Smelling a rat.

I don’t know about you, but I smell a rat.

Let’s back-up a few years to 2009 when the H1N1 flu, or swine flu, which supposedly came from pigs, was estimated to have caused about 284,000 deaths. Some studies estimated the actual number of cases including asymptomatic and mild cases could be 700 million to 1.4 billion people. Compare all that to the current pandemic, this virus that we’ve been told came from bats and started in China. The swine flu perhaps had its first identified case diagnosed in Mexico. In 2009-10, the world was not locked-down, businesses, stores, and restaurants closed, but because of this new virus, yes, we’ve all, the entire world has been put under control.

No, it can’t be just because Covid-19 expanded from China. Something else is going on, something major has changed, and it’s not our CDC, nor is it WHO. Both organizations were operating then. Technology has just become faster and more convenient. The world has not been in a major war. Here in the US, political control has only switched parties, and other nations have not had major changes. Our federal debt is beyond managed control, and a coming depression has been forecast.

What am I missing?

Since 2009, the number of books written and warning us about the end times has increased since 2009. But come on, our human race has been inflicted with viruses, plagues, pestilences, and wars since our fall into sin, and warnings of the coming judgment.have prevailed too. But is this one, the real end time plague?

 We won’t know until it happens, will we? So keep your face-mask handy.

And on a personal note, get and read “Just a Matter of Time: Until the End of Time” available at Banes and Noble. It may enlighten you as to what’s possibly in store down the future road technologically and politically.

Interesting Title: Montesquieu New World Island

Considering the political this year addressing this virus that’s infected the world, this novel was published in 2012 which forecasts political interventions into modern day life. Will this lead to that Brave New World?

“Mark is a farmer and inventor living the good life with his wife Susan of 33 years. While building up the interest in their Halloween Festival on the farm, Mark gets disenchanted, then obsessed, and desires to leave all the comforts behind to follow a desire for freedom. After experiencing a peace that passes understanding, an unsuspected surprise disturbs their tranquility forcing them to form new plans. The progressive idealists believe that the human spirit can be tamed by bureaucratic decree, and are slowly changing equal opportunities into equal results. The federal government has grown beyond its intentional usefulness of protection of our rights to intrusion into those rights, spending money not yet appropriated as if the citizenry were an endless mine. We, the silent generation were mistaken as we thought the boom could never end, treating the national debt as embalming juices preventing deadly decay.”

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Montesquieu-World-Island-Arnold-Kropp/dp/1480291218/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1588617423&sr=8-2

Social Distancing Yucckkkk!

Six-Months ago, would any of us have thought that you couldn’t have an extended family gathering for a birthday party. Or, that you couldn’t attend the Easter service, you had to watch it on your home computer. No way, right? Yep, but it happened, and now officials have begun using drones to warn and spy on citizens that may be breaking the social-distancing rules.

Two years ago, in writing my latest novel, I never dreamed that a gathering of more than 10 adults would now be illegal here in the land of the free. In chapter six, the main character invites three couples over for a Bible study and it was shut down by the local police in riot gear and fined $1500. A neighbor informed the police, and a drone flying over the back yard recorded the shout-out.

Get that book online at Barnes and Noble and help keep the book selling business alive and well during these times of non-essential businesses being forced to close.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/just-a-matter-of-time-arnold-r-kropp/1134632914?ean=9780578603711

Just A Matter Of time: Until the End of Time

Election Noise

“Make some noise, let’s hear it.” The electronic sign bellowed out to the 50,000 fans watching the ball game.

That is my summary of the election yesterday. Noise.

We still have the rule of law. We still have Two houses of Congress. In two years we’ll vote again.

There are two kinds of noise; natural and manufactured.

It’s the loud, consistent rumbling on the airwaves that gets our attention. It’s the thunder that causes us to look out the window. It’s noise, it’s the alarm clock that wakes us from slumber. The loud arguments between relatives disturb the kiddies. The media and what we hear on the tube, see on videos, hear from the media, from Hollywood, from Washington, and locally is manufactured noise that has the effect of dividing us.

Then there is the natural noise of nature. Thunder and lightning, volcanoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, the roar of a lion or bear, the woofs of a rabid dog, the hissing of a snake. We run to take cover. We huddle together. We reach out for a solid safe hand to hold onto. It’s the natural noise that draws us together.

The Psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Baseball, the American pastime sport of sports.

What is it about baseball that attracts so many loyal fans to watch a three-hour slow moving game? Slow, yes, compared to most other team sports such as basketball, football, soccer, and rugby. The seven players standing and waiting for the pitcher to receive the signal from the catcher squatting behind the batter. He fingers the ball, winds up and throws the hard small white ball at 95mph. The batter swings and misses. Ball one the referee calls, and the catcher throws the ball back to the mound. The four infield and three outfield players shuffle their legs and arms, rubbing the mitts getting in position for another pitch and swing for the ball to be hit in their direction. Possibly.

