2010-12-09 / Sam Bari

Times they are a-changin’

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

The old Bob Dylan tune, “The Times They are a-Changin’,” is more meaningful than ever before. Most adults are accustomed to the virtual pendulum swinging back and forth in a variety of arenas, particularly when discussing politics, sports, morality and religion.

Even those subjects are finding new direction, and the pendulum is not just swinging back and forth.

When I was a boy, divorce was scandalous. People married for the long haul. Now, according to statistics, 50 percent of marriages fail in the first three to five years.

Mothers used to advise their daughters, “Whenever you go out with a man, ask yourself this question: Is this the man I’d want to be the father of my children and live with for the rest of my life?”

According to comedienne Rita Rudner, the new perception is: “Whenever I go on a date, I ask myself: Is this the man I’d want my kids to spend their weekends with for the rest of their lives?”

Mark Twain was quoted as saying: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in this society.”

Now, if an actor or actress can’t find a role where they show some skin in their first five movies, they go on the B list.

Men used to buy tools that were built to last. They would hand them down to their sons so at least two generations would benefit from their use. Now when men buy tools, they are obsolete when the purchase is made.

Why? Because a new computerized model with more features is already in production and will be introduced to the marketplace in the near future.

This is a standing joke at Lockheed-Martin, where they build some of the world’s most advanced fighter jets: A project engineer is talking to two designers. He tells the first to build the fastest fighter jet in the world. He tells the second to build one that will catch it.

The business of professional sports has changed so dramatically that it is difficult to believe teams of 30 or more years ago survived when compared to today’s standards of doing business.

Any kid in my neighborhood could name every player on just about every team in the National League. The players stayed with teams throughout their entire careers.

Today that is not unheard of, but it is a rarity. Entire rosters change from one year to the next. If a favored player were traded when I was a young fan, it was a big deal.

The world of professional sports has become such a business that ordinary fans can’t even afford to go to the stadiums to watch the games.

Many stadiums sell most of the seats to season ticket holders. The boxes go to big corporations for big bucks. The good seats are not for sale at the gate – ever.

Today’s fans are cautious about becoming too attached to favorite players. The guy you were supporting this year, could be playing against your team next year. Players are not confi- dent about job security.

Some of the older coaches and commentators occasionally laugh when they talk about “back in the day” when agents worked for players. Now it’s the other way around.

Even the world of politics was easier. People were either Democrats or Republicans. The independents and other parties were frowned upon, and were perceived as nut cases.

Not so much any more. Ethnic voting blocks, religious orders, and other special interest groups are courted by politicians that fight for their vote using whatever strategy works, ethical or otherwise.

Religious views generally debated only two schools of thought, creation or evolution. Just this past week, even those long accepted theories were set on their virtual ears with NASA’s discovery of arsenic-based life forms here on planet Earth.

According to the Washington Post, the NASA announcement possibly signals an end to religious faith, or at least the beginning of the end, because it implies that life can spring forth unexpectedly on Earth or even on other planets, and in unexpected forms – developments that seem to run counter to literal readings of biblical creation accounts.

That prompted the President to call NASA to find out what this discovery was about, because upending the foundation of religious beliefs as we understand them would be a dramatic change that could alter the way we live forever.

It’s little wonder we live in a system we can’t understand.

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