Monday, December 21, 2009

My Top 5 Most Memorable Golf Rounds: #4: "The Round of My Life”, August 23, 2001

No one shot stands out in my mind. There was no stunningly long drive. No dart that I threw to within inches of the cup. No long, curling putt that I made for birdie. In fact, I’m pretty certain I didn’t even make a birdie all day. And I don’t even remember what I shot, I really don’t.

What I do remember are the walks between the holes and to my shots. Which isn’t too hard to understand given that Kayak Point is a beautiful and hilly layout, surrounded by large loge pole pines, dense Douglas firs and aspens—and where eagles can be seen perched in the tree and deer and foxes routinely dart across the fairways. It’s quiet, too, with only tee shots echoing off the canyon of trees. Each hole meanders up and down—sometimes sharply up or sharply down. Heck, going up the 18th you need to be part mountain goat just to reach your tee shot. And the 10th would be an intermediate run at most ski resorts. (Shown below: the beautiful and tricky par 5, 3rd.)

Between those holes are tranquil paths, draped over by the trees with deep green underbrush and berry vines. The paths are quite long and eerily quiet and, at times, rather steep between holes. They’re the kind of paths where you can hear yourself breathe and hear your heartbeat, it’s just that quiet. So that’s what I did. I filled my lungs as deep as I could, and listened to my heart thumping away as I made my way between holes. And there were moments when I thought it was pumping too fast or I was breathing too hard.

Yet I refused to ride a cart. I refused to use a pull cart too. I was going to carry my bag no matter what. I always liked carrying my bag anyway. I think it warms up my body during the first couple of holes. Today, during this round, I wanted to carry my bag more than anything. I wanted to feel every hard heart beat as I trudged up a fairway to my ball. I wanted to take, long, deep breaths after feeling little winded. I needed to know it was okay to feel that way again. That nothing was going to happen. I needed not to worry. I needed not to fear that I was having another heart attack the way I had exactly a day to the year before.

This was my first round since the heart attack. And while I had gone skiing with friends just a few months after my “event” and was none the worse for the wear, I had not been alone on the golf course. I’ve enjoyed many wonderful and memorable rounds through the years with just me as player, caddie, gallery and rules official so I had to reaffirm that I could play alone again without fear.

My dad died doing the sport he loved, skiing. I have no such intentions of dying on a golf course. So, in a way, this round was death defying. Besides, dying on a golf course due to a heart attack is such a cliché, and I’m not one for clichés.

2009 was the first year that I haven’t taken off August 23rd to play golf, and I regret that more than a little bit. It makes me think I’m losing a sense of appreciation and gratefulness for life, and even to God—after all, He’s the one that let me keep my lease. Some might find it a bit dark or maudlin that I mark or remember the day at all. I believe they’re wrong. I don’t view the day somberly. Nothing could be more positive, more hopeful and more affirming than walking a golf course under that umbrella.

In 2010, August 23rd falls on a Monday and marks 10 years since my event. I think I’ll make it a 3-day weekend. I don’t think you need to ask where I’ll be playing. And while I always love golfing with friends, I’ll be playing this round solo, too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mr. President, Meet Merriam-Webster


1 : a very steep or overhanging place
2 : a hazardous situation; broadly :

So when President Obama says that we're "on the precipice" of enacting health care legislation he means...well, exactly that.

Finally, the truth—however accidental it may be.

While We're in the Joking Mood....

So Vladimer Putin, Queen Elizabeth and George W. Bush have all just arrived in Hell. The Devil tells them that they may have one phone call at their expense to their respective countries.

Putin goes first and speaks to his fellow Russians for 5 minutes. Putin comes back to The Devil who says, "That'll be $1,000,000." And Putin hands over the $1,000,000.

Next Queen Elizabeth calls England and speaks to her country for 5 minutes. The Queen comes back to The Devil who says, "That'll be $6,000,000." And the Queen hands over the $6,000,000.

Finally, George Bush calls the USA and speaks to his country for 4 hours. Bush comes to The Devil who says, "You don't owe me anything."

A furious Putin stomps over to The Devil and demands to know why Bush doesn't have to pay anything. "Well," replies The Devil, "seeing how America's gone to Hell since Obama took over, it's a local call so it's free."

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm a "Whole Foods Republican?"

There's an excellent article in today's Wall Street Journal on who the GOP should be courting. The author suggests that "a more enlightened approach would be to go after college-educated voters, to make the GOP safe for smarties again."

Now I'm not much for being pigeon-holed into a group, but in this instance Mr. Petrilli does an excellent (if obviously incomplete) job of describing of where I stand politically and culturally:

What's needed is a full-fledged effort to cultivate "Whole Foods Republicans"—independent-minded voters who embrace a progressive lifestyle but not progressive politics. These highly-educated individuals appreciate diversity and would never tell racist or homophobic jokes; they like living in walkable urban environments; they believe in environmental stewardship, community service and a spirit of inclusion. And yes, many shop at Whole Foods, which has become a symbol of progressive affluence but is also a good example of the free enterprise system at work. (Not to mention that its founder is a well-known libertarian who took to these pages to excoriate ObamaCare as inimical to market principles.)

What makes these voters potential Republicans is that, lifestyle choices aside, they view big government with great suspicion. There's no law that someone who enjoys organic food, rides his bike to work, or wants a diverse school for his kids must also believe that the federal government should take over the health-care system or waste money on thousands of social programs with no evidence of effectiveness. Nor do highly educated people have to agree that a strong national defense is harmful to the cause of peace and international cooperation.

He goes on to suggest that the GOP reject the anti-intellectualism of Sarah Palin and W. (I think he's a bit off on Bush. GWB was a voracious reader as evidenced by the annual reading contest between he and Karl Rove. In my opinion, W was intellectually proficient, but was terribly inarticulate when it came to stating his positions verbally to an audience.) While Palin is attractive, well meaning and principled and steadfast in her views, I just can't help but look at her and think "Why aren't you smarter?"

I blame Ronald Reagen for this. He purposefully built his "golly shucks" image for political and brand purposes, yet he was an articulate and intellectual powerhouse that defined the conservative movement as much as William F. Buckley. Since then, Republicans have tried fashion themselves in this Reagan image with lackluster results—of which Palin and Bush are prime examples. That dog doesn't hunt these days, partner.

I'm going to cut myself off at Tangent Pass here and end by saying that Mr. Petrilli is dead on with this article. The GOP has to reach out to people like myself, my wife and assorted others who are in hiding. We are smart and we don't like anti-intellectual people representing the party most in line with our ideals.

So I guess that makes me a "Whole Foods Republican." I'm good with this. Maybe even a little proud.

Now, if you're listening, Michael Steele*, give me more Bobby Jindals or Tim Pawlentys or Mitt Romneys. You can keep your Sarah Palins.

*Since I only have 3.5 readers, probably not.

My Top 5 Most Memorable Golf Rounds: #5: “One Round, Two Shots”, August 1981

In the summer of 1981 our family hosted an exchange student from Italy. His thin body, fair skin, innocent face and painfully shy demeanor belied his Sicilian Mafia-like name of Alessandro Sassi. He was 17 and would be staying with us for a month before going back east to stay with another family.

Alessandro came to America to study English and to visit some of California’s and America’s most memorable landmarks: The Golden Gate Bridge, Yosemite, Lombard Street, The Lincoln Memorial, The White House and so on. Oh, and he came to buy golf clubs.

In fact, it was one of the first things he wanted to do when he arrived: buy golf clubs. In fact, he couldn’t shut up about it. In fact, he was so worried about spending what he had saved to buy a set that he gave all of it to my parents for safekeeping. The kid loved golf. And he wanted to play in America.

Me, I gave two hoots about golf. I had never picked up a club much less swung one. I liked the putt-putt course at the Montclair Driving Range (I never did get it in the clown’s mouth to win a free round), but that was about it. Golf? Meh. Wake me when ski season starts. Skiing was my true love.

With Alessandro chomping at the bit to get his clubs, my Dad took him into downtown San Francisco to let him buy his clubs. I tagged along. Despite knowing exactly what clubs he wanted, Alessandro was still hesitant to blow such a load. He also thought he had enough money to buy the clubs. Yet those pesky exchange rates and devalued lira got in his way and he had to settle for something less than what he wanted. Overall, though, he was smitten with his purchase.

Armed with his shiny new sticks, Alessandro wanted to play. And play right now. No, more like yesterday. So Dad booked a tee time at Tilden Park Golf Course.

Now my dad was a good golfer. That is, when he played. That is, if he played more than once a year. This wasn’t always the case according to my mom. He used to play, and play quite well before his best golf buddy moved away. Despite his infrequent play, dad always thought he could hit the course cold and shoot lights out. No hitting the range, except for the day of the round and he expected to burn it up. Never happened, she said, and he would come home all pissed off. No surprise there. When you have unrealistic expectations about an outcome or goal, and you don’t meet them, you’re bound to come home a little pissed off. Unjustified as it may be.

