Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You Play to Win a Championship

By Joseph Kellard

Should the Indianapolis Colts have pulled quarterback Peyton Manning and their other starters in their game against the New York Jets, which in effect greatly diminished their chances to maintain their perfect, undefeated season? The Colts ended up losing the game they otherwise had a good shot to win. Here's my basic thoughts on the issue:

No regular season game, no matter if the team in question has already clinched a playoff spot or even the top seed in their division, is meaningless. If that were true, then there would be no debate about whether the Colts' coach should have pulled Manning & Co.

While it’s true that you should always play to win the game, this goal is subordinate to the fact that you primarily play for the top prize, the championship, the Super Bowl.

And if a coach deems that that goal requires giving his team less than its best chance to win, as the Colts coach did when he pulled the incomparable Manning for an inexperienced quarterback, then so be it. Even though you’ve greatly diminished your chance to win the game, you still give all your effort to win it.

This is recognition of the fact that not all games are of equal weight, that in certain (winning) circumstances, it’s not necessary to give all your effort in each and every game. You play to win, yes, but not at the price of jeopardizing the ultimate goal: a championship.

Some coaches allow their starters play throughout the season, no matter the circumstance, as the Patriots did two seasons ago when they had an unbeaten record and were chasing perfection. The Colts had that chance, too, this season, but unlike the 2007 Patriots they are opting not to pursue a perfect season. Instead, they are focusing on doing what they believe they need to do, and that is to win a championship. The Patriots had that goal to, and they played all their starters the whole year, and none got hurt—and then they lost in the Super Bowl to the Giants. Some members of that team, such as Rodney Harrison, said that the pressure of going undefeated definitely got to them.

What one sports radio personality here in New York said is that the teams that pursue perfection are pursuing immortality. Everyone who knows the game well knows that only one team has had a perfect season and went on to win the Super Bowl: the 1972 Miami Dolphins. They are an immortal team because of that record. And that is what teams like the 2007 Patriots were pursuing. But, remember, the goal is not to win immortality – that is, recognition in the eyes of others – but the satisfaction and pride of winning a championship, first and foremost. All else, including immortality, should be subordinate to this goal.

Ultimately, the goal is to win a championship, and sometimes within the context of a season that does not necessarily mean that you have to try your best or give your team its best chance to win every game. You should always play to win the game, but that doesn't mean that you have to give yourself the best chance to win every game, if doing so (i.e. keeping your irreplaceable players in the game) may jeopardize the top goal: winning a championship.

The mantra shouldn’t be: you play to win the game—because a single game is just a stepping stone among others toward the ultimate stone, the Super Bowl. You play to win a championship, and everything else must be subordinate to that goal.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Letter on (Christmas) "Consumerism" Printed in USA Today

By Joseph Kellard

USA Today printed my letter about (Christmas) “consumerism” in Tuesday’s paper, entitling it “Buying is a virtue."

I responded to one of those interchangeable Christmastime opinion columns that have some good things to say about consumerism, but ultimately conclude that materialism is a path to being vacuous and the cure lies in religion. Hence the column’s title: "You can't buy the real gifts of Christmas."

I must thank OActivist Paul Hsieh for his suggestions and edit that improved my original draft. Anywhere, here is the printed version:

The perennial rants against Christmas consumerism fail to acknowledge man's highest virtue: production — the virtue that makes consumption possible, sustains his life and uplifts his spirit.

Productive individuals must exercise other virtuous behavior, particularly rationality, honesty, efficiency and love of hard work.When productive individuals buy cars, computers, iPhones and other material goods, they celebrate their highest virtues. And they develop well-earned self-esteem, happiness and pride.

In contrast, the stereotypical insatiable consumer is essentially a social conformist, motivated to keep up with the Joneses and who has never learned to appreciate the inseparable connection between productivity and virtue.

However, when that connection is made, consumerism is something to celebrate.

Joseph Kellard
East Meadow, N.Y.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Announcing Dr. Andrew Bernstein’s New Book “Capitalism Unbound”

By Joseph Kellard

Dr. Andrew Bernstein has published his latest book, “Capitalism Unbound: The Incontestable Moral Case for Individual Rights.”

Here’s a description of the new book on

“This book is a concise explanation of capitalism's moral and economic superiority to socialism, including America's current mixed-economy welfare state. This volume offers a focused, essentialized, and condensed argument ideal for the layman who admires capitalism but lacking a succinct, accessible explanation of its moral and economic virtues.”

I was on a hike in upstate New York with Dr. Bernstein and other Objectivists a few months ago and he’d mentioned then that this volume was an abridged version of his excellent book “The Capitalism Manifesto” -- only better. On his Facebook page, Dr. Bernstein writes that “Capitalism Unbound” is “the best book I’ve ever written,” and “Any Rand’s works aside, the best book ever on capitalism. Ever.”

While there’s no mention yet of his new book on Dr. Bernstein’s web site, you may want to follow up there to get more information about his new book:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Conservative Sees the Light on Pragmatism

By Joseph Kellard

Over at the conservative commentary site, I was intrigued to read "Principle vs. Pragmatism," a column by Ken Connor, who is unknown to me.

