Sunday, July 31, 2005

Peace Now

Whatever

Everybody here might be a little to close to actually comment on the important and interesting off-off broadway play, Peace Now, that is currently playing in the Midtown International Theater Festival. But luckily the people over at Backstage have seen to it to review the play for you.
"Peace Now" is set amidst Vietnam War-era peace rallies and protests as it re-creates the takeover of a college administration building. Crisp dialogue, period costuming and music, and an exceptional ensemble cast make Tom Peterson's drama the must-see production of this year's festival.

All and all a terrific review. Check it out if you are in Manhattan. Two shows left, August 6 at 5:30 and August 7 at 11:00. Read more at Peace Now's website.

UPDATE: Warning, the review contains a spoiler!

Stephen A. Smith??

Sporting Goods

So on top of the Sports Illustrated story, Stephen A. Smith now has a little puff piece in the New York Times.

I don't like Stephen A. Smith. I don't like being yelled at. Often his opinions don't make a lot of sense. In fact, the Times article has three grafs that sum up everything I don't like about him, even though I don't think they mean to.
"I have opinions that are based on the facts that are presented to me," he said over pancakes and eggs that he barely ate in a Midtown hotel, as his cellphone occasionally rang. "I don't apologize. I stand by it. If I'm hated, so what? If I'm loved, so what?"
How's that for a perfect out. My opinions are based on the facts presented to me. He admits that he has no interest in learning about anything before offering his opinion. It is just the facts that are given to him. And being wrong doesn't mean anything. Admit you were wrong?
Like most studio analysts, Mr. Smith delivers his opinions with an air of absolute certainty. If he is ever wrong, he said, it's because sources have lied to him. "Unless you're a fly on the wall, you're only as good as your sources," he said.
And finally, he who is loudest, wins:
Six years later, when he started his television career at the now-defunct cable network CNN/SI, he seemed to intuitively grasp what all panelists on sports and political shows know: that the loudest, the most argumentative, even the rudest voice will get the most attention.
Stephen A. Smith highlights everything that is wrong with ESPN. And the sad thing is that ESPN likes it this way.
"Stephen A. is ringing a bell," said Mark Shapiro, an executive vice president of ESPN. "People like him and dislike him, but they still watch him. These days, it's hard to find a talent who strikes a chord that way. Polarization is a commodity." He added: "We're in the hit-making business. And Stephen A. is a game-changer."
Huh? I thought ESPN was in the sports reporting business. No wonder it is almost impossible to watch now.

NL Worst

Sporting Goods

Can't we just take another team from the NL East for the playoffs? Arizona now leads the west with this line 52-55 .486. This is just pathetic.

Ryn-O

Sporting Goods

So I was going to write this post extolling the virutes of Ryne Sandberg and mocking anybody who doubts whether he should be in the hall of fame. Then I realized that his career OPS is under .800. What a complete shock.

I remember Sandberg as the best second baseman in the 80s and early 90s, until Alomar - a no doubt HOFer - came and dominated the position for a decade. (But why did he have to suck with the Mets.) But the stats seem to tell another story. Could it be that I'm becoming an old man, and just like morons like Joe Morgan I think of the players from my youth with too much reverence? I hope not. I still think Sandberg is a no doubt Hall of Famer. Compared to the other second baseman of his generation, he was the best. That alone should get you in the Hall. When you look at the offense, the gold gloves, the 344 steals at a 76% clip, it all comes together to a guy that anybody would want on their team. If you could have any second baseman playing right now, or in his prime Sandburg, who would you take? I think you have to go with Sandberg, right?

To Boggs-y

Sporting Goods

On the day he rightfully goes into the Hall of Fame, a few reasons that I am a huge fan of Wade Boggs. When I think of Wade, I think of:

-Chicken for lunch, arriving at the park at the same time, and doing his wind sprints at the same time, EVERY game day. Makes my "lucky underwear" when I was a young baller seem pretty normal.

-Two strikes. I loved that the guy would let you put two strikes on him, and then became impossible to put away. He would foul off pitch after pitch, letting bad pitches go by, just waiting for that one he could drive the other way. Like he was toying with the pitcher. I think I read somewhere that he batted .945 with two strikes on him.

-The wall. I remember he drove fans crazy by refusing to pull the ball, even in the face of huge shifts. But he just loved to bang it off the monster, as if he was playing a different game where only monster-shots counted.

-The star. Before Clemens was huge (both figuratively and literally), before Bonds won that first MVP award, he was the first great but flawed player that I ranked among my favorites. On that list of three, he's definitely risen back to the top.

-1987. I had this weird card game where you had player cards with stats listed, and you basically played "War" with them. Boggs was nearly unbeatable with that card of his.

-.328. OK, maybe I think more of .360, which he surpassed four times in the mid '80s. Not many players from the last 50-60 years hit higher for their career. Williams, Musial, Gwynn, that's about it.

