September 30, 2006
Colorblind in New Orleans
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I actually watched Monday Night Football this week. Normally, I forget that it's on unless the Packers are playing, but this week as I was flipping channels I noticed The Edge playing with Green Day on the Superdome floor. That was enough to suck me in. I watched the rest of the game, which was great (blocked punts! double reverse!).
The NFL did a great job of recognizing that this particular Monday night game was special. The Superdome was open for business, the crowd was emotional and hey, the Saints are unbeaten! If you want a music performance that suits the importance of the occasion, you pull in the big guns: U2. The boys' soaring songs lend gravitas to the event, but they still rock, so they're fun too. Bono and the gang, aided by Green Day put on a great show punctuated by a rendition of "Beautiful Day" flavored with New Orleans references. The crowd loved. I loved it. ESPN loved it. Entertainment Weekly's Pop Watch loved it. But one Tyler D. character didn't. He said:
I like U2 and Greenday, but I thought it was kind of strange to watch a celebration of New Orlenes and not have some sort of African-American performer involved, considering most of the communities that suffered the most from Katrina and the lack of government support were prodominantly African-American communities. I mean, U2 and Greenday are like two of the whitest bands ever, and while I realize that doesn't exclude African-American audiences from enjoying their music (and I realize the NFL has to be family-friendly since they exposed us all to nipple-gate), I'm just puzzled that some musical-artist-of-color wasn't involved. Even if they had some traditional jazz music, it would have seemed more appropriate.
I was unaware that white people were unaffected by Hurricane Katrina. Ask our own Laura about that. I was also unaware that entertainers need to mirror the ethnicity of their audience and that it's somehow offensive if they don't. Huh. The NFL could have pulled in an all-star team of black artists and they would have just as much to do with New Orleans as Bono. I find it incredibly offensive that my whiteness or Bono's whiteness somehow means we can't really understand Hurricane Katrina and therefore it's inappropriate that we be any part of remembering it.
Imagine if we applied that kind of reasoning everywhere. U2 shouldn't have played the Super Bowl after 9/11 either, since they're not even American. Whitney Houston wouldn't have performed the Super Bowl national anthem in 1991 because, hey, America is mostly white. Tammy Baldwin should be kicked out of Congress because the vast majority of her constituents are straight.
When will people get it through their thick skulls that they can be represented by people who are not exactly like them? I hate to drag MLK into this, aren't we supposed to judge people by their character, not their color? Why do I feel that it's the most "liberal" among us that have yet to grasp that concept?
September 29, 2006
College Football Picks - Week Five
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I was four for five last week and I even got an SEC game right. W00T! However, I was a huge snot about Cal and they deserve an apology from me. Sorry smarties! On to this week.
Wisconsin at Indiana: I thought Wisconsin played Michigan tough last week despite a complete lack of offensive skill players other than QB John Stocco. The defense was impressive and the offense, uh, tried really hard. Big Ten road games are always tough, but this is Indiana we're talking about. The pick: Wisconsin.
Maine at Boston College: What? This isn't a hockey game? Huh. Well, in that case this is easy. The pick: Boston College.
#24 Georgia Tech at #11 Virginia Tech: I know absolutely nothing about the ACC other than they play some wicked basketball. It seems like Virginia Tech is always highly ranked and then they lose to a lesser team and then rebound and beat Miami. My hunch is that Georgia Tech is that lesser team. The pick: Georgia Tech.
#14 Oregon at Arizona State: This is Oregon's first game since Oklahoma. Since they really didn't win, I think they are overranked and are probably on par with a good Arizona State team. It's in Arizona and that tips the scales for me. The pick: Arizona State.
#1 Ohio State at #13 Iowa: Watching the scores every Saturday, I keep seeing Iowa tied or trailing relatively crappy teams, so I just don't buy that they are really that good. I know Iowa is a tough place to play with the pink locker room and all that, but Austin's tough, Ann Arbor's tough, Happy Valley is tough. Hell, even Lafayette is tough and Ohio State gets through that just fine. The pick for a surprisingly easy win: Ohio State.
September 24, 2006
Amazing Race Recap - Episode Two - My Hainag is BROKEN!
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As long-time readers of my recaps know, I love nothing more than an Amazing Race episode that features wacky animal hijinks. Tonight's hijicks were courtesy of some Mongolian ponies and hainags, which are basically ox (so yeah, somewhere out there season five's Colin is curled up in the fetal position muttering "I still hate you").
Much like that ox of lore, the harried hainag picked a worthy target in the detestable Peter. To their credit, although the hainag hurried away from them twice during the Detour, Peter and Sarah recovered nicely to win the leg. My favorite team, Kellie and Jamie, were sadly Philiminated. The friendly cheerleaders found that they could rely on each other, but let's face it, they couldn't find their way out of a cardboard box. I'm not saying the girls are dumb, I'm just saying they failed miserably at the crucial task of self navigation.
Highlights and lowlights of the episode:
- Both the Detour and Roadblock were cool. As I said, wacky animal hijinks are always appreciated, but more importantly all of the tasks had something to do with Mongolian culture, whether it was using the hainags to help gather water, dismantling a tent or, coolest of all, shooting a flaming arrow and igniting a target. Fire is cool!
- Mary can be a complete betch to her husband, but I'm impressed at how excited she is to be doing all of these crazy things and meeting all kinds of folk
- Last week I criticized Tom & Terry for being closed minded about forming friendships with the other teams. Well, now that they're on the race they realize that it's a race and they aren't voting anyone off. They can make friends.
- Of course, it's a race, so you can't stop for your new friends when they have car trouble. I'm sure it's hard and it's probably agonizing for the team having problems, but no one bitched about not getting help from their competitors tonight. That's good, because, you know, it's a race.
- Loved the Mongolian hats/helmets. I want one for the cold Wisconsin winter
- Peter is a complete asshole. He wouldn't lay off Sarah. I think he needs to realize that he's not her coach, he's her teammate (I just don't buy that he's really her boyfriend). To her credit, Sarah's eyes are wide open and I don't think she likes what she sees coming out of Peter now.
- The crappy old Russian military jeeps the teams had to drive around showed once again the kind of workmanship one can expect from a Communist country. Heh. Were we really afraid of these guys?
- Finally, Mongolia! Yay! Although I was disappointed there were no Genghis Khan-related tasks, I was delighted to see the Race come to new country
Next week: Arguing! Bickering! Line cutting! Oh my!!
Can't enough Race talk? Check out Viking Pundit's recap.
September 22, 2006
College Football Picks - Week Four
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This is a hard week folks. Remember that I pick with my head and root with my heart.
Wisconsin at #6 Michigan: Wisconsin has no offense. We couldn't score on San Diego State until the third quarter. Michigan, unfortunately, does have a defense. I think our only hope of winning is to shut Michigan out and return an interception for a touchdown. Seriously. That's not going to happen. It'll be close, but the pick is Michigan.
#22 Arizona State at #21 California: Cal's loss to Tennessee looks worse after the Vols lost at home to Florida last week. Why are they ranked? Oh right, because they were supposed to be good. Supposedto doesn't actually get on the field. The pick: Arizona State.
#24 Penn State at #1 Ohio State: Every team in the Big Ten has their nemesis. A nemesis isn't a rival. Rather, it's that team that no matter how good or bad either of you are, can still kick your ass. Ohio State's nemesis, for example, is Wisconsin. Unfortunately for Penn State, their nemesis is Ohio State. Even more unfortunately for them, Ohio State is really good this year. The pick: Ohio State.
Iowa State at #7 Texas: Iowa State played well against Iowa last week, but Iowa looks overrated. I think Texas is going to get better and better as the season rolls on, but even now, in week four they should roll over Iowa State. The pick: Texas. And doesn't the Big 12 just suck? That whole northern division is just a giant suckfest, which makes their championship game just a farce. I'm so glad the Big Ten has resisted the urge to schedule a championship game.
Alabama at Arkansas: In my continuing effort to correctly pick SEC games, I'll give this one a try. Alabama is lurking just outside the top 25 while Arkansas is near the bottom of the "also receiving votes" list. Arkansas got crushed by USC, but both teams beat Vanderbilt by similar margins. If you use Vandy as the yardstick, this should be a tight, exciting game. But it's in Clinton country, so the pick is: Arkansas.
September 18, 2006
To Shake Or Not To Shake
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Last night on the Amazing Race, two Muslim contestants refused to shake hands with some female fellow Racers. As a woman, this really ticked me off. But, as an American who has been taught to be "tolerant" I felt guilty for feeling that way. So the question is, should I be tolerant of sexist behavior done in the name of religion?
The men in question were perfectly polite, but this isn't about them. It's about whether I should be tolerant of a religious practice that I think is intolerant. I was reading about exactly why Muslims don't shake hands with women. I found a few things like this article on Muslims in the workplace and these opinions of four imans on the subject. Apologists of this custom insist that it's a sign of respect for women. To that I say "bull". It's not about respecting women, it's about treating women as vessels of temptation. As one of the imans says:
For one of you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle is better for him than that he should touch a woman who is not permissible for him." Narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, 486. Shaykh al-Albaani said in Saheeh al-Jaami', 5045, that this hadeeth is saheeh. This hadeeth alone is sufficient to deter and to instill the obedience required of us by Allaah, because it implies that touching women may lead to temptation and immorality.
You don't show respect for women by treating them as purely objects of potential sexual desire that must be repressed. You show respect for women by treating us as individuals.
Not surprisingly, Television Without Pity has an interesting discussion on the topic. One poster compared Muslims refusing to shake hands with women to Jews refusing to eat pork. And that right there illustrates why I'm apparently so intolerant of this religious belief. It's one thing to discriminate against pork. I'm sure the pigs don't mind. It's another to treat one half of humanity like second class citizens. That, I mind.
September 17, 2006
Amazing Race Recap-Episode 1-Where's Your Allah Now?
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In an Amazing Race first, two teams were Philiminated in the premiere episode. First, Muslim buddies Bilal & Sa'eed bit the dust and then the adorable married couple Vipul & Arti lost their way in the streets of Beijing and came into the Pit Stop in last place.
I'm glad Bilal & Sa'eed are gone because I'm sick to death of reality TV show contestants thinking that God or Allah or whatever deity gives a damn about game show outcomes. He doesn't. On the other hand, I'm bummed about Vipul & Arti. It's refreshing to see a non-bickering couple on this show.
Rather than recapping the various detours and roadblocks. Here's my take on the ten remaining teams.
David & Mary: I kind of like Team Kentucky. Actually, I like Mary. She obviously hasn't traveled very much (never outside of Tennessee or Kentucky before), yet here she is in a cab in China hassling the driver, in Chinese, to go faster. She's a quick study.
Duke & Lauren: Team Weepy. Duke literally started crying in the pre-show interview because he's so disappointed that Lauren is gay. Lauren started crying well her totally fit Dad climbed up a wall. Enough with the crying! There's no crying on the Amazing Race! Lauren seems okay, but I don't know about Duke. You just don't tell a national TV audience how disappointed you are with your daughter.
Dustin & Kandace: Team Pageant. These two blondies could be okay. They got lost but they didn't really play the "oh poor us, some men please save us" card. I respect that.
Erwin & Godwin: Team Overachievers. These two brothers were so sure that they were so smart and so athletic that the Race would just be a breeze. It was kind of ironic to see the two Asian-American brothers shouting for English speakers on the streets of Beijing. I think they got a slice of humble pie. I think they'll be okay.
