Why the NFL Referees’ Bargaining Victory Means So Much More Than Better Football

Hey, remember this:

So does everyone that has been watching football this season.

Following disagreements over wages and contracts for the NFL referees between the NFL and the refs, the referees walked out en mass to bargain for better wages and benefits. Some have argued that the refs get paid pretty good money already, so why would they need better wages and such? To put it in perspective, their decisions are often more important than any decision a coach or team manager can make. Example.

The head of the NFL thought that he was making a pretty good move by bringing in a bunch of replacement refs until the regular refs would accept their fate or lose their jobs. Perhaps he was thinking of Reagan’s bold moves when federal air traffic controllers across the nation walked out. Circumstances were very different however, where Reagan’s moves resulted in slower air traffic for a time and misery for 11,000 people, the NFL’s decision to put in replacement refs resulted in numerous blown calls and the misery of football fans everywhere.

Just a few days ago the NFL budged and gave the refs an offer that they found acceptable. The replacement refs, instead of helping the NFL’s side, only proved to everyone that the job is tough and that no one can really replace the professional refs. On Thursday the regular refs returned to the game, and in Baltimore, they got a standing ovation.

Why does this matter outside of the NFL?

It matters because for the first time in a long time, a union has been viewed as heroic in the face of corporate profits. The NFL wants to make money, and they knew that they could make more money by paying their refs less. As with every private industry, the people on top will give the people below them less than they could in the interest of growth, and personal profit. In America we have a strange tendency to side with the people on top. We accept the misconception that they are in their position because they worked harder than everyone else and are more deserving of fortune than everyone else.

With the victory for the refs, maybe we can see this trend slip away. We witnessed a group of people that have seemingly little personal power or personal wealth and they came together to become a force as powerful as the rest of the NFL. They asserted that they deserved better treatment and as much as the people on top tried to deny it, we could all see that it was true.

Through trial and adversity the refs hung on with the tenacity that we would often applaud on the football field. When the NFL tried to strong-arm them, we decried it, and when the NFL finally broke down and gave them a good deal, we stood up and cheered.

What we should not forget is that these sorts of actions by the NFL are not exclusive to the NFL. In every industry, from mining to manufacturing to housekeeping, the laborers will be taken advantage of unless they stand up for their rights. The cause of the NFL referees happen to be the cause of all the working people. We shouldn’t forget this example.

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Why Science and History Are The Only Reasons I Wish I Had Cable At Home

Discovery Channel, History Channel, and Animal Planet. Those are my top three reasons for wanting to get cable at my house.When I was still in middle school my family decided that we weren’t watching enough cable t.v. to make it worth the fifty or sixty bucks that we were paying per month to watch it. We got rid of cable and picked up Netflix for the rest of my time at home.

I didn’t think much about it at the time. Back in those days the only channels I was watching were Disney, Nickelodeon and sometimes Cartoon Network. Despite my nostalgic memories of my favorite shows like Invader Zim, The Proud Family, and Kim Possible, they were not worth fifty bucks a month.

Although I’m curious as to where Nick went with this…

I was quite content over the last six years without cable television, but now I’m in college and there is a cable t.v. in every room. The influence is one that I haven’t felt in a long time, and though I don’t, all of a sudden, feel the desire to have cable t.v. in my home, I can see a valid reason why I might want it.

No, it has nothing to do with The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. …That’s what questionable television web sites are for. The thing that draws me back to cable after all these years are all the things I tended to avoid all those years ago.

This.

Discovery channel is awesome. I can sit down in my living room and eat a quick snack and learn that there is a hexagonal-shaped super storm on the north pole of Saturn that has been there as long as we have taken a close enough look at Saturn. To put that in perspective; Spongebob is annoying.

But there’s more: It also turns out that the Klu Klux Klan were a major influence on southern politics from the late 1800’s through the late 1900’s. For a while, in certain parts of the country, you could not get elected without being an official Klansman. (History Channel)

And this is a whale. (Animal Planet)

These channels that teach me stuff are awesome. If there was any reason to get cable again, it would be to watch a couple of channels where I can learn some random facts that I never really needed to know in the first place. If I had cable all these years, I would be the best Jeopardy player ever.

Why “Bros Before Hoes” Is More Than Just a Joke

We’ve all heard the classic expression. Legend has it that the phrase was first said by King Menelaus to Paris before Paris stole Helen away from him and kicked off the Trojan War. Since then, the phrase has been put into a somewhat humorous context, but that doesn’t mean that the core message should be abandoned.

Really, there’s nothing funny about this.

In the modern day, “bros before hoes” is commonly used to prod a guy who is choosing to hang out with a girl rather than his guy friends. Yet there is a very serious basis for this prodding. Whether intentional or otherwise, a guy who consistently chooses a “hoe” over a “bro” sets a negative precedent of being unreliable with little value for friends.

For example, the perfect wingman is a “bros before hoes” guy. As a wingman, it is your mission to make the other guy look good. If you find yourself leaving him behind for the girl across the room that keeps staring at you, then you have failed your mission. Strategically switching off between primary and wingman roles is key.

Who a guy chooses to hang out with often correlates with where their priorities lie. In high school and college, guys risk spending a disproportionate amount of time with women due to the common misconception that if you spend enough time with a woman, you will eventually get laid. While they are consistently putting off hang-out time with the bros, they are advertising to guys and girls alike that any chance that they might possibly get some is more important than friends.

Inadvertently, the “hoes before bros” mentality could end up hindering a guy’s sex-driven mission more than it helps. Through practice, the guy reveals that he is more desperate for the girl’s attention than anything else. General tendencies would suggest that this desperation is actually a turn-off for a girl rather than a turn on. In some best-case scenarios, women will just take advantage of this desperation to get what they want. In the eternal words of Good Charlotte, “Girls don’t like boys, girls like cars and money.”

 

You can tell how smart a wiseman is by how much black he wears.

It turns out that man’s greatest strength is his apathy.

When you take this into account, you realize just how important “bros before hoes” is. When you hang with your bros you make yourself more attractive to women, you make yourself more liked by your bros, and you won’t have to spend money on anyone.

Late Night Commercials

(Post credit goes to Ian Fontaine)

Have you ever noticed that after a certain point at night advertisements don’t even try any more? It’s as if someone in sales took a look at viewer demographic after 12AM and said, “Well, they’re all drunk anyway…” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, allow me to enlighten you.

With the exception of very small children, there is no one who would be compelled to pick up the phone and fork over money for “Lots and Lots of Jets and Planes”. The catch, of course, is that very small children are usually incapable of using a phone and understanding the function of a credit card, but that doesn’t stop the advertisers from trying!

You think I’m kidding.

Sales people just don’t always think about what their commercials are going to look like or how they sound. Maybe they just don’t care!

We’ve all seen this one. “Slap Chop”. We get to watch some overly-enthusiastic, spikey-haired psychopath tell us all about this kitchen product.  At :54 we hear an absolute absurd line that should never be in a commercial.

“You’re gonna love my nuts”

Really? They had to be nuts? They had to be his nuts? Haven’t these people ever heard of the internet? There’s literally only one way this was going to go. …Downhill.

Seriously, let’s think about some of these…

…Yes, “TIDDY bear”

I’m sure Tiger uses this.

Are you kidding me?

Oh, that was a parody.

You get the idea.

CNU Colds

Plague has befallen CNU. Everywhere you go people are sniffling and sneezing. It’s like a Star Trek convention, except instead of being covered in exceptionally detailed make-up; everyone is severely congested.

It’s hideous.

It’s about as predictable as an Oakland Raiders loss. The temperatures have been in the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s for weeks. Suddenly the temperature drops fifteen degrees for a couple of days and everyone gets a bad case of head cold. It happens every year right around this time. We all thought we were ready.

We were wrong.

Everywhere you go on campus the sound of coughing can be heard like gun shots in a war zone. Sneezes echo across Trible Plaza and everyone is quick to use hand sanitizer after touching any door knob on campus.

There is talk that some students in the Forbes are working frantically to discover a cure for the common cold, but it’s just not happening fast enough. Throats are already sore, noses already stuffed, and professors already concerned about their well-being.

