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This Memorial Day, Keep Those We’ve Lost in Mind

Memorial Day is one of the dates on the calendar that every American earmarks at the start of the year. It elicits thoughts of cold drinks, beach days, pool parties and barbecues. But not lost on many (hopefully all) Americans is the reason they’re enjoying their day off: those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Since the Revolutionary War there has been hundreds of thousands of deaths in battle. These brave souls shed their blood and died defending the United States of America—its values and its vision. It’s imperative that when we celebrate Memorial Day on Monday that we keep them in mind; those that laid down their lives to give us the freedom to do things like barbecue, hang out by the pool, and enjoy a beer or two. These are the things we most often take for granted, and if it wasn’t for America’s brave military, we may not be doing them this coming weekend.

So as you kick off your Memorial Day plans, please keep those we’ve lost in battle in mind.

Supreme Court Overturns Gambling Law

If you’re the wager-happy type, you started your week with some great news. On Monday the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision, voting 7-2 in favor of striking down a law that banned sports gambling at the federal level. Essentially, this will lay the groundwork for individual states to begin allowing legal sports betting.

Do you suddenly feel that walkaround cash burning a hole in your pocket? You’re not alone.

Sports gambling is a major industry, even though Nevada is the only state in the union to formally permit it. The void has been primarily filled with your stereotypical bookmaking, offshore betting sites and sketchy transactions. It’s been estimated that nearly $150 billion is illegally wagered in the United States annually.

To say that states may want to (gambling pun incoming) get in on the action is an understatement. It represents a massive chunk of tax revenue for state governments, and with Monday’s decision, you’ll begin to see the dominoes start to fall regarding sports betting laws.

Opposing the decision were the major sports leagues—of course—citing the impact that legalized gambling may have on the integrity of their games. The cynic in me thinks there’s a money issue that’s secretly fueling the opposition.

There’s no real timetable for states to begin to rewrite their gambling laws, but this is a major breakthrough in the United States. Sports gambling is ubiquitous around the world, with many top flight leagues being sponsored by wagering outlets. We’ll see what state is the first to enact new laws.

Apple’s iMac Turns 20

If you were in school in the ‘90s, chances are your computer labs were lined with rows of Apple II’s. The Apple II was a ubiquitous symbol of the early-nineties, but became eclipsed in popularity by IBM and other Windows-powered desktops. Sales began to decline and the company appeared doomed to the annals of the obsolete.

Apple was at a crossroads.

So in 1997 and brought back its enigmatic and famously mercurial CEO Steve Jobs, and Jobs—more of a marketer and designer than programmer—unveiled the Apple iMac the following year. The iMac, with its assortment of brightly colored, see-through monitors which gave you a glimpse of the computer’s internal components, changed the tide for a company in freefall.

It set the tone for Apple to become the global leader in tech that it is today.

And this week we’re celebrating 20 years of the iMac, officially announced on May 6, 1998.

Jobs always believed that the best computers should set the industry benchmark for power, efficiency, and ease of use—but he also felt strongly that a computer should not just be a machine. A computer should be as uniquely designed as intricate furniture—it should be art. And the iMac released in 1998 reflected his vision.

The subsequent Apple iMac’s were clean and minimalist. Its sleek edges and clean, silk white look embodied Jobs’ ideas for how Apple’s computers should be designed. Owners should enjoy using them, but also enjoy displaying them as well.

So cheers on your 20th year, iMac. You truly changed the world.

 

Shaquem Griffin Steals the Show

The NFL Draft is the culmination of a football player’s dreams. The two-a-days, the film study, the seemingly endless reps in the weight room—being selected in the draft is proof that it was all worth it.

And that’s why it’s incredible that Shaquem Griffin was snapped up by the Seahawks in the fifth round over the weekend. Shaquem is a linebacker from UCF—my alma mater—who just became the first player in NFL history with one hand. It’s a truly phenomenal story of perseverance and heart.

Shaquem was born with a genetic defect called Amniotic Band Syndrome, which meant that his hand did not form properly in the womb. At the age of four, after years of pain, his hand was amputated. His twin brother Shaquill was an incredible athlete growing up—as was Shaquem, but his physical limitation meant that he was constantly counted out.

By scouts, by coaches, and by his peers.

When Shaquill was offered a full scholarship to UCF, he refused unless his brother was offered one, as well.

Shaquem languished on the bench for much of his career at UCF—so much so that he contemplated quitting. It wasn’t until Coach Scott Frost took over at UCF that he saw what the previous coaching regime had missed.

Shaquem was a football player. A really, really good one.

When his brother Shaquill was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the third round of 2017’s NFL Draft, Shaquem began to thrive at UCF. His defensive prowess and instincts at linebacker helped the Knights go undefeated last season, and he took home Defensive Player of the Year honors for the American Athletic Conference.

But it still wasn’t enough. Shaquem, now a senior, was not invited to the NFL Combine. A veritable social media PR campaign took place, and the NFL finally extended an invite. Shaquem Griffin did not disappoint. He put up 20 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press. He ran a 4.38 40-yard dash—the fastest time for a linebacker in the history of the combine.

He was invited to the draft, but it wasn’t until the fifth round on Saturday that he heard his name called. He would be rejoining his twin brother in Seattle.

Shaquem’s story is one of never counting yourself out, and never allowing others to tell you what you can and cannot do. It’s one of pushing yourself to achieve your goals, regardless if the odds appear stacked against you. It’s a monumental tale that should serve as inspiration for those who may find themselves with the same physical limitations.

I’m an unabashed, long-suffering Atlanta Falcons fan, but with the Seahawks selecting Shaquem Griffin, I have found another team to root for, as well.

Amazon to Deliver Packages to Cars

Back at PR/PR Blog HQ after a long weekend in Chicago—what a great city! I attended a close friend’s wedding, so while not enjoying the event’s menu I essentially subsisted on Italian beef sandwiches. I think I ate 5 of them over the course of the weekend.

I returned last night, but I may have come back a bit too early. No, not because I need another beef sandwich; but because The Windy City is one of the pilot markets for Amazon’s new “trunk delivery” system.

What is trunk delivery? Glad you asked.

Not content to rest on his laurels—especially after last week’s announcement that Amazon would be scrapping its plan to dive into the pharmaceutical industry—Jeff Bezos has unveiled a new system where the company can deliver packages directly to the trunks of Prime members’ cars. The company famously introduced a program where it will drop off your orders inside homes, but now that logic applies to vehicles as well.

Certain cars (with OnStar) allow for keyless, remote entry. Amazon has adjusted its Amazon Key app to be compatible with OnStar and permit entry for couriers to place packages in the trunks of vehicles. It’s a fantastic option for people living in dense urban areas—who also happen to be enticing targets for package thieves.

Users are provided a time window for when their package will arrive to their trunk, and instructed to have their car parked in an accessible area near their home address. Once their orders have been dropped off, they receive a notification that the delivery is complete.

This would have been an interesting tech experiment whilst in Chicago. If the new program is successful, it will be unveiled throughout the country.

Amazon is constantly finding new ways to streamline the online delivery market, and with trunk delivery they’re checking off yet another box that has made them one of the world’s dominant companies.