Friday, September 22, 2006

Random Friday Links:

1. Someone likes Rush just a tad too much.

2. Weird Al, funny once more (you'll want to watch the "White and Nerdy" video not just listen...).

3. Psychology experiment gone very wrong.

4. Nigerian 419 Scam as performance art....
Radley's work paying off: I think we've all followed, more or less, Radley Balko's reporting and digging on the Cory Maye case in Mississippi, one of the first cases he reported on in his series about police tactics and SWAT team abuses. He's devoted a lot of time to publicizing and recruiting assistance on the case.

It looks like some real positive results are starting to come from all the work. He's been down in Miss., actually commuting from New Orleans, for Maye's hearings and he reports that there will at least be a new sentencing hearing and that Maye has been taken off death row. That's good news, and The Agitator is to be commended for his work.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Western guilt: Jonah Goldberg's column on NRO today has some thoughts on why Westerners pay so much deference to Islamic grievances, i.e. the Pope Benedict nonsense.

No, this is about us. The best book for illuminating what’s going on in the Muslim “street” isn’t some weighty treatise on Islam; it’s a short little tract called White Guilt by Shelby Steele. The book isn’t even about Islam. Steele focuses on white liberals and the black radicals who’ve been gaming them ever since the 1960s. Whites, he argues, have internalized their own demonization. Deep down they fear that maybe they are imperialistic, racist bastards, and they are desperate to prove otherwise. In America, black radicals figured this out a while ago and have been dunning liberal whites ever since.

The West is caught in a similarly dysfunctional cycle of extortion and intimidation with Islam, but on a grander and far more violent scale. Whether it’s the pope’s comments or some Danish cartoons, self-appointed spokesmen for the Islamic street say, “You have offended a billion Muslims,” which really means, “There are so many of us, you should watch out.” And if you didn’t get the message, just look around for the burning embassies and murdered infidels. They’re not hard to find.

White Westerners. A bunch of suckers are we.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Torturing the pontiff: Just a few minutes of political ramblings, then back to your regularly scheduled programming (or lack thereof). And I do mean rambling, since I haven't thought these issues out entirely.

The press is abuzz over two big stories these days. First, George W. Bush thinks it's ok to "interpret"the Geneva Conventions sacred Article 3, which states, basically, torture is a no-no, in his own unique way. He'd like it to evolve, so to speak, to allow for rough treatment of those prisoners who have information we need to stop terrorist acts. Protect American citizens etc. Now you can define torture however you like and still leave room, I think, for blasting rock & roll music, leaving lights on extra bright, making them sit on floors colder than doctor's examination tables and even the occasional slap in the face (provided it be done in a haughty and defensive manner and is followed by a CIA agent running to his room to call mother). But John McCain and Colin Powell are afraid that if we allow Wet Willies on jihadists it'll give Iran or others the cover they need to give Atomic Wedgies and Swirlies to our troops taken prisoner. America ought to lead by example and all that. Beautiful sentiment.

Changing gears for a second, the other hot topic this week is the Pope ticking off a number of the Islamic persuasion by suggesting (say it ain't so) that Islam has a history of violence in the name of promoting the faith and converting the heathen masses. I know, I know. I didn't expect any kind of overreaction either, but some have argued that perhaps Pope Benedict ought to check his own religion's history, then bow and scrape his way to Mecca or face the divine sword of Allah, peace be upon him. Others are trying to defend Benedict by interpreting his words in umpteen different ways, insisting he meant no offense and it just sort of slipped out. Didn't even know you guys were listening.

Both of these debates raise the same point regarding the deference we pay to our Islamist counterparts. For some reason we keep expecting our shining American/Western example of justice and fairness, tarnished though it may occasionally be, to matter one iota to our enemies in Iran, Iraq or anywhere else. Our "torture" techniques might be worthy of criticism, but do you really think it'll matter to those who consider beheadings reasonable treatment? These people do not require us to lower our standards of behavior first. They're already so far below our worst standards, only a moral imbecile could possibly claim the lines are getting blurred. Pretending to be appalled by Bush's attempt at a looser interpretation of the Geneva Conventions (avert your eyes from this sacred text if you know what's good for you and you've seen Raider Of The Lost Ark) without a caveat so fucking big Michael Moore would mistake it for lunch is nonsense in high heels.

At the same time, I don't often rush to the defend statements made by anyone in a hat that funny and I won't start now. Even if he's right, do we really need the extra heat right now. No. But please spare me the indignation coming from the "Arab Street" right now. "We are not violent, and I'll cut your tongue out if you say it again." This is laughable, but does anyone think that if only Pope Benedict would hold his tongue these kinds of ridiculous threats would disappear? They abound these days, and yet every time it happens the press rushes to pick nits over whatever some Westerner said or did to provoke them. I don't care if the College of Cardinals did a drive-by "pressed ham" through the streets of Tehran, get the hell over it you self-righteous, overly sensitive, excuse making jerkoffs.

Maybe we should go the other way with it and just have Bush and Cheney start saying "The bombing will begin in five minutes" and all kinds of other ridiculous shit to provoke the hell out of the Middle East. They're going to be offended no matter what we say, they're going to kill and brutalize anyone they get their hands on with or without Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, so what does it really matter. And the smallest fraction of Europe is going to side with us no matter what, if Tony Blair is really such a Bush lap dog, while the rest are just as determined to find evil at the root of whatever we do. Why waste all the energy trying to "set an example for the world."

Like giving advice: that which is never taken, shouldn't be offered.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

NFL Picks? Oye, como va, Tito! The Open isn't even finished yet! And I don't even have the teams straight from the last division reshuffle. Herewith some bits of wisdom from the guy not paying attention.

Pittsburgh: Don't even think about it. Last year was a fluke. Look for Big Ben to be a little less Terry Bradshaw, a little more Bubby Brister this year.

Legacy QBs: Manning's going to finally have that huge, breakout year they've always talked about. Problem is, Eli's going to have it. Peyton will be relaxing at home again in January.

T.O. Watch: Week 2, he brings explosives on the team flight to the first baway game. Spends next 11 games in Gitmo.

Big Bust: Anna Nicole Smith. And the Patriots will follow their MLB counterparts into a slump.

Won't Read This Anywhere Else Dept.: A well-known network football analyst, by week 6, uses the words "Arizona" and "Cinderella" in the same sentence.

For what it's worth, fellas. Now, tennis:

Took Eno Jr. to the tennis courts this afternoon to work on some basics. (He gets the standard kick serve, but he's still working on the American twist.) Actually, I'm glad to see him getting it over the net. When he gets a good hit he calls himself "Little Rafa." He was very sad to see Nadal lose, but he likes Roddick's chances. Can you believe that shit? If he didn't have my exact ears, I'd suspect the milkman.

I don't see any of them beating Federer this year.

For the ladies, I'd love to see Jelena pull off the upset. She's spitting out seeds like she's eating watermelon. And honestly, Sharapova's not an order of magnitude better than the pair of seeded Russians Jelena's already sent packing. Getting past Henin will be the harder match.

As for Mauresmo, I don't know. I'm the guy, after all, who thought she'd fold up like a cheap lawn chair at Wimby. I still think the right player can jangle her nerves pretty easily. Maybe Jelena's the one.
Picks, you can't handle the picks: Proving once again there's always room on the bandwagon for one more.

Division winners:

AFC North: Pittsburgh: Don't wake up, please don't wake up.

AFC South: Indy: Now this is the year.

AFC East: Miami: Tom who?

AFC West: Kansas City: Mediocrity triumphs (with a great running back and improved defense).

Wildcards: Cincy, New England

NFC North: Minnesota: I knowChicago is the darling today, but I just want to stab myself when I see Brian Griese's name and Minny should improve more than the others.

NFC South: Carolina: I'm a homer twice in one post! They're the easy chalk pick though.

NFC East: Dallas: That team has always thrived on controversy and this is Bill's year to deliver.

NFC West: Seattle: Cupcake division+same running back+ same QB+ something to prove=a romp through the regular season (and another post-season disappointment).

Wildcards: Philly, Tampa Bay

Super Bowl

Miami vs. Carolina: Panthers win their first Super Bowl!

First T. O. disciplinary action

Week 1 if you count The Tuna keeping him on the bench the first quarter for being a pain all summer, otherwise Week 5 when he dances on Philly's 50 yard line and gets fined for taunting.

First coach to be fired

Parcells, after the first quarter of Week 1. He's rehired by the second half, though, and tells everyone he was in the locker room "taking an Owens."

First QB benched

Aaron Brooks, as the next Jeff George era begins in Oakland.

Biggest bust

Washington: Joe Gibbs is wishing he'd stayed in NASCAR.

Biggest boom

Tampa Bay: Nobody's talking about them since Carolina's so heavily favored, but they'll be second in the division ahead of Atlanta and Chris Simms will finally prove he belongs in the NFL.

Are you ready for some prognostications?:

The NFL season kicks off on its most hallowed and storied evening, yes Thursday night...anyway, here are my picks:

1. Conference Winners and Wildcards:

NFC East: Eagles 12-4
NFC South: Carolina 10-6
NFC West: Rams 10-6
NFC North: Chicago 11-5
Wildcards: Cowboys 10-6, Seattle 9-7

AFC East: New England, 11-5
AFC South: Colts, 10-6
AFC West: Denver, 10-6
AFC North: Cincinnati, 12-4
Wildcards: Miami, 10-6, Pittsburgh 10-6

2. Superbowl match-up and winner.

Cincinnati vs. Eagles. Eagles win their first Superbowl!!!

3. Week of the first T.O. disciplinary action

Week 5 -- after he only racks up 25 catches for 2 TDs and say, 200 yards he goes on a tantrum, Bledsoe cries, and T.O. gets a 1-game suspension.

4. First coach to get fired and when?

Brian Billick, week 9, after Baltimore scores 90 pts through 8 games and the "Offensive Genius" label can be removed from Billick, and just leave him with "Offensive".

5. Reggie Bush -- boom or bust?

Minor boom. The city will love him, he'll do all the right things, but you can only expect so much behind that team's line...

6. First QB to get benched.

I'd say Kitna, but they have nothing behind him. So, let's say Phillip Rivers is a major major disappointment in San Diego, and the team has to face the fact that they made a huge mistake in letting Brees go, who is having a very good (if not great) year for the 'Aints...

7. Team to most spectacularly fail to meet consensus pre-season expectations.

Giants. Eli Manning is no regular season Peyton.

8. Team to most spectacularly exceed consensus pre-season expectations.

Rams. They have the firepower to win in that division and their team isn't so awful defensively.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Agassi: But before we get to him, let's pause a moment to appreciate MRS. Agassi -- hoofah. She is looking fine these days -- a little make-up, some blowdrying -- and wow. Age is "serving" her well -- harhar.

Anyway, I made myself watch the entire match against "Bombs over Baghdatis". First off, the Cypriot played better and yet worse than expected. He showed really solid groundstrokes and his shot selection was decent. His first serve is also very good. Yet, as Johnny Mac said last night, he was playing a bit lazy (or maybe it's his conditioning) and wasn't taking the extra step a lot of the time to get to the ball which would result in half-assed "gets" at times. Moreover, he had a woeful second serve -- he was only winning around 35% of his points of the 2nd serve**, which is simply not going to do it against the premiere return man of the ages (still). Ultimately it may have been his cramps that did him in -- which is no excuse when you're 21 and playing a guy who is 36 (!)

Agassi was a gamer. He did what he had to do, although he nearly blew it up 3-0 in the 4th and then gets broken twice to lose the set (this with the entire stadium save 5 screaming for you [did I mention the hot wife??]). His serves were nice and flat, his pacing and selection of his groundstrokes kept Bag-boy off his game just enough to flatten the edge of age and power. Andre did not show any ill effects of his back, but then again, it was only the second round. He's playing better tennis than expected, and perhaps rightfully so given that it's his swansong. I have to admit I was a little upset when it looked like he might lose. I wanted him gone in the first round, or else to make it to the finals. Losing in the 4th round just has no poetry about it.

Good luck Andre.

**In honor of Eno's love for DFW, here's a footnote: For more on the perils on having a crappy second serve, see Hingis, Martina##. She got CUH-rushed last night by a middling opponent who capitalized on Martina's namby-pamby service game.

##Here's a footnote to a footnote: Funny (not laugh out loud) coincidence how Hingis and Baghdatis were both 8th seeds getting knocked out by no-seeds.