The Baby and The Bathwater

I should be used to it by now. The knee jerk reactions that make it so difficult to really affect and effect change.  Somehow, we always end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater – despite our best intentions to do otherwise. And yet I find myself getting more and more irritated with stupidity.  Two great examples of this are the current hot button issues of gun control and dog ownership (particularly pit bull ownership).  Owning a gun and owning a dog carry many of the same responsibilities if you think about it.   You have to make sure your guns are well maintained (cleaned, oiled and stored properly), and you have to do the same for your dog (vet visits, shots, grooming etc) .  You have to make sure your dog is properly leashed or fenced in your yard, and you have to be sure your gun is stored safely and properly and the safety left on when not in use.

For some reason, we cannot seem to figure out a way to hold offenders accountable for their actions. For some reason, its easier to restrict the activities of the population at large than it is to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate criminal offenders.  I’ll use an example from the workplace.  Most workplaces have a dress code. Enforcing said code presents its own particular set of challenges that may or may not be quite humorous on occasion.  Like dealing with an employee who showed up to work in their jammies and couldn’t for the life of them figure out why they were being sent home – because they dress that way to go to the mall….. sigh.  Or, banning everyone from wearing sleeveless dresses, shirts or tops in the summertime because some of the men decided to cut off the sleeves of their t shirts and the gaping holes gave everyone a glimpse of nasty pit hair…. Instead of telling these guys they had to classy it up they just tell everyone – NO SLEEVELESS.  Baby. Bathwater…. and gone…..

So many people are negiligent when it comes to pet ownership and gun ownership.  Letting their dogs roam free to chase and bite people; leaving their guns out where children, toddlers, and flat out  crazy people can access them (with tragic results).  So what do we do?  Can I get a “Harrumph?” from you all? Because thats what we do. We get on our sanctimonious soapboxes and engage in inefficient hand-wringing – then we make ridiculous blanket laws that restrict and penalize mature,  RESPONSIBLE dog and firearm owners.  Look what just happened in Maryland with regard to pit bull ownership.  Look whats happening within the Gun Control Debate.  You only have to witness the political posturing to become really really annoyed. And I am. Annoyed. To the Max. I’m a centrist, basically. Common sense dictates we need reform -not blanket all or nothing restriction.  Nor do we need to jump into the Way Back Machine and head for the Wild Wild West.  Because we’re doing it again – throwing the baby out with the bathwater; instead of engaging in thoughtful dialogue and compromise to come up with solutions that work for the majority of responsible hard working Americans. Let me list a few ideas:

Brindle pit bull

Brindle pit bull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dogs –

1. If you want to own a pit bull you must register them for obedience classes and give a copy of the certificate to City Hall in addition to the rabies tag number when you get the dog licensed.  You must demonstrate re-certification of obedience training every 3-5 years. You must be a homeowner to own a pit bull, or have sufficient assets to cover a lawsuit if the dog injures someone. This goes for other breeds like Rottweilers, Pinschers, German Shepherds, Chows, Dalmatians, and Akitas too – since all these breeds have aggressiveness bred into them. There may be a few breeds I missed here feel free to add…

2. Dog owners already pay increased  homeowners premiums, (depending on the breed, and they may not even cover you if you have a banned breed)  but all dog owners should be required to submit proof of vaccination and licensing to their policy carriers.

3. All dogs should be required to be on leash or in a fenced in yard  when outdoors- subject to fine and/or seizure of the dog if non-compliant. Not all communities have leash laws, and those that do may only sporadically enforce them – doing so only after there is a problem.

4. Dog owners should be required to notify the public that there is a dog on their premises.

There’s probably more but that’s all I can think of right now. It comes down to common sense , really – Which ain’t quite as common as it should be, sadly enough.

