Censorship of books again, really? “To Kill A Mockingbird” in the crosshairs. “Jeopardy” star Austin Rogers does a turn on Fallon, and it’s great. And the Jets get screwed by the refs, but probably would’ve lost to Pats anyway

Every few years or so, it seems we have to go through this. And every few years, I feel like it’s so important.

Thousands of fantastic works of literature are found objectionable by school-board bureaucrats in small (or large) towns across the country, and students in these districts are denied the opportunity to be challenged, to learn, to question, and most of all, to expand their minds.

This weekend I heard about censorship happening to maybe my favorite novel of all time, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Yes, boys and girls, the people of Biloxi, Miss. decided to remove this amazing novel by Harper Lee from the 8th grade reading list at the local middle school.

Why, you might ask, is “TKAM” no longer suitable? According to the vice president of the Biloxi School Board, Kenny Holloway, “There were complaints about it. There is some language in the book that makes people uncomfortable, and we can teach the same lesson with other books.”

Language that makes people uncomfortable. Of course we all know what he’s talking about; racially charged words and deeds in the book have been discussed for years.

But removing books because of “language that makes people uncomfortable?” That’s the whole point of reading, especially when you’re young! I read all kinds of books that made me uncomfortable. Ellie Wiesel’s “Night” made me uncomfortable. Parts of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” made me uncomfortable. So, so many other fantastic works I’ve been exposed to have made me unsettled, or angry, or questioning.

That’s the whole point of books! Ugh. Biloxi, Miss. won’t be the last school district to make this kind of idiotic decision.

**Next, I don’t know about you, but in my house we’ve been kinda obsessed for the past few weeks over “Jeopardy!” champion and ultimate strange dude Austin Rogers. A bartender from New York City (OK so that was the first reason I liked him), Austin won more than $400,000 in 12 games and was unlike any other contestant I’d ever seen. He dressed loudly, made strange pantomine gestures every time he was introduced, and generally acted like the crazy uncle you see at Thanksgiving every year who knows everything.

Anyway, I loved this dude. I’m sure in real life he’d drive you nuts, but for a few minutes on “Jeopardy!” each night, he was fabulous. Anyway, Austin’s run ended last week and he went on Jimmy Fallon to talk about it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

**And finally today, I’d love to tell you that I didn’t get my hopes up for a Jets win over the Patriots Sunday, but after the boys in green and white took a shocking 14-0 lead in the first half, I kinda did.

And what was surprising was not that the Jets lost, because that’s what I usually expect when they play the Patriots. But the way they lost, and the absolutely egregious, horrendous, pathetic replay overrule that cost them a touchdown, well, that was new.

Go ahead and watch this clip of Austin Sefarian-Jenkins scoring a touchdown, have it be called a touchdown, then overruled inexplicably, and tell me this is the correct call. Absolutely ridiculous. Somehow, this was ruled as a fumble out of the end zone.

— So I guess Adrian Peterson has something left in the tank still, huh? Wow. What a game in his first one as an Arizona Cardinal.

— The Giants finally won, the Chiefs finally lost, and there are no really great teams in the NFL this year. So much mediocrity, that I think 10-12 teams could legitimately win the Super Bowl.

— On “Sunday Night Football” Al Michaels said the Giants “are coming off a worse week than Harvey Weinstein.” Oh, Al. What a horrible, stupid and cruel joke.

— Aaron Rodgers is probably out for the season with a broken collarbone, destroying Packers hopes (and the hopes of my fantasy team, for which he starred). If only there was a QB out there they could call, a free agent who had a terrific season last year but is being blackballed by the NFL for daring to speak out. Name is Colin, something or other.

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An 11-year-old girl finds out she’s getting adopted, and is overjoyed. A couple born on exact same day, in same hospital, gets married. And cute pandas frolicking around, just for fun.

It’s Friday, it’s Friday the 13th, it’s suddenly autumn in N.Y. after never-ending 80 degree days, and I’m actually looking forward to a Jets-Patriots game on Sunday, which never happens.

Lots of good stuff to get to you this week, but I have to start with this deservedly-viral video from, of all places, an administration office of a middle school.

Meet 11-year-old Tannah Butterfield, a kid in Utah who has been desperately hoping she’d be adopted by the foster parents she’s come to know and love.

In this beautiful video above, shot on Oct. 2 at American Heritage School of South Jordan, Utah, Tannah is told by her friend “Miss Jackie,” Jackie Alexander, a school administrator, that her wish has come true.

“Have you heard the news? You’re getting your forever family,” Jackie says she told Tannah.

Tannah’s reaction is priceless. Watch the background of the story here.

**Next up today, this story I heard about on People.com was kind of crazy but great: A couple of 27-year-olds in Massachusetts named Jessica Gomes and Aaron Bairos met in 2007, set up by a couple of friends. They’d grown up in the same area, went to rival high schools, and became serious about each other.

As they got to know each other, they discovered they had the same exact birthdate, April 28, 1990.

Then, they learned they’d both been born at the same hospital, Morton Hospital in Taunton, Mass. And this is my favorite part: According to a local newspaper saved by Jessica’s grandma, Aaron and Jessica were the ONLY two babies born at that hospital that day. (Grandmas save everything, don’t they?)

Jessica and Aaron got married on Sept. 9, and if there’s cosmic justice in the world, any future children they have will be born on April 28.

**Finally today, I leave you with adorable pandas, being clumsy, set to fantastic classical music. If this doesn’t make you smile, check to make sure your face still works…

The app that talks to your teens about sex, so you don’t have to. A brutal but necessary PSA about cyber-bullying. And the married couple whose drunken bet on a game led to third-degree burns

My son is only 3 and the new baby is on the way any day/week now (if the blog has no new content for a few days at the end of October, bear with me, I’m likely getting used to having a new little guy around the house and probably will be severely sleep-deprived), but it’s never too early to think about how you’re going to deal with your kid as a teenager.

And one thing I’m absolutely dreading as a Dad is the birds and the bees talk. I honestly don’t ever recall getting it from my father; my older sister Debbie tells me that my dad tried to give me the talk once, and she sat outside the door giggling really hard and he gave up (I have no memory of any of this.)

Anyway, it’s a horrible and awkward experience for all of us. But thankfully, technology has come to the rescue. Introducing a new app called “We’ll Talk,” which answers your inquisitive adolescent’s questions about self-gratification, what to do if you like a boy or girl, and uses lots of fun emojis and that your kids will understand and you won’t.

You can ask the app about sexually transmitted diseases, rashes, all kinds of fun stuff!

Just imagine the stimulating conversations you can have: “Daddy, what does this emoji mean, it has a little boy’s pee pee turning a different color?”

**Next up today, I thought this was a really powerful PSA about cyber-bullying. So many times in this era when we talk to each other through the computer or phone instead of actually talking, we say horribly mean things that we’d never say to anyone’s face.

Cyber-bullying, trolling, or just being a jerk is so much easier when you dehumanize the person at the other end of the message; somehow we feel a disconnect because we don’t have to actually face the person we’re insulting.

But this PSA, from a group called “In Real Life,” shows us the jarring results when you actually say these despicable comments to someone’s face, making ti seem much more real.

A little hard to watch, but very very effective.

**And finally today, in case you’re having a rough day and feeling like you’re one of the dumbest people alive, no need to fret, I’ve found two people much stupider than you.

Meet Timothy Silyers and his wife, Brianna Hook, who live in Vero Beach, Fla. Seems Timothy and Brianna are fans of different football teams; Ol’ Tim roots for the Cowboys, while his beloved cheers for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Tim and Brianna made a bet on last Sunday’s game between the rivals, that the losing team’s jersey would be set on fire after the game.

Well, Rodgers and the Pack made a thrilling comeback and won in the final seconds, so the Cowboys jersey was to be set in flames.

But, and this is the part where I’ll need to remind you that the couple had been drinking heavily during the game, when it came time to set the jersey on fire, Tim brilliantly decided to keep the jersey on his body while his wife set it on fire.

Shockingly, things went badly. Tim was rushed to the hospital and treated for third-degree burns on his hands and arm, and second-degree burns to this back.

Sadly, local authorities say they wont press charges against any consensual bet between two adults.

“I don’t believe we’ve ever had a case where someone set another person’s jersey on fire as a result of a sporting bet,” Lt. Tom Raulen said

Come on, Vero Beach police! At least arrest them and charge them with being monumentally stupid, that’s totally a crime!

Nothing says true love like being doused with water when you’re body is in flames while drunk. I think I’ll make a Hallmark card that says that.

A rare sports trifecta of joy for me Sunday: Rangers, Jets AND Yankees all win. And the VP Mike Pence walkout stunt was disgraceful on many levels

Sunday was a weird and wonderful day. The weird started early, with me and my 3-year-old going outside on Oct. 8 (the 29th anniversary of my bar mitzvah, if you’re scoring at home) in T-shirts and shorts. Seriously, the weather on the East Coast right now is nuts; it’s supposed to be in the 70s and 80s all week and pumpkins are appearing everywhere and it’s just weird.

Anyway, Sunday was also weird because three of my four favorite sports teams were playing on the same day. I’m sure it’s happened before, but it’s pretty rare that the Jets, Rangers and Yankees are all competing in the same 12-hour time period, but here we were.

And so the day began with me half-watching the Jets-Browns game, and I’m here to tell you that the first two quarters of that game would have had most humans pulling their eyes out of their sockets, because it was so pitiful and painful to watch. The Jets stink, but the Browns’ stench is worse than the odor of Billy Batts in Henry Hill’s car in Goodfellas. And so by being slightly less bad, the Jets won and are, improbably, tied for first place in the AFC East. Crazy.

Then I went to the Rangers game, as a dad-buddy of mine hooked me up with excellent seats at MSG to Rangers-Canadiens. And the Blueshirts, despite playing terrible the first two games, played very well and won, 2-0, and my day was on its way to sports perfection (By the way, and I have said this a thousand times but will say it again: There is nothing, nothing like live hockey. By far the best sport to see in person, to appreciate the skill, speed and size of these players.)

And finally, I got home in time Sunday night to see the last two innings of the Yankees, facing elimination from the playoffs, finish off a nail-biting 1-0 win over Cleveland.

Three teams I root for, three wins. It was a very good day (Oh and also, we started getting the baby crib back together since, you know, new baby is due in about three weeks!)

Couple other NFL thoughts, and these will just be on the games since I’ll have quite a bit to say on VP Mike Pence’s unbelievably stupid and deceitful stunt at the Colts game:

— Brandon Weeden and E.J. Manuel are both on NFL rosters. Colin Kaepernick is not. And the NFL owners claim they’re not black-balling him. Pretty funny.

— The Giants are 0-5 (hee hee, as a Jets fan I’m allowed to enjoy that a tiny bit), and no one but me is admitting the real reason their season has been such a disaster: They signed Geno Smith in the offseason. Geno, a complete bust as a Jet, thought he was going to a first-class, winning organization when he left in the offseason. Now, the Jets are tied for first-place and his new team stinks.  Clearly Geno brought some bad Jets karma with him.

— Can the Packers and Cowboys play every week? Seems like every time they play the game is awesome.

— Poor J.J. Watt. Dude just cannot stay healthy, suffering another gruesome injury Sunday night, and probably out for the year.

— Major kudos to Cam Newton for his heartfelt apology after making a sexist remark to a Charlotte Observer reporter this week. This is how you apologize. Then he goes out and wins another game. Good job, Cam.

**OK, so if you haven’t heard about this Mike Pence/walkout thing, let me give you a quick recap: Sunday in Indianapolis, Pence, the former governor of the state and a huge Colts fan, attends the Colts-49ers game at Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s a pretty huge weekend in town, because Indy is honoring their legend, Peyton Manning, with a statue and ceremony and jersey retirement and all that good stuff.

Pence flies from Las Vegas, where he was Saturday, all the way to Indiana to go to the game. The Secret Service are there, and of course all the fans were delayed getting into the stadium because of heightened security procedures whenever Secret Service are at a game, guarding a President or VP. As he arrives at the stadium, the press following Pence is told, by Pence’s own staff, not to get off the press bus, that Pence won’t be staying at the game long.

Then, as the national anthem starts, Pence sees 20 or 30 49ers players kneeling during the anthem, as 49ers players have done every season.

Then, Pence tweets out that as Donald Trump told him to do, he’s leaving because “I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag or our National Anthem.”

And then this paragon of virtue, this man of such high moral principles, gets on Air Force 2 and flies all the way back to California. Where he had a previously scheduled fundraiser set for 6:30 p.m.

Such an unbelievable, colossal sham. Pence 100 percent knew that Niners players would protest. He also knew he would walk out and completely overshadow the day his “beloved” Peyton Manning was being honored, just so he could make a ridiculous show of leaving. THEN he flies all the way to California for a fundraiser.

In all, it’s estimated that Pence cost the American taxpayers $242,000 with this idiotic attempt at making a point. So proud.

 

 

Good News Friday: Could you buy everything in that Barenaked Ladies song for a million dollars, for real? Barack Obama with a 25th anniversary tribute to his wife. And the 4-foot-8 high school football player rules. And she’s a girl.

It has been a rough week, filled with tears, anger and sadness. So I want to start off Good News Friday with something completely silly and also awesome.

Luke Martin is an e-migo of mine; we’ll probably never meet in person but we get along great on Twitter because he’s hilarious and smart (I linked to one of his posts a while back, on the death of his dog, which was really movingly written.

Anyway, Luke decided, because, why not, to look at the Barenaked Ladies classic song “If I had a million dollars” literally. He examined the lyrics and the things BNL said they’d buy, and figured out how much of today’s 2017 dollars it would cost to get them all.

Luke told me he spent about six hours doing this article, which I find hilarious and awesome. He discovered that John Merrick’s remains (he’s more famously known as The Elephant Man) are actually NOT for sale, what a K-Car actually is, what the going price for a llama or an emu is, and how hard it is to find fancy ketchup.

If you are looking to completely take your mind off the world and get lost in something really fun and mostly meaningless, I highly recommend reading this.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I plan to spend all weekend trying to find out how much 99 Luftballoons cost these days.

**Next up today, Wednesday was Barack and Michelle Obama’s 25th wedding anniversary. Anyone being married for 25 years is impressive and worthy of celebration in my eyes, but being in the public eye for the last 13 years of their marriage must make it harder.

Michelle was in the middle of a conference of women in Pennsylvania, on stage with Shonda Rimes, when a video tribute from Barack suddenly surprised her.

This is really, really beautiful; we should all hope our spouses talk this way about us after 25 years.

**And finally, Felicia Perez is a 4-foot-8 student at Brandywine High School in Wilmington, Del. She’s also a linebacker on the football team.

And she plays a lot. And she’s pretty courageous, and the boys on her team swear by her.

Steve Hartman of CBS News with another great human interest piece. I love this girl.

Another mass shooting, and we should all be disgusted and angry at our government. Chance the Rapper with a pretty incredible new performance. And remembering Tom Petty, whose music made my life happier

It’s happened again. Because, of COURSE it happened again.
Every. Single. Goddamn. Time. Every time there’s a mass shooting in America, the same, tired, ridiculous arguments get trotted out. Congressmen and women who are bought, sold and paid for by the gun lobby offer “thoughts and prayers.”
What they actually are saying, and doing by their votes, is making it EASIER for mass shootings to happen. Because they pass laws making it simpler for people with mental illnesses to get guns. And they make sure suspected terrorists on the U.S. “no-fly list” can still get guns.

And the same, tired, ridiculous arguments get trotted out by the NRA, who continue to be the single most powerful force in American politics.

Nothing ever changes. Ever. It is the issue I feel strongest about that will take the longest to change, because we have weak, spineless leaders (in BOTH parties) who refuse to stop the massacring of fellow Americans.

Nothing happened, no laws were changed to protect Americans after CHILDREN WERE MURDERED in an elementary school in Connecticut in 2012. You think 59 adults (and counting) and hundreds of injured at a music concert in Las Vegas is going to change things?

Not a chance. I’m tired of being disgusted, tired of being outraged, tired of living in the type of country where our political leaders don’t seem to give one damn about protecting its citizens from fellow citizens wielding enormously dangerous weapons.

The Onion runs the same headline after every mass shooting that it first ran years ago: “No Way to Prevent This, Says only Nation where this Regularly Happens.”

I’m nauseous, once again, from yet another preventable and unspeakable tragedy.

Three pieces of media I want to share on the Las Vegas shooting. One, Jimmy Kimmel, who is becoming quite the eloquent statesman lately, with an emotional discussion of the massacre in his hometown.

— Two, an unbelievable piece of writing and reporting from the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery, on two strangers, Kody Robertson and Michelle Vo (pictured above), who became fast friends at the music festival in Las Vegas, and the dedication of one to the other after the tragedy. One of the most heartbreaking and beautiful stories you’ll ever read.

— And three, Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show,” bringing it home and speaking the truth. Again, this doesn’t have to happen. Except it keeps happening.

**Next up, a message of hope, or at least something uplifting. Chance the Rapper is someone who seems to keep cropping up everywhere these days; the Chicago native has become a major voice speaking out against the awful violence and murders that plague the Windy City. He’s a wildly talented writer and musician, and honestly seems like he’s trying hard to be positive, and uplifting.

Chance was on Stephen Colbert last week performing a new song he’d just written, but I just saw this the other day and thought it was outstanding. I hope you find it uplifting, too. (The song is called “First World Problems.”)

**And finally today, a few words about Tom Petty, a musician who I’d say ranks in my all-time Top 10 in terms of “number of times I’ve listened to his songs and instantly felt happy.”

I “discovered” this amazing musician in 1989, when his album “Full Moon Fever” came out and I first heard the song “Free Fallin'” on MTV. Within a few months I was going down to our local record and cassette store and trying to find as much as possible by Petty, this Floridian with the scratchy voice and the kick-ass guitar sound.

Soon I discovered classic songs like “American Girl,” “Refugee,” and “Don’t Come Around Here No More.”

One of the best concerts I ever saw live was in 1996 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, when my best friend (and fellow Petty lover) Clay and I saw Petty and the Heartbreakers. We sang along, we danced, we may have inhaled a substance that rhymes with “farajuana,” and we just enjoyed watching a master musician at his craft.

Petty died way too young, on Monday, at age 66. But his musical legacy will live on.

Here, listen to “American Girl” and try not to sing along. It’s darn near impossible.

The strangest Jets season of my life: Do I root for them to win, or lose (they won again Sunday). Michael Che on fire on “SNL” season premiere. And “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is back, yay!

I have been a fan of the New York Jets since 1981, when I was 6 years old, and Richard Todd was the quarterback, Freeman McNeil was the running back, and they went all the way to the AFC Championship game before losing to Miami, 14-0, and A.J. Duhe intercepted Todd about 32 times that day. That was my first Jets heartbreak, and of course it was followed by 4,328 more.

I have watched Jets games in many states, physically (and I believe in 2-3 other countries), and in many states, emotionally (often sad, depressed, questioning my life choices as the third quarter bleeds down and the Jets are losing 31-6).

I didn’t think any new feelings or emotions watching the Jets could still be had, but here we are 36 years after my first becoming a fan, and something new and weird is happening.

I’m watching the 2017 Jets, and part of me wants them to lose. And another part of me yells at the part of me that wants them to lose and screams “Are you crazy?”

This hasn’t happened before. Oh, there have been games where, for the purposes of playoff matchups or something like that, I’ve been like “OK, fine, whatever, they lost, it’s better they’re now playing Team X instead of Y)

But not for an entire season. But here’s the deal: The Jets have done everything possible to be terrible this season. They’ve traded or cut just about all of their talented veteran players, in the hopes of being so bad, they’ll get a shot at a No. 1 pick and one of the many highly-rated college quarterbacks who are expected to be available in the next NFL Draft.

This is how you have to do it in the NFL, if you’re bad but not bad enough to get a top pick. You don’t “tank,” per se, but you strip your roster down and expect the worst.

Which is what is supposed to be happening to the Jets this year. Right now they are supposed to be 0-4, looking feeble on offense, defense and in coaching. And I mentally prepared myself for that before the season. Look, they haven’t had a franchise QB in forever, even if you count Chad Pennington and that was 15 years ago!

So I was totally prepared to suck it up, lose interest a little this year, and watch them go 2-14, or even better, 1-15.

And yet… they are tied in the standings today with the New England Patriots. How much money in Vegas you could’ve won if you’d taken that bet five weeks ago, I can only imagine.

But this ragtag bunch of nobodies, led by a 38-year-old quarterback who remembers renting VHS tapes as a kid, has won two straight games, including 23-20 over Jacksonville Sunday.

And as I’m watching this, I’m secretly happy my team is winning, because it doesn’t happen that often, but I’m also pissed because they’re blowing their chance to finally get what so many other franchise’s fans have gotten: A truly amazing QB. Who the hell wants to go 6-10 (which is where they’re headed this year) and get a left tackle or a defensive back? Let’s be horrendous, historically awful and get the next Peyton Manning or Drew Brees!

It’s a weird, weird feeling to kind of hope your team loses, because you know long-term, that would benefit them the most.

But hey, the Jets have 2 wins, and the Giants have zero. And that’s something to smile about if you’re me today.

Couple other quick-hit NFL thoughts:

— The Patriots defense is bad. Really, really bad. Maybe as bad as it’s been under Belichick. They’ve given up the second-most points in the whole league (128). Figures the year the Jets decide to try to lose, is the year New England finally falls back a little.

— The Rams are 3-1 and still aren’t any good. The Giants are 0-4 and I can’t believe they’re this bad. They play next week, so maybe I’ll be right about one of those things.

— Hey Chargers owner Dean Spanos, how’s that move to L.A. working out? Your team is 0-4 and can’t fill a 27,000 seat stadium.

**Next up, “Saturday Night Live” had its season premiere on Saturday night, and as expected, had a field day with the actions and Tweets of the 4-year-old currently occupying the Oval Office. The whole “Weekend Update” segment on Hurricane Maria was fantastic, but here’s just a small snippet of Michael Che, saying what so many of us are saying, but not on national television.

I know I’ve said this before, but can the man get any lower than calling the Puerto Rican people lazy and saying “they want everything to be done for them,” before claiming the Democrats instructed the San Juan mayor to be “nasty” to him and then continually bringing up the territory’s debt?

As Charlie Pierce aptly said on Twitter this weekend, “Don’t know what the metric is for measuring how much of a heartless, soulless hellbat a POTUS is, I’m pretty sure we broke the meter today.”

**Finally today, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is back! I’m super, super excited to see what the funniest show on TV has left after a six-year absence, though one should never doubt the insanity that lurks inside the mind of Larry David.

The season 9 premiere was Sunday night, and I haven’t watched it yet, but someone on the Internet gave me a good idea: They were telling someone about “Curb” and wondered if you had to show them one scene to sum up what it’s about, what would you show. They chose this clip, which is great, but I like this one: Larry and Cheryl, on a road trip to her sister’s husband’s baptism in the river.

Good News Friday: The wristband that soon will be able to text your thoughts. An NFL QB gives his paycheck to women who lost everything. And a senior citizen writes a letter to a neighbor, and changes both their lives.

And a Happy Friday to you all, and may my fellow Members of the Tribe have a great Yom Kippur. I’m going to try to fast but my resolve on not eating or drinking for 24 hours seems to have faded since I’ve started chasing a little boy around. But we’ll see how it goes.

As always, lots of good stuff to get to this week; I honestly thought about making this entire post a tribute to Hugh Hefner, who died at 91 on Thursday, because I truly believe he was an American hero. But nah, just a few words of thanks to Hef, who was responsible for millions of Americans (including, ahem, me) seeing their first naked lady. Hef, you were an icon who always put women on a pedestal. You lived one hell of a good life.

OK, on with the show. We start this week with another athlete who absolutely gets it. Everything I’ve ever seen, heard or read about rookie Houston Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson has told me what a class act he is, and t his story will only add to my respect for him.

Millions of Houstonians, of course, were devastated by Hurricane Harvey last month, with so many losing so much. Three cafeteria workers at the Texans’ stadium, NRG Stadium, were among those whose homes were destroyed.

This week, those workers,  Denisse Benavides, Isabel Sanchez and Maria Rincon, were surprised when Watson came to the cafeteria and donated his first NFL game check (about $29,000) to them to help them rebuild.

Watch the video above. The tears are real, as is the goodness in Watson’s heart. Heard enough horrible stories about the NFL this week? Here’s a positive one. I’m a DeShaun Watson fan no matter what team he plays on.
**Next up, I hope this next story doesn’t scare you, because it actually makes me excited. There’s a company called CTRL Labs that believes very soon, they will have created a wristband that can text for you just by reading what your thoughts are.

According to this article, and as I heard on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, the startup has created brainwave reading technology that they’re hoping will be mainstream by the year 2020, which isn’t exactly too long to go. Apparently it can pick up signals that your brains send to your fingers, so you won’t need to type to send texts/emails anymore.

According to one of the founders, Dr. Patrick Kaifosh, “We are developing systems to connect your neural output to machines as tightly as it is connected to the muscles that control your speech. I can already play Asteroids on my phone (personal aside: I kicked butt at Asteroids on my old Atari 2600) using only my thoughts, and the technology is already being used to train patients to use a virtual hand before receiving hand transplants from donors.”

This sounds awesome to me. Just as long as there are some safeguards, of course, I think this could make driving a lot safer (because of idiots who text and drive and let go of the wheel) and could help millions.

I’m sure there will be problems with it, but it’s still pretty incredible to me, that we live in this day and age where something like this could happen.

And finally today, it’s been a while since I’ve featured Steve Hartman and his fabulous “On the Road” stories for CBS News, but this one struck me as just beautiful. A woman in Park Hills, Mo. named Marlene Brooks got a strange letter last April, from a neighbor just a few doors away.

“Dear Mrs. ?,
Would you consider to become my friend? I’m 90 years old and live alone, and all my friends have passed away. I am so lonesome and scared. Please,  I pray for someone. Signed, Wanda Mills.”

