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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.

Friday, January 03, 2014

There's Sucker Born Every Minute

The weatherman on TV last night predicted the worst cold spell since 1996. I well remember the 1996 winter. I was working as a TV cable installer, and was out in the subzero cold every day. One Sunday I was out when the temperature was -35 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily, all the work I did that day was indoors. The cable company told us not to keep the engines running on our trucks to keep them warm. No one obeyed.

That was pretty typical of the cable company. The pay was low, we got harassed, and if you talked about organizing a union you would get fired. I haven't subscribed to cable since then. I do fine with a converter box. I mostly watch public television, but a couple of extra channels offer reruns of old programs like Barney Miller and WKRP in Cincinnati. These shows are far better than the current network offerings, though Parks and Recreation is supposed to be pretty good. I keep forgetting to watch.

Last night I couldn't find anything worth watching, and scouted around for a bowl game. I'm not much of a football fan, but can handle a bowl game for a while. There were none to watch. I found this hard to believe, and did a Web search for bowl games. It turns out that almost all of them are on ESPN, and of the few bowl games on network TV, none showed yesterday.

De nada. To me, every football game is the same - man hike ball, man throw ball or hand off to other man, man grab man with ball, throw him to the ground, man clobber other man, crowd cheers wildly. It's just bread and circus. TV is a diversion, so when there's nothing worthwhile to watch it's a good reminder to to something useful.

When I looked the bowl games up on the ESPN site I was surprised to find out that there are so many of them. When I was young there were four: the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and the Rose Bowl. They were all shown on network TV on January 1 every year. Then the NCAA and the TV networks realized there was money to be made in having more bowls. Many more. There are now thirty-five college football bowl games between December 21 and January 6. There are 125 colleges competing in Division 1 football. With 70 teams playing in bowls, this means 56 percent of colleges in Division 1 send a football team to a bowl game. It's almost like the Special Olympics, where everyone wins a prize.

More like a racket. When more than half the teams eligible play in a "championship," the championships don't mean much. The four original bowl games don't even have their original names anymore. The Orange Bowl is now the Discover Orange Bowl. The Sugar Bowl is now the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Cotton Bowl is now the AT&T Cotton Bowl. The Rose Bowl is in a bit of a grey area, retaining its original name, but hawked as the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO. Some bowls, like the Capital One Bowl, the Go Daddy Bowl, and the Chick-fil-A Bowl, don't even bother with a cover name, just called by their corporate sponsors.

P.T. Barnum is credited with inventing the term  there's a sucker born every minute, but it apparently was someone else. Whatever the case, what it means is that it is easy to trick people out of their money. It's actually pretty easy to trick people about just about anything - politics, consumer products, religion, science, entertainment. Spying on us to "keep us safe." Weapons of mass destruction in "Iraq." Combine this with the proliferation of psychopaths in the population, and we have a recipe for disaster. You can hardly blame people for getting excited about the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (which was lost by one of my alma maters, Northern Illinois).

What to do about it? I don't know, but this year I plan on meditating more. It's not exactly a resolution, but an intention. It's a lot better than watching TV, and better for humanity, according to the wise.
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Here's a little more bowl trivia. New Orleans had two bowl games, the R+L Carriers Bowl and the Allstate Sugar Bowl. They were played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Shreveport, Louisiana also had a bowl game, the AdvoCare V100 Bowl.

San Diego had two bowl games, the S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl and the National University Holiday Bowl, both held at Qualcomm Stadium. Dallas had one bowl game, the Heart of Dallas Bowl, held at the Cotton Bowl. The AT&T Cotton Bowl was held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl was held in nearby Fort Worth.

There also was a Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman, held in Annapolis, but no service academies played in it. Texas had three other bowl games - the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, and the Texas Bowl in Houston. The Bluebonnet Bowl no longer exists.

There were two bowls held at the Florida Citrus Bowl, neither of them named the Florida Citrus Bowl: The Capital One Bowl and the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Capital One Bowl used to be called the Tangerine Bowl, then the Florida Citrus Bowl. Florida also hosted the Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl in St. Petersburg, the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, and the Outback Bowl in Tampa, which used to be known as the Hall of Fame Bowl. The Discover Orange Bowl is no longer held at the Orange Bowl, which has been torn down, but at Miami Sun Life Stadium, which used to be Joe Robbie Stadium.

R.I.P. Phil Everly.

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