To Some the Minnesota Timberwolves are too White

Okay we are 65 years since Jackie Robinson made his major league debut with the then Brooklyn, and now current Los Angeles Dodgers. We are 65 years since Kenny Washington was the first African American to play in the NFL.  We are 62 years since Earl Lloyd was the first African American to play in the NBA.  We are 55 years since Nat Northington was the first African American to play football in the Southeastern Conference, at the University of Kentucky.  To the best of my knowledge, every sport in America, if not the world, is essentially color blind; and I can say with confidence and honesty that this is a very, very good thing.

Sadly though there are still some people out there who cannot, or will not move beyond seeing the color of one’s skin, not just in sport, but in life too.  Some of those people might be a little biased, to put it politely, while others just might be trying to grab a headline, by writing a racially charged article.

Take for example this article, and this article, both of which are about how the NBA team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, is the “whitest team” since the 1980’s Boston Celtics.  This has led some civil rights activists to lay claim that this is an intentional move by the Timberwolves management.

Really!?  Are we going to actually go there — now — in the 21st century?

Here’s my take on it, and it is much like the Timberwolves player, Brandon Roy’s take on it; I don’t see it as any sort of racial conspiracy.  Brandon Roy has said, “I never really had to feel like I’m the only black guy out here. I’ve played on teams that maybe had all black guys and the feeling is just the same when I’m out there on the floor playing with these guys.”  Yeah, that’s right, Brandon Roy is one of the African American players on the Timberwolves roster, and he does not see that roster as some sort of racial bias by the team’s management.

The Timberwolves roster isn’t just full of a bunch of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants from some American suburb.  Five of their 10 players are from foreign countries.  The Timberwolves also tried unsuccessfully to add two players from free agency, one received a matching contract offer with another team, and the other opted to take less money and play for the Los Angeles Lakers, because he believed there was a better chance to win a NBA title there.  Both of those potential free agents are African American.

I think it is very sad that in today’s world there are still those that either look for, or can only see racial bias everywhere, and in everything.  Sure in some instances there are such biases, but to be quite honest, in those instances the bias is so blatant as to where it cannot be ignored, or refuted.  In this instance though I think those who are trying to say this is a case of prejudice are really going out of their way, by claiming it is some sort of well thought out and orchestrated conspiracy being played out by the management.  The thing about racists is that they are not going to try and cover things up through a convoluted conspiracy; they are just going to be racist.

Finally let’s look at this a different way.  What if someone decided to claim that some other team was too black?  That person would be lampooned, at best, and would most certainly be called a racist for even making such a claim.

It baffles me that 59 years after one of the greatest speeches ever given, by one of the greatest Americans in our history, that person being none other than Martin Luther King, Jr., and that speech being his seminal “I Have a Dream” speech, that there are still so many people who either don’t remember, have chosen to ignore, or have simply never heard the famous line about living in a world where people are judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

 

Smart People Tend to Drink More Alcohol

Who likes to have an adult beverage or more from time to time?  Well, according to a newly released study conducted in the UK and the USA, if you do then there is a good chance that you are smarter than some of your peers.

The researchers classified children before the age of 16 into cognitive classes that they named “very dull,” “dull,” “normal,” “bright,” and “very bright.”  They then followed these children into adulthood, through their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s — the American subjects were followed up seven years later — and the results for these studies found that those who fell into the “very bright” category drank more alcohol than their “very dull” counterparts.

The researchers said that they had controls in place for such factors as marital status, their parents’ educations, earnings, childhood social class, etc. etc. and even after filtering the results through those controls the results were the same.  The smarter the person, the more they drank alcohol.

The big question is why?  It appears that this study fails to adequately answer that question, though there are some hypotheses, as there always are whenever there is a new academic study released.

One such hypothesis has something to do with the evolution, that has something to do with how alcoholic beverages are relatively new in the grand scheme of things (approximately 10,000 years old) and trying to extrapolate from that that smarter people are more likely to drink alcohol.

Personally I don’t really follow that line of thought – maybe I am in the “dull” or “very dull” level of cognition though?  If that is true, then I guess I need to cut down in my alcohol consumption, for fear of skewing the results of this study.

Another thing that I don’t really understand is how this study is supposed to lend anything of mass importance to society.  Okay, so smart people tend to drink more than less smart people — now what are we supposed to do with this information?

