Category Archives: current events

You could be forgiven for wondering if yesterdays’ murders by NFL players are CTE-related

“I can say he’s a good kid — he was a good kid, and I think the football messed him up.” — Alonzo Adams, father of Philip Adams, a former college and NFL football player, who killed five people and seriously injured another before killing himself yesterday in South Carolina.

Yesterday, the Palm Beach Sheriffs Office arrested former Florida State and New York Giants wide receiver Travis Rudolph was arrested for first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in a South Florida double shooting.

It’s too early to say that Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is responsible for these killings. CTE is a condition that can result from repeated trauma to the head–like what happens to football players. We won’t know if Rudolph is a CTE victim until he dies.

At some point, Adams will have an autopsy, and we’ll know–but we’ll have moved on to the next thing by then.

Mike Webster was the center for the Pittsburgh Steelers during their glory days, playing for their first four Super Bowl winners (starting at center in Super Bowls XIII and XIV). He’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was named to the NFL’s 75th and 100th anniversary teams, and the all-decade teams for both the 1970s and 1980s. He died in 2002 at the age of 50. He was shown to be disabled while he still played for the Steelers. After his career ended, he suffered from amnesia, dementia, and chronic pain. He lived his last years in his pickup truck and in train stations, in spite of offers to help him from teammates.

Former Steelers center Mike Webster

He was the first former NFL player to be diagnosed with CTE. His estate sued the NFL and won a $1.6 million judgement.

Since then, an All-Star team has come out as suffering from CTE-related maladies. Living players include Tony Dorsett, Mike Adamle, Mark Duper, Brett Favre, Bernie Kosar, Tim Green (a former NFL analyst and novelist), Leonard Marshall, Jim McMahon, Antwaan Randle-El, and Darryl Talley. Randle-El is just 41.

Deceased players include Dwight Clark, Frank Gifford, John Mackey, Earl Morrall, Bubba Smith, Ken Stabler, Aaron Hernandez, and Tommy Nobis.

Former Bears safety Dave Duerson, Falcons safety Ray Easterling, and Chargers and Patriots linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide. Duerson and Seau both shot themselves in the chest so their brains could be autopsied.

Former Chiefs Linebacker Jovan Belcher

Former Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend (and mother of his child), then drove to the Chiefs practice facility and after talking to then-General Manager Scott Pioli, head coach Romeo Crennel, and linebackers coach Gary Gibbs, then shot himself in the head. His autopsy also found CTE.

Hernandez was found guilty of murdering a friend, Odin Lloyd in 2013. Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In April 2017, he was found dead in his prison cell in a Massachusetts prison after hanging himself with a bed sheet.

Former two-sport star Bo Jackson has said that if he knew about CTE, he wouldn’t have played football (and what a baseball star he might’ve been).

Bo Jackson wouldn’t play football if he had to do it over. And he doesn’t want his kids to, either.

It’s possible neither Adams nor Rudolph have CTE. It’s at least equally as likely that one or both do.

Settlements with more than 4,500 players and public pressure have prompted the NFL to amend rules to protect player, but there’s a high likelihood the league knew about the effects of concussions before that knowledge became well-established to the public. And to be fair, the NFL is the last stop for these players, most of whom have played football since childhood. Whatever damage was done, started long before they first put on an NFL jersey.

Unfortunately, because you can’t tell about CTE damages until someone dies–and because by the time players get to the pros, in some cases the damage may already be done, there’s a long road before these tragedies start to abate.

Most of the affected players loved the game, and found a way to focus and achieve. For some, it was a pathway to success that wouldn’t have otherwise been available,

I like football. I’d like to see my team, the Jets, become relevant again. But it bothers me that the sport I’ve enjoyed since Joe Namath days may be driving former players, and sometimes others, to early deaths.

Like Bo Jackson, if my children were interested in playing, I’d probably try to steer them elsewhere.

Football at all levels has started to respond to the CTE issue. Leading with you helmet when you tackle, for instance, has been a penalty for years. Concussion protocols are the norm at most levels of football. Rather than just hustling back out there so you can keep your job, you have to be cleared medically to play.

