Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

It’s here! the annually anticipated Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has hit the newsstands. Soon millions of testosterone-fueled teenage boys will be pawing the pages.

The SI models are pretty tame by modern standards, though cover model Hannah Davis’ pose left little room for the imagination to work. Her bikini bottom was so low that TV shots of the cover photo had to be pixelated (TV talk for censored).

As I looked at the issue (yes, I picked it up and thumbed through it) it occurred to me that some of these models’ mothers hadn’t even been born when the first SI swimsuit issue hit the stands in 1964. That thought led me to wonder what happened to those first models, who are now in their 70s. Did they ever regret posing? Was it helpful in their careers? What did their children think when they saw mom in the 1969 issue?

I don’t have the answers and I don’t have the time nor inclination to track any of those early models down and ask. But I do recall one o the stories in a book called FML, which stands for F*** My Life, a common expression used by people to convey the feeling that their lives are horrible. In one of the stories (according to the preface in the book, all such stories are true, which makes the book funny), a teenage boy is going through some old boxes in the basement of his home and comes across a stack of Playboy magazines. He’s flipping through the pages when he realizes his mother is standing behind him. He turns, guiltily, to find her smiling.

“Did you see the March, 1979, issue?” she asks and then goes back upstairs to do motherly things.

The boy digs through the pile to find Miss March, 1979, his mother. FML!

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We Are All Brian Williams

This morning MSN.com features “Brian Williams Rise and Fall in 12 Photos.” Apparently MSN has already written Mr. Williams’ obituary. You have to remember, though, that the story on Brian Williams appears on the MSN site alongside such hard news articles as “5 Foods that Kill your Sex Drive.”

Regardless of whether his career is over or not, Mr. Williams’ troubles are a common failing of humans. For those of you who don’t know, Brian Williams is under fire as NBC Nightly News anchor because he falsely stated that he was in an aircraft that was hit by RPG (rocket propelled grenade) fire in the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. Instead he was in a trailing aircraft. He has apologized and said he can’t explain why he “conflated” the two aircraft. His situation is similar to that of Hillary Clinton when she was running for president in 2008 and claimed that she came under sniper fire in Bosnia. Pictures of her smiling and holding a child just moments after landing and after supposedly being fired upon surfaced and she also apologized for mis-remembering.

Psychologists have a term for what both Mr. Williams and Ms. Clinton did. It’s called self-delusion. For the most part we view our lives as dull and boring. To help us cope we delude ourselves by embellishing things. Most of the time these are harmless tales, like the size of the fish that got away. Sometimes they become a little more serious, such as taking full credit on a resume for a project for which one was a team member but hardly the project leader.

The problem is exacerbated in modern society by Facebook envy. That’s a real term. It’s recognized as a mental disorder. It comes from reading the unrealistically sunny reports on your Facebook friends’ pages. On Facebook everyone vacations in tropical climes, has perfect children and the best job ever. How can you not be depressed reading that and then looking at your own cluttered living room, hearing the kids scream at each other or dreading going to work the next day because your boss is a Neanderthal troll?

The inner Walter Mitty comes out and small events become a little bigger so that our lives have more meaning.  At least that’s what we tell ourselves. That’s where the self-delusion comes in. In reality our lives are not more or less meaningful based on our accomplishments. Hillary Clinton’s life is not more meaningful because she was First Lady, a senator, presidential candidate or Secretary of State, regardless of whether or not she was fired on in Bosnia. A life has meaning not because of what one acquires but because of what one gives. As Mother Teresa said, we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.

Will Babies Become GMOs?

One of the many trends in society today is over whether or not a food is a GMO, or “genetically modified organism.” A GMO is defined as organisms (plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic makeup has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating or other natural reproduction. Making sure that the food we eat is not from GMOs is alongside eating free-range chicken or not vaccinating children because the vaccines lead to autism (a claim that finds no support in science).

Now the House of Commons in Great Britain has approved a bill that would allow using mitochondria from a second woman to replace mitochondria from a mother in order to avoid the baby’s being born with mitochondrial disease, an ailment that is passed through the mother and results in brain damage, muscle wasting, blindness, heart failure and death. The mother’s mitochondria that carries the defect is replaced with mitochondria from a second woman. While some are calling this a “three parent baby,” the fact is only about .1% of the child’s DNA comes from the second woman.

While this is clearly a boon for mothers who carry the defective mitochondria, the bill is opposed on moral, religious and ethical grounds. Some say this is the start of designer babies. It might get us to the year 6565 a lot sooner than Zager and Evans predicted in 1969:

“In the year 6565 Ain’t gonna need no husband, won’t need no wife. You’ll pick your son, pick your daughter too from the bottom of a long glass tube.”

This bill has been likened to eugenics, the “science” of improving the human race by deciding who can and cannot reproduce. In its most ugly form eugenics would prohibit certain socio-economic, racial or other classes from reproducing as a means of weeding out undesirables and improving humanity overall.

Some in favor of the bill say that religion has no place arguing against this bill. While acknowledging that moral and ethical issues are raised by the science, they claim religious objections have no place in the debate. That’s an interesting distinction to make. “Morality” is defined as the differentiation between ideas, actions and decisions that are right or good and those that are wrong or bad. The question becomes, who decides what is right or good and what is wrong or bad? Religion does have a place in this debate because religion attempts to distinguish good and correct actions from wrong and incorrect actions. In other words, religion provides a metric by which to measure ideas, actions and decisions. Without such a metric morality becomes relative, which is to say there is no good or bad, no right or wrong.

What are your thoughts? Does religion have a seat at the table in debates such this?

New NFL Rule in 2015

After last night’s Super Bowl, which New England won on a goal line interception, the NFL is considering a new rule for 2015. The rule is designed to rectify the “point inequality” that exists in the NFL and would work like this. At any time in a game the NFL can decide that one team has too many points and make a re-allocation of those points between the two teams, thus making equality in points. So far this is proposed only for individual games but insiders say that there could be league-wide re-allocations during the course of the season so that by the end of the year all teams have approximately the same number of points.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the idea for this plan came from the Obama administration’s idea of income inequality and redistribution. “The top [NFL] teams just aren’t paying their fair share in points. They’re accumulating too many and leaving 90% of the teams with less. Redistribution means that a few pay more so everyone can have more.” Further, Commissioner Goodell said, “this is just another step toward parity in the league. No one wants to watch perennial losers. It’s good for the all the teams and good for America.”

It’s just common sense that point inequality, like income inequality, fuels class tension. Imagine how the outcome of last night’s game would have been had the point equality rule been in effect. When rookie Malcolm Butler intercepted Russel Wilson’s ill-advised pass on the 1-yard line, the game was all but over. However, with Tom Brady in the end zone the Patriots couldn’t take a knee and run out the clock. They had to run one play at least and gain some ground. That play resulted in an ugly fight between the two teams.  Had the point equality rule been in effect Seattle could have been allocated two of New England’s points right after the interception, making the score 26-26. That would have eliminated any frustration on the part of the Seahawks over having fewer points than New England and avoided the messiness of the brawl.

I for one applaud Commissioner Goodell and the NFL’s move and hope this rule goes into effect before the start of the 2015 season. And thanks again to the Obama Administration for leading the way in social engineering.