Sunday, May 30, 2004
David fixes Marmar
Despite the various logistical problems, I do like the idea of dropping the worst teams to a lower level and competing to make it to the top level. I think it would work better with only the big leagues and AAA working like that, with AA, A, and low A, etc, as affiliates of teams in the top two leagues, allowing them to draft and develop talent. This way you would take, say, the bottom two teams in the Majors, either by record overall or one from the AL and one from the NL, and the top two teams in AAA, and hold a brief tournament that could be constructed in a variety of ways to force one or two demotions/promotions or just make it a possibility for one or two promotions/demotions.
Marmar fixes baseball
But of course, like any player, I put her behind me and moved on to the next one...which was the girl taking my order at Burger King. Another Saturday Night and I aint got nobody.
Lets change the subject before I start crying. This post is about how to make baseball better. I still love baseball, mostly due to my love for the Red Sox. And I really love baseball, for example, I think that 162 games is an acceptable amount, and will watch 140 games a year if in Boston. But I realize I don't represent the majority of fans. And its painfully obvious to me that baseball has the most problems: no young fans, too much of a difference in revenues and payrolls between teams. Most importantly, the NFL is taking over as America's Pastime. That is huge for baseball, the tie-in to history, the roaring 20s, World War II, all that nostalgic crae Times are changing however; the Super Bowl destroys the World Series in every possible way in terms of national prominence. If baseball loses that status, it will become marginalized.
The solution is modeling the entire system, from A ball all the way up to the Majors after the European Soccer system. This involves paring the Major Leagues down to 24 teams. 12 NL, 12 AL. 6 in the East, 6 in the West. Here is how we would do that, for the first season this system was in place, the last place team in each of the current divisions would get demoted to Triple AAA. Triple AAA would also have 24 teams, then Double AA Single A, Half A, or whatever all the way down the line. The winners of the divisions in the majors would play the ALCS, NLCS, World Series.
There would be 5 days between the end of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs. During this time, at a pre-selected stadium, the Major League would hold its Bud Selig Regulation tournament. The teams that had won their divisions from all the levels, as well as the bottom 4 teams from each division in all levels, would come to play in a tournament. ESPN and the Deuce could carry it. 5 days, 5 games (potentially). The winners of the series get promoted, or avoid getting demoted.
That would be dramatic. It would give last place teams in the Majors something to play for. It would let teams that couldnt compete with the payrolls of the Yankees and Co. spend a few years functioning on a smaller scale and rebuilding, with something to compete for in making it back to the majors. But it would reward teams that could build great teams on smaller budgets. It would improve the overall quailty of major league players, by getting rid of the worst 125.
I would abolish the concept of farm teams, allowing teams to keep 50 man rosters and 25 man active rosters. The major league teams would then loan their non-active players to lower division teams. Thus, if a third division team was able to find and sign talent for cheap, and could keep the team together, they would potentially be able to get to the World Series. That would increase interest in baseball as a regional sport.
I would also set up a tournament similar to the FA Cup in England, where every team from all divisions play three game-series against each other, from May to August. 5 weekends would be removed from the schedule, cutting the season from 162 games to 145. These weekends would be used for rounds of the Cup. Each round would be a three game series, held at the site of the lower division team, (except the final, which would also be held at a neutral site.) This would give the lower division fans a chance to see the stars of major league. Meanwhile, in a three games baseball series, anything can happen so there would be a ton of upsets. Plus it would be great to gamble on.
I would construct a baseball World Cup, to be held in November, about a month after the World Series, in Florida. Like the Rugby and Soccer World Cups, I would only hold it every four years.
I would move Montreal to San Juan as soon as possible, with a real stadium. I would move Tampa Bay to Havana as soon as Castro dies.
I would make a rule that if you trade for a player, you have to pay that players salary. This is to keep the Yankees from trading for Raul Mondesi, then trading him and paying his salary. This would make teams more cautious about trading for players and keep teams from paying off management mistakes.
I would make rules to cut down on pitchers like Frank Castillo running around the mound. This would involve limiting pitchers to two pick offs per inning (three is treated as a balk.) limiting batter-step outs, and putting an alotted time between pitches.
I would force Fox to fire Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, and force them to watch Joe Morgan-televised games for the next ten years.
I see nothing wrong with this plan, and they do it in Europe, so there is no reason they cant here. But they wont
Thursday, May 27, 2004
The Pen is Mightier: The Day After Tomorrow
-Roland Emmerich, the director, made Independence Day, one of the greatest bad summer movies of all time.
-Roland Emmerich is also tabbed to direct the Dragonball Z movie, if it ever happens, so I got to keep up on him.
-Australian TV is just awful.
So I went, heavily medicated of course. No way I am seeing this movie sober. That made the experience somewhat bearable. But this is one awful movie. The special effects are nice...or are they? There are detailed sequences of a frozen over New York, and tornadoes attacking Los Angeles...but they didn't impress me that much. What's happened is I have seen too many movies relying on CGI, I can't be impressed now. How can you top Lord of the Rings or the first Matrix?
The population's eventual apathy for CGI is a good thing, because people will stop paying to see movies just for the effects. It would have been nice if Emmerich had cut a few of the CGI scenes and invested some money in a decent screenwriter. Emmerich wrote the script, and it is fucking awful. Every cheesy cliche is thrown in there, and the dialouge is TERRIBLE. With one notable expection: Emmerich has a knack for political commentary, and there is a cool rebellious, anti-U.S. side to this whole movie. The President (a George Bush look-a-like) always arrives late to any policy meetings, and asks the VP (a Dick Cheney look-a-like,) what to do before making any moves. Good stuff. But a few sly jokes don't make up for two hours of crap. The worst part was the apparent lack of common-sense editing by the director. We go from a scene of tornados destroying Los Angeles, to the presidential staff watching on tv, to the VP asking a question along the lines of "How bad is this weather?" IT JUST DESTROYED THE SECOND BIGGEST CITY IN YOUR COUNTRY. This happens all throughout the movie, its as if Emmerich couldn't come up with any other question that could possibly be asked.
