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Hero on a Budget: Learn Money Management from the World of Warcraft

Even in the fantasy world, there are no shortcuts to success, everyone in the WoW starts off at the bottom and works their way up.
What better way to practice going broke, or testing out financial decisions than through the virtual world of Draenor?  World of Warcraft is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game developed by Blizzard Entertainment.  It is an online game where millions of players from around the world assume the roles of heroic fantasy characters and explore a world full of magic and mystery. You start out as a newcomer, and must learn and practice your skills to survive.  Earning and spending money is a key aspect of the success of your character. At the beginning, you are given a small satchel to carry your belongings as well as some basic gear.  You earn everything you need from this point onward.  You explore and collect items, earning money and objects through quests.  You first earn copper pieces, then silver, then gold.  Much like the real world, you have to prove your abilities with less lucrative jobs, before you can advance to better ones. Even in the fantasy world, there are no shortcuts to success, everyone in the WoW starts off at the bottom and works their way up.  There’s no silver spoon handed to you from the start.

WoW can actually be a pretty useful tool in learning personal financial literacy or the ability to manage and understand your financial conditions.  This includes the ability to make financial choices, talk about money and financial issues with others, plan for the future, and respond competently to life events that affect everyday financial decisions, including events in the general economy.  Luckily in the WoW there are no economic reasons to ever worry about anything but yourself.  So it puts your financial planning in a bit of a bubble, but thats ok for practice purposes. Here are some tips on how to manage your wealth as an Elf…

1. Pawning for Power: In the game you must manage your budget.  The games’ creators have carefully balanced objects’ values based on your location and your likelihood of affording certain items you might need – like a better set of armor or better weapons.  Through quests, and selling back items you find (like pawning in the real world) you can build up a small amount to be able to buy things for yourself.

2. Auction House Hustle: When you have amassed a large quantity of items, either through farming, looting, or crafting, you can sell these items in bulk, directly to other players through the auction house. Real players may need something very specific that they wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.  Much like the real world, supply and demand dictate the prices in the auction house.  You can compare the current going rate for certain items, and then undercut your selling price to try and win some sales first.  This is the best way to earn a LOT of money all at once.

3. Stash your Cash: Your coin purse is similar to a basic checking account.  You see your balance after making a purchase.  There are bank vaults where you can store more items or money that you won’t be able to spend immediately without retrieving – like a savings account.  This is a smart solution to curb the desire to spend all of your money in one place or to squander your money without planning for the future – like buying that super expensive flying mount.

Luckily, WoW is still a fantasy realm and you don’t have to face the greatest monster of them all, DEBT. But there are still valuable money management lessons you can learn along your quest to rule the kingdom.

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The Art of Fresh: Fashion and Philanthropy

“Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice.” ~ Paul Robeson

According to the late Paul Robeson, artists have the opportunity to use their platforms to make significant changes in society. However, some would argue that artists have no obligation to address certain issues. Although they may have a point, when I think of artists who have become icons in popular culture, I think of those who have used their voices to raise awareness, especially as it pertains to social and political issues. Artists, such as Bob Marley, Nina Simone, John Lennon, Fela Kuti, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, have all taken a stand against the injustices of the world. In retrospect, they have become bigger than their artistry. They have been philanthropists, humanists, revolutionaries, and activists. They have been individuals who have lived their lives beyond just fortune and fame.

Issues, such as poverty, gun violence, police brutality, gangs, and racism continue to persist. But there is a new wave of artists who are carrying the torch. These artists are not only using their music, but also fashion to make social and political statements. For instance, in the 2004 presidential election, P. Diddy (founder of Bad Boy Records), Sean John, and Citizen Change launched a campaign to encourage more young people between the ages of 18 and 30 to vote. This helped change the face of the U.S. political landscape by encouraging the youth to “Vote or Die”, using celebrities as his support system.

The campaign was meant to show that the right to vote is a matter of life or death. This notion may not be too far-fetched, as people have literally fought and died for this freedom. I believe this resonated with young people, not only because of the celebrities involved, but also because of its simple, yet powerful position in politics. This campaign was not only successful in 2004, but also in 2008, when President Barack Obama was elected.

Jay-Z, Hip-Hop artist and co-founder of Rocawear, also attempted to use fashion as a statement. Although it was short-lived, he released a new line of t-shirts, which were meant to support the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. This movement served as a protest against social and economic disparities between corporations and the American people. The shirt “tweaks the phrase ‘Occupy Wall Street’ by crossing out the ‘W’ and adding an ‘S’ to make it read ‘Occupy All Streets’.”

Unfortunately, this effort led to a little bit of controversy, primarily because he never intended on sharing his profits to the actual protestors. The Business Insider states, “A Rocawear spokesperson sent us a statement confirming there’s no plan to distribute any of the profits, which will surely pour in from shirt sales, to Occupy Wall Street.” According the spokesperson, “The ‘Occupy All Streets’ T shirt was created in support of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. ‘Occupy All Streets’ is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street. At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.”

This leads to questionable motives of certain artists. There seems to be a thin line between legitimacy and sincerity from the public’s point of view, especially in this day and age where there are many cultural capitalists. In my opinion, there needs to be a clear alignment between the art and actions of the individuals, which leads me to Kendrick Lamar’s recently released, “Ventilators 2” by Reebok.

Throughout his career, Lamar has repeatedly shed light on his upbringing in Compton, California, where gang culture seems to dominate the living conditions of his immediate environment. Having been heavily influenced by this reality, he has always mentioned it in both his music and interviews. With songs, such as: “Little Johnny”, “M.A.A.D. City (featuring MC Eight), and “I”, he continues to provide a voice for his constituents by emphasizing social, political, and economic discrepancies that are woven into the American fabric. His response to these discrepancies and pervasiveness of gang culture are the Ventilators 2. Complex mentions, “These Ventilators, which were previewed by Sneakers.fr, are set against an off-white suede base with alternating blue and red accents on each shoe. The gang references are apparent, and each tongue tag is inscribed with ‘Neutral,’ echoing a sentiment Kendrick has been pushing strongly during his career.”

Other artists, such as Usher and John Legend (pictured below), aren’t necessarily known for making social and political commentary in their music, but they have also been recently seen using fashion to make a statement.

As we continue to face adversities in our lives, it is important to have the opportunity to express ourselves constructively. It may not necessarily be directly based on certain social, economic, or political issues; however, we are undeniably affected by these issues in one way or another. In that regard, we should continue to find creative ways to address these issues for the betterment of mankind.

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The Theories Behind Time Travel

Great Scott! How many gigawatts does it take to write a story with time travel and parallel universes? It doesn’t take that much electricity, but it does take a lot of planning, researching and creativity.

H.G. Wells, Isaac Asminov, Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler, Kurt Vonnegut — they’ve all written famous science fiction books that focus on time travel. Wells’ Time Machine dates back to 1895, before Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity and before the ideas behind black holes and wormholes existed.

Traveling in time to alter our destinies has been a pop culture fascination for a long time. Many superheroes have experienced time travel in different ways. Superman could go back in time by flying around the world quickly enough to reverse Earth’s rotation. Similarly, The Flash could travel fast enough to go back in time. Even the mutant, Wolverine, traveled back in time in X-Men: Days of Future Past to change the fate the world.

The plot lines involved in time travel and jumping through alternate realities are not easy to follow and are even more difficult to write. This lesson takes a look back in time at how some science-fiction stories have rules and a structure to the way time and alternate universes function within their fictional world and how you can create your own narrative structure to write your own tight story involving parallel universes and time travel.

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10 Steps to Make Summer School Not Suck

Summer is here, but you still find yourself in school. Maybe you didn’t pass a class that is required for graduation. Or maybe you want to take a class because your schedule during the school year is full. Whatever the reason is for taking a summer school class, sitting in a classroom for two hours every day for a few weeks isn’t your idea of fun. However, it doesn’t have to be so bad. Here are ten steps to make summer school not suck.

1. Have a friend sign up

Having a friend sign up makes summer school more bearable. Your friend is going to be by your side and make things easier. You can also do homework and study for tests together.

2. Ask for breaks

During the normal school day, your classes don’t last much longer than 70-80 minutes. However, summer school classes tend to be longer — most last about two hours. If you’re having trouble sitting for that long, ask the teacher for at least one break. This gives you time to get up and move around, since it’s not good to be sitting down for so long.

3. Ask if the class can go outside

Summer is usually more laid back than during the school year so ask if the teacher will take you outside. What better way to learn Shakespeare or science or whatever the subject than outside under a tree.

4. Engage yourself in the learning

Doing homework and studying for tests is hard enough during the regular school year. Think about how hard it is during the summer. You spend two hours in class, but then have homework to do, a research paper to write, or a test to study for. Do the homework and study every night so you don’t get behind.

5. Be respectful to the teacher

Your summer school teacher may be someone you don’t know, who doesn’t want to be there any more than you do. After all, summer is a time for him or her to be away from school as well. But teachers sometimes work part-time jobs in the summer to help pay bills or to earn extra money. Respecting and getting along with the teacher goes a long way and makes class more fun.

6. Get your sleep

While summer is the time for you to stay up late watching movies or hanging out with friends, you still need your sleep. You can’t sleep in class, or you won’t do well. Going to bed at a decent time will help lead to your success.

7. Take care of yourself

If you got up late and hurried to class or didn’t feel like eating breakfast, ask if bringing a snack or, at least, a bottle of water is allowed. Eating and drinking helps us stay awake when we’re bored. If you get dehydrated, you get sleepy and have trouble paying attention in class.

8. Be on time

During the school year, you are expected to be on time. If you’re late, you get a tardy and too many tardies add up to you not earning your credit for summer school. You certainly don’t want to lose the credit if you have almost made it to the end of summer school.

9. Stay positive

No matter how bad summer school really is, remember to stay positive. Doing some of things suggested above will help with that. Ask your teacher and see what he will allow you to do.

10. Remember why you are there

No matter the reason as to why you are there in summer school, the important things to remember are to do well, respect the teacher and his rules, and earn your credit. You don’t want to waste your summer.

The Hubris of Hip Hop

In this lesson, students will gain an understanding of hubris by examining its prevalence in hip hop culture. Students will pick a hip hop star and analyze her/his work, style, and public displays of grandiose behavior as a means to understand the term. In a 3-4 page essay, they will then compare their artist’s acts of hubris to a those of a literary character.

Note to teachers: Hubris is originally seen in Greek mythology when a mortal thinks he is better than the gods. This lesson would be particularly applicable when your class is doing a unit on mythology or reading The Odyssey, Mythology, or any books from the Oedipus Trilogy. This does not mean, however, that hubris is limited to mythology. This lesson plan would also be useful in understanding Shakespearean works as he regularly includes hubristic characters in his plays. This theme can also be used to analyze any text in which a character’s extreme pride and arrogance ultimately leads to her/his downfall.

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Teen Usage: Instagram vs. Facebook

Is Instagram the most popular social media app among 12-17 year-old teens? Or is Facebook still on top? Statistics vary on how many teens use each platform. CBS News stated 76% of teens use the app compared to 45% on Facebook. A Pew Research report said only 52% of teens use Instagram versus the 71% who use Facebook.

The Pew Research shows wealthier teens, or those whose parents make over $75,000, use Instagram 23% more than those teens under $30,000 at 7%. Facebook is the preferred social media among the lower income teens at 49% versus 37% for upper income teens. Girls are on Instagram more than boys, 61% versus 44%.

