Category: Not Politics

Muhammad Ali has passed away

Former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali has passed away as a result of a respiratory illness. He was 74 years old at the time of his death.

Since many people of my generation are largely or completely unfamiliar with who Ali was, I’ll describe who Ali was.

Ali, who was born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942, was one of the greatest athletes in the history of modern sports. As an amateur boxer, Ali won the gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the Games of the XVII Olympiad in Rome, Italy in 1960. Ali turned professional not long after his Olympic victory, and, in 1964, he won the World Heavyweight Championship by technical knockout (TKO) after Sonny Liston failed to answer the bell for the seventh round of the fight. Ali adopted the name Muhammad Ali not long after winning the title, and continued to win fight after fight.

Ali was a fighter, in and out of the ring. In addition to his legendary boxing ability in the ring, Ali was also famous for his opposition to the unjustified Vietnam War and the U.S. military draft for it. After being convicted of dodging the draft in 1967, Ali, a conscientious objector to military conflict, took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court and won; his conviction was overturned in 1971 by the nation’s highest court by unanimous decision, and Ali became a revered figure among those who sought to abolish the draft.

However, his suspension from boxing and the stripping of his world title lasted for over three years, and it wasn’t until 1970 that Ali returned to the ring. In 1971, Ali lost his first match as a professional against Joe Frazier, but Ali won the 1974 rematch against Frazier. In 1975, Ali regained his world title by knocking out George Foreman in a match dubbed The Rumble in the Jungle. Later that year, Ali won the Thrilla in Manilla against Frazier. Ali fought his last professional match in 1981, finishing his professional boxing career with a record of 56-5, with 37 of his wins by knockout (KO).

Ali was also famous for his speaking style, charisma, and his ability to grab the spotlight and own it. In fact, Ali was one of the few public figures in modern history to be able to effectively control and define his own public reputation. Ali turned trash-talking into a beautiful art form.

If one of Ali’s famous quotes could summarize him, it would be, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

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The latest-to-be-discovered species on the planet is named after Ruth Bader Ginsburg

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The title and hyperlink of this blog post has been edited to correct a spelling error.


The latest-to-be-discovered species of life on Earth has been officially named in honor a true American badass:

Scientists from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History researching female praying mantis genitalia have named a newly discovered species after an unlikely subject: Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The new species, Ilomantis ginsburgae, comes from Madagascar and is the first praying mantis species to be delineated by observing the female genitalia, as opposed to the male genitalia that are generally the standard for classifying species.

The researchers said they named the mantis for the 83-year-old justice for two reasons: Her “commitment to women’s rights and gender equality,” and her penchant for wearing a jabot — Ginsburg’s signature lace collar, which looks much like the insect’s neck plate.

The Ginsburg Praying Mantis (scientific name: Ilomantis ginsburgae) is officially named after Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a progressive Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Very awesome!

George Zimmerman proves once again that he has no sense of decency

George Zimmerman, who is best-known for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, is now in the news yet again. This time, he’s selling off the gun that he used to kill an innocent teenager:

George Zimmerman says he is auctioning off the gun he used to kill Miami teen Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman made the announcement on Wednesday night during a newscast on Orlando’s WOFL television.

The online auction starts Thursday. The opening bid is set at $5,000.

I wouldn’t pay a damn penny for any firearm, let alone $5,000+ for a firearm that George Zimmerman used to kill an innocent black teenager. Zimmerman has absolutely no sense of decency, and, quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of Zimmerman being treated like a celebrity by the corporate media.

U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team fights for equal pay in sports

While the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) is struggling badly in its efforts to qualify for the 2018 FIFA (Men’s) World Cup in Russia, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) is winning on the field and fighting for justice in front of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

On Thursday, five of the biggest stars on the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) — Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo — filed a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) with wage discrimination.

The players, who were all key members of the Women’s World Cup championship team last year, say that while the popularity and success of the USWNT generates revenue for the federation, they are still paid less than their male counterparts.

According to USWNT member Becky Sauerbrunn, the pay discrimination complaint is supported by the entire USWNT roster:

The USWNT members are being very honest when they say that they’re being discriminated against by the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF), which is responsible for front-office management of both the women’s and men’s national soccer teams here in the United States. In fact, USWNT members get paid far less than their male counterparts, despite the fact that the USWNT is expected to become responsible for generating more of the USSF’s revenue than the USMNT, as well as the fact that the USWNT is the reigning Women’s World Cup champions while the USMNT may not be able to qualify for their World Cup. In fact, USWNT members have been paid as little as 40% of their male counterparts, despite being considerably more successful than their male counterparts.

Once again, the USWNT is proving that they are badass American heroes on and off the field. I support the fight for equal pay for equal play.

