When grown men cry

•June 19, 2016 • Leave a Comment
2016-06-19 19.38.18

Watching my team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, win the NBA finals from my Vegas Apartment.

It’s just a stupid basketball game. Why should we really care so much? For people who didn’t grow up in Northeast Ohio, there’s no way to explain. For more than five decades our sports teams have been perennial losers. You can’t find another major U.S. metropolitan area that has gone so long without a sports championship. The amount of heartache that sports fans from the area have had to endure is incredible. Every year, when TV broadcasters play the perfunctory montage of Cleveland sports failures, the heartache grows. I truly never thought I’d live to see the curse finally broken. We’ve finally won. No more Believeland. We’re Titletown.

But it’s just a stupid basketball game. Shouldn’t I feel guilty that tears actually welled up when clocked hit zero? The Cleveland Cavaliers came back from being down 3-1 in the series to win game seven of the NBA Finals. Not only did we win it all in a great game, we defeated the Golden State Warriors. This was a team that won a record-breaking 73 games during the regular season. We were underdogs who beat a most worthy opponent.

The last time a Cleveland team won a major sports title was 1964. That year the Browns beat the Colts 27-0 in the NFL champion game. My dad actually attended the game and watched alongside nearly 80,000 fans at Cleveland Municipal Stadium as Gary Collins caught three touchdown passes in the blowout. A few years later, the NFL merged with the AFL and the modern Superbowl era of pro football began. Despite being the best franchise up to that point, the Browns have yet to achieve that level of greatness again.

As great as it must have been to see the Browns win a championship, my dad said that watching the Cavs clinch the NBA Finals was even better. Moments after tonight’s game ended, I received a text from my mom: “Dad is out of his mind!!! Crying.” Thank god I wasn’t the only one to tear up from watching a bunch of athletes throw a ball into a hoop.  I don’t care if getting this poetic about a sports game is pathetic. I’m going to enjoy this as much as I can.

 

They don’t make ’em like this anymore

•August 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Here’s a great article by Jim Holt about two of America’s most fascinating “national treasures,” Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. If you’re not familiar with these “celebrity intellectuals” and their longtime feud, give it a read. Chances are, you’ll be spending the late hours of the night browsing through YouTube, searching for more sound bytes from their many television appearances. This is their most famous:

Most people who know me wouldn’t be surprised to learn that most of my political sympathies align closer to those of Vidal. What almost nobody knows (except you lucky readers of my blog), is that I’m also a major fan of Buckley and his talk show “Firing Line,” which ran on PBS from 1966-1999. Of course, I disagree with him on almost every major political issue, but I can’t deny that his show is such a wonderful time capsule of American culture. How could you not like a show that featured guests like Allen Ginsberg, Otto Preminger, Groucho Marx, Hugh Hefner, Truman Capote, Mother Teresa and Margaret Thatcher? One of the benefits of my Amazon Prime subscription is that I have access to a number of archived episodes of this show for free.

Supreme Court on my mind …

•June 29, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Must admit I enjoyed all the political discourse yesterday after the decision to uphold Obamacare came down from the Supreme Court. Has anyone noticed that while critics originally coined the term “Obamacare” as a pejorative, the term is now used fondly by supporters. Anyway, I didn’t have to work yesterday so I soaked up all the commentary via cable news and the internet. There were some rather sentimental stories from supporters championing the virtues of the reform act. Then of course there some very angry responses from critics who had no qualms using fear to sell their opinions. Believe it or not there was also plenty of rational, intelligent debate — even on cable news.

Whatever the style of discussion, I couldn’t get enough of it yesterday. My favorite reaction was from the front page of the Drudge Report, which used a goofy photo of Chief Justice John Roberts along with the indelible headline “Take Your Medicine!” Roberts drew the ire of many conservatives for being the unlikely swing vote to side with the liberal wing of the court on the majority decision. Some even said he was “bullied” into his opinion — a theory that’s completely silly. No matter what your opinion is of Obamacare, Roberts showed major integrity (and balls) in going against the grain. Besides, his surprise ruling, based on reading the individual mandate as a tax, made the decision and the day of discourse that followed all the more entertaining for me.

Ha ha ha! Fooled you!

Rquired reading

•April 17, 2012 • 1 Comment

‘I would have done it again’: Anders Breivik claims his massacre was motivated by ‘goodness not evil’
This article sheds some light into the warped psyche of Anders Behring Breivik, the “far-right killer” who murdered 77 fellow Norwegians last year. Breivik asked to be acquitted, saying he acted in self defense by defending his country from multiculturalism. In his 65-minute statement to the court he makes several incendiary comments that are painful to read. For instance he compares the teenagers of the Norwegian Labor Party (the prime target of his attack) to Hitler Youth — apparently not recognizing that the Nazi party had policies of extreme nationalism, anti-multiculturalism and execution.  As with all extremists, whether they be far-left, far-right or some third way, Breivik blames the press for tainting the minds of millions across the world. So then, where does one go to escape the constant brainwashing of the media? Only the most popular information site on the web.