Instagram is more popular than Facebook among wealthy teens

Instagram began as strictly a photo sharing app, but its popularity with teens has made the app more of a social network. Teens use hashtags along with their photos and videos to gain more followers. Because of Instagram, data usage has tripled among teens. As the app has become more popular, Instagram has begun to spread to younger children. One of Instagram’s rules is that a person must be thirteen to have a profile. However, children younger than thirteen are still creating profiles, showing that younger children are becoming drawn into the social media platform.

Hashtags help with SEO, or search engine optimization. Because many teens think it’s best to have more followers than those they are following, they seek to find new followers by showing off their photos to more people. The use of hashtags makes photos and videos available for everyone to see. The more hashtags posted alongside the photos and videos, the more likely it is that new people will see those photos. Having more followers seems to appeal to teens because it makes them look more popular among their peers.
So is Instagram or Facebook more popular among the 12-17-year old teens? Do teens really use hashtags to gain followers?  How do teens know which is the most popular social media among their age group? They can conduct their own survey and draw their own conclusions.

The Art of Storytelling

The objective of this lesson plan is to engage students in the art of storytelling and improve their public speaking skills.

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The Science of The Force

The Force
What is The Force in the Star Wars universe? Could we as humans, here on planet earth, ever dream of having such power at our fingertips? To answer that we need to look at what The Force is, and how the rules that define it compare to what is known about the world we live in.

“Well, the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” Obi-Wan Kenobi

In Star Wars, The Force is an energy field that connects all living things in the galaxy. The power of The Force can be used by individuals who are sensitive to it, a power that is tapped through the midi-chlorians.

Midi-chlorians are microscopic, intelligent lifeforms that live within the cells of all living beings in the Star Wars Universe. The Force spoke through the midi-chlorians, allowing certain beings to use the Force if they were sensitive enough to its powers.

The two main practitioners of The Force are the Jedi and the Sith. Usage of the Force grants a number of useful powers, such as the ability to sense impending attacks; to push and lift physical objects; influence the thoughts of others, known as the “Jedi mind trick”; and even see the future or maintain one’s consciousness after death. Dark side users strong with the Force could summon lightning from their fingertips. Jedi taught younglings that the Force could be used for many purposes, including protection, persuasion, wisdom, the manipulation of matter and the performance of great physical feats.
Earth Forces
So, that being said, how does this compare with the laws of physics in our world? The closest thing we have to an energy field that is all around us, is the electromagnetic force.  It is one of the four known fundamental forces and is a type of physical interaction that occurs between electrically charged particles.

The electromagnetic force is the one responsible for practically all the phenomena one encounters in daily life above the nuclear scale, with the exception of gravity. Roughly speaking, all the forces involved in interactions between atoms can be explained by the electromagnetic force acting on the electrically charged atomic nuclei and electrons inside and around the atoms, together with how these particles carry momentum by their movement.

If elevated levels of electromagnetism were directed at certain areas of the brain, this can affect people mentally.  If you direct magnetic fields at different parts of the brain you get all sorts of responses.  They can be used to pacify a subject, make someone hallucinate, can even be used to alter someone’s sense of morality.

Eventually we’ll be able to photograph a dream…it is well within the lines of physics, to photograph a dream.

Science Fiction? Or just Science?
According to physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku, aspects of the force are being developed today.  We can now begin to decipher the outlines of thinking via the electroencephalogram (EEG) and the MRI, which gives us living pictures of thoughts ricocheting like a ping pong ball inside the brain.  We now have computers that can read these thoughts.  In Japan, we even have a device that allows you to see what you are seeing on a small scale – like seeing a memory on a computer screen.  Eventually we’ll be able to photograph a dream, for example.  According to Dr Kaku, it is well within the lines of physics, to photograph a dream.

We can’t exactly use electromagnetism to move people’s bodies at our will, but we know certain parts of the brain are connected to certain parts of the body, and we’ll be able to energize them, perhaps, with electromagnetic radiation.  So we’ll be able to actually manipulate arms and legs of a person, simply by using electromagnetic radiation beamed into the brain.  This technology is very primitive at the present time, but we’re getting there very fast.