 

Why 4K/UltraHD/2160p television will never become the common standard of American television

You may have heard about 4K, Ultra HD, or 2160p television (they’re all the same thing, and I’ll refer to it as 4K in the rest of the blog post for simplicity). Next month, television viewers with a 4K television set, DirecTV satellite television service, and the right DirecTV programming package and equipment will be able to watch a special feed of The Masters golf tournament that will provide coverage of holes 11, 12, and 13 of the Augusta National Golf Club’s main golf course in 4K. The Masters is an interesting choice for the first live 4K television broadcast in U.S. history that I’m aware of, since The Masters has historically been behind the times when it has come to golf broadcasting technology and practices.

There are several reasons why I believe that 4K will not become the standard format of American television broadcasting, or, for that matter, video broadcasting and streaming in general:

  • Most 4K televisions are very large – I live in a house that is approximately 1,000 square feet in size, and it would be difficult to fit a 4K television in any of the three rooms we currently have 720p/1080i-capable HDTVs. Very few 4K-capable television sets are smaller than 40 inches, and many of them are much larger than that.
  • Making 4K-compatible computer monitors (especially the case for laptops), tablets, and smartphones is very difficult, if not impossible – These devices have screens that are much smaller than the screen of a typical 4K television set. Try fitting 8,294,400 pixels on a smartphone screen, and you’ll get a general idea of what I’m talking about.
  • Our television infrastructure was built for 720p, 1080i, and 1080p, not 4K – Transmitting a 4K television signal takes up a lot more of the available bit rate than 720p, 1080i, or 1080p. If it’s even possible to transmit 4K over-the-air, transmitting an over-the-air 4K signal would take up most, if not all, of a 6 MHz over-the-air digital television transmission channel’s bit rate, leaving no room for over-the-air subchannels in any format. Cable and satellite television providers use most or all of their available bitrate to provide hundreds of 720p, 1080i, and 1080p channels and other viewing options, so it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to provide more than a few 4K options to their viewers.
  • It would require faster internet connections to stream 4K video over an internet connection – I have an internet connection that provides roughly 18 megabytes per second of combined upload/download speed, and I have little trouble streaming 720p, 1080i, or 1080p video. However, streaming 4K video would require a considerably faster internet connection.

While 4K will probably become commonly used in some practices, such as movie theaters and video games, to expect 4K to become the television industry standard for broadcasting television is laughably absurd.

NASCAR’s stupidest rule change ever causes a wreck in Truck Series race

NASCAR has a total of three national stock car racing divisions. The series that virtually all NASCAR fans are familiar with is the Sprint Cup Series(NSCS), the highest level of NASCAR-sanctioned racing. The second-highest level of NASCAR-sanctioned racing is the Xfinity Series (NXS), a series designed as a developmental series, but most races are won by drivers who compete full-time in the Sprint Cup Series.

The third-highest level of NASCAR-sanctioned racing is the Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS), a series that features full-fledged race cars designed to look like half-ton pickup trucks like the Toyota Tundra, the Ford F-150, and the Chevrolet Silverado. For this season, NASCAR made a rule change, which only applies in the NCWTS, in which the race cannot be run under green flag conditions for more than 20 minutes continuously at paved tracks (the caution clock rule will not be used at Eldora Speedway, the only dirt track where the NCWTS races, due to the only NCWTS event there being a multi-segment race). If 20 minutes has elapsed from either the initial start of the race or the most recent restart, NASCAR officials will throw the yellow flag, which requires the field to slow down, not pass each other, and line up behind the pace car, for a few laps. Remember, this rule change only applies in the NCWTS, not (to my knowledge) any NASCAR-sanctioned regional series or the two highest-level NASCAR national series.

In the first NCWTS race where the caution clock rule was in effect, held last night at Daytona International Speedway, no competition caution was needed, because the caution clock never hit zero. However, at one point in the race, the caution clock came very close to hitting zero. Daytona is a track where a NCWTS truck takes about 50 seconds or so to complete a lap (although slightly shorter if multiple trucks are lined up in a manner to use the airflow around the trucks to go faster as a group), so a driver who is at or near the front of the field can make a pit stop under green-flag conditions and, barring any difficulties in the pit crew completing the stop, exit the pits before being lapped by any lead-lap car that chose not to pit on the same lap. Because of that, several drivers attempted to legally game the system by pitting under the green flag right before the caution clock hit zero. That resulted in drivers Cody Coughlin and Spencer Gallagher spinning their trucks in an attempt to enter pit road under green-flag conditions; Coughlin hit a steel-and-foam energy reduction (SAFER) barrier between the runoff area on the inside of the track before the pit entrance and the garage area, and Gallagher collided with Christopher Bell as Bell entered pit road. Bell’s car spun into the pit boxes closest to the entrance to pit road; luckily, no trucks were pitting in those pit boxes at the time of the crash. Had there been trucks pitting in the pit boxes near the pit entrance, Bell’s car would have likely spun into pitting trucks and/or pit crew members, which would have likely resulted in injuries to pit crew members.

The NCWTS caution clock rule has had the unintended consequence of making NASCAR’s third-highest series more dangerous to compete in, and NASCAR should scrap the rule entirely. Thankfully, this rule won’t be in effect for Xfinity Series or Sprint Cup Series events.

