Friday, June 30, 2006

Red Coco

SPORTING GOODS

The jocks on WEEI have just opined that if the movers and shakers at Red Bull don't get in touch with Coco Crisp for some kind of testimonial, they're crazy.

Bring on the Marlins!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

World Cup Preview revisited

SPORTING GOODS

Just wondering if my comparisons between World Cup qualifiers and major league teams make any sense at all. With no major shockers in the quarterfinals, we're actually looking OK. The final 8 teams:

Mets, Cardinals, Giants, Braves
Yankees, Twins, Angels, A's

That wouldn't be a shocking ALDS/NLDS lineup at all. Not bad!

Actually, the matchups in the quarters should be great (including two rematches of previous World Cup finals). Unfortunately, the round of 16 games for the most part were not the kind of games that are going to be breeding any new soccer fans in the US.

Gitmo

MANIFESTO

A triumph for the rule of law:
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled [today] that the Bush administration lacks authority to try Guantanamo Bay inmates before military tribunals in a ruling that sharply scales back presidential wartime powers.

Today's 5-3 ruling was a victory for Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden who is fighting a government charge of conspiracy. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the court's majority opinion. Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.
I doubt if I'll have anything more to say on this as people much brighter than I have already begun to discuss the decision. Nevertheless, any time the neo-fascists have a reversal like this it's a good day for all of us.

Oh Rudy Gay, where art thou?

SPORTING GOODS

Since the Red Sox game was over early last night (Welcome to Fenway, Lastings Milledge.), I had a chance to watch a bit of the NBA draft. It's always an entertaining view, especially since it's held in New York, and the current Knicks can always be counted to elicit the ire of the assembled masses. Last night was certainly no disappointment. When Renaldo Balkman's name was announced in the first round, the ESPN guys were stunned to the point of speechlessness. It was actually pretty funny. At any rate, kudos to ESPN for coming up with some highlight tapes of mystery man Balkman in virtually no time.

I really don't follow the NBA at all, but if I had to pick a favorite team, I'd pick the Nets. The fact that the team now has two former UConn players on its roster won't alter my choice.

And speaking of UConn players, I pretty much lost Rudy Gay in all the trades. As near as I can tell, he's a member of a team called the Grizzlies, which apparently is in Memphis.

On a totally unrelated topic, I see that yet another design of the skyscraper being built to replace the World Trade Center has been announced. It actually looks pretty cool, and I'm looking forward to the time after 2011 when I can stand on the Brooklyn Bridge, look back toward Manhattan, and see its shining spire.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wednesday natterings


MANIFESTO

Both Molly Ivins and local columnist, Jim Shea, are struck by how the Republicans are able to accuse Democrats of a cut and run policy while suddenly proposing a "drawdown" in Iraq themselves. Shea thinks it's a gift:
Say what you want about the president and his handlers, but they are masters when it comes to conveying their message in a phrase.

For example, before America really knew George W. Bush, America knew that he was a "compassionate conservative."

And when we did get to know old W out on the campaign trail, we were informed that he was not the inarticulate blue-blooded boob he appeared to be; no, he was just "plain spoken."

Not only has the party of Karl Rove been brilliant at identifying itself, but it has been equally adept at labeling the opposition before it can define itself. Remember Al Gore inventing the Internet? Remember how quickly John Kerry became a "flip-flopper"?
Furthermore, as Tim Grieve points out in Salon.com, (discussing an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times),
While the Democrats also have access to voter databases, Wallsten and Hamburger say the GOP's "Voter Vault" database is much more powerful; it includes data from "retailers, magazine subscription services, even auto dealers" and gives the Republicans a way not just to identify sympathetic voters in a last-minute rush but also to find "previously unaffiliated voters or even wavering Democrats" they can court more methodically with carefully crafted messages.

