20/20 HINDSIGHT (390)

Cranes-5911.jpg

It is almost 2020.  I am almost 80.  It is almost Christmas.  It is Festivus.  Dec. 23.

Junior Johnson just died.  That confirms mortality.  I met Junior  once.  And I met Ted Williams, my hero.  “First there was baseball”, but “car racin'”wasn’t far behind.  We didn’t have pro teams in the South then.  We did have baseball and racin’.  Basketball was fermenting, but the baseball game of the week and Darlington were staples.  Ford or Chevy? Up there with Democrat or Republican?

All politics are local and so was racin’.  Our small town changed it’s name twice and wound up being called after the mill owner, “Robbins’.  Pure mill village, labor  and management the dividing line. The  minor league baseball team was named the “Robbins Robins”.

My teenage years coincided with the deification of the automobile.  We proved you do need a seatbelt. And it ain’t smart to drive drunk.  But once they let you have the car keys you could go any where you could make it home for check-in.  Drink figured into the equation and we had some peculiar laws there.  Our dry end of Moore County meant nightly reconnoitres to Pinehurst, the rich and “wet” end of the county.  Bring me a six pack of PBR!  No mixed drinks, only “brown bagging”

Moonshine and North Carolina are synonymous.  The best recent book on the combination of cars, moonshine,NC and Nascar is DRIVING WITH THE DEVIL by Neal Thompson.   Driver, promoter, and mechanic.  Began in our hills but soon got to the flat lands (Percy Flowers ruled the Piedmont).

“Moonshiners put more time, energy, thought, and love into their cars than any racer ever will. Lose on the track and you go home. Lose with a load of whiskey and you go to jail.” —Junior Johnson, NASCAR legend and one-time whiskey runner.

We have just added a traffic circle at now home , Emerald Isle, NC.  And it trigged some nostalgia  (more later).  The first circle in our  Robbins neighborhood in the 50’s was,  you guessed it, in Pinehurst.  We accepted it as an in route challenge to our cars and driving skills.  Beer in hand, how fast could you drive around the circle?  In 3 trips?  First to  pass someone in the circle?  Record for number passed per lap? First ticket?  First ticket with no license?

Sadly, but inevitably, the causality and severity of a mistake stunned us.  Tex Graham was  first, a football player who sang 16 tons (“…you load sixteen tons and what do you get?  Another day older and deeper in debt”. )  RIP, Tex.

Less severe but notable early scenarios include Ben Brady’s solo trip to “the Pines” in his 53 pickup, stopping in front of the police station, Blowing the horn till the puzzled officers came out of the station.  “You can’t catch me ” was Ben’s challenge, whereupon he patched out at top speed.  Sadly  Ben  flipped her and wound up under the truck, specifically the red hot muffler.  Burn city.

Lenonard “Urd” Benson drove his Studebaker into a ditch that was roof high and Studebaker wide to the “war eagle”.  It happened on Prom night.  We abandoned the dance to laugh at Urd, and walk across the car.

Next up Glenn McCaskill,  didn’t make the sharp curb at Aberdeen lake.  Don’t remember if he made the lake, but do remember that a week before he had driven the same route with me and nine others in a sedan to a little league baseball game.

“And my friend Brian Temple
He thought he could make it
So from the third story he jumped
And he missed the swimming pool only by inches
And everyone said he was drunk.” FAMILY RESERVE (Lyle Lovett).

NC 705 from Robbins to Seagrove is 13 miles.  I know it well because I tried to thumb back home one midnight. Walked the whole 13,  never saw a car.

“Heading down south to the land of the pines
I’m thumbing my way into North Caroline
Staring up the road and pray to God I see headlights “.(WAGON WHEEL by Dylan),

NC 705 intersected with NC 220 which led to Level Cross, NC,  home of the Pettys, Lee, Richard, Kyle and such.  Not only that, 705 had about a 3 mile stretch or “the straight” that had not a bend and not many laws.   Drag racing with the family vehicles blossomed.  Lore galore.  Races followed by, or including wrecks, fights, bragging rights.  Soon word drifted down that the Pettys had a great quarter mile drag track just up the road.  Locals just snuck on at all hours, uninvited.   I had a classmate who was a “management’s child” and thus wealthy.  Upon his 16th birthday he was given a new 56 Bel Air Chevy, with all gadgets, plus two four barrel carburetors.  Ripe.

