Tuesday, December 30, 2003

MY LEFT-LEANING LIBERTARIAN-NESS CONFIRMED: Sort of. Witness my ideal Presidential candidates:

1. Your ideal theoretical candidate. (100%)
2. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (72%)
3. Libertarian Candidate (61%)
4. Kucinich, Rep. Dennis, OH - Democrat (55%)
5. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (55%)
6. Clark, Retired General Wesley K., AR - Democrat (53%)
7. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat (46%)
8. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (46%)
9. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol, IL - Democrat (40%)
10. Lieberman, Senator Joe, CT - Democrat (39%)
11. Gephardt, Rep. Dick, MO - Democrat (37%)
12. Bush, President George W. - Republican (28%)
13. Phillips, Howard - Constitution (21%)

My boy Dean is coming up presidential in aught-four--naysayers be damned! DOCTOR DEAN IN THE WHITE HIZZOUSE.....

Via the DVDVR.

Monday, December 29, 2003

PEYTON MANNING LOVERS CAN GET BENT: Your favorite liquored-up Canadian kicker saved the Colts' bacon yet again. Your favorite liquored-up BADASS KICKER:

Vanderjagt informed Dungy and quarterback Peyton Manning that the offense needed to get him to the Houston 25-yard line to set up the game-winner.

"Mike told me, 'Don't make it hard,' " Manning said. "I said, 'Inside the 25?' He said, 'Yeah, that would work.' "

Manning drove the Colts from their own 10-yard line to the Texans 24 with nine seconds remaining. On third down, Manning slid off left guard for a 1-yard loss to position Vanderjagt in the middle of the field.

On the sideline, Vanderjagt was anything but nervous.

"I was joking that it was the 41st kick in a row, to win a game, to win the division," he said. "I was asking if anybody on the sidelines wanted to kick it. Nobody offered, so I figured I'd do it myself."

I picture him on the sideline, idly smoking a cigarette, speaking in monosyllabic French, waiting for his time to go in.

Friday, December 26, 2003

YAO-SHAQ III: The curiously underhyped Yao-Shaq III, that is--I'm guessing LeBron has stolen all Yao's HYPE! Or else the NBA/shoe company hype machines are only capable of pushing one guy at a time. Anyhow, the Rockets won. Shaq barely won the statistical war. But, again, the hype was lacking. The Rockets have kind of fallen off the face of the nationally televised Earth this season, but with so many great NBA stories this year (New Look Lakers/Mavs/Spurs/Kings, the Nuggets, the Cavs, the freakin' Warriors, Flip Murray and the Sonics, Pacers and Pistons with new coaches--basically every team not in the Atlantic Division is a good story) I can understand the Rockets getting lost in the shuffle. I do miss the weekly "Yao Ming, in town tonight, is energizing the local Chinese community" from last season. And we probably won't get any more reports of the Miami Heat handing out fortune cookies when the Rockets are in town.

Monday, December 22, 2003

DUMB, THEN DUMBER: That's right, New York Knickerbockers. Replacing Scott Layden with Isiah Thomas is the way to go. Because of his proven track record and all. Uh-huh.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

SOMEBODY EXPLAIN THE SAGARIN COLLEGE FOOTBALL RATINGS TO ME: How is Miami of Ohio number 5? Why the huge disconnect between the polls and the Sagarin computer? Paging Josh Crockett. Again.
YOUR NEWEST SPORTS VOCABULARY WORD: Free Press headline: Panthers fan almost pulls a 'Bartman.'

Thursday, November 06, 2003

MEMO TO MATRIX REVOLUTIONS: Please don't suck....please don't suck....

Gotta remind myself going in: Self, the Wachowskis said somewhere that this was a superhero movie. Look at it like that. You've heard that Revolutions leaves a jillion plot threads unanswered and you'll forgive this in a superhero comic. Try and forgive it here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

TWO GREAT THINGS ABOUT WATCHING THE LAKERS THIS YEAR: 1. The presence of four great players on the court minimizes the use and talk about the amazing wonderful colossal Triangle Offense, which has--of course--worked in such a variety of settings and with such a variety of players. 2. The presence of four great players minmizes the on-court time of the annoying associate Laker hanger-ons: Fisher, Fox, and Devean George. The absence of Robert Horry and Samaki Walker helps with this as well.

Oh, and 3. Seeing how much time Luke Walton gets. That's fun.

Monday, November 03, 2003

HEFNER WATCH: Dan Drezner leads us all to Laura Kipnis in Slate:

Playboy, the world's best-selling men's magazine, is about to turn 50, and the upcoming months are awhirl with festivities to celebrate what parent company Playboy Enterprises Inc. likes to refer to as its "iconic brand." But behind all the merriment, how's this supremely youth-fixated magazine dealing with the greatest of narcissistic injuries: impending senior citizenship? Pretty awkwardly, just like the rest of us, grasping at the same ineffectual antidotes: extreme makeovers (check out those taut new "infographics") and messy divorces (aging senior editors ditched for a more nubile masthead, airlifted in from Maxim).

Playboy's founding father, Hugh Hefner, 77, has eased his own similar predicament by dosing himself with Viagra to keep up with his seven girlfriends. Or at least that's what he says. It's always been unclear how much of Hefner's act is self-parody, and these days his magazine begs much the same question. The recent infusions of frat-boy raunchiness are shouldering out the old smoking-jacketed sophistication, and the magazine seems to have lost all control over its editorial tone, confused about whether to act its age or try to get down with the kids. The result—well, it's a lot like a 77-year-old guy surrounded by Playmates and maxed out on Viagra: really pumped, but wheezing.


The decline in sales is offset by the upswing in self-mythologizing, however, and the anniversary is sure providing the occasion for a lot of pomposity. Clearly the media empire and the bevy of babes aren't enough to ease Hef into his golden years; what he really wants these days is cultural legitimacy. As Larry Flynt has said of Hefner, "He has never been able to come to grips with the fact that he is a pornographer." No, Hef wants his place in history, and to see that he gets it, Playboy's archivists have resuscitated the rambling 345-page "Playboy Philosophy," originally published in 1962, and posted it on the 50th-anniversary Web site. Listen up, America: Playboy wasn't just some girlie mag; it had its own philosophical tome.

Which may explain why Hef namedrops "Picasso" sometimes in interviews. Anyhow, Kipnis and I are in agreement that Playboy is a magazine with little reason for continuing to exist. Somebody talked Hef into making these incredible dark-haired Brazilian twins--with differently-placed tattoos so you can tell them apart--Playmates this month, so it still works as porn sometimes. But as non-porn it barely rises above the level of NBA Inside Stuff in terms of having something distinct to say. It gets its hinder beat by every type of Maxim magazine for the repressed fratboy audience and by every type of Hustler magazine for the midnight choking audience.

Friday, October 24, 2003

GOLLY: Se Ri Pak makes cut in men's event. The ladies playing on the men's tour thing has been happening so much lately, I had forgotten that nobody (Sorenstam, Whaley, Davies, Wie) had actually made the cut yet. Here's analysis from an apparent gold expert.
YES, THE NEW FIGURE SKATING SEASON HAS BEGUN: Here's a report on the new points system in action.
ACC HATE POST OF THE DAY: Mark Blaudschun in the Boston Globe:

But most of what is happening doesn't make sense and shouldn't have happened. Why? Greed, pure and simple. Greed by the people in the ACC who started all of this over the summer with their successful courting of Miami and Virginia Tech, and two weeks ago, BC.

John Casteen, the Virginia president, put the ACC's spin on it last week at the conference's official welcoming party for BC.

"It has not been an easy process," said Casteen, understating the issue somewhat, who then said the move secured the future of the ACC.

But that begs a larger question. Who was threatening the ACC and its future? It had nine members, each making money. It has a reputation as a great basketball conference, with Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia; the academic foundation was as strong as any in collegiate athletics; and the football reputation was growing in stature each year, spearheaded by Florida State's perennial presence in the Top 10.

Where was the threat? From the Sunbelt Conference? From the Big East? From Conference USA? The ACC was the East Coast's version of the Pac-10 -- a great conference with a nice geographic fit to it.

no one was threatening the ACC's future. None of its schools was losing money or in danger of losing money.

But ACC officials wanted more, specifically a conference championship game in football. The conference wanted a possible second BCS spot, which the ACC thought it had a better chance of acquiring if a watered down Big East lost its guaranteed spot.

So, led by Georgia Tech and Florida State, the ACC went on a mission they said was for survival but had search-and-destroy characteristics.

Of course, I'm not quoting the part where he criticizes the Big East for their continuing litigation. Time constrainsts, donchaknow.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


Tuesday, October 21, 2003


How could such a thoughtful, deliberate, and precise journalist have gone so stupendously wrong? Having edited Easterbrook numerous times over the years, I know him to be a polymath and a quick study, as well as a good critic of his own work. But this is the first Easterbrook piece that appears to be written from a position of ignorance. His career has been about rigor, originality, and sincerity. That said, perhaps he's not the guy who should write without the safety net of an editor.

Or the flip side of that, as I was thinking, is maybe he isn't that good of a blogger. Everybody talks out of their ass when they're blogging from time to time, and it's probably good to give warning of when you're leaving the area of the facts you think you have an informed opinion on and moving into the zone of the ass. Maybe even the slightest "I don't know movies, but I know what I like" comment from Gregg could have mitigated the silliness to come. It's just protocol, you know? I think a lot of journalists who turn to blogging have trouble switching from the authoritative journalist voice to the hey-what's-up, here's what I'm thinking blogger voice, and we may have a case of that here.

