Education: Profit at a Price?

EN Translation: Education dies because stupidity rules. Photo taken at Erfurt Railway Station

Johann Friedrich Pestalozzi, a famous Swiss pedagogic theorist and educator once mentioned that it is of utmost importance to educate the population in a way that they become civilized experts who can pass their knowledge onto others. Failure to provide the very basics in education can result in the population becoming animals- not being able to control themselves in society and throwing it off balance. Education is the key to new dimensions in the life of a human being, as they serve as the steps from becoming a person who dreams of making something happen to one who made it happen, practically. However, in today’s society, it seems that the path to practicality in the lives of the students is being threatened, as many are being forced to give up their dreams and try alternatives in order to make money and provide food on the table. Or in the case of being a teacher or professor, it is becoming more and more difficult to get a permanent post, let alone settling down to have a healthy balance between a family life and a career.

The education system in Germany is a complex system, where the country has several different forms of higher education, ranging from the typical university, to the institutions that provide science and technology programs for students. The tuition varies from state to state, where some fees can range as high as 300- 500 Euros per month, which is far less than the tuition at even public American universities. Normally, with a Diploma degree, you would need five years to complete your studies, but this degree- equivalent to the American Bachelor and Master’s in one was replaced with the Bachelor and Master system in 2007, which means students can complete their Bachelor’s in 3-4 years and their Master’s in 2 years. Yet still, the education system does have one thing in common with the American counterpart: it is being underfunded by the state and federal governments, with more cuts on the way.

Marching down Juri Gagarin Ring to the Landtag

Take the state of Thuringia for example. The state is planning on cutting aid to the universities by up to $21 million, which would result in programs being cut, staff being laid off, and students losing more options to study, let alone teachers who can help them. In response to the plan to save money to balance the state budget, as many as 3,500 students and teachers from universities in Erfurt, Jena, Nordhausen, and Schmalkalden (just to name a few), as well as members of various workers’ unions and other organizations, took to the streets in protest this past Tuesday (23 November), to address this plan in protest at the State Parliamentary Building (Landtag) in the south of Erfurt. With loud whistles and horns, posters and sheets with signatures over three kilometers long, the march started at the Erfurt Railway Station and made its way to the governmental district where the Landtag was located, over an hour later. It would not take longer than 30 minutes until the Minister of Culture and Education, Christoph Matschie (SPD) showed up to address the audience, while dealing with the boos and geers at the same time. Matschie’s plan, according to his statement at the demonstration, was to compensate the losses with a supplemental fund from the Hochschulpakt 2020 (an agreement with universities where funding would be available up to 2020), while at the same time, expand and reinforce the university structure with additional support.

To sum up the reaction of the audience, many of the 3,500 were not amused with the plan and even received support from oppositional parties, including the Greens and the socialist party Die Linke, both of whom encouraged the continuation of the protests even if it means turning it up a notch further with more voices and louder whistles. Since the Elections of 2009, they have served as the oppostition to the Grand Coalition, consisting of the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Christian Democrats (CDU), the same party where Germany’s current chalcellor, Angela Merkel presides in Berlin. Christine Lieberknecht, who is the Prime Minister of Thuringia, also comes from that party. The students and unions have every right to protest the cuts as that has been the general plan since the beginning of this year. Some of the other cuts planned include reducing the funding for primary education (elementary, middle and high schools) as well as nursery schools, plus consolidating the high school and university structures to resemble an American educational model. This includes Matschie’s concept of having the University of Thuringia, which would consist of consolidating every kind of university into one, making it resemble something like a State University with over a dozen campuses in one of the US states, like Minnesota, where the author originates from.

Minister of Culture and Education Christoph Matschie speaks- and takes the heat from the crowd. Photo taken at Landtag

