Saturday, October 30, 2004

And We're Worried...

Just before you reach the point where American politics ceases to be funny in its absurdity, check out what goes on in other countries. A Federal Congressman in Brazil, a nation with real problems, came out recently and proposed a law that would prevent people from giving their pets names that are commonly human. Apparently, this bit of legislation is meant to benefit both animals and children, who can become depressed when they discover that they share a name with someone else's iguana.

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Friday, October 29, 2004

I'd Like to Make An Announcement

Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery, and nothing breeds imitation like success in team sports. Heard in GM offices in recent years:

Hey, if the Baltimore Ravens can win a Super Bowl with defense and a never-was at Quarterback, why can't we? Get Steve DeBerg on the phone!

If the Patriots can win 2 Super Bowls in 3 years with a collection of cap-friendly no-names and a Hobbit coach, why can't we? Hoodies for everyone!

If Billy Beane's A's can remain competitive in a small market by drafting guys based on on-base percentage instead of "talent," why can't we? All of our scouts are fired! Does anyone have wireless internet?

Well, for once, I'm going to be ahead of the game. I'd like to take this opportunity to announce my availability to any Major League Baseball franchise who, in the spirit of the World Champion Red Sox, are looking to now hire a hotshot Jewish guy in his twenties to guide their long-suffering organization to a World Series victory. Say what you want about heroic performances from Schilling, Papi, Foulke or even D-Lowe. They're all nice stories. I'm pretty sure, though, that the turning point for the formerly cursed Sox came last year when they shockingly hired 28-year-old Theo Epstein as General Manager of one of sports' most storied organizations, then handed him a $130 million payroll to play with. The result? A World Series win not two years later.

So, all you owners out there: if the Red Sox can overcome the Yankees, break a curse and win a Series for the first time in 86 years, all because they hired a brash Jewish kid in his twenties to be their GM, why can't you?

(To sweeten the pot, in addition to being young and Jewish, I will also make arrangements to bring a Dominican midget into the fold. Just say the word.)

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Thursday, October 28, 2004

She stars in a couple of amateur adult movies and she thinks she's a healer

Roundup: Ailing Arafat to be flown to Paris for treatment

RAMALLAH, Oct. 28 -- Ailing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will be airlifted to Paris for treatment early Friday, his senior advisor Nabil Abu Rudeina told reporters outside Arafat's Ramallah compound late Thursday. According to one of Arafat's medical consultants, the departure was scheduled at 6:30 a.m. (0430 GMT).

Two Jordanian helicopters will airlift Arafat from the West Bank city to the Jordanian capital Amman, where he will take a French plane to Paris for treatment, Jordan's official Petra News Agency reported.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Daddy's Little Angel

My baby, "Libby-Dibby"

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The Apology

So, while driving to and from work, I'm listening to a book on tape of the works of Plato. Socrates' Apology is the first bit.

I read the Apology in high school and was duly impressed; man this guy can speechify. And all this stuff about how the truly wise know that they know nothing, well that is the kind of stuff that you know turns the chicks on.

I read it again in college and, though it was a philosophy class, what I got from it was a respect for the form, structure, and rythym of the speech. It is a brilliant piece of work.

Then, I started listening to the book on tape. Something seemed odd about it. It lacked the power and authority I remember it having. The reader did not match my expectations (I was thinking bass or bass baritone).

About 10 minutes into the reading it struck me: this guy is making Socrates sound like the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. My accusers say I am corrupting the youth, but I'm just a caveman. Your modern togas and methods of deductive reasoning frighten me. I don't know anything about making the worse appear the better cause but I do know this: he is wise who knows that he knows nothing.

All the over the top dramatics and verbal inflections are there. Seriously, this reading is so bad it risks turing one of the all time great stories into a sleazy lawyer biopic.

Congratulations Books on Tape Inc. I award you my Crappy Product of the Week award.

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Tim McCarver update


Tim has not lived down to his normal standards this year. That, coupled with the fact that he was covering the American League (which means I didn't see much of him), means the TimMcCarver contest is somewhat of a let down.

In last night's game he did have a classic with his: "We might see him throw down a bunt here" only to watch the batter wildly swing at the pitch. "Or he might swing away" Joe Buck responded.

There was also a bit in game seven in NY where they cut down to the field with Chris Myers (What the hell did Chris do to end up as the 4 man, incidentally?). Myers did a little bit about how only two teams in the history of sport had come from a 3-0 deficit to win a best of 7 series and both of them were in hockey. It had never been done in baseball before. Back up to the booth.

