Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Knock me over with a feather

According to a recent investigation, NFL athletes die young far more often than their counterparts in other sports.

The article that I linked mentioned weight-related issues, primarily among the lineman class. "My doctor asked me, 'How many 320-pound men who are 80 years old do you see walking around?' That's when the lightbulb came on over my head," Mandarich said.

Mandarich is former Green Bay tackle Tony Mandarich. His doctor makes a good point, echoed by many of the other medical professionals in the piece:
"These guys live such an extreme lifestyle with their weight that they are going to be prone to hypertension, diabetes and coronary artery disease. There is no question about it," said Dr. Barry Maron, director of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.

Kevin Guskiewicz, director of the Sports Medicine Research Laboratory at the University of North Carolina, is conducting research for the association on the issue. He said he is alarmed at the information he sees.

"We are finding a number of health issues among these players," Guskiewicz said. They clearly have higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease and hypertension, especially in the offensive and defensive linemen. And it clearly is higher than in the general population."


The relatively recent explosion in the number of 300-pound linemen "presents a frightening picture in terms of what we might expect 20 years from now," said Dr. Sherry Baron, who studied the issue in 1994 for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Dr. Baron's study was conducted on behalf of the NFL Players Association. Oddly, they have declined comment for this article. The league itself is not forthcoming:

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello dismissed the Scripps Howard study, saying: "The issue of obesity in our society transcends sports and must be dealt with in a comprehensive, responsible way. This media survey contributes nothing."

Tagliabue wouldn't comment for this article.

The NFL also criticized a 2003 study by University of North Carolina endocrinologist Joyce Harp. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study found that 56 percent of NFL players were obese according to their body-mass indexes -- the government standard based on height and weight.


That's not odd, but it is creepy. Um, many of your athletes are dying off. Many others have terrible health problems due to the ravages of your sport, essentially trading health after retirement for the opportunity to perform at the highest and most competitive level. Have you seen guys like Chuck Bednarik and Ray Neitschke? How many more like them have trouble just walking around after absorbing the equivalent of hundreds of 25-mph car crashes without cars?

Oh - and that elephant in the room isn't a nose tackle. It's steroids. Notice how the article never uses that word? Notice that Bill Romanowski wasn't busted until he quit the game and wrote a book? Notice how Lyle Alzado's warnings may as well have been written in Etruscan?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Life is but a meme

Voluntarily, as Rob from Crab Apple Lane has it. I have altered a few things and shall leave it to my readers to join the party as they choose. All I ask is a trackback - not just for the shameless link coveting, but also because I'm curious to read the results...

(My additions and alterations are in green.)

Four movies I could watch over and over:
Raiders of the Lost Ark
A Man For All Seasons (as related below)
Star Wars
Raising Arizona

Four places I have lived (as expressed in ZIP code):
11757
08753
08901 (current)
08835 (strange little town)

Four TV shows I love to watch:
Nothing currently. I mean it. Wasteland. But I won't wholly cop out - these are four I catch in reruns whenever I can.
Futurama
Cowboy Bebop
NYPD Blue
oh, one current - SportsCenter

Four places I have been on vacation:
Parrot Jungle, Florida (currently defunct, but apparently soon to reopen)
Lancaster, PA (two separate deck hockey tournaments. Won them both)
Raleigh, NC
New Hampshire (technically a retreat, but very nice)

Four websites I visit daily:
Lileks (well, weekdaily, anyway)
Coalition of the Swilling
ESPN.com
the Dawn Patrol

Four places I'd like to visit:
London
US Midwest
Japan
Australia

Four books or series I'm digging right now:
Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio
James Lileks, Interior Desecrations (the horror...)
stuff I'm writing myself (slowly but surely)
and a shout out to the inspiration for the "Sign of Four" meme, Sherlock Holmes

Four albums I cannot live without:
The Clash, London Calling
The Yes Album
the Bebop sountracks
Schoolhouse Rock


Four albums currently in heavy rotation:
Yes, Close to the Edge
Pillows, Penalty Life
Very Best of the Greatful Dead (currently playing, in fact)
Steely Dan, Can't Buy a Thrill

Four Restaurants I want to go to again. Soon.
Le Peep, Edison NJ (the only location in Jersey!)
Smithfield's BBQ
the Omega Diner (Official Diner of the Hive) - note that these travelers rightly praise the greatest three words in the history of lunch - "maple-peppered bacon."
The Dublin House, Red Bank NJ

The last four songs on the shuffle while working on this:
"Yomiko About Town" (from the ROD soundtrack)
Paul McCartney, "Take it Away"
Seatbelts, "Too Good Too Bad" (from Bebop, of course)
Swing Out Sister, "Breakout"

Four people who could do this better than I (but whom I am NOT TAGGING):
Sheila (surely up to Part 3,209 of her LA trip)
WunderKraut
Cullen
It Comes in Pints? (and especially Emily)

Seriously, no tags. Some people really don't like that, so I leave it up to anyone who likes. Truth be told, the final section was an excuse to work in four more bloggers from my regular rounds.

Time for the video store

Dawn Eden reminds me that I haven't watched A Man For All Seasons in a while.

One of the finest and most quotable films of the past fifty years, and a standing lesson that a majority of Hollywood seems to be ignoring - that lesson being that man does not entertain on explosions and martial arts alone. MFAS was rated G, and featured a series of long philosophical discussions on how man ought to live in difficult times. It won Best Picture in 1966, and Paul Scofield (as Thomas More) copped Best Actor. Robert Shaw played Henry VIII, and a young John Hurt was Richard Rich. (Top-notch casting helps! Also had Orson Welles in a small role.)

I own a copy of the play, with an intro by the author, Robert Bolt, in which he explains some of his motivation for the project. Ironically, from his comments he seems not to understand the characters that much, despite getting them down so magnificently. It's a credit to his honesty and craft. It's also something close to how I feel when I'm writing at my best - the feeling that I'm not dictating to the story, but uncovering it along with the characters. The best way to describe it is that I'm collaborating with them. It's rather strange when, halfway through some paragraph, a figment of your own imagination looks up and tells you, "No, I think I'll do it this way. Thanks for making me look good and all, but no."

And that makes me wonder about God, free will, and morality. Somehow, He puts up with us doing that to Him, and still gets His story written. It's even called the Greatest Ever Told. If I'm doing my job right, should it feel that way? Or, better, will there be a time when my characters anticipate where I'm going and cooperate?

One thing is certain, though. The characters who stand out most in my mind, and those for whom I have great affection, are the ones who are least like figments - who seem to have the most will.

Some sit and wait patiently (very patiently, by now - sorry), while I busy myself elsewhere. Others seem not to notice, almost like they have their own business to attend to outside the story. And the third, smallest class, are those that nag at me, seeming to say, "Hello? Remember that giant battle with the Ninja Space Walrus? I'd like to finish. Thousands of lives at stake, and all... Much obliged." I love those guys, whether or not they're mine.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Better now

Thanks to those who stopped in and especially to those who were wondering about my absence. The culprit was a head cold. The worst part of it was trying to sleep and having all that excess gunk settling into every open airway I own. I must have looked silly propped up on a bunch of pillows, leaning against the wall next to the bed, trying to sleep vertically.

That's done with, for now. And I got a present I'd been hoping for. It was a Sega Genesis that I ebayed a couple of weeks ago, complete with a little something I'd been looking forward to.

Long Island 9, Hartford 1

1st - LI, Turgeon (King, Kurvers) 2:17
LI, Ferraro (Flatley) 4:19
LI, Ferraro (unassisted) 4:40
LI, Turgeon (Thomas) 6:00

2nd - LI, Turgeon (Kurvers) 5:08

3rd - LI, Volek (Hogue) 2:11
LI, Hogue (LaChance, Volek) 4:45
LI, Turgeon (Thomas, King) 7:03
LI, Flatley (unassisted) 9:20
HFD, Holik (unassisted) 9:51

Shots - LI 29, HFD 23
Goal - LI, Healy (22 sv/23 sh); HFD, Whitmore (23/29)

Yeah, I blew the shutout with nine seconds left. It has been four years since my last game, you know...

Friday, January 27, 2006

Meh

Glurg. Fluh.

Sick. Funny how I can post three times a day when I'm busy but can't post at all when I'm just home in a dark room with a bowl of soup. I barely had energy to flick the remote around - I think I watched fourteen hours of various Star Trek series. But you'll have new content over the weekend. I may put together an impromptu email list of many of my blog friends to let you know when, though it's something I've avoided up until now - for one, I don't want to pester, and for two, if I leave someone off by accident it's the devil to pay.

Islanders won last night. Maybe that cured me.

Friday, January 20, 2006

C-double-oh-to the izzle, fo shizzle

The Hive clicked past 5,000 visitors since August '05, an average of nearly 800 per month since I've been tracking.

I don't get linked by Malkin (Wunder, you da man) or anything, but I'm pleased. And the lucky visitor turns out to be a fellow Long Islander. It also happens that this site is second on Yahoo for the search "Kryons Bar". (The Hive, where aliens from video games come to booze it up!)

Welcome to the Hive, fellow Lawn Guy Lander! And for all others who pop by, you may want to check this out: Gizoogle, which offers to translate your web site into Snoop Dogg Speak. Did my page and was amazed, not only by the results, but with the random phrases they tossed in that seemed to fit perfectly where they appeared. Babelfish ought to be mortified; Gizoogle beats their pants off in the translation game, sho nuff.

