Giannis Antetokounmpo

NBA All Star 2017

Good to see that the NBA All Star list for 2017 has a whole lot of good guys on it.

nbaallstar2017

Homelessness

  1. Young, gifted, and Homelessness
    More than 100,000 students on U.S. youth, public school and college teams have no stable place to live. Sports Illustrated goes inside the lives of three teen athletes struggling to overcome the hardships of homelessness.
    Published On :- 2014-Oct-16th
    Link

 

Stories

Giannis Antetokounmpo: The Most Intriguing Point Guard In NBA History
Link

On the worst nights, when the fadeaways are short and the pocket passes are late, Giannis Antetokounmpo skips the showers. He storms out of the Bradley Center in full uniform, from home locker room to player parking lot, and hops into the black Explorer the local Ford dealer lent him. He turns right on North 4th Street in downtown Milwaukee, steers toward the Hoan Bridge and continues six miles south to the Catholic seminary in St. Francis, where the priests pray and the Bucks train and The Freak dispenses his rage. Alone, Antetokounmpo reenacts the game he just played, every shot he clanked and every read he missed. Sometimes, he leaves by 1 a.m. Other times, he stays until three, sweating through his white jersey for a second time. “I get so mad, and if I go right home, I’m afraid I’ll never get that anger out,” Antetokounmpo says. “This is how I get the anger away.”

He used to administer his form of self-flagellation on the court, because that’s what he saw Chris Paul do after a Clippers loss in L.A. But he noticed some fans lingering in the lower bowl with their cellphone cameras and he didn’t want anybody to think he was putting on a show. So he retreats, in space and time. Here he is not the $100 million man with the catchy nickname and the barrel chest who studies Magic Johnson’s fast breaks and Russell Westbrook’s mean mugs, who wrestles LeBron and mimes Dirk, who hears MVP chants and references 40-balls. Here he is not even the spring-loaded first-round pick who arrived wide-eyed in the United States three and a half years ago, tweeting breathlessly about his first smoothie, refusing to use the auto-pump feature on his gas nozzle because he was so excited to pump it himself, chirping after a burger at In-N-Out in Westwood Village: “This is America right here! The real America! Isn’t it beautiful?”

No, here he is the lanky hustler from Athens, peddling watches, sunglasses, toys and video games, on the streets near the Acropolis while his parents feared that police would demand their papers and deport them back to Africa. Much of his backstory has been told, how Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo emigrated from Nigeria to Greece in 1991 for a better life, had four boys there, and bounced from one eviction notice to another. But the further Giannis gets from his childhood, the more it resonates, in different ways. “I can’t push it to the side,” Antetokounmpo explains. “I can’t say, ‘I’ve made it, I’m done with all that.’ I will always carry it with me. It’s where I learned to work like this.” He could sell all day, serenade tourists with Christmas carols at night, and return home without enough cash for dinner. Still, he laments, “The results were never guaranteed.” Therein he finds the biggest difference between his life then and now. “If I work here,” he says, “I get the results. That’s the greatest feeling ever for me.” It keeps him coming back to the gym—straight from the arena after losses, straight from the airport after road trips, straight from the bed after back-to-backs.

Antetokounmpo stands 6’ 11″, with legs so long opposing coaches constantly complain that he is traveling, until they review the tape. “He’s not,” says Wizards coach Scott Brooks. “It’s just that we’ve never seen somebody with a stride like this.” Among the NBA’s legion of stretchy giants, Kevin Durant is the scorer, Anthony Davis the slasher. Antetokounmpo is the creator, traversing half the court with four Sasquatch steps, surveying traffic like a big rig over smart cars. Durant and Davis try to play point guard. Antetokounmpo actually does it, dropping dimes over and around defenders’ heads, leading the Bucks in every major category; 23.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals. This season he will be the team’s first All-Star since Michael Redd in 2004, and before you learn to spell his surname, he will be much more.

Growing up, his customers occasionally mentioned his cartoonishly long limbs, but he shrugged. He didn’t need a 7’ 3″ wingspan. He needed a sucker to buy those knockoff shades. He viewed himself less as The Greek Freak than a Greek grinder. “I didn’t really look at my body and think about what it meant,” Antetokounmpo says. “I didn’t figure it out.” He glances down at his 12-inch hands, bigger than Kawhi Leonard’s, bigger than Wilt Chamberlain’s. He finally knows those names. “A lot of players will tell you, ‘When I was a kid, I watched Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, LeBron, Magic, and I wanted to be just like them,’ ” Antetokounmpo says. “For me it wasn’t like that at all.” He laughs, because at last he grasps the magnitude of his gifts and the ways they can be unleashed. He understands that a 22-year-old with his build and his drive should never go home hungry again.

Antetokounmpo lives in a modest three-story townhouse near Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, in the same complex as his parents. Like any hoop phenom, he subsists on Wingstop and NBA TV. But when he needs to steady himself amid his unimpeded ascent, he heads west to Omega restaurant, where 24 hours a day he can order gyros and lamb chops with sides of nostalgia and perspective. “I think about where I was four years ago, on the streets, and where I am today, able to take care of my kids and my grandkids and their grandkids,” Antetokounmpo marvels. “I’m not saying that in a cocky way or a disrespectful way. But it is a crazy story, isn’t it?”

On March 28, 2013, Bucks general manager John Hammond sat in a dining room at the Bradley Center before a game against the Lakers and explained why his team could not acquire a superstar. Hammond was in his fifth season, with a record of 181–206, never good enough to contend and never bad enough to tank. The stars he had brought to Milwaukee, if you can call them that, were Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, John Salmons and Carlos Delfino. Hammond outlined the two most obvious ways to land a prospective headliner: Finish on the fringe of the lottery and turn a lucky Ping-Pong ball into the first overall draft pick, which has about a 1.8% chance of occurring. Or pitch a premier free agent on a small market with a frigid climate and a mediocre roster, which comes with even steeper odds.

