02/18/15

Never Too Old

IMG_1024

The full moon on a midnight snow is like daytime. As a kid, it was my favorite.

Performed by theipoetlaureate (d/b/a sintax.the.terrific).  Music produced by re:flex the architect.

Today’s blong here:

Snow Day

02/16/15

Here’s To All You Presidents Out There

This is not a showman’s job. I will not step out of character.

– Herbert Hoover

lincoln

(Not Herbert Hoover)

Performed by theipoetlaureate.  Music produced by nomold.

Today’s blong here:

The Least Powerful King

01/30/15

Light Speed

Charles Hard Townes died, Thursday, at 99 years of age.

charles townes 2

You know the light saber? The “Luke, I am your father” light saber?

Only the most transcendent, gnarly piece of weaponized technology in the galaxy, light saber?

The “zzzuun zzzeen” light saber?

Our only hope?

Yeah. That one.

Townes invented it.

You know laser tag? Only the most futuristic, radical development in the history of photon war toys? The Red Ryder BB Gun of every boy’s ’80s Christmases? Yeah, that laser tag. Invented it.

You know laser pointers. The feline waterboard equivalent? Invented it.

You know laser eye surgery? The of-biblical-proportions, miracle surgery that gives sight to the blind? Like Jesus? Invented it.

Laser cutting, laser welding, laser engraving, laser mice, laser drilling, laser marking, laser peening (uh . . . yeah, that laser peening), optical tweezers, barcode readers, spectroscopy, raves, the laser discs, the band Electric Light Orchestra, and, yeah, you heard me, laser harps aka the infinite beam.

laser harp

Invented, invented, aaaaaaaaand invented.

Maybe not directly all of the above, but the man invented the dang laser. Did I also mention he went to my alma mater, Furman University, here in Greenville, SC? And, the namesake of my kids’ primary school? (Other Furman related song content here.)

fu me and j

Oh I hadn’t? Sorry. Yeah so, as it turns out, I went to the same school as the guy who invented the, um wait, what was it? . . . pet rock? electric toothbrush? Sham Wow? ohhhhhhhhhhhh that’s right THE LASER.

Some guy from Greenville, South Carolina doesn’t just bother to invent the laser one day. I mean Einstein. Or Blade Runner. Cobra Commander. Almost anyone but a Greenville boy. It’s like saying, “Oh yeah, Kenny, from second grade invented crude oil.”

You should discover or harness or wield a laser. You don’t invent it. A laser has to spring forth from the clandestine experiments of a mad scientist or a murderous villain in pursuit of world domination.

cobra commander

I mean forget the practical implications, like the aforementioned laser mice. No Star Trek??

And, Dr. Who? Forget it. No that-guy-from-X-men-that-shoots-lasers-out-his-eyes.

Did I mention he first invented the maser? A concentration of the microwave? What in the world is a maser? It sounds like something you say when you’re trying to one-up a friend.

Friend: “Hey I invented the rubber band loom!”

One-upper you: “Oh yeah? Well I invented the, um, the, uh . . . maser! That’s right. You know Maser Tag? Well. That’s me.”

But, here’s the weird part. You miss Townes if you focus on the laser (see what I did there?) or the maser or their numerous useful progeny. Remarkably, Townes real contribution was even greater than the now literally ubiquitous laser (and the not nearly as ubiquitous shameful maser).

He is the winner of both the Nobel Prize for Physics and the prestigious Templeton Award for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. The list of people who have received both?

The 14th Dalai Lama.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta

And Charles Hard Townes.

That’s the list. (Actually may be one or two more but who would want to confuse a good story?) I’ve seen longer lists of people who can recite pi to 50 decimals.

Townes’ real legacy is one of rigorous intellectualism in science and faith. A witness to both. An apostle of academics and a doctor of doctrine. His theology would offend some. And, so would his science. Which probably made him just about on the nose.

“Science and religion are both universal, and basically very similar,” he wrote. “The essential role of faith in religion is so well known that taking things on faith rather than proving them is usually taken as characteristic of religion, and as distinguishing religion from science. . . . It is just this faith in an orderly universe, understandable to man, which allowed the basic change from an age of superstition to an age of science.”

It’s interesting that the God of the Bible is depicted as light.

The light of the world.

A light unto our path.

Lamp unto our feet.

A Flaming Sword

A Burning Bush.

A Pillar of Fire

Tongues of Fire

A Fiery Furnace

The Transfiguration

Paul to Damascus.

A Chariot of Fire.

But, it is not said that God is like “the light of the world.” It is claimed that He is the light of the world. What if it’s not so metaphorical?

Pardon my crude physics.

At the speed of light mass is infinite. Infinite. And, to reach that outer speed limit — which you can’t coincidentally – requires infinite amount of energy. All that there is. And, if you miraculously arrived there, alive, traveling with your infinite self, propelled by all the energy in the universe, you would be surprised to find that time had simply stopped. Timeless. Sound familiar?

I like to think of light, and lasers, as translation points between two languages. God’s and ours. That would make Townes a kind of lamp interpreter. A luminary.

Townes was seated on a park bench in DC when he scribbled the conceptual maser on the back of an envelope. Going so far as to even describe it as a kind of “revelation.” I like to think in the great tradition of biblical prophets, and appropriate to his life’s work, that he went home on a Chariot of very concentrated Fire.

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by Dalama Jones.

Lyrics.

Today’s blong here:

Chariot of Fire

01/27/15

Cheating in Math

I know about small capillaries. Ridiculed for years at my self-diagnosed claims about them, medical science has vindicated me. (The prior link is illustrative of a small-capillary syndrome and not specifically indicative of mine. Although, the “smallish brain” and accompanied by “brain abnormalities” is certainly familiar.) Even still, my diagnosis remains largely anecdotal, from extremities that won’t warm promptly to um . . . well, extremities that won’t warm promptly, if you know what I mean.

In violation of league rules, Tom Brady’s balls were not properly inflated to start the second half of the AFC Championship game Sunday, which the Patriots won lopsidedly, 45-7.

Prevailing theories on why the balls shrunk, include:

1. Improper handling;
2. Severe cold;
3. Equipment constriction; and
4. The unexpected presence of Tom Brady’s wife in the locker room

tom brady

(Really, guys?? And, to think we all share 99.9% the same DNA structure with these two genetic freakazoids. Holy crap.)

Anyway, the above are all traditional ball deflation culprits, of course. The cause of the shrinkage in this present case, however, may never truly be known.

But, a response narrative has arisen among many pundits and fans:

That it doesn’t matter whether or not shrunken balls affected the outcome of the game, it is a clear violation of the rule, worthy of both severe penalty and moral outrage.

But, this is literally the definition of legalism, right? That the perfectly technical enforcement of the letter of the law is somehow more important than discretion. That the value of the advantage gained is of no consequence; only the strict improrpriety of the conduct should control our view. But, that’s why sentencing guidelines produce uncomfortable result. And history treats pharisees unkind. And, Republicans look out of touch.

Not all cheating is created equal. It just isn’t. J-walking is not plagiarism is not embezzlement. So, how do we measure the reasonableness of our disdain?

In sports, our cheating taboo can be broken into two concerns:

One, over Performance Enhancement - was advantage given?
Two, over Game Confidence - is the outcome of the game credible/reliable?

This conceptualization is of course a little artificial. There are categories of cheating which qualify as both.

But, we have concerns about both Barry Bonds and Shoeless Joe as cheaters but for dissimilar reasons. Bonds threatens our sense of fair play, while The Black Sox shake our institutional confidence in the athletic product. George Brett v. Pete Rose. Pine Tar v. Gambling. We want to be able to rely on what we see as true and not professional wrestling theater. And, we want there to be a semblance of fairness, at least in opportunity if not in talent or the distribution thereof.

They both offend deeply. And, maybe personally more with respect to cheating of the Performance Enhancement kind. But, intellectually, I think most would agree that cheating in Game Confidence is a more systemic and, therefore, more serious danger. That’s why Pete Rose and the 8 men out are banned for life.