Heh, the ball looks like a pumpkin

I know little of basketball. It's a tribute to Bill Simmons' skill as a fun and engaging columnist that I read his basketball commentary; at least I feel like I can get through a conversation without being totally stupid.

So, while surfing channels, I caught about a quarter-plus of the Knicks hosting Detroit. The Pistons have gone to the past two NBA Finals, winning one and losing a game 7 to the Spurs last season. They are currently 31-5. Oh, and their ex-coach is now coaching the Knicks. Heheheheh.

One thing I always thought about the NBA was that a good night meant 100 points for your team - 50 per half. The Knicks got to 50 with 25 seconds left in the third quarter, by which time Detroit had opened up a lead of 23. The rest was high comedy:
  • They panned the Madison Square Garden looking for celebs. Ah - Mariano Riviera. Spike Lee, naturally. Peter Boyle. Candice Bergen. Ed Bradley. And, somebody calling himself "Q-Tip."
  • TBS dropped the ball, using "On Broadway" by the Drifters as a bump. On the day Wilson Pickett died, it shouldn't have been hard to cue up "Funky Broadway."
  • If this rout wasn't bad enough for the New York fans, TBS decides to invite Reggie Miller into the booth for a while. Reggie, mind you, is perhaps the most notorious Knick-killer of the past 25 years, worse even than Jordan. Reggie once scored 8 points in 19 seconds to beat the Knicks in a playoff game. And now, here he is on TV, talking about what they need to do to get better. To add insult to injury, he made a hell of a lot more sense than current Knicks GM Isiah Thomas has during his floundering tenure.
  • At this point, it's time to empty the bench. I hope they put in Darko Milicic, just so Sports Guy gets 1000 words out of the game.
  • There's some dude named Jason Maxiell in there now... Marv Albert is saying how he's shorter than Knick center Eddy Curry, so they should feed him the ball: "Continue to establish the inside game," I think were his precise words. With six minutes left and Detroit up four touchdowns, the only thing established is that New York is atrocious.
  • Yes! Darko, Darko, Darko, Darko...
  • And Darko scores! TWICE!
  • So, New York is demolished, an all-time arch-rival is critiquing the franchise, your only superstar is hurt, another player is suspending for a foray into the stands, hot dog vendors are tossing on Detroit jerseys and hitting open three-pointers... and your GM would rather fight a reporter?

So the Pistons are 32-5 (details here). Hats off to Detroit. Great team playing wonderfully. Darko played six minutes, hit all three of his shots, and added three rebounds and one assist.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Not safe for work, or kids

...or especially sensitive web-surfers. It Comes in Pints has gone a bit distracted... First Ken reacts to Wunder's post a bit more bluntly than I did below. Next, Emily whups Hungarian tuchis.

Needless to say, I'm still laughing myself silly, especially at Em.

I'm waiting for Dave's next post to be about clubbing baby seals or pouring salt on slugs.

When will it finally be enough?

Who do you blame when your kid is a brat?
Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat?
Blaming the child is a lie and a shame
You know exactly who's... to... blame...

NICKELODEON AND KELLOGGS!


A-yep. Courtesy of the WunderKraut, the latest in litigous nitwittery.

"Advocacy groups and parents are suing the Nickelodeon TV network and cereal maker Kellogg Co. in an effort to stop junk food marketing to kids."

...the hell?

"The plaintiffs are citing a recent report documenting the influence of marketing on what children eat. Ads aimed at kids are mostly for high-calorie, low-nutrition food and drinks, according to the government-chartered Institute of Medicine."

Lemme see, who actually buys the products? Who does it rather than put up with the whining?

"Wakefield, Massachusetts, mother Sherri Carlson said she tries her best to get her three kids to eat healthy foods. 'But then they turn on Nickelodeon and see all those enticing junk-food ads,' Carlson said. 'Adding insult to injury, we enter the grocery store and see our beloved Nick characters plastered on all those junky snacks and cereals.' "

My mother had a stock reply when I told her I wanted to eat five pounds of Reese's Pieces for breakfast - "No." If I insisted that Tommy and Gerard got to, she'd reply, "If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you do that?" Apparently, Ms. Carlson's reply is to buy her kids parachutes. Then again, they did finally come out with a Reese's Cereal, so maybe I'm wrong here.

" 'For over 30 years, public health advocates have urged companies to stop marketing junk food to children,' said Susan Linn of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. 'Even as rates of childhood obesity have soared, neither Viacom nor Kellogg has listened.' "

Hmmm. And when did Atari release the 2600? Childhood obesity is up, in part, because video games have substituted for running around outside like a banshee until darkness falls. I loved my Atari (as has been documented) but my folks rationed my time on it. What's more, they learned how to play the games themselves and it became a shared activity for us. (Mom dominated Ms. Pac Man. Dad and I were partial to River Raid.)

Prepare for the Blinding Flash of the Obvious: "A food industry-backed group defended the companies, saying the lawsuit assumes that parents can't turn off televisions, have no control over the food they buy and can't make their kids go outside to play. 'Going out on a limb here, perhaps her kids want these foods not because of ads, but because they're children,' said Dan Mindus, spokesman for the Center for Consumer Freedom."

Gee, novel idea, make kids play outdoors and spend time with them. Who knew?

"The lawsuit seeks to stop the companies from marketing junk food when 15 percent or more of the audience is 8 years old or younger. It targets not only commercials but Web sites, toy giveaways, contests and other marketing aimed at that age group."

"15% of the audience at 8 or younger..." Who the hell decides when that is? And it covers Web sites and contests? Not only can't you turn off the TV, you can't turn off the PC either?

"The majority of the food ads involving both companies were for nutrition-poor foods, CSPI said."

And have you ever tried to hide a Star Wars geegaw in a head of lettuce or a bowl of tomato soup? You're supposed to be the adults, here, why don't you think?

This is your job and not the government's. If you're truly worried about creeping fascism, guess what, this is it - the willful ceding of one's own authority and responsibility to the machinery of state. In three generations when they come to your kids' grandkids in kindergarten and say that they've scientifically assigned them jobs, salaries, living quarters, spouses, and hobbies, what will you say, beyond the brave insistence that they be permitted to choose the breed of dog they shall own?

Oh, yeah, you'll be dead - so it's not your problem. In other words, more of the same attitude out of you. What a bunch of joyless turd flickers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Judge thumbs Wendy's finger felons

Nine years - one for each remaining finger.

“I am truly sorry. I owe Wendy’s and its employees an apology,” a sobbing Ayala told the court. “Wendy’s had always been my family’s favorite fast food restaurant.”

She was known for her generous tips.

She called her actions “a moment of poor judgment,” and told her family: “For all the shame I brought upon them I am sorry, I am so sorry.”

This 'moment' lasted several days at least - she had to get an extra finger, get it to the restaurant, put it in her meal, hire a lawyer, kvetch in public...

Investigators later determined Plascencia [the lesser half of our dynamic duo] obtained the piece of finger from a co-worker who had lost the top of a finger in an industrial accident at a Las Vegas paving company. The man had turned over the finger fragment to settle a $50 debt.

If you use severed body parts as legal tender, you might be a redneck.

The husband was given another three years and four months for not paying support for the five children he has with another woman in an unrelated case, giving him a total sentence of 12 years, four months behind bars.

Lessee, that's six teeth, a foot, half a nose...

“I am extremely remorseful,” said Plascencia, 43, who, like his wife, wore prison garb to the hearing at which television cameras were permitted.

In other words, neither posted bail in the case - it would've cost an arm and a leg.

Company officials said it took Wendy’s months to recover from the bad publicity and lost millions of dollars in sales because of the incident. At one point it gave away free ice cream to try to lure customers back into its San Jose area restaurants.

But toppings were still extra.

The Robert Byrd Memorial Recording Studio

Heheheheh. (w/t to the fine folks at Swilling) The best part of the page is the banner ad proclaiming: "Straight Talk - Joe Henderson Puts His Spin on the Sports World."

Straight spin?

Monday, January 16, 2006

It didn't last long, either

Isles crushed. Of course it's ex-Isle first-rounder Todd Bertuzzi weilding the ugly stick on us. Mike Milbury is the gift that keeps on taking. In my heart, I know this is just a .500 team, maybe less - too thin on defense, not enough passing for reliable offense. Hopefully my own season will start soon and I'll have good news to report.

Other items of note - I tinkered with my sidebar a bit and returned the Dawn Patrol to active status; also bumped up Sports Guy, even if its his advice helping me to the tank in my playoff pool. I shuld have known the Bears didn't have the offense, but no, I trusted, dash it all. And yes, Diller, your Steelers rule. Seven times I humble myself before thee, Bill Cowher, and thy Mighty Jaw...

Still on the lookout for a blog to stick in the Pantheon - and maybe two. There are a couple of participants who post even less regularly than I do. Since I'm not bumping myself, that leaves the only logical alternative. Any suggestions are welcome and ought to go into the comments. (Thanks!)

One note on those comments - my email notification hasn't been working. If you've left comments in an older post and I haven't replied or seemed to notice, I'm sorry. You can always drop me a line manually: nightflymail [at] aol [dot] com. Just replace [these] with the proper punctiation and all.