The take-away lesson? "That even in the face of Republican scandals, sour approval ratings, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and growing public rejection of President Bush's policies in Iraq, the Republican Party still holds the lead in the art and science of obtaining power—and keeping it."
And yet ... And yet, even though the erstwhile party of Abraham Lincoln is so successful in spinning its message and in getting out the vote, it still has no idea what it's doing. Viz.,
[T]he [Congressional Research Service, an analytical arm of Congress responsible for providing unbiased information to lawmakers,] estimates the military is spending about $8 billion a month on Operation Iraqi Freedom and about $1.5 billion on Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. That is about $2 billion more per month than in fiscal 2005 and about $4 billion more than in fiscal 2004.
This while Dear Leader continues to promise that tax cuts will go on while beneficial social programs are either cut or severely weakened.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Playoffs?

SPORTING GOODS

Hey Mets fans, Baseball Prospectus' algorithm places the Mets odds of making the playoffs at 99.5%. It tags them for 99.9 wins. Time to start printing those tickets!

Ay, Papi!

SPORTING GOODS

I'll let Surviving Grady describe just how lucky Red Sox fans are to have David Ortiz:
And another thing: Words are officially useless when it comes to describing Ortiz. Going forward, anyone wishing to describe the unstoppable awesomeness that is Papi should be forced to do so using only George Lucas-approved CGI effects, complete with spaceships, whirling planets, and plenty of 'splosions, because that's what the man is all about. As a last resort, interpretive dance is acceptable, but only if it includes a sequence in which one dancer, representing Ortiz, kicks another dancer, representing a pitcher, in the groin.
Normally, Chill and I are quite supportive of each other's teams, but for this mid-week battle it is on! On another note, I really hope that Pedro does not hear one boo when he is introduced on Wednesday. And I don't want to hear anyone try to rationalize that Johnny Damon and Pedro Martinez should get similar treatment. Pedro ruled this town, Johnny Damon was fun.

Rush and Viagra

MANIFESTO

Pardon me for the vulgar comment, but, given yesterday's episode concerning the infamous radio talk show host and the discovery of Viagra in his suitcase, might he be more accurately be referred to as "Limpbaugh"?

UPDATE — On a more serious note, Digby blogs this event and makes note of the fact that Rush was apprehended while returning from "one of the underage sex capitals of the world." Even the big fat idiot himself admitted on his Tuesday program that he'd "had a great time in the Dominican Republic. Wish I could tell you about it."

Connecticut librarians redux

MANIFESTO

This news came out yesterday, but I didn't get a chance to post it.
After fighting for nearly a year to keep details of a counterterrorism investigation secret, the federal government has abandoned efforts to obtain library records in Connecticut, concluding that the implied threat had no merit.

The decision was hailed yesterday as a victory by the four Connecticut librarians who mounted one of the few known challenges to the nation's strengthened antiterrorism law when they filed a lawsuit last summer objecting to the government's request for patron records and its insistence on absolute secrecy.
I'm extremely pleased with this, needless to say, and see it for what it's claimed to be: "a victory not just for librarians but for all Americans who value their privacy."

It's worth noting, however, that the the vaunted FBI doesn't see this denouement in exactly those terms:
Ultimately, the FBI was able to investigate and over time, discount the threat that was transmitted over this computer that was part of the Library Connection’s network. Conducting that investigation was less efficient because of the failure of the Library Connection to comply with the NSL ... It is disingenuous for the ACLU to suggest that preventing the FBI from obtaining information about who used a computer to send information about a potential terrorist threat during a 45 minute period constitutes "a victory not just for librarians but for all Americans who value their privacy."
So there. Oh well, I guess librarians will always be radical and militant in the FBI's eyes.

Juxtaposed with this victory over the tyrannical National Security Letter (a latter-day lettre de cachet if ever there was one) is Dear Leader's hissy fit yesterday concerning the disclosure of yet another illegal spying operation by his administration.
President Bush said yesterday that it was "disgraceful" that the news media had disclosed a secret CIA-Treasury program to track millions of financial records in search of terrorist suspects.

The White House accused The New York Times of breaking a long tradition of keeping wartime secrets.

"The fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this war on terror," Bush said, leaning forward and jabbing his finger during a brief question-and-answer session with reporters in the Roosevelt Room.
Again with the war on terror card. No one buys this crap, and anyone with a brain in his head knows that the so-called war on terror is unwinnable on its face and is being used simply to justify the tyranny of the Bushies—a tyranny exemplified by snooping around people's bank accounts.

