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Archive for October, 2009

Mad Men Shallow Thought

[ 0 ] October 11, 2009 |

“Mr. Draper, are you saying Jesus Christ can’t hit a curveball?”

Isn’t it a little distracting to have Conrad Hilton being played by Eddie Harris?


Trust. But, As Long As It’s A GOP Talking Point, Don’t Verify.

[ 0 ] October 11, 2009 |

I’m sure a lot of our students are hoping that we’ll adopt Fred Hiatt’s rigorous standards for assessing the veracity of claims* published in his op-ed pages:

Me: I always like to see a groundbreaking thesis in an American politics research paper, but your claim that Dwight Eisenhower was assassinated by the John Birch Society and secretly replaced with an innovative robotic model to finish out his term in office isn’t really sourced. What’s your evidence?

Student: I conducted research.

Me: What kind? Where?

Student: You know, research. From the library. Plus, a fellow student is writing a paper arguing that my thesis is unfounded.

ME: OK Then. A+!

*Note: Methods may not be available to non-Republicans


Blame it on the 70s

[ 0 ] October 10, 2009 |

This NYT story argues that the American legal system and the culture in general have become far less lenient toward adults having sex with minors since the wild and crazy 1970s. While doing so it softpedals Roman Polanski’s crimes, waiting until the 13th graph to mention that the girl he raped testified the rape was forcible, and failing to mention at all that Polanski now faces prison time for fleeing from justice for 30 years, in addition to the crime to which he pleaded guilty.

Worse yet, it frames Polanski’s offenses by comparing them to the fictional romance in Woody Allen’s film Manhattan, which involved a consensual relationship between a nearly 18-year-old character and Allen’s middle aged alter ego. Whatever legal and moral objections might be raised to such a relationship (and they would be considerable if, for example, the Allen character was in a position of trust or authority in regard to the Mariel Hemingway character — I saw the film 30 years ago and don’t remember if this was the case), it nevertheless involves a radically different situation than that in Polanski’s real-life rape drama.

The story also contains this almost unbelievably fatuous quote from Polanski’s probation report:

Possibly not since Renaissance Italy has there been such a gathering of creative minds in one locale as there has been in Los Angeles County during the past half century. While enriching the community with their presence, they have brought with them the manners and mores of their native lands which in rare instances have been at variance with those of their adoptive land.

In this context it might be worth mentioning that the late 70s did feature high profile films such as Taxi Driver and Pretty Baby, in which 13 and 12 year old girl characters starred as glamorized and disturbingly sexualized siren/prostitutes (Indeed the sexualization of Brooke Shields in general was a creepy motif of the times). But life doesn’t get to imitate art without criminal consequences, even in Hollywood.

Continuing the Sports Theme on LGM . . .

[ 0 ] October 10, 2009 |

The NYT reviews The Damned United, which piques my interest. When I have time, which latterly has not been plentiful, I devour film reviews, perhaps because Plymouth is not exactly in any one’s cinematic top 20 (this is one of the things I miss the most about Seattle).

I read the book when it came out, and it prompted me to buy several other David Peace novels. I have yet to see the film, however, so my observations on the review itself are understandably suspect. Scott gets one thing wrong in the review (though it may have been an editor in all fairness): when Don Revie left Leeds United, he took the England national team job, not the “British national team” job. Scott also charmingly admits that he hadn’t heard of Brian Clough, but then why should he have? Clough is a legend in England, was an enigmatic television presence (there’s plenty on youtube worth a watch) and had a magnificent career — probably the greatest English manager to never manage England. One of my best friends on this island grew up in Nottingham and was a Forest fan before a few years ago she unwisely traded in Forest for the mighty (and this year, relegation prone) Plymouth Argyle (she attended an Argyle – Forest match here at Home Park with loyalties deeply divided; she emerged an Argyle supporter and undoubtedly has regretted it ever since). While with the Argyle now, she still waxes eloquent about “Cloughie” (and retains a strong dislike for a certain Irish midfielder that Clough developed and then sold on to Man United). Clough’s son, Nigel, is continuing the family business; after an excellent turn at non league Burton Albion, Nigel took the Derby County job that back in the day made his father’s name.
If you can’t see the film, the book is definitely worth a read.
And as this is an international break, with WC qualification coming to a conclusion, I’ll have more to say about this particular sport soon. But first, I need to sort out some appropriate tags for this one from our limited stock . . .