-The awkwardness. This guy really need a PR man. Even when it came to talking about his hat for the Hall, he still couldn't say the right thing on the day of his greatest honor.

And of course...
-The 'stache.

UPDATE: Reader O in comments reminds us of this classic Cheers episode that Boggs guest-starred in. That in turns reminds me of Boggs's role in one of my favorite all-time Simpsons episodes, where Mr. Burns assembles an all-star softball team. But do you remember why Boggs doesn't show up for the championship? answer is in the comments.

Friday, July 29, 2005

iTunes Friday - Masta Ace Edition

Whatever

Easily the most underrated rapper of all time. I discovered him in compilation songs and bought his album based on reviews alone. Simply one of my top 5 favorite artists. Here's what iTunes likes today.

1. Maintain - from Hits U Missed (a cd of unreleased songs that isn't like most of the unreleased cds. These weren't released because he couldn't get a good deal, not because they are bad, see Biggie and Tupac.
2. Unfriendly Game (with Strict)- from Disposable Arts (I have only heard Strict on Ace songs. Would love to buy an album.)
3. The Phat Kat Ride - from Sittin on Chrome
4. Jeep Ass Nigguh - from Slaughterhouse (a genius cd, wish I heard it in 1993)
5. Late Model Sedan - from Slaughterhouse
6. Hold U - from Disposable Arts
7. The Big East - from Slaughterhouse
8. H.O.O.D. - from A Long Hot Summer (best hip-hop cd of 2004)
9. Me and the Biz - from The Best of Cold Chillin Masta Ace (classic late 80s rap)
10. Type I Hate - from Disposable Arts

What you got?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Huh??!

Whatever

So it looks like I'm about to lose an apartment in NYC despite having good credit, being the first to file and complete all the attachments to the application, and offering to pay more than a couple of months up front.

Why you ask? Because the old tenant, who is moving early and must find somebody for the place, recommended somebody else who they showed the apt. to yesterday, and that person left a message on the answering machine of the management company before I did last night.

Manhattan real estate. Shoot me now.

Update: I'd like to retract part of my post about the CNN anchor who was bitching about Manhattan real estate. He's still an ass. But I have a little more sympathy now.

Heads up on BP

Sporting Goods

Baseball Prospectus is offering a free trial this week, it's a great site with great analysis, great stories, great stats. I will admit that I have not laid down the dough yet to subscribe, but it's only a matter of time. So go check it out while it's free (not coincidentally, as rumors fly and the trade deadline approaches).

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Absolutely pathetic

Sporting Goods

The Red Sox 4-9 hitters today:

4. John Olerud
5. Bill Mueller
6. Kevin Millar
7. Alex Cora
8. Doug Mirabelli
9. Adam Stern

Unbelievable. What is the difference between this 4-9 and the 4-9 on the worst offense in the league? Let's look:

4. Richie Sexson
5. Adrian Beltre
6. Jeremy Reed
7. Willie Bloomquist
8. Jose Lopez
9. Miguel Olivo

I'll take the Mariners lineup, the lowest scoring in the AL, any day over today's shoddy Sox lineup.

Update: Perfect. The Sox normal 1-3 batters (Damon-Edgar-Papi) load the bases with no outs. Up comes the B team, and the Sox exit the inning with only one run.

Missing Black Woman!!??!

Manifesto

So after a week and prodding from bloggers, mostly at the All Spin Zone, CNN actually has a story about Latoyia Figueroa, a pregnant Philadelphia woman who has been missing for more than a week.

Thanks for coming to the party CNN.

I'm impressed with the bloggers who pushed this story for the week that CNN ignored it. I don't think CNN has any obligation to help find missing person, but explain to me how this story is any different from Lacy Peterson, runaway bride, or Natalee Holloway. There is only one difference and it is obvious. Sorry for harping on this but I'm amazed. Not to be too cynical, but I doubt we'll get regular updates from CNN about the status of the case such as this gem about poor Ms. Holloway.

UPDATE (1:35): The "poor" above is completely sincere. I feel for Ms. Holloway's family. All my critiques go solely to the media's coverage of her disappearance.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Aristocrats!

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Sorry for the light posting, been pretty busy at work and with wedding stuff. But also, there are two things I wanted to write about, and I can't even rationally discuss either one.

I mean what you can you say about the Red Sox when they get a solid outing from their starter, but they can't touch up Doug freaking Waechter, and they are forced to head to extra innings where Schilling can't hold it down and Nixon can't field his position. See, can't discuss rationally.

Then there is Rick Santorum's appearance on The Daily Show last night. I thought it would be entertaining, but how is this intelligent dialogue?
Q: So why do you think that the only proper family is one man, one woman, and children?
A: Because that is the best kind of family.

