Monthly Archives: July 2015

It’s Good to be Older: Thoughts on Tom Brady and the Patriots

I turned 60 this past spring. I know what everyone says: “It’s better than the alternative.” (That is certainly true.) or “60 is the new 40” (I’m not so sure of that.) But, still, when I put my age down on a form of some kind, it’s hard not to feel some anxiety and even a bit of sadness.

But, this morning, I’m glad I’m 60. At least I’m glad I’m not 11.

When I heard the news yesterday about Tom Brady’s alleged (or proven) destruction of evidence, I stared at the computer, shook my head and frowned quite a bit. But then, I moved on to something else and I’m glad I could.

I am a huge Patriots fan and have admired Brady since the day he took over as quarterback for my team. I really believed that he was, if not innocent, at least no more guilty than the other quarterbacks who tampered with game balls or any of the other players who crossed over the line a bit when trying to gain a competitive advantage. All of professional sports seems to be about players going right up to the line of what is prohibited and daring someone to catch them if and when they cross that line.

My problem right now is not with what Tom Brady allegedly (I’ll still use that word) did.I still believe it was borderline and could easily fall into the category of just taking a bit of an advantage for comfort rather than for significantly better performance- a perspective justified by the results of the 2nd half of the Colts game and the Super Bowl when the balls were being monitored and he was superb. It seems that the league picks and chooses whom to investigate and whom to punish and how much and I do believe that the whole affair seemed like a witch hunt. I still believe that. And, I still believe that the league will be worse off with quarterbacks being monitored more closely regarding footballs.

But, all of that is immaterial right now. If it is true that Tom Brady knew he was guilty all along and lied and destroyed evidence of that guilt, he is not worthy of the adulation that we give our sports heroes. Yes, I still believe he is a great quarterback but I have lost respect for him. I don’t know why he didn’t say from the beginning: “Quarterbacks all manipulate the balls. I like mine softer and maybe we crossed the line in taking air out here or there. We’re all looking for that advantage and we pushed it just a bit too far”. I would have had tremendous respect for that type of statement.

Obviously that is a bit idealistic and I know the sports world doesn’t work that way. But, at least I would have been able to cheer for him with a full heart.

Now, about being 11. I am old enough to keep sports in perspective. I am old enough to have other aspects of my life to concentrate on (I have to be at work in a few minutes). And, I am old enough to know that not everyone lives up to our expectations of them and we can shrug our shoulders and move on.

But, I worry about the 11 year old Patriots fans.

They’re the ones Tom Brady let down.

I just hope they don’t lose faith in all us “grown-ups”.

Oh, and what will I do when the Pats season starts? I’ll be cheering for Jimmy Garoppolo, the back up quarterback to lead the Patriots to a 4-0 record. When Brady comes back? We’ll see. I just don’t know. But, if I decide not to watch the Patriots and not to cheer for them, I’ll be OK.

I wish I could be as sure about the 11 year olds.

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Thoughts on the Agreement with Iran

Like so many others, I am reading as much as I can about the deal with Iran. I am not an expert on foreign policy or politics in general but since this agreement has such potential impact on our world and, particularly on Israel, I want to share some preliminary thoughts.

I know it is very complicated and full of potential pitfalls, but I want desperately to believe that this is a positive development.

Let me explain why I say this.

I want to believe it because especially with the continuation of sanctions likely to be opposed in the future by nations who have supported them in the past, I don’t see an option other than a military action to limit or stop Iran’s nuclear program. Military action would be disastrous and the use of diplomacy is a great step forward.

I want to believe it because, from what I read, many Iranians, especially young Iranians,want their nation to join the world community. Some are beginning to reject the type of leadership that has brought them the sanctions and the exclusion of the rest of the world. This agreement may help that process along.

I want to believe it because I endorse so much of the domestic agenda of President Obama’s administration and I want to feel as comfortable with the foreign policy agenda.

