Is the issue guns or are we a hateful society

Matt Wuerker, editorial cartoonist with Politico, just put out this piece:

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It is an interesting cartoon that is sure to cause quite a bit of discussion, which is great, and not quite the type of discussion that I’m used to writing about, but I thought I’d take a moment to put in my two cents.

In this piece, there are two key words that I’m certain were carefully chosen.

Nut.

Gun.

Today, guns are bad. I get the mantra. Guns are bad. Repeat. Guns are bad. Bad, bad, baddy, bad bad!

People with guns are nuts. Nutty, nut nuts.

Ok. Maybe I’m going a bit far with this, and, in my opinion, that’s the fun of discourse. Take things to an extreme and then find a common middle.

Guns aren’t baddy bad bad.

People with guns aren’t nutty nut nuts.

Now for the middle. Is it really the gun? There are a number of reports on the number of mass murders committed with guns, and those numbers are also up for debate. Here’s a CNBC article that attempts to sort through the facts from fiction.

There are people who say we need to curb guns ownership, either via background checks or limiting types, to prevent future killings. The other side argues that there are millions of registered guns and not millions of mass killings.

I fall in the middle. Sure, no one needs to hunt an elk with a rifle designed to put large caliber rounds through the side of a heavily armored tank so why the need to own such a weapon? But a 9mm handgun can hold 15+ rounds and would have caused the same amount of damage as happened in San Bernardino. (Yes, people on social media, there are two “Rs” in the word!) So if we want to prevent mass killings–usually defined as 4 or more dead, or dead and wounded depending on the counting source–we’d have to get rid of nearly every gun.

Great! Guns are gone. Paradise has enveloped the land. Liberals and Conservatives live in harmony and peace feeding grapes to one another lounging in their pajamas while harpists, no longer fearing social ridicule, play gentle songs.

And then someone gets angry. Really angry. But there are no guns, you might argue. We are safe!

Just Google: How to make a molotov cocktail. I did in preparing for this article, and now I’m probably on some watch list. But, there it is for anyone to see. How to make a nice little piece of destruction. There are even videos. I didn’t watch; I figured I’m in enough trouble just googling that as it is.

But, it is just a glass bottle with other stuff in it (yeah, not giving you the directions, either. No accomplice to the fact for me!).

Well, this from the news today (12/4/2015). Molotov Cocktails kill 16 in Cairo: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-violence-idUSKBN0TN0JT20151204

For those of you who like to keep a body count, that is two more dead than the attack in San Bernardino (yeah, that missing “R” bugs me), and those two “nuts” had four guns and over 3,000 rounds of ammunition. Plus a few bombs.

And, if you are old enough to remember McGyver you might remember he taught us all how to make a bomb with fertilizer, some chlorine, and strips of newspaper. Again, not going into detail, I like life outside of jail. To put that into perspective, those are the same basic ingredients that Tim McVeigh used to demolish the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma city.

Add glass bottles, fertilizer, chlorine, and all the other things we need for either of these homemade devices of terror to the list of things we cannot own. Guns being number one, of course.

Angry people will still find ways to kill. We can legislate ourselves backwards through all the advances in weaponry until we are back at bashing each other over the heads with stones, but the fact remains, people will still kill.

And there’s the middle ground.

People will kill. We are a very violent society. Even in places where you’d not expect it. Fifth graders were recently arrested for wanting to cause damage to a high school with explosives. Message boards and comment sections for articles are rife with vitriol. If you are new to FTKC, you should know I love to read comment and message boards, but I really shouldn’t since they get me so thoroughly worked up. But time after time, there are perfect strangers threatening others with death because of something they typed. Be gone with you. To the trash, or the grave. We are a disposable society.

In someways that’s good. For most Americans it is easier to throw something away than it is to fix it. We’ve even made that a feel good idea by calling it “recycling.” But have we gotten so good at just tossing aside things that we’ve now brought that into our psyche? Relationships, marriages, even friendships are easily disposed of today. Sadly, often via a heartless text message. The people we loved are easily tossed aside because, like my iPhone, a better, sleeker, flashier model just arrived. Why fix it? Why bother to try to amend a relationship, to repair a broken marriage? Just recycle.

