Saturday, June 30, 2012

Weekend Zen, June 30 - July 1

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

                     - Maya Angelou

Friday, June 29, 2012

Obama Demonstrates Bold Leadership On Complex Issues

Photo: Chip Somodevilla
Getty Images
This week's Supreme Court decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) marked a major victory in President Obama's courageous fight to revise the broken healthcare system in America.

While the ACA may be both Obama's signature achievement and his achilles heel, there is no denying its boldness.

The President’s attack on the lobbyist-dominated monstrosity that is the American healthcare system showed enormous mettle. Regardless of what one thinks of Obamacare, it should be noted that no other president has been able to muster the know-how, the political muscle, and the intestinal fortitude to successfully pass legislation to overhaul our broken healthcare system.

Obamacare is not the only recent example of the President's willingness to take a stand and lead America forward. 

Two weeks ago, in a statement delivered from the White House Rose Garden, the President declared the United States will no longer pursue deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children.

Conservative pundits questioned the President’s motives in making the election-year policy change, while Republican Congressional leaders had relatively little to say on the issue, partly in deference to Mitt Romney, who continues to take a nuanced non-position on the announced changes.

Why would the President take the politically risky step of allowing some illegal immigrant children to stay in the U.S.?

Daily Zen - Friday, June 29

Laughing is good exercise. It's like jogging on the inside.

                       - Kurt Vonnegut

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Top Tweets About CNN's Supreme Court Gaffe

The incorrect CNN web headline
Scooping the competition has long been a top priority for print news media, but in the bizarre world of 24-hour television news, the pressure to get the story first has reached new heights. 

That explains, in part, why CNN jumped the gun this morning, and after misinterpreting some of Chief Justice John Robert's comments, incorrectly reported online and on-air that the Supreme Court had "struck down the centerpiece" of the Affordable Care Act.

In its defense, CNN wasn't the only news outlet to temporarily flub the story. Fox, HuffPo, NPR, and Time also initially stated incorrectly that the healthcare legislation had been declared unconstitutional.

I suppose one big takeaway here is that everyone, and especially those charged with reporting the news, should listen more carefully to the totality of a message before commenting or sharing it. 

The other big takeaway? Tons of really clever Tweets about fake news stories with the hashtag #CNNHeadlines. Here are some of my favorites.

Daily Zen - Thursday, June 28

No need to resist life, just do your best. 

                       - Dan Millman

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Turn Style: The Earth From Above

I loved the beautiful satellite images of the Earth in this clip, but the music is what motivated me to share it. An English band called The XX provides the score for the video. I know the song has been pretty widely used, but I don't remember where. Anyway, very relaxing stuff. Enjoy.

Dead Man's Bet and Federer Win At Wimbledon Will Earn $155K For Charity

Fed at Wimbledon 2012
Photo: Tim Hales / AP
Back in 2003 a British gambler wagered nearly $2500 that Roger Federer would win seven Wimbledon Championships by the year 2019.

Nick Newlife, who placed his bet at 66:1 odds, stood to win $155,000 if the Swiss tennis player could match Pete Sampras' record seven Wimbledon singles titles.

Nine years later, the wager is still in play as Federer, who has now won the Wimbledon championship six times, is in hot pursuit of his seventh title. Newlife, however, will not collect his winnings, even if Federer wins. Newlife died in 2009. 

Before his death, the British gambler and bachelor stipulated in his will that any earnings from the wager be donated to Oxfam, an international charity which fights poverty and works to ensure basic human rights for people of all nations.

It's not likely that the wager is motivating Federer's stellar early round play, but it certainly gives me one one more reason to pull for the all-time tennis great.

Daily Zen - Wednesday, June 27


I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university. 

                        - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Turn of Phrase - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Is Pissing Me Off

"They want chaos. They want a larger voting base as far as I’m concerned and they want the illegal immigration to continue. 

Now they’ll have all the illegals and they can all do whatever they want and register to vote. Although it’s illegal if you’re not a citizen to register. But they’re not enforcing the law so what is going to happen to them? He’s looking for votes."

- From Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, in remarks she made about President Obama on the same day the Supreme Court struck down three of the four provisions of Arizona's contentious immigration legislation (SB1070). Incidentally, the Court upheld the most controversial element of the law, the "show me your papers" component.

Is it just me or has Governor Brewer become more brazen in her blatantly disrespectful treatment of Barack Obama, the duly elected President of these United States? 

