Thursday, March 31, 2016

Unicorns Truly Existed, Although They Were Nothing Like We Believed

Unicorns were real, although they were hardly the beautiful creatures of mythical lore in the popular imagination.

In fact, they looked a bit more on the charmless side, even a bit scary.

Yet, there is some scientific evidence to show that they were indeed real.

These creatures roamed the Earth in Siberia about 29,000 years ago in what is now presently Kazakhstan. But they were radically different in appearance than the popular notions of present day horses with graceful horns on their head. In fact, these beasts were kind of brutal in appearance, and they were even larger than the rhinos that we still know today.

Their official, scientific name is Elasmotherium sibiricum.

It's a pretty interesting story, and you can learn more about it by clicking on the link below:

'Unicorns' Lumbered Across Siberia 29,000 Years Ago by Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer   |   March 29, 2016:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Warriors Defeat Wizards, Now 67-7

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors got yet another victory last night at home, getting past a tough challenge by the Washington Wizards in what was a surprisingly competitive, back and forth game. The Wizards were able to not only get back in the game after the Warriors started off strong, but took a sizable lead in what was a dominant early part of the second quarter. Yet, the Warriors responded, ending the quarter in strong fashion and overcoming a significant deficit to take the lead just before the half.

Ultimately, the Warriors managed to overcome the challenges that the Wizards presented, and earned a 102-94 win. The victory raises their home record to 36-0, and their overall record this season to 67-7. Famously, they have been pursuing the best ever regular season record ever, which is currently held by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who finished the regular season with a 72-10 mark, and went on to win the championship that season.

With only eight games remaining in the regular season, Golden State would need to finish their final eight games with a record of 6-2 or better.

Golden State has been remarkably efficient this season behind a record-setting offense of precision more than power. They enjoyed strong success last season with a 67-15 mark, although they now have already equaled their regular season total win count from last season. If they go 5-3 the rest of the way, they will then at least match those 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. If they happen to do better, then they will surpass that record, which once seemed unbeatable.

Whatever happens, you cannot argue that the Warriors are making this season very interesting indeed!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Golden State Warriors Keep Rolling, Now at 66-7

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors

Yes, those Golden State Warriors are just continuing their dominance this season, as they continue their pursuit of the best ever regular season record, which is currently held by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who finished the regular season with a 72-10 mark, and went on to win the championship that season.

They just demolished the lowly Philadelphia 76ers at home, in a rematch of the intensely exciting game that my brother and I went to (and which I happened to review here in late January), which raises their home record on the year to 35-0. The victory improved their overall record to 66-7. They have six games remaining at home, and nine games overall before they finish out their regular season.

In order to break the Bulls record of 72 regular season wins, the Warriors would need to finish their final nine games with a record of 7-2 or better.

According to Nate Silver's website, which is more famous for their political predictions, the Warriors have an 89% chance of at least matching the Bulls 72 wins, and a 66% chance of surpassing it.

That would establish a new record, and the Warriors also have a couple of other records that they could establish with their incredible regular season, should they finish off as strongly as they have played all season.

First of all, the Warriors could become the first team to complete the regular season with a perfect 41-0 home record. Right now, the 1985-86 Boston Celtics hold the record for best home record overall during the regular season with a 40-1 mark.

Also, the Warriors can become the first team in NBA history not to lose back-to-back games during the entirety of the regular season, which would truly be a remarkable feat worth mentioning and celebrating as well!

Of course, all of these achievements would be considerably compromised if their season does not end with another NBA title. But for now, at least, the Golden State Warriors are the darlings of the NBA, as the defending champions are setting a new precedent for regular season success. And that in itself is quite an amazing accomplishment!

Updated Odds Of The Warriors Going 73-9 By Kyle Wagner, March 28, 2016:

Monday, March 28, 2016

Bernie Sanders Needed to Run as a Democrat & Ralph Nader Explains Why


Photo courtesy of iprimages Flickr page -  06122015_BernieSanders_Drake_102_3x2_1080:

Bernie Sanders enjoyed a clean sweep in the three primaries this past weekend.

Yet, rather predictably, the major news media outlets are still taking a somber tone with him and his campaign. They had to mention, of course, that he won all three, and convincingly.

Still, they could not help but say that despite the wins, Sanders trails Hillary in terms of delegates in a big way.

Hearing it that way, you might think that last night was a victory for Hillary, which it certainly was not.

What you never seem to hear from these pundits (and often times, news anchors who take it upon themselves to weigh in) is that if Hillary has essentially had the race wrapped up (which has been claimed at different times, and in different ways, dating back all the way to last summer), then why in the hell is she struggling so badly against someone who entered the race with a significantly smaller public profile, and with a fraction of the big money resources that she benefits from and enjoys?

No, nothing on that. It is always bad news for Bernie, despite his tremendous success. Despite the primary wins, and the big successes. And that is why so many people are beginning to distrust the major news media in the United States.

This, in part, is what Ralph Nader discusses in a fascinating article in which he explains why Bernie Sanders really had no choice but to run as a Democrat. Nader understands this better than anyone, having mounted numerous presidential campaigns as an outsider of the two-party system. He mentions that the system is rigged so that no one on the outside can actually get into office, that it has to be either the Democratic nominee, or the Republican nominee. That, really, anyone on the outside of these two very powerful political parties really has no chance, that there are rules to this political game that are rigged against them.

Proponents of the two-party system have traditionally defended it by suggesting that at least they do not see the rise of outside extremist parties, and point to the example of European nations, where some of these extremist parties have indeed risen in power. Yet, this particular election has shown that the two-party system has proven to be an inadequate defense against the politics of hatred and intolerance even outright violence.

What it has also shown is that the two party system actively encourages a continuation of politics as usual, which it can certainly be argued leads to a certain restlessness among the population, because the feeling that most people get is that the system is rigged and corrupt, that it is broken beyond healing, and that they are no longer in charge, or even have a voice to alter the predetermined outcome of how this country is run, even when the decisions obviously have a great impact on their own lives. The campaigns of standard bearers of the old political establishment have proven inadequate. Prominent Republicans like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker all fizzled out in a hurry, and the campaign of Hillary Clinton is struggling, despite all of the vast amounts of money that the moneyed special interests poured into her campaign. That is because it has failed to generate anywhere near the level of interest that it has in the past. People are tired of professional politicians learned in the ways of corruption and of telling the people what they want to hear. People want real answers, and they are not getting them from these politicians.