This is all ignoring the obvious explanation, of course: don't harsh on the boss.
ANOTHER QUESTION FOR THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL DORKS: Is Marshall moving to Conference USA really that good an idea? They already play in a pro-football conference--the beloved MAC--and they're being asked to move into an all-sport conference where they'll probably be doormats in non-football sports for years. A rather unstable all-sport conference at that, with little regional identity, not that Marshall is the greatest fit in the Ohioriffic MAC. But unless they're trying to finagle their way into a more nationally-recognized conference in the future (and who besides the Big East is going to be needing more members?) I don't see the point in leaving the MAC.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

ONE MORE F.U. TO B.C.: Syracuse whups Boston College. Catch this fall's Boston College Farewell Hate Tour, coming to a Big East arena near you.
1918! CURSE! BUCKY DENT! BOONE! OH WAIT.....: Baltimaher points out something I noticed as well: a lot of Yankees fans wish they were still playing the Red Sox. I'd link to it, but the SportsFrog is a primitive creature, and has not evolved permalinks yet. He said:

I know the general American public isn't enamored with the World Series match-up. But even Yankee fans seem to want to play Boston some more. Visible on tonight's broadcast were 1918 t-shirts, and signs that read "Cowboy Down" and referred to "The Curse."

Memo to Yankee fans: Your team is playing the Marlins, not Boston. The Florida baseball franchise is not cursed. Their fans are not wearing cowboy hats. And your t-shirt should read "1997."

Saturday, October 18, 2003

I DON'T GET THE MIAMI HURRICANES CHAPTER 312: Aren't big football schools supposed to sell out even when they're playing schlubs? There's a lot of empty seats there for Miami/Temple. They're the New Jersey Devils of I-A.
BIG EAST REALIGNMENT: It appears it will look something like this:

South Florida
West Virginia

Notre Dame
Seton Hall
St. John's

Have fun playing in the non-best basketball conference in the nation, BC!

So at the end of this Big East cities will be: Cincinnati, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, Milwaukee, Tampa, Providence, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and the states of New Jersey and Connecticut. The ACC will have Atlanta, Boston, Washington, the states of North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland and various portions of Florida. Way to extend that geographic reach, ACC!

Friday, October 17, 2003

MAGAZINEWATCHING: ESPN The Magazine has best football player on the Indianapolis Colts Mike Vanderjagt on the cover this week. ESPN Mag remains sort of a puffpiece collage aside from the Bill Simmons column. I mean, like I care what ESPN newsreaders think about anything. But they portray Vanderjagt as the only Colts with G-U-T-S so they get some kudos from me this week.
"THERE IS NO TIME FOR SENTIMENT WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO WIN A BALLGAME.": Joe Torre, ladies and gentlemen. The competing quote from Grady Little:

"Pedro Martinez has been our man all year long and in situations like that, he's the one we want on the mound over anybody we can bring in out of the bullpen,'' Little said. "He had enough left in his tank to finish off Posada.''

It's really hard to argue against the notion that Grady was the dealbreaker for the Red Sox. Not that pulling Pedro earlier would've guaranteed a SOX WIN! but at least then he wouldn't have been so obviously outmanaged.

So your World Series is the New York Yankees and the Florida Marlins. The ratings party is over for Fox Sports.

ADDENDUM: Bob Ryan has a little Little defense:

Everybody's going to blame Little for everything, I'm sure, but this is never an easy decision, and there was a lot more to this game than pulling Pedro or not pulling Pedro. Baseball is a lot more complex than that.

Take, for example, the failure to capitalize on a juicy situation in the fourth. Kevin Millar led off the inning with a home run to make it 4-0. Then, with men on first and third -- on a perfectly executed hit-and-run, if you can believe that -- the Red Sox were in a position to blow the game open when Joe Torre summoned Mike Mussina from the pen for his first relief appearance of a career that has had exactly 400 starts. The Moose, who has been slammed by the New York press for coming up small in the postseason while wearing a Yankee uniform, fanned Jason Varitek and induced Johnny Damon to hit into an inning-ending 6-3 double play.

"That was the turning point for me," Torre said. "It kept us there. You feel like you're getting your brains beat out, but you look at the scoreboard and you're still at arm's length."

Thursday, October 16, 2003

NBA REALIGNMENT: The SacBee's Scott Howard-Cooper is the man with the plan:

Western Conference Division A: Golden State, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix and Sacramento. No great surprises.

Western Conference Division B: Portland, Seattle, Denver, Utah and Minnesota. The Loose Change Division. The Pacific Northwest teams had to stay together, the Rockies teams had to stay together, and the Timberwolves had to go somewhere and didn't have any neighbors in the West. So they all ended up together.

Western Conference Division C: Dallas, Houston, Memphis, New Orleans and San Antonio.

Eastern Conference Division A: Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Orlando and Washington.

Eastern Conference Division B: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana and Milwaukee.

Eastern Conference Division C: Boston, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia and Toronto.

As long as the NBA was absolutely positively sure the only franchise that was going to switch conferences was the Hornets, you were going to end up with one really goofy division--Minnesota being in the West screws everything up since it's not near any other Western franchises. I liked my plan better:


New Jersey
New York




New Orleans

San Antonio


But mine split up the Texas teams which is also goofy. I guess the NBA cities are such that there just has to be one geographically unlikely division.
WOO TO THE MUTHAFREAKIN HOO: Preseason Cavs/Lakers on tonight.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

YOUR OBSCURE INTERNATIONAL SPORTS COMPETITION OF THE DAY: FIBA's World Cup for Women's Clubs. It's basketball, and it's happening now.
SOMEONE (ERIC MCERLAIN? JOSH CROCKETT?) EXPLAIN THIS ONE TO ME AGAIN: Why can't BC secede from the Big East in football only? Football obviously has its own rules at the college level: no playoff system, quasi-independence, more of moneymaking thing than the old scholar-athlete ideal. Why doesn't the NCAA allow schools to make football-only associations among themselves? They allow it for other sports. Boston College ice hockey isn't going to play ACC fratboy teams for the next fifty years. Yet Boston College basketball is stuck being the one northerner in a conference full of southerners--as will, I imagine, the rest of the BC teams except hockey. What's going on here?

I GET ANSWERS: Josh writes in the comments in this post on his own blog:

[T]he NCAA doesn't care one way or another about splitting off certain sports. It's the conferences themselves that don't want (overtly) split loyalties and agendas. That sort of thing killed the Big East.

The reason certain sports like hockey, wrestling and lacrosse operate semi-independently of the established "all-sports" conference alignments is that those sports often developed that way out of club teams, independent of the athletic departments, that formed their own regional leagues.

Football and basketball, though, were pretty much what started the whole "athletic department" idea anyway. Schools tended to gravitate toward playing other schools like them, and outside the Northeast, these collections of similar-minded institutions usually grew into conferences. Splitting football off from that would be an extremely radical change that nobody's prepared to make as long as the money keeps flowing.

There you go. I can blame the conferences for believing only football/basketball matters. Which means I can blame the NCAA for signing these lucrative football contracts with the networks that make football so attractive to otherwise sane institutions. Which means I can blame the entrenched college football Division I-A interests who don't want their sport to have the same legitimacy as every other sport because they know they'll end up looking bad like when Paterno built up that gaudy record by playing Alcorn State for thirty years. Which means, as ever, the BCS sucks.

I swear that all works out. Anyhow, isn't a basketball school like BC making a football move kind of a radical change? Why didn't they just drop to I-AA when everybody else did? Stoopid BC.
MEMO TO MIKE FRANCESA: You stink, too.

Boston College, an original member of the entity that legitimized college sports in the East, the Big East, signed its deal with the devil. And just when it was becoming clearer the Big East would have survived the departures of Miami and Virginia Tech.

Instead, the Big East has become imperiled by a charter member. Boston College ought to have recognized its responsibility to the conference's future for no other reason than its significance to the league's past.

Ah, but responsibility, loyalty, accountability — qualities the Jesuits helped refine in my four years there — all finish as two-touchdown underdogs against BC's true catalyst: greed.

Greed and one other thing: BC's pathetic yearning to become some kind of major player in college athletics.

It is not even a major player in the ACC. Boston College naively gave the ACC what it needed — a 12th school. And the ACC got the perfect patsy: a school that will never win anything, but provide the league one of the few institutions in the country that even tries to maintain academic standards in its athletic programs.

That's always helpful when the presidents get together and feign interest in education.

You should read the whole thing if you're as annoyed by BC as I am. My own letter was:

Dear Eagles,

Boston is a completely oversaturated sports market and you're high as a kite if you think bringing in Florida State in addition to Miami and Virginia Tech for football games is going to get Bostonians to give a tinker's cuss about you. You had a clear road to through the BCS every year in a diminished Big East and you inexplicably gave it up. Your ambition to be a minor player in a league not different from the Big East doesn't make a jot of sense. Have fun playing Wake Forest for the bubble spot in the NCAAs for the next fifty years.

You stink,

SPORTS HEADLINES YOU DON'T SEE EVERY DAY: Fiji Edges United States at Rugby World Cup. Friggin' Fiji.....

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

MITOCHONDRIAL DNA DOESN'T REALLY "COUNT," RIGHT?: So all this recent flap about fetuses with "three parents" is much ado about nothing. I mean, I was always taught that the mitochondria were our helpful little symbionts who made multicellular life possible. They have their own DNA, which certainly isn't my DNA. I'm not some bacteria-like evolutionary hanger-on, I can tell you that right now....
ARE YOU CRAPPING ME?: Lookit this:

The U.S. women each received $25,000 from U.S. Soccer for their third-place finish. If the men's team had won the last World Cup, each player would have received $531,500. Instead they settled for $200,000 apiece for their surprise quarterfinal finish.

The hey? Usually you can explain male-female pay differentials in sports as being based on popularity, but there's no way our men's team is more popular at the gate than our women's team. Can a non-soccer geek name one men's team member? I don't get it. There's some aspect of the business of soccer I don't understand.

Monday, October 13, 2003

CONTINUITY AS AN INNOVATION DRIVER, NOT A CREATIVE HINDRANCE: Reading Jim and Dirk talk continuity, I'm wondering if sometimes a shared continuity promotes creativity by forcing a writer to not raise the stakes of a story to blowing-up-the-Death-Star levels. As in the recent X-Men Dirk mentions where Grant Morrison has Magneto take over New York despite New York being the Marvel Universe's superhero headquarters--I mean, was that necessary? Wasn't there some other way to establish Magneto's villainy besides having him knock down the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge? I kept waiting for the point where it gets revealed that Professor X had Magneto trapped in a world of his own imaginings but that moment did not come. This is of course early in the story, and it's a fool's game to try and judge a Grant Morrison story before you have the whole thing in front of you in trade paperback form--but still.

I have more to say about this and hopefully will say it at some point. What I'm thinking is if you want your superheroes to have a strong commercial presence you need a strong continuity, otherwise the stuff that's coming out in the present cheapens the stuff in the past and you end up with characters that look like the ones you remember but aren't really them. Or you can just allow that these days that a new creative team means new characters, which is probably the more mature, less fanboyish attitude. And there's nothing wrong with that--I wish Marvel would admit that continuity is over, because I think they want to have it both ways. At least DC told you when it was an imaginary story....

Friday, October 10, 2003

YOUR LITERARY CRITICISM MUGGING OF THE DAY: Forager23 takes Robert E. Howard and uses him to beat J.R.R. Tolkien severely about the head and torso. The finale:

So that's 4-1 in favor of Howard: Tolkien takes a pretty significant beating, and so will any of his whiny little fans who pop out of the woodwork and try to feebly defend him. Thus speaks Forager. Seriously, though: Tolkien has become synonymous with fantasy, which is a real shame. The fantasy stories written by Robert E. Howard are completely different from the kind of books the Rings saga inspired: more vital, more vibrant, less academic, and, yes, more American. It's all right for Brits to fall for Tolkien's pastoral dreamland, but I find it strange that so many Americans fall for it, too.

The final middle finger to the Tolkien dorks is a nice touch. Hey, I've read Tolkien but never Howard--I think his rep has taken quite a beating as something you're not supposed to read as a serious science fiction fan, like E.C. Tubb or E.E. Smith or Clark Ashton Smith. But I'll have to check him out now, especially since Forager is saying it's my duty as a proud American. Well, not really. But close.
YOUR GREATEST SEARCH THAT FINDS MY WEBLOG POST OF THE DAY: Number three for "khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan". For hate's sake I spit at thee.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

YOUR JLA/AVENGERS #1 REVIEW CLEARINGHOUSE: Grotesque Anatomy has done the work for you. Via Neilalien, who also points out this rundown of all the scavenger items the sooperheroes are looking for. Neat! I'll try to add a review to the pile soon....
AFTERMATH OF GODZILLA VS. KING KONG, OR SOMETHING: Terry started off with trying to get Bill to talk about how much of his show is show business. He said none. Then they went into the Franken law suit for a while, things were strained but within the bounds of reasonable discourse. After the bottom-of-the-hour break (I think) Terry got Bill talking about his childhood and fighting his dad and his apparent agnosticism (he believes in God because the order of the universe seems to imply a God, and if God doesn't exist, it doesn't matter anyway, so you're better off believing in God; he has his bases covered, in other words.) When Terry tried to read him a People magazine review of his book that he made fun of on his show it triggered his "Time for my spiel about the liberal media being all against me" response, which he delivered, and then hung up on Terry. It was kind of like what I imagine it used to be like interviewing pro wrestlers when they had to act like they were engaging in legit competition--when they had to maintain kayfabe, as they call it. It's Bill O'Reilly's circus, folks, we're just the rubes buying tickets to the freak show.
GODZILLA VS. KING KONG, OR SOMETHING: Bill O'Reilly versus Terry Gross on Fresh Air today.
GOOD LITTLE THREAD: All about Gweilo Conrad and the women he doesn't like in Hong Kong.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

INTERESTING LITTLE COMICS ARTICLE: Anthony Johnston on continuity.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

OOOHHHHHHH: So that's where the "at war with Eurasia" gag is coming from--I though it was something Kim Jong Il had actually said. The Internet is filled with Orwell dorks, who are one of those clandestine dork species that look like everybody else, unlike your Tolkien or Star Wars, Trek, etc. varieties.
SCANDAL-A-GO-GO: What a crazy couple of days:

White House outs CIA agent.

Arnold gropes whole bunches of women.

Rush hates Donovan.

Rush is on the legal painkillers.

Plus there's spies in Guantanamo but that's all the way down here. In times like these what we need is......WOMEN'S WORLD CUP SOCCER!

GERMANY vs. RUSSIA, 7:30, ESPN2. If Germany is a great as everybody says they are they should clobber Russia in some possession-dominating, 2-0 or 3-0 victory.

CHINA vs. CANADA, 10:30, ESPN2. I love China, but they are not looking so good. I still think they win, but if I wasn't filled with platonic admiration for Bai Jie I'd probably be picking Canada. But I pick China. Yep.
THE RARE QUIBBLE WITH ARTS & LETTERS DAILY: And it's a total quibble, but they're linking to this article with the tag paragraph:

We were not dropped by God from the sky. However, a cultured adult is far from a neonate. We live between nature and nurture.

When the article says:

While Ridley rightly observes that one is no more or less free if one’s behaviour is accounted for 99 per cent by the environment and 1 per cent by genes or vice versa, he does not draw the correct conclusion from this: that all nature/nurture explanations of human behaviour are inadequate. This is because they are rooted in biology and no biological account, which must treat people as organisms, can find a place for human freedom. He is aware of this and attempts, unsuccessfully, to find free will within his biological framework by replacing what he calls linear with circular causality, in which an effect influences its own cause. But his observation that genes are “steeped in circular causality” shows how little relevance this idea has to the freedom that characterises humans.

In other words, the article (a review of Matt Ridley's latest by Raymond Tallis) is arguing we need to move past the nature/nuture debate and recognize how limiting it is. I mean, I wasn't going to read it before Hit & Run linked to it, because I've had it up to here with the nature-nurture. But it's a really good read, arguing against strict materialist explanations of human experience.
BENTE NORDBY PLAYED OUT OF HER MIND LAST NIGHT: Stopping a penalty kick and a whole bunch of corner kicks and managed to allow only one goal. It wasn't enough to stop the U.S., who won one-nil, but she was responsible for keeping the score so low. I don't think Scurry was ever really tested, nor has she been this whole World Cup through.

Sweden beat Brazil in the other one. I think the ref knew Brazil's rep for falling down without provacation a lot and so when Katia actually was pushed down in the box with like three minutes left she didn't get the penalty. "Beautiful game" my ass.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

ONE OTHER PLAME THING: Are we all dirty perverts for tossing around Valerie Plame's name like this, like we were not when we weren't tossing around the name of Kobe Bryant's accuser? The networks are protecting the anonymity of both women. Newspapers, much less so.
BUT IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR PLAME STUFF: Arthur Silber's analysis is the best I've seen:

Remember Occam's Razor: look for the simplest explanation. The White House was very upset with Wilson, because he was raising a lot of uncomfortable questions about a particular claim in the administration's case for war. Forget for a moment what you may think of the merits of those questions: the point is the White House was very unhappy about it, especially when many people were starting to question a number of aspects of the administration's case. So the White House wanted to put a lid on this kind of thing. Not on Wilson specifically; it was obviously too late for that. But the White House wanted to discourage anyone else who might be similarly inclined in the future. So they needed to send a message.

And the message would have to involve Wilson, since he was the main person causing trouble at the moment. If other people saw what happened to
him (or someone close to him) after he talked about what he knew, then they'd think twice before raising any uncomfortable questions they might be privy to. So Wilson, or those very close to him, had to be the target. But what do they hit him with?

And that's exactly where you look for the simple explanation. Maybe if Wilson or his wife had been a nasty drunk who got into fights in public but it hadn't gotten any publicity, they would have used that. Or they would have used the fact that Wilson or his wife had once been convicted (or even accused) of a crime. Or...well, fill in the blank. But maybe they didn't have any of that. They probably didn't; both Wilson and his wife have been in the limelight for quite a while now, and we haven't heard about anything like that (and they're both in government service anyway, so it's not very likely that something along those lines is going to turn up). So they used Wilson's wife's undercover status -- because that was what they had. And maybe that's all they had. And it had the nice bonus of perhaps placing in doubt Wilson's qualifications for being picked for that trip to Africa. I don't think anybody sat around trying to figure out how to "out" a CIA agent. Again, that's looking at it backwards. That just happened to be the information they had. They ended up outing a CIA agent, because that may well have been all they had to work with, all they had to deliver the message they wanted to deliver.

READ THE WHOLE THING. HEH. INDEED. Can we just mush that all into an acronym when we're doing the Instapundit-snark, like LOL or LMFAO? RTWTHI. It doesn't mean anything else yet--here's your chance, bloggers! Not that Glenn doesn't deserve the snark this time--he has not been all over this.

The best Plame post title so far, by the way, is Jim Henley's Plame On. I wanted to run with "Is This Burning (Burning) An Eternal Plame" but was shouted down in blogger press club.
MAYBE I SHOULD JUST CHANGE THE URL TO "WOMENSSOCCER.BLOGSPOT.COM": Because this what I'm interested in lately. Well, that and the Plame affair, but you all know where to go for that. Anyhoo:

4:30 today on ESPN2: Brazil vs. Sweden in Foxboro.

7:30 today on ESPN2: Norway vs. the US in Foxboro.

US over Norway, Sweden over Brazil in the upset pick because I think there's going to be an upset pick and thus I need to make an upset pick, but I don't want to pick against China because I love the way they play even though that upset is more likely.

Monday, September 29, 2003

WOMEN'S WORLD CUP GROUP PLAY WRAPUP: Let us get down to the--how you say--bress ticks:

THE UNITED STATES is playing really well. Abby Wambach remains the Shaq of women's soccer: bigger than anyone else, gifted, tendency to dog it, almost impossible to beat when motivated. And she's motivated. Sucks for you, rest of the world!

NORWAY has done some okay things but destroying South Korea, getting past France and being destroyed by Brazil is not the most impressive of resumes. They face the U.S. next on Wednesday in the semi-hyped battle of the only two World Cup and Olympic champions blah blah blah blah blah, but these women do not look capable of beating the Americans right now.

GERMANY is the other team playing really well. They soundly whipped strong Japanese and Canadian teams and should not have much of a problem with.....

RUSSIA. The land where the New Wave hair never died. I'm sure they're all nice people, but they barely got out of their group with Ghana and Australia, which was the weakest of the three.

BRAZIL is the semi-surprise, not so much in that they beat Norway but that they beat them up 4-1. They have a heavy case of the floppitis.

SWEDEN got beat by us, beat Nigeria like they should and escaped with the victory over North Korea that could've gone either way. They could beat Brazil.

CHINA. A model of efficiency, or an incredible waster of goal-scoring chances? They should have torn through Group D but wound up with 3 goals, 2 wins and a draw. That's efficient. Or inept. I dunno. The one goal Australia scored against them was flukey, and the way they play the game keeps them in any game. The way they possess the ball is incredible. If they play mistake-free they are unbeatable, until--of course--they forget to score some goals and the game winds up in penalty kicks.

CANADA. Having said all that, Canada can beat China. All's they need is a little luck.

USA over Norway
Germany over Russia
Sweden over Brazil
China over Canada

Our ponytailed legion has a haa-aard road to travel if they want to win this thing, beating Norway and Germany. A non-US-or-Norway finale is a real possibility.

Monday, September 22, 2003


NORWAY 2, FRANCE 0: For a team with a minimal fanbase, France did pretty well and ended up kinda sorta winning the crowd over when they went on the attack after Norway scored their first goal. But then Norway scored again on a defensive breakdown and the wheels came off that Peugeot. Norway could've looked a little better.

NORTH KOREA 3, NIGERIA 0: North Korea all had identical male haircuts and I think dropped Kim Jong Il's name in the postgame interviews. They looked really good on the field, or else Nigeria was just as terribly disorganized as they looked.

GERMANY 4, CANADA 1: This should be a sign of Germany's strength; both these teams were touted as ones that could win it all, yet Germany wiped the field with Canada. Maren Meinert, of the late Boston Breakers, rules.

JAPAN 6, ARGENTINA 0: "Emerging power" Argentina stiiiinks.

UNITED STATES 3, SWEDEN 1: This is another impressive win, as impressive as Germany's over Canada--both those victories showing a favorite playing really well, in contrast with Norway getting past France and China eking out the win over Ghana. My favorite player on this team the unheralded Shannon Boxx looked great. MIAAAAA! looked great. The ballyhooed Hanna Ljungberg didn't get a shot off. I just hope we're not too old to keep winning like this. There you go.

BRAZIL 3, SOUTH KOREA 0: While South Korea wasn't the last team in the World Cup (that was Japan) they are very much in the just-happy-to-be-here role. Brazil is supposed to be really good and doing it for the sisters since they get zero support back home.

RUSSIA 2, AUSTRALIA 1: This is supposed to be a minor upset. I have nothing else to add.

CHINA 1, GHANA 0: Ghana looked pretty good, like they had a gameplan to bend and end up playing much of the game in their half of the field but not break. China did not look like the contenders they're supposed to be, but they still have to be the clear favorites out of them, Ghana, Russia, and Australia.

Wednesday/Thursday's games:

Norway vs. Brazil: The only TV game on Wednesday. The first test for both of these. I'm going with Brazil in the slight upset.

Germany vs. Japan: You want to praise Japan to high heaven and then you remember they dominated Argentina. Germany.

France vs. South Korea: SOMEbody's getting the points here. France. PICHON!

Canada vs. Argentina: Oh Canada....

Sweden vs. North Korea: Sweden needs points. We'll see how good North Korea is. A draw.

Ghana vs. Russia: Ghana. They need the points.

United States vs. Nigeria: I can't imagine the US having much of a problem with Nigeria.

China vs. Australia: China, by virtue of being better, wins another one in non-convincing fashion.

There you go.
MAC WATCH: Three MAC teams beat three ranked teams this weekend, people notice.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

VIEWING THE JUMBOTRON AT THE LINC DURING THE WORLD CUP TODAY: This is a really great ad, about the Chinese team challenging the US team with these Crouching Tigeresque soccer moves. I love that they bothered to put Sun Wen in it instead of copping out and throwing an actress in there. Details, details.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

REMEMBER: When Gregg Easterbrook talks about the NFL, you can listen to him--he actually watches the NFL. When he talks about the NBA, a sport he doesn't watch:

A decade ago, the NBA was being touted as the new juggernaut of sports; all its numbers (ratings, revenue, attendance, marketing sales) had risen for years. Since then, NBA popularity has been in free-fall decline -- regular-season ratings down 42 percent in the last decade, this year's Finals the lowest-rated in two decades. What happened, exactly, when the decline began? The NBA opened its doors to a wave of teenagers.

....you can safely ignore him, because he lives in a parallel universe where expansion and Michael Jordan's retirements never happened. And where the lowest-rated NBA finals in two decades have nothing to do with the presence of Tim Duncan. And I don't even think NBA play quality has gone down significantly.

And here's King Kaufman disagreeing with him on the Clarett thing:

But I think he's off-base here. Signing teenagers isn't what leads to a decline in quality of play. Making bad personnel decisions does. If 19-year-old players aren't as effective as veterans in their 20s and 30s, then it's a bad personnel decision to draft and sign them. So don't sign them. You don't need a rule.

In baseball the Oakland A's have shown that, for example, signing mediocre relievers to eight-figure contracts because they pile up a lot of saves is a bad decision. Others are starting to learn that too, but nobody's advocating for a rule against relief pitchers getting big contracts. Every once in a while a Mariano Rivera comes along who's worth all that money, and he should be able to get it. The NFL's minimum age rule, the one Easterbrook says the league must preserve, essentially protects NFL owners from their own poor decision-making.

It's often argued -- not by the NFL, which absurdly talks about encouraging kids to go to college -- that the reason for the draft rule is to protect the current system, where the NCAA acts as a free minor league for the pro ranks. Players arrive trained, and in some cases as fully marketable celebrities, at no cost to the NFL. That's true, but it would still be true without the rule if NFL teams made good personnel decisions.

So to sum up: Easterbrook on the NBA: Bad. Easterbrook on the NFL: Cutesy, but good.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003


The team has won four South American Championships, and its star has been rising outside the region.

After failing to get out of the group stage in the 1991 and 1995 World Cups, Brazil managed a fourth-place finish in the 1996 Olympics and third at the 1999 Women's World Cup. It was fourth at the 2000 Olympics.

Still, for the Brazilian public the team hardly exists.

And it rankles that media attention at home has focused not on the best players, but arguably the worst - Milene Domingues, better known as the wife of Real Madrid star Ronaldo.

Coach Paulo Renato said he was surprised by how out of shape Domingues was when she reported to training camp, but the blond 24-year-old has stayed on at the insistence of the Brazilian Soccer Confederation.

The confederation argued her presence was essential to raising the visibility of women's soccer in Brazil.

That may be so, but it hasn't done much for morale.

Her presence at training camp has reportedly angered several players who risk being cut from the team so Domingues can take their place.

Nor does it help that compared to the well-heeled Mrs. Ronaldo, the players are dirt poor, many barely getting by on the team's meager allowance of 30 reals (US$10) a day.
HEY: Heather Mitts has a website. Pay section opening soon. KIDDING! Just kidding. I'm so sorry.....
GOOD LITTLE WUSA CHAT: With Brian Straus of the Washington Post. Straus is a smart-ass, so don't let that trip you up too bad. Here's a good comment (not from Straus):

The WUSA was a failed business model. Not so unusual especially is these bad economic times. What women's soccer should do is go back to the drawing board learn from the mistakes and forge on. To this end by 2004-5 a new league should be formed that will be regionalized in two or more divisions that will play games only within the geographic region until the championship game or short playoff series -- Piggyback on existing A-league or MLS teams. Play games as part of double headers to keep expenses down. Emphasize building a fan base that attends games as opposed to scoring lucrative television contracts. Have players train and then work at other jobs during the rest of the day along the lines of what home depot does for Olympic athletes. Sometimes you have to think initially small to make your eventual breakthrough. That's the reality of sports that actually succeed in the U.S.

