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.