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27th October 2003

7:01pm     Moving Day

*** Terrible Swift Word has moved. ***

Check out the new location.

1:07pm     Why vote for a flawed ____ ?

Great piece on third parties and elections over at Chicago Boyz.

Unfortunately their archives are one month at a time. Scroll down to the 25th and look for "Get Used to It."

12:50pm     What is Not Seen

How about this quote by appellate nominee Janice Rogers Brown:
"where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates, and our ability to control our destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege, war in the streets, unapologetic expropriation of property, the precipitous decline of the rule of law, the rapid rise of corruption, the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit."

Props to the California Insider and Sacramento Bee for that one.

It reminds me of a book I read back in college, a collection of essays by Frederic Bastiat, that cemented my conservative, free market thinking and helped me understand and articulate what I believe and why. In the very first essay, Bastiat talked about unintended and often unseen consequences of actions and how the human tendency is to focus on intended and visible byproducts of decisions.

9:15am     World Series and the Death of Reasonable Expectations

Props to Josh Beckett. You knew the guy had game, but even I didn't expect a complete game shutout to end the series.

Knowing that Beckett was coming in with short rest, I was kind of surprised the Yankees didn't try to go deeper in their counts to make the young pitcher throw more pitches and hopefully get him out of the game. Turns out it probably wouldn't have worked, but it seemed logical.

Too bad Pettite had to take the "L." The guy is a money pitcher. Normally you'd be happy to hold the other team to two runs.

Looks like the Yankees are in for a major overhaul. Right now they stand to lose coaches, the bulk of their starting rotation, and a handful of big names from their starting lineup.

This brings up a troubling trend in sports, where even success isn't good enough anymore. Last spring New Orleans Hornet coach Paul Silas was shown the door after his team lost in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Granted, I have maintained that simply making the NBA playoffs is not big deal - not making the playoffs is more rare. But in the case of New Orleans, just keeping the team on track through all of the turmoil of their transition to a new city was no small feat. But Silas' case is nothing compared to that of Rick Carlisle who got his walking papers after completing two straight 50-win seasons and taking the Detroit Pistons to the Conference Finals. Carlisle accomplished this with a team that is good, not great. And now, heads will roll after the Yankees shameful performance in coming within two victories of winning the World Series.

Yes, I understand that the Yankee faithful expect more, and Steinbrenner's payroll is head and shoulders above the rest of the league. But somewhere along the line, reason has to prevail. Out of 180 games played, the Yankees organization is looking for a two-game improvement. That's it. This is hardly, "break it down and start over" territory.

It would be different if some major mistakes, or lack of effort, or poor judgment caused this big "failure." But, it's kind of hard to figure out who to blame when you don't have anything to blame them for. Truth is, the Yankees did well this year. There really isn't anything that you can point to and say, "Boy, they really screwed up there." Second best record in the majors, beat the Red Sox in the ALCS (bonus points for that), and appeared in the World Series. Eventually they just ran into a team that played better.

Bottom Line: However much money you throw at something, however many superstars you stockpile, the fact remains ... YOU CAN'T WIN THEM ALL.

24th October 2003

1:02pm     Back on my Laisseze Faire Soapbox

Here we go again. Justice Scalia speaks out on Gay Sex Ruling.

First of all, I must admit that beyond the personal freedom angle, I'm not aware of the Constitution addressing this issue specifically. Scalia does imply in his speech that there is some kind of issue however, so I continue to dig and think.

Most basically, this issue goes back to my whole, "Shut up and Think!" philosophy. On hot button issues like homosexuality, the tendency is to evaluate a judicial decision not on its merits, but on how it lines up with one's personal ideology. "I'm a Christian and therefore very much against homosexuality. This decision appears to give homosexuals more liberty to practice their lifestyle, so I think this decision is bad." Actually, I was giving too much credit by using the word "think." Arriving at a decision in this manner requires very little thought.

Personally, I am opposed to homosexuality. I find it disgusting and morally wrong. But, I also recognize that we all have our crosses to bear. For some people it is homosexual tendencies. For others it might be alcoholism, gluttony, sexual addiction, greed, pride, etc., etc. We've all got our issues. The tendency of many however, is to scream for tolerance in their own back yard, but for intrusion and restriction in the areas that trouble others.

Moving on with what I believe as a Christian. There already is a law against this kind of behavior - God's law. But, it is not as if the single-minded focus of the Christian should be to constantly beat people over the head with their own moral failings. We are called to proclaim The Word, true enough. But we are also called to love our neighbor, win the lost to Christ and make disciples of all nations. When we become a relentless prosecutor of any moral wrong we can find, we will find those who need God most disconnecting and we will lose the ability to do any of these other things. I'm not saying we should never bring up moral issues. We just need to choose the time and manner of our battles carefully.

So, what about this case specifically? As I said, God's law already addresses this, so what men may add to or subtract from their statutes in this area is less of a concern to me. And, banning the practice of homosexuality, if it were possible, is not going to solve the problem of homosexuality. In fact it would exacerbate the situation by frustrating homosexuals and forcing them into hiding.

On to the practical aspect of this. Any law banning gay sex is almost completely unenforceable. You might just as well try to legislate singing in the shower! I don't believe the government should be spending its resources trying to regulate the private activities of consenting adults. Note: I am not saying that just because something is done in the privacy of the home it is OK. If someone sets up a Crystal-Meth lab in their basement, they are conducting a criminal enterprise that harms others. Same for child pornography. With gay sex on the other hand, the only victims are the willing participants themselves.

Even more foundationally, this goes back to citizens' tendency to expect the government to legislate their every whim and solve every perceived problem. I don't go along with this even in a perfect world. But, in this world, if I'm counting on our government to solve problems and coherently address the issues of the day, I might just as well go jump off a cliff right now.

The problem is that our government has already intruded into far too many areas where it is impossible or unlikely that it can or will accomplish anything meaningful. In my opinion our default policy should be Laisseze Faire. Until you can demonstrate that there is a viable net benefit to be achieved by the government's involvement that could not be achieved otherwise, HANDS OFF! Mr President, if you run out of things to do before you run out of tax dollars in the coffer, give the $$ back! Congressmen, if you've nothing better on your plate, pull your heads out of the beltway and go do something productive. Judges, stick to trying to interpret the Constitution and stop legislating your ideology through your decisions.

