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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Carolina v. Valpo

Running commentary from the North CarolinaValparaiso game live from Chapel Hill on FSN.

* I’m glad FSN Rocky Mountain is carrying the game, since neither team is near the Rocky Mountains.

* The Heels are playing Valpairaso. Their nickname is “The Crusaders.” Talk about politically incorrect. “Redskins” is bad, but “Crusaders” is worse: “Yeah, our school is named after armies sent by the Pope to kill Muslims in the middle east.”

* Valpo forward Urule Igbavboa could be WWE wrestler Carlito’s brother. It must be the hair.

* Ron Thulin is on the play-by-play. Dan Bonner is doing the color

* Play by play guys should pronounce names correctly. It is a basic job requirement, like a house painter should not drip paint on your carpet.

Thulin did not know how to pronounce Tar Heel guard Marcus Ginyard’s name. He pronounced it as if rhymes with a place you grow grapes – GIN yerd. It does not rhyme with “vineyard,” however. The accent is on the second syllable, gin YARD.

At least he did not drip paint on my carpet.

Update: Even after they played a clip of coach Roy Williams discussing Ginyard and saying his name correctly, Thulin still got it wrong.

Bonner pronounces it correctly.

Apparently someone talked to Thulin at halftime, because he is now saying it correctly. Sometimes.

* Speaking of professional wrestling, with 5:54 remaining in the game and Carolina up 22, Tyler Hansbrough gets fouled hard on a breakaway and knocked to the ground. An intentional foul was called. Tyler tried to get up and say something (or maybe more), but slipped and fell down again. That was probably a good thing.

* Williams called timeout with 2:32 remaining, called off the canines and emptied the bench. Final Score: 90-58.

Congress at Work

The U.S. Congress passed a law, signed by G.W. Bush, that effectively outlaws incandescent light bulbs starting in 2012. The bill requires consumers to buy compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFL's.

CFL's, generally speaking, are a superior product and cheaper over the long run. I buy them now. Note how I chose to do this without government coercion. It's called the free market,and it works better than governmental fiat.

Imagine that.

Year End Music Lists

When music critics put together their "best of" lists at the end of the year, do they extra credit from their editors for being as obscure as possible?

I read these lists, and my only thought is "who the hell are these people?" (The question applies to both the musicians and the critics.)

Such lists rarely include a popular album. I believe this phenomenon is called "pretension."

How in the world could a popular album be good? If the album is popular, that means the great unwashed masses liked it, and if they liked it, it can not possibly be that good.

Or at least that appears to be the logic behind many of these lists.

I am not saying that popularity necessarily translates into quality. Far from it. Lots of popular music is crap, but that is partially because 14 year old girls have money and buy music.

Nor am I saying that great music is not often overlooked.

I am saying that popularity and greatness are not mutually exclusive, which many of these lists would lead one to believe.


Also in today's Parade year end review, the magazine claims that the HBO "hit The Sopranos faded to black in a controversial finale."

No, it did not. It cut to black. It did not fade to black.

I'm just sayin.'

If you are writing about television, you should know the difference.

Nit Picking Al's Awards

As the "Year In Review" articles come out, Al Gore is a popular subject.

I am reading Parade magazine this Sunday morning, and it claims that Al "earned an Emmy, as well as an Oscar and the Nobel Peace Prize."

Except that he did not.

The Oscar for "An Inconvenient Truth" was given to the director of the documentary, Davis Guggenheim, not Al.

I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Borderline Creepy

"Heroes" television stars Milo Ventimiglia and Hayden Panatierre are an "item."

He's 30, she's 18.

When asked his thoughts, director Roman Polanski said, "hey, age is just a number."

I Love Stacy London

To paraphrase Adam Sandler, "That's a fine lookin' Jew."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Love This Game

Stephon Marbury said that he would be willing to return to the New York Knicks after the New Year.

The Knicks, after considerable deliberation, said "don't worry about it."

Ramblings on Pacifism

Jesus, Ghandi, MLK, Jr., and others have used pacifism to great success.

In my opinion, pacifism is a great device for social change. However, it only works on a personal level.

It does not, and can not, work on a governmental or societal level.

I can declare myself a pacifist. I will therefore not use force against others. That is the easy part. The harder part is not using force to defend myself or others.

A pacifist makes his point because he is willing to die for it. If he is killed, he becomes a martyr and his legacy lives on. Perhaps becoming a martyr is the best thing that can happen to a pacifist. The publicity from death is killer. (Bad pun intended).

A government can not effectively be pacifist. An individual can decide to die for his cause. The governmental equivalent would for a country to let itself be taken over by a foreign power.The government ceases to exist, but the concept of martydom is inapplicable to a government.

Therefore, a government (or a society) must defend itself from an aggressor whereas an individual need not.

A government does not speak for "itself." A government speaks for its people.

A person can not morally require another person to be a "pacifist" (or anything else for that matter). Likewise, a government can not morally require any of its people to be "pacifist."

It therefore follows that while a person has no duty to protect himself from aggression, a government has a duty to protect itself from aggression.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

As Sinclair Lewis Said...

"When fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Omen

Thanks to my friend Rick in Asheville, NC, who let me know that New York Islander Miroslav Satan scored his 666th career point lat night.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Stand Back, He's a Professional Communicator

As the UCLA Bruins missed a short field goal that would have given them a victory over BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl, ESPN broadcaster Brad Nessler said of a despondent Bruin, "that guy really played his guts out tonight . . . literally."

No, he didn't, Brad. If he had, they'd a needed an ambulance.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pitt 65, Dook 64 (OT)

As a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate (twice!), you might think I enjoyed watching Dook lose tonight.

However, I prefer when Dook wins their non-conference games. I like it when they are ranked near the top. It makes those Tar Heel wins in that crappy fire trap of a gym in Durham that much more satisfying. Seriously, I know YMCA's that would be embarrassed to hold an aerobics class in a facility as decrepit, old, and smelly as Cameron. Of course, Dook will never build a modern 20,000 seat arena because they could never fill it up. It is too far of a trip from New Jersey for their alumni to make it for a week night game.

Actual USATODAY Headline

The upswing is attributed largely to the Spears sisters, Britney and Jamie Lynn.

Put a hat on it, girls!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Simmons, NBA Trade Value, and the Nuggets

Bill Simmons, the original Sports Guy, recently released his popular NBA Trade Value column, in which he ranks the top 60 NBA players, in order, by their trade value. (Hence the name of his column.)

As usual, some or our Nuggets are mentioned.

Simmons asks "Do you realize (Denver Nugget) Nene signed for more money ($60 million) than (Leandro)Barbosa ($33m) and Anderson Varejao ($22m) combined and, yet, he's the worst Brazilian of the three? It's all because he went with the one-name gimmick and they didn't. I'm convinced." I can't disagree. One name is cool.

Simmons likes Nugget Marcus Camby (ranked 38th) and compares him with my fellow North Carolina alum Rasheed Wallace (37th): "Approaching their mid-30s, both possess higher than usual value because of their big-game experience, defensive prowess, basketball IQ, testicular fortitude and surprisingly appealing contracts." I think Bill should give credit to former WWE champ Mick Foley for coining the phrase "testicular fortitude."

Allen Iverson follows at 36.

He's got Carmelo Anthony ranked 14th and says "When he's surrounded by great players (like with the USA teams the past two summers), Melo always rises to the occasion. But when he's leading a relatively dysfunctional Nuggets team. . . . it's almost like he plays to the level of his teammates. . . . I don't totally trust that he'll ever 'get it,' for lack of a better phrase. Then again, he's only 23." How long does he get to use the excuse that he's young? At some point, he needs to start playing better defense, getting crucial rebounds, and dishing out assists. We know he can score. When is he going to show us he can lead a team to playoff wins?

