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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: August 5, 2017
Posted: August 5, 2017 at 6:42 am
By John Hood
I know many Democrats and progressives who continue to be frustrated by the conservative Republicans who have controlled the North Carolina General Assembly since 2010.
The Left has spent years stating and restating its standard narrative about our state: that North Carolina has historically grown faster and been more successful than other Southern states because it was more willing to spend tax dollars on higher education, infrastructure and other government programs.
The Lefts narrative is a kind of quasi-religious orthodoxy. It is neither good history nor good social science. Since the end of World War II, North Carolinas economy has usually outgrown the nations, to be sure. But thats a regional phenomenon, not a Tar Heel phenomenon. In fact, the average annual growth rate since 1948 of per-person, after-tax income has been exactly the same for North Carolina, South Carolina and the Southeast as a whole.
This is a long stretch of time. During some periods, sometimes lasting a decade or more, North Carolina has underperformed its regional competitors. During other periods, its grown faster. But even detailed analysis of the data reveals no statistically significant relationship between, say, state spending on higher education and subsequent economic growth.
Im not arguing that government programs have no value. Im not arguing that modern economies can prosper without some public services and assets. But to assert that North Carolina had the right amount of government expenditures and taxes before the Republicans took over in 2010, and now it has not enough government, is to make an ideological claim, not an empirical one.
Several years ago, I began keeping a list of all the scholarly studies I could find on the subject of state economic growth. My database now contains many hundreds of papers.The available research doesnt just examine public-policy variables such as government spending, taxes, and regulations. It also considers other potential explanations for differences in economic growth, including energy prices, private investment, geography and educational attainment.
Overall, this emerging body of empirical evidence suggests that most governments are too large and do more than they should taxes and regulations are negatively associated with economic growth but that non-policy factors are usually more significant in explaining differences among states and localities.
In the new edition of the Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, Southern Methodist Universitys Dean Stansel and Meg Patrick Tuszynski reported the results of their own review of the literature. They looked specifically at the 155 studies that have used the Fraser Institutes annual Economic Freedom of North America index in their empirical models. The index includes state-by-state measures of government size, taxes and labor-market regulations.
In two-thirds of the studies, Stansel and Tuszynski found, economic freedom was associated with better economic performance among states. Of the three sub-indexes, the regulatory burden was the most important.
The predominant findings of social science comport with what North Carolinas legislative leaders have concluded: that states can make themselves more competitive, and their residents more prosperous over time, by finding ways to deliver core public services at the lowest possible cost in taxes and regulations.
If you are a Democrat or a progressive and view this conclusion with disdain, you are of course free to disbelieve it. But just understand that repeating your catechism a few more times isnt going to change anything. Fiscal conservatives have good reasons to believe what we believe. What are yours?
John Hood is chairman of the John Locke Foundation and appears on the talk show NC SPIN.
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Posted: at 6:42 am
Mr. Orwell told us about these people, these academics preaching diversity from the least diverse profession, these bureaucrats preaching fairness in education while denying poor kids school choice, these journalist scriptwriters that goad those easily led souls into reacting to whatever fiction is placed before them by the New York Times and Washington Post and CNN and all the rest, the end pieces in a domino chain of actual fascist thuggery and murder of police and vilification of our president.
These people do not get their hands dirty or bloody, but they do thump the domino chain that ends in dirt and blood and dead police.
These are not the people we have been waiting for, but the people that history is continually thrusting upon us. We are truly citizens in the hands of these people, these angry Democrats.
These people, controlled and led by the billionaires that own the New York Times and Washington Post, the two most fervent Trump-hating corporations, and billionaire George Soros, who seems to hate humanity in general, have changed the narrative from the mature policies the voters wanted choice in education, lower taxes, fiscal discipline, EPA overreach, honesty in health care, and many more to an adolescent soap opera with scripts and villains and heroes and drama compatible with the lowest common collective cognitive abilities of their party.
Freedom of speech to these people, freedom of the press to these people, freedom of thought to these people, is only that which is compatible with their own debauched nature; only that which conforms to their own political narrative, and happiness, independent of effort, is but a finite resource to be parceled out according to the needs of Democrats.
