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Train Ride

 
So I am sitting on the floor, on a slow train to New York.

An elder lady just lied to 5 people who asked for the seat next to her, “My husband is coming back”. She finally gave in, and put her feet on the floor instead of the other seat. It’s either that or the lady who sits next to her now is sitting on her imaginary husband’s lap.

Anyway, for anybody who has no issue sitting on the floor, the number of seating option became infinite.

This kind of reminds me when one of my high school buddies was depressed because he just realized he was bi-sexual. He had been teased by everybody for being too feminine for years. It was not a shock to any of us that he likes guys. However apparently he was surprised by it. To ease his pain, a wise friend congratulated him that he just doubled his options in life.

He later turned full-time gay, of course. I hope he wasn’t surprised again, because we weren’t.

Finally I got a seat. I like riding trains, especially instead of flying. Being a statistical person, I believe everything in life is statistics, including the risk of train riding. However I always feel that I am not an individual, but a percentage when I travel by air. I hope that I would always be the 99.999% that comes back to the ground in one piece, not the unfortunate 0.001%.

My company lost one of the founders at the Pan-Am incident in 1988.

Unfortunate Stanley was the childhood friend of The Other Stanley, who is the chairman of the company today. They were both extremely smart. Being the best friend of each other, they had worked on many different things together through their life. They founded the company, one of their joint ventures and adventures, 30 years ago.

When their business finally started to take off so they weren’t poor anymore, Unfortunate Stanley told The Other Stanley his secret plan: one day he would just take enough money and leave everybody behind. No family, no work, just himself.

So even as today, The Other Stanley is still not sure whether his buddy was on the plane. Maybe he was not the unfortunate one after all. Maybe he owns several islands in the Caribbean’s and has 5 wives.

Anyway people always have their own particular issues with one or two public transportation systems. Air travel has never been my favorite. A friend of mine talked about her fear of missing the train stop a lot. She would remind people that she took off the train too early when she first travelled by herself at the age of 12 or 13, almost every time the subject of train ride was brought up. It must have become a deep-tissue nightmare for her. If I have a time machine, to find that poor little girl and tell her to wait couple more stops would be one of the things on my to-do-list.

I don’t really have a long to-do-list for the time machine scenario. I certainly have a long list for invisible cloak or a device that can freeze other people. Not sure how many of the things on my list are legal though. Time machine is not that practical for me --- not because I do not have many regrets in life. I think I do. However, I am sure for most of things I regretted in life, I could not do any better even if I get a second chance. I am very confident of my inabilities and lack of intelligence. And I am not really interested in meeting dinosaurs.
 

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中時觀念平台: <白忙一場的血襪生涯>

二○○四年十月十九日,波士頓紅襪隊的冠軍夢又在破碎的邊緣。在這個美國聯盟冠軍的七戰四勝系列戰裡,洋基勢如破竹先拿下三場勝利,紅襪好不容易追回來兩場,稍微帶來了一些希望。可是,這天的比賽回到了洋基球場,如果說惡夢有劇本,這該死的紐約,這該死的第六戰,先發的又是第一戰因為腳踝受傷被洋基打爆的席林(Curt Schilling),一九八六年紅襪國度的心碎,似乎已經冥冥註定要在十幾年後重現。

還好,先發的是席林,還好紅襪隊的隊醫在賽前史無前例地替他動了特殊的手術,把他右腳踝的腓短肌用手術縫線暫時固定起來,這場比賽席林的表現跟第一戰判若兩人,七局的投球僅僅失了一分,讓紅襪隊成為季後賽史上第一次從三比○的勝場落後,追平而後終於贏得系列戰的球隊。在這場比賽,跟幾天後總冠軍戰的第二場比賽裡,席林腳上的襪子都因為縫線的摩擦而明顯滲出血跡,這個影像成為紅襪破除魔咒的艱苦過程裡,最動人心弦的畫面。那雙血紅的襪子,也因此進入了名人堂的展覽室。

席林,征戰二十個球季、三千多局、兩百多勝的巨投,有將近六成的勝率,三枚總冠軍戒。他在三年前退休,生涯光是來自球隊的薪水就超過三十億台幣。退休以後,他還是經常出現在鎂光燈前,除了擔任球評之外,身為忠貞的共和黨員,他在選舉期間總是以保守派大將的姿態為自己的陣營助選,也吸引了不少的目光。十幾天前,席林又出現在媒體的面前,不過,這次的宣布卻讓許多人嚇了一跳。