Our concerns over Performance Enhancement cheating can be further broken into two types:

1. In game rules violations
2. Acts of extrinsic premedition

The latter is generally seen as more repugnant. So we typically deride vasoline on the brim of the pitcher’s cap differently than we do offensive holding by the left guard. Both, however, are cheating insofar as they are technical violations of rule and disadvantageously aid performance. But, there is something about the premeditation of the vasoline and it’s “otherness” to the game that raises a kind of personal ire that a holding call, even one unpenalized, does not. The prohibition on applying foreign substance to the hardball is not really a rule of game play. It helps to manage the level field, in its consistency, predictability, and equity. But, it’s not like three outs per inning or the requirement that a base runner tag before advancing on a caught fly ball. So we tend to forgive pass interference and foot faults and even things like intentional hand balls or the unapologetic carrying of the dribble but lose our minds over underinflated footballs.

No one, including the Colts themselves, seems to think a regulation ball would have made a musket powder’s worth of Patriot difference in the outcome of the game. So, is the outrage justified?

Real quick. I’m a Washington Redskins fan. But, when they are disqualified for too numerous losses, as so routinely they are, I want the Patriots to win every single possible game. Please briefly skim this prior post as to why.

So I don’t care if Tom Brady personally used a bike pump to syphon off the air. My only frustration is that the issue has allowed other people to detract from the accomplishment of one of the greatest sports franchises in history. That is my personal stake.

So when I say the reaction is reasonably justified, it’s a conclusion against interest. I wanted to write a blong saying you all were redic. But, it wasn’t to be. That’s because I am a bastion of intellectual honesty.

We (as in you all) hate Brady, Belichick, and the Patriots because the shrunk balls are a kind of exacerbating voltron of the previously described types of cheating. In other words, all of the above. The thought is that the footballs have given some performance advantage to the thrower of them. And although maybe infinitesimally so in the context of this particular contest, the performance enhancement is of the most notorious kind — an act of extrinsic premeditation. Said differently, the lack of obvious game advantage, which should otherwise mitigate (y)our offense, is neutralized in one’s internal calculus for the apparent intentionality of the conduct. Moreover, in this case, the flaccid balls play into a broader Game Confidence narrative on the Patriots as recidivist cheats who have undermined the integrity of the game and compromised the reliability of numerous outcomes before, à la Spygate. A course of disingenuous conduct.

So how do we actually quantify the reasonableness of our feigned moral outrage over any particular incident of cheating? How do we know how offended to be?

As it happens, I have an algorithm.

The Moral Outrage Methodology (MOM)
(Isn’t it appropriate that the function would be named for the one person most uniformly proficient at moral outrage? A mom?)

The components, and accompanying set of possible values, for the equation, are as follows.

Performance Enhancement Function (PEF)

Game-Play Rules Additer (GRA):
Value 1 for typical rules infractions – common violations of game play rules
Value 2 for egregious rules infractions – personal fouls, habitual conduct

Extrinsic Premeditation Additur (EPA)
Values 3-8 (including all intermediate values to the nearest tenth; values start at 3 because, as discussed above, all extrinsic premeditation cheating is more repugnant than game play rules violations)
* considerations may include “otherness to the game”, physical risk posed

Effect on Game Multiplier (EOG)
Values 1-3 (Level 1 value – de minimis effect; Level 2 – significant effect; Level 3 – arguably dispositive effect)

Game Confidence Function (GCF)

Acts in Furtherance of the Deception Additur (AFD)
Values 1-5 (including all intermediate values to the nearest tenth)
* considerations may include number and authority of people involved, complexity of scheme, reprehensibility of individual predicate acts

Institutional Confidence Additur (ICA)
Values 1-10 (including all intermediate values to the nearest tenth)
* considerations may include whether confidence is shaken in individual game, series, or entire season; the association of betting or other self-dealing

Contextual Multiplier (CM)
Values 1-3
* considerations include historical pattern of similar conduct, were the participants a surprise or predictable as cheaters (could factor either way), stake of game, coverup

So the Expanded MOM equation looks like this:
(GRA + EPA)EOG + (AFD + IC)CM = Moral Outrage

And, the Simplified MOM looks like this:

PEF + GCF = Fury

Applied to Deflategate, the ball pressure is not a game play rule, like holding. It’s an equipment regulation. Like no gold cleats, Marshawn Beastmode. So, there’s no GRA to speak of.

