Tuesday, October 4, 2011

number 4

Team Names and Mascots

With the football team from D.C. enjoying some success, debate about the appropriateness of that team's name has arisen once again.  I, of course, have an opinion (as well as a solution).  If you are someone who believes there's no good reason for a team to change its name, and that people should just lighten up, you probably won't agree with my opinion.  If you are someone who believes it's inherently disrespectful to name a team after any indigenous group of people, you probably won't agree with me either.  That's right, once again your fearless leader holds an opinion with compromise at its core.

Before proceeding, I need to point out that the following opinion is written by a very caucasian, white male.  (Although I must confess that I consider myself a native American - in the sense that this is the country in which I was born.)

I don't think naming a team after an authentic group of people is inherently disrespectful - as long as the team uses a name that's not offensive to said group.  An example of this would be the Florida State Seminoles.  On the other hand you have the Fighting Sioux from North Dakota.  I've recently learned that the name "Sioux" was given to that particular tribe by an enemy tribe.  I'm not sure of the exact translation, but it ain't positive.  The other part of that team's name - the "Fighting" part, should also disqualify it as an appropriate team name.  If they want to switch to the Lakota of North Dakota, I have no problem with that.

Provided, of course, that they use appropriate imagery.  Here's where we get to take the Cleveland Indians to task for their Chief Wahoo mascot.  A leering, big-toothed, big nosed image that should have been retired decades ago.  If they were the Cleveland Clowns (and sometimes they are!) it might possibly be OK (but only possibly).  On the other hand, Washington, with its completely inappropriate name, has a much more acceptable image on the side of their helmets.

So the Atlanta braves are OK, right?  The name doesn't seem to be disrespectful.  The image they use seems alright, too.  They're good to go.  Not so fast.  The dreaded "Tomahawk Chop", where thousands of "palefaces" channel their inner 5 year-old by hooting like an Indian while they chop away at their foe, needs to go.

There's no doubt that it can be a slippery slope, and great care needs to be taken.  All sports teams that rely on native imagery need to carefully ensure that they're not unintentionally causing hurt.  To those who say that tradition trumps sensitivity, I would ask them to respectfully consider the issue anew.  Any tradition that causes grievous hurt to others needs to be rethought.  To those who would say that no team should be named after another group of people, I would ask them to respectfully consider that perhaps the name is intended with all due respect, and might be a celebration of geographical heritage.  (There might be some need to educate people, but please don't assume a person is being intentionally disrespectful).

As Rodney King said, "Can't we all get along?"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

number 3

Death Penalty or the New Dog?

I'm torn between opining on the death penalty or telling you about our new puppy.  If this were the pilot of a new TV show, I'd go for the DP, but that would be depressive and controversial.  The only thing controversial about the puppy is what our six-year old cat thinks of her.  As I sit here staring at the flashing curser, I think I'll save capital punishment for later, but mostly I'm against it.  What would you expect from a left-leaning Oberlin grad?

On Saturday, the girls and I headed out on errands.  For those not completely in the loop, that means my two daughters Emma (14), and Grace (11).  We needed birdseed for the backyard feeders and went into a local pet store for that reason.  The local humane society was there and you can guess the rest.  Ginger is approximately 3 months old (we arbitrarily chose the 4th of July as her B-day), and is at least a yellow lab. We're not sure about the other half, but golden retriever is the odds on favorite.  She's behaves like a puppy should, but she has the sweetest disposition.  If this dog ever bites anyone in anger, I'll eat the hat of your choice.  Right now, she's all legs, and those legs aren't the most coordinated.  It's especially humorous watching her navigate steps, although I do feel guilty about laughing after the fact.  She's a wonderful addition to the family.

Kitty, (who had a real name once upon a time), would beg to differ.  We've had the cat for 6 or 7 years, and he's always been a little skittish, but he's learned to be fairly mellow around the four of us.  I'm not fluent in cat but I think his first impression could best be summed up as, "seriously, wtf?"  He'll get used to Ginger, or he won't.  Frankly, I don't care.

The toughest part has been the middle of the night trips to the backyard for "poops and piddles".  I've accepted this responsibility.  When I told my wife this makes up for all the 2 A.M. feedings she endured with the girls she looked at me dubiously and said, "ah, no."  I left it alone after that.

That's enough for now (and I was right - it was much more fun writing about our new puppy than the DP - maybe there's a lesson there for all of us).

Monday, September 26, 2011

number 2

Where I'm Coming From

It seems that I should share some information about myself to provide appropriate context about any posts that will follow.  For instance, if you were to read something that was critical of President Obama, it would be helpful to know if it were said by Rush Limbaugh or Keith Olberman.

First of all, I'm a blackhole of pop culture references.  As I go through my day, the things I do or see send a constant stream of song lyrics, TV shows, books, and/or movies to my mind.  Be prepared for those obscure references.  They may not make sense to you, but to me they're perfectly logical.

Politically and socially, (big pause... do I really want to put this out there?  Of course I do.  I already decided I did when I started AtRP), I'm left of center.  However, I feel very strongly that the ability to reach out to people of other points of view to reach consensus is more important than any political ideology.  That doesn't mean I don't have strong convictions.  I do, and I'm right (as in correct).  It only means that I recognize that another person can have a different point of view and be equally convinced that he or she is correct.  It seems to me that our leaders have lost the ability to compromise, and that is a big part of our country's problems right now.  Please understand that if I share an opinion that you might disagree with, I consider that the start of the dialogue and not the end.  Principled, uncompromising stands may make good theater, but in the end they rarely accomplish anything.

QUIZ answer:  Thunder Road (from Born to Run)

"Screen door slams, Mary's dress waves,
Like a vision she dances across the porch
as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely.
Hey, that's me and I want you only."

(more about Bruce to come, I'm sure)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

number 1

I must believe that me and my opinions are worth sharing.  Why else would I be doing this?  I hope it's more than simple narcissism.  Recently, as John Lennon and I have been watching the wheels go 'round and round, I've been feeling the need to share my thoughts with the world around me, so I thought I'd give this a whirl.  Some posts may be profound, but many probably won't be.  My love of irony and absurdist humor should ensure that.

Let's start things of with a quiz.  Anyone with even a casual knowledge of me knows that music is an important part of my life.  The name of the blog - "As the Radio Plays" - comes from what song by Bruce Springsteen?

The answer will come soon.