219px-Weapons1                                             (photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guns –

1. I’ve listed several things in other posts so I’ll just summarize here: Background checks for all sales.  Private sales should be illegal.  No actual possession of said  firearm by the buyer until a training course is completed and certification of the ability to use and store said firearm safely is on file with the gun seller, and the new gun owner’s insurance carrier. Yes I do think you should have to insure your guns. No sale to anyone with a history of mental illness ( improve those background checks) Your right to be bat-guano ga-ga does not supersede my right to keep breathing safely.  No sale to anyone who lives with a family member with mental illness. PERIOD. No sale to anyone under the age of 16.. Proof of age required to purchase. Possession of a firearm by anyone not carrying an FID card and proof of ownership should invite criminal charges for both the possessor and the registered owner. Magazine clip size should be limited. Modification kits – illegal.  If a tragedy does occur and the investigation reveals that the gun owner stored the firearm unsafely or improperly or knowingly allowed  someone other than themselves to use the firearm – then the gun owner should be held civilly and criminally responsible.

I understand this may not curb criminal activity or criminal’s access to firearms, but it will damn sure make it less likely that a toddler can pick up his fathers gun and kill a Tennessee Sherriff’s wife with it. And it will make it extremely difficult – if not impossible – for idiots like Nancy Lanza to provide their mentally ill child with access to firepower.  I am in no way saying people should not have guns if they want them. But they need to assure those of us that don’t  they can own and use them responsibly.  SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY. And,  SAFETY.

It is a great privilege to own a firearm, and be a pet owner. Both carry great responsibility with them .  If we enforce the laws we already have on the books, that will help also. But if people start understanding that they are responsible for the safety of themselves and others and will be held ACCOUNTABLE by laws that make sense for the majority of people  – then perhaps that baby I’ve been talking about can go get toweled off, powdered, and re-diapered instead of floundering around in the mud. Rant concluded. Thank you, that is all  (for now)

What in the Wide Wide World of Sports is A’Goin on Here? A Fan Wonders… and, is Gibbs Slapping an Option?

photo via twitter @duquette12

My family has a long history with the Red Sox. My paternal grandmother told stories of attending games with her father when you could get in to Fenway for literally pennies, and chat up Babe Ruth before and after the game. (they did, by the way – many times) I have been a Sox fan since I attended my first game at the Great Green Church of Baseball in the summer of 1974. I was 12 and a half. Dad and Grandpa took us. I remember the Sox played the Cleveland Indians and won. I don’t remember the score. What I do remember really is feeling energized in the atmosphere of that tiny ballpark. I’m borrowing from Robert DeNiro in ‘The Untouchables’ for a minute to describe the attitude of the players I saw:

Part of a team. Teamwork… Looks, throws, catches, hustles. Part of one big team. Bats himself the live-long day, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and so on. If his team don’t field… what is he? You follow me? No one. Sunny day, the stands are full of fans. What does he have to say? I’m goin’ out there for myself. But… I get nowhere unless the team wins.”

The players were there to play – there was none of that Diva bullshit on the field. And nobody really heard about it if there was any off the field.

1975 – Spent most evenings and weekend afternoons glued to the tube watching my boys, or listening on the radio. (there’s something so nostalgic and almost romantic about that, isn’t there? – listening to a game on a summer evening) Yaz, Pudge, Dewey, Freddie, Bernie, Rico, Jim, Rick, and Butch – to name a few. My bedroom walls not only had posters of David Cassidy and Bobby Sherman; but my beloved Team also. I had major tween crushes on several of them. And Oh, that Magical October night my Pudge waved the ball fair and took us to Game 7!


The ’78 Dent Debacle (still can’t discuss this one rationally) ; Billy Buckner 1986; The huge disappointment of the 2003 ALCS…. ( we came SO Close) The INSANITY of the 2004 ALCS playoffs. Everyone in New England was seriously sleep deprived that week. We beat the Goddamn Yankees in a REVERSE SWEEP. My boys “cowboy-ed up” and the world series win against the Cards was almost anticlimactic after that incredible playoff turnaround. It was after midnight when the final game of the 2004 World Series ended. My oldest and I were jumping around the living room screaming. The phone rang – it was our west coast relatives happily congratulating us. The phone rang again. It was my dad. “GO OUTSIDE NOW” he said. We did. Church bells ringing in the dead of night. Car horns blaring. Somebody dug their (illegal) fireworks out and set them off. People yelling and screaming at top volume all over town. It was profoundly AMAZING and WONDERFUL to be part of the Red Sox Nation at that time. We finally did it and they brought home the trophy. Jeter went home to play golf. This was waaayyy better. Then whoops – we did it again in 2007.

