Friday, September 01, 2006

 

Dawn Summers Sends Some Love

A mini-review of this week's comedy show.

By the way, one of Dawn's commenters -- Ken Wheaton, who drops by here occasionally -- claims that the Dick Cheney "gangsta" line was his! I must protest. I'm pretty sure I can remember the exact moment that line came into my head -- and it was within 24-48 hours after Cheney's victim "apologized."

Besides, Ken killed his blog, where his line would have allegedly appeared! The burden of proof is on him!

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Better Ed Than Dead

Since summer is drawing to a close as Labor Day approaches (change is already in the weather here in the East), it also means we only have about a month left in the national pastime (yes, baseball).

So, with the NFL starting up next week, Ragged Thots will be covering it with the Peach State version of Gregg Easterbrook, commenter/guest blogger extraordinaire Ed McGonigal! He'll be crossposting from his fine site, Politics & Pigskins -- and occasionally giving a unique post for RT (such as the "New York GiJeBills" entry below -- though his premise is wrong in that the Giants will do quite well this year).

Welcome aboard, Ed!

(Ed, please hold off from "launching" any commentary on the ongoing Hezbollah-Israel scrimmage. I have a feeling there will be an inevitable moving of the goalposts before the second-half kickoff!)

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We Ain't The World

With the news earlier this morning that the U.S. got waxed by Greece in the world basketball championships, one must ask: Has the USA become incapable of playing team sports on a world level?

This result concludes a year when Americans got embarassed in:

Olympic Hockey
World Baseball Classic
World Cup Soccer

One more thing to blame on George W. Bush, I suppose.

(And still to come...the Ryder Cup)!

But, seriously, at one time, America could boast it's overwhelming superiority in just about any (warm weather) athletic endeavor where it wasn't likely that the the opposing athlete(s) weren't being doped up by their countries (or the ref wasn't trying to throw the game in order to give Russians extra time to make a basket).

Now, today, Americans in a
variety of sports are being seen as the dopers -- and losers too -- in an increasingly competitive world.

On the court, field and ice, we sure ain't the "only remaining superpower" anymore.


(Thanks to reader ERA for the idea.)

UPDATE: I remembered only after I hit the "publish" button that ONE American team did pretty well in international competition -- just this past weekend, in fact. "Columbus Northern Little League defeated Kawaguchi Little League of Japan, 2-1, for the 60th Little League Baseball World Series championship at Howard J. Lamade Stadium."

Of course, they're from, ahem, Georgia -- Ed McGon gets to crow again!


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The New York Giant Jet Bills

Bill Barker proposed an intriguing question when I shot down his idea of the Hew York teams doing very well this year (with the possible exception of the Giants):
"...how about if we COMBINE the rosters of the Jets, Giants, and Bills... "create" the best possible team out of that mix."

This is not without historical precedent, since the Steelers and the Eagles combined teams back during World War II. Since I love speculative football arguments, who would start on the combined roster?

QUARTERBACKS: Eli Manning would have to be the starting QB. If Manning gets hurt, this team may be in trouble. Chad Pennington might be the best backup. Pennington's arm is still as strong as a wet noodle. J.P. Losman is just a little under-cooked.

RUNNING BACKS: The real strength of the team. Willis McGahee can start, with Tiki Barber as our third down back. We can use Barber to spell McGahee and keep him fresh. We can also bring in Brandon Jacobs in the short yardage situations. Jim Finn would make a good fullback for our team, although I would be tempted to go with a three wideout offense on most plays. With Kevan Barlow as our fourth back (which is where he really should be on any team), we have a corps of running backs with which any coach would be delighted.

WIDE RECEIVERS: No "great" receivers here, but a lot of good ones. Laveranues Coles is the best of the bunch with his hands and speed. Plaxico Burress makes a great number two receiver (sorry Giant fans). With Lee Evans at number three, this team will create some major matchup problems for a lot of secondaries. With Amani Toomer and Josh Reed as our fourth and fifth receivers, this could be the best overall receiving corps in the NFL. Eli Manning would salivate at the possibility of playing with this group. Heck, PEYTON Manning would!

TIGHT ENDS: Jeremy Shockey. That is where the excitement ends at this position. Robert Royal and Chris Baker are primarily blocking tight ends.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Offensive lines tend to work better as units, so let's take the Giants line, which is clearly the best of these three teams. Although we would bring in Jets rookie OLT D'Brickashaw Ferguson as a backup/potential starter (if he can do well enough).

DEFENSIVE LINE: Any defensive coordinator would give his left nut for our defensive ends: Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora at the ends, with Kimo von Oelhoffen to rotate in as a backup. We are a little soft at the tackle position, with Dewayne Robertson as the only tackle of note. We WILL be playing a 3-4 defense.

LINEBACKERS: So many choices for only four positions. We start with Jonathan Vilma at the LILB position. Vilma is clearly the best of a solid group. With London Fletcher at the RILB spot, not many teams will be running up the middle on us. With Takeo Spikes and Carlos Emmons as our outside linebackers, this is the best linebacking corps in the NFL since the old Giants teams. AND we can use LaVar Arrington as a third down pass-rushing LB. AND we can rotate Antonio Pierce with our other inside linebackers, keeping them all fresh. Offensive coordinators: Be afraid...be VERY afraid.

CORNERBACKS: Our secondary is not perfect, but it is close. With Nate Clements and Sam Madison as our starting corners, opposing receivers will have fits. I would put Terrence McGee in as the nickel corner, although Andre Dyson could easily play it too. If we are playing against a team that likes to run, I might use McGee as a starting corner because he plays the run from the corner spot better than most corners.

SAFETIES: This is a weak spot on this team. I would try rookie Donte Whitner at the strong safety first. If he falters, that leaves us with Gibril Wilson or Kerry Rhodes, who are both ok, but nothing special.

Our free safeties are a little better, with Troy Vincent, Erik Coleman, and Will Demps from which to choose. I would probably go with Coleman as the starter on running downs and replace him with Vincent on passing downs.

KICKER: Tough choice here, but I would lean towards Jay Feely for his kickoff depth. Otherwise, all three kickers are fairly even.

PUNTER: Another tough choice. Jeff Feagles is the pick due to his ability to pin teams down inside their 20. Brian Moorman and Ben Graham are both strong options though.

KICK/PUNT RETURNS: We have the best return man in the NFL in Terrence McGee. With Chad Morton backing him up, no problems here.

COACHING: Bill Barker suggested we bring back Bill Parcells, but I figured let's stick with who we have to be realistic to the speculation. Plus, we will probably want a coach who will be here longer than a year.

I would lean towards Eric Mangini as my head coach. His experience under Bill Belichick should serve him well.

Tom Coughlin would be my offensive coordinator with Dick Jauron handling the defense.

SUMMARY: Ok, so we would blow the salary cap out of the water, but this is for fun, right?

While I don't think this team would go undefeated, a 15-1 record would be a reasonable expectation, with a Super Bowl win guaranteed. Unfortunately, if Manning gets hurt, this team will still make the playoffs, but no Super Bowl.


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Thursday, August 31, 2006

 

Intellectually Suspect -- Yet Cool

A really neat timeline of the road to Iraq can be found at Mother Jones

It's called "Lie by Lie", so it doesn't take much effort to figure out where it is coming from (as if the fact that it is on the Mother Jones site didn't tip one off right away).

However, regardless of its ideological leaning, it is technically and aesthetically really, really neat!

You can scroll on the year wheel to the left, click on a month and find out the various events pertaining to Iraq or the broader Middle East -- and various American policy statements or actions (in and out of government) that were happening at the time.

Now, I think it behooves a creative soul on the right to develop a different version that might construct that history in a different manner. Perhaps a neoconservative, for example, might create "Warning by Barning" interpreting various events of the last 15 years or so that should have been considered red flags at the time.

Regardless, the Mother Jones version should at least be checked out, because some folks put a lot of time into what will undoubtedly becom a very handy reference tool for many on the left side of the spectrum.


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War of the "New"

Rumsfeld's "The New Appeasers" vs. Olbermann's "The New Fascists"

In whose
brave new world do we live?

My only editorial comment is that when he tones down the snark, Keith Olbermann is a remarkable writer.

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What Do George & Joe Have In Common?

Oy vey!

Who knew where this macaca stuff would lead? Apparently,
Sen. George Allen is a Jew! Or, certainly, Jew-ish. This information, courtesy of The Forward newspaper. Not too shabby, as Adam Sandler might say.

Somehow I don't think that this news is going to be part of his
big statewide advertising launch today.

Anyway, for Allen's own edification, he might take note that the High Holy Days are coming up and shape his campaign accordingly.

