Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Crappy New Jersey™, Travel Edition

I'm pleased to report that Mom, Bro, and Sis (in no particular order) are doing pretty well. And as is usually the case, no news is good news - but is perilously short to tell. One particular highlight was the chance to visit with the one and only Barking Spider, a fellow Blogspotter and a good friend going back to college.

The trip down was long and uneventful, save a peculiar maneuver I witnessed, up close, only an hour from my destination. I got cut off up front, and tried to slow down, only to be cut off from behind as well. There was no place to go. After about a quarter mile I snuck out from in between the two geniuses, and they both passed. It was then that I noticed that they were both fellow New Jerseyans.

I had to travel 1100 miles to be nearly rammed by next-door neighbors.

Maybe it's me. Maybe I should just move to where the weather suits my clothes. I stopped for gas and found nothing but good people who smiled and appreciated my business; I stopped for food and found people noticing my Joisey brogue and asking where I was bound, how I was doing, "hope to see you on the way back, now."

I'll be glad to see my friends again at the end of the return trip, and I'll miss my family, but I do not miss the Jersey attitude, and I won't be glad to see it again.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Big Time! and other notes

Ho Ho Ho.

I racked my mind for about an hour, and that's about the safest greeting I could discern. The Rule, as has stood for years, is "No specific mention of any proper festival, without mention of all such festivals." Rule 1-B is similar - "At minimum, one must mention the possibility of no festival, or of any Higher Power that causeth any potential festival."

White European Male that I am, I'm inclined toward "Merry Christmas." I can't think of any other reason to shop amid mad throngs of a size to make Cecil B DeMille envious. Nor would I so cheerfully drive to southern Florida to visit my mother, brother, and sister for less reason - any other time of the year, I'd postpone the trip if I couldn't fly. (Why not? Let someone else serve me soft drinks, while I drowse in a comfort-like setting and freeload on the in-flight with the headphones from my CD player.)

Nevertheless, I gladly extend Hanukkah wishes at the proper occasion, the moreso since I have Jewish cousins. I usually spend Christmastime with them and my aunt, but this year is a special exception. I haven't been "home for Christmas" in a month of Sundays, and, again, I like to be able to say so without punch-bowl-sized helpings of Silent Disapproval.

Think about it - what if people objected to "month of Sundays" the way they do "Merry Christmas"? Would you like to waste your time fumbling for a generic alternative?

"It's been a month of Sundays - or a dog's age, whichever you believe is truly long."
"I don't believe in Sundays and I own four cats."
"Oh." [ahem] "Well, it's been a long time."
"Really?" [sniff] "I hadn't noticed."

If we ever get that knicker-twisted, then all bets are off. Happy December.

UPDATE - if you're curious, stop back after the New Year. I plan on posting current photos of the clan, and accounts of our a-wassailing.

ITEM - nifty! I got quoted in the Corner! (Happy December to Me.) It reminds me to put an Official Link to the Cornery Goodness in the Hive's permanent collection, on your left. (I make regular visits there and subscribe to the Dead Tree Edition, so it's past time to correct this oversight, and apologize.)

ITEM - every time I think I've punted on the football, they keep roughing my kicker. I've been keeping a running tally for the "400/3/L Club" - quarterbacks throwing for at least 400 yards and three touchdowns in a loss. Well, yesterday Tennessee's Billy Volek became this year's first repeat member: 40-60, 492 yards, 4 TD, only 1 INT. He was sacked for a safety at the very end of his team's 40-35 loss to Oakland.

RELATED ITEM - ESPN.com is a neat place, but for simplicity's sake, I link to the Sports Guy, who is about the best thing going for them (if it isn't Tim Keown, already amply-hyped in this space. He's a regular Tuesday thing, although I'd wish he'd ignore the growing trend for sports reporters to toss political observations. He called Robert Novak arrogant today, for no apparent reason than to signal to half his audience that he is Right-Thinking. I don't care if I'm in that half, sir; I simply don't need or care to know.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

It was even more football

Last night the Titans' Billy Volek joined the unenviable 400/3/L club: 29-43, 426 yards, 4 TDs (with no interceptions) - and a big loss. He's the fifth member this season. I don't see this happen this often playing Madden.

On the drive that ended with the winning score for Kansas City, the Titans' rookie lineman, Travis LeBoy, was whistled for a phantom personal foul on Chiefs QB Trent Green - he was getting ready to steamroll Green during the follow-through, but obviously pulled up, hands up in the air. The bump was minimal, and he avoided Green's helmet. Too bad. (Not that Tennessee has much to complain about, seeing as how they allowed 35 points up to that point, and would surrender 14 more in the final 40 seconds of the game.)

It occurs to me that they give quarterbacks helmets and pads for a reason. I'm not saying he should have been ploughed under, but he wouldn't have been given two free throws in an NBA game for that sort of contact - why give him fifteen free yards?

A small aside - yeah, I'm sick of writing about football for a little while. I'd rather write about the Lord's Own Hockey, but that news gets more depressing each day. (Tonight, America's Team will miss their 29th game of the season, at Toronto.)

Monday, December 13, 2004

What it was, was football...

On Friday, Big Al dropped off the office pool.

There’s nothing philosophical about it. Circle your winners, rank each game from 16 down, and watch them play. At the end, most points wins the pool.

That’s pretty much never me at the end. In Week One this year, I won for the first time ever – in fact, the only time ever, and often because the Seahawks have blown a big lead. (More on THEM later. For now, suffice it to say that even at five bucks a shot, Mike Holmgren owes me about a week’s pay.) But if it really bothered me, I wouldn’t spend the money. Where else can five dollars last an entire Sunday?

In any case, that was just a springboard for me to start wondering about what’s going on in the NFL. I tend to wonder out loud – lucky you.

1. Some people say the Giants are too predictable. Some of those people are Giants. I think that’s silly. The real problem is that they’re one-dimensional: Tiki Barber is the only viable option they have to reliably gain yards. Given this tidbit, you’d think that they rely on him in big spots more often, but no. In Kurt Warner’s last game, on their last drive, the Giants went EMPTY BACKFIELD on both 3rd and 4th down – with only two yards to go. You may as well put out signs reading “Free Beer with Your QB Sack.” Fast forward a couple of games, and it’s first and goal, and Eli Manning is … throwing a fade to Jeremy Shockey? He’s fast on his way to becoming Brian Bosworth with better hair. How is this preferable to lining up and trying to power your way in with one of the best five backs in football this season? (Going into yesterday's games, Barber led the entire NFL in total yards from scrimmage.) The Giants aren't predictable, they’re just not that bright. (Not that good, either.)

2. Have the Saints fired Detective Medavoy yet?

3. The Seahawks went one better than their week five El Foldo against the Rams – they managed to gack TWO ten-point leads against the Cowboys’ awesome offensive machine. The second of those was entirely after the two-minute warning. Ye gods. Matt Hasselbeck’s final line: 28-40, 414 yds, 3 TD, 0 INT, and a big fat L. But this is the eminently reasonable outcome for the league after restricting defenders trying to cover wide receivers. Hasselbeck became the fourth different guy this year to pitch for 400 yards and three scores while losing the game. The others:
Kelly Holcomb, CLV (v. CIN 12) 30-39, 413, 5-2
Jake Plummer, DNV (v. ATL 8) 31-55, 499, 4-3
Peyton Manning, IND (v. KC 8) 25-44, 472, 5-1
Manning gets special mention – the week before, against Jacksonville, he put up this line: 27-39, 368, 3-0. The Colts lost. And now, just yesterday, Brian Griese threw for 392 yards and 3 TDs, but he also threw 3 INTs, including one returned for enemy points. (Against whom? The
San Di-e-go...Chargers!)

UPDATE - of course, the 'Hawks beat Minnesota, 27-23, with a big rally, in Minnesota. Who took the Vikings because he didn't trust Seattle anymore? Five more bucks, Mike.

4. You’d have to look it up, like I did: the Colts backup quarterbacks/Maytag repairmen are named Jim Sorgi and Joe Hamilton. They have four total passes this season, all Sorgi’s. Center Jim Saturday has one more pass than Hamilton this year.

5. Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated’s Paul Zimmerman reports that Cleveland’s new coach, Terry Robiskie, tried an odd motivational ploy before his first game – he asked for anyone to step forward if he thought of himself as a leader on the team, and set a bucket of ice and a shovel before them. “If I had to dig a hole to hell and fight the devil with nothing but this ice,” he asked, “who would come with me?” (When you click, scroll waaayy down to #30 out of 32 to find the report. Dr. Z may have overestimated them a touch.)

Leave aside the dippiness of the metaphor – was he expecting to actually find the leaders of the Browns by asking them to put themselves forward? Only showoffs and loudmouths nominate themselves like that. The leaders are the ones their teammates look to without having to have them pointed out. Besides, Robiskie has been an assistant with the team all year. If HE has to ask, then he’s either not the right man for the coach’s whistle, or his team doesn’t have leaders.

UPDATE – Apparently, Jeff Garcia subscribes to the Nightfly theory. And now he has to have his leadership questioned because he didn’t buy into that prefab silliness in the clubhouse? He’s hurt, he’s getting crushed every week, and the team is foundering from the front office downward; what you look for there is someone to admit that and then move on. Going all rah-rah when your team is 3-9 is patronizing, especially from a guy who is going to be replaced at the end of the year. “Come on guys, we can do it! I’m right behind you – far behind you, in fact!” Uh, thanks, Coach. Garcia, who was chased out of San Francisco by a guy who promptly bolted the city himself, chose to come to Cleveland, and deserves better than to have these questions pop up again – and from a coach who has NO SHOT of being retained after this interim gig is done.

UPDATE II - Robiskie started rookie Luke McCown for his second game, and got rolled by the Buffalo Bills. The Browns gained only 17 yards of net offense for the whole game. This is beyond embarrassing - "and now, you are 3-10," as TMQ would say. Garcia played one series, got sacked, and left with a damaged knee. Time to raze this ballclub and start over.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Keown's two for two

Once again, I dip my wings to ESPN.com's Tim Keown, who is right on with the steroids-in-baseball story.

