Monday, June 30, 2008

Am I missing something

Of course not, never do. But I am wondering about the whining that's going on about Wesley Clark supposedly disparaging John McCain's military service. Here's the exchange Clark had on Face the Nation:
CLARK: He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, "I don't know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not, do you want to take the risk, what about your reputation, how do we handle this publicly? He hasn't made those calls, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Can I just interrupt you? I have to say, Barack Obama hasn't had any of these experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down.

CLARK: I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.

I guess I tend to look at McCain's foreign policy blunders like being one of the biggest cheerleaders for the Iraq War or his inability to figure out the difference between Sunni and Shiite and think those matter a little more than his experiences in Vietnam. Of course we live in a world where a flag pin means you're patriotic and any hungover asshole waiting to get into the 11worth Cafe can end up standing in front on an American flag and look like a patriotic George F-ing Patton.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the Republicans get the usual vapors whenever something innocuous like this happens:
"I was utterly shocked," Sen. John Warner, R-Va., told the conference call, "... that he would in such a disrespectful way attack one of his fellow career military officers."

"Beyond comprehension ... further erosion of our nation's political discourse," said former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., in a written statement.

"Complete silliness," retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Carl Smith said on the call.

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Orson Swindle said Clark was "denigrating the character and the experience and the integrity and the performance" of McCain.

"A very indecent thing," said retired Air Force Col. Bud Day.

What really annoys me is that Obama immediately started ripping on Clark for it saying he "rejected his comments." I understand he can't be seen as ripping on someone's service record (what kind of horrible people would ever do that? You'll notice the last guy quoted is Bud Day who happened to be one of the members of the Swift Boat group that attacked Kerry. Odd.) however, this shouldn't really even be that controversial, right? Democrats have made a career of folding in the face of these types or ridiculous attacks and it's disappointing that Obama seems eager to fall into that trap now that he's in general election mode. As a 4 star general Clark could be an important Democratic voice in the foreign policy debate so why kick him to the curb over something this dumb? If you handle this right you can make a point about McCain's horrible foreign policy record without getting yourself in trouble.

Here's Clark's statement. Seems pretty sound.
"There are many important issues in this Presidential election, clearly one of the most important issues is national security and keeping the American people safe. In my opinion, protecting the American people is the most important duty of our next President. I have made comments in the past about John McCain's service and I want to reiterate them in order be crystal clear. As I have said before I honor John McCain's service as a prisoner of war and a Vietnam Veteran. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. I would never dishonor the service of someone who chose to wear the uniform for our nation.

John McCain is running his campaign on his experience and how his experience would benefit him and our nation as President. That experience shows courage and commitment to our country - but it doesn't include executive experience wrestling with national policy or go-to-war decisions. And in this area his judgment has been flawed - he not only supported going into a war we didn't have to fight in Iraq, but has time and again undervalued other, non-military elements of national power that must be used effectively to protect America But as an American and former military officer I will not back down if I believe someone doesn't have sound judgment when it comes to our nation's most critical issues.

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Friday, June 27, 2008


Thanks to one of my legion of tipsters I received a link to this article detailing a controversy over North Carolina license plates in my inbox today.
RALEIGH -- Thanks to some text message-savvy grandchildren, North Carolina drivers whose license plates have the potentially offensive "WTF" letter combination can replace the tags for free.

Officials learned last year the common acronym stands for a vulgar phrase in e-mail and cell phone text messages.

The DMV recently realized the same letters appeared on the sample license plate on its own Web site. Officials are trying to remove the plate from the site.

DMV officials got word of the plates last July when a 60-year-old technology teacher from Fayetteville complained about the plate after her teenage grandchildren clued her in.

DMV officials said they try to keep up with the latest acronyms, and that anyone who has an issue with their plate can contact their local DMV office to request a new one.

Way to stay on top of those "latest acronyms, DMV. I can see that you're really on top of things because I'm pretty sure that just came out this year sometime. Personally I'm wondering if they would replace my license plate for free just because I want one. I can absolutely picture the scene of the grandkids laughing at the plate and then being forced to tell their grandparents what it meant because something similar happened to me once.

For my birthday one year my friend Bennett gave me a car air freshener tag like this one:

I had pretty much gotten used to it and didn't think anything about it until one day I was parked next to a middle-aged couple I knew from church. I'm pulling out of my spot when I see the woman waving frantically at me. I roll down my window and she asks, "what does your thing on the mirror mean?"
I kind of laugh and say, "well, I don't know if I should say it. It's kind of naughty."
"Oh, come on, tell me."
Then here husband pipes up loudly "it means what the fuck!"
She had a moment of surprise and looks at me. I nod my head and laugh then she kind of laughed it off too but I was worried for a moment that I was going to have to drop an F bomb in front of these people I barely knew.