Then McCarver says (I paraphrase): What Chris didn't tell you is that it has never been done in baseball before. Both times it has happened have been in hockey.

Bravo, Tim.

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Christopher Hitchens

I was pretty much shocked last week to read in the Nation that Hitchens was endorsing president Bush for re-election. Shocked not with the endorsement, but that the Nation was publishing it.*

Today, however, I find I am more shocked to find Hitchens endorsing Kerry over at Slate.

Is this something British? Do they get to endorse one candidate per journalistic outlet over there?

Would it be fair to say that Hitchens voted for Bush before he voted against him?

*On the other hand, good luck finding it on the frontpage at The Nation. They'll publish the piece, but don't expect them to let anyone find it.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Home Field Advantages

So, tonight we see if the Cardinals can get something going here.

Arianna notes that we scored 9 runs on Saturday without any support from our vaunted 2-3-4 hitters. True, but they gave us four errors and she ignores the more important half of the equation. It doesn't matter how many runs we score if our pitching is going to suck this badly.

But, coming home we should have a couple things going for us.

First, to get their fat boy DH in the game they have to pull their first baseman. He is a good hitter and fielder. So they lose one good hitter from their lineup and add a defensive liability.

Second, Arianna is right that getting out of the oddly shaped Fenway should help. That help, though, comes in the form of being back on a level playing field. We can't expect the Sox to play worse in Busch than they did at home. They are more used to seeing "regular" fields than we are irregular ones.

Third, the fans here are pretty amazing. Potential downside: the weather here is miserable right now. If it is raining hard and cold here tonight the feeling in the stadium will be different. I was at game six in 1982 at Busch and it was fiercely cold. The excitement level never reached critical mass until the top of the ninth.

The curse: I have flipped 180 on this over the last 5 days. Last week, I thought the curse had killed the Red Sox and was looking forward to a classic Yankee-Cardinal matchup. On Friday I pointed out to H-man that if you were going to script an end to the curse it would have to involve going through the two most storied teams in baseball history. A week ago, the curse had me chuckling. Now I fear it. This is exactly the way some crappy Hollywood writer would have it play out.

The best of the "curse continues" scripts would have the Red Sox win tonight, then drop the next three. Bottom of the ninth in game 7. Sox are down three and have bases loaded. Fat boy is at the plate. He hits a monster drive just as a terrorist bomb explodes in the box seats on the left field side. Ben Afflack's decapitated head flies into the field of play knocking the grand slam out of the sky and into So Taguchi's hands. The ball is relayed in and a startled fat boy is tagged out at second base ending the game.

Sox lose, Afflack gone, and Afflack hated by Boston.

Note to Ben: That is a movie I'd go see.

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For Anonymous

A friend sent me this yesterday. As it reminds me of my Mrs. Power and I, I post it for your edification:

Subject:Her Diary/His Diary

HER DIARY Sunday night - I thought he was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a bar to have a drink. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment.

Conversation wasn't flowing so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk, he agreed but he kept quiet and absent.

I asked him what was wrong - he said, "Nothing."

I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said it had nothing to do with me and not to worry.

On the way home I told him that I loved him, he simply smiled and kept driving.

I can't explain his behavior; I don't know why he didn't say, "I love you, too."

When we got home I felt as if I had lost him, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore.

He just sat there and watched TV; he seemed distant and absent.

Finally I decided to go to bed. About 10 minutes later he came to bed and to my surprise he responded to my caress and we made love, but I still felt that he was distracted and his thoughts were somewhere else.

I decided that I could not take it anymore, so I decided to confront him with the situation but he had fallen asleep. I started crying and cried until I too fell asleep.

I don't know what to do. I'm almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else.

My life is a disaster.

Today the Rams lost, but at least I got laid.

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The Rams?

So I got a (barely) anonymous e-mail:

Dear Max,I've decided to enjoy football. Can you give me a reason why I
should root for the Rams?
Well, on a specific level, because you are from LA and live in St. Louis. They are your hometeam either way. Plus, they are on TV every week here, so you don't miss any games and don't have to buy a special cable or dish package.
On a general level, it is much harder. While people often pick on someone who jumps into a sport by getting on the bandwagon of a hot team, I think there is actually good reason to do so. Watching a great team execute gives newbies a chance to see the sport at its best and, usually, most exciting. Then, when you begin watching other teams you have an appreciation for the skills involved.

