Posted by: wordofexcellence | December 27, 2012

As we end the year, I muse

I’m saddened this holiday season by what has taken place in my home state, Connecticut. Twenty-six lives taken…snatched away by a deranged (it appears) young man with a load of weaponry.

It’s not just a tragedy…it’s a travesty that this can take place in a civilized society – in a school – an elementary school, at that. Where is innocence most evident than in a school of kindergarten through fourth or fifth grade?

I’m sick of reading about this horrible crime. I want to scream, yet I know it’s far more important to be silent, to grieve in my own way (our own ways) for the children and their mentors who have gone on to Glory. Yes, I do believe that’s where they dwell now, having arrived earlier than the rest of us.

Every December – about this time of the month – we are reminded of all the deaths of the famous. Tributes are written, tears are shed and then we all move on.

This December, in this year of 2012, the names I want to remember fondly are these: Ana Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Charlotte Bacon, Olivia Engel, Caroline Previdi, Benjamin Wheeler, Noah Pozner, Allison Wyatt, Avielle Richman, Jessica Rekos, James Mattioli, Madeleine Hsu, Jack Pinto,  Catherine Hubbard, Jesse Lewis…each one 6 years of age. Daniel Barden, Josephine Gay, Chase Kowalski, Grace McDonnell, Chase Kowalski…each of these 7 years of age.

My son, Caleb, is 7. My grandson, Colin, is 7.

The adults – Dawn Hochsprung, 47; Victoria Soto, 27; Mary Sherlach, 56; Anne Marie Murphy, 52; Lauren Rousseau, 30; Rachel Davino, 29;  Nancy Lanza, 52 – these are young people.

Yes, we lost a lot of our old favorites this year, too. And guess what – you’ll be able to read about them in USA Today, the New York Times, and news media all across the country. You’ll remember their exploits, their impact on your own lives (mine, too).

What these 20 children can never leave behind them is the impact that their adulthood would have had on our society. They can never forge ahead with inventions, with new music or colossal numbers of home runs. We will miss them, whether we knew them or not. We will mourn, despite their being strangers in our midst. We will celebrate the lives they led, though those lives were short.

Now do I love my son any more than I did a couple of weeks ago? No, I do not. I continue to be astounded by him, and I love him dearly just as I did before he burst forth from his mother’s womb.

As a finale to this somewhat morbid message, I wish to pass along what I found on the counter earlier this evening. Caleb was encouraged by his teacher to write about Christmas, and he followed through. What follows here is straight from his heart, and it brought a tear to my eye (as he is usually capable of doing).

Please enjoy the mastery of my darling son:

“The best thing about Christmas is when you get presents and spend time with your family. The best thing is when you get books so you can learn, read and spell more words. I love Christmas very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very ,very much. Do you? Because if you don’t love or like Christmas you don’t like Jesus. But I love Jesus. Do you? I thought so.”

I know that I show my pride quite clearly. But I’m so abundantly blessed to have a child such as this, one who understands and recognizes the good things in life, and who appreciates these things as well as as his family and friends.

All I can end up with here is to say “thank you” and tip my hat to my darling boy, Caleb.

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Posted by: wordofexcellence | September 19, 2012

Blaming the Poor – Does Romney have an iota of sense?

Mitt Romney – I never have known a person named Mitt. That’s undoubtedly a favorable aspect of my life. I don’t’ particularly care for Mitt Romney. He’s a decent looking guy, and he has a decent looking wife, and he has an awfully decent life. Some of the rest of us (MOST of the rest of us) have a far less sterling existence than Romney. Was he born with a silver spoon in his mouth? I don’t know that, but his daddy was pretty well-to-do, wasn’t he?

I found a quotation from Norman Mailer today. Mailer, the extraordinary writer of fiction and non-fiction tomes, such as “The Executioner’s Song,” a marvelous story about Gary Gilmore, who pleaded for his own execution; “The Naked and The Dead,” “The Armies of the Night,” and myriad others, was an astute and often boisterous voice of the people.  I admired him not only for his excellent writing skills, but also for his willingness to go out on a limb for the causes he supported.

To wit, the quote: “To blame the poor for subsisting on welfare has no justice unless we are also willing to judge every rich member of society by how productive he or she is. Taken individual by individual, it is likely that there’s more idleness and abuse of government favors among the economically privileged than among the ranks of the disadvantaged.” -Norman Mailer, author (1923-2007).

