Pretty Soon We’ll All Be Considered Idiots

Henry David Thoreau

“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”

― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Nowadays most of us consider ourselves to be of average intelligence or better, even those of us who aren’t.  It won’t be long, though, before future generations look back, shake their heads, and say to themselves, “what a bunch of idiots they were.”

We do that to previous generations, and future generations will do it to us. We laugh at those primitive people who thought the Earth was flat or that the Earth was the center of the Universe and everything else spun around it. Ha ha. What a bunch of idiots they were.

Many ancient people believed that the stars were gods, especially the sun. Nobody really knows what Gods might exist, so I won’t make fun of the dozens of Norse, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman gods that people worshipped in days of old. However, when I think about the people who thought that human sacrifices to these gods would bring about a good harvest, I have to think, “What a bunch of idiots they were.”

Most of the Native Americans who died after the European colonization of America died as a result of diseases brought here from Europe for which they had no immunity. That was tragic, but when our ancestors purposely gave them smallpox infected blankets to the Native Americans, that was genocide. We can’t deny it. We can’t look back favorably on those actions.

The microscope wasn’t invented until the 16th century, so I won’t make fun of the early surgeons who had no concept of germ theory and didn’t wash their hands before operating. However, when I think about the practice of bloodletting, I can’t help but think, “What a bunch of idiots they were.”

George Washington, the first President of the United States, woke up at 2 a.m. on Dec. 14, 1799, with a sore throat. After a series of medical procedures, including the draining of nearly 40 percent of his blood, he died. According to Wikipedia, bloodletting is claimed to have been the most common medical practice performed by surgeons from antiquity until the late 19th century, a span of almost 2,000 years. By today’s standards, those doctors were absolute idiots.

Thomas Jefferson penned the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” He campaigned against the evils of slavery, yet, he was the second-largest slave holder in the State of Virginia. He was considered one of the most enlightened men of his generation, but as the years roll by we look back and wonder how a man of his awesome intellect could have possibly missed the terrible irony of his inaction to free his own slaves.

Many people are outraged today when Football players take a knee during the playing of the National anthem. The really outrageous thing, though, is that back when Francis Scott Key wrote his glorious praise for “the land of the free” 20 percent of the population consisted of slaves. Incredibly, 200 years later people are still discriminated against and even killed just because of the color of their skin.

The Englishman Alan Turing, who said, “Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine” broke the German Enigma code. He was very instrumental in beating the Nazis in World War II. It is estimated that his efforts shortened the war by two years and that his code-breaking machine may have saved 12 million lives. The machine he created was also the forerunner of today’s computers. Instead of being heaped with praise by his government, he was threatened with imprisonment when they found out that he was a homosexual. Imagine that. What a bunch of idiots they were.

How many innocent people were executed as witches in Europe and in Salem, Massachusetts? Speaking of witch hunts, we Americans pride ourselves for our Freedom of Speech, yet we allowed McCarthyism to ruin the lives of many Americans who exercised that right. What a bunch of idiots.

Cigarettes! Remember when they were really cool? Just watch any old movie and you’ll see everyone lighting up and enjoying those cancer sticks. What a bunch of idiots.

Remember when the government thought Prohibition was the answer to alcohol problems. Gangsters like Al Capone loved that solution. And how many kids went to prison for simply smoking a marijuana joint? Reefer Madness! The madness was the law that criminalized something that today is prescribed as a medical treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Cord Injury, Cancer, HIV/AIDS, Arthritis, Epilepsy, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Insomnia, and End of Life Care. What bunch of idiots classified it as a narcotic?

Yes, looking back we can see many examples of how our ancestors appeared to be total idiots. But wipe that smug grin off your faces. It won’t be long before future generations look back at us with the same amazement.

The cruelty of the Inquisition was a long time ago, and we no longer believe in human sacrifice to appease the gods, but we do have religious leaders who preach that the killing of infidels will guarantee 71 virgins in heaven. Others preach that the earth is 6000 years old and that dinosaurs co-existed with early man. Mormons preach that Jesus lived for a while in North America, and the Catholic Church has protected many pedophile priests. We talk of religious freedom, but if you say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” some supposed Christians will get extremely irate.