The game in various forms has been played since the 18th century or even before, but it wasn’t until September 23, 1845 when its first official rulebook known as the Knickerbocker Rules were formulated by Alexander J. Cartwright. Many updates and modifications have been agreed upon since then.

The baseball is 2.8-2.9 inches in diameter and weighs 5 to 5.25 ounces. The bat cannot be thicker than 2.75 inches with a maximum length of 42 inches.

Imagine the instincts and skill the batter must have looking at that ball approaching the strike zone in less than a second. Does he swing or not? Will the ball be down around the knees or up above his belt? Will it be inside or on the outside corner of the 17-inch wide plate? A fastball or curve, a slider or change-up at 78 mph?  The batter wants to swing the bat fast enough to hit that ball square-on with the full force of the swing to cause the ball to roll or fly between the infielders or outfielders or, out of the park. And the picture wants to strike him out or cause him to hit into a double-play. Three missed swings, and he’s outta there. Four balls outside the strike zone without a swing, and he gets a free walk to first. Pop-ups, sending the ball high into the air, is caused by the bat striking the bottom quarter of the ball, when the batter wanted to hit it square on. On ground balls, the bat meets the ball a bit above center. A good hard line drive is when the batter has swung the bat at the right speed interpreting the speed by the perceived vision of the pitcher’s performance. If he swings too soon and he pulls it foul. Too late and the ball goes into the other stands. Just a tag later or sooner and the ball will be in fair territory.

Summary: A star player hitting the ball safely one-third of the time entices the fans to purchase jerseys with his name on it.

Three hours of this, when you may have gone to get a beer, and a hot-dog, that one swing of the bat determined the game. You missed it, but oh, there it is on the replay screen. Twenty to forty thousand watching in the stadium and thousands, perhaps millions watching it on TV. Yes, a one to nothing game can be boring if all the concentration is on the hitting and running the bases.

Fielding is another practiced skill aspect trying to accurately throw a ball from deep left field to the catcher to get the guy out at home plate as he slides into or around the catcher who’s concentrating on catching the ball on the bounce and turning to tag the runner before his hand tags the plate. “Safe,” the umpire signals. “No hold on a minute,” the manager signals. “I want a review.” The umpires signal to the people upstairs to replay and study the videos, while the players and the fans anxiously wait for the verdict. “Nope, he’s out.”

A long, long time ago, I hid on the back seat floor of the Plymouth, when dad and my older brother got ready to drive all the way north to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs get beat. Somewhere on the drive, I was discovered, and he had to stop to use the pay phone to inform mon where I was. Hmm? I don’t remember a thing about that game.

Wrigley Field is revered in Chicago as a landmark. It’s one of the oldest original stadiums, opening under the name Weeghman Park in 1914 at Clark and Addison at the Lakeview area of the near northside. The Cubs played their first game at Weeghman Park on April 20, 1916, besting the  Cincinnati Reds 7–6 in eleven innings. In the early 20’s the yearly attendance recorded 542,283 fans watching the Cubs play. It was not until 1988 when the Wrigley Family added lights to the ballpark. In 2017, the paid fans at the Cubs home games was recorded at 3,199,562.

Baseball is played in nine innings of three-outs for each side. Runs, whatever the offense can muster. According to data, the most runs scored in any single ballgame was 49 in August 1922 when the Cubbies beat the Phillies 26-23. In 2007 The Texas Rangers scored 30 runs in the first game of a double-header against Baltimore Orioles. Baseball can also be a game with lots of excitement viewing them safely hit the ball and run around the bases.

Currently, the teams play a 162 game season starting around the first of April, with the last game the end of September.  Then the post-season begins. The final seven-game (if necessary) World Series is between the winner of the National League East, Central and West divisions against the best of the American League 15 teams occurs toward the end of October.

Okay, enough about the game itself. Imagine yourself a 30-some-year old player, married with children spending eighty some nights away from the home field sleeping in motels, flying to the next city after the game for three nights in another motel. Then getting up early to go practice before the afternoon game, or an evening game that may end after ten pm, then flying to another city for another three-hour game starting at 1:30, thirteen hours later. Hardly enough time to get a good nights sleep. This past June, the Cubs played 17 games without a day off.

Currently, there are organized leagues teaching, coaching and playing baseball/softball for kids as young as Five. If the interest is still there, the kids work their way through the various age group leagues and into high school ball and possibly college. If a player proves his skill there, he may be drafted into the majors to advance to the A level, the AA level, the AAA minor league level and finally to the majors if an injury does not force him out. Players are recruited from as far away as Japan, South Korea, South America and our neighbor Canada. A bunch from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Venezuela and just a few from Europe and elsewhere. China and Russia, none so far.

