Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening day annoyances

It's opening day in baseball and I'm a NY Yankees fan and so begins the half of the year that I spend defending myself and my beloved Yankees. The attacks have already started, preemptively, and slightly more lighthearted in nature but they'll be in full swing. Before that happens, I'm going to break it down for you. If you're a NOT a Yankees fan, read this so you'll understand. If you are, give this to someone who is not so that they may be enlightened.

Year after year people (Yankees haters) criticize the Yankees and say they suck. We remind them that the Bronx Bombers have won 27 World Series and they when they do suck, they're just tired from winning so much. Then they throw at us, that the Yankees don't win championships, they buy them. Here's where the conversation gets hot.

None of the Yankees' championships have been earned. They have all be stolen by the riches of Steinbrenners. I understand that NY has an unfair advantage over Milwaukee with its demographic. New York has more people and amore affluence than most other locations. This means they can charge more for ticket prices and at the concessions and have their own TV channel (YES Network) and people will pay. The revenue turns into  higher salaries for players or more big name players. That's the breaks. We can't help that New York has more people living in it. I'm sorry that Kansas City is not a bustling metropolis spawned from turn of the century immigration, but it's not. More people = more money and New York just has it.

As for how that money is spent, let's address why we have the big names in NY. So if you have limitless funds or nearly limitless funds; you just won a $200 million PowerBall lottery... will the next car dealership you walk into be a Kia? You've been given an insane amount of funding for your new company, are you going to hire high school dropout and ex-convicts?

I'm pretty sure I've said, at least once before, the business of business is business. The business of sports is business... and winning (not in a Charlie Sheen way). If I have a team and the money to win, I'm going to make sure that happens. By the way, the money isn't buying the championship. The money is buying the talent to win the championship. League officials are not paid off to call the World Series in the Yankees favor (not any more than any other major league sports corruption anyway). I would hire the best people for the job in any industry and that's what happens in baseball with the Yankees. Are we here to lose?

If you think this is unfair, you may be right. But where is the onus? The MLBPA and the MLB have not instituted a salary cap. So, for now, the Yankees are playing the hand they are dealt. They have more money due to location and they use that to their advantage. That's smart business. So if you have a beef with the Yankees and the hight priced player, save it. Call the players' association and talk about leveling the playing field with a salary cap.

I'm just done hearing complaints that a team keeps winning when they are playing by the rules and doing well at it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Year of the Vig

Right before the start of 2011, I had a lot of good things happening. I was in the beginning of a relationship, new position at work, solid bunch of friends, and a decent bit of cash. It was supposed to be the year of the Vig, as far as I was concerned. Since 2001, every year had some soft of upheaval from 9/11 to my enlistment and deployments; even a divorce. So, 2011 was going to be my year. By the end of February, things had changed. First the relationship tanked. Shortly thereafter, management decided to make a change and I was ousted from my new position - realistically, they needed someone to do the job full time which I couldn't do along with teaching. Either way, it was a new and exciting opportunity that fell apart. The first few months of 2011 have been a roller coaster ride with more ups and downs than the closing price of the Dow Jones index.

Relationships come and go and those that revolve around insanity, fluctuations, and an overall inability to act like an adult leave not so distraught. Any breakup is a loss or, at least, an adjustment. So I adjusted. I still had enough going for me. That's when the job shit hit me. Once again, I understand the reasoning and it truly does make sense at the end of the day, but it's still something else that was taken away.

Lately, the friend thing has taken a hit as well. I haven't lost friends, but it seems that the instant switch from Mississippi cold to heat has short circuited the brains of some people. I just feel drama around lots of people. And it's not just with me and my friends. It's with some friends and other friends. It's between totally separate groups of people that I overhear at work and other places. I don't get it.

Why don't people just let others be? If you don't like someone, ignore them. Why start shit? If someone at work isn't pulling their weight (by your standards), tough. Pick up the slack. Maybe it sucks now, but you'll go places and they won't. If your friend has more money than you, use it at motivation to make more or do more or be progressive about your life. I wanna be 10 again where we rode our bikes, knocked on a door and asked Jimmy's mom if he could come out and play. If he could, great; if not, we knocked on a different door. There was no judgment back then. We all live our lives under a microscope and I feel it's because the people who we CHOOSE to call our friends are constantly holding us accountable for doing (or not doing) what THEY want.

So, despite the curve balls (which are only a little league kinda curve) that life has thrown me so far in 2011, I've made a decision. This year IS the year of the Vig. I don't care about any other drama. I'm pumping out tons of content five websites on a weekly basis or more. My cash flow is well in the positive direction. I'm gaining lots of traction with companies about social media and tech projects.

I don't need drama and refuse to accept it into my life. I live MY life. I'm single, I'm alone. I do what I need to do to be fiscally sound, progress in my life (school, business), and be happy. If you want to join me, I'd love to have you along for the ride. We'll have a few beers, many laughs, take some pictures for posterity and enjoy our time. If you don't, ok then - do your thing. Run your race.

I'm going to work my ass off at my full-time job, keep plugging away at school, provide informational/entertaining content across all my endeavors and spend time with people who are simple. If you're judgmental about how I live, go away. If you create drama, go away. If you have a hard time just meeting up for a good time, go away. Oh... yeah... If you're a megaphone mouth that has to tell the world everything you hear and don't know the definitions of - secret, tact, confidence, go away. If none of that sounds like you and you're a dependable, trustworthy, and affable individual who adds positive to value to my life, call me immediately.

This is not directed at someone in particular; not even in a subdued kinda way. I'm not being cryptic. I'm just saying, I'm getting refocused - this time on me and what my life needs. In 2 years, it will undergo a huge change and I want to be as prepared as possible and most of that comes from the mental standpoint. I also want to enjoy my life along the way.

So this year, 2011, is absolutely, 100%, indubitably, the year of the Vig. Maybe not for you, but you're not me in the first place, are you? Good things will happen for me, because I will make it so. Hopefully, good people will join me in the process.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Good luck

I recall recently talking about luck. I said that there is no luck. Luck is merely recognizing opportunity. I was thinking about luck a little further this morning. See... this morning I took a test that will, in part, determine if I get promoted in the Air Force. Naturally, everyone chimed in this morning via text, email, social networking, etc to wish me luck.

First of all, I do very much appreciate the well wishes and votes of confidence. In no way, do I mean to detract from the intent there. My thoughts are about language usage as a culture. It seems that saying "good luck" to someone before a test, event, etc is silly and, in some ways, offensive. Again, the way it has come to be used, it is nothing but good wishes, but the literal verbiage seems away from the intent.

When someone is going to test or perform or be in a sporting event, it would seem that they are there because of their skills. They will do well due to preparation, practice and ability. Wishing someone luck, by definition, implies that doing well is not within the realm of control. We should say "you'll do well" or, simply, "do well." I think I'll start that trend in my life. When someone asks me, "aren't you going to wish me luck?" I'll say, "No. you studied so do well. I won't wish for an intangible force to guide you because I believe you have the ability to complete this on your own." Maybe I'll be less verbose, but you get the idea.

I guess the current connotation of words is more important than the dictionary definition. For example, it doesn't matter what the dictionary says, nobody is running around proclaiming "I'm gay" when they are simply in a good mood. I guess that is what happens when a word is used over and over again. It becomes colloquial.

So maybe I'm being too literal, but it was something that crossed my mind. Maybe if I had less thoughts like this there would be more room for the stuff I studied so I wouldn't need the luck in the first place. Maybe I'm fried from my test and rambling.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just Say It

Why do so many people have a hard time just opening their mouths and spitting out the words they have to say to another person? I'll never understand this. Communication amongst people sucks. This why we have so many damn problems. Nobody talks anymore. If you've got a beef, just say it.

I think very few people out there go out of their way to hurt people they know. Most times it's a misunderstanding or the person hurt is collateral damage. So if you're pissed at me, it's one of the following:

  1. You misunderstood what I said and I wasn't being hurtful at all.
  2. It's something I feel personally deeply about but it's not aimed at you.
  3. I did a poor job of saying it the way I meant it and gave you the wrong idea.
  4. The medium of choice (email, text, internet) left out inflection, tone and body language so there's no way the message was gonna get across.
  5. It was overheard and, therefore, out of context.
  6. Finally, we are out of regular touch so there's no way you can possible know exactly what I'm thinking.
Notice that NONE of the above are about being hurtful. So, if you know me, you didn't need to read the above. I go out of my way to be there for friends, 100% of the time. If you think differently, then you haven't been paying attention.

That being said, why in the world would someone decide I did something that pissed them off when we haven't spoken in a month or more, use that opportunity to digitally cut me out of their life (when we haven't spoken in a month or more), and then tell everyone "he pissed me off." Nobody cares. Nobody understands. Nobody even thinks it's realistic since they know that it's hard to piss off someone you don't see or talk to or interact with in any way.

