Tuesday, April 30, 2002

DANG: Tim Duncan will miss game four due to the death of his father. And Robinson probably won't play. It's a tall order now for that little rookie, considering Sonics history.
BASKETBALL QUOTELOG: "[T]he Sacto/Utah series had been like the movie Apollo 13: even though we all knew how the story was going to end up, it was about as exciting and suspenseful as it could have possibly been." --Lane Whitaker of SLAM.
THE FUR FLIES HEAVY: Kitty has a report on her investigation into The 14th Annual International Anthropomorphic Convention and Exhibition, ConFurence 2002. With pictures, too! She is a brave woman.
PPG 2002: Distorting The Medium has the link to what appear to be stills from the Powerpuff Girls movie. It's about time --the Powerpuffs are threatening to become the Cartoon Network's Ren & Stimpy in terms of being a breakout, staggeringly popular show where they replay the same episodes again and again and again.

Monday, April 29, 2002

NBA: The Rapmaster follows up my Ming-speculation with some of his own. Plus other good pro and college comments. I think me and Rapmaster are the only bloggers watching the playoffs.

Friday, April 26, 2002

MING WATCH: Neat 'n' tidy little AP rundown on the guy. The authorities want whoever team that drafts him to send one of their players to Shanghai to replace Yao --uh huh. His parents ride to his games on bicycles. And he makes $75,000 right now.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

BUT I'LL ALWAYS HATE PATRICK ROY MORE: Glenn Reynolds points out a TNR article on Arundhati Roy and I think: This is a Fisking? I dunno. It seemed pretty well-balanced to me, and just reaffirmed my belief that you should always take the political pronouncements of artists with a grain of salt. These are not people who are good at examining any situation clearly, other than their own internal reality --which is why they are artists.
SHANGHAIED: Okay, so apparently Yao Ming will be available to be drafted by an NBA team and to play next season. Leaving aside questions about whether he is actually that good and not, like, Georghe Muresan 2K, there are off-the-court complications with this guy. The codgers that comprise the Chinese government, for one:

Yao's team, the Shanghai Sharks, has said it will support his participation in the N.B.A. draft in June after blocking him in previous years. But Beijing has yet to approve any move by Yao, 22, who led his team to the China Basketball Association championship last week, and the government published strict new regulations today for Chinese athletes who want to play professionally abroad.

Chief among the new rules, clearly crafted with Yao in mind, is one requiring Chinese athletes abroad to turn over at least half their pretax earnings, including endorsement income, to Chinese government agencies for the length of their careers. That could cost Yao millions of dollars a year.


Beyond the issue of any N.B.A. contract, there is little doubt about the pressure China could bring to bear on any companies that want Yao to endorse their products.

China has already demonstrated its ability to force companies to drop endorsements by people it does not like. The Coca-Cola Company stopped using a Taiwanese pop star in its mainland advertising two years ago after she provoked an uproar by singing Taiwan's anthem at the inauguration of the island's president. China claims Taiwan as one of its provinces and objects to any suggestion that it is an independent nation.

In what appeared to be a veiled warning to N.B.A. teams, today's newspapers also carried a brief editorial stating that FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, of which both the China Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association are members, has the power to cancel contracts between players and N.B.A. teams.

The guy's not even here yet and already Beijing is making an ass of itself. So that's problem one, whatever team gets Yao is going to have to deal with the Chinese government on some level. Then there's problem two: Yao (or his handlers) wants to play in a city with a large Chinese population and one that has a chance of making the playoffs in the next three years. So here's the teams in the lottery this year, along with their chances of getting to pick number one:

Golden State, 22.50%
Chicago, 22.50%
Memphis, 15.70%
Denver, 12.00%
Houston, 8.90%
Cleveland, 6.40%
New York, 4.40%
Atlanta, 2.90%
Phoenix, 1.50%
Miami, 1.40%
Washington, 0.70%
L.A. Clippers, 0.60%
Milwaukee, 0.50%

On that list, the teams that have a chance of making the playoffs in the next few seasons are probably the bottom five teams --Phoenix through Milwaukee. The teams that play in the cities who play in cities with large Chinese populations are Golden State (who really needs to follow the Anaheim Angels and change their name to Oakland so the rest of the country knows where the hell they play; that playing to a state-wide audience stuff doesn't work anymore, fellas), Chicago, New York, Houston, and the Clippers --who have about no chance at picking first. But they're also the only team that meets both criteria, so maybe Stern will work his lottery mojo to get the big guy in Los Angeles, where hopefully he won't be demoralized by playing Shaq all the time. Or maybe Stern will work a slightly more convincing lotto mojo and get Yao in New York, something that will kill his credibility and is completely unnecessary; the league isn't in any trouble money-wise or competition-wise, and does not need a strong Knicks team to get people watching. So one would think the lottery will be less fixed than usual and the Warriors, Bulls, Grizz, or Nuggets will end up with the top pick. If it's the Nuggets, they already have one of the other two Chinese NBA players --so maybe that'll be a help to signing Yao, even though the Nuggets are always going to stink. He would seem like a good fit for Chicago or the Warriors in terms of Chinese populations, which is the knock Memphis will have against it. And yet, ultimately, won't Yao be the best fit for the Grizz in competitive terms? They have Battier. They have the rookie of the year, Pau Gasol, who --as Bill Simmons pointed out-- is "coming off one of the greatest seasons by any 21-or-under player in the history of professional basketball...Seventeen and a half points a game, nine boards, 2,800-plus minutes, a sterling 52 percent shooting[.]" And they're publicly courting Jerry West. Do you think this might be an effort on the part of the Grizz to allay Yao's fears (or Jason Williams, or Dajuan Wagner's, or anybody else's) about playing for them? It's like they're saying: yes, we know we've always stunk but we've turned things around and it's okay to come play for us now --in fact, we encourage it. And with Yao there they would have a true center to play with the 7-foot forward Gasol. And it's a marketer's dream: The Yao & Pau Connection. There's t-shirts and bucks to be made here, and if Commissioner Stern is really cooking the books with the lottery, Memphis is the obvious choice. It'll take some convincing of the Chinese authorities, but if they really want to highlight their guy, the Grizz just might be the team, and Memphis the place.

By the way, is it an NBA rule that franchises never ever change their names when they move? The Grizz, the Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers; I guess we'll know for sure when the Hornets move --the New Orleans Hornets does not really roll off the tongue. It's quite the opposite of the NHL, where apparently you have to change your name when your move, even when it's something as innocuous as the Jets (now the Coyotes) or the Whalers (now the Hurricanes.) I can see, though, why they thought "the Colorado Nordiques" was a bad name for a franchise.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

FROM THE NBA MAN-CHILD FILE: Great Washington Post story (here's part one and part two) about 20-year old rookie Kwame Brown and his first year in the league. Sample:

Brown came off the bench on December 4 to record the first double-double of his career against San Antonio's David Robinson and Tim Duncan, with 10 points and 12 rebounds. The Wizards hoped it was the start of something. But the next day, typically, he came to practice lethargic. By now Collins had had it, and so had most of his teammates. Jordan was struggling with a bad knee and doing everything he could to help turn the team around, and here was this kid who didn't know the meaning of work.

It was Brown's worst day as an NBA player. "The most physically demanding day of my entire life," he says. Collins put the Wizards through a brutal, exhausting practice. The team was in a collective foul mood. Despite Brown's mini-breakthrough, the Wizards had lost yet again. "Everyone was arguing, people were beating each other up," Brown says. But mostly, they took it out on him.

