Ron Costello

Not too far right and not too far left — Can we meet somewhere in the middle on: Immigration?

Leave a comment

Maybe Louis Freeh Can Save The Catholic Church

Penn State faced stiff sanctions.

Penn State faced stiff sanctions.


Penn State University knows about sanctions in the wake of the Sandusky sex-abuse scandal in Happy Valley, Pennsylvania. Sandusky, the former defensive coach and founder of the Second Mile charitable organization, 70, got 30 years.

Pretty much a life sentence. The football program fined $60 million and barred from bowl games for 4 years, and the number of football scholarships reduced.

Former coach and icon Joe Paterno fired and stripped of  111 wins from his previous coaching record of 409 wins. Still, several others — including the former university president, are accused of covering up the scandal and may end up in court, if not worse.

Whether you agree with the sanctions or not, it was payback for Sandusky sexually assaulting 10 boys. The sanctions came as a result of the Freeh report, completed at the request of the university, by attorney Louis Freeh. Mr. Freeh was the fifth director of the FBI and former assistant U.S. District Attorney. Pretty nice credentials.

What sanctions?

What sanctions?


But here’s the question: What sanctions have been levied on the Catholic Church? And where is the Church’s Freeh report? I’ve been looking for it, but can’t seem to find it. Maybe it’s over here.

There have been horrific allegations against priests in the United States, Canada, Ireland, and around the world. The Vatican’s Promoter of Justice — sort of like a Vatican district attorney —  reports that over 3,000 priests have been involved over the past 50 years.

Other surveys report different numbers, higher numbers, but the question isn’t the numbers, the question is how can this be corrected and what are the sanctions against the Catholic Church?

Now don’t get me wrong. In spite of the shameful pedophile priests and the Church cover up, I’m still a Catholic and I still go to church.

Most of the time I meditate in church, you know, think about things. I like to look around, too, and see how many empty pews there are. We go to an old South Philly church, grand in the old days. Back when priests were…

Never mind that. Lookit, here’s the thing: The Church should hire Louis Freeh, who could do another thorough report and who knows, perhaps the church might get hit with the following sanctions, all starting immediately:

  • 1) Roman Catholic priests should be allowed to marry — that way they may know what to say  when a Catholic parishioner says, “Father, my wife says she doesn’t love me anymore, she says she can’t stand me, what should I do?”
  • 2) Roman Catholic priests should be allowed to have children upon marriage so when a parishioner says to a priest, “Father, my 14 year old son has been arrested for selling drugs, what shall I do, Father, where did we go wrong?” The the priest could then respond appropriately.
  • 3) Roman Catholic priests should be allowed to have sexual relations with the women they marry, so they no longer have to practice celibacy and suppress their sexual feelings — feelings that were given to them by God — which caused the entire mess in the first place.
  • 4) If Roman Catholic priests had normal human relations, which  God intended them to have — such as a spouse, family, sexual relations, even pets, they just might be more open to understanding gay marriage. As my daughter would say: “”You think?” Furthermore, they must open the church doors to allow gay and lesbian Catholics not only inside the church, but up front too, as priests, Eucharistic Ministers, readers, altar servers, whatever.  Immediately!
  • 5) Finally, the Church, i.e., the Roman Catholic priests, will open the church doors  to the wonderful women religious — namely the Catholic Nuns — who’ve taught Catholic children and helped Catholic families for centuries — become priests if they so choose, or stay as nuns if they so choose, and be equal partners in every diocese in America. Equal, like in equal. Immediately

Now how about those sanctions? Did I miss anything?


Leave a comment

Some Ticked Off Ukrainians Should Read Common Sense

Ukrainians clashing with police.

Ukrainians clashing with police.

Paine’s Common Sense inspired people in the American Colonies to fight for independence against Great Britain. It was written after the Loyal Nine dumped tea into the Boston Harbor. The Loyal Nine evolved into the Sons of Liberty, which created chapters all over the 13 colonies.

People risked their lives to belong to the Sons of Liberty.

