Friday, July 27, 2012

Various & Sundry: Annoyances and Olympians

I have about an hour or so before the Olympic Opening Ceremony to fling a whole bunch of mostly non-Olympic-related links and stuff at you. Let's get cracking!

Top of the list: The charming Tim Schenck has started yet another new blog project with 10 Things That Annoy Me, a satisfying little offering to which you can add your own list of 10. Mine is here. It was frighteningly easy to develop.

You know what annoys some people? The notion that "they didn't build that." I liked this article by David Frum about why this rankles people so much. His conclusion:
the president is still delivering the shocking news, as unwelcome today as it was when first propounded, that:
the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
To be sure, other politicians have declared that "life is unfair." But that instruction is usually directed to society's losers. Obama is—almost uniquely—directing the message to society's winners, including the very grand winner who will soon be nominated to run for president against him. They're not used to it, and they don't like it, not one bit.
Meanwhile, to protest the Boy Scouts of America's continued policy of excluding gays from its ranks, a number of Eagle Scouts have started returning their medals along with letters of protest. You can read many of them here. And here's one example:

Meanwhile, PeaceBang delivered a barn-burner of a rant on her blog about the completely erroneous assumptions we make when newcomers appear in our churches of a Sunday morning. Here is a sampling:
People do not attend a church service because they are interested in joining a church. They attend a church service because they are looking for something deep. They are seeking. They are searching. They are in need.  [jump]
I believe that if today’s seekers do not immediately experience a church community as a group of people who take spiritual questions seriously, they will not return. And why should they? Because we’re cool? Because we march in the right parades and support social justice causes? Because we agree with them that the Catholic Church/Bible Belt is hopelessly corrupt, and we’re willing to stand around and mock the religious right in the most spiteful language at our gatherings?
Oh, preach on, sister! And she does. I hope you churchy types will take the time to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest that one as well as the follow-up.

Finally, to bring us back to the real reason we are here today: The Olympics obituaries, I loved this one about Olympic swimmer, Ann Curtis, "who was widely regarded as one of the greatest female swimmers, winning 2 Olympic gold medals in 1948 [in London!] and 34 United States championships, died on June 26 at her home in San Rafael, Calif. She was 86."

Hers is a great story of hard work, overcoming adversity, and going against common wisdom. She also displayed a touching, almost ridiculous, modesty about her achievements. Her children only learned that she had been in the Olympics from other people. She and her husband managed a swimming pool in San Rafael until she was in her '70's. She kept swimming, as you might guess, but perhaps not as much as you think. The obit ends,
At 50, Curtis won five gold medals in the United States masters championships. She seemed unimpressed.

“My times were terrible,” she said. “I did a complete turnaround and took up tennis.”
I suspect she was good at tennis too.

And now: Let the games begin!

No comments: