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updated: 7/23/2012 8:12 PM

Reflections on a weekend of bad news

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  • The legacy of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno took another big hit Monday with the announcement of NCAA sanctions.

    The legacy of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno took another big hit Monday with the announcement of NCAA sanctions.
    Associated Press File


A certain old-time lyric seemed relevant the past few days.

"The world is a bad place … a bad place … a terrible place to live."

It began echoing Friday morning with the news that a young man shot up moviegoers in Colorado.

It proceeded through Monday morning when NCAA sanctions against Penn State reminded of the school's horrific child-rape scandal.

From CNN to ESPN, there was no place to escape.

A stream of consciousness is the only way I can think of responding.

•Others can pick apart whether the Penn State sanctions are appropriate or whether the NCAA should even be the sheriff in this case.

I'm more interested in whether the victims, the ones who matter most, believe the punishment is commensurate with their suffering and whether they ever were consulted before it was calculated.

•Unfortunately, that self-righteous "Success with Honor" thing didn't quite work out at Penn State.

•Spokespersons for the NCAA announced that "academic integrity monitors" will be in place to ensure the proper balance between academics and athletics at Penn State.

Here's a suggestion: Initiate a series of surprise inspections at other schools to determine what they're up to, too.

•Let's stop erecting statues to sports figures until at least 10 years after they're dead.

•It was nice that Barack Obama went to Colorado to meet with survivors and others, but it would have been nicer if Mitt Romney were invited to join him.

Maybe a little person-to-person civility over this tragedy would have set a gentler tone for the presidential race.

•Isn't it time for the Paterno family to stop issuing news releases?

•Penn State isn't evil because of this event any more than the Republican Party was because of Watergate or baseball was because of steroids.

The institutions are OK; some people inside them weren't.

•If only Superman were in the audience at that Batman movie.

•Since the 1970s, I have carried around a newspaper clipping with a quote from the late actor Telly Savalas, of all people:

"My uncle, who is a psychiatrist, was the head man at Bellevue Hospital in New York … He told me, 'After 50 years of practice in psychiatry, after 50 years, I find at this late stage in my life that the only defense I've ever had against the logic of madness is love. Everything else is total bullbleep, total bullbleep, except for love.'"

•Penn State and Ohio State are ineligible for the Big Ten title game, so maybe Illinois has a chance to win the division if misfortune befalls Wisconsin.

Please excuse that lame attempt at humor, but in all seriousness does the Big Ten championship mean anything anymore?

•The lyric up top comes from the 1969 hit, "Reflections of My Life."

The world was on fire back then, too. We survived those times and an optimistic guess is that we'll survive these, as painful as they are, if we maintain the notion that there are more good people than bad.

•Yes, "The world is a bad place, a bad place, a terrible place to live" sometimes.

However, the song's very next line is, "Oh, but I don't want to die."

Better to keep living and working to leave behind a better place.

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