If it was true, why not say "Dude, that was a prick move on your part." Give me a chance to explain or at least know why you feel that way. Don't be a sneak about it. Don't run off and not tell the person then bow up in front of mutual friends like you did something. Asinine behavior. Beer muscles is what it was.

Now, before you come back at me and mention my last 2 blogs that were cryptic in the same way I'm complaining about. Here's the difference, as I see it:
  1. I wasn't talking so much about individuals specifically as much as i was in general about the way to do things. It was allegorical.
  2. I don't have a beef with the people I referenced in the most recent blog. Not a huge fan of individual scenarios, but I love the folks nonetheless.
  3. Part of the topic was that people choose sides and walk away, leaving little recourse to share your thoughts even if you wanted to.
The funny part is that 2 blogs ago was about 2 people. One of them was linked to the situation in the last blog and is part of today's. Just goes to show that one person can do lots of damage when acting inappropriately, immaturely and irrationally.

This wasn't supposed to be about the situation. This was supposed to be about my lack of understanding as to why people cannot communicate. It's the most important thing in the world.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Be Your Own Person

I may sometimes be labeled as stubborn, bull-headed, rigid, unyielding, or mulish. I like to think of myself as determined, strong-minded, tenacious, or strong-willed. Either way, the point is that I don't easily let go of how I feel about something. I also, generally, feel deeply one way or the other about it. I rarely waffle or float in the middle. Frankly, I'm less of a fan of centrists than I am leftists (politically speaking). Naturally, I like when people agree with me - we all do. It makes life easier when people agree with something we believe in strongly.

If people are not going to agree with me deeply, I prefer them to disagree sharply. Why? Because I respect people who take a stand and are not easily influenced. I really have a hard time dealing with someone who is like a feather in a current of air being pushed around any little breeze. Be an adult, "man up" as they say, and make a decision. Feel something. Decide something. Be your own person.

That also holds true when it comes to feeling toward a friend. Yes, this rant was going somewhere all along and now that the stage is set, we can truly begin. No matter what your two dopey friends tell you; the relationship is not going to last and when they break up, things are gonna be awkward. It's going to leave you in the middle. Sorry, but that's what happens. It is an unfortunate and unnecessary responsibility for you to bear the weight of, but that's what we call collateral damage. So, make a decision.

You will either:
  1. Choose one side
  2. Choose the other side
  3. Make an effort to remain neutral.

Remaining neutral requires more work than anything else. You'd think it would require less but nothing could be further from the truth. You would think that you just do nothing at all and there you go. Wrong-o pal! You have to manage both relationships.

Realistically, that's the right thing to do. It sucks, I get it. It's not fair, roger that. But it's the right thing to do. The right thing often is the hardest. There's that climb to the high road.

In MY life, that doesn't happen. I'm second fiddle. I knew it would happen. I felt the shift. I caught the chilly tingle of an inadvertent cold shoulder. Then I realized that it was over. It was complete. That's fine. It happens. Luckily for me, I don't put all my eggs in one loosely constructed friendship basket. So I don't end up alone.

My problem isn't that people go a different direction in life. My problem isn't even that people's directions conflicts with mine. That's what makes the world go 'round. My beef is quiet simply that some people don't choose to go a different direction. They are influenced by others. My problem is that certain friends have excluded me from certain things at the behest of another individual. Since when do we, as adults, allow ourselves to be enslaved in our decision making processes? It is especially annoying because the decision maker is not a spouse or anyone other than friend. This friend was just as close as I was. Yet, here I am low on the priority scale.

And just to make sure we have some icing on this cake, when I run into the friends that I no longer see, due to this wacky person's requests, they pretend none of it is happening. They laden the conversation with "I miss you" and "we need to hang out" and "it's been so long since we all hung out," when in reality, they've had every opportunity and chose not to use it because someone else told them so. Treating me like a fool who doesn't know that it is happening is the cherry on top of the icing.

So, here's the deal. Are you ready?
  1. Be an adult and see your friends regardless if whether their ex-partner/friend/etc says not to
  2. If you have to drop anyone, drop the one trying to make you choose
  3. If you're ridiculous enough to do neither of the above, come out with it and say
  4. Finally, never under any circumstances add insult to injury by pretending the one you cut out doesn't see/feel it happening.

I'm sure this will change nothing in my present situation and most people will not heed it and prevent it in their own lives in the future. That's just the way it goes. People who get pushed around, just get pushed around.