Didn’t our 2012 Republican presidential nominee – one Mr. Mitt Romney – just finish telling us that 47% of our national population is essentially living off the largesse of the rest of the nation, openly dependent on the downtrodden rich folk who provide their welfare. It’s long been a Republican tenet that we live in what is essentially a welfare state.

If you’re poor, non-white, disenfranchised, destitute, perhaps ill to the point of inability to work, then Romney and his minions have no shame in calling you a leech on the system. If your only income is from Social Security, well then you’d better watch out, and it’s not because Santa Claus is coming to town. The Republicans in Congress (ought to be spelled with a small ‘c’ for what benefit they bring to us) would reduce what marginal income you have at this time.

Do the poor pay a nominal amount of income tax, as Romney is wont to claim?  Of course they do – how are they to pay a large amount given their minimal income?

What I find exceedingly hypocritical in Romney’s stance is that he’s apparently terrified at the thought of releasing his own tax returns beyond the two years’ worth that he has so far proferred.  With the same mouth that proclaims he has the right not to disclose, he damns the folk in our nation who rely on assistance to merely live, let along get by.

I was a more fervent Barack Obama backer four years ago. That’s not to say that I don’t think he’s done a reasonably decent job as President; just recognition that our country seems to have stagnated and that he’s made his fair share of mistakes in that leadership role. I find congress (there’s your lower-case c) to have been guilty of back-biting along with inconsiderate war-waging against the American citizenry.

It’s an old story, but it never ends that defense spending (and more and more war) is happily pushed forward while services that benefit (wait for it…) every citizen get pushed to the back of the line.

I don’t blame Connecticut’s Republican candidates for turning their back on Romney. How else do they stand any chance of election? I’d have to guess that more and more Americans – be they among the 47% or among the 1% – are about to turn their back on Romney.

I won’t count myself among that group – I was in the Obama camp a long time ago.

Posted by: wordofexcellence | June 19, 2012

Superstitions

People say your desires are impractical.

Diversify, choose the best.

Rewrite, rebuild.

Good news: what has been rejected could now be accepted.

Be ready for sudden changes.

Make intelligent concession.

Music plays; dance to your own tune.

Well-meaning people tell different stories.

Follow your own intuition.

Focus on priorities, organization, added responsibility.

Steer clear of relationships in which you are taken for granted.

Imprint your own style; don’t follow others.

Keep resolutions concerning general health, diet.

Be aware of fashion trends.

Avoid depression; meditate instead.

Weather the storm. Tomorrow is another day.

Judge yourself today, by more reasonable standards…and smile.

Relax. All will be fine.

As long as you keep moving, soon you’ll be in the future.

Make up your mind about you-know-what; and don’t change it for a while.

You can’t roll over and go back to sleep. It’s not an option today.

If you need an explanation for something that occurs at work, be sure to ask someone who you’re sure knows the answer.

Here’s a clue: something that was effective before will work again.

Practice new skills before you have to use them.

Make a balance between delegating work and doing the job on your own.

Make an effort to think.

Steer clear of hypersensitive folks.

Take three deep breaths and think deep thoughts.

Positive deeds bring you the positive benefits and advantages that you desire.

Distinguish between fact and fantasy.

You can enjoy good times with “good people.”

If you know what people want it is time to give it to them.

Posted by: wordofexcellence | June 11, 2012

Murder Most Foul

“My Hartford News” on www.courant.com at9:52 pm on a Monday evening, June the eleventh reflects the following as what would seem to be the major headlines.

 1 – “Acme United Acquires Bloomfield’s C-Thru Ruler”

2 – “Hartford Man Charged with trying to run down officer”

3 – “Supreme Court – Slain Witness Statement Admissable”

4 – “ MichaelBoltonto perform charity concert”

5 – “Two dead after weekend shootings inHartford”

6 – “No foul play suspected in baby’s death”

 Pardon me if I’m disgusted by the impact of these stories and the chronological order in which they are placed.

 Two young men died over the weekend. One was 24, the father of two small children. Those babies will never see their dad again. Not only is this tragic, it’s heinous. It is unforgivable (God, please decide this). It is astounding. The other young person shot and killed in Hartford this weekend was 16 years old.

 I may be a fool, but 16 is way too young to be shot to death. I don’t care what the rationale was. Did I say “rationale”?  How dare I say that! No rationality exists in the shooting of another person.

