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Category Archives: Immortality

Time travel, immortality, inconsistencies: Has Game of Thrones jumped the dragon? – The Sydney Morning Herald

Posted: August 22, 2017 at 11:57 pm

Unsurprisingly, the director of the most recent episode of Game of Thrones has been forced to defend it against charges of inconsistency in its approach to time and travel.

Alan Taylor a veteran director whose credits include time-travel cyborg thriller Terminator: Genisys and Thor: The Dark World admitted in an interview withVarietythat “timing was getting a little hazy” in this week’s episode, Beyond the Wall.

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SPOILER ALERT: Following the airing of the latest episode of Game of Thrones fans have taken to social media to voice their distress.

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SPOILER ALERT: Following the airing of the latest episode of Game of Thrones fans have taken to social media to voice their distress.

However, he insisted, “in terms of the emotional experience”, it was solid.

Taylor said Jon and co “sort of spent one dark night on the island” in the middle of an icy lake, surrounded by the army of the undead but, he conceded, “there was some effort to fudge the timeline a little bit by not declaring exactly how long we were there” before Dany and her dragons flew to the rescue.

He admitted some viewers were troubled by such fudging, though. “They seemed to be very concerned about how fast a raven can fly but there’s a thing called plausible impossibilities, which is what you try to achieve, rather than impossible plausibilities. So I think we were straining plausibility a little bit.”

As mea culpas go,Taylor’s effort was rather lacking. For a start, he didn’t address the most glaring “implausibility” in the episode the sudden emergence of four enormous chains, used by the army of the dead to haul the downed dragon Viserion out of the icy lake. With no backpacks, no packhorses and not a Bunnings in sight, their miraculous appearance tipped the show from “plausible impossibilities” to “implausible impossibilities” in an instant.

More to the point, though, the flaws that riddled this episode have become commonplace in Game of Thrones in the last couple of seasons. So much so that many people are now beginning to wonder if the show hasn’t finally jumped the dragon.

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Let’s start with the matter of time and travel. Taylor may wish to brush the concerns aside, but they are real and substantial, and point to an incipient laziness in the storytelling that threatens to undo so much good work in the producers’ rush to tie things up.

Just popping out. This shouldn’t take long. Time and distance have lost all meaning in Game of Throines. Photo: Helen Sloane

A mythologisedBritain, Westeros is a land mass of not inconsiderable size. The Wall, we are told, is 300 miles long and that gives us a handy gauge for estimating all other distances, at least roughly. The Wall to Winterfell is about 700 miles, give or take. Winterfell to King’s Landing? That’s about 1200 miles by land.

Getting around used to be an arduous and time-consuming business. To make sure I hadn’t merely misremembered this, I rewatched the first episode recently. The first words out of Cersei’s mouth in the entire show were delivered upon arrival in Winterfell from King’s Landing: “We’ve been riding for a month,” she complained.

Just take that in for a moment. A month on horseback (or, for the royals, in a carriage).

Now contrast that with the speed and ease with which Jaime has moved his armies unnoticed, mind around Westeros, pretending to be at Casterly Rock (approximately 500 miles to the west of King’s Landing) when all along he was at Highgarden (about 600 miles to the south-west). Or with Jon’s rapid-transit commuting between Winterfell and Dragonstone (roughly 300 miles by land and another 1000 by sea).

Jon’s most recent journey comprised a sea voyage of around 1300 miles from Dragonstone to Eastwatch, followed by a trek across snow and ice of who knows what distance into theLandofAlways Winter. Yet he set off with about as much preparation as if he were popping down to the milk bar for a malted vanilla thickshake.

True, the journey from the Wall on foot into the ice seemed to take forever, but Gendry’s dash back unfolded in a time with which Usain Bolt might have been happy.

Let’s not even start on the fact that the White Walkers seem to be able to move at great speed when they want and were lurking not far from the Wall in the very first episode of the show, back in 2011 yet have traversed the wasteland with all the sense of urgency of a road crew laying bitumen on double-time wages.

The Night King leads his army of the undead at a leisurely pace, unless they’re sprinting.

Or on the fact that after the Iron Fleet was taken holus bolus by Yara Greyjoy, her uncle Euroncommanded every tree on the (rather treeless) islands be chopped down to make 1000 new ships, a massive feat of engineering that apparently took just a few months. Oh, and they seem to be rather special ships too able to catch up toYara’s fleet and overwhelmit, undetected, in the night.

It’s not just time and distance that have been beset by implausible impossibilities lately, either. There’s the small matter of the immortality that seems to be spreading like a plague through the Seven Kingdoms too.

One of the things that quickly established GoT as something special was the idea that no one was safe. What a stroke of genius it was to establish Ned Stark as the moral centre of season one only to have his head lopped off by its end. If your main man was expendable, what hope was there for everyone else?

The Red Wedding in season three was the apotheosis of that, with Robb Stark seemingly our new moral centre and his mother Catelyn cruelly offed. And when Jon Snow was butchered by his own men at the end of season five, it seemed there was no dark corner into which the show was not willing to lead us.

But it was with the resurrection of Jon Snow that things began to unravel. I wrote at the time that this business of killing off a hero only to bring them back was the ultimate act of bad faith and one of which the producers of The Walking Dead had also been guilty in killing/not-killing fan favourite Glenn (before ultimately killing him for real in the show’s most gut-wrenching scene ever). But perhaps there was some justification in Game of Thrones because of the pseudo-Christian ethos underpinning the narrative as a whole.


But whatever its grander relevance, Jon’s apparent immortality has a very powerful negative impact on the storytelling it robs the show of tension. No matter how parlous his situation see the mutiny at the Wall, The Battle of the Bastards, the attack of the zombie horde, the crashing through the ice he is simply too precious to be killed. He is GoT’s Frodo, Luke and Jesus rolled into one. His salvation at the Battle of the Bastards was excusable, and a masterstroke of storytelling and spectacle he owes his life and his victory to his sister, a fact that establishes a simmering rivalry and resentment and potentially makes her pawn to Littlefinger’s political machinations but his rescue by Benjen this week was a deus ex machina of the most bogus kind. Like, seriously.