And that’s how we look at other people. Disposable. Their ideas, their opinions, their thoughts. Just listen to debates among groups of people with differing ideas. I don’t have to listen to you, you don’t think the way I do. And because of this, we are also becoming less empathetic. Why should we learn empathy? Everyone should feel the same. Or at least feel the same way I feel?

When you don’t? I’ll dispose of you.

For most of us, that just means “unfriending” the person on Facebook, or deleting their contact on our phones, but for some, they take it to a dangerous level. In our society, there are more and more of those people out there; people willing to dispose of others by terminating their right to live. We laugh when we watch Bernadette on the Big Bang Theory threaten people because her character is cute and adorable and sweet, but does anyone take a moment to ask ourselves: “Whoa? Did she really say that? Did my evening comedy show advocate the death of someone else because they were driving too slowly?” Or are we too numb to it all, too willing to accept the violence in our culture, to care?

The problem isn’t the gun. Or the molotov cocktail. Or McGyver. Well, okay, maybe McGyver, that was a pretty silly show. Do those help? Yes. I’d be a fool to discount the tool used. But, the problem is us. We need to start to find empathy again. We need to start fostering comradery as a society, as a community, as a people. We need to teach our children that not everyone is going to win a ribbon, and if you don’t win you don’t need to beat the crap out of the kid who did to get yours. (Parent punches ref because kid lost football game 10/5/15). We need to start respecting life, valuing others, their opinions, and, most importantly, their right to live. We need to stop glorifying violence; literally singing its praises. Does that mean we have to abolish violence in media? I sure hope not; I like a good political thriller where the good guy chases the bad guy. We just need to teach people there is a line. And that line is reality vs. make-believe. That line is respect for other people’s lives and their right to live it.

If we don’t, it will not matter how many guns we make nearly impossible to own. Angry people will find a way to vent their anger.

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Best quotes in American History

This one comes from the trial of accused cannibal Alfred Packer. At his sentencing, the judge declared: “Packer, you depraved Republican son of a bitch, there were only five Democrats in Hinsdale County and you ate them all!”

If only present day politics could be solved this easily.

Lies That Altered U.S. History (Part 3)


 

Ragged Dick and the American Dream

Ragged Dick and the American Dream

Event: The Writings Of Horatio Alger

Lie: “A good many distinguished men have once been poor boys. There’s hope for you Dick, if you’ll try.”–Horatio Alger, from Ragged Dick, p. 75. One of many “pluck and luck” books written by Horatio Alger from 1867-1890, Ragged Dick tells the tale of a young bootblack who works hard and rises to middle class respectability.

Born in Massachusetts in 1832, Horatio Alger was surrounded by Puritan legacy. His family could trace their origins directly to Plymouth Pilgrims and they were staunch Congregationalists, so much so that Horatio’s father had decided his eldest son would pursue a life in the ministry. It was here that young Horatio got his first lessons in what would later be called the “American” or “Calvinist/Puritan” work ethic.There are countless examples of the notion that hard-work was the path to greatness: Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard”–“All things are easy to industry, all things difficult to sloth”; Election of 1840–William Harrison was portrayed (falsely) as a man of the earth, from a log cabin in the west, and hard cider drinker while his opponent, Martin Van Buren, was portrayed as a wealthy elitist from the East; Abraham Lincoln–a man born simple in a log cabin rises to President. By the time Horatio Alger sat down to write his stories of young boys who worked hard and rose the social ranks in life, the ideal of the “Calvinist work ethic” had become firmly entrenched in the American conscience.

Lasting Impact: In the years following the Civil War, the United States saw an influx of immigrants from Europe. Some immigrants came because of religious persecution at home–Russian and Eastern European Jews. Many came because of troubling economic times at home–including high unemployment and limited opportunities. And some came for the “American Dream”. It was the work of Alger that captured the imagination and hopes of immigrants. With a little hard work, the American Dream could be realized. Having faced a world with limited opportunities Ragged Dick and the many other novels inspired waves of Southern and Eastern European immigrants to filter through Ellis Island, settle in New York or Boston or Chicago, and strive for the elusive American Dream.

What the immigrants found instead were ghettos, tenements, corrupt local officials, unscrupulous factory managers, and uncaring factory owners. The vast majority of immigrants never found the American Dream no matter how hard they worked. However, their work ethic prevailed. You could see it in the way Americans faced the adversity of the Great Depression and World War II. Recently, this work ethic has come under assault as being either blatantly racist or elitist (Source and Source). Their argument is that the wealthy abused the poor to get their status, in turn bastardizing the Puritan work ethic. The other view could be that without the hope of a better life for their children and maybe themselves, the immigrant’s “work ethic” toward an American Dream may have been weaker and the accomplishments made during America’s Gilded Age may never have been achieved. Either way, this ideal made popular by Horatio Alger had a major impact on America today.

Smallest amount of lying goes the longest way: Luck. Sometimes for a lie to work out you need a little luck. For Horatio Alger a little luck in timing and place helped his “lie” roll into an ideal. Having failed as a minister–because he probably he had an “unnatural familiarity with boys”–and as a school teacher, Alger’s “pluck and luck” books proved the work ethic. He persevered, found a niche, and filled it. His niche just happened to be during one of the greatest influxes of immigrants in American history who attached to his message like infants to the teat. Whether or not you accept that the “Calvinist/Puritan” work ethic was good or bad for America, it must be conceded that without it this nation would look remarkably different.


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Event: Mexican-American War

Lie: “…after a long-continued series of menaces [the Mexicans] have at last invaded our territory and shed the blood of our fellow-citizens on our own soil.”– President James Polk’s War Message 1846.

On the eve of the Mexican-American war, the United States had been “reawakened”. A second wave of religious fervor swept the nation, primarily its western states–Kentucky, Tennessee–and there was a general feel of accomplishment and achievement–except for anyone who identified as Native America, women, or slave; but things were on the eve of change for most of them, also. America had experienced a period of “good feelings”–though those good feelings were about as great as the feelings of week-long incontinence. In this specter of joy, a newspaper editor and political hack, John O’Sullivan, wrote about American destiny. He called it Manifest Destiny and by 1845, the notion dictated every aspect of American politics and society. However, the concept wasn’t new. In 1776, a writer–only known as Salus Populi–wrote a piece called “To The People Of North-America On The Different Kinds Of Government“. In it, the author declared:

I cannot help cherishing a secret hope that God has destined America to form the last and best plan that can possibly exist; and that [H]e will gradually carry those who have long been under the galling yoke of tyranny in every other quarter of the globe, into the bosom of perfect liberty and freedom in America.

Polk was a political ally of Andrew Jackson–working with Jackson during his Bank War. He also understood the political climate of America and while men like Henry Clay and Martin Van Buren were trying to distance themselves from expansionism, Polk dove headlong into it declaring that Texas should be “re-annexed” and Oregon “re-occupied.” This stance got Jackson’s personal blessing and would thrust Polk into the White House.

The Cat and the CockLasting Impact: Two words: Civil War. The Mexican-American War is often characterized as one of darkest blemishes on the face of America. Polk’s behavior in Mexico could be seen as the modern equivalent of Aesop’s “The Cat and The Cock” fable where the cat finally catches the cock and then has to devise a reason why it should devour him. But, we cannot forget that Mexico had a part in this behavior also–they impeded American commerce and often plundered it, imprisioned American citizens, spurned all the envoys that Polk had sent to negotiate. Today, we view “the strong and the weak” as a test of right and wrong. A strong nation, the United States, should never have behaved toward Mexico, the weaker, in the ways it did; however, weakness should not justify impudence, insolence, or threats. 

The war happened. Live with it. The Mexican-American War’s lasting impact has little to do with how crass or absurd or wrong American expansion was during the 1840s, but the impact of Texas’ annexation had on the people of the United States. Abolitionists in the New England states were right in their beliefs that the annexation of Texas may have been justified under the concept of “Manifest Destiny” or an attempt to bring those living in tyranny into the loving bosom of the United States, but it was morally wrong. It was morally wrong to grab land in the West just to expand slavery. America was just expanding its own tyranny westward.

Smallest amount of lying goes the longest way: Conscience. Or a lack there of. When a person lies enough, they tend to believe the lie as truth. In this case, the lie was our manifest destiny to do God’s work, but somehow that work got distorted in a myriad of other issues. James Russell Lowell warned America, specifically the annexationists, of the harm in believing the lie and moving it into the collective conscience and eventually moving into Texas when he wrote in his poem “The Present Crisis” (1845) “Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide/In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side…. They enslave their children’s children who make compromise with sin.” We are still burdened with the issues that Manifest Destiny wrought upon the U.S. in 1845.