I want to believe it because I was opposed to the way that Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed his disagreement with the negotiations in his ill conceived and disrespectful speech to Congress in March. While his concerns were and are legitimate, I found myself becoming even more willing to trust our President as their conflict deepened.

And finally, I admit it that I want to believe it because I have always been one to be optimistic in the long run about how our world can be a peaceful place with all.

But, all of this being said, I realize that this treaty is a tremendous risk.

It is a risk to deal with a nation which sponsors terror and which expresses virulent hatred to the US and certainly to Israel. Iran does present a threat to Israel and in that sense, it most certainly is a risk.

But, I cringe when I hear Prime Minister Netanyahu say yesterday was one of the darkest days in history. I cringe when I read people comparing this “deal” to the agreement that Prime Minister Chamberlain made with Adolf Hitler. I cringe when I see people accuse the President and the entire administration of anti-Semitism. I can not accept these extreme statements. But, I do understand the fear and these perspectives need to be taken into account as we move forward.

The bottom line is I believe that we all need to take a deep breath and be circumspect in our praise or our condemnation. The deal is by no means such a positive development that it is the cause for unquestioned celebration. However, it also does not strike me as cause for such talk of certain doom.

We all know that risks need to be taken for progress. Time will tell, of course, whether the risk was worth taking and whether there will be real, verifiable and positive progress.

May we all be blessed with peace and safety.

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Taking Away the Mystery

Here is a trivia question: What happened at exactly 5:51 p.m. on August 14, 1945?

If you don’t know, don’t worry, no one else knew the answer to this question until very recently.

The answer is: this was the exact time in which a sailor in New York’s Times Square, exhilarated by the news of Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II, grabbed a woman dressed in white, apparently a nurse, and gave her a huge kiss. The photograph of this moment was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt has become one of the most enduring photographic images in history.

That the picture was taken on August 14 is not news. But 5:51 p.m.?

Recently physics Professor Donald Olson of Texas State University and his colleagues analyzed the shadows cast in the picture and were able to determine the exact location of the sun when the picture was taken. They have determined that the picture was taken at exactly 5:51 p.m.

An article on the Internet about this discovery is entitled: “How a Physics Professor Solved the Mystery of an Iconic Photo”.

I am fascinated by stories of this kind. I love a good mystery and am fascinated by those, whether scientists, historians, or whomever, who are able to find answers to questions few had even thought about.

And, that is what really interests me in this story. I am absolutely overwhelmed by the ability of this team of physicists to answer this question. But, I have to ask the next question: Was it really a mystery? Did anyone ever really care what time the picture was taken. And, most importantly, can I appreciate the picture more now that I know what time it was taken?

In a way I’m fascinated that I know the time the picture was taken. But, at the same time, something is lost. Now, the issue of time has become a focus. There are responses to the internet article in which some claim that the 5:51 time couldn’t be right. One response used as proof the growth of the sailor’s beard, too heavy to be a “5 o’clock shadow” and therefore clearly the picture had to be taken later.

I have seen this picture so many times. There is mystery about it. While some recent stories have identified who the two people are, the fact is that there is a sense of anonymity about it. Like so many moments frozen in time through photography,not knowing the entire backstory of the photo makes it more universal. The fact that the picture was taken at a particular time is of interest to me but if it becomes the main focus of the story, we will miss the point. This was a picture so full of emotion that even those of us who were born years after the event can feel the joy and the relief. That is what must remain.

I have been watching with such keen interest NASA’s New Horizon probe doing its flyby of the “planet” (or not) Pluto. I can’t wait to see the pictures. I know that there will be important knowledge gained from these pictures. But, I’m not sure I want to know all of the scientific analysis that the astronomers will come away with.

I just want to see the pictures and marvel at the beauty of God’s creation. I want some of the mystery of this drawf planet to remain. I don’t need to know what time it is on Pluto.

Sometimes, our world is enhanced by information. Sometimes, we’re better off living in a world of mystery.

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