Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ya Win Some, Ya Lose Some...

Ok, I'm kind of glad that I didn't get anything written yesterday, because as I perused the email and news today, I came across this story.  108-3 GirlsBasketball Game Raises Questions.  People are complaining about such a wide margin of victory being unsportsmanlike and ugly.  That the winning team should have done something besides continue to score.  That something must be done so that when these two teams meet again (which they will as part of their schedule) such a blowout doesn't happen again.  I agree with that last one, something should be done.  The team who lost should be taking that score to each and every practice between now and that rematch and busting their butts to make sure they are not obliterated like that again.  There is at least one line coming out of the article that the school that lost is a school for underprivileged kids, and this blow to their self-esteem could be very damaging.  The coach and the school and the team should be using this teachable moment to create an opportunity to teach how to raise self-esteem by getting up when you're knocked down, learn from the past, and better one's self in the future.  Part of sportsmanship is learning how to lose, is it not, even learning how to lose big?

Somewhere along the road scattered with participant ribbons and unused score sheets, we have gotten the idea that kids shouldn't be subjected to being better or worse than each other.  What is missed in that mindset are the great lessons that should be learned by coming in last or ending the game with a 0 on the scoreboard.  Lessons like how to improve one's own game.  Lessons like maybe your talents don't match the game or position you're in.  Lessons like looking for what you did right and need to continue doing, and what you did wrong and need to fix.  Lessons that extend far off any ball field and far past any grade.  Instead, the lesson trying to be taught mostly by the writers and commentators on this particular story, since both schools say they have moved on from the subject already, is that it is better to just cut things off before the score gets that high, or for the team in front to pull back and not try so hard in the interest of not embarrassing their opponent.  The only thing anyone learns from that lesson is to depend on others around them to account for their own slack, which anyone living in the real world knows is not how anything works. 

Do we need to drop kids directly into situations and expect adult reactions from them?  Of course not.  But we also can't shelter them from losses, coming in last, or getting blown out the entirety of their childhood and magically know how to handle it as adults either. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Short blip, more tomorrow

It's times like these I wish I was a late night talk show host.  Those guys can spit out something totally random, look into the camera with a dumbfounded look, and move on.  Unfortunately, while random may work really well on the internet, the dumbfounded look just does not translate well.  So, I will get this blip up tonite, and promise to get some more up tomorrow to make up for it, ok?  Glad to hear you agree.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My (more timely) reaction to the Tuscon Shooting

Ten days ago, a lone man shot and killed six people and wounded thirteen others, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords.  Nine days and about twenty-three hours later, people were declaring that the attack was directly motivated by the horrific, hateful rhetoric coming from the conservative side of politics.  Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and the Tea Party were declared responsible for the attack, as though they themselves had pulled the trigger those multiple times.  As actual research, journalism, and investigation happened, it quickly came to light that the accused shooter (I love how even though he was dragged from the scene, legalism still demands he be referred to as accused) had a long history of bizarre behavior, rants against capitalism and public schools, video of him burning an American flag, and a reading list populated with Hitler and Marx.  Sounds like a serious right-winger, doesn't it?  But, the old saying goes, a lie gets around the world before the truth can get it's shoes on.  The right is still on the defensive from the accusations, while pulling out more and more examples of the left's more frequent and more blatant calls for violence and death against their political opponents.  Another old saying comes to mind, the best offense being a good defense. 

The whole thing has really showed how low people will sink.  Calls for gun control, hate speech laws, and more protection for lawmakers have all hit the legislative floors in these ten days since the horrific massacre.  Death threats against Sarah Palin shot up.  One of the injured was taken for a mental evaluation after shouting "You're dead" at a Tea Party leader.  Granted, I think that one was an outburst of stress and grief, and hope that it will lead the gentleman to get some help, but it still is an example of people's reaction to this tragedy. 

I personally am disgusted by anyone who used the shooting to further political goals, especially so quickly.  The bodies weren't even cold before accusations started flying.  It wasn't much longer before those bills in Congress started flying.  Look up and see if any of your representatives were those taking advantage of the opportunity, giggling like ghouls at a fat man's funeral at the possibility of getting pet projects passed.  Hopefully it upsets you enough to take action.  These types of opportunistic politicians are a major problem in our government right now.

Can we use this tragedy to study what drives people to such acts?  Absolutely.  Might that study and discussion lead to some adjustment of laws and attitudes?  Possibly.  Does time need to be given to mourn and heal first?  Common sense says yes. 

Prayers go out to all the victims and their families. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Windows or Linux faith?

Alright, I've been a bad blogger.  It's been a few weeks with no update.  I've got several good excuses, but I'll save them for a later date.  I will share one of the bad excuses though, since it is providing some inspiration.  This post is being typed on my latest project, a Debian Linux box.  If you don't know, Linux is that other operating system, as opposed to the ever present Windows.  It comes in numerous flavors, or distributions, most of which are available for free.  In addition to the great price, it will run (acceptibly well) on hardware that runs screaming if you approach it with a Windows XP installation disk. This salvage box has a 300mhz Celeran cpu and 300 some odd meg of ram.
So why does it have a small user base?  Because we have gotten used to the point and click automation of Windows.  Remember the last time you had to update your Flash player for your favorite Facebook game?  It took three or four clicks, correct?  I've been trying to get Flash on this thing for several days nows, trying various packeges and finding there seems to be a bit of a hiccup in the process.  It is frustrating, but entertaining and educational at the same time. 
I find some parallels between this and faith.  Much faith in today's society is similar to that auto-pilot, not reallly knowing what's going under the hood, point and click Windows experience.  Bible literacy is down in the Church, and poll after poll says that Americans identify themselves as Christian, yet those same polls show attitudes and beliefs on things like morality, origins, absolute truths are not in line with the name.  We think it is enough to show up at church on Sunday, know a few verses, and we'll get into Heaven.  But much the way that many modern web warriors have never seen the inside of their computer tower or laptop, much of the current Body has a limited knowledge of how the faith they profess works, because they haven't bothered to pop the hood.  
This silly Linux thing doesn't do very much unless I tell it exactly what to do.  In order to tell it what to do, I have to know all the right commands, file paths, and programs.  Christianity doesn't work (provide the peace that passes understanding, lead us on the path God intends for us, get us to Heaven) unless we really understand the right directions (that we are to follow) and attitudes (humility, serventhood).  For Linux, there are stacks and stacks of documentation, included with the system, written up, and in groups of fellow users.  For Christianity, there is our main user manual, the Bible, lots of other documentation of varying accuracy and usabiltiy, and fellowship with other believers to help us with our questions, our hard times and our good times.  Neither one is easy, for both there is no auto-pilot, but it's a much better trip when you have a better idea exactly what is going on.