Wednesday, May 14, 2008

defending those who have done wrong

The events of the past few days have underscored in my mind the need for defense attorneys, even for people who are clearly guilty of something. It also reminds me of the Clinton impeachment.

With Bill Clinton and Bill Belichick, in both cases we had people who had clearly done something wrong. But the problem is that, once the wrongdoing is exposed, it's easy for more accusations to arise which may or may not be founded. In Clinton's case, the wrongdoing was the affair with Lewinsky. The evidence of dishonesty, however, has led to oodles of conspiracy theories as absurd as that he was behind the deaths of Vince Foster and/or Ron Brown.

In Belichick's case, the wrongdoing was illicitly taping signals of opposing coaches during games. The pile-on was the accusation that he had also taped the Rams' walk-through practice before the Super Bowl in 2001.

It is difficult to stand up and defend somebody who has already been exposed as a cheater. Indeed, it is much easier to pile on, since anybody who defended BB in the past few months was derided as a loyalist kool-aid drinker. But when I saw Belichick dismiss as absurd the notion that they taped the walk-through, it seemed true to me. Not because he seemed particularly honest at the time, but because the explanation was so mundane and dismissive. He said, basically, that it would be pointless to tape a walk-through because you would get no information out of it.

The fact that the original story in the Herald was unsourced and never was verified, and that the entire Patriots organization was so vehement about its falsity, convinced me that there was no tape out there. I wasn't convinced that there never had been a tape, but I figured BB was smart enough not to allow Bob Kraft to be so explicit if there was any chance he'd be exposed as a liar.

I figured in the worst case, Walsh would say that there had been a tape, but he didn't have a copy. But the news is even more favorable for the Pats: not only is there no tape, but everybody involved agrees that there never was a tape.

Shame on the Boston Herald for ruining the Super Bowl experience for all Patriots' fans. Publishing an unverified story two days before the Super Bowl was inexcusable. I know that the Patriots won't use this as an excuse, but I have to think that bit of hullaballoo hurt their ability to focus on the football that day.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

celtics, hoyas, and media attention

Watched the Cs lose their 5th straight road playoff game. The formula was the same: the starters played well, the bench was mediocre, and then they couldn't score in the 4th quarter.

Barkley and Magic talked about this on the post-game show. Where a lot of the media attention in the Hawks series was on the Cs' defense, the real story, imho, is how clunky their offense is. Barkley and Magic pointed out that the Cs cannot get easy baskets in a half-court offense. This is exactly the problem. Down the stretch in close games, they are throwing up absurd 3-pointers. That's a sure path to losing.

Hmm...who does this remind me of? Oh, right! The Hoyas! The Hoyas have always (well, most of the the time) been a great defensive team, but aside from Iverson, they've always had trouble scoring consistently against good teams. Like this version of the Celtics, they are in great shape when they pound weaker teams, but I don't trust them in close games.

Having said all of that, the media attention poured on the Celtics is really excessive. There are 4 conference semifinals going on. In the first 16 games, the home teams have gone 15-1. And yet the coverage would make you think that the Celtics are uniquely doomed, even though their regular season record has given them home court advantage as long as they stay in.

When asked point-blank whether the Celtics needed to win a road game to win the title, Barkley said point-blank 'no'. And then gave his "boy is that question stupid" look. I like Barkley as a commentator. He doesn't bother to buy into the idiotic narratives that the media create to kill time. Aka Shaughnessy hype.

Part of the problem right now is that this Celtic team appears to listen to the media noise. I miss the days of Bird, who never gave a rat's ass what anybody else thought.

I'm not convinced this team will win, but I am also not convinced they will lose. They are surely a better team than Cleveland. But right now I think the Lakers and Hornets are playing much better.

Monday, May 05, 2008

ignorant right-wing blowhardedness...a case example

OK, on my gaming email list today, where political discussion is strictly against the rules, Ignorant Blowhard said today:

For fantasy and multi-power intrigues, I again direct your attention to
the New York Times, or to any pronouncement from the ---o--a-i- National
Committee (maintaining plausible deniability). Thank you. I remain ...

Numerous people objected to this comment. My reply was:
Just stop it already. It's not funny.

This bonehead had been told specifically in the past to not make political comments on this list. And yet he could not stop.

His reply?
No. You are correct. It is deeply sad, and has been for very many
years. Do you work for the Times? Are you a subscriber? Thank you. I
remain ...

Obtuse, supercilious, asinine.

I told him...
No, what's not funny are your ill-considered attempts to introduce "humor" to the list by
1) liberal-bashing
2) Democrat-bashing
3) NY Times bashing

The fact that you think all three are related suggests to me that you have not read the NY Times at all in the past 16 years. After all, which newspaper
a) pushed the Whitewater "scandal" incessantly for eight years
b) pushed Bush administration WMD bullshit for the 12 months leading to the invasion of Iraq

All of this is well-documented elsewhere. I suggest starting with Bob Sommerby.

You have already been told more than once that politics is absolutely verboten on this list, and have been steered to the appropriate list. Your cutesy games are, as () put it, passive-aggressive bullshit. We're tired of it.

You can rest assured that there are liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans and independents who all enjoy gaming and use this list to meet and discuss gaming. If we used this list to discuss politics, it would quickly degenerate into name-calling and flame wars. That's why we don't do it.

You are a relative newcomer to a list that's been around for over a half-dozen years now. The old-timers on the list are getting sick of your behavior. I don't give a damn if you're ten years older than me - as far as I'm concerned, that carries no weight whatsoever.


He continued to play the jackass at this point.

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Miss defender of righteousness and purity (but not,
conspicuously, freedom of speech). Methinks you doth protest too much.

First, I did not do 1 or 2, only 3. That you would see 1 and 2 (and
start to foam at the mouth) says much more about you than me.

Second, I did not say they were related; but you just did.

Third, I have not been told that politics is forbidden, as I have not
yet been political in this forum. I was once taken to task for
paraphrasing Dorothy Parker (which someone decided to take personally),
and now for a completely apolitical attack on the NYT for being
fantastic. Why must you assume that the NYT's antipathy for reality (or
my notice of that fact) is politically-based?

Fourth, why must you be so defense, aggressive, and profane?

Fifth, who is this "herd of independent minds" that you presume to speak
for? Do they know you are their leader?

Sixth, What has our ages got to do with anything?

Seventh, Do you overreact for a living, or is it just a hobby?

In short, you (and perhaps others) have taken a not particularly clever,
but also not particularly political cheap shot and have chosen to get
your panties in a bunch and blow this way out of proportion (and make it
much more political than it originally was). This brings us back to
point #4, above. Again, I apologize for any offense, it was not
intended. Sheesh! Thank you. I remain ...

I think that, if you look at what happened here, my anger was not at the original post. My anger was that, when confronted with rule-breaking, he just continued to act like an ass. I think he's a dope for ignoring the rules regarding the ettiquette of the list. But refusing to take polite advice and acting the clownish moron is quite another thing.

Time and again he refused to actually address the substance of anything I said. Anyway, here I go...

Now you are claiming that you did not criticize Democrats today.

Cut the horseshit and stop insulting people's intelligence. You definitely took a potshot at the Democratic National Committee as well as the NY Times. Deleting some letters and using the phrase "plausible deniability" doesn't give you any cover in this crowd.

We're not idiots, (). Stop treating us like idiots.

Another suggestion: if you use quotations, use them to actually, quote something. When you use the phrase "herd of independent minds" in quotes, you are falsely suggesting that I used such a phrase.

Calling me "Miss defender" of righteousness is another right-wing bs trick where you try to feminize anybody who disagrees with you. The phrase "panties in a bunch" is the same thing. I suppose I could escalate and ask you to wash the sand out of your vagina, but in general I disapprove of using misogynistic tactics in debate.

If you're wondering why you are pissing off so many people, maybe you ought to stop blaming the people you are pissing off. Nobody else has any problem obeying the basic ground rules regarding making cheap political shots on this list. I'm sure these jokes get chuckles and grins with the military crowd you hang out with, but in other crowds of people, they just make you look like a person hopelessly out of touch.

