The ball could drop either way

I rarely watch the NBA, but after finishing watching the US beat Honduras in a World Cup Qualifier, I thought I’d check out the remainder of Game 6 of the NBA finals.  Wow– that was awesome.  Really glad I did.  That said, what I really love is this column by Slate’s Josh Levin that takes on so many of the tropes of sports journalism.  Great stuff with which I agree emphatically:

While Game 6 affirmed my faith in sports, the subsequent press conferences and roundtables, packed as they were with superficial dishonesty, brought me right back down. “It may be shallow, it may be narrow-minded and it may be unfair. But it is also reality and there’s little use talking around it,” wrote’s Brian Windhorst before the Heat’s overtime win. “The next three days will define these three years for the Miami Heat.”

Windhorst is right—it is shallow, narrow-minded, and unfair. If Kawhi Leonard makes both of his free throws with 19 seconds to go or Ray Allen’s shot doesn’t go down, then the Spurs are working through their 500th bottle of Veuve Clicquot right about now. There would be stories written about Tim Duncan’s throwback 30-point, 17-rebound performance, Tony Parker’s amazing pair of shots late in the fourth quarter, and Gregg Popovich’s standout on-court leadership. Duncan is the greatest player of his generation. Parker is the best point guard in basketball. Pop is on the Mount Rushmore of NBA coaches. And LeBron James and the Heat are huge stinking losers.

How does one missed free throw—a shot that hovered over the rim, spun around, and fell out—change any of that? It doesn’t make the Spurs any worse or the Heat any better, but everyone on TV is obligated to pretend otherwise.  [emphasis mine]  Now, we have to listen to ESPN’s Michael Wilbon and Magic Johnson talk about San Antonio choking the game away, which is about the least intellectually sophisticated thing a sentient being could say after watching the Spurs and Heat fight each other desperately on every possession…

After a great game, we too often conflate what’s debatable with what’s worth debating. We can argue about Popovich’s substitutions and the refs and how to tote all this up on LeBron’s career ledger. But we shouldn’t let it drown out everything that went right, for both the winners and the losers…

Yep.  I suppose there’s an official psychological bias for this I should be thinking of because it certainly extends beyond sports, but it is definitely hugely problematic in how we report and interpret sporting events.

Social awkardness

I loved this Buzzfeed piece on “9 awkward social situations we need rules for.”   So true.  For example:

5. The long hello.

The long hello.

You spot someone you know on the street — fantastic! You actually really like this person! And exchange a wave, setting up a stop and chat. Problem is, they’re still 100 yards away, so now you have to spend a good minute walking directly toward them. Where do you look? What do you do with your face? Are you supposed to smile at them THE ENTIRE TIME? Nightmare.

THE RULE: Heads down after the initial wave, with a follow-up nod every 10 meters until you arrive.

Definitely experienced that one.  But the next example is one I’ve spent far too much time thinking about:

3. The hug, kiss, or shake?

The hug, kiss, or shake?

At the workplace, it’s simple: shake, nod, smile. Congratulations: You’re introduced. But in other cases, it starts to get awkward. A handshakes seems a bit formal and a hug seems like a bit much. Cheek kiss? OK — but how many? If you go for one, she goes for two, and you accidentally leave her nuzzling air, you’ll have no choice but to kill yourself, spoiling the very social gathering you’re there for in the first place.

THE RULE: Let’s settle this once and for all: right-handed shake, left-arm shoulder pat, and a single left-cheek kiss. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Of course, with other men, this is easy.  Can’t go wrong with a shake.  And some guys get the other hand on the upper arm or shoulder.  But this can be really hard with women (that I am resaonably close to)  in a social environment where a handshake definitely seems too formal and a hug seems to close/intimate.  The end result is often no physical contact at all, which seems wrong.  If it is a male friend on a similar level, it’s almost always just a hearty handshake.  No kisses on the cheek from me, though.

Rant of the day

Okay, I’m pretty sure the offending FB friends in question do not read my blog, and I really need to get this off my chest.

1) Please stop calling your wife of many years “my bride.”  It’s not cute.  It’s just affected and annoying.  Okay, harmless enough.

2) This one really bugs me, though… you don’t graduate from kindergarten!  You finish it and move onto first grade.  You no more graduate from Kindergarten than you do from 2nd grade.  It does not merit a cap and gown nor teary-eyed parents.  I would strenuously argue that you graduate from high school and a college/university.  That’s it.  When we have all these pre-school, elementary, middle school graduations, we cheapen what graduation is.  While most everybody in the socio-economic class of the readers of this blog will graduate from high school, it is not voluntary– it is an accomplishment and a choice.  Doubly-so for college.  Graduation from high school also represents a very important symbolic step into adulthood.  These things deserve to be celebrated and publicly recognized.  Putting on a cap and gown because you’ve finished West Suburban Middle School is absurd.  Have some form of celebration and appreciation that you’ve finished a particular school and are leaving it behind, but it is not a graduation.

Okay, I feel better now.

Photo of the day

Interesting In Focus set from riots in Turkey.  I was about to go to my old standby of a gas mask photo (just cannot resist those), but was just really caught by this photo of riot police– because this is not what one typically thinks of when thinking of riot police (and I don’t think that makes me sexist):

Riot police move into position around the Prime Minister’s office in Ankara, on June 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
Alright, I actually cannot resist the gas mask photo and my own cute caption– the couple that wears gas masks together, stays together:

A couple wearing gas masks walk in a street between Taksim and Besiktas in Istanbul, Turkey, on June 4, 2013 during an anti-government demonstration. What started as an outcry against a local development project has snowballed into widespread anger against what critics say is the government’s increasingly conservative and authoritarian agenda. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Things have changed

Big news here earlier this week as former governor from the 1970’s, James Holhouser died.  I never knew much about him except that there’s a Holhouser building on the State Fairgrounds.  So, I learned a lot– quite a man, apparently.  Anyway, I found his greatest legislative accomplishments most interesting.  He was most notable for being a “champion of education, the environment and health care:”

He supported creating a statewide kindergarten system. He backed the Coastal Management Act, regarded as national landmark environmental legislation to protect the state’s fragile seacoast. Holshouser helped start the rural health center program to provide more medical care in the countryside. He oversaw a major expansion of the state park system. He appointed several blacks and women to high-visibility posts in state government. And he supported creating black-oriented enterprises such as Soul City, the new town project started in Warren County by former civil rights leader Floyd McKissick.

So, what’s so interesting about all that, you ask?  He was a Republican.  No go ahead again and tell me how the Republican party has not actually moved very much to the right.

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