Maybe pro-war sorta-Republican Joe Lieberman can come down to Virginia and stump for sorta-Jewish George Allen against anti-war Jim Webb!

Will the Virginia electorate care one way or the other? Um, the Jewry is still out on that!

Heh. Heh.


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Volek Weevils

On the recent signing of QB Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher had this to say about current starting QB Billy Volek:
"Billy's got some competition. I've spoken with Billy. Billy's not too awfully pleased with it. But that's life in the National Football League."

As Troy Aikman once said in a commercial, "Get real!".

They are honestly thinking of starting Collins over Volek? In Collins' best year, 2002, he completed 61% of his passes. That was his ninth season of starting. In Volek's first season of starting, he did that. Granted, it was over a shorter span of games. But that means Volek has some potential.

Collins? We have seen all he can do. Like nearly get Randy Moss killed last year, thanks to Collins' tendency to attach his eyeballs to his favorite receiver. Like completing 53% of his passes last year.

Don't get me wrong. Collins is a decent quarterback. But he has no upside. On the other hand, Volek has shown some nice flashes when he has had the opportunity. In the right system, he could potentially be a great quarterback. He could certainly be no worse than what we have already seen from Collins.

What does all this mean? Jeff Fisher does not strike me as stupid. Anyone can see that Vince "The Franchise" Young is not ready yet, in spite of their plans to start Young in the final preseason game. If Volek gets hurt this year, putting in Young would be the equivalent of throwing Young to the wolves. The Titans needed a second string quarterback.

So they pick up Collins. Volek is not having a great preseason, so they use the acquisition to light a fire under Volek. Now they get to see how Volek responds to the pressure.

Volek's response?
"I guess they want a quarterback who's perfect in every throw and every read, and that's going to be hard to find. I guess they're unhappy with my production. It's hard when you're only getting a quarter a game."


Sure, Volek is no Steve McNair. Sure, he has had a mediocre preseason. But he is actually not a bad quarterback DURING the season. You know, when the games count? In 2004, Volek played in 10 games, completed 61% of his passes, threw for 2486 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Mike Vick cannot even do that (except for the 10 interceptions part).

But now we have Titans General Manager Floyd Reese saying:
"This time of year over the next couple of days, there's an endless number of conversations you'll have with clubs in the league saying `What if?' Some you talk to three or four times, some you talk to once...Billy's name has come up from some of the clubs."

Reese would not walk away from anyone offering a first round pick for Volek, but no team would offer that much. No doubt Reese has a price he would take for Volek which is lower, perhaps a second or third round pick. But Volek has too many question marks for any team to offer that much right now.

Truthfully, I think Reese is playing along with Jeff Fisher's poker game. Mind you, what Fisher is doing is not a complete bluff, because he has a strong hand now with Collins there. The question is: Does Volek have a stronger hand?

There is a wild card in this poker game: Volek's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, of Terrell Owens fame. Rosenhaus has not commented on the situation yet. However, it does not take a brain surgeon to know he has called Floyd Reese and said if Volek does not start, they want a trade. This sheds a new light on Reese's comments, but I don't see Reese accommodating Volek/Rosenhaus just because they asked. Reese would want value in a trade.

What to make of the Titans starting Vince Young in their last preseason game? Right now, the Titans are talking about giving their quarterbacks one quarter each (Matt Mauck is also playing). But if you see Young in there for a half, or three quarters, read that as the Titans are mailing it in this year. They are just waiting until Young can take over and it doesn't matter who starts. In other words, they don't expect Volek OR Collins to win a Super Bowl for them, which is fairly realistic anyway.

If the Titans change their plans in this last preseason game and Volek doesn't play, or if Collins plays well and Volek doesn't, the writing is on the wall. However, if Collins AND Volek play equally well, or Collins plays poorly, expect Volek to start the first game of the season.

My prediction? Young plays the first half. Collins plays the third quarter and looks mediocre or bad. Volek plays the fourth quarter and looks ok. Volek starts the first week of the season, but expect to see Young starting before the end of the year. And Young will NOT look good this year. Volek gets released or traded after the season.

UPDATE: So Vince Young played the first quarter and the first series of the second. Then Kerry Collins came in and finished the rest of the second quarter. Collins went 7-13 for 96 yards.

Billy Volek played the start of the third quarter. He threw one pass, a 54-yard touchdown pass, and they sent him back to the bench. Vince Young finished the third quarter. Matt Mauck played the fourth quarter.

