Saturday, March 19, 2011

Play the Board Game First...

Was Monopoly really designed to teach people about the Evils of Capitalism?

(H/T Five Feet of Fury)

On Counting Chickens Before They Hatch...

Call it The Audacity of Golf.

I read that this morning and tried to remember just how it was that we arrived at this sorry state of affairs. When I finally did, I decided the best thing to do was to get drunk in an effort to forget, but then remembered that I don't really drink, anymore. Maybe I'll take up heroin?

President O-Blah-Blah is really not up to this job. Personally, I think he's wanted to quit for quite some time, and I thought to myself that this is what happens when you elect an inexperienced person with no real qualifications to do such an important job, and then are stupid enough to believe that he might, at least, give it the Ol' College Try.

Or at least appear to be trying.

And then I had another thought (that's three in one day! Someone make it stop!) regarding some of the navel-gazing that's going on vis-a-vis the 2012 GOP nomination, and one Marco Rubio.

If I have to listen to one more 'conservative' (by the way, they don't exist anymore) scream the name 'Marco Rubio' in a presidential context this week, I'm going to start shooting people. Marco Rubio got elected to the Senate like five minutes ago, and his instant branding as Presidential Timber reminds one of the same 'conservative' ecstasy over Senator Scott Brown two years ago. Brown turned out to be just another politician --even if he was against ObamaCare.

I mean, really, you at least squeeze the bread, smell the melon, and kick the tires before you buy stuff, right? I'll bet more people put more effort and thought into buying a new cellphone then they do into their decision to pick a President.

How about we stop anointing people this-that-or-the-other before they've proven themselves? If there's anything we should have learned over the last three years, it's that jumping on the band wagons of the Tabula Rasa class of politicians -- just because they aren't part of the Washington Establishment -- sometimes just doesn't work, no matter how good it sounds? That's how we got Barry Soetoro, the Great (half-) White Dope, after all.

Just ask Ambassador John Bolton, who should be someone's Secretary of State one day, about what happens when your current Secretary of State is, like her boss, without the right experience and temperament for the job at hand. Being able to roll over and ask Bill for advice (assuming he isn't already sharing his bed with something with a barely-discernible pulse and room-temperature IQ) is not a qualification for anything, either.

If Barack Hussein Odouchebag has proven anything it's that when you elect your leadership based on the Cult of Personality rather than upon solid qualifications, you end up with a lot more to complain about and your quality of life simply shrinks under the oppressive cloud of stupidity and apathy.

Was there really anything in B.O..'s past that led you to believe he was going to fix the national economy? Was there anything there to instill confidence in his leadership skills? Did he display an extraordinary grasp of the truths of the modern world? Or were you simply desperate enough that anyone who had no discernible connection to what had gone on before in the previous two decades of American political life seemed that much a better choice? Even if he had spent a whole year-and-a-half voting "Present' on the great issues of the day, and had a Walking Menstrual Cycle of a wife (who probably gives him his orders) you'd like to feed to the wild boars one piece at a time?

Granted, the alternatives weren't all that much to write home about, either. Here were your choices in 2008:

A) Aging Cold-Warrior-Fence-Straddler with the Sexy Poster Girl for Pro Choice Governor (before she quit) of a State with More Polar Bears than People in tow. John McCain couldn't find his own ass with both hands, on a good day, and Sarah Palin finally found hers when Katie Couric and Charles Gibson (no shining lights, themselves) handed it to her on national television.

B) Carpetbagging, media-proclaimed Smartest Woman in the World who somehow didn't know her husband was screwing everything within range of his crotch, and the rancid smell of corruption clinging to every business venture in her life A woman who was so unacquainted with truth and candor that she felt compelled to invent an easily-disprovable yarn about how her parents came to decide her name?

By the way, on the subject of Hillary, Chris Matthews is getting all tingly again. My, how fickle that man can be.

That's what we had to choose from, so I guess I can see why Obama was, in retrospect, so attractive to so many dingbats. I guess they'd figure he'd grow into the job, but it's apparent that now that he has it, he doesn't want it anymore. Being President is hard work and people expect you to, you know, do stuff.

So don't give me the Marco Rubio/Paul Ryan/Eric Cantor bullshit. Those guys are in the same boat; they talk a good game, but what have they actually done, and in those achievements, can you show me something that is even remotely a qualification for POTUS? Give that crowd some more time to season -- and us more time to figure out who and what they are -- before you start putting them on national ballots.

Otherwise, you end up with a President who leaves the business of governing to the Senate and House leadership (and we see how well that's worked out), or to a bewildering array of non-elected Unknowns, and then goes on vacation every time there's an oil spill, natural disaster, war, revolution, economic emergency, or when the wife decides it's time they went to a sunny beach someplace, and took 1,000 sycophants along for the ride.

I do a lot of Obama bashing here, I admit, and I know some readers get upset over it. I want you to know that it isn't because I think Barack Obama is a bad man, it's because he's an extremely ineffectual President. I wasn't happy when he was elected, but I thought it was at least a shining moment for America, and the man had enough trouble heaped upon his plate to at least be given the benefit of the doubt. He lost that benefit the day the word ObamaCare entered the lexicon, which was like, four days after the inauguration.

It took 16 months to eventually pass that legislation, and it's been a year since it has passed, and still, no one can explain it. Fiscal year 2010 went by without a budget bill for 2011, and I'm still waiting to hear if there's going to be one coming from the White House for 2012. The national debt has nearly tripled. Unemployment is still over 10%, regardless of what the media tells you. We're still in two wars, and now have taken on a third in Libya. And I can't recall a single accomplishment of the Obama Administration since ObamaCare (a dubious one) that is actually worth a bucket of warm spit.

Gays can serve openly in the military? Yay.

A trillion-dollar stimulus which has turned out to largely be a waste of money? I'm astounded.

Naming over-budget, barley-used train stations after Joe Biden? Stop! I can't take no more!

Filing a lawsuit against BP in the teeth of one of the greatest industrial disasters in recent memory? Pure genius!

A Michelle Obama diet plan for the nation's chubby youth? My, our cups runneth over.

This is why you have to carefully weigh whether or not your candidates are truly up to the task of governing, and shouldn't be so easily seduced by the mere appearance of leadership without anything to suggest even the substance of it.

The Sun, The Moon and the Stars.,.

The moon tonight will be the closest to Earth than it has been in the last 18 years,and will also be full this evening. Some advice, Gentlemen: Chill some wine, or warm some cocoa, set out a couple of lounge chairs in the backyard, get a nice, cozy blanket, and then call that special someone. Do this right, and you'll be doing the Horizontal Mambo before you know it.

Just wrap that rascal, okay?

Told You So...

This was all too easy to predict...

Good thing the U.N. authorized that No-Fly Zone, huh?

Personally, I'd let them slaughter each other, and then for good measure, bomb whoever was left alive.


Khadaffi taunts the West because he can.

Let's see if the Great Hopenchanger can pull a speech out of his teleprompter for this thorny issue. After he's done playing golf in Brazil, of course. Gotta keep the priorities in order.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Guess Who's Running for President in 2012, Part II...

Report: Hillary 'fed up' with President who can't decide if it's Tuesday or Wednesday.

Moral of the story: when you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

I guess when Hillary took that Sec. State job, the first real one she's ever had, she figured it would mean no work. I've had managers exactly like Obama , who change their minds more than they change their underwear, or who defer making decisions in order to avoid looking stupid and unqualified. People like that expect others to do all the heavy lifting so that they can reap all the rewards. They never put their name to anything, if they can avoid it, and have the ability to generate tons of useless memos that are full of hemming-and-hawing language that's intended to ensure that they can always be on both sides of any issue.

The first Rule of Management on Wall Street was always "never be in the room when a decision gets made...", and apparently that's the new Golden Rule at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Even yesterday's "victory" in the United Nations -- the permission to setup a No-Fly Zone in Libya -- was a sterling example of Obama not taking (any) action, and waiting for someone else to provide him with a fig leaf. Now that a No-Fly Zone is 'authorized' let me tell you what happens in Libya next:

1. Khadaffi doesn't let anyone in his Air force fly as much as a paper airplane or kite. They don't really need to anymore, having basically crushed the rebellion.

2. Khadaffi tells his air defense crews to keep their radars turned off, their guns unloaded, and to not even give coalition warplanes as much as a dirty look.

3. Khadaffi tries to look all reasonable, and maybe even makes false overtures to the rebels (by the way, can we stop calling them 'Rebels'? If they succeed they're only going to vote to install a Khomeini-like theocracy, anyways. These are not 'rebels', they're terrorists-in-training).

4. Just in case some sandy little douche in Libya doesn't get the message and fires a spitball at one of our planes anyway, the Obama Admin. will handcuff our guys with a set of rules of engagement that only allows them to fire, even in self-defense, every other Thursday between 12:58 and 1:00 pm. There won't be any shooting back, because that makes a mess and 'only creates more terrorists'.

5. When the 'International Community' finally gets bored with waiting for Khadaffi's flyboys to take their chances, they'll start bombing planes on the ground. Bombing Khadaffi's troops, however, will be a different story. That would make sense, which is why it won't happen, even with all that 'by all means necessary' bullshit. After the Libyan Air Force is destroyed on the ground, and the pilots come back from vacation, Khadaffi will use the nation's oil money to buy a new-and-improved Libyan Air Force...from Russia and China, two countries which"abstained' from yesterday's 'historic' vote.

6. Safe from the threat of air attack due to Western cowardice and an abundance of misplaced caution, and secure in the knowledge that even when 'justified' the 'International Community' will agonize over giving any order to shoot at anyone, Khadaffi's tanks, artillery and terrorists (they ain't soldiers) will move into Benghazi and make the Rape of Nanking look like an out-of-control frat party.

(Ed. Note: Personally, I don't give a shit if Libyans are killing each other. It only means there will be fewer terrorists for us to kill later on. Unless we intend to bomb both sides, this whole thing was a dog-and-pony show).

Khadaffi has already won. Because he was given three weeks to do so. Because Barack Obama couldn't find it in himself to make 'the right' call. He'd rather just say "Khadaffi Must Go", and then let someone else handle the details.

You just know that The Hildebeest goes home seething every evening. First, she finds herself sympathizing with John McCain in that "I can't believe I lost to this fucking douchebag!" way. Second, she's kicking herself in the ass for having been lured out of the Senate. She now sees this as a monumental mistake; had she been there, she could have gauged the political winds well enough to have been on the record against ObamaCare, and thus improved her chances for a 2012 Presidential victory. Finally, it must be dawning upon her that even if she were to pull off a masterstroke of diplomacy and actually solve a real problem in the world, Barack Obama would either claim credit for her victory, or more likely, turn all her work to shit with indecision and irresolution.

She's this-close to quitting. You can see it in her face. Five minutes after she does, you know that "Exploratory Committee" thing starts, and the effort to keep Bill in his doghouse begins anew. She's getting the Crusty Ol' Black Pantsuit out of mothballs.

In retrospect, it now appears that a Clinton Presidency in 2008 would have been the lesser of three evils, and frankly, considering the way the field is shaping up now for 2012, I wouldn't be surprised if she actually won if she were in it.

Then again, I have no sympathy for the bitch. She's made her bed. It will be interesting to see how she spins having been part of the most ineffective and conceited Administration since Jimmy Carter into a qualification, and maybe even electoral gold.

UPDATE: Danish socialists were ready to bomb Khadaffi before Obama was. What does this tell you (h/t Mark Steyn).

Irony, Thy Name is Obama...

Not particularly funny, but apropos.

Obama Elementary School to close. Lack of funding and poor management cited as reasons.

How's all that Hopenchangey stuff working out for you now?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The O-Blarney Stone...

President Obama to visit Ireland, White House says.

I've read this about seven other places today, but according to one absolutely ga-ga gushing report (probably at (P)MSNBC, I think), the Lightbringer is planning on visiting the Auld Sod --wait, ain't that Scottish? -- let's try that visit the ancient land of his Irish ancestors. Who knew our Post-Racial President was Irish, too? Well, his mother's family was, so I guess that makes him Irish, too, but that's not my problem.

I'm Italian, after all. And a lot happier today, I can tell you.

Anyways, this would be just another man-bite-dog story, i.e. Obama goes on vacation...again...except that for some reason some really brainless clod (sorry, that's redundant) White House Press Office figured the best time to announce President Marriott-Suites journey to the Emerald Isle -- and his Irish lineage -- would be St. Patrick's Day.

Oh, I wish I could be a fly on the wall at the ol' waterin' hole tonight! Right now, there's probably 50 blue-collar types with a lot of O's and Mc's in their names who are probably trying to figure out which is worse: the English Occupation, or that Barack Obama might be a Hibernian. That's a tough one...especially if you're up to your armpits in green urine, on your fifth plate of corned beef and cabbage and feeling the burn, or your second keg of Guinness of the evening.

I guess this brings a whole new meaning to the term Black Irish?

Anywhoo, back to that moron in the White House Press Office.

You just ABSOLUTELY KNOW that although this trip was probably planned some months in advance (one must book early in order to get the best tee times, you know) some asshole with a Harvard education probably decided the best way to announce this historic post-and-trans-ethnic journey of self-discovery would be to wait until St. Patrick's Day, because then Barack Obama (or should it now be Barack O'Bama?) could buff his post-racialist street cred just that much more.

Or maybe they just decided it would be better to wait until the majority of union workers would be piss-in-their-pants drunk?

Now, I don't care if Obama wants to go to Ireland (if he chooses to stay there, however, he has my full and unconditional support), and I don't really care if he trace at least part of his murky-and-questionable (depending upon whom you ask) lineage back to the Isle of Tara. Those things aren't really important. I'm sure if you went back far enough into my background you'd probably find at least one Brotha in there somewhere, and if the pointy-headed types are right, we all came from Africa, anyways.

No, my problem with Barack Obama's White House operation announcing he's going to Ireland on St. Patrick's Day is that the whole fucking thing is so obviously contrived to make Obama appear to be all things to all people, and in the end, it almost always only proves a whole lot of things that he ain't. Add a hulking helping of misdirected Political Correctness, and the need for Libtards to view all subjects through the lens of identity politics, and it was as certain as the foreclosure following the 30-year-no-money-down-no-points-mortgage that they would make such a clumsy mess of both the announcement and the appearances.

I'm sure they meant well, though. The problem with good intentions though is that they often make excellent macadam for the Thoroghfare to Perdition.

Truthfully, what I found funniest of all was the thought: the Irish in America are celebrating their heritage today, and now they've just found out that the biggest fraud in America counts himself amongst their number.

They must be so proud.

Sorry, Japan...

Okay, okay, I couldn't help myself. I went a little overboard in the previous post and made light of the situation in Japan. Now, even I have to admit that it was gratuitous, in extremely poor taste, and not exactly funny unless you're off your meds.

I (Pearl) harbor no ill-will towards the Japanese people. In fact...wait for it...some of my best friends were Japanese (oh no you didn't!). Well, that's not exactly true. I don't have all that many Japanese friends, just many Japanese acquaintances.

A long time ago, a young Lunatic was hired to work for one of the largest corporations on Planet Earth, a Japanese brokerage company which at that time was involved in one of those quixotic projects which the cash-rich Japanese of the early1990's eagerly pursued. Basically, we were experimenting with the second-generation of automated securities trading systems back then, and the reason why the company had crossed the vast Pacific and the American Hinterland to arrive upon the sunny shores of Staten Island, was to set up the Nomura Research Institute wherein this experimentation would take place. Your's Truly -- all of about 22 or 23 at the time, and full of piss-and-vinegar -- was hired to run those experimental systems.

The purpose of spending (wasting, really) a shitload of money to build a showpiece data center in Staten Island was an abject lesson in how some Japanese of the time thought. The Powers That Were had discovered that American securities firms were engaged in about 90% of the electronic trading on Japanese stock exchanges, but that Japanese companies did almost none on American exchanges. This was a national insult that could not go unavenged! Nomura was going to spend like a drunken sailor on shore leave to erase this national stain of disgrace, and at the same time show those big-nosed, smelly gaijin (barbarians) that the Japanese Way was the bestest way EVAH!

No matter how much it cost, nor how paltry the results.

Now, the story of exactly HOW I got hired is both funny, and all-too-inherently Japanese.

See, I'm an Italian boy. Specifically, Sicilian on my father's side, and Neapolitan and Calabrese on my mother's. I have a last name which sounds Japanese, if only because it ends with an 'O'. So, when all these Japanese dudes looking for technicians to fill their brand-spankin' new computer research facility saw my resume, they were intrigued by my surname...

...And had assumed that I, naturally, must have been Japanese.

So, I was basically hired, sight unseen.

When I walked into that building for the first time for what I was told was a mere formality (a for-show interview) imagine the shock and dismay when it was discovered that, alas, I was not Japanese at all. I had already been told that I had the job, and now to take it back would have been a major problem; the Japanese don't like to make mistakes (who does?) and making a boner like this one involves a great deal of shame and embarrassment (Japanese businessmen have killed themselves for lesser offenses), and besides, this was the 90's, and Japan was supposed to be taking over the world with it's battalions of highly-disciplined-and-sharp-as-tacks super-duper managerial robots. 60Minutes and the New York Times said so, you see.

So now I couldn't be un-hired without somoene having to disembowel himself, and so I spent the next 18 months working like a galley slave with a bunch of Japanese managers just waiting for the moment when I finally stepped on the weasel so that they could fire my Italian ass and erase the memory of their mind-boggingly-stupid error. Eventually, because I was young, stupid, and not at all mature (I think I'm still two of those things) I gave them one; I have a terrible habit of not caring about time. I would be late for my own funeral, you know. I think I was pretty much late for work on a daily basis in those days, and it was only the quality of my work that kept me there that long. Just as soon as the lateness thing got to be too much, they sent me to the unemployment line.

A month or two later, I found myself working for another Japanese company which was right across the street from the old one, and I stayed there for four years before the stupidity of the whole thing got to be too much. These were the days of outsourcing and cost-management-as-corporate-lifestyle, and so when my department -- which had started out with 10 people -- was reduced to one --Me -- and I was working 70 hours a week, it was time to move on.

But I did meet an awful lot of Japanese in those days, and found the majority of them to be pretty good folks, if strange. That weird factor was mostly due to cultural differences, but once you got used to it, it wasn't that bad. I made some pretty good friends during that time, like the guy who was so in love with American cars that when he shipped back to Japan, he had his vintage Thunderbird and Cougar shipped with him. He used to send us pictures of himself and a bevvy of Japanese cuties in those cars -- which sat in his garage (at enormous expense) because of high gasoline prices, every few months. Thats how he'd get laid: Hey Ladies,I have a set of classic American cars...Wanna ride with the top down?

The Japanese men were strange birds. In the office, they were all work and didn't know you from a hole in the wall. After hours, they were stalwart drinking and softball buddies, and wanted you to introduce them to American girls, about whom they spoke in the crudest of ways (but who am I to judge? I probably talked the same way about the Japanese girls). The Japanese ladies were everything you'd expect; quiet, shy, demure...until they had spent a year stateside in the example and tutelage of the American women, who ruined them.

Ah, I remember a couple of Japanese lasses quite fondly before they discovered Oprah...

Anyways, I found that many of the myths we had been told about the Japanese were simply not true. The first myth to get busted was the stereotype of the hard-working dude who would spend 20 hours a day in the office. From what I saw, those who did only did so because they were waiting for phone calls from Tokyo. They didn't have any real work to do (that was left to the Roundeyes). I remember one man (a senior executive) who's only task seemed to be to sit silently at his desk and chain-smoke (yes, you could smoke indoors in an office in those days!), and thumb through his impressive collection of Japanese porn.

The second lost Maxim of Japanese Invincibility in Business was that the Japanese were smarter than we Americans, which is why they were about to conquer the planet economically. This was patently untrue. I did meet a number of highly-intelligent people, but the majority were not the best and the brightest examples. Once you figured out the Japanese style of business, it didn't take long to figure out why:

If you're a manager in Japan, and you're told that you must send one of your people to America for three-to-five years, you don't send your right-hand man. You grab Fuck-Up San, and give him a raise, a new, bullshit title, and a plane ticket to the Land of Ten Thousand Golf Courses. This made everyone happy: the manager kept his best people, the company had a warm body who could speak Japanese to watch things and send faxes in the U.S., and Fuck-Up San was as happy as a pig in shit, driving his Cadillac, eating steak, and playing all the golf and watching all the Playboy Channel he could manage.

But I did form some really good friendships with a number of my Japanese colleagues during that time. Most of them were really just ordinary people once you got them out of the office, and they could party like there was no tomorrow. The shame of it all is that I would have stayed at that job, probably, if it hadn't had been for the American Manager placed over me; the douchebag that had the audacity to tell me that, even though I had worked 600+ hours of overtime that last year, he couldn't give me a raise without breaking his budget, and then when the company had announced that it was paying it's first-ever bonus (because it had made it's first-ever profit), tried to squash my bonus because I had handed in my two-weeks notice just three days before.

Yeah,I never figured that one out, either.

The President of the Company wanted to thank me for my efforts (that 600+ hours had resulted in a very happy customer, and a huge contract for the company), and when he had found out that not only was I not aware that I would be paid a bonus, but that my American boss had conspired to keep it from me, he went ballistic. So far as he was concerned, I had earned that money, even if I was leaving. It was only fair, he said.

And that is my most vivid memory of the Japanese that I have: It was fair. Even when I was fired from my first Jap Job, it was, in retrospect, only fair. Years later I would come to remember those days rather fondly, not just because of the people I had met and things I learned, but because I finally came to understand the Japanese Way; everyone got a square deal, provided they earned it. That's a far cry from the way American business is often conducted.

So now we come to the point of this little reminiscence. I used to laugh at some Japanese customs and ways because, as a Westerner, they didn't make any sense to me. It's only years later with images of a country ravaged by earthquake, tsunami and the threat of nuclear meltdown that I began to think back to those days when I worked like a sleddog, and had a man whom I had seen every day for four years, but had never spoken to, tell me in broken Engrish that his greatest concern was that his corporation lived up to it's responsibility to ensure that I was treated fairly and with respect at the end of it all.

I've collected all the spare clothing in the house this morning, especially two winter coats that I no longer wear, and which are still in good condition. The whole thing is being bundled up and delivered to the Red Cross this afternoon. There's folks in Japan who have lost everything, and if the earthquakes and tsunami and runaway reactors weren't bad enough, there's snow on the ground, and a great many people have lost everything they own. They need blankets and warm clothes, and I have closets-full.

And if there's any justice in this world, one of those coats will go to the man who gave me respect and courtesy -- at least someone very much like him --in his hour of need. I return the dignity he gave me with a small gift of a warm coat, a couple of sweaters, and some old-but-servicable shoes. It's not much in the grand scheme of things, sure, but I think at this time it would mean more to someone who needs it than all the money in the world.

Please, if you can manage it, head on over to the Red Cross and make a donation for Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami relief. They may be weird to us, but the Japanese are a good, kind and decent people who could use our help, but who will never ask for it. Don't be a douche; stick a crowbar in your wallet or empty your attic of anything useful, and send it to them.

Welcome, Wonkette Readers...

Will wonders never cease? Here I am sitting, minding my own business, when all of a sudden, in comes a tidal wave (sorry, Japan!) of traffic from one of the oldest blogs on the 'net. The readers of somehow found this site, and now a whole new bunch of folks can be exposed to the tsunami (sorry, Japan!) of insanity!

I'd like to point out to all you....ummm...Wonkers? Wankers? What the hell do you people call yourselves?...that you're likely to become very, very offended if you walk around my little mental minefield, because you're mostly scrotum-licking libtards, so please, spare me the anguished e-mail full of multicultural hogwash and dripping with tears. I write what I write, and I don't apologize for it. You've been warned: you're most likely to be offended.

Anyways, this earthshaking development (sorry, Japan!), this influx of potential readers who normally wouldn't give this site a second glance, let alone thought, has inspired me. Well, actually, the head...Wanker, Wonker, whatever...over there, Ana Marie Cox, has inspired me. What's not to like about cute redheads/strawberry blondes? Besides, all of us bloggers, even the ones who do so in almost total obscurity like I do, owe a debt of gratitude to Wonkette. Ana Marie was amongst the first of a generation of technically-savvy elitist snobs to jump onto the internet bandwagon, and start to change the world we live in.

To be honest, I haven't read Wonkette in years, mostly because you can only stomach so much liberal gossip-column-like-Washington-insidery-pablum before your gag reflex kicks in. I remember that blog being somewhat earth-shattering for it's time (sorry, Japan!) and the chain-reaction (sorry, Japan!) of knock-off sites it spawned reads like a Who's-who's of the Demented Left; DailyKos and HuffingtonPost, amongst others.

In a way, I'm both flattered and repulsed by the idea of Wonkers...Wankers...whatever...coming here. It either means I've done something they've found moderately interesting, or totally offensive, and in either case, they feel compelled to cluck about it amongst themselves. If we're lucky, two or three of them might actually learn something; for my part, it's worth knowing what your ideological opposites are...I hesitate to call it 'thinking'...but at least cackling about. Who knows, I might even learn something (yeah, as if!).

Anyways, I thought it totally fascinating that the post that's drawn there moths to a a one-year old post about St. Patrick's Day. I can just imagine the chatroom blather:

HippieBitch666: OMG, OMG, OMG that's so offensive! Not all Irish people are drunks, and leprechauns aren't so much gay as bi-curious! Don't these mouth-breathing evil republican types know that?

HotShowersKillGaia: Yeah, that dude is living in the Stone Age! I'm half-irish, one-seventh Pacific-islander, three-fifths black, and twentyone-seventeenths Jewish (but I checked 'Asian' on my application to Berkeley), andI can't believe...but I'm not surprised...that such obnoxious ethnic stereotypes persist on the Radical Right. It's George Bush's fault.

FreeAbortionsForLabradoodles: This is why we need a Fairness Doctrine.

DumbandivoteD: Yeah,Shrubby McBushHitler is responsible for this! KillCheney! KillCheney!

SwollenProstate999: That takes me back to St. Patrick's Day 1969...the grass was green, and so was the acid...anyways, there I was tossing bricks at the Pigs during the Green Beer Revolt at Columbia, and I found myself thinking that all the cops had Irish names (O'Hara, O'Reilly, McCormick, and so forth) and here they were beating the snot out of us peaceful protesters who were only there to peacefully protest against the country and the racist Bush/Reagan/Conservatard mindset that had oppressed their forebears...

Sk8terPunkkk: Posrstate you fukiin' gfay dude!!!!!! LOL! Yu Mamma went to a state collidge! Suk this, biotch!

That's how it usually goes on Leftie sites in my experience.

Anyways, I'm grateful for every visit I get. Feel free to wander around and vomit when it gets to be too much. Just don't say I didn't warn you that your frail liberal sensibilities would be raped. If you have something intelligent to add, be my guest.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Wide World of Sports, Part II...

From the Gridiron, we jump to the Ice, and start talking about a real sport: hockey. I say 'real sport' because, well, let's look at all the others; baseball is pretty much 2-3 hours of watching two guys play catch with a lot of inactivity in between. It's a sport that celebrates the .300 hitter, which means it really celebrates the guy who's failed 70% of the time. Anyone who remarks, like many did a decade ago about the Clutch-and-Grab era of hockey, that they'd rather watch a one-hit shutout -- i.e. a game with no action -- than a 1-0 hockey game --with lots of checking, and perhaps a fight or two -- needs psychological help.

Golf? I believe it was Mark Twain who said that "Golf is a pleasant afternoon's walk, interrupted". Any 'sport' that you play in business casual, requires a servant to lug your gear about and involves a motorized cart, is hardly a competition. If there was a goalie to keep the ball out of the little hole, you might have an argument about whether it's a sport. Quite frankly, if your game doesn't involve defense, and is mostly played by overweight white guys, and ends with a snort and a steak in the Clubhouse, it's not a sport; it's more like an expensive hobby.

Basketball? Does anyone actually play basketball anymore, or has it has it simply degenerated into an exhibition where guys take a 10-yard run up to a basket before they make a 6' leap to 'slam dunk'? Back when I played basketball you needed an outside jumper, needed to know how to play defense, we didn't take time outs every five seconds, and a wrist-slap or an elbow to the chest wasn't a 'flagrant foul' that put you on the DL for three months; it was 'just the price you paid' for going to the basket.

NASCAR. What great thrills: watching 40 guys make left turns at ridiculously high speed, praying for an accident to break up the monotony and get your juices flowing. Really, if you need a million-dollar-fuel-injected machine to compete, it's not really a sport, is it? Football? Five minutes of nothing leading up to six seconds of action over the span of three hours, and in the end, it's usually the least-involved guy on the field -- the fucking kicker -- who decides it all. Soccer, a game I've actually excelled at, is polo without the horses and where the idea at the professional level seems to be to play for a tie. MMA is not a sport: that's human cockfighting, and if I want to see that there's half-a-dozen Irish Pubs within walking distance. No Pay-Per-View fees, either.

No, hockey is the only real sport, so far as I'm concerned.

Which is why I get so pissed off when people who know nothing about the game start pontificating about some of the more rugged aspects of the game, like Zdeno Chara's hit on Max Pacioretty, the fights between the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars, or the Brawl at the Nassau Coliseum this past February. Much like football (that is when the players are actually involved in a play, and not standing around between plays or otherwise making fools of themselves with all the sack and touchdown dances) is a contact sport; it involves actual physical contact, often violent physical contact, between players.

People who don't understand the nature of hockey 'violence' simply don't understand the nature of the game, but they somehow feel qualified to pontificate about it's more brutal aspects. For those of you who don't understand hockey, and the reasons why there are fights, and occasionally, a horrendous accident in which someone is hurt, here's your list of reasons why it all happens:

1. Take 12 full-grown men, and put them in a fishbowl.
2. Arm them with deadly weapons, i.e. a stick, and a set of razor-sharp skates.
3. Make them play on ice.
4. Encourage them to reach speeds of 25-30 MPH, and run into each other, or smash each other against the boards and glass (it actually hurts MORE to get hit in open ice than it does along the boards; the boards and glass in most rinks actually give some under stress, and act like a spring).
5. Make them chase an object (The Puck) which is made of solid, vulcanized rubber, which has been frozen solid and can be propelled at speeds exceeding 100 MPH, and who's shape makes it's flight characteristics wholly unpredictable.

Tempers are bound to flare in that sort of situation. If you don't give players the opportunity to vent their frustrations (i.e. fight), they will soon start doing stupid, and dangerous, things: like cutting each other with their skates, clubbing each other with their sticks, or throwing elbows at each other's heads. Fighting in hockey is a safety valve; giving players the opportunity to pummel each other prevents some of the more unattractive aspects of human nature from rising to the surface. In all actuality, there are very few injuries that come about as a result of a hockey fight, primarily because it is difficult to get enough leverage on ice skates to throw a knockout punch.

There is also an etiquette to a hockey fight; you never just attack someone. You issue a challenge, and the etiquette requires that your would-be opponent oblige you. If he doesn't, there's usually someone else who will pick up the gauntlet, and thus, the overall violence is kept at a manageable level. It's not unusual to see two players punch each other silly, and then pat one another on the backside afterwards, or a fight to breakup when both combatants tire themselves out and agree to separate. Generally, fights between players aren't personal matters: they are usually a reaction to something which has occurred on the ice, and that once someone has been given the opportunity to vent their frustrations, the whole thing is pretty much over. There is, however, a big difference between a system of violence with rules and a context, and another system in which the players cross a line and enter the realm of the Truly Stupid.

By the way, the Golden Age of Hockey -- generally considered to be the 1940's to the 1980's -- saw far more gratuitous violence that you see in the modern NHL. It was not uncommon in the days when the league did ban fighting, to see players get carved up with sticks, or have their limbs skated over. One of the greatest players in the history of the sport has a dubious honor named after him; a player is said to have scored a 'Gordie Howe Hat Trick' if during the course of a game he has tallied a goal, an assist -- and a fight. But, I digress...

The Realm of the Truly Stupid nowadays involves players going after each other's heads. There's a variety of reasons why this happens. The first set of reasons are cultural: in the Old Days a player was taught to protect himself on the ice at all times, because you never could tell where a hit might come from (there was far more hitting 20-30 years ago then than there is now). In the modern game, there are two referees, more rules about what you can/can't do with a stick, what constitutes a legal/illegal check, and a mindset that puts a premium on Power Plays, so that the players often depend upon the officials and the sometimes-esoteric nuances of the rulebook to defend them rather than relying on their wits; they've abrogated their responsibility to protect themselves.

The second cultural flaw in modern hockey is the idea of The Pest. This type of player is also known as 'The Lunchbucket Guy', 'The Sandpaper', 'The Antagonizer', 'The Energy Guy' (not to be confused with The Goon or Enforcer, who's job is to protect his teammates) and his is a specialized skill within the confines of hockey. His job to go out onto the ice and be a total jerk. This role has been immortalized by both the hockey media and by a generation of coaches who spend more time studying Sports Psychology than they do hockey. The idea is take advantage of the fact that in the normal course of the game raw emotion is sometimes provoked. The Sandpaper Guy is supposed to go out and deliberately provoke those raw, emotional, responses from other players, and thus, take a punch or a slash and draw penalties against an opponent. It's a specialized skill; you need to be part bully, part psychologist, part asshole.

As a tactic, it's brilliant. However, when a kid has come up through the hockey ranks convinced that the only way he can 'make it' in the NHL is to be a borderline-dirty player, it becomes a hard habit to break. He's trained and encouraged to start trouble, and depending upon his level of maturity he may not know when to stop. And when you can't draw that flash of emotion with a simple slash across the ankles, or a push, because the other players have become more disciplined and taught not to take penalties, you have to take greater, and more drastic action, to justify your existence. The borderline-dirty play now becomes your bread and butter.

There's also a Code of Machismo in the game, much like the Samurai Code, which states that any injury that doesn't result in a jagged bone sticking out of a bloody hole in a limb, or having a vital organ knocked out of your body, is something you should just 'skate off'. Failure to live up to this code lessens a player's reputation for toughness amongst his peers, and one school of thought says that players who succumb 'too easily' to injuries make themselves targets. Hockey players routinely play with broken bones, stitches in their face, snapped-off-at-the-base teeth, black eyes, broken noses or dislocated joints quickly snapped back into place by crack medical and training staffs; they're simply stitched up, shot full of Novocaine, and sent back out on the ice. In fact, they often beg to be returned to play as quickly as possible by the medical staff. Part of this Machismo Code states that short of being knocked unconscious, you should make every effort to play with a severe head injury so as to not be labeled a pansy.

Then there are the circumstances of the modern game to consider when it comes to injury and head trauma; it's faster than it's ever been before, the players are bigger than ever before (there are, to my knowledge, approximately 20 players that I can name off the top of my head who are over 6' 4", and/or weigh in excess of 230 pounds), and when you take into consideration some of the changes in the last two decades (detachable nets, equipment improvements, removal of the red line, the stupid trapezoid, seamless glass, the inability to slow down a forechecker, the two-ref system, the instigator penalty, and the return of the Little Man to the game) what's amazing is not that every so often there's a fight, or someone gets run into a partition, but that someone doesn't get killed more often.

The problems with the Chara/Pacioretty hit break down like this:

1. Pacioretty took a bad path to the puck. Instead of using the other 80' of the ice that he could have to skate around Chara, he tried to squeeze himself between Chara and the boards. He did this because he's been trained to know that even if he doesn't get to the puck, he's more than likely to draw a penalty on Chara for obstructing his progress. Twenty years ago, Paciroetty would have taken a different route to the puck, but nowadays the players are looking for penalties (Sabermetrics has invaded hockey! Arrrgh!). If you don't know anything about hockey, learn that much, at least; sometimes, the quickest way to the puck is also the quickest way to get your head smashed in.

2. Chara is 6' 9" -- without skates -- and about 260 pounds. Pacioretty is 6' 2" and is listed at 203 pounds. If Chara puts his arms up to take or to deliver a hit, he's pretty much going to hit everyone on the ice in the head. Pacioretty has compounded his original mistake (different route to the puck)by trying to out-muscle a player 7 inches taller and 57 pounds heavier. That's like trying to stop a runaway tractor trailer with a Jack Russel Terrier...only less funny.

3. Neither player appears to be aware of their position on the ice. The area around the benches is perhaps the most dangerous spot on the entire ice surface, other than being directly in front of the goals. Nothing good ever happens there; players collide with one another during line changes, players get hit and propelled into the benches, players get hit and have the bench gates suddenly open on them as they're falling, sometimes a player gets run into an open bench gate with hip or head, and now in this case, Pacioretty gets himself run into the partition that separates the two benches and provides a spot for a color commentator and some photographers to get a better look at the action. If you took that little booth out, it doesn't do much good, because you still have to keep the teams physically separated when not on the ice, and there would still be a partition there.

The real issue the NHL has to deal with is not a bunch of guys fighting, or someone getting hurt as the result of the natural flow of the game; it's the douchebag who goes around hitting people from behind, or taking a liberty with another player in a vulnerable position because 'it's his job' to 'stir things up'.

Players like (each has video linked) Sean Avery, Matt Cooke, Trevor Gillies have serious issues with the concepts of respect and boundaries. They do what they do because it's what they get paid to do, and because that's how they got to into the league and how they stay there, and they give no thought to how this affects everyone they come into contact with. In the case of Avery, the league actually -- in a backhanded way which I think is almost unconscious -- protects them. Mario Lemieux (owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins) can complain all he wants about the thuggery in the Modern Game, but I don't recall him being so critical when Jay Caufield (and others) was there to fight his battles, and he has one of the worst offenders (Cooke) on his payroll. His real issue is that his multi-million-dollar Golden Boy (Sidney Crosby) isn't on the ice because of an accidental hits, and because the Islanders beat the snot out of his team (which has a roster of fighters of it's own that is quite formidable) one night in February.

This issue isn't going to be resolved by a public outcry over 'gratuitous violence'; it's going to be corrected when the Matt Cookes, Trevor Gilles' and Sean Averys of the world lose their jobs. What they do is NOT hockey. The public which cries about this level of violence is the same public which mostly knows nothing about hockey, made NASCAR and MMA two of the fastest-growing 'sports', and which routinely looks the other way when yet another NFL player is hauled off on domestic violence or murder charges. Even the causal hockey fan loves a good fight or a hard bodycheck, and so long as everything is legal, the combatants are willing, and the fisticuffs are a result of the natural flow of the game, it's all to the better.

What you need to do is not condemn the sport, only the assholes who don't play it properly. Hockey players will sort this out themselves, and it will, unfortunately, require that certain guys get beatings on the ice. That's the purpose of a hockey fight, after all: to let so-and-so know he can't get away with what he's just tried to get away with. Once a guy takes enough knuckles to the head, he starts to get the message and the stupidity stops. If the league wasn't so worried about it's image, it would take out the stupid Instigator Rule and not have the officials rush to break up skirmishes, and let the players police themselves; whenever the league tries to clamp down on fighting, we get more of this sort of thing.

And that 'image' they were trying to clean up by clamping down on fighting gets tarnished because we've taken the violence to a whole 'nuther level. And morons who know nothing tsk-tsk and tut-tut, start their preaching... and then go and watch WWE when no one is looking.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Wide World Of Sports, Part I...

Time to take a little break from the world of politics and government stupidity to turn to the greatest national passion of all: sports.

Currently in the United States, the National Football League is having a labor dispute (you can't call it a 'strike' because a) the season hasn't started yet, b) the Player's Union dissolved itself as a tactical ploy, and c) it's not like these guys work -- they get paid to play a game that most men would play for free). At stake, as I understand the whole kerfuffle, are three major issues:

1. The NFL generates about $10 billion dollars in revenue every year. The Players want a bigger slice of the pie, while The Owners of small-market teams complain that they cannot 'compete' in efforts to get the best players because the NFL revenue sharing plan is not fair, and let's face it: the only way you could get most players to sign up for a stint in Cincinnati, Jacksonville or Oakland is to offer a sufficiently-large bribe. It's not as if those cities offer all the amenities or quality-of-life of a New York, Dallas, or Chicago. If those teams cannot attract the top talent, or build high-tech stick-up booths disguised as arenas where you can get a $7.00. hotdog and $10.00 beer to go with your $15.00 parking spot, and $150.00 ticket, they simply will not survive as franchises, despite the raging popularity of the sport.

All of that, if you ask me, is an example of a very poor businessman, and if there's anything we've learned from our recent economic troubles it should be that businesses run by complete boobs should be allowed to fail. I have no sympathy for the Owners in this dispute.

2. The Player's opportunity for an extended career in the NFL is rather limited. It's a violent sport, and one horrendous injury can end your playing days (and thus, opportunity to earn millions of bucks to play a game rather than do something useful for a living). The more money that is available to Players, the higher their average salary, and the better their bottom lines become when (not if) they're finally crippled, or brain damaged for life. The Players want a bigger slice of that $10 billion bucks, too. Then again, the average salary of an NFL player in 2009-2010 was $1.9 million per. That's, on average, 43 times the median national income (about $44,000 a year).

