Monday, May 18, 2015

Dear Chronically Late Student:

Dear Student,

I want to address your criticism and disdain over my “poor attitude” concerning your attendance habits. It is clear that you think I’m some sort of ogre for being annoyed at your constant lateness and cavalier attitude towards actually attending class, submitting work by the assigned deadline, or taking an exam at the appointed time.

Let me explain something to you.

This is a class called “Introduction to Business.” It is designed to expose you to the work habits, issues, and dynamics of today’s business world.

Now, I realize that I may be a little bit old-fashioned. In my day (yes, I hear your groans and see your eyes roll), if the train left the Long Island Railroad Station at 7:15am, I did not wander up to the platform at 7:17 and expect it to be waiting for me. And I knew that the excuse, “Sorry, I missed my train” was not an excuse at all. It was a cause for termination. You see, if I am expected to start work at 9:00 am – and if I expect to get paid beginning at 9:00 am – that does not mean I am combing my hair in the bathroom at 9:15 and then wandering over to the coffee machine and getting around to turn on my computer at 9:30. It means I am working at 9:00 am, so when a customer calls with a problem, I am prepared to efficiently and courteously assist them.

So you are correct, I am annoyed when you seem to think that it’s perfectly fine to wander into a 9:00 am class at 9:05, 9:15, or even later, because I should somehow be honored that you chose to show up at all. I don’t care that your gas tank was low, that you burned your toast, or that you didn't anticipate that the snow might cause slower travel times. You are interrupting the class and the flow of learning, and worse, depriving your fellow students of all the wisdom you have to impart on the subject we just discussed (The very subject for which you will demand personal tutoring and explanation just before the exam, at your convenience, of course.)

And that report that was due at the beginning of class on Thursday? No, it’s not “OK if I print it off after class,” or “give it to you tomorrow,” or “just email it over the weekend because my thumb drive wasn’t working right.”

Let me explain: When I worked in an office competing for government grants, we were given strict deadlines – to the minute – to submit our proposals. When a dozen competing proposals came in, had I sauntered in 5 minutes late with our proposal, it wasn’t “OK;” it meant I just blew a chance of securing a 5 million dollar contract for my office. And it also meant that I was incredibly disrespectful to my co-workers, because all of their work on the proposal was for nothing.

And yes, when the UPS man is rushing to pick up your line of next season’s designer clothing for the Fashion Show, and you aren’t ready because “tomorrow is good enough,” you just blew your chance to sell a line of clothing to every department store in the country – and 30 months of pre-planning just went down the drain.

How do you think your co-workers and employer will feel about that?

I suggest you learn this lesson NOW.

Yes, sometimes cats run out the door and get hit by cars. Yes, your child suddenly falls ill. Yes, flat tires happen.

That doesn't mean you get a “freebie.” What it means is that you learn that these are the things that happen in the normal course of life, and if you have a deadline, you plan to meet your deadline ahead of time – you don’t start the night before and then expect a free ride when nothing is ready in the morning. Rushing in at the last minute because it's "on time" is little more than "adequate;" it is the minimum to be expected. It's nothing special.

Perhaps you’re seeking an employer who is a little more lenient than I am.

Good Luck.

Better to learn this now than when your mortgage, auto loan, and kid’s soccer tuition depends upon your steady paycheck.

Planning on being self-employed so you don't have to put up with being told what to do? I got news for you: you will need to be even more diligent in your work, because your customers won't stand for the quality of delivery that you have exhibited.

So, call me mean, rigid, and old-fashioned. If I have presented you with a standard that requires you to grow and change – I have done my job. If you're not into that sort of thing, consider dropping the course while you can still get your tuition back.

I’ll bet that's one thing you will do on time…

Monday, May 11, 2015

Fascism and American Sports,,,

Let me say at the start that I truly enjoy sporting events, and teach a college course in sports economics. I have raised funds and brought many students to their first professional games: basketball, baseball, soccer. Growing up on Long Island, NY, I was a child of the NY Islanders Dynasty.

I also have reason to support military veterans, whether it be at the college at which I teach, or from a more personal perspective: My son is a Marine, my uncle was a Navyman, and I’m in the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

But I am also a student of history, and what I see occurring at sports stadiums today is frightening at best.