The Sons of Liberty were angry that King George  stationed British troops in Boston.  On a snowy night in March, 1770, kids threw snowballs at the red coat soldiers. A crowd gathered and the people cursed the soldiers and threw more snowballs.

Shots were fired, killing five Bostonians. This really ticked off the colonists. It was called the Boston Massacre.  American children learn it in fourth grade, if not sooner.

The people of Ukraine are acting in a similar fashion. After breaking away from the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine became an independent, democratic state. But the Ukrainians have had enough. Groups inside the country such as the Parliament of Fatherland, Party of Svoboda, and the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform, are rallying up the people the same way the Sons of Liberty did in Boston.

As colonists did in Boston.

As colonists did in Boston.

So what’s their beef? Taxation without representation?

Not exactly, but the Ukrainians are tired of their President, Viktor F. Yanukovych (Y), dragging his feet while the nation is on the verge of economic collapse. High gas prices, unemployment, high cost of food and medical care, and Y is messing with the constitution — taking away the freedom of speech and assembly.

Whoa, where is Thomas Paine at a time like this?

It seems Y is playing both ends against the middle. The two ends are the European Union and Russia — and the middle is the Ukrainian people. Y failed to sign a free trade agreement with the European Union while the people suffer. The people think Y is a horse’s ass and a traitor.

No, Y doesn't look like King George, III

No, Y doesn’t look like King George, III

The Son’s of Liberty type groups mentioned in the third paragraph are inspiring the people to gather and protest for change. Just like in Boston in 1770.

You have to admit, it sounds like the Ukrainians need George Washington at a time like this.

The crowds have grown and they have spread from Kiev to eight other cities. Shots were fired at protesters, killing some. Just like in Boston, the people are gathering in the cities armed with sledgehammers and axes.

They are not afraid to die.

Y has offered some bread crumbs, but the people are saying, “stick it.” They’ve had enough and they smell blood.

You can bet there is a Thomas Paine amongst the Ukrainian people. Perhaps instead of selling pamphlets on the streets, he or she is blogging — maybe using WordPress.

That’s what’s good about history, it can and does repeat itself.


Leave a comment

We’re All Working For the Japanese

Lordie I have loved some ladies and I love Jim Beamand they both tried to kill me in 1973when that doctor asked me, son how did you get in this condition?I said hey sawbones, I’m just carrying on an ole family tradition” – Hawk Williams, Jr., Family Tradition

Raise your glasses high!

Raise your glasses high!

No Hank, no, say it ain’t true!

Jim Beam, Inc., has sold out!

You can’t get more American than bourbon. Country songs like Family Tradition  and Whisky Bent are filled with references to bourbon whiskey.

“Play me some songs about a ramblin‘ manput old Jim Beam in my hand…’cause you know I still love to get drunk and hear country sounds” – Hank William, Jr.. Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound

Suntory of Japan in an acquisition recently announced the purchase of the American whiskey and scotch making company, Jim Beam, for $13.6 billion.

Play me some songs about a ramblin‘ manput ole Yamazaki in my hand...” just doesn’t cut it.

Jim Beam’s roots began in 1795 when Kentuckian Jacob Beam first started  brewing corn whiskey. Beam grew into the biggest manufacturer of havin fun, feelin good — and the largest next day headache producing firm in America.

But no more. It’s enough to make someone cry in their Jim Beam, ah, wait, I mean Jack Daniels.


Thomas Paine Would Have Used WordPress

Would Thomas Paine have been a blogger?

Today, Paine would have been at the computer.

Today, Paine would  be at his computer today.

Born in London, Paine flunked out of grammar school at age 12; then bounced around England going from job to job — mostly as a failure at whatever he tried. He knew heartache, too,  when his wife and child died in childbirth. Eventually he met Ben Franklin in London who convinced him to move the American colonies. Franklin served as a reference.

