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Jason Oliva

"What has your college education taught you?" To appreciate a greater dependence on caffeine than my own body will allow. That's the truest thing I've learned in my life as an undergrad writing major. If I were ever given an award and had to express thanks under a blinding heat lamp in front of millions, I wouldn't think of God. At least not at first. No, my saving grace would have to be caffeine (Mom, you come in at a close second). I've noticed that in my own meandering existence I've come to enjoy the things that probably won't get me paid. I like to read everything from Faulkner to Graphic Novels. I've been playing guitar for the last eight years (the last five of which good). One of these days you might see me on the red line, or in the rafters at a Potbelly's. My guilty pleasures are B-rate horror movies, kung fu (preferably dubbed), baseball and all things music. If I were to be any animal in a future life, I would be an owl. (A: because I already have a similar sleep schedule, and B: because owls aren't easily domesticated.) My favorite color is red.

Dez Bryant's babysitter

Cowboys implement rules for the wide receiver this season

Dez Bryant has had his share of off-field troubles and it seems that they have proven too much for the Dallas Cowboys, who have resorted to treating the 23-year old wide receiver like a child. A snot-nosed child who needs to be saved from himself.

Bryant, who was chosen first round by the Cowboys in the 2010 NFL Draft (No. 24 overall), was arrested in July and charged with misdemeanor domestic violence. But that’s not all. The charge was filed because Bryant assaulted his own mother.

Though disciplinary action from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has yet to be established, rules have been set by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, rules which Goodell seems to have deemed acceptable for Bryant.

Rule #1: Dezzy needs to be in by midnight. If Bryant is going to miss curfew, he needs to notify team officials in advance.

Rule #2: No booze for Bryant.

Rule #3: No strip clubs. Any club Bryant wants to attend must be approved by the Cowboys and must be accompanied by a security team.

Rule #4: Bryant must attend counseling sessions twice a week.

Rule #5: Said security team (three men) will leave one man with Bryant at all times, rotating turns to watch the receiver.

Rule #6: members of the security team will provide Bryant with rides to practices, games and team functions.

Bryant’s dysfunctional childhood can be to blame for the footballer’s unruly behavior, but the Cowboys simply will not let him fall behind. They have taken responsibility for him and with this rules system they might be able to tame the wide receiver.

But even for a man with two children of his own this shows that no matter how much money you make, if you act like a child then prepare to be treated like one.

Bill Nye bashes creationism

Evolution is key to America’s future

Bill Nye, famously known for his educational PBS show Bill Nye the Science Guy (1993-1998), protected evolutionist theory this weekend in a video for Big Think entitled “Creationism Is Not Appropriate for Children.”

Nye, a mechanical engineer turned television personality, gathered more than 1,000,000 views on his video claiming that creationism does not do children any good in the United States, one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries in the world.

In a move that outwardly—or even passive aggressively—challenges American right-wing conservatives, Nye preaches that teaching creationism is doing American youth a disservice since it undermines their scientific understanding and development. Nye also goes on to say that the U.S. needs “scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future,” as well as “engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.”

Nye also goes on to state that denial of evolution is unique to the U.S. as opposed to other places in the world, and that this denial “holds everybody back.”

Because evolution provides the evidence that life existed millions of years ago via fossils, radioactivity and star’s life cycles, it simply does not make sense to believe in creationism since it relies solely on individual belief rather than factual evidence.

Nye also encourages parents in his video rant by saying, “If you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them.”

Naturally, Nye’s comments have spurred a debate from both the left-wings and right-wings. Even 153 years later, when Darwin first published his magnum opus “The Origin of the Species” in 1859, the debate still rages between evolutionists and creationists.

Nye closes out his video with, “In another couple of centuries I’m sure that worldview won’t even exist. There’s no evidence for it.”

Terrell Owens unemployed again

Seahawks cut the 38-year old receiver after three weeks

Terrell Owens is no longer a Seahawk. The 38-year old wide receiver was released this weekend after less than three weeks with the team.

Owens’ NFL career, the debate on whether or not it is six feet under, is questionable. Seattle is now the second team this year that has cut Owens, the first being an Indoor Football League from Texas named the Allen Wranglers. Now the NFL’s no. 2 all-time receiver in both yards and touchdown catches finds himself out of work once again.

At least this time Owens managed to leave peacefully without bad blood or burning any bridges.

“I’m no longer a Seahawk,” Owens tweeted. “I THANK the organization 4 the opportunity, I’m truly blessed beyond belief. My FAITH is intact & will NOT waiver.”

Perhaps this is a more toned-down version of Owens than NFL fans are used to, the sign of a tired workhorse whose peak seasons came in 2000-2001, where the receiver caught for at least 1,400 yards and nearly totaled 30 touchdowns in the course of two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.

“We really liked the group that we assembled. Terrell came in here and busted his tail, and he looked really effective right from the start,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “But as we just took a look at our guys that are coming through the program and growing up with us, we though that it would be best for us to stay with those guys.”

Whatever is the case, Owens is at the back end of his football career since recovering from knee surgery in October. It all depends on who wants to pay a 38-year old to play in a league that idolizes youth.

Isaac another Katrina? Not quite.

Hurricane Issac arrives on seventh anniversary of Katrina

Hurricane Isaac looks to be a mirror image of Katrina, though not as severe as the tropical storm that ravaged New Orleans back in 2005. Coming nearly seven years to the date that Katrina hit stateside, the forecast for Isaac and the one for Katrina bear striking similarities.

Isaac was expected to hit land last Tuesday or Wednesday, which would have been right on time for Katrina’s seventh anniversary, but luckily for the Gulf Coast’s sake Isaac resembles more of a pipsqueak little brother compared to bruiser big sis Katrina. However, that is not to say that Isaac should be taken lightly.

Right now, Isaac is in its fledgling stage at Category 1 with 65 mph winds and moving at 14 mph about 360 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. But so far this distance is providing Isaac with ample time to get his stuff together, so to speak.

Isaac is on forecast to land near Gulfport, Miss.—10 miles from Katrina’s peak surges—late Tuesday or early Wednesday, and has even caused enough of a stir to delay the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Have no fear, Tampa, for Isaac’s eye is expected to pass well west of the site of the convention.

But as if Isaac has got a chip on its shoulder, the hurricane appears to have something to prove in the shadow of Katrina comparisons.

Isaac bashed Haiti over the weekend—killing six people in storm-related incidents—and even Cuba and the Florida Keys have faced some of its wrath, but the Category 1 hurricane is not expected to deliver as much destruction as Katrina, the most destructive storm in the past 100 years.

Currently, New Orleans has no plans for evacuation. That does not mean that the city is not prepared, if anything Mayor Mitch Landrieu is more prepared than ever.

In a lesson on learning from mistakes, Landrieu said, “We are much, much better prepared structurally than before. If you are called upon, you should leave.”

New Orleans, who was practically blindsided by Katrina’s devastation in 2005, is no longer offering the airport, convention center or the Superdome as last resort shelters.

Although Isaac will not reach the magnitude of Katrina, the hurricane could still cause a considerable amount of destruction as it Isaac is expected to reach hurricane force in a matter of two days.

According to CoreLogic, a property analysis firm, Isaac’s flooding could affect $36 billion worth of property when it matures into a Category 2 storm.

As of right now, the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida is on hurricane alert for the approaching Isaac.

Nintendo Power calls it quits after 24 years

Nintendo Power will see its last issue in December 2012

Nintendo has confirmed that it will discontinue its publication of Nintendo Power magazine after 24 years. The last issue will release December 2012, the magazine’s 281st issue, then it will be no more according to Future Publishing.

Having first been published in 1988, Nintendo Power is one of the longest-running gaming magazines in the country. The magazine turned monthly in 1990 and since then has supplied gamers of all ages with the latest gaming news.

The magazine can even be credited with the franchise boom of Super Mario, Nintendo’s poster child, as the loveable plumber often graced the magazine’s cover in the last two decades.

But with the US magazine industry facing a 10% decline in the first half of 2012, Nintendo Power has decided to close its doors on the publication after Nintendo failed to express interest in adapting the magazine with changing technological times.

Rumor has it that Nintendo was ‘difficult to work with” and did little to help expand Nintendo Power on the web, as many publications did to survive in recent years.

Not even the monthly readership of 475,000 was enough for Nintendo to take control of the decades-long publication.

Wednesday, Nintendo Power’s senior editor Chris Hoffman tweeted that he was “sad to see Nintendo Power go,” and vows to “try to make the last issues memorable.”

Editors and staffers for Nintendo Power are being transitioned to work on other Future publications following the last issue slated for December 2012.

With Nintendo Power going the way of the dodo, gamers can still rely on gaming publication Game Informer, which rose to the third most popular magazine in the country this year. Part of Game Informer’s success as a publication comes in partnership with the magazine’s relationship video game retailer GameStop, which offers customers subscriptions to Game Informer as part of its rewards program.

If Nintendo exercised as much determination in upholding its magazine as Super Mario did when repeatedly rescuing Princess Peach for 24 years, then Nintendo Power could still continue to enthrall readers and gamers alike, all the while stirring up school-yard debate on who can take who: Mario or Donkey Kong?

