Saturday, March 23, 2024

March Madness and Sports Betting is a Bad Combination for Gambling Addicts

Straight up.

The Supreme Court screwed up big when they struck down the ban on sports betting in 2018.

Now Americans who fight gambling addictions are facing massive sports betting temptations on a scale that would make the old-time bookies lose their cookies!

Not so long-ago watching sports on TV or listening to them on the radio were a fresh break from the evils of corporate gambling. Stars like baseball's Pete Rose were banned from the game and denied a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame because they betted on sports events.

Now look at March Madness where the best men's and women's college basketball team challenge each other... and have been contributing to the skyrocketing legal sports betting industry since 2018.

For decades March Madness betting in office pools offered employees a chance at winning a jackpot. A harmless event that didn't make headlines in Las Vegas sporting parlors.

According to the American Gaming Association, which promotes gambling, Americans made $120 billion in sports bets in 2023.

This year the group predicts Americans will place $2.7 billion in legal bets on March Madness alone!

How did we come to this place where the love and integrity of sports has been diluted into another get rich quick scheme?

Jay L. Zagorsky is an associate professor of markets, public policy and law at Boston University who has been studying March Madness and sports betting for years. He offers an explanation of why legal sports betting became acceptable.

"Studying sports betting has shown me how valuable it is for states short on cash. Unfortunately, it also has significant drawbacks, especially for gambling addicts and their families," Zagorsky said in a recent article on the subject.

So, it's a money-maker for cash-strapped states and gaming companies but not so good for one segment of Americans - gambling addicts.

As of this month, 38 states allow some form of sports gambling, and six more are debating the issue. The need for more revenue for these states is an appealing option to politicians.

Apparently, to my surprise, state revenues from so-called "sin taxes" have flatlined after adjusting for inflation. People are smoking and drinking less, reducing revenue from cigarette and alcohol taxes. Even lottery revenue has flattened out after growing for decades, according to the experts.

As it Stands, sports betting is a gamble to save states (it too will flatline someday) at the expense of vulnerable Americans.

Friday, March 22, 2024

'Crazy Days and Nights in the USA' Would Make a Good Book

Think of the potential.

If someone wanted to write a book about the year 2024, they'd have a wealth of characters and sub plots regarding this year's presidential election.

Every good fiction book I've ever read has believable heroes and great villains who provide a clear contrast of good and evil.

Setting the scene...

The Republican party has folded up its tent and is now the party of one of the greatest con man in history - Donald Trump. In our fictional account we'll call him Thump. He's running for re-election in November after losing his last attempt in 2020.

Thump's resume includes being the first US president to be impeached twice and charged with 88 felony counts in four different jurisdictions for (among things) trying to overthrow the last election and stealing top secret documents from the government.

Throw in Thump's recent conviction for being a rapist, and his major fraud conviction, and you have the foundation for a great villain.

President Biden - we'll call him President Goodman - is Thump's foil. He stands as a bulwark against the MAGA cult, representing sanity, honesty, and a conviction to help all Americans regardless of their skin color and gender.

Think about the cast of characters you as the writer can draw from in Congress, our judicial system, state and federal politicians, crazed activists calling Thump "Our Lord," and so much more.

You could describe how Thump's followers left their caves and basements in 2016 to elect Thump and the ruinous effect they've had in this country for the last eight years.

Talk about a thriller.

Will our Constitutional Democracy survive if President Goodman isn't re-elected?

Will America become a fascist state with a supreme leader for life?

This book would have all the elements of a great novel. The suspense caused by a corrupt Supreme Court, and the fact that millions of Americans are under the spell of Orange Jesus, would keep any reader on edge waiting to see the results of the election.

As it Stands, speaking of books... my good friend journalist and author Woody Woodburn just released a new book titled "The Butterfly Tree: An Extraordinary Saga of Seven Generations." 

I highly recommend it. It's now available at Amazon and other online stores or ordered at your favorite local bookshop.

I'll be writing a review of it in the near future. Stay tuned. 

Thursday, March 21, 2024

A Gene-Edited Pig Makes History: First-Ever Kidney Transplant to Human is Successful

Somewhere in an undisclosed Midwestern location there is a special farm that raises genetically altered pigs.

One of those pigs made medical history recently when it was flown to Boston for a transplant procedure where it donated its life and kidney to Richard "Rick" Slayman of Weymouth, Massachusetts.

It was the first time a genetically modified pig kidney was transplanted into a person.

It was also the first time someone survived with that organ from another species.

Mr. Slayman is due to be released from the hospital within a couple of days. After a four-hour surgery he managed to walk 20 laps around the hospital's transplant unit.

Researchers have been working for decades trying to find a way to use pig organs as replacements for human ones. 

That day has come.

Pig organs make sense for transplant because they are roughly the right size for people, are relatively similar biologically, and are already being bred by the billions for food, so sacrificing them for the organs raises fewer ethical concerns that using primates would.

Now that researchers have overcome one of the most formidable barriers to transplantation - rejection - it could be on its way to FDA approval someday for routine use.

The modification of pig genes has made them more compatible with people by improving the drug regimen to reduce the risk of rejection, and by providing enough evidence through animal-to human transplants to make researchers and patients feel comfortable testing in people.