Other quick items:
  • Sheila, your essay is being reconstructed.
  • Mr. B, Ms. Sister - having trouble with the Coalition pages this morning.
  • Lileks is great again. Love the pic of the rotary phone, love the opening:
"...this was my first visit inside the Walker, the exterior of which I drubbed in a column last year. Others have noted that the interior is, well, somewhat confusing – and this would seem to suggest that the building is disappointing in the two ways that count – the outside and the inside. Other than that, though, it’s spectacular."
Please check up with all the regulars. Tributes to guitars and Shelley Winters; geopolitics; movies, more movies, and stuff to drink at them; and another caption contest in a series in which I NEVER WIN. Plus more!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Han Shot First!

The bunnies get it right, in 30 seconds. The Force is with them. (And dig the Leia bunn's, er, buns... The ones on her head, you reprobates.)

Huzzah squared

It didn't take long to show results, did it? Islanders 3, Flames 2.

In a way, this is like the very first game in Islanders history, waaaaaay back in October 1972. They played their fellow expansion team - the Flames, then based in Atlanta. (The Flames won back then, also by 3-2. Ed Westphal scored their first goal.) I feel like this is a new beginning. Of course, the Isles are stuck in much the same situation as their primordial forebears. In order to get any bona fide coach and GM, they'll have to make some huge changes now, to show that they're not interested merely in playing the string. They have to take the next fifteen games to figure out what they have worth keeping and building around, and what to ditch.

Not that anyone's asked me, but I'd keep the younger guys that have formed the backbone of the past five drafts, with a few vets in key spots:

G - Rick DiPietro (who came back from his injury to win tonight's game in net)
D - Chris Campoli, Brad Lukowich, Bruno Gervais
F - Mark Parrish, Jason Blake, Trent Hunter, Mike York, Miroslav Satan, Arron Asham

That's only half a team, of course. I've seen little of the younger forwards, guys like Bergenheim, Weinhandl, Mapletoft, Colley, Hamilton, Nilsson, O'Marra.... Hope the Isles make good choices on whom to keep. Some people will have to be moved out, though. The Isles need a true number-one defender to anchor the top pair; they need a playmaking center in the WORST way; they need a couple of depth guys. Some fellow Islander fans (should they stumble over) may think Miro Satan and Arron Asham are expendable, but Asham is one of the few grit guys, and the Isles get shoved around everywhere, resulting in a lot of power plays against (they tend to hold, hit, and trip in reply, or are forced to take penalties on defense because they're too small). Satan will be fine as long as he has a strong line (tonight, he had a goal and two assists playing with Parrish and Hunter).

Anyone who'll take Oleg Kvasha, on the other hand? Perhaps for a bag of pucks and some hockey tape? Hockey tape has 101 uses, you know...

PS - yes, this is something like forty hockey posts in a row. Sorry about that. The usual variety of drivel shall be returning soon.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Hell is other politicians

And, apparently, I'll be joining them for laughing at this. (w/t to the Corner)

updated, 1/13, 10:55 am - and I will have company. (w/t to the Coalition of the Swilling, who fittingly stole it from It Comes in Pints)

Huzzah!

Bye-bye, Mr. Milbury. Don't let the Zamboni hit you on the way off the ice.

In fairness to Mad Mike, he was a solid evaluator of talent, as shown by the drafts he's put together in eight years; but he was always too impatient to let those youngsters mature. These are some of the players that the Islanders have traded (or let walk) during Milbury's tenure:

G -
Roberto Luongo, Tommy Salo, Chris Osgood
D - Zdeno Chara, Bryan Berard, Bryan McCabe, Eric Brewer, Darius Kasparaitis, Roman Hamrlik, Adrian Aucoin, Matheiu Schneider
F - Raffi Torres, Jason Spezza, Todd Bertuzzi, Martin Straka, Tim Connolly, Olli Jokinen, Andreas Johannsen, Zigmund Palffy, JP Dumont, Juraj Kolnik

Oh, yes, and he also fired Peter Laviolette, who is now coaching Carolina to a top-four conference spot and leading the US Olympic Team. He will have three of his former players (Rick DiPietro, Jason Blake, and Mark Parrish) on the squad, yet the team he left behind is 18-24.

BTW, owner Charles Wang has always struck me as a decent man and a good owner, content to stay out of things until necessary. His
statement on this occasion is very good indeed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

And NO ONE TOLD ME?!?!?

update, 1/12, 12:20 pm - nobody told me for a good reason: they knew I'd be let down once I investigated. The NHL '94 game is only available on the PlayStation 2 edition. That plus Guitar God is just not enough to get me to pull the trigger. Those teasers. :::sigh:::

I had been resisting buying the new NHL game for Alphonse, here. The Hive has enough timewasters. Then I heard of an added bonus - one could play NHL '94 to pass the time, instead of '06.


Jagr's good and all, but watch out for Video Jeremy Roenick

Now, it's no NHLPA '93 (shown above), made immortal in Swingers when Double Down and the boys strive to make Gretzky's head bleed, but between the two of them, my brother and I wore out a Genesis console. I had even debated going to one of the local shops to get a $15 used unit just for this game. Lemme sound a little like Agent Goodspeed from The Rock - first, I'm a confirmed puck head, and second, the games just play better. BTW, those little sprites look pretty darn good, don't they? In between periods, you get to see the Zamboni restore the ice, which gets scuffed and worn during play. (The picture must be a shot from a game with 10 minute periods, the ice looks very good. And dig those ice reflections!)

Oh, yeah, and the game would show highlights from other games in progress, a feature that has not been heard from since. The '93 version was considered IGN's fifth-best sports video game of all time (
a suspect list, as it doesn't include any of the High Heat baseball games OR the Tiger Woods PGA series); the '94 game is #47 on the much better 2005 list of 100 Best Games Ever.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Reality 1, Title IX 0

"Hockey is Hockey."

Objections to womens' sports? I have none. Objections to scads of people making a huge fuss over superior fundamentals in the women's game? Only a few, the main one being that it ain't necessarily so. Case in point - two separate Rutgers women's centers playing some pickup in the gym while I was a student. I am no ballplayer myself, but was able to outplay the first despite giving up four inches. She couldn't jump, had no handle, and was not quick enough to guard me. (If you're not quick enough to stop a goalie, you have a concern.) Then, the next semester her replacement spent an enjoyable twelve minutes kicking the crap out of me in the paint - she could move laterally, shoot in close with either hand, and knew how to box out on rebounds. Moral - it depends on the player.

Objections to men's programs dismantled en masse because of Title IX compliance? Oh, that's bigger. Maybe - just possibly maybe - the students themselves should determine, by actually going out for teams, which programs ought to exist on the intercollegiate level? Maybe it shouldn't have anything to do with threats of de-funding from the government?

Now, of course that's not perfect either. You'll notice that women's programs, even at successful schools, tend to be loss leaders. (w/t to Willisms) But part of that is that many of these schools have decided to fly women's sports under the same banner as men's - athletic competitions of skill at the highest level. Sell tickets, advertising, and apparel. Problem is, that's not the truth, as the hockey story demonstrates.

How close would a high school hockey team keep things against a D-I program like North Dakota or Boston University? Maybe 12 goals? An all-star collegiate team, such as used to play in the Olympics? Possibly 18 or 20. How would they fare against pros? The worst team in the league as of this sentence is the St. Louis Blues, 10-29. In other words, as sad as they've been, they've beaten ten NHL teams this year. (Why do you think the Miracle on Ice was miraculous? They beat a team that had crushed them by seven goals two weeks prior, a team that had shut out an NHL All-Star team, with players who had nearly beaten Canadian pros in the 1972 Challenge Cup. {The Canadians had to win the final three games to pull out the series.})

Yeah, but what about, say, Annika Sorenstam? A tremendous talent. The gap between her and the rest of the LPGA tour only underscores how exceptional she is to play men's events - and she herself wanted to do it to test her skills. That in itself is admission enough.

My cousin Lily plays soccer and is very good. Her 12-under team won a Thanksgiving tournament and enjoyed themselves without chasing the twin gods of Mammon and Celebrity. Everyone had a blast. (The ref for their quarterfinal game looked like Hulk Hogan, right down to the bandana, which helped.) I wouldn't have missed it, just like I've enjoyed all the scrub tournaments I've played in myself. But children's soccer shouldn't be a TV event, any more than ESPN should cover my beer league games. Objectively, we're just not that good. That's probably the solution to Title IX, as unpopular as it sounds - simply admit that certain sports (mens and womens - think wrestling, fencing) exist primarily for the athletes and not the schools' bottom lines, and act accordingly. Quit chasing the pot of gold. More people would get to play and everyone would be happier.

Caption update: Where Are They Now?

At least MSNBC had the grace to call this "Gossip" instead of "News" - the TomKat nuptials may be on hold.

Gee, with pics like this, ya think there might be something wrong? As Gary Hart discovered too late, if you invite constant public scrutiny, said public may possibly discover things they don't like. In this case, the public includes Katie Holmes' parents, since the PR machine is about the only contact Katie's handlers in the Cult of Scientology are likely to permit - and especially after the following:
With a new year beginning, Cruise “decided to take the opportunity to mend fences with the family of his fiancĂ©e, Katie Holmes,” according to the upcoming issue of "Life & Style Weekly."
Brace yourself for the Blinding Flash of the Obvious:
It didn’t go so well.
Jumping on the Holmes family sofa may not have been the winning move, Maverick.

“Tom and Katie ended up leaving — three days earlier than planned,” according to a “close friend” of Cruise. “Katie was in tears, but that’s standard when it
comes to dealing with family matters and Tom.”
The odds that "Close friend" translates to "$cientologist enforcer"? Off the charts. Even Vegas would be embarrassed to take your money. Probably, it's unfair of me to think that this "friend" subtly implies that the fault lies with the family, not the cultists... but I don't expect I'm wrong, either.
A spokesman for Cruise denies the story, but there have been previous reports that Holmes’ lawyer father is not thrilled with the prospects of the two getting hitched.
Just make your own joke there. My only observation is that either he's wised up, or that his quote in this story was bushwah. Or maybe he just read the story itself to the end, saw that Cruise somehow screwed up three previous relationships with smoking Hollywood babes, and asked his slowly-zombifying daughter to be cautious, leading to her getting whisked to a secret, thetan-proof bunker. It took less than two months for this story to follow, with nary a mention of anything from Kate's folks.
Asked by PEOPLE privately if they plan to have children, Holmes paused and then said, "Yes," as both she and Cruise broke into smiles.
Pretty much right then, Mr. Holmes probably had that Salieri moment - "I knew that he had had my darling girl." (I still maintain that Mr. Cruise contributed no DNA to the occasion, but the sentiment remains.)

Why I am going over it again? Simple. This isn't the usual round of vapid, self-serving celebrity twaddle. This is a real woman who seemed decent and sweet having her reason utterly overthrown by rapacious bastards who see her as a cash cow for their cult and a mouthpiece for their message. This is someone's little girl. I would burn with cold fury if it was my own child. I do this because these freaks are dangerous, and because I hurt for her parents, forced to witness the publicly-admired abduction and brainwashing of their child.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Tagged again

From Mr. Snitch! I have to name five quirks about myself. As a bonus quirk, you could say that this is my second tag (w/t to Emily of It Comes In Pints?), but if they don't mind, I'll pull that comment and put it here now.

Weird habits -

Number one is just being me. I'm weird in general. But I suppose y'all want specifics:

  1. I prefer Anglicisms to many of their American equivalents. "Sliproad" just sounds a hell of a lot better than "merge lane." Sometimes one of these will slip out, such as when I double a consonant before -er or -ing (as in travelling; only necessary when the original word is one syllable). But I try not because, as Emily said, it seems like affectation.
  2. My brain works in little hops. For example, if you say "grits" to me, I may start singing the "Beverly Hillbillies" theme. Why? Because "grits" reminds me of Texas Toast, which is very close to Texas Tea, which is part of those lyrics. Some of these hops are so unlikely and occur to me so quickly that I will even leave myself wondering for a moment how I made the jump.
  3. I have never been a morning person. Ever. But if I have to wake up early for an appointment, such as making the airport or going to a funeral or some other occasion, I have no difficulty.
  4. I've never been drunk, nor even tipsy, and have never wanted to be. The way others describe it, the aftermath is like having a bad migraine. Why would I willingly give myself a migraine? Further, I've never drank underage with the exception of the occasional glass of wine at family gatherings. Nowadays this puts me in a slender minority.
  5. Generally I handle big things very well, and small things very poorly. I've been hospitalized, physically threatened and assaulted, been involved in car crashes, and have witnessed the rare life-and-death situation, and have always kept my head. But I will grouse tiresomely about the stupidest and smallest unkindnesses before letting go. Who was it who once said, "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die"?

[NB - it was Mel Brooks, as Dave J kindly pointed out. He also corrected the quote, and that is the version I've included above.]

Now I suppose I'll have to tag others. I didn't see this at the Swilling, so Bings, Sis, you're on. (Ebola and Crusader too, if they really like.) Number 3, via email (I hope) is the Barking Spider. Four and five are nine. HA! OK, ok, seriously - four and five are Wunder and Cullen.

Spot the developing theme

The Coalition folks had a post expressing their concern for the health of Israel's Ariel Sharon. In reply, I wrote:


If I go to MEMRI.org right now, what are the odds that I find rejoicing from the Arab world, saying that Allah has struck down Sharon and that this is just the beginning of his vengeance?
Well, it didn't take long. You will need considerably more patience for "the ex-Nazi" Pope Benedict XVI to say anything remotely or vaguely resembling anything like the enlightened Mr. Jibril's statements. Altar boys will not be doing this because "Sharon's people killed Our Lord and this is His Vengeance." However, you probably won't be waiting very long for the Disjointed Noses of the West to sniff that of course Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists are the same deep down, and double for the Christians. (w/t, twice, to Ace of Spades)*

It makes it more important for
the truth to get out (and a HUGE w/t to the Coalition of the Swilling for this). I printed the Steyn column, because it's required reading. Too many people worship at the shrine of Multiculturalism while loudly demanding that nobody ever defend it in combat. If there were a single diety in this faith, it may well echo the God who said, "These people worship me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me..." CS Lewis had this pegged long ago, when he wrote (in Screwtape Letters, I believe) that people are meant to be certain of their principals, not of themselves, because principals aren't sinners and people are. Nowadays we're taught to believe in ourselves instead of what we actually believe, which is self-aggrandizing and destructive (going back further there, to Chesterton in Orthodoxy). The end result is that, with no founding authority for our beliefs, we become our own ultimate authorities - and that one goes all the way back to Genesis ("Ye shall be as gods, knowing right and wrong...").

How we are supposed to find peace when so many fail to admit even the beginning of a common ground is a mystery, untenable when one looks at the actual history of man and sees how differences of principal lead to terrible, intractable conflicts; untenable even when one considers that the panoplies of ancient gods were always warring amongst themselves as well. But of course we are taught now neither sound history nor the wisdom of the ancient civilized cultures, preferring the madness and error of our age instead.

*update, 2:20 pm, via Lileks: See, this is what I mean. This gives the lie to anyone who says, as Mr. Atldax did, that Christianity is evil and sparks wars everywhere. (Not content with a name worthy of any Star Trek alien, Mr. Atldax has gone on to talk like he's their ambassador to the Federation.) If he really believed this, he'd fear for his life even saying such a thing, much less slapping such a design on the butts of thousands of Swedes; he have to wonder when someone would Theo Van Gogh him. Is all Multicultism, at its heart, this transparently self-defeating?

Old-school, big-time football

I got to see small stretches of the first half of Texas-USC, and all of the second so far. This is one of the greatest college football games ever, certainly the best I've ever seen. Vince Young just wrote his own ticket, even if USC hangs on for the win. He's like some Bizarro Randall Cunningham, where his arm and legs are matched by savvy and field vision.

It's official, now. 41-38, Texas. USC was in trouble from the moment Skip Bayless wrote that they were going to crush the Longhorns. (Seeing that almost made me fly to Vegas on the spot to put down a c-note on Texas.) Look at this boxscore. Believe it or not, there was some great defense in this game, too. Texas stoned USC on fourth and short from the Texas 44. (The right call, by the way.) These offenses earned every yard, and there were torrents of them.

Folks, when this rolls around on ESPN Classic tomorrow (and it will) watch it. It was that good. I wish I'd taped the durned thing, and I never tape stuff like this. Final numbers for Mighty Vince Young: 30-40, 267 yds; 20 rushes, 200 yards, 3 TD (the game winner on fourth down from the nine, 19 seconds left); a 2-point conversion; no sacks. Stupid good. Matt Leinert, who didn't disgrace himself during the game, just said on TV that he thinks the Trojans are a better team. To quote Philip J Fry, "The scoreboard kind of says something different."

Not incidentally, I loved Keith Jackson during this broadcast. He has the right tone of enthusiasm without hyperbole. One small example - instead of saying "timeouts" he said "times out", as in "They have two times out remaining." God bless you, sir. Just class and skill all the way.

I can't stop raving. This was some kind of game. Holy cow. Grandaddy of them All, indeed.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Oh sweet jiminy crickets

Sports Guy finally caved and put up a clearinghouse of column information, gleaned from five years of writing for ESPN.

"And just for the record," he notes, "everything older than six weeks is available only to ESPN Insiders (per ESPN.com's policy for all its columnists). So, if you're not an Insider, don't click on these links and get bent out of shape."

Yes, friends, links to all the source columns. My mission is clear:

  1. Subscribe to Insider
  2. Click and print like mad
  3. Return unused portion for full refund
  4. Make it up to Simmons by buying his book.

It came out to eleven printed pages (#12 is just the disclaimer fluff). Arrrrlllllghhhhhhh..... [/homerdrool]

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Awww, how sweet of you!

Wow, and now I'm a Crawly Amphibian! It seems like the secret to blog success is to go away and not post anything for two weeks... But I'm back, and after taking a day to recover and go back to work and get into the swing of things, a post is beginning to brew. Remember that I promised "tomorrow" that I'd have the results of Project Puff? It turns out that it had to wait until I got back to Jersey. Now that I've made it, and thanks to the miracle of digital photography, you shall have pictures. Oh my, yes...

PS - new font for '06! OH BOY OH BOY!