Moving to ATL Won’t Solve All Life’s Problems

A good friend of mine, Robert, tipped me to a great tweet from this weekend that really spoke to me. From @akidnamedspiffy it reads “Why do black people think moving to Atlanta will solve all their problems?”

Can we get an “amen” up in the house tonight?! I’ve never understood the obsession with Atlanta.  The only reason Atlanta is of any worth is because millennials and X-geners, like myself, have obsessed about the city and the overgrown suburbs for nearly 20 years.  Life imitated hype.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t hate Atlanta.  I just think we should be realistic with ourselves and understand that cities like Birmingham, Augusta, Memphis, etc could be world-class if all of our best talented young people didn’t lustfully flock towards Atlanta.

What do you think?  Am I being too cruel?

Stay Away from ATL

 

4 Types of Spouses That Will Ruin Your Finances

It is probably no secret that selecting a spouse is a serious decision.  The wrong spouse can be a nightmare for years to come.  Our personal finances are not immune to the negative effects of a poor spousal decision.  Below are just a few personality types that we might want to avoid if we ever want to get outside the habit of living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Guy Who Drives HER Car Around While She’s at Work

He is every parent’s worst nightmare; however, he seems like a dream to his unlucky lover.  He almost never has a job, but he supposedly makes up for that by dropping his lady off at work and picking her back up at the end of her shift.

He gets extra points for triflingness if he sits in her employer’s parking lot all day until she gets off work.

Guy Who Lacks Awareness of His Economic Potential

He’s actually a half-decent guy, but he never quite realizes that he could make double or triple his income by simply applying himself more often.  He always settles for “good enough” even if he is barely making ends meet.  And if he has a big income already, he has no savings to show for it.  He might make a great friend, but he makes a horrible husband.

Girl Whose Favorite Phrase is “But It’s on Sale!”

Watch out for her.   She makes every purchase seem like an innocent ordeal, but in reality she has a hyper-consumerism problem.  She couldn’t hold water if she were a kettle.  Again, stay away from her.

She may one day learn from her errors, but it will be after she files bankruptcy for the 2nd time.

Girl Who Always Chats About What Her Friends Just Bought

While she will make it sound like idle chatter, it’s not.  Her words are really a warning sign that she will forever be jealous of her family and friends.  No amount of shopping trips and car purchases will ever quench her thirst.  She will never be happy because someone will always have something better than she has.

Follow Ben on Twitter at @Ben_Baxter.

Sits in Car

Really, What IS the Bible?

Without doubt, there is a great deal of disagreement over what the Bible actually is. And I suppose, beyond a collection of 66 documents written a good long time ago, we can’t really know the answer with any kind of absolute certainty. But it’s important to understand what the Bible is to those who believe in it.

Well, that’s great, but what does it mean to “believe in the Bible”? I’d say it boils down to believing that what the Bible says is true. Now, a lot of the Bible’s more vehement opponents scoff at the ideathey see apparent contradictions between different parts of the Bible, so they stop right there and claim to Holy Biblehave won. They think they’ve disproven what Christians believe, but all they’ve really done is shown that they don’t understand what Christians believe.

To believe in the Bible (as Christians are frequently known for doing) is to believe that it is objectively and universally True, that it is the holy, inspired, and inerrant word of the God who created literally everything. To believe that the Bible is True in this way is to believe that it is unique (i.e. no other text contains such Truth), complete (i.e. it’s not still being written), sufficient (i.e. it hasn’t left out anything we need), authoritative, (i.e. it is the final and ultimate authority for Truth), and consistent in all its parts. Dozens of treatises could be written (and probably have been written) on any one of these points, but I’d like to focus for now on its sufficiency and its consistency.

Now, clearly the Bible does not lay out everything plainly. It’s not simply 66 books of “Do this. Don’t do that. God is good. Satan is bad,” etc. We have to interpret the words in some way or another. This process—the process of interpreting Scripture—is called exegesis. Because the BibleBible Study is understood to be sufficient in and of itself, proper Biblical exegesis doesn’t subject the Bible to an external authority. It doesn’t require further explanation to be properly understood: if one passage seems unclear, that passage can be understood and clarified by reading the rest of the Bible. That’s why in the New Testament, both Jesus and the Apostles frequently refer back to the Old Testament to expound on what they’re saying. Nothing’s left out. It’s all there for those willing to look.

Inseparably tied to the Bible’s sufficiency is its consistency. If there are two passages that seem to contradict each other, they need to be thoroughly examined in the light of the rest of Scripture to better understand what they’re saying. This is solid Biblical exegesis. Poor exegesis would give preference to one passage and claim that it utterly negates the other passage—such as saying that passages about God’s love are true, and thus passages about His wrath are false. Good exegesis would see both passages about God’s love and passages about His wrath, and understand that God must be both loving and wrathful.

To those who believe in it, the Bible isn’t just a collection of discrete writings; rather, it is one whole, complete document. If one part is false, the whole can’t be True. So if you’re a Christian, and you ever come across a passage in the Bible that you don’t quite understand, keep it in mind as you continue to read the rest of the Bible. I think you’ll find that the answer is in your hands already.

How to Get 157 FREE Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches per Year

The average American throws away between $28 and $43 in the form of food waste each month.  While that may not seem like much, it adds up over a yearly timeframe.  Using 40 dollars as a reference point, we end up unnecessarily chunking $480 into the trash every year.  Surely, we can find other ways to use that money more effectively.   Please see the following:

An Extra $480 per Year Could Buy…

What some other things could you buy with an extra $480 per year?

Chick-Fil-A

Baxter Nominated for National Black Folks Spokesman

After what has seemed like an eternity, the elections for the next National Black Folks Spokesman are underway.  The advertised deadline for consideration is June 30, 2015.  The actual deadline is December 31, 2015 due to the melanin-related phenomenon called CP Time.  The first nominee in the running to replace the tandem of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson is Ben Baxter of Alabama.  His campaign strategy is listed below.

Baxter puts his hat in the ring for 2016!

Baxter puts his hat in the ring for 2016!

As the next National Black Folks Spokesman, the Honorable Reverend Doctor Ben Baxter Jr will make a two-faced effort to complete the following promises.

  • He will speak for you whenever a white friend or coworker asks a question as simple as “How are things going?”
  • He will magically show up whenever “thug” is used by a white person to describe a young black male.  In addition, he will show up with an entire HBCU marching band if previously mentioned white person becomes frustrated and uses the n-word.
  • He will retweet anything that you send to him that has the hashtag #blacklivesmatter or #handsupdontshoot included.
  • He will always hog television time from relevant victims of abuse or harassment by shucking and jiving.
  • He will give the impression that his services are free, but he will eventually charge you a minimum of $25,000 just for showing up.
  • He will inevitably disappear whenever your situation gets tough.  But again, he’s going to charge you that $25,000 minimum fee no matter what.  He cannot stress that enough.

God Bless America, Black Jesus, and President Obama.

This message was brought to you by Citizens for Baxter, Incorporated.  Ben Baxter was not affiliated with this message at all.

Whether Caitlyn, Rachel, or Creflo, CONCEIT Shouldn’t Be Enabled

01 Lying is BadIt sure has been an amazingly absurd and hypocritical past few weeks, hasn’t it?  We’ve had a famous televangelist successfully convince us that he needs a $60M private jet to spread the Gospel.  We’ve had a former male Olympian (and current grandparent) lead us to believe that he is now a woman.  And just recently, we’ve uncovered that a prominent white NAACP leader has been living a lie as a black woman for that past several years.

While these three events may seem unrelated, they have a very pronounced common thread: all three people have friends, family, and internet strangers who enable their specific brand of deception.  Based on my knowledge and research, that is even worse than the original lies themselves.

Actually, let me rephrase that.  Creflo Dollar, Caitlyn Jenner, and Rachel Dolezal are all guilty of creating a narrative that simply isn’t true.  However, it is OUR willing participation in their conceit that has magnified their perception into delusions of grandeur.

That’s what happens when one starts telling lies and puffing oneself up.  Just like everyone’s mom used to say, “When you tell one lie, you gotta tell more lies to cover up the first.”  It produces a snowball effect.  As the snowball gets bigger, more and more people fall into its path.  Once rolled into the snowball, those bystanders begin lying too.

I plead that we as a nation begin to halt this enabling behavior.  Everyone’s actions and thoughts aren’t valid.  And it’s not wrong to admit that.  It’s never wrong to tell to truth.   It’s never wrong to put our selfish pride aside and accept what’s truly taking place within us and in the world around us.

_______________________

If you are of the Christian persuasion like myself, here are some supporting verses:

Proverbs 12:22 ESV

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.”

Luke 8:17 ESV

“For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”

Ephesians 4:25 ESV

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”

Ben Baxter is an avid writer, engineer, financial advisor, and contributor to AL.com.

Old Big vs New Big : Okafor or Towns?

I was searching for an angle to compare these two players. I wanted to compare their ability to mix it up in the post. I wanted to compare their situational rebounding. I wanted to compare size. The truth is, it is unfair to compare these players as if everything is equal. It is not. These two big men mark decidedly different philosophies in the NBA.

Okafor is the old school throwback. He compares favorably on offense to a Tim Duncan, a guy who can back down and dominate anyone, and also a guy who can hit cutters and open men at weird angles thanks to a great court vision for a big man. However, he is going to be planted in the paint and take up a lot of room. If you want to play modern NBA ball you can’t have a guy sitting in the paint taking up room for your drive and dish guys. On the flip side, this model can still work. The Memphis Grizzlies have two big men who can’t operate past mid range. It’s all about scheme and commitment.

Karl-Anthony Towns represents everything about this new NBA model. A big, fast, and rangy versatile defender. He can stay back in the paint and erase mistakes if that’s what you need him to. He can switch effortlessly on pick and rolls, blowing up plays and making the ball handler make split decisions that can lead to turnovers. You can ask him to step out on the perimeter, a great asset in a league with more and more perimeter big men. He can supposedly shoot 3’s, but everyone says that. He has shown he can stretch the floor out to at least the long 2 range. But, if he is going to make a living on offense with that style, he needs to hit at a Lamarcus Aldridge rate, and he is a long way from that.

Two different big men, two different philosophies. We simply can’t compare the two straight up. It doesn’t work. We can look at individual strengths and weaknesses and evaluate what situation they can thrive in. There are risks with this. If the guy isn’t up for being the focal point of your philosophy, you could be set back. So, lets take a look at each player and see what they bring to the table.

Karl-Anthony Towns

IMG_0568

Strengths

We can’t have a conversation about Towns without starting with defense. He is quite a monster on that end. During his lone season at Kentucky he had defensive rating of 82.4, which would have been good for 11th all time. Anthony Davis had a defensive rating of 80.3 (3rd all time best). So we can see his is in great company. Take a peek at his block percentage, and he blocks a solid 11% of 2 point shots attempted while he is on the floor. With his long arms and super quick feet, he can recover on swat shots from almost anywhere on the floor.

This video should make any scout very happy. It is a wonderful display of all of his defensive talents. We see him challenging one on one shots at the rim. We see him swarming a driving player. We see him coming over on help defense to swallow the man whole. We even see him step out to the perimeter to block a shot. Simply put, if you are taking Towns, this is the first strength you are pointing to. He is a monster on defense and should step into the league as a good defensive big on the first day, with potential for defensive player of the year status.

Another good part of Towns’ game is rebounding. Considering he shared the court with another big man at all times, his 18.5 total rebounding percentage is impressive. He relies too much on athleticism right now. If he can learn technique to go with his athleticism, we could see a 12-14 RPG player.

Probably my favorite part of Towns is his FT%. He shoots an incendiary 81.3% while getting to the line 10.2 times per 100 possessions. This is how he is going to get the majority of his offense on the pro level. He is going to catch balls out of the pick and roll and use his athleticism to attack the rim. He is either going to dunk it or he is going to get fouled. Imagine how DeAndre Jordan gets his, except Towns will punish those who foul him. Opposing big men will get frustrated with him very quickly. A comparison I don’t see made on the offensive end is Blake Griffin. Blake attacks the rim out of pick and rolls with ferociousness and can play the mid range game very well. This is an absolute best case scenario. This is why people will want to draft him. He has a potential to be a superstar defensive player with Blake Griffin offensive skills.

This is what we can expect to see a lot of from his offense.

Weaknesses

You know that Blake Griffin comparison I just made? Yeah, that is a scenario that most likely won’t happen. While Towns can hit midrange shots, it is not his bread and butter. It will require a lot of work on his end to become proficient at setting a screen, sagging off, catching, and releasing a perfect shot all within a 2 second span. I don’t know if he has that in him right now. His offensive game is too much athleticism. Most of his mid range shots were wide open in college. That ain’t happening at the NBA level.

His low post game worries me, as well. While I think it would be dumb to make him a low post player, he will have times where he needs to bang in the paint. He has one move, a baby hook. It worked against smaller players in the weak SEC, it will take first steps and counter moves for it to be effective in the NBA. If he wants room to operate a mid range game, he needs to prove he can punish you in the paint. Quite frankly, a low post game isn’t there and is mainly predicated on athleticism.

He doesn’t have quite the ball handling to take people off of the dribble, and I honestly never see him developing one. That’s a huge reason why the Blake Griffin comp may never come to fruition. Griffin can handle the ball full court and hit open men in full stride. You probably don’t want towns initiating your offense. Towns is actually a good passer for a big man. He is best a low post dump offs when his men is stuck in the air. These probably won’t be there in the NBA, but at least it is a skill he has. Passing around the rim is always welcomed.

I don’t view Towns as a go-to man. I may not even view him as a #2 option. I think his offense can be great, but a lot of things have to hit just right for all of it to fall into place. I know I keep mentioning Clippers players, but I see him more as a DeAndre Jordan with a decent jumper. Remember, the Griffin scenario is a best case. This isn’t a bad thing. If he is a stud at one end, but a slightly above average at the other end, you still have a damn good player. What if Towns winds up being just a good defensive player and an athletic but inefficient offensive player? Well, the #1 pick status starts to look a little fuzzy. Towns probably falls decidedly somewhere in between. I think his money is going to be made on the defensive end a lot more than the offensive.

Where Does He Fit Best

Simon Says, "Hands on Your Hips"...Rubio, you're out!

Giving the strengths and weaknesses, I think the Timberwolves would be idiots to pass on him. Okafor would require everyone to change styles, and the style the Timberwolves want to play is fast paced and uber athletic. This is the role Towns was born to play.

Having a great passing point guard is probably the most beneficial thing to Towns’ game and development. A Rubio/Towns pick and roll game will ensure he is getting his touches in the best possible places for him. He can learn the ins and outs of his offensive game perfectly with Rubio. Even better? Andrew Wiggins is by far the #1 option on this team. Towns wouldn’t be expected to come out of the gate and dominate. He can sit back and clean up on the offensive glass and get hustle points. Also potentially dangerous is a Wiggins/Towns pick and roll. Although limited in options, that play would be very hard to defend given the incredible amount of athleticism between the two.

This is also the biggest reason Towns makes sense. He is athletically and defensively ready. Him and Andrew Wiggins would immediately be a terror around the league. Length, size, athleticism, it is all there. Rubio is also one of the more solid on-ball defenders in the league. Expect many steals and fast break points. Towns would have meant opportunities to turn his defense into offense.

The Timberwolves makes too much sense for Towns. Perfect situation that is already catered to his style.

Jahlil Okafor

Wisconsin Badgers Men's Basketball Vs Duke Blue Devils

Strengths

Players like this don’t come along too often. Jahlil has massive hands, smooth hips, a huge frame, and silly touch at the basket. He reminds me of a cross between Olajuwon and Duncan on offense. That is not exaggeration. I see the Al Jefferson comparisons, and quite frankly it is insulting.

Jahlil shot .664% in his freshmen year at Duke. Holy. Shit. That mark places him in the top 25 ever. But what is even more impressive is how he does it. Okafor is not catch and shoot, he is not catching wide open passes, he is not getting easy dump offs. Okafor is parking his ass in the paint, backing you down, and finishing with what is probably the biggest array of low post moves since Kevin McHale.

If the Towns video was impressive, watch this. Okafors offensive game is simply unrivaled. I personally have never seen an 18 year old this polished. He has drop steps, he has counters, he has pump fakes, he has hooks, he has massive dunks, he has everything. Okafor is going to step into the NBA and very well may be the best low post player in the game from day one. Whatever team picks him is going to have to make him the focal point. That 66% shooting percentage makes that a very easy pill to swallow. Also, Okafor shoot a blistering 58.5% on low post touches. You honestly won’t be able to stop him.

Okafor is also a very gifted passer.

The most under rated skill of Okafor. He can spin out of double teams and find the open man with ease. His vision is impeccable and will only continue to get better. This is great because Okafor is going to spend his life being double teamed. A few open 3’s and and easy dunks for his team mates will make those defenders sag off a little bit. When that happens, he can punish you with his back to the basket game. Pick your poison.

Okafor also shines at rebounding. While he sometimes lags defensively, he is a beast on the offensive glass. This is a great thing since he will be parked down there. Averaging 4 offensive rebounds a game is outstanding. Couple that with his 58.5% low post shooting and it can really be a nightmare for whoever is guarding him. Guarding Okafor is going to be a team effort, and with his passing, even that may not even matter. a 17.1 total rebounding percentage is very solid. With some more effort on the defensive glass, you can be looking at 11-12 RPG.

Okafor’s best case scenario is an offensive juggernaut who is decent on the defensive end. He is a 6’11, 270 lb guy who can block a few shots for you. He is big and plays big at the rim, despite weaknesses. He gave up .455 FG% at the rim last year. A mark that would have been a full point better than Tim Duncan. To say he is a stiff on that end is false. Okafor can absolutely hit something like a 25/12/4. If he is hitting around 60% of his shots, that is an asset any team in the league would be envious of.

Weaknesses

Probably the most glaring issue is his free throw shooting. It sucks. He shot 51% on 5.1 FTs per game. Anyone watching the Hack-A-Whoever strategy knows this can be killer. If Okafor is sitting because he can’t shoot a FT, his monster offensive game isn’t very useful. There is not much to expound on. If Okafor wants to reach his full potential, he needs to bring it up to at least 65, if not 70. He can’t be an offensive liability, which is what 51% is.

The other weakness is his defense. This isn’t as much of a product of he sucks, but a product of effort. He is lazy on screens, he is lazy on rotation, and he doesn’t run the defensive floor as much as you would like from a guy who is going to be the defensive anchor. Okafor only seems to be engaged when he is on ball. While this is nice, he will be asked to do more than guard men straight up on the block.

As smooth as his feet are on the offensive end, they seem to be stuck in the mud on the defensive end. He is just slow, and part of that may be reaction skills. Something he absolutely has to improve.

If you are taking Okafor, these could be two killer weaknesses. If Okafor is getting torched on defense and can’t make FTs on offense, you are stuck with a real shitty situation. I don’t mind the effort questions as much as some, I think Okafor has a real drive for the game. The fact that when he is engaged, he is a monster calms my fears. We just need to see him display this all of the time.

Where Does He Fit Best?

Lakers 2009-10 championship ring

I am picking the Lakers because they pick 2nd. I actually think the Atlanta Hawks or OKC Thunder would be the most ideal fits, but they have zero shot at him.

The Lakers and greta big men are synonymous. Okafor would be that next great Laker big. The Lakers actually have talent and working pieces for one. Clarkson, Randle, and Okafor would make a very promising young trio. Kobe Bryant’s passing skill actually benefits Okafor a lot, and Okafor’s passing skill helps Kobe a lot. Much like the Pau Gasol/Kobe Hi-Lo game that dominated teams for a few years, this could be a new version. Okafor could set up in the mid range and facilitate passing from there. He has the skills. This allows Clarkson and Kobe room to drive. It even allows Okafor to hit Randle for some nice big to big passing.

Truth is, the Lakers have a lot of pieces that aren’t there but could be. Pair Okafor and Love and you could have a front court that scores 50 points a game and controls defenders with the best passing big men in the game. Pair Okafor with a defensive center who can hit mid range jumpers in Robin Lopez, and you can hide Okafor on defense better and give Okafor a nice mid range outlet for when the double team comes. There are a lot of working parts that could benefit everyone.

The main reason I think Lakers need Okafor? He loves the spot light. He will relish LA. I think that will push him to be great. I don’t know what the future holds for the Lakers, but it looks very bright when you start with Okafor.

Who Do I Take?

Again, this is an unfair question. What style are you wanting to play? What pieces do you have? What pieces are you going to have? It seems like a cop out answer but this is a very real answer. These are two different players who have the ability to dominate in different ways. Whatever team picks these guys need to recognize this and plan accordingly. If the Wolves get Okafor, they may clog the lane for Wiggins. If the Lakers get Towns, the may have him playing a low-mid game that he isn’t quite ready to shoulder. Both of these teams are in great positions, they just need to make sure they pick the player that is right for them and stick with it.

Paul Pierce – The Little Red Giant That Could

Player A – 25.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.5 STL, .451 FG%, .334 3PT%, 23.2 PER, 173.1 Win Shares. 17 All Star Teams, 2 time Finals MVP, 15 time All-NBA teams, 12 time All-NBA Defense Team

Player B – 20.7 PPG, 5 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.4 STL, .478 FG%, .371 3PT%, 20.1 PER149.1, Win Shares. 10 All Star Teams, 1 time Finals MVP, 4 time All-NBA Teams

Player C – 27.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 6.9 APG, 1.7 STL, .496 FG%, .342 3PT%, 27.7 PER, 178.9 Win Shares. 11 All Star Teams, Rookie of the Year, 2 time Finals MVP, 10 All-NBA teams, 6 time All-NBA Defense Team

We can all make our own judgements about those 3 players based on the information given. It may not tell the whole story, but it gives us a nice rounded view as to what these players did in their careers. Two players stand above the other one. Keep these numbers in mind as we will revisit who these players are.

A Red Giant is the largest star in the star cycle. Our son is a Red Giant. A Red Giant is extremely visible and gives life to everything around it (or kills it, but follow me). The White Dwarf? It is a remnant of what the Red Giant used to be. It is on it’s last leg. Burned up all of the fuel it needs to continue on being a Red Giant. A White Dwarf is still visible, and can even be spotted as a major star in the night sky at times, but it will never be a Red Giant again.

Paul Pierce

In the weirdest way possible. I just described Paul Pierce. Pierce wasn’t the most massive of Red Giants, but he was a giant. You didn’t see him through all stages, but you definitely were aware of his heat and presence. This accurately describes Pierce’s career. He was always hovering around the top 10-15 players, but you never viewed him as top dog. And you know what? That’s OK. The role and career that Pierce had would make a few top 50 NBA players of all time jealous (Rick Barry agrees). See, Pierce didn’t need to be the greatest ever. He didn’t need to be the Red Giant, he just needed to be amongst the Red Giants and pick his moments to shine above the rest.

I’m sure all of this is confusing, but I will get to the point. I was always aware of Pierce. I am a Lakers fan, even if the Celtics suck I am watching them. I want to know my enemy. Pierce was a highly gifted scorer and basketball player. I never got the sense he was way more athletic than everyone else. However, he always seemed a step ahead. This is a trait that has followed Pierce into his current iteration. He is a damn smart basketball player. He doesn’t need to be Lebron with athleticism, he isn’t Curry when it comes to 3’s, and he isn’t Nash when it comes to finding the open man. Although, the thing that made Pierce, Pierce? He was somehow that when he needed to be.

When I am judging an NBA career, I don’t start with the lows. I want to see where a man was at his greatest. Viewing things this way is what made me love and hate Pierce. Instead of giving the whole history and dragging on more, I want to recount two very important pieces in Pierce’s career that made him the alpha Red Giant, even if it were only for a small time and he wasn’t the biggest Red Giant out there. Those two moments? Going head to head against Kobe and Lebron and actually winning.

Lebron James

In case you forgot about the initial stats to begin with, Lebron is Player C. Anyone who has ever watched basketball knows that Lebron’s place in the NBA hierarchy is bounds above where Pierce’s is. In 2008, Pierce showed this wasn’t the case.

Now, Pierce has had a history of going at Lebron since Lebron’s rookie year. There are multiple angles as to why, but lets just leave it at Pierce thinks Lebron is a bitch. He still does. He will probably die holding onto that thought. 2008 was around the time that everyone started crowning Lebron as an evolutionary Magic or some better version of MJ. We know this not to be true, but ESPN will do what ESPN does. Pierce hated this. He just fucking hated it. Pierce has an old man game (anything that doesn’t involve shooting 3’s or driving to the lane is apparently old now) and Lebron was the new generation of what a superstar should be. It was just great theatre at the time, even if you didn’t view Pierce as a Lebron equal.

Full disclosure: I am a stats guy. I love advanced stats. The advanced stats say Pierce wasn’t even the best guy on his team and that Kevin Garnett was more Lebron’s equal than Pierce was. I’m here to say throw that the fuck out of the window. Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Lebron threw up a 45/5/6. The supposedly 3rd best player in the series? 41/4/5. If you haven’t seen the game, you need to leave this column and go to YouTube.

Back? Great. Pierce went toe to toe with a legendary Lebron performance. We aren’t talk about just a great game, but a legendary performance that saw Lebron attacking the rim like he has lost his damn mind. A tactic that has always best suited Lebron. It was an amazing back and forth. It wasn’t a game 7 between the Celtics and the Cavs, it was a glorified street ball game between Pierce and Lebron. A fight where Pierce came out the winner. It was basketball magic and something we may never see again due to evolving play style. All I know is this: Pierce went up against a Lebron hitting his stride, and outstrided him. He was the Red Giant that game 7, even though he was nothing like Lebron’s shine throughout the season.

LeBron James

Fast forward to the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals. A clearly aging Pierce took it to Lebron on defense, who was probably the best player in the league at this point or damn close to it. Pierce only averaged 14.3 points for the series. However, he held Lebron to 21.3 points per game on 34% shooting. He was also 32. A geezer by NBA standards. A 32 year old essentially did his best lock-down impression on who is supposed to be one of the greatest players of all time. Watch the series. Pierce is huffing and puffing at almost every break. It was his final “My Red Giant is Shining Brighter Than Yours” moment. To be honest, it was my favorite. Pierce transformed into a defensive stopper specifically to counter Lebron.

Let the record state: Pierce once out-gunned Lebron in a series (no one besides Dirk has done that) and also put the defensive clamps on him (something only the entire Spurs team did). Pierce did both. To Lebron. A player clearly leagues better than him. Like I said, Red Giant, man.

Kobe Bryant

This one hits me in the feels. Kobe was the best player in the NBA. The Celtics had the big 3, but it seemed like Kobe was coming for the league after playing with piles of shit for years. Kobe had Pau, he had his Robin to his Batman. This is all fun and good, but there was that god damn The Little Red Giant That Could waiting in the wings. By the way, Kobe is Player A.

Kobe Bryant pointing at Rajon Rondo

To be fair, this was a team effort. However, Pierce being the insanely smart and old man basketball player he is, recognized one thing. This Lakers team wasn’t that talented. They had Kobe. They had Pau. That was about it. Pierce realized that if he took it to Kobe that there weren’t many other options. Pierce was on Kobe a ton. Kobe was even hid off of Pierce at time because Kobe just didn’t have the energy to be an All-NBA two way player on both ends like he needed to.

Pierce outplayed Kobe. Again, Kobe may have been the best player by all advanced comparisons, but Pierce was the guy in this series. He sealed this with an MVP. Pierce was just up to answer the Kobe challenge. Unlike Lebron (who he thinks is a bitch), Pierce really respected Kobe. Kobe respected him. It was old school Lakers and Celtics. It was a damn beautiful series.

 

Paul Pierce

I hope my analogy is clear now. Kobe and Lebron are two of the best 3 players of this generation. They were the Red Giants all of us saw. Pierce was the one Red Giant who shone every now and then on a Sportscenter clip. He was the greatest in great moments. Pierce is the only player I remember taking down two legends and standing toe to toe with them. He wanted it. He needed it. He loved it. I hate he stole a title from my Lakers, but god damnit was he treat to watch. We watched history in his battles with Kobe and Lebron. Sure, both of them went on to get the best of them. But Pierce got them first.

Boston Celtics 2008 NBA champions

And for that, Pierce’s star will forever shine. Even in it’s dying White Dwarf phase, his Red Giant beams will live on for a long time.

Is Mortgaging Really Better Than Renting?

On the long-term, yes, getting a mortgage is better than renting. However, most people who say “renting is just like throwing away money” are never thinking long-term. They are thinking short-term, and renting is the far better option short-term. There are several reasons, but here are the main few:

(1) Rent Cost is Cheaper than House Cost

For a temporary amount of time, it is significantly cheaper to rent and save up for a down payment than to jump into a mortgage. Don’t just look at the monthly mortgage payment compared to the monthly rent payment. Dig a little deeper.

From personal experience, it would take about 3 years and 6 months in our previous apartment to equal the amount of money we have spent in the 2 years that we have been in our current home.

Those numbers may seem anecdotal, but they are a reality. See chart below.  Then continue reading.

Rent vs House

(2) Renting Increases Ability Rid Consumer Debt

This should seem obvious. Since we have more disposable income, we are able to dump our consumer debt a lot more quickly. If you can imagine, it is liking doing yard work with a 150 pound mortgage fanny pack around your waist.

(3) Rentals are Easier to Clean

Most people who rent live in an apartment. Apartments are typically smaller than houses. Apartments also tend to have appliances, counter tops, flooring, and walls that make dirt and trash easier to see. Sure, we may have more admiration for our homes, but apartments are just slap-out easier to clean. So if cleanliness is an issue for you, hold off on buying a house until you work that issue out.

(4) There is Less Stress with Rentals

What happens when a water heater breaks at your apartment? You call a maintenance guy to replace or fix it for free. What happens when a water heater breaks at your home? You panic because you don’t have an emergency fund in place to cover repair or replacement.

Word to the wise, if you don’t have an emergency fund or aren’t working diligently to save one up, then a house is not for you. Just keep renting until you learn not to take so many risks.

Agree or Disagree?

Good Friday? No, Good Wednesday! | G. Franks

A CrossIt’s that time of year when people forget how to count to three.  Others find creative ways to add pieces and parts of different things together in various ways to derive a very specialized way of counting to three.  Those who remember that it’s simply 1 – 2 – 3 become really confused by the other two groups and why they just don’t get it.  Count me in that last group, but I’m gonna try to reconcile it all so that no one has to be confused.

What I’m talking about is Good Friday and how Jesus being crucified on a Friday doesn’t sync with His own statement in Matthew 12:40 where He says, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (emphasis mine, from the English Standard Version as will any following quote)  Do the math.  Although Jesus died at sundown, if you count Friday as one of the days and although the grave was found empty Sunday morning, if count that as an entire day also, then you can kinda, sorta get three days out of it, BUT there’s NO WAY to get three nights out of just Friday night and Saturday night.  You may have heard the “any part of a day counts as the whole day…” explanation that goes along with that attempt to reconcile the discrepancy.  Still, you just don’t have parts of three nights to go along with the parts of three days; there are only two nights in there no matter how you look at it.  I’m certain the problems that accompany a “Good Friday” thinking are on a list somewhere of atheists’ compilation of Biblical errors.

I had this same question for years.  When I finally did some study on my own, the answer was quite simple, and everything else made a lot more sense when this piece was in place.  The heavens even attest to the authenticity of this answer, but I’ll save that for the very end.  Oh, another problem the “Good Friday” conundrum presents is the questions of when the chief priests and Pharisees went to ask Pilate for a guard at the tomb.  The day after Friday is Saturday, the weekly Sabbath when no work could be done and even walking was limited to “a Sabbath day’s journey,” and the tomb was found empty Sunday morning.

Okay, I tell you what.  Instead of starting with lots of detail about all the confusing stuff and all the problems of the “Good Friday” chronology, let’s just keep it simple.  Jesus said “three days and three nights” so let’s just take Him at His word and see how that works, then you can know not to worry about all the problems and attempts at explanation by those holding onto “Good Friday” for whatever reason.

The tomb was found empty Sunday morning, so let’s count back three days: Sunday (0), Saturday (1), Friday (2), and Thursday (3), which means Jesus died on Wednesday, specifically at sundown Wednesday.  Okay, let’s count the nights: Wednesday night (1), Thursday night (2), and Friday night (3).  Oops!  What about Saturday night?  Didn’t Jesus rise on Sunday morning?  That leaves you with four nights, so you’ve traded the problem of there being only two nights with “Good Friday” to there being four nights with your “Good Wednesday” alternative.  Excellent observation, but does the Bible say Jesus rose on Sunday morning, or does it say the tomb was found empty Sunday morning.  Jesus rose at sundown on Saturday after the weekly Sabbath was over.  (Remember that the Hebrew day begins at sundown on what we would say is the day before.  Their days are evening and morning, just like the days of creation back in Genesis 1.)  The disciples found the empty tomb the next day that they were up and able to move freely about, that Sunday morning.

But I thought they had to remove the bodies from the crosses before sundown because they couldn’t do any work on the next day since it was the Sabbath?  The Sabbath is Saturday, so this would have been Friday, the day before, right?  That’s why it’s called “Good Friday,” ain’t it?  Almost.  Yeah, that’s likely how the “Good Friday” error got started, but there are too many questions left unanswered by that quick jump to the wrong conclusion.  In particular, there’s one piece that God leaves in the Scriptures that should make us take a second look, that piece is the Preparation Day.  Do you know definitively what Preparation Day refers to?  I don’t mean a hastily derived conclusion like the one that leads to the “Good Friday” error, but exactly what that phrase means, exactly what it refers to.  Okay, let’s go back to the Old Testament when Passover began and see.  (Note: I’m not quoting as many Scriptures as I want to so this doesn’t get too long, but I do encourage you to read all the Scriptures in context [the whole chapter if necessary] and passages parallel to these that tell the same story.  Every bit of it will fit and make sense in the “Good Wednesday” framework I’m showing you.)

Exodus 12  The Passover

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.  Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household.  And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb.  Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.

“Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.  They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.  Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts.  And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.  In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.  For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.  The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.  Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.  On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you.  And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever.  In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.  For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land.  You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”

Okay, that is one (the first) of the Old Testament passages about Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Here is one set of verses from the New Testament about the crucifixion and resurrection.  Please read the parallel passages as well.  Also, the underlining and bolding below are mine to note specific words and phrases that tie into the simpler chronology I’m presenting.

Jesus Is Buried  (Luke 23:50-56)

Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God.  This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid.  It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.  The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid.  Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

John 19:14-16

Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”  They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”  So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.

Jesus’ Side Is Pierced  (John 19:31-37)

Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.  So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him.  But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.  But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.  He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe.  For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.”  And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

Jesus Is Buried  (John 19:38-42)

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body.  Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.  So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.  Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.  So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

The Guard at the Tomb  (Matthew 27:62-66)

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’  Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.”  Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.”  So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Now, just a little more discussion will tie it all together.  Passover is Abib 14th.  Have you ever noticed how Passover is a different day each year?  That’s a trick question.  It isn’t different every year; it’s the 14th day of Abib every year.  Abib starts with the first new moon after the vernal equinox, every year like clockwork.  We have the vernal equinox every year around March 21st on our calendar, but the new moon after that establishes when Passover happens.  More I could say, but this is getting long as is.

Passover is Abib 14 (which starts in the evening prior to that day).  Abib 15 is the Preparation Day.  Why is it called Preparation?  It was the day used to prepare for the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  As the Scripture above points out, every single speck of leaven (yeast) was removed from Hebrew households, and they ate unleavened bread from Abib 15 thru Abib 21.  Abib 15 and Abib 21 are special Sabbaths (or “high days” as John calls them in the verses above from his gospel).  Jesus observed the Passover with His apostles on the evening (night before, think Eve like Christmas Eve) of Abib 14, and during the day portion of Abib 14 He became our Passover lamb.  The next day was a special Sabbath / high day where no work could be done, and that’s why His body had to be removed from the cross and buried before sundown when the special Sabbath started and no work could be done.

Okay, there are plenty of cross references I could quote that corroborates what I just said, but this is enough to establish the timeline.  It occurs to me that speaking of it in Hebrew terms could possibly simplify matters so I’m gonna start there.  Then I’m gonna go back and tie it to our calendar.  It all makes really good sense.  I’m tempted to quote the individual Scriptures again to emphasize again that I’m using a Biblical timeline and Biblical words and phrases to let the Bible make itself clear, but I don’t want to jumble up my paragraph.  Please note that I could do just that, and everything I’m saying in the recounting of the timeline comes directly from Scripture like the verses quoted above.

Abib 14 (the evening before is specifically when it begins) — Jesus has His final meal with his apostles, an observance of Passover.

Abib 14 (later that evening after the Passover meal) — Jesus betrayed, goes before Pilate, before the Sanhedrin

Abib 14 (the day portion) — Jesus before Pilate again, the crowd wants Barabbas released and Jesus crucified, Jesus dies around 6pm and is buried before the special Sabbath / high day of Abib 15 begins that evening

Abib 15 (evening and morning) — nothing happens because it is a special Sabbath / rest day where no work is allowed

Abib 16 — during the day portion, the chief priests and Pharisees go to Pilate and ask for a tomb guard

Abib 17 — the regular, weekly Sabbath

Abib 18 — the “first day of the week” (Sunday) when the tomb was found empty  (Note: Jesus rose Saturday after sundown when the Sabbath was over, even the “work” of the resurrection happened in a way such that the Sabbath was kept holy.

Okay, that’s walking forward with Hebrew days, but let’s walk backwards and attach the typical days of the week.

Sunday morning, the women go the garden and find the tomb empty

Saturday — the weekly Sabbath, no work was done, nothing happened

Friday — the “day after Preparation Day” when the chief priests and Pharisees asked for a tomb guard

Thursday — the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, according to the original instructions in Egypt it was to be a special Sabbath / high day when no work would be done

Wednesday — the day Jesus died, his body was taken down from the cross and buried close by in a brand new tomb sometime around 6pm before evening began (because carrying a body and burying it would be work that would not be allowed on the special Sabbath / high day that began at sundown)

So it’s Good Wednesday, not Good Friday.  And the most important part of this correct chronology is that it keeps from making Jesus into a liar.  The pieces and parts of days that is such a feeble attempt to reconcile the wording of the text might work if Jesus had said a generic “in the tomb three days” but he didn’t say that.  His wording was very specific “three days AND three nights,” and that statement means we should dismiss anything that tries to propagate the “Good Friday” mistake.  Good Friday only has two nights in there Friday night and Saturday night; there is no piece or part of a third night to make it work.

Good Wednesday works perfectly.  The three days are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  The three nights are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Jesus rose at sundown Saturday, after the Sabbath was over.  The women went to the tomb on Sunday morning and found it empty.

OH!  I almost forgot to bring in the witness from the heavens (i.e., stars) I promised to mention at the very end.  You can go verify this via the US Naval Observatory.  In the year AD 31 the vernal equinox occurred at 5:00am on Friday, March 23rd.  (These times are local to Jerusalem, just to be clear.)  The first new moon after that was Tuesday, April 10th at 2:00pm.  That’s still daylight, the first sliver of a crescent new moon would be visible Wednesday evening, April 11th, so that evening would be the evening of Abib 1 and the day of Abib 1 would be what we would Thursday, April 12.  Passover is the 14th day or Abib, which would be the evening of Tuesday, April 24th and day of Wednesday, April 25th.  And what did I say at the start?  Count back three days from the tomb being empty on Sunday and you reach the simple conclusion that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday.  And what do you know?  There just happens to be a Tuesday evening / Wednesday day Passover right in there where it should be.