My Amish Ways, or the Last of the Technikans

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 I admit it.  I am always one of the last of the converts when it comes to technology. 

When CDs first came out, I remember my friends raving about how great they sounded.  Or how one can skip from one song to the next without waiting on the cassette to go forward or backward to the next song.  But oh no.  I didn’t want to give up my cassettes.  For one thing, as a notorious music lover and collector of tunes I had a serious amount of tapes I had amassed over the years.  I even had my own mixes that I put together and gave to buddies of mine who wanted to,  ummm let’s just say have something romantic to listen to with their girlfriends or wives.  If I switch to CDs, what would I do with all of these tapes?  And damn I can get Ice Cube’s new tape for $11.99 but the CD is like $18.99!  When CDs first came out, that was what they were costing off the top.  Puuleeeese! 

Then I bought my first CD player.  It was a single Sony model that I hooked up next to my double cassette high fi model.  It was a whole new world.  After hearing the sound that was the most crisp I had ever experienced, I went to the music store and bought almost $300 worth of music.  The first order was to buy music I heard growing up, and then get the ones to match the best of what I had on tape.  I now have thousands of CDs from Miles Davis to Boney James, from Stevie Wonder to Dan Fogelberg, Pat Benatar and everything in between.  I had it made right?

Nope!  Then they came out with MP3 players.  It took quite a while but eventually someone gave me an Ipod and between pod-casting the Jim Rome show and downloading much of my personal music collection, along with music from the library that I didn’t have to buy, I have over 12,000 songs at the touch of my fingers.  This must be heaven!

One would think I would learn my lesson and  get with the times quicker.  Most of my adult life has been spent working in areas where technology was the way we got the job done.  And new system upgrades were the norm.  But I’m still slow to personal technology change. 

I won’t even get into DVDs.  I have plenty of them but only after I amassed hundreds of VHS tapes full of old basketball games, movies and PBS documentaries. 

When I really think about it though,  I’ve learned that there are two reasons for my slow progression in embracing these helpful and often better tools.  First, I am just a person who is slow to change.  I can get set in my ways and set in the comfort of my habits.  Once I learn a thing and can operate it well, I don’t like changing it.  The second reason is that I am afraid of the technology.  I don’t feel confident that I can pick it up quickly. 

I am reminded of how people created these myspace pages years ago.  I heard about them over and over but just refused to mess with it.  I was afraid that I could not navigate through it proficiently.  By the time I got around to it, it was all but outdated.  My boy Rich for instance was already doing a blog.  I recall leaving a comment on one of his blogger friends blog, and I left my myspace page link.  She commented back to me,  “Man, your still on myspace?  You need to get a blog.” 

Sigh… dang!  I must be 5 years behind on everything!

Rich tried to show me the blogging ropes.   But you know how that is.  Richard is very technologically savvy.  He has a natural talent for it.  So he ran through it as if I were in college rather than the Sesame Street level of teaching that I really needed.  Eventually I stood up and faced the learning curve necessary to start this one. 

This morning I decided to go ahead with the next step in my personal technology growth.  The GPS!

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Yes indeed for years I thought I was the man with my Yahoo and Google map directions.  Too often however they are difficult to read especially in rual areas, or when I’m in another city.  Sometimes the directions are the long way to get somewhere or flat out wrong.  Of course driving and looking at directions isn’t the safest thing to do either.  It’s stressful trying to figure these directions when they name a street that doesn’t have a street sign on it when you approach it.  Or when you have a street that is also named a number.  One major artery in St. Louis for instance is called Lindbergh Blvd.  But it’s also called Hwy 67.  (Though it’s not a highway.)  If someone told me to go to Hwy 67 I would know where to go.  If I were not from here, I would be like, “Dammit!  I don’t see no 67, I see Lindbergh!”

Sports officiating has really brought me down to my directional knees as I go to these schools and ball fields in places I have never been to in my natural life.  So once again as Usher would say, “Here I Stand.”  Today I will make the step, pay the financial cost, and learn the ways of technology that will help my life run smoother.  I just hope the salesperson is not a jerk and will explain the basics to me without being condescending.

Cough, Cough! That Choking Sound in Boston

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard looks up at the scoreboard in the final seconds of 92-88 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of NBA Eastern Conference semifinals at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, Tuesday, May 12, 2009. ( Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel)

Let’s get this straight off the bat.  Dwight Howard is technically correct when he says that Stan Van Gundy sucked in his coaching moves against the Celtic’s last night. 

