Things Aren’t Always What They Appear

News is anything that makes a reader say, `Gee Whiz’! “
– Arthur MacEwen, American editor

You may have heard or read about the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) news story on the youth soccer league in Midlake, Ontario, Canada which has decided that they want to improve the experience of the children playing on its teams.  In order to achieve this goal, the league’s administrators have decided to eliminate what they consider to be one of the more damaging aspects of sports; that being competition.
Helen Dabney-Coyle of Midlake’s Soccer Association explained the objective this way, “This year to address some of the negative effects of competition, we’ve actually removed the ball.  And the kids are loving it.
(I added the emphasis)

According to the story, Helen went on to say, “By removing the ball, it’s absolutely impossible to say ‘this team won’ and ‘this team lost’ or ‘this child is better at soccer than that child.  We want our children to grow up learning that sport is not about competition, rather it’s about using your imagination.  If you imagine you’re good at soccer, then, you are.

Here in the U.S., several major media outlets including The Washington Times and USA Today picked up the ball-less soccer story, running it in their print and on-line editions.

There’s only one small fly in this particular ointment.  Nothing about the story is true.  It was originally broadcast on the CBC’s “This Is That ” program which, by the way, happens to be entirely satirical in nature.

Sadly, I don’t find it surprising that so many people were hoodwinked into believing that this story was true.  After all we do live in a culture which, far too often, is guided by ill-advised, but politically correct philosophies.

As an example, some school systems have eliminated the use of the letter grade “F” because it might serve to label particular students as not performing up to minimal standards.  No matter that those students are in fact not performing up to minimal standards!   We just wouldn’t want their egos damaged by their having to face the truth regarding their own lack of effort nor to hold them responsible for making an attempt to improve their study habits.

In the world of youth sports, political correctness is responsible for the now common-place practice of awarding every child on every team a trophy at the end of each season regardless of how they or their team performed.  Apparently, it’s now considered bad form to only recognize the hard work and achievement of those teams and individuals who actually put in the effort to excel.

From my perspective, those individuals who are wearing their rose-colored, politically correct glasses fail to understand the simple and age old truth that when events are structured so that everyone wins, in actual fact, everyone ends up losing.

The winners soon learn that their extra effort gained them nothing at all.  While the losers learn that little or no effort is required to achieve the same level of reward and recognition as those who did put in the extra effort required to achieve.

Hear that loud slamming sound?  That’s everyone being forced to the lowest common denominator at exactly the same time.

But enough about programming subsequent generations into being under achievers who expect to be rewarded for their (lack of) effort.

The really sad thing about this story is that main stream media in the U.S. picked it up and reported it as being factual and newsworthy.
There was a time when news stories weren’t published unless the facts contained within them could be thoroughly substantiated by at least two reliable and independent sources.  In those days, journalists actually worked very hard to vet, or to confirm, the truth of their stories before they were reported as being factual.  Apparently those heady days of journalistic accuracy and excellence are going, if they are not already gone, the same way as the “F” letter grade and the awarding of trophies only to actual winners.

Even if The Washington Times and USA Today had just taken the time to have an intern Google “Midlake, Ontario“, they would have learned that the place simply doesn’t exist.  Good job Main Stream Media.  I’d give you an “F” on this one if that grade still existed.

Edward R. Murrow most certainly is turning somersaults in his grave.


Photo credit:
Photo credit:


A Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted

There’s a sucker born every minute.”
– P.T. Barnum

Do you ever really listen to the “As Seen on TV ” genre of commercials that proliferate on radio and television these days?  I’m not talking about just being aware that one of these commercials is playing in the background.  I’m asking if you really pay attention and think about what the announcer is saying and what it really all means.  Sadly, I have to admit to the fact that there are times when I do just that.
Sometimes I find myself listening very intently.  Not because I’m actually being seduced into parting with any of my money in order to obtain a bottle of the latest instantaneous weight loss miracle drug or the newest high technology skillet to which nothing, not even its own non-stick surface, can adhere.

No, what grabs my attention is the rampant application of illogic, mumbo-jumbo, and slight of hand which marketers employ in their attempts to entice people to purchase items for which they really have no need and which, in all likelihood, will not function as advertised.  At least not for very long.

I find myself wondering how anyone could be so gullible as to fall for the claims that are made on these commercials until I remind myself that the ever-suffering widow of that recently departed Nigerian Finance Minister shows no sign of backing off in her never-ending attempt to find others with whom to share her wealth.
But back to the commercials.  What do you think it actually means when you learn that the product being promoted, “… a $199.00 value, but it can be yours, not for $150.00, not even for $100.00!  It can be yours today for the amazingly low price of only $19.95! 

Now you might be thinking that it means that the true value of this “$199.00” item is actually $19.95.  “But Wait!”  

It’s really only worth a paltry $9.98 because, “If you call now, we’ll send you a second Gee-whiz Whatchamacallit at no additional cost! ”  (….you just pay shipping and handling.)

“But remember, you have to call within the next 10 minutes to take advantage of this incredible offer.”

Unless of course you happen to change channels and come across the same advertisement a couple of hours later, in which case your 10 minutes of opportunity have been miraculously restored.  It’s interesting to note that this same phenomena occurs whenever we learn that “….supplies are limited!  So act fast! ”

And don’t ever forget that, “Operators are standing by! “


Photo credit: Anna Fischer Foter CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: Jessica Watkins DeWinter / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

It Ain’t Easy Being El Niño

Sergio Garcia, the professional golfer, is all over the news lately.  It seems that Sergio has a long standing dislike for Tiger Woods which came to a head during the recent Tournament Players Championship played at the TPC at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Sergio was paired with Tiger during the third round of the tournament.  As Sergio was hitting an approach shot, Tiger’s fans started applauding for something that Woods had done while waiting to hit his shot.

Now you have to understand that 90% of the folks following Tiger know next to nothing about golf.  Our culture’s cult of celebrity has driven them out there so that they can tell friends, family, and associates that they once actually stood near Tiger.  This cabal will clap their hands and scream “Get in the hole! ” at the slightest provocation – for anything from Tiger stooping to pick up a pine cone to him simply scratching an itch.

In any event, the noise from Tiger’s gallery of fans apparently distracted Sergio, causing him to feel that Tiger had not done all in his power to keep his fans quiet.  Old grievances were suddenly made raw again.

The following day it became clear that, even though they were tied for the lead, Sergio and Tiger would not be playing together during the final round.  When asked what he thought of not playing with Tiger on Sunday, Sergio commented that it didn’t take a “rocket engineer ” to realize that he and Tiger were not the best of buds.  One is left to ponder if a rocket scientist would have arrived at the same conclusion.
Fueled by a collapse of monumental proportions on the final two holes of the tournament, Sergio went from being tied with Tiger for the lead to the status of just another “also ran”.   As a result, the state of Sergio’s antipathy for Tiger apparently rose from simmer to full boil.

Earlier this week at a European Tour award’s dinner, Sergio inserted both of his feet (possibly up to his knees) into his mouth when he suggested that during the upcoming U.S. Open he might invite Tiger to dinner, closing his comments with “We will serve fried chicken.

Sergio is undoubtedly a very talented golfer, but I wonder just how much notoriety he would have gained during his career but for a single shot he hit as a 19 year-old during the 1999 PGA Championship at the Medinah Country Club.
Sergio Leaps
That year during the final round, his tee shot on the 16th hole came to rest against the trunk of a large tree.  Undaunted by his bad lie, the relatively unknown Sergio hit the shot of the tournament by putting his ball on the green, but more memorably by performing a gazelle-like leap into the air as he sprinted up the fairway so that he could follow the flight of his ball.

Unfortunately, as the saying goes, “one shot does not a tournament make.”  Sergio finished second, by a single stroke, behind one Tiger Woods.

But that was all it took for the media to ordain Sergio as charismatic and the foremost challenger to Tiger at the top of professional golf’s pantheon.

Since that fateful day, reality has trumped all of the media hype and mythology.  At this point in their respective careers, Tiger has posted 78 PGA tournament victories including 14 majors; while Sergio has only managed 8 total wins, none of which are majors.  I don’t think that Tiger senses Sergio breathing down his neck.

It must be difficult for Sergio.  He’s gone from being a darling of the media to now being their whipping boy for becoming the latest celebrity to run afoul of the universal doctrine of political correctness which holds that everyone has the right to never be offended.

Contriteness may well be the order of the day for Sergio.  On second thought, make that the order of the foreseeable future.

The great St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Dizzy Dean once said, “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.”  Sergio would do well to remember Dizzy’s words.  For despite the media’s misplaced prognostications, he ain’t done it.

Drive for show, putt for dough.


Photo credit: mUAr_cHEe CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: Jim Epler / / CC BY
hoto from:

Another (One-Sided) Tempest is Raging in the Teapot

We live in an age in which a fundamental right of individuals to never be offended has apparently been ratified. It remains unclear to me by whom and on the basis of what authority this right has been granted, but there’s little doubt that it now exists.

Personally, I don’t subscribe to the use of this dubious privilege and wish that my point of view was more widely held, but I’m wise enough to recognize that the genie is completely out of the bottle on this one.

That said, I find it troubling that it seems that this newly identified right may only be exercised in certain situations, rather than applied universally.
Doug gottlieg
Last Thursday night, I was watching the NCAA basketball tournament “March Madness” pre-game show on CBS when expert analyst, Doug Gottlieb, well and truly stuck his foot, not just in his mouth, but all the way down his throat.

Describing his inaugural appearance on the pre-game show, Gottlieb intoned, “Cream rising to the crop. I don’t know why you guys asked me, I’m just here to bring diversity to the set here. Give the kind of white man’s perspective on things from the point guard position.

Understandably, double-takes and uncomfortable shifting in chairs was evident from all four of his colleagues on the broadcast, all of whom happened to be black.  Obviously, it was an incredibly stupid thing to say, not to mention an assault on grammar and the English language.  At best, it was an extremely lame attempt to make a joke which fell harder and faster than the proverbial lead balloon.

I sat in front of my television dumb-founded and somewhat slack jawed at what I had just witnessed, knowing full well that this segment would soon become grist for every sports columnist and main stream media talking head desperately searching for the next controversial nugget to feed to the voracious 24-hour news cycle.

I was not disappointed.  Articles, commentaries, and news stories roundly criticizing Gottlieb have been appearing unabated since Thursday.  At least one sport’s commentator called for his immediate firing from CBS.  To his credit, Gottlieb admitted his mistake and issued an apology.  “It was not a smart thing to say and I apologize.

Let’s go back for a moment to our culture’s “Thou shalt never be offended” precept.  I’ve always believed that if a rule, or even a guideline, is to be effective – it must be universally and consistently applied.  Hold that thought for a moment, if you will.
NBA: Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls

On Thursday morning, the same day on which Gottlieb verbalized the faux pas heard round the world, the sport’s website SBNation, published an article on the ending of the Miami Heat’s 27-game winning streak which was entitled, “White people celebrate Heat loss in exceedingly white fashion

The article included a photograph of white male fans celebrating the Chicago Bulls’ victory over the Heat which was captioned, “White people in their natural habitat.

The article was rife with derogatory references to these fans.  Here’s a few quotes from the article:

This guy is pretty white, I guess.
…white dudes had courtside seats (because white people looooooove courtside seats) 
Just two white guys, enjoying each others’ company, wearing their finest Cherokee-brand shirts.
Never change, white people. You are a GOLD MINE.”

I’m still waiting for someone in the media to express righteous indignation at these characterizations of white basketball fans or to demand that the author of this article be dismissed.

At the moment, those voices appear to have been drowned out by the sound of crickets chirping.

Enjoy the rest of “March Madness” and have a blessed Easter.


Photos from and


Dive for Cover! It’s a “Rainy Night in Georgia.”