Death, too, has lost its sting. Photo: HBO / Foxtel

We’ve been asked to accept that the Red Witch Melisandre is hundreds of years old, and what a reveal that was (even if she had once before taken off her necklace and NOT TURNED INTO A WITHERED HAG). OK, magic; I don’t buy it, but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief for the sake of the world you’ve created, GoT.

We’ve been asked to believe that Bran can travel back and forth in time, that’s he’s maybe capable of controlling people’s minds while doing so, that he may even be twinned with the Night King (OK, this is now spinning off into the realm of fan theory, and that’s a rabbit hole I’d rather not go down, so let’s stop right there). All of that effectively makes him immortal too. OK. Whatever.

Beric Dondarrion has died and come back six times (but with his priest Thoros now dead, his days of dead-cat bouncing may be over). Arya survived a serious stabbing, tumble down a stone staircase and plunge into sewer-infested waters in Braavos without even a hint of septicaemia. Even lowly, cowardly Theon has managed to stay alive after castration, torture, leaps from castle walls and near drowning.

In other words, the show has reneged on one of its core promises and premises – anyone could die, at any moment. It’s a massive cheat that leaves it infinitely poorer.

Bran Stark can see the past, the future, everything. Except what a knob he has become. Photo: AP

Perhaps the greatest crime of all, though, is that the producers of Game of Thrones have begun to play merry havoc with the behaviour and motivation of our most beloved characters. Why, having gone to such great lengths to find a cache of dragon glass, would Jon head north to capture a white walker WITHOUT TAKING ANY? Why would Daenerys talk about having followed Tyrion’s advice about not flying her dragons into battle when she had just done so? Why would Jaime flip-flop on everything when he has been on a slow journey away from bastardry towards some semblance of decency? Why would Varys, the arch schemer, suddenly become the new moral centre of this world? And why would Arya become so fixated on revenge that she now even has her sister in her sights? True, she trained as an assassin in the House of Black and White, but does that really mean she is utterly incapable of seeing shades of grey?

You may well ask if it is fair to take Game of Thrones to task for losing its grip on reality. You might well point out that it’s a fantasy show, for crying out loud, so what place does reality have in any of this anyway?

Now into his seventh life, Beric may be running out of chances. Photo: HBO / Foxtel

That’s a fair enough point, but the trick on which GoT was built was an absolute conviction in and the believability of the world it created. It didn’t matter that we know there are no such things as dragons or giants or white walkers. If the world-building was solid enough, and if the rules that govern this faux world remained consistent, we were willing to suspend our disbelief and go along for the ride.

Lately, though, Game of Thrones has suspended that suspension of disbelief in favour of a much bolder strategy. It has simply thrown the rule book away.

There’s little danger that viewer numbers will suffer as a result; after 66 episodes, fans have too much invested in the show to do a Theon and jump ship now. But reputation and regard is a far more fragile thing. And right now, they are very much at risk.

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Time travel, immortality, inconsistencies: Has Game of Thrones jumped the dragon? – The Sydney Morning Herald

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The super rich are injecting blood from teenagers to gain ‘immortality’ – BBC Three (satire) (blog)

Posted: at 11:57 pm

BBC Three (satire) (blog)
The super rich are injecting blood from teenagers to gain 'immortality'
BBC Three (satire) (blog)
If you're a millennial, you might have felt for a while now that older generations are out to suck us dry. To their Ying of affordable housing, secure jobs and actual pensions, we seem to have the Yang of six-figure car garages for homes, 'gigs' for


The super rich are injecting blood from teenagers to gain ‘immortality’ – BBC Three (satire) (blog)

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Blood of teenagers being injected into OAPS for 6000 a shot by US company who claim it leaves the elderly ‘pretty … – The Sun

Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:15 pm

Ambrosia’s founder, Dr Jesse Karmazin, said: ‘Its like plastic surgery from the inside out’

A US company is offering older patients teenage blood transfusions worth 6,200 ($8,000) so they can come pretty close to immortality.

Ambrosia, an American start-up, claims the procedures can reverse the effects of ageing.

Getty – Contributor

More than 100 adults around the age of 60 have tried the procedure since its launch in 2016, the Sunday Times reports.

Jesse Karmazin, 32, a doctor trained at Americas elite Stanford university, is pleased with the visible results.

Mr Karmazin, who founded Ambrosia, said: It could help improve things such as appearance or diabetes or heart function or memory.

These are all the aspects of ageing that have a common cause.

Im not really in the camp of saying this will provide immortality but I think it comes pretty close, essentially.

Ambrosia buys surplus blood from banks ideally from teenage donors and then separates the plasma from the cells.

E+ – Getty


During the procedure, patients are injected with two and a half litres of blood mixed from several donors.

Criticising the treatment, Brit experts from UCL have blasted the procedure as a placebo.

Arne Akbar told the New Scientist, that the positive effects patients have felt could be down to the fact theyre paying so much money and hope to receive benefits from it rather than it actually producing substantial results.

Patients experience the placebo effect when they see an improvement in their symptoms after receiving fake or empty treatment.

David Gems, also from UCL, said more tests were necessary to determine the procedures effectiveness.

Ignoring their comments, Mr Karmazin said blood transfusions are a well-known procedure so more detailed tests are not necessary.

Getty – Contributor

Insisting the benefits are visible, Mr Karmazin said: Were already seeing people look better after just one treatment.

Its like plastic surgery from the inside out.

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Blood of teenagers being injected into OAPS for 6000 a shot by US company who claim it leaves the elderly ‘pretty … – The Sun

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Despacito writer Luis Fonsi’s 19-year journey to musical immortality – South China Morning Post

Posted: August 18, 2017 at 5:14 am

If at any point in the past six months you have heard the lone strum of a distant Spanish guitar, the proceeding three minutes and 42 seconds were more than likely spent under the spell of Despacito. Its the all-conquering, duo-lingual, mid-tempo pop behemoth that has been blaring from car stereos, shop sound systems, barbecue bluetooth speakers and, despite lyrics that dwell on the slow-and-steady road to screaming orgasm, end-of-term school discos.

Its title may translate as slowly, but theres been nothing sluggish about the success of Luis Fonsis omnipresent global smash. Released to limited fanfare in January, by July the mesmerising collaboration with Puerto Rican reggaeton star Daddy Yankee was the most streamed song to date; it has now been streamed more than 4.6 billion times. If youre tempted to credit that to the remix featuring Justin Bieber, think again: this month the Bieberless version became the first video in YouTubes decade-plus history to achieve three billion views.

Crossing the line from exquisitely structured pop single to all-out cultural phenomenon, Despacito is also the first non-English No 1 in the United States in more than two decades; in Britain, it has become the longest-running foreign-language No 1 in history.

The man at the eye of its storm has seen international success come via a circuitous route. The 39-year-old, Puerto Rico-born singer has already released eight albums in a career that has spanned 19 years, during which he has performed for one pope and two US presidents, supported Britney Spears on tour and gone platinum six times. We meet backstage at a modest open-air concert two hours west of Barcelona, and Fonsis amiable disposition is encapsulated by an entourage of just a few people, and in the way he (unlike 99 per cent of his pop star peers) removes his sunglasses for an interview.

An endearingly straightforward chap who seems genuinely humbled by his second flush of fame, Fonsi begins by attempting to explain the Despacito phenomenon. If the song is good enough, it will work in any language, he says, and lists the varied genres traversed by the song urban, salsa, reggaeton, pop, tropical, dancehall before conceding defeat and acknowledging that while the song is all those things, its somehow greater than the sum of its parts. It just makes it hard not to move, he eventually says. Whether you like to dance or not, you somehow just start … moving.

Its been nearly two decades since Fonsi first found fame, but now that the popularity of Despacito has propelled him to No 1 in 45 countries, hes relishing this opportunity to prove himself again to new audiences. You have to say, How do I win these people over? he says, motioning towards the stage. How do I make sure this first concert here tonight isnt my last concert here? One solution is to perform Despacito twice he plans to drop it in the middle of the set, then again as a reprise. But it makes it exciting, to see that initial reaction again, he grins. To see people thinking, Hmm, what is this guy all about?

Despacito is the most-played track in the world but Malaysians wont be singing along

So, what is Fonsi, real name Luis Alfonso Rodrguez Lpez-Cepero, all about? You can tell a lot about a man from the watch he wears, he says, when asked about his chunky gold timepiece, before admitting that it was a gift from the manufacturer, so, er, theres that. His attire sleeveless grey hoodie, loose-fitting jeans and a pair of old-school trainers conjures the image of off-duty gym instructor, but his left arm tells a more detailed story: one elaborate tattoo blends a vinyl record with a guitar and the names of his two young children, plus theres a date (December 20, the day both those kids were born, five years apart). Theres also a postmark, representing the journey he made when he was 10 and his family moved from Puerto Rico to Orlando, Florida.

My dad worked in marketing for my grandfathers company, Fonsi begins. One day, he said, Lets move. I had to leave my friends, my school, my cousins behind. Looking back, I realise how hard it was. I felt like I was the only Latino around. That first year was just depressing people were making fun of my accent and the way I dressed. At lunch Id sit at the corner table with the two other Latino kids with thick accents. In Puerto Rico, Id sung a lot; I didnt want to sing any more.

Fonsi began to adapt and fit in; the schools choir director pulled him out of an English class in ninth grade and offered him a place in the mens ensemble. Fonsi and the choirs three other section leads formed their own group: the Big Guys.

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That sounds like the worst boy band ever, right? says Fonsi, laughing. Wed take all the music we learnt in choir and make a cool R&B version.

The Big Guys performed around Orlando before going their separate ways when school ended. Fonsi got into Florida State University on a music scholarship, recorded demos and landed a record deal.

Releasing eight albums between 1998 and 2014, Fonsi became a big name in the Latin world, but his romantic, Spanish-language balladeering offered little chance of crossover success. Then his first wife, the actress Adamari Lpez, was diagnosed with cancer, leading Fonsi to cancel a tour. She was given the all-clear in 2006, but the couple split in 2010. In 2011, he had his first child with Spanish model gueda Lpez and the couple married in 2014. Meanwhile another of the Big Guys, Joey Fatone, had found different bandmates and achieved some success well, 70 million album sales as one-fifth of NSYNC.

Despacito might now put Fonsi on track to become the biggest Big Guy of the lot, but it almost didnt happen, at least not in the way we know it today. The song started life in 2015, when Fonsi woke one morning with the word despacito and the chorus melody in his head. Having expanded the song to capture the feeling of being in a club and making eye contact with a beautiful woman, he finessed it with his co-writer, Erika Ender, and then wondered if it might benefit from a rather perkier production, so he got on the phone to Daddy Yankee.

When their version stormed to No 1 on Billboards Latin charts, thoughts turned to further crossover potential.

Before Justin [Bieber], wed been talking about doing a collaboration with an American artist, says Fonsi. We were leaning towards a more hip-hop artist, but I didnt know how to get in touch with Jay-Z, or Drake. Justin wasnt even on the list.

Fate intervened: Bieber was touring in Colombia, went clubbing one night and saw a club explode to Despacito. Fonsi was in Paris at the time it was 2am when his label phoned him with the words, Weve had a call from Biebers people.

Two days later I get the first cut in my email, Fonsi adds. I expected to hear a full English version of the song. All of a sudden Im hearing Justin Bieber singing in Spanish. I thought, This is huge!

It may not sound like a protest song, but Despacitos multicultural success could be seen as the sound of a younger generation expressing defiance through pop at least Fonsi would like to think so. I dont want to get too political, says pops new Mr Reasonable, but when people want to build walls and separate instead of unite, its such perfect timing. Our president is so critical of speaking other languages in the US, and for the last 12 weeks the song thats been No 1 in the US is in Spanish.

Fonsi is less hesitant about getting political when it comes to the increasingly authoritarian Venezuelan president, Nicols Maduro. Despacito has been endlessly covered, parodied and memed, but while Fonsi doesnt mind the track taking on its own life (the song is no longer mine when a song reaches this level it becomes everyones), he drew a line when Maduro used it at a rally; the singer hit back on Twitter.

Despacito singers condemn Venezuelan presidents propaganda remix of hit Latin pop song

The one negative case out of 1,000 positives has been the Venezuelan dictator, and I think we can officially call him a dictator, he says. Im passionate about how I feel about this dictator, how much the country has gone to sh… He catches himself, having briefly lost his composure. I cant say it. I dont want him to have anything to do with me, or my music, or my song.