Another historical note, Massachusetts General was the site of the first human-to human organ transplant, in 1954, when an identical twin donated his kidney to his brother.

The future for animal-to human transplants is a lot brighter now than it was, but there's still a long way to go before most Americans will benefit from it.

As it Stands, I can't wait until animal-to-human brain transplants are available. It would be a huge upgrade for Donald Trump!

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Protecting A Legacy: Kennedy Family Backs Biden

Imagine for a moment that a member of your family, the real crazy one, suddenly appeared on the national scene spewing conspiracy theories and running for president.

That's what happened to the proud Kennedy clan when Robert F. Kennedy decided to run for president as a third-party candidate this year.

Having established his right-wing credentials by being a top vaccine denier, RFK Jr emerged from the swamp of conspiracy theorists and QAnon as a chief disseminator of misinformation about the deadly COVID virus.

Kennedy Family Fights Back

Photo: President Biden greets Kennedy clan on St. Patrick's Day at the White House. Kerry Kennedy, the seventh of Robert and Ethal Kennedy's eleven children and president of the family foundation, played a lead role in organizing the family photo to support President Biden.

Kerry Kennedy has also taken the lead on helping President Biden's candidacy by organizing family member's political work.

Stephan Kennedy Smith posted the Rose Garden photo afterwards, warning that his cousin could hand the election to Trump and "put our democratic process at risk."

The Democratic National Committee announced this week that Mary Beth Cahill, a former chief of staff to Sen. Ted Kennedy will serve as senior advisor in the party's efforts to counter third party candidates.

The Kennedy family is doing everything they can to preserve their legacy, even going after one of their own in favor of democracy.

As a kid I idolized John F. Kennedy. He was a military hero and president of the United States. When he was assassinated, I was crushed.

To think a member of his own family is now threatening to help a wannabee dictator by being a political spoiler, is beyond the pale.

As it Stands, Biden is going to need all the help he can to stay in the White House. Hopefully the Kennedy clan's efforts will make a positive difference.

Monday, March 18, 2024

It's Time to Pay Up Donnie!

It's looks like there will be some prime real estate going on the market soon in New York City.

Convicted rapist and former president Trump is unable to post the bond to satisfy the $464 million civil fraud judgement against him.

Now it's time to pay up. Time to grab Donnie by the wallet and watch him whine. 

His lawyers, in another last moment appellate court filing pleaded with the judge to secure the bond in a lesser amount. 

Alina Habba and Clifford Robert - Trump's lawyers - proposed a far lesser amount to a skeptical Judge Arthur Engoron.

Habba and Robert claimed, "Obtaining such cash through a 'fire sale' of real estate holdings would inevitably result in massive, irrecoverable losses - textbook irreparable injury."

The judge said no. The full amount must be posted in order to file the appeal. Period. End of the story.

No one should be surprised that Don the Con is having such a tough time securing bond.

The surety companies have not allowed the Trump Organization to use its properties as collateral, leaving the company with the only option of posting 120% of the bond in the form of cash and cash equivalents, totaling $557, 491,716.

Trump's attorneys, while claiming the company is in a strong liquidity position, admit Trump does not have that much in cash or equivalents. Isn't that too bad?

No amount of whining and wailing will change Trump's situation. For the second time (the E.J. Carroll case cost him 91 million) in his life Trump is the one paying the piper for his corruption.

As it Stands, I will be watching with pleasure when the state puts up Trump Tower (and his other properties) for sale. It'll be the fire sale of the century.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Stay Away from My Decaf Coffee!

Quick backstory.

My name is Dave, and I was once a caffein addict. 

I drank it morning noon and night. If I could have, I would have had a permanent caffein drip inserted into my arm.

I started drinking coffee around 1966 when I discovered it as a sophomore in high school. Since then, I developed into an addict that was very grumpy when I didn't have my caffein fix the moment I opened my eyes.

Then I had an epiphany - along with my wife - last year and cut the caffein and replaced it with decaf coffee. That artificial buzz was taking a toll on both of us, especially my wife who has heart issues.

It wasn't exactly like quitting cold turkey because decafe still tastes good. You still feel like it's the real deal, but without the ill effects of consuming too much caffein.  

On Decaf Coffee

Now that I've found a good substitute I've discovered there's a significant coffee controversary brewing between two activist groups and a California lawmaker who have petitioned to ban European Method decaf - the most common form of decaffeinated coffee in the country.

The controversy centers on decaf because its produced using chemical solvents, including methylene chloride, which bind to the caffeine and extracts it from the beans.

In January California Assemblymember Eloise Reyes proposed new legislation that would expressly prohibit a "person or entity from using methylene chloride in the process of decaffeinating coffee" starting in 2027.

The bill was introduced in Feb and has yet to be heard in counsel.

Here's What I Learned

The European Method decafe is authorized as safe by the rigorous standards of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the European Food Safety Authority, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and other food authorities around the world.

According to the National Coffee Association, 26 million Americans drink decaffeinated coffee every day and the majority of it was made using the European method for more than 50 years.

As it Stands, decaf coffee is the best of two worlds. I don't want to see some clowns change that. Just stay away from my damn decaf!

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...