Responding To Everything Isn’t Always Necessary

My mother and sister had a conversation in my sister’s kitchen earlier this week that wasn’t earth-shattering, but simplistic and interesting.

The discussion was over an interview where the person was asked a question where the answered was guaranteed to generate some buzz. The person could have shied away and said “no comment” or come up with some nonsensical response that wouldn’t make sense.

Instead, the person answered the question honestly. As expected, a lot of people didn’t like what was said.

I think you know which story I’m talking about. To be upfront, I have never watched the show. I don’t know the stars on the show, what they do, or how they are being portrayed.

Therefore, if you think I’m going to offer an opinion on what he said, I’m not the guy to ask.

If there is one thing I have learned in 2013 is this: don’t offer an opinion on something that you don’t know about.

There are a lot of people out here that will find anything to be outraged about, even if they have no connection or know nothing about.

Being outraged for the sake of being outraged.

Who haven’t said something stupid, insane, or one that people don’t agree with. We have this uncompromising idea of expecting people to say what we want them to say, in order to make us feel good. This world isn’t all white picket fences and being politically correct.

There are some hard truths and uncomfortable things we have to hear, read, and see, to remind us that world and people doesn’t evolve at the same pace as we do individually or as a society.

And for that matter, we shouldn’t try to force and rush people into evolving overnight for our own liking. Time and patience are the only tools that can do that.

Back to my point: I find it interesting on how “mobs” of people react to things, small and large, and many never read or hear the entire story or statement.

Recently, the New York Times did a “Retro Report” on the popular story of a woman who was awarded over $2 million from McDonald’s after her cup of coffee was spilled on her lap. The world reacted with such uproar, that when the Times went back to review the story, they found the more the story got traction, the more people ignored the actual facts of the case.  They focused more on the $2 million “award” she was given.

All she wanted McDonalds to do is to lower the temperature that they were brewing their coffee at, which was 30 degrees warmer than what most national standards were set at (2:35 mark).

A cautionary tale of ignoring the facts and the rest of the story in our zeal to react to it immediately without consequence.

2014 might end up becoming the year of the “twitter mob” as marketing expert Ann Handley mentioned in her recent post.

I feel that I don’t need or have to respond or write about every story or topic everyone is talking about or offering comment.

There’s too much noise anyway.


No Room At The Workplace

People looking for work > jobs available. Despite the notion that the recession is slowly ending, the impact it has on people out of work continues to be alarming. (

Over the weekend, two New York Times (credit to SI’s Richard Deitsch for highlighting these links on his Media Matters column this week) articles about unemployment in Europe and here in the United States, reaffirms my belief that the middle class is extinct, or on the verge of it…and it is time to create a new identity and image that best represent what is left of the middle class and the unemployed.

In Spain, young aspiring workers in Spain are leaving their country for better opportunities for jobs elsewhere in Europe. Sadly, those opportunities never come to fruition. The unemployed here in America continue to fall through a downward spiral into parts unknown. Most are considered not hire-able due to being overqualified, unemployed/underemployed for a long period of time, and other various reasons.

It reminded me of the analogy in 2010 that Generation X is the “middle class”: they are in a precarious spot.

Writing from experience, I don’t foresee us returning to pre-recession days, because the culture has changed. Government isn’t creating a WPA and putting people to work, businesses are tightening their belt, or using more discriminatory practices to justify who to hire.

There are a few things I’ve gleaned from both articles and it relates to my personal experience with unemployment.

“Creating” jobs: during this recession, jobs and positions people had were either eliminated or was merged with another job or title. The promises of creating new jobs from elected officials is a silly notion. How can anyone create a job when there are more people out of work than there are jobs that in existence? After all, what is a “new” job?

Unintentional discouragement: phrases like “I hope you find something” or at worst, pat you on the head, feeling sorry for you are the biggest insults to the unemployed today. The unemployed want advice and opportunities, not hollow “feel-good” statements a la Stuart Smalley. They want a chance to feel like they are contributing and learning in the workforce.

This is the new world order we’re living in: it’s better to be in a dead-end job than to be unemployed and be told you’re not hire-able because you’re unemployed. That what it sounds like to me.

