Tuesday, November 29, 2005

And what movie are you?

The Movie Of Your Life Is A Cult Classic

Quirky, offbeat, and even a little campy - your life appeals to a select few.
But if someone's obsessed with you, look out! Your fans are downright freaky.

Your best movie matches: Office Space, Showgirls, The Big Lebowski

Well, Showgirls is crap, not cult. But otherwise, not bad for a five-question quiz. My life works pretty well as Mystery Science Theater - no control over where the movie begins or ends; and I should really just relax.

(w/t to Sluggo Needs a Nap)

Monday, November 28, 2005

David, Kara, and Milton

Another impressive post from the young men of the Rebelution has me thinking - of all things, thinking of Office Space.

Of course it's Peter's life's-too-short full-on revolt against corporate bureaucracy that gets the lion's share of the film, but Milton - "Excuse me, I b'lieve you have my stapler..." - is the guy I always remember. He's odd, he's unfriendly, and everyone simply assumes that he's a harmless non-entity. It's not that people go out of their way to mock him. They don't notice him enough to do that. He's shoved into the margins and then dismissed utterly, until he acts on all of his pent-up rage.

I can't remember now which of his essays this is from, but CS Lewis mentioned something like this: "One man may be so placed that his anger spills the blood of thousands; another may be so placed so that, however angry he may get, everybody laughs at him. But the spot on each man's soul may be much the same."

His point is that when it comes to sin, results are not the only thing God considers. In the end we finally see the results of the evil that Milton has been harboring - but it was still there eating at him even when there was no visible act. I may never become a murderer, but is that because I've rejected the thought, or because I simply didn't have a gun at the time the thought crossed my mind?

That's what I was thinking of when I read about David and Kara. He did have the gun, and so the key was embracing or rejecting evil in that moment.

An immediate objection to this is that, well, we all have dark moments. I know this as well as anyone, especially when that stooge on the cel phone has just cut me off and promptly slowed to twelve miles under the speed limit. No, I've never actually run anyone off the road. But for a moment, I can get the feeling that I could - and that's when I ought to be doubly on guard, the times I catch myself thinking, "Oh, I'd never actually do that, but..." That but is the whole point of Alex's post as I see it - how do I know? If the thought has crossed my mind, it means that such an act is not outside my capacity. "What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man." (Mark 7:20-23)

The second objection is that a deed committed obviously carries greater consequences. I think that this is a further reason to guard one's thoughts - so that it never does get out and cause that harm. For one thing, a small indulgence in harm (or in enjoying the thought of doing harm) inures and makes larger evils possible. For another, if one really wants to keep one's darkest thoughts from becoming ascendant, then it's precisely the time to deal with them, when they are still only thoughts. It may not be too late for your salvation when the blood's on your hands, but what of the person whose blood it is?

All the more reason to cling to Christ and be thankful for Him. He's the counterweight to my darkness. He's the reason I never killed myself. Everything good in my life is connected to Him somehow. Even hockey. I'd have chucked it in frustration long ago because I could never play perfectly, until freed from the need to appear perfect. And that's no accident to the discussion at hand, because at times, when I felt that there was no escape, all that was left for me was to say so - to tell Him that I wasn't worth His time, to stop hiding the awful truth from my friends that God wanted no part of me and perhaps they would be better served leaving as well. If I had never done this, from shame or from fear of appearing ungodly, then I would have never gotten grace and strength to pull through and would have been left to my own strength - the same motive power that had just finished running me headlong into the ground.

All I had to offer was my debt. Imagine my surprise when He accepted it as His own.

Update: Dec 2, 5:15 pm - thanks to the Judge Report for the link here in his most recent "Dawn Patrolees" roundup. The 'extra' comma in the title comes courtesy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style: "Separate each item in a list with a comma." They get those extra commas from such locutions as "John Q. Public Jr." (They argue that the comma is not required there, as "Jr." is not a title like "Esq." or "M.D.", and therefore ought to be treated differently.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Do these trimmings make me look fat?
I've mulled it over with some cider (ha!) and decided to start a meme - three things to be thankful for.

1 - I'm thankful for the United States and for the armed forces that help secure my freedoms.
2 - I'm thankful for my family and my friends, and especially for the times they stood by me and helped me when I wasn't deserving.
3 - I'm thankful for the Hive, and those who visit. I've only met a few of you so far. Whether I have or not, Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

Lift a glass of your favorite tasty beverage tomorrow and be glad!

Wretched Hive of scum and villainy

Welcome to the Heavy Hitters section, Dr. Shackleford.

