Why Couldn’t We See The Tears Of The Clown?

Every Thursday starting in the fall of 1978, I had one thing on my mind: Mork and Mindy was on tonight!  I often used television as an escape from a not very happy childhood, and the wild and unpredictable humor of Robin Williams was cathartic.  When he started making movies, I did everything I could to see them all.

Robin Williams soon became one of the most-recognized comedians in the world, on par with the likes of Bill Cosby and George Carlin.  He brought joy to millions with movies like Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs. Doubtfire.  He also sought to raise morale for the military with dozens of USO excursions.  What none of us knew was that Robin Williams’s ability to make us laugh was fueled by hiding behind humor to avoid his inner demons.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, over 170 million people in the world suffer from some form of depression.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates one in four adults in the US suffer from some form of mental illness.  Mood disorders such as depression are the third-most-common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both children and 18-44 year old adults.  One in 17 Americans live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.

Robin Williams had been fighting bi-polar disorder for years.  He masked his pain with the laughter of others.  Many people who are bi-polar find ways to hide their suffering because they don’t want others to know they are hurting.  Attitudes toward mental illness are getting better around the world, but we are a long way from removing the fear and stigma it carries.  Continue reading

Why Should People On Welfare Be Allowed To Vote?

I saw something on Facebook a while back that got me thinking.  At first I was completely behind it, as it was talking about ways to reform public assistance.  It talked about taking most everything but basic staples off of food stamp programs.  If you wanted things like “steak and frozen pizza” you had to get a job.  It also talked about mandatory birth control and drug testing if you wanted to stay on public assistance.  Not sure I fully agree with the birth control thing, but it would keep from putting new kids on welfare rolls, and I definitely agree with the drug testing.  If you want to have children or do drugs, then you should be getting a job.  Next was public housing, which would be expected to be maintained in good working order and inspections would be possible at any time.  Again, if you wanted housing you could destroy as you saw fit or wanted things like an Xbox, you had to get a job.

But then things started to get a little questionable to me.  The next part talked about either presenting a pay stub from a job or you would be assigned a government job, such as cleaning highways or government housing.  Unemployment insurance exists so that if someone loses their job, like many Americans have lately, you can get by until you find work similar to what you had and for which you have the skills.  Forcing someone to take whatever job the government sees fit to give you sounds a lot like Communism to me and I will not get behind that.

The part that really got me came next.  The post asserted that while on public assistance, you would relinquish your right to vote as it would be a conflict of interests.  Regardless of your employment situation in this country, or lack thereof, everyone over the age of 18 in this country has the right to vote.  That right is only dependent on citizenship and not having committed a felony.  Taking the right to vote from people just because of no employment would lead to huge amounts of disenfranchisement throughout the populace. Continue reading

Losing Weight Is A Heavy Burden

More than one-third of U.S. adults (34.9%) are obese.  Additionally, almost twice as many women as men who are not overweight think that they are. 25.3% of men and 47.9% of women defined as within their normal weight range think they weigh too much.  Whether it’s actually needed or not, that equals a whole lot of people with weight concerns.

Sadly, even when we know better, changing for the better is hard.  While millions of people run out each January determined that this will be the year they lose weight and get in better shape, most people quit the gym after 6 weeks.

Hard to break the obesity cycle

 

 

 

 

 

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Incorrectly Politically Correct…Again.

Recently, a long standing philanthropic event at Dartmouth College was cancelled because one student chose to portray it as “the Americanization of Cinco de Mayo and its construction as a drinking holiday in the United States”.  It doesn’t matter that Cinco de Mayo was not mentioned anywhere in the event.  Or that it wasn’t even happening in May.  Or that no alcohol was actually being served at this event.  Or even that it was a charitable function for cardiac care and a worthy cause.

The event in question was to be called Phiesta (pronounced like the traditional Spanish word “fiesta”) as it has been for years.  It was to feature Mexican inspired cuisine such as burritos, and virgin margaritas and daiquiris.  The proceeds would have gone to aid people undergoing cardiac care.

Apparently, only people of Mexican heritage are allowed to use this kind of “Spanglish”.

