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Happy Independence Day to Cougs everywhere

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Let freedom keep ringing!

Greetings. Happy 245th birthdate to the good ol’ U.S. of A., and happy Fourth of July weekend to all of you in Cougar Nation. Hopefully you’re celebrating with friends, family, a good beverage and a healthy dose of mRNA. I honored our nation’s founding by consuming a sublime miniature chocolate ice cream cake, then I figured that eating a second one was well within my rights BECAUSE THIS IS AMERICA. I’m not actually in America but there’s an embassy close by so I’m calling it even, but I digress.

As you’ve probably noticed, and as many of us have written, there isn’t a whole lot going on in terms of Washington State Cougars sports right about now. However, college sports in general, and football in particular, have had quite the busy summer. First, there was the unveiling of the proposed 12-team College Football Playoff. Next, we watched nine Supreme Court justices throw down a 360 windmill dunk from the foul line on the NCAA in its case against Shawne Alston et al., and finally, July 1 brought the advent of college athletes finally being able to monetize their names, images and likenesses. And it’s only early July!

One college athlete at the forefront of the movement was WSU’s own Dallas Hobbs. Hobbs was featured in the Spokesman Review recently, where he spoke about his own ongoing journey through, as he called it, the conveyer belt of college athletics. Right up front, Hobbs seems to be a damned impressive young man. In addition to being a full time student and college football player, Hobbs finds time to take part in a variety of other interests.

A graphic design whiz who obtained his undergraduate degree in digital technology and culture, WSU’s defensive tackle has compiled many of his favorite pieces into an Instagram portfolio called “Hobbs Designs.” Although anyone can view the page and reach out to Hobbs if they have a project in mind, NCAA rules have always prohibited him from actively promoting his work.

Hobbs’ designs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Iowa native’s interests away from the field. He has a photography page with more than 1,300 followers, co-hosts two podcasts and, when the time allows, helps tutor students pursing degrees in digital technology and culture. When the 2021 season ends, he hopes to get the ball rolling on another project on which he’s passionate.

So to recap: full time student, Power Five college football player, supremely talented photographer / graphic designer, host of multiple podcasts, tutor. When I was at WSU, it was all I could do to pry myself off the couch for ROTC and weekend nights at Shermer’s.

One incredible talent that Dallas must possess - not noted in the article - is the ability to manage his time. So while I certainly hope he stands out enough to warrant college honors and a pro football career (we really need you, Dallas!), I have zero doubts that Hobbs will be incredibly successful at whichever professional pursuit (probably pursuits in his case) he chooses.

Hobbs is an easy guy to root for, and the hope here is that all student-athletes at WSU are able to earn themselves at least a little walking around money, as my grandpa used to say, so they don’t feel chewed up and spit out when their eligibility is exhausted. Best of luck to all of them. Now, can someone direct me to the Tik Tok store? That seems to be where all the kids shop these days. Is there a phone number I can call?

Oh, and while I’m here, how do I get my hands on Syr Riley’s cheesecakes? Yes, plural. Go Cougs #’Murica

Football

'Once I got into it ... I couldn't stop.' For more than a year, Washington State's Dallas Hobbs has fought on the front lines of the NIL movement | The Spokesman-Review
Tens of thousands of athletes across the country can now capitalize from their name, image and likeness, but few were in the thick of the movement that made it happen. Hobbs, meanwhile, was on the front lines.

College Football Top 130 Team Rankings for 2021 - AthlonSports.com | Expert Predictions, Picks, and Previews
New coach Nick Rolovich didn't have time to implement and develop his run-and-shoot scheme, but a normal spring and fall practice should help Washington State get on track in ’21.

College Football News Preseason All-Pac-12 Football Team: Preview 2021
Preview 2021: Previewing and looking ahead to the Pac-12 season with the College Football News Preseason All-Pac-12 Conference Team & Top 30 players.

