John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Better than Gingko!

jyb_musingsMemory supplements may or may not help improve mmemory. But I have discovered a way to make you feel again like your mind is a steel trap.

Going off a prescription medication that has listed as a side effect “Memory.” It wasn’t clear from the side effect list if “memory” was affected negatively or positively as a possible side effect. Turns out it is negative. Fortunately, however, “Not caring about having memory loss” was NOT another side effect. So, my doctor took me off it.

It’s nice having the memory again of a 51 year old rather than a 91 year old. Like taking off ankle weights after wearing them all day, I feel like I can mentally run and jump again like never before. I feel ready to re-memorize all the books of the Bible, memorize the alphabet backwards (just for the heck of it), and learn a new language on Rosetta Stone in one day (but probably not today).

I probably won’t do any of these things. In fact, I am sure I won’t. But it is nice to have the thought that I might and could. Even better than the results I had with Gingko which I bought several years ago but admittedly never gave a full chance. (Full disclosure: I couldn’t remember where I put the bottle.)

Julie Rath: Your Fall Jacket Primer

One of my favorite activities at this time of year is selecting transitional  jackets for my clients. Moderate in weight, the Fall jacket falls squarely  between an overcoat or parka, and one made of light material like cotton or  nylon. The reason I like this type of jacket so much is that the stylistic  options are practically endless. Below are my top picks for Fall outerwear in 7  different categories.


Men's Style: Leather Jacket

The nice thing about this leather  jacket from John Varvatos ($1898) is that its waxed texture won’t show  scratches or spills the way a softer, smoother leather does. But at the same  time it still has a refined quality. The most important tip I can give you on  buying a leather jacket is to make sure it fits perfectly. If you  haven’t read my leather jacket guide, check it out here.

Field Jacket

Men's Style: Field Jacket

Downtown meets classic country in this great Moncler field  jacket ($1695). I love the combination of the quilting and knit fabrics for  creating visual interest.

Biking Jacket

Men's Style: Biking Jacket

I probably should’ve called this  jacket from Fay, “Field Jacket 2,” as I’m not quite sure what a Biking  Jacket is (the company’s term, not mine). Nonetheless, I am very much into this  refined yet approachable tweed wool coat which also comes in blue and gray.


Men's Style: Peacoat

A peacoat is one of the most versatile jackets around: you can wear it for  everything from a night out to a trip to the gym. I like this  one ($1795) from cult brand Camoshita for its elegant tailoring and  supersoft wool-cashmere blend. Bonus that this mid-gray color is universally  flattering.


Men's Style: Trenchcoat

You can’t go wrong in this minimalist pick from Jack Spade  ($595). It’s a clean and modern take on the classic trench. Wear it for dressy  or casual, rain or shine.


Men's Style: Quilted Vest

As I’ve said before, a thin down vest is a terrific layering piece. You  can throw it over or under a sportcoat/suit jacket for extra warmth  once the sun goes down. This  navy one from J. Crew ($128) is perfect because it’s thin and not as sporty  as many other vests.


Men's Style: Denim Jacket

This jacket  from Vince ($245) is a bit of a cheat, as denim is pretty lightweight. But when  layered correctly, you can absolutely incorporate a jean jacket into your Fall  repertoire. Rock it layered with a cardigan, hoody or wool vest. Bonus  tip: for a bold-playful look, try it with a pocket square. If that’s not  your jam, but you still want to add a stylistic touch, then put your sunglasses  in the chest pocket for an alternative take on the pocket square.


You’ll notice that my picks on a whole are simple and unfussy, which are good  things to aim for with outerwear, especially when you’re building a wardrobe. My  suggestion: keep the jacket classic, especially if it’s an investment piece.  Then you can pull in trends, colors/patterns you love or personal touches via  your accessories, like with the pocket square suggestion above, a scarf or even  a lapel pin. That way, if you get tired of those things, you can easily change  them up (which is much less painful than getting a new jacket every  season!).

What’s your Fall jacket of choice? Leave me a comment or question below. I  always love hearing from you!

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Wise Things My Grandfather Said

jyb_musingsI was just reminded of an interview my grandfather Brown did with the wonderful Sue Wylie when he was 84 years old.

After explaining all of the political races he had lost, Sue tried to offer a softball question to distract from the awkwardness and wrap up everything on a pleasant and hopeful note.

Sue queried, “But Mr Brown if you could live your life over would you have done anything differently?”

After a confused pause my grandfather responded, “Well, Honey, of course I would. I would have done a whole lot of things differently. Look, it’s a little silly to get to the end of your life and say you wouldn’t have done anything differently …if you could do everything over again.”

And he stopped. I loved it. And I never forgot the leason that when you are asked a question and aren’t sure how to answer it, you can’t go wrong going with raw candor. And then stopping.

Josh Bowen: 7 Fitness Habits of Highly Effective People

joshThis weekend I have been away at Disney World, learning from the best in the fitness industry. Most of what was covered was very simple and based on habits. So it got me to think about the fitness journey and the impact our habits have on our success or failure.

What are the habits that successful people have? In my humble opinion, here they are:

  1. Eat Whole Foods What is the ultimate secret to fitness success? Eat like you want to be successful. Eating non-processed, non-packaged, non-shit (sorry for the language) is the secret. Cleaning up just one aspect of your diet will make a huge difference. Focus the next 30 days on something, whether it is to eat more vegetables, cut out alcohol or eat more protein. We will call this the Aspire30. A 30 day whole food challenge. Are you ready?
  2. Stay Consistent No matter what you do, consistency will always be key in success. No one needs to workout every day. Decide upon a frequency (preferably 3-4 days per week) and commit to it. Again, let’s institute the Aspire30. 30 days straight of at least 3 workouts. That’s 12 workouts per month. Commit and execute. Also, stay consistent with your nutrition. Pick a focus and go for it for 30 days. This turns into a habit.
  3. Get Plenty of Rest Work + Rest= Success. You only gain muscle and lose fat during rest. Sleep is vitally important to that body fat loss. 7-8 hours per night. Focus for 30 days and see what happens.
  4. Lift Weights This is a no brainier. People who want to be in the best shape of their lives lift weights. The road to success is not on the treadmill or elliptical. It’s in picking up heavy things multiple times for a long stretch of time.
  5. Stay Hydrated Being properly hydrated effects your results…period! Those who don’t get results are not hydrated enough. Drink at least 100 ounces of water each day to maximize your goals and feel better.
  6. Have Laser Focus Focus on each task at hand with laser precision. For every problem there is a solution, your solution is to focus on the weak areas without being distracted. Do not cancel on yourself!
  7. Never Give Up Sometimes it doesn’t come to us as easy as it did. Sometimes we need to evaluate our habits to see if that is the problem of why we don’t results. Regardless, you should never give up. Never stop fighting and sure as he’ll never stop believing in your dreams.
  8. Bonus: Have Non Negotiables Set times periods you devote to workout. If you schedule a session, don’t cancel it. Make every effort to commit to the time you set aside.  To take yourself where you want to go or have never been, you must focus on the habits you form. Your thoughts become your reality, rid yourself of clutter and unnecessary static. Use the habits above to build a healthier you and look the best you can.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Intersex Communication

jyb_musingsGetting advice from my wife on the differences in how men and women communicate.

Rebecca suggests if you are mad at someone to just to ignore them. But I worry that the other person (the person you are mad at and ignoring) isn’t aware that my silence means I am mad at them.

I asked if it was possible to follow up with an email explaining my anger strategy.

Rebecca said only if it is a guy you are mad at.

I prefer communicating like a male. It keeps me from having to track down old email addresses, if nothing else.


t’s your loss, Honey.

My wife is working on something in our bedroom and asked me if I had time to help by doing her a favor….. I explained that I had a pile of busywork to finish and couldn’t help right now. Rebecca understood and I went back to my office in our home.

But before getting down to work, I saw I had left a basketball in the office from earlier. Feeling fidgety, I picked up the ball and tried to spin it on my finger, like I used to as a boy. I was a little rusty at first… but by the third try it was the ball spinning equivalent of riding a bicycle. You don’t forget how to do it. 

This was exciting to me.

So I took the ball and walked into our bedroom where Rebecca was working away and I started tossing the ball up and down while pacing casually and trying to think of how to bring up the topic most naturally, “Would you like to see me spin a basketball on my finger?”

But before I could ask anything, Rebecca looked up at me and said, “What are you doing in here? I am busy now and I thought you told me you had work to do.”

“I do.” I said. “Have work to do.” I paused and acted like I had been working and was confused how I ended up back in our bedroom holding a basketball. I looked at her and thought one last time about asking her if she wanted to see me spin the basketball on my finger.

“What do you want?” Rebecca asked. “Seriously? Are you just going to stand there? I really have a lot to do now.”

I just shrugged and said, “I have a lot to do too.” And mumbled under my breath “Probably even more than you” as I slinked out of the room with my basketball.

And back in my office I made a decision. I am never showing Rebecca how I can spin a basketball on my finger. Never. Ever. Even if she begs me to.

