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Bet On It

Watching the NBA playoffs means exposure to ads every time a coach calls time out or the refs consult the videographers in Secaucus, New Jersey, to decide whether that elbow to the face was a “flagrant one” foul or a “flagrant two.” The announcers occasionally bemoan interruptions to the flow of the game, but each time the refs “check the monitor,” ad revenue is generated for the NBA. If the game ever flows for six minutes, the refs call a “mandatory” time out for advertising.

The marketing geniuses have decided that we, the people, want to see millionaires in menial jobs, so we get Steph Curry pouring himself a cup of coffee at a Carmax office and LaMelo Ball dreams of being AT&T’s Employee of the Week. Steph also can be seen behind the counter at Subway. 

Modelo, the Mexican beer “brewed for those with the fighting spirit,” is hipper about the class thing. Their ads feature working-class heroes who made it —Daman Lillard, Mark “Mr. Cartoon” Machado, and Philly “BarberKing” Garcia (“If he hadn’t had the fighting spirit to drive his ambition, he never would’ve left home for Los Angeles with only his car to sleep in…”)

In the most offensive ad of the Conference Finals, an SUV is racing along a beach at sunrise, pulling an implement that is picking up trash. Zoom in on the driver, a long-haired man in his late 20s, bearded yet clean-cut, serene-yet-purposeful. (“Central casting, get me a Jesus type.”) Cut to baby sea turtles crawling towards the water. Jesus is watching them from the dunes, self-satisfied. 

This year for the first time there are ads during NBA games that promote betting on NBA games. It’s jarring to us old conservatives. The league has contracted with several gambling platforms — BetMGM, FanDuel and DraftKings— to handle the action, so these are house ads in more ways than one. 

The BetMGM ad features Kevin Garnet lounging poolside with a mansion in the background. A young white worker is cleaning the pool. KG claims to be relaxed. Then he gets a text from BetMGM and explodes like a madman, “The Big Ticket hits the big parlay!!!!” His old intensity is still there! The subtext: Betting is as compelling as playing. And we can do it, too.

Your correspondent decided to get down on game 4 of the Warriors-Dallas series. I signed onto, only to be reminded that “Sports Betting is available only in NJ, NY, PA, WV, IN, CO, IL, TN, IA, VA, MI, AZ, CT, LA & WY.” 

But wait till next year, as we used to say. Unless the tribal casinos can head them off, Sports Betting will be coming to California in November when voters pass the “Solutions to Homeless and Mental Health Support Act” —an initiative backed by DraftKings and FanDuel. The tribal casinos have made an ad exposing the deceitful title of the looming initiative. But they’re up against Kevin Garnett and Charles Barkley, Paul Pierce, and Kenny The Jet Smith.

Cryptocurrency is another form of gambling being pushed as the planet breathes its last. (Isn’t it obvious that only the guys who got in early can make big money? Not to mention the insane waste of energy.) The arena in LA that used to be Staples Center is now (which will get known, aptly, as “the Crypt”). Stephen Curry has done an expensively-produced endorsement for a crypto company called FTX that’s running during the play-offs along with his odd Subway and Carmax ads

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What Anslinger Told Congress

At the hearing in April, 1937, that led to the federal prohibition of marijuana:

My name is H. J. Anslinger. I am commissioner of narcotics in the Bureau of Narcotics, in the Treasury Department. Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Ways and Means Committee, this traffic in marijuana is increasing to such an extent that it has become the cause for the greatest national concern. This drug is as old as civilization itself. Homer wrote about it as a drug which made men forget their homes and that turned them into swine. In Persia, a thousand years before Christ, there was a religious and military order founded which was called the Assassins, and they derived the name from the drug called hashish, which is now known in this country as marijuana. They were noted for their acts of cruelty and the word “assassin” very aptly describes the drug. 

Historian Tod Mikuriya, MD, had a different explanation: “They’d smoke hashish the night before battle to overcome anxiety and get to sleep.”

Marijuana is the same as Indian hemp, hashish. It is sometimes cultivated in backyards. Over here in Maryland some has been found, and last fall we discovered three acres of it in the Southwest… It is sometimes found as a residual weed and sometimes as the result of a dissemination of birdseed. It is known as cannabis Americana, or cannabis Sativa. Marijuana is the Mexican term for cannabis Indica. We seem to have adopted the Mexican terminology, and we call it marihuana, which means “good feeling.” In the underworld it is referred to by such colorful, colloquial names as reefer, muggles, Indian hay, hot hay, and weed. It is known in various counties by a variety of names.” 

Congressman Lewis of Maryland asked, “In literature it is known as hashish, is it not?” Anslinger went on, 

Yes, sir. At the Geneva Convention in 1895 the term “cannabis” included only the dried flowering or fruiting top of the pistillate plant as the source of the dangerous resin… But research has shown that this definition is not sufficient, because it has been found by experiment that the leaves of the pistillate plant as well as the leaves of the staminate plant contain the active principle up to 50 percent of the strength prescribed by the U.S. Pharmacopoeia… As a matter of fact, the staminate leaves are about as harmless as a rattlesnake.

The stamen is the male organ that produces pollen. The Commissioner is comparing the leaves of the male cannabis plant to a rattlesnake. Anslinger says “research has shown…” in exactly the way establishment experts use that phrase today —as if the ultimate truth had been determined.


  1. Marmon May 28, 2022

    This years Finals will have the lowest rating ever thanks to Steve Kerr, I know for one I will not watch one single game.



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