Requiescat in pacem.
Oil markets have entered a ``super-spike'' period that could see 1970's-style price surges as high as $105 a barrel, investment bank Goldman Sachs said in a research report.
But before you take this too seriously, remember:
Goldman Sachs is the biggest trader of energy derivatives...
So, it's not like they have a stake in volatility, or anything.
One of these sentences was written by Reuters, and one by me. See if you can guess which is which:
The defence contractor Boeing has won the right in NSW to discriminate against employees whose nationalities do not meet US security requirements.
The defence contractor Boeing has won the right in NSW to protect sensitive military technologies by granting access only to employees whose nationalities meet US security requirements.
This matters because:
A three-year exemption from the anti-discrimination act allows Boeing to exclude employees at its Bankstown plant from working on projects using US technology. Only Australians and other nationalities approved by the US will be issued tags granting them security clearance.
But notice how some people confuse nationality with race:
Robin Banks, director of NSW's Public Interest Advocacy Centre, said Boeing's application to the Anti-Discrimination Board should have been rejected. "We think there are much more tailored ways to protect national security, and that is through appropriate employment checks. You'd hope that would be sufficient to catch any problems than attempts to tag everybody of the same racial background."
Despite being, presumably, from Australia, I gather Mr. Banks is unaccustomed to nationality and race not being hopelessly intertwined. Trust me, the US is quite adamant about preventing racial discrimination while at the same time limiting the access to sensitive military information when it comes to foreign nationals.
In a submission to the Anti-Discrimination Board, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre argued that not all of Australian Defence Industries's contracts were sensitive, and that exemptions could be obtained from the US State Department.
Really? How could he possibly know either of these statements to be true? As someone who held security clearances for over 20 years and worked on multiple foreign military sale procurements from the United States' side of the table, I can safely say that Mr. Banks does not know what he is talking about. But, of course, he keeps talking anyway:
"The rationale for the exemption is not related to Australia's national security, but to the national security and trade interests of the US," the centre said.
I'd argue there's a fair bit of overlap between the US' national interest and Austalia's national interest, but even so, this is why the request was made in the first place since:
Australian Defence Industries has already been granted a broad exemption from anti-discrimination laws in Victoria. Because the company holds government defence contracts, and because many Australian defence armaments are based on US technology, it is necessary to enter into licensing agreements with US firms.
Thank you Mr. Banks for making the argument on the behalf of the United States. I'm trying to be culturally sensitive, so can any of my friends and readers from Down Under help me out here? What do Australians call someone so hopelessly out of his depth?
Rumor has it that Illinois and Michigan State fans are going to be bringing orange and green shirts to the Edward Jones Dome on Saturday and rooting wildly for an all Big 10 Final. (Link via Big Ten Wonk's United Colors of the Big 10). If Illinois wins, that's some pressure on Michigan State. Hmm..., so will the theme for Saturday be Ireland or Cote D'Ivoire? I know which the patrons of McGurk's would choose.
Given the play that Tom Izzo's destruction of the game tapes has got, I hope the folks at The ED get a copy of Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer to play before the North Carolina - Michigan State game. Man, it would be cool to hear that flute intro in a quiet stadium and then here the crowd erupt when the horns start up. This could become a theme song for the Spartans in years to come. Of course, they can follow it with a live link of Dick Cheney lip-synching Peter Gabriel's Big Time.
Gee, how is it that North Carolina can have four or five NBA first round picks on their roster, and most of them juniors and seniors, since the influx of high school kids straight to the NBA was supposed to kill the college game?
The four coaches in the Final Four: Tom Izzo, Rick Pitino, Bruce Weber, and Roy Williams, have, respectively, the first, third, fourth, and fifth highest winning percentages in the NCAA Tournement amongst all active coaches with at least ten games played. There's gotta be some deep meaning there somewhere.
Maybe if Illinois wins the national championship, the #1 Google hit for "Bruce Weber" will no longer be this guy.
Due to the tremendous and total lack of response to my blogospheric queries regarding tickets for the Final Four, I am forced to pull out the heavy artillery. Illinois will beat Louisville if I attend the game but they will lose to Louisville unless I am present. There. I said it. Now, who's going to help insure the Fighting Illini's success and get me into the game? I mean, you don't want to be the one responsible for Illinois losing to Louisville, do you?
No, the Big 10 still isn't better than the ACC.
This is a gross oversimplification, but if I had to give one word descriptions of the ACC and the Big 10, they would be offense and defense, respectively. Roy Williams said as much before the game when he said he preferred an up and down style, but if he had time, he'd like to spend time with Bo Ryan and learn to coach like he does, i.e., defense first. Thus far, defense seems to have the upper hand. We'll see how that plays out when UNC plays MSU on Saturday, and perhaps again if UNC plays Illinois on Monday.
Arizona should have won the game. Arizona hit 10 of 12 free throws after their last bucket in regulation but couldn't hold on to the ball or burn enough time on its possessions. But even with their mistakes, how many teams could have come back from being down 15 with 4 minutes left, or down 8 with 1 minute left. Illinois was lucky... and good.
Anybody know where I can get a copy of the game?
North Carolina's #1 seeded women just lost to Baylor's #2 seeded women 72-63 in Tempe.
Could it be an omen?
Is there any doubt that this has been the best Sweet Sixteen/Elite Eight week ever? Sunday's games were outstanding, 10 out of 10! But they still couldn't quite match Saturday's games. Watching UNC - Wisconsin, I never thought that Wisconsin was going to be able to pull it off, but they played well. Kentucky has so much talent, but their problems trying to get a shot off at the end of regulation and the first OT are a direct result of the fact that they don't yet have a first rate point guard. As I've been saying for a while, Michigan State is a very good team. If they should manage to win it all this year, they may match Arizona having to go through three #1 seeds, as well as a #2 seed thrown in for good measure.
And now, the Final Four is coming to my town. Damn. Just. Damn.
Big Ten Wonk has an excellent summary of the game with some interesting insights and links from all over calling it an instant classic. And keep scrolling for some commentary that is much better than what's probably in your local paper. The ACC Basketblog is a good source from, well, a different perspective. Both of these blogs also have an excellent blogroll for those interested.
When I woke up this morning, the first thought that crossed my mind was, "un-f*cking believable." Somehow, I think that's probably going to be my first thought when I wake up tomorrow morning as well.
Oh yeah, about that weak Big 10..., did I mention that Illinois handled Wisconsin easier than North Carolina managed to today -- three times?
Bracket update heading into the Final Four with number of Final Four teams remaining in parentheses:
Kirkwood Illiniwek: 38-22 (1)
Kirkwood Illlini: 36-24 (2)
St. Louis Illini: 37-23 (2)
St. Louis Illinois: 45-15 (3)
St. Charles Austin: 41-19 (2)
The St. Louis Illinois entry is now tied for 7,077th out of 2,800,000 entries in ESPN's Tournament Challenge. I have three of the Final Four teams correct (Illinois, North Carolina, and Michigan State, though I have been dissing Louisville since Day 1 to my great regret). Damn. I might actually win something if Illinois manages to beat Michigan State in the final game by a score of 78-72. If Gonzaga had come through to the Final Four I think I'd have been in the top 50.
Now, will the story line for the Illinois - Louisville game be that Illinois shot its wad to get to the Final Four, or are they truly a team of destiny? I, of course, have to go with the latter. And while I'm sure Dick Vitale won't agree, I think the North Carolina - Michigan State game is a toss-up. While my heart wants to see an all Big 10 final, I expect Illinois will face North Carolina for a chance at a title. And then we'll see whether Illinois is truly a team of destiny. There's no point in me trying to pick a winner for this game. But if it does happen, how often do the best two teams in college basketball actually play each other for the championship?
So, who's got an extra Final Four ticket?
DOWNDATE: Maybe ESPN should hire me:
I've got Dick Vitale and Andy Katz beat. And we won't even talk about Joe Lunardi any longer.
Illinois athletics has something positive that will be remembered and referred to by everyone for a long time. No matter how the Final Four turns out, the 15-point comeback in the last 4 minutes against Arizona to get to the Final Four has to be considered one of the best, if not the best comeback in collegiate basketball history.
I've wondered around to the Illinois blogs in the last hour and everyone had given up. Everyone except the guys on the floor.
Anybody know what I can watch or tune into to prolong the moment besides ESPN News until Sportscenter comes on?
With four minutes left it's not over yet, but it might as well be. Strange game. But Arizona hit their shots and Illinois didn't.
Maybe next lifetime...
DOWNDATE: Uh, whoops. As we head into OT, I only wish Illinois had played with the same sense of urgency for the whole game.
DOUBLE DOWNDATE: Hah! My secret strategy of giving up hope worked! Everybody, come on down and meet me in St. Louis!!! And uh, bring a couple of extra Final Four tickets.
TRIPLE DOWNDATE: Anybody know how I can, uh ..., unburn my, um ..., lucky sweatshirt?
West Virginia is shooting threes against Louisville today the way Villanova shot twos when they beat Georgetown back in 1985. But all the CBS talking heads are missing the point, again. West Virginia is up 40-27 at the half primarily because Louiville has only scored 27 points at the half. Rick Pitino better be spending halftime adjusting his offense. If WVU hits threes in the second half the way they did in the first half, then they are on to St. Louis regardless of what Louisville does -- you cannot effectively defend a team if they can throw it in from 24 feet or, worse, bank it in from beyond the arc as the shot clock is winding down. On the other hand, if WVU comes back towards the mean a little on there threes, as I expect, Louisville will still have to score more than 27 points in the second half if they are going to win. Unless Louisville starts forcing it inside where they should be dominant, getting some fouls and shooting better than 38%, they are going to lose.
Oh, and for CBS's play-by-play announcer, I wrote yesterday that this game was a tossup, so it's not true that nobody gave WVU a chance. Jeez, it's as though Brent Musberger is back telling us who's going to win at the opening tip. After all, "it's only a matter of time."
DOWNDATE: Well, WVU did come back to earth a little and Louisville mixed it up inside and outside to push it to OT. I thought with Garcia fouled out and Dean sitting out with cramps that WVU would take it, but they didn't. Good game.
No, it doesn't mean the Big 10 is better than the ACC. But it does mean that the Big 10 is a lot better than all the sports pundits have been saying all year. And gee, maybe Illinois is pretty damn good after winning both the Big 10 Conference title and the Big 10 Conference Tournament. Hey, maybe one of my all Big 10 brackets might do ok after all!
DOWNDATE: UNC avoids an ACC Black Friday by 1 point. Somehow, if Illinois won a game by 1 point against a team who had just lost their best player to a torn ACL, I think I'd be hearing a lot about how vulnerable Illinois is. Hey, I'm just sayin'. And the Kentucky - Utah game was perhaps the ugliest Elite 8 game I can remember seeing. Jeez, Utah could have won easily if they would have made some free throws or layups.
DOUBLE DOWNDATE: Here's the bracket status with the record and teams in the Elite 8:
Kirkwood Illiniwek: 37-19 (3)
Kirkwood Illlini: 34-22 (3)
St. Louis Illini: 35-21 (3)
St. Louis Illinois: 42-14 (6)
St. Charles Austin: 39-17 (3)
The St. Louis Illinois entry has Illinois, Arizona, UNC, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Kentucky correct -- with Illinois, UNC, and Michigan State moving on, which seems reasonable. They are now tied for 22,853rd place out of 2,800,000 entries in ESPN's Tourney Challenge. That's not too bad.
My, my, what will Kiefer Sutherland do for work now? But why would the BBC put quotation marks around "kills 24"? Is it because all 24 were, ahem, "freedom fighters"?
A gun battle between Iraqi insurgents and US troops near Baghdad has left 24 rebels dead, the US military says.
DOWNDATE: AP says it was 26. Fortunately, all were still "freedom fighters".
DOUBLE DOWNDATE (In an NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament Dickie V. Hand Waving Style): The Liberators are on a 26-0 run, baby, answering every threat, denying the passing lanes with their pressure defense, scoring at will, taking it to Iraq and slamming it home with authority. Dipsy-do, dunkaroo, it's awesome baby!
Too bad Terri Schiavo can't kill someone right now. Of course, any of these four bastards would be a good place to start:
Four gangsters have been jailed for life for machine-gunning two teenage girls outside a New Year party, a murder spree which prompted a wave of revulsion against gun crime. A judge at Leicester Crown Court on Monday recommended that Michael Gregory, 23, Nathan Martin, 26, and Marcus Ellis, 24, -- a half brother of one of the victims -- serve a minimum of 35 years each in prison. A fourth man, 20-year-old Rodrigo Simms, should serve at least 27 years, the judge said.
But that is a rather unusual definition of "life", in't it guvnor?
One of the sharper minds in the blogosphere has returned with a seemingly contrarian view on Summersgate.
Since I started it, I'll keep it coming with my brackets through round 2 and the number of teams left in the Sweet 16 in parenthesis:
Kirkwood Illiniwek: 34-14 (10)
Kirkwood Illlini: 31-17 (8)
St. Louis Illini: 32-16 (8)
St. Louis Illinois: 36-12 (10)
St. Charles Austin: 36-12 (11)
All things considered, still not too bad. First place in ESPN's contest is now 44-4 after round 2. My best team is now tied for 43,637th place, which is in the 98th percentile. FWIW, Joe Lunardi is now 30-18 after round 2, with only 6 teams left in the Sweet 16.
Over the last few weeks, I was beginning to think that Billy Packer had shed some of his ACC bias, but watching the last few minutes of the Duke - Mississippi State game, I see my assessment was premature.
DOWNDATE: Headline corrected, basketball fatigue must have set in.
Wouldn't you be embarrassed by the promos your network is running for Spring Break Shark Attack?
That's what Time calls John Kerry:
It seemed as if the campaign had never ended. There was John Kerry standing on a chair in a blue neighborhood of Atlanta, in the Democrat-friendly tavern Manuel's, speaking to 100 folks, many of them wearing Kerry-Edwards T shirts. The Massachusetts Senator insisted that he wasn't "one to lick wounds," but then he did: he noted that Bush had won with the smallest percentage margin ever for an incumbent and complained that the Republican team had six years to develop its electoral strategy while his had only eight months. And although he claimed that "my focus is not four years from now," he made sure his audience knew just how viable a candidate he had been--and could be again. "We actually won in the battleground states," Kerry said, adding that his loss in Ohio was so close that if "half the people ... at an Ohio State football game" had voted differently, he would be in the Oval Office now.
I never realized that optimists spent so much time looking backwards and so much effort making excuses. And for the record, the Horseshoe holds 101,568 people while John Kerry lost Ohio by 118,601 votes.
What a maroon.
A common cry this time of year has been usurped by the denizens of Dallas:
The city's crime rate was the highest among nine U.S. cities, including Houston, with more than a million residents for the seventh consecutive year in 2004, according to police statistics.
But the real reason I highlighted this story is buried a little farther down:
Criminologists warned that strictly statistical comparisons can be misleading. They say the crime data can't account for the willingness of residents to report crime, the number of workers and shoppers who visit the city daily, as well as differences in geography, development and transportation. Many New Yorkers, for example, take mass transit, lowering the number of vehicles that can be broken into or stolen.
While concurrently, of course, increasing the up close and personal interactions for everyone fortunate enough to spend an extended period of time in cramped underground quarters where everything is sweetness and light. Oh dear, they forgot to take credit for that.
Dr. Dean tries to stay topical:
"Keep it simple" is the key to the White House, failed Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean told members of his party from around the world last night. One major reason his party lost the 2004 race to the "brain-dead" Republicans is that it has a "tendency to explain every issue in half an hour of detail," Dean told the semi-annual meeting of Democrats Abroad, which brought about 150 members from Canada and 30 other countries to the Toronto for two days.
And we all know what Democrats want to do to the brain-dead, now don't we?
But Mary Schindler pleaded for parents nationwide to call their congressional representatives and pressure them to vote for a bill to prolong her daughter's life. "There are some congressmen that are trying to stop this bill," she said outside her daughter's hospice. "Please don't use my daughter's suffering for your own personal agenda."
... Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., issued a statement late Saturday saying he will make an objection that would stop the vote Sunday. Any member can demand that a majority of members be present to do business. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said he was trying to gather enough votes to defeat the bill Monday.
If we can't be trusted to tell the truth on the meaningless little stuff:
Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters demonstrated across Europe on Saturday to mark the second anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, with 45,000 Britons marching from London's Hyde Park past the American Embassy to Trafalgar Square.
British elections expected in May lent an added charge to the largest protest, in London, where Prime Minister Tony Blair's staunch backing of the war has diminished his base of support.
Police said about 45,000 demonstrators participated in a march; organizers put the number at 100,000.
How can we trust you on the big things?
Wouldn't it be better to just put an end this little fiefdom?
Deeply in the red, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights voted yesterday to conduct an audit of how it has spent its $9 million annual budget over the past several years.
The meeting came a day after commission Staff Director Kenneth L. Marcus told a congressional subcommittee that the agency had failed to pay $75,000 in rent last year and that employees who won an equal opportunity complaint against the agency had not received the $188,000 partial payment owed them.
Marcus had more bad news yesterday, saying that the commission was more than likely underfunding its employee benefits package, and that budget shortfalls would force the board to consider a significant number of layoffs as it undertakes reforms recommended by the Government Accountability Office.
Commissioners said they had been kept in the dark on financial problems by former staff director Les Jin and the panel's former chairwoman, Mary Frances Berry. Two commissioners, Chairman Gerald A. Reynolds and Peter N. Kirsanow, asked Marcus whether he had uncovered any evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing. Marcus said he had not.
But commissioners were upset that the agency's acting budget director, George Harbison, had not seen its ledger of income and expenses for the past year. It was last known to be in Jin's possession, Harbison said.
"If a private company didn't have a ledger, then somebody goes to jail," Reynolds said.
