I went a little berserk on the twitter last night. I watched a few games back to back on NFL Rewind, and just started tweeting. I think it beats my marathon Basketball Wives tweeting sessions. Anyway, a few things:
1.) I got to see Cam Newton's 422-yard performance against the Cardinals. It should be said that the Cardinals didn't look very good on defense. But it should also be said, that they really seemed to be coming after Newton. I thought he handled the rush about as well as I've ever seen a rookie QB in his debut game. Check out Chris Brown's mock-up of Newton's first NFL touchdown--a 77-yard bomb.
2.) I know the notion of playing under pressure has been basically debunked. But watching Tony Romo's performance, and comparing it to his numbers, will make you suspicious. All interceptions and fumbles are killers, but some are just genocidal. I have no idea why Romo was running with the ball like a loaf of bread near the goal line, or what made him say, "Hey my number one receiver is hurt, I think this is a good time to test the best cornerback in the league."
With that said, I suspect the desire to take chances cuts both ways. I'm sure Romo could play smarter at the end of football games. But I wounder if the same urge to try for the touchdown, isn't the same urge that makes him a good quarterback. That touchdown to Miles Austin, really could have been picked off.
Finally, I'd love to see a statistical breakdown of QBs in the fourth quarter. The vague sense that Romo isn't a "clutch players" needs to be measured against some math.
3.) I got to chatting last night on the twitter last night with a dude who can't watch the games on Sunday because his RPG group plays at the same time. This was shocking. I really thought I was the only person in the world who generally believed "Against The Giants" to be a really cool double entendre.
It got me to wondering why nerds tend toward baseball, instead of football. I don't know if the brawny, muscle-headed rep of the game scares away geeks, but football always struck me as a game for intellectuals--chess with concussions as someone said on twitter, or RTS with actual people.
I was nerd almost as a matter of biology. But given where I grew up, I never thought of myself as such until much later. I wasn't stuffed into my locker (that was rather dangerous in 1989) and was generally pretty well liked. I never really felt socially banished. So I lack the standard nerd-narrative of pariah status.
You just had to love Ronnie Lott in West Baltimore. There wasn't much choice. The way we played the game, was the way we wanted to live You had to know what it meant for Doug Williams to ether John Elway. It was like hip-hop--a hood lingua franca.
4.) Here are some thoughts from Detroit on the NFL's worst owner:
Well, the Fontes/Ross era combined for six playoff appearances in nine seasons; the Lions made the playoffs eight times in 58 seasons prior to Fontes' arrival (well, Barry's arrival). The Lions went 9-7 in 2000, missing the playoffs thanks to Paul Edinger's game-winning FG in week 17.
As a result, Ford hired a broadcaster with no previous front office experience, watched him tear down a veteran team and replace it with a 2-14 version ... despite four consecutive seasons during which the Lions never approached that 9-7 mark, Ford rewarded Millen with a contract extension. At that point, Millen had led the Lions to a 16-48 record, tied for the 12th-worst four-season stretch since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978, and yet Ford made him reportedly the second-highest-paid general manager in the league. (I didn't even know that before. RAEG.)
At the end of his tenure, the Lions were 31-97 over that eight-season stretch (giving Millen the blame for all of 2008), ninth-worst in NFL history. The two franchises who managed worse streaks were the Cardinals, various periods from 1936 to 1945, and the Eagles, various periods from 1933 to 1943. (They each had four streaks that overlapped.) In essence, Millen took an average team and made it a WWII-era bottom-feeder. And the event that led to all this was arguably B. Sanders choosing to quit rather than to put up with another year of the lunacy that is football in Detroit.
That event is probably on par with a hypothetical ousting of Parcells, especially given what Parcells managed in Miami and what Barry contributed to in Detroit. (Five of the Lions' 10 modern playoff appearances came during Barry's career.) Ford has owned the team for 51 years. In the 50 seasons under his watch, the Lions have won 10 games or more 5 times. They've won exactly 1 playoff game. Snyder matched that total in his first year as owner (they beat the Lions, in fact, in 1999), and his Redskins have won 10 games twice in 11 seasons.
I can certainly understand the frustration that Redskins fans must feel, watching a storied franchise slowly being driven into the ditch by Voldemort, but trust me, Snyder has a long, long way to go to be the worst in the league. The fact that he's openly dumb just makes his stupidity more obvious; Ford's ability to hide in the shadows doesn't make his any less important. (We could throw in Mike Brown and Bill Bidwill for good measure; I'm not entirely convinced that Bidwill even realizes his Cardinals nearly won the Super Bowl once. If Snyder wants to lead the NFL in incompetence, he'd better be prepared for a long battle ... there are masters at work before him.)
I'd insert some word about Jerry Jones here, but I don't think I'm qualified anymore. More on that later.
5.) Another endorsement for NFL Rewind which is offering a free trial through September 19. The game really looks spectacular. Watching Newton yesterday got me thinking a lot about story-telling. I knew he lost the game, and yet on that final drive my blood was still up. It was as though I expected him to defy space-time.
It's very similar to story-telling in that way. How can we know that D'Angelo is a dead man and root for him anyway? Know what happens at the end is good. Knowing how it happened is so much better.
6.) I bought a glass bodum tea pot. I make mint tea every morning and every night. I think I'm in love.
New research confirms what they say about nice guys.
Smile at the customer. Bake cookies for your colleagues. Sing your subordinates’ praises. Share credit. Listen. Empathize. Don’t drive the last dollar out of a deal. Leave the last doughnut for someone else.
Sneer at the customer. Keep your colleagues on edge. Claim credit. Speak first. Put your feet on the table. Withhold approval. Instill fear. Interrupt. Ask for more. And by all means, take that last doughnut. You deserve it.
Follow one of those paths, the success literature tells us, and you’ll go far. Follow the other, and you’ll die powerless and broke. The only question is, which is which?
Of all the issues that preoccupy the modern mind—Nature or nurture? Is there life in outer space? Why can’t America field a decent soccer team?—it’s hard to think of one that has attracted so much water-cooler philosophizing yet so little scientific inquiry. Does it pay to be nice? Or is there an advantage to being a jerk?
Changing neighborhoods may be a class issue, but in America, that means it's also a racial one.
Ask city-dwellers to describe what, precisely, gentrification is you’ll get an array of answers. The term is a murky one, used to describe the many different ways through which money and development enter poorer or less developed neighborhoods, changing them both economically and demographically.
For some, gentrification and gentrifiers are inherently bad—pushing out residents who are often older, poorer, and darker than the neighborhood’s new occupants. For others, a new group of inhabitants brings the possibility of things residents have long hoped for, better grocery stores, new retail, renovations, and an overall revitalization that often eludes low-income neighborhoods.
Some fans are complaining that Zack Snyder’s envisioning of the Man of Steel is too grim—but it’s less a departure than a return to the superhero’s roots.
Since the official teaser trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice debuted online in April, fans and critics alike have been discussing the kind of Superman Zack Snyder is going to depict in his Man of Steel sequel. The controversy stems from Snyder’s decision to cast Superman as a brooding, Dark Knight-like character, who cares more about beating up bad guys than saving people. The casting split has proved divisive among Superman fans: Some love the new incarnation, citing him as an edgier, more realistic version of the character.
But Snyder’s is a different Superman than the one fans grew up with, and many have no problem expressing their outrage over it. Even Mark Waid, the author of Superman: Birthright (one of the comics the original film is based on), voiced his concern about Man of Steel’s turn toward bleakness when it came out in 2013:
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
Rebel groups that employ terror in civil wars seldom win or gain concessions—but they tend to prolong conflicts, a new paper finds.
Nearly 14 years into the war on terror, there are signs of terrorism all around us, from Memorial Day tributes to the victims of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the raging congressional debate over reauthorizing the Patriot Act.
Yet some of the most basic information about terrorism remains surprisingly elusive. For example: Does it work?