The 1999-2003 Rams were a good example. They were so good that they covered for the flaws of their coach, Mike Martz. The Rams are now an average team, with brief flashes of greatness. But the flaws of Martz now stand out starkly. If I were just coming into football and watching the Rams, I would either pay close attention to the announcers (who will question quite a bit of Martz's strategy) or watch with a knowledgeable friend.

All that said, they do have a couple of the most potent offensive weapons in the game with Marshall Faulk, Issac Bruce, and Torry Holt. Bulger consistently throws for over 250 yards per game. Plus, they are rarely "out" of a game. In Seattle, they faced a defense that had only given up 13 points in the previous 3 games and outscored them 23-3 in the fourth quarter and overtime to win.

Oh yeah, one more thing: after the World Series is over, you're gonna need something to cheer for.

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Monday, October 25, 2004

Headline of the Day

From the St. Louis American:

Local Leaders Educate and Encourage Voters

Hey T-man, I need a little liberal help here. Is suggesting that people "vote or die" considered "educating" or "encouraging"?

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Bravo, My Googling Friend, Bravo

So, I'm trolling through the web counter looking for what draws people to the site.

Most interesting finding so far: we got a hit from someone who googled: Sehorn Sucks.

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College Board Fiasco

You may remember College Board as the company that handles the SAT test. Tens of thousands of kids today know them as the group that told them their scores were ready, then had their website go down, unable to handle the load.

They could have sent a note to everyone with a last name beginning with A-G one day, then H-P, the next until they got them all out. Or done it by Social Security number or something. Instead, they decided to overload their servers by sending everyone at once so no one could get through.

For over-promising and under-delivering, I give College Board the "Whatever happened to customer service?" award of the month.

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No Joy in Mudville

Truth be told, H-man would love to gloat about the fact that my Rams lost to the lowly Dolphins this weekend, but can't because his Titans lost to whatever JV girls team is in the league the Titans have been demoted to.

That, coupled with the fact that our Cardinals are down 2-0, has really put a damper on us.

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Celibrating 8 Posting Free Days

And they said it couldn't be done.

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Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Good News Is, He Has the Gout

Those of you who follow sports closely know that sports medicine can be a quirky, often incomprehensible field. The job of a sports doctor is very different from that of a normal MD--not always to heal or cure patients, but rather simply to stave off permanent physical damage or dull pain enough to allow an athlete to perform adequately through an injury. It's not unusual to hear a trainer or coach say something along the lines of,

"Well, McNair does have a collapsed lung and two exposed hemorrhaging arteries that will require surgery at some point. But we'll give him a pain-killing injection, have him run around, try putting some weight on that lung, and if he feels like he can go, he'll go."

As a sports fan, you grow accustomed to hearing and accepting things like that as normal. Your perspective completely askew, you begin to think that someone who is unable to participate weekly in world-class athletic competition due to something as piddly as a separated shoulder or torn hamstring is a selfish, overpaid jock, while an injury like that ruins an average person's year.

I bring this up because I read a story this morning that caught even me, a skewed, jaded sports fan, completely off guard. Here's the opening sentence from a story entitled "Kline Gets Good News on Finger" about an injury to Cardinals Reliever Steve Kline:

HOUSTON -- Steve Kline and the Cardinals got just about the best possible news on Friday concerning Kline's extremely sore left index finger. After examination by a doctor in St. Louis, Kline is believed to have a case of gout aggravating the 70 percent tendon tear in the finger.

Now again, I'm no doctor, and I've heard a lot of crazy things from trainers and coaches. For a reporter to describe a case of the gout, however, as "the best possible news" seems a little strange to me. To be honest, I think everyone's just a little slap-happy about this gout thing. For example, Kline's trainer is quoted as saying that "there is a likelihood that the excess swelling is gout-related. " How often do you get to even say something like that? "Gout-related?" He went on, "he has gout, and that's one of the places gout goes, the extremities. So he's on his gout medication, and usually that takes about 48 hours and he gets some relief."

He's probably had that one in his pocket for years now, just waiting for the right moment, and he finally got it. Kudos to him for that, I suppose.

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Friday, October 15, 2004

Just in case you were unconvinced that the world had gone mad...

A news story cropped up today that I think was specifically designed to make me propel my head repeatedly toward the densest nearby surface.

Apparently Martha Stewart posted a letter on her web site (and the fact that she's in a "prison" where the inmates are allowed internet access is an issue for a separate post) pleading with her fans to stop sending her money.

The apocalypse is nigh. I'll miss you all very much.

