Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Next week I draft my line-up for the fantasy league I'll be participating in. I won't bore you with the outcome unless you beg me to, however, I do think we need to get a little FauxPolitik prediction going, to coincide with every other website doing same.
I suggest we do the following areas: Division Winners, Wildcards, Super Bowl Participants, Super Bowl winner. Then for added glory: (1) first coach to get fired; (2)week for T.O. to be suspended in reg. season; (3) first QB to get benched; and (4) team with biggest improvement in record from 2004 to 2005. If either of you have more creative ideas to add or replace with, please let me know. All picks by next Tuesday.
In the end, it appeared that Roddick had thought this match would be a near-walkover. Consequently, he didn't look too familiar with Muller's game, and looked very uncomfortable against a lefty. It was a good match and a great upset.
On the ladies' side, I saw the end of Davenport's win over Li Na. True, Lindsay won in straight sets, but she was really slow to close the door, dropping several match points on the way. She won't get past Dementieva or Patty Schnyder playing that way, and that's just the competition in her bracket.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Jefferson is the area just to the west of New Oreleans, and includes Metairie, Kenner, and much of the West Bank area. Now we're starting to get some idea of the scope of the problem.
Nadal seems (repeat, seems) to have started his ascent from the huge European and South American pool of clay courters, and given the paucity of legit contenders, should (repeat, should) challenge Federer. While Agassi is indeed 87 years old, let's not forget Connors ousting Krickstein when he (Jimbo) was 39 years old, and the yet-to-be-creaky Kricker was still bouncing about on good knees. Will Andre win it? Probably not. But he hasn't missed the US Open in 19 years - which given everything is pretty astounding.
Roddick, as usual, will be fine until he faces The Maestro, and then he will succumb either in straight sets, or to some phantom injury (noteworthy: Roddick won the "Open Series" which entitles him to double-up on the $1.1MM prize money that goes to the winner of the Open - so, take that for what it is worth). Unfortunately Marat Safin is out with an injury (hardly surprising, but disappointing to be sure), as it would have been good to see the only guy to beat Federer on a hard surface in a major take him on.
Great article on James Blake in the NYT Magazine this past Sunday. Funny, I wondered what happened to him, and it's to my discredit that I didn't know the guy had broken his neck ... and that's just for starters. But, he's to play in the US Open, and did pretty well in the aforementioned Open Series. I thought the guy was a bit of a marketing ploy (African American, Harvard-educated, played in Harlem growing up), but the more I read, the more I like him. I'm pulling for him, even though his chances are not good, but the fact that he's playing at all is pretty amazing.
Like Eno said, who knows with Hewitt -- he's just too combustible, and more in the self-immolating way, to be dependable. Guys like Hrbaty and Acic (try pronouncing either one correctly) are also good hard-courters who had some success in the Series - every tournament has a couple surprises; these guys might be sleepers.
For the women, well, last year's champ is out -- a first for the record books. It's not surprising as she's had a horrible year, and was a five seed coming in - pretty hard to do as the returning winner. By all accounts, Venus is looking good, and Serena...well....heavy. Funny how the two of them can't occupy elite status at the same time for very long. Doesn't make any sense, unless you get all psychological on me and say that they don't like to compete against one another.
Justine will do very well, I imagine - her game is a bit soft on power, but she's got it in spades in the toughness and mental departments. Clijsters won the Series for the women, and has the above-reference financial windfall to capitalize on, and let's face it, when healthy, the girl's got game (snap, snap).
The big story (pun intended) of course is Maria. Everyone wants her to win. Everyone wants a player with Anna's looks, Martina's game (don't forget, Martina used to be considered a power player, back when most women looked like Tracy Austin), and say Chris Evert's approachability. If she wins this one, fuggedaboudit. She will be all over the joint.