These cuts in education spending in Thuringia are part of the plan that was passed by the German Cabinet under Merkel to save up to 80 billion Euros in four years and rein in the national budget, in accordance to the policies implemented by the European Union. The eastern part of Germany, where Thuringia is located has been especially hit the hardest by these cuts, mainly in part because of the high amount of unemployment in that region and the social welfare support the region has been receiving since the German Reunification in 1990. However, as many members of the unions and student groups have mentioned already, the universities have saved as much as it can and can no longer cut any further. This is an understatement as many universities, like the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena have dealt with overcrowded seminar rooms, lack of access to research areas, problems registering for classes, and a very high student to professor ratio resulting in the professors being overburdened with obligations and requests and students not receiving the help needed to succeed in their studies. The author of this article can testify to that problem in particular with a couple departments on campus during his Master’s studies between late 2003 and 2007.  However, are cuts to the education system, like the universities in Thuringia really the way to go? And what about the future of the students, who want to have a high quality education without having to pay high tuition (something that may happen if the cuts are not through)?  Apparently, after receiving rolls upon rolls of signatures from students who petitioned to the state parliament, there is some reconsideration that will have to take place in order for Matschie to save his face and the politicians to avoid taking more heat than they received through this demonstration. The good part is that the budget for 2011 in Thuringia has not yet been completely etched in stone and that another demostration is scheduled to take place on 8 December with the goal that the parliament (and in particular, Matschie) will keep to the plan of not reducing the funding for universities and come up with alternatives.

Doubt has its limitations, but this poster..... Photo taken on the way to the Landtag
The crowd in front of the gates of the Landtag.
Petitions presented to Matschie at the Landtag
Candle of Hope for the future of the students of tomorrow? Photo taken at Landtag

The Flensburg Files will continue to keep you posted on the situation with the education system in Germany and the US as events unfold. In the meantime, enjoy the photos provided by the author as he took part in the demonstrations and took some pics of the events.

Useful sources:

http://www.otz.de/web/zgt/suche/detail/-/specific/Sparplaene-treffen-den-Osten-haerter-2049407950 (Deutsch)

http://www.otz.de/web/zgt/suche/detail/-/specific/Studenten-wehren-sich-gegen-Kuerzungsplaene-des-Landes-953077867 (Deutsch)

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international-business/Germany-approves-deep-spending-cuts-in-budget/articleshow/6480600.cms


The Beach of Solitude: The Haven for (inner) Peace and Harmony

The Beach of Solitude- Photo taken by Jason D. Smith

Solitude. There are many ways to explain this word as it belongs to the category of  the most underused terms  in the English vocabulary. While the dictionaries state that solitude means having a sense and/or place of loneliness,  there is more to this word than what is presented in print.  Solitude can mean the process of finding peace within yourself; in other words, your own inner peace. Solitude can also mean having a sense of serenity in a place where silence is the norm. Solitude can also mean finding your own personal identity as you try and reflect on what happened, try and make sense out of it, and move on knowing that you are in uncharted territory known as the future, and what you did in the past is considered irrelevant in the present.

For me, solitude means everything mentioned above plus one most important ingredient: identifying yourself through your own reinvention. This means when your life is in dire straits because of a series of tragedies or a situation where you cannot bear it anymore, you seek to find solitude to find out who you really are and what you can do to make a difference and be happy from it. This can only be done when you need to get away from society- from everything and everybody- for awhile just to reflect on what happened and plan ahead for the future with a new sense of identity.

Like many of you before me, this year was the year for me to seek solitude and find out something about myself, as a lot of events happened in my life that forced me to reconsider who I was, where I come from, and what I should really be doing.  Even though I do not want to go into detail about this, as this is my own personal matter, I felt that need to flee the ever changing pace of society- the one that is no holds barred and everything goes no matter what the circumstances are- and spend some time in my own personal confinement where I can take the time and find that inner peace that was missing in my life for the longest time.

There were a lot of things about Flensburg that made me want to take a trip up there. It was not because of the beer, even though it is one of the most popular microbrews in Germany. It was not because of the rum despite the fact that it is the birthplace of rum and was once a powerhouse in the industry. It was not because of the clippers, which have been dominating the seas for over 400 years. All of those characteristics will be mentioned at a later time. What makes this city special is the fact that it is the city of peace and harmony, where people are open to each other. It is also the place where if you needed some serenity and solitude, all you need is a few minutes by bike on either side of the Flensburger Fjord, and you hit the nature and that place of confinement where you can spend as much time to yourself as possible, while trying to find a way to clean up a life full of disaster and disappointment, heartbreak and hatred, sadness and strife.  On the west end of the fjord, you meander your way past beaches that are kilometers long, crossing the Bridge of Friendship at Wassersleben at the Danish border before trekking into the forest and beyond. On the east end, you run across some gentle rolling hills and ponds, where between the suburb of Twedt and the town of Holnis, you feel like you are doing a cross country ski run. But there is one place in the city that definitely lives up to the name it carries. Located on the east side of the fjord, you will never figure out the reason why it deserves its christened name until you end up outside the city and you feel like someone pulled the plug on life as you know it. The name of the place I’m  referring to is Der Strand der Solitüde.  In other words, the Beach of Solitude.

