How Come?

April 4, 2011

Pondering the big questions.

  1. How come we applaud March Madness for its flaws but we hate the BCS for its flaws? March Madness creates a worse final than the BCS, and no one disagrees with that.  The phrase we keep hearing is “fair” and “they deserved to play for the championship.” Imagine if we had a football semifinal of Northern Illinois and Troy, because that is what the college basketball tournament gave us.  March Madness does not give us the best team; it gives us the team that was best for 3 weeks.  But the season is 4 months not 3 weeks.  The idea that a team like VCU “played” their way to the semifinals is like saying the Seattle Seahawks “played” their way to the post season.  Just because they are there does not mean they should have been there.  Every team in college football has the chance to play for a championship, just like in college basketball.  The reality is if the majority really believed that Boise State in 2009 or Utah in 2008 should have been playing for a championship then they would have.  However even after they each finished undefeated not a single person (other than their own coach) voted for them.  Sports are completely up to our own judgment.  March Madness simply hides this with the tournament.  Had VCU not even been in the tournament, no one would have complained.  What if they were placed into the finals?  Are we complaining then?  So how come we complain when a two loss LSU wins a national championship but if an 11 loss VCU had won, we’d applaud it?
  2. How come a quarterback’s win-loss record means so much but a pitcher’s win-loss is getting downgraded more and more each year? Lets take a step back and look at what each position needs to win a game.  A quarterback needs his defense to play somewhat well, to keep the opponent off the scoreboard.  A QB needs some weapons around him, such as wide receivers and running backs.  Also, a QB is not getting wins without a good o-line, to keep people off of him.  Finally, a QB needs a system designed by their coach that gives them the best chance to succeed.  In baseball a pitcher needs his offense to score runs in order to get a lead, and a chance to win (much like a QB needs defense to prevent scoring).  A pitcher needs a somewhat reasonable defense to help him when a ball is put in play (much like a QB needs WRs and RBs).  Finally a pitcher needs a catcher who is able to catch the ball as well as call a good game (much like a coach in football).  Lets not forget that it is widely considered that a football coach affects the game much more than a baseball manager.  What position truly has a greater impact on what happens?  Imagine a game where a QB plays terribly.  Now imagine a pitcher pitching terribly.  Which team is more likely to lose?  It is the pitcher.  They have a larger impact on the game, and should be held more accountable.  The best example is Ben Roethlisberger in Super Bowl XL vs AJ Burnett in the 2009 World Series game 5.  Roethlisberger had a 22.6 QB rating, throwing 2 INT and no TDs, worst ever.  AJ Burnett pitched 2 innings and gave up 6 runs, the shortest start in WS history.  Who won? The QB. Because they impact the game less.
  3. How come Derrick Rose is considered the NBA MVP? Rose is great player, for sure.  He made a big leap from last year to this year, as did his team.  His team has the largest increase in winning percentage from this season to last season, so what changed?  The Bulls added two key pieces, the oft-injured Carlos Boozer and the defensive genius Tom Thibodeau.  The Celtics led the league in defense when he was an assistant coach there, and now the Bulls lead the league in defense.  For Derrick Rose to be considered the MVP he would have to be the key to the reason they are winning, as in he should be the best defensive player on the team.  He is not, nor is he the second best.  He is their best offensive player but the Bulls are 20th in offense.  If an average point guard replaced him, his team would still be in the playoffs, probably around the 6th seed.  Because they win with defense and he is not a defensive stud.  He will not make 1st, 2nd, or 3rd team defense.  Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, Rajan Rondo, and Kobe Bryant are all better.  This is not to say Rose is not a great player; this is to say he is not the MVP.  The MVP is Dwight Howard.  Because he is the only player on his team that plays defense (leads the league in blocks, again).  He is the only person on his team that rebounds (he has the highest percentage of his teams’ rebounds).  If he were replaced by an averaged center, the Magic would not make the playoffs.  His team is completely reliant on him for scoring, rebounding and defense.

Cheers,

Dr. Banner

Oscars 2011

February 28, 2011

The Pitfalls of the Oscars

The 2011 Oscars can be broken down into three very distinct categories, with three very obvious results.  The first one is independent films that 90% of the public has never heard of.  Winter’s Bone, Blue Valentine, The Kids Are All Right, and Rabbit Hole.  They get nominations, but rarely win.  Every so often you get a winner in an acting award, like Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart (I bet you did not even know that was a movie).  I personally have not seen them, but they follow a typical Oscar path.  These movies get a boost from being unknown.  Sure there is some uniqueness, but had they been released across the country the small flaws would have become big flaws.  When 50 people review a movie there are less outliers and extremists that bring down a movie with very specific criticism, compared to the 200 reviews that come out for a wide released movie.  There are two movies that fall into this category that buck the trend; they are 127 Hours and Black Swan. What sets them apart?  They each have a scene or style that is extremely unique and thus breaks away.  And they have very likable, attractive leads.  Finally, as I am sure many of the readers will agree with, these independent movie reviewers are smug, stuck up, arrogant critics that shun genres likes comedy or science fiction.  Meanwhile we have our next category.

The next category is the big winner of the night, always.  The Oscar friendly, critical darling movie that while very good, is unoriginal, generic, predictable and forgetful.  This category is all about the individual performances, not the movie as a whole.  What movies are in this category?  The Fighter, The King’s Speech, and True Grit.  They are very well made, smart, extremely good acting, and look beautiful. But. What is unique about them?  The Fighter and The King’s Speech are instantly thrown directly into an old category of Oscar winners and classic movies that have predictable premises.  The Fighter falls right into that underdog that rises.  The King’s Speech is another period piece set in England.  But in 5 years?  Nothing stands out except for the performances.  Colin Firth is excellent.  Geoffrey Rush and Christian Bale were both great.  The ladies of The Fighter and Haliee Steinfeld from True Grit were also great.  That is it.  There is nothing in those movies that make them instantly memorable.  Nothing. Unoriginal.  Generic Oscar bait.

Finally we have the third category.  These are the should-be winners of the night.  The three best movies of the year fall into this category.  The two best directors.  The best writing, visuals, effects, editing and cinematography.  The best movies.  This is the category that takes risks, that pushes the envelope and that is memorable.  Toy Story 3, Inception, and The Social Network.  In 20 years from now, if you were asked about 3 movies from 2010, you would say these three.  You have the best third movie in a series ever (Yes over Lord of the Rings), the best modern blockbuster (over The Dark Knight) and the movie that instantly defines a generation of over 500 million people.  Unlike the other two categories there is a degree of difficulty here.  You can’t make movies that appeal to anyone from 5 to 95.  You can’t make movies that combine science fiction with philosophy, love, life and death.  You can’t make a period piece while the period is still going on.  These movies did all of that, and they did it at such a high level.  David Fincher should have won best director.  Chris Nolan should have been nominated for best director and should have won for best original screenplay, because his was original!  And finally Toy Story 3 should have won for best picture.  As I mentioned above appealing to all is the hardest thing a movie can possible do.  The hardest, without question.  Toy Story 3 did that, and did it better than any movie has, ever; $400 million at the US box office, and a ridiculous 99% approval by critics (245 out of 248).  But instead of rewarding a truly remarkable, memorable, original film, the Academy chose a movie that in 5 years will hardly be remembered.  You know how I know, try naming the best picture from 5 years ago, or even last year.

Cheers,

Dr. Banner

11 for ’11

December 30, 2010

11 Predictions for 2011

 

1. In perhaps the most surprising and unforeseen match ups ever, Michael Vick leads the Eagles into Atlanta to play Matt Ryan and the Falcons.  A match up of the 2 best teams in the NFC, and a rematch of a regular season game the Eagles won at home.  However, with Atlanta at home for this game, and with a top 5 running back in Michael Turner, the Falcons beat the Eagles 27-24, as the Eagles are unable to stop Turner.  Matty Ice continues his ridiculous home record (2 losses in 3 seasons).  The Patriots roll through the AFC, never trailing in the 2nd half.

2.  Tom Brady (and his ridiculous hair) vs. Matty Ice in the Super Bowl.  Even though they finish with the best record in their conference, the Patriots are heavy favorites.  The Falcons strong running game puts them ahead early.  However they are unable to convert red zone trips into touchdowns and the Patriots, lead by Brady and Wes Welker lead a comeback in the 4th quarter.  This time however, no Adam Vinatieri field goal is needed as the Patriots beat Atlanta 31 to 27.

3. The 3 best teams in the NHL are all in the Eastern Conference, as the Philadelphia Flyers win the Presidents Trophy, while the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals finish less than 6 points behind them.  In an Eastern Conference classic, the Penguins beat the Flyers in 7 games.  In the end the Flyers are doomed by an inexperienced goalie and thin back line.  In the Stanley Cup Finals the Pens beat the Vancouver Canucks in 5.

4.  The two best teams in the NBA meet in the Eastern Conference Finals, as the Miami Heat beat the Boston Celtics in 7 games.  The Heat snag the 1 seed as their youth, and superior talent lead to a strong finish.  The old Boston Celtics fade as injuries and age catch up to them later in the season and fall to the number 3 seed.  In the second round they face a talented Orlando Magic team that pushes them to 7 games, meanwhile the Heat get to play a perpetually overrated Chicago Bulls team and win easily in 5 games.  In the west the L.A. Lakers reign ends, as the San Antonio Spurs finish as the 1 seed, and win in 7 games.  Ron Artest gets angry with his psychiatrist.  The Heat beat the Spurs in 6 games, as Wade and Lebron dominate Manu and Tony Parker, while Duncan gets harassed by the constant double teams from the quicker, more athletic Heat.

5.  The Philadelphia Phillies starting pitchers set a record for wins (since 1970) and Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have injury free years.  The Phillies finish with the top record, over 100 wins, and roll through the NL and into the World Series where they face the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox have the best ERA in the AL, with their strong four starters.  Each game is close, being decided by 3 runs or less, but in the end the Phillies win in 7 games, as Ryan Howard ends his terrible World Series play and is World Series MVP with 3 home runs.

6. Tom Brady sets a record for best attempts to interception ratio ever, Sidney Crosby puts up 60 goals and over 130 points both career highs, Dwight Howard wins another defensive player of the year, Ryan Howard hits 50 home runs (again), and each wins MVP.

7.  The Yankees panic as they reach the All Star break just 2 games over .500 and 9 games back of Boston. In their panic they badly over pay for a washed up starter, Barry Zito who is experiencing his best year since leaving Oakland.  Zito fails miserably as the Yankees miss the post season and finish under 90 wins.  Hal Steinbrenner, wanting to make a statement, fires Joe Giradi, and then hires Lou Pinella, making him the highest paid manager in baseball.

8.  2011 will see two major sport leagues having major labor discussions.  Both the NFL and the NBA are seeing the end of their CBA’s coming up.  The NFL’s negotiation will go down to the wire, but, in the end, The NFL will not have a lockout.  The agreement will include an 18 game season, 3 preseason games, 2 bye weeks, less offseason workouts, expanded rosters, and more guaranteed money.  The biggest story is that the NFL is openly looking to put a team in Los Angeles.  Minnesota owner gives an ultimatum, demanding a new stadium, or he will sell the team and it will move to L.A.  Jacksonville remains the frontrunner to become the Los Angeles Stars.

9.   Meanwhile, the NBA is facing a much harder battle.  The rich owners are willing to sit out a season if they do not get their way.  The owners demand that there is a hard salary cap, and with non-guaranteed contracts.  Neither side finds middle ground and, The NBA goes into a lockout.  The lockout lasts until January, when finally both sides agree.  The owners get their way, and there are non-guaranteed contracts, and the ability to cut a player without taking a massive salary cap hit.

10.   Tiger Woods and Lebron James join Michael Vick as perhaps the great comeback after a huge fall from grace.  Tiger Woods wins a Major, and Lebron wins the NBA Championship, but what makes the comeback stick is that they both go on Oprah and cry about past mistakes they made, and how they would have liked to have handled their situations.

11.  Brett Favre retires, comes back, retires, comes back, ah f*ck it, no one actually knows

 

Leave your thoughts, and other predictions

 

Cheers,

Dr. Banner

The Blind

August 10, 2010

The Visuals are failing because of the formatting in html is troublesome.  Click here to fix it. 

She had closed the blinds, to hide the warm autumn day. The light frustrated her, so she hid from it. But the blinds could not block all of the sunlight, and its glow seeped into the dim room, almost surreal.

She felt betrayed;

the blinds could not help her when she most depended on it. But even so, she wasn’t concerned with
                                                   cloudy            
thebetrayal, as her mind was but a       swirl         in the sky.
                                                                       high

She could make little sense of whatever scarce thoughts dared fly near the tempest. How many hours had it been? Did the sun’s glares just begin, or did she just not notice until now. She tilted her face towards the clock.

Oh?,

she thought. The clock, a present that she never gave, was not on her night stand. Oh, I threw it. She was laying on her bed, among the golden autumn leaves of her sheets, with her ankles on her pillows. Her head hung past the edge of the bed,
allowing her blonde hair to ~,
                                           ‘ ~ drape down ~,
                                                                   ‘ ~ like silk ribbons. 

It flowed onto the white carpet, and did  not move.
A waterfall frozen in time.             How
 weak,                                             she thought.
  transient.
   fragile.                                           Like an
    illusion,                                          as if it was all a
     dream.                                           How could so much disappear in an instant, end so abruptly. Her mind began to reminisce against her will, she tried to hold herself back, to return to the tempest. She would rather not think at all, than ponder over the endless possibilities. She tried hard to throw her mind back into the swirling disarray, but nothing could stop her. And she knew, that if she started, she would not stop. and the tears would flow. and flow. and she cried.

Tears ran through her eye lashes

                                                    down her hair,

                                                                   and they would not stop.

A retrospect of THE DECISION

July 8, 2010: A day that will live in infamy, for that day the state of Ohio was mercilessly stabbed over and over and over again.  At approximately 9:40 P.M. that night, Lebron James decided that he was going for championships, by leaving the Cavaliers and going to Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.  And then at approximately 9:47 P.M. a mass suicide took place in Cleveland.  Lebron has meant more to the state of Ohio then almost any athlete has ever meant to any state.  The reaction from Cleveland fans is, to be expected, angry.  No, that is an understatement.  Extreme hate, to the point that the name ‘Lebron’ is now a tabooed name.  Perhaps he will become #23; no longer a name but just a name, a number that will be retired for all the wrong reasons.  The owner let loose a tirade for the history books.  My description of his rant is not enough you have to read it for yourself.  Fans feel betrayed.  They are calling him selfish and one writer said on Sportscenter that  “I don’t really give a damn what Lebron James does.”  The way in which Lebron voiced his decision to leave was very, very poorly done.  Now many reporters, writers, fans, and owners believe that the 3 free agents all colluded, that they decided in 2008 that this was the plan.  I do not care about the methods and those that do are only complaining because they are hurt by the decision.  Had Lebron got on TV to announce he is staying, no big deal.  However he did not.  Lebron left Cleveland to win.