There have been some attempts at answering the question, but many of them are either largely anecdotal or geographically constrained. Other studies have focused on international terror. But as political scientist Page Fortna of Columbia University notes, the vast majority of terrorism isn’t transnational—it’s localized, utilized in the context of civil wars and fights for territorial control. Many of the intractable conflicts the U.S. is involved in today fit this definition: the fighting between ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other groups in Iraq and Syria; the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria; al-Shabab’s terrorism in Somalia and Kenya; Yemen’s civil war; the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Is terrorism an effective tool when used in those conflicts?
In an interview, the U.S. president ties his legacy to a pact with Tehran, argues ISIS is not winning, warns Saudi Arabia not to pursue a nuclear-weapons program, and anguishes about Israel.
On Tuesday afternoon, as President Obama was bringing an occasionally contentious but often illuminating hour-long conversation about the Middle East to an end, I brought up a persistent worry. “A majority of American Jews want to support the Iran deal,” I said, “but a lot of people are anxiety-ridden about this, as am I.” Like many Jews—and also, by the way, many non-Jews—I believe that it is prudent to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of anti-Semitic regimes. Obama, who earlier in the discussion had explicitly labeled the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an anti-Semite, responded with an argument I had not heard him make before.
“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” he said, referring to the apparently almost-finished nuclear agreement between Iran and a group of world powers led by the United States. “I think it’s fair to say that in addition to our profound national-security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down.”
The former secretary of state jettisons sweeping rhetoric, and focuses on specific policies.
Hillary Clinton has been an official candidate for president for five weeks, and she still hasn’t done the thing most candidates do on day one: given a speech laying out her vision for America. Nor is she planning on doing so anytime soon. Politicoreports that Hillary’s “why I’m running for president,” speech, initially scheduled for May, has now been delayed until June, or even later.
There’s a reason for that: The speech is unlikely to be very good. Soaring rhetoric and grand themes have never been Hillary’s strengths. That’s one reason so many liberals found her so much less inspirational than Barack Obama in 2008. And it’s a problem with deep roots. In his biography, A Woman in Charge, Carl Bernstein describes Hillary, then in law school, struggling to articulate her generation’s perspective in an address to the League of Women Voters. “If she was speaking about a clearly defined subject,” Bernstein writes, “her thoughts would be well organized, finely articulated, and delivered in almost perfect outline form. But before the League audience, she again and again lapsed into sweeping abstractions.”
Advocates say that a guaranteed basic income can lead to more creative, fulfilling work. The question is how to fund it.
Scott Santens has been thinking a lot about fish lately. Specifically, he’s been reflecting on the aphorism, “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for life.” What Santens wants to know is this: “If you build a robot to fish, do all men starve, or do all men eat?”
Santens is 37 years old, and he’s a leader in the basic income movement—a worldwide network of thousands of advocates (26,000 on Reddit alone) who believe that governments should provide every citizen with a monthly stipend big enough to cover life’s basic necessities. The idea of a basic income has been around for decades, and it once drew support from leaders as different as Martin Luther King Jr. and Richard Nixon. But rather than waiting for governments to act, Santens has started crowdfunding his own basic income of $1,000 per month. He’s nearly halfway to his his goal.
19 Kids and Counting built its reputation on preaching family values, but the mass-media platforms that made the family famous might also be their undoing.
On Thursday, news broke that Josh Duggar, the oldest son of the Duggar family's 19 children, had, as a teenager, allegedly molested five underage girls. Four of them, allegedly, were his sisters.
The information came to light because, in 2006—two years before 17 Kids and Counting first aired on TLC, and thus two years before the Duggars became reality-TV celebrities—the family recorded an appearance on TheOprah Winfrey Show. Before the taping, an anonymous source sent an email to Harpo warning the production company Josh’s alleged molestation. Harpo forwarded the email to authorities, triggering a police investigation (the Oprah appearance never aired). The news was reported this week by In Touch Weekly—after the magazine filed a Freedom of Information Act request to see the police report on the case—and then confirmed by the Duggars in a statement posted on Facebook.