Sunday, March 20, 2016

A step in the right direction

I have not done this before with any ramble I have written, however with president Obama landing this day in Cuba, I though it would be appropriate to repost a ramble I wrote back in December of 2014. It is relevant to the day now more so than ever. 

...from December 2014

In my lifetime

I have lived in a world that has changed dramatically throughout my lifetime. I was born in the days of the Cold War. For you environmentalists, I'm not talking about the fight over global warming. The world war had ended only a decade before (give or take), and the world was divided into two camps. It was us versus them. It became a decades long struggle for territory and political gain. It took many years and thousands of lives before the game was settled, at least for some.

Fifty years has come and gone and a tiny island is cemented in the past. The lone satellite of Cuba has remained committed to its fervent revolution. Well, at least its leaders have. Fidel Castro has remained a thorn in the side of the most powerful nation in the world. And his people have suffered for it.

So what has changed? How has the foreign policy of the US tilted that nation away from its revolution? It hasn't. That's the point. It's always been said the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome. Although I have no 'dog in the fight', this has always been a subject that has sparked my imagination. I fully understand there is a long line of Cuban nationals living in the US that will do everything in their power to fight the change in policy. I won't fault them for it.

What I will ask them to consider is this: where is the outrage of the Cuban people who still live on the island? Why is it the only ones objecting are the ex-pats and their families who are tucked away on US soil? Their outrage is at history. Fidel Castro and his regime is faltering. The island is changing right before his eyes; an agonizingly slow process, but it is a process nonetheless.

Where better to be than at the vanguard of this change? The US has been able to do little to the Cuban leaders other than to keep their people impoverished. It's time for a change. The change will take time. Not everything will happen overnight, or in a year, or even in a decade. But their revolution is grinding to a halt. Its legs have given way and all that will be left as the Castro brothers die is a vacuum to be filled by someone else.

If you want to effect change on a tiny island ninety miles off our shores, it seems the only way to do that would be to actually stand on the island, without a rifle in your hand. It's time the Cuban population who lives in the US swallow their hatred so they can help their people into this century.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Mr. Irrelevent

Irrelevant: not applicable or pertinent
                having no value

In sports there is a term bestowed upon the last draft choice of the NFL. The tradition began in 1976 and has continued on. It is a sad term to place on someone who still has a fighting chance to continue his career in his chosen profession.

A more pertinent application of this term would be to bestow it upon the NIT basketball tournament. Many years ago it was considered the preeminent basketball post season finale and the winner was considered the defacto national champion. It wasn't until sometime in the 1960's that the NCAA tournament became the place to be. It has eclipsed the NIT and there is no looking back.

March Madness is a terrific time for fans of college basketball. It is the 64 or 68 (depending on your point of view) best college basketball teams in the country all vying for the national championship. So what has become of the NIT? It has become possibly the most irrelevant sporting event in America. I can think of no other event in sports, although I'm sure someone will tell me one) that has such little meaning. (Okay, I thought of one, the Pro Bowl).

I don't understand why it is played, other than another chance for money. The winner is essentially the seventieth best team in the country. What is that to celebrate? If you were in charge of the winning school, would you hang the NIT championship banner from your rafters? I sure wouldn't. Years ago they used to play a consolation game where the teams that lost to the two teams playing in the championship game fought it out for third and fourth place. Can you say, irrelevant? Yes. It was so irrelevant they no longer play the game.

I think it's time we retire the NIT or bestow on its winner the title of Most Irrelevant College Basketball Team of the year. They can then go on the Tonight Show, just as Mr. Irrelevant has done for years and relive their glory. Wouldn't that be fun?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


As someone who was brought up in a religious family, there is something I have always wondered about when it comes to those who hold the belief that there is not God or gods of the world. Since this is the Lenten season, I thought this ramble was rather apropos.

I have only known a couple people personally who proclaim themselves to this belief system although I know there are many more. I have heard them in the public forums; news, entertainment, social media and the like. My understanding is this is a belief that there is no God. I also realize a belief in a god or God as I know him is deeply personal. We may never in this life be able to prove one way or another that a spiritual omnipotent being is real or not. It is a matter of faith.

One characteristic of atheists I have found seems to be one of intelligence and compassion. I have never met a self-proclaimed atheist who is rather, how shall we say, dull. Most as well seem to have a caring spirit for others. So here is my conundrum; why would someone who has this belief have these qualities.

The world is often seen as being divided into the camps of good and evil. On the surface they are clearly defined lines. If one struggles to stay true to these camps based on their beliefs, it is obvious the reasons a religious person would strive for good; it is the promise of the afterlife, or heaven, or whatever that belief system entails. But what of atheists? I assume there are good atheists and bad atheists. If one is a 'bad' atheist he risks nothing as there is nothing at risk in the way one lives their life. But what of the 'good' atheist? Why is he/she a good person when there is no fundamental reason to be so?

With seemingly no consequences to their actions, why would someone of this belief reach out to others to help, be it the underprivileged, the homeless or anyone else? Would being an atheist lead one to be more self-centered than anyone else in the general populace? If so why not? There is no reason based on the natures of good and evil to be any other way. Is that not the driving force behind how people live their lives?

Perhaps the Lenten season will bring me some insight into this question, or perhaps someone will reach out to enlighten me. Either way I'm sure it is a question I will ponder from time to time.