Current Mood: relaxed

10:08am     Almost Weatherproof

I was forced to break out the Joe Rocket pants this morning as it was in the 30's. Thankfully, with the liner out (and it is not needed - the basic pants are plenty) they fit over my khakis. That suit is awesome. Even on the freeway at 80, I was warm and comfortable. Now I just need something for my chin area where the breeze flows under my helmet.

Only the snow can stop me now!!

Current Mood: happy

23rd October 2003

10:40pm     Wireless & Fearless

I am loving my wireless network. The router is kicking, and l've got a WiFi card for my PDA. I slide the card in when I get home and everything hooks up automatically. Right now I'm relaxing on the couch, watching "Bronx Tale," and blogging.

I'm a big fan of gangster flicks, and give "Bronx Tale" a 7. It's not pure gangster for one thing - there's some "coming of age" and other themes mixed in. Plus, seeing Robert DeNiro as a non-wiseguy in this kind of movie is a little strange. On the plus side, the soundtrack is awesome.

For point of reference: "Goodfellas" would rate a 10. As for the first two installments of the "Godfather" movies - please! No scale can hold them.

I read an article on Lieberman, Clark & Edwards' plan to lay off in Iowa and New Hampshire and focus on subsequent primaries. One laughable comment from another campaign: the three are unwisely following Al Gore's gambit of 1988, when the Tennessee Senator failed to overcome Dukakis' momentum from the first two events. The funny thing is, half of the field is unwisely following Al Gore's gambit of 2000 where he painted himself as an angry, anti-everything, pro-nothing, out of touch, extreme liberal.

Wesley Clark is finally taking a stand on something. His economic plan: Raise taxes on the rich (he's really going out on a limb in this field of candidates). It gets better. The first two years he'll concentrate on creating jobs rather than reducing the deficit. Clark acknowledges that while the government can't create jobs, but they can create the conditions necessary for job growth. Apparently raising taxes on those who ceate jobs isn't stimulus enough - the General will have to come up with other ways to handcuff the entrepreneurial spirit. But, hey! At least he sounds specific. That may be enough to fuel the legions that have already flocked to him for no apparent reason.

Another Black Caucus debate this weekend. Stand by for pander overload!

I just saw Meg Ryan. Wow! She's still awesome. And so, my search for her non-celeb equivalent continues.

2:24pm     Random Thoughts

Man! This article makes my brain go in a million different directions. There is a lot that I applaud, but it isn't quite enough to completely squelch my natural cynicism. Just being reminded of the "Chante Mallard/Guy in the Windshield" case fires me up!

Many thanks to John over at Rabe Ramblings for the props. Right back atcha, John. There are some blogs that I spot check, but RR is up there with Hugh Hewitt, the InstaPundit, and Dr Mohler as a daily read.

I caught the Niagara Falls guy on the news last night. Could he have invoked God's name any more? Don't get me wrong, I do agree that it is only by the grace of God that he is still with us, and I am always happy to see people give our Creator His due. Somehow, though, I don't think God smiles on willful acts of lunatic disregard for the precious life that He gives. Granted, no one is going to be able to interfere when God decides to end or preserve life. But I think that more often than not, rather than through miraculous acts, he chooses to work through the common senses that he's given us.

What is up with Alan Colmes? Generally, I really enjoy Hannity and Colmes. It's on in that time slot where I'm eating supper and transitionining from a busy day at work to a busy night of work at home so I do get to see it frequently. Anyway, Alan Colmes is really getting to be annoying. What I like about those guys is that , though their bias is clear, they are fair and reasonable. I don't know if it's the release of his book, or what, but Colmes has been falling back into the flawed, irrational logic so typical of his fellow knee-jerk liberals.

Back to the Niagara Falls guy. Just read another story on him. His brother says he was despondent. Prior to the famous plunge, the two men were out drinking Vodka and Coke. Now there's a good prescription for depression: alcohol! Thanks, bro.

Yahoo! had an accompanying graphic summarizing the various attempts to go over the Falls. Barrels have had mixed success while those using large balls have all survived. The Jet Ski and Kayak pilots didn't make it. Astonishing! I would have thought that devices which offer no protection from impact or the rocks below would be the way to go.

Grady Little on Boston fans and whether or not he'll be back managing the Red Sox:
``Right now I am disappointed that evidently some people are judging me on the results of one decision I made -- not the decision, but the results of the decision. Less than 24 hours before, those same people were hugging and kissing me. If that's the way they operate, I'm not sure I want to be part of it.''
Amen to that! In Little's two years the team won 93 and 95 games. Only a handful of teams eclipse 90 in any given season. Fewer still do it twice in a row.

Current Mood: relaxed

1:13pm     Let me be the first ...

... to bash myself for the poor call on Virginia Tech. I just get done talking about how Miami and the Hokies will run the table save for the loser of the contest between the two, and then Va Tech goes out and gets pounded by West Virginia.

This does further demonstrate my arguement on strength of schedule and how off-base pollsters are. Granted, I failed to heed my own philosophy on Va Tech this year. I was concerned about the Hokies lack of serious competition, but was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt based on their performance. Usually when teams try to prop themselves up with a weak schedule, they are found out anyway, either when they lose to one of their "cupcakes" or when they struggle repeatedly. To their credit, the Hokies have consistently hammered their inferior opponents.

Anyway, my agruement is that pollsters need to be more discriminating in their evaluation of teams, or polls should be removed from the BCS formula. I think I lean toward the second option. What is the purpose of the polls being included anyway?

Case in point: Virginia Tech. When the first BCS rankings came out, it was no surprise that Oklahoma, Miami and Virginia Tech were sitting on top. Closer examination should have raised some questions however. Of the top fifteen, only 4 teams had a worse strength of schedule score than the Hokies. Even with one loss, Florida State and Ohio State had a better score in the computer averages. Of course being undefeated, certainly helped, but the main thing keeping the Hokies above their closest chasers ... poll average. Remove that component and both Florida State and Ohio State move ahead of the Hokies and Georgia inches precariously close. Interestingly, remove the polls and Northern Illinois, this year's mid-major cause du jour, only moves up one spot.

There are a few teams that the pollsters just seem to want to rank high. Give them a reason, any reason, however small and they'll ignore compelling evidence to the contrary. Kansas State and Virginia Tech are the chief examples of this.

I guess the polls are included to guard against a computer "fluke." So, what do we have to guard against the irrational whims of the pollsters? And, shame on me for ignoring my own thoughts.

Current Mood: accomplished

21st October 2003

7:09pm     On a positive note

I've got this book of daily readings from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that ranks right up there with "My Utmost for His Highest." Both are very challenging and thought-provoking, and I love the way both authors can cut to the quick of things.

Anyway, a quote from today's reading:
"Satan does not always pursue Christians, for Christians do not always pose a threat (emphasis added). There are times when Christians are compromised, guilt-ridden and ineffectual. At such times the Accuser does not need to pursue them, for they are already within the ambit of his influence."

At first glance that may not seem very positive, but I think it is. If nothing else, it is positively motivating.

6:59pm     The Slippery Slope

I am very troubled by the Schiavo case.

Personally, it is haunting to imagine being trapped in this scenario, being the ones who love this woman and have stood by her for 13 years and counting. No, I'm not referring to her husband. The guy sounds like a real piece of work, but who knows? We're getting only a carefully painted picture of him from the press, and they always like the battle to be as dramatic as possible.

More to the point of this posting, I instinctively resist any new reason that mankind devises, to encroach on God's territory. You see, there is no turning back from taking such steps. Once we start down that road, we will keep going. We may, at times, slow down or even appear to take a step backward. But make no mistake, we will keep going.

Don't believe me? Look at abortion. If you ever get into a discussion with someone who is pro-choice, where will they always go to support themselves? "What about cases where the mother is in danger?" "What about cases of incest?" See these sound good. What cruel person wouldn't want to protect a mother? What cruel person would oppress the victim of incest?

In practice however, we've either gotten to the point where incest and problem pregnancies have reached such epidemic proportions that the AIDS virus pales in comparison, or abortion has become after-the-fact birth control.

Now look at euthanasia, and try to imagine what wonderful advances a "progressive" world might make there. No, better yet, read this article.

Now first of all, while I oppose suicide, I also recognize that it is a voluntary act, and it's kind of silly to argue about or attempt to legislate it. If someone is intent on killing themself, there is precious little anyone can do about it.

Notice how Nitschke interchanges suicide and euthanasia, however. There is a semi-voluntary aspect in euthanasia, allowing or assisting a hopelessly sick person. The troubling part is that there is also an involuntary component, such as is being exercised in the Schiavo case. This woman can't communicate for herself, so the attempt is made to determine what she would want if she could let us know. In that sense, I guess this isn't so bad. Those who practice abortion don't even pretend to care what the child would want.

Here is the kicker: We're all terminally ill. Many of us haven't started exhibiting the symptoms yet, but it is only a matter of time before each one of our earthly bodies dies. So, there is no telling where things could wind up once we start moving down the euthanasia path.

By the way, one side note from the article on Nitschke, regarding the couple who is 80, in perfectly good health and have decided that it is time for them to go. As I've noted before, suicide is voluntary, and those who are serious won't be stopped. So, if this couple is still in good health, why do they need legal permission or Nitschke's help?

I've tried to condense here, because truly I could go on and on for days on this one. Suffice it to say, when I look at the Schiavo case, I don't see an anomaly, I see the future.

1:30pm     Random Sports Notes

Fire Grady Little? Hey! The Boston Red Sox and their faithful, have become accustomed to a certain style of close call and dramatic loss. I think a team needs a leader that fits them.

Seriously, Little's decision to leave Pedro in game 7 was poor, no doubt. But, there is some hind-sight at work here. Say Little went to the pen and the Sox still got nailed. Then we'd be reading, "When the man who is arguably the top MLB ace in recent history wants the ball in a money game, you give him the ball," stories. Besides it's not like Little suddenly took over in the middle of game 7. That the team got to the ALCS to begin with, is an accomplishment.

Two things I don't understand in the NBA:

1. The LaFrenz - Walker trade. This seems like it should be a big deal, but it just doesn't feel that way. Each team giving up what it did makes sense. Boston and Dallas were probably just dumping baggage, because neither picked up anything that I can see will give them a boost. For one thing, the Mavs don't need a whole lot other than someone who will play D. That's not Walker. On the other side, what does anyone really expect to get out of LaFrenz? Perhaps Boston is hoping that being reunited with fellow Jayhawk, Paul Pierce, will rekindle (or perhaps just kindle) something in LaFrenz.

2. Latrell Sprewell playing for the Timberwolves. Granted, Minnesota had gotten about as far as they were ever going to get with their existing crew. This is another one of those moves that seems big on the surface, but becomes less exciting by the minute as you continue to think about it. Nothing against Spree. He's a decent player. But he's also one of those guys who puts up great numbers and makes a lot of noise wherever he goes, but his teams never seem to accomplish much together. Garnett has been screaming for support. I guess this is it. The big guy might do well to remember that the salary for the support he's not getting is sitting in his bank account.

I also really can't figure out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A lot of the time they look like no one should be able to beat them. They have a fantastic defense and are starting to show signs of an offense. Yet here they sit at 3-3, when they should be 5-1 or 6-0. They let Indianapolis off the hook, and yes, they should have beaten Carolina. As strong as their start has been, I think we'll see the Panthers come back to the pack in short order. Maybe the loss to San Francisco was legit. The 49ers are another hard to figure team this year.

So, Kobe will stand trial. Many are comparing this to the OJ trial, and I guess it will be similar to an extent, with its star power, high octane attorneys and potential consequences. One big difference: In OJ's trial, the key other person was not active in the trial, as she was dead. Here, the accuser is alive and will be a major part of the trial. It could well turn out that what she is accusing Kobe of is nothing compared to what his legal team is going to do to her in this trial.