Unless she begs a whole lot. Over and over and over again. Then maybe.

But tonight, it’s her loss.

Lauren Mayer: Music Hath Charms To Soothe The Defeated Political Party

While I have the utmost respect for this site’s bipartisanship, readers know my views skew quite left.  However, I like to think that humor and music have bipartisan appeal – I grew up in Orange County (the red state in the middle of California . . . . cue rim shot), and even my most rabidly rightwing classmates will tell me they enjoy my videos, even if they know I’m totally wrong about everything.

So in that spirit, this week’s song, while still partisan, is an effort to please everyone.  Republicans can gloat over the political mistakes by Democrats I cite, Democrats can appreciate the strategic advice going forward, apolitical types can enjoy the bouncy catchy tune, and everyone can laugh at this middle-aged suburban Jewish mother imitating an adorabale pop star who is only 20.

Will Coy-Geeslin: Alchemy and the Shibboleth of “Amateurism” — My Letter to the UK President

Dr. Eli Capilouto

President, University of Kentucky

Office of the President
101 Main Building
Lexington, Kentucky 40506
Dr. Capilouto,                              
I write in my capacity as a concerned UK alumnus. (B.A. 1995, J.D. 1998, M.L.S. 1999) I have recently come to the conclusion that college athletes have an equitable right to a fair distribution of the $6 billion revenue that their labor generates.[1] My goal is to persuade you to lead an initiative to recalibrate college athletics in a manner that achieves social justice for the players and restores higher education’s integrity. This letter will discuss how I became disillusioned with the status quo. I will then share my thoughts regarding a path forward that builds on reform ideas that Joe Nocera outlined in the New York Times Magazine.
I became sensitized to the issue by a thoroughly demoralizing article entitled “The Shame of College Athletics” by civil rights historian Prof. Taylor Branch.[2] I grappled with its implications throughout the 2011-2012 basketball season. Like many UK alumni, I have fervently followed UK basketball for the majority of my life. The inequity inherent in the fact that Rodrick Rhodes received no compensation as a result of my 1993 purchase of a 12 jersey never occurred to me. To the extent that the unpaid labor issue crossed my mind, I figured that the entertaining performers on court at Rupp Arena receive plenty of benefits: free tuition, lodging, coaching, food, travel, access to UK doctors etc.
My thinking evolved after reading Prof. Branch’s article. I learned that the value of the in-kind benefits that revenue sport athletes receive is a small percentage of the money that their labor produces: “[t]he average Football Bowl Subdivision player would be worth $121,000 per year, while the average basketball player at that level would be worth $265,000.”[3]
I finally decided that I could no longer consume college basketball in good conscience. The product is produced on the backs of a young, mostly unsophisticated (mostly black) group who are not permitted to have a voice to represent their interests. I am not content to merely avert my individual gaze. I hope to persuade you to take a public position in favor of UK’s withdrawal from the NCAA, market-driven compensation for the players and ending UK’s support of the myth of the “student-athlete.”
Alchemy and the Shibboleth of “Amateurism”
Prof. Branch eloquently argues that  “‘amateurism’ and the ‘student-athlete’ are cynical hoaxes, legalistic confections propagated by the universities so they can exploit the skills and fame of young athletes.” He expanded this point in an NPR interview: “[t]he hoax is that it’s the only place in American society where we impose amateur status on someone without their consent. They’re not amateurs because they’ve chosen to be. They’re amateurs because we said that’s what you have to be.”[4] Prof. Branch’s article outlines the sad history that explains how the “student-athlete” concept was created to shield schools from workers’ compensation liability for incidents where players died or were paralyzed on the college football field.
Mark Emmert seems to perceive a threat in the expanding criticism of the NCAA cartel. In an apparent attempt to mute calls for reform, he instituted an annual cash stipend for college athletes in 2011. This was met with enough resistance by athletic directors that it was rescinded. The self-serving position that universities are unable to afford to pay $2000 a year to the performers in a $6 billion dollar entertainment industry brings the gross inequity of the status quo into stark relief.
On January 10, UK Athletics announced that it will fund the construction of new buildings on campus. It is hypocritical to suggest that paying the players would destroy the integrity of the competition but that it is okay for UK to spend the money without the players’ consent. I fail to understand the alchemy that leverages the shibboleth of “amateurism” to launder the otherwise corrupting loot into something virtuous when it funds UK facilities.
Recent incidents provide further evidence that the status quo is unjust. It was revealed on January 23 that the investigation of Miami football was compromised by NCAA investigator improprieties. The Miami controversy prompted Mark Story’s January 24 Lexington Herald-Leader column that asks this important question: “What if major college sports dropped all pretense of amateurism, adopted the Olympics model and allowed athletes to make whatever money the free market will yield?”. As Joe Nocera has written, the Olympics thrived after dispensing with silly amateurism absolutism.
Cleansing College Athletics: A Path Forward
Prof. Branch persuasively makes the case that college sports is shameful but he does not address the contours of what a fair system would look like. Joe Nocera added to the conversation by providing a viable path forward in his subsequent article entitled “Let’s Start Paying College Athletes.[5] His ideas for reform strike an admirable balance between fairness and reality. I want to offer some additional thoughts of my own that build on his piece. There are a host of other issues that would need to be carefully considered in any reform initiative. My purpose is to argue for a general paradigmatic shift that hinges on both a literal and philosophical withdrawal from the NCAA. Defenders of the status quo tend to find refuge in the thicket of details that would need to be addressed. My comments are based on a firm belief that the academy has sufficient expertise to debate and resolve them.
I think that we should acknowledge the reality that participating in big time college sports crowds out any opportunity for the athletes to receive a meaningful college education. Tensions between academics and athletics are always resolved in favor of the latter. As one example in a tsunami of others, a 9 p.m. Tuesday UK tip-off in Oxford, Mississippi is obviously incongruous with a reasonable academic schedule.
It is best to dispense with the charade that requires both the institutions and players to engage in Student-Athlete Theater. It is a self-evident facade that these people are equally interested in both athletics and academics.[6] Forcing de facto professional athletes to go through the motions of pursuing a degree corrodes higher education’s integrity. The players refer to this as Majoring in Eligibility: lowered admission standards (“special admits”), no-show classes, less-than-rigorous grading, and even outright academic fraud in the preparation of athletes’ work etc.[7] Rejecting the hoary sentimentalism that requires fealty to the “student-athlete” fiction would remove the incentives that drive academic corruption.
The players should have the same freedom as coaches to earn market-driven salaries and endorsements. Players who wish to become legitimate students can return to campus when their athletic careers end.Conforming to the requirements of the Kabuki Theater of Amateurism degrades higher education’s integrity. It also does great violence to the notion of fair treatment for the players.
In addition to a market-driven compensation that Joe suggests, I propose that revenue sport athletes receive a 1.5 year tuition credit for each year that they perform for universities. I think that a reasonable cap would be 6 years of tuition that can be used at any point during the athlete’s lifetime. The business of college sports can sufficiently fund this benefit if current growth is assumed. A lifetime credit would provide a fair opportunity for the 99% of athletes who do not end up in the NBA or NFL to achieve success beyond athletics. They would then actually be able to “receive [the] quality education” that you said they deserve in the Herald-Leader on June 19, 2011.
Universities should withdraw from the NCAA and bring the management of the business of college athletics into the academy. Universities have sufficient expertise to administer this system. Tenured faculty are expected to contribute to the campus community. Administration of of the business of college sports would fit within a reasonable expectation of their academic duties. Let’s return the nearly $300 million that the NCAA kept in the 2011-12 academic year to the players and universities. Let Mark Emmert find a new job that has a $1.7 million annual salary that is not a product of rent-seeking from powerless young people. Unmooring college athletics from the myth of the “student-athlete” would obviate any ontological justification for the NCAA.
The core fundamentals of a post-NCAA architecture should mirror other American pro sports: 1) roughly 50/50 split of the revenue between players and owner/universities; 2) the creation of a union that negotiates the terms of employment in a collective bargaining agreement; and 3) establishing a trust that will help provide affordable care to athletes that suffer long-term adverse health outcomes from playing college sports.
The tipping point of reform in college athletics appears to be approaching. There has been a rising tide of national criticism that has been published since Prof. Branch’s article.[8] The sordid affair was the topic of Frank Deford’s recent NPR commentary. He said that he seeks one college president to publicly admit that “the NCAA is a sham and we should get out of it.”[9] I ask that you demonstrate national leadership in the areas of integrity, institutional accountability and social responsibility by accepting Deford’s invitation.
In summary, I encourage you to revisit your thinking regarding the morality of the University of Kentucky’s support of a $6 billion dollar entertainment business that exploits young people and corrupts higher education. I ask that you read “The Shame of College Athletics” by Taylor Branch, “Let’s Start Paying College Athletes” by Joe Nocera and watch Frontline’s “Money and March Madness.”[10] The University of Kentucky’s regal college basketball history makes it uniquely qualified to be the institution that leads the movement to achieve social justice for the “student-athletes” whose interests the academic community purports to serve. The prospect of your publicly repudiating the cynical hoax of amateurism may seem difficult for you to imagine. However, the University of Kentucky should never be criticized for “dreaming too little dreams.”
Will Coy-Geeslin
Cc: Dr. Richard Angelo, The Atlantic, Prof. Lowell Bergman, Jay Bilas, Prof. Taylor Branch, Coach John Calipari, Chronicle of Higher Education, Frank Deford, The Drake Group, Mark Emmert, Patrick Hruby, Romogi Huma, Sarah Jaffe, Matt Jones, Ashley Judd, Prof. Michael LeRoy, Lexington Herald-Leader,  Mike and Mike in the Morning, NAACP, Joe Nocera, President Barack Obama, Prof. Dan Rascher, Jalen Rose, Kevin ScarbinskyProf. Ellen J. Staurowsky, SVP & Russillo, Mark Story, Derek Thompson, University of Kentucky Board of Trustees, Up with Chris Hayes, Dick Vitale, Travis Waldron, Prof. Frank X. Walker, Dan Wetzel, Mary Willingham and Prof. Andrew Zimbalist.

[1] $6 billion is a conservative accounting. Prof. Dan Rascher, an economist at the University of San Francisco, explained to me that he erred on the side of exclusion in his analysis. A broader definition that includes other income (such as merchandise sales at university bookstores) as well as “non-revenue” sports income increases the figure to $10 billion. By contrast, the NBA earned $4 billion and the NFL took in $9 billion. The idea that college football and basketball are amateur nonprofit endeavors is at great variance with any reasonable definition of those terms.
[2] The Atlantic, October 2011.
[3] The Price of Poverty in Big Time College Sport, National College Players Association (2011).
[4] “The NCAA and Its Treatment of Student Athletes,” All Things Considered, September 14, 2011.
[5] New York Times Magazine, December 2011.
[6] Naturally, Ohio State QB Cardale Jones was suspended for questioning the visibility of the Emperor’s wardrobe in an October 2012 Internet post: “Why should we go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.”
[7] Tutors Knew of Lifted Passages in U. of North Carolina Athletes’ Papers,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1, 2012; “UNC Tolerated Cheating, says insider Mary Willingham,” The News & Observer, November 17, 2012.
[8] One notable example among many others is UK alumnus Travis Waldron’s January 25 essay for Alternet entitled “Is The Outrageous Exploitation of College Athletes Finally Coming to an End?”.
[9] Morning Edition, “Dear College Presidents: Break the NCAA’s Vise Grip on Athletes,” February 27, 2013.
[10] PBS, March 29, 2011.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Life as Dress Rehearsal?

jyb_musingsSomething very thought provoking just occured to me.

What if life really is just a dress rehearsal? If so, how many “live” performances are we talking about and will we be expected to perform in all of them? And what kinds of snacks will be offered at intermission?

Could we maybe do just one full performance and just do some informal Q & A on the other nights?

I mean, we aren’t even finished with the dress rehearsal yet and it is hard sometimes to stay focused and remember my lines. I am not even sure we need an ending that ties up all the lose ends. Too many loose ends to keep track of anyway. Just go with a Sopranos type ending and wrap it.

Erica and Matt Chua: Can Americans Enjoy Cricket?

At Valley Forge George Washington participated in a cricket game with his troops.  This may have marked the highpoint of cricket in what would become the USA, but why is this so?  Can’t Americans enjoy cricket?  How does it compare to watching baseball?  We attended the T20 World Cup of Cricket in Sri Lanka to find out and offer the ultimate comparison…

As for excitement value, cricket matches baseball in dullness.  Both sports excel in offering vies of people standing around.  Better yet, just like baseball, you don’t have to worry about blinking…you won’t miss anything if you do…

EXCITEMENT WINNER: Draw, both of these sports are better in highlights than live.

What makes slow sports enjoyable?  Beer.  Cricket doesn’t fail the spectators, offering beers for $0.92 each.  Referring to this handy 2012 MLB beer price guide I see that the average beer at a baseball game costs $6.17.  To adjust for size, on a per ounce basis, cricket’s beer costs $0.12 per ounce versus the MLB average of $0.41.

Read the rest of…
Erica and Matt Chua: Can Americans Enjoy Cricket?

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Bugs

bugsParking next to this truck this morning while eating my breakfast made me think about some things.

First, staring at gigntic bugs while eating is a terrific way to suppress your appetite.

jyb_musingsSecond, although I am a Democrat, I am OK with outright killing these insects rather than just capturing and imprisoning them in hopes of eventually reforming them and returning them to society.

Especially the giant one on the left that I felt like was staring at me during breakfast.

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