Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Info on my Facebook business, Twitter, and Tumblr pages

Here's the URL to my Facebook business page. I update it fairly regularly, but still haven't put forth a great deal of effort yet in researching matters and attempting to make the most out of it. In any case, it can be perused here:


Up next is my Twitter page. I'm still not 100% certain what I'm doing on there yet, but feel I'm gradually getting the hang of it and am up to 14,501 followers. I update it daily with many of my own tweets, but also by retweeting some others'. It can be found here:


Lastly, here's my Tumblr page, which I've neglected quite a bit recently, but if you're at all curious, you can find it at the following link:


Weekly update of my book information

For new readers (and regular ones, I suppose), here's some information pertaining to my books.

All twelve of my books can be purchased in paperback form at the following site (and others):


The ten books I've written and released in the past 3 years (yes, I've been on a roll) can be purchased for much cheaper in Kindle form at the following link:


Week 16 NFL Predictions

Game: Tennessee at Jacksonville

Pick: Jacksonville - These could very well be the two worst teams in football this year (Oakland and Tampa may have an argument as well). While Jacksonville has shown some signs of improvement in recent weeks, however, it's felt as if Tennessee has gotten worse. With the game at home, I'll take the Jaguars by a field goal.



Game: Philadelphia at Washington

Pick: Philadelphia - Washington is a mess and has nothing but pride to play for over the final two weeks of the season. Philadelphia, meanwhile, finds itself a game back of Dallas in the NFC East and on the outside looking in as far as a Wild Card spot goes. So, to have any chance of making the playoffs, they'll likely have to win this one and their season finale against the Giants. With all of that in mind, I'm going to take the Eagles on the road by 10.



Game: San Diego at San Francisco

Pick: San Diego - Like with the before-mentioned game, one team has something to play for and the other doesn't. With their loss to Seattle last week, the 49ers fell to 7-7 and have been eliminated from playoff contention. San Diego is 8-6 and a game back of a Wild Card spot. So, like with the other Saturday game, I look for this game to play out in a similar fashion and for the team with something to play for, to come out on top. I'll take the Chargers by 4.



Game: Minnesota at Miami

Pick: Minnesota - Both teams are out of playoff contention, but while Minnesota has known this for a while and still seems to play like it means something, Miami was just eliminated this past week and has appeared to give up. The Dolphins have scored just 42 points in their past three games and appear to be anything but the potential Wild Card contender from earlier this year. I'll take the Vikings in a mild road upset by a field goal.



Game: Baltimore at Houston

Pick: Baltimore - This game makes me nervous. Baltimore's offense hasn't been clicking of late, and on the road against J.J. Watt and company, I have a difficult time seeing the offense start clicking again in this game. However, with Houston's quarterback situation kind of up in the air and Baltimore's run defense being one of the best in the league this year, I'm going to give the slight edge to the Ravens. I'll go with Baltimore by 6.



Game: Detroit at Chicago

Pick: Detroit - Jay Cutler hasn't been good at home this year, the Lions are fighting for an NFC North title, and with their defense being as great as it's been this year, I'm going to take the Lions at Soldier Field by a touchdown.



Game: Cleveland at Carolina

Pick: Carolina - Would you look at that? Carolina's won two in a row and Cleveland's lost four out of five. Regardless of who plays at quarterback for the Panthers, with the game at home and for as awful as Johnny Manziel and the Browns offense looked this past weekend, I'll go with Carolina by 4.



Game: Atlanta at New Orleans

Pick: Atlanta - Earlier this year, it had been said that New Orleans couldn't win on the road, couldn't win at home, and Atlanta couldn't win on the road. It now seems like New Orleans has trouble losing on the road and has trouble winning at home. Atlanta's also 4-0 against the NFC South (1-9 against everyone else). Assuming Julio Jones suits up, I'll give the slight edge to the Falcons. Atlanta by 3.



Game: Green Bay at Tampa Bay

Pick: Green Bay - Green Bay may only be 3-4 on the road this year, yet then again, Tampa Bay has just two wins overall. I'll go with the Packers to have a big bounce-back game in this one. I'll go with Green Bay by at least a couple of touchdowns.



Game: Kansas City at Pittsburgh

Pick: Pittsburgh - Outside of their win against lowly Oakland this past weekend, Kansas City has been struggling of late. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, while very average on the road, has been solid at home. I look for those trends to continue and for the Steelers to win this one by a touchdown.



Game: New England at NY Jets

Pick: New England - Rex Ryan has given Bill Belichick fits through the years. For as awful as the Jets secondary has been, though, I have a hard time seeing that happen in this contest. I'll go with the Patriots by at least 10.



Game; NY Giants at St. Louis

Pick: St. Louis - Look for the aggressive Rams defense to give Eli Manning fits, force a couple of turnovers, and be more effective offensively against the mediocre Giants defense than they were against the stout Arizona Cardinals defense. I'll take the Rams by 4.



Game: Buffalo at Oakland

Pick: Buffalo - After their great win at home against Green Bay on Sunday, this game has almost all the ingredients for a letdown for the Bills. The only missing ingredient would be a decent opponent, which the Raiders are not. Expect a close game, but I'll still take Buffalo by 4.



Game: Indianapolis at Dallas

Pick: Indianapolis - Dallas is an incredible 7-0 on the road this year. However, they're just 3-4 at home, and with stud tailback DeMarco Murray being listed as questionable for the game (that may be optimistic), I'm going to look for Andrew Luck and the Colts offense to get back to their old ways against the sub-par Cowboys defense. I'll go with Indy by 4.



Game: Seattle at Arizona

Pick: Seattle - It's really amazing what Bruce Arians has done with the injury-plagued Cardinals this year. They're 11-3 and will be starting their 4th different quarterback of the season in this game. I don't care how great of a coach Arians is, he's not going to be able to get his 4th-string quarterback Ryan Lindley to lead his team to victory over arguably the hottest team (and defense) in all of football. This is where Seattle takes the lead in the division. I'll take the Seahawks by 10.



Game: Denver at Cincinnati

Pick: Denver - Peyton Manning may not be getting the gaudy numbers he's used to in the passing game. However, the team still looks better than it did last year and appears to be more playoff- and Super Bowl-ready than they were a year ago. They're running the football well, have shown great balance on offense, and have played better defensively. I'll take that winning combination over the inconsistent Cincinnati Bengals any day. I'm going with the Broncos by a touchdown.



Week 16 Record:

Overall Record: 141-82-1 (.632)

My NFL Power Rankings (through Week 15)

1. New England Patriots (11-3): With the Packers losing to an AFC East team and the Patriots dominating Miami on Sunday, the Pats are back on top. Up next will be a road game against the New York Jets. Rex Ryan has given New England fits in the past, but I'd be shocked to see an upset this time around.

2. Seattle Seahawks (10-4): Seattle's offense my not wow too many people, but for how great their defense is playing, that doesn't matter. In Seattle's last four games, all wins, they've allowed just 27 points (6.8 per game), against teams with a combined record of 34-22 (.607).

3. Denver Broncos (11-3): The emergence of tailback C.J. Anderson may not be good for Peyton Manning fantasy owners, but he'll definitely be good for Manning and the Broncos come playoff time.

4. Green Bay Packers (10-4): So, Aaron Rodgers is human after all. The really bad news for the Packers is, due to that loss, Green Bay finds themselves as the 6th seed in the playoffs, which would mean they'd be forced to play anywhere but Lambeau in the post-season. For the year, Green Bay is just 3-4 on the road.

5. Arizona Cardinals (11-3): The Cardinals have gone from Carson Palmer to Drew Stanton to Logan Thomas to Ryan Lindley at quarterback this year. Regardless of who plays at quarterback the rest of the way, it will be difficult for the Cardinals to miss out on the post-season. Unfortunately, Mr. Lindley's first stat with the team will be against the defending Super Bowl champ Seattle Seahawks.

6. Dallas Cowboys (10-4): When healthy, Dallas has one of the best, most balanced offenses in the league. The only problem being they still have one of the worst defenses in the league. It'll be interesting to see how the Cowboys, 3-4 at home this year, fare against the AFC South champ Indianapolis Colts this coming weekend, especially if DeMarco Murray is out with an injury.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (9-5): No matter how the Eagles finish the season this year, one thing has to be for certain - they're going to need to improve in the secondary this off-season if they want to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

8. Detroit Lions (10-4): The Lions are kind of like the Arizona Cardinals. They may not play pretty most games or win by impressive margins, but they seem to find ways to win at game's end. With the win against Minnesota and Green Bay's loss to Buffalo, Detroit finds themselves back in first in the NFC North. While their game against Chicago this coming weekend could come into play as far as a potential Wild Card goes, the NFC North title will come down to that final regular season game on December 28th, when the Lions go to Lambeau.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1): Not even psychics can figure this team out. Given that unpredictability, even though I'm picking Denver to beat the Bengals on the road this coming weekend, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Bengals win.