Instead of answering the question by restating it, you could at least be a man and admit, "because I believe that my God that I have my own image of wants it that way. Plus, I think gay people are icky."

So with the inability to put together coherent thoughts on either of those frustrating events, I'll just ask am I the only one who is really excited to see "The Aristocrats"?

It's causing a stir today, as some movie theaters are refusing to pick it up. The basic premise, is that about 100 comedians, including Gottfried, Izzard, Williams, the South Park guys, Onion writers, etc. all talk about and tell their own Aristocrat joke. For more on Aristocrat jokes, and one example of this filthy joke, see here.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Anti-Wal-Mart

MANIFESTO

Here is an amazing story about Jim Sinegal, the founder and CEO of Costco. In an age where the bottom line means anything, he is a man that refuses to take advantage of his employees for the sake of profits. Costco ranks 29th in the country for annual revenue, yet he only takes a salary of $350,000 plus bonuses. (He is worth over $150M thanks to stock holdings.)
"I just think that if you're going to try to run an organization that's very cost-conscious, then you can't have those disparities. Having an individual who is making 100 or 200 or 300 times more than the average person working on the floor is wrong."
He pays his employees well, offers health care (including dental), retirement plans, and has no problem with worker unionization.
The Teamsters union...represents 14,000 of Costco's 113,000 employees. "They gave us the best agreement of any retailer in the country," said Rome Aloise, the union's chief negotiator with Costco. The contract guarantees employees at least 25 hours of work a week, he said, and requires that at least half of a store's workers be full time.
What is incredible is that people actually criticize this man and the way he runs his company. In an era when working Americans are being squeezed like never before by corporations and corporate-thinking, this man is making a difference. And he still manages to sell industrial-sized mayonnaise for pennies on the dollar.
Mr. Sinegal...rejects Wall Street's assumption that to succeed in discount retailing, companies must pay poorly and skimp on benefits, or must ratchet up prices to meet Wall Street's profit demands...Good wages and benefits are why Costco has extremely low rates of turnover and theft by employees, he said. And Costco's customers, who are more affluent than other warehouse store shoppers, stay loyal because they like that low prices do not come at the workers' expense. "This is not altruistic," he said. "This is good business."
Now that I am moving to Brooklyn, I'm am thrilled that I will have a Costco so close. I will happily give this company and this man my money. By standing up to Wall Street analysts who only care about stock prices, he is doing his part to make America better. He is truly one of the great American businessmen.

I always feel guilty shopping at WalMart and hereby vow never to spend my money there again. They are a hateful company that exploits its workers to almost unprecedented levels for the sake of the bottom line. I used to grit my teeth and just buy my stupid $9 DVD. Now I'm going to Costco. (I'm hoping some of you reading will join in my crusade.)

Costco and Jim Sinegal are challenging the notion that to make money, you have to screw your workers over. He and his company deserve our patronage and our respect.

Backin' me Up

SPORTING GOODS

Aaron Gleeman at Hardball Times came to the same conclusion about Wednesday's Simmons column that I did:

There are, of course, a number of stats that do precisely what Simmons is looking for. For instance, Lee Sinins' wonderful Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia tells us that, prior to this season, Palmeiro had hit 267 more home runs than the average hitter during his career, and 136 more home runs than the average first baseman. The funny thing is that those are exactly the sort of stats Simmons loves to mock.
Worth a read of Gleeman's column today, which I linked above. There's some good stuff in there, including a link to the ESPN talking heads tourney. It's like we're on the same wave-length. Spooooky.

BTW, ESPN tourney second round starts today, go vote if you're bored!

So...

Manifesto

Anyone get searched on the way to work today?

I didn't see anyone or anything happen at my 2 stations today, but I look forward to hearing outrageous stories. Well, not really, but you know what I mean.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

iTunes Thursday

Whatever

Violating my ban on posting from work, and because it feels like it is a Friday. Here's a day earlier edition of our popular (or not) recurring post.

1. All I need - Method Man
2. Sure Shot - The Beastie Boys
3. No More Pain - 2Pac
4. Sometime I Rhyme Slow - Nice & Smooth
5. I'll Call before I Come - Outkast
6. How do you want it - 2Pac
7. Fallin' Up - Black Eyed Peas
8. Take Your Time - Pete Rock
9. Hip Hop Fury - GZA
10. The Ways - Masta Ace

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Say it Ain't So

SPORTING GOODS

Well, I hate to say it, but today my favorite internet writer (and favorite sports writer, period) has fallen into full Joe Morgan / old man "it was better in my day"-ism:

And if we must include Palmeiro's name in the 3,000/500 club, at least let's stick an asterisk by it that reads, "Achieved in an era that has rendered every career statistic moot."
The dumbest part of the whole thing was this statement:

Elias needs to create a formula that waters down every power number from 1993 to 2004. There has to be a way to determine the performance fluctuation of someone's power numbers compared with the average power hitter of that season.
Um, they basically already have that. Take your pick: RCAA (runs created ABOVE AVERAGE), OPS+ (OPS compared to the league).