So what the HELL is going on with this team the last few years???? There is no Red Sox baseball TEAM anymore. There’s “Chicken n Beer-Gate” which Mr Valentine assured us would “never happen on his watch” but apparently is still occurring with Jon Lackey double fisting brewskies in the clubhouse while on the DL. Hey Jon – news flash – if you show up at the clubhouse dude, you’re on the job -DL or not – and DRINKING ON THE JOB IS BAD FORM at best. Bobby, he just made you a liar. So much for integrity. The Sox are in 5th in the AL East and playing .476 ball with a 60-66 W-L record. This is unacceptable. Sox fans are paying top dollar not to watch what should be a premiere first rate baseball team do its thing; but instead – to watch a huge slow motion car wreck in progress. NOT COOL. A good hard Gibbs Slap is in order. And perhaps some major ass-kicking.

And now on to what I’m terming “Pesky-Gate”. Johnny Pesky spent the majority of his baseball career with Boston. There’s a frickin foul pole named after him! He will remain the Red Sox Goodwill Ambassador as long as I’m drawing breath anyway. He gave his all, and spent most of his adult life with and for the team. So how come only 4 current players and the manager attend his funeral services? Hmmmm…..? Thank you David Ortiz, Clay Buchholz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Vincente Padilla and Bobby Valentine for showing some class and attending the services for your teammate and ambassador. Several of these players did not know Pesky – or knew him only a short time so their respect is appreciated I’m sure.

Let’s get with the program boys. This is BOSTON, baby – and you need to be doing it better than everyone else. Lord knows you get paid enough to do that. Clearly, you all have talent or you wouldn’t be in The Show. Your ability is not the issue. Your attitude (collectively and individually) would seem to be. Let’s remember that you are a team, that your actions or lack of action reflect on the other members. The job that you are well paid for is to be part of the Boston Red Sox Baseball Team. As part of that team you are there to support each other – and that includes upbraiding or chastising team members who are not on board with attitude etc. (Are you listening Mr [S]Lackey?) That includes supporting teammates and their families through tough times. That also includes Team Owners who should be setting examples and enforcing rules and a code of conduct instead of coddling a bunch of Generation Me self-entitled Divas with piss poor attitudes. Mr Lucchino -hold your TEAM accountable. Set the rules and enforce them. I suggest getting back to the basics and go back to the beginning (Little League) for some inspiration. Follow these commandments for a change:

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF SPORTSMANSHIP

  1. “Golden Rule”– Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
  2. Enjoy yourself and promote enjoyment for others.
  3. Be responsible for your actions.
  4. Have an open mind to others’ weaknesses and have a forgiving attitude.
  5. Have pride in one’s performance and one’s team.
  6. Be a friend, not an enemy, and create a positive environment.
  7. Encourage others to do or be their best.
  8. Sportsmanship should be contagious.
  9. Remember it is a privilege to participate.
  10. Practice sportsmanship in all situations at all costs http://sammamishlittleleague.countmein.com/AboutUsSportsmanshipStatement.aspx

A team is only as good as its weakest member. The US Navy SEALS know this, and they support and train all their teammates to be their best. Boston: respect yourselves, respect each other, support each other. Follow your Teams rules and codes of conduct and expect your teammates to do the same. Get your heads out of your asses and play some goddamn baseball! Otherwise I will have to come to Fenway, “Gibbs Slap” you all and become an Orioles Fan… Don’t make me do that….Jussayin.

photo via twitter @duquette12

Raffi – Take Me Out to the Ballgame

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Rock Solid?