Kellie & Jamie: Team Rah Rah. I think these South Carolina cheerleaders are my favorite team so far. Really. They were good natured and enthusiastic. Plus, I really would like to see an all-girl team do well and I'm not holding out much hope for Team Pageant.
Lyn & Karlyn: Team Single Moms. The moms showed a lot of grit and determination throughout the leg. They rarely got things right immediately, but they didn't panic. They didn't complain (that much). Instead, they just corrected their mistakes, redoubled their efforts and finished the job. Good for them.
Peter & Sarah: Team Ironman. So Sarah has one leg and she's all about proving that she can do anything able-bodied people can. At the same time, she and Peter are all about using her disability to get advantages like pre-boarding airplanes and finding sympathetic cabbies. You can't have it both ways. Well, I guess you can, but it's going to make me root against you.
Rob & Kimberly: Team Bicker. Here's this year's token bickering couple. Ugh. I've had enough of these. The only way I find them entertaining is if I imagine that every time Rob calls Kimberly "Babe" he's really saying "Harpy" and everytime Kimberly calls Rob "Babe" she really means "Asshole". Try it. It makes watching them much more fun.
Tom & Terry: Team Boyfriends. What an annoying team. Their pre-race interview was all about how they weren't going to make friends with other teams. Now, I agree that that's not the point, but why not open yourselves up to the possibility of some friendships? I think it's weird that they're setting out to distance themselves from other people. Embrace the possibilities guys!
Tyler & James: Team Addiction. Okay, who else cracked up when these guys were introduced as "Recovering Drug Addicts/Models". That's the best team description since Millie & Chucks "Dating 10 Years/Virgins". So yeah, these guys are young and athletic. They'll probably win. They seem a little humorless, however. I know lots of people hated The Hippies and the Frats from last year, but all of those guys had at least a little spark of humor. More of that, please.
So, TAR fans, who do you like? Who do you think will win? Who will be Philiminated next? And, be sure to check out Viking Pundit's recap.
September 15, 2006
College Football Picks - Week Three
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Last week I was a stellar 4 for 5. Of course, I completely choked on the SEC game. Someday I'll figure out that conference. Probably not today, but someday, and soon.
#15 Oklahoma at #18 Oregon: I like the Ducks, mostly because famous racehorse owners Bob & Beverly Lewis went to school there and use the school colors for their silks. I don't mind Oklahoma since some old neighbors of mine lived there and they were literally the nicest people alive. Anyway, to the game. The Sooners' RB Adrian Peterson is apparently living up to his Heisman hype. If you have a strong running game you can win anywhere, especially in Eugene, where I suspect the ghost of Pre smiles down on anyone breaking into a run. The pick: Oklahoma.
#6 LSU at #3 Auburn: Last Bowl season, the Badgers crushed Auburn. Because of that, I just can't believe that they are really the third best team in the country. I know this game is at Auburn and I shouldn't do this, but I think LSU is going to spring the minor upset. Being from Louisiana, the team should know how to deal with adversity. The pick: LSU
San Diego State at Wisconsin: Wisconsin's P.J. Hill will run it up the gut and by the middle of the third quarter San Diego State will be ready to go back to their beautiful hometown. I'll be ready to Jump Around. The pick: Wisconsin.
#11 Michigan at #2 Notre Dame: Notre Dame has been overrated for so many years. I think people are trying to compensate for that now. The result is that I think they might be underrated this year. Michigan, on the other hand, thinks they found some revolutionary new theory of football that involves running the ball a lot. Yeah, no one has ever thought of doing that before. Leave it to those brains in Ann Arbor. I think Notre Dame stuffs Hart and Brady Quinn has a huge game. The pick: Notre Dame.
