Monday, April 27, 2015

Another Reason to Weep for our Future

Last night, ESPN2--which purports itself to be a "sports" network--presented live coverage of college students playing video games.  Deemed "Heroes of the Dorm", the broadcast featured teams from Cal-Berkeley and Arizona State battling in some kind of role-playing game called Heroes of the Storm for an actual "National Championship".  It even featured a play-by-play man and a color commentator to "break down" the action.  Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the future of "sports" in America.

 It is now just a matter of time before all of the "live" events that we have come to know and love as fans will be replaced by "digital experiences".  Why risk concussions and other injuries on the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field when tiny pixelated men of Madden NFL 2025 can collided over and over again on a TV monitor and never "actually" get hurt.  (Sidenote: I have suggested having the Pro Bowl played on Madden since none of the "real" players put any effort into the contest--but this is an exhibition game.)  No more " genetic advantage"  for those blessed with above average height, weight, speed, strength, motor skills, dexterity, reaction times or spatial recognition.  All the "superstars" of tomorrow will need is quick thumbs and fast processers.

Overbearing sports parents are probably already drilling their kids to spend 12-hours a day playing Heroes of the Storm, to perfect their fire bomb aiming or spell casting or shape-shifting to be on the next "National Championship" contest on ESPN.  "But, Dad, I want to play outside!" "You will sit in front of that computer until you get better at arrow up, B button, rapid fire, X cross control or you will never see the outside of this house again!"  I can't wait for the first story about the video hockey Dad that takes his anger at his son's poor performance out on a Playstation 15--berating it for the entire game and then taking it out in the parking lot to destroy in front of all the other video hockey parents.

And think of all the "sports" records that will likely fall in our children's lifetimes.  Gnarls Barkley--created by some 12-year old gamer with the screen name "PlayaHayta"--will eclipse Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time NBA scoring record in just three weeks of continuous "season mode" play of NBA 2K40.  Hank Aaron's legitimate home run mark will be bested in a month by "Shaq Wilson" as 36-year old "GrateLuvah" dominates MLB the Show while playing in his mother's basement.  And the Augusta National scoring record of 63 will be demolished by "Shooter McGavin" who will make an amazing four holes in one and three double eagles in the final round of "The Masters of Video Golf" brought to you with limited commercial interruption by EA Sports on CBS--a tradition like no other.

Like the dinosaurs that once ruled the earth, the era of the "real athlete" is coming to an end.  But instead of a big, fat asteroid crashing into the earth to bring their demise, it will be big, fat nerd sitting on their couches.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Soul of the Game

How much should a sport change in order to attract new audiences?  I ask this after watching Chris Rock talk about why African-Americans have turned their backs on baseball in this month's episode of HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel:


I've broached this subject in the past--when much was being made about Mo'ne Davis being the first African-American girl to pitch in the Little League World Series--and in the success of the Jackie Robinson West team out of Chicago that won the US Championship (only to have that title stripped when it was discovered that the team had recruited players from other leagues outside of its district and the Championship was awarded to an all-white Las Vegas team amid charges of racism.)  But that was about efforts baseball makes to bring the game to inner city minorities.  What Chris Rock is talking about is turning baseball into a Hip Hop sideshow--where the game itself is of secondary importance.

If you've tuned into an NBA game recently you may have noticed the almost-constant stream of music, beats, high energy dancers, flashing lights and public address announcers yelling at the top of their lungs.  The Bucks took ten minutes to introduce their starting lineups last night--amid a video presentation and pyrotechnics on the floor.  It was like the game was a letdown after that much hype in the pre-game.  There are 162 regular season games in baseball.  Do you expect people to get that excited every day for six months?

And isn't Chris Rock making the kind of generalities that we (whites) are warned not to make about African-Americans?  That they can't pay attention to something for more than a few minutes at a time?  That they need to have music blasting all the time?  That they need to be loud and demonstrative all the time?  All time baseball greats like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Bob Gibson and Ozzie Smith all played with a flair that made them standout--without self-aggrandizement every time they caught a routine fly ball, struck out a batter or doubled down the line.

Everything is life is cyclical, and it will be just a matter of time before everyone--including African-Americans--come back to baseball--if for no other reason to than to enjoy two and a half hours of peace and quiet so they can focus on a game.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ain't Got Time For That

I've talked in the past about how Oshkosh is "Too Many Events City".  But that was from the perspective of the drain on city resources--as major happenings strained police officers by making it difficult to schedule vacations and forcing everyone to work overtime to man barricades and direct traffic.  But having so many things going on all summer long affects those trying to put on the events themselves.

Take for instance the uncertain future the Oshkosh Mayors Breakfast now faces--as many of the volunteer coordinators no longer have time to serve on the event's committee.  For me, the Mayor's breakfast is the highlight of Airventure week--as it gets us out of our dark Quonset hut studio on the EAA grounds for a morning--and I get fed a hot breakfast that day.  Plus it gives us a chance to meet with some of our listeners every year.

If you brought someone from the past into the present, they would probably be amazed by how packed all of our schedules are in modern society.  I notice this with my friends who "check in" on Facebook.  They are constantly at their kids' sports practices, dance recitals, plays, band concerts or driving them to and from such events.  My wife and I just spent last night planning out all but two weekends for the entire summer with our own events--and we don't even have kids to fill out our calendars.

It's doubtful that we are going to slow down our hectic paces anytime soon.  So the competition for our time will continue--until we all run out of time to give--and at that point, great events like the Mayors Breakfast will go away.  It reduces the quality of life here in Oshkosh--but we'll probably be too busy to notice.

I'd love to talk about this more--but I've got to run and do news on three other stations...........

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Hypocrisy Day!!

Let me be the first to wish you a happy Hypocrisy Day!  You thought this was Earth Day?  Well actually it is, but it also serves as the day when those who claim to be the biggest supporters of "protecting the planet" show that they are all talk and no constructive action.

The Grand Marshall of this year's Hypocrisy Day parade and celebration is none other than Bill Nye, "The Science Guy".  Somehow, Bill has become the face of Climate Change Hysteria in America.  He is MSNBC's go-to guy whenever the topic comes up for discussion--and he seems to be best buds with President Obama--making several appearances at the White House during the past six years--again to drum up support for anti-business, climate change initiatives.

And that is where Bill Nye--and President Obama--show their hypocrisy today.  Nye tweeted out last night:


Bill Nye (@BillNye)
Heading down to DC to catch an #EarthDay flight on Air Force One tomorrow with the President. We're going to #ActOnClimate.

Based on his Twitter timeline, The Science Guy was in Boston over the weekend serving as a host for an awards banquet.  Given that he lists Los Angeles as his home, that was a pretty lengthy flight that Nye took to get there.  Given the timeline, he probably didn't have time to bike from Boston to DC to join the President today--and I get the feeling that Bill Nye doesn't ride Amtrak. 

Once Bill gets to Washington, he and President Obama--along with fewer than 100 other people will fly to South Florida in a 747 that environmentalists say emits 90 kilograms of carbon dioxide an hour during operations and that costs taxpayers $180-thousand an hour.  Perhaps Bill is along in case there is a problem with the hydraulic system on board the plane during the flight--since he helped design it while working for Boeing.

Once arriving in South Florida, the President, Nye, the Secret Service and others will then get into a convoy of armored SUV's to drive to the Everglades National Park to give a one-hour presentation before piling back into the SUV's to drive back to the airport and fly back to Washington DC.  And since the President isn't going to the Everglades to talk to the alligators, other "friends of the Earth" will be driving to the event as well (since there is no public transportation to a giant swamp) as will the myriad media outlets--all idling their vans in the parking area so they can send back their live video feeds.

It seems to me that the same exact message could be delivered to the same exact audience of "Earth Lovers" by using internet video conferencing from the Oval Office and Bill Nye's "home laboratory" in LA.  You could even splice in some high-definition footage of the Everglades to help make your point--without such a huge "carbon footprint".  But I guess you need to burn a lot of carbon to convince people not to burn a lot of carbon. #HYPOCRISY

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

4/21

After spending yesterday listening to ads on some of our own radio stations running commercials brazenly promoting "4/20" sales on drug paraphernalia, and after watching news reports on thousands of people gathering in cities across the country to smoke marijuana in the open, and after seeing thousands of tweets from celebrities and political activists celebrating their pot smoking, I have to wonder: When is Responsible Adults Day?  You know, the day when we all celebrate the shrinking percentage of Americans who abide by the law, get to work every day that we are scheduled to, keep our children out of trouble, and who don't need to get high to "deal with stress", or "take the edge off" or "self-medicate". 

Instead of big rallies in public squares, Responsible Adults Day would be marked in offices and factories across the country with bonuses for those who didn't miss any days because their kids (not them) were sick, who had the highest productivity levels, and who didn't need a supervisor watching over them every minute of the day to make sure they were actually doing what they were supposed to be doing.  Schools could honor parents who made sure their kids made it to class every day, were respectful to teachers and other students, and who made sure homework was done before playing video games, chatting on-line with friends or watching TV.

