August Letters to Jim: Homelessness, Sports, Cliff Diving and Skinny Dipping

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It’s August which must mean the northern hemisphere is on fire.  No matter, my fans won’t be stopped from pestering me with their questions.  Maybe it is because I burn with knowledge few have or perhaps it is because like me, they are unaware of their pending global doom.  Either way, take a break and enjoy this month’s letters.

Dear Jim,
Recently, a Dave Chappell performance was canceled, and it is believed it is another example of woke-ism at work. Given he has a history of targeting transgender people in many of his jokes, was the venue correct to cancel his performance or are we heading closer to an era where no one can consider making a living as an entertainer if they are on record for having any controversial opinions or subject matter?
Disappointed Arts Fan

Dear DAF,

Generally speaking, I am not a fan of people who have entered into an agreement with entertainers, speakers, or any other figure to appear only to cancel their appearance due to being controversial. My lone exception to this is if there is a real threat to public safety. Otherwise, the show should go on.

Look, entertainment is one of the best examples we have in this nation of our First Amendment right. It is something not afforded to people in many nations, and it serves as a great example of one of the ways our nation became great. I seriously doubt Dave Chappelle poses a serious threat to the safety of the public if he performs a comedy set at a venue where people pay money and choose to see him.

I also believe it is vital that people have the right and opportunity to voice their displeasure toward someone or something in a peaceful manner, something also afforded to us under the First Amendment. Again, I doubt the number of protesters would cause a concern and there is no reason why a venue cannot budget in the added cost for security for the likes of a Dave Chappell.

Lastly, we are missing something that has really made us as a nation stand out from all others, and that is our ability to laugh at ourselves. We have lost this somewhere in all the discord that has grown over the past twenty or so years. What we have instead is a divided culture that keeps count of the wrong’s others say about them instead of just laughing.

We need to stop this mentality that only gay people can make jokes about gay people, whites are only allowed to poke fun of whites, conservatives making jokes of conservatives and on down the cultural line. It’s why we have TV shows billed as Black, Asian, or Christian sitcoms. How about just calling them sitcom? We need less separation and more integration if we are ever going to heal as a country.

Dweezil Zappa, not quite Bruce Springsteen, but tickets to see him and his group perform the music of Frank Zappa can be expensive
(Tim Forkes)

Dear Jim,

What do you think of performers like Bruce Springsteen charging $4,000.00 for seats to see them perform? It seems like robbery to expect fans to fork over that kind of money to hear them sing. Do you agree?
Not Happy

Dear NH,

I think anyone who can afford to pay the cost for a cheap seat to see any artist perform has no excuse to complain about their salary or financial status. Keep in mind, the average Springsteen fan has less money put aside for a rainy day than they will spend on tickets to see him perform.

We claim poverty far too often while trying to live like kings. We run up credit card debt and work ourselves into early graves because of the enormity of our monthly bills. Maybe if we bought fewer concert tickets, boats, RVs, and bigger houses than we really need, we might find it easier to set aside money for those rainy days or retirement. It is called living within your means.

You are not poor if you are unable to fork over the money to go see Bruce play live no matter the cost of your tickets. You are poor if you are unable to feed and clothe your family because you have not had a pay raise in a decade. You are poor if you must work two or three jobs, go without sleep to do so, and never get to see your family in the process because of the cost of living in your community.

Dear Jim,
What happens next year if the state of California has a winter like this last one? How severe will water rationing be? Will rationing even help?

Praying for Rain

Dearing Praying,

It’s not just a California drought. The western third of the nation is experiencing it and most likely, even with a wet and snowy winter, will reel from the effects of drought. However, let’s assume we have another mild winter.

You can’t use what you don’t have so with another dry winter, there will not be any water in our major reservoirs. Keep in mind, reservoirs are not just for housing drinking water, or used to keep our yards green. Our largest produce hydroelectricity so expect more rolling brownouts to full on blackouts. Forget about utility fees for water and electricity. Cities will raise all the fees they can dream of to make up for the lost revenue caused when we run out of water.