Monday, June 26, 2006

What's wrong with this picture?

SPORTING GOODS

I see that in one NBA mock draft, UConn has four players going in the first thirty picks.

George Mason University has nary a one.

Not that I'm bitter, you understand.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The state of the blogosphere

MANIFESTO

Kevin Drum tries to explain the reactions to the liberal blogosphere these days, indicating that the anti-blog bias that's now rearing its ugly head looks like it'll be "nothing but bad news." Why is the opprobrium occurring right now? Drum surmises:
Maybe it's just a perfect storm of YearlyKos, Ned Lamont, and the TNR-Kos feud. But whatever the cause, it's not doing us any good. Mainstream reporters, despite their generally liberal temperaments, have an odd sort of contempt for actual liberal politicians, who they widely view as being wimpy, pandering, fence-sitting, poll-driven wonks who are hesitant to really speak their minds and insist on giving lots of boring policy-oriented speeches that don't make good copy.
I'm not sure I wholly agree with this position: It appears to me that the liberal bloggers are doing a great job; any group that can get under the skin of such a passionless automaton as David Broder must be doing something right.

Given the potency of the liberal blogs, then, I find myself once again with little to add to what's being said these days. So many others are writing about the issues I'm interested in and doing a much better job with them. The Connecticut blogs, for example, are doing such a great job that anything I might add is superfluous.

Anyway, I say this to explain why I haven't posted much recently.

Bring 'em Home

MANIFESTO

Not to be missed. Without Little Steven, but with (of all things) a sousaphone.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Sports nuggets

SPORTING GOODS

In addition to the fact that Bruce Arena seems not have any clue as to how to organize an offense, the sports punditocracy is all over him today for not having the decency to shake the hand of Ghana's manager, Ratomir Dujkovic, after the US's defeat yesterday. Mike Golic on ESPN radio this morning said it was the most disgraceful thing he'd ever witnessed in sport—a hyperbole to be sure, but still a truly classless act.

Meanwhile, Claudio Reyna has just announced his retirement from competitive soccer. It's too bad, I guess, that his last game was the one where he committed a particularly egregious giveaway.

Finally, Brett Myers has had a memorable start to his weekend sojourn in Boston.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Yankees go home

SPORTING GOODS

Well that sucked. Luckily as a Red Sox fan I’ve felt this bad after a sporting event many times before, most recently Game 3 of the 2004 Yanks-Sox ALCS. But at least I didn’t have to go directly to the office afterwards after that letdown.

Here’s my 3 words or less review of the key components of the US World Cup 3 and out.

Kasey Keller – left helpless.
Eddie Pope – Retire
Oguchi Onyewu – Ready for premiership
Steve Cherundolo – Impressed
Eddie Lewis – Nicely done
Jimmy Conrad – Fine substitute
Carlos Bocanegra – One huge mistake
DaMarcus Beasley – No heart
Clint Dempsey – My new favorite
Pablo Mastroeni – Whatever
Claudio Reyna – Hit or miss
Landon Donovan – Played scared
Eddie Johnson – Underused, but lazy
Brian McBride – Lonely

Bruce Arena – Overrated. Outcoached. Unemployed.

Refs – Horrible. Card happy.

Dave O’Brien (announcer) – Clueless and annoying
Marcelo Balboa (announcer) – Didn't muzzle O’Brien
Eric Wynalda and Julie Foudy (ESPN studio) – right on

In the end we had a killer group, yes, but if we can’t beat Ghana then we don’t deserve to make the next round. If we only score one goal ourselves, then we don't deserve to make the next round.

I’m sure I’ll have one or two more things to say about the World Cup before it ends, but my heart won’t be in it.

Matthew 7:3-5

MANIFESTO

Just a little item that caught my good eye recently:
The United States said Tuesday it favors Guatemala over Venezuela in a contest to fill a rotating seat on the U.N. Security Council opening next year. U.S. officials say the choice could be critical because of possible Security Council action on the Iran nuclear issue and the Darfur crisis in Sudan.

