10 Thoughts For The Week of December 20, 2020 – Black Cowboys and Reparations

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1. BIDEN ELECTION AFFIRMED BY ELECTORAL COLLEGE

The election drama is almost over. The Electoral College affirmed President Biden’s election. There was suspense building up to this event with Republicans not admitting that Biden won the election and lining up to join hopeless election lawsuits.

The drama may have continued after the vote but Mitch McConnell fell on his sword. I never thought he would be the voice of reason in all of this. I think the drama would continue if there was not a Senate run-off in Georgia. McConnell knows they have to put away the crazy to save his job.

2. WILLIAM BARR IS OUT

The president announced that attorney general William Barr will be resigning. Barr’s usefulness to the president has run its course since he won’t pursue false election claims and he will not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hunter Biden.

3. RIP – JOHN LeCARRE

The master spy-novelist passed away this week. I was fortunate to read a number of his novels this year. I highly recommend The Spy Who Came In From the Cold.

4. ENGLISH PM SUED FOR REPARATIONS

Member of Parliament Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax is being sued for reparations by residents from Barbados. The Drax family has owned a sugar plantation there since 1650. This includes when they had slaves. When slavery ended, the British government paid the Drax family what is equivalent of $3 million to compensate for the loss of slaves. To this day, the Drax family has profited from the sugar plantation and manages to pay its workers half the national average of wages. The PM has said these claims are false.

Normally, when I think of reparations, I get overwhelmed with all the details and minutiae. This case makes a lot of sense for reparations.

5. SELF MUST DIE

An art exhibit worth checking out is Self Must Die by Derek Fordjour. His work is life-giving.

6. COWBOYS IN HARLEM

20201215-120233I read an interesting article about the first black rodeo in Harlem in 1971. The cowboys wanted black kids to know there was such a thing as a “black cowboy”. Muhammad Ali even made an appearance. I am sure a black cowboy was the unicorn of westerns when they were en vogue.

The only black cowboys in my memory are Cleavon Little’s character in Blazing Saddles, Danny Glover’s character in Silverado, and Mario Van Peebles’ character in Posse. Just recently, there was Django Unchained and Denzel Washington lead the Magnificent Seven.

I am sure it is a culture that deserves more discovery.

7. STIMULUS PACKAGE APPROVED

Congress passed a stimulus bill that would give everyone $600 in aid. There are numerous other benefits of the package. Both President Trump and President-elect Joe Biden say $600 is not enough. Some countries are giving their citizens $600 a month. Hopefully, this is the beginning and not just a hollow token that doesn’t help all that much.

8. COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF

2020 College Football Playoff bowl games: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State,  Notre Dame make four-team field - CBSSports.comThe. College Football Playoff teams have been announced. Clemson and Ohio State will have a rematch from a very competitive game in last year’s playoff. Alabama is back and will play Notre Dame.

I am not sure if Notre Dame belongs in the playoff. Their signature win was beating Clemson without Trevor Lawrence in double overtime. Last week, with Trevor Lawrence, Clemson smoked Notre Dame by twenty-four points.

It would have been nice to see a rematch between Texas A&M and Alabama.

9. WORLD’S BIGGEST AFRO

The world record for the biggest Afro was broken. The record Afro means four feet ten inches in circumference. The record was broken by six more than six inches.

10. USC OPTS OUT OF BOWL GAME

After losing a game they should have won to Oregon in the PAC-12 Championship Game, USC opted out of playing in the Alamo Bowl. There are mixed reviews about the Trojans’ 5-1 season.

Once again, Clay Helton is on the hot seat. In a regular season, most teams like having the bowl prep time to get some more practice time with their players. Maybe they just want to put this season behind them.

I feel bad for Clay Helton. He is never going to get the love of a “big name” coach. He is a blue-collar guy who does a great job recruiting. He hasn’t done himself any favors with the lackluster results.

10 Thoughts for the Week of December 6, 2020 – COVID Confusion

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1. MAIL-IN BALLOTS IN GEORGIA

As the election began losing steam, the eyes of the nation turned to Georgia. The January 5th run-off election will determine who will lead the Senate and at what pace things are going to change. The presidential election turned on the number of mail-in ballots. There were 970,000 mail-in ballots in the November election. There have been over one million applications for mail-in ballots for the January 5th run-off election.

President Trump used a weekend rally to mention the run-off election while he complained of being robbed of the election.

The whole process feels like a coin toss right now.

2. WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON FOOTBALL

The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday afternoon in a game I would have to call the COVID Bowl. After being rescheduled twice, the Ravens actually voted not to play this game but they were persuaded to go forward with the game by the NFLPA.

The game was exactly what I had expected for a game played at 12:40 pm on Wednesday afternoon….UGLY. There were a lot of missed tackles, turnovers, and dropped passes. With Lamar Jackson out, there was a Robert Griffith III sighting. I forgot he was still in the NFL. He didn’t play well, but he kept his team in the game.

3. RUSSELL WESTBROOK FOR JOHN WALL TRADE

The blockbuster trade of the week in the NBA was Russell Westbrook joining Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards. In exchange for Westbrook, the Houston Rockets get John Wall. This was the only logical trade based on the massive sizes of both of their contracts.

At first glance, the winner looks like a no-brainer for the Wizards. They now have a top five back court and they have a quality supporting cast around those guys. Scott Brooks coached Russ in OKC and knows how to get through to him. They have a solid chance of making the playoffs.

Houston just makes me curious. John Wall is not who I would imagine playing with James Harden. They have pieces but I don’t know how they will fit together. This trade would not have bothered me a year ago when the Rockets had Darryl Morey and Mike D’Antoni pulling strings. D’Antoni has a gift for getting the best out of people offensively.

I feel like another trade is on the way.

4. WARNER BROS 2021 MOVIES WILL BE RELEASED IN THEATERS AND STREAMING SIMULTANEOUSLY

Warner Media’s announcement for 2021was refreshing after watching Disney push back all their 2020 movies to an unknown void in 2021. Very excited about my HBOMax subscription.

I have not been excited by the way Disney has handled their movies; especially with Marvel and Star Wars.

I was already excited about Wonder Woman 1984. Now I am ecstatic.

5. IS THE EARTH AN ORGANISM?

I read an interesting article about evolutionary questions about the Earth. A lot of it comes down to how you define an organism; or rather, can a system be an organism.

6. PAUL GEORGE THROWS DOC RIVERS UNDER THE BUS

Paul George has a career of putting his foot in his mouth. He decided to throw Doc Rivers under the bus for their collapse and loss of a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets. He has Top 10 talent but has not shown up in the playoffs since the Indiana Pacers lost to Lebron James and the Miami Heat in seven games. Since then, he was part of a Pacers team that lost in the first round, and he was part of the OKC Thunder who were booted out of the first round twice. It took the greatness of Kawahi Leonard to drag a struggling George to the second round of the playoffs.

Instead of being accountable for not being able to show up in the playoffs and throwing three pointers against the side of the backboard, Playoff P went after Doc Rivers. He is the opposite of Playoff Rondo.

7. COVID CONFUSION

I am very confused thinking about COVID at the present time. There have been 1,000,000 new cases this week; even Rudy Guiliani got it. My state, California, has hospitals at 85% capacity. The NFL has been plagued by COVID. Games have been rescheduled and teams have played with no quarterback. However schools are opening, vaccines are being used in the UK and the NBA is coming back.

The uncertainty continues.

8. MICROWAVE ATTACKS ON US EMBASSIES ABROAD

I have seen quite a few articles about these incidents and there were suspicions of some weapon. Now things are becoming more concrete. I feel bad for people serving our country abroad.

9. THE RAIDERS SNATCH VICTORY OUT OF THE JAWS OF DEFEAT

The Raiders were on their way to losing to the 0-11 New York Jets when the unthinkable happened. Henry Ruggs III had fumbled away the game earlier. It was fourth down and impossible. The Jets did what 0-11 teams do and left the Ruggs, the fastest man on the field in man coverage while blitzing everyone. Ruggs was wide open for a touchdown to end the game.

10. THE MAP TO THE PLAYOFFS

This reminded me of the presidential election:

10 Thoughts for the Week of October 11, 2020

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1. WOLVERINE WATCHMEN

On Thursday, the FBI charged six men with conspiracy to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. Whitmer’s strong response to COVID caught the ire of the conservative militias. I read an article about this militia movement and it made me consider the possibility of a civil war for the first time. These militias believe that such a war is inevitable and I am feeling like I am behind.

2. COVID HITS THE NFL

This past week, the NFL announced sixteen players who had tested positive for COVID. The biggest names were Cam Newton and Stephen Gilmore of the New England Patriots. Games have been postponed and rescheduled. I am a fan of Tuesday night football and I think it is good there have been no fatalities from the illness.

The positive tests seemed almost inevitable when you considered the NFL was not going to play in a bubble like the NBA and the MLB playoffs.

The NFL is a $3 billion industry so it will take multiple deaths to put an end to the season. Especially when they can postpone.

3. VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

When I think of the VP debate on Wednesday, I think I want to answer questions by answering something totally different. I wonder if you can do that in real life. All you have to do is say “that’s a great question” and then you can talk about whatever you want to talk about.

That would have been ok if Vice President Pence didn’t make a scene by constantly speaking over his time limit.

I didn’t think either person won the debate. It was not an event that was going to change peoples’ minds.

4. BIZARRE TRIBE

As a fan of A Tribe Called Quest and the Pharcyde, I had to put this song as one of the best things I heard this week. It is a mash-up of two of my favorite songs of all time.