Here's the "benvolent conspiracy theory" angle:

Washington, D.C.: Talk about doom and gloom! You guys are totally wrong. The reality is just the opposite of how you paint it. The announcement was timed perfectly, just before tens of thousands will attend and hundreds of thousands will watch the World Cup action. They needed more sponsors and more will crop up when they see the potential for advertising. It will all turn out okay before the drop dead date. Guaranteed.

Brian Straus: We'll see. Perhaps that's what the league is banking on - a sudden surge of support in light of the WWC and the announcement's timing. Huge gamble - compete with college and pro football, mlb playoff races, start of nhl season, end of mls season, and hope sports editors aren't turned off by the sudden irrelevance of women's pro soccer. It's a huge, huge gamble.

Via SportsFilter.
THE END OF THE LOS ANGELES VIP ROOM: A city weeps openly. Doesn't this mean that the eternal pagan mysteries of the lapdance just move to the suburbs?
BITTERNESS: The WNBA has a great finale last night and I don't watch because I'm bitter, bitter, bitter that the WNBA has vast corporate support and the WUSA leadership never found any. Steve Sailer dug up one of his old comments here:

Unfortunately, after each frenzy of patriotic feminist chauvinism, our poor women athletes come home and set up a domestic pro league that rapidly loses the interest of most everybody except lesbians and the kind of pathetic guy fan who'll watch anything on ESPN2. That's because, to be frank, even the best women aren't anywhere near as good at sports as the best men, so what's the point in watching them unless they are kicking foreign butt?

This works as an explanation for not watching the WNBA, but not for the WUSA; soccer just isn't a sport where Americans in general have any clue what a quality game looks like--there's not a level of sophistication where an average American could tell where a women's pro game suffered in comparision with a men's pro game. Plus my own perception of soccer is that it doesn't require a lot of obvious athleticism, and there isn't a great quality-of-play difference in terms of how the games actually look between high-level men's and women's competitions. I think you can blame the sport and it's nebulous after-school activity status and not the gender of the athletes for the WUSA's failure. But, I mean, if the WUSA had a D. Stern or a Phil Anschutz keeping it afloat, I wouldn't be posting this right now.

Reluctantly, I have to question the attitudes of the WUSA's founder-players, just if they realized how hard it would be to found a new sports league with an intended audience of 12 year old girls. A league where you'd support it because it was your civic duty, because you (as a parent or whoever) wanted to inspire the girls of today to become the athletes of tomorrow, not because you wanted to see a soccer game. It was--in that sense--an incredibly unrealistic business plan. How much disposable income do 12-year-old girls have? In hindsight it seems like the league was founded on good feelings and that and a hundred million dollars will buy you a pro sports league, buddy. Here's Mark Starr of Newsweek laying a wreath on the grave:

And frankly I blame you, all of you.
All of you who didn’t, as we said so often when I was a kid, put your money where your mouth is. All of you who couldn’t be bothered to buy tickets so that attendance slumped 15 percent since the innaugural year. All of you who never tried to find the games on cable’s outer reaches so that the league’s TV rating were infinitesimal. All of you who are quick to scream bloody murder over threatened inroads against Title IX, but don’t bother to give the most talented of those Title IX babies a place to prosper. All of you “soccer moms” who somehow became a major political force, but not a force for women’s sports. All of you corporate frauds who claim a commitment to both sides of the gender divide, but who are unwilling to invest modest dollars in anything less macho than the NFL. All of you editors who celebrated the World Cup in your pages—sports, news and editorial—and then quickly consigned women’s soccer to the agate type.
And believe it, I blame me, too.

Of course, part of the appeal of the WUSA was that it wasn't just Title IX Americans, but the best of the national teams as well. That was it's uniqueness, being the best of the best with an American tilt by necessity.

Jeff Taylor added something else:

Except that those involved in the WUSA -- players, execs, sponsors even -- did not understand that the women would have to be content to play in what essentially would be a minor league for a very long time, a decade perhaps, as the fan base grew. That didn't happen has the WUSA burned through $100 million in a pointless attempt at equality of largess with men's sports.

The WUSA was not nearly as guilty of forcibly trying to legitimize themselves as the WNBA was, and is, but he's right. Women's start-up leagues should not think of themselves as being immediately entitled to half the popularity of the equivalent men's league (the idealistic Title IX thing, which can work in an idealistic enviroment like college) but as actual new sports, because they are actual new sports. A WUSA Redux will ideally be more like the NLL or the AFL in the early days: players paid per game in llow hundreds of dollars. It won't be as grand as the grand WUSA dream of women being able to make a living off professional soccer, but, sheeit, you're supposed to work toward your dreams, not expect to dream them and never wake up. My final analysis seems to coming down to that this was a case of "too much, too fast" which I didn't think when I was watching WUSA games, because the salaries were low ($80k at the most, and that was for a very few), there weren't that many teams (two more than the early, stable NHL, which played as six teams for 20 years, and is still, to my mind, the most successful niche sport ever) and consequently there was a high level of play. But even those apparently low expectations weren't low enough, it seems; they needed to be even lower.

Perhaps the SPORTSbyBROOKSian interpretation is right, that a successful women's sport has to cash in on sex appeal to draw in the pathetic male fanbase necessary to make a sport successful. Which is something that the WUSA was clearly unable to do, with an audience of 12-year-old girls. I dunno. The only sport that successfully melds female hottiness with female athletic achievement is tennis. You could add pro wrestling, but American women's pro wrestling remains lousy. You could suggest figure skating, but figure skating melds female beauty with female athletic acheivement, not female hottiness, sex appeal, schwing factor, whatever you want to call it. I don't know how tennis does it--it's not just Kournikova, she's just the most obvious one--but it does.

Eric McErlain adds something I didn't know:

One other point about Hamm and Chastain: the WUSA was one of the first sports leagues to offer its players equity in the enterprise. So while they, and many others, took pay cuts, their compensation packages were most likely heavily leveraged with equity incentives -- not much unlike the millions of dot commers who took lower salaries in the hopes that the startup they signed on with would blossom with a big IPO.

Optimistically, perhaps the end of the WUSA is the last gasp of the old speculative economy, and maybe we can go into a more realistic model with WUSA Redux--some amped-up version of the W-League. A successful women's pro league is still very doable, it seems to me--it just has to have the right business model, which would have minimal profit expectations, where the only people who would play would have to be the passionate ones. Maybe you wouldn't be able to draw the world's best anymore--you wouldn't see Kelly Smith and Marinette Pichon on the same team ever again--but you'd still elevate the level of play, if only the American game's level of play.

But....yeah, the dream is over. Like I said: it was the best women's pro league ever, and I mean that entirely in terms of level of play, in terms of how entertaining the games were. May high-level women's soccer return in a more stable form.

Monday, September 15, 2003

WELL THIS STINKS: WUSA shuts down. It was the best women's pro league ever. The execrable WNBA remains on tv. I don't know what else to say.
NFL GAME OF THE SUNDAY: Not that I saw it, but this Bucs/Panthers game looks like it was the drizzling snits. Three blocked kicks? Outright hatred? Plus a so-appropriate post-game Ric Flair moment:

"We shocked the world," defensive end Mike Rucker screamed on the field seconds after Kasay's kick. "To be the best, you've got to beat the best. We just beat the best."

Blood and guts:

"This was a heavyweight championship fight," safety Mike Minter said. "Ali and Frazier. Toe to toe.

"I really feel this football team is starting to understand that we're starting something special here."

Coming off the field and in the locker room, it looked as if the Panthers had been in a fight, as blood, sweat and tears flowed. Rucker was bleeding from his left elbow. General manager Marty Hurney's sweat-covered hair looked as if it had been covered by a helmet.

Defensive end Kavika Pittman appeared to have a few tears running down his cheeks as he was carted off after suffering what appeared to be a serious knee injury.

"I'm hurting in every joint possible," Rucker said. "I'm dog tired. That was tough. But I feel good. That's what we love to do."

If you had one of those horrid dishes, you were lucky, lucky person on Sunday.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Is best understood as a series of exhibitions, each with their own traditions and importance, like today's Notre Dame-Michigan game. It is best not to think of it as a traditional sport with a championships and playoffs, but as a discrete set of events (a "season") that contain individual dramas, with very little of the season-length storylines you find in the pro game. In other words, college football games are self-enclosed dramas, or at least tend towards that, with traditional rivalries being much more important than where one winds up in the overall picture. The drive to make college football more like the pro game--a process that shall be called Hurricanization--runs counter to everything that makes college football distinct. The University of Miami Hurricanes, a team with minimal local support, exist only to make money for their university and command the hearts and minds of very few in the traditional, local way, and should be hated by all college football fans.
HEY, CRAP: Comcast digital cable doesn't carry NBA TV. Thanks for nothing, NBA!