10. Indianapolis Colts (10-4): Good, not great. Andrew Luck has been off in recent weeks. The defense has been inconsistent. The running game is harder to find than Waldo. Like the before-mentioned Eagles, Indianapolis will have to make some off-season moves to improve on defense (and in the running game) if they want to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

11. Baltimore Ravens (9-5): With Cincinnati facing Denver, Baltimore may have a golden opportunity to leap past the Bengals in the AFC North standings with a win against Houston. The Texans are a pesky team, though, so it won't be easy, especially if J.J. Watt continues at the pace he's been going.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5): It's going to be a huge and very interesting weekend coming up in the AFC North. Cincinnati (9-4-1) faces Denver (11-3) at home. Baltimore (9-5) goes on the road to take on Houston (7-7). Kansas City (8-6) heads to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers (9-5). Yeah, there's a greater chance for me to win the lottery than for this division to be decided before the final week of the regular season.

13. San Diego Chargers (8-6): After starting the year off as one of the hottest teams in the league, at 5-1, the Chargers have dropped five of their last eight, and are now on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff race. At a game back of both Baltimore and Pittsburgh for a Wild Card spot, the Chargers' road game against San Francisco is pretty much a must win if they want to have any chance at making the post-season.

14. Kansas City Chiefs (8-6): Overall, Kansas City is a pretty solid, fundamentally-sound football team. They're going to need to find some semblance of a vertical passing game if they want to think about taking that next step, however.

15. Buffalo Bills (8-6): Buffalo has one of the best defenses in all of football. In the past two weeks, against the likes of Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers, the Bills defense gave up 0 touchdown passes and intercepted four passes. With a win against Oakland this coming weekend, the Bills would go to 9-6 and still have a shot at a Wild Card spot.

16. San Francisco 49ers (7-7): The 49ers may still have one of the best defenses in the game. However, their offense is about as inept as Florida voting machines.

17. Miami Dolphins (7-7): No matter how improved they looked a few weeks ago, it seems as if the Dolphins may start going the way of the Dallas Cowboys (before this year) and finish 8-8 yet again.

18. Houston Texans (7-7): Houston gave Indianapolis all they could handle on Sunday, but still came out on the losing end, 17-10. Hey, after going 2-14 a year ago and being without top pick Jadeveon Clowney for most of the season, Texans fans have to be pleased with their team going .500 through 14 games. Arizona's Bruce Arians will get the Coach of the Year award at season's end, and deservedly so, but don't be surprised to see Houston's Bill O'Brien receive a few votes as well.

19. St. Louis Rams (6-8): If the Rams get a decent quarterback in the off-season, look out for them next year. The biggest challenge for St. Louis going forward is the fact they're playing in the best division in all of football, the NFC West. Seattle won the Super Bowl last year. San Francisco had gone to three consecutive NFC title games, including one Super Bowl, before that streak came to a halt this season. Arizona is tied for the best record in the league this year, at 11-3. Every night, head coach Jeff Fisher probably mumbles to himself, "Only if we played in the NFC South..."

20. Minnesota Vikings (6-8): Speaking of coaches whom should receive some recognition for a good job done this season, first-year Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is one of those very coaches. Starting quarterback Matt Cassel went out early with a season-ending injury. This resulted in the team going to rookie Teddy Bridgewater. Then there was all the turmoil surrounding Adrian Peterson. For the Vikings to win between 6 and 8 games with all of that going on is quite an achievement.

21. Cleveland Browns (7-7): "They are who I thought they were!" Sorry, I was just finding my inner-Dennis Green right there. Okay, so I didn't expect the Browns to be 7-7 through 14 games this season, but did think they'd be 5-9 or 6-8, and after starting the year 6-3 and being in the playoff conversation, the Browns have lost 4 out of 5, and will once again be sitting at home during the post-season. After the awful quarterback play in recent weeks, the biggest question in the off-season for the team is going to be, "Who will be the starter in 2015?" I think Brian Hoyer's days as a starter for the team are done. Manziel's sample-size is very small, but that was an awful showing on Sunday and it'll be interesting to see which direction the team goes next season.

22. New Orleans Saints (6-8): As of right now, my #7 team, Philadelphia, would be left out of the playoffs, in favor of my #22 team, New Orleans. Something just isn't right about that...

23. Carolina Panthers (5-8-1): If the season started two weeks ago, the Panthers would be a perfect 2-0! Unfortunately for them, they were 3-8-1 prior to that.

24. Atlanta Falcons (5-9): Yes, Atlanta is 5-9 and with a loss on Sunday in New Orleans, they'll be out of playoff contention. However, for as sad as it is to say, the Falcons control their own destiny. If they beat New Orleans and Carolina in their final two games, the then 7-9 Falcons would have a home playoff game.

25. Chicago Bears (5-9): Die-hard Bears fans have gone from enthusiastically uttering, "Da Bears!" to saying, "Da Humbug!"

26. New York Giants (5-9): The two big questions going into the off-season are: 1) Will Tom Coughlin be the team's coach next year, and 2) Will Eli Manning still be the team's quarterback?

27. Washington Redskins (3-11): Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, and Colt McCoy aren't the answer apparently. Neither is Jay Gruden nor Daniel Snyder...

28. New York Jets (3-11): For the first time since they're opening day win against the Oakland Raiders, Geno Smith led his team to a victory this past Sunday against Tennessee. In Smith's two wins this year, his opponents are a combined 4-24 (.143). The Jets outscored the Raiders and Titans by a combined score of 35-25 in those two games (average of 17.5 - 12.5). So, way to go, Geno!

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12): For as awful as this season has gone, I still think the Bucs should give first-year head coach Lovie Smith at least one more year at the helm. They've lost a lot of close games and I think the team should improve fairly significantly in Smith's second year if he's given that opportunity.

30. Oakland Raiders (2-12): With wins against Kansas City (8-6) and San Francisco (7-7), Oakland has the chance to play spoiler for the third time this year when they play host to Buffalo (8-6) on Sunday.

31. Tennessee Titans (2-12): Their Thursday night "showdown" against Jacksonville could very well determine who the worst team in football is this year.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12): Ditto.

What I learned from Week 15 of the NFL season...

In Week 15 of the NFL season, I learned that...

- ..., at the current pace they're on, Arizona may wind up starting Matt Leinart or Kurt Warner in the playoffs.

- ...RGIII would be stumped in the game charades if the word was "fumble."

- ..., if a genie approached either Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers, they'd wish to never play the Buffalo Bills again.

- ..., with how he played in his first start, Johnny Manziel may soon hear his nickname changed from Johnny Football to Johnny Looking For Work.

- ...J.J. Watt plans on starting an off-season workout called "No Longer Human," so he can attempt to play 60 minutes in every game next season for the Houston Texans and give them a chance to make the post-season.

- ...there are times Mark Sanchez appears to still think he plays for the New York Jets, for which opponents are very grateful.

- ..., at the end of the season, Jim Harbaugh's going to Disneyworld! ...with family... to get far away from San Francisco.

- ...Peyton Manning was likely never an offensive lineman.

- ...Chris Christie may one day coach the Dallas Cowboys.

- ...After his team shutout Cleveland 30-0, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was probably thinking about saying, "I know I called Johnny Manziel a, uh, a, uh, well, a little person, but after seeing him play in person, no matter how small he is physically, that's nowhere near as small as his game. This is off the record, right? At least I didn't say 'midget' again, right?"

Thursday, December 11, 2014

According to Fox News, America is like totally awesome, man

Just the other day, I thought to myself (I do this often), "I haven't written about Fox News in a while. That's kind of weird." Fortunately, a lovely Fox News story just fell into my lap today, so hopefully I'll be able to get over this case of PFAFNWS (Poking Fun At Fox News Withdrawal Syndrome).

After the gruesome torture report got released this past week, Fox News' own Andrea Tantaros had this to say about the matter:

"The United States of America is awesome. We are awesome. We've closed the book on [torture], and we've stopped doing it. And the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we're not awesome."

When I first heard this, the theme song from The Lego Movie immediately started playing in my mind - "Everything is awesome!"

Speaking of something playing in my mind, here's Ms. Tantaros' extended, never heard before quote about America's awesomeness:

"America is like awesome, I mean, like, so very awesome. It's so awesome, awesome doesn't even really describe just how awesome it is, you know? I mean, like, the Obama people and liberals will talk about things that aren't awesome with America like we're not awesome, but we still so are, and I mean, I don't want to hear about these not awesome things, because whether or not we did these un-awesome things, we're still awesome, and if I don't hear about these less than awesome things, I won't have to ever pause and think, 'Gee, maybe we weren't awesome that day.' I mean, slavery? Who wants to talk about that? Like, no one. So, guess what? We're still awesome! Obama and his liberals just need to shut up about things that aren't awesome about America, like there are such things! I mean, what do they get out of that? Learning from these things or something? Come on... If we had just told people how awesome we were during the times of slavery and before women got the right to vote, we'd still probably have slavery, women still wouldn't be allowed to vote, but we'd still be awesome! It's like every doctor person will tell you, 'The first step to like solving a problem is denying it exists and saying you're awesome.' As a matter of fact, you know that Lego movie or whatever? Isn't that song something like, 'Everything is awesome,' or, like, yeah, sure, whatevs? We should like totally make the National Anthem that song! Except, it would be called 'America is Awesome.' I think that may be like the best, most awesome idea ever, because America is awesome, and, like yeah, and stuff."


A heroin addict brings needles and cotton balls to court

I hate to make fun of people's addictions, however, I couldn't help but laugh at a story I read about the matter.

On Monday, 23-year-old Michael Durban showed up to the Marion County Courthouse in Oregon, where he was to be arraigned on a heroin possession charge. When he went through security screening, deputies found hypodermic needles and a cotton ball which contained heroin in his pocket. He thereby went from being arraigned on a drug charge to being arrested and charged with unlawful possession of heroin.

When Durban was asked about the needles and cotton ball, he said, "I got mixed up. I thought I left it in my car."

No, this is not an article from The Onion, and yes, I had to double-check that too.

In light of this odd event, expect the following to occur at some point in the future:

- A man going to court for a DUI shows up with nothing but his car keys and a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels

- Someone charged with indecent exposure shows up to court in their birthday suit

- A man charged with unlawful gun possession walks into the courthouse dressed like Rambo, with more firearms attached to him than he has brain cells left

- An individual charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor walks into the courthouse, passing a joint back and forth with a teenager

- A man charged with soliciting a prostitute, walks in with two half-naked ladies named Cinnamon and Chocolate


They're not mutually exclusive...

Why is it that it appears many people have taken on the false dilemma informal fallacy when discussing the police shootings. Like former President George W. Bush, when he said, "You're either with us or you're against us (with the terrorists)," many people have basically been saying, "You're either with the police or you're against them (with the 'criminals')."

Some people have also said, "Well, many cops have died in the line of duty, so how can you blame them for shooting and killing these 'criminals'?"

It's like Jon Stewart said on The Daily Show the other day (paraphrasing), "You can be saddened by police deaths and also be against police brutality. They're not mutually exclusive."

He's absolutely right. Just because many of us don't agree with the actions some police officers have taken in killing unarmed citizens, which we felt was both an example of abusing their power and of brutality, doesn't mean we don't respect police officers as a whole and that we aren't saddened when we hear about officers dying in the line of duty. Like Stewart said, they're not mutually exclusive.

It's like with anything. I respect the presidency (Oval Office), however, I don't respect the president abusing his (or her) powers. I respect many authority figures' positions of power, but I don't respect them abusing that very power.

I wouldn't think that this concept would be too difficult to grasp, but for many people, it seems to be. I would have been saddened if Officer Darren Wilson had been killed, however, if he truly felt endangered by an unarmed man charging at him, why not shoot him in the leg, so he can't continue to charge? Why shoot to kill? This, in my and many others' opinion, was crossing the line, overstepping his boundaries, and abusing his power as a police officer. In Eric Garner's case, there were multiple officers there. Through everyone's contribution, cuff him and take him away. Placing him in a choke-hold, where he couldn't breathe, and killing him as a result, was once again crossing the line and an abuse of power. Not speaking to and warning young Tamir Rice through a speakerphone and shooting to kill him in two seconds time was once again an abuse of power.

Police officers hold one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, if not the most dangerous. They're authority figures we trust day in and day out to serve and protect us. With their cars, their uniforms, their badges, and their guns, we trust them with this great power. However, for as much as we may respect the profession and even empathize with the great amount of responsibility which resides on their shoulders, like with any and everyone else, we don't want them to abuse this awesome power, and for our trust of them to diminish in the process.

To be a "real" man...

I've been reading Harlan Coben's critically-acclaimed Myron Bolitar series. It was recommended to me by both my mother and her sister. So, since we all quite thoroughly enjoy detective mystery books and all have similar senses of humor, I thought I'd give the series a gander. I just got through book #8 of the series (out of 10), Promise Me, and while I've promised myself (no pun intended) I'd get through the entire series and discuss it with my mom and aunt, I'm having trouble motivating myself to do so.

The books in this series are often times quick moving, entertaining, easy reads, which don't leave any lasting impact or provide what I call the "wow" factor. Since I've finished eight books in the series, it's quite obvious I haven't disliked them to a great degree. However, after each and every book, while there are some chuckles and tense moments along the way, as well as some unexpected twists and turns, I'm still left feeling kind of empty. I think this is because I don't feel anything for any of the characters, especially the main two (Myron and his sidekick in crime, Win).

The character development is very minimal throughout the series and what little we know about the characters appears to be mainly rooted in superficiality/shallowness, anger issues, and sexism.

Myron Bolitar starts off as a sports agent at MB Sports Reps, before partnering with his long-time assistant Esperanza, letting her handle the athletes, and deciding to represent other entertainers (actors, musicians, writers, and the like), which results in him altering the company's name to MB Reps. Esperanza is mainly showcased as a former wrestler that made men drool when she was in a bikini. Her friend, and former tag-team partner, Big Cyndi, is mainly showcased as a huge, nasty woman no man with eyes would ever want to interact with. Myron's long-time on-and-off again girlfriend, Jessica Culver, is a well-respected writer, however, she mostly gets talked about due to her supposedly outrageously good looks. Win admittedly sees women as nothing more than sex objects and regularly hires "attractive" hookers to partake in the horizontal mambo with him. Myron attempts to be more moral than Win when it comes to relationships and other areas of life, but more times than not, finds more of Win in himself than he'd like to believe (and no, that's not to be taken literally).

Even though Myron is technically a sports/celebrities' agent, he has a reputation for playing detective as well, and when he gets called upon to do so, he and Win open their bag of tricks to find a killer and/or a missing person. These tricks include: Concocting crazy theories and attempting to find one sliver of accuracy, speaking before thinking, getting into dangerous situations without any contemplation, beating up and torturing people, and yes, even killing people.

While there are times I chuckle at some of Bolitar's sarcastic remarks, he often times makes these comments when people are pointing guns at him and threatening to kill him. This results in me giving myself the ol' facepalm, and mumbling, "Are you really that stupid?" It's almost like he's asking for fights throughout these books, and even admits to feeling an "itch" when someone is aggravating him - an itch to punch the person. In these books, it appears as if the characters (and perhaps author) believe that, to be a real man, one must fornicate with as many "hot" women as possible and beat up as many men as possible. There was even a point in the most recent book I read, Promise Me, where Bolitar went off on a tangent about his old high school friend's husband, saying (I'll be paraphrasing here), "There was this one time in high school when he was challenged to a fight and he walked away. Sure, members of the media will say that was the right thing to do, but that's nonsense. Only wusses do that. You can't be a real man and do that, and to this day, he's never gotten over that. He's never felt like a real man."

Seriously? Some men still feel that way? Now, it'd be one thing for a man's wife's or child's life to truly be in danger and not to defend them. However, a silly high school fight? Really? He really believes a married, professional, 45-year-old father doesn't feel like a man today because he walked away from a fight in high school almost 30 years ago? Come on... Like with most things in life, I think people should look at what there is to gain versus what there is to lose when it comes to fights. If a person's life is truly in jeopardy, especially their wife's or child's, then yes, it would make sense to fight. However, if it's just over which person has the bigger ego, then potential lawsuits and jail time probably isn't worth the risk.

This old-school "real man" mentality displayed throughout the series reminds me of my grandfather. Growing up, he felt the need to fight and beat up other men in order to be constituted as a "real man." He felt the need to get drunk a lot and sleep with a lot of women to feel like a "real man." Luckily for me, my father wasn't/isn't like this. He felt being a real man was treating everyone equally, working hard, providing food for the family, providing opportunities for his kids, and making people laugh. I guess this is why, while I find the Bolitar series to be entertaining, I feel empty when finishing each book. I can't identify with the characters. I don't understand them, I can't feel anything for them, and this limits the overall impact of the books. I've never gotten into a fight, and sincerely hope I never feel the need to get into one, because the only reason I would do so would be to defend someone I greatly care about, like a wife or child. I honestly don't care if this makes me less of a "man" in some people's minds. In this context, I suppose I'd rather be a smart man than a "real" man.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Going to the hypothetical for reasoning...

After reading several articles pertaining to the recent non-indictments of police officers whom killed unarmed black men, I was struck by a theme I observed in the comments section below the articles.

This theme was, "The cops would have done the same thing if the person was white."

Resorting to the hypothetical as a means for rationale is absurd on just about every level.

First off, we're comparing a real-life event with an imagined one.

Real-life event: "An unarmed black man was killed by a police officer."

Imagined event: "If the unarmed man had been white, he would have been killed by the police officer as well."

Try using that rationale in court sometime and see how far back the judge rolls his or her eyes. I just hope the judge's name isn't Linda Blair.

Secondly, and more importantly, studies show that these commentators are likely wrong from a numbers standpoint as well.

According to a ProPublica analysis, young black males are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than young white males.

From 2010 to 2012, there were 1,217 deadly police shootings. Of these, 15- to 19-year old blacks were killed at the rate of 31.17 per million. This rate for 15- to 19-year old whites was 1.47 per million.

Going the hypothetical route for reasoning proves nothing. I see this form of reasoning (or lack there of) used quite regularly when it comes to gun violence.

Commentator: "Well, if the person had a knife instead of a gun, he would have killed all those people too."

That's unprovable, and odds (and science) would have it, not likely. The only thing the hypothetical-reasoning approach proves is that the commentator can't use any source in reality to prove his or her point. When one feels the need to go to fantasy to prove a point in reality, chances are there is no point in reality to prove his or her fantasy.


