Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bears, chopsticks and baseball. Alas, the nut cases with these concerns are mostly MY side's lunatics. Quick, somebody call a psychiatrist!

So they call me left-leaning. I sometimes call myself left-leaning. But the truth is, I’m a 1959 Centrist, leaning the way I’ve always leaned. It’s just that a lot of American sentiment has shifted, mostly to the right, and in my opinion mostly to the detriment of the nation.

I'm going to get to the bears and the chopsticks shortly, but first stay with me while I make my politics clear.

I define my political tilt with opinions like these:
• We don’t belong in Iraq at this time and no Americans should be dying there
• Social Security and Medicare ought to be preserved, and universal healthcare should be a government priority
• For the general good, America ought to have a more steeply graduated income tax with much higher max tax rates for the formidably rich
• Every American citizen ought to give a year or two of universal national service, whether in the military, the Peace Corps or some other useful service
• America’s citizens need the power of government to control the greedy excesses of big business and agribusiness.
• But small businesses and small farmers deserve government help
• America should be moving faster to rein in major sources of atmospheric pollution.

But sheesh!

Now, because the right wing politicians have gobbled up so much of the center and excreted it off to the right, I find myself allied with lunatics of the left. Look who I find I have to side with in order to call myself a liberal.


Polar bears are an endangered species. They’re losing habitat. I suspect they’re rapidly losing their gene pool. So over in Germany, what happens?

“BERLIN - Berlin Zoo's abandoned polar bear cub Knut looks cute, cuddly and has become a front-page media darling, but an animal rights activist insisted Monday he would have been better off dead than raised by humans…

“’Feeding by hand is not species-appropriate but a gross violation of animal protection laws,’ animal rights activist Frank Albrecht was quoted as saying by the mass-circulation Bild daily, which has featured regular photo spreads tracking fuzzy Knut's frolicking.

"’The zoo must kill the bear.’";

Yeah, thanks a lot Frank. With friends like you, animals don’t need rights. They need bigger teeth and sharper claws. And maybe a good lawyer and a battery of howitzers.


“WASHINGTON - The typical Chinese restaurant menu is a sea of nutritional no-nos, a consumer group has found…

"’I don't want to put all the blame on Chinese food,’ said Bonnie Liebman, nutrition director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which did a report released Tuesday.

"’Across the board, American restaurants need to cut back on calories and salt, and in the meantime, people should think of each meal as not one, but two, and bring home half for tomorrow,’ Liebman said.”;

Listen Bonnie, you might want to watch your use of that word “need.” Restaurants don’t “need” to do anything except serve sanitary food that people like to eat so that the restaurant can make a profit and stay in business.

Chinese food has been around for – I’m going to take a wild guess here – 4,000 years. It does well in this country because it tastes delicious, people enjoy eating it, and it’s usually inexpensive.

Suddenly there are too many calories in it? Well maybe. But then SUGGEST that I eat less of it. Don’t tell me “people should think of each meal…etc.” Say, “I believe people ought to CONSIDER thinking of each meal…etc.”

I mean, who appointed you chief food Nazi of the United States? Give you an inch and the next thing I know you’ll be hiding under my kitchen table to bust me for that second helping of Chunky Monkey or Rocky Road. Maybe even for the first helping.

Or you’ll be lurking under my bed with a video camera, the better to determine if my sex life is up to your high sanitary standards.

Here, Bonnie, let me give you a taste of your own imperial attitude: What you need to do is shut up and let people lead their own lives.


Look, I’m as much for safety as the next guy. I don’t want to see kids hurt playing what ought to be a joyful game.

But New York City has just gotten slightly batty over the subject. The City Council here has outlawed aluminum bats from school games, in the face of often-contradictory and always-anecdotal evidence that baseballs fly off aluminum bats faster than balls hit by wooden bats. There is no hard evidence one way or the other.

(Out of fairness to my liberal friends, I have to point out that the Council bill was introduced by a Republican. Or, to be true to my political sentiments, another damned idiot Republican.)

The New York Times reports:

“But while supporters use …anecdotal examples, industry officials say there have been no reliable studies showing that metal bats provide greater risk of injury than wooden bats.

“A number of coaches, leagues and athletic organizations, including Little League International and the New York High Schools Athletic Association, opposed the bill.

“Part of the opposition rests on the cost of replacing wooden bats, which frequently break. According to the City Council, it would cost the city’s public high schools $253,500 to replace 5,070 metal or metal-composite bats used by 169 baseball teams with wood bats, and $67,600 a year thereafter to replace broken wood bats.”

Listen, dudes. If aluminum bats really hurt and kill kids, they ought to be banned from the game and used only by underworld enforcers who collect debts by breaking legs. But banning aluminum alone is nuts. A wooden bat could hit a baseball hard enough to kill a kid, too. For that matter, so could a carelessly-pitched bean ball.

If the City Council really wants to stop deaths on the baseball diamond, it could switch from baseballs to a bigger and slower-moving softballs. Or the Council could outlaw baseball, period. While they're at it, they might want to outlaw football, another high school sport that sometimes baldy injures kids. That would cut sports injuries to near zero.

Fat chance of it happening?

Yeah, my point exactly.

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