Don’t forget, if you are considering running your home off generators, gasoline will be more valuable with a drought so if you think you will be running your generators with $8.00 per gallon gasoline, try thinking more like $12.00 fuel instead.

Now, in an off the rail’s liberal state like California, imagine our leaders also banning the purchase of any water that comes in plastic containers because of the harm they will do to the environment.

It’s time for leaders to be more transparent, something they hate doing. They need to spell out to us what is really going to happen when the snowpack peaks in December and melts off by March. However, if they do, a state like California will just see a greater exodus of citizens than it is already experiencing.

My advice is to stock up on backpacking water filtration pumps, the kind you can stick in mud and pull out drinkable water. You will need them to filter what little shower water you can collect from your weekly washing and decide how you want to use it. As for me, I will use mine to keep a spot in my front yard good and moist so local leaders can stick their heads in the ground and pretend none of this is happening.

Back country in San Diego County. It’s very dry, like the rest of the state
(Tim Forkes)

Dear Jim,
In the past, you have written about how little sports you watch anymore. Are there sports you wish were more easily available to the viewing public? If football, baseball, and basketball are nothing more than watching games that make billionaires richer, what are some other sports worth viewing?
Lover of Sports

Dear LOS,

Along with having participated in many team sports while growing up, I have also participated in my share of endurance events, so I tend to desire having more access to sports like track and field, cycling, and triathlons. I think we miss out on a lot of drama and great performances, especially since many of these events include mastering things we can all do; running, throwing, swimming, and riding a bike.

We also miss out on a lot of wonderful athletes from other nations and learning about their lives. It’s a shame to focus only on American athletes when we now live in a global community.  How many Americans would be inspired to get up off a couch after learning about runners from East Africa who took to distance running because as kids, they had to run away from an enemy wanting to kill their village or because they ran to and from school the six to ten miles round trip to get an education?

We will sit through a three-hour football game to watch a last second score win a game. However, in that same amount of time, we could have watched one thrilling race after another at a track meet where competitors are offered bonuses for setting world or meet records.

How about a four-hour bicycle race where 180 riders are lumped wheel to wheel while riding up and over one mountain road after another to finish seconds apart? Unfortunately, the leaders of our three major sports have pretty much ensured this won’t happen by offering us year-round coverage of their sport and paying communication companies huge sums of money to focus on their sports. In the end, we remain ignorant to what else is out there that is worth watching.

L.A. Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (Claudia Gestro)

Dear Jim,
What changes would have to happen to the game of football to get you to want to watch it again? I am like you and have grown tired of the game and all the negative aspects that get swept under the rug. There must be some changes that can make it safer and more interesting again.
Missing the Game

Dear Missing,

I have a few ideas how to improve the game and some will make it safer than the current format. First off, I would widen the field to 60 yards for college and 65 yards for the pros. Bodies are always going to get bigger and faster in the NFL so the only real way to open the game and make it safer is by increasing the width of the gridiron. You still get four downs to move ten yards, but now defenders have a larger total area to defend, and offenses have more area to exploit. The game would see a return of the old Lombardi Sweep and make it more difficult for defensive backs to cover wide receivers. There also becomes fewer violent collisions as players have more room to operate.

Another change I would make is shorten the games from 60 minutes to 48 minutes. If this were done in the NFL, the total time played with a twenty-game season of shorter games is the same as it was under a 16-game season of one-hour games. More games, more excitement, and no more damage done to players as under the current system.

I would also allow teams to suit up their entire squad. Why use 48 players when you carry 53 on a roster?  Would you enter a gunfight with 90% of your bullets if carrying a full load was just as easy? It doesn’t make sense to not make available all your resources in a sport with such a high injury rate.

Another change the league needs to consider is how they share revenue. I would keep the salary cap, but teams that win deserve a bigger slice of the league pie. Teams that make the playoffs should receive a financial bonus. I would also make the revenue a team earns from broadcasting rights based on win totals to assure fewer teams of tanking for a better draft pick. Also, since Super Bowl participants have a shorter off season than the rest of the league, I would give them each an extra draft pick. The winner would receive an extra third round selection while the loser gets an extra fifth round pick.