Someone would go to jail. Ha, good one.
Mend her, don't end her.
Whatever happened to, "First, do no harm."?
One of the arguments against the death penalty is that we can't correct our mistakes. Well...?
I thought the problem was that North Korea was pushing ahead with nukes.
It appears we've reached the pivotal moment in the Terri Schiavo case, and it also appears our politicians, our senators and congressmen, might benefit from some observations.
In America today all big stories have three dimensions: a legal angle, a public-relations angle and a political angle. In the Schiavo case some of our politicians seem not to be fully appreciating the second and third. This is odd.
Here's both a political and a public-relations reality: The Republican Party controls the Senate, the House and the White House. The Republicans are in charge. They have the power. If they can't save this woman's life, they will face a reckoning from a sizable portion of their own base. And they will of course deserve it.
Sure, Peggy. After all, we all know that Republicans act as a single monolithic bloc and won't tolerate any dissent from the revealed truth. Is that it? Or is it that the Democrats have a much more preferable approach to these life and death issues?
As should be obvious with the hand-wringing over the federal judiciary, the Republican's majority, while existent, is neither broad nor deep, and wielding it like a sword of righteousness will guarantee its demise faster than anything else I can think of. I firmly believe it is wrong to have Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed for a lot of reasons, but, seemingly unlike Peggy Noonan, I don't think it the only issue in front of us.
You have to choose your battles wisely and, most importantly, live to fight another day. This is a battle worth fighting, but once you've lost you have to regroup and keep up the good fight through something other than a frontal assault against an entrenched enemy. If you are going to fall on your sword every time on principle or mindlessly sacrifice every soldier because, damnit, you're right, you may achieve some significant victories, but you also aren't going to last very long.
Maybe Ms. Noonan shouldn't pitch her tent outside if it's going to shrink every time it rains.
In the bizarro world where Spock has a beard, Bud Selig has a clue, Tony LaRussa really is a baseball genius, and Jacque Chirac has respect for the smaller nations of Europe; Mark McGwire missed an opportunity to not be quiet about his personal steroid abuse:
La Russa, who managed McGwire on both the Oakland Athletics (news) and the Cardinals, said he believes McGwire's denials. "In my opinion, being under oath wouldn't have changed what he said," La Russa said at spring training in Jupiter, Fla. "I think he was overcoached. Mostly, I think it was a missed opportunity to explain that if you use substances like creatine and over-the-counter stuff that's not illegal, you can get the benefits of a hard-core weight training program. And that was never discussed. You can get bigger and stronger doing this legally, and I didn't hear that."
Never better than late, or something like that. Come to think of it, it doesn't sound nearly as clever now that it has been electronically engraved into the ether.
(Holding nose for effect) ... and coming around the third turn, Barbara Boxer noses ahead of Patty Murray for stupidest US Senator:
Why would we give lifetime appointments to people who earn up to $200,000 a year, with absolutely a great retirement system, and all the things all Americans wish for, with absolutely no check and balance except that one confirmation vote. So we're saying we think you ought to get nine votes over the 51 required. That isn't too much to ask for such a super important position. There ought to be a super vote. Don't you think so? It's the only check and balance on these people. They're in for life. They don't stand for election like we do, which is scary.
And when exactly does Ms. Boxer expect that the Democrats will once again have a 60-40 majority in the Senate? Or would a switch of six votes suddenly bring her back to reality?
Tell me again why you are opposed to the death penalty:
The body of missing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford was found early Saturday, a day after officials said a registered sex offender confessed to kidnapping and killing the girl. Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said Jessica's body was found during an overnight search in a densely wooded area, only about 150 yards from the home the girl shared with her father and grandparents.
Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, visited the search scene shortly after sunrise and later gave a brief, emotional statement to reporters. "Everyone heard me say, time after time, that she would be home," Lunsford said, his eyes hidden behind dark black sunglasses. "She's home now."
John Evander Couey, 46, confessed to kidnapping and killing Jessica after taking a lie-detector test Friday in Georgia, Dawsy said. She disappeared from her bedroom more than three weeks ago.
I still have trouble understanding why sex offenders are ever released back into society, instead of being thrown into a dank, dark hole until the arrival of their execution date.
So much for making Roy Williams face his former players, much less Bill Self facing his former players in the finals. Day 2 wasn't quite so kind, but it was awfully exciting:
Kirkwood Illiniwek: 24-8
Kirkwood Illlini: 23-9
St. Louis Illini: 24-8
St. Louis Illinois: 26-6
St. Charles Austin: 25-7
Still not too bad, but unless Michigan State and Gonzaga make it to the Final Four, I won't be winning anything. No one in ESPN's contest is better than 30-2 after day 2. My best team is now tied for 130,771st place. FWIW, Joe Lunardi improved about as much as I got worse and is is 24-8 after day 2. If only we could have put my day 1 with his day 2 we'd have something.
Apparently, taking steroids shrinks your testicles and your credibility:
Once, he was compared to Babe Ruth. Thursday, he was compared to Enron. That's not what you call a great day on Capitol Hill. But that's the kind of day it was for a fallen living legend named Mark McGwire. People are never going to look at him the same now. Not after a day of dodging questions the way he once dodged fastballs steaming toward his eyebrows.
Legally, of course, McGwire didn't have to answer those questions. Remember that. The men who wrote the Constitution handed him that right. So in a way, all he did was exercise his fundamental right to avoid ensconcing himself in a whole mess of trouble. But a lot of good that will do Not So Big Mac with millions of people who once loved him, cheered him, froze their existences those four times a night when he walked toward home plate.
It was way too clear what he didn't want to talk about and why he didn't want to talk about it. Now he has to know, just as we know, what that means. It means he drove his reputation off a cliff Thursday, and left his legacy irreparably splattered. Very possibly beyond repair. He didn't want to talk about the past. That's what he said. But now, that part he didn't want to talk about is all anyone else will ever want to talk about. And that ain't good.
