June 26, 2015

The last two days have seen some big decisions handed down by the Supreme Court and I hope (but I sincerely doubt) most folks will avoid a knee-jerk, “this country is done like dinner” reaction. Regarding yesterday’s Obamacare decision, I don’t think what the Court decided matters a whole lot: it was a poorly-written law that remains in the process of falling on its own sword due to the fact that it really had nothing to do with reducing the cost of health care in this country and/or reducing the number of uninsured people; it was all about expanding Democratic power and patronage in as many states as it could with all those phony health-care exchanges that, by and large have been poorly-run and fertile beds for corruption and greed. Sooner or later – especially when the employer mandate kicks in – the law will begin to implode and legislative action at the federal and state levels will be needed to fix it. Which is OK – that’s how legislation ought to be dealt with. Using the courts to overturn bad laws should be a court of last resort (pun intended).

While on the surface I agree with the Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states and requiring states to recognize same-sex marriage across state lines, it would be nice if that’s where it would end, but I highly doubt it. As I have written in this space many times and most recently here, the goals of liberalism as a whole and gay-rights activists in particular know no bounds: they’ll only be happy when this country treats homosexuality and pan-sexuality as something that should be taught in kindergarten onward and forced down the throats of folks whether they agree with it or not, to the point where one’s freedom and livelihood is taken away should you utter one syllable or act in any kind of way against anything or anyone not heterosexual.

As I’ve written many times before, the real goal of gay-rights activists is not just to have gay marriage legalized as a matter of civil law, but to force churches to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies against their beliefs and sacramental traditions. As I commented in a previous post:

“The bottom line here is that the goal of LGBT activists is to eliminate tax-exempt status for churches that refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. Is that what you want? because that’s coming. Just as LGBT activists are looking to eliminate from any set of laws marriage as defined between a man and a woman. And once that is eliminated you have a slippery slope. Why not two men and three women? Why not a woman and her pet hamster? A guy and his Harley Davidson? You might laugh, but this is where it is all headed. The moment you eliminate any kind of protection offered to people baaed on their religion and teachings you might as well forget everything this country was founded upon.”

What the Court’s decision has done is open the door to absolute chaos: you can expect polygamy activists to start demanding the right to have multiple wives (and husbands) recognized as legal; I have no doubt wackos out there will demand to be married to their pet bunny or dog. (Actually, maybe they’re no wackos at all – I have little doubt Tracey would have loved to be married to her beloved rabbit Marble, who I know were I ever to demand Tracey make a choice between me and Marble she would have chosen the latter.)

But I digress.

I’m glad Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey posted about this very thing today and agree that the rights of churches to retain their historic and sacramental beliefs hangs by a very slender thread. We now live in a country gone mad, where a vocal and politically-savvy minority enthusiastically supported by Big Media is aggressively working to undercut every foundation – cultural, historical, religious, and legal – this nation’s founders had in mind when the Constitution was put in place. The inmates are now in control of the asylum, and while agree with the Court’s latest decisions on their face, I doubt very much it understood the powerful forces that have been unleashed as a result. As Morrissey predicts:

Get ready for a massive legal assault on houses of worship that refuse to accommodate same-sex weddings. Even legislation on the federal and state level may not be able to undo the broad opening that Kennedy et al has forced on the religious institutions and people in the US. It’s clear that the Supreme Court has become unmoored from the Constitution, and in doing so has unmoored all of us as well.

Indeed. We are living in dangerous times, and I doubt they are going to get any less dangerous.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 09:21 | Comment (1)

This is what it’s all about, señoras y señores: the prize, the fame, the fortune. Specifically, the Spielberg Memorial Trophy, and one of those snazzy polyester jackets. Last weekend was the official opening of Goodboys Boot Camp: five weeks of two-a-week minimum visits to the range to work on everything and anything golf related. Putting into practice everything that my swing coach Alex Black showed me last time, my swing has settled into a pretty consistent routine that bodes well for Goodboys weekend if I can just keep my head about me and stick to the fundamentals.

Right now my focus is in two specific areas: 3-wood and driver accuracy off the tee, and 7-8-9 irons and my pitching and sand wedges. For the former, using the ball markings to ensure I square up at address to my aiming point and avoiding the tendency to play the ball too far forward; for the latter, not standing too close to the ball and avoiding the tendency to play the ball too far forward. In both areas I feel like I’m making good progress in staying disciplined and not jumping at the ball and over-swinging which is another tendency as well. (Hey, if I didn’t have all these damned tendencies I wouldn’t be a 26-handicap, would I?)

I’m also spending a lot of time on my short game. Alex was right in two areas: 1) While chipping I was standing too close to the ball. Standing a little further back and flattening out my swing has gotten me back to where I’m accustomed to be, short game wise, and 2) using the ball markings to line up putts has given me a great deal of confidence on those three to six footers that have always been a problem for me. By following Alex’s advice, all I have to do is square up and focus on speed. Will it help? God only knows – the bone-crushing pressure of a Goodboys Invitational has a habit of exposing every weakness you have. Which is why practicing the kind of discipline Alex is preaching is so important.

This weekend will be the last pure range work weekend before Goodboys Invitational week. Next week I’ll be playing nine holes with Alex at Superstition Springs to work on my mental game and course management. The following week I’ll play a round of 18 at Stonecreek Golf Club – a course you most definitely have to manage your way around. For Goodboys week I’ll play at least once, perhaps twice, before Goodboys Invitational weekend to get accustomed to New England-style greens. The Monday after Goodboys I’m playing with some Goodboys mates at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut. By the time my final putt falls that day I’m guessing I’ll be sick of golf and ready for a nice long layoff – that will probably be the last time I play golf this year. A couple of planned nights by the H2O in historic Newport, Rhode Island ought to be the perfect tonic to celebrate the end of golf for 2015, no matter how it all turns out.

After that? It’s the “Debt Payoff Sprint” which I hope will end somewhere around Halloween. Keep your head down, pay the bills, and git ‘er done!

But that’s looking far into the future. Right now I’m just focused on my Goodboys Invitational prep work. This year I’m paired with one of my favorite Goodboys, “Cubby” Myerow and while I don’t expect us to burn up the Plymouth golf courses we’ll be playing, I certainly plan on doing my part and trying to shoot as low as I can. Like me, Cubby likes to spray that ball off the tee, so I’m guessing we’ll have ample opportunity to see plenty of flora and fauna during what promises to be quite the scenic Goodboys Invitational weekend.

Filed in: Golf Quest,Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:12 | Comments (0)
June 25, 2015

I’ve recently gotten hooked on the Travel Channel’s “The Dead Files”, a show where a woman (Amy) who sees the dead and speaks to the dead and a retired NYC homicide detective (Steve) pair up to research supernatural phenomena and scare the bejeezus out of folks like me who tend to believe in that sort of thing. The shows all follow a similar pattern: The NYC cop gets a call from someone whose house or place of business is haunted and meets with the people involved. At the same time (but without the cop’s involvement) Amy does a walk-through of the property and describes the experiences she is encountering with the dead. She’ll inevitably have a artist sketch out some of the things she sees. Steve, in turn, uses all sorts of local resources and folks to investigate the history of the property. Then, at the end, everyone gathers around the table to share their findings and the artist’s sketch, and they figure out a plan of action to get rid of the ghosts.

Is it hokey? I dunno. Is it legit? I also don’t know, but it sure is entertaining. Here’s a sample.

What I have learned is this: either Amy’s got a truly vivid imagination, or the creatures she sees are not just limited to ghostly visions of Uncle Fred or Aunt Ethel as shadows in the hallway: she sees creatures that are four-legged, alien-like, and creatures that make the word demon seem like a walk in the park. It makes one wonder how a loving God would allow such creatures to exist in eternity like that, but hey, that’s too deep a subject to contemplate – I just like the show. It’s definitely better than the show “Ghost Adventures” that runs on Travel Channel the same night.

But if you like that kind of stuff – and I do – they’re both entertaining, which is more than you can say about just about everything else there is on TV these days.

Here’s a funny story: the whole concept of this show isn’t a whole lot different from one conceived by my good friend Ben “The Funny Guy” of Goodboys fame while I was working my way towards entering the process to becoming a priest in the Episcopal Church more than a dozen years ago. Ben’s idea was that we would find places that were haunted and he, being of a scientific nature, would approach the phenomena from that angle while I as an ordained priest would approach it from a religious / spiritual angle. I don’t remember how we planned to wrap it up – maybe I’d get an exorcist and/or he’d write papers and get published in all the great scientific journals of the world. But no matter, it shows we were definitely ahead of our time!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:33 | Comments (0)
June 24, 2015

So now people are trying to purge the Confederate flag from everything and anything. I mean, I can understand why certain folks might be offended by the flag and what it has come to stand for being on public taxpayer-funded property. But now Walmart is pulling anything and everything to do with it off the shelves? And eBay and Amazon following? Where does it all end? I mean, what’s next? Do we raze Mt. Vernon and implode the Washington Monument? After, all, George Washington owned slaves, didn’t he? Do we whitewash President John Tyler from all textbooks and scrolls? I mean, he was kind of a scoundrely character who supported the Confederacy after he left the White House. It’s absolutely insane what’s happening across this country right now. And National Review Online’s Rich Lowry is right: it’s the liberal left that is driving the outrage.

But no matter what happens, there’s a funny thing about history. You can’t change it. Oh, you can reinterpret it. You can even deny it took place – like all those Holocaust deniers out there. But facts are stubborn things, and the Civil War, no matter what Ken Burns and his ilk might tell you, wasn’t all about slavery. And there were a whole lot of soldiers who fought on the side of the South that either didn’t own slaves or could have cared one way or the other about slavery. What they did care about was an overbearing federal government seeking to interfere in the rights of states to determine their own paths and do what was right for them – concerns that are as applicable today as they were then, if not even more so. Right now you have a federal government completely out of control, managed and controlled by powerful elitists and interests, and an entrenched political class on both sides of the aisle whose only concern is to consolidate and expand their positions of power. And to heck with the people who elected them with the best of intent.

I’m tellin’ ya, this country right now is in dire need of a good revolution. You can agree or disagree about the Confederate flag flap all you want, but what’s next? Are we going to start making reparations to African-Americans who today have no connection whatsoever to the lives of those who lived as slaves? Is that where we’re going? And what else will the liberal left find offensive about our history to start wiping that away? Any places and things with Native American names? Do we start renaming towns, states, and rivers? Why not just demand everyone up and head back to their most recent country of origin and leave the U.S. for the Native Americans. Will that make everyone feel better? Gosh, I hope so, but you know liberals – no matter what you do they’ll always find some other outrage to moan and groan about.

What’s going on in this country right now is nothing more than sheer insanity. I guarantee you this: I’ll be ordering myself a Confederate flag cup to enjoy my morning coffee with. And you know why? Not because I support slavery nor am I a racist. But simply because this country needs a few rebels to start making some noise and to tell all the elitists back east to take their oh-so-outrageous outrage and stick it.

—-

Update: See, I told y’all so! And I told y’all so! Like I always say, no one listens to The Great White Shank. Those who choose not to do so at their own peril! :-)

I’m just waiting for the first courageous Republican to stand up and put an end to this madness and tell these leftist clowns to go to hell. These people are nothing but ignorant bullies with nothing better to do with their time.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:23 | Comments (0)
June 23, 2015

How do you know you’ve officially entered monsoon season here in the Valley of the Sun? When you go to the Accuweather website and see the very first “Special Weather Statement” of the year. Here’s what this year’s first one looked like as of Tuesday AM:

Special Weather Statement in effect until Wednesday, 7:00 AM MST. Source: U.S. National Weather Service

…HOT TEMPERATURES CONTINUE THROUGH MIDWEEK AS CHANCES FOR SHOWERS
AND THUNDERSTORMS BEGIN TO INCREASE HEADING INTO THE WEEKEND…

HOT TEMPERATURES WILL CONTINUE FOR THE SOUTH-CENTRAL AND SOUTHWESTERN
ARIZONA DESERTS TODAY AND WEDNESDAY. POTENTIAL FOR HEAT-RELATED
IMPACTS STILL REMAIN…SO THOSE SENSITIVE TO THE HEAT OR THOSE THAT
HAVE SCHEDULED OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES SHOULD EXERCISE CAUTION.

BEGINNING WEDNESDAY…MONSOONAL MOISTURE WILL BE ON THE INCREASE
LEADING TO AN INCREASING CHANCE OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE
HIGHER TERRAIN ACROSS EASTERN ARIZONA AND TO THE NORTH AND EAST OF
THE PHOENIX AREA. VOLUME AND COVERAGE OF STORM ACTIVITY ON WEDNESDAY
AFTERNOON AND EVENING COULD LEND ITSELF TO STRONG GUSTY OUTFLOW
WINDS AND THE POTENTIAL FOR BLOWING DUST DOWN INTO THE LOWER DESERT
ELEVATIONS OF SOUTH-CENTRAL ARIZONA. A EARLY-SEASON/LOW-GRADE PATTERN
WILL SET-UP FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE WEEK. SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM
CHANCES INCREASE AREAWIDE BY THE LATE WEEKEND AND EARLY NEXT
WEEK.

I’m just glad I got my Tiki bar roof completed in time. Now it will be interesting to see how it holds up when that first haboob of the year comes rolling in.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 10:44 | Comments (0)
June 22, 2015

I meant to post about the U.S. Open yesterday, but hitting balls consecutive days in 100-degree temps just kinda wiped me out. It’s four weeks to Goodboys Invitational weekend and I just have to get my work in. I’ll get to it tomorrow if my latest car problems don’t get in the way.

I meant to post about my newest favorite show on TV – The Dead Files – and I’ll get to it. I’ll tell you this – my mom would love it – she doesn’t like gory but she sure likes spooky and this show is all that!

I meant to post about the Charleston shootings; I find it a vindication of my post the other day of what is wrong with society and our culture these days. Turns out the shooter had a friend that knew damned well he was planning something for like six months and didn’t say anything to anyone. In my view he’s just as guilty and should be charged as an accessory.

And finally I meant to post on the longest day of the year. From here it’s all downhill to December 21. Given how fast this year is flying by Christmas will be here before you know it.

I meant to post on the latest encyclical from Pope Francis. I know he’s a Jesuit and Jesuits are the leftists of the Catholic Church. But jeepers, to see the Holy Father climb on board the phoniest of phony progressive causes – global climate change – is pretty disappointing. Doesn’t matter to me – I’ve learned after all these years that anyone looking for wisdom or direction from the Church (no matter what denomination you’re talking about) is fooling themselves. Seek the love and mercy of God in your heart and act upon it in your own way. And to the Holy Father, all I can say is, stick to what you know – there’s already enough ignorance in the world.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:35 | Comments (0)
June 19, 2015

I know I’ve kind of joked around about the Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal drama/controversy currently playing out in the mainstream before our very eyes, but there’s something truly tragic and unsettling underlying both these cases and others like them, including this story and this one ass well that really needs to be discussed in unfettered strains of truth and reality.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when history judges the decline and fall of the American republic they’ll be able to rightly point the start of it all with my generation, the so-called “Baby Boomers”. I don’t know how it happened, or why – I’ll leave that to sociologists – but my generation has reaped a whirlwind that is now not just sown, but blooming in full flower as a glorified freak show of entitled brats without any sense of conscience, decency, or respect for others. This generation (I call it the “Me Generation”) have grown up in an environment where they’ve been given everything they ever asked for, lacked for very little (if anything), and been coddled beyond belief to the point where they think they’re oh-so-special and entitled to whatever they feel they need and to hell with everyone else.

Look at the examples above. Bruce Jenner has an overwhelming desire to be a woman. Fine. But rather than just dress up in wigs and ladies clothes and live out his fantasies he’s got to turn it into a cause celebre to celebrate the full extent of his fetish. Rachel Dolezal has an overwhelming urge to be black. Fine. But rather than just change her appearance and work for causes involving the African-American community that are near and dear to her heart, she tries to play both sides of the coin by faking her true identity in order to take advantage of opportunities that are not hers to take advantage of. You’ve got a blogger who embarrasses herself with a child-like tantrum simply because a tattoo parlor won’t give do her first tattoo on her neck, and a teenage boy who’s allowed to undergo surgery to transform him to a her simply because that’s been an inclination he’s had since a child.

But it goes further than that: you’ve got gay activist couples who, when a bakery declines to bake a cake for their same-sex wedding, rather than simply finding a bakery that will, undertakes legal action against the original bakery owners. And the same thing with that pizza parlor in Indiana that had to withstand ridicule simply because one of their workers said they wouldn’t do pizzas for a gay wedding out of their religious convictions. And a florist in Washington having to go through a similar situation.

This is sheer madness and, as National Review’s Jonah Goldberg wrote in his fine book, Liberal Fascism, nothing more then the bullying and bellyaching of a generation that has spent too much time being told how special they are and that it’s OK to act upon their feelings even in the face of reality and/or rationality:

I’ll say it again: Liberals are the aggressors in the culture war. The only shocking thing about that statement is that it ever shocks liberals. On their own terms, they take pride in being “change agents” and “forces of progress.” But the moment anyone attempts to defend themselves against the social-justice warriors, they are treated as the aggressors in the culture war. “Don’t impose your values on me!” should be translated as, “Stop trying to defend yourself as we impose our values on you!”

I see it all the time at the supermarket: parents (and this applies to mothers and fathers) asking their kids what they want for supper or what the family should have for supper. Kids who have tantrums in the middle of the store, or are tearing around the place unsupervised. Sure, it might be OK if they choose chicken tenders and zucchini, but twenty years from now these monsters are going to expecting the rest of society to meet their every yearning and desire for whatever it is they want because, you know, they’re so damned special.

Here are a couple of questions I’m just tossing out: how did we get to the point where a miniscule percentage of the population (and I’m talking about gays, lesbians, transgenders and whatever other category non-heterosexual call themselves these days) get to call the shots for the vast majority of the country? What kind of cultural and social norms are now in place where people can not just act out their fantasies and desires, but celebrate it to be a “role model” for others, or act on those desires in a way that not just brings shame upon themselves, but disadvantage others?

And I guess that’s where this is all leading up to: the lack of a sense of shame and taking personal responsibility for one’s actions. Here’s the definition of shame:

: a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong
: ability to feel guilt, regret, or embarrassment
: dishonor or disgrace

I suppose shame has gone out of style thanks to the Sixties and the Baby Boomers who grew up with the idea of “do your own thing” and “if it feels good do it”. And you also have the breakdown of the family unit and the diminished role religion plays in American culture, but even that you can place the blame at the foot of my generation. We’ve really poisoned the well in just about every way possible, haven’t we?

I’m not being a prude here: I’m really a “live and let live” kind of guy. But there ought to be limits to that, dontcha think? Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner should be ashamed of himself, not just for making afool out of himself, but for the amount of ridicule he’s brought upon himself/herself and his/her family (even though, knowing them, I doubt they even care). Rachel Dolezal should feel ashamed of passing herself off as a black person and using that identity to her advantage when it’s obvious to everyone that she’s white.