Imagine being a professor in a class full of sick students. I imagine that it is similar to Daniel being thrown to the lions, except instead of being eaten alive by a bunch of hungry carnivores, the professor faces being sneezed at by a bunch of bored teenagers. I’m not sure which fate is worse. At least with the lions it will be over relatively quickly. A cold can leave you miserable for days.

I received my cold at some point on Saturday. It started with a harmless magikarp of a sore throat but has evolved into a raging Gyarados of a head cold. I’ve been taking shots of Dayquil and blowing my nose every five minutes (which seems to annoy my professors) I’ve bundled up in all my warmest clothes and I hope to be over it soon.

Above: An abundance of snot and phlegm.

Despite the tremendous infected population of CNU, one thing that you can count on when you get sick is that every third girl you know will offer to make you chicken noodle soup. I’ve had so much broth in the past three days that I’m afraid I may smell chicken-y when I walk past people. Fortunately, as with every cold, you can feel it recede over time and even as I write this post I can feel myself getting better (knock-on-wood).

So, for all my CNU friends: Worry not, we’ll come through this ordeal before the next one rolls around (midterms)

Why Ayn Rand’s Writing is a Detriment to Society

Perhaps it was fate that would compel my parents to bestow me with a name with initials that reverse those of Ayn Rand. I can attribute my smug satisfaction with this fact to my evolving opinion of Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand’s “Objectivism,” as she referred to it, is a philosophy that has been widely accepted in the corporate world and in the far-right wing of the political spectrum. Many companies make Rand’s writings a required reading for all employees and the current vice presidential candidate for the Republicans (Paul Ryan) cites Ayn Rand as his inspiration in economics.

Yet the philosophy that Ayn Rand coined goes contrary to all previous advancement of the human race and reduces the importance of  a cooperative society. Objectivism in its own name asserts its superiority over all other human perceptions. In the realm of ethics, Rand focused on the concept of rational self-interest. She made the argument that all human beings ought to work for their own self-interest first and foremost. In her opinion a man who loved others before himself would be considered immoral.

“If society is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.” -Ayn Rand

Rand’s heroic characters portrayed in her novels are entrepreneurs who climb their way to the top of their respective industries by hard work, tenacity and their disregard for other human beings’ dignity (though this last point is more muted than the first two). Both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are fiction novels that follow this pattern because an example of a person that achieves greatness without any help is a fictional concept.

Rand’s vision of an ideal society is one in which everyone is on their own and they are only limited by their own will to achieve. The problem with this vision is that it simply isn’t realistic. Firstly, Rand discounts the existence of people who have crippling disabilities such as those with severe autism or significant mental disorders. These people may have the greatest willpower, but their disabilities may make it impossible for them to achieve their dreams because of the advantages of the other people that are pursuing the same dream.

The second major flaw is that she doesn’t take into account the fact that people without limits will compete without rules. If employers didn’t have a minimum wage that they had to give, then they would give the lowest possible wage they could get away with while still retaining their employees.

But Rand is not concerned with these things, all she cares about is the idea that all people should work for themselves with disregard for other people, social norms, and even laws.

In The Fountainhead Rand’s “heroic” main character goes to the residence of a young woman and rapes her. Somehow Rand justifies this rape because, in the end, the woman accepted the man. This is easily the most straight-forward example of Rand’s greed-driven ideals. The idea that rape can be glorified as a man reaching his higher purpose is a dangerous one.

Rand’s writing is nothing special. Her main characters make you feel as miserable as J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caufield, but with none of the literary flare. He stories are long winded and over-detailed with many pages devoted to nothing but an attempt to make normal people look like a waste of breath while making entrepreneurs gods-among-men.

So why has her writing been so influential and popular?

Because her writing is a greedy, ambitious person’s excuse. Somewhere along the line some business-owner read Ayn Rand’s books and said, “Hey, I’ve always thought I was better than all my employees, now there is a book that establishes that I am right to think so!” Across the country employers make Rand’s books required readings for their employees. From the private sector to the public sector, Rand’s books are used like the divine rights of kings during the feudal era.

Expanding a business is no excuse for treating employees like cattle. The ends do not always justify the means in this world. Vicious ambition with disregard for human life around you is not holy. Yet Rand’s books attempt to establish all these things as true.

