Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Voices We Need to Hear

If everyone on the blue team talked like this and the red team reciprocated (or vice versa), I'd like that:
I get what you’re saying, but there’s a difference between rebuilding Japan because you beat the hell out of them in a war, and rebuilding them just because you feel like you could make their country a better place. The first is a no-brainer, the second is a tough sell as far as explaining why it’s in the national interest of the US. Let’s take a step back for a second.

Assume, for the sake of argument, that everybody knew in 2002 what we know today (no WMD’s, no collaborative relationship between Saddam and al-Qaeda). It’s hard to even talk about the idea of invading Iraq in this context, because it’s obvious that as a political matter it never would have happened. But beyond that, you can make the case that we should have done it anyway (freeing the Iraqi people, etc), but you’d have to explain why it’s significantly different from liberating Burma, or any of the other things we’d never consider doing even though they would have some good effects (like a free Burma).

Anyway, I think your argument basically boils down to “maybe we screwed up on WMD’s, but we still accomplished a good thing while being there.” Setting aside the point that I don’t think the good thing, standing alone, was worth the cost, it really burns me up that the administration didn’t at least do it right. You know the things I’m talking about, the failure to plan for the post-war phase, the failure to put enough troops in place to secure the country, the failure to control episodes like Abu Ghraib that ended any chance of proving to the Middle East that we were the good guys. I accept that you probably disagree with some or all of these criticisms but we’ve been over them a thousand times, I’m not looking to have the argument again now. I’d add to this the point that the administration never asked the public to sacrifice anything for the war, indeed they continued to push tax cuts, ensuring that our kids and grandkids will pick up the trillion-dollar cost of this adventure.

Other things burn me up about this blunder as well: the squandering of all the capital we had with the international community after 9/11, the diversion of resources from more important targets in the war on terror, and particularly the failure to get bin Laden. God, I know taking out bin Laden doesn’t end the threat of terrorism, but it still just kills me that this guy perpetrated a mass murder just down the street from me and the most powerful country in the world hasn’t been able to bring him to justice for it, over four years later. No man should be beyond our reach if we truly make it our priority, I just feel this as a matter of national pride, I hate that he’s out there laughing at us.

I hope that explains some of where I come from on this whole ordeal. Frankly, as far as the decision to go to war, I’d be willing to completely drop the issue of prewar intelligence if we could somehow declare a cease-fire between the “Bush lied” faction and the “liberals are pro-Saddam” faction. The thing is that I really didn’t enjoy watching the last election become a referendum on a war that we fought 30 years ago, and 30 years from today I don’t want to see our country still divided over the goddamn stupid Iraq war.

Reasonable, well-reasoned and an olive-branch extended. Meet you in the middle.

Another Port Irony

Dan Drezner has an interesting post regarding Portgate. Money bit, after discussing how the oversight process worked:
If you're a true-blue liberal, you should be perfectly delighted with this outcome. The Bushies did not have a high profile, there was no stovepiping from neoconservatives, and the interagency process seemed to work pretty well. This is, in other words, an exemple of how good government is supposed to operate.

Of course, if you're a red-meat conservative, this is just awful. Unelected bureaucrats and low-level flunkies ran the show. The Commander-in-Chief was out of the loop. Bureaucrats were telling politics what to do, rather than vice versa. This is exactly the kind of thing the Bush administration was not supposed to let happen.

If his premises are right, that is interesting. And yet another way up is down when it comes to this story.

PoohsDay Blues: Big Boys

There's a certain, archetypical, electric bluesman. The large, gravel-throated, sweaty performer who'se working hard for you, so by god you work hard for him. Generally speaking, these guys are my favorites, and in honor of Fat Tuesday this week's ten are from the Blues Big Boys.

  1. "Moanin' at Midnight" - Howlin' Wolf. The Archetype's archetype. Chester Burnett was by all accounts 300 pounds of fury on stage. For setting a mood of paranoia, it's something of a toss up between the opening of this song and that of The Stone's "Paint It Black"
  2. "I Ain't Superstitious" - Willie Dixon. One of the early guys to get it, in that the money to be made was not in performing but in producing and writing. One of the real impresarios of the early blues.
  3. "Right Place, Wrong Time" - Doctor John. Hey it's Mardi Gras, we have to have a little N'Awlins flair, right?
  4. "Hook" - Blues Traveler. John Popper seems to have gone out of his way to play the role. Probably good for the career, more probably bad for the health.
  5. "Sweet Sixteen" - B.B. King. My favorite is the performance from Kinshasa about halfway through "When We Were Kings. (great film, btw, even if it is something of a hagiography of Ali, overlooking some of the ugly things he did, such as his treatment of Frazier, and worse his visciousness against Floyd Patterson and especially the "What's my Name" fight with Ernie Terrell.
  6. "Mannish Boy (psychadelic)" - McKinley Morganfield, though his friends called him Muddy. Electric Mud is an amazing, if deeply flawed album. In many ways, Muddy was Jimi before Jimi was Jimi, though this album was obviously inspired by the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
  7. "Soul Man" - Blues Brothers. John Belushi's life is so the blues. Plus, these guys were a damn good band absent the SNL connection.
  8. "Born Under a Bad Sign" - Albert King. I may have mentioned it before, but this is probably my single favorite blues recording ever. The simple scale riff plus King's throaty, phleghmy even singing is what it's all about, if you ask me.
  9. "I Can't Be Satisfied" - Muddy, again. Some people are so nice, you have to name them twice, just like
  10. "Killing Floor" - The Wolf. As he said, built for comfort, he ain't built for speed. Naturally, I can relate.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Kinda Sorta

You Are Austin

A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.
You're totally weird and very proud of it.
Artistic and freaky, you still seem to fit in... in your own strange way.

Famous Austin residents: Lance Armstrong, Sandra Bullock, Andy Roddick, Fletcher, and Vince Young's wonderous Wonderlic score (I'm not saying, I'm just saying.)

I've been there twice and liked it ok. Though the survey doesn't include the Midwest as far as geography. Flyover country, dissed again. I miss Al's Breakfast...

Seeing Less of Me?

If my blogging seems lighter than usual, it's because I'm trying to become lighter than usual. As often happens, the winter months have added greatly to Pooh's mirth. (And by mirth, I usually mean girth.) So you might see less of Pooh so that should we meet there will be less of Pooh to see. Plus, I'm going to be 30. Someday, and once that happens the whole 'getting in shape' thing will be much harder.

Basically, that's my long-winded way of saying that my online time will be reduced until they add laptops to the elliptical at my gym. That is all, carry on...

Thoughts on SoDak Roe-bait Law

By now you've probably heard about South Dakota's proposed legislation which would ban virtually all abortions.

I'm not going to say much about the merits other than I think it's terrible from a policy standpoint considering the lack of rape or incest exceptions. It's also ridiculous that doctors will be criminally liable for performing the procedure but not women who receive it. You want to talk about infantalising women's choices regarding reproduction...

I wouldn't argue that abortion is 'good', but I will say that treating it as the cause rather than a symptom of larger social issues is incredibly myopic. I find the agenda of anti-choice plus "abstinence only" education both morally imperialistic (I can respect if your religion says no premarital sex and no contrception, but mine doesn't) and completely divorced from reality. Plus, I tend to agree with the guys at LGM<>worded) but if you want to play that particular brand of poker, I see your Roe and raise you a Bush v. Gore and Hamdi.

My intuition is that Jack Balkin is right as to how this will play out:
South Dakota's new abortion legislation has not yet been signed by the Governor. If it becomes law, it will not lead to a challenge to Roe v. Wade or Casey at the Supreme Court. Because the law bans almost all abortions, it will be immediately challenged in a declaratory judgment action, and a preliminary injunction will issue. That injunction will be upheld by the 8th Circuit, and the Supreme Court will deny certiorari. And that will be the end of the matter.
But then someone, somewhere will pass a similar law, and the next ten years of jurisprudence will be straight from a Verizon Wireless ad - "Unconstitutional? How bout now? How bout now?

How about instead of passing a law that will never take effect, and if it does will likely have some particularly nasty effects on certain demographics, take steps to reduce the demand for abortion? Reality-based sex-ed; contraception for those who would choose to use it; programs which make raising children less burdensome to poorer single women, and perhaps a more efficient surrogacy and/or adoption market.*

Alternatively, make a good faith effort to comply with existing law, and perhaps try to push around the edges. (Tactically, this makes more sense anyway.) But this law just smacks of "nullification," which I would have hoped was discredited in the '60s at the very latest.

