Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, September 2, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page B:3



 Mountain Views News Saturday, September 2, 2017 


Mountain Views



Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


LaQuetta Shamblee


Richard Garcia


Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 


Kevin Barry


Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Merri Jill Finstrom

Rev. James Snyder

Dr. Tina Paul

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Renee Quenell

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten


 Will football someday become the world’s first virtual 
professional sport?

 With the NFL’s preseason underway, high school and 
college players back on the practice fields, and tens of 
thousands of fantasy leagues conducting their annual 
drafts, let’s put the question another way:

 Which will happen first: the collapse of the NFL due to a 
shortage of players willing to risk injury? Or the development 
of computer-based football so compelling and unpredictable that it actually replaces 
the pro game loved by millions of fans?

 For now, both scenarios seem far fetched—but something’s gotta give. Football is 
being jolted as never before by both scientific and anecdotal evidence about the effects 
of repeated blows to the head.

 What could the long-term future possibly be for a sport in which, for example, 40 
former pros conduct a charity golf tournament (in California this summer) to raise 
money for research on traumatic brain injuries? For a game in which more than 2,000 
women turn to a Facebook page devoted to the health consequences faced by their 
loved ones employed as pro players?

 The Federation of State High School Associations tabulates that participation in 
football has fallen for the fourth straight year—with the latest seasonal drop totaling 
roughly 26,000 players. If the pipeline of human pro players eventually dries up, 
perhaps replacements will emerge from computer labs.

 In fact, pro football has been inching toward “virtual” status for over three decades. 
The crude computer efforts of the early 1980’s, developed by companies such as 
Nintendo, have evolved into modern, high-definition versions so life-like that they are 
played by many NFL pros in their spare time.

 The NFL has enthusiastically supported this—in large part because of the license 
fees, but also, I believe, with an eye toward the future. The league also backs fantasy 
football, which continues to grow in popularity as more and more fans create and 
manage their own teams in computer-based leagues.

 The problem, of course, is that computer games and fantasy leagues depend, at least 
for now, on real players and real on-field results. But that might someday change.

 Consider what two of my acquaintances, one a former pro player, the other an 
armchair fanatic, say when asked about the state of football today.

 The fan explains that he never goes to games anymore—they’re too expensive, 
too rowdy and, moreover, not as enjoyable as watching on a large-screen, high-def 
television. He prefers a comfy chair, with reasonably-priced snacks at hand and a 
computer propped on his lap to track multiple fantasy squads.

 The former pro explains that if the average fan were ever to stand on the field during 
an NFL game he would be so sickened by the sounds of collisions and screams of pain 
that he would cease loving the sport. What you see on TV, he adds, are guys in helmets 
and pads looking very much like avatars in a video game. Football is the only sport 
in which you can watch a player for several seasons yet very possibly have no clue 
whatsoever about what he looks like in person.

 To my mind, these two insightful fellows are describing the foundation for totally 
virtual football. The NFL could control it, the networks would cover it, and gamblers 
might even support it.

 Given the pace at which computer science is advancing, a truly equivalent virtual 
game can likely be crafted in a decade’s time.

 Personally, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to rationalize my passion for a sport 
that is so clearly proving to cause lifelong suffering for its participants. I’m tired of all 
the dirty looks from my wife as she wonders why I so stubbornly support this game.

 I’ve grown used to getting the scores and stats from Siri and Alexa. I suppose I’d be 
willing to have their colleagues play the game as well.


Peter Funt can be reached at

Peter Funt is a writer and speaker. His book, “Cautiously Optimistic,” is available at and 

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Wildlife and the conservation community suffered a tremendous 
loss last week when Wayne Lotter was murdered in Dar es Salaam, 
Tanzania. A well-known conservationist committed to ending 
elephant and giraffe poaching, Lotter was co-founder of the PAMS 
Foundation, which works for sustainable conservation solutions 
with local partners and communities.

 The elephant population in Tanzania has been particularly devastated by poaching, 
losing more than 66,000 members in the last decade according to PAMS. This is against 
the backdrop of a larger elephant genocide that has left more than 150,000 dead or 
mutilated in the last five years – all for their ivory. The largest land mammal on Earth, 
elephants were once common in Africa, numbering perhaps as many as 20 million on the 
continent at the beginning of the 19th century. Paul Allen’s Great Elephant Census found 
352,000 elephants in the whole of Africa now.

 Lotter’s efforts, including to educate about the extreme loss of elephant and giraffe life 
from massive poaching, were making an impact – 32,000 elephants and 7,000 giraffe 
protected. Lauded by the environmental community, but seen as a threat by wildlife 
traffickers, The Guardian reported that Lotter had received many death threats because 
of his work since he started PAMS in Tanzania in 2009.

 An investigation has been launched into the shooting death of Lotter, but many are 
speculating it was a targeted killing due to his work. Sean Willmore, president of the 
International Rangers Foundation (IRF), said, “It’s the most likely [motive], but we’ll wait 
to see what the police come out with. Those who are close to the game probably think 
there’s a strong correlation that it was due to his anti-poaching efforts.”

 World-renowned animal advocate Dr. Jane Goodall, who called Lotter a personal 
hero, wrote after the news of his death, “Wayne passionately believed in the importance 
of involving local communities in the protection of wildlife, and through his work with 
PAMS he helped train hundreds of village game scouts in many parts of the country. As 
a result he gained the support of many of the local people, but inevitably faced strong 
opposition from dealers and many high level government officials. He also worked to 
develop an intelligence-based approach to anti-poaching that undoubtedly helped to 
reduce the shocking level of elephant slaughter in Tanzania.”

 As I wrote recently for World Ranger Day, those holding the Thin Green Line in a 
war against wildlife have taken on what is today some of the most dangerous work in the 
world. More than 1,000 park rangers and guards worldwide have been killed. IRF says 
80 percent of these murders were at the hands of organized poachers and militia groups. 
Environmental activists and conservationists also have been murdered.

 Since Lotter’s murder, reports and posts from conservationists have shared a resolve 
to carry on the essential work of Lotter. For us on the sidelines, those of us reading about 
this from afar, we need to do more to help those on the frontlines. What’s at stake is the 
loss of species, and the implications of losing species are significant and far-reaching.

 Beyond the balance of ecosystems, on the most basic level, how can we live in a world 
where we allowed the complete destruction of the elephant, the giraffe, the rhino, the 
tiger, the lion? What value does Man bring to the planet if he can only destroy?

 If I had a genie and a few wishes right now, I’d asked for a ten-fold outpouring of 
conservation resources. They would be for more sustainability solutions, to better engage 
local communities where elephants and other wildlife are taking tremendous losses, and 
to educate and help those communities become the major stakeholders in protecting 
their unique wildlife. 

 As well, resources would go towards educating the end-consumers of ivory products 
regarding the impacts of their purchases, to ending trophy hunting, killing the ivory trade, 
and killing the trafficking of wildlife. Further, resources would go towards increasing 
wildlife habitat and educating about the impacts of too much human population growth, 
while advocating for stabilizing and reducing that growth through educating people to 
choose smaller families – or even choosing not to reproduce. The latter because wildlife 
threats go well beyond poaching. Increasing human populations and the need for more 
space for agriculture, industry, roads, housing and other infrastructure all lead to the 
destruction of wildlife habitat.

 Admittedly, all very idealistic, but possible. It is one way to honor the memory of 
Lotter and the many other wildlife warriors committed to protecting the wild world who 
have lost their lives in the line of duty or who are out there every day fighting the good 

 Condolences to Lotter’s family, friends and colleagues, and to the world which has lost 
a much-need voice for the protection of wildlife besieged.


 A Senior Fellow with CAPS, Maria Fotopoulos writes from Los Angeles about the 
connection between human overpopulation, wildlife loss and the environment. Contact her 


Most presidents try to avoid controversy by painstakingly 
parsing their words like a fifth grader conserving an allowance at 
the county fair. Reluctant to reflect even the hint of a whisper of a 
shadow of a rumpus. But Donald Trump is not most presidents. 
He is as singular as a smokestack in a cotton field.

 The former New York City real estate developer wields words 
the way a butcher employs a bone saw. Sometimes revealing more than he intends, 
such as claiming that reporters… ”don’t know how to write good.” Other times 
intentionally dropping sticks of rhetorical dynamite into various honey wagons not 
caring who gets splattered with what.

 Our nation’s rookie Chief Executive utilizes a special language that is equal parts 
dog whistle, miscommunication and distinctive code. And usually there’s a huuuge 
gap between what he says and what he means. A divide that we here at Durstco 
have gone to great lengths to decipher so that regular citizens can follow along in a 
segment we like to call… What Trump Says & What Trump Means.

WTS. “The media is totally unfair.

WTM. They insist on reporting the facts. 

WTS. “A lot of people don’t know this, but…” 

WTM. Until being told that morning, he didn’t know that.

WTS. “Many people are talking about this… “

WTM. One guy squatting in a cabin in Upper Michigan tweeted about it in 2014.

WTS. “He’s an idiot.” “A loser.” “Weak.”

WTM. Somebody who disagrees with him.

WTS. “He’s a good person.” “A fabulous find.” “Major talent.”

WTM. Somebody who agrees with him, but you wouldn’t want them to babysit the 

WTS. “Tremendous.” “Amazing.” “Fantastic.”

WTM. He likes it.

WTS. “Disaster.” “Total catastrophe.” “A disgrace.”

WTM. Doesn’t like it.

WTS. “Believe me. Believe me.”

WTM. Don’t believe him. Don’t believe him.

WTS. “I have top people working on this.”

WTM. He left a message on Jared Kushner’s voice mail.

WTS. “I’m highly educated. I have the best words.”

WTM. Which he highlights by limiting his usage to about 200 of them.

WTS: “That’s a fact. You know it, I know it, everybody here knows it.”

WTM: He either made it up, or saw it on InfoWars.

WTS. “I will let you know in a brief period of time.”

WTM. He has no idea what’s going on. 

WTS. “There’s 2 sides to every story.”

WTM. White supremacists make up a large part of his base.

WTS. “I don’t have time for political correctness.”

WTM. He thinks demonstrating empathy makes him look weak.

WTS. “Absolutely. 100%.”

WTM. Probably not.

WTS. “The failing New York Times is one of the worst newspapers.”

WTM. They keep digging up facts.

WTS. “We’re going to build a wall and get Mexico to pay for it.”

WTM. Xenophobes make up a large part of his base.

WTS. “I’m not going to tell you, so as not to alert the enemy to my plans.”

WTM. He has no idea what’s going on.

WTS. “I love the poorly educated.”

WTM. He loves the poorly educated. They make up a large part of his base.

WTS. “Everybody hates the United States.”

WTM. Since last November 8.

WTS. “Fake news.”

WTM. Once again, someone has unearthed evidence.

WTS. “We’re going to Make America Great Again.” 

WTM. He has no idea what’s going on.


Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comic and former sod 
farmer in New Berlin, Wisconsin. For a calendar of personal appearances, including 
his new one-man show, “Durst Case Scenario,” please visit

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