All too often, our flesh cocoons can feel like vessels of anxiety and existential dread. But take heart, because new research confirms what science popularizers like Carl Sagan have said all along: humans truly are made of “star stuff”—and we’ve got maps to prove it.
You are here most likely because you, long ago, for no good reason, made a conscious decision to root for the most inept professional sports franchise in America.
I made that same decision, about 35 years ago. I was just a punk kid rooting for his dad’s favorite baseball team. But over the years, I never changed my mind. I never abandoned them even when they gave me almost no good reason to stick around. It just seemed wrong to pick a new team. And over the years we got to see a few pretty good teams.
The 1984 team with Ryne Sandberg’s incredible season, Rick Sutcliffe’s 16-1 run, and Gary Matthews’ inability to catch a flyball in left.
The 1989 Cubs who until last year had been my favorite Cubs team of all-time with Greggie and The Hawk, and Shawon and Lester Lancaster.
We had the Sammy Sosa years where we suspended disbelief that anything was wrong about how he’d swollen into a mini-Hulk.
Then the near-miss in 2003.
Lou Piniella brought us back to back division titles, but no playoff wins.
Then last year when we at last felt some confidence that we were witnessing the start of something, not just a single season catch of lightning in a bottle.
But that was it. How was that ever enough for us to stick it out? Maybe it was the fear that we’d bail just before they somehow won something? Maybe we’re just gluttons for punishment? Whatever it is, here we are. They are still the Cubs, and we’re still here.
And the next win brings a division championship, and the Cubs will enter the playoffs as the prohibitive favorite. You can parse it a million different ways. You can convince yourself that it’s really, finally going to happen. You can just as easily convince yourself that they are doomed. But there’s plenty of time for all that between now and October.
What we need to do right now is take a step back and marvel at how much our belligerent refusal to give up on them has paid off. Against all reason and against all common sense, we stuck with them through all of the crap. They made us mad, they frustrated us, they occasionally teased us, but mostly they disappointed us. We should have abandoned them long ago.
But we didn’t. With no evidence to support it, we stuck around to see if it would ever change.
And now, we root for the best team in baseball.
We finally get to root for the team with the fun young talent. We are the ones who get to marvel at seeing baseball played confidently and competently day in and day out. Our favorite team is the one who actually knows how to run the bases, to field their position and to properly execute a pitching game plan.
For the first time ever, fans of other teams look at the Cubs—“our” Cubs and wish they had a team like that to root for.
A lot will be written and said about how the best team doesn’t really survive the current iteration of baseball playoffs. Teams built for success in the regular season aren’t necessarily the best equipped for the postseason. That won’t be wrong.
But let me ask you this. Is there any other team you’d want to take to the playoffs?
For the first time in our lifetimes (and our parents’ lifetimes, and depending how old you are, maybe even your grandparents’ lifetimes) the Cubs winning a World Series seems like a matter of when and not if.
Oh, we want it to be this year. Why not? They are the best team and we’re tired of waiting. But if not this year, it’s coming.
Kris Bryant is the best player in the National League.
He’s getting better.
Addison Russell is on a rocket ship to stardom.
He’s getting better.
Kyle Schwarber has only played three games this season.
He’s getting better. In more ways than one.
Willson Contreras is already better than anybody with his amount of experience at catcher has any right to be.
He’s getting better.
Anthony Rizzo is the grizzled vet at 27. He’s the rock all of this has been built upon.
Kyle Hendricks doesn’t look like much. But neither does the opponents’ offense when he’s done with them.
You need three good starting pitchers and three good bullpen arms to have a chance in October. The Cubs are overqualified on both counts.
They are the best defensive team in baseball. Javy Baez and Jason Heyward are not exceptions on this team. They are surrounded by guys making plays.
It has been a joy to watch this team continue to grow, day in and day out. The Cubs are appointment viewing again this year.
You will hear over and over again something I’ve already addressed here. About how the playoffs are a crapshoot blah, blah, blah. It’s all in a attempt to keep you from getting your hopes up too high.
Get them up.
Ride the wave.
These seasons don’t come along that often. We, more than anyone, know that.
We, finally, root for a great team. They are the envy of baseball.
