Thursday, June 12, 2014

Novel Giveaway: Precious Meddle by Chris DeBrie

Announcing a giveaway of Chris DeBrie's novella, "Precious Meddle." The first interested commenter to this post will win a signed copy.

Angel Lyman is a U.S. Marine with superhuman abilities and a troubled heart. Priya Blue is now boss over her late father's record label, adding to her already-stacked list of responsibilities and worries. Wolfe is an about-to-be-famous rap prodigy with no history in the industry and very little street credibility.... There is a collision on the horizon.

The winner will also receive "Selective Focus", the story that precedes "Precious Meddle".... Thanks and enjoy!
Ebook readers can download all DeBrie books at Smashwords. It's free....

Monday, May 12, 2014

Stamp Collection: Santa Claus and Elves

These stamps are from an envelope someone sent from Latvia to the U.S., around 1999. There are more stamps on the collection page.
For an illustrated look at Santa, go here.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

NBA Playoffs 2014: Miami Heat Can't Handle Duke Blue Devils

The Miami Heat keep getting facialized by former Duke University players late in the 2013-14 season. Did "King" James insult the Dookies publicly? Maybe Coach K, who knows the pros pretty well after his time with them during the Olympics, gave his old players some tips...
Josh McRoberts makes a poster out of Chris 'Birdman' Andersen.

Mason Plumlee stuffs LeBron James potential game-winner.

Monday, April 7, 2014

NCAA Tournament 2014: Kentucky v. Connecticut

No matter who won the national championship, it is great that coach John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats once again stood at the top of men's college basketball with transient young talent.

It is excellent that the delusional "college hoops is better than pro because it is pure" advocate was left foaming at the mouth, as experienced teams were beaten by kids who are barely old enough to vote.
"Put my money on UK-NBA feeder program to win," wrote one web commenter, "but, my heart and soul is with UCONN for student-athlete respect and integrity."
Obviously, that sports fan did not read, or ignored, the fact that the University of Connecticut just came off probation! Even if we argue that those violations had little to do with this year's players... it does show that the perception of the "integrity" of college athletics is an illusion that needs to be shattered. But people continue to cling.
The real issue here is that the NBA is simply better basketball than college ball. That infuriates the college fan who clings to the false idea of amateur athletics at our higher learning institutions.

If you really believe college sports are pure, then the approaching unionization should splash a little cold water in your face.
The argument of keeping players in school longer has almost nothing to do with giving young men the mythical "university experience." That is a fat softball of a lie which should be smacked out of the park. But people who know better don't stand up and say so in public, maybe for fear of looking like they don't support education.
Stopping one-and-dones also has little connection to the quality of the college game. If that were true, then the talented freshmen who only stay one year in school would not keep beating the three- and four-year players! This is not difficult to figure out. Elite talent wins. The fiction of lesser players who are a tight-knit group beating the top shelf talent needs to be exposed, as it doesn't happen very often. Hoosiers was a Hollywood concoction; in real life, if you are simply better than me, at some point it won't matter how savvy I am... you will dominate nine times out of ten. Yea, life isn't fair.
The real reason that the NBA and NCAA will collaborate to keep basketball players in school, or to figure some other way to delay their professional paydays, is because the college game is weak. Most "experts" (which these days is defined as someone, knowledgable or not, who has access to large audiences and talks a whole lot), agree that the NCAA is watered down.
The goal is to augment the college game by forcing top talent into universities, which will do at least two things: (1) Pump up the NCAA's visibility with better players, as every casual fan knows to ignore these intramural-style games until late February, and (2) Stick a finger in the eye of the NBA, a league that has a combination of money and glamour that college just can't match.
There is one other issue that, so far, no one wants to touch in major media: That all these black young "thugs" enter the pro draft and get paid millions simply galls a lot of people. As we have mentioned before, there is no outcry when any other sport's athletes go pro as young adults (with the obvious exception of football).
"The college experience is so beneficial." Not necessarily. The high school grad who can't afford, or doesn't have the academic performance to attend college, will interact with a world's variety of people by working the cash register at a Popeye's Chicken. That's a chance to mix with different people and learn a lot about diverse personalities, too. It's a forced argument when we all know that the talented ball player is usually not there for classes, at least not primarily. Making education a priority begins from the ground up... not when a person is already 18 and has devoted hours per week to developing his crossover dribble.
"Well, these guys don't know the fundamentals." Then why wait until college to teach them? Why not when they are small boys, before the AAU stardom march begins? If the fundamentals are lacking, AAU and high school is too late. This is why the "basics of the game" argument is simply another lie.
Until the one-and-dones are outlawed, hopefully 17- and 18-year-old phenoms will contend for the college title every season.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Only Thing: Jim Harbaugh's Success All That Matters