Davenport will, as always, play solid, occasionally inspired tennis, only to lose to someone who wants it more or due to one of her myriad nagging injuries. Hey, she usually surprises me, but I can never find it within myself to predict a win from her. Finally, no J-Cap still. She hasn't played in about 10 months, and no word on when she'll return. Perhaps we've seen the last bit of tennis from the former wunderkind who is now pushing 30.
Here's a link to the interview with Mayor Nagin that pretty much describes the awfulness. It's grim and very long, but it's the best account I've found of the damage. The good news is that the bridge he describes as being "gone, totally gone," the Twin Span between NO and Slidell, might have just been under so much water that the FEMA people in helicopters couldn't see it. It may be just badly damaged, but not washed away as feared.
Uptown, where I lived and my sister and her family lived until last fal (glad they moved out of the state) was probably the least affected with "only" a few feet of water, lots of trees knocked down, and probably no power for the next month. Most of the grand houses on St. Charles Ave. will survive, compared to the 9th ward projects and ghettos. I'm sure someone will have something to say about the unfairness of that, the poor are always hardest hit etc.. Tell it to the guy who just built a new mansion on the lake or just put down 50 large to join Southern Yacht Club (it somehow managed to sink and burn at the same time). Nobody got off easy here.
The bullet was certainly dodged, in the sense that the storm weakened slightly before hitting the city and it veered east enough to keep it from being a direct hit. Believe it or not, it could have been much worse. When the bullet is this big, though, dodging it doesn't mean a whole lot. If it lands next to you, you still get blowed up.
Let's be honest here: With no changes to the levee/drainage system, a Cat 5 storm aimed the right way is going to absolutely wipe the city off the map one day. Rebuilding will be an effort on the scale of London, post-blitz. Only a matter of time.
But not this time. For a few moments it looked like this was the one, and it was curtains for the old city. But a lucky break spared them the full brunt of the storm. Sure, there's lots of damage, and I don't mean to minimize the actual suffering, but the city ducked "the big one" once again. I call that cheating fate.
Monday, August 29, 2005
The young Spaniard Nadal is clearly the favorite to challenge Federer. He's a fireball, as opposed to Federer's studied cool, and will play well with the NYC crowd. But will he be able to hang on if Roger brings his A-game? Not likely. He made his bones this year on clay -- no small feat -- but his hard court play has been erratic, from winning the Rogers in Toronto to piking out in the first round in Cincy to perennial Czech also-ran Tomas Berdych. Clearly, the kid has talent and the drive to go after number one. But so did Hewitt in 2001. Let's take a breath.
An American treasure -- and one of my favorite places, anywhere -- could well be no more as of Tuesday. There's no finer convergence of food, drink, and music than the French Quarter.
Let's hope things go differently. If not, I put the over/under at three days before a Christian Right type comes forth with the idea that God destroyed New Orleans because it's a den of sin.
Well, thank ...uh...God it looks like utter destruction won't come to pass. But there will still be those who wish to place blame for these storms, and I expect the more likely group to point the finger will be the enviro-left global warming crowd.
Got back last night, around 7:00, to find my former hometown pulling up roots and heading for high ground. Freaky.
Eno asks if I would have tried to hang in there for "The Big One." It's a tough question. I have at least one friend who's there for it, keeping an eye on the company warehouse and planning to be miserable for the next few weeks. I'm pretty sure if I were still there I could have found a place to ride it out. Chance of survival very good, and lots of excitement for 36 hours or so. Pretty cool.
But the problem comes afterward. A category 3, which I partied through in 1998, leaves some power outages, a little flooding, and you're inconvenienced for a couple days. Certainly a lot of people lose property from flooding and lots of windows get broken, but if you make it through the storm, you'll be fine. This storm is going to make life miserable for anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months, with the first week being pretty much hell, literally. This is a city that buries its dead above ground, and this much water is going to open the tombs of many of them. I don't think I'd want to be in the city till the worst of that's cleaned up, assuming there's anything to come back to.
In all likelihood I would have headed to the Covington/Mandeville area, north of Lake Pontchartrain. Still close enough to action to be scared shitless, but with a place to stay for a few days out of the toxic cleanup site.
It looks right now like the storm has weakened, barely, and is making a slight turn to the east. That's good news for the Crescent City, though it will still be very bad, especially for the folks in Biloxi and the Gulf Coast. Here's wishing them safe passage through this storm, and as swift and thorough a recovery as possible. It will be very hard, but you will make it through.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
"We are facing a storm that most of us have long feared," Mayor Ray Nagin said in ordering the mandatory evacuation for his city of 485,000 people, surrounded by suburbs of a million more. "The storm surge will most likely topple our levee system."Meanwhile, some tourists are stuck with nowhere to evacuate to.
Tina and Bryan Steven, a couple from Forest Lake, Minn., who came to attend a conference of emergency medical services, sat glumly on the sidewalk outside their hotel in the French Quarter . . . [Tina], wearing a Bourbon Street T-shirt with a lewd message, interjected: "I just don't want to die in this shirt."A true Yat would rather die than be seen in the shirt in the first place, naturally. Which leads me to Flyer, who knows what its like to ride out a New Orleans hurricane. It comes down to a simple choice: Beat feet or stock beer.
So here's the question, Flyer. You're in your apartment, you've laid in a few cases of Abita and a carton of smokes, and Mayor Nagin has just announced, "Last one out take the flag, please." Stay or go? It seems to me that with some serious preparation, you could stay and observe this in relative safety. But would you want to hang around to see your home taken away?
The tastefully named Brendan Loy is all over this storm.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Seems to me that no non-Frog could win the Tour seven times and not have his motives, integrity, and medical record questioned. It's a matter of national pride. I mean, what else do they have, other than this silly two-wheeled race through an inconsequential country? At least the Italians, for example, realized that it's better to blow through les pays at high-speed, in a motorized conveyance -- preferably the twelve-cylinder kind. I've said it before, and it bears repeating: The Tour de France is the dumbest sporting event ever conceived. Imagine riding your bike across the French countryside, an idiot trustifarian sort of accomplishment at best, without stopping to swill some vin ordinaire, eat some cheese that smells like your biking shoes, and take a twirl with the comely lasses of the villes (suggested courting gifts: perfume, economy size, and a twin-blade Bic).
Still, the stupid American pulled it off 7 times. Was he doping? Who the hell knows, but the question is ridiculous in nearly any professional sport. Surely others were doping. Why couldn't they beat Lance? Ah, hell with it.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
The article in question, decrying how close fast food restaurants are to schools in the cities (and are therefore inherently dangerous), misses the point, which Radley also notes, stating how it's not that Fast Food doesn't offer healthy alternatives to bacon-wrapped, deep-fried meat sticks with mayo dipping sauce (yummy!), but that no one, well, at least not kids, chooses them.
I'd like to join in Radley's chorus, but also keep going. First of all, one must determine whether fast food is being consumed on a daily basis as opposed to occasionally, before one can even get to the issue of whether fast food is a problem with which we must even address.
I eat at hamburger joints on occasion. Probably less than once a week - not because of any higher virtue, but b/c I work in a major city that has a lot more options, even for the workaday $5-8 lunch alternative; and fast food is something I can get anywhere. However, when I go to eat fast food, I'm going not for the friggin' salads, I can assure you that. Meaning, I target fast food as an option when I want some greasy hamburgs, overly-large fries, and a soda to wash it all down. Stated another way, to me, fast food is an escape - an escape from the daily grind of trying to choose healthy or at least, non-deadly, alternatives for daily consumption.
It's the difference between having a glass of wine or two with dinner, and going to the bar for six pints and then rounds of Jagermeister with your new best friends with whom you've just decided to pool your money together to finally make that reunion movie with the cast from "The Facts of Life" (Do you think they're available??). The point is, you know going into the place that you're about to make some unhealthy decisions. The difference between some occasional and mostly harmless fun, and an appearance on The Smoking Gun is of frequency and degree.
If the "Gubbinment" takes away all my unhealthy choices - that can only possibly affect my life (I'll make the distinction on smoking only this once because one can argue that smoking can affect people second-hand [not that it's true, but that you can argue it]), just because others can't seem to control themselves, then there is no stopping the merry-go-round of government intervention into my life.
Fast food is one of this country's most successful exports - it may not say much about our culture, but it says a hell of a lot about our ability to tap into a universal human desire - much like our exportation of sports and entertainment. Complain all you want, but people are getting that which they desire. The only way to change the outcome is to change the desire, not the supply. One look at the "War on Drugs" should tell you all you need to know about "supply-side" prohibition.
Unfortunately (or not, depending on your viewpoint), changing preferences is much harder than simply outlawing that which we desire. My guess is that if we wanted to stop or at least greatly reduce fast food consumption by those who are most at risk, a good starting point would be diminishing the poverty gap, strengthening families, and increasing knowledge about diet and activity.
On second thought, just put a 50% tax on Big Macs and hold a press conference announcing: "Mission Accomplished."
Monday, August 22, 2005
This year I've seen Star Wars, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, and the above mentioned Red Eye in the theater and only Star Wars was worth it. And that probably had less to do with the movie than with the release of 6 years of pent up anticipation. The girlfriend asked a good question after the movie Friday: How do these theaters stay in business? How? The place was packed? Why? Can't answer that one.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
NK News is just such a site. Its creator has managed to cull every article posted on the official propa...I mean news site of the North Korean government since December, 1996. Certainly, the creative jargon used by the government news agency is always good for a laugh, but I'm particularly enamored by the "Random Insult Generator," to wit:
You politically illiterate renegade, we will annihilate you with a fresh revolutionary upswing!
You imperialist renegade, we will transform your country into a sea of fire!Okay, that one was more of a threat than an insult, but you get my drift.
More amusing the co-opting of the Kim Jong lookalike marionette from "Team America: World Police," which if you haven't seen, you are missing out.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
What confuses me more however is the impetus:
"We think this is a great development ... for the academic freedom of students," said John West, senior fellow of the Discovery Institute, which supports intelligent design theory.Hmmm, okay, it's about "academic freedom." I suppose that isn't a bad thing. So, one presumes that Kansas will soon be teaching about crop circles being evidence of alien visitations, how tinfoil hats keep the government waves from controlling our actions, and how L Ron Hubbard may be on to something after all.
See, the push for ID in schools is not about "academic freedom." Those behind ID are about pushing an agenda, specifically designed to advance a belief-based curriculum. Whatever you may think about evolution; it is God-neutral - it neither advances, nor curbs, the proposition that everything on earth (and all around us for that matter) was created by some higher, sentient being. It just says that once the spark of life got here, however that was, the way we are now came about due to things like natural selection.
The important part of course, is that Darwin's theories are scientifically supportable. It doesn't mean that we might not find ways to scientifically alter them, or even disprove them one day. But, to teach kids that life as we know it was/is intentionally designed, by one mother-fucker of an engineer, is not only not provable, it's not even demonstrable. It's like saying "Yellow is the most beautiful color around, because I can't imagine a more beautiful one, therefore it must have been created by a divine artist." The whole theory is self-centered - in our perception of what is possible - as opposed to what is objectively demonstrated by observance and testing.
Evolution should not be viewed as the end-all, be-all, nor a threat to religious belief in general. It should just be viewed, rightly, as the best scientific explanation going. ID has no real foundation in science, it is merely an alternative - one that is not entirely crack-pot, but one that is nonetheless as provable or demonstrable as my deeply-held belief that the divine drunken otter in the sky made us by accident. Weep for Kansas...weep.
Monday, August 08, 2005
However, if constructivism holds, we have to choose between dialectic narrative and a ‘great ass. 'I may go back and read it a third time, just to make sure I caught all the nuance.
Apologies: Here is the link. Enjoy!
Sunday, August 07, 2005
A new ordinance is being considered in Anderson to keep certain types of furniture off porches.The Anderson City Council is working on a new ordinance that would ban traditional indoor furniture from being kept outside on a porch.We once moved a friend's entire living room out into the driveway, including tv, lamps, coffee tables etc. An extra full size fridge, not the mini fridge, was requisitioned and hooked up and we spent a solid 12 -15 hours pretending nothing unusual was going on. And once I had a recliner stolen from my porch while a friend was passed out in the couch next to it. Never forgave him for not waking up.
Of course, the behavior of drunken college kids shouldn't be the standard of behavior for polite society.
Friday, August 05, 2005
Renaming something so very familiar is an act of government high-handedness, as the New York City example of renaming 6th Avenue "Avenue of the Americas" demonstrates. It's been 60 years, and nobody calls it Avenue of the Americas, and nobody ever will (except for real estate reasons). I'm all for honoring Ronald Reagan, but not this way -- not in a way that would embarrass Reagan himself.
It's seems a little arbitrary, although maybe 16th St. has some Reaganesque symbolism I don't know about. I could still get behind Eno's idea to create a dollar coin with the Gipper's likeness. That would be more fitting.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
At any rate, it highlights how deep in thrall traditional "minorities" are to the Dems. They don't have to let them play, after all. What are they going to do, join the GOP?
That said, Hillary does have the personality problem, so the Kos-ian protestations may be partly honest (though I really suspect a lot of older, male, honky Dems are afraid minorities will take the party from them). Last month's Atlantic surveyed influential Democrats about the '08 election, and they generally agreed that long-term exposure to Hillary is going to turn off even some who "like" her. She might surge at first, like Howard Dean did in the '04 primaries, but then she'll start to grate on folks. Look for '08 to be another white male vs. white male contest.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
What I really found odd in his post, though, was this line.
Given a choice between personality and policy, voters have been picking personality for the LAST SEVEN ELECTIONS. But Dems are still acting as if the voters have the same attention span they had during the Lincoln-Douglas debates, or even the Kennedy-Nixon debates.What? Americans have short attention spans? Just conservatives, Kos, or do you think any bong smoke theorists on the left, with their short term memory obliterated, have trouble staying awake through a John Kerry ten point plan to come up with a ten point plan to improve the economy? Maybe you're right, though. If we were all as informed about the issues and detailed plans as they average voter was in 1858, I'm sure everything would be great. Information widely disseminated at the speed of horse and average education levels pretty low, even by modern DOE standards. That's the ideal situation for voter awareness.
And the Kennedy-Nixon debate was pretty much the beginning of modern "popularity contest" politics. Kennedy got elected because he and his wife were pretty and his daddy was rich, the ultimate triumph of style over substance. You can claim that modern voters make some decisions for pretty stupid reasons (like what they heard in a Green Day song) but don't pretend there was some halcyon day of intellectual debate when the masses trotted out to stadiums to cheer the noble competitors thrust and parry with their daggerlike tongues (and your guy, naturally, won the day).
All he's really saying is that we keep losing even though we're so much smarter than our opponent, so it must be style. Let's find some of that '92 sax-playing mojo!
Maybe you keep losing because when the style isn't there and people actually hear you talk, they stay away in droves.
change(ing) three-letter acronyms (INS) to four-letter acronyms (BCIS) just to show how serious we are, and a year or four down the line we may well get real tough and require five-letter acronyms.
Unfortunately that's no excuse. This is just a bad idea for a federal Department of Education and it's a pretty dumb move politically. Christian conservatives can accept (I hope) that once the government starts teaching one religious idea, it pretty much has to give equal time to every other viewpoint. Unless you're in a parochial school stick to that which can be proven by scientific method and tell the little whelps to meditate if they want any answers beyond that.
Hat tip John Hawkins.