The film stars Dennis Quaid, and I can't blame him or any of the other actors for poor performances since they have no material to work with. The sub-plot, in case you haven't notice from the ads, involves the world being plunged into an Ice Age in a matter of days. Quaid decides to trek from D.C. to NYC to save his trapped son. The son, played by Jake Gyllenhall or whatever, is in New York on a school honor competition trying to win a girl in his group, played by Emily something or other. Emily's smoking, so that gave me something to look at when the dialouge went to shit. I'll leave it open to you guys to find out whether he makes it in time.
One interesting side-bar, some C.S. dorks couldn't get past the fact in Independence Day that they crippled the aliens by uploading a virus into their computer program, which is totally preposterous. This leads me to believe that the weather scenario this movie is based around is also a crock. Still give Emmerich credit for pondering what such catastrophes would do to the world order, even if the scenarios are totally unrealistic. That said, I don't want him touching the DBZ movie.
So in the disaster movie genre (scary thought) this rates below Deep Impact, but slightly ahead of Armageddon.
Amount I should have paid to see this movie: -5 dollars
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
This is The Year 1/4 report
But let's talk about more important things, like the Medias Rojas.
Record: 27-17 First Place, 1.5 Games ahead in first place in the American League East. Can't complain too much about that, although the second place team has gotten a little lucky with regards to total wins as opposed to expected wins (derived from run differential,) for the 7th straight year, where as we are below expectations. Lucky ass bastards. Can we expect to keep this pace? Should I believe baseball statistics given me to by Baseball Propectus? What if these stats aren't real at all, but just invented by one guy? Should we give credit to the guy who invented OPS for saying "hey, let's add two numbers together?"
Whoa I'm rambling. Lets get back to the topic here. Overall, The team is performing well, we are in first place. At least my team isn't 14-28, and I have something to root for, rather then an old, slow, overpaid team with incompenent management and Randy Winn playing centre field. I should be happy and satisfied, shouldn't I?
Well I'm not. It was clear from the beginning of this season that 2004 was not going to be enjoyable. Expectations are too high, and uncertainity plauges the team at every turn, due to injuries and the end-of-year contract crunch. So naturally, I am worried and irrationally pissed off. So lets break down the team a little more so I can vent.
Infield: Bill Mueller's batting average title may have been a fluke...Surprise! And now he is on the DL, meaning we may be seeing Gabe Kapler at third. Sheesh. Jason Varitek has been solid behind the plate, and is in the top three catchers in the AL. Nomar is out, meaning we have to play both Mark Bellhorn and Pokey Reese, leaving one hole in the lineup and one in the field. First base is filled with the usual crappy fielders, which doesn't bother me; Carlos Quintanna was our last decent fielding first baseman (although Mo Vaughn had a sweet pick at first, and could field anything in his range, which was as far as he could fall to either side.) Luckily, these crappy fielders can hit. David Ortiz's average is down from last year (.271), but he's on pace for 37 dongs and 133 RBI. That's hot. Millar has shown signs of life in May after I was calling for his release in April. I have no confidence in him whatsoever, but no doubt he will continue to interview well and take credit for everything positive that happens to the team, such as Manny "being more vocal," or teaching Pedro a new screwball.
Outfield: Manny has been in M-V-P form; even the press can't hate on him this year. And have you seen Damon's haid and beard? Of course you have. It's fantastic. Keep him in there no matter what. He's also got an OBP of .380, which is respectable for a leadoff hitter. He is only 4-7 in SB attempts however, I think the hair is causing too much wind resistance. With Trot Nixon out, right field has been another black hole, contributing to our offensive regression from last year's record setting squad.
Starting Pitching: God its nice to have a second ace on the team. I'm talking about Tim Wakefield of course. The next 300-win pitcher? I think so. Curt Schilling has excelled as expected. Pedro? 3.7 aint cutting it. I hope, hope, hope, hope, that he dominates the rest of the year. But I dont know. I am guessing ERA under 3, with at least three weeks on the disabled list. D-Lowe is toast. I don't mean that Derek I love you, I really do, but the ERA over 6? Thats terrible. BYK sucks, and we should trade him for that other Asian pitcher who was in a gay porn. Actually I would trade any of our players for that guy. Then I would trade him to the Yankees for Enrique Wilson, so I can make jokes about him with Jeter and Posada. Arroyo is medicore, but he's a fifth starter. Mediocrity is all we need.
Bullpen: From a weakness to strength in a year. Hell yes. We just need to trade for Tom Gordon and bring the Eck out of retirement. The only question is depth; Williamson has gone down with elbow problems, and Timlin and Foulke are pitching every day. Calm down Francona, to quote Jimy Williams, "its a marathon not a sprint."(Of course, Jimy used this quote to justify pinch hitting with Darren Lewis.)
Bench: Way too many Cesar Crespo ABs. This is where the injuries hurt you. Crespo shouldn't be on a major league roster, (well, maybe he could help the Mariners out,) Kapler and McCarty should be saved for platoon pinch-hitting roles, and Reese should be a part-timer and defensive specialist. Which brings us to...
