Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Falcons-Saints Fix Job

Beth and I watched the MNF game last night between the Falcons and the Saints. Division rivals, both 2-0 and looking to take an early division lead. Of course, the Saints had an advantage that the Falcons couldn't possibly overcome: it was their first game back in the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina. The Saints won in a blowout, 23-3. The Saints dominated from start to finish, and the Falcons looked like a bad high school team. The fans in New Orleans got their team back, got their stadium back, and the big win on the national Monday Night Football stage gave them their pride back. After the game and still today, New Orleans has been the darling of the media, and the NFL is basking in the great PR.

Fixed. Rigged. Crooked.

There is simply NO WAY that the Saints are that much better than the Falcons. The Saints moved the ball with impugnity, and the Falcons were lucky to grind out the few first downs that they got. Atlanta insisted on running the ball up the middle when it had become perfectly clear that the holes weren't there. Dunn ended up with 40-something yards, the Atlanta receivers all of a sudden got a case of the drops, and Vick was sacked 5 times. The Saints seemed to have ALL the calls go their way (I distinctly remember the refs waving off a flag for pass interference on NO... I guess the line judge didn't really see what he initially thought he saw). The Atlanta defense, which had gone the first two games without allowing a touchdown, spent the entire night in a deep zone that Brees picked apart. NO blocked a punt AND a field goal (took the punt in for a TD).

The fact that they are in the same division made it all possible. Division rivals play home-and-home, so there will be a rematch later in Atlanta. The Falcons dump this game to the Saints and the Saints can return the favor in Atlanta. That way neither team takes an advantage in the division.

It was an opportunity for positive press that the NFL could simply not turn down. The media raves about the Saints (and the league indirectly). The Saints franchise, which before the hurricane had been in serious danger of relocating, gets a HUGE boost. The league has expressed a strong desire to keep that team in New Orleans, and the owner wouldn't dare even think about moving them now. Conversely, the Saints losing that game would have greatly diminished the impact of the reopening of the Superdome, and would have deadened the press coverage of the game, the New Orleans area, and the Saints franchise.

Go ahead, call me crazy. But if I had any money, I would bet the farm on the Falcons on November 26th.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Unlimited Nonsense

Here's the response of Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top U.S. military officer in the Middle East, to the question of whether the United States is winning the war in Iraq:

"Given unlimited time and unlimited support, we're winning the war."

That response crossed a threshhold of absurdity that I am having trouble fathoming. I don't know whether to laugh, cry, or break something.

Full article here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Funny Pic Of The Day

Steve Irwin - Man's Man? (Part 2)

Steve Irwin's posthumous status as a Man's Man, which I personally thought was an open-and-shut case, has recently been called into question by several authorities on the subject. But today the best argument yet was made in favor of his canonization in the most unexpected of ways: inadvertently, and by a Frenchman.

According to Jean-Michel Cousteau in this article, Irwin's touchy-feely approach to nature was inappropriate:

"[Irwin would] interfere with nature, jump on animals, grab them, hold them, and have this very, very spectacular, dramatic way of presenting things. Of course, it goes very well on television. It sells, it appeals to a lot people, but I think it's very misleading. You don't touch nature, you just look at it. And that's why I'm still alive. I've been diving over 61 years _ a lot many more years that he's been alive _ and I don't mess with nature."

I don't think there can be a more convincing argument than the one Mr. Sissy-Boy Frenchman just accidentally made. The stark contrast between the two men's tactics when dealing with animals that could kill them with one swift motion leaves little doubt as to each man's Manliness. If cornered by a pissed off cobra, Steve Irwin would have grabbed that sonofabitch by the throat and then kept it as a pet. Cousteau would have put his hands in the air and said "I surrender!".

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The New McCarthyism

Canadian citizen wrongly arrested, deported, imprisoned, tortured as suspected Islamic "extremist".

Apparently this man's crime was being seen talking to another man who was under investigation for possible al-Qaeda links. Just like the Communist witch-hunt in the 50's, except that now instead of being forced to denounce your treasonous ideals and provide a list of your Communist comrades (whether you actually were Communist or not), they ship you to Syria where they beat you with electrical cords.

The authorities, both in the U.S. and in Canada, will spin, downplay, and point fingers. The liberals will foam with self-righteous outrage ("This would NEVER happen if we were in power!"). Meanwhile, this guy had his freedom and dignity taken from him without due process, and was surely beaten to a bloody stump for information he didn't have, all in the name of Homeland Security. Sorry about that. Our bad.

How easily could this have happened to me, you, or anyone else?? All you need is a single Middle Eastern acquaintance with active ties to the region, and you're on The List. Your phone calls are being recorded, your email is being read, your Internet activites are being monitored, and your bank accounts are being watched. And Allah help you if you are of Middle Eastern or Muslim descent...

I have a feeling this is going to get MUCH worse before it starts to get better...

UPDATE: According to this article, Maher Arar's questioners in Syria were successful in extracting information from him using "tough interrogation techniques"; under coersion, he confessed to having trained in Afghanistan, presumably as a Terrorist.

The problem? He had never even been to Afghanistan.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sounds Familiar...