*It's somewhat ironic to me that the great champions of 'free-markets' always try to alter behavior from the supply side by declaring something illegal and pretending that will make it cease to exist. If history shows us anything it is that demand will always create supply. And illegal markets have enforcement mechanisms which are slightly more unsavory than those that are legal. See, e.g. prohibition.

I hadn't realised how long it has been since I blawged here until I got blogrolled as a 'blawg' (thanks, btw, Angelica. Always warms my little bloggy heart...as Carly Simon says, I'm so vane...) Partially it's because I feel somewhat constrained by my job, but mostly that some of the big 'legal' issues have been beaten to death by those who are both better bloggers and smarter lawyers than myslef, but I'll try to do it a little more often.


This is cool all, but how do you not induct Buck O'Neil? The man is 94 years-old and is your greatest ambassador. In addition, he's a marvelous raconteur and could give one of the best induction speeches of all time, so it might be a good idea to try and get him in while he's still living. Nice job again, Major League Baseball. At least you have the wonderfully planned World Baseball Classic to look forward to.

From the "Be Careful What You Wish For Files"

Well, Indiana University basketball 'fans', you've got your wish, Mike Davis coached his last game at Assembly Hall last night. If this comes to pass, I think you'll have gotten what you deserve, you filthy ingrates (free reg. req.):
The Indiana University coaching position comes open after this season. Before he came to New York, [Isaiah] Thomas had serious conversations with IU officials about replacing Mike Davis. Thomas can't manufacture a more flawless face-saving excuse to bolt the Knicks than to accept (if offered) his "dream job."
Never did a fanbase and a coach deserve each other more. Let's see what we can do to make this happen.

While on the subject of the Hoosier state, between fans and alumni treatment of Mike Davis and Ty Willingham, you better Check Yourself, Indiana college sports. I'm not saying, I'm just saying...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

"More Tears Are Shed Over Answered Prayers Than Unanswered Ones."

So reads the epigraph of Truman Capote's last (unfinished) work.

It's a suitable capstone to "Capote". As I mentioned in my post on the first half of the GNGL/Capote double feature, this movie is fantastic.

The two things I want to mention are this: P.S. Hoffman is a genius. At no point after he starts speaking is it anything but 'Truman Capote' on the screen. It is never 'P.S. Hoffman playing Truman Capote.' Of the major American actors working today, the only one who similarly disappears into a role is, to my mind, Tom Hanks. Washington, Pacino, Freeman, you are always aware of the actor...acting. For what it's worth, I'm even more aware of this for female actors, especially the 'playing ugly for an Oscar' move. Or, as I will now refer to it, The Theron.

The second matter is violence. I find it curious that people get upset with the literally cartoonish violence of Kill Bill I or the Evil Dead series. Much harsher I find the realistic, personal violence both shown and implied in films like "One False Move." The most disturbing scene, for me, in "Saving Private Ryan" was not the Normandy Beach sequence, but the knife fight. I'm not sure I've been able to watch that scene straight through since the first time I saw the move.

My point is this, "Capote" at one point transposes shocking, graphic depictions of the murders with the psychological and emotional violence done to the killers by Capote in his self-serving machinations. I think the tole taken is best illustrated by the way Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr. got robbed for no "Best Supporting" nomination) meets his execution with dignity and a degree of calm, going so far as to shake the hand of the Sheriff, telling him "Good to see you" on his way to the gallows. It is not the calm of a sociopath, rather one who has accepted his sins and is ready to go. By comparison, Capote is a shattered man, drinking himself to death over the guilt of what he done to two convicted men, living proof of the aphorism "be careful what you wish for..."

Pooh's View: Top class, in that Mystic River, "I want to hang myself now" way.

Thoughts From a Hoops Overloaded Weekend

Since it snowed about 10 inches here, and the roads resemble a Bobsled course, without the banked turns...or really bumpers of any kind, (actually perhaps it most resembled a curling rink (? course? court? field? throw me a bone here...) I didn't make it too far from the La-Z-Boy, and instead watched a whole lot of basketball. J.J. broke the ACC scoring record (yawn, though the game did remind me what a sports snob I am, as I was watching with two Duke law grads who were trying to decide which of J.J. and Paulus were cuter. Bad, bad times.) 'Stache was underwhelming but the Zags still won, etc. So to clear space for something more useful, a memory dump of sorts is in order:
  • Speaking of Gonzaga, teams like that (really good teams from really bad conferences) are always, always vastly overrated in the final Polls. They've been playing Pepperdine and Pacfic while Conneticut has been playing Pittsburgh and Marquette. But the way the polls work is, if you lose you move down. The Zags haven't lost in forever, but they really haven't had a losable game in a few months. They're no better than the 7th best team in reality (Duke, 'Nova, Memphis, Texas, Tennessee, West Va. in case you're wondering . George Washington falls roughly into the same category of 'Good team, bad conference')
  • Speaking of UCONN, I'm really not sure how any team has come within 20 of them all-season. On their game, they beat the Knicks by 12. Of course when your point guard is an admitted felon, it may be an indication that there is a certain knucklehead factor getting in the way of peak performance.
  • Now that Sam Cassell is on the downside of his career, I'm glad that Delonte West is in the league to ensure that the All-Ugly team has a point guard into the next decade:

Rounding out the current squad, Adonal Foyle, Hedo Turkoglu, Ervin Johnson and Sasha Pavlovic. Charlie Villanueva is DQ'ed, as beings from Kronos don't count:

  • Villanova is my favorite team to watch, as a neutral observer, in a long while, with West Virginia and Washington being runners up. Nova's Kyle Lowry reminds me a little of Bobby Jackson from the great Gopher team that never was. (I'm not sure there's a stupider rule than the 'expunging' of NCAA records for past rules violations. It was the Final 3 in 1997?)
  • My Texas pick is looking better and better. Man did they put a whuppin on Kansas.
Two weeks til Selection Sunday, 18 days til my favorite day of the year. I have to remember to call in sick well in advance...

Incidentally, any readers out there interested in a WAP bloggoffice pool? Prizes and such up for negotiation...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Anchorage Lawn Ornaments (And other photo goodies)

The bushes in the background are about 4 yards from the driveway of Chez-Mortnut

And, because I care

Tyge the congressional watchdog. Long story short Papa Pooh and the SlatRat were part of the "Bridges to Nowhere" team for a costumed road race. How this:

was only good enough for second place is beyond me...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Big Music Friday: Themeless Wonder

Shuffling with Iggy iPod...no whammys no whammys no whammys STOP!

  1. "Boom Boom" - Big Head Todd and the Monsters w/ John Lee Hooker - From the soundtrack of "The Waterboy", a movie I thouroughly enjoyed, and I'm not ashamed to say it. Solid soundtrack as well.
  2. "Cabron" - Red Hot Chili Peppers - Just a goofy little ditty, which is the kind of thing a long-running band can get away with after having been on top forever.
  3. "In The Hall of the Mountain King" - Edvard Grieg. If there has ever been a piece of evil which proclaimed "nefarious scheming in progress" this is it. Hence it's appearance in about a gazillion movie trailers.
  4. "The Magnificient Seven" - The Clash.
  5. "Break" - The Kleptones - From "A Night At The Hip-Hopera", a mash-up album, (which I may or may not have acquired legally, so far as you know) putting rap vocals over some of Queen's more operatic instrumentals. This one features the Beasties, primarily "Body Movin'". My favorite track has ODB's "I Got Your Money" over "Another One Bites the Dust".
  6. "American Idiot" - Green Day.
  7. "Back In Black (Live)" - AC/DC.
  8. "Killing in the Name" - Rage Against the Machine. Wow, the iPod got a little ornery just there. I need to go smash something now. My dander is up.
  9. "Midnight Rider" - Allman Brothers. Suggested as an alterantive to Skynard for the hillbilly spot in my Blues Rock compilation from this week. Would have worked, especially this song.
  10. "Scenario" - A Tribe Called Quest Ft. Leaders of the New School - The song that brought Busta Rhymes to the masses. Fish-eye lensed videos ensued. And for the heck of it Q-Tip says:

It's the leader Quest mission and we got the goods here (here!)

Never on the left cause my right's my good ear (ear!)

I could give a damn about a ill subliminal

Stay away from crime cause I ain't no CRIMINAL

I love my young nation, groovy sensation

No time for hibernation, only elation

Don't ever try to test, the water little kid

Yo Mr. Busta Rhymes, tell him what I did


Vince Young Anti-Bandwagon. (Vol. 3).

