These are the best long-form articles I’ve read recently:
Courtesy Outside Magazine
- What are borders for anyways?—There was a time when you had to commit a crime, or be suspected of committing one, to have your fingerprints and photograph taken by an officer of the state. Now all you need to do is take a trip.
- Examining illegal birth names—Some working-class names aren’t just looked down upon, they’re illegal. But these laws, which stretch from New Zealand to Tennessee, are often more about oppression than public decency.
- Why this bubble or eventual recession will be different—What we’re seeing today isn’t a dot-com bubble. If anything, it’s a not-com bubble—a period of inflated expectations for companies that had no business being valued like pure tech companies in the first place.
- What it’s like to eat meal replacement shakes for two years—Whether nutrient shakes are the food of the future, however, is up for debate. Julie Heseman, a principal at food service industry consulting firm Foodservice IP, thinks this type of product won’t take off for one reason: it’s just not tasty enough.
- Inside football’s campaign to save the game—Nationally, high school participation in 11-man football has fallen more than 10 percent since 2009. Here’s what the game is doing to attract athletes.
- “Kids these days” are actually better, even if you don’t understand them—Prediction: Today’s “OK boomer” Gen Z will complain about the youth one day. Blame human memory.
- Don’t be a jerk to your online humor editor—It should go without saying, but angrily replying to a rejection will get you nowhere.
- Chaos on top of the mountain—The story behind the viral photo and deathly May day on Mount Everest this year.
- Why a pop star walked across America—Years after he took that pill in Ibiza, Grammy nominee Mike Posner left behind his life in L.A. to go on a 2,851-mile journey in search of redemption, motivation, struggle, and triumph.
Though I dabbled with Atari in my nascent years, I was raised on Nintendo. I have so many fond memories of the console because I spent so much of my childhood with it. Don’t get me wrong: I think gaming today is just as good (if not better) than it was back then. But one generally enjoys reminiscing about the past. I am no different.
Allow me to indulge.
The year was 1988. Christmas was quickly approaching. My brother and I had heard really good things about this game called Tecmo Bowl, so we asked our mom to buy it for us. About a month before Christmas we spotted the first gift under the tree that was the size and shape of a game cartridge box. Being the busy woman that my mother was at the time, plus the fact that she had to track presents for six total children, my brother and I couldn’t help ourselves. So we prematurely unwrapped the present after school one afternoon without her noticing.
Sure enough, it was the much-anticipated and sought-after Tecmo Bowl, starring the untackle-able and greatest athlete of all-time, Bo Jackson. Of course, we started playing immediately. Once the first play session was over, we re-wrapped the gift and slide it back under the tree at night. Next day, rinse and repeat. Pretty soon we started inviting friends over to play as we were the first ones on the block to get the game. By the end we were so brazen, we didn’t even care when my mother approached our room, opened the door to see a group of boys playing “some video game,” and just assumed it was a title we already owned.
On Christmas day, my none-the-wiser mother handed me and my brother a tattered, repeatedly-tapped, re-wrapped present, and with a sweet smile asked which of us wanted to open it. It was no use. We had all grown tired of the game after playing it daily for a month straight. I hope our feigned faces still had enough smile on them to show our appreciation for the great gift it was and will forever be.
This story first published Dec. 12, 2005 on Infendo, a video game blog I founded and later sold.
Football began in earnest last week. Not that kind. The oblong American kind. The “hoorah!” kind.
For now, I couldn’t be happier. BYU‘s undefeated and ranked 25th in the country. Seahawks look dominant enough to repeat as Superbowl champions. And even the most jaded fans are full of hope, smiles, and optimism right now. That always makes the world a more enjoyable place to live.
Of course, that’ll change as the season wears on. For most of us, frowns are just around the corner. But there’s a simple trick I’ve learned over the years to avoid letting an uncompetitive or unlucky sportsball team ruin your night, day, week, month, autumn, or even year. It is this: Embrace fair weather fan status. Be proud of it. Bandwagons are fun.
Similar to Madden NFL, the cable sports network now highlights the playmaker with a under-ring (as seen 1:05 into video). Me likey.
From NPR’s book review of Scorecasting:
When they examined attendance data for the Cubs, one of the unluckiest teams in professional sports who have not won a World Series in 102 years, the authors found it to be remarkably stable — around 90 percent — no matter if the team was at the top of the league or on a losing streak. Fair-weather fans, it seems, actually incentivize a team to win; team owners and coaches will work harder to win games so they can sell more tickets.
Not only are fair-weather fans better for the organization, though. Being one is better for oneself, as fair-weather fans are more at liberty to chose entertainment options that “work for them,” as opposed to staying involved with a mediocre (aka boring) team.
In other words: Go, Cougars! (So long as they’re winning.)
The money quote: “In the 75-year history of the wire service era, CBSSports.com research showed that it is nearly impossible to win a national championship at the highest level in major college football without cheating. Among the schools that have won titles since 1936, when human polls became the accepted form of determining the sport’s champion, only BYU has never had a major violation in football.”
