It’s Time For Atlanta To Step Up

I was listening to The Ringer‘s The Bill Simmons Podcast with his guest, die hard Atlanta fan Rembert Browne, last week, and the two had a hard time coming up with any real defining sports memory for Atlanta in the last 20 years. It made me sad. I’m not even a fan of Atlanta – the teams or the city, though I like the TV show. Not that I don’t like the teams or the city, they just don’t really register with me. And I guess that’s kind of the point. Atlanta is a major metropolitan city in the United States of America, and most people would forget to put it on the list of top ten media markets (it’s number 9). Sunday, their football team has a chance to finally step up.

It’s probably not fair to put the fate of a city’s reputation on the professional football team, but we do it. Plus, this is my column and I’ll judge cities in any way I choose. How do you think about Cleveland, after all? Or at least, how DID you (though, you probably still feel the lovable loser thing, right?)? That being said, Atlanta has been on the precipice before. They were supposed to dominate Major League Baseball in the ’90s, but instead turned in the dynasty that wasn’t. The Braves went ahead and got themselves one world championship, the year after the strike that got everybody to stop paying attention to baseball. Around that time, they had Deion Sanders playing two sports in the city – NEON Deion, for chrissakes! Maybe kids today don’t know, but that was about the biggest deal. Yet, that didn’t last long either, and Atlanta slowly faded back into being the part of that trivia question that Americans couldn’t quite get off the tip of their tongue.

They made Super Bowl 33 (you’re welcome, non-Romans, for the regular numerals). But, who even remembers that mostly nondescript game. I remember it – I was a huge John Elway fan, and nailing down two in a row was awesome. But I’ll forgive you if you don’t remember Chris Chandler et al. And now, they are back, a mere 19 years later, with the chance the whole city should be waiting for. The chance to take down the winningest sports city1 of the young century. They should relish the idea. There should be no other team that they wanted to face.

Yet, the public outside of Atlanta doesn’t seem to have much faith, if gambling lines are used to gauge – which they are. I don’t think they’ve seen much of the Falcons this season. In a vacuum, with no history, the Falcons are decided favorites. But, this isn’t a vacuum, and there is history, and it is on the Patriots side.

Before the season started, Huey was in Las Vegas. I asked him to put $100 on the Pats to win the Super Bowl, and because he knows how much I hate them, and he didn’t want to see me rooting for them, he said “no.” So, now, in service to my Patriot-hate, and so I don’t badger Huey for the $1100 I should have won, it’s time for Atlanta to step up, as a football team, and a city, and shine on the biggest stage we have in America, Super Bowl Sunday. Or, as many others might recognize it, at the Lady Gaga concert this weekend.

Pilot Your Auto!

I’m tired of everyone with any political power or editorial readership espousing the idea that we can make any and all activities that any person embarks on safe not only for all around us, but for ourselves. The world is a dangerous place. It’s much less dangerous than ever, but our minds still see the danger at every turn, only now, we won’t accept any risk.

This hit me today with the rash of anti-Tesla “autopilot” articles pasted across the internet. It started as a call to force Tesla to turn the feature off for all Tesla drivers after ONE fatal accident, in which a driver was killed when the car failed to brake and drove into a semi crossing in front of it…wait for it…while he was watching a Harry Potter movie instead of driving (might I suggest listening to something instead – a Podcast, perhaps?). For those that don’t know, the “autopilot” is really just a combination of adaptive cruise control, which will keep your car going at the speed of the flow of traffic, plus lane assist, which keeps you from veering out of your lane. You are required to continue piloting the vehicle.

Consumer Reports piled on today, saying the name “autopilot” was confusing to drivers, and in some half-hearted attempt to find a middle ground, called on Tesla to change the name. If you have $85,000 to spend and 18 months to wait for your car to be delivered, I think you should be expected to read the fucking manual. Or watch the youtube video, while seated comfortably at home and not out not driving your car. And if you kill yourself because you didn’t, well, sorry, but I don’t miss you. And neither does the gene pool.

But, then the chorus of saving innocent lives rises up. Because, inevitably one of these rich morons is going to mow somebody down whose only crimes were jaywalking and bad depth perception. And we must avoid this AT ALL COSTS, “they” will tell you. I think if we make it plainly clear to people with driver assist features that not continuing to actively “drive” with the features turned on can lead to a murder charge, maybe they’ll wake up in the driver’s seat. It is absolutely impossible to make our roads 100% safe. But you know what has greatly improved safety, particularly on highways, where crashes at higher speeds lead to more deaths? That’s right – driver assist features.