My low opinion of Vince Young's prospects are in the record, and, via Deadspin, I'm not the only one:

1. Matt Leinart USC
2. Jay Cutler Vanderbilt
3. D.J. Shockley Georgia
4. Brodie Croyle Alabama
5. Brett Basanez Northwestern
6. Vince Young Texas
7. Charlie Whitehurst Clemson
8. Omar Jacobs Bowling Green
9. Kellen Clemons Oregon
10. Paul Pinegar Fresno State
Presumably, the people who put the list together know a thing or two about football.

Raised Eyebrow: Illinois Gubernatorial Edition

A few weeks ago I wondered if guests on the Colbert Report knew he was parodying a real news show. Apparently, not always at least as far as Colbert's partner in crime, The Daily Show, is concerned:
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich wasn't in on the joke.

Blagojevich says he didn't realize "The Daily Show" was a comedy spoof of the news when he sat down for an interview that ended up poking fun at the sometimes-puzzled governor.

"It was going to be an interview on contraceptives ... that's all I knew about it," Blagojevich laughingly told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in a story for Thursday's editions. "I had no idea I was going to be asked if I was 'the gay governor.' "
But in an age when The Onion is often the best prognosticator of future stories...

Snark Free Sports Link of the Month

Anyone not among the three of us who watched TNT's "Inside the NBA" all the way to the end last night may have missed this story:
GREECE, N.Y. — Jason McElwain had done everything he was asked to do for the Greece Athena High School basketball team — keep the stats, run the clock, hand out water bottles.

That all changed last week for the team manager in the final home game of the season. The 17-year-old senior, who is autistic and usually sits on the bench in a white shirt and black tie, put on a uniform and entered the game with his team way ahead.

McElwain proceeded to hit six 3-point shots, finished with 20 points and was carried off the court on his teammates' shoulders.

You can watch the video here (via Critical Fanatic). The crowd goes legitimately and truly nuts. It got a little dusty in my apartment...

Thursday, February 23, 2006


George Will knots bow too tightly, cuts off circulation to brain. This week's blogospheric Rorschach Test of a column ensues.

Update 2/24: One of Ezra's commenters weighs in thusly:
My kids are much happier than I am: I have to run around six hours a day cleaning up their fucking messes, while all they have to do is make them.

Do we see another Democratic/Republican parallel here, George Will?
Zing! (Did I really just type "Zing" and add the "!"? You're damn right I did. Deal.)

Gripe: If It Bleeds (Even Virtually) It Leads

The lede for one of the local news programs was something along the lines of "Technological advancement has opened up many new avenues. But it has also exposed your children to predators. Watch [Blank]News tonight to learn how to protect your children." Snarkily, I would say not to worry, because they can't get you through the computer screen. Yet. (Muahahahahaha).

Now, I'm 28 (almost more) years old, and for as long as I can remember, local and often national news has been hyped with these boogeyman stories. I forget, is salmon good or bad for me this week, as I have to plan my lunch tommorow, and I care about the children.

My point is, with all these 'predators' and 'killers', how have we survived this long? Or do they sponsor aerial predator hunts to cut down the numbers that I'm just not hearing about? I know someone who might be interested in participating.

You had to feel that one coming...

Not Going Away Quietly

Any port in a storm? (Sorry, had to). Anyway, this one doesn't seem to be dying down. To echo Colbert from last night, I'm still definitely maybe concerned. That being said, there is certainly reason to believe that security wise, this is no big issue (aside from the more general porousness of our port facilities). Scott at LGM, never the biggest of Bush supporters, make the case well:
None of these arguments, however, to my mind fully address the narrow but still important question about whether there's any reason to be particularly concerned by the fact that Dubai Ports World will operate some points. We already have ports being operated by extremely bad authoritarian regimes, and I don't think anybody has suggested that these ports are particularly insecure. More importantly, all of the critiques of the Bush administration, in this narrow context, prove too much . . . But this doesn't explain why DPW getting the operating contract, in particular, is problematic. I'm definitely open-minded; maybe it is particularly bad. I'm certainly up for hearings and more transparency (and the deal is dead in any case.) But I haven't really seen an argument directly on point so far.
I have concerns particular to DPW: the government ownership for one and my perception that there is a slightly looser ethic regarding business oversight in the UAE than their is here. These concerns are somewhat mitigated by the fact that those in charge in Dubai have to know that Very Bad things will happen to them if something were to go wrong on their watch. Of course to the extent that we're worried about a non-state actor to whom traditional deterrence theories don't apply, it's somewhat of a crapshoot, especially considering that the U.S. is not exactly popular among the UAE populous.

As an aside, speaking of hearings and transparency:
Yet why the president was ill-informed on the deal remains puzzling. One explanation is that Mr. Bush and his senior staff couldn't brief Congress, because they didn't know. The panel that makes the decisions, The Committee on Foreign Investments, is not run by high-level cabinet members listed on its Web site. Instead they usually rubber-stamp decisions made by staffers, Borger reports.

"The committee almost never met, and when it deliberated it was usually at a fairly low bureaucratic level," Richard Perle said. Perle, who has worked for the Reagan, Clinton and both Bush administrations added, "I think it's a bit of a joke."

Anyway, my passionate ambivalence is driven largely by my worry that my seemingly (to my eyes) measured concerns are still the result of getting slightly caught up in the jingoism of it all. ("Oh my goodness, it is the United Arab Emirates after all".) If it had been the government of Kazahstan making the purchase, the only way I would have even heard about it would have been through a Borat pronouncement.

The incomparable (in many, many ways) Dennis the Peasant has been decrying the 'playing of the Muslim-card' of those on both the left and right since before this controversy broke, and it's worth quoting one of his earlier posts at length before moving on:
One of the big reasons the attacks of September 11, 2001 succeeded was because we, collectively, thoughtlessly, dismissed a growing, and in retrospect, obvious threat. We dismissed it for a number of reasons, but primarily we dismissed it because we did not bother to understand what was happening around us. We didn’t understand the nature the threat because we didn’t understand who our enemies were and why they wished to destroy us. And, collectively, we chose to ignore the accumulating evidence that this enemy would do us grievous harm... and largely for reasons we should be ashamed of. We saw non-Westerners, non-Judeo-Christians and assumed, incorrectly, that we were facing a foe incapable of delivering a hurtful blow. They were the ‘Other’, and as such, they were nothing more than The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight; they were dangerous to an extent, but essentially limited by their ‘Otherness’. We could deal with their threat on our terms and at our leisure because we were white and Judeo-Christian and Western and therefore superior.

Now that it is clear that al-Qaeda can Shoot Straight, it would seem obvious that if we are to protect ourselves we need to drop some of the notions and beliefs that served us so poorly leading up to September 11. This is especially true of those who have believed in and supported the escalation of the War on Terror by backing President Bush’s decision to depose the Ba’athist regime in Iraq. I have not taken the decision to support sending Americans to fight and die in Iraq lightly. It is something I have agonized upon... and still agonize upon. And it seems beyond argument that people who have taken the same position as I have owe it to those in harm’s way that we demand our government to come to a much clearer understanding of our enemy and the threat he poses than either before September 11, 2001 or March 20, 2003. Anything less leads to more dead Americans... both in and out of the military.

If such a demand is reasonable – that our government expend the time, effort and treasure to ferret out the truth of who actually is our enemy – it seems equally reasonable to expect the same of myself. This is not to say that I am, will be or could be an expert in Islam, Middle Eastern culture, politics and history. It is not necessary for every citizen to become any of those things. But what is necessary is to understand what part our pre-September 11 attitudes contributed to that particular disaster.
(Emphasis mine. Read the whole thing, as well as anything else he's written on the subject.)

To a degree, we've all been guilty of not doing this. As I mentioned earlier, the mere mention of UnitedArabEmirates controlling are ports has caused a near universal nutty to be tossed. So it behooves us to try and unpack the "Russkies are coming" factor from more legitimate issues.

That being said, if you, have been seriously concerned about actual port security, as for example, Chuck Shumer (or Kevin Drum or Matt Yglesias) has been for some time, can you pass up on using this conflagration to get the issue addressed, even if you know/suspect that this particular issue is a non-story? That is a big, weighty question (which I think is generalizble to many issues in an election year) and I don't have a good answer yet. Playing politics, doesn't neccesarily mean you are wrong on the merits, but it seems like it must neccesarily increase the likelihood.

