Bob’s 2014 Year in Music

Hey people!  Despite what Facebook told you, 2014 sucked ass in a lot of different ways.  Particularly if you were black or are against using torture in an unjustified war.  I had actually written something about how Facebook’s attempt to structure our collective memory as a series of individual successes is a dirty tactic used by those in power to distract us from the myriad failures that we’ve had as a culture and country.  But honestly, it was too depressing, even for me.1  The good news is that 2014 was a pretty good year for music!  One of my favorite things to do after Christmas is take a deep dive into the albums that I spent the most time with in 2014 and try to come up with a top 10 list.  It was tough to come up with a top 10 list since there was a lot of exciting and new stuff that came out this year.  I actually probably spent more time on this than I ever have in previous years, which is why I didn’t finish this until after the actual new year.  Anyways, here is my usual disclaimer – this will probably be most interesting to those people who really are into music.  If you just listen to radio or just listen to music as background music, which there is nothing wrong with, then chances are you’ve probably not even heard of half the people on the list and that’s totally ok.  This is purely a navel gazing exercise for myself and my list is no more valid than yours.2  If anything, I just really like sharing music with people and you can consider this my mixtape gift to you.  Anyways, happy new year and let’s hope that 2015 is as good as 2014 was musically.

Before we get started, let’s talk about some other interesting releases of 2014 that didn’t make my top 10 list.

Seriously, aren’t all of these artists kinduva the same thing?  Why do the critics want me to think these are great albums when they all sound mopey and boring and completely devoid of any musicality? 

  • St. Vincent – St. Vincent: She’s kinda the queen of this type of white female song writer that the more pretentious critics love fawning over in an attempt to appear progressive on the gender front.3 Never mind that these artists all kind fit the indie version of the manic-pixie-dreamgirl archetype, with one big difference……their music is BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRIIIINGGGGGGG.  But at least this album has some electric guitars unlike the next two…
  • Sharon Van Etten – Are We There?: Seriously, would it kill these women to write one catchy melody?
  • Angel Olson – Burn Your Fire for No Witness: Would it also kill them to shell out a little more money for some quality microphones so I don’t have to hear how breathy their voices are?

Fits into previous categorization but also has the distinction of being the worst album of 2014

  • Lana Del Ray – Ultraviolence: If you think about it, Lana Del Ray and Iggy Azalea are two sides of the same coin.

Not the worst album per se (although it is pretty bad) but definitely the most disappointing album of the year, a.k.a. the when our heroes let us down award


Albums that I don’t know what to do with because sometimes they sound pretty kickass to me but other times I check out pretty quickly

  • Alt J – This is all Yours: I feel like I should like this album in the same way that I feel like I should like Sufjan Stephens.  But I don’t because it just sounds like a bunch of people who were band dorks in high school and then even though they probably should have been classical musicians, they ended up trying to make pop music.  There are some interesting ideas on here, but it never really comes together for me.
  • TV on the Radio – Seeds: On the one hand, this is their most accessible album.  On the other hand, it sounds like they made a conscious effort to be more radio friendly and the results are kinda bland.  This album doesn’t annoy me,  but I almost think that they’re better when they’re being pretentious if that makes any sense.  Kinda like yours truly.

Really good albums, but I took points off for being the exactly the same as another album that they put out:

  • Beck – Morning Phase.  Seriously, how is this different from Sea Change?  Seriously, the opening tracks for both albums even use the same chords.
  • tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack. Still eminently enjoyable but not much of a departure from the last album, W H O K I L L.  I also took off points for the stupid aLtErNaTiNg CaPs thing.

Albums that weren’t released in 2014 but I got into them in a big way this year

  • The National – Trouble Will Find Me: I really really really regret not including this on my top 10 list from last year.  In retrospect, the inclusion of that Chvrcvhes album on that list seems pretty silly.
  • Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac: I know everyone thinks that Rumours is their best album, but I think that what people really like was the back story of Rumours.  The whole personal turmoil leads to superior art just makes more sense to us sometimes.  But really if you think about it, wouldn’t it make more sense if good art, especially for a rock band, happens when everyone is in tune with each other?  I think that song for song, Fleetwood Mac has catchier melodies, better lyrics, and is more cohesive as a song cycle.

Album that I spent a good part of the year liking and was going to put on my top 10 list until I realized the album sounded like the Freddy Jones Band/the BoDeans/Hootie and the Blowfish and other shitty Country-Rock bands that I thought I liked in college

  • Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams: I hate it when I ruin albums for myself.

Album that in an alternate universe I place as my favorite album of 2014

  • Taylor Swift – 1989: I may have converted to team T-Swizzle this year, but I’m still not brave enough to put this on my top 10 list.  I don’t deserve her.

Albums that probably could have made it into my top 10 but my objectivity is compromised by the fact that I want to make babies with the artist/certain members of the band

  • Lake Street Dive – Bad Self Portraits



Jenny Lewis – The Voyager


The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

I’m not going to lie, I’m very turned on thinking about Neko Case right now.

My favorite single of 2014

  • Teenage Wasteland – Wussy: I considered putting Attica!, the album that this song is from on my top 10 list on just the strength of this one song.  If you want to really know who I am as a person, know that this song about discovering the music of the Who very often reduces me to tears.4

Album released in December that I kinda feel like I can’t include on this list since I really haven’t been able to spend too much time with, but…damn, it might be better than any of the albums in my top 10.

  • D’angelo – Black Messiah:  I wrote this facebook comment on one of my friend’s post asking to discuss the D’angelo album.

I feel bad for Maxwell. Remember when Maxwell did his unplugged thing and we started to really pay attention to him. Tons and tons of column inches were dedicated to talking about the beginnings of a new kind of soul music and that Urban Hang Suite was some kind of direct descendant of Stax records and James Brown and Earth Wind and Fire, and the cutting edge of the future of soul music. Then Voodoo came out a couple of years later and we were all like “Oops, remember all that stuff we said about Maxwell, we were actually talking about D’angelo.”

Fast forward to 2009 and BLACKsummersnight comes out and we were all like “Hey Maxwell is back! That is some damned fine soul music after all this time. Good Show Maxwell!” And we felt nostalgic and bestowed Maxwell with some accolades as being influential on the current neo soul sound. Now Black Messiah comes out and we’re like “sheeeeeeet, this is amazing.” And we don’t have to even bring nostalgia into this because Black Messiah is an uninterrupted straight line from Voodoo and somehow despite sounding a lot like Voodoo, it also sounds completely fresh and different and revolutionary in the same way Voodoo was back then. And even though it’s a little unfair to compare the two now in the same way we did back in the late nineties-early aughts, the symmetry of D’angelo’s comeback outshining Maxwell’s comeback is all too obvious. Time is a flat circle.

Carcosa Bitch!

OK enough pretentious rambling!  Onto organized and ranked pretention!  Just a reminder that this list is limited to only those albums that I spent a significant amount of time with this year.  So maybe that Sun Kil Moon album is really as good as the critics are saying5, but I wouldn’t know because I checked out after the first two songs and never returned to it.

10. Warpaint – Warpaint: Did you guys see that Sleater Kinney got back together and are putting out a new album. I liked them a little less then most indie hipsters. The main reason I could never really fully get into them is because man did they love that lo-fi sound.  Like a good producer, someone to play bass full time, and some guitar overdubs would have done wonders for them.  Anyways, Warpaint does all that and I’m fully into them.6

9. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso: I have finally given up my quest to understand electronic music. I mean the beats are fine and catchy, but I just do not connect on any emotional level.  I just hear party music.  Anyways, this is as close as I will get to liking EDM I think.  Even though it’s not really EDM.  So whatever, it’s a great headphone album.  Amelia Meath’s voice carry this duo in the same way that Tracy Thorn’s voice carried Everything but the Girl’s foray into electronic music.

8. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream: Fun fact: in my 38+ years of being alive, I have somehow managed to never smoke pot. It’s not that I have any kind of moral aversion to it and I completely support the concept of chemically altering our state of mind to allow us to experience things we wouldn’t otherwise. No, rather, it’s just at some point in my mid twenties I realized that I hadn’t tried it yet, and it felt like my last bastion of innocence, so I’ve refrained since.  Why do I tell you this?  Because I imagine that this might be the reason that this album is not higher on my list like it seems to be on everyone else’s list.  It’s the best stoner rock that I’ve heard since…well since ever.  If you like Pink Floyd you will really like this album.  If you like the Psychedelic Furs you will really like this album.  And if you liked the movie Half Baked I think you might really like this album.

7. Benjamin Booker – Benjamin Booker: This album really fills a gap in popular music in the US. It that accessible kind of music that serves as a bridge between current rock music and the blues from which it all rock music is based on. There are so few guitar riff based bands anymore and I think that’s a damn shame.  There is so much going on in the album – Jack White, the Strokes, Sam Cooke, Bo Diddley, the Kinks – really good stuff.

6. La Roux – Trouble in Paradise: If La Roux had been around when I was in high school she would be mentioned with the greats of that era and synth pop genre: Duran Duran, the Cure, Depeche Mode, New Order, Yaz, Ashes to Ashes era Bowie7. This is what fun smart pop music sounds like.

5. Lydia Loveless – Somewhere Else: The more I read about Lydia Loveless and the more I listen to her lyrics, the more convinced I am that she probably has a substance abuse problem of some kind and probably suffers from some form of clinical depression. Those things in real life are probably a real bummer, but they sure do make great source material for a sophomore effort. If you like boozy country punk ballads about hard livin’ and bad relationships, you’ll love this album.

4. FKA Twigs – LP1: Everyone loves this album, and so do I. I hope that Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus are paying attention. This is how you writes songs about sex that are actually sexy.8

3. Kelis- Food: Did you know that the lady who did Milkshake has been churning out really great soul music since Milkshake hit? Well, now you do. This album is so great that even your parents will like it. Seriously, play it for them, they’ll dance with you and it will be hilarious.

2. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2: Did you know Killer Mike and El-P are older than I am? Well they are, and it really shows here, but in a good way. This album sounds exactly like two master artisans that have complete control of their craft. Everything is here – Humor, clever rhymes, political commentary, and top flight production.  Your head will be bobbing the whole time you listen to this album and you’ll make that face that jazz musicians make when they hear one of their bandmates playing a sick solo. This album hit me on a visceral level that no other album this year did with the exception of ……

1. Against Me! – Transgender Dyphoria Blues: If you know me at all, this shouldn’t surprise you at all. It is everything a Bob’s favorite album should be. A album filled with catchy aggressive guitar riffs and kick ass drumming.  It is also a touching chronicling of lead singer’s Laura Jane Grace’s transition from male to female.  Gender and sexuality are the obvious themes here, but the genius of this album is that it can serve as an anthem for a wide array of social issues as the overarching message is to just treat each other better.  And lord knows we needed a lot more of that in 2014.  Let’s hope we take the message of this album to heart in 2015.

If you’re into Spotify, here is a playlist!


  1. If you want the gist of that essay, you can read my last blog entry. []
  2. J/K, my list is totally more valid than yours. []
  3. I actually have a theory about how the male dominated music critic field asserts it’s hegemonic masculinity by writing a lot more about female artists and what they “mean” than anything else.  This is a direct response to the fact that straight white males make a lot less good music than they used to. []
  4. Extremely honorable mention to No Flex Zone by Rae Sremmurd. I have no idea what is happening in this song but it cracks my shit up.  Seriously, I cannot emphasize enough the pleasure to be derived from repeated listenings of this song. []
  5. It’s not []
  6. Yes I’m aware that I’m comparing one all female group to another all female group, but I swear, the comparison is actually valid in this case! []
  7. Shout out to FOTC fans. []
  8. I considered including Ariana Grande to this list, but since she still looks like she’s in middle school it kinda made me feel dirty so I took her out. []

We are lost

I’m wading through all of my newsfeeds and social media feeds.  I’m trying to find solace from seeing that my friends are as upset as I am about the events of Ferguson, but to frank, I am not finding that.

