Archive for the ‘people’ Category

From  Elitefeet.com

cliff-young-waveThe legendary story of Cliff Young is already known to many runners. If you’re aren’t familiar with it, you’re in for a fascinating read.

An Unlikely Competitor

Every year, Australia hosts 543.7-mile (875-kilometer) endurance racing from Sydney to Melbourne. It is considered among the world’s most grueling ultra-marathons. The race takes five days to complete and is normally only attempted by world-class athletes who train specially for the event. These athletes are typically less than 30 years old and backed by large companies such as Nike.

In 1983, a man named Cliff Young showed up at the start of this race. Cliff was 61 years old and wore overalls and work boots. To everyone’s shock, Cliff wasn’t a spectator. He picked up his race number and joined the other runners.

The press and other athletes became curious and questioned Cliff. They told him, “You’re crazy, there’s no way you can finish this race.” To which he replied, “Yes I can. See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d always catch them. I believe I can run this race.”

When the race started, the pros quickly left Cliff behind. The crowds and television audience were entertained because Cliff didn’t even run properly; he appeared to shuffle. Many even feared for the old farmer’s safety.

The Tortoise and the Hare

All of the professional athletes knew that it took about 5 days to finish the race. In order to compete, one had to run about 18 hours a day and sleep the remaining 6 hours. The thing is, Cliff Young didn’t know that!

When the morning of the second day came, everyone was in for another surprise. Not only was Cliff still in the race, he had continued jogging all night.

Eventually Cliff was asked about his tactics for the rest of the race. To everyone’s disbelief, he claimed he would run straight through to the finish without sleeping.

Cliff kept running. Each night he came a little closer to the leading pack. By the final night, he had surpassed all of the young, world-class athletes. He was the first competitor to cross the finish line and he set a new course record.

When Cliff was awarded the winning prize of $10,000, he said he didn’t know there was a prize and insisted that he did not enter for the money. He ended up giving all of his winnings to several other runners, an act that endeared him to all of Australia.

Continued Inspiration
In the following year, Cliff entered the same race and took 7th place. Not even a displayed hip during the race stopped him.

Cliff came to prominence again in 1997, aged 76, when he attempted to raise money for homeless children by running around Australia’s border. He completed 6,520 kilometers of the 16,000-kilometer run before he had to pull out because his only crew member became ill. Cliff Young passed away in 2003 at age 81.

Today, the “Young-shuffle” has been adopted by ultra-marathon runners because it is considered more energy-efficient. At least three champions of the Sydney to Melbourne race have used the shuffle to win the race. Furthermore, during the Sydney to Melbourne race, modern competitors do not sleep. Winning the race requires runners to go all night as well as all day, just like Cliff Young.


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Christian the Lion

In 1969, Australian John Rendall and his friend Ace Bourke (whose surname is often rendered as “Berg”), both of whom were then living in London, bought a lion cub named Christian from Harrods department store, as the former recounted for the Daily Mail in 2007:

“A friend had been to the ‘exotic animals’ department at Harrods and announced, rather grandly, that she wanted a camel,” says Rendall.  “To which the manager very coolly replied: ‘One hump or two, madam?'”Ace and I thought this was the most sophisticated repartee we’d ever heard, so we went along to check it out — and there, in a small cage, was a gorgeous little lion cub. We were shocked. We looked at each other and said something’s got to be done about that.” Harrods, it turned out, was also quite keen to be rid of Christian, who had escaped one night, sneaked into the neighbouring carpet department — then in the throes of a sale of goatskin rugs — and wreaked havoc. The store, which had acquired the cub from Ilfracombe zoo, happily agreed to part with him for 250 guineas. So began Christian’s year as an urban lion.

For the next year the two men (along with Rendall’s girl friend and an actress) raised the cub in the Sophistocat furniture shop, where Christian had living quarters in the basement, and the lion became a popular local figure. However, when Christian grew from his initial 35 lb. to 185 lb. within a year, his keepers realized their lion would need to be relocated to a more suitable environment.

By chance, one day Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna — the stars of the 1966 film Born Free — wandered into Sophistocat looking for a desk. The actors suggested that conservationist George Adamson (whose wife, Joy, wrote the book Born Free about their real-life experiences in raising a lion cub and rehabilitating it into the wild) might be able to help find an appropriate home for Christian.

Rendall and Berg flew with Christian to Nairobi, Kenya, where they met up with George Adamson, who helped the lion settle into living an independent life (and integrating into a pride with other lions) in Kenya’s Kora Reserve. The followinng video clip shows scenes from the two men’s final reunion with Christian several years later:

John Rendall and Ace Berg continued to make sporadic visits to Kenya, but mostly they followed Christian’s adventures from afar. Finally, in 1974, George Adamson wrote to say that the pride was self-sufficient. Christian was defending it. There was a litter of cubs. They were feeding themselves and rarely returned to camp.The King’s Road lion had finally adapted to the wild. This was a bittersweet moment for all concerned. Rendall and Ace decided to travel to Kora one last time, in the hope of being able to say goodbye, though Adamson warned them that it would almost certainly be a wasted mission.” Christian hasn’t been here for nine months. We have no reason to think he’s dead — there have been no reports of lions poached or killed. But he may never come back,” he said. Rendall recalls, “We said: ‘OK. We appreciate that, but we’ll come anyway and see you.’ “They flew to Nairobi then took a small plane to the camp in Kora, where Adamson came out to meet them. “Christian arrived last night,” he said simply. “He’s here with his lionesses and his cubs. He’s outside the camp on his favourite rock. He’s waiting for you.” Adamson and his wife Joy often talked about the mysterious, apparently telepathic communication skills of lions — particularly between lions and men. Both believed that lions were possessed of a sixth sense and George was convinced that a scientific explanation would one day be found. And here, it seemed, was the proof. “Christian stared at us in a very intense way,” says Rendall.” I knew his expressions and I could see he was interested. We called him and he stood up and started to walk towards us very slowly. “Then, as if he had become convinced it was us, he ran towards us, threw himself on to us, knocked us over, knocked George over and hugged us, like he used to, with his paws on our shoulders.

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Heroes and monsters

About this talk

Philip Zimbardo knows how easy it is for good people to turn bad. In this talk, he shares insights and graphic unseen photos from the Abu Ghraib trials. Then he talks about the flip side: how easy it is to be a hero.

About Philip Zimbardo

Philip Zimbardo was the leader of the notorious 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment — and an expert witness at Abu Ghraib.

Click here to see the video of Philip’s talk.

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From CNN

They drive hybrid cars, if they drive at all; shop at local stores, if they shop at all; and pay off their credit cards every month, if they use them at all.

Brad Marshland, a successful filmmaker, and his family dry their clothes on a line and grow their own vegetables.

They may have disposable income, but whatever they make, they live below their means in a conscious effort to tread lightly on the Earth. (among other reasons)

They are a new breed of Gen Xers and Ys, Young and Wealthy but Normal, or Yawns.

The acronym comes from The Sunday Telegraph of London, which noted that an increasing number of rich young Britons are socially aware, concerned about the environment and given less to consuming than to giving money to charity.

Yawns sound dull, but they are the new movers and shakers, their dreams big and bold. They are men and women in their 20s, 30s and 40s who want nothing less than to change the world and save the planet.

Take Sean Blagsvedt, who moved from Seattle to India in 2004 to help build the local office of Microsoft Research. Moved by young children begging on the streets, Blagsvedt quit Microsoft and launched two networking sites, babajob.com and babalife.com, to link India’s vast pool of potential workers with the people who need labor. The larger goal: to reduce poverty.

Far from the techie cafe life, Blagsvedt, 32, lives at babajob’s headquarters in Bangalore, a 3,000-square-foot apartment where his mother and stepfather also live and 15 workers come and go every day.

“I’m a happy person,” he said. “It’s great to do something that you believe in doing.”

The high-tech world has spawned some Yawns, but they can sprout anywhere. In fact, Yawns are a subset of a growing global movement of the eco-socially aware. The state of the economy and the state of the planet have inspired people to consider what they buy and how they spend in ways not seen since the “Small is Beautiful” and ecology movements of the 1970s.

The movement makes perfect sense, said David Grusky, a sociologist at Stanford University, since society tends to follow cycles. Anti-materialist periods like the hippie movement generate a pro-materialist reaction, the yuppie period, and so on. Not to mention, he adds, that the evidence of major climate change and a concern with terrorism gives rise to more interest in spiritual as opposed to material objectives.

The upshot, he said, is that “a cultural and demographic ‘perfect storm’ may well push us decisively toward an extreme form of postmaterialism in the upcoming period.”

That helps explain why Earth Day has become so big again, why products are all going “green” and whyfreecycle.org, an Internet community bulletin board where members offer items for free, has grown in five years from a dozen members in Tucson, Arizona, to a network of more than 3,000 cities in 80 countries.