Injuries in baseball are quite common. A strained muscle or an ankle, knee, arm, hand or shoulder sprain can sideline a ballplayer onto the Disabled List for some time. There have been broken bones. There have been concussions. Some pitchers have been injured by a ball coming back at them at 140 mph. Some catchers have been injured by a ball slightly hit causing the catcher to miss it, and the ball knocks off his helmet or bounces up into his thigh and crotch. “ouch.” Umpires have been hit by the ball. Fans have been injured trying to catch one of those foul balls.

Each team must have a support staff of base coaches, pitching, fielding and batting coaches, medical personnel, and all those who clean the uniforms to have them ready for the players entering the locker room. There must be drivers of the busses to take the players back and forth to the airports, as well as people to pack the uniforms, the bats, balls, gloves, helmets, shoes, hand gloves and protective equipment they use when facing the ball coming at 95mph. There must be cleaners for the locker-rooms and dugout areas, not to mention the number of people it must take to pick up the trash left by spectators under the seats. A ground crew is needed to cut and mow the grass decoratively. A crew must be available to rake the infield dirt and roll out the carp when the rains come. The grass must be fertilized and watered to maintain the field in excellent shape without ridges and bumps. 162 times a year they play, plus practice sessions and games in spring training in the warmer climates, which stars in mid-February lasting to the beginning of the regular season.

Hmm, the players are at the daily command of the manager and owner for seven and a half months of each year. What do they tell the players to do during that time away from the ball-park?

“Yeah, good, four and a half months off to do what I and the family want. Ah, that three-week cruise you planned was wonderful, but I’ve got to get back into shape or I won’t be able to swing that bat, or chase after the ball as well as I have been, or I might be traded to NY or LA so far away from home. “Sorry honey, I’ve got to go to the gym today, and the media has requested an interview, and the charity ball is right around the corner. Thanksgiving, then Christmas and New Years. “Oh man, I ate too much, enjoyed the desserts like never before.” Five weeks away and a new season starts. “Let’s take a trip to Rome before the team’s golf outing in Florida in three weeks.”

The next possible technical change being investigated is eliminating the behind the plate umpire calling the balls and strikes, as there have been many controversies as to the correct call. “Oh, no, that was off the plate,” the player huffs and puffs in anger, “You are capable of making mistakes Mr. Umpire.”

The future may be in the digital world of calling strikes and balls.

Is Baseball still America’s pastime?

 

 

Independence.

July the 2nd

During this tumultuous time of 242 years ago fighting off the English since 1773, the colonies wanted badly to gain independence one way or another. The southern colonies desired to keep slavery as their right while the north fought against it. The two sides eventually came together agreeing to declare their right to govern themselves as one united nation.

Thomas Jefferson was quietly composing the declaration of Independence to send to the British crown. Even though he was a slave holder as was Washington, he wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (back in those days the term ‘all men’ included all of humanity regardless of sex, race or nationality) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable (impossible to take away or give up) rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Let us not ever forget it, or as Ben Franklin has been quoted saying, “We must hang together or surely we will hang separately.”

 

July the 3rd.

It was yesterday 242 years ago that the colonies agreed to declare their independence, and not until 6 days later when the official declaration was read to the people of Philadelphia. No instant news in those days as news traveled slowly by horseback and sailing ships across the Atlantic delivering the news to England on August 20th: “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.”

A couple days before the end of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, George Mason stood up – a delegate from Virginia, genius, brilliant – and he said, ‘If Congress shall turn oppressive, the only way to reform what’s taking place is through violence. We must give the people the power to address a tyrannical Congress,

Article V of the Constitution provides a means where the states have the right to propose Amendments when ratified by 3/4th of the States, it would be valid to all Intent and Purposes.

It was not until 1938 when Congress declared the 4th of July as a federal holiday to be enjoyed by all. Our customs of celebration has changed over the years, from an earlier custom of building towering pyramids, assembled from barrels and casks and setting it on fire. Currently, we hold BBQ’s, picnics along a lakeside, a campfire, family gatherings in the backyards with sparklers and our own purchased legal fireworks, and then to view the local fireworks displays. We will perhaps record the Macy’s celebration in NYC to watch later.  This Year Hallmark is broadcasting a White House celebration as the President, and First Lady will commemorate the day by welcoming military families for an afternoon picnic on the south lawn and later viewing the fireworks display put on by the National Park Service.

Happy Independence.

 

July the 4th.

The last paragraph of that declaration.

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Cicero was murdered in 43 B.C. What might he have said that enlightened the Declaration of 1776?  “There is a true law, a right reason, conformable to nature, universal, unchangeable, eternal, whose commands urge us to duty, and whose prohibitions restrain us from evil,”

“It is not one thing at Rome and another at Athens; one thing today and another tomorrow; but in all times and nations this universal law must forever reign, eternal and imperishable,” Cicero said. “God himself is its author, its promulgator, its enforcer.”