The EPA is interesting. The alleged acts certainly required premediation and likely coordination of at least two individuals and, presuposing “cheating,” intentionality. (Remember, the MOM is not intended to calculate the degree or presence of cheating but our reasonable outrage over it, wherever it exists.) Deflation of the ball is not supremely “other.” Not a shiv in the sock or foreign adhesive on a glove. Just an adjustment of standard issue equipment. It posed no particular bodily risk. In fact, the softer ball would be, albeit imperceptibly so, more gently and comfortably received by wideouts and opposing DBs. I would liberally set an EPA of 3.7 out of 8.

As to the EOG, there appears to be consensus that whatever advantage the deflated balls of Brady gave Tom, it was inconsequential to the actual outcome of this particular game and, therefore, de minimis. Level 1 multiplier.

The PEF looks like this = (0 + 3.7)1 = 3.7 out of a possible 30.

The PEF affirms the view that the contribution to outrage over the performance effect of the deflated balls would be essentially zero but for the premeditation of the conduct. And, even then, relative to the available scale of values, fairly low.

The AFD is complicated by the mystery still surrounding the details. We don’t really know the story. But, again, assuming actual cheating, a fairly important person was almost certainly in the middle, most probably future Hall of Famer and Blue Steel, Tom Brady. Although, possible, it’s unlikely the ball boy goes rogue in this respect. Maybe not right before this game, but a ball boy would be operating on the preference, professed at some point, of a reasonably significant authority. But, it was not a super sophisticated scheme. This isn’t Pinky and the Brain grandeur. It makes Spygate look like War Games. As to the reprehensibility of intermediate acts, modest. No hostages were taken. Retirement accounts squandered. Or knees shattered. Just ball emasculation.

I have the AFD right at 2.9 out of 5. This is fairly high level stuff, if not complicated or dastardly.

The ICA? We don’t believe the outcome of this game was significantly compromised but how long has this been occurring. I mean, they don’t get busted on the very first deflationary attempt do they? How many “close” games were maybe partially swung by Tom’s comfort with the balls? We don’t have to answer the question in any exact way to simply acknowledge that Deflategate raises the question? What has been the overall effect? For how long? How much aggregate benefit has there been? That it legitimately rattles confidence even to this degree matters. I think a lot.

But, because any single instance of ball deflation would have relatively little effect and only the collective total of all such instances would be consequential and because we don’t have any good and particular reason to assume any type of longevity of the conduct, the ICA is mitigated some where it might be higher. I would put the ICA at 6.7, out of 10, but could be persuaded to an increase.

But, the Pats really get bit on the CM. There’s just too much smoke through the years. The Patriots have pushed every limit and breached some. And, we only know what has been exposed. They are purposefully cloistered about the details of their preparation as much as is permitted. Plus, it was an AFC Championship, table-setting their sixth Belichickian Super Bowl. The CM is an easy 3.

So, the GCF = (2.9 + 6.7)3 = 28.8 out of 45

So our total moral outrage , out of the high possible score of 75, should be 32.5.

I’ve surprised even myself with the intuitive accuracy of this result. And, I made it all up. Because, this output feels about right, right? That our moral outrage over deflateable gate should only be about 43% of our total available outrage for cheating? We can imagine scenarios deserving of a good bit more — widespread, systemic gambling and manipulation of game results — and many much less outrageous — hidden ball trick. If true, this is a bad instance of cheating worthy of a not so insignificant amount of outrage. But, it’s also not the end of the known sports world.

So, there’s no guessing. Next time someone asks you whether you care about Deflategate, you don’t have to equivocate or surmise.

Your exactly 43% morally outraged.

Again. You’re welcome. This is my calling.

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by Nomis.

Lyrics, yo.

Today’s blong here:

Cheaters Always Win

01/25/15

New Era of Jim Crow

These are racist:

hats

And, I’m not referring to the state colleges represented. Although University of Georgia is racist. How else can you explain their refusal to win any significant football championship or even a single game against the Gamecocks notwithstanding the presence of so many great African-American athletes on their team? They must not want them to win. Racist.

No. Look more closely. On each hat. You see it? Not so subtle?

Yup. Pre-fabricated, curved bills.

Racist.