I don't know if that's good or bad, because of big difference number two: it is a lot less clear what really happened in Bryant's case. In the murder of OJ's wife, there was a lot of physical evidence supported by a lot of erratic behavior on the part of the defendant. With Bryant, there are no strong indicators, in my opinion. From everything I've read, the physical evidence is not nearly as clear and damaging as the prosecution (and for some reason most media sources) would have you believe. Kobe's behavior, has been pretty reasonable under the circumstances, other than the annoying ultra-public displays of "let me show you how much jewelry I'm buying my wife because we're so much in love."

I'll go to my grave convinced that OJ is guilty. In the current matter, all I'll be able to do is hope that in the end the truth came out and justice was served.

Memo to all mid-majors: Strength of schedule is an important part of the BCS equation. The reason your teams won't be invited to a BCS bowl is the same reason a couple of your teams are undefeated - you don't play a BCS caliber schedule week in and week out. Yes, the MAC is playing decent ball. Yes, some mid-majors have scored amazing victories over power teams from power conferences this year. Congrats. However, an ilsolated dramatic upset, is just that; an isolated dramatic upset. Those happen. There will be a lot of teams with one or more of those on their resumes sitting at home and watching the BCS on TV come January.

How could you not be amazed by what Bill Parcells is doing in Dallas this year? Not halfway into the season, the 'Boys have matched last year's total wins with a lineup that has not changed dramatically. Sure, all of their victories have come against sub-.500 teams, but they are consistently beating those teams. Even the best drop a game that they shouldn't here and there. The toughest part of their schedule lies ahead. But, so do two games with Washington, visits from the NY Giants and Carolina Panthers (I maintain that they aren't as good as advertised), and a trip to New Orleans. I don't foresee Parcells taking yet another team to the Super Bowl this year, but when you look at the schedule and the standings, it's not unreasonable to think that Dallas will be back in the playoffs.

20th October 2003

3:34pm     Props to MLB

You know, I'm normally the first one to bash MLB, so let me take a time out to give the sport its props. This has been an amazing post-season! Extra-innings, series going the distance, dramatic comebacks, etc., etc. Let's face it, Yankees vs. Red Sox in extra innings with a ticket to the World Series riding on each pitch is huge. Even if you don't care about those teams, it doesn't get any bigger than that.

That said, the sport is still flawed. The players' union inmates are running the assylum. If commissioner Bud Selig did nothing at all it would be an improvement. Then you have the assault on their fans' intelligence with the "This time it means something," All Star Game ploy, and an equally riveting attempt to rein in performance-enhancing drugs in the last collective bargaining agreement.

But, if ratings are any indication, MLB may have bought some time with these post-season spectaculars.

Current Mood: good

18th October 2003

8:25pm     ALCS / NLCS: Loveable Losers Do What They Do Best

I for one am happy with how the League Championship Series turned out. Not that I have any great interest in the Cubs or Yankees, mind you. Rather, I was starting to gag on all the sentimental drivel being given to the Cubs and Red Sox.

Look, this isn't standing in line for the teeter-totter at recess. This is pro sports. You don't go to the World Series by waiting your turn. You get there by winning - period. All I've been hearing since the playoffs started is, "Wouldn't it be great if the Cubs played the Red Sox in the World Series! It'd be nice if those teams got a chance." Well, they've had a chance every year, just like a lot of other teams in the majors.

You can't blame this one on Steinbrenner's payroll either. Granted, in MLB, unlike other sports, there are some teams that have the deck severely stacked against them from the get go. The Cubs and Red Sox aren't among them. Boston is second only to the Yankees in payroll, and the Cubs' payroll is well above that of Florida, the team that IS going to the World Series.

And actually, it's probably best that these two lost. If either one of them ever won the World Series I think their entire fan base would lose their identity completely.

16th October 2003

11:30am     Chess

I've got a couple PBEM (play by e-mail) chess games going with a guy on Chessworld.

I was psyched when we started. In the game where he's white, he started with his queen's pawn. I'd never dealt with that before and was looking forward to trying a new defense (Nimzo-Indian if anyone cares). But, he did some pretty unconventional things right off and I wasn't able to pursue any specific line for very long.

On the plus side, I feel like I did a pretty good job of settling back and just making solid moves. In the past I've been a little too agressive for my own good. Right now that's my opponent's game. He developed his queen quickly, without any pawn structure to work with in both games. In the game where I'm playing white, I started with my usual King's pawn, and he went the route where he offered his queen's pawn immediately and re-captured with his queen on move 2. Since then that lady's been all over the board making lots of threats but accomplishing little.

Like I said, I've done a good job of staying on task and not being distracted. My white game is especially sweet right now. I created one of those situations where I appear to be just giving my knight away, but in reality it basically leads to a death spiral for him. I was worried that it might be too obvious. He spotted the problems it caused, but still went for it. Now I've already got his king boxed in (he was too busy messing around with his queen to get anything else out of the way), am getting ready to take one of his rooks free of charge, and his queen is stuck way over in my corner where she can't help out.

I was a little more concerned about the other game. Initially his moves were kind of random and didn't seem to be coordinating to do anything. I constantly had this, "What am I missing?" thing going on. But, while things got bogged down in the center, once again, my support and development was better all around. I'm ready to threaten his king, which will bring serious pressure as he has very few escape options. In fact, I'm two moves from checkmate if he isn't careful.

Current Mood: mellow

9:59am     Interfering Fan Protection Program?

Can the FBI somehow work Steve Bartman into their Witness Protection Program? Bartman is the fan who interfered with Moises Alou's attempt to catch a foul ball at Wrigley Field in game six of the NLCS. The Marlins capitalized with a rally and went on to win that game, and the series. Needless to say, Bartman is now at the center of a firestorm in the Windy City.

First of all, to all the "Bartman cost us the World Series!" talk: It was one play in one game. No one knows for sure what would have happened had Bartman not interfered. Alou might well have made the catch, but then he might not have. The Marlins rally might have been squelched before it even got started, but then they might have rallied anyway.