If you shoot down one post to the Sundries entry and go to item six, you will see that I happened to cover
ground touched by the illustrious Jawa Report. Then Wunder tipped me off to a second Report post, and that was enough to get me tinkering with my sidebar.

In other housekeeping notes, I decided that it was past time for an olive branch... Welcome back to the Pantheon,
Suzette, and please accept these as a token of my esteem:

Let begonias be bygones!

(w/t to Dutch Gardens for the picture)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sundries Three

1. The print Newsweek of November 14 featured this blaring headline: "Ready or Not, Boomers Turn 60."

For heaven's sake, would you people stifle already? This is breaking news - that people age? Your parents were the Greatest Generation; get over yourselves and quit it with the breathless milestones of your own massive self-involvement. (Or not. The Nov 28 international version has a picture of John Blargin' Lennon on the cover.)

Here's a headline for you Boomers - maybe if you had won your war, we would all be happier today.

2. Speaking of which, there's more fun from Newsweek: web-only content from Eleanor Clift. "On Murtha, Iraq, and Vietnam." Because a jungle war against a well-supplied Communist satellite costing us 58,000 lives is identical to a desert/urban war against a sparse guerilla network costing us 2,000. Like, exactly like.

3. Today the Coalition of the Swilling topped 30,000 visitors. Congrats to Mr. Bingley and Ms. Sister!

4. Is it really so hard to coach? Kansas City led Houston 38-17 with about 8 minutes left in the game. Considering that your starting runner, Priest Holmes, is already lost for the year, and his backup has rushed 31 times by now, might you or I, as Chiefs head coach, rest him the rest of the way and use the third guy? But Dick Vermeil decided that Larry Johnson could run five more times anyway. He gained 35 yards and set a team single-game record on the last rush. After that, they finally sat him. Dim. The emphasis on fantasy stats and big numbers isn't healthy. Or, as Mickey Mantle said when Jose Canseco became the first man to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in the same season, "Hell, if I knew people would fuss about it, I'd have done it myself." Without the juice, I might add (the Mick, sadly, preferred sauce).

5. In its small way, this story is as encouraging as I can find about finding a friend in an unlikely place.

6. House arrest seems generous in this case. What's almost touchingly absurd are the quotes from the offender and her lawyer: "Fitzgibbons said in July that plea negotiations had broken off because prosecutors insisted on prison time, which he said would be too dangerous for someone as attractive as Lafave." Ahem, but isn't that what you ought to consider before you play Home Ec with a 14-year-old student? And Ms. Lafave herself allowed that she felt "tired" after the proceedings. Plenty of time to rest up now, right?

Two small thoughts: first, kudos to the judge and prosecutors for this: "Hillsborough Circuit Judge Wayne Timmerman said LaFave also will forever lose her teaching certificate, must register with the state as a sexual predator, may not have any contact with children including the victim, and will not be allowed to profit from the sale of her story or personal appearances." Can he be made bishop of the diocese of Boston?

And second, how would you like to have been this woman's new husband, cuckolded for a "younger man"?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Still unexplainable

"France back to normal after rioting." Depends on your definition of normal. In France, normal is "just 98 vehicles torched across the country," according to the article. It continues in much the same vein -

"In all, since the start of the troubles, 9,071 vehicles have been destroyed and 2,921 people apprehended."

Uh, forget the cars for a minute. The Renault is a piece o' crud anyway. How may people were injured? How many robberies? Businesses looted, churches or synagogues sacked? (How did the car become the established unit of riot severity, anyway? Probably a metric thing.)

"A state of emergency remains in place, after lawmakers on Wednesday voted to extend a law giving authorities the right to impose curfews and widen police search powers by three months."

Wha...? OH - the law was extended by three months. I think. Bad editing follows bad fact-gathering like night upon day, non?

"The peak of the violence was the night of November 6, when 1,408 vehicles were burnt."

Again with the cars. I thought les Americans were the selfish dolts who cared only for their cars.

"As politicians grappled with the root causes of the unrest in a bid to stop it exploding again..."

Yup, root causes. They're about the only things that weren't destroyed in the rioting. Maybe the politicians should just read the rest of the article:

"Initially sparked by the electrocution deaths of two teenagers of west and north African background hiding from police in an electrical sub-station in a poor neighbourhood northeast of Paris..."

Eureka. There's your root cause - some teens were electrocuted after hiding from the police. Naturally people blamed the poor gendarmes. At least here, we don't blame the police unless they actually shoot the fleeing suspect. Oh, yeah, and here, we put huge red warning signs on our electrical sub-stations - "High Voltage - Keep Out - Severe Injury or Death May Occur."

"Sarkozy, Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin all saw their popularity ratings get a boost in the Ipsos survey carried out November 12, with the interior minister benefiting most to garner 63 percent support."

Yeah, c'est frikkin magnifique. We blame our president for hurricanes, but they reward theirs for sleeping through three weeks of mob violence. French sensibilities are much subtler than ours.

And in related articles at the bottom - "French Rappers' Prophecies Come True." Nobody in the French government listens to the radio, either.

(big w/t to the Coalition of the Swilling)

update, 1:30 pm - "After weeks of national unrest, Jacques Chirac finally got tough on the car-broilers: he proposed job training for 50,000 of the unemployed malcontents. That’ll teach ‘em. Of course, job training is one thing; actual jobs are another...

"Too bad for Europe. Their modern vision – a post-national multiethnic welfare state linked by nothing but the language in which people curse one another – is fatally flawed."

Bless you, Mr. Lileks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ripped from VH-1's programming

Big hair, synth music, the Reggie candy bar, and Atari.

Oh, heavens, the Atari. As a Cub Scout I once sold 630 candy bars at one buck a pop (these were five-ounce mooma-joomas, too, with a McDonald's coupon in the wrapper) in order to win an Atari 2600 game console. (And with the leftover credit, I got Mom a swell gift for all the driving around the neighborhood and to shopping malls - a credit-card sized calculator. That's being nine for you.)

So when Mr. Snitch popped up with a link to video game ads remembered, I had to click over.

It's not all Atari, though. They also give a nod to the lamented Astrocade (what on earth kind of controller is that?) and show George Plimpton shilling for the Intellivision. A kid I knew down the block (Gerard was his name - how do I remember that 23 years later?) had one of these, and it was definitely in the lead, until the Atari programmers decided to let other folks at their machine. As a result we got those fantastic Activision games (there's currently a retro pack for the PC which I own and love) and a group they don't mention called M-Network.

They made a baseball game that looked a lot like the Intellivision version the ol' Paper Lion is smiling above. (Turns out that there's a good reason for that.) There were a couple of small quirks, though - 1, everything was a ground ball unless you hit it hard enough, and it then became a home run (maybe it went through the fence); 2, the third baseman could not throw out a runner at first. Ever. If you were good at pulling the ball (all righty batters, natch) you would get the leadoff man on base every time - and occasionally blast it past him and "over" the short fence for a dinger. And the football game? Again, good looking, but with the oddest sort of quirk - if you got beaten on defense, you could run off the left side of the screen and magically loop back onto the right, back in front of the ball carrier. (Neither could you aim passes to the sideline - everything just went straight ahead. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2005 Arizona Cardinals!)

OK, they don't mention M-Network. Or the ColecoVision, oddly enough - an underrated system. But they do remember this game. Apparently, we win all our wars against aliens in the future because our soldiers evolve beyond the need for any protective gear. (Some empire the Kryons have, eh? Can't whip a guy wearing Oscar Wilde's beachwear. Ol' Raquel must have been distracting them in the background, there.)

update, 6:45 pm - oh, sweet Jiminy Cricket. They're releasing a retro console. Can Christmas come tomorrow, Mommy?

Frere Jacques, dormez vouz?

I want to wrap my mind around this.

George Bush took eight minutes to finish reading a book to school children before heading back to deal with 9-11. FEMA took three days to reach those stranded by Hurricane Katrina (exacerbated by local government's inefficiency and obdurance). In each case people used it as proof of outright malice by the President.

Meanwhile, Jacques Chirac spent fifteen days hiding in his bidet while half his country burned.

This is not a recent phenomenon, as Denis Boyle recounts. And unlike our domestic examples, his emergence hasn't done a whole lot of diddly-squat to remedy the situation. (Fewer cars are being burnt each successive night, but that simply may be a case of the rioters running out of things to break.)

There is evidence (much of it compiled here by the intrepid Lost Budgie) that Those Who Must Not Be Named have taken advantage of the situation to indulge the anti-Semitism and anti-Westernism already much on the rise in all of Europe.

Yeah, it kinda ruins my lunch time, too.

Monday, November 14, 2005

But I'm not dead yet...

Just the opposite, in fact. Robert Going of the Judge Report is correct - I've had a spate of real life going for me for a while. It popped up again this past weekend, a mini-vacation out of state. (Very enjoyable, thank you!)

I find that I miss posting when I can't get to a computer, but the budget doesn't hold enough room for a laptop and remote wireless access.
Lileks can waltz into a coffeehouse and spit out a few grafs on what he saw in Restoration Hardware on Tuesday; a mere mortal bug jots notes on index cards and hopes he remembers what he meant by "Yester... cut off [scribble] milk purple monkey parachute. Whatever."

While I was gone, the good ship Rutgers
got pasted by Louisville. (And, since this is Rutgers, it was all seen on national TV on Friday evening.) I tuned in for a bit during the male bonding portion of the weekend - near the end of the half it was 14-3 and RU was punting from Louisville's 35. Fourth and 21, so I suppose that's not a good spot for a gamble. And they got a safety out of the deal after pinning the Cardinals deep, plus a good return after the free kick. So now, it's 14-5, and the Knights again face fourth down from around the Cardinal 40 - two yards to go. This time you have got to go for it, maybe behind Brian Leonard, who is a good short-yardage back. Nope. Another punt. Game over, right there. We watched for a while more, but shortly after halftime it was 35-5 and rising, so we gave up. The rest of the evening was sci-fi oriented.

Overall, however, good visit. Gas was surprisingly cheap (we got $2.07 on the way back in Maryland). Our friends were pleasant company and gracious hosts; the children were adorable; the towns properly laid-back and relaxed. For example, there was construction along a stretch of Route 1 and signs warning of a merge. Everyone moved over politely. For about a quarter-mile we all crawled along, with no sign of the construction about to begin, and nobody jumped back out and zoomed ahead down the idle right lane.

Back in New Jersey I wake up the next morning (this one, in fact) and it's Forrester claiming that George Bush cost him the election, and the callers dialing in to tell the host he's a racist. Whatever. I'll be catching up with the more important stuff over the next few days.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tales of Customer Service

A bit of an older post from Rob at Crab Apple Lane reminded me of a bad time at a diner. (Why yes, I'm from New Jersey, why do you ask?)

I was at the counter. I'd go in once or twice a month for late-night snacks and sit for while, nursing coffee and a good book, and then walk home. I did this for over two years, never trading more than a word or two with the manager, a taciturn older man who no doubt disapproved of my lengthy stays for minimal bills. But I never kept anyone waiting for a spot and I always tipped well, so he indulged me, and I just put him down as an old-school, get-em-in-and-out restauranteur.

One night a guy sat down next to me at the counter, got his meal about the same time I did, and we chatted off and on all through desert - sports, politics, whatever. When his bill came, he called the waitress - "You charged me for the large jello; I only asked for the small."

"Oh..." Small silence. "Lemme check with the manager."

That's the BIG red flag right there. Your staff ought to be able to handle piffling stuff like that on their own without being mother-henned through the process. They should not be afraid to make it right for the consumer.

But in this case, this poor waitress was right to cringe, because the manager strolled over and said, grimly, "You ate a large, you pay for a large."

"How am I supposed to know the difference just by looking at it?"

The manager shrugged, as if to say, Well, too damn bad.

This man cost his waitress what would have been a solid tip, and cost himself the future business of two people - I never went back either, the moreso because, when I paid, he actually asked, "Why are you still here?" Since I couldn't answer, I stopped going. No skin off my nose. I have since found the Official Diner of the Hive and couldn't be happier.

By the way - the cost difference between the small and large jello was 25 cents.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The natural order is threatened

First of all, America's Hockey Team is in last place in their division, currently just 6-8. But, if you look a little deeper, you'll see that this is because of the strange alchemy the NHL uses to calculate the standings.

For example, tonight's opponent, the New Jersey Devils, are also 6-8. But two of those losses were in overtime, so they get one point each for them. Those two losses thus are considered, by the NHL, the equivalent of a win, and they are two points ahead of the Islanders.

And consider the team sitting in between them in the standings, Pittsburgh. They are 4-11 - a hideous winning percentage compared to the Devils and Islanders (.267 to .429). But FIVE of those losses came after regulation - that means five pity points, a whopping two-and-a-half extra wins in the eyes of the standings. And what reward have the Isles gotten from actually winning their two overtime games?

The league has to cheat to keep the Islanders from their rightful place.

(What's that? Maybe the Isles shouldn't have lost their top two defensemen in free agency, resulting in nearly four goals allowed per game? Blasphemer! Nananananana can't hear you blah blah...)

Seriously - the league abolished the tie because two ties equalled a win in the standings, and replaced it with a system that was even worse. The true solution is really painfully simple - perhaps too simple for a sport whose guardians chose to destroy an entire season rather than cooperate with each other. Wins should be three points each, not two; ties should be one point; one gets nothing for losing. ZERO. Then make the overtime ten minutes. Believe me, to get those extra two points, teams will risk the loss - especially if it means that going 1-1 (for three points) leaves you ahead of the team that simply takes the two ties (two points).

As it stands now, teams that lose get a reward, and could possibly make the playoffs ahead of teams who actually play winning hockey - and what happens in the playoffs? All those losses suddenly equal losses and you're done. That isn't exciting hockey for the folks at home.

PS - my goalie buddy Steve said that the Isles would miss Adrian Aucoin much less because he wouldn't be as good under the new rules. So far he's right on, as Aucoin is -6 with only one goal and three assists. But I still think he's better than at least four of the Isles current top-six.

PPS - updated Nov 9 - Islanders 4, Devils 1. It's one small step for hockey.

OK, I passed, but....

You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 9 out of 10 correct!

Freakin' hell. I think I forgot which of those New England states wasn't in the first 13 colonies. Should have known them all.

Thanks (I suppose) to
It Comes In Pints? for making me feel inadequate.

A Cultural Normandy

(You'll forgive me if this rambles - it's a lot to say in a lunch hour, besides the actual linking work, so I didn't really edit it. I just want to start the conversation and see where this idea leads us.)

It's been building for some time, hasn't it? Rapid immigration; a cultural elite too timid to insist on assimilation (for fear of offending the newcomers); such restrictions on economic incentive that the newcomers can't escape government subsistence. There's more, of course, but that alone is enough to brew, over the short span of two generations, an explosive situation that is now boiling over across the whole face of France.

If you want the nittier, grittier details, there's always the excellent Victor David Hanson, or the equally-excellent Mark Steyn. Examples are provided. The real bone in the throat about it all is that we have a similar situation cooking over here, only on a lower simmer, with large groups of unassimilating immigrants. Now, we do have two things in much greater supply than the Old World, and they help some:

1. Economic freedoms. Our unions are not so exclusive as to shut themselves to new members. Our businesses are not so beholden to the state as to prevent most new ones from forming. As a result, many of the people who arrived on our shores penniless, knowing nothing of the language or customs, built happy and successful lives for themselves in ten or twenty years. (It happened with the Irish, Scots, Italians, Jews, and more recently is happening for Hispanic, Indian, and Vietnamese families.)

2. Cultural freedoms. Say what you want about American excesses - in fact, it's certain that you'd be echoing complaints from nearly every moral and religious viewpoint - but there's one true and good thing that they mask, that is still expressed by the sheer variety and magnitude of our possible choices of entertainments and goods. In all of this there is a good deal of healthy "live and let live," a willingness to let others enjoy things according to their tastes and not one's own. In rejecting the excesses on display, the Old World has often gone too far in reverse, and healthy innovation and creativity are stifled.

So, has the Fly gone to the Dark Side? Am I blaming the current war in Europe on disenfranchisement and 'root causes'?

No. That stuff is all half-baked bravo sierra. In fact, I think it gets used to prevent people from looking at the real problem. We have those things and they help, but they are not magic bullets, as the attacks on our own soil and our own people abroad have amply proved. The current enemy hates us for having those things just as much as they hate Europe for not having them. But not having them leaves Europe more vulnerable when the spam does hit the fan, and that's the point I want to make.

The French have made it a point to hold themselves snobbishly superior to much of the pell-mell character of America, and in doing so have wound up losing the good parts of that character - the self-reliance and determination, the imagination to solve problems and the vigor to put those solutions into practice. They're far too used to sloughing off major responsibilities to governments (either their own or the UN). Now those governments, themselves staffed by people in the same mental and spiritual situation, are overwhelmed by a force that not only has those strengths, but also lacks the key moral restrictions that channel those energies into useful pursuits. The Muslims who are currently busy destroying and pillaging are energetic, determined, and mentally-agile enough to have concocted a convincing Koranic justification for their mayhem - one which wins converts daily and allows them to believe that their own weaknesses are imposed from without by the infidel instead of rising from within. The result of these tectonic movements is not hard to predict - upheaval.

What's needed is a healthy dosage of that spirit on our side, hence the title of this post. In a sense, we need a cultural landing of liberal Western morals and values - not the debased leftist nonsense about tolerance, nor of accomodating oneself out of existence, but true liberality of thought for humanity. The freedom to disagree, by definition, includes the freedom to hold a different position and to argue it forcefully. That's where the force should end, however. If we weren't so afraid of letting those differences come out in our debate, maybe we wouldn't risk so much actual violence. (In a way, it's like letting people in an agressive sport work out their differences during the play. If you clamp down too much on incidental contact, you wind up with the same brawling that you'd get if you let too much go.)

