Monday, June 24, 2013

Looking Backward: Reliving the 1990 NBA Draft

There are only two types of NBA Drafts one should watch: one is the live-and-in-real-time draft, held every June.  The other type is the one in which all drafted players have ended their careers, and an assessment of their legacy can be envisioned as you watch the younger version of the NBA retiree march awkwardly up to shake David Stern’s hand.  Watching a draft from five years ago is an exercise in inanity.  Watching a draft from twenty years ago is an existential reflection on youth and innocence and society, a historical document in living color.  You may not believe me.  Thankfully, NBA TV exists, and they broadcast old drafts. I decided to jot a few notes down while watching the 1990 NBA Draft to illustrate my point 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Omaha's Crazy Religious Sects Pt. 2 (Or, the Figgites, Westboro Baptist, and Religious Freedom)

From 1897 to 1907 in Omaha, a minuscule religious group caused a sensation for its habit of bursting into religious services (and sometimes other public events) and denouncing everyone present as devil-filled sinners. In fact, denouncing other religious groups seemed to be the main point of their existence. Known as the Figgites, the sect disappeared from the historical record within a decade of their first public spectacle. When I first came across the group in my research into Omaha's religious history, I immediately was reminded of a more modern example of a widely-hated lilliputian religious group with a penchant for public trolling: the good folks at Westboro Baptist. And while our society has changed dramatically over the past century in regards to protecting the rights of minority religious groups, the treatment of the Figgites and Westboro shares some rather strong similarities. But more on that later. First, a little background on Omaha's prequel to Fred Phelps' clan.