Are We Past the Point of Being Allowed an Opinion?

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This has been a pretty amazing last couple of weeks in our country.  We have the Federal Government confirming that same sex marriage is legal, and can take place in all 50 states, and we also have southern states, including South Carolina refusing to fly the Confederate flag any longer.  Two rather large items, that I’m sure anyone with a FaceBook account has seen endless posts about each subject.  The problem that I’m beginning to have as our country turns more and more politically correct on everything is that social media is playing a dirty role.  Social media is now setting the table for what many call ‘public shaming’.  Regardless of your stance on either topic, if you share an opinion that isn’t on the majority side, you will get completely slammed online.  I see this as bad for a couple reasons.  First off, again, we live in the best country in the world.  We have been given the gift of free speech, and we are also a democracy and have the ability to vote our leaders into office.  It is the difference of opinion that makes our country great.  There are plenty of times that we as a society have benefited from debating topics and finding what is the best to move forward.  With the public shaming that has been taking place lately, we are setting up a situation where people won’t feel comfortable sharing their opinions, and we could be losing ideas that would make all of us better.  The second problem with this new fad is that we are losing our ability to form our own opinions.  Its as if people now are going onto social media to see what their stance on a topic ‘should be’, and then forming it from there.  While social media can be a good thing, controversial subjects can also bring out the worst in us.

Even though its my own personal opinion and nobody’s business, I’m all for people marrying whomever they want.  The country is giving the gay and lesbian community more freedom.  Frankly, I don’t think that the Confederate flag should be banned.  Sure, it goes back to the Civil War when the North fought the South, and one of the key points is slavery, which was disgusting, but the decision to ban the flag would be taking away a freedom.  I don’t have a confederate flag, I don’t have any confederate designed clothing, heck I’ve lived in what is considered the ‘North’ my whole life, the ban wouldn’t effect me in any way shape or form.  That said, I’m all for creating freedoms in our great country and not taking them away.

You can agree with my opinions on these topics, or you can 100% disagree with them and think I am a complete idiot, and you know what, thats great.  We all are entitled to our beliefs and that is what makes each of us unique.  The problem I have is this new idea of people being so passionate on social media with their beliefs that they do what they can to take down people who may feel differently.  Our country is finding itself on a slippery slope when it comes to this, the last thing we want to do is to become a bunch of sheep.  We should celebrate our differences of opinion, and work together to find common ground.  While the technology of social media has brought us closer together, the public shaming I have seen as of late is setting us back as a society.

How Can You NOT Find the Prison Escape Compelling?

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By now, unless you have been living under a rock (well the escapees may be), you have heard about the unfathomable escape of two inmates from a Caddyville, New York maximum security prison on June 6.  This prison has been around for over 170 years and has never had a successful escape, so that in itself is amazing, but the fact that the two men have still not been apprehended almost three weeks later, is mind blowing.

I have to admit, I’ve been reading quite a bit about the story, and it brings me back to nearly 100 years ago where criminals were looked at as celebrities of sort.  You had someone like Al Capone in the 1920s, who was a known thief, but was more of a legend than the athletes of the day by a landslide.  My grandfather constantly told me a story about how he saw John Dillinger escape from a Crown Point, Indiana jail with his own eyes in 1934.  As he was running down the street brandishing a gun and then jumping in a car.  He told that story as if he saw the President of the United States.  I can’t imaging our present society now having any feelings of that sort, or even recognizing a known criminal, but this story is quite intriguing.

Of course, by no means can anyone forget why these two men were in prison in the first place.  48 year old Richard Matt has been a lifelong criminal and was serving a sentence for not just murdering his boss, but dismembering him as well.  Meanwhile, 34 year old David Sweat murdered and ran over a police officer after a robbery.  Therefore, these men should be kept behind bars.

However, from a high level view, this is turning into a sappy LifeTime movie.  You have two men escape from a maximum security prison supposedly with the help of a female guard, 51 year old Joyce Mitchell, who is at least rumored to be sleeping with the both of them.  She smuggled in two hacksaws, chisels, and a screwdriver.  She was able to get it to these men in frozen hamburger meat.  One news show quipped, ‘She was their hamburger helper’.

Governor Cuomo tours Dannemora correctional facility where Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped.

Governor Cuomo tours Dannemora correctional facility where Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped.

The men cut through walls, a labyrinth of pipes, and eventually escaped through through a drain pipe sometime around midnight.  Within a couple of days, Joyce Mitchell was put under address and was charged with a felony for assisting the criminals.  She admitted that the plan was to pick up the criminals, and they told her if she did not pick them up, that they would kill her husband.

Then Michell’s husband decided to go on the Today Show to say that he did not believe his wife had any romantic relationship with the criminals, but was forced into her role in the escape by intimidation.  There is no question that the story gets more and more strange as the days go by.

It came out earlier this week that the DNA of the escapees was found at a hunting cabin, that randomly happened to be owned by a guard at the prison, but he does not seem to be involved.  We have had plenty of strange crimes in this country, but the fact that those two men have been able to escape a maximum security prison and somehow allude capture for almost three weeks seems like it would be too good to be true for a movie script.  All that says, when the movie is made, I’m sure I will be watching.