The Bush administration is making clear its preference for Guatemala in the politically sensitive contest for the Security Council seat, but it is also denying using pressure tactics with Latin American states to try to prevent a win by Venezuela.

Under U.N. rules, Latin American countries are to pick a country from the region to fill a rotating council seat that opens next year.
And why would the Bushies prefer that Venezuela not get this seat?
The Bush administration has had a tense relationship with President Chavez, accusing him of undermining democracy in Venezuela and meddling in the affairs of neighboring countries.
Needless to say, the fact that the United States sanctioned a military revolt that briefly unseated Chavez in 2002—meddling if ever such a thing occurred—isn't mentioned by anyone in Washington.

And just for good measure,
Another spokesman ... said that during Mr. Chavez' tenure, Venezuela has often displayed disruptive and irresponsible behavior in international forums.
As if the Bushies never exhibited any bull-in-a-china-shop behavior.

And to think we have to put up with this farce of a foreign policy for another two-and-a-half years.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Polite New Yorkers

MANIFESTO

Although this seems so unlikely that media are making a big deal of it, it really doesn't surprise me too much.
New York is the most courteous major city in the world.

That is the result of a new, admittedly unscientific Reader's Digest poll that has everyone from Mayor Michael Bloomerberg to tourists from Paris ... crowing in agreement Tuesday.
Even during the dark days of the Dinkins administration, I can remember being given unsolicited travel advice in a subway station by a concerned elderly New York gentleman who'd seen that Mrs. Monocle and I were obviously clueless as to how to get to where we were going. And this was when New York had a reputation of being a town where one couldn't walk the streets at night. Like I say, the news doesn't surprise me as I've often been in the city with Big Apple denizens who've gladly given aid to befuddled out-of-towners.

And Paris? While I've never been to the City of Lights, apparently the stereotypes are true: Parisians really don't care about helping others. Which reminds me of the old cliché: Foreigners hate the US, but like Americans, while they like France, but hate the French.

Anyway, to the Big Apple I say, keep up the good work.

The Winning Side (part 2)


SPORTING GOODS

I wasn't perfect last time in picking the starting XI for the USA-Italy match, but seemed to be on the same page as Arena. He went with Bocanegra/'Dolo whereas I had Berhalter/Lewis, but we had the same idea, sacrificing one fullback who pushes forward well since the midfield would be a bit more offensive minded. I wanted John O'Brien over Pablo Mastroeni as the holding midfielder, and Jimmy Conrad over Eddie Pope as a centerback.

Arena obviously coached a great game, but I will point out that Mastroeni was sent off for a stupid tackle, and Eddie Pope was probably the primary culprit in the Italian goal, then let a ball go by his foot in the box that could have easily been a US goal off of a corner kick, and finally was sent off to put the US down a man for 43 minutes. So who knows, if Arena had fired up his laptop and taken my amateur advice, we may have just won that game! Right...

Anyway, here's my XI for the Ghana game tomorrow, which the US must win to have a chance of advancing. The only decision I struggled with was leaving Clint Dempsey out of the lineup. I had been pimping him to no end prior to the Italy match, he got his chance, and he didn't disappoint.

But, sticking Eddie Johnson in as a striker makes me a bit wary about bringing in Dempsey's poor defensive skills, especially with defensive-minded Mastroeni out after his red card. So, I'll go with Johnson, bring in O'Brien as the holding midfielder to play the middle with Reyna, and would bring in Dempsey early in the second half if we remain tied (or God forbid if we're losing).

US wins, Italy wins, and we're in. 10am tomorrow, or as I would like to call it National "I have a bit of a stomach ache, I'm hoping I'll be in around lunchtime" Day.

Pick your own side here, and leave your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, June 19, 2006

10 days of fun

SPORTING GOODS

I watched Saturday's USA-Italy draw with my lovely wife and our gracious host, Chill. Just how thrilling a game it turned out to be, and how great an event the World Cup is overall, was best exemplified by Chill (if you don't mind me saying so Chill). Although he doesn't profess to be a big soccer fan, doesn't really follow the US team, and if anything may have considered himself a supporter of the Italian team against any other foe, Chill yelled himself hoarse, cursed out every member of the Italian team and the ref, and had yet to sit down by the end of the match. That is what the World Cup is all about, and the US team with their tremendous performance earned every bit of praise it is receiving from the press right now. I hate when sports players are called "courageous" but I can't think of a better word, so I'll just stop.

