Friday, March 31, 2006

Angry Madness

Thanks to a commenter in a previous thread, we are directed to read the Billy Packer Retirement Fund proposal. Naturally, I say here-here. (Even moreso after listening to this interview from a few years back). I'm actually getting slightly gleeful in anticipation of the jackassery which he spouts during the George Mason game though my subtle fear is that the Pats get blown out and he starts spouting some nonsense about them not being able to handle the big-time athletes of Florida. After they have beaten teams containing what I estimate to be 13 future NBA players over the course of the tourney.

(In case you're wondering, Shannon Brown, Mo Ager, Paul Davis, Tyler Hansbrough, Reyshawn Terry, David Noel, Danny Green, Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone, Rudy Gay, Marcus Williams (felonies included), Craig Austrie and Jeff Adrien, though I wouldn't be surprised if Anderson and Denham Brown got a look as well.)

It's too bad that there is no "radio Tivo" readily available, else I would watch on TV and listen to the radio broadcasts. (For whatever reason, the radio always seems about 1.5 seconds ahead of the TV here) Then I could get my fill of the wonderous Bill Raftery. Sadly, I'm stuck with Bloviating Billy and his little dog toto the King of Cliche.

As a final note, as I was dropping my dad off at his office after taking him out to lunch the other day, we ran into our former next door neighbor. The guy who had a hoop in his driveway where I learned to play. Anyway, we naturally got to talking about the final four, and we got him wound up and he started into an extended rant on what a prick Jim Calhoun is. So, Pops, its not completely your fault that I'm a massively opinionated Hater. Just mostly.

As for the games, I'm a little gunshy given the decimation of all of my picks this year. GMU shouldn't be able to hang with Florida, right? But, as the (semi) pros put it:
What’s WRONG with these people? Have they not seen George Mason play in this tournament? Have they forgotten? This is the best team we’ve seen over the last two weeks (followed closely by, well, Florida, actually). Let’s take this all the way.
The dream has to end some time, right? As to the other game, I just hope LSU whomps up on UCLA early so the Bruins have to forego there 2002 era Pittsburgh Panthers identity and get up and down the floor a bit. Plus, I've decided that I hate Jordan Farmar's hair. Look, either go 90210 with the sideburns or Seth Cohen with the hair. Both at once, not ok. Though the Evil Spock goatee is pretty tough.

A Closeted Conservative?

So, after all my huzzaing of RIA's Return (yes 'pick, both of them) (bastard) let's talk about me. One of the things I think is odd about about myself (hey, if I'm going to be narcicistic, I'm going whole hog) is the dichotomy between my 'personal life' and my 'politics'. In terms of what I do, I'm pretty 'conservative' (with the noted exception of religion). I'm not and have never been a club-kid, I dress 'traditionally' (if sloppily, at times), I tend to not like especially 'experimental' movies and music, etc. I'm for capitalism and football (though I like soccer also) and cheeseburgers and beer.

In comparison my politics are demonstrably leftish, though I'd prefer to describe myself as some combination of "Independant" and/or "Centrist", though certainly not "Moderate." (See here for definitional help) Though, my driving ideology is that while I have what I think are the answers for me who am I to tell you what you can do. Of course, I'll tell you what I think you should but that's A) just me being an ass; and B) an opinion, which you can take or leave. Once you start turning "opinions" into laws, backed by men with guns, I start to get the willies. (Across the range of social 'vices' I'm about as permissive as they come, though I participate in very few of them myself. Of course, I don't consider gambling a vice, but that's because I am/was good at it. But I digress.)

Anyway, all this rambling brings me to a study from (via the Battlepanda) I ran across a few weeks ago about the differences between liberals and conservatives. Understanding that "anectdote" is not the singular of "data", I thought I'd take a look at some of the findings and see how well I fit the stereotype.

  • Liberals are more inclined to believe that the rich and powerful have a negative social value.

Nope. I would posit that a goodly percentage of 'rich people' got that way on some form of personal merit. Bill Gates earned every penny. As did Warren Buffet. Athletes are exceedingly good in a discipline that is well compensated because of popular interest. So, no, I don't think rich people are bad. I think they are self-interested, which is fine, but due to their wealth, they may have dispraportionate influence. Social justice, veil of ignorance, blah blah, you've heard it all before...

  • Among men, conservatives are more active in high school sports.

Well I've coached both college and elementary school sports, so I think that's close enough.

  • Extroverts have a better sense of smell than introverts.

I have no basis for comparison. Though I am quite good at smelling a rat. (Not literally of course)
  • Extroverts tend to be more conservative and more religious.

I'm not sure where I fit in with the whole introverted-extroverted thing. But 'religious' is not me to be sure.
  • Conservatives like the colors red and dark blue. Liberal men like dark green; liberal women like light blue.

I wear mostly, wait for it, dark blues, greys and occasionally red. Not so much with the green.

  • Conservatives tend to be morning people.

Well, if anything marks me as Looney Left Liberal, this is it.

  • Among women, conservatives are more likely to be sex-obsessed than liberals.

I'm clearly in the wrong party then. The 'Ladies Night' theory of political affiliation?

  • Liberals curse more than conservatives.

Bullshit. I give you Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Toni Scalia...

  • Conservatives like beef more than liberals.

MMMMM. Steak. Tofu sucks. Lots.

  • Liberals are more depressed than conservatives.

Correlation/Causation problem here, methinks.

Big Music Friday: The Return

In honor of RIA's Return (both of them. I'm leaving the duplicates up), several of the regular features of WAPtm will also return. Go Blues! Go Asshole of the Week! (Keep 'homaging' in the comments, 'Pick, and you just might win!) And for now, Go IPod!

1. "609 Boogie" - John Lee Hooker. JLH vs. stride piano = awesome 9/10.

2. "House of the Rising Sun" - Doc Watson. Something is quite wrong and yet quite right about a country boy like Doc singing about a whorehouse in NOLA. 7/10.

3. "Poor Rambler" - Ralph Stanley. Fiddle me this, would I have ever started listening to bluegrass if not for the Coen brothers? 5/10.

4. "The Way U Make Me Feel" - Black Eyed Peas. Pre-Fergie, so it doesn't get the instant coolness edit. This album is not as good as I remember it from the first time I heard it. 4/10.

5. "Highway to Hell (Live)" - AC/DC. Brn-ner-ner, Brn-ner-ner-ner, Brn-ner-ner-ner, Ber-Ber-ner. BumpBumpBumpBumpBump... "I'mona HIGHWAY TO HELL." Sorry that got me going a little. 10/10.

6. "My Sharona" - The Knack. When this song came on, my neighbor at work got up and started dancing. Reality does indeed Bite at times. 7/10.

7. "Greystone Chapel" - Johnny Cash. Nothing like a good sing-a-long at a prison. Is it me or has Cash been devalued a bit by "Everywhere Man" being played every 30 minutes as part of those stupid commercials, much like Bob Seger and those Chevy Truck spots? 6/10.

8. "X" - Xzibit. Before Rides were Pimped and collars where popped, X was the latest in a long, long long line of nondescript one-hit hip-hop wonders. (Stand up, Skee-lo, Mystikal, Petey Pablo (RAISE UP), and so on) 5/10.

9. "Calm Like a Bomb (LIVE)" - Rage Against the Machine. Having this song over the closing credits of Matrix Reloaded probably went a ways towards insuring my inflated view of said film. Watchasaywhat? 9/10.

10. "Runaway" - Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Yes, yes, this song has appeared here before, but MFGG always makes the mo' better 'mo better. 7/10.

Average= 6.9 dude. Well played, little white hard drive!


RIA has returned, co-blogging at Done With Mirrors. Which gives me the excuse I need to visit DWM regularly, see here and especially here for other good reasons to head over.


RIA has returned, co-blogging at Done With Mirrors. Which gives me the excuse I need to visit DWM regularly, see here and especially here for other good reasons to head over.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Filmgoer's Manifesto

When we last saw the Monkey with the Kung Fu grip, he was smacking down some faux-pundit or other. Now, via Otto Man, the Monkey returns, with a plan to save the movie theatre industry:
Because I will tell you right now, right here, how to get people to go back to seeing movies in theaters. Without disruptive technology. Without theater upgrades. All for, oh, $4.65 an hour per screen.

I will now save your industry:

Hire. Fucking. USHERS.

