Wrapping up the week 2/27/09
Not a lot of major developments in the big cases — Anthony and Cummings — this week. Haleigh Cummings’ father turned out to have a significant criminal past, which means that he’s likely to have come in contact with the types of individuals who are capable of kidnapping kids, whether he considers those individuals “friends” or enemies. That’s where I’d be looking next if I were law enforcement in Florida — the “associates” of the father. Not that the father’s girlfriend (or anyone involved for that matter) seems any more respectable, but the authorities apparently have interviewed and ruled out her reported pedophile cousin who just happened to have visited Florida from Tennessee recently.
The Arizona eight-year-old, now age nine, who was accused of murdering his father and a friend of the father last year has entered a plea of guilty to the lesser charge of negligent homicide. Under the plea deal, if the judge accepts it, the boy will be on probation until the age of 18 and be required to receive psychological counseling. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that, and I want to know more about what the boy’s living arrangements would be. I mean, a kid who’s capable of killing two adults with a gun is a dangerous kid, and I don’t think just any old residential home, especially if it’s the home of the mother who lived several states away and had no residential custody while the father was alive (there’s a reason for that I’m sure), is capable of protecting others from becoming the victims of a potential future crime.
Rhianna reportedly has decided not to cooperate in the prosecution of Chris Brown for allegedly beating her up. That is very typical of domestic violence situations, very stupid, and makes life very hard on prosecutors. It also makes it highly likely that we’ll see Rhianna beaten up again. Just ask Whitney Houston.
Study this: Lots of new studies in the past week. Here are the findings from a few of the more interesting ones. Looks like the understanding of Alzheimer’s is evolving — the fatty deposits in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients that were thought to produce their cognitive impairments may turn out to be symptoms rather than causes, meaning that the underlying cause is neuro-chemical and perhaps more treatable than previously thought. Good news if true. Looks like people who go through life full of anger really do have a higher chance of having heart disease and attacks. No surprise there. Looks like diabetic moms are more likely than non-diabetic moms to suffer post-partum depression. We’ve seen how dangerous that can be, so if true, at least this might help some women get better monitoring for the condition. Finally, it’s looking more likely than ever, based on internal documents released in litigation, that the makers of the antipsychotic drug Seroquel had data showing greater side-effect risks than what their patient warnings indicated. Once again, no surprise there.
Have a good weekend.
Weekend update 2/21/09 An 11-year-old Pennsylvania boy is charged as an adult with shooting and killing his father’s pregnant fiancé. Of course it’s a tragedy, two people are dead, and at age 11, the boy probably knew what he was doing. I’d like to take this opportunity, however, to point out once again how much stress it puts on kids when adults create one family and then try to move on and create new ones. Once a kid has suffered the breakup of one family, I think keeping that kid as well-adjusted as possible generally should be enough to occupy the parents’ full emotional attention at least until the kid reaches age 18.
Police in Washington, D.C., are hinting that an arrest is expected in the 2001 death of Congressional intern Chandra Levy. Back then, it was widely reported that Levy had been having an affair with married Congressman Gary Condit, and many accused the congressman of involvement in her disappearance. Well, word today is that the suspect is not Condit but an unaffiliated Salvadoran immigrant who has allegedly attacked at least two other women in the same D.C. park where Levy went missing.
Haleigh Cummings’ father’s girlfriend apparently has a pedophile cousin who was in the area when Haleigh disappeared, and the girlfriend apparently knew it. Police are reportedly questioning the cousin.
Study this: A new pacemaker-like electronic device connected directly to the brain is supposed to control Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I guess it’s possible, but I doubt it. Also, a new book by a paranoia expert says that paranoid thoughts are on the rise in the general population and that the media is partly to blame for over-emphasizing the bad things people do to one another. On one hand, I recently attended my grandmother’s funeral in a small Iowa town, and it was refreshing to encounter a gas station attendant who didn’t really get why a person would be at the counter to pay before pumping any gas. On the other hand, cases like Garza and Cummings make me think that too many Americans aren’t worried enough about what can happen to them. Lastly, Raptiva, an immunosuppresant drug prescribed to treat the autoimmune disorder psoriasis, has been linked to progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), an often-fatal brain infection. If you’re one of the estimated six-to-seven million Americans with psoriasis, I’d recommend discussing the risk of PML with your doctor before you begin or alter drug treatments for your condition.
Crazy week 2/20/09
Sorry I’ve been a little behind in my blogging this week. If you saw me on the air yesterday and today, you probably noticed that I was struggling — not feeling good at all — but even on (legal) drugs, I did get the job done! Here’s what’s new with the cases:
Anthony: 1100 pages of law enforcement documents were released today, not much new or surprising, mostly confirmation of things that had been leaked over the past several weeks. There’s a diary page dated June 21 on which Casey appears to say that she’s very happy and at peace with some big decision that she made, but it’s not 100% clear that it was June 21, 2008. There are also some interviews with her friends in which Casey reportedly told them she wanted to check herself into a mental hospital a couple of years ago, but they didn’t look like serious cries for help to me — they looked like typical Casey Anthony histrionics. For the first time, we did hear that a Gatorade bottle with an unknown liquid and a syringe in it was found near Caylee’s body, so I want to know more about that, but it could be unrelated to the case.
Cummings: Earlier this week, I said that if the father’s girlfriend was lying (about where people were sleeping, etc.), it seemed more likely that she was trying to cover up some kind of irresponsibility on her part (e.g. that she was drunk or high that night) rather than any intentional harm that she inflicted on the little girl. Now, we’re hearing that there may have been some huge irresponsibility in that she may not really have been in the trailer when Haleigh disappeared (i.e. the girlfriend may have left the kids alone in the trailer for a while that night). It’s just an allegation at this point, but I definitely want to hear more about the basis for it.
A guy who founded a cable television network aimed at breaking down stereotypes of Muslims in America beheaded his wife at their place of business shortly after she asked for a divorce. No joke. From the looks of it, however, the killing had less to do with religious beliefs and more to do with the fact that the he’s a raging control freak who refused to tolerate her leaving him.
The publicist for “Octomommy” has quit, reportedly because she was receiving death threats. I think there’s more to it than that. I think the publicist probably agreed to represent “Octomommy” for free initially and be paid when she started making media deals. Then, when America seemed to be almost universally disgusted with the woman instead, I think the publicist seized upon the security issue as a way to ditch a loser client. Don’t count the “Octomommy” out though. This is America, and there probably still will be a production company that wants to put her on t.v. and an audience who wants to watch her. If you think not, consider this: there’s a kid in England who’s become a big celebrity over there in recent days. Why? Because he saved a baby from a fall or a fire? No, because he became a father at the age of…13.
Finally tonight, you probably heard the shocking story of a pet chimpanzee that mauled its owner’s neighbor beyond recognition and within an inch of her life in Connecticut this week. The owner reportedly has referred to the now-deceased chimp (shot by cops responding to the woman’s frantic 911 call) as her “son.” In my opinion, she’s a nut, she knew the chimp was dangerous, and she should be held liable to the victim for everything she’s got. Unfortunately, there’s probably no crime with which to charge her because when Connecticut banned exotic pets in 2004, it allowed existing exotic pets to remain with their owners. Some people feel sorry for this chimp’s owner because she apparently lost her husband and a daughter in recent years. Ok, fine, that’s sad. I think anybody who wants a dangerous animal as a pet, whether it’s a pit bull or a tiger or a big snake or a chimp, is trying to fill some human void, but having a void in one’s life does not entitle one to put others in danger.
Haleigh Cummings is still missing. There’s a registered sex offender unaccounted for in the area, and guess what his previous offense was? Sneaking into a trailer home and assaulting a young girl. As the initial search for Haleigh was scaled back on Monday, the search for this sex offender was being stepped up.
Sadly, the New York plane crash death toll increased by one, from 49 to 50.
Michael Phelps will not be charged with anything in the wake of his marijuana photo. Nice message for kids.
Singer Chris Brown is reportedly seeking “counseling” in the wake of his enraged run-in with Rhianna. That’s fine, but there’s no “counseling” like swift and severe consequences to help a person get his or her behavior under control. If he’s guilty of striking the woman, I hope it’s taken more seriously than illegal drug use was in Phelps’ case.
What are we thinking? 2/16/09
If you’re concerned, like I am, about the “economic stimulus” legislation that’s approaching $1 trillion in future American productivity to be transferred from the private sector to the government, check out my new column entitled “What Are We Thinking?” running today on WorldNetDaily to coincide with Presidents Day. Believe it or not, our nation’s Founding Fathers thought about this centuries ago, and you can read what they had to say about it in my column. It’s under “Commentary” on the WND site, or you can type my name into the “Search WND” box on the WND home page. Happy Presidents Day!
Happy Valentine’s Day! 2/14/09 I’d like to begin this Valentine’s edition of the blog with a brief personal salute to love. Why? Because throughout the year, I talk and write a lot about “logical living,” basing decisions and behaviors on rationality rather than on emotion, and I think sometimes people feel like I discount the value of the emotional side of life too much. So, here on Valentine’s Day, let me just say that loving, I believe, is one of the reasons we exist. I believe it is in creating (each of us developing our unique talents and abilities and using them productively) and in loving that we provide the global community with what it needs, find individual happiness and fulfillment, and become able, on the most basic of levels, to relate to our own Creator.
Now, a Valentine’s “Study this”: A recent study of long-term spouses’ brains showed that they respond to photos of one another in the same ways as young lovers’ brains do. So there you have it, scientific confirmation that love really can last a lifetime!
And finally, if you’re dateless on Valentine’s Day and upset about it, you might take comfort in my Valentine’s Day 2008 blog post, in which I described some individuals who’ve gone to unhealthy extremes to find Valentines. Believe me, you’d rather be dateless than be them!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
The latest 2/13/09 Here’s the latest on several cases and stories that I’ve been following for you on t.v. and here on the blog:
Casey Anthony’s father George is helping out with the search for Haleigh Cummings. I know, it sounds at first like when a new show debuts and people from existing shows appear on it, but I think this could be helpful both to Haleigh’s family members (assuming they’re innocent) and to Mr. Anthony. Interestingly, Trenton Duckett’s father is reportedly on the scene as well (I just said on Wednesday that this Cummings case gave me a Duckett feeling — little Trenton was never found, but I believe that his mother, who committed suicide shortly after his disappearance, abducted him from his father’s home and either killed him or passed him off to a family member who then took him out of the country). Haleigh’s biological mother appeared on Nancy Grace and her story — that she was asleep at her home many miles away when Haleigh disappeared — seemed to hold up as Nancy questioned her about it repeatedly. Haleigh’s father’s girlfriend may be changing her story however. We were told at first that Haleigh had disappeared from the same bed in which the girlfriend and Haleigh’s brother were sleeping. Now, we’re hearing that Haleigh was actually sleeping in her own room. It may be a significant change in the story, or it may just be a clarification. As I said Wednesday, it’s very rare for a total stranger to be so brazen as to enter a home in the middle of the night and abduct a child from her bed, but it has happened (think Polly Klaas, whose father Mark was on Prime News with us on Thursday, Elizabeth Smart, and Jessica Lunsford). Consistent with that theory, the door of the family’s trailer reportedly was propped open with a cinder block, and both the father and girlfriend reportedly have taken and passed polygraph tests. George Anthony isn’t the only person from the Anthony case who’s involving himself in the Cummings case. Guess who else is? Surprise, surprise, “World Famous Bounty Hunter” Leonard Padilla is reportedly offering his own reward for information leading to Haleigh. Just what this case needs, months of wild goose chases, bogus “evidence,” and pointless press conferences. Of course we have to remain hopeful that little Haleigh will be found alive. It’s true that those chances get extremely slim, statistically speaking, after the first 48 hours, but it has happened (again, think Elizabeth Smart, who was found months later).
In the Anthony Case, it’s been confirmed that Caylee’s remains have been cremated and that the family plans to inter the ashes in an undisclosed, unmarked location (not their home).
The federal “vaccine court” has ruled that Autism is not caused by vaccines. This isn’t the first time that the science has been thoroughly examined and the same conclusion has been reached, yet those who believe in the vaccine-Autism connection are unlikely to give it up.
Study this: New research on dementia suggests that obese people are more likely to suffer cognitive impairment as they age, just one more reason to stay fit.
Animal abuse in Kansas:
A graduate student right here in Lawrence, Kansas, where I live, has been arrested for doing unspeakable sexual and sadistic things to animals, but so far, he’s not been connected to last year’s mutilations of several cats around the city.
Plane crash in New York:
Finally tonight, a tragic reminder of what a miracle it was that a disabled passenger plane was able to be landed safely on the Hudson River last month. A commuter flight crashed tonight near Buffalo, New York tonight, killing all 48 people aboard. Details will emerge in the hours ahead, but for tonight, my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families as I’m sure yours do.
Deja vu? 2/11/09
The day after Caylee Marie Anthony’s memorial service, there’s another missing child in Florida, and you won’t believe the name: Haleigh Ann-Marie Cummings. Details are still sketchy, but apparently, the five-year-old went to sleep in the same bed with her four-year-old brother and her 20-year-old (some reports say 24-year-old) father’s 17-year-old girlfriend. The father reportedly was at work, and we don’t yet know the whereabouts of the mother, who apparently has visitation but not residential custody of the girl. In the middle of the night, the girlfriend reportedly awoke “to use the bathroom” at which time the little girl was missing, but it was over 20 minutes later that the girlfriend called 911. I’ve heard that the father has already taken and passed a polygraph, but there’s a lot more I want to know about this family. I want to hear more from the girlfriend, especially about the delay in calling 911, and I want to know all about this mother. For regular readers and viewers, I’m getting a Duckett feeling here, but I could of course be wrong. Once I rule out the family, I focus on the over 40 registered sex offenders who live in the area. It’s certainly possible that we’re seeing another Smart-like, Lunsford-like abduction of a child from a home in the middle of the night with an adult present.
A couple of quick updates on other cases:
A bunch of major-league baseball players have finally copped to using steroids and lying about it. Shocker there.
A Florida woman has accused the prosecutor in the Anthony case of pressuring her to testify in a decades-old murder case when she really wasn’t sure what she saw. I’m not buying it. Every prosecutor who’s been around a while has had people make allegations like that. If there’s really any evidence that anything untoward happened in that prior case, the convict’s attorney can file a motion to have that evidence heard in court. At this point, I don’t expect it to have any bearing on the Anthony case. By the way, here’s something else that has no bearing, but it’s funny: “World Famous Bounty Hunter” Leonard Padilla reportedly was banned from yesterday’s memorial service and held his own service in protest. Sounds like my diagnosis — “spotlightus enviosis” — is a seriously-chronic condition with this guy!
Caylee memorial, 8-year-old update, and Chris Brown 2/11/09
Well, the public memorial service for Caylee Anthony went off without a hitch Tuesday morning. It was neither the crowd draw nor the circus that some of us had feared, drawing around 1,100 attendees instead of the 5,000 that the Orlando church could’ve held, none of whom disrupted the service. It was a beautiful and peaceful service, and it was a privilege to cover it with Mike Galanos and Jane Velez-Mitchell, the hosts of Prime News and Issues, with whom I’ve been following the case since last summer. George Anthony seemed much healthier than he did a month ago, beginning his speech with a thankful message, counting his blessings. I think this illustrated a combination of inspirational messages like the ones we heard from the church pastor and counseling getting through to George, helping him to reframe his thinking about Caylee’s passing. One particularly poignant message from the pastor in light of George’s suicidal episode last month was about letting God, not ourselves, determine when we die. George spoke of sometimes missing the days when they were still searching for Caylee, hoping that she’d be found alive, but of realizing that those days are gone. This indicates to me that he’s moving through the stages of grief (beginning with “resistance” thinking, like denial, anger, and bargaining, proceeding to deep sadness and despair, and culminating in acceptance of the loss), with which I had hoped that the memorial service would help. The family pastor — the one who spoke to the press after visiting Casey in jail — also spoke, and I didn’t like him any more on Tuesday than I did when he gave that pastoral press conference last fall. He seemed like a Rick Warren wannabe who was enjoying being part of all of this a little more than I find seemly for a minister. Both Anthony parents and their son, Lee, expressed solidarity with Casey. Lee appeared to speak with double meaning when he appeared to praise Caylee using her initials, shared by Casey, instead of her name, and George flat-out asked the audience to send uplifting letters to Casey in jail. If the Anthony’s believe Casey played a role in Caylee’s death, it seemed like they’ve decided to forgive or try to understand it and to stand by her rather than abandon her. Notwithstanding, Cindy Anthony may have been slightly passive-aggressive in talking about the blessings of having “three” children when she only has two. The “third” must’ve been Caylee, and we’ve heard that Casey was jealous of Cindy’s mother-daughter-like relationship with the toddler. All in all, I’d say the service went about as well as it could have. By the way, Casey released a statement saying she didn’t approve of the public service, preferring a private service at a time and place when and where she could attend. We’re not sure whether she watched the service in jail, but her attorney reportedly met with her during those two hours and brought a laptop along, so I think it’s likely.
Remember the eight-year-old who apparently shot his father and another man in Arizona last year? Well, he’s nine now, and a defense psych expert reportedly has concluded that the boy’s incompetent to stand trial and won’t be able to be made competent within the time limit prescribed by Arizona statute, which would mean that the charges would have to be dropped. The prosecution’s psych expert has yet to weigh in, or at least his/her findings have yet to be made public, so stay tuned. I don’t think this will be over that easy. There’ve also been reports that the boy had previously threatened to kill his father.
Lastly tonight, hip-hop star Chris Brown is accused of domestic violence, apparently involving his girlfriend and fellow hip-hop star, Rhianna, after an incident which reportedly caused both stars to miss this year’s Grammy Awards ceremony. While more out-of-control behavior by a young star (or stars) certainly would be no surprise, and while I’m thoroughly disgusted by any guy who abuses a woman, Brown’s of course innocent until proven guilty, and there are instances in which physical aggression by girlfriends and wives actually ends in hastily misdirected charges against boyfriends and husbands, so we’ll have to stay tuned on this one as well.
On Friday’s Prime News, I opined that the California woman who already had six kids and then gave birth to octuplets, all through in vitro fertilization, was motivated by attention and money. Then later, I heard Jane Velez-Mitchell refer to her as “the octomom,” and it made me wonder — if the reality show that the octomom’s rumored to be seeking doesn’t work out, maybe she’ll turn up in the next 007 movie as “Octomommy.” Also on Friday’s Prime News, we talked about the public memorial service for Caylee Anthony which is scheduled for Tuesday morning. It’ll probably help some people because grieving had to be suspended for so long while they held out hope that the little girl would be found alive, but unfortunately, it’s likely to be another circus, and I’ll be part of the coverage of it. I opined on Friday that Casey Anthony’s attorney should take some photos of the crowd to the hearing on his motion to change the venue (move the trial out of Orlando). He can say, “Look, Your Honor, here are 10,000 people who already think my client is guilty.” Casey won’t be there, by the way, because jail policy allows her to attend nothing outside of the facility except for court appearances. Believe it or not, I have mixed feelings about that because she is innocent until proven guilty, so there’s theoretically a chance that an innocent woman is being kept from her daughter’s funeral. I’m really not troubled by it in this case because of the volume of evidence suggesting she was involved in her child’s death and because of the security issues that her attendance would create, but I’ve worked on a case where a parent accused of harming a child turned out to be completely innocent, so I think situations like this need to be considered very carefully on a case-by-case basis rather than be governed by a blanket prohibition. Lastly, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has lost a major endorsement — Frosted Flakes — because of his pot-smoking picture, and as I’m sure you know if you’ve been following this here on the blog, I think Kellog’s did exactly the right thing.
