Sports We Learn to Play & Live

Perspective makes a huge difference.  Most men get their attitudes towards sports from their fathers.  As boys, Dad is the first, safe, ball-playing partner.  As babies, we learn to track a rolling ball with awkward, sometimes amused, unfamiliar, jerky head and eye movements.  At some point, Dad encourages us in high-pitched, baby talk, big smiles, gentle hands, giant gestures, by rolling the ball towards himself, and closing his hands on the ball in broad, wide, exaggerated pincer movements.

Then the light goes on.  We try to copy him.  Wobbly little fingers reach behind, miss, deflect, miss, and finally connect with the ball, grasping it swiftly to our eager mouths, inspecting it for edibility, like everything else at that age.

Once we discover, with some curious disappointment, and numerous bad tasting attempts, that this round thing is not good to eat, we find out its true purposes – toy, play, fun, and time with Dad.  Boys would never learn the skills they need to practice and play without their Dads.

Much of growing up as a boy relates to balls.  Nothing surprising about this, as balls connect us to our earliest ancestors’ relationships with eggs, skulls, bladders, and rocks.  Balls to roll, balls to throw, balls to catch, balls to dodge, balls to bounce, balls to kick, balls to hit with one kind of stick or another, balls to hit other balls, balls to run with.  Big balls, little balls, hard balls, soft balls, pellets, and even balls that are not round, like footballs and rugby balls.

Aside from natural sports, like wrestling, fighting, racing, catching, and spearing, almost every other “sport” involves a ball variant, (e.g. I consider a hockey puck a flat-earth-equivalent of a ball;).  Sports are mostly derived from instinctive self-defense, and evolved hunting/fishing skills. Team sports grow from coordinated hunting/fishing efforts.  Boys learn how to play as part of a team when their Dads show them the power and fun of coordinated efforts in sports.

Until our recent era, spectators were limited in number and influence; pretty much participants only. Sports “reporting” started as the successful hunter/fisher displaying the game/prize, bragging about prowess, belittling the losers; the unsuccessful quietly moaning excuses, and looking for a rematch.

The paucity of witnesses to most events led to plenty of fireside tale telling, and retelling embellished, detailed descriptions of heroic sacrifices, powerful portrayals of excruciating pain, encounters of life-threating dangers, frightening exploits, arguments about winners, extended “if only’s,” and “if it hadn’t been for’s,” bets and guesses on next time, and other highly imaginative exaggerations.  Today, a large part of male friendship still lies in the modern versions of these rapport-building exchanges.  Sons still need to learn the important, intimate skills and secrets of play and sports from their Dads.  So, let’s “Play Ball!”

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Inequality? – What Does It Mean?

The Power of Words

Ayn Rand authored several books that captured the attentions of whole generations of rational American readers during a cataclysmic battle between individualism and collectivism.  She was born Jewish in Russia in St. Petersburg, in 1905; prophetically, this was a year of Revolution that began with the tsar’s Imperial Guard firing on a peaceful workers’ demonstration, killing 200, wounding 800, and ended with the formation of the first Duma (lower house of parliament).

The turmoil continued with the people and the aristocracy battling over the supremacy of the tsar.  Ayn grew up during the First World War, the rise of the Bolsheviks, the fall of the Tsar, the death of Lenin, and the union of the communist soviets.

She graduated from Petrograd State University in 1924, 2 years into the formation of the Soviet Union.  She came to the United States in 1926, and became a US citizen in 1931. She witnessed the collectivism of the USSR, and the rise of Stalin, from America, as the global depression suffocated economies and hope; as the world precipitated into war.

Her plays and books advocated reason over emotion, and individualism over collectivism.  Among my favorites are “Anthem,” and “Atlas Shrugged.”  “Anthem” describes a world in which there is no word for “I” or “me;” “mine” or “yours.”  All personal pronouns are collective.  She demonstrated the power of language in controlling the minds of people.

The Myth of Equality = Good

“Atlas Shrugged” tells the story of talented, creative, productive people whose individual efforts and contributions benefit average citizens; they profit personally from their efforts.  When these people are hounded and what they produce is confounded, and impounded, they escape to a hidden, peaceful, prosperous place populated by others like themselves.  They were “inequal” in the parlance of today.  Their society lost the benefits of their gifts.

George Orwell wrote a book, “Animal Farm,” which was required reading in my high school English class.  It tells the story of farm animals taking over the farm because of inequality.  They establish 7 commandments of “Animalism,” the seventh of which was “All Animals are Equal.”  The operation of “Animalism” proved very unequal.

A Call to Collectivism

Now we have lots of vague talk about “inequality.”

Question:  Where and when have equalities ever existed among humans?

Certainly, humans have been born all over the globe and across a wide spectrum of attributes, but nothing has ever been equal on any measurable attribute.  The only “equality” experiments I know of are utopian communes, and communist governments, none of which have had durable successes, except perhaps, to spread poverty and suffering equally among members and comrades.

The most glaring example of equality today, is North Korea.  I am sure the average American pines and prays to have that thrill of starvation and repression in the name of equality.  Oh, and some comrades are more equal than others.

The Absence of Definition & Context

The term “income inequality” is not a recent invention.  Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men, in 1754.  He describes two types of inequality:

Natural, Physical– differences one human’s body and another

Ethical, Moral – wealth, nobility, power, personal merit.

He proposes that natural, solitary man is a savage who lacks language, reason, and society. He is not motivated by fear of death, because he cannot conceive of it. He is only corrupted by social association with other men, causing:

  • Competition – best dancer, singer, strongest, fastest, handsomest, smartest
  • Self-Comparison with Others – ranking, e.g. second-best, IQ, “the Joneses”
  • Hatred – envy, jealousy, covetous, fear, anger
  • Urge for Power – dominance, entitlement, control

This led to the source and basis of inequality:  private property.

Angus Maddison, a respected economic historian tracked global income inequality of 25 nations since 1820.  His findings show increases in globalization were the major factor in disparity of incomes.  Retreats from globalization resulted in lower inequality.

The recent rants about “inequality” sound like envy to me.  Envy is not constructive.  The authors neither define equality nor any acceptable level of inequality; they also omit the context, methods and means of achieving less inequality; the ranters do not appear to have a clue about the sources of wealth, business success, or any idea what they are proposing.  This is evident from the example they have chosen to shock the reading public.

The Eight Richest People on Earth have wealth equal to half the people on Earth.  Sounds amazing, until one does the math or looks at who these men are.  Wealth is defined as: $Assets – $Debts.  It does not mean income.  These eight men have $485 billion dollars’ worth of valuable assets more than what they owe*.

Who What Arena Billions**
Bill Gates * Microsoft Computer Software           91.0
Amancio Ortega* Zara and Inditex Fashion Retail           71.2
Warren Buffett* Berkshire Hathaway Investments           73.6
Carlos Slim Helu* America Movil Telecom           49.4
Jeff Bezos* Amazon Computer Retail           67.2
Mark Zuckerberg* Facebook Computer Social Media           50.8
Larry Ellison* Oracle Computer Software           41.8
Michael Bloomberg* Bloomberg Investments           40.0

*Created their own companies

**Bloomberg reports as of 12/31/2016

I am not astonished at these numbers, nor that six of the eight are Americans, nor that five of the eight are in technology.  Look at what they have built.  Think of the services and products they have created and distributed to willing buyers.  Their wealth is the result of creating value for others.  All of them created the companies that represent most of their wealth.

What astonishes me is the fact that 3.6 billion people, (including children) own an average of $135 each.  Who do you know who has $135 total wealth?  Think; who owes more than they own?  Anyone who has a job, rents an apartment, has no savings, uses credit cards, and borrows money to buy a car, or go to college.  During the recent recession, plenty of people were “under water” on their mortgaged homes.  That is here in America; I am sure Asia, the Middle East, India, Central America, South America, and Africa have plenty of poor people with no prospects for improvement.  Whose responsibility are they?

It is unclear what the article is suggesting, but the point is lost on me.  It sounds like envy.