They didn’t pass this dude the ball in the fourth quarter till the end when the Celtics fouled him with the sole purpose of putting him on the free throw line so the team could not put up a three point shot.  The guard play was horrible and they flat out panicked! The decision making in running the offense was some of the worst I have ever seen in basketball period, let alone professional basketball.

Nevertheless Howard does not escape blame himself.  When I look at all the greats over time, Magic, Kareem, MJ, Kobe, Lebron, etc., these guys demand the ball in a time of crisis.  They may not hit the shot but dammit they are either going to take the shot or put the ball in play where they draw enough attention to themselves to open up an easy opportunity for others. 

I remember in the Finals one year when the Bulls played the Jazz.  It was the end of the game and the Bulls needed a bucket.   Jordan was heard in the huddle telling Steve Kerr, “When they double me be ready.”  Sure enough they doubled Jordan and he hit Kerr for the open jumper.  Swish!  Game over!

Once when the Celtics were at the end of a game behind a point, coach KC Jones was drawing up a play and Larry Bird interrupted him and simply said, “Forget all of that, (he didn’t say forget) just give me the ball.”  They got him the ball – Larry shoots – nothing but net, game over. 

Now I am not saying that Dwight Howard is Jordan, Magic, Bird, or Kobe.  What I am saying is that you are the best player on the team, the self proclaimed Superman.  And if the team is not getting you the ball you need to speak up during the game not just afterwards. 

I told a kid this recently after a game he lost that I was officiating.  It was easy to tell he was the best player on the team.  But he was a post player so he couldn’t pass it to himself.  Over and over again the guards shot the ball for misses in the last 10 minutes of the game, ignoring his post up positioning.  The lead they had was lost and so went the game.  Afterwards I could see his disappointment and frustration.  And I told him these words.  “Son, I know your the best player out here.  And I don’t care if your teammates aren’t passing you the ball or if the coach is calling your number during a timeout.  There is a time when every great player who clearly understands that he can make THE difference must demand the ball.  Tell your teammates in the huddle or on the court.  Tell your coach who may not see what you see on the court.  Don’t be scared if you can back it up.  Take responsibility and be a leader out there.”

Same thing applies.  Dwight is a top power forward in the NBA.  When I think of Charles Barkley and Karl Malone back in the day, no way in hell would they not pass these dudes the ball in a playoff game.  They would kick somebody’s ass before that happens.

So yea, Dwight was technically right.  Shaq called Van Gundy “The Master of Panic” and he may be proven right.  But the NBA is a players league and Dwight has been in it long enough to know that.  If you don’t demand the ball then you can’t talk in the press conference.

Sorry Mark, A Blog Apology is No Apology At All

I’ve always liked Mark Cuban for the most part.  His fire and enthusiasm puts a different face on pro sports ownership which is usually full of stuffy blow-hards.  Sometimes he brings up issues that would otherwise go unnoticed in the NBA such as questionably inconsistent officiating.  I was even disappointed when MLB would not allow him to purchase the Cubs. 

Cuban is an innovator and is a brilliant guy who hustles like a hungry man in whatever he is involved in.  I respect that.  But what makes him great is also what makes him stink at times.  Sometimes his mouth writes checks that even his rich bank account can’t cash. 

It’s not unusual for Cuban to make remarks at the officials during games, and sometimes even to opposing players.  His is famous for making comments to the media as well as post on his blog to express himself.  But what he did the other day in pointing at the mother of a Denver Nuggets’ player and calling her son a thug was just way over the top and not befitting the owner of a sports franchise. 

What is worse is that while folks all over the sports world were calling for Cuban to apologize quickly, he waited and let it stew over the entire weekend.  Then when he offered his weak excuse ladened apology it came by way of his blog.

That is just plain WEAK!  The fact of the matter is, he pointed his finger, and disrepected the mother of an NBA player.  He didn’t make his comments Saturday on the blog.  So why does he think an online apology would suffice? 

See that’s the best and worst thing about a blog.  One can really share important information or insight.  One can also hide behind the words typed on a computer screen to say the things they are too afraid to say in real life. 

Cuban needs to man up and speak face to face with both Kenyon Martin and his mother.  Anything else is just sheer cowardice!