Also, on a side note, Vince Welch, who does play-by-play commentary for NCWTS races for Fox-owned FS1, is an absolutely awful play-by-play announcer. Welch doesn’t talk a whole lot during the race, mostly letting color commentators Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip do most of the talking during the race. When Welch does talk, he doesn’t show much excitement, in stark contrast to, for example, Mike Joy, FOX’s Sprint Cup series play-by-play announcer, Ralph Shaheen, who did some NCWTS races for FS1 last season due to the death of Steve Byrnes, or Rick Allen, who is easily NBC’s best sportscaster (to the point that Allen should have a much higher-profile job at NBC, such as anchoring NBC Nightly News or doing play-by-play for NBC Sunday Night Football) and does Sprint Cup races for NBC and NBCSN.

You’re not supporting Serena Williams by painting your face black

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post uses Australian English spelling rules.


At the women’s singles semi-final of this year’s Australian Open tennis major, at least two fans were seen on television holding a sign reading “Keep calm and be Serena” and…wait for it…wearing black face paint. “Serena” is Serena Williams of the United States, who won her semi-final match against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and went on to lose the grand final to Angelique Kerber of Germany. While I’m not a fan of tennis at all, I do know enough about the sport to tell you that Serena is probably the top athlete in all of sports globally.

If you’re wearing blackface, you might claim to be supporting Serena, but you’re actually being very racist.

Blackface was commonly used in theatre plays for many, many years, with usage in the United States being commonplace well into the 1960’s. In blackface performances, white actors would wear black face paint to portray black people. For fans to employ racism that the theatre industry used is absolutely unacceptable, and something that Serena herself finds to be very offensive. I’m surprised that there are many Australians who are very racist, to tell you the truth.

No, I don’t use a FitBit…I just develop an exercise routine

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Although I didn’t follow this advice myself, please consult a physician before starting any exercise regimen. Additionally, the exercise regimen I described in this blog post is my own exercise regimen, and others may find a different exercise regimen better suited to them than mine.


As someone who has battled with obesity since childhood and has been trying to get in shape in recent months, I’ve become well aware of the rise of activity trackers, such as FitBit, Apple Watch, Garmin Vivofit, and so on. These are electronic devices, usually worn in a similar manner to a wrist watch, that are designed to monitor number of steps taken, heart rate, and so on.

However, there are two reasons why I don’t have or use these types of devices. First, they’re very expensive. Many models of these activity tracker devices are a few hundred dollars in price. I can find far better things to spend a few hundred dollars on. Second, In the case of FitBit, they’re facing a class-action suit over allegations that they give inaccurate heart rate information. FitBit users in California, Colorado, and Wisconsin have filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that two FitBit models are giving out wildly inaccurate information about the user’s heart rate:

Fitbit customers from California, Colorado, and Wisconsin filed a class-action lawsuit on Tuesday, alleging that two 2015 Fitbit models—the Charge HR and the Surge—don’t offer accurate heart rate readings. As the Verge, which first reported the news, points out, Fitbit also dealt with a class-action suit in 2014. In that case, customers were getting rashes from the Fitbit Force.

In the current suit, Fitbit users assert that the LED “PurePulse” heart rate monitor in the Charge HR and Surge doesn’t offer accurate readings. “Plaintiffs and many consumers like them have experienced—and testing confirms—that the PurePulse Trackers consistently mis-record heart rates by a very significant margin, particularly during exercise.” Good thing no one uses their Fitbits while exercising. One plaintiff claims that her heartbeat was actually double what her Fitbit said during a personal training session.

You can read the class-action lawsuit here.

For someone with a medical condition that requires them to have their heart rate and/or other vital signs monitored during exercise, getting inaccurate information from an activity tracker could lead to health problems not being noticed until it’s too late.

I’ve spent several months trying to find an exercise regimen that I’m comfortable with, and, in the past week, I’ve stuck to the following exercise regimen:

  • 45 minutes of racewalking — Believe it or not, racewalking is actually an Olympic sport, although I’m not a competitive racewalker. Basically, racewalking is similar to running, but with the requirement that at least part of one foot be in contact with the ground at all times. I racewalk around my kitchen table, I time myself using the kitchen timer function on the microwave in my kitchen.
  • Several minutes of weightlifting using detergent bottles filled with water — Instead of using dumbbells, kettlebells, or other types of actual weights, I use a pair of 75 fl. oz. bottles of laundry detergent filled with water (roughly 4.9 lb. each) as weights. I can do many dumbbell and kettlebell exercises with these weights.
  • Several minutes of unweighted exercises — Types of exercises I do without weights include lunges, stretching, arm circles, leg circles, calf raises, leg raises, and standing crunches, and squats, among others. Sometimes, I’ll do punches and kicks as well.

Most importantly, I don’t have to spend a ton of money to keep that exercise regimen.