Today’s top three Twitter trends at 12 PM PT in the USA reflect a weekend off, with shopping and sports at the forefront on American’s minds. Isn’t it a great country?

The top two spots are shout-outs to Small Business Saturday, a commercial day designated to help bolster an endangered species. This great country was built on the premise that anybody who wanted to go commercial could do so without control by the government. It was that promise and the richness of our natural resources that caused the waves of immigrants to put everything they owned into a suitcase and take the long boat ride to our shores.

Most of us who live here today are the generational offspring of those brave immigrants who made the trip and had an important hand in making our country great in the first place. Oddly enough, some people seem to think that to make America great “again,” we need to stem the flow of immigrants into our country, especially people of color, and all the “them” people that offend or frighten the “us” crowd.

But I digress.

In the post-WWII decades, the majority of businesses were small businesses. If you wanted groceries, you went to the local grocery store. Sure, there were chains that proliferated and spread like fleas in spring, but they were mostly local chains.

When you needed cough syrup, you went to the neighborhood drug store where everybody knew your name and while you were there you could probably get an ice cream soda.

And in those days, restaurants were ALL small businesses. The likes of McDonald's and Colonel Sanders changed all that, and now even neighborhood looking restaurants are often part of a national or regional chain or franchise when you read the fine print. If the trend continues, Mom and Pop restaurants may be one of the last bastions of the brick and mortar small business landscape.

Then came the internet

The tech revolution has started a whole new wave of small business owners as online sales have skyrocketed over the last decade. Anybody with a computer, an internet connection and the will to sell can make a modest living online. You don’t even need a domain name if you use sites like e-Bay, etsy, or craigslist to name a few, but seller beware.

As Amazon casts its shadow over all sales, making its founder the richest man in the world, small business online entrepreneurs will need to find their niche, whether it be unique items, price or customer care. And they will need to shout out to the world why they should be considered over Amazon, which by the way started in a garage as a very small business.

Small businesses have been the backbone of this country for centuries, and while it is appropriate to celebrate them on their own special day, unless they are supported throughout the year, they too will go the route of extinction, as did “Martha,” the last passenger pigeon. She died in 1914 at 29-years-of-age while in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Martha was a descendant of the estimated three to five billion passenger pigeons that filled the skies of this country when the Europeans first landed on our shores.

Those pigeons got in the way. As they lost their habitat due to deforestation, they took to the fields causing damage to farmer’s crops. Small businesses have the same effect on big business, getting in the way of record profits and causing damage to their bottom line. Big business today practices the same tactic 19th-century farmers did to rid themselves of a pest, hunting them down and wiping them out in the name of progress and profit.

Local small businesses need our support to escape extinction, but not just one day a year. Seek out and get to know your local small business owners and soon you’ll be dealing with your “friend” down the street.

Religion may have been the 'opium of the masses' but spectator sports have long been competing for that title

For the sake of modernization, maybe the Karl Marx quote should read “opioid" of the masses.

Sports are king, especially long traditional rivalries. The rivalry between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines started on October 16, 1897, a shutout which the Wolverines won by a score of 36 to nothing. The two teams have had a total of 113 meetings with a game every season since 1918, ranked by ESPN in 2000 as “the greatest North American sports rivalry.”

A game like this goes hand-in-hand with Small Business Saturday as it should help fill the neighborhood sports bars down the block.

For the enthusiastic fans of all national sports events, it provides an outlet for them to let it all hang out, support their team and forget for a few moments about how screwed up this world really is.

But even that special time is being threatened by big business, and politics. Sports and sports fans are in a sense perfect living examples of free speech. You have the right to vigorously support whatever team or player you wish, and I have the right to support mine, even if my player happens to use his or her free speech right to protest racial and social inequality.

Time and time again, free speech is proven to be one of the most difficult freedoms we have to protect because the free speech of one is often offensive to another.

Sports need to remain pure in that they provide a means for individuals and team members to display their talents and excellence in their chosen sport. So “Go Bucks” or “Go Blue,” whichever you prefer and enjoy the game, but remember it is JUST a game and not some kind of Holy Grail that means anything at all in the overall scheme of things. That's life.

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