A few days ago the Cubs were sitting pretty, up 3 games to 1 in the series. They needed one more win and had three games to pick it up, with Mark Prior and Kerry Wood pitching two of those games. So we've got Bartman's faux pas. How do you explain the other 26 innings? Was it Bartman on the mound serving up red meat to the Marlin hitters in games 6 and 7? And we could go on and on. A lot of decisions, at bats, pitches, fielding plays, etc., contribute to winning or losing a series. So, Bartman is a bonehead, no doubt. But it was the Chicago Cubs that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Now, on to the madness. Bartman issued a statement. That alone kind of turns my stomach. It sounds like the guy and his family were nearly under seige by the press and angry fans, but I don't see where this helps anything. The people who are that fired up aren't going to be soothed by an apology.

Then you have the governors of Illinois and Florida weighing in on this. Do they have nothing better to concern themselves with?

But Bartman doesn't get off either. In the statement he mentioned what a big fan he is. I disagree. Fans know better. There are certain rules of etiquette that every fan knows. You do what little a fan can do to help your team and hurt the other. You settle down when your team is shooting a free throw and go crazy when it's your opponent on the line. When the other team hits a homer, you don't keep the ball, you throw back onto the field. And when your guy is trying to make a play, you don't mess with him. Actually, that's one you do for both teams, but you try a little harder for your team.

What happened in Bartman's case is the kind of thing that separates the real Cubs fans from people who show up at the ball park once in a while and follow from a distance. You've seen lots of them. They spend half of the game talking on their cell phone. By the third inning they've made ten trips to the concession stand. They leave at the end of the seventh to beat traffic. And if a ball comes near them, all bets are off. They'll jump over seats, trample other fans, hang from the fence, bite, kick, scratch and claw to get that ball.

And a stupid quote from the Dad: "I taught him well. I taught him to catch foul balls when he comes near them." Now admittedly, I remember taking my glove to the games when I was a kid, so I suppose that is something you pick up from your Dad. But I don't think my dad will ever look back on that as some important wisdom that he passed on.

Current Mood: blah

14th October 2003

9:31am     On Politicians and Democrats

It's a rainy day and my brain is slow in waking up this morning.

I watched part of an interview of Democratic Presidential hopeful (actually not very hopeful) John Edwards last night, and realized one core problem that a lot of Democrats have. Edwards spent a little time on what he would do as President and a lot of time in a convoluted explanation of how this is what voters want. Actually I don't think this is a Democrat/Republican thing. I think it's the difference between old school politician and someone who is earnest in wanting to do some good. The old school guys say, "Here's what I want to do," or, "Here's the party line." They then go on to cite slanted polls, misinterpret recent events, and generally mold their explanation of what voters want to fit their plan. Problem is, just saying it doesn't make it so.

Conversely, the leader that wants to make a difference says, "Here's what people want, and here's what people need, and so this is what I'm going to do to address those things." I once again reiterate my hope that California was the first stanza of the voters' refrain: Listen or leave!

With Bob Graham voted off, that leaves 9 Survivors on Democrat Island. So, who's next to go? I would have said Kucinich, but he just got into the race yesterday (lol), so he'll probably stick for a while. Why? I don't know. I'm guessing that Mosley-Braun and Sharpton are in this for reasons other than to win. Sharpton's probably trying to build a coalition to bargain with at convention and platform time. Whatever their reasons, it doesn't seem like they'll leave anytime soon. Though the chances for all but 3 of the candidates are slim, Gore-hardt, Lieberman and Edwards are still on the radar screen, and they're all career pol's so they'll hang at least through New Hampshire. I think it's all going to boil down to the other three; Dean, Clark and Kerry, so those guys will be around for a while. So we could have a 9-person fiasco for three more months at least.

This bodes well for Gen. Wesley Clark. With debates dividing time between so many candidates, he'll be able to continue his strategy of not taking a stand on anything, and hammering home his message, "I am so a Democrat! Honest!"

Current Mood: amused

13th October 2003

11:57pm     Childlessness: Problem or Symptom

One of my daily checks is Dr. Mohler's Blog. Agree or disagree, I'm always left thinking. And with today's piece on Deliberate Childlessness I disagreed, but had to think for a while to get my arms around why.

I don't disagree that children are a gift from God and that parenting is a special, lifelong experience. Though I'm not a parent, I can see this much in those who are.

The claim of a Biblical mandate for couples to bear children troubles me, however. I'm no scholar and I haven't yet had a chance to really dig into the Word on this one. But I can't recall a case where bearing children was broadly commanded. I believe God did command Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply." But that makes sense. They needed to populate the earth.

The Bible does talk a great deal about families and parents and children and speaks very highly of the gift of parenthood. I just don't see how you can make the leap to this being an order, and childlessness being rebellion. If that's the case, where are the boundaries? Is being single, and thus not in a position to have children, rebellion? How many children are prescribed? Is one enough? Two? Lots? Should married Christians use birth control at all?

As always, I don't begin to suggest that we let modern, worldly conditions color the way we interpret the Bible. There are some things to consider, however.

I think one could offset the statistics on the declining birth rate with similarly troubling statistics on overcrowding, unwanted children, poverty, child abuse, children born addicted to drugs, absent parents, etc.

At the root of it all, however, I believe childlessness as discussed by Dr. Mohler is not the problem, but rather a symptom of a problem. Mohler cites examples such as a couple that wouldn't want a table at which their kids could do homework to upset the interior of their house, or a woman who just couldn't see any "return on investment" in having children.

Thought #1: Shouldn't we applaud, reward, thank, and honor in as many ways as are possible, people like this for having the good sense not to have kids? Why would you want to punish a child by sticking them with parents such as these?

Thought #2: If you look at the thinking in these examples, you can easily see that this, as so many issues do, boils down to self-centeredness as opposed to God-centeredness, and the love for others that springs from God-centeredness.

These are also the kind of people who will choose a church based not on what it does for their Spiritual growth (which involves both giving and receiving), but instead on how it strokes their sense of status, and what the Church has to offer them with no thought to anything being required in return.

