Monthly Archives: December 2009

Sympathy for the Devils

I had a little mishap this morning while trimming my beard.  The trimmer I use is not really that good, and the adjustable head does not work very well.  I have to be very careful not to press too hard or too quickly or else….


I took a big chunk of hair out of the middle of my left cheek.  It did not strip it all the way to the bare skin, but it is quite noticable.  As soon as I did it, I let out a few choice words.  Maureen, who was already running late for work, quickly shouted back from the bedroom asking if I was ok.  When I explained the situation to her, I got back one of the blankest stares I have ever seen in my life.  Her sympathy for my situation was immeasurable.  That is because there was none.  Ok sure, give it a few days and it will grow back enough to blend in, but that is not the point.  If she had some sort of disaster with her hair, certainly I would lend my support and reassure her that it was not that bad.  But that was not the reaction I got.  I suppose to be fair, I should say that this is not the first time this has happened to me.  And in the past when an event like this occurred I was usually alone and had no one around to hear my over abundant swearing.  So if it had not been for Maureen being there, I probably would have just done like I did every other time I had a mishap of this sort.  I would have just shaved it all off.  And I would have done that today.  But then came the reaction.  And the lack of sympathy.  And the realization on my part that it really wasn’t all that bad.  So thanks to Maureen, I quickly regained my composure and my beard was saved.  At least for now.

There is a very old saying that is attributed to Lord John Acton, a distinguished bearded gentleman and scholar.  “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  This quote has really nothing to do with the story of my beard, but it does serve as a nice transition into what I really intended to write about.  Lord Acton’s full name was Sir John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton.  The subject of the quote was actually the Roman Catholic Church, or more accurately Pope Pius IX doctrine on papal infallibility.  The next line in the quote is not as well-known, but actually clarifies Lord Acton’s intent.  “Great men are almost always bad men.”  Although written almost 150 years ago, the basic idea is still survives today.  That same drive that brings a man to greatness, is very often the same flaw that will be their downfall.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am, of course, talking about Tiger Woods.  But it is not just his particular situation, but one that seems to plague athletes, musicians, actors, politicians and all men of power.  It this particular case, it does seem a lot of excess that was well hidden for many years, and in effect, that is the problem.

I work in a field where infidelity is very well-known, and extra measures are taken to make sure these indiscretions are kept away from those who need not know.  Don’t hold your breath, I am not about to add names or give away some of those trade secretes. Maybe that makes me part of the problem.  Or it could just make me someone who likes his job and would like to keep it.  The point is this, there are a lot of people who knew a lot about Tiger’s social life long before that little accident brought this whole mess into the public eye. It is even very possible that Tiger’s wife knew much more about this than she told friends and family.  Only she can make the decision about how she intends to proceed from here, but rest assured very soon we will be hearing confessions and apologies.  Very public people looking to us for sympathy and forgiveness.

Tiger Woods is obviously not the first person to fall victim to his own success, and he will obviously not be the last.  But what about the women who shared in his discretion?  Should we feel sympathy for them?  Don’t they play just as big a part in the problem?  The fame game can be quite alluring, to both wife and mistress.  I can’t speak for Tiger and his wife, but I have seen the women who chase around professional athletes.  They all dress in a certain way to attract what they want, and they know what they are getting themselves into.  They don’t seem to care if the athlete is married, and they seem to be content with just being with them.  I can’t tell you what type of childhood drives a woman to flock after the rich and famous in this way, but should they happen to be successful in actually catching one, what do they really expect of these affairs?  Do they really think that they will leave their wives for them?  Because of the enviroment these famous people live in, they expect that they can have it all.  There are no repercussions for their actions. 

I am not even sure if I have any sympathy for Tiger’s wife, Elin.  When it was reported that she had moved out of that house where the late night accident occurred, she really only relocated herself to one of the couple’s other homes.  Another overly large abode still within the state of Florida, in another exclusive gated community.  She will get herself a top-notch lawyer and probably top Michael Jordan and his wife to claim the largest divorce settlement ever.  Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying she is getting what she wanted.  I would like to think that she really did love him, and the fame and money and houses were just an extra bonus.  But either way, she is still going to be well off.  Much better off than most of us, with or without her husband.

So where does all this bring us?  Right back to my good bearded friend Lord Acton.  He had another quote that perfectly sums up these matters.  “Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought.”  In a perfect world, people would always do the right thing.  I am not being judgmental here.  If you want to “date” many different people, then go ahead and do so.  But getting married and having children should cut that lifestyle off.  If you are not ready to give up that lifestyle, then don’t get married.  At first it seemed strange to me that David Letterman escaped the bad press of his affairs, but the big difference was that at the time of his discretion he was not married and did not have a son yet with his then girlfriend.  Is that the line in the sand?  I don’t know.  But I do know this.  In the next few weeks or months, when the apologies and pleads for sympathy begin, I am going to listen with a blankest stare on my face.  Because I have no sympathy.  Not for this devil.

