In the early years of space flight, both Russians and Americans used pencils in space. Unfortunately, pencil lead is made of graphite, a highly conductive material. Snapped graphite leads and particles in zero gravity are hugely problematic, as they will get sucked into the air ventilation or electronic equipment, easily causing shorts or fires in the pure oxygen environment of a capsule.
After the fire in Apollo 1 which killed all the astronauts on board, NASA required a writing instrument that wasn’t a fire hazard. Fisher spent over a million dollars (of his own money) creating a pressurized ball point pen, which NASA bought at $2.95 each. The Russian space program also switched over from pencils shortly after.
40 years later snide morons on the internet still snigger about it, because snide morons on the internet never know what they are talking about.
(Can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had to share this deflatingly accurate correction with The Snide.)
Yesterday, a photo of Steve Spurrier coaching shirtless made the internet rounds, mostly with incorrect information that it was a new/recent thing. In fact, the picture was from last year. The confusion, however was understandable as Spurrier is but one of a grand tradition of (mostly, but not exclusively, as we shall see) southern coaches who ain’t skeered to let it all hang out. In honor of spring being right around the corner, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 greatest shirtless coaches.
10. Bruce Pearl, Tennessee
We get it, dude, you like to take your shirt off. Nobody likes you, go away. This could have been the “Top 10 Bruce Pearl Shirtless Moments,” but we don’t want the blog to end up sanctioned by the NCAA, now do we?
9. Gib Arnold. Hawaii
(Source: Hawaii Video/Vimeo)
Hawaii basketball has a lot of recruiting disadvantages due to the location, but one big-ass recruiting advantage - it’s Hawaii. We had no idea who the hell Gib Arnold was before seeing this Hawaii basketball recruiting video, and we still have no idea if he knows anything about basketball. But he can teach his players to surf. So there’s that.
8. Terry Francona, Boston Red Sox
(Source: Masshole Sports - obviously)
Who knows why he thought this was a good idea, but I’m willing to bet at least 70% of Red Sox fans have an identical picture of themselves at a party somewhere.
7. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
After this photo hit the internet a couple years back, Wisconsin fans should have known Bielema’s departure for the SEC was going to happen someday. It just feels right there.
6. Barry Switzer, Oklahoma/Dallas
(Source: The Landry Hat)
Barry Switzer would assuredly rank higher on this scientifically-ranked list if there were better evidence of his shirtless hijinks, because if there’s one coach you KNOW has engaged in shirtless hijinks/drug-running/moonshining/etc., it’s Barry Switzer. But just sitting in a chair, drinking a beer, laughing? Barry, we know you can do better.
5. Pete Carroll, USC
Nobody likes a show-off, coach. We know you’re dreamy, you don’t have to rub it in. Try dressing like that in Seattle.
4. Bill Self, Kansas
(Source: Eh, all over the internet)
Bill Self is smart. He knows it is of the utmost importance to protect his investment up top - he paid a lot of money for that hair and damned if he’s going to let the Maui surf run off with it. He gets points on this list for not just lounging in a swimsuit but actually going into the water. Way to get after it, coach.
3. Harry Kipke, Michigan
How’s your Harry Kipke? You probably didn’t even know that Harry Kipke was the head coach at Meechigan in the ’30s, much less that he had a boat called the Flo. Now you know. Motherfucker was a boat captain. WITH A BOAT CAPTAIN HAT. That’s the Michigan Difference right there.
2. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
Steve Spurrier is the dean of being shirtless. The Ol’ Ball Coach gives no fucks what you think about his middle-aged-slash-elderly body hanging out in the South Carolina breeze, because he’s Steve Fucking Spurrier. We should all be so lucky as to be Steve Spurrier’s tanned belly. Despite what you’ve seen on all the less-reputable sports sites out there in the last day, this is not a picture from this year’s spring practice. This is from last year, according to Spencer Hall, who would know.
