Thursday, May 28, 2015

What goes around …

Any good news source worth its salt commits to telling you the whole story, pursuing the conclusion with unflagging patience so you, dear reader, may know the whole truth, may find out how it all turned out, and …

Who am I kidding?! Just count yourself lucky I remembered writing about this stuff in the first place.

Now I'm following up:

Scouting nearly reaches the 21st Century

Put aside, for a moment, the weirdness that Robert Gates, former CIA chief, now runs the Boy Scouts of America.

Forget that the premier organization for American boys selected as its president the chief spook, the guy who ran the U.S. Defense Department under a couple of presidents. Forget that after a lifetime of controversial statesmanship, seeing the world's dark horror firsthand, Robert Gates now wants to be the chief Scoutmaster.

Consider instead that Gates quickly unleashed some reality on Boy Scouts: It needs to lift its ban on gay leaders.

Scouting earlier this year had changed its policy to allow gay Scouts, but not gay adult leaders. It was a massive empty gesture, looking progressive but effectively doing nothing but the same ol' same ol.'

"We'll help you become a man, and work that gayness right out of you so you can be a right-thinkin' red-blooded American adult."

Not gonna happen.

Gates said as much when he spoke to Scout leaders earlier this month at its annual meeting.

“I was prepared to go further than the decision that was made," Gates said to the Associated Press before the meeting. "I would have supported having gay Scoutmasters, but at the same time, I fully accept the decision that was democratically arrived at by 1,500 volunteers from across the entire country."

Enrollment dropped after Scouting's decision. The decision has divided Scouting. Gates' first task is to shore up flagging membership. But his direction is the right one. Whether Scouting installed him as the tough-talking high-profile figure to do what the organization couldn't — speak truth to power — it's the right direction.

Opponents arose anew.

Headlines for Gates' speech included, "Robert Gates Caves on Gay Agenda for Boy Scouts," from ("Independent. American." is its tagline; "consistently way right of center" would be more accurate); "Robert Gates to Boy Scouts: Surrender Your Principles," from the Catholic Crisis Magazine.

And the triple-whammy headline from another "independent" news source,
Robert Gates' surrender of the Boy Scouts
Exclusive: Pat Boone to group's prez on homosexual policy: 'What are you thinking?'
What Gates was thinking is that Boy Scouts can't hide from the real world anymore. Its obligation, its mission is to help boys of America be independent, self-sufficient leaders. Not just some boys: All boys who want the Scouting experience of learning citizenship and leadership from the lessons the outdoors teaches. Because few boys live anymore in Lem Siddons' world of "Follow Me, Boys!"

Life ain't a Disney®™ movie. It's waaaay more complicated. Boys need something more. Better. Gates, who's steered through the dark, complex world, knows that.

Keep climbing, Scoutmaster Gates.

Hung out to dry

I'm happy to report my neighborhood has dried out. Where not two months ago I saw stubborn greenery and wet sidewalks in the face of the fourth sere year of drought, now I see lovely brown, lovely yellow. Lawns are drying to the left of me, dying to the right, as neighbor after neighbor has let their curbs lose appeal so that we might all have enough water.

Our ugly former lawn doesn't seem so lonely anymore.

Granted, some folks still water, and their simple act of sprinkling lawns seems now so aggressive and wanton next to the brittling landscape of their neighbors. Eventually their sprinklers will go dusty too, I hope.

I have to laugh at the California Department of Boating and Waterways, appealing to boaters in its public service announcements that a day without watering their lawn will mean one more day of fun their boats, with enough water to prevent running aground. Seems a stretch, but hey, the advertising is free, I guess. Whatever floats your boat.

We're a long way from saving, and it may be too late. Some communities in the eastern San Joaquin Valley are out of water, and hot summer has yet to come.

Sprinkle a little holy water for hope …

It is designed to break your heart

A. Bartlett Giamatti, short-lived commissioner of Major League Baseball, said that about the game.

Don't I know it!

I like winning as much as the next red-blooded fan. But not at the cost of hard reality.

The brutal math of baseball means a hero loses his second chance. The Giants sent journeyman ballplayer Travis Ishikawa packing.

In baseball lingo, The Giants designated Ishikawa for assignment. That means he has a short time to decide whether to go down to minor-league baseball and hope for a chance with the big club again later, or try his luck elsewhere.

Elsewhere is where he was last year, schlepping it out with the Pittsburgh Pirates after he'd been let go before by the Giants. He was thinking of quitting. Then the Giants reacquired Ishikawa, and he made his way back into the lineup in the second half of the season.

Good thing, too, because Ishikawa hit the greatest home run in San Francisco Giants history (Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World" in 1951 was the New York Giants' greatest home run, propelling that team over the Dodgers into the World Series.)

Ishikawa's improbable two-out, bottom-of-the-ninth, three-run homer against the St. Louis Cardinals put the Giants into the World Series for the third time in five years, and the Giants went on to win their third World Series ring.

The Giants nation went wild.

Then Ishikawa got hurt as this season began, and others took his place. The outfield soon filled up with too many lefthanders like him. He was built to be a first baseman, but the Giants have more than enough of them.

Ishikawa, October's hero, loses out. Winning has won out. It's a damned shame.

I hope he never has to buy a drink — even if it's milk — in the presence of a Giant fan for the rest of his life. He deserves that much at least.

We'll always have the memory of that home run, Ishikawa sprinting around first, arms upraised like wings.

Do some damage wherever you land, Mr. Ishikawa. Just not against the Giants.

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