Taking Note of a Few Things: Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Out

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Our military gets involved in too many wars. For almost 80% of our history, our nation has been involved in wars. It seems a bit much when you consider we like to brand ourselves as a nation of peace. When our most recent war that ended was our nation’s longest one ever, not to mention costliest, it’s no wonder we are not jumping in to defend Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin is a better student of American history than most Americans. He understands the art of timing and knows we are not up for the cost and sacrifice to defend Ukraine. He is taking advantage of our apathy as well as our ignorance.

Ukraine is worth fighting for. On the other hand, two decades in Afghanistan was not worth it. We claim to value freedom and democracy around the world but seem reluctant to defend it when the opponent can inflict a high loss of life.

China is watching what we do. Let’s face it, China would love nothing more than to take advantage of our unwillingness to fight for and defend the freedom of those they claim to care about. In China’s case, this is Taiwan. If we are afraid to drive out Putin and make him taste military defeat, then we surely won’t take on the Chinese military if they invade Taiwan.

Those Ukrainian flags and prayers you post on Facebook mean nothing to our decision makers. What does mean something is what corporations say regarding the loss of valuable minerals in Ukraine. If the corporate world pressures the president to go to war, we will. If it warns him, it is bad for business, he won’t. This is how our government works when it is glued to the hips of the rich and powerful.

Ukraine is not a NATO member which complicates things. Putin knows this and he knows what will and won’t result in a military response from NATO. He knows how far he can push things while absorbing economic sanctions. He also knows how such sanctions will impact our economy and that there is an election at the end of this year in which there could be a flip in who controls congress.

Putin should be considered an enemy of the state and placed in the same vein as Osama bin Laden. It doesn’t matter if he is a head of state, he is a threat to the peace and freedom of people around the world, is behind the use of cyber-attacks designed to harm our nation and countless others and is determined to build a new empire that threatens the peace we have enjoyed since the fall of the Soviet Union.

I doubt the Los Angeles Lakers will add a statue of LeBron James to their collection. James is showing why you do not want to empower players and give them say as to who to add to the team. He has set that franchise back five years.

There was a time not that long ago where I prided myself with the creative and challenging workouts I completed each morning. Now, I look forward to the days I just roll out sore muscles and do some gentle stretching. The problem with it is it is another reminder I have gotten older and am slowing down.

I managed to avoid unemployment but am not sure I am cut out for my new job. I realize I am not well suited for work that is not constant, and my new job often has me doing nothing but waiting for a customer to come into our tiny store. It serves a purpose for the time being, but I won’t miss it like my previous job.

My new boss is only twenty and he is already grooming me to do his job so he can have more free time. I may be living in a reverse universe.

Cryptocurrency. I know nothing about it, how it works, or what it is. All I know is my new boss is into it more than he is into running a small store for his old man.

News services are sure happy to have something new to focus on after years of Trump and COVID. They have a way of directing what we focus on which if you stop and think about is scary.

Speaking of Fat Bastard, Trump is still very popular in the ultra-conservative world. The recent CPAC conference all but anointed him the next candidate of the GOP. If he wins in 24, we will be electing a man who admires Vladimir Putin and looks down on the EU and NATO.

*Major League Baseball is in the midst of a lockout that could result in a shortened season. No one seems to care because let’s face it, the season is too long. Analytics has made the game boring and too predictable.

I would do away with the current National and American Leagues format in baseball and overhaul them into two new leagues, Large Market and Small Market.  Each fall, there would be seven teams from each market in the playoffs as it is now with the World Series pitting the best Large Market team against the top Small Market team.

How come it takes a war to unite the west? This is always true in our country. Is it possible our leaders have learned war is a great way to distract us from our many internal divisions? We come together to defeat an evil leader but come up with all sorts of reasons why we can’t solve problems like poverty, lagging wages, high cost of housing, and healthcare at home.

Russia isn’t the only power ruled by oligarchs. We have our share who control our government.

For the love of Pete, can we just let Bob Saget rest in peace? Why is the public entitled to know the details of his passing? No one should have to go through what his loved ones have had to put up with.

There’s no talking your way out of having supported Trump. GOP candidates can say all they want about President Biden, but as long as you are on record for supporting a former president who openly gushed over Putin, you have convinced me you are not fit to hold office. Just being a member of the GOP says a lot about the lack of character a candidate has.

Of course, if I have learned one thing in my life it is that not everyone sees the world like me. It’s such a shame they don’t. With the right medication, my world is pretty good.

I don’t care if this is politically incorrect, we are a fat nation. We are an unhealthy nation. We can place cute sounding labels onto one another, but we are fat. A dad bod is FAT. Big bone kids are FAT. The proof is in the super-sized pudding we eat in front of the TV between mouthfuls of chips chased by diet soda. We are fat.

We do not know what fit is either. That one hour of daily exercise has been marketed into making us now think we can get all we need in a couple of minutes. Gyms and fitness companies are selling us on crap like three second strength workouts. That’s not a typo. Three fucking seconds to fitness. That’s BS and should be against the law. Ten-minute workouts that “do what an hour does” is also BS.

The fitness industry is cutthroat. It relies on selling people who struggle on the idea that getting into shape is easy. It used to sell only to those who loved fitness, but like all industries, needed to grow. Consequently, they set their marketing eyes on those who struggle with weight and worse, self-esteem. They make people feel guilty for not working out by making them think it is easy.

Getting in shape is very hard. It takes time which most people think they do not have.

Staying in shape is easy because once you have done the hard work, you just need to maintain what you have.

In less than one generation, I witnessed firsthand PE students going from nearly one hundred percent of ALL students passing state fitness exams to less than half. I saw parents urging me to push and challenge their kids and not to accept their excuses to parents seeking waivers for their pudgy video game addicted kid to be exempt.

School districts caved to parent complaints. I saw districts destroy the self-esteem of children who struggled with math or language arts because they were punished for their shortcomings. Students were assigned extra periods of math and language arts all in the name of improved test scores for the school. At the same time, districts DID NOTHING about horrible fitness scores.

Well, they did do something. As PE scores got worse, administrators kept increasing the size of PE classes. They sacrificed your kids’ health by doubling PE class sizes to 70 kids to lower class sizes in math and other subjects.

Today, colorectal cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity are striking people at younger ages and guess what? We allowed it to happen with our busy schedules, over scheduling of kids, and pushing to improve pointless test scores while sacrificing kids mental, emotional, and physical health.

If you can convince a kid to run an extra lap, do one more set of pushups, and finish one more wind sprint, they will find it easier to convince themselves to read one more chapter, do one more page of math, and complete their homework. The body will only do what the mind tells it.

Last thought on fitness. If you want to know how flabby your brain is, feel your leg muscles. Dr. Paul Dudley White

For those impressed by the fight put up by Ukrainians, keep in mind they are not winning as much as Russia has underestimated them. If this were a boxing match, it would be Ali vs. Chuck Wepner. Ukraine is the equivalent of the Bayonne Bleeder and what we are witnessing is horrific.

Wepner was never the same after the beating he took from Ali. Cities and entire nations can be rebuilt easier than human beings after they have been through the horrors of war.

Ukrainians near and far have shown what it means to love your country. Reading stories of how Ukrainian athletes have gone home to take up arms reminds me of what many of our great athletes did during World War II. Other than the late Pat Tillman, how many American athletes have made similar sacrifices since the end of Vietnam?

UCLA vs. USC has become a great basketball rivalry. Both teams are solid and could easily make it to the final four in college basketball. Then again, there are about fifty other schools who can say the same thing. Still, it’s nice to see both doing so well on the court.

Be vigilant. Don’t take our freedom for granted. Don’t think our nation is free of problems that can make all we enjoy disappear. If you love our country and all it was founded on, you will find it in your best interest to trust the party that stands up to those in our nation who sought to undo it all on January 6, 2021.

Final thought: do yourself a favor and listen to some Joe Walsh. It’s hard not to smile when listening to his music. While you are at it, read the lyrics to Life of Illusion.

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  • Major League Baseball and the MLBPA have come to an agreement and Spring Training has started.