And Dad said I would get the honor of being his caddy. Oh joy. So I joined them for the round.

I remember Alessandro’s swing and it was, well, bad. But he was having fun. So was my dad who seemed to be hitting the ball well in my never-played-a-single-shot opinion. The round seemed to take forever, always waiting for someone to tee off or clear the fairway or clear the green before anything happened. But being that it was a warm, beautiful August day in the hills above Berkeley, I didn’t mind kicking back and sitting in the grass in between shots.

On the back nine with Alessandro happily doffing it around, my dad’s round came unraveled. Suddenly, he couldn’t hit a ball. The curse words were flying. He sucked and puffed on his filter less Sherman’s madly. On the 18th, he tugged his drive left. The ball hit a tree and ricocheted back about 30 yards. Dad seethed.

On his second shot, he worm raped the ball and it went skirting and scooting down the fairway maybe 75 yards. That shot was quickly followed by the whoop-whoop sound of dad’s 3-wood making its way after the ball. (Titanium just doesn’t have that great whoop-whoop sound that wood does.)

Dad snatched his pack of Sherman’s from the bag and said, “I’m fucking done. See you two in the snack shack. Go ahead and play my ball Peter.” Alessandro waited for my dad to get down the fairway before he hit.

Things were, uh, uncomfortable.

We didn’t talk until we got to my dad’s ball. I looked down at the ball, then to Alessandro with a “now what?’ face. Alessandro said to me, “You have 110 yards. Try 7 iron.” This meant squat to someone who’d never swung a golf club before. I didn’t even know how to grip it. So I figured that a baseball grip would do just fine.

I doubt my eyes were even open at impact. But they were open when I looked up. And yes, I was looking up at my ball. Way up. Not only was the ball in the air, but it was going straight. And man, that ball was a pretty sight to see flying into the backdrop of the trees. Cue the Vangelis “Chariots of Fire” music.

Thump! On the green. 12-15 feet away. Alessandro turned to me and said, “Wow! Nice shot!”

You did read the part about how I liked putt-putt golf, right? Then it should be no surprise then that I made the putt. Yup, drained the sucker.

Alessandro laughed. I laughed. What was so hard about this game?

Oh, and in case you’re not paying attention that was a par.

We walked off the green and up to the snack shop. My dad stood there and smiled, a shock considering his mood minutes earlier. I don’t recall what his exact words were to me because I was pretty beside myself with my accomplishment, but they were something along the lines that being a golfer ran in the family.

So it was half a hole and two shots, Dad was right: I was genetically hooked.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Prelude: My Top 5 Most Memorable Rounds of Golf

I’m always leery about doing lists—especially “My Top (Blank) Lists” for a couple reasons.

I find them a bit ominous. You’re looking back on your life and you shudder to think how long ago that certain event or whatever it was took place and that it was far too long ago. Then there’s the notion that the list you’ve compiled is pretty much it and can’t be cracked. That’s depressing. And finally, there was my dad's list. He had guesstimated the number of days he had been skiing in his life and recounted a couple of favorites as we drove to the ski resort. That day would be the last day of his life. A pretty sad thing to recall, I realize, but our minds remember strange small details that are beyond our understanding.

Nerts to all those ominous harbingers, though. Next year marks my 30th year of playing golf and I think that’s something to celebrate! (I think my dad was looking back on all those skiing in the same way.) And I have no intention of shuffling off this mortal coil doing playing a sport I love. Besides, most courses have defibrillators these days. (Relax, I kid.)

The rounds I remembered were diverse, to say the least.

There have been rounds where I’ve flung clubs down the fairway. (I even got my pitching wedge caught in a tree a couple of years ago.) There was the round where I snapped my 5-iron in two over my knee and flung into the bushes. There were several rounds where I walked off the course during the middle of the round in utter frustration. There was a round I played in a steady 45MPH wind; a round played in a steady, wet snowfall; and a round played in the remnants of a hurricane. There was the round where I was hit the temple of my head by an errant drive. And there was the round where I had my first case of the shanks. I remember all these rounds well. But those are only snippets from rounds.

Without sounding too much like Forrest Gump, I also don’t remember a lot of key rounds. I don’t remember the first time I broke 100, or the first time I broke or 90 or even 80. I played Spyglass Hill once, but I don’t remember any one after the 6th. I don’t remember the first round with my dad, or with my long-time golfing buddy Darren. I don’t even remember my first lesson.

What I do remember are these top 5 rounds.

Each one is unique and I think captures what has made golf so enjoyable and fulfilling to me for 30 years, and why I keep coming back to it no matter how frustrating. I remember each of these rounds in great detail—okay, as much detail as possible in #3 (you’ll see why)—and I did my best to capture them without the fog of memory creeping in and taking over. And for the record:every shot recounted happened, and every score is true. No need to lie, or write down a different score, I'd only be cheating my own memory. And heck, only two of my favorite rounds include the score anyway.

I hope you enjoy them. But probably not half as much I enjoyed recalling them.

#5 will post this Friday.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Anti-War Left is So Not Going to Be Happy About Tonight

I have zero time to address tonight's important address to the nation on Afghanistan, so I'll let today's comments in the NYT "The Caucus" section speak for their themselves.

But Rich Lowery over National Review pointed out Obama's quandary best:

Prepare for the advent of Barack Obama, neocon. On the Afghan War, he is throwing in with the lying, warmongering running dogs of neoconservatism by ordering a surge of some 30,000 troops....The responsibilities of office separate him from a political base that only sounded stalwart on the Afghan War so long as it was a handy political tool with which to beat George W. Bush about the head and shoulders.

As soon as Obama assumed office, liberals bailed from the war with an almost comical desperation. They professed to have just discovered that Hamid Karzai is corrupt. That al-Qaeda is mostly across the border in Pakistan. That waging a war of counterinsurgency in one of the poorest, most illiterate countries in the world is a trying and complex endeavor.

Consequently, he finds himself in rough alignment with all the same hated people who conceived, executed, and supported the Iraq surge, and against the people who opposed it — and elected him.

And finally:

If Obama weren’t burdened by his office, he might stand with his party’s newly minted Afghan doves and familiar purveyors of defeat. But he can’t. That makes him a conflicted commander-in-chief, ordering the surge, but loading it with conditions and “off ramps,” talking of resolve, but leaving room to maneuver. His head says “win,” his heart says “don’t commit.”

I hope this surge is as successful as the one in Iraq. We all should.

(Unfortunately, experts and analysts aren't seeing an "awakening" (ex: local militia that fought back against Al Qaedists in the Anbar providence of Iraq in 2006/7; a movement that eventually swept across Iraq and is known as the "Anbar Awakening") in Afghanistan. And the Anbar Awakening was a huge key to success in Iraq.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Wrong With This Picture?

Thanks to my golf teacher, Wilson, I've learned a tremendous amount about the golf swing. One of the things he's taught me to do is to look at other players swings and see if I can recognize their faults. This little exercise reminds of my own faults and to correct them if necessary.

Here's what I see here:

The stance is too narrow and his feet are closed to the target line. It's OK to close the feet to the target line if you're trying to hit a draw. (Reminder to me: Go through your setup before each shot.)

He's making a false move for more power by "reaching back" for it with his hands, which is causing his left arm to "break down"/fold. His shoulder turn look good, though. He's just getting too "handsy." (Reminder to me: Make a good, full shoulder turn.)

His hands are way too close to his head. They're practically in his ear. This is putting the club almost on top of his head and way off plane. (Reminder to me: Let the wrists break naturally, and "feel" my stopping point on the back swing.)

Club face is closed and looking down at the ground; his hands should like he's holding a platter, which will open the club face, put it on plane and make it easier to bring it back to square at impact. (Reminder to me: You don't do this now, so don't start.)

Left knee is pointing down and toward ball, causing his weight to shift and tilt left while his right side. Right knee is too straight and should have knee bend or flex. (Reminder to me: Flex the right knee for power, but don't collapse weight onto my right side.)

Oh, and he's wearing a tie.

Only two results are possible here: A weak slice. Or a fat, smothering hook.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hot Stove Topic: Jason Bay

Let’s light the lamp oil, put a log in the stove, pour the winter ales and speculate about all things in the world of the red-stringed rawhide….

The second biggest name on the market this off season is Mr. Jason Bay. There are many intriguing places where the 31-year old slugging outfielder could land, but where he does finally call home will depend greatly on where Mr. Holliday ends up.

The lineup—particularly the power aspect of it—is aging rapidly. With David Ortiz's power rapidly diminishing, there's no one on the team that's a lock to hit more than 25+ homers. (Youkilis hit 27 last year, second to Bay.) If Boston can't sign Holliday—which is entirely possible given that he's expressed his desire to stay with the Cardinals—they will go after Bay hard. In order for Ortiz to possibly bounce back from 2 years of subpar numbers, he'll need the kind of protection Bay can provide. The Red Sox will pay for that.