Brown couldn't do anything right. "He couldn't catch it, couldn't throw it, couldn't shoot it right," Jones says. In a series of three-on-three drills, the Wizards banged him – hard, intentionally. "He got pretty beat around," Jones says. Center Jahidi White knocked him to the ground – and fell on top of him. Brown lay there, stunned and bruised.

"Get up, you aren't hurt," White said.

Brown got up, aching, holding his back. His gray practice shirt was soaked through. Nobody had any sympathy for him. Not even Popeye Jones, the veteran who'd looked out for him the most. "It's time for you to grow up," Jones told him, coldly. "Now. Today. Stand on your own two feet."

Collins, still not satisfied, ordered a set of punishing sprints. Brown hesitated. "I hurt my back," he said.

Collins wheeled. Now it was his turn. "Stop being a baby and start growing up and playing, and earning the respect of your teammates," Collins shouted. "They're tired of you. They're tired of you getting knocked down, and laying around. They're tired of you holding your back. And holding your head. And holding your thumb. You're the one who has to be in that locker room, and meet them eye to eye."

Brown stared at his feet. "Do you want to play or not?" Collins snapped. No answer.

"Get off the court," Collins said disgustedly.

He sat in front of his locker trembling and crying. This is it, he thought, the league's not for me. I'm horrible. The coach thinks I'm horrible. The whole team thinks I'm horrible. I can't even play. Then he got on a treadmill and ran as hard he could, for almost an hour.

After a while, Jordan came into the locker room. He sat on a bench with Brown, and put his arm around him, and hugged him. "You're going to be all right," he said. For several minutes, he talked to Brown in soothing tones. "Doug is tough, but in a few years you'll understand how good he is," he said. They still believed in him, Jordan affirmed. "We put our necks out for you," he said. "We think you have the ingredients to be a great power forward for a long, long time."

Via the Slam links page.

Monday, April 22, 2002

NBA PLAYOFFS: I don't know about you, but I enjoyed those eight games this weekend. Of course, the Nets lost, and were the only higher seed to do so. Before the games got started Rapmaster Bobby D posted his picks and I put mine out there on Sportsfilter. (I love how the NBA playoff thread on Sportsfilter has three comments and the NHL playoff thread has almost forty. Apparently Internet dorks and hockey cultists are cut from the same cloth.) So you can call me out later for picking the same Lakers/Sixers final as last year, which does suggest a lack of imagination on my part but I couldn't think of good enough reasons to pick against those guys. Anyway, my thoughts from opening weekend:

--The Nets look like they bit off more than they can chew in Reggie Miller and Jermaine O'Neal. And Keith Van Horn is so not a go-to guy. Are you telling me that beating the Nets is a simple as forcing Jason Kidd to take shots? Cripes.

--The Pistons looked so dominant last night in the fourth quarter. And you can always count on my birthplace to do something classy like booing O, Canada:

The ugly start followed a tasteless display by the sold-out crowd at The Palace before the game when O Canada, the Canadian national anthem, was met with a steady stream of boos. The crowd included a couple thousand Toronto fans, who were decked out in Raptors gear and were waving Canadian flags.

"That was a little distasteful," Stackhouse said. "I don't think anyone enjoyed it. But our fans stuck up for us all season, so I'm going to stick up for them. I'm sure they were booing Toronto the team, not the Canada the country."

When Toronto made a 12-2 run midway through the second quarter to cut its deficit 29-28, the crowd chanted "USA, USA!"

In their defense, maybe the fans were just booing the assembled Raptors fans. But that is sort of a "forget it, Jake, it's Detroit" moment.

--The Blazers are going to have to find some middle ground between Crazy Blazers and Bland Well-Behaved Blazers if they want any shot at beating the half-assing it Lakers.

--The Mavs and Spurs began the eventual demise of the Wolves and Sonics.

--I didn't see a lot of Sixers-Celtics Game One but the Sixers had no snappy comebacks for the Walker-Pierce tandem.

--That Kings-Jazz game was probably the most enjoyable of the weekend. The smug Kings are almost as easy to hate as the Lakers and I hope the Jazz takes the next game. Hopefully Vlade's dumb "they're done" post-game comments will light a fire.

--I change my mind, the Hornets-Magic game was the most enjoyable of the weekend. Well, the fourth quarter was, anyway, when something snapped inside and the Hornets decided to make a game of it. T-Mac is a hurtin' buckaroo, and I still don't think the Magic are going to pull this off.

There you go. Watch the NBA this year, folks, people say it's going to be the most competitive playoff series in recent memory.
IF YOU LOST TRACK: Like I did, Amy Welborn did respond to Clueless' belief and dogma entry. I don't think Steven has replied yet, at least not in blog form. Louder had something to say too.
PAGS, COME HOME, WE MISS YOU: John Tabin tracks down the first post-9/11 Camille Paglia article I know of, found on the very underused Paglia newsgroup. It's not a lot different from anything she's said before but it is good to read her again. Apparently she's only appearing in the websiteless Interview magazine now, which is supposed to be all hip and edgy, but if it's not on the Internet, how edgy could it be, I mean come on now. Anyway, enjoy your Pags fix.

Friday, April 19, 2002

ETHNIC FOOD REPORT: Jim Henley links to this story which locates the origins of General Tso's chicken: 1970s Manhattan. It goes like this:

But to others, General Tso's chicken recipe may be no more ancient than 1972, and may have more in common with Manhattan than with mainland China. On "The Definitive General Tso's Chicken Page" (www.echonyc.com/~erich/tso.htm) New Yorker Eric Hochman theorizes "It was invented in the mid-1970s, in NYC, by one Chef Peng.

"Around 1974, Hunan and Szechuan food were introduced to the city, and General Tso's Chicken was an exemplar of the new style. Peng's, on East 44th Street, was the first restaurant in NYC to serve it, and since the dish (and cuisine) were new, Chef Peng was able to make it a House Specialty, in spite of its commonplace ingredients."

My own research led me to the same city, but a different Manhattan restaurateur, who claims the dish is the brilliant invention of his former partner, a gifted Chinese immigrant chef named T.T. Wang.

"He went into business with me in 1972," said Michael Tong, owner of New York's Shun Lee Palaces, East (155 E. 55th St.) and West (43 W. 65th St.). "We opened the first Hunanese restaurant in the whole country, and the four dishes we offered you will see on the menu of practically every Hunanese restaurant in America today. They all copied from us.

"First, Lake Tung Ting shrimp. Lake Tung Ting in northern Hunan province is very famous for its shrimp.

"Second, crispy sea bass. We roll them in cornstarch and we fry them crispy. Then we shower them with the sauce. A lot of restaurants will use catfish, but they don't know how to cook them in the sauce, so they put the sauce on the side. Sometimes they just give you plain soy sauce. We know how to cook them in the sauce.

"Third, orange crispy beef. This is very, very popular with us. Any Hunan or Sichuan restaurant, if you call them and ask for orange crispy beef, they will know what you are talking about. We invented it.

"Fourth, General Tso's chicken, sometimes called General Tsung's chicken or General Tsao's chicken."