To make this landing we have to be strong ourselves, but that isn't happening consistently. The Lost Budgie blog is an excellent compendium of some of the warning signs taking place in the rest of the West. The current example is that Christmas lights are going the way of Piglet, "Christmas does not fit in with its 'core values of equality and diversity'." (I don't see what's so exclusionary about "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and goodwill toward men," but then again...")

They started, as many here have already made long-standing practice, by calling them 'winter lights' or 'festive decorations.' But drained of their meaning, they are flimsy shells unable to provide any real nourishment for those who really want or need it; further, they provide no defense against those whose attacks caused such a shameful retreat. Not surprisingly, the attacks intensify, as is proper when it seems like the enemy is withdrawing. Over the past twelve days in France, the retreat is turning into a full-on rout. This begs the question - if your adversary isn't bargaining, but simply using concession as a new baseline from which to make further demands, are you really being dealt with fairly? I mean, we're told often enough that this tolerance thing is to make our society a fabulous mosaic of peoples and customs. But a mosaic requires that all those different colors and shapes form one coherent picture. Our current enemy in war wants a different picture than we do, methinks...

Besides, we already had that ideal at work in the United States, through the "melting pot" concept. "E pluribus unum," dammit - out of many, one. It was working, too, or at least working far better than the current nonsense. We had one people, all of whom, using their several strengths, built a much better country together than one based on a single point of view or one form of thought. The current multicultural approach is causing the opposite - from the one country, many incompatible little bits.

It sounds jarring, perhaps, since we're not used to thinking this way any more. We've been spoon-fed the same thin grey paste all our lives - don't insist on what you think is correct, or even what you prefer, lest you offend someone. Yet the someone in question, unused to having any of their own assumptions challenged in any way, quickly thinks that they're entitled to them - that they must forever remain unexamined. Oddly enough, that's exactly what Islam demands of its adherents, total submission of thought and deed. In trying to accomodate them, we've inadvertently affirmed the most radical interpretations of their creed. Wonder of wonders, they now fully expect that we're on board with the jihad - that we ought to, by right, surrender everything else of ourselves as well: our goods, our institutions, our laws, and our faiths. That's not every Muslim, perhaps, but it's enough of them to be a serious problem. We have to get them more used to having such aspirations crossed in small matters, so that we can have true peace and understanding instead of polite fictions masking deep resentments.

And, just possibly, by sticking up for ourselves we may force the more thoughtful of our adversaries to have respect for us. Perhaps, we may even help some of them to more rigorously examine their own beliefs and work to improve them - thus achieving through honest dialogue what we never could through cultural and intellectual appeasement.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Son of Sundries

1. Yawning along. I will get into my own bonnet on occasion regarding a political matter, but not because I am primarily a political bug. The philosophy of the Constitution fascinates me, but not the daily machinations of bureaucracy. That's why this whole Corzine/Forrester thing is one big shrug in my little world. I don't think Corzine is particularly bad for the state - he's been doing absolutely nothing in the US Senate that I can see aside from voting predictably. His ex doesn't like him. Zounds!

Forrester is less bad, perhaps, because he seems to have a plan, even if that plan won't prove as successful as he hopes. The problem is that, even should he win, the Assembly will block large parts of Forrester's agenda, and then blame him for breaking his campaign promises. They will then regain the Statehouse. If Corzine's lead holds and he wins tomorrow, he won't have that worry, and we'll have four years of a man whose chief ambition seems to be to hold office - not to do anything particular while he's there.

Oddly, that might be the best hope for New Jersey. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions; the only reason the road to bureaucracy isn't similarly paved is that the Committee for Good Intentions can't get the proper paving clearance from the Department of Roads, Streets, Avenues, and assorted Boulevards; besides, there's no quorum on actually choosing which Intentions are Good. And for a bureaucracy, that's a solid month's work. Bigger pensions all around!

2. Well, I didn't see that coming: Terrell Owens,
suspended indefinitely.

So, causing an on-field brawl by spiking the Dallas Stadium logo, outing his former quarterback (erroneously, as it turns out), completely undermining his head coach, and whining his way off of one team and off of the team they traded him to - those weren't accidents? I mean, he turned over a new leaf after that Desperate Housewives thing on Monday Night Football, right? (OK, it was Ryan Leaf, but really...)