Let’s be real for a minute.

 Is there any age at which it’s appropriate to be shot dead?

 I happen to think that there is no such age. A high school kid shot dead – yeah, it was early in the morning, and you could make the case that he ought not to be out on the streets at that time of day – is it at all reasonable?

 Have we become a nation of people who look the other way when someone is shot to death? Do the police (my son’s a cop, so I know it’s not easy) take the attitude that it’s imperative to stop crime instead of solve it?

 Community activists (what a cute way to describe them!) claim that the police simply don’t give a damn. So many of the officers are white and so many of the victims are black; that makes it easy to say that they don’t care. I doubt that there’s that sort of disconnect between the police and the public, but in Hartford, the preponderance of deaths from gunfire is limited to one or two areas of the city. You don’t hear about shootings at the major hotels downtown, or on theWest End, where plenty of the elite live.

 It just so happens that a good friend of mine lost her cousin the other night to a shooting. I pray for her, just as I pray for the lives of those who reside in these “mean streets.” But hey, the first killing on the weekend was within a block or so of the hospital. It’s a neighborhood that I’ve traversed over the years, without fear. Yeah, okay, it was after midnight; but I defy any of you readers to tell me that you’ve never been out after midnight.

 Does the mere fact that someone is out late make him a bad guy, or a victim who “should have been home asleep”? Is it an outrage that a 16 year old high school kid was in one of those neighborhoods after midnight?

 Quite frankly, I don’t know the answers to those questions. I do know, however, that there must be a concerted effort to change the streets of Hartford…to eliminate the guns, to eliminate the gangs that prevail, to eliminate the ennui that settles among the neighborhoods, to eliminate the discouragement that is derived from unemployment.

The city has made strides. There used to be more killings per capita, but they’ve been decreased in the last year or so. Whoopee!  Does that make these recent killings any easier to swallow?

In 1996, I moved to Hartford. My son (the cop) told me “you’re gonna get killed.” I poo-poohed the idea, although I recognized that the barriers set up in the streets surrounding my neighborhood represented a severe drug problem in Hartford. I was blessed to live in a nice, comfortable South End neighborhood that didn’t really experience much crime. I left there in 2004 for the suburbs, not because of fear but more for circumstances. I enjoyed my years living there…I didn’t see much crime, and I didn’t have any real issues there.

The bottom line? My son was wrong –  not only did I survive, but I actually enjoyed my stay in Hartford. Would I do it again in 2012? That may well be a question for the ages, as I no longer have much enthusiasm about the city and its issues.

I pray that the people of Hartford will find, at last, peace on the streets and in their households. I don’t doubt that the mayor and the police chief want solutions to the violence we’ve seen.

Unfortunately, I also don’t have a solution. I have a prayer though, and I’ll use that wisely.

Posted by: wordofexcellence | June 8, 2012

The Lament of the Unemployed

Briefly, without succor, a person lacking a job can drift off into a plague of weariness and sloth. It is that rare one who might look at all the advantages of the leisure lifestyle, determined to live life within the very moment.

Herewith, a glance into the mind of such a wastrel:

I am sick and tired of being out of work; it’s not enjoyable – although it does have its moments. I am able to leisurely stroll through the internet and find things to read, to consider, to contemplate, to write, to think about…

I can be frivolous and carefree, flippant and foolish, artistic and erudite, wanton and angst-ridden, avaristic and despoiled, sexy yet unapproachable, willing but unable, worried and confused, delighted and determined, curious but secretive, out yet closeted, closeted yet out, dependent and needy, independent and secure, humorous, puzzling, informative, sarcastic, worried, loving, engaging, kind, mean, nasty, ugly, natty, ragged, gluttonous, engorged, unbelieving, stunned and stunning all at once, nonplused and forgotten, downtrodden and desperate, enthusiastic and at the ready, deluged and overwrought, forgotten while available and, finally, utterly woebegone.
Take heed that you not fall into the depths, should you find yourself in an untenable position.

 

 

Posted by: wordofexcellence | June 5, 2012

Spelling, Death, Abuse – Some Reflection

I have lots of things to discuss. I picked up USA Today for May 31 and find that people can’t spell. I’m shocked! I see, slightly above that story, that Jerry Sandusky, the now-infamous former coach at Penn State, is about to go to trial on the allegations of his sexual abuse of children. I peek at page 3, which has a story virtually equivalent to the Trayvon Martin story from Florida. This one is from Phoenix, Arizona, where a young Hispanic man was shot and killed by  a young Black man. Once again, we see the “stand your ground” law protecting the shooter.