Due to Despacitos success, Fonsi has had the chance to hang out with Bieber on a few occasions; he glosses over a question about how Bieber compares to Pope John Paul II (for whom Fonsi performed in 2000) and says that when they have met, they have mainly talked about music.

Its tough for him to be out in public, says Fonsi. He has a lot of restrictions as to where he can and cant go. Hes a nice guy and hes a smart guy hes making very good musical decisions and hes learnt from his mistakes.

Then there are the racy lyrics of Despacito, many of which have gone under the radar in English-speaking countries. Has Fonsi ever used the line, Let me trespass your danger zones until I make you scream and forget your name in real life? No! No, no, no, he insists. The thing is, when you translate the song it sounds corny or sexual. But its not! Its not a sexual song. There is a line that I did not cross. Its sensual. Its extremely sensual.

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Are you, Luis Fonsi, an extremely sensual person? Im very romantic, he says. When its suggested that we get his wife on the phone to clarify, he adds, Shell agree. Im very passionate. Latinos are passionate in general.

What happens next? Fonsi already has his next single lined up its guest vocalist was confirmed just days ago. My mom doesnt even know who Im singing it with, he says before theres even a chance to ask for the guests identity. Its going to be special. Special enough to out-do the most streamed song of all time? Fonsi laughs. Despacito will always be Despacito. Itll go down in history as one of the most important songs in Latin music. I did something extremely special, I cant expect to do that twice. Thats not even pessimistic, thats just being a realist.

So if hes not going to break his own record, will he feel sad when someone else does? This career isnt just about records: its about making music thatll stay alive for ever. I was part of history, but records are made to be broken.

He pauses briefly, before adding, I hope it doesnt happen tomorrow. I hope I can enjoy this for a little bit.

The Times/Interview People

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Despacito writer Luis Fonsi’s 19-year journey to musical immortality – South China Morning Post

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Ken Burns Talks About Leadership, Productivity and Achieving Immortality Through Storytelling – Entrepreneur

Posted: August 15, 2017 at 12:15 pm

This story appears in the September 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe

Award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns is responsible for such genre-defining and genre- defying documentary series as The Civil War, Baseball, and Jazz, to name a few. As he and collaborator Lynn Novick prepare to debut their new 10-part documentary film series TheVietnam War on September 17 on PBS stations nationwide, we spoke with the tireless documentarian about leadership, productivity, managing gigantic projects and how to achieve immortality through storytelling.

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So you just finished this incredible documentary about Vietnam. Are you already thinking of the next three documentaries down the road?

Sorry to say, in a kind of admission of foolishness, Im thinking usually about 13 or 14 films ahead. Im now working on six or seven at the same time, which is insane. A lot of that has to do with the economies of scale that these labor-intensive historical projects require.The Vietnam War was more than 10 years in the making.

How do you choose your subjects?

It is not based on any market research; its a gut feeling. Its the chemistry that happens between friends. Youve got a lot of ideas — 60, 70 film ideas — but then every once in a while, one drops from your head to your heart and you go, Gotta do that one. You sort of add that to the queue, and then it just becomes a matter of finding the bandwidth and figuring out who the collaborators are.

Your projects are massive undertakings. How do you keep your focus?

I feel comfortable. A lot of that has to do with [the patronage of] public television, and a lot has to do with my stubbornness. So many people ask me, Ten years? Dont you get bored? But for me, each day it gets better and better. Plus I dont live in Los Angeles or New York City. I live in a tiny village in New Hampshire, which permits us to do the deep dives, to do the necessary researchand keep the sanity in the course of a 10-plus-year project.

Can you give people a picture of the Ken Burns industrial complex? How do these films come together?

The film credits show several hundred people, whom were very grateful for. But every one of the films is really handmade. Even the big series you can reduce to about a dozen or so people. Thats why its hugely important to get your collaborators right, to get people you trust. To learn how to delegate, to trust them. Its great because most of my editors, for example, came as interns and worked their way to apprentices, then became assistantsand then after 10 or 15 years, full-fledged editors. A lot of it is good generalship. A lot of it is extraordinarily careful time management. But the biggest thing is choosing the right people.

Related:4 Ways to BuildTrustand Help Manage YourTeam

Can you talk about giving criticism — especially when you have such a tightly knit team? Sometimes in a leadership position you have to, for lack of a better term, bust some balls.

Everybody screws up, including me. I have a certain confidence that even in the darkest days, I seem to know what to do next. And I do, and I say that. But thats not to say that the next day it isnt terrible. And Im the first person to admit that. If you create that environment, then theres not a question of needing to bust any balls. Its a question of process. Were all going to try something. We can have disagreements that can be passionate, but theyre not loud and vociferous; theyre not personal and angry. Theres a generous spirit of collaboration. Well finish an episode and turn to the interns and ask, What do you think? And then well ask the senior editors, What do you think? Then the co-producers, What do you think? And visitors, What do you think?” I know I have the right to make the final decision, and I will make that if were in doubt. But I would rather reach a consensus before we have to drop that shoe.

Image Credit Tim Llewellyn

Do you have any personal rules for separating your work from your personal life?

I dont see the blending. I have a lot of colleagues who work all the time, into the nightand on the weekends, but we dont do that. Were like: Come in, and if you can do your work and then go home and see your family, go and do that. Theres a real work ethic, but theres not set hours. We never end up firing anyone. People just say, This isnt right for me, and well just say under our breath, Yep, that wasnt the right fit. But it takes almost no time for people to realize that. Even among the interns who come from various colleges across the country, who work for minimum wage, it becomes clear whos going to make it and whos not going to make it. And thats OK. A lot of people are drawn to film for its apparent glamour and dont realize its really hard work.

What are some things you think are necessary to get you from initial idea to finished project?

You have to know who you are. Theres a kind of ultimate Socratic thing: Who am I? What am I interested in? Whats my strength? Is this what Im supposed to be doing? Do I have something to say? These are huge, existential questions, but they do have practical day-to-day manifestations. I feel very lucky that at age 12 I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker, by 19 I knew I wanted to be a documentarianand by the time I graduated I knew it was history. And once you know what you want, getting it requires perseverance. Im sure there are a lot of more talented filmmakers than me, with really great ideas, who just havent followed through. All the choices we make, its got to be, as Emerson said in his essay on self-reliance, whatever inly rejoices. A lot of people think theyre supposed to be a doctor or a lawyer as their parents told them to be, and it doesnt work for them. But if you do what inly rejoices, its going to be OK.

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As a historian, how have you seen the spirit of entrepreneurship evolve over the years?

I think entrepreneurship is at the heart of who we are in terms of the American promise and the American dream. You have to go back to the fundamentals — for the first time in human history, we decided to trust the people to govern themselves. That releases all kinds of creative energies. I remember interviewing a writer and historian for my baseball series. He said that when Americans are studied 1,000 years from now, well be known for three things: the Constitution, baseballand jazz music. And what all three things have in common is that theyre improvisatory. The U.S. Constitution is the shortest constitution on Earth. Its four pieces of parchment thats able to provide us with this improvisatory space. And baseball has infinite, chess-like combinations. And of course, the heart of the music thats recognized as an art form is all about improvisation, not playing the notes on the page. And so entrepreneurship is a manifestation of that.

Last question: How do you start your day?

I have no problem starting my day. Coffee is not in my diet. Its the other way around. I have to figure out how to turn off the machine at the end of my day. Thats my biggest problem. There are lots of things to do and not enough time to do them. Theres an interesting truth to the human condition, that none of us are getting out of this alive. None of us. So you could reasonably assume that the human race would just curl up in the fetal position and suck our thumbs all day. But we dont. We create symphonies, we raise children, we build cathedrals, we develop apps, we do all sorts of things that belie that. The thing we do most of all is tell stories to each other. And in the telling of stories, in the making of things, we create a kind of immortality.

For an extended video of Burns’ interview, visit

Dan Bova is the editorial director of all digital content at He previously worked at Jimmy Kimmel Live, Maxim and Spy magazine. He currently writes a weekly humor column for The Journal News.

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Ken Burns Talks About Leadership, Productivity and Achieving Immortality Through Storytelling – Entrepreneur

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Immortality & Mind: Dalai Lama Brainstorms the Universe With Russian Scientists – Sputnik International

Posted: August 10, 2017 at 6:09 am

AP Photo/ Khin Maung Win

Konstantin Anokhin, prominent Russian neurobiologist and member ofboth Russian Academy ofSciences and Russian Academy ofMedical Sciences, told RIA Novosti that Russian scientists have been studying consciousness forover 150 years, and their materialistic conception ofconsciousness differs fromthe classic materialism ofWestern science.

“I believe that what we need now is a new, bold fundamental theory instead ofexperiments This is our message toBuddhist science: we need a theory that isnt based onsubjective experience alone. This new theory may influence our methods and techniques, and draw the attention tomeditation,” Anokhin said.

Notable Russian neurolinguistics researcher Tatyana Chernigovskaya who acted asmoderator duringthe conference concurred withAnokhin.

“The amount ofempirical data that we have grows bythe minute. Weve even reached an impasse ofsorts because we dont know what todo withthis data. We could sort it, ofcourse, and there are processing methods available, butwe are not advancing further. If I study each and every cell inyour body, I wont learn anything aboutyour personality. And delving intobrains and pulling outeach and every neuron outwont help me understand how it works. Okay, so weve studied 30 billion more neurons, now what? What question have we answered? None. We need a genius who can tell us you need toask a different question. Its clear that atthis point that a new theory is badly needed,” Chernigovskaya said, adding that philosophy plays a key role inthis matter.

For the Good ofMankind

The goal ofthe conference was tofacilitate dialogue betweenRussian scientists and Buddhist scholars related toa variety ofscientific disciplines such asphysics, cosmology, biology and axiology.

“Ive had useful discussions withscientists formore than30 years withtwo purposes inmind. The first is toextend our knowledge. Until the late 20th century scientists mostly investigated external phenomena, including the brain. These were things they could measure and which a third person could agree about. However, inthe late 20th century and early 21st century more and more scientists have begun tofind evidence that experiences such asmeditation and mind training affect our brains inpreviously unforeseen waysthis is called neuroplasticity,” the Dalai Lama said.

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The 14th Dalai Lama

The second purpose, he added, was tohelp raise awareness and foster compassion amongpeople, tohelp stop the endless cycle ofviolence and todeal withthe issue ofdisparity betweenrich and poor.

“We have tolearn fromexperience and enter intodialogue, remembering that other people are our brothers and sisters. We have tolive together. The global economy and the effects ofclimate change are not limited bynational borders. Its the idea of us and them we have torestrain, because it so easily becomes the basis forviolence. We have toeducate people tounderstand that we are all part ofhumanity, he added.

Dalai Lama: Consciousness Does Not Equal Brain

According tothe Buddhist leader, consciousness consists ofseveral layers and is not fully connected tothe brain.

“For example, these different levels ofconsciousness manifest duringsleep, when we do not possess our senses butremain aware, or when a person faints. Even when a man dies, we (Buddhists) know that the consciousness continues toexist,” he said.

Sputnik/ Olga Lipich

Dalai Lama and Russian scientists take part in a conference in New Delhi

The Dalai Lama explained that, according toBuddhist teachings, consciousness is intrinsically connected tolife, and the most subtle level ofconsciousness is devoid ofgenetic basis and transfers fromone life toanother aspart ofthe rebirth cycle.

He also remarked that it is very hard totell whether an artificial intelligence can possess a consciousness.

“Everything inthe world is determined bycause-effect relationships, and a consciousness even the most subtle level ofit can only be the continuation ofconsciousness. But artificial intelligence is just particles,” the Dalai Lama said.

Professor David Dubrovsky fromthe Russian Academy ofSciences Institute ofPhilosophy also pointed outthat a thought is devoid ofphysical dimensions such asmass or length, and that it all comes downto explaining the relation betweenthoughts and brain activity.

“It is called the hard problem ofconsciousness. Western science has been dominated byreductionist concepts that narrowed thought processes downto physical processes or tobehaviorism. The prevalent concepts inRussia, however, have retained the aspects ofsubjective reality and non-physical process,” Dubrovsky said.

The Origins ofthe Big Bang

The participants ofthe conference also broached the Big Bang theory, asKonstantin Anokhin argued that consciousness did not exist when Earth was devoid oflife, and that consciousness appeared asa result ofevolution.

“The origins ofconsciousness lie inemotions. Even the simplest organisms have emotions; theyre capable ofexperiencing satisfaction or suffering depending onwhether they succeed or fail toachieve something,” Anokhin said.