Conflict-avoidance only makes things worse

I've known many people I could describe as being conflict-avoidant. This includes: Friends, family, exes, even myself a few years ago. Granted, I don't know too many people whom would ever stand up and proudly declare, "You know what I love more than anything else? Nope, not football, not beer, not pizza. I love conflicts!" However, what many conflict-avoidant individuals don't seem to realize is that by avoiding conflicts to avoid stress and drama, they're making the situation more stressful for themselves, and as the tension escalates over time, when the conflict is finally confronted, the stress and drama may be at such a boiling point that it will be virtually impossible to fully resolve the conflict. Conflict-avoidance is not the same as conflict-resolution. In fact, by being conflict-avoidant, one is essentially avoiding resolution.

When one sits down and thinks about it, it's all fairly common sense. It's like with personal problems. If one doesn't admit they have a problem, say with smoking, how will they then get over said problem? As it's always been said, the first step to solving a problem is admitting one exists. The same is true when it comes to conflicts regarding two or more people. If someone doesn't admit the problem out in the open with the other present, how will the two solve said problem?

I know one may think it's "easier" to keep these conflicts and confrontations bottled up so the other(s) doesn't (don't) know about them and to avoid potential drama. However, just because this person doesn't admit what's on his or her mind to the other doesn't make the problem go away. It will still linger in their mind. They'll continue to worry about the issue, with the level of worry likely escalating as time progresses, and this will result in added stress for the person. It then often times reaches a point where the conflict-avoidant individual can't bottle things up any longer, and since they've wanted to talk about matters for such a long time and their stress and worry have escalated as a result, they essentially blow up at the person. This results in a higher level of drama than would have occurred had the person been confronted on the matter at an earlier point. What may have once been a potentially small conflict and confrontation blows up into a conflict and confrontation so large, it is often times difficult for the people involved in it to fully recover.

So, when it comes to conflicts and confrontations, I know they're not fun, but when such a situation arises, try not to think of it as causing drama by admitting a problem exists. Try to think of it as discussing a matter with a person (you likely care about) in order to solve a problem and improve the relationship. The relationship will be stuck through conflict-avoidance. It will only progress if the people are fully honest with one another and attempt resolve any conflicts which may exist.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Info on my Facebook business, Twitter, and Tumblr pages

Here's the URL to my Facebook business page. I update it fairly regularly, but still haven't put forth a great deal of effort yet in researching matters and attempting to make the most out of it. In any case, it can be perused here:


Up next is my Twitter page. I'm still not 100% certain what I'm doing on there yet, but feel I'm gradually getting the hang of it and am up to 14,370 followers. I update it daily with many of my own tweets, but also by retweeting some others'. It can be found here:


Lastly, here's my Tumblr page, which I've neglected quite a bit recently, but if you're at all curious, you can find it at the following link:


Weekly update of my book information

For new readers (and regular ones, I suppose), here's some information pertaining to my books.

All twelve of my books can be purchased in paperback form at the following site (and others):


The ten books I've written and released in the past 3 years (yes, I've been on a roll) can be purchased for much cheaper in Kindle form at the following link:


My NFL Power Rankings (through Week 14)

1. Green Bay Packers (10-3): Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees are still all solid quarterbacks, but the very best in all of football right now is Aaron Rodgers. So long as he stays healthy, the Packers have a shot at the Super Bowl this year.

2. New England Patriots (10-3): After a tough road loss at Green Bay a week ago, New England bounced back with a tough road win against San Diego. Up next on the slate is a home game against Miami, who beat them earlier in the season. Expect Brady, Belichick, and company to get payback and get one step closer to attaining home-field advantage in the playoffs.

3. Denver Broncos (10-3): Denver hasn't been playing great football the past 3+ weeks. Lucky for them, though, Kansas City has fallen apart, and San Diego, with a loss against the Patriots on Sunday night, is two back of the Broncos. So, as tough as things have been for Peyton Manning and company of late, their in good position to win the AFC West again.

4. Arizona Cardinals (10-3): It wasn't pretty and wasn't without it's share of controversy, but the struggling Cardinals got back on track with a big win against Kansas City on Sunday. Things won't get any easier for Arizona, as they head to St. Louis to take on the resurgent Rams on Thursday night. A loss there and a win by Seattle at home against San Francisco, and Arizona will be looking up at Seattle in the NFC West standings.

5. Seattle Seahawks (9-4): Over the past three weeks, Seattle is 3-0, and has beaten three potential playoff teams with the combined record of 26-13 (Arizona, San Francisco, and Philadelphia) by the combined score of 62-20. As for that "struggling" Seahawks defense, they now rank 1st in total yards allowed per game, 1st in passing yards allowed per game, 3rd in rushing yards allowed per game, and 2nd in points allowed per game. Yeah, it's official - the Legion of Boom is back.

6. Philadelphia Eagles (9-4): Philly is a solid football team. They're explosive on offense, have improved on both defense and special teams, and appear to be a team on the rise. However, they still seem to have trouble beating the best teams in the two conferences. They'll need to do that before they can seriously see themselves as Super Bowl contenders.

7. Detroit Lions (9-4): Granted, the last two games were against Chicago and Tampa Bay, but the offense still looks completely different with a healthy Calvin Johnson.With the defense continuing to play well and a rather favorable schedule down the stretch, a Wild Card spot may be theirs to lose.

8. Dallas Cowboys (9-4): If Dallas loses to Philly on the road this coming Sunday, they'll essentially be two back of the Eagles in the NFC East, with two games to play. Meanwhile, it's quite possible for Seattle, Arizona, and Detroit to all be 10-4 by week's end as well. It won't be impossible for the Cowboys to make the playoffs with a loss on Sunday, but they'll have to hope one of the two Wild Card teams falters in the final two weeks if they want to have a shot.

9. Indianapolis Colts (9-4): Andrew Luck played his worst game of the year and the Colts still found a way to beat Cleveland on the road. Indy is a pretty good football team, but they'll definitely need some help in the run game as well as on the defense when they start making moves in the off-season if they want to take that next step and compete for a Super Bowl.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1): Largely due to the incredibly inconsistent play of Andy Dalton quarterback, Cincinnati's offense is one of the most inconsistent in the league. However, they're equally as inconsistent on the other side of the ball, and due to all of these inconsistencies, it's difficult to know what to expect from this team in the final three weeks. They remain half a game up on Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and a game and a half up on Cleveland, but that could all change after their road match-up with the Browns on Sunday. The Browns won their first meeting 24-3.

11. San Diego Chargers (8-5): The Chargers have a huge game at home against the Broncos on Sunday. With a loss, the Broncos will win the AFC West. With a win, however, there's still an outside shot San Diego could take the AFC West reigns away from Denver. They'd also be in good position for a Wild Card spot.

12. Baltimore Ravens (8-5): Baltimore's win against Miami on the road Sunday was huge. Now they travel back home to take on 2-11 Jacksonville, which should place them at 9-5, and in a decent position for at least a Wild Card spot.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5): With their impressive 42-21 victory over Cincinnati on Sunday, the Steelers made the AFC North THAT much more interesting. Their defense will have to start playing better if they want any shot at winning a game in the playoffs, however.

14. San Francisco 49ers (7-6): Under Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers have advanced to the NFC Championship game three straight years, even making the Super Bowl once. After losing to then 1-11 Oakland on Sunday, the odds of that happening again this year are not good. To make matters worse, the Niners will now travel to Seattle to take on a hot Seahawks team, a team they lost to on Thanksgiving 19-3.

15. Miami Dolphins (7-6): Miami made a good run at it, but will need to display more consistency on offense and also in their rush defense if they want to be a serious playoff contender in the years ahead.

16. Kansas City Chiefs (7-6): This has been the streakiest team in football this year. Kansas City started the year 1-2, then went 6-1, and are now 0-3 in their past three games. If they lose again to Oakland on Sunday, that'll drop them to 7-7 and likely out of the playoff discussion. Yes, Oakland may be 2-11, but one of those two wins came against the Chiefs on Thursday night football.

17. Buffalo Bills (7-6): Buffalo made things interesting at the end of the game against the Broncos, and ended Peyton Manning's touchdown-pass-in-consecutive-games streak, but still wound up with the "L." They'll now have to take on the hottest quarterback in all of football, Aaron Rodgers, at home this coming Sunday. With an upset in that game, the Bills will still be in the playoff discussion. With a loss, however, they'll have to start thinking about next year.

18. Houston Texans (7-6): Don't look now, but the team who had the #1 pick in last year's draft is 7-6 and with a road win against AFC South leader Indianapolis on Sunday, would pull to within one game of the Colts in the division. Even if they lose that game, however, Houston has to see this season as a success. It's not every day a 2-14 team turns around and goes 7-6 the following year and is in the playoff discussion with three weeks left to go in the season.

19. Cleveland Browns (7-6): Cleveland is 1-3 in their past four games and quarterback Brian Hoyer is looking like the team's quarterback of the future as much as Santa Claus looks GQ cover-worthy. If they lose to Cincinnati this coming weekend, they can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye and may start Johnny Manziel in their final two games. If the Browns win, however, that will improve them to 8-6, drop the Bengals to 8-5-1, and make the final two weeks very interesting in the division for all four teams in it.