With Apologies to Tony Joe White and Brook Benton

One of the really pleasant things about living in the Southeast can be the weather.  One of the more disagreeable things about living in the Southeast can be the weather.
Before you jump to the conclusion that I must be referring to the heat and humidity for which the South is so famous, let me assure you that I’m not.

Being a southern boy, born and raised, I’m quite accustomed to hot weather.  Growing up in a house without air conditioning does a great job of acclimating one to the rigors of enduring temperatures over 90 degrees.

As far as heat’s cohort humidity is concerned, you’ll need to speak with a Floridian.  What we refer to as humidity here in Georgia doesn’t hold a sponge to the full immersion which one experiences from humidity as it exists down in the Sunshine state.

No, the weather which causes me to cast a worried eye toward the sky occurs here as regular as clockwork every Spring, from the middle of March through April.  You see, this happens to be our tornado season.

This is the time of year when misanthropic Mississippi cold fronts collide with agitated Alabama warm fronts and in just a few short hours spawn towering anvil top thunderheads which gather to form lines of powerful thunderstorms extending several hundred miles in length.  These tempests sweep rapidly across the Southeast like the steam locomotives of old, far too often generating multiple tornadoes.
A couple of years ago, just such a storm system plopped a twister with an attitude down in the middle of downtown Atlanta.  Aside from blasting hundreds, if not thousands, of windows out of high-rise buildings, the storm also peeled away a section of the Georgia Dome’s roof exposing some 30,000 or so sports fans who, at that moment, were attempting to enjoy the SEC basketball tournament.

Most of the towns which make up the ever-expanding conglomerate that is metro-Atlanta, now have tornado early warning systems in place.  Sirens begin screaming like enraged banshees whenever there is even a threat of a tornado in the vicinity.

I sometimes wonder if these warning systems might be a bit too sensitive.  Just yesterday, one of these storm systems rolled through my neck of the woods.  The tornado siren serving my neighborhood began to shriek a good 30 minutes before any rain had begun to fall and continued to screech away well after several local television weathermen had declared the “all clear” based on their Doppler radar data.
The tornado sirens are my cue to tune to one of the local TV stations.  Invariably, these storms set off a “Battle of the Television Meteorologists” in which each station deploys it’s state-of-the-art weather radar system in an effort to out-do the other stations. With amazing accuracy, the weathermen provide up-to-the-minute reports on where the storms are currently located, where hail is falling and how big it is, and where funnel clouds have been sighted; right down to the naming of specific streets and intersections.

It’s as good as it gets if you happen to be looking for real reality TV.  Nothing grabs your attention quite like seeing the radar image of a tornado crossing an intersection ten miles north of your house and following a course which leads straight to where you’re sitting

It can be quite invigorating to say the least.

So yes; give me heat and humidity, but keep those colliding warm and cold fronts, thank you very much!


Image courtesy of
hotos from and


It’s Time to Let Idol Idle

I’ve not been a big fan of the American Idol television series.  Even when it was being hyped as the hottest of the hot “must see” TV shows, I wasn’t drawn to it.  The best that can be said about the show is that it was imported from Britain where at least a last lingering shred of television programming originality apparently still exists.ID-10049815

The concept of the series seemed to me to be little more than a latter day version of Queen for a Day, the 50’s daytime pseudo-reality show in which the woman, from among three contestants, who could churn out the most heart wrenching sob story would win a shiny new Maytag washing machine and a lifetime supply of Bosco.  For those of you not blessed with having been around in the 50’s and 60’s to witness this spectacle first hand, just “Google” it for more details.

The belief that a television show, in this case American Idol, is going to be able to routinely fast-track anyone to entertainment stardom may be appealing, but the show’s actual success in doing so seems to belie the hype.  Aside from Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, what other winners have acquired any lasting notoriety, much less Idol-status?  Some of the contestants who have so unceremoniously received the hook from the show’s panel of expert judges seem to have had just as much success in establishing recording careers as have the winners.