The number one reason that every single person I know gives for not going to the movies anymore is the annoyance of dealing with people who just don't behave in the theater. Yes, yes, theater owners, your cell phone adds are cute. But how many of us have dealt with the idiots around us who dutifully turn off their cellphones, and then turn and chat -- not whisper, fucking coffee-klatch -- with the person beside them?

Indeed. Let me submit a list of removable offenses.

  1. Cell phones - covered above. Though, maybe there needs to be a baliff. One of the common, amusing sights around the court house is walking by a jury room, and seeing 12 cellies (plus assorted 2-ways, PDA's and the occassional PSP) stacked in a neat row, guarded by a hawkeyed septugenarian.
  2. Talking. There are certain movies when talking, within limits, is acceptable. Horror movies, for example. There is never a bad time for "don't open the door!" Horrible movies as well. If you find yourself in a screening of a George Lucas film post Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, heckling the screen is not only your right, it is your patriotic duty.
  3. Snoring - (Sorry, Rob, if you're reading this) If you cannot stay awake through a movie, don't go see it in the theatre. And for god's sake, stop drooling on my shoulder.
  4. Get A Room - you know who you are. I think Mr. Loaf had a better idea than the theatre. Relatedly:
  5. Kiddies - don't bring your kids to movies they can't handle. And if they can't handle the film, you must leave, and never ever come back.

Additions? Suggestions? Volunteers? Viva la revolution!

Update: Honestly I had no idea that today was the 25th Anniversary of President Reagan being shot until I saw a story on it at the gym. I might have chosen a different picture from the google search for "viva la revolution" had I known.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Pronouncement

According to Icepick, I am allowed to do this. So, I hereby declare the period from March 26, 2006 to March 26, 2007 the Year of Pooh.

Encouragement, insults, witticisms and random randomness welcome in the comments.

362 and Counting (Final B-Day Update) (We Hope)

To whomever,

How did you know?

On March 26 from 2pm (EST) till 3pm [Nena's 99 Red Balloons was] all that played on [VH1,] the American specialty music channel, over and over (and over) again.

The Nena marathon was for the final hour of the station’s “Pay to Play for Hurricane Katrina Relief” fundraiser. According to the Associated Press, “Viewers could request one video to be played on VH1 Classic for every $25 donation. For a $35 000 donation, they could select an hour’s worth of music from the 1960’s through the early 1990’s”.

One viewer apparently decided that the channel just couldn’t have enough of the 1984 protest song that so they requested to have it played continuously for an entire hour.

I have a fever, and the only cure is more red balloons. Sad to say I missed it though. Thanks for the effort.

(And thanks to Fletch for the catch)

Karnak (RIAA Edition)

Peer-to-peer CD swapping? That's a great idea!

The CD trading community still in private beta has much in common with DVD trading site Peerflix. On la la, you can trade any CD you have for any CD you want that’s available in members’ collections for only $1 plus postage. Like Peerflix, la la offers mailers to members to keep postage costs low and blows away in making it easy to list and find CDs with an impressive search engine and catalog. I was able to enter the names of 80 of my CDs 10 minutes into trying the beta.

Who could possibly have a problem with this? Nobody sensible. Of course, that leaves the Auld Enemy
In any case, we’ve certainly heard about companies that facilitate trading music before getting into trouble. Is la la painting a target on its back for the RIAA? I’ll discuss the legal and industry implications of la la in next week’s column.
Cue RIAA: "All your discs are belong to us"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

363 and Counting (B-Day Update)

In case you were dying to know what was the #1 song in America on this birthday o' mine (since I painstakingly researched the previous 28 years here), Billboard rides to the rescue...(drumroll)

Temperature by Sean Paul. I have to admit that Sean Paul is just the kind of crap I find diverting while driving, so good on him. The #1 status will probably soften the sting of being eliminated in the Sweet 16.

Responding to a Blawg Bleg

(Updated below, mea culpa)

My e-friend I.M. Kierkegaard has asked me (and others) to help publicise the upcoming Symposium on Judicial Selection and Independance, to be held in New York City on April 7:
On Friday April 7, 2006, there will be a SYMPOSIUM held at Fordham University School of Law in New York City on the subject of judicial selection and independence. The Symposium is free and open to the public.

The Symposium, titled "Rethinking Judicial Selection: A Critical Appraisal of Appointive Selection for State Court Judges," will focus on discussion of various models of appointive selection of state court judges.
To this legal mind, this sounds interesting. One of the biggest issues facing the legal system is the increasing degree to which the supposedly-impartial judiciary has been politicised, and anything that examines ways to remove that pressure is likely a Good Thing.

As RIA,briefly back from sabbatical, puts it:
Since I'm here anyway and thinking of judges, I must say that I'm beginning to wonder if our Supreme Court justices ought to stay strictly stateside, given the controversy over speeches delivered overseas by both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. (By the way, I selected the link for Ginsburg because this one mentions not just the South Africa speech, but also remarks she made in Australia. This is also worth reading.)*
For me, it's not so much what they said outside of the country, but what they said. Scalia's latest diatribe, in particular, is disturbing. I know that my ideal of SCOTUS judges dispassionately making decisions without much regard for politics or policy implications is largely a myth, but it is still a laudable aim. The more pronouncements of this sort that we have, the more the "unelected super-legislature" meme rings true, which is to the detriment of all in the long run.

* Update: Bad Pooh. Hasty post makes waste, RIA's larger point got lost in my initial post:
Thus, while I'm being tongue-in-cheek about traveling overseas, I'm serious when I say that I think the Supremes are getting a bit sloppy about maintaining themselves outside and above the fray. What do you think?
(My Emphasis). That's what I meant to highlight originally.

(closed circuit to RIA: I'm an idiot, sorry for the mistake.)

A-Mo Emo

Funny, but Not Right. Five stages of 'Stache grief, in pictorial form...

Adam, we hardly knew ye

And this concludes this season's transmission of the 'Stache Broadcasting Network. See you on draft night?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Total (Blog)War

Ron notices that there must be something in the water right now. The spark appears to be the Domenech fiasco, but it's safe to say that there have been tensions simmering for a while.

Unfortunately, I managed to get myself caught up in the Hamsher vs. Cole undercard. Not my best moments (aside from snark, but I was always world class in that area, he says modestly.)
I won't comment further other than to say that Jane's retort is incredibly unfair and all too self-congratulatory - it's unfair because anyone who says this
Cole pissed me off because he's got nothing in the tank except a bunch of right-wing talking points -— that liberals hate America, hate the military -— and he doesn'’t care if he has to invent facts out of whole cloth to make them fit the contours of his inchoate rage.
just isn't paying attention, and I'm very disappointed and surprised in Glenn Greenwald* (though not either WRT Hamsher) for buying into that line. Here is John, last Thursday:
In the new Republican era, only fetuses , tax shelters, and ‘traditional’ marriage deserve protection. According to the actions of the current Republican party, the rest of us need to be wiretapped, monitored, have our homes inspected for whatever reason without warrants, and are incapable of making decisions on our own. My 20 year affair with the Republican party is coming to an end. I am not voting for any Republican in 2006 at any level, and I will be hard pressed to vote for this party in 2008- unless, of course, Cindy Sheehan is the Democratic candidate. These ‘conservatives’ need abut 10-15 years in the wilderness.
Hardly "right-wing talking points", aside from the Sheehan dig, which is something of a semi-serious running joke-not-really for Cole.

And secondly, It's self-congratulatory, because much like the Howell/Brady WaPo flap, the story becamunnecessarilycesarily personal invective rather than about the merits if the argument. When your first contribution is this
You better be able to back that up because I will be over here every f****** day until you do (and you canÂ’t, because I never wrote about white phosphorous weapons even once).

Do we understand each other?
it's hasurprisedsurpirsed if the response is more than slightly defensive. So, now that you've changed the discussion from "Is Howell a crappy ombudsman" or "Is Domenech a racist?" to "No, f*** YOU!" it's churlish to argue that someone is unable to engage you on the merits - you have gone a long way towards making them unwilling to do so.

To close, I think this comment probably got lost amongst the hubbub, and is worth bearing in mind for all involved:
Does anyone remember when you could say some[t]hing about someone, and if it was wrong, you were called “wrong” and not “a lying sack of shit?”
I think all parties are guilty as to the last point. Whether equally so is largely immaterial. "Let he who is without sin" and all that...And everyone grow up.

* Update: Glenn has clarified his position.
Allow me to just say here that my e-mail to Jane was not about John Cole specifically. I consider John to be one of the more level-headed and reasonable bloggers around. I thought he was unfair to Jane in his post, but not in a way that fundamentally impugns his character or anything - it was just a garden-variety unfairness of which we are all sometimes guilty.