20. St. Louis Rams (6-7): It's really a shame this team was so banged up all year. It would have been fun seeing a healthy Rams squad go up against the other NFC West teams. Just think, if the Rams played in the NFC South (St. Louis is more south than west), they'd be in first place.

21. Minnesota Vikings (6-7): This is a team that shouldn't be taken lightly. They're solid on defense and have enough on offense to compete in most games. While the Chicago Bears appear to be on the decline in the NFC North, Minnesota appears to be on the rise.

22. New Orleans Saints (5-8): I honestly have nothing more to say about this team. They play the Bears next week. Given both teams' track records, I suppose the first one to 40 wins.

23. Chicago Bears (5-8): Ditto...

24. Atlanta Falcons (5-8): Well, they're still in first place in the NFC South, so that's nice, I guess...

25. Carolina Panthers (4-8-1): Uh, where was that team on Sunday the rest of the year? Carolina appeared to place on their 2013 season helmets and played like the 12-4 team from a year ago, in dominating New Orleans on the road by the final score of 41-10. If they beat Tampa Bay this coming week, sadly enough, they'll still be right in the thick of the playoff discussion.

26. New York Giants (4-9): Tom Coughlin's crew should be mighty proud that they didn't lose to Jacksonville and Tennessee in back-to-back weeks, teams with the combined record of 4-22. Way to go! Now they get to take on 3-10 Washington...

27. Washington Redskins (3-10): I guess the good news for Washington is they know, of all three quarterbacks that have started for them this year, none of them will be their guy moving forward. However, with their track record, I could definitely see the troubled Jameis Winston landing here.

28. New York Jets (2-11): They've only lost their last two games by the combined score of 46-37. We'll see if that close-but-no-cigar rhetoric will keep Rex Ryan and Geno Smith around for another year. Oh, my Magic 8-Ball is telling, "What, are you f**king stupid?" So, nevermind...

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-11): With a loss on the road against Carolina on Sunday, at 2-12, Tampa Bay would officially be eliminated from playoff contention in the NFC South. Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, that's very sad.

30. Oakland Raiders (2-11): Derek Carr is showing signs of improvement, as is the Raiders defense. Oakland may be 2-11, but are 2-1 in their past three, and the two teams they've beaten have a combined record of 14-12 (Kansas City and San Francisco).

31. Tennessee Titans (2-11): At this point, it appears as if the Titans' final showdown with the Jacksonville Jaguars may ultimately determine who the worst team in football is this year.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11): Ditto, except replace "Jacksonville Jaguars" with Tennessee Titans. There, that does the trick.

Week 15 NFL Predictions

Game: Arizona at St. Louis

Pick: St. Louis - St. Louis is playing good football right now. They've outscored their opponents 76-0 over the past two weeks and with this game at home in a shortened week, I like for the Rams to improve to an even 7-7 with a big home win against the struggling Cardinals. I'll take the Rams by a field goal.

Result: Arizona 12 St. Louis 6

Record: 0-1

Game: Pittsburgh at Atlanta

Pick: Pittsburgh - Teams in the AFC North and NFC South are the teams I have the most trouble figuring out. Pittsburgh's struggled on the road, but beat Cincinnati on their home field 42-21 on Sunday. Atlanta has played well at home, but I have little confidence in any NFC South team at the moment. Given that, I'm going to go with the Steelers to win their second road game in two weeks, this one by 4.

Result: Pittsburgh 27 Atlanta 20

Record: 1-1

Game: Washington at NY Giants

Pick: NY Giants - Here's a battle for the "least" in the NFC East. The loser of this game could very well finish as the cellar dweller in their division. This is especially the case if 3-10 Washington loses. Since the game is on the road and it appears as if there's less stability in the Washington locker room than in Congress, I'm going to lean toward the Giants and take them by 4.

Result: NY Giants 24 Washington 13

Record: 2-1

Game: Miami at New England

Pick: New England - With the Patriots already losing once this year to the Dolphins, I have a very hard time seeing them lose again, especially at home. I'll go with the Pats to all but end the Dolphins playoff hopes, and win by 10.

Result: New England 41 Miami 13

Record: 3-1

Game: Oakland at Kansas City

Pick: Kansas City - This is actually a more difficult game to pick than I would have expected 3-4 weeks ago. Oakland may be 2-11, but their two wins are against teams with a combined record of 14-12, one of them being Kansas City. The Chiefs, meanwhile, after going 6-1 following their 1-2 start to move to an impressive 7-3, have lost three straight, and are getting close to desperation mode for wins coming down the stretch to keep their playoff hopes alive. Kansas City's offense has been struggling a great deal, but I have a difficult time seeing them get swept by the Raiders, especially with this game at Arrowhead. I'll take Kansas City by a touchdown.

Result: Kansas City 31 Oakland 13

Record: 4-1

Game: Houston at Indianapolis

Pick: Indianapolis - If this game were played in Houston, I might go with the upset. However, with the game in Indy, I have to give the edge to Andrew Luck and the Colts. I'll take Indianapolis by 10.

Result: Indianapolis 17 Houston 10

Record: 5-1

Game: Jacksonville at Baltimore

Pick: Baltimore - Jacksonville's 2-11 and Baltimore, at 8-5, are in fight-for-a-playoff-spot mode. With the game at home, I have a hard time seeing the Ravens lose this one to the Jaguars. I'll take Baltimore by a couple of touchdowns.

Result: Baltimore 20 Jacksonville 12

Record: 6-1

Game: Green Bay at Buffalo

Pick: Buffalo - Here's my upset pick of the week. Green Bay has been on a roll of late, but haven't been nearly as convincing in their road games this year. Buffalo's defense will get to Aaron Rodgers and knock him around more than any team before them. This will likely limit the Packers' offensive production. On the other side of the ball, so long as Kyle Orton receives adequate protection, expect he and Sammy Watkins to have a nice game, nice enough to keep them in the AFC playoff race with a big win. I'll go with the Bills by a field goal.

Result: Buffalo 21 Green Bay 13

Record: 7-1

Game: Tampa Bay at Carolina

Pick: Tampa Bay - I initially took Carolina, but due to Cam Newton's car accident and subsequent injury, I have to assume, like Tony Romo who had a similar injury, Newton will miss at least one game. If doctors announce he's okay to play, I may change my pick back to Carolina, but without a healthy Cam Newton, I'm leaning toward the Bucs. I'll take Tampa by a field goal.

Result: Carolina 19 Tampa Bay 17

Record: 7-2

Game: Cincinnati at Cleveland

Pick: Cincinnati - Their previous meeting was dominated by Cleveland in Cincinnati, where Andy Dalton had his worst game as an NFL quarterback. With the Browns starting to reel and Dalton and the Bengals wanting to prove themselves, I expect Cincinnati to get payback and win this one by a touchdown.

Result: Cincinnati 30 Cleveland 0

Record: 8-2

Game: NY Jets at Tennessee

Pick: NY Jets - If Michael Vick were quarterbacking the Jets in this game, I think I would definitely take them. With Geno Smith back at the helm, however, I have to figure there will be at least one pick-six in the game and it makes me a bit more hesitant on matters. Even so, while the Jets have lost a pair of close games in the past two weeks against the likes of Miami and Minnesota, Tennessee has gotten pummeled. So, I will reluctantly go with the Jets on the road by a field goal.

Result: NY Jets 16 Tennessee 11

Record: 9-2

Game: Denver at San Diego

Pick: San Diego - Here's my other semi-surprise of the week. Denver, perhaps due to injuries, has not been playing great football of late. San Diego may have lost a tough one to New England on Sunday night, but still appear to be playing decent football on both sides of the ball, and with the game at home, I'm going to give the slight edge to the Chargers. Look for Philip Rivers to help his offense dominate time of possession and keep Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense off the field. I'll take the Chargers by 3.

Result: Denver 22 San Diego 10

Record: 9-3

Game: Minnesota at Detroit

Pick: Detroit - Both teams are led by their defenses, so don't expect a great deal of scoring in this one. With the game at home and a healthy Calvin Johnson back in action for the Lions, though, I'll take them to win by a touchdown.

Result: Detroit 16 Minnesota 14

Record: 10-3

Game: San Francisco at Seattle

Pick: Seattle - These teams have gone in polar opposite directions in recent weeks. In their last three games, Seattle has won against teams with the combined record of 26-13 (Arizona, San Francisco, and Philadelphia) by the combined score of 62-20. San Francisco, meanwhile, has lost its past two games against teams with the combined record of 11-15 (Seattle and Oakland) by the combined score of 43-16. Expect for these trends to continue, for the Seahawks to keep rolling, and for the 49ers to keep reeling. I'll take Seattle by 10.

Result: Seattle 17 San Francisco 7

Record: 11-3

Game: Dallas at Philadelphia

Pick: Philadelphia - For how Philly handled Dallas at home on Thanksgiving, I have a hard time seeing the Cowboys figure everything out in the matter of a couple weeks. I'll take the Eagles at home by a touchdown.