Health: We havent had one AB from Trot or Nomar. Eerie similarities to 2001, where the team held close to the Yanks in the AL East, expecting Nomar, Pedro, and Varitek to return from injury, and collapsed in August when they never made it back. This team probably won't pull that collapse, because our pitching depth is so much greater. But I am VERY skeptical about either Trot or Nomar making it back this year at full effectivness. First of all, they are both out much longer than was supposed to be; the brilliant Red Sox medical team originally predicted Nomar would be out 5 days, its been 2 fucking months. Second, they don't seem to be making any progress. Both are concerned about the stresses of "participating in full baseball workouts." Which leads to me to this question: How fucking hard is it to do a complete baseball workout? Or play in a fucking game? Steve McNair is playing football in zero degree weather with a seperated shoulder. Donovon McNabb finishes a game with a broken ankle. Bledsoe plays with a broken finger and finishes a game with a sheared artery. And these are pussy-ass Quarterbacks. I think you need as much toughness to play one baseball game as you do one play in the NFL. Why are these baseball players such pussies? NOMAR SUCK IT UP AND GET IN THE GAME.
Management: I realized I was too harsh on Francona earlier. I haven't been able to watch the games day-to-day, and thus can't really judge how is doing. So I'll give him an incomplete. As for Theo and company, it would have been nice of them to bring in someone besides Crespo to play the reserve role. The trade for BYK and signing him to a 2 year 10 million dollar deal is looking ugly. I guess I have to give him credit for the Ortiz and Nixon contract extensions. Really though, this is a matter of strategy. Theo seems to be holding firm to his original offers, signing those players who will take what he offers, and not budging with regards to Pedro and Nomar. I think you have to give him credit for the patient approach. Lets look at the top 4 free agents. Lowe turned down 9 mil for 4 years, and now has a 6 ERA. Pedro has struggled some. Nomar hasn't taken an AB. Varitek is the only one who has performed to expectation.
But there is a downside to this patient approach. These players are people too. Both Nomar and Pedro especially, have personified this team since the late 1990s. They have made the team ALOT of money, and it is their success that has caused the owners to be in the position of power they are today, selling out the team every game with the highest ticket prices in the league. They deserve to be treated with respect. They deserve to stay Red Sox. I, personally, think they will continue to perform if rewarded. Leaving them dangling might save you a few million in the end...or make you lose them.
And if we do, and fail to replace them adequately, then Red Sox fans will soon realize they are paying out the nose to watch a crappy team in an antiquated stadium. Teams rise and fall, look at the Mariners. So Theo, don't make this year the last of an Era. Because if I have learned anything as a Red Sox fan, it's to not pin all your hopes on one year. Which is exactly the mentality management and fans have had about 2004.
eat my shorts
In other news, a few topics have piqued my interest recently but I haven’t been able to shape any of them into full, coherent posts. More troubling is that I can’t forget about them and move on to new topics. So please indulge me in a little mental clearing, as a few shorties have been combined into one gigantic beast of a post.
Indiana Jones IV is an unlikely dream that recently received a serious blow. Rumors have flown every which way for years – It will be set in the 50’s; Natalie Portman will play his daughter, who will be the main protagonist; as soon as the schedules of Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas are free, they will start filming. The problem is that they haven’t found a script they like, and all three have screenplay veto power. One was completed recently after 18 months of work by Frank Darabont, writer of The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and many Young Indiana Jones films, but was rejected immediately by Lucas. Many things irk me about this. 1) Ford and Spielberg apparently liked it, but the man who “wrote” the “screenplay” for Episode I and II felt it could be better. 2) Instead of improving the screenplay, which is based upon a story created by Lucas (so its not like they're looking for an entirely original plot), it was rejected outright, and the search for a new screenwriter is on. 3) The scheduled release date, if the script was agreed upon, was for the 4th of July weekend, 2005, a month after Episode III. Could Mr. Lucas have any personal reasons to reject a screenplay and delay the making of Indy IV, thus protecting his Star Wars thunder from thievery? 4) I really, really, want this to be made. Harrison, Steve, if you’re reading this....cool. Tell all your friends.
Shrek 2. New feline character. I imagined disaster. I usually can not stand characters added to sequels for a new angle of comic relief, though I have no examples at my disposal. Just a gut feeling. But this guy, voiced by Antonio Banderas, was quite the charmer. Simply a fantastic character. He is not overused and is not simply a punchline delivery vehicle. Well done, Dreamworks.
Two of my favorite things have become awful after four year stretches of greatness. Well, it is tough to call the Mariners great when they didn’t even reach the world series, but they did have a very good four year run. The West Wing, on the other hand, was great, and suddenly turned to crap with the departure of Aaron Sorkin. The 5th season has finally come to a merciful close, and I can’t really figure out why I watched the whole year. It was pretty painful to see such a great show sink to the crap that was this season. I guess it’s like watching someone drown – I mean, we all like to watch that, right? (if you watch The Game Show Network enough, and are lucky, you might find out what the hell I’m talking about). I really can think of only five episodes that were entertaining, and most of them had plenty of flaws that in any other season could not be overlooked. If I were NBC, I’d save video of Shutdown, The Supremes, No Exit, Gaza, and the finale, and dump the rest. Just burn it all. This show used to be perfectly written, funny, serious, dramatic, informative, and well filmed. Now it’s condescending, excessively dramatic, poorly lit to the point that many episodes were simply difficult to see, and far too often has the superior, patronizing tone and simplistic arguments of an after-school special. (I just said three things that all mean the same thing). And I still watch. Am I a sucker? So, I need a new show. Comedies aren’t cutting it at the moment, though Will and Grace is funny, if formulaic; sketch/live shows aren’t what I’m looking for, despite the entertainment of American Idol, brilliance of The Daily Show, and hit or miss hilarity of the Chappelle Show; and I don’t like the Sopranos. What shall it be?