As for the one doing the pushing... if you read this, you're a spineless individual as well. Pushing around people that allow it doesn't make you anything more than a manipulative, puppeteer, but we knew this about you already, didn't we?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Trusting my instincts

Twice in the past two days people showed their true colors and confirmed my initial suspicions about how they conduct business. I've always prided myself on being a good judge of character and my ability to read people. Lately, however, I feel I've lost that edge and I have accepted the bill of sale handed me by others about people. I should trust my instincts.

One individual is a guy I met about a year and a half ago. I had a feeling about this guy from from the get-go. Something about him told me that he was not a person of outstanding character. He was included in a group of people I spent time with and was vouched for by all of them. Reluctantly, I accepted him with full credibility. I figured I was misreading this person if everyone else could stand behind his judgment. Over time, I had sneaking suspicions that I may have been right, but without confirmation. Again I was told that I'm reading into it and to let it go. Then there was some blatantly inappropriate behavior that indirectly affected me on the personal side. He was out of my inner loop immediately. Then there was a professional issue which made me collateral damage to his inability to do what is right, have integrity, or show any semblance of a work ethic. He was out of my professional loop. As it turns out, a slew of information about choices he's made have come to light. I had him pegged from minute one. I should have stuck to my guns. He was exactly the person I thought him to be - only he took it to a whole other level of sneakiness.

I forgive a lot of people their indiscretions for two reasons. The first is that if it doesn't affect me, I'm in no place to judge. The other is that, those who know me a long time can attest to the fact that I've made my share of mistakes and then some. One thing I can't seem to overlook is when someone is a sneak. It violates my trust to the core for that person about everything. I knew it.

The other one is actually much worse. I knew a female who was a decent friend and fun whenever we had beers. Seemed attractive and sweet but there was something else that I wasn't sure about. She seemed very rigid in some ways. Her way or no way. All or none. Jump through her hoops or she wants no part. When things took a turn and we got closer as friends with a hint of romanticism, I backed away sharply. I was told over and over again by mutual friends that it's a defensive posture she sets up for herself but she's not that way. I was convinced to dig in my heels and get passed it and I'd see. I bought this load of nonsense hook, line and sinker. We dated casually. We grew closer. All of a sudden she went VFR direct from a sweet girl in my life to an overreacting maniac to which there was no reasoning. After the fact, some folks on the outskirts of the group of friends told me they saw this coming. The inner circle was agape.

If there was to be no romance, there would be time for the dust to settle and back to square one as friends. I was for it. I even stayed in basic contact with members of her family to the point that there was a long exchange with a member of her nuclear family during which I received an apology for being on the receiving side of her irrational reactions along with an explanation for the catalyst and a recommendation for going forward should we try for round two - neither of which I'll divulge out of respect for the promise I made that day.

So what happened? I checked in with her while she was in recovery from a procedure. Barely got a response. I know what you're thinking and I'll tell you that I knew she wanted no contact from a bunch of people and was getting daily updates from the person that she kept close. I approached her only after I  was told that the coast was clear and she was up to being in touch again. Then things of mine she had and was due to give me the next time we hung out appeared on my desk at work. Then her and her family disappeared from Facebook. So, no friends at all. This has now created an awkward situation considering the mutual friends are still friends with both of us and, clearly, hanging out like nothing happened would be an issue.

During the brief stint while things were terrific, it was my job to provide near hourly assurance that if the bottom fell out, I would always be there and we would go back to how it was and not worse. Promises were made, promises were not kept. I know how it goes. You're friends, you date, you want to be friends again - in reality, you never are. It changes. "It doesn't have to. We won't let it." So I agreed and assured her for my part. Here we stand today. Not together, not friends, not even well enough to peacefully coexist on a social networking site with 500 million others. And to think that when she pleaded to return a minor amount of cash to me I laid out for some things, I refused because we're closer and better friends than that. I didn't get an explanation.

I knew that she wasn't someone who prepared to alter her life even an iota for someone she claimed wasn't important. I knew she was independent enough to want her way constantly and react adversely the moment she didn't get it. I saw all this coming. But in a moment of goofy guy weakness I fell for the wiles of a pretty girl. My inner ability to read people being the angel on one shoulder and my friends saying "it'll be fine, go for it" the devil on the other. Should have stuck to my instincts yet again.

