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Worth a visit or two
- Andrew Sullivan
- The Ornery American
- Iraq the Model
- Dennis the Peasant
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- James Lileks
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- February 2005
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A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote
Friday, December 30, 2005
Roy Moore: Governor?
5. Morality - Preserve our moral heritage.Should be a shock, but we already knew that Moore has no respect for the differentiation between secular power and divine power and no respect for the rule of law. Most liberal hyperbole about the U.S. becoming a theocracy is just that-- shrill, unrealistic hyperbole. But this... this guy is genuinely scary on any number of levels.
Defend the right of every person to include teachers, judges, and state, county and municipal offices to publicly acknowledge God as the moral foundation of law, liberty, and government.
Oppose gambling, pornography, and same-sex marriage.
Secure God-given inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property.
And if you want to be really scared, read the comments in the "blog." I particularly liked this "deep thinker":
Follow that? People come here for our freedoms, so if you want to be free to worship in your own way, you better go back where you came from, except, apparently, if you worship Myrtle the Turtle. That seems to be acceptable.
And for Bohica...I personally couldn't care less, about those who want to "worship in a different way." This is America! This country was founded on Christianity. Not on Islam. Not on Buddhism. Not on Hinduism. Not on atheism. If they don't like it here, they can go back from whence they came.
People from all over the world are fleeing from other countries to get to America. Why? Because of our freedoms. And who gives us those freedoms? Man? Not hardly. What man gives, man can take away. The answer is God. There are those that are fighting tooth and nail to eliminate, the very God who gives us those freedoms. Go Figure! We better pray they don't succeed.
So, let not your heart be troubled. Here in America..one can worship Myrtle the turtle. In a Muslim country, one must worship Mohammad. They're not allowed to worship ol' Myrtle.
I've been tagged
Apparently this sort of thing is all the rage amongst us bloggerly types-- we're reputatable, but we're still fun-- and tc tagged me in the comments section, so what the hey. Who am I to say "Nay, I am above such foolishness"? Besides, it's kinda interesting:
The meme of four-- complete! Feel free to toss your own answers into the hopper in the comments section if you so feel inclined.
Four jobs you've had in your life: Pizza cook, Group home supervisor, Accounts receivable minion, Librarian/Archivist.
Four movies you could watch over and over: The Godfather, any Monty Python movie, Caddyshack, It's a Wonderful Life
Four places you've lived: Kaukauna, WI; Milwaukee,WI; Pasadena, CA and Racine, WI.
Four TV shows you love to watch: My Name is Earl; NFL football; CSI; Seinfeld (even in reruns).
Four places you've been on vacation: Disneyland/LA, Las Vegas, Door County, WI, and on a cross-country drive from Wisconsin to Los Angeles.
Four websites you visit daily: sportsline.com, instapundit.com, umm... that's about it. I don't even go to those two every day, but more often than any others.
Four of your favorite foods: Cheeseburger and fries, Steak, fresh fruit, and crab.
Four places you'd rather be: In a Bar, watching a major sporting event; On a lake or the ocean; hiking; England.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
But I digress. Irony. Right. One of the over-arching themes I found at most of the blogs was a decrying of how horribly close-minded, intolerant, and generally bad are we of a conservative bent. And, of course, by contrast how open-minded, tolerant, and generally good are those of a liberal bent. Such claims generally preceding, or sometimes following, extended rants about how various conservative worldviews, or personalities, are idiotic, unworthy of mention, completely without merit, and generally to be disparaged and dismissed with barely a sniff. The potential conflict between claiming to be open-minded and then dismissing all but their own perspectives as invalid and worthless never seems to occur to any of them. Which is deliciously ironic, and rather funny in a sad sort of way. I should also mention, before bringing out some of my favorites, that this is by no means limited to the left-- lgf and powerline both engage in this type of thing as well as I'm sure many other right-wing blogs do-- but I just happened to be browsing left-wing blogs.
They [conservatives] have no idea what art is. The closest thing to it in their universe is propaganda, so they assume art is just a species of that. (Sometimes they're accidentally right, of course, but having no aesthetics, they cannot make informed judgements.) Therefore any work of art that contains something they find viscerally objectionable -- in Kurtz' case, acts of love that do not involve one man, one woman, and (it would seem) one or fewer orgasms -- is analyzed and denounced as if it were a piece of legislation or a policy paper.Notable for the sheer breadth of the claim. Conservatives (all of them) have "no idea what art is," and "no aesthetics." Notice also the subtle working in of "propoganda" (all that we conservatives know of art) and our inability to "make informed judgements." Beautiful-- now anything a conservative says can be disregarded because all we know about is propoganda and we are incapable of making informed judgements. But we're the ones seeing the world through "so pinched a gaze."
So of course many of them no longer bother to watch the things they denounce: why should they bother?
Another reason to be grateful, folks, in this holiday season: that you don't see the world through so pinched a gaze.
I would be remiss if I didn't include James Wolcott since he may well be the king of transference and irony:
The dainty stench of burnt envy drew me to the comments section of Little Green Footballs, where I found my reputation and personhood under mass grubworm assault. I don't know you've ever ventured into the subterranean underworld that is LGF's comments section, but it's sort of like a disorganized Nuremberg Rally, a lot of angry ruffians with nowhere to go lacking something better to do.
The catalyst for this impromptu rally was my clinical diagnosis of Daniel Pipes as "a patronizing little shit," which seemed to displease the footballers, not that any of them bothered to acquaint themselves with the causus belli (Pipes' pipsqueak character smear of Muhammed Ali). Then again, the poor dears don't seem to know the difference between an ocelot and an ocicat, another indictment of the limitations of home schooling.
Note particularly the phrases: "poor dears," "mass grubworm," "angry ruffians," "limitations of home schooling." But Pipes is the "patronizing little shit." Uh huh. Worthy entry for the sheer pot/kettle moment of James Wolcott acusing someone else of being patronizing.
A short, "pithy" one from Suburban Guerilla:
Yeah, Digby’s right. Why the hell do Democrats insist on their discredited belief it’s all about wonkified content? This is show biz, folks. Republicans are from the sales and marketing culture. They get it.Cuts right to the heart of it, don't you think? Democrats = substance, Republicans = marketing. All in five short sentences that contain no substance to support the allegation. Brilliant!
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Mostly, I just can't imagine how you EVER justify that to yourself. How is it possible to think that this was the right thing to do?
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
A PC Shoutout!
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.
By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.
Still More Perspective
This is Nick inside the tent that serves as his quarters.
This is Nick outside the tent that serves as his quarters.
This is Nick inside the armored Humvee they take on patrols.
This is the outskirts of Tikrit. Oddly, it reminds me a bit of Vegas-- large, expansive notice that you are about to enter... then nothing for quite a while.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Friday's List: What Makes Christmas Great
20) Bill Murray. Particularly in Scrooged, but really any Bill Murray movie will do.
19) Elves. Paricularly when they look like this.
18) Santa. The tradition is weird, when you really stop and think about it, but it's so woven into the tapestry of our country these days, that Christmas just wouldn't be the same without the big red guy.
17) Presents. What a wonderful thought-- give something nice to the people you care about. Pity it's become so commercialized.
16) A Christmas Story. So many hilarious and touching moments in this film. The pink rabbit pajamas, the Major Prize, Christmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant, double dog dares and frozen flagpoles. Awesome film.
15) It's a Wonderful Life. Schlocky? Yeah, more than a little, but damn fine nonetheless. And who among us doesn't choke up, just a little, at the "angel gets its wings" moment?
14) Snow. Pain in the butt most of the time, it just doesn't seem as Christmasy without a blanket of white stuff on the ground.
13) Christmas Dinner. Probably second only to Thanksgiving for sheer groanage factor. And somehow the fact that it's snowy and cold outside makes being inside, warm and stuffed all that much better.
12) Christmas Carols. Not the Dickens creation-- the songs. Some of the most beautiful music ever written are Christmas songs-- Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, The Messiah, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem. Marvelous stuff.
11) Christmas Trees. Another strange leftover from pagan times, but a very cool strange leftover. Though I never really have understood "flocking" your Christmas tree.
10) A Christmas Carol. Certainly not Dickens' most literary work, but perhaps his most affecting because of its simplicity. I prefer the Alistair Sim version. Though Mr. Magoo will do in a pinch.
9) Christmas candy. Cookies, candy canes, peanut clusters, carmel corn, boxes filled with mystery chocolates, chex mix, and more. And Alka Seltzer.
8) Christmas cards. It's cool to hear from folks that we otherwise have little or no contact with over the course of a year. Helps to keep alive ties that otherwise might wither and die.
7) How the Grinch Stole Christmas. NOT the Jim Carrey monstrosity. The original. Whomever thought to get Boris Karloff to narrate this was a genius! Genius is also a good way to describe the job Karloff did narrating this gem. One of my fondest Christmas memories is my father belting out "Your a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" every year. Particularly the unwashed socks verse.
6) Christmas decorations. Not before Halloween, mind you, but in the proper scheme of things I do love Christmas lights. They make the beginning of the long cold winter much easier to bear. Though this is just tacky. All things in moderation, folks.
5) Children's faces on Christmas morning. I am trying to soak this up from kids as much as I can, because this magic will not last. I will try to remember to bring in actual pictures of my kids opening presents next week so I can replace this generic picture from the '80s.
4) A Charlie Brown Christmas. Linus' speech gives me chills each and every time I hear it.
3) Friends. When things get too hectic during the holidays, take some time out with them.
2) Family. Give yours a hug and an "I love you." Good for the soul.
1) The birth of Jesus. Nothing can top the birth of our savior-- except Easter, and that's several months away yet. Really, the only thing that needs to be on the list-- but a one item Friday's list would be kinda silly.
Merry Christmas everybody. May the season bring blessings and peace to you all.
Wiretapping and Whatnot
In particular I was struck by Professor Sunstein's analysis of why this issue has been such a hot button:
Hugh Hewitt: Do you think the media simply does not understand? Or are they being purposefully ill-informed in your view?Guilty as charged! On all counts. This pretty succinctly sums up precisely why this story struck such a nerve with me. This does not mean Bush is off the hook, but I am now much more of Mojo's opinion that the leakers are by far more culpable of illegal activity than Bush.
Carl Sunstein: You know what I think it is? It's kind of an echo of Watergate. So when the word wiretapping comes out, a lot of people get really nervous and think this is a rerun of Watergate. I also think there are two different ideas going on here. One is skepticism on the part of many members of the media about judgments by President Bush that threaten, in their view, civil liberties. So it's like they see President Bush and civil liberties, and they get a little more reflexively skeptical than maybe the individual issue warrants. So there's that. Plus, there's, I think, a kind of bipartisan...in the American culture, including the media, streak that is very nervous about intruding on telephone calls and e-mails. And that, in many ways, is healthy. But it can create a misunderstanding of a particular situation.
v. 11 #13
Nearly Final Standings
1st/2nd: Fearsome Canines/Stumbling Alcoholics
3rd/4th: Motor City Cheeseheads/Centurions
5th: Metal Mayhem
6th: Chocolate Foam
7th: Diamond Boys
10th: Renaissance Men
12th: Dimestick Cowboys
14th: Knights Who Say Ni
Stat of the Week: There was an old rusty dude team in each of the three post-season tournaments. The Centurions made the playoffs, the Renaissance Men made the Terribly Average Bowl, and the Knights Who Say Ni were the old rusty dude representative to the Barrel Bowl. We have a veritable plethora of old rusty dudes in this league.
- In a slight upset, the 6th seeded Centurions waxed the 3rd seeded Metal Mayhem, 64.8 to 42.9 behind double digit scoring from five out of six starters. "Ran out of smoke, and most of our mirrors broke when one of the roadies turned the amps up to 11," said a disappointed Coach Steve. "Without our smoke and mirrors, we really had no chance. But, it was a good run. Next year, we're thinking of adding keyboards to the mix-- that's the sound I think will put us over the top. I mean look at Van Halen's Jump-- Eddie's keyboards were huge!"
- In another slight upset-- or maybe not-- the Motor City Cheeseheads bumped off the Chocolate Foam 51.1 to 47.1 behind big games from Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison and a late strong rally by Jason Witten. For the Foam, only Domanick Davis and Torry Holt showed up as Foam finally dissolved into a icky puddle of jelly-looking stuff.
- In the Terribly Average Bowl, the Diamond Boys held off the Posts, 49.5 to 43.2 as both coaches played the wrong running back, while the Hairballs defeated the injury-riddled Renaissance Men, 43.0 to 31.5.
- Freedom from the Barrel Bowl was secured by the Snowmobilers with authority as Tiki Barber's 19.5 lead a 78.8 barrage that kept the Barkeeps in the Barrel Bowl despite a solid 52.8 performance. In the other Barrel Bowl semi-final, the Dimestick Cowboys finished their season strong, drubbing the Knights Who Say Ni, 58.5 to 30.1.
- In a Monday Night nailbiter, Brett Favre got pulled one series too late for the Motor City Cheeseheads as the Stumbling Alcoholics got just enough from #4 and Donald Driver to eke out a 53.8 to 48.9 victory. In the other semi-final matchup, the Fearsome Canines survived injuries to L.T. and Kurt Warner to hang on for a 43.8 to 39.9 victory over the Centurions. Meanwhile, the Metal Mayhem ended their season on a high note, smoking the Chocolate Foam 50.5 to 26.2 to claim fifth place.
- In an appropriately mediocre fashion, the Diamond Boys held off the Hairballs 44.3 to 41.5 to claim the title of the best of the so-so teams. Oh-- and the Posts beat the Renaissance Men 47.5 to 27.6 for 9th.
- The Barkeeps Win! Easily the worst team all year, the Barkeeps summoned up just enough to escape as the Barrel Bowl runner up, edging the Knights Who Say Ni 33.5 to 32.4. Which is an approrpriately pathetic point total for the Barrel Bowl finale.
Congratulations to Scottie C. and Troie B. and good luck. In an interesting scheduling quirk, the entire Fearsome Canines squad plays on Saturday, while half of the Stumbling Alcoholics players will be on the field either Sunday or Monday night.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Labels: War on Terror
Could Be Worse: Could Be British
I don't even want GPS on my vehicle for the simple reason that if the satellite can tell me where I am, it can tell someone else where I am as well. Don't like it, don't want it. But at least you have the option-- the British program is going to monitor you whether you like it or not.
Now THAT, my friends, actually does smack a bit too much of 1984 than I am comfortable with.
Sticking It to the Man!
How else to explain how a union in which the average worker makes $63,000 annually, pays nothing, nada, zilch, zippo for their health insurance coverage and receives a full pension at age 55 can possibly feel that a 3.5% raise is sufficient cause to engage in an illegal strike that causes massive havoc for several million of their fellow citizens and costs the economy of their city several hundred millions of dollars? In the old days, unions served a purpose-- forcing companies to provide health care, to pay overtime, to prohibit 16 hour days, and to implement safety measures. Today, their main purpose is to fill the coffers of the union, put economic stress on the companies and governments they work for-- to the point of bankruptcy in some cases-- and to expand priviliges for members that already far outstrip most of their counterparts in the private/non-unionized sector.
All of which hamstrings companies and municipalities across the nation, increases taxes on everyone as government agencies struggle to fully fund pension and health care plans for unionized employees, increases the cost to the consumer as unionized companies pass on the cost to the end user and serves precisely no purpose except to enrich the union.
On top of THAT the unions have the gall to be ungrateful about it? What a crock.
Fortunately, NYC didn't blink this time and the fines and threats of jail time were sufficient to get the union to end their illegal strike. Hopefully, NYC will stick to its guns and not agree to a better deal with the union-- ideally, NYC will reduce their offer, citing the 100s of millions they lost during the strike as the justification. "So sorry, Mr. Toussaint, but the city recently suffered a major economic setback due to the illegal actions of small number of our citizens. We're afraid we can no longer afford to offer your union a 3.5% raise and a modest 6% employee contribution to the pension fund. Because of our losses, we're going to have to cut the offer to 2.5% and a 10% employee contribution."
Now that would be sweet.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
But I digress. My point is, we'll be okay-- as long as people continue to give a crap. The only truly scary thing about the world today is that a lot of people don't give a crap. But then again, it has likely always been thus. For every season, turn, turn, turn. You grok?
Don't believe me? Well check out this fiery denounciation of the opposition party by a journalist from years gone by:
Who do you suppose the writer is describing? George W. Bush? Ronald Reagan? Nixon? Eisenhower? FDR? Teddy Roosevelt? Nah, this is old school, baby-- not some 20th century prattle.
