, they were an instant inspiration.

I don't care about the flag waving anymore. It used to be annoying, but it's more subdued these days, for obvious reasons.

Now what did I do with that nerf ball? Here's what I use for a bankboard (I guess they call it backboard these days).
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It's kind of nifty that someone has tried to silence me. I've said things many times that made some people feel threatened. If you aren't stirring things up, then you aren't doing much of what needs to be done. I've been very, very lucky. There have been much more serious attempts to keep me quiet. One of these days I will be. Until then, I just have to thank the Great Spirit for lettin' me be myself, again.
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It's like a jungle sometimes. It makes me wonder how I keep from goin' under.

One way to keep from goin' under is to stay happy.

Here's some inspiration from Bing Crosby.

Here's who's really smarter.

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