If electromagnetic forces are the key to unlocking our own Force like abilities within the rules of physics on earth, then we need something to be able to direct or utilize that force whenever we desire.  There is already an example in nature of a creature that is able to process or read electromagnetism all around it – sharks and other cartilaginous fish.

Sharks have the Ampullae of Lorenzini, electroreceptors that form a network of jelly-filled pores in their nose. This organ allows them to detect the electromagnetic fields of the objects around them.  They can sense great disturbances, like a ship with a large magnetic field, or small ones like a fish they’d like to eat that’s nearby.  Perhaps if we had some biological enhancement, like the Ampullae of Lorenizini, or if midi-chlorians somehow became a real thing, we’d be able to read and understand, maybe even use the electromagnetic forces around us.

What is known about our physical world is fascinating, and the forces that are all around are fantastical in their own right. With understanding, and when taken to the next level through technology and research, our world could be closer to the science fictional world of Star Wars.

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We Need to Discuss Designer Babies: Is this the next step in human evolution?

 

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Designed by Science

Given the opportunity, would you choose the qualities of your unborn baby? Their gender? What if you knew your family had a history of a certain illness or cancer, what if you could choose a child that did not carry traits for that illness, and you could basically guarantee they would lead a long healthy life? That doesn’t sound too bad. However, what if that choice were given to only affluent or privileged families, leading to genetically perfect people who have another advantage over the poor or those without access to this technology? Lets dive into the possible future of genetic selectivity and perfection. It’s happening already.

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In Vitro Fertilization

In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, helps women with fertility problems conceive a child. It mainly consists of an egg from a female and sperm from a male fertilizing outside of a human body in a lab setting. Once fertilization takes place, the embryo is then implanted back into the female’s uterus in order to grow into a baby.

IVF is a complex and expensive procedure; only about 5% of couples with infertility seek it out. However, since its introduction in the U.S. in 1981, IVF and other similar techniques have resulted in more than 200,000 babies.


The Modern Rich and Famous Pregnancy

John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen underwent In Vitro Fertilization to be able to have a child. Controversially, Teigen and Legend took this technology a step further and were able to determine the gender of the embryo, among other choices, and to select a female for their future child.

Preimplantation Genetic Screening made this possible. It is a process by which one or more cells from an in vitro fertilization embryo are removed, and tested for chromosomal normalcy, and a genetic diagnosis includes testing for a specific genetic condition.

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How A She Becomes a He

It has been known for many years that the gender of a pregnancy is determined by the sex chromosome carried by the sperm. Sperm bearing an “X” chromosome, when united with the “X” from the female (females only produce “X”) will result in an “XX” pregnancy that produces a female. If a sperm bearing a “Y” chromosome (men have both “X” and “Y” bearing sperm) unites with the “X” chromosome from the female, an “XY” pregnancy will result that gives rise to a male offspring. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 46.


Sticker Shock

It may seem completely fine, or even exciting to think of the options available to us in a controlled environment where choices aren’t left up to fate. Especially when illnesses and genetic diseases can put financial strain and heartache on someone’s life from the start. However, those choices are not an option for those who do not have the funds for the very costly IVF. The average cost of IVF is anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000, not including medication, and that only provides one round. Typical successful cases require three rounds. Plenty of women undergoing IVF are simply hoping for a healthy pregnancy, not to determine the characteristics of their unborn child. For those who wish to choose a gender or diagnose other features, the costs are even more staggering. Therefore, this kind of genetic selection is something that many families cannot afford.


Dare to Dream

Taking this technology to a mainstream level, what if more and more people will be able to afford this procedure, say in 20, 30 years. What would a world be like where many of those who live among us are considered genetically “perfect”?