The blowup was caused by a single email from Class of ’15 student Daniela Hernandez, who also railed against “cultural appropriation and the inappropriate usage of cultural clothing, and the exploitation of groups of people and cultures for the sake of business opportunities.”

Phi Delt president Taylor Catchcart explained why the Greek organizations folded.  “We felt that the possibility of offending even one member of the Dartmouth community was not worth the potential benefits of having the fundraiser,” he said.

While she may be personally offended, there is no law protecting one from offense.  Other things people seem to think they have a right to but don’t are detailed in The Bill of No Rights by Lewis Napper.  I would be willing to bet she has also not read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury about a futuristic dystopia where all books are banned because any of them could offend someone.

I won’t go into the hypocrisy of the fact that most of the people seeking the “business opportunities” Hernandez spoke of are Mexican owners of Mexican restaurants.  I have decided instead to play her game by her rules, and lay out some things from other cultural backgrounds she should avoid to prevent the offense to others she feels entitled to herself.

I am predominantly Irish by descent, so I have decided she is no longer allowed to drink green beer on St. Patrick’s Day.  Up until the 1970′s, this day was considered a Holy Feast day and pubs were closed in Ireland.  Also, she clearly does not consider herself Irish.  I must admit, it really bugs me that people who have no attachment to Irish culture go out and use this as a day to drink themselves stupid.  However, I would never impede another’s choice of evening, regardless of how boorish they intend to act.

There is a long list of other things, to prevent Miss Hernandez from offending others, that should cease immediately.  They are listed below.

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Why can’t fathers take more time for their family?

In 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act was passed, primarily to allow mothers to take time off from work to have children without losing their jobs.  But the wording of the act also allowed a rather revolutionary idea: fathers could take time off for the birth of their children as well.  At the time, some fathers were already allowed this opportunity but is wasn’t exactly encouraged.

Since this act’s passage, many fathers have taken advantage of provisions not only to be there for the birth of their children, but also to spend a least a couple days caring for mom as well, should they be so disposed.  All these things are positive changes for the good of families, encouraging men to take more active roles in their children’s lives from day one.

Some people don’t agree with this mindset, however.  Some men still see the man’s role to hold a job, make as much money as possible.  Basically, a material provider while mom handles all the emotional squishy stuff.

In the middle of this debate is New York Mets star, Daniel Murphy.  This man missed a the first couple games of the season, completely within Major League Baseball’s labor agreement, to be there for the birth of his child and see to his wife’s welfare.  Pro sports commentators railed against this.  Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason even went so far as to say, “Quite frankly I would’ve said ‘C-section before the season starts.”  Never mind the very misogyny of telling your spouse what to do as opposed to deciding as a family, C-sections are not something you should do for convenience. Continue reading

Why Is Tom Brady Considered Great?

To stay relevant in the offseason, nfl.com does a lot of fun things to keep fans checking things out.  Right now they are using the bracket idea of your March Madness office pool to create a tiered survey as to who the fans think the best quarterback of all time is.  This subject creates a lot of argument among fans, some bandwagoning on the newest thing, some taking a more historical perspective.  My man Russell Wilson is coming up a lot.  I love that he took my beloved Seahawks to the Super Bowl, but I am withholding judgement until he gets a few years on him.  Guess that puts me in the old school camp.

Tom Brady’s frustration mounts through the years

To make things fair, the QB Bracketology is broken into eras for the first comparisons.  Sitting at the top seed in the Right Now bracket is Tom Brady  of the New England Patriots.  I would have agreed a few years ago, before Eli and Peyton Manning figured out how to deny the Patriots championships.  Peyton Manning has even managed to stop Brady on two separate teams.  And Eli should probably put Tom on his Christmas list.  He wouldn’t have two Super Bowl Rings without Tom’s help, after all. Continue reading

Why are single moms being painted as villains?

In 2012, there were 24,725,000 single parent families in the United States.  That accounts for 35% of the families. The vast majority of those families are headed by mom, as nearly one in three children in this country live without a father.  While it is not requisite to have a male figure in children’s lives, statistics bear out that life is more difficult for these kids.

Boys without fathers are twice as likely to go to jail. 63% of youth suicides come from fatherless homes.  85% of children with behavioral disorders live without fathers.  Kids without dads have a 71% dropout rate in high school.

