Spreading common sense on courts and in the kitchen

Here are three things I was thinking today. They're not really related, except that they all address common sense, or the lack thereof:

  • My office pool is totally wrecked (thanks Lobos), but there's still something else fun to gamble on this week for college basketball. Spot how many times you can see the same lazy argument get made now that UCLA has cut ties with coach Ben Howland.

The school won a lot of titles with John Wooden as coach — 10, to be exact, including a run of seven straight that ended in 1975. It's only won one title since then and gone through eight coaches. Each time a coach gets fired, most recently this weekend with Howland, the analysts trot out the same excuse. "The UCLA fan base is spoiled. John Wooden's not there anymore, and the days of winning titles every year aren't realistic for any school." I'll put the over-under at 5.5 for the times you hear it this week from "experts."

It would be one thing if the argument was just lazy, but it also appears to be untrue. Ben Howland was at UCLA for 10 seasons. He brought the Bruins to consecutive Final Four games during his first five years. In his last five, the team hadn't been to the Sweet 16 once. To get there, you're required to beat two teams (in UCLA's case, usually two lower-seeded teams).

If North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, Syracuse, UConn hadn't been to the Sweet 16 since 2008, they'd have new coaches, and nobody would blame a spoiled fan base.

  • The Supreme Court ruled correctly this week that police generally need search warrants to employ drug-sniffing dogs outside a home to detect whether drugs are inside.

The Facebook comments are sad and hilarious, with many blaming Chief Justice Barack Obama, conveniently ignoring the facts that drug dogs aren't infallible and that an officer walking around your house with no warrant is already on your property without your permission.

A big issue I have is the group that says, "If you've got nothing to hide, you're safe." That's not how the Fourth Amendment works. I'd love to be able to send a dog to those commenters' places, then see them fight the charges for the music they illegally downloaded, which the police discovered after they raided your house because the dog alerted on your prescription drugs.

  • When I bake, I don't like store-bought frosting. Homemade cost less, take up less cabinet space and lets you know what's in your food. I'll shudder when I see all of the powdered sugar and butter in the mixing bowl, but then I realize the average canned frosting includes artificial colors, artificial flavors, diglycerides, polysorbates, potassium sorbates and have I made my point yet?

It requires I keep a lot of powdered sugar, leading to the random grocery store conversation, "About to do some baking?" I nod politely, while I'm thinking of saying, "Nah, ripping off some guys in a drug deal. I'll be in Costa Rica by the time The Walrus finds out it's not cocaine he bought."

I found out this week I've been wasting my time. You can powder your own sugar with a blender or a food processor. I felt dumb until I told a friend who wants to open her own bakery. She said, "Now we both feel dumb."

Assumption would tell me I'm wasting column space pointing out how dumb I was, but it turns out common knowledge isn't always that common.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media Inc. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by email: kwilson@cnjonline.com

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