Inspirational Lubricant Du Jour: The Dalmore 12-Year Old Single Malt featuring a potentially blasphemous dash of Peychaud’s bitters
Morning, folks. You can consider today’s post a MUTOD of sorts if you like, minus the baseless denigration of true love. There’s a shade of curmudgeon in what I want to talk about today, but it’s mostly driven by incredulity and fear. You know, like a girl’s first time at a frat party. (ZBT!)
Recent horrifying happenings in our
great pretty good nation involving things like the state of Texas and a guy named Zimmerman have me wondering, as many before me no doubt have, what will be the catalyst that actually changes the social/judicial/political biases in our country. It’s scary to me that it’s really possible to look at things like partisanship and the systems that make possible outcomes like the Zimmerman verdict… and wonder whether we’ll ever get past them.
Can we improve ourselves and change these things? Or is this just who we are as a country? Bitter, petty, self-interested, divisive, stubborn, myopic and largely without empathy? I seem to recall the admittedly stale concept of the “American Dream” involving somewhat different qualities.
You’ll no doubt remember the “It Gets Better” campaign that was launched in response to a rash of suicides by gay teens. I really admired the simplicity and sincerity in that effort and think it makes for a great mantra for just about anyone in his or her personal life. I want to be neither dubious nor a downer about this idea, but I’m going to address below just a few things that it seems to me must change. At some point.
I’m not going to deal with too many of the hot-button issues because you already know all the major ones. Some of these will be trivial in the spirit of Brocast, but they are all of them part of a larger and increasingly looming question about our national identity: Can we do better? And if we can, will we?
College tuition: I mean, there has to be an upper limit on how high the price of a year of college education can go, right? Will it just keep going up? Maybe that upper limit is another decimal point, where it costs $100K+ for each year of school. With few exceptions, the university system in our country is a racket, an astronomically priced pre-requisite for admission into a disproportionately rewarding professional world. Go see Elysium when it comes out and then consider whether we can continue to use money as the discerning factor in human services.
Athlete Salaries: Are pretty reprehensible, no? You won’t find a bigger sports fan than me and I still have no problem admitting that it’s probably an error to pay the highest salaries in the country to these ball specialists. It’s all privatized of course and therefore not really regulate-able, but consider this: if we just scaled the whole effing thing down – every major sport, every person involved – by like 90% to levels commensurate with the average incomes of other professionals between the ages of 18-35 – would anyone whose dream is to be a professional athlete choose NOT to be a professional athlete? Think about it. People who become pro athletes do so because of how much they love the game or how hard they work at it. The money just happens to be attached to it in astronomical amounts. If the highest-paid player in any pro sport made $1 million/year, would the other guys complain about making $250,000. Fix the scale, fix the problem. And use the money for some things other than ball manipulation.
Teacher Salaries/Status/Reputation: I know, I know. Homer pick. But the fact that it has actually become tired, nay, comical to joke about how little value teachers are accorded in the US speaks for itself. The best education systems in the world afford teachers a degree of social and professional respect on part with those of doctors and (erm) lawyers. Imagine how screwed up it would be if we could regularly joke about how little Doctors get paid for the utterly indispensable services they offer society. “So he cured my leukemia and I was like… do you have a night job? ‘Cause $37K a year can’t be getting it done! lolololol”.
Caring About No-Hitters in Baseball: Last night Tim Lincecum threw a “no-hitter” on 148 pitches while issuing four walks. That’s all well and good, but a no-hitter isn’t now what it used to be. (There’s the curmudgeon you were waiting for!). Witnesseth the rate of no-hitters thrown in MLB during these two periods of time:
1901-2009: 1 every 794 games
2010-2012: 1 every 414 games
Notice anything? As with all of our professional sports, feats of skill are becoming less and less impressive as the athletes become bigger, faster, louder, stronger. A no-no is still a cool thing, but I’m not sure it’s as historic as it formerly was and I’m pretty sure we need to stop caring about them as much.
Stephen A. Smith Being a Thing: Like, someday… right?
By way of closing, a brief anecdote. Every year I teach To Kill a Mockingbird and A Raisin in the Sun to seventh grade students. Inevitably, we always have at least one conversation about whether things in the US are different now than they were “back then” with regard to race, politics, religion, etc. And every year I’m amazed at how these 12-year-old students are able to intuit from the world around them just how little some things have changed. They don’t say things like “of course, now we don’t have racism as much”. Instead, they always say some version of the idea that “we’re better about it, but we’re definitely not all the way there. And we might never be.”
#mouthsofbabes #darndestthings #amirite
Feel free to comment about the things you’re worried our country will prove utterly unable to improve. It’s fun! And terrifying.