Luxuriate in it.
Drop your pants and roll in it.
It won’t make it any more crushing if they lose. Nothing will.
Drop your guard.
Get your hopes up.
Expect them to win.
I know that seems insane. But we’re Cubs fans.
Who is more qualified than we are to embrace the insanity?
Hovertext: If this doesn't get some hatemail, well I guess I feel like you people aren't even trying.
Starman, E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind. They’re all films that director Jeff Nichols cites as influences for his upcoming sci-fi film Midnight Special. And you can see that Eighties/Steven Spielberg influence both in the first image and poster released from the film.
"We have a name for locking people up and forcing them to do real work without wages. It's called slavery."
So says Carl Takei, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project, speaking of the privately run detention centers for undocumented immigrants who're facing deportation. These centers are not meant to be punitive, and many of the people in them will have their immigration claims upheld.
But they're run like private prisons, complete with solitary confinement for non-compliance, including non-compliance with orders to do hard physical labor for $1-3/day. The forced labor has already killed at least one worker, who was ordered the jackhammer the ground over a buried power cable and received a lethal shock.
In these detention centers, the captive audience of detainees may only purchase goods from a high-markup commissary that charges 200% to 700% more than nearby stores. For parents who want to give their imprisoned children a small treat -- a $4 bag of chips, say -- the dollar-a-day labor is the only way. Thus it is that the corporations and police departments who run these centers (the notoriously corrupt LA Sheriff's office operates some under contract) can punish their victims both by forcing them to work and forbidding them from working.
The major player in the corruption scandals here is the Geo Group, America's second-largest private prison operator. Systemwide, the "voluntary labor" program for detained migrants saves an estimated $2 billion annually: or, put another way, detained migrants in America are deprived of at least $2 billion in wages every year.
She pointed to the case of Cesar Gonzalez, 36, of Pomona, who was working with a jackhammer while detained at the Mira Loma Detention Center in Lancaster in 2007. He struck a power line, was electrocuted, suffered burns and a heart attack and later died, according to Cal OSHA records.
Gonzalez's wife sued Los Angeles County and the sheriff's office, which contracted with ICE to run the detention center. She received a $750,000 settlement in 2012. Cal OSHA described the immigrant as an employee and faulted the detention center for what happened, fining it $18,750.
“As long as they find people doing that work are covered by Cal OSHA, how is it the position of these private companies and ICE that everybody else doing similar work isn't covered?” Stevens said.
Critics also accuse the for-profit prison companies that run the detention centers of using work as leverage to control detainees.
In April, Cruz and two other detainees filed a federal lawsuit in San Antonio against Geo Group and Homeland Security, alleging they lost their jobs because they staged hunger strikes and work stoppages to demand improved conditions at the Karnes City center.
“As soon as we had the first hunger strike, they took away my work,” said Cruz, who was released in June and now lives with her son in Los Angeles. “They told me it was because I was the leader.”
Taking away immigrants’ jobs at detention centers “is a frequent form of punishment and is pretty potent,” said Free, the Nashville lawyer.
Paid $1 to $3 a day, unauthorized immigrants keep family detention centers running [Molly Hennessy-Fiske/LA Times]
The US Senate voted 50-49 to reject "the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change, days after NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2014 the hottest year ever recorded on Earth."
A panel of judges from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the NSA's mass phone-record collection program was not authorized by Congress in the Patriot Act. Read the rest
The latest update to Kahoot, one that I failed to share a few weeks ago when it came out, enables you to save the results of a Kahoot in your Google Drive account. When you have completed a Kahoot activity simply go to the results screen and click the Google Drive icon to save the results. You can still download your results as a PDF if you prefer that option.
This post originally appeared on Free Technology for Teachers if you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission.
Star Trek's Captain Jean-Luc Picard: “Make it So,” sung to the tune of the Christmas carol “Let it Snow”
It's no secret that many apps are terrible for your phone's performance. If you want to know which ones are the worst, take a look at this study from AVG, which highlights the Android apps that drain your battery most, take up the most storage space, and use up the most data.
Take a second to hold down the "S" key and right-click on any image on the web. Whoa, right?