We all Witnessed it

But back to the actual point of all this, and this is what I will take from his decision.  He did the right thing.  Lebron made the best decision possible given the situation that presented itself to him.  As one very articulate coach once said, “HELLO!  You play to win the game!!!” Lebron did what he has been saying since he was an 18 year old rookie, he is playing to win championships.  That is the bottom line.

The Prize

He wanted to win multiple rings and he wanted to be a legend.  He could not accomplish that in Cleveland, and does any one really think he can?  After 7 years in Cleveland the team has never been the favored team in the NBA Finals, sure they got their, but promptly got swept.  The management did not make the right moves.  People make excuses, saying Lebron held them to a standard that could not be matched.  Some say that they were in a situation that could not be fulfilled, but they had Lebron, arguably the best player in the game and they could not get him the right pieces.  Why did they not trade for Amar’e?  Can you name one player they drafted over the past 6 years who was an above average player?  Does anyone truly think Mo Williams is a quality second player?  Lebron had to leave.

And so the King left the building.  As I said before, he held to his words; that winning is the most important thing to him as a basketball player.  More than ever the words “selfish”

“disloyal” and “poor character” are being thrown around.  Fault him for leaving his hometown, but you cannot fault him for being honest.  You want to talk about character, how about keeping your word.  How about playing to win championships?  How about admitting you need help and then being able to take a back seat?  How about taking less money to win?  Can we name any other athlete (other than Bosh and Wade) who took significantly less money to win?  His deal with the Cavs would have been around $120 million, yet his deal with the Heat is for around $90 million.  Obviously I do not feel bad for him, but the fact is that his massive ego (which is apparently validated by leaving money on the table) was able to take less money than he could have.  There is nothing selfish about what he did.  Had he stayed in Cleveland he would have won more individual awards, more scoring titles, racked up more stats and made more money.  So tell me, how is leaving all that behind selfish?  It is not.  He is going to someone else town, to play for someone else team.  The King has left his throne.  There can be many Princes, but only one King, and he is now among 3 Princes.

Cheers,

Dr. Bruce Banner

Please leave any thoughts on the huge day of July 8, 2010

The End of the NCAA

June 12, 2010

Wave bye, cause the end is near

An Evolution of College Football

The college football world is becoming just that. Very soon college football will have its own world, separate from everything and every part of the NCAA. The realignment of many prominent schools will result in mega conferences that have at least 16 teams. This realignment into mega conferences will result in a huge imbalance in power. Eventually those four mega conferences (more on them later) will leave the NCAA and set up the National Collegiate Football Association (NCFA). They will have an 8-team tournament with the winners of each conference getting a bid and the four other teams will be chosen by a group of people. The reason for all this change? Simple, money. The television contracts will be enormous and each school will keep more money because they will have fewer teams to split the money with and no annoying NCAA to meddle (Such as imposing academic “standards”). The realignment will take full affect after the 2015 season, when Notre Dame’s contract with NBC is up. That is the last domino to fall. Notre Dame will finally join a conference and the evolution of college football will take place, with the Big West, Big 16, Southern Conference, and the Big East.

The first step has already taken place. Nebraska and Colorado have jumped ship; Nebraska is joining the Big 10 (which now has 12 teams) and Colorado is joining the Pac-10 (which now has 11 teams). The Big 12 (with 10 teams) is soon to collapse. The last straw for the Big 12 is Texas, which is the powerhouse in college football. If Texas leaves, then so does Oklahoma, and with that means Oklahoma State leaves. And after all of that, the Big 12 is done. With the inevitability of the collapse of one of the Big 12 the remaining conferences are reacting and attempting to grow in the mega conferences. The Big 10 is holding most of the cards, given that they have their own TV network and make the most money. On the flip side the SEC is afraid to see the Pac 10 (who is gaining previously mention Texas and that fallout) and the Big 10 grow stronger while they do nothing. The SEC is then going to grab the left overs of the Big 12 and then some. The Big East, with just 8 teams, is looking weak and will try to maintain itself by adding teams that it can, and the means the ACC. The ACC will feel the pull of the SEC to the south and the Big East to the north. What that said here is how I see this falling apart coming together.