And because of that, these people have declared war on our president, so different from previous presidents by his great success in the private sector and his open disdain for these people.
President Trump shows a turning of governing requirements, that of demonstrated managerial competence, fiscal discipline, and financial success on the hardest stage.
Henceforth, from this election forward, we should demand such experience and success in all our government leaders. But in spite of the election results, the government bureaucracy is still comprised of these people, these Democrats who did not, could not, function in the private sector. And the truth has not been within them.
That trinity of Democrats media, academia and bureaucrats their narrative goes on and on. Food shortages are the biggest danger facing wait, no, its running out of oil no, the hole in the ozone layer no, police brutality global warming Russia no, its President Trump. And your premiums will go down and you can keep your doctor. Yeah, thats the ticket. Goodness, these people.
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Posted: at 6:41 am
Councillors unanimously rejected a large housing scheme targeting the Chester floodplain.
Ospitium 4 wanted to build 140 terraced houses and 140 apartments for rent on farmland off Clifton Drive, near Blacon, together with a new public park, childrens nursery, estate managers office and flood defence measures.
There were also plans for geothermal heating, bicycle and car parking, a footbridge, new accesses created by demolishing four houses fronting Sealand Road plus junction improvements.
But members at Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee followed the planning officers recommendation in refusing the scheme, known as Ogilvie Park, due to constraints including flood risk and loss of green space.
Andy Scargill, chairman of Friends of North Chester Greenbelt, addressed the meeting on the question of flooding.
He said: The applicants want to build their houses on top of huge concrete tubes to allow the water to flow up and down when such a catastrophe occurs. The Environment Agency said this wouldnt protect gardens, estate roads and cars so they would recommend that people in the houses, should they be built, drive their vehicles to the top of the Blacon escarpment to avoid the flood waters.
This is a nonsense, you couldnt make it up.
If it was the case that there was insufficient land within the Chester area to provide for new homes then there may be an argument for building on unsuitable land. Your Local Plan clearly identifies category 1 land by Wrexham Road which is more than adequate for Chesters future needs, currently an application has been lodged to build 1,400 houses.
Patrick Davies, for the applicant, said: Ogilvie Park provides much needed housing within a managed private-public park , 280 apartments and houses 80% private rental sector and 20% affordable private rental sector.
He said the project was in line with current thinking about the need to combat the UK housing crisis.
Mr Davies added: Ogilvie Park provides flood defences to protect 1,200 existing properties, up to 2,000 new homes and circa 50,000 square metres of potential commercial floor space which could be located on CWaC-owned land and other landowners.
He claimed the scheme was wholeheartedly backed by the Environment Agency.
Mr Davies said the ecological information provided by the council was based on a 1993 UK-wide report compiled by flying over the area with no samples of flora taken. He added: The proposal will create what the survey thought it had detected, planted grassland and enlarged hedgerow habitat to create opportunities for the existing water voles and encourage wider bio-diversity.
Blacon ward councillor Carol Gahan was concerned at building on high risk floodplain leaving new residents with an insurance and personal risk. The site had been ruled as unsuitable when the council drew up its Local Plan. She claimed the flood defences relied on a manually operated system which she felt was reckless.
There would be a loss of green space and wildlife in an area identified as deprived. And Cllr Gahan said Clifton Drive would be turned into a major thoroughfare even though it was just a country lane. Residents on Sealand Road would be overpowered by the housing at the rear with increased traffic at the front. She feared the impact on health and community services of another 1,000 residents.
Moving refusal, Cllr Eleanor Johnson said: We are told that this application is ambitious but I say I find the design to be utilitarian. I was going to say Eastern bloc but I was told I couldnt say that! It reminds me more of something like you see on television built around Chernobyl and I think we have moved forward from that. We want something people want to live in.
To her, building on the floodplain was unthinkable and she could not go against any of the seven reasons offered by the planning officer as reasons for refusal.
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Why John Motson, Seven Stories and Newcastle Town Moor are in a new TV series about Utopia – ChronicleLive
Posted: at 6:40 am
What or where is Utopia, that perfect world described by Sir Thomas More who also coined the word in his book of that name, published in 1516?