5. LAKERS WIN THEIR 18TH CHAMPIONSHIP

Afters years of frustration and futility, the Lakers are back on top. Lebron James and Anthony Davis brought the star power. Rajon Rondo, KCP and Adam Caruso came up with the timely plays to seal the deal. This series was a war until Game 6. Hats off to the Heat for a valiant effort. They are going to be battling for titles for the next couple of years.

The Lakers got back on top the Laker way, they brought in the best free agent who can lift the team to the top. They tried it with the draft and player development but that is not the Laker way. It was good to have all that young talent to trade away for Anthony Davis.

6. DODGERS IN THE NLCS…AGAIN

I am excited for the Dodgers as they are back in the National League Championship Series. The Padres tried to give them a battle, but it was a dominant win. The hitting and the starting pitching are top line. The fact they don’t have a lights out closer is a little scary. They are the best team on paper and I worry the pressure is on them to win it all.

7. THE BEST THING I READ THIS WEEK

Violets, by Bud Smith, is a great story about the ups and downs of marriage and the spark that changes everything.

8. COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS

It is hard for me to take the college football ranking seriously when half the teams haven’t played yet or are not playing at all. It is hard for me to believe Cincinnati is ranked eleventh in the country. 

9. COVID SURGE

The rate of COVID cases has surged back up to almost 50,000 new cases a day. Explain it any way you want.

10. RAFAEL NADAL

Congrats to Rafael Nadal who won his 10th Grand Slam Title by winning the French Open. Nadal is truly a legend. He is also not the cookie-cutter tennis player. He was a rival of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. While there are no great American players, this is a great era of tennis.

10 Thoughts for the Week of September 20, 2020

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1. CLIPPERS GONNA CLIP

Last summer, when the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George, everyone thought they were going to be contenders. They added two all-stars to a team of scrappy players who overachieved with no all-stars the year before. Things were supposed to be different. 

Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers had created a new culture in LA. The addition of Leonard and George was supposed to be a new era for the Clippers. 

The curse of Donald Sterling is hard to break. I never thought about it until the Clippers made it to the 2nd round and people were excited about a Clippers/Lakers conference finals. The Clippers had never been to the conference finals. The last time they were this close, they were up 3-1 on the Houston Rockets and lost three games. This time the Clippers were up 3-1 on the Denver Nuggets and were up late in two of the last three games before losing.

2. PAUL GEORGE

After watching Paul George over the last three seasons, I have decided he is not the difference maker people think he is. He has had good to great regular seasons and when ended in disappointing performances in the playoffs. One season is not a big deal, but three years of not showing up when your team needed you the most is more than a coincidence.

3. WHAT ABOUT THE NUGGETS

I don’t want to take anything away from the Nuggets. They have come back from being down 3-1 in two straight series. Their resilience cannot be underestimated. It seems like the longer a series goes, they seem to figure the other team out and get better. Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr are dynamite when they are hitting on all cylinders.

They are down 3-0 to the Lakers and it is hard to write them off until they lose that fourth game.

4. RIP RBG

On Friday, we lost an icon. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg passed away after years of battling and fighting to stay alive for the election of a new president. She had made so many strides for women and been a force on the bench. We lost a great one.

5. MITCH McCONNELL

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to quickly get a vote on the president’s next nominee for the SCOTUS. This is the same Senate Majority Leader who would not bring Merrick Garland up for a vote when he was nominated nine months before the 2016 election. He argued it should be up to the American people to decide who picks the next justice. Now that we are forty days away from the election, Mitch has changed his opinion about the American people deciding who should pick the next justice. 

President Trump has promised to nominate a woman. Already two Republican Senators have stood up and said they would not vote for a nominee before the election. Nancy Pelosi has said she will start impeachment proceedings to stall a Senate vote on a nominee. Joe Biden went as far as to say he will demand the nominee withdraw if he is elected.  

6. 8 STRAIGHT FOR THE DODGERS

It’s almost like clockwork. The Dodgers clinched their eighth consecutive postseason this week. As good as the Padres have been this year, I don’t see anyone in the NL West giving the Dodgers trouble for a long time. They have the talent and the farm system to keep this streak going for a long time.

7. WHAT’S UP WITH THE AP POLL?

In its pursuit of normalcy, the Associated Press has released their weekly poll for college football. It seems kind of strange given half of the teams in Division I football are not playing right now. Is there really going to be a national championship this year?

8. JA MORANT GOES AFTER THE ONE REPORTER

Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies was voted the NBA Rookie of the Year. He made a point of forsaking the 99 reporters who voted for him and going after the one reporter that did not vote for him.

9. QUEEN & SLIM

A timely movie I gotta watch this week was Queen & Slim. It had elements of Bonnie & Clyde and a heist movie; while dealing with the civil unrest issues that have plagued our country the last six months.

10. BEST THING I READ THIS WEEK

Check out A Story for Your Daughters, a Story for Your Sons by Rebecca Makkai