Remember what it used to look like

Let’s start with the end of the Big 12. That conference will completely fall apart and all of those 12 teams will be up for grabs. The Big 10 will pick up Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri. Those teams are natural rivals and geographically closest to the current Big 10 teams. The Pac 10 will snag the big dogs; Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Colorado, Iowa State, and Baylor. Finally the SEC will pick up Texas A&M and bye, bye Big 12. Now the Pac 10 will also pick up a couple more powerhouses in the west. Boise State, BYU and Utah will see greener pastors, with more money and a guarantee to be included in any post season. After that rubble, the Pac 10 will have 20 teams, and be renamed the Big West.
Back east the chaos will reign. The SEC gets Texas A&M, which is no big deal. But, the SEC will use its strength to pick up 4 teams from the ACC that really do not fit in there. Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech, and Clemson will hop on over to the SEC. Each team has a rival in the SEC, geographically is close, and fits in better with its athletic strength (good football, bad basketball). Clemson has South Carolina, Georgia Teach has Georgia, and FSU and the U have Florida. Finally, to even out those additions the SEC will put another foot in the huge market that is the state of Texas and add TCU, giving the conference 18 teams and the new name of the Southern Conference.
Now with the ACC raided, and with the Big East already weak, the conferences will see a mutual gain by merging. The new conference, still named the Big East given its geographic location, will have the following 16 teams: Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse, and West Virginia. The football might not be the best but the basketball, unbelievable.

Here is the target

So now that those conferences are decided, the Big 10 will finish the job in 2015 by adding Notre Dame. The Big 10 will now have: Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Penn State, Ohio State, Northwestern, Iowa, Minnesota, Purdue, Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and Notre Dame. The 16 teams become the Big 16 and BOOM, the NCFA is formed with the Big West, Big East, Big 16, and Southern Conference (70 total teams).

Here is what we really want

The NCFA will get its own TV contract, probably with a Friday night game (kind of in the light of Monday Night Football). Further, and this is where the fans will love this evolution, the NCFA will have (at least to start) an 8 team post-season tournament.The winners of the four conferences will gain a bid, and a home game. A committee will determine the final four teams. The seeds will be 1-4 for the conference winners and then 5-8 for the at-large teams. 1 will play 8, 2 will play 7, etc. Who is not looking forward to this?

The future is happening. Trust me, I’m a doctor.

Cheers,

Dr. Banner

Rationality

May 7, 2010

Humanity has come so far, its development and achievements are undeniable. Each new era, yields new accomplishments, and every new step through history, gives more and more hope to innovation. But oh humanity, you have some atrocious faults. First however, the distinction between humanity and mankind must be made. Humanity entails the human race, its cultures, its governments, its people, and its conflicts: everything human. Mankind refers to a perspective on humanity, in such a way as to attempt to describe the process of humanity, the process of its government. The process of its people, the process of the human race. There are no faults in mankind, as mankind is a process, a description, something true because it is undefined. Humanity is faulty, because it is an attribute much smaller than mankind. Just as mankind envelopes man, man envelopes humanity. It is the collection of logics, beliefs, emotions, desires, and whatever else necessary to be human. Rationality, and irrationality, the basis of logic, are influenced by every other aspect of humanity that one could simply say, they did not exist. The pride men hold in their superior minds, is an inch short of blinding. However, this does not mean that Rationality does not exist, its merely an observation that Rationality comes not from logic. Human rationale, is truly pitiful.

Rationality, the Greek God Apollo’s gift to man, seems to have disappeared with time. What’s left is a mere imposter. Rationality has taken a twisted and disgusting form, used and abused, employed and destroyed. The Lucifer Effect, by Philip Zimbardo, gives a half true analysis on the darker side of rationality. In the book, Zimbardo details the circumstances needed for twisted rationale. In the Stanford County Prison Experiment, Zimbardo organized a group of college students to participate in a mock prison. Half the group were designated as guards, and half the group were prisoners, and the students were to act out their roles for an extensive period of time. As time passed, many small changes to the prisoners were made. Their humanity was slowly blocked off, and hidden from the guards. To the guards, the prisoners would be nothing more than an animal. For example, the guards were given glasses and thus their eyes showed very little emotion. It created a sense of anonymity, and acted as a safeguard from external analysis, no one could “see“ them. The prisoners who began with their prison uniforms, eventually ended up in nothing but underwear, and bags over their heads. They could no longer see, they could no longer give any form of expression. It was now a one way street, the prisoners could not communicate. Horrible hazing and beatings began to occur, and the guards would never feel any sympathy. Many of the participants were eventually forced to withdraw from the experiment. The experiment that began with giggling college kids, managed to convert them into the seeds of Darfur.