I have no sympathy for the players, either. If you can't live on $1,900,000 bucks a year, can't invest or save any of it properly, then you too, deserve to go bankrupt.

So, like most things in life, this is a simple fight over money. The recent rioting by Public Union employees in Wisconsin was about money. The battles over Continuing Resolutions and Budgets in Washington, D.C. is about (wasting) money. The world revolves around money, and despite the protests of Democrat or Republican, Teacher and State Legislator, or Jerry Jones and Peyton Manning, the NFL fight is about money, too.

Unless you're star fumbler...errr...running back, Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings. Then the fight is about more than money. The whole money idea is a smokescreen which obscures the real issue at the heart of the NFL's labor problems: Slavery.

Because according to Peterson, playing in the NFL is like being a slave.

Now, mind you, Adrian Peterson is slated to make $10 million bucks next year. He makes several million more each year endorsing all sorts of products, lending his name and image to the companies that make sporting apparel, beer, and a whole lot more.

Peterson also received a free college education while playing football at Oklahoma, and to be honest, I'm fairly certain that several other universities were falling all over themselves to offer Peterson exactly the same thing. He had his choice of which college or university got the privilege to short-change a deserving student in order to acquire a football player to raise the University's image, and generate millions in television and merchandising revenue. The question as to whether or not Peterson actually made the best of that educational opportunity is probably answered by his analogy vis-a-vis professional football and slavery.

If anything, Peterson has probably engaged in a little bit of hyperbole (with serious racial undertones) in some misguided attempt to play at public relations -- the players are mainly African-American, the Owners are, to a man, Caucasian -- in an attempt to shame the Owners publicly into giving the Players what they want. It's a terribly bad analogy for the following reasons:

1. Adrian Peterson chose to pursue the career he has right now. He has probably pursued the dream of being a professional football player since boyhood, and everything he's done in his life probably had that possibility as part of it's rationale. Most people who have endured slavery, modern-day or no, usually had no choice whatsoever in the matter.

The same goes for both sides in this dispute; there is no law that say you have the right to play football for a living,just as there is no law that states you have the right to own a football team, let alone a profitable one. This is an argument between two sets of uniquely-privileged people fighting over who deserves an even-greater level of privileges. Paid for by another group, naturally. Both sides do what they do of their own free will, and can walk away from it anytime they wish if the situation is not to their liking.

2. Adrian Peterson has become a wealthy man because of the combination of his talents and the popularity of the sport and league. I just wonder what the real slaves of 200 years ago could have accomplished if they had been a) paid, b) paid out of all proportion to the actual value they brought to any transaction, c) had the option of Free Agency (selling their labor to the highest bidder), d) access to a career path that offered them a choice between an array of institutions of higher learning, and then access to a skewed labor pool which produces nothing of intrinsic worth, but still gets to share a $10 billion pie....for playing a game for 6 just months out of every year.

I would rather like to think that Fredrick Douglas, Dred Scott and Harriet Tubman would probably have done a whole lot better in life if they could only have just run quickly, made $10 million bucks a year, and lived in a culture that celebrated their talents (while overlooking their shortcomings) without regards to their race. Adrian Peterson has no more experience of real slavery than I do.

3) Adrian Peterson has the option to stop playing football any time he wants to do so. I cannot help but notice that while he denounces his $10 million-dollar-a-year indentured servitude, he isn't quite disgusted enough to actually quit. There's nothing worse than a rich man that tells you that he despises the whole sordid routine by which he becomes fabulously wealthy, but then doesn't give the money back. It's like the CEO who made $500 million for driving his company into the ground, and ruining his shareholders, saying that while he takes responsibility for the losses and they make him sad, it's not his fault that 'The Marketplace' sees fit to compensate him so richly for such lackluster performance.

Adrian Peterson could retire tomorrow. He could walk away from the gridiron and The Marketplace which disgusts him so much, but you know he won't. The disputes over money don't affect him so much -- after all, he's got $10 mil coming, and probably another $20 mil by the end of his contract -- as much as it affects the players who don't have his level of skill, i.e. the Average NFL player, who by comparison, only made that paltry $1.9 million last year.

If Peterson did walk away then he would have to work for a living, and when you've been groomed from an early age to be nothing but a professional athlete the idea of going to an office every day, or digging ditches, must be the worst of all possible nightmares. People like Peterson aren't supposed to work, you know, they're only supposed to play, and receive a ton of cash, the public adulation, and a sort of contrived immortality that somehow will require him to wear a horrendous yellow blazer one day.

Besides, you didn't think Adrian Peterson took that free 'education' they were offering at Oklahoma to learn something useful, do you? Adrian Peterson doesn't quit because Adrian Peterson is probably not prepared to do anything else with his life. and probably learned nothing at Oklahoma except that he's mystically entitled to shoot his mouth off about the 'unfairness' of his gilded-entered-of-his-own-free-will bondage, while people who sweep floors, build skyscrapers, put out fires, and drive the trucks are losing their livelihoods. The NCAA can talk itself blue in it's collective face about 'scholar-athletes'. but let's face it; the whole thing is a sham. If Adrian Peterson didn't have speed, power and athletic skills, his career options would probably have ranged somewhere between Car Wash Attendant, a job that required him to ask every customer if they wanted to Super-size their order, or involved an Orange Jumpsuit. The only thing he apparently learned in school was that being a star running back excused you from all the realities, considerations, and consequences of normal life, I guess.

People who don't really work for a living, pretend that working out and their playtime is somehow labor, or who have the good fortune to do what they love and get paid a shitload of money for it, have absolutely no reason to toss around the word 'slavery'. They certainly don't need a UNION. If anything, Adrian Peterson -- and a great many others -- should be on his knees praying to the spirits of the ancestors who suffered ACTUAL SLAVERY so that he could live in a world where he gets paid -- very well -- to drop footballs in playoff games.