Has anybody else heard that Chinese food of the sort found in Chinese takeout places is, like pizza, an American invention? This sort of adds some substance to that argument. Anybody got a link?
LA BLOGFEST PART DEUX: God there was a zillion people there. Tony Pierce met Luke Ford, who apparently has nothing to do with lukeford.com anymore, which is the Drudge Report of adult entertainment news. Weird. It's like when you see delis or corner stores that still have, like, Jewish or Irish names on them, even though the people running the store are Indian.
CANNOT BEAR TO WATCH, CANNOT LOOK AWAY: The horror will remain unmentioned --you will have to click and see-- but the appropriate google search terms would be "Hulk Hogan, tiny pants." Enjoy. In a Bizarro sense. And I got that book for my birthday and it rocks; it's full of fifties Bizarro stories, following reverse-logic down the rabbit hole as far as it went. Fun stuff.
WOW: Ginger Stampley has the mother of all survey of opinion of Israel versus Palestine posts. Click and read.
CHAOS IN SHITISTAN: The true people's hero Blow Hard has been deposed by Generalissimo Thornton and there are scattered reports of rioting. It even threatens to engulf my peaceful and enlightened people. Thornton, it appears, is backed by a motley collection of CIA spooks and petroleum executives and I do not expect him to remain in power for long; soon leadership will be regained by my fellow Dear Leader, President Hard, and the streets will be thronged with well-wishers whose fondest desire is to catch a glimpse of their energetic and dynamic father figure. That is all.
UNDERREPORTED: Legit Ohio citizen Kevin Holtsberry has the story and the link about a recent quasi-race riot in the poor, unloved city of Cincinnati.
JENIN JIVE: Stryker on Jenin. And a link to an Al-Ahram piece that would've been a backup in G.I. Combat in another nation, medium and era. AND he throws cold water on Glenn's fave explanation for our actions in the mideast: the rope-a-dope strategy. "The U.S. Government is not Muhammad Fucking Ali. The world is not Joe Frazier."

MORE: Dr. Frank links to a National Post story: What happened at Jenin? Short answer: not sure yet.
WNBA DRAFT: Follow it here. Sue Bird went first, Swin Cash went second so she couldn't go to the Mystics and join Chamique Holdsclaw on the Amazing Athlete Name all-star team.
ELECTROLITE SUBSTANTIAL: Patrick has the goods on Venezuela, including a link to a story about how we should be a leeetle suspicious about our recent press coverage of the abortive coup. And he's got an example of one of my favorite things about the Internet: mentions of books that I haven't heard of but probably should have read by now, which he serves up in a post about his Hugo nomination. Good luck with that, Patrick.

Reading that Venezuela story I come across this one: Chinese authorities shut down Tibetan monastery and monks smuggle out tape to prove it. Jerks. And of course China isn't even going to get slapped on the wrist.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

EXPOS: Kevin James has an idea: move the Expos to San Juan. He's got some numbers to prove it too, and it's fun to speculate even as it appears more and more that they will wind up in Washington. He also links to the Portland campaign to get an MLB team.

Kevin found via Mark Byron, who has his NBA first-round playoff picks up.
FOOTBALL, AMERICA'S GAME WATCH: Condoleeza Rice would love to be NFL commissioner someday:

"That's absolutely right," she said, "though not immediately and not before Paul Tagliabue is ready to step down. I want to say that for the record.

"I think it would be a very interesting job because I actually think football, with all due respect to baseball, is a kind of national pastime that brings people together across social lines, across racial lines. And I think it's an important American institution."

Gosh. She, like Paglia, loves the tactics of the game:

Most of Rice's time in recent days has been spent monitoring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But she still finds a few moments to keep up with preparations for the N.F.L. draft, which begins Saturday at Madison Square Garden. No matter where she is Saturday and no matter what she is doing, Rice expects to find out which players are going where.

Rice's passion for football stems from her study of the history of warfare. While acknowledging the obvious differences, Rice said she was attracted to two fundamental similarities between football and warfare: the use of strategy and the goal of taking territory.

"I really consider myself a student of the game," she said. "I find the strategy and tactics absolutely fascinating. I find the evolution of the game really interesting. Again, as it relates to military history. Military history has swung back and forth between advantage to the offense and advantage to the defense. When the offense has the advantage, then a new technology will come along that will temporarily give the defense the advantage and vice versa. Football has that kind of pattern, too."

That article also reveals Condi was once an aspiring figure skater. Yeah, I can picture that. Anyway, hopefully she can use the vice presidency to push herself into a job with actual cultural cache. SportsByBrooks, which appears to be a fine sports blog, found via Diana Hsieh.
ROMEO & JULIET UPHELD: David Chess breaks down the Supreme Court virtual child pornography decision. Via the Bizarro Samizdata.
BUCKS STOPPED: The Hoopsworld rumor mill has a theory on the Bucks' hideous season-ending collapse:

The Milwaukee Bucks did as many expected... they crashed and burned, I know your saying I'm crazy, but when the trade deadline came and went with no movement in Milwaukee, quietly a number of people close to the Bucks pegged this to happen, they said George Karl was going to allow this to happen to prove a point... this team, as its built doesn't want to win... All year Karl has taken shots at his big three and their commitment and desire to win, saying Ray Allen wasn't nasty or dirty enough... that Glen Robinson was the problem because he was a screen door on defense... that guys weren't playing hurt enough... Bottom line he signed an extension for a team he didn't like, and now that they are a burning-heaping pile of contracts, he'll have the chance this summer to re-shape the team into something he likes a bit more.

So we have the semi-plausible conspiracy theory that Karl tanked the season because he doesn't like the team. The Confederate Mack on the DVDVR board suggests the black helicopters-level conspiracy theory about the Bucks: that they were punished by the NBA for the "it's fixed" comments from last year's playoffs. Huh. Anyway, shouldn't George Karl be coaching in college if he needs to mess with his rosters so much? Coaching at the college level involves getting players to fit into your system, coaching at the pro level involves making the most of what you got --which is why reed-bending-in-the-wind boy Phil Jackson is so successful (and, of course, coaching the best players in the league helps too.) College ball is a coach's game, pro ball is a player's game. That's what I think is the big stylistic difference between the two.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

ARENA LEAGUE OPENING WEEK: Is this week, but nothing is on tv unless you've got a team in your local area. This is sort of a reorganizing year for the AFL, I think, what with the contractions off-season and all the expansion teams slated for next season, plus the NBC contract. Over on the DVDVR board I'm running the third season of the AFL Highway To Taylor Ham --a spinoff of the NFL Highway To Ham-- where you win some sweet delicious pork roll if you pick enough AFL, NFL Europe and other ridiculous sporting events right, so feel free to play along.

big apple blog bash; click for details

Just spreadin' the word.
NBA: Rapmaster Robert has his latest NBA article up over on Hoopsworld, where he makes the case for Pau Gasol, Rookie of the Year. I would comment more but I haven't seen a Grizz game this season. Barkley sure loves yelling "PAU!" over Grizzlies highlights on TNT, though.

Sunday, April 14, 2002

WUSA OPENING DAY: Was yesterday. Is the WUSA the most diverse professional sports league in the world? In the Charge-Beat game yesterday, we had representatives from Japan, England and France, and of course the assorted Americans and Chinese. The Cyberrays-Breakers game (yes, there were two televised WUSA games yesterday; meanwhile AFL opening day on Friday isn't going to be on anywhere nationally as far as I can see) had some of those mono-named Brazilians in it, like Pretinha. And I believe there's Scandinavians in the league. I know the NBA has a lot of foreign players in it too, and from all over, but the overall proportion of foreigners in the WUSA seems greater. It's like watching UN debates if they played soccer instead of debating and were all women. Or words to that effect.

Anyway, San Jose beat Boston thanks to Brandi Chastain, New York beat a Hamm-less Washington, the beloved Charge defeated Atlanta as greatest player in the history of England and Seton Hall Kelly Smith scored on a penalty kick, and San Diego put the winning goal in their own net and lost to Carolina. Attendance was lousy everywhere except Atlanta. Then again, the MLS keeps chugging forward even though their attendance remains not much better, so maybe that isn't that big a problem, relatively speaking.