“And what,” asked the prosecutor, “was your main source of information?” Breivik’s answer was emphatic: “Wikipedia,” he said. “The English articles there contained a lot of information.”

1940 Census-mania!

•April 8, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The frenzy surrounding the release of 1940’s census data hit the nation like a bolt of lighting last week. Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but Archives.com, the website housing the newly-released data, was unable to cope with the initial flood of people searching their databases. As several news outlets reported, the site nearly froze as tens of millions of web surfers flocked to Archives.com to check out the information. The site got nearly 37 million hits just after the information was released on Monday.

For those unfamiliar with U.S. Census Bureau protocol, individual data regarding census takers is kept anonymous for 72 years. So, while the information gathered in the 2010 census has already been used for population records, the names and answers will be locked until 2082. Last week’s release of the 1940 research was the first digital release of census information.

As a former census taker, I was very interested in the release and thrilled at how accessible the information would be. When I checked the website, the first thing I noticed was the types of questions people were asked back in 1940.

“Questions asked in the 1940 census include name, age, relationship to the head of household, birthplace, and education, residence in 1935, employment status, and wages. Also about 5% of people were asked an additional set of questions, including parents’ birthplace, veteran status, occupation, and more.”

This was far more information than what was asked in 2010. I had difficultly getting people to tell me their name and residence. Asking people about their wages and education would have been unthinkable. I had my share of doors slammed in my face and people being rude to me (of course my job was basically to pester people who didn’t mail in their info the first time). Where people just as cynical and unfriendly back in 1940? If so, these enumerators probably had an even tougher time than I.

Anybody who knows me will attest that I abhor any invasion of privacy. I hate people asking me personal questions and I especially distrust giving away personal information. Simply put, I’m a private person. But I’ve never felt threatened by the census or American Community Survey. In fact I have always been fascinated by the research from an anthropological point of view, which led me to accept a census job two years ago.

With that said, one can hardly blame someone for being skeptical of the data collection. After all, it was the 1940 census that allegedly led to the most egregious breaks in its security. Following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. went to war with Japan. The federal government subsequently began a process of interning Japanese-American in “War Relocation Camps” — essentially American concentration camps — via an executive order from FDR. The U.S. government illegally used confidential census data to help find and detain Japanese-Americans.

Enough with the ads

•January 2, 2012 • 2 Comments

Say no to the patch


College football bowl games are quite plentiful. There’s a total of 35 bowls in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, aka the highest level of collegiate football. But the most annoying thing isn’t the number, or even the fact that there’s no playoff system and that we even need a bowl system. No, the thing that gets me is the names of these bowls.

Do a search for the FBS bowl schedule and you’ll get names such as GoDaddy.com Bowl, the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl and of course the ever-righteous Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

When did every bowl game turn in to giant advertisement? I know the commercialization helps bring precious money to lots of Universities, benefiting education in some cases. But it’s ironic that these are all amateur athletes, and the idea of paying these kids is repulsive to many (this is another debate all together).

Every year the corporate sponsors seem to get more intrusive into the bowl games. Even the championship is actually called the Allstate BCS Championship Game. I’m already dreading the inevitable onslaught of Allstate TV ads (well, at least they’re better than those State Farm commercials).

In theOutbackBowlMichiganStateandGeorgiaboth wore bright yellow patches on their uniforms that read “Outback” so everyone could see and remember to go get steaks after the game. That’s where we should draw the line. Please stop these “patches” before every team is being forced to wear advertisements on their uniforms.

Can’t get enough slot machines

•December 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Las Vegas is home to so many slot machines. Some of the themes are pretty outrageous. For some reason, I like the outdoors/wildlife/nature themed machines. I mean, I never actually play them. Slot machines aren’t fun and unlike video poker or keno there’s absolutely no rhyme or reason to winning. You simply hit a button and hope for the best. But even though I don’t play, I love to look. Here are a few I found that have a great outdoors theme. I imagine they make these to attract the freewheeling cowboy types who frequent the casinos. I don’t know if they work. There’s probably a huge marketing strategy for attracting the inner-gambler in all of us.

Nothing says jackpot like charging buffalo.


Everyone knows giant eagles are lucky.


Win, then howl at the moon.