Catholic Priest: To Marry or Not!

The Rev. Alberto Cutie was removed from his duties after pictures showed him bare-chested with a woman.

I am not Catholic but sometimes I do find these subject matters interesting.  In the wake of this latest controversy with Rev. Alberto Cutie I listened to a program on the radio and they had a discussion with a religion reporter, a religion professor, and the editor of the Catholic World Report.

One of the topics they discussed was whether the argument for priest to marry or not is more of a political one than a religious one.  What do you think?

Should some priest be allowed to marry?  I say some because the program noted that it’s not uncommon for a minister who was married before converting to Catholicism and became Catholic priest.  They get to keep their wives and families as well as serve in their flock.  Is this hypocritical? 

Some believe that celibacy is a gift that is particular to a person.  So if he/she has that desire and gift it should be a choice but not a mandate.

I have also spoken to some Catholics who take the hard line that if one wants to be a priest, celibacy is what the proper order is and if you can’t hang then don’t be a priest. 

Anyone who wants to give an intelligent take is welcome to comment.  I would love to hear especially from practicing Catholics on both sides of the issue.

Happy Mother’s Day

 

BB&G sends out Happy Mother’s Day wishes to all of the mom’s out there.  I especially want to bless my very own mother Scarlet.  She is not only my mom, but also my first love, confidant and an abiding faithful friend. 

I love you mom~

*Pictured – (L)  Mom at the age of 19 (her guess) (M) Me and my sister with mom a very long time ago! (R) Mom recently on a cruise.

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Roland S. Martin on Fatherhoood

Roland Martin says fathers across America are failing their children by shirking their responsibilities.

 From CNN.com

“I’ll kill all y’all.”

Imagine looking at the man whose DNA you carry standing in your home, telling you those chilling words, as he wields a shotgun. The frightening image is a scary thought. But according to former Major League Baseball star Darryl Strawberry, it was an actual scene, one that begins his book, “Straw: Finding My Way.” I vividly remember the towering home runs hit by the former star, who played for four big league teams, including the New York Mets and Yankees — and of course, the many times he was in the news for failing drug tests, beating wives, getting cancer twice, going to prison. He was a man fighting enormous demons.

Yet as I read the book, there is one consistent theme that runs throughout and that sheds a spotlight on a figure that continues to plague neighborhoods all across the country: the missing-in-action father. Strawberry makes a point repeatedly in “Straw” that he does not blame his dad for the trials and tribulations in his life; he says all decisions he made willingly. But he does speak to the issue of having a father who, by Strawberry’s account, while technically in the house, was a raging drunk who spent his paycheck doing what he wanted, showing no love and affection towards his children, viciously beating Strawberry and his brother, all while telling them that they would be nothing in life.

“I grew up in an inner city, South Central Los Angeles. When you grow up in the inner cities, most young men don’t have a father figure around. Most mothers are raising the kids,” he told me in an interview. He later said, “I loved playing baseball; I loved playing basketball; excelling and achieving my goals was my own personal goals, but inside, I just never loved myself. I can remember the times when I excelled in baseball and I [would] do extremely well and the cheers and the glitter and everything that came along with it, but you know what, Roland? When I went home at night, here was I again, me myself, [asking] ‘Who am I?’

The cynical in our world undoubtedly will say, “Who cares about a drugged-out, washed-up ballplayer?” But the mental damage that Strawberry says wreaked havoc on him as a child cannot be discounted, and it’s something that millions of young children, especially boys, are growing up with every day. This isn’t a tale of the stereotypical black athlete who grows up with the black father not in the home, leading to the cycle of violence and lack of family unity we see all around the country. Strawberry’s dad was there.

But, according to the former ballplayer, he was a horrible father. And right now, there are also young white boys in suburban and rural America who have dads in the home, physically, yet they have mentally and emotionally checked out. And the same for Hispanics and Asians.  It has gotten to the point that a mother is considered essential in a family, but a father is optional, expendable, and increasingly irrelevant.

I remember watching an OnStar commercial. And as the company touted the features, it showed a father driving his child around, and when the kid starts to cry, the dad freaks out and has to quickly call the mom to calm the baby down. I’m watching that and saying, “Man, it’s your child, too! So calm it!” Then there is the commercial — I don’t even remember what they were pitching — of two or three kids in the kitchen making a mess after spilling the cereal. The hapless and hopeless dad looks at them and says, “Where is your mom?” Every time that commercial comes on I scream at the TV, “Where is your mom? Where are your parenting skills, you ingrate!”