The IAEA claims its findings with regard to Iran's nuclear activities were distorted in a recent Congressional report.

A "madman" Middle Eastern head of state, ultimatums, deadlines, UN sanctions, nuclear weapons inspectors, conflicting reports...

Haven't we been here before??

Bad Day

I was going to post today about Bush and his unabashed ballsiness in trying to make his administration's illegal acts legal, but f*** it, I don't have the energy to be outraged right now. I just had (and hopefully got out of) a fight with my lovely ladyfriend, so I want to post about HAPPY THINGS!!

NEW IPODS! The big iPod is the same, just with a bigger hard drive, and the Shuffle now has a smaller form-factor and a brushed metal casing with an attached clip. But the nano is where Apple really nailed it. Finally, a worthy successor to the mini! The soft plastic "look-at-it-wrong-and-it-scratches" casing is replaced with a seamless brushed metal enclosure inspired by the mini (Apple's best seller, for good reason). That's the biggest feature, and frankly it's the best decision Apple has made in a long time. The nano has always had the potential to be as big as the mini was, but it was held back by poor design. Hell, used minis have been big sellers on ebay, probably in direct competition with the last-gen nano. No more!

Nice work, Apple. It's been a long time coming, but it's good to see you were listening!

In the interest of not letting these freedom-trampling fuckers completely off the hook just because I'm having a rough day, here are the links to the stories I was going to write about:

Bush and his team pressuring Congressional Republicans to "approve greater Executive power".

"Bush's proposals would narrow the U.S. legal interpretation of the Geneva Conventions in a bid to allow tougher interrogations and shield U.S. personnel from being prosecuted for war crimes."

Senate Judiciary Committee approves bill that expands gov't ability to spy on U.S. citizens without warrants, reduces Congressional oversight.

"Specter's bill concedes the government's right to wiretap Americans without warrants, and allows the U.S. Attorney General to authorize, on his own, dragnet surveillance of Americans so long as the stated purpose of the surveillance is to monitor suspected terrorists or spies."


"Specter has moved to have his bill voted upon next week by voice vote, called a unanimous consent motion, according to the ACLU's Graves. Such a procedure would leave no record of who voted for or against the bill."

My skin is crawling.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Stingray Rage

In hindsight, we all should have seen this coming. You can always count on a handful of dumbshit caveman-types to "cope" with tragedy in the most retarded way possible.

Stingrays killed in "revenge" for the death of Steve Irwin.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Better Off

Presenting the new Iraq, same as the old Iraq.

The only thing I can think to say about this story: At least they aren't torturing the prisoners anymore...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Useless Stat of the Century

From the (1)Ohio State vs. (2)Texas section of ESPN.com's Top 25 Overview for this weekend:

The past three regular-season 1 vs. 2 games have been won by the No. 2 team. But the Buckeyes are 2-0 all-time in 1 vs. 2 games.

OMG, what an incredible conflation of incongruent, meaningless, and wholly irrelevant statistical trends! Something's got to give!

Spin This!

According to a 2005 CIA report released today by the Senate Intelligence Committee, there is no evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda prior to the start of U.S. military action there in 2003. The report states that Hussein's Iraqi government "did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye" with regard to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his al-Qaeda associates.

WH spokesman Tony Snow called it "nothing new" and spun it thus:

"In 2002 and 2003, members of both parties got a good look at the intelligence we had and they came to the very same conclusions about what was going on..."

Meanwhile, Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) put it this way:

"[The Bush administration] exploited the deep sense of insecurity among Americans in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, leading a large majority of Americans to believe _ contrary to the intelligence assessments at the time _ that Iraq had a role in the 9/11 attacks."

Predictably, we have one side claiming that everyone, not just them, bought into faulty intelligence, while the other side claims innocence and points the finger. The way I see it, both sides have something to answer for. The Democrats, out of fear of looking like unpatriotic appeasers, let themselves be swept away in the current of Rove/Cheney/Rumsfeld's efforts to parlay the momentum of the successful operation in Afghanistan into the execution of a far more questionable mission in Iraq. But in the end, it's those in power (the Republicans) who should be held to final account for the screwups of the last four years. The buck always gets passed up, not down, and the guy at the top wears red.

This brings up an interesting question to ponder: Who is more wrong, the offender or his enablers?

Just a small dose of reality to counteract the upcoming pre-election 9-11 propagandathon.

Office A**holes

I'd love to see someone conduct a study on the psychology of the type of person who fills his coffee mug, then puts the pot back on the heater bone-effing-dry and walks away.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fantasy Football

I'm in a fantasy football league with some of my college buddies, and it turns out that we have a FF n00b. My good friend Todd Bridges emails the group today with this message:

to be honest, i have no idea how this fantasy football thing works. i've signed up and stuff, after that it seems kind of boring, what is the big deal? sell me on why this is exciting.

Another good friend, Tom Carpenter, obliges him by explaining that it gives you a reason to watch and enjoy games that you would otherwise not care about, the lineup strategy, trades, trash-talk, etc.. Todd's classic reply:

yeah, but i don't like any of the players on my team. i enjoy the mind-numbing relaxation that is a futile meaningless NFL match-up. will any of us actually do trades? i'm really going to try to get into this, but it might take a few weeks. i thought fantasy football was a writing contest. i thought we would all write first-person narratives about how we all used to dream about being football players when we grew up. oh well.

Todd has always had a penchant for priceless off-the-cuff comments. It's really hard to make me laugh out loud through a text-based medium, but that one did it for me.

Plus he's in a kickass band called Actress.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Steve Irwin - A TRUE Man's Man

As everyone knows by now, Steve Irwin - The Crocodile Hunter - was killed by a stingray on Monday. Well, get ready to watch his final, dying moments on TV. Apparently, he wanted any accident that might befall him during his adventures to be captured on film for the world to see! According to this article, Irwin once said:

"My number one rule is to keep that camera rolling. Even if it's shaky or slightly out of focus, I don't give a rip. Even if a big old alligator is chewing me up I want to go down and go, 'Crikey!' just before I die. That would be the ultimate for me."

I'd like for everyone to raise their mug and salute the newest inductee to the Man's Man Hall of Fame. He was already a member anyway (the guy clowned around while holding a cobra by its tail, for f***'s sake), but that quote erases any remaining doubt.

p.s. If this does happen, we're a sizeable step closer to televised executions. I'm just saying...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Goodbye, Andre.

Watched Andre Agassi's final match at the U.S. Open on Sunday. He lost to a big-serving qualifier named Benjamin Becker (no relation). He was in visible pain throughout the match, but he fought to the last moment. When it was over, the crowd gave him a five minute standing ovation that would have brought even the most hardened, unfeeling cynic to the edge of tears. And if somehow it hadn't, his speech to the crowd surely would have.

"The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn't say is what it is I have found. And over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I've found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed, sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I've found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could have never reached without you.

"Over the last 21 years, I have found you and I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life. Thank you."

I tried not to let Beth see it, but that moment really got me. He's the guy I emulated as a kid. I wore the same clothes and tried to look like him when I played. I thought I had seen the ultimate in adoration from a crowd when Jimmy Connors made his famous run to the semis in 1991, but Agassi's three matches in this tournament were a farewell tour of legendary proportions. Tennis, and the U.S. Open in particular, won't be the same without him.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Diamond In The Rough

Using Blogger's "Next Blog" link, I stumbled upon a photoblog called Life In Still Mode by a guy named Levin. 99% of blogs out there are collections of self-indulgent drivel (this one certainly included), but the law of averages reassures us that every once in a while we'll come across true talent. Earlier today I put a link to his blog in my links section, but as I browsed more of his work I realized that wasn't quite enough. Here's one of his photos that I especially enjoyed.

Who's the fascist here, Rumsfeld?

A quote from Keith Olbermann's August 30th post on his blog, Bloggermann, concerning the current administration's disturbing propensity for demonizing dissent (this is Olbermann quoting Edward R. Murrow):

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” he said, in 1954. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.”

Keith Olbermann is one of my favorite journalists, going back to his ESPN days. I recommend reading Olbermann's post in its entirety. Scathing stuff, but it's all true.

Red Sox officially surrender

The writing was on the wall, but yesterday the 2006 Boston Red Sox made a formal surrender of their once-promising season. They traded David Wells to San Diego and started Julian Tavarez in his place, with Kyle Snyder and Lenny DiNardo set to start Friday and Saturday against Ted Lilly and A.J. Burnett. Nice.

8-21 since August 2nd. A 1-game lead in the AL East at the end of July has become a 8-game deficit. David Ortiz was hospitalized with heart issues, Jason Varitek spent August on the DL, Manny Ramirez has a bad knee, and Jon Lester might have cancer. Coco Crisp has been a big letdown as a replacement for Johnny Damon, and Josh Beckett is a coinflip every time he takes the mound. Keith Foulke started the year well, but messed up his elbow in June and has pitched horribly since coming back in late August. Mike Timlin is 40 and just about done. Tim Wakefield has been hurt since mid-July. Matt Clement (remember him?) hasn't been heard from all season. Trot Nixon has been injured all of August and still can't hit lefties. Our shortstops (Alex Cora and Alex Gonzalez) can't hit anyone.

Now the good:

Jonathan Papelbon. There are no more superlatives. 35 saves and counting, 0.94 ERA as a rookie. ROY.

David Ortiz. 47 HR, 121 RBI, .287/.400/1.033, and he's not done. MVP.

Curt Schilling. Steady and reliable, although he's developed a nasty habit of giving up home runs (and passed it on to Beckett as well). Next year is his farewell tour, if previous comments are to be believed.

Kevin Youkilis. Good bat, great glove. First base is covered for a while.

Wily Mo Pena. David Ortiz's heir apparent. He's a circus act in right field, but with an offseason to get used to Fenway he should be just fine.

Infield defense, the best in baseball. Hope the trend continues.

* * * * *

Nice run, guys. The wheels really fell off there at the end, but perhaps we were overachieving in the first half. We have the foundation of something good. Let's hope the FO's "master plan" works out.