Lil’ Wayne Is Back on Top, and the Drake vs Wayne Tour Proves It

Friday, August 8 marked the start of the new Lil’ Wayne vs Drake Tour in Buffalo, NY. It was pretty much a perfect evening for a concert. Just as Yo Gotti finished his opening set — “I Know” and his “Yayo” remix were fun, but the crowd was ready for the main event — a bright red sun began to set, and a full moon began to rise into a perfectly clear sky. But it wasn’t the beautiful weather that made the concert great. It wasn’t the impossibly-corny-yet-badass Street Fighter themed stage. It wasn’t even Drake, who is widely acknowledged as the best rapper in the game — even by Kanye. It was Lil’ Wayne.

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Rand Paul: A Surprising Leader on Race

The Republican Party has a race problem. Really it has several, because the party’s relationship with any racial group other than Whites is either in jeopardy or lost. This has been known and studied for some time.

Per statistics from Gallup, the composition of the Democratic Party became more racially diverse from 2008 to 2012. Democrats are now approximately 60% non-Hispanic White, 22% non-Hispanic Black, 13% Hispanic, and 2% Asian. The remainder surveyed chose not to self-identify by race.

By contrast, the Republican Party became no more diverse. It remains stuck at roughly 89% non-Hispanic White, 2% non-Hispanic Black, 6% Hispanic, and 1% Asian. Anyone can see that the Democratic Party appeals more to minority racial groups.

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Social Media and the Death of Discourse

 

Social Media Like

There is a strange cultural phenomenon that is widely practiced by the youth of today. A sort of cynical defeatism that prevents people from doing what they think is right or what is urgent. At its core is the ironic type of behavior rewarded by the internet, a damning kind of insincerity that encourages a lack of social responsibility. Although I cannot claim to fully explain this cultural development, I do seek to identify one of its many causes – and to some extent products.

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Gordon Hayward, Monta Ellis, and Breaking the “Asset Class” Mold

Over the past decade, the adoption of the word “asset” by the NBA community has resulted in a dramatic shift in the way both fans and front offices evaluate their teams.

Instead of simply looking at a player’s talent level, teams break athletes down to their component parts. Player A may be talented and ready to help a team win, but he is not a desirable asset because his contract will prevent the team from being able to make other requisite upgrades. Player B, on the other hand, may have shown few signs of promise as a rookie, but his youth, athletic potential, and cheap contract allow him to keep his “asset” designation.

Just as assets in the finance world can be grouped into stocks, bonds, real estate, and so on – NBA assets can be clustered as well. NBA asset classes include the “stars,” the “3 and D” wings, the “stretch” big men, and the “rim protectors,” among others.

In an effort to make their teams well rounded, NBA General Managers look to spread out their owners’ money across various asset classes – as an investor would in diversifying his portfolio. Often, though, casual fans can make comparable decisions to the average GM by simply sticking to the asset classes.

Giving up points to opposing forwards and slashing guards? Sign a rim protector to bolster the interior D.

Having trouble spreading the floor on offense? Look for a three-point specialist so the defense has to respect his shot and give your penetrators more space to operate.

However, every offseason there are players that are hard to place into one class. These players have the largest variations in how teams value them, but can often pay huge dividends for organizations that creatively evaluate talent.

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The Case for Andrew Wiggins (and Anthony Bennett) over Kevin Love

The Cleveland Cavaliers have won free agency. They landed LeBron James, unquestionably the best player in the world. But the offseason isn’t over yet, and rumors about the Cavs continue to swirl.

Speculation Thursday afternoon suggests that the Cavs are ready to include Andrew Wiggins in a deal for the Timberwolves’ Kevin Love. Love’s rebounding and floor-stretching shooting would certainly compliment LeBron James, but selling the farm for the 25 year old forward might not be the right decision.

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What the Hell is Happening to the American Beer Market?

 

Enter a bar or grocery store and the fact that the beer market has changed will be abundantly clear. Gone are the days of choosing between regular and light beer, or, at best, between imported and domestic as well. The world’s third most popular beverage–after water and tea– is now available in a myriad of styles, strengths, and brands. Welcome to the craft beer bonanza.

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Argentina vs. Germany: David vs. Goliath, or is it?

After a month of triumph and tragedy, wonder goals and incredible saves, the 2014 FIFA World Cup draws to a close with the final on Sunday. In a tournament marked by high drama, which has contained spectacular individual performances, remarkable underdog victories, and given birth to internet legends, the final game extends one more tantalizing taste of the world class soccer we’ve already been witness to over the past 30 days.

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American Soccer Culture and the MLS: A Roadmap

DeAndre Yedlin came up through Seattle Sounders FC’s youth academy and played college soccer at Akron, one of the most successful college programs in recent history. Born and raised in Seattle, it was fitting that after his sophomore season in college, he was signed by the Sounders to be their first internally developed player to join the parent club.

During his first season with the Sounders, he became a fan favorite and was a finalist for MLS Rookie of the Year. Despite being just twenty years old and lacking the international experience of many of his competitors, he was also named to the final World Cup roster.

Yedlin showcased great heart, capable crossing ability, and vicious speed during his time at the Cup, and left Brazil as an integral piece of the National Team’s future.

This could already be considered one of the great success stories of the ongoing growth of American soccer. A budding MLS and international star – he could be retained by the Sounders and become a key part of the potential expansion of the league that developed him.

On the other hand, a hefty transfer fee from a foreign club could be impossible for the Sounders to turn down, and Yedlin could be off to Europe to join a powerhouse and compete for international renown.

The DeAndre Yedlin case is interesting when examined as a barometer of American sentiment on soccer. Most people will comment that playing in Europe is best for a player’s development, but few will examine what needs to be done to make the MLS a league that can effectively cultivate world-class talent itself.

Like DeAndre, American soccer is young and has already made an impression on the world stage. The real question remains: will the soccer climate remain stagnant – only heating up every four years – or will real, lasting development ensue? Ensuring that the latter occurs could require some drastic changes in the American sports fan’s mindset, but nevertheless, the MLS is primed for a domestic breakout.

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Polanco, JHay, and Catching Bucco Baseball Fever

The question, “Can you believe how incredible this Polanco kid is?” was the first thing Pittsburghers asked one another – after exchanging good mornings – on June 11.

The night before, Gregory Polanco went 1-for-5 in his Major League debut for the Pirates in a night game against the Cubs. It was an opening act that featured a standing ovation before his first at-bat, his first career (scorching line drive) hit, and his first run scored. Although two feeble pop-ups to the short, a groundout to second, and a strikeout in the bottom of the ninth brought him (slightly) back down to Earth, Polanco had the fans shouting for an encore.

“He’s got a long swing, but it’s not too long, it’s completely perfect.”

“Did you see him almost beat out that ball to second? He moves like a gazelle out there and he’s barely even trying.”

“If I could pick one player to start a Major League team with, it’d be Gregory Polanco.”

Polanco-Mania had officially hit Pittsburgh, and I was ready to be swept up as well.

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The Political Economy of Game of Thrones: Commodity Money and Sovereign Debt in Westeros

This is the first in a series of posts examining the economic and political underpinnings behind certain plot elements in HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones. Warning: this piece is based solely on the television series and may contain some spoilers.  

 

Money in Westeros is often used to buy sex, arms, and influence. Virtually all characters need it, few have it, and those who feel no attraction to it are labeled as savages. Following the money in Game of Thrones is the best way to determine the real power in Westeros–and it is miles away from the Iron Throne. Furthermore, the effect of the crown’s high sovereign debt load and reliance on gold and silver for currency provides a great example of the weaknesses of commodity money. Continue Reading