Wrapping up the week 2/6/09
In a disgustingly bizarre new case, an 18-year-old male is accused of posing as a girl on the social networking web site “Facebook,” convincing male students at his high school to send him nude photos of themselves, and then using the photos to blackmail several of the male students into performing sex acts on him. He’s also accused of having child pornography at his home and calling in a bomb threat to the school. Clearly a psychopath, possibly a pedophile (depending on whether he is sexually aroused by prepubescent children as well as adolescents), this creep faces close to 300 years in prison if convicted of all charges, and yet he’s out on bail! That, I don’t get. His attorney has said that there are events that happened in the past that will help explain his client’s actions in this case, so it sounds to me like there’s an abuse-based insanity defense in the works. If so, it’s a load of crap. Even if this creep was abused day in and day out as a kid, he knew better than to abuse anyone else. He clearly knew that his actions were criminal because he went to great lengths to intimidate his victims out of reporting the crimes. The victims, all males so far, likely will need good long-term psychological help to deal with what happened to them. They likely were somewhat vulnerable psychologically to begin with if they gave in to the blackmailer just to prevent their peers from seeing the nude photos. Also, when I was an intern at a veterans’ hospital, there was actually a psychotherapy group there for male survivors of sexual abuse, and I learned that men who’ve been sexually abused by other men not only experience all of the negative effects that women experience but also some sexual identity issues that can take years to work through. I’m not saying it’s worse for guys than women at all, just that there are some issues related to masculinity that seem to manifest and require professional attention over extended periods of time. As Prime News host Mike Galanos correctly observed, this case also reiterates the all-important message for parents and teenagers that there’s nothing good to come from posting illicit photos of yourself on the web.
Surprise, surprise, there’s another case of a twenty-something female teacher having sex with a male student, this time starting when the student was in sixth grade. As many times as I’ve written and talked about these cases, I’m not sure what more there is to say at this point!
In Session anchor Lisa Bloom scored an interview with Drew Peterson, the former cop whose wives seem to keep dying and/or disappearing. Lisa told me that just talking to Peterson gave her a very creepy feeling, so it’s tough to imagine why another young woman would apply for the job of being Mrs. Peterson, but one did. As I wrote about here, yet another twenty-something woman got engaged to Peterson toward the end of last year, but the news is that she’s thought better of it and ended the relationship. I’m glad for her because, as I’ve said, that seems to be one dangerous job! I see a parallel between Peterson and Casey Anthony in that, as bad as the attention they’re getting is, they can’t seem to help themselves from enjoying the spotlight a little. Contrast that to the behavior of Beth Holloway (Natalee Holloway’s mom) in the media when her daughter’s case was in the news every day. There was a woman who seriously was grief-stricken by the disappearance of a loved one, had nothing to do with it, and never once seemed to enjoy being in the spotlight. She always seemed to be a reluctant participant in the media coverage of the case, doing it only to keep pressure on Aruban authorities to solve the case. The warped enjoyment of even extremely-negative attention that’s apparent in Peterson and Anthony doesn’t make them guilty of course, but I do think it suggests the level of self-focus that a person capable of murdering his/her spouse or child would need to have.
