One Shining Moment

What is it about that song played at the beginning and end of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament? It’s hard to get the tune out of your head. Whether you’re a basketball player or an average Joe, the song makes you think you are “King of the World.”

That song – “One Shining Moment” – has been called the “anthem of college basketball.” This year Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson is singing the song written by David Barrett who said he wrote it after Indiana beat Syracuse in the 1979 tournament. Barrett gave it to a friend in 1986. CBS used it in 1987. It has been featured every year since.

CBS analyst Jim Nantz says it’s as much a part of the tournament as the Duke Blue Devils.

To quote some of the all-inspiring lyrics:
“The ball is tipped, and there you are, you’re running for your life, you’re a shooting star. And all the years, no one knows, just how hard you worked but now it shows. In One Shining Moment it’s all on the line, One Shining Moment, there frozen in time.”

What a shining moment it has been for the cities where the tournament is played. The just concluded Midwest Regional Basketball tournament in St. Louis had an estimated economic impact on the bi-state (Missouri-Illinois) area of $16 million. For the final four tournament in Indianapolis April 3 and 5th, it’s even higher, an estimated $50 million impact on the local economy.

Mike Kryzsewski, long-time coach at Duke who has one of the highest graduation rates of his players of any college coach, notes in his book Five Point Play, “Every year, at the Final Four, CBS puts clips of the championship team’s performance to the song “One Shining Moment’ — and shows it to conclude their television broadcast.”
Kryzsewski coached the American Olympic Basketball team in 2008 to win the Gold Medal in Beijing. He said the shining moment for him – his family arriving in Beijing – “when a career is truly shared, a family never feels like it has to compete.” He describes the moment they won – “it was a time of pure joy, knowing we had accomplished our goal.”

Even the President of U. S., who fills out tournament brackets guessing who will win, shares in the shining moment when he welcomes the winning team to the South Lawn of the White House where they are honored with a ceremony. The team, in return, usually presents the President with a team jersey.

No matter if the Butler Bulldogs win or not in the final game, its tale has been uplifting and inspiring. Butler, the long shot and underdog, has had this incredible journey to the national championship game, while all along making the little guy in America feel good. It’s as if we all count for something, as if we are all champions. Our hearts will be beating, we’ll feel so alive. The sky’s the limit. We can reach for the stars.
“One Shining Moment you reached deep inside. One Shining Moment you knew you were alive.”

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Which is more trustworthy – A published encyclopedia or Wikipedia? Weekly #7

Embarrassing incidents, contributors who falsify their names and make changes and edits to articles without checks and balances. It’s easy to guess that these words describe – Wikipedia, of course.

The New York Times says Wikipedia operates under the philosophy that anyone can be an editor, and that all information should be public. But the magic of Wikipedia is its quick and easy access to information. Why worry about research or reading, or accuracy when Wikipedia will be able to provide you with half truths, fuzzy research? In today’s world, who cares about the truth. It’s all truthiness.

I remember my parents buying me a complete set of World Book Encyclopedia in elementary school. I used it to write reports through upper elementary, middle and high school. Each year we paid for a one-volume update. These beautiful books, whose pages smelled so good and felt slick to the touch, were a prized position. Displaying World Book on our bookshelf provided us with a certain “educated status.” It meant we were going places, were serious about learning and headed on to college. Many years later my daughter received the gold edition of Encyclopedia Britannica from an older friend who, although well meaning with such a generous gift, was certainly not up with the times. It was already too late. I can never remember her using these books even one time but they looked classy on the bookshelf.

Forget the editors, fact checkers and all that work that went into the old-fashioned encyclopedia books. As Microsoft said “people were beginning to get their information in other ways.”

Is Wikipedia reckless and unworthy of our attention? Why else would comedian Stephen Colbert tell his viewers to edit the elephant entry on Wikipedia saying that the population of elephants had tripled recently? It’s all fun and games. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has said Wikipedia is ” self-policing and self-cleaning which ensures its articles are accurate.” However, many contributors to Wikipedia say they don’t recognize their articles after about a week because of changes, edits by others. As the old saying goes, “People believe what they want to believe.” Thinking in these terms plays into the success of Wikipedia.

A democratic society depends on the truth, not half truths or “truthiness.” Call me old-fashioned but I vote for a published encyclopedia.