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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?* My Running Diary of the Second Presidential Debate

I’m a Wash U alumnus who still lives four blocks from campus in a pathetic attempt to hold on to my college years. The benefit of such a sad existence, and the fact that I still carry my Wash U ID, is that I can still partake in some of the events on or near campus. That includes cheap concerts, $5.50 movies, and the occasional festivities surrounding a presidential debate. I spent a little while hanging out at the live broadcast of MSNBC’s Hardball last night, and tonight I caught a little bit of CNN’s Crossfire. Lessons learned:

1) Chris Matthews’ head is at least a yard in circumference.
2) A group of enthusiastic, politicized students can be made to rhythmically chant ANYTHING in unison (including "Hard-ball! Hard-ball!") as long as the possibility of free t-shirts exists.
3) For some reason, I get genuinely excited about seeing Pat Buchanan and/or Wolf Blitzer in person.

Anyway, there are probably thousands of live blogs that chronicled this evening’s matchup between President Bush and John Kerry. You would think that might make me think twice about adding mine to the deluge. Nope! And now, by popular request…

8:02pm: And we’re live from Wash U’s Field House! We’re only one minute in, and Charlie Gibson is looking incontinent already. He’s probably wondering if the entire audience at home can tell that he’s clenching his butt cheeks. Oh Charlie, we can tell.

8:02pm: Do they get the audience members together before these debates and have some sort of Shirley Jackson-esque lottery to decide who has to wear the American Flag t-shirt? And where do you even purchase something like that?

8:04pm: He’s barely off of his awkwardly tall stool, and already John Kerry has the catch phrase of the night picked out, calling Bush’s campaign a "Weapon of Mass Deception." Be careful you don’t show all your pitches too early, John. We’ve got 86 minutes to go.

8:09pm: Every time the candidates address the questioners by their first names, it reminds me of how creepy it used to be when I worked at Blockbuster in high school and had to wear a name tag. There’s nothing eerier, in my opinion, than someone with whom you have no relationship other than your recommendation of Twelve Monkeys calling you by name.

8:10pm: I think these debates should have one surprise guest, to be chosen and unveiled at the discretion of the moderator. "Well, John and George, we can clear this up right now--let’s bring him out! Saddam Hussein, ladies and gentlemen!"

8:18pm: First really unsettling quote from W this evening—"We didn’t find out they didn’t have weapons of mass destruction ‘til we got there." True, but where does it end? Does that mean he’ll be using Special Forces units to see if there are any Snapples left in the fridge? And what if there aren’t? Who has to die?

8:26pm: John Kerry on Iran’s proliferation program: "Believe me, we will get tough!" Funny, nothing about the way he said that made me "believe" him at all. One thing about W—he’s kind of like that dumb friend you have that drinks too much at parties. You like him, and you know he’s a nice guy, but you never know when he might stab somebody then laugh wildly afterward. There’s a credibility to his intimidation factor that Kerry will never have.

8:27pm: Every time W says "bilateral relations," I giggle a little. Maybe that’s just me.

8:32pm: Oh my god, there it is! Charlie tried to stop W, and the president steamrolled him like a Saddam statue in Baghdad. He may just stab Gibson after all! By the way, I’m a little disappointed in the way Charlie let that go down. If he’s going to "enforce the rules," as he said, he’s may have to lift up his skirt, grab his balls and enforce the rules. That's what moderators do. Man up.

8:34pm: Easily the best veiled double-entendre insult of the night so far: John Kerry declares that the "best weapon against terrorism is intelligence."

8:39pm: W: "When a drug comes in from Canada, I want to make sure it cures ya and doesn’t kill ya!" Did Canada join the Axis of Evil without telling us? Should Michigan be on red alert? Oh wait, now he’s explaining: "It looks like it’s from Canada, it might be from the third world." I didn’t realize that Rwanda held such a large market share in the fake Canadian blood thinner industry.

8:45pm: Two things that are "hard work" according to the President: 1) subduing, conquering and restructuring a dangerous foreign regime, and 2) being named the most liberal Senator by the National Journal.

8:55pm: In the last diary, I chronicled John Kerry’s serious aversion to looking into the camera. Apparently it’s worse than I originally suspected, because tonight he was directly asked by a questioner to look into the camera and make a statement. Then, he said "looking right into the camera…" while looking away. This is a serious malady. Can he be declared unfit for office or incapacitated due to a debilitating inability to look at a camera? Imagine him sitting in the Oval Office, delivering a message to America in a time of war, while looking oddly at nothing in particular. Creepy.