The Great Christmas Debate

And so it begins.  Once we have eaten all of the turkey and stuffing and cranberries, we have watch the football games on the boob tube, and both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a distant memory.  We officially kicked  off the Holiday Season, and before too long we spark once again The Great Christmas Debate.  Activists on both sides of the issue seem to be very passionate this year, although many times it is difficult to tell what exactly the two sides are, and what they are truly fighting over.  Over the years,we have been in effect force-fed the idea that since our constitution states that there is a separation of church and state, that public displays of Christmas by government agencies are a violation of the constitution.  Threats of law suits have forced many of these displays to disappear, or they try to be so non-offencive by including other holidays from different religions, that they become muddled.  It is very common to see a Hanukkah Menorah set up next to a nativity scene.  Our town center also includes displays for Kwanzaa and Diwali.  But let’s be honest, none of these displays would even exist if it were not for Christmas.  The whole Diwali thing actually confuses me.  Obviously, I am not Hindu, but I do know that Diwali is usually celebrated in late October or early November.  It would seem to me that it is more offensive to move the holiday to make it conform to our American standard than celebrate it during its actual time frame.  And what about Festivus?  Why isn’t that included in our town’s holiday display? 

Because of this perception of not wanting to offend, the traditional Merry Christmas greeting has morphed over the years into Happy Holidays, but in recent times, even this has become offensive.  But in reverse.  I have actually had people get mad at me for not saying Merry Christmas.  And I understand where they are coming from.  Why should I have to stifle my Christmas Greeting.  If I know someone is Jewish, I will make an effort to say Happy Hanukkah, but shouldn’t I actually do that during Hanukkah, which this year starts at sundown on Friday, December 11th?  The celebration of Christmas does not prevent others from celebrating the holidays of their choice.  Maybe it’s time to come out with a new Charlie Brown Christmas, only this time, instead of Linus reciting the story of the birth of Christ, we can have Lucy passing out chill pills from her little roadside psychiatrist clinic.  People take this stuff way too seriously.  There is actually a group called The American Family Association, AFA for short, and each year they come out with a list of stores that should be boycotted because they don’t use the word Christmas to promote their holiday sales.  Maybe we have gone a little overboard with all the political correctness of the holidays, but seriously, this is a big concern for people?  There needs to be a boycott for the lack of Christmas celabration?  I find it even stranger that this same group is also mad at The Gap for their current ad where they mention Kwanzaa and Hanukkah.  They felt these new ads were patronizing.  Really?  The AFA is a bunch of cotton-headed ninnymoggins!  There, I said it.  Now they can boycott me as well.  Because I actually am patronizing them.  Although I would think that the Gap may need to rethink their ads.  They left Diwali out.

There was once a movement many years ago to ban Christmas Trees here in the United States.  This was before electricity lit our trees with a multitude of shinny little bulbs, and trees were decorated with seasonal fruits, handmade decorations, and candles.  Although the practice of putting up a Christmas Tree seems to have first been made popular by the Germans, it had already become a standard throughout Europe, but in the New World the practice was seen as a pagan ritual.  The history of the decorated tree can be traced back to the celabration of the winter solstice by the druids and the celtic tribes of northern Europe, and it was seen by many of the Puritans as an evil practice, much like witchcraft.  It almost seems ironic that just a couple hundred years later, people wanted to ban the tree because it was too accociated with Christian standards.  It is almost like we are looking for a reason to create a controversy.  People are just not happy unless they have something to complain about.  This is the only explaination I have for a recent rant by the Mayor of Arlington, Tennessee.  In a recent statment on his Facebook page, Mayor Russell Wiseman voiced his opinion that President Obama deliberately timed his speech on the state of the war in Afghanistan to block the Christian message contained in The Charlie Brown Christmas Special.  In his statment, Mayor Wiseman repeatedly refers to Obama as “Our Muslim President.”  I guess we will just have to wait until December 15th to see if the good mayor was correct.  That is the date ABC has rescheduled the special to run.

The way I see it, you will never make everyone happy during the holiday season, so why not just make those who are really important happy?  Your own family and friends.  If your family celebrates Kwanzaa, then wish them and others a Happy Kwanzaa.  Wish me a Happy Kwanzaa.  And don’t be offended when I wish you a Merry Christmas in return.  There is too much hatred and war already in the world.  Relax.  Just enjoy the season.  No matter how you choose to celebrate it.