But, seriously, WTF is up with this? The news channel that brought us this story was helpful enough to supply a classic photo slideshow of 20 internet acronyms every parent should know. It starts off with "POS" which always meant "piece of shit" back in my day but apparently I'm already clueless in the ways of our youth because they claim it means "parents over shoulder." The first half of the list is basically some variation of that but then it gets into stuff like LMIRL (Let's meet in real life!), TD2M (Talk dirty to me!), IWSN (I want sex now!), GYPO (Get your pants off!), and my all time favorite NALOPKT (Not a lot of people know this!). Good grief. It's sort of depressing to think that someday I might have kids and end up being this clueless about them that I'd take something like this list seriously and think "Uh oh, I'm going to have to keep an eye out for these..."


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Those crispy chunks of fried whatever at Long John's

Just a few things in the papers that caught my eye. I'll try to keep these somewhat short.

*First, KU unveiled their new premium seating section. Essentially they set up metal bleachers with TVs in the endzone and threw a few leather recliners on it. You can pay $2500 for the recliner or $2200 to sit in a freaking stool in the same section. Absolutely ridiculous. Now, I have no doubt that they will probably sell out just because there never seems to be a shortage of people who want to prove they can afford to waste money on something like that.

The upsides are you get a free buffet and there are rumors that you can get booze too (love how they're high and mighty about keeping alcohol away from everyone except the rich bastards) and you're right on the field at that endzone. The downsides are that chair looks like it would burn your ass if you tried to sit on it in August, you can't see shit on the other side of the field, and everyone stares at you wondering why you're such an asshole that you spend $2500 for one of the worst seats for viewing in the entire stadium.

*As I ran various gels in the lab I had plenty of time to kill so I was able to read quite a bit of the NY Times and a couple things caught my eye. First, was this Maureen Dowd column on these phony "elitism" charges that Republicans are trying to throw at Obama and she nails it.
Karl Rove was impressed with Barack Obama when he first met him. But now he sees him as a “coolly arrogant” elitist.

This was Rove’s take on Obama to Republicans at the Capitol Hill Club Monday, according to Christianne Klein of ABC News:

“Even if you never met him, you know this guy. He’s the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.”

Actually, that sounds more like W.

The cheap populism is really rich coming from Karl Rove. When was the last time he kicked back with a corncob pipe to watch professional wrestling?

That last line made me laugh out loud, not only because it's just a funny line and even funnier to imagine Karl Rove doing that, but because there's like a 50% chance that's what Maureen Dowd thinks the rest of the country does. But, it's true. They're such hypocritical bastards. I read a story once from someone that stood behind Rove at a Starbucks once and he ordered a *GASP* latte! Clearly he can't connect with the rest of us down home 'mericans. And who actually think lattes are "elitist" now? Freaking McDonald's is selling them.

Anyway, she lays out why these accusations are bullshit, especially coming from them, and why they won't matter this time.
Rove’s mythmaking about Obama won’t fly. If he means that Obama has brains, what’s wrong with that? If he means that Obama is successful, what’s wrong with that? If he means that Obama has education and intellectual sophistication, what’s wrong with that?

Many of Obama’s traits are the traits that people in the population aspire to.

*Then two of their frontpage stories were also worth a read. The first looked at people starting to reject the McMansion suburbs at the far end of metro areas due to the outrageous costs it takes to heat them and drive to their jobs. The picture they have is of a giant house being built on a former cattle pasture with a six-car garage. Great. I think it's going to be interesting to see how all of this plays out. Will gentrification force the poor to move to these crumbling suburbs?

*This story was just kind of bizarre. It's about the disappearance of an Albanian custom where, in a family where the men have died, women could take an oath of virginity and dress and act like a man for the rest of their lives. As western ideas about the role of women arrive in the country medieval customs like this one are disappearing. One woman says she would have liked to have been a woman in this time while another one can barely imagine what it would have been like.

One of her duties was to avenge the death of her father so when his murderer was released from prison five years ago, at the age of 80, she had her 15 year-old nephew shoot him in the head. Then his family killed the nephew out of revenge.
“I always dreamed of avenging my father’s death,” she said. “Of course, I have regrets; my nephew was killed. But if you kill me, I have to kill you.”

Umm, hope it was worth it.

*I tried to watch the 2nd half of Germany-Turkey this afternoon but a thunderstorm kept knocking the signal out so we missed 2 goals. All around the world people were cursing their TV at the same time. Really made me feel a part of something...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Your hand is backwards

We are on our way to electing the 5th left-handed president in the last 35 years. The prevalence of lefties has vexed researchers and historians but the chances of it randomly occurring are abotu 1/1000.
Studies have shown that whereas righties favor the left hemisphere of their brain, which controls language, left-handers are more likely to have bilateral brain function, which could allow them to visualize problems more broadly and with more complexity. A higher percentage of mathematicians and scientists are left-handed, and the same is true for artists.

Bilateral brain function could relate to the social and interactive skills needed to be successful in politics, but not enough research has been done, Dr. Geschwind said.

All interesting theories to be sure but I'm fairly convinced there is some sinister (literally) conspiracy behind it. Afterall consider that Bob Dole and John Edwards were two left-handed candidates and we're not even being given a choice in most elections! This minority rule cannot stand! Although, George W. Bush doesn't make a convincing case for us righties...

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Dobson's myopia

James Dobson had a classic tirade against Obama on his radio show this week. He had this to say:
"I think he's deliber
ately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said.
"... He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."

Hahahaha...yes, let's read that again: "he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology."

What type of person would ever do that? Surely not these evangelical religious right leaders! When they suggest that hurricanes are in response to gay pride parades or that 9/11 was caused by feminists they're not projecting their own world view onto the Bible!

I can't get over how hilarious that is to me. But he was nowhere close to being done.
He said Obama, who supports abortion rights, is trying to govern by the "lowest common denominator of morality," labeling it "a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution."

All of this is in response to Obama's quotes saying this:
In a speech, Obama is heard saying, "Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation and a nation of non-believers."

He then adds: "And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's or Al Sharpton's?"

Part of me thinks it would be pretty damn funny to watch these various religious people fight it out over what interpretation of the Bible they would look to if they ever got to impose the religious law they so desperately want.
Dobson took aim at examples Obama cited in asking which Biblical passages should guide public policy — chapters like Leviticus, which Obama said suggests slavery is OK and eating shellfish is an abomination, or Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, "a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application."

"Folks haven't been reading their Bibles," Obama said.

I love that. It's great that these religious types always want to throw up the Ten Commandments but never the Beatitudes that tell us that peacemakers, the meek, and the merciful are blessed. Once again, doesn't really fit into their world view.
Dobson replied to this as such:
Dobson and Minnery accused Obama of wrongly equating Old Testament texts and dietary codes that no longer apply to Jesus' teachings in the New Testament.

Personally, I'm pretty stoked that Dobson no longer buys into those Leviticus texts. Guess we can throw all of those out when it comes to homosexuals, right? Sounds good to me. Oh, right, he only likes to pick and choose those passages that fit into his world view. My bad.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bow down to your new trivia overlord

Tonight I competed in "1 on 1 Trivia" a local cable access program here in Lawrence. It's basically what it sounds like. They take 2 people and face them off in a trivia contest at a local bar. One day I was watching the program and the two contestants were absolutely worthless so I decided that I needed to go on this show. I emailed the producers, they said they would get back to me, and I promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward a few months and they ask me to participate in a taping. The location of the bar was Conroy's Pub, a bar in a shopping center that turns out is a local poker hotspot and host to "Over 40 Singles Night" every Friday. I'm just finding out about this place now, why?

I get there and sign my "talent release" (ooh, sounds so professional). By the time the filming actually started I was kind of amped up and, forget about the jimmy leg, I had the full jimmy body going. They had all of the bright lights cranked up in our faces and the camera zoomed in to uncomfortable closeness to my face. It was then that I started having flashbacks to high school...

In Kansas one of the Topeka stations produces a show called "High-Q" where Nerd Bowl teams from across Kansas compete to be one of the final 16 that gets to go on TV. We went to Topeka to take the qualifying test where it is just out team in a room getting the same questions everyone else is. Not only did we win our size classification but we were one of the top 16 teams in the state that allowed us to come back to WIBW's studios to face off against Thomas More Prep, a private school from Hays or some bullshit. We were a motley crew dressed in jeans and sweaters going against their team that had matching shirts and what not. And we got crushed. Not just crushed but humiliated. We completely melted under the pressure of the cameras and the bright lights. It wasn't pretty. I have the tape in my possession and to this day have never watched it because it was so embarrassing to get beat like that...

So, here it was. The lights, the cameras, the cheering section in the crowd. It was my moment to redeem myself or finally admit that I just don't have it and will always be a AAA trivia master that doesn't have the fastball to get into the majors.

The questions begin and I get a couple that I know. I know that I have a solid cheering section behind me and I start to get into a groove. Next thing I know the first round is over and I have a commanding lead. My opponent is panicking. He has already resorted to trying to make funny answers instead of educated guesses. The next round continues and I find myself giving answers that I wouldn't have even thought I would know. Like some question about the hideout of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? I wasn't really sure but somewhere in the back of my mind I remember reading about a hideout called "The Hole in the Wall" and it was right. At that moment I was one with the questions. It got to the point where I was considering having mercy on this poor kid but then I thought, "eh, fuck it. Pick up your sticks, son."

Somewhat unfortunately things got a little embarrassing during the lightning round when I was forced to answer consecutive questions regarding the network of "The Real Housewives of New York City" and the actor that played Mr. Big on "Sex and the City." The host asked, "how do you know that?" "I wish I didn't," I responded. To be fair, he knows enough worthless shit that he competed in the "World Series of Pop Culture" on VH1.

Going into the final round I had amassed an insurmountable 240-100 lead. I decided not to take chances and bet 39 while he gave in and bet 47 or something. It was some question about a volcano in the Phillipines that I didn't know but it didn't matter and I ended the night as KING SHIT OF TRIVIA MOUNTAIN! WHY WOULD YOU FUCK WITH ME?

