Good Saletan piece on Slate taking down the "Bush was great on 9/11" mantra. I've been wondering about this myself: those who say "We're so fortunate to have had Bush as President when 9/11 happened" are short on details as to what a President Gore would or would not have done differently that would have led to our being ruled by al-Qaeda or whatever. I think he would have gone after al-Qaeda and Osama in Afghanistan, but would not have stupidly invaded Iraq (acknowledged, whether the latter is important in fighting terrorism is a whole 'nother argument). So what else you got? Why, specifically, is Bush the American September Eleventh Savior?
(I expect to file this next to the "Hillary Clinton is a big lying liar" challenge.)
If you know me well (and most of those reading this blog do; without friends I'd have no readership at all), you know that I was in a band in college. So here's a good opportunity to tell a band story. How about the Tale of the Worst Show Ever.
Jeff, the bass player, spent part of his sophomore year in Spain. While abroad, he became good friends with another Jeff in the same program, who attended Denison College in Ohio. By March of the next year, the Incoherents were in full swing, and Denison Jeff convinced our Jeff who convinced the rest of us that we should come out and play at his fraternity house for their big spring party weekend. At first it was "We'll pay you $300 plus room and board," but then that got bumped back to "Gas money plus room and board," and finally "We're having a pig roast Saturday, you can have some roast pig." But we were always game for a gig, even if it was an eight-hour drive.
So we drive across Pennsylvania into Ohio on a Friday, and arrive at Denison in time for their big Friday night party. A good party, even if the entertainment was a Dead cover band. Interesting note: Denison's rules were "no kegs in fraternity houses," which would put a damper on parties because case beer is much more expensive than kegs, right? At this house, they gave you a can of Busch as you entered the house, and you were told to hang onto it. They kept their kegs in the back room, and had, like, forty-foot long tap hoses that they ran out to the bar so you could refill your can. When the campus cops showed up, they just hustled the tap hoses into the storage room and locked the door. Cops come in, everyone's drinking out of cans, everything is OK here! College kids will always find interesting ways to drink.
But I digress. We were supposed to play Saturday afternoon, right about the time the roast pig was to be finished. The Friday party wound down, and we had no idea where we were staying. Around 2 AM I found a seemingly empty room in the house with some couches and tried to crash, but the windows were open and it was freakin' cold (why didn't I close them? I don't know, I was probably drunk), and I was awakened at 4 AM by the pig-roasting pledges blasting "Back in Black" on the outdoor stereo. Not a good night.
I forget what time we were supposed to play, but when it rolled around Saturday afternoon there was... no one there. Like, no one. The four of us, Jeff's friend Jeff, and maybe three of his fraternity brothers. We went "Screw this, we'll wait for more people to show up." A couple of hours later, there were 15 or so people there, so we went on. During the bridge of our first song, the first freakin' song, the fraternity's social director approached me and says "The reggae band that's playing tonight is here and they need to set up. You'll have to stop."
Oh, was I pissed. This whole trip was a joke and a waste of time. I wanted to get in the car right then and go home. But someone suggested we go play on the back porch, and they helped us haul all our crap out there. We did a few songs, and it started to snow. A few more songs, and it started to sleet. I was kind of enjoying this; I was all "Look at me! I'm Bono in the 'New Years Day' video!" But then Joel and Greg both said "I can't feel my fingers," and we called it a set.
It wasn't a total loss. The reggae band did not, in fact, set up right away; they hung out and watched us play. And they liked us, enough that they had us hang out in their dressing room with them between sets that night, giving us booze and weed for those who wanted it and generally treating us like fellow musicians. And someone let us sleep at his off-campus apartment that night, so I didn't freeze my ass off again.
The low point of NBC's coverage of this Olympics came Saturday, after the men's 4 x 100m relay. The American team botched a handoff, got nudged out by the Brits, but still won the silver. The sideline reporter talked to them afterwards, and their attitude was largely "We just got beat today, they ran a great race. But we ran a good race too, we did the best we could, and we're happy to have a silver medal." Each of the four sprinters said a few words about his part of the race. Good sports, right?
Then the reporter says, "Are you really happy with silver? How can you not be disappointed at missing the gold medal?" The sprinters all kind of shrugged and mumbled. You know what they were thinking: Sure, we wanted to win the gold, but we're trying to be happy with what we've accomplished. The reporter triumphantly said, "That's what I thought. Not happy. Back to the studio."
Ass. ASS! Go die! Where does this "Gold good, everything else is for losers" mentality come from, and why does it persist?
It's Friday afternoon. Do you feel like workin'? Me neither. Here's my fantasy football team; tell me how great it is or how much it sucks. If you don't like football, or just don't like fantasy football, go look at something else.
QB: Vick, Plummer, and Leftwich. Our league has ten teams, and two keepers per team (for the non-fantasy footballer: a "keeper" is a player from last year's team you get to carry over to this year's). The guy who had Vick last year didn't keep him (he kept Clinton Portis and Marvin Harrison), and incredibly, all six guys in front of me took running backs, except for one insane individual who drafted Keenan McCardell. I gladly took Vick with the #7 pick, which will make for some exciting football watchin' this year. I just hope he doesn't get hurt again. Leftwich was to be my backup, but then I realized Vick and Leftwich have the same bye week, so I got Plummer.
RB: S. Davis, C. Martin, W. Green, Bettis. Of course, taking a QB in the first round meant that I missed out on much of the running back-frenzy that our league is preoccupied with. Davis was a keeper, and I got Martin in round 2; my running game pretty much ends there. Green may or may not start. In the final round, I submitted my pick by phone, and said "Just pick me someone who's a running back. I don't care, I'll probably waive him before the first game anyway." That became Bettis.
WR: Chad Johnson, Laveranues "my first name looks like it's spelled wrong" Coles, Isaac Bruce, Reggie Wayne. A good group here. Johnson was a keeper, marking the first time in the history of fantasy football that someone has kept a Cincinnati Bengal. Coles is my obligatory Redskin, so when they're the only game on TV here I have a reason to watch.
TE: Todd Heap of the Ravens. He's good. I'd watch Ravens games anyway, but it's nice to have one of them. I also have LJ Smith of the Iggles as a backup, but, you know, backup tight end, who cares.
K: Jason Elam. He kicks long field goals in the thin air of Denver.
Defense:Kearse, Spikes, Sharper, Brooks, Shawn Barber, Ronde Barber. Our league is all up ons the running game, and as a result I think people neglect their defensive players. I got a bunch of linebackers who lead their respective teams in tackles every year; hard to go wrong. Plus Ronde Barber who is awesome, and Jeavon Kearse who is an Iggle and has arms that are like five feet long.
(Title apropos of nothing, just stuck in my head for some reason.)
We were at the beach earlier this week, and since I've been back I've been too swamped trying to catch up, so no time to surf the web and post crap. Thus, once again I've got nothing for LFF.
Good time to update the blogroll, then, with top-notch left-of-center blogs who won't even notice the two or three references I give them every months. Let's add ye Slacktivist and ye Poor Man. We'll give ye 3hive a perma-link too, because it's cooooooooool.
Don't have enough for a full-blown Linking Fool Friday entry, I'm afraid. But I do want to point out this comparison of Bush & Kerry campaign rallies.
There's an article on Slate singing the praises of gymnastics color guy Tim Daggett, largely for his being an unabashed homer, and for being so over-the-top. I haven't watched too much gymastics coverage, but for what I have, my complaint about Daggett is he's a little thin on the insider analysis for us non-gymnast types. During the men's team coverage, he went on and on about how terrible it was that the American guys learned the day before the competition that their high bar routines weren't up to snuff. Fine, it's terrible, but he never explained what was wrong with their original routines--not enough letting go of the bar? Not enough twisty stuff? What what? Similarly, he'll refer to a given element in a performer's routine and indicate it wasn't perfect, without elaborating, and for the life of me I can't tell the difference. Short of them falling off the equipment, they all look pretty remarkable to me. (Interesting that the older I get, the more I'm amazed by world-class gymnasts.)
The other day I asked "Who the hell likes crap like the Olympic opening ceremonies?" Apparently, they're out there, and they write letters to the Washington Post.
As linked by Atrios and countless others on the left side of the blogosphere, the MRM's letter to the Kerry campagin is the most brilliant yet most common-sense thing you'll read all day.
The blogosphere is an incredible tool. Countless writers, many of them very good, latch on to the RNC talking points as soon as they come out, and destroy them point-by-point. I've seen numerous suggestions for campaign ads that have been better than any actual Kerry ad on TV. Why not use some of that stuff? Just go ahead and steal it, no one will mind! They all want the same thing the Kerry campagin does!
But apparently, if the campaign itself didn't come up with it, it's not good enough. That's a shame. You have a keyboard army writing your copy for you for free. Use it.
Unlike some people, I watched the Olympic feeds on CNBC and USA this weekend, and it wasn't that bad. This weekend I saw equestrian, Serbia vs. Argentina in basketball, the men's and women's cycling road races (with no American contenders), women's weightlifting (again, no Americans in sight), and, in all seriousness, women's team handball, China vs. Hungary. The flagship broadcasts may still be crappy (and even what I watched on NBC proper didn't seem as awful as in previous years), but the cable channels have a lot of air time to fill and they're showing some interesting stuff.
Of course, if you don't have cable, you're screwed.
Julia Child R.I.P. She was 91.
If you're in the DC area, go see Julia's kitchen at the Smithsonian if you haven't already.
The summer Olympics open tonight, and with it will come a raft of article and blog posts about how bad Olympic coverage is. Here's one now. The biggest copmlaint, one that I am party to, is "Why don't they just show the damn events?!?" Things may be better this time around, with NBC spreading coverage across seven channels, but the flagship network will have condensed highlight packages, many medal ceremonies involving Americans, and innumerable "Up Close and Personal" segments about the hardships various athletes have overcome.
Everyone I know hates this crap. How come I've never read a single article or blog entry saying "I loved that story about the pole vaulter who overcame malaria. More, please!" Seriously, somewhere NBC must have market research saying that someone, somewhere, eats this stuff up. I'd really like to see that data. It might also explain who likes gaudy Super Bowl halftime shows, and who the hell watches Emeril.
I didn't pile up many good links this week, so this will be short. Via CT, the Decemberist has a good post pointing out that sick leave is becoming a thing of the past in the American labor market. On the whole, risks are being shifted from the employer to the employee. Good point. And like the frog in the pan of boiling water, we don't seem to notice. Kevin Drum has a good follow-on post, about how the economy feels unstable, even if certain indicators say everything is fine.
Elsewhere, I've had discussions on the merits of the Beastie Boys' new album To the Five Boroughs. Some think it's freakin' great; I think it's disappointing (not terrible, just not what I've come to expect from the Three MCs and One DJ). This here review captures everything I think about it, and saves me the trouble of writing it up.
A couple of years ago, the Potomac Cannons (hereafter referred to as "the Cannoons") had a 10 AM mid-week game. "Breakfast at the Ballpark," they called it. I took the day off and went to the game; there were maybe 250 people there. Not a good idea by the marketing people.
So when I saw a 12 noon Wednesday start for this week, I figured it would be a good time to take a "me" day, and attend a relaxing ballgame. Right? Well, either that two hours makes a big difference, or the Cannoons' marketing staff got their stuff together, because seemingly every school-age child care summer program in northern Virginia was at the game, all in clusters of brightly colored matching T-shirts. A good activity for them, I'd say. They cheered and chanted and clapped at every opportunity, even when it was highly inappropriate. The most alarming moment came between innings when they played the theme from Spongebob over the PA; every one of these kids shouted "SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS" in unison. It was freaky.
The first three innings went by in 40 minutes. At that pace, it was going to be a two-hour game. However, the Hillcats posted the proverbial snowman (i.e. an 8-spot) in the top of the fifth, highlighted by three Cannoons errors, including two by the shortstop on consecutive plays. Hard to believe this team won the first half, first time they've made the playoffs since I've been following them ('97-ish). I don't know if their best players from the first half have been promoted (not unlikely, it is the Reds' organization), or if they're mailing it in because they're already in the playoffs (not likely, since they're still competing for jobs), but I suspect that come September we will be treated to a first-round stomping by the Wilmington Blue Rocks (the Royals' affiliate, who always seem to be pretty good).
I had a foul ball go off my hand in the top of the 6th. I was sitting in the front row along the first base side (the far end of field box 1). A left-handed batter smoked a foul grounder in our direction; I leaned over the rail and had the ball smack off my palm. Dammit! So close.
After 7 it was 9-1 and seemed pretty hopeless, so I went outside to shag foul balls. The Pfitz is such a tiny band box that most foul balls go clean over the fence, so if you hang around outside on the first-base side you'll eventually get one. Of course, the game got interesting at that point, with the Cannoons getting five in the bottom of the 8th to mount a comeback. The Hillcats responded with three in the top of the 9th to put it away, and we even had a bench-clearing donnybrook after a Hillcats player was hit by a pitch and took exception. And by "donnybrook" I mean "everyone coming out and milling around near first base, without any pushing or shoving or punches thrown." The kids all chanted "Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!" But fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. Had I still been in my front-row seats, I'd have been shouting "Won't someone PLEASE think of the CHILDREN!?" Oddly enough, I am unable to find a narrative recap of this game online; the teams and the Carolina League are probably too embarassed by this display to want to put it on record.
I got my foul ball, though, oddly enough while I was on my cell phone checking my voice mail like a big yuppie dork and not paying attention. A ball came over, hit the tree I was standing next to, and landed right at my feet. Three feet over and it would have clocked me in the head.
Here are some things that led people to bigfool.com last month. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to cook up some lamp shanks.
chop suey heroic suicide
Lamp shank recipe
monkeys and george bush
video of izzy kicking catcher in the face
Outkast song when Andre 3000 wears football pads
mammoth springs noodling
d.c. chinatown restaurants using rats in meals
Sign this petition now! Do it for Rick James.
A favorite line of the pro-war folks, whenever someone else voices their objections, is "So you're saying the Iraqi people were better off under Saddam?" These people need an education in the concept of opportunity cost. The next time you hear that line, show 'em this.
Seriously, go here, find the entry for [2004-07-24 16:26:01.0], and tell me what the hell that says.
Just when you think you know your way around Olde Blogg Towne, you learn something new. Check out The MP3Blogs Aggregator, a feed for blogs that post MP3s (mostly legal, presumably). Considering my recent woes in finding good new music (I've given up on CMJ New Music Monthly), this is a good catch. Hell, there's so much it's hard to wade through it. Best to find a site that seems to post things you like and check it regularly; for me that's 3hive.
It's been a while, so let's get caught up here.
Everybody loves Barack Obama, and I'm no exception. This was my favorite part:
If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who canít read, that matters to me, even if itís not my child. If thereís a senior citizen somewhere who canít pay for their prescription drugs, and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if itís not my grandparent. If thereís an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.
It is that fundamental belief, it is that fundamental belief, I am my brotherís keeper, I am my sisterís keeper that makes this country work. Itís what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.
Beautiful. For all the talk of "compassionate conservatives" (which of course means Bush has his picture taken with people of color), there are too many on the right who would rather have women and children on the streets than let anyone abuse welfare. We should help our downtrodden because we can, because it's a measure of how good we are as a people.
How about that Kerry-Edwards ticket, first- and fourth-most liberal in the Senate? But wait, according to whom? Fake-news anchor Jon Stewart is the only one with the sense to ask.
Another non-sensical meme spread by the Bush campaign is "Kerry has been a lousy senator because he hasn't passed enough bills." Unless, of course, you compare it to Dick Cheney's time in the house, when he passed TWO bills. Criminy, they'll just say anything, and it's like pulling teeth to get the press to call them on it. Cheney even blamed high gas prices on Democrats, displaying a willful disregard for all other forces in the oil market (not to mention that the Republicans control all branches of government these days).
My mom's coming to town tomorrow and staying for a few days. She was going to go into DC on Monday and go to museums and stuff, but now she's saying she doesn't want to because of the damn terror warnings. I've told her that I think they're crap, but I'm not going to argue too much about it. "But why on earth would someone think terror warnings are politically motivated?" you ask? JuliusBlog lays it out for you.
Finally: You probably already know that I am a big fan of John Kruk. A player who reminds me of the Krukker is Ron Coomer, who played third base for the Albuquerque Dukes when I lived in ABQ some years ago; he led the PCL in RBIs that season and helped lead the Dukes to the league championship. Otis and I made a banner saying "COOOOOOMER" and would put it on the railing down the third base side; he came over and talked to us one day, seemed like a real down-to-earth guy. After finally getting to the Show with the Twins (and making the All-Star team!), he's kicked around with the Yankees and Cubs and probably some other teams that I'm forgetting. But I hadn't heard a thing about him this year, and it took a good bit of searching before finding a news item saying he was "taking a year off" (translation: I'm a free agent but nobody's called). I did find this amusing Ron Coomer fan page. Is this the end for Cooooooooooooomer? I hope not, but if it is I'll say thanks, and good luck.
I've been contemplating an "I'm sick of Larry Bowa" post for some time now, but I figured 96% of my readers wouldn't care. However, Mediocre Fred put it thusly in his trade deadline review:
PHILADELPHIA sends OF Ricky Ledee and minor-league P Alfredo Simon to SAN FRANCISCO for RP Felix Rodriguez
PHILADELPHIA sends minor-leaguers P Josh Hancock and IF Anderson Machado to CINCINNATI for RP Todd Jones and minor-league OF Brad Correll
Another pair of trades, and again they illustrate the same point. The key for Philadelphia is not the deals that did happen, but the one that didn't, the one that would have guaranteed the Phillies the pennant:
PHILADELPHIA sends manager Larry Bowa to THE UNEMPLOYMENT LINE for any other sentient human being
...thus causing me to laugh my ass off.