The other thing I can't tolerate in addition to sneakiness, is hypocrisy. I don't expect people to do what I want or meet my expectations and I'm fully aware that, as a human, my expectations may be self-serving at times and slightly unreasonable. This is where our confidants put us in check as the voice of reason. That aside I have one expectation from people - do what you say you will. I don't expect you to call me at a certain time or come over on a particular day. But if YOU say, "Dude, I'll be at your house at 3pm sharp on Saturday" and when I call at 3:15pm to see what happend and you say, "oh I changed my mind" I'm gonna be pissed you couldn't pick up the phone like an adult and let me know. Even worse is the disappearing act. You don't have to help me out with a, b, or c, but if you promise you will, then show up and do it. YOU said you'd do it, not me. Can't do one thing and say another. Can't bitch about your weight while spitting Arby's curly fries all over me. Can't complain about how the next door neighbor gossips as part of a story you overheard through the fence from their backyard. It's one or it's the other.

To my friends who try to sway me and sell me on someone I'm a little stand-offish about... don't. It's my time to trust my gut again. It has always been a point of pride that I could read people and I've let my guard down. Maybe I'm out of the city too long. Maybe I need to be back in the corporate world to find my appropriate level of cynicism. Does jadedness fade? I understand you are trying to help but your misguided attempts make you more like The Great Gazoo of my life.

I'm sure neither one of these people will read this, nor will anyone else that can make the connection. For all I know, I'm talking to myself half the time, which is kind of a shame. I'd LOVE for either one to address this like adults. Even if they see it, they wouldn't because I have them dead to rights on how they conduct themselves. All could have been avoided if I just listened to myself.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

People or animals?

So I got roped into some stupid survey online as I was procrastinating this morning. At one point I came across a question and it's possible answers that read:

  • Which is worse; starving children or abused animals?
    • Starving children
    • Abused animals
    • Neither, both are good
    • Neither, both are equally bad
There was immediately one choice available for me. First of all, let's go ahead and discount the "both are good" answer since that's just inane. I cannot imagine anyone also saying that abused animals are worse than starving children either, so we'll count that one out. This still leaves 2 answers. It still seems like an open and shut case, but for some reason I'm surprised at the answer I saw other people choose. And since I never learn my lesson when it comes to dealing with people online, I'm surprised that I'm surprised. Realistically, I should have seen this coming.

The answer that surprised me was "neither, both are equally bad." How can this be? One is an animal and the other is a human being. Just to be 100% sure we are clear here - I'm a pet owner. I have nothing against animals. I'm often made fun of for how I treat my little furry friends like people and my children. I love them dearly. At no point do they actually equal people though - ever.

We have a limited about of resources (be it time or money) and that should not be split down the middle for children and animals. Remember, animals were wild creatures that we'd eat until we, as humans, chose to domesticate them and keep them as pets. They don't work or pay the rent. They don't provide meaningful conversation. They depend on us because we made it so. Children depend on us because they are incapable or sustaining themselves, they are our offspring, and our species rears its children.

I'm not saying we should all take classes on how to make extra cash by Michael Vick. I'm not even saying you should stop helping prevent animal cruelty or abuse. But in what world is an animal and a child worth the same? If there's a starving a child and an abused animal side by side and you have enough time or money to help only one... would you really have to stop and wonder which way to go?

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm not sensitive enough to certain things. I don't know. The only thing I do know is that a PERSON will always hold more importance than an animal to me.

I don't understand what you meme

Once again I find myself in a love-hate relationship with the Internet. It's really a very important thing to society and me personally. But the Web 2.0/Social Media movement leaves me fearful. I shouldn't be because people aren't any different than before. We just get to hear more of what used to be their inner monologues or things that were said one-on-one during personal conversations.

It seems that the social side of the web has enabled everyone to rally support for a cause. This is a fantastic ability. The unfortunate nature of our fickle society means we rally around a new cause as often as we change our underpants. Additionally, putting things in text makes it easier to associate feeling words that don't necessarily reflect how we actually feel. You wouldn't tell someone you love or hate them in person unless the feeling was very truly there. Slinging those words around online seems to come much more naturally.

By the way, a meme (pronounced meem) is a fairly new word that revolves around an idea or belief that is transferred from one person to another. The reposting, retweeting, reblogging that happens online where one person says something and before you know it, all 300 of your Facebook friends are saying the same thing is an example of an Internet meme. It is not totally dissimilar from the chain letters of yesteryear. Sometimes these memes are funny, but more often than not, they are annoying and pointless and exhibit the "drama queen" nature of social networking participants.