The only thing this article suggests to me is, that if you took every penny from the world’s 8 richest people, and distributed it among the 3.6 billion poorest people, they each would have $135 more than they have now, and we would not have the services and goods these eight produce.

Our Glass House

One thing that stands out about the debate over equality is the way Americans limit their geographic boundaries.  We seem to talk about inequality only within national borders.  Income and wealth disparity is greatest among nations.

If you want to silence a discussion of inequality, mention this: The USA has 4.5% of the world’s population and owns 33.2% of the world’s wealth. We Americans would have to give up 86.4% of what we have, to equalize wealth with the other 7.2 billion people in the world.  Is that what the authors propose?  I doubt it.

One estimate of the total wealth on our planet is $255 quadrillion dollars.  That would mean about $36,000 per person when divided by 7.5 billion people.  However, infrastructure, education, access, communications, logistics, culture, climate, security, resources, health, age, and many other elements are not evenly distributed or available.  Some societies do not allow women to own property or have money unless it is controlled by a man.  Other societies are so corrupt that what they have is stolen from them at every turn.

History suggests that even if all assets were evenly distributed, the money would soon be redistributed to the few who provide the goods and services for the many.

Bloomberg’s listing of billionaires includes 197 whose total wealth is $3 trillion.  I do not know what percentage of the world’s population that matches, but it is about 15% of the $20 trillion national debt of the USA.  That would be $2.86 for every person in the world; $62,700 for each man, woman, and child in America.  What would be the average wealth of an American if we subtracted $62,700 from their net worth to pay the debt?

A Bigger Pie

Consider this:  those who decry inequality pose it as a problem, but offer no solutions.  What would the authors of the inequality protest recommend to raise the wealth of the earth’s inhabitants without confiscating the value created by others?

The Divided States of America?

America is an idea; a concept; an agreement; a contract; not a structure; not separate from its citizens; not invincible; not divine.  America is the sum of us; e pluribus unum; one nation; under God; a work in progress.

Now, our unity is deeply wounded; the cut is painful; we blame each other; we separate; we abandon trust; we lose our faith; we suffer; we fear; we lash out; we seek redemption; we want to be healed.

Staying together as a nation is hard; we are attacked; we are blamed; we question our beliefs; we question our leaders; we question ourselves; we become angry; we defend ourselves from each other.

Our children watch us; they trust us; they copy us; they love us; they grow up; they have love; they have work; they have families; they have children; they have the life you gave them; they inherited the America of today; they do not know what to do.

Too much everything intoxicates Americans; too much abundance; too much safety; too much power; too much food; too much information; too much ignorance; too much entertainment; too much violence; too much vulgarity; too much separation; too much taking; too much hurting; too much lust; too much abandoning; too much hate; too much racism; too much chemistry; too much addiction; too much medication; too much advertising; too much preaching; too much teaching; too much attitude; too much Satan; too much to handle.

Not enough truth demeans and degrades Americans; not enough knowledge; not enough love; not enough wisdom; not enough peace; not enough grace; not enough nature; not enough helping; not enough learning; not enough vocabulary; not enough strength; not enough compassion; not enough praying; not enough intimacy; not enough sharing; not enough family; not enough courage; not enough community; not enough contact; not enough respect; not enough God; not enough to thrive.

Some wounds are slow to heal; some feuds are hard to end; but America is ours to mend.

Guns Without Roses

The Clinton campaign and the allied media have set bear traps with hair triggers; mention guns and they snap.

Hillary Clinton and her party have a reputation for favoring gun control.  Check out the gun laws in California and New York, if you doubt the bias.  (Note:  So far, no criminals obey gun laws, including the ban on gun ownership by convicted felons.)

Despite the palliative assurances of Democrats that gun ownership is not in jeopardy, the evidence screams the opposite.  It seems that leading Democrats are very afraid of guns.  Otherwise, why would they construe every challenge to the hypocrisy of spouting gun control from within a heavily-armed cocoon?

