Archive for the 'old OBR' Category

23
May
09

WARRIORS, COME OUT TO PLAY

Originally created 5/15/2007

It has become increasing clear that the sports world is in reality, and despite the fawning platitudes of sports writers or misty eyes of longtime fans, just entertainment, no different from movie stars or rock gods of rock.  And when sports figures do stupid things, especially recorded for posterity on video or digital pictures or voicemail, it seems always a surprise.  Perhaps the public is putting their entertainers too high on a pedestal, especially given that these people would in an age less dedicated to leisure time be either jestering the court for scraps (and likely executed if they failed to please) or swinging an axe on the battlefield or a pick in the mines.

So when the horribly out of context pictures of Brady Quinn surfaced, it is not all that surprising that it happened (and just because it was Brady Quinn in question); although one cannot sure what context those would make sense other than: “Getting ourselves worked up for the gay sex at the country club.”   This is not to mention Tom Brady spreading his seed like he was coming to America; the much publicized exploits of Stephen Jackson and Pacman Jones; and Craig Bellamy’s golf club incident.  So what is the reality of entertainers?  They are not only like everyone else, they are like everyone else if everyone else was given a backhoe full of cash, a myriad of sexual partners and all of the narcotics known to mankind.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely—absolute fame and wealth turns many a player, whether court, screen or stage, into a conduit of the basest animalistic impulse.  But give anyone that kind of hock, especially if they’re under thirty, and there is a statistically significant chance that they’re going to wind up knee deep in a cocaine drift surrounded by underage vagina.

That being said, I have always been a sports fan and am particularly fascinated by how certain series and teams can become so compelling (despite the fact the sports are still more or less unproductive entertainment).  The recent run of the Golden State Warriors is indicative, although it appears, at least, to be ending in the land of the many wives.  The Warriors don’t have any big name stars and even the Goliath Dallas Maverick players don’t have tremendous name recognition other than maybe Dirk Nowitzski.  The intoxication of this series, as most such series, is the combination of the Warriors’ balls to the wall style of play, combined with the underdog story, the enmity between Don Nelson and Mark Cuban and finally, the electric atmosphere of the Oakland fans, reminiscent of college games rather than the artificially orchestrated fandom of most NBA arenas.  Sports seems to be cultivating itself in the Season of the Dog, whether because of the advent of salary caps or the dilution of leagues through expansion or just plain expansion of the talent pool.  The underdog rags to riches trend seemed to have begun with the St. Louis Rams, arguably the worst football team of the 1990s, promptly winning the Super Bowl in 2000.  Then there was the New England Patriots upsetting the Rams not two years later.  The Boston Red Sox somehow defeated the New York Yankees down 3-0 in a series where they were destroyed in game three.  The Chicago White Sox won the first series since their players threw the championship back before people knew what plastic was.  Peyton Manning exercised his demons by not only beating the Patriots but winning the Super Bowl.  George Mason went to a Final Four.  Even the left for dead Edmonton Oilers made the Stanley Cup.

The Warriors series did show how a city deprived of the playoffs for more than a decade can decidedly go beserk upon achieving that goal (especially with the Raiders in full rebuilding mode and perpetrating one of the more awful seasons ever in 2006).  However, even more nauseating than their inability to put games away on the Utah Jazz, was this email recorded on Bill Simmons website from a disgruntled Warriors fan about the disappointing Game 4: “I have been a Warriors fan since age 3 and attended every home playoff game this year at different locations — Warrior fans in the first round were worthy of the praise bestowed upon them by the media (you included). Last night, I was disgusted to be at the Oracle. The Dallas series was packed with REAL fans, a raucous arena full of people who had really been waiting 15 years. Once we upset the Mavericks though, we became obscenely trendy. Now, rich suburban families who couldn’t name half our roster decided it would be fun to take the family to a game, and prices went up to $250 a seat for the lower bowl. Goodbye real fans, hello normal NBA crowd. The arena was subpar in the Game 3 win, but was absolutely SILENT in Game 4. I got in fights with fans around me after screaming at them to make noise. It’s a sad day for Bay Area basketball. The fans get credit for the wins, we deserve the blame for this loss.”

This discussion about “real fans” vs “rich surbanbanites” leaves a bit to be desired.  The sentiment is nothing new: the real fans getting priced out of the arena to those who view sports games as merely a social event.  However, sports are merely such an event.  It’s more that some people treat the event as a passing fancy to socialize around while others socialize by vicariously living through the event.  However, it seems natural that whoever puts that kind of money on the line gets to decide how they act.  Certain other us undoubtedly have the right to lament the loss of “real” fans, and possibly lay some of the team’s loss at the doorstep of the yuppies (he was right, even on TV, the crowd was noticeably more subdued)—but they coughed up the chunk of change for it.

Tangential case in point: during the St. Louis Cardinals improbable run to the World Series in 2006, nobody was getting into Game 5 against the Tigers unless they knew someone or were willing to throw down around $1000 for a ticket.  I myself didn’t have the funds to do so, but I went to Hrabosky’s Bar (that’s right, it was named after a guy with the sobriquet “The Mad Hungarian”), which is maybe a half mile from the stadium.  They had tents set up outside with heaters and TVs.  I went there for free.  The crowd was packed in, drunk, my age group (mostly in their 20s) and raucous the entire time.  Arguably many of these people weren’t “true” fans who could name the full starting lineup.  But they were also the ones who got priced out of stadium.  Would the stadium have been more raucous it our demograph had supplied the fans?  Yes.  But they didn’t have the money.  We wound up storming the stadium anyway (they were letting people in) after the game and were able to participate in some small way in the win.

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Will Hutton’s recent article on the role of Mao Zedong in the rise of China begins with the assertion: “Nobody wants to be an apologist for Mao. Even the Communist party, five years after his death, delivered the verdict that his crimes during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution meant that he had been 30% wrong. Mao was undoubtedly responsible for monstrous crimes, but if today’s China ever completes the transition to a more plural economy and society it will be more obvious than ever that he was the man who partially laid the platform for today’s China. And from this may one day emerge a country with the liberties of the rest of Asia and the west.”  Obviously, we would never hear these things about Hitler and the rise of the German economy—he built the autobahn!—even though Mao slaughtered, either by intent or policy, 50 million people, more than Hitler could have hoped for in wildest martial dreams (note that the book referred to in the link is specifically mentioned by Hutton).  But possibly the most grating comment is this:

“Few western critics today appreciate the scale of the task confronting any moderniser of China in 1949. Western economies created the surpluses to finance industrialisation through incredible exploitation – of their own working class, and in the US via slavery. It was never likely that China could achieve self-sustaining economic growth without great collective pain to achieve its own surpluses, or that this could be done without the involvement of the state. Spontaneous market-led industrialisation is a myth.”

Most of the inventions that transformed industry were privately invented and put to use by private capital, whereas the government, in the service of old guard merchants, occasionally tried to prevent such people to putting them to use (not the mention the Luddites).

Slavery the United States, far from providing a “surplus” was antithetically opposed to industrialization.  Large slave plantations were flatly uneconomical in a free-market—they necessitated the ultimate government cruelty of forced labor.  One might counter with the claim that the industrialized North was able to build its capital on the back of slave labor, but that notion is at odds with the economic conditions surrounding the States War.  The northern factory owners, in particular the textile industry, worked to enact tariffs preventing foreign goods from competing with their own.  This not only caused the agricultural South to in general pay higher prices for such goods but also restricted their own exporting opportunities, where the large cotton plantations in particular built their wealth by selling to England.  The Northern industrial interests generally sided with the politicians (like Abraham Lincoln) who favored a strong central government and a more centralized economy—where tariffs could be enacted to detriment of some men for the benefit of a wealthy class.  The difference in these interests led to the bloodiest war in American history.

Any argument about exploitation is bound to revolve around whether or not the rise in living conditions through the 19th century in industrialized nations was worth the supposed oppression of the work force.  Whether the work force was really “exploited”, particularly in the true sense of exploitation of either slavery or indentured servitude, is a matter of debate.  But to conclude that spontaneous market-led industrialization is a myth, is not only flat wrong, but potentially dangerous manner of thinking that would lead to the conclusion that the state is well justified in confiscating property, using force and restricting liberty and rights to sacrifice on the alter of industrial progress—just as Mao, in the extreme, or the myriad of African dictators, or Josef Stalin did.  There are examples of capital being generated in the absence of government impetus—and even in the face of it.  To claim that individuals with rights and property protected will not industrialize through voluntary exchange and saving is to effectively imply that these people are either too stupid or too lazy to enhance their own well-being or that of their children.

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The recent Fort Dix attack plot featured another bizarre “terror” plan in which several extremists would assault a heavily armed military base in order to kill “as many as 100 soldiers” with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s.  Unless they were unbelievably lucky, one has to guess that these clowns could have killed maybe 5 people, including themselves in such a suicidal offense.  One really can’t call it a “terrorist” plot, inasmuch as it didn’t seem to target civilians but the military and seemed to focus on annihilating the enemy combatants rather than inflict terror upon the populace in order to extract concessions.  Whatever the motivations, it is interesting to note that two of the central players in the conspiracy, Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka, could be associated with the Kosovo Liberation Army.  The KLA of course were the United States during the bombing of Serbia during Bill Clinton’s administration.  And the KLA just may be connected to Osama bin Laden.

This song is getting old.

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In what is quickly becoming the forgotten war, the US Army formally apologized for a number of soldiers slaughtering civilians after a suicide attack: “An Army commander apologized and paid compensation on Tuesday to families of Afghan civilians killed by marines after a suicide attack in March, marking the first formal acknowledgment by American authorities that the killings were unjustified.  Col. John Nicholson, an Army brigade commander in eastern Afghanistan, met on Tuesday with the families of the 19 Afghans killed and 50 wounded when a Marines special operations unit opened fire along a crowded stretch of road near Jalalabad after a suicide bomber in a vehicle rammed their convoy.  ‘I stand before you today, deeply, deeply ashamed and terribly sorry that Americans have killed and wounded innocent Afghan people,’ Colonel Nicholson said, recounting to reporters the words he used in the meetings. Speaking in a videoconference to reporters at the Pentagon, he added: ‘We made official apologies on the part of the U.S. government’ and paid $2,000 for each death.  The incident is already the subject of a criminal investigation by the Pentagon. But the decision to issue a public apology now reflects the military’s growing concern that a spate of recent civilian casualties have led to widespread ill will among Afghans and could jeopardize military operations.”   If nothing else, this sad event is evidence that no matter what precautions a military might take, it cannot change the fact that all wars are crimes.  (And this includes American actions in World War II).

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It is somewhat satisfying to know that such a different culture as India has its own version of the Kennedys in, of course, the Gandhis.  The world awaits for Rahul Gandhi to fist some nubile young girl in public and incur the wrath of the morality police, like Richard Gere.  I think the Indians had ample reason to get indignant about Gere slobbering all over the only hot woman on the subcontinent.  Either that or it was because Gere and hamster played their own version of the Fantastic Voyage.

23
May
09

THE LAST SANE MAN ON THE TRAIN

Originally created 6/3/2007

It has become increasing clear that my own days as a rantist are long behind me, and for good reason.  I was never all that good or entertaining, and one can look back on those literary products of halcyon college years as a mix of sleeplessness, melancholy, sports-obsession, and, in the later years, alcohol and dodgeball.  Whatever their merit, I note the inadequacies of the Rant because so many others do it better and more consistently.  Case in point: AJ Daulerio over at deadspin: funny, some insightful and regular.  Kind of like a good shit.

“It’s an odd phenomenon, this fascination that men, when they first get the splotches of gray hair and other attributes of grown-up maleness, suddenly find teenage girls more appealing. Obviously, the physical attractiveness — the seemingly pristine physical attractiveness, I should say — is a major factor, but it’s also this Wonder Years-y nostalgia for that time when those girls were actually available and not these seedy objects of desire:

“DANIEL STERN V.O.: It was a time of fantastic mystery, the great unknown. We were all captains aboard this ship called Puberty, navigating its uncharted waters. Most of the time, that water was girls. I remember the first time I pawed at Becky Slater’s fancy new bra like a deranged yeti, sporting an erection that could knock down low-flying aircraft, but those days are long gone…

“You get the idea.

“On to the issue at hand: One Miss Allison Stokke, whose pole vault-body has become furious debate fodder for those for and against posting pictures of young girls showing off their athletic prowess. The ‘For’ say she’s relevant because of said prowess (and her looks) and ‘Against’ say ‘let the young, tan girl thrust herself in the air with a giant stick in a revealing outfit but DO NOT acknowledge her muscular thighs and thickset brick twister.’ (Or something to that effect.) God, it sucks to be pretty and athletic. It’s almost like having AIDS.”

The realization that there are those out there like Daulerio, in my mind, should not stop me from continuing these rants, although without quite the same juvenile vehemence that those of earlier days undertook.

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And thus there is the topic of Republican candidate for president and Congressman from Texas, Dr. Ron Paul.  I myself have no love for the republicans who have more or less completely backtracked on their promises from the 1990s, now amounting to so much rhetoric.  The government has never been bigger nor the military more bogged down in foreign entanglements.  Paul is in stark contrast to the neoconservative wing that has taken over much of the party with the battle cry, “9/11 changed everything”.  He was a former libertarian candidate for president in 1988 but returned to the Republican party.  He voted against the authorization of the use of force against Iraq.  He voted against the PATRIOT Act.  As came up in the debates, some in the party feel that he is not “one of them” and is trying to hijack the party.  He claims he is trying to bring it back to its roots, exemplified in Robert Taft and (perhaps again, only rhetorically) Ronald Reagan.    But perhaps an unusual moment, both in the context of the election itself and as a microcosm of the country in general, came in the second Republican debate when Dr. Paul had the temerity to point out that many of the United States’ actions in Arabia were partly responsible for the decision of jihadists to attack the United States–although that does not excuse those actions in the least.  Former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani spoke out of turn and dismissed such notions as ludicrous, demanding that Dr. Paul. Dr. Paul refused.

Paul’s parts in the second Republican debate.  Paul states his position on foreign policy at about 5:10 and Guiliani responds at about 6:10

Libertarian blogs, like LewRockwell.com, praised the moment as someone finally standing up for the truth on a national stage, characterizing Guiliani’s response as misinformed and malicious.  However most of the mainstream press took the Guiliani angle, noting that Paul seemed to suggest the United States “invited” the attacks (which is not correct; one of the moderators asked that in a question but Paul responded with the idea that the United States’ foreign policy helps provoke such attacks, and to ignore this “blowback” is to do so at one’s own risk).  In Time magazine, commentator Joe Klein took it as a win for the former Mayor, painting Paul to be somewhat of a kooky buffoon:

“And then there’s the libertarian Congressman Ron Paul who seems like your uncle the bartender who has a Big Theory about everything: some of his ideas are brilliant, others weird. He rates a mention because his singular moment of weirdness–proposing that al-Qaeda attacked on Sept. 11 because the U.S. had been messing around in the Middle East, bombing Iraq–offered Giuliani a historic slam dunk. ‘That’s an extraordinary statement,’ he jumped in when Paul finished, ‘… that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before, and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11.’  There was explosive applause from the audience. But Giuliani was having a good debate even before he reduced Paul to history.”

The 9/11 Commission’s own words on the subject:

Though novel for its open endorsement of indiscriminate killing, Bin Ladin’s 1998 declaration was only the latest in the long series of his public and private calls since 1992 that singled out the United States for attack.

In August 1996, Bin Ladin had issued his own self-styled fatwa calling on Muslims to drive American soldiers out of Saudi Arabia. The long, disjointed document condemned the Saudi monarchy for allowing the presence of an army of infidels in a land with the sites most sacred to Islam [emphasis added], and celebrated recent suicide bombings of American military facilities in the Kingdom. It praised the 1983 suicide bombing in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. Marines, the 1992 bombing in Aden, and especially the 1993 firefight in Somalia after which the United States “left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you.”3

Bin Ladin said in his ABC interview that he and his followers had been preparing in Somalia for another long struggle, like that against the Soviets in Afghanistan, but “the United States rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace.” Citing the Soviet army’s withdrawal from Afghanistan as proof that a ragged army of dedicated Muslims could overcome a superpower, he told the interviewer: “We are certain that we shall-with the grace of Allah-prevail over the Americans.” He went on to warn that “If the present injustice continues . . . , it will inevitably move the battle to American soil.”

Many Americans have wondered, “Why do ‘they’ hate us?” Some also ask, “What can we do to stop these attacks?”

Bin Ladin and al Qaeda have given answers to both these questions. To the first, they say that America had attacked Islam; America is responsible for all conflicts involving Muslims. Thus Americans are blamed when Israelis fight with Palestinians, when Russians fight with Chechens, when Indians fight with Kashmiri Muslims, and when the Philippine government fights ethnic Muslims in its southern islands. America is also held responsible for the governments of Muslim countries, derided by al Qaeda as “your agents.” Bin Ladin has stated flatly, “Our fight against these governments is not separate from our fight against you.”14 These charges found a ready audience among millions of Arabs and Muslims angry at the United States because of issues ranging from Iraq to Palestine to America’s support for their countries’ repressive rulers. [emphasis added]

Bin Ladin’s grievance with the United States may have started in reaction to specific U.S. policies but it quickly became far deeper. [emphasis added] To the second question, what America could do, al Qaeda’s answer was that America should abandon the Middle East, convert to Islam, and end the immorality and godlessness of its society and culture: “It is saddening to tell you that you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind.” If the United States did not comply, it would be at war with the Islamic nation, a nation that al Qaeda’s leaders said “desires death more than you desire life.”

The commission is most certainly right that Bin Laden will not merely be swayed by an American withdrawal from the region, and would likewise claim it as a victory.  Obviously then, Bin Ladin himself, as well as his close followers, must be captured or destroyed, or at the very least neutralized outside American borders–something that is not being helped by the American incursion into Iraq.  However it is important to note the very real and probable possibility that bin Ladin was encouraged to become a violent radical by U.S. policies; his pathology became increasingly worse, not in reaction to continued policy, but to the United States in general.  Moreover, in the emphasized portion one can note that the 9/11 Commission noted that bin Ladin’s message, as virulent and deranged as it had become, found an audience because of U.S. policies concerning “Iraq to Palestine to America’s support for their countries’ repressive rulers”.  And yet Paul’s suggestion of this kind of idea during the debate was met by Guiliani’s bizarre assertion that he had never heard it previous to that occasion.

I have little hope that Paul will even be elected as the Republican candidate, and even less that he would be elected president (I myself don’t agree with him in terms of immigration).  But how can every other candidate, both Democrat and Republican, seem to ignore this reasoning or have the courage to at least suggest it in public, even though they could quote directly from the government’s own commission report?

Then there are other candidates who somehow believe (as noted in the Fox News Interviews below) that the First Gulf War did nothing but foster support in the Muslim world (Duncan Hunter says that in the clip below at about 1:45 mark), when bin Ladin himself has said otherwise.  Moreover, one could look at the United States’ interaction with bin Ladin’s own mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.  Should that not have do nothing but cultivate good will?  It is true that the United States did help save Kuwait from Saddam Hussein but few care to remember that the U.S. also supported Hussein in attacking another Muslim country, Iran, in a much longer (9 years) and bloodier war with an estimated 500,000 Iranian casualties and 375,000 Iraqi casualties.  It also included the use of chemical weapons against Iran.

So what does the United States get in a second tier candidate who has the rocks to stand up for the truth?  The U.S. gets to see the last sane man on the train get thrown off by the supposed conductors.  Not to detract anything from Dr. Paul himself, but one can only wonder if he had the charisma and debating skills of Bill Clinton.

Ron Paul is apparently Bill Maher’s new hero

Ron Paul at the first Republican debate

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Dr. Paul on The Daily Show

Donald Rumsfeld meeting Saddam Hussein on 19 December20 December 1983. Rumsfeld visited again on 24 March 1984; the same day the UN released a report that Iraq had used mustard gas and tabun nerve agent against Iranian troops. The NY Times reported from Baghdad on 29 March 1984, that “American diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with Iraq and the U.S., and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been established in all but name.”

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Standing in line at the supermarket, People Magazine tells us that Jennifer Anniston has signed on to write a tell-all about her relationship with Missouri’s own Brad Pitt.  This includes, apparently, how Pitt told her of his affair with Angelina Jolie.  The best vote is for Pitt showing her a video of him reaming a shrieking Jolie as he goes “Now watch here as I go balls deep.”

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The Bush Administration cannot properly fight wars, cannot protect the Bill of Rights and apparently is a shark for large meatpacking companies.  “The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease [mad cow], which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. A beef producer in the western state of Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.   Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.  The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.”  A problem of who is in charge of the department?  Or a problem of why the department has the power to regulate the test in the first place?

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New three-D movies sound absolutely terrifying.

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The new Congress is struggling to hammer out a trade policy, a sort of contradiction in terms that mainly denotes policy that will “protect jobs” (while sacrificing possible new jobs associated with the greater trade) while obtaining some benefits for exporters.  The government attempting to regulate trade is problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it becomes a powerful tool for special interests, whether they be companies, unions or anti-globalization adherents.  Whether it is free trade or technology or innovation (as the mad cow example above demonstrates), certain parties will be injured in the trade.  But the only way to prevent this so-called “injury” is to prevent the voluntary transactions which supposedly bring it about; i.e., there is no aggression against the “injured” party, only a decision to no longer transact business with them.

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Possibly the most unsettling proposition about the Iraq War is the alternate universe case: assume that the Iraq War had progressed much better for the United States.  Iraq becomes a functioning, if still dangerous place (no more dangerous than say, Israel).  It is largely peaceful, functioning society with some remnants of strife.  In this alternate universe case, however, the reasons, the means and lack Weapons of Mass Destruction are all still present.  In this alternate universe, were these lies and half-truths told before the war still reprehensible?  Would any politicians be criticizing the war (either Democrat or Republican)?  Is the fraud presented to the American public still fraud if the outcome of the fraudulent actions is drastically different?  As the Ron Paul-Rudy Guiliani standoff made clear, even in the present course of events of an Iraq devolved into civil war, many politicians are still reluctant (or outright refuse) to acknowledge the false pretenses for the war.  This is not to mention the motives of those that orchestrated and conducted the 9/11 attacks.  These events bear witness that the truth as it operates in the world, even if it is represented in something like the Rumsfield-Saddam film, is sadly a matter of perception.

23
May
09

Texas Style Justice And Toast

Originally created 6/15/2007

Whatever one’s political stripe, it is always unfortunate to see a parody of law enforcement carried out in the form of the Paris Hilton sentencing.  Stupidly enough, not only is this particular story not even a true trial, the crime is fairly common and the importance to an everyday individual is minimal, probably even on an entertainment level.  Hilton’s fame has always been somewhat of a mystery.  She is a socialite in the truest sense, living off nothing more than modest good looks (complete with droopy left eyelid – although I suppose she’s a model and someone finds her extraordinarily attractive), a famous last name and an ability to have sex with anything that moves and getting those coital acts on film.   She did not, according to Wikipedia, graduate from high school (instead earning a GED) and thus did not go to college (and thereby earning a prime role on Girls Gone Wild: I Like Having Sex with Paris Volumes 1-6).  So Hilton, as far as one can tell, is a pretty, not to intelligent girl who also has no acting skills, fewer singing skills, and little business sense.  More recently, she seemed to wile her way out of jail time for repeated driving offenses, namely:

“In September 2006, Hilton was arrested and charged with driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of 0.08%, the minimum at which it is illegal to drive in California. Hilton’s drivers license was subsequently suspended in November 2006, and in January 2007 she pled no contest to the alcohol-related reckless driving charge.[35] Her punishment was 36 months’ probation and fines of about $1,500.  On January 15, 2007, Hilton was pulled over for driving with a suspended license and signed a document acknowledging that she was not permitted to drive. On February 27, 2007 Hilton was caught driving 70 MPH in a 35 MPH zone, again with a suspended license. She also did not have her headlights on even though it was after dark. Prosecutors in the office of the Los Angeles City Attorney charged that those actions, along with the failure to enroll in a court-ordered alcohol education program constituted a violation of the terms of her probation.”

Rather than rehash all the drama that ensued, one can only wonder what exactly this girl, albeit with the intelligence of a distracted squirrel, was thinking when she decided to keep driving on a suspended license.  It seems unlikely that she consciously believed herself to be immune from prosecution or consequence.  Instead, as Lindsay Lohan is quickly proving, any young person given insane amounts of money, beauty and privilege will wind up screwing the pooch; and it is going to fall into the glaring media lights if they also famous.  By way of a point, historians have pointed out in books concerning World War II that the Allies only had pilots in their late teens and early twenties fly P-51 dive bombers – the main reason being that such pilots necessarily had to take insane risks on the low level straffing runs.  That age group was ideal because they just did not think about the consequences.  Thus, it is not so much that the young believe their own invincibility, but the idea of troubling fallout from their actions simply escapes their minds.

Returning to Hilton’s stature receiving benefits over and above the normal citizen, the free market economics’ greatest challenge has always been the efficient allocation of law and order.  In the present case, wealthy defendants are able to afford better lawyers and often get lesser sentences than they otherwise would have.  Some have suggested an elimination of criminal law entirely–i.e., with no crimes against “society” but only one individual (or group of individuals) against another individual (or group of individuals).  I still do not believe this fully addresses the problem of uneven enforcement of property rights.  And if such enforcement is uneven or inconsistent, the full benefits of the free market will no be realized.

Is a government necessary then to enforce law, whether criminal or civil?  I would remain in the pro-government camp with the reservation that the power of government is so easily abused.  The anarcho-capitalists appear to believe that man is self-harmonizing if left to his own devices.  I do not for a number of reasons: government presents an illusion of certainty with regard to the law (and that should be its only purview; as the illusion can have catastrophic consequences when applied to disaster relief and breaks down – as in regard to Katrina).  The concept that law is not as government makes it but is pre-existing suffers from the fact that it is far from certain among economic agents.  Since the law is not known, government can reflect the illusion, beneficial or not, that it is.  Humans experience with government derives from the family – if one is too remove the government entirely, one must break down the family (a wholly involuntary enterprise from the child’s standpoint).  There is also the so-called “cowpox” theory: better to have some say in a tyrannical government than risk being taken over by a true tyrant.  There is also the specialization problem, a corollary of the cowpox theory.  As an economy becomes more diverse, individuals begin to specialize into narrower fields.  Thus, most individuals would specialize away from personal and group defense skills while a relatively very few would become proficient in police and armed force tactics.  Thus, this very few, though perhaps beginning as private forces, could easily become tyrants fairly easily by exploiting the mass of defensively unskilled individuals prime weakness to create a tyranical government.  Thus it would be better for the mass of individuals to rely on the democratic vote to maintain their say rather than their own personal force.

The Hilton saga is a prime example of the illusion being broken – the law is not applied equally through all economic agents.  The wealthier receive preferential treatment.  The question remains: putting aside the cowpox theory and the family issue, is it beneficial to promulgate this illusion?  Some might say that the free market courts and defense companies could also fail and thus fall prey to the same problem.  However, that is not the case for the simple reason that any free market company should be recognized as susceptible to failure – thus there is no illusion of certainty.  Though the government must be maintained in some sense, however perhaps with the reduction of most crime to violation of property rights in the civil sphere.  Let the Paris Hiltons of the world get plowed under by private individuals (in this case, road owners in the road was privatized) just like she is with other private companies.

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The Death of Western Civilization: Iraq’s throes of civil war has destroyed its rich history as well as its people:

“Hussaini confirmed a report two years ago by John Curtis, of the British Museum, on America’s conversion of Nebuchadnezzar’s great city of Babylon into the hanging gardens of Halliburton. This meant a 150-hectare camp for 2,000 troops. In the process the 2,500-year-old brick pavement to the Ishtar Gate was smashed by tanks and the gate itself damaged. The archaeology-rich subsoil was bulldozed to fill sandbags, and large areas covered in compacted gravel for helipads and car parks. Babylon is being rendered archaeologically barren.  Meanwhile the courtyard of the 10th-century caravanserai of Khan al-Raba was used by the Americans for exploding captured insurgent weapons. One blast demolished the ancient roofs and felled many of the walls. The place is now a ruin.Outside the capital some 10,000 sites of incomparable importance to the history of western civilisation, barely 20% yet excavated, are being looted as systematically as was the museum in 2003. When George tried to remove vulnerable carvings from the ancient city of Umma to Baghdad, he found gangs of looters already in place with bulldozers, dump trucks and AK47s.”

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The tyranny of good intentions.  Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, tells German newspaper Der Spiegel that aid to Africa does more harm than good.

“Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa’s problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn’t even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

“When there’s a drought in a region of Kenya, our corrupt politicians reflexively cry out for more help. This call then reaches the United Nations World Food Program — which is a massive agency of apparatchiks who are in the absurd situation of, on the one hand, being dedicated to the fight against hunger while, on the other hand, being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated. It’s only natural that they willingly accept the plea for more help. And it’s not uncommon that they demand a little more money than the respective African government originally requested. They then forward that request to their headquarters, and before long, several thousands tons of corn are shipped to Africa …and at some point, this corn ends up in the harbor of Mombasa. A portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unsrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN’s World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It’s a simple but fatal cycle.”

Government aid may well be a system that has no fix.

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Ground control to Major Tom: Global Warble has hit Mars.  Apparently the Red Planet needs to wipe the sweat from melting polar caps from its brow:

“Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period.  Since there is no known life on Mars it suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena.  The mechanism at work on Mars appears, however, to be different from that on Earth. One of the researchers, Lori Fenton, believes variations in radiation and temperature across the surface of the Red Planet are generating strong winds.”

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Note to self: don’t ever try to compliment English women I don’t know.  And not just because of their awful teeth.  However, with some of them (NSFW), I’m just going to start motorboating and damn the consequences.  Man the lifeboats, we’re going overboard!

“She is blonde, with the warmest brown eyes. Smiling my politest smile, I venture to approach her. “May I say, that you have the most beautiful eyes?”  Those warm eyes harden to cold flint in an instant. ‘Not good,’ she grimaces. ‘Talking to random women like that. Really. NOT. Good.’  This is very encouraging. This is progress. The beautiful woman hasn’t called the police yet, she can’t conceal her strong feelings about me, and she’s talking. The last blonde I complimented just waved me away in silent disgust and took her onward road, quickly.”

23
May
09

Into the Doldrums

Originally created 7/1/2007

As June turns to July and summer wades into the blistering heat around these St. Louis environs, three things are constant: the Cardinals are almost always on television/radio and each game still only accounts for  0.62% of the final record; there isn’t anything else on the idiot box except for characteristically horrendous test shows like Comedy Central’s abortive Lil’ Bush; football season yet again begins its siren song that turns damn near 80% into drooling morons (I prefer to drool out the side of my mouth to avoid chapped lips).  The Cardinals themselves are in a bizarre season, even more so than last year, with several of teams starters injured, a relief pitcher two months dead, and the very real possibility of disgraced pitcher Rick Ankiel returning seven years after his debut as a power-hitting outfielder.  Albeit with the phrase “the Cubs would be a much better position if their bullpen hadn’t blown so many leads” warming hearts in Redbird nation, the title defense looks none too promising at this point.  There is always Major League Soccer, which putters along contently somehow without a team in soccer hotbed Stl but with one named “Real Salt Lake” who currently occupy the cellar in the Western Conference for their obvious crimes.  Although damn near everyone missed it, USA soccer defeated Mexico in the Gold Cup semis which is always a borderline riot, mostly because of devious Mexican hostility.  This remains one of the big undercurrent rivalries in sports that does not receive much attention but has become increasingly intense with the US team’s slow ascension.  Far more interesting is the US’s game Thursday (6/28) against Argentina in the Copa America.  Actually, it wasn’t; despite the fact that Brazil’s Argentine coach predicted an upset, the US played them to tie for 60 minutes then got walloped 4-1.  USA had the kids team out there as only two starters returned from the Gold Cup squad.  Brazil got a taste of its own medicine as it lost ugly against Mexico.  Argentina, if you recall, was a sudden favorite in the le Coupe de Monde last year after nuking Serbia but came up short against the Krauts.  This was the same tournament where the US laid a massive egg but almost beat the eventual winner, Italy.  Another well-kept secret in the States was the Guardian’s live-blog of the games, extremely entertaining in their entirety (see Rob Smyth’s commentary on the Italy-USA game at the bottom).

Speaking of other television, Comedy Central should pump out some decent fodder by turning to the depths of the internet and history past.  Everyone got thoroughly sick of both Tyler Perry’s House of Pain, which may be the most unfunny comedy in history, and TNT’s incessant “Drama” commercials.  Now we are being told that The Closer is supposedly a good show, which seems spurious given how incredibly annoying the lead actress’s voice is.  Then there’s Holly Hunter’s vanity project, Amazing Grace, remarkable because it does not seem to have any discernable plot other than Holly Hunter being a batshit crazy crackwhore.

What may occur in a midsummer night’s dream…

Wayne Brady in his own show: “The drama in the Wayne Brady Show comes from whether or not Wayne Brady is going to choke a bitch”

The Murphy Attack.  After the tomatometer demolition that Norbit caused (9% positive and a 3.3/10), Eddie and Charlie Murphy need to make amends, after getting the writing credits for one of the most momentous clusterfucks of a comedy.  If Eddie wants to play a varying assortment of characters, he needs to channel a lot more Coming to America and a lot less of anything after 1995.  Honestly, for summer purposes, these two could tell stories for an hour and that would be fantastic.  Although anything short of transvestite hookers knifefighting midgets at the end of a weekend bender while Charlie and Eddie bet on the winner and make fun of gay people and gerry curls might be something of a disappointment, I think you could thrown in Arsenio Hall, Sam Jackson, James Earl Jones, Eriq La Salle and anyone else in the Coming to America greatness.  That movie always seemed like more of a long drawn out sketch comedy.  In truth, the short attention span and fatigue caused by humidity that accentuate Midwest summers call for slivers of comedy rather than the long, but effective strands embodied by The Office and My Name is Earl

Danny DeVito in a dramatic special about our planet’s vanishing resources: “The drama in the Penguin comes from me being drunk and molesting penguins, which what I used as my inspiration for my character in Batman Returns.  Penguin molestation…the drama of nature.”

The Michael Showalter Showalter: began on collegehumor.com on 01/07/2007 and bears a resemblance to the PBS talk show Charlie Rose, according to Wikipedia.  Summer demands parodies of talk shows like Oprah demands butterscotch on her donuts, and this is one of the better on the net.  Stephen Colbert has set the bar pretty high, not only for this comedic medium but also guitar rock offs.  Showalter has abjectly bizarre interviews with people who make most of the general public think “oh yeah, that guy.”   But then they also think funny….after they stop watching porn.

Lindsay Lohan as an animated porpoise: “Drama comes from my character trying to get fisted by a 300 pound gorilla I met on the way to the bathroom at In and Out Burger…will I remember it after shooters and snorting the gross domestic product of Columbia?…That’s a dramatic question.”

Duckman Redux.   Jason Alexander, assuming he is still alive, is not doing anything right now and if we must animate him as water fowl, then Costanza’s going to the drawing board.  Duckman had potential because it was basically George Costanza as a duck solving mysteries with a pig.  The show seemed to suffer heavily from the horrible animation and was shown in an era of Comedy Central before South Park, where they were still some boundaries they feared to traverse.  I feel like Alexander could resurrect the series with the help of someone like Seth MacFarlane, and completely wreck shop by getting someone like the afore-videoed Paul Rudd to be his swinish compatriot.  That and converting a whole slew of celebrities into animals has potential: Seth Rogen, Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, John Stewart, Dave Chappelle, Patton Oswalt, Lewis Black…anybody who’s ever been on Robot Chicken…Jason Biggs after his funnyordie routine

Reno 911! at least six times a day.  This program seems built for summer as missing an episode doesn’t detract from the viewing experience (kind of like Law and Order).  And it has cops winging bricks at old ladies…

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Pretty much everything on funnyordie.com.  I can guarantee, unconditionally, that Jason Biggs has never done anything funnier than this:

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And finally, this monkey, for a solid two hours:

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7/28/02 – Speaking of doldrums in the withering Stl heat, down 9-4 in the bottom of the ninth to the rival Cubs, the Cardinals score six runs in the inning capped by Edgar Renteria’s three-run home run. The comeback came on the same day Ozzie Smith was inducted to the Hall of Fame.  I was there and it remains the best game I’ve ever actually seen in person.

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Despite how awesome Transformers looks and the hotness of Megan Fox, I have full confidence Michael Bay has made this movie completely unwatchable after one viewing (basically, after you move past how cool it looks).  Roland Emmerich has an iron grip the gold for the biggest disaster of an action movie with Godzilla which was well beyond awful, especially if viewed now, not to mention a rip off of Jurassic Park towards the end.  It’s not easy to rip off another movie in a remake of a completely different movie.  Don’t know if we’ll see that again, but as long as Bay is at the helm, there remains a dim and thoroughly depressing hope.

Despite Michael Bay dropping trou on another cherished childhood memory (you’re next, Thundercats!), this is the only new Transformers video anyone needs to see.

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The 50 Most Legendary Goals in Soccer History, as picked by some French guy.  As he claims on the daily motion site:

“Une compilation exceptionnelle des plus beaux buts de ces cinquante dernières années. Les plus grandes stars sont là et les buts sont tous extraordinaires !!!! De Van Basten à Maradona en passant par Zidane, Beckham, Ronaldinho et beaucoup beaucoup d’autres !!! Des buts sortis de nulle part, des retournés acrobatiques, des buts de loin, des merveilles de jeu d’équipe, tout y est !!! De tous les clubs (Chelsea, Arsenal, Milan AC, Manchester United, , Barcelone, Real Madrid, Ajax et surtout le PSG avec Coridon et Ronaldinho ^^) et toutes les nationalités (Brésil, France, Italie, Angleterre, Pays-Bas…) !!!!! Alors un conseil fans de foot : régalez-vous !!!!

“A voir et revoir…

“Après des recherches et mes connaissances personnelles, voici toutes les musiques dans l’ordre d’apparition :

1) U2 – Vertigo

2) Good Charlotte – I Just Want To Live

3) Lenny Kravitz – Are We Runnin’?

4) Lenny Kravitz – Fly Away

5) Green Day – Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

6) Three Doors Down – Let Me Go

An exceptional compilation of the most beautfiul goals from the last fifty years.  The biggest stars are there and the goals are all extraordinary!!!  From Van Basten to Maradona passing through to Zidane, Ronaldinho and many, many others!!!  ?Goals out of nowhere?, acrobatic returns, goals from afar, marveillous team work, everything is here!!!  From all the clubs (Chelsea, Arsenal, AC Milan, Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Ajax and above all PSG with Coridon and Ronaldinho) and all the national teams (Brazil, France, Italy, England, the Netherlands…) !!!  To counsel of football fans: reveal in it!

To watch and watch again….

After research and my personal knowledge, here are all the soundtrack songs in order of their appearance:

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Okay, so that music selection sucks rancid ass.  Here’s a selection I’d go with instead:

Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower

White Stripes – Death Letter

Gnarls Biggie – Victory Coming / Can I Get With Ya Crazy Butt / Smiley Faces Hypnotize

The Gray Album – What more can I say? / 99 Problems / Dirt Off Your Shoulder

Nirvana – Breed

Bloodhound Gang – Ralph Wiggum

Smashing Pumpkins – Zero

MC5 – Kick out the Jams

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Otherside / Funky Monks / Parallel Universe

Sublime – Seed / Same in the End

Cake – Going the Distance

Queen – Princes of the Universe (theme from Highlander)

Who – Baba O’Reilly

Elmore James – Done Somebody Wrong

Tribe Called Quest – Excursions / Vibes and Stuff / Buggin Out


What is being called the greatest goal ever scored, by the 19 year old Peruvian Andres Vasquez for the Swedish team IFK Gothenburg.

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Gilardino, 22; Zaccardo og, 27

Don’t forget to email rob.smyth@guardian.co.uk hangover cures, Larry Davidisms, The Like and the like to validate his miserable existence. Go on. Please. Rob Smyth Saturday June 17, 2006

It’s not paranoia if they think you’re a bald turd

Preshambles

Evening one and, indeed, one. If Roundball USA lose tonight they’re basically out, doing one faster than a plummy nympho. Italy need a win, just because. You see, if they don’t win tonight they would quite probably go out if they were to then lose their final game to the Czechs. All to play for then, children, so put down those oven-temperature cans of Watney’s Party Seven you were about to quaff and let’s get on with some Grade C soccer.

See him there, he looks just like… department “Does anyone else think Martin O’Neill is Woody Allen?” asks Gavin Monks. I’ve never seen them sweating and leering at a minor in the same room, that’s for sure. And, while we’re on the subject, anthem ignoramus Mauro Camoranesi is a ringer for Sopranos crowbar-wielding cookery expert Furio Giunta, no? While I’m looking more like Larry David by the day. Any other World Cup lookalikes you can suggest? That’d be a fun riff for the evening wouldn’t it, eh? Eh? I hear ya.

Prediction department

Another 2-0 Italy I reckon, Toni and De Rossi to put the hurt on the USA. Put your mortgage on it. Being totally, spectacularly wrong.

An email department “Half time in Ghana vs Czech Republic has seen Alexi Lalas claiming that Kasey Keller is ‘the best goalkeeper in the world’, winces Harold Dyson. “No sign of his crack pipe, but he could have hidden it during the ad break…” Right, now, as amusing as the USA commentators irrefutably and inadvertently are, it’s been done and done and done to death. And while I have no idea how you go about finding original humour, surely one of you out there must have something original we can “riff” on. Come on, people, let’s put the hurt on some funny bones!

Italy team Buffon; Zaccardo, Nesta, Cannavaro, Zambrotta; Perrotta, Pirlo, De Rossi; Totti; Toni, Gilardino.

Team USA of America team Keller; Cherundolo, Onyewu, Pope, Bocanegra; Dempsey, Mastroeni, Reyna, Convey; McBride, Donovan.

I’ll show you mine if you show me yours department “OK, we’ve sent you a lot of traffic this week, but now we’re telling people not to go running over to you and bash the US commentators,” says Beau Dure of USA Today, where do a similar minute-by-minute thing only with, like, humour and stuff.

Things you didn’t know department This is the World Cup final! Well, it is according to the ITV continuity announcer who just, erm, announced that “Italy are playing America for the World Cup after the break”. So now you know.

Right, here we go then “Lookalikes?” says Chris Bond. “My too-gorgeous-for-me ex-girlfriend reckons they’ve taken Matt Damon’s head and put it on Michael Ballack’s shoulders. She’s not wrong is she?” She’s not wrong in the 2+2=5 sense, but making such observations might just be wrong in the dreaming-about-David-Mellor-doing-a-kinky-naked-rain-dance-wearing-nothing-but-a-Cameroon-football-sock sense.

Nuggetwatch Cut to the crowd during the anthems and some Italian stallion wearing nothing but a pair of blue-and-white Svens. That really does put the ‘prat’ in ‘patriot’. What an utter, utter, utter nugget.

1 min Italy kick off from left to right. “Not bash the US commentators?” thunders John Lockhart. “Come on, bashing sawkker commentators is an old British pastime. Who remembers Colemanballs in Private Eye – e.g. ‘I’d like to be a fly on Larry Lloyd’s shorts’?” You made that up didn’t you?

2 min Perrotta’s cross scrapes the head of pretty boy Toni and drifts away for a goalkick. “I thought the nugget was quite fit,” says Rona Skene. He was, to be fair, but those Svens!

3 min Nothing doing so far. “I’m sure someone must’ve mentioned this before,” says Paul Gordon, “but has anyone ever seen Pete Doherty and Cherie Blair in the same room?” Which one of them’s in the World CUp?

5 min Totti is booked for a mistimed lunge at Dempsey on the halfway line. Not quite an Andrex-soft booking, but it certainly wouldn’t have been a yellow card in my day etc.

6 min “I misread that David Mellor comment as him dressed only in a Cameron sock,” says William French. “Which is even wronger. Though Mellor would probably wear it if it got him back into the Shadow Cabinet.”

8 min It’s utterly bitty at the moment, the highlight being some dry humping on the halfway line on Toni by Onyewu, who is giving new meaning to the concept of man-marking. America have come out with more purpose and energy than they showed against the Czechs, and there really is nothing else to say because eff all has happened.

10 min “Any chance of your posting a photo of you up on the MBM a la the guys over at USA Today?” says Jez Smith. Absolutely none whatsoever.

12 min USA are bossing this at the moment, but the Italian defence aren’t exactly rattled yet. “Pete is,” says Paul Gordon of his 3rd-minute quip. “3rd goalkeeper for Ecuador Has some connections on the border there apparently.” Honk!

13 min Italy get a free-kick wide on the left, from which De Rossi deliberately stands five yards offside. The trouble is that, when the cross does come on, he then activates himself by heading the ball. Duh!

14 min Nesta cleans Convey out from behind right on the edge of the box – a ridiculous challenge, and a free-kick in a dangerous area… which is hit by the zesty Convey and deflected wide.

16 min When the resulting corner comes back in, Convey, 10 yards out and at a slight angle, sweet-spots it miles over with his right foot. That was at least a half-chance – maybe even a three-fifths chance – and the USA have done really well so far, which will make it all the more annoying when some buggerlugs makes a mistake to give Italy the lead.

18 min The impressive Dempsey’s daisy-cutter from the edge of the box goes only a couple of yards wide. The USA are all over Italy at the moment; it’s surreal.

19 min “After the snafu with the mix-up between the flags during the Iran/Mexico game on US broadcasts, I’m impressed that ABC managed to figure out which flag goes with which team for this game!” says Susan Dysktra. “ Oops, not supposed to be mocking the American coverage….” Well, it’s better than no emails at all.

20 min Shades of 2002 for Italy so far, when they were so authoritative in winning the first game 2-0, and comically inept in losing the next game, 2-1 to Croatia. I still reckon they’ll win this, mind.

21 min Eddie Pope is booked for sitting on Gilardino. That looked a bit harsh – they were all over each other and just fell in a heap. Anyway, the ref had a great view from about 60 yards away, and he got his yellow card out.

GOAL! Italy 1 USA 0 (Gilardino 22) Told you. A quite wonderful free-kick from Pirlo on the right, curving into the no-man’s land between keeper and defender, is headed emphatically past Keller by a stooping Gilardino. The marking was pitiful – it was Pope who let him run – but it was a fantastic ball in.

25 min “Are you just watching all these games on the TV?” says Chris Jackson. “You’ve shattered my illusions.” You know that tooth fairy? That’s your mother, that is.

26 min If Bruce Arena was wearing a toupee – which he absolutely does not, folks – he’d be scratching it now, because his side started so well. Instead he’s scratching his perfectly natural and full head of hair.

GOAL! Italy 1 USA 1 (Zaccardo own goal 27) A slapstick own goal from Zaccardo. Convey whipped in a deep free-kick from the right and Zaccardo, trying to welt the ball clear, shanked it in his own net from six yards with his swinger.

RED CARD! De Rossi off! Bloody hell, now Italy are struggling. Moments after the goal, De Rossi walks for sticking a really nasty elbow on McBride, who has blood coming out of various parts of his face. Blimey.

29 min “We have the worst effing defense,” says Chris Grovich. “Effing Christ on a bun.” Well…

31 min Toni, slipped through in the inside-left channel by the immaculate Pirlo, skews a cross-shot comfortably wide.

32 min “But you didn’t predict a stunning Italian buggerlugs-fest in response, did you?” says Rona Skene. Not even Mystic Nostradameg could have predicted such a spectacular double buggerlugs as that.

34 min No tactical changes as yet from Italy, who are now simply playing a 4-2-1-2 with Totti doing a bit more defensive work. But Gattuso is coming on soon apparently. For Toni maybe?

35 min Totti off for Gattuso, which is reminiscent of Roberto Baggio being brought off in the first half of Italy’s second game of USA 94 because of a red card. With 10 men pragmatism is on the menu, so it’s the fantasista who has to go. Totti looks, not unreasonably, utterly naffed off. Gattuso’s first touch is to welly the ball into the top corner from 20 yards, although the flag had already – erroneously – gone up for offside.

38 min “I did like de Rossi’s “wanker” hand signal to the ref,” says Gordon Hundley. “I guess it can’t be worse than a red card, so you might as well.” If I was a horse, I’d be watching my head – De Rossi looked like he wasn’t finished with the referee.

40 min USA have done bugger all as an attacking threat since the red card. From having the freedom of the underdog, they now have the responsibility of the favourite, and with that has come a certain fear and a more tentative approach.

42 min A lovely, swirling, long-range hit from Mastroeni, who I reckon is going to be sent off inside the next, ooh, three minutes, lands on top of the net with Buffon beaten.

43 min “I’m no friend of Italian football, but they are getting screwed by the refs the second World Cup in a row,” says Christian Haesemeyer. What planet are you on?! That move from De Rossi was straight out of The Sopranos – he had to walk. Ah, you meant the offside? Er, fair point. I’ll get my ultra-trendy Penguin mac.

RED CARD! Mastroeni sent off! The referee predictably evens things up by sending Mastroeni off for a tackle that was, In My Haughty Opinion, a yellow card at worst. He was late on Pirlo, with studs showing, but it was a genuine attempt to play the ball and there is no way in the world that was a red card. Well, no way in the world it should have been, anyway. That was disgracefully weak refereeing.

Half time That was lively stuff, with a goal and a red card each, but you have to feel that America have missed a McManus-sized chance of winning this game by having Mastroeni sent off just before half-time. We shall see.

The permutations A draw here isn’t that bad for USA – it means that, if they beat Ghana, they would go through if the Czechs lose to Italy. For Italy, a draw is slightly iffy as it means that, if the Ghana beat the USA, defeat to the Czechs would put Italy out. I think. So, to summarise: don’t ever drink Chimay on an empty stomach.

46 min We’re off again. “The BBC apparently ran a poll on De Rossi’s card and found 83% agreed he should be sent off,” says Kyle Brown. “What do the other 17% think should be required – guns or knives?”

47 min “Are you kidding me?” says Toby Koschalka (and a couple of (hundred) others). “I’m no fan of the Italian game or the Azzurri but that was as red as they come – straight in on his ankle, whether it was intentional or not.” It was a mistimed slide tackle – a slide tackle, not an over-the-ball tackle – with no malevolent intent deep in the opposition half. If that’s a red card we might as well all enjoy a game of chess and forget football.

RED CARD! Eddie Pope off! Team America up a creek sans paddle! It’s 10 v 9 now, after Eddie Pope gets his second yellow card. In fairness, that was definitely a booking, a lunge at Gilardinho from behind that got nowhere near the ball.

50 min “I was just out for brunch (at Mecca in Seattle’s Queen Anne district, if you must know),” says Nick Denny. “The waitress managed to use the phrase ‘it’s not rocket surgery’.” Inadvertent genius.

52 min USA substitution: the excellent Convey (a left-winger) off, Jimmy Conrad (a centre-half) on.

53 min Pirlo’s dipping, whipped free-kick is headed onto his own crossbar by Bocanegra. This game is a comedy of errors, only without the comedy.

54 min Cannavaro brings down MC Dempsey, and Del Piero has come on for Zaccardo. “Someone might want to tap Schlepp Blather on the shoulder and remind him that the United States of America could turn FIFA headquarters into an ashtray at any time of its choosing,” chuckles Whitley.

56 min So far Italy haven’t really threatened. Okay, they did hit the bar but there’s been no sustained pressure. It’s like everyone’s just taking stock for 15 minutes, allowing the chips of this increasingly ridiculous match to fall where they may before Italy get on with the job of winning it.

57 min Robbie Graham has pointed out that this referee is now described as “a wanker” on Wikipedia. And they say it’s unreliable!

59 min The chips still haven’t fallen. “I’m an American who loves football, but I am sick and tired of seeing European and South American players go down at the slightest touch like a bunch of pussies,” says Norbert Knapke. “If someone goes down for an injury, they should be forced to stay out for 10 minutes.” Yeah, send McBride off for 10 minutes after getting his snorkel rearranged!

60 min USA have a half-hearted appeal for handball by Nesta inside the box turned down. It would have been an absurdly harsh decision, which makes it surprising he didn’t give it etc and so forth. Let me rephrase all of the above: that was handball by Nesta.

61 min Perrotta wangs one into orbit from a nice pass from Pirlo. And then an Italian substitution: Toni off, Iaquinta on.

62 min MC Dempsey off, DaMarcus Beasley on.

63 min A smart thrust from halfway by Donovan ends with an inviting ball to McBride, screaming HIT ME like a really annoying, smelly nerd with a sticker discreetly put on his back, but McBride slices it well wide. That was a real chance.

64 min “That would be “mistimed slide tackle” like Keane’s attack on Alf Inge Haaland, would it, Rob?” chuckles Man City fan Matthew Cobb. “Back to the chess…” There is no way you can compare those two, Cobblers – everyone knows Keano got the ball.

65 min Where to start? DaMarcus Beasley has a goal very dubiously disallowed. When it goes in Peter Drury screams “equaliser” even though they’d have gone 2-1 up. Everyone’s lost it! It was disallowed for McBride being offside, even though he didn’t touch the ball. He was, however, right in Buffon’s line of vision. It’s a controversial decision, that – and it lets Buffon off a proper howler – and I think that, with the modern interpretation of offside, USA are a bit unlucky there.

67 min Perrotta, crunched heavily by Bocanegra, is limping badly on the touchline – and Italy have used all three subs. It could be 9 v 9. This game is an absolute shemozzle.

68 min Zambrotta coaxes a curler just wide from the edge of the box.

69 min Perrotta’s back on although he’s not exactly motoring. It’s like the FA Cup final again with bodies shambling around all over the place.

70 min Zambrotta booked for breathing the same air as Cherundolo. From the resulting free-kick Bocanegra, four yards out, can’t get over a header.

72 min Re: the McBride offside, I agree he was interfering, but doesn’t interpretation of activity these days depending on touching the ball? Oh, apparently it doesn’t. Well, anyway, he didn’t touch the effer, but he was in Buffon’s line of sight.

73 min Keller makes a cracking save to deny old man Del Piero. The ball was floated beautifully in behind the defence by the brilliant Pirlo and Del Piero, stretching to volley with the outside of his left foot, saw his effort pawed away by Keller at the full extent of his dive.

75 min The US are still going for this when they can, and the game is ridiculously spread. But half the players look out on their feet. If anything, the 10 men of Italy look more leg-weary than the nine Americans.

77 min Gattuso wellies one miles over from 30 yards. I think this will finish 1-1; Italy aren’t putting any significant pressure on at all.

78 min The indefatigable Cherundolo, who has been hugely impressive, finds McBride at the back post with a fine cross, but McBride’s header ricochets off the defender and him for a goal kick.

79 min Another good save from Keller, this time to repel Del Piero’s curling 25-yarder. Or his 25-yard curler. Take your pick.

80 min “Rob, what your view for the Argentinian wonder goal?” asks Andy Bradshaw. “The best ever or a well worked goal that was easy to score due to S&M deciding to go their separate ways at the first whistle? I’m going for the latter – a good goal but against woeful opposition.” Definitely. A great goal but the best ever? Do me a favour.

84 min Nothing is happening. At all. “How did Leslie Nielsen get the Italian manager’s job?” chuckles Frank, to himself.

84 min Pirlo slices and dices the defence with a quite sublime through pass… and Iaquinta eight yards out completely miscontrols it.

85 min “Are the Czechs and the Americans part of some High Concept Hollywood Lindsey Lohan comedy where people, or indeed football teams, change identity through a fortune cookie or a kiss or whatever…” asks Rick Burr, not unreasonably, given their respective performances the other day and now today.

87 min How the hell did that stay out? Del Piero fizzed a cross along the six-yard box, and it was somehow smuggled away for a corner with Gattuso about to score.

88 min “ABC just showed a few people standing on a median strip in Times Square “watching” this game on a big screen outside ABC studio,” says Regan Fitzgerald. “Can you feel the excitement?” Not quite. I can feel my sweat-coated Y-fronts disappearing into a big, dark hole, but that’s not exciting as such.

89 min USA are struggling now, and Bocanegra heroically heads some fella’s cross behind for a corner. Conrad could then easily have given away a penalty after manhandling Gilardino/Iaquinta/I haven’t a clue which inside the area, but the referee was having none of it.

90 min Gilardino heads Nesta’s cross well wide. “Ooh la la” adds David Pleat for no particular reason.

90 min +2 One minute of added time left, and it looks like that’s it. USA are playing 6-2-0 now.

Full time: Italy 1 USA 1 That’s the end of one of the most surreal matches in World Cup history – three red cards, one slapstick own goal, a dubiously disallowed goal and lots of other stuff to put the hurt on the funny bone. To return to an unpopular theme, it was a talking dwarf and some gentle erotica away from being a David Lynch film. The USA deserved their point, and can go through if they beat Ghana and Italy beat the Czechs. Thanks for all your emails; apologies for not using them all – Rob.

23
May
09

A SAPPORO FOR RICK ANKIEL

How hard does God laugh at us when we fail?  I’d wager he’d laugh all the harder if we fail, for instance, at trying to recreate the Millenium Falcon out of a decade old set of legos and fell three critical pieces shy – and they were predictably those versatile pieces that could be used for anything while a myriad of bulgy, useless lumps surrounded you on your parents’ basement floor.  Certainly anyone experiencing this situation should expect a hearty guffaw from the almighty.  But the game of baseball, or any professional sport for that matter, seems hardly less trivial, even at the highest rungs.  When Rick Ankiel inexplicably and disastrously failed at this high level, on a national stage after displaying once-in-a-generation promise, it was briefly a national fascination.  His slow and dogged comeback at a completely different position was documented on and off in the pages of Sports Illustrated.  And when he finally broke back into the majors, now a prodigal outfielder as opposed to a pitching prodigy.  And yet it was described as storybook when in his first game back in the majors, he belted a three-run home run evoking Hollywood’s own natural.  One couldn’t help raise a Sapporo to Rick Ankiel.  

Ankiel pitched his first, and truthfully only, season in 2000 suffering a meltdown in the playoffs.  That was roughly seven years ago.  It was before George W. Bush was president; the Twin Towers were still standing; Saddam Hussein was alive and well; I was still in high school; Jack Lemmon was still alive; the Red Sox and White Sox still hadn’t won World Series in 80 some odd years; Enron was at the top of Forbes’ list of “most innovative companies”; Lindsay Lohan was 14 years old and Britney Spears was still hot; few people knew who Osama bin-Laden was; even fewer knew who the hell Tom Brady was; Napster was at its height; YouTube wouldn’t exist for five more years; Michael Vick entered the NFL as possibly the most exciting player ever and exited in one of the most bizarre ways possible within the span of time that Ankiel first entered the league and made his comeback.  Empires rise and fall in seven years (just ask the Third Reich).

I suppose Ankiel’s plight brings me back to early youth and his return, triumphant  or not, relives a childhood moment where the dawn of a Cardinals’ dynasty seemed quite possible.  To hear the phrase “Rick Ankiel in the Cardinals’ lineup” today is to command to the forefront what has been given and what has been taken away in the seven years since the first time that was heard.  Sad?  Truly.  But then think about when you hear somebody mention a grade school classmate you hadn’t thought of in several years.  The name alone may call up hundreds of memories pushed to the wayside – does the person’s inconsequentiality cheapen those memories?

In the word’s of jovial God: yes.

Seriously, what is more disturbing: that a return on the level of Ankiel’s causes many of us to think about was has transpired in the interim or that it takes something so trivial to cause us to remember?  Is it the mere fact or the implication of the mere fact?

Fuck it.  This Bud’s for you, Rick.

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Similar to this metaphysics via pop culture, there is the annual celebration of being a hoosier conducted by one of my siblings and his friends each year of the past five.  This atypical bacchanal provides opportunity to (1) act like a tard, (2) become exceedingly drunk, and (3) spank a girl on the ass with less the usual repercussion (i.e., no jail time…that I know of).  This night of nights allows those who have since sloughed off the gentle bosom of undergraduate college for the harsh reality of the world, whether it be work, grad school or some sort of semi-hobo-ish existence on the fringes of society.  And in this revelry, we hark back to a time probably unequalled in the lives of humans for all the years of the species where for four years there is a strange sense of freedom and discovery mixed with inhibition mixed with lazy boredom, and for most, alcohol.  To be such unproductive members of society in the interim and yet well supported remains a foible of a decadent culture upon which the modern finds itself.  So many are denied such an experience.  To relieve it even for an eve is truly a remarkable feat.

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Despite some Uncle Tom’s in our society, there are those who do not recognize the transformation of select 7-11s into Kwik-e-marts as “a promotion for The Simpsons movie exploits a crude racist stereotype that insults South Asians living in the United States“!  It’s unclear whether or not the author of this particular diatribe is against the stereotype in general or because it’s being used by a corporation.  He seems to attack it on both ends but the argument against as it is used in the show has distinctly less footing.  As some of the commenters point out, Apu does not really speak “fractured English” but rather utilizes a sort of overly formal English that well-educated foreigners tend to speak.  Apu is a successful, well kept, extremely hard-working businessman though prone to “price-gouging” and cheating customers (though that almost appears to be more of a comment about convenience stores in general rather than Apu’s in particular).  He is decidedly better portrayed than fellow entrepreneur Moe, who is decidedly more uncaring of his patrons and a much more opprobrious individual.  Again, that is not so much a comment on the character’s race (Moe is white) but on the profession of a bartender.  Suffice to say that Apu is hardly the worst portrayed business owner – even Dr. Hibbert (and certainly Dr. Nick Riviera), not to mention Mr. Burns, seems to be overpriced and condescending.

More importantly, the show is fairly merciless with its use of stereotypes but they are often directed at Caucasians.  I, as the son of an Italian-American, should be horribly offended that the two prominent Italian-Americans on the show are Luigi Risotto, the pasta chef (who admitted that he can only speak broken English and not even Italian because “that’s what his parents spoke”) and a gangster, Fat Tony, who tried to frame a ten year old kid (i.e., Bart) among other indiscretions.  According to wikipedia, the animators admitted copying Luigi directly from a pizza box, indicating some commercial connection.  Then there’s Groundskeeper Willie, a Scottish stereotype of an illiterate, crude and barely understandable drunkard who lives in a shed.  Not to mention that the writers unload on the French, “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” all lest we forget, more or less every chance they opportune.  This is not to mention Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel, a character meant to encompass pretty much all poor white Americans, and whose wife, Brandine, is much more fertile (and considerably more uncaring) than Apu’s wife with 39 some odd children and possible careers as a stripper and Dairy Queen employee.  Thus, it seems that when it comes stereotypes, the Simpsons itself leaves no one out.  I suppose if you leave Apu out, the others must go with him.  I always viewed the Simpsons as a parody of the nuclear family but also American life in general.  With all the different people in American society, the stereotypes so overdone by the Simpsons sometimes expose how we often think of those different even though those differences are largely superficial.

A exemplary moment comes when Homer visits Apu and Apu asks him if he wants to listen to some Indian music.  As Homer hesitates, possibly thinking about how weird that must be, Apu pushes headlong, taking out a record and announcing it’s one of India’s most popular bands.  As he puts on the record, horrible screeching voices cause Homer to cringe.  Apu apologizes, turning down the speed on the record player to reveal the music is something quite like Frank Sinatra, which Homer immediately enjoys.  The mainstream American audience came in with the same preconception as Homer and were probably similarly unsurprised and uncomfortable at the initial sounds emitted by the record player.  But as is often the case, the audience’s own stereotype of what to expect turned out to be wrong (whether it was an actual example of Indian music is besides the point, which was to expose our own stereotype of what Indian should sound like).

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So I think everyone needs to jump on the anti-Mike Vick bandwagon because dog fighting IS JUST WRONG.  Which makes one wonder, if dogs are property, but you can’t fight them, are there animals you can have fight?  Say, for instance, there’s a little kid who has a spider fight some army ants.  Or have a dog try to kill as many rats as possible inside of a minute (I put the over-under at 20 unless its Baxter from Anchorman, then it bounces to 30 plus a wheel of cheese).  Most people would find it utterly reprehensible for a child to pull the wings off a fly–others might see it as decidedly strange but somewhat unimportant.  Even a dog killing rats, with some risk to the dog, might be regarded as more pathological but still hardly something to be protesting.  Two dogs fighting each other, however, becomes titanically worse.  Why?  Because dogs have personality; and, as Sam Jackson has pointed out to us, personality goes a long way.

Indeed from this perspective, many of those supposed dog lovers (excluding the nutjobs who believe that even trees are to be accorded rights) are really just narcissistic individuals who couldn’t stand to see a creature that has some “personality” (i.e., traits reminiscent or mimicking those of humans) be forced to fight to the death while other such creatures, whether insects or rodents, could fill the rivers and streams with their blood with nary a murmur from the canine worshipping class.  No one wants to see this little bastard in the octagon:


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Number One in the google image search for “dog”

But there probably isn’t going to be a lot of public outrage if this ever becomes the next big sport:

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Number Two in the google image search for “rat”.  Apparently the poster child for rathunter.com

The lesson: personality goes a long way.   Just ask the dolphins.

23
May
09

AN ORAL RESUSCITATION OF NFL HISTORY: 1999 TO PRESENT

Originally created 11/19/2007

A Tale Rife with Inconsistent Analogies, Plot Holes and Poop Jokes

1999 was the all too brief Day of the Empire.  It is hard, if not impossible, to place the recent history of the NFL without splitting the league into the New England Patriots, led by young Jedi warrior Tom Brady, and the Indianapolis Colts, led by the equivalent of Top Gun‘s Iceman, and everyone else who might as well be the Empire.  The Empire began under the humblest of circumstances–with the 1999 St. Louis Rams who went from a 4-12 team with an offense ranked 24th in the league to the number 1 ranked offense, a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl victory.  The Rams started an unknown aging quarterback named Kurt Warner who would become league MVP twice in three seasons.  The team’s supposed QB savior had gotten violently injured in a preseason game after a cheapshot by San Diego Chargers safety Rodney Harrison.  The team’s longtime receiver and probable future Hall of Famer Issac Bruce was almost killed in a car accident that year.  Marshall Faulk, considered a locker room cancer in Indianapolis, was traded and all but etched his name on a plaque in Canton over the next few years.  Faulk was the first Vader–brutally competitive, ruthless, and extremely talented.  The Rams assumed the mantle of the premier offense from the Minnesota Vikings by stomping them 49-37 in the NFC semifinals.  The storybook rags to riches tale continued for the Rams as the unheralded third receiver Ricky Proehl would catch the winning touchdown in the NFC Championship game.  Then they beat the Tennessee Titans on the last play of the game; a team that had enjoyed its own Music City Miracle in an earlier playoff game against the Buffalo Bills.  The empire would be headed by the Greatest Show on Earth Dynasty, replacing the aging and fallen dynasties of the Cowboys, 49ers, and Broncos.    It was 2001 and the St. Louis Rams were in the second Super Bowl in three years.  During those three years, they fielded arguably the most prolific offense in NFL history.  They won one of the most spectacular Super Bowls ever (this clip requires RealPlayer) on the back of a quarterback that more or less came off the street.  The defense had recovered from a dismal 2000 performance with the infusion of hardened veterans and vicious rookies.  They were 14 point favorites against the New England Patriots.  It looked like the Greatest Show on Turf would become a dynasty.

The following year saw disappoint on the front of the Rams.  A transcendent offense continued market by the sheer opulence.  Even the current Patriots, and for future generations who will almost certainly not bear witness to any of this tale, I am referring to the 2007 iteration of the New England zealots, could not muster, at least at mid-season to which this prose was put to pen, such a display as this: the image from the first game of the 2000 season of Torry Holt and Az-zahir Hakim sprinting down the sideline talking to each other after Holt had caught a pass—and with no Denver Bronco players around them.  Marshall Faulk was spitting fire from the backfield, even volunteering to play safety as the defense floundered in 2000; he also brought back the bob-and-weave TD celebration during a pounding of the Minnesota Vikings in direct defiance of the league which had outlawed the practice in order to fire up the struggling Rams for a run at the playoffs.  The defense had failed them, in a year where another transcendent unit, the defense of the Baltimore Ravens, would capture the Super Bowl for their own.

The 2001 season marked not only a turning point for the Rams but for my own life, the life of the US nation and so many other peoples of this world.  2001 saw the terrorist attacks of September 11th.  I was in my freshman year of college, a disorienting and wholly disappointing experience of my own formation.  The Rams could claim much the same offense with their loss of the Super Bowl.

