October Letters to Jim: The PAC-12 Isn’t a Power Conference

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Top illustration by Tim Forkes

October arrives with cooler temperatures, leaves changing colors, and rabid football fans already wondering what the heck happened to their favorite teams this year. It also brings in a new batch of fan mail, so let’s get right into it and see what is on the minds of others.

Dear Jim,
Do you define success as something measurable or is it more of a feeling you have about where you are in life?
Desiring Success

Dear DS,

Success depends on the individual. A good example would be the time I gave an oral interpretation speech in my high school speech class. The students who went before and after me, most of whom I do not remember, made earnest stabs at interpreting the words of some of the finest writers who ever lived, none of which I remember. When I was called to make my presentation, I selected the lyrics to “Hotel California.”

Forty plus years later, that speech still provides my friend Phil with a memory he will most likely cling to until his final breath. Every so often, I receive a thank you from him for that day for my interpretation. I feel I was quite successful because inside I get a nice feeling knowing at least one student was touched by my effort.

However, I was also made to feel unsuccessful as I received a C-minus, a common grade on much of my high school work. Whether it was my lack of audience eye contact, failure to adequately prepare for the task, or the tone of my delivery, my grade suggested I did not measure up to others.  Or it could be simply my teacher was not into the modern representation of the poetic work of Don Henley. I can only hope I helped turn her onto further exploration of Henley, in which case, I would feel extra successful.

It was by the full moon we saw
their true colors … (Tim Forkes)

Dear Jim,
What do you feel is the primary reason for the lack of bipartisanship in Congress?  How would you go about solving the problem?
Politically Frustrated

Dear PF,

I believe gridlock is the primary result of one thing; we keep reelecting 90 percent of the people in congress. If a politician does not have to fear being voted out of office, they do not have to accomplish anything.

Now, this brings us to whether we should have term limits. Term limits are not necessary if the electorate is willing to be more involved in the governing process. Blindly voting along party lines is a major reason why politicians don’t fear elections. When most politicians don’t have to face a challenger from their own party, voters who vote along party lines can’t usher in change unless they vote outside their party. Most are not willing to do this.

I do not believe we need term limits as much as we need limits on campaign financing. More money needs to be made available to challengers and less money needs to be provided to incumbents. This will give the voter more power to create change and perhaps this might light a fire under politicians to reach consensus more often.

Dear Jim,
What’s wrong with the Pac 12 football conference? Why can’t they field a team to challenge for a national title? At this point, I am beginning to wonder if it will ever happen in my lifetime.
Pac 12 Fan

USC plays its games in the L.A. Coliseum
(Claudia Gestro)

Dear Fan,

Where to start? A quick glance at the overall records of the Pac 12 teams after four weeks shows just one team still unbeaten and an overall record of 24 wins and 24 losses.. When you play in a Power 5 conference, the only Pac 12 teams who should have any losses after finishing their non-league schedule are those who have already played early season games against teams from their conference. Unfortunately, most Pac 12 teams struggle against the likes of non-Power 5 schools like Fresno State, San Diego State, and Nevada. Not to knock those schools, but no one would ever mistake them as SEC or Big Ten powers.

Oregon is the only team left in the Pac 12 with a realistic shot at the playoffs. Even if the playoffs were expanded to the top sixteen teams in the nation, Oregon is the only Pac 12 team with a shot at the post season unless you believe Arizona State or UCLA will run the table and finish with just one loss.

Until USC turns their program around, the Pac 12 will remain on the outside looking in. On the bright side, they don’t have to worry about being mauled to death by Alabama.

Dear Jim,
Is Trump going to run in 2024?

Dear Voter,

I get asked this question all the time. The last time I answered it, I believe I said if he does it will be from a prison cell. I still believe that to be the case.

The justice department has remained quiet and is presumably going about building a case against the former president. I still believe he will be charged with a crime or crimes while in office. However, the timing of charging him is critical, which leads me to believe nothing will happen until after the midterm elections. If Republicans win back the House or Senate in 2022, the pro Trump movement will take off. The best way to crush it is to file charges against Trump and begin releasing evidence that shows just how corrupt he was. It becomes Biden’s ultimate “trump” card to win back or add more seats for Democrats.