 

Read Part 2 here

Read Part 4 here

How To Keep Yourself Entertained At The Airport

missed-flight-300x200Let’s face it, at one point in time in the next year you will be joining the throngs of people standing in a decade’s long line waiting for the three TSA Agents who are actually working to finish tearing apart the old lady’s handbag so you can have your naked body imaged and saved for all posterity. Once that ordeal is complete you file with the rest of the herd to your gate and then sit and wait because the airline told you to show up two hours early. Unless you are an aviation junkie–of which I am a proud member… as I type this I am listening to ATC conversations between Denver Tower and incoming and departing flights–you are will inevitably become bored to death and possibly miss your flight due to your unconscious boredom.

And then, just when you think you will be called to get into a thin, aluminum tube for a few hours, they tell you that your flight has been delayed, or worse yet, cancelled. Now what?

Unless you are in Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport with its Rijksmuseum where you canHong-Kong-Airport-golf peruse works by Rembrandt and Van Gogh, or Hong Kong International with its PGA regulation 9-hole golf course, or Singapore Changi and its two-story butterfly grotto, or Seoul Incheon where you can dress in traditional Korean garb or learn about about Korean culture at the UNESCO artifact museum, you are probably stuck in one of the other thousand airports that are dank, dull, concrete structures that reek of desperation and sadness. And then there’s La Guardia.

So, what are you supposed to do? Here are a few suggestions to make your next trip a bit more entertaining.

1. Look For Spies

get_smart-tvDespite all the cyber espionage that is going on around the world, there is still a need for boots on the ground. And these people have to get from place to place, too! Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and stroll the concourse. Now, these people won’t be dressed in dark black trench coats with dark green Ray Bans over their eyes. Their government ids will be secreted within special pouches in their clothing. This will make it a bit more difficult to find them since they will be dressed like everyone else. However, you can spot some subtle differences between a regular traveler and a spy. Here are a few tips to help you be more successful:

  1. They’ll be more cautious about their surroundings. They may even be sitting alone.
  2. Are they exceptionally fit for someone their age? Do their hands show signs of fighting recently?
  3. Do they look too much like a tourist? It’s one thing to try to fit into your surroundings, but another to do so to the point of standing out.
  4. Are they traveling light? Most spies will have equipment waiting for them at their op-site.

Once you found the spy, what should you do?

Your civic duty, of course!

You should follow them. Follow them into Starbucks. Follow them into the bathroom. Sit behind them at the gate area. Make sure they know that you, a simple schmuck, were able to blow their cover.

2. Sit and listen to the shoeshine guys

These will be the cheeriest, happiest people you will see in an airport since the government did away with meeting your family at the gate. They greet every person who sidles up to their wooden and leather station with a hearty “Hello!” or “Glad to see you!” They take silence or grunts from the businessmen who plop themselves down on the seat and hide themselves behind a newspaper or magazine with the same innocent happiness a child has when you put desert in front of them.

And then the shoeshine guy goes about spit-shining and polishing expensive leather shoes scuffed from inconsiderate suitcases and narrow aircraft aisles and tells a story. Most of the time it falls on deaf ears as the men sitting on the worn leather seats fade into their own world. But the shoes, they listen. They hear a story about the time when the shoeshine guy was on patrol near Dak To and his unit stumbled upon a group of North Vietnamese soldiers withdrawing across the border. Those shoes hear about how his daughter is getting ready for prom and how the he doesn’t trust the boyfriend as far as he can throw him. But daddy’s girl is growing up and his wife says he needs to trust her. He can’t imagine letting her go away to college, and then walking her down the aisle. He tells them about his cousin in New Orleans who plays in a little jazz group and how Katrina nearly wiped out the club. But, he says with a boast, jazz survives anything. Every shoe gets a story whether the owner wants one or not.

Be the shoe.