Paine just didn’t write, he wrote from his heart. A passionate writer who took on controversial topics such as the rights of free men and standing up to tyranny. He wrote all the time, often anonymously or under pseudonyms. Following the opening round of the American revolution — the battles of Lexington and Concord (April 19, 1775), Paine argued that America should not just revolt against taxation, but demand independence from Great Britain.

He was a driven writer,  just like bloggers.

He was caught up in the American cause and he didn’t say it, he wrote it — in a 50 page pamphlet entitled, Common Sense, printed on January 10, 1776. It sold 500,000 copies. Later he produced The American Crisis, which helped inspire the American Army. George Washington read parts of the Crisis to his troops before they crossed the Delaware in 1776.

Passionate writing.

By 1793 Paine had moved to France and ended up in jail for not supporting the execution of Louis XVI. While  in prison he wroteThe Age of Reason.

It went viral.

It went viral.

Newspapers in the American colonies were either not very good or nonexistent. They steered clear of controversy. Thus, if you had something to say, you wrote it and then went to a printer to publish a pamphlet. Usually the writer had a small number of pamphlets printed and took them to the streets to sell. Of course, the more controversial pamphlets sold faster.

Sound familiar?

Common Sense went viral — within its own time and age, of course. That Internet expression, “went viral,” comes from the word virus, meaning the video or article spread quickly. Common Sense hit the streets in Philadelphia on January 10, 1776, and became an immediate sensation, with 120,000 copies sold in the first three months of publication. At the time there were approximately 2.5 million people living in the 13 American colonies.

Would Thomas Paine be a blogger today?

Do you have to ask?


Leave a comment

Five Things That Depress Me The Most

Here is my list of five things that I find most depressing.

1. Just recently the “insurgents” took back the Iraqi city of Falluja when so many Marines were wounded and died taking the city in November, 2004. But history repeats itself, does it not? In 1968  following the bloody battle of Khe Sanh, a base in the Quang Tri Providence, Republic of Vietnam, which U.S. troops later abandoned, giving it back to the North Vietnamese. It’s just damn depressing thinking about why American men and woman in uniform die for nothing.

2. The Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie and his top staff acting like third graders causing four days of massive traffic backups on the George Washington Bridge and the city of Fort Lee, New Jersey, by closing down lanes on the bridge for no reason. Christie, a leading candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 2016,  proves how pathetic our political system is for producing quality leaders who can address real problems. Of course, Christie says he knew nothing about the lane closing scheme to punish a democratic foe who just happens to be the mayor of Fort Lee. My apologies to third graders.

3. Newly elected mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio wants to charge charter schools in the city rent. Terrific idea. Poor families trying to get their children a better education. Why not charge homeless shelters and animal refuge centers like PAWS, rent, too? Soup kitchens, $1,000 a month. Toy drives for underprivlidged tots, $1,500. Wait, I’ve got a better idea. Any service within city limits that feeds the poor or helps people gets a flat surcharge. Little Sisters of the Poor — automatic tax levy of an additional $5,000. Give me a freaking break — mayor, go fine money somewhere else.

4. A friend of mine lost his job because he was good at it. Why shouldn’t that surprise you? In fact, he was so good that jealous back stabbers tried for years to undermine him. The majority of Philadelphia’s baseball fan-base were appreciative of his dedication and knowledge of the game. Didn’t matter. After 37 years as a broadcaster, 41 with the organization, he was booted out the door because a big-shot corporation deal made him expendable. The corporate suits want a younger, slick-chicked-know nothing to appease the back stabbers. Just goes to show you that money does buy everything. Hey, Comcast, slickchick this!

5. Blogs. It is estimated that over a 137 million blogs exist on the Internet. What are these people trying to say? Any topic you pick,  you can bet there are blogs about it. Meanwhile, newspapers are going down the toilet faster than the other kind of paper and magazines aren’t far behind.  Internet giants like  WordPress and Blogspot will give any dimwit free space to write an incomplete sentence.

Of course, my blog is different.