Halfway through reading this column, I thought that perhaps a conservative has come to see the light about the destructiveness of pragmatism. Heck, he even invokes Aristotle:

"The truth of the matter is that when it comes to the most fundamental questions about human society, culture, and government, the middle ground is not a sensible place to occupy. When it comes down to the fundamentals, things are either right or they are wrong; to suggest that they may be right for me and wrong for you is nonsense. Moral relativism comes into conflict with the Law of Non-Contradiction when operating at the level of fundamental values."

But, alas, the light this conservative was seeing came from Heaven.

"There are, as our forefathers recognized, certain universal and self-evident truths. Human beings, for example, have been endowed by their Creator with an unalienable right to life. It is, therefore, wrong to murder an innocent human being, regardless of whether they are in the womb or in a nursing home. The act of murder is wrong regardless of who makes the decision to carry it out (mother, doctor, family) or how it is denominated (abortion, mercy killing, euthanasia). The character of an act is not changed by the rhetoric that accompanies it or the person who performs it. Such an act cannot be both right and wrong--right for you and wrong for me. It is either right or wrong--period.

"There are certain principles that define the world view of Christian conservatives, principles that we are unwilling to budge on …"

Connor goes on to invoke God and "other principles" that he and other Christians will not compromise on, without noting what those alleged principles are exactly.

Since Connor's basis of morality is God's arbitrary commandments and not the one-and-only reality from which principles are rationally derived, Lord only knows what those "other principles" of his may be, but you can safely bet that they are not a proper foundation for freedom.

* - I made some minor revisions to the original post.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Worshiping at The First Church of Global Warming

By Joseph Kellard

USA Today features a front-page story today that offers a portrait of the many religious groups doing their part to help avert the next alleged Apocalypse – i.e., “climate change.” In short, they’re joining hands and their faith with environmentalists who worship at the First Church of Global Warming.

Here are some excerpts from this article (which in the print edition sports this headline “For them, climate change summit is God’s work”):

“If anyone can help move the debate, it's faith-based leaders, says Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.

"‘This is a very religious country. God the Creator still does better in polls than any politician,’ says Lieberman, who backs legislation to mandate lower carbon emissions. He says he first began to embrace the environmental cause 20 years ago because of his own spiritual beliefs.

“Lieberman, who is Jewish and has deep ties with evangelicals, says religious leaders and constituents could still help swing some Senate votes, especially among Republicans. ‘This helps put the issue in the broader context ... of exercising our responsibility to protect God's creation ... and that helps us,’ he says.”

* * *

“Byron Johnson, director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, says there is evidence of a generational split on environmental issues among Evangelicals.

“In a recent poll, his institute found that 73% of young Evangelicals agree with the statement that ‘Global climate change will have disastrous effects’ — compared to 59% of older Evangelicals.

“That's no big surprise, [Sen. James] Inhofe says. ‘These young ones, their entire lives, all they've heard is that global warming doctrine,’ he says, shaking his head.

"The schools are just filling their heads with this issue."

Send your letters to:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Cap Tip to the Times

By Joseph Kellard

So there I was this morning, sitting in a Starbucks with an iced green tea in one hand and a New York Times in the other, wearing my driving cap, when I came across an article in the Styles section on the growing popularity of the driving cap. The article opens with the observation that more men seem to be doffing their baseball caps for the stylish driving cap.

“Many men have taken to the far worthier wool driving cap, and with good reason. It may not suggest that you are an indie-rock guitar rebel who thinks two chords are plenty, but it will keep your head warmer — and more important, your hair neater — in cold weather.”

Last year I decided it was time to find another style of headwear rather than my favorite but aging Yankees baseball cap and my tight-fitting wool skull cap for when the mercury goes way south. Actually, I had started my hunt for a driving cap in 2007, after I saw the every-stylish Tom Brady, the “Golden Boy” quarterback for the New England Patriots, wear one after a post-game press conference. Now, I’d always associated the driving cap with my Uncle Dan, an Italian immigrant and World War I veteran, which he often wore, as well as with old, white New York City cab drivers from decades past. But on Brady made the cap looked stylish, and that’s what a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with model good looks can do: sell cool.

I shopped around, and it took me bit of time to find just the right cap. I originally bought a brown, plaid-patterned cap that turned out to be oversized, flaring out to make me look like a 1930s newsboy selling papers on a city street corner, as alluded to in the Times article, or a hip-hop rapper, definitely a false advertisement. So I hung it up, searched some more, and found a smaller, slate gray cap at Banana Republic, which framed my face just right and that I could tilt to the side to add a bit of flare.

“Many men, drawn to the cap’s misty English gentry connotations, opt for plaids or tweeds of a colorful stripe, for some country-squire pizzazz. But its background is squarely 19th-century working class, when they were such common garb as to be known simply as caps. (The 20th-century desire to upgrade its status can be seen in the name “driving cap,” as well as its aliases: ‘ivy cap’ or ‘golf cap.’) In a humbler-looking fabric, like a gray or brown herringbone, a plain loden or a lightly speckled tweed, the cap looks great with a peacoat, leather jacket or fisherman’s sweater — or anything one might deem more Irish than squirish.”

I’m on the hunt again for another driving cap, like the one pictured in the Times article. If you find one, especially at a cheaper price, let me know. If you do, I’ll tip my cap to you.