What did Hamilton think of this argument?  “The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records,” Hamilton wrote in 1775. “They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”

Then there was Jefferson: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” — John Adams.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Concord Hymn”

R.W. Emerson

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

He penned these few lines about the famous Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first official engagement between Britain and the Colonies in Americas beginning on April 19, 1775, which lasted eight and a half years. The American Revolution finally ended on September 3, 1783, with America and the King of England signing the Treaty of Paris.

This document was signed by 56 Americans wanting to be free and independent, many of whom gave their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Tonight, when you see and hear the fireworks exploding, think of the shot heard around the world.

 

Watching a game.

Watching a ball-game the other evening as the right fielder was running hard to his left to catch a fly ball, the movements of his legs caught my attention, and my utter amazement. How does he do that? How do his legs know they must rotate like that, at that speed and in that direction? Two of those legs coming off the hip bone moving at opposing times: one leg forward, the other leg behind the torso, as the front foot lands on the ground pushing the spikes on the bottom of his shoes against the ground and pulling back causing the large thigh bone to rotate back which brings the rear leg forward, the hip bone moving back and forth, left and right.

Was the outfielder thinking along the way? Now the left, the right, left, right, left, let’s go legs, knees move, stretch out more, faster, faster more speed. There it is, I see the ball coming, it’s starting to come down.  Move legs, faster, faster, toes grab the ground and push.  Okay, now the left arm; stretch out all the way, shoulders turn a bit toward the infield, stretch some more arm. Yeah, you can do it, just a bit more. Okay good, now to the hand in the glove; here it comes, rotate palm up some but not too far, fingers open the glove and catch, now close it tight. You got it. Good work body. It’s ok slide along the grass a bit. Thank you. The coach, the teammates thank you. We won.

Unbelievable pieces of equipment. One long thick bone covered by muscles and tissue rotating off his hip connecting to a knee apparatus that connects to another tissue and muscle covering double bones connecting to an ankle which feeds the foot bones connecting to the toes. Two of those opposite mechanical apparatuses moving at the same precise cadence together. Truly amazing how this physical body of ours is put together.

 

When I was just a kid we used to sing a song.

The toe bone’s connected to the foot bone,
The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone,
The ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone,
Now shake dem skeleton bones!

The leg bone’s connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone,
Now shake dem skeleton bones!

Scientists, biologists have it all mapped out how these things work. How the muscles and skeletal bones operate around the joints. They tell us how to use the legs properly. They tell us what could happen if they are abused or if we fall and break one of those bones. They’re quick to inform us of our need to exercise the joints and muscles, not just the leg bones, but this entire physical body of ours that the entire human population is similarly equipped with. They also point out the similarities of our bones with those of horses, cows, monkeys, apes and elephants. How often has a horse, whose legs are so thin seemly lacking in muscle tissue around the bone fall down and break a leg? Or, monkeys as they swing from tree to tree missing a branch falling 20 feet to the ground resulting in a broken hip bone? Have any elephants been found unable to walk because of a broken leg. Our legs are designed for this size body, not the body of an elephant, or a Chimp.

They tell us it’s our brain muscle that sends super-fast signals to these muscular legs to get to work, run and catch that ball . . . quickly. The brain? Another muscle? No, not just another muscle, but a mass, like billions of neurons with possibly trillions of connections working together sending signals received by the eyes, the ears, our sense of smell and touch sending those signals to the different parts of the body to do something. The following fact as explained by the scientists is interesting to me. The left side of this brain sends signals controlling the functions of the right side of the body while the right part sends the signals on how the muscles and bones of the left side of the body should operate, both using the one central spinal cord next to our back bone.

But, all these well-educated scientists leave out the why part and leave out the how was all this designed in the first place. They agree that it was a process of evolution over millions or billions of years as these different parts merged together because of a necessity to functionally operate. Two legs are better than one. One spinal cord can handle it. Five fingers are better than three or four. Two eyes closer together than where the elephant’s eyes are located are better. Wow, if only another eye was situated behind the head what a difference in sight that would be. The knee joints should only move the lower leg up and backwards. Strong bones protecting the heart muscle sending a red substance to nourish the body with fluid, and lungs that continually breathe in and out. And, we’ve got to nourish this body with food on a daily basis, which is digested by a stomach sending strength throughout and yes, discharging un-needed parts of that food through a long winding tube and out of the body. Hmm? And then this brain that recognizes sight and sound is also very curious about the hows and whys things work as our reasoning ability has invented modern technology, designing this computer by combining millions of 1’s and O’s into certain configurations, algorithms.  Yes, THE designer has imagined and assembled all these parts together into one physical body very different than the animal world.

We can catch a ball flying thru the air.