And what has it got to do with football commentator John Motson and Newcastles Town Moor?
The answers to these and many other Utopia-related questions will be found in the new Utopia season of programmes on BBC Four, and particularly in the three-part series called Utopia: In Search Of The Dream which starts on Tuesday, August 8.
The latter is presented by art historian Richard Clay, professor of digital humanites at Newcastle University, and in the past few months it has taken him on a whirlwind tour of Britain, the United States, Lithuania and Belarus.
Its not very glamorous, making TV, he jokes.
He is speaking from the Northumberland coast where he is currently on holiday. Sounds pretty utopian, I suggest. I wouldnt disagree with that, he replies.
This series of hour-long programmes started when ClearStory, an independent production company, pitched a documentary marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution to the BBC.
They kept sending them away to think of something more ambitious and eventually they came back with the idea of something around utopias. This then became a season of programmes.
Richard, who has presented previous documentaries on BBC Four, including one two years ago about the history of graffiti, was approached just before Christmas to work on Utopia: In Search Of The Dream and filming began in March.
Whichever way you look at it, this was an ambitious undertaking. Anyone who knows anything about television will know an awful lot of filming goes into making three hours of documentary.
Richard says: Episode one opens with archive footage of Obama talking about making the world a better place and then we have John Motson…
At which point I have to interrupt. Er, John Motson? On Utopia?
That was me talking about football as Utopia, says Richard.
We chose him because hes a legend. Hes got 50 years of football experience and an amazing stock of memories and he turned out to be a good choice, a serious interviewee.
He was going to football before I was born and talked about things like people streaming out of the factories and into the match where bosses and workers would suddenly be equals.
He also talked about village football where, as soon as youre on the pitch, youre all members of the team, working together and with a shared goal ideally lots of goals.
Theres something really utopian about that.
Richard says they had hoped to film Motty at a village match but had to settle for Watford FC.
And as for his own football allegiance, Richard says: I usually say Im a fan of North East football although I was born in Preston and half my family are from Sunderland.
They all supported Sunderland apart from one cousin who, as a rebellious teenager, supported Newcastle.
Also appearing in the first programme is professorial colleague Matthew Grenby, an expert on childrens literature, who was filmed at Seven Stories running a workshop about the idea of a perfect world based on Gullivers Travels.
Richard says: He was asking the kids what their version of Utopia would look like and the film crew was grinning through the whole thing.
A lot of the things they said were what youd expect, like not killing people and not stealing, but one kid said everybody must live up trees and another said everyone must like football.
So what would happen if somebody doesnt like football? Oh, said the kid, we throw them in the river.
Not all of these priceless exchanges made the final edit, warns Richard, but what remained sounds thoroughly entertaining.
The Town Moor features in the series because of Richards interest in Thomas Spence, the 18th Century radical who advocated the common ownership of land and opposed the threatened enclosure of this open green space in the 1770s.
It was when I moved to Newcastle two years ago that I realised he was a Geordie and supported the Freemen who succeeded in keeping this enormous space in the heart of the city accessible for grazing, he explains.
Im not taking sides politically. Im just observing, as a historian, that there was a vision of shared ownership of this resource and that utopian vision hasnt been compromised, although I suspect generations of people have had to keep defending the moor.
The film crew, mostly up from the south, couldnt believe what they were seeing. What on earth is this in the middle of the city with cows grazing on it?
Sir Thomas More, whose political satire Utopia started it all, features in the series.
We filmed in a monastery, says Richard, because Mores idea of Utopia, where there is no private property, was thought to have been inspired by monastic living.
But in what was clearly a wide-ranging exploration, there is also room for an interview with a Wikipedia boss, Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols, architect Norman Foster, whose firm designed Sage Gateshead , and composer Steve Reich.
The big competing ideologies of the 20th Century Communism, Capitalism and Fascism are all covered, hence those trips to the Baltic states which have felt the effects of all three.
And that might sound rather depressing, considering the cost in human lives.
