Archive for January, 2010

The Swami

January 24, 2010

This is an actual email I sent to a friend before the NFL season began. Go to the end to see my Super Bowl predictions.  Even though I listed four teams, I really did pick the Colts and the Saints to make it — the Eagles and Pats were just throw-ins.  I’m reprinting the email word for word, so excuse the out of context Vick stuff.

I have been wrong a lot in the past so when I’m right I have to point it out.

(And the Eagles didn’t use Vick enough).

——-

Subject: Predictions

Date: Sat, 15 Aug 2009 22:56:27 -0400

I like the move.  yes it’s a distraction, yes it’d be awkward if McNabb struggles, but Vick is a better backup than all the backups in the league, or will be by midseason, plus they can use him creatively. McNabb, Vick, Westbrook, and speedy receivers?  The Eagles just became one of the top offenses in the NFL along with the Saints and Pats.  Vick might mean an extra win or two which is all it takes.  I applaud them for having the guts to sign him and take a risk in the too conservative NFL.  you have to gamble a bit to win it all.

Super Bowl:  I like Eagles, Saints, Colts, or Pats.

Saints Escape and Favre Lets One Slip Away

January 24, 2010

A couple of comments about the Vikings – Saints NFC Championship game today:

Even though I’ve been a critic of Brett Favre, and this morning I wrote, “I still think he’ll throw a few interceptions either against the Saints later today or in the Super Bowl,” I feel badly for him.  He played pretty well today despite being hit a lot.  He did throw two interceptions including one that prevented the Vikings from going for a game-winning field goal.  It’s tough for the season to end like that for him.  Twice now in three seasons Favre threw an INT at the end of the NFC championship game.

The Saints were the beneficiaries of a bad call in overtime.  When Drew Brees threw incomplete to David Thomas and pass interference was called on Minnesota, that advanced the ball from the 41 to the 29, putting the Saints in field goal position.  Looking at the replay, it looked like Thomas tripped over his own feet and Ben Leber of the Vikings barely touched Thomas.  Even if you argue that the call was technically correct, they shouldn’t have made a call like that at the end of the game (unless there was more contact before the cameras were isolated on them).  But there were a couple of bad calls earlier against the Saints.

Still, without the call, the game was a tossup.

I was expecting the Vikings to win so I was writing that the Saints didn’t use Reggie Bush enough.  You have one of the best weapons in the NFL and he only gets seven rushes and two receptions, especially after a monster performance last week?  He should have had at least five receptions.

It’s true that Minnesota dominated time of possession and you have to credit their defense.  Bush had a fumbled punt return and a dropped pass, and had a couple of other bad plays.  But you have to use Bush.  Throw him some screen passes.

It was a bad call though for the Saints to pitch it to Bush on the 29 in overtime because that almost took them out of field goal range.  Bush results in high risk/high reward plays and he lost five yards on that one.

As for Favre, and who made out better — Green Bay who kept Aaron Rodgers instead of Favre or Favre and Minnesota — even though the Vikings had more wins than the Packers, beat them twice, had a playoff win whereas the Pack lost their first playoff game, I think both teams — the Vikings and Packers — made out equally well.  The Vikings almost made the Super Bowl and Green Bay, led by Rodgers, had a very good season and will be a contender next year and for years to come.

Anyway, it’s great to see the Saints make the Super Bowl.  It should be a great, high scoring game.

Jim Nantz Keeps Mispronouncing Pierre Garçon’s Name

January 24, 2010

Jim Nantz keeps pronouncing Indianapolis Colts receiver Pierre Garçon’s name, “Gar-SONE” with a massive emphasis on the ending as if it rhymes with “phone.” Garçon is pronounced as if the ending rhymes with the French “non.”

Here’s another one:  people always mispronounce “crêpes.”  They say “craypes” as if it rhymes with “grapes.”  But it rhymes with “reps.”

Colts vs. Jets

January 24, 2010

I can’t believe all the talk about the experts picking the Jets over the Colts today.  I’m not saying it’s a lock, but I’d say there’s an 80 percent chance the Colts will win, and chances are they’ll win something like 31-13.

It’s bizarre how many people on ESPN are picking the Jets.  They are completely one-dimensional (the Jets, not the people picking them) — they are a very good rushing team but they have no passing game at all.  Their defense is good but not great.  It’s way overrated.  They finished 9-7 and they might have finished 8-8 or 7-9 if the Colts and the Bengals were going all out in the final two games.  The Houston Texans finished with a 9-7 record too but at least theirs was legit.  The Steelers and the Falcons also finished with 9-7 records but like the Texans didn’t make the playoffs.

Rex Ryan’s act is wearing a little thin.  He’s way too arrogant.  This is a passing league and the Jets can’t pass.

As for the Colts, they only have the best quarterback in the league, great receivers and though the rushing attack ranks near the bottom of the league, Joseph Addai and Donald Brown are solid backs.  Addai had 13 total touchdowns this year.  The defense is also solid, led by Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

I attribute all the attention to the Jets to three factors:

1.  In our society everything that has happened more recently has a much greater weight than everything else because we have such a low attention span.  You can have a great relationship for a year, then the final month is bad and that’s what is remembered.  This applies even more so in the world of sports.  The Jets have played three good games in a row.  (It also applies in politics, which is one of the reasons our system is so messed up).

2.  When teams have weaknesses, it makes their strengths seem even greater.  The Jets have no passing game, so a good running game and a good defense become a great running game and a great defense. This works in reverse too.  When teams have one great unit, other units get overlooked even if they’re very good.  The Colts have a great passing game, so even though the defense is very good, it gets overlooked.  But the Colts’ defense is probably just as good as the Jets’ defense.*

3.  The Jets are from New York and the media and fans are just pumping them up too much.

I have been wrong before of course — I never thought Brett Favre would have such a great year.  I still think he’ll throw a few interceptions either against the Saints later today or in the Super Bowl.  He’s had an unbelievable year but it doesn’t change the fact that for most of his career he was overrated and threw way too many interceptions.

*So here’s how this works:

Jane is really great in math (say a 9.5 on a scale of 1-10) but merely good (8) in English and science.

John is good in English (8) but terrible in math and science (4). Because John is so much better in English than the other subjects, people assume he’s better than Jane in English. Because Jane is great in math, people forget that she’s also good in English.  In reality, both Jane and John are equally good in English – it just seems that John is better because that’s all he’s good at, and Jane is good at other things too.

So the Jets and Colts have equally good defenses, but it seems like the Jets’ defense is better because overall they’re a weaker team.  The Jets’ defense is the best part of their team while the equally good Colts defense isn’t the best part of their team.

It’s an oversimplification of course, but it works.

Let’s also remember that the Colts’ defense may feel slighted with all the attention going to the Jets’ defense, giving the Colts’ defense extra motivation, while the Jets’ defense may take it for granted that they’ll play great.  Finally, all the people picking the Jets takes some of the pressure off the Colts.  (I know this analysis is full of intangibles, but I don’t have the time or the need to look at all the matchups).

Plus, it’s Peyton Manning vs. Mark Sanchez.  Colts 31, Jets 13.

ESPN’s Coverage of the Australian Open

January 22, 2010

I have to give kudos to ESPN for its coverage of the Australian Open. Chris Fowler, Patrick McEnroe, Brad Gilbert, Pam Shriver, Darren Cahill, and Cliff Drysdale all do an excellent job.  Even Tom Rinaldi is there doing features.

Mary Carillo is a little annoying to me, but a lot of people like her. I’ve never liked Dick Enberg for tennis because he feels he has to constantly compare it to baseball or fooball — “like a pitcher changing speeds” or “like an outfielder looking up at the ball” — as if tennis is a completely foreign sport and people won’t understand it unless you make those comparisons.

But I’m nitpicking.  They do the tournament great justice by doing their homework and conducting good interviews.  It’s just too bad that the time difference precludes a lot of people from seeing the tennis.

We even got a shot of Chris McKendry in the crowd.  I guess they’re getting her used to the sport and letting her do a few interviews.  (By the way, years ago I watched McKendry on the local affiliate in Washington.  I couldn’t believe she was on because she spoke so slowly, as if she were a kindergarten teacher.  I didn’t think she knew sports either.  Boy, was I wrong.  She is great on ESPN.  Absolutely great).

So Kornheiser and Wilbon can continue to mock every sport other than football, basketball and baseball by asking each other, “Do you care about this? Will you watch it?”  “No.”  I can’t wait to see them ridicule next month’s Olympics.

Ironically, Terrell Owens and Steve Smith of the NFL are both at the tournament.  Owens is there to watch his friend Andy Roddick, and Smith of the Carolina Panthers was watching friend John Isner defeat Gael Monfils.

It’s funny, ESPN talks of great rivalries like Magic-Bird and Crosby-Ovechkin, but they never mention the great ones in tennis — Borg – McEnroe, Sampras – Agassi, or Federer – Nadal.

Anyway, great job, ESPN, on the coverage of the Australian.

Fathers’ Daze

January 22, 2010

Looking back again at my blog from last year, “Lessons Learned from Autism Therapy,” I found a paragraph that I want to reprint.

Dads:  some of you have graduate degrees from Ivy League universities.  That’s nice.  Now could you possibly consider making some suggestions about your children’s programs?  You can’t even make any suggestions or any input about your child’s program?  Let me get this straight – you’re intimidated by someone half your age who has a couple years experience with kids?  You’d rather just hand over the money and not even know what is going on?

The fathers of kids who I currently work with are great.  In fact, one of them is very involved with the child’s home program despite the fact that he has a very important job.

But to be honest, most – definitely more than half – of all the children who I’ve worked with, have fathers who were virtually invisible when it came to helping out with their home program (the afterschool and weekend program in which kids get additional support in doing schoolwork, learning social skills, and preferably also sports and coordination).

We’re talking about guys who, for the most part, went to Ivy League universities or very good ones, usually have graduate degrees, and make huge salaries because of their competency on the job.  At these jobs, they surely have to work hard and pay attention to detail, and maybe even use creative thinking to solve problems.  They must have to work with people.  So why can’t these guys pay any attention whatsoever to their children’s educations?

It’s as if we’re living back in the 1950s.  The mother does 100% of the work for the child.  The father goes out to his job.

The mothers make the schedule, do the hiring, make suggestions, and are basically involved.  Sometimes they have regular jobs too.

I know that you guys pore through lots of detail at work, and you are also part of many meetings there.  Couldn’t you attend a meeting about your child and maybe contribute something – anything?  Try to put just one tenth of the effort into your child’s education – not just giving money but giving time and ideas – that you give to your job.

Separation of Duties may be a good concept for computer security, but in raising kids there will be overlap between functions.  Maybe you do some behind the scenes stuff with your kids and that’s great.  And I’m not trying to minimize the importance of performing well at a job to earn a good salary.  That’s extremely important and it results in a major contribution to the child’s success because without that, many services wouldn’t be available.

But make an appearance, show that you care — start by pretending to care — and put in some kind of minimal effort at helping your child be successful.  Review what is going on.  Say, “I want more of this and less of this.”  Ask questions.  Give your opinion.

I don’t know if you’re afraid, or if you lack confidence, or if you don’t care, but you need to make a contribution other than just working and writing checks.  Maybe you don’t have the social skills and the autism is partly genetic, but at least you could try.  Think about the number of hours you put into your job.  Now think of the number of hours you put into reviewing the content and curriculum of your child’s home program as well as the progress that he has made.  I’m guessing the ratio is about 40 to 1, and that’s only for the exceptional fathers who put in an effort.  Think of how much you could accomplish if you contributed.  Not a sermon, just a thought.

So as they say on ESPN’s NFL Countdown, C’MON, MAN!

***

A day after I wrote this, I now have reread it just to make sure I still stand by everything.  It does need one change.  I’m adding an apostrophe in the title.

Monsters, Inc.

January 22, 2010

Last August 22, I wrote a blog describing some lessons learned from autism therapy (2009/08/22/lessons-learned-from-autism-therapy/).  I listed ten common mistakes people make and I include one of them below:

Making the child the “King of the Household.”

A child has a disability, so parents feel sorry for him, letting him get away with bad behavior, and excusing him from acting appropriately.  Congratulations.  You are on your way to creating a monster who becomes the King of the Household.  You might as well start fitting the crown and the throne now.  On the bright side, everyone knows who rules the place.

The point is that people with disabilities, whether they are children or adults, whether their disabilities are physical, cognitive, psychiatric or developmental, should not be pitied.  Unfortunately, many people instinctively pity people with disabilities, treating them differently and letting them get away with anything, to the point that those people with disabilities consciously or unconsciously take advantage of the situation.  Of course people should have reasonable accommodations, or modifications to help them be successful.

What I’m about to say may seem extreme, but I strongly believe it.  If you have the choice of making fun of a person with a disability or pitying him, you should definitely make fun of him.  That’s right – given the choice of ridiculing people with disabilities and pitying them, you should definitely ridicule them.

Of course you’d never be faced with the situation of having to make a choice between pitying someone and making fun of him or her.  But I’m trying to illustrate a point.  I’m not advocating making fun of anyone with a disability.  Of course it’s a bad idea to make fun of anyone.  I’m just making the point that pitying someone with a disability is even worse, because then you’re not holding the person to high standards, for accomplishments or behavior or anything else.  You’re giving them too much slack, and they realize it, and if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.

Here’s another way to explain it.  Let’s use a person with a physical disability as an example.  Most people would look at a guy in a wheelchair and pity him.  However, studies have shown that people with disabilities are about as happy as those without disabilities.  They can also be jerks, and if you don’t believe it, then you’re not treating everyone fairly.  There are people who would say, “How can someone in a wheelchair be a jerk?  They’ve gone through so much – it must be so hard for them – it’s understandable for them to be a little rude.  Cut them some slack.”

But that’s exactly the wrong attitude.  That’s patronizing.  So when children grow up with disabilities and you excuse them for all sorts of behavior, as I said in my blog, you’re creating monsters.  And at some point, there’s no turning back.

A perfect example of this is Eric the Midget from the Howard Stern show.  Eric, 34, has Dwarfism, Nevus flammeus nuchae, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.  He’s 3 foot 5 and in a wheelchair.  And he’s a completely arrogant jerk.  He never does anything for other people.

It’s a little more complicated for kids with autism, especially if it’s severe, because certain behaviors are often accommodations for the way they experience the world, they can have a hard time handling emotions, and they can be very slow in learning social skills.  I understand that.  From 2007 – http://www.coachmike.net/autism-faq.php#14_rtn:

How do you teach empathy to a child with autism?

It is well known that many children with autism have problems with regulating their emotions. What isn’t as well known is that many children with autism do feel emotions strongly. However, they just don’t have the ability to understand, regulate or express emotions as well as typically developing children. This is all the more reason to work on it. For example, if a tennis player has a backhand that is the least effective part of his or her game, you work on that skill because it’s the one that is needed most – you don’t ignore it because it’s the worst shot.

In other words, if someone is weak at something, you don’t say, “Johnny doesn’t understand how to play, so he can’t do playdates.”  That’s the exact reason that such a child should do playdates – to work on a weakness and make it better.

So you work on those skills.  You don’t use their weaknesses as excuses and then allow the children to scream and then get whatever they want as a result.  That’s rewarding bad behavior.  You wouldn’t let your typical child get away with saying he doesn’t want to learn math, so you shouldn’t let your autistic child do the same thing.

Speaking of parents of kids with disabilities, I’ve noticed that a lot of people sometimes cut parents a little too much slack as well.  It’s ok to say, “It must be so hard to be a parent of a child with autism,” and understand where they’re coming from.  That’s true, but it’s a fine line – I believe some parents will use that inch you give them and turn it into a mile, and frankly, behave badly and inappropriately, as if any of their actions can be justified just because they have a child with autism.

For example, I once witnessed a situation in which a therapist worked for a family for almost a year, doing excellent work.  The therapist recommended an additional person to come in to help teach the child and before long, the new person was there and the person who did the recommending was out.  That kind of reckless, short-term thinking on the part of the parents can’t be good for the child, not to mention the unethical implications.

This might be a good time for me to mention another one from the infamous top ten at (2009/08/22/lessons-learned-from-autism-therapy/).

Therapists are shuffled in and out and there is a lack of continuity.

In some cases, by the time a child is 10, he has been to several different schools, had several different home programs, and had turnover within each program so he has worked with more than 50 teachers and therapists.  It is not good for children to get attached to therapists and then have them taken away from them, because it teaches children that people are dispensable and interchangeable.  It’s also not good for the children psychologically to have people constantly shuffled in and out and taken away from them because they may develop problems in the future related to that.

If you want to hire a handyman to fix your windows, and then a different handyman to do some other jobs around your house, fine.  Every once in a while I hire someone from craigslist to clean my apartment, and it’s rarely the same person.  But it’s different for people who work with kids.  The relationship is important.  By making constant changes you’re teaching your child that people will leave them and you’re implying that your child is just a robot, not a thinking, feeling human being.

The relationship is crucial to learning, though it is intangible and not easily quantifiable.  I know a child with moderately severe autism who remembers people from when he was two years old.  Because I hear the details of those memories every time I see that child.

I’m not being globally critical of parents, I’m just telling it like it is, which is my philosophy.  In fact, three years ago on http://www.coachmike.net/autism-faq.php#7 I wrote that parents know more about autism than anyone else:

Who are the foremost experts on autism?