Kurt the Butcher

Kurt Warner demands that Tom Brady be punished for his “godless Roman popery.”  This happened well over one hundred times between the 1999 and 2001 seasons

Some might claim poor officiating by which the upstart New England Patriots were allowed to check the Ram receivers without penalty throughout the game.  I recognize that may have been the case, but without a thorough review of game footage I can make no final determination.  But the game was poorly played and coached by the Rams; perfectly played and coached by the Pats.  The Rams may have had the better team, as they proved earlier in the season when they defeated the Pats outdoors in November on their home field.  Nine out of ten times the Rams may have won that game.  But this was the time of tenth.  The Rams dynasty was dead in its nascent period, and never recovered.  Many celebrated the Pats improbable rise, East coast bias aside, for we had a patriotic symbol defeating an empire.  Just as in Star Wars, the seemingly overwhelmed side of good found the exhaust vent that would bring down the despots.

But the next year neither side had much of any sort of luck.  The quarterback of the Rams was oft-injured, fumbling – a disaster.  The quarterback of the Pats, Tom Brady, the handsome Jedi warrior who blew up the Death Star, suffered his own strike back as the Pats were unable to make the playoffs in a decided sophomore slump.  Another interregnum reigned with defense again playing the part; the Buccaneers squared off against Oakland in the Pirate Bowl as the team who had drawn the most effective defensive blueprint to stopping the Ram juggernaut finally received its due without vanquishing its most hated opponent that had kept it a win away from the Super Bowl a few years before.  A new coach, quarterback or not, the Bucs rose from doorstop to gatekeeper and so took their place as champion.  But the empire lurked in the darkness while the Jedi gathered their strength…

But the next year saw a coming rematch of 2001.  The Rams finished 12-4, top in the NFC with the Pats ending 14-2, lord of the AFC.  All was set, all was promised, the Pats kept their end of the bargain, the Rams failed miserably in their own to the eventual NFC champion, Carolina Panthers.  A grey ghost, Steve Smith, burned a past prime Jason Sehorn and it was all over in a blink.  The empire’s resurgence was over.  The Jedi more or less reproduced their victory of two years previous with more luck and less slight of hand, and had their second Super Bowl title.

Two Super Bowls later and what are the Patriots at this point in time?  A juggernaut no less for the 2007 season, having squandered their improbable luck against a juggernaut, steroid-infused Chargers team in 2006.  But it makes one wonder, if the Patriots and Tom Brady in particular, as the most visible symbol, the Skywalker of the bunch, are the Jedi, it presents the interesting study of what happened after the Return of the Jedi.   

One does wonder, for all the attempts of Brady to try to be one of the guys (and he did not deny that he even surfs the Internet for pornography), one cannot relate, in any way shape or form to him.  Here’ s a person who not only looks like a model put plays the most difficult position of one of the most violent games on Earth to perfection.  How could a Skywalker come on down and sit with us guys?

That does present us with a question many neglected: okay, so Han Solo was cooler, but what exactly did Luke do after the Death Star blew up (again) and Vader was dead and the Emperor was dead and all was right with the world?  The answer lies with the 2007 Patriots.

He became a massive dick.

Tom Brady and the rest of the 2007 Patriots have become what they defeated: an Empire.  They are worse than the Rams ever were; running up the score, smugly brushing aside coaches.  Did Mike Martz ever cheat?  I think not.  From cheapshot artist extraordinaire Rodney Harrison to the grimly spectacular Randy Moss, the whole team smells of a genuinely smug disposition.  Which face of Bill Belichick is more accurate:

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Bill Belichick might be the emperor, going from friend of the Jedi to soulless despot…

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Or a pragmatic puppet master who would rather not discuss his various indiscretions…

I think we all can agree that he is a surly dick.  Reasons why he is a legend:

“1) He’s a surly dick. I think I said that already.
2) He’s turned New England into the Death Star. I said that too.
3) He wears a Flashdance sweatshirt.
4) He cheated and acted like a dick about it.
5) He blew off Tony Dungy.
6) He blew off Eric Mangini for doing the same thing to him that he did to Parcells, only he did it worse.

For clarification on the New York Jets story, we turn to wikipedia:

“Soon after Super Bowl XXXI, Belichick (and most of the Patriots assistant coaches) migrated with Parcells to the New York Jets. Belichick served as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Jets from 1997 to 1999. When Parcells stepped down as head coach in 1999, Belichick became the new Jets head coach. However, Belichick’s introduction to the media the following day turned out to be a surprise resignation announcement. Before taking the podium, he scrawled a resignation note on a sheet of loose leaf paper that read, in its entirety, “I resign as HC of the NYJ.” He then delivered a half-hour speech explaining his resignation to the assembled press corps. [2]

“Shortly afterward, he accepted an offer from the Patriots to become their new head coach, who had previously tried to hire him away from the Jets. Parcells and the Jets claimed that Belichick was still under contract, and demanded compensation from the Patriots. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue agreed, and the Patriots gave the Jets a first-round draft pick in 2000 in exchange for the right to hire Belichick.[3]

Though Belichick may be Satan, or at least made some sort of Faustian bargain with him, whether or not the new Empire of the Patriots is good or bad is not a cosmic question.  They are, after all, just a football team and although sports can be a metaphor for some aspects of life, they are never anything more.

Even if their resident court historian, Bill Simmons, wants to wallow in one of the greatest displays of hypocrisy in sports writing, it does not make the Patriots players themselves good or evil.  The Empire is a good metaphor – but is Belichick more like the Emperor from Star Wars or Warden Samuel Norton from Shawshank Redemption; holding the NFL hostage and casting disdain upon any of his challengers whether they were on the field, in the media or the league itself?  Has anyone ever had more sway over the NFL game?  His team is near invincible, he can cheat and barely suffer consequence even without any notable remorse, and his most diehard supporter in Simmons seems to claim that the real villain is Eric Mangini, the coach of the Jets who exposed the plot, who will receive his just comeuppance on December the 13th.  But be wary, court jester, Mangini might be the one with the shit-eating grin at the end of that game after Johnathan Vilma tears off Tom Brady’s kneecap before Belichick can make good on his unspoken goal of “casting him down with the sodomites”.

A note on the aforementioned hypocrisy: it is not so much Simmons is a clear homer for Boston teams – I think it’s clear that anyone in a similar situation would be caught up in the same exuberance given Boston teams’ recent success.  Nor is it necessarily a fact that Simmons complained about refereeing, which is not anything new for sports fans.  No, it is that Simmons had the gall to complain about the very thing he had chided so many opposing teams in the Patriots run described in this article had complained about – that the referees were not calling a fair game and swaying the game to the Pats’ advantage most notably on pass interference calls.  Not only did Simmons have the temerity to weep and moan about these supposed injustices after calling so many other complainers out over the past few years, but he did so after the Patriots won the game.  At least those other teams (the Colts and the Rams being the two most obvious examples) had lost the game.

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This Week’s Stephen Colbert’s Guitarmageddon Toss of the Gauntlet:

For the classic side of the equation, we’re going to go with Rondo alla Turca, the second with extra Eric Johnson-ish rock out:

Obligatory Jimi Hendrix riff – All Along the Watchtower, live and in jive:

Double Black Diamond: at a time when guitar solos went to overly baroque affairs, Eric Johnson was one of the leaders with his masterpiece “Cliffs of Dover”.

For acoustic guitar fun: an Eric Bana-looking Chris Cornell performs “I am a Highway” live:

20
May
09

Football and ROCKETFUEL

Originally created 1/28/2008

It’s Crizappie

Visiting the Department of Motor Vehicles is like a view of the afterlife, not in the sense of unnatural bliss but rather of a way station on the road to the real destination.  The south city DMV is probably like most others.  In a strip mall by a major thoroughfare, it is a drab nondescript building.  There is only one room, filled partially with plastic chairs standing on an off-white tile surface.  The lighting is naturally cold as the long counter that separates the supposed patrons from the employees.  The number dispenser doles out the typically slow service from notably disinterested servers.

But everyone is in it together: brothers, Bosnians, and hoosiers.  No one gets exempted, not gets ahead.  The number one gets is the time one gets served.  Money doesn’t get you service (although connections may).  The DMV is egalitarian in the most direct sense; and socialistic in its most governmentally exquisite nature—the license to drive is not a right, they are quick to tell you, but a privilege bestowed on you by the government.

So for all those wishing to know what socialized medicine will look like, one only needs to visit the Department of Motor Vehicles on any given day.  Everyone is served equally poorly; the bureau makes little attempt at customer service (to what end?  As long as there are cars and drivers, there will be customers; just as in health care, as long as there are the sick, there will be customers).  This is the essence of socialism: everyone gets an equal share in a much, much smaller pie; though an additional lesson might be learned from such communist countries as the Soviet Union or North Korea—those with connections to the top of politics tend to be, in the words of George Orwell, more equal than the others.

Speaking of which, Hugo Chavez wants to do it to your mind: “With the inauguration of 15 new Bolivarian Schools, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez kicked off the 2007-2008 school year across the country this week. The president visited a primary and a secondary school where he announced the new Bolivarian education curriculum to which he said all schools in Venezuela, including private schools, will have to abide.”  Oh, and your hotels: “The landmark Caracas Hilton hotel was renamed the Alba on Saturday by President Hugo Chavez’s government, which owns the building and says it will now be a ‘socialist’ establishment, the state news agency reported.”

upside down house (coolest thing since city museum)

More of the perils of public service: “A senior Indian official died after being attacked by a flock of wild monkeys and then falling from a balcony at his home.”

The world’s shittiest mixtape:Vodpod videos no longer available.

“Go on! Kick him in the cobblers!” and other cockney slang.

The topic of the Iraq War, or American foreign policy in general, has been frequented by presidential candidates, pundits and preachers.  Much of what is written concerns whether or not the American side should be involved and to what extent as well as the consequential cost to the United States.  What has never been put forth in so many words is whether an Iraqi life should be protected to the extent that we would protect an American life.

In the United States proper, there are a myriad of “wars”, most notably the war on drugs.  If it is true that drug dealers are well armed (with gangs using military tactics and police shifting to more powerful weapons, one could hardly object), should the federal government not use the same tactics suppress them as they do with the so-called Iraqi insurgents?  Mass arrests, aerial bombings, raids, basically everything you see in this video (which is no longer on youtube; too bad, it was a barn burner).

One might retort that the war on drugs need not be prosecuted in such a way.  But that denies that dealers are not only well armed, but probably significantly better funded than the various sections of the Iraqi insurgency.  One only needs to examine Colombia’s battle with FARC to note such an eventuality where the guerillas/drug dealers are as well heeled as the government forces.  Might it only be a matter of time before something like that happens stateside?

Thus we must either come to one of several unsavory conclusions: (1) the war on drugs, well over 30 years old at this point, is not as important as the war on drugs although it affects many more millions of Americans; (2) an Iraqi citizen’s rights and life should not be protected to the extent of an American’s; (3) the war on drugs is overstated in terms of both its goals and its danger to US citizens and thus does not warrant the force or tactics assigned to the “war on terror”.

Moreover, if one accepts that, as in the global war on terror, the United States must “fight them over there to avoid fighting them over here”, the issue of Colombia and FARC demands a bigger presence by the US.  Without such a commitment, the US would, by the same logic as with terror, be giving in on the war on drugs.

As for not supporting the war is tantamount to not supporting the troops, who says the Army even supports its own troops? “Army Spc. Ruben Villalpando, who was featured in the Military Times coverage of the problems at Walter Reed, said that since the stories were published, contractors have fixed the elevator in Building 18 – the facility where troops on “medical hold” are housed – and have inspected each room to determine what needs to be fixed.  But more importantly to him, a Judge Advocate General lawyer looked at his case after he filed a complaint that he received no disability rating because his depression was ruled to have existed prior to his enlisting.”

Thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq — as many as 10 a day — are being discharged by the military for mental health reasons. But the Pentagon isn’t blaming the war. It says the soldiers had ‘pre-existing’ conditions that disqualify them for treatment by the government.  Many soldiers and Marines being discharged on this basis actually suffer from combat-related problems, experts say. But by classifying them as having a condition unrelated to the war, the Defense Department is able to quickly get rid of troops having trouble doing their work while also saving the expense of caring for them.  The result appears to be that many actually suffering from combat-related problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries don’t get the help they need.”

Booby trapping Iraqis: “US soldiers are luring Iraqis to their deaths by scattering military equipment on the ground as ‘bait’, and then shooting those who pick them up, it has been alleged at a court martial. The highly controversial tactic, which has hitherto been kept secret, is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of a number of Iraqis who were subsequently classified as enemy combatants and used in statistics to show the ‘success’ of the ‘surge’ in US forces.”

Giuliani is no hero.  This hit a lot harder when Rudy was the frontrunner.

Bitch I am God! This is the SPIRIT OF TRUTHVodpod videos no longer available.

“Bitch, I come in the name of Jesus!”

Banging Italians and killing people: this is what Clive Own does.

College Football: The BCS and Its Deficiencies.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The final BCS rankings before the bowl games went like this:

  1. Ohio State
  2. LSU
  3. Virginia Tech
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Georgia
  6. Missouri
  7. USC
  8. Kansas

The undefeated Hawaii Warriors finished tenth in the standings and squeaked their way into a BCS bowl.  Now, not to rehash old gangbangs, but with college officials talking about a playoff mere days after a very unsatisfying end to the season (hint: OSU got romped by an SEC team again), let’s all gather ‘round the collegiate circle jerk table and project the winners had the year ended with an 8 team playoff instead of the clusterfuck of largely meaningless, but still remarkably profitable, bowls.  Bowl games—they’re the guitar hero of sports—oh you can play “One” by Metallica?  Wait, just on this retarded joystick?  That’s meaningless (support GUITARMAGEDDON!).

I cottoned to Sports Illustrated’s idea that the first round of the playoffs would take place at the higher seeded team’s home field in each matchup.  This would be a huge incentive not to slip below fourth, given how monstrous home field is for many college teams (this would also assume it would be as any home game with ticket priorities and such).  SI also put Hawaii into the 8th pole position and ousted Kansas, the reasoning being that an undefeated squad should get consideration over a one-loss team that didn’t even make it to its conference championship game.  I would also add a rule that if you finish 15th or higher and are undefeated, you are in (although that’s negotiable).  Also, your conference must have a championship to be considered in the voting—I’m looking in your direction Big Ten.  Also, memo to Notre Dame, Re: TPS reports—join a fucking conference; I’m fucking sick of this “exception” bullshit.  You, unlike your god, do not walk on water.  ANYWAY, even though KU made a strong performance against the Virginians in their bowl game, we are going only with pre-bowl though utilizing it to determine potential winners.

First Round:

Hawaii at Ohio State

Both these teams put some stank on their performances in their respective bowl games, but given the home field advantage and potential armed insurrection that would occur in middle Ohio if the Buckeyes lost, one has to go with OSU on this one.

Winner: OSU

USC at LSU:

Now here is potential Armageddon.  Both teams dominated their opponents in the bowls, so that’s no help.  But I give credit to LSU for beating a superior team; and they are the best team if they decide to show up.  Also, a home game at Death Valley cannot be discounted.

Winner: LSU

Missouri at VA Tech:

A snarky one since Mizzou violated their bowl opponent (Arkansas) and the Hokies lost to KU.  The x-factor is the game being played in Blacksburg.  But given that the Hokies lost to the very mediocre BC there in a game tailor made for Tech, I’ll give Mizzou the nod in this one.

Winner: Missouri

Georgia vs. Oklahoma:

Another game I would have called Armageddon had the bowl performances not been so wildly different.  The Sooners were the LSU of the Big Twelve, spanking some good teams with their bevy of talent but failing to show up against lesser opponents (Texas Tech and Colorado?).  They went the bitch route against VA Tech’s coal mining white trash neighbors and Georgia pummeled the decidedly inferior Hawaii, so the Bulldogs are moving on.

Winner: Georgia

ROUND TWO: FIGHT!

violent-mortal-kombat

What OSU’s testicles felt like in the morning.

The Quarterfinals

Ohio State vs. Georgia in the Fiesta Bowl

First of all, fuck the Rose Bowl.  From what I have heard, they are the major impediment to a playoff system.  Take your parade and run it up your ass, you Californian socialists.  To the matter at hand, OSU has no fucking shot here because they’ve consistently taken it in the tits from the SEC the last two years and they’re on  neutral turf.

Winner: Georgia

LSU vs. Missouri in the Orange Bowl:

Although Missouri wrecked a fellow SEC team that beat LSU, I can’t see Missouri, who lost to Oklahoma twice by convincing margins, beating LSU.  This is the biggest tossup besides LSU-USC, but I’d have to go with LSU in this one.

Winner: LSU

FINALS:

LSU vs. Georgia in the Sugar Bowl sponsored by “Pour Some Sugar on Me

Ugh, an all SEC championship.  Just what we need to give the South the impression they will rise again.  Who knows in this game.  Georgia lost to Tennessee and LSU beat the Volunteers even though they half-assed it, so we’re gonna have to break the bottle (break it up) on LSU.

Winner: Lousiana State University

And thus, we wind up with the same champion as the current BCS system and another year of dealing with these fuckheads.  What does this tell us?  Although playoffs may indeed lead to the identical champion, it’s a lot more fun getting there (especially given the LSU-USC tossup).

Alan Greenspan shills for the gold standard in the long ago time:  “In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holding illegal, as was done in the case of gold. If everyone decided, for example, to convert all his bank deposits to silver or copper or any other good, and thereafter declined to accept checks as payment for goods, bank deposits would lose their purchasing power and government-created bank credit would be worthless as a claim on goods.” The financial policy of the ever-expanding state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves.  Dr. Greenspan became more mad scientist than scourge of the etatist during his stint at the Fed, but is he getting back to his roots?

Carl seems to have forgiven Eli Manning for has past transgressions.  Lawrence Tynes is still on death watch.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

When the NFL fails you miserably, what recourse do you have?  I am increasingly becoming swayed by the argument that the bye week between the conference championships and the super bowl is fucking retarded.  “The buzz is supposed to build and injuries to heal!”  Fuck that, this is like taking a break while on a bender.  You start to get whoozy before realizing it’s three in the afternoon and you’re going to be hungover by five if you don’t get back on the trolley.  So the light bulb of disaster goes off in your addled brain and you think, “I’d be shitty and sick and it’s five for one tacos at Jimmy’s Mexi-shack!  That would suck!  I should start mainlining Robotussin!”  Thus, given that there are no games this weekend (a fact Big Daddy Drew is none too happy about), we’re going to speculate about these playoffs and the Super Bowl beyond.

I’ve spoken of the theoretical “Run Gun” game before but we’re going to saunter into territory unknown today.  Starting a hypothetical RunGun league would probably entail about eight teams.  The idea is to get fairly large markets with little or no competition from the NFL.  So here’s the obvious two:

  1. The Hollywood Hulk Hogans (Los Angeles) – Hulk isn’t doing anything since Three Ninja: High Noon at Mega Mountain, so he’ll be free for this venture.
  2. The Las Vegas Goulets – sadly, Robert Goulet died last year, but this is nothing Will Ferrell couldn’t take over:

From there, it gets a bit trickier.  We’ll go with cities that are big enough for the NFL and RunGun:

  1. Coney Island Warriors (New York) – although I would also have this as an NBADL team, who wouldn’t want to root for the Warriors?  Come out and play.  [Note this is the second time, I’ve referred to this movie in OBR].
  1. The Chicago LSD – that’s Lake Shore Drive for you heathens out there.

Then you’ve got find four more teams that don’t have too much of a college or NFL following:

  1. Hartford Whalers – who couldn’t be sadder that Connecticut lost its only professional sports team?  That will change and PETA be damned.  Besides Hartford?  The Whale?  They only beat Vancouver once, maybe twice in a lifetime.
  2. Des Moines Flying Monks – Des Moines means “of the monks” in French.  For their pregame, they could just play the entire scene from Holy Grail involving the French.  This would be their jersey.
  3. St. Louis Empyre – after the Rams blew their dynasty this should be a shoo-in.
  4. The Albequerque Bugs – bugs bunny always was trying to get there, it’s time he finally arrived.  I would have used “isotopes”, but that was taken.

Welcome to America, rabbit!  First lesson is “FUCK YOU”!

Naturally, I would imagine a four team playoff, however, the fourth team, given RunGun’s bifurcated structure of offense and defense, would be a true wildcard—namely the best defense and best offense of the remaining five teams.  That is, whoever ranked the highest in offense and defense, forms one team as the wild card.

So what if the NFL worked this way – who would have been the wildcards this year?  In the AFC, Tennessee, as the lowest seed and record, would be in the potential wild card pool while Pittsburg, Jacksonville, San Diego, Indy and New England would be in as their regular teams.  We determine the best offense and defense using the combined z-scores for yards per game and points per game.  Using this stat, the Cleveland Browns and Derek “Horse Balls” Anderson best all takers on offense, coming in at #7 in the NFL as a whole.  On the NFC side, Washington is included in the field for the wild card while Green Bay, Dallas, Seattle, New York, and Tampa are in the playoffs as a whole.  That means the New Orleans’ offense is your winner at #6 barely beating out Arizona.  On defense, Cleveland’s offense would be teaming up with playoff contender Tennessee’s defense, which came in at #8, while the Drew Brees and his BirthMark Prophecy will be in league with Philadelphia Eagles d, coming in at #9.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, I am going to guarantee it now: I WILL BUY THE SUPER BOWL MVP’S JERSEY IF THE GIANTS WIN AND GIVE IT AWAY IN NEW YORK CITY.  This is how much I hate the Patriots—I’m seriously considering buying a New York team’s jersey.

As for the commercials during football games, many have commented on this fact but the ads are usually geared towards erectile dysfunction, beer and investing.  So basically, I need a top gun stock portfolio (which ain’t happening lately) combined with beer goggles and an unholy hardon in order to roger my wife’s wrinkled, half-a-century old vagina.  I think Patton Oswalt put this all into perspective:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

That being said, the idea of younger fellas taking Viagra or cialis in order to go for a sexual congress filibuster is something I can get behind.  Because there’s nothing I want more than my manstaff to become chaffed and raw from pounding a disinterested vagina for the better part of a cricket game and finally turning into something resembling the things from Slither.

ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ

This Week’s Stephen Colbert’s Guitarmageddon Toss of the Gauntlet:

THE CLASSICS, Metallica’s “One”.  One is an antiwar song I’ve already mentioned here.  The movie clips are from Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun:

Obligatory Jimi Hendrix Riff – “Hey Joe”, live and in jive.  The last feature was another remake by Hendrix, Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”:

Double Black Diamond: Joe Satriani is decked out in leather and he definitely wears his sunglasses at night.  All the shred, all the time with Satch:

For acoustic guitar fun: Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones defies nature by playing a three-necked acoustic guitar.  I’m still holding out for the electric keytar/acoustic guitar combo:

ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ

This If You Don’t Like This Video, I Don’t Like You:

Mike Tyson’s Brunch Out:Vodpod videos no longer available.

SIGNED: MCWOP, FAIT A ST. LOUIS, 1/27/08




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