We also have the issue of gun violence in schools. Someday people will look back on that and wonder what a bunch of idiots we were. The families of police and firefighters live with the constant worry that their loved ones will be injured or killed while performing their duty. That is extremely unfortunate, but it is a total abomination that parents of young school children must live with those very same worries.

The Cold War concept of Mutually Assured Destruction with the proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is another head scratcher. We only hope that people will be around to look back at that and wonder how stupid we were to build enough nuclear weapons to destroy the entire planet multiple times over. Now we have tons of unused weapons that we don’t know how to safely destroy, yet, the leaders in North Korea and Iran want to build more.

Global Climate Change is another big problem that we refuse to face. Someday, people living inland will probably wonder why we didn’t take steps to avoid that. I think our blindness to the problem is some kind of reaction to the Y2K problem, which was successfully averted by governments and private industry spending billions to prevent it. When planes didn’t fall out of the sky, banks didn’t crash, and government services didn’t collapse on January 1, 2000, many people thought the whole thing was a hoax. They didn’t understand the massive effort that was made to prevent the disaster. So now they look at the impending climate disaster as just another hoax. Hopefully, we will snap out of it before it is too late to do something about the problem.

On top of all that, we also made Donald Trump the leader of the free world. How crazy is that? What will future generations think of that bonehead maneuver?

We are the best educated generation in the history of the world. Through libraries and the Internet, we have access to the greatest thinkers of our time, and the wisdom of the ages. We have replaced widespread illiteracy with almost universal literacy, and yet, when future generations look back upon us they will wonder how we could have been such incredible jerks.

Let’s all try to be just a little smarter and make future generations proud to call us their ancestors.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

 

 

 

The Dream is Over

The dream is over, but fond memories remain. The Lancaster Barnstormers made it to the fifth and final game of the Atlantic League Freedom Division playoffs before succumbing to the Sugarland Skeeters. On the same day, the Long Island Ducks defeated the Somerset Patriots to win the Liberty Division playoffs. So, the Sugarland Skeeters will play the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League Championship series and the Barnstormer players will try to sign on with minor league teams in the Mexican or Latin American leagues that play during the winter. Anything is better than a 9-5 job for somebody who loves to play baseball.

The baseball season is over, but, fortunately, there are still plenty of things to do here in Lancaster. There will be movie nights at the stadium while the weather is still warm. The Disney movie Finding Dory will play on the big outfield screen this weekend.   The Dutchland Rollers Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby team still has one home game left in their season. I’ll be there on October 13 when my favorite skaters go on the track. I can still listen to the Eagles games on 97.1 Sox radio. I’m also planning to go to a few college football games during baseball’s off season. Franklin & Marshall College is just a few blocks from my apartment. I will, of course, follow Harness Racing, but only on the Internet, as the nearest Harness track is an hour away in Philadelphia.  There is still a buggy that goes right past my apartment around 1 a.m. every Sunday evening.  I look forward to hearing that clip-clop every week.

I will be part of the hot stove circuit and sit around talking about the baseball season that just ended and eagerly await the new season to come. There are plenty of memories to get me through the winter. I’ll remember the annual pre-season game against the Lancaster Bible College. I loved shouting out “Thou shalt not steal” every time one of the Bible College kids reached first base.

I’ll remember opening day with my friends Crazy Debbie, Mike, and Denise. I’ll remember the games I went to with Brother X and my friend John. They still tease me about the time I threw out the first pitch and bounced the ball a few feet in front of home plate. I’ll remember the last game of the regular season when I caught a foul ball. I didn’t really catch it. I was sitting behind the netting behind home plate and a foul ball went straight back over the net and bounced off the 2nd deck. It bounced a few times and settled a few feet from where I was sitting. I got up and grabbed the ball. I heard a young kid screech to a halt and give out a big sigh of disappointment as I picked up the baseball before he could get there. I tossed the ball to him and the smile on his face was worth a dozen baseballs. He came over after the game to thank me, and I knew I had helped to make him a fan for life.

Last week, my Aunt Jane and Cousin Debbie came to town from Johnstown Pennsylvania and we went to a playoff game. I brought my “Skeeter Beater” and we watched the Stormers win as Nate Reed pitched a no hitter for 6 & 1/3 innings. Blake Galen hit two homeruns right where I told my relatives he liked to hit. I felt like when Babe Ruth called his homerun to centerfield.

All the action wasn’t just on the field, though. My favorite attraction was the all-you-can-eat chicken and ribs nights on Tuesday and the Wing Wednesdays. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. So, I’ll just let these fond memories roll around my head for a few months and be ready to do it all again next year.

In the meantime, thank you 2018 Stormers for all the memories. Now, Let’s go Ducks. They’re currently trailing two games to nothing in the Championship Series.  Come on, Ducks.  Beat them Skeeters.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

 

 

The Extended Pre-Game Show

Eagle Fans

Sunday, February 4, 2018, the underdog Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl. Thursday, September 6, 2018, the Super Bowl Champion Eagles have the honor of playing the first football game of the 2018-2019 season. They are at home versus the Falcons. The game, as always, is being broadcast on the oldies station, 96.1 Sox FM. It’s my favorite radio station here in Lancaster. They play the best songs of the 60s, 70s, 80’s, and all the Eagle games. Merrill Reese, the voice of the Eagles, is the announcer for the games. I like listening to the games, instead of watching them on TV. It reminds me of when I was a kid with my transistor radio listening to Yankee games broadcast by Mel Allen, Red Barber, and Phil Rizzuto. Holy cow, the memories.

The pre-game show for the season opener came on an hour before the scheduled kickoff time. It reminded me of one of those broadcasts at a big horse race. A bunch of so-called experts give their reasons why the horse they like cannot lose. Naturally, they are usually wrong. Now, I’m listening to the invisible talking head analysts on the playing field make their predictions for the game and the entire season ahead. They all interrupt each other to embellish their viewpoint. They don’t shut up until somebody someone notices “dangerous weather” heading their way. They read an announcement that lightning storms will be passing over the stadium and the kickoff will be delayed 15 minutes. You can hear the stadium speakers urging the fans to move to safe ground. The talking heads read a note from The Eagles. Please continue the pre-game show until the game starts.

The analysts on the field see a flash of lightning. One of them says, “I’m not staying out here in a lightning storm. I’ve said everything I wanted to say. I’m outta here.”

“Me, too.”

“Me, three.”

“Me, four. Let’s send this broadcast back to the radio studio.”

There is a brief moment of dead air. Then, “Uhh. Hello. This is Helen. I’m here in the studio with Joe. We usually do the weather reports, and speaking of weather, there seems to be a lightning delay in the start of the football game. So, Joe and I are going to bring you an extended pre-game show. Joe, do you know anything about football?”

“Hi, I’m Joe. I like the Eagles. I think that the analysts have pretty much covered all the topics, though. Why don’t we open the phone lines and see how Eagles fans feel about this lightning delay.”

“Great idea, Joe. Our number is 717-555-1212.”

“Okay, Helen and I are waiting for your calls. 717-555-1212.”

Ring. Ring.

“Hello, you’re on the air.”

“Can you hear me?”

“Yes, you’re on the air.”

“Am I on the air?”

“Yes. What do you want to say?”

“I’d like you to play Fly Like and Eagle.”

“We can’t do that.”

“How about We Are the Champions by Queen.”

“We can’t do that, either.”

“How about anything by the Eagles?”

“Sir, this is a broadcast studio, not a record studio. We don’t have any records here.”

“Oh, you suck.”

“Next Caller. What do you want to say about the Eagles?”

“Hi this is Billy from Philly. My girlfriend left me because she said I cared more about the Eagles than her.”

“So you want us to help you get her back.”

“No, screw the bitch. I want to meet girls who are true Eagles fans, not posers.”

“Okay, thank you. Next caller.”

“This is Fran. I’m a true Eagles fan. I’d do Billy from Philly.”

“Next caller.”

“Joe, this is your mother. Don’t forget to pick up milk on your way home.”

“Hi Mom.”

“We’ll be right back to the extended pre-game show right after these commercial messages.”

They weren’t. Apparently, the NFL felt safer with the lightning than the extended pre-game show. They rushed Boyz 2 Men out on the field to sing the National Anthem, and with occasional flashes of lightning illuminating the field, the game began.

The Eagles won the game thanks to several incredible goal-line stands by their defense, and they are on their way to another great season. The rest of the teams played last night and the new football season has begun. Good luck to your team, and Fly Eagles, Fly.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl