Friday, June 29, 2007

Sharia in the Magic Kingdom

The term "culture war" took on a whole new meaning on Al Aqsa today:

Gaza Strip -- A Mickey Mouse lookalike who preached Islamic domination on a Hamas-affiliated children's television program was beaten to death in the show's final episode Friday.

That Walt, always the pioneer.

In the final skit, "Farfour" was killed by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfour's land. At one point, the mouse called the Israeli a "terrorist."

The original ending had Farfour sitting with Minnie and Donald at a Sbarro's in Damascus, nervously eyeing several customers while Daisy struggled to park outside - and then, cut to black.

"Farfour was martyred while defending his land," said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed "by the killers of children," she added.

Uhm... isn't Sara a Jewish name? Some geniuses they have over there at Al Aqsa.

Station officials said Friday that Farfour was taken off the air to make room for new programs. Station manager Mohammed Bilal said he did not know what would be shown instead.

What else but the public beheading of Goofy and Pluto, the unclean dogs?

All snark aside, this would be ridiculous, except that it shows the depths to which the terrorists will sink in order to fight this war. Over here we are constantly contorting ourselves to come up with examples of individual Muslims or groups that are not murderous bastards - and truth be told, there are some. They are usually ignored because many of them think we ought to take up arms in order to permanently defeat the murderous bastards. They write under assumed names and stay in hiding lest someone carry out a fatwa for their head on a pike.

Now, as a nation we can respond by bringing a copyright action against Al Aqsa, or dropping ordinance on Hamas until they decide that murderous bastardry has a dim future.

As harsh as option B sounds, consider that option A, even if successful, does nothing to help stop the war. Consider that while we wring our hands, generations of Palestinian children are encouraged to root for a plucky icon, come to trust everything he says about the "killers of children," and then beaten to death by one of those killers as they watch in horror. Can anyone doubt how effective this is? The message is unmistakable - you will be next, kid, unless you join the jihad.

Unless this cycle is broken, we will have to fight this war over and over again, on increasingly worse ground, both tactically (as terrorists make or are given victories) and intellectually (as the lies become long-established, "accepted wisdom"). War will seem at first to confirm everything these kids have heard since birth about the West: until the war is actually over, and they can see for themselves that their homes will be rebuilt, their schools re-opened, their religion respected, and their lives generally improved many times over. They will be able to see and compare for themselves life as expendable pawns of their own religion and families, and life as free people at peace with their neighbors. Unless we fight and win, they will never have the chance nor will they ever know the difference.

Welcome to Downing Street

Gordon Brown is on the job all of 48 hours and wakes up to this.

Earlier Friday, police said they thwarted an apparent terror attack near Piccadilly Circus, after finding a car loaded with gas cylinders, nails and a detonator after an ambulance crew reported seeing smoke coming from the vehicle.

The explosives were powerful enough to have caused “significant injury or loss of life” — possibly killing hundreds in an area famed for its nightlife, British anti-terror police chief Peter Clarke said.

"Apparent" meaning "It may just have been an innocent need for gas cylinders, nails, and a detonator among the flourishing Freelance Construction community near Picadilly."

A British security official told The Associated Press, ... on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, [that] Britain’s domestic spy agency MI5 also would examine possible connections between the bomb attempt and at least two similar foiled plots — including a planned attack on a West End nightclub in 2004 and a thwarted attempt to use limousines packed with gas canisters to attack targets in London and New York.

Hey, did you say New York, the York that happens to be over in our country, the country that seems determined to fail to patrol and defend its southern border? That New York that was already attacked once?

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who took office on Wednesday, said the foiled bombing was a reminder that Britain faces a serious and continuous threat of terrorist attacks and that people should be alert.

“I will stress to the Cabinet that the vigilance must be maintained over the next few days,” Brown said.

Mr. Prime Minister, sir, the quote is "eternal vigilance is the price of freedom." A few days' vigilance is the price of impending slavery. It would be nice if the West would quit hitting the snooze button on the War and fight to win, instead.

This Parrot is Dead!

It's not pining for the fjords, or asleep - but DEAD!

You readers know what was in the immigration bill, and the manner in which it was thrust upon us. Here's my post-mortem:

1. McCain's presidential campaign is like Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense; He's dead, but he doesn't know it yet.

2. McCainkisser Lindsey Grahamnesty's approval ratings are @ 31% in his home state. He will get a primary challenge.

3. I changed my voter registration from the GOP to No Party Affilliation when former Labor Secretary Linda Chavez called me a racist. No more working phone banks or going to rallies or standing on street corners with signs. I will never again hold my nose to vote for some RINO.

4. The only way my hand presses the ballot screen for my Senator and McCainkisser Mel Martinez in 2010 is for it to be first hacked off my arm.

5. This circus hurt the war in Iraq. In September when the report on the surge is due, the president will need every friend he can get. And he lost quite a few this month.

6. According to Rush, GOP senators were told by their Dem counterparts to go ahead and vote for Cloture, that they would take care of talk radio. Expect some GOP senators (Trent Lott, McCain, Grahamnesty, Martinez) to back some form of the Fairness Doctrine AKA The Hush Rush Bill.

Damned right the Sisko is angry! My eyes are opened. These arrogant SOBs don't give a rat's toenail about the clear will of the people who put them in office. Remember this when these votewhores ask to be re-elected. I sure will.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chattin' with Joe

[UPDATE - all the way down at the bottom, I screwed up. Takashi Saito is 37, not 27 - don't know how I misread his player bio, but it happened. I asterisked it twice to emphasize my nitwittery.]

Or, chatting in the place of Joe. [Link goes to the decidedly not-Morgan friendly FJM, since ESPN restricts the chat transcripts to Insider members. Both his original comments and the requisite fisking are there. As always, I cut and paste the questions here, answer them, and then read up later.]

Matt (Watertown, NY): Where do you put the blame for the fall of the White Sox this year? I'm blaming injuries for our demise.. Erstad, Podsednik, Crede, and Dye have been injured, hurting our offense!

NF: No doubt, but the injuries are a symptom of larger issues – the ChiSox are getting old. Thome and Dye are beginning to decline, Joe Crede is coming back to level after a career season, Erstad and Podsednik… well, truth be told Matt, they’re not that good right now. They still have the heart but not the skills to be regulars in the lineup. Also, Chicago plays in a tough division. They had to get better just to keep up with Detroit, Cleveland, and Minnesota; they got worse instead.

Brent S. (fjm): Why are the yankees so up and down ths season? also what are your thoughts on the rocket coming in relief?

[First - note that nifty "fjm" there. Nice shout-out. Brent asks a number of these today.]

NF: The pitching isn’t there for them. Mussina is looking poor, the young guys are hurt or not ready, and even Wang and Pettitte make their fielders work since neither of them is a big strikeout pitcher. It’s constant pressure. As a result, they work harder to get the same outs. Part two of your question is related. Clemens’ relief appearance is a giant neon sign hanging in the Yankee bullpen – We Are Overworked. Proctor, Farnsworth, Vizcaino, and etc. are all seeing more innings than is wise, and pitching poorly in those innings.

Zach (Montezuma, IA): What will the Padres get out of Barrett?

NF: Improved offense, for one. It’s a calculated risk on their part. I think the Cubs cut ties because you can’t have your starting catcher punching out your best pitchers (or getting punched out by them). Barrett knows this and I think that he’ll be on his best behavior because of the extra scrutiny that will follow him (even to San Diego). He can’t risk being seen in a shoving or shouting match with Jake Peavy or Chris Young, or his career will be seriously damaged.

Will (Lexington, KY): the reds have young talent for sure, but can they become contenders with the management they have right now?

NF: Tough to say. Of course, that question will determine what they can get for Junior in a trade… and it’s hard to say until the trade happens how bright the future might be for Cincy. If they only get middle prospects or average players, the answer’s obviously No. If they can bring over a strong prospect and a young current star in a deal for him to a deep contender, then you can be more confident. Thing is, their moves recently haven’t been terrible. I’m hopeful for a turnaround in a couple of years, especially if they can build around Dunn and Hamilton’s bats.

Brent S. (fjm): Are the braves dead?

NF: Not remotely. (Full disclosure – I am a very nervous Mets fan.) I like their young hitters, and they’ll get Chipper up to full speed in a couple of weeks and threaten for the Wild Card at least. As the recent Met slide shows, nobody is a lock in the NL East this year. If the Braves manage a deal for another pitcher, they are a good candidate for the postseason.

Brent S. (fjm): is sammy sosa a hall of famer?

NF: I would vote no. The doping has one side-effect nobody can ignore: stat inflation. Even 500 homers isn’t the milestone it used to be when there are 50 players every season who can hit 2o homers. And it snowballs – in “Game of Shadows” Barry Bonds is shown saying, in effect, that if McGwire and Sosa can get away with obvious juicing, and get the respect I never had simply for being great, then I’m juicing too. Soon guys like Rey Ordonez are juicing too, just to try to hang on in a sport increasingly compromised by inflated power numbers.

NF: Once upon a time, Sosa would have been a prized player – at his peak it’s not hard to see him roping 45 doubles, 25 or 30 (legit) HRs, hitting.280 or so, stealing 15 or 20 bases, and playing a pretty good corner outfield. Not enough now: and he’s one of the guys whose tainted success is directly responsible. I’m going to say no.

mvp (mvpland): will ken griffey jr. get traded if so what team?

NF: He can veto any deal, so a move is going to be more difficult – probably why the media have Dunn on the block every second Tuesday, instead of Griffey. But I think it does get done. In Seattle Griff let slip that he would like to play some meaningful baseball while he still has a couple of productive years remaining. The Reds will try to get it done, for his sake and theirs. Minnesota would make sense; I could even see him going to Boston, with the Sox splitting him in CF and RF, sitting either Drew or Crisp (or sending one of them in return) depending on the circumstances. One of the NL West teams may bite in an effort to separate from the logjam at the top of the table.

Shawn Dayton Ohio: What do the indians need to do before the trading deadline to help them make the final push to the world series

NF: Most teams could use another starter. The Sowers/Westbrook combo has been dreadful for Cleveland. The White Sox would never send Contreras or Buehrle to a division rival, though, so it’s hard to see who the Indians could get. Maybe, perhaps, Dontrelle Willis for the right package.

NF: Oh, and it would help if Josh Barfield could learn to draw the occasional walk.

Bob (Brooklyn): What's more important to evaluate a pitcher: Wins or ERA?

NF: ERA. Thirty years ago, when pitchers regularly finished a third or half of their starts, wins weren’t a bad single-digit stat, but the modern bullpen has made it nearly meaningless. I mean, in ’86 Nolan Ryan led the league in ERA and went 8-16 because the Astros scored less than AC Green. ERA isn’t as bad for a starter because you get to see how much the offense has to do to get a win for the team whenever that pitcher takes the ball.

NF: On a related rant – some stats have to be totally revamped for pitchers, especially relievers. Take the Cubs/Rockies game recently: up five runs in the ninth, Eyre and Howry combine to nearly blow the game – but Soriano bails them out. Who gets the win? Believe it or not, it’s Bobby Howry, with this pathetic line: 1 IP, 3 ER on 3 hits – and two inherited runners scored (both charged to Eyre). Now, granted that Scott Eyre wasn’t at his best, but he came in with two men on in the seventh and stranded them both. Wouldn’t he have been a better choice for a win than Howry, who came in with a four-run cushion and left trailing? For that matter Mike Wuertz tossed a scoreless inning of relief and stranded two inherited runners in the sixth. He gets a HOLD. Quick – who leads major league baseball in holds? (Answer below.)

Jason (Michigan): Hi Fly. Do you think the Tigers will be able to get some breathing room from the Indians in the central? These teams have been 2 games apart from each other for 2 months and it's clear that the Tigers are the better team all around.

NF: One thing the Tigers have that the Indians don’t is more depth to make deals to strengthen their team. They’re tied in the standings this morning and that’s with Cleveland getting reduced production from Sizemore and Hafner, and almost nothing from their fourth and fifth starters. I see that division going to the wire, unless Detroit can shore up their bullpen a bit (it’s their weakest department right now).

Pat ((Ontario,CA)): Do you think Russell Martin is one the best catchers in the game?

NF: He’s playing well right now – and what’s more, a lot of the “name” catchers of the past ten years aren’t around, or aren’t playing well, except for Jorge Posada. You can’t just pencil in Piazza, Javy Lopez, and Ivan Rodriguez on an All-Star ballot like you could for years and years. So yes, this season he’s been very good, especially in the National League where the field isn't as crowded. All the other raking backstops (Mauer, Posada, Victor Martinez, even Joe Buck) are in the AL.

Mike, Rockaway Beach: What team(s) do you like to watch during the week when you aren't working the Sunday night games?

NF: The Mets, as a fan. Honestly, I keep up more through reading and highlights, since I have a day job. (Gee, isn’t it fun to answer other people’s mail?)

Kyle (Kansas): What is the most overated stat in baseball?

NF: THE SAVE. Criminy, it’s useless.

Chad (Austin, TX): Fly, How come you never got into coaching or managing?

[Boy, some of these questions are weird when you don't ask a Hall-of-Fame second baseman.]

NF: I used to coach youth roller hockey. I ref games. Had a doozie last night, actually. I'm guessing you asked because of the recent article on Ryne Sandberg managing in the minors.

Greg (Palatine, IL): Do you think Beurhle going to the Red Sox would be a good move for Boston?

NF: Lefties have to be careful in Boston because of the Green Monster – lazy fly balls become doubles and homers out there. Now, Beurhle has been keeping men off base (1.05 WHIP) and has more ground-outs than fly-outs, so it may be a risk Boston takes if they aren’t going to get Schilling back in good form.

Billy (Michigan): Hey Fly, Who is your MVP for the AL and NL?

NF: Alex Rodriguez has to get consideration because he’s pasting everything in sight. Magglio Ordonez and CC Sabathia have been the best players on first-place teams. Haren's been awesome, but for no real logical reason I think he's more a Cy Young candidate than MVP. In the NL, there’s Jose Reyes, who is in the middle of nearly everything the Mets do, and Prince Fielder is raking. Lots of guys having strong seasons in the NL, actually: Griffey and Dunn; Miguel Cabrera and Dan Uggla in Florida; Bonds has to mentioned, asterisk or not; Chipper Jones, if he can get more plate appearances, may get some notice (1.002 OPS in 54 games).

Bill (Chicago): How come there is so much parity these days?

NF: I’m going to go ahead and disagree with you on that, Bill. Less than halfway through the season, every single division has at least a ten game gap between first and last place. Half the divisions have at least a six-game gap between first and second. Two of the six have second place teams at or below .500. Ten different teams are on pace to lose at least 90 times. Then there’s Boston, Milwaukee, both LA teams, Cleveland and Detroit, the Mets… Toss in San Diego and Arizona, who are both playing well. That’s nine candidates for our two pennant winners. And despite that disparity, we have three very good division races and some heat in both wild card chases.

Fred (Atlanta): Who's the best hitter in the game today?

NF: His name is Alex Rodriguez. He’s a third baseman, playing for the New York Yankees. He is currently the Chuck Norris of hitting. A-Rod didn’t actually hit his last home run – he just glared at the pitch and it hid behind the outfield wall. He once hit a pitch so hard, it went back in time and he drove in Thurman Munson. (You get the idea.)

NF: Pujols has the track record, and is coming around, but nobody’s doing better than Rodriguez right now.

[And your trivia answer? "Who cares." There are probably general managers who don't know how many holds their own pitchers have - on the Official MLB site, you have to hit "Next Stats" TWICE to find "holds" on their stat pages. But the player is Milwaukee's Derrick Turnbow, with 21 holds (and one save) in 25 total opportunities. The rest of the top five are-

Steve Shields, LAA, 19 (and 2 saves) in 25 tries
Jonathan Broxton, LAD, 17 (and 1 save) in 21 tries
Brandon Lyon, ARZ, 17 (and 2 saves) in 23 tries
Tony Pena, ARZ, 16 (and 1 save) in 20 tries

I included saves even though they're silly because when you blow the hold, it counts as a blown save, not a blown hold - so useless or not, they have to stay. Notice that the guys leading in holds are all key pitchers on first-place contending teams - and notice, via this comparison, how the other metrics stack up. Shields and Pena give up fewer than one baserunner per inning; Turnbow's ERA is sort of high but so is his K/9 IP. In general these are guys going into higher-pressure situations than their closers and getting the job done.

Those closers are doing well, too - Saito's got 41 K and only 3 BB, holy crow - but it doesn't always work that way, as Joe Borowski or Todd Jones could tell you. And notice how young those guys are. Only Cordero is older than 27.** Unless a pitcher is just lights-out dominant like he's been, he's largely wasted as a closer instead of a rally-killer.]

It should be a rating

Ken was lamenting his poor blog rating (via Mingle² and their odd word-count system). I can't have that, now can I?

For use wherever fine Friday threads are posted!

Semper Fi

Friends - meet Lt. Col. John William Hagerty, USMC. On the double.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Following up

The Spider wasn't kidding when he was talking about his health event. From Tim Kurkjian's online article about Washington first-baseman Dmitri Young:

"I had an infection that would not heal, and I had flu-like symptoms," Young said. "I went to urgent care three times in two days. After the third time, I called my parents to tell them goodbye. I told my kids that I loved them, and I hoped they would always be happy. I called 911. When the ambulance arrived, my blood-sugar level was 987. When it's that high, four things can happen -- stroke, coma, organ damage or death. They put an IV in me and got it down to 893. I spent four days in the hospital, three days in the ICU. I know how lucky I am today. I thought there was going to be a tombstone with my name on it."

Emphasis mine. That is one astonishing number. To put it in context: that's about nine times the normal level.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A swift kick in the pants

Judge Roy Pearson and his flim-flam $54 million pants suit (heh) have been tossed out on their rear.

The owners of Custom Cleaners did not violate the city's Consumer Protection Act by failing to live up to Roy L. Pearson's expectations of the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign once displayed in the store window, District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled.

Bartnoff ordered Pearson to pay the court costs of defendants Soo Chung, Jin Nam Chung and Ki Y. Chung.

Now that's getting taken to the cleaners.

Friday, June 22, 2007

An interview I'll never get

I happened across the channel-surfing equivalent of a wipe-out last night.

It was a promo spot. I recognized Ryan Seacrest and lingered, wondering what he did for a day job when he and Simon weren’t cat fighting on American Idol. Turns out he’s an “entertainment reporter,” which is sort of like being the referee on American Gladiators: you only look like you’re doing something helpful.

The latest news? His exclusive interview with… her. From! Jail! She’s a changed woman! Tune in!

“Exclusive” is a word one rarely associates with the Lady Hilton. She’s been poorly raised, indulged, and fawned over for nothing more than her money and her compulsion to put herself in the public eye any way possible. (She puts out to the media so readily, one suspects that she may be in the habit elsewhere.)

We are all, I am sure, so very tired of the subject. One can tune in here [language alert] and vent all about it. I’m going to try a different tack, since at this point it’s like whacking a piñata that’s already on the ground. I’m going to take her epiphany seriously and give her some serious advice, based on my 18 years of trying to live for Christ.

Paris –

Imagine for a moment that you are on a long trip to an unfamiliar town, and you are lost. It’s a remote area, and getting late. You may not have enough gas to reach your goal. Then, a helpful motorist sees your convoy pulled over at the side of the road. He knows the area, knows your destination, and gives you directions – first here to the only gas station within fifty miles, then to the highway, to this exit, left at that traffic light, and you’re golden.

Now you feel better. You have a direction. But otherwise – you are still in the same remote area, still low on gas, and no closer to your destination. The only difference here is how you feel about all of that – now you have hope because you have the right direction.

Your conversion, even if genuine, is exactly the same way. You can talk to as many broadcasters and celebrity kiss-ups as you please – but you’ll notice that this isn’t any different than your behavior before you went to jail. You still have your money, your insane friends, your entourage, and your parents. In short, you can talk about being a changed woman all you want – and because of the feeling of hope, you will believe that you have changed – but truth is, the only thing new is the direction. And you still have to follow that before you can be in a different place in your life.

And, like trying to get to your unfamiliar town, it’s almost certain that it won’t be without its dangers. Your may run out of gas before you reach the station, which may be closed in any case. You may make a wrong turn and wind up lost in an entirely new remote area. You may even grow frustrated and decide “I recognize where we are now,” and disregard the directions entirely.

So, if you want to really be changed, the feeling is not the best indicator. You’re still in jail, still talking to the media, still hoarding the spotlight that has been your god up until now, so there’s really nothing new yet, is there? The real test is when you’re free, and it’s been a month or two since anyone’s heard from you, and you have to decide whether to hit that hot nightspot. The test is afterward, when you’ve had a few and are fumbling for your car keys; or alone in the room with the really hot guy from the Abercrombie catalogue. The test is when the people who need you to NOT change start to tell you that they don’t like what’s happened to you – and some of them will be dishonest and say that they’re worried, you’re not the woman you were, something is clearly wrong, and they only want to help you.

This isn’t supposed to discourage you, Paris – but you should go into this with your eyes open. A lot of people make money off of the Old Paris: crazy, spoiled, party-girl Paris; who has rarely shown nor been taught healthy restraint and good judgment. They need you to keep living the old life, even if you die young because of it. After that, they’ll find the next person to eat alive and forget all about you; or worse, go on TV and shed tears about your fate when it was within their power to help you avoid it. It’s easier for them to just keep on in the old way, and harder to risk losing their meal ticket (you) by telling you what you need to know.

Well, obviously you’re not my meal ticket. I’ve never met you. I can’t benefit in any tangible way, one way or the other. But, if this spiritual event is true, then it makes us brother and sister, and as the saying goes, one can’t choose family. So believe me – it’s easy to feel spiritual and changed. It’s harder to take that and commit to a creed and a church and then live up to those standards. At times they even feel like polar opposites and you will want to ditch the creed, or the spirituality. But you need both – all feelings will just make you a more famous version of this person, while all creed will make you a bitter, joyless scold.

Start with prayer. And then end with prayer. In the end, you are not Jesus’ meal ticket either, and unlike me, He actually can help you with all the stuff I’ve just been describing. Good luck.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fw: FW: re: Enough of this!

In the old days, chain letters were more of a commitment. They had to be addressed, stuffed, sealed, and they cost a bunch of stamps to move along.

Now, though. :::sigh::: Too easy. Nobody has to even type any of the addresses. Just open the list, click a few times - or just tap "Reply All" - and viola, you can fling this crap across the internet like a virtual howler monkey:

Just read the little stories and think of a wish as you scroll all the way to the bottom. There is a message there - then make your Wish.

It's not like I don't enjoy mail from family and friends... But I enjoy mail from family and friends. Even two personal lines saying that you're well, and the dog ate a caterpillar and it made his pee green, but it's been sunny lately and not too warm - that's all. How does this sort of thing actually help us stay closer?

No attachment on this one.! Stories

And it starts. There is a series of tales appended by other readers of the letter - or composed out of whole cloth to amuse and enlighten; it's impossible to tell, nor does it matter.

I'm 13 years old, and I wished that my dad would come home from the army, because he'd been having problems with his heart and right leg.

Translation - I'm forty-two, still live with both my parents, and am writing this at the end of a chain letter as a break from my World of Warcraft campaign.

It was 2:53 p.m.. When I made my wish. At 3:07 PM. (14 minutes Later), the doorbell rang, and there my Dad was, luggage and all!!

You can almost see the crayon and backwards R's, can't you? Heartwarming. Of course, Dad has known for months when his hitch was up, got his orders two weeks ago, and was on a plane for eleven hours before Wonderboy and His Wishing Magic ever opened the email. But no, we'll just type it up and stick it on the end of a message to sixty-seven people, only eight of whom we've actually met. Wishing is better than thinking!

I'm Katie and I'm 20 and I've been having trouble in my job and on the verge of quitting.

You can do better on your job by wasting less time writing and forwarding crap email on the company's nickel. Just a thought.

I made a simple wish that my boss would get a new job. That was at 1:35 and at 2:55 there was an announcement that he was promoted and was leaving for another city.

If you really had this amazing wishing power, wouldn't you be smarter to wish that YOU got a promotion and a transfer to another city? Then you wouldn't have to deal with the stares from bitter co-workers who know all about you and your insistance that your daydreams control the world. To sum up - 20 years old, wasting her time on internet chain letters, not smart enough to realize that the boss, not being an idiot like her, has spent the past few months working hard, getting noticed, going on interviews, and earning a well-deserved promotion away from the crazy slacker girl with delusions of Jedihood.

Believe me... this really works!!!

That's where I met the leprechaun. He told me to burn things! [/ralphwiggum]

My name is Ann and I am 45 years of age. I had always been single and had been hoping to get into a nice, loving relationship for many Years.

There's that 42 year old guy from before. Just hit "Reply All."

While kind of daydreaming (and right after receiving this email) I wished that a quality person would finally come into my life. That was at 9:10 AM on a Tuesday. At 9:55 AM a FedEx delivery man came into my office.

The Federal Express Corporation would like to officially apologize for this incident. The person in question is not actually an employee, and made the uniform himself from scraps of his old college mascot outfit. He takes empty boxes from dumpsters and "delivers" them to various businesses. He's really harmless. Give him a buck or two and sign his newspaper, and he'll leave happy.

He was cute, polite and could not stop smiling at me. He started coming back almost everyday (even without packages) and asked me out a week later.

No packages. See? Not a Delivery Guy. Remember - look for the picture ID!

We married 6 months later and now have been happily married for 2 years. What a great email it was!!

You've been sitting on this great email for a while, haven't you? That's 2½ years before you forwarded this life-changing information. While you were dawdling, Dad got redeployed, his kid dropped out of high school, Katie went back to community college to find herself, and her old boss opened his own company and went public - raked in $27 million on the first day's trading.

So, when deciding whether to wish and forward, consider - which of those four people has had the best life? The one who decided to do something productive instead of wishing and forwarding.

Just scroll down to the end, but while you do, think of a wish. Make your wish when you have completed scrolling. Whatever age you are, is the number of minutes it will take for your wish to come true. ( are 25 years old, it will take 25 minutes for your wish to come true).

Just in case we were unclear on the whole "age=# of minutes" concept. Really, I wish that you could see the thing in its original form - 24 point type, bad punctuation, misplaced capitals, and tortured grammar. (I saved a bit of it in the "It was 2:53 pm" paragraph.) But there is no way on earth I'm forwarding it, so you'll just have to get your own.

However, if you don't send this to People in 5 minutes, you will have bad Luck for years!!

People... who don't spam People... are the un-Luckiest People...

Guess I'll chance it. And if the dear person who sent this along reads this - please PLEASE understand. I am not angry with you. I daresay you don't believe a word yourself, but thought that it was a cute, harmless diversion. I dig it. I love cute and harmless diversions. (And kitties.) But think for a moment: do you send only these "diversions"? Do you tell yourself, "Aw, it couldn't hurt and who knows, it might work!"? I'm sure friends and loved ones would mind this less if you also told them about work and the church group social and the nice kid in the supermarket who remembered your name from last week and helped bring the bags to the car.

If all you're doing is carpet-bombing every mailbox on your list - including multiple accounts for the same person - then take it to heart, you are not helping. You are probably annoying the very people you're trying to make smile. This is why they don't write back, except to say For God's sake Quit It. You'll both be happier if you write a real email - or a real letter (since you have all those extra stamps lying around) - or a real phone call.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I am such a doofus

I came across a post that I'm certain Ricki wrote, that I wanted to reply to at length - so I decided to save it for a post and track back. And now, well... I can't find the durned thing. And even if I did, at this point I may not remember what it was I was inspired to write.


It doesn't get any squishier than this

An Episcopalian who is both a Christian AND a Muslim.

Shortly after noon on Fridays, the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding ties on a black headscarf, preparing to pray with her Muslim group on First Hill.

On Sunday mornings, Redding puts on the white collar of an Episcopal priest.

She does both, she says, because she's Christian and Muslim.

Redding, who until recently was director of faith formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, has been a priest for more than 20 years. Now she's ready to tell people that, for the last 15 months, she's also been a Muslim — drawn to the faith after an introduction to Islamic prayers left her profoundly moved.

Her announcement has provoked surprise and bewilderment in many, raising an obvious question: How can someone be both a Christian and a Muslim?

Let me give you the short answer: You can't. The article lays out her beliefs. I'll let the reader decide if she's even a Christian.

Redding's views, even before she embraced Islam, were more interpretive than literal.

She believes the Trinity is an idea about God and cannot be taken literally.

She does not believe Jesus and God are the same, but rather that God is more than Jesus.

She believes Jesus is the son of God insofar as all humans are the children of God, and that Jesus is divine, just as all humans are divine — because God dwells in all humans.

What makes Jesus unique, she believes, is that out of all humans, he most embodied being filled with God and identifying completely with God's will.

She does believe that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected, and acknowledges those beliefs conflict with the teachings of the Quran. "That's something I'll find a challenge the rest of my life," she said.

She considers Jesus her savior. At times of despair, because she knows Jesus suffered and overcame suffering, "he has connected me with God," she said.

That's not to say she couldn't develop as deep a relationship with Mohammed. "I'm still getting to know him," she said.

Did I tell you that this woman will be teaching New Testament at Seattle University this fall?

If you look at her reasons for being a Muslim, it's all based on feelings. "Finding a religion that fits"? Fit's what? Your weekend schedule?

Note that she does not cite one verse in the Koran or the Bible. This person graduated for an Episcopalian seminary? What are they teaching in those places?

I need to take my pills now.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ziegfeld's Password Follies

Tracey, I feel your pain.

Drives ya nuts, don't it? I mean, they say, "Make the password hard to remember. Your kids' names = BAD. 'MGR!45dLmp' = GOOD." Well, how the flip am I supposed to remember 'MGR!45dLmp' ?? Maybe, by writing it down - which is also verboeten. Soon they'll have programs that will be able to tell that you've written down the password, and they will change it without your permission, and make you prove you are really you before they let you in on it.

At work, they force you to change your password every couple of months, and they track the past six passwords you've used - AND one must use a mix of caps, littles, numbers, and punctuation. And you then have to repeat that process for email, your blog admin (should you have one), any secure websites for bill-paying, your own network password if you run off a secure wireless modem... None of these, by the way, can be, you know - words. They all have to be gibberish that looks like you stole someone's license plate.

At any given moment, I have twelve or so of these typographic nightmares wandering through my brain, only half of which may be active; plus multiple usernames, with no real way to know which of any of them go to what accounts - none of which will give you more than three tries before locking you out of the thing.

Well, I'm sorry, but I don't know that many strings of semi-random ASCII sneezes. Neither can I afford the whole biometrics "rub your finger here" dot that some companies use as security. How about something cheaper that everyone understands - a key. You get a key, you guard it with your life - you actually turn it to turn on your computer, and it keeps track of the info for you.

If it works for nuclear missle launches, then it can work for us, too.

Sorry for not posting...

...but I had a bit of a health event this weekend.

I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes about four years ago. I have been doing a marginal job of managing it and this week I paid the price for it.

I got a cut on my left calf. By Wednesday, my calf had swelled to a steer. I think to myself, "Self, I need to see the doctor." I actually saw the nurse practitioner. I decided to get ahead of things and confessed my sins of not managing my condition.

As her assistant was cleaning and bandaging my wound, she checked my blood sugar. This is where I got yelled at, because my blood sugar level was leading the American League in hitting.

She wanted to send me to the hospital, I sad I was in no need for that, so I signed a CYA document stating that if I dropped dead it wasn't her fault. I left with antibiotics and the diabetic medicine known as metiform. (Which I should have been talking all along.)

I'm doing much better. My calf is a calf again. I'm not peeing as much (the non-monitor sign of lowered blood sugar.) I can't screw around anymore - I'm going to be fifty in a year and a half.

I must live at least until August 5. Or maybe longer - I refuse to die in New Jersey.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Another baseball gabfest

FJM decides to play the role of Joe’s Brain in the latest Joe Morgan baseball chat… On the other hand, I decide to play the role of part-time analyst.

Bart (Hartford, CT): With the Yankees starting to show signs of life, do you think they will be able to maintain their play the remainder of the season? If they do will they have a chance to catch the Sox?

NF: Boston still has a better pitching staff. The Yanks have also had to get very hot just to get back into things; while it’s obviously better to be 8 games back rather than 13, they have a long road to walk. Neither can they play Pittsburgh and Cincinnati all season. Realistically, they should aim for the wild card. Since Cleveland and Minnesota have tougher division games than New York, there’s the chance that they can slip behind the Yanks, who will get to play Baltimore, Tampa, and Toronto instead.

Mark (New Jersey): Do you think it was Bobby Abreu's super-slow start that affected the Yankees early on?

NF: It was the major reason. When you get a lower slugging percentage than on-base percentage from the third spot in the order, you are having a bad time. The real mystery is why Torre wouldn't hit A-Rod third behind Damon and Jeter, and drop Abreu down until he started to get his groove back. That could have mitigated some of the damage from his long slump. But even so, the Yankees have so many hurt pitchers that they’ve had to start guys who weren’t ready – DeSalvo has more walks than strikeouts, Clippard has struggled.

Ryan (Merrick, NY): Do the Mets have to make a trade to hold off the Braves in the NL East with Chipper Jones coming back?

NF: The trouble is, they had a trade waiting for them last season – Lastings Milledge for Barry Zito – and didn’t make it then. Not that Zito has been as good as his Cy Young year, but he’s reliable, and any time you can turn an expendable commodity into a valuable one, you ought to do it unless there is a major objection. In this case, New York may have felt that they could never sign Zito for this year, but can they move Milledge for as good a pitcher now?

Then there’s the big question – who is available that is an upgrade over the Mets’ current starters? Jorge Sosa and Oliver Perez are pitching well, Glavine and Hernandez have been decent; John Maine is having a rough patch right now but is a good bet to rebound. And remember, they’re getting Pedro Martinez back come August. To get anyone superior to them, the Mets would have to move Pelfrey and a better prospect than Milledge. They’re not getting someone like Erik Bedard from the Orioles, and they don’t want someone like Jon Garland from the White Sox.

Nick (Cincinnati): Hey Fly, The talk here in Cincy is that the Reds are shopping Adam Dunn. Would it be in their best interest to unload him to an American League squad looking for a power-hitting DH?

NF: That’s the rumor every year, but he’s their best bat and without him the outfield would be a wasteland. It would make more sense to trade Griffey to a contender looking for one last lefty bat to put them over the top, and try to gain some good outfield prospects in return. The Twins could possibly be persuaded to upgrade short-term, especially if they want to capitalize on Torii Hunter before he begins to decline.

Bryan (Boston): Fly - Why do we still have to watch so many of these pointless Interleague Games? Rangers Pirates, Phillies White Sox, Cubs Mariners - Who Cares? Not to mention the schedules are not fair in many cases. Will this ever be addressed?

NF: Well, you can’t have it both ways, can you? If you want fair schedules – everyone plays everyone else – then you will by necessity see not only Rangers-Pirates, but Rangers-Marlins, Rangers-Dodgers… and Royals-Marlins, Royals-Reds, etc. Are any of those matchups really any worse than Rangers-Devil Rays or Pirates-Nationals? You’re always going to have times when lousy teams with no natural rivalry play a Tues-Wed-Thurs series before 9,000 fans, for no other reason than the schedule said so.

But it does give fans a chance to see some great players in person that they otherwise could only read about. Even if the Cubs are struggling, it’s nice for Seattle fans to see Zambrano face down Ichiro, or King Felix dueling Derrek Lee.

Jon (Phoenix, AZ): Which Pitcher would you rather have this year? Roger Clemens or Randy Johnson?

NF: Johnson for my money. Less expensive, will pitch on the road, causes fewer extra distractions for my ballclub. He can still sling it, too.

Patti, (Wash, DC): Hey Fly - first a shout out because you're one of my all time favorites - on the field and in the booth -

NF: It’s hard to believe you’re that much of a fan of dek hockey, but thanks!

Don't you think it's time for all the naysayers to show the Nationals a little love? They were predicted by most, to be the worst team in history - they're not even the worst team in the National League! Despite two terrible stretches of 1-8 baseball and 4/5 of their starting rotation on the DL the Nats have been playing over .500 ball lately - beating the likes of Smoltz (twice), Peavy, and Santana along the way, they play hard and are competitive - every night ... I think the job that Manny Acta has done with this team is amazing - so how about giving Manny and the Nats a little dap?

NF: I’ll give Manny Acta a lot of love; I think he’s a good manager and has some good ideas on running his club, and they’ve responded. But he hadn’t got much to work with. Christian Guzman is 70 full points over his career OBP and I don’t think that can last; the pitching has been a major struggle, especially with Jerome Williams (hasn’t won since ’05, 7+ ERA), John Patterson (sudden case of Steve Blass Syndrome), and Levale Speigner (1.90 WHIP, 7+ ERA). Those three have each walked more batters than they’ve struck out this season. It doesn’t help to have Hill, Bergmann, and Ayala on the disabled list, as you mentioned.

All told, even with all their competitiveness, there are those two 1-8 streaks. They’re 9½ games off the pace despite getting hot just when the Mets are slumping, and they have four tough teams to catch for a shot at the Wild Card (Philly, Atlanta, and two of the big three out West). Acta can manage but he can’t hit or pitch for them at this point.