We're at war in Iraq, at war in Afghanistan, threatened by Al Qaeda, mired in budget deficits, faced with gargantuan liabilities in Social Security and Medicare, struggling to sustain the fighting capacity of our military forces--and what does this committee think warrants its urgent attention? Whether a handful of overpaid entertainers are taking forbidden pills to improve their performance.
The hearing rests on two well-worn premises that ought to offend the conservative sensibilities of Republicans, who control this committee and Congress. The first is that absolutely everything is a federal responsibility. The second is that the private sector needs incessant guidance from government.
But, is it really so bad that Congress is preoccupied with something that might actually be mildly helpful rather than focusing on the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, threats by Al Qaeda, budget deficits, gargantuan liabilities in Social Security and Medicare, and sustaining the fighting capacity of our military forces? Or do you really believe that self-serving, self-righteous, partisan propogandizing a la "No Blood for Oil!", "the brutal Afghan winters", "Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11", "what Social Security crisis?", and the frequently mindless, disrespectful carping about Secretary Rumsfeld and his deputies refocusing of the Defense Department is preferrable to one pampered group giving a well deserved hard time to another pampered group instead?
But I do believe Donald Fehr is going to find Congress a somewhat more formidable opponent than Bud Selig. They play hardball, and moneyball, too.
My bracket went 15-1 today with the only blemish Cincinnati beating Iowa. But watching Illinois is proving very stressful.
Well, technically, I have five entries in ESPN's contest:
Kirkwood Illiniwek: 14-2
Kirkwood Illlini: 13-3
St. Louis Illini: 13-3
St. Louis Illinois: 13-3
St. Charles Austin: 15-1
Not too bad considering the necessity of picking a few upsets. That last one has me tied for 6,852nd place. FWIW, Joe Lunardi is 10-6 after day 1.
Is probably sufficient to get you a Sine Qua Non link:
Rulers who promote such harsh restrictions remind me of the twisted monk Jorge in Umberto Eco's book The Name of the Rose. Jorge banned a book by Aristotle on the value of laughter, on the rationale that laughter undermines respect for authority: "Laughter, for a few moments, distracts the villain from fear. But law is imposed by fear, whose true name is fear of God. ...if laughter is the delight of the plebians, the license of the plebians must be restrained and humiliated, and intimidated by sternness."
There's been a great deal of commentary lately on whether bloggers deserve the same rights as journalists. But what if we turn it around by suggesting that the core problem is that journalists lack the privileges of bloggers? What privileges, you ask?
1. The right to wear the opinions on their sleeves, or skins if you prefer. Nothing gets Big Media taken less seriously than their pretense of objectivity.
2. The right to correct errors without passsion or prejudice. The two biggest Big Media scandals (Rathergate and Easongate) became scandals precisely because of a circling the wagon mentality and a refusal to admit error immediately and forthrightly. The Better Blogging Bureau, i.e., the readers, will not tolerate such shoddy behavior for long.
3. A true celebration of diversity. True diversity of thought is readily available in the blogosphere to a depth and breadth unknown in Big Media. Frankly, Stephen Levy's idea of diversity in the blogosphere is sexist and racist, since he apparently believes that there are unique truths discernable only to sexually and racially balkanized groups. The blogosphere is a true marketplace of ideas, where melting pots and stews gather to produce a delightful melange of intellectual sustenance.
4. Freedom of the presses, not just freedom of the press. As H. L. Mencken once observed, "Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one." The evolution of the Internet, graphic browsers, and blogging software has transformed Speaker's Corner from a soapbox in Hyde Park to a worldwide platform where good ideas are repeated and promulgated and bad ideas are ridiculed and lost to posterity. It is ironic that so many concerned about the effects of corproate media consolidation are so opposed to the most effective counter to a limited media marketplace. Just as universal suffrage evolved from a severely limited franchise of landed gentry, the establishment of the blogosphere has empowered everyone with the ability to make one's thoughts and opinions freely available without having to bow or scrape to someone who owns a press. When it comes to publishing, "by your leave" has left the building. This is a good thing.
Buried towards the end of a long hagiographic article on Ken Burns' giving the Americans for the Arts annual Nancy Hanks Lecture, author Philip Kennicott includes this little gem:
The We posited by mainstream cultural voices, of course, doesn't include everybody (the PBS We isn't comfortable with gay people, if the "Postcards From Buster" incident is any evidence).
The mind reels at what it takes to imagine that PBS is not comfortable with gay people. Postmodern illiberalism is a very strange religion where a single sin can aparently get you condemned for all eternity. Heavan on earth is going to be a lonely place for the self-selected.
Who are the best five collegiate players that you saw in person while they were in college? Can you beat my all star team:
Of course, if someone will come forward with some Final Four tickets this year, I may have to change this somewhat...
The best three weeks in sport are about to begin. The bracket.
I told a friend earlier this week that the one team I didn't want to see in Illinois' bracket was Oklahoma State. But didn't the Oklahoma State players look a little less than enthused about being in the same region as Illinois? Oh well.
Do Arizona and Illinois always have to be in the same region? At least Kansas wasn't joining them yet again this year.
Chicago is very tough at the top, but a little softer down the middle, as it should be. I know I'll sound like a homer, but Illinois always seems to end up in the toughest bracket. Nonetheless, that doesn't look like it will be true this year. Alabama/BC looks like a good second round game.
There aren't any ACC teams in the Chicago region. That's unusual, especially since the ACC got 5 teams in the tournament.
Wake Forest did not deserve a #1 seed. I heard one ACC shill say that their loss against NC State didn't count against them since Chris Paul didn't play. Ok, then the win doesn't count for NC State either, and so NC State doesn't belong in the tournament. You can't have it both ways.
Georgia Tech made it as a 5. I said they'd get in easy earlier this week. But Maryland probably won't.
Louisville is a legitimate 4, and no higher. They didn't beat anybody this year. Seth needs to lighten up.
The Albuquerque bracket looks tough, with Washington, Louisville, GA Tech, Gonzaga, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, and Texas Tech. Damn.
Obviously, Syracuse must now go to Austin.