Result: Dallas 38 Philadelphia 27

Record: 11-4

Game: New Orleans at Chicago

Pick: New Orleans - Here we have two of the worst defenses in the league and two of the most disappointing offenses in the league. Unfortunately for the Bears, they've won just one home game this year, have lost Brandon Marshall for the season, and don't have a shot at the playoffs. The Saints, a team that can suddenly win on the road but not at home, at 5-8 in the NFC South, sadly still have a shot at the playoffs. Given the mindsets going in, as well as the injury situation, I'm going to reluctantly take the Saints by a touchdown.

Result: New Orleans 31 Chicago 15

Record: 12-4

Week 15 Record: 12-4 (.750)

Overall Record: 141-82-1 (.632)

What I learned in Week 14 of the NFL season...

In Week 14 of the NFL season, I learned that...

- ...Da Bears will likely change their name to Da Cubs in the off-season.

- ...Andy Dalton likely said this at Thanksgiving dinner, "I'm thankful for being paid like one of the best quarterbacks in the league, even though I'm generous about giving away the football."

- ..., any day now, a comedian will come up with a vast array of the-NFC-South-is-so-bad jokes, and they'll likely all be true.

- ...Geno Smith is allowed to pass the ball every other game.

- ...Peyton Manning is human after all, and is still obsessed with Omaha.

- ...J.J. Watt is to football what lions are to the wild.

- ...Chip Kelly talks to the refs so much, he likely has one at #1 on his speed dial.

- ..., around the league, teams are calling the Legion of Boom the Legion of Oh Sh*t Not Again!

- ...Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick are about to break-up.

- ...the Cleveland Browns had been going through an identity crisis since they started the year a surprising 6-3, but have appeared to find themselves again in losing three of their past four.

Monday, December 8, 2014

What the playoff committee got wrong

For as excited as I was (and still am) about a college football playoff, I'm having a difficult time fully defending the playoff committee's final decision on the "final four."

As was noted yesterday around 12:30 pm EST, the committee's final rankings went as follows:

1. Alabama (12-1)

2. Oregon (12-1)

3. Florida State (13-0)

4. Ohio State (12-1)

5. Baylor (11-1)

6. TCU (11-1)

Here's how I would have ranked the teams:

1. Florida State (13-0)

2. Oregon (12-1)

3. Alabama (12-1)

4. Baylor (11-1)

5. TCU (11-1)

6. Ohio State (12-1)

I'm really amazed that the committee sees Florida State as worthy of only the #3 spot. Granted, they've won several tight ball games, but they're the only undefeated team left in the country. They won the national title last year, and after their ACC Championship game win against Georgia Tech on Saturday, have won 29 consecutive games. Not only that, but of their 13 opponents this year, 9 are bowl eligible, including three non-conference opponents (Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, and Florida, along with conference foes Clemson, North Carolina State, Louisville, Miami (Florida), Boston College, and Georgia Tech). Not Alabama nor Oregon can boast such a thing. The ACC is also ranked second among the Power 5 conferences in winning percentage against the other Power 5 conferences (and Notre Dame), with a 10-7 record (.588), second only to the Pac-12 (8-3). So, no matter what kind of grade Florida State received from the committee via the eye test, their overall resume gets an "A" grade from my eyes, especially that 13-0 record when facing 9 bowl eligible teams.

Oregon, in my opinion, is the only team the committee got right rankings wise. They defeated 6 bowl eligible teams, including one non-conference (Michigan State, as well as conference foes UCLA, Washington, Stanford, Utah, and Arizona), four of which are currently in the top 25 (#8 Michigan State, #10 Arizona, #14 UCLA, and #22 Utah). They also won these games convincingly, outscoring their 6 bowl eligible opponents by 147 points (24.5 average margin of victory), and outscoring their 4 top 25 opponents by 93 points (23.3 average margin of victory. Their lone loss was to #10 Arizona by 7 points. Not only that, but the Pac-12 ranked first among the Power 5 conference in winning percentage against the other Power 5 conferences (and Notre Dame), with an 8-3 record (.727).

Like Florida State, Alabama defeated 9 bowl eligible teams, and like Oregon, they beat 4 teams currently in the top 25. Their biggest non-conference win was a 10-point victory against 7-5 West Virginia. There other victories against bowl eligible opponents were against: Florida, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Tennessee, #23 LSU, #7 Mississippi State, #19 Auburn, and #16 Missouri. They won these four games by a combined 52 points (13.0 average margin of victory). The Tide's lone loss came to #9 Mississippi by 6 points. The SEC finished 3rd among the Power 5 conferences in winning percentage against the other Power 5 conferences (and Notre Dame), with a 5-6 record (.455).

While I agreed with the committee on three of the four teams that made the playoff, albeit not in the order they ranked them, the biggest controversy regarding the final selections was the committee's #4 team, Ohio State. While I had ranked TCU #4 last week, I said that if Baylor beat Kansas State over the weekend, their head-to-head victory against the Horned Frogs would vault them ahead of TCU in my final standings, and I stand by that. With the convincing win against #11 Kansas State on Saturday, Baylor finished the regular season at 11-1, and even though their non-conference schedule was soft (to put it lightly), they still defeated 5 bowl eligible teams, including the before-mentioned Wildcats, as well as: Texas, #6 TCU, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. So, according to the playoff committee's final standings, Baylor defeated two of the top 11 teams in the country. The only other team that can say that is Oregon. Baylor defeated these two top 11 teams by a combined 14 points (7.0 average margin of victory), and defeated their 5 bowl eligible opponents by a combined 90 points (18.0 average margin of victory). Their lone loss was a 14-point setback against 7-5 West Virginia in Morgantown. The Big XII finished 4th among the Power 5 conferences in winning percentage against the other Power 5 conferences (and Notre Dame), with a 4-6 record (.400).

While I think TCU probably has a better team than Baylor, their 3-point loss to the Bears is the reason I have them ranked one spot below them. TCU defeated 6 bowl eligible teams, including two in the top 25 (#11 Kansas State, #25 Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and Texas). TCU beat their two top 25 foes rather convincingly, winning the games by a combined 44 points (22.0 average margin of victory), and defeating their 6 bowl eligible opponents by a combined 120 points (20.0 average margin of victory). Their only loss was a 3-point road loss to Baylor.

Ohio State did wind up defeating 9 bowl eligible teams, including 3 in the top 25. These included: Navy, Cincinnati, Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, Illinois, #8 Michigan State, #25 Minnesota, and #18 Wisconsin. They beat Michigan State and Minnesota by a combined 19 points (9.5 average margin of victory). The Buckeyes defeated most of their other bowl eligible opponents rather convincingly, except for a 31-24 double overtime win against Penn State in Happy Valley. OSU's lone loss this year was a 14-point home defeat at the hands of 6-6 Virginia Tech. That's the main reason I have them ranked behind both Baylor and TCU. The other reason is the fact the Big Ten ranked dead last among the Power 5 conferences in winning percentage against the other Power 5 conferences (and Notre Dame), with a 6-11 record (.353).

One problem the committee had in their initial season was with regard to announcing weekly rankings as of a few weeks ago. This then put them on the spot for changes that didn't make a whole lot of sense, and that was nowhere more evident than with their final rankings on Sunday. Following TCU's 48-10 win over Texas a couple of weekends ago, the committee moved the Horned Frogs to #3 in the poll, ahead of Florida State, Ohio State, and Baylor. Given their position in the poll, it was all but a certainty that, with a convincing win against 2-9 Iowa State on Saturday, the Horned Frogs would make the playoff. Even Nate Silver gave them a 91% chance of making the field of four, and this was after Saturday's games. So, after TCU laid a 55-3 drubbing on Iowa State, how can the committee go from seeing TCU as the 3rd best team in the country to seeing them as the 6th best team? I'd love to be fact-checked on this, but I'm guessing that at no other time in history did a college football team win a game by 52 points and fall three spots in the polls. It may have made sense for Baylor to leap-frog TCU if, like in my poll, TCU was ranked #4, Baylor was at #5, and following the Bears' convincing win against Kansas State, their head-to-head victory finally vaulted them ahead of the Horned Frogs. However, that wasn't the case at all. The two teams were separated by three spots in the poll, so it makes little to no sense for TCU to drop below them in the committee's final poll. Also, with Florida State winning another nail-biter, why did this convince the committee that the Seminoles, ranked #4 last week, was a better team than then #3 TCU? Did Florida State's 37-35 victory over Georgia Tech finally convince them they were better than a TCU team that beat Iowa State 55-3? The committee had already dropped the Seminoles two spots due to close victories. What changed their perception this time? In addition to that, what convinced the committee that #5 Ohio State was suddenly better than #3 TCU? One victory Ohio State hangs it hat is a 31-24 win against #25 Minnesota. TCU beat that same Minnesota team 30-7. Also, TCU's lone loss was a 3-point defeat on the road against the 5th-ranked and 11-1 Baylor Bears. Ohio State's lone loss was a 14-point defeat at home against 6-6 Virginia Tech. Lastly, based on such a small sample-size, why is the committee so convinced that Ohio State 3rd string quarterback Cardale Jones is the real deal and would give his team a better chance against top ranked Alabama than Baylor's proven quarterback, Bryce Petty, or TCU's Heisman trophy candidate at quarterback, Trevone Boykin? That seems like quite the gamble to take, especially for it being the committee's first season.