But in a sport like football, you’ll never eliminate all the head injuries. And there’s enough information available now that players aren’t ignorant of the risks.

In some ways, this is a problem without an absolute solution. In a free society, if someone wants to play football, they should be able to.

These stories will never fully go away. But hopefully as this generation of football players ages into retirement from the game, they’ll start to become less common.


Twitch adds terms to suspend people for outside activities; this is a good thing

The social media platform Twitch, which the young people use for all their gaming stuff, has added offline activity to the list of things that can result in discipline on their platform, up to suspension for an indefinite amount of time. Twitch is working with an “investigations law firm” to validate claims and will also include law enforcement evidence in determining its actions. It won’t take action until the investigation is complete.

Although the actions that could result in discipline include obviously illegal action, such as deadly violence, terrorism, sexual assault, and grooming children for sexual assault, they’ve said the guidelines are iterative, which means they’re likely to grow. The company, which is owned by Amazon, said it’s concentrating on the most harmful first.

Twitch is one of the channels used by professional gamers (God help us all) to monetize their gaming. If you talk to my son, he’ll tell you all about it (the same way I could’ve told you about the MTV back in the day).

In a sense, it’s where gamers go to work. They can monetizing their gaming on Twitch. If that’s the case, rather than being an intrusion on freedom, these moves could be more akin to a professional sports league suspending or banning a player for similar actions.

The move came after a guy named Dominykas Zeglaitis, an online personality, was accused of raping a woman who was intoxicated at a group video Zeglaitis appeared in. The Vlog Squad, an online group Zeglaitis was part of, admitted that Zeglaitis, charmingly known as Durte Dom, coerced two underaged women into a kiss after providing them alcohol. The women allege that they were too intoxicated to consent to the sexual situations they were put in.

Dominykas Zeglaitis, putz

If an athlete were accused of doing this–and if part of the accusation were confirmed–odds are very good that they’d be suspended based on the protocols agreed upon with that league’s collective bargaining agreement.

It’s possible, given things, that these requirements could extend beyond criminal actions, into the kind of perceived unfairness that’s prompting Republicans to want to strip social media liability protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That hasn’t happened yet.

In the meantime, Twitch is a privately owned social media company that can revoke access as it sees fit. And there are worse things to do than to prevent people who violate the law from accessing social media, especially when those violations involve social media activities.


Libertarianism is dead

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help. – Ronald Reagan.

CNN reports that a bill that would reverse a 28-year ban on yoga instruction in public schools stalled in committee. Republican opponents were worried that the practice would introduce Hinduism into schools. I’ve personally done Yoga by Adrienne two version of P90X yoga. A friend’s daughter teaches yoga. In my research about Fibromyalgia, yoga’s come up a lot as a tool to help reduce stress and fight the condition.

P90X’s Tony Horton, leading people to Hinduism since 2005.

The word Hindu never came up in any of that.

Mitch McConnell warned corporations to stay out of politics this week. His warning came after threats to pull Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption after they moved the All-Star Game out of Atlanta. The Georgia state legislature is considering removing Delta’s break on jet-fuel costs, as well.

There’s more, but the point’s already been made.

The Republican Party used to have a strong libertarian streak, made obvious by President Reagan’s remark and approach to governing.

In the 1990s, Bill Clinton famously said “The era of Big Government is over.” These days, the era or big government being over are over.

Republicans, who used to believe that the government that governs least governs best, now believe that the government that intervenes as much as Democrats (but to a different end). No one in government believes in limiting government power or reach.

Government has a place in a civil society. As much as liberals like to claim libertarians would forsake the socialist fire and police departments and socialist roads and the like. Most libertarians understand that libertarianism doesn’t mean no government; it means appropriate government.

Government should do the least amount possible to maintain peace and reasonable fairness, and then allow people to make their own way.

Republicans would do better paying attention to financial shenanigans and working on creating reasonable tools to respond to things like worldwide pandemics, so we don’t unilaterally give control to whoever happens to head the executive branch. They could look for ways to prevent things like the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Instead, they’re not only pandering to their base, they’re using their power to cook the electoral books and to punish anyone who doesn’t fall into line.