As a sidebar, Simmons lists the "Top 25 Worst Contracts in the League." Since the NBA is comprised of 30 teams, on average, a team should have slightly less than one of the worst contracts in the league. The Nuggets have more than double that. Nene's contract (5 years/$51 million remaining) is 23rd worst, and Kenyon Martin (4 years/$59 million remaining) has the single worst contract in the league.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Solutions Ain't Easy

Rhonda Hackett, in today's Denver Post, has the best (not the perfect) solution to gun violence in our society.

Besides possessing firearms, what do all the school and church and mall shooters have in common? Mental illness.

Until we fully address the extent of mental illness in our society and insist upon making effective treatments more readily available, we will again be forced to bear witness to the devastating fallout of doing nothing.

Of course the problem with this suggestion is that it would be difficult to implement. It is much easier to argue that all we need to do is ban firearms and the violence problem would vanish. The "ban all guns" argument is futile. But so what? It's easy to implement. Just pass a law. Wash your hands of responsibility and feel smug.

Hackett's solution requires an attitude change, money and effort.

So it probably will not happen.

Be Kind. Rewind.

Michael Hayden, CIA director, defended the agency's decision to destroy videotapes of interrogations of suspected terrorists by saying

"Were they ever to leak, they would permit identification of your CIA colleagues who had served the program, exposing them and their families to retaliation from al-Qaeda and its sympathizers."
This begs the question: Why were the interrogations videotaped in the first place?

American Ban Stand

Matthew Murray murdered four people this past week.

According to the Rocky Mountain News, he was carrying three weapons and "a backpack capable of holding a thousand rounds of ammunition" at the time of his killing spree.

It is clear what we must do as a society.

We must ban backpacks.

Utopia is Not an Option

Gun ownership is an emotional issue in the United States. I understand that. I respect that.

David L. Goodman, of Golden, wrote a passionate letter to the editor of the Denver Post that was published today. (Third letter down once you follow the link).

In it, he states that it is "time to realize that it is possible to live in a safe society devoid of firearms."

Most people with such a belief wish to ban private ownership of firearms. They believe that passing a law would make the problem go away.

I suggest that making gun ownership illegal would be just as successful as the ban on illegal drugs. How has that been working out?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Federal Government

So David Letterman and Paul Allen get farm subsidy checks from the feds. You know where that money comes from? You and me.

Letterman donated his money to charity, but the fact that such a subsidy exists is absurd. Like our government in general.

Can He Eat 50 Eggs?

In the words of Strother Martin, as "the Captain" in Cool Hand Luke, "some men . . . you just . . . cain't . . . reach."

Doug Ottewill, of the Mile High Sports Empire, is one such man.

In today's Mile High Sports Daily email, he discusses our collective love of dogs and the Michael Vick sentence. He asks "how much different are Vick's actions from those of a hunter who illegally poaches an antelope?

The poacher's intent is to kill an animal quickly, cleanly and efficiently so he can eat it.

Vick's intent was to torture an animal for his personal amusement.

Ottewill has to ask "what's the difference?"

If he can not tell, he just can't be reached.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bobby Petrino, Arkansas and Geography

The University of Arkansas announced that Bobby Petrino would be their new football coach tonight.

Petrino, in kissing up to his new employer and Razorback fans, said in his news conference that the University's fans could be found "all the way from Fayetteville, to Little Rock, to West Memphis."

If you draw a line given those three cities and the state's roads, that's not exactly a large area. It doesn't even cover half the state of Arkansas. Maybe the coach should have studied a map on the way to the press conference.

View Larger Map

Now, if he had said the Razorbacks had fans "from Fayetteville, to Texarkana, to Crosset, to Paragould and back again," he would have hardly left anybody out.

View Larger Map

Does Al Gore Know About This?

Gregg Easterbrook, of the Brookings Institution, also writes the Tuesday Morning Quarterback column for ESPN.com. He usually discusses many topics that have nothing to do with football in his TMQ column. This week is no exception.

He wrote, among many, many, many other things:

Eta Carinae, a gigantic double star similar in mass to the distant supernova star, is located "near" the Earth in cosmic terms, about 7,500 light-years away. Eta Carinae is burning with extreme intensity and startled astronomers 164 years ago by giving off intense light, in what is now considered to have been some kind of failed-supernova event. If Eta Carinae detonates in a supernova similar to the one recently observed at intergalactic distance, the radiation could sterilize worlds all over the Milky Way. Maybe Earth . . .