It seems that here again, Christians can be part of the solution, or simply spectators pointing out and denouncing yet another instance of what they perceive to be moral rebellion. The root solution is God. People need the Lord. You can say this with words and in all likelihood be tuned out. Or you can bring the problems to light by showing the better way in action.

It's one thing to talk about how much the childless are missing out. But it's quite another to show the world daily how much children add to the life of a devoted Christian parent.

As to, "The church should insist that the biblical formula calls for adulthood to mean marriage ...," I have no struggle in disagreeing with this point. As I read God's Word it seems clear to me that for any given person, marriage may or may not be in the cards.

1:21pm     Non-Story of the Day

Color me surprised: Dennis Kucinich launches bid for White House.

I can never understand why struggling candidates do this. This must be seen as a chance to grab some free pub and pump some electricity into a sinking campaign. In reality I believe it only serves to perpetuate their current condition. Clearly if you've been campaigning for the better part of a year, raising funds and pariticipating in all the debates, we know you're running. Trying to make a big deal out of stating the obvious smacks of desperation.

This was never more apparent that in the case of John Edwards. Having been on the campaign trail since January, Edwards decided to announce his candidacy last month, but was severely trumped when Gen. Wesley Clark ended wide speculation by throwing his hat into the ring on the same day.

Not all attention is good attention. And when a candidate is trying to make new news out of old news, they should have to purchase air time.

Current Mood: calm

12:50pm     NCAAF

Wow! What a great College Football weekend!

With the season over a month old, it was nice to see the Miami Hurricanes finally start playing football. It turns out that reports of their demise were greatly exaggerated. As a 'Canes fan, I was especially happy to see the familiar agressive Miami "D." Few defensive players can take over a game like Sean Taylor did. The goal line stand to hold the lead told us all we need to know about this year's 'Canes.

As mentioned, I am a Miami fan, but I have no quarrel with Oklahoma as No. 1 right now. Their play to date, and especially against Texas last Saturday, leaves no question marks regarding this team. Granted, I had thought Texas was over-rated, but still a good team. OU pummelled them like they were a Div III school.

So, OU v. Miami in the Sugar Bowl? I read an article today that discussed how wide open the field was, with only 3 undefeated (serious contender) teams left, and a host of teams with one loss, and Auburn with 2 still in the mix. The only problem is that Miami and Oklahoma seem poised to win out. Miami's only remaining test comes at Virginia Tech, the other undefeated team, in three weeks. Virginia Tech has looked solid against lesser competition. I project that it will be Miami, but whichever team has the game to prevail there should have no trouble with the rest of their schedule. As for Oklahoma, they are head and shoulders above not just the Big 12, but the entire country.

Despite convincing wins over Troy State, McNeese State and U Mass, K State has dropped from the polls. There's nothing like a 3-game losing streak to make the pollsters take an honest look at a team. And, following them down that same road are the Buckeyes of Overtime State U who picked up their first loss of the year at Wisconsin last weekend. There's a strong possibility Iowa could hang another one on them this week, with Michigan State and Michigan waiting down the line. By Thanksgiving the Buckeyes could be as forgotten as Maurice Clarett.

So this is the Auburn team that eveyone was talking about at the beginning of the season. Right now they are clearly one of the 5 best teams in the nation. The shame of it is, it's a minor miracle for a one-loss team to reach the championship game. Two losses? Hasn't happened yet, and a whole lot of things would have to go right to set that precedent this year.

Who would have guessed that Missouri would be the class of the Big 12 North? Now that they've beaten Nebraska, the Tigers' path to the Big 12 Championship game is clear. Their visit to Oklahoma this week could well be a preview of that game. By the way, Oklahoma vs. Missouri .... just another reason why I have the Sooners penned in (I didn't even bother with the pencil on this one) for one ticket to the Sugar Bowl.

Will the real Florida please show up. Same for you LSU. As well as Auburn is playing, I still say that Georgia is the beast of the SEC. If a one-loss team goes to the Sugar Bowl, it will be the Dawgs.

So, what to make of Florida State? Coming into the weekend they seemed all-world. Now there seem to be many doubts. I just don't think you can read too much into those Miami-FSU games. The 'Canes just seem to have Florida State's number whenever the games count. Of course Chris Rix using the same good judgment playing QB as he does parking his car doesn't help matters any.

Current Mood: indifferent

10th October 2003

5:29pm     Baby, Why? Why? Why?

Is it enee wunder why are kidz arin't edukatid good?

Article: Lance Bass talks to children about space.

I can't take credit for this btw. Jim Rome covered it on his show this afternoon and it was hilarious. If he posts an excerpt, I'll link to it later.

So anyway, it's World Space Week in HOUSTON, TEXAS. That's Houston as in, "Houston, we have a problem." You know the headquarters for NASA which, as I understand it, has one or two employees who know a little something about space. Instead who does Ortiz Middle School get to talk to the kids? Lance Bass, of N'Sync boy band fame. Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears must have already been booked.

Bass' pearl of wisdom for the kids: "Just stick with math and science and dream big." English? Foreign Language? History? Irrelevant. Just math, science and dreaming big. That's all you need to grasp complex space matters such as ... aliens for example:
"I'm not scared of any aliens," he responded as students burst into laughter. "If there are aliens, I think they'll be friendly."

Wow. Whatever this cost in tax dollars, it was worth it! You just can't put a price tag on that kind of hard-hitting education.

Once again we see the problem with celebs trying to pass along wisdom to non-celebs. Of course Bass can spout stupitudes like "all you need is math and science." How would he know any better? As far as he's concerned, all you need to know are some simple dance steps and how to sing backup.

I know, I know. He had that training for his potential space flight which ultimately fell through due to lack of money. The guy was going to pay $20 mil for a ride, OK. They weren't teaching him rocket science, they were preparing him to handle what happens over the course of the flight without puking.

This is the guy who needed David Duchovny's help with the first question, "How many items in a baker's dozen?" on Millionaire. It's an anomaly, I tell you. He's got a working knowledge of aliens (they're probably friendly) and yet the subleties of 13 escape him.