If I were to psychoanalyze these folks (and the liberal left in general) I’d say there is a lot of deep-rooted resentment and self-loathing at being raised without boundaries and without lacking in anything only to find out there’s no happiness to be found there. Money can buy security but it can’t buy happiness. Affluence and privilege can get you recognized and open doors for you but it can’t get you self-worth. Coddling can make you feel special and unique in the universe but that only lasts until you’re out in the real world and having to swim with the rest of the sharks.

It’s a pretty sad state of affairs if you ask me. I’m just glad I was brought up in a great family situation where I learned about boundaries, values, discipline, etc. etc. That, of course, is in and of itself no guarantee of anything – there are plenty of folks who grew up in good households and are miserable failures. And, likewise, those who grew up in less-than ideal circumstances who found a way to overcome it and achieve happiness and success.

Life is too short to spend it being miserable and making others miserable in the process. But there’s a lot of that going around these days. I’m just glad I’m turning sixty and not thirty.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:36 | Comments (0)
June 18, 2015

All the Golf Channel “Live from the U.S. Open” previews are done and all the speculations and predictions are in; it’s time to play some golf. Chambers Bay in Washington is a visually exciting venue, it should look beautiful on the big-screen TV. There’s gonna be some carnage out there, for sure, but I believe that the golfers who are most willing to accept what the course if going to give them – both good and bad – are the ones that will do the best. A few impressions:

On the surface one has to think that this course was made for Phil Mickelson. He’s grown to love links-style golf, has an awesome short game when it comes to ingenuity, and is playing a course that demands a great short game and no small amount of imagination. I’d be disappointed if Phil isn’t at least in the hunt come Sunday.

Tiger Woods looks like a beaten man. At his press conference on Tuesday there was no spark, very little humor, and it showed someone who is either tired, worn down, in fear, or just plan burned out. Maybe he surprises (and I would to love to see him in the hunt), but I just don’t see it. I think he’s in for a rough weekend.

I don’t think his game is quite up to it right now, but I would love to see Graeme McDowell in the hunt. He loves a good challenge and I loved the way he described Chambers Bay as “fiery”. He’s a good man, would love to see him in the hunt as well.

I think the bombers have an edge on this course, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see the likes of Paul Casey, Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, and Dustin Johnson somewhere near the top come Sunday.

I’ve been going back and forth over my picks, and I’ve finally settled on a group of five I see as likely winners: Phil, Jordan Spieth, Martin Kaymer, Paul Casey, or Henrik Stenson. Out of that group (Justin Rose is also a possibility) will win with the winning score at -3.

It looks to be a great Open. I can’t wait!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:22 | Comments (0)
June 17, 2015

Boy, am I glad I got the Tiki bar roof done last weekend. Just in time before real summer in the Valley of the Sun descended upon us. Once you’ve been around here for awhile you know the difference between temps in the 100s and the 110s. It’s not summer, it’s brutal. Just like winter in New England – folks can handle it when it’s below freezing and icy and snowy, but when the bitter, sub-zero temps hit that’s a whole ‘nutha thing altogether. And just like New England in the middle of a deep freeze, here in the Valley you don’t see folks outside much when the temps go over 110 – there’s just simply no relief. And its dangerous at that. Even at night the temps stay around 90 and everything is just hot. Even the swimming pool gets hot – when you get a period of excessive heat like this it can top out at 96 – not refreshing, just wet. In the house all the plantation shutters on the west and south sides get closed in the afternoons and we go into cave mode.

With Goodboys Invitational weekend just a month away from today I’ve got to figure out a way to get out early – before 10 AM at least – to get my work in. Which, of course, I will. But even then it’ll still be blazing by the time I finish. Which is OK, I’ve gotten used to it by now. They say we have a chance of seeing our first thunderstorms and dust storms next week – I’ll be interested in seeing how the new Tiki bar roof holds up.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:46 | Comments (0)
June 16, 2015

Monty Python had it just about right nearly forty years ago.

‘Nuff said.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:11 | Comments (0)

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