But Richard says his exploration of historys utopias ends on a positive note.
The final programme ends up saying a recurring theme throughout history and across human societies and cultures is this urge to create a better, more equal way of life.
Despite the endless challenges in attempting to make it happen, we keep on trying and theres something really heartwarming and optimistic about that.
And with that hes away to enjoy his break in the county which he has chosen to make his home.
Ive been here for two years and Ive got no intention of leaving, he says.
Beautiful deserted beaches, incredibly friendly and generous people and the Town Moor!
He makes it sound rather utopian.
The first part of Utopia: In Search Of The Dream is screened on Tuesday (August 8) at 9pm on BBC Four.
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Posted: at 6:40 am
The playing field, however, is hardly even: In July, Mr. Rouhanis brother was arrested on corruption charges. He was later released on bail, but the prospect of his humiliating imprisonment could be used by the principlists to pressure Mr. Rouhani.
President Trump, surrounded by advisers seemingly determined to take a harder stance toward Iran, is reportedly seeking a pretext to eviscerate the 2015 nuclear accord. In lock step with Congress, the Trump administration has already moved to intensify sanctions and has vowed to aggressively counter Irans regional policies and ballistic missile activities.
Seen from Tehran, the signs are unmistakable: From its efforts to erect a Sunni arc to curb Irans purported Shiite crescent in the Levant to repeated hints about regime change, this administration is intent on confronting Iran, depriving it of the nuclear deals economic dividends and seeking to unseat its rulers.
There is no reason to believe that the Trump administration will succeed where its six predecessors faltered. And in that sense Irans rulers have little to worry about.
Of greater concern are the American policies unintended consequences. Escalation against Iran is bound to deepen the insecure countrys siege mentality; rising tensions will feed Irans militarism and militancy; and squeezing Iran will diminish Mr. Rouhanis maneuvering space.
All of this will bolster the principlists defeated time after time in local and national elections and enable them to regain politically what they lost electorally. They could exploit the external threat as pretext to obstruct the governments agenda, hinder economic reintegration to preserve their own interests, label critics as foreign agents, and fuel apathy and dissatisfaction to ensure their rivals defeat in the next elections. While the United States is incapable of empowering Iranian pragmatists, midwifing a principlist consolidation now would be a grave mistake.
The biggest losers in all of this, of course, will be the Iranian people. They pursued utopia in 1979 and know full well the cost of revolutionary change. Since then, they have grasped at the highly imperfect electoral straws of Irans constitutional theocracy, hoping for a gradual evolution toward a more open economy and pluralistic polity. Given a limited choice, they endorsed Mr. Rouhanis platform of diplomatic engagement with the West and banked that it would produce at least some modest improvements.
Instead, they have been paid back with the Trump administrations travel ban, its callous blaming of Iran after the Islamic States attack in Tehran in June and policies that will embolden the very forces they rebuked at the ballot box.
In 1953, the United States helped engineer a coup against an Iranian government that represented a nascent democratic movement a decision that boomeranged, fueling anti-American rancor and contributing to the rupture between the two countries a quarter-century later when zealots stormed the American Embassy in Tehran.
There is a lesson in that for the Trump administration.
Mr. Rouhani is not an ideal partner for Washington, and Iran under his helm would not pursue policies to Americas liking. The United States can intelligently push back against aggressive Iranian behavior in the region, and it can legitimately insist on rigorous enforcement of the nuclear accord.
But to escalate regional tensions, deepen sectarian rifts, undermine the nuclear agreement, pursue regime change and eschew all diplomatic engagement would be a hazardous affair. The Trump administration risks tilting Irans internal dynamics in the wrong direction at a pivotal moment, once again bringing the countrys democratic struggle to grief and breeding another generation of enemies.
Ali Vaez is the senior Iran analyst for the International Crisis Group.
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A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 5, 2017, in The International New York Times.
Oceania Rugby Cup title on the line – Rugby World Cup 2019 – Rugby World Cup 2019 (press release) (blog)
Posted: at 6:39 am
Regional focus: Oceania
Fridays Oceania Rugby Cup winner-takes-all encounter between the Cook Islands and Tahiti will decide which of the teams progresses to the next stage of Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification.