#7 Florida at #13 Tennessee: Is this the game that is supposed to include the world's biggest cocktail party? If so, that's false advertising. Clearly the world's biggest cocktail party takes place at my Thursday night kickball games. Anyway...Tennessee looked great against Cal in week one, but pretty ordinary last week. I'd pick against them with the thought that Cal really sucks and are not a good barometer of quality, but it's the SEC, so I'm going to do the opposite of what I think and see if that works. The pick: Tennessee.
September 11, 2006
Your 9/11 Stories
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On 9/11/2001 I was still at home when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center. I had had a bat in my apartment a few weeks earlier, so I was still having some problems sleeping. I felt more at ease with some noise in my house, so I kept my TV on all night. That morning, I remember getting out of the shower and glancing at the TV and since I didn't have my contacts in yet, all I could make out was a building with smoke coming out of it. My first thought was that the Pope had died and smoke was coming out of St. Peter's. What a bizarre thought. Anyway, I pretty quickly figured out what was going on.
I worked in a small town outside of Madison and it took me 30-45 minutes to drive to work. While I was driving, both towers fell. I couldn't believe what I was hearing on the radio and I couldn't wait to be around other people so I could talk about it. I was so happy to be working in the relative safety of Wisconsin.
I feel bad saying it, but 9/11 was an exciting day. I never thought "exciting" could be a bad word until then. But it was. I remember calling BV and asking him if he was relieved that this didn't happen on his birthday (9/10). He was having none of that kind of talk. He was ready for vengeance. My Dad was a little bit more cautious. I guess that's the difference between someone who grew up in WWII and someone who thought they might be experiencing the start of WWIII.
I actually remember the days after 9/11 so much more than that morning. I remember taking part in a candlelight vigil at my sister's house. She didn't know her neighbors that well, but that night it didn't matter. I remember that I still kept my TV on all night. Not because I was afraid of bats, but rather I was afraid of what was going to happen next.
I remember that Fox News had about 10 different things scrolling across the bottom of the screen. One of them was items that workers needed. I still get angry when I think about that. The company I worked for at the time sold ALL of that stuff, but they refused to donate anything. This weekend I saw a story on 60 minutes about how 9/11 workers are having all kinds of respiratory issues. My old employer sold hundreds and hundreds of dust/mist respirators. Right after 9/11 everyone wanted to do something to help and it kills me that they could have done something so tangible and didn't.
So that's where and what I was doing that day. What about you?
September 10, 2006
Who's to Blame for 9/11?
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With Dems in an uproar about ABC's "Path to 9/11" show tonight, I thought it'd be a good time to review who we should be pointing our fingers at with regards to 9/11. Bill Clinton, complete with a blue dress-clad Monica Lewinsky in his lap, didn't ram a plane into the World Trade Center. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove didn't plan the whole thing one night in order to further their plans to steal all the world's oil. The people responsible for 9/11 are Osama bin Laden, the 19 hijackers, and the rest of AQ.
As much as I despised Clinton's foreign policy team, I find it hard to get too upset at them over 9/11. The American people didn't give a crap about fighting terrorism in the 1990s either. We didn't think that the first World Trade Center bombing was a big deal. The African embassy bombings didn't really concern us. Oh sure, it would have been nice to catch the guys who did it, but it wasn't a national priority. We didn't really care. At the time, our government was doing exactly what we wanted them to: not much.
If the CIA had snatched OBL from Afghanistan, the Left would have been up in arms about Clinton's "irresponsible unilateral action" while the Right would have sneered about how this was just a distraction from the real issue: whether or not Clinton lied about getting it on with everyone's favorite trashy intern.
Why is it so difficult to understand that 9/11 changed everything. I don't think we should judge either the Clinton or Bush administration's actions through post-9/11 lens. That's not to say we should ignore their inaction, but rather that we should remember that our world was forever divided five years ago into "before" and "after".
September 08, 2006
College Football Picks - Week Two
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College football kind of snuck up on me this year. Suddenly it was Labor Day and Florida State and Miami were staging another epic snoozefest. Where's summer B?