I went to concert tonight where I saw Ludacris and Wyclef. Now, I’m no big fan of Ludacris – save a few songs, I find his beats harsh, his lyrics annoying, and his flow dull. Hearing him live changed everything. His heavy rhythms (wow, that’s a seven letter word with only one vowel, and even that isn’t really a vowel) are perfect for a large crowd of dancing drunks. Wyclef, on the other hand, I often enjoy at parties, in the car, etc., yet I found his performance nothing if not strange. He talked/spoken worded/freestyle sung about all sorts of stuff, mostly about loving Columbus (yeah, right), marijuana, and not being a big fan of the President. He got down from the stage and walked through the crowd twice, once singing/freestyling, where he then passed the mic off to some guy he was rapping about who proceeded to reel off an incredible freestlye rif, so good I figured he must be a plant, though it really seemed like it was impromptu; and once while playing the guitar, when he was nice enough to stop about ten feet away from us and play for a while, and then walk right by us and around the floor, not two feet away. His whole set was odd – it featured more riffing and jamming, vocally as well as instrumentally, than actual songs, and he didn’t harness the crowd's energy very well – just when it reached a high point, he got the crowd quiet and brought out a little kid who did some spoken word. Despite the feeling that I was not getting my money’s worth (in expression only – the concert was free), by the end I was feeling a bit euphoric and wanted him to stay on stage. It was like we had become friends, and I just wanted to be there and listen while he jammed. Maybe it was the second hand weed. I don’t know; I just know I’ve been to quite a few concerts and never experienced anything quite like it.
Monday, May 24, 2004
ahh, beautiful san diego. and some science
But not only am I in San Diego, I just had one of the most accomplished weekends of my life: On Friday, I received not one, not two, but two degrees! That's right!! And it was actually sort of fun! Then, Saturday was the trip here, and on Sunday, my team won Second Place in the national finals of the Imagine Cup! What does this mean? It means that I won 1,000 bucks and I am absolved of having to work more on this crappy application. Of course, all the team members are talking as if we should continue working, a sentiment that I initially echoed but am now recanting. Our idea is/was really good- an teaching program that adapts to how well a student is doing, challenges them if they are doing well and backs off if they are doing poorly. Is there any possibility that we could make money off this? I feel like there could be, if I knew at all what the directions we all wanted to take this.
But I am very happy that we won. Let's just say there is no way in hell we should have won; our presentation got cut short and sucked, and then our actual code sucked even more. But who's complaining? Not me.
Anyhow... should I talk about something else? I want to make this blog about science as well, and perhaps this is a little bit old news, but I read that Harvard, I think, is making their stem cells available publicly (and because they were harvested using totally-non-government money, researchers can use them without getting cut off from their funding.) When Bush refused to allow further stem cell harvesting in August 2001, there was a lot of controversy and debate, but it all got drowned out by what happened the next month. Much like every other issue that didn't have 'security' in its title. But stem cell research is really important- it could hold keys to curing a lot of diseases; or it might be another dead end. But that's what research is. Cutting it off before it develops could threaten what makes this country a powerhouse still- its technological advantage. And with biotech becoming the next big thing, it's important that an institution like Harvard shows some balls and helps get the US up to speed with countries like the UK in stem cell research.
Secondly, with Bush's plan to go to Mars and the Moon, it was soundly criticized by everyone and their mother. He has since said absolutely nothing to back up any of his 700 billion dollar plan, so I'm thinking he was just talking out of his ass. But I, for once, agreed with Bush. I mean, just for one, at least he wasn't talking about god damn homeland security and terrorists. People say that we should spend the money on education and health care, and while I agree to some extent, it isn't that hard to spend money on all three. To quote someone I don't remember, to say that we will go to space when we have resolved issues here is to say that we won't go at all. Exploration of space is a big deal to me, and although Mars doesn't have the same cachet as landing on the Moon, there are a lot of benefits to doing it down the road that we might not see now, but that will hopefully become apparent. Someone needs to get the ball rolling on manned spaceflight, and if that someone is Bush, I'll deal with it. See, I try to make two posts about science and they both have to talk about Bush.
So there's my post from San Diego. I think it's time to see some pandas.
The Pen is Mightier: The Da Vinci Code
Well, having read the 600 page book in four days, I can tell you that the book does not compare to cinematic classics "Raiders of the Lost Ark" or "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." Or to the underrated "Temple of Doom." Matter of fact we are clearly in Young Indiana Jones territory here. Like "Last Crusade," "The Da Vinci Code" centers around a search for the holy grail. In fact, Brown seems to be a big fan in the movie, since the similarities in plot go beyond grail quests. The book misses out entirely on the humor and great action sequences that drove the Indiana Jones movies, though not for lack of trying. Brown isn't really a great author, he can leave you hanging with suspense at the end of a chapter, but his dialouge is pretty bland. His characters
inspire no empathy whatsoever, I just didnt give a damn that Robert Langdon, main protagonist, was under pursuit from the French FBI, Scotland Yard, the Vatican, and the Swiss National Bankers Union.
The history of The Da Vinci Code is its strength. Brown knows his Reniassance, Catholic mythology, and Grail lore. In fact if this book had been 50 pages of grail history and cut the 550 pages of schlock, I would have been happy. This book is also called the Da Vinci Code, so Brown put lots of clues and codes into the story, a treasure hunt for the reader. A very crappy treasure hunt; Either I am really smart and need to be hired by the NSA as a master cryptologist, or Brown dumbed down the riddles for his audience. I am thinking option one.
Why is this book so popular then? Its about Jesus, the Grail, and the Catholic Church. And Brown makes some pretty staunch accusations against the Church and The Bible. The Vatican and other fundamentalists will not like what Brown's take on the life of Big Baby Jesus. When the movie comes out, starring lets say...Mel Gibson, it will no doubt be met with picket lines from people who haven't read it.
