Common Sense Gun Control

Posted by: on Oct 24, 2014 | One Comment

Common Sense Gun Control

And here we go again. Another shooting at school, more senseless killings of Americans who are way to young in a place that is supposed to be a safe haven. What drives people to do such things is beyond my comprehension of human nature. What I do know is that something needs to be done and done now.

As with an emotionally charged issue, the conversation is dominated by the fringes. On one side, you have folks that want all guns banned.  Let me tell you Mr. and Mrs Lefty, that is never going to happen and you just need to come to that realization.

On the other side you have the NRA and their constitution waving gun fanatics who claim the right to keep and bear arms is their god given right. I have a question for you Mr. and Mrs. Righty.  Do you think our founding fathers had semi-automatic weapons in mind when they wrote? They were using single shot muskets back in the day. Why don’t you use one of those one of these instead of an Uzi?

This is like a game of chicken and no one wants to be the first to flinch, the first to show weakness, the first to give an inch for fear of having to give more than the other side. That is exactly why nothing gets done.

So what do we need?  Leadership, someone with the balls to take on both sides and get them to talk to each other. The problem is the NRA has so much money and so many elected officials hiding their heads in the sand for fear of Wayne LaPierre and his armed band of merry men. I’m not saying the fault is entirely on the right, it’s just that they yell louder and carry a much bigger stick. Unfortunately, it’s a not a stick that’s inflicting all the damage.

Legal Sports Gambling Daze

Posted by: on Oct 22, 2014 | No Comments

Many years ago, when the annual boys golf trip used to take me to Vegas, our trip coincided with The Preakness Stakes. On the day of the race, we’d usually leave for the golf course around 7 AM Pacific Time/10 AM Eastern Time, and the sports book would already be starting to fill up. By the time we got back to the hotel, usually just in time for the race, it was standing room only and you could feel the excitement in the air. It’s not just horse racing. Name a sport and you can bet on it Las Vegas.

With 4 of the casinos in Atlantic City having closed or soon to be closed, and with the competition from casinos in neighboring states continuing to put pressure on the remaining NJ casinos, the Garden State has decided to allow legal gambling in their casinos. So what do the NFL, MLB, NBA,  NHL and NCAA do?  They sue to stop legalized gambling in NJ for fear that it will hurt the “integrity of the game.” Oh give me a break.

Forgetting the other 3 professional sports, let’s focus on the NFL. The NFL –  home of Fantasy Football – thinks letting casinos in NJ take bets on their games is going to have an effect on the integrity of their sport? This is from a league that openly sponsors Fantasy Football, actually has entire shows devoted to Fantasy Leagues on their own TV network and the other networks that carry their sport to millions of viewers. What do they think all these people who play Fantasy Football are doing with all this information? Playing for points or peanuts? No, Fantasy Football is organized gambling encouraged by the NFL as a way to boost it’s popularity, drive-up TV ratings and keep fans interested. During some TV coverage, they even run the fantasy points in the scroll at the bottom of the TV. You can smell the hypocrisy from here all the way to NFL headquarters.

And don’t get me started on the NCAA and their objections. The NCAA is an organization that can’t get out of it’s own way right now, and could be headed to the sports organization graveyard in the next few years if they are not careful. I read somewhere the NCAA Basketball Tournament is the number one sports gambling event in the United States. Ask anyone who has been to Vegas for the first weekend of the tournament and they will tell how insane things are there. The sports books routinely fill up when the first games tip-off and don’t clear out until the last game ends some 12 hours later.

Personally, I don’t gamble on sports, don’t play fantasy, haven’t participated in NCAA tournament pool in years, and have only been to the race track once or twice in the past 5 or 6 years. But I know lots of people who are big fantasy players, have more than one team, have elaborate draft day events at home or the local sports bar, and who spend their entire Sunday watching NFL RedZone so they can keep track of their fantasy points. If you took the fantasy out of football, I wonder how many of these diehard fans would still watch? What effect this would have the ratings? Subsequently the effect on the pocketbooks of the league, the owners, and the players.

My opinion is that the popularity of the NFL is driven in a big way by the illegal gambling that goes on through Fantasy Football. For the NFL to deny this is the height of hypocrisy and for them to sue the State of New Jersey to keep gambling on their sport illegal because it calls into question “the integrity of the game” is just beyond crazy and a waste of money for the state of NJ to defend itself. Makes me think that it’s not only the players who have been getting their bells rung all these years, but it’s really the owners and league officials who should have their heads examined.

A Questioning of Faith

Posted by: on Oct 15, 2014 | One Comment

A couple of weeks ago was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. A time when we members of the tribe ask for forgiveness for our sins – sins against family, sins against friends, sins against God.

I believe in friends, I believe in family, as for God….not so much. I believe that something is out there, I’m just not sure what or who or where it is. The funny thing about it is despite my lack of belief in the ultimate being, I spend the entire day of  Yom Kippur in temple, arriving before 10 when the morning services start and leaving after the final blow of the shofar about 8 hours later.  Yom Kippur should actually end at sunset (or about 6:45 on that particular day) but as a reform Jew, Yom Kippur ends early to build in travel time for break fast.  And yes, I have now sinned for saying that.

Most people leave temple after the morning service and return later that afternoon for Yizkhor, the memorial service where you honor those immediate relatives who have passed. This is only my 2nd year that I have attended Yizkhor as a mourner. I went in years past but mostly to support Linda and her mom.

My day in temple is spent learning, reflecting, listening to the sounds of the day, checking out the fall fashions and laughing at folks trying to hide the fact that they are on their cell phones (including a member our clergy’s wife playing Tetris – OY!).  Most of the time, I don’t even participate in the responsive readings that go on. I have found that my faith and my spirituality does not come from a prayer book.

When I go to temple, a time when my most people reaffirm their belief in God, is the time that I actually find myself questioning God’s existence. Mostly because I don’t really think about religion or God all that much but when you’re in temple, that’s what you think about. I have often stated that “religion is the root of all evil” and, in today’s world, I think that is more true than ever.

Don’t get me wrong. I consider myself 100% Jewish, raised my kids that way, go to temple more than 2 times a year (which is more than I can say for about 90% of our temple members…and I’ve sinned again). For me, I don’t equate my Jewishness with a belief in God. Sounds a bit crazy but I think faith and spirituality are what you make of it, not necessarily an organized belief system in a higher power.

During the Jewish High Holidays which just ended, most Jews are supposed to reaffirm their belief in “Adonai,” the one true God. As for me, I reaffirmed my belief that if there is one true God, he put me here to question everything about him or her, about religion, about everything that is going on the world, and to try and make one other person question it as well. And I believe that if there really was a God, he’d answer my prayers that my blog would have thousands (let’s make that millions) of readers and I’d get rich just from telling folks my opinions.