So, that's that - big "dap" to Justin Verlander for no-hitting the Brewers on Tuesday. See you later...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hockey fantasy advice

Do NOT take Eric Staal in your fantasy draft.

Seriously, it's kiss of death time. The Hurricanes will finish 25th in the conference this year and be demoted to the AHL. Cam Ward will move his locker to the opposite corner of the clubhouse. The Staal family will remove all sharp objects from Eric's immediate vicinity, including his own skates. Anything to keep him safe.

On a related note, the Mets have lost eight consecutive ball games. Here's your reason.

The fools.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cut to black

In order to properly digest what I saw, I’ve been avoiding reading about the Sopranos finale – sort of like avoiding air at this point, since there’s been such a furor over David Chase’s decision to simply stop the program mid-scene. Watching it, I had a reaction shared by many: I wondered if the cable had gone out. Then the credits rolled and my instinctive reaction was that I’d been snookered. “That was ridiculous,” someone commented as the show rolled out in silence.

Well, I thought about it for a long while and here's my conclusion. But first – one of the most popular theories, passed along by a future in-law and written about very well by Teflon at Molton Thought: Tony got whacked.

[Mr. Sulu, engage Spoiler Vision.]

Chase previously stated that the key to the finale was in the first episode, which featured Tony's brother-in-law Bobby musing that when you got whacked, you wouldn't even see it coming --just "nothing". Chase builds tension unbearably throughout the final moments of the show, as minute after minute drags by. The guy in the Members Only jacket goes into the bathroom (shades of "The Godfather"), Tony is momentarily distracted by Meadow entering the diner, and ---- NOTHING. Precisely as Bobby described it.

In other words, maximum checkout. And Chase certainly set it up that way – besides the guy heading for the bathroom, Tony wound up living out a ton of Godfather parallels throughout the episode: the orange he tears into early on (a BIG harbinger of doom in the Godfather movies); the stray cat he picks up that annoys his capos (and that fixates on Chris Moltisanti’s picture at the Bing); the war with the New York families; even AJ’s decision to join the military.

It’s a good theory, and it would be just like Chase to give so many people what they expected, but in an unexpected fashion that ensured that it kept the proper impact. However, I think there are other hints to support an alternate theory: Life goes on. (As above, highlight the empty to read.)

First off – Bobby himself didn’t die the way he described it. He got rather a good look at his two killers, absorbed a half-dozen shots at least, and finally toppled over into the train display. For that matter, Sil didn’t go out that way either. It was Phil who never saw it coming. Chase set up the payoff, and even alluded to it right before the final cut – and then never gave it.

Second, all through this episode, Chase does a great job of returning Tony to status quo. I thought it would be interesting for him to flip to the feds, and go into Witness Protection as James Finneran, his coma-induced alter-ego from last year; but honestly I had no idea how he was going to get out of the New York war going into the finale. It turns out that he doesn’t, really – he just gets a colossal reset. The distraction with the Arabs comes to nothing; he faces indictment, but as his lawyer says, “We knew this day would come”; he loses Melfi but starts an impromptu session with AJ’s Melfi-look-alike therapist – complaining once again about his mother even though she’s been dead for years; and as is usual, he’s able to cajole/bully his capo (this time, Paulie) into giving in to his wishes. Nothing changes. As AJ does not quote during the episode, “This is how the world ends; not with a bang, but with a whimper.”

It’s not just Tony, either. AJ, who shows alarming signs of adulthood, is lured away from any self discipline or responsibility and back into a cocoon of privilege , money, and screwing up; Janice is still manipulative and self-absorbed; Carmela is still bitterly competitive about Meadow (the scene with Meadow’s reformed party-girl friend is priceless – Carm is gleeful when she can remind her of her past, but the second she hears that the girl has cleaned up and is now in medical school, she coldly ignores her and leaves the room). And Tony’s Family, as Phil correctly observes, is in the end little more than a crew – Vito gone, Chris gone, Bobby and Sil soon to join them, and their “business” drying up or defecting to New York. Even as the big boss Tony commands nothing more than he started with in the pilot. He’s back to square one.

Finally, there’s the key scene, Tony visiting Uncle June. He goes unrecognized. Even when he brings up the shooting from the beginning of last season, Junior is nonplussed, and when told that he and Tony’s father used to run North Jersey, he remarks, “Oh, that sounds nice,” as if it had happened to someone else. And he can’t help Tony at Tony’s most noble – trying to make sure Bobby’s kids are taken care of.

When Tony leaves, it’s with the sickening certainty that he IS Uncle June. He even killed his own nephew the way Uncle June tried to kill him (twice, mind you). In the diner, with his family, he’s constantly looking over his shoulder. And even if he survives, how does it end? With him in a public nursing facility, abandoned, while his family pick over what’s left?

So those are the leading candidates. Others may occur to you, especially if you think I’m cracked.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

But it won't bring her back

Once upon a time, the British colonial governor, Charles James Napier, happened across suttee, the custom of burning a widow on her dead husband's funeral pyre - a practice sometimes forcibly observed. Told by the locals that it was a religious custom, he famously replied:

Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.

Thankfully, some of that spirit still exists today in England. The Swillers are on the case.

Of course, we've all heard of fathers who think that the boyfriend isn't nearly good enough for their little girl. The solution would seem to be to chase off the boyfriend, rather than strangle the daughter, but that's because we are obviously infidels.

At least they actually convicted the heartless sumbitz. This leaves the larger problem - first, that this practice is encouraged by some and permitted by many others; second, that the police turned a deaf ear to her when she presented them evidence that her own murder was in the works. There's talk of busting a couple of the bobbies as well, but more is required.

Suttee was outlawed in 1829; though there are still occasional cases today, the weight of law and public outcry is very strongly against it. Much the same thing happened in our country with slavery, with dueling, and is in the process of happening to smoking in public. A similar change is required when it comes to the barbarity of honor killings. Every time this happens in the West - England, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands - it has to be hammered.

Not Many People CAIR...

...for CAIR.

Membership in the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has declined more than 90 percent since the 2001 terrorist attacks, Audrey Hudson will report in Tuesday's editions of The Washington Times.

According to tax documents obtained by The Times, the number of reported members spiraled down from more than 29,000 in 2000 to less than 1,700 in 2006, a loss of membership that caused the Muslim rights group's annual income from dues to drop from $732,765 in 2000, when yearly dues cost $25, to $58,750 last year, when the group charged $35.

Being named an unindicted co-conspirator by the Justice department doesn't help.

Critics of the organization say they are not surprised membership is sagging, and that a recent decision by the Justice Department to name CAIR as "unindicted co-conspirators" in a federal case against another foundation charged with providing funds to a terrorist group could discourage new members.

M. Zuhdi Jasser, director of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, says the sharp decline in membership calls into question whether the organization speaks for 7 million American Muslims, as the group has claimed.

"This is the untold story in the myth that CAIR represents the American Muslim population. They only represent their membership and donors," Mr. Jasser said.

I can't speak for your local media. but the policy of the local Tampa Bay media is to kiss CAIR tush. Every time some Islamoterrorist plot is uncovered, soon to follow will be a puff piece on the local CAIR director.

This article also says that CAIR is being propped up by the donations of three dozen individuals. Anyone curious about who they are?

These people are dirty. Go ahead and sue me.

Friday, June 08, 2007

One way to deal with the kids... a little something to calm the nerves.

HAMMONTON, NJ —A school bus driver was drunk when she crashed her busload of children into another vehicle Monday morning, police said.