De-cluttering a Few Things: July 15, 2013

Hard to believe it's been a month since I visited this place. The Land of Mouse was quite a place to see.
It’s hard to believe it’s been a month since I visited this place. The Land of Mouse was quite a place to see.

A few thoughts to de-clutter as I start preparing for the prep football season, which starts in about 45 days.

Aaron Hernandez:  unless this story turns into O.J. Simpson part deux, Hernandez is in big trouble. Then again, anything can happen in a trial (see O.J., Duke Lacrosse, Casey Anthony, et al.). The point is this: if the prosecution doesn’t prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a suspect committed a crime, they have no case.

Stewart Mandel/Kirk Ferentz:  I guess Mandel was looking for a topic (hey it’s July, not much is going on), decided to throw something up against the wall and came up with the “worst coaches in college football” list, ahem, “right now.”

As Nipsey Russell famously said in “Wildcats”: “riiiiiight.”

Have Iowa struggled over the past few years? Yes. What is that attributed to, besides coaching/Ken O’Keefe/predictable defense/recruits not panning out? Yes, I’m looking at you Grant, Hassel, and the rest of you. And don’t tell me it’s Ferentz’s salary. That’s no longer an excuse to use.

Nearly every Division I-A coach in the six major conferences are paying their coaches in the range of $1-$5 million a year. USC paid Pete Carroll nearly $3 million/year and USC ended up on probation(!) and he skips town. Nick Saban gets $5 million/year and Lane Kiffin get about $3 million. .

It’s called paying the going rate. The next guy who comes to Iowa City will expect to get paid more than Ferentz and you know it. Also know this, his name won’t be Steve Spurrier or Will Muschamp. Iowa isn’t in that blue-blood group of college football royalty with Michigan, Notre Dame, and Bama. So, stop acting like we are in that group.

If anyone who thinks Nick Saban or any top notch coach in America is willing to come to Iowa City and coach the Hawkeyes, you would be wrong. Iowa is a “second-tier” program in their eyes.

No matter how you look at it, the south cares more about football than we do. They got big boosters who are not afraid to back up the Brinks truck to pay for the best coach on the market. And, they’re willing to break laws as well.

There are more Bill Knapps and Dick Jacobsons in the south than here in Iowa. Bobby Lowder and Phil Knight isn’t walking through the doors anytime soon.

And Iowa isn’t Alabama.

For anyone who thinks it’s a travesty that a football coach is the highest paid employee in Alabama and Iowa respectively, may I direct you to Pennsylvania. A college president is the highest paid employee there.

That said president let a pedophile assistant football coach prowl around campus and did nothing to stop it.

That’s your real travesty.

Nobody circles the wagons and drive SI’s Richard Deitsch crazy during the Home Run Derby telecast, like…. #backbackbackbackback (Sports Illustrated)

MLB All Star Game: Thom Loverro wrote about the possible reason for the decline of popularity and interest of the MLB All-Star Game. My opinion: not every team is needed to be represented in the All-Star game, and not all of them have to play in the game, regardless of what their incentive-laden contracts say.

Two can play at this game: Kate Taylor of the NY Times has an eye-opening (not so surprising) article on how women on college campuses are choosing not to pursue relationships and opting for casual encounters, similar to men.

How about these apples, Stephen Bloom!: The 80/35 festival, was a great one. It was my first one, since my family did not hold our annual 4th of July gathering this year. Good weather, great crowds, and different genre of music, headlined by David Byrne and St. Vincent, and Wu Tang Clan. David Byrne went as far as to write his thoughts about Des Moines in his online journal.

David Byrne and St. Vincent performing at 80/35. (

When you read this three-part essay about his time in Des Moines, it’ll make you appreciate having a celebrity write about how lucky and fortunate we are to live in Iowa and what we have going. Yeah, we’re not boring, right?

A tip of the fedora… to Geoff Conn. Geoff has accepted a full-time position with KVVL and KNIM radio in Maryville, Missouri. Geoff is one of the good guys in Des Moines/Central Iowa local radio, especially his work in sports. But above all, he is a man of humility and respect. Grand View University is losing a great announcer and ambassador, more importantly I can’t say how happy I am for him for this opportunity.

Tidbits: I went in for a checkup at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) in Iowa City late last week for my diabetic retinopathy. Around Memorial Day, there was hemorrhaging of the vitreous in my left eye. My specialist here in Des Moines referred me to Iowa City to determine if I will need a surgical procedure to clean out the hemorrhage.

It was determined I will not need surgery. The hemorrhage has dried up to a point where it does not interfere with my vision, basically the central part of the retina. I will continue receiving laser treatment and medicinal injections to the eyes as preventive maintenance. Down the road, I may need it, eventually, but right now it’s encouraging news to hear.

I hate to miss working football games with everyone’s friend Paul Yeager this fall.

There is no cure for proliferative diabetic retinopathy, only continued treatment for it is the most effective way to keep my eyes from going bad again.

That is good news, considering next month will mark one year since my health problems started. There are some rough days and encouraging days, but I’m slowly starting to feel “normal” again, whatever the “new” normal is. That’s quite alright with me.

With that, I’m grateful to the eye clinic at Broadlawns and UIHC. I would be in a world of trouble without them over the past few months.

Sunday Sports Leisure Reading – March 25, 2012

If college football resembled "Mad Men"... (courtesy of No 2-Minute Warning)

I haven’t done one of these for awhile, but there’s plenty of stuff going on that’s flying under the radar.

Deadspin this week profiled two former Drake Basketball greats in their series, “Tell Me When It’s Over”.  Willie Wise and current Drake color analyst Dolph Pulliam recalled their run to the Final Four and facing UCLA, and more importantly, their lives post-basketball.  This is a must-read for Bulldogs fans around the world.

Ty Duffy of The Big Lead pens an opinion that I agree with wholeheartedly with regards to the punishment handed down by Roger Goodell to New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, General Manager Mickey Loomis, and assistant coach Joe Vitt for their involvement in Bounty-“gate”.  Duffy reminds everyone that the criticism towards Goodell is not only shortsighted, but unwarranted for the most part.

Could Mizzou's Kim English have himself a budding career in being a college hoops analyst?

Greg Hall, popular Kansas City sports media blogger has quotes from Missouri basketball star Kim English during his appearance on KCSP 610-AM with sports talk show host Nick Wright.  English, who has struggled with speech disfluency (stuttering, for which I know very well from my experience), had a lot to say, including his opinions on several college basketball analysts.

Duffy also reports that John Infante, the college compliance officer behind the well-informative and insightful “Bylaw Blog” is shutting down the blog, effective April 7th.  “Bylaw” is a look into NCAA regulations and decisions.  Namely, what does the NCAA do, why do they do it, and the effects of it.  I will miss this site a lot.  I hope Infante, or someone else, down the road will either bring it back or create a new site that helps fans understand the inside look at NCAA rules.

The Wigwam, home of the Anderson Indians.

Craig Fuhrman of the NY Times writes this great story about an end of an era in Indiana.  The Wigwam was the home of Anderson (IN) High School for many years when basketball was king.  This recently past basketball season is the first that the Wigwam did not host a game.  The economic conditions and the shift of popularity from prep basketball to prep football in Indiana has put the game of basketball at a larger crossroads.

It’s time to get your martini, whiskey sour, or Old Fashioned on:  Mad Men makes its return after a 17-month hiatus with its long-anticipated 5th season.  Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times interviews Mad Men director Matthew Weiner about the return of Don Draper, Roger Sterling, and company, as well as Weiner’s need to keep things under wraps about what this season will bring.

Aaron Wernimont

Some somber news over the past few weeks that deserves to be mentioned by me.  Whereas everyone across the country is talking about a certain story in Florida (I don’t need to tell you what it is), there are several individuals whose lives were tragically cut short.  I chose to mention them here because they are part of my extended families (hometown, high school, and college) that are near and dear to me.

It’s easy to follow the current cause celebre, and that’s fine to do that, but personally for me, the deaths of the following hits closer to home for me.  Please take the time to read these stories.

Mollie Enwright

Aaron Werinmont

Preston Bradford

Lindsay Nichols

Sports and News Links (The Day After The “Big Game”)

Micah Hyde of Iowa (left) breaks up a Steele Jantz pass to Josh Lenz of Iowa State. (Rodney White/Des Moines Register)

There’s some news and interesting stories that may have flown under the radar over the past week.  Let’s check some Sunday reading before settling down to watch pro football or whatever suits your fancy. 