People who believe in limited government have no place to go. Libertarians don’t need to win every time to add value, but they should be there to act as a counterweight to the idea that every government solution just needs a problem to apply itself to.


When the government extorts companies into “right” thinking, that’s a scary development.

Eight Georgia state representatives have declared their offices Coke-free zones and have requested that all Coke products (there’s a lot more than you think) should be removed from their office suites because Coke has come out against Georgia’s voting legislation.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott declined an invitation to throw out the first pitch at the Rangers home opener after Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the All-Star Game would be moved out of Atlanta this summer. Abbott also said that no city in Texas would seek to host the All-Star Game or any other MLB special event. (The Rangers are a likely venue for the All-Star game considering their new wareho…baseball palace built just outside Dallas.)

Globe Life Warehouse, the Rangers’ new baseball palace

Republican Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas have called for the revocation of Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption because of the All-Star move. Cruz went so far as to post a list of MLB official sponsors, asking if they all hate the 75 million people who voted for Donald Trump.

To the best of my knowledge, no one has called for air traffic controllers to stop routing Delta flights after they criticized the new voting laws, but the week’s still young yet. But the Georgia state house voted to eliminate Delta’s $35 million jet-fuel tax break–it’s unlikely to become law soon. A similar tax break was removed after Delta stopped offering NRA members a discount, but it was quietly added back later.

The high irony of this is that Democrats were getting ready to boycott MLB, Coke, Delta, and other companies if they didn’t come out against the laws, and several have called for those companies to move their corporate headquarters (’cause that’s something you can do in the space of a week).

These companies didn’t act in a vacuum. Had MLB not acted, there’s a decent chance the All-Star Game could’ve been boycotted by its own players–a public relations nightmare no sane organization would want. And Delta, Coke, and the rest have to consider their employees and customer base.

In short, these companies can’t win. Either they hate (Senator Cruz’s words) every single person who voted against Trump, or they hate every single person who’s not a straight white Christian male.

In a free society, you get to disagree with the government. And while state legislators are free to stock their offices with what they want (mine stocked the fridge with beer and got after me if it didn’t get used quickly enough), state governments and the federal government shouldn’t be using their legislative powers to extort companies into supporting their legislative agenda.

Can you imaging the howling out of Ted Cruz and Mike Lee if Chuck Schumer threatened MLB’s antitrust exemption because they didn’t cut back enough on air travel (which contributes to climate change)? You wouldn’t need FOX News to hear them; you could just open the window.

We’re moving far past the time when you can have a legitimate disagreement without having to pay because a segment of society doesn’t like your stance. The difference is, the Democrats are massing on Twitter for a boycott, while Republicans are using the government to coerce companies away from wrong thinking, which will be punished, to right thinking, which will be rewarded.

I

One of those approaches is chillingly Orwellian.


Moving the All-Star Game was a private organization making a business decision. I’d watch either way.

I just want to watch a ballgame.

Unfortunately, even baseball is a front on the cultural wars.

This year’s All-Star Game–the first since 2019–was scheduled to be played in the Atlanta Braves’ new stadium north of Atlanta. The stadium–Truist Park–opened in 2017 after the team completed its 20-year lease at Turner Field, close to downtown Atlanta and mass transport. Truist Park, originally SunTrust Park, is about 10 miles northwest of downtown.

Truist Park, the Braves baseball palace

In justifying the need for a stadium, the team said people stayed away because of the traffic and parking and that Turner Field “doesn’t match up with where the majority of our fans come from.” The team also said the stadium needed substantial funding for upkeep, as well as $200 million for upgrades to improve the fan experience.

Turner Field, the Braves’ hopelessly outdated 20-year-old stadium

Not everyone saw it that way. Some thought the team wanted to cater to white suburban fans, who didn’t want to attend a game in the predominantly black Summerhill neighborhood adjacent to Turner Field. At the time the move was being considered, Summerhill had a lower crime rate than some of the neighborhoods around the Braves new Cobb County home.

It’s no secret that the people in the Summerhill neighborhood aren’t likely to be Braves fans or baseball fans. While baseball has a diverse population of players, as of last opening day, less than 8% of players on Major League rosters were black. That’s less than half or what it was forty seasons ago (18.7%).