Of course, still a story, although not a surprise. I'm old enough to remember when even catchers weren't as big as Sammy Sosa. And after Lyle Alzado died, hearing about Ken Caminiti was sad, not shocking. In essence, what they were doing were trading the last 10-30 years of their lives for a shot at extending their athletic primes for three-to-five more seasons. Would you do that if it didn't work?

It's not just All-Stars either. Even everyday players face pressure to keep up. Could any shortstop today hit .230 and keep his job with flawless defense? How many players are suddenly hitting 20 homers a year? (Answer for 2004: 93.) How many did it 15 years ago? 36.

Here's some raw data, courtesy of The Baseball Archive, for 1987-1990. (They aren't sortable tables, so I went through and did the counting, with the year-by-year totals, per league, as follows:

Year AL NL
51 27 [Only the ball was juiced this year.]
27 16 [Neither the Padres nor Phillies got ONE guy over 20.]
20 16
21 22

In 1990, the entire St. Louis Cardinals finished with 73 homers. See what I mean? And anyone in a rec league of any kind has heard the jokes about that one guy who suddenly seems a hell of a lot stronger in the paint/along the boards/at the plate.

Return of the Buzz

Sorry, folks. Spent Thanksgiving at relatives, and came home with a weird sequential illness. Instead of getting everything at once, I got one symptom at a time for a week. I wasn't quite sick enough to miss more than one day of work, but had little energy left over. Much of that went into comments at other blogs rather than here. For example, the prodigious Tim Blair got a good bit of my attention.

I do have a segue. He posted a "thread on nothing," similar to my own little hiatus, save two features: first, it only lasted a day or two; second, the thread generated over 140 comments. The difference between the bigs and the sticks, cyberspacially.

But I also think that it's just a bit too involved to regularly comment around here unless you're a fellow Blogspotter. You have to register, unless you wish to post anonymously, and the registration thing is a deal-breaker for many, not least of all because many sites sneak cookies into your PC. In fact, even I was finding it a lot easier to stick very small snippets there (or at the Dacha) than here in the Hive.

Then again, it helps to have original content, and on that count I was lax and feeble. I may as well warn you now, I'm out of state for Christmas - my first Yule with my immediate family in about ten years. This doesn't mean "no posts," just not three or four a week as I'd been doing while healthy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Brawl, Redux

Well, I thought I was done with the Indiana/Detroit nonsense, but just when I thought I was out, ESPN's Skip Bayless pulls me back in.

This is just half-witted on so many levels. We'll take it in order:

1. He thinks we're overreacting. "It's not the end of sports as we know it," is his attitude. Well, that's the whole point: what if this is the beginning, the tip of an ugly iceberg? "Nobody died," he says. Should we wait until someone does, sir? Oh - TOO LATE. (Maybe Skip should read his own employer's website?)

2. "Artest's restraint." Oh, puh-leeze. "It clearly wasn't worth it" to trade blows with the much larger Ben Wallace. No kidding. I don't care much to know that Ron Artest's dad was a Golden Gloves champ who taught him to box. If anything, that means that Ron can accurately size up a potential foe and decide that, uh-uh, this isn't a good idea. Foul the guy from behind with a 15-point lead? Sure! Actually fight him? Ooops, better chase down some paunchy insurance salesman instead!

2-A. "Though Artest pushed the innocent fan, HE DID NOT STRIKE HIM." The emphasis is Skip's, as is the idiocy. In other words, the result of Artest's famed restraint is to charge the stands and manhandle the wrong guy. Then, Stephen Jackson has to come to his aid, all justified in Skip's mind because "What if a fan had pulled a knife or gun? Don't tell me some Artest-hater at the Palace wasn't armed."

First of all, assuming some hypothetical armed person is a bogus line of reasoning. If there were armed fans, they stayed uninvolved. Second, that slim possibility is one of the prime reasons that Artest should NOT charge the stands! The surest way to get a shooting or stabbing is to provoke the mysterious Armed Fan by physical assault. But no, "you couldn't condemn [Jackson] for rushing to his rescue." Again, Skip - he never should have needed it - he NEVER SHOULD HAVE LEFT THE COURT. But if all of that had come to pass and either Artest or Jackson were in a hospital (or worse) then what would you be saying?

3. Finally we reach an actual punch by Artest, which Skip assured us was "a tentative, downward jab. ... Artest's body language said, 'I know I shouldn't be up here and that I definitely shouldn't be throwing a punch at a fan.'" But golly, that thought didn't stop him, did it?

I guess that this divination of Artest's inner landscape jibes with Skip's advice at the top of the column: "Just this once, try watching the riot video with your brain instead of just your wide eyes." I'm sorry, but I can't help it, Skip - I see what's actually there. I can't emanate a penumbra from this sort of behavior.

4. Now we return to the court - and fans are there, following the players. "Fair game," Skip says, deadpan.

Let me wrap my brain around this, Skip: athletes in the stands are just protecting themselves from the armed hordes, but fans on the field of play are fair game? Have they paid for the privilege of being good little targets? You just can't have this both ways - that's why all the other major sports have walls between the talent and the paying customers.