I think the prospects of Bay getting any more than a 4-year contract are slim given his age and his slump in production during the last half of '09. I firmly believe 4 years, $65-75 million will be what Bay fetches. Which means the Red Sox aren't the only team that can afford him....

$48 million. That's what the Mariners have to play around with after freeing themselves from the contracts of Adrian Beltre, Miguel Bautista, Kenji Johjima, Jerrod Washbrun and the oft-injured, clubhouse cancer that was Eric(a) Bedard. And it wouldn't it be nice for the Ms to solve their decades-long left field woes with Bay? Given his Northwest ties, Bay might find Seattle an intriguing destination. This is a franchise that is resurrecting itself in the wake of Bill Bavasi's reign of baseball terror. The Ms have the ability to pay $15-17 million Bay will command, leaving them another $30-32 million to sign Russell Branyan (why he isn't signed yet is baffling) and few Grade B or C starting pitchers.

However, the franchise still has a long way to go. Outside of Cy Young runner up Felix Hernandez, every spot in the rotation seems up for grabs. Which makes the Ms a less desirable choice for Bay if he's looking to get to the post season and a World Series.

Speaking of King Felix, whether or not the Ms sign Bay hinges greatly on what they decide to do with Felix, sign him to a long-term deal or trade him before the season starts. They could do both. The drawback would mean tying most of that $48 million into just 2 players. Under GM Jack Zduriencik, I don't see the Ms doing both. It's Bay or Felix, but not both.

St. Louis
Again, protecting Albert Pujols in the lineup is a top priority for the Cards. If they fail to sign Matt Holliday, they too will go after Bay hard.

Again, the same reasons I gave for the Cubs being involved in the Holliday bidding apply here with Bay.

San Francisco
Stranger things have happened, and Lord knows my G-Men need some kind of bat in their lineup, but I just give them a 5% chancc of signing Bay.

New York Mets
Why not Holliday instead of Bay? Bay's cheaper. However, the Mets simply have too much money tied into massive contracts now to sign Bay.

Your thoughts and cheap bon mots?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This is War, Not a Crime

On September 11, 2001, civilian and government installations were targeted in a covert operation by an international terror syndicate harbored and abetted by a government not recognized by the United Nations.

To anyone with reasonable and rudimentary observational skills, this was an act of war.

Moreover to anyone with reasonable and rudimentary observational skills that had been paying attention since 1991, this was not a random or isolated incident. 9/11 was merely the largest in a series of attacks against military, government and civilian targets, beginning with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing—which was inspired, in part, by al Qaeda's success in the Battle of Mogadishu (aka: Black Hawk Down). Subsequent attacks occur ed on military targets (Khobar Towers in 1996, killing 19 U.S. servicemen and wounding hundreds more*; USS Cole, October 2000, killing 17 U.S. servicemen) and on government offices (African U.S. Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, killing 12 Americans and killing 200+ locals).

In 1998, Osama bin Laden issued his fatwa, declaring war on the west.

Yet despite all those signs and bloodshed, nobody—on either the Western left or right—acknowledged let alone believed we were actively involved in a war.

We know all this. So why does this all bear repeating for umpteenth millionth time? (Believe me, it's boring to repeat so I wonder the same.)

Because to the American left and western liberals, they still believe 9/11 and the other preceding events were not acts of war, but crimes. They were isolated incidences, yet still deliberate and premeditated. To them, the pattern of attacks leading up to 9/11 do not signal war; they are too far apart in terms of years. There is no defined or ongoing battlefield, no city to win, no uniformed armies massing on our borders and no treaties to ever sign.

Yet the naive ideology persists.

Nowhere is this fundamental ideological rift more apparent than in the acts of Attorney General Eric Holder holding trials near Ground Zero , and in the words of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of (D-Vt.), who said, "They committed crimes of murder in our country and we will prosecute them in our country."

This is like describing the Nazis invading Poland as an 'incursion."

Is this fundamental misreading of our enemy out of deliberate ignorance or an unwillingness to accept the obvious, indisputable facts? I believe it is a combination of those two with a dash willful blindness because the events wholly contradict the liberal world view that if we appease and compromise with enemies (even when they've shown no willingness to compromise themselves) we can have a more peaceful world.

This is dangerous not only the United States, but Westerners at large. This lulls people into thinking that this enemy can be rationalized and reasoned with; that compromise is attainable. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

And while I fully admit the Global War on Terror is poorly named (you can't have a war against a tactic like terrorism), reducing it down to an "overseas contingency operation" as the Obama Administration has done strongly implies that there is no threat to the homeland and to the world at large.

To criminalize the war and treat the the terror masters like KSM as common criminals as AG Holder and by extension the Obama Administration have done, is in itself the greater war crime.

*The inspiration for the brilliant movie, "The Kingdom."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hot Stove Toipic: Matt Holliday

Let’s light the lamp oil, put a log in the stove, pour the winter ales and speculate about all things in the world of the red-stringed rawhide….

Soon, it will be A Very Happy Matt Holliday Season* for some team and their fans. The question is, where will the power-hitting outfielder end up?

In order, from mostly likely to least likely, are the teams who I think will be vying for Young Master Holliday’s considerable skills.

St. Louis Cardinals
The Cards know first hand of Holliday’s value. All he did in 63 games with them was hit .353 with 13 HRs and 55 RBI while compiling a Bonds-like 1.032 OPS. People will point and say, yeah, but look what he did in Oakland and in Colorado his last year. That’s a rookie point. First, he was injured for a third of the year in COL and in Oakland he was protected in the lineup by….Jason Giambi. Oye. That explains everything.

The Cards need somebody other than the streaky Ryan Ludwig protecting Albert Pujols. And Big Al certainly enjoyed Holliday hitting behind him, too. The Cards have the money, too. Will they choose to be a player? Oh, I think Big Al will have a Big Say in the matter.

Chicago Cubs
What a mess Milton Bradley was in right field. Sweet Lou will be happy to see his tired act on another team. However, there’s an overwhelming factor that makes the Cubs a major player: Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez coming off injuries and surgeries, so the Cubs desperately need an every day power bat in the 3-hole if they want to pass the Cardinals.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Scott Boras pits the Cards and Cubs against each other.

Boston Red Sox
Jason Bay or Matt Holliday? One thing’s for sure: one of them will end up in Boston. Bay’s bat went somewhat silent down the stretch and into the playoffs. Then again, so did the entire Boston lineup. Bay’s older than Holliday, but his glove is superior. David Ortiz’s career is officially on the skid, so his bat will need to be replaced, making Holliday an ideal long-term replacement.

Boston may have other needs, however—particularly at third base. If they blow their wad on Holliday, can they afford an Adrian Beltre?

However, after getting screwed over by Boras in the A-Rod trade a few years ago, Sox management might not be so eager to deal with Boras and Holliday.

New York Yankees
After spending nearly half a billion dollars in free agents last year, are they game for potentially doling out for another 9-figure contract? Maybe. There are two big reasons for the Yanks to pursue Holliday: the need to fill out their aging and mildly punchless outfield and get younger. Holliday addresses both of those issues. However, even the Yanks need to mind payroll, so it’s entirely possible that they could resign Johnny Damon and World Series hero Hideki Matsui to 2 or 3-year deals for far less than what Holliday will cost.

I think they’re out of this race.

Are the other teams in the running? Let's hear them.

*, you can thank me for the “Happy Holliday” pun-y headline later. My apologies if I made you gag, Dear 3.5 readers.

Fire Up The Hot Stove

Let’s light the lamp oil, put a log in the stove, pour the winter ales and speculate about all things in the world of the red-stringed rawhide….

Henceforth, this will be a regular feature until the sun shines brightly again on the grass at Safeco Field. A little something to distract us from the otherwise dreary and meaningful goings on in the world today. So I encourage you, Dear 3.5 Readers, to join me in the coversation by leaving your thoughts and opinions in the comments section where we can discuss them like the well-informed baseball purists that we are.

Beginning now.....

And #1 on My Christmas Wish is:

Friday, November 6, 2009

I Just Ate a Trip to Las Vegas

So the wife arrives home last night after a trying 5-day business trip. And the third thing out of her mouth after “hello” and “I’m exhausted” was the snippy-toned question of, ”Did you go out all week for lunch?”

Now I don’t take kindly to such insta-snarky queries after having watched our 19-month old solo for 5 days. By the time he gets settled down to sleep, and I clean up the kitchen, sweep the floor, possibly do some laundry and get some dinner in my stomach, it’s 9:15pm or so. After that, it’s down time for Daddy. The last thing I’m thinking about is lunch the next day.

Yet I begrudgingly recognize that, despite her bitchy (and still unapologetic*) tone, my wife has a point: Buying lunch is costing us money.

Just how much money it’s costing us is what I wanted to know. So I did some quick and rough calculations.