Well, technically they filmed another show after mine but it was between two sisters who answered "The Congo" as a city in Kenya and "Spain" as the city that is home to the World Health Organization so I'm pretty sure I could have destroyed them too. Afterwards the producer came up and said that I had the highest score they'd seen in a long time so I have no problem in declaring myself as the trivia-est bastard in all of Lawrence right now. If anyone has a problem with it grab a Trivial Pursuit and come on over.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

NBA Finals thoughts

I'm a bigtime KG guy but it's a little embarrassing watching this "interview" after the game. I get that he is one emotional dude but he needs to pull it together or they need to interview someone else.
"Kevin, how does it feel to be a champion?"
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGHHHHHHHHH! This is for all the people in 'Sota, in Chicago, in Boston, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!"
"How does it feel to add this to your resume?"
Uncontrollable sobbing.

When this series started I couldn't really pick a favorite but I have to admit that I really enjoyed seeing the Lakers humiliated like they were in games 4 and 6.

Danny Ainge >>>>>>>>>>>>>> Kevin McHale

Fucking Boston. Please stop winning all the time.

If basketball teams start doing the Gatorade bath I might have to punch somebody in the face. It's lame enough in football, we don't need to start doing it indoors. Doc looks like an idiot in a tye-dyed dress shirt.

I love watching Ray Allen's jump shots.

Jealous, ladies?

It appears that all of your dallying came back to bite you as it was announced this week that Lawrence's favorite crazy hippie, White Owl, is a 22 year old. After a lengthy courtship of "a little more than a month" the couple will tie the knot in a KC, MO park and everyone is invited!

I first became aware of White Owl sometime last fall as I ate my lunch on Wescoe Beach and watched him go through his normal routine of dancing and yelling "KU! Wake up, KU!" He soon gained national prominence during the KU-Nebraska football game when he was featured as the Fox Sports Wild Fan of the Game. "White my indian name. Jim Jacker or Saul is my real name." His popularity grew as his presence at the football and basketball games apparently sparked something in them.

However, his act did grow a little thin and people began to accuse him of being an attention whore. No! He even "sold out" as local businesses began selling shirts with his likeness and newest catchphrase "make it rain on them ho, ho, hoes." All of this can be seen in this grainy video. Notice the apathy of everyone around him and the Home Depot helmet he's wearing.

I'm kind of mixed on the guy. He's gotta be somewhat crazy and actually kind of annoying if you happen to be stuck next to him but I think he's pretty harmless and just likes to have a good time. He's in a program where he can audit classes for free and he apparently goes to quite a few of them just so he can learn or yell out a random "wake up, KU" and leave.

Who knows, they might actually be right for each other. She certainly seems odd enough:
He first noticed Julia at the end of last semester when she was standing around Wescoe Beach. White Owl said he sensed she was missing something in her life.

“I saw an injured spirit and I am all about helping people and being a light,” White Owl said, “I prayed that night that she would be sent to me somehow.”

White Owl’s prayers were answered. The next day, White Owl was a guest speaker in Julia’s "American Studies" class. White Owl talked to the class about believing in themselves and loving one another. After class, Julia told White Owl how much his message meant to her.

“You are the first person to tell me that,” White Owl remembered saying.

The two became inseparable after that, starting off as friends but began spending more and more time together. Julia began to feel that their relationship had more potential.

“After a little while I began to think. ‘I want to be with this guy in heaven.’ That is when we began to talk about marriage,” Julia said.


Summer Book Review Twofer

Last Books Finished: "Mudbound" by Hillary Jordan and "Can I Keep My Jersey" by Paul Shirley
Pages: 328 and 326
Total Pages: 920
Time it took me to read: 3 days and 5 days (had some time on my hands...)
Next Book: Either a book about a mine collapse my grandparents gave me or a Michael Pollan book or neither of those.

It's a lot easier to tear through these books when you have nothing to do all evening and no cable TV or video games to divert your attention. Even the internet has been boring for the most part now that the primary is over and most of my favorite sports are in the offseason (although there's quite a bit to read about Euro 2008). I suppose that's why I subject you to these reviews instead of finding other things to write about.

First up, was "Mudbound", a new novel I heard about a few months ago on NPR. It's set in rural Mississippi in the 1940's so you can pretty much guess that there's going to be a heavy racial element to the story and the book definitely lives up to that. The story itself is entertaining and fast-paced for the most part although it seems to drift into cliches every once in a while. However, where the book really shines is the method that Jordan uses to tell the story. It is told in the first person through 6 or 7 different narrators a chapter at a time. She did an amazing job getting the voice right of the diverse cast of characters. It would have been easy to screw this up and end up with a disjointed story but she did it well enough that it was easy to jump into the minds of the different characters without losing a beat and advancing the story from several different perspectives. Good book.

Second was former ISU basketball player Paul Shirley's take on his first three years of bouncing around to various professional teams. Paul gained a bit of notoriety for his smart-ass take on the NBA in his blog on during the Suns' playoff run a few years ago.