Businesses could get in on the Responsible Adults Day celebration too.  Car dealerships could offer special pricing for "cash only" purchases on quality used vehicles.  Restaurants could offer entrĂ©e specials that are between 500 and 700-calories for affordable prices.  Bars could do 2-for-1 specials with a limit of two drinks--since any more than that and you are risking impairment behind the wheel (although, you probably had a designated driver anyway--and you work tomorrow, so you are getting plastered tonight).

And then I started thinking about when to hold Responsible Adults Day.  April 15th--Tax Day--came to mind first, because what is more responsible than making sure that you are part of the 53% who still pay federal income taxes?  July 20th would also make a good date--since that is the anniversary of the Moon Landing in 1969--accomplished by a lot of people who didn't spend entire days smoking marijuana and who only had non-Common Core-compliant slide rules to do computations and who had about the same amount of computing power to use as it takes us to post a tweet on Twitter on our smartphones today.

But I've decided upon today--April 21st--as the perfect date for Responsible Adults Day--as it will stand in stark juxtaposition with the day before it--4/20--and everything that it is coming to represent.  Besides, it will be very easy to determine who should be celebrating today.  We will be the ones without the red, glassy eyes and who don't smell like we just spent the last five hours battling a brush fire.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Tell Us What You Really Think, Chief

I'm going to cede more of my time today to Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn--who went off--machine gun style--on pretty much everyone associated with Wisconsin politics and advocates of "restorative justice" during his appearance this weekend on Upfront With Mike Gousha:

http://www.wisn.com/news/flynn-political-system-is-useless/32443284

While Chief Flynn is already getting plenty of guff from Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke about his gun control statements, Conservatives are not going to be his greatest hurdle to clear in cleaning up his city.  It will be the Left that blocks every effort to get guns off the streets--along with those who commit gun crimes.  Is it the Milwaukee Police Department's fault that the vast majority of gun crimes in the city are committed by people of color?  It will certainly be portrayed that way by protesters who will cite the arrest and conviction numbers if there is a real crackdown on gun offenders--and if judges comply with Flynn's additional request to sentence those violators to longer prison sentences to keep them off the streets.

So until Milwaukeeans themselves want an end to gun violence--and the consequences that will be necessary to achieve that end--they can just continue to dodge the crossfire between their protests and their marches.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Depths of Absurdity

If you have spent any time on the internet in the past six years you have probably seen the banner ads that claim "Obama signs mortgage relief bill" or "Obama lowers rates for all borrowers".  You may have been tempted to click on those to see if you "qualify" for that "amazing Government offer".  Well banks in some European countries can now start running their own click-through ads claiming that "We will pay you to borrow our money".  But unlike the Obama scams, this offer is--sadly--real.

In one of the most perverse economic moves in human history, some European banks now have to pay people whom they lent money for mortgages.  The lucky borrowers signed notes tied to a key interest rate charged between banks in the European Union.  That rate is now approaching zero (as Eurozone members try to devalue the massive amounts of debt that they and their citizens all owe--while also trying to convince people to take on even more debt to "stimulate" the economy) and as it does, those that borrowed at "below-Prime" rates are looking at a negative APR.  Because no one is really sure how this is going to work, the assumption is that the banks will be forced to decrease the balance of the loan by the negative interest rate each month.

This also sets up the likelihood that those same banks will have to charge depositors interest to keep their money in a savings account!  This is like Bizzaro world in the Superman comics where everything is backwards, light is dark, good is evil and the sun rises in the West.  As anyone with basic math skills would tell you, if people aren't keen on the idea of having to pay to save money and they just keep their cash at home, the banks have very limited futures ahead of them--since their revenue stream is about to dry up.

But that is where we are in our screwed up, debt-based global economy today.  Those that blow through everything they have--and beyond are finding more and more rewards.  While those of us who try to act responsibly with our money keep getting the shorter and shorter end of the stick.  It's also why we should be alarmed every time we hear someone say that the "Government needs to do something to fix the economy", because artificially low interest rates, increased currency production and continuing to take from those who save to give to those who spend through "re-distribution" are about the only ways Government can "fix" things (short of major wars where Government production becomes the economy). 

Because there is far less bank regulation here in the US, the odds of negative interest rates for mortgages and savings accounts are far less likely--but I'm sure more than a few of those "advocacy" groups for student loan borrowers and those that were given mortgages that they could not afford during the housing bubble will be pushing the Obama Administration to "follow the lead of Europe" and make things "fair" for those got in over their heads "through no fault of their own".