It is likely I will not be showing up to work til noon on Thursday. And as much as I hated them on Saturday, go Azzuri! If the US and Italy win, they will both go on to the next round.

As for the second biggest story line of the US-Italy match (after the US's balls performance), I will quote a soccer song:

I want a rope, a tree
to hang the referee
I said I'm blind, I'm deaf
I want to be a ref

My other thoughts on the World Cup so far, updating my previous comments:

I had pegged as overrated, and was right: Poland. They really didn't impress, and I believe were the first team officially eliminated from the second round. Same goes for Serbia and Montenegro, which I think I compared to a minor league team; a lot of people thought their strength made Group C the "group of death" but after a 6-0 thrashing by Argentina, I think that has been put to bed.

I pegged as underrated, and was totally wrong: Costa Rica could have benefited from Poland's poor play, but instead will be going home in a couple of days. I was picking with my heart on that one I'm afraid.

We DID get the group of death. I think it's now clear that the US is in the
toughest group. All four teams are alive after two games.

South Korea has the best fans. I know the Brazilian fans get a lot of credit, but I've never heard as much noise on a neutral field as the South Koreans were making against France today. How do they drown out the French fans, who barely had to travel? On a related note, how is it that every South Korea win seems to involve the ref either disallowing a goal that should have counted, or not seeing a goal?

I have to agree with the enjoyable ESPN blogger Simon Davies, who has called England's performance "absolute pants." When I first started talking World Cup, I pointed out that England probably had the highest number of "world class players" after Brazil. Well 4 players I put in that category - Lampard, Gerrard, Ashley Cole, Michael Owen - pants, pants, pants, pants.

France, I wish I didn't pick you for the finals in my office World Cup pool. I'm proud to say that I'm currently in 3rd out of 149 (mostly Brits), but the way France is playing I may be in trouble.

Go USA! Watch this space for my lineup selection, I actually was nearly spot on for Saturday (well apart for leaving out both players who got red cards), so I'll give it another shot.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Unbelievable

MANIFESTO

I think everyone knew that Connecticut's junior senator was sanctimonious; now we know that he's also insane.

The latest commercial that he's running in the state shows that the man has run seriously off the rails. Lowell Weicker? What is Lowell Weicker, a man who hasn't held political office in the state since 1994, doing being attacked in an ad that looks like it was drawn by an eight-year-old? The commercial shows just how desperate, callow, and mean-spirited our supposedly pious junior senator is. Anyone who considers voting for him after viewing this travesty obviously has no values.

BTW, Josh Marshall has a series of posts regarding the commercial starting here.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Play with your food

FOOD FIGHT


There is a growing food movement that couples science and culinary. It’s usually on the weird side and not altogether mouthwatering, but fascinating in that play with your food kind of way. Certainly brings together the scientist and the foodie. So, The French Culinary Institute (this is not only a shameless plug, but something relevant) is now building a Culinary Lab. It’s going to be a playground for chefs with high tech equipment to test out things, learn, and see what they can do. (David Bouley currently has a test kitchen of his own that’s also open to professional chefs, but his angle is more on new recipe development. Haven’t seen it, but heard it’s a gorgeous kitchen with a blackboard wall for brainstorming and writing procedures/recipes as you go.) Anyway, The FCI’s Culinary Lab is headed up by David Arnold who is a bit of a mad scientist. This Food & Wine article gives a glimpse at the cool stuff he’s up to – carbonating wine and beverages with a 21st century cocktail shaker (“seltzer just dilutes the drink”), hot buttered rum that doesn’t separate, vacuum evaporated port, perfectly done meat that’s basically cooked in warm to hot water, and the edible water balloon. His equipment isn’t standard issue, but with dry ice I’ve just read you can test out carbonating fruit at your own place or start by buying some done by the professionals.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The winning side


SPORTING GOODS

Bruce Arena may not care, as he is probably already planning his retirement, so here is my rendition of the Italian-stomping side we should put out on Saturday. Create your own here, and post a link in the comments!