In addition, with 45% of black children living under the poverty line, it’s hard to justify the cost of equipment, let alone the increases cost of travel teams for the best players. While football’s more expensive to play than baseball, it’s appointment viewing seventeen–now eighteen weekends each fall. And basketball is culturally relevant, in part because all you need is a ball and a hoop to play.

Baseball has a demographics problem, one it’s trying hard to resolve. And the numbers, while low, are starting to increase.

The last thing it needed was a boycott of the All-Star Game–a marquee event in the dead spot between basketball and football–because of the recently passed election regulations in Georgia.

Because the Dodgers won the World Series last fall, manager Dave Roberts is set to manage the National League All-Star team. He said he would consider not managing the game. If he were to pass, Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, one of the best players in the game, could reasonably be expected to follow suit. They might be the first dominos to fall, leaving baseball’s lack of popularity among blacks and low number of black players to be news fodder during the relative news doldrums of the summer.

Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts might not draw attention from potential black fans for playing the All-Star Game, but they’d notice if he boycotts.

The racial overtones of the team’s decision to move to the suburbs would’ve been frosting for the media’s inevitable feeding frenzy.

Moving the All-Star game was an inevitable business decisions for a sport that’s doing well, but looking at a potential work stoppage this winter, along with a fan base that’s aging and demographically shrinking (white dudes, like me).

While the All-Star Game isn’t the draw it used to be for me, if Major League Baseball hadn’t moved the game, I’d have watched baseball. Now that they have moved the game, I’ll watch baseball. It’s not a statement on racism, fascism, communism, voting rights, reasonable voting requirements, or anything else.

I like baseball.

I also don’t see an issue with requiring ID vote. But the Georgia law went well beyond that reasonable requirement.

And that’s not why the All-Star Game was moved anyway. It was a business decision made by a white man (Commissioner Rob Manfred) whose constituents (29 of 30 franchise owners) don’t want to lose money.

In a capitalist society, owners get to do things like that to maximize their investment. In almost any other situation, the people demanding a boycott over the move would be defending the owners’s rights to do as they please.


I’d never want to be on the Derek Chauvin jury

When Casey Anthony was acquitted, I was on the fringes of an online conversation about publicly identifying the jurors on that case. The people having the discussion, who disagreed with the verdict, said they had a right to know, and that if the jurors believed in their verdict they should be willing to publicly stand behind it.

After the trial, juror number 12, a woman in her 60s who worked at Publix, quit her job and moved out of Florida as the result of the verdict.

Although, the jurors in the George Floyd trial haven’t been publicly identified yet, theirs is a difficult job. This Politico story capsulizes the fear in its lead:

One prospective juror’s voice quivered as she told attorneys during jury selection that she feared for her family’s safety if chosen for the panel that will decide the fate of a white former police officer charged with killing George Floyd.

If Derek Chauvin isn’t convicted of a material crime, it’s a safe bet that the same protests and riots that occurred after his death last year will occur again. It’s a similarly safe bet that the narrative after will be “We all saw Chauvin kill that man. For the jury to find what it did, they must all be racist.”

Derek Chauvin. Pool via REUTERS

Years ago, I was on a jury. Both the accused and the victim had a long criminal past. The case involved the theft of a cell phone. The accused’s, umm, narrative of what actually happened was so ridiculous that the prosecuting attorney verged on ridiculing him about it. I’m pretty sure he perjured himself and I was certain he stole the cell phone (later, he put it back, making us all wonder why we even heard the case).

But our job wasn’t to determine whether we thought the accused did it. We were there to determine whether the prosecution proved he did it beyond a reasonable doubt. In our assessment, they didn’t. Several of us on the jury really wanted to find this guy guilty, but the trial didn’t provide the proof we needed to do so.

The jury in the Floyd case has the same charge–determine whether the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Derek Chauvin was guilty of the charges leveled against him. For any jury–this one, the Casey Anthony jury, the OJ jury–to ignore those rules and find on the basis of their thoughts independent of the proof provided in the trial is called jury nullification.