Located just off the bike trail to the north of Mürwik, the Beach of Solitude is one that presents two different faces. On the one hand, it is a magnet for families with children who just want to take a dip into the icy cold Fjord or bake in the sun for a couple hours, while having the winds from the sea act as a giant air conditioner.  There is a restaurant nearby, where you can sit on the terrace and enjoy one of the specialties of Flensburg, made of salmon, flounder, or other types of fish, and watch the sun set over the city’s skyline and landscape. However, the other face of Solitude is something you don’t expect.

When there are no people around, it can present you with a silence that you can only find in a vacant apartment, after everything is put away in boxes and loaded up into the moving trucks to ship somewhere else. With the skies changing color between blue, grey, and white and a gentle sea water breeze fanning your face and creating some really small waves on the beach, I found myself alone on this very sandy-colored but yet to a certain degree, rocky beach, where small narrow cone-shaped peninsulas made of rocks and sand extend into the fjord, creating shapes resembling the crescent moon. I found myself in a new dimension, where I was touching the air that was heavy of salt and mist. I was looking around to see if there were other people there- to the east where the woods, ponds, and the bike trail were facing my back; to the west, where there was nothing but water with a piece of land far, far in the background- and still there was no one who came by. It was an eerie feeling that I had when I was at the beach. It felt like I was in some sort of purgatory and I was forced to reflect on my actions in my past life before the judgment was made, whether I would be in Adam and Eve’s Paradise or Dante’s Inferno, and part of this process was being alone in a place like this where no one is around where I could go back into the past to see the things I did or should have done differently.

While the last part holds true, I don’t think the Beach of Solitude is a purgatory of some sort. No place with that much beauty should be considered a place of punishment. I consider the place something where silence and reflection in response to the hardships faced (or to be faced) should be respected and reinvention of oneself is the norm. It makes you look at things from all angles of life, interpret them, try and make sense of them. It makes you go into the deepest self to look at the flaws and find ways to fix them; or handle them if they cannot be fixed. It makes you ask and answer the most difficult philosophical questions that have been burning inside of you for a long time; like for example, why am I here on this planet, or why can I not get the girl I want, or in my case, why life can be so wonderful the one minute and then cruel the next. I had a lot of questions that needed answers and no one was able to get the job done. Therefore other alternatives to answering the questions needed to be found so that I can find my way to myself and take care of the business that needs to be done.

Purgatory or Paradise- Photo taken by Jason D. Smith

After the longest time, where I scrounged round, raking my way up and down along the beach, reaching every tip of the rocky peninsula, taking a dip into the salient but shivering cold sea, and at times, just sitting down on the rocks, filling in the next pages of my journal, a young couple with two dogs- a Labrador and a black terrier came onto the scene, each looking for a sense of silence and relaxation as the dogs were feisty and wanting some fun in the water. Afterwards, a couple children kicking their soccer ball and imitating David Beckham and Miroslav Klose took to the scene, wanting to answer the call of being a profi player someday. This was my call to leave this place of silence, to eventually move onto a place where I too can eat a delicacy of Flensburg’s and enjoy the sunset, putting a close to a day of reflection and preparing another day, this time for redemption, as I return to what is known as reality, learning from my days in exile, not looking back at my past and looking forward to what is ahead.  After all, that is what solitude is all about, and the Beach of Solitude is one of many factors which makes Flensburg famous, a city which I nicknamed The City of Solitude.

 

New to the Flensburg Files in 2011: Places worth visiting

Any guesses as to where this might be located? Photo taken in May, 2010

Hi Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Flensburg Files is  over two months old already,  and it has attracted many readers after writing eight columns (the RSS and my background info do not count here). I would like to thank you for your comments and suggestions and more importantly, your loyalty to the Files. I hope that more people will notice this and will enjoy some more of the Files, as the author will dish out some more interesting stories that will make you want to think about many perspectives in life, let alone think about visiting some places worth mentioning!