I have been looking for a University of South Carolina hat for a SoCal homey. Grey. 7 1/2.

Flatbill.

Not on that rack, apparently.

Guess what? (This is rhetorical question blong day.) Hats have ALWAYS been flat brimmed. That’s literally how they are made. Forever. It’s not a style or a statement. Every hat I bought in the ’80s was flat brim (term wasn’t used). The mesh snapbacks (term wasn’t used) and the game day fitteds. The brim came flat.

You know what you did to make them not flat? You curved the crap out of them until they looked like parabolas or teepees. You folded them like a paper airplane crease or you cupped them gently in your palms. Or maybe you allowed the size of the hat to shape the fit. A snug fitting hat literally pulls the bill into a natural curve without manipulation. Regardless of the methodology, you tailored them to your personal taste and style.

But, let’s keep it one hundred:

Curving the bill of the cap was a kind of headwear mutilation. That is not the design of the traditional ball cap. They come flat.

Of course sometime in the ’90s, black youth had the temerity to start wearing them as manufactured. Inviolate brim. Oversized. Even for a time, including manufacturer stickers and tags.

This of course became a great outrage to many. I assume they were the same folks who despise sag busting but relish the literal ubiquitous proliferation of yoga pants and cycling panties.

The reaction has been so significant that manufacturers have literally started offering most hats with a built in curve. It’s like a mock turtle neck. Or those stupid socks that have the baseball stirrup painted on. Use a dang stirrup!!

So, why is this pre-fab detail racist? Shouldn’t a hat come any way the market demands? Straw? Ten-gallon? Fidoraed? Pinwheeled?

Look, there is only one reason to make a hat this way, and it’s not because people want curved bills. See supra the variety of ways such a hat condition can be achieved.

One reason:

To ensure that the hat CANNOT be worn flat billed.

How do I know this? Because, any flat bill hat can be made curved. I did it for roughly 20 years. With great pride. A pre-curved bill, however, cannot be reverse engineered flat, sans maybe an industrial iron or shoe press.

So, these pre-conditioned hats have become a kind of culturally political statement — aka as against a kind of culture. You are not permitted to wear our hat in that way, even though a properly manufactured flat brim hat would allow everyone the opportunity to wear the hat exactly as they prefer.

I mostly want people to wear whatever they like and however tailored. Curved, flat, duck-billed. Don’t care.

But, let’s not pretend like we’re serving a constituency when really the goal is just to deny one.

flatbill

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by Nomis.

Lyrics, yo.

Today’s blong here:

Old Hat

01/19/15

I Have a Dream Big

Coincidentally, my girls wrote a song about dreaming big yesterday. Not consciously inspired by the timeless words of Dr. King but, even still, an expression of the same timeless desire we all share that things will be better.

dream big H

dream big L

Song blogging allows you to be rare things in music. Timely. Relevant. Niche. Imperfect.

And personal.

So today I let my girls get down. They set all kinds of records in blonging. Quickest song written and recorded. Most Oreos eaten. Shrillest girl giggles. Whitest.

Happy MLK, to all the dreamers.

Written and performed by The Bricks (Hannah B – 9 yrs old & Lucy B 8 yrs old). Music produced by Dalama Jones.
Today’s blong here:

Dream Big

01/12/15

The Crayon is Mightier Than

Art is its own kind of weapon. Wit its round.

100% bulletproof.

france

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by nomold.
Today’s blong here:

Color Me Bad

01/1/15

2014 Year in Review

isis

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by nomold.
Today’s blong here:

Skyfall

12/25/14

Bah Humbug

Yeah, I work with this guy.

No news. No rap. All attorney. So, it qualifies for publication. But, just barely. Don’t push your luck really awesome group of intelligent and amazing singers and musicians. I can sniff out a veiled challenge to the song blogging throne when it stinks. I still run things, ForwardtoCatchingARealLiveRapBeatDown.

So. Merry Christmas. Thanks for the original and worshipful carol.

I guess.

Begrudgingly,

thelaureate

Music and words by ForwardtoDawn [Chris Schoen (my song blogging arch nemesis), Emily Schoen (guilty by biology), Brian Tate (dead to me), and Mike Golus (as soon as I figure out who this guy is? . . . ho boy)]