This Week in Parenting

I’ve got a birthdate that usually falls within a week of Father’s Day. This year, the boys each made me separate greetings, so the card came with four different works of art. For Father’s Day, the nine year-old had some thoughts. “I wish you could see the catastrophe (sic) that is happening here the cat is a handful and I have baseball tournaments coming up. My life is a movie right now.”

Not sure what any of that had to do with Father’s Day, but whatever. And I am honestly curious if “catastrophe” was a stab at a pun or a misspelling. I’ll give him credit for the attempt either way. He also drew a picture of a movie popcorn to really drive home the idea that his life is being played out on film.

On the birthdate front, the 12 year-old brushed aside the pleasantries and went for throat. “Congratulations! You now get to sit in an old rocking chair and sip whiskey on the porch and remember ‘the good ol’ days’.” The funny part is he thinks that’s some sort of insult, while I think sitting on a porch and sipping whiskey is a pretty great way to live out one’s years. I am proud of the fact that he’s not shy about making fun of me. I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about it.

75% of Team Kendall was also able to take advantage of the long weekend, this time with a hop down to lovely Florence, Italy. Pre-trip odds that the boys would consume anything but pizza and gelato for three days were at least 1000/1. This photo, taken roughly 45 minutes after they arrived, made those odds even longer.

I don’t know how they survive, to be honest.

Book Club

Man, does Lawrence in Arabia keep getting better. Credit where it’s due: those British statesmen sure as hell knew how to shape the course of history in about the worst ways possible. In this episode, different parts of their colonial governments competed against each other to elevate rival Arabs to power in the Middle East. The Brits in Egypt backed Emir Hussein, who ruled the Hejaz near Mecca and Medina. The British contingent in India, who thought the Arabian Peninsula was within their sphere of influence, did not. Who did they like? A tribal chieftain named Abdul Aziz ibn-Saud.

Having embraced an extremely austere form of fundamentalist Islam known as Wahhabism, over the previous fifteen years ibn-Saud had led his desert warriors into battle against one recalcitrant tribe after another with a kind of evangelical zeal.

(T.E.) Lawrence warned that the Wahhabist sect was composed of marginal medievalists, “and if it prevailed, we would have in place of the tolerant, rather comfortable Islam of Mecca and Damascus the fanaticism of Nejd, intensified and swollen by success.”

(Gulp)

For the next ninety years, the vast and profligate Saudi royal family would survive by essentially buying off the doctrinaire Wahhabists who had brought them to power, financially subsidizing their activities so long as their disciples directed their jihadist efforts abroad. The most famous product of this arrangement was to me a man named Osamam bin Laden.

Freezing cold takes, unapologetic European colonialist edition.

Non-Sports

As the last Americans departed Bagram Air Base this week, I started thinking about all the time I spent there. Over eight deployments, I figure I spent about 20 months of my life at Bagram between 2006 and 2012, flying missions, playing Halo 2 and watching Arrested Development. The pictures definitely bring back some memories.

My gas mask never left the bag that was thrown under my bed. The Rip Its were an absolute staple of every mission for lots of guys, though I never tried one. The sugar-free Rip Its were especially popular. I definitely consumed a lot of Pop Tarts on flights, though my go-to snack was raw oatmeal. I’d open a bag (maple and brown sugar will always be the best), pour its contents into my mouth, then take a swig of water. Boom, meal complete in under 30 seconds. MREs were another staple, though the shine wears off quickly once you memorize the bag’s contents based upon the main course written on the front. And I won’t talk about the MRE bombs that dudes constructed when flying was sparse.

It’s pretty weird to think that it’s all over.

The Relics of America’s War in Afghanistan - The New York Times
For almost 20 years, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan was the anchor for America’s war, its sprawling twin runways serving to launch bombing raids, journeys home, medical evacuations, mail runs and U.S.O. shows.

I Write About the Law. But Could I Really Help Free a Prisoner? - The New York Times
For years as a journalist, I’ve covered attempts to exonerate incarcerated people. But a letter from Yutico Briley led to a different kind of story.