Lastly, when it comes to reviewing plays that are challenged in the booth, I would require replay officials to view them at game speed and not in slow motion. It would result in fewer challenges and those challenges would take much less time to decide.

Aaron Donald, defensive end for the Los Angeles Rams (Claudia Gestro)

Dear Jim,
What is a product people are fascinated with that you just do not get?
Fascinated Fan

Dear FF,

The first two I think of are cars and cell phones. Don’t get me wrong, both serve a purpose, but our fascination with both is something I have never understood. I especially do not understand why so many folks love to upgrade either item as fast as they do.

I recently purchased a used pickup truck and in doing so got rid of my small SUV that was less than four years old. Not only that, but it also got better mileage and only had a little more than 13,500 miles on it than the older truck I replaced it with. However, this was not the norm for me.

A car needs to be useful and meet the needs of its owner. I never understood how so many guys are into cars because of how fast they are or how big they are. Most of the time, they are using them to commute to work or run errands, so they never fully use them as they were intended.

I also do not get the fascination with muscle cars or classic cars. I suppose if you are looking for an excuse to get away from the wife and kids, they allow you to claim you need to tinker on the engine or wax and polish it one more time so the dust it collects sitting in your garage doesn’t ruin it.

Cell phone fascination is nothing less than an addiction in most cases. Personally, I do not want the world at my fingertips. A lot of times, I don’t bother taking my phone with me if I go somewhere. I use Waze and Pandora and pretty much nothing else on my phone. I’d be happy to never text anyone because I much prefer typing an email on my Chromebook. I also keep my phone on silent because most of the time I do not want to be bothered with a phone call while I am in the middle of something else.

Currently, I am on just my sixth cell phone since first getting one a little more than 20 years ago. I only parted with the first four because one of my kids lost or broke theirs. Currently, I am on just my second smartphone and that is only because I changed phone plans a couple of years ago and it came with the new plan.

This reminds me, I need to upgrade to a new Chromebook soon. Besides having worn off several letters from the keypad, it can no longer take any more updates. Oh, boy, this has been a big year of change. First a car and soon a computer. I hope I can handle it all.

People have been severely crippled and killed by diving off the cliffs of La Jolla Cove.
(Tim Forkes)

Dear Jim,
What has been the craziest thing you have done this summer? I recently went cliff diving, skinny dipping, and bungee jumping. Can you top my summer?
Love to be Crazy

Dear Crazy,

I hate to brag, but I recently deleted all the ads for hearing aids on my Facebook page. Turns out, I already own four sets and do not need any more. In their place, I have replaced them with ads for pills that improve memory.

Los Angeles has a problem with homelessness (Tim Forkes)

Dear Jim,
How would you solve our homeless problem? I do not see much being done about it. I am tired of seeing homeless people everywhere I go.

Dear Frustrated,

I am sure homeless people everywhere will take to heart your frustration and immediately go out and find work or move to another community.

We could spend less on our military and more on social services for those living on the edge of homelessness. Perhaps we can find more money from our billionaires who work to pay less taxes than they should be, so we can fund more centers to house the homeless. Perhaps we can start to recognize how challenging it is for many people returning from military service to transition to civilian life. I don’t know, I am just spit balling now, but something along the lines like jobs that pay livable wages and provide health benefits.

Maybe we can stop funding projects like that stupid train to nowhere we are building in my state and use that money to ease families with mortgage problems. Then again, my state sits on $100 billion bucks of unused money. Maybe use some of it to fund new jobs for those out of work. Hey, it just occurred to me, all those empty big box stores in every town might be able to be converted into homeless shelters.

You see, so long as we are sold on the idea that it should be against the law to be homeless instead of illegal to not help those in need, we will have a homeless problem. However, from where I sit, our problem is which of these solutions should we begin implementing right away.

Take a trip to the Santa Monica Pier this summer (Tim Forkes)