As I said at the outset of this writing, if it had been up to me, I would have ranked Florida State at #1, Oregon at #2, Alabama at #3, and Baylor at #4. However, with how the committee had ranked the teams last week, their final rankings made absolutely no sense. If the committee wanted to be consistent and to come across as at all credible, they would have ranked Alabama at #1, Oregon at #2, Florida State at #3, and TCU at #4 (Alabama and Oregon flip-flopping is debatable, and I only flip-flopped Florida State and TCU due to the Seminoles finishing undefeated and beating a top 15 team in the ACC Championship game), with Ohio State still at #5 and Baylor still at #6. In the future, the committee will either need to learn how to be more consistent (and sensible) with their rankings or they'll need to follow the NCAA Tournament committee's lead and announce the rankings one time and one time only - the day following the conference championship games.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I'm "embarrassed" for Mike Ditka

Former Chicago Bears head coach, current ESPN NFL analyst, and favorite to be the lead actor in the film Grumpiest Old Men - Mike Ditka - decided to take his grumpiness to the Chicago Sun Times, where he wrote a bit concerning the St. Louis Rams players' pre-game protest this past Sunday. His piece went as follows:

"It's a shame this thing has come to this. The shame of it is, I'm not sure they care about Michael Brown or anything else. This was a reason to protest and to go out and loot. Is this the way to celebrate the memory of Michael Brown? Is this an excuse to be lawless? Somebody has to tell me that. I don't understand it. I understand what the Rams' take on this was. I'm embarrassed for the players more than anything. They want to take a political stand on this? Well, there are a lot of other things that have happened in our society that people have not stood up and disagreed about.

I wasn't in Ferguson. I don't know exactly what happened. But I know one thing: If we dismantle and limit the power of our policemen any more than we have already, then we're going to have a lot of problems in this country.

What do you do if someone pulls a gun on you or is robbing a store and you stop them? I don't want to hear about this hands-up crap. That's not what happened. I don't know what did happen, but I know that's not what happened. This policeman's life is ruined. Why? Because we have to break somebody down. Because we have to even out the game. I don't know. I don't get it. Maybe I'm just old fashioned."

This may be one of the dumbest comments I've read in a while, and believe me, I've read my fare share. Ditka opens by questioning the Rams players' true motives, saying he's embarrassed for them, and insinuating that they were celebrating unlawful behavior. Yet, through this muddled mess, he says, "I don't understand it." Obviously, but please continue anyway...

He then laid down the following statements over the next two paragraphs, which didn't make a bit of sense at all:

"I wasn't in Ferguson. I don't know exactly what happened. ... I don't want to hear this hands-up crap. That's not what happened. I don't know what did happen, but I know that's not what happened..."

Say what? So, let me get this straight, Coach Ditka, you don't know exactly what happened in Ferguson since you weren't there, but know Michael Brown didn't have his hands up, even though you don't know, but do? Is that right?

Here's what those comments sound like to me: "So, like, I wasn't like at the party and stuff, but like, I know what went on there, but I don't, but I do, you know what I'm saying? Are you going to finish that joint? Far out, man."

Ditka then closes his column with a loud thud, where the echo screams out the word, "ignoramus." He asks what one would do if someone pulled a gun on them. Good question, considering the fact the likes of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner weren't carrying guns, and the first and second in the group were shot and killed by one.

He then said, "The policeman's life is ruined. Why? Because we have to break somebody down. Because we have to even out the game. I don't know. I don't get it. Maybe I'm just old fashioned."

A policeman, who killed an unarmed man, has a ruined life because we feel the need to "break somebody down"? The policeman is still living, while the unarmed man he killed is no longer. Whose life was ruined again?

Person: A living policeman

Ditka: "His life is ruined!"

Person: An unarmed man that was killed by the policeman

Ditka: "Eh, whatever"

Mike Ditka may be embarrassed for the St. Louis Rams players for protesting and bringing awareness to police violence against blacks. As for me, I'm embarrassed for Mike Ditka. He was right about one thing in his column, though; he really doesn't get it.


When someone says Obama is the worst president ever, just show them this...

In this country, we seem to be rather obsessed with rankings, and with that, hyperbole. Rarely does a sports fan shout out, "We're #17! We're #17! We're #17!" With regard to politics, rarely do you hear someone yell, "He's the 19th worst president in history!" No, it seems that most times, it's all about the "best" and the "worst," without allowing rationale and mathematical odds to enter the mind before speaking. Did I think George W. Bush was a bad president? Yes. However, am I about to call him the worst in our history? Not quite. First off, I've only been around for 33 years, so it's difficult for me to fully understand what each and every president went through during their tenure, and how the people at large were impacted by their policies. Secondly, I haven't done enough research to confidently declare that of all 44 presidents, Dubya is the very worst. I would garner a guess that he's down there a ways, but that's as far as I'll take it at this time.

Like with each and every president it seems, however, I've heard plenty of people refer to Barack Obama as our worst president ever, and at this, I have to chuckle some. At least when making such a hyperbolic statement with regard to Bush, one can point out the fact that when the former president started his tenure, he had a surplus to work with, and at the end of his tenure, we were going through what was called The Great Recession. That still doesn't make such a bold claim fully accurate, of course. However, I can understand that rationale much more than when making a similar claim with regard to Barack Obama. Let's look at the numbers, shall we?

When President Obama took office in January of 2009

The Dow Jones Index: 7,949

Unemployment: 7.8%

GDP Growth: -5.4%

Deficit GDP %: 9.8%

Consumer Confidence: 37.7

Six Years Later

The Dow Jones Index: 17,573 (+9,624)

Unemployment: 5.8% (-2.0%)

GDP Growth: 3.5% (+8.9%)

Deficit GDP %: 2.8% (-7.0%)

Consumer Confidence: 94.5 (+56.8%)

Based on those numbers, I imagine every president wishes they were as bad. Isn't that right, Dubya?


A poem in response to the Michael Brown and Eric Garner rulings

I'm frankly getting fed up with hearing about all of these stories concerning white cops killing unarmed black men, and then hearing people's defense of the cops (including the cops themselves), as they resort to stereotypes, fallacies, and dehumanization as a means for excuse. So, in response to this, and in conjunction with a building rage inside of myself, I've decided to resort to writing a poem regarding matters.

Black Lives Matter

Don't wear a hoodie,
Even if it's raining,
Always bring an umbrella,
Even though no one else does,

Don't wear baggy pants,
Where guns can be lodged,
Even though that's a myth,
So says Snopes.com,

Don't put your hands in your pockets,
Even when it's cold and snowing,
Don't wear a coat either,
That might worry people too,

Don't wear anything nice,
That may make people wonder,
"Did he rob a store?"
"Is that what he did with welfare?"

Don't drive a nice car,
As that will get the lights flashing,
"Are you sure this is your vehicle?"
"I'm going to need to see license and registration,"

Don't listen to rap,
For it will just lead to violence,
Just like listening to fairy tales,
They always lead to happiness,

Don't go out at night,
Don't go out during the day,
Don't pay with cash,
Don't act overly friendly,

Blindly accept that we're all equals,
That this is a post-racial society,
Due to one half-black president,
After we elected 43 white ones,

Still being seen as a threat,
Based on the color of one's skin,
Seeing guilt before shown evidence,
Their lives seen as less important,

Unarmed and choking,
"I can't breathe," he says,
As the nation watches,
Many unaffected,

As his heart stopped,
So too did many's empathy,
Their conscience,
Their humanity,

Punished for who they are,
Punished for what they wear,
Punished out of prejudice,
Punished out of nonsensical fear,

Black lives matter,
Just like everyone else's,
Deserving of equal rights,
Deserving of equal treatment,

It's time to rise up,
Let our voices be heard,
That cops aren't above the law,
That black lives matter.

In light of the police rulings, hard-core conservatives appear to be confused...

Over the past 20-30 years, it's become increasingly clear where the two political parties stand on the issue of authority. While Democrats have tended to say things such as, "Government can help. We can do some good. We can make a positive difference in people's lives," Republicans have tended to say, "Government is evil! Don't trust anyone! Everyone is out to get you! We're now living in a police state!"

Yes, I may have slightly exaggerated there, but you get the point. This is why I've been so befuddled by many conservatives' responses to the non-indictments of police officers Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, in the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Such individuals have defended the police of their actions by saying things such as:

- "They were just doing their jobs."

- "What else were they supposed to do?"

- "You shouldn't say anything to the police. Everyone knows that."

- "Garner actually died because he was fat."

- "Brown and Garner were bigger than the cops."

- "These things happen sometimes."

- "It has nothing to do with race."

- "Why not talk about the bigger problem, blacks killing other blacks?"

Yes, many hard-core conservatives, whom regularly declare they're anti-authority and claim that politicians, President Obama in particular, are taking away our freedoms, seem to have no problem with other people of power (cops) taking away every freedom a person has - his life. How inconsistent and backwards is that thinking?

Situation: The Affordable Care Act gets implemented

Conservatives' reaction: "The government is taking away our freedoms by giving more people healthcare!"

Situation: A white cop doesn't get indicted for killing an unarmed black man

Conservatives' reaction: "They were just doing their jobs. Whatever..."