Analysis on Hardball Times from Monday (which included RCAA) basically placed Palmeiro in the Killebrew / McCovey range. I don't think anyone would stick those guys in the same sentence as guys like Dave Parker and Chili Davis, as Simmons does with Palmeiro today.

Sports Guy - please stick to drawing from your amazing memory, pop culture references and humorous observations, and avoid the stat talk. It isn't funny, and it is definitely not your strong suit. Leave that stuff to Neyer, and then make fun of him for it, and everyone wins.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Movie Ads Are Fanta-tastic!

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

From today's IMDb Studio Briefing:
Few Protests Over Theater Ads, Say Movie Chains

Despite numerous published commentaries of late about how movie theater ads are driving away patrons, exhibitors maintain that they have received few complaints from the public about them and that many moviegoers actually like them. Pam Blase, a spokeswoman for AMC Entertainment, which operates the country's second-largest movie chain, told the Houston Chronicle that the chain receives one complaint for every 600,000 guests. Terrell Falk of Cinemark USA, the nation's third-largest chain, added that recent research concluded that filmgoers regard ads as "just part of the experience." His remarks were echoed by Jim Kozak, editor-in-chief of In Focus, the magazine of the National Association of Theater Owners. "When [patrons] get there early to get a really good seat, they like to have something to keep them busy, something to do besides talk to the person they came with."
Thank you Fanta! Now I no longer have to talk to my wife before a movie! In fact, you're hideous song is usually played so loud, I can't even think! Bless you!

The theory that since no one complains about something, everyone must like it is a load of crap. Clearly we as American citizens are getting more cynical and accepting of these sorts of corporate inconveniences. Can't choose my own doctor? Okay. Can't get that on the side? Whatever you say, my uniformed friend. We know complaining is no use. Now if they asked for a show of hands before ANY MOVIE they would know that their customers are unhappy. That is why less people are going to the movies. (Attendence is down since '02, if not revenue.)

Any moron that justifies movie ads (which are by far the single worst thing to happen to movie-going in my lifetime) deserves to be tied to a bed and force-fed these ads Clockwork Orange-style, complete with eyelid clamps.

The New York Met(ronome)s

SPORTING GOODS

I knew the Mets were little more than an average team, but today's story in the Times has some stats that are almost hard to believe.
At one point last week, according to Elias, the Mets were .500 in day games, night games, one-run games and extra-inning games. They were also .500 in games against right-handed starters and against left-handed starters. They were parity personified, the major league median and mean.

For instance, going into yesterday's games, the Mets ranked eighth out of 16 National League teams in home runs. They were sixth in earned run average and sixth from the bottom in batting average.
When Pedro pitches, they are way above average. When he's sitting on the bench, they are below. Now if they get their act together and drop Ishii for anyone, they may have a real chance to make a run at the wild card.

Support the Arts

Whatever

Just another plug for Peace Now, which opens today, and has 6 shows in total.

If I was capable of any sort of unbiased review, I would provide one tomorrow. But I won't even pretend that I am.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Point the Finger

SPORTING GOODS

My first reaction when Alex Cora was at the plate, with no one out and the bases loaded, down by 2, with really no one on the bench to replace him, was bunt. Give us a squeeze play. I assume with this guy's skill set, that he can lay down an OK bunt. Do anything but bunt it hard at Rivera, and worst case scenario they get one out at home, and you have a good chance of having 2nd and 3rd, one out, and down by only one run with the top of the lineup coming up. Instead, we get a double play, and Damon needs to drive in two just to send it to extra innings. And a game that should not have been heartbreaking becomes just that, with a pinch of fury on the side.
Sox blogs around the net are focusing their ire of last night's game in various directions.
Over at Dewey's House, Jeff blames the roster makeup, and the Sox carrying an extra long-man:
If you go down the [11 pitcher] path, the one where Mirabelli, Cora, Stern, Olerud, and Youkilis share bench duties, and Cora steps in, you can jump into action. Against Rivera, with no outs, you can pinch hit your worst offensive player with either Olerud (DP threat, walk/2b threat) or Youkilis (not really a DP threat, not as much power as Olerud). If you pick Olerud, you can slide Mueller to 2nd, and switch up the defense by putting Youks at 3rd. If you pick Youks, you have Olerud for later in the game.
At Surviving Grady, he'd rather have anyone hit than Cora, worry about the fielding later:
Then I see Alex Cora stroll to the plate. And my stomach sinks a bit. What, was John Olerud engaged in a heated game of Battleship? Why even send a guy barely hitting .200 to the plate in this instance? I start thinking about a double play.
Weren't we all? Bunt. Pinch-hit. Anything but let an important game get decided with Alex Cora swinging away.

Leit's Out

SPORTING GOODS

So Al Leiter escaped his disasterous second run with the Marlins and had a stellar debut with the Yankees last night. I still can't get myself to root for the Yankees over anyone, especially the Red Sox, but I am thrilled for Leiter. From his glory years with the Mets, he is probably my favorite pitcher ever. I loved his gutsy, bust-them-inside style of pitching and the fact that he was so comfortable with the press that his post-game comments seemed less run-off-the-mill than everyone else's. Hopefully he'll finish his career with his head held high and move into the Mets' broadcast booth next season.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Rafael Palmeiro is a Hall of Famer

SPORTING GOODS

End of discussion. Well it should be. But people on the radio, TV and internet are busy trying to state that Palmeiro doesn't belong. There are three successive arguments that are made in support of this:

1. He has never been considered among the "elite" in the game
2. Letting Palmeiro in would somehow diminish the accomplishments of previous electeees
3. I am a blustering idiot.

The third point is always implied, never stated. But it must be made in order to try to stand by the argument that Palmeiro doesn't belong. Is it worth debating? Yes. Are these people right? Not at all.

3,000 hits, 566 home runs. That should end the debate. I did not think he was a lock when he hit his 500th, but it still seemed like he would make it. And that was 66 home runs ago. And not a, "playing 6 extra seasons at 11 each" either. 43 - 38- 23 the last 3 years, and on pace for about 30 again this year.

Here are Palmeiro's 162 game career averages:
.289, 33 home runs, 106 RBI, 96 runs. .373 OBP. .517 SLG

That's top 10 hitter in the majors type numbers. And if you are in the top ten in the majors, averaged over 20 years, you should be in the hall of fame.

As for the point that Palmeiro was never elite, just very good for very long, how about these seasons:
1991: .322, 26 HR, 88 RBI, .532 slugging
1993: .295, 37 HR, 105 RBI, .371 OBP, .554 slugging, 22 stolen bases
1995: .310, 39 HR, 104 RBI, .380 OBP, .583 slugging
1996: .289, 39 HR, 142 RBI, .381 OBP, .546 slugging
1998: .296, 43 HR, 121 RBI, .379, .565
1999: .324, 47 HR, 148 RBI, .420, .630
2000: .288, 39 HR, 120 RBI, .397, .558
2001-2: 2 more 40 HR, 100 RBI, .560+ SLG years

OK, so he has fantastic numbers, that show 10 years of being one of the best in the game. In terms of Win Shares, he is in the Boggs/ Gwynn/ Carew/ Clemente range. In order to put up those kinds of numbers, you need to be very good, for a very long time. And that is what he has done.

There are over 200 players in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Raffy Palmeiro is right around 50th all time in terms of Win Shares. If you want to talk about the watering down of the hall of fame, have a look at the bottom quartile, not the top one.

Look at the Mazeroskis and the Chesbros and the Rizzutos. The hall of fame is not only reserved for guys who can be mentioned in the same breath as Cobb, Ruth, and Mays. It never has been, it never will, and it's tiring to hear old farts with their "good ol' days" mentalities bringing those arguments to the table.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Friday Random 10

Whatever

As usual, I barely know any of the songs that are mentioned over at Pandagon. But I carry on:

1. Thank You - Boyz II Men (I know, it's just that they sound like Take 6 here)
2. Shake Your Rump - Beastie Boys (from the underrated Paul's Boutique album)
3. When I Come Around - Green Day (I have way too much Green Day on my iTunes)
4. Soul Flower - Pharcyde w/Brand New Heavies (Better than the version on their own album)
5. Get 'Em High - Kanye West (I DO know how girls on BlackPlanet be when they get bubbly. Seriously, put Kanye, Talib, and Common on a track over a kazoo and it would still be hot)
6. Sometimes I Rhyme Slow - Nice 'n Smooth (These guys will say anything as long as it rhymes)
7. Black - Pearl Jam (I won't diminish this amazing song with a comment)
8. Brain Stew - Green Day (like I said before...)
9. Apocalypse - Wyclef Jean (Carnival is definitely a desert island album)
10. Minority - Green Day (You can't be serious!)

Alright, anyone else wanna play?

HP-6

Whatever

Well now that I know what the new Pope thinks about it, I can finally make an informed decision as to whether purchase Harry Potter:

Pope Benedict believes the Harry Potter books subtly seduce young readers and "distort Christianity in the soul" before it can develop properly
Despite this important opinion, I will be one of the millions to buy the book tomorrow. But not at midnight, only because my Hufflepuff robes are at the cleaners.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

False Honor

Manifesto

Here's a interesting story.

So Vanderbilt University started a fuss in the South when it decided that it was going to change the name of a dorm from "Confederate Memorial Hall" to simply "Memorial Hall". You see the Daughters of the Confederacy donated the money to build the dorm, and they weren't happy. So lawsuits ensued. Well, Vanderbilt lost. It can refer to the dorm as "Memorial" but cannot change the name carved in stone on the side of the building, unless it pays the Daughters of the Confederacy $50,000. Vanderbilt has decided not to appeal, but instead will use the furor as an "educational opportunity."

What is there to take away from this story? I think it is this simple. Vandy wants credit for being progressive and breaking from the past but is too cheap to pay $50,000 to do so. How sad is that.

Suckfest 2005

Sporting Goods

Ooh, a tournament I can get behind. Go on over to cast your votes for which ESPN personalities are the most annoying!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Test and a quiz

Whatever

Testing the ability to put my quiz results (which includes a table) on the site.

Here we go:

Cool, it works! So apparantly, I'm agnostic, but please don't tell the church I'm a member of that I scored higher on Satanism than Christianity. Not that I accept the infallibilty of online quizes. But take it if you wish!

agnosticism

92%

Islam

71%

atheism

67%

Paganism

63%

Satanism

54%

Judaism

50%

Buddhism

46%

Christianity

42%

Hinduism

33%

Which religion is the right one for you? (new version)
created with QuizFarm.com

We Are Family

Manifesto

A relative of mine who is in charge of the curriculum in her school district received a number of queries from parents about the "We Are Family" video that James Dobson was so upset about. In the end, she convinced those parents that there was really nothing there to be worried about.

Over at Pandagon, there is a great post about a school district where they decided that this video would somehow warp their children's minds. Jesse's main point, which I really enjoyed:

Here's the major problem: as a society, we tend to go through various phases of how we view and treat children. Sometimes, it's as little adults, people who can handle anything adults can, just with less experience. At the other end, we treat them as little porcelain angels who will break if they're exposed to the slightest stress. There's a medium there, and it involves realizing that children are actually human beings with minds and intellects, and if they can hold in stats on every Pokemon game and the entire spectrum of dinosaurs, they can understand "be tolerant" and "don't put yourself in danger" at the same time.

They're children, people, not morons.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Righteous Urban Barbeque

FOOD FIGHT

Burt ends and a pick pick'n....in NYC? I hardly believe it. In the recent flux of BBQ joints, they've covered ribs and chicken, but few have ventured into the items that are the highlights of my family weekends in Kansas. New York magazine's write up of the new RUB isn't stellar. Disappointing since there has been a lot of anticipation that this is "the real thing." Sounds like there is potential, but still needs some time. The pitmaster is Paul Kirk who hails from Kansas City and apparently commutes between the restaurant here and the suburbs there. I'd guess that not being at the restaurant every night is a big reason it's not as good (think Rocco DiSpirito and The Restaurant). However, as the "Kansas City Baron of Barbeque" he has won hundreds of awards for his BBQ including 7 World BBQ Championships. RUB is described as pretty down home and apparently "the menu reads like a laundry list of delicious death foods." I'm taking that as a positive (note that down home does not translate to bargain in this case). Hopefully they'll get over these growing pains. When they do, I'll know who my friends are when they join me for a pig pick'n (Mouth of the South, I'm expecting you first):

I had several more erratic dinners at RUB until, one evening, in the company of three immaculately dressed female barbecue hounds, I ordered the Baron’s Down Home Pig Pick’n. The dish costs $89.75 and consists of an entire pork butt hoisted to the table with bread slices, pickles, and four silver tongs. The butt weighs twelve pounds when it’s put in the smoker and six or seven pounds when it emerges, fifteen hours later. It’s caked with paprika, chili powder, and a dusting of brown sugar, which gives its exterior a dark, faintly caramelized texture.

Joe-mo's ignorance

Sporting Goods

A really good read out of San Francisco about Joe Morgan and his strange crusade against Moneyball and baseball statistics. The author is obviously "a Moneyball guy," which makes him "a joke" in Morgan's mind. But if you have some time, it's definitely worth a read, especially if you've read Moneyball.

As Joe points out:

Anytime you're trying to make statistics tell you who's gonna win the game, that's a bunch of geeks trying to play video games.
People have tried to explain to him that stats are not predicting who will win, just trying to help teams set themselves up with the best chance of winning, but he just refuses to listen. It's kind of sad.

Update: whoops, added the link!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Shocker!

Sporting Goods

So Tito Francona decides that some players need a rest. So he sits 3 of his All-stars (Varitek, Manny, and Damon), as well as Renteria...ALL IN THE SAME GAME....against the second place Orioles. I am sure a lineup that includes Alex Cora, John Olerud, Doug Mirabelli, and Adam Stern really struck fear into the hearts of the Orioles. But those 4, combined with Kevin Millar who was playing left field in Manny's place (hmm, what's less valuable, a first baseman who hits nothing but singles, or a left fielder who hits nothing but singles?) combined to go 0 for 11.

They could have done worse, but the crappy game got crappy rained out after 6, giving the Sox a crappy loss in a game that it seems crappy Francona wanted to lose. The team went 3 for 20 (hey the regulars batted .333!), so Wells mediocre effort didn't stand up. How frustrating.

Oh well, it's not like games against the second place team in the division are important.

Who Fries Them Best?

FOOD FIGHT

We've yet to have our CT shoreline showdown of the fried clams, but Jacques Pepin and Jean-Georges Vongerichten obviously have their favorite. Check out where the NY Post caught them dining.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Worst movie ever?

Universal Remote

I have long said that the worst movie I have ever seen is Batman & Robin. I'm not going to change that yet. But, having just watched Beverly Hills Cop III for the first time in a decade, I have found a close runner up. Batman & Robin gave us enough absolutely horrible lines that it is extremely quotable, suitable for all sorts of mocking situations. Beverly Hills Cop III is almost, no, completely unredeemable.

What's the worst movie you've ever seen?

Judy Miller - You deserve it

Manifesto

Well, Judy Miller is in jail and I couldn't be happier. Now some readers of this blog may wonder how in the hell I can reconcile my belief in a free press that reports on the important news of the day and the jailing of a reporter who refuses to name a confidential source used in an article. Am I letting my personal political biases get in the way of my ideals? Am I just as bad as the corrupt politicians I'm always ranting about? I don't think so. And I don't think it is a stretch at all.

Atrios has been pointing this out for months and today he linked to an article in the Philly Daily news that expresses many of my sentiments.
That is why the ability of reporters to keep the identity of their true sources confidential is protected by shield laws in 31 states and the District of Columbia (although not in federal courts). Without such protections, the government official would not be able to report the wrongdoing of a president (remember "Deep Throat," the ultimate confidential source?), nor would the corporate executive feel free to rat out a crooked CEO. The comfortable and corrupt could not be afflicted.

But the Times' Judy Miller has not been afflicting the comfortable. She has been protecting them, advancing their objectives, and helping them to mislead a now very afflicted American public. In fact, thinking again about Watergate and Deep Throat is a good way to understand why Judy Miller should not be protected today. Because in Watergate, a reporter acting like Miller would not be meeting the FBI's Mark Felt in an underground parking garage. She would be obsessively on the phone with H.R. Haldeman or John Dean, listening to malicious gossip about Carl Bernstein or their plans to make Judge Sirica look bad.
This is what is so absolutely troubling about this case. Somebody in D.C. told Judy Miller dirt hoping to settle a score against Joe Wilson. Miller, acting as stenographer, then went and printed the article (admittedly only after Bob Novak). It turns out the smear happens to be a major crime. It is also likely that the person doing the talking knew it was a crime. That would explain why they remained anonymous and told Miller, et al. Now Miller wants to protect this source, who likely only told her the tip anonymously because to do so with his name attached would be a serious crime.

Here is a situation that perfectly captures the current state of the laziness of the American media. Here you have a person smart enough to understand the media and the importance that it places on "access" to top-level sources, especially in a government as secretive as the current one. That person used the media to smear a critic of the government, knowing that, once done, the official could hide behind anonymity and that the reporters would keep his secret if they wanted continued "access." This isn't the purpose of the protection for reporters. But whoever the leaker was knew the way the media protects this privilege and protects its own, and tried to use that to his own advantage. He shouldn't be allowed to get away with it, and the media should be embarrassed for trying to help him do so.

But reporters all talk about the slippery slope. They say "sometimes it is a crime to reveal information that the public needs to know, so this protection is needed to encourage sources to talk to the press." I couldn't agree more. But I've never been one for slippery slope arguments, because everything is subject to a slippery slope argument. It is what people who disagree with you use when they are out of ways to support their argument. Why no gay marriage? Because it is a slippery slope to bestiality. (A real argument put forward by Sen. Santorum, and repeated by people who know better.) Why no legalized pot? Because it is a slippery slope to legalizing every other drug. These arguments are usually pointless and worthless. In most, if not all cases, there are distinctions that make a serious difference that can be made. The slipperly slope argument usually relies on ignoring that there are any distinctions between anything.

And that is the important part of this story. The media is ignoring the distinction between using an anonymous source to support the public interest, and doing so to settle a personal score. The important part about this story is the public interest. Some reporter who supports Miller needs to explain to me what part of the public interest was served when the anonymous source in D.C. told Miller et al that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent? That is an important part of the standard.

And if you ask me who decides what is in the "public interest", I tell you that each reporter decides, and the public gets to decide if the reporter is ultimately subjected to jail time. Reporters have always had to weigh the pros and cons of using anonymous sources. Judy Miller did and does so here, and her judgment is as bad as her reporting on WMDs in Iraq.

Off the Bandwagon?

Sporting Goods

Unlike Willie Randolph (who I still dislike to my very core), I have always been a cheerleader for the Jose Reyes fan club. I figured he was young and would figure it all out and that he just needs time. I still think that. But right now it is getting awfully tough to watch him play. He's the fastest man in baseball but right now he hits the ball in the air almost as much as he hits it on the ground. And it is just killing the Mets.

If he could just hit more line drives and groundballs, he would be a serious threat. For example on Monday, he almost single-handedly won the Mets the game with an infield chopper for a hit and then a stolen base, eventually to score the go-ahead run on a single.

I know I need to be patient and I know that this Mets team isn't going to win this year unless something dramatic happens (please trade Ishii and Glavine -- get something for them -- plus you have two better, younger pitchers just wasting away in the bullpen or the minors, ah I'm getting started on that again) but I need to see improvement. That isn't happening. He seems to be regressing.

Ahh, the dangers of a young team. Lots of potential, waiting for it all to come together is sometimes painful.

2012

sporting goods

I can really only think of a couple of people, like this guy, who are disappointed that the Olympics will not be in NYC in 2012.

It may have done some good things for the city, but there is just as much chance that it could have turned into a horror show. At least this strange saga is over, where you have a city that doesn't want the Olympics that is being asked to get excited about their chances of having it.

At least Bloomberg has his smoking ban legacy.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Lottery pick

sporting goods

Dudz! Chek out Laker's #10 pick (and Huskies outlaw) Andrew Bynum's homepage.

Someone on the Lakers needs to make him take this down, right about immediately. I mean, do they really want the whole world to know that he owns "A GABILLION" CD's?

Update: the site has wisely been taken down, but you can see it thanks to Google's cache here.

Justice O'Connor

Manifesto

Well, as I'm sure everybody has heard by now, Justice O'Connor has retired from the Supreme Court.

This brings a great deal of conflicting opinions for me personally. Justice O'Connor represented the dead center of the Court, along with Justice Kennedy. To get anything done, either side needed her opinion (or that of Kennedy). And O'Connor, by all accounts a terrific Justice and attorney, always left me with the feeling that she wanted to make everybody happy. Even when she didn't side with the conservative members of the Court, she left in her opinions a certain wishy-washy-ness, a certain equivocation, that left the door a little bit ajar for a more conservative Justice, some time in the future, to just blast open and, using some of the logic used by O'Connor, destroy the thing she was trying to save with her equivocation. Her opinions always left me wanting more.


For her to leave now, leaves us all on court watch. I won't babble on here about the various ills that will befall this great court now that she is gone and in light of Bush's likely successor.

I will say this about the successor decision. First, do you think that Lieberman or any of the other Dems that caved on the filibustering of Bush's last group of horrible nominees thought that such an important argument would come so quickly. I'm sure they assumed that if Rehnquist retired, as expected, it wouldn't be that big a deal because it would be impossible to find a Justice more conservative than Rehnquist. But now they are in sort of a pickle, aren't they. It will be interesting to see what they do. Assuming the nominee is in the radical conservative mold, I would hope that the Dems pay this like a bareknuckle street fight and, if they lose, use it in the next election. I can see the ads now, "[Republican Representative] voted to confirm [X] who doesn't believe in the right to privacy. If [X], you wouldn't be able to buy contraceptives or enjoy the right to make personal health care decisions. Etc."

Second, I wonder if this is part of a grand strategy by Rehnquist and O'Connor. E.g. if Rehnquist retires soon as well, it is possible that Republicans may make a grand bargain. Give us a conservative and we'll give you a more moderate "compassionate conservative." I can't imagine that the Bushies would do this, but this could get some traction from the Senate.

And finally, does Bush appoint a woman? Will there be pressure to do so? There is a legacy for Bush to think about. It'll at least be interesting to watch.

ED

universal remote

From a tip from reader O, it appears that one of my favorite old shows, Ed, is on syndication on TBS. As he said, Fire up the TiVo. It was on Thursday at noon but it doesn't appear on the schedule again. It is really weird because they are really far along in the episode arc. I wonder how long it as been on. The TBS website doesn't list when the show will be on again. Anybody know when it will come out on DVD?

Court shows

whatever

So I'm home today, pretty much just rundown, and I finally have the chance to watch some of these court shows. So on Texas Justice, a rap promoter sued his partner for bills for a concert. Seems simple enough. But for some reason the Judge wanted to hear, as part of the evidence, an example of the quality of artist that appeared at the concert. So on comes "Smoot" who stands next to the bench and actually spits some not atrocious rhymes. Of course now the Plaintiff wants a chance to show off his rhymes, so he gets up and busts off a verse. Not as good. Anyway, the judge denies the claim. To me it all appeared like a ruse to get a chance to get on TV and promote a fledgling record label. Pretty creative stuff. Man I wish being a lawyer was actually like this. Although I'd be in trouble if I had to rap my proof to a court.