Anyway, welcome to another year of college football picks. Here we go:
#18 Clemson at Boston College: Clemson, the most maddeningly inconsistent team in college football is ranked after losing 4-year starter QB Charlie Whitehurst. Huh. BC is lurking just outside the top 25. While the Eagles couldn't get 'err done in hockey (HA!) they will here at home. The pick: Boston College.
#19 Penn State at #4 Notre Dame: I'm no Notre Dame backer, but the comments after their win last week were ridiculous. The Fighting Irish were getting knocked for beating an almost-ranked Georgia Tech team on the road in their season opener. Hey people: they won. Penn State strikes me as an overranked team with no offense and no defense. Hey, what a combo! The pick: Notre Dame.
#12 Georgia at South Carolina: First, a word of caution - I seem to have a really hard time picking SEC games. That said, Georgia played 3, count 'em 3, QBs last week. That's a recipe for disaster and controversy. I stay from teams like that like the plague that they are. South Carolina, on the other hand, is one of those teams poised to spring a big upset. I think they will. The pick: South Carolina.
Western Illinois at Wisconsin: Yeah, so we scheduled a patsy. It happens. We need a blowout to practice our cheers. "O Sucks!". The pick: Wisconsin.
#1 Ohio State at #2 Texas: This is it. Saturday is the night of nights. Last year, Ohio State absolutely should have won, but for some poor clock management (as an aside, name me a college coach who has good clock management skills, they all seem to suck, don't they?). I'm sure Austin is a tough place to play, but so are Happy Valley, Ann Arbor, Iowa and Madison and Ohio State handles that just fine (well, except for the Madison part ;-). Here's what I think. Ohio State should have an explosive offense and Texas, like everyone else in their conference, has a suspect defense. Defense doesn't win championships. Scoring more points than the other team wins championships. And it'll win this blowout. The pick: Ohio State.
September 06, 2006
It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
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Are you ready for some football. I hope your answer is "hell yeah" or you, mister, are in the wrong place. I'm more than ready. While college football is my true love, I'm going to wait until Friday to unveil a new season of bad picks. With the pros starting tomorrow, I want to see who you all think is going to win the Super Bowl:
I picked the teams with the lowest odds in Vegas. We'll see what they know.
September 03, 2006
What a Conservative Isn't
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As a conservative, not a Republican, I deal with a lot of misconceptions about what a conservative really is. Too many people think conservatives are religious. That they're devoted to tough "law and order" policies. That they want to impose their morals on society. But the most common misconception of conservatives is that they think people are generally rotten. As a commentor over on Althouse says:
The reason why more conspiracy theorists are from the left is because it is a common notion on the left that man is generally "good" except for the elites, who are evil. Therefore those on the left support things like voting without ID, because they assume the evil elites are trying to thwart the good intentions of the comman citizen. Along the same lines, those on the left will excuse "evil behavior" by non elites as being a product of social ills (caused by elites) and not of the individual. In contrast, conservatives generally believe all people are sinners, which is why we need rules and regulations to keep all people honest.
I think he has it backwards. True conservatives don't want more regulations, they want less. In some cases, sure, they're counting on the market, not the best intentions of man, to hold things together. But other conservative policies clearly depend on the "better angels of our nature". Think about it. Liberals want to take your money and redistribute it as they, the elite, see fit. Conservatives want to let you keep your money and trust that you will use it wisely. Liberals want to use the law to shape society because they're sure people won't do the right thing on their own (example--affirmative action). Liberal educators don't just want to teach reading, writing & arithmetic, they want to affect children's worldview. Conservatives would reserve that right for parents.
I'm not sure that liberals think that people are rotten, but I do think many of them believe that people are stupid and can't be trusted. True conservative policy, on the other hand, depends on the belief that people are smart enough to act in their own best interests and good enough to be valuable members of a loosely ruled society.