So while the whole country freaks out about one “autopilot” death, and one other minor “autopilot” accident in Teslas over the last two months, more than 5,500 other fatal automobile accidents occurred. How many more were avoided because a drowsy driver had his lane assist on and the car righted itself within it’s lane? Impossible to calculate, but if it’s one, we’re doing better. And, how many of the 5,500+ fatal accidents may have been prevented by one or a combination of these features? I would be willing to bet that many, if not most, could be avoided.

These features are a giant leap forward in technology that is scaring Luddites. Many of the same people that will tell you the science is in on their favorite pet political issue can’t understand the basic math of statistics that backs progressing technology towards the option of driver-less cars. Did you hear the outrage when a Google self-driving test car got into a minor accident with a bus a few weeks back? People were apoplectic. It was ONE accident. People drive into the sides of buses every four and a half minutes in this country* (*all stats with an asterisk made up by the author). The piece people can’t seem to wrap their heads around is who to blame for a robotic mistake. For the time being it’s pretty easy – you must drive your car, be awake, and not be watching Harry Fucking Potter – I mean, you have to be over 16 to drive, so shouldn’t that remove the Potter Effect anyway? Therefore, the driver is still accountable. In the future, we are going to have to accept that the old adage “accidents do happen” is an old adage for a reason, because it’s true, and at least we will only have to cope with a slight percentage of highway traffic fatalities with no idea who to blame instead of the 32,675 that were most certainly caused by people in 2014.

This constant state of fear that the leaders of this country (political and thought leaders) are promoting is useful to them to seem important, or to yell and scream at “corporate America” about for extra clicks. But it has no basis in reality. It has reared it’s ugly head into a way that is limiting your freedoms (see Uber, AirBnB and the rants I have to come on those topics), but now, more importantly, it is inadvertently (or maybe intentionally, if you think these people have evil ulterior motives) making you less safe than you could be.

If I have to hear one more politician say something like “we need time to take a longer look at {blank} and study the further effects of this technology before we can recommend blah, blah, blah and blah restrictions that will put off progress for many, many years and pretty much make the service it provides unaffordable and render the societal and personal benefits null and void, in the interest of your safety,” I’m going to puke.

Embrace technology. Err on the side of progress. Drive your car. Stop Watching Harry Potter (not just in your car – everywhere; really, just enough already).

Odd News: Say It Ain’t So, Apollo-boy

Crisis-hit Greece to recruit man’s best friend to sniff out tax dodgers

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece will be recruiting dogs to sniff out potential tax dodgers trying to take cash out of the crisis hit country, where mass bank withdrawals prompted capital controls last year.

In a posting on a government web portal on Wednesday, the Finance Ministry said it would be putting together a team to assess tenders for the provision of dogs tasked with detecting cash.

More than 50 billion euros left banks from November 2014 to July last year on fears the country could crash out of the euro, a crisis which culminated in capital controls and a new international bailout for the country.

Banking sources estimate that anything between 15 and 20 billion euros is still being hoarded by Greeks outside the banking system. Tax evasion is still thought to be rampant.

Authorities prefer German Shepherds, Labradors or Belgian Melinois, the government document said, reported on Greece’s Star Channel TV. A pedigree was not necessary.

Why I’m Retiring From Football

I’m not concussed. Though some of my football watching buddies probably think I am. I’m not tired of the daily grind and putting in all the work. I don’t even play football. I’m just tired. I’m tired of rooting for who I think are the good guys, while loudmouths and cheaters prevail. I’m tired of seeking out one particular game my team is playing every week, even if their opponent is some shitbox like the Raiders. I’m tired of caring so much about the fates of men I’ll never meet or ever really know. So, just like my latest favorite player, Peyton Manning, and my childhood hero before him, John Elway, I am officially going out on top, a retired fan of the current Super Bowl Champions.

I hear a lot of “you can’t do that,” “you were never a real fan” and “you’ll be right back to it.” But, it’s not happening. I won’t be pacing around the room during tense playoff moments. I won’t be screaming at televisions, often in public because some half blind idiot under the hood can’t see the super slo-mo replay just the way my 20/20 vision did (I’m awfully tired of 17 weeks of discussing what a catch is too, more on my thoughts on this inanity below). It was one thing to be so sucked in as a 12-year-old boy when John Elway and my Broncos got beat rather handily by the much hated Giants. But, I’m a man now. I’m 40.