Failing Upwards with Isaiah Thomas

Parts of this post have been sitting in my 'drafts' folder for some time, because Zeke is becoming something of a soft-target, but yesterday's news just beggars belief:
Steve Francis is headed to New York under a deal agreed to Wednesday by the Knicks and the Orlando Magic. . .The teams agreed to a trade of Francis for Penny Hardaway and Trevor Ariza
What the hell is he doing? It's conceivable that this deal makes them marginally better on the floor, now. But, the Knicks are 15-3738, the second worst record in the league, so they aren't going anywhere this year. Their first round pick is going to the Bulls in the Eddy Curry deal, and they are already a billion dollars over the cap for next season, so help is not on the way.

Plus, they had to give up Ariza, who I think is a promising young player. Further, the 'addition' of Francis (along with Jalen Rose) will undoubtedly cut into Nate Robinson's minutes, slowing his growth, to be sure. Something tells me that Jamal Crawford isn't going to take well to being the 4th-string shooting guard. It's not exactly going to be the Love Boat in Madison square.

Ah, the happy couple.

Plus from an aesthetic standpoint, they are going to be utterly unwatchable. Dribble-dribble-dribble-carrythatisntcalledthinkingaboutpassing (deep breath) dribble-dribble-shotclockat2-offbalanceJ, brick, and we're going the other way. Repeat 40 times or more per game as needed. Really, all that needs to happen for Larry Brown's head to explode is to bring The Perfessor in for an extended tryout.

So what's the plan here? They are likely already over the cap for 2007/8 and 2008/2009 with the addition of Stevie Franchise's $16.4 and $17.2mil guarantees for those two years. Plus. this is Isaiah-freaking-Thomas we are talking about, so one can't rule out future "oooh shiny" Jerome Jamesian signings or a trade of Channing Frye for Brian Scalabrine because Zeke thinks redheads play harder.

One Simmons reader has a theory:
My friend Ryan and I were talking about the Stevie Francis trade and we're pretty sure that some day we are going to find out how Isiah Thomas and the team owners are profiting from this, and it's going to retroactively become the great sports scandal in history. Our current theory is that it all comes back to MJ somehow. It all stems from the gambling ring Gretsky and Jordan started when they were doing voices for the "Superstars" cartoon show in the '80s. Miffed at the physical beating he would take in the playoffs from the Knicks, MJ set a diabolical plan in motion which has spanned decades. Each of his retirements somehow furthered this plan, but we're not sure how. Although the conspiracy was originally formulated for revenge the ring now has one ultimate result: the return of Bo Jackson. I mean, it sounds crazy, but not as crazy as actually wanting the most expensive worst team in the league. Bo knows conspiracies.
Better than anything I've got. I'm almost at the point where I'll buy anything. The closest anyone has come to explaining it, is this half-brained, kool-aid addled scheme:
I understand that this concept is eternally confusing, but the Knicks are not trying to ever get under the cap, nor should they.

As long as they always have an big expiring contract around, they can accomplish absolutely anything a team under the cap can accomplish. And Zeke has correctly staggered his expiring contracts - that was what the Davis-Rose deal was all about.

. . .

In other words, there's no downside for Zeke to pick up Stevie Franchise if he thinks it'll put an interesting squad on the court this year and next year while Curry and Frye are developing. If the Marbury/Francis backcourt doesn't play out, there's no downside to just putting one of the two on the bench.

. . .

Or to put it another way, the model for the Knicks is the 90's Yankees: just keep leveraging the fact that you have considerably more dollars to spend than anyone else to keep acquiring talent that others are abandoning for money reasons, and let the money advantage gradually play itself out.
Even if that is the "plan", it's a monstrously stupid one, with very little chance of success. And by very little chance, I meant that I'll be on the first Knicks team to win a championship under Zeke's, er, leadership.

A few weeks ago, there was an extended hit piece on Zeke in the NY Daily News. Nothing those of us who have watched with shock and awe as Isaiah managed to fail upward (with more rapidity than anyone who isn't threatening to veto inteference with port-administration deals) haven't seen before [belated cheap shot alert]. [A cheap shot against the President, who could be legitimately insulted by being mentioned in the same breath as Zeke. If Thomas was running things, they may well have "Surrounded us in the [our] tanks." If Larry Brown does end up offing himself, Baghdad Bob is the next Knicks coach, I guaran-darn-tee.] But there was this money quote from Zeke bobo Brendan Suhr:

I think the way we're running the business - we're not proud of our won/loss record [Pooh: don't sell you self short, there are tons of teams that would love to have 15 win seasons. Of course, they all play in the NFL] - but I'll tell you what, our business record is very strong. What leaders do, they define reality every day and then they create hope and optimism for the people that work for them.
Such 'Magical Thinking' may work in some contexts, but when there is an actual (as opposed to metaphorical) scoreboard, not so much. You can say that Stephon Marbury is the best point guard in basketball all that you want. But there are these things called 'games' and they get 'played', and there are 'results' and 'statistics' that get 'written down' and 'published' in something we used to call 'newspapers' before the advent of these here IntraWebs.

How did that TNT tagline from last year's playoffs go? "Let the Truth Be Told?" Isaiah Thomas isn't qualified to run a junior-varsity girl's summer league team. How's that for telling some truth?

Addendum: Deadspin has a roundup of reactions, including one that indicates why Miami Heat fans should be concerned by this deal:
While most of New York is skeptical, after all wouldn’t you be when a team is 15-38? One former Knick coach isn’t based on this comment to the STAR LEDGER:

“I think they’ve turned the corner. They’ve accumulated a tremendous amount of talent. Ever since he’s (Isiah’s) come here, the talent level has gone through the roof. That’s all I know. Now, whether or not that’s going to work one day, is going to be up to whoever coaches the team. … I think it’s a gift for the Knicks, basically.” - Pat Riley
Perhaps Riles has watched the clip of himself getting piked on to start the 1966 NCAA Championship game from the end credits of Glory Road one time too many. He may have lost it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Before I Forget

Happy Birthday, mom.

A Follow Up on Fukuyama

To continue from my previous post on F2, I thought I'd pass on, via an ObWi commenter, this response, which notes that Fukuyama is still stuck in a box of sorts:
But the contradiction in Fukuyama's own analysis -- he says the Administration essentially believed two things at once (that America should change the world by force, and that democracy will always right the world on its o wn) -- leads him to get the Administration's actions wrong.

This is because the Administration's failure to plan for the post-invasion Iraq had less to do with its ideas of democracy than with its failure to appreciate the idea and art of governance.
I'm not sure this distinction can be oversold - the situation in Iraq is as much, if not more, a failure of action as it is a failure of ideas. But Fukuyama's disenchantment leaves him casting about for new ideas, while ignoring the need for a cogent plan of action. Sometimes you have to say it: it's the policy, stupid. And that's why, reluctantly most of the time, I consider myself a Realist.

Asshole of the Week: I Would Never EatWork Here Anyway

In the throws of a job search myself, I get a peculiar and not entirely laudable pleasure from seeing other job-seekers in my field implode spectacularly. You may have heard about this, but let me quote certain aspects of the email exchange:
Korman was miffed that Abdala notified him by e-mail this month that, after tentatively agreeing to work at his law firm, she changed her mind. Her reason: ''The pay you are offering would neither fulfill me nor support the lifestyle I am living."

In his e-mail reply, Korman told Abdala that her decision not to have told him in person ''smacks of immaturity and is quite unprofessional," and noted that in anticipation of her arrival, he had ordered stationery and business cards for her, reformatted a computer, and set up an e-mail account. Nevertheless, he wrote, ''I sincerely wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors."

Her curt retort: ''A real lawyer would have put the contract into writing and not exercised any such reliance until he did so."

(Closed-circuit to upcoming law graduates, you know nothing about practicing law yet. I don't think your hundred page Contracts outline is going to impress anybody. Sit down, shut up, stop thinking (bad for the team), and start reviewing documents in 6-minute intervals. That is all, back to your regularly scheduled rant.)
His: ''Thank you for the refresher course on contracts. This is not a bar exam question. You need to realize that this is a very small legal community, especially the criminal defense bar. Do you really want to start pissing off more experienced lawyers at this early stage of your career?"
A sensible question, though a certain degree of...brusqueness might be considered a good thing in a new attorney. However
Abdala's final three-word response: ''bla bla bla."
Too far, madam, you go too far.

Something about the whole incident makes me think of the Monty Python How Not to Be Seen sketch - "Ms. Abdala will you stand up please?" Which also allows me to gloat:

Abdala, a self-decribed "trust-fund baby" (of another Boston-area lawyer. I'm sure he'll take no shit at all from the local judiciary for the next few months: "I'm not sure how it happens in your house, Mr. Abdala, but we try to keep it civil in my courtroom,") is less than chastened:
I'm more worried about whether I've left my hair iron on than this little email exchange
Because that's what I'd want in an attorney - attention to the little things detail.

Update: In the comments, Frankie tries to let facts get in the way of a good smear.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

PoohsDay Blues: The Spirit if Not the Form

I may have mentioned previously that I introduced myself to the blues in a sort of accidental way - in my teens, listening to the Black Crowes, and the Stones, and Jimi there was a certain something in the songs that I liked best that I couldn't put my finger on. The first time the 'blues' element occured to me was reading one review or another about Clapton's unplugged and the slowed-down 'bluesy' version of "Layla" was described in those terms. From there I got into Jimi's instrumental version of "Born Under a Bad Sign", and probably listened to it 25 times in a row.

So naturally, when a class on Blues History was offered while I was in college, I jumped at it. Unsurprisingly, I recall much more from that class than from more 'important' subjects like Econ or Political Science.

But I still enjoy music with 'bluesiness' as much as either accoustic or electric blues. So today's ten are drawn from songs which have that certain something without being 'blues' records.

  1. "Dust My Broom" - Elmore James. Is it blues? Is it rock? Who cares, it rocks.
  2. "Gimme Three Steps" - Lynard Skynard. For hillbillies, these guys have a whole lot of soul.
  3. "In the Midnight Hour" - The Commitments. R.I.P. Wilson Pickett, plus, I wonder what happened to Andrew Strong. How do you have a voice like that and then are never heard from again?
  4. "Move It On Over" - George Thorougood and the Destroyers. Gives me an excuse to link to Publius's excellent Hank Williams post, (even when he talks about music, he's much better at this "blogging" thing than I am) plus this version absolutely and unabashedly kicks serious ass.
  5. "Stop Breaking Down" - The White Stripes. I think the reason I don't really dig Radiohead or Coldplay is that when it comes to music, for me, simple is often best. Enter The White Stripes.
  6. "Ain't That a Shame" - Fats Domino. I think Fats is vastly underrated, but Ray Charles outlived him by about 40 years, I'm an idiot (thanks, 'Pick), so thems the breaks.
  7. "Runaway" - Bonnie Raitt. She adds a fair bit of balls to the Del Shannon classic.
  8. "Evil Ways" - Santana. With more than just a touch of latin rhythm.
  9. "Jail House Rock" - Elvis Pressley. Fat Elvis, not so much. Rock-a-billy Elvis, "Thank you very much."
  10. "Tutti Frutti" - Little Richard. If Pat Boone is going to hell, it's for trying to do covers of this kind of stuff.

Belated NBA All-Star thought(s)

First of all, this guy is undoubtedly right, Skip Bayless is the haterist hater who ever hated. He argued with a straight face that LeBron's All-Star MVP was the result of the "vast Nike conspiracy" in the NBA. Qua?

Yeah, yeah, yeah Igoudala had the best dunk, but he brought out the big guns way too soon, and didn't have enough left for the finals And Lil' Nate's scaling of Mount Spud is unquestionably the best poster. For the record, I think my "NBA Jam" custom midget character was a better dunker than Nate Robinson. But this is still nasty:

And that leads me, indirectly, into my suggestion for the easiest way to make the NBA All-Star Saturday experience more fan-friendly for the viewer at home - we need a simulcast of the reaction shots of the other players sitting courtside. Ray Allen hits 13 straight treys? We need a slow-mo of Kevin Garnett saying "damn. Damn. DAMN. DAYYYYMN" as each one goes through. And more importantly, the best part of the dunk contest is the goofy responses courtside. Remember after Vinsanity's reverse 360-windmill in 2000, the look on Shaq's face as he stood up holding a camcorder? More of that. According to Simmons, a near riot broke out when Igoudala managed to avoid decapitatitng himself. Would it have killed them to have a camera on Mark Madsen in case he started busting a move?

So, I'll Ask

In what possible universe is allowing this a good idea?
At issue is the purchase last week of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., by Dubai Ports World, a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates, or UAE. Peninsular and Oriental runs major commercial operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.
Yes, you have that right, now operating 6 major east-coast ports is The United Arab Emirates. Unserious about security is the phrase that comes to mind.

I almost don't believe the story. I mean, if you are Karl Rove, and your strategy for the fall is "Security. Ooga-booga-booga" (rough translation), isn't this precisely the kind of headline you don't want?

Update: And this is where he wants to use his first veto?:
Earlier, on Air Force One, Bush told reporters: “I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company. . . "
Big brass ones, is pretty much all I can say. And why veto when he can just authorize the sale in his signing statement anyway...

Update the Second Instapundit offers a plausible, if not wholly convincing set of alternatives:
Either this deal is somehow a lot more important than it seems (a quid pro quo for, well, something . . . ) or Bush is an idiot. Your call.
What, short of the pass key to Iran's nuclear facilities, would be a quid worth this sort of quo? There's nothing else they'd take?

Update the Third: OK, I'm down off the ledge. A few clarifications. First, port security isn't directly implicated, it's a deal for port administration. But watch the second season of The Wire if you think that port administration doesn't have a huge role to play in determining what does and does not get into the country. Second, it's undoubted that there's a racial, possibly even xenophobic, aspect to the outcry. But I will say that this issue is different in kind from, say Japanese purchase of U.S. automakers. Remember it's not just a UAE owned company, it's a UAE government owned country. Also, it's disengenous to claim that the manufacture of pretty much any good is equivalent with a vital strategic interest. Third, it's been pointed out that foreign companies administering U.S. ports is nothing new. That's supposed to make me feel better?

Update the Fourth: Lastly, I have no time for any derivation of the 'but the mideast will hate us if we back out now' argument. Perhaps that should have been considered before, I dunno, invading, detaining and torturing our way through Mesopotamia. Just saying.

Update the Fifth (and hopefully final): Kevin Drum points out why this might be a bigger deal politically than substantively:

  • This isn't a matter of outsourcing a government operation to a private company. P&O has been operating ports in the United States (and the rest of the world) for a long time, and they do it under contract with the port authorities, not the federal government. What's more, there are plenty of port operators in the United States besides P&O that are foreign owned too.

  • P&O doesn't "own" the ports, they just manage one or more terminals at each of their ports and try to make money by attracting shipping companies to their terminals.

  • P&O was on the auction block no matter what. If Dubai Ports hadn't purchased them, PSA International of Singapore would have acquired them instead.

  • Port workers would mostly (all?) be American union members regardless of who owns the management company. Security will continue to be provided by the Coast Guard and U.S. Customs.

Maybe, maybe not. I'd like a more disinterested party to look into this, considering some of the inside baseball going on between P&O and certain Admin officials. Trust but verify, as they say.

Monday, February 20, 2006

StacheBlog Monday: Meh.

Dinner and a little evening hoops at chez Papa-Pooh, what could be a better way to end a three-day weekend (ahhhh, government work...)? Well, there was an ill-omen to begin with - the latest acquisition of the esteemed Tyge-parents is...well, let me just show you:

Just. Not. Right. (That's a clock, if you can't tell. Yes, the tongue is a pendulum. Not okay.)

Well with this image in mind, Gonzaga tipped off at Pepperdine. Not to go Gerbschmidt for my Minnesota readers, but Pepperdine, "your team is tewible". The Zags played down. Way down. So far down that the game was so bad that when the Geeze flipped to NBC for ice dancing, I didn't complain. In fact, when he cut away from the Italian team (featuring the "Diva of Italian Ice Dancing". Depending on the inflection you use, that description becomes really, really funny,) to go back to the color-analytical stylings of Hubert Davis, I was openly disappointed. I'm not proud of myself, but the 'Stache was that unispiring. A very AI-ish 27 for Morrison, shot til he was hot, and shot til he was not. (By my count, JJ needs 40 on Wednesday to take back the scoring lead, FYI.)

But I got free dinner and free laundry out of the deal, so I can't complain. Not that that usually stops me.

My Useful Education, (Or Not). Pt. 2.

Not only do I not remember my economics, I only vaguely remember my international relations, though in fairness I don't have a degree in the latter.

Not sure how I misread (or misremembered) Fukuyama's "End of History" so badly that I didn't put 2+2 together and say "NeoCon" when I think on it now, but I didn't. Though, in my favor, I can claim that even as a naive 18 year-old, it did strike me as hopelessly idealistic, going well past chutzpah and into hubris. Easy to jump up and down on poor Frances's intellectual corpse now, but honestly, I knew it at the time, as much as I hated agreeing with my paleocon, Kissinger disciple of a professor about anything. (Except baseball. He loooooved baseball, and his Tigers were sufficiently non-threatening to elicit no rivalrous feelings from me.)