What would I recommend to you? If you are interested in history or religion, ask someone who's read it what Brown has to say. But dont read the book
Sunday, May 23, 2004
change is in the air
What else is wrong with this team? They are slow. And I don’t mean Edgar, Olerud, and Wilson slow; I mean slow. This from Melvin after last nights game, courtesy of the Seattle Times:
“It’s close to the time to have to do something a little differently. “I don’t know exactly when.” And, even better: “This is the first time I’ve actually thought, ‘Maybe we need to try something differently.’ Maybe I’m an idiot. I don’t know.”So here’s the problem. Either the manager doesn’t know a damn thing about baseball, or the general manager won’t listen to his manager, and doesn’t know a damn thing about baseball. Melvin sounding like he is just noticing the fact that the 14-28 Mariners are bad and maybe sometime in the soon-or-not-so-soon future we might try something different and maybe just maybe he’s an idiot is not an encouraging sound bite. The more discouraging possibility, however, is that Melvin is trying to not attack his boss too much, but also is getting it out in the papers that he thinks its time for some roster moves. If Melvin has been suggesting and asking for some players from Tacoma, and Bavasi has been saying something along the lines of, “No, I don’t think we need that just yet - they are young and energetic and will disrupt our professional clubhouse,” we are in a lot more trouble than we think. Either reason for this type of refusal is discouraging – either he doesn’t want to admit Aurilia, Ibanez, Myers, Villone, McCracken, and Spiezio were bad acquisitions and is hoping they’ll improve a bit to cover his ass, or he thinks they were good acquisitions and are simply slumping. Sure, some are slumping to a degree, but even if performing to reasonable (non-Bavasi) expectations, we would still not be a contender. The bigger problem is that a GM who either can’t or won’t recognize and admit his mistakes will be a burden for years to come. Hiring Squiggy doesn't help.
(Since I wrote this, the Mariners rode another strong outing by the Chief to a 3-1 victory over the Tigers, avoiding a shameful sweep. Even better, Guardado was used in the 8th! See, Melvin said he would do it! The next test will be a 9th inning tie, and then maybe we can move up to a tie in the 8th. Or maybe that will have to wait until next year. Baby steps, Bob, baby steps.)
What They Think of U.S.- Anti-American rhetoric in the classroom
The course I am taking this semester is called "International Security," which deals with security issues from 1990 into the future. Pretty relevant topic to the world today. So what are people saying about Security issues, the War in Iraq, and the U.S. in general?
There is a general consensus against the actions of the United States' actions in Iraq, specifically based around the U.S. not finding the WMD and, to a much lesser extent, the actions in Abu Gharib prison. The WMD issue rings louder because it undermines the legitimacy of the war, especially because Australia sent troops to assist the U.S.-led coaltion using WMD as its primary justification.
I of course, sit in the back of the classroom, and don't participate in conversation as often as I should. Anti-U.S. comments usually start flying pretty quickly. Most of the comments made I agree with; that the current administration misled the public about the need to remove Sadaam, and that shutting out the United Nations, was a critical error that could have long-term rammifications for the structure of International Relations (why? I'll tell you later.)
What pisses me off, is that Australians use the word "America" and "American," where I would use "Bush" and "The Bush Administration." Part of this is no doubt to Australian ignorance about the intricacies of American Politics, and a failure to understand that Americans are not gun-toting cowboys following their yee-haw President into whatever war he authorizes. Right?
Therin lies the rub. I know the extent of the liberal-conservatism schism within the United States, and the huge envelope nature of the Democratic and Republican parties. But the rest of the world doesn't care about liberal opposition, or the fact that Gore got more votes than Bush. I am American, and thus I have to answer to the actions of my President and Government, regardless of whether I agree with them or not. And I am still an American, when pressed I feel the need to defend the country I come from, even if I disagree with some of its actions. I love America. I just hate the President.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Golf? Baseball? How bout some Cricket?
KG stepped up like I told him to. He must of read my ramblings before the game. Yo KG don't feel afraid to leave a comment next time you're around. My predcition of Minnesota covering was wrong but of course, I don't care since I didn't make it down to the TAB down the street to throw a bet on them. I did throw some money down on New Jersey +5.5. We'll see how that goes
Sports and Gambling are big in Australia. Unfortunately the sports they follow are not MLB, NBA, or NFL, meaning I've had to rely on the Internet, MLB audio, and 24 hour sports bars where I can watch the occasional NBA playoff game at 10 AM. For being 14000 miles and 10 time zones away from home, I can stay remarkably plugged in.
But it aint good enough. No live sports events, and no primetime sports games or Sportscenter. So I've turned to Australian Sports to try and fill the void. Australian Sports are based around following any Australian who does well at any sport at all, such as the 20K walk or short-track cycling. This is the most annoying aspect of Austalian sports highlight shows, that I get to see 5 minute features on a Modern Penthelete hoping to qualify for Athens 2004 and not one highlight of the NBA playoffs (my favorite sporting event.) Australians are traditionally good at some more mainstream Olympic sports, such as swimming and tennis. Australian tv also does a much better job of following European League Soccer and International Soccer in general, which is fantastic. Soccer has quickly become my fourth favorite sport and the EPL my 4th favorite league (and could soon pass MLB.) I am pumped for Euro 2004, which everyone should watch. Australia also has their own basketball and soccer league, both of which I refuse to watch since they just remind me I could be watching games of better quality.
Bases Loaded against the D rays, and we cant score. Anyways, the three big sports of Australia are Cricket, Rugby, and Footy, a.k. AFL, a.k.a Australian Rules Football. Cricket, in case you didn't know is, slower baseball: the teams break for tea and lunch, test matches take 5 days to complete, and batters can bat for hours at a time. Still it would be fun to go to one of these games with a grill and about 30 beers, and I plan to do so. Australia has the best cricket team in the world: they won the Cricket World Cup in 2003. I secrectly root for Team West Indies however, since they are closer to home, and I got introduced to cricket by a family friend in Trinidad fice years ago.
Australia also probably has the best Rugby team in the world. Unfortunately, Australians can't tell me they do because they lost to England in the final of the World Cup in overtime. One of my favorite pastimes is to ask Aussies who the best rugby team in the world is. The pained expressions on their face as they mutter the phrase "the bloody Poms," are pricless. If they were smart, theyd ask me who won the American League last year.