Does the PGA Tour Need Tiger to Win?

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I have to start with a disclaimer, Tiger Woods is my favorite golfer of all time.  I will make any and every excuse for anything has ever done, or will do.  Therefore this will be a biased piece.

Its no secret that Tiger has been on a wild ride since winning his 14th major championship at the US Open at Torrey Pines on a broken leg in 2008.  The all time record for major championships is 18 by Jack Nicklaus, on that Monday in June in 2008 when Woods sealed his 14th, it seemed to be a forgone conclusion that he would obliterate Jack’s record.  Well, we are coming up on the seventh anniversary of that win in 2008 next week when Tiger tees it up at Chambers Bay outside of Seattle and he hasn’t won a major since.  As a matter of fact, this past week at the Memorial Tournament in Columbus, OH Tiger shot a career worst 85 on Saturday and ended up finishing dead last of the players who made the cut.

This is what brings me to my question, does the PGA actually need Tiger to win?  I’m beginning to come to the realization that they don’t.  Now, shooting an 85 is shocking, but Monday morning at GolfChannel.com, there were five stories on the homepage related to Tiger Woods, and one story related to David Lingmerth who actually won the Memorial in an exciting playoff with Justin Rose.  The game is presently in great shape with three young stars.  We had Rory McIlroy win two majors last year, Jordan Spieth pulling away in the Masters this year, and fan favorite Ricky Fowler winning the Players Championship in May.  These young guys are physically fit, and frankly aren’t scared of Tiger and should be the future of golf for the next 20 years.  While that is great, nobody, and I mean nobody moves the needle like Tiger Woods does.  Ratings are night and day when Tiger competes as to when he doesn’t.  He may be the most polarizing athlete in all of sports.  After his massive infidelity spree came to light, its safe to say that he doesn’t have the same following from female fans, but everybody also loves a great villain.

Tiger has been out with numerous injuries over the last five years.  A bad knee, bad back, achilles, the list goes on and on.  That was different, people felt that Tiger couldn’t compete because his body wouldn’t allow it.  This summer has been much different.  Tiger’s body looks great, but he simply can’t play, which creates an even more interesting story than when he was on top.  Can he get back to the top, or is he gone forever?

It couldn’t be much more intriguing.  Here is a man that was at the absolute top of his craft.  For a period, more at the top of his craft than any athlete in the world.  First it was a knee injury, and then an Escalade running into a fire hydrant and his life as well as his golf ability has fallen apart.  As far as I can remember, there isn’t another comparison in sports in my lifetime.  So to answer the question; No, I don’t think the PGA Tour needs Tiger to win, they simply need him to play.  Since he is so polarizing, you have one group of people looking for the redemption story and Woods winning one again.  Then you have the other group who completely loves the current train wreck that is the state of his current game.  I know I’m rooting for him, and can completely understand why many people are not.  It is riveting television, and I’ll be going cross country to watch his rehabilitation plan in progress at the US Open next week, and couldn’t be more exited.

Amazon Has Changed My Life…

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There is no question that Amazon has changed my life.  That said, I can’t decide if that change is for better or for worse?  I will admit that I am an Amazon addict.  I go as far as ordering deodorant and paper towels from the website.  I can’t decide if this is a good or bad thing?  It has caused me to not have to go to the store for much of anything, other than food.  If you would have told me as a child that when I was in my 30s that I would sit in front of a computer to order just about anything to have delivered to my house within two days, I would have laughed at you.  Now it is a way of life for millions of Americans.

I recently finished the book, ‘The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon‘.  See what I did there, I liked to a book about Amazon that is sold at Amazon.com!?!  The book was a truly incredible look at how Amazon was built and profits were put on the back burner (actually still on the back burner) and everything was put into growth.  It went from a book review site to the most widespread marketplace in the world.  The question you have to wonder if this is good for us as a society?

When you drive from city to city in the 21st century, you see the same restaurants and stores at every single exit.  The world has consolidated a great deal.  You aren’t going to see Big Bob’s BBQ, on the side of the road, but rather another Applebees with the same food as the Applebees 10 miles up the road.  Hardly anyone goes to the local hardware store anymore because it doesn’t exist.  Now you have to choose between Lowes and Home Depot, which are built right next to each other most of the time.

While that trend has been growing in the brick and mortar world, Amazon has that same thing online.  Less that eight years ago I would hunt around online for various products, looking for the best prices.  I even dabbled in online stores myself.  Now there really is no reason, as you know Amazon will have what you are interested in, and you get free two day shipping if you are a member of their ‘Prime” service for $99 a year, which of course I am.  The niche online stores are being priced out by Amazon, due to what I mentioned earlier, Amazon is nearly as concerned with profitability as it is growth.  They can sell a basketball for $5 less than BennysBasketballs.com because they are a multi billion dollar company.  It has come to the point where I almost feel guilty for buying everything from Amazon as they continue to take over online retail as we know it.  If that guaranteed two day delivery isn’t fast enough, they have now been testing out drones to deliver your goods even more quickly.

Its amazing what Jeff Bezos and Amazon has built, and undoubtedly, I am a huge fan, but it just makes you wonder if their ‘monopoly’ of sorts is good for our society in general?