At the end of an otherwise dispiriting conversation, Hammond mentioned casually that he was leaving town the next day. “Where are you going?” I asked.

“Greece,” he said.

Memories of the trip have become blurred in the recounting: Antetokounmpo’s coach, idling outside the gym on a scooter, smoking a cigarette; Antetokounmpo’s teammates, nearly twice his age, coming straight to pregame warmups from their day jobs; Antetokounmpo’s parents, sitting high in the stands, as their beanstalk son deftly ran the point for Filathlitikos in the Greek second division. Hammond flashed back to a line that coach Larry Brown once told him. “For some people the game goes 110 miles per hour. For others, it goes 70.” Afterward Antetokounmpo’s Greek agents drove Hammond through Athens. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to this guy,” the GM said from the backseat. “But his life is about to change in a major way.”

The 18-year-old Antetokounmpo was no secret among scouts, but many organizations were scared to draft him, given that he couldn’t even score an invitation to the Nike Hoop Summit. But Hammond, desperate for that elusive star, was ready to take a risk. The Bucks picked Antetokounmpo 15th overall in 2013, recognizing that there is yet another way to secure a difference-maker: Steal him.

The day after the draft Antetokounmpo walked out of the elevator at The Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee, where former Wisconsin senator and Bucks owner Herb Kohl was coincidentally sitting in the lobby coffee shop. Antetokounmpo was self-conscious about his broken English, but Kohl’s top lieutenant, JoAnne Anton, happened to be fluent in Greek. “I remember how his eyes lit up when he heard her voice,” Hammond recalls. “It was a small thing, but you couldn’t help but think, ‘Maybe this is meant to be.’”

So began an endearing affair between Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee. He moved into a two-and-a-half-bedroom apartment in St. Francis that he shared with his parents and younger brothers, Kostas and Alex. Bucks guard O.J. Mayo sent him a U-Haul filled with furniture. Caron Butler and Zaza Pachulia helped him pick out clothes for road trips. Hammond and assistant general manager David Morway taught him to drive, parallel parking on the seminary grounds, and assistant video coordinator Ross Geiger lent him his maroon Subaru Outback Legacy. Geiger was Antetokounmpo’s best friend in Milwaukee, the one who oversaw his graduation from EDM to hip-hop, and instructed him on which lyrics he could sing in public and which he could not. But when they ate dinner, even at McDonald’s, Antetokounmpo insisted on splitting the bill. Either he didn’t comprehend how much more he earned than a video guy, or he couldn’t bear to part with the cash.

Milwaukee went 15–67 in Antetokounmpo’s rookie season, which dampened his enthusiasm not a bit. He memorized lines from Coming to America and Next Friday. He learned to throw a football with Morway’s sons, Michael and Robbie. He begged teammates to play the shooting game two-for-a-dollar that he picked up from power forward John Henson. When a Greek TV station came to visit, he told Geiger they would need a customized handshake, “so we look like we know what we’re doing.” The Bucks were brutal, and The Greek Freak averaged only 6.8 points, a reserve small forward who spent most of his time marooned in the corner, probing for open spaces and put-back dunks. But he provided highlights and hope. “I love Milwaukee!” Antetokounmpo told teammates over lunch at the facility one day. “I’m going to be in Milwaukee 20 years! I’ll be here so long they’ll be sick of me!” He feared that somebody would wake him from his dream and send him home. “That they’d take it all away from me,” he says.

To Bucks vets, Antetokounmpo supplied comic relief during a dismal winter, but Geiger sensed he was capable of more. One night they were watching a game on television when Antetokounmpo shouted, “Whoa! Did you see that?” Geiger hit rewind. Antetokounmpo was always amazed he could rewind live TV. “There it is!” Antetokounmpo yelped. “Look at the action on the help side and how that opens up the whole play!” Another night Geiger invited him to dinner at a friend’s house and Antetokounmpo barely uttered a word. On the way home, he told Geiger, “You’re really close with Erik, but you’re not that close with Matt.”

“He was right,” Geiger says. “He knows how to read people and situations. That’s because of how he grew up. He couldn’t waste his time selling you something for five minutes if you weren’t going to buy. He had to read body language and move on.”

When Antetokounmpo reminisces about his rookie year, he sounds as if he is talking about another era and another person. “I was like a kid in the park, seeing all the cities, seeing LeBron and KD, having so much fun. But that kid—the kid with the smoothies—I’m not really that kid anymore.”


Pro sports age everybody. There was the night in his first season when Antetokounmpo’s agent at Octagon, Alex Saratsis, told him that a Bucks assistant coach believed he wasn’t working hard enough. “You can tell me I’m not playing well,” Antetokounmpo replied, tears in his eyes. “You can tell me I’m not doing the right things. But you cannot tell me this. I won’t accept it.” And there was the night in his second season when the Bucks’ new head coach, Jason Kidd, banned him from shooting three-pointers. “I want to shoot threes,” Antetokounmpo argued. “How can I not shoot threes?” Geiger left for the Suns. Morway went to the Jazz. Nate Wolters, Antetokounmpo’s best friend on the team, was waived. “I didn’t know all that would happen,” Antetokounmpo says. “You build these relationships, know these people, and then all of a sudden you get a text in the summer: ‘I’m not coming back.’ What? You get mad. You learn this is a business.”