There are two major forms of Rugby in Australia; Rugby League and Rugby Union. The rules are different, and Union involves teams from South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. League is the true Australia product, and is based in Sydney, which has 8 teams from the city and suburbs in the league. Rugby is interesting to watch, but not really fun. There is occasional violence, but the play stops too much, and is based even more on field position then the NFL. A team can easily drive down to within ten meteres, and then run play after play in an attempt to get in for a "try", without being successful. To put it in perspective, it would be like if an NFL team had the ball on the one, but then kept running plays where the QB pitched it out wide to a running back on a sweep, except the back starts on the ten yard line and has no lead blockers. As you might think, it doesnt work too often. Rugby will occasionally give the exciting play, and I'll watch it to get a sports fix, but it isn't a game the U.S. needs.
AFL on the other hand, is awesome. Unfortunately, where as Rugby's mecca is Sydney, Footy is based in Melbourne, which hosts about 8 of the 14 teams in the AFL. In fact there were no teams outside Victoria (the small state in the southeast part of the country) until the 1980s. Sydney now has one team, the Swans, and the sport has also expanded to Brisbane and the West Coast.
I went to an AFL game in Melbourne in the Telstra Dome, one of the new stadia built to house footy. It was a state of the art retractable dome, and I saw a game between Essendon and Western Bulldogs, two Melbourne suburbs. For a live sporting event, I give the AFL props. The fans were into it, especially a 50 year old mother in front of me who was swearing at the ref the whole time. The food services werent the greatest compared to new U.S. stadiums, but they did the job. For a plus, however, the stadium had a sports tab inside, meaning you can bet on the game (or anything) from the stadium. Fantastic
Footy itself is chaos on the field. Its basically Soccer but you can use your hands. You can run with the ball, but you have to bounce it every 5 steps or so. You can pass it to someone, but you have to underhand punch the ball, rather than pass or lateral. You can kick the footy to someone, the main method of passing, and if you catch it on the fly, you get a mark, meaning you can't be tackled until you pass the point where you caught it, so if you are close enough to the goal, you can step back and attempt to kick it through the goals. There are two sets of poles; kicking it through the interior ones is a goal, worth 6 points, the outer ones a behind, worth 1 point.
The fields are huge, like two or three football fields. This leads to: a huge amount of players on the field and, coaches and water boys running on the field during the action to shout instructions to players and provide refreshments. Also, when a ball goes out of bounds, the linesmen takes the footy, faces the crowd, and throws the ball over his head as high as possible. Its hilarious. The game is up and down with the action of basketball, and has similar scores to basketball as well, I think the game I went to was 105-88 or something like that. Its a game of momentum; teams routinely score three of four straight goals, or dominate a quarter. There is also a fair amount of violence, as loose balls lead to guys pummeling each other, and you are allowed to use an opponent as a boost to jump and catch the ball. There were two or three solid "Holy Shit," replay worthy hits at the game I was at, about the same level as NFL. Check out a game if you can, they show them in the States on Fox Sports World.
So that's my dissertation on Australia Sports. They'll be more for sure; There the big State of Origin series in Rugby League this week. And the best part about this article? Its now 7-6 D Rays. Got to love playing Tampa Bay
I think my mommy's gone crazy
Apple? You know how much trouble that’s going to get me into in school? You know how many nicknames are at the ready - Braeburn, Gala, Pink Lady, etc. - and that’s just from the unoriginal kids. Think anyone will try to make a bong out of me?
This is just not something that should be done to an innocent. Apple? What kind of name is that? Especially when there are so many good names in the fruit family. Peach, Banana, Kiwi. Pear – like Peach, perfect for the sweet sound of alliteration once I take that crazy ho’s more famous surname. But Apple? My mommy must be on crack. Hey, maybe that’s why I only weigh 3 pounds. I mean, I’m too young to be bulimic, right?
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
I am going to maim everyone at SCA net
unless of course, my internet crashes again after making a 15 minute intelligent post. But I will plot revenge on them, with the help of you my loyal readers of course.
I would really like to rewrite what I posted before but I just cant fathom doing it. Too bad, it was really witty and serious and funny.
What the fuck I'll give it a go
First of off I wrote that my professor is John Howard's brother. Who is John Howard you ask? Why only the Prime Minister of Australia! I think thats pretty cool and Im sure you do to.
Then I gave you some interesting stories from the international news.
The first was about the prime minister of Taiwan, who got shot two days before elections. He was traling in the polls, but rebounded to a slight victory. Opposition demand a recount however, on charges that the PM had ordered his own assasination attempt in order to gain sympathy votes. Thats gangsta
Then I told you about Zimbabwe, and how the government was not only seizing white famers land, but had also booted all the white players off the national cricket team. That is also gangsta
Then I gave Stu and Dave props for their gangsta dissertations on religion, and added my own two cents concerning the gay marriage debate in Massachusetts. Did you know that Mitt Romney is Republican, yet governor of Massachusetts? Did you know that the last four governors of Massachusetts have been servants of the Big Elephant. Does this mean we need to bring back Du-KAK-Kis?
Mitt Romney is also a Mormon, meaning he is stupid. One of the stupider things he has done, which may or may not have had to do with being Mormon, is reinstitute a law from 1914 that keeps Massachusetts from giving out marriage liscences to out of state couples whose marriages would not be recognized in their home state. This law was enacted to keep black and white couples from marrying in Mass when interracial marriages were banned in some states back in 1914. Its a disgrace that Mitt has to bring back old Jim Crow laws to stall progress and appease his higher-ups in the Republican party. Have some balls and make a stand for freedom and civil rights, that's what America is best at.
