Monday, August 22, 2016

The Basketball Coach

I was living in Oregon in March of 1998 when I heard about the middle school shootings in Arkansas. I felt hit by a bolt of lightning  when I heard the word "Jonesboro." My uncle was the Superintendent of the Westside Consolidated School District where the massacre happened, and I knew that he was just weeks away from retirement. What a horrid way for an illustrious career to come to a close. Sure enough, Uncle Grover made the national news, as he and the grief-stricken community tried to make sense of an absolutely senseless tragedy. All of his wins as a basketball coach, all of his years in front of classrooms, the decades spent at the head of several Arkansas school districts... none of that mattered. A lifetime of achievement in Arkansas schools, and it all came down to an awful, horrific tragedy.

Whatever celebration had been planned for Uncle Grover's retirement had been put aside as the community mourned and tried to heal from the loss of four young students and a 32-year-old teacher who was a dear friend of my uncle. In later years, I don't remember a single conversation with Uncle Grover that didn't turn back to this tragedy. Before that, he was best known as the uncle who always had a new joke. I've got an Inbox folder that's more than a decade old filled with "Uncle Grover Jokes" that he started sending out by email once he grasped the potential of technology to share his love of humor. Jokes by email all the time from Uncle Grover, but in person the conversation always recalled the tragedy.

Two months after the Jonesboro killings, my Uncle Grover attended a luncheon in honor of his retirment and his service to Arkansas schools. But even this well deserved event had to be marred by further tragedy. It was at this luncheon that he and the other attendees found out that there had been ANOTHER school shooting, this time in Oregon, where I was. There would be no escaping the tragedy that marked the end of his career, and every school shooting that followed took him back to the worst time of his life, a time that would never leave him.

Recently, over the past several months, my uncle and his sister-in-law started writing a book about his life. About a country boy who went to high school for one reason and one reason only: to play basketball. The tedium of going to school every day, that was the price he had to pay if he wanted to do what he really loved, and that was to play basketball. The book about his life will be a story about a basketball player who went on to become a teacher and a coach, who would lead his Hickory Ridge High School basketball team to the state championship. I know that's what he wanted to be remembered for, and he is remembered by thousands and thousands of former students and collegues for this and so much else.

The book is sure to be a good one. I can't wait until it is published. I can't wait to read it and find out all the things I didn't know about my Uncle Grover and will never get a chance to ask. Uncle Grover passed away last night, and all across the country and likely places around the world he is being rememberd today, not for the shootings in Jonesboro, but for his leadership and sense of humor and his devotion to his first love, basketball. Rest in peace, Coach Cooper.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Right Wing Unhinged Part One: Loving Putin

If you want to see a group of U.S. citizens willing to sacrifice every shred of human decency to see their candidate get elected, look no further than the right wing of the Republican party. There is no depth to which they will not stoop, no moral value they will not cast aside to win back what they often racistly call "The Brown House."  Case in point -- a Facebook post from someone on my "Friends" list that I'm about to take the unprecedented step of "unfriending" for political reasons.

In case those comments are hard to read, I've enlarged the pertinent show of support

Hmmm... where have I seen a group of mindless lemmings cheering and saluting a strong-armed leader who vowed to annihilate an entire religion/race of human beings?

Of course, loving Vladimir Putin is not a new concept for right-wingers. Many were initially suspicious of Putin's merits as a leader and a human being, what with him being a "Rooskie" and all, until their own sainted and Supreme Court-anointed leader George W. Bush assured them that Putin was a "godly" man in the Republican sense:

Right-wingers in the U.S. love and trust leaders who lie and lead their nation into murderous wars, so long as that leader has an (R) beside his or her name. This is Donald Trump's Amerikkka. Enter at your own risk, while you can, if you dare, because this is the future that Right Wing Republicans envision:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pie Chart for Abusers

Pie charts are easy to understand. Even a small child can conceptualize the data presented in this infographic:

Here is another of the world's most accurate pie charts. Wrap your mind around these figures:

Yes, that's right. One hundred percent of the time, violence in the home is caused by abusers and nothing else. Some people may have trouble understanding that, and if you are one of those people I feel very sorry for you and your family. Some people have no idea that there are whole households and quite possibly whole neighborhoods where the years go by and not a single person ever raises a hand against a family member in anger. It's true! There are many homes in which people rarely, if ever, even shout at their loved ones in anger. Ideally, that would be the norm.

Some people actually use their religion to justify committing acts of violence against their family members and others who trust them, but if one is a Christian then Jesus Christ Himself sets a pretty high standard when it comes to temper tantrums and abusive behavior in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 5:

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment..."

If you are being abused, I hope there is help for you. Here are some Google searches that might lead you to help in the area where you live:

Help for Battered Women
Help for Abused Children
Help for Battered Men - This is more common than many people realize. I know of a well-educated businessman who used to have to cover up and explain away bruises and other marks left as a result of his ex-wife hitting him with shoes and brushes and any object that could be thrown during her frequent temper fits.

If you are an abuser, please pardon the expression but, "Knock it off!" Quit hurting people! You have absolutely no one in the world to blame for your behavior other than yourself and possibly the person or people who taught you how to act that way. So stop the cycle of violence starting today. There may be help even for you

Help for Batterers

If any of this information applies to you, please find help. And if none of this applies to you, be very happy and please consider using your time and resources to help others who are trapped in these situations:

Help Victims of Domestic Violence

Monday, November 30, 2015

More to the Story

As is so often the case, there is more to the story than we were led to believe.

(Get well soon, my dear friend;  there are so many stories still to be told.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Religious Blackmail

It's against my religion and against any Abrahamic religion (Jewish, Christian, Muslim) to claim that God said something if He didn't actually say it, yet every single day well-meaning and kind-hearted Facebook friends challenge me to "prove my faith" by circulating ridiculous religious memes that do just that. In my religion, making up stories about Jesus isn't kosher either (ala "Footprints in the Sand"), but every day I am given the choice to either share something that will supposedly prove my love of the Lord or keep scrolling and "deny my Savior".

This is what I woke up to today, a picture that had been shared almost 375,000 times:

Yesterday, one of the first things I saw was an alleged wager between the Creator and his nemesis about whether or not I would share the picture:

They like to remind you that God's ability to monitor your Internet activity puts the NSA spying program to shame

and every day Jesus Daily gives you a chance find out who amongst your Facebook friends REALLY loves the Lord (and thinks he's a white guy)

Thankfully, there is an occasional push-back

If you didn't know already, I DO believe in God and I love Jesus with all my heart.  Beyond that I will not push my religious doctrines on you, and you wouldn't want me to.  I don't want to tempt you to judge me. Use your own due diligence and figure out what you believe, but if you share images such as these please stop guilt-tripping people into proclaiming their belief on Facebook via silly memes.  You'll only get your feelings hurt and question the salvation of your nearest and dearest, while making them feel guilty when they scroll instead of sharing because, as you learned above, 97% of Facebook users won't.