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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Secrets on how to fill out that perfect March Madness bracket... but tell no one or every everybody will be doing it.

It takes superior intelli- gence and acumen to fill out that perfect March Madness bracket... but pay attention and I'll show you how some find success.

Every year, my children, grandchildren and pets have a family competition to see who can come closest to perfection and win the coveted
Super Dog Jinx
"Bragging Rights" trophy. Through almost half of the competition, the score stood, Jinx, 1st place, Young Grandson, 2nd, etc. The point is, only the super intelligent and acumen-strong will lead the way.

Oh, they also both picked #16 seed University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBA) to trounce tourney #1 seed Virginia by 20 points, as did two others in this family competition filled with basketball brilliance.

So how did the picks by these superior basketball brains fair
Youngest Grandchild
against the world? Well, my son is in a work bracket with 74 adult basketball nuts and Jinx would have been second, Young Grandson third on that list. Take that Charles Barkley.

So what are the odds of a perfect bracket? The NCAA has them at 9.2 quintillion (18 digits) to 1. A half-court basket at half-time is a 50-1 shot, bowling a perfect game, 11,500-1. Scoring a golfing albatross (3-under par on a hole), 1,000,000-1. Becoming President of the United States, 10,000,000-1. (Oh great. Of 10 million chances, look who won. Shows you luck is often fickle.)

Now check this March Madness bracket conundrum for a King Kong surprise and a few more tips from the top.

My pick for next year's champion: Bradley University, home of Gene 'Squeaky' Melchiorre (of the 1950 NIT and NCAA championships. CCNY won both in NYC with the strong help of biased officiating--no New York team looses in the Garden--and a point-shaving scandal that cost Squeaky, the #1 NBA draft choice, a basketball career), Chet Walker and Hersey Hawkins. (See my blog post on Squeaky, my all-time favorite)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Did Forrest Gump really invent the Smiley Face?

My dad told this joke:

Guy sees a sign on the dry cleaner's window: "What do you think, pants pressed FREE" So the guy goes into the cleaners, takes off his pants in a small changing room and hands them to the cleaner to be pressed.

Minutes later, the cleaner returns his freshly pressed pants and says, "That will be $5." 

"Are you kidding me?" the man asks, "The sign says "What do you think, pants pressed FREE"

Hands on hips, the cleaner indignantly says,"You didn't see question mark? 'What do you think, pants pressed FREE?' Don't be silly."

So what do you think, Forrest Gump actually invented the Smiley Face?

ForrestGump is fictional, silly.

Actually, Harvey Ball did in 1963. The State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Massachusetts asked him to design something to boost the moral of its employees. He was paid $45 and neither he or the company trademarked it. Finally, in 1999, Ball did apply for a trademark and created the World Smile Corporation to license it. All proceeds of the licensing have been used to improve the lives of children.

Ball was never sorry he made only $45 because, his son said, "he was not a money driven guy. He used to say 'Hey, I can only eat one steak at a time, drive one car at a time.'"

Ball died at 79 in 2001 but the philosophy behind the wished well-being has been credited as representing a shift of focus among some psychologists from mental illness to mental health, from depression and anxiety to subjective well-being, says Smithsonian Magazine.

So what do you say, Have A Nice Day... and pass it on!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

TODAY'S RIDDLE: What is black and white and red all over?


Answer: A newspaper!

Ok, ok. I know the riddle is totally wrong for three reasons:
  1. I cheated... the word red should have been spelled read, which would have given it away, but the riddle was meant to be spoken, not written.
  2. Today, newspapers aren't only black and white but filled with color. (The riddle goes way back to my second grade and I laughed that lunchtime I heard it 'till milk came out of my nose.) 
  3. What's a newspaper?
Today, newspapers are disappearing by the hundreds and newspaper circulation and readership is on a downhill slide that quickly becomes 'the new normal' on how we see and learn things.

Most millennials and later-born get their news on line or on television... the news-lite version that is more-to-the-minute but of less substance and range, unless you count the entertainment portion an news one has to know.  It is also less dependable as news because it is mixed with every opinion on everything from everyone on social media... most of which is believed without doubt if it fits your personal 'bent.'

Social media didn't invent 'fake news' but it did perfect its widespread dissemination.

This past week, a New York Times technology writer's story, "For Two Months, I Got My News From Print Papers. Here's What I Learned," painted a most interesting picture of what happens when newspapers fall out of our life-view.

No, this is not a call to go back to newspapers, though that would certainly improve news credibility. We have passed that point in our technology-enhanced existence. But yes, newspapers still play a vital role if only as bell-weathers of the news basics with the five 'Ws' and an 'H' (Who, What, Why When, Where and How) of substance.

With the proven realization that fake news spreads faster than real news--usually, it is more spectacular or surprisingly hard to believe, yet believed and spread by a 3 to 1 ratio on social media with a tap of the finger--all news becomes suspiciously less credible.

We create the world we live in and yet, we are the ones who don't take out the garbage that comes with it. As our president might tweet: "SAD!"

NEXT: How easily fake news is created. A primer you will recognize.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Life's funny that way...

Pay Attention. Your personal humor IQ test follows.

In his scholarly book (yes, scholarly, thus by definition, unfunny) Sex, Aggression and Humour: Responses to Unicycling, Sam Shuster tries to dissect what makes us laugh by age and gender. So take your average unicyclist and look at all the ways this is seen... with no mention of a pie in the face at any time. For example:

A father to son about 3 years old. "Look, he's only got one wheels... wonder what happened to the other wheel.
Inquisitive 5 to 12 year old: "Why do you use only one wheel?"
Aggressive boys: "You're gonna to fall off... you're gonna fall off."
Women: "Wonderful... I'm impressed."
 Men: "Lost your wheel?"
etc., etc.

Shuster did identify something... that defining humour (as he spells it) and what may make us laugh is a varied and complex thing.

Plato, Aristotle and Descartes also had very unfunny takes on it and Freud felt forbidden things are hilarious because humor is a pressure release for psychic energy.

But in the end, what is funny to one very likely is not funny to most... one size does not fit all.

Incongruity seems to be a more-common-to-all humor thing and incongruity itself adds another variable to the mix... unless it is followed on social media by lol, then it is funny... or we just didn't get it.


Read these short paragraphs from an actual newspaper contest where entrants, age 4 to 15,  were asked to imitate "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey, a former Saturday Night Live writer of years back and tell me you didn't laugh or smile more than once.

I gaze at the brilliant full moon. The same one, I think to myself, at which Socrates, Aristotle and Plato gazed. Suddenly, I imagine they appear beside me. I tell Socrates about the national debate over one's right to die and wonder at the constancy of the human condition. I tell Plato that I live in the country that has come the closest to Utopia and I show him a copy of the Constitution. I tell Aristotle that we have found many more than the four  basic elements and I show him a periodic table. I get a box of kitchen matches and strike one. They gasp with wonder. We spend the rest of the night lighting farts. (Age 15)

Give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot, and a great big bag of money. (Age 13)

I bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween. (Age 13)

For centuries, people thought the moon was made of green cheese. Then the astronauts found that the moon is really a big hard rock. That's what happens to cheese when you leave it out. (Age 6)

I once heard the voice of God. He said "Vroommm." Unless it was just a lawn mower. (Age l1)

If we could just get everyone to close their eyes and visualize world peace for an hour, imagine how serene and quiet it would be until the looting started. (Age 15)

It sure would be nice if we got a day off for the presidents' birthdays, like they do for the queen's. Of course, then we would have a lot of people voting for a candidate born on July 3rd or December 26th, just for the long weekends. (Age 8)

Answer key: If you laughed or smiled at some of these, you probably passed and are "life-ready." If you didn't, then be an actuary. (Oops, sorry all my actuary friends, I meant be an accountant.)

You know, I want these kids in my world because if you can't see humor, it's a tougher life for you and those you touch.

As the real Jack Haney explains, "Maybe to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: 'Mankind.' Basically, it's made up of two separate words, mank and ind. What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind."