Cleveland goes wild

The people of Cleveland are delirious today as their basketball team the Cavaliers won the NBA championship beating the Golden State Warriors 93-89. One has to have lived in this city to really appreciate the powerful emotions that are coursing through them. The city has suffered from all manner of economic difficulties in the last half century or so and like so many people in difficult economic times, they seek escapism and validation and self-worth in sports, however ephemeral that may be.
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Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)

Muhammad Ali died yesterday and the tributes are pouring in. His greatest accomplishment may have been that he persuaded so many people (including me) to become fans of a brutal activity (I cannot call it sport) that should be despised out of existence. But even more than his boxing skills, what electrified people like me around the world who detested what the US was doing to Vietnam was what he said when he refused to be drafted to fight in that horrible war.
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Please don’t thank me too soon

It happened again.

I got a notice from my university saying that there was a problem with some of the university-wide software that was resulting in some services responding very slowly or not at all, and that they were working on it and apologizing for any problems that this may be causing users. So far, so good. But then they went and added “Thank you for your patience”, something that I see frequently and also hear on recordings when you call a business and there is some waiting involved to speak to a human being.
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My love-hate (but mostly hate) relationship with Facebook

Many of you would have received the request from some business or organization to “Like us on Facebook!” If you have a Facebook account, you also get email alerts that promise updates on the ‘status’ of friends and if you click on them you will find that rather than being a significant change in their lives (new job, moved to new city, major relationship changes, etc.), it is often something really trivial, such as that they are ordering pizza. As a result of several such updates, I now don’t bother to click on them. And yet, they seem to garner a lot of ‘likes’ by their friends.
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This is the way to deal with frightened passengers

By now pretty much everyone must have heard about the academic who was taken off a plane and questioned by authorities because the passenger seated next to him while the plane was waiting to be cleared for takeoff had alerted the authorities that he was behaving suspiciously, concentrating on writing strange symbols on a piece of paper and rebuffing her attempts at conversation as she tried to find out what he was up to. It did not help that he was youngish, swarthy looking, and bearded.
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Misusing misnomer

I have recently encountered many instances of people on the radio and on TV using the word ‘misnomer’ (which has a dictionary definition of “a name that is wrong or not proper or appropriate”) when they seem to mean ‘misconception’ or ‘misunderstanding’. This interview on NPR with an Indiana congressman provides an example of this increasingly common usage. He uses the word at the 2:33 mark in response to a question that begins at around 2:00.
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Demanding too much of dancers

The heavy toll that American football takes on players leading to long-term brain damage has been much in the news recently. It has led to some reforms especially among the younger age groups but not enough. People have been more focused on the bone-crunching tackles by large players in college and professional football while the cumulative effect of many small collisions over a long time has still not been widely recognized.
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