Deron Beal, the site’s founder, counts 4 million members and growing by 20,000 to 50,000 members each week.

“People have many reasons for freecycling,” Beal said. “But the biggest reason is environmental: reusing and recycling instead of helping create more waste.”

Could it also be that we are sick to death of buying stuff?

Pam Danziger, a consumer trends expert, thinks so. “The green thing is just a small part of it,” said Danziger, whose firm, Unity Marketing, has research showing that luxury spending is way down.

“Americans have been on a buying binge for the last 10 years,” she said. “Our closets are full. Our attics are full. Our garages are full. Enough already!”

Yawns live small, but they already own whatever they want.

Rik Wehbring, a 37-year-old dot-com millionaire — he worked for multiple startups — limits himself to living on $50,000 a year. That’s no chump change but well below what he could spend in San Francisco, where his rent eats up 40 percent of his allotted spending. Wehbring doesn’t own a television, his mp3 player cost $20 (“and it works just fine”), and he drives (when he drives) a Toyota Prius.

He buys most of his food from local farmers’ markets, is leaving the bulk of his estate to various environmental organizations and donates money to what he considers worthy causes. Every day, he grapples with “how to live a low-carbon life.”

But Wehbring doesn’t buy clothes, or much of anything.

“I don’t need a lot of material possessions,” he said. “I haven’t had to buy anything in a while.”

Such frugality seems to run in his circle.

Brad Marshland, 44, the husband of Wehbring’s cousin, is a successful filmmaker living near Berkeley, California. He and his wife and two sons, ages 10 and 12, dry their clothes on a line, grow their own vegetables and buy what they need at garage sales and second-hand stores. (Second-hand stores are to Yawns what the Gap was to Yuppies.)

“We’re pretty low on the ‘stuff’ scale,” Marshland said.

Marshland offsets his family’s “carbon footprint” — how much energy it uses — by donating money to environmental groups online.

Yawns hate ostentation.

When Ray Sidney, a software engineer at Google, cashed in his stock options in 2003, they yielded him more money than he could ever burn through in his lifetime. (Billions? He won’t say.) But instead of building himself a 10,000-square foot mansion in the Googledom of Silicon Valley, he retired to a four-bedroom house in Stateline, Nevada, and started giving money away.

He has given $400,000 to a local arts council to help build an arts center, $1 million to a bus company to help launch a route so that casino workers wouldn’t have to rely on private transportation to get to and from work, and $1.7 million for a football field and track at a local high school, for example.

Sidney also donates millions to charities that try to cure diseases or save the world.

His one rich-guy, carbon-hogging guilt trip: a single-engine plane he flies about once a week to see his girlfriend in San Francisco.

But his pet project these days is pure Yawn. He is building “an environmentally friendly affordable housing development” on 100 acres near his home in Stateline.

“This world and our society and the people in it are good and worthwhile,” he said by way of explanation, “and I think it’s worth spending money to keep it around and try to improve it.”

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Maps can be for finding directions or for surveying an area. Here are four that tell completely different things.

Click here to read more (digg story)

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By Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock brings his edgy and thought-provoking style to FOXSports.com. Columnist for the Kansas City Star, he has won the National Journalism Award for Commentary for “his ability to seamlessly integrate sports and social commentary and to challenge widely held assumptions along the racial divide.”
September 11, 2008, 3:39 PM EST

(link back to original article)

I’m going to do my best to avoid turning this into an I-told-you-so column.

But the truth is, I told you before the 2006 draft that Vince Young was primed for NFL failure. He entered the league with an attitude, mindset and supporting cast totally unprepared to survive the pressure, challenge and responsibility that goes along with the most prestigious and difficult job in all of sports.

When I explained all of this in 2006, my naive and misguided critics called me an Uncle Tom. Yeah, they ripped me for attempting to issue a young black kid a warning about what awaited him in The League and the attitude he would need to cope and excel.

Some people foolishly think it’s every black media member’s job to assist in the mental and emotional crippling of black youth. We’re supposed to blow rainbows up the asses of every black athlete who “makes it” and assure him/her that anyone who utters a word of criticism is a jealous bigot or irrational sellout.

So, no, I’m not surprised Vince Young tried to quit in the middle of Sunday’s game after throwing a second interception and hearing boos from Titans fans frustrated by his inability to read a defense or throw accurately. I’m not all that shocked that two days later Jeff Fisher called the police and asked them to hunt down his inconsistent quarterback. I’m not surprised the Titans team psychologist is apparently worried that Vince Young is suffering depression.

And I’m really not surprised that Vince Young’s mother told The Tennessean that her baby boy needs a little space and a lot of love and support.

The question is, when Young rebounds from his emotional abyss and recovers from his knee injury, what kind of love and support are we going to give him? Are the people who already love Young going to replant their heads in Young’s rear end and their hands in his wallet? Or will a few people within Team Vince do the right thing and level with him about what he needs to do to make it in the NFL as a quarterback?

Vince Young, like a lot of young African-American men, desperately needs to hear the truth from the people who love him. Too often we pave the road to failure for black boys by believing the cure for bigotry — and there is still plenty of bigotry in America — is the ability to recognize it in (and blame it for) everything. That cure has more negative side effects than most of the drugs trumpeted by the pharmaceutical companies in television commercials. That cure serves as a convenient crutch, and turns a talent such as Vince Young into a quitter the moment adversity strikes. That cure helped land Michael Vick in jail.

Everyone told Vince Young and Michael Vick the NFL would be easy. They’d revolutionize the QB position with their legs, and they could pop bottles, roll with a posse and pretend to be Jay-Z in their spare time.

It just doesn’t work. Not for Young or Vick. Not for Matt Leinart. Not for anyone who wants to star at the position and avoid the boo-birds.

No one revolutionizes the starting quarterback position. The position revolutionizes the person playing it. Just ask Donovan McNabb. He figured it out and changed his game. Over the objection of idiots, McNabb developed his skills as a pocket passer. He concentrated on becoming a student of the game. If he can stay healthy over the next three or four years, McNabb will surpass Warren Moon as the best black quarterback ever to play the game.

Unfortunately, there are still people, especially black people, who don’t appreciate McNabb. They think he let “us” down by de-emphasizing his athleticism, and they criticize him for being cozy with his organization the way Peyton Manning is with the Colts and Brady is with the Patriots.

McNabb doesn’t get to enjoy the luxury of being a company man the way other franchise QBs in their prime do.

But McNabb has never threatened to quit or asked out of a game because the Philly fans were too rough. McNabb understands that in some instances the scrutiny of a black quarterback might be a tad more intense than that of a white one. He also understands that the best way to combat it isn’t whining. It’s performance. It’s work ethic. It’s professionalism.

It’s not a coincidence that McNabb comes from a supportive, two-parent household.

I bring that up not to castigate Vince Young and his mother. I don’t even know the story of Young’s upbringing.

I raise the issue to point out that in modern professional sports — with the astronomical players’ salaries — ownership and management examine the upbringing of the athletes and factor that into their decision-making.

Vick’s failure, Young’s potential failure and the guaranteed money they were given will make ownership more reluctant to anoint another kid from the ‘hood a franchise quarterback straight out of college.

It’s not about color. It’s about fitting the profile of someone who can handle all that goes along with being an NFL quarterback. If I’m an owner, I spend my quarterback dollars on young men who were raised by strong fathers. It wouldn’t be an infallible system, but on average I bet I’d hit more winners than if I turned over the leadership of my team to a kid who isn’t used to having a strong male authority figure.

As black people, we need to ask ourselves whether we are doing a good job preparing our boys for positions of immense leadership, responsibility and scrutiny. 

You are going to get criticized playing quarterback. If your instinct is to dismiss the criticism as racist, maybe you shouldn’t play the position. If you are surrounded by people who spend every waking minute telling you that you can do no wrong and that everyone who criticizes you is a bigot, then maybe you shouldn’t play quarterback.

The position requires thick skin and genuine self-confidence. If you need four or five male groupies with you at all times, a half million dollars of jewelry around your neck and wrists and a dozen tattoos to feel confident, then maybe you should play wide receiver or start rapping.

The average NFL fan has no idea how much time a franchise spends working on self-esteem issues with a typical player. You think these guys are self-assured. Many of them are not. They self-medicate with booze, drugs, steroids, bling, women and attention-getting stunts such as name changes.

Remember when Terrell Owens’ assistant claimed he had 25 million reasons to live? It was an accidental moment of clarity and honesty. Too many players have their whole sense of self-worth tied up in their contracts.

It doesn’t take much to crack a man with no real identity, especially if he’s grown accustomed to having all of his shortcomings rationalized.

You can e-mail Jason Whitlock at Ballstate68@aol.com.

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