Remember this picture of Brewer wagging her finger in President Obama's face like he's a little league umpire who just called her kid out on strikes?

Brewer attempting to call down the President
on the tarmac during his visit to Arizona.
Photo: AP

Civility and graciousness in political discussions should be a universal goal, and between elected professionals who must work together to govern our nation, it should be mandatory. 

That is not to say that Bill Maher who is a comedian, not a politician, can't say mean funny things about Sarah Palin, or that Rush Limbaugh, who is a rhetorical masturbator - but not a politician, can't give a clever nickname to Nancy Pelosi. 

Elected politicians, though, should be more thoughtful in choosing their words, particularly those governors who are prone to running off at the mouth and making public allegations that imply illegal activity on the part of other politicians - and especially, when the other politician holds the title PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Governor Brewer's repeated disrespect for President Obama really pushes my buttons - but I feel that may be obvious by now?

As I said though, we should all strive to be more tactful and courteous in our political discourse. That's why I decided on the headline above, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Is Pissing Me Off, instead of these alternate titles that I briefly considered for this post, but ultimately rejected. 

Jan Brewer - Who the Fuck Do You Think You Are?

Would Someone Please Have Sex With Arizona Governor Jan Brewer?

Governor Jan Brewer - Disrespecting President Obama Almost As Much As She Disrespects Hispanic-Americans

Sorry Arizona, I Guess Stupid Bitchville Already Had a Governor

Hey Asshole, Even Fox News Is Starting to Think You're an Idiot (see)

I don't know, those seem kind of harsh, but in retrospect, I'm still not sure I chose the best headline.

Daily Zen - Tuesday, June 26

Each man had only one genuine vocation - to find the way to himself. Everything else was only a would-be existence, an attempt at evasion. 

                       - Herman Hesse

Monday, June 25, 2012

Star Trek - Gaseous Anomalies

Fart humor is so sophomoric. Consider me a sophomore.

Turn It Up - MJ's Never Can Say Goodbye

Michael Jackson died three years ago today, leaving behind an unparalleled trail of music, images, and controversy.

But, forget the glove, the moonwalk, the chimpanzee, and look past the skin, the nose, and the pomade hair.

Move beyond the ranch, the trial, and the prescription pills, and silence the hype, the drama, and the media circus.

When everything else falls away, there was just a boy and his powerful voice.

Daily Zen - Monday, June 25

This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it's with us wherever we are.
                      - Pema Chodron

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Week In Review - June 23, 2012

President Obama showed leadership and heart this week by issuing an executive order that protects young illegal immigrants, those who were brought into the U.S. as children, from the threat of deportation. Mitt Romney attempted to rebut the President’s decision, but then remembered he is incapable of taking specific policy positions on sensitive issues.

In sports, we watched clips of "bad boys" in various sports showing their underwear, injuring officials, and elbowing opponents in the head, and then compared the fines and penalties levied against them. Oscar-nominated actor Gary Oldman weighed in on celebrity sports figures with a hilarious video rant against the athlete-turned-actor trend.

We relished ESPN’s upcoming coverage of Wimbledon, and offered NBC a sympathetic middle finger for losing the contract. We featured some unique casual photos of top Wimbledon hopefuls, and shared links to both the Gentlemen’s and Ladies Wimbledon draws.

In pop culture, we explored the science of Slinky by watching what happens when the toy is dropped from a multi story building. Lastly, we laughed and empathized with a clever musical plea to Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin to hurry up and write, and we celebrated Paul McCartney's 70th birthday by listing the "top 10 reasons" to watch the Silly Love Songs video.

As always, thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

George R.R. Martin - Please Write Like the Wind

Fans of Game Of Thrones (the HBO series or the books) will love this, as will anyone who has ever impatiently waited for the next installment of their favorite book / movie / TV show.

The song is clever and the harmony is surprisingly pleasant, but the lyrics alone are worth the listen.

Weekend Zen, June 23-24

Guard your tongue, for it is highly dangerous; unguarded words can cause terrible distress.

                        - Valluvar

Friday, June 22, 2012

Turn of Phrase - Romney's Pathetic Non-Answer On Immigration

Romney at Hispanic Leadership
Network lunch on Friday
Photo: Charles Dharapak /AP
"Some people have asked if I will let stand the president's executive action. 

The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president's temporary measure. 

As president, I won't settle for a stop-gap measure. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to find a long-term solution."

- From Mitt Romney, in response to President Obama's bold unilateral decision to change to U.S. immigration policy. Last Friday, the President issued an executive order stating the U.S. would no longer pursue deportation of young illegal immigrants who were brought into the country as children.

No one expects Romney to solve anything - he's a candidate, not the President. Nonetheless, his empty rhetoric and vague promises continue to disappoint. Dude, just tell us what you think!

Romney's address to the Hispanic Leadership Network today in Florida provided him with the perfect opportunity to rebut Obama's action and outline specifics of his own plan for addressing the immigration challenge (and if he has no plan, he could still give Americans some idea of what he thinks would be fair).

Instead, Romney gives us more waffly non-answers and another mouthful of partisan criticism of President Obama, who at least took a substantive policy position, decided on important first steps, and implemented them.

Did you read about Romney's new economic approach?

Tennis Extra - Wimbledon Pics and 2012 Draws

Singles draws were released today for both the Men's and Ladies' competition at Wimbledon that begins Monday at the All England Club.

Here are a few unique photos I found to get you in the mood for two of the best tennis weeks of the year. Click any pic to enlarge.

Welcome to Wimbledon
Photo: Clive Rose / Getty Images Europe

Under London summer skies
Photo: Dan Istitene / Getty Images Europe

Painting the lines
Photo: Wimbledon / Facebook Page

Novak Djokovic and team - returning to a steady grass diet
Photo: Nole / Twitter Feed

Wax figure of Rafael Nadal. Really.
Photo: Madame Tussaud's / London

Roger Federer shopping in London
Photo: Pool / Getty Images

British #1 Andy Murray, trying to relax on the grounds
Photo: Tom Dulat / Getty Images Europe

American #1 John Isner, at end of his epic three-day 2010
match. Note the scoreboard (he won 70-68 in the fifth set).
Photo: Pool / Getty Images

Daily Zen - Friday, June 22

Hope and fear cannot alter the seasons.

                     - Chogyam Trungpa

Thursday, June 21, 2012

ESPN's Live Wimbledon Coverage Starts On Monday (And NBC Can Suck It)

I respect NBC's coverage of professional tennis exactly as much as NBC respects tennis fans - which is to say, very little.

Consequently, it was with great joy that I read how ESPN will take over complete Wimbledon coverage this year, and how the network is fully committed to broadcasting live matches.

The most recent trouble between tennis fans and NBC Sports started last summer when the network opted to show a couple of important tennis matches from major tournaments on a several hour tape delay. Avid tennis watchers raised a big stink about the shoddy network coverage (inasmuch as fans of a relatively minor sport can raise a big stink), and moved on, hoping that NBC and tournament executives had learned their lessons.

Sadly, NBC's coverage of last month's French Open served only to prove that the clamor of angry fans mattered little. During the Open, which is one of the four "major" events in tennis, NBC once again dropped the ball repeatedly, disappointing tennis fans by either cutting coverage short or broadcasting critical matches on tape delay.

First, NBC interrupted the very end of a significant ladies match upset-in-the-making (Kanepi vs Wozniacki at 5-2 in the third set) because the broadcast reached the end of its allotted coverage time. Imagine - a network cutting away from a playoff baseball game in the top of the 9th because it was time for Judge Joe Brown (who I'm sure is a competent jurist, but come on, it can wait).

Gary Oldman Takes On Athlete-Actors

Did you ever see Kazaam starring legendary NBA center Shaquille O'Neal? Apparently, Oscar-nominated actor Gary Oldman did and he's still pissed.

Daily Zen - Thursday, June 21

To be extremely self-centered, only interested in your own satisfaction, always brings negative consequences in the long run.
                           - Dalai Lama

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Science of the Slinky In Slow Motion

When a fully extended slinky is dropped off a building, the bottom of the slinky doesn't actually start to fall until the top of the slinky catches up with it.

What is responsible for this seeming defiance of gravity? Hell if I know, but there's some physics involved and the slow-motion video is fascinating to watch.

Daily Zen - Wednesday, June 20

Avoiding problems you need to face, is avoiding the life you need to live. 
                     - Paulo Coelho

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

President Obama's Immigration Reform - The Right Thing To Do

Sergio Baron, 17 of Elizabeth, NJ
and his siblings, beneficiaries of
the new immigration policy.
Photo: Tim Farrell / Star Ledger
Last Friday President Obama announced an executive order that will, at least temporarily, significantly shift American immigration policy and make daily living much less stressful for nearly one million young illegal immigrants living in the U.S.