During the two years we overlapped at ISU he spent a lot of his time hurt and I definitely wouldn't have picked him to spend any significant time in the NBA but he was always one of my favorite players just because we both had similar backgrounds in that we were National Merit scholars from small towns in Kansas that were engineering majors at ISU. The similarities pretty much ended up there since he was 8 inches taller and actually had basketball skills.

I suppose that Paul was somewhat of a hero to the nerdset at ISU since an unpopular (at least among my friends) Iowa State Daily columnist caused a mini-stir when she used her column to ask him out on Valentine's Day. I wonder if she reads that now and is embarrassed. (I later ripped her in a letter to the editor over an unrelated column. In her last issue of the Daily she said she wouldn't miss freshmen that told her she sucked. I always hoped that was referring to me.)

Anyway, Paul was the 6th man for most of the games played by the greatest Cyclone team ever and gained a certain amount of notoriety for his role in the elite 8 game that year. Long story short ISU was holding on to a lead when he hit a bucket and was fouled only for another ref to come in and change it to "no basket, double foul." How a foul can be a block or a charge I will never understand. He fouled out, ISU lost, and he was shown sobbing in most of the newspapers across the country. He addresses all of those in this great column that sort of explains how weird it must have been being a student-athlete. The Monday after the game he's working on his engineering homework in the library and a girl asks him to autograph the front-page picture of him crying.

Where was I? Oh yeah, so I've been following his career for a while and it was kind of bizarre when all of the sudden he was writing for ESPN and getting a lot of national pub. I finally got around to reading his book and I wasn't disappointed. It's a funny, entertaining look behind the scenes of a lower-tier NBA player trying to stay in the league but spending most of their careers riding buses in the CBA or jetting around Europe from Siberia hoping that the team actually pays you this week.

The only complaints I had about the book were that he tended to overwrite or force some of his jokes and he offhandedly mentioned that Marcus Fizer was a genuine nutjob without giving any stories about him. Part of me would love to read a book about his time at ISU but part of me enjoys the mythology that I have about my first two years in college and watching those teams from up close. Although a lot of the mythology I had about athletes was shattered when Darren Davis yelled "suck my dick, spiky" at me from the elevator and I heard too many stories involving some variation of the words "come on, just touch it" (a reason why it wouldn't shock me if the Sherron Collins accusations were true).

Overall I really enjoyed the book and the take he had on things. It's definitely a different perspective than most of the books written about sports.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Netherlands and their totaalvoetbal

Aside from the whole wooden shoes thing the Netherlands seems like a pretty cool place. They've got a remarkably easygoing attitude considering most of their country will be flooded once the glaciers melt. I mean, they don't even really care what you call them. Netherlands, Holland, the Dutch? No biggie.

Since I started following soccer I always seemed to gravitate to them because of their sweet looking orange uniforms and reputation for their entertaining style. They are credited with popularizing the "Total Football" concept where the players' positions are fluid. Everyone has to know how to defend, attack, hold, or whatever which frees players to improvise and attack...or something like that.

All I know is that this Dutch team playing in Europe '08 is ridiculously fun to watch. This is the team that could get just about anyone into soccer. In their first two matches they've whipped Italy and France (the final two in World Cup '06) by 3-0 and 4-1 scorelines and scored some ridiculous goals.

Here's an entertaining one featuring a nice save from van Nistelrooy. And then goals like this are why the Dutch rule so much. Up 3-1, already into injury time most teams would be content to run out the clock but they're all like "fuck it, we'll blast a curve over your head from outside the box." Here's Robben scoring from a ridiculous angle to make it 3-1. What was great is that after going up 1-0 they subbed in two offensive players instead of defensive ones as almost every other team would do and it paid off as both of them scored.

I'll throw up some from the Italy game too. I love watching them get down the field and send it home in the blink of an eye. I'm in awe of their ability to send a cross all that way, right to Kuyt's head, then one bounce to Sneijder's foot a tap into the goal. Then there's this sequence that left the announcer laughing maniacally in delight.

So, here's to you, Oranje. I hope you can keep it up and definitely hope you don't get shut down by some team that bunkers down hoping for the 0-0 draw and penalty kicks. They're worth checking out (although the match against Romania might not be as good since they attack about twice a game and the Dutch have already won their group) especially if they get matched up with Spain or Portugal down the road.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Breaking News! Fox is still racist

You can probably expect one of these posts just about every week from now until the election. Uhh, seriously? She's a successful lawyer with a degree from Princeton and you're going to call her "baby mama?"


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What is Jeffy eating?

I have no idea but I just threw up a lot in my mouth.

Embedded in the Culture War

Many feel that there is a war going on in the United States regarding our culture. On the one side are the Godless liberals trying to force you gay marry and on the other side is the Holier-than-thou conservatives trying to make sure you never hear an F bomb. From time to time I like to keep you updated on how this war is going.

McCain took a hard line against alcohol in a speech on Tuesday when he said, "I will veto every single beer."

Whoa! Every single beer? Can he do that? Fortunately I think we have a veto-proof majority but still... No word of if he thinks we can have just as much fun with a Pepsi.