My point to Jane was that her spat with John was worth talking about only in terms of the trend which it seemed to illustrate to me. A lot of the ranting about the crazed and irresponsible "Lefty bloggers" -- a theme that did appear in John's post, appended to Jane -- is often grounded in resentment at being held accountable. Tenacious pursuit of the truth of the type Jane displays (not just in her spat with John, but with Jim Brady and in so many other places) gets distorted by the target of the tenacity into some sort of crazed zeal, because that's probably what it feels like to the person who is targeted by it. It can be annoying to the person who is being held accountable, causing them to lash out. I thought John was guilty of that in his exchange with Jane, but more importantly, I think that's the source of a lot of the attacks on the "Left Blogosphere"generally.
Good enough, though I still think it's unfair to use John as the avatar for that particular failing.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Blue Moon

First time since 1980 that no #1 seeds have made the final for. Relatedly, first time I can ever remeber getting zero Final Four picks right. I don't think I've ever done that on a single bracket, yet this year, I think I'm o-fer every bracket I filled out. Though to be fair, UCLA is the only one I could have conceivably picked, pre-tourney. And I hate their team, so I would never...

Speaking of 1980, it was also the first time in about that long that I found myself consitently nodding in a approval to Billy Packer's analysis. Nova did a poor job utilizing their advantages. Allen Ray did seem a little overcome by the moment, repeatedly taking bad shots and fully earning his first half technical. But his best point of all was the Nova looked like it had just a little less bounce, possibly as a result of the grinding, punishing style of BC. It reminded me of a boxer who's been taking body shots for 8 rounds and all of a sudden has no legs for the end of the game.

Still, Randy Foye is good, and will be a quality NBA 3rd guard, and my appreciation for Kyle Lowery is immense. Joakim Noah is making himself some cash this tourney as well. Not Tyrus Thomas cash, but some serious jing.

And for the record, Kevin Drum's plagaristically named immodest proposal is intriguing.
But I have a suggestion for the gods of college basketball: reduce the number of timeouts allowed and don't allow timeouts at all during the final two minutes of the game. The 20 lumbering minutes that it takes to finish the last few minutes of most games is nothing short of excruciating, but in games where both teams have used up their timeouts the final minutes are some of the most exciting in sports.

So: no timeouts in the final two minutes. Let 'em run. Who's with me?
Maybe not no timeouts but certainly fewer and shorter. I also think they should go back to the rule where if a team calls a full timeout, that counts as the next "TV Timeout" so we don't get the situation where 3 whistles in 15 seconds of game action causes my head to explode from multiple tales of tails of some tasty shrimP.

Ding Dong, the Bitch is Dead.

The "Bitch" being Jim Calhoun

Me suck at coaching? That's unpossible!

So, I'll ask, how the hell was George Mason an 11 seed to begin with?

Also, Coach Calhoun, nobody could guard Rudy Gay, so why not, you know, try to get him the ball sometime in OT? Or you could have the game decided by Josh Boone shooting free throws...This game single handedly justified the entire tournament.

1 Year to Live?

Or is it one year until I live? 'They' say life begins at 30twenty-ten. 365 and counting.

As this puts me in a fairly reflective mood, let's cast back into the archives and discover the #1 songs in America on each of my birthdays (With apologies to Bill).
THE 2000s

2005 ... "Candy Shop" by 50 Cent featuring Olivia
2004 ... "Yeah!" by Usher featuring Ludacris & Lil Jon
2003 ... "In Da Club" by 50 Cent
2002 ... "Ain't It Funny" by Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule
2001 ... "Angel" by Shaggy featuring Rayvon
2000 ... "Say My Name" by Destiny's Child
I'm forced to admit that "Yeah!" is one of my favorite crap songs of all time. "Say My Name" should have been on one of the American Pie soundtracks.
THE 1990s

1999 ... "Believe" by Cher
1998 ... "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" by Will Smith
1997 ... "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down" by Puff Daddy featuring Ma$e
1996 ... "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion
1995 ... "Take a Bow" by Madonna
1994 ... "The Sign" by Ace of Base
1993 ... "Informer" by Snow
1992 ... "Save the Best for Last" by Vanessa Williams
1991 ... "Coming Out of the Dark" by Gloria Estefan
1990 ... "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles
Wow. Just wow, some incredible crap there. Snow? Because when I think hard, I think Canadian, whiteboy-raggaman. Don't you?
But the 90's also brought us such genius lyricisms as
Got green never seen so you suck my jewels
Clutch my uz’, anything I touch I bruise
Puff make his own laws, ***** fuck your rules (that’s right)
Goodfellas, you know you can’t touch us dudes
Takethat takethat takethat...
THE 1980s

1989 ... "Eternal Flame" by The Bangles
1988 ... "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson
1987 ... "Lean on Me" by Club Nouveau
1986 ... "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco
1985 ... "One More Night" by Phil Collins
1984 ... "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins
1983 ... "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson
1982 ... "I Love Rock 'n Roll" by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
1981 ... "Rapture" by Blondie
1980 ... "Another Brick in the Wall" by Pink Floyd
So up til about 1988 I was kicking ass. "Eternal Flame" was a number 1? Well, I guess I can't say this country is going to hell in a handbasket, it's been there for years. And don't hate on Phil Collins.
THE 1970s

1979 ... "Tragedy" by The Bee Gees
1978 ... "Night Fever" by The Bee Gees
1977 ... "Rich Girl" by Daryl Hall & John Oates

My heros.

Happy 29th, me...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Big Bey-be (and the Worst Game Ever)

2 down, 2 to go. Sorry to XWL, but UCLA is the worst team to make the Final Four since the famous "40 Minutes of 5-on-5 Fouling" Wisconsin team of 2000. (Great coaching that, it's hard to get guys to commit to be continuously fouling on offense but Dick Bennet managed, somehow, with that team.) I mean, you shoot 52%, you're going to win a lot of games. Oh, wait, that was UCLA's FT%. They went line by line, proving every accusation Yglesias levels against the college game in turn. (More on the MY, Zengerle NBA vs. March Madness 'debate' later this week.)

UCLA played about as bad a game in a pressure situation as I can remember. Fortunately, they're only #2 on the list as Memphis were the biggest bunch of sucks who ever sucked. Englebert HumberdinkJoey Dorsey was about 1-5 from 2 feet and in (gratuitous Izzard reference, sorry.) Rodney Carney cost himself several million dollars by torpedoing his draft status.

Someone who scooped up all the money Carney left on the NBA table (and perhaps more) was Tyrus Thomas. This kid was going to be walk-on. And now he's the most exciting player left in the tourney. Everyone knew he was an athlete, but when he started draining jumpers from the wing, I swear I heard cash-registers going off. This game also featured the most ludicrous 30 seconds of basketball ever recorded, naturally capped off by a tying 3. And the biggest play of the game was a 3 by Nate Newton Big Baby Davis. Best game of the weekend by a wide, wide margin.

And, to be clear for today, GO George Mason! Go Villanova!

And The Word For Today Is...

Awful. Used in a sentance it goes something like "the officiating in at least 3 of the 4 games in the NCAA tournament today was awful."

With the caveat that I saw about 7 seconds of the GMU-WSU game (go Pats!), the refereeing was sadly the dominant feature of todays Sweet 16 games. Which is a shame, because it obscured the greatness of Randy Foye and Rashad Anderson among others.

The mouth-watering BC-Nova matchup was sullied by plain inconsistency: touch fouls called one possession while a delivery of the People's Elbow went uncalled the next. Fittingly, the game ended on a call (thankfully correct), Nova scoring their winning basket by way of a clear goaltend (only the second clearest goaltend of the night. More on that later.) Though I do have to take issue with Al Skinner: you have three seconds and can run the baseline. Off of a timeout the best play you can come up with is for a running heave?

Meanwhile, the Florida-G'Town game largely turned on a maybe-a-foul-maybe-a-jumpball which was given continuation that '93 era MJ would have been embarassed to receive.

Finally, the Husky Bowl. If this year has been Coach K's best coaching performance, it has undoubedly been Jim Calhoun's worst. (The fact that they're still in the Elite 8 tells you what you need to know about their talent level.) I suppose you could theoretically do a worse job motivating your team, but the combination of quick substitutions after mistakes, no feel for rhythm, and a habit of public embarrassment must come close. I was thinking to myself "Self, I really hate Rudy Gay's attitude." And self answered "Dude, Calhoun's a dick, I wouldn't want to play for him either." I think myself is right.