The reason why () identified you as right-wing solely because of a comment about the NY Times is because only right-wing extremists still cling to the idea that the NY Times is a red-wing rag filled with communist propaganda. That kind of thinking basically went out with Nixon, who, not coincidentally, was the person who also popularized the phrase "plausible deniability". Basically you are pushing a lot of right-wing buttons: belittling women, feminizing men, criticizing the NY Times, calling the DNC liars. From my standpoint, you are behaving like a caricature of weak right-wing thought.

I am not "foaming at the mouth". You are dealing with cold anger right now, not hot rage. Your failure to distinguish between the two does not serve you well. () and () are the ones who get angry quickly. I anger much more slowly, but you can rest assured that I am a far worse person to piss off than either of those two. I am far less forgiving.

You have been gently advised to remain non-political on this list. You've ignored that advice. Today, you made a smart-ass comment that pissed off a number of people. I gave you a less gentle advice. And now you're making it personal. I suggest you simply take the advice and not try to make this personal. It's not something you can win.

The issue here is not whether the original comment was offensive. The issue is how a person behaves when he is asked to adhere to the rules of the list. The person in question here
a) ignored previous requests to keep the list apolitical
b) obtusely pretended to not understand today's requests to keep the list apolitical
c) lied about how he injected political comments into an apolitical list
d) was abusive towards the people who tried to politely point out the problems with what he was doing
e) made irrelevant complaints about free speech rights

I make this post not solely to detail the behavior of somebody I am increasingly viewing as an ass. I do it to highlight the utter idiocy of his original comment, linking the NY Times and the DNC.

Consider today's column by Glenn Greenwald. (This was coincidentally published today, but considering how egregious the Times has been in recent years, the coincidence is hardly noteworthy.)

Basically, what has been happening with the NY Times is recent years is that it has been a ready conduit for propaganda and misinformation put forth by neocons who want to continue and expand the wars in the Middle East.

A snippet:

As usual with Gordon's articles, nothing is done here other than uncritically repeating Bush administration claims under the cover of anonymity. Virtually every paragraph in this article is nothing more a mindless recitation of uncorroborated assertions which he copies from Bush officials and then weaves into a news narrative, with the phrase "American officials say" tacked on at the end or the phrase "according to officials" unobtrusively interspersed in the middle

In contrast, the DNC is run by Howard Dean, who was nearly unique in his willingness to publicly criticize the war in Iraq back in 2004.

How any thinking person could make a link between the NY Times and the DNC is truly mind-boggling in these times.

in case it's not clear in the font, I used parentheses '( )' where I deleted anybody's name. For some reason, it looks like the letter O.

Celtics advance

After seeing the Celtics struggle in Atlanta three times, it was gratifying in a very belated way to see them blow away the inferior, sub-.500 Hawks yesterday.

The series raises questions that are still troubling. Why, after having gone stone cold in the second half twice in Atlanta, did they have exactly the same problems in Game 6? To be fair, I think their effort was a bit better in Game 6 than in Game 4. But they suffered because Pierce had bizarrely fouled out and Ray Allen was stone cold.

The game 7 thrashing was so complete it went past the point of being embarrassing for the Hawks to where it was embarrassing for the Celtics. Why, if they were so superior, did it take this long?

So, here come LeBron James and the Cavs. To put this in perspective: the Cavs, not the Pistons, are the defending Eastern Conference champions. Anybody who takes them lightly is a fool. (I'm looking at you, Gilbert Arenas.)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Iron Man rocks

Robert Downey Jr. is excellent. The screenplay is good, and the action is tremendous.

Any fan of action films or comic book adaptations has to see this film - at least twice.

Jeff Bridges plays Tony Stark's partner. It's really weird seeing The Dude playing an arms merchant. Also weird seeing Gwyneth Paltrow playing the demure assistant type. But Bridges is much weirder.

Anybody who sees this needs to stay through the end of the credits for a neat cameo.