Unless it's not real.
Thanks to Dad for the article link.
The big news yesterday was that Cuban president Fidel Castro has apparently decided to call it quits and hand the Cuban government over to his kid brother Raul (incidentally, the kid is 76).
This is not really a huge surprise, as it is commonly believed that Raul has increasingly been running things ever since Fidel suffered a stroke back in 2006.
The elder Castro has led an eventful life over the last 50 years or so, from executing enemies with Che Guevara, to giving big hugs to Nikita Khrushchev, to watching his economy reel under a U.S. trade embargo, but my favorite story about ol' Fidel revolves around baseball.
The story goes that Castro was a promising left-handed pitcher who earned a tryout with the Washington Senators back in the 1940s, but didn't quite make the cut and decided to try his hand at ruthless dictatorship instead.
Unfortunately, as Snopes points out (and rather condescendingly, I might add), this whole story is bogus. Castro has been a supporter of baseball throughout his presidency and actually played for a mock-up team called the Barbudos, or "Bearded Ones" back in the 1950s (pictured above), but like so many of us, was never talented enough to seriously consider playing professionally.
Oh well. I guess it's a little too much to expect a guy to be good at leading an insurrection, killing anyone who stands in his way, opposing a world superpower, stagnating a once thriving economy, and being a generally oppressive Communist dictator, and to have a Major League-caliber fastball.
All I know is that if you were playing against the Barbudos and El Presidente was on the mound, it was probably wise to make sure that you struck out at least once.
- I actually got a pretty good scan of this (i.e., the original looks just like this), which leads me to wonder why it was printed in blue. For one thing, the guy is blue, and for another thing, his blue hair really blends in with the blue background.
- From the looks of him, there's no doubt in my mind that the young man pictured on the cover closely follows all of the rules explained inside. And never leaves the house unless he's in a suit.
- Are there still some of these left over from when they were originally printed (which must have been prior to 1960), or have they just never been re-designed?
- Is there any design that could have been used which would make Bible study seem less interesting than this one does? I'm thinking no.
As part of my job, I spend quite a bit of time with teens (teaching classes, doing service projects, devotionals, fun activities, etc.), but I usually spend the bulk of my time during the week at the church office, doing office-type things.
Any time you work at an office (or really anywhere), you become aware of certain peculiarities and goings-on that are probably particular to your specific workplace.
My situation is no different, and it occurred to me the other day that there were a few interesting characters that I encounter on at least a semi-regular basis who I would like to introduce you to. When I do this, I’ll generally avoid using names to keep it anonymous, but since I'm talking about a 2-year old today, I’m not too worried about him being embarrassed.
Stephen is the youngest son of the church secretary, and he comes to work with her most of the time. Stephen is probably the best-natured little kid I’ve ever been around, and if he’s not smiling, you can usually get him to do so within about 12 seconds.
One of my favorite things to do with Stephen is to cheerfully ask him if he wants to take a nap. He always cheerfully replies “No!” and then tends to get riled up (as I said, it’s one of my favorite things to do, but it isn’t really one of his mother’s favorite things for me to do).
So I like Stephen a lot, but working around a 2-year old has its downside. I share an office with the church secretary, which means Stephen is generally in close proximity to my desk, and it’s not uncommon for me to come in and find my pens on the floor (missing lids), papers on my desk wrinkled or torn, and chocolate smeared all over my chair.
Yesterday, little Stephen managed to get his hands on a crayon, and proceeded to decorate the walls in the church foyer. He looked very contrite afterwards, and fortunately, we were able to get the crayon off with WD-40, so it wasn’t so bad.
Maybe my favorite memory of Stephen though was one day when he was throwing a fit, and to get his mother’s attention, he wrote all over his face with a brown marker. He looked pretty hilarious, so I took a picture of him with my phone and then printed it out and put it on my desk. After that, when he would act up and start fake crying, I would show him the picture of himself with marker all over his face and he would kinda act embarrassed and clam up.
I was pretty pleased with that method, but then one morning, I came into the office and found that Stephen had gotten a hold of the picture of himself and wadded it up. I guess he didn’t find it quite as amusing as I did.
So apparently, my favorite NBA team has traded for my least favorite NBA player.
This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me—the Suns are a fast-paced, athletic, run and gun team while Shaq is slow, plodding and injury-prone.
