Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cultural at heart? Or are some people overly-sensitive?

Attention to detail. Photograph from Facebook
To tell you the truth, the idea of people celebrating Good Friday by partaking in recreations of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ doesn’t even phase me any longer.

When I see these celebrations that literally have one person playing Jesus strapped up to the cross, about the only question I have is whether he was just bound with rope? Or did he allow himself to have nails driven through his hands.

THE REAL HARD-CORE celebrations take it to the extreme. “Jesus” could literally die again on that cross, if people aren’t careful. That’s devotion!

But what should we think of a school in Brazil that went so far as to have its children re-enact the crucifixion, with someone using his Facebook account to post pictures?

The Daily Mail newspaper in England reports that some people are opposed to the idea of an execution being brought to life. Others seem to think it’s too adult an image for children to be exposed to.

Then, there are those who want to rant about Catholics.

BUT LIKE I already wrote, I’m used to the image. It cropped up in Spanish-speaking enclaves Friday across the country. It also is something that is way too common this time of year in Spanish-speaking countries.

I still recall a story out of Mexico a few years ago about a tavern argument that turned into a bloody brawl. The man who had played Jesus in past years was quarrelling with the man who played Judas.

When others in the tavern figured that out, they ganged up on Judas and beat him senseless. When the police arrived, Judas got arrested – even though it seemed Jesus provoked the quarrel.

What is a few kids re-enacting such a scene, by comparison?

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Yasiel Puig: Only as smart as his batting average?

The Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is an intriguing character because it seems there are those in baseball who are determined to look down upon him, regardless of what he does.

I don’t doubt that if he couldn’t hit any more, he’d be out of the world of professional baseball in the United States – and there would be those trying to figure out a way to send him back to his native Cuba.

IT IS THAT old baseball adage, “You’re only as smart as your batting average.” Implying that certain people can be jerks and get away with it, so long as their on-field activity overcomes it.

Others have to toe the line, so to speak, because they’re not good enough players to be eccentric – which is a polite way to describe Puig’s outspoken and wild nature that seems to bother certain people.

Dan LeBatard, a columnist with the Miami Herald, recently wrote a commentary pointing out that Puig is merely 23 and is making a significant adjustment from a country that is so foreign to many of us – even though it is about as close to Miami as Chicago is to Milwaukee.

Then, there is Los Angeles magazine, which published a profile about Puig’s journey from Cuba which included being smuggled from the Caribbean island to Mexico, then figuring out the way to the United States.

WHICH IN HIS case involved dealing with less-than-savory people who at one point – when they weren’t getting the fee they demanded, threatened to cut off body parts, so as to make him worthless for professional baseball.

One of the points that caught my attention was that even when he was playing baseball in Cuba, he got a reputation as somebody who was a bit too wild – somebody who liked his “beer and girls” just a bit too much to please the types who want to think professional athletes are some sort of role models for our society.

Instead of just people who happen to have a bit more physical talent than the average human being.

Perhaps this is just the kind of guy Puig is destined to be – the colorful story of coming to this country (not really heard since Orlando Hernandez was smuggled off Cuba on Christmas 1997 after being banned from playing in the Cuban leagues because his half-brother, Livan, defected).

HERNANDEZ, OF COURSE, wound up pitching several years with the New York Yankees and helping both them and the Chicago White Sox to World Series titles. Even hermano Livan was a part of one of those Florida Marlins teams that managed to win a World Series.

Does this mean the Dodgers are going to have to make their first World Series appearance since 1988 (the year Kirk Gibson did his arm pump after hitting a game-winning home run) with Puig on the team for the trash talk to cease?

Probably. Because despite being Rookie of the Year for 2013, Puig’s current line of baseball intelligence (as of Thursday morning) is a .250 batting average, with one home run (off San Diego Padres pitcher Ian Kennedy) and five runs batted in in 12 games played.

We’ll have to see how he does during the Dodgers’ remaining 147 ball games before making further judgment. Unless you’re only at the ballgame to eat the $20 nachos. All you’ll care about is indigestion!

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Who will count as Latino in coming decades?

It will be interesting to see how people perceive things a few decades from now, when all the best guesstimates of our experts today say the Latino segment of our society will be significant across the nation.

Those are the figures that say about 30 percent of the nation will be Latino by 2050. It’s probably true. The population growth is staggering.

THE REAL KEY is to comprehending just how “Latino” will be perceived by that time.

The Slate.com website published an interesting commentary recently about the difference between “Hispanic” and “white.”

Personally, I’m inclined to think there will be enough intermarriage by then that the reality will be so many people with at least a trace of ethnic origins tying them to a Latin American country.

Being Latino will probably become just another part of the ethnic mish-mash that already is our nation. So many people will be able to claim to be “Latino” that I wonder how many will actually claim it as a distinct identity?

PERHAPS THAT IS the reason some people get so worked up these days whenever immigration comes up. They won’t be able to tell whom to hate, if they don’t do something know to prevent this trend from continuing.

And if they’re not careful, they’ll wind up being the crazy uncle who says stupid things all the time because one of my ethnic brethren will have wound up marrying his sister.

Then again, I don’t know of a Latino family that doesn’t have a tio loco somewhere in the family tree. So perhaps it is just an inevitable match!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New York’s free condoms for sale in Dominican Republic?