Some "bubble" team are getting seeded higher than a lot of folks expected. So far, Syracuse is looking kind of easy for UNC, although Wisconsin or Kansas might give them a game. Then again, Jim Putz, uh, I mean, Nantz just called it the best bracket he's ever seen in the NCAA Tournament. No East Coast bias there. And for the record, Kansas might as well be on the East Coast. Otherwise losing to Oklahoma State wouldn't have taken them from a 1 to a 3.
Oklahome State interfered with my prediction that the committee would put Kansas in Illinois' region just to see Bill Self go up against Illinois. I was wrong. That's twice so this year.
Austin starts with Duke, but watch out for Michigan State. And Syracuse. And Kentucky. But don't worry about Oklahoma. This one's pretty tough with Mississippi State and Utah thrown in there. Of couse, Seth just said it was set up for Oklahoma. Ha!
I still don't think NC State belongs in the tournament. But now the crying will begin from Maryland, Notre Dame, and maybe even Indiana.
Last three in: UAB, Northern Iowa and UCLA. Good for all of them. I am especially happy for Northern Iowa and UAB.
Oh yeah, I'm still waiting for someone to come forward with Final Four tickets for me.
If Ohio State hadn't self-disqualified themselves, would the under-hyped Big 10 have had six teams in the big dance?
My sleeper picks (must be lower than a 4): Texas Tech, Michigan State and Iowa State. Sorry, no sleepers in Chicago.
Clark Kellogg's sleepers: Alabama, LA-Lafayette, Florida (4?) and Utah.
Seth Davis' sleepers: LSU, Georgia Tech, Villanova and Oklahoma (3?).
Do these guys know what sleeper means?
My first round upsets: UAB over LSU, New Mexico over Villanova, Iowa over Cincinnati, and Creighton over West Virginia.
Final Four picks: Illinois, Gonzaga, North Carolina, and Michigan State.
Clark Kellogg's Final Four: Illinois, WF, Kansas and Syracuse.
Seth Davis' Final Four: Illinois, WF, North Carolina, Syracuse.
National Champion: Oh please, Illinois. But I do hope UNC makes it that far to play Illinois.
Isn't it grand?
Footnote: Is there anything more obnoxious than Digger Phelps wearing green, holding a green pen, and whining about Notre Dame not getting in, despite playing nobody out of conference nor winning anything away from home? Oh yeah, he's been predicting Illinois was going to lose for two months. And now he's got Texas beating them. How about a slight pretense of objectivity? Take a look at Jay Bilas. He's a true pro.
Somewhat later, oh please, stop with the Notre Dame whining. Here's Notre Dame's non-conference road schedule: Indiana, Michigan. That's it. And they were 1-1 in those games. The rest of their non-conference schedule (Harvard, IPFW, Charlotte Southern, DePaul, Army, Marist, Western Illinois, Samford and UCLA) were all at home. In other words, Notre Dame only played one team out of conference that made the tournament and they lost that game. The Big East was tough and they had some good wins, but far too many losses to less than stellar teams. And yes, for the record, I do have something against Notre Dame basketball and Digger Phelps that dates from 1978 when I was attending Illinois State Uiversity and we didn't get an at large bid to the tournament despite a 27-4 record, IIRC, while Notre Dame got a bid with 10 losses, again IIRC, because Digger Phelps kept yelling, "we beat UCLA twice!", and those were the only losses UCLA had. And in those days, the tournament still only had 32 teams, so there weren't many bids to go around.
In conclusion, I object to the attempts to make the selection process ever more subjective. It will necessarily be impossible to make it completely objective, but intentionally trying to go the other way is absolutely the wrong thing to do. Make the process as open and transparent as possible. Make it possible for teams to know they have to schedule good opponents and that they will be rewarded for doing so -- as long as they win some of them. Otherwise, Longwood might deserve a bid.
Ohmigosh, Digger just picked Illinois to win it all. I may have to take back everything I've just written. Nyah.
I present the following without further comment:
One of Britain's most senior police officers has admitted that his force is being overwhelmed by violent crime and cannot cope.
Steve Green, the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire, said that among the principal causes of the crisis were Government reforms that compelled him to use officers for clerical tasks instead of front-line duties.
The situation was so bad that he was preparing to "farm out" murder investigations to other police forces because his own detectives did not have time to tackle them.
Nottingham has been one of the worst affected areas for gun crime, which hit record levels across England and Wales last year.
So, are those NCAA Final Four tickets forthcoming or not?
I received this e-mail recently:
MY NAME IS HASSAN AL MOHAMMED FROM PALESTINE. I WORKED WITH THE REGIME OF YASSER ARAFAT AS HIS SECRET PESONAL ASSISTANCE. WE HANDLE ALLHIS FINANCIAL PLANS AND OTHERS. SIR I KNOW THE IMPRESSION THE WORLD HAS ABOUT ANY BODY FROM MY COUNTRY PALESTINE,DURING MY TIME WITH THE FORMER REGIME,I WAS ABLE TO SECRETLY SECURE THE SUM OF$25.5 MILLION US DOLLARS. WHICH WAS KEPT SAFELY OUTSIDE PALESTINE VIA A SECRET DIPLOMATIC MEANS WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF YASSER ARAFAT TO A SECURITY FIRM IN EUROPE.
THE FACT THAT THE FUND IS OUTSIDE PALESTINE NOW THAT IS MY HAPPINESS, BUT I AM STILL HIDING IN PALESTINE TRYING TO SEE HOW I CAN GET OUT, SINCE MY BOSS YASSER ARAFAT IS DEAD. I NEED YOUR URGENT AND SINCERE ASSISTANCE TO HELP ME CLEAR THE MONEY FOR INVESTMENT PURPOSES TILL I COME OUT OF PALESTINE TO MEET WITH YOU IN YOUR COUNTRY. I WILL LET YOU KNOW THE LOCATION AS WELL AS THE DETAILED INFORMATION AS SOON AS YOU ASSURE ME THAT I CAN RELY ON YOU WITHOUT BEING BETRAYED. PLEASE FOR SAFETY PURPOSE, IT IS BETTER WE LIMIT OUT COMMUNICATION TO EMAIL, FOR NOW. YOU ARE GOING TO INVEST THE FUND FOR ME IN YOUR COUNTRY AND YOU WILL GET 35% OF WHATEVER INVESTMENT WE VENTURE INTO. I WILL APPRECIATE IF YOU REPLY ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
HASSAN AL MOHAMMED
We've all had ample opportunity to snark and snicker at some people who have ratcheted their self-righteousness up another notch by proclaiming themselves part of the "reality-based community." In doing so, these same self-important people usually claim that those not wearing their tin-foil hats can't face or deal with reality. On occasion, they also set up a bizarre false dichotomy and lump the rest of us into what they like to derisively call the "faith-based community." Regardless of how they choose to characterize those not in knee-jerk lockstep, the embrace of the phrase "reality-based community" as an intellectual cudgel by the Angry Left is in fact a sad joke that they have played upon themselves.
