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[ 52 ] December 30, 2007 |

Admittedly, despite the lack of overarching historical significance yesterday where exciting comebacks are concerned I was more emotionally invested in the Flames’ later one against what in terms of its current personnel and management has to be far and away the most loathsome team in professional sports. But the game on every network in the country yesterday turned out to be an excellent one. And while I would in general have been rooting for the underdog, I’m actually happy the Patriots did it. The underdog thing is less compelling because the teams that could stop the Patriots from winning a championship are as bad or worse — any decent person has to hope they’ll pummel the Cowboys senseless if it comes to that. And I’m especially glad they went undefeated and hope they’ll now win because I’ve never seen any players less gracious about having a record broken than the ’72 Dolphins (who are also the Dolphins, and are based in Florida, so they’re already hateful before their specific odious actions.) In some way it’s understandable because had they not exploited an extremely weak schedule to go undefeated they wouldn’t even be in the discussion of the greatest team ever, but that’s all the more reason to be happy that the regular season record is now shared by a genuinely great team.

Plus, it makes Gregg Easterbrook cry.

…to be clear, I’m using the Csonka quote merely as an illustrative example; cf. also here and here.

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[ 9 ] December 30, 2007 |

The good news is that Will Saletan didn’t include “Black Stupidity” in his end-of-the-year list of “best Human Nature” stories. The bad news is that Saletan is still around to compile the list.

In happier Slate-related affairs, Dahlia Lithwick’s compilation of the Bush administration’s “dumbest legal arguments of the year” is well worth the time. In answer to the obvious question — “only ten?” — Lithwick points out that such a list is only possible if Abu Gonzales receives an entry entirely to himself.

God, what a crappy year it’s been.

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And the Kingdom of Darkness Extends its Dominion Upon the Earth…

[ 10 ] December 30, 2007 |

First Kristol, now this.

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In Case You Had Any Illusions About This Being A Meritocracy…

[ 0 ] December 29, 2007 |

Of course Bill Kristol has been hired by the Times; why should having seemingly endless access to other media outlets despite having no discernible expertise about anything and being consistently wrong about everything stop him from getting a prestigious gig on an allegedly liberal op-ed page? And, of course, the response to this latest reactionary affirmative action hire will be that they need even more conservatives

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[ 11 ] December 29, 2007 |

The Times has a year-end tribute to Steve Gilliard.

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Debate Question: Does Sean McAdam Belong in the Baseball Moron Hall of Fame?

[ 0 ] December 29, 2007 |

Yes. My evidence:

What? All of a sudden, won-loss record isn’t a fair measuring stick for pitchers? If we’re not going to take records into account, what’s the new standard?

It’s sad that a baseball reporter for the premier mainstream sports journalism organization can still, in 2007, be so ignorant of the basic metrics of the game.

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He May Be Right About Hockey Below the Mason-Dixon

[ 129 ] December 28, 2007 |

But Yglesias is wrong about so-called “ice girls.” Ygleisas yearns for half-naked women to objectify in order to better enjoy his hockey watching.

I don’t know about Matt, but when I go to hockey games, it’s actually to watch hockey. Fancy that.

UPDATE BY SL: Lest I be seen as endorsing that part of the linked post, I concur with Bean. As I told the person next to me at the game, I much preferred the Capitals giving youth hockey players the opportunity to sweep up the ice during breaks rather than scantily-clad women.

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It’s The Rules, Stupid

[ 0 ] December 28, 2007 |

To add on to what Markos says about Evan Thomas’s silly version of the “American politics went to hell when the pro-apartheid faction left the Democratic Party” narrative, for further debunking one can look outside the United States. First of all, if polarization depresses turnout, it’s rather hard to explain why countries with PR systems and hence much more polarized parties than the U.S. have much higher election turnouts. Even more importantly, the much greater turnout elsewhere makes it overwhelmingly likely that the unusually low voter turnout in the U.S. has nothing to do with some sort of inherent apathy among the electorate and much more to do with the fact that rule make it much harder to vote in the U.S. If you want to increase turnout, make the state responsible for ensuring that people register, give people time off work, make lines at polling places low, etc. How blurring distinctions between the parties is supposed to increase turnout, conversely, I can’t tell you.

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Fascists