Bloodlust redux

Two Bee or Not Two Bee

Two Bee or Not Two Bee

It was refreshing to see the Scripps National Spelling Bee receive so much attention this week.  Between that and Roland Garros, will have watched more ESPN in two weeks than the rest of the year.

Something else didn’t happen this week.  After leading the network news broadcasts, a report that more than 500 former NFL players were suing the league for promoting a drug culture all but disappeared.  I should have been surprised that even made news for a day; anyone would have to be willfully blind not to have realized that is going on.  It was interesting to note that day neither CNN (CNN-SI) nor FOX News (I believe Fox has some sort of affiliation with pro football?) featured the item on their web pages.

Perhaps this, combined with the concussion settlement and whatever comes next, will at least force reconsideration of  priorities.  Probably  not.


Brackets and Bloodlust

High-QWhile the NCAA’s March Madness tournament played out, a more significant battle was taking place.  A federal labor official ruled that college athletes are, in fact, employees of the school.  Perhaps they’re the most grossly underpaid on staff.   This comes as no surprise, having grown up in south Georgia, where even at the high school level sports are serious business.  It isn’t unusual to see a star player (from a family of modest means) somehow driving a new convertible his junior or senior year.

The defense that scholarships compensate doesn’t hold weight today.  It isn’t exactly fair barter.  At the very least we can treat athletes with humanity, not gladiators risking their lives for blood-thirsty masses, ultimately to maintain order and bolster politicians.  Our spectacle of American football hearkens back to those ancient games.  It hasn’t evolved all that much.

Were priorities not backward we’d pay more attention to science fairs, spelling bees and local quiz bowl tournaments.  Buffet’s billion would be awarded to those bracket winners across the nation. My favorite of these is “High-Q,” which exists in slightly varied formats across the states.  I tend to root for public schools vs. private, the smallest or whichever team has the most minorities.  I’ll double down for a mixed race team with females from a small town public school.


singularityToo much, too late.  Since Eric Snowden there has been an escalating awareness of privacy.  The attention arrives too late,  in the sense that any damage been done.   The time to worry was in past decades, as information was beginning to be collected.  Then we only had storage capacity to save  important things. Beyond that the resulting chaos deems the concern moot.

At this stage, if the scope of information being gathered is accurate, we have exceeded the limit for an individual or organization to absorb.  In addition to what another might be interested in, like criminal past or employment history, we now have favorite foods, television, hobbies and interests.  Could that matter to an employer or even a significant other?  I don’t necessarily want to know what my favorite celebrity has for breakfast, but there’s the possibility he/she might tweet it.  That will then be archived for generations to ignore.  Orwell’s “1984” may have arrived, only we are volunteers and Big Brother is bored to tears.

My view relates to the idea singularity, in which human and machine evolution intersect.  Just as no one really notices what another is doing in a public place, no one will care more because that activity is digitally archived.   However, just as I might be interested in reading an ancestor’s century old diary, perhaps a descendant will read my blog and marvel at how far we’ll have advanced since.

Wagon Training

  • 00:49:14 Wagon Train is a reaIIy cooI show…
  • wt300:49:17 …but did you ever notice that they never get anywhere?
  • 00:49:20 They just keep wagon training.

… memorable lines from the film “Stand By Me.”  There seems a new generation of television following a familiar pattern with a twist.  “The Walking Dead”, “Revolution” and “The Following” are among those with a unique premise but, beyond that, season after season have little fresh to offer.  Once the novelty wears it is simply variations redux.  It is a phenomenon dating back to “Gilligan’s Island” in my lifetime; of course “Wagon Train” and  others existed before.  The hook today is better effects and shock value from blood and gore.