3. Social deviance

Society has a set of norms that we all follow. Most are ones that we can live with. For example, don’t pick your nose then shake someone’s hand. The group-held “norms” help shape the society in which we live. We see them everyday from the handshake at the end clip_image001_thumbof a sports match to the thank you cards you write after you receive gifts. These are the unspoken guidelines that help society move from day to day and give us, the peasants, an understanding of how we should behave in certain environments. Airports have their own strict set of social norms and that makes them the best place to be a little deviant. Now, be careful with deviance. Criminal behavior is considered deviant and we wouldn’t want you doing anything that prevents you from getting to grandma’s house. Well, maybe in some cases. So, here are a few suggestions for deviating from the norm in the airport:

  1. Walk an imaginary pet through the concourse.
  2. Go into the restroom, put all your clothing on backwards, return to the concourse and walk backwards going against the flow of pedestrian traffic, and, if possible, use the “wrong” moving sidewalk.
  3. Watch the airport television and laugh at your own show or cheer as though your favorite sports team just scored.
  4. Follow something incredibly amazing (though completely imaginary) along the ceiling.
  5. Strike up a conversation with the person in the bathroom stall next to you.
  6. Be polite. Say “hi” to people. Wish strangers a wonderful trip. Be excited for them. Stand at the gate area and welcome people to the airport, and if it is your hometown to your wonderful city and state.

Just as a side note, one of the biggest social norms Americans have are their personal space bubbles. I don’t suggest testing these invisible boundaries lest you find yourself in a small, white room with a flickering fluorescent light and two security agents with gloves on their hands telling you to lean over and relax.

4. Play hide and seek

Though it might seem like the endless rows of uncomfortable leather-like chairs would make for a rousing game of duck, duck, goose! people these days just don’t like being pat on the head like we did when we were children. While it may seem that hide and seek would belong under the social deviance section, this version of the game is not so much deviant as it is slight of hand.

The trick here is to get people to notice you. No. You shouldn’t jump up and down and shout that you have a bomb or that you see little gremlins on the wings of the airplane. Remember those gloved agents? The goal here is to be subtle. Casually stroll the boarding area; feign looking for a nice seat to stack your mountain of carry-on luggage upon. Make eye contact with a few people. Get them to follow you with their eyes. Get into their mind. They probably won’t follow you for long, but if you’ve done your job you’ve piqued their interest and they’ll look for you again. Once you have the attention of one, two, and, if you are real good, dozens your goal is to then disappear from sight. I would suggest finding a few hiding places before you begin. Make sure that you will be able to see the “seekers” from hiding place. Once out of sight, watch as they sit in a confused wonderment, maybe even a slight panic, as you mysteriously vanish from the waiting area.

5. Ruin someone else’s flight

Maneuvering into your seat these days is like trying to get your hips into a toddler’s swing on the playground. And really, airlines haven’t changed the seat all that much from the 1970s. They were 18 inches then, 17 inches now. What’s changed is our waist size and that dastardly thing called seat-pitch–the distance from any one spot on the seat in front of you to that exact spot on your seat. In the ’70s that distance was an average of 35 inches. In today’s modern coach, that distance has shrunk to 31 inches. Don’t think that four inches matters? The average seat-pitch in a stadium style theatre is 37.5 inches. Plenty of room to cross your legs. But this isn’t about seat-pitch or our growing butt sizes.

This is about they way people travel.

Option 1: You can earn the title of Mr./Mrs. Dastardly Evil.

They are everywhere in the airport. The wedding party heading out to a hedonistic bachelor/ette party, most likely in Las Vegas. The Spring Break group heading to Mexico or Florida or Texas. The buddies heading out for a weekend golf trip. And what do all these groups have in common? They are looking to party. Help them get started. Buy them round after round at the pub. Ply them with liquor. Odds are they will either…

  1. Be down right annoying during the entire flight, or
  2. Cause the flight to be delayed or, if the flight makes it out onto the taxiways, have to return to the gate. The is the evil part in all this is that you are messing with over one hundred other travel itineraries, and that is only for that flight. You are also impacting the people at the next airport and so on.

Option 2: Be the optimist

For some reason we love to hate everything. “Oh, you believe the opposite of me? Well, you are wrong and I hate you.” We champion mediocrity–see the Kardashians, Miley Cyrus, et all–and then grouse that mediocrity surrounds us. We demand cheap products, but sue because of defects and complain because “we deserve caviar for chicken egg prices.” We are, each and everyone of us, precious in our own worlds. We tear down those who have succeeded where we have failed, but we don’t look to see what we could do to be successful. And these are your fellow travelers.