Mary Grabar is attempting to rally the conservative troops against the liberals on college campus when she writes this:
An Obama presidency would signal the final salvo by the Left in the culture wars. Obama’s advance troops have already taken over our college campuses, have bound and gagged our conservative professors, have ravished our virgins, have pillaged our stores of wisdom, and have ensconced themselves in the thrones of power in deans’, presidents’ and department heads’ offices.

The victory cry is heard across the land in the cheers of Obama’s constituency on college campuses.

This has been going on under the very noses of the Republicans.

Hmm, perhaps I missed something but I've been a fairly outspoken Obama supporter on a college campus since the caucuses in Kansas and I don't remember any of the virgin ravishing parties. Anybody know anything about that? I feel like I may have missed out and had no idea we were running a Genghis Khan-style campaign.

The good news, I guess, is that if Obama wins we can apparently declare victory in the culture war. But, really, can you blame us? Here we are trying to indoctrinate the youth in the ways of communism, or some other bullshit like social justice or respect for others, from the moment they leave the protective shield of their parents and they're just so hot and virginal.

There's just so much in this column to link to as she really nailed us. Did you know we took over comparative literature departments just so you wouldn't love anymore?
As the mush-brained feminists and wild-eyed radicals have taken over English departments and comparative literature departments, they have eliminated or demolished the great works that promoted our values and inspired the passion necessary to propel a movement. The great works of literature that could inspire passion for the love of God, love of a spouse, and loyalty to one’s country, and foster the appreciation for the comedy and tragedy of human life, have been excised from the curriculum. In their place are ideological tracts, video games, television dramas, celebrities, and pornographic performance art. The love of God and a spouse that John Donne could evoke is now replaced by such things as an analysis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s sex life.

Ha, begone with you, Dostoevsky, we've got video games and porn to watch. Fear not, fellow liberals, our plan seems to be working.
When the Randy Malamud’s, who have declared victory in the culture wars, run English departments, you can see why young people place “hope” in a candidate who promises to talk to terrorists—perhaps in the way Drs. Malamud and Doolittle talk to animals.

Yikes, these guys lost touch with reality long, long ago...

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Dumb contest

I saw an ad this morning for a contest where the grand prize included a trip to the baseball All-Star game and a bunch of other crap. But, what really caught my eye is that a big part of the prize they're promoting is to tell David Ortiz where to hit his homer at the Home Run Derby. That just sort of seems awkward to me. "Hey, Big Papi, hit it over there. No? OK."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Summer Book Review; Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations

Summer is pretty much the only time I get to devote much time to doing any sort of pleasure reading of books. It's not like I don't read at all it's just that when I'm in school most of my reading is taken up by newspapers, magazines, and that damn internet. After I get my fill there there isn't much time for the books. However, this summer I made a pretty ambitious list of things I'd like to read and I might try to keep you updated on my progress and what I think of what I've read.

Last Book Finished: Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations by Vincent Virga
Pages: 266 (It sucks that I only get credit for 266 because these were massive pages. Although, technically, a lot of them were maps so maybe it balances out)
Total Pages: 266
Time it took me to read: 26 days (about half of it in the last 2. I, uh, had some catching up to do)
Next Book: We'll have to see if the Lawrence Public Library actually has anything from my list checked in this time or not.

As I just said when I showed up at the library soon after my last final I went through several of my first choices only to find they were all checked out which seemed kind of odd considering that I considered a lot of them fairly obscure books. I don't know, maybe not. Then they don't have a copy of Carl Zimmer's Parasite Rex which really, really annoys me because I read him describing the parasitic behavior of a specific wasp that turns its roach prey into some sort of a zombie that it then drives back to its burrow to feed to the larvae. Parasites are badass.

But, I'm getting away from the point which is another of my loves, maps. Yeah, this is probably one of the nerdiest books and posts ever so just bear with me. Finally, I settled on this book about using maps to explain civilizations (although that's a really vague description of what it tries to do). It took me forever to find it because it was in the "Oversize" section which is cleverly hidden right out there in the open disguised as a bunch of huge books. I had to interrupt the librarians gossiping about somebody's organic garden or some bullshit to find that out.

Since I chose to walk to the library I had to carry this monstrosity of a book, first, to the liquor store to pick up a 12 pack and then to my home. Hey, it was the last day of school, I can't read all the time.

So, Virga went through the extensive map collection at the Library of Congress to come up with a coherent story about how we as humans came to orient ourselves in the world and explain things about ourselves. The maps in the book stretch from a Babylonian cuneiform tablet showing the layout of agricultural fields from about 1500 BCE to the map of the human genome. It's hard to adequately explain the breadth of maps he chose but he divides the book into several sections focusing on the mapping traditions and maps of the ancient Mediterranean world and then focusing on each continent.

Some of the most interesting parts of the book are when Virga looks at some of the subtleties of a map within an historical context. One example was a beautiful Japanese screen. In an effort to keep their secrets their own and push back against western expansion the imperial Japanese had banned mapping but these elaborate and ornate screens were a way to map a town and comment on the social life that existed within.

Also fascinating to me is the evolving of the maps Europeans made of Africa and North and South America as they were described. It was kind of difficult for me to imagine having no concept of the shape of the Earth's landmass. Even a map of the shape of Africa was an extremely important state secret for Portugal because the financial health of their nation depended on having exclusive access to a sea route to India.

One amazing map was done by a guy named Waldseemuller in 1507 that was the first map to label this new land "America." It just has the basic shape of what is now the southeastern US and Carribean islands along with something that kind of resembles South America. However, he makes a couple of assumptions about South America that have baffled those who studied the map for years. Waldseemuller depicts the Pacific Ocean as incredibly vast despite the commonly held belief that this ocean was not "discovered" by Europeans for another 6 years when Balboa crossed Panama. He also is surprisingly accurate in his depiction of both the shape and topography of the western coast of South America. Some have speculated that a Portuguese ship trying to sail around Africa may have been blown off course all the way there and somehow made it back or there are also ancient Chinese legends of voyages to a land that could be South America and even stories of massive Chinese trading parties sailing to far off lands in the early 15th Century. Somehow this information may have made it to this German living in France to make this map.

There are way too many interesting stories to tell here and most of you probably stopped reading anyway so I'll wrap it up. My final verdict on the book is that it is an amazing piece of work that weaves together maps with the history and culture of pretty much the entire world. It's really in depth so I don't know if I'd recommend it to someone that didn't have an obsession with this type of stuff like I do although I think anyone could enjoy some of the absolutely gorgeous maps and the different styles on display across the Earth and time.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Ooh, those terrorists are so damn hip

From Faux News:

In a continuing effort to make their news broadcast as big of a sham as possible Faux News brought in a body language expert to explain what Barack Obama and George W. Bush were doing recently. Obama made news for giving a fist bump to his wife, Michelle, before his big speech and Bush chest bumped a graduate of the Air Force Academy. I'm not exactly sure why we need analysis of these things and the expert seemed to agree. I mean, any idiot on the street can see that it's just an expression but apparently Faux viewers need this explained to them. If you want to waste three minutes of your life on a completely inane segment watch the whole thing but the first part is why I', actually writing about this.

In the promo the woman calls the fist bump "a gesture everyone seems to interpret differently. A fit bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab?"

Terrorist fist jab? What the hell is a terrorist fist jab? Who interprets it like that? Are they seriously trying to insinuate that Barack Obama is giving the terrorists secret hand signals or something? I mean, what, exactly, is she trying to say there?

Of course, it might actually make sense. I see a lot of athletes do that so maybe we should boycott them like we did for Rachel Ray's scarf. These terrorists infiltrators are everywhere. It's almost as bad as the commies before McCarthy got them sorted out.

Anyway, a Google search for "terrorist fist jab" turned up 3,080 hits and every one of them that I saw was trying to figure out what a "terrorist fist jab" is. I mean, they're just pulling this shit out of thin air to confuse the 10% of people that are actually clueless enough to never have seen that before. No Democrat should ever, ever go on Faux News because why pretend like they have any credibility at all when it is obvious they have NONE!

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Friday, June 06, 2008

"Storm of the Century" not even Storm of the Month

When I woke up yesterday morning I had no idea of the horror I would be facing. It turned out to be very fortunate that I turned on the TV instead of the radio because NPR Morning Edition was already over. Had I not done that I never would have known that the Storm of the Century was barreling towards me.

The TV weatherman was breathlessly warning us about three inch hail swirling through multiple tornadoes and "tornado-strength shear winds." "Wow," I thought, "when is all of this coming? Umm, tonight?" The storm was barely forming on the radar and they were already warning us about the impending destruction. I've lived in the midwest my entire life and don't remember anything quite like that, it must be serious.

All day people were talking about the storm coming and we followed its progress across the midwest. The weathermen warned of small storm cells colliding like pinballs and creating super tornadoes. One line of thunderstorms was catching up with a second line of thunderstorms and would eventually merge with it to create a mega storm. This was some serious shit!

I had plans to travel to KC for a friend's birthday but maybe that was foolish. Should I stay here to defend the few possessions that didn't blow away from the inevitable looting that would take place after a storm of this magnitude? Mmmm, probably not. We decided to press on hoping that we could outrun the storm heading east, bunker down in the city while it passes over, and return to our small town to see if it had survived. On the drive we exchanged rumors and information about the storm. This was it. This was the big one.

At the club all of the TV's were tuned to the local news channels (well, it was supposed to be an NBA game but all they showed was the weathermen anyway). People danced in front of bigscreen images of radar maps showing a line of storms stretching from Texas to Nebraska. I guess if this really was it we may as well go out hanging out in Angel's Rock Bar, right? I looked at the map and realized that it was hitting Lawrence as I watched. Had everyone taken cover in time? Was my apartment still going to be there? Would it even be possible for us to drive back? I would know in a few hours.

After some time I decided to see how bad the storm was pounding the city. I stepped out and saw....rain. Yep, pretty much just an ordinary, not even that windy, thunderstorm. "Hmm, I have to say this Storm of the Century isn't quite living up to its billing," I thought.