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd began to boo. He quickly added: “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

The most generous interpretation of Trump’s comment that the second-amendment supporters could prevent the appointment by voting against Clinton, or prevent confirmation by lobbying their Senators not to consent to such appointments.

But no; inferring that Trump was inciting assassination was the immediate response.

More recently Trump said,

“Now, you know she’s very much against the Second Amendment, she wants to destroy your Second Amendment — guns, guns, guns, right? I think what we should do is, she goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons, they should disarm, right? I think they should disarm. Immediately, what do you think? Yeah, take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. Take their – let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, OK? It’ll be very dangerous.”

Once again, the immediate inference that Trump was inciting Clinton’s assassination, not highlighting the irony of her politics compared to her actions.

Ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that the Clinton campaign and the press were misconstruing Trump’s words.

“What he intended is very, very simple — that (gun owners) should vote against her,” Giuliani said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “He had no idea that anybody would interpret his words that way. It was so obvious to all of us what he meant.”

Do you believe that Trump wants Hillary dead by violence?  The pro-Clinton forces want you to think so.

LGBT Concealed Licenses No Help

Most Americans take safety for granted. We walk around unaware of our surroundings; we even text while driving. Once in a while, the real world shouts a painful “wake up!” We pay attention for a while; then we drift back into a kind of entertained stupor, absorbed in virtual attractions.  Even intense vigilance and gun laws would not have saved the patrons of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando from the insane security officer who attacked them.  I cannot say what family, community, religious, or mental health resources might have identified, diverted, and redirected Omar Mateen’s mindset to health and tolerance.  

News of unpredictable, random madness creates justifiable hysteria, especially if it is threatening to people like you.  Since the massacre, many LGBT people are buying guns, and seeking concealed hand gun licenses. This is a completely understandable reflection of the community’s generalized fear of attack by “misogaynists,” and religious extremists; naturally, they feel the pressing need for self-defense against such deadly assault. Many have joined millions of Americans who have chosen to be armed citizens. I support their decisions and encourage them to seek professional training, and practice diligently until they can respond to danger effectively. Just owning a gun will not protect you.  (See my recent blogs for more ideas.)

 Alcohol, sex, and early hours are a dangerous combination under any circumstances;  add lethal weapons and really bad things happen. 

Licensed gun owners are prohibited from carrying weapons into bars and clubs that get 51% or more of their revenue from alcohol. Usually signs are posted with a watermark “51%” and tiny text to explain the prohibitions. Also, in Texas, the police  have zero tolerance for drinking alcohol while carrying a weapon.  

In other words, the club in Orlando was off limits to legal guns, and most or all of the patrons were disqualified to carry after they left the club. So,licenses, weapons, and expertise with guns would not have thwarted the tragedy in Orlando.

Part 3 of 3: Common Mistakes You Can Avoid

I want to give Shannon Thrasher, The Tactical List Contributor credit for these ideas.  https://www.policeone.com/police-products/firearms/training/articles/7391346-10-common-mistakes-in-self-defense-firearms-training/

A gun owner can be ignorant, inexperienced, misguided, or naïve & still pass the requirements for a concealed carry license. Another scary thought. Mistakes & misunderstanding interfere with responsible carrying of guns.

The last thing we want is a bumbling gun owner in a deadly, public encounter.  Those who choose to carry a gun should avoid the most common training errors that professional instructors point out.

Not Pre-Qualifying Instructors

You do not want to master any bad habits, or make serious mistakes about firearms.  Find competent, knowledgeable instructors. Check instructor’s references. Talk with people who have taken the class you’re thinking of attending.  Training others is a separate, special skill beyond owning guns or being a police officer.

High Student-Teacher Ratio

Individual training & coaching is ideal but expensive. Taking group courses is the most cost effective path.  They can be valuable if there are enough assistants to provide a safe, effective learning environment. If there are 20 or 30 students in the class should have 5 or 6 assistant instructors or range safety officers present.

Wrong Training

Soldiers & police train for specific deadly environments. Being an armed citizen is different. Civilians need tactical training for the types of situations they might encounter in an otherwise safe, peaceful life; they need to know exactly what constitutes a threat that warrants lethal force, & how to responsibly employ that force when needed. This is not marksmanship training; it is situational combat training.