AP Photo/ Luca Bruno

Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, center, leaves a Tibetan Buddhist institute, in Milan

“But the Big Bang must require a vast amount ofenergy, so where did it come from?” the Buddhist spiritual leader inquired.

“Not fromthe mind or consciousness,” Anokhin replied.

“But how do you know that? Energy is immaterial. We need toexplain why vast amounts ofenergy have material basis Theres a contradiction here,” Dalai Lama retorted.

He also remarked that onthe most subtle level, consciousness and rocks were created outof the same particles.

“So why does one particle become a rock while another becomes consciousness?” Dalai Lama mused.

Schrodingers Cat and Language

During the conference professor Tatyana Chernigovskaya also presented her report Cheshire Smile ofSchrodingers Cat: Language and Consciousness.

She cited Niels Bohr, one ofthe pioneers ofquantum mechanics, who said that the observer is a part ofthe scientific paradigm and that the results ofan experiment are influenced bythe person who conducts it, and Albert Einstein who called the intuitive mind a sacred gift, adding that many prominent scientists inthe pastclaimed that the outsideworld is “built fromthe inside.”

“Would music or mathematics continue toexist withoutthose who listen and think? My answer is no: Without man, Mozarts music would merely become vibrations ofair,” Chernigovskaya said.

She added that neuroscientists should focus their attention onmusic and music and language, especially poetry.

“Today a new science called biolinguistics seeks todiscover universal traits ofthe evolution ofbiological systems and language,” Chernigovskaya said.

The Dalai Lama also remarked that her findings have a lot incommon withBuddhist teachings aboutthe interdependence ofall things.

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Wayde van Niekerk, the anti-Usain Bolt, on way to athletics immortality – iNews

Posted: at 6:09 am

Wayde van Niekerk is half-way to becoming an athletics icon. As if he needs any more help, after the fastest man in the world endorsed him.

The man who Usain Bolt believes has the chops and charm to take over track and field blasted apart a stellar field on Tuesday night in a 400 metre race overshadowed by the controversy concerning Botswanas Isaac Makwala being ruled out of the race by the IAAF on suspicion of norovirus despite the athlete and his coach saying he was healthy to form the first part of his ambitious World Championships 400m-200m double.

You can see why Bolt is so impressed. Van Niekerk sauntered into the London Stadium on Tuesday to the strains of Guns and Roses Welcome to the Jungle with a laconic grin on his face, before cantering to victory in 43.98 seconds, almost half a second clear of Stephen Gardiner of the Bahamas, with Qatars Abdelah Haroun in third.

He barely smiled after his victory. After all, he goes again on Wednesday, in the 200m. He later said the dank London summer evening was a little freezing.

But Bolts anointment of the South African goes beyond him being able to run fast.

The Jamaican, whose reach is so broad that he has been hailed in some circles as the man who saved athletics, knows a thing or two about how to transcend a sport.

And since Van Niekerk broke Michael Johnsons ancient 400-metre record at the 2016 Olympics, he has steadily moved from the confines of athletics into the public consciousness, bringing with it sponsorship deals totalling seven figures with brands including Audi and Visa.

He has even become a household name in his native country, where usually you have to chuck a rugby ball or wield a cricket bat to move beyond the back pages.

His rise to prominence is no doubt connected with the fact that Bolt named Van Niekerk as his heir apparent.

There is a story that after his first World Championship victory, in 2015, Van Niekerks mother was the only person to meet him at the airport.

If he does the double in London and becomes the first person to achieve the feat since Johnson in 1995 you can bet there will be a few more to greet him.

Van Niekerk has little of the swagger and showmanship of Bolt. You wont see dance moves at the start line as his name is being called out.

In fact on Tuesday night, as he normally does, he merely held his hands together in prayer. Whoever he spoke to must have listened.

Nor will you hear bon mots that we have become used to from Bolt the Jamicans admission that he ate chicken nuggets all through the 2008 Olympics still stands out from Van Niekerk.

In place of Bolts cheeky chutzpah, there is modest politeness and prolific mentions of the Almighty from Van Niekerk. But one thing they do share is an ability to run darn fast.

And if things go to plan on Wednesday and Thursday, Van Niekerk will get ever closer to Bolts exalted status.


Wayde van Niekerk, the anti-Usain Bolt, on way to athletics immortality – iNews

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Golf: Spieth chasing golf immortality at PGA – Duluth News Tribune

Posted: August 9, 2017 at 5:10 am

During nine practice holes with Kevin Kisner at Quail Hollow Club, amid kids and adults alike shouting “Jordan, Jordan!” the 24-year-old Spieth seemed to barely perspire.

He did, however, offer this early assessment of Quail Hollow: “Extremely tough.”

It helped Monday that, for the first time, PGA Championship players were allowed to wear shorts during practice rounds. Spieth said it was nice because it reminded him of playing casual rounds back home in hot Dallas.

Spieth’s blue-green shirt and gray shorts did not, however, explain why he seemed more immune to the humidity than others. Perhaps it’s because he’s won the British Open and two other PGA Tour events in 2017. Really, can this week’s 99th PGA Championship be much of a sweat?

Yes, a victory on Sunday would make Spieth the youngest male golfer to complete the career Grand Slam, eclipsing Tiger Woods, who completed the Slam at 24 years, six months old.

Spieth, however, said during last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: “My focus isn’t on completing the career Grand Slam. My focus is on the PGA Championship.”

On Monday, his focus was seeing Quail Hollow, a course on which he hasn’t played a competitive round since he competed in his only Wells Fargo Championship in 2013, tying for 32nd.

Last year, three of Quail Hollow’s first five holes were significantly altered, with the first two holes being combined into a new No. 1 and a par 3 added, as the new No. 2.

“They didn’t change that much,” he said. “Really, (holes) one, two and four and five. They made one essentially an extremely long par 4 by combining the old one-two, and then they split up No. 5 into two holes, that par 5, into a 3 and 4. Other than that, it stayed the same.

“The greens are firm and the fairways are soft, so it’s long and then tough to hold the greens. With the way the greens are, if they don’t soften up, it’s going to be ‘Par is an awesome score.’ ”

Last week, Spieth described winning the Grand Slam as a life goal, adding that he believes his odds of completing it at some point are strong. Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen are the only players to complete the Slam.