Jonah Goldberg brings up Ron Susskind's insertion of the phrase "reality-based community" today, and suggests that what the unnamed Bush aide really meant was "status-quo community." Perhaps, but I think it is more likely that this aide who must not be named more likely used, and meant, the words "reality-based community" but as he pronounced the word "reality" he moved his arms, hands, and fingers in the same manner as Dr. Evil when he uses the word "laser." The point being that it isn't really reality that these people are dealing with but instead the carefully constructed fantasy world that for them constitutes what they believe reality to be. Could Mr. Susskind have consciously or subconsciously missed this important non-verbal qualifier that turns the meaning of the phrase "reality-based community" around 180 degrees while he was mentally composing his anti-Bush diatribe for the New York Times magazine?
For the self-delusional perception is reality. Their perception of the importance and solidity of the carefully constructed house of cards manifested by the UN, the ICC, the Kyoto Accords, and international law is their reality. Facts that don't fit their perception are discarded so as to preserve the reality they have so much invested in. Conversely, as every student of logic knows, from a false premise you can deduce anything. If a neo-conservative conspiracy to steal steal the world's oil can be perceived, it must be true! If they can imagine that President Bush knew about 9/11 but let it happen anyway, it must be true! The mere act of saying that Bush stole the election makes it true!
Once you appreciate its true meaning, the embrace of this phrase by the Angry Left is especially fitting. Who said irony is dead?
I just thought of a good title for a post on the Supreme Court's latest decision involving the death penalty, turning one of the Angry Left's mottos back on itself: Stare decisis for thee, but not for me.
Sorry for the delay.
I missed Dan rather's final appearance as the anchor of the CBS Evening News-like substance, innuendo and rumor. But since I hadn't seen him in action for at least twenty years, I guess I'll survive.
Ok, I've heard a lot about how powerful the blogosphere is. Here's a simple test to see if there is any real power out there in the greater blogosphere or if it is just all hot air.
I need two tickets to the NCAA Final Four in St. Louis. I am more than willing to pay for them, but I only want to pay face value rather than the ridiculous prices offered by the on-line ticket brokers. Like Patton demanding to be allowed to fulfill his destiny in WW II, I cannot believe the Almighty will deny me the opportunity to watch Illinois play in the Final Four here in the town in which I now live.
What's it going to be?
Just for the record, if you are looking for a prom dress or wedding attire, I'm certain there are better places to look for links than in my comments.
And some people are opposed to the death penalty. I can't understand it.
I suppose I could understand the Democrat's planned confirmation battle if President Bush had picked Michael Bolton to be our UN Ambassador, but John Bolton is going to hand them their asses on a plate. A very big plate.
But what is it about Boltons and hair? Just for "In the House" Ted (trust me, click on the link), one of these guys has the support of some sad people who think he should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the other is our next UN Ambassador:
Hint, it's not the guy with the website.
I expected that North Carolina would get some undeserved votes for 1st in this week's polls after Illinois' loss, but I'll admit being slightly perturbed that they got a few more than I expected. But what really pulls my crank is that the difference (7) between Illinois and North Carolina in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll is less than the difference in their first place votes (11). That means that some voters didn't even think Illinois deserved to be number 2 after their first loss of the year -- a 1 point loss on the road to a middle of the road Big 10 team team that Jeff Sagarin has above Maryland and North Carolina in his rating system.
I'm curious though, how many ACC or Big 12 teams were up by 30 over Wake Forest, Gonzaga, or Cincinnati at any time this year? Sure the Big 10 is down, but the Big East, Big 12 and PAC 10 aren't turning out to be as strong as we all thought they were a month ago. While the ACC may end up deserving as many as three #1 seeds in another week, that doesn't mean the rest of the conference is all that good, even if Maryland did manage to beat Duke twice and NC State managed to beat, well, um, nobody when you get right down to it.
P.S. For you Hoosiers, the possessive of Illinois is the only way in which it is proper and appropriate to end with an enunciated "s".
Name five famous Franks:
3. Lloyd Wright
It's still business.
I'd compliment and highlight this article by John Hinderaker in the Weekly Standard, but then it might be taken as a bit of unseemly self-promotion since I reached the same conclusion about the Supreme Court reinstituting the rule of men for the rule of law six days earlier.
Bal Harbor is a very nice place. You can do much worse than the Sheraton Bal Harbor or the Westin Diplomat a few miles north of Bal Harbor where my convention was beng held. But cruising south from there on A1A to Miami Beach, where in the hell do all those people eat? We couldn't find a restaurant Friday night until we got off of A1A onto 112 (Arthur Godfrey Drive!) and cruised over to US 1 where we ended up at a little place called Soyka's. I can heartily recommend it, maybe 2.5 stars out of four. Loud, but fascinating decor. Again, we only ended up there because we couldn't find anything cruising up and down A1A. Weird. In my time in Florida before, I've never had trouble finding a place to eat on the water.