The kid missed school one day and showed up the next with a God All Mighty  depressed look on him.  He said there was no need to try to hide what happened.  He felt obligated to try the 56 on the Petty fast track.  By cover of darkness he idled her on –then pedal to metal.

He acknowledged the saw he 3/4 inch cable strung between two sawed off telephone poles at track’s end: ‘But hell, she was wide open and nothing left but to hit the cable head on, head light high.  “Car is in the shop already.”

I guess a lot of small NC towns had driving tests.  We had several.  One road was called “the rough and crooked”.  What was your “top end” on the “rat path” or the tree lined back  road from West End  (now Seven Lakes) to the crossroads?   In the other direction , toward  Highfalls,NC,  there was a prolonged curve. Severe, dangerous and the perfect for locals to declare their “personal best”– screening around on two wheels.  Somehow the most difficult one got pushed backed in my thinking, yet crept into mind one recent day in mid-Emerald Isle circle.  Like many county seats in NC, Moore County’s courthouse was located in the roundabout in Carthage, NC. While it  was a longer way home it offered  a challenge.  Between the drug store and the sidewalk’s end there was a 2×2 foot brick column.  From column to store the width was almost 4 inches to spare for vehicles of that time.  Tight squeeze that only the best could navigate.  That didn’t stop the amateurs, whose cars wore scars on their sides to the indignation of miscalculation.

***RECENT STATISTIC:  “When a second teenager joins a teenage driver, the chances of an accident increases 4 times.

Emerald Isles’ circle  was controversial, yet has worked out well.  A bar with an open air view of the circle that has probably been a disappointment.  No accidents have been reported.  There is a hint of scandal no one talks about.  Some odd variables have yet to unfold. The circle’s  appearance coincided with Hurricane Florence, whose fury left the island with damage beyond the work forces ability.  Tough on people, particularly town management and workers.  The town manager, already beloved, emerged as a local hero of no small proportion.

So it shocked the town when this valued servant announced he was moving to another town.  Why the puzzled populace wondered?  Word on the street concluded that the work load of  more frequent future hurricanes was frightening.

That became somewhat the main story, Yet I wondered about the Heron?  Was the town manager responsible for the new circle sculpture.  It was a puzzle to me, but  local insiders said the manager was too busy with the storm and assigned the sculpture project to a local women’s garden club.   Said manager actually had a snicker over the birds, upon his departure.

It wasn’t the quality of the two heron’s portrayal.  However the positioning of the two, so like the fowl deed done ” a tirgo”, could hardly go unnoticed.

If that project had occurred in our neighborhood in our time, Jack Hussey  still be circling, looking for a an opening around anything that wasn’t clocking a good time. Plus the heron would not have gone unnoticed.

I’ll get crap about this but it’s too funny to ignore.  Plus during this Christmas season someone ordered the circle’s Christmas tree to cover the birds.  Garden Club?

Any way the heron have some privacy.   And THE EMPEROR WEARS NO CLOTHES.

 

 

FROM BOHUNK TO HAWN (367)

Pivotal Sports Moments and Memories 1959-1985

Symbols are important to athletes.   In the early years I spent as a student , and later as a coach, the BOHUNK BUCKET was “…to die for!” As described in detail in BARTON COLLEGE—Our Century, historian Dr. Jerry McClean details this prize as “…a common wooden bucket”, retained by winners of contests between then Atlantic Christian College and East Carolina college. (AC HIGH SCHOOL vs ECTC). This symbol“…served as a strong incentive to players and fans of the schools. Resulting in hotly contested games and close scores”.

In the early 60’s our sister schools in the North State Conference included East Carolina, Appalachain, Western Carolina, Elon, High Point, Catawba, Lenoir Rhyne, Guilford and varying others. The then symbol of excellence was the Hawn Trophy, named after commissioner , Joby Hawn. A point system determined a league all sports winner.