These are the men who cry out for war, exterminating war, a war against every man, every woman and every child in France, that shall not stop till it has destroyed all the Republics which are now in existence on the globe; for these purposes, they are for a treaty offensive and defensive with England, and to form intimate political connexions with Russia and Turkey, the three nations of all others in Europe, by whom we can least be benefited; to borrow any sum of money that is possible, and at any rate of interest, to strengthen the coalition of kings and tyrants, and furnish all their aid in accomplishing these great works. These are the men who snuff the gale, as if charged with most delicious fragrance, which bears them intelligence of blood and carnage, in which we have already shared by accommodating ourselves to their views and entering into these pursuits; men who are frantic with rage and disappointment when they are informed of any measures taken to prevent war and encourage free government—who gnash their teeth at the name of peace.
Grant, then? Pierce? Andrew Jackson? Nope. Even older. 18th century denunciations by the press, my friends. This little polemic was published in 1799, and it was referring to the Federalist Party, whose principle figures were John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and none other than George Washington himself. And this was not even close to the most scathing thing printed in the lead up to the election of 1800. Not even close.
A fledling country, deep in debt, barely recovered from a devastating war, and trying a new form of government that had only faint and ill-fated antecedents survived this. Survived political sniping as vicious and bitter as any we see today and then some.
Still unconvinced? Before and after his election, President Lincoln was called diabolical, a High Priest of Republicanism, a treacherous tyrant and a zealot. We survived that, albeit just barely. The country is resilient, and these things run in cycles.
And if you ever want to take a seriously bizarre "trip" into the past, read a few pro-slavery treatises from 1860. Wow. One author actually invoked the spirit of the Founding Fathers as a defense of slavery-- Jefferson and Washington in particular-- and argued that the south was far more democratic than the north. An interesting case study for just how good people are at rationalizing away even the most foul of acts or beliefs.
Things That Make You Go Hmmmm...
They moved UP two slots!
How is that possible? They got beat 48 to 3! Everyone looked like they were sleep walking out there. The defense made Kyle Boller look like Joe Montana. John Madden and Al Michaels were talking about brushing their teeth it was such a god awful dreadful game!
At least the Jets and Raiders were close in their losses, and both teams actually tried. How do we pass them on the ranking list? What drugs is Pete Prisco on, and do we really want mind-altering drugs that powerful to be available to people?
Some Handy Definitions
Can We Fire Mike Sherman NOW?!
So, can we fire him now? Please?
They weren't competitive with the 4-9 Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, and gave up 48 points to a team that hadn't scored 30 or more all year and more than 20 only once. The players looked like they didn't care and weren't especially concerned with trying-- perhaps thinking it was too bloody cold out and I wonder what I should get my mother for Christmas instead.
The only two reasons that remain to keep Mike Sherman as coach are: Favre likes him, so if we cashier him, Favre may well not return in '06 and that Sherman has another two years left on his contract. Frankly, both of those reasons are unpersuasive-- I'm tired of waiting on Favre at the end of every season, and if he does not come back because Sherman is gone... well, it's been a helluva run Brett, thanks for returning the franchise to its former glory, but for the good of the team, Sherman has to go. As to the money-- well, it's too late to unpay him (goodness knows what Ted Thompson was thinking when he extended Sherman's contract), but paying him good money to provide horrendous coaching hardly seems like a bargain. We'll have to eat the money, which blows, and go out and find somebody who has a clue.
All of that said, I will note that Sherman seems like a very nice man. He has a great family, goes to church regularly, and has been a stand up guy in the community. This is not personal, and part of me is sorry he failed-- because I like the guy. But he did fail, and rather spectacularly, and he needs to go.
And, they're fun to watch. Which cannot in good conscience be said of much of the NBA-- even some of the good teams.
If you do not have an NBA team of your own to root for-- or if that team is in the Western Conference-- I highly recommend that you become a Milwaukee Bucks fan. The Bucks ROCK!
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Harold Pinter: Literary Luminary and Complete Moonbat
Here's my view, for whatever that's worth. Pinter can write, and was deserving of receiving the award. That said, I will say that I don't like his plays much-- not my style. I should also note that this opinion is based on limited data-- I've only ever actually seen one. But the style has had manifold and long-reaching impacts on playwrights and audiences for decades-- you don't get compared to Samuel Beckett if you suck.
Pinter is also a foaming at the mouth Communist, makes no apologies for it, and is therefore a legitimate target of derision and criticism from people who believe that Communism is a really bad idea that lends itself incredibly well to facistic totalitarianism. Did his radical leftism endear him to the notoriously "progressive" selectors of the Nobel committee? Of course it did. The only really surprising thing about his selection is that it didn't happen sooner.
So what? Well, Pinter is back in the blogosphere, and to a lesser degree the mainstream media, after delivering his Nobel acceptance speech. The speech is described as a "furious howl of outrage" (NYT) and applauded by leftwing blogs around the world, including Daily Kos, Martini Republic (which both bemoan the lack of mainstream coverage of Pinter's rant), Busy, Busy, Busy, and even Boston's NPR blog. Rightwing blog response has been a bit slower, but it is starting to catch up, as Malkin has a brief post, and Right Reason weighs in-- but so far nothing from Little Green Footballs, one of the most virulent Pinter bashers.
So what? Couple of things, I guess. I find it interesting that many folks on the left are embracing Pinter's speech so wholeheartedly. I find it odd that more folks on the right, or even the center, haven't taken issue with his speech. And I found the speech itself fascinating in a number of different ways. Which is why I'm going to talk further about it-- all of this is just preamble. Backstory to give you an idea of who Pinter is and what folks think of him.
I'll cover his speech in two-parts, the first reflecting on the actual literary topics he covers (about a quarter of the whole), and the second reflecting on the political topics.
Listening to Pinter talk about the creative process is fascinating to me because this is completely not how my own creativity is expressed. I know I am not a literary genius, but I do think I have some ability to write interesting, enjoyable stories, so to hear Pinter talk about the characters interacting with him is both foreign and intriguing. Mine simply do not do that. I get flashes of scenes from time to time, and I am often surprised by where the writing takes me, but it is not this sort of organic process that Pinter describes. Other authors, Stephen King notable among them, have described the creative process similarly-- on ongoing interaction between the author, the characters and the plot.
Would my writing be better if my mind worked that way? Maybe-- I do think my fiction would be more prolific, as for me writing is... hard. The end result is very satisfying, and at times the words do seem to flow quite freely, but in general the actual process is hard. I have an idea of the scene I want to capture, but to actually get down on paper what I am, very roughly, imagining can be tedious and time-consuming. Occassionally, even very unsatisfying.
So, fun to hear how a noted literary mind goes about his business. Had Pinter stopped there, it would have been an enlightening speech. Had he proceeded to explain how these basic ideas and interactions with the characters became a polished performance piece, it would have been even more interesting. Sadly, instead, he spends the majority of his speech railing against America and the West in general, and Bush and Blair in particular.
Bother. But alright, since he chose to go that way, I choose to analyze his speech and come to the conclusion that he really ought to stick to plays and shut up about world politics. If only. But no, so here goes:
As every single person here knows, the justification for the invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein possessed a highly dangerous body of weapons of mass destruction, some of which could be fired in 45 minutes, bringing about appalling devastation. We were assured that was true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq had a relationship with Al Quaeda and shared responsibility for the atrocity in New York of September 11th 2001. We were assured that this was true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq threatened the security of the world. We were assured it was true. It was not true.This tired old thing? Pinter leads with this? His plays may have style and substance, but his political analysis is off to a bad start. One of the reasons for the invasion of Iraq were the likely existence of WMDs-- a reason that was as firmly believed by Bill Clinton as it was by George Bush. It was also only one reason. People on the left never seem to mention the other reasons: Hussein's continued flouting of U.N. resolutions, the liberation of millions of oppressed Iraqis, the support of terror thoroughout the Middle East by Hussein's government. As to the rest. There was a relationship between Al Quaeda and Iraq, Harry, and no direct connection between Iraq and 9/11 was ever claimed. For someone so concerned with other assuring us of what is and isn't true, you are awfully bad at getting the facts straight, Mr. Pinter.
Now Pinter launches into a diatribe about the U.S. role in commiting atrocities around the world during the Cold War. Mostly hyperbole like the following:
Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America's favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as 'low intensity conflict'. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued – or beaten to death – the same thing – and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed. This was a commonplace in US foreign policy in the years to which I refer.Nice. I told you he was a talented writer, didn't I? Malignant growths, gangree, great corporations, etc., etc. Wow, America sucks-- except that there is no evidence here, merely Pinter asserting that it is so. In fact, the only example of this "commonplace" occurrence that Pinter offers is that of Nicaragua, the Sandinistas and the Contras. The Sandinistas were "intelligent, rational and civilized." The Contras were rampaging mobs of killers.
Actually, the Contras probably were frequently rampaging mobs of killers, and our association with them certainly is a dark moment in our history, but lets remember two things. One, the association was revealed and repudiated-- which is a far cry from the "superficially recorded, let alone documented" claim of Pinter-- and two, there is quite a lot of evidence that the Sandinistas were little, if any, better than the Contras. Their government was corrupt, the "democracy" they touted was a farce, and their connections to Cuba and the U.S.S.R. were undeniable.
Further, let's take a look Pinter's unsubstantiated assertion that the Sandinistas were rational and civilized and that "there was in fact no record of death squads under the Sandinista government. There was no record of torture. There was no record of systematic or official military brutality." I did about five minutes of research in the New York Times and Washington Post and found numerous articles to the contrary. Indeed, about the best thing I could find on the Sandinistas was that Nicaragua wasn't as bad as many of it neighboring countries, and that the government that they overthrew was much worse. Rational and civilized. Uh huh.
My basic conclusion here-- Reagan made a mistake, and a bad one, based on his belief that Stalinistic Communism needed to be opposed anywhere and everywhere. Wrong bedfellows-- much like our support of Hussein in the past. It would've been nice if Reagan had admitted and repudiated it, but if this is the key example of a U.S. policy comparable to that of the Soviety Union and other Communist countries... well, perhaps Pinter should stick with literature.
Rambling thoughts follow on the U.S. as salesman, Gitmo, our disregard for the United Nations. Why we should hold the U.N. in high regard is not explained, and the fact that the U.S. pays roughly a quarter of the entire U.N. budget is not mentioned. And while I disagree with Bush's attempt to make "enemy combatants" outside all regulations relating to POWs and/or the Geneva Convention, I made the case to my mother-- who abhorred it-- that our system is built to respond to these types of "exceptions" and self-correct. Which is precisely what it has done. Pinter has apparently never heard of Jose Padilla.
But now we get to the heart of Pinter's demetia-- Iraq and George W. Bush:
The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading – as a last resort – all other justifications having failed to justify themselves – as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.The invasion was a bandit act in the sense that Saddam Hussein was a "bad actor", a bandit, who defied the U.N., stole the U.N.'s money, bribed U.N. officials, killed thousands-- probably hundreds of thousands-- of his own countrymen, tortured thousands more, lived in golden palaces while most of his people were on the verge of starvation, and paid others to blow up Israelis. "Masquerading" as liberation, Harry? So, all those many thousands of Iraqis who voted last week are all in on the charade? The recent poll showing most Iraqis are happy with their lives, that their economic condition is improving, and that they support a democratic government is all just propaganda, Mr. Pinter?
We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.
I find it deeply ironic that Pinter would condemn the U.S. bringing "innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people," which seems to me to be a pretty dead-on balls accurate (it's an industry term) description of Saddam Hussein's Iraq. You know-- the guy we put in jail. I would ask Mr. Pinter whom he would prefer to be governed by-- Tony Blair in England, or Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Living in the former, he received a Nobel prize and accolades for his "bravery" from many leftist pundits. Living in the latter-- well, I'd say there's a fair chance he wouldn't be living in the latter, as Saddam would've have made his blathering and irritating self go away. Poof.
How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush has warned that he will send in the marines. But Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have his address if they're interested. It is Number 10, Downing Street, London.100,000 dead is a number Pinter likes to throw around. No doubt based on a recent survey done in Iraq. The problem being, of course, that the survey is badly flawed, perhaps fatally so. But accuracy is irrelevant. Realistic statistics are of no moment. As long as we can claim that Bush and Blair are war criminals.
Death in this context is irrelevant. Both Bush and Blair place death well away on the back burner. At least 100,000 Iraqis were killed by American bombs and missiles before the Iraq insurgency began. These people are of no moment. Their deaths don't exist. They are blank. They are not even recorded as being dead. 'We don't do body counts,' said the American general Tommy Franks.
Pinter now reads a poem, actually a rather good one-- since it is not written by Pinter-- and describes it as a "powerful and visceral descripition of the bombing of civilians." So it is. It is also not a bad description of what Saddam Hussein and his cronies did to Iraq. Actually, it is a very good description of what Saddam did to Iraq-- but this is irrelevant because Bush and Blair are the war criminals.
Forward. A litany of how the U.S. has lots of military installations and nuclear warheads. Which is, naturally, bad. Then Pinter throws out this little gem: " What we do know is that this infantile insanity – the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons – is at the heart of present American political philosophy." Say huh? The heart of our political philosophy? How do you make the logical leap necessary to get from "We have nuclear capacities" to "We'll blow people up with our nuclear capacities if they don't agree with us"? Once again, Pinter should probably stick to literary forms-- because his logic and argumentation capacities are sorely wanting.
But then again, maybe the literary isn't his forte, either. For while his plays may be influential and well regarded, his poetry and attempts at satire are... not. Here's Pinter's satiric "speech" for Bush to deliver to the world:
'God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it.'Ye gods, what drivel. How spiteful, trivial, and condescending. It is claptrap like this that makes all of us buffoons here in fly-over country think that the liberal elite are traiterous SOBs who think they're superior to everybody else.
But wait, there's more! Pinter follows up his lovely speech with an even lovelier poem:
Where was the dead body found?Which makes me wonder if perhaps I should remove the "literay luminary" portion from the title of this post and just go with "complete moonbat." But then, no doubt many other brave writers find much to applaud in these repetitive, boring and ridiculously unsubtle lines-- much as they did another of Pinter's fine poems, "American Football." Apparently, compulsive fascination with dead bodies, fecal matter, and profanity is all you need to be a literary genius these days.
Who found the dead body?
Was the dead body dead when found?
How was the dead body found?
Who was the dead body?
Who was the father or daughter or brother
Or uncle or sister or mother or son
Of the dead and abandoned body?
Was the body dead when abandoned?
Was the body abandoned?
By whom had it been abandoned?
Was the dead body naked or dressed for a journey?
What made you declare the dead body dead?
Did you declare the dead body dead?
How well did you know the dead body?
How did you know the dead body was dead?
Did you wash the dead body
Did you close both its eyes
Did you bury the body
Did you leave it abandoned
Did you kiss the dead body
Sigh. To quote from King Arthur, "You make me sad."
Frankly, anyone who talks about how risky and dangerous it is to be a writer and how "fierce intellectual determination" is needed to restore the dignity of man has rather substantial "grasp of reality" issues. 'Cause last I checked, writing in 21st century England was a tad less dangerous than, well, just about any other profession in the world. Oh, and I generally believe that "fierece intellectual determination" includes trying to see things from multiple perspectives rather than approaching things with firmly set preconceived ideas of who is to blame for what.
Just a thought.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Bush, the War, and the Law
That said, at least he finally, finally, made the very simple, and very effective, arguement that we should not cut and run from Iraq at this point in time because we are winning. He also, somewhat obliquely, answered all the liberals out there that seem to be totally obsessed with the "No WMDs= Bush lied" talking points. I wish he had made the argument better, and more clearly, but as noted above, he's not very good at this sort of "direct to the people" talk.
Unfortunately, the talk came one day after Bush effectively said it was okay for the government to spy on folks without getting a court order, a statement he reiterated earlier today. Um, no. If there is reason to believe that there is a need to monitor calls, the NSA should get a friggin' court order, Mr. President. I'm not a big fan of the "slippery slope" argument, and I understand that this war is different than previous wars, but this is a dangerous, dangerous precedent to set.
And then, I still have issues with this administration's defense of torture-- or refusal to renounce torture, if you prefer. The argument that "such and so" isn't actually torture, or that what is torture is isolated is soothing, but ultimately unconvincing to me. Bush should support the McCain amendment. Torture should be banned, end of story. This is not how we do business, or at least, it shouldn't be. The tipping point for me is contained in this post. Ultimately, compromising on this issue is corrosive to the principles on which this country is founded.
One of the main reasons I think that both support for the war and Bush's popularity numbers have fallen is that the justification generally comes down to, "Trust me. I have the best interests of the country in mind, so it's okay for me to do these things." The big problem being that I no longer trust Bush, and in a number of areas, I don't think it's okay for him to be doing these things, even if I did trust him. Because even if the power Bush wants for the NSA and the CIA and interrogators in the military is used wisely and effectively for now, a doubtful premise, the precedent it sets for the future is disturbing.
There need to be checks and balances on power, for the very good reason that even good people abuse power, and evil people abuse it as extensively as they can. Our Founding Fathers recognized that, and a more visionary and brilliant group may never have existed in one place at one time ever before or since. I have to say, I'm more inclined to trust them and the system of checks and balances they established 200+ years ago, then I am to trust George Bush, Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzalez.
Labels: War on Terror
Monday, December 12, 2005
ESL: Peter King edition
First, on page 5, King starts his "I think this is what I liked about week 14:" list. g) on that list is "Last eight quarters: Seattle 83, Foes 3. h) on that list is "Still don't know what it means." Presumably, since this is a list of things he likes, g) is a good thing. So, why then h)? If you don't know what it means, Pete, don't put it in the friggin' "things I like" list. If you do, don't put in that you don't know what it means. More pedantically, technically what King has written is the following: I think this is what I like about week 14: Still don't know what it means." This guy is a nationally syndicated writer!
Second, and even worse, at the end of his column King has the following dousy of a paragraph:
The schedule of the last three weeks in ABC Monday Night Football history: Tonight: New Orleans (3-9) at Atlanta (7-5); Dec. 19: Green Bay (2-11) at Baltimore (4-8); Dec. 26: New England (7-5) at New York Jets (3-10). Sheesh. Better make this game at least slightly interesting, Michael Vick. All that's left is John Madden waxing biff-bam-boomingly about Brett Favre next week and a bunch of Reggie Bush-dreaming for drunken Jets' fans the day after Christmas.Um, Pete? Green Bay is 3-10. I know it seems like the Packers lost last night, but they did, technically speaking, win. Baltimore is 4-9. I know it seems like Baltimore wasn't even there yesterday, but they did, technically speaking, play. New England is 8-5. Considering how much you raved about how great the Patriots looked this week, Pete, I would've thought you would've gotten this one right.
Doesn't anybody even edit King's column any more?
Kris Brown: Horrendous Kicker, or Evil Genius?
Straight-- well, actually very crooked-- banana hook left with the game on the line. The kick nearly reached the sidelines. It certainly went no where near the uprights. To see video of the actual kick go here. Then click on the Titans/Texans game. The kick is about 4/5ths of the way through the video.
The miss cost the Texans a chance to win in overtime and to win their second game of the year. This is the third week in a row the Texans have found new and interesting ways to lose, and their 1-12 record now virtually assures them the first pick in the draft-- although San Francisco is stubbornly refusing to win their third game.
Which is the evil genius part of the question. Could Kris Brown have hooked that kick that badly on purpose to help ensure that Reggie Bush, perhaps the most coveted college football player ever, is wearing a bull skull on his helmut next year? It seems unlikely, but seriously the kick was so bad as to make you wonder-- guys that make a living kicking the football just don't miss that badly.
Unless they want to. Or were instructed to.
All of which is pure paranoid speculation, and since the Packers actually went out and beat somebody last night, mostly irrelevant to me. Green Bay will not be getting Reggie Bush this April. But, if I were in San Francisco, I think I'd have a huge Kris Brown effigy burning party after yesterday.
Friday, December 09, 2005
So, here's my list. Please, take a few minutes in the comments section to give me feedback. Rate them 1-10 (10 being good) if you like, or just tell me which ones you would vote for and which you wouldn't. There's some good people here-- our job is to pick the best one. Well, actually, two-- since we'll need a VP candidate, too. In no particular order:
UPDATE: Three new possibilities:
11) Bob Costas. 53. Pros: Hig name recognition and appeals to both men and women. For that matter, he appeals to both liberals and conservatives. He's an appealing guy. Intelligent, well-read, thoughtful, and has a photographic memory, which seems like a good thing for a president to have. He also seems to have integrity. What a thought! Cons: Not sure what his political views are, and anyone that fills in for Larry King could well be considered a lightweight.
12) Zell Miller. 73. Pros: Either a moderate Democrat or a moderate Republican depending on your point of view-- either way, a centrist who can see value in both parties. Large quatities of political experience as a Mayor, Governor and a Senator. A marine and supporter of the War on Terror. Very fiscally conservative Cons: Prety old, could be seen as a flip-flopper, hard-core right-wing on a number of social issues, including wanting to ban any and all legal recognitions of homosexual partnerships, and a dixiecrat back in the 50s and 60s.
13) Denzel Washington. 50. Pros: High name recognition and well-regarded for his philanthropic work with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America as well as various other charities. Very telegenic and well-spoken, and a strong supporter of our military. Cons: Not much to be found on his actual political views.
1) Robert Duvall. 73. Pros: High name recognition, well-respected in Hollywood and elsewhere. Republican leanings tempered by social responsibility and a distaste for hypocrisy. Cons: A bit old. Doesn't seem overly interested in politics or the national debate.
2) Alice Cooper. 57. Pros: High name recognition, appeals to a broad range of people thanks to his rock career, Wayne's World cameo, and current gig as a radio DJ. Strong supporter of W., which may or may not be a pro, but his approach to the War on Terror is dead-on balls accurate (It's an industry term). Cons: He's Alice Freakin' Cooper.
3) Jon Stewart. 43. Pros: Smart, intelligent, funny, good name recognition and he has connections with a number of media and political people and institutions. Very telegenic. Cons: Attitude toward the War on Terror is worrisome, as is the fact that he does not see a problem with media bias. Not sure he brings enough gravitas to the position.
4) Clint Eastwood. 75. Pros: Previous executive office experience (Mayor), huge name recognition, libertarian views on social issues, more conservative views on fiscal issues. Brings tons of gravitas with him-- do you want Clint squinting at you if you're a Senator or Representative? Cons: Even older than Duvall.
5) James Woods. 48. Pros: He's James Freakin' Woods! Seriously, very smart (IQ of 180), majored in Political Science, gave the best MNF opening EVER, and supports the War. He also loves poker, and has high name recognition. Cons: He James Freakin' Woods! Not sure he has the right temprament to actually be President of the United States. And he has almost as much past baggage as Alice Cooper.
6) Ron Silver. 59. Pros: A lifelong Democrat, Silver has been a staunch supporter of Bush's stance on the War on Terror and appeared at the 2004 RNC. Probably the perfect age to be President, and quite telegenic. Has actually taught high school and done social work. Pragmatist who is willing to realistically access situations. Cons: Name recognition is poor to so-so. Might have trouble with the party flip-flop thing.
7) Heather Locklear. 44. Pros: Very high name recognition, obviously extremely telegenic, and smart as a whip. From all reports, a very focused, professional woman, and she favors a flat-tax system. A registered Republican, I had trouble finding out exactly what her stance is on issues outside of the flat tax (which I like). Plus, she's a woman (in case you hadn't noticed). Cons: She might be considered a bit of a light weight, and her position on issues isn't easy to find (I certainly couldn't).
8) Joe Montana. 49. Pros: High name recognition, known as a class act. Extremely telegenic. Unfortunately, I know nothing about his politics and couldn't actually find anything. I'm pretty sure he's a Democrat.
9) Oprah Winfrey. 51. Pros: Quite possibly the highest name recognition possible. Is there anybody who hasn't heard of Oprah? Millions of fans premade to lend their support to her presdiential campaign-- likely whether she wants to campaign or not. In general, her politics seem to lean left, but aren't knee-jerk Democrat, which is good. If she were elected, who would argue with her? Would you want to be the Senator or Representative that said "no" to Oprah? Can you imagine the public outrage directed at that politician? It would so totally rock if the first woman AND the first minority of the people ever elected was elected by the people, and for the people, rather than coming from one of the two political parties. Cons: If she really didn't want to run for president, she could probably have us all killed.
10) Dennis Miller. 52. Pros: Smart, already a political junkie, and enjoys good name recognition on both sides of the political aisle. He's well-versed in history, which I suspect most, if not all, of our recent Presidents have not been, and I thinks that's a big plus. His views are also pretty libertarian, which is also very much to the good. Cons: Might be too cerebral to be a good prez. The whole used to be a democrat, now a republican thing could be damaging. Would anyone take him seriously?
