Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

December 6, 2013

LEFFLER: The Olympics, Mandela and freedom, oh my

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Watching last Friday’s episode of Grimm the other day, I was really happy.

Yeah, sure the episode itself was good. I’ve always liked Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the wesen are always cool. Especially that hot blonde Hexenbiest. But I digress. (already, I know)

No. The thing that excited me was the five golden interlocking rings under NBC’s famous peacock logo. There’s only 62 days until the 2014 Winter Olympics start. Did you hear me? Sixty-two days!

See, for me the Winter Olympics are like a Christmas on the Fourth of July. The Summer Olympics remind me much more of Thanksgiving. Of course, that’s not a good thing from my perspective. But we’ve got years to worry about that waste of time. The Winter Olympics is in a mere 62 days.

Basically the Winter Olympics is a bunch of sliding — skiing, bobsledding, luge, ski jumping, snowboarding — and controlled slipping — ice skating, hockey, speed skating, curling, and cross country skiing. Any nine-year-old boy has perfected every single one of these sports either on a hill in winter or on their parents’ linoleum kitchen floor.

In other words, for two and a half weeks in February I get to relive my youth vicariously through Olympic athletes. In 62 days I’ll be nine again. How could I not be excited?

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The funny thing is at 39, I’m not so good at controlled sliding. On my way to work from my girlfriend’s house on Thanksgiving, I took a spill on some ice. Ended up in the hospital — for the second time this year.

I’m also not so good in the kitchen. Cooking a turkey over the weekend, I burned myself pretty good. Then I ran a serrated knife half way through my thumb. I should have gone for stitches but I refuse to go the Emergency Room twice in a week. 

I’m still waiting to figure out what exactly it is I’m good at. When I do, I’ll let you know.

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I’d be wrong not to touch on the passing of Nelson Mandela Thursday. The anti-apartheid icon and father of modern day politics in South Africa was 95 years old.

That said, I cannot do justice to his life, so I will simply share a quote:

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

Mandela finally climbed his last hill. But thanks to him, he left a path for others to follow.

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A new documentary called “Cash for Kids” delves into the saga that occurred in Pennsylvania during the tenure of one Mark Ciavarella, who used to be a judge and is now an inmate.

Ciavarella was convicted in 2011 of literally selling kids into the prison system in exchange for kickbacks from the privately run operation. In all, he netted $1.2 million in the scheme. And in the end thousands of convictions were thrown out.

I’m not going to judge the concept of privately run prisons, although I admit, I think it’s a bit peculiar. But I will remind people that power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Fortunately we live in a country with checks and balances and Ciavarella got his just desserts. Kind of. I don’t think 28 years is enough. He should have to serve 10 days for every day served by any of the kids he ever convicted wrongfully and sent away.

There is nothing more immoral than depriving someone of their liberty.

Or as Nelson Mandela would say, “There is no such thing as part freedom.”

Scott Leffler would earn gold if there were an Olympic sport for injuring yourself. Sadly for him, there's not. Follow his non-award-winning injuries on Twitter @scottleffler.