Still, the major party establishment candidates can rely on tremendous help, and what this election has come to be about, at least on the Democratic side, is whether or not big money and big name endorsements will trump candidates who might not have big money, but have a powerful message intent on empowering Americans and restoring the dignity and economic realities that once existed, but have since eroded.

To that end, the recent endorsement by Rolling Stone magazine for Hillary Clinton served as a great disappointment to many, myself included. However, the magazine has always had interesting and insightful articles, and that includes presently, despite the magazine's official endorsement of Clinton. And a recent piece by Matt Taibbi (Why Young People Are Right About Hillary Clinton, March 25, 2016)  is a case in point. Taibbi explores why young people generally do not support, or even trust, Hillary Clinton, and it is worth looking at this article if you truly cannot grasp why that is.

First of all, he addresses the elephant in the room:

"I was disappointed to hear that Rolling Stone had endorsed Hillary Clinton, but I also understood."

After getting that out of the way, he went on to explain why young people are choosing Sanders in droves over Hillary. Really, it is not all that complicated.

"For young voters, the foundational issues of our age have been the Iraq invasion, the financial crisis, free trade, mass incarceration, domestic surveillance, police brutality, debt and income inequality, among others.

"And to one degree or another, the modern Democratic Party, often including Hillary Clinton personally, has been on the wrong side of virtually all of these issues.

Yes, she certainly has been on the wrong side of these key issues.

"Young people don't see the Sanders-Clinton race as a choice between idealism and incremental progress. The choice they see is between an honest politician, and one who is so profoundly a part of the problem that she can't even see it anymore.

"They've seen in the last decades that politicians who promise they can deliver change while also taking the money, mostly just end up taking the money.

"And they're voting for Sanders because his idea of an entirely voter-funded electoral "revolution" that bars corporate money is, no matter what its objective chances of success, the only practical road left to break what they perceive to be an inexorable pattern of corruption.

"Young people aren't dreaming. They're thinking. And we should listen to them."

I strongly recommend reading this article by Taibbi, which is available to be read in full at the Rolling Stone website. The link to this specific article has been provided below:

Why Young People Are Right About Hillary Clinton Listening to the youth vote doesn't always lead to disaster Matt Taibbi, March 25, 2016:

Ralph Nader: Why Bernie Sanders was right to run as a Democrat by Ralph Nader, March 25, 2016:

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Ringo Starr Might See His Children's Book Get Own Television Show

Ringo Starr Signature Series

Photo courtesy of Schröder+Schömbs PR _ Brands | M's Flickr page - Ringo Starr Signature Series:
Creative Commons License:

Ringo Starr and all his band

Photo courtesy of Eva Rinaldi's Flickr page:

Some people have it all.

Ringo Starr was the legendary drummer for the most reputable and famous band in the world. His Beatles band mates felt very privileged when he joined their ranks, and felt that he added a strong measure of legitimacy for them. They obviously went on to enjoy some huge success commercially, to the point that their music and their legend lives on right through to the present. Today, they remain one of the most popular and influential bands in history.

After the breakup of the Beatles, Ringo went on to have a pretty decent solo career, and the first album that he released after the breakup proved to be his biggest, with the most iconic songs of his solo career. It served as a surprise that he was the first ex-Beatle to enjoy huge commercial success, although that was how it worked out.

Over the years, he worked with each of his former band mates on musical projects, as well as other musical legends. That trend continues today as well, as he is still touring with his "All-Starr Band."

But he has also enjoyed success in other areas, as well. He recently published a book of his photography, documenting some rare images of the early days with the Beatles. He was the voice of Thomas the Tank Engine, and even starred in some movies, including his comedic portrayal of a caveman, which is a movie that has been airing recently on weekend mornings (and it is pretty funny, in a goofy kind of a way).

Now, one of his children's books is possibly about to get a television show!

What a charmed life this guy leads!

Peace and love, Ringo!

Here is the link to this story:

Ringo Starr’s children’s book could be a TV show By Keith J. Kelly March 23, 2016:

Happy Easter!

Just wanted to make sure that I wish everyone a Happy Easter Sunday!

I know that this is a time for many people to get together with family for an Easter meal, and good times spent together. This is a sacred time of the year for Christians, as this day is actually more sacred than Christmas is.

Some believe that the festivities and imagery surrounding this holiday - particularly candy Easter bunnies - go against the grain of the spirit of this day.

While that may be true, and there certainly is legitimacy to the notion that it has become overly commercialized, nonetheless, I try to do similar things with my son. That was what Easter often meant when I was growing up. Easter egg hunts, chocolate bunnies, peeps, and other sure signs of Easter. These traditions made me happy as a child, and so I feel it is important to try and make sure that my own son has the chance to enjoy the same thing.

In any case, whatever Easter might mean to you, I wish each and everyone who celebrates it a Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Happy Birthday to Steven Tyler of Aerosmith!

Bernie Sanders Still Very Much In This Thing

Finally, it happened.

Yes, all of those growing, ridiculous comparisons to Hitler and the Nazis finally caught up to the absurdity of those claims, and now, for the very first time, I saw someone on Facebook (a Facebook friend of a Facebook friend, if you will) actually seem to compare Bernie Sanders with Hitler.

That's right, a progressive, Jewish Democratic socialist who was officially an Independent prior to this presidential election now apparently draws comparisons to perhaps the most notorious real life villain in history.

Are we nuts collectively? How did we get to this point?

Of course, it would not do to make too much of it, because it is one person making a stupid comparison with absolutely no basis in fact, so let's not give it more attention than it deserves, even though it shocked me coming from anyone, frankly.