Bleacher Report wrote in 2012,

The point at which the world of professional sports diverges from the reality you and I know is how much a team is willing to tolerate if a player can help them win. There are countless examples of players whose bad behavior is overlooked as long as they produce. Once the points start to decline; when the 40 time starts to tick up...that's when bad behavior shifts from "disappointing" to "unacceptable."

So... as long as someone is contributing to your winning ways, you keep him. While he has the talent to help your organization, his personality and approach should not be criticized.

According to popular media and the fans who cannot think for themselves, this is the conclusion when it comes to San Francisco 49er head coach Jim Harbaugh.

But if you are going to say that about Harbaugh... if you want to say winning isn't everything, it's the only thing... then say it for athletes who do dumb, even criminal things.

Yea, an also-ran player who can't get it done on the court or field -- get rid of him, when he runs up against the law or is even just shown to have a bad attitude, isn't that right? However, an athlete who can go into beast mode should be "acceptable," no matter what.

Say it's all about winning instead of being furious at Ray Lewis for ten years after his blood-soaked night. Say that about Michael Vick and his dogs, instead of being angry that the NFL allowed him another chance... or about any number of troubled athletes with elite talent.
"But Harbaugh hasn't done anything to break a law or be moronic," you might say, "he is just hard to get along with. That's not really a problem."
Then why are Terrell Owens and Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson so despised? Why do NBA fans have such a love-hate relationship with the do-it-my-way Allen Iverson?
"Those guys didn't help their teams win."

Really? Their on-the-field numbers were pretty amazing. Whether you think they were too individualistic in play or personal behavior is simply your opinion.

"Yea, but... they blew up locker rooms, they were not 'team guys', they were distractions."
So Harbaugh's Chucky, Junior act isn't a distraction? So the reports that the coach "wears people out" and seems to not care about the defensive half of his team is team-friendly? Why would the Niner organization allow all of these negative stories to leak out about him if there wasn't fire beneath the smoke?

"Coach Harbaugh wins everywhere he goes and wins immediately. The University of San Diego won conference titles under his leadership. Stanford went from being dogs to humiliating Pete Carroll's USC Trojans at USC. And now Harbaugh has brought the Niners to the brink of three consecutive Super Bowls! He was one play away from winning one of them!"

And to do that, he has shown himself to be someone who is divisive and nearly impossible to get along with.

"Come on, man. Use wisdom. All successful men are tortured by the need to dominate. All powerful people are Type A personalities.  You deal with that to get what you want."

Okay, but who draws that line of what to accept, and how much?

This is not picking on Jim Harbaugh. If the everyday person's words, actions and attitudes were picked apart the way sports celebrities get dissected, few would escape unscathed. It is meant to poke at us, sports fans who have these weird standards that are just indefensible.

The bottom line is: We are in a culture where anything can be justified if we like the person. Right now, Harbaugh still is liked by most media talking heads and football fanatics. He is a "winner," and until that perception shifts (likely because of the same press that now deifies his coaching success), the answer we will hear is, Keep him and dump anyone in his way.