Let me address the comments I get individually. First, I can do that. I can do whatever in the fuck I want to. Secondly, don’t lecture me about fandom. You can call me fair-weather, but you’re just a homer. This isn’t your grand-pappy’s sports era. If a team owner, manager or player does something stupid, or something unconscionable, you can hate them. Even if they live in the nearest metro market deemed worthy by the NFL (we use proper abbreviations here, I won’t be stylizing my point by accenting “in the National Football League” anywhere). You can receive free agency if you’ve put in your rookie time, usually done in your youth, where you cry in your bedroom as your favorite team continues to get pummelled in two more Super Bowls. And finally, if you think I’ll be back, you’re right, but not as a fan of a team. I’m now a football mercenary.

At the end of the day, years of just wanting that team to get there and agonizing over not making it WAS worth winning the Super Bowl (good on you Cleveland!). I’ve been quite lucky, really. The team I was a fan of may have lost those three early bowls, but we all know the John Elway story of going out on top. I should have then. It would have been a perfect exit, I just didn’t see it. With the bumbling of the effort to replace Elway, I did get out of Denver. I couldn’t watch Bubby Brister on a regular. But, the football gods gave me Peyton Manning. As a quarterback fan first, it was my lucky day. There was that 3-13 year to suffer through, but no matter, it seemed I’d be on a ride for many, many Super Bowls. Well, there was the one at the end of the day. And it felt great. I should have gotten out then, but, come on, there would be more. Then another bowl loss and the move to back to Denver. My old favorite team hiring my new favorite player – what could be better? Well, that would have been a good time to get out. As I sat watching Seattle destroy the Broncos in another Super Bowl, I felt a lot like that 12-year old crying in his bed after the game. I didn’t want to feel that way anymore – I was almost a man, almost forty. But I toughed it out for three more seasons and now the magical ride is over.

So, what exactly is a football mercenary? I’m not quite sure, but I think it’s that I’m a fan of the game of football. On the field. Not the NFL. Not the business part of it. The Xs and Os. So, I’m going to watch the game that is on. I’m going to watch the game I think is going to be good. I’m going to keep calling coaches morons, because I think most of them are no good at their job. I’m going to join a real fantasy league for some actual dollars and just root for those guys, because who cares if your favorite team all wears the same color, plays on the same field or even on the same day of the week. I’ll probably even blow some money on a few DraftKings games – thanks New York State Legislature for finally figuring out how to get your hand far enough down the weekly fantasy sports companies’ pockets so that we can play again…now extort a little more from Uber and Lyft, would you already?

If you’re a fan of a team that has won some Super Bowls, I invite you to join me. Stop driving yourself crazy every season. Sit back and enjoy the game itself. Throw a few bucks down now and then if you need a little rooting interest. And stop acting like a little kid, especially in public. I’m going to try it, and I can’t wait. I think I’m going to have a great football season.


 

Can we talk about catches for one minute

So, I hear the NFL re-re-defined what a catch is again yesterday. Hold on, I’m going to go see if they fixed this problem…Okay, I’m back. I actually think maybe, just maybe, they made it slightly better. But, who knows? They write in such ridiculous lawyer speak that every ref is going to interpret that new paragraph, sandwiched between some old, bad stuff, in a different manner. They should really just have come to me for answers. Here is what a catch is: “when a guy catches the ball.” End of story. Let me simplify it for you – a catch is like obscene pornography, I know it when I see it. So should the referees. We all know Calvin Johnson (you will be missed, sir) caught that ball. We all know that Dez Bryant caught that ball in a playoff game (sorry to {start Borat accent}My Wife{/Borat accent}, the Packers fan). Now, the game moves fast, so, if the head mother-reffer in charge isn’t sure about a catch, he gets to go under the hood of confusion and look at it and in about 25 seconds, he should have a decision. He doesn’t need some jag-off in New York reading him confusing prose on the subject of catching balls. Everybody on that field and almost everybody in the stands and watching on TV has been throwing and catching a football since before their long term memory kicked in. We know what a catch is. So, a catch is officially when the referee says it is. End of god damned story. Blow the whistle.

Odd News: 1, 2, 3 Strikes Yer Out!

Would-be burglar in Florida beaten with his own bat, flees bleeding heavily

Bat’s how we do it!

A Florida woman beat a would-be burglar with his own weapon during a botched break-in.

Noah Dassat, 33, beat down the door of a North Port home Thursday, according to a police press release.