Friday, April 12, 2002

PLAYBOY TACKINESS WATCH: As Karin pointed out recently, Playboy is not above any form of sleazy opportunism. Now Chuck Kuffner brings the news that they're published the photos of a 37-year old former stripper who was elected and then recalled as mayor of a little town in Colorado. Thanks Hef, that's something we all want to see.
THE ANDREA HARRIS REDESIGN: Dahling, you look mahvelous. I love the gif. And that new slogan is the funniest since Reynolds changed his. Bravo, bravo.
CIRCUMCISION CIRCUMLOCUTION: Andrew Sullivan goes off on a tangent in his reaction to the news that "women whose sex partners are circumcised may be less likely to get cervical cancer:"

The argument against infant male genital mutilation is that it is the permanent, irreversible disfigurement of a person's body without his consent. Unless such a move is necessary to protect a child's life or essential health, it seems to me that it is a grotesque violation of a person's right to control his own body. It matters not a jot why it is done. It simply should not be done - until the boy or man is able to give his informed consent. And to perform such an operation to protect the health of others is an even more unthinkable violation. It's treating an individual entirely as a means rather than as an end. I'm at a loss why a culture such as ours that goes to great lengths to protect the dignity and safety of children (and rightly so) should look so blithely on this barbaric relic.

I dunno --I'm with him when he says that it's something that is questionable in the sense that it causes a lifelong change on people (the very young) who cannot argue the matter. Then again, you could say the same thing about braces. But I have always found arguments comparing circumcision to the actual barbaric practice of female circumcision pretty absurd; female circumcision removes the clitoris, which is pretty essential to female pleasure, whereas male cirumcision removes the foreskin, whose role in male pleasure is mostly unknown unless you're an Internet crank. Besides, doesn't circumcision stop the spread of AIDS too?

Then Sullivan says this:

Yes, I know there are religious justifications for it. But even so, religions should not be given ethical carte blanche over the bodies of children. Would we condone a religious ceremony that, say, permanently mutilated a child's ear? Or tongue? Or scarred their body irreversibly? Of course not. So why do we barely object when people mutilate a child's sexual organ?

The thing is, I think circumcision got started in this country for pseudoscientific reasons, like it cut down on masturbation or something. I think it cuts down on genital stink, too, which means it is just part of the general American obsession (not quite at Japanese levels) with hygiene and physical beauty, along with deodarants and tanning salons and gyms and Soloflexes and perms and retainers and everything else that keeps us looking and smelling better than the rest of the world. And --I mean, come on-- the cut dick just looks better than the uncut dick. That foreskin thing just looks ridiculous, and don't give me any crap about Nature's Way --none of us are natural anymore. Hey, watch me channel Paglia: the circumcised American penis, with its clean, rocketship-like appearance, represents the power of American technology and modern knowhow in the world today. Or something like that. Anyway, circumcision is not genital mutilation --it's genital enhancement. Get it right. But Sulli has a point on the personal-liberty issue, which never stopped anybody from getting aborted, but that's a different issue. Okay, back to the studying aether.

Hey, I wonder what Bennett's take on circumcision is? I'm guessing he has one, being the manliness expert and all. He's like the Robert Bly of blogdom --in a good way, if you're one of those who is not drawn to hate Robert Bly; I understand some are. But I am not.
NOT GOOD: Distorting The Medium brings the news of somebody planning a live-action Hollywod version of Akira. That just sounds like a bad idea, but they guy they got working on it is doing other comic book features --Ghost Rider and League Of Extraordinary Gentleman-- so we shall see.

Distorting also has the rundown on the Episode Two script.
I APPRECIATE BILL SIMMONS: ESPN has mostly guys who have real life press or literary credentials writing for them, even on Page 2. I think Simmons is one of the few who has made a name for himself from writing on the Internet, and it shows in his enthusiasm and his willingness to wrap up the NBA season using quotes from Rounders. (Read part one then part two.) It shows in his counter-intuitive arguments too, unless he actually understands the NBA better than most writers, Internet or not. Anyway, here's Bill:

To David Stern and the NBA in general ... could this season have gone any better? The new rules served their purposes to a tee (increasing scoring, jump-starting fast breaks, changing the tempo and giving NBA fans the best product we've seen in 10 years). Those phenomenal draft classes from '95 to '99 finally started hitting their collective prime. The Pistons and Celtics finally turned things around, giving the league two more marquee franchises for April and May. Three likable players (Pierce, Nowitzki and McGrady) emerged as legitimate superstars. And it promises to be the most competitive playoffs in recent memory.

And if that wasn't enough, MJ returned and pulled a Pink, gettin' this party starrrr-ted by playing 60 games, hooking himself up to the Juvenation Machine for two months, raising interest in the NBA, touching a whole new generation of fans, making everyone in the league a boatload of money ... and gracefully disappearing down the stretch (thanks to his aching knees). Now the New Guys take the reigns.

Contrast this with something found in this piece by Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News-Tribune, also published today:

I agree with the silvery tongued D. Stern that this has in fact been a pretty good season in the NBA, given that a few playoff spots in the East are still to be determined, and seeding in the West changes by the day.

But with all due respect to Stern -- whom we should nickname Rumpelstiltskin because he spins so much gold -- there actually have been some disappointments in the 2001-2002 campaign.

Michael Jordan's aching knees brought the Wizards' playoff run to a screeching halt.
The most obvious, of course, is that Michael Jordan did not complete his season with the Washington Wizards. Actually, the more baffling question about Jordan is what ever happened to his divorce? Now that is a disappointment.

Imagine all the grit and gristle that would have come out of that thing. One day, you hear that Juanita is going to take the children and hole up in their 150,000 square-foot mansion like the family in Land of the Lost, and I get interested. The next, Juanita says everything is hunky dory, and she holes up in her 150,000 square-foot mansion like the family in Land of the Lost, and Michael continues to drive the kiddies to college. I wanted details. I wanted smut. I wanted fresh material for The Enquirer and, well, ESPN.com. That is my biggest disappointment.

Barring that, though, I'd have to list MJ's season-ending knee injury. I'll be honest, if the Wizards made the playoffs, I was going to vote Jordan as the league's MVP. I nearly gave him the award just for getting that team close to .500. I mean, have you see that group of players. Christian Laettner? Jahidi White? The fact that Jordan had them believing in themselves is something of a miracle in itself, and I would have liked to see what he did on the national stage of the playoffs. Now, we'll have to wait, hopefully, for next season, and by then maybe Michael and Juanita will be fighting again and we can double-dip.

You see the difference? Or am I just making this up? Old Media Guy: MJ's comeback a disappointment because the Wizards didn't make the playoffs. New Media Guy: MJ's comeback great for the league as it led to a lot of sellouts and to renewed mass interest in the league. Again, maybe Simmons just knows the NBA better than most, or maybe just throwing your thoughts out there in the Internet leads to better things than sticking to the daily grind-out-the-copy newspaper grind. This is, as ever, a completely unsubstantiated point.