Nothing ruins a sour mood better than an overly positive person. When the person lugging a mattress-sized carry-on launches into a tirade with the gate agent because they have to gate check the infernal beast, quietly offer to carry their haul down the jetway to the aircraft for them. When the person sitting next to sourly accepts the tiny bag of peanuts and sip-sized soda, politely remind them that a third of the population of the Sudan is facing starvation right now and would gladly accept the food presented them. Remind them that their personal desire to fly the cheapest fare possible has made this situation possible. When they turn around and throw “But the CEO is a greedy, corporate slug.” Nod knowingly and remind them they could have driven. When they say they won’t support the oil and gas monstrosity, give them the option of walking instead. Be positive and find solutions to their litany of issues, because the days of flying with happy people who dress up for the occasion are long gone. Find joy in the dreariness of the airport. Relish in child-like excitement of flight as though it was the first time you were going to soar above our great nation.

6. Build a fort

Nearly every child in America has had the opportunity to build their own little fort out of furniture and sheets. Imagine the creations you can think of while sitting bored at the airport. Claim a few rows of unused seats and start building. You can use your rolling carry-ons as sliding doors, coats can be used as “tent” covers, and your remaining carry-ons can be stacked up to serve as your throne.

7. Have fun with your phone

There are a couple of things you can do here.

Option 1: Set up your own hotspot wifi. If your phone allows for a wifi hotspot (tether) create a wifi for the people in your waiting area. Give it some creative name. I’ve included a few for you here:

  • NSAEavesdropper.exe
  • TouristsGoHome
  • IP freely
  • Don’t Get On That Plane
  • Unsecured Virus Infected WiFi
  • Get Your Own WiFi
  • Amish LANd

Option 2: Take your phone and stand near the windows that overlook the ramp area. Begin an intense phone conversation with no one. If you are a guy, you could say things like: “But it was supposed to be his baby!” or “No! She thinks I’m going on a business trip, I promise!” If you are a girl, you could say things like: “Oh my God! Seriously, how much wax could they possibly need!” or “It was so sad. He thought it was a billy club, but it was more like a toothpick.”

So, next time you find yourself in one of the world’s most depressing airports, remember, there are always things you can do to keep yourself entertained.

Happy flying!

Why Football (not Futbol) Is America’s Sport

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As the World Cup in Brazil nears, talk in the U.S. once again roils over whether or not Futbol (soccer) should even be considered a real sport or not. There are plenty of comments on various websites–including the hallowed ESPN and Sports Illustrated–from Americans who are quick to chastise soccer as not being a “real” sport or as being boring.

Here’s a couple examples from comments to articles regarding the 2014 World Cup:

I don’t know how anyone can sit and watch something like soccer. Oh wow we won 1 to 0. Don’t even consider soccer a sport.(Source: AOL)

 

A beautiful game? There’s nothing beautiful about watching guys kick a ball out of bounds every five seconds for three hours just to have the game end 0-0. (Source: CNN)

 

World Map Based on Most Popular Sport

World Map Based on Most Popular Sport

So, what is “America’s Sport?” The world loves soccer. That’s fine. India and Pakistan love cricket. That’s wonderful. Australia has their version of football. Table tennis is big in China. But what sport truly defines America? Many poets have opined that baseball is America’s pastime. Walt Whitman said of baseball, “”[I]t’s our game; that’s the chief fact in connection with it: America’s game; it1433_2 has the snap, go, fling of the American atmosphere; it belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly as our Constitution’s laws; is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.” And then, of course, you have James Earl Jones’ monologue from Field of Dreams: “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past….”

There was probably a time when Whitman’s ideal of baseball in harmony with America’s “snap, go, fling” but that has faded. Whitman’s America of the late 1800s was a dynamic time where people believed that if they worked hard they’d go far in life. Over time, America has wavered from that ethos of work. And that’s why American football is truly America’s sport.