It turns out that this Storm of the Century was pretty much a giant dud. Despite all the hype on CNN about how these were the exact conditions that produced some of the deadliest tornadoes of all-time and despite Wichita State canceling classes and despite predictions of softball-size hail smashing into my skull we got pretty much jackshit. A run-of-the-mill June thunderstorm that produced a few tornadoes and blew some leaves off the trees and that was it. How disappointing.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

See, now this I don't get

I saw this on Deadspin and wondered what's the point in making a motorized cooler if you can't drive it when you're drunk?
A Whitehall man learned that on Memorial Day, when he was charged with driving while intoxicated after police pulled him over for swerving and driving on the sidewalk on a four-wheeled, motorized cooler known as a "Cruzin Cooler."

Leslie J. "Bomber" Marr, 57, could face felony DWI and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle charges because of prior arrests and convictions in drinking-and-driving cases, said Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle.

The electricity-powered Cruzin Cooler that Marr was riding contained 14 beers, the chief said.

Hmm, multiple DWIs? I have a guess about how he earned the nickname "Bomber." I, for one, applaud the man's ingenuity in making sure he didn't get behind the wheel of a car again. So, his cooler was weaving a little bit in the sidewalk, big deal! Besides, he still had 14 beers left!

Here is the official site where you can buy your own Cruzin Cooler and even a cooler wagon to pull behind because everyone knows 24 beers on ice won't be enough. I can't even imagine how popular you would be if you bought a few extra beers and drove around a tailgate handing them out to people.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

How to know you suck as a columnist and have no good ideas

New York Times columnist David Brooks went on TV and criticized Obama for not being "regular" enough. As if having a president who was supposedly "regular" worked out great for the last ten years. Also, if you get rid of Bush's dumb, fake accent and the giant ranch, that apparently has such a horrible problem with brush that he has to "clear it" every time there 's a TV camera around, how "regular" is someone who goes to fancy prep schools, then Yale, and Harvard? Give me a break.

So, Brooks says, "Obama‘s problem is he doesn‘t seem like a guy who can go into an Applebee‘s salad bar and people think he fits in naturally there."
Huh? He doesn't fit in at the Applebee's salad bar? First, what about him doesn't make him fit in at Applebee's salad bar? Second, why would I give a shit if our president ever ate at an Applebee's salad bar? Third, since when does Applebee's even have a fucking salad bar?

As Eugene Robinson from the Washington Post said of the criticism, "He‘s not an Applebee‘s guy? Is he an Olive Garden guy? I tend to take it more seriously when it‘s delivered by people who actually eat at Applebee‘s more than once in a decade."

This is the part that really gets me. These columnists in DC and New York love to rip on these candidates for getting OJ instead of coffee or whatever but they're probably way more out of touch with the "average voter" than anyone. When do they actually interact with anyone from the midwest or not in their Beltway cocktail parties? They have this bizarre idea of what these voters supposedly want that I really don't think is grounded in reality at all. Apparently to all of us a perfect day is morning coffee, bowling in the evening, followed up by a dinner at the old Crapplebee's salad bar and if the presidential candidates don't enjoy those same things, well, screw them.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bag fries

I'm enjoying the fact that Obama is staging a massive rally to celebrate officially wrapping up the nomination in the same place that the Republican convention will be held in a few months. Supposedly there are 17,000 in the arena and around 20,000 outside. I'm also enjoying that McCain decided it would be a good idea to try to give a speech the same night in front of some strange green background with about 20 people around him...zzzz. For him to have any chance he needs as few direct comparisons with Obama as possible between now and the election.

Unfortunately Hillary continues to embarrass herself in some narcissistic self-destructive suicide mission. Even her own campaign staff keep telling the press that it's over while she won't give it up and get behind Obama. Then there's ridiculous crap like her begging for the VP slot then supposedly saying "don't you dare offer it to another woman." Way to back up those feminist principles, Hillary.

Anybody see the photo of the drunk driver in Mexico plowing into the middle of a bike race? Jeebus, that's some pretty serious carnage.

Tonight the KC channels spent many, many hours covering the lightning-caused fire at a petroleum tank. On the one hand, it was pretty annoying because they put their coverage on pretty much every channel I get but on the other hand the video was pretty badass. The tank had something like 50,000 gallons of gasoline in it and there was nothing they could do except watch it burn in a giant fireball. They did the math and it's like $9.2 million worth of gas burning there.

Here's something for my readers who are looking to kill some time at work (which is probably most of you). I don't think I linked to these cracks at finding the 50 worst album covers of all-time.

As I'm writing this PBS is doing a pledge drive during a showing of some of Bob Dylan's great moments. The man just said something like, "PBS isn't just for your parents anymore. It's for everyone." Bob Dylan is great but you're trying to convince me of this by showing one of the most influential musicians from my parents' generation? Umm, ok. Unless they've completely given up on my generation and are trying to bring the boomers into the fold which seems more likely considering the music the usually show during these things.