The California man allegedly went after the family of five — which included three children, ages 2, 9 and 10 — with a black wooden baseball bat.

After a brief struggle, father Jason Petty caught Dassat in a bear hug, while his wife Allison Young nabbed the burglar’s bat — and beat him with it.

Bleeding heavily and sporting “significant head injuries,” Dassat fled on foot, leaving behind his bat and a hat, according to a police report obtained by the Daily News.

The hatless cat burglar was later apprehended after giving a fake name at a Port Charlotte hospital.

The night before the break-in, Dassat apparently cased the joint, knocking on the door and asking for “Josh,” police said.

After the badly-executed burglary, police found a blood-spatterred vehicle with a Texas plate, which they later identified as the car Dassat was driving.

Now, he’s facing charges including armed burglary, battery and criminal mischief — a total of four felonies and one misdemeanor.

Dassat — who is a carpenter from Santa Cruz, according to sheriff’s office records — is being held in the Charlotte County Jail with no bond.

“We would never recommend violence, but you certainly have the right to protect yourself, so do what you have to do, I guess,” North Port Police spokesman Joshua Taylor said.

The family’s neighbors were proud of their bat-wielding neighbors.

“Kudos to them!” said neighbor Sherri Mitchell.

“That’s how we roll around here,” said Jim Joyce, another neighbor.

Odd News: Feelin’ HOT HOT HOT!

Dozens burned in Texas walking on hot coals at Tony Robbins seminar

By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) – As many as 40 people were injured after walking on hot coals as part of a self-help seminar hosted by motivational speaker Tony Robbins in Texas, fire officials said on Friday.

Attendees of the “Unleash the Power Within” event, held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas, reported burns to their feet and legs just after 11 p.m. on Thursday, Dallas Fire and Rescue spokesman Jason Evans said.

“A lot of the attendees were asked to walk across hot coals, and as a result, a lot of the people sustained burn injuries,” Evans said.

Of the 30 to 40 people injured, five were treated at the Parkland Hospital burn unit, Evans said. The others were treated and released at the scene. It was unclear how many participated in the coal walk.

The three-day seminar is intended to help people “break through any limit” and improve their quality of life, according a description posted on Robbins’ website.

Representatives for Robbins, who is a popular motivational speaker, personal finance adviser and bestselling author, were not immediately available for comment.

According to media reports, 21 out of 6,000 people who walked on hot coals at a Robbins event in 2012 in California were treated for burns.

Most people avoid burns because coals are not efficient conductors of heat, but standing too long in one spot and other factors can increase the risk. In the 2012 incident, there was speculation that the large number of people participating caused the lines of firewalkers to slow down, raising chances of burns.

(Additional reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Odd News: Florida Is At It Again

Florida man brags about burglary on Facebook, lands in jail

By Melissa Fares

(Reuters) – A Florida burglar who posted a Facebook video bragging about a $500,000 jewelry haul has landed himself and one of his accomplices in jail, police said on Thursday.

Officers from Pinecrest, Florida said they arrested Raderius Glenn Collins, 18, after he uploaded the video to Facebook on May 27. His friend, Marcus Terrell Parker, 27, was arrested after another burglary on June 9, police said.

They are still searching for a third suspect, who is seen in the video in the passenger seat of the car flashing $100 bills to the camera.

The video, which runs more than seven minutes long and has over 3,000 views, showed the men bragging about their illegal earnings, exclaiming: “We got a safe” and “Can someone say check please?”

The man in the driver’s seat makes sure the traffic light is still red and proceeds to proudly reveal his bag of cash to the camera while the other two men cheer.

The burglars stole a safe from a home with jewelry valued at more than $500,000. Police say Collins and Parker later burglarized a second home and stole jewelry valued at more than $10,000 and a screwdriver that would later tie one of the arrested men to the burglary.

One of the arrested subjects told police that he and the other two subjects sold the stolen jewelry to a jewelry and watch shop and received $1,300 each in return.

Michelle Hammontree, communications director for Pinecrest, told Reuters that the Facebook video helped police establish a link between the burglary and the jewelry store, where the suspects pawned their ill-gotten goods. The bag featured in the video is the same one given to the suspects at the store.

“It was just one dumb decision after another,” Hammontree said.

Police said that while they are seeking a third suspect in the May 27 burglary, it is unclear whether he had involvement in the second break-in.

The Facebook video can be viewed here: (http://bit.ly/28QfTTi)

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Alan Crosby)