Sanders is still continuing his campaign, although there are different opinions on how he is doing. If you look at the fact that he has 3% support maybe around one year ago, and now he is a serious contender and challenging Hillary Clinton in every state, and still winning primaries, than he is doing very well, and having an impact. But if you listen to the mainstream media, he already has lost, and his campaign is hopeless, and should basically have conceded already.

Hillary Clinton presently has a big lead in the Democratic presidential race in terms of the delegate count, and especially when it comes to the Superdelegates.

Here's the thing, though: there is no reason to despair, no reason to give up. Yes, Hillary has officially won quite a few states - particularly in the Deep South. However, these are states that no Democrat would be likely to win in the general election, anyway.

What Hillary also has is tremendous support when it comes to having big banks and corporations sponsor her, as well as the support of the official party leadership on the Democratic side.

Yet, there are a lot of detractors of Hillary Clinton, and there are numerous reasons for this. First and foremost, people simply do not trust her. That is true for people who identify both with Democrats and Republicans. People understand that she has a history of changing her position, of finding very good reasons for voting for things that many people felt disappointed by, and she always seems to have very good arguments for other things that she does. That includes taking a lot of money from big banks and Wall Street corporations that have given her a ton of contributions and speakers fees, and she acts angry if and when a political opponent such as Bernie Sanders blasts this for the hypocrisy that it is. She has changed her mind often enough, and it too often coincides not with what was best for America, but with what was politically profitable, and more and more in recent years, people are questioning this kind of "leadership."

Another reason is that Hillary simply is not all that exciting. She might call herself a progressive right now, but late last year, she defined herself as a moderate. There is an interview floating around now where she describes her own political philosophy as grounded in conservatism, although she made the distinction between what she called "real conservatism," and that which passes for conservatism these days in the GOP. Back when she was still a teenager, she was a self-described "Goldwater girl" and proud of that fact even now, while Bernie Sanders was marching and getting arrested for greater fairness and an end to official racism in the country.

Perhaps we cannot make too much of what these two were doing when they were very young. Hillary, despite still proudly referring to herself as a "Goldwater girl," was still too young to vote at the time that she supported the very conservative Goldwater. Still, there is a trace of the people that they became in those actions and their activism for different causes all of those years ago, and to me, it is hard not to see that these were early but accurate indicators that they were already becoming the people that they have become today.

We have someone who has remained remarkably consistent with his political viewpoints, and instead of running and hiding when someone tries to label him a "socialist" or a "Communist," he actually tries to engage these people, to challenge their prejudices, and to inform them of what he actually believes in and represents. On the other side, we have someone who has, at different times, described her political philosophy as conservative, as moderate, or as progressive. It just depends on when you ask her, what political winds are blowing at the moment, and what audience she is hoping to appeal to.

On one side, we have a man who has remained a tireless advocate for the average American, and who has a clear understanding of how things have grown as bad as they have for a growing number of Americans. He points to actions and legislation of the past, and has consistently opposed these measures both before and after they passed. He seeks to restore the greater balance that existed in the past. On the other side, we have someone who changes her opinions and her arguments depending on how politically profitable it is, and will say and do anything to remain on top politically. She says a lot of things, although her actions often seem to contradict her words. She is promising a progressive agenda at the moment, yet there are clues that she will continue to waffle, to flip flop. She is all for every major trade deal that has left the American worker behind, and compromised job security here at home. She takes those millions from the big corporations, then turns around and claims that she is going to get tough on them. Can we believe her? History suggests that we probably cannot, although she certainly has her supporters.

One of the great things that remains here in America is that we still get to choose. Yes, we still have a choice, and the choice is yours. Despite the millions spent on the Hillary political machine, despite the millions spent on the Jeb political machine before her, both campaigns are faltering, precisely because they represent a certain political establishment that people have come to distrust. And by voting against them, voters are showing that, as much as American democracy has eroded, at it's core, it can still work. Ultimately, despite the illusion that these events are set in stone, we still have a choice.

To me, the choice seems all too clear.

Bernie Sanders Had a Phenomenal Night — Here’s WhyTom Cahill | March 16, 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy Birthday Elton John!

Happy Birthday Elton John!

Yes, the legendary musician turns 69 today.

Some More on the WLAF - the Winless Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks

Here are some clips of old WLAF games dating back from 1991, when the league was trying out before an international audience. These games date from when North American teams figured prominently in the equation, predating what would become NFL Europe years later. The team that you will find in each of these videos was the ill-fated Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks, who failed to manage to win a single game in their first, and as it turns out their only, season of play.

At the time, Raleigh-Durham, and the Carolinas more generally, had never enjoyed the benefit of a professional American football team. The first experiment with this proved to be a failure, as the Skyhawks were a washout. However, the Carolinas would get the NFL's Panthers as an expansion team shortly thereafter, and they enjoyed a 7-9 mark during their first season. In their second season, they finished 12-4, won the NFC West (that was the division that they were in at the time) and earned the second seed in the NFC playoffs. They then knocked out the defending champion Dallas Cowboys, who had already pretty much clinched "Team of the Decade" honors. The Panthers lost the NFC title game at Green Bay, but they had already done their community proud, and helped to make that disastrous, winless season for the Skyhawks a distant memory.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The WLAF in 1992

Here are some clips of old WLAF games dating back from 1991 and 1992, when the league was trying out before an international audience. These games date from when North American teams figured prominently in the equation, predating what would become NFL Europe years later.

As I mentioned in the last post about the WLAF in their inaugural season, one of the big draws for the league was that it had an international feel, with teams from five different nations altogether. Here to prove it is a short clip of a game between the expansion Ohio Glory and the Montreal Machine, with commentating in French.

Being from New Jersey, I had plenty of opportunity to watch the New York/New Jersey Knights in action. Probably went to four or five games, if memory serves me correctly.

Some footage from a 1992 game between the Ohio Glory and the San Antonio Riders.

Footage of a game betwee

The Orlando Thunder became kind of that popular team that people seemed to like, mostly because of their unique, very bright and colorful uniforms.

Footage of a game between the Barcelona Dragons and the Orlando Thunder in 1992.

Stephen King to Appear at Jersey City's Loew's Theatre on June 7th

Some pictures I found recently of chalk sketches of the great writer himself.

Yesterday, a friend and fellow fan of Stephen King informed me that the great author will be appearing locally to promote his latest book, the soon to be released End of Watch. It will be the third and final in the Hodges trilogy, and will feature the dangerous Brady Hartfield, the excellent bad guy from Mr. Mercedes, the first installment of this trilogy.

King will be appearing at the Loew's Theater of Jersey City, and the appearance is being promoted by the Brooklyn-based, Newark Avenue book store Word.

Yes, I got my tickets, which will include a copy of End of Watch

This will be King's only New York/New Jersey area appearance promoting this book on the day that it comes out, although he will be making numerous appearances elsewhere to promote his new book.  Here are the dates and locations:

June 7 - WORD Bookstore, Jersey City, NJ 
June 8 - Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley, PA 
June 9 - Books & Co., Dayton, OH 
June 10 - Taylor Books, Charleston, WV 
June 11 - Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN 
June 12 - Carmichael’s Books, Louisville, KY 
June 13 - Prairie Lights, Iowa City, IA 
June 14 - Bookworm, Omaha, NE 
June 15 - Booksmart, Tulsa, OK 
June 16 - Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM 
June 17 - The King’s English, Salt Lake City, UT 
June 18 - Barnes & Noble, Reno, NV

Stephen King to appear in Jersey City by Terrence T. McDonald of The Jersey Journal, March 10, 2016:

JC: WORD Presents Stephen King at Loew's Jersey Theatre  06/07/2016 - 7:30pm

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

25 Years Ago Today - The Start of the World League of American Football (WLAF)

I wrote and prepared the blog entries about the WLAF months ago, and so I apologize if it seems insensitive to post these just one day after the attacks in Belgium.

Please be assured that I took the incident to heart, and have many concerns regarding it, which I will write about in the days to come.

However, I just wanted to publish these blog entries about the WLAF, starting with this one today.

Just weeks after the New York Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV, the World League of American Football finally had it's debut.

Yes, March 23 1991. A quarter of a century ago on this day. The World League of American Football (WLAF) opened it's inaugural season, and I watched the original broadcast. The first game that ABC, the network that broadcast the games, aired featured the New York are team, the New York/New Jersey Knights. It was a road game, but this was not just a typical road game for an American football team, because this was not in the United States. It was not even in North America. This was in Europe. Barcelona, Spain, to be exact.

Of course, I was hopeful that the Knights might be a good team, that they might win the game. As I recall, they got shut out. They were not a bad team that season, but they were not all that great, either. They finished 5-5, and qualified for the playoffs. But they lost, at home, to the eventual World Bowl champions, the London Monarchs.

The fact that the Knights were not a great team was beside the point. It was cool to see some American football in spring. I think that there is something to be said about playing the sport in spring, and I think that the Canadian Football League, for one, might strongly benefit by switching to the spring time.

Then again, it did not exactly work out well for the WLAF, although that is besides the point.

In any case, one of the things that I found exciting about the WLAF was that, indeed, this was a league with teams around the world. Of course, it was restricted to just two of the six inhabited continents, but still, that was impressive. There were ten teams in five different countries. Three in Europe, including Spain, Germany, and Great Britain. Then, the rest were in North America, with six American teams and one Canadian team, the Montreal Machine.

It was exciting, and it would also work out to be the first professional football games (American football, that is) that I would attend. There was an accessibility to the WLAF that was lacking with the NFL and other leagues. It was not big or popular, so tickets were cheap and readily available.

The thing is, it lasted only two years. The teams were cool, and quite a few had really cool uniforms, including the New York/New Jersey Knights, the Birmingham Fire, the San Antonio Riders, the Frankfurt Galaxy, the Montreal Machine, and some others as well. It was fun, but two years was too short to really get into it all that much, although occasionally, I find myself missing the WLAF and wishing that they had stayed in business.

Well, actually, they did, although they became NFL Europe. But eventually, they, too, folded.

I remember feeling a slight thrill at seeing Lionel Manuel, a former member of the 1986 New York Giants Super Bowl championship team, playing for the Barcelona Dragons.

Footage from the first WLAF broadcast on ABC, which I remember watching.

A game between the eventual World Bowl champion London Monarchs, and the Birmingham Fire, who had a unique and awesome looking uniform.

Footage from another ABC broadcast of a WLAF game during that inaugural 1991 season, between the Barcelona Dragons and the winless Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks, who went 0-10 in 1991, and did not return for the 1992 season.

Footage from another game from that first season, this one between the San Antonio Riders and the Birmingham Riders. I thought that the brown and gold uniforms for the Riders looked pretty sharp.

Here's a bit of a game between the visiting San Antonio Riders and the Barcelona Dragons from that inaugural 1991 season. The San Antonio Riders are wearing their brown jerseys here, which again, I felt looked sharp.

A bit of a game between the visiting Birmingham Fire and the hosting Orlando Thunder, with their bright, neon colored jerseys.

Part of a game between the visiting Frankfurt Galaxy and the San Antonio Riders. The Galaxy had the third best record in the league that season at 7-3, but wound up missing the playoffs, if memory serves correctly, because of the format for the playoffs, and due to the fact that they were in the European Division, easily the best division in the league during that inaugural season of the WLAF. the London Monarchs almost went undefeated, racing off to a 9-0 start before losing their last game to the 8-2 Barcelona Dragons. Frankfurt finished 7-3, better than anyone else in the WLAF outside of their division, but not good enough to qualify for the playoffs. I surprise myself in writing this to remember so much about the records of each team. At least, I believe that what I am writing is accurate. The WLAF tried to do things a little bit differently, to spice things up and make the game look more enticing than the NFL in some respects, since they could not compete with the talent level in the NFL. So, in this clip, you see something that was completely new and unique back then - camera footage from the helmet of a player in the game, which really was quite cool!

One of the main draws to the World League of American Football was that it consisted of teams that gave an international flavor to the league. Obviously, there were the three European teams. But even in North America, there was a team outside of American borders: the Montreal Machine. Here is a clip of them against the San Antonio Riders. It is a bit surprising that the WLAF did not bring a team south of the border, into Mexico, because some exhibition NFL games had drawn huge crowds in Mexico City, and it very well might have bolstered the popularity of the WLAF, and helped it last a bit longer than it did (in my opinion, and also admittedly in retrospect).