The biennial Oceania Rugby Cup, the regions showpiece event for development and targeted unions, has an extra edge this year with the winner of Friday’s encounter between the Cook Islands and Tahiti progressing through to the next stage of Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification.
The winner of the one-off game in Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands, will take on the winner of the Asia Rugby Championship 2018 in a home and away play-off for a spot in the global repechage tournament for Japan 2019.
READ MORE ABOUT RWC 2019 QUALIFICATION >>
Tahiti have never beaten the Cook Islands before in four attempts and are ranked 43 places below their hostsin 91st position in the World Rugby Rankings.
We feel we are the outsiders and the Cook Islands are the favourites but in rugby everything is possible. We hope we can perform to our best and win this game, said Charles Tauziet, chairman of the Tahiti Rugby Union.
While admitting to not knowing too much about their opponents, Cooks head coach Walter Tangata believes that if his side turns up on the daythe 2013 championshave every chance of winning a second Oceania Rugby Cup title.
I guess its more about maintaining the structure and game plan and focusing on what we need to do.If we do that right, we will be successful.
The match will be streamed live on the Oceania Rugby Facebook page.
Posted: at 6:39 am
An up-close encounter with nesting seabirds, endemic bird species, giant land tortoises, and depending on the season, a nesting sea turtle these are what conservation lovers are being invited to discover by visiting the small Seychelles island of Cousine.
Located some eight kilometers off the west coast of Praslin the Seychelles second most inhabited island Cousine is now offering day visits for small groups.
The new excursion experience on the secluded island, also home to a small boutique hotel, is open to both Seychellois and tourists.
Describing what the excursion has to offer, the Guest Relations Manager on Cousine Island Mrs. Michelle Pretorius said visitors would be welcomed by the conservation team upon arrival, who will brief them on the islands conservation program.
The visitors would then be taken on a guided tour of the islands plateau to encounter and learn about the various species that call Cousine their home, while all precautions are taken to minimize any disturbances to the wildlife.
To minimize any disturbance to the wildlife and guests on the island we can accommodate up to a maximum of six visitors per day, Mrs. Pretorius said.
The visit takes around 5 hours, including a three-course lunch and time for the visitors to relax and enjoy the scenery, including the clear azure waters surrounding the island.
As we are a conservation island with strict invasive species protocol we only allow our boat to beach the island. We therefore can collect visitors from Praslin or we can arrange a helicopter transfer both at an additional rate, said Mrs. Pretorius.
Cousine spans 25 hectares in size, 1.4 kilometers in length and 800 meters in width. Although small in size the island has a big heart for conservation.
Rich in natural habitat, it boasts an array of endemic vegetation, which creates the perfect habitat for land, sea and migratory bird species that call the island their home. Nesting sea birds that can be found on the island include the white-tailed tropic birds and fairy terns.
A thriving population of 40 Seychelles Magpie Robin, listed as endangered on the IUCN Red list of Threatened species due to its small population, can also be found on Cousine.
Visitors can also expect to meet one of the 80 giant Aldabra tortoises roaming around freely on the island. And if one is lucky to be on the island during the nesting season, the unique sight of a Hawksbill turtle laying its eggs on the beach will come as a special treat.
Aside of the newly introduced day visits, Cousine also has the capacity to welcome an intimate compliment of up to 12 adults & 6 children at its small boutique hotel, which underwent major renovations in 2011, reopening in April 2016.
The hotel boasts 4 luxury villas and a new stately Presidential villa that have been built to blend in well with the islands lush tropical vegetation.
Posted: at 6:38 am
There is the potential for two tropical systems, one in the Atlantic and one in the Caribbean, to slowly develop and drift westward over the next week.
The next two names on the list of tropical storms in the Atlantic for 2017 are Franklin and Gert.
Residents and those planning vacations around the Caribbean should closely monitor the weather and forecasts.
Up to this point in the season, there have been extensive areas of dry air and Saharan dust as well as a large zone of strong westerly winds aloft. These three factors act as a strong deterrent toward tropical storm formation and can bring an early demise to well-developed tropical storms and hurricanes.