All right. There's thirteen. Please, let's get some serious feedback. Did I miss anyone somebody really likes? Are there more women that should be on this list? It seems there should be, but I came up mostly blank.
I'll stick in my two cents on who I like a bit later. Right now, I want you guys to kick in some thoughts, feeling and analysis.
The Buck Stops... Err... Anywhere But Here.
Now, there's some truth there. FEMA has some major, major issues. Federal response to Katrina was slower than it could've been, and probably slower than it should have been considering the amount of notice everyone had that this big old hundred mile wide storm was heading that way. But didn't Nagin have the same amount of "heads up, something bad is heading your way" notice?
So, it is with a great deal of skepticism, and no small amount of irony, that I read about Ray Nagin-- possibly the most inept, ineffectual mayor of a major U.S. city ever-- complaining that Washington isn't doing enough. Actually, he compares congress to constipation, and himself and other city officials from across the nation to Ex-Lax.
Which is unquestionably one of the strangest metaphors ever used by a public official. Of course, given the big pile of s**t that Nagin is hip deep in after his bungling of the Katrina disaster and the horrendous performance of the police chief he appointed, perhaps it is a terribly apt one.
Go Bucks, Go!
Here's the unfortunate bit-- they play in the best division in basketball, hands down, no question about it. At 10-7 the Bucks have the fourth best record in the Eastern Conference. They also have the fourth best record in their division. Their are currently only six teams in the East with winning records. The five teams in the Central Division all have winning records. Indeed, the five teams in the Central Division have the best five records in the entire Eastern Conference. The only non-Central Division team with a winning record in the East is Miami, who is 10-9 and percentage points behind the 5th place Chicago Bulls, who are 9-8.
The worst team in the Central would be leading either of the other two Eastern Conference Divisions. The Bucks, fourth in their division, would be leading either of the other Eastern Conference Divisions by a full game or more. Aye Carumba! I vote we move Milwaukee to the Eastern time zone-- no team in the Atlantic Division even has a winning record!
But so it goes. Yes, it's a drag that the Bucks play in the same division as the Pistons, Pacers and Cavaliers, but what is most definitely NOT a drag is that they are playing with poise, determination, and energy-- all things that were noticeably lacking in recent years.
Is it too early to start the Terry Stotts for Coach of the Year drive?
Thursday, December 08, 2005
After the long absence of my posts to the governance list-serv, I bring word of another protest--and not one that I organized.Well, good to know it's a non-partisan way of raising awareness against the totalitarian tactics of the current White House. That's a relief. Wouldn't want this to be seen as partisan, after all. And I'm sure the fact that you can sign the petition at moveon.org is non-partisan as well. It's a .org, after all, so it couldn't be partisan or biased in anyway. And they support the troops! Can't believe that got left out. Of course they do-- not the troops fault that they answer to a totalitarian regime, after all, nor that they weren't smart enough to get into college, like Nicholas Ravnikar. Poor saps.
On Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 2 p.m., there will be a non-partisan anti-war gathering at the Lincoln Statue in the southeast corner of Library Park, Kenosha. The Statue is located at the corner of 7th avenue and 59th Street.
A non-traditional student named Greg McAndrews, along with the Racine Coalition for Peace and MoveOn.org, has organized the presentation of a petition, signed by over 3,000 Wisconsin residents, to bring the troops home from Iraq.
The gathering will begin at the statue and walk two and a half blocks nort the Rep. Paul Ryan's constituent office (5712 7th Ave.) and present him (or his office aides, rather) with the petition. Refreshments will be provided at a place to be announced after the presentation.
Yes, it will be cold and windy. Yes, it is late in the semester, and finals are beginning soon. But please, make it to this if you can, and let your students know about it. We have the opportunity to join in solidarity against the deceit and death that have accompanied this war since the
beginning, and perhaps we can build enough awareness to fight the totalitarian tactics of the current White House administration/regime.
Greg McAndrews can be reached at 262.694.3849 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like to volunteer or speak at the event. You can still sign the petition at www.moveon.org.
I'm sure the fact that the irony of them meeting at the Lincoln statue probably escapes them. You know, the Abraham Lincoln who presided over the bloodiest war to ever take place on U.S. soil because he believed it was right and necessary to sacrifice brave men and women to liberate many thousands of other men and women who were suffering greatly with no recourse to the rule of law and whom were subject to the whims of despotic and greedy owners. Good thing we're in Iraq for oil-- otherwise the liberating of all those Iraqis from the tender mercies of Saddam would be kinda awkward.
I also don't get why it was important to mention that the petition was started by a "non-traditional student." What does that even mean? Is he gay? Is he a returning student, and thus much older than most of Parkside's students? Is he a kangaroo? That'd be pretty non-traditional. Regardless, what was the reasoning behind emphasizing his non-traditional status? Does that offer some additional validation to the petition and protest?
Does it shock anyone that the person posting the request to join the anti-war protest is the Executive Editor of the school newspaper? Didn't think so.
Finally, what exactly are the intending to build an awareness of? The war? Anybody out there not aware that we have troops in Iraq? Seems unlikely. That there are people that oppose our being there? Pretty sure most folks know that already, too. That there's a totalitarian regime running things in D.C.? Yeah, that's probably it.
Silly me, I thought he was our duly elected President and worthy of respect, if not admiration, even if we disagree with him.
But then, I'm probably too traditional to get it.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Fantasy Football Update, Week Thirteen
v. 11 #12
The Dingo's Kidneys Division
1. Stumbling Alcoholics, 9-4, 626.1
2. Metal Mayhem, 9-4, 608.3
3. Motor City Cheeseheads, 7-6, 641.5
4. Renaissance Men, 7-6, 573.4
5. Hairballs, 6-7, 624.6
6. Diamond Boys, 6-7, 573.3
7. Knights Who Say Ni, 4-9, 564.3
The Didjeridoo Division
1. Fearsome Canines, 10-3, 771.1
2. Chocolate Foam, 8-5, 569.2
3. Posts, 7-6, 631.6
4. Centurions, 6-7, 640.6
5. Snowmobilers, 5-8, 611.0
6. Dimestick Cowboys, 5-8, 581.7
7. Bartenders, 2-11, 457.4
The playoffs are today…
1. Fearsome Canines, 10-3, 771.1
2. Stumbling Alcoholics, 9-4, 626.1
3. Metal Mayhem, 9-4, 608.3
4. Chocolate Foam, 8-5, 569.2
5. Motor City Cheeseheads, 7-6, 641.5
6. Centurions, 640.6
On the outside looking in:
7. Posts, 7-6, 631.6
7. Posts, 631.6
The Barrel Bowl is today…
11. Snowmobilers, 5-8, 611.0
12. Dimestick Cowboys, 5-8, 581.7
13. Knights Who Say Ni, 4-9, 564.3
14. Bartenders, 2-11, 457.4
The Terribly Average Bowl is today...
7. Posts, 7-6, 631.6
8. Renaissance Men, 7-6, 573.4
9. Hairballs, 6-7, 624.6
10. Diamond Boys, 6-7, 573.3
Stat of the Week I: Coach Scottie's #1 seeded Fearsome Canines scored nearly 10 points a game more than the second highest scoring team in the league-- he needed four more yards.
Stat of the Week II: Coach Scottie's #1 seeded Fearsome Canines scored more than 200 HUNDRED points more than the second place team in his division, the Chocolate Foam, or roughly 15.5 points a game.
Stat of the Week III: Coach McMasterFlyIsInMySoupYO's Chocolate Foam had the third worst point total in the league and the fourth best record. You know what they say about defense....
PICKUP ALERT: There is one last weekly pickup. Pickups are in inverse order of record with points as the tie-breaker for teams with the same record. You can enter your choices on the web site, or email/call them into me. Please do so before Wednesday, 9:00 PM Central Time. This is the last pickup period, folks.
TRADES: No new trades before the deadline. Trading is now anthema. Violators will be mercilessly mocked and rapidly ridiculed.
These guys are good. They are averaging nearly 60 points a game, 59.3, which is a league record. I predicted a 7-6 finish and a likely playoff run. Hmm... call that prediction fair to below average. Enjoy your week off, Scotty, your guys earned it. The bingo bonus for the Canines is that their stars, mostly Bengals and Chargers, will almost certainly not be getting week 15 or 16 off.
Stumbling Alcoholics, 9-4, 626.1
Despite having only the fourth best point total, and the second best in their division, the Alcoholics secured the #2 seed, and that first round bye is huge. Predicted finish: 7-6. Okay, I was off, again. I also said Reggie Brown and Antonion Bryant would be good. Now you know why I'm not in the playoffs. I'm actually still not entirely certain how this team won their division.
Metal Mayhem, 9-4, 608.3
Survived the deaths, or at least comatose states, of Duante Culpepper, Kevin Jones, Kevan Barlow and Darrell Jackson to still make the playoffs. Of course, getting Steven Jackson for Anquan Boldin didn't hurt and Priest Holmes breaking was also a rather significant bonus, but regardless, a nice coaching job. Projected finish: 6-7. Geez, I suck.
Chocolate Foam, 8-5, 569.2
Still not sure how this group of yahoos ever managed to win eight games. Actually, they've played better of late, and if Big Ben keeps putting up numbers anywhere near his 19.5 last week, the Foam could be a very dangerous playoff team. Projected finish: 8-5! Woot! Hah! Hah, I say! Man, I'm good.
Motor City Cheeseheads, 7-6, 641.5
Finished strong to make the playoffs. A well-balanced squad, the biggest danger for the Cheeseheads is that Indianapolis will have a #1 seed wrapped up after this week and Manning and Harrison will be riding the pine for much, or all, of weeks 15 and 16. Predicted finish: 6-7. You see, here's where all my safe, middle of the pack picks come through for me, baybee! Okay, I was off by one, but still.
Posts, 7-6, 631.6
One week sooner, John. If you had paid me just one week sooner... ah well. Everyone in the playoffs breathe a sigh of relief as the hottest team in the league, the Posts-- who are winners of seven straight games-- just missed the playoffs. Now the question is whether the Posts can run the streak to nine and claim the title of the Best of the Mediocre! Predicted finish: 8-5. Well, if he had paid me sooner, I would've been right. Let that be a lesson to all of us.
Renaissance Men, 7-6, 573.4
Ahman Green, we barely knew ye. Or at least, I suspect that's what Coach Russ was thinking when his early second round draft pick went down. Despite the loss of Green, the rusty dudes did just enough to win more than they lost, which got them all the way to the Terribly Average Bowl. C'est la vie. Predicted finish: 8-5. Only missed by 1! Hey, I have to take solace somewhere, right?
Centurions, 6-7, 640.6
Riding high into the playoffs on the wings of a four game losing streak. Nice. They also face the discouraging prospect of losing the Edge in the coming weeks if Indy wraps things up in short order. Predicted finish: 6-7. Man, do I rock, or what?!
Hairballs, 6-7, 624.6
Yikes. This team has the intestinal fortitude of a skinny ten-year old that just ate a whole bag of White Castle sliders. What a collapse. Sigh. I hate Jamal Lewis, I do, but mostly I hate Brian "I'm a frick'n offensive genius" Billick for not benching Lewis' sorry ass for Chester Taylor, a move that might have gotten me into the playoffs. You're offensive Brian, I'll give you that much. Predicted finish: 6-7. Hah! See, I know when I'm mediocre.
Diamond Boys, 6-7, 573.3
If Frank can guess which running backs to start, he has a shot at taking home the Terribly Average Bowl chalice... okay, it's not really a chalice. Actually, it's not really anything except a title. But chalice sounded nice, don't you think? Predicted finish: 7-6. Not bad.
Snowmobilers, 5-8, 611.0
Slid into the Barrel Bowl on the "strength" of a season-ending two game losing streak. Still, with Samkon on board, and Boldin catching everything Warner heaves up, the 'Bilers have a good shot at not winning the Barrel Bowl. Projected finish: 6-7. Didn't see him as a Barrel Bowl team, though. My bad.
Dimestick Cowboys, 5-8, 581.7
Finished strong-- three straight wins-- to remain firmly ensconced in the Barrel Bowl. That's what those seven games losing streaks will do to you. The Cowboys have been productive of late, so the Kanniggits That Say Ni will have their hands full in the first round of the Barrel Bowl. Predicted Finish: 4-9. Ah, man-- you had to win your last three just to spite me, didn't you C.?
Knights Who Say Ni, 4-9, 564.3
The Deuce got whacked, and Arrington was a bust. Vick is inconsistent, Colbert was a no show and T.O. is an ass. There, my friends, is a recipe for a bad season. Only the Bartenders may stand between the Ni sayers and the Barrel Bowl "Trophy". Predicted finish: 7-6. Hmm... well, in my defense, I did say they could finish with anything from 4-9 to 10.3. So, I was right about that part.
Barkeeps, 2-11, 457.4
Not actually sure how Tony managed to win twice with this group. The odds on favorite to "win" the Barrel Bowl. Predicted finish: 5-8. I was either being nice to Tony or riding a five-day crack high when I made that prediction.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Bush and the Pack
I'm paying attention now, because my beloved Packers are currently 3rd in the Reggie Bush sweepstakes, behind the Houston Texans and the NY J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets. The Packers are dreadful, but I'm afraid they may not be dreadful enough to get Bush, who will almost certainly be the #1 pick, ever so slightly (perhaps as little as one pick) ahead of his teammate, Matt Leinart.
Brett Favre does seem to be doing his damndest to get Bush, tossing two god-awful interceptions that likely cost the Packers an upset of da Bears-- oh and fumbling twice, too, though neither of those were really his fault-- but the Texans keep finding new and exciting ways to lose, while the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets are just pathetic. Last week, the Texans blew a 10 point lead with less than a minute remaining and lost in overtime, while this week, the Texans blew a two-point lead to the Ravens, allowing one of the worst offenses in the league drive from their own 13 yard line into field goal range in less than a minute without any timeouts. Yikes! Hard to compete with a team that thoroughly committed to sucking out loud. The Jets, meanwhile, have scored more than 20 once all year. They've scored 3 or less four times and have been held with less than 200 yards of total offense four times.
It's hard to see either of those teams winning in the final four weeks, and there is always the chance that the Packers might win another game... or even two! We do have games with Detroit and Baltimore remaining, after all. Which will suck. We'll be dreadful, but we'll be just good enough to not get Reggie Bush.
At least we'll be dreadful enough to get rid of Mike Sherman.
Sad Days for MPM
We've taken our kids their twice, and the impact on them has been similar-- there is simply so much cool stuff to see there. Which is why the current financial mess... no, mess is not a strong enough word... the current financial cesspit that MPM finds itself in is quite depressing to me. I've been to the MPM far more times than I've been to the Milwaukee Art Museum, despite the latters beautiful new Calatrava addition for the simple reason that while I find art to be interesting and diverting, I find history, science, and culture to be fascinating and completely engrossing.
If anyone ever wonders why independent oversight of public agencies is a vital and significant safeguard, let what is happening at MPM be Exhibit A. Accounting tricks, nepotism, and perhaps even fraud, occurred for years at the MPM, and nobody realized it until the entire financial stability of the Museum was ready to crumble. The situation is so bad, the Museum is considering selling some of its holdings and collections, a nearly unheard of prospect for a public museum of any sort.
Aye carumba. I hope that the Milwaukee D.A. prosecutes the chief figures in this sad debacle to the fullest extent possible... but then knowing E. Michael McCann, most likely there will be a slap on the wrist at most. Sigh. Hopefully the MPM will come out this fiasco as strong, or stronger, so that many future generations of kids can experience the same wonder and joy I did on those fieldtrips.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Ted Rall: Complete Nutjob
Having said all that, I have to admit that this particular cartoon is actually pretty funny. Sadly, it's the only one of the ten I looked at the had even a modicum of humor in it.
Fantasy Football Update, Week Twelve
v. 11 #11
The "Inconceivable!" Division
1. Stumbling Alcoholics, 8-4, 576.1
2. Metal Mayhem, 8-4, 563.0
3. Renaissance Men, 7-5, 536.7
4. Motor City Cheeseheads, 6-6, 592.7
5. Hairballs, 6-6, 588.3
6. Diamond Boys, 6-6, 539.6
7. Knights Who Say Ni, 4-8, 537.6
The "Flowers are still standing!" Division
1. Fearsome Canines, 9-3, 711.2
2. Chocolate Foam, 7-5, 514.7
3. Centurions, 6-6, 595.4
4. Posts, 6-6, 590.5
5. Snowmobilers, 5-7, 560.4
6. Dimestick Cowboys, 4-8, 521.0
7. Bartenders, 2-8, 425.9
If the playoffs were today…
1. Fearsome Canines, 9-3, 711.2
2. Stumbling Alcoholics, 8-4, 576.1
3. Metal Mayhem, 8-4, 563.0
4. Renaissance Men, 7-5, 536.7
5. Chocolate Foam, 7-5, 514.7
6. Centurions, 595.4
On the outside looking in:
7. Motor City Cheeseheads, 6-6, 592.7
7. Motor City Cheeseheads, 592.7
If the Barrel Bowl were today…
11. Snowmobilers, 5-7, 560.4
12. Knights Who Say Ni, 4-8, 537.6
13. Dimestick Cowboys, 4-8, 521.0
14. Bartenders, 2-10, 425.9
On the edge of ignominity...
10. Diamond Boys, 6-6, 539.6
If the Terribly Average Bowl were today...
7. Motor City Cheeseheads, 6-6, 592.7
8. Posts, 6-6, 590.5
9. Hairballs, 6-6, 588.3
10. Diamond Boys, 6-6, 539.6
Stat of the Week I: If the Playoffs started this week, all four of the teams in the Terribly Average Bowl would be 6-6. Nice.
Stat of the Week II: Coach Jim of the Chocolate Foam has the second lowest point total in the league, averaging a meager 42.9 points a game. He's currently 7-5 and if he wins this week, he makes the playoffs. The football gods are clearly quirky folks with extremely twisted senses of humor.
PICKUP ALERT: There are still weekly pickups. Pickups are in inverse order of record with points as the tie-breaker for teams with the same record. You can enter your choices on the web site, or email/call them into me. Please do so before Wednesday, 9:00 PM Central Time. Pickups will continue until the Wed. after the regular season ends. Two more pickup periods, folks.
TRADES: No new trades before the deadline. Trading is now anthema. Violators will be mercilessly mocked and rapidly ridiculed.
With their 62.4 to 58.3 victory over the Centurions, the Fearsome Canines officially locked up the "Flowers are still standing!" Division and a first round bye. Well done, Scottie. Take a couple of weeks off. Extra bonus for the Fearsome Canines-- their stars are Chargers and Bengals, two teams that will likely be battling for their playoff lives until the bitter end of the regular season, so the Canines are unlikely to lose any critical players in weeks 15 and 16. Forecast: #1 seed, first round bye.
Stumbling Alcoholics, 8-4, 576.1
With their narrow win, 53.6 to 51.4, over the Snowmobilers, the Alcoholics moved back into the lead of the "Inconceivable!" Division. They also secured a playoff berth. Their week 13 matchup with the Hairballs is still important to the drunken ones, as they need a win, or a loss by the Metal Mayhem, to secure the #2 seed and first round bye. Forecast: In the playoffs and will be either the #2 or #3 seed.
Metal Mayhem, 8-4, 563.0
The Chocolate Foam played four players that would've been better warming the bench, and the Mayhem still couldn't beat them, dropping a disappointing 44.5 to 39.6 game. The loss dropped them out of the lead for their division, and left them 13.1 points behind the Stumbling Alcoholics. Despite the loss, the Mayhem did secure a playoff berth, and now must defeat the Renaissance Men and hope the Hairballs can defeat the Alcoholics tin order to get the first round bye and #2 seed. Forecast: In the playoffs and will be either the #2 or #3 seed.
Renaissance Men, 7-5, 536.7
They have the fourth lowest point total in the league, but the other 7-5 team is worse than they are. Yikes. Anyway, the Renaissance Men likely need a victory over the Metal Mayhem in week 13 to retain their spot in the playoffs. With five 6-6 teams, all with more points, a 7-6 record seems unlikely to get the old rusty dudes into the playoffs. A win should secure them the #4 seed. Forecast: #4 seed with a victory. Most likely out of the playoffs with a loss.
Chocolate Foam, 7-5, 514.7
The Chicago Bears of our fantasy football league did it again last week, winning with the fourth lowest point total for the week, 44.5 to 39.6. If the Foam can pull off one more victory against the Snowmobilers this weekend, they will secure either the #4 or #5 seed in the playoffs. A loss almost certainly, though not assuredly, bounces them from the playoffs. Forecast: #4 or #5 seed with a victory. Most likely out of the playoffs with a loss.
Centurions, 6-6, 595.4
Despite a tough 58.3 to 62.4 loss to the Fearsome Canines, the Centurions remained in the playoff picture by virtue of their regaining the points lead-- though the Motor City Cheeseheads, Posts and Hairballs are all within seven points of Coach Adam's squad. A win combined with a loss by either the Ren Men or Foam should secure the Centurions a playoff berth on record, unless the Posts and Hairballs also win and outscore the Centurions by 5 and 7.1 respectively. Messy, messy. A loss may still get them into the playoffs as the #6 seed provided they keep their point lead. Forecast: Can finish anywhere from #4 to #6 or completely out of the playoffs. A win is certainly helpful, but scoring bucketloads of points may be almost as important as winning.
Motor City Cheeseheads, 6-6, 592.7
A victory over the Barkeeps kept the Motor City Cheeseheads playoff dreams alive, and the 53.2 points didn't hurt. The Cheeseheads need a win over the Centurions, combined with a loss by the Ren Men or Chocolate Foam, to have a shot at the #4 or #5 seed, but if they lose and Centurions secure either the fourth or fifth seed, the Cheeseheads can still get into the playoffs as the #6 seed if they aren't outscored by the Posts or Hairballs by more than 2.3 and 4.5 respectively. Follow that? Of course, if both the Ren Men and Foam lose, and either or both of the Posts and Hairballs win, one of them may secure the #4 or #5 seed, meaning the Cheeseheads would need only to outscore the other. Um... right. Forecast: Can finish anywhere from #4 to #6 or completely out of the playoffs, but scoring bucketloads of points may be almost as important as winning.
Posts, 6-6, 590.5
Defeated the Ren Men, 49.9 to 42.6 to run their winning streak to six. With a win over the Kanniggits, they could jump into the #4 or #5 spot-- unless the Foam and/or Ren Men win and/or whoever wins the Centurions v. Cheeseheads matchup scores sufficiently less than them and/or the Hairballs win and outscore them. Ye gods, what a mess. Plus, they could also be the #6 seed, particularly if the winner of the Centurions/Cheeseheads game grabs the #4 or #5 seed. Forecast: Can finish anywhere from #4 to #6 or completely out of the playoffs, but scoring bucketloads of points may be almost as important as winning.
Hairballs, 6-6, 588.3
Losing 46.5 to 53.5 to the Diamond Boys greatly damaged their playoff hopes. Now, they are in the same boat as the Posts, Cheeseheads and Centurions, only with a few less points. Forecast: Can finish anywhere from #4 to #6 or completely out of the playoffs, but scoring bucketloads of points may be almost as important as winning.
Diamond Boys, 6-6, 539.6
Chances are slim, but if the Foam, Ren Men, Posts and Hairballs all lose (which is possible), and the Diamond Boys beat the Dimestick Cowboys, they would likely sneak in as the #5 seed. Unless the Ren Men lose, but still outscore the Diamond Boys by 3.0 or more. Forecast: Faint hope of securing the #5 seed, but more likely a Terribly Average Bowl participant.
Snowmobilers, 5-7, 560.4
No hope of making the playoffs after losing a heartbreaker to the Alcoholics last week, 51.4 to 53.6, but the Snowmobilers need to knock off the Foam in week 13 to, hopefully, escape the Barrel Bowl. Best case scenario is a victory coupled with a Diamond Boys loss. Forecast: Most likely a Barrel Bowl participant, but a victory could get them to the #10 seed.
Knights Who Say Ni, 4-8, 537.6
Barrel Bowl bound. The only question is whether they will be seeded 11th, 12th, or 13th. Actually, 11th would be a stretch, so mostly its a battle with the Dimestick Cowboys for 12th. Forecast: 12th or 13th seed in the Barrel Bowl, with a remote shot at #11.
Dimestick Cowboys, 4-8, 521.0
Barrel Bowl bound, though they did keep alive their hopes of eclipsing the four wins the Update predicted for them at the beginning of the year. Forecast: 12th or 13th seed in the Barrel Bowl, with a very remote shot at #11.
Barkeeps, 2-10, 425.9
Locked into the #14 seed. Hoping to find some answers before week 14 and the start of the Barrel Bowl. Forecast: #14 seed in the Barrel Bowl.