Friday, September 12, 2003

HEY, COOL: NBA TV is televising the Eurobasket finales. I expect a Pau vs. Parker championship.
SOME OLD SKOOL WARBLOGGER ASS FACT-CHECKING: Radley Balko links to the now on-line Tom Junod article in Esquire that tries to identify September 11th's "Falling Man," whose picture--Junod claims--is the best-known image of someone who jumped from the World Trade Center. It's a pretty good article, questioning why images of the falling people have been banished from our mass consciousness--but there is this blog sideline:

And yet if one calls the New York Medical Examiner's Office to learn its own estimate of how many people might have jumped, one does not get an answer but an admonition: "We don't like to say they jumped. They didn't jump. Nobody jumped. They were forced out, or blown out." And if one Googles the words "how many jumped on 9/11," one falls into some blogger's trap, slugged "Go Away, No Jumpers Here," where the bait is one's own need to know: "I've got at least three entries in my referrer logs that show someone is doing a search on Google for 'how many people jumped from WTC.' My September 11 post had made mention of that terrible occurance [sic], so now any pervert looking for that will get my site's URL. I'm disgusted. I tried, but cannot find any reason someone would want to know something like that. . . . Whatever. If that's why you're here—you're busted. Now go away."

If you Google the words "how many jumped on 9/11" with the quotes you get bupkis. Without the quotes, you don't fall into a blogger's trap but get an assortment of entries on the subject. If you Google the exact phrase (without quotes) Junod quotes above--how many people jumped from WTC--you--again--do not fall into a blogger's trap, but do get led to the exact entry Junod mentions (it's second, actually) which is TECHFLUID, the blog of Chari Daignault, who has added the following on 9/10/03:

Please do not make assumptions as to why this entry was posted. If you want to know, just ask. Any journalist with a modicum of integrity would not have changed the context of this post and made presumptions as to why it was published. Any journalist with a modicum of integrity who truly wanted to present the truth would have asked. But of course, sometimes the truth doesn't sell newspapers, does it?

Or magazines. Anyhow, at no point do you fall into a blogger's trap; I guess there's too many ways to ask for information about people jumping from the World Trade Center for any one way to dominate Google. So at worst Junod is guilty of wildly overstating this one little bit of his article; that there is no blogger's trap, merely one page alongside many on the ol' Google pageranking. Then there's the more obnoxious point that he lifted Chari's post out of the context of 1. her own blog and 2. cyberspace in general to give the impression that this snippet was man-on-the-cyberstreet Internet pulse-feeling. And without identifying her or her blog; on-line opinion-givers don't deserve recognition, even when they sign their name under every post. (Chari doesn't, but she has an "ABOUT ME" page. My point being, it's not an anonymous blog.) So there's probably a little of the high-journalist contempt for blogland in there too, but that's to be expected, methinks. I guess maybe Esquire readers don't use the Internet?

Thursday, September 11, 2003

MULTIPLE STATES OF THE UNITED STATES: From Matt Welch's "The Day Nothing Changed":

First, it is a testimony to the country's strength—a strength nourished by liberty—that it is able to absorb such a fantastic wound in such a short period of time. Second, by letting each of us work out his or her own reaction to events, rather than being drafted into a monochromatic War Effort, the hysteria that accompanied far less grave acts of aggression in the past has been largely avoided.


There are more than a few things to be worried about on this awful anniversary, and more than a few fights to pick with this government about how best to prevent theocratic lunatics from blowing up Los Angeles or Chicago. But we are at our strongest when we no longer have to sing "God Bless America" during every seventh-inning stretch, when we no longer feel compelled to watch 16 hours of CNN every day, and when Merle Haggard is free to write skeptical new songs about war. By resisting the historical temptation to encroach on our personal behavior, the Bush Administration, if it has done nothing else, has allowed us to find our own strength.
DEPT. OF UNSUBSTANTIATED METAPHOR: Maybe video games are like really difficult novels--hard to finish, but once you understand the rules, the slogging-through becomes enjoyable.

Monday, September 08, 2003

MARIUCCI ERA BEGINS GRANDLY: Lions kill Cardinals dead.
THE OTHER GREAT NFL SUNDAY SUBPLOT: Lawyer Milloy beats the Patriots.
YOU CAN SET YOUR WATCH BY IT, PRACTICALLY; THE FIRST ROBIN OF THE SEASON THAT IS THE NFL: One Sunday in and Eric McErlain has the first Mike Martz hate post. Ah, the smell of pro football soopergenius in the air.....
I LOVE THE IDEA OF THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: The NFL team where the kicker is the gutsiest player:

"They stand there and they yell and scream at you. They did it at Buffalo. They did it at Miami in '99 and at Denver last year," said Vanderjagt, ticking off some of his previous game-winners as he slipped the game ball into a backpack in front of his locker. "I don't know when they're going to realize they should really be quiet and not mess with me.

"Game tied, six seconds left, that's exactly where I want to be."

The NFL team with kicker-quarterback controversy:

Before the final drive, Manning had the courtesy to ask Vanderjagt where he needed to be to kick the field goal. At the time, the kicker said, "Wherever you put it down, I'll make it."

Of course, the goodwill didn't last long. Later in the drive, though, Vanderjagt asked Manning to set him up on the left hash mark.

"So the next play, they throw an out to the right," Vanderjagt said. "They don't have a lot of concern for the kicker. I told him (Manning), 'Thanks, I just got done telling you I wanted it on the left hash.' He really irritated me with that. He said (offensive coordinator) Tom Moore was too focused on the next play to worry about what the idiot kicker wants to do."

Yes, Vanderjagt scored every Colt point yesterday, beating the Browns 9 to 6 all by his lonesome.

Friday, September 05, 2003

SCHOOL STARTED THIS WEEK: The Will To Blog diminishes accordingly. This semester's knowledge tour de force:

Molecular Biology
Animal Behavior
Primate Behavior

Though I may drop Primate Behavior as I think I'm getting everything I would want to know about it out of Animal Behavior without having to learn about an endless array of freaking monkeys. Or else I'm not patient enough to get to the point where our professor explains the applicability of primate behavior to human behavior. We shall see.

On a lighter note, my professor outed himself as not understanding Dawkins at all. But I thought Dawkins and the whole sociobiological enterprise represented Dept. of Biology orthodoxy in the year 2003. Is this not so?

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

BLOGGING THE 38TH PARALLEL: I check in on the ParaPundit to see what's going on in his head and find out he's on vacation. He does direct us all over to the Korean expat blog Incestuous Amplification and Marmot's Hole who have links to other Korean blogs and their ears to the KOREAN STREET~! Good stuff.

Friday, August 29, 2003

I CALL BULLMERDE: They're talking over 11,000 heat deaths in France now....and they're talking about cutting out a national holiday to pay for "elderly care"? Two words for you:

Air conditioning.

Air conditioning.

AIR conDISH-o-ning. Buy them, put them in your homes and apartments. I mean, elderly people die in the U.S. during heatwaves, but not in these numbers.

I went over to the emmanuelle blog to see if she had heatwave stuff (she didn't, at least not on the front page) and found a link to the very cool Merde in France blog. Who, in turn, has a link to the very cool Dissident Frogman blog, who has a lot of heatwave posts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

ARE YOU FOLLOWING STRIPPERGATE?: Here's a little update from Jeanette Walls's gossip column:

Are Hollywood forces behind that lawsuit that a stripper filed against the National Enquirer? That’s what some industry insiders are wondering after Antonella Santini, a stripper who lives in Vancouver, sued the tabloid for libel when it ran an article claiming that Ben Affleck performed hanky panky on her.

“IT’S VERY INTERESTING to me that Affleck himself has not sued,” says a source, “Yet the stripper has. Now, if Affleck’s people want to discredit the story, they can point to the stripper’s case without having to go through the process of disclosure.” What’s more, the lawyer representing Santini is with Rintala, Smoot, Jaenicke and Rees, a Los Angeles-based law firm that has worked on the same side as Affleck’s lawyer, Marty Singer. Affleck’s rep, when asked why he hasn’t filed a suit yet, said the star is “still considering his options.” Santini’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment, and the National Enquirer tells The Scoop it stands by the story.

It's a funny scandal: huge, but entirely contained in the entertainment press.

Monday, August 18, 2003

THE SELF-DESTRUCTIVENESS OF REPUBLICAN PARTIES IN LIBERAL STATES: CalPundit rightly smacks around Bill Simon for planning to go negative on Arnold. Or Kevin at least recognizes it as a fratricidal strategy for the Republicans, as it will surely lead to a Bustamante victory, which--I think--he would rather have. As a resident of another liberal state with a fractured Republican party who elected a now wildly unpopular Democrat for governor, I am pretty interested in all this. California Republicans have my sympathy, just because one-party rule is never good. And this recall should have been able to revitalize the Republicans to a degree, but if they're already hating on each other it's gonna be a long road to Sacra-men-toe. To put it in Barkley-speak.

Friday, August 15, 2003

WHY WAS PHILLY SPARED?: The Inquirer brings the story:

Technicians in Valley Forge saw the sudden power surge. Circuit breakers tripped. And within four minutes, the electricity grid that serves Pennsylvania and New Jersey had clamped off the spike that blacked out much of the Northeast yesterday, shielding Philadelphia and points south from the disruption.

As a result, the Mid-Atlantic grid, operated by Valley Forge-based PJM Interconnection L.L.C., experienced only a few spillover blackouts in sections of northern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey.

Never mind that nine seconds is shorter than four minutes. The Courier-Post seems to make a little more sense:

South Jersey escaped a big blackout Thursday - and you can thank the technology of the regional power grid system.

As soon as the electricity failed in New York and elsewhere in the Northeast, transmission lines in New Jersey apparently started pumping juice toward blacked-out areas.

This strained the Garden State's intricate network of power lines, transformers and substations - but the blackout did not cascade down the line to South Jersey.