I was about four or five when my parents divorced.  Mom and I moved to a new state, and she began the process of trying to rebuild a life that got off on the wrong foot with my father.  Obviously, I did not know this at the time.  All I really knew was that my dad was not around any more.

Like many little boys who don’t know any better and need their father, I put a lot of unfair blame on my mother.  I didn’t know my father didn’t send a dime to help support me until I was almost seventeen.  I didn’t know my father chose to live away from where I did for personal reasons.  There was a lot I didn’t know, because kids just don’t understand some things.  I just knew that unlike some little boys, my dad was not around.  And it made life a fearful place.

Daniel Beaty summed up what it is like to grow up without a father in his performance piece, Knock Knock.  Things that a father should teach his son, but isn’t there to teach.  Things that little boys who grow up without a father or male role model must try to figure out themselves. Continue reading

My Long Relationship With Cancer

Cancer is probably the worst thing a person can experience.  Most people are lucky enough not to know someone with cancer.  I, unfortunately, am not one of them.

I was ten years old when my cousin, Michael, died of cancer, specifically a mass in his brain.  He went from being a very active teen to being bed ridden in just a few months.  After several painful and body wasting treatments, he passed at the young age of thirteen.  So began my relationship with this horrible disease.  To my cousin’s credit, he resigned himself to his fate early.  He bravely told his doctors to try anything, not for him, but to learn so they could help other children.  I have always been humbled by his willingness to go through so much to help others he would never meet.

Since my cousin’s death, there have been several others I have known that have dealt with cancer in some form.  Breast, liver, lung, and even bone marrow cancers have affected friends and family.  Some treatments have thankfully been successful, but not all.

Just for children, over 175,000 are diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year.  Around 13,500 children are diagnosed with cancer in the US in that time.  In total, nearly 1.7 million new cancer diagnoses happen each year in the US.  That is just slightly less than the population of Wyoming, Washington DC, and Vermont.

Throughout the world, about 14 million people learn they have cancer and 8 million people die from the disease each year.  If you took every person in the Caribbean except Haiti and the Dominican Republic, there would still be almost 4 million people receiving a cancer diagnosis.  If you take away Puerto Rico, you would have the rest of those island nations all dead every year. Continue reading

Why Have Sports Fans Become Such Idiots?

For 38 years, I have rooted for one of the most hapless and least respected franchises in the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks.  In their inaugural year, they ranked last both rushing the ball and defending opponents rushing game.  They only won two games their first year.  In 1977 the team traded away a first round pick that would give the Cowboys Tony Dorsett.  In 1979, they posted the most humiliating game probably ever seen when they actually had negative net yardage in the game at the hand of the Los Angeles Rams.  In 1980, they lost their last nine games straight.

Things got better, but so many years whatever hope began at the start of the season would be dashed by the end.  I remember when I first heard that Pete Carrol was coming to coach the Seahawks, I miserably thought “Too bad, he had such a good career going at USC.”  Don’t get me wrong, I have always rooted for the ‘Hawks to do well, but I just didn’t really believe anything good would really happen.

Vince Lombardi Trophy

Obviously, this year turned out way better than I could have imagined.  And even if it was kind of boring, I was happy the Seahawks won.  I was proud to consider myself part of the fan base known as the 12th Man.

Then I read the news today.  It seems some of the “12″ got really out of hand celebrating the Super Bowl Victory.

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What Difference Can One Child Make?

When I was eight years old, my world revolved around kickball and Star Wars™ figures.  I don’t remember being exceptional brave or anything else at that age.  I was just a little boy trying to get through the world.

Tyler Doohan showed how brave an eight year old boy can be.  The trailer where he was staying with other family caught fire.  Tyler woke up six family members and helped them get out.  His uncle, described as one of his best friends, was disabled and still inside.  Tyler ran back in to help his uncle, but sadly neither of them came out.  Firefighters say they were found by a bed, and it appeared Tyler was trying to lift his uncle off the bed when he was overcome by smoke.

Tyler Doohan died trying to rescue his uncle after waking six others and getting them out. His grandfather also died in the blaze.

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