Observe the above picture. What is that thing? We cannot honestly say human, nothing about it is human. It has no face, it cannot communicate, it has no clothes, only a faceless animal in the shape of a man. It somehow stands on two feet, but would look more appropriate on all fours. This the dark face of rationalization, one which lets us torture prisoners, but pamper a dog. How can we do this? Very simple. It is not horrible, it is not incomprehensible, grotesque. It is human, it is rational. Whatever the case, if communication becomes one way, ignorance and prejudice will be the only source of information for the individual. On a lighter note, humans attribute certain human emotions with animal actions, whether it be in Disney films or the playfulness of a puppy, it is because the individual desires humanity in its companions. The opposite can be done, if one desires a human to become inhuman, simply take away its emotional expression, and in essence drown oneself in ignorance. Hiding whatever human resemblance they have, breaks down inner barriers, it is self deception, which while others may disagree, is the real meaning of rationale.

Stereotyping, propaganda, are forms of forced rationale. Media is projected onto the masses, and causes a cycle of conversion, where their opinions can be focused and altered. It is a very intricate system, where the masses, who feel and think on an individual level, can all be turned against a larger entity, say a race or a country. When a small individual looks at the evils of such an entity, it would be extremely easy for them to undergo the self defensive thought process. “It is more powerful than me, thus it is not inhumane to do horrible things in my own defense”. Values that transcend cultures and countries tell us that when the powerful flaunts its power to command the powerless, it is unequal, it is inhuman. Thus it is acceptable if the powerless retaliate. So on the individual level, where all human beings are, they receive the stereotyping which units races and countries, they absorb the propaganda that paints them as the individual victim, sufferers of the evils of some large monstrosity. When humanity wages war on one another, no tears are shed. When humanity wages war on an individual, they cry injustice. Simple, because groups transcend humanity, and thus are not bound by the same little rules humanity makes up in its unconscious mind.

Every war began because its participants rationalized it. Whatever the reason, it was imperative to kill as many of the opposing crowd as possible. What allows humanity to do it? It is war. When war is declared, it is then acceptable to slaughter one another, because of this and that, self deception. The extermination of the Jewish people in WWII was rationalized, the hatred of the Japanese and atomic bomb was rationalized, water boarding and torture is rationalized, the patriot act was rationalized. The Salem witch trials, crusades, the cause of all of these can be analyzed on a human rationale basis. But the message above cannot be absorbed by most individuals. They detail something larger, descriptions of existences larger than oneself, makes it hard for the individual to relate to a small vessel as himself. The essential message is still the same regardless of the medium. Humanity must learn to be logical, it is caught up and chained down by the superficial. Do not rationalize, analyze and understand what happens. Making up reasons, excuses, lying to oneself, is possible one of the most useless, destructive, skills humanity possesses.

The Morality of Sport

April 28, 2010

This country loves to watch sports and idolize those amazing athletes that play them.  An athlete gets paid as well any profession, and if you include their massive endorsements deals they get paid better than almost anyone in the world.  Sports allow us to escape to a world where anything is possible (See the NBA with the slogan “Where Amazing Happens”).  We watch as human beings

SUPERMAN

accomplish such amazing feats.  These athletes have been dubbed ‘The King’ or ‘Superman’ or ‘Alex the Great’ and so on.  ESPN, and every other network that broadcasts sports like to hype these athletes as if they were indeed saviors.  Athletes are (very) incorrectly portrayed as saints.  We see an athlete throw their body into the gauntlet; they give up their well-being so we can be entertained.  Somehow out of this we believe that based on sports we are able to see morality.  But sports are not an arena for morality; sports are an arena for competition.  Because of this the media and us the fans come to the conclusion that they must act the same way off the playing field.  What do we expect from our athletes?!  Fans get mad when an athlete gets arrested and they issue a half-hearted apology, but again, what do we expect from our athletes?  These are not politicians or religious figures; their career should not be defined by moral action but by what they accomplish on the field.  Some athletes have used their on the field character to overshadow their off the field question marks.  Athletes such as Steve McNair, Marvin Harrison and Tiger Woods are the victims of misplaced faith in their character.  There is also the other side of that coin.  Front offices, league personal, and even some players feel the need to turn each player into a saint.  The most gratuitous offenses of forcing morality into sports is from Roger GODell, and yes that is GOD in his name.

I called out McNair, Harrison and Woods because those are some of the high profile athletes that are called character guys and yet based on off the field activities we would never say that.   Many other athletes have also been involved in what most people would say is not the mark of a role model.  Tom Brady has a child with someone that is not his wife.  Ray Lewis was charged and went to trial over first-degree murder.  Tiger Woods’ actions are well enough known.  However Harrison and McNair’s actions are not quite so well known.  Harrison, as a wide receiver is a class act.  He rarely celebrates and has almost never been a trash talker.  Off the field he has been accused of shooting multiple men outside of a club that he owns in Philadelphia.  That however gets brushed aside, because on the field he acts as a model human being.  Harrison gets the benefit of the doubt.  Now I wonder if Terrell Owens was accused of shooting someone.  How would the public perceive that???  I’d be willing to bet that the public would assume he is guilty.  Owens has never been accused of any crimes, and has never been arrested.  Yet, Owens is considered a bad character guy.  It seems as thought the sports side of the field over looks the criminal side of a person’s life.  Just the same is Steve McNair.  As a quarterback McNair lead the Tennessee Titans to one Super Bowl appearance and played through numerous injuries throughout his career.  McNair played through injuries that most people would not even be moving with.  Off the field, McNair was a poster boy for low morals. McNair had four children by three different women, now that is the mark of a role model.  McNair was shot and killed by is 20-year-old girlfriend  (Yes McNair is married to a different woman, one that is the mother to 2 of his children).  And the reason? Oh, the girlfriend thought McNair was sleeping with another woman.  Lets recap, McNair a married man with 4 kids by 3 different woman, was murdered by his 20 year old girlfriend (Oh did I mention that McNair was 16 years older than this girl?) because this girlfriend believed he had a third woman in his life.  CLASS ACT.