Mixing camping with must-see TV?
Honestly, how much could this fan be “enjoying” a game of football on a three inch screen while camping, especially since he probably has 50″ HDTV at home? Grow a pair and pick one: Get away from it all in the great outdoors or stay home to watch a game you’re really interested in. Or if you must, DVR.
Seriously, what kind of sick society are we turning into? The equation is simple.
Because they’re constantly chaperoning 120 players, “most of them 18-22 years of age,” reports the Associated Press:
Joker Phillips is 47 and in his first season as Kentucky’s head coach after 20 years as an assistant. He said he has made sure to keep good habits despite the demands of the job. “I still work out every day. I still get the same amount of sleep. I just think this game is important to me, but my family and personal health is more important,” he said. “I am a competitor and I do want to win, but I’m not going to let this game ruin my life.”
Photographer had me pose like that because I was a running back. Or at least I tried to be.
Fun fact: Those Puma “soccer” cleats are actually hand-me-downs from my older brother—an understandable side effect of growing up with five siblings.
Photo taken in 1993, after numerous bouts of Bull in the Ring. Image courtesy Cathy Snow (Hi, Mom!)
If you like learning about things like shoulder stripes, face guard colors, and all things football fashion, this is a must-read. There’s even a little trivia. Case in point: of the 120 top divisional schools, only two teams wear white at home: LSU and Georgia Tech (Go, Jackets!).
Go, Cougars! Protect this house. Show them You-Dubs who’s boss.
If there’s one thing I don’t like about BYU fans, it’s that some of them actually cheer for Utah when the latter are playing abroad “because it’s good for the Mountain West Conference.”
Sickos. (Didn’t anyone teach them that the enemy of my enemy is my friend?)
Thankfully, this lame behavior by Cougar fans should finally die as Utah this week became the newest member of the PAC-10 conference. So from now on, I expect Cougar Nation to root for the everlasting demise of the Utes.
In other words: Go, Washington. Go, Washington State. Go, Oregon. Go, Oregon State. Go, Cal. Go, Stanford. Go, USC. Go, UCLA. Go, Arizona. Go, Arizona State. Go, Colorado.
But most of all, go, BYU!
You can blame England—the inventors of the game—not America for the word.
As the U.S. Embassy in London explains, “Soccer’s etymology is not American but British. It comes from an abbreviation for Association Football, the official name of the sport. For obvious reasons, English newspapers in the 1880s couldn’t use the first three letters of Association as an abbreviation, so they took the next syllable, S-O-C. With the British penchant for adding ‘-er’ at the end of words—punter, footballer, copper, and rugger—the word ‘soccer’ was born, over a hundred years ago, in England, the home of soccer. Americans adopted it and kept using it because we have our own indigenous sport called football.”
Still don’t like the word soccer? You can file an official complaint with South Africa, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and a handful of others in addition to the U.S. who all refer to the sport as “soccer.”
I played football for three years from 6th through 8th grade. I was a running back, and I loved hitting people while holding the ball—lower your head and boom! On the other hand, I hated being blindsided. And one drill is the mother of all blind side tackles: Bull in the Ring.
For a pansy example of the drill, watch this video at minute 4:45. Now for the reality as a youngling playing in the deep South. First, just about everyone who plays football hates Bull in the Ring, except those crazy jacked up players that aren’t quite right in the head. As its name implies, one player is encircled by the entire team. In my case, it was around 18 players usually. So 17 vs. 1. Nice odds, eh?
Wikipedia highlights: “In contrast to many of the star players of his era, Sanders was noted for his on-field humility. Despite his flashy playing style, Sanders was rarely seen celebrating after the whistle was blown. Instead, he preferred to hand the ball to a referee or congratulate his teammates… he never spiked the ball after a touchdown.”
I had the privilege of watching Sanders live in 1988 at Oklahoma State, while my father was a professor there. He is the greatest running back I’ve ever seen.
BYU committed 14 penalties for an unthinkable total of 138 lost yards in their 55-47 loss to lowly Tulsa on Saturday.
Who’s to blame for the slipshod play? Head coach Bronco Mendenhall — the guy seemingly doesn’t discipline his players.
Said the coach after the game, “On the offensive side, we executed at our highest level.”
You did? Four sloppy turnovers and 138 lost yards (a large part of which were on offensive) are superlative execution? You’re living in la-la land if you think that, Mendenhall.
How about you make your entire team run 100 wind-sprints for every penalty committed, regardless of the offender? Do the same if not more for turnovers. Having never coached college football, I can guarantee those penalties, fumbles, and interceptions will rapidly decrease as a result.
You don’t have to win, just hold on to the freaking ball and don’t commit careless mistakes.
Mountain West Conference teams, BYU chief among them, have no case in whining and complaining about a lack of respect offered by mainstream media when compared to stalwart SEC, ACC, Big 10, and Pac 10 teams. How can you respect this kind of mediocrity?
The answer: you can’t.