Wrong Gun or Caliber

Determining the right gun requires assessment of factors including body size, hand size, experience, & most importantly, your intentions.  Expert advisors will go through all the variables & arrive at a range of choices to try out before you choose.

Not “Dry-Firing”

Save money & learn safely, without the distraction of extremely loud noises & recoil you experience at the range.  “Dry-Firing,” uses dummy bullets with no potential harm to let you practice your techniques at home.  Live firing is aversive because of the unconscious anticipation of an explosion about to happen in your hand.  Strictly range shooting can cause you to develop flinches, jerks, & eye clinches that diminish accuracy. Dry-firing lets you learn how to hold & fire a gun correctly & smoothly without the trauma.  It also saves numerous outings that could cost $20 – 40 of ammunition plus range fees, each time.  Most expert instructors recommend 85% dry-fire & only 15% live fire.

Stuck with Narrow Training

One class with one instructor may leave you with just a few things to practice.  It is good to put those things in “muscle memory” with rigorous practice.  But what about the other things you do not know that you need to know to progress as a gun-carrying citizen?  Do not get stuck in the first grade.  Shop around for other qualified trainers who can teach you something new.

Target Shooting vs. Lethal Force Encounter

Shooting at stationary targets at the range cannot prepare you for adrenaline charged situations where the threat will be trying to hurt or kill you; you may never get the chance to learn & practice your response, if you’re not prepared beforehand. Continue learning & practice the skills you would need in the real world, like running away, moving laterally, taking cover, concealment, drawing fully clothed, multiple targets, reloading, tactical shooting, weak-hand shooting, & using life-like targets.

No Force-on-Force Training

You should never see anything in a gunfight you have never seen before.  “Force-on-force” training is kind of like paintball fighting, using non-lethal Airsoft guns & gear.  This way you can experience shooting at bad guys who shoot back.  Force-on-force training will teach you to move, take cover, deal with different distances; it will also show you how important it is to avoid being shot & what to do if you do get shot.

Carrying only a Gun & a Holster

Think for a minute what else you would need in a gunfight:

  • At least one spare magazine.
  • A cell phone to call the police & your lawyer.
  • At least one less lethal weapon such a knife, pepper spray, or a TASER. You probably would not use them in a life-threatening situation, but prosecutors might claim you needlessly shot the criminal who attacked you because you had no other options.
  • A good flashlight will help with positive target identification. Most shootings occur in low light.

Not Carrying Your Weapon as Much as Allowed

 Unless you are psychic, you cannot predict when you will face criminal violence.  Once you are properly trained, wearing your gun should be “normal.”  You chose to be armed for self-defense of yourself, your family, & anyone who is threatened with deadly injuries.  You do not want to find yourself in an “oops,” situation without your weapon.

Proper training & rigorous practice is a must for gun owners.

 

Part 2 of 3: Become an Expert – Lives Are on the Line

I am a supporter of the rights of Americans to arm themselves.  I believe that the presence of legal guns will reduce violence & the effectiveness of illegal guns. Without professional training & practice, though, a person with a gun is like a baby with a hammer.

Owning a car does not make a person a good driver; neither does getting a driver’s license.  It takes training & years of regular practice to become a good, safe driver.  Otherwise, a car is a dangerous, deadly weapon. Gun ownership is similar.  I believe that no one should carry a gun until they are experts in avoiding violence & experts in using a gun when needed.

I wonder, how many well-meaning fathers give their daughters a deadly weapon & think they are protected from malicious perpetrators?  Such a gift, without extensive training, could do just the opposite.

One of the greatest common errors is believing you will be able to use a gun effectively, if the situation arises.  Not likely.  Life-threatening situations trigger the body’s fear responses, flooding your body with adrenaline.  Without training and practice, you will more than likely freeze. Your thinking ability & motor skills will go to zero.  Even if you get to the gun, if it is not loaded, you will not be able to load it; if it is loaded, you will probably fumble the gun; if you are able to fire it, you will miss.  The assailant could then grab the weapon and use it to attack you.  Scary, isn’t it.