When the president did his job, it resulted in millions more people getting health insurance, and conservatives lambasted him for it because they claimed it was stripping Americans of their freedoms. When a cop was allegedly doing his job, it resulted in an unarmed man being choked to the point where he was left with no freedoms, as he laid there dead. The Affordable Care Act has allowed more Americans to breathe healthily. The cop's actions stopped a man's breathing. Conservatives can cry out as much as they'd like that the implementation of "Obamacare" stripped us of our freedoms. at least we have the freedom to pick and choose which healthcare option is best for us. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and others like them, will never again have that choice. They'll never again have any choice or freedom at all. They'll forever be gone from this world because certain authority figures abused their power and took their lives, all the while conservatives complain about having to buy health insurance.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

TGI Fridays + mistletoe drones + a kiss cam = TGIF 'n' A (Thank God It's Friday 'n' Awkward)

According to recent reports, it appears as if TGI Friday's will be experimenting with the concept of mistletoe drones and a kiss cam this holiday season. Yes, in the UK and in parts of the US, some couples will be greeted by a mistletoe drone, and if they kiss, they'll be rewarded with a Friday's gift card. There will even be a kiss cam to showcase some of these very moments. No, I can't see anything going wrong here. The first word I thought of when hearing about this idea was "awkward." I have to imagine at least one of the following scenarios will take place at least once, at least in my mind:

Scenario #1: Two friends, one of whom has a crush on the other

Donna Naivete: "Hey, I'm hungry. Wanna go somewhere and grab a bite to eat?"

Russell Gotchanow: "Yeah, that sounds great! I'm getting hungry too." :: mumbles :: "...for love..."

Donna: "What was that?"

Russell: "Oh, nothing"

Donna: "Have any ideas on where we should go?"

Russell: "I haven't been to Friday's in a while. How about there?"

Donna: "Okay, that sounds good. I'll meet you there in a half-hour. Sound good?"

Russell: "Sounds lovely" :: chuckles ::

Donna: "What's so funny?"

Russell: "Oh, nothing. I'll see you there in a half-hour."

:: they arrive at the restaurant and sit down ::

Donna: "What are those things flying around?"

Russell: "I'm not sure." :: motions to the person in control of the drone to head over to them ::

Donna: "Whoa. That thing is getting closer."

Russell: "I know..."

:: the drone stops ahead of them ::

Donna: "Is that a mistletoe?"

Russell: :: smiles :: "I think so. Shall we?" :: leans in for a kiss ::

Donna: :: backs away :: "I don't think so."

Russell: "But, but, we'll get a free gift card if we kiss and we're on that kiss cam over there."

Donna: "You mean, you knew about this? You were just trying to get me to kiss you, even though I'm engaged, to your brother?"

Russell: "Donna, I can explain... I..."

Donna: :: storms out ::

Russell: "That went well. Anyone else want to get a free gift card? How about you over there? No? Okay then... Waiter? Can I get a shot of Everclear please? Thanks."

Scenario #2: A first date

Johnny Erectus: "I was thinking about going to dinner tonight for our first date. How does that sound?"

Jessica Prudish: "That sounds good. Where at?"

Johnny: "Hmm... You did say you don't kiss on first dates, right?"

Jessica: "That's right. Why?"

Johnny: "Oh, no reason. How about Friday's then?"

Jessica: "Okay, that sounds good. But why there exactly and why did you ask if I kissed on first dates?"

Johnny: "Oh, nothing. How about I pick you up at 7?"

Jessica: "Sounds good. I better go and get ready."

:: they arrive at the restaurant and he sits next to her ::

Jessica: "Why don't you sit across from me so we don't have to turn our heads to look at each other and make eye contact?"

Johnny: "Oh, just this..." :: motions for the person in charge of the drone to move it toward them ::

Jessica: "What the...? Is that a...?"

Johnny: :: pulls her head towards his and kisses her ::

Jessica :: pushes him off her :: "What is wrong with you? I told you I didn't kiss on first dates!"

Johnny: "That's what you thought before Johnny Erectus put his moves on Jessica Prudish."

Jessica: "Gross! That's it! I'm leaving!"

Johnny: "But I drove"

Jessica: "I'll get a cab."

Johnny: "Come on... A kiss at Fridays on a Friday. How about staying over and giving ol' Johnny Erectus more than that on Saturday?"

Jessica: "You wish! By the way, do you always talk in the third-person like that? It's annoying."

Johnny: "Johnny Erectus never talks in the third-person and is never annoying. What Johnny Erectus is, is..."

Jessica: "Oh, shut it! On that note, Jessica Prudish is leaving!"

Scenario #3: A brother and sister that haven't seen each other in a while

Jacque Distant: :: picks his sister up at the airport ::

Jacqueline Distant: :: while in the car :: "I'm getting so hungry. Have you eaten dinner yet?"

Jacque: "No, actually, so yeah, I'm getting hungry too."

Jacqueline: "How about that Fridays over there? The parking lot doesn't look too full."

Jacque: "Yeah, that sounds good."

:: the two enter the restaurant, sit down, and order a meal ::

Jacqueline: "So, how have you been? I haven't seen you in so long. You're looking great. Have you been working out?"

Jacque: "It has been a while, hasn't it? At least a year"

Jacqueline: "Might be closer to two"

Jacque: "But, yeah, so I have been doing this new workout. It's a French karate workout, which kind of pokes fun at Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid. It's called 'Jacque On, Jacque Off.'"

Jacqueline: "That's funny... Uh, what's that above our heads?"

Jacque: "It looks like a mistletoe. Let's just do the polite friend-family-kiss-on-the-cheek and hopefully it'll leave us alone."

:: kiss on the cheek ::

Stranger: :: yells :: "Come on! You can do better than that!"

Jacque and Jacqueline: :: faces turn bright red ::

Other customers: "Boo!"

Jacque: "Do they realize we're brother and sister?"

Jacqueline: "Apparently not. Where do they think this is, Kentucky?"

Jacque: "Yeah, apparently so. Excuse me, waiter, can we get our meals to go please? Thanks."

Other potential awkward occurrences: 

- Exes

- In-laws

- Two blind people

- Germophobes

- A teacher and student

- A boss and employee

- A gay couple that doesn't get recognized

- The drone bumping into somebody's head

- The drone going dead in someone's meal

- Drunk people destroying the drone

Perhaps Friday's should divide the restaurant into a drone and non-drone section, so they can avoid some of these before-mentioned scenarios. Otherwise, the restaurant may want to change its name to TGIF 'n' A, or Thank God It's Friday 'n' Awkward.


The real reason why Republicans are upset with President Obama's executive action on immigration

Ever since President Obama took office in January of 2009, he's spoken out about the need for immigration reform. Much to his dismay, however, through a term and a half, Congress has been negligent on taking action regarding the matter. Democrats feared losing votes on election day and Republicans feared a Democratic President being credited with accomplishing immigration reform, and with that, losing millions of former illegal immigrants to the Democratic Party in coming elections. In other words, the two parties decided their own political futures were more important than proving they deserved political futures by actually working together and accomplishing something in Washington.

Upon seeing that there was less chance of Congress working together on the matter than of a dead man winning the lottery, President Obama decided to, like Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush before him, take executive action on immigration. This infuriated Congressional Republicans. Some called for a lawsuit against the president. Others called for impeachment. Many referred to him as a king or an emperor, even though conservative scholars said his actions were legal and these same Republicans didn't make a peep when former Presidents Bush and Reagan took similar executive actions.

The truth of the matter is that Congressional Republicans aren't necessarily angered that the president made an executive order or even with the concept of immigration reform. They're angry because they thought they had the president cornered on the issue, that he wouldn't give up trying to work with Congress, and this inevitable stalemate would result in the Democratic Party losing some minority votes (especially in the Hispanic community) in the 2016 election. They're angry because now President Obama has placed them in a difficult position, he'll now get credited for immigration reform, and this will result in the Democratic Party likely earning more minority votes come election day.

While the Republican Party thought they were one step ahead of the president and that he'd allow for things to stay that way, he decided to make an unexpected next move which placed he and his party one step ahead of them, and they're having trouble deciding what their next move should be. If the GOP decides to fight President Obama on his executive order and finds a way to win, they'll be seen by many immigrants as the anti-immigrant (especially Latino) party. This will likely motivate minorities to turn up in larger numbers come election day. If the GOP fights President Obama on the issue and loses, they'll still be seen by many minorities as the anti-immigrant party, and once again, this will likely rile such voters, enough to make a big splash on election day. If the GOP lets things go, then while President Obama will be credited for the big move and change in direction on immigration reform and it will likely help his party in the coming elections, it also leaves the door open for the GOP to slowly, but surely, attempt to appeal to minority voters. The best move the GOP could make, in my opinion, would be to applaud the president on his actions and to even announce that there's more he can do on the matter, specifically tell the media about these ideas, and adamantly state that they'd be happy to work with the president to accomplish such goals. While President Obama, a Democratic President, would still be largely credited with immigration reform, it would likely place the two parties on more even-footing within the Hispanic community come election day, and would, at least temporarily, place the GOP one step ahead of the president on the issue yet again. Of course, I don't expect this to happen. Judging by the early comments on the matter, the GOP is about as likely to applaud President Obama on his executive action and work with him to accomplish more on the matter of immigration reform as a mime has of being the winner on The Voice.