Some time ago there was the Facebook meme that required users to change their default photo to that of a cartoon character in order to raise awareness for and prevent child abuse. I still fail to make the connection between thumbnails of cartoon characters and child abuse prevention. There have been others. Post a picture of your pet to prevent animal cruelty. What is the line of thinking here? That the offenders will see these pics and have a crisis of conscience and mend their evil ways? That would imply rational thought, something the deviants who commit these crimes lack in the first place.

Last week was some anniversary of the rapper Notorious B.I.G. He was shot and killed many years ago. I believe I read this was the tenth. In any event, my Twitter feed was peppered with 140 characters worth of gangster rap lyrics by the dead crack dealer turned rapper; all taken out of context to illustrate some poetic justice about the all too soon passing of a musical visionary. The guy could rhyme. So could Dr. Seuss but he didn't go to jail on a weapons charge. Of course, people were weeping on their virtual walls and asking the "why?" to the great virtual abyss. Some were reminding the still anonymous assailant that he is worthless and robbed us of our musical culture. People were literally crying little digital tears throughout the day. One poster mentioned she just couldn't find her way to work that morning, as she was too upset about it all. You have GOT to be kidding me.

Two days ago, Japan was brutally assaulted by a tsunami as a result of an 8.8 magnitude earthquake. This is awful. It created death and destruction. People are missing and unaccounted for. Terrible news indeed. Hearing about these events in the world saddens me. I've felt the pain of having family and friends of ripped away suddenly during a catastrophe. I wish everyone in Japan the best and I hope they can recover from this. First it was the atomic bomb, then Godzilla, now this. Poor Japanese folks have it rough.

I'm not making light of the situation, truly I'm not. What I'm also NOT doing is pouring my heart out and praying for everyone. I'm not heartbroken. I'm not devastated. The denizens of affected areas are devastated. I'm sympathetic to their plight but certainly cannot empathize, seeing as how the closest I've come to a tidal wave was when some quarter-ton bimbo did the bikini bonsai into my pool (notice the alliterative Japanese reference there?). So let's get back to the real issue here - Americans are heartbroken and devastated. Is that really possible? I had to define these two words. Heartbroken = suffering from overwhelming distress. Devastate = destroy or ruin. Both of those sound like feelings that there's no coming back from.

To make matters worse, shortly after the event, up cropped the messages to text "help" to 123456 and donate $10 to the Red Cross for aid for Japan. You can text JayVig to 50500 and get contact information for me. What's the correlation? Setting up a text message service like that takes all of about 5 minutes. Do you know your 10 bucks is going to the Red Cross? Do you know it's only $10? Even if both are true, how much of the $10 you appropriate to Japan will find Japan and how much will be used for "overhead" of the organization? If you are into blindly sending money across the Information Superhighway in hopes it lands at its intended destination, I have a solution. Send it to me. I promise I will NOT use it as intended, but at least you won't be left wondering.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't be upset or concerned. I'm not saying you shouldn't help. I'm just saying that your level of distress should be commensurate with your involvement and more importantly, a sane perspective. If you are truly devastated over what happened in Japan or go to pieces when you remember that the ex-convict rapper died a decade ago, how will you handle things that actually happen to YOU or your family?

Can we have some semblance of sense and react in a way that is not analogous to running around with our hair on fire?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Study what it means, not just the numbers

I got about halfway through an article on this morning about ethnic diversity within military leadership. I would have read the whole thing but I was disgusted by how ludicrous, inane, asinine, etc one article could be. A report from 2009 said that 77% of leadership across the military is comprised of white males. The study, commissioned by Congress, claims this is caused by several factors, one of which is the inability for females to serve in combat positions. "Efforts over the years to develop a more equal opportunity military have increased the number of women and racial and ethnic minorities in the ranks of leadership. But, the report said, “despite undeniable successes ... the armed forces have not yet succeeded in developing a continuing stream of leaders who are as diverse as the nation they serve.”

There is so much wrong with this article that I'm not really sure where to begin. Looking at the Air Force, for example, we have females in all levels of leadership. We don't have the combat positions of the Army. That doesn't apply to the Air Force nearly as much as other branches of service. I do not know about the Navy's level of combat positions and how that applies. Whether you like it or not, women and ment are anatomically and physiologically different. That means that not everyone is cut out for the same job at the same level. If a woman is capable of doing the job, then so be it. The lack of woman in combat positions is not military saying "we don't them there." It's about mission capability and that's the decision. Retired General Lyles commented how women never complained about missing combat or were anxious to get into it, by and large. They want to serve where their skills allow. Putting women into combat situations brings up other sticky issues. There are, very often, a lack of facilities in the field. Women would be forced to sleep, shower, and change in the same areas as men. Combat positions are, however, crucial to promotions at the highest levels of leadership.