Also interesting is that Simmons thinks the current league is the best it's been in ten years. This means --in his opinion-- that the bulk of the Jordan years were not that good --I guess in a competitive sense, but maybe in an aesthetic sense as well. Huh. Something I hope he explains further at some point.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

MORE NORML: Smoking marijuana does not have a long-term effect on intelligence. And "under certain test conditions, the complex way alcohol and cannabis combine to affect driving behaviour suggests that someone who has taken both may drive less recklessly than a person who is simply drunk" says an earlier New Scientist story. Apparently the increased awareness that pot engenders gets people to slow down because they know they're impaired. But read the whole thing. Pot remains the dumbest part of a very dumb drug war.
COLD WAR REDEUX --I MEAN REDUX: Charles Murtaugh --reacting to a bit of Glenn Reynolds reader mail-- is non-bullish on our relationship with Europe, and France in particular:

It may actually be that the first Cold War was the only thing holding back this second one, at least if it is true that the Gaullists are spearheading it. Even before September 11, Americans were routinely treated with especial contempt by the French, and it sounds as if it has only spread through the Continent since then. A friend of mine was stuck in Belgium in the days after the terrorist attacks, and he tells me it was all he could do to not resort to fisticuffs in response to the endemic anti-Americanism.

And to think I was watching the Marseilles scene in Casablanca a few days ago and thinking to myself, "How could anybody hate the French?" And I never really thought of Casablanca as a propaganda movie, though there is a lot of pro-France and anti-Germany in it --though what movie didn't at the time? This American French hate (and the French American hate) must be a more recent development, having its roots in I don't know what. French humiliation at loss of position in the world? That seems more likely; after the New Wave in movies, France hasn't had a lot of impact in anything cultural. And politically they're known for fighting losing battles in former colonies. So I'm guessing the France-America hate has its roots more there than here, since America was by-and-large an admirer of France since its inception --all that Lafayette and Statue Of Liberty stuff counted for something.
CULTURAL PREFERENCES WATCH --SORT OF: Noble pervert Fred Lapides links to a page full of pictures of Japanese women in tiny tiny one-piece bathing suits --think Phantom Lady but tinier-- which apprently were or are in style there. This is one of those times where I wish I lived in the hyper fashion-conscious suppress-your-individuality nation of Japan, where the women will wear the tiny outfits if it is in style at the time. Of course by the time I got there the fashions will have gone 180 and the girls will be back to wearing knee-length 19th century things --such is my luck.

UPDATE: Upon further review it appears I have been fooled by an obvious bit of Photoshopping. In my will to believe the Japanese girls were wearing these tiny things I looked past the blurriness of it all --it is in fact of set of pictures of naked women whose naughty bits have been cleverly edited away, and is now more and less intriguing than it was before. More because of the sheer effort it took to paint tiny elaborate outfits on naked people, and less because the naked people were, in fact, naked and not wearing tiny outifts. We regret the error.
SHOUT OUTS: Thanks to Last Page and Media Minded (who is way outre than me) and Louder Fenn (yes, I answer to Jason, even on the Internet) for their recent mentions. And Andrea wrote in to tell me that bailz had kind words for me too. Thanks, bailz! Though I have no idea where the Australian interest is in this blog --I hope you're not confusing my AFL with yours.

Jim is making mention of me blogging when I said I was going to be studying. Man's gotta blog though, know what I'm sayin'? But I reenter sporadicness again after today. I think.
SITUATION NORML, WE'RE ALL FINE HERE....HOW ARE YOU?: Mike Bloomberg featured in big pro-pot ad. This is going to be NORMLs version of all those Drink Milk milk moustache ads:

The advertisement is part of pro-marijuana group The NORML Foundation's $500,000 campaign that will feature Bloomberg, who was quoted in a 2001 magazine article as saying he had smoked marijuana and liked it. The group said this is the largest ever ad campaign calling for the reform of marijuana laws.

``You bet I did, and I enjoyed it,'' Bloomberg said in an April 16, 2001, New York magazine article, before he was elected mayor, in response to the question if he had ever smoked marijuana.


The text of the ad said NORML applauds Bloomberg's candor, and lumped him in with former President Bill Clinton, New York Gov. George Pataki and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as another public official who it says has admitted he smoked pot.

``Millions of people smoke marijuana today,'' said NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup, a lawyer who says he has been smoking pot for 30 years, at a midtown news conference on Tuesday. ``They come from all walks of life, and that includes your own mayor.''

This could be perhaps leading to a full-scale media blitz involving magazine ads and billboards featuring famous people smoking a doobie --like that famous Jimi Hendrix picture. Neat.
SHORT TRACK: Apolo Ohno less welcome in South Korea at the World Cup than Osama bin Laden as voted by South Korean college students. Get over yourselves, South Korea! You just won and won and won some more at the worlds in Montreal and you're still bitter over the Olympics?

But then I read this part: "Filling out the ranks of undesirables at the May 31-June 30 World Cup soccer finals was U.S. comedian Jay Leno and Brigitte Bardot, the former French actress and strident animal rights campaigner." Any nation that finds it in themselves to hate the inexplicably popular Jay Leno is fine with me.
FIGURE SKATING: Michelle Kwan wins an award I've never heard of for being the most idealistic amateur athlete of the year or some such. I guess this is some kind of compensation for being completely non-bitter after two Olympics without gold medals. The obvious question, of course, is: by what standards is Kwan an amateur? What about all those Chevy ads? Figure skating is weird because the moment you turn "pro" is the moment you cease to compete in an actual competitive sport and turn to Ice Capades or Stars On Ice or what have you. Which isn't even a sport in the pro wrestling sense because they don't pretend it's anything competitive. Stars On Ice therefore could be improved by turning it into a league of its own with internal rankings and champions and rivals and everything that makes a sport go. I swear it could work.
NHL: Montreal Canadiens clinch playoff spot the night team captain Saku Koivu comes back from cancer. For the first time in a long time, five of the original six are in the playoffs. Yes, the Rangers are --as ever-- the ones that couldn't hold up their end of the deal.
CBA: The Dakota Wizards beat the Rockford Lightning for the title. I offer this without comment.
NBA: Nets win first division title ever after not making the playoffs last year. They need three wins to take the Eastern Conference and get homecourt advantage --which inexplicably is good for the Nets, who have a great home record despite playing to the apathetic Jersey crowd. The Nets are two-time ABA champions (the Spurs, by the way, are the only former ABA team to win the NBA title.)

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

VINCE CARTER: Marc Stein poo-poos the Ewing Theory as applied to the Carter-free Raptors. Marc, you're no fun at all.
LIBERTARIAN WATCHING: I thought Justin Raimondo was just trolling Virginia Postrel with his latest, but Andy Kashdan had problems with her "antiwar libertarian" post and days before Justin did. Hopefully Fearless Reader of Libertarians Jim Henley will have something on this at some point.
MORE PALESTINE: Ye gods, read the entire Jim Henley response to Steven Postrel. Is good, is very good. A small sample:

Let me be clear: when I say "repressive regime," I mean not Israel as a whole, or the Israeli government as such. But I do mean the Occupation. All the defensive blather about how really the Palestinians have it much worse in Arab countries does not mean that they do not, in an absolute sense, have it bad in the West Bank and Gaza. Nor does the fact that there was a time, at least, when the Occupation made military sense. Countries can't become prisoners of their own illusions about themselves.
ANOTHER PALESTINE ANGLE: Suspected Palestinian collaborators are publicly executed without trial. I hate to use the f-word --using the term fascism on the Internet is just slightly more credible than using the term Hitler on the Internet-- but this is fasctacular.