Clashing civilizations always seemed more likely to me, but that could just be the result of spending way too much time playing Civilization 2 instead of writing my Geopolitics papers.

Anyway, all that is a wind up for directing anyone who hasn't to read Fukuyama's extended cry of "oops" in today's NYTimes magazine. Well, he doesn't say he was wrong so much as he was wrongly interpreted back in the day, but more points for near-honesty then many others from that camp.

Publius gets the scope of his revisionism about right:
Many people have also interpreted my book "The End of History and the Last Man" (1992) as a neoconservative tract, one that argued in favor of the view that there is a universal hunger for liberty in all people that will inevitably lead them to liberal democracy . . . . This is a misreading of the argument. "The End of History" is in the end an argument about modernization. What is initially universal is not the desire for liberal democracy but rather the desire to live in a modern — that is, technologically advanced and prosperous — society, which, if satisfied, tends to drive demands for political participation. Liberal democracy is one of the byproducts of this modernization process, something that becomes a universal aspiration only in the course of historical time.

"The End of History," in other words, presented a kind of Marxist argument for the existence of a long-term process of social evolution, but one that terminates in liberal democracy rather than communism.
This is a stunning paragraph. If I’m reading "The End of History" correctly (and I’m pretty sure I am), it is ideological and Hegelian, not materialist and Marxist. The paragraph above, though, is Marxist through and through. After reading this article, I realized that something bigger may be going on with Mr. Fukuyama. Specifically, Iraq may not only have soured him on neoconservatism, it may have pushed him out of the idealist (Hegel) camp and into the materialist (Marx) one. This is the philosophical equivalent of a Tar Heel fan slipping on a J.J. Redick T-shirt.
Way to put it in terms that even a naif like me can understand, read them both, if you have a goodly bit o' time.

Update: I should have made it more clear that it's an excellent piece, it's just curious coming from F2, and parts of it seem slightly self-serving in rehabilitating his bona fides with a new book coming out. It's a bit like Dan Shaughnessy writing in November 2004 that he didn't really mean it when he wrote "Curse of the Bambino" and oh by the way, he had a new book coming out, ("Reversing the Curse," which like a dope, I bought. Shameless.)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Money Well Spent? Not.

A basic question. Which I get wrong:
Please circle the best answer to the following question:

‘You won a free ticket to see an Eric Clapton concert (which has no resale value). Bob Dylan is performing on the same night and is your next-best alternative. Tickets to see Dylan cost $40. On any given day, you would be willing to pay up to $50 to see Dylan. Assume there are no other costs of seeing either performer. Based on this information, what is the opportunity cost of seeing Eric Clapton?

(a) $0
(b) $10
(c) $40
(d) $50.
I think the question is both stupid and badly worded, but I should still get it right after 6 figures of education in the subject...

Bah. Mathiness.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Back to You, JJ.

37 for Morrison today, 'Zags win. Oh wait, sorry, the 37 was for the second half. 44 in total to take the national scoring lead back from Redick. JJ needs 43 tommorow to take the lead back. I would not put it past him. I may have mentioned it before, but I can't remember the last time even one of the nation's rop scorers was a guy from a top program in contention for NCAA tournament success. Maybe Glenn Robinson at Purdue way back in the day? But now we have two.


You scored as Mathematics. You should be a Math major! Like Pythagoras, you are analytical, rational, and when are always ready to tackle the problem head-on!





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with QuizFarm.com

Well, Economics contains Mathiness, so I suppose I'm alright.

(Via RIA)

Requiem for A Draft Pick

"I thought we’d get to see forever
But forever’s gone away
It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday."

"It's So Hard to Say Goodbye." - Boyz II Men

Gone, Darko Gone, Darko's Gone:
The Detroit Pistons gave up on Darko Milicic on Wednesday night, trading the No. 2 pick in the 2003 draft to the Orlando Magic along with Carlos Arroyo for a first-round selection and center Kelvin Cato.

Detroit drafted Milicic three years ago after LeBron James and ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. But Milicic barely played as the Pistons won an NBA title, almost repeated last year and have compiled the best record this season.
And thus, hopefully, ends the era of pie in the sky dreams of squandrons of teenage, slavic 7-footers, running like gazelles, 'transforming the game'. I don't want basketball transformer, damnit, I want people who are good.

For what it's worth, The Darko Milicic Experience is exactly what I had in mind when I expressed concern for Freddy Adu's possible move to the Big Time in Europe. The parralels should be obvious.

Friday, February 17, 2006


It's Friday, I'm feeling punchy, so it's time for a horrific pun or two, courtesy of future Step-Mama Pooh:
At New York's Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher, was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, Attorney General Gonzales said he believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction. Al-gebra is a fearsome cult," Gonzales said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'there are 3 sides to every triangle'."
(Cross-posted at 6'2".)

My Nemesis Returns

It's been a while, but thanks to BattlePanda, guest-blogging better than Ezra (let me be the 732,576th to make that joke), I learn that the RIAA hates music fans you know, actually listening to the music they purchase. From testimony at ongoing rulemaking proceedings:
Nor does the fact that permission to make a copy in particular circumstances is often or even routinely granted, necessarily establish that the copying is a fair use when the copyright owner withholds that authorization. In this regard, the statement attributed to counsel for copyright owners in the MGM v. Grokster case is simply a statement about authorization, not about fair use.
The "statement" at issue is
The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it's been on their website for some time now, that it's perfectly lawful to take a CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod.
Translated, this 'clarification' means that their position is that "yes, you may currently place (some) of your music on (some) of your portable devices. But only because we permit it, and we reserve the right to say otherwise at any time. Not that we are planning on disallowing all use with iPods. Just all use with iPod software. Or manufactured by Apple. Did we mention that our parent companies also make portable music devices you should also look into?"

The rationale behind this argument is typically thuggish:
What's funny is that we would expect them to do anything else. Of course they don't want you getting MP3s from your CDs. What the music industry wants is for you to spend $2+ for each track if it's MP3s that you want. Never mind that the costs of distribution are essentially zero, and at $2 a track the costs are about the same as a CD. To the music companies, if you want MP3s you should by MP3s, and if you want CDs you should buy CDs. But if you buy the CD and rip it to MP3s, you're stealing.
Less functionality for twice the price? Where do I sign up? People not being completely docile in the face of naked, faux-moralistic profiteering, react predictably:
My only small solace, is that this insanity is causing so many people just to ignore copyright altogether (which is too bad, but is the logical response to such an abuse of a good concept). Ironically, groups like the RIAA and CRIA are basically encouraging people to do the very things they think they're trying to fight, and at some point, copyright might become so meaningless that their only chance to stop infringment will be to bring a class action suit against the people of the planet Earth. And I'd love to see how that would play out.

Everytime they announce that they think X should be illegal, a couple thousand people (who had never done "X" in the first place) say "that's ridiculous... I'm not giving them any of my money if that's their attitude..." and a whole section of the population who would have made an easy transition from legally buying CDs, to legally buying MP3s online, start downloading songs for free, in an effort to teach these guys a lesson.
The only reason I download mash-ups for free is that I can't buy them. If the song is good enough, I'd probably pay once for each song used. But that's not an option because this newfangled 'mixing' resembles 'art' too much, and we can't have that.

They don't want art, they want mechanistic, formulaic precision. Else how can our next cardboard cut-out, jail-bait, anorexic-in-training, talentless lip-synchersinger go gold and appear on MTV cribs?

But never fear, since the record companies themselves are doing a heckuva job, the feds are going to come in and take over. All my iPod are belong to Michael Chertoff:
Though the DHS has no ability to implement the kind of regulation that Frenkel mentioned, the organization is attempting to increase industry awareness of the rootkit problem, he said. "All we can do is, in essence, talk to them and embarrass them a little bit," Frenkel said.
And not that lack of ability or authority has stopped them before.

Stealing My Material

Bill Simmons today, 2/17/06:
Anyone who thinks that Redick -- on the right team, in the right offense, with shot blockers to protect him on defense -- cannot end up being an asset in the NBA is insane. Repeat: Insane. He's a better shooter than Steve Kerr, John Paxson, Jerry Sichting, Trent Tucker or Craig Hodges, all of whom had similar games and played roles for championship teams. I would actually compare his ceiling to Rip Hamilton's ceiling (who is almost as bad defensively, by the way); you could craft a decent offense from running Redick off multiple picks and getting him open shots.
Pooh, 2/11/06:
That being said, I have to agree, from a pure basketball standpoint, how can you not like Redick? Watch him, just him, on offense some time. He does nothing spectacular or complicated, but he never stops moving and has so much stamina. He just makes simple basketball moves and makes shots. In many ways, he reminds me of Rip Hamilton, underated by many (though Redick is hardly the athlete or the defender).