77% are white males. How many African-Americans or Hispanics you ask? 8% and 5% respectively. Let's remember that this study was commissioned by Congress. And the rates among them? 9.5% and 3%. How can Congress complain about the percentage of whites leading the military when Congress has a higher percentage themselves? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

It's not about discrimination. It is qualified individuals leading our military. The current commander of Second Air Force, which is responsible for Basic Military Training and Technical Training for EVERY single enlistee, is Major General Mary Hertog. It is safe to say that women are making an impact in the military environment.

Of the 435 members of Congress only 121 have military experience as well. That is a mere 27%.

Given the current economic climate and government or military budget cuts, is an independent study like this the smartest and most worthwhile use of our resources?

This post was not well thought out and had a terrible flow. This is due to the insanity of the article and the personal offense I take with it. One of my two greatest military heroes during my career was a female, Major Keren Preston. I love her as a person. I respect her as a leader and she has helped shape me throughout my career into the best possible Non-Commissioned Officer I can be. Oh, and she's African American.

EDIT: I forgot about the promotion system. For enlisted personnel, there are several factors - time in grade, time in service, 2 tests, awards/decorations, performance reports. Your career is in your hands. For officers, there are boards, there are things the individual can do to improve scores. Personal readiness and physical fitness play a part. Once again, career is in your own hands. As someone mentioned to me, once an officer is selected for General, it requires an act of Congress to approve. So if Congress doesn't see enough of a particular demographic in leadership positions... maybe it's THEM.

Always remember, if the opposite of pro is con. What's the opposite of progress?

Monday, March 07, 2011

The pedestal of sports figures

February and March are difficult times of the year. Baseball hasn't quite ramped up yet and football is already long over. When football ends, I feel like someone has just broken up with me. Usually, it is ok because I know it'll be back. This year I'm not so sure. Collective bargaining has hit a standstill. Honestly, I haven't kept up with it much.

Everyone likes to get on the cases of professional players for how much money they make. They are getting all this money for playing a game. You know I'm a capitalist so I'm not going to complain. They deserve the money. They are in peak physical condition - better than you or I. They take a beating during every game. Their careers last a fraction of the time of the average person. AND... supply and demand. We pay the stadium prices and everything else so we're funding those salaries. So, that's that.

Yet in the same way that we are fickle about everything else we pan them for the money they make on one day and put them on a pedestal the next. We expect them to be better people. Why? Because they're in the public spotlight and are heroes to our children? That would be nice if the ability to throw a ball REALLY far made you a better person with moral acumen. We get degenerates in all professions. Politicians are the most crooked of the bunch and they make decisions that affect our lives.

So Brett Favre sent picture of his junk to a woman when he played for the Jets. Brett Favre is married. What? A married man has strayed? Say it ain't so. People condemned him for that because he's a hero and a role model. Why is he a hero? Why did you start to like him in the first place? Because he's good at his job. He is still good at his job (ok, he's old and now probably finally retired, but this event happened while he still played and went on for a while).

Everyone loves Big Ben Roethlisberger. Then he got accused of raping a girl and he was vilified before it event went to court. Then it turned out he was innocent. And everyone screamed "PAYOFF" from the rafters of Heinz Field. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. I wasn't there. All I know is that legally, he's innocent. Nobody knows the truth but him and the girl. Then it came close to Super Bowl time and everyone forgot the story and loved him again.

Meanwhile, we've got players on other teams who fall below the radar and nobody gives a shit what they do. Antonio Cromartie, who is a cornerback for my beloved Jets, can barely spell his name. And in 2011, many stars are public. He posted this on his Twitter, "Mike Miller has missed 3 open shots this is y u here let's go." Apparently, he was watching basketball. I believe it was supposed to read "Mike Miller has missed 3 open shots. This is why you are here. Let's go." The string of words and random letters required translating. Unfortunately, this is not the most illiterate of the tweets. I see it amongst most of the players - the college educated players.