That being said, the Suns’ major weakness has always been interior defense, and if Shaq can dedicate himself to being primarily a defender who is the third or fourth option on offense, this just might work out.
As far as me not liking him, well, now that he’s older and broken down, I kinda feel sorry for him, and if he turns out to be a team player who helps bring the Suns a championship…
By the end of the day, millions of Americans will have cast a vote for (or in some cases against) a certain candidate in the Super Tuesday primaries. I won’t be one of them.
My not voting has less to do with me being apathetic and not liking politics, and more to do with the fact that I’m still registered in White County and didn’t take the steps necessary to vote absentee.
Nevertheless, the fact that I didn’t vote won’t keep me up at night.
It’s not that I don’t care about political issues. On the contrary, on certain issues, I have very strong opinions, and on one particular issue, my views are so strong that they override everything else when I consider which candidate I should vote for (yeah, I’m one of those people).
Also, being a competitive person myself and a fan of all sorts of sporting events, I find the race for the presidency to be very interesting—contestants are pitted against each other to debate issues, statistics and polls are released, candidates drop out one by one until only the strongest (and Ron Paul) are left standing.
So because I care about some of the issues, and because the spectacle of a presidential race fascinates me, it’s pretty easy for me to get excited about politics sometimes. But then I remember what it is about the political world that I hate so much and turns me off.
First off, politics are deceptive. Okay, so that’s not exactly ground-breaking news, but hear me out. Certainly candidates do their best to make themselves look as appealing as possible and their opponents as bad as possible—they spin statistics, argue semantics and distort history to come across as good as they can—but that's not really the deception I’m talking about.
A salesman is basically someone who works to convince a customer that what the customer currently has is lacking and that his life would be greatly improved by having the salesman’s product instead. A politician is really just a salesman whose product is himself.
Inherent in the political system is the assertion (stated or otherwise) that currently, things are bad, and that they can only be fixed by electing a certain candidate who will change everything for the better.
But really, how bad are things?
People complain about the economy and a possible recession. I understand that there are problems with the economy, but at the end of the day, Americans are the richest people in the world! Who are we to be complaining? A single person making $10,210 (the poverty line in the U.S.) is in the top 13 percent of the richest people in the world! People in the middle class (i.e. people I hear complaining about this all the time) are in the top 1-2 percent!
People complain about the “oppressive” policies of the government. I understand that the Patriot Act creeps some people out, and I understand the concept of a “slippery slope” and how it is all too often used metaphorically to support an argument, but as I wrote about before, this idea that America has suddenly become a country of limited personal freedoms is ridiculous. People rail against the government and its policies every day, and strangely enough, they’re not being thrown into prison or branded with serial numbers.
People complain about the War in Iraq. I understand that many people are violently opposed to the War (irony intended), and I understand that the loss of any human life is tragic. Nevertheless, suggesting that Iraq (and the world) was better off with Saddam Hussein in charge and that the Iraq War is comparable to the Vietnam War (where American deaths were 15 times as high) is questionable at best and manipulative and deceptive at worst.
I don’t mean to imply that the US a perfect utopia; certainly, there are problems in this country, many of them. But to act as if everything is going downhill and our country is on the verge of disaster and that a certain candidate can come and save the day is irresponsible and, well, false.
Secondly, politics are divisive. By nature, they have to be. If all candidates were the same, there would be no reason to vote for anyone, so candidates spend most of their time emphasizing how they are different from each other.
The divisiveness isn’t limited to the candidates themselves. Political differences pit friends and family members against each other, and turn generally even-headed people into raving lunatics. Political differences prompt people (including myself, sadly enough) to question the intelligence, morality and even sanity of each other.
And it’s always like this; divisiveness is just a part of politics. One candidate, who I disagree with on several issues but like to hear speak, has spent a great part of his campaign emphasizing positive ideas like hope and unity, and yet, when push comes to shove, has been negative and divisive in his campaigning just like everyone else.
By the end of the day, the primaries of several more states will have been decided, and maybe we’ll have a better idea of who the nominees will be, but it will be several more months before a new President is elected.
Over that timespan, I’m sure I’ll follow the race with interest and even excitement. But there will be a lot of disgust mixed in there as well—some directed at the candidates, and some at myself as well.
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