In his 2003 seminal essay, “The 14 Characteristics of Fascism” in Free Inquiry Magazine, political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt summarized the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile). Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. Some of these include:

Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – [the] constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, [and] songs….in public displays

Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals...

Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding... Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

Obsession with Crime and Punishment - The police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism.

Enter the Sport Stadium: the largest on-going collection of citizens in "public displays."

Now, I expect the National Anthem at the start of a sporting event. I look forward to it, to be honest. And I even appreciate the playing of other nation’s anthems when the match is international. But the trend is now towards something very unsettling – so unsettling that it’s reminiscent of the elements of Fascist Propaganda cited above.

The last time I went to a Mets game Citifield, I have to admit that I was a little uncomfortable when I was exposed to a “new tradition” in the 6th inning: the announcer required that we all stand, sing God Bless America, and participate in honoring ‘the veteran of the day.’ The fact that a stadium full of thousands dutifully rose as soon as they were told to, in order to honor the military, should cause some pause. In fact, it’s downright chilling.
I thought this was a one-time special event; I have since observed this ceremony multiple times, at multiple baseball stadiums. It’s now the norm.
This past week, the Washington Post revealed a ‘formal,’ paid relationship between the government and the NFL for much the same type of intertwining of the military state and sport.

As articulately expressed by,

“The national anthem is a long, drawn-out, pregame event. There’ll be a flyover by the Blue Angels at the perfect, climactic moment. During a break in the action, some soldier returning from Afghanistan or any other foreign war-zone will be reunited with his family while the stadium erupts in deafening applause and heart wrenching sobs.

Well, hold off on purchasing those tickets just yet, because the Washington Post found something interesting this week. All this patriotic propaganda- the troop-salutes, the banner ads, even the community service events where troops and NFL teams “build or re-build” a playground together, come with a price tag.
Fourteen NFL teams were paid a total of $5.4 million by the Department of Defense to cover the nationalistic propaganda filling downtime during the games.”

That’s right: not some organic, groundswell of thanks to our vets; but a paid program by the Pentagon to create a pro-military groupthink at a captured audience. Think about that.

So yesterday, perhaps my sensitivity was on high alert, but what I saw at a Major League Soccer game was equally scary. Soccer – often thought of as the international, or even “un-American” sport – took its required worship of the Police State to yet another level.

In the wake of the murder of NY Police Officer Brian Moore – thousands of police officers from around the nation lined the highways of Seaford, NY for his funeral. It was portrayed as a show of “support” for the officer and his family – but of course, the majority of those in attendance wouldn’t have known him if they had tripped over him when he was alive. Rather, at a time when police wrongdoing is revealed daily on websites such as, this was not a show of respect as much as a show of force: the Blue Line that protects its own, showing its muscle and demanding respect and awe from the public.

The start of the inaugural match between the New York Red Bulls and the New York City Football Club in Harrison, NJ, was launched with a moment of silence for the slain officer (I could argue that while police officers get such treatment, hundreds of innocent Americans slain by police get no such honor…but I won’t belabor that point.) But then the players entered the field – with black armbands. They didn't read, “Moore” – they read “NYPD.”

Yes, I have a problem with that.

At a time when there is a public relations war between the cops and the citizens they are supposed to serve; when police defiantly turn their back on the Mayor of New York City when he dares to criticize their tactics; when courtrooms have revealed the systematic and routine planting of evidence on innocent citizens; when military equipment and armaments are being distributed to civilian forces – yes, I have a problem with two sports teams being required by their league to “take sides.” When I was insolent enough to suggest so on a Supporters Club website, the post was removed by administrators with no explanation.

When I was merely 2 years old, none other than General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned,

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist."

BBC’s documentary “Fascism and Football” is described thusly: “A documentary on how the Fascist regimes of Spain, Italy and Germany made football an important pillar of their propaganda and the lengths they went to in order to control the sport…”

Sports Fans, take note: The next time the masses at the stadium is told what to do, and how to do it, and when to do it, in an effort to honor the Police State – be aware of how you are being used – and the history behind it.