Yes, one of the main features that has not been presented yet are the places worth visiting- both in Europe and in the USA. Beginning in 2011, the Flensburg Files will be profiling many cities and towns that the author has visited so far that are well worth including on your travel itinerary. The Places Worth Visiting category will consist of three main parts: 1. Places in Europe that are worth visiting, 2. Places in the US that are worth visiting, and 3. Places where the origin of the names come from Europe.  While the first two categories are based on information collected by the author that one will rarely (or not even) see in a tour guide, the third category will focus on towns and villages in the US where the origins of the names come from places in Europe, and the author will compare these towns and villages with the European counterparts in the form of photos and commentaries.

If you know of a place in the US or Europe that is worth visiting, please drop a commentary under the author’s profile explaining where the place is located and why it is worth visiting. The author will make note of that as he does some travelling and researching on that place of interest and will post a profile of that place once he has visited it.

A hint of the first place that is to be profiled is at the top of the page. The author will give you the answer once the column about the place is written.

That’s it from the Files. More columns between now and Christmas are in the works and will arrive soon enough. Until next time, folks.

The Mid-Term Elections in the United States: At the Crossroads or the Beginning of a Revolution? Views from an Expatriate

Author’s note: This belated entry was due to non-blog related commitments plus I wanted to look at  the elections from multiple perspectives before I decided to chime in, with the goal of keeping to my policy of neutrality with this topic. This includes not voting in the mid-term elections as it would not make much of a difference in the current US policies both domestically and abroad.

Which way will Americans go, as indicated by this sign near Sünderup (near Flensburg). Photo taken in May 2010
"Which way will Americans go?"; as indicated by this sign near Sünderup (near Flensburg). Photo taken in May 2010

Well, it’s finally over. The election signs lining up along the streets of the residential districts have been taken down and put away. There are no more people going door-to-door to get the neighbors to vote for one party or the other. The cannons used to fire mud and soot at the candidates have been decomissioned. And most importantly, the people have spoken. The second of November, 2010 will go down in the history as the year of change- change in the political landscape as the era of the Democrats and in particular, the Kennedys have come to an end in place of full Republican dominance of the House of Representatives, the neutralization of the Democrats in the Senate, and the era of the Bush and Palin Dynasties arising over the dome of the Capitol, like the rising sun. Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and the people at Fox News, who have all been in hiding since the elections of 2008, which brought President Barack Obama into power and resulted in the dominance of the Democrats on Capitol Hill, have now used the political flaws of the Obama administration and exploited the president’s youth and inexperience to influence the voters to “roll back America” and make his life virtually a living hell for the next 2 years. Using the old philosophy of too much governance, a socialist-controlled health care system, the unnecessary need for high-speed rail and most importantly, high unemployment, the people have said “no!” to change in their pockets and voted for change on the political scene.  From a point of view of the American who has resided here in Germany since 1999, this ring is all too familiar, as we had an episode happen in the German elections last year.

There, the Social Democrats (SPD) were ousted in a brutal way, as the voters voted for “The Dream Coalition”, consisting of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Free Democrats (FDP). But this was despite the fact that this was the same SPD that considered Helmut Kohl of the CDU too old to govern the country and voted him out in 1998 in favor of Gerhardt Schröder and the coalition with the Green Party, only to find that they got the shaft in 2005 through the emergency elections that brought Angela Merkel to power and created the dysfunctional Grand Coalition, consisting of the SPD and CDU. This coalition was replaced in 2009 with the Dream Coalition that kept Ms. Merkel in power and brought FDP Chairman Guido Westerwelle into the limelight, both at the expense of the SPD.  In both cases, the voters did not need the radical talk show hosts, like Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow to show their displeasure of the SPD and found ways to bring the CDU back into power in its entirety, which has since then enjoyed the fruits of prosperity as the unemployment is low, the country is experiencing the highest growth in the gross domestic product in the world, and there is a sense of economic stability in the Bundesrepublik.