According to the President's order, his administration will cease deporting and begin granting work permits to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, and who have since followed our nation's laws.

The new rules, which impact approximately 800,000 "foreign nationals" living in America, apply specifically to undocumented immigrants who are under 30 years of age, and who were brought to the U.S. prior to their 16th birthday. Immigrants must also be either currently enrolled in school, high school graduates, or members of the armed services, in order to be exempt from deportation.

In his explanation for the policy change, President Obama put a human face on the immigration issue, noting that the children of illegal immigrants "study in our schools, play in our neighborhoods, befriend our kids, pledge allegiance to our flag. It makes no sense to expel talented young people who are, for all intents and purposes, Americans."

The poignant short video below, Illegal by John X. Carey, illustrates the need for immigration reform, particularly as it relates to children, by showing the real life challenges a group of talented young immigrants face in the U.S., even though they don't remember life before America. Do yourself a favor, and watch.

Daily Zen - Tuesday, June 19

In the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.

                       - Jack Kerouac

Monday, June 18, 2012

Soccer Star Fined $126K For Underwear Flash, Latest In Series of Sports Misconduct Issues

Danish soccer star Nicklas Bendtner
In the most recent in a string of unsportsmanlike conduct issues to befall professional sports, the UEFA, governing body of European football, has fined Danish player Nicklas Bendtner $126,000 for flashing the name of an unauthorized sponsor on the waistband of his underwear after scoring a goal. Bendtner also received a one match suspension.

Paddy Power, the Irish gambling company whose logo appeared on Bendtner's underwear, is not an official sponsor of the championship.

There is some debate and controversy over the severity of the punishment. Critics of the UEFA decision note that teams whose fans displayed banners with racially abusive language were fined far less than half of Bendtner's penalty.

I don't follow European football, but certainly the harshness of sports fines should correspond to the egregiousness of the infraction, as well as to the player's salary. Consider these recent incidents of misconduct in other sports, both of which are far more serious than showing one's boxers.

This past weekend, in the normally genteel world of tennis, Argentine player David Nalbandian kicked an on-court advertising placard in anger and injured a linesman, drawing blood from the official's shin. For his swift angry kick, Nalbandian was disqualified from the championship match (which he was winning), forced to forfeit $57,000 in prize money, and fined $12,500.

In the more typically violent (and far richer) NBA, Metta World Peace's flagrant elbow to the head of James Harden in April cost him a 7-game suspension and about $348,000 in lost salary.

Not sure what's going on in the sporting world, but perhaps professional athletes need to be reminded of several common childhood lessons.

1. Keep your pants on.
2. Don't break anything that's not yours.
3. Keep your elbows to yourself.

Turn It Up - Happy Birthday Paul McCartney

Sir Paul McCartney turns 70 today.

Hard to believe it's been more than fifty years since Paul and John started the Beatles. I enjoy their music enough, but what brings memories of my early 1970s childhood crashing back are the songs of Paul McCartney & Wings.

In recognition of Paul's birthday today, I hope you'll accept this gift I've made you.

10 Reasons To Watch the "Silly Love Songs" Video All The Way Through
  1. Young Paul was kind of a hottie.
  2. There aren't enough horns and strings in today's pop music.
  3. You've forgotten how airports looked in the 70s.
  4. Hella big afros.
  5. You need a good excuse to tap your feet for five and a half minutes.
  6. You miss the David Cassidy rocker-mullet (in men's and ladies' styles).
  7. You feel sorry for poor Paul and hope viewing this adds to his royalties.
  8. Good harmony is so hard to come by these days.
  9. Work blows; this is better.
  10. Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs.                          (and what's wrong with that)

Daily Zen - Monday, June 18

Acquire a firm will and the utmost patience.

               - Anandamayi Ma

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Week In Review - June 16, 2012

Did you hear Jeb Bush’s candid comments about dysfunctional government? I did, and I actually agree with most of what he said. President Obama was less candid in remarks he addressed to attendees of the Radio and TV Commentators Dinner – which is why we need Luther, Obama’s (hilarious) anger translator.

There was “Giant” news in sports this week, as San Francisco pitcher Matt Cain hurled only the 22nd perfect game ever thanks to some amazing catches. While Cain was making baseball history, new doping allegations against cycling’s Lance Armstrong once again threaten to alter the history of that sport. In basketball, the OKC Thunder and the Miami Heat began their NBA finals series, and I identified the selfish pronouns that will send LeBron and the Heat home empty-handed for the second straight year.

Most people were surprised by the revelation that HBO's Game of Thrones used the image of President Bush’s severed head on a spike. Meanwhile, only Kenneth from 30 Rock was shocked by the shoddy treatment he received at the legendarily hostile Wiener’s Circle hot dog stand in Chicago. We laughed until our tummies ached when Triumph the Insult Comic Dog came to his rescue. Just watch the insult-a-thon and enjoy (unless a lot of f*cking bleeping offends you).

We ended Mel Brooks “Zen” week with a slightly less than philosophical Mel-as-Moses moment from History of the World Part 1. Thanks to everyone who voted in the “featured zen contributor” contest. If I could, I would reward each of you with one of these frozen treats.

This week we reached a milestone 40,000 page views on The Way Things Turn. As always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mel Brooks - Video Zen, June 16-17

We close out our "featured zen contributor" week with a bit of video zen. Finding a week's worth of philosophical Mel Brooks quotes has been a challenge, but I think this bit of Mel's wisdom is an appropriate way to wrap things up. Enjoy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kenneth From 30 Rock and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog Visit Hostile Wiener Stand

There's a headline you don't get to write every day.

Chicago's Wiener's Circle is one of those gimmicky food establishments where the staff adds "entertainment" value to your dining experience by treating patrons to a giant helping of rudeness and sarcasm. Judging from the video clip below, the Wiener's Circle scheduled its most talented team members the night Conan O'Brien taped a segment there.

This is one of those clips that will have you laughing out loud, gasping and covering your mouth, and clapping your hands in approval. And if they didn't have to bleep so much for television, it would have been even better.

You probably guessed this video is NSFW - Not Safe For Work (unless you work someplace really cool, or at home in your pjs, like me).

Daily Zen - Friday, June 15

Mel Brooks
Featured Zen Contributor

I really don't want to wax philosophic, but I will say that if you're alive, you got to flap your arms and legs, you got to jump around a lot, you got to make a lot of noise, because life is the very opposite of death.

                           - Mel Brooks

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Game of Thrones Puts Bush's Head On a Spike

Prop head of President GW Bush,
with medieval wig/hairdo.
If you watched season one of HBO's Game of Thrones, then you looked on in horror as the bastardly and scathingly cruel King Joffrey forced his bride-to-be to gaze upon the severed and staked head of her father.

What you probably didn't notice was the decapitated head of former President George W. Bush a few spikes over.

The shows creators, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, pointed out the appearance of the presidential prop on the commentary portion of the Game of Thrones DVD.

You can see the short clip here where the image of Bush's head makes its acting debut, and you'll hear Benioff deny any political motivation for the use of the former president's likeness. Explained Benioff, with so many beheaded characters in the episode, "we had to use what heads we had around." Riiiight.

Daily Zen - Thursday, June 14

Mel Brooks
Featured Zen Contributor

Life literally abounds in comedy if you just look around you.

                           - Mel Brooks

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Highlights From Matt Cain's Perfect Game

Matt Cain - Celebrating his perfect game vs the Houston Astros
Photo: Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

On Wednesday night, San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain hurled the 22nd perfect game in major league baseball history. No hits, no walks, no errors. In the historic pitching outing against the Houston Astros, Cain also tied the record for most strikeouts (14) in a no-hit baseball game.

Of course, baseball is a team sport, and while a perfect game requires remarkable pitching, it also takes some damned impressive fielding. The pressure builds on the team's defense as the game progresses, but the Giants' stepped up to the challenge. Melky Cabrera snagged a deep drive at the wall in the 6th inning, and in the top of the 7th, Gregor Blanco sprinted into centerfield to make a spectacular diving catch that kept Cain's perfect game in tact.

You can see the highlights from Cain's perfect game here, including the phenomenal plays of Cabrera and Blanco. Let the video play, and you'll also see the final pitch of the game, which resulted in a tough grounder to Joaquin Arias at third base and his tension-filled throw to first that ended the game. 

Congrats to Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants on the first perfect game in the team's 130-year history.