Personally, having done so once, I have no doubt in my ability to cast my vote based on the evidence provided, regardless whether I thought the accused did it.

Which takes me back to the quote from the Politico story.

It’s clear that the loudest voices concerned with this trial will expect nothing less than a guilty verdict on a charge that carries a significant penalty. It’s equally clear that some of those voices will be moved to anger and potentially violence if that’s not what happens. The juror referenced above, who was dismissed to her great relief, isn’t paranoid in her fear.

So what do you do if the prosecution doesn’t meet the standard for conviction?

The rules say to acquit. But if your name ever got out or if someone figured out you were a juror, everyone around you would brand you an accessory to a racially motivated murder. It would bring danger on you, your family, even your employer.

The people serving on that jury are taking that chance and should be applauded for it.

Regardless of the verdict, their privacy must be considered classified information, and in an ideal world, there would be criminal consequences for outing them.

Personally, I’m not sure I’d serve on that jury. If I did, and we did acquit, I would tell my entire family and all my friends to disown me as publicly as possible, for their own safety.

Maybe I’m paranoid about this and perhaps a touch racist myself.


DC’s proposed sugary drinks tax is patronizing, targets the poor, and doesn’t address the damn problem (brings in tax revenue, though)

One of the great parts about being a real grown-up boy, beyond saying up as late as I want (which isn’t that damn late any more) is the ability to eat and drink what I want, when I want. Outside my primary care physician, no one gets to give me crap about what I eat.

As a responsible adult, I like it that way.

Then again, I don’t live in the District of Columbia, which may enact a new 15 cents per ounce tax on sugary drinks, such as sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks. Presumably, the big vat of desert you get at Starbuck’s that also includes seven drops of coffee isn’t part of this utopian plan to end all bad things in the nation’s capital.

41 million calories in this picture, but this is not a sugary drink in DC

The surcharge, which would be directly applied to the cost of the drinks, presumably as opposed to being added at the register. (That way it’s not the city government gouging you, it’s the soda company or the store.) It would add $2 to a twelve-pack of sodas.

The tax’s sponsor, council member Mary Cheh, calls it the Nutrition Equity Bill because…I don’t know exactly. I’m not sure how it’s equitable for people with money to jump in a car and drive to Maryland or Virginia to save money on their fix while people who can’t afford that are stuck paying more.

The goal is to reduce obesity and diabeetus, especially among lower-income neighborhoods, which have higher rates of both.

In council member Cheh’s world, it’s okay to extort money from poor people for drinking soda. Beyond that world, it’s not okay to have a conversation about obesity and diabetes, because of hurt feelings and body shaming. While it’s okay for Meagan Trainor to trash skinny bitches (it’s all about that base) and that’s okay, we all have to say Lizzo’s body is absolutely perfect the way it is and there’s nothing she might need to improve for health purposes.

In summary, there’s no problem that can’t be solved by adding to the city’s tax revenue.

What council member Cheh doesn’t take into account is the law of unintended consequences. People who aren’t inclined to eat veggies and tofu won’t start because you made their Coke fix more expensive. They’ll:

  • Figure out a way to get it from Maryland or Virginia, or
  • Switch to diet, which has its own host of health issues, or
  • Buy it on the newly established Mountain Dew black market, or
  • Cut back on the small amount of healthful food they do eat so there’s money for the Cokes.
Come on, man. The first one is free. You know you want it.

The money raised by the taxes will fund a program by which the District’s homeless shelters would be required to serve urban camping enthusiasts (the homeless) healthier meals because the only thing standing between them and health is the option of having riced cauliflower at the soup kitchen.

Some of the money will also be used for grants to support nutrition education, cooking lessons, and gardens at shelters and transitional housing.

Meanwhile, the evil capitalist oppressors (that is, taxpayers) will get all sugared up on their vanilla latte mochaccino belt buster while they run to the suburbs for a 19,000 calorie lunch of bacon-wrapped chicken strips fried in lard with a vat of Coke that would cost $12 million if it were served in the District.