The first time Kidd benched him, Antetokounmpo was irate. “I was like, ‘Let’s see what this guy did in his career, anyway,’ ” Antetokounmpo recounts, and called up Kidd’s bio on his phone. “I saw Rookie of the Year, NBA championship, USA Olympic gold medal, second in assists, fifth in made threes, blah, blah, blah. I was like, ‘Jesus freaking Christ, how can I compete with that? I better zip it.’ ”

At 6’ 4″, Kidd is one of the best point guards who ever lived. “But I wanted so badly to be 6’ 7″ or 6’ 8″,” Kidd says. “Guys like Magic are looking through a window that’s so high. They can make passes I could only dream about.” He detected enough playmaking ability from Antetokounmpo to try him at point guard in the 2014 summer league and again in the ’15 preseason, but he wasn’t satisfied with the results. Last Feb. 20 in Atlanta, with the Bucks 11 games under .500 and Michael Carter-Williams coming off the bench, Kidd put the ball in Antetokounmpo’s massive mitts. “We didn’t talk about it,” Kidd says. “We didn’t make a big deal out of it. There was no pressure. We just wanted to try something different.”

The Bucks won that night in double overtime as Antetokounmpo had 19 points and three assists, and afterward Kidd embarked on an audacious experiment: building the biggest point guard anybody can remember. Kidd oversees the project, but assistant coach Sean Sweeney runs it, accompanying Antetokounmpo to his midnight workouts, deconstructing his pick-and-rolls, furnishing him with clips of Magic but also less predictable influences such as Kiki Vandeweghe’s post moves and Shawn Kemp’s transition dunks. Antetokounmpo hung a photo of himself, facing up against the Raptors, in Sweeney’s office. Sweeney has repeatedly taken the picture down, but somehow, it always returns. “Don’t forget about me!” Antetokounmpo sings.

This summer they worked out twice a day for two-and-a-half weeks at Long Beach State’s Walter Pyramid, picking strangers out of the bleachers to fill fast breaks. “It was an inordinate amount of time going through situations,” Sweeney says. “We’d start with the running game. ‘First look is to the big running to the rim. Next look is up the side to the wing. Next look is across the side. Now can you get it and go full speed? Now you can get it and go and pitch it back to a trailer who can shoot?’ ”

“You know what I liked about using all those strangers?” Kidd adds. “He had to speak. You don’t know these people, but you have to tell them what to do. They’re looking at you for direction and you have to give it to them. That’s what a point guard does. He has to know his teammates better than they know themselves.”

The Bucks acquired Matthew Dellavedova in July and made him their de facto floor general, but Giannis is the one making the decisions and feeling the consequences. “If this guy gets the ball five times, I know he’s happy, and if that guy gets it once, I know he’s not,” Antetokounmpo groans. “So I’m like, ‘Oh, man, I’ve got to get that guy the ball.’ It’s hard to satisfy everybody.”

Actually, it’s impossible, which is another of the lessons Kidd is imparting. There are things stars do, like pick up the bill at McDonald’s, and things they don’t, like placate everyone in their presence. “To make the next step, I’ve learned you need a little cockiness inside you,” Antetokounmpo says. “I can be a little cocky.” As a rookie, he jawed with Carmelo Anthony. In his second season, he body checked Mike Dunleavy. But the Bucks have been seeing his snarl more often of late, after pep talks from Kobe Bryant last season and Kevin Garnett last month, as well as daily skull sessions with veteran Bucks guard Jason Terry. “I’ll tell him something at a timeout like, ‘Watch the curl, and if the curl isn’t there, the slip will be wide open,’ ” says Terry. “And he’ll always tell me, ‘I got you, bro.’ ” He searches for the slightest edge, because a highlight a night is not enough anymore. He needs 25/12/8 with a win. “I’ve definitely become more serious,” Antetokounmpo says. “I have a franchise on my shoulders.”

On 28-And-a-half acres around the Bradley Center, the Bucks are constructing a new practice facility that will open later this year and a new arena that will open next year. Next to the site is a billboard, featuring Antetokounmpo’s muscled back, over the slogan the future looks strong. Hammond, it turns out, proved himself wrong, and possibly twice. He found a star, and he might have snagged another, drafting forward Jabari Parker second in 2014. The Bucks currently sit seventh in the East, but outside of Cleveland, their long-term outlook is as bright as anybody’s.

Hammond and Antetokounmpo talk often, though no longer about the perils of right turns on red. “He’s trying to figure this whole thing out, what he’s going to be,” Hammond says. “We’re seeing this more focused side of him, but it’s a fine line. You still want to enjoy the game, the fun part of it.” His trust is difficult to earn. Private trainers with renowned NBA clients offer to work with Antetokounmpo every summer. He turns them all down, sticking with Bucks staffers.

“Because my parents were illegal, they couldn’t trust anybody,” Antetokounmpo says. “They were always nervous. A neighbor could be like, ‘These people are making too much noise, their children are making too much noise,’ and the cops could knock at our door and ask for our papers and that’s it. It’s that simple. So you’re always a little closed. I’m outgoing when I feel comfortable, but it took me 21 years just to invite a girl to meet my friends. I’m closed too.”

Around familiar faces, like his live-in girlfriend, his innocence is impossible to extinguish. When Saratsis mentions the All-Star Game, Antetokounmpo hushes him, so as not to jinx it. When Geiger visits, Antetokounmpo hands him the Wingstop menu, with the addendum, “I’m buying!” And when Kostas left home for the University of Dayton this fall, big brother drove six hours to move him into his dorm, stopping only at Wal-Mart. “Here is Giannis at midnight, with 80% of the freshman class, walking up and down the hallway carrying bedsheets,” recalls Dayton coach Archie Miller.