If the Greens find out about this, I bet they blame it on SUV's and factory emissions.

Losing the War on Drugs

Here is an excellent article on the politics of the "war on drugs."

The article goes into detail about the behind the scenes drug policy decisions of the last 14 years.

Tony Payan, a professor at UTEP, summed it up:

"It's like a balloon effect - we've never succeeded in cutting off the traffic, we've just pushed it around. We cut off supply in the Caribbean, and it came here. We cracked down on the Colombian traffickers, and it just meant the Mexicans traffickers got wealthier, and the violence came here."

Trying to cut off a market force is as futile as trying to cut off the gravitational force.


Why do some people look absolutely shocked when they try to get on an elevator and they discover that there are people on the elevator trying to get off?

The doors open, these people storm on immediately, then look up aghast as they see others that wish to get out of the elevator.

They reluctantly stand aside, making just enough room for the people to get off the elevator, then storm in.

Relax, people. The elevator will wait. Calm down. Take a deep breath. Wherever you are going can wait. It will have to.

Elevators do not have turbo buttons. Neither should you.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Advanced Econ

The front page of today's Rocky Mountain News teases a story in the business section. The teaser says

Free skiing at Crested Butte not ringing registers

I realize that basic economics is misunderstood, but that is ridiculous. I don't care how many units you move, if you give them away, you will not even need a cash register, much less hear it ring.

The story itself, on page 1 of the business section, clears it up:

Free skiing draws crowd, little cash

Yep, that's a tough business model.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

On Chigurh's Name

I have read several reviews of the Coen brothers' movie adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel "No Country for Old Men."

Several critics have described the antagonist's name as being "unpronounceable."

Jim Emerson, in his Scanners blog, wrote "Chigurh, with the nearly vowel-less-sounding, unpronounceable name, is a Western figure of mythical stature."


Not only is the name pronounceable, it is actually pronounced in the movie.

The bad guy is Anton Chigurh. "Chigurh" is an unusual name, no doubt. As I read the book, I pronounced it "chigger" in my mind. Like the bug. In the movie it is pronounced as "shi-GUR," with the accent on the second syllable.

Okay, that's fine. It ain't unpronounceable, however.

What makes Emerson's characterization of the name even more absurd is that he gives the phonetic spelling - shi-GUR - just seven paragraphs earlier in the same article before saying the name is "unpronounceable."

You want unpronounceable? Try reading some eastern European hockey players' names out loud. Those are unpronounceable.

Happy Birthday, Brassiere

The bra is 100 years old according to this article.

I could have sworn that the foundation garment was invented by Otto Titzling. In fact, I learned that from the original Trivial Pursuit game. The question was "who invented the brassiere?" The answer: Otto Titzling.

Now I realized I have been duped.

According to Wikipedia, Mr. Titzling is fictional.

The bra was actually invented by Jimmy Boobholder.


And while I'm dispelling myths, Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet, either. He was, however, an actual person. (At least according to Wikipedia. And yes, I realize that Wikipedia may not qualify as anymore authoratative than Trivial Pursuit, but it is good enough for blog work).

When Similes Go Bad

Entertainment Weekly has a feature on the "20 Worst Holiday Movies" of all time.

One of them is described as "rancid as leftover fruitcake."

What kind of fruitcake goes rancid? It just sits there, for years, like a brick.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Bob Knight: A**hole

Just the Facts

It annoys me when good, well-respected writers make incorrect factual statements.

I just stumbled across Stephen Hunters' review of the movie "No Country for old Men" in the Washington Post online.

Hunter, in discussing the plot, wrote that the protagonist Llewellyn Moss "promised a dying man a drink of water" and therefore returned to the scene of a horrific murder in the West Texas desert.

Moss did return to bring the guy some water.

He had not promised to do so.

Far from making a promise, Moss was dismissive of the dying man at the scene.