Erica and Matt Chua: All in the family

We think we know our family, that our parents have been honest in who you’re related to and who you’re not.  That is until the day you meet a member that you had no idea existed, even more surprising if it’s in an out-of-the-way place such as Borneo, but it happened.  I was standing with my camera at attention in a wildlife sanctuary, when suddenly out of the trees swung my distant cousin.  As soon as I saw her eyes I knew, I could see she recognized it too, we stood staring at each other.  Breaking the awkward moment was her daughter, reaching from her arms, offering me a piece of fruit.

Sadly, due to linguistic differences we were unable to discuss our shared history, sort out when her family moved to Sarawak and how we were related.  Sure, we had some differences, she’s much hairier than anyone in my family, has longer arms, and clearly superior tree climbing abilities, but the face, just look, chubby cheeks and all; we’re related.  I did some research and was able to find out about her family, or should I say our family, the hominids, and our similarities.  We all use tools, interact socially, enjoy eating fruits, and have similar reproductive terms (9 months in the womb, 22-30 days menstruation).  While my city life is fundamentally different than theirs, there are definitely people living in the Indonesian archipelago, even Borneo itself, that live similar nomadic lives in the jungle, wearing little, and enjoying the fruits of the wild.  It is hard to consider the realities of the Orangutans and not believe that we’re related.

Even though we’re in the same family, we’re driving the Orangutans to extinction.  In our lifetime we may see them go functionally extinct, surviving only in captivity, or there may be none at all.  For animals that we’re so closely related to, that we’ve shared earth for millions of years with, this is disturbing.  Just like people do with outcasts from their more direct family, billions of people are determined to ignore the overwhelming evidence that we’re related.  While claims that we were related to animals seemed incredulous in a world we knew little about, it’s ridiculously simple-minded to hold those beliefs today.  We’re now able to travel the world and see it ourselves, connect-the-dots, and understand the relations between animals.  It was once possible to live in a world of only what is immediately around you, but knowledge is fully accessible, travel is relatively accessible, and we can see with our own eyes what it took millennia to understand: we’re just part of an interconnected, related animal world.  With this knowledge comes the responsibility to do something to protect the planet from ourselves.

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Erica and Matt Chua: All in the family

Erica and Matt Chua: Can Americans Enjoy Cricket?

At Valley Forge George Washington participated in a cricket game with his troops.  This may have marked the highpoint of cricket in what would become the USA, but why is this so?  Can’t Americans enjoy cricket?  How does it compare to watching baseball?  We attended the T20 World Cup of Cricket in Sri Lanka to find out and offer the ultimate comparison…

As for excitement value, cricket matches baseball in dullness.  Both sports excel in offering vies of people standing around.  Better yet, just like baseball, you don’t have to worry about blinking…you won’t miss anything if you do…

EXCITEMENT WINNER: Draw, both of these sports are better in highlights than live.

What makes slow sports enjoyable?  Beer.  Cricket doesn’t fail the spectators, offering beers for $0.92 each.  Referring to this handy 2012 MLB beer price guide I see that the average beer at a baseball game costs $6.17.  To adjust for size, on a per ounce basis, cricket’s beer costs $0.12 per ounce versus the MLB average of $0.41.

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Erica and Matt Chua: Can Americans Enjoy Cricket?

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: WWE

wweWWE superstar Damien Sandow pitches me on a unique idea.

“I can see it now, John. Imagine the marquee.. Champion Damien Sandow vs challenger John ‘The Body’ Brown in an epic wrestling match at the Louisville YUM Center.

It has all the classic elements of a great athletic drama. Youth versus Age; Strength versus Weakness; Speed versus Slowness; Agility versus Clumsiness; Exciting versus Dull; and Height versus Width.
It could be a wrestling match for the ages.”

As you can tell from my expression, I’m intrigued but still need some convincing before I accept this seemingly sensible –yet bold — proposal.


Erica and Matt Chua: World’s Top 5 Dance Performances

I never thought I would write about the top five dances to see around the world, but these performances moved me.  They were not merely entertaining they were mind blowing.  From the unbelievable Arirang Games in North Korea, which is the largest choreographed dance in the world to the spiritual ritual dance in northern India to help instruct Buddhists through the stages of death these five dances will give you a whole new perspective on each of the countries you watch them in.  They may even change your life and your transition into the afterlife.