And to those religious institutions that are in uproar over this, if your close-minded institutions want to discriminate against homosexuals, keep it in house. Seperation of Church and State implies that your outdated morals hold no ground with regard to matters of the government. And if states are going to liscence marrigages, and society is going to provide tax and insurance benefits to married couples, homosexuals deserve to get the same protections and benefits, in legislation, and in name. Kudos to Margeret Mitchell and the Massachusetts Supreme Court.
and it was good
An article at Slate Magazine by Steven Waldman discusses the similarities, despite religious uproar over the Rowling series, between Harry Potter and Left Behind, the Christian series by Tim LeHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. To be clear, I’ve not read the Left Behind series, but what I gather is that the good Christians have been whisked up to heaven, leaving us heathens to fight our way through the menacing Antichrist to seek our eternal reward.
Now, this menacing Antichrist happens to be the Secretary General of the United Nations, so he’s got some tangible human political power to wield here. Seems like this isn’t going to be an easy fight, especially when you consider his wicked plan to bring ruination to all the earth:
He promotes a hit parade of classic liberal causes, including family planning, abortion, global disarmament, amniocentesis, Third World development, assisted suicide, and higher taxes. Yes, the Antichrist is a tax-and-spend liberal. "We will further finance our plans to inject social services into underprivileged countries and make the world playing field equal for everyone," Carpathia [GenSec/Antichrist] declares. (thank you, Mr. Waldman)
Whooaaaaa. Wait a minute. Hold up there, Poncho. You’re saying those of us left behind must suffer through global aid and social improvements across the globe? We have to sit idly by and watch as our riches get used to improve the lives of others?!? Them be fightin’ words, Mr. Antichrist. No wonder the heathens raise arms and spill blood in opposition.
This is where I am completely lost. I’ve taken courses in Israeli, British, and American institutions on religion and the origins of Judeo-Christianity. I’ve read parts of the Bible. I’ve seen some veggie-tales. Aren’t the foundations of Christianity to treat others with love and compassion, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Love thy neighbor? Offer the other cheek? But in this best-selling series (more than 60 million sold) the message of the Antichrist is not one of evil, of slaughtering the innocent and raping the young. The evil message that must be dispatched is of foreign aid - loving thy global neighbor. And this is the sentiment that has Christians flocking to bookstores to see what happens next in this struggle against evil. Why do conservatives think third-world development and global disarmament are evils? And why are these people allowed to vote?
If people have faith, and that faith helps them live a good and loving life, then good on them, I say. Even if people of faith congregate and call themselves, say, a religion, bravo, I say. The problem is that a group of people of the same faith becomes a powerful weapon, and there always have been people able to exploit the vulnerability of such groups, twisting the foundations of love into tenets of exclusivity and hate. And people still think their religion is one of love and friendship and aid, when mainstream Christian writings like Left Behind expose the true nature of modern conservative Christianity.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Another day... another left-wing anti-religious post
I'll admit I haven't been as well versed in Christian literature as I could/should be. But how did Jesus dying save the world from ourselves? First of all, this guy is basically an extension of God, supposedly. What difference does it make for God to 'give up his only son' if he's God? If God wanted us to be free from sin, couldn't he have just said 'ok, you're free from sin'? No, of course, he has to create a human form of himself and then kill it to prove that he loves us. Yeah, that sounds pretty rational to me.
Secondly, if I were the son of God, I think I'd feel pretty good about dying. Well gee, I'm the most powerful person to ever walk the earth, and after these nails get spiked into my wrist, I get to go to fucking PARADISE FOR ETERNITY. Damn... Jesus suffered for 12 HOURS! WOW! Apparently David Blaine is the second coming then, right?
And now, Christians all over the world think that all they have to do to get into heaven is to have faith in Jesus, and to recognize that he died for our sins. You could murder babies all your life, and as long as your repent and have faith in the fact that Jesus died for you to kill those babies, it's heaven for you. What is this? Does this make any sense?
Is it that God has some kind of inferiority complex that he needs people to believe in Him? Did the other Gods give him wedgies in middle school? And if you really want people to believe in you, how's this for advice: Try getting off your ass more than once every 2,000 years.
And if it sounds like I'm making fun of anyone who believes in these things, then you're only partially right. I know, most Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, are rational people. I mean, I believe in UFOs and aliens, and those are just as substantiated as the Bible. So I don't fault anyone for believing in these things. I just want to point out how ridiculous they are. Just like people point out that believing in UFOs and aliens is ridiculous. And I can accept that. So please don't murder me. After all, it's in those stone tablets that God burned out of the mountains, right?
Hating a Loser
(so yeah, maybe I hate him)
Edit: After these last two posts, I think we've lost our Born-Again readership.
And now... eternity
But politics. Let's talk politics. Man, I hate Bush. You'll probably get more than enough of that from David, so I'll ease up a little bit, and just say that I really, really hope that he doesn't get re-elected. Does that mean I'm going to vote? We'll see.
Also, religion. I would just like to give a little endorsement to Buddhism. Obviously my favorite part of Buddhism is that you can be an atheist as well, but it also helps that Buddhists are supposedly the happiest people on earth. Why would you not want to be part of that kind of religion?
Lastly, does anyone want to hire a recently-graduated M.S. computer science major, for a software development/consulting job? Because if so, I'm your man!
DJ Shadow is really sweet, by the way.
Loving a Loser
I and many M’s fans called ourselves such in the 80’s and early 90’s when there were roughly 6500 fans at any given game and 65 wins in any given season. I loved those teams. Couldn’t get enough. But somehow, over the last 8 seasons, I’ve forgotten how to love a loser. Chris, over at At Least the Red Sox Have 1918, reminded me. Pick a player. Root for him. Revel in his successes, offer thoughts of encouragement during his tough times, observe moments of silence for demotions. This, my friends, is the season of J.J. Putz, Rafael Soriano, and any other young pitcher the Mariners wisely promote. And Freddy Garcia. Tough not to like the chief. Another thing to root for is the continued failure of any untradeable Bill Bavasi acquisition – Ibanez, Spiezio, Aurilia, Villone, Myers, McCraken – to expedite the departure of Mr. Bavasi from the Mariners organization.