Six Blind Mice

[ 1 ] October 10, 2009 |

When I posted about the latest Twins choke against the Yankees below, I wasn’t even aware of Phil Cuzzi’s attempts to resemble a major league umpire. Which reminds me that I meant to quote Joe Sheehan:

Inge also made some very strong defensive plays in the game, and had home-plate umpire Randy Marsh correctly called a hit-by-pitch on Inge in the 12th—the ball brushed his jersey, just barely hitting him, but by rule hitting him—Inge might well have been a hero.

As is so often the case these days, you cannot write about a big baseball game without using an umpire’s name. Marsh blew that call, which would have given the Tigers a lead. He just missed it, and the ridiculous justification offered by the announcers for it, “letting the batter decide the game,” was embarrassing. Eventually, you have to publicly shame umpires for their incompetence, or they’ll go on being incompetent. Marsh also made an ungodly bad call on a 2-2 pitch to Placido Polanco in the ninth inning, getting fooled by a breaking ball and giving Joe Nathan a key third strike. We can argue about whether he missed the play at the plate on Casilla as well, but the Inge and Polanco calls were more than enough bad to make Marsh the game’s goat. I fear we’re in for yet another month of fail from the arbiters.

I bring this up in part because I want to make clear that I’m not bringing this up to whine as a Yankees-hater. As far as I’m concerned, the Twins have absolutely nothing to complain about: they benefited from two crucial and abjectly horrible calls in the playoff, even after the blown call on Mauer they still had the bases loaded none out in the 11th and couldn’t get even one run off a very hittable reliever, and they wouldn’t have even been in the position if their All-star closer hasn’t served up a tasty meatball with a two-run lead in that ninth.

The problem isn’t that Cuzzi’s call helped the Yankees. The problem is that it was amateurish, absolutely unacceptable in a major league umpire, and we get way too much of this when the umpiring is supposed to be at its best.

putting the responsibility where it belongs.


[ 0 ] October 10, 2009 |

To state the obvious, he’s no Mariano Rivera. I’m glad I had plans so I didn’t have to see it live…

And despite Slappy’s performance (not his first good postseason one against the helpless-as-babes-against-the-Yankees Twins), sportswriters will still try to divide players into “clutch” and “not-clutch.”

Dan Riehl had quite the day.

[ 0 ] October 9, 2009 |

It began with poorly-punctuated outrage:

Are you frickin’ kidding me? What a stupid joke. What a worthless award. Video of the announcement here. They put weight on his WORK? For Nuclear Weapons? All he has done is TALK! This is total BS!


Shortly thereafter, the much-hated, reflexively-maligned MSM contacted him, and in his excitement, the source his hatred of it—jealously unbecoming of a toddler—because obvious:

I’ll be on the BBC TV network discussing the award with some folks from around the globe. I believe it’s 11:30 AM our time via World Have Your Say. Then, I believe I’ll be staying on for a live radio show an hour later. If it works out, this should be a fun day given the headline that attracted them. NO FREAKIN’ WAY!!

When he learned from the producer that he would be sharing the mike “with some folks from around the globe,” he

launched into American exceptional-ism, suggesting most of us probably couldn’t care less what the world thinks. I can hardly wait to share those views with some good folks from around the world! heh!

I’m not sure what he means by “launched,” nor why that hyphen’s there, but I do know this: he accepted an invitation to speak on behalf of Americans to the world and decided to use this opportunity to breathe life into the caricature of American conservatism whose defeat in the 2008 election prompted the Nobel committee to honor Obama in the first place. Moreover, he decided to do this without a wink of irony, meaning he did not give them what they wanted knowingly but without realizing that he was being played.

He is, in short, the obnoxious kid from down the block who would ask what you and your friends were playing and no matter what you were actually doing, you would always answer, “Hide and go seek.” After he took off and hid, you and yours would resume whatever it was he interrupted, while he would spend the rest of the afternoon in a tree stump glowing with yet another confirmation that no one could hide better than him.

Only now he has a blog and shares his daily humiliation with the world. Speaking of which:

Listening to the full hour, if it’s an indicator of how much of the world feels, is not real fun. But I would encourage you to listen to it all if you have the time. Most, but not all, sound like mouthpieces for the American Left. I’ll find the TV show, as well. I was so tired of the Bush bashing from that, I spoke out more on that during the radio show. I doubt the slice of the world that heard me today that doesn’t like Bush likes me very much now, either. To which I say, ask me if I care.

If conservatives learned nothing else today, it was that the rest world disagrees with them on issues of policy and matters of principles, so you would assume that interacting with it might “not [be] real fun.” Because when the real world collides with the Riehl World, it is never real fun … unless you happen not to be Dan Riehl, in which case, it really, really is.

Friday Daddy Blogging

[ 0 ] October 9, 2009 |

Miriam and Elisha

A Real Shift?

[ 0 ] October 9, 2009 |

Mr. Trend mounts a defense:

And while you can and should argue that in many ways, Obama’s policies reflect a return to Bill Clinton’s, I don’t think that holds in the case of international relations. Obama has proven himself much more open and reasoned in his policy making than even Clinton did. It’s about more than just being willing to talk to Chavez face-to-face at a meeting of the OAS, or have Bill Clinton pull some tricky negotiations to release hostages in North Korea, or find a path that the entire international community is willing to follow in dealing with Iran. Indeed, one simply has to look at Honduras since June. Obama has taken an approach to Latin American coups that the U.S. has never seen before – an open, non-partisan condemnation of what was clearly an illegal removal of a president, combined with a refusal to get directly involved by sending troops in. The U.S. had done this any number of times before, and every time, it was wrong to do so. For once, Obama relied on diplomacy, and even while condemning the actions, has refused to directly interfere in Honduras. Sure, he’s had the State department take measures to restrict the aid and cash flow to Honduras from the U.S., but that’s within his prerogative as president, all the while respecting Honduran sovereignty.

That sounds simple, unimportant; but from a history where the U.S. basically took every opportunity to meddle in, interfere with, and even directly undo democratic processes in Latin America from 1846 to 2002, this is a major, major shift. And it’s representative of Obama’s policies thus far – respect, doing what’s within his power without overstepping the sovereignty of others, all the while working to maintain global relations. Honduras isn’t the reason; it’s symptomatic of the broader, subtle, but major shifts in how the U.S. is forging a new path in its diplomatic history under Obama.

The Chamber of Commerce and Climate Change

[ 0 ] October 9, 2009 |

Some excellent analysis from Plumer. The information about the aftermath of the C of C’s decision to initially support Clinton’s health care reform — which, after all, was in the interests of many members — is particularly instructive.

You Go to Sleep, Then You Wake Up, and Wha Huh?

[ 0 ] October 9, 2009 |

Say what now?

In a stunning surprise, the Nobel Committee announced Friday that it had awarded its annual peace prize to President Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Less than nine months after he took office, the committee said, Mr. Obama “has created a new international climate.”

With American forces deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama’s name had not figured in speculation about the winner until minutes before the prize was announced here.

Next: Barack Obama, AL Cy Young winner?

….You know, if Obama were the anti-christ, he’d probably be winning a Nobel Peace Prize about right now. I’m just sayin’…

…obviously missed Dave’s post on the same subject.

It’s About Time That I’ve Voted for a Nobel Laureate

[ 0 ] October 9, 2009 |

What the hell? I seriously thought it was a joke when I got back from teaching International Relations 503 for two hours to read this. He’s been President for five minutes, and he is sort of more or less administering a couple of wars (which admittedly he inherited).

I’m sure the others will offer more in-depth observations in the coming hours for which I currently do not have the time to do, but I wanted to flag this to get the ball rolling.

I seriously look forward to the wingnuts going fantastically mental over this.

(NB: we don’t have a Nobel Peace Prize tag, so I went with the closest thing below . . . )

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