For the "Did you know?" file: "In the last intifada, from 1987-93, more than 800 suspected collaborators were killed by fellow Palestinians."
THAT REMINDS ME: Thinking about there being an arena team in practically every state makes me wonder if there's a blog in every state. I have yet to see the blog from Hawaii or Alaska, unless I have and don't know it.
ARENA: Ipse Dixit has the first arenaball report of the young season. He watched Louisville play Memphis in an af2 contest and seemed to enjoy it for what it was --cheap weird indy football. Check the franchise list --you've probably got an arena team near you.
EWING THEORY IN ACTION: Dan Patrick on how the Raptors are good all of the sudden without Vince Carter:

This winning streak is a slap in Vince's face. The team comes alive when he goes out? That has to be troubling. The team is spreading the ball around. They're not waiting around for Vince. The guys know that they can do something with the ball rather than wait to see what Vince has. Are the Raptors a better team without their most talented player? I don't know the answer to that, but the evidence is troubling. I think it's hard to say it's a coincidence that they've won without him.

Carter gets picked on a lot in part because he has all those endorsement deals and is all over the tv despite not having a good record as his team's go-to guy. Maybe he has a good agent, which means Iverson's agent has to get on the ball. Unless Iverson is so protective of his image that he just can't do a lot of commercials as they would require him to be in a role where he would be less legit or what have you. Like, the smiling Sprite drinker Kobe has been playing lately. And what's up with that new one in the Sprite "express yourself" or whatever series, where Kobe's high school teachers and his (I guess) Philly barber were telling him to hit the books and that "he could have been an oceanographer." Oh my gosh, if he'd done that, he wouldn't be playing professional basketball right now, is the message of that ad. Hey dinks: most people can't play basketball like Kobe Bryant, most people should be encouraged to hit the books and become oceanographers, and your commercial stinks on ice. (The underlying theme of those commercials is that it is never warm or sunny in Philadelphia. Thanks, that's so true.) So pack it up, Sprite. Even the current less funny incarnation of the Seven Up Guy is funnier than your Kobe wackiness.

Monday, April 08, 2002

BONFIRE OF THE GUCCIONES: The Daze Reader points out that the New York Times has a story on the financial woes of Penthouse story. Bob Guccione is trying to blame it on Internet porn --hey, just like my local news stations do in child abduction stories-- for the failure of Penthouse, but as the story makes clear Guccione's failure has to do with him trying to do too much:

For three decades, the effusively decorated house served as a headquarters for Mr. Guccione's far-flung interests. Neither satisfied by nor ashamed of his status as a pornographer, Mr. Guccione sought to wriggle out of the pigeonhole and overreached in the process. His efforts at more general interest magazines — Omni and Longevity — failed. He spent millions on an unsuccessful attempt to develop small nuclear fusion reactors, financing a team led by Robert W. Bussard, a nuclear scientist.

"Those kind of mistakes can be devastating," said Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler. "The secret to my success is that I stayed away from what I didn't know."

Mr. Guccione's gamble on Atlantic City was probably his costliest. In 1978, he announced plans for a $200 million casino at a site on the Boardwalk. He never received a gambling license, and the four-story steel structure sat rusting for 10 years while an elderly homeowner, Vera Coking, held out and stymied him. Mr. Guccione switched his efforts to a joint venture with Ramada Inn to develop a $140 million luxury club near the entrance to the city. That fizzled, as well, and he sold both parcels, with the proceeds being used to pay down a $28 million loan from Kennedy Funding of Hackensack, N.J. Calls to Kennedy Funding were not returned.

"Larry Flynt is right!" --your Simpsons quote of the day. (From the Stephen Hawking episode.) The other big porno mags (Playboy, Club, and Hustler) don't seem to be in any danger of going under --Flynt opened a lame-sounding Hustler strip club in San Francisco recently, in fact (again via Daze.) Though Flynt apparently isn't taking much risk with that:

The thing is, Flynt has almost nothing to do with the Hustler Club. He merely sells his name, and that of Hustler, for a small portion of the proceeds. Another company, SAW Productions, owns and operates the club, along with the infamous Condor Club nearby, said Lt. Bruce Lorin, the San Francisco police officer who deals with city permits for such clubs.

In other words, it's just another North Beach strip club.

The NY Times article offers one more explanation for the fall of Penthouse: the 1997 decision to go hardcore:

"In the end, the decision to go hard-core is part of what brought Penthouse down," said Dian Hanson, a former editor of Leg Show, an adult magazine, who is now working on a two-volume history of the men's magazine industry. "Penthouse had a name and a reputation, but when people looked inside, they were shocked at what it had become. Once they went hard-core, they lost a lot of their placement at newsstands. Men's magazines are an impulse buy. It takes a lot more determination to drive to a windowless cinder block building out on the highway than picking up a magazine while you are out buying some milk for your family."

One more Daze item: a transcript of Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live trashtalking the Hefner girlfriends. The pyschopathology of Hugh Hefner has gone mainstream.

Saturday, April 06, 2002

POSTING BECOMES SPORADIC: As I enter the pit of mine own education. But do please check back in.

Friday, April 05, 2002

OLYMPICS: The IOC gives Athens a good report card. I'll believe it when I see it --2004 still looks like trouble to me.
QUOTELOG: Virginia Postrel: "Eric Alterman is another matter, but he writes for The Nation, which is as marginal as any blog." With apologies to Photodude.

UPDATE: Oh, one more. Rabbit:

But does it make sense to write "self-disciplined", or isn't "disciplined" enough, and "self-disciplined" is one of those faux words that David Foster Wallace would roll his eyes at and then never come back to my humble blog. (David! Please! Come back! Don't be so prejudiced against those who are less detail-oriented than you because they spent their high school years prancing around in a cheerleader uniform and therefore had much less trouble getting laid than you did and therefore they had better shit to do than to parse semantics! They probably even put that the wrong way, but it's only because their brains are clouded by last night's Survivor episode, which they watched because they know how to relax, unlike you, you fucking prolific freak! Just because they drank too much and chased man-titty in college instead of reading their Sartre doesn't mean they don't have something to offer the world, if only to the world of like-minded morons! Maybe you'd like them, if you knew them! Maybe you'd like them, if you got off your soft ass and called them up, they know you're teaching over there in Pomona where their brother went to school, they know you're a big fucking deal but you still sit at home bored and lonely, hoping to spend time with former cheerleaders who think you're fabulous because they're slightly shallow and like soft, hairy men who wrap their massive brains in dew rags to keep the cold and damp out.)
MAYBE THOSE ROYAL FAMILIES HAD THE RIGHT IDEA: Informative Charles Murtaugh post on the ethics and risks of first cousins getting married. Did you know that first-cousin reproduction is less risky than in vitro fertilization?
UNINTENTIONAL GOOGLEBOMB WATCH: Mike Sanders mixed matter and anti-matter and accidentally unleashed the googlebomb on a different subject. Which I won't recreate here, despite to say it involves the certain Swedish love interest of a certain Cablinasian-American. If you know what I mean.

Wait, reading farther down the page I read this is actually a controlled experiment in Google manipulation. Mike, no! We don't know what messing with the Google aether will do --there could be a chain reaction resulting in the spontaneous meltdown of evey page Google has ever indexed. There's some things Man was just not meant to know, and the mysterious internal workings of Google is one of them.

You canna change the laws of physics.
LONG NATIONAL NIGHTMARE OVER REDEUX: Knicks miss playoffs for first time since 1987. Thank you, Portland TrailBlazers. Thank you, Maurice Cheeks and Scottie Pippen and Rasheed Wallace. The NBA-watching audience of America and the world has one less unwatchable playoff series. Well, I don't know how watchable some of the Eastern series are going to be --but still. If you can knock off the Jazz that would be another, but that's a stretch.