. . .

The thing about players like Rip and JJ is that you always have to know where they are, every defender has to pay attention. It's not like the guy who dominates the ball like AI, or Kobe or the enigmatic Gilbert Arenas. It's much more subtle, looking at the Pistons, the guy guarding a Wallace or a Wallace has to hedge over a screen and suddenly Rasheed is open to knock down a 3 or Big Ben (BONG!) is tip dunking. Their scoring ability without the ball does so much to make the whole team better.

Trust me, next time you watch Duke or Detroit, watch how often another player gets an advantage because their defender is worried about Rip or JJ when they don't have the ball.
And next week, Sports Guy will inform us that Vince Young will suck in the NFL, and start randomly quoting Public Enemy for no good reason. Bill, bubby, Re-TAIN-er.

Big Music Friday: More Bang for the Buck

Going with a theme this week - kudos to the first person who picks up on it.
  1. "Come Together" - The Beatles
  2. "1812 Overture" - Tchaikovksy, especially the performace pictured here
  3. "Po' Lazurus" - The Fairfield Four
  4. "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Queen
  5. "It Was a Good Day" - Ice Cube
  6. "Whisky In a Jar" - Metallica (I have both the Thin Lizzy and traditional Irish versions, but something about James Hetfield singing "Mush a ring dum a doo dum a da" does it for me.)
  7. "Folsom Prison Blues" - Johnny Cash
  8. "You Give Love a Bad Name" - Bon Jovi
  9. "Hey Joe" - Jimi Hendrix
  10. Video Jeopardy: "Freak on a Leash" - Korn

Bonus: If you haven't got it yet, how about

  • "Pistol Grip Pump" - Rage Against the Machine (I don't have the original on the iPod, so you get the RATM.)
  • "Shotgun" - Junior Walker and the All-Stars.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pooh's Theorem of "Lost"

The quality of an episode depends solely on the character contained in the flashbacks

Thus the best episodes concern Locke, Sawyer and Sayid (and perhaps Sun & Jin).

The worst: Michael, Jack, Boone/Shannon and Michael. I said that already? They're that bad, Will.

In that spirit, a few rounds of "Lost" inspired 'quien es mas macho':
  1. Locke or Vic Mackey?
  2. Kate or Elektra (or The Bride)? (XWLBill (because I have so many commenters, it's hard to keep them all straight. Or I'm just stupid. (And need to nest more parentheticals)) asks what about River Tam from Serenity. I think she probably takes all three, unarmed. Egregious oversight on my part.)
  3. Sawyer or Mal?
  4. Jack or 'Bambi'? (edit: the "Bambi" at issue is J.D. from "Scrubs", FYI
  5. Mr. Eko or Jules Winnfield?
  6. Sayid or Bond. James Bond (Connery edition)?

Update 2/17/06: Bill insinuates that I'm Hurly-hating. Not true. If I were to rank the remaining castaways in terms of episodice goodness, it would probably be thus:

  1. Locke
  2. Sayid
  3. Sawyer
  4. Sun/Jin
  5. Kate
  6. Hurly
  7. Claire
  8. Charlie
  9. Jack
  10. Michael

AFAIK, Hurly has only had two episodes, the first one was good, the second one, was a bit meh, even if it did have the kid from Road Trip. We haven't seen enough of the Tailaways to really know, though Eko is top 4, almost certainly. Ana Lucia, not so much.

You Know Who You Are

Via Ahistoricality
If there is someone on your blogroll who makes your world a better place just because that person exists and who you would not have met (in real life or not) without the internet, then post this same sentence on your blog.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tales of the Tyge

Hypothesis: A bouvier, let's say a specific bouvier named Tyge, will experience side effects from snarfing an entire stick of butter.


  1. Said bouvier will sneak one stick of butter off of the counter and furtively gobble up the whole thing, including the wrapper.
  2. Experiment will be held on a Monday evening - just before bedtime.
  3. Experiment monitor, let's say that would be the slat rat, will monitor said bouvier for adverse side effects. Note: Experiment monitor will not be notified of experiment in advance. Monitor most likely will not be pleased by experiment.
  4. Said bouvier could experience following adverse side effects: restlessness, sleeplessness, multiple occurrences of jet propelled diarrahea.

Results: Much to the surprise of the experiment monitor, the subject experienced absolutely no side effects. The subject strongly feels that the experiment should be repeated - perhaps several times. The experiment monitor has vetoed that idea.

AHW: It Had to Be the #2

No surprise here, but it's mainly an excuse to post this photo:

I don't have a lot to add that Messrs. Stewart and Coddry, other than to say that I think The Agitator (not exactly a frothing lefty, I might add) gets it about right:
But because by all appearances the vice president did nothing wrong, other than to engage in a rather creepy, un-sporting incarnation of hunting, the White House's clam-up, cover-up reaction becomes all the more puzzling. And troubling.
Also this

is damn funny as well.

Update 2/16/06: Bill asks quien es mas macho, Dick Cheney or Chuck Norris? The answer is simple: Jack Bauer.

Oscar Watch: Good Night and Good Luck

The other day, saw a double feature: "Good Night and Good Luck" and "Capote." For $6.25! Plus, got the real movie theatre popcorn, which is as close to crack as I will ever come. I'll write about Capote at length later on. (Hint: I haven't seen "Brokeback" yet, but I'm skeptical that it's a better movie.)

Anyway, GN&GL should be right in my wheelhouse: Courageous Journos Fight Against Dissent Suppressing Proto-Fascist. From Wisconsin. However, I think it's a little overrated. First of all, it's a little too on-the-nose. While Syrianna was detached, and not pushing an agenda, at least overtly, GN&GL might as well have flashed in neon lights "Compare this to What is Going on Now!!!!!!!" And while I'm sympathetic to that point of view, a... softer touch would have been better.

Much as I felt battered over the head by the sanctimony of "Schindler's List" lo those many years ago, GN&GL was almost preachy. Though they avoided the obvious pitfall of having actors ham their way through twirly-mustached (or, more accurately, twirly comb-overed) portrayals of McCarthy, Cohn and columnist Jack O'Brien by using archival footage or reading from O'Brien's own columns, Clooney et al could not resist throwing in the requisite 'nameless military baddies' and the smarmy 'dude in suit with truthy allegations in a plain manilla envelope' just to contrast the ivory-tower goodiness of CBS's Knights of the First Amendment.

The plot is somewhat lightweight (of course it helps to know that McCarthy did, in fact, go down and that Murrow is the patron saint of journalism). There seem to be extraneous characters whose only purpose is to provide plot points that the writers couldn't figure out how to get in another way: the 'secret marriage' arc seems included solely to give us the "honey, what if we're wrong?" "Oh of course we're not wrong" interlude.

All that said, Strathairn is fantastic, and the poetry of his monologues justify the whole exercise to an extent.

Pooh's View: Topical, but meh. This is a better movie than Hustle & Flow or Batman Begins? I think not.

Raised Eyebrow: Vince Young Edition

I'm not saying, (though I have said), I'm just saying:
AUSTIN, Texas - The agent for Vince Young, who said last month that the former Texas quarterback would throw for teams at the NFL combine next week, now says Young may not throw and instead may only interview with teams.

. . .

When asked why it might not be good for Young to throw at the combine, Adams replied, "Unfamiliar surroundings, unfamiliar receivers." The NFL combine in Indianapolis begins Feb. 22.
So if he can't throw in unfamiliar surroundings, that's 8 games per season down the tubes. Considering he'll likely be drafted by a bad team, the receivers will be unfamiliar, at least to us, the fans.

"Like they say in 1L, caveat emptor, baby."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pooh's V-Day Blues

In honor of my least favorite day of the year, every year, I give you Broken-Heart Blues Tuesday.
  1. "Love in Vain" - Robert Johnson. The Stones have a great version on "Stripped", but the original is still the best.

  2. "Red House" - Jimi. "Goin' back over yonder, to the house where my baby stays/ you know I ain't seen my baby in 99 and 1/2 days."

  3. "Motherless Child" - Blind Boys of Alabama. These guys are absolutely amazing.

  4. "How Long Blues" - LeRoy Carr.

  5. "The Sky Is Crying" - Elmore James. With "Stormy Monday", the blues club slow dancing songs.

  6. "The Thrill is Gone" - B.B. King. Only because I already used "How Blue Can You Get?" in a previous list.

  7. "Bye Bye Blackbird" - Joe Cocker. I'm not sure it's really a 'blues' song, but anything Cocker sings becomes at least bluesy.

  8. "Long Gone Lonesome Blue" - Hank Williams (the First). "I went down in the river three times/ but lord I'm only coming up twice/ She's long gone and I'm lonesome blue"

  9. "So Far Away" - Dire Straights. Isn't this the first song on every long-distance relationship mix-tape ever?

  10. "Time is On My Side" - The Rolling Stones. I would have said "Beast of Burden", but that seems a slightly less desperate song than the 'I can't believe you broke up with me. You'll be sorry someday' vibe of this one.

Update: XWL also has at list. Upon which I cannot comment since I recognize maybe three songs and own one. I am not worthy.

Monday, February 13, 2006

"America Needs to Have an Honest Discourse with Itself"

No, the lede is not from some Broderesque "all are punish-ed editorial", it's Dave Chappelle on Inside the Actors Studio. If you missed it yesterday, I suggest you check it out. A phenomenal two hours of television. Usually when they have comedians on the stage, Lipton plays straight man for the subject to work on his new set or his improv (or, he's Robin Williams and needs no prompting).

That didn't so much happen with Chappelle. He was still funny, because he's Dave Chappelle (bitch), but in a conversational way rather than by 'performance'. I've long suspected that stand-up comics are among the most intelligent performers out there, and Dave only reinforced this theory: his mother founded the first "Black Studies" program at a U.S. college our university, his father is also a professor. His intellect came through, and it is formidable.

The discussion ranged from the surreal - with Lipton demanding royalties for the Chappelle's Show "Actor's Studio" parody, to the sublime - Chappelle and Lipton engaging in an impromptu dance battle.

Along the way, they explored 'fame' and its trappings, they deconstructed a few of Chapelle's routines (there is a lot of subtext to some of his material that you don't neccesarily consciously get ), and he was surprisingly candid about his 'vacation' in Africa: "The worst thing you can call someone is 'crazy'. It's dismissive. . . [speaking of Mariah Carey and Martin Lawrence] these are not weak people, you can't be weak to make it in this business, so maybe there's something toxic in the environment?"

But the headline came from the 'classroom' which ends the show. He was, naturally, talking about race as the 'elephant in the room'. He talked about how certain parts of his success unnerved him. He perceived that the laughs some of his more racially charged material was getting were for the wrong reasons. (It wasn't in this interview, but I remember reading a profile in which he said he first became wary when one of the audience members, a white male, was laughing, but too hard, and at the wrong moments of the sketch.)

Watch the whole thing, it's worth the time.

Oh Goody...

Lock it In. No you Lock it in...

Gotcha While the Getting is Good.

Goctha! Is a stupid political game, but sometimes, the catch is too big not to play.

Orin Kerr lands this one:
"President ____ exercised the powers of the imperial presidency to the utmost in the area in which those powers are already at their height — in our dealings with foreign nations. Unfortunately, the record of the administration has not been a happy one, in light of its costs to the Constitution and the American legal system. On a series of different international relations matters, such as war, international institutions, and treaties, President ____ has accelerated the disturbing trends in foreign policy that undermine notions of democratic accountability and respect for the rule of law."

Who do you think wrote the passage above, and who was the President?
Well the President is obviously Clinton, because He. Did. It. Too. But the author?
John C. Yoo, The Imperial President Abroad, in Roger Pilon, ed., The Rule of Law in the Wake of Clinton 159 (2000).
I was okay with his "just a lawyer, making an argument" schtick until he started flogging a book of greatest hits, and going on talking-head blabfests to trot out "I don't make policy" and the like. But this seems to demonstrate such naked cynicism that I am simply stunned.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Third Rail of BlogDom?

I don't talk about religion here often both because I'm not qualified (my best guess as to how to describe what spirituality I have is 'non-deistic zen'), and there is nothing that short-circuits intelligent, or even civil discussion, faster than injecting matters of personal faith. But since this is post #300, thought I'd make it a special one, so here goes.

I do not like organized religion. Religion and faith have unqestionably been positive forces in the development of mankind. I'm not sure that the same can be said of religious hierarchies. I don't want to name specifics because I don't want to be uneccesarily offensive, and I don't want to seem like I'm signalling anyone out, but it shouldn't be hard for anyone to come up with at least one example on a moments notice.

The reason that I'm moved to write about this today is the increasing incidence of stories like this one (via):
WAYNE, N.J. — Evangelist Ken Ham smiled at the 2,300 elementary students packed into pews, their faces rapt. With dinosaur puppets and silly cartoons, he was training them to reject much of geology, paleontology and evolutionary biology as a sinister tangle of lies.

"Boys and girls," Ham said. If a teacher so much as mentions evolution, or the Big Bang, or an era when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, "you put your hand up and you say, 'Excuse me, were you there?' Can you remember that?"

The children roared their assent.

"Sometimes people will answer, 'No, but you weren't there either,' " Ham told them. "Then you say, 'No, I wasn't, but I know someone who was, and I have his book about the history of the world.' " He waved his Bible in the air.

"Who's the only one who's always been there?" Ham asked.

"God!" the boys and girls shouted.

"Who's the only one who knows everything?"


"So who should you always trust, God or the scientists?"

The children answered with a thundering: "God!"
Put aside that this dichotomy between knowledge and faith is profoundly unneccesary and deeply disturbing to me as an attack on rationality, it causes nothing short of revulsion that the recipients of this sort of lecture are those most powerless to evaluate its providence or usefullness. As I mentioned, you don't have to look far and wide to find stories like this, and I won't inundate with links to belabor the point.

I don't understand the appeal of a world where the answer to everything is g-o-d did it. As a commenter on another site put it (rather more floridly than I might have):
The thing that just amazes me about [this] view of the universe is how small and boring it is.

God made everything, God knows everything, God predicted everything, everything is going according to God’s plan – the end of which is foreordained, so there’s no point to trying to end war or world hunger or poverty, because it’s all going to end in an Apocalypse anyway.

No mysteries to solve, no discoveries to exclaim over, no fascinating parallels to find or paradoxes to figure out. No startling sense of kinship when you first look into a great ape’s eyes and the ape looks back at you, no sense of delight when you learn that even octopi are capable of intelligent reasoning and have distinct personalities – no sense of connection with anything else on the planet, much less in the greater cosmos.

The most elegant argument I've read in the debate over "Intelligent Design as science" is this: it diminishes, rather than exalts, the role of the creator. As science discovers more and more, the set of things 'unexplainable' shrinks further and further, and with it, the things done by a higher being.

I don't understand how, in the abstract, knowledge and reason can be bad things, and I can't comprehend trumpeting one's lack of same. And I don't see why knowledge and faith have to be in opposition. If the physical sciences describe the workings and machinery of our universe, they do nothing to explain how they came to be or what set them in motion.

Finally, as always, I'm surprised that people of faith allow people such as Ham (or Pat Robertson, or whomever) to be their public 'representatives'. I know you don't really agree with them, stand up and say so.

Update 2/13: Mark Daniels does indeed stand-up and says so:
As Mr. Ham says, no human being could have been there at the beginning of God's creation. But using terms and notions human beings might understand, the Biblical writers were inspired by God to affirm that God created the universe. With this understanding, it's okay for Christians to think that paleontology, biology, and other scientific disciplines, though finite and as prone to error as any other human pursuit, might have something to say about the when and how of Creation.
Read the whole thing.

Update #2: And there's a lot more where that came from:
In the basement of an apartment building in Evanston, Ill., the Rev. Mitchell Brown said to the 21 people who came to services at the Evanston Mennonite Church that Darwin's theories in fact had compelled people to have faith rather than look for "special effects" to confirm the existence of God.

"He forced religion to grow up, to become, really, faith for the first time," Mr. Brown said. "The life of community, that is where we know God today."

The event, called Evolution Sunday, is an outgrowth of the Clergy Letter Project, started by academics and ministers in Wisconsin in early 2005 as a response to efforts, most notably in Dover, Pa., to discredit the teaching of evolutionary theory in public schools.

"There was a growing need to demonstrate that the loud, shrill voices of fundamentalists claiming that Christians had to choose between modern science and religion were presenting a false dichotomy," said Michael Zimmerman, dean of the College of Letters and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and the major organizer of the letter project.
I wish we heard more about this largely silent (hopefully) majority, instead of running off to find the nearest televangelist when we need a God quote for a story.