“If it happens (this week), then fantastic,” Spieth said. “And if it doesn’t, then it’s not going to be a big-time bummer whatsoever because I know I have plenty of opportunities.

“Getting three legs of it is much harder than getting the last leg, I think although I’ve never tried to get the last leg, so it’s easy for me to say.”

Unlike his British Open victory three weeks ago at Royal Birkdale, where Spieth only had caddie Michael Greller accompanying him, he’ll have a sizeable family and friends gallery at Quail Hollow.

On the night of his British Open win, Spieth’s longtime girlfriend, Annie Verret, sent a group text to about 20 Spieth family members and friends, ultimately resulting in the group surprising Jordan and Greller with a champagne-toast greeting upon landing in Dallas.

That group will expand at Quail Hollow. On Monday, Spieth’s mother, Chris, and sister, Ellie, walked five holes of Jordan’s practice round, with Ellie at times walking alongside Jordan in the fairway.

Some Spieth family members already were in North Carolina, visiting relatives, when Jordan arrived Sunday night from playing the Bridgestone in Akron, Ohio. One of Jordan’s grandfathers, Bob Julius, lives in Wilmington, about 200 miles southeast of Charlotte.

After his British Open victory, Spieth received congratulatory notes and texts from the likes of President George W. Bush, Nicklaus, Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy.

Like Spieth, Mickelson and McIlroy are one victory from completing the career Slam, though neither can do so this week. Mickelson lacks a U.S. Open title and McIlroy has yet to win the Masters.

Spieth said he sees more pros than cons about playing the PGA relatively soon after the British.

“(A pro) is you believe you’re in form,” he said. “I think I’m in form, and form is a huge part of being in contention, obviously. But when you feel that way going in, it feels that much easier to get into contention.

“So that’s a huge pro. I’m not really finding any negatives in this.”

After a session on the Quail Hollow practice range before his practice round, Spieth spent 20 minutes signing autographs, with one exhorting Spieth: “Grand Slam, baby!”

Spieth said little, but smiled and kept signing. The August sun grew hotter, but, still, it was no sweat for Spieth.

99th PGA Championship

When: Thursday-Sunday

Where: Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, N.C.

Defending champion: Jimmy Walker

Fast fact: Jordan Spieth can become the sixth player with the career Grand Slam

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PGA Championship 2017: Jordan Spieth chases golf immortality –

Posted: August 6, 2017 at 5:09 pm

At the 99th PGA Championship, Jordan Spieth for the first time will be playing for one of the transcendentprizes in golf: the career Grand Slam. Of course, the 24-year-old is quick to deny hes thinking that way. Spieth insists his focus will be on simply winning the PGA, which, since his victory last month at the Open Championship, is now the only one of the four professional majors he hasnt won. I mean this, he intoned last week at Firestone in explaining his mindset. Its just a major.

Then again, Spieth, who because of his back-nine heroics at Royal Birkdale is occupying the same kind of attention in the golf public consciousness as he did when he won the first two majors in 2015, is floating on a cloud of confidence and well being. Free rolling, as his caddie, Michael Greller puts it. Its the approximate state that three of the five greats who achieved the career Grand Slam were in the year they captured the final leg, given that Ben Hogan in 1953 and Tiger Woods in 2000 each won three major championships, while in 1966 Jack Nicklaus won two.

So while Spieth may insist that because he expects to play in 30 future PGAs, if he doesnt win at Quail Hollow, its not going to be a big-time bummer whatsoever because I know I have plenty of opportunities, theres a chance he may never have a freer roll. And for the record, the last three winners of the Grand SlamGary Player, Nicklaus and Woodsall completed the feat in their 20s. For that matter, golfs first Grand Slammer, Gene Sarazen, won his first two majors at age 20, sooner even than Spieth. In the journey to the career Grand Slam, the time to take advantage of a head start is always now.

If all this sounds a bit over-caffeinated, its because career Grand Slams in golf are special. They are more rare than in tennis, where eight men (the latest Novak Djokavic) have done it. But more importantly, it can besad to see great players fall one major short. Counting Spieth, 12 players have achieved three legs without getting the fourth. And those for whom valiant attempts at the final have been thwarted by bad luck or multiplying tension or bothespecially Sam Snead with the U.S. Open, and Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson with the PGAhave ended up on a slightly lower tier of the pantheon. It looks like that has happened to Phil Mickelson in his quest for a U.S. Open, and that there is an increasing possibility of this happening to Rory McIlroy at Augusta National.

RELATED: Golf Digest PodcastSpieth’s pursuit of the career Grand Slam compared to Tiger

Not that the career Grand Slam is a perfect measure of greatness. Walter Hagen, who won 11 major championships, didnt have a real shot at what evolved into the Grand Slam because the Masters wasnt even played until he was well past his prime. And what of Bobby Jones original Grand Slam in 1930, winning the U.S. Open and Amateur and their British counterparts in one year, which has never been replicated by any golfer over an entire career? That feat, or the still unattained the calendar professional Grand Slam, or even the Tiger Slam of 2000-01, would all have to be more exalted than the career Grand Slam.

In the journey to the career Grand Slam, the time to take advantage of a head start is always now.

Still, other than those one-offs, theres a good argument that theres no marker in golf better at historically differentiating the best from the rest than the career Grand Slam. It requires some special things. Theres the tennis analogy of the complete game in four different conditions especially the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. (The PGA might be the favorite set up of the tour pros because its still U.S. Open light).

Then theres overcoming the pressure of finally capturing the last leg, which builds the more years that go by. Even Spieth was attuned to this challenge, conceding that he would have to be careful not to make the PGA an obsession. The con, he said of being just one major away from the career Grand Slam, and what makes it more difficult than just saying its another major, is that its one a year now instead of four a year that that focuses on, if thats what the focus is.

Clearly, getting the final leg is a validator. It means meeting the moment, demonstrating the rare ability to bring out your best golf when it means the most, when the pressure is highest, when the battle is hardest. It takes greatness.

