Blog Archives

An Old School Story

Will Ferrell with a tiger face painted on is enough to get anyone’s attention.

But wait! If you keep watching and reading, there’s more!

Off the wall and goofy? Yes. Funny and entertaining? Yes.

But inspiring? Also yes.

I, like you, am still hoping that Will Ferrell will pull a similar prank at a Home Depot…on a Saturday, of course. And, if there’s time, he’d venture over to a nearby store.

Rest assured, if his professor friend is with him, then there would definitely be time for Bed, Bath & Beyond.

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No Lions in Paris

(EPA)

(EPA)

Dutch tourism to France may be at an all-time low next summer.

The Netherlands soccer team suffered a devastating 3-2 loss today against the Czech Republic, who were not very kind visitors in the Amsterdam Arena. Missed opportunities for goals throughout 93 minutes, porous defending in the back and Robin van Persie’s miscalculation that resulted in an own goal sealed their fate.

It should be noted van Persie did score against the Czech Republic, along with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Since the Dutch were hanging by a thread of hope and a prayer (a must-win game and Iceland victory) before kickoff, the odds against their qualifying for the playoff to then qualify to the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament in France were very high.

Still, the Oranje players and dedicated fans (myself included) had faith in an epic turnaround.

Despite injuries to key players (including, but not limited to Arjen Robben, Jasper Cillessen and much of its defense), it was expected that the Netherlands would be able to control its games and earn enough wins and ties to book its ticket to France in the summer of 2016.

They didn’t.

“…Netherlands finished fourth in the group and failed to qualify for the European Championships for the first time since 1984…”
–Tom Webber, Goal.com

Great teams in all sports experience injury woes that can paralyze their chances at grand success. Some of these teams manage to squeeze out wins, even when the odds were all against them. Even though the Dutch have had their pitfalls throughout its history (internal turmoil, lack of motivation), they have also had moments of glory and the best kinds of shock-and-awe. Just last summer, the Dutch finished third in the World Cup.

And this is where this defeat stings the most.

The expectations were and are sky high for this squad, as in a championship-level altitude. Some of the best players in the world are on this team. Let’s take a closer look with their age in parenthesis:

  • Arjen Robben (31)
  • Wesley Sneijder (31)
  • Robin van Persie (32)
  • Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (32)
  • Rafael van der Vaart (32)

The fact is those listed above, a golden generation in their own right, have world-class talent, pace and vision. Age has not slowed them down. However, the reason for listing the aforementioned players who define the explosive and creative offense identity of the Dutch is to acknowledge that this was the last UEFA Euro tournament they could have competed for within their peak years.

As a tried-and-true Dutch fan for more than 15 years, it’s painful to even concede this reality.

The final score today was a disqualifying loss, but the opportunity to play for and potentially win a defining European championship was the real loss and it was (and is) gut-wrenching.

There are many questions to be answered in the coming days, weeks, months:

  • Is head coach Danny Blind to blame when he had such a limited, bleak chance of success?
  • Who will be the head coach for the 2018 World Cup qualifying?
  • What players listed above will be leading the Dutch towards the next World Cup in Russia?
  • Aside from Daley Blind, can the Netherlands find high-quality defenders?
  • How quickly can this team fix its problems and return to playing world-class soccer/Total Football?

Fortunately, the KNVB’s current golden generation has a proficiency for answering its harshest critics every couple of years. They have one more chance lift a trophy to solidify their golden Oranje legacy.

From Russia, with love of strength and the World Cup trophy, 2018 is the mission of a lifetime.

The Romney Reaction

Mitt Romney will not be the 45th President of the United States of America.

Most of America (including his family) likely approve of this decision. It’s not because he’s not qualified. Rather, he had his chances, most consequentially in 2012, and did not deliver. However, make no mistake about it, Mitt Romney will be a factor come election day 2016.

How?

First, polls have revealed that a majority of Americans wish Romney had defeated President Obama in 2012. There’s a buyers remorse among many voters, specifically after Romney correctly forecast key foreign policy issues, like Russia as just one example. Plus, the economy’s foundation is weak, the tax system is outdated, entitlement programs need structural changes, unemployment is really 10-11% because of stunningly low labor workforce participation, there is a lack of quality jobs being created and debts and deficits are still soaring (wait a couple years for the latter to skyrocket again). Romney’s biggest strengths are as a job creator and a business leader. And despite the fact he isn’t running, people will remember their vote in 2012 and who and what vision they chose instead and the subsequent results both at home and abroad.

Most Americans are increasingly aware of the ineptitude of Obama’s foreign policy decisions and how it’s led to a perception (and reality) that the world continues to burn without a functioning extinguisher in sight. Also, the refusal to acknowledge our enemy by name is a major problem and, quite frankly, an inconceivable embarrassment of common sense.

Second, Romney can make good on his recent priority to help improve those living in poverty during the next two years (and beyond!) with his knowledge of lifting people up with opportunity, resources and, most importantly, time. He has the time to, as NBC says, “make a difference.” As has been mentioned on this blog, the Republican Party needs to prove that their economic philosophy of equal opportunity and belief in the power and ingenuity of the individual is superior to the predictable failings of big government fiscal liberalism. They need to make clear the correlation between the success of a local economy with the educational success of the community and its citizens (public and private schools) and how it creates a sustained environment of achievement and high standards, as well as how it improves the safety of that community. Romney (and other conservative leaders) need to embrace this challenge by bringing their economic philosophy and successful business records into the poorest neighborhoods to show (not tell) how fiscal conservatism works for everybody. The rewards will last generations.

The economic policies of President Obama and liberal mayors and governors have by-and-large not improved the lives or opportunities for the poor. The door is wide open for an innovative new idea to shine the American Dream on those in the forgotten corners of society who live in inescapable poverty. This is especially important for Romney himself after his infamous “47%” remark.

Mitt Romney will not be the 45th President of the United States of America, but he will be the third person people think about when they elect the new leader of the free world. Even if the Republican nominee is more libertarian than Romney on a host of issues, his presence will be influential regardless. There’s the saying that our first impression is everything. Yes. It’s also a fact that people don’t easily forget important people or important events.

Romney now has time to prove the latter true.

All We Need is a Chance

So, about that Mega Millions jackpot…

I got nothing.

Despite the astronomical odds that make Lloyd Christmas’s chances with Mary Swanson a virtual certainty, it’s almost tougher not to play the lottery. And that is precisely how the game is designed.

It’s a thrill. It’s a chance. It’s a gamble.

But, what if…what if on that one chilly morning, the day after purchasing a few tickets at the local grocery store, a row of numbers line up in a surreal sequence? What if the numbers in just one row perfectly match the Mega Millions fortune that is a dollar amount that’s difficult to even comprehend?

A win like that makes spending $1, $5 or $20 seem like a genius investment.

Even if you don’t win, it’s still worth the excitement of being a part of something truly grand. The same goes for taking a chance in America, which does not guarantee anything but a chance. The Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and Who Wants to be a Millionaire (to name a few) are classic American institutions based on the chance of winning something big. There is an equal opportunity of being selected or of winning. This rush of adrenaline can produce any number of outcomes, some of which can be nothing…but one random decision one day just may turn out to be absolutely brilliant and life-altering.

You never know and that’s the point. And it is extremely tough to resist those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities when they present themselves.

Because what if Mary Swanson/the lottery says yes…?