No children were injured when Regina Durham, of Williamstown, was making a left turn from Fairview Avenue onto Liberty Street in Hammonton around 7:20 a.m. and crashed her school bus into the front of a car being driven by Collings Lakes resident Anthony Carrelli, police said. Neither Durham nor Carrelli, 38, were injured, police said.

Durham, 45, was charged with reckless driving, careless driving, driving while intoxicated and driving with a commercial driver's license with a blood alcohol content level higher than .04, Detective John Panarello said. Durham's actual BAC level was not specified, but it was over the state legal limit of .08, Panarello said.

Fourteen students from Waterford Township, Camden County, were on the bus at the time of the crash, which was en route to Hammonton Middle School, police said.

Now, back in the day I would occasionally drink all night, take a shower and report for duty. But I was a young man then. And I wasn't driving a busload of kids. I was only computing weight and balance on military cargo planes, that's all.

I'm curious about the BAC, whether she had a little hair of the dog or was still loaded from the night before.

If you start at Atlantic City and drive on Route 30 toward Philly, you will hit Hammoton in about 25 miles.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

My new best friend Garth Snow, NY Islanders GM, for some loverly news.

The New York Islanders will buy out the remaining four years on captain Alexei Yashin's 10-year contract in the first step of an offseason overhaul they hope will include re-signing Jason Blake and Ryan Smyth.
New York reached the playoffs four times during Yashin's tenure but never got out of the first round. He had 11 goals and 27 points in 48 postseason games with the Islanders.

I think I have to send him a fruit basket.

Islanders general manager Garth Snow and [head coach Ted] Nolan wouldn't disclose the team's offseason strategy but acknowledged that re-signing Blake, their leading scorer, and Smyth would be priorities.

If he uses the extra money to keep Ryan Smyth AND sign Scott Gomez or Chris Drury, then he will be invited to my wedding. In the meantime, go see Emily's happiness. And don't miss the best picture of a goalie since Jim Craig wore a flag.

Not Trevor or Colin..

...but Mohammed.

Mohammed will likely become the most popular name for baby boys in Britain by the end of the year, The Times reported on Wednesday, citing government data.

Though official records from the Office for National Statistics list the spelling Mohammed 23rd in its yearly analysis of the top 3,000 names given to children, when all the different spellings of the name are taken into account, it ranks second, only behind Jack, according to The Times.

There are various different spellings of the name because when it is transliterated into English from Arabic, families spell it as closely to their own pronunciations as possible.

In total, 5,991 baby boys were given some version of the name Mohammed, with 6,928 baby boys named Jack.

Thomas was third with 5,921 names, with Joshua and Oliver rounding out the top five.

According to The Times, if the growth of the name Mohammed continues -- it rose by 12 percent last year -- the name will take the top spot by the end of this year.

It's not called Londonistan and Eurabia for nothing.

Paris Hilton out of Jail

Medical reasons? Insert your own joke here.

Paris Hilton has been fitted for ankle bracelet and reassigned to house arrest, after authorities decided to release Hilton from jail due to medical reasons, this according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. spokesperson, Steve Whitmore.

Am I out of touch? Or maybe it's because I'm pushing fifty, but this woman does nothing to me hormonally. I know she's supposed to be flaming hot, but all I see is a piece of plastic.

Maybe I've read Proverbs 31 too many times.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Triple play

My reading gave me three odd articles to ponder, and I'm going to do it here in front of all y'all, in ascending order of "hmmmm." I'm going to pull them into three separate posts, too - just keep going after this.

First, Dan Graziano's front-of-the-section lead article on Lou Piniella. Anyone familiar with Piniella's work knows that he's an irascible fellow. His Saturday matinee got him a four-day vacation from Major League Baseball, which led Graziano to wonder "why Piniella's kind of behavior is tolerated in baseball."

Ejection, fine, four day suspension. None of these things says tolerance to me. He cites other examples of non-tolerance from other sports:

"It's not tolerated in basketball, where you can be suspended simply for leaving the bench or for accumulating too many technical fouls."

Baseball, of course, lacks technical fouls; in fact, just looking at an ump cross-eyed on a ball/strike call can get you the ol' heave-ho, so I would argue that basketball is more tolerant in some ways - techs are a warning, and only a second such foul will get you ejected. As for the suspension for leaving the bench...

"It's not tolerated in hockey, where recent rules changes penalize the third man into a fight."

Graziano is in error. The "third man in" rule was introduced in October 1971; it's the basketball version that's new. (Perhaps he's thinking of the rule that got Washington Capitals coach Glenn Hanlon suspended for a game this season - he sent players onto the ice at the end of a game to deliberately fight opponents.)

"And you don't see football coaches running onto the field and holding up play while they pick up clumps of grass and throw them on the officials' shoes..."

No. Granted that you don't see this - but you do see football coaches flipping a nut all the time. I've seen Gruden, Cowher, Coughlin, and others stray five or more yards into the field yelling while the refs announce the call. Then they'll often pour their abuse on the nearest linesman (who just as often had nothing to do with the call). This rarely draws a flag for misconduct.

The rest of the article, to be fair, is pretty good, so I move on...

Second step

... to the Extra-Strength Head-Scratcher, from ESPN's Jeff Pearlman.

Pearlman spends the entire column describing what he calls "dangerous morons," and then moves into a few paragraphs of telling why he thinks Detroit's Gary Sheffield is one - in fact, "the ultimate dangerous moron of our times."

This is a lot to heap on a guy who swats baseballs for a living; in fact, I would go so far as to say that it buys into the very attitude Pearlman scorns for most of the piece - to quote him, "The dangerous moron looks out at the microphones and TV cameras pointed his way and thinks, 'Gee, I'm something special. Allow me to enthrall the nation.' Then he starts talking."

[Sheffield's talk (printed in GQ, of all places) basically theorizes that blacks make a lower percentage of major league ballplayers now compared to 20 years ago because blacks can't be controlled as easily as Latino players. It apparently has nothing to do with blacks choosing to go into other sports, or into other professions entirely - and nothing to do with Hispanics now outnumbering blacks in the overall American population. It has nothing to do with Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, and Carlos Beltran being absolute mashers.]

"Here is the point where Clichéd Columnist Rule No. 28-6 demands that I slam Sheffield; that I call for an apology, question his worthiness as a human being, and challenge Bud Selig to come up with some sort of a suspension."

Seems to me that he's already done most of this. No apology call, true - and no challenge to Selig, who would be challenged by your average dollar menu at the drive-thru - but the whole article has basically ripped Sheff a new one.

"This is how it's worked in the sports media for eons: We bitch and moan that players are little more than mantra-spewing robots. We long for a guy who'll speak his mind. We find a guy who speaks his mind. We rush toward him. He speaks his mind. He's a dangerous moron who says inane things... Then we hang him. Well, I'm no longer playing that game. I refuse to bash Sheffield for his words because, quite frankly, the man is a dolt."

To recap, kids - Pearlman is no longer playing this game, as of the end of an entire column in which he plays the game like a master. He refuses to bash Sheffield because, well, ok, one more lick couldn't hurt: "the man is a dolt."

Dolt or not, Sheffield is harmless - a ballplayer, whom everyone knows as a serial malcontent burning out his welcome in clubhouse after clubhouse. He's hardly dangerous. This man, however, is attempting to become President of the United States.

A new twist on "Presidential Race"

This is the final leg - and it's a doozy.

HAMPTON, Va. (June 5) - Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Tuesday that the Bush administration has done nothing to defuse a "quiet riot" among blacks that threatens to erupt just as riots in Los Angeles did 15 years ago.