He needs to take some chances (Clint Dempsey), and it's likely that the Italians will overload midfield, so we may want to start with 5 across. At half-time, if that's not working, out comes Reyna or Convey for Eddie Johnson. I don't trust him to start, but his fresh legs for the second half could work.

Eddie Pope, Cherundolo, and DaBeasley all need to see the bench after their performances on Monday. We need to score on Saturday, and Beasley isn't helping us offensively. I'd like to have a stronger pure defender in back if we're going to have someone like Dempsey playing (and Beasley on the bench), so I'll go with Berhalter or Bocanegra over Cherundolo. Pope seriously hurt his hand and did not look good on Saturday, so let's give Jimmy Conrad a shot in the middle.

Perfect? Probably not. But we need something bold to happen. Go USA! Don't miss Saturday's game at 3pm, as their run may not last much longer.

A sure thing

SPORTING GOODS

Was there any doubt that when Julian Tavarez came in with a 2-1 lead in the 12th, that he would blow the save?

Was there any doubt that Francona's insistence on having a wild pitcher intentionally walk a man to load the bases would backfire?

To no one's surprise but Tito, Tavarez was forced to groove one with a 3 ball count and the bases loaded, leading to a walk off grand slam. And 11 innings of 1-run ball is wasted just like that.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Are you ready for some futbol?

SPORTING GOODS

With 13 hours to go, I just wanted to re-post my World Cup preview. It's linked here, in its entirety, for those that missed any parts of it.

Also, to get you in the mood, don't miss these videos of highlights of the two most exciting players in the world, FC Barcelona/Brazil's Ronaldinho, and Arsenal/France's Thierry Henry (my personal favorite).

Mercy Rule, cont'd.

SPORTING GOODS

Now it's really the Cochran Rule.
Connecticut high school football coaches who win games by more than 50 points this fall will be able to appeal the one-game suspensions they receive.

The CIAC Board of Control upheld the new score management rule at its monthly meeting Wednesday and also approved an appeal process that will apply to all sports.

Appeals must be made by a school's principal within 48 hours after a game.

Hand-Madison coach Steve Filippone, the football chair of the Connecticut High School Coaches Association, gave a presentation to the board because of the negative reaction from coaches to the rule, which was passed in April at a committee meeting.

Filippone, a member of the committee but not present when the rule was passed, said the coaches supported the spirit of the rule but believed some coaches who did not intentionally run up scores would be unfairly punished.
Most of the arguments presented were akin to ones presented on this site: kids might get hurt; a coach can't tell a second-stringer not to play hard, etc.

It's clear that the regulation now applies to one coach and one coach only in the state. "A message seeking comment from Cochran was left at New London High School."

SSS, cont'd

MANIFESTO

Sen. Joe Lieberman's challenger for the Democratic party's U.S. Senate nomination is gaining ground ... according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

The poll, released Thursday, found that among all Democrats, Lieberman is favored by 57 percent to 32 percent for Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont. A month ago, Lieberman drew 65 percent to Lamont's 19 percent.
Obviously, this is still quite a spread, but Lamont has managed to almost double his number in a very short time.

Now you see it ...

SPORTING GOODS

While flipping channels on Monday night, I was shocked to discover that the commercialtron behind home plate at ball parks transmits different signals depending on what channel one is watching. The Red Sox-Yankees game was on three different channels in my area that evening—ESPN, YES, and NESN—and each showed a different sign at the same time. Thus, while ESPN might be promoting SportsCenter, YES was touting Home Depot, and NESN was advertising Continental Airlines.

I had always assumed that baseball's behind-the-batter signs were like the NBA's—that what you saw was what you got. I wasn't aware that this technology existed and was certainly not aware that it was being used.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

3 Days and the world stands still...

SPORTING GOODS

With just a couple days to go, good news for the US squad:
Claudio Reyna looked to be feeling no ill effects from the hamstring strain that sidelined him for the last two American friendlies...and the same was true for John O'Brien and his various ailments...Eddie Lewis sat out some of the drills, but that was due to the 70-odd minutes he logged in Monday night's closed door scrimmage with Angola.
I'm happy to see Eddie Lewis playing a good number of minutes, and it was also reported that Bobby Convey, who has really impressed me the last couple of weeks, will be getting significant playing time. Whether that is as a starter or sub is still up in the air.