Or we could start raising children that could be coached on healthful habits and the understanding that while Krispy Kreme’s are fun once in a while, the Krispy Kreme Diet will make you look like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow man, and raise Wilford Brimley from the grave.


Dr. Walensky is right, and entitled to having her voice crack a bit

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky’s voice cracked as she described what drove her fears of what she sees as a new wave of infections hitting the United States in the coming weeks.

Dr, Samuel Johnson is right about Rochelle Walensky being right. (Blazing Saddles reference)

“I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom…right now I’m scared,” Dr. Walensky said. “I know what it’s like as a physician to stand in that patient room, gowned, gloved, masked shielded, and to be the last person to touch someone else’s loved one because their loved one couldn’t be there.

“I know what it’s like when you’re the physician, when you’re the healthcare provider, and you’re worried that you don’t have the resources to take care of the patients in front of you. I know that feeling of nausea when you read the crisis standards of care, and you wonder whether there are going to be enough ventilators to go around and who’s going to make that choice. And I know what it’s like to pull up to your hospital every day and see the extra morgue sitting outside.”

After three months of dropping the Covid infection and hospitalization rates have started to increase again, mirroring the start of an increase in Europe a few weeks ago. Dr. Walensky has asked that people continue to follow CDC guidance around masking and social distancing as vaccinations continue.

President Biden has asked that governors restore mask mandates if they took them away–or impose one if they never had one.

To be clear, neither Dr. Walensky or President Biden has called for shutdowns or business closures as a part of their requests. Dr, Walenkey seemed to imply that following the protocols could reduce the need for such actions.

I hate frigging masks. I hate sitting in my damn house every damn day. I hate taking a mask with me when I run in case I might need one. It’s stupid and annoying. And for the moment, it’s necessary.

As many things as Gavin Newsom has screwed up as governor or California, he’s gotten on thing right: openings and lockdowns should be data based. As the numbers go up, restrictions should increase. As they go down, restrictions should decrease. Fear, intuition, or “common sense” about what numbers might do in the future shouldn’t dictate what happens. We will always live in a world where Covid rates might go up, so we have to act when they do go up.

The Gavinator passes the Fezzik test. Sort of. A little.

Governors and state legislatures should also take the opportunity to develop crisis management plans that include a framework of data-based actions, based on something other than a governor’s or set of bureaucrats whims. Now that we’ve been through this, the arbitrary nature of such restrictions, based on executive fiat, is unnecessary.

When you’re told you can play catch with an American mini-football, but not a regular football or that you can go to the store to buy liquor and lottery tickets, but not seeds (which eliminate a need to go to the store down the road when the food grows), you can be excused for thinking there’s no rationale behind the restrictions–and including an established appears process when someone has a reasonable complaint.

No Covid here. Science Some bureaucrat in Sacramento said so.

That said, Dr. Walinsky is correct. She wasn’t a jerk about it. She was effectively begging people to wear masks and get vaccinated. If you’re put off by that, maybe you need a supplement for your paper-thin skin.

Finally, to Dr. Walinsky’s demeanor during her statement, read the quote at the top of this post. All of it’s included for a purpose. Most people have no idea what it’s like to live that life. By the end of the year, if not sooner, the mental-health bill will come due for what those people have had to see and do to get us through this.

In a perfect would, she’d have been as stoic as Mr. Spock during her update. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, the world of the last 12-14 months has been anything but perfect.

Using Dr. Walinsky’s demeanor as a reason to disqualify her or what she said is a weak-stream attempt to mute the discussion.

The bottom line remains the same: please wear a mask when you’re out in public. Follow the (recently loosened) CDC guidelines. Please get vaccinated.

None of these things are the mark of the beast. For a country that used to have the draft, but doesn’t, they’re minor things to ask.

Any day with a Sgt. Hulka reference is a good day.

If you have a problem with that, lighten up.

Francis.


George Segal, 1934-2021

Sitcoms are hardly a high art form. Even the best–All in the Family, Cheers, Seinfeld–are filled with ridiculous plots and two-dimensional characters that wouldn’t be much fun in real life.

