Tuesday, November 6, 2007

To have and to have not

The thing that got me thinking about doing a Blog at all was a nice take on one of my favorite (still) television shows, Mystery Science Theater 3000. You can read it here.

He starts off with a total non-sequiter about how the country has an issue with the haves and the have nots. Now, I don't want to engage in name-calling, but it is pretty typical of a certain political affiliation to bring up derisiveness when it has nothing to do with the topic at hand. It's as if their own (what? Rage at the machine? Feelings of Helplessness?) colors every single observation of their lives.

I suspect this gentlemen would consider myself one of the "haves" but this is a very slippery slope. Just what is a "have"? And what does it say about you?

You can categorize some people fairly easily but I'm not sure what it means: the guy with the sign at the traffic light begging for dollars is probably not a have by even a very liberal stretch of the imagination. And Donald Trump is most definitely a have.

And, of course, folks who are "haves" include people that this gentleman would probably not like to include: Obama, Hillary, certainly all of the Kennedys. You'd be hard pressed to find any politico who isn't a big have, because that's the price of admission into the game. And almost all Hollywood types who speak out against injustice are big members of the "have" family as well.

Conversely, "have nots" would include almost all murderers, rapists and violent crime perpetrators who are currently in jail long term.

So being a "have" or a "have not" doesn't necessarily mean what the folks who try to use this as a dividing rod would like it to mean. What they really want to say is that "good" people who are have nots are being abused by "bad" people who are haves. Or, to put it another way, it's okay to be a have as long as you're a good person.

I'm so far from a "have" it isn't funny, yet I have lots when compared to many. But I got those things by working hard and it's a funny kind of thing but nearly all folks who work hard also get stuff. Indeed, it's almost impossible not to become a "have" in this country if you work hard, regardless of how nice or bad a person you are. Independent of race, color, religion, sex or physical ability nearly anyone in the United States can earn a very good living and lead a very good life as long as they are willing to work hard for it. It may take years, it may be hard at first, but it does happen and it always happens. I know this for an absolute fact as I worked for the Unemployment Office for many years and saw evidence of this every single day.

Ironically the ones who worry most about this are usually the young who have the most opportunity to succeed. They look at rich cats and think "I'll never be able to get that" when the truth is just the opposite.

The bottom line is this is not a nation of have and have nots -- it's a nation of (mostly) hard working folks with a small minority of those who believe they should have more than they do and don't want to work to obtain it. And there isn't a political leader around who can fix that (although many promise it to get elected :>)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Any Sunday

I love sports pundits-- without a doubt the most egotistic, self-centered, pretentious, young (for the most part) folk to walk the planet. I don't know what it is about the profession that makes them believe what they do is important, but something is inherent there.

I like sports as much as the next (sane) person, but it truly is only a game, no matter what the game is, and like any physical effort there are so many variables and intangibles that rejoycing over a victory (or miserating over a defeat) is just the silliest thing you can imagine. Pro Football (the sport this time of year) celebrates the "on any given Sunday" mantra so much you'd think the analysts would actually get it by now, but it doesn't seem so.

The Patriots (of '07/08) seem to be a very good football team right now, but they ain't gods, and watching them play Indy yesterday I was immediately struck by how beatable they actually are. I like the Pats because I do appreciate excellence in any endeavor, but they won't go undefeated (and yet people who should know better really think this will happen) and they may well win the Superbowl but I don't think it's a given by any means. And the sports "experts" who think it's a lock just betray how little they understand about human beings.

During my regular weekly talk show (back when dinosaurs ruled the earth) my co-host and I had a great time picking against the guys who ran the sports books in Nevada. They were the experts, they set the line, and the casino profits rose and fell on the basis of what they did and by the 3/4 point of the season they quit coming in each Friday night because we were so far ahead of them it was ridiculous (of course it didn't help that we pointed this out in our studio graphics in mean spirited ways -- I was a smart ass back then).

I'm not going to pretend my partner and I were sports experts -- we weren't then and I'm certainly not now -- but our consistently good picks weren't complete luck either. We watched all the games (Direct ticket) and had a good feel for the teams and how they'd match up. And because we didn't have our hearts invested in any team we probably saw things a lot clearer than many experts who are more invested (one thing for sure -- I made a lot of money that year betting against the local favorite when the odds were right, as the odds makers consistently gave better money against to attract the opposite side).

One of my favorite reads is Dan Shanoff, not because he's good but because he's so consistently wrong (look at his straightup football picks this season -- my sister could pick better than that on the basis of team colors being pretty) and yet still believes he understands sports. I love how he's constantly "shocked" by this or that upset (particularly when he, as usual, predicts the outcome wrongly, based on his "superior" sports knowledge). Yep, he's right sometimes, but no more than I am. He's a kid, and like most kids they believe there is a certain truth to the universe and that he knows that truth or can come close to it -- well, there is, of course, and it's this: in any contest involving human beings, anything can and will happen.

Which is why we watch -- because on any given Sunday...