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Friday, October 28, 2005

OK, I'm Awake

Personally, I think a grown man who goes by the name "Scooter" should be indicted just for that. But I think it was inappropriate for the White House to break his legs as punishment.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

CIA Leak, Blah Blah

Wake me when someone gets indicted.

Sheryl Swoopes

Apparently the WNBA MVP has something in common with many of the league's fans: she's a lesbian!

The poor league, what are they to do?

The news could be particularly perplexing for the WNBA, which has struggled to both recognize the homosexual element connected to its league and grow its fan base. Ironically, in its infancy, the WNBA marketed a pregnant, married Swoopes to put a heterosexual face on its promotional campaign. Now the league, which will play its 10th season next summer, has to decide what to do now that one of its best and most recognizable players has announced she's gay.

I don't know, maybe they should just fold up the league and all go find Jesus.

That silly passage I blockquoted reflects an unfortunate reality about the mass marketing of women's pro sports. The only way they can get attention is through either a battle-of-the-sexes dynamic (see: Annika Sorenstam playing the men) or raw sex appeal (see: Anna Kournikova). The patriotism angle can work in things like the Olympics and World Cup, and in artsy non-sports like figure skating the ladies can do well for themselves too. But for pure physical ability and skill, it is generally preferable to watch sports played by men rather than women, and the free market abundantly reflects that.

Women's basketball isn't so exciting because the players' athleticism is equivalent to watching guys in a JV high school game, and nothing can be done about that. So we end up with silly WNBA advertisements featuring Tina Thompson in a cocktail dress. In a perfect world, athletes' sexual preferences would be part of the personal information consumers don't need to know anything about in order to enjoy the product. But the marketing of women's basketball is far from achieving this ideal due to the product reality. The result is people will be interested in Sheryl Swoopes and the sexuality of other players.

Still, in light of the marginal status of the WNBA and the different locker room environment facing women as opposed to men, this is nothing close to as significant as a major male athlete coming out. When that happens, it will be very interesting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Where's My Check, Technorati?

My blog is worth $6,774.48.
How much is your blog worth?

Via Pops, who is worth more. Of course he has to pay for a domain, so it all evens out.

What to Make of the Fed Appointment?

Reading the Washington Post is plenty confusing on this one. Jonathan Weisman's article on A4 Tuesday, headlined "Bernanke Seen as Safe Pick For a White House in Straits" begins:

In nominating Ben S. Bernanke as the next Federal Reserve Board chairman, President Bush turned to a candidate for the job with unassailable credentials and enough distance from the White House to blunt charges of cronyism or ideological motivations, former White House officials and economists said yesterday.

Clearly E.J. Dionne ("No Job for an Ideologue") isn't a former White House official or economist:

You'd hope that the new chairman of the Federal Reserve Board would learn not only from Alan Greenspan's successes but also from his failures. There is reason to worry that having a Fed chairman so close to President Bush's policymaking apparatus will give us something other than the best of these two worlds.

So is Bernanke too close to the White House and too ideological, or a choice that avoids these pitfalls? Hell if I know! It's too bad monetary policy is so dull because this crap really is important.

NFL on TV Follies

I know no one cares, but the Washington, DC, NFL TV situation seems designed to drive me insane. Yesterday I was treated to the Redskins pasting of the 49ers at 1pm (wow, San Francisco really does suck!), while CBS, which had yesterday's doubleheader rights went with ... infomercials. Almost as exciting as the Steelers-Bengals or Eagles-Chargers games, really.

At 4pm, magically, CBS picked up the Eagles-Chargers game with a few minutes left, but cut away from that with Philly facing a 4th down play late to go to commercials and then the 4:15 start of the Bears-Ravens slugfest. I missed the crazy ending in Philadelphia so that I could be shown Jamal Lewis getting stuffed repeatedly--thanks. And this switching all happened with no announcement as to what the hell was happening. Who has the idea of just showing a few minutes of the fourth quarter of a game in a major TV market as a broadcasting strategy?

Add to this the Miami-KC game being moved to Friday, the lack of a Sunday night game and the Patriots bye and it seemed a rather empty NFL Sunday to me. At least the World Series was good fun last night and now I'm enjoying the demise of the Jets, so all is not lost.

Hush that fuss

Wouldn't it be odd if you were famous for refusing to give up your seat on a bus 50 years ago? My steadfast refusal to yield my seat on the Metro fails to generate so much attention for some reason. In any event, cheers to Rosa Parks and her contribution to making ours a better society.

Even if she did sue Outkast.

I'm still alive, thanks for asking.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Voice Transplants Needed

With Thom Brennaman and Kenny Albert both working the NLCS for Fox, is the network trying to have the most nasal-sounding broadcast team ever?

Pigskin Prudes

Who cares if the Minnesota Vikings want to go have themselves a sex party on a lake? Like you could resist all the women throwing themselves at you if you were a pro athlete. Doing this in public was probably a bad call, I agree, and prostitution is illegal in Minnesota as far as I know, but I wish people would stop pretending to be so shocked by stuff like this. Does the Gold Club ring a bell?

Still, this comes nowhere close to the Baltimore Ravens, where the defensive leader served time in conjunction with a guy being killed a few years back, and the running back was in the joint in the offseason for drug trafficking. Not surprisingly, the Ravens seem to be struggling to follow the rules of football, not just the rules of society, these days.

Theocracy in the USA

What the hell is the White House doing?

I would understand the Miers religion emphasis if it were to please the base, but even a lot of conservatives seem pissed off by this. Josh Marshall notes the irony of the US effort to replace theocracy with democracy in the Middle East while we do the reverse at home.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

QotD: Earthquake Estimates

Who comes up with these estimates of how many people died in the earthquake? How can they have any idea what the number is?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Delay the ALCS

So says Buster Olney in an ESPN Insider piece that I can't read beyond the first few paragraphs.

No matter who wins Game 5 between the Angels and Yankees, they will go into the American League Championship Series on fumes. Both teams will play deep into Monday night, probably exhaust their bullpens, and at about 2 a.m. ET, either the Yankees or the Angels will jet to Chicago, where they will have about three winks worth of sleep before starting the ALCS against the White Sox.

Of course no delay will happen because the TV people have long since decided when the games will take place. You have to like Chicago's chances to grab a lead in the series.

Peter King also lit into the New Orleans Saints for giving up 52 points (and more generally giving up) against Green Bay:

I'll puke if I hear one media guy say, "Well, of course they struggled for the last month and got waxed in Green Bay; what do you expect from a team that's been made a bunch of orphans because of the hurricane?" Wait: I just puked. Chris Berman said: "The Saints are going to have some days like this. They're only human." Professional humans, Chris. Don't give me that crap about it being okay to lose by 49 to a winless team. I don't care if they've got home games in the Himalayas. No team, and I mean no team, should have put on a horsecrap performance like the Saints put on.

Chris Berman is embarrassing to watch these days. He made a painfully bad "brick in the wall" reference during his "Swami" segment on SportsCenter last week, and I think I would sue if I were Pink Floyd.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Tom and Drew, Together Again

Brady and Bledsoe are currently the top two vote getters in ESPN.com's "Sunday Stud" poll.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Harriet's Man Friend

Gee, the conservatives can't be too pleased that Harriet Miers decided not to get married in order to pursue her career, can they?

Some of their associates and friends bristle at the suggestion that their romantic life has become a matter of public discussion and, in particular, at the suggestion that Miers might have sacrificed love for her career.

"Why hasn't she ever gotten married? I don't know the answer to that," said Jerry Clements, a woman who worked with Miers at Locke Liddell & Sapp, the law firm where Miers spent most of her career. "If this was a man, no one would ask that question."

But Sharon Baird, a friend of Miers since they both played on the tennis team at Hillcrest High in Dallas, called Miers' life decisions "very European."

Europeans "put a lot of emphasis on love and not so much on marriage," she said. "It's a New Age thing. Much like Oprah. She never married either."

Very European! New Age! So much for protecting traditional values, I guess--maybe Harriet isn't so bad after all.

Friday, October 07, 2005

QotD: October Rain

Question of the day: what do they do if there's a baseball playoff game rained out? This must have happened some time in the past, though no instances of playoff rainouts come to mind for me at least.

It's supposed to be rainy in Boston tomorrow as the monsoon we currently have here in DC moves northward. Hopefully there will actually be a game to be played up in Boston tomorrow.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Harriet Miers and School Snobbery

Zoe Kentucky at Demagogue links to Liquid List's list of where all of the SCOTUS justices went to college and law school compared to Harriet Miers, with the US News school rankings in parentheses:

Roberts: Harvard (1), Harvard (2)
Stevens: University of Chicago (15), Northwestern (10)
O’Connor: Stanford (5), Stanford (3)
Scalia: Georgetown (23), Harvard (2)
Kennedy: Stanford (5), Harvard (2)
Souter: Harvard (1), Harvard (2)
Thomas: Holy Cross (32), Yale (1)
Ginsberg: Cornell (13), Harvard (2)
Breyer: Stanford (5), Harvard (2)

And from nominee Miers's bio, the comparison: Southern Methodist University (71), Southern Methodist University (52)

Why does school snobbery matter here? Ann Coulter had an interesting explanation as to why exposure to high-level liberal academia is important for a conservative Court nominee:

Third and finally, some jobs are so dirty, you can only send in someone who has the finely honed hatred of liberals acquired at elite universities to do them. The devil is an abstraction for normal, decent Americans living in the red states. By contrast, at the top universities, you come face to face with the devil every day, and you learn all his little tropes and tricks.

Conservatives from elite schools have already been subjected to liberal blandishments and haven't blinked. These are right-wingers who have fought off the best and the brightest the blue states have to offer. The New York Times isn't going to mau-mau them – as it does intellectual lightweights like Jim Jeffords and Lincoln Chafee – by dangling fawning profiles before them. They aren't waiting for a pat on the head from Nina Totenberg or Linda Greenhouse. To paraphrase Archie Bunker, when you find a conservative from an elite law school, you've really got something.

I was surprised to see this piece of seemingly-pertinent analysis from Coulter, who generally sticks to the insults (she does harp on Miers being "the first woman commissioner of the Texas Lottery").

The subject matter of this post gives me an excuse to link Malcolm Gladwell on elite university admissions as brand management. It's worth a read.

Finally, I enjoyed seeing Joel Achenbach making fun of George Will's column:

Early Afternoon Update from the Java House Bureau: Just read the George Will column, which is a marvel, his outrage inspiring an efflorescence of volubility (EOV) that never stumbles into loquaciousness or the related evil known as prolixity.

Here's a key paragraph: "It is important that Miers not be confirmed unless, in her 61st year, she suddenly and unexpectedly is found to have hitherto undisclosed interests and talents pertinent to the court's role. Otherwise the sound principle of substantial deference to a president's choice of judicial nominees will dissolve into a rationalization for senatorial abdication of the duty to hold presidents to some standards of seriousness that will prevent them from reducing the Supreme Court to a private plaything useful for fulfilling whims on behalf of friends."

See, too much book-learnin' can be a bad thing if it goes to your head. Interesting the Post employs a blogger who mocks the paper's columnists on its own web site. Joel is pretty funny on TimesSelect today too, check him out.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bad News for the NHL

I didn't realize the NHL regular season starts tonight until about 3:00 this afternoon when I went to ESPN.com. This does not bode well for the sport's comeback, since I am the kind of person who would know this sort of thing, even if I'm not that big a hockey fan.

Also, NHL is no longer on ESPN but the Outside Life Network (OLN)--just a slightly less well-known cable channel, which you've probably only watched to see the Tour de France (if at all). Now I won't even end up watching a few moments of hockey by mistake when I turn on ESPN/ESPN2 and see the players skating by, as I used to do from time to time. I don't think OLN is on my cable system down here in DC.

This situation should, at least, provide an interesting case study on the attempted reemergence of a sport after a year is washed away in labor troubles. I fear hockey may have been so far down in people's sports-viewing priorities that it has now fallen off the radar entirely and won't be able to come back. As I've written before, hockey has suffered in recent years because, despite being a wonderful game to go watch in person, it sucks on TV.

Who knows, maybe the rule changes will make a difference that will get people to pay attention. The Olympics should also generate some excitement that may translate back to the NHL.

Roberts on Assisted Suicide

Newly installed Chief Justice John Roberts on Wednesday sharply questioned a lawyer arguing for preservation of Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law, noting the federal government's tough regulation of addictive drugs.

This is hardly a surprise, and I look forward to John Roberts finally revealing his positions on key issues in the course of the coming term. Too bad he couldn't be on the record with much of anything when he was actually in the process of being confirmed.

I wonder if Harriet Miers even has firm positions on all of this stuff, as Roberts clearly did but just refused to share at the hearings.

This Still Counts as Tuesday

I promised to blog every day of October so I can't let October 4 be the day I break the promise.

I didn't make it over to the ESPN Zone for the Bill Simmons book signing earlier tonight, but it must have been a rather somber atmosphere in light of that whacking the Red Sox were taking at the time.

That's all I got for now, just wanted to get poor Harriet's picture off the top of the page.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Greetings, Earthlings

Wow, Harriet Miers is scary looking.

Do you think she feels jealous of John Roberts getting a primetime announcement when all she gets is 8am? This coming up made it more difficult than usual for me to get up and out this morning.

I promise more hard-hitting Miers nomination coverage is forthcoming here!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Great Blackout of 2005

As you may recall, I ended yesterday's posting by saying I was headed out to a sports bar to watch Red Sox-Yankees since Fox in DC was showing the Nationals game instead. As it turned out, bars couldn't get the Boston-New York game via satellite either. Even the designated Red Sox bar in Georgetown had plenty of angry people in Jason Varitek jerseys but no game on the big screen. I left before things got ugly there, only to have a similar lack of luck at other watering holes. Based on the outcome, I guess it's just as well that I missed the game yesterday.

This was an interesting experience, though. It strikes me that Fox has no satellite arrangement for the showing of out-of-market games during its regional coverage. This probably is the case because the only time a baseball game of the week generates this kind of interest is the last weekend of the season, and there's not much reason to make the games available on such a one-off basis, especially now that people can watch the games by subscription on their computers or listen on satellite radio or use GameCast or whatever.

So with ESPN covering Friday and Sunday, I saw two of the three this weekend, including today's anticlimactic finale. Cleveland's epic choke job ensured that what I predicted would come to pass: both the Yankees and Red Sox in the playoffs. I also never realized that a tie in the division would go to the winner of the season series (Yankees 10-9 this year), and yesterday thus caught me a bit by surprise when the Yankees were celebrating up by a game with one game to go.

Winning the division would have been nice, but also as I noted the other day, getting the White Sox is a better draw, both in terms of travel and the relative hotness of the opponent compared to the Angels. Much as I hope the Los Angeles/Anaheim/California franchise can repeat its ALDS feat of three years ago, I have a feeling we're headed for another Boston-New York ALCS.

On the other side, I'll go with Houston over Atlanta and St. Louis over San Diego, followed by another Cardinals defeat of the Astros in the NLCS. (When was the last time the ALCS and NLCS were the same matchups in consecutive years? Seems too unlikely to predict this, but what the hell.) In the World Series, I foresee St. Louis over New York. You can laugh at me when this turns out completely wrong.

Another thought I had today was how the Red Sox and Patriots, despite the overwhelming success of both the last few years, seem to have bad news when the other has good news, as if intentionally to temper the mood of the Boston sports fan. It can't be an entirely good day when the Patriots are blown out at home to lose their home win streak, even if the Red Sox clinched a playoff berth today. This reminds me of the Patriots losing their streak in Pittsburgh last Halloween, just days after the Red Sox won the World Series.

Not many football thoughts right now, as baseball has dominated the sports weekend, but I must remark on the amazing similarity between the USC-Arizona State game yesterday and the Philaelphia-Kansas City game today. I missed the first halves of both and was clueless as to how the Sun Devils and Chiefs actually built leads to begin with.

Both the Sunday night and Monday night NFL games suck this week. How did the league convince 100,000 Mexican people to go watch the 49ers and Cardinals tonight?

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Wake Me Up When September Ends

OK, September has ended, and I'm back. I intend to blog every day in October--we'll see if I can pull it off.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go visit the sports bar thanks to the Nationals being the Fox game in DC today, not Sox-Yankees. I'm not angry since I completely understand the local team being the game here, I just wish there were a way that both could be on.

What a Pickler!

The infamous Nedra Pickler is back with a background piece about CIA leaker Lewis Libby, stupidly entitled "Libby Is to Cheney What Cheney Is to Bush." Funny, I thought Andy Card was the president's chief of staff. Or is Libby vice-vice-president? So confusing.

Blogging of those NYT columns...

...Bill O'Reilly doesn't like the negative tone of the post-Katrina commentary, giving the Times his Most Ridiculous Item distinction on last night's program:

One month ago today, Hurricane Katrina (search) hit, and since then the wind has been unbelievable in the media. Just for fun, I had the "Factor" research staff check out to see just how many anti-Bush editorials and op-eds The New York Times has printed since the storm blew in. The number is 53. There have been 53 anti-Bush columns in the New York Times (search) in a month.

My question to that paper is why bother? Why not just put the bold letters up on the editorial pages, "We hate Bush." You don't need any back up. You hate him, we got it.

My guess as to why they "bother", Bill, is that some media outlets prefer to try to present reasoned arguments with evidence, rather than resort to pure demagoguery. Katrina has been the dominant news story of the past month, and the Bush admin botched it disastrously, hence there are many unflattering commentary pieces on Bush and the storm response. This is far from surprising.

Ways Around TimesSelect

If you want to see Tom Friedman's Wednesday column, just have a look at Thursday's San Jose Mercury News, which reprinted the same column. You can also see the Thursday Bob Herbert column here. That one's via E&P, which reports I'm not the only one trying to get the Times columns for free.

UPDATE: Today's Dowd column ("A wolfie in sheep's clothing"), via a Technorati search. This stuff isn't so hard to come across, good luck to the NYT in trying to stop it!