 

Life Before Cable

Who here can remember life before cable television?  I know I can, and at the risk of sounding overly idyllic, I think that life was nicer, if not better, way back then.  Sure, sure, television viewers were saddled with “only” four television channels, those being the local affiliates for NBC, ABC, CBS, and PBS; and some communities had to make do with only three, or less of those four.  You know what though, most of us never really felt deprived, or shortchanged; it was simply what we knew.

It is all too easy for those who aren’t old enough to remember life before cable to criticize the quality of the television shows way back then (it was only about 35 years ago), but you know what?  I used to be critical of the early television shows that my parents used to watch too; so the idea of quality is a relative thing.

Here’s another thing that I remember from in that long ago ancient time, before we were blessed with hundreds of television channels, if people felt that there was nothing worth watching on, then many people simply turned the television off and actually did something.  I know, that is a shocking concept there, but trust me it did happen.  Let me ask you a question, how many times have you simply scrolled through the channels hoping that something good will magically appear that piques your interest?  I know I have done that – too many times.  I remember on nights when “nothing” was on, my family would turn-off the TV and breakout the board games and spent quality time together.  For all of the cable/internet generation, when was the last time your family did that?

Of course I realize that we cannot go back, cable television is here, and honestly there are several cable networks that I enjoy watching.  No, I am not advocating the abolition of cable, but I do have a little lamentation for the days of yore from time to time.  Maybe I’m just getting too damn old, or maybe it is because I was tired of scrolling through all of those channels and muttering that there is absolutely nothing on.

Moving an Asteroid with a Giant Paintball?

So, how do we deflect an asteroid, should one threaten to be a planet killer poised to collide with our home, Mother Earth?  I am sure we have all seen the Bruce Willis flick, “Armageddon,” and the Tea Leoni movie “Deep Impact.”  Both of those movies, which I believe came out the same year, explored the possibilities of a large space object on a crash course with Earth, and how we might try and prevent that from happening.  Granted the efforts in those films had different results, in “Armageddon” Bruce Willis and his crew save the day.  In “Deep Impact” the comet hits the Earth.  Also, those are both Hollywood movies, which means that actual science can and does take a back seat to what makes for good drama.

Okay, outside of Hollywood there are actual scientists who are wrestling with the question of can we currently deflect, or alter the course of an asteroid that has Earth in its sights.  There are all sorts of theories and hypothesis, but the latest sounds the least likely to work.  The idea is to shoot five tons of white paint at the looming asteroid.

I know, it sounds absolutely preposterous, it comes to us from Sung Wook Paek; and who is the person?  Well he is a graduate student at MIT, so he isn’t exactly a quack.  The idea is fully backed up in science, and to put it in the most elementary of ways it works like this.  The impact of that five tons of paint would provide enough of a nudge to alter the asteroid’s direction, and the white paint would serve as a large enough reflective surface of the sun’s rays as to actually speed up this change in direction.  These two things would provide enough of an altered course as to move the asteroid off of its targeting of Earth and thus save the day.

Yeah, I think we can rest assured that Hollywood isn’t going to script a movie about this idea anytime soon.

 

So Many Channels and So Little to Watch

According to this article, 51% of U.S. households subscribe to cable television, another 26% have a satellite television subscription, 1% have both, and 22% have neither.  Those are not too surprising statistics, given the American people’s love of watching TV.  In fact I actually find it a little surprising that “only” 77% of people are paying for some sort of service to watch television, but 77% is still a very high percentage of the populace.

Knowing the numbers then, of which I am in that 77%, I think it is a safe assumption to make that many of those subscribers do not watch every single channel that they get with whichever service they are paying for.  I know that of the gazillion channels I get, I only watch a handful of those channels on a regular basis.  I can tell you that there are only about twelve channels that I tune into on a regular enough basis, and the rest are simply there taking up space and my time whenever I scroll through the comprehensive list of channels looking for something to watch.

That is another thing about having access to so many TV channels, how many times have you sat there with your remote in hand, scrolling through all of those channels, and stated that there is absolutely nothing on worth watching.  It reminds me of the Bruce Springsteen song, “57 Channels (and Nothin’ On).”  Yet, there we are muttering those words, and scrolling through all of the TV channels at our finger tips, eventually landing on one of the channels that we always watch.

Now, what if there was another way to subscribe to and watch television?  That way being that you only pay for the channels that you know you are going to watch, and the rest of the channels are not there to clutter up your television dial.  It isn’t a new concept; it is called “A la Carte Cable Television,” and while I haven’t seen any specific numbers as to how many people would be willing to have such a subscription service, I can only imagine that the numbers cannot be that small.  Sadly though, the cable and satellite service providers have been fairly resistant to providing such a subscription plan for their customers, let alone acknowledging the viability of it either.