Our school was low key in money and commitment   Granted there were bright moments, but our 8th of 8 finishes in the Hawn race for more than ten years straight, pointed directly to the proverbial “cows-tail.” Two facilities built in the early 60’s changed this, and my life; the gym and the tennis courts.

In 1972 the college hired David Adkins as the Athletics Director. He also was to coach the newly added soccer team.   David was a quiet leader and a hard worker.   Still he took his licks too, early on.   His first two teams were 1-22.   Team three, however, was 7-5 , featuring a corner turning coach, and some players who had paid their dues.   Adkins teams became the powerhouse of the conference and our district of the NAIA.   Adkins and his players were influential ambassadors for soccer’s development in Wilson and eastern North Carolina.

There was a “bell cow” effect.   Coach Carole Mckeel’s   women’s basketball team won its first conference. title.   Women’s volley team became a “tough out” in league play. The colorful Jack “Doc” Sanford finished his career coaching baseball, his first love.   A delightful leader in his seventieth year, Doc led a special group of youngsters to another formerly rare conference title. During this period Men’s tennis won 11conference titles and two NAIA team tennis championships (1979 and 1984). The first in North Carolina history.   “This proves to our students we can compete with anybody.”

Indeed a new culture was born in the 70’s ,   No more clear-cut evidence was there than the Hawn trophy finishes.   Coach Adkins’ years featured a steady climb in the final standings, While Adkins later entered the private business world, the year after he resigned the college job, the Bulldogs finished a historical #2 Hawn finish.. The year after that they won the outright claim to top sports program in this highly competitive conference.   Subsequently there was a three years stretch of Hawn winners.

Gyms and tennis courts and leaders are important.   The college gym was named Wilson/Alumni Gymnasium. I am grateful to the town and alumni.   And for David Adkins.

I’M FREE FALLING (350)

For anyone who is interested in my writing, here are links to my books:

  1. THE LITTLE GREEN BOOK of TENNIS is my opus.
  2. PLAY IS WHERE LIFE IS. My first book.
  3. A LOT ( A Level of Thinking). A mixture of serious and fun items, collected by an old coach.
  4. HELPING.  This includes more tennis, much post-THE LITTLE GREEN BOOK of TENNIS.  Much is a repetition of blog articles.  Maybe more important is the back half of this book , as it chronicles a thorough collection of data on the issue (s) of international college tennis players in the USA.  The history of this ongoing  problem is here.
  5. THANKSGIVING.  This is a hard copy of selected blog articles, writings, family history.  Personal pictures in the back are beach and family/friend/fish oriented.
  6. NEARLY FIFTY.   My friend, Earl  (Country) Boykin of Rock Ridge, N.C,  hosted a  “duck hunting party” for fifty – one years continuously.   It started with the first super bowl. We moved to Back Creek near Bath, N.C.  and did run over a duck. From there to Emerald Isle, N.C. The book reviews, through print and pictures, the principal characters, and some of the events.

RAP (344)

RAP

“…where did you go Joe dDiMaggio, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Wo,wo,wo”

Someone said Bob Dylan’s SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK BLUES was the first rap song.

How about Don McClean’s AMERICAN PIE . Or Billy Joel’s WE DIDN’T LIGHT THE FIRE?

Where is rap? Eminem? Anyone, …Bueller? The fodder is there. Never been more cherries to pick.

  • No shortage of Trump bashing books. Amy Suskind’s THE LIST capsizes all the dishonesty and absurdity in her list (throw enough stuff on the wall and some will stick). Fear-mongering in America is nothing new: Top picks : KKK, the mafia, and the IRS.   Watergate Bob Woodard entitles his book FEAR, highlighting Trump’s proclamation of its effectiveness.
  • Hey, hey hey.   FDR (“we have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”)
  • David Halberstam’s book , THE CHILDREN, cites the courage of the young Nashville college students who led the civil rights protest’s beginning . Led by Diane Nash, James Bevel, Marion Barry and others–the group had to take these fearful actions before their children were born. They saw the chilling effect of fear on their elders, when threats to children and grandchildren were common.

