Thursday, November 30, 2006
Marginalizing the Jurassic
Alan Greenspan said the other day that the worst of the housing market was over.
Let's see, does he have a track record on big market calls?
Remember his famous Irrational Exuberance speech in December 1996?
Well the stock market roared for over 4 more years, with the NASDAQ tripling in value. Thanks again for that untimely warning Alan.
It's a pathetic thing to watch old timers who just don't know when to hang it up. Is Rickey Henderson still playing in the farm leagues?
Another example would be Red Auerbach, patriarch of the Boston Celtics. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that I am glad he is dead. It's not that I disliked him, but more so that I couldn't stand the baseless reverence he invoked. He was old, and washed up 20 years ago for crying out loud.
In 1989, he drafted a stiff from BYU, Michael Smith, hailed him as a Larry Bird on offense and promised he would be "taught defense".
When Coach Rick Pitino left the Celtics, walking away from $30 million bucks, Red begged him to stay and ride out the storm. Then a couple of years later, Red started bashing everything Pitino did. As soon as Pitino was gone, Red intervened and insisted on drafting Joe Forte over Tony Parker. Forte is out of the league while Parker has a couple of championship rings and a Desperate Housewife.
Ninety percent of these old guys age like bananas instead of fine wine. Harry Truman became a nutjob in his dotage. Jimmy Carter is another trenchant example though it's debatable how sane he was to begin with. Just wait ten years and see how bonkers Al Gore and Bill Clinton become.
Everyone gets a little whacky when they age. Think about your own parents. But certain species really go off the deep end like the 60s hippies who became journalists and college professors. Their psychological demise is palpable over just the last few years. Ten years ago the New York Times defended a white student who called a bunch of black girls "water buffalo". Oh yeah, and they were also in favor of a $0 minimum wage. Can you stretch your imagination enough to see that in today's paper?
I certainly can't.
I have an undeveloped theory that people who cling to dehumanizing ideologies are most apt to go cuckoo long before the Grim Reaper visits. Imagine you are Al Gore and every SUV (not in your entourage) that drives by makes your nerves frayed? How long can your sanity survive?
Are your parents sullen hippy socialists? Maybe you should send them to Sunset Hall, a rest home for Commi's.
Of course sub-species exist. Pathetic football jocks Al Bundy and Biff Loman could not let go of their high school glory days. I am sure everyone has a couple of real life analogues in their own social circles. They are the ones that push their kids the most at sports, yell the loudest at games, and become fanatical youth coaches themselves. Don't get me wrong, I love sports, particularly basketball. But it's really sad every year to see a fresh-faced 24 year old as the new 5th assistant for Mike Krzyzewski, a guy whom you recognize as a recent Duke player himself. These young guys have the whole world in front of them but choose to keep playing a game which has already consumed twenty years of their precious life.
What makes these fossils disproportionately nuts is the descent from their pedestals. They were once on top of the world and haven't since recalibrated their egos. Dan Rather used to be "the man", now he's "the loser" embarrassing himself with every movement of his lips. Another problem for the dinosaurs is the present-day ubiquity of cameras. Think Michael Richards (though like Jimmy Carter, he likely started a few cards short of a full deck.)
I could easily list here at least 50 people from the sports world: Brett Favre, Joe Paterno, thrice retiring Michael Jordan, Joe Montana on the Kansas City Chiefs, Arnold Palmer, etc.
How many thousands of high school coaches belong in this category? Once hired, these guys think it's for life.
Speaking of life tenure, do you know how many Supreme Court justices have held on while absolute invalids? Mark Levin itemized the long list in his book. These guys should serve twenty year terms and that's it.
I was talking to an older guy (65?) about Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens, I casually mentioned his age of 83. My older acquaintance interrupted me and exclaimed that he didn't think octogenarians should be in charge of ANYTHING.
Amen to that.
It's one thing to offer a wealth of experience (Stevens worked for Eisenhower) but if your memory is shot, it's really beside the point.
I fully expect my kids to email me this post, many times, starting in my pre-dotage.