1. The Arirang Games

Pyongyang, North Korea

Any attempt to explain the annual Arirang Games in North Korea are lost on anyone who has not witnessed the incredible show for themselves.  The “Mass Games” as they are also called enlist over 100,000 people to honor their “Eternal Leader” Kim Il-Sung on his birthday with the largest choreographed show on earth.  With performers practicing their parts from the early age of five and dancing as a part of the collective, every part of the show represents the communist way of life.  It is an incredible spectacle and one you have to see to believe.

2. Tango

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tango may quite possibly be one of the sexiest dances in the world, making it a must-see dance, and there is no place it is more ubiquitous than Buenos Aires.  The famous tango enclave of La Boca in Argentina’s capital has a cafe on every corner featuring a sequen-clad couple performing for tourists.  No trip to Buenos Aires would be complete without seeing live tango, it’s just a matter of deciding where to watch it.

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Erica and Matt Chua: World’s Top 5 Dance Performances

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Next Phases in Life

jyb_musingsNot being ready to hear something doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

Yesterday I was talking to a counselor friend and we got on the subject of “next phases” in life.

I mentioned my kids had just turned 16 and 20 and I missed the feeling in our family of being “captain of our team” –and lately felt more like I had been relegated to the position of third base coach whose only role was making odd scratching and touching signs that looked like early onset of dementia to observers.

I was laughing because I was exaggerating. Until my
friend pointed out that I was exactly right —and then reassured me by describing the occasional important role that a third base or first base coach can play.

But that wasn’t what I was expecting or ready to hear.

There was a long silent pause.

As I waited for my friend to tell me he was just kidding, he was simultaneously waiting for me to let this painful truth to sink in.

Then I interjected my conclusion. “No. Uh-uh. No…That’s not what is happening in my situation. That’s not really what I am talking about.”

Before adding, “I am talking about players that go through a bad season or two before they make a big comeback.”

Then there was another long pause.

This time I didn’t say anything. I just pretended to slide my fingers across the bill of my cap, touched my chest, tapped my nose and winked.

The Ugliest Negative Ad of the Political Cycle…Is Against Jonathan Miller?!?!

This shocking negative campaign ad was recently posted on YouTube by a shadowy political campaign finance group, likely funded by billionaires who desperately want The Recovering Politician, Jonathan Miller, to lose Dancing with the Lexington Stars:

If you despise this type of campaigning please vote for Jonathan Miller here to win Dancing with the Lexington Stars. Each vote costs $5 and benefits the extraordinary work of Surgery on Sunday and the Lexington Rotary Club Endowment Fund.

Of course, if you agree with the message of the ad, then please go here and vote for anybody but Jonathan Miller.  Every $5 contribution helps some truly needy and deserving people in our community.

Please Vote for Me — on Dancing with the Stars

Dancing with the Stars 2I never thought I’d say this again, but…I’d like to ask for your vote.

Don’t worry: I haven’t fallen off the recovering politician wagon.

Lisa and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary by competing in Lexington’s version of Dancing with the Stars (sponsored by our local Rotary Club).  And despite my two left liberal feet, with the awesome instruction of Arthur Murray dance teacher Rae Dunn, and the continued fitness direction of globally-recognized personal trainer Josh Bowen, we’re actually getting in pretty good shape for the competition on May 10.

But I need your help.

(Sorry for that last sentence.  My fundraising letter-writing muscle is to blame)

Your vote matters. and it is easy, affordable and for a great cause.  Click here and scroll down the left side of the page to my picture, enter the number of votes you want to cast (at $5 per vote), and click the button at the bottom of the page to “pay now and vote.”

Your $5 contribution will go straight to benefit an incredible local program: Surgery on Sunday, as well as to the Lexington Rotary Club Endowment Fund, which supports more than 15 local community initiatives and charitable endeavors including the Carnegie Center of Literacy and Learning, Central Kentucky Radio Eye, Saint James Place, Explorium of Lexington, The Friends of the Arboretum, God’s Pantry Food Bank,  International Book Project, Ronald McDonald House, Salvation Army, Mustang Troop, OWL-Opportunity for Work and Learning, Toyota Bluegrass Miracle League, World Fit and the YMCA of Central Kentucky Back to School Rallies.