1. Howard Schnellenberger, America
Steve Spurrier Shirtless News notwithstanding, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Spencer Hall of EDSBS over the years, it’s that Howard Schnellenberger tops the rankings (well, suspenders top the rankings. Howard Schnellenberger MAKES the rankings. I may not have learned the lesson all that well, now that I think about it. I don’t care). All the rankings. You got a problem with that, take it up with Schnelly.
Stop me if this sounds familiar:
[Jay Cutler], the quarterback, is looking particularly vulnerable. Last season, he was…Most Valuable Player, passing for a team record of 4,689 yards. In Monday night’s 31-10 defeat […] he was sacked five times and completed only 14 of 29 passing attempts. Defeat, and the constant battering… led [Cutler] to let his frustrations get the better of him in front of a national television audience, directing a stream of invective at […] the offensive co-ordinator.
[Cutler] may hold an award as Most Valuable Player, but he has little chance of winning one as most popular player. Never slow to point the finger at team mates, he cannot expect much support now that the fingers are pointing at him, but opinion is divided on whether he is a victim of [Chicago]’s poor start or its cause.
Bears fans have read these sentences, or sentences just like them, about a billion or so times in the 4 seasons since Jay Cutler came to Chicago. So what’s so special about the above quote?
It’s not about Jay Cutler (BOOM, HAMMER DROPPED). It’s a 2003 story from noted NFL journal The Times of London about Rich Gannon and the Oakland Raiders. The “offensive co-ordinator” mentioned as the subject of Gannon’s rage? You guessed it - Marc Trestman.
What’s the point here? The point is that if anyone can get a mercurial, inconsistent, physically gifted Jay Cutler to be a championship-caliber QB, it’s the guy who got the mercurial, inconsistent, physically gifted Rich Gannon to be a championship-caliber QB. I hope.
As you may have heard by now, the loosely-affiliated group of online activists who work under the banner of Anonymous released a dossier of personal information about the horrid, loathsome members of Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church. The goal is to presumably shame and expose the WBC members as the hateful trolls they are. Normally, I’d say that’s a fine goal. Unfortunately, it probably won’t work like that.
Picture taken by me - WBC protesting Bill Maher’s show in Lawrence, KS. The photo makes it look like they’re protesting Cold Stone Creamery, which is better.
Anon’s heart might be in the right place, but here’s the problem with this. The evil jackasses of Westboro Baptist Church love the attention and are probably eating this all up right now. There have been many efforts over the years to expose and shame the Phelps clan. All of them have failed - the problem is that people without shame cannot be shamed. Additionally, it’s not as most of this information is new. Most of it is publicly available - from names and addresses through IP addresses and WHOIS information. For better or worse, at least some of it is outdated and/or incorrect.
But those problems don’t bother me. If you or anyone else want to order a dozen pizzas to Margie Phelps’ house every evening, go for it. I’m not REALLY going to complain with anything that makes their lives harder or less enjoyable.
Here’s where I DO have a problem, though. One of the people listed in their “dossier” is a granddaughter of Fred Phelps and, as it happens, a former acquaintance of mine through a former job. This woman left her entire family and life behind when she made the decision to leave Westboro. She abhors everything they stand for. She is a wonderful, courageous woman…and yet, there’s her name in Anonymous’ dossier, along with the members of the church. Luckily, Anonymous isn’t that good at doing their homework and have almost ALL of her information wrong - from her address, city, phone number, and place of employment all the way up to her NAME (she’s married and no longer technically a “Phelps”). If Anonymous is going to really “wage war” on Westboro - a tactic that many before them have tried - they might want to aim carefully before they fire.
Which brings us to another issue. Not only do they have innocents in their crosshairs, several of the Phelps clan are VERY good attorneys…yes, in addition to being hateful scumbags. Attorney friends in Topeka have told me many times that the Phelps’ are very well respected professionally, if not personally. Winning/settling lawsuits directed at them is popularly assumed* to be a primary source of their income. In other words, they know their rights.
Additionally, a few members of the Phelps family either work for or alongside SRS (Kansas’ beleaguered social services agency), as explained in the Anonymous dossier. Again, I’m told by people in Topeka that the state has long been aware of their presence and would LOVE for nothing more than to be able to axe them…without a huge, costly legal battle. So what’s an “online activist” to do with all that work information? Complain to the state? They already know. Flood SRS with phone calls and letters? What the hell is that going to do? Harassing SRS, an agency already severely overworked, understaffed, and underfunded, will only serve to prevent needy Kansans from receiving services they already have a hard time receiving.
As always, the solution to Westboro Baptist Church is silence. Don’t put them on TV. Don’t give them another opportunity to make more money off a lawsuit. Marginalize them. Ignore them. That’s the only way to (legally) make them go away.
*UPDATE: James Gordon of the Ottawa (ON) Citizen tells me that WBC has only filed five civil suits and none since 2007. I may be incorrect on the sources of their income - I was just repeating the conventional wisdom. That said, the Phelps Chartered law firm exists so WBC assuredly derives some income from legal matters.
I don’t have a college degree of any kind.
It’s an embarrassing admission, one I’ve avoided publicly for the past 10 years. Sure, I went to college; indeed, I spent a lot of time there. But my college transcript is littered with Ds, Fs, and Ws. Like many things throughout my life, I didn’t take my education seriously. Oh sure, I got a lot out of college - I even got a lot out of individual classes I took. But no, I don’t have a college degree, and I have a 1.75 GPA and 36 credit hours to my name. Just one shitty, Natty Lite-filled freshman year to my name. Pretty pathetic, isn’t it?
As life went on, I was able to secure a few pretty decent jobs for someone without a college education. I’ve been in sales, I was (laughably) an admissions counselor for a trade school, I was a customer service manager for a cable company call center. And, as many people know, I was a sometime-writer for a couple different websites. It IS possible for someone with a high school diploma to do better than bagging groceries or flipping burgers. But it’s not easy.
For the past couple years, I’ve been a service advisor at a car dealership. I’m the guy who you work with when you bring your car in for service. I’m the guy who tells you you need to fix things on your car, even though all you wanted was an oil change. It’s not a dishonest job. I only tell people what their cars need. But I’m still an unwelcome messenger. The pay is pretty good - I do a lot better than a lot of people I know with even advanced degrees. But the job is monotonous and thankless and there’s not a lot of opportunity for advancement. It’s retail sales with a slightly technical twist.
Throughout all of this, there has been one constant: my mother telling me I needed to go back to school and finish my degree. No matter what new job I got over the years, while she was happy at the financial side of it, she always expressed concern that it was taking me further from that elusive bachelor’s degree.
Well now, guess what? She’s not around to tell me what to do. And that…that fucking sucks. But the one thing she DID do before she left? She left me enough money to go back to school full time to finish a degree. And that’s what I’m doing, because that’s what I want to do and that’s what SHE wanted me to do.
I don’t know what I should do, unfortunately. I don’t know where I should go. I don’t even know HOW to quite go about this. But the opportunity is there, and I have had just about enough of car dealerships and call centers. I’m smarter than all that, and thanks to my mom, I can finally show it.
This is just the best.
Matt Wieters, original photo via David Roth, who you should read.
Inspired by The Billfold’s series on rental histories, I’ve decided to list every place I’ve ever lived. Why? I dunno. I’m bored, maybe? There have been a couple months-long couchsurfing adventures sandwiched in between a few of these places, but those don’t count. I have some dignity left, and I’ll do my damndest to keep it that way.
Smithfield Cir., Jamestown Subdivision
Fitchburg, WI 53714
This is my first house, located in a suburb just to the south of Madison, WI. I don’t remember much about it other than playing in the yard and cul-de-sac. My parents have often stated their biggest regret in life is moving out of the Madison area. I can’t say I disagree.
I agree; I’m just too
lazy busy to write my own post on it.
Well, the backlash to the backlash is on. All us good-minded liberals and our Chick-Fil-A boycotts are being impugned by fellow travelers because there’s no way you can avoid every company that disagrees with your beliefs. And they’re right. My iPhone was built by Chinese slaves, my Rite-Aid…