Morality swings back the other way as well.  As I have stated above, sports are not an arena for morality, yet some people try to make it that way.  Now, Roger GODell has taken this morality as policy to a whole new level.  Since becoming commissioner of the NFL GODell has made it clear that he will punish anyone who is in anyway attached to crime and the police.  Some players have been rightfully suspended (Adam Jones).  But others have not been.  I do agree that a policy like this is necessary.  But the way it is being enforced is not fair.  The most obvious case is Ben Roethlisberger.

Immature? Yes. Illegal? Only by GODell's standards

He has been arrested twice on sexual assault charges but HAS NOT BEEN CHARGED with a crime.  He recently was suspended for 6 games, and in order to come back he has to show to Roger GODell that he is a changed man (see, the GOD part makes sense now).  Allow me to quote Roger now, “My decision is not based on a finding that you violated [the] law, or on a conclusion that differs from that of the local prosecutor. That said, you are held to a higher standard as an NFL player.” NO, NO, NO!!! He is not.  He is held to the standard of the LAW, not Mr. GODell’s ridiculous ego.  The law states that there was not even enough evidence to charge Roethlisberger.  GODell needs to realize that he is not the judge; he is a commissioner of a sport that profits from violence.  The sport GODell is representing is all about beating up other humans.  Those athletes are praised for how hard they attack others on the field.  Do not make this into a double standard. Roethlisberger may have acted immaturely but he was cleared of all accusations.  GODell should not overstep the boundaries of the law, he is not a lawyer or a judge, and he is a commissioner of a sport.

Please leave your thoughts

Cheers,

Dr. Banner

Silhouettes

April 9, 2010

A white silhouette in the sea
Sad mirror of reality
Oh how it hopes, Oh how it pleads
To become real, to be set free.

Trapped in a dream, a crystal world
Then it thinks, “do mirrors have souls”
“Then what is his, what is my own”
“do not reflect, claim yours alone”

          March Madness is widely considered to be the most exciting time of the year. People call it perfect, that regardless of all else in sports this will not let a fan down. Most fans, players, coaches, TV announcers, and anyone who follows or cares about college basketball would call it the best post season, but is it? The point of any post season is to determine the best team of that year. March Madness fails in giving college basketball the best team. The BCS does not fail.

Now I am quite sure that many of those, myself included, strongly believe it is a flawed system. After all, how could a team go undefeated and not be considered the national champion, or even given the chance to play for one (I see you Utah ’04, ’08 and Boise State ’06, ‘09). I do believe that in all those years the previously mentioned teams should have been playing in the national championship (especially the more recent two). But humans decided that they should not! In fact, after finishing undefeated, including winning their high profile bowl game, those teams received no 1st place votes except from their own coach. Humans made the decision that those “non BCS” teams should not be in the national championship. To make a fair comparison lets look over the past decade (since 2000) and see who got it right more often; the BCS or March Madness.

To start, let us first make a clear definition on what the post season should do. Since each team does not play the same regular season difficulty there is a post season to decide who is the best team. Above I mentioned that a post-season tournament of some style should show which team is indeed the best. That much is an obvious given. March Madness and the BCS go about this in two very different ways, however both for the same reason (MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

So what system do each post season use? March Madness and the BCS both include an automatic bid process. For the BCS the top 6 conference champions from the ACC, the Big East, the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, Pac-10 (hence forth known as the BCS Conferences) are guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl. Furthermore if Notre Dame or a non-BCS conference ends the regular season in the top 8 they are also guaranteed a bowl game. The remaining spots (10 total spots) are decided on by a committee, aptly named the BCS Committee. March Madness has a spot for the winners of all the conferences, 34, and then fills the remaining 31 spots by at-large bids decided on by a committee, that acts very similarly to the BCS committee. So, not much of a difference, just in size.