At this point, Volek is trade bait. Collins will soon be announced as the starter.

(Hat tip to
SI.com, Foxsports.com, and TheDailyTimes.com of Maryville, TN)

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

 

Internet Age Non-Censorship

As my late-summer crazy week continues, I just had to quickly take note of this story about The New York Times blocking British online readers from access to an article about the bomb plot suspects.

The New York Times said on Tuesday it had blocked British Internet readers from seeing a story detailing elements of the investigation into a suspected plot to blow up airliners between Britain and the United States.

The story was published in Monday's paper. Under British laws, courts will punish media organizations that publish material that judges feel may influence jurors and prevent suspects receiving a fair trial.

"There has not been a prosecution for contempt over anybody publishing outside this jurisdiction (Britain), but logically there is no reason why there should not be," said Caroline Kean, partner at UK media law firm Wiggin.
Obviously, most of the stories focus on the censorship aspects of the issue -- and whether the Times should have given in so quickly to avoid running afoul of a British law designed to prevent jurors from being unduly influenced. (Yes, there is also mild irony that the Times seems more inclined to follow the "wishes" of the British legal system with respect to printing terrorist-related details -- in order to allow a fair trial -- but declines to listen to the United States government when it suggests printing a story could be damaging to American national security. But that's another issue.)

What I wonder about is the technical ability for this policy to be successful.

For example, the New York Times syndicates its stories to newspapers all around the country and the world. What is to stop Britons from using Google, Yahoo or any other search engine to find another paper's Web-site that may happen to carry the story? For that matter, as this story notes, two UK papers print details on the case which they picked up from the original Times story.

Alternately, when I was in China, I was able to access many Western media sites. However, I couldn't access anything with the "blogspot" domain name -- including this blog.

Well, to be accurate, I wasn't able to access it directly through Internet Explorer on my laptop (using hotel broadband or Wi-fi). However, I was able to read it from my cellphone (which worked in China on the "China Mobile" network).

Furthermore, I later discovered that I could access the site going through the web using AOL instead of IE.

The point is that, despite what the law says, it becomes increasingly difficult to "protect" the public from the information once it is online.


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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

 

Humor & Hillary

I did some stand-up on Monday night at the 45th Street Theatre, just east of Ninth Avenue.

For the final night of
Laughing Liberally's seven week Monday evening run, organizers put on two shows -- a regular LL show with a bi-partisan follow-up "Laughing With The Enemy."

I was one of the conservative comics, along with
Julia Gorin and Dave Rosner, performing against Katie Halper, Dean Obeidallah and Benari Poulten. Much fun was had by all! I'm happy to say that I acquitted myself quite well, considering I only do the stand-up thing once in a blue moon.

The most interesting reaction all night was to a joke by Julia. Keep in mind that, though this was a bipartisan affair, the audience was probably 70 percent liberal, so those on the right had their work cut out for them.

But Julia said, "Hillary Clinton -- I know she has to run for president -- but does it have to be of this country? I mean, couldn't she do like she did for the Senate -- move to another country and run for president there!"

The line got MAJOR applause! And, obviously, it wasn't just conservatives who were applauding!

What does it mean? Who knows? But it is one more data point on the "Hillary Inevitability Chart" (tm).


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Your Republican $$ At Work...

Busy few days and evenings, so blogging is light.

However, this is certainly something
that bears noting.

Apparently, the National Republican Senatorial Committee will spare no expense -- against another Republican candidate. $180,000 to help protect an incumbent GOP senator against a primary challenger supported by the economic conservative Club For Growth!

Gee, ya think Rick Santorum (PA) or Jim Talent (MO) or Conrad Burns (MT) -- endangered Republican senators in the fight of their lives against Democratic general election challengers -- wouldn't appreciate that $180K coming their way? And it's not just money either -- but the all-important bodies.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

 

Say Good Night, George?

When the macaca hits the fan, the fans start to...leave?

Three new polls show George Allen the bad news on his "macaca" flap:

Rasmussen: Allen by 5,
down from 11 one month ago.

Survey USA: Allen up by 3,
down from 19 two months ago.

Zogby:
Webb up 1.

All of these have varying margins of error (and Zogby is an especially problematic poll) but the basic trend is the same.

Yes, Virginia, we have a real, live, Senate race!


And, win or lose, George Allen's presidential plans have taken a serious hit.


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