Hey, is redeux a word? I can't find it in any dictionary but type it in google and you get a ton of entries. Is it, like irregardless, a non-word in general circulation?
CLIPPERS WATCH: Lose to Mavs 115-90. The dream is over for this season.
PUBLIC STATEMENT OF REGRET: I have been getting a bunch of hits lately for the Kiana Tom pictures, which I do not have nor know where to have. But --cripes!-- Playboy is only five bucks, go buy a copy. Anyway, I deeply regret my unintentional use of the googlebomb in regards to this subject, and apologize to the porn surfers and their families who have suffered from the lack of stark naked fitness instructors upon these pages. There you have it.

Thursday, April 04, 2002

ANOTHER WATCHMAN HEARD FROM: Fooling around in the Blogdex I find The Comedian. I wonder if he's met Dr. Manhattan yet.
I AM A CLINTONISTA: Reading this Josh Marshall post about Clinton-hating --Josh thinks that Clinton is just as sleazy as any other politician, he just has more candor about it-- leads me to dig up the greatest Clinton-hating article I ever read from the Reason archives: Edith Efron's Can The President Think? Read it if you never have.
OTHER AMERICAN TALIBANS WATCH: Ken Layne links to this article about a guy at Camp X-Ray who says he's an American. American because he was born in Baton Rouge, but his parents moved back to Saudi Arabia soon after so the unnamed officials in the article are not even sure if he speaks English or not. I dunno. Does your citizenship relapse if you never use it?
WORTH READING: Bill Simmons has his Top 40 NBA Players list up. Check it out. I think Bill's of two minds on Shaquille O'Neal; he's had him as "the greatest Second Banana of all time" before (this time it's Kevin Garnett) yet he thinks a vindictive Shaq could find a way to dominate the league if the Lakers ever slighted him. Bill also has Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson as the three greatest competitors in the league --can't disagree with that. And he's joined the Ben Wallace lovefest.
KOBE BRYANT: NOT MICHAEL JORDAN QUITE YET: Man the Nets escaped by the skin of their teeth last night. I know, Kobe got hit on the head on that final shot, but he still looked like he was going to pull off some Jordan-level heroics and send the game into overtime --though it was Kenyon Martin's dumb foul that put the Nets in that position in the first place. It's weird thinking the Kobe is only 23 despite being in the league for forever and is only going to continue to improve.

By the way, I couldn't help but notice this quip:

"New Jersey drew its sixth sellout crowd of the season, with many of the fans cheering loudly for the Lakers."

Welcome to New Jersey, where you pretend you don't have any kind of regional identity. Sixth sellout? After leading the Eastern Conference for just about the whole season? Cripes, those are Devils-esque numbers. Maybe the Nets will pull a 1995 Devils and beat a hugely-favored team in the finals, as whatever team comes out of the West is going to be. Maybe not.
DURN: Jeff Van Gundy isn't coaching the Mystics after all. Via OurSportsCentral. Pat Summitt is consulting them, but I'd rather Pat coached the Bulls or something. Not that it matters who coaches the Mystics, they have the best attendance in the league despite having always stunk, which is one of those things I haven't seen a good explanation for --either it's a lot of lobbyists buying up tickets or people in Washington have a love for women's basketball. Maybe Jim has a theory.
BASEBALL: Allen Barra deconstructs the simple big markets=baseball success argument. He's responding to this New York Times article by Nicholas Dawidoff in particular:

If winning were simply a matter of a large payroll, then why couldn't Mr. Dawidoff and everyone else have predicted that the Arizona Diamondbacks were going to win the World Series last year? Why in fact don't the Atlanta Braves win the World Series every year? Surely it is apparent to Dawidoff that the enormous Yankees payroll of recent seasons has not gone to free-agent superstars but to reward the Yankees' largely homegrown talent for what they have already won.

I have my own problems with the Dawidoff piece, like when he says:

Part of the reason many of America's finest writers, from Walt Whitman to William Carlos Williams and Robert Frost, have been drawn to baseball is that they felt the game stood for some of the very best aspects of being American. "It's our game," Whitman wrote, and it "belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly as our Constitution's laws." As a professional game played by men sized and shaped like average citizens, baseball has always seemed to represent the virtues of honest competition and fair play. It is enormously alienating to most fans — for whom baseball is an escape from the prosaic matters like wages and budgets — that it has become impossible to talk about the sport without talking about money.

Let's not forget that that particular list of America's finest writers lived in an era when baseball was all people had to watch. The post-modern era has a zillion different sports to watch and I think you could argue any of them as being representative of fair play or democracy or the American way or what have you. Paglia thinks football is the American sport, and you could make a case for pro wrestling on the cultural level. I like baseball as much as the next guy, but I can't take arguments of baseball essentialism telling me why it's the One True American Sport --it's an unnecessary argument, as unnecessary as baseball's antitrust exemption (and I'm suddenly thinking the two are related in an unconscious way.) Just watch the game and enjoy it; there's no need to invoke Walk freaking Whitman.

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

DEBUNKING REVISITED: Reading some of the flap and the impassioned responses to the existence of a book that claims the Pentagon did not get hit by a plane on September 11, here's the debunking of that that was posted by Andy Kashdan a while back. I love the fact that the debunking brings in one conspiracy theory to debunk another, that it's government spooks who are feeding this rumor out to reduce the credibility of their opponents:

Note the timing of the phony story, appearing just at the right moment to distract attention away from the Israeli spy scandal, right when the United States, even as it tries to conceal the existence of the spy ring, rounds up the Israelis and deports them..

Even now, after more photos have been released of the plane's impact into the Pentagon, the shills are still wandering around the internet, trying to keep the "debate" going over whether there is an airplane or there isn't. The aircraft itself isn't the issue; tricking the public into paying attention to the debate is the real goal because if the public is paying attention to the various parties pretending to argue over whether there is an airplane or not, then the public is NOT paying attention to what the government spooks don't want the public paying attention to, namely the Israeli spies and their connection to the events of 9-11.

This is why, even though the claim that Flight 77 had not hit the Pentagon never explained where flight 77 went off to if it didn't hit the Pentagon, even though photos have surfaced of the aircraft debris and even though there are witnesses that saw the plane, the spooks are working even harder to try to keep this story alive; to manufacture a false debate as an attractant, because this is the only way they can control what the public is looking at, to keep the public from looking at the spy scandal and what it means that the United States Government CLASSIFIED the evidence that linked those Israeli spies to the events of 9-11.

Everyone who is still trying to keep this missing plane story alive, to manufacture a controversy where none really exists, to distract from the Israel spy scandal, is either an idiot or working for the governments of the United States and of Israel.

Indulging yourself in a conspiracy theory is like telling a lie: one begets another, until you're so surrounded with half-truths that you can't separate fact from fiction anymore. Kind of like parts of a good Philip K. Dick novel.
SHORT TRACK: Exists even after the Olympics. South Korea won the women's team title and China the men's in Milwaukee on Sunday. Up next: the Worlds in Montreal. I can't find the barest hint that any of this is going to be on tv, though.
CLIPPERS WATCH: Scott Howard-Cooper brings the tempered enthusiasm on ESPN.com, saying 1. it would take a miracle for the Clippers to make the playoffs at this point, and 2. that isn't so bad after all:

It all comes with the backdrop of a season in which the Clippers showed this is something worth keeping together. Capacity crowds are the norm at the end of the season. Richardson is a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year; Olowokandi, getting better by the month, for Most Improved Player. Brand will make the trade with the Bulls the right move even if Chandler turns into a star. General Manager Elgin Baylor should get some attention from his peers for Executive of the Year. Alvin Gentry won't get much play for Coach of the Year, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't, given that the team has made the massive jump the last two seasons on his watch. He has given a young team breathing room while getting smarter on the court, while he's stressed attitude and comportment as much as defending the pick and roll.