Another clip of a 1991 WLAF game, this one between the NY/NJ Knights and the Montreal Machine. I went to some of the games, as already mentioned, and one of them was between these two teams, although I do not believe it was this one. It probably was in 1992, and I remember comedian Howie Mandel having a makeshift show at the end of the game, somewhere in the parking lot. I took my father to see that one, on what was a very hot and sunny day, as I remember it. Pretty cool stuff!

I do not believe that I went to this game, either, although I saw quite a few home games for the NY/NJ Knights. Their home uniforms looked awesome, incorporating the predominately silver and black look reminiscent of the Raiders of the NFL. At the time, it was still relatively rare, before it started to be copied to a ridiculous extent in the other North American sports. The coach of the Knights, Mouse Davis, had invented the run 'n shoot offense that was then in vogue, although it would fade away fairly quickly thereafter. The Knights are hosting the Sacramento Surge in this clip.

I actually remember watching this game in particular, between the Knights and Birmingham! Another good shot of the helmet cam here.

More footage from the inaugural season, this a bit of the game between the Orlando Thunder and the London Monarchs.

The London Monarchs at the San Antonio Riders from that 1991 season.

The colorful Sacramento Surge at the San Antonio Riders in 1991.

Clip of a 1991 game between the Birmingham Fire and the Montreal Machine.

The Sacramento Surge at the Birmingham Fire in 1991.

Another bit of footage from a game at Barcelona, with the Orlando Thunder as the visiting team. The Barcelona Dragons went 8-2 that season, and were the only team to defeat the eventual champions, the London Monarchs, preventing them from going undefeated in the final week of the regular season. But the two teams met in the World Bowl, and London exacted a strong measure of revenge by shutting Barcelona out, 21-0, to win the inaugural World Bowl.

A clip of a game between the Barcelona Dragons and the London Monarchs. I do not believe that this is the World Bowl, nor do I believe that this is the game that Barcelona won. They would meet in the World Bowl, and London would win easily, though.

The London Monarchs were easily the best team that first season of the WLAF, in 1991. This video documents that season of dominance for the Monarchs.

This was an interesting story of the irony of two locals from small town America who lived within minutes of one another growing up, winding up meeting in the grand sounding World Bowl in 1991. Stan Gelbaugh, quarterback for the eventual, inaugural World Bowl champion London Monarchs, talks about how his 1991 season in London was his favorite. It must have been a thrill for those American football players to spend a season or two (or more, since the WLAF continued exclusively in Europe and became known as NFL Europe for many years afterwards) to get to spend some time living abroad like they did.

The World Bowl (Clip)

Saudi Arabia's Influence With Wahhabism Possibly Created ISIS

In the wake of the orchestrated terror attacks in Belgium yesterday, I decided to share this particular article that I ran into, which is an excellent article exploring the origins of Wahhabism, and how it came to be front and center for Islamic fundamentalism and militancy. Not surprisingly, it is also one of the prime motivating factors for terrorism, like the attacks we saw yesterday.

So, I thought I would publish it, and add certain parts of it that I thought shed some light on how it relates to modern terrorism today.

Here is the link, and some excerpts from the article (from two years ago) that I thought were particularly illuminating and/or relevant:

The soaring oil price created by the 1973 embargo – when Arab petroleum producers cut off supplies to the US to protest against the Americans’ military support for Israel – gave the kingdom all the petrodollars it needed to export its idiosyncratic form of Islam. The old military jihad to spread the faith was now replaced by a cultural offensive. The Saudi-based Muslim World League opened offices in every region inhabited by Muslims, and the Saudi ministry of religion printed and distributed Wahhabi translations of the Quran, Wahhabi doctrinal texts and the writings of modern thinkers whom the Saudis found congenial, such as Sayyids Abul-A’la Maududi and Qutb, to Muslim communities throughout the Middle East, Africa, Indonesia, the United States and Europe. In all these places, they funded the building of Saudi-style mosques with Wahhabi preachers and established madrasas that provided free education for the poor, with, of course, a Wahhabi curriculum. At the same time, young men from the poorer Muslim countries, such as Egypt and Pakistan, who had felt compelled to find work in the Gulf to support their families, associated their relative affluence with Wahhabism and brought this faith back home with them, living in new neighbourhoods with Saudi mosques and shopping malls that segregated the sexes. The Saudis demanded religious conformity in return for their munificence, so Wahhabi rejection of all other forms of Islam as well as other faiths would reach as deeply into Bradford, England, and Buffalo, New York, as into Pakistan, Jordan or Syria: everywhere gravely undermining Islam’s traditional pluralism.

So the liberal state is not an inevitable consequence of modernity; the attempt to produce democracy in Iraq using the colo­nial methods of invasion, subjugation and occupation could only result in an unnatural birth – and so IS emerged from the resulting mayhem.

Wahhabism to ISIS: how Saudi Arabia exported the main source of global terrorism  by Karen Armstrong, 27 November 2014:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Terrorist Attacks in Belgium

Just learned that there were two explosions that went off in the departure area of Zaventem airport in Brussels, Belgium. There were casualties, but the Belgian government has not yet released the numbers. All flights have been cancelled, and the airport is now closed and is in the process of evacuation.

There were reports of shots fired, and the men doing the shooting speaking in Arabic, according to Belga news agency.

Also, there was an explosion reported at Maelbeek metro station in Brussels, which is not far from the European Union government buildings.

These attacks come in the immediate aftermath of the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, the main suspect in the terrorist attacks in Paris last November.

Belgium stood with France after the Paris attacks, and France and Belgium worked closely together in the subsequent months to capture and rout the terrorists involved then. France will surely do the same now that Belgium finds itself the victim.

Thoughts and prayers are with the people of Belgium today.