Why does nobody say anything about them? Are they not popular enough as players to be required to be intelligent, decent functioning members of society off the field. Frankly, I take bigger issue with the stupidity than the poor choices of people like Favre and Big Ben. I don't condone the nonsense by either one, first of all. But I also don't understand the life they live. Being on the road, pressure to perform, surrounded by people that want a piece of you - literally, figuratively, financially, the aches/pains. I'd get lost in my own head and make a bad choice too under those circumstances.

The other ones... are just dopes. Educated but ignorant. You can't fix stupid, no matter how hard you try. The hypocrisy of fans annoys me. Holding people to different standards because they are more known or less known. That's the true ignorance. Either require everyone to be decent people or don't. Accept that people will make mistakes or don't.

For me... I want to see Mark Sanchez throw the ball far. I want to see Santonio Holmes catch it in the end zone. I want Revis to tackle someone, Mangold to protect Sanchez, etc, etc. What they do after the game is their business. Nobody is peeking in my window because I'm not of any importance to the public and I'd scream invasion of privacy if they did. Why are these guys any different? Cheer them on while on the field. Leave them alone while off the field.

As for the image they put in front of your kids, I have three words. BE A PARENT! Keep your kid off, away from the 6 o'clock news, and sheltered from any other news he or she is not old enough to rightfully comprehend.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Extent of Freedom

Anytime a person does something that someone else doesn't like, the perpetrator says, "It's a free country. I can do what I want." I bet of the offended party socked them in the jaw and said, "It's a free country. I can do what I want," the one who got hit would be just as offended. I've always believed that our freedoms extend to the point at which they impinge on another's freedoms. See... if we are ALL afforded freedom then it can never go so far to negatively impact someone else's. I have no choice but to sacrifice SOME of my freedom to ensure everyone else has their's. It is the responsibility of every American based on the human decency and common courtesy. Unfortunately, it isn't a prevalent as it should be.

You may have heard of a group of extremists called the Westboro Baptist Church. These are folks that picket and protest at military funerals. Their actions are simply deplorable. Follow their logical to a very illogical end. They say that soldiers are dying because God is angry with our tolerance of homosexuality in this country. Signs are displayed at these funerals that say "God loves dead soldiers" or "God hates fags." I am unable to make the leap from end to end because this is not a war for or against homosexuality. Until recently, the military did not openly support homosexuality.

Just this very morning the Supreme Court upheld a ruling that their protests are protected speech. This is where I have a problem. Truth be told, I have TONS of problems with this. Let's look at all that is wrong here and maybe find possible solutions.

  1. The only reason these folks have the ability to speak their minds freely is because our military and government has fought and died over and again to protect and sustain the values of United States of America. Let them live under an oppressive rule that censors them like Iran or China... or North Korea, Libya, Saddam Hussein's version of Iraq, Taliban led Afghanistan, Pakistan and countless other countries.
  2. Is it not the constitutionally protected right of the family to bury their military family members based on their religious preference and having Westboro wackos present interrupts that?
  3. Can I use my freedom of speech to be rude and inflammatory to strangers and insult them? Can I use that freedom to degrade someone else? That impinges on their freedoms. Does Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness sound familiar?
  4. If it's untrue, that's the end of the line. If I speak it, it's slander. If I print it, it's libel. They believe it to be true. That is the magic of faith. The recipients of their message may believe differently and should not have their moment of morning subjugated by overbearing people who are louder.
I don't believe that just because they are 1,000 feet from the building it is ok. I do not believe that unrefined speech is ok because the topics are matters of public import. Chief Justice Roberts, you have failed today in this decision. Justice Alito, on the other hand, had a wonderful sentiment, "In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victim.

That brings me to another point. If these cuckoo birds from the Westboro Baptist Church, which incidentally is not connected to any other Baptist Church and does not fall in line with Baptist leadership and is comprised of mostly one extremely large family, want to be mad at the military member, so be it. It's stupid and uncalled for and I don't get it, but fine. At what point did the grieving family earn these attacks?

Finally, let's look at choice. I speak about choice often. I speak about accountability for one's own actions as well. People choose to leave their home countries and nations of origin every day for greener pastures and better opportunities. Never is it people leaving from here. When is the last time a Connecticut family said, "We just can't take this anymore, let's risk our lives to sail to England." People literally do anything to get here or die trying. We must be doing something right. We are not without our problems, I get it, but people from all over the world come here to get their lives on track. We can come here or go elsewhere.

With that said, Westboro Baptist Church, its leaders and its members, here is a message to you. If America is angering God and you don't wanna be caught up in the wrath... feel free to SHUT UP AND GET THE FUCK OUT!