I'm sorry, but I need to be clear here... it looks like a Democratic presidential candidate (and sitting US Senator) is using racial tension to advance his own ambitions, rather than to use his position to defuse those tensions and improve his country. Have I read this correctly?

The first-term Illinois senator said that with black people from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast still displaced 20 months after Hurricane Katrina, frustration and resentments are building explosively as they did before the 1992 riots.

OK, yes, I did read that correctly.

"This administration was colorblind in its incompetence," Obama said at a conference of black clergy, "but the poverty and the hopelessness was there long before the hurricane. All the hurricane did was to pull the curtain back for all the world to see."

The Swillers have amply documented which administration was the overseer of all that poverty and hopelessness - and which political party Mr. Obama shares with it: the party that insists that the only solution to all poverty is in direct, massive government intervention and redistribution, despite forty years (and counting) of direct evidence to the contrary.

"Those 'quiet riots' that take place every day are born from the same place as the fires and the destruction and the police decked out in riot gear and the deaths," Obama said.

I think I'll just bold that for all of us: uncontrollable act of nature = police in riot gear. (Blaming the rioters, of course, would be unhelpful.) You may protest that no president can command hurricanes, and that the police often need the riot gear to disperse rioters, thus protecting innocent people from hurricane-like damage, injury, and looting. You would be living in a world sadly devoid of the kind of rich fantasy life enjoyed by Barack Obama.

"They happen when a sense of disconnect settles in and hope dissipates. Despair takes hold and young people all across this country look at the way the world is and believe that things are never going to get any better."

That's a winning slogan, right there. We should run bumper stickers to commemorate this inspirational talk from the great Champion of Hope: Obama - "ALL IS LOST!"

He argued that once a hurricane hits or a jury renders a not guilty verdict, "the frustration is there for all to see."

Sonofabitch. That's his answer? Just storm the streets, pillage and rape and burn if you don't get your way! Why, it's just like that not guilty verdict for OJ - the Presbyterians were outraged, and have been carrying on a guerilla war against America ever since, while slandering the kindly Arabic youth.

Truthfully, if Obama meant THAT by "misled into war" he could hardly make less sense than he does now. Instead, he's happier fomenting racial violence and upheaval in the attempt to become the President of the country. It's despicable. It's also astonishingly stupid. If this works, who's going to be the one sending out the police in riot gear? HIM. In the meantime, dozens die, businesses are ruined, and the country is divided and undermined. Great job, genius.

BTW - he worked his magic at a gathering of clergy. I think something shorted out in my brain when I read that part.

Monday, June 04, 2007

It's worth the trip

That's the saying, and I would have to agree. Enjoy the fascinating in-depth article about the Northeast's fave java fix.

In my mind, I can see Ms. Sister's bi-weekly pilgrimage from Banga-cola to Jacksonville.

Wing-tip (believe it or not) to the Sports Guy, via his semi-regular links list. On the miracle chance he sees this, I can add to the admiration - thanks to bad Thai food, I was sick as hell Thursday and stumbled across Cleveland-Detroit, Game 5, with about 5 minutes left in the fourth and watched it through to the end of the game. I was officially freaking out by the time he buried the long two-pointer from the right wing late in OT1 - right with the one fan who just put his hands behind his head and stared. LeBron had just hucked a collective cup of warm beer right in the entire arena's lap, and when the Pistons somehow forced OT2, he just got better. If his arm had stretched out from midcourt to dunk like Space Jam I don't think I would have been surprised.

Normally, I'm a hockey bug, but jumpin' Gminski that was awesome. Thank you LeBron James.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Romney the Anti-Christ?

Bill Keller thinks so.

Florida evangelist Bill Keller says he was making a spiritual -- not political -- statement when he warned the 2.4 million subscribers to his Internet prayer ministry that ``if you vote for Mitt Romney, you are voting for Satan!''

But the Washington-based advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State says the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) should revoke the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status of Bill Keller Ministries, nonetheless.Keller, 49, who has a call-in show on a Tampa television station and a Web site called, on May 11 sent out a ``daily devotional'' that called Romney ``an unabashed and proud member of the Mormon cult founded by a murdering polygamist pedophile named Joseph Smith nearly 200 years ago.''

If the former Massachusetts governor wins the GOP nomination and the presidency, Keller's message added, it will ``ultimately lead millions of souls to the eternal flames of hell.''

In a letter to the IRS on Thursday, Americans United called Keller's message a violation of the ban on partisan politicking by tax-exempt religious groups.

Keller, in a telephone interview, laughed off the controversy. ``Let them come after me for making a spiritual statement about Mitt Romney. I would love that,'' he said. ``Bring it on.''

If a vote for Romney is a vote for Satan, then what was a vote for Bill Clinton? I don't have a guy in the GOP primary (assuming I am still a Republican at primary time), it's Romney's flip-flopping on social issues that bothers me (the 1994 debate with Senator Ted is illuminating) than his Mormonism.

Romney will no more lead souls to hell as president than Bill Clinton led souls to strip joints during the 1990's. If your faith is so weak that a government official can undermine it, then you have bigger problems than who will be the next president.

Who's arrogant again?

Via the Swilling, another climatologist off the reservation:

NASA administrator Michael Griffin is drawing the ire of his agency's preeminent climate scientists after apparently downplaying the need to combat global warming.
"I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists," Griffin told Inskeep. "I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with."
Griffin's comments immediately drew stunned reaction from James Hansen, NASA's top climate scientist at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

"It's an incredibly arrogant and ignorant statement," Hansen told ABC News. "It indicates a complete ignorance of understanding the implications of climate change."

Funny, but that didn't seem so arrogant to me. It sounds much more like he was trying to be very careful not to stir the harpies from their nests. (Shame it was unsuccessful, but still.) For example, this was on the front page of yesterday's Newark Star-Ledger, but since I was already sick, I didn't feel up to blogging it:

Wildwood's famous boardwalk could be under water. Smog in the suburbs, heat-related deaths in Newark, and beetle infestations in the Pinelands all could worsen. The Holland Tunnel could be closed every five years on average - because of flooding.
Or New Jersey could become a nationwide leader by passing "the strongest, most comprehensive global warming legislation in the country."
That was the choice outlined yesterday by Suzzanne Leta Liou of the nonprofit group Environment New Jersey, who strongly urged the latter course of action.
"If we don't take drastic action, global warming will touch every corner of New Jersey," Liou said at a news conference at the Statehouse.

It seems to me much more arrogant to believe that the laws of nature and physics are subject to human amendment. It's also kind of silly to think that a piece of legislation in force over 8700 square miles or so is going to have jack squat impact on global weather. It's not as if India or China or Russia are going to suddenly turn into an arboreal paradise because Jon Corzine put his name on a law.

Neither is it proven that everything in the 40-page report she brandished will either come true, or be preventable in any case. For example, the Cape May shoreline has been eroding for centuries already. There used to be a town called South Cape May, with a coastline railway. If you want to find the tracks, you have to go several feet offshore; and the ground itself has been steadily piling up in front of "Wildwood's famous boardwalk." (There's a reason the darn thing is 150 yards inland in spots. Some of the piers don't even reach the water anymore.)

The Mirror Principle strikes again here. Aren't these the folks who are always accusing the right of "needing an enemy" to keep people perpetually scared, in order to win their votes? And yet when you look, there's an environmentalist on the steps of the Statehouse telling our lawmakers (and us) that all is doomed unless they get their way. At least when the right finds an enemy, it's something or someone real, who can actually be defeated. Further, it's the left that cries doom and gloom - Reagan talked about morning in America, and fostered optimism and confidence. (For that matter, GWB has been doing the same now, one of his few remaining strong points.)

I'll try to link later to the full article online.