A system of relays, a little like circuit breakers, "isolated and sectionalized" the surge, said Phillip Harris, president of PJM Interconnection, the region's power pool.

In a sense, the equipment used by the utilities within the PJM grid prevented the blackout from spreading any farther south than North Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile the blame Canada party has raised its ugly head.
ALMOST LIKE A BAD SCIENCE FICTION SCENARIO: "In the future New Yorkers will pride themselves on being more polite than anybody else. And they'll riot in Ottawa."
THAT GAME SHOW NETWORK "WHO WANT TO BE A GOVERNOR?" THING HAD A CHANCE OF BEING INTERESTING: Until the first two announced candidates turned out to be Gary Coleman and the porn star nobody's heard of. Why not play it straight? Why not tap in to the reality teeve craze, get some serious underfunded, underpublicized candidates in there who really want to be governor, get people watching and rooting and (for those in California) voting? Why get goofy with it? Twits.
FRANKISH FACTOID OF THE DAY: From one of those reports of "3000 deaths" in France that I'm sure you've seen:

The widespread absence of air conditioning in France also played a role. Elderly people suffering from heat stroke were often taken to sweatbox hospitals that, like many public buildings in France, do not have cooling systems. An ingrained aversion to chilly drafts, an apparent tolerance for perspiration and an unwillingness to spend money to modernize have prevailed for years, although purchases of air conditioners have shot up during this brutal summer.

Many restaurants, subways, stores and other public places still rely on little more than open windows and ancient fans to beat the heat. This forces younger, healthier people to contend with acute discomfort and unpleasant odours. But, for older people, there can be grave risks, as well.

The problem isn't so much that superhero comics are "too adult" as that they're frequently too eager to be taken seriously as something deeper than they really are. The success of Watchmen (and, to a lesser extent, The Dark Knight Returns) rested on the incongruity of the core concept, and only ever really worked as a counterpoint to the other works on the shelves. Watchmen pointed out the perils of introducing too much Real World into escapist fantasy pretty clearly, and yet despite this it somehow became the benchmark for what superhero comics should strive to become. I'm guessing it was the attention from the press that did it; soon it seemed like everyone wanted to be known for writing Watchmen. The result was and is an extended period of High Decadence, where complex and distracting themes are stuffed into a genre originally created to provide a nice escape from reality. Such works are fine for longtime fans of the form, who've exhausted the basic tropes yet still hold them in fond regard -- for people first approaching superhero comics in search of escapist fun, however, works that strive too hard to be something else just don't do the trick.

Bolding added what I found most interesting. I just finally read the much-maligned Dark Knight Strikes Again, and need to do some kind of review.
FROM THE "FUNNY BECAUSE TRUE" DEPT.: From an op/ed on the Fox-Franken suit:

Franken and O'Reilly have had one or two public set-tos already, and Fox's complaint sounds like a collection of things O'Reilly wishes he'd remembered to say at their last encounter. It calls Franken “deranged,” a “parasite,” “sophomoric” and lacking “any serious depth or insight.”

Things surely more clever than yelling "Hey, SHUT UP!" at Al.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

LAMPE WATCH: Knicks sign the Polish basketball Rocky. Or something. Via SLAM LINKS.
CARNIVAL, NOT CIRCUS: Marc Cooper, as found on good ol' AlterNet:

Myth No. 1: The recall election is a circus.

It's a circus only to the degree that cynical, shallow media make it so. Especially the electronic media in which the ringmasters are the TV news directors – a species that wouldn't recognize a "serious" election if it fell on their empty heads. We're now going to get civics lectures from a bunch of ratings whores who long ago traded in their Sacramento bureaus for freeway telecopters?

Every election cycle attracts marginal and aberrant candidates, and the media usually ignore them after the one or two initial and totally predictable soft features. Angelyne, Gary Coleman, Larry Flynt et al. loom so large in this election only because the telephoto lenses remain so tightly locked onto them.

The L.A. Times (and other major metros) has also helped promote the circus theme, giving undue attention to the carnival candidates. A strange twist, as this is the same Times that barred Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader from the presidential debate it organized during the 2000 campaign. Times management argued at the time that Nader wasn't a serious enough candidate to warrant inclusion. Nader's mistake, apparently, was to not have Gary Coleman chauffer him down to Spring Street in Agelyne's pink Vette.

All part of his "Five Myths About the Recall." Includes funny Green Party-bashing.
PYTHONESQUE: Plurality of Americans finds recall "silly." With Northeasterners the most likely to find it silly. Which completely calls to mind Graham Chapman as that "It's a man's life in the British army" general. "Right--stop it, stop the recall. It's silly. It was amusing in the beginning, Arnold from Different Strokes was running, there was a porn star and the man who publishes Hustlers and we all had a good laugh. But now it's just silly. Right. On my mark, end this post.

YOUR RECALL CANDIDATE OF THE DAY: Van Vo, talk show host and shortest name on the ballot.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

ABORTION STUFF: Gene Expressor Razib points out this TNR article on ectogenesis by Sacha Zimmerman. Ectogenesis is like this:

Better known as the artificial womb, ectogenesis is the process by which a fetus gestates in an environment external to the mother. And, while it may sound like the stuff of science fiction--evoking images of the "decanted infants" in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World--researchers estimate that ectogenesis could be a reality within five years.

I'd have to be Charlie Murtaugh to have an informed opinion on that "five years" timetable, but it certainly sounds like we're pretty close to creating people outside the body:

Ectogenesis is close to becoming a reality because scientists are steadily advancing reproductive technology at both ends of gestation. At one end, to help women who are having difficulty conceiving or who have defective wombs, Cornell University's Dr. Hung-Ching Liu has taken steps toward developing an artificial womb by removing cells from the lining of a woman's womb and then, using hormones, growing layers of these cells on a model of a uterus. The model eventually dissolves, leaving a new, artificial womb that continues to thrive. What's more, Liu's team found that, within days of being placed in the new womb, embryos will attach themselves to its walls and begin to grow. At that point, scientists must end the experiment to comply with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) laws, so researchers do not yet know how long after the beginning stages of gestation this artificial womb would be viable. But Liu has said she hopes to "create complete artificial wombs using these techniques in a few years"--although, given current IVF and stem-cell laws, it is not yet clear whether she will be able to continue her work in the United States.

If this was a movie or something Dr. Liu and her crack team would say damn the authorities and produce their hideous frankenchildren in the dark of night in a secret sub-basement. This being the real world, Dr. Liu will probably move somewhere else to finish her research, like Godless keeps harping about. Now Razib--who never met an aspect of human life he couldn't put in evolutionary-fitness terms--says, re: the article, "It is discussed in the context of abortion rights, which I found rather uninteresting"--but jeez, that's the most interesting part:

While these scientists have no political agenda, the same can't be said for one of the earliest advocates of ectogenesis, Dr. William Cooper. In 1993, Cooper, then head of the Christian Fertility Institute, patented a "placental chamber," in which the fetus would gestate at the bottom of a tank and the placenta would rest on a shelf at the top. Cooper's invention went nowhere--today's advances toward ectogenesis owe nothing to the "placental chamber"--but his motivations for devising it are instructive: He hoped it would undermine Roe v. Wade.

Roe v. Wade, after all, is predicated on two basic ideas: a woman's right to privacy (including the right not to be pregnant) and the viability of the fetus--defined as the ability to survive outside the mother's womb, currently placed at 24 weeks of gestation. Complete ectogenesis could dismantle both of these premises. First, it could make Roe's viability issue moot, since with ectogenesis a fetus could be technically viable outside the mother's womb from the moment of conception.

Which would surely impact the other idea underpinning Roe: a woman's right to privacy. With ectogenesis, an unwanted fetus, rather than being aborted, could be removed from a woman and placed in an ectogenetic chamber to be adopted later; the woman's right to privacy would arguably not be invaded, since removal of the fetus for implantation in an artificial womb need not be any more invasive than the abortion she was originally seeking. As bioethicists Peter Singer and Deane Wells write of ectogenesis in their book Making Babies: The New Science and Ethics of Conception, "Freedom to choose what is to happen to one's body is one thing; freedom to insist on the death of a being that is capable of living outside of one's body is another."

Although many right-to-lifers are skeptical of reproductive technology in general and view ectogenesis as an unnatural and dehumanizing possibility, others recognize that it could radically alter the abortion debate. "Roe v. Wade should be repealed anyway," says Dr. W. David Hager, an obstetrician-gynecologist and professor at the University of Kentucky School of Medicine who currently serves as head of the Bush administration's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. "But, if we had the technology to be able to placentize or incubate in a placental environment, then I would say that would be an argument in favor of repeal."

Zimmerman goes on to call the five major pro-choice outlets (NOW, NARAL, etc.) and none of them has position one on ectogenesis, which means fringe weirdos have to defend abortion in an ectogenetic world:

Writing about ectogenesis in her book Human Reproduction: Principles, Practices, Policies, feminist philosopher Christine Overall argues that abortion is about the right not to procreate, not simply the right not to be pregnant. Overall claims that fetal extinction--not just extraction--is the aim of women seeking abortions and that forcing a woman to submit to a fetal extraction is like forcing her to donate organs against her will. The pregnant woman, Overall writes, is the "most appropriate person--perhaps the only one--to decide the disposition of the fetus." Extraction, extinction, disposition: Is this how the pro-choice movement wants their side of the debate to be framed in a post-ectogenesis world?