And this game had not one, but two moments remiscent of that Kentucky-Umass game from a decade ago, when the game turned on a ludicrous technical fould being called on John Calipari. First there was the T on Calhoun for throwing the ball to the wrong ref. Oh please. Second, the touch 3rd foul on Roy followed by an instantaneous double-T on Roy and Gay. Come on guys, these are big boys. If you are going to let Roy get hammered every time he goes into the lane, how is a little staring worthy of a techinical.

But of course the capper was the non-goaltend call on Armstrong. It could have been more obvious, but only if Armstrong had done a chinup on the rim and headed the ball out of the cylinder.

So instead of focusing on Rashad "ONIONS" Anderson's heroics, I'm left with more bitterness. Least enjoyable Sweet 16 ever.

Friday, March 24, 2006

If It's Friday...

Then President Bush may have 'independantly construed' a law to not apply to him by way of signing statement. Parenthetically, I must have missed the "How a signing statement becomes a law" episode of school house rock. Or maybe I was just oscillating at too high a frequency due to the 4 bowls of Fruity Pebble to remember.
When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

The bill contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates.

. . .

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

Bush wrote: ''The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . "
Sometimes you have to ask why we bother with that whole "legislative process" thing.

Anyway, back to your Duke pile-ons or your gawking at the train wreck that is the Ben Domenech Experience.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

PerfectThe Opposite of...

Well, if you're going to go 0-4 on the teams you would like to see win, at least only 3 of the 4 games were crushing.

At least Bradley had the decency to get blown out. Duke played one of the worst games I can remember a Blue Devil squad playing, and still was rightthere.

Sweet comeback by WVU, and then a scrubby-scrub makes an off-balance, leg-splayed, eyes-closed 28 foot heave at the buzzer to beat them. [Edit - Ok, Paulino is a 42% 3pt. shooter. It was still a ludicrously bullshit shot.)

Gonzaga simply commits one of the epic chokes in modern sports histories. In fact the only good thing to come from today is that I can remind my readers that the Zags choke was at best #2 in the last 2 years.

Happy Place

I'm not even sure how to use my empircally demonstrated evil-hexing powers for tommorow. I want Washington and Georgetown to win, would prefer George Mason and mostly just want a good game between Nova and BC. So, naturally, Marcus Williams (Felony Included) will score 35, and run down press row slapping fives while snatching laptops. Georgetown will shoot 16 percent from the field. Wichita State will win in a game that looks like one of my old D-III Jv games, letting Packer crow about how bad mid-majors are, and BC-Nova will end up 37-33 in a game worse than the Wisconsin-Michigan State semifinal from a few years back.

I love the madness...

Suck (Bring it On)

I think that one looked well, like this.

But what does it say about you that your day was made by my team losing? Haters...

BTW, this looks prescient of me:
I can already see the game Duke loses, either in the Sweet 16 or the Elite 8. They're playing a team with two big guys who can score and an athletic backcourt. Sheldon Williams is in foul trouble. JJ Redick is getting face guarded by a 6'7 guy who can run and jump.

The final stat sheet will include Williams having 20 and 15 (plus 5 fouls) in 24 minutes

JJ will shoot 4-15, with 7 whiny faces made.

Paulus will pull a Wojo-double, 14 floor-slaps, 12 shots of hot-girlfriend in the stands and an astounding 24 group hugs at the FT line.
I'm a genius. Go Zags...

Hell is...

Trying to get anything accomplished at work right now, knowing that the Dukies are playing. Absolute worst part about living in Alaska is that the games start at 3:30 PM. I've been useless for at least the last hour, and now I have to dodge co-workers (and Fletcher) all desperately wanting to spoil it for me.

Also, the residence of whoever came up with this:

Just not right. Go Devils.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

More Hate

Courtesy of Deadspin

And former Dukie Carlos Boozer is suing Prince.

Us against the world, right Coach K?

Asshole of the Week: Crisis Averted

Our short WashingtonNationals nightmare is over. Alfonso Soriano will play left field. Well, he will appear in left field, as he will more than likely take a page from the Manny Ramirez school of outfieldry.

He looks terrified. And so would I, were I a Nats fan

The thing of it is, Soriano should have been thrilled to move away from second base. Baseball fans have long held the conventional wisdom that he's not a good second baseman, but until I looked into this story, I didn't realise that he's an historically bad second baseman. He has the 3rd lowest fielding percentage of the last half-century...over his 5-year career as an everyday 2b he has 105 errors. Next most? The not-well-regarded defensive stylings of Jeff Kent and Ray Durham with 59. Soriano has led MLB in errors at 2b each and every year he has played there. I'd go so far as to say that there is no athlete in recent memory in american sports who has been as singularly inept (with the possible exception of Greg Ostertag) over such a long period in recent memory.

So what was he thinking? Well, first all of the fantasy league owners who had him in keeper leagues. If fielding doesn't matter, he has god-like stats for a middle infielder not named Tejada. As an outfielder, he's a nice player, but not superstar level. Which brings us to the real reason: as a 2b he was something special. Now he's just another poor fielding corner outfielder who hits for power, doesn't get on base, and strikes out like Napoleon Dynamite at a biker bar.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

First They Came for Tim McCarver...

A few months ago, I asked, and now, via deadspin, I have an answer: Yes, there is a place for those of us who hate all things Billy.
How could he not have seen an MVC game? And even more disturbing, how could he make the comment that he didn't need to see them to know about the strength of the conference relative to the other conferences.

. . .

So in retrospect, this tournament will be much more damning for Billy Packer than [Tournament Selection Comittee head] Craig Littlepage in my mind. What do you think?
Every tournament is more damning of Billy Packer. Feh.


I'm surprised that no one has used this title before, but this goes on top of the ole book pile as soon as it comes out:

Cue the Mighty Wurlitzer in 5...4...3...2...and a-waaaay we go.

I don't think it's much of a secret that I've been dubious of whatever-we're-calling-the-warrantless-surveilance-program today from the start. And nothing that's happened since then has given me much comfort.

As to the legalities, the arguments presented by the administration are laughably implausible. One needs only to look at the response of say Fred Barnes on Bill Maher's show to the question "So these powers will be fine when Hillary is president?" (and I think I just threw up a little in my mouth writing that sentance) A smirk, a nervous laugh and and "of course" with that 'you know I'm just kidding right?' look on his face.

But beyond that, I still haven't heard a compelling, non-threatening, rationale for the question-beggingly named "Terrorist Surveilance Program". Or to be slightly more generous, the continuing secret existence of that program well after 9/11. No matter how many times the President argues otherwise, nobody (relevant) is saying that spying on terrorists is a bad thing. Many people have said that spying on non-terrorists is a bad thing - thus the need for oversight to balance the harms and benefits.*

If it's a good program in terms of acquiring useful information and protecting what privacy us average Americans have left, how tough a sell would it be to a GOP dominated Congress? And please, spare me the tripe about "now they know we're listening!" In the Darwininian world of high-level crimality and terror, the stupid ones get weeded out early.

Why do I feel like I've written this before?

*Update: Hilzoy puts it well, if snarkily (as if snark is frowned upon in WAP...):
Scenario 1: I own a grocery store. Agents of the government come in and take all the food off my shelves without paying for it. I protest; they say: it's for the troops in Iraq. I reply: but that doesn't mean you can just take the food without paying for it! I write to my representatives asking that they do something.

The RNC ad: "Now people like hilzoy want to censure the President for trying to make sure that our men and women in uniform have food on the table. She doesn't support our troops; she'd rather see them starve to death than give them a decent meal. It's a good thing people like her don't run the country."

Possible addition: the Democrats propose that we just buy food for the troops, as has always been done in the past. The RNC ad: "Now the Democrats want to spend more of your money on big government programs."

Monday, March 20, 2006

Weekend NCAA thoughts.

The good thing about being eliminated by midday on Friday is that I was able to unrepentantly root for what I'd like to see happen, rather than for 'my' picks. Thus, I was able to bask in the glory of about 8,000 fans in Dayton chanting "Make Roy Cry! Make Roy Cry!" O.K. maybe it was just me chanting while watching, (though I think Dubs was probably with me) but after a year hiatus, the Roy Williams Tearful Press Conference regains its post as my favorite sports moment of the year. Speaking indirectly of George Mason, I love the way this team plays. Pressure man-to-man defense. Controlled but aggressive offense, and despite not really being an uptempo team, they get down the floor in a hurry and force you to transition to defense quickly.