Brussels Zaventem airport blasts cause casualties 19 minutes ago  From the section BBC Europe:

Obama’s “Jedi” Reference Further Divides an Already Polarized

Yesterday, I posted my assessment of the presidency of Barack Obama, which seems like it is a mixed bag. There were some successes and some failures. His proactive approach on the environment during his second term has helped to alleviate his failure to address it during his first term. His opening of relations with Cuba (and he is there on an official trip as I write this) was something that this country was frankly overdue for, and will surely be remembered as a major part of his legacy. And to his credit, he managed to turn around the economy considerably after he inherited it in a position where it was in the toilet following eight years of George W. Bush and all of the corporate scandals that surrounded those years.

However, the middle class is still hurting, and Obama seems to be too lenient on big banks and major corporations that continue to exert unbelievable control over American politics, and which is making this country a worse place overall. He did not close Gitmo, and continued many practices that many of us had hoped would end after Bush left office. And again, it seemed that he slipped any action on the environment throughout his first term.

So, there have been better presidents, although there also certainly have been worse presidents, as well. Any doubts about that, and just take a look at the man who preceded him, and the embarrassment of mistakes and missteps to choose from during those eight long years.

Also, he just seems more connected to the American people, more with it, if you will. He is into some things that make him very much a typical American, such as Superman. Hard to imagine a born and bred elitist like George W. Bush putting Superman stickers on a laptop.

Or, for that matter, making reference to Jedi mind tricks, which President Obama did recently, as well - although it should be noted that he screwed that one up. Somehow, he managed to confuse the Jedi mind trick with the Vulcan mind-meld from Star Trek, although most people would forgive him this, given that he is not known for being a science fiction geek, or anything.

Here, specifically, is what the president said:

"I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that's been floating around Washington that somehow, even though most people agree that I'm being reasonable, that most people agree I'm presenting a fair deal. The fact that they don't take it means that I should somehow, you know, do a Jedi mind-meld with these folks and convince them to do what's right. Well, you know, they're elected. We have a constitutional system of government."

The Jedi mind-meld? What on Earth is that?

Richard Riis explains it a bit further in his article on this subject, which I would recommend:

Of course, the President is confusing the Vulcan mind-meld from Star Trek with the Jedi mind trick from Star Wars, and hardcore fans of both have already begun taking to Twitter to express their outrage and disappointment.

I think that clears it up. Again, of all the mistakes that Obama has made in office - and there were a few of them - this one is the least serious that I know of. He can be forgiven...this time. He should just be glad that Darth Vader is not there to force choke him, let alone what the Emperor might do, as he is less forgiving than Vader.

Obama’s “Jedi” Reference Further Divides an Already Polarized Nation  By Richard Riis   Friday Mar 01, 2013:

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Presidency of Barack Obama

President Obama seems to be a mixed bag. It seems that people either really like the guy, or they really hate him. And some people really, really hate him.

Me, I am one of those people who fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to President Obama. I certainly did not believe all of the hype surrounding the man, and what truly was a a myth that was created, and which certainly helped get him elected. If President Clinton reminded me of President Kennedy for various reasons, then the mystique, and that incredibly hopeful spirit that this man represented a brighter future for the country, reminded me of that hopeful, youthful spirit surrounding Kennedy as he ran for president and, ultimately, throughout his all-too brief presidency, which was of course cut off by an assassin's bullet.

It seemed that at the time, everyone thought that this guy was going to fix the nation's problems. Everyone seemed to realize that George W. Bush had been a truly terrible president, and we needed someone who was going to come in and fix things. Many people thought that we had that man in Barack Obama. Unfortunately, the contemporary political mindset for too many Americans seems to be that the primary responsiblity - and some people seem to believe that it is their only responsiblity - is to go out and vote. Once they have done that, they seem to think that their work is over.

So, paradoxically, one of the very things that got Obama elected also has come to work against him - that positive feeling of hope and change, and that this would correct what ailed the country.

People became disappointed with him in time, although it is not entirely fair to blame him for all of these things.

Shortly after he was elected, there was the emergence of the Tea Party, and right wing extremism, really not all that different from the neocons who had enjoyed their way and had their day during the days of George W. Bush, suddenly were blaming President Obama for everything. It seemed like they just woke up and only noticed how bad the country was once their guy, Bush, was out of office, and Obama was in office, and they automatically blamed Obama for problems that, quite clearly, were created by Bush. In eight years, Bush took the United States from a respected nation, the world's only superpower, and in as short a time span as possible, turned America into a nation that the rest of the world distrusted (with some validity) and came to view as the greatest threat to world peace.

These noecon Tea Party activists suddenly allowed themselves to voice their hatred, even though the rest of the country was wondering why they had not noticed all of these horrific things about the country earlier - like when Bush was in office. The erosion of civil liberties, increased surveillance of American citizens by an increasingly tyrannical government, out of control, wasteful government spending that caused the national debt to explode, outrageous and immoral wars begun under false pretenses and with no exit strategy. These were all things that really spiraled out of control during the Bush years, far more than the Obama years - although it should be noted that President Obama sure seemed to drag his feet with ending some of these detrimental policies.

Still, all of this served to erode Obama's meteoric popularity, which likely was inevitable, anyway. The thing is, he was neither worthy of all of the accolades that seemed to come to him so easily as he was running for president. I still think that Nobel Peace Prize was an absurdity and basically a misplaced sentiment of urging by the international community to keep America on what was perceived to be the right political course.

In all likelihood, it would have been impossible for Obama to live up to the enormous and unrealistic expectations that many Americans had of him. There are no magicians in Americans politics, and the reality was that the country's numerous, very serious problems would need considerable time before improvements were seen. And since he did not come and wave a magic wand to fix everything immediately and painlessly for Americans, he was blamed and blasted for being a terrible president.

Now, I think that is nonsense, and it is grossly unfair for those neocon Bush supporters to blame Obama for so many of the problems that his predecessor created.

That said, I personally found Obama disappointing for some of the things that he continued from the Bush administration, as well as some of the things that he either dragged his feet on, or outright did not get accomplished. It was disappointing to see the increased surveillance on Americans themselves, and it was disappointing that Obama did not close Guantanamo. It was a major disappointment that he largely ignored environmental legislation and policy for almost his entire first term, even if he prioritized it officially for his second term. It is a huge disappointment that he seems to be a corporate elitist in politics, that he has no problem with de facto corporate supremacy, and that if anything, he often seems to be intent on expanding that grim reality. The for profit prison system continued to grow during the Obama years. And despite the improvements to the healthcare system with the passing of Obamacare, ridiculous prices for medicine is still very much a thing in this country right now.

Yet despite these limitations which make me personally feel lukewarm at best about this president, the fact of the matter is that after what is approaching eight years of President Obama, the nation as a whole is far better off now than it was back when he first took office, after eight full years of President George W. Bush. The economy is far, far stronger, even if it took a while for the economy to get there. I am still not convinced that the numbers reflect the actual strength of the economy for a majority of Americans, but there are obvious improvements nonetheless. Also, Obama did not engage his nation in two full wars, like his predecessor did. Some criticized his waging war on Libya, but as the saying goes, there are no boots on the ground there, or anywhere else, because Obama did not commit American troops to an unjustifiable war like Iraq. He may have lost some of his popularity overseas with some of the things - particularly the surveillance issue - that his administration was responsible for, but he did not do anything that sparked the worldwide condemnation of American foreign policy, like his predecessor, where the entire world felt outraged, and there were massive protests literally the world over.

Indeed, I think that the United States is in a better place now then it was pretty much at any time under George W. Bush, even though I wished he had gone farther in helping out average, ordinary, working class Americans instead of focusing on healthy numbers for Wall Street and corporate boards.

His presidency was a mixed bag, as probably could have been predicted. However, it was better than that of George W. Bush, and the fact that the country recovered as much as it did following the fiasco that we found ourselves in 2008, with a seemingly endless war in Iraq, with an economy on the brink of an abyss, with numerous corporate scandals hurting Americans and their sense of pride and belonging in the larger economy, and the generally incompetent rule of the Bush administration. We have seen improvement in these nearly eight years, which has meant that once again, the lies coming from the other party are being exposed as exactly that: lies. Obama, far from being the anti-Christ that was going to ruin the country, has improved the status of the country far more than most people (myself included) thought possible given the state of things in 2008.

And for that, he deserves tremendous credit.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

David Duke Claims Trump "Rehabilitating" Image of Adolf Hitler

Personally, I do not recall any presidential candidate or prominent politician generating quite the level of controversy that Donald Trump is presently doing during this presidential campaign.

There he is, getting blasted for suggesting all Mexicans are rapists and thieves, and insisting that, when president, he is going to build a wall and make them pay for it. Then, he is insulting Muslims and calling for a full ban on all Muslims into this country until, according to him, "we know what the hell is going on." He has insulted women, and just generally seems to be bringing the prejudices that many people had hoped would remain buried underneath the surface. But a lot of racists and xenophobes seem to be empowered by Trump.

Below, there is a link to a Rolling Stone article where David Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, states that Trump is rehabilitating the image of German dictator Adolf Hitler. Obviously, a statement like that will indeed generate a lot of controversy, and many are suggesting that Trump's inciting his followers towards violence, promising to pay their legal bills if they take care of certain people,

There Trump is, refusing to disavow David Duke, which generated considerable controversy, and painted him yet again as a racist and a despicable extremist in the eyes of many.

That, and he has also suggested that there would be war aplenty once he is in office. He would just bomb and bomb and bomb other lands, and he would bring back torture. Not just waterboarding, but everything, making waterboarding look tame by way of comparison (his words).

Also, he talks as he always has, tooting his own horn and speaking in general terms about how great of a president he would be, that he would be the greatest jobs creating president ever, and that America, under him, would just keep winning and winning and winning.

I listened to a report on NPR about him yesterday, and it was rather amazing. When he measures his wealth, he counts the amount of money that he is associated with on any level, rather than counting his actual wealth,the money and assets that he owns. He tends to do that in a lot of ways, to exaggerate his own sense of self-worth, and his own self-importance and genius.

But a lot of his deals were done by filing for bankruptcy, and then benefiting from the more lenient policies then. He counts those bankruptcies among his triumphs, and boasts about them, trying to embolden his image as a serious candidate for the presidency.

America is not an individual or a business, and it cannot afford to go bankrupt.

Still, many people want to believe that he has some answers, and so they believe what they want to believe.

Below are a couple of links related to Donald Trump. The first is a Rolling Stone article about how David Duke claims that Trump is rehabilitating Hitler's image, and the second is Senator Elizabeth Warren's popular Facebook posting against Trump, trying to mobilize people to take action against him. Enjoy!

David Duke Says Trump is 'Rehabilitating' Hitler's Image "The media have been the ones inciting hatred and violence," former Ku Klux Klan leader claims  BY ALTHEA LEGASPI March 17, 2016:

Elizabeth Warren's Takedown Of Donald Trump Is Going Viral  By Eyesbright   Monday Mar 14, 2016

Saturday, March 19, 2016

One-Third of Bernie Sanders Supporters Would Refuse to Vote for Hillary Clinton

I ran into a very important article, one that every Democrat, and every progressive in this country should really read.

This guy just hits the nail on the head, pointing out Hillary Clinton's duplicity - a duplicity that her former president husband was well known for throughout his political career - and that we cannot expect much better than what we had under George W. Bush if we do indeed get another Clinton presidency.

Frankly, let me say outright that I am one of those supporters of Bernie Sanders who simply will not throw away his vote to support Hillary Clinton in November, should it come to that. This is not because I am sexist or anything, because I would love to see a woman as president, and think it is long overdue for this country to have a woman in the Oval Office. Just not that particular woman.

Give me Elizabeth Warren, who truly stands up for the working class people, and stands up to the billionaire class and huge corporations. Give me somebody like that,

Do not give me another Clinton. Do not give me more of the same as what we have had for decades now. Those policies have been proven to be a failure.

That is the real problem with Democrats such as the Clintons (and I would place President Obama in this category as well). They receive loyal support from Democrats who clearly enjoyed the eight years of Democratic rule in the White House in the 1990's after 12 long years of Reagan-Bush.