So where do I begin? Do I discuss the misspelling of words (or is it “miss spelling uf wurds”?). Mind you, the National Spelling Bee is about to crown a champion, so of course the newspaper’s powers that be had to create a new word for the occasion, calling the contestants “spellebrities.”  Shall I expound on the mistreatment of children, who in their innocence take the kindness of a “fatherly” football coach for granted and then suffer in silence and shame as they are defiled? Or maybe we need to begin with the ridiculousness of a law that prevents police from investigating a shooting to deduce what action to take.

I’m kind of tired of foolishness myself.

 So guess what! I’m beginning with the way people conduct themselves on the roads of this great nation. While wending my way home this afternoon after a brief excursion, I found a red light in front of me, at which I stopped. The line of demarcation beyond which I could not tread was at least 8 to 10 feet in front of me, providing those who might be turning in the opposite lane from in front of me a plentiful amount of room to do so.

 To my chagrin, what I experienced instead was a visibly disgruntled driver who, as he passed by, frowned deeply at me, as if I’d taken up precious space that prevented him from driving through my lane on his way to the proper driving lane.

 My query?  What’s up with that? I was taught (and I still remember!) that when I was turning past a stopped car that I had to be ultra-cautious so as not to cause any damage. Of course, I was also taught that you didn’t make nasty faces at other drivers who were well within their proper lanes. But hey, it’s 2012 now, and things are not what they used to be. I guess I ought to be overjoyed that the driver wasn’t chatting or texting on his hand-held device (oh yeah…phone).  Hey, at least he didn’t hit me!

 Then I begin to enter the highway, and instead of granting me some space to enter, the lady driving the minivan slows down in the entry lane, causing me to brake (not to mention the six or seven people behind me, for whom I had obviously been driving too slowly. Oh yeah…it was a sharp curve with a speed limit of 40 and I admit to having been driving at 50. Now why I had to go so slowly is something that even I can’t decipher.

 But (apparently) I digress. The big 3! Yeah, that’s right – the big three stories from USA Today weighed heavy on my mind and I have to deal with those things now.

 Penn State football has long been one of the nation’s most admired college sports programs. “Joe Pa,” as Joe Paterno was widely known, ran what was considered to be a clean program. That connotation stands for no cheating, good education, conservatism (plain white or blue uniforms, for example), a consistency of excellence in winning and attaining a bowl game invitation, and so much more.

 One of his most trusted assistants was Jerry Sandusky. For those of us old enough to have paid attention to college football over the last 40 or so years, the Sandusky name kind of stands out. Jerry wasn’t the only one wearing the surname, and he probably wasn’t the best of the lot, either. But he was a well-known coach until he retired in 1999, and he was quite the philanthropist, having begun the Second Mile program in 1977. The program was intended for “children who need additional support and who would benefit from positive human contact.”

 I don’t happen to believe that “positive human contact” includes taking showers with a man at least twenty years their senior. Yet that’s likely the most benign of the accusations against Sandusky. The trial begins today, June 5. There will apparently be a lack of anonymity for the victims of the heinous acts that he’s been accused of committing.

 I am a firm believer in the justice system of these United States. Here, a person accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. When Bernie Fine, the now-former Assistant Coach at Syracuse University, was accused of similar crimes last fall following the Sandusky revelations, I was, frankly, less apt to believe them than I was to believe the allegations made against Sandusky. I attended Syracuse University, and my loyalty to the school is pretty well-known among those who know me.

 Was I somewhat prejudicial in thinking that Fine was innocent while Sandusky was likely guilty?  I admit to feeling more closely aligned to Fine, and to believe in his innocence than I was to believe in Sandusky. I think that makes me somewhat typical in this nation – we stand by the credo of innocent until proven guilty, but we don’t necessarily live the credo.

 I have no idea what the outcome of this case will be. The allegations are quite ugly, and I have noticed a seeming increase in the number of headlines concerning such child abuse since last fall. I simply hope that whatever the results of the court case may be, they’ll be right, and that justice will be served.