And while speaking of Tobacco Road, Duke played their best game in two months to handle GW. This was the first time maybe since the Texas game that they showed some of the traditional "Duke" defense - lots of ball pressure, overplaying passes, making the opposition catch the ball moving away from the basket. Josh McRoberts is very swiftly becoming my favorite Dukie since Trajan.

Connecticut remains unconvincing, to say the least. A pretty wretched Kentucky team hung with them all the way, and this is after getting a huge scare from a #16 seed on Friday.

I'm not sure how the Villanova-Arizona game ended up being decided by only 4 points, it had the feel of a comfortable Nova lead the entire time, though Marcus Williams (felony free version) showed a knack for making big shots. He might turn out to be a player. This game also featured Jim Nantz giving *^*&^& Packer about 13 chances to admit error in going after te selection committee like he did. And while Nantz admitted he was wrong, all Billy could talk about was how the Big 10's abysmal performance proved that the RPI is meaningless, and he was therefore incorrect-yet-accurate. Whatever, ass.

Since I'm eliminated in every pool, I can wholeheartedly root UW to take down UCONN. Go Brandon Roy! Go Lorenzo Romar! Though I will say that UW's PG play can be...shaky, and considering the way that felony-added Marcus Williams is playing for Connecticut, this could present a problem.

Ludicrous game winner for LSU vs. Texas A&M. With that shot, the last glimmer of hope for my chances went out the window. LSU-Duke is a potentially fun game. Big Baby vs. Landlord, etc.

I'm pessimistic about the Zags chances vs. UCLA, except that I'm not sure the Bruins have anyone who can guard Morrison: Afflalo and Bozeman are too small, and the bigs are probably not quick enough and too inexperienced. That said, Afflalo and Farmar have a huge advantage over the intramural-quality Raivio and Pierre-hyphenated French-Name.

Finally, I agree 100% this, I now hate Applebee's, I hate shrimp, I can even make a plausible case for hating sensations...but because it's stuck in my head
Just sit right back and grab some tails
The tails of some tasty shrimp
Sensations now at Applebee's
Are really worth the trip

Sauteed, crisp fried or fire grilled
Served on a handy skewer
So many shrimp you'll want to plan
A three hour touuuuur
A three hour touuuuur

So join us here this week my friends
It's time for eating good
Shrimp Sensations now at Applebees
In your neighborhood
I may even hate the upright bass, which is really too bad since it is the second coolest instrument ever (behind the digiridoo, of course.)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Are You About Anything?

That's my question to the Democrats allegedly representing me in Congress. Are you about anything more than staying in Washington and playing silly games because you get good baseball tickets and people are always throwing you fancy dinners? Agree or disagree with him, Feingold is taking a stand. A political stand, to be sure, but also one of principle indistinguishable from what he's been saying for 5 years. And with a massively unpopular President running an even more massively illegal black-op what do you do? You snipe anonymously from the sidelines.

I can almost understand Republicans like Hagel, Snowe and Specter acting like invertebrates. Sometimes you have to take one for the team. While I might quibble with this being that 'one' (actually, I think I'm a few steps beyond quibbling, but my forehead hurts so I can't be sure), there is at least a covinving tactical rationale for doing so.

What's the rationale for the Dems here? Aside from abject paralysis in the face of the mighty Bill Frist?

Personally, I don't give much of a crap about the electoral impact of supporting the censure for several reasons. First, it's March. Methinks there will be a few storylines between no and then. Second, if it's all about winnerism, then we are no better than they are, and deserve to govern less, because at least they have the balls to take a shot. As Northwestern State will tell you, crazy shots sometimes go in.

I'll accept as fact that these are politicians, so electoral impact is no lower than #1a on their priority list (some combination of money, power and sex being #1 in some cases.) But how can standing up and fighting, especially when you are right work worse than the tactic of 'hey you voted for these guys, look how bad they suck?' A 'tactic' which has gotten us (and by us, I mean the country)
into one (bungled) war, the rumblings of another in Iran, a disastrous disaster response, a drug package that is quite possibly worse than that for anyone without Pfizer stock options, and active disenfranchisement of minority voters in Texas and Georgia.
and that was only through January. And lost both elections as well, I might add. Not to mention that we are a few short months away from another round of 'family values' rhetoric to appeal to the lesser angels of the GOP base's nature.

Look, people want to mix it up here
Initially, 22% of Democrats had a favorable opinion of him while 16% had an unfavorable opinion. However, knowing he advocates censure, Feingold's numbers within his own party jumped to 52% favorable and 14% unfavorable.
So not only are they sticking fingers in the air to determine what to do, they can't even judge the direction of the wind properly. I am filled with confidence.

On second thought, what he said. As I descend into Angry Leftism, pushed not by the GoP, but by my own putative allies. Et tu, Kerry?

Suck (My Tourney Brackets Edition)

It seems to happen every year, but day 2, and I lose. Big. In every pool...(Not technically true. In the one I care most about, all I need is for North Carolina and Washington to net two more wins over the remaining 4 rounds than do Texas, Gonzaga, UW-Milwaukee and NW St. And I need who knows what else to happen...)

I thought I had dodged my "team that I overrate due to a strong conference tourney performance" bullet when BC managed to win...Not so much. Thanks, Jayhawks. Also, since Alaska is "Pac-10 country", I got to see zero minutes of Albany taking it to the UCONNvicts until the Huskies were up about 11. Probably good for me, because I might have tossed a nutty if I was forced to watch Marcus "Laptop Lightfingers" Williams win the game single (left) handedly. So, thanks CBS, wonderful job, per usual, getting us to the intereting games just in time for the commercials.

But, in a positve note, there is at least one ally in the fight against DDS (Duke Derrangement Syndrome):
After consulting with noted basketball scholars such as Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami, however, I can offer a fuller and better explanation of anti-Dukism. It isn't really about Duke at all. Instead, it is a dangerous intersection of three forces. First, anti-Dukism reflects the natural envy felt by the unsuccessful towards the successful. The rest of the basketball world needs to find some way to reconcile their own manifest backwardness and inferiority - particularly galling given that many of them have glorious pasts which make it hard to accept their current plight. Second, there are cynical and opportunistic leaders who deflect attention from their own failures by blaming Duke. Rather than address their own failings or reform their own programs, they direct the anger and rage of their fans and alumni towards a convenient stalking horse. And finally, there is a dangerous and unprincipled media environment, which sees nothing wrong with bashing Duke at every opportunity, making it socially acceptable and encouraging others to express such sentiments. This toxic brew - and certainly not anything intrinsic to Duke or its foreign policies - explains anti-Dukism. There is no reason for Duke to change, therefore; it should ignore the craven and cynical opportunists and their culture of hate, and do what it can to help them improve themselves rather than begin to doubt itself.
If aardvarks have tongues, his is firmly in cheek. If aardvarks have cheeks as well, I suppose. (via Drezner)

Suck (NCAA day 2 morning edition)

There is nothing worse then having to listen to the end of close of NCAA games by getting the play-by-play over the phone from someone watching at an airport. Not that the Northwester St.-Iowa game would have been fun to watch, or the fact that I'm dying that Arkansas is going to lose lost to Bucknell in a close one...Actually, yes, yes I am considering that Arkansas was my money-making pick in the pool I care about.

Also, here's what I have to say to all the Haters today...
You're team is next. If they make it that far.

Seriously, I can take some Duke related hatred, but from Kentucky or UNC fans? Puh-lease. I mean, I'm sorry that Laettner beat "The Unforgetables" (actually, no I'm not. A running, no look bank shot from straight on is not a deserving game winner), but the reason your team was scrappy and not talented that year was because your assistant coaches were mailing Fedex boxes of cash to recruits.

And having lived through the end of the Dean Smith Era, no Tar Heel blue wearer should ever, ever have the right to call out another team or its coach for being smug, superior, condescending or manipulative of refs. But hey, Roy Williams isn't any of those things...Can't wait for this years Good Cry.

That is all.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Blogger sucks. We all know this. However, it didn't get driven home to me until I was unable to edit or make new posts or accept comments during my biggest traffic day ever (thanks again, Paige). Oh well, at least I have an excuse for not having posted much recently.

