The entire 2013 NFL season was just a warmup… for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

malcolm smith superbowl mvp

On Tuesday, Russell Wilson and Zach Miller helped Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll (always) compete in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:

At first, that might just look like an ordinary Ice Bucket Challenge — but all this has happened before, and all this will happen again:

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The pettiest collateral damage from deteriorating U.S.-Israel relations


The relationship between the United States and Israel has been better. The Wall Street Journal published an article yesterday, titled “Israel Outflanks the White House on Strategy: White House Now Scrutinizing Israeli Requests for Ammunition“, that claims “U.S.-Israeli relations [are at their] lowest point since President Barack Obama took office.”

The article took pains to differentiate between Israel’s relationships with the U.S. Military and with Congress on the one hand, and the Obama administration on the other. To illustrate this divide, the article detailed the diplomatic fallout of Israel’s request for more American ammunition during Operation Protective Edge:

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One thing to remember about the back and forth over “Genie, You’re free!”


One of — if not the most — iconic reaction to Robin Williams’ tragic passing was the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Aladdin-inspired tribute to the comic legend. Surely, you’ve seen it:

Like any major news story, Williams’ death has spawned a veritable ecosystem of sideshows and distractions (an ecosystem to which I admittedly love to add).

One such offshoot revolves around the Academy’s tweet, which has come under some criticism for allegedly aggrandizing Williams’ decision to take his own life. According to one widely-shared piece in The Washington Post:

More than 270,000 people have shared the tweet, which means that, per the analytics site Topsy, as many as 69 million people have seen it.

The problem? It violates well-established public health standards for how we talk about suicide.

“If it doesn’t cross the line, it comes very, very close to it,” said Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Suicide should never be presented as an option. That’s a formula for potential contagion.”

I’ll readily admit Moutier might have a point. Suicide is not something that should be encouraged.

But here’s the thing: a lot of people might have shared the same tribute before the cause of Williams’ death became clear, of simply without knowing the circumstances surrounding his passing. Take, for instance, the very first time* “Genie, You’re free” appeared on Twitter Tuesday:

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A thoroughly unimportant Robin Williams story: I Dream With Genie


I really like coincidences, but I’ll keep this one short so as not to dwell on the subject.

Last week, I went on a short camping trip with my brothers. Since we were only sleeping outside for one night, I had plenty of room in my backpack and packed myself a pillow. After returning to civilization, I didn’t want to put the outdoors-encrusted pillow onto an otherwise fresh bed, so I grabbed a fresh pillowcase from my closet.

The case I pulled out gave me brief pause. I remember thinking to myself it had been a long time since I’d seen — or even thought about — it. A decade, at least. I slept with it every night starting around third grade, but it was somehow phased out of the rotation and ended up forgotten, toward the bottom of the pile. It only happened to be next in line last week because my whole family is home at the same time, which is a relatively rare occurrence — and even then, only because I happened to use an extra pillowcase for camping.

Anyway, I didn’t pay the pillowcase any unusual mind, until I went to bed on Monday:

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The only time it’s acceptable to chant “U-S-A!”


I’m not the kind of person who chants “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” — so much so that I managed to watch a number of #USMNT World Cup matches in the company of others and never once felt the urge to join them in chanting the proud acronym of my home country.

Yes, I love the United States, but that particular expression of adoration just makes me uncomfortable. Probably has something to do with the fact that it’s often directed at people like Puerto Rican RNC officials, men kissing, predominantly-Hispanic high school basketball teams, buses full of immigrant women and children, and doubtless countless others. In other words — specifically, the words of Ruben Navarette — “it is used to put another group of Americans in its place by implying — solely because of race, ethnicity, heritage or skin color — that they’re not real Americans or “not American enough.” That’s certainly not very nice.

But even when the target is actual, verifiable, cold-blooded un-Americans — say, at international sporting events — there is still good reason to consider U-S-A! nothing more than an “infantile display of hyper-patriotism“. In case you need more reason for my dislike, I will simply note that according to Wikipedia, “U-S-A! is a chant . . . first documented at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany” — and those were pretty much the worst Olympics of all time. All time.

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How disingenuous is Egyptian claim that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is “inhumane”?

israel gaza border

Reports the Jerusalem Post:

Egypt: Israeli blockade ‘inhumane’

Egypt’s foreign ministry said that the country’s border with Gaza at Rafah remains open, despite media reports claiming the border was closed with exceptions for humanitarian or aid transfers.

“Since Israeli attacks commenced, Egypt has been adamant in keeping the Rafah crossing open continuously and exceptionally to allow for the passage of people and humanitarian aid convoys and to receive the wounded,” said the ministry in a statement, Ahram Online reported on Sunday.

[A]ccusations that Egypt was keeping the border closed are “in complete contradiction to facts on the ground.” In fact, the ministry said, it is Israel that continues its “inhumane” blockade on Gaza. The ministry demanded the blockade be lifted.

That’s sort of a funny demand from Egypt’s foreign ministry given that, according to the New York Times (and many others not cited here), Hamas’s latest attacks on Israel were really just a proxy fight against Egypt:

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