The Goldbergs isn’t among the best of them. Rarely has a piece of absolute fiction pissed me off the way it has. Did you see the one where the mom blew through all reasonable boundaries and embarrassed the hell out of her kids? Or the one where Barry was a self-important jerk who proclaimed himself great at something he never worked at? Or the one where Adam perplexed his did with his love of robits and disdain for sports? Or, and this is the worst one, where Jeff Garlin took his pants off and showed you his tighty whities?

Of course you did, because that’s every stupid episode.

And yet I keep watching. Somehow, in spite of the fact that I frequently want to beat each character to death with a brick, the show’s comforting.

And the brick thing isn’t totally fair. I never wanted to beat Pops, the grandfather, played by George Segal.

Pops is clueless half the time and dripping with wisdom the other half. When he’s clueless, it’s because the rest of the family is so insane that no reasonable person would understand.

He kind and wise and infinitely accepting and forgiving. In short, he’s everyone’s ideal grandpa.

Both of my grandfathers died when I was young, and though I loved them both, I had a special relationship with my mom’s dad. I’m pretty sure his death changed me. Both of my grandfathers and that little boy are long since gone. But maybe my affection for that character allows to me scratch an itch I didn’t know I had.

Whatever the reason, it’s Segal’s work that made me want to watch the show. He radiated warmth and made you feel like, to steal a phrase, he was always glad you came.

George Segal’s career spanned six decades on stage, screen, and TV. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Who‘s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and won two Golden Globe Awards. He was a leading man and a supporting actor. In terms of guys I watch because I like their work, he’s never been one of them.

But I really loved him as Pops.

There are worse things in life than for your work to make someone sad when you pass away.

Thanks, George Segal.


After Boulder, something has to be done. But beware of unintended consequences.

I don’t know what it’s like to lose someone to a mass shooting. Odds are overwhelmingly good I’ll never find out. But I imagine I’d have a hard time not being angry at both the shooter and the circumstances that allowed the shooter to do that damage.

In the case of the Boulder King Soopers shooting, I’d struggle to forgive Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa. I’d like to think I’d get there. And if you can’t forgive just yet, wanting to be able to forgive must count for something.

But the shooter’s brother, Ali Aliwi Alissa reported that Ahmad was significantly mentally ill. He was paranoid and according to a quote in The Daily Beast, he’d talk about “being chased, someone is behind him, someone is looking for him.”

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa. (Photo courtesy of Boulder Police Department)

To be clear, I support the Second Amendment as an important part of the US Constitution. In a free society, you get the right to protect yourself, to hunt, and to sport shoot. In a responsible society, we also monitor rights to make sure everyone is safe.

That monitoring needs to be stepped up.

Assuming Ali is correct, it’s fair to ask how the hell someone as messed up as Ahmad was able to own a firearm that would do that much damage. (If he didn’t own it, it’s fair to ask how the hell he got it.)

Because we’re a responsible society, it’s reasonable to put a process in place to remove firearms from people who aren’t mentally stable enough to use them responsibly and to have mental health screening be part of the permitting and ownership process.

But there are complications. The requirements have to be reasonable and follow due process. It’s not paranoia to think that a subset of gun control proponents will use that clause to make it functionally impossible to own firearms. When proponents say a specific proposal is a good start, that means they want more restrictions, potentially a lot more.

Whatever regulations are put in place have to have clear, measurable requirements. In other words, flipping off the person who cut you off in traffic is orders of magnitude away from potentially killing someone and it needs to be treated that way. The standards must be clear and objective.

More important, the regulations cannot discourage people from getting the mental illness help they need. If I own guns and I struggle with depression, I shouldn’t lose my guns simply for seeking counseling to get over a problem, or for taking anti-depressants. If regulations require that, they’ll create an incentive for people who need help to forego it–meaning they won’t get the help they need, resulting in a net increase of risk.

What we have now clearly isn’t working. But that doesn’t mean all forms of gun control are equally valid.

Given the number of firearms available in this country, if you severely restrict legal ownership, we’ll wind up with a crime wave like we’ve never seen before.

In the meantime, there are a lot of stunned and angry people in Boulder today. Because of their loss, they should get to do that.

You ought to be able to go get groceries without getting shot down in cold blood.