Giannis functions as the family patriarch, with his father adjusting to the United States and his older brother, Thanasis, playing in Spain. When Giannis inked his four-year, $100 million extension in September—after postponing the signing by four hours to accommodate a morning workout—he called Bucks co-owner Wes Edens at his hotel in Ireland. “I just wanted to say thank you for the money,” Antetokounmpo started. “It means so much to me and my family. I’m going to work very hard for it.” Then he offered to buy friends and family steak at the Capital Grille in Milwaukee for lunch. When the meat arrived, with appetizers and side dishes, Giannis looked alarmed. “I don’t know who’s paying for all this,” he cracked, “because I only said I’d get the steak.”

Three months later he walks into the practice gym the morning after a home-and-home with the Cavaliers, 76 minutes in close proximity to LeBron James. “You feel different after you play him,” Antetokounmpo reports. “Your legs, your body, you’re sore everywhere. Sometimes you have to lie to yourself, lie to your mother: ‘Yeah, I’m good, I’m good.’ ” The team has the day off. “But where else do I have to be?” he asks. He plays two-on-two. He shoots along the arc with Sweeney. Rookie Thon Maker mops the floor. Antetokounmpo’s three-point percentage, 29.3 this season, right around his career mark, is still the source of much consternation. Judging by his practice sessions, it will spike soon, and then there won’t be any way left to defend him. “When I’m coaching,” muses the 39-year-old Terry, “he’ll be pretty much unguardable.”

The next night, against Washington, Antetokounmpo starts the game with a reverse layup, a midrange pull-up, a pair of sweeping hooks and finger rolls. The Wizards can’t keep him out of the lane or off the free throw line. He dunks off a Eurostep, a lob, a back-cut and a put-back. He dunks over Kelly Oubre, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris, flexing as they wince. When Morris fouls him hard on a breakaway, Antetokounmpo sprints over to ask him about it. He has 24 points in the first half, Milwaukee has 73, and the Cream City Clash in Section 222 chant: “Can’t Stop Gian-nis!” He looks as long as Durant, as strong as Davis, as ferocious as Westbrook. He’s got Dirk’s fadeaway, with the right knee raised, and a nifty two-handed scoop all his own.

He finds Parker for a dunk and a layup, Henson for a layup, Dellavedova for a short J. Leading the break, he whips a pass to Terry in the corner for three. I got you, bro. In the post he backs down a trio of Wizards and kicks out to Malcolm Brogdon for another three. With 6:26 left he stands on the free throw line, and the locals break out a rare MVP chant. He has a career-high 39 points. He craves the 40-ball. He tries to settle himself, but the second free throw rims out, and Kidd calls him to the bench. The Bucks lead by 27, which will be their final margin. He winks at Alex, his youngest brother, behind the courtside seats.

In the locker room afterward, players scatter for Christmas, two days away. “Stay out of the gym!” swingman Tony Snell cautions, and Antetokounmpo surreptitiously shakes his head. “I don’t know,” he mutters. A few minutes later the black Explorer turns right on North 4th Street, toward the snow-covered bridge, taking the league’s most unlikely driver to a place only he can see.ic fever dream that is Giannis Antetokounmpo on a basketball court. Basketball fans now call him “The Greek Freak,” a name he’s fully earned with his play.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Antetokounmpo’s dizzying skill-set is exemplified in those passes. At the end of last season, with the playoffs out of reach, Bucks coach Jason Kidd began experimentally playing the 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo, who has the height of a center, at point guard.

The results were exhilarating for Bucks fans, and terrifying for the rest of the league. In the team’s final 26 games last season, Antetokounmpo registered five triple doubles, two more than any Bucks player had ever registered in a full season, according to Fox Sports Wisconsin. He averaged 18.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.9 blocks per game — eye-popping numbers for any NBA player, let alone a 21-year-old who not long ago was playing in Greece’s second division.

But those days — like the days of wondering whether the family fridge would be full or empty — are now a world away.

“It’s a wonderful feeling. I can’t describe how excited I feel, you know,” Antetokounmpo told Sager on draft day in 2013. “It’s a dream come true.”

 

References

  1. Stories
    • Sam Liard :- Marshable.Com
      • The NBA’s newest $100 million man is someone whose story you can’t help but love
        Link
    • Associated Press
      • Greek federation: Remarks ‘racist’
        Link
    • The Undefeated
      • Marc J. Spears
        • Giannis Antetokounmpo’s first NBA All-Star appearance is just the first step in a promising career
          Link
    • Adam Paris :- Brew Hoop.com
      • On The Rise: A Tale of Two NBA Cities
        The Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks might seem to have little in common, but there’s more similarities than meets the eye.
        Link
  2. Interview
    • The Greek Freak Is Back For Round Two: The Cusp
      Link
    • The Starters: When “Greek Meets Freak”
      Link
  3. NBA Players
    • NBA Players on Giannis Antetokounmpo
      Link
  4. Dunk Contest
    • 2015
      • Thanasis Antetokounmpo dunks over brother Giannis
        Link
      • Giannis Antetokounmpo Top 10 Dunks Of His Career!
        Link

Twins :- Adopted Or Just Different

 

Videos & Write Ups

  1. Mia and Alexandra
    • Independent Lens | Twin Sisters | Sibling Love | PBS
      Published on :- 2015-Sept-18th
      Link
    • The Amazing Story of Twin Sisters
      Link
    • The Movie
      Link
  2. Lucy and Maria Aylmer
    • Good Morning Britain
      • Non-Identical Twins | Good Morning Britain
        Link
  3. Anais Bordier & Samantha Futerman
    • ABC News
      • Twin Sisters Separated at Birth Reunite
        Link
  4. Audrey Doering & Gracie Rainsberry
    • On Good Morning America
      • Twin Sisters Separated at Birth Reunite on ‘GMA’
        Link
      • Identical Twins Reunited on ‘GMA’ Explore NYC Together
        Link
    • ABC News
      1. Identical Twin Sisters Separated at Birth Reunite
        Link

 

 

 

Indepth

Mia & Alexandra

The Story

Link

In this heartwarming documentary, identical twins Mia and Alexandra were found as babies in a cardbox in China in 2003. They were separated and put up for adoption to two families from opposite corners of the world: One of them from a small village in Norway, surrounded by high mountains and deep fjords, and the other from the major American city of Sacramento, California.