Last night, I happened to meander through our family room totally unaware that my spouse was watching American Idol.  I chanced to overhear the evaluation which Nicki Minaj, one of this year’s judges, was in the process of giving to one of the female contestants.
I just didn’t find any authenticity in your performance.” she intoned dramatically.

Upon hearing those words, I lost all equilibrium and came very close to careening into the door jamb as I was hastily attempting to exit the room.

I have to ask, is there any reasonable person who would grant even a modicum of credibility to a lecture on the subject of authenticity when it is being delivered by a woman who is wearing:

  1. a platinum blonde wig which looks as if it’s made from polypropylene,
  2. heavily applied day-glo orange eye shadow,
  3. false eye lashes which are longer than the tines on my yard rake, and
  4. finger nails containing more plastic than a Tupperware bowl?

I think not.
Clearly it’s time to pull the plug on American Idol and find out what the Brits have been watching on their televisions for the past couple of years.

It’s just possible that one of our sharper network executives might thereby be encouraged to import it under an assumed name and release it over here as one of next season’s newest #1, smart, must-see shows.


Images courtesy of
icki Minaj photo from

What It Is, Is Football – (or at least it’s supposed to be)

Probably one of the first questions posed to a significant percentage of Americans upon arriving at work this morning was, “What did you think of the Super Bowl?” or some variation of that query.  I think an appropriate follow-up question would be, “Did you watch the whole thing?

As the Super Bowl was being discussed this morning where I work, an interesting trend began to reveal itself.  A number of my co-workers indicated that at some point during the game, they had switched from watching the Super Bowl to viewing the latest episode of “Downton Abbey” on PBS.   This piqued my interest because my wife and I had done exactly the same thing.    

Before anyone makes an unsubstantiated assessment regarding the depth and breadth of my interest in sports, let me state categorically that I am a sports fan.  Frankly, I’m a follower of more sports than your average Joe.

A few years ago, unbridled corporate avarice resulted my unplanned and unexpected early retirement.  Having to find some way to continue to put bread on the table, I turned a passion for sports photography into a business.  As a result, I’ve spent an inordinately large amount of time kneeling on side lines, base lines, foul lines, and goal lines over the past few years.  Without question, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

Back to the topic of last night’s NFL spectacle.  I haven’t watched an entire Super Bowl in years.  There are certain elements of the NFL Championship game that I now avoid by design.  You see, my problem is that I’d like to watch a really good football game, not a media circus complete with multiple side shows.

First of all, I never watch the pre-game coverage.  This might seem to be unavoidable given that this coverage now routinely begins no later than the Tuesday or Wednesday preceding the Sunday on which the game is played, but I manage to successfully channel surf around most, if not all of it.
Super Bowl XLVI
On Super Bowl Sunday, I don’t tune to the network carrying the game until 6:31 p.m., just in time to see the coin toss quickly followed by the kick-off.  This strategy proved it’s worth this year as I was able to avoid having to endure Alicia Keys singing, what others have told me was, the longest national anthem in recorded history.  It’s our national anthem.  It’s not an opportunity for the latest chantreuse to dazzle us with her vocal virtuosity and range.  Let’s leave that to the Grammys; which I also never watch.

Likewise, I haven’t seen a Super Bowl halftime show in years.  I don’t have a compelling need to be entertained during halftime, much less endure wardrobe malfunctions.  To my way of thinking, halftime is intended to give the athletes a break from the exertions of the game, time for coaches to make adjustments in their game plans, and time for those watching the game to grab another beer and a refill the chip bowl.

As the saying goes, I didn’t really have a dog in the fight that was last night’s Super Bowl.  If pressed, I would have admitted to hoping to see San Francisco come out with the victory, but that was due to them being the team more closely aligned with the original pre-merger NFL than anything else.
After having to endure the 49er’s sputtering offense and their almost non-existent defense during the first half, switching to PBS and the latest episode of “Downton Abbey” seemed like a very logical option; particularly after Jacoby Jones returned the opening kickoff of the second half 109 yards for a Baltimore TD.

I was pleased when I learned this morning that the 49ers came back and made a game of it.

That’s what I’d like to see every Super Bowl turn out to be, a great game of football.  That’s more than enough for me.

Celebrity In America, Sojourns Into Meaninglessness

Time for a old man rant.  I haven’t had one in a while and I’m feeling one bubbling just beneath the surface.

I grew up in a time when the term “Celebrity” meant much more than it does today.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines celebrity as “a famous or celebrated person“, but in my mind, bestowing the mantle of celebrity status on an individual also requires that they have achieved a high level of notoriety due to the significant individual accomplishments and contributions which are associated with them.
When I was just a pup, celebrities included people like John Wayne, undoubtably an American icon; Frank Sinatra, with a career spanning several decades; Ernest Hemingway, Edmund Hillary, Pablo Picasso, Jesse Owens, Winston Churchill, Jackie Robinson, and the list goes on and on.

Perhaps driven by Andy Warhol’s famous statement, “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes” our culture, aided and abetted by media talking heads who are desperate to achieve their own notoriety, now grants celebrity status to the undeserving as fast as McDonald’s churns out Big Macs.

By the way, based on little more than that quote, a collection of really horrendous wigs, and a can Campbell’s soup, Warhol managed to achieve his own level of transient renown.
A quick review of a list of current “celebrities” including such notables as, Kim Kardashian, Michael Sorrentino (who?), Lindsay Lohan, Daniel Tosh, Snooki, Heidi Montag, Clay Aiken, and Pitbull; clearly demonstrates that the criteria for achieving celebrity status today requires little more than a willingness to engage in outrageous behavior, to embed large quantities of silicone in one’s body, to practice narcissism as if it were an art form, and/or to have “starred” on one of the innumerable reality television shows which plague our cable channels.

Pardon me, but I have to ask, is there anyone who has done less to achieve the designation of celebrity than Pitbull?  Appearing on Budweiser beer commercials while rhythmically thrusting one’s right arm into the air doesn’t seem like much of a resume’ to me.  But I digress.

No doubt, many of this generation of celebrities will soon be appearing on the Biography Channel’s “Celebrity Ghost Stories” series.  Why wraiths, specters, and poltergeists would choose to initiate contact with so many once notable personages just as their careers seem to be coming to an end is an interesting phenomena.  Perhaps it’s closer to the truth to suspect that the series provides an opportunity for these latter day Norma Desmond’s to see themselves on the tube one last time?
You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.

I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.

Yeah, right.

Keeping Up With the (Jerry) Jones

georgia dome
It looks like the good people of Atlanta are going to be on the receiving end, whether they want it or not, of a new stadium which will be replacing the Georgia Dome.

The price tag for the new sports venue will come in at around $1 billion (that’s with a B).  The plan is for the Atlanta Falcons to cover $700 million of the costs with the rest coming from a new hotel-motel tax which purportedly will impact only non-Georgians.  One would have to assume that residents of the Peach State never stay in hotels or motels when traveling overnight.

The party line states that there will be no financial impact on the residents of the greater metropolitan area or the fans of the Atlanta Falcons.  That might seem plausible until you remember that if you patronize the stadium it will cost you something like $20 to park your car, $8.00 for a beer, $7.50 for a Coke, and $8.00 for a hotdog (without chili).  Don’t even ask what a ticket is going to cost.

It’s also being slowly leaked out that season ticket holders will be assessed a “seat license fee” which apparently will grant the payor the right to then purchase a season ticket from the payee.  “Hiya, hiya!  Step right up!  You pays your money.  You takes your chances!

At a recent news conference at which plans for the new stadium were discussed, Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons, had the audacity to say (out of the right side of his mouth), “We don’t need a building to play in next Sunday . . . The Georgia Dome is a good building. We love playing in it.  (Falcons coach) Mike Smith has an incredible record in it.

Out of the left side of his mouth he must have been mumbling something along the line of, “Gotta have it!  Gotta have it!