Whether this change of power in the US will help avert another round of recession and follow the success of the Germans remains questionable. But the results of the mid-term elections has led me to asking this one simple question, and that is “Why?”  To answer that, I will look at the results from the view points of the Republicans and the Democrats before I proceed to interpret the implications of the mid-term elections. These are based on the discussions I’ve had with friends and family members from both sides of the big pond, as I try and make sense out of the whole deal. Let us start with the Republicans as they have been highly demanding the need for change:

REPUBLICANS’ ARGUMENTS

There are many reasons why many people voted for the conservatives this time around. Many of the reasons that I’ve read and heard about can be bundled up into three main categories: The strive to keep the American Dream alive, The strive to put a cap on governmental spending, and finally most importantly, the strive for jobs but definitely not in areas that will not be beneficial in the long term. The first argument requires a brief explanation for those wanting to know what the American Dream means from an expat’s point of view. The American Dream stresses the importance of independence- the development of onesself and his own successes, while at the same time, have a family, house, career, and own car at an early age (say 25 years). It is what my late grandmother used to say: “Every man for himself.” And one must not forget the obligation to go to church on Sundays to pray and socialize.  The problem with the American Dream is the fact that it is dying, from a conservative’s point of view, for reasons that there are not enough jobs to go around, there are too many regulations that restrict the activities of Americans, and that the government has been spending too much money on projects they claim are not needed and less money on the necessities. This includes spending too much on the health care system which many perceive to be functioning well and on high speed rail which many don’t want in the first place.  The American Dream can only survive when there is less governmental involvement and more freedom to be independent, innovative, and successful.  The second category definitely deals with too much money spent on projects that are not necessary. This includes the investment in renewable energy, high speed rail, and rehabilitating the health care. Renewable energy is understandable, but high speed rail to accomodate a handful of people is considered a waste, and health care, according to many, is a complex system which requires some incremental fixes, but not an overhaul to make it look like a European system. And last but not least, jobs. Many have touted the success of their own businesses and the ability to hire new people. Others are frustrated that there are no jobs to go around because they claim that either the immigrants have taken them or many companies have either outsourced their facilities or have relocated out of country. Many have pointed their fingers at Obama for allowing the unemployment to increase to 10% (although that argument is questionable). Others have taken job losses well and treated it like it was normal. In either case, many claim that with the Republicans in power, there is a potential for the economy to take off right away, like it was the case with the administration of Bill Clinton when the Republicans took control of  the entire Congress in 1994. To sum it up, many wanted the Republicans to come to power because they wanted the US to be the US and not like anybody else. That means as Ronald Reagan put it, the government is evil and should be tamed by the private sectors and the American people, which is the secret recipe of keeping the American Dream alive.

DEMOCRATS’ ARGUMENTS

The arguments of the liberal voters, on the other hand, represent a global awareness of issues affecting the US and the rest of the world. This includes global warming which in comparison with the conservatives, is a real issue that needs to be addressed post haste in order to ensure that the next generation would have the same quality of life as this generation. Henceforth many have embraced renewable energy technology, which would bring in jobs, and high-speed rails, which would relieve traffic congestion and pollution. Furthermore, many have seen the flaws of the health care system, which still exists even after the bill to overhaul it was passed. And lastly, many have seen the American Dream disappear forever, as the entire system is broke, thanks to the wrecklessness of the Bush administration, allowing for deregulation and free-wheeling politics in the hands of the big corporations, a trend similar to the Roaring 20s and the Great Depression that followed in the 30s. The reemergence of the Republicans in Congress through the mid-term elections was a big slap in the face as many see the problems President Obama has inherited as something that cannot be fixed overnight, nor within the first four years of office. More disappointing to the liberals is the fact that they see the US as going backwards into time and not moving forward, like the Europeans and Chinese. Hence the country is lagging far behind in the advancement of technology. Some have given up hope and are looking for an opportunity to flee the country, a place where they claim have way too many conservatives who are narrow-minded and ignorant of what is going on around them.