It seems one of the most popular brands of condoms being sold in the Dominican Republic were actually meant to be given away for free in New York City.

The New York Daily News reported how condoms carrying the “NYC” brand are turning up for sale in stores for 50 cents each. Which is less than the $1 or more that other condom brands sell for.

BUT CONSIDERING THAT the NYC brand is specifically made by Ansell for free distribution by the city’s health department – and specifically is branded as “Not for Resale” – the whole thing becomes tragic.

Someone has figured out a way to make themselves money off of the city-funded effort meant to bolster the public health of the community.

New York officials say the matter is under investigation, although it is suspected that some of the bars, nail shops and barbershops that were given the condoms for free distribution were instead selling them to entities that were turning them over to a Dominican company – that was then providing them for sale to stores across the Caribbean island nation.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A nightmare to ideologues; merely reality to the majority of us

Texas is already a heavily Latino-influenced state. Yet the trend is such that I’m sure the ideological types are having their nightmares.

VILLALBA: Will GOP listen?
It was a story I stumbled across in one of the daily newspapers from the border region – the people to whom Mexico is that place on the other side of the river, and not some alien land that they demonize with their ignorance.

STATE REP. JASON Villalba, R-Dallas, gave the perfect reason why local Republicans need to give it up when it comes to the nonsense rhetoric that views Latinos as a problem to be eradicated.

White people already are no longer the majority of Texas’ population. If current trends are maintained, Latinos will be a majority within six years – just as they already are the majority in California.

And for those who want to point out that Latinos don’t vote at rates comparable to their share of the population, it is estimated that within 15 years, even the Latino share of the electorate will be a majority in Texas.

Hence, they’re going to be outnumbered, if they keep up the type of rhetoric that makes Latinos distrust Republicans to the point that they vote 70-plus percent against Mitt Romney when he ran for president in 2012.

VILLALBA EVEN WENT so far as to suggest the term “unauthorized people” to describe those non-citizens without a valid visa who get termed “illegal aliens” in ICE-speak – a phrase the ideologues love to use because they want to believe they “just don’t belong” in this country.

Will they follow his advice and tone down the “white-hot rhetoric?” Or is Villalba about to enter a segment of the political world where about the nicest thing his alleged allies will say about him is that he’s one of the infamous RINOs?

Or maybe it’s the political future that all the Republicans In Name Only (they really seem like a majority, to listen to the ideologues) will unite and take back their own political party?

We can only wish!

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Monday, April 14, 2014

If limes are three times the cost, how long until we pay the price?

Just looking at them creates tart taste in my mouth
I was aware of the weather and citrus disease conditions that have caused the cost of limes to skyrocket.

Although I was still shocked by a CNN report about the issue that included the observation of a Mexican restaurant chain that said where it used to pay $36 for a case of limes, their most recent delivery was at a cost of $110 per case.

IT’S JUST A matter of time before we all get hit with that cost, and we have to decide just how significant that lime wedge is with our food or drink. And yes, there are some Mexican dishes that I just can’t envision without lime to add a bit of flavor.

And for those of you who try to suggest using lemons instead, all I can do is shake my head and say, “It’s not the same!”

Anyway, you should probably read the CNN report for yourself. Here’s hoping that conditions improve so that the cost increase is a temporary measure.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bothered by the concept of 14-year-old beisbol prospects? How about Over the Hill at 18?

How many 12-yr. olds think they're next?
Baseball America has a new story about the scouting operations by Major League Baseball in Latin American nations – focusing on the fact that the future stars of U.S. baseball are being scouted while still children.

The publication found instances of 14-year-olds or 13-year-olds, or even a few kids as young as 12, being assessed for their athletic skills to determine if they ever have a chance of being the next star New York Yankees shortstop (it’s probably going to get ugly between Derek Jeter’s retirement this season and when that star is finally found).

THE REASON WHY such young kids are being scouted seriously (even though many have yet to undergo the growth spurt to adulthood) is that professional baseball clubs now rely on the training camps they maintain in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela for many of the Latin American athletes they sign.

Those camps often consist of 14- and 15-year-old peloteros, giving it their all so that when they turn 16, they can sign a contract with a U.S.-based ball club – one that includes the valid visa allowing them to live and work in the United States to play ball for a minor league affiliate.

Now some do make it all the way to major league teams. Some of them even establish themselves as stars who get all the perks of athletic stardom.

But there are so many more who get their year or two in the U.S. minor leagues, then get released – many because they can’t make the adjustment to life in a foreign country.

HOW MANY PROFESSIONS do you find where someone can be a has-been (actually, a never-was) at age 18? And in many cases, someone who manages to “miss” his flight back home and stays in this country – even though the visa expired the moment they got their release from their ball club.

By comparison, U.S. residents can’t sign on with a professional baseball team until their high school classes graduate (even if they don’t). Which means most are at least 18 before they even make that adjustment.

You ought to read the Baseball America story. It is intriguing the way professional scouts are trying to find younger and younger talent, in hopes of getting the jump on everyone else.

But a 14-year-old having dreams of playing baseball isn’t as bothersome (in my mind, at least) as an 18-year-old with those dreams crushed and nothing else going for them in life.

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