There is a film that has already explored this plausible world, Gattaca. This film was made in 1997, and it features exactly this scenario. The haves and the have nots are split between those who are genetically perfect, compared to regularly conceived humans. Perfect humans are given privileges, get better jobs, lead better lives. You can imagine the moral implications of a world like that. We may get to experience it first hand in a few decades.


Public Health Benefits

There are benefits of this future though. The less people who have genetic disorders, the less medical costs those people would incur. There may be whole economic shifts because of a large population of effortlessly healthy people. Public Health issues are also important to consider. Where is the line between the highly personal nature of individual genetic data, and the wide ranging benefits of that data as it pertains to public health?

While some people argue that the uniquely personal nature of genetic information requires an individual rights approach that limits public health use, others view genetic data as just another type of population data that can be collected, aggregated, and used along with other surveillance and environmental data to produce social utility. Still others focus on the significant power of genetic advancements to improve individual lives and, from a distributive justice perspective, emphasize public health’s responsibility to not only ensure access to genetic information throughout the population but more importantly to provide genetic services for the disadvantaged. Public health must address these and other competing ethical claims when developing public health genetics policies.

So where do you stand? Is this the future of human evolution or are we at the brink of greater divide between the have and the have nots?

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Learning from The Greatest: Muhammad Ali and Athlete Activism

 

We Remember His Words More Than His Punches

In many of the obituaries written after Muhammad Ali’s death on June 3, very little was said about his most famous boxing matches. Dozens of magazines, newspapers, and Websites that usually feature very little sports content nonetheless published tributes to Ali. That’s because Ali was much more than a boxer, much more than just an athlete.

After rising to prominence as an 18-year-old Olympic gold medalist, Ali fought in some of the most important boxing matches in history, including “The Thrilla in Manila” against Joe Frazier and “The Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman. Ali won 56 professional matches and captured the heavyweight championship three times, during a time period when boxing was still one of the most popular American sports.

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But his actions outside the ring allowed Ali to transcend sports. Ali stood up for African-American rights during the turbulent 1960s. He changed his given name from Cassius Clay, calling it a “slave name.” He also befriended Malcolm X and made frequent statements about black equality.

 

A Boxer Who Refuses To Fight?

Ali’s most important political stand, though, was his refusal to fight in the controversial Vietnam War. As a converted Muslim, Ali claimed that his religion forbade him from fighting in the war. However, the United States government found him guilty of evading his military duty and sentenced him to time in prison. As a result, Ali was stripped of his boxing titles and was unable to fight for the next three years. Because of his willingness to stand up for his beliefs, Ali likely lost several of the most successful years of his career.

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Later on in his life, after the Supreme Court had voted unanimously that Ali had been wrongfully convicted, Ali continued to stand up for his political beliefs. He also became an inspiration to millions of people. After Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984, he continued to appear publicly and perform missionary work. Even at the end of his life, when he could barely speak, he showed courage in the face of his debilitating illness.

 

Courting Controversy

However, that’s not to say that Ali steered clear of controversy. On the contrary, he welcomed turmoil and conflict many times in his life. For instance, many people criticized his unwillingness to fight in Vietnam, calling him a “draft dodger.” Ali responded by saying, “I’m not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger.” Critics also disagreed with Ali’s cockiness and tendency to insult opponents. Some civil rights activists accused Ali of preventing racial progress, pointing out that Ali often made segregationist comments.

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Even those who disagreed with Ali would have to admit that the man who many called “The Greatest” changed the way Americans viewed sports. Athletes were no longer expected to keep quiet in the face of political issues.

 

Can Anyone Compare to Him?

Since Ali, no American athlete has had a bigger impact outside of sports. But many have followed his lead in small ways. Recently, Aaron Rodgers condemned religious intolerance, and LeBron James and many other NBA players have spoken out against police brutality.

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But it’s probably safe to say that no athlete will ever have a bigger impact on society than Ali did. Even if we could combine the best traits of multiple athletes, the result still might not reach Ali’s stature. But it’s still interesting to imagine doing just that. What would the ideal modern athlete activist look like?