There in lines the problem. March Madness, due to its size, causes too many upsets. Now most readers would be calling out the fact that upsets are why we love the tournament. However, an upset, by definition, is when a worse team beats a better team. Later on we may in fact decide that it was not an upset at all, we simply over estimated or under estimated. That will be brought into consideration. Also, sadly certain things like injuries or poor officiating cannot be brought into play. Because of that we must take what we see on the field as what happened. So sadly Colt McCoy was injured during the national championship and a freshman was his back up and Alabama won, we must take that as is. Likewise the official who “saw” a pass interference penalty on a Miami cornerback in its game against Ohio State and thereby allowing the game to go on longer will not penalize the fact that Ohio State did indeed win that game. No pun intended. So let’s begin the breakdown. Over the past decade I can say that the BCS did a much better job of deciding its national championship than March Madness did.

What a Mess!

I shall start with the BCS. In 2001 undefeated Oklahoma beat one loss and second ranked Florida State, lead by the Heisman Winner. Oklahoma was the only team to finish undefeated, so count one for the BCS. 2002 featured undefeated Miami manhandling one loss and second ranked Nebraska. Miami finished as the only undefeated team, count another for the BCS. 2003 saw undefeated Ohio State beat previously undefeated (and defending champion) Miami. Ohio State went in ranked second but beat number one and finished as the only undefeated team, so another one for the BCS. The count; 3-0 BCS. 2004 was the first year that the BCS failed. Going into the championship game there were three one-loss teams. Meaning one team was left out, and that team USC, was voted number one in both human polls. They finished with one loss, just like LSU. Here, the BCS lost. 2005 had a similar problem. 2005 had 4 undefeated teams, with one (Utah) coming from a non-BCS conference. Same problem as above, BCS failed. Count: 3-2. 2006 was a year of BCS perfection. Two teams were ranked 1st or 2nd all year and played each other. Texas defeated USC and finished as the only undefeated team. BCS did its job. 2007 was a complete failure for the BCS. That year had two undefeated teams, but only one played for the championship, and also had 3 one-loss teams, with one of those teams playing in the championship. The season ended with one undefeated team (Boise State) that was not the champion. A loss for the BCS; count 4-3. 2008 was again a failure for the BCS, with a two-loss team winning even though there were two one loss teams. 2009 had multiple one-loss teams but there was consensus on the top two teams, they played each other and the winner was declared the national champion. There was still an undefeated team left but no voters gave them a vote, so the BCS did its job; count 5-4. 2010 was a mirror image of 2006. Two undefeated teams played (Alabama and Texas) and even though there was a third undefeated team consensus was that after Alabama won they were the number one team. Final score for the BCS: 6-4.

Now it is March Madness’s turn. March Madness’s largest problem is that the #1 and #2 best teams rarely actually play each other in the finals, so the team’s win is tainted by the fact that it was against, for example the 9th best team or even lower. Or more so, perhaps neither the #1 or #2 even got to the final because they were upset, and an upset as we know it is when the better team loses. Six out of the ten years one could one make the argument that the #1 team did in fact win the tournament. Those years are Duke in 2001, Maryland in 2002, North Carolina in 2005, Florida in 2007, Kansas in 2008, and North Carolina in 2009. However the team that those champions played in the tournament and more specifically the finals was not the 2nd best team. For example very recently North Carolina in 2009 played no team as a #1 seed. Maryland played a #1 in the semifinals but a #5 seed in the finals. The list goes on with such faults. The two years March Madness did get it right was in 2007 and 2008. Those years the finals featured the two best teams, with the winner clearly deserving the national championship. Final score for March Madness: 2-8.

Based on that breakdown, I would have to conclude that the BCS does its job better. Overwhelmingly people would say that March Madness provides a “more satisfying ending” because each team was able to play out the games. March Madness encourages upsets due to its nature and format. How is that more satisfying? A satisfactory ending is when you know that the team that won is truly the best one. To look back historically, when NC State beat Houston or Villanova beat Georgetown how many people would say that they were the best team? They were not. On one day they beat the best team, but those teams were not the best one. I want my championship game to feature the two best teams, that is the most satisfying game and that provides the best closure for the season.

Just look at this past year in football and basketball. In football there were two teams, from the two best conferences, that went undefeated. If for example one lost in an 8 team tournament and instead perhaps Alabama played Iowa (2 losses, not a conference champion) how many people would feel satisfied with that? Not many. And yet this year a #5 seed will be playing in the basketball championship. If Duke (#1 seed) were to beat a #5 how could one say that they earn their championship by beating a team that humans thought were, at best, the 17th team? I don’t want Butler vs West Virginia (5 vs 2 seeds). I want the two best teams; I wanted Kansas vs Kentucky. I want the teams that will put, at least 8 first rounders into the NBA. I want the powerhouse teams that give me the knowledge that they are indeed the best team. If Butler wins, who is going to say that they are better than Kansas, or Kentucky? That’s what I thought.

The BCS may not be perfect, but it does its job better than March Madness. Fans forget that a post season is to decide who was the best team that year. If a team has a poor regular season there is a reason, they simply are not good and therefore do not deserve to be playing in the championship. The BCS understands this; March Madness lives off the idea that an undeserving team could win the championship.

Cheers,

Dr. Bruce Banner

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