It may be a problem inherent to the medium, however a precious few have managed to stay fresh year after year.  Generally this can be attributed to outstanding writing (i.e. “The Simpsons”) and/or acting (“Law and Order”).  The best are aware enough to recognize when they’ve told their story, said all that is needed and bow out gracefully (“Breaking Bad”).  In other instances  longevity is inexplicable (“NCIS.”)  There are then occasions where network executives pull the plug prematurely (“My so-called Life”)

Occasionally the networks get it right and cancellation arrives right on time.  I write this reluctantly wrapping up 5 seasons of “Fringe.”  What began as seemingly a reincarnation of “The X-files” managed to reinvent itself each year.  A premise of alternate universes permitted the actors to experiment.  As entertaining as the science themed plots was the versatility of actors portraying different versions of themselves.  Sadly, all good things must and should end.

“A candle that burns twice as bright only lasts half as long.”
– Peter (Joshua Jackson) quoting Walter (John Noble) in “Fringe.”

Ready, Set, Duck

astridResearching too far into an article about an asteroid passing closer than the moon today was disconcerting. The news piece included a link to a NASA site tracking upcoming near earth objects (NEOs).  After figuring out the measurements was certain I was misinterpreting the data.  It projected another, smaller but closer asteroid passing us (earth) tomorrow.  This one had escaped detection until just yesterday and not yet made headlines.

Not to worry, digging deeper. This asteroid may be the same size as one that did considerable damage to Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, but will assuredly still miss earth.  I should have stopped there, before curiosity revealed Chelyabinsk had not been predicted at all.  In fact, a rock that size could surprise us at any time.   NASA has the technology to detect the smaller ones, but is underfunded.  Not that we could prepare anyway.

Now returning to Fringe binge,  only watching beneath the covers.

No Easy Answers

Apologies to anyone following for TV related content.  I truly have “too much spare time…” 

I regretted finishing the book “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America” as it presented realities and subtly raised questions without promoting a personal or political agenda.  It did reinforce my observation that Wall Street’s “too big to fail” implied “out of control.”  A related essay encountered recently was “Anatomy of the Deep State“, which doesn’t claim a great conspiracy, but rather the gradual power escalation of Wall Street, Silicon Valley, the White House and the military.  Fun stuff.

Universe 101Especially attractive from the essay is the term “groupthink“, describing a culture where many believe they’re independent thinkers when in fact its more Orwellian.  The author suggests that moguls masquerading as libertarians are the biggest hypocrites.   I hope I won’t be targeted as a dissident for having read “The Communist Manfiesto” as a teenager, but appreciated it not for the haunting spectre it suggests, but for its outline on a history of class inequality.  So what should be the proper label for beyond-the-box ponderers?  I like Robert Heinlein’s simple “not-stupids.”

Another deep to which my mind has gone lately (beyond the obvious deep end) is space.  With the internet’s infinite resources have been exploring string theory, dark matter and dark energy and the like.  Theories we almost know (remember Heisenberg) but can’t prove or fully understand.  It is more comforting than scary knowing as much as any expert.  Easy answers aren’t appealing.  Self-righteousness is appalling.

Now back to the next episode of “Fringe…”

State of Denial

State of Denial

While the premature, cautionary muscle flexing the past two days has been amusing, hopefully the south is prepared for the very real emergency manifesting.

January 29th, 2014, the Governor of the State of Georgia,  with city and school officials alike, ignored early warning from the National Weather Service with disastrous consequences.  After the event it took days to at least admit any response could have been better.  Two weeks later, with another dangerous weather system on the horizon and eager to demonstrate a lesson learned, Atlanta battened down as if General Sherman were arriving at an unknown hour.  A full 36 hours in advance of bad weather, February 10th, 2014, school and work was cancelled far too early.

Presumably this was a preemptive move,  not to be caught by surprise again.  Only no one had ever been caught by surprise.  Then it cost an extra day cleaning up the mess of cars strung along the interstate in the aftermath.  This time Georgia stubbornly shut down the unnecessary day in advance.  This evening officials are on the news congratulating themselves for a job well done.  Of course, no ice or snow or even freezing temps have yet transpired,  nor  is it due for another 12 hours.  It is still too soon to treat roads.  It’s maddening.  What should I  expect from a state that still electing  from good ‘ole boy networks, where candidates running on a platform of creationism are taken seriously.

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