「什麼都沒有了」,他說。38工作室,席林一手創立的遊戲軟體公司,在幾年以內把他所有的錢全部賠光。不只是這樣,他跟羅德島州政府貸款了二十幾億台幣,也完全還不出來。運動畫刊曾經估計,將近八成的職業美式足球員,在退休兩年以內就會破產或是遭受財務的危機,職業籃球員也有六成球員,會在五年之內破產。相較之下,席林遭遇的結果雖然相同,過程卻是情有可原。他並不是因為揮霍或是炫富而失去自己的財產,而是因為錯估了市場跟自己的能力,如果吳宗憲要在美國找個跟他一樣轉投資把錢賠光的難兄難弟,席林就是不二的人選。

當然事情發生以後,來自各處的冷言冷語嘲諷不斷,最多的批評就是席林的保守派政治立場一向主張縮減政府的權力跟降低稅負,他卻拿政府的大筆貸款毫不手軟。媒體也對他公司旗下的四百名員工感到不值,許多人因為公司遷居,卻在無預警的情況下失業,生計因此遭到困難。

事實上,勝敗乃兵家常事,席林贏了兩百一十六場大聯盟的比賽,也…

聯合報名人堂:<川普政權的震盪效應>

近年來越來越多醫學實驗,證明美式足球對選手可能造成永久性的腦部傷害。比賽當中球員互相撞擊的力量,跟被車撞到沒什麼兩樣,經年累月的結果,脆弱的大腦當然不禁折磨。最後,輕微的影響是感官或認知能力的衰退、或是失憶的症狀;嚴重情況包括阿茲罕默症、帕金森氏症,因而致命的案例也不少。 二○一五年由威爾.史密斯主演的電影「震盪效應」,片中他所飾演的法醫病理學家奧瑪魯,就是現實世界裡揭開美式足球黑幕的腦神經醫生。聯盟首先嚴重否認,不過證據快速累積,最後當然不得不低頭。 來自選手的集體訴訟案,目前已經進行到登記索賠階段。美式足球聯盟答應負擔生病後的醫療與保險,整體賠償金額可能高達三百億台幣,有望創下職業運動的另類紀錄。此外,聯盟已數次更新球場衝撞的規則,比賽中出現腦震盪徵兆的球員,再度上場前也需依照新規定,接受醫護人員評估。 就算如此,當選手們知道此項運動對身體造成嚴重傷害危險後,近兩三年有好幾位因此提前退休,或是拒絕高額薪水,決定另謀高就。這個月邁阿密海豚隊廿八歲邊鋒卡麥隆宣布高掛球鞋,「不值得冒這種風險。」他說。卡麥隆在過去四個球季裡,至少有四次嚴重腦震盪紀錄。 這一切改變是正面的,球員更懂得保護自己,從數據上能看出比賽時頭部衝撞的機會開始降低,腦震盪數字也顯著減少。更重要的是除職業選手外,各級學校聯盟都採用新標準,改善孩子們受傷情況。許多州甚至以立法方式,嚴格規定各種學生運動在腦震盪出現後,需要經醫生許可才能回到場上。 可是,去年總統大選,川普代表的保守勢力獲勝,情況卻又變了。 北卡州共和黨議員率先開砲,提出法案要讓家長有權許可自己小孩,在腦震盪後繼續比賽。法案裡把家長決定放在第一,排在醫生評估前面。對不少捍衛傳統價值的人來說,衝撞是比賽一部分,不能輕易改變。那些保護球員的措施讓「美式足球變得軟弱,跟美國一樣!」說這些話的不是別人,正是美國第四十五任總統川普。 選前在佛州的造勢晚會上,一位女性川粉突然昏倒,不過在接受現場醫療後恢復意識,回到會場繼續替川普加油,如此舉動馬上引起全場歡呼。川普在興奮之餘,不忘提醒現場支持者,美國已經被自由派搞得軟弱無力,「連她都可以回來,職業足球員被輕輕敲到頭卻不准上場?」後來選上總統的他譏諷地說。果不其然,選後黨內同志沒有放過挽救美式足球的契機,用新法案支持總統的理念。 正如川普首席策士班納所說,新政權將帶給美國全面而整體的改變:教育、環保、…

聯合報名人堂:<超級經紀人的超級手腕>

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