(If you think my blog is annoying, check out this specimen of artistic creativity: )


Leave a comment

Two Reviews On Charter School General

Dr. Mark E. Sandberg, retired Dean of the Rider University College of Business Administration, Lawrenceville, New Jersey / Here is what Dr. Sandberg said about Charter School General

“My first reaction is that this author is a truly creative individual. Wow, by the time you are done reading the novel one sees this in a much larger way. Next, it is great to see how this book shows inner city students and the staff that care about them triumph. They triumph over their world, and forces much powerful. Next, it causes readers to understand what kids in underprivileged areas live through in their daily life. At the end  one is left with such a wonderful feeling. The ending is magical.”

Dr. Fredricka Reisman, professor and founder of the Drexel University School of Education and Director of the Drexel/Torrance Center for Creativity and Innovation at Drexel University in Philadelphia / Here is what Dr. Reisman said about Charter School General

 “I could not put this book down.

“The main character, Jamil Jamil, reveals the heart of so many of our African American students in urban settings. The author has captured the essence of Jamil Jamil- courageous, lonely, creative, isolated–has a grandmother who supplements a crack head mother–and he has a smart, engaging personality. The setting is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the time is now. Jamil’s Charter school provides an option for a safe, effective education. Jamil has inherited a gift that allows him to transcend human communication; a secret gift that enables him to deal with a possible terrorist attack on his beloved city.

The book is rich with behind the scenes information regarding governmental and international intrigue. Readers from elementary through high school as well as adults will find this an exciting and enjoyable experience. Whether the book is read to or read by youth and their family members, a good feeling will result.”

Leave a comment

Tether Hypothesis Offered by Harvard Scientists

In humans brains enlarged through evolution.

In humans brains enlarged through evolution.

Two Harvard researchers, Randy L. Buckner and Fenna M. Krienen, recently studied brain size in humans as compared to other mammals (mammals are people and animals) and offered a stunning explanation of how and why our brains evolved and became biggerbigger than all other mammals.

They offered the “tether hypothesis.”

In all other mammals, the outer layers of the brain are divided into regions called cortices. Through motor cortices, signals — or commands — are sent and mammals react or respond to the commands. A bunny sees a lion coming, a command is sent from the motor cortice and the bunny hops away. If it’s a smart bunny it runs like hell.

But, the two scientists say, here’s where human brains are different. As human brains grew in size, their motor cortices didn’t. Instead, association cortices grew, which paved the way for decision making, memory, and self reflections — or what we think about ourselves. Apparently, other mammals don’t think much about themselves.

Science accepts ESP.

Science accepts ESP.

Now here’s the thing: As human brains grew in size — over millions of years, of course — a new wiring system developed in the human brain called association cortices.

This new wiring system is crucial to the evolution of the human mind, the Harvard scientists say.  These association cortices can communicate without any influences from the outside world, they say. It allows humans to think about themselves and their environment in ways other mammals cannot.

In other words, humans can contemplate their navels while cats and dogs don’t do much contemplating.

Look, if human brains developed through evolution by getting bigger and allowing the association cortices to expand and develop, it would be acceptable to believe that all human brains did not develop in the same way,  just like all legs and arms have not developed the same.

In some humans, scientists say, parts of the brain developed allowing the human mammal to experience situations not garnered through the human senses — sight, taste, sound, etc. Science accepts this and calls it extrasensory perception. Maybe you have it or maybe  you don’t but some folks do. And where did it come from? From a part of the brain that developed in that person more than in all others, through evolution, of course.

But what about animals?

But what about animals?

Make sense?

In Charter School General, a child’s brain developed just a little differently than yours or mine. Through that development it allows him to exchange thought processes with animals on a level not available to you or me. He uses this gift to get animals out of the “zoo prison” and save the city.

If you are a Nook or Kindle reader,  you can read the Charter School General for 99 cents. Take a chance on this book, it’s a great one. I’m going to make a list of all things that are 99 cents.


Leave a comment

Paul the Octopus Could Predict the Future

If Paul can do it, why not Jamil Jamil?

Here's Paul selecting a World Cup winner.

Here’s Paul selecting a World Cup winner.

The eight-legged sea creature captured the world’s imagination when — by selecting food from boxes representing soccer teams — Paul correctly predicted not just the outcome of his native Germany’s matches but also the overall winner.

Here’s how Paul the octopus did it. For each match, he was presented with two boxes containing food, each marked with the flag of a nation football team in an upcoming match. He correctly picked 11 out of 13 matches. In the World Cup final, he predicted a win for Spain against the Netherlands by eating the mussel in the box with the Spanish flag.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) says that octopuses are some of the most intelligent of invertebrates, with complex thought processes, long, and short-term memories, and different personalities. They can use tools, learn through observation, and are particularly sensitive to pain. Paul died in October 2010, at age two and a half, a normal lifespan for the species.

The book Charter School General, based on real-life thought exchanges between a 13 year old African American kid growing up in South Philadelphia and zoo animals, was written on the assumption that animals have a special gift of perception. The book can be ordered in soft back or in Kindle or Nook.


Leave a comment

The Good, The Bad, and The Ulgy

“Play ball…”

If you are not a baseball fan like I am you might not be aware of the run-a-way salaries teams are shelling out for somewhat good to marginal players.

Big money spread out over many years — in Robinson Cano’s case, a decade. With big TV deals kicking in, Forbes predicts major league baseball revenue will exceed $9 billion in 2014.

Here are some of those fat contracts:

  • Shin-Soo Choo agreed to a seven year, $130 million contract with the Texas Rangers.
  • Robinson Cano signed by Seattle for 10 years, $240 million
  • Jacoby Ellslbury inked a seven year, $153 million deal with the Yankees
  • Brian McCann signed by the Yankees for five years, $85 million
  • Curtis Granderson the Mets, four years, $60 million

A new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund — on the well-being of children in 35 developed nations — turned up some alarming statistics about child poverty. More than one in five American children fall below a relative poverty line, which UNICEF defines as living in a household that earns less than half of the national median. The United States ranks 34th of the 35 countries surveyed, above only Romania and below virtually all of Europe plus Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.


Leave a comment

Sixty-five Has Its Advantages and Disavantages

Sixty-five may have its benefits.

I now ride SEPTA free, subways and buses, that is. I’ll get my money’s worth on that deal because I’m on the Philly subways a lot, 2-3 times a day. Just show my little card and, whamo, I’m on.

But age can work against you, too, like back in May when I ran Broad Street with my son, Matt. And what a great run it was: through the heart of the city and neighborhoods to the Naval Yard. Finished fine, but not at the same time my son did. He’s 31.

Next day, however, I couldn’t walk. The pain and stiffness in my left hip was about all I could bear. Loaded up on Motrin and toughed it out. By August when it wasn’t much better, I went to a doctor. He took x-rays and said I have hip arthritis and need a hip replacement.

I laughed. I need a what? Get out of here.

Couple of weeks later I went to another doctor; a hip surgeon who does hip replacements. I figured if I was getting a second opinion, I’d go to a doctor that worked in the trenches of what I had. His diagnosis: Not hip arthritis but tendonitis and bursitis. Gave me some anti-inflammatory medicine and told me to work on loosing up the hip with stretching and exercises.

I’m up to 25 minutes on the treadmill a day and feeling good. Stretching and exercising, just like the doc said.

So how can one doctor say this, and another doctor say that?

To be honest, the hip surgeon said I do have some cartilage loss in my left hip, but nothing near hip arthritis. He said I‘m done running on the street, which I’ve been doing for 30 years. He told me to swim, use a stationary bike, do exercises that won’t put more wear and tear on my left hip.

Or, he said, “In 10 years you may really need my services, if you get my drift.”

I want to get back to the street. The treadmill is okay, it’s bringing me back from the tendinitis and bursitis, but it’s not outside running. So here’s my plan: I’m getting an MRI on the hip soon to see what my chances are of getting back outside. It will give me a better idea of how much cartilage loss I have.

If someone has a better idea I’d like to hear it.