Kids, of course we all knew this was going to happen. In fact, the only surprise is that this didn't happen last season. But more to the point, the Eagles knew even while making the deal. That's why, after the hugely predictable contract squabbles this preseason, they didn't cave to TO. My theory is that Philly figured that a healthy Owens could put them over the top and get them the Super Bowl - a theory that nearly paid off. Anything after that was gravy.

This year, Philly may miss the playoffs - but then TO goes away, probably via trade to the next desperate head coach, freeing up an extra $7 million and bringing back assets in return. Philly can use the higher draft pick to good effect as well. 2006 rolls around and lo, a healthy Donovan McNabb leads a rejuvenated squad that is more talented than its current record. Don't cry for Andy Reid - TO didn't play Andy, Andy played TO. And now TO is on that long lonely train out of town.

3. Quo vadis? The Wunder is tired. I know what he means. This is hard to do consistently - even harder to do consistently well. There's always a tug to just chuck it all in favor of a new hobby. (It happens all over.)

I think that WK does do this consistently well, and is pulling the numbers to prove it. That doesn't mean that it doesn't get hard, from time to time, to sit at the computer and put out some content. If anything it gets harder - there's pressure to be at your best, and a fun hobby becomes a chore. Here's to hoping that you reconnect with your Muse, Wunder.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Jersey Carnival, Silver Edition


Yup. Tillie is 25 weeks old this morning, and the party starts over at The Art of Getting By. Go see!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The NFL Channel


"This is HBO. Tonight on the Sopranos, Vinnie and Curtis invite Antonio, the powerful West Coast capo, to a private function, little suspecting that he's packing superior firepower for the occasion. Who will come out on top in the ensuing battle?"


"So, what do we have?"
"This is a real doozy, boss. These two teams decided to slug it out right here in the stadium. Both dead."
"Hmmm... I don't think they killed each other. Look - right there - see those offenses? See how stiff they are? Notice the lack of blocking?"
"No QBs, either. I saw that."
"These offenses were dead before this game ever started."
"So they didn't kill each other. Who did?"
"Probably the fans. I think this one dropped first, though."
"I guess you could call that a Vikings win, then."
"Yeah. Not much to celebrate about, is it? Just call it self-defense and move on, the four-o'clock games are starting soon."

What can Browns do for you?
We can move your national and international shipping, on-time, to 87 countries... track any of the seven million packages in our system at any time... and offer prompt, courteous service through any of our stores and drop-off centers. However, we can't deliver a football 100 yards in 60 minutes.
Trust Tenn-Ex.


"We now return to Masterpiece Theatre..."
Once upon a Sunday dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many quaint and curious playbooks of forgotten lore
While I pondered, much desponding, suddenly there came a clomping,
As of someone clumsy-plodding, plodding 'cross the stadium floor.
'Tis some rushing back,' I muttered, ' vainly trying to make a score -
Such is life in Baltimore.

"In this dramatic re-enactment, George Armstrong Custer, here played by Norv Turner, orders his defenders to pursue out of the sight - and the safety - of his home base. Once in Kansas City, the Chiefs use a pincers strategy, attacking along the ground and through the air, to overwhelm the Raiders despite their firepower. An overwhelming Chiefs rout ensued.
"Next week on History Channel - Super Bowl XXII analysis with Howie Long and Lord Boddington Hartwell-Smythe."

"Now, you see, Andy, I say the Saints can win this one."
"No, Medavoy - Aaron Brooks is involved. That means bad passes and poor decision-making against a tough defense. That means turnovers. That means no points."
"But Andy, Chicago has no offense either. Young quarterback on the road?..."
"You want to put money on this?"
"I'm not comfortable with that... Let's make it a mind bet. Fifty imaginary dollars on the Saints."
"How about twenty real dollars on the Bears?"

And the frequent flubs and sacking of the purple quarterbacking
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, with game time fleeting and the offense fast retreating
Called I to my book, entreating, 'Give odds on the halftime score -
Two-to-one,' I called entreating, 'that they make a field goal more -
Just those odds, and nothing more."

"Animal Cops - Florida"
Last week's opponent proved to be of great benefit to the Carolina Panthers. But before they can return home, game wardens bring them to Tampa for a thorough examination by top experts.
Dr. Bradshaw - "These are healthy cats. They look terrific. We test them by sending their receivers out for a variety of patterns, and you can see that the results are right on target. They'll have no trouble catching prey."
The news is not as good for the Jaguars. After looking good in previous tests, their kicking problem has flared up, and veterinarians are forced to give them much softer opponents to get them back on track.
"I think that the Panthers and Jags will both be fine for this week, at least. Hopefully they can make it through the season and well into January."