We also know Trump hates losing and can’t admit defeat. It makes sense he will closely watch the polling to gauge whether he has an actual shot at winning. If Biden is looking strong in the polls, it may well be Trump decides to sit out and just be a thorn in the side of Biden.

However, this all changes if Biden decides to step down after one term. I believe Trump would foam at the mouth over a chance to stir up shit in a race for the White House if he gets to run against Kamala Harris. Attacking and disparaging women is, after all, Trump’s drug of choice.

Dear Jim,
Why do so many people get caught up in missing persons cases like Gabby Petito? Is it me or do you find this a strange occurrence?

Dear Dumbfounded,

You are not alone. Why would any sane person get caught up in the life of someone they never knew existed less than a week before, all because she goes missing and is presumed murdered? There are plenty of TV shows and films with this premise they can watch for entertainment, but instead, they become fixated on the coverage.

Worse, why does the media cover these events? That was a stupid question. We all know it is for ratings. They have no regard for the family members affected by this and selfishly use their tragedy to manipulate people to follow them because they have nothing better to do.

The media counters by claiming they only give people what they want to follow According to them, we only want bad news, gossip, and traffic reports. If this is the case, we live sad lives if we need reminders of how good our lives are by following the tragedies that strike others.

We would all be better served if the media just reported useful information rather than suck us into a click bait world of advertising for their personal profit.

Dear Jim,
Did you learn more life lessons from your parents, schooling, or athletics? It seems today, kids are overprotected in everything they do and as a result are less prepared for life in the real world. Where does the fault lie?

I was one of eight kids. My father was busy establishing himself as a doctor and community pillar and was often MIA while my mom was left to run a household filled with kids of all ages and stages. I think I learned more of what not to be from observing my father and more of what to be by watching my mom. Together, I learned you must be insane to be a parent to eight children.

In the classroom, I basically learned how to read individual authority figures and what I could and could not get away with. The teachers I ended up respecting the most and appreciating were the ones who saw me as an individual and not as the younger sibling of an older brother or sister they once taught.

Athletics is where I feel I learned the most valuable lessons that have carried over throughout my life. Honest and sincere communication yields greater results than the use of fear. We are not all the same or equal in talent and we do not all respond to the same methods, so it is best to learn what makes an individual give their best. There is no shame in losing if you walk away from it having learned something that will make you better. Don’t expect to be recognized for individual accomplishments unless you can see the hard work others do that help you succeed. How you react to winning and losing says more about you as an individual than the frequency you win and lose. Finally, the only joy that is greater than winning an individual title is the joy that comes with being part of a team title.

As for the other questions, every generation is raised differently than the previous one. It’s not my place to judge how today’s kids are raised when the circumstances they are raised in are so much different than the ones I was raised in.

Dear Jim,
Why should I place my health in a constantly changing science that seems to offer up new advice every week when it comes to dealing with COVID? I can’t keep up with what they recommend and wonder if all of this is a hoax. What can you say to restore my faith in science’s ability to keep me healthy?
Losing Faith

Dear LF,

The idea that science is correct the first time they come up with a theory or solution to a problem has to change. Keep in mind, the scientific community once claimed the world was flat, the sun revolved around the planet, and smoking was healthy. As more evidence is gathered, we should expect new findings and with them new recommendations.

It is vital the scientific mind remains open to new ideas and theories if it is to advance treatments designed to keep us safe and healthy. Without science changing, we would still live in a world where factories emit so much pollution, we end up living in a perpetual state of fog much like London once did.

In a world where attention spans last about 15 minutes and hardship is defined by losing your cell phone, we need to remember COVID-19 is still in its infancy. Two years ago, the public knew nothing about it and now we are updated daily because of all we learn and because of the speed in which knowledge changes.

All I can suggest is if you have grown tired of science and lost faith in it, try turning your attention back to real people who lie in hospitals suffering from COVID. Are you willing to risk more inconveniences and gamble with your life or the lives of loved ones all because science learns more and has the decency to keep us updated?

Neck gaiters can pass as Halloween masks
(Tim Forkes)

It’s normal to grow tired of any inconvenience. However, is it wise to throw up your arms and give up when we know the possible outcome of doing so can be fatal?  Hang in there.

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That does it for another month. If you can’t be bothered to wear a mask because of a virus, please maintain some consistency and lay off wearing one for Halloween. Until next month, be safe.