Part of it is being upset with myself.  I wish I had more courage.  I wish I was in Ferguson right now.  I wish I had the courage to say this is more important than my career.  I wish I had the courage to say this is more important than saving money.  I wish I had the courage to say this is more important than not getting arrested for a just cause.  But I don’t.  I needed to be better.  But I wasn’t.  And now I fear it is too late.  I will continue to try and do more in the future, but I know that it won’t make a difference in my lifetime.  Like Moses and MLK, we will not see us get to the promised land.

Leading up to this, there was a good part of the nation who refused to see the Ferguson situation for what it was – plain and simple racism.  No really.  It’s quite obvious actually.  It is baffling to me how people, including some of you who are reading this right now – people that I consider my friends – can come to such a different understanding as to what has happened and is happening now.  Now I know that because of my chosen educational path that I’ve studied and read about race than most people.1 But I don’t think that even matters with the Michael Brown case.  Or the Amadou Diallo case.  Or the Oscar Grant case.  Or the John Crawford case.  Or the Tamir Rice case.  How much education do we need to understand that cops are gunning down black people with impunity and without any consequences?  How high does the number of dead black people need to get to before people suspect something is wrong?  1000 people?  2000 people?  10,000 people?

Most of us have access to the same information on the internet, the same statistics, the same training in how to draw logical conclusions from evidence.  Yet somehow, I wade through comment after comment of people defending law enforcement’s record, defending the practice of state sponsored murder because it supposedly makes us safer?  People like to claim ignorance as the source of racism, but really, you would have to be astronomically unintelligent to think that this is all justified.  No, many of you willfully ignore all of the information we have and tell me that I’m playing the race card or being oversensitive or too politically correct.  I suppose I could be wrong and that a lot of you are actually the gigantic ignoramuses that your rhetoric on this stuff indicates.  But alas, I know that this is not the case.  I know that most of you are actually pretty smart and know how to use reason and logic to make informed decisions, but choose to ignore this so that tragic and unjust events can fit into your fucked up worldview.

I want to be very clear on this next point.  The failure to see the problem is a moral failing.  This is not a matter of different orientations but having the same goal.  If you do not see the problem or deny the problem, then you are on the other side.  If you think this was an unavoidable tragedy, if you think that rioting or looting is not justified, you have failed morally.  If you believe in God, you are sinning.

And this is what makes the saddest.  I have lost faith in people.  I have lost faith in our country.  I honestly think a lot of you, of us do not have it in us to do the right thing.  There is a good number of you reading this who will never understand nor care about the grave injustices that occur everyday to good people.  There is nothing I or anyone can do because when it comes down to it, you would rather kill black people, you would rather let innocent people live their lives in the most terrifying state of fear than simply admit that you are wrong about how race works in America.  As I said before, everything is laid out before us.  You can choose to recognize the problem and seek to find out more about why this is happening, or you can choose to allow more innocent people to die.  In fact, you elect officials because you know that they will ensure that this will continue to happen.  And honestly, it’s this way with a lot of things.  US foreign policy, climate change, hell even just raising taxes a tiny bit for the top 1% so that people can eat.  Way too many of us have chosen evil.  And the bitch of all this is that it is not even that hard to do the right thing.  Read some books, look up some statistics on the prison system, and just have some basic empathy for your fellow human beings.  That’s all you have to do.  All you have to do is not be an asshole.  But there are too many of us who can’t do even that.  Who won’t do that.  Who will keep on being an asshole, because it benefits them to be an asshole.  And that’s pretty much all there is to this country, a bunch of racist assholes.

Believe me, I really want to be wrong on this one.  In fact, I’m begging you, please prove me wrong on this.  I went to the rally in Santa Barbara.  I walked the streets with the protesters, and I chanted the slogans with everyone else.  But I saw the way people not participating looked at us – the annoyed frown because they had to wait a little longer to get through an intersection.  The bemused condescending look on their face telling me that I was naïve and incapable of changing anything.  And most of all, the look on the cops faces – in their full riot gear, hands gripped tightly on their night sticks and gun holsters, just waiting for someone to slip up so they can administer a beatdown.2 Luckily no one slipped up last night, but really that just seems incidental.  There is no way to avoid the fact that someone somewhere will eventually slip up and a cop will make them pay for it with their lives whether or not they deserved it.  And this will happen on a regular basis.

I think in the past I would have attempted to try and explain in layman’s terms the sociological concepts that are related to what is happening.  Maybe even comment on how the events have been mediated through popular culture.  But instead I wrote this rambling mess of an essay for two reasons.  The first reason is that I know that even having it spelled out for you like a fucking kindergartner, you will still dismiss me, and the experience of the millions of people of color who have been trying to tell you this for their whole lives.  The second and more important reason is I don’t like you enough anymore to try.

  1. Let me take this opportunity to point out despite the fact that virtually all people who study race as their primary occupation agree that institutional racism exists and especially with the way it plays out with law enforcement results in a disproportionate amount of dead black people, a lot of you think you know more about race than these experts []
  2. Really people, this is fucking Santa Barbara.  A couple of patrol cars and maybe 10 officers would have been more than enough []

15 Uses for Taylor Swift’s Latest Single, “Shake It Off”

** This will make more sense if you have listened to this song at least once.  Although you will most likely be listening to it over and over again **

1.  Pep Squad audition song

2.  Soundtrack song for ”Protagonist forces herself to try new thing to get over ex but then finding out that she is actually good at and loves doing aforementioned new thing which gives her new outlook on situation” montage in standard Rom-Com

3.  Provide funding for Max Martin’s Helicopter Pad addition for his house in Hollywood

4.  Zumba!

5.  Soundtrack song for “Building relationship via fun urban leisure activities like bike riding in park and eating food from street vendors with someone whom protagonist only thought of platonically before but now she sees him in a whole new light and it confuses her, while ex simultaneously realizes he made a mistake in dumping protagonist” montage in standard Rom-Com tswiftparker

6.  Pedagogical exercise in race/sociology classes aimed to initiate discussion on cultural appropriation/the use of the ‘hater’ discourse to excuse problematic attitudes and behavior. tswifttwerk

7. Retooled lyrics used as basis for future Pillsbury marketing campaign – “Bake it off”

8. Soundtrack song for “Road Trip Dance Party in the Car” shot in standard female tween coming of age movie tswiftcrossroads

9.  Background music that is faded up at the end of an episode of Catfish after the catfished person tells Neve over Skype that the experience ended up being a positive one because it really “woke them up” and now they are doing much better and have gone back to school/found a new romantic interest


10. Soundtrack for “Girlfriends take protagonist out for a night on the town to help her get over general romantic failure and they dance the night away but then wake up the next morning with a hangover and looking like hell when the doorbell rings and it’s a handsome new next door neighbor asking if protagonist knows the landlord’s number because the dishwasher in his apartment isn’t working” montage from standard Rom-Com


11. Battleground on which music critics rehash tired debates about the concept of authenticity and the career arc of pop starlets

12.  Lazy tagline written for Mario Lopez to use on Extra when talking about public feuds with Taylor Swift a-la “T-Swift has always known that the haters are gonna hate hate hate but she couldn’t have expected Ariana Grande to be one of those haters”

tswift slater

13.  Soundtrack song used for “Re-inventing oneself to get over ex and it is seemingly going very well, but then you hear a record scratch sound effect and that cuts off the montage because protagonist runs into the ex who is with her new boyfriend” montage in relatively new sub-genre of Rom-Com where the male is the protagonist


14.  Floor exercise/figure staking routine song used in those things that they do at the Olympics after the gymnastics/figure skating medals have already been given out and they just want to show the “girls just having some fun!”


15.  The pop sugar cudgel used to finally force me to submit to the Taylor Swift New World Order


Sterling Prediction

I should really write something longer about the whole Sterling episode, but I know myself pretty well and there’s a good chance I won’t. So in lieu of that let me just make this prediction.

Here are what I think are the two possible scenarios that eventually unfold from here.

1) Sterling will fight this in court and because he has a near infinite amount of money, he will win.  Some court will find that it’s illegal to make someone to sell something because they are racist.  After all, the highest court in our land just recently decided that it’s ok to make it illegal to prevent racial discrimination in higher ed.  It turns out that the courts have a history of helping out racists.

2) Sterling will fight this in court and lose because the NBA has infinity + 1 amount of money, and he will sell the Clippers and realize a profit of nearly half a billion dollars.

I know I’m being Debbie Downer here, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that cultural, legal, and economic institutions are designed specifically to protect people like Sterling – rich white asshole dudes – who very often happen to also be racist.  Ok, they just don’t happen to be racists – being racist is very connected to being a rich white asshole dude, but I digress.

I’m glad the NBA has done something in the direction of the right thing, but I feel compelled to remind you that this is America.

Sad Song

Even though the album came out in August and I listened to it then, I’m only now getting around to really listening to the words of “I Should Live in Salt” by the National.  Holy fuck, what a sad beautiful song.  I think I am going to cry now.  Anyways, here is a nice cover of that song by some random artist who we’ve never heard of

Chait vs Coates

I’m finally catching up with the Chait/Coates exchange and found this fantastic bit of writing.

White supremacy does not contradict American democracy—it birthed it, nurtured it, and financed it. That is our heritage. It was reinforced during 250 years of bondage. It was further reinforced during another century of Jim Crow. It was reinforced again when progressives erected an entire welfare state on the basis of black exclusion. It was reinforced again when the intellectual progeny of the same people who excluded black women from welfare turned around and inveighed against it through caricaturization of black women.


Sometimes I miss hard rock

Before my wallet got stolen in 2003, I used to carry this picture around in my wallet.  True story.

Before my wallet got stolen in 2003, I used to carry this picture around in my wallet. True story.

Every couple of years I go through a phase where all I do is listen to David Lee Roth era Van Halen. These are not necessarily productive periods of my life, but there sure are a lot more bitchin’ guitar solos during these times.

Some Thoughts about a College Football Players Union

Some things to keep in mind while thinking about a college football players union

  1. In order to be paid fairly, colleges and universities in the big power conferences will have to pay their athletes more than they pay the highest paid professor.  And in some cases, such as big sports schools like Alabama or Notre Dame, a fair wage for some of the players would be in the millions of dollars.  Currently head coaches command most of the money in college football.  But that is only because they are the ones that currently wrangle free labor.  When this practice ends, so does paying coaches outrageous sums of money.  There’s a reason why coaches in pro sports make a lot less than the athletes.  It is because they are a lot less important to the final product.
  2. Similarly, the difference between the highest paid professor and the lowest paid professor vary wildly according to many factors something as basic as which department the professor works for.  You will see a similar thing happen to different sports.  Football players should be paid more than say the water polo team because they generate more money.  However, at the same time, this system is inherently sexist (and probably racist, and definitely homophobic) in a way that should be completely antithetical to any college or university’s mission.  Compliance to Title IX will be impossible and say goodbye to fringe sports such as rowing or tennis.
  3. The big colleges will be able to better support better programs because they have alumni stupid enough to donate money towards paying players.1 What this means is that smaller colleges will fade from any kind of relevance in college sports.  When making a decision, a recruited high school player will and SHOULD make their decision based on who can compensate them the best.  Just look at this chart.  No more Cinderella.
  4. Colleges and Universities actually owe billions of dollars to college athletes who played previous to this year, so good luck sorting all that out.
  5. Colleges and Universities can hardly get a handle on paying their teaching assistants or their support staff a fair wage.
  6. But it kinda doesn’t matter because if colleges and universities pay athletes fairly, then most of the revenue generated by college sports will not go towards supporting the teaching and research function of the university – which by the way, it already doesn’t – it will go towards supporting athletic departments (you might say that the revenue generated by college sports end up being athletic supporters.  TRY THE VEAL!).  Sports will no longer be a cash cow for the university and therefore, they will actually have very little incentive to maintain them at all.  This again is especially true for smaller schools.  Seriously, look at this chart.
  7. I have not even broached the cultural problems that big time college sports contributes to.  See Penn State, Jameis Winston, students running onto the court for no good reason.  These problems will most likely be exacerbated, particularly at Division I schools.

What I’m getting at here, is that while it is a good thing that the Northwestern football players won the right to unionize, this brings us closer to a system where one of the central function of the university will be managing a multi-billion dollar sports and entertainment business.  It is IMPOSSIBLE for colleges and universities to do this without undermining their core mission, which is educating students and producing knowledge via the research process. 

I know what you’re thinking.  Oh Bob!  You’re so reactionary!  Surely everyone will figure out a way to divide up the money fairly and in a way that benefits everyone.  Well, you’re wrong.  Most colleges and universities can’t even do this within their own academic departments. Come on people, this is America!  As the pie gets bigger, it doesn’t get divided more fairly, the opposite happens.

To reiterate – I am in complete support of college athletes organizing and fighting to be compensated fairly for their labor.  The system is a little less exploitative and that’s a good thing.  However, saying that paying players is going to fix the issues that college sports creates is like saying abstinence education is going to fix teen pregnancy (SPOILER ALERT: IT DOESN’T).

So, while the NRLB decision is a victory for student athletes,2  I don’t know if it is really a victory for higher education in the US.

  1. And let’s be honest, they are where they are because they already do this. []
  2. Honestly, I’m pretty sure that the NCAA will still find a way to exploit these kids []

Somebody owes me NBA All star tickets

This was published last year on True Hoop, ESPN’s basketball blog – so basically the world’s largest sports news outlet:

We asked readers for suggestions on how to improve All-Star Weekend, so take it away, Bob Ngo!

The X games used to structure their best trick contest the similar to the dunk contest. Each contestant would get three chances to do their trick, and like the dunk contest, the trick took a few seconds, the announcers would go crazy, and the crowd would cheer and then that was it. It was ok, but there was a lot of downtime between tricks, between skaters, and this was especially felt if the skater did not land the trick.

Recently, they’ve switched to a “jam session” format, which I find to be much more compelling. Basically, skaters take turns, but they go immediately after the previous skater attempts a trick. I mean, I guess there are a few seconds between skaters but it feels like non stop skating for twenty or so minutes. This gets the crowd fired up and it gets the skaters fired up. Each skater gets caught up in the moment and knows that to do well, he has to outdo the trick that the previous skater just landed. It also, gets rid of the interminable time after a missed dunk because someone else is going right away. What you get is a contest where with each attempted trick, the tricks get increasingly more difficult, and increasingly more tense. By the end of it, the whole crowd is going nuts!

They say basketball is like jazz. In jazz, the true moments of genius come out of improvisation. Why not give the dunkers a format where they can show us their genius.
I dig this because I hate watching high flyers awkwardly walk around mid court, blowing on their cold hands while trying to generate some energy and enthusiasm in the current, over-produced format. Let them hype up each other (and the crowd) by creating a live mixtape of eye-popping dunks!

And these are the new rules for the dunk contest this year:

In the Freestyle Round, each conference will get 90 seconds to perform as many dunks as they can. This will basically be like what you see when a team goes up against the 2013-14 Los Angeles Lakers. Just a constant stream of dunking goodness.