It is true that men generally act in their own self-interest, but it is also true that mankind would not be where it is today if cooperation was not part of the equation. Henry Ford revolutionized a industry, made his business lucrative and changed America by recognizing that he needed to treat his employees with respect. He realized that they all deserved a living that could buy them the products they were making. He knew that he would be nothing without the people below him. Every wise person is humble enough to recognize that they are nothing without help.

No matter how successful I become when I get older I won’t forget that the government invested in me, my parents invested in me and I got a lot of help along the way. Rand would have me discount all of that and claim that all that I am and hope to be is thanks to me. This is not accurate and would only give me a false sense of importance.

Greed may exist, but that doesn’t mean that it is good. Rand’s books have been used as an excuse by selfish people to do selfish things. As compelling as her argument may be, it is not enough for people to abandon cooperation in favor of greed. If her philosophy is to be accepted, it will be at the loss of progress in society.

Why Science Needs To Ask “Why?”

Check this out.

Above: Not nirnroot

That’s glow-in-the-dark tobacco. Plant geneticists were able to take some of the DNA in your common firefly and inject it into the chromosomes of a common tobacco plant. The result is a tobacco plant that glows the same color as a firefly’s butt.

“Awesome!” Comes the rousing cheer from the masses.

What’s the point?

Well, actually, there isn’t really a point. There’s not much advantage that can be gotten out of a glow-in-the-dark tobacco plant that isn’t offset by the cost of producing it.

So why did scientists do it?

Because why not? That’s why.

If you are thinking of a certain Dr. Ian Malcom, then congratulations, you paid attention to a bit of Jurassic Park that didn’t involve dinosaurs killing people. Dr. Malcom’s role in the story is not just to look like a tough guy, but to be the moral compass for the story and the subtle thematic question that plagues the reader:

Just because we can do things with science, does that mean we should do them?

As awesome as watching velociraptors kick ass is, the point of the movie and the books  was much deeper than the action. It gave us a hypothetical science situation where a possibility was opened up for advancement and nobody really asked the question, “why?”

If you are waving away this moral lesson with the excuse that Michael Crichton relies on science fiction, think again. Genetics are a mystery that has been more or less cracked. If a scientist wanted to, and was legally allowed to, they could genetically engineer a superior human.

Consider the infamous Monsanto soy bean. A company has designed a superior soy bean and has patented it. These soy beans are resistant to weed-killing sprays which make it a great boon for farmers. However, as time has gone on, Monsanto’s Round-up-Ready soy beans have replaced natural soy beans nearly everywhere. By just looking at a seed, it is impossible to tell if it is a normal soy bean or a Round-up-Ready Monsanto soy bean. This matters because Monsanto must be paid for every Round-up-Ready soy bean used. If a farmer even accidentally uses a Monsanto soy bean without paying, they can be sued.

And Monsanto will sue.

Above: Metaphor.

When it first came on to the market the Monsanto soy bean was a great boon to farmers, it was hailed as a great victory through science. Overtime however, it has proven that this “scientific victory” came as a loss to many more people.

Yet this trend is not restricted to the field of genetics. Robotics are being used more and more in factories where people were working as robots in the first place. The auto-industry has long been making a switch-over from line workers to automated machines that can work 24 hours a day without making a mistake. This has yielded bigger profits for auto-companies here and abroad, but with machines that can fix themselves come humans that can’t find jobs.

When robots were first starting to take the places of auto-workers, no one would have dreamed of attacking this great technological advancement, but now with more and more people going without jobs, it’s too late to tell the auto-industries that they have an obligation to employ people before machines.

As time goes on, science will advance. It’s not a bad thing in the least, it is a wonder what we can discover through research and experiments, but if we do not stop and consider the consequences of what we are doing, we could end up placing ourselves in a very bad place.

As a parting thought; before cold war scientists tested the first fusion bomb, there were some that were concerned that nuclear fusion on Earth could result similarly to nuclear fusion in the sun, chiefly; that it would cause a chain reaction that would consume the earth in a self sustaining fireball like a mini-star. Fortunately that wasn’t the case.

…But what if we were wrong about something similar in the future?