This resistance to yielding to the wants of many people is one reason why I think eventually the internet will provide the content that people want and continue the slow decline of traditional television and even many, if not all, of the traditional television networks too.

11 Years Old Suggestion to the NFL is Accepted and He Gets Free Tickets to See it Implemented

If you are a fan of the NFL, then you know that for the past four years that league has supported Breast Cancer Awareness Month by having all 32 teams add some amount of pink (the color adopted for this the breast cancer cause) to their uniforms.  Players wear pink wristbands, there are pink accents to their shoes, their towels are pink, as well as other parts of their uniforms.  I think the fact that the NFL does this, and I am sure that there are those who might take the cynical view that the NFL is simply doing this to attract more female viewers. Honestly though who really cares if this might even be remotely true, because it is all about getting more awareness, and driving donations to this worthy cause.

Well, despite all of the teams, players, officials, and cheerleaders wearing some amount of pink on their uniforms, there are still plenty of things left to their original colors as to keep the teams, and the game fairly recognizable to the fans.  I mean it would be awfully confusing if every team simply changed their all of their team colors to pink during this month, now wouldn’t it?  Plus the famed and cursed penalty flags are still the same color they always have been — yellow — but that too is about to change.

Thanks to a letter written to the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, by 11 years old Dante Cano, the NFL will use pink penalty flags in this Sunday’s game between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets.  As mentioned, young mister Cano wrote a letter to Roger Goodell, in it he asked the commissioner if the NFL would adopt his suggestion that the referees use pink penalty flags during the league’s observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The commissioner liked Dante’s suggestion so much to not only accept it, but also in thanks to Dante for making this suggestion he has invited Dante and his family to attend the game on behalf of the NFL (free tickets), and present the pink penalty flags to the referees before the game.

The Peanuts Gang is too Mean for Today’s Children

Everyone has an opinion, and that’s cool with me.  Sometimes another’s opinion will sway me to their way of thinking, sometimes I just agree with their opinion from the outset, and sometimes I simply dismiss their opinion altogether as something that I simply cannot agree with.  The thing is though that I try to always accept another’s right to their opinion, but I do not appreciate it when others try and force their opinions upon me and others.  That is to say that I do think that just because one person doesn’t like something, that that something should then be taken away from everyone.

So, where am I going with this?  Well it appears that there is a father out there who feels so strongly against something that he is calling for it to be retired and never to be heard from again.  What is this something that is so horrible?  It is none other than the Charlie Brown holiday cartoons that have been airing every year for as long as I can remember.  This Dad is particularly targeting “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.”  His reason for his distaste in this classic cartoon is that he believes that it essentially glorifies the now taboo subject of bullying amongst school children, with all of the name calling that goes on in these cartoons.  He takes particular exception with the characters calling Charlie Brown a “blockhead,” and says that such things being broadcast on television shows have no place in today’s world.  Okay, fine, I agree, that name calling is not a good thing, but please allow me to ask some questions.

Who is the parent or legal guardian of children?  Is it you, the adult; or is it the television and whatever shows are being broadcasted on it?  Doesn’t every television today have the ability to change channels and to be turned off?  Is anybody making you force your children, or anyone’s children for that matter, to watch, not just this television show, but ANY television show?  Finally, are you capable of discussing the issue of bullying with your children, or do you believe that by advocating the cessation of a television show that has things in it you don’t care for make the problem disappear?

I respect that father’s opinion, and his right to voice it, but in this particular instance I am neither swayed to his line of thinking, nor do I agree with it — but that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

 

Men and Women Can’t “Just be Friends”

One of my favorite movies is “When Met Sally,” starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.  Yeah I know it is a romantic comedy, and I am a guy, which means that I might lose some of my man cred.  I’m not going to apologize for liking this movie though, even if there might be threats to revoke my man card.

In that movie Billy Crystal’s character, Harry, tells Meg Ryan’s character, Sally, that men and women cannot be friends, explaining that sex will always get in the way.  Sally asks what about less attractive women and Harry replies that men basically want to sleep with them too.  That philosophy can easily be dismissed as humorous dialogue made for a humorous movie…until now.

According to this article in Scientific American, researchers have determined that Harry was pretty spot on in his analysis on men and women just being friends.

The researchers took 88 pairs of opposite sex friends and separated them to ask each a series of questions regarding their true feelings and thoughts about their friend of the opposite sex.  Not surprisingly there were vast differences between how the men and women responded to these questions.

As Harry so accurately stated, the men were much more attracted to their female friends than the females were towards their male friends; and me being a guy I can totally understand and will begrudgingly agree that in many instances we men do contemplate a romantic interlude with our female friends from time to time.  What is equally not surprising is that many of the men in this study also falsely believed that there was a mutual attraction between them and their female friends.  Again, as a man I am here to admit that many of us men are, umm, let’s just say “confused” in their interpreting words, actions, and feelings when it comes to women.  Yes, I am admitting that men are essentially big dumb animals.  Plus men responded that they were much more willing to act upon their mistaken belief of mutual attraction.  The interesting thing though is that both men and women tended to find their opposite sex friend more attractive if that friend was currently involved in a romantic relationship with another person.

So, there you have it, it appears that if you are a woman and have a male friend, then it is entirely possible that that male friend is attracted to you, he thinks you “like” him, which then makes him think that he has a shot at hooking up with you.  If you are a man and have a female friend, well odds are that she doesn’t find you attractive, she doesn’t “like” you in a romantic way, which means that you (the man) do not have a shot at hooking up with her.  I think this is pretty valuable information to know if both sexes wish to have and maintain opposite sex relationships.

All Hail the Happiness Machine

According to this article America is not the happiest country in the world.  The title of the happiest country in the world goes to Denmark – not exactly the place I think most people would guess as being overly happy.  According to the data used to come about which country is happier than another in that article America doesn’t even crack the top 10; FYI the 10 spot went to Sweden.  Then there is another article which doesn’t even have America in the top twenty of happiest countries in the world, with the USA landing at the 23rd spot on the list.

Granted happiness is a hard thing to measure, so these lists can be taken with a grain of salt, and I suppose it could be said that your individual happiness is all that you can control, so worrying about where your particular country lands on some list of happiness is relatively moot.  That being said then, being happy and staying happy can be a little more difficult for some than it is for others.  I mean sure, there are those who seem to be perpetually happy, and while those kind of people can be rather annoying for those of us who succumb to any of the other emotions that we’re endowed with.  So, for us mere mortals who may occasionally feel a little less happy — otherwise known as sad — then perhaps you could contact Brendan Dawes.

Who is Brendan Dawes?

Well, he isn’t a psychiatrist, nor is he a psychologist; in fact he really doesn’t have any sort of mental health credentials what-so-ever.  Instead he is an inventor, and he has created The Happiness Machine, which is a printer that will print out a happy message to whoever the unhappy user is.  It is a printer that is directly connected to the internet and scours the internet monitoring service called We Feel Fine looking for anyone who mentions the word “happy” in a public post, or tweet.  Then when you feel a little gloomy, you just hit a button on the Happiness Machine and through the miracle of modern technology the machine prints out that happy message for you.

Maybe if we put one of these new devices in every American building then we all could be one of those perpetually happy people and America would then rise to the top of the world’s happiest country list?

Man Makes Handheld Tesla Coil

Many men like to tinker around in the garage.  It is the one part of the house that is almost completely regarded as the “man cave.”

The garage is where many projects are started, abandoned, restarted, and eventually completed.  It is where the tools are stored, things get fixed, the oil gets changed in the family truckster, birdhouses are made, and hand held Tesla Coils are created.

Wait…what?!

Hand held Tesla Coils?

Who makes a hand held Tesla Coil?

Well, apparently there is someone out there who did just that.  Found on Reddit is a link to imgur.com that shows a rather excited looking man holding his wielding his new, um, “invention.”  I say he looks excited, in that mad scientist kind of way.

Most people have this movie like image in their minds as to what a mad scientist looks like — think Doc Brown in the “Back to the Future” franchise — and this guy would never be considered for any mad scientist roles in Hollywood.  He looks like any other dude you might run into at Starbucks; but nonetheless he has created this little gizmo in his garage.

Now the big question is what in the world can this thing possibly be used for?  Don’t answer that.  I think it is obvious what this thing can be used for — catching ghosts, right?  Seriously, it looks like the Plasma Proton Packs that were worn in the movie “Ghostbusters?”  It’s either that or using it as a mobile bug zapper.  Regardless of the reason, or the intent of this guy’s endeavor to harness the power of electricity I think us mere common folk can agree that this kind of makes all of that tinkering us common folk do in our garages seem more than a little trite now doesn’t it?