 Now: spelling. I am a very good speller, and I’ve always been at the top of that heap, since first or second grade when we’d have our spelling bees in the classroom. It would seem that the newly-crowned Republican candidate for President, Mitt Romney, could have used someone with better eyesight and spelling ability when his campaign called for “A better Amercia.”

 Yeah, I know it was a typographical error. That’s the standard excuse for faulty spelling in our newspapers, in our magazines, in our advertisements, and elsewhere. “Excuse?” you say! Yes, it is merely that – an excuse – because there is a sloth in this country and a protracted learning disability among our people because we would rather say, “U R welcome” rather than the quite correct “You are welcome.”  It’s exasperating, it’s enervating and it’s a shame that we all try to get away with it.

Why, even writers (or those who claim to be writers) will tell us that the mistakes they make “are just typos, after all. It’s not like we don’t know how to spell.”  So that being the case, why are there so many errors? 

Am I grumpy about this assault on the English language?  Yes, I guess you could say that; I’ll politely disagree and shake my head at the simplest of words being misspelled. I suppose I can take heart in the fact that the Scripps National Spelling Bee is still going strong (we’ve had 85 of them now, with no apparent end in sight). Children between the ages of 6 and 15 are capable of deciphering some of the most difficult words. One, a 6-year-old, apparently had no problem with spelling the word “dirigible.” That’s an alien word in our culture, since we haven’t seen one of those vessels in many years. For a second-grader to grasp it is beyond the recognition of most of us. Quite an accomplishment, I’d say.

On to Arizona (the land of Crazy Laws) and all the other states that have this phony law called “Stand your ground” – this is, in my opinion, one of the most egregious laws enacted in our country’s history. In the case I cited above, the young man who ended up shot to death was mentally disabled, and he was out for his usual evening walk with the family’s Labrador, named Lady.

Apparently, the shooter in this case was the driver of a vehicle that almost bumped the young man, who in turn shouted something at the driver. Now here is where the story really gets hairy in my opinion. In the vehicle was his pregnant girlfriend, and the driver maintained that he feared for their lives.

Because he feared for their lives, he pulled out his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and shot the pedestrian, who died with his dog’s leash still in his right hand.

Now wouldn’t you think the police could have, at the least, taken the shooter into custody and questioned him at length concerning the death of the pedestrian?  Yeah, you might think so.

Unfortunately (perhaps so for all of us), stand-your-ground laws prevent law enforcement officials from arresting a shooter,  or questioning him about the situation. As long as “I was in fear of my life” is the justification for the use of deadly force, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of a lot more of these shootings.

This is our society in the middle of the year 2012. I’m not as comfortable with it as I used to be. And you won’t find me shouting at looney-tunes drivers when they come to close to my hindquarters as I walk down the street – they might just be packing!

Posted by: wordofexcellence | May 18, 2012

Why Don’t We Protect Ourselves? (A crime story)

I read the news today, O Boy!

Apparently, as The Beatles sang, I was reading about a lucky man. This one didn’t make the grade, however.

 In the Police Briefs (no, not photos of scantily clad cops!) section of the newspaper today, I spied an article headlined “Police Arrest Arson Suspect,” with the subtitle of “[person’s name] Investigated For Fires At Girlfriend’s Apartment.”

 I won’t provide the person’s name because, as we all know from having watched Hawaii 5-0 and Dragnet as kids, a person is innocent until proven guilty. We’ll simply call him Mister X for now.

 The gist of the matter is that the final paragraph of the story reads as follows:  “The woman had obtained a protective order against Mr. X in the earlier case,” according to the police spokesperson. “It was not a full protective order, but ordered Mr. X not to abuse, harass, threaten or stalk the woman, according to the warrant.”

 In other words – BE A GOOD BOY, OKAY?

 Now the newpaper article, which consists of 11 paragraphs, did not disclose this information until paragraph 11. What we did find out is that he was a “person of interest” in the investigation of several fires that were set in an apartment where the girlfriend lived.   He has now been charged with the following: first-degree arson, first-degree reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, criminal violation of a protective order and “other charges.”

 Police claim that he was angry that she was going out the other night with friends. When she got home later, they argued in the parking lot and she ran to her car and locked the doors. That resulted in his calling her a “slut” and “whore,” and he attempted to rip off the sunroof to gain access to her in the car. The only reason he stopped, they claim, is that she threatened to call police, holding up her cellphone to show she meant business.

