Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Brain download

There are a lot of topics running through my head right now, and I haven't had the opportunity to flesh them out into anything long-form, so this is a sort of download of thoughts and issues:

1. As I posted on Facebook the other day, it is a shame that the uproar about Donald Sterling completely overshadowed the passing of Dr. Jack Ramsay. His loss is felt by all basketball fans, but I think most acutely by those of us who were born and raised in Philly and grew up on Big Five basketball. Dr. Jack simply WAS St. Joe's basketball. And whether you cheered for the Hawks, or were a fan of Penn, LaSalle, Villanova, or Temple, you knew he was simply the best. It was so hard watching the NBA finals back in 1977, because as desperately as I wanted the 76ers and Julius Erving to win the title, Dr. Jack's Trail Blazers played basketball the way I learned how to play. They moved without the ball, ran when they had the opportunity but didn't force it, played tough, helping team defense, everything about playing the game as it should be played. I hated them, but loved watching them. In a world of too many Dick Vitales sucking up all the oxygen in the room during a college game, it was always refreshing watching a game that Dr. Jack worked. And on top of everything else, he was an underwater demolitions frogman in the Navy--the precursors to the SEALs. A full life indeed.

2. On the Sterling front, what I have found most fascinating is the almost perverse need of some pundits to deny that Sterling is a racist. They want to point out that his mistress is Black and Mexican. So? Thomas Jefferson slept with Sally Hemings but kept slaves. They point out he employs black men and pays them significant sums of money. Yes, which causes his investment in the team go up even more significantly. The fact that he employs them does not preclude his thinking them to be inferior. Thoroughbred horse owners spend great amounts on their horses, too. They claim his mistress is a gold digger and a terrible person. Stipulated. Which makes him less of a racist, how, exactly? He has receive awards from the L.A. chapter of the NAACP and has given money to Democrats? Again, so? Money makes people look the other way to a lot of sins. The fact that he is racist should embarrass the NAACP-LA. But it doesn't make him less of a racist. Race and issues of race are part of our everyday lives. If you contend that institutional racism no longer exists, I would suggest you are not looking very hard. I hear white folks complain all the time that they are "tired" of hearing about racism. That's nice. I work with people everyday who are tired of having to deal with it. But they don't have any choice.

3. The Supreme Court is considering two cases today on the extent to which cell phones are searchable when people are arrested. This is a big deal. As I'm sure all of you are aware, cell phones are not just phones anymore. They contain significant information about people's lives, not just at that moment, but for months or years in the past and in the future. These decisions will be extremely important. Oh, and those car insurance ads where the cute farm animal shows the officer his proof of insurance by handing him the cell phone? Don't do that.

4. This morning comes news of another mass shooting, this time in Kennesaw, GA. Which is fascinating, because I hear all the time about how "gun-free" zones are making people less safe, and if only everyone was packing (you know, "good guys with guns") we'd all be safer. Well, two points. I deal with murder and mayhem daily. In 20 years, there has never been a hint that someone chose where to do their crime based on the existence of a "gun-free zone", or even considered the issue of whether guns were around where the hell was breaking loose. If you honestly believe that people choose the location of criminal behavior based upon a calculus of where they may encounter armed resistance, you have been watching too many bad action movies and listening far too much to Wayne LaPierre. Further, Kennesaw, GA has had a law on the book since 1982 mandating gun ownership by the heads of households. So there's no shortage of guns there, presumably in the hands of "good guys". And yet............

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