So please click here, vote for me early and often (just $5 a vote!!!), and I promise not to run any negative campaign ads against my opponents.  (Of course, if independent groups and 527s join the fray, I can’t do anything about that.)

Join Me When I’m on “Dancing with the Stars”!

Rotary_Club_of_Lexington's_Dancing_with_the_Lexington_Stars_2014-SAVE_the_DATEOne of my greatest strengths is that I understand my weaknesses.

And if there is anything that I do more poorly than dance, I have yet to experience it.

That’s why I am thrilled — and scared to death — to be a “celebrity” contestant in this season’s “Dancing with the Stars”

OK, to be clear this is not the ABC national version.  I am not a washed up football player, little-known Disney Channel actor, or a Kardashian,  Rather, this is the Rotary Club of Lexington’s “Dancing with the Lexington Stars” — a fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Lexington’s Rotary Endowment Fund, which supports “Surgery on Sunday” for needy Lexington families; Cardinal Hill Hospital, a nationally acclaimed rehabilitation center; and other worthy organizations.

I hope you will be able to join me at this important event, if only to laugh at me as I trip over my poor wife, Lisa.

For now, please save the date — Saturday, May 10, 2014, from 6:30 PM- Midnight.  I guarantee a lot of fun, a good cause, and plenty of opportunities to laugh at my expense.

Artur Davis: Wishful Thinking for the New Year, Part II

A year ago, in lieu of resolutions or predictions, I offered a more guarded set of wishes for the new calendar year. Could the track record have been worse? There was the melancholy: Mandela no longer lives; while George H.W. Bush survives, his conciliatory brand of leadership is discredited in his own and seems impossible to revive nationally. There was the embarrassingly off base: describing Virginia’s likely soon to be indicted Bob McDonnell as a politician without a single ethical blemish, and a much too laudatory take on the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III were the low points.

There were rosy hopes that didn’t pan out: some of my favorite center-right thinkers have added a lot of wisdom to the internal Republican debate without influencing it very much; Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed, rather than soaring, is the latest southern black politician whose ambitions suffer the limitations of his party’s “electability” mantra; and Bobby Jindal is a much longer presidential shot now than he appeared 12 months ago.

And there were the parts that really made my label of “wishful thinking” unintended irony. Let’s just say that Phil Robertson isn’t the principled voice of federalism on same sex marriage that I had in mind; that the Heritage Foundation’s assault on food stamps is not quite the anti-poverty agenda I was hoping for; and that education reform continues to lie in the overstocked, undersold column on aisle 32.

davis_artur-11So, in the hopes of doing better, a more guarded set of wishes for 2014:

(1) That a year from now, some Republican has decided to run for President unabashedly as a center-right alternative, with policy ideas and campaign message to match. Whether that individual is Chris Christie, the most successful coalition builder in big league politics today, or Paul Ryan, who should keep channeling his former mentor Jack Kemp’s vision that upward mobility is a legitimate conservative aspiration, or someone to be named later, it would be to the good of Republicans and domestic politics in general if a presidential level Republican owned the notion of a vital center rather than running from it.

(2) That George Packer’s superb “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America” follow up its National Book Award with a Pulitzer. One can take issue with Packer for skimping on the fine points of economics, or for staying vague on solutions, but this is the most gripping account that has emerged of what the guts of the country looked like in the depths of the Great Recession. He nails the development of alienation that has eroded normal ideological boundaries. And if Packer’s subtle narrative maneuver of reducing national politics to the margins seemed incomplete to critics, it surely captures how the swamp on the Potomac registered to most rank and file Americans.

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Artur Davis: Wishful Thinking for the New Year, Part II

Jason Atkinson: “Before the Storm,” A Short Film

The Northwest’s rivers are swollen and unfishable except for one.  Contributing RP Jason Atkinson and Shawn Miller rush to catch steelhead before a big storm hits.  Here’s Jason’s latest short film chronicling the adventure, “Before the Storm”:


The Recovering Politician Bookstore


The RP on The Daily Show