Did I mention, that I’ve been unable to find anyone who roughly meets the description of the “common man” who desires, much less believes that there is a need for, a new stadium in Atlanta?  I’m still looking.
insde dome
As a sports photographer, I’ve covered many events at the Dome.  The Dome has just turned 20 years of age and I’ve got to tell you, it’s a beautiful stadium; well maintained, offering every amenity that the discriminating sports fan, athlete, and member of the working media could desire.  But apparently, it’s got to go!

I can’t help wondering to myself why Atlanta needs a new stadium.  Is there a desire to relocate the stadium out of the downtown area, placing it in the suburbs where presumably it will be more accessible?  Apparently not, the word on the street is that the new artifice will be located just south of the current Dome’s location.

One explanation may be that Roger Goodell and the NFL patriarchs have let it be known that the Georgia Dome will no longer be considered as the location for future Super Bowls.  Why?  The upcoming Super Bowl is going to be played in New Orlean’s Super Dome which is over twice as old as the Georgia Dome.

Relative sizes - NFL Stadium Jumbotrons

Relative sizes – NFL Stadium Jumbotrons

No, I think the true explanation is much simpler.  As Mark Bradly, Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports writer put it, “…. in sports as in life, new and shiny trumps tried and true.

Imagine the angst that rends the hearts and souls of billionaire owners and millionaire players as they walk into new stadiums like the monstrosity which recently opened in Dallas, an architectural testimony to the massive ego of Dallas Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones.

Gee, our Jumbo-tron’s not nearly as big as Jerry’s.  We need a new one!  And he’s got a retractable roof too!

Make no mistake about it, size does matter.

Ground Control to Major Tom

Ancient Aliens
I have a confession to make.  I really enjoy watching the History Channel series, Ancient Aliens.

I enjoy the series for a couple of reasons, one of which is most assuredly NOT because I believe that the “ancient astronaut theorists”, as they prefer to call themselves, are coming anywhere close to the truth with their suppositions regarding the history and origins of mankind vis-à-vis visits by tourists from across the galactic expanse.

No, the primary reason I watch the series is that it highlights some really interesting and inexplicable archaeological sites, which is a subject that has always tweaked my interest.  Beyond that, it’s enormously entertaining to watch the “ancient alien theorists” convolute logic and the scientific method to beyond the breaking point in order to make their hypotheses appear to be plausible.

When I was in grade school, I learned that the scientific method consisted of the following steps:  1) Start with a question, 2) Make observations and conduct background research, 3) Propose a hypothesis explaining that which is being questioned, 4) Design an experiment to test the hypothesis, and 5) Accept or reject the hypothesis based on the experiment’s results.  Then of course, rinse and repeat.

The “ancient astronaut theorists” on Ancient Aliens have seen fit to substantially streamline the scientific method to three extremely expedient steps:  1) Start with a question, 2) Propose an hypothesis, 3) Accept the hypothesis.  Why waste time with cumbersome and time consuming stuff like observations, research, and experimentation?  Bah, humbug!

Ancient Aliens never fails to provide a bit of comic relief as the show’s stalwart group of “ancient astronaut theorists” blithely present startling inconsistencies in their extraterrestrial explanations of otherwise earthly artifacts and events.  And they’re able to do so with such straight faces.
For example, in different episodes, the Great Pyramid of Cheops has been explained to have been, without question, 1) an enormous chemical generator designed to produce microwave energy which was then beamed up to the ancient alien’s mothership orbiting the earth, 2) an enormous nuclear powered device designed for the purpose of converting common elements into gold (for as we all know, the ancient aliens were really only interested in our gold), and/or, 3) a cosmic portal used transport our extraterrestrial vistiors, not to mention the occasional Pharaoh, between Earth and the region in and around the Orion nebula.

In the rough and tumble world of “ancient astronaut theorizing”, the rule seems to be ‘If the hypothesis comes anywhere close to fitting, stretch it.
Live Long and Prosper, Ancient Aliens!  It certainly beats watching American Idol.

On second thought, some of those contestants appear to have just beamed down.