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Second Life Needs To Clean Up Its Language – Weekly # 6

I first heard about gaming when a friend’s son was accepted in 2003 to a top University where he announced his major – gaming. A straight “A” student, I felt sorry for his father that all that brain power was going to waste. Wrong. Fast forward to 2010, online gaming is big business generating millions of dollars.
When I logged on to joinsecondlife.com it took so long, I was afraid I would be in my second life before I got to play the game. It turned out the program did not like the first name submitted for my avatar- Taylor – and refused to give her a last name. After starting over with a new first name it promptly listed several last names. Maybe too many “Taylors” running around in Second Life.

Entering this imaginary place was exciting for about 20 seconds. Right away things went sour. As my Avatar walked around this virtual world, she was immediately asked to chat. Being new to the game, she didn’t respond. That’s when the foul language began. I couldn’t believe it. When the question was asked “I wish you would say something” that should have been the end of it. One assumes that the questioner knew she was a first-time participant but the R rated language continued. So my Avatar quickly learned how to fly away. The R-rated language in the freewheeling Second Life needs to be cleaned up.

When my Avatar came down to the imaginary earth, she was chased by a character who looked like Casper the Ghost. Running away for a second time, I taught my Avatar to chuckle, shrug, say thank you, etc. We purchased clothes which turned out to be all white. (Not certain why other colors were not available.) After about one hour of playing in this virtual world, my eyes were watering so much that I needed to close the program. On a subsequent visit to Second Life, my Avatar visited Spain. Since she couldn’t understand the language it was much more enjoyable. This world seemed calm and friendly.

I also tried WorldofWarcraft.com but after downloading the free demonstration program, I was never able to enter that world. As part of the research, I also visited Farm ville on Facebook. Here there was no vulgar language but it was a much slower paced game. Farm Ville only welcomes invited guests.

Online games can be important for people who want to escape to a fantasy world for a time. It’s a marvelous training tool for the U. S. Army and its online war games or a global company could use it to strategize about new products.So what’s the point or message of all this? Online gaming is an escape, entertaining and fun but the real world is a much more unbelievable place.

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Real America – Outside the Beltway – Personal Blog #2

On Spring break this year, we flew from Washington D.C. Dulles Airport to Salt Lake City, Utah, and drove five hours to the remote yet spectacular mountains and forests of Sun Valley, Idaho.  This snow skier’s paradise, which lives up to its first name with abundant sunshine, is 2,334 miles from our nation’s Capitol.  In reality, it’s on the other side of the world.  Here we found real America, hard working, friendly, kind to their neighbors, strong sense of community and full of the volunteer spirit.

At the Sun Valley Lodge, we saw many experienced skiers volunteering for the Sun Valley Adaptive Sports program.  Severely injured service members (active duty and veterans) who served in the Iraq  and Afghanistan Wars, and are still being treated for unimaginable injuries suffered while they defended our Country, arrive at Sun Valley to ski, snowboard, snowshoe, ice skate and enjoy the outdoors.    I was struck by the patience and skill of the volunteer skiers and the real joy of accomplishment on the faces of the injured war veterans as they came down the slopes. The program opens new worlds to people with disabilities building confidence and independence. The program is highly praised and nationally recognized by the Department of Defense, military hospitals, military care units, VAs, and veteran service organizations around the country as a leading adaptive sports organization serving “wounded warriors.”

We also saw lots of individual acts of kindness.  My friend Gail Wray, a former “inside the beltway Fed,” helps other people every day of her life.  One morning she encouraged a woman with three DWI’s to attend her first Alcoholics Anonymous group meeting.  If she didn’t go the woman was going to lose her drivers license and my friend was intent on that not happening.  Gail also is working to preserve Idaho’s natural beauty.

Alexis de Tocqueville traveled through America in 1831 – 1832 – Tocqueville saw how “liberty could be channeled by widespread participation in public life to prevent a potentially volatile ‘tyranny of the majority’ from spilling over into anarchy or despotism.”  In the widely read and highly praised first volume of Democracy in America (1835), Tocqueville showed how boisterous local associations and a decentralized political system moderated the fractiousness of democratic life. “Nothing, in my opinion, is more deserving of our attention than the intellectual and moral associations of America,” he wrote.

They say in Sun Valley that doctors still make house calls. On a Spring break trip to Sun Valley, Idaho, our family found this kind of America Tocqueville talked about hundreds of years ago.  It gives us hope for the future.

