I've taken the time to do a little "ranting" here before but when I did, I usually fixated on one particular thing that was the "irritant au jour."
Today, I decided the time had come to take on a whole raft of things I consider to be either totally irrational or absurd or just generally, a royal pain in the behind.
One thing I do every morning after I check my morning e-mail is to log into the Centre Daily Times website - a morning paper out of State College, PA - and read what's happened in the neighboring county in the past 24 hours or so. I am a faithful reader of their opinion page and have a love/hate relationship at times with the "letters to the editor" section there. For what touts itself as a highly "Educated" community, sometimes I feel that aspect is sorely lacking in many who proudly assert their high-level of knowledge, gained via their degree from Penn State University.
Such was the case last week when I read a letter to the editor that really irked the living daylights out of me.
I suppose Penn State isn't much different from many other university towns across the country with the problems of alcohol abuse that tend to erupt in higher numbers on football game weekends. I can't, in all honesty, say that I have never joined in some form of revelry too on various occasions to celebrate athletic events, victories, etc. Heck, back in the early '70's while I was working in D.C., living in Maryland, and when the Redskins were in the midst of their first big winning season in lord knows how many years of deprivation of winning ANYTHING, I went along with a group of friends from the local bar I frequented to Dulles Airport to welcome the 'Skins home from a victorious game (I think it was over the KC Chiefs but my memory ain't exactly what it used to be so that might be wrong) and a big - and I DO MEAN BIG - celebration at the airport at 1 a.m. I would be lying if I said we weren't fueled by a bit more beverages of alcoholic content than one should probably indulge in. But, no one ripped the airport apart, no one rioted in the streets of our nation's capitol in the name of the 'Skins and their winning season.
Such is not the case in recent times has been my observation.
Penn State University, State College on various occasions over the last decade has not fared so well. There have been out and out riots there that damaged university property as well as many business in the downtown area too - all in the name of "having fun." Sorry, but I don't see how destruction constitutes a fun time!
The writer of the particular recent letter that set my teeth on edge said is was downright shameful for local folks to get angry, upset, to NOT expect people to celebrate in this manner. Give me a break, will ya fella?
He even went so far as to say to expect good behavior, to being disgusted with antics that might be so benign as ripping down the goalposts at Beaver Stadium, or breaking store front windows or simple actions that showed how alcohol can bring out the jackass tendency in anyone was blasphemy. Excuse me! Come again there!
No one should feel it is their RIGHT to destroy another's property in the name of an athletic event and victory.
Hell's Bells! Even when people across the nation celebrated the end of World War II and I would bet my last buck that there was a heck of a lot more at stake in that victory than there is now or ever will be in any football contest, didn't riot and create mayhem in our cities and towns, did they? A little ticker-tape here and there is a far cry from overturned automobiles, setting fires, breaking windows of store fronts, tearing down traffic lights and such - for openers.
The same day that letter appeared, the CDT also had an editorial about the actions of the Pennsylvania General Assembly whose behavior over the past year has been quite akin to that of obnoxious, drunken revelers and in some ways, perhaps just as destructive too. A pay raise passed in July of 2005 and later repealed in November that gave legislators and judges raises amounting from 16 percent to 54 percent of their then current pay rate was just the top of the list in the many "misdemeanors" of the legislature. Taxes are getting obscene here, lobbying in Harrisburg (and Washington) is out-of-hand and corruption seems to be the password for both state and federal politicians.
Last summer, in the heat of my anger, I joined up with a grassroots political effort - PACleansweep.com - and fully agreed with their mantra then - still do too for that matter - of not voting for ANY incumbent in the elections this fall. For me, that is not going to be a problem to vote for anyone who is running against our legislator from my home district even though he is a Democrat and I am also a registered Democrat too. I haven't been a fan of his for several years now and for a variety of reasons. I've also never been one to vote straight party either so I have no qualms about going to the other side of the fence from time to time. But, this year, the choices being given to the voters in this state are far from giving us a balance to choose from. For governor, we can either vote for Rendell (the incumbent democrat also known as "Fast Eddie") or we can vote for Lynn Swann, a Republican who I liked somewhat initially until I saw how little he actually had to say as well as how the old line Republicans had railroaded out Bill Scranton as a potential candidate and endorsed Swann with their same old, same old party rhetoric. What choice is left? For me, inexperienced as many say this guy is, and although some who have dealt with him in closer range than I have over the past 15 months or so, I will opt to do a write-in vote for Russ Diamond, the founder of the PACleansweep.com group. Some will say this is a wasted vote as he has as much chance as does a snowball in hell, but I say this is the best way I know to try to give a message to the parties in general that I am dissatisfied with the way they do business here.
The past couple of weeks and the revelations coming forth from Washington about Rep. Mark Folay and his adventures - in person and with e-mails or instant messages to and with young people serving as pages in our Congress and Senate - while posing as an advocate against sexual predators has to give one definite cause to think "What's wrong with this picture?" And, for the others in our astute governing body to attempt to cover up for him - how very wrong is that?
There's long been a little essay floating about via e-mails everywhere - who hasn't seen this one? - about the demise of "Common Sense" and brother, the older I get, the more I read and see how our society is prone to act nowadays, the more I believe that yes, common sense has picked up and moved to greener pastures somewhere else. Wish I knew where that "somewhere else" might be as there are times I think I'd love to move there too.
Our school systems are a mess with this lovely, probably well-intended, sounds good in theory but in practice, in reality, lousy setup touted by DUBYA - "No Child Left Behind." Teachers, schools, that must institute all kinds of rules that they have little ability to enforce for one stupid reason or another over something as simple as decent behavior to be expected from the students and enforceable by the administration is ridiculous. What has happened to parents first teaching children some form of manners, etiquette, etc., at home before the kids first enter the school system and for parents to expect that their rules in that respect be abided by from the children?
When I was in grade school, in high school, it was a different era for sure. We had no phone at home but somehow if I had misbehaved in school, the news of what I had done beat me home and I was greeted by a none-to-happy mother who would proceed to read me the riot act. Discipline in schools as well as at home was something that was used - STRONGLY! What's wrong with that being followed today too? In my book, not a darned thing!
When people around the rural area where I live learned I was going to college as a "returning adult student" (graduating at age 50 with my B.S.) many asked if I was going to major in education and become a teacher. No way! The thought of dealing with 25-30 kids who were as bad as my three could be at home at times but with no means at hand to reprimand those kids, was something totally abhorrent to my mind! At least, at home, I could rant and rave at my kids, even risk giving them a bop upside the back of their head too if I felt there was a need to better get their attention. But in the schools today, heck teachers can't even give little kids a hug to say "job well done" when the occasion calls for it and to try to exert a little other pressures to get an improvement in their behavior is out of the question. Yep, there sure as heck is something wrong with this picture isn't there?
I think that is about all I best rant about today at the risk of getting my blood pressure skyrocketing, creating extra acid in my stomach that will just give me a massive case of heartburn and end this diatribe for one morning.
Don't be surprise though if it resurfaces again - probably guaranteed to show up the day after the November elections, if not sooner.