 See, I take seriously the importance of fathers — men — in the lives of children. My wife and I don’t have children of our own, but we are raising four of my nieces because they were struggling at home. They need to see a husband and a wife caring for them, but also instilling the right values in their lives. I am convinced that our city streets have turned into killing fields because dads have abdicated their responsibility in the raising of their children.

Yes, mom is vital. But there is something different about dad speaking, lecturing, cajoling, disciplining, embracing, loving and caring. Our schools are filled with children losing their minds, and teachers unable to control them. When that happens, it’s typically mom, grandma or an aunt coming to the school to deal with the problem. Ask a teacher or principal today and they will say they rarely see dads.

My mom has gotten ticked at times because I often talk more about my father than her on TV or radio. It’s not that I don’t love or appreciate her. But I do it because it is rare to hear men, especially black men, speaking affirmatively about their fathers. I know what it means to have a dad raising and caring for you, and not seeing his child in a drive-by style, or just sending a check. Dads must be present and accounted for, playing a vital role in their children’s life.

That’s why I appreciated it when President Obama spoke about the issue of fatherhood on the campaign trail. We all know the story of his father leaving when he was 2 years old. And yes, he was able to be successful. But for every Obama, there are numerous boys who aren’t able to hold it together.

I’ve called on pastors nationwide to stop the stream of momma, grandmother, aunts and female cousins coming to the altar for baby dedications with no man in sight. That pastor should say, “Until I personally meet with the father, I will not dedicate this child.” Somebody has to hold that man accountable for his actions. It’s time that men hold their “boys” accountable.

Actor Hill Harper had a friend who once said that he hadn’t seen his child in some time, but he found time to play basketball with Harper. Hill said, “Unless you call your child now, we can’t play ball.” See, Hill had to force him to accept his responsibilities. The failure of manhood in America — fatherhood — has reached epidemic proportions. And unless our religious and cultural institutions say enough is enough, we are going to see another generation of children growing up with dad absent and unaccounted for. It’s time for men to man up, so children can grow up with an equal amount of love and affection from both parents.

Playoff Basketball ~ Man’s Game!

Kobe and Artest

Well as Ice Cube used to say, “Once again it’s on!”

I had a good talk with my man Larry Blue the other night about this series.  I knew from Game 1 Monday night that even as the Lake Show looked flat after the week off this series was going to be a tough physical one.  This Houston Rocket team is tough and they are not going to back down.  The Lakers are no push-overs either as illustrated by D-Fish putting Scola on his ASS taking one for the team. 

The refs have a tough job with this one.  Technicals were flying as fast as the words exchanged by the players.  Hell referee Joey Crawford was serving T’s like Burger King serves Whoppers…. Often.  Talk about veteran official!  And Houston’s coach had to send one of his players to the locker room in the middle of the game cause he obviously forgot who the coach was. 

Kobe was Kobe just tearing Shane Battier up like Manny Pacquaio did Ricky Hatton the other night. 

The Lakers toughness was definitely tested last season when they played the Celtics.  From the looks of last night’s game they have learned the lesson. 

Kobe summed the situation up best.  

“It’s good for us.  You have a challenge here in front of you. You want to be champions, you have to respond to it.”

This will definitely be the most intriguing series post Celtics v. Bulls!

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Cry Me a River! The Man Who Just Won’t Go Away!

There are a few things that are sure in life like death and taxes.  Add to those the yearly waffling of prima donna quarterback Brett Favre.  This guy is a mess.  He goes from team to team trying to get over on the Pakers. 

I am so tired of his act and even more tired of the guys on ESPN excusing this mess by saying that Favre “still has the fire” to play.  WTH?  Fire or no fire he was horrible last year.  He rebelled against coach Eric Mangini when he was asked to be more slective and not just chuck the ball like he was on the playground.  And he doesn’t embrace teammates outside of the cameras and fake news conferences. 

The fact of the matter is that Brett Favre loves the limelight and cameras.  He can play that Mississippi card all he wants.  He is as much Madison Avenue craving as Dennis Rodman was back in the day.