 Later, firefighters responded to a call and found heavy smoke on the second floor, and determined that several fires had been set. The apartment was declared uninhabitable.

 The moral of the story?  I guess it’s that when you are approached by your “boyfriend” (against whom you have a protective order for yourself in place), who then screams at you, calling you a slut and a whore, perhaps that’s the time you ought to call the police.

 My jaw dropped when I read about the order in the final paragraph. What might have been seen as a first-time issue after reading the first ten paragraphs was clearly something that had been on the back burner for some time now.

 Oh by the way, he still had a key to the apartment – apparently that’s not covered in the protective order.

It would seem that jail time is in order for Mr. X in this situation, even if the only crime he is convicted of committing would be the violation of the protective order.

 Ladies and Gentlemen, when you are the love object of a potentially violent person, against whom you must protect yourself legally at some point, I think it wise to sever all contact with that person. And that would include, we all hope, the reclaiming of the key to the apartment.

Posted by: wordofexcellence | March 26, 2012

And the conservatives weigh in on Trayvon’s killing

How can I let Michelle Malkin comment on this tragedy without reacting?

There used to be a conservative grouping and a liberal grouping in America, and the rhetoric used to go back and forth, without much harm to anyone save a few hurt feelings.

Now we see diatribes day upon day, particularly coming from Fox “news” and the likes of Ms. Malkin and oh-so-many more, beating as hard as they are able on Barack Obama, anyone else who might resemble a Democrat, this young teenager whose death has startled us all.

To quote Ms. Malkin, the President “weighed in” on the tragedy. She repeats his comments and goes on to make the following comment: “What do Trayvon’s race and looks have to do with anything? The political opportunism undercuts the very “seriousness” Obama purports to display.

Something stinks in her column. Hello? What does his “race and looks have to do with anything?” Well, how about at least 95 per cent of the reason George Zimmerman tracked him down and called 911 and had a gun in his hand and attacked him and killed him…that’s what his race and looks have to do with!

Now maybe Ms. Malkin is only trying to beat the drum about Obama’s delayed response to the situation – after all, he’s an easy target, as is any sitting President. But to express it in the terms that she uses – I am struck dumb to think of how ridiculous these new “conservatives” are.

A couple of weeks ago, we have Limbaugh calling a woman a slut on his national radio outlet, only to backed up by the O’Reillys and Malkins of the world. Now (and again and again) we have President Obama questioned about his thoughts as to what his own son would look like if he existed – just like Trayvon Martin – and he weighed in on the Florida tragedy in an appropriate manner.

I wish, for one, that I could make the Malkins, the O’Reillys and the Limbaughs of this world retreat (at worst) and go away (at best), but I suppose we have to live with their nastiness for a while longer. Their party of choice is inept and unable to come up with a presidential candidate who inspires any faith or hope in the American public, so it looks like they’ll have another 4 years to whine and complain about Obama and his supposed “illegal” existence, and to rail about all the injustices brought upon them when another innocent boy of color is killed by a neighborhood watch leader – all in the name of protecting their poor little, lily-white havens.

I’m not astounded by their criticisms – simply disappointed they they can’t get it in America in 2012.

Posted by: wordofexcellence | March 26, 2012

Murder Most Foul (The Trayvon Martin killing)

Any time a person’s life is taken by another, it is tragic. When there are laws established within our country’s boundaries that allow a person to take another’s life simply because of a claim that “I felt threatened…I feared for my life…he was acting very suspiciously” or a myriad of other plaints, then there is something tragically (yes, there’s that word again) wrong with how you rule ourselves in this society.

I am perplexed, saddened, at a loss to understand, frustrated, annoyed and aghast at the ease with which George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was able to track down, shoot and kill Trayvon Martin for the crime of walking through that particular neighborhood with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea.

Florida (along with a number of other states) enacted a law that allows any person, in any location, to use deadly force against another person if they believe that their safety or their life is in danger. It’s called the “Stand Your Ground” law, and since its enactment in 2005, justifiable homicide claims have tripled in the state.

 I’d like to offer the opinion that there can be no “justifiable” homicide. The definition of “homicide,” according to Webster’s, is, quite simply, “the killing of one human being by another.” Of course, we who read a bible can see that “thou shalt not kill” is one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus Christ told us that we are to “love one another.”  These latter two precepts are a far cry from homicide.