Here’s why:

1. Work less get paid more

The average soccer player will run nearly seven miles in a match and play for ninety minutes, whereas the average football player will run less than a mile and play maybe six minutes a game (the average amount of time the ball is in play during an NFL game is eleven minutes, but players only play either offense or defense which cuts the time in half). It would appear in this case that soccer players “work” harder than football players. That’s not quite in our ethos as Americans. According to a Pew Research poll conducted in 2012, 45% of Americans who identified themselves as “lower class” do not believe that hard work will increase their chances of success in life (the numbers for “middle” class and “upper” class with this belief are 29% and 27% respectively). What is more striking is that 39% of 18-29 year olds identify themselves as “lower class”. Over a third of Americans who should be bombarding the workforce with hard workers, yet they don’t see hard work as an option. (As an aside, 77% of these 18-29 year olds have “some college” or less for an education. You might see where their pessimism comes in… why work hard in a menial job?). That means that nearly half of Americans identify with these football players. They hardly “work” but still make good money. And, as absurd as this may seem, there are thirty-five states where being on some form of welfare pays better than obtaining a minimum wage job. Why would a mother in Pennsylvania making $29,000 a year with two children want to get a better job? Including her welfare benefits she will bring in a combined income of nearly $58,000. If she works a little harder an earns a $1000 raise, she will lose out on nearly $30,000 in welfare aid. (Source: Townhall)

And before comments come through about the rigors of being an NFL player (practice, being away from home, etc.) I am simply looking at the time they clock for their work. They are exceptionally part-time employees and still make over $500,000 a year. This is the new America: Work the bare-minimum and reap massive rewards.

2. Crass consumerism

If you had any doubts about American consumerism, just look to the iPhone. A new version comes out each year and millions are sold primarily to customers who already have a perfectly working phone. Society says “spend!” and we do. Fortunately for us i3OtXskAmericans, football caters to our need for want and stuff. In an average football game there are just over sixty minutes of commercials. Think about that for a second. There is as much time for commercials as there is for the actual game clock–four fifteen-minute quarters. That’s 120 commercials. Allow that half of those commercials are repeats and that means were are watching advertisements for sixty products and television shows. That’s why we can’t watch soccer–forty-five minute halves with no commercial interruptions. How in the world would we know what we are missing?

3. Health doesn’t matter

sports7Recently, FLOTUS Michelle Obama came out and defended her school lunch programs against critics (Read here from HuffingtonPost). As well she should. We are a big country, and I don’t just mean in land mass. We are big people. According to the CDC, 67% of all Americans over 20 are overweight–this number includes those who are obese. Just over a third of Americans–35%–are obese. But we really don’t do anything about it. 8 out of 10 Americans would agree that exercise has a positive impact on a long, healthy life, but only 28% of us actually do something about it. When we watch television, we are bombarded by body types that are unattainable without a knife, a vacuum, and Photoshop. Football makes us feel better about ourselves. We watch three-hundred pound linemen huff and puff for six minutes and we immediately feel better about our own weight issues. Who wants to watch twenty-two skinny men run around on a field for ninety minutes? No, give us a collection of overweight men that we can identify with. And that they earn millions being overweight makes it even better.

4. Short-term memory

Huh? Just a refresher, we are talking here about futbol. Or was that football? I don’t remember. Hamburgers!

In the days before computers, before encyclopedias, before massive libraries, mankind had to remember things. No. Seriously. We had to remember stupid things like our Social Security number, phone numbers, and the dates of our spouse’s birth and our anniversary.  Today, we have no need to commit these things to memory. Psychologists call this the “google effect”. We don’t need to memorize things anymore. Facebook will remind us of birthdays. Our computers will auto fill phone numbers and addresses. We don’t even need to worry about how to spell since our phones will ask, “Did you mean yaddayadda?” when it doesn’t recognize our crude attempts at spelling words. I can just look it up. We are willing to accept that the things we might need to remember are stored for us in a large server farm in Utah. And so we’ve developed painfully bad memories. Thankfully, football, again, assists us with this. Even with eleven minutes of actual game play, the networks have made sure that we don’t even need to pay attention to that. We’ve got 17 minutes of replays for those times when you couldn’t quite grasp the last four seconds of play. Striking that there is more airtime for replays then the game is actually played. And then, because we can’t be asked to focus on anything for too long, we can indulge in over an hour of men standing around. Football caters to our lazy brains.