Conditions are gradually becoming more favorable for development in the tropical Atlantic with dry air, dust and strong winds aloft on the retreat. Waters are sufficiently warm over the region.
One system, dubbed 90L, is located close to South America over the south-central Caribbean and is the more immediate concern of the two.
“In the short-term, the close proximity to South America will be a significant inhibiting factor for development,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
“However, once this system moves away from South America, it will have a better chance for development sometime this weekend,” Doll said.
Depending on the track and speed of strengthening of 90L, some of the islands and mainland areas may be affected by adverse conditions and perhaps localized flooding.
An immediate concern for torrential downpours, gusty thunderstorms and building seas will be in northwestern Venezuela, northern Colombia, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao through Saturday.
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As 90L grows in size, the risk of flooding downpours, gusty winds and rough seas may affect Jamaica late Saturday night and Sunday.
Westerly steering winds may bring 90L close over Nicaragua and Honduras later this weekend.
While this track would mark an end for strengthening, the two nations could be affected by damaging and dangerous conditions from flooding and gusty winds.
Should 90L take a more northwesterly track, toward the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, it would have more time for development and may then wander into the southwestern Gulf of Mexico next week.
The system farthest away from North America, dubbed 99L, has the potential to gradually develop into next week and beyond, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
“Nintey-nine L could become a tropical depression by the end of the weekend,” Doll said.
Provided the system avoids strong winds aloft and dry air to the north, significant additional strengthening could occur.
If 99L develops and/or survives, then it is likely approach the Windward and Leeward islands during the middle to latter part of next week. Parts of these islands are likely to experience an uptick in showers and thunderstorms at the very least during that time.
The exact track of 99L in relation to the proximity to the islands will depend on how quickly the system strengthens. A weak and poorly organized system is more likely to track to the west. A developed system is more likely to track north of west.
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Posted: at 6:38 am
Caribbean Hoopfest, an international youth basketball festival, is approaching its third year in the beautiful island of Jamaica. This years showcase will be held at the Montego Bay Community College in Jamaica from August 16-21.
Aside from Jamaica, the list of countries that are slated to partake include Trinidad, Canada and the United States. While all players arrive on the 16th, when they will partake in a variety of community and social events, the action on the hardwood starts on Friday, August 18. The itinerary aims to balance competition, entertainment and culture immersion.
An event that originated with four teams has grown to over 12 squads and hundreds of visitors from across the world. Featured players for the 2017 Caribbean Hoopfest include Brandon Jacobs and Loseni Kamara. The Queens native duo will be entering college this on full scholarships, with Kamar attending The University of Idaho and Jacobs attending Pace University.
Caribbean Hoopfest founder Donald Francois had a vision of bringing corporate resources to an underserved region. And so while uniting the global community he partnered with ADIDAS, the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe and the second largest in the world.
RISING STARS, a non-profit organization is also assisting with the Caribbean Hoopfest initiative. The organization is dedicated to building communities and creating more balanced individuals, which directly align with the goals and mission of the Caribbean Hoopfetto assist in the development of life skills through basketball.
Both organizations recognized Francois vision and ever since have supported the idea of uniting the global community by Bringing the Worlds Together to teach, educate and converge the youth.
This unique event focuses on strengthening morale amongst the athletes, as well as their families, local business owners, community leaders and vendors, whom have all been impacted by the annual showcase.
Our goal has always been to promote growth and culture and this is our best way to do it, says Francois.
Robins Nest Childrens Home, an orphanage in Jamaica, recently partnered with the Hoopfest outreach program. Proceeds from numerous fundraisers will be presented to Danielle Stryka, the Director of Robins Nest.
Francois is also the boys freshman basketball assistant coach at Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood, Queens.
At Molloy, hes coached and mentored current Division I prospects Cole Anthony, Moses Brown and Khalid Moore. In addition to his wide range of community projects, he is also the Director of TEAM NYC, an emerging AAU boys travel organization founded in 2012.
In Francois own words, the commitment is not limited to basketball; Its a commitment for life.