Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Easy Explanation

Rashard Lewis never went to college. However, that didn't stop him from offering an accurate and simple explanation of why the NBA is stuck in a lockout:

“Talk to the owner. He gave me the deal,” Lewis said. “When it comes to contracts, the players aren’t sitting there negotiating that contract. I’m sitting at home and my agent calls me, saying, ‘I got a max on the table.’ I’m not going to sit there and say, ‘Naw, that’s too much. Go out there and negotiate $20 or $30 [million] less.’ ”
Maybe college is overrated.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Life Imitates Art

Isn't this the basic premise of Idiocracy?

Two new studies bring the contrasting reproductive profiles of rich and poor women into sharp relief. One, from the Guttmacher Institute, shows that the rates of unplanned pregnancies and births among poor women now dwarf the fertility rates of wealthier women, and finds that the gap between the two groups has widened significantly over the past five years. The other, by the Center for Work-Life Policy, documents rates of childlessness among corporate professional women that are higher than the childlessness rates of some European countries experiencing fertility crises.

Monday, September 26, 2011

More On The Intersection of Inequality and Sports

This time it regards the NBA lockout. The Grantland site continues to put up great pieces, and today the contribution is from Malcolm Gladwell.

One of the great forgotten facts about the United States is that not very long ago the wealthy weren't all that wealthy. Up until the 1960s, the gap between rich and poor in the United States was relatively narrow. In fact, in that era marginal tax rates in the highest income bracket were in excess of 90 percent. For every dollar you made above $250,000, you gave the government 90 cents. Today — with good reason — we regard tax rates that high as punitive and economically self-defeating. It is worth noting, though, that in the social and political commentary of the 1950s and 1960s there is scant evidence of wealthy people complaining about their situation. They paid their taxes and went about their business. Perhaps they saw the logic of the government's policy: There was a huge debt from World War II to be paid off, and interstates, public universities, and other public infrastructure projects to be built for the children of the baby boom. Or perhaps they were simply bashful. Wealth, after all, is as often the gift of good fortune as it is of design. For whatever reason, the wealthy of that era could have pushed for a world that more closely conformed to their self-interest and they chose not to. Today the wealthy have no such qualms. We have moved from a country of relative economic equality to a place where the gap between rich and poor is exceeded by only Singapore and Hong Kong. The rich have gone from being grateful for what they have to pushing for everything they can get. They have mastered the arts of whining and predation, without regard to logic or shame. In the end, this is the lesson of the NBA lockout. A man buys a basketball team as insurance on a real estate project, flips the franchise to a Russian billionaire when he wins the deal, and then — as both parties happily count their winnings — what lesson are we asked to draw? The players are greedy.
Read the whole article. It involves the sale of the Nets as insurance for an eminent domain property grab. And it is one more indication that not only is inequality a growing problem, but it is also a problem that is screwing up our sports.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

90s Style (Hornets Edition)

An article on Grantland claims that the #1 best thing about being a sports nut as a kid in the 90s was the Charlotte Hornets Starter jacket. I'm not sure about that, as I believe NBA Jam, Beckett Monthlies, and parkboard athletics all trump the Hornets jacket. However, I did happen to have an affinity for the Hornets, and I also happened to have some excellent Hornets gear. So then, here are my top 5 Charlotte Hornets related pieces of clothing from the 90s.

1. The striped grandpa jacket
This is the kind of jacket your grandpa always wore, but his was probably tan. It had elastic around the bottom, a traditional collar, and is stopped right about the belt line (often rising above the belt on account of the elastic). The difference in the Hornets version was that instead of a nice khaki or baby blue, this one was striped with the classic Hornets teal and purple. Had I walked onto the set of any 90s Batman movie or Bel Biv DeVoe video wearing this jacket, no one would ever have questioned me.

2. Converse Grandmama Shoes (Version 2)
Larry Johnson was my favorite Hornet. For two seasons, he was the man. Then he got injured. But those two seasons were enough for me covet a pair of LJ's signature Converse shoes. I believe they made only two editions, and I had both. The best version, however, was clearly the one pictured below. It featured classic 90s contemporary styling, Hornets teal, and that thing your strapped over the top to.... well I guess to keep your shoes tied? I have no idea. But they were awesome. Until they broke. And what did I do when faced with a pair of shoes that broke after a month? I took them back to B&B Athletics, and returned them for a brand new pair of the exact same shoes. Because if they weren't LJ, they weren't Grandmama.

3. XL LJ Jersey
It was LJ due to reasons described previously. It was extra-large because I obviously needed room to operate. My power game at the age of 14 simply couldn't be contained by the medium I actually needed. My favorite part of the LJ jersey buy, however, was that my two best buddies bought Magic Johnson and Larry Bird jerseys respectively, and I earnestly believed my jersey would be the one that we would all look back and determine was the most worth saving. In related news, adolescents don't have a lot of perspective.

4. Purple and Teal Hornets Hat
Hats were very popular with young teen boys in the 90s (maybe they still are). Little did we know that we were burying our hair for a large percentage of the only time in our life when we would have much. Hats were critical for two reasons. One, if you didn't have a hat to go with your jacket, shorts, and shoes, you didn't have an outfit. Two, 14-year-olds are short (unless they play on AAU teams). A purple and teal hat is pretty easy to spot in a crowd. A final note: any hat of the sort should have been worn as demonstrated in the following photo.

5. Charlotte Hornets Looney Tunes T-Shirt
I believe it was the summer between my freshman and sophomore year when I told my parents I wanted more Charlotte Hornets gear for my birthday. My dad told my mom not to worry about it, he knew just what to get me. As you can see from the previous four items on this list, my sense of fashion was not particularly enlightened. But even someone willing to dress up in all the aforementioned nonsense knew immediately upon opening that birthday present, "I will never wear this." That wasn't true, I did wear it. I knew how proud my dad was of figuring out what to get me, so I couldn't tell him to take it back. So I wore it from time to time making precise calculations on the number of strangers or girls I might encounter on a given day. 

After an acceptable period of time, Bugs and company went into the box with my Rickey Henderson cartoon shirt, my Winston Garland practice jersey, and the pair of shorts that had Patrick Ewing's face screen printed on them (no kidding). Unfortunately, I found some of those items recently and the Looney Tunes tee was nowhere to be found. I can only assume it is in some other undiscovered box with several other pieces of Hornets gear, and an LJ jersey that still wouldn't fit me.

When You've Made It

Dan sent me this. Thanks Dan.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Should the rich fear the Big 12?

The Big 12 conference is still a functioning BCS conference, but barely. At the moment, Baylor seems like the only thing kiboshing the full break-up by threatening to sue to keep the conference together. Since pending litigation isn't a very good way to keep friends, it looks like the Big 12 is just about tits up, but what's really to blame?

I'm sure there's a case to be made that the pending dissolution has a lot to do with ego or geography, but I think the root cause of this now 2-year mutiny is income inequality. If Texas hadn't been predictably Texan and tried to grab a bigger slice than anyone else, would they be talking about possibly moving to the ACC in 2012?

Is it too much to call the collapse of the Big 12 a microcosm of the American wealth gap? Is it going too far to propose that the Big 12 serves as an object lesson in the dangers of top heavy economic architecture, which has the potential to establish a tipping point towards populist backlash against the rich? Probably.

Speaking as a member of the lower classes (i.e., 99% of Americans who don't fill their swimming pools with diamonds), we prefer to focus our attention on mascot buffoonery and cheerleader boobery than to think about things like economics or parallels to La Grande Révolution, so I think the rich in America are safe. Now, if income inequality leads to a pornography shortage, then we have a problem.

We Are Getting Poorer

Matt Ygelsias pointed me toward this handy graph from USA Today, reminding us that most of us are, in fact, worse off than we were 10 years ago.

The Sporting Scene

In the midst of all the news about the Chiefs season being nearly over before it starts, the long-finished Royals season actually finishing, and all of our local colleges on the verge of being homeless, let's remember that we have a bright spot here in the metro - Sporting KC.

A great piece from the Star's full-90 blog helps explain why Sporting has been so successful this season. And it has video of 5 of Sporting's best goals of the year.

Also remember that to find great coverage of Sporting KC you can check out the aforementioned full-90 blog, and "down the byline," another great local blog.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Tea Party and Religion

I hear that the Tea Party is religious, then they aren't, then they are. Here are a few voices that suggest if they are, they need to rethink their religion.

The Land of Ineqaulity

Inequality continues to grow, and now corporate America is taking notice.

Manufacturers like Procter & Gamble, the household-goods giant responsible for everything from Charmin and Old Spice to Tide, are concentrating their efforts on luxury and bargain items, putting less emphasis on products aimed at the middle class, the Wall Street Journal reports.
What else does rising inequality bring? More poverty!

An additional 2.6 million people landed in poverty last year, bringing the total to 46.2 million -- the highest number since the government started tracking poverty in the 1950s.
For the record, our current inequality ranking is 72nd, nestled comfortably between Turkmenistan and Turkey. The last we were so unequal? Right before the Great Depression.

On a final note, I think I posted this chart last year, but it is worth looking at again. It shows inequality in America in reality and in the heads of Americans.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How You Become a Pro Wrestler

It's a long story how I ended up on Bruno Sammartino's Wikipedia page, but I'm glad I did. Most people's life story doesn't include this kind of paragraph:

While working in construction in 1956, Sammartino wrestled an orangutan at a carnival. After taking much punishment, Sammartino punched the orangutan in the stomach and was disqualified by the animal's owner. Sammartino left the cage with swollen eyes and shredded clothes. Because of the disqualification, the owner refused to pay Sammartino the $50 he was promised for the match.
I walk away with three questions.

1. Wouldn't life be more interesting if men still wrestled animals?
2. Is there anything the orangutan can do to get disqualified (other than eye rakes and hitting below the belt, of course)?
3. Is this really the day Bruno said "You know, this is what I should do for a living!"

Today's Depressing Chart

Friday, September 2, 2011

Getting Dangerous in Congress

I finally found this photo my friend Rusty took of the Star a few weeks ago. In this scenario who is Luke Skywalker? Who is Jabba the Hutt? Who is that unlucky Gamorean guard? All important questions.

Bank Accounts and Patriotism

If only the poor could just realize that they aren't really a part of America:

"Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn't about helping the poor," Vadum writes. "It's about helping the poor to help themselves to others' money. It's about raw so-called social justice. It's about moving America ever farther away from the small-government ideals of the Founding Fathers."

This is conservative columnist Matthew Vadum on the un-American nature of encouraging people to vote. They are getting bolder...

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