The twins are reunited by destiny when, incredibly, their adoptive mothers brought identical red gingham dresses for them to wear on adoption day. This startling coincidence made the mothers take note of each other and start talking. That’s when they noticed that the girls looked very much alike… but the orphanage denied that the girls were related.

Six months later, established a world apart, truth has its day when DNA tests confirm that the girls are identical twins.

A true story of inspiration, Twin Sisters follows Mia and Alexandra through an uplifting parallel journey until they reunite in Norway when they are 8 years old. This is one of those feel-good stories that will make you cry, laugh, and think about the people you miss in your life. Among the top documentaries in the world, this award-winning film has been seen by an estimated 20 million people so far, and broadcast by 30 TV channels around the world.

The roots of Tim Cook’s activism lie in rural Alabama

Background

There is a nice story on Washingtonpost web site today.

It talks a bit about Apple’s Tim Cook.

Here is the Link.

Quotes

As someone drawn in by quotes, there are a couple that resonates with me.

  • Cook tweeted a quote from the book: “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
  • Later, Cook studied Kennedy’s writings and speeches, such as his “Ripple of Hope” speech about the necessity of standing up and doing the right thing.
  •  He wrote that he doesn’t consider himself an activist, yet felt a responsibility to help others.
  • Cook believed that if he wanted to change the world, he had to do it on his own time. Not at work.
  • “Steve didn’t see it that way,” Cook recalled of his predecessor Jobs. “He was an idealist. And in that way he reminded me of how I felt as a teenager.”
  • Jobs insisted they could change the world by working hard and making great products, that “there is opportunity to do work that is infused with moral purpose.”
  • Last December … he accepted the Ripple of Hope award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
  • Some things are hard, and some things are right, and some things are both,” he said last month in an ABC News interview. “This is one of those things.

 

Story

ROBERTSDALE, Ala. — There are few clues that this is the home town of Apple chief executive Tim Cook, the place where his “most improbable journey” began and where he forged the beliefs that today put him at the center of a national debate over privacy.

His name is not noted on the town’s welcome signs along the main drag, Route 59. There’s nothing in the local chamber’s brochures, and the local paper rarely has anything about him. His old high school keeps a glass case celebrating former NFL running back Joe Childress, Class of 1952, but not the leader of the world’s most valuable company, Class of 1978.

Walking around the town and talking with residents, it can feel as if Cook is a forgotten favorite son.

“I kinda wonder about that sometimes, I really do,” said Rick Ousley, a former classmate who recalls Cook fondly and now runs a computer repair shop in town.

Cook never sought out attention and many here are quietly proud of him, but Ousley suspects the lack of recognition is also tied to Cook’s prominent positions on sensitive social issues. Cook, who is gay, has advocated for gay rights. He once criticized Alabama for its lack of progress in a speech at the state capitol in Montgomery. He also helped fund a gay rights initiative in the Deep South.

“That was offensive to a lot of people down here,” Ousley said. One local pastor even vowed to stop using his iPad because of the Apple leader’s views.

Now, Cook, 55, has taken another risky stand, this time on privacy. He and Apple are fighting a federal court order demanding the Silicon Valley firm help the FBI crack the passcode-locked iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists. The FBI has accused Cook of only wanting to protect Apple’s brand. But Cook, in his soft Southern drawl, has repeatedly argued the FBI’s request is wrong in moral terms, calling it “bad for America.”

Cook’s experiences growing up in Robertsdale – detailed by him in public speeches and recalled by others — are key to understanding how a once-quiet tech executive became one of the world’s most outspoken corporate leaders. Apple has long emphasized the privacy of its products, but today Cook talks about privacy not as an attribute of a device, but as a right — a view colored by his own history.

For Cook, it was in this tiny town midway between Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla., that a book-smart boy developed what he calls his “moral sense.”

On the surface easy-going and popular, according to former classmates, Cook seemed too aware of the injustices around him.

“I have to believe that growing up in Alabama, during the 1960s and witnessing what he did, especially as someone who is gay, he understood the dangers of remaining silent,” said Kerry Kennedy, a human-rights activist who has met Cook several times and whose father, Robert F. Kennedy, Cook considers one of his heroes.

“He’s not afraid to stand up when he sees something wrong,” she added.

***

Cook’s chance to stand up came early, when he was in just the sixth or seventh grade.

In the early 1970s, he was riding his new 10-speed bicycle at night along a rural road just outside Robertsdale when he spotted a burning cross. He pedaled closer.

He saw Klansmen in white hoods and robes. The cross was on the property of a family he knew was black. It was almost more than he could comprehend.

Without thinking, he shouted, “Stop!”

The group turned toward the boy. One of them raised his hood. Cook recognized the man as a local deacon at one of the dozen churches in town, but not the one attended by Cook’s family.

The man warned the boy to keep moving.

“This image was permanently imprinted in my brain and it would change my life forever,” Cook recalled in a speech in 2013, an incident that he also has recounted to friends.

A few years later, at age 16, Cook won an essay contest sponsored by a rural electric company and, as part of the prize, met Alabama Gov. George Wallace, the segregationist who resisted the federal government’s attempts to integrate the state’s public schools during the ’60s.

Cook shook Wallace’s hand that day, but described it as “a betrayal of my own beliefs,” he said in a speech last year. “It felt wrong. Like I was selling a piece of my soul.”

On the same trip, Cook met President Jimmy Carter at the White House. To Cook, the difference between the two men was impossible to miss — “one was right and one was wrong.”

Another student from southern Alabama on that same trip noted just how different her reaction had been: She was a teenager happy just to fly on a plane for the first time. She wasn’t thinking at all about what those two men represented.

But Cook did.

***

Timothy Donald Cook was born in 1960, the second of three sons to Donald and Geraldine Cook. His mom looked after the boys at home and sometimes worked at Lee’s Drug, a pharmacy in town. His dad worked at the shipyards in Mobile. They lived in a brick house on a dead-end street not far from a livestock auction house. Money was tight. When Cook wrote that award-winning essay at age 16, he had to do it by hand. His family couldn’t afford a new typewriter, almost $800 in today’s money.

Cook has always been private – he declined to comment for this story – and he rarely talks about his family in public.

Today, one brother works as a business analyst in North Carolina. The other lives in Daphne, 15 miles from Robertsdale. His father, 83, still lives here. His mother died last year at age 77. No obituary ran in the local paper, leaving some extended family in the dark. But many townspeople assumed it was because the Cooks worried about publicity.

The precocious nature of Cook’s interest in justice appears to be woven throughout his life.

One of his earliest memories is watching Robert F. Kennedy, who opposed Wallace’s segregationist policies, on a black and white television in early 1968. Cook recalled in a talk last December that he was most struck by the “unique accent that seemed very strange for a Southerner to hear.”

Later, Cook studied Kennedy’s writings and speeches, such as his “Ripple of Hope” speech about the necessity of standing up and doing the right thing.

Today, at his Apple office in Cupertino, Calif., Cook keeps two photos of Kennedy on his wall, plus a photo of Martin Luther King Jr.

Those are hardly the typical corporate suite choices.

But the lessons of Kennedy and King were not readily available to Cook in Alabama. He had to actively search out “what was right and true.”

“I drew on the moral sense that I’d learned from my parents, and in church, and in my own heart, and that led me on my own journey of discovery,” he recalled in one speech.

He made frequent visits to the small Robertsdale library, where he found a copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird” – published only a few years earlier — and devoured the story of a trial exposing the dangers of racism in a fictional Alabama town.

When author Harper Lee died last month, Cook tweeted a quote from the book: “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

***

Robertsdale today is a two water-tower town of about 5,200 residents. It’s doubled in size since Cook grew up here, with houses spreading across former farm fields. The town got its first Walmart Supercenter two years ago.

Back in 1977, the new store in town was a Piggly Wiggly. There was no movie theater. No bowling alley. The fall county fair was the big deal. Teens hung out on the town’s tennis courts or outside Hammond’s Supermarket, where they knew the owner.

“There was nothing to do,” said Teresa Prochaska Huntsman, another Class of ’78 alum.

School was the center of their lives. And Cook excelled there. He was in the National Honor Society and racked up academic honors. So did Huntsman, who managed to edge out Cook for the title of class valedictorian.

The pair were so driven that they worried they were not learning enough in a senior chemistry class. The teacher was a football coach who told students to just read a book or play cards, Huntsman recalled.

“We were concerned that if we went to college we wouldn’t be prepared,” she said.

They talked to a school counselor, who told them not to worry.

Cook — with a quick smile and the bushy hairdo popular at the time — was well-liked by his classmates.

“He just seemed like a happy guy,” Huntsman said.

“He probably considered himself to be a bit nerdy, but he didn’t come off that way,” recalled Harold Richardson, another former classmate.

And the topic of whether Cook — or any other student — was gay wasn’t even on the radar.

“In the ’70s, in high school, no one thought about that, especially in Alabama,” Richardson said.

It was like it wasn’t even possible.

Growing up gay in small-town Alabama a generation ago meant knowing the value of privacy, recalled Paul Hard, 57, who was raised in tiny Demopolis, Ala. He doesn’t know Cook, but imagines what he went through, because he went through it himself.

“You kept your cards close to your chest,” he said.

***

Cook first publicly acknowledged he was gay in a 2014 opinion piece. He wrote that he doesn’t consider himself an activist, yet felt a responsibility to help others.

It was an event that made headlines around the world. Today, Cook is still the only openly gay leader of a Fortune 500 company.

“I don’t think it’s been fully realized how big a deal it is,” said Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign.

But Cook’s admission was not universally celebrated, illustrating the potential risk Cook faced throughout his career.

In the early 1990s, Cook worked at computer reseller Intelligent Electronics, where his boss was Mark Briggs, who today hails Cook as “an operational genius.”

But Briggs also objects to Cook’s view on homosexuality.

“The very fact of homosexuality is abhorrent to God,” Briggs said. He described it a behavior that can be controlled — “exactly the same thing as alcoholism.”

Briggs said he never knew Cook was gay when they worked together and insists it would not have mattered.

“He knows I don’t approve of homosexuality,” Briggs said. “He knew it then. He knows it now. No big deal.”

***

For years, Cook hid his desire to speak out.

That started to change when he arrived at Apple in 1998. Hired as a senior vice president to fix Apple’s problematic supply chains, Cook believed that if he wanted to change the world, he had to do it on his own time. Not at work.

“Steve didn’t see it that way,” Cook recalled of his predecessor Jobs. “He was an idealist. And in that way he reminded me of how I felt as a teenager.”

Jobs insisted they could change the world by working hard and making great products, that “there is opportunity to do work that is infused with moral purpose.”

Cook pushed this point even further when he took over Apple in 2011. He advocated for gay rights and to change laws in states such as Alabama, where employees can be fired for being gay. He criticized states with “religious freedom” laws that seemed to him to sanction some forms of discrimination.

Last December, shortly before the fate of a terrorist’s iPhone would explode onto the national scene, he accepted the Ripple of Hope award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

In his speech, Cook talked about learning to “take a stand for what is right, for what is just.”

And when the terrorist’s iPhone case erupted last month, Cook returned to that “moral sense” he learned back in Robertsdale.

***

Apple’s first response was a “Letter to Our Customers,” authored by Cook. He wrote that “it would be wrong” for Apple to be forced to create a backdoor to its security system.

“We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government, “ Cook wrote.

Tech companies such as Google and Facebook have supported Apple. Law enforcement groups and some family members of the 14 people killed in the Dec. 2 terrorist attack have lined up behind the FBI.

The Justice Department has accused Apple of focusing on “a perceived negative impact on its reputation.”

Cook, however, has framed it as a difficult moral choice.

“Some things are hard, and some things are right, and some things are both,” he said last month in an ABC News interview. “This is one of those things.”

***

Cook still calls himself “a proud son of the South.”

He returns to Alabama when he can, usually around the holidays in Robertsdale or at least down to Auburn, three hours away, where he loves to watch his alma mater play football.

Residents have been following Cook and the privacy dispute.

“I don’t want the government looking at my iPhone,” former classmate Diane Middleton-Vogel said.

And many of them take pride in how far Cook has gone.

“We just have a lot of respect for him,” said Robertsdale Mayor Charles Murphy.

Cook and Apple, he said, “have changed history.”

At the local high school, there is one sign that appears to connect Robertsdale with Cook. Every student there has a MacBook laptop. The familiar Apple logo is visible throughout the halls.

The laptops were bought a few years ago by the county school system. But last month the school board voted to move in a new direction. This fall, every student will be assigned a Lenovo Chromebook instead.

It’s nothing personal. The Chromebooks were just cheaper.

 

 

Fear of a vengeful God may explain humanity’s global expansion

Article

By Niraj Chokshi
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/02/12/fear-of-a-vengeful-god-may-explain-humanitys-global-expansion/

The fear that a punitive God is watching may have helped drive humanity’s global expansion, a team of international researchers argues in a new paper.

Their research, conducted in communities around the world and summarized in a peer-reviewed paper published this week by the journal Nature, finds that people who hold such beliefs about God tend to act less selfishly.

When people are inclined to behave impartially toward others – even if that’s because they fear retribution – they are more likely to adopt behaviors that can create and support large-scale cooperative institutions, such as trade and markets.

“They’re playing by the rules towards people they never interact with,” said lead author Benjamin Purzycki, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Human Evolution, Cognition, and Culture.

That magnanimous behavior, Purzycki and his colleagues argue, may be what helped foster the trust needed for humanity’s growth.

To understand how religious belief affects individual behavior, the researchers set up experiments in eight communities of varying size in Brazil, Fiji, Mauritius, Siberia, Tanzania and Vanuatu. Nearly 600 people participated, representing a wide range of faiths from Christianity and Hinduism to Buddhism, animism and ancestor worship.

The researchers asked each participant to play a pair of economic games. In each game, participants received 30 coins, two cups and a dice with half of its six sides one color and the other half another. They were told to mentally pick a cup and roll the dice; they were then instructed, based on the dice color, to put the coin either into the cup they were imagining or the one they weren’t.

In both experiments, one cup was assigned to a distant and anonymous adherent of the participant’s religion. The second cup was either assigned to the participant or to an anonymous local adherent of the same religion.

Participants were told that each cup’s contents at the end of the game would go to whomever it was assigned. After the games, they were also asked a series of questions related to their religious beliefs.

“It’s easy to talk about these results as effectively [suggesting that] religious people are nicer, but I think that’s misleading,” he said.
In theory, the game would end with an average of 15 coins evenly split in either cup, thanks to random chance.

But the experimenters designed the game to make it easy to cheat: because participants chose the cup in their head, they could easily override the rules. And they did.

As might be expected, participants were most likely to cheat in their own favor; they were least likely to cheat in favor of their “distant co-religionists.”

But the higher a participant rated their God as moralistic, knowledgeable and punishing, the fairer they were to the distant stranger of the same faith.

“They’re playing by the rules towards people they never interact with,” Purzycki said.

Participants who believed in a moralistic and punishing God were about five times fairer to their distant “co-religionists” than participants who didn’t know whether their God was moralistic, the researchers found.

The effect of fear remained even after they accounted for other variables — for example, belief in divine rewards for good behavior.

Fear, it seems, encourages selflessness, an act that promotes trust.

When people are more inclined to behave impartially towards others, they are more likely to share beliefs and behaviors that foster the development of larger-scale cooperative institutions, trade, markets and alliances with strangers,” the researchers argue.

Dominic Johnson, a politics professor at the University of Oxford, found the team’s findings particularly compelling.

“Purzycki and colleagues’ study offers the most explicit evidence yet that belief in supernatural punishment has been instrumental in boosting cooperation in human societies,” Johnson wrote in a commentary accompanying their research.

In an audio interview posted to Nature’s website, Johnson described the study as “quite remarkable.”

Purzycki cautioned against drawing too strong a conclusion about the kindness of people of faith, however.
“It’s easy to talk about these results as effectively [suggesting that] religious people are nicer, but I think that’s misleading,” he said.

The findings do suggest cooperation, he said; but that doesn’t necessarily translate to kindness.

“Any sort of terrorist network — they’re really hyper-cooperative,” he said. “We don’t have to like their ends at all, but it’s remarkable how cooperative they are.”

The findings are also limited to individual behavior to their religious peers. People who believe in a punitive God may not be so cooperative with strangers of a different — or no — faith.

Quotes

  1. What, if any, is the role of religion in expansion of Society?
  2. Consideration of various religions
    • Moralistic God, especially Gods that punish such as Abrahamic Religions ( Christian / Islam / Judaism )
  3.  Societies
    • Religion affords congruency as settlements expands
    • As societies got bigger, their God got bigger
    • Big Societies have big Gods
  4. Side Effects
    • Religion rationalized violences
    • People can use religion
  5. Reproductive Success?
    • Do we have religion because it promotes reproductive success
    • Spread Genes

 

Additional Resources

  1. Shamini Bundell investigates how religious beliefs affect how cooperation in society ( Audio )
  2. Dominic D. P. Johnson – Hand of the gods in human civilization

Monsieur M. Going Home

Prelude

Thursday was a tough day at the Office.

Here is why…

Hi everyone. Monsieur M’s health declined rapidly over the weekend. By Tuesday he was almost completely unable to stand or walk. He wasn’t in much pain, and he wasn’t very sad, he was just tired and weak. On Wednesday we went for a nice ride in the car—one of his absolute favorite things to do—and he ate a 3×2 and a cheeseburger from In-N-Out, fries and a strawberry milkshake, and two chocolate cupcakes. Then a mobile vet came to my house and put Monsieur M. to sleep. He died in my arms, peaceful and content, snoring like a baby.

Thank you all for being such good friends to Monsieur M. He loved you all, and he loved being the office dog here. He had a very full and happy life.

I’m sorry to bring you such terrible news today. Please feel absolutely free to talk to me about this whenever you want and in whatever way you want—I’m completely comfortable talking about it, although I will probably cry.

And, for the record, as soon as you all are ready, I’m ready to see other dogs in the office. I’m sure Monsieur R will be happy to have more time in the office, and I can’t wait to meet Ms. Sierra and Ms. Catherine dogs.

Love,

Monsieur N.

 

Listening

Smokey Robinson – Easy to Love

Sermons & Discussions – 2015/Dec

 

Here are the sermons and discussions for Dec 2015

  1. Jonathan Cahn
  2. Ray Bentley & Robert Mawire
  3. John Paul Jackson
  4. Joseph Jordan
  5. Pastor Robert Morris
  6. Joseph Sciambra ( Ex Pornography Star )
    This is not for everyone, and so please demonstrate the highest restraint and discretion prior to viewing.  Included not for entertainment, but to show how far our Lord, the Good Shepherd, will go to bring back his own.

  7. Dave Patty ( Director and president of Josiah Venture and missionary in the Czech Republic )

 

Scriptures

David’s Tabernacle

Amos 9:11-12

In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:

That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.

Acts 15:16-17

“‘After this I will return,

and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;

I will rebuild its ruins,

and I will restore it,

that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord,

and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,

says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.

1 Corinthians 10:32-33

Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

Ephesians 2:14-16

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

Spiritual Warfare

Ephesians 6:19

And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel …

Holy Spirit

Zephaniah 3:9-10

For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language,
That they all may call on the name of the Lord,
To serve Him with one accord.
From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
My worshipers,
The daughter of My dispersed ones,
Shall bring My offering.

God’s will (  by David Patty )

Galatians 5:25

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives

1 Thessalonians 4:3

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication

1 Peter 2:13-15 ( Submission to Authority )

For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed.
For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.
It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.

Acts 13:2-4  (Paul’s First Missionary Journey)

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,
“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

 

Acts 15:28 ( The Letter to the Gentile Believers )

…”Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth. “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”

Acts 16:6-10 – Kept by the Spirit

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.
And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Quotes

Joe Jordan

  1. If you are working in this area, I think you need some protection.  You really need some kind of covering.
    There are some kind of forces that you need to be protected from.  That is not going to help you, it isn’t helping you right now.
  2. You already have what you need
  3. Help someone else get free

 

Pastor Robert Morris

  1. Is it possible that you are losing some battles because you are not
    • building up yourself spiritually
    • you are not putting up the whole armor
    • using your spirit to pray, you are only praying through your soul

 

Dave Patty

  1. God makes his plan in broad sweeps
  2. Gods reveals his will in steps
  3. God waits for our obedience before revealing the next step
  4. He might tell you about his destination, but waits for you
  5. If you for looking for the whole plan, you likely will not find it
  6. How do we discern his will
    • His Moral Will
    • The Spirit of God
      • The Spirit of God said ( Acts 13:2-4 )
      • Seemed good to us and the Spirit ( Acts 15:28 )
      • Having being kept by the Spirit ( Acts 16:6-10 )
    • The Mind of God
    • People of God
      • But with those who take advice is wisdom ( Proverbs 13:10 )
      • Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established ( Proverbs 15:22 )
    • Sovereignty of God
      • I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) . [ Romans 1:13 ]
      • But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries ( 1 Corinthians 16:9 )

 

Joseph Sciambra

  1. God humbles us, and reminds us sometimes of our past, to bring us closer to him, and to let us know how much we need him

 

Prayer

Here is Joe Jordan’s Salutation to our one and only God…

ברוך אתה ה’ אלהינו, מלך העולם…

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam…

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King and Ruler of the universe...”

Video

Joey Martin Fink +Rory

Background

Hate to be a groupie and jump on such a private story, but yet that is not reason enough…

Music

 

Prayer

He did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,

“You are my Son,
       today I have begotten you”;

In the days of his flesh, he offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him

Overcoming

But they have gained the victory over him because of the blood of the Lamb and of the testimony which they have borne, and because they held their lives cheap and did not shrink even from death

Memorial

  1. Rory Feek shares thoughts at memorial service for Joey Martin Feek
    Video

Dedicated

To all those brave enough to share their life, love, struggles, and redemption.