The first question is why own a gun?  Hunting, marksmanship, collecting, & self-defense are all good reasons.  All require the same basic knowledge & practices.  Many critics of the National Rifle Association fail to note that safety & training are major elements of their purpose.  Below is an excerpt from their website on gun safety.

NRA Gun Safety Rules

The fundamental NRA rules for safe gun handling are:

  • ALWAYS keep the gun POINTED IN A SAFE DIRECTION.
    •  This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage.
    • The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle or front end of the barrel is pointed at all times.
    • Common sense dictates the safest direction, depending on different circumstances.
  • ALWAYS keep your finger OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL READY TO SHOOT.
    • When holding a gun, rest your finger on the trigger guard or along the side of the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger.
  • ALWAYS keep the gun UNLOADED UNTIL READY TO USE.
    • Whenever you pick up a gun, immediately engage the safety device
    • If the gun has a magazine, remove it before opening the action
    • Look into the chamber(s) which should be clear of ammunition.
    • If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the gun alone & get help from someone who does.

When using or storing a gun, always follow these NRA rules:

  • Store guns so they are NOT ACCESSIBLE TO UNAUTHORIZED PERSONS.
    • Many factors must be considered when deciding where & how to store guns. A person’s particular situation will be a major part of the consideration.
    • Dozens of gun storage devices, as well as locking devices that attach directly to the gun, are available.
    • However, mechanical locking devices, like the mechanical safeties built into guns, can fail & should not be used as a substitute for safe gun handling & the observance of all gun safety rules.
  • Never use ALCOHOL OR OVER-THE-COUNTER, PRESCRIPTION OR OTHER DRUGS before or while shooting.
    • Alcohol, as well as any other substance likely to impair normal mental or physical bodily functions, must not be used before or while handling or shooting guns.
  • Wear EYE & EAR PROTECTION as appropriate.
    • Guns are loud & the noise can cause hearing damage.
    • They can also emit debris & hot gas that could cause eye injury.
    • For these reasons, shooting glasses & hearing protectors should be worn by shooters & spectators.
  • Use only the CORRECT AMMUNITION FOR YOUR GUN.
    • Only BBs, pellets, cartridges or shells designed for a particular gun can be fired safely in that gun.
    • Most guns have the ammunition type stamped on the barrel.
    • Ammunition can be identified by information printed on the box & sometimes stamped on the cartridge.
    • Do not shoot the gun unless you know you have the proper ammunition.
  • Know your TARGET & WHAT IS BEYOND.
    •  Be absolutely sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt.
    • Equally important, be aware of the area beyond your target. This means observing your prospective area of fire before you shoot.
    • Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap.
    • Think first. Shoot second.
  • Know HOW TO USE THE GUN SAFELY.
    • Before handling a gun, learn how it operates.
    • Know its basic parts, how to safely open & close the action & remove any ammunition from the gun or magazine.
    • Remember, a gun’s mechanical safety device is never foolproof.
    • Nothing can ever replace safe gun handling.
  • Be sure the gun is SAFE TO OPERATE.
    • Just like other tools, guns need regular maintenance to remain operable.
    • Regular cleaning & proper storage are a part of the gun’s general upkeep.
    • If there is any question concerning a gun’s ability to function, a knowledgeable gunsmith should look at it.
  • Be aware that certain types of guns & many shooting activities require additional safety precautions.
  • Cleaning
    • Regular cleaning is important in order for your gun to operate correctly & safely.
    • Taking proper care of it will also maintain its value & extend its life.
    • Your gun should be cleaned every time that it is used.
    • A gun brought out of prolonged storage should also be cleaned before shooting.
    • Accumulated moisture & dirt, or solidified grease & oil, can prevent the gun from operating properly.
    • Before cleaning your gun,make absolutely sure that it is unloaded.
    • The gun’s action should be open during the cleaning process.
    • Also, be sure that no ammunition is present in the cleaning area.