Combined, it has gotten them this far, with the rest up to Sterling. It has gotten them all the way to missing the playoffs and still being able to feel good about the season. Realistically.
DANG IT: It would've been nice if Alex Beam had tossed me a link when he was mentioning my blog there. I need the traffic from anti-blog articles, I really do.
SEARCHES THAT FIND ME: I'm number 75 for this version of looking for the Kiana Tom pictures in Playboy. If you don't find them: She looked good, the evil Hefnerizing process did not succeed in making her look nonethnic or blonde. In fact, the Hefnerizing removed all trace of the cosmetic surgery Tom is rumored to have had, so maybe artificiality complements artificiality and Kiana Tom is the perfect person to be in Playboy.
NORTH KOREA WATCH: Corsair: "North Korea is not only the wackiest place on earth, it is also the scariest." He has the evidence and Star Trek references to prove it.
NCAA: Tony Woodlief has the same favorite college basketball team as me. And for similiar reasons; he doesn't mention them but he hates the Cameron Crazies too:

My team, Anyone But Duke, won the NCAA men's basketball championship last night. It's not that I have anything against the Duke players, or even their rat-faced, take-a-year-off-when-my-team-is-likely-to-have-a-losing-record coach. It's their students.

Preach on, brotha Tony.

The students who threw sugar packets on the court during their first home game against Maryland following Len Bias's cocaine overdose. The students who taunted North Carolina player Scott Williams after his father killed his mother before shooting himself.


The thousands of pasty, vile, displaced New Jerseyite students whose presence is a perpetual stain on the honor and dignity of my home state.

Yeah! Stick it to the man! Tell those lousy little New Jerseyites --WHA? Yeah whatever, Carolina boy. You and I both know the vast majority of caterwauling idiots in Cameron are born-and-bred Carolina types, probably high on Vicodin and Jim Beam since they only got a few days furlough from the work-release program. Or something.

Maryland, who Is Not Duke, won, by the way. The game lacked the drama of an NIT semifinal game --but at least Maryland won. UConn, on the other hand, won the women's title. I can't hate UConn the way I can hate the Lakers or Duke since those two usually find a way to let the other team into it for a little bit before pulling away. UConn games lack even that drama. I thought women's basketball has progressed to the point where there was more than one good team, so maybe UConn's win is the last gasp of the old days where there were only a few good teams and tons of blowouts --or maybe they are just that good.
REVERSE ENGINEERING: That Chinese spaceship looks a lot like one of our old space capsules, don't it? I wonder why they started with capsules and not something shuttle-like. Too expensive, I guess, unless the shuttle really is a hideous boondoggle and waste of taxpayer resources. But the Chinese have no fear of boondoggles in principle, obviously.
CULTURAL PREFERENCES: Check out the Yahoo robots slideshow and wonder why the Japanese are the only ones building humanoid robots in the year 2002. Our American robots tend to be oversized radio-controlled cars that fight each other on television --an idea stolen from British robots, I think. But they're not consumer goods, or even luxury consumer goods as the Japanese robots seem to be. And --being radio-controlled cars-- they don't do much in the way of self-motivation, which, rudimentarily, the Japanese ASIMOs and whatnot appear to have. I guess the American love of cyberspace makes it more likely that we run our simulated lifeforms on computer screens and not with crude matter. Or else the Japanese love of conspicuous consumption creates new and cooler toys for the public.
SLOW-DEVELOPING SCANDAL WATCH: Fred Lapides links to an article about the Taiwain influence-purchasing scandal Josh Marshall originally reported on. And on and on. This is a lot less fun than the last Taiwan scandal.
HISTORY LESSON: Nice little lesson in the history of India, including such important dates as the formation of the modern state and the emigration of the Kolkata Libertarian, can be found here.

Monday, April 01, 2002

OPENING DAY: Matt Welch has a report on the Angels' opener, among other things. I guess he missed that LA Times piece about how people on the West coast aren't supposed to care about baseball:

"I was brought up in a pressure-packed situation in Boston," Vaughn said before the Mets played the Dodgers in an exhibition game last week. "Overall, the East Coast is a get-it-done-yesterday type situation. And I seem to thrive on that. Not necessarily for the publicity, but the situation. That's the way it is."

Piazza believes there is "more of a football mentality on the East Coast. You lose a game, it's like the end of the world.

"I remember a few years ago, [the Mets] opened the season with a $70-million payroll, in 1999. The first day, we lost to the Marlins and the back page the next day said, '$70-Million Flops.' You laugh about it. Next day, we won the game and it was, 'Mets Get Their Money's Worth.'

"A lot has to do with the blue-collar work ethic of the towns back East. It's reflected in the media, in the whole roller-coaster ride of the media there. You can be a hero one day, next day you're a goat. One day you're the greatest thing since Mickey Mantle, the next day they want to run you out of town."

Philadelphia Phillie Manager Larry Bowa previously coached in Anaheim and managed in San Diego. He has seen major league life from both sides of the country and maintains that "overall, there's more of a sense of urgency to excel on the East Coast. They don't have a lot of other things to do, whereas on the West Coast, the fans have a lot of stuff to do out there. It's more laid-back. It's a little more casual. It's really a form of entertainment for them.

"On the East Coast, it's, 'Hey, we want you to win at all costs. It's our summer, don't screw it up.'"

On the East Coast, a defeat is treated "like a death in the family," Bowa said. "Especially if they have high expectations for you and you're floundering early. I mean, you turn on a radio talk show and you get buried, everybody's getting buried....

"You can feel that, that urgency as soon as you take the field. Obviously, they're a lot more vocal. If you don't do well, they let you know about it. I'm not saying they don't boo on the West Coast, but it's very minimal compared to the East Coast."

Part of it can be attributed to location. So it's July in Southern California and the Angels are losing? So let's surf/kayak/jog/roller-blade/golf the blues away.

Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens says he has "seen a few times in Anaheim where a guy is throwing a cool game and people get up in the fifth, sixth or seventh inning and head for the beach."

Me personally, I can't start following baseball until the (lousy stupid) Lakers win the inevitable championship and another team's name is inscripted on the Stanley Cup. (The Devils got a chance, I swear.) And then there's the AFL, WNBA and WUSA. But when all that's done with --yes, baseball operates on such a mammoth scale timewise that three minor pro sports complete their entire seasons within baseball's regular season-- I'm right there with baseball. In the meantime I'm sure Ken will have lots of baseball love. I mean, I'm always up for going to a baseball game but as for actually following the sport over a 162-game season --man, just like those supposed West coast baseball fans and the beach, I got other stuff to pay attention to.
THAT LAKERS-SPURS GAME: With Duncan getting hit as he was going for the winning shot? No foul was called. It's just one of the infuriating things about the game of basketball, that it is so open to referee manipulation, and the most dependent on officiating of the four major sports. You watch basketball knowing sometimes the officials are going to stink. This was one of those times; I mean, I only caught the last five minutes, but Tim Duncan really got hacked.

The Albert/Walton/Jones combination, by the way, is the least credible announcing team on national television --"national" to exclude local broadcast teams who aren't supposed to be all that credible. Marv Albert is all right, he's good when he has Fratello there. But Walton and Jones are just there to have little fake fights with each other like wrestling announcing teams do sometimes. It's not as entertaining as they or NBC thinks it is. Hopefully when ESPN and ABC get the NBA, they'll lay off the cuteness and bring in people who aren't trying to put themselves over all the time.