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Should We Be Afraid of Google? Weekly #5

Google and the Fear Factor?  What’s it all about?   In 1970 at the then new, award-winning St. Louis County Government Center in Clayton, Mo., you could call up any piece of property in St. Louis County – 500 square miles and one million citizens – and find out the property owners, names, number of family members, addresses, whether or not they had paid their taxes — all of this information was available in about 60 seconds all those decades ago.  I remember thinking then I wouldn’t want someone knowing whether or not I had paid my taxes, or what my property was worth. 

Forty years later, we’re worried about Google?  A day late and a dollar short, if you ask me.

After all if you are one of 3.3 million workers for the Federal Government, every bit of information about you is available in multiple places.  The privacy debate is long over.  Just walk along Constitution Avenue in Washington D. C. where many cameras film your every step.   And then there’s the identity badges every Federal employee must wear.  The new ones contain a chip with all of your information encoded.  When you swipe your badge a record could be kept of the time you enter work and when you leave. 

If you are a political appointee, you must submit every bit of financial information about you and every member of your family.  For top secret clearance your neighbors, former schoolmates, friends and relatives are interviewed during a year or two year investigation of your life.

All of your emails on government computers are a matter of record and could go to the National Archives or used by the U. S. House and Senate as part of their numerous investigations.

Government issued cell phone calls are a matter of record.  Blackberry emails and other communications are under strict Federal guidelines.

I haven’t even touched on airline security and private sector security rules.

It seems to me Google is the least of our worries.

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Site Your Favorite Source, Weekly #4

The February issue of Vanity Fair lists an “eclectic mix of inspiration online” such as

engadget.com, featuring the latest gadgets and product news; whatshouldireadnext.com,

where you enter a book you like and the site suggests what to read next; cocodot.com, helps

you create all types of invitations or stationery;  eyestorm.com, sells contemporary

art, or cookstr.com, features a cook and a recipe of the day.  These sites accommodate some of

the world’s most popular hobbies, technology buff, reader, the crafts,/artsy person, the art

collector and the cook.

I don’t know if you would call politics my hobby but as a political news junkie, I follow favorite

sites everyday to be in the know of what’s going on politically.  My leading sites are:  

realclearpolitics.com, featuring political columnists and the latest polls; drudgereport.com,  

huffingtonpost.com and dailycaller.com, all online newspapers with breaking news; and

cnbc.com for financial news with a political twist.  In a matter of minutes, I am up-to-date on

the hot political stories of the day.   Hands down, the leading site for the politically connected

community is drudgereport.com, which almost always has breaking political news first.

Where would I have gone for my political news pre-web era?  All of the old offline favorites,

limited to my hometown daily newspaper, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal which

were delivered to our local newsstand every morning, the CBS affiliate radio station in town, and

the  NBC local and network evening news.  Today, forget these.   All my political news comes

from online sites.  As Chris Anderson said in his bestseller “The Long Tail,” this shattering of

the mainstream into a zillion different cultural shards is something that upsets traditional media.”    

If I ever tire of politics and get a real hobby, it’s nice to know these cooking and crafting sites

exist.

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I’m LinkedIn, on Facebook and Tweeting – Now What? Personal Blog #1

My social networking sites are all set.  I’ve been a member of the business site LinkedIn for about a year. Occasionally, I hear from groups I belong to as well as an update from a former co-worker, but it seems mainly a place to put your resume.  Tweeting is ok.  I follow a few people, politicians, but it’s no big deal.

But Facebook.  Oh my goodness.  I had no idea what was in store for me when I signed up.  Every member of my generation is on Facebook.  They’ve all invited me to be their Facebook friend  – high school classmates whom I hadn’t heard from or seen in 30 years, college friends, relatives I see maybe twice a year, and former co-workers too.

They seem to be on Facebook day and night, talking about everything.  I have no idea how to respond.  What makes me uncomfortable are my high school friends discussing such private matters as illnesses and in some instances death.  Should I send a sympathy card or respond in some way to these traumatic events being experienced by my long ago friends?   Most of the time I don’t even know who they are talking about.  What is the proper etiquette?

Then there are my relatives who devote hours playing games called Bouncing Balls, Farmville and reporting on their scores.  I just don’t get it.

My 23-year-old law school student daughter friended me as a courtesy.  Although I have tried to resist going on her Facebook page, I have, but there’s way too much information for a Mother to see.

Having said all this, Facebook is fascinating and addictive.  During the blizzard of 2010 I could update people on the amount of snow we had and post photos as well.  It was a convenient and informative way to tell people about the blizzard.

Can the sharing of information through this social networking site make the world a better place?  We shall see.

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