THE AUTHOR’S ARGUMENT

I recently read an article in “Der Spiegel” magazine about the crumbling American Dream and how the mid-term elections have been based on hatred because of all of the problems Americans are facing; including unemployment, homelessness, and an economy that is struggling to create at least a handful of jobs. The author of the piece claimed that all of this was the result of years of neglect of the real issues that are going on and too much focus on the American Dream and ways to keep it alive, even on credit. From my personal point of view, if there was an American Dream, for some reason it is at the crossroads in terms of its own future. The mid-term elections is like a revolution that is in the making. We’ve seen a lot of revolutions that have been carried out because of the need of change in authority and structure. The 1848 revolution brought down oligachy in many places in Europe (minus the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires) and brought social changes to improve the well-being of the continent’s inhabitants. The revolution of 1917 introduced communism in Russia, which spread throughout Europe and triggered counter-revolutions in the 1930s in France and Spain, 1953 in East Germany, 1956 in Hungary, 1968 in Prague (former Czechoslovakia), and 1980 in Poland. The revolution of 1969 in the US was two-fold as demonstrators not only challenged the rule of authority of the older generations but also balked at the Vietnam War.

If the mid-term elections did serve as the modern version of 1969, then a revolution was long overdue. The country is divided up like never before, with the rich getting richer, poor getting poorer, extremists becoming more extreme and fundamentalists becoming more fundamental. We are seeing people taking sides in ways that was never dreamt of 20 years ago. The conservatives are carrying Sarah Palin’s book “Going Rogue” like the Bible, while trying to teach others to be “non-socialists”.  Liberals are trying to knock some sense into these people with well-known facts about the real issues, while keeping themselves informed on these issues through CNN, Minnesota Public Radio, and the BBC to help justify their arguments. Never before have I seen the barriers being built up between these two sides and strengthened and armed for any attack. These differences have torn families and friends apart and are eating away at the fabric of the Constitution, which was created to establish democracy and protect the rights of the people. While the need to put aside the differences has been stressed and the President- facing even greater odds- is ready to compromise with the Republicans, it is impossible for Americans to come together and work on the issues that have been plaguing the country since George W. Bush took office in 2001. In fact, the differences will intensify, sparking a revolution between the conservatives and the liberals, the most dedicated Christians and the non-Christians, the rich and the poor, the Minorities and the Caucasians, which will reshape the way the United States looks like as a whole and will alter the American way of life forever.  The only solution to this deep division is to do what the author of “Der Spiegel” article suggested in the end: “Be inventive and look for ways to succeed.” In this case, we need to find innovative ways to return to civilization, tear these walls down, open the gates, and look at reality from a neutral perspective. Once we all know what is wrong with today’s picture, we can take our course of action and find ways of solving the problems we are facing today, which is as big as Mt. Everest. But no problem is too big to handle, and we will thank ourselves once we determine which direction we will take and what measures we can use to make America what it is- for us and for our children and grandchildren.

It’s just a matter of starting right now…….


Link to article (in German): http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/index-2010-44.html

Fined for saying too little; fired for saying too much

I’m a big sports fan on both sides of the pond. Over here in Germany, I usually cheer for the local teams, like the soccer team Rot-Weiss Erfurt or Carl-Zeiss Jena, teams that can take down perrenial powerhouses, like the handball teams Flensburg-Handewitt and Kiel or the basketball teams in Bayreuth and Bamberg, and any team that can cut the Bundesliga soccer conquerers FC Bayern Munich down to size, like Mainz 05ers and 1899 Hoffenheim. In the US, apart from being a convert Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I usually rute for the teams originating from my homestate of Minnesota. That means, I cheer for the women’s basketball problem children of the WNBA the Minnesota Lynx, the rugrats of the men’s basketball team the Minnesota Timberwolves, the athletically enriched baseball team the Minnesota Twins, the college powerhouse to be types, the Minnesota Gophers, and lastly the (un-)professional football team, the Minnesota Vikings.

I now have one less team to cheer for as of last night- the unprofessional team, the Minnesota Vikings. Picked as contenders to win the Super Bowl, the team is completely in turmoil after losing to New England 28-18, falling to 2-5 with nine games left in the season, and a hometown favorite and high octane caliber player booted off the team just because he criticized the head coach’s play. That act is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to unprofessionalism. Now the head coach is in the hot seat for not telling the owner about it earlier, and the players are poised to embarass him next Sunday by letting themselves get embarassed by the lowly Arizona Cardinals, in an attempt to have the now heavily disfavored coach sacked from his post. Not surprising if you see how he and another star player-the quarterback- are not getting along at all. Who are the people I’m mentioned here?  Randy Moss, who was given the shaft and Brad Childress, who dumped him right after the game.  Normally, I keep sports out of my column but this one was too irresistible to comment as I want to look at why Randy Moss, one of the best athletes to play the game got the shaft.