That said, not all career Grand Slams were created equal. Heres how I would rank them, counting down from least to most significant:

5. Gene Sarazen Though he will always be a giant figure with seven major championships, Sarazen is golfs greatest beneficiary of retroactive history. Not only did he win the 1935 Masters by getting into a playoff on the wings of holing a 4-wood from 235 yards on the 15th hole on Sunday, but the Masters was far from being considered a major championship, probably not reaching that status until Ben Hogan and Snead played off in 1954. There was no pressure on Sarazen because he didnt even know he was making history.

RELATED: Spieth not finding any negatives in career Grand Slam bid

4. Gary Player Indisputably the games greatest international golfer, with nine majors included among his 159 victories worldwide, Player was ruthlessly efficient in clicking off the four majors in six-year period that ended with his victory at the 1965 U.S. Open at Bellerive, in the only time he would win that championship. Its quite possible that no one ever wanted the achievement more. I was aware of the Grand Slam in 1953 because Hogan was my hero in golf, Player said by phone last week, and I knew when he won at Carnoustie he had the four.

The prize was in his head when he won his first major at the 1959 Open Championship, and soon he became determined to beat rivals Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus to the mark. Though he hadnt won a major since the 1962 PGA, he was primed at Bellerive. I was squatting with 325 pounds, the fittest I ever was in my life, Player said. He was going to a church in St. Louis every day and praying for courage. He wore the same black shirt every day, washing in the sink of his hotel room each night. When he got to the course, he devoted a few minutes to standing before the scoreboard, which had past winners names, and envisioned his own. I saw Gary Player, winner, 1965, and Gary Player winner of the Grand Slam, he said. I dont know if any golfer ever, ever, was as focused as I was that week on winning.

And if Player had lost the playoff to Kel Nagel, does he think he might have suffered the same frustrating fate in the U.S. Open as Snead? Oh, no. I would have won it, absolutely no doubt, he said. Of such minds are career Grand Slam winners made.

3. Jack Nicklaus The man who would go on to win the equivalent of three career Grand Slams achieved his first one as a forgone conclusion, he was clearly so good. But even Nicklaus confesses an early setback in 1963 at Lytham, where he bogeyed the final two holes to lose by one, created a crisis of confidence in his ability to win the Open Championship. With three legs of the Slam completed, he finished second at St. Andrews in 1964, and still wondered if his high ball flight would always hold him back on the windy linksland.

He seemed to find the key at Muirfield in 1966, but with a three-stroke lead with seven to play, he three-putted from seven feet, missing a 15-inch putt. I experienced one of the most severe mental jolts Ive ever suffered on a golf course, Nicklaus confessed in his autobiography. Jittery is not a strong enough word to describe my feelings. He bogeyed two of the next three holes, but then, as Spieth did at Birkdale, found a way at the 11th hour to go from negative to positive and eeked out a one-stroke win.

Realizing he had won the Slam, Nicklaus was overcome at the trophy presentation. He wrote: Being about to receive something that even I, never much of a self-doubter, had genuinely doubted would ever be mine, was extremely emotional. From that point, the Open Championship became the major where Nicklaus most consistently contended.

2. Ben Hogan True, the professional Grand Slam hadnt yet become a thing when Hogan won his fourth leg at Carnoustie in 1953 at age 40. In fact, Hogan, who hadnt won the first of his nine majors until he was 34, wasnt thinking career Grand Slam when he made his first trip to the Open Championship. He had gone because friends had urged him to for the good of the game, and for the challenge. Once there, he became engaged with a monastic purpose that entranced the Scots, keeping legs battered by his car accident functioning through long, soaking baths, mastering the nuances of the small British ball and stoically executing with near perfection. His victory remains perhaps golfs supreme example of a one-shot, do-or-die, all-or-nothing, surgical strike that culminated in a glorious mission accomplished. It earned Hogan a ticker-tape parade when he returned to the U.S., and turned out to be his final major-championship victory.

1. Tiger Woods Until further notice, his is the most brilliantly dominating career Grand Slam. Its Himalayan peaks remain prominent on golfs landscape: the 1997 Masters (by 12 strokes), the 2000 U.S. Open (by 15 strokes) and the 2000 Open Championship (by eight strokes). But it was the 1999 PGA at Medinah where Woods seemingly inevitable ascendance could have been stalled, and the tricky, seven-foot, left-to-right par putt he made on the 71st hole to maintain a one-stroke lead over Sergio Garcia may go down as the most important putt of Woods career. Any pain Woods suffered in his few close loses in majors for the first 12 years of his career was negligible, but losing at Medinah probably would have left a mark. With appropriate theater, Woods closed out his first Grand Slam with a triumphant march up the 18th at St. Andrews.

If Spieth can claim a fourth leg at Quail Hollow, where would his Grand Slam rank? Third best, behind Woods and Hogan.

Spieth, as the sixth holder, would be the youngest, by eight months. Hes been more stalwart than opportunist, having led or been tied for the lead in 15 of the 70 major championship rounds he has played. But other than his first major win, a wire-to wire job at the 2015 Masters, Spieths victories have been tight ones in which, for all his magic with the short game and putter, his tee-to-green play has lacked the majesty of Woods or Nicklaus or Hogan. Hes also lost the lead late at two Masters, leaving more scar tissue at an early age than Woods, Nicklaus or Player experienced.

Then again, Spieths combination of passionate competitiveness and personal charm is reminiscent of Jones, and engenders a similar degree of public devotion. If he could close out the Slam in Charlotte, his resultant popularity would lift golf and his persona into Jones/Palmer/Woods territory.

It would also install him firmly on the games throne at an early age. Nicklaus and especially Woods showed such a position can be a self-perpetuating mental edge. As good as being No. 1 in the world is, its betterthrough an early career Grand Slamto have proved youre the best when it matters most.

RELATED: The history of Grand Slam pursuits


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Immortality calling: Who’ll be next Dolphins, Heat, Marlins or Panthers star in Hall of Fame? – Miami Herald (blog)

Posted: at 3:09 am

CBS Miami
Immortality calling: Who'll be next Dolphins, Heat, Marlins or Panthers star in Hall of Fame?
Miami Herald (blog)
Dolphins great Jason Taylor on Saturday became the 26th man immortalized as a Hall of Famer after having worn the uniform of, or coached, the Miami Dolphins, Heat, Marlins or Panthers. Taylor sailed in with the fifth-greatest percentage of his career
Orange, Teal And Now Gold: Jason Taylor A Step Closer To Football ImmortalityCBS Miami

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