Bleeding From My Eyeballs

4 Screens of the Madness will do that. I admit, I am weak and could not stick out the last round at the sports bar.

Some random thoughts -

  • Florida is better than I thought. Tennesee is even worse. If Winthrop had made a shot, like, ever, they would have won by about 8.
  • I did in fact put the Curse of Poohtm on BC. Fabulous game though. Was even better while eating strawberry waffles with toast, bacon and strawberries, with several cups of decent coffee followed by a Bloody Mary. At 10 AM on a work day. Alaska Standard time occassionally doesn't suck.
  • I have a strong intuition as to the contents of the 'suspicious package' that delayed things in San Diego. CNN said it was a campus police dog that alerted. Somehow, that makes me think more along the lines of "dime bag" than "pipe bomb".
  • I might indeed be lucky enough for Billy Packer to have to shut it. Way to show up and represent the BCS, Seton Hall.
  • In case you missed it last night, the Knicks beat the Hawks in Double OT to win the NIT. And they said that Starbury and Larry Brown couldn't get along. I'm now officially surprised Isaiah didn't try to trade for Chris Webber at the deadline, just to see how toxic the atmosphere could become before FEMA became involved.
  • Good gracious Gonzaga is a tough team to cheer for. They get absolutely nothing from anybody not named "Adam", manage to give up either layups or open treys on every big defensive possession, and commit ridiculous errors themselves (an over-and-back?) And then, to paraphrase Clef, ready or not, the 'Stache is taking over.

The Political Word for the Day...

Is Anosmic. Which means, if the Panda is to be believed, having an inability to smell blood in the water. Steve Benen's headline says all that needs to be said: For a crazy idea, it sure has a lot of support.

Thursday Afternoon Preview

7 PM

UNCW vs. GW: If you played college ultimate in the mid to late 90's you know you have to hate Wilmington. My rationality about this game is thus suspect. Go GW. GO Pops...

Iona vs. LSU: Supposedly, the smart Vegas money is on Iona for this game. Not sure if that means anything. Look for Tyrus Thomas to have at least 2 simply silly athletic plays.

Xavier vs. Gonzaga: The Official Deacon of The Church of the 'Stache has concerns...Gonzaga hasn;t played anyone in months and the games have still be close.

Air Force vs. Illinois: Largest margin of any first round game not involving a #1 seed.

9PM est games:

San Diego St. vs. Indiana: Mike Davis's last game. You heard it here first. And I'll be glad to hear the last of it as well.

Duke vs. Southern: If Southern fans think Avery Johnson is going to walk through that door...

'Cuse vs. Texas A&M: I feel very strongly that Syracuse will lose this game, badly.

Washington vs. Utah St.: Washington is my sleeper squad. That usually dooms a team to a first round loss.

Hookey (Thursday's NCAA Preview) - Morning games

Game time (HUH!) is her

Noon-30ish Eastern:

Pacific vs. Boston College: If you are Pacific and your best player is a Euro-big guy, you don't want to play an overly physical team. Oops. Of course, this might be the one where BC shoots 1-14 from 3, and one of my final 4 picks loses in the first round. (It's happened more than once...)

Wichita St. vs. Seton Hall: I'm embarassed to say I know nothing about either team. WSU is representing the supposedly disrespected Missouri Valley Conference, whereas Seton Hall is a mediocre Big East squad. Seton Halls wins and Billy Packer gloats about power conferences, because I'm not lucky enough for him to have to shut it.

Oklahoma vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee: Haven't seen UWM much this year, but having seen Tennessee plenty, I wonder how much of their ridiculous hustle and intensity was Bruce Pearl and how much was the team. Oklahoma's Kevin Bookout is a strong candidate both for the all-Ugly squad, and to be billed as "Young Butterbean" in a schlock boxing movie.


Marquette vs. Alabama: My favorite. Middle of the road teams from power conferences. Marquette isn't an awful team to watch, Novak is a great shooter and James is an exciting PG.

Tennessee vs. Winthrop: Tennessee overrated as a 2-seed. That being said, I don't even know what state Winthrop hails from.

Florida vs. South Alabama: A potential upset here. Yes, Florida is athletic, but as always they are a poor man's Connecticut - talented, undisciplined underachievers with a whiff of poor coaching thrown in. The only thing I know about SoBama is that the last time they were in the tourney, Bill Mussleman was the coach and their small forward had the greatest mullet in tourney history.

Nevada vs. Montana: Somebody look it up, is this the first "All-Mountain Time" matchup ever? Seperated at birth, Montana coach Larry Krystkowiak and Nevada Matt Bullard-in-training Nick Fazekas.

Orphan (5 PM) game: UCLA vs. Belmont. Perfect beer food coma game.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006



Maybe John Kerry should fly to Switzerland and introduce articles of impeachment by phone.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Good Times

This post was accepted for the 5th Carnival of Bad History. Thanks, Ahistoricality.

The Year of Predicting Dangerously

I think the only sports-related prediction I've gotten right this year was an accident. I was angry with John Cole for some reason, so I predicted his Stillers would win the Super Bowl, figuring that my anti-mojo would cause a painful loss, tears would have been shed, and garments would have been rended. Which is what I call 'fun'.

What better time to turn things around then the NCAA tourney?

But first, as anyone who watched the CBS selection show yesterday must realise, Billy Packer is an ass. And while Dickie V. might be an ass as well, he's at least the kinder, gentler, Shrek-inspired Donkey. Billy is just mean-spirited, ill-tempered, and totally beholden to the "power conferences". In my intial rant, I had forgotten that lovely aspect. Big East/ACC/Big Ten = good, Mountain West/A-10/Missouri Valley = bad. At least in the World According to Billytm. Don't bother letting the head of the selection committee congratulate the teams that made it, just jump right down his throat about how your pet leagues didn't get enough bids (equals money = broadcasting revenue = cash for Billy. What a prick.)

That being said...committee...Air Force? Can I say that they don't belong without being accused of hating the troops? Tennessee as a #2 seed? BC a #4 and GW #8??? How come GW gets penalized for an injured star who may or may not be able to play, yet Villanova doesn't. The Allen Ray play was ugly by the way. (In college I poked a teammate in the eye in practice, and they found my thumbprint on the top of his eyeball. Yech.)

The BC-Duke game was one of the better college games I've seen in a while, easily among the top 5 I saw this year (off the top of my head, the Gonzaga-Michigan State game from Maui and the first UCONN-Nova game being another 2). I have a strong visceral dislike of Boston College, and I've decided it's all one players fault. Sean Marshall. (You may remember him as the player who screamed in Redick's face for no reason for about 20 seconds the first time BC played Duke this year) A very low game:noise ratio. Craig Smith is awesome, though unfortunately he's the classic dominant college big man who's 3 inches too small to make it big in the league. I thought everyone handled the little dust-up between Paulus (who else?) and Hinnant. Especially Al Skinner, the BC coach. I'm surprised things like that don't happen more often, where someone gets all excited and makes contact with an opponent - cue donnybrook. Oh yeah. Josh. McRoberts.

Moving on to the tourney itself, some observations in no apparent order

  • As I mentioned before, George Washington got screwed. Where the overrated at #6? Probably, but congratulations kids (and Pops) assuming you win a tough first round game, you get the #1 overall seed.
  • Has there ever been a team more primed to be upset in the first round than Syracuse? I know a little something about basketball, so I know you can't expect the Cuse-in-the-house-ohmigod-ohmigod to win this game. I wouldn't be surprised if they lost by 15-20.
  • Texas is primed for a run at a rematch with the Dukies. Will they make me look good?
  • Kansas-Gonzaga in the Oakland regional finals. Memphis and UCLA are overrated it says here. (Sorry X)
  • UCONN should beat everyone in their sub-region by 20 at least. Even though I think Washington is a better team, Illinois would give them a tougher time because if Big 10 teams know how to do anything, it's how to ugly up a game vs. a more skilled team.
  • Michigan State-UNC will be a phenomenal second round game. A very, very important game for Paul Davis' NBA future as well. I think if he handles Hansbrough decently, his stock will rise plenty. UNC-UCONN would have a higher aggregate skill level than Knicks-Bobcats right now.
  • Nevada could not have gotten a worse second round match-up then BC. They're best player is a finesse-oriented big guy, who will get the everloving crap knocked out of him for 40 minutes by Misters Smith, Dudley, Williams, etc... If Ray isn't effective for 'Nova, BC beats them comfortably as well.
  • The bottom half of the Minneapolis bracket sucks. Someone will have to make the elite 8 from there, it will probably be from a power conference, and Billy Packer will talk about what an outstanding coaching job whomever has done by taking an bunch of McDonald's All-American's to three wins vs. Davidson, the Washington Generals and the Tennesee women's team.