Has there ever been a greater need for young Americans to screw up their courage and to tell the would be emperor he not only is naked, but also stripped of fear?

 

PS vote until the fox is out of the henhouse. Vote only for those who will (1) vote for some form of terms limits and (2) agree to be publicly hung if they renege once elected..

 

With apologies :

Trump is in the Whitehouse,

nation’s in the crap-house.

Manafort, Roger Stone and Cohen,

Off to the jailhouse, they’ll be going.

 

Wall in China, grab vaginas

Stoopid rednecks in Carolinas.

Shut down, shut up, plan unravels,

Oops, Nancy has the gavel.

 

I couldn’t vote for Donald,

You couldn’t vote for Hilary.

Now we’d both would vote for daffy duck,

How much worse could it be?

 

Tax evasion, New York past.

Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity,

What a cast.

Rude, crude, tolerate insanity,

How much longer will you let it be?

 

No dog for Trump, dogs won’t take him

McCain is a loser? What a thing to shout.

Military expertise?, prep school academies!

Vietnam, heel corns, gotta use my daddy’s clout

 

GOP–no more hiding.   Right and wrong are colliding.

On the fence? Vote like Pence?

Come on man, use your sense

 

Iraq I didn’t, Iraq I did,

Tweets and flip-flops, spell like a kid.

Blame Obamas, but give her speech,

First lady, out of reach.

,

See no heroes, neither saints,

Sent poor ‘W”off to paint.

“W” got it right once. This is it:

Trumps’s inauguration: “…ain’t that some weird shit”

 

 

 

 

 

LOOKING FOR LOOP HOLES (228)

Longtime attache:  Mr. Fields, why are you studying the bible at this late date?

W.C. Fields: I’m looking for loopholes.

I am still amazed at the subdued attitudes toward the pope’s denial of the existence of hell.   Bet w.c.  fields would have joined me in celebration.  See blog 223.  I tend to agree with the late Christopher Hitchens’ description that the notion of hell was often used as a form of “child abuse”.  More on Hitchens later.   For now he joins Yuval Harari, Bill Bryson, and Jared Diamond as authors  I have become interested in studying.  And will now recommend through some comments their books contain.

Infinity and eternity are tough to grasp.  Bill Bryson, in his “A Short History of Nearly Everything”,  used this example to explain how long this world has been around (13.5 billion years).  Bryson says if you spread you arms to full wingspan,  the distance from the tip one middle finger to the other represents 13.5 billion years.  The distance from your left middle finger to your right wrist represents earth’s existence before any kind of life appeared.   If you take one finger nail file off the middle finger of that right hand, that would approximate the length of time mankind of today (homo sapiens) has existed.  Did god invent man, or did man invent god?  No mankind before that nail file, no religion.

Below are some excerpts from these authors:

Jared Diamond, The World Until Yesterday

Reasons for religion

  1. The function of explanation 
  2. Defusing anxiety 
  3. Providing comfort 
  4. Organization and obedience   
  5. Codes of behavior towards strangers
  6. Justifying war

Table 9.2. Examples of supernatural beliefs confined to particular religions

1. There is a monkey god who travels thousands of kilometers at a single somersault. (Hindu)

2. You can obtain benefits from the spirits by spending four days in a lonely place without food and water and cutting off a finger joint from your left hand. (Crow Indians)

3. A woman who had not been fertilized by a man became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy, whose body eventually after his death was carried up to a place called heaven, often represented as being located in the sky. (Catholic)

4. A shaman, who is paid for his efforts, sits in a house in dim light together with all of the village’s adults, who close their eyes. The shaman goes to the bottom of the ocean, where he pacifies the sea goddess who had been causing misfortunes. (Inuit)

5. To determine whether a person accused of adultery is guilty, force-feed a poisonous paste to a chicken. If the chicken does not die, that means that the accused person was innocent. (Azande)

6. Men who sacrifice their lives in battle for the religion will be carried to a heaven populated by beautiful virgin women. (Islam)