Meanwhile, the US's first opponent Czechs are having injury problems. Having previously deferred on the question, I'm currently falling in the camp of the US won't advance past the first round. But I've been more encouraged the past couple of days, and if the ball can only bounce right on Monday...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Thabeet goes on?

SPORTING GOODS

Those who follow UConn men's basketball might be interested in this article wherein fans are told that the "UConn-bound foursome of Doug Wiggins, Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Hasheem Thabeet," all playing on the same team, have done some serious damage in the current IS8 Spring Classic in New York City. In one game,
Dyson ... put on one of the best single-half performances in the 20-plus years of the tournament with 33 points in the first 16 minutes. Dyson finished with a game-high 45, including six three-pointers.

Thabeet [I assume it's pronounced Ta-beet, but, no matter how it's pronounced, the name has got to be a headline writer's dream] was in the midst of his second triple-double of the day (15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks in the first game and 17, 13 and 14 in the second).

"Jim Calhoun needs him like he needs a hole in the head," one spectator said of Thabeet.

Wiggins, the lightning-quick guard from East Hartford High, scored 23 in the first game against the Shooting Stars and was heating up after a slow start against the Playaz. He finished with 14.

Robinson, Alabama's Mr. Basketball, struggled in both games. He had two points in the first game and seven in the second but played solid defense, got on the floor for loose balls and showed some serious elevation on both ends.
The fifth member of the latter-day Fab Five, Curtis Kelly, is also lighting it up in the tournament as he "had 10 points and nine rebounds in the first game Saturday and 14 points and nine rebounds in the second."

Now Huskie fans can hope that the Storrs-bound quintet can play with the élan last year's team was missing.

UPDATE — It's official: Josh Boone has officially declared himself for the NBA draft.

The current red herrings

MANIFESTO

I'm hard pressed to think of anything so laughably disgusting as the ruse Dear Leader began Saturday with his call for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It's half-assed; it's bigoted; it's the essence of pandering (to a group that seems to be fed up with Dear Leader, anyway), and it certainly directs Congress's attention away from issues that matter. Oh, and while we're at it, let's have the national legislators waste even more of their time by discussing a flag burning amendment. (Looked at another way, I suppose they might as well discuss these vacuous topics because it's clear thay have no desire to act on anything of substance.)
Democrats derided the [former] measure as a distraction from more serious problems and a desperate effort to stir up socially divisive issues to stave off defeat in November. "A vote for this amendment is a vote for bigotry, pure and simple," Senator Edward Kennedy, the party's leading voice on social issues, said yesterday.

In attempting to appeal to its conservative base, Republicans risk alienating centrist voters by focusing on political symbolism in wartime. The need for a law banning flag burning has been questioned in a country where flags are rarely burned - the New York Times called it "a solution in search of a problem, if there ever was one".
In viewing such a transparent development as this one, it's clear that Citizen George thinks Americans are as stupid as he is.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

SOAP, cont'd.


UNIVERSAL REMOTE

I trust everyone's seen this story. And now the product placement begins ...

I see that the movie opens in the US on August 18. Unfortunately, I'll be out of town that day.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Last hurrahs

MANIFESTO

I've been thinking for some time that the Bushies are using their last years to screw up the US as much as is possible. I don't think it's necessarily to create some kind of subversive legacy, but rather to prove that they can do it, or, à la J. Edgar Hoover, use the power (and information) they've garnered in future endeavors.

At any rate, I can see no reason other than those proposed above for the Bush administration asking big Internet and telephone companies to keep detailed records of customers' online activities for two years. As Kevin Drum says: The Bush administration is moving into even newer frontiers in their ongoing mission to know everything that every American citizen ever does.

By the way, Mr. Drum has been hot recently as he's got another excellent post here.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sergio's Movie Preview: June

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

In a new feature, Sergio does the work for you and decides which movies are worth a trip the multiplex.