 It’s become pretty apparent that Zimmerman had suspicions about virtually everyone who traversed his neighborhood. It has been reported that he had called police on 46 different occasions since January of this year to report “suspicious activity” in his neighborhood. It sure seems to me that his fervor in reporting was based on an intemperate mind of his own. Neighbors of his had reported that he had a fixation on crime and that his focus was on black males.

 Even the details of the 911 call show that the man was of one mind as he chased the teenager. He is said to have told the dispatcher, “this guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something.” He noted that he was armed with his gun and was following  Trayvon. The dispatcher warned him against doing so, but Zimmerman didn’t listen.

 Confronting the young man, he shot him dead, and then claimed self-defense. No charges have been brought. And now we learn that he once again “fears for his safety after receiving death threats.” He has gone into hiding, which is no surprise, and he is said to be “extremely upset” and “remorseful about” having shot and killed his victim.

 The law that allowed Zimmerman to hunt down, confront, and then shoot and kill his victim is heinous. The act of murder is heinous, and for a person to be able to claim self-defense and be allowed to walk away freely without investigation is a travesty.

 Zimmerman has apparently received death threats and is currently in hiding. Unfortunately, the best place he could find himself at this time is a jail cell, which is where most shooters would be; other than the fact that the killing of a black person is not yet considered a problem in far too many locations.

 Every time we think we’ve moved past a particular form of racist behavior in this otherwise wonderful country, it seems we somehow take a step or two backward.

 Justice is required in this case and countless others. The repeal of the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida and elsewhere is essential. How fitting that the killing despoiled the month of February, noted for being Black History Month.

 

Posted by: wordofexcellence | March 21, 2012

How Do I Become An Excellent Shooter?

What follows is a treatise on shooting a basketball, something I am quite familiar with and expert at. I’ve made a  name for myself (at least in groups that I play ball with) as a very good three-point shooter. The reputation…and, yes, I’ve earned it…as well as the execution gave me reason to write what you will find below. This is but a preview of the entire piece, which I consider a bit too long to post here. It is worth reading in its entirety. Whether you play basketball or not, you can benefit from this – pass it along to someone who can learn from it or use it yourself, but don’t just ignore it.  Here you go…

 

The query: How do I become an excellent shooter?  I’ve been shooting a basketball since I was a child, beginning at the age of five or six.  In all those years, I have never achieved as I’d like to.  I have watched videos, gone to basketball camps held by all sorts of coaches and instructors, yet never seem to make anywhere near one-third of my shots, no matter where I locate myself on the basketball floor.

What am I to do?  Is there a system, a method that I’ve overlooked throughout the years?

 

Lo and behold, there is an answer!  Clearly, one of the most important things any player can do to get to a point of excellence is to “practice, practice, practice.”  Haven’t we all heard that throughout our playing days?  But here’s the big question – what if your skill set is lacking – what then are you practicing?  Perhaps it’s the wrong set of repetitions or exercises.  If that’s the case, your skill level will not increase, as you’re actually practicing the old things that haven’t worked for so long anyway.

There’s no accompanying video here to guide anyone, but by following the steps herein, there’s no question that one can become a much better shooter in a reasonable period of time.  Reasonable…is that a week, two?  Of course not; after all, preparing oneself for excellence can take many years in some areas of life.  Here we aren’t speaking of years, of course, but perhaps a few months of steady effort and desire will bring that degree of excellence you’re looking for.

When I began this treatise, I brainstormed a bit to see what tidbits were the most important.  Initially, I came up with 5 specific things that would contribute to excellence, and these were the principles that one would need to follow. 

BEND…EXTEND…ELEVATE…FOLLOW THROUGH………AKA “BEEF”

But, oh, there’s so much more!

While I pondered, weak and weary (yes I am a long-time Poe fan), I realized that being a good shooter – nay, a very good shooter, will require far more than five elements to put into place.  By the time it was necessary to sit down at the keyboard and bang out “what it takes” I’d written enough notes as to be into the teens in describing the elements of a good shooter.

In short, these are, alphabetically, attitude, balance, conceit, concentration, confidence, consistency, desire, eyes, follow-through, hands, repetition, self-recognition, stance, tools, visualization.

This is no magic formula.  Instead, it is a guide by which one can perfect his or her skills, enjoy the game of basketball more now and in the future.  There’s no reason why an able-bodied individual can’t continue to enjoy the greatest game for years and continue to shoot well into the elder years.

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