We all know that he was a very charasmatic and voicestrous player who lit up the Metrodome in Minneapolis for his high-flying performance and his antics that excited many fans and angered many. He was raw with regard to his conduct off the field when he was with the Vikings but matured when he went first to Oakland and then to New England. How he ended up back to Minnesota, where his career started still remains a mystery to many. Perhaps it was because of his outburst over Tom Brady’s hairdo, which Moss claimed he looked like a girl. Perhaps it was because of a need of a new environment or the need to return to where he started his career and his fans. Or perhaps he was part of Bill Belichick’s little scheme to obtain some valuable info on the opponent in order for the Patriots to win.  None of these theories made sense, nor did it make sense to boot Randy off the team where he started his career- the Minnesota Vikings- just because he was “lacking in performance” in the latter half of his one month stint, or lashed out at the food that was served to him the Friday before the last game as a Viking, or praised his former team for its performance. In either case, he was silent as a Viking, not taking any questions from the media and getting fined for it. And when he did speak, it costed him his job as a wide receiver, the one who broke record after record during his first seven year stint with Minnesota.  So what is up with the guy?  Why is he insociable, which was definitely not his style- at least not the style that he stood for during his first seven years in Minnesota?

We all know that he is getting up there with age. Not surprising that at the age of 33 he is in the twilight of his career and is  thinking that perhaps enough is enough in terms of his career. But as one can see with Brett Favre’s playing abilities at the age of 41, anything is possible if you make it happen. There is no way the Moss will hem and haw over his career like his former colleague quarterback did, which irritated Green Bay and the New York Jets respectively. If Moss was to go, he would go out with a bang, a Super Bowl ring, and an on-and-off -the- field record that is 2 kilometers long, but he would disappear from the limelight forever, never to be heard of again except in the record books.

Perhaps it is because he is missing that Super Bowl ring and he felt it would be beneficial to rejoin his former team to help Favre and his teammates get that ring, which would also coincide with the team’s 50th anniversary. Not surprising that the last Viking that accomplished that act with the same purpose was quarterback Fran Tarketon, who played for the Vikings from its inaugural season 1961 until he was traded to the New York Giants in 1966 and again from 1972 until his retirement in 1978.  Both players went to the Super Bowl- Tarketon three times in the 70s with the Vikings, Moss in 2008 with the Patriots. Both were defiant of the coach’s orders and tested their agility to their limits. However, both came up empty-handed with no Super Bowl rings. The difference between the two is the fact that Moss did have a chance to get the Vikings and himself that missing trophy. Now, he is no longer a Viking because of differences between him and Childress that made the two incompatible when it comes to communicating with each other and with the team. And this although he still has some years in him, or does he?

Perhaps he is at the crossroads now, trying to decide which path to take with his life, even if it means sacrificing his career as a football player. Finding something in life that a person enjoys does take a lot of time and painstaking effort to accomplish. But it is doable. If one feels that a career he has is not very awarding, then he looks around for something that does make him feel much more at home.  With the current trend he’s in, it would not be surprising that Randy Moss is at the crossroads and will do what I just mentioned above…. walk away and disappear, never to be seen again. In either case he cannot be a football player forever, and if he is tired of the press, perhaps there is another avenue to take where he can be himself and not take the heat from the media, let alone from the football league NFL for not taking on any interviews.

In either case, we will never know what led Randy Moss to come to Minnesota and stay for only a month, before Brad Childress gave him the boot, which leads to the last theory of him getting along more with his former coach Belichick than with Chilly, who is currently in hot water with owner Ziggy Wilf for doing that. We do know that he does have his fans and friends in Minnesota, who still support him despite all that is happening right now with the Vikings football team. We just don’t like the way the team is functioning as one big unit, which we can understand his dissatisfaction from start to finish. We just need to know why he was untypical during this last stint with the Vikings and what happened in this already weird and wild year in the NFL. Perhaps when he is ready for an interview from someone who is curious about it but not for the sake of money and fame, he will spill the beans. But time will tell when he will go unplugged and tell the truth. In the meantime, we can only wish him the best in whatever he wants to do in his life.

That’s a wrap from the Files. Until next time, folks.