Let’s start with homemade lunches based on store bought items**:

Bread: $3.5 per loaf
Sandwich meat: $11 per/lb. of Boar’s Head turkey or roast beef (I refuse to eat the cheap meat)
Chips: $3 per bag
Fruit: $3 on average (bananas, apples, etc.)
Drink: water $0
Total: $20.50

Per lunch (divided by 5): $4.10
Per month ($20.50 per week x 4 weeks): $82
Per year: ($82 per month x 12 months): $984

I like to go out to lunch in lovely Kent, WA, every so often to break the monotony just like a normal person. Of course I was “bad” and ate out every day this week. But this week was and is an exception. Yet I know multiple coworkers people who buy their lunch every single day. Let’s look at what it costs them to eat out based on a lunch I might eat, which are typical of the places they go to eat.

Chipotle: $8 (burrito and a drink)
Little David’s Deli: $9.50 (full sandwich, chips and drink)
Company Café: $7.50 (entrée, side and drink)
Little David’s Deli: $11 (hot sandwich, chips, drink)
Company Café: $7.50 (entrée, side and drink)
Total: $43.50

Per lunch (divided by 5): $8.70
Per month ($43.50 per week x 4 weeks): $174
Per year ($174 per month x 12 months): $2,088

The difference? $1,104.

Holy cats!

Hmm, what could I do with an “extra” $1,104?

That’s airfare, 2 nights at a decent hotel in Las Vegas (my first choice), plus a little left over for poker. Or 4 rounds of golf (caddie included) at Chambers Bay. Enjoy 4 to 5 dinners for 2 at El Gaucho steakhouse. Attend at least 10 Mariners games with a friend—even paying for their ticket if you're feeling so generous. Consume 9 bottles of Jose Cuervo Reserve La Familia. Anjeo. Play for 18 $60 buy-ins to the Roxy's double stack tournament. A really new and bitchin' gas grill. A really new and bitchin' set of kitchen knives.

Okay, so those are just my little fantasies, but you get the gist.

Oh, and you know how long it takes you to make a sandwich, throw some chips in a bag and grab a piece of fruit?*** Roughly 6 minutes.

$1,104. And that’s just one person. For the two of us that works out to $2,208 per year.

Now doesn’t it make you want to lose your lunch over how much you’re spending on it?

*I’m waiting.
**I do the shopping every week, so these are accurate numbers.
*** A comment on my laziness this week, for sure.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Don't Mess With The Guvinator

Making its rounds today is a fantastic albeit unintentionally "coded" veto message sent from Gov, Schwarzenegger to San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano.

Suppossedly this in response to when "Ammiano called the governor a liar and shouted from the audience to "kiss my gay ass" when Schwarzenegger unexpectedly showed up at a Democratic Party dinner in San Francisco on Oct. 7."

Now look down the left hand column and at the first letter in each line of each paragraph to see what all the fuss is about.

That's right. It reads, "I fuck you."

+1 for unintentional awesomeness!

And of Absolutely No Interest to Anyone....

For the 7th time in 7 tries, I made the final table at the $60 buy-in, double-stack tournament at Roxy's Casino. And for the 7th time in a row, I finished out of the money in 7th. A tad disappointing, for sure. But making the final table 7 times in a row is pretty darn good.

As full of myself as I am in going 7 for 7, I'm equally disappointed. I played really, really well and have nothing to show for it. This frustrates me a bit because the players at this game are genuinely awful. They make basic poker errors, like: raising only 2x the big blind preflop, open limping, overplaying top pair, overplaying pocket pairs on draw-y boards/flops, giving more value to suited pocket pairs than the deserve (AK of spades is only 2%-3% better than AK unsuited), chasing draws when the bet makes in it incorrect and costly to do so, underestimating their hand values and not raising with them, playing "scared" poker (not aggressive and using position) overplaying A-rags (like A-5, A-4) and calling raises with them; and my personal favorite, playing their cards and not their opponents' hands. Oh, and when I've identified the tight-weak players, I bluff the daylights out of them.

So, given all that why am I not making the money? I think they're are a couple of reasons:
1.) I've been running 'card dead' in the middle-late rounds when the blinds are around $400/$800 and $800/$1600. With better hands, I can steal the blinds and maintain/build my stack. But I'm seeing a lot of garbage and my stack simply hasn't been high enough in these rounds to pre-flop steal even with garbage hands. Meh. It happens.
2.) Being hyper aggressive from position. I'm aggressive now, I just need to turn it up a notch. (I did a good job at this last night, I think.)
3.) When I'm short stacked and down to 5 big blinds, I need to open up and shove whenever possible. This is in line with #2.

Do those things and there's no reason I can't money or take down this tournament repeatedly.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Backoff Obama on Afghanistan

A lot of criticism has been leveled against President Obama for not acting fast enough on Gen. McChrystal's recommendation to send 40,ooo more troops into Afghanistan.

Yesterday former veep Dick Cheney called it "dithering."

These are unfair and unwarranted attacks on President Obama. The attacks are also two-faced and hypocritical and willfully ignorant of recent history on the part of Obama's critics.

The Bush Administration 'dithered' on Iraq strategy while that country spiraled toward a religious and civil war for nearly 2 years. It wasn't until mounting US casualties, domestic pressure, the GOP's defeat at the polls in Nov. '06 and the (mostly worthless) Iraq Study Group Report* forced Bush to get off his ass and find a new strategy. The "surge" strategy wasn't announced to the public until Jan. 10, 2007—more than 2 months after strategy talks began. From start to full deployment, "the surge" took almost 10 months. (The first buildup phases of "the surge" began in Jan./Feb. 2007 , and it wasn't until Jun/July '07 that was fully operational and all boots requested were on the ground.)

Do Obama's critics not realize how foolish they look given these undenible facts?

I understand the need for urgency on Obama's decision. Losing our brave men and women while the Taliban and al Qaeda grow stronger is certainly not what any reasonable and compassionate person wants. However, it has been a little more than 2 months since McChrystal submitted his 66-page report to Sec't of Defense Robert Gates on Sept. 20, 2009, and I sincerely believe that Obama is doing the right thing in taking the time to implement a responsible and hopefully successful and winning decision on strategy. It's his duty as Commander in Chief.

Fortunately, there are a few wise Republicans out there who see the same thing I do, like Sen. Chuck Lamar who said, "President Obama is entitled to take sufficient time to decide what our long-term role ought to be in Afghanistan. I want him to take the time to get it right."

Obama's critics should follow our lead–especially you, Mr. Cheney.

*Not to be confused with the Iraq Survey Group, which was charged with finding WMD after the liberation** of Iraq.
**Not occupation, dicks.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Did I Mention That I'm Also Insane?

Dear 3.5 Readers,

Remember a little while back when I professed that I was a Birther and a Racist?

Now I'd like to inform you that I'm also insane.

According to the WaPo's Dana Milbank, people who repeatedly disagree with President Obama and his unnerving quest for nationalized health care, we're insane.

That's right, I'm cuckoo for CocoPuffs! Off my rocker! The ace of clubs short of a full deck! I'm...oh, you get the idea.

But wait a tic.

If I'm nuts, then what's that make Milbank—and by extension, Milbank's editor who approved such a pointless and juvenile column—who spent (I imagine) a fair amount of time actually counting the number of times Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) repeated certain phrases over the course of 50 or speeches? Wouldn't his time had been better spent actually refuting McConnell's points in a column?

While he was at it, why didn't Milbank sift through the hundreds of speeches where President Obama used "hope" and "change" and "new direction?" I mean, shit, if the tactic worked to get Obama elected, what's so wrong with McConnell employing the same approach to defeat ObamaCare? Is it because McConnell has The Scarlet R attached to his name?

Hmm, those all could be true.

Then again, what do I know?

I'm just insane.

Crazily Yours,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bull Rush-ed

Despite my political leanings, and people's predisposed opinions of my associations given those leanings, I don’t care much for Rush Limbaugh. I say this not to as way to add credibility to what I’m about to say, it’s that I just don’t care for him. I simply don’t listen to him very often. But when I do listen I find him to be a bombastic megalomaniac. He's also a bit of "bomb-thrower"—saying outrageous things about his opponents or their ideals. On the other hand, he's an extremely astute political and media observer who makes salient points and arguments, too. He’s also fiercely loyal to his conservative ideals (sometimes to a fault) and whose bomb throwing often nails the target with accuracy.

Rush is also bloody wealthy. The $400,000,000 deal-plus deal he struck last year merely added to his wealth.

So he's got a bunch of money to spend. And what do guys with a lot of money do? They buy stuff. Like football teams. And Rush wants to buy a minority stake in the St. Louis Rams. I have no problem with this. Hell, Keith Olbermann of all people has no problem with this. The NFL, however? They have a problem with this and they’re intent on not letting Limbaugh buy a stake. Why? Well, let's get to the laughably specious reasons.

First, NFL commish Goodell went back into the playbook to dig up Rush's comment about Donovan McNabb ("I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well."). The comment got Rush fired by ESPN because many viewed as being racist. How it was racist to any observant and reasonable person who can read or that follows our media and culture is a mystery. Nonetheless, Goodell trotted that one out saying, "I would not want to see those comments coming from people who are in a responsible position in the N.F.L. — absolutely not" and “the comments that Rush made specifically about Donovan, I disagree with very strongly."

Not to re-hash this, but I have to since Goodell and others are bringing it up: Rush wasn't making a racist comment about McNabb; Rush was saying the media—specifically the east coast media, which plays a huge role in this country—was building up McNabb, not just The Next Great Quarterback, but as the Next Great Black Quarterback. (I guess they missed Warren Moon's career.). More to the point, as Slate’s Allan Barra deftly noted, “Rush Limbaugh didn't say Donovan McNabb was a bad quarterback because he is black. He said that the media have overrated McNabb because he is black.”

Barra goes on to make another fantastic point: “I don't know of a football writer who didn't regard the dearth of black NFL quarterbacks as one of the most important issues in the late '80s and early '90s…. To pretend that many of us didn't want McNabb to be the best quarterback in the NFL because he's black is absurd. To say that we shouldn't root for a quarterback to win because he's black is every bit as nonsensical as to say that we shouldn't have rooted for Jackie Robinson to succeed because he was black.”

So Goodell is taking offense to something he clearly doesn’t understand cowardly pandering to the predominantly African-American NFLPA who also took great offense to Rush’s potential ownership.

But the NFL wasn’t finished being stupid. Cue Colts owner Jim Irsay—whose father, Robert, moved the Colts franchise from Baltimore to Indianapolis literally in the middle of the night back in 1983.

Irsay said that Limbaugh’s bid would be met with opposition from the other 32 owners (three quarters of the owners are required to approve the sale). Oh really? Now call me silly, but I’m thinking a majority of those billionaire owners are likely Republicans/conservatives themselves with a few exceptions. So good luck in finding the 8 owners who likely could give a rat’s butt about opposing Rush’s minority ownership role.

Next, if the NFL is so damn concerned about “comments coming from people who are in a responsible position in the N.F.L.,” and the integrity of its franchise owners, then why hell doesn’t it do something about Oakland’s Al Davis, Cleveland’s Randy Lerner and the Fords in Detroit, all of who are pile-driving their franchises into the ground? Or what Dallas’ Jerry Jones and his repeated outbursts? Or Washington’s Dan Snyder? Hmm?

Yeah, crickets and tumbleweeds on that one, eh, Commish Goodell?

Finally, does the NFL even know who its audience is? Do they really think the majority of their audience are latte-sipping beat poets and community organizers? Maybe Goodell & Friends need a lesson demographic analysis. It’s more NASCAR than Nescafe, I can assure you of that.

Worst of all, this mindless and baseless opposition to Rush’s purchase reinforces the Saul Alinksy rule that if pick the target, attack and polarize it, you can win. And the frothing liberal left succeeded in doing what it has been trying to do for years: Defeat Rush. So Rush won’t get a part of the Rams. Or any team likely ever.

And the legacy of this “victory” for the Rush-hating left? You can violate every American ideal and free-market principles of ownership and force someone out buying something simply based on his or her beliefs or views.

Congratulations, you pathetic un-American cowards.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Golf Trash Talk

It so goes against the gentlemanly nature of the game, but when trash talk does happen in golf it's pretty entertaining.

While this won't compare to Tiger Woods' caddie Steve Williams calling Phil "Tits" Mickelson a "prick", it's still got a nice zing factor to it.

The Americans retained the President's Cup over the International team on Sunday, beating them 19.5 to 14.5. During Sunday's singles matches, Anthony Kim was matched against Aussie Robert Allenby.

Throughout the tournament, Allenby called Kim "the current John Daly" and "the loosest cannon" on the U.S. team. No surprise there, really. Kim is just 24 and known for his brash but very cool belt buckles (only in golf would one's choice in belt buckles garner so much attention) plus he has a fair amount of 'hood in him having grown up in inner Los Angeles.

Kim must've used it as motivation because he laid wood to Allenby, 5 and 3.

But Allenby just couldn't take his ass-whoopin' graciously. He accused Kim of getting back to his hotel "sideways" (aka: "shit faced" in our lingo) and that "Maybe we should all take the theory of Anthony Kim. Get home at 4 o'clock [in the morning] and then go shoot 6 under."

I could do that at 24, too. Arrive at the course still semi-drunk from the night before and play, so maybe Allenby has just a bit of age/liver envy.

But Kim had a great response: "I was at the hotel, had dinner with the team, met my buddies for about 20 minutes, then went straight to my room*. I was in tip-top shape**. If Robert had that to say, he maybe needs to practice a little more."

Hoozah! A pretty good, gentlmanly zing for a 24-year old.

And so much classier than telling Allenby to go suck wallaby tool. Which is what I would have said.

* Read: I've never said I didn't get plastered in my hotel room.
** For being slightly powdered.

Monday, October 12, 2009

And Here I Thought I Was a Bad Writer

I have no idea what kind of news service Associated Content is (or isn't), but this fine piece of, um, writing came up under a news search I was doing on Mike Zimmer, the Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator whose wife died suddenly last Thursday.

Mike Zimmer's wife and her cause of death still hasn't been released. But Mike Zimmer's wife's cause of death is naturally mysterious, since her death came out of nowhere. Mike Zimmer's wife, Vikki Zimmer, didn't have any sicknesses or diseases before she was declared dead on Thursday, as far as anyone knows. Since the news shocked everyone, Mike Zimmer's wife's cause of death is taking an extra long time to figure out. But no matter what the cause of death, Mike and Vicki Zimmer served as an extra inspiration to the red-hot Cincinnati Bengals on the field.

Then the second paragraph started:

Before Mike Zimmer's wife died, he was merely best known as the defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Just one question: Who's wife died again?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Geezus, Write Something Already

I know! I couldn't agree more, dear 3.5 Readers. I should be writing more, and I'm for not doing, I'm sorry.

Hoenst, I have a bunch of stuff that's almost fit to post and for you to avoid reading! Yeah!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Why I Worry About My 1-1 Raiders

I'm pretty jazzed about my Raiders win over the Chiefs yesterday, but I have some issues. Like this one from CBS:

Raiders coach Tom Cable on whether there’s a common theme to QB JaMarcus Russell’s erratic passing. “No, there’s not. That’s the real issue here, just finding out why those things are going on."

Hmm, well, that's a nice, direct answer. But I think he could have better answered it this way:

"Russell is a great kid, I really like him as a person. And admittedly, today was particularly tough for JaMar. I mean 7 for 24 and 109 yards is really, well, my son has better stats in the 10-12 year old division of Pop Warner. This was the same defense that Ravens' QB Joe Flacco torched for 350+ yards and 3 TDs last week, and he was the #18 pick in the draft, not the #1 like Russell. And he went to the University of Delaware, for God's sake.

Anyway, there are a lot reasons for his erratic throws. He locks in on receivers and, in turn, defensive backs lock in on him. What happens? Picksville. Then he forces the ball into traffic and—swat!—there's another pass defended. He holds onto the ball too long. He can't throw on the run, which is really weird for a QB from LSU. He thinks "going through his progressions" means trying different varieties of Progresso soups. And checking down to his backs? Jesus Christ, I know Darren McFadden is a small-ish back, but hell, JaMar is like 6'4" why the hell he can't find him is a mystery. But what am I supposed to do? I can't dumb down the offense to the Special Olympics level. So the whole erratic throwing thing really isn't a surprise to anyone paying attention—which clearly you aren't, reporter man.

Oh, and did I mention Al Davis drafted him because he can huck the ball 70 yards, but he can't hit a 15 yard down and out? Fuck, I really wish I could start Jeff Garcia, but we shipped him to Philly just before the season started. So there's question, please."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chicks Don't Dig Foul Balls*

Especially 3 or 4 year olds.

Great reaction by Dad!

*For anyone paying attention, yes, I stole that from my FB post. Self-plagarizing is not a crime.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I thought videos and MTV Video Awards died a number of years ago. Good thing they didn't or nobody would know what a classless cockring Kayne West truly is.

Classy move by Beyonce to bring up Taylor Swift (whoever the hell she is) to perform with her afterward the incident.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm a Birther and a Racist

At least according to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen I am.


Because I'm oppose HR 3200 and the president's relentless attempts to shove it down our throats.

Mr. Cohen thinks he's free to wonder—no, premitted to wonder, in his words—that "if some of Obama’s more hateful critics are not expressing a repressed bigotry -- the feeling that the man up on the dais cannot really be the president of the United States. After all, he does not look like one."

Wait, how do you go from does one come to the conclusion, when you rudely yell "you lie!" and that makes you a....

Aw, screw it. I'm a birther and a racist, I guess.

But at least I'm not fucking nuts....

"You Lie!" And The Lying Liars Who Don't Want to be Called Out About Lying (Or, "You Call That Civil Discourse?")