I applaud any efforts to get kids excited about learning, I really do. It's tough these days, and you do have to be innovative. I would think that out of all the NASA employees in Houston, TX, Ortiz MS would have been able to find one person who could be inspirational while passing along realistic and worthwhile information. How can you expect students to excel when you don't put appropriate models in front of them?

10:59am     DNC Survivor in Arizona

Bob Graham was voted off earlier in the week, and the remaining nine contenstants debated in Arizona last night. Some thoughts:

Gore-hardt had a bunch of canned sound bite lines at the ready, and man he was hammering away at everyone. I came away feeling like I'd heard from he and Kucinich most last night. Ultimately, I think Gore-hardt's insistance on completely rolling back the Bush tax cuts will be his undoing. The rest are only proposing a partial repeal and are doing a pretty good job of making the "Gore-hardt's going to raise your taxes," message stick (when they bother - Gore-hardt is mired in single digits right now).

Kucinich got a lot of play last night. Unfortunately with that guy, the less you hear the better off he is. The one thing he has going is that he was one of the few who voted against the Iraq war. Right now this is a popular cause, but I think it would be a liability by the time the general election rolls around. The economy is starting to gain some traction and once it gets humming people will let up on Bush. But, the Dems are making Iraq a key issue in their campaign, and as long as they do, Kucinich will be able to play his ace. Unfortunately once he gets going on Iraq he moves right on to, "I would bring all the troops home immediately." Once again, the rest of the gang is not so extreme. But, it was nice to have Kucinich in there stirring things up. You can't hurt your chances when you don't have any.

The moderators did a slightly better job of pinning the candidates down this time, making them actually answer the question that was asked, asking tougher questions and tougher follow-ups.

That said, they all but completely let the whole gang off the hook on one issue: The UN (Uncooperative Numbskulls). Iraq got a lot of play, and it seemed like everyone's magic formula was the UN. "I'd go to the UN," and, "We should have gone to the UN," and, "We should cooperate more with the UN." This is the party of those who seem to think that if we just have the right approach, the UN will go right along with us. We'll all share, and live together in harmony and puppy dogs and rainbows will abound. Unfortunately the UN is a bloated mass of bureaucracy that doesn't really accomplish anything, even when it does come to an agreement to try.

But more key is the fact that several of its members want nothing more than to undermine the US. This isn't something that just started under Bush - it's been going on for a long time. The Dems conveniently forget that Clinton had to go it alone upon occasion as well. For all the "I would go to the UN" talk, only once was it followed up with, "What would you do if you didn't get what you were looking for?" Kerry dodged it.

Another good question: "How would being passive and cooperating with the UN have prevented 9/11?" Flat out, there are forces in this world that are bent on causing widespread misery in the US. Though they may be meeting with varying levels of success right now, there are many nations that would dearly love to get their hands on a nuclear, biological or chemical weapon, and if they did they would set it off in the US or die trying. This isn't mild dislike. This is fanatical religious hatred. We are Satan to them. So, "peace" is a misnomer. Being passive won't prevent the loss of life. It simply adjusts where those losses will come from. So in this case, where our enemies have made it clear that they won't stop until we or they are dead, I choose them.

What was the point of the "questions from the audience" segment? You had these people throwing out lame questions that added nothing to the discussion. It was like you've got Pedro warming up in the bullpen and instead you call the hot dog vendor in to pitch to Jason Giambi. Go figure - he hits it out of the park. First a military guy stands up, "What are you going to do for military families?" Then a union guy, "What are you going to do with unions?" All of them boiled down to, "What are you going to do for me?"

Naturally the candidates were falling all over themselves to get at these questions and promise whatever the questioner was looking for. "Health care for everyone." "Beef up Social Security." "More power to the Unions." "Affordable prescriptoin drugs for everyone." And then there's the real specific, "We've got to take care of our military families."

This is just the problem with the role government has assumed. Shwarzeneggar said in his victory speech that we need to restore people's trust in government. No! We need to pare government down to where the founding fathers originally intended. Where it is non-intrusive and self-checking such that my trust doesn't matter all that much. If the question must be asked selfishly it should at least be, "What are you going to do for me and how are you going to pay for it wiithout raising taxes?" But the even better answer is, "Here's what I am going to enable you to do for yourself."

Kerry seems to be falling back into the pack. For a whiile he was the most likely to challenge Dean and Clark. The moderators appeared to be trying to keep things equal last night, but I don't feel like we heard a lot from Kerry.

The rest of the group was ganging up on Clark over his party affililiation. I just don't see this being the bullet that will take out the General. It seems to matter to the candidates, but if the California election shows us anything, it's that this will be low on the list of things that voters will care about.

The beltway outsiders vs. insiders battle does seem to be taking root. The candidates were asked to respond to the idea that the California election results seem to indicate that voters are tired of politics as usual. It was as thought the insiders framed their answers precisely to demonstrate just why voters would be tired of them. Gore-hardt's response was something like, "No, what the voters really want is X, Y and Z," in other words what they really want is Dick Gore-hardt to be their President. Yeah, that's just what I saw in California, "We want more partisan, political operators who are bent on self-promotion and hopelessly out of touch with the real world!"

Clark and Dean are wisely using this to drive a wedge between themselves and the field. Barring some dramatic turnaround in voter sentiment, or some drastic measures by the other candidates, this could well be an insurmountable barrier. One reporter summed it up like this: "The insiders talk about what they did in the past while the outsiders talk about what they want to do in the future." That and hammering Bush really has been the discussion so far in a nutshell.

Right now you've got Clark and Dean out in front, and right now they appear content to fend off the attacks of their opponents while waiting for the field to narrow, rather than take on each other too vigourously. I'm still waiting for the guys in the chase pack; Lieberman, Kerry, Gore-hardt and Edwards; to realize that the gap between them and the top isn't going to narrow on its own, and start resorting to desperate tactics in making their move. Clark and Dean are the quickest to say, "Now guys, let's remember that we're not here to attack each other." As long as the whole group spends most of their time on Bush, they won't change positions relative to each other.