Of course, I loved those old Mariners teams as a whole, rather than simply rooting for specific players. It may be that Bavasi and co.’s total fumbling of the offseason, coupled with my agreement with those who told them so, makes it harder to support this team. A team built out of stupidity, while smart people were pointing out the stupidity and washed up players were taking advantage of it, is tough to call your team. Or it could be just that I have grown accustomed to winning. I need a gateway to fully supporting a crap team, and picking a few horses may just be the answer.
Edit: Ichiro. How could I forget Ichiro? Sure, he may not be worth 11 million, his skills may be declining, and pitchers may have figured him out, but is there a more exciting player to watch in baseball? It's more fun watching him get ready in the on deck circle than it is to watch most anyone else on the roster do anything. Unless they started breakdancing. That would be pretty entertaining. Like, say, instead of throwing the ball around the horn after an out, the the infielders quickly toss it back to the pither and drop and do a couple moves. My eyes would be on Olerud - just think what he could do with that helmet!
Enter the world of Marmania
What will this blog contain? Well it could be anything to tell you the truth, thats the beauty of a blog isnt it? I will be giving you my thoughts on politics, the war, and that stuff. I'll be giving you my insights on the beautiful island of Australia, where I am spending the next 18 months. I'll be giving you insights on stuff like Australian TV, and the big summer movies. But to start, I want to give brief summaries over summer (or in ym case this year, winter) traditions which I find myeslf in the middle of: the plight of the Boston Red Sox, and the NBA playoffs.
I'll keep it short with the Sox. Its still May, and I can summarize this in about three sentences. 1) We need Trot and Nomar back to play instead of Cesar Crespo. 2) Going into what is supposed to be your most important season and best chance for a World Series in 80 years with half of your ten best players unsigned for next year, and then lowballing them in negotiations so they air their greivences in the press wasnt the savviest PR move. 3) And finally, with the talent on this team, if we can remain healthy for the rest of the year (something we have yet to be able to do.) there is no way we should miss the playoffs.
Oh and one more: if you dont make it to the World Series specifically because of a bonehead manager the year before and fire him, hiring another bonehead to manage doesnt fix the problem.
So lets talk playoffs. I havent been able to see many of the games because: they are at ten in the morning, I dont have cable and thus have to go to a sports bar to watch them and drink 10 AM beers or eat their terrible food to patronize the 24 hour bars I frequent, and they only show like 4 games a week anyways. But I've seen some games, and followed the playoffs pretty closely online. So what do I think?
Well as usual, the Fun Teams From the Regular Season who I would actually like to see do well, (Mavs, Grizz, Nuggets,) all got embarressed early. My Celtics got swept, succeeding in their attempt to be as bad as possible without making the lottery, which made me happy since it made Danny Ainge sad. Evidently Miami was a fun team as well, and they are still around, but I missed the part of the year they played well and came into their own, and thus still think of them from their Pat Riley days.
The Second Round has left us with the predictable, evil Spurs, Lakers, Nets, and Pistons contending for the title, as well as younger, less evil teams like the T-Wolves, Kings, Heat, and Pacers. In a strange twist, we had two all evil conference semi-finals, and two non-evil semi-finals.
Pacers-Heat is a series I havent been able to see, but probably would have liked to watch. Both teams are very young and cant seem to figure out how to play competively on the road against competent team. So it looks like the Pacers should hold. New Jersey vs. Detroit I would have refused to watch even if I was in the States. Hopefully the Pistons will sack up and hold them off at home.
Which leaves us with the more interesting series: Spurs-Lakers and T Wolves-Kings. The Spurs lost this series in the third quarter of game 4. They were up ten at half, and had played a great first half in game 4 in LA. They had 51 points, and were getting contributions from everyone, especially Parker and Manu taking it to the hoop. In the third, they got away from that. Duncan, as he is prone to do, started looking like he was going to cry, which caused the rest of the team to become concerned with his emotional well being, distracting them from taking it the hole with the same vigor. There was also some terrible refereeing. There was also alot of Rasho Nestorvic throwing up 20-footers. By the time Kobe took over in the fourth, the Lakers were up 6 anyways.
Which goes to show, that Kobe is a front-running ho who deserves to get convicted, and is the most overrated player in the game today. Wait a minute, thats not what I meant to say. What that game actually goes to show, as did Game 5, is that these teams are very close in terms of overall skill level. A miss or make at the end of game 5, in both these playoffs and last, determined the winner. The Spurs SHOULD be better, if just for their youth. But they, like every team in the NBA nowadays, cant keep up their offensive execution for four quarters.
Now the most popular thing to do today in sportswriting, and I mean today as in this 24 hour period, since it will certainly change by this time tomorrow, is to bash KG for not retaliating against Anthony Peeler's elbow. Supposedly, he took two steps back, rather than hitting him back. See this is exactly the kind of hypocritical crap that pisses me off. They wanted him to fight back because he did nothing. But if he had punched Peeler in the face and been suspended for game 7, the same sportswriters would have been all over his ass for costing his team the championship. Typical bullshit.
So this goes out to KG. Dont worry about people questioning your manhood. Most basketball players are giant wusses anyways. I know this. What you need to do is go drop 35 on injured, old, C-Webb. Especially since I am going to go throw money down on you. So there's a first Marmaniac prediction:
Wolves over Kings (and to cover)
Pistons over Nets
Pacers over Heat (in 7)
So that gets you up-to-date. For those of you who dont care about sports, dont worry, I will be delving outside the realm of athletic competition quite often. I'll try to keep the blog on current events in general, but I am sure I will find the need to give you stoned ramblings on why rap music has fallen off since 1998. Until then, enjoy this primary offerring.