Life Of Percentages

We, as a society, try to use words like “beliefs” and “positivity” as explanations of how we overcome certain things. I realized recently that it doesn’t matter how positive or how much you believe in something, things can always take a negative turn.

There are thousands of Self Help Books designed to make us better people. Authors like Tony Robbins talk about how positivity can solve your problems. People use literature and research as methods for constructing positivity.

Let’s use the scenario that I have a life threatening illness and there is a chance I may die. On one hand I am the roaring Ra-Ra confidence of the American spirit. Where I believe I can overcome ANYTHING! Let’s say I live…is it because of my positivity or because I took the right things? People will talk about how confident I am and how nothing can take me down because I believe. Not “just” because I took the right things.

On the other hand I am negative and depressed constantly. I feel like I have no value in this world and will die alone. But let’s say I take the medicine still (which I will go into later on) and I live. Do you think it was my negative attitude that rewarded me with life? Again, maybe me taking the right things cured me and not a mindset.

I had 2 life threatening concussions. I had bleeding in the brain and doctors were shocked that I had no symptoms at all and didn’t miss a step. At the same time of my first concussion, actor Liam Neeson’s wife (Natasha Richardson) hit her head on soft snow and died of a head injury. I hit my head on ice so hard that my skull cracked and I was perfectly fine while she died. So did I overcome my injury with my positive sensibility? Did my body say “Heal now” and it did? Or does this reside in the category of “shit happens”?

Jim Valvano gave one of the greatest speeches in history. He was diagnosed with cancer and gave an emotionally roaring speech at the ESPN awards ceremony about how anyone can overcome anything. A few months after his speech he died…..of the same cancer that he made us all believe that he can overcome. Meanwhile people who maybe have a more serious diagnosis of cancer and who aren’t as positive may live.

The reason I put in parenthesis the part about the medicine was because (even though I am mostly bashing the notion of positive attitudes as methods for success) you still have to have a small notion of positivity to want to take something in the first place. If there is a 1% chance that you may live after hearing that you have a life-threatening illness, then you have a chance. I could be a devout Christian and have my heart filled with the Holy Spirit and still die. Meanwhile, I can be a negative atheist who has the same thing and live. Putting my hands together in prayer isn’t going to guarantee success.

Mercer College beat Duke in the NCAA tournament last season. Are you going to make the argument that Mercer College was more positive and wanted to win more than Duke? Or can you make the argument that Duke’s shots weren’t going in and Mercer had a better game plan? There are 68 teams in the tournament so therefore you have a 1/68 chance of winning it all. There are no certainties in sports. If you make it to a tournament, then you have a chance to win. Don’t let odds makers determine outcomes.

We love the David vs Goliath type of stories. Movies like Rudy and Miracle show us how people overcome impossible odds and come out on top. What a better story? How LeBron James has overcome adversity and has finally achieved all he was predicted to or how Bill Russell has won 11 titles in a row because he played on the best team in the league at that time?

I don’t mean to shit on people’s beliefs or positive energy. I trying to be a best-selling author and overcome disappointment constantly. I get rejection letters from publishers and still I send more out. Why? Because it’s something I want to do for a living. There is a big chance that I may never achieve my dream and have to settle for another career choice.

So I believe in being positive because without taking that first step you might not get what you want or take what you need to survive, BUT I don’t believe that thinking positive or reading the right material will automatically solve your problems.

Like I said about sports and certainties, there are also no certainties in life. If you have a 1% chance of living, then you have a chance of living. If you have a 99% chance of living then you still have a 1% chance of dying.

We love to hope that there is some otherworldly force that can help us in times of peril. That our positive energy can therefore challenge the laws of the universe so we may come out on top, but sadly that is hysterically untrue. Sometimes, to be blunt, shit happens. And there are no guarantees with medicine, self-help books and Ra-Ra speeches.

Joe Reyes

 

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NBA Draft Recap

Due to previously scheduled articles, this evaluation of the NBA draft might not be correct due to the trades that might’ve happened after. But as of June 27 I will be using that list of players to teams to write my evaluation.     I do believe this is one of the deepest drafts ever and think that most players in the first round will make an immediate impact.

I will be going player by player in the first round only and talk about what impact they will have on the court and in the rotation.

Joe Reyes

 

Williams vs. Stockton

When I had the idea of this match-up, Deron Williams was still a top point guard in the league. Now he is literally playing for a contract. There is no question that John Stockton is the greatest Jazz point guard in NBA history.

Stockton and Williams are opposite in playing style. Stockton is a pass first guard and Williams is a scoring guard. Stockton still leads in Assists in NBA history. But playing alongside Hall of Famer Karl Malone isn’t what got Stockton into the Hall of Fame as well.

Stockton was also a prolific scorer and shooter. He played tough defense every night and sometimes was regarded as the league’s dirtiest player. No Stockton wasn’t throwing punches or hard fouling other players, he played such hard defense that other players hated being covered by him.

 

Williams isn’t a great defender at all. He isn’t a great passer either. What Williams can do is score. But there are times when his shot isn’t dropping and he is forced to be a facilitator. Since he isn’t a great passer he starts making bad passes and doesn’t see the open man.

In no way is Williams a leader. Stockton wasn’t just the point guard of the team, he was the floor general. He would call out the plays and make sure the open man got the ball. He prided his game on making others better. And when he was forced to be the “man” he was. Stockton again was a great perimeter shooter and could drive to the paint when needed.

The best Point Guards today try to mimic what Stockton was. Magic Johnson , John Stockton, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Chris Paul are all pass first guards and are what general managers look for in their point guards. They don’t want their point guard jacking up contested shots and try to be the “man” every night.

Joe Reyes

 

 

 

 

Post Graduate Struggle


We live in a world reversed from what it should be. Once upon a time a bachelor’s degree from a highly-accredited university was a guarantee for any job you wanted. College was arduous and pain staking, but well worth it because you were ushered into an affluent career, with the highest possible salary ceiling. Young people deserve to apply themselves to higher education with the hopes of attaining their financial dreams.

Those who went to top tier schools with renowned reputations and house-hold names graduated into the best jobs in their field of study. It used to be what you spent in tuition would dictate salary. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in prime education with the aspirations to become financially sound enough to repay your student loans, buy a home, a car and start a family.

Today is a dark time for those who broke themselves in school. Students subjected themselves to endless stress and antagonism on behalf of extremely late nights deep in study. This level of concentration consumed as much time and effort as any full-time job, if not more. Pushing themselves to the brink of melting down but, it’s worth it because you’ll earn a wonderful career and assume a life of comfort and success.This idea has been completely lost on us as a generation. Kids study and work so hard to graduate and work at a gas station just to pay their mounting debts.

Young people are graduating with 120+ college credits to no avail. Banks are refusing to defer loans or water down and spread out payments to allow graduates to gain momentum. Graduates are working 60 hour weeks just to keep bill collectors off their backs. This isn’t what a college graduate should be subjected to. College is an avenue we take to avoid the paycheck to paycheck life. Higher education is supposed to separate young people from the masses, setting them apart in the eyes of employers.


Today’s young people are competing with old war-horses that have been laid off and are doing their best to make enough to retire. Companies aren’t investing in young, eager minds instead hiring the experienced just to maintain a certain homeostasis within their companies. Large corporations aren’t risking loss on failed attempts to groom young minds, and build future leaders, instead hiring people they see as a safe investment. These older people have a low cost of training, and aren’t long-term employment investments.

So, the young are forced to work jobs well below them, spending their days disgruntled and doubting why they bothered with educating themselves. They go about their days with the mindset of; “Damn, if I didn’t go to school I could be a shift supervisor at Macy’s making $18.00 an hour and affording a 2-bedroom apartment”. This type of mindset is sinful.

The young people of our country should aspire for great things. They are our future leaders, our business men and women, lawyers, and doctors. Instead they are mad that they worked hard to excel when they could have easily settled down out of high school and worked an honest job. I hold nothing against those who are shift supervisors at department stores, or dock workers and laborers. Quite frankly, they are the backbone of our country. My point is simple; those who decided to invest in education should be rewarded, not punished. They should live comfortably and happily, not nervous and anxious about how they’re going to repay their loans.


I write this article because I am a graduate of Penn State University, one of the most highly touted, well-known Universities in the world. It is a perennial top-50 school that’s comparable to an Ivy League education in many facets. I spent five years of my life with sleepless nights, studying endlessly in a library. I received my degree in Telecommunications, one of the best Telcom schools in our nation. I earned a 3.2 GPA Cumulative and a 3.8 in-major GPA. I currently unload trucks at a department store and have been turned down for more careers than I care to admit.

I am forced to give up my dreams of a career in broadcasting and seek employment elsewhere just in the hope of starting a meager life. I am a product of our country’s “higher education”. It’s time for young people to stand up to political monsters, tell them enough is enough. We are sick of them forcing their beliefs down our throats to steal the money out of our pockets. Stop convincing young people that paying extraordinary amounts of money is worth it.

Every year more and more people graduate to find that the world isn’t what they thought it was. They are encapsulated in a world of youthful joy in college, barred from the endless winter that awaits them outside the college bubble. They graduate with every bit of confidence that they will rise to the top but, little do they know, all that awaits them is disappointment, grief and debt.


Getting an interview is today’s “job”. I’ve been on a miniscule amount of interviews when compared to the amount of resumes and applications I’ve mailed. I’m met with the same dried-out, abused line every time: “Sorry, we’re just not hiring right now.” Or, “We just don’t have a place for you right now but, best of luck”. Every single time I ebb ever nearer to giving up, running away and never coming back.

My knuckles have been bloodied from all the innocent, inanimate objects I’ve struck. My steering wheel is evidence enough. Frustration has marred my mind, and relinquished me to mediocrity, no longer striving for dreams, but simply pecking at chances to pull my head above the proverbial water. One step forward, five steps back.


Complaining to older people affords you the same cliche responses: “Keep fighting kid, something’s gotta give” or, “Things will get better, just have to keep going”. Everyone has a breaking point, everyone will one day fall apart when enduring such endless negativity and rejection.
I am today’s America, and I demand change.

John Jude