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Stranger Things than the Phoenix Suns, Vol. 2

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MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

It’s August. Oh boy is it August. Even without a calendar or thermometer, it is painfully clear what month we’re in, as NBA free agent news, summer league action, and rampant trade speculation has given way to news about NBA 2K player ratings, the ever exciting regular-season schedule, and speculation over jersey color schemes.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no news anywhere. There is. Happening every day if you can believe it. Why in just the last couple months a private company in Europe moved a step closer to a working fusion reactor, an iceberg the size of Delaware broke free of the Antarctic ice shelf, and the 2024 and 2028 Olympic host cities were announced (Paris and Los Angeles respectively). Not to mention that a total solar eclipse is set to cross the United States for the first time in 99 years on Aug. 21, although it seems fitting that the Valley of the Sun won’t be included in the full spectacle.

The problem is that none of that news is suited for Bright Side because it isn’t inherently Phoenix Suns related — yet. That’s where I come in.

Longtime readers of this site will remember (Oh, who am I kidding. I had to look it up myself.) that back in February I started a series entitled Stranger Things than the Phoenix Suns, dedicated to turning non-Suns news into material ripe for consumption right here on Bright Side. Back then, I asserted that just about anything can be tied to the Suns if one looks hard enough, and I am happy to report that my hypothesis remains true. However, anyone can pivot into a discussion about the Suns from fertile ground like renegade icebergs or the Olympics. But jade eggs and cybernetic cat ears? That’s Deadpoolio’s wheelhouse.

For those who came here for in-depth Suns news, turn back now. (Also, remind yourself that, again, it’s August, and give yourself a little smack for expecting something to have happened today.) For those remaining, prepare yourselves for the experience that is…

Stranger Things than the Phoenix Suns, Volume 2.

Your pretty face is going to health

Staying ahead of the health curve is vitally important in the modern NBA, and the Suns have shown a willingness to provide its medical and training staffs with the resources they need to do just that. But cryochambers and BOSU Balls aside, advances in medicine are happening all the time, and staying up to date can be daunting.

Take, for instance, the modern lifestyle brand goop. Founded by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, whose CV in the wellness field includes her appearance on The Marriage Ref and that time she tried to eat healthy on $29 a week, goop offers its clientele a bounty of health-adjacent products. Appearing for sale on its site are items like Chill Child kid calming mist, which the site describes as an aromatherapy mist that can be sprayed “into the air around your wild child’s aura to restore peace to the environment.” The site also reassuringly cautions that users should “avoid spraying near the eyes, and do not ingest or inhale.” It’s the perfect aromatherapy for anyone sick and tired of inhaling their aromas, and at just $30 for a 3.4-ounce bottle, there’s no reason not to get this. I mean, what’s a couple days of not eating compared to the joy of spraying an unknown mist at a child?

Staying with goop, they also offer a 1.5-ounce jar of something called Power Dust, described on the site as “an elite edible formula alchemized to support success and harmony in accomplishing physical or entrepreneurial feats.” Now, that might sound like a lot of nothing, but it’s actually 16 words long. And as we all know, words=good.

And of course there’s goop’s infamous jade egg, which for the uninitiated is a polished egg-shaped stone that is…ahem…supposed to be…umm…inserted into the…is it getting hotter in here? Well, uhh, as I was saying, it’s supposed to be inserted into the…uhh…. Okay, we’re all adults here, right? We can have a serious discussion using medical terms for things and be mature about it, right? So anyway, as I was saying, it’s a polished egg-shaped stone that aides in health and pleasure when inserted into the…lady parts. (I’m a child.)

Clearly, that’s a lot of health innovation to keep track of, and it gets even more complicated once you factor in the stickers. Oh, you haven’t heard about the stickers? Goop profiled a company called Body Vibes, which sold stickers that were designed to “tap into the human body’s bio-frequency” and help with everything from anxiety and healing conflict to hangovers and hydration. Controversy was courted, though, when Body Vibes asserted that its stickers utilized the same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line its space suits to monitor vitals. NASA rebutted those claims by saying its suits have no such technology, and Mark Shelhamer, former chief scientist at NASA’s human research division, added, “Wow. What a load of BS this is.” Both goop and Body Vibes put out responses apologizing for the miscommunication but not for trying to sell a box of 10 stickers for $60.

Look, progress is never a straight line, and some ideas simply aren’t accepted right away. Just because NASA doesn’t believe in the healing power of stickers doesn’t mean they don’t work. I say it’s high time the Suns chuck their Kinesio Tape and stock their shelves with stickers to slap on their players to get them through the grind of an 82-game season. And while he’s at it, Aaron Nelson should pick up some Chill Child to spritz on Marquese Chriss’ aura when he’s closing in on a technical foul and some Power Dust for, you know, accomplishing all those physical and entrepreneurial feats.

Although if Nelson finds a legitimate use for a jade egg this season, I sincerely don’t want to know about it.

Death cab for cutie

Self-driving cars continue to make headway onto U.S. roads, but there are still a number of kinks to be worked out of the system before they are ready to hit the mainstream. Fortunately, it appears one of those kinks is getting closer to being eliminated — namely, how will your car know whom to hit?

As everyone on the road knows, sometimes accidents happen. For example, a child darts out from behind a parked car, and the driver, unable to brake in time, swerves and hits a tree. Now imagine if swerving took the car not into a tree but instead into a group of people standing on the sidewalk. It’s a no-win situation but one a self-driving vehicle would need to account for in a real-world environment.

It used to be assumed that these types of ethical decisions could only be determined by a human being, as each situation would need to be weighed in context, but a recent study published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience claims that research proves seemingly complex moral and ethical decisions — at least those confined to the scope of driving — can, in fact, be modeled algorithmically and adapted to machines.

“Human behavior in dilemma situations can be modeled by a rather simple value-of-life-based model that is attributed by the participant to every human, animal, or inanimate object,” said Leon Sütfeld, first author on the study.

To some, having machines make moral and ethical decisions might be a bit disconcerting, but take solace in the fact that it’s a ways off. Still, a word of caution to Suns players in the near future: If you get a text from Ryan McDonough asking you to meet him in the parking garage, don’t go. He may be about to inform you, Christine-style, that the team is going in another direction.

One giant leap for sandwich-kind

When the space race launched some 60 years ago, there were so many firsts yet to be accomplished. The first man into space. The first man to walk on the moon. But recently it has felt like the firsts haven’t been coming in as readily anymore. Luckily, KFC had the audacity to change that.

Yes. KFC.

On June 29th of this year, KFC partnered with World View, a company that uses high-altitude balloons to operate in the Earth’s stratosphere, to send one of its KFC Zinger sandwiches to the edge of space from Page, Arizona.

According to a press release from the two companies, the launch of the Zinger sandwich was done with the intent of “pushing the boundaries of space explorations and fried chicken technology.”

There was no word exactly how much the fried chicken giant paid for this marketing stunt, but it’s highly likely KFC heard the Suns were considering wasting $30 million a year on Paul Millsap and said, “Hold my beer.”

An incurable case of the Awws

The state of Illinois recently became the first state to require health insurers to cover a pediatric disorder that is caused by a common strep infection but results in the sudden onset of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD-like symptoms in children.

The condition, believed to be caused when the child’s own immune system attacks the brain while seeking out the strep bacteria, is known as Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections.

It is also known as PANDAS.

To be sure, this condition is an unpleasant and unfortunate one to be diagnosed with. But learning that you’ve been diagnosed with something called PANDAS has to take some of the sting out of it. I mean, that’s just adorable.

As far as I’m concerned, every bad thing should come hand in hand with an adorable acronym. That’s why I will no longer say the Suns are in the midst of the franchise’s longest ever playoff drought. Instead, I have diagnosed the Suns as suffering from Prolonged Unsuccessful Postseason Pushes In Every Season, otherwise known as PUPPIES.

Don’t believe it works? Ask yourselves which sounds better: “The Suns are mired in the Western Conference basement” or “The Suns have PUPPIES.” Exactly.

No gorilla pose?

Head coach Earl Watson doesn’t run a team so much as he does a family. That’s the impression he gives off at least, and it was evident during the 2016 offseason when several players and team staff got together for team bonding exercises like yoga and spin class. But there hasn’t been as much team bonding news this offseason for reasons unknown. Maybe it’s been happening on the DL. Or perhaps it’s that all the yoga classes, etc. wouldn’t feel original the way they did a year ago.

So why not add goats?

Yes, folks. Goat yoga is a thing. Essentially, it consists of people gathered together doing yoga while baby goats do goat things around them. This can include nibbling at hair, rubbing up against them, or even jumping on top of participants as they work on their King Pigeon Pose. Basically it’s like doing yoga in a petting zoo only with (hopefully) less manure.

But some people may not want the distraction of goats running around them while they expand their consciousness. Completely understandable. How ‘bout cats?

Yes, folks. Cat yoga is a thing, too, and it works exactly like you think: people, yoga, cats, mix well. According to practitioners of cat yoga, the calm energy of the cats transfers to the participants and creates the perfect relaxed environment for balancing chakras.

So with all this variety available, there is no excuse for the Suns not to be engaging in team yoga again this summer — unless, say, Devin Booker has a severe dander allergy the public isn’t privy to. In that case, maybe try paintball.

Levi’s? More like Le-vibes, amiright?

Close your eyes and imagine for a moment — actually, no, keep your eyes open or you won’t be able to read what to imagine — you’re walking down an unfamiliar path when it suddenly forks, leaving you with no idea which fork to take. What do you do? Sure, you could probably just look it up on your phone, but wouldn’t it be easier if your pants vibrated?

Enter Spinali Design, a fashion company that understands exactly where technology is going in the future. It has created jeans that come with two built-in vibrating sensors at the belt that, when connected to your phone’s Bluetooth, guide the wearer through the world with helpful right or left vibrating cues. The vibrating jeans can also alert the wearer to important incoming notifications like e-mails, texts, and phone calls and even allow people to vibrate other people’s jeans as a way to get their attention. I can see no negative aspects to this whatsoever.

The Suns have yet to announce an official jersey sponsor for 2017-18, but I think the search is over. Just sign up Spinali Design, stick a couple of those vibrating sensors in the shorts, and all next season every Suns player will have no excuse for not knowing where to be on offense. I’m just disappointed this didn’t happen sooner.

Purr-fectly attentive

As hacking becomes more prevalent, there exists a growing concern over vulnerabilities in medical devices. Pacemakers, insulin pumps, and more have been shown to possess lax security measures that can potentially allow nefarious actors to gain control of the devices and hold people themselves hostage instead of just computer systems.

This is troubling to say the least, but there is one device I think we can all agree no one wants hacked, say it with me — cybernetic cat ears. Why didn’t you say it with me?

Neurowear has created wearable cat ears called Necomimi that monitor the wearer’s brain activity and respond in kind by moving the ears into different positions. Focus on something, and the ears perk up. Relax, and the ears lie flat. Find yourself “in the zone,” and the ears both perk up and wiggle. It’s the kind of outside-the-box idea that could only come from Japan.

This analog alternative to creeping around on people’s Facebook pages for status updates does not presently have Wi-Fi connectivity, but people also said there’d never be a need for light bulbs and toasters to connect to the Internet yet here we are. So if you’re reading this Robert Sarver, listen up. The moment these Necomimi become Internet-ready, set up an arena-wide giveaway that corresponds to the highest profile, nationally televised game on the schedule. Then hack into the devices and set those ears to attentive, and when the cameras pan over the crowd, the viewing audience will see a stadium full of alert-eared Suns fans rather than people wondering why the nachos are always so cold. Instant PR.

Or it’ll give Charles Barkley something to talk about on Inside the NBA. Either works.

YouTube famous

All good things must come to an end, and after 1,689 consecutive days, it has. Gangnam Style is no longer the most viewed video on YouTube.

The music video for the song by K-pop legend(?) PSY was dethroned by the Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth collaboration See You Again on July 10th. However, that reign lasted a mere 25 days before Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee took the crown and with it became the first YouTube video to surpass 3 billion views.

For those curious, Bright Side of the Sun also has its own YouTube channel, and it is chock full of interesting footage. Its most viewed video has nearly 52,000 views…

…while its least viewed video — the creatively named FILE0326 — has a meager 34 views as of typing this (I’m embarrassed enough for all of us):

In between are videos like this one, with Eric Bledsoe wearing a hat straight out of Kung Lao’s closet:

And here’s one of Dave dumping water on his head:

Will one of these videos someday rise to the top of the YouTube leaderboard? Only time will tell. (Or I can tell you: No. No they won’t. That was time enough, right?)

I spy with my little eye something green

A man in Corpus Christi, Texas found himself trapped in a Bank of America in July and was forced to slip notes to customers through the ATM.

The man got stuck in the ATM room while repairing an electronic lock and having left his phone in his truck was reduced to slipping pieces of paper with his boss’ contact information to ATM customers, many of whom thought it was a prank. The police were eventually called out, and when they heard a faint voice coming from behind the ATM, they realized it wasn’t a prank and rescued the man.

Obviously this man didn’t intend to get himself trapped in the ATM, but I just might if the Suns engage in more “strategic losing” and “enhanced recovery techniques” like they did last season. Seriously, I really don’t know how much more I can take.