Disrespectful. Uncivil. Rude. Lacking grace and dignity.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouting "You lie!" during President Obama's speech was all those things. (I was listening to the speech on the way home last night when I heard it and thought, 'Did I just hear that right?'.) Naturally, The Shout Heard 'Round The Country is plastered all over the main pages of media outlets. Columnists and pundits are all in a twitter and waggling their knowing fingers at Republicans.

It all makes me chuckle, really. I feel like channeling the guard from "Cool Hand Luke":

"What we've got here is...failure to remember."

Like when House Minority leader (at the time) Sen. Harry Reid calling President Bush a "loser" and a "liar" to high school kids.

Or when the late St. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-forever-Mass.) accused President Bush of being a liar by “telling lie, after lie, after lie”, in order to go to war in Iraq.

Or when President Obama misrepresented the oppostion last night calling them liars regarding "death panels", health insurance to illegals and use of federal dollars to fund abortions, when he himself is not fully disclosing that there are some truths to those claims*. So he is a liar for calling them liars.

But I think one of the more amusing responses in all this came from House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Queen of San Francisco, CA). Stories and columns today noted that Pelosi looked "visibly stunned" by Wilson's "You lie!"

She was quoted in the New York Times as follows:

Asked if she had considered gaveling Mr. Wilson out of order, she said: “No. Well, the — if he had continued. But the sergeant-at-arms — you know, the parliamentarian passed me a piece of paper that said what the options were, and I said we’re just going to move on.”

Well of course she wanted to move on—lest anyone else in the Chamber call her out on national TV for her baldfaced lies claiming she was never briefed on the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques back in 2002. (Thanks to AG Holder for pulling off the "Triple Ooopsy!" by releasing the EIT documents that a.) prove Pelosi's a liar; b.) undermine CIA agents and future intel gathering operations and; c.) EITs actually do work.)

And where were the stories and columns and calls for apologies on those equally disrespectful and unprofessional remarks?

If you're hearing crickets and tumbleweeds in the Land of Double Standard you're not alone.

Look, no doubt Joe Wilson was way, way, way out of line and disrespectful last night. He's since apologized, and Obama has graciously accepted it.

But before the calls go out for Wilson's resignation—because you know that can't be far away—the feigned indignation over the demise of civil discourse in this country and double standards should be checked at the door.

*This is not to say that those who make such dubious claims regarding "death panels" aren't exaggerating or using hyperbole; they are. But those are discussions for another time.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Still Have Much Love for My Liberal Friends

But geez, when did they start drinking the rhetorical Kool-Aid by the vat?

This is all over Facebook today:

No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.

Wow. Just wow. The first sentence is demonstrably false, misleading and deceitful that it would be laughable...if so many people weren't posting it on their Walls today.

Which begs a bigger question: In general, when did liberals, who've told us for years to "question authority" and "don't trust the government" or "don't trust anyone over 30", all of sudden find faith in the federal government to run a massively complex health care program, the very same federal government that can barely manage public education, and put decisions about their health care into the hands of bureaucrats? Really?

Moreover, do they just not have the time to investigate the matter? Are they just not that interested? Or are they just trying to be 'right' side of the issue with their friends? Do they not see the slow loss of their personal liberties? I honestly don't know how anyone who has read any critical and objective analysis—or, my God, simply seen the Congressional Budget Office report on the price tag of HR 3200—can feel good about or right in supporting such a poorly constructed and concevied piece of legislation. (And that doesn't even account for the poorly constructed arguments and misrepresentation and poor examples presented by President Obama on why the public should support it.)

Look, these friends are really, really smart people; many of whom I find to be truly incredible people who are much, much smarter than I am on numerous issues.

But I am absolutely, 100% Grade A perplexed by their willfull blindness to accept HR 3200 in any way, shape or form.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Read Stupid People (And Their Ignorant Slams on Religion Bumper Stickers)

The anti-religious bumper stickers always tickle my funny bone. I think that's mostly because the people who place them on their vehicles would sooner worship politicians (hint, hint: guess who?) than be caught worshipping an entity they can neither touch or see. What I find belly-jiggling is that they find it all too convenient to use religious symbols or figures or psalms in order to express an opinion about an issue.

For example, in order to chastise and waggle a knowing finger at all religions, there's the "Coexist" bumper sticker:

Clever on the surface, but ultimately ignorant and graphically retarded.

The designer just shrugged their shoulders and thought, 'Ah, who cares if the peace and man/woman symbols aren't really religions symbols, it works in the graphic. Besides I'm too lazy to look up other religious symbols that might make a better 'O' and 'E.' I can still use the Christian cross, the Jewish star and the Islamic moon and star in the same word and still make my point! Whatever that is...'

And is the point of this bumper sticker?

Aside from the graphical inaccuracies, there's the greater inconvenience in acknowledging the fact that it's incredibly ignorant of current events. See, nearly every major and current conflict or war in the world was started by—you guessed it—Islamists.

Lest you think I'm full of Shiite, here's a quick recap of current conflicts: Sudan? Islam. Chechnya? Islam. Afghanistan? Islam. Pakistan? Islam. Palestine? Islam. Lebanon? Islam. Iraq? Islam. (Yes, that may be over-simplifying or glossing over Israeli aggression in some instances, but this is a matter of 'original sin' in starting said conflict.)

Now, take some time and cite a current modern conflict started by Christians, Jews or Buddhists. Go on, no hurry. I'll wait.

Still thinking, huh?

That's cool, get back to me when you think of one.

So who's really not 'coexisting' with whom, Mr. Oh-So-Smart-Religion-Hating Graphic Designer?

How about leaving on the Moon and Star for the 'C' and using regular fonts for the rest of the word? Then a point would be made.

Here's another favorite:

Cute, huh? See how the writer used Jesus to point out Christian hypocrisy in supporting wars, insinuating that we should 'love our enemies'? I actually think this one makes a good point in that regard: As followers of a peaceful and loving God, war should be the last option.

Here's the deal, however: While I don't profess to know what Jesus may or may not think on the matter of war, I get the feeling Jesus would have a darn hard time 'turning the other cheek' or letting his beard be plucked' or 'loving the enemy' if he knew millions or thousands of people were being massacred and buried in mass graves like the Jews in WWII. Or in the killing fields of Cambodia. Or in Saddam's deserts. Or if humanity itself were threatened by any entity other Jesus' dad, dear old God.

Who knows, Jesus might even admire the extreme accuracy of modern weaponry in targeting the bad guys of today. (Of course, some of those cowardly fucks like to use women and children to hide behind posing a gut-wrenching dilemma even Jesus might have trouble dealing with.)

Finally, there's this one I saw in the parking lot at work (sorry, no picture):

"If religious groups want to be in politics, they should pay taxes."

Hmm, does that go for all nonprofit groups—like, say, the Sierra Club? Or the Nature Conservancy? Or Or just pick your favorite liberal nonprofit group that's heavily involved in lobbying for their interests. Should they pay taxes too? I'm thinking 'no' here. We just want those meddling Christians to pay! Bastards!

I think the final chuckle I get from all these is this: Professed and alleged tolerant and liberal people have no problem whatsoever openly expressing their intolerance and ignorance.

And in other news, water is wet.

Monday, August 31, 2009

I Was Wrong, Very Wrong

And in this case, I'm very happy about it.

See, back in late March I had made a few predictions for the then upcoming baseball season. I called out the division and post-season winners and awards. If memory serves, here's what I predicted:

AL West: Angels (This is the only one I have right.)
AL Central: Twins (Probably won't catch the Tigers.)
AL East: Rays (May not even make the Wild Card)
Wild Card: Toronto (Oops....)
MVP: Morneau (Right team, wrong player. Mauer's the man.)
CY: CC Sabathia (I think I have this one right.)
ROY: Travis Snyder, Jays (Sent down in early May and was just recalled.)

NL West: D-Backs (No Brandon Webb...)
NL Central: Cubs (I think I had the Cardinals finishing 4th. Um yeah.)
NL East: Mets (Even when they were healthy, they stunk.)
Wild Card: Phillies (You can hand them the division crown now.)
MVP: Manny Ramirez (50 games suspensions hurt one's chances...)
CY: Tim Lincecum (Can we just hand it to him for the next 5-7 years or so?)
ROY: Don't remember.

Wow, 3 for 16. That's below the Mendoza Line for Predictions.

So why am I happy about it?

The Giants are deeply involved in an exciting Wild Card race and have a legit shot at making the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

I had predicted them to finish 4th in the division.

Yes! I love being wrong! So very wrong!

Useful Idiots, Part 34,981 in an Annoying Series

She must've been on the same tour with Michael Moore.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hijacking 9/11, Community-Organizer Style

During the 2004 election, liberals crowed loudly and often when the GOP used a few images from 9/11 during their convention and, very rarely, in commercials. “Off limits!”, “tasteless!” and “exploitive!” were the cries.

But in 2009 it’s just hunky dorey to apply a little revisionist interpretation of recent history to get people to volunteer. Which is what the well-meaning folks at want you to do.