  • ESPN has been the king of sports coverage and have withstood most of their competitors.  Could that change now with the rise of Yahoo Sports?  With the acquisition of Sporting News Radio and rebranding it, and the recent addition of Bruce Feldman, ex of ESPN, Clay Travis breaks down how Yahoo Sports has bolstered their way to the top when it comes to the first place to get your sports mojo. 
  • University of Connecticut (UConn) Coach Jim Calhoun brings in a highly touted player, Andre Drummond, into the program.  Problem is, UConn has no more scholarships to hand out.  Backup center Michael Bradley decides to give up his scholly so UConn can give it to Drummond. 


Is Jim Calhoun and UConn thumbing their nose at the NCAA again? Warren K. Zola thinks so.


Many call Bradley’s move selfless, but Warren K. Zola (via Sports Law Blog), in the Huff Post, questions this under-noted practice and the NCAA’s inability to corral their member institutions. 

  • Will she run or not, that is the question when it comes to Sarah Palin.  She may be a lot of things, most of negative, but should her recent speech in Indianola have gotten more play?  You bet it should have.  Anand Giridharadas of the New York Times writes that Palin didn’t just assail the “far left”, but she delivers a sucker punch to the left, center, and the right of the political divide.  Her speech might raise a few eyebrows. 

If it was anyone else saying them, everyone would be talking by now.

That should do it for your Sunday. 

The Last Great Barrier: The Locker Room

Don Lemon revealed last week that he is gay. The biggest news this past week has been in the sports world, when a team executive, a former player, and a sports talk show host came out.

Over the past few days, four individuals revealed in different stories that they were coming out as gay.   CNN anchor Don Lemon, Phoenix Suns executive Rick Welts, former Villanova University basketball player Will Sheridan, and Jared Max, a sports radio host on ESPN 1050-AM in New York.  All but Lemon are directly linked to the sports world:  one as an executive, the other a former college basketball player, and a radio personality.

Many will say that Welts, Sheridan, and Max were courageous to publicly announce that they are gay.  I feel it’s a relief for them because it was decision they had to make with conviction and weighing the consequences of the reaction towards it. 

These stories also point to an ongoing issue that many in the sports world, namely football, basketball, and baseball, will not talk about: being a gay professional athlete. 

Phoenix Suns President and CEO Rick Welts

The locker room is for alpha males, not wussies, so it has been said.  The locker room could be considered as the last place where the issue of gays and lesbians have not been discussed, if only in private. 

“It’s quite different for an African-American male,” he said. “It’s about the worst thing you can be in black culture. You’re taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine. In the black community they think you can pray the gay away.” He said he believed the negative reaction to male homosexuality had to do with the history of discrimination that still affects many black Americans, as well as the attitudes of some black women.       

“You’re afraid that black women will say the same things they do about how black men should be dating black women.” He added, “I guess this makes me a double minority now.”

–Don Lemon, CNN Anchor, NY Times, May 15, 2011

Lemon’s quote is similar to what it is in the locker room. 

“Alpha Males Only.”

Nevermind politics, the struggle for gays and lesbians to be accepted in sports is the last great barrier, in the eyes of this avid sports fan. 

My opinion is that you can play at the highest level of athletic competition, regardless of handicap, race, sex, and orientation. 

That is, unless, you come out. 

And that has to change. 

Don’t Laugh…It’s A Growing Trend

I didn’t have anything planned to write about today, but I found the following dialogue between New York Times columnists David Brooks and Gail Collins.

Today’s column discussion:  Househusbands.

Maybe Michael Keaton was on to something. What a trailblazer!!

Maybe I’m crazy because I’m between currently between gigs, but I thought the idea of “Mr. Mom” to be a classic study of “wussification.”  Of course, that was back in 1985 when I said that to myself.

It’s 2010.  Maybe the idea of the alpha male keeping up the house and wrangling the kids may not be so bad.  On a serious note, with the domestic attacks of 2001, and the current economic conditions, some men have started to realize that “family” is not to be taken for granted it.

Spending more time with the kids, to them, is crucial now more than ever for mental and emotional reasons.

That is not to say that the roles are completely in reverse.  It’s becoming into a slow, but growing trend.