Brooks was touched by the letter, and went to visit Mills the next day. And five months later, is still visiting her, four times a week, in a nursing home Mills now lives in. The two have become the best of friends, all because one kind woman helped out another person in need, simply by being there. Brooks even started a new pen pal group, Pen Pals for Seniors, to help others who might feel like Mills.

So much good in the world. So much good.

 

An enormous college hoops scandal shocks all, except college hoops fans. The Puerto Rico devastation up close is awful. And Jimmy Kimmel as an unlikely health care crusader

So much going on in the world right now, I feel like I want to blog four or five times per day (not sure where I’d get the time for that, but hey, that’s how I feel.) I really don’t want to make you read the 4,383rd take on the national anthem/flag controversy, so I won’t. I’ll just point you to this, from the great Bob Costas, and this, from ex-NFLer Shannon Sharpe, and this, from Texas sportscaster Dale Hansen, all of whom say exactly how I feel, and more eloquently.

First up today, you know sometimes when you’re close to something you don’t realize how it looks to people outside that sphere, and that things you completely take for granted as normal, other people see as a criminal enterprise? Of course you do.

That’s kind of how I feel about the bombshell that rocked college basketball Tuesday. It’s pretty rare there’s any college hoops news this time of year, but this was huge: The FBI announced results of a massive investigation that led to indictments for 10 college basketball assistant coaches, sneaker executives, agents, and recruits.

The investigation alleges that coaches took money from sneaker companies, paid players, steered players toward schools that were affiliated with the sneaker companies, then hooked those players up with agents of the sneaker companies’ choosing once they became pros in the NBA.

The evidence is shocking, and enormous. This scandal has the potential to fundamentally change and destroy many major programs, like Louisville, USC and Auburn.

And yet, to me and my fellow diehard college hoops fan friend Tony, our reaction was: Of course this all goes on. You feds are just figuring this out now?

Because one of the compromises we college basketball fans make to ourselves is to ignore the seamy stuff, and just focus on the beautiful product on the court. We have long taken for granted that so much of the sport we love is underhanded: One person paying another person, steering that person to a certain school which happens to have a contract with adidas or Nike or Under Armour, steering the player to a certain agent, with everyone getting kickbacks and bribes along the way.

It’s just that now, and for the next several months, the rest of the world will learn just how sleazy this all is. Not every program will be caught up in this (I may lose it if Duke and Coach K are found to be involved in this garbage), but many many will.

It’s hilarious that some people Tuesday were like “The NCAA didn’t know this was going on?” Of COURSE the NCAA knew this was going on, but they didn’t want to talk about it or investigate it. It’s all just an accepted part of the sport.

It’s going to be ugly. But you know they say disinfectant is the best sunlight, so maybe, just maybe, for a little while things can get a little cleaner. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports has a terrific column explaining all this.

March Madness may look a lot, lot different next year.

**Next up today, on the list of celebrities who’d eventually became health care law crusaders, I’d have put Jimmy Kimmel pretty far down the list a year ago.

But since his newborn son was diagnosed with a heart condition, the late-night host has been sort of thrust into the spotlight, and amazingly, his passion about health care and insurance may have had a small part in sinking the latest horrendous attempt by the GOP-led Senate to repeal ObamaCare.

Since Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said any new health care bill would have to pass “The Jimmy Kimmel test.” Well, the new law fell far short, and for three days last week Kimmel called Cassidy’s bluff and called “bullshit.”

All three monologues were great, but this was the first and I think best one (above).

**And finally, the devastation in Puerto Rico isn’t getting nearly enough attention. While so much of the media talks about anthem protests and private email addresses and that stuff, the people of Puerto Rico (who are Americans, by the way!) are suffering after a devastating storm last week.

There were a ton of great stories and videos if you dig hard enough, but these short video pieces from CBS News correspondent David Begnaud, reporting from the San Juan airport, really hit home for me.

Another Friends of Jaclyn “Angel Walk” makes me so grateful. Federer/Nadal playing doubles together was awesome. And NFL Week 3 was bananas and unpredictable (the Jets even won!)

Sunday was a glorious and sad day, at the same time for me. The day my family and I participate in the Friends of Jaclyn Angel Walk always is.

I’ve written a lot about the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation here, because it is the No.1 charitable cause near and dear to my heart. Pairing up high school and college sports teams with children suffering from pediatric brain tumors and other deadly cancers, FOJ is an incredible beacon of light for thousands of sick children, and for the athletes on teams who adopt them. (All my stories on FOJ’s kids and teams can be found here, if you’re interested.) It is run by wonderful, kind-hearted people who work so hard to make so many lives better.

Every year FOJ holds an “Angel Walk,” to honor those children who have died at some point after being adopted by a team. While thousands of children are thriving and beating cancer, way too many others bravely lost their battle (we’ve lost 144 children overall, since FOJ’s founding. And so every year, teams, athletes, families and others involved in FOJ meet at the Bridge over the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to keep memories alive.

There are speeches given by players and coaches, and by founders Denis and Jaclyn Murphy. We walk across the bridge, bagpipes are played, and at the end of the ceremonies, white doves are released into the sky, as a symbol of those who we lost.

It’s a glorious day because we come together and show our support for so many, for such a good cause. But it’s a sad day because of all we have lost.

My favorite comment every year in a speech came Sunday from a University of Hartford basketball coach named Matt Mihalich, who said “I can’t wait until FOJ becomes obsolete. Because that means there’ll be no more pediatric cancers.”

Amen to that. But while there still is, this beautiful ceremony every year makes me realize how important FOJ’s work is.

**Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have done so many amazing things in their careers; they are two of the 5 or 6 best male players ever, they’ve made more money than small countries take in in a year, and they have absolutely nothing left to prove.

But what they’d never done, not in any real competition, is play doubles together. It’s so unusual to even think about, the two best players of an era teaming up on the same side of the court. Did Borg and McEnroe ever play as a team? Sampras and Agassi? Navratilova and Evert? Nope.

But at a newfangled tennis competition this past weekend called the Laver Cup, Federer and Nadal actually teamed up. The competition is Europe vs. the World, so once again the best rivalry in the sport were oddly on the same team.

And it was … jarring to watch. But so much fun. I knew they were the same height, even with such different body types, but seeing them standing next to each other was great. They made mistakes as a team, seemed to constantly be smiling, and it was just a joy to watch.

Highlights above. Who says tennis season has to end after the U.S. Open?

**After a couple of really drab weeks of NFL football, Sunday was filled with fabulous games, none of which I saw since (see above) I was out all day. But lots to catch up on…

— J-E-T-… wait, what??? They WON? Don’t they realize they’re supposed to tank, go 0-16, and draft No.1? Can’t even do the “losing on purpose” thing right.
No, I’m kidding. I knew they were going to win at least 2-3 games this year, because it’s really really hard to go 0-16. Sunday the Dolphins helpfully decided to roll over and play dead, the Jets defense decided to show up (what, you’re allowed to tackle before the end zone?), and Josh McCown at quarterback actually played pretty damn well. 4-12 here we come, baby!

— The Jets have more wins the Giants. Never thought I’d say that this year. A 61-yard field goal at the buzzer by the Eagles’ rookie kicker, Jake Elliott to win the game?  Crazy.

— Also, Odell Beckham Jr. made ridiculously impressive TD catches for the Giants. Then somehow decided it was a good idea to pantomime a dog peeing in the end zone for one celebration, drawing a flag. So, you know, business as usual for him.

— Go ahead, bet on the NFL: Saints crush Panthers. Bears beat Steelers. Jets dominate Dolphins. Yeah, I’m sure everyone predicted that Sunday morning.

— NFL referees are still horrible. Just thought I’d let you know that. Lions got totally screwed Sunday on that TD at the end of the game, not being called a TD.

— Never underestimate our current President’s ability to make new enemies. During a rambling, mostly incoherent 9o-minute speech in Alabama Friday night, the Orange Grifter managed to piss off both NFL players AND owners, not an easy task. The owners in particular, nearly all of whom are wealthy white men who are Republicans, came out strongly against Trump’s idiotic comments, releasing all kinds of strong statements like this one from Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch.

This is all well and good, these owners making statements condemning Trump. But I guarantee you most of them gave money to the RNC or Trump personally last year; suddenly they are realizing what he is, because he’s attacking football? They didn’t know he was a sexual abusing, racist arrogant a-hole in 2016?
Still, it was good to see some owners standing with their players, and even better to see SO many players either kneeling, or in the Steelers, Titans and Seahawks’ cases, refuse to even come out on the field for the national anthem.

–One more time, for the people who still think, like our President does, that this is about “disrespecting the flag.” It’s not. It’s never been. It’s been about protesting the racial injustices in our society, that see African-Americans and other minorities get the short end of the stick on everything, and white police officers never, ever getting made to pay the price for their deeds. That’s it.d That’s what this is about.

Of course these players love America. They just hate how unequal things are now, not as bad as they’ve ever been of course, but still pretty bad.