Springfield, Ma, USA skyline

Springfield, Ma, USA skyline (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve sat on this one for a few days; trying hard both to gather my thoughts and to reconcile them into making some sort of sense; while trying even harder not to sound like a complete idiot. Here goes:

The other day I was privileged to attend a Human Services Forum awards breakfast wherein my co-worker was honored for her longevity, dedication and service to our employer (Way to Go Lu!) The keynote speaker was Dr Tim Black, sociology professor at the University of Hartford and author of the book ‘When a Heart Turns Rock Solid’, a true glimpse into the lives of 4 Puerto Rican brothers from Springfield MA over an 18 year period of time. I was quite interested to hear what he had to say (as a former soc major myself) and settled in to listen. He spoke about the double economic upheaval/recessions resulting in displacement within the same generational span of time. Made perfect sense, and offered a basic framework for understanding some of the factors influencing the Puerto Rican population in this part of the state. Dr Black made it clear this had turned into a double decade research project for him. He spent a great deal of time with the subjects, developed close relationships with them, and is clearly passionately involved in advocating for and working with Latinos; which is highly laudable.

Then he started to lose me. And I’ll tell you why…. First and most importantly – just by developing relationships with the subjects of his research he biased the conclusions he arrives at. Big mistake – huge…. Dispassionate observation is crucial in achieving factual unbiased results. “Observe and record, but do not interfere” is the first rule of research. The Prime Directive – if you will. Admittedly this is tremendously difficult when the subjects you are studying are human beings. How can you not interact with, influence, and be influenced by them? This difficulty is probably one of the reasons I did not pursue a career in sociological research…. well that – and the fact that I hate writing research papers. I’m much better at op-ed pieces. 😉 Anyway, by developing those relationships, and even providing assistance to one or more of the brothers at times (in the form of job references and the like) he skewed his results. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have done that as a moral, responsible, and caring individual; I’m merely saying that he’s influenced his outcome making any conclusions suspect at best.

He also lost me when it seemed that he was “blaming” circumstances for bad outcomes (jail time for instance) rather than personal choice and personal responsibility. If you don’t already know, this is a really hot button issue for me so I was hard pressed to keep my mouth shut and my lower lip bit. But I did well – contenting myself with an eye roll or two to my table mates (many of whom are Hispanic – and agreed with me – as I later discovered). Dr Black used the example of one of the brothers getting into a car accident on the way home from work, and turning back to selling drugs in order to support his family because he had no transportation to get back and forth to work. I find it highly improbable this was the only choice available to him at that time – although Dr Black would have us think otherwise and why not? He clearly cares a great deal about the young man and so is willing to make allowances for him – which brings me right back to the whole bias thing again, doesn’t it?

During the question and answer period Dr. Black also stated he felt that anyone living in the North End of Springfield should be able to go to college for free. That was that – Elvis left the building at that point and I started seeing red. I’m 100% for government assistance and low-interest loans to pay for a college education – particularly when the student comes from an impoverished background. There are many programs and grants already in place for students in need. But FREE? Come on! A college education is not a right – it’s a privilege. One that my husband, myself and our oldest daughter are struggling to provide to her at this very moment. Nobody’s handing us a free ride – and we live paycheck to paycheck just like the rest of blue-collar America. The federal government (FAFSA) would like to believe that her father and I magically should’ve had thousands of dollars available to pay for this year’s bill – I want to know where that money is – cuz it ain’t in MY bank account – jussayin. Oh wait, I bet our car mechanic has it….. But I digress. College is a privilege that should be paid for so that it will be valued and not tossed aside. (Remember the old adage of ” its worth what you paid for it”?) If you pay nothing for your education then how invested will you be in it? And, if you’re not invested you’ve now robbed a “paying customer” of the opportunity to attend. I say this because I have first hand experience with valuing my higher education so much more when I had to pay for it myself.

I’ll descend from the soapbox now. If nothing else, Dr Black gave me a lot to disagree with him about. Why is it difficult for people to accept responsibility for their choices? What about giving people a hand up rather than a hand out? I stand by my opinion that hard work and perseverance make a successful person. Anyone can rise above their circumstances if they want to badly enough. I was not able to purchase his book that morning – the blue, bleeding heart liberal (ie Massachusetts) audience descended upon the book table like the proverbial pack of ravening wolves – but I will be looking for it online. I have no doubt its an accurate story of life in Springfield over the past two decades – but “rock solid” from a research standpoint? Not a chance.