However, Clinton also continued many of the same deregulation policies that did so much damage during the Reagan-Bush era, to the point that it could be said to be a continuation of those policies, and theirein lies the problem, because the two parties look far too similar. They agree with each other entirely too much.

The problem with the Democrats these last few decades is that they appear to be an alternative to deregulation, they pretend to be a champion of the people, but the policies that they too often have pursued have proven to be more of the same. That leads to this political system being a one-party system posing as a two-party system, with simply different wings of the same ideology. You can choose between a pro-corporate candidate like Hillary Clinton, or an extremely pro-corporate candidate, which the Republicans usually provide. That is the illusion of choice, because these politicians are controlled by the same moneyed sponsors who certainly appear to control the agenda.

That is why it is so crucial not to dismiss Hillary Clinton's rich donors, because they are the ones who stand to really benefit from a Clinton presidency. And yes, those are the same guys who supported a Bush presidency not all that long ago. That is why we can expect very much more of the same should Hillary come into this elected office.

Some excerpts:

Be very careful what you wish for, because most Americans have an unfavorable view of Clinton and Bernie Sanders already beats Trump by a wider margin.

In 10 out of 10 national polls regarding favorability, Hillary Clinton has negative favorability ratings nationally in all 10.

The problem with Hillary supporters is that they have no concept of hypocrisy.

Yes, Clinton supporters rely on a childish and dangerous form of moral relativism, blissfully ignoring the irony that on each topic, their candidate is worse than the morally relative comparison.

But Sanders supported the F-35!

Ok, but that was a weapons system, and Hillary Clinton is a neocon with a weapons deal scandal, voted for Iraq, and has an ongoing FBI investigation. Checkmate. End of debate.

I'm not voting for a person who won't break up Too Big to Fail Banks, or reinstate Glass Steagall, because Bernie Sanders already wants to implement these safeguards; before the next financial collapse, not after.

There are those in the media and American politics who would allow Hillary Clinton and the DNC to get away with virtually anything, without the slightest fear of how these actions might affect a general election. Thus, Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and every other top Democratic leader can act with impunity, and expect The Daily Banters and Beasts of the world to defend them, regardless of whether or not Democrats morph into moderate Republicans.

It's important to have principles in life, and I'm never voting for anyone who says "I've always tried" to tell the truth. Therefore, I'm never "falling in line," or pledging allegiance to Hillary or the DNC. I'm an American first, before any party loyalty, and I'm voting my conscience. You vote your conscience, and don't forget to ask why Donald Trump donated money to Clinton's Senate campaigns.

At some point, people like Bill and Hillary Clinton must learn that their duplicity, in terms of overt leaning towards conservative policies (read Michelle Alexander's Nation piece) must come with peaceful political repercussions from a disenchanted base.

Bill Crystal and other neoconservatives would rather see Hillary Clinton in the White House than Trump, so while I'll never vote for Trump, I'll never vote for a Democrat with a neoconservative foreign policy.

33 Percent of Bernie Sanders Supporters Will Not Vote for Hillary Clinton. Here's Why by HA Goodman,  03/16/2016:

Friday, March 18, 2016

Indiana Jones Latest Movie Release Set for 2019

Indiana Jones


Here is the link to my most recent article for Guardian Liberty Voice!

Indiana Jones Latest Movie Release Set for 2019:

There will be a fifth installment for the Indiana Jones franchise, which will be the latest movie release for the iconic archaeologist/hero, and is set for release in July of 2019. The title of the new movie, as well as a general plot line, were yet to be released at the time of this article.

Indiana Jones has been one of the most successful movie franchises in history. It has generated just shy of $2 billion dollars over the course of several decades, starting with the release of the introductory film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, back in 1981. That made so much money and was considered such a success, that it was then followed up by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 1984, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989, and finally, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008. The character transcended the movies, however, as a younger version of the hero became the focal point of an ABC television series in the early 1990's. The archaeologist also became the star of video games, comic books, adventure novels, toy lines, as well as other social mediums. Still today, there continues to be a strong cult following of the hero and the franchise, even after so many years have passed since the peak of the franchise back in the 1980's. Now, Indiana Jones will return to the big screen with the latest movie release set for 2019.

In large part, this level of success was due to director Stephen Spielberg's ability to transfer the excitement of his original vision onto the silver screen so effectively, aided by the strong acting of Harrison Ford. Ford will be playing the title character once again, although he will be 77 years old by the time this next film is released. That has prompted a growing sentiment among many who are calling for the mantle to be passed to someone younger. The announcement that this franchise will be releasing yet a new movie more than 11 years after the last Indiana Jones movie was released in 2008, and almost four decades since the first one was released, had some others wondering if this was an indication that Hollywood had lost it's originality, and was out of new ideas. Still, the original film, Raiders of the Lost Ark,  has the distinction of being placed No. 60 on the list of the American Film Institute's "100 Greatest American Films of All Time."

The world now awaits the latest Indiana Jones movie, which is set for release for July of 2019. However, there are plenty of questions and criticisms that have been aired in the immediate aftermath of this announcement. There was no shortage of jokes swirling around the age of Ford, and some suggested that this older version of Indiana Jones would actually forget what adventure he was on, would have a prosthetic hip by now, or that he would struggle simply to get off his lawn chair at this point. Obviously, some people are insinuating that Ford is too old for the action hero role, and that a younger actor should take the reins now. Many suggestions point to Chris Pratt as being the most logical successor to Ford to continue the iconic role, although for his part, Stephen Spielberg has remained adamant that Ford is the only actor who will ever don the iconic fedora of the title character.

New ‘Indiana Jones’ film with Harrison Ford set for 2019 12:05 a.m. EDT March 16, 2016:

Indiana Jones: Harrison Ford to appear in fifth film for Entertainment and Arts Section, 15 March 2016:
Is Harrison Ford too old for another Indiana Jones movie? Brandon Griggs-Profile-Image By Brandon Griggs, CNN Updated 4:15 PM ET, Tue March 15, 2016

Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford reunite for fifth 'Indiana Jones'  Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY 10:23 p.m. EDT March 15, 2016