MUST-SEE MOVIES OF THE MONTH

Cars

Pixar is six for six. Nobody in Hollywood goes six for six. I mean, not ever. It's for this reason alone I'm a little worried for a letdown. But then again, how many times are you going to get to see Owen Wilson have the hots for Bonnie Hunt?
Trailer
(June 9)

Superman Returns
X2 was the best superhero movie since Richard Donner's original Superman. Bryan Singer clearly has the chops for these kinds of movies. Especially interested in seeing Spacey's take on Luthor. I've missed Spacey the last few years. And the music is awesome.
Trailer
(June 30)

I'LL BUY THE POPCORN

The Break-Up
Vince Vaughn has always been a cinematic idol of mine. The word isn't so great on this one, so we'll see.
Trailer
(June 2)

A Prairie Home Companion
I know nothing about Garrison Keillor but with this cast (Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson, Maya Rudolph, Lindsay Lohan, Lily Tomlin, John C. Reilly, Virginia Madsen, etc.) and this director (the legendary Robert Altman), I'm definitely going to be getting an education. I hope it's funny.
Trailer
(June 9)

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
Documentary about the legendary Zen baritone and ladies man. Anyone who's heard "Everyone Knows" and not been awed by the genius of the lyrics needs to get their head examined.
Trailer
(June 21)

MAY WAIT FOR NETFLIX

Nacho Libre
Jack Black wrestling shirtless with a Mexican accent sounds hilarious. Then why am I not more excited?
Trailer
(June 16)

The Devil Wears Prada
I'm into this only because Meryl Streep looks deliciously evil as the Boss From Hell. Plus, the wife is into it, so I might as well accept the fact that I'm going to see it.
Trailer

(June 30)


NO F%$KING WAY

Click
One of the most painful trailers I've ever seen.
Trailer
(June 23)

The Lake House
Keanu and Sandra reunite! Kill me now.
Trailer
(June 16)

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
I never saw the other ones so I'd probably be lost.
Trailer
(June 16)

WORST OF THE WORST

The Omen
Hackteur John Moore had the nerve to use real-life footage of 9/11 to make his crappy remake seem "relevent." Repugnant.
Trailer
(June 6)

Trio

MANIFESTO

Three things that caught my attention this morning:

New Orleans keeps sinking.
[N]ew research suggests parts of the city are sinking even faster than many scientists imagined—more than an inch a year ...

"My concern is the very low-lying areas," said lead author Tim Dixon, a University of Miami geophysicist. "I think those areas are death traps. I don't think those areas should be rebuilt."
Given this situation, it seems to me problematic whether much effort will be devoted to rebuilding the city at all.

The Bushies strike again and are the incumbents ever mad about it.
Connecticut lawmakers said Wednesday that federal officials are reducing anti-terror funds to the state by more than a third from last year, shortchanging vital homeland security needs.

"The Bush administration and this Congress continue to underfund one of the most crucial needs of this nation," Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said in a written statement. "I will continue to argue for more, not less, funding ... I will advocate especially on behalf of Connecticut's security."

Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn., said the cuts to Connecticut were "absolutely unconscionable and irresponsible." He vowed to fight for more money, asserting the state has many potential terror targets such as nuclear power plants and a nuclear submarine base.
New York City and Washington, DC also got their anticipated funds cut. Apparently the feds don't see those cities as having vulnerable sites. It doesn't take much brainpower to see a correlative between those states (or districts) that got their funds cut and how they voted in 2004.

Finally, there've been repercussions concerning the new Mets theme song, which DarLucky first spoke of here.
The new Mets theme song, "Our Team. Our Time," is so bad that fans are petitioning online to have it killed, the creators are getting death threats and it has been banned to only pregame playtime.

Fans of Pedro Martinez and the first-place Amazin's compare it to the Chicago Bears' "Super Bowl Shuffle" or "a bad rip-off of Run-D.M.C. circa 1985." One fan even insinuated that Britney Spears' talentless hip-hop hubby, Kevin Federline, could've done a better job.
Whew! Now that's harsh.