All things considered with North Korea, Japan is probably the country most likely to be hit with the next atomic weapon. Why? I start with the assumption that North Korea is the country most likely to use an atomic weapon. This is arguable, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility. So who will it be used against? Certainly not China, snce China would have no qualms about making sure it didn't happen again. Probably not South Korea, since North Korea still seems to hope to eliminate the compass point adjective from it's name. Probably not the US -- see China. So who's left that is an enemy and within range? Well, there's the ancestral enemy, who just happens to be the ever closer friend of their great enemy. If things do happen this way, then Japan would still be the only country to have an atomic weapon used against it. This would, of course, be a very bad thing.
I was sorry to hear about the death of Mr. Calipari who was killed while after apparently rescuing Giuliana Sgrena. Unfortunately, much of the news now is confirming my darkest fears about so many people. The anti-American vultures are doing what vultures do best -- feeding upon the dead. I certainly hope that no American soldiers are hung out to dry for this to appease Italy. I can appreciate Silvio Berlusconi's problem here, but there's an awful lot we don't yet know, and I can only imagine that a car speeding through Baghdad and ignoring roadbloacks, checkpoints, or orders to stop is treated rather roughly. As I said, it is very sad, but it is far from an indictment of anything else that has happened in Iraq.
I read through the current issue of the Economist today while flying home. It's almost enough to make me wish I hadn't let my subscription lapse. Almost.
I left my first notebook of preliminary notes on Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose in my rental car. When I noticed I didn't have time to get back to the Avis, so I hope the gentlemen driving the courtesy bus is correct when he told me that they will mail it to me. If it arrives, I'll certainly send Avis a nice letter mentioning him by name. If it doesn't arrive, I bear no ill feelings toward Avis since it was my fault, but, man, there's a lot of lost work in there. This book really is going to to take me several years to finish.
I'm still rather annoyed at the Supreme Court's ruling that invalidated the death penalty for the wicked little murderers who committed their crimes before they turned 18. FWIW, I had already been in college for three months before I was 18, so, yeah, I think you be fully culpable before you turn 18. Like I wrote below, I'm still confused about why they limited the abolition of the death penalty to younger than 18, since all the cool kids already oppose it for everyone.
I guess I might have a comment about Bill Maher and Ward Churchill, except I quit watching Bill Maher a couple years ago. I really enjoyed Politically Incorrect, but by the second season of Real Time with Bill Maher he seemed to enjoy playing to the loony audience more than playing with the hypocrisy on the right and the left. So why is anyone surprised that he sides with Ward Churchill? Speaking of Ward Churchill, my great-great-grandfather was Cherokee. So maybe I should take even more offense at Ward Churchill than I do, if that's possible.
How 'bout those Illini? Here's an article that lists Derron Williams as the 2nd highest rated point guard in the country for the next NBA draft, though the ESPN headline blurb and link only mentions Chris Paul and Raymond Felton. But far be it from me to point out any particular ACC bias at ESPN. One question for ESPN's RPI though, how many games would Kansas have to lose for Illinois to pass them in the RPI? After all, Oklahoma State just lost to Kansas and that vaulted them ahead of Illinois. For some of you that know me personally, with my latest haircut "PERSECUTED" is becoming quit visible, even in broad daylight. Oh yeah, can anybody get me Final Four tickets? You'd think living in St. Louis would help, but apparently it doesn't.
So Sammy Sosa got tossed in the second inning of his second game in pres-season as an Oriole. I think the Cubs deserve a lot of credit for cutting this metaphorical cancer from their team.
I saw a clip of Kobe Bryant on ESPN the other day that caused me to lose a lot of respect for him. He pushed a player out of the way (no foul since this is the NBA) and then made a nice move to execute a reverse slam. Then he looked at his opponents and brushed his jersey as though he was knocking some loose ash of his jacket. Such class.
Is this format better than multiple posts? I apologize for any typos. I'm well into a nice Chianti Classico and I've noticed them popping up with a ridiculous frequency, but I'm not sure if I caught them all.
The Supreme Court has used a Missouri case to eliminate the death penalty for those under 18 by a 5-4 vote:
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Constitution forbids the execution of killers who were under 18 when they committed their crimes, ending a practice used in 19 states.
The 5-4 decision throws out the death sentences of about 70 juvenile murderers and bars states from seeking to execute minors for future crimes.
The executions, the court said, were unconstitutionally cruel.
But why are these executions now "uncontitutionally cruel" if they weren't before? Especially considering that:
The four most liberal justices had already gone on record in 2002, calling it "shameful" to execute juvenile killers. Those four, joined by Kennedy, also agreed with Tuesday's decision: Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.
Shameful. Not illegal or unconstitutional, but shameful. Oh but that's right, it's only the Taliban wing of the Republican Party who want to legislate morality. Yes, I support the death penalty for murderers and child molesters. If you disagree with that, we can argue the merits of the death penalty and try to change minds, we can work on the hustings to elect people who share our beliefs, or we can let a small unelected group ignore the will of the people for the temporal whims of what they believe is right. As Julian Ku notes, Justice Kennedy's opinion, writing for the majority, seems to favor the last remedy by relying rather heavily on non-constitutional justifications by citing:
Brief for Human Rights Committee of the Bar of England and Wales et al.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Art. 6(5), 999 U. N. T. S., at 175
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Art. 37,
American Convention on Human Rights: Pact of San Josť, Costa Rica, Art. 4(5)
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Art. 5(3)
Since the US Supreme Court has once again decided to yield to the peer pressure of international jurisprudence, I can't help wondering why they decided to stop with juveniles? After all, the rest of really cool kids in the EU and the UN dislike the death penalty, period. It is only a matter of time, or until the next death penalty case is brought before the court, that this same rationale with perhaps different citations can be used to eliminate the death penalty under all circumstances. And not because we the people decided to change our laws, but because five judges seem to value the opinions of people who are not citizens of the United States of America, people who are not bound by our laws and customs, people who, it must be said, frankly want to see the United States of America humbled and occasionally hurt, more than the freedom to our citizens to administer their own government. I am appalled.
If the Supreme Court continues to extend its brief in this manner, it will have stopped being an arbiter of the law and instead it will become the law. In other words, this is merely a return to the rule of man. That is what I find most troubling. Gosh, I can't wait for the first Supreme Court ruling that cites the new EU Constitution for a rationale.