Curt Schilling and Logical Fallacies


CurtSchillingTweetFormer star major-league pitcher and current ESPN broadcaster Curt Schilling found himself running afoul of proper online sensibilities today when he tweeted (and then deleted) a picture comparing Nazis to contemporary Islamic extremism.

Naturally, outrage followed, particularly from Gawker Media’s Deadspin, which referred to Schilling as a “big idiot.” (Watch out, Oscar Wilde!) As expected, Schilling was savaged in the comments, and the discussion quickly turned to how Republican presidential candidates are roughly as extremist as Islamic terrorists.

What most pointedly caught my attention was the casualness with which critics changed the analogy that was being made by the graphic Schilling tweeted.

Olympic Hurdles


LHMOjgYVThe splendid news that Boston’s controversial 2024 Olympics bid has come to an end is just the latest evidence that people are beginning to wake up to the fact that hosting a five-ring spectacle of totalitarian bloat is not something that any city should want to do. As NPR notes:

The Olympics are often presented as a chance to enrich a city with new public spending. But Bent Flyvbjerg and Allison Stewart, the Oxford economists, point out that every Olympics since 1960 has gone above budget an average of 179 percent. They call the Olympics “one of the most financially risky type of mega projects that exists, something that many cities and nations have learned to their peril.”

Mayor Walsh of Boston said, “no benefit is so great that it is worth handing over the financial future of our city.”

Are You Ready for Some Canadian Football?


CFLlogoOnce again, football season is finally here. No, not the NCAA or the NFL, whose seasons do not begin until late August and early September, but rather the Canadian Football League, the first game of the 2015 season being a showdown tonight between the Ottawa RedBlacks and the Montréal Alouettes on ESPN2 at 6:30pm CDT. As for how I became interested in Canadian football, here is the story…

It was July of 2012 and I had just returned to Lubbock after having spent nearly two months in the United Kingdom doing historical research. The beginning of the NCAA and NFL football seasons was still several weeks away, but I noticed that there were a number of Canadian football games showing on ESPN3, so I decided to check them out. Almost instantly, I was hooked.

In contrast with American football, Canadian football uses a field that is 110 yards long and 65 yards wide, with each team fielding 12 players. As each team has only three downs (as opposed to the American four) to advance the ball, Canadian football features more passing, scoring, and more frequent lead changes. It is quite an interesting and exciting game in its own right. As for the scheduling, most games are played on Friday night and Saturday, with some Sunday games and certain special exceptions such as the first game of the season and games played on Canadian Thanksgiving in October. The playoffs conclude in late November with the Canadian Football League championship game, known as the Grey Cup.

UNC’s Academic Probation


unclogoThe University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a nationally known institute of higher learning. That, and they are known for their basketball history and some successful other sports as well. Last week, an academic accrediting body officially put the school on a one-year probation, after finding widespread fraud over an 18 year period in its African and Afro-American Studies department. The department is closely tied with the college’s athletics programs, and has cast a pall over the entire academic integrity of the school:

Wainstein’s report went much further than previous investigations and revealed an extensive pattern of academic fraud, which stretched nearly two decades and encompassed hundreds of fake independent studies and no-show classes in the African and Afro-American Studies department. Athletes were disproportionately enrolled in the sham classes, which helped them maintain sufficient grades to remain eligible to compete.

The investigation showed that athletic counselors steered players to the classes and documented that others at the university had some knowledge of the scheme.

Everything You Know About FIFA is Wrong


shutterstock_82074565FIFA is a shadowy tax-free organisation whose army of bureaucrats has been extorting bribes for years while they auction off the rights to host the World Cup. All that is evil about FIFA is personified by Sepp Blatter, who was forced to resign as a result of corruption investigations led by the FBI. Because FIFA controls world football with an iron fist, only change at FIFA will clean up the game.

Right? Wrong.

FIFA is a private organisation that pays taxes, publishes audited financial statements, and by-and-large is remarkably transparent (the recent election of the President was overseen by notaries and streamed live on the web.) It employs some 200 people in its general secretariat. None of them were arrested or are suspected of having taken bribes. For good reason – they wield little power.

Tom Brady and “Deflate-gate” — The Penalty Phase


brady_CBS Sports imageThe NFL is now weighing sanctions against Tom Brady, following the completion of its “Deflate-gate” investigation and the issuance of a long report. It’s a perfect, lighter-than-air cheating scandal for fans to ponder during the long off-season.

Per the rules, a proper NFL game football “shall be made up of an inflated (12.5 to 13.5 pounds per square inch) urethane bladder enclosed in a pebble grained, leather case (natural tan color) without corrugations of any kind.” Brady’s New England Patriots were caught using balls which later tested out as low as a relatively Charmin-soft 10.5 psi. That is one soft urethane bladder!

So in an NFL where players recently have been up to things like homicide, spousal/girlfriend abuse, and excessive parental discipline, here comes the league going after its best quarterback, maybe ever, for getting locker room attendants to test the lower limits of ball-inflation requirements before the AFC Championship game with the Indianapolis Colts.

Who Have You Got in the Kentucky Derby?


 AP Photo/Garry JonesThe first Saturday in May is upon us: Derby Day! I’ve become a fan ever since getting an HDTV. It’s so beautiful, and I’ve been known to well up during “My Old Kentucky Home”It’s about memories — not of Kentucky bluegrass, but of Carry Back and Secretariat.

Care to pick a winner? I’m sure you can beat my method, the tried-and-failed “great name” strategy.

American Pharaoh is the favorite. (Should he expect a congratulatory call from the President?)

New Baseball Commish Wants to Play Ball with Cuba


PitcherFidelAccording to a report in today’s Wall Street Journal, new baseball commissioner Rob Manfred wants to schedule a Spring Training game in Cuba in 2016.

“To the extent that we can play a role in helping the United States government effectuate a change in policy, that we’re following their lead and we’re acting in a way that’s consistent with what they want us to do, that’s an honor for us,” Manfred is quoted as saying.

There are those in the U.S. government — Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to name two — who may differ. So may many of the major league players, coaches, and managers who have had direct experience on what President Kennedy called “that imprisoned island” — still an accurate description.

The Death of Football


Chris Borland, promising young linebacker and nominee for the 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year Award shocked the world of professional football by announcing his retirement yesterday after just one year in the pros. He cites concerns over his health related specifically to several concussions, including one in his first preseason with the 49ers (he played through the pain for fear of losing his shot at the big leagues.) For a team that has already seen several prominent players retire early since the Super Bowl last month, Chris’ decision is a particularly devastating development.

Borland is not the first young player to announce he is retiring due to safety concerns; oft-injured Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker retired last week stating he no longer had the burning desire necessary to compete in such a physically demanding sport. Jason Worilds, too, has hung up his cleats, although his decision is based on a desire to pursue religious interests.

Member Post


Playoff hockey is going to begin soon. I’ll follow the NHL as well as the WHL playoffs. Portland Oregon has a 100 year history of hockey and a team from Portland has their name engraved on the Stanley Cup. The 1916 Stanley Cup Final was played between the National Hockey Association (NHA) champion Montreal Canadiens and […]

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