7. On Tepeyac Hill north of Mexico City in 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to a Christianized Indian, spoke to him in Nahuatl (the Aztec language, at that time still widely spoken there), and enabled him to pick roses in a desert area where roses normally can’t grow. (Mexican Catholic)

8. On a hilltop near Manchester Village in western New York State on September 21, 1823, the Angel Moroni appeared to a man named Joseph Smith and revealed to him buried golden plates awaiting translation as a lost book of the Bible, the Book of Mormon. (Mormon)

9. A supernatural being gave a chunk of desert in the Middle East to the being’s favorite group of people, as their home forever. (Jewish)

10. In the 1880s God appeared to a Paiute Indian named Wovoka during a solar eclipse, and informed him that in two years buffalo would again fill the plains and white men would vanish, provided that Indians took part in a ritual called the Ghost Dance.

Get this—yesterday at swimming pool gossip hour, a community friend pointed out that a local resident was actually arrested for this scam:  selling the fact that for a certain amount of money he could earn you access  to god, who in turn would grant you the kind of strength the salesman had demonstrated (among others feats, he tore a phone book in two! ) ps –an addendum to this addendum relates there  actually were two family members charged in the scam.  And, in fact, the two had an earlier disagreement about the money split, so one broke off into his own connection to god.  From 13.5 b till yesterday a new religion from Lands End!  Sounds like the Baptists.

VIRGINS.     The copy below shows an amazing number of virgin births.  I couldn’t help wondering if at least one of these virgin’s fathers didn’t concoct this theory as an “out” for a beloved daughter?

Christopher Hitchens “God is Not Great”

As for Bethlehem, I suppose I would be willing to concede to Mr. Prager that on a good day, I would feel safe enough standing around outside the Church of the Nativity as evening came on. It is in Bethlehem, not far from Jerusalem, that many believe that, with the cooperation of an immaculately conceived virgin, god was delivered of a son.

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was in this wise. When his mother, Mary, was espoused to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” Yes, and the Greek demigod Perseus was born when the god Jupiter visited the virgin Danae as a shower of gold and got her with child. The god Buddha was born through an opening in his mother’s flank. Catlicus the serpent-skirted caught a little ball of feathers from the sky and hid it in her bosom, and the Aztec god Huitzilopochtii was thus conceived. The virgin Nana took a pomegranate from the tree watered by the blood of the slain Agdestris, and laid it in her bosom, and gave birth to the god Attis. The virgin daughter of a Mongol king awoke one night and found herself bathed in a great light, which caused her to give birth to Genghis Khan. Krishna was born of the virgin Devaka. Horus was born of the virgin Isis. Mercury was born of the virgin Maia. Romulus was born of the virgin Rhea Sylvia. For some reason, many religions force themselves to think of the birth canal as a one-way street, and even the Koran treats the Virgin Mary with reverence. However, this made no difference during the Crusades, when a papal army set out to recapture Bethlehem and Jerusalem from the Muslims, incidentally destroying many Jewish communities and sacking heretical Christian Byzantium along the way, and inflicted a massacre in the narrow streets of Jerusalem, where, according to the hysterical and gleeful chroniclers, the spilled blood reached up to the bridles of the horses.

 


The Future?

“Sapiens” by Yuval Harari  is thought provoking.  President Obama and Bill Gates listed it on top of their reading recommendations.  And, as slow as the first 13 billion moved, the immediate past and present have picked up the pace.  Harari points to the computer as the clue to the hastening developments. Not the least of which is our increasing ability to gain “data”.  An acceleration of data collection will truly be rapid. So much so that Harari’s next book “Homo Deus” (man god) contends that the next version of man will differ from the homo sapiens we are today into a newcomer as different from us as we are from neanderthals.  Heavy.

I don’t know who will win the lottery prediction of mankind’s end.   Most have suggested we better be ready Thursday or so.  But looking at the scope of our past and speed of change, aren’t we perhaps just at the beginning, not the end?

Truth as the goal?