Parents are the greatest experts on autism. Everyone else is second. This includes, alphabetically: ABA Therapists, DIR Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Medical Doctors, Physical Therapists, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Scientists, Social Workers, Speech Therapists and others. Parents know more about autism than anyone else and they should be respected by doctors and other professionals accordingly.

So to sum up, you should never pity people with disabilities.  You should hold them to a high standard and have high expectations of them so that they are held accountable.  Understand that they can be jerks.  Again, I use the example of an adult rather than a child, and someone with a physical disability rather than a developmental one to avoid confusion.  But if you don’t realize that people with disabilities can be jackasses then you’re not treating them fairly, or equal with other people.

The same idea applies for children with autism, it’s just that there is a fine line – you have to understand the reasons why they do the things they do, but you also have to understand that they are very capable of learning and shouldn’t get a free pass to do anything because of their disabilities.  The children should not rule the household.  They should be held to a high standard and learn appropriate social skills.

Finally, parents of children with autism or other disabilities shouldn’t be given a free pass to behave inappropriately or recklessly just because they have a tough situation.  They should be held to high standards as well.

Nintendo Wii Sports and Avatar on Sale on Amazon.com

January 20, 2010

I have the cheapest new Nintendo Wii Sports and Wii Avatar Games for sale on the internet.  See www.amazon.com/shops/mikeneedsakidneydotcom and search for “Wii” in the search box.

I’m selling new copies of the Wii Play with Wii Remote by Nintendo for $42.25 (normal price $49.99).

I’m also selling new copies of Wii Avatar the Game for  $38.95 (normal price $49.99).

See www.amazon.com/shops/mikeneedsakidneydotcom for new and used books, books on CD and tape, music CDs, DVDs, and CD-roms.  Prices are usually the lowest on amazon.

LOGICAL WOMAN AND EMPATHETIC MAN MAKE HISTORY: First-Ever Instance of Man Understanding Emotions while Woman Uses Reason

January 20, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS – For the first time in recorded history, a woman used “logic,” defined as “reason or sound judgment,” ahead of emotion in dealing with her boyfriend, while her boyfriend simultaneously placed more importance on understanding her emotions than attempting to fix their problems using only his perspective.

The historic moment occurred Tuesday afternoon when Polly Piatkouwski and John Tuttle “validated” each others’ thoughts by listening and repeating back what each other said, a strategy that has been previously believed to be theoretically possible, but heretofore never actually been verified to have occurred organically.

“I decided to listen to what she was saying and tried to put myself in her position,” Tuttle said.  Meanwhile, Piatkowski said she used “reason,” defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “the power of intelligent and dispassionate thought, or of conduct influenced by such thought.”

“It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” Piatkouwski opined.  “But I’ll probably go back to letting my emotions rule my thoughts, being indirect, and expecting John to read my mind.”  Tuttle said he planned to return to trying to fix problems, taking things literally and ignoring intangibles rather than listening to his girlfriend and understanding where she’s coming from.

Still, the moment will be chronicled and celebrated for decades to come, historians say.  “If it happened once, it could happen again,” said Nicholas Johnson of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Sociologists say women have used logic before.  They also have multiple records of men being emotionally aware and validating what women say.  However, this has never been accomplished to anyone’s knowledge by the same couple in the same situation.

Psychologist Norman Greenbaum said he believes that the couple’s claims are plausible.  “With hundreds of millions of couples having argued throughout America’s history, I believe this may have even happened another time at some point before and just gone unnoticed.”

Greenbaum said that it would be statistically possible for a man to be empathetic while his girlfriend uses rational sense to solve a problem.  He stated that this phenomenon may even occur again at some point.  However, cynics say the couple may be perpetrating a hoax, claiming that the odds of such an event are just too high to have actually occurred during the same situation.

(Note:  The above is a satire and not related to any particular situation.  It is written in the style of articles on the onion.com. Sometimes I write blogs or website content that is exaggerated or intended to be humorous.  Not everyone will like it or get it. It reminds me of a story in which comedian Gilbert Gottfried was bombing, but continued to do more and more of the same material on purpose despite the audience’s reaction).

Jack Bauer and “24”

January 20, 2010

Speaking of “24,” what if Jack Bauer always listened to his superiors instead of doing the right thing?  It seems like he saves lives in every episode because he does what he knows is right rather than doing what most people do, which is kowtow to the boss no matter what the situation.  The clueless see him as the bad guy until he saves the day in the end.


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