They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning
No one, you see, runs better than he,
And he plays for, plays for, plays for the Falcons,
No flipper is he, but a running QB...
"Uh, Pop?"
"Yeah, Son?"
"We've got a problem. Flipper can't catch people running on land."


Then the head coach, arm-crossed, frowning, sent my visage into scowling
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance he wore.
'As thy team is slowly losing, thou,' I said, 'are surely choosing
Where to send your résumé for employ on the further shore -'

Meanwhile, Eli Manning and his G-Men speed toward Mike Nolan's San Francisco hideout!
"Everyone knows where the end zone is, Mr. Manning. The question is, what are you prepared to do? When you throw incomplete, they have to throw an interception - they put up a field goal you put up a touchdown - that's the Chicago way!"
"Uh, well, it's not really the Chicago way this year..."
"You've got a point, man..."
"Don't worry, we know what to do with these guys. We're the G-Men, baby."

And the Ravens, barely hitting, still are sitting, still are sitting
Just beyond the forty-yard line, facing third and twenty-four;
Surely Billick called a run play, surely Cincinnati's Sunday
Shall be happier than the fun day Paulie knocks upon my door;
Then with mis-hinged thumbs shall I lie, moaning, on the floor -

Because I picked Baltimore!

"OK - tell me what you don't like about your team."
"Well, doc, my best receivers are hurt, my running back is hurt..."
"My head coach sleeps standing up on the sidelines."
"I feel like I'm in some fever dream - my throws sail on me and I can't tell where the line of scrimmage is."
"Well, here's what we can do: we can tighten up your line a little and give you more protection here; maybe bring the receivers on shorter routes, throw some timing patterns, get you in a rhythm. But I have to warn you, Brett - you're still 84 years old."
"Look, doc, I just need enough to get me through the year..."
"Of course. I can help you. But it won't get you a win this week against the Steelers."

"Next week on 'Lost,' Kurt deals with the constant frustration of going from city to city, yielding in mid-year to younger quarterbacks who have success; Dennis fights desperately to protect his baby running backs; and will the young receivers reappear? Will the Cardinals ever be rescued, or is this some Cris Carter deal where the writers put themselves in the corner and can't resolve their plot lines?"

"Hello, this is On-Star, how can I help you?"
"I need to report an accident!"
"OK, I show your location as Rutherford, New Jersey..."
"That's right - I'm driving the Redskins bandwagon, and suddenly the wheels flew off and we went smashing upside-down into a tree."
"Are you in immediate danger, Mr. Gibbs?"
"Well, the tree caught fire and fell on us."
"I will send emergency services right away."
"Wait - I can see something coming now... It's the Philadelphia team bus! We're saved!"
"You're welcome, Mr. Gibbs. Have a pleasant evening."

PM - "Hahahahahaha! Man, this stuff is great. Did you see this, Marvin?"
MH - "Yeah, man. Yeah."
PM - "Edge?"

EJ - "Y'know I don't go in for that crap, man."
PM - "Well, your loss."
MH - "C'mon, you don't think it's that good?"
EJ - "Better than watching Spurrier beat Tennessee AGAIN."
PM - "Oh, haha, Edge."
"Hey - what are you guys doing in here channel-surfing? Tony says kickoff's in twenty minutes!"
PM - "Ummmm..." ... ... "...can I watch 'Desperate Housewives' instead?"

And a programming note - the Hive's 3,000 visitor stopped in a few hours ago, from South Africa! A great wing-tip to Muley's World for the referral.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Just what I like to see with five bucks on the line

So, glancing around me here on the web, I find that Sports Illustrated's web site has a little blurb about the ten most disappointing players in the NFL this season. Naturally, Jamal Lewis is the man they use in the link picture. And why do I mention this? Because, in a fit of lunacy, I told Big Al that I was taking the Ravens as a home underdog in the pool this week.

Then I actually click onto the feature and see that the list of ten actually has eleven items. I hate when they weasel out and use a tie at the bottom. Maybe to cheer myself up I'll look at the list of ten surprising players first.

Oh, that's even better - Surprise #11 is an advertisement for Chicago White Sox memorabilia.

A crummy commercial?... sonofa...

And tomorrow - football picks, but done in an entertaining fashion for my non-sporting readers.

update, 5:08 pm - you know how Sports Guy likes to talk about the Aaron Brooks face? Click the pic for the full effect.

Wait, maybe I should run backwards fifteen yards first! Heheheheheh.