Is the truth what we should pursue, if not worship?  We are witnessing artificial intelligence galloping forward. New knees were unthinkable not long ago. New brain in the future?  No way?  Harari would say not long now.  Would it not follow that soon one would not have more evidence than faith to lean on.  Hitchens says exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence.  What I do believe is that Hitchens deserves  the right to be an “antithesis” rather than an atheist.   Certainly Americans have the right to freedom of thought.   And who knows,  the data required to unleash the many mysteries of life and beyond, may be nearer than we know.

Christopher Hitchens “God is Not Great”

Chapter 15 – Religion as the Original Sin
There are, indeed, several ways in which religion is not just amoral, but positively immoral. And these faults and crimes are not to be found in the behavior of its adherents (which can sometimes be exemplary) but in its original precepts. These include:

• Presenting a false picture of the world to the innocent and the credulous
• The doctrine of blood sacrifice
• The doctrine of atonement
• The doctrine of eternal reward and/or punishment
• The imposition of impossible tasks and rules

Chapter 16 – Is Religion Child Abuse?
When we consider whether religion has “done more harm than good”—not that this would say anything at all about its truth or authenticity—we are faced with an imponderably large question. How can we ever know how many children had their psychological and physical lives irreparably maimed by the compulsory inculcation of faith? This is almost as hard to determine as the number of spiritual and religious dreams and visions that came “true,” which in order to possess even a minimal claim to value would have to be measured against all the unrecorded and unremembered ones that did not. But we can be sure that religion has always hoped to practice upon the unformed and undefended minds of the young, and has gone to great lengths to make sure of this privilege by making alliances with secular powers in the material world.

Chapter 19 – The Need for a New Enlightenment
“The true value of a man is not determined by his possession, supposed or real, of Truth, but rather by his sincere exertion to get to the Truth. It is not possession of the Truth, but rather the pursuit of Truth by which he extends his powers and in which his ever-growing perfectibility is to be found. Possession makes one passive, indolent, and proud. If God were to hold all Truth concealed in his right hand, and in his left only the steady and diligent drive for Truth, albeit with the proviso that I would always and forever err in the process, and to offer me the choice, I would with all humility take the left hand.” —GOTTHOLD LESSING, ANTI-GOKZ.E (1778)

“The Messiah Is Not Coming—and He’s Not Even Going to Call!” — ISRAELI HIT TUNE IN 2001

 

Yuval Noah Harari 

In the 300 years of the crucifixion of Christ to the conversion of Emperor Constantine, polytheistic Roman emperors initiated no more than four general persecutions of Christians. Local administrators and governors incited some anti-Christian violence of their own. Still, if we combine all the victims of all these persecutions, it turns out that in these three centuries the polytheistic Romans killed no more than a few thousand Christians. In contrast, over the course, of the next 1,500 years, Christians slaughtered Christians by the millions, to defend slightly different interpretations of the religion of love and compassion.

 

George Carlin

Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!

But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money!

 

W.H. Auden, “The More Loving One”

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That for all they care, I can go to hell.

 

Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

The various forms of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people to be equally true, by the philosopher as equally false, and by the magistrate as equally useful.

 

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another)… There are just some kind of men who – who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.

 

Garrison Keillor

Anyone who thinks sitting in church can make you a Christian must also think that sitting in a garage can make you a car.

 

Stephen King

When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, “Why god? Why me?” and the thundering voice of God answered, There’s just something about you that pisses me off.

TRY AGAIN (209)

I heard a rumor that the USTA tried to buy the rights to pickleball.  No deal.

  1. Try again.  Why?
  2. Pickleball has sold itself already.
  3. The USTA has never sold a leadup game that can match pickleball’s potential.
  4. Pickleball can add 8 million USTA memberships over the next few years.
  5. How many kids like the Williams sisters didn’t have a father who made that effort? Minority kids, as well as poor kids can gain access to this game.  And it will erase the feeling that “…that game is too rich for me (or mine).”
  6. The issue bigger than pickleball, the USTA, or tennis, is the health of our youngsters. Public education should include embrace pickleball by lining school tennis courts for pickleball, and including it in the physical education curriculum.
  7. My guess is the links between pickleball and tennis and not only many new players, but some very talented players,will emerge.