Lastly, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps reportedly has been suspended from competitive swimming for three months after a photo of him smoking pot was made public. The local sheriff in the jurisdiction where the pot smoking apparently took place reportedly is considering filing a misdemeanor charge against Phelps. I have to disagree with Issues host Jane Velez-Mitchell on this one. She argued against Phelps being charged and called pot smoking a “victimless crime.” Phelps absolutely should be charged. The kids of America need to see that no one gets a pass when it comes to drug use. Phelps did not make a “mistake.” A mistake is an accident. Doing drugs is an intentional stupid choice to break the law. Also, pot smoking is not a victimless crime. Many crimes, very possibly up to and including murder, had to happen to get that pot from wherever it was grown to Phelps’ lips, so while the actual smoking of it might not have hurt anyone but Phelps (that we know of) in this case, the pot supply chain definitely hurts many, many people. To his credit, I haven’t yet heard Phelps say that he “didn’t ask to be a role model” for kids, as many athletes do when they’re caught behaving badly. The fact is, Phelps and other athletes do ask to be role models when they take money to endorse non-athletic products. For example, when an athlete tells kids they should eat a certain breakfast cereal because the athlete eats it, that’s asking kids to pattern their behavior after the athlete’s behavior, i.e. asking to be role models. As I’ve said many times, I think it’s stupid to pattern your life after someone just because he/she has some talent that you envy, and I think parents generally need to do better jobs of making their kids understand that. But (and this is a big “but”), I have no sympathy whatsoever for athletes who basically say, “Emulate me, but only when I want.”
Have a good weekend!
A perfect storm 2/2/09
If you’re concerned, as I am, about the number of American kids on psych meds, please read my new column, titled “A perfect storm,” on WorldNetDaily today, Monday, February 2, 2009. You’ll find it on the WorldNetDaily web site under “Commentary,” and if you miss it today, you can find it in their archives by typing “Brian Russell” in the “WND Search” box.
When Rod Blagojevich ousted as governor of Illinois last week, no one was surprised, but when Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps admitted smoking marijuana in a tabloid photo, I’ll bet many were. I wasn’t, and on this Superbowl Sunday night, let me remind you what I said back during the Summer Olympics, as Phelps was swimming his way into the history books. Just because a guy can swim fast doesn’t mean he’s worth emulating anywhere but in a pool. Unfortunately, many kids don’t get that, and it’s because many adults don’t get it either. Adults put way too much emphasis on sports in our culture, and they raise their kids to do the same. I’ll admit, I’ve never understood it personally. I’ve generally always preferred to actually be doing something fun rather than watching others do something fun, and if the something is athletic, defeating someone else generally isn’t the point. Think about it. Unless you were directly involved, or know someone directly involved, or had a financial stake (legitimate or otherwise) in it, who really cares who won tonight’s Superbowl? What difference did the outcome of that game make in your life? Answer: no more of a difference than the outcome of a game of tic-tac-toe going on right now somewhere in the world between two people you’ll never meet. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying watching and playing sports, as long as they’re understood for what they are: entertainment and recreation, pure and simple, no different from watching a sitcom or playing an instrument. Sure, there are some positive lessons to be learned from sports (as there are from t.v. and music and other forms of entertainment/recreation) – lessons like teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance, physical fitness, and the pursuit of excellence – but for almost every human being, the real importance of those lessons derives from their transferability to other areas – like school and work and relationships – that do affect their lives profoundly. If kids would get sports into proper perspective, they’d get the players into proper perspective, and they’d be less likely to emulate the often-horrendous off-hours behavior of college and professional athletes. (And if you’d like to know why professional athletes seem to do so many stupid things or why smoking marijuana is among the stupidest things an adult or kid could do, take a look back at previous posts like “Stupidity + money = trouble,” “Sex, drugs, and lies,” and “More evidence that weed is unwise.”)