Current Mood: content

9th October 2003

11:17pm     Joe Rocket

Wow! After a dry spell, there is now so much to blog about and so little time.

But first, one of my true joys in life ... riding my motorcycle. The Joe Rocket jacket and pants finally arrived, just in time for the weather to warm up. Truly, it is fall though. It may be sunny and warm for a few hours in the afternoon, but during the early morning and evening to night hours, especially when the sun is down, it is still nippy while riding. The jacket is awesome. I don't feel the weather at all, and that is with the liner out. And honestly, this is what I should be wearing most of the time. Regular clothes aren't made to hold up when you've spilled and are sliding across the asphalt at 60mph.

Lately the riding has been fantastic. The days have been so clear and pleasant. I've been worknig on turns a lot. Not properly setting up for turns seems to be a major factor in cycle crashes, and ironically it's the factor that the cyclist has the most control over. But it's tough. The roads I like to ride just for fun have a lot of curves set in hilly terrain. So, there's no room for error. Lean too much and you're in oncoming traffic (which seems to come on just when I'm really keyed up about trying a particular curve) or not enough and you're over the edge.

You always read about how certain kinds of bikes are better for certain things. But, I've also read several stories that say the same thing - if the cyclist is good, what bike he's riding won't make a bit of difference.

4:55pm     NBA Notes

- "LeBron has big dunk in exhibition win." No kidding, that was the headline. Only six points, mind you. But two of them came on the dunk heard round the world. I had wondered if James would succeed. Perhaps the hype, the Hummer and the shoe contract would be just too much for him.

Well, there was no need to worry. Apparently the guy will have to do little more than show up to be heralded in the press. And so, the circle is complete. The media said this guy would be a star and by God, they are going to make him a star, whatever it takes.

- How about Kobe sporting that new tat! Let's see ... new tat, rape trial ... looks like he's going after that "street cred" folks said he didn't have as intently as he went after the All Star Game MVP a couple years back.

- It's only preseason and yet the Pacers' Ron Artest is already in midseaon form, having collected a technical in his first game out. Artest apparently started to hand the ball to a referee and then pulled it back suddenly, prompting the "T." Said Artest:
"[The referee's] not from the park. He's never seen anything like that and it was a total shock. In the park you can do a lot of tricks like that and if you've got a good handle such as myself the ball's not going to come away from your hands. Obviously coach Carllisle and the referee have never seen anything like that in their life. He gave me a tech and coach took me out. I was just having fun...If I'm going to be taken out for stuff like that I'd rather not be in the game. I'd rather be with another team."
Apparently Artest has found an NBA team that doesn't have referees at their games. If so, the Portland Trail Blazers would like said team to be moved into the Pacific Division.

- For once, it appears Shaq has shown up at training camp lean and mean and ready to take on the NBA. On the positive side (as a Laker fan) this is awesome. The only person able to stop the big guy in the past has been O'Neal himself. When he wants something, don't be the one who tries to get in his way. On the other hand, I have to wonder if this is good. One thing that has probably saved Shaq in the past has been his inability to play for a full season. Can anyone sustain the kind of punishment Shaq takes over 100 games? If it comes down to a choice, I'd prefer to have Shaq primed in April as opposed to October.

- What? Chris Webber out injured? No way! That is right up there with "LeBron has big dunk" in terms of earth-shaking headlines. Next you're going to tell me Arnold Shwarzeneggar is the governor of California or something crazy like that.

- Denver is talking about bringing Dennis Rodman in for a look. Yikes! The guy was a liability years ago. Now he's ... an over-the-hill liability. But I guess if your team isn't going to be noticed for its game, you might as well try to get some attention with your human three-ring circus rebounder.

- It's tough to have George Karl gone from the coaching ranks. It was certainly long past time for him to depart Milwaukee, but he's still a good coach and one of those guys I had always hoped would win a championship somewhere. It's especially tough to see him step away with that Milwaukee season as his last. How much can a guy do when Sam Cassell is your one and only chance? Here's hoping he gets another shot.

Current Mood: blah

3:43pm     The Governator

As fun and interesting as the whole recall thing was at first, it got so vile at the end that I'm just glad it's over. Deep down inside I know, of course, that this isn't over and that I won't be able to stop watching. The intriguing part is just getting started. Some random thoughts from the recent action:

- LA Times and LA Times apologists ... you protest WAY too much! Perhaps if the Times had, at any point in recent weeks, fostered the illusion of impartiality, we might be willing to listen. The paper's agenda has been made very clear, many times.

- Everyone has been scrambling to find the message in the results as though it were some big mystery. The message I heard was one I've been waiting a long time for voters to send, "Enough! We're sick of the games! We don't care what party you represent. Do something worthwhile or step out of the way!" And regarding last minute political mud-slinging I heard, "We recognize that for what it is, and we're not paying any attention to it."

- The unfortunate thing is, last Thursday's charges were serious enough to warrant some time for consideration. While I wouldn't want to encourage this kind of harsh mud-slinging, I also wouldn't want to send the message that these things can be quickly swept aside and written off as political maneuvering.

- Politicians never learn. Once again I think it's pretty obvious that this election was an indictment of partisan politics. Yet there was Davis' team laying the groundwork for a challenge claiming that many voters didn't get to vote. There was Bustamante, saying he'll work with Arnold, provided Arnold basically toes the Democratic Party line. No big deal there, however. I'm sure that if Shwarzeneggar gets any help at all from his Lt Governor it will be more than he expected. There were many other partisans threatening further recalls upon recalls.

- Hopefully we don't have to hear from Susan Estritch anymore. She's sharp and has some pretty good insights, but her voice makes me want to scratch the paint off my walls.

- Thankfully, one thing that I'm hearing from all sides is that a recall is a very bad idea. If people had the self-restraint to use it only in very extreme cases, maybe it is workable. But now that Pandora's Box is open, I foresee partisans reaching for this tool far too often. I think the feeling is nearly unanimous that what happened in California is generally undesirable. But that's the thing with zealots. They all believe that their cause is the exception that justifies a high price.

Current Mood: lethargic

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