Pooh's Elite 8 Predictions

Texas over Duke
Kansas over Gonzaga
BC over Florida

UCONN beats Texas in the title game.

Of course, I could be and probably am wrong on about 80% of this.

P.S. for the best pool around, go here

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Greetings, readers of the Carnival of Bad History. Further, unrelated tales of revisionism can be found here and here.

The NCAA is rewriting the record books again:
Ohio State was placed on three years' probation Friday and ordered to erase all references to its 1999 trip to the Final Four and three other [NCAA basketball] tournament appearances under former coach Jim O'Brien. (emphasis added)
Setting aside the completely arbitrary and capricious manner in which the NCAA enforces its byzantine rules, (see the recent Jeremy Bloom and Mike Williams cases for examples) and the fundamental unfairness of schools making millions of dollars off the backs of unpaid athletes, this incident highlights one of the more non-sensical trends in sports these days - the 'asterixation' of history.

As silly as this trend seemed the first time it arose, in 1961 when Maris and Mantle were chasing Ruth's single-season home run record, that incident* seems positively rational by comparison to the movement in recent years to make the history of athletic achievement conform to some notion of 'fair competition.' At least then there was a meanigful difference between 154 and 162 game seasons. Now, people argue that we need some mushy, normative standard of 'fair competition', whatever that means.

Returning to the Ohio State retroactive forfeits, because of actions which took place nowhere near the basketball court, we are supposed to pretend that the gritty, gutty (and monumentally non-aesthetically pleasing, it must be said) OSU teams of Michael Redd and Scoonie Penn didn't lose to eventual champions Connecticut 64-58 in the national semi-final game? My Minnesota Golden Gophers didn't lose to Kentucky in the semis two years previously? The most influential college team of the last twenty years, the Fab 5 Michigain Wolverines, didn't lose consecutive national finals? (Well, I guess Chris Webber is off the hook, as he never called a time out he didn't have in a game that never happened.)

I understand the need to enforce rules (of course, the rules enforced shouldn't suck, but that's a different post), but what possible purpose does 'scrubbing' record books serve? It can't possibly have a deterrent effect can it? It certainly doesn't remove painful memories from the spotless minds of sports fans.

And what's next? Why taking a torch back to the baseball record books. Barry Bonds used steroids(!), so, soon he won't have actually hit home runs by the bucketload if certain chattering heads have their way.

Look, sports is not an arena where objective reality can be doubted. OSU actually won all those games. I watched many of them. Presumably, ESPN Classic still shows a few of them from time to time. We know Barry Bonds hit a lot of homeruns because, in addition to our lying eyes, there have been court cases about the balls he hit. Moralistic judgments cannot and should not be used to change the facts, post hoc. Otherwise, where does it stop? Gaylord Perry threw spitballs his entire career. That was also against the rules. He's in the Hall of Fame now. Should he be removed? Kobe Bryant has turned out to be an complete jackass, do we rescind the three championships he won with the Lakers? How about if a jury in Colorado had convicted him?

If baseball doesn't want it's records 'tainted' by steroid-enhanced performances, then maybe it should not have turned a blind eye to steroid use and abuse a decade ago. If the NCAA doesn't want 'ineligible players' leading teams to championships, then it needs to do a better job preventing abuse in the first place. Returning to the scene, five years after the fact, and pretending to erase the accomplishments of those judged 'unworthy' is notable in that it is in equal parts stupid and ineffective.

It's long been a maxim in sports that "if you ain't cheatin', you ain't trying." That's what the referees are for, to catch rule-breakers. 'Historians' imposing some mythical, ahistorical, notion of 'purity' have no business reinventing achievement after the fact.

* Ironically, the "61*" is something of a myth in itself, as MLB keeps no official record book, so there was never an "official asterix" despite Commisioner Ford Frick's threats.


Dennis the Peasant has on ongoing series on how to make money blogging. What to blog about, he asks? Why, politics of course, because:

The key to making money as a blogger is blogging about subjects which your potential audience simultaneously possesses the following:

1. Complete ignorance of the facts.
2. Very strong opinions.

Remember, you are not a United Way agency. Your job is to generate interest, not to educate or inform: Interest means traffic, and traffic means money.

And while you're remembering stuff, always remember these three simple rules:

1. Never blog about subjects that require real expertise.
2. Never blog about subjects that can be fact-checked.
3. Never blog about subjects that you can’t bluff your way through...

If you think about it for a minute, you can readily see the problems blogging about something that requires either formal training, experience and/or expertise. No matter how much you know about anything, there will always be somebody out there on the internet who knows more than you do. And since you’re blogging about that subject, guess where that somebody is going to end up? At your site.
Busted. DTP also has a extended series telling us all (right and left) why we're all idiots on the DPW thing. Tough medicine at times. Doesn't mean he's wrong.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Points of Interest

Interesting items I've come across today:

I loathe malls. They exhaust me. I'm not a low-energy guy, but an hour or so in my local commercial wonderland and I'm ready to hit up some hibernation.
Me too. When I'm around my mother, museums and art galleries have the same effect on me.
Which is why I was interested to hear a friend tell me that it was all intentional. Apparently, the demon familiars designing these things have laid hands on some data connecting blink rates to shopping behavior: as it turns out, the sleepier you get, the more likely you are to simply spring for some big ticket items and hightail it home to bed. So the lights, the layout, the sounds, the scent -- it's all designed to drain the life force right out of you.

They're probably the same people who figure out how to light casino's just so to keep you disoriented but awake. Bastards.

[H]ere’s my point. If you spend your time bouncing from city to city, you become completely rootless. Your family is probably far away, as are your high school friends. The closest thing you have to a family is whatever subset of college or grad school friends happen to be in that city. You don’t go to church, you don’t really participate in your local community. You have no stable micro-social structures of any kind.

In short, there’s a big void there. And so people fill it with work.

For reasons that might trace back to our pre-historic roots, I think there’s some inherent urge in humans to seek order. And so, many yuppie tribesmen fill the void with work. There’s little to come home to, so they don’t come home much. In this sense, work becomes a form of religion in that it provides order and meaning to one’s life.

Read the whole thing, also, check out Publius' post about the background to the Network Network Neutrality issue (which appeared in AHW a few weeks back)

  • Next, in the context of the ongoing debate (or perhaps BlogWar to end all BlogWars?) spawned by the SD anti-abortion law Amba illustrates the manner in which the opposing camps are constantly talking past each other. Essentially, each side is speaking to a different moral paradigm, and since morals are self-evident, figure that if the point is made forcefully enough it cannot fail to convince any opponent with morals. Since they are not convinced, they must be immoral and thus arguing in bad faith. Thus the left tells the right that they are only interested in subjugating women and the right tells the left that they are mass murderers. Not so much common ground there. Anyway, read it.
  • Bruce Schneier points out why datamining for terror is likely counterproductive. Part of the reason the whole capitulation on the NSA front is galling to me is that FISA may indeed be obsolete. So let's update it to match current needs and available technology while doing our best to prevent future abuse. By holding investigations at least on that front. Makes too much sense to ever happen though.
  • Glenn Greenwald has a compelling post on the GOP's "Catholic Strategy", which disturbs me in its possible implications. His conclusion:
It would be preferable if our elections were decided exclusively on the substance of the issues. But they just aren't, and pretending otherwise ensures defeat. The Republican Party is no more the party of Catholicism than it is the party of moral piety or the restoration of honor and integrity in government. Not only does adherence to Catholicism not compel a vote for Republicans; if anything, it can be argued much more persuasively that Catholicism precludes such a vote. Democrats have to aggressively make that case, and related points, no matter how much they would prefer not to have to. If they don't, we will continue to be a country whose elections are decided by filth merchants and rank religious manipulation.

Admittedly, Glenn can be florid with his prose, but I agree insofar that I've always been somewhat confused by the Democrats ceding the 'moral values' debate to the GOP. I don't want to get into a pointless empirical debate about who's better on that score - there's plenty of mud to sling to put it gently. But aside from single issue Abortion voters, why is it that "faith" must implicitly mean "Republican"? That being said, it makes me queesy to think of future elections being dominated by 'religious swift-boating' from all sides.

We'd be much better off if faith was not an issue aside from the manner in which actual (as opposed to professed) faith might guide someone's actions if elected. Show me, don't tell me. At this point, that isn't the world we live in, so it might get uglier. If possible.

Civilised discourse analyses and defines scientific truths, historic truths and matters of fact relating to knowledge, not to faith. And it does this irrespective of race or confession. We may believe these facts are profane or undignified, yet they remain distinct from religious truths. Our planet is not in the grips of a clash of civilisations or cultures. It is the battleground of a decisive struggle between two ways of thinking. There are those who declare that there are no facts, but only interpretations - so many acts of faith. These either tend toward fanaticism ("I am the truth") or they fall into nihilism ("nothing is true, nothing is false"). Opposing them are those who advocate free discussion with a view to distinguishing between true and false, those for whom political and scientific matters – or simple judgement – can be settled on the basis of worldly facts, independently of arbitrary pre-established opinions.

A totalitarian way of thinking loathes to be gainsaid. It affirms dogmatically, and waves the little red, or black, or green book. It is obscurantist, blending politics and religion. Anti-totalitarian thinking, by contrast, takes facts for what they are and acknowledges even the most hideous of them, those one would prefer to keep hidden out of fear or for the sake of utility.
Read the whole thing, and especially Amba's post and comments.

March's Maddening Aspect


A friend of mine's dad was on a two-hour flight next to Billy Packer. As people filed on the plane, they kept stopping and complimenting Packer. After a bit of this, as the plane's getting ready for take off, my friend's dad turns to Packer and says: "So, you're Billy Packet?" "Yes," Packer smiled, "yes I am." "Christ," he said back, "you suck as an announcer." And then he turned back to his newspaper and sat in silence for the next two hours.
There are two things I dislike about March Madness (down from three since Cincinatti fired Bobby Huggins. Every year, it seemed that some team with one exciting player would matchup with the Bearcats in an early round. Mass thuggery would ensue, the one skinny kid on Cincy would hit a few threes, and Bobby Brannen would be dancing on the scorer's table, moving on to the next round.)

One is losing, badly, in every pool I enter to people who know much less about basketball than I do. Of course, According to Poohtm the set of people who know less about basketball is quite large. As a digression, I'm not the only one. Our freshman year, one of Tall and my roommates was watching the Final Four with us in a student lounge on campus. The game was Syracuse-Mississipi State (with the immortal Dontae' Jones leading the way), another kid walks in and sits down. We're obviously cheering for MSU. We ask the kid who he's pulling for.


Our boy: "Well, I know a little something about basketball, so I know you can't root for Syracuse."

The poor kid left at the next TV timeout.

But the second thing that drives me nuts about March Madness is Billy F'in Packer. People who know me, may want to tune out, as they've heard this rant multiple times, pretty much verabitm. But here goes anway.

Say what you want about Dickie V, yes he's loud and obnoxious and likes Duke too much (a feature, not a bug, if you asked me, which you didn't), but he's enthusiastic and earnest and by all accounts a nice guy.

Billy on the other and is a smug, superior, smarmy sonofabitch. No one has done more to propogate the subtle racism in basketball (which gives the fellas at Free Darko plenty of ammo) than Billy. If you turned the picture off, you can always, always tell if he's talking about a white kid or a black kid. If he has "a great basketball IQ" he's a white kid. "Tremendous instict for the game?" Black kid. "Hard-nosed, gritty competitor?" White kid. "Outstanding athlete" well, you get the point.

And of course, he's a complete bobo for the coaches. Anything good, it's great coaching (classic example was the '95 title game when Toby Bailey misses a 16 footer 2 feet left, runs in and tip-dunks it. Packer response: "great coaching by Harrick to let his young freshman play." Because the self-backboard pass is just was Harrick drew up in between having his assitants do the players' classwork.) Anything dumb? Player's fault.

His self-image and ego are so massive that they have their own gravitational field. Its pull is so strong that Jim Nance, who I like during say The Masters, becomes an ass during the tourney through sheer proximity.

But it's the Big Dance, and not even Billy Boy can totally ruin it for me...

Big Music Friday: NSA vs. the Clash

The new craze sweeping the nation...Presidential Punk. We know he's a Rebel, but now DHS meets the Sex Pistols, W meets Iggy Pop, American Idiot meets...

And from his first album, the Clash-inspired hit "I am the Law":

Breakin' laws in the desert sun
I am the law so I won
I am the law so I won
I needed more power, though I had some
I am the law so I won
I am the law so I won

Lost my levee and it feels so bad
But guess what, my war is 'won'
I'm the best Leader you ever had
I am the law so I won
I am the law so I won

Peppered my friend with a shotgun
I am the law so I won
I am the law so I won
I miss my ranch and I miss my fun
I am the law so I won
I am the law so I won

Lost my levee and it feels so bad
But guess what, my war is 'won'
I'm the best Leader you ever had
I am the law so I won
I am the law so I won

Eddie, Guitar----------->

Anyway, on the the (mostly) random ten.

1. "Clampdown" - The Clash. In my top 6 pump up songs of all time. (Alongside "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin' ta Fuk Wit", "Killing in the Name", "La Grange", "Thunderstruck" and "To Be With You" by Mr. Big. I wish I was kidding about the last one) 10/10.

2. "Wild Night" - Van Morrison. Sacrilege, but the Mellencamp/'ndege Ocello cover is better. But inside, my jukebox also roars out like thunder. 7/10.

3. "Wish I Was In Heaven Sittin' Down" - R.L. Burnside. Why does all of R.L.'s music make it seem like he might be have been a real jerk in person? Just something angry about his sound. 6/10.

4. "Elevate Me Mama" - Muddy Waters. Every single song from "The Chess Box" kicks everloving ass. No exception here. 9/10.

5. "Dust My Broom" - Elmore James. Speaking of kicking ass. Best. Guitar Lick. Ever. 10/10.

6. "One Way Out" - Sonny Boy Williamson. My Ipod clearly thinks it's Tuesday. Not complaining of course. Allman Bros. made this song famous. 8/10.

7. "Let's Get Retarded" - Black Eyed Peas. I liked the ESPN NBA playoff's version much better. Plus, I'm somewhat done with BEP since "My Humps" 4/10.

8. "Crazy Girl" - Basement Jaxx. How does one tell techno songs apart? 3/10.

9. "Pastures of Plenty" - Alison Krauss & Union Station. Is that George Clooney singing? No. He's just a very good lip syncher. Unlike, say, Ashlee Simpson. 6/10.

10. "Panama" - Van Halen. Obviously, not random. Eddie, when did you become the witch from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Beware the painted man...8/10.

Average: 7.1. Helps when the shuffler has the blues, I suppose.

FrenchFreedom Farce

RIA is non-plussed over the collapse of the Dubai-Port fiasco. Can't say that I blame her that much. As Ron says, we look like boobs, "furthering our bumptious, ignoramus image in the world." (As an aside, what have we done recently that doesn't further that image?)

Icepick asks
How bad is it that Bush is the only major politico demonstrating any kind of intelligence whatsoever?
He too handled it poorly. I submit that the instaVeto threat was ill-considered, and did as much to scuttle the deal as anything else as it put anyone who may have felt, upon consideration, that they had overreacted in a position where they would be seen as a toady, and let's be honest, they're skirting the bounds of that perception anyway. (Cue Pooh banging head on table)

Also, just because there was a good deal of xenophobia involved in the initial outcry, that doesn't mean that there aren't good reasons to be skeptical as to the prudence of the deal. For example:

  • Secretary Snow's apparent conflict-of-interest.
  • The dismissal of any security-related concerns as to port administration. I've mentioned earlier, those working on the docks themselves have a good deal of influence as to what can come in, which is a bigger concern then the security of the terminals themselves.
  • Relatedly, the apparent lack of any real review of these concerns. The committee in charge of handling the intial review seems to be largely a rubber-stamp.
  • Foreign governmental ownership of key pieces of infrastructure.
  • The simple fact that the UAE is not as strong a partner as is the U.K. No one is. And there are aspects specific to the UAE that might give one pause. Like the Emirate part. Like the fact they we are very unpopular amongst the population over there. Of whom presumably some do or will work for DPW.
Note 'reasons to be skpetical', not neccesarily reasons to oppose. But, as I mentioned above, the same run-it-up-the-gut, My way or the highway, ready-fire-aim play was called. The realities being what they were (in large part due to the administration's at least implicit arab-baiting lo these 5 years), that was counterproductive, and killed any chance of an examination.

Of course, those 'good reasons' are likely to get lost again, and we aren't likely to hear more about actual port security in the near future. On to the next farce, I suppose.