Thursday, October 14, 2010

Medically, it's called an Addadicktome.

Some say that the popularity of social networking web sites like Twitter and Facebook is due to the idea that we all want to feel as though we belong to something. Well, maybe I'm the one who says that, but I take liberties with the idea that perhaps more than one of us has the same thought every now and then.
Anyway, I think the crux of the matter is that we don't like to feel as though we are alone in the world. Hence the popularity of those so-called "reality shows," where so-called "regular people" partake in contests and other forms of entertainment and are either judged by famous people or kicked off the show because they end up being very annoying. Either way, there are a lot of them, and it's primarily because there are a lot of people who don't like feeling ordinary, and being a part of something with national exposure makes them feel a little less ordinary - for a while anyway.
Then, there are the pure thrill-seekers. Those who are ordinary and decide to foist themselves on society by pretending to be something they're not. Such as those people who sue an organization to become a member of something for which their membership has been denied - like girls wanting to be boy scouts or a woman who wants to join a men's club. It seems as though it's always women wanting to join something that is exclusively for men, and almost never men wanting to join a women's organization. Until now:

A transgender golfer is challenging the LPGA's "female at birth" rule, claiming that it unfairly infringes upon her civil rights.

First, the background: Lana Lawless is the plaintiff. Five years ago, Lawless underwent a sex change operation. Two years ago, she won a 2008 women's long-drive competition with a tee shot of 254 yards. But now, she's run up against the LPGA -- which, surprisingly enough, had a "female at birth" rule already on the books -- and she's finding it difficult to make headway.

They always take the civil rights defense, even though it isn't specifically a civil rights issue. It's a man who thinks he is a woman merely because he had a so-called "sex change operation." Those of us with a brain know that it is impossible to change ones sex. You can have a medical procedure to help you grow a penis and take hormones to help you grow breasts, but unless you have a uterus, menstruate and give birth - guess what - you're a man, baby.

As a result, Lawless has filed suit in San Francisco federal court with the intention of barring the LPGA from holding tournaments in California until it changes its policy banning transgender players. Also named in the suit are three LPGA sponsors and the Long Drivers of America, which sponsored the '08 contest she won. This year, the company changed its rules on transgender players to match those of the LPGA.

"I am, in all respects, legally and physically female," Lawless said in a statement Wednesday. "The state of California recognizes me as such and the LPGA should not be permitted to come into California and blatantly violate my rights. I just want to have the same opportunity to play professional golf as any other woman."

You may be legally female, but you're not physically female, fella. So go ahead and sue the LPGA. The big L stands for Ladies, and you ain't one.

Besides, Phil Mickleson has bigger boobs than you, and he plays on the men's tour.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The longer they live, the more they lose.

It sucks getting old. Just ask anyone who depends on Social Security payments to fund their life. For the second straight year recipients will not be getting a cost of living increase because, according to our federal government, the cost of living hasn't increased in two years. As a little exercise, go back to your checkbook or receipts from two years ago and tell me that things aren't more expensive now than they were two years ago. Take as much time as you need.
The average benefit is $1,072 per month. Try doing that for a year and let me know how you make out. I'm sure that the idea of giving cost of living increases to Social Security recipients (called COLA) sounded like a good idea when they instituted the plan in 1975. Next year would be only the second year that there has not been an increase. The first one was last year. Things like that always sound like a good idea when the numbers work. When the numbers stop working (as they always do) good ideas are suddenly horrible mistakes.
Perhaps it's the way the COLA is calculated that is the problem? Most of the stories I read include the price of gasoline in the calculation, which has decreased since its peak in 2009. Other things, like utilities, cable, sales taxes and property taxes have continued to increase. The odd thing is that the number of senior citizens who drive is probably less than the number who pay property taxes or have cable TV, so why is the price of gasoline figured into this number? Many of them are confined to their homes or dependent on public transportation - whose cost has also increased - so why can't we figure out the things that seniors use and base the COLA on that? Things like medical care, prescription drugs, heat and air conditioning.
It's too simple, and probably would actually help them, and God forbid we do that. Especially since the people making the rules are never going to depend on Social Security for their income after their lucrative political careers are over.
Which, if this sort of thing is any gauge, will be sooner rather than later.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The times they are a-changing.

"You'd better start swimming, or you'll sink like a stone."
- Bob Dylan, "The Times They Are a-Changin'"
I grew up in the 1960s, and as a result of my childhood, I believe that television should be free. However, the prevailing notion is that we pay for TV now, and have since the late 1990s. My cable bill used to be $9.95 a month, and for that princely sum I got a push-button box with a lot of the same channels that I got for free, plus something called PRISM that carried Phillies, Sixers and Flyers games - commercial-free.
Fast-forward to 2010, and I have invested in a high-definition television and pay $120 a month for cable TV, but I derive much more pleasure from it than I did when I paid ten bucks a month. It's strange how time changes our viewpoint.
One of the many things I enjoy about the expense is something called NFL Red Zone, which in some ways defies description. Forced to describe it, I would tell you that it shows every score of every NFL game every Sunday. It is expertly hosted by Scott Hanson, who doesn't seem the least bit phased by the onslaught of as many as 10 different games going on at once, and somehow holds the thing together. He and the gang take us seamlessly from one game to the next, sometimes with 4 screens at once (the famous quadruple box) and we somehow get to see every time a team scores. It's the magic of television.
The pre-show video starts with music that makes one think that "Ben Hur" is starting, or some head of state is prepared to walk in. Each crescendo moves onto the next, until the fateful moment of "NFL Red Zone will begin in 0:00" comes, just as the start of the games come. Then, a robotic set of video screens ensues and we are prepared for an onslaught of football unlike any that preceded it. (hyped enough for ya?)
When there are days like today, when the Eagles and Phillies are on at night, the NFL schedule blends together into a mish-mash of games that seem like one big game, since I don't bet on them. I do, however, have a fantasy team (that is presently 4-0) and it's important to me to know what's going on from one minute to the next, even though it's impossible for me to do anything about it. That's the beauty of the Red Zone channel.
It was a stroke of genius (if genius is defined by decisions on TV) to have cable compete with the dish and those people who subscribe to the NFL package so that they can see meaningless moments of games they care about. Why not show meaningful moments of games that everybody cares about? That's where the genius come in.
Oh - did I mention that there are no commercials? Just when you think you can get up and take a whiz or grab another beer, you're whisked away to yet another game-breaking situation and you are forced to remain seated. It's a nice form of torture. Meanwhile, the guys at Fox or CBS think they are showing you a "game break" when the rest of us saw it five minutes ago. They aren't watching NFL Red Zone.
One of my fantasy-life goals is to someday own a sports bar. With the increased scrutiny of alcohol and its effects on driving, I'm not sure that is a worthwhile goal. However, if I did happen to own one, I can't see the point in tuning into a particular game at the exclusion of others when there is a channel that shows us every game and every score. I'd call it the Fantasy Sports Bar, since you could follow all your fantasy football players at once, just by watching the Red Zone channel.
Suffice it to say, if you are a fan of the NFL and aren't paying for this thing, you're missing out on something very cool.
They break-in on the network's coverage so it doesn't matter if your favorite team's game isn't being broadcast. It's on the Red Zone channel. Yes, it does add to the already-costly cable bill, but some things are worth paying for. Since I already have several shopping channels and a few Spanish-language channels built into my cable bill, it's nice to pay for something that I can actually use.
What a concept.