Maurice Jones-Drew open to trade

MJD looks to take his talents elsewhere if deal not met

Maurice Jones-Drew, running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars, continues to hold out on his $31 million contract by not attending the team’s training camp prior to the 2012 season. Going into day 27 of his hold out, MJD says that he is open to trades. 

Jones-Drew led the NFL last season with 1,606 yards rushing and feels as though he is underappreciated in Jacksonville. According to his agent, Adisa Bakari, MJD is upset with Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s comments regarding the running back’s training camp hold out.

Khan’s message to MJD is as simple as any tough loving parent’s reasoning with a headstrong child: “Train’s leaving the station. Run, get on it.”

The owner’s comments apparently left MJD in a sore spot with a statement coming from his agent saying, “Maurice wants to play for an organization that wants him and for an owner who respects him and values what he brings to a team—on the field, in the locker room and in the community.”

Khan and general manager Gene Smith have no plans to renegotiate a contract for MJD, not wanting to pay an additional sum to MJD’s already two remaining salary years.

MJD, who is scheduled to make $4.45 million in 2012 and $4.95 million in 2013, wants a new deal that would reflect his self-worth after leading the NFL last season in rushing yards. The problem is, management is not willing to abide by the running back’s requests.

So, much like a disgruntled teenager not happy with the size of her sweet sixteen, MJD has put himself on the trading block.

Since Jones-Drew remains the biggest proponent of Jaguars’ success, it would be wise for Khan and MJD to reach an agreement in the shortening weeks prior to the season’s start. After all, MJD has been the face of the struggling franchise and the only player on the team’s roster known outside small-market Jacksonville.

Who knows, if MJD throws a big enough tantrum, then he might just get his way. Either in a Jags jersey or not.

Strasburg looking to "cool off" for the Nationals

Nats ace Stephen Strasburg is looking at shorter outings as the MLB season draws down on final 40 games.

Stephen Strasburg, the Washington Nationals’ right handed pitching phenomenon, shut down the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night at Nationals Park in D.C., striking out 10 batters and giving up only one run in six innings pitched. But despite the usual stellar performance from the 24-year old hurler, Strasburg faces some bench time in his foreseeable future.

Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo looks to play it safe with Strasburg by benching him shortly into games as a way to preserve the young pitcher’s arm. Strasburg has been a subject of workload caution after he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010.

Chosen as the number one overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft, Strasburg signed a record-breaking four-year, $15.1 million contract with the Nats. And for the Nats, it has certainly paid off.

Since his rookie season in 2010, Strasburg has yet to exceed an ERA of 3.00, and has maintained a win-loss percentage of .700 over the course of three seasons. Though Strasburg only pitched 92 total innings from 2010-2011—compared to the 145 he has logged this season—the stats speak for themselves in just how valuable Strasburg is to the Nats.

In three years, Strasburg nears 300 strikeouts (299). That would put the young pitcher at about 100 Ks per season, though most of the 2011 season was spent rehabbing his right elbow.

In one of those bizarre moments when what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, Strasburg returned from his Tommy John surgery with unparalleled gusto. The kid is a force to be reckoned with. The 6’4’’ right hander has demonstrated his prowess on the mound this season, striking out 183 batters and holding down a record of 15-5, his best season thus far.

So it is no shock to see debate arise surrounding the future of Strasburg’s starting career this season. To many, the sheer thought of cooling down an asset like Strasburg seems ludicrous. Especially when the Nats are looking at one of the best seasons the club has ever had.

The Nats are 77-46 going into the last forty games of the season. They are holding down the top spot in the National League East with a seven game lead over the Atlanta Braves, who Strasburg and the Nats dealt a beating to last night in the nation’s capital.

Together as a ball club, the Nats are batting .258, but it is Nats pitching that is particularly worthy of praise.

Strasburg rounds out a young five-man pitching rotation that boasts a 3.23 ERA, that as a team, contains a W-L% of .626.

4 out of 5 of the Nats starting pitchers are well over the 100-mark in strikeouts, as well as being over .500 in win-loss record.

With a pitching staff that has demonstrated its ability to hold its own this season, perhaps the idea of a more rested Strasburg is not as bad as people think. When you are seven games ahead of a dwindling Atlanta Braves team, holstering Strasburg for future production may be the best bet for the Nats to make a push in the post season.

Strahan pegged as Ripa's new co-host

Internet spoiler alerts former NFL star’s co-host duties

Michael Strahan has been chosen as Kelly Ripa’s new co-host for her morning talk show “Live! With Kelly,” replacing longtime host Regis Philbin. The news about Philbin’s replacement was supposed to be kept under wraps until Sept. 4, but knowing the omniscient powers of the Internet, it was only a matter of time until the surprise leaked.

Strahan, a former NFL defensive end and Super Bowl XLII champion, has served as a guest host on “Live! With Kelly” in the past. Formerly one of the 59 guest hosts brought on by Ripa in Philbin’s absence, Strahan’s position as co-host looks to be permanent.

“Live! With Kelly” is the latest benchmark for Strahan, who after his football career turned to commentating, product endorsing (Subway) and sitcom star of the short-lived Fox program “Brothers.”

News of Strahan’s new gig surfaced after a representative of the retired NFL star was spotted Tuesday outside the talk show’s ABC building at 67th and Columbus in New York City. Wearing his satisfaction on his face, the representative was reported as grinning ear to ear by TMZ.

ABC said Monday that Ripa’s new co-host will be announced Sept. 4, in a surprise move in which her new partner’s identity will be revealed as he joins her onstage. But thanks to TMZ and the Internet’s viral grapevine, America can finally rest easy knowing that Kelly no longer has to fly solo.

Strahan, who stands in at 6’5’’ and 275lbs, should not find trouble in filling Regis’ shoes.

"Teen Mom" Amber Portwood signs away custody rights

Portwood gives boyfriend Gary Shirley full custody of daughter Leah

Amber Portwood, 22, of the MTV show “Teen Mom” waived custody rights of her child Leah, three, to her on-again off-again boyfriend Gary Shirley. The decision comes after Portwood’s conviction of a felony drug charge and five-year prison sentence, evidence that was captured on tape by the maternity train wreck program.

Portwood, who was first arrested in November 2010 on felony domestic violence charges following the airing of her on-screen abuse towards boyfriend Gary Shirley, finds herself back in legal troubles.

The not so teen mom was arrested again in December 2011, when a probation search uncovered “a fairly sufficient amount of several different prescription pills” that were not prescribed to her. Portwood then served more than a month in jail before coming to a plea deal for her felony drug charge.

The plea included a drug rehab program, which Portwood dropped out of in May 2012 after failing a urine test and lying about it. So, the teen mom decided to opt out and take the five year prison sentence, thus granting Leah’s father, Gary Shirley, full custody.

Portwood, who admitted to mental problems during her rehab program, has signed away full parenting rights to Shirley and hopes to get her life back on track while serving her time in an Indiana state prison. Hopefully now, CPS will call off their hounds for the young couple.

“I’m not just going to sit,” Portwood assured viewers. “I’m going to substance abuse classes. I’m going to get my GED.”

 

Melky Attempts a Cover-Up

Melky’s web campaign tries to discredit doping allegations

Melky Cabrera, who was caught violating the MLB’s illegal substance policy last week, has taken his cleats and dug himself into deeper problems. The season-streaking slugger has been raking for the San Francisco Giants, putting up career numbers in contention with the National League batting title. Now it seems that in a last ditch effort to save face, Cabrera has fallen on his mug hard and may even jeopardize his future with the Giants.

Cabrera, who is currently serving a 50 game suspension for elevated levels of testosterone, is said to have had representatives hire a “paid consultant” to purchase a web site for which to market a fake sports cream. The effect being that Cabrera could say he had no idea the cream carried a banned substance.

Before his suspension, Cabrera was hitting .346 (the second highest in the N.L.) and was named the 2012 All-Star MVP. Now instead of closing in on the N.L. MVP race, Melky’s found himself with both MLB and the FDA on his trail.

Criminal investigative agent for the FDA, Jeff Novitzky, is considering Cabrera’s case. Novitzky, whose investigations have included Barry Bonds, Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong, is a bloodhound when it comes to athlete doping.

Safe to say Cabrera is guilty. There’s no doubt about that, unlike Brewers all-star Ryan Braun who successfully beat his juicing allegations. Melky on the other hand comes off as a schemer trying to pull the wool over fans’ and officials’ eyes with his faux product-endorsing website scam.

Cabrera, who was once a slugging savior for the Giants, has now fallen under criticism for his ploy.

San Jose Mercury sports columnist, Tim Kawakami calls Cabrera “ worse than guilty .” Kawakami also goes on to call Cabrera a “failed, guilty deceiver” for his attempts at trying to salvage his blemished reputation. 

In a sport that year after year turns up new cases of performance enhancing drugs, should we really be that surprised when a rising star turns out to be a juicer?

If there is anything baseball has taught us in recent years, it is that some things are usually too good to be true.