4-a. Which reminds me - in Skip's words, "the most amazing part" of the brawl is when Artest slugs the fan and the fan doesn't go down. Everything else he apparently passed over as unremarkable, but wow, Artest couldn't cold-cock the guy with one shot! Disgusting attitude.

5. About the only thing Skip gets right is: "The Pistons should be ashamed." Darn tooting. And as I said below, there ought to be a stiff sanction to the Detroit franchise - I stick by my suggestion of barring them from national TV for the rest of the regular season. But instead of offering something substantive, Skip stops with his tsk-tsk. Maybe he should charge the owner's box or something.

6. At the end, Skip gets snooty, recalling sepearate incidents in Chicago.

First, Wrigley Field - a fan steals a Los Angeles Dodger's cap. Said Dodger goes after the fan to retrieve it, leading to a brawl in the stands. Second, Comiskey Park, where two thugs charged one of the Kansas City Royals' coaches. One was actually armed, but never gets the chance to use his weapon before being overwhelmed by players and security.

Those were worse, he says. "Please don't let any of these facts ruin your riot video," he sniffs.

Stuff it, Skippy. It's all of a piece. Fans don't belong on the field of play. Players don't belong in the stands. But there are two notable differences from the NBA incident, and those baseball fights: first, the baseball stadia had security on the scene quickly to break things up. Second, Major League Baseball does not embrace or incorporate gangsta thug image into its marketing strategies.

Besides, who said we ENJOYED any of those scenes?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

But he be dissin' me!

That brawl on Friday was quite a mouthful. Now that I've digested it, I think I have a take, seasoned by the reasoned opinions of others.

First off, ESPN's Tim Keown has the goods on the motivation of the brawl. Just as loyalty to a gang unit is a mockery of the loyalty of family members (or fellow soldiers in a platoon), so is rampant ego a mockery of self-respect. There are other ways to stand up for yourself than to strike out indiscriminately.

Second, some good stuff on National Review Online on a self-regulating society. (Start here and scroll down; then check this article.) One thing that I hadn't seen mentioned (at least as recently as 1:00 EST) is that the first step to regulating society is to police one's own behavior. I'd have been furious to be doused with someone's warm, tasteless beer. It's just short of someone spitting at you. But I wouldn't have been lying on the scorer's table either. For that matter, I don't think I'd have hammered Big Ben Wallace like that, and then retreated behind a wall of teammates to lounge out. And you don't go into the stands. Ever. (And, in direct corellation, fans don't go onto the court. Ever. The worst sports fight I ever saw firsthand was at our roller hockey rink, started by a previously-ejected player rushing the court. Predictably, nearly everyone rushed after him, only half of those actually players. The end result was a double-forfiet and a permanent suspension for the instigator.)

Third - no mention at all of what ought to happen to Detroit. My initial reaction, seeing the brawl and not the game itself, was that the game should have been forfieted to Indiana. Of course, there was only one minute left, and Indiana already had a comfortable lead, so moot point; but there still ought to be a sanction. The most fitting punishment that occurs to me is that Detroit ought to be banned from television appearances for the remainder of the regular season.

The league will obviously never do this. Detroit is the defending champion of the NBA. They make money for the broadcasters and the league (which means that every team has a stake in this). I say, all the better - it means the punishment has teeth. The league and its teams will take a hit short-term, in the wallet. The broadcasters and the Detroit Pistons take much the larger hit - and that will force changes in how teams approach security and fan relations. Better than that, it will show the league is serious about its image and about a safe and enjoyable experience for fans and their families, as well as the players' ultimate safety.

It was bad enough that the brawl happened on the court; the Detroit organization's failure to rein in the fans turned it into a mainstream news story. Even after the first beer sailed and the players were pulled back onto the court - how on earth do you let the fans follow them out there? How do you allow all the fans lining the tunnel to the locker rooms shower the exiting Indiana Pacers will all manner of debris?

Besides, discipline, even painful in the short-term, can have long-term gain. The NCAA tends to get this wrong, which is why this story is as surprising as it is inspirational. Paging David Stern...

Thursday, November 18, 2004

from the Mobile Command Unit

Item - Amidst the front page news of today's Wall Street Journal (featured above the fold: the proposed merger of Sears and K-Mart) was a small item from North Korea: "Dear Leader" Kim is now no longer being referred to as "Dear Leader." The country has been run so far into the ground that even the state press can't ignore it. (I link for you, but be advised that most of the content on WSJ.com is subscriber-only.)

Update - Your path to the Dissident Frogman's dacha is now repaired below, thanks to next-day feedback. Of course, you may be tired; your scroll wheel may be stuck; you may have only the scant energy required for one last mouse click. I am at your service: click here and enjoy the bilingual smackdown.

Item - Here in Crappy New Jersey™, the latest thing in South Orange/Maplewood schools is a tightening of the restriction of religious-themed music at Christmas. The policy was adopted last decade as part of the ever-widening restriction of religious-themed anything, anytime. Now that policy has been "clarified" - even instrumental versions of innocuous songs about Santa Claus are verboten.

But never fear: "On October 29, Nicholas Santoro, the chair of the district's Fine Arts Department, issued a memo ... suggesting that songs such as 'Winter Wonderland' or 'Frosty the Snowman' are acceptable. 'Music centered on peace is also a nice touch,' he wrote."

Perhaps these lyrics, Mr. Santoro?

Said the King to the people everywhere
'Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people everywhere!'

Leave aside, for the moment, the Blinding Flash of the Obvious - that this absolutely alienates everyone whose faith matters to him. I'd like to know exactly when the Lords of Education decided that high school was NOT the place for young adults to prepare to encounter a world full of competing ideas.

Really - from 13-18 years of age, these kids ought to be getting as many facts as possible and learning how to critically analyze them and draw their own conclusions. By the end of this time one hopes to see young adults prepared to lay out a position coherently, based on something less ephemeral than feelings. But, no: "Ellen Relkin, a Maplewood resident and parent of three children in the district, said she supports the ban. ... 'To have it as a school activity for people who don't observe Christmas, whether they're Jewish or Hindu, they feel out of it,' she said." [empahsis mine]

Oh, by all means, let's make sure that the kids are so paralyzed by their feelings that they can't think straight. Let's keep the widdle bittums so isolated from foreign concepts that their own minds and hearts grow brittle, unable to withstand the slightest brush with reality. We see how well it's worked so far.

And these collective heads of knuckle call us narrow-minded and intolerant?

Monday, November 15, 2004

Well, I was outvoted

Movie night has come and gone - and no Incredibles.

I had two options - accept and move on, or therapy, as some of the recently-outvoted have sought out. (Kudos to The Barking Spider for the link.)

The movie only cost nine bucks, so I went ahead and saw The Polar Express with the crew, and had a fine time. It's a charmer. I'm sure the book didn't have so much derring-do, but it didn't seem overly padded to me, and the voice acting was great (save one character - but don't let that stop you).

Those among us who have chosen option two should know that the poor man who killed himself at Ground Zero turns out not to have done it over politics, after all. (Michelle Malkin first posted this link - go read her site, often.) Don't let it get to you! Politics is means, not ends, and we should never let such a thing so totally consume and disrupt our peace of mind.

That's why I didn't post a "Free the Frogman" counter or some such. And behold, shortly after the election, he re-emerged. (Full Disclosure - he's higher proof than you get around here, so click responsibly.) Neither will I post a "We Miss Mark" counter while he's away, mostly as he has such small chance of seeing it here. But I do pray that he and his family are well and happy, and that he's soon free to renew his truly prodigious supply of great work.

UPDATE - I had a wonky link to the Dissident Frogman, spotted by a sharp-eyed visitor to the Hive. Your clicks shall now succeed!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Now, back to our show

Or, back to our commercials. I mocked Excessive Blade Mania in disposable razors a few posts back; this time, a slightly more serious grumble about Toyota.

The truck commercials are mildly clever - I don't mind so much that they made "more versatile" into "versatilier" for the one spot. That was intentional, made to play off the regular forms "brawnier" and "roomier." Forgiven. But, no, sorry - "adrenalitis" is right out.

"-itis" means inflamation or excess, as in "appendicitis." Adrenalitis would then mean an excess of adrenaline, not a lack - and our poor patient, suffering from the malady, would explode if given a truck which increased his already surging supply. It wouldn't have been hard to look it up on WebMD, right?

On a better note, Lileks' book is fantastic. Those of you who did not see the 70's firsthand are invited to partake. Be warned, however, that everyone suffered from aestheticosis. Oh, Lord, how we suffered.

(Yes, -osis can also mean excess, but is usually meant for abnormal conditions. So there.)

And a final note - the Man in the Tablecloth has passed. Mostly objective accounts in the media I saw, though naturally everyone tried to bend over backwards to find something nice to say of the departed. The furthest bend was Thursday's USA Today, which called Arafat "a man of courage and conviction," which made me ill. He was a despicable murderous bunghole, end of story. His "convictions" just made him more horrible.

And on that delightful note - off I go to the movies! I'm pushing for the Incredibles, and hope I don't get outvoted.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Good morning!

And it certainly is. Nobody's calling Ohio, yet. Maybe I'm naive - it's one thing for the candidates (however foolishly) choosing to wait until the bitter end; it's another for all the major media outlets to sit on their hands about it. (What liberal bias?)

Ohio is +136,000 votes for W. I've heard conflicting counts of the provisionals there, as high as a quarter million. Best-case, Kerry needs 77% of that 250,000 to force a tie - a margin he did not attain in any single county of Ohio, including its largest, Cuyahoga (from whence came Cleveland). Bush is closer in Pennsylvania, which is larger, but nobody has a problem calling that for Kerry (rightly enough).

I'm going to work. I fully expect to hear from the strongly-Kerry contingent. I'm tempted to put out a huge pile of red, white, and blue M&Ms, and tell everyone to eat them upside-down.

Checking out

I'm cooked like Christmas ham, kids.

I can't believe I stayed up refreshing electoral maps all night. In 2000, I had roller hockey on Tuesday, so my team hung out at the front counter after our game, watching returns, laughing at Tim Russert's dry-erase board, and generally rooting for Bush. (He had yet to attain single-letter status.)

Now I spent about four hours IM-ing with a friend and watching graphic representations of states move this way and that. Pathetically, I began to chant to myself, "O-hi-o! O-hi-o!" as the state crawled closer to W's column. Then I started chanting "I-o-wa! I-o-wa!" when Yahoo's
composite map swung from pink to pale blue. It looks like both are solidly for GWB, though naturally the JK/JE ticket is playing the Galaxy Quest card - Never give up, never surrender.

I applaud the sentiment, being one who enjoys stern defiance, but if these guys had even half this stubborn resolve against the country's actual enemies, I'd sleep easier at night.

As of 2:52 am, EDT, only five states are in play. Bush is holding 52% of NM, 99% counted (not called yet!), and 51.2% of OH (98% counted). Countrywide, the President has nearly a 4 million vote lead. Refreshing at 3:00 sharp, Nevada was just called for W. His margins in the other states are wider, with more votes counted, excepting Wisconsin, which Kerry leads by about 19K. According to the county map, that's about the best news the challenger has - very few Ohio precincts are left to report, and nearly all are in W's wheelhouse. Blue Ohio - Cuyahoga, Franklin, Lorain, Mahoning, Stark, Summit, Trumbull - are all in. Red Ohio has nearly all the remaining 236 unreporting precincts, with 150 of those in Hamilton, currently running 53% for W (188,000 votes and counting!).

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

One voter's story

I haven't pulled the lever in a while, and moving in recently complicated things. I registered with the New Jersey DMV when I changed my address a few months ago.

Of course, my name wasn't there (DMV efficiency). I needed a provisional ballot. The campaign worker rang out with it, actually - "This man has got to vote!" It was as if John Wayne rolled up on a horse, in black and white, while we all hummed "the Battle Hymn of the Republic." I absolutely loved it.

So I filled out my ballot (which hopefully will count) and was on my way, thanks to the helpful folks in New Brunswick, NJ. Good experience.

And for whom did I vote? You can probably guess by now. I really can't stomach being used, and the distinguished senator from Massachusetts has been trying it for months, now. George Bush, remember, is supposed to be the theocrat, the throat-crammer, the man forcing women to have babies by gunpoint (in more than one country). Yet John Kerry is the one equating a vote for him as
a vote for God:

"As the scripture teaches us, those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, and they will soar on wings like eagles, and they will run and not grow weary, and they will walk and not grow faint," Kerry said, whipping up cheers from the congregation.
"That's what we are going to do over these next two days and once we have done that job, for the next four years we are going to work out what we need to do to heal the wounds of this country, to be one America," Kerry said.
"We are going to get this done, let's make it happen, let's walk in the footsteps of the Lord."

Apparently, none of these steps carry him any closer to any sort of opposition to untrammeled abortion on demand; the great Christian feels no mandate to correct (or even curtail) one of the grave injustices of our day. Nor does he seem especially happy that millions of people in Afghanistan and Iraq now breathe free air.

Ah, yes, the war. "Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time," as we've heard, and yet he's recently been pledging to finish the job, not cut and run. I've never before heard someone vow to complete a terrible mistake.

In this regard, the recent Osama-rama (if it is, indeed, he, as I've questioned below) claimed that if we would only let him alone, he'd let us alone. Of course, that's not how it worked first time around - we did next-to-nothing in reply to several years of terrorist atrocities, leading him to direct the attacks on Washington and New York. This leads me to assume that the Faux bin Laden is following the hoary maxim: "Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggy' until you find a stick."

I note that with our current approach, he has no sticks and is reduced to groveling on Al Jazeera, possibly by proxy. The boys in post-production could have at least Photoshopped the poor guy a current edition of the Times. (Savor the irony of Falsama brandishing the discredited missing weapons story whilst moaning "No más" in Arabic.)

Through it all, I'm content. My long-time theory is that politics is only important in the impact it has on people. Voter apathy isn't always a bad thing; if the average joe can say, "Heck with this, I've got important things to do," it means that he's free to live his life unhindered (OK, mildly hindered) by the machinery of state. This one is more important, and accordingly, turnout is higher. And despite the rancor of things I find that friends of opposite voting trends are still my friends today, and will be tomorrow. We have more important things in common than party.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

In Brief

1. Not for nothing, but Osama's plea to the voters of America smacks of self-interest - if it is, in fact, the famed terrorist. Some folks have been known to use body doubles.

2. I've been chided for calling the New York Islanders "America's Hockey Team." Purely tongue in cheek, I assure you - but you do know they won four consecutive Stanley Cups, 1980-1983. It's a short list, those who've won four consecutive league titles: Yankees, Canadiens, Celtics, Browns, Islanders. The end. Only one of those is a United States hockey team. Ergo... America's hockey team, who are back on track with a 4-2 win over Los Angeles last night (in the real world).

3. Daylight savings time is nice, but I've already spent that hour. Can we fall back again next week?

4. Jake Plummer (?!?) threw for 498 yards today. Peyton Manning added 472 and five TD's. Both teams lost.

5. Otherwise, unseasonably mild here in Crappy New Jersey™. A good evening to be walking about one's neighborhood. There's still time - turn off the computer and meet me outside in ten minutes.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Dogs and cats, living together!

Game 2: Boston 6, St. Louis 2.

This grows serious.

Now, there was one positive about the whole Red Sox rally - the New York Daily News ran a great picture of Ed Westphal, captain of the 1975 Islanders, the last professional team to rally from 3-nil to win a playoff round. Always nice to see America's Hockey Team in the news for something other than screwing up.

(By the way - in the real world, where there's no lockout? Islanders are 3-0-1 following Saturday's 7-1 defeat of the Washington Capitals, who are truly terrible even when they do not play.)

OK, I lied, two positives - Curt Schilling is a freakin' stud. If he wasn't a Red Socker, they'd have mailed it in against the Yanks after that Game 3 wipeout. As it is, they may make Terry Francona the first talk-show side man to manage a World Series winner. (Davey Johnson, '86 Mets, already holds the distinction of first Porn-Star moustache to manage a WS winner.)

Cities (or regions, in this case) do this from time to time. They get hot and suddenly everyone starts winning at once. Think about 1969-73 in New York: Namath's guarantee, the Amazin' Mets, two Knicks titles, and Tug McGraw's "Ya Gotta Believe." Immediately following, Philly took the stage from '74-'83, opening that stretch with back-to-back Stanley Cups for the Flyers, ending with the Sixers winning in the NBA, and picking up the Phillies' only World Series in '80. Now things are Boston's way - the Pats, maybe the Sox, almost the Celtics a few years ago... If the Bruins could win in April something would be happening.

On the TV today, one of the NFL shows asked which was more important, the Patriots' streak or the Red Sox rally? The Pats, of course. Without that, would the Sox rally have been possible? Call me odd (take a number and wait your turn for that) - but I don't think that the Sox would have gotten Schilling without the Pats' example of excellence. They'd have settled for Jamie Moyer or something. Neither would they have dealt Nomar (the turning point of their year) without the example of the Pats dealing Drew Bledsoe.

I offer no predictions, but I do play a lot of High Heat Baseball. I swiped Nomar from the Sox in the game. (This is the 2001 Nomar, by the way - got him for Mike Hampton and Tsuyoshi Shinjo. Bill Simmons threw up in his mouth.) It worked, long term, but Boston won the Series that year. It was 2002. That's why I do not predict. And if you saw my office pool this week, you'd thank me.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Meanwhile, a word from our sponsors...

First, there was one blade...
And then...two blades.
Soon there were three blades.
But four blades? Come on. Right?

Hell, yeah, right! I mean, four blades? Are you nuts? Just how many razor blades can a man use at once, anyway? If we keep this up the durned thing won't fit on your face!

Truth be told, we're just trying to keep you from shelling out the forty bucks for an electric. I sort of wonder what we'll pull next. Maybe we'll shrink the width on the next model and bill it as a "precision razor." My idea is a small bubble, like a level, right on the top of the razor. I'm tired of seeing crooked sideburns on the subway.

Just do me a favor, won't you, guys? Don't grow beards. I'm hanging by a thread already.

Passing this on...

Mark Steyn is better at this than I am, so I'll just turn things over to him.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Keeping My Campaign Promises

Check down a couple of posts - those links are operable. I also strolled past some posts at Vox Popoli, a fellow Blogspotter. Interesting.

I have ambivalence toward libertarianism. In general, the less say a government has over your everyday life, the better. We ought to be suspicious whenever we surrender something of ours to the state.

On the other hand, the suspicion seems to get out of hand sometimes. Libertarians often think that government is at heart a criminal enterprise instead of a necessary safeguard against anarchy and mob rule. We could do with less of it, but would suffer grievously with none of it; that's why we had Founding Fathers instead of Kings. Rule of law is the thing.

Problem is, once you give the beast a lead, you tend to be dragged along in its wake. A government of law is one thing; a government of some persons over the rest is trouble. Such an arrangement, by its nature, attracts the busiest bodies in the citizenry - it is the natural home of (at best) well-meaning folk who'd like to help; at worst it's the refuge of bullies. The people most inclined to live and let live are exactly the ones who aren't running for council or school board or Congress. Why would they?

Galadriel said it best. Samwise told her that if she wished, she could put things to rights, and put a stop to a lot of bossing and bullying. "That's how it would start, alas," she replied sadly. In short, government is not inherently the problem. Any system of rule is flawed because the people who make it are fallen creatures.

Convinced yet? If so, I'm surprised. This isn't an argument, nor meant to be. Just sharing my misgivings. However, I'll make you one last promise - I won't ever run for anything more than a bus.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

It's me, baby!

The Hive is up and running again, fully re-wired. I now have a network jack right under the cable outlet. Except for my bed, home now feels like my office.

Wonderful things happen when you aren't subject to the vagaries of dial-up. You wouldn't believe what can get done in a short time:

1. The NHL settled their labor dispute. Tonight's regularly-scheduled games went off. Islanders beat Boston, 4-1, which makes it two straight for the home teams over the Beaneaters. (The Yanks swept Boston last week and are currently playing game six of the Series against Houston.)

2. Only four more shopping days until Christmas.

3. Star Wars: Episode III opened and closed in fifteen hours.

4. Election day was three weeks ago.

5. Iraq's hottest band, the Arabian Knights, just announced the dates for their world tour. After two months Stateside, they spend three weeks annoying France and Germany with tunes from their latest album, "We Kept the Receipts," before a triumphant Middle-East swing through Kashmir, Damascus, Tikrit, Tehran, Fallujah, Jordan, Tel Aviv, and Cairo. They then play three dates in Baghdad, coinciding with the close of Ramadan, before a special Jerusalem concert with Jars of Clay.

I could get used to the technology age...

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Release the Hounds

Not for nothing, but I haven’t been active enough this weekend to pick up on the Drudge stuff about Mr. Bill. O. Reilly. (It stinks when your Internet is down.) I had to play catch-up in the Mobile Command Unit.

I shan’t go into details, but if half of what Ms. Mackris says is verifiable, Mr. O’Reilly is – nay, not mere toast – a smoking cinder, the dregs of a month’s worth of toaster activity, scraped into three-day-old coffee. We’ll wait and see.

A gentleman named Vox Day, writing for World Net (I’ll link later, when I’m not emailing from undisclosed locations), wonders if the heretofore silent Right-Wing Conspiratists are double-standardizing, given their frothing regarding Mr. Bill. J. Clinton. I doubt my little buzz-in-the-dark will change that assessment (I’m a goalie, not a winger), but I offer these two observations:

1. Bill O’Reilly has an hourly talk show. People could choose to stay off it, or choose not to watch it, ever. (Such as yours truly.) His influence, in other words, is limited; the moreso if you consider that he’s working the same side of the street as the Mighty Rush (amidst others). Bill Clinton, on the other hand, toted about the nuclear launch codes for eight years. He signed legislation and executive orders (and dozens of pardons). Every last citizen, with or without a talk show, had every right to worry about what he’d been doing on citizen time – or dismiss those worries. I suspect that those who’ve withheld their opinions thus far about the current he-sued/she-sued are waiting for facts to sift a bit more.

2. Drudge helped break this story. Apparently not all of the VRWC got the “Hands Off O’Reilly” memo.

Nothing to add to that, except that, in fairness, Mr. Day acknowledged that Drudge helped this news out into the open, and left him off the list of Silent Treatments. Once the Hive is up and buzzing again, I plan to stop in on the Vox Populi blog and see what I can see.

And speaking of the hounds – has anyone successfully tracked down the Dissident Frogman? This is Day 35 since his last entry. MDF – if you’re out there, monsieur, reassure us!

UPDATE [Oct 21] - links are linked. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

And wash behind your ears, too...

"You should have your own blog," they say. "It's simple! Just type and post."

They do not add that simple is not easy. The Blogspot folks have put together a neat little tool for composing and posting these things; but so far I've lost two separate posts thanks to my own system's vagaries. The other day a friend's instant message popped up in the middle of my typing, and when I went back, half my post was gone, and the other half had turned into a link to a friend's blog.

Thus have I learned the big secret to posting anything on the Internet, a rule I'd known from my days on AOL's message boards, and then had forgotten - COPY AND PASTE.

The other trick is more challenging. I've gotten feedback from the first post...but none of it has made it into the comments section. It's set (I think) to allow comments from all users, but if I read things right, you still have to register to leave your name; else the comment is anonymous. That's a rule that I don't think I can change (sorry folks). However, I can make things up to my friend, by including a link to his blog here, and over on the side, permanent-like. I've also tossed in a couple of others. The first is for my church group and the other is for James Lileks, who is The Man.

As for the Lost Post... it took an hour to write and seconds to lose. Maybe next week. I'm out for the next few days - family wedding (a command appearance).

Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Magic Number?

No, this is not the October surprise so widely rumored. You'll have noticed the earth refusing to so much as twitch while this was uploading.

I suspect that anyone reading this, the first post, is expecting something pithy and clever regarding the current presidential debate in Miami. Sometimes that may happen, but this isn't all politics, all the time. You'll get variety here, that you will.

For example... chatting with a friend earlier this evening, the first words out of her mouth were, "Clinch already!" - referring not to GWB, but the New York Yankees. Much like the Distinguished Opposition in the baseball debate, John Kerry is looking to "close" late, but there is no wild card in the Electoral College. (In the old old days, they at least let the loser be Vice President.)

No matter. Tonight's debate is the first in a three-game series, and Kerry's counting on his Yale-honed debating skills to make up a few points in the standings. My personal experience in school was that the "champion debaters" were the ones who best aped the favored opinions of their instructors. Trying that approach may surprise him here; appealing to those whom he naturally disdains (AKA us) is difficult for him. (It's turned him orange this past week.) And there's many more of us than there are of intellectual elites and Mass Media Members.

No doubt, people will clap for Kerry...but they'll vote for W.