So you have a technology that renders abortion moot, plus, in the same article, slamming of organized pro-choice forces. Highly worth reading if you have an interest in the abortion debate. ZImmerman ends with:

Just consider the issue of viability: 41 states ban abortion after viability; if ectogenesis is achieved, will abortion then become illegal in each of those states? Many pro-lifers will certainly be prepared to argue yes. Isn't it about time pro-choicers start thinking of what they will say in response?
ANOTHER ONE?!: Topless Starfire fans--from Australia? George Perez, what hath you wrought?
THE CASE AGAINST HARRY TRUMAN: Gene Healy links to this really fascinating mock-prosecution of Harry Truman as a war criminal. I side with the prosecution, as I consider the massacre of hundreds of thousands morally indefensible, even if at the same time it's this really horrible event that came to dominate the latter half of the 20th century and I can't imagine life without it, without knowing that ever post-apocalyptic story I've ever read or watched has its roots in an actual event. Like, would we fear The Bomb if The Bomb had never been used? Well, hopefully. But even if we didn't--that wouldn't justify the massacre. It's another justification, like the whole "the Bomb saved lives" bullcrap.

I always thought DC should do an Elseworlds where The Spectre--the avenger of mass murders--runs wild after Hiroshima. But that's just me.
RECALL REDUCED TO ESSENTIALS: Hugh Hewitt does it here:

Time for the purists to check their passion at the door and focus on winning. A governor with whom I agree 75 percent of the time – or even 60 percent of the time – is far, far better than a governor with whom I never agree.

A vote for Tom McClintock, Bill Simon or Peter Ueberroth is a vote for Cruz Bustamante.

It really is that simple.
JUST SO THERE'S NO MORE CONFUSION WITH THE BIGGEST RECALL "WHAT IF?": Daniel Weintraub explains what happens if Gray Davis resigns:

With polls showing his support eroding daily, the Davis-resignation rumors are hot and heavy around the Capitol again. And the resignation question has never ceded its first-place spot atop the list of questions I get from readers. So I am going to make a confession. Knowing Davis as I do, I never thought I would say this, but today, for the first time, I started to think that it is possible he might resign before the election. His position has deteriorated horribly in the past week and it is difficult to imagine a campaign that could pull him out of his tailspin. He can't even get the voters' attention; how is he going to persuade them? If his current condition were to persist past Labor Day, I could see Clinton leaning on him to quit, and arranging a golden parachute for him at an LA law firm.

BUT--don't believe what you keep hearing from national television pundits and national columnists. A Davis resignation would not scuttle the recall election. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante would become governor, but the election would go forward, and a new governor could replace Cruz if Cruz failed to win the most votes. What happens to Cruz at that point is a subject of some debate. Some think he would be acting governor and return to his old job if he lost the election. Others think he would be out of a job completely at that point.

So nothing stops the recall at this point, and the only confusion involves Cruz Bustamante's status. There you go.
SLATE PERFORMS A BLOG-LIKE FUNCTION: Jack Shafer deconstructs the apparently "only in Newsweek's head" huge rise in teen prostitution.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

IN THE INTEREST OF HIGH-MINDED RECALL DEBATE I GIVE YOU: Arnold Schwarzeneggar's Japanese commercials. Via a comment at Daily Kos. I can't get them to work, but I'm at work.
YOU KNOW, AL FRANKEN IS PRETTY ANNOYING: But calling your book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" is kinda funny. By the way, you can't tell me there's no difference between the Big Three cable networks. Chris Matthews has some respect for intellectual discourse. And Keith Olbermann is nine times funnier than anything on Fox News ever--which I admit is not saying that much. But there's no way in the world Countdown should be getting outdrawn by the Morton Downey Jr. of the 00s. Vote with your remote, people! Vote MSNBC! NEWSFOXES!

Monday, August 11, 2003

LATEST MSNBC NEWSFOX: Sumi Das. And I really think they put all the newsfoxes on the Lester Holt hour so it's like a more journalistic "Charlie's Angels" or something. Watch for yourself--it's true!
SHEEDY FOR K-MART: The nerds at Sportsfilter discuss the possible Rasheed Wallace for Kenyon Martin trade. Bill Simmons had Sheed at 32 and Kenyon at 16 in his annual Top 40 NBA Players ranked by trade value list but Bill does go insane sometimes. Personally, I'll take that trade because Kenyon has not got it done in the finals and Rasheed has come closer to beating the Lakers than the Nets have. Plus it'll be different, and the Nets have to basically try anything to win a title with Jason Kidd. I mean, even with Alonzo Mourning and Rasheed they'd still be underdogs in the finals. Get ready for your 2003-2004 Eastern Conference Buffalo Bills....
SALON MEETS THE BOOTLEGS: An overview of the whole scence including its murky legalities, plus Charles Taylor loves the bootlegs:

Mash-ups may simply be seen as a logical extension of sampling, the next step in a culture where everything gets combined to less and less effect. Except that the irony I hear in mash-ups is not the irony of hip detachment. Mash-ups are not only the logical evolution of the mix tape, those intensely personal collages put together as love letters or journals or mementos of a time and place. They represent some of the best things pop music has to offer us right now. They're the place where real rock criticism is being done, the glorious return of format-free radio, the vindication of fandom and an affirmation of the egalitarian spirit of rock.

I dig Charles' analysis of two of the more famous bootlegs. Here he is on Stroke of Genius:

Mash-ups don't so much trash the barriers of high and low that exist in the pop world as simply refuse their existence. What hip young Strokes' fan, steeped in Big Star and the Kinks and the Replacements, would be caught dead grooving to Christina Aguilera? But when you hear the fleet, chugging guitars of the Strokes' "Hard to Explain" backing Aguilera's vocal for "Genie in a Bottle," they're a match made in heaven. If you think of the refrain that Julian Casablancas sings in the Strokes' original -- "I don't see it that way" -- it begins to seem like a denial of the possibilities this new version opens up.

Somebody saw it a different way (the version, credited to Freelance Hellraiser, is fittingly called "A Stroke of Genius"), saw that indie hipness and teen pop could be entirely comfortable bedfellows. And you notice something else -- just how good Aguilera's vocal is. The lyric and the song's original backing may be just another piece of pop-factory product. Taken out of its original context, Aguilera's vocal reveals a commitment to emotion beyond anything the song deserves, along with a dramatic pull between erotic surrender and refusal.

The Strokes might be a bunch of guys mooching around the sidelines at a dance eyeing Aguilera, the hot girl who's just sashayed in. The guitar riff of "Hard to Explain" promises pleasure lurking just around the corner, if only this girl would venture out on the dance floor with one of them. She, on the other hand, is determined to keep herself in reserve, though the slight moan in her voice tells you she longs to give into what the music promises. The number could be the long-awaited marriage of the Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," with its heartbreakingly naive question, and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam's "I Wonder If You Take Me Home," where the singer knows exactly what will happen if she gives herself to the boy who's working overtime to melt her defenses.

And here he is explaining Smells Like Teen Booty, which I find to be a completely addictive song (i.e., I look forward to it more than any other portion of the vast Soulwax mix on Boom Selection):

For the most part, though, the elements of mash-ups work to complement each other, and never more so than in Freelance Hellraiser's "Smells Like Booty," a pairing of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child. On the Destiny's Child album "Survivor," "Bootylicious" kicks off to the opening riff from Stevie Nicks' "Edge of Seventeen." That stuttering guitar is meant to impart tension, but the track never delivers the mounting excitement of denied release. Worse, the vocals sound rushed, nervous, competing with the beat instead of being buoyed by it. The twists and turns of the vocal get swallowed in the mix.

It's stating the obvious to say "Smells Like Teen Spirit" hits faster and harder than "Edge of Seventeen." The oddity is that the pace of the song actually seems to relax the vocal, allowing every ounce of its lubriciousness to drop over the record like honey. It opens with the spider-vine crawl of Nirvana's opening riff and the vocal asking, "Kelly, can you handle this? Michelle, can you handle this? Beyoncé, can you handle this? I don't think they can handle this!" That has no sooner ended when Kurt Cobain's guitar, Krist Novoselic's bass, and especially Dave Grohl's drums explode and the release has already come.

But instead of being a premature ejaculation, the tension keeps building, band and vocalists striving to outdo each other's mounting excitement. "I don't think you're ready for this jelly," Beyoncé teases as the guitar and bass and drums work to an ever more crushing crescendo to prove otherwise. As she reaches the vocal's ultimate tease -- "I don't think you're ready for this" repeated again and again, the track reaches the moment in "Teen Spirit" where the rhythm is interrupted by the sound of the guitar, like a rubber band being yanked back. When the track reaches those interruptions, it's as if Beyoncé has succeeded in rocking her pursuer back on his heels, and as if she's smacking her bottom to punctuate her triumph.

This has to be one of the sexiest recordings ever. If "Stroke of Genius" is a dance of seduction, surrender, and retreat, this is a full-fledged sexual face-off, predatory and retaliatory between two sides determined not to give an inch. And lest it sound as if it's Destiny's Child alone who benefits from this pairing, Nirvana gains something, too, and what they gain is precisely the thing that grunge never had: sex. "Smells Like Booty" adds the one thing to their résumé that was missing: a great rock 'n' roll fuck song.

Stroke of Genius and Smells Like Teen Booty are both ideal bootlegs, unleashing the possibilities of two different songs and improving them both and seeming to come from a parallel universe with a unified pop culture not organized along class or age or racial lines. And he mentions other stuff (Steinski?) that I've never heard of and now have to check out. And you should check out those articles if you think you might like that craaaazy bootleg sound.