8:57pm: And so it begins. It was only a matter of time. Bush starts his fifteen minutes of classic W rampage. I won't interrupt it with my comments. There's just nothing to say:

8:57pm: "We got battling green eyeshades."

9:01pm: "I proposed the Hydrogen Car."

9:03pm: "We’ll continue to spend good money on research and development cause I truly believe that’s the way to get from how we live today to being able to live a standard of living that we’re accustomed to and being able to protect our environment better, the use of technologies."

9:09pm: "Need some wood?"

9:09pm: Glad that's over. I was just starting to pour the gasoline on my hair.

9:21pm: At least ONE of the candidates (in this case the president) is finally taking a stand on the Dred Scott Decision. I guess W wants to set himself up as the "Anti-Slavery President." Kerry, true to form, remained wishy-washy on the subject.

9:26pm: Is W’s "Culture of Life" kind of like the "Circle of Life?" And how does Elton John figure into all of this? Just between you and me, it sounds like a case of bilateral relations.

9:29pm: Somehow it feels really dirty when the candidates blatantly dodge a question from an audience member. I don’t get that feeling when they’re dealing with the media.

9:31pm: Hey look, the Kerry girls! I hope they didn’t have to rearrange their schedules too much to be here tonight.

Overall, a much better performance from the President tonight, while Kerry remained pretty consistent. I feel like a wuss saying it, but I think we’ll have to call this one a draw. Good entertainment, though. Admittedly, I was skeptical, but now I think I could get used to this Town Hall format-- especially if we could get a town hall full of hot Arizona State chicks next time. I'll make some calls. See you next week.

*Secret message to our favorite NotSoMuch reader. Kitten, you know who you are.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2004

An answer to your query...

Hey Max,

Your statistic is somewhat telling, and I have a theory. I would argue that American League baseball, rife with its Designated Hitters, relies far more on adrenaline and momentum than its counterpart in the National League. National League managers are forced to occasionally think, strategize, and make moves according to proven baseball theory, while American League "managers" eat seeds, watch, and wait for their lineups to play Home Run Derby. The crowd is much more of a factor for those teams, keeping them energized and motivated. The "small ball" that teams in the NL play is far less dependent on emotion.

Then again, it could just be that this year's shaky Yankees pitching and atrocious Red Sox defense (pre-Nomar trade) let opposing crowds get into their heads. In baseball, statistics often lie. This year, Randy Johnson lost 14 games (lousy year, right?) while also posting a WHIP of under 1.0 and a strikeouts per nine innings ratio of 10.62. You figure it out.

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Monday, October 04, 2004

Useless stat of the day

Just noticed something odd about the playoff bound baseball teams.

The Cardinals have the best record in baseball this year (with 105 wins). But they only won 1 more game at home (53-28) than they did on the road(52-29). The Braves were only 2 better at home than on the road and the Astros and Dodgers were 4 and 5 better. So the four National League playoff teams were a combined 12 games better at home (199-125) than on the road (187-137).

Meanwhile, in the American League, both the Yankees and the Red Sox were individually over 12 games better at home than on the road. The Angels provide a little anomoly (they were actually better on the road), but the American League was a combined 29 games better at home (206-118) than on the road (177-147).

Is there any real reason for there to be a clear home field advantage for the AL, but a much smaller advantage for the NL?

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Kids today

So my wife got a call from "Victory 2004" or some other such group this weekend. The guy on the phone asked her who she was voting for and when she said "Bush" he asked for three reasons and began telling her why he was voting for Kerry.

My wife tried to end the call but is far more polite to these kinds of strangers than I. So the guy continues to hound her about voting for Bush until my wife, sensing some nervousness in his rather high pitched voice, asked him: "how old are you"?


They had a 13 year old kid calling people and badgering them about their prospective vote. That seems wrong for a lot of reasons (one of which is the kid telling my wife why he was voting for Kerry), but mostly I think I feel sorry for the kid. To be 13 and that enmeshed in politics doesn't quite seem healthy.

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Sunday, October 03, 2004

Hey H-man





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Friday, October 01, 2004

tidbit of the day

From the NY Daily News:

YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS: How much more humiliation can CNBC take? The cable network is paying tennis ace John McEnroe more than $1 million to host a nightly talk show. But Monday's installment of "McEnroe" - featuring such guests as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and CNBC "Money Honey" Maria Baritoromo - ranked 833rd out of the 834 shows that aired on all of cable television in the period from 6 a.m. Monday through 3 a.m. Tuesday. "McEnroe" beat only the Food Network's "How to Boil Water."

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