Their mission is asking people to do the following:

Our mission is to honor the victims of 9/11 and those who rose to service in response to the attacks by encouraging all Americans and others throughout the world to pledge to voluntarily perform at least one good deed, or another service activity on 9/11 each year. In this way we hope to create a lasting and forward-looking legacy -- annually rekindling the spirit of service, tolerance, and compassion that unified America and the world in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Hmm, methinks our community organizers are a tad confused on a couple of key points.

First, and most importantly, the firefighters, police officers and emergency personnel who were killed on 9/11 weren’t ‘volunteering’ or ‘performing a service’ at the time of the attacks; they were doing their jobs, selflessly and heroically. The Everyday Joes and Janes who were murdered in the Towers, at the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field weren’t volunteering or serving either; they too were going about their daily lives and jobs. They “rose in service”, no doubt, but not to pick-up garbage or to bring food to the homeless or visit the elderly.

Second, as a nation we were compelled to service and to give because we were (and continue to be) inspired by the heroism displayed by our fellow Americans on that day. We felt compassion for those who were murdered and their families. We were unified in our anger and contempt for those who attacked us and who sought (and continue to seek) to destroy our way of life. In that sense, service and compassion were very much a part of 9/11.

But tolerance? When the hell did tolerance come into play on 9/11? If anything, it was the intolerance of the Islamofascists that was on full display. No American I know of tolerated or accepted what happened.

Third, why is looking forward better than looking back? Is pausing to remember an event like 9/11 a bad, futile and negative endeavor? Ridiculous. Actively remembering an event, no matter how negative it was, provides context and a deeper appreciation of and for the present. This Pollyanna/Dr.Phil “forward-looking legacy” language smacks of an odd attempt to put lipgloss over the fact that some pretty evil shit went down that day and marginalize it.

Having said all that, I wanted to be fair, so I dove deeper into the site.

Did any of the volunteer opportunities have anything to do with 9/11? Honestly, not really. Only one of the eleven Program Leaders directly relates to 9/11: The National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. You can also donate $9.11 that will go to organizing “the single largest day of service and civic action in U.S. history in honor of the victims and those who rose in service in response to the attacks.”

Sounds great. Just one thing, and it confuses the beejeezus out of me: How exactly does service and civic action honor victims of 9/11? Oh, I get it. Everyone’s working together like they did after 9/11. Fair enough. But how does that honor the victims exactly? Is that what some people think the passengers on Flight 93 were doing, performing civic action? Sorry to break it to you, but that wasn’t what any of those folks or any of the others who perished were doing.

Some will note that one of the GoodDeeds founders happens to be the brother of a 9/11 victim. So? Does that automatically give the cause instant credibility? No, and it shouldn't. Aside from the fact that too many surviving family members have used their status to promote their politcal and personal agendas, there are some curious connections to President Obama's volunteer agenda—specifically to There's nothing wrong with Their connection here, however, means that a very large and powerful community organizer with direct connections to the current administration is 'exploiting' 9/11 for its agenda. And that's just plain dishonest and disrespectful.

Lest you think I'm a cold-hearted, uncaring bastard, there’s nothing wrong with doing something good, positive and selfless for your community and mankind. There’s also nothing wrong at all with volunteering. I wish I did more myself. Yet what is doing here fails to honestly and respectfully honor the heroes and victims of 9/11; there is no logical and emotional connection to the event.

If you want to mark 9/11 (and I should hope you would), do something else to honor the victims. Read about the day. Read about a victim’s life. Listen to every one of the 3000 names being read. Remember what you were doing that day. Hoist the flag. Read about what lead to the event. Watch the brilliantly directed and moving “United 93.” Whatever you choose do, make it about 9/11.

If you want to volunteer, go right ahead. You’re doing a good and noble deed. Just realize you're another step farther away from "Never Forget."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Redemption of Michael Vick

Inhumane. Subhuman. Disgusted. Furious. Inexcusable.

Back when I used to write over at Wizbang! Sports (now defunct), and if memory serves, those were a few of the words I used to describe the arrest of Michael Vick and the gruesome details behind his direct involvement in a dog-fighting gambling ring.

Like most dog lovers, I wanted to see him punished severely and serve the maximum time for his inhumanity (5 years). Instead, under a plea bargain, he received the near minimum of 18 months with the possibility of receiving more time if he failed to cooperate with prosecutors.

This did not sit well with me, or others. Yet sometimes justice can be indirect.

By the time Vick entered federal prison on Dec. 10, 2007, he had not only lost his freedom but also close to $40 million in football and endorsement contracts. That took the sting out of the 18-month sentence.

Now he’s back.

So what do I think and how do feel about it?

Put it this way: I believe in redemption. Vick has atoned for his sins by pledging his time and money into the rehabilitation of fight dogs, educating the public about dog fighting and is, as I understand it, furthering his involvement in the rehabilitation of fight dogs in Philly. No matter my opinions on the sentence ruling, Vick served the time handed down. And now he deserves a second chance, if not in the public’s eyes, in his own life.

He doesn’t have to redeem himself to society or myself because that really isn’t up to any human being; that is God’s decision. And considering the God I worship and follow is a loving and forgiving God—one that has forgiven far, far worse than what Vick did—I imagine God granted him redemption a while ago.

Vick will have some rough crowds to face, including those in his new home city of Philadelphia—and people that may not see this the way I do. They will taunt and jeer him and make “barking” sounds when he takes the field or makes a play or even breathes. Some may even think he still belongs in prison. I understand all that.

But those folks should stop for a second and think: Given the disturbingly large population of first-time and repeat miscreants in the NFL who seem scarcely unrepentant by their crimes and misdemeanors (think: Adam “Pacman” Jones, Plaxico Burress, Chris Henry, etc.), maybe rooting for Vick is, ironically enough, to err on the side of humanity. Go figure.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Happy 9 Years, Heart

Thanks for not nearly failing me a second time and giving me the opportunity to have a wonderful and beautiful wife, and an incredibly handsome and bright son.

Oh, and certainly not in the least: Thanks, God. Of all the days not to attend Mass, this is was not one I should have missed.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sometimes It's Not the Concept, But The Execution

Crappy YouTube version aside, I really like this spot from Verizon—and it's not because it contains an original concept. In fact, the spot is conceptually pedestrian and a yawner: In a role reversal, tech-unhip parents embarrass their kids with new found technology. Blah, blah, blah, seen it oodles of times. But it's the execution of the script and the acting that overcomes the benign concept.

First, the spot strikes a universal truth in poking fun at social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, winking that the sites are gigantic wastes of time ("social networking" being the cute phrase that glosses over that reality). And mostly they are. (You have 724 "friends?" Really? That's not networking; that's whoring.)

Second, the acting is really good. The daughter plays the pissed off and embarrassed teen girl perfectly. The mother, in a bit of role reversal, is completely engrossed and only momentarily acknowledges her daughter's pleas by shooting her "I-can't-be-bothered-gawd!" glance then goes back to Facebook-ing. And of course there's the Dad delivering the great line, "" then wryly chuckling in the direction of his son and an unseen wink to his own slothfulness.

Is it an award-winning spot? Nah, I don't think so. (Heck, who can tell what advertising award judges will like from one year to the next.) Good stuff all in all! Makes me chuckle every time. But maybe I'm easily entertained.

What this spot does prove is that you don't always need an original concept to have a good, memorable spot; sometimes a good execution can trump that. And indirectly, I think this spot reinforces the idea that a good execution can save a mediocre concept, but a great concept can be ruined by poor execution. (I'd provide an example of this, but I can't think of any off hand. Hmm, that might be the problem right there. I'm thinking so.)

I'll end this post by saying, ""*

Yeah, no waste of time there, huh?

*But you complete me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Did We Hit a Nerve, Mrs. Secretary?

Whoa! Okay, that's a bit uncomfortable.

Sure, words get lost in translation all the time. As the Secretary of State, one would think Mrs. Clinton would be keenly aware of that possibility and have the presence of mind to deal with such a situation accordingly.*

Now maybe she was just a bit touchy after an 11-day tour of Africa and that her husband successfully greased the palms of Jong Il. Or maybe she just missed the good old USA and home cooking. But Jiminey Christmas, the open hostility directed toward the university student asking the question and, indirectly (but understandably!), her husband, is conduct unbecoming of a SOS.

I actually like Mrs. C. as our SOS, but this is out of line.

Note: I like how the report ends with Brian Williams explaining that it was the translator who had misspoken. True and fair enough, for sure. Except blaming the translator silently excuses Clinton's behavior, particularly since Mrs. Clinton hasn't issued an apology. Unless you count the audio-less picture at the end of the report where Mrs. Clinton shakes the student's hand. Which would be no surprise if NBC/MSNBC did count that as an apology, given that it's standard operating procedure for the unapologetically, pro-everything-left-especially-Obama outlet to spin damage control for its buddies in the Beltway.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Then Again, I'm Not Nuts...

One to two times a week, I force myself to read Paul Krugman's New York Times column. The Princeton and Nobel Prize-winning economist is worth reading for his incredible knowledge on economics—at least when he isn't using his position as an op-ed columnist to promote when his political agenda while demonizing and marginalizing opposing viewpoints instead of sticking to something he knows: economics.

Sort of like in today's column.

But today's a special day, because the Krugster does a belly flop off the high board and into the "WTF?" deep end of the Crazy Pool.

For the ADHD readers in the crowd, Krugman's column can be paraphrased as follows: " Hey, if you're a part of those "mobs", you must be a racist and loon if you oppose the House's health care plan!'

What? Don't believe me? Okay, let's quote the Krugster:

But they’re (the town hall crowds) probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they’ve heard about what he’s doing, than to who he is.....That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the “birther” movement, which denies Mr. Obama’s citizenship.

Uh-oh, it's back to pre-November 2008: If you oppose Obama, or if Obama doesn't get elected, it's because of racism. Exactly. I didn't vote for Obama because he was black. It had nothing to do with his terrible economic proposals, his inexperience, his dangerously naive foreign policy, his support of entitlement programs, his associations with unrepentant domestic terrorists ("I was only 8 years old at the time...." Yes, but you served on the same board with Bill Ayers for several years), his 20-year association with a truly racist, anti-American who was "spiritual leader" and so on. Nope, none of that. It was all because he was black.

Now I firmly believe that "birthers" are just as nuts as "9/11 Troothers", latching onto the smallest, most insignificant details and attaching a grand conspiracy to the situation*. Is the racism deep-seeded and present in these folks? Oh, I think to some degree, yes, it is. Then again, who knows. Maybe they just dislike Obama so much they're willing to find any way to get him thrown out of office. Who of us can say for sure?

Oh wait, I know! An Ivy League professor, a man of great intelligence, Paul Krugman, knows for sure:

Senator Dick Durbin has suggested that the birthers and the health care protesters are one and the same; we don’t know how many of the protesters are birthers, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s a substantial fraction.

In the words of Penn Gillette, what the fuck?

I'm not even going to address how loony Durbin sounds for his comparison, but Krugman latches on to the looniness and tries to, at first, appear reasonable, then abandons all sense of logic and reason with, "we don’t know how many of the protesters are birthers, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s a substantial fraction."

Again, channeling Penn: What the fuck?

Being an economist and all, shouldn't he know that can't take an unknown (aka: number of "birthers" actually present) and make a unprovable claim like "substaintial fraction?" Well, fuck, you'd think so. Then again, I'm not a few puffs short of a box of Cocoa Puffs crazy, either.

One more time, just so I'm clear: What's 'driving the mobs', or any of us who don't like having a $1.6 trillion plan shoved down our throats, is deep-seeded racism. Noted, Paul. I feel so much better now that's gotten in touch with my inner racist.

*And for the record, I listen to quite a bit of talk radio, both locally and nationally, from David Boze in Seattle to Michael Medved to John Giv to Laura Ingraham, and every single host who's been confronted or had on a "birther" as a guest or caller has told them, "You're nuts. Give it a rest. Obama is a natural legal citizen, you dope." Every single one.

Friday, July 31, 2009

My Kind of To-Do List

Ben over at I Can't Believe It's Not Better! posted a very fun baseball 'bucket list' by ESPN's Jim Caple. Ben also included his status on each item. Being the unoriginal and shameless pilferer that I am, and because I loved the list so much, I thought I'd do the exact same thing.

Besides, it'll fun to go back in a few years and see how far I've gotten.

• Spend a week at spring training. (Nope. Maybe next spring?)

• Learn to keep score. (Learned from my dad at age 7.)

• Learn about Tommy John surgery by throwing out your arm at the stadium speed pitch station. (Done.)

• Watch "Field of Dreams," "Bull Durham," "A League of Their Own," "The Bad News Bears" (the original) and "The Natural." (Yes on all. And "Eight Men Out" should be on here.)

• Use a wood bat. (Yes.)

• Enjoy a beer in the bleachers at Wrigley Field on a sunny summer day. (Some day.)

• Listen to Vin Scully call an entire Dodgers game. (He's simply magical! And I'm a Giants fan.)

• Read "Ball Four," "The Boys of Summer," "Nine Innings," "The Glory of Their Times" and any (preferably all) of Roger Angell's collections. (Wow, only one. Okay, I need to do some reading. I'll add from Ben's list too. Note: "Seasons In Hell: With Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog and The Worst Team in Baseball History: The 1973-75 Texas Rangers" is a must-read.)

• Go to Japan's Koshien high school tournament (i.e., where Dice K threw his famous no-hitter). (I'd rather go to the Little League World Series, honestly.)

• Hit a home run. (No. I was a scrappy hitter.)

• Coach a Little League team. (Yes. Ugh. Parents.)

• Ump a Little League game. (No. But I did take an umpiring course.)

• Boo the Yankees in person. (Done. And at Yankee Stadium no less.)

• Play Strat-O-Matic, APBA, Dynasty League or a similar computer-simulation game. (Strat. Back in high school.)

Attend a fantasy camp and have more fun than you can imagine feeling old and young at the same time. (No.)

• Tour the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. (Maybe next summer!)

• Oil your glove and stuff it under your mattress for the winter, then play catch the first day of spring with your parent/child. (Absolutely!)

• Get to a game early enough to watch batting practice. (Too many to count.)

Go to the College World Series. (Meh.)

• Play pepper. (Yup.)

• Go to a batting cage and see what it's like to hit a 90 mph fastball. Or, more likely, fail to hit a 90 mph fastball. (Do foul tips count?)

• Attend a townball game in Minnesota (the smaller the town the better). (Bend, OR, isn't Minnesota, but I think it's acceptable.)

Visit the "Field of Dreams" site in Dyersville, Iowa and the old Durham Athletic Park (where "Bull Durham" takes place). (No.)

• Take your kids to see The Chicken or The Phanatic. (This is achievable.)

• Run around the bases after a big league game. (Done!)

• See Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols and Ichiro play in person and chant their names with a stadium packed with fans. (Homey don't chant.)

• Buy a fitted cap to replace the cheap stadium giveaway you got with the plastic adjustable strap in the back and the Piggly Wiggly logo on the side. (Who doesn't have a fitted cap?)

• Sing "Sweet Caroline" at Fenway Park. (They do this? Why?)

• Recite "Casey at the Bat" and "Tinker to Evers to Chance." (Yes.)

• Read the box scores religiously. (Follow them live.)

• Join SABR. (I'd like to.)

• Get your favorite player's autograph. (I've never run into Willie Mays.)

• Learn to throw a curveball. (Done. Murder on the elbow.)

• Take a week-long road trip through the minors, the lower the league the better, and make sure to include a team owned by Mike Veeck. (Now this would be fun!)

• Cheer the Rally Monkey. (As a Giants fan I can firmly reply, fuck no. Not now, not ever.)

• Eat at Boog's barbecue pit at Camden Yards, enjoy a Primanti Brothers sandwich at Pittsburgh's ballpark, the fish tacos in San Diego, a Dodger Dog at Dodger Stadium and garlic fries while circling the concourse in Seattle. (No, no, no, no and yes.)

• Attend a game in the Caribbean. (No.)

• Buy a bleacher ticket and sneak into a box seat. (It's an art form.)

• Passionately argue in a bar over who belongs in the Hall of Fame. (And Bert Blyleven belongs goddamnit!)

• Collect baseball cards. Get your favorite player's rookie card and store it in a plastic sleeve. Treat all others the way God intended: by clothes-pinning them to the spokes of your bicycle in a pathetic attempt to make an engine noise. (Shit, I can't afford Mays' rookie card. I have a nice collection, I think.)

• Rub the Babe's nose in Monument Park. (Done.)

• Camp out in front of the stadium for tickets to see your favorite team in the postseason. (Done. Well, it was the Giants team store. '89 playoffs vs. Cubs.)

• Try to throw a knuckleball. (Done.)

Try to catch a knuckleball. (Caught it! With my shin.)

• Catch a foul ball. And then hand it to the nearest kid. (Oddly, I've never caught one.)

• Disobey your parents by staying up late to listen to a game with your transistor radio/iPhone tucked under your pillow. (Countless times listening to Giants announcer Hank Greenwald.)

• Go to the All-Star Game. (Nope.)

Kayak in McCovey Cove (yeah, Barry Bonds is gone, but San Francisco Bay is still there) (I love kayaking, but I like being inside at the game more.)

• Eat a hot-fudge sundae in a mini batting helmet. (Mmmm, yes.)

And finally …

• See your team play in the World Series. (Sorry, this might not be applicable to Cubs, Mariners, Rangers and Nationals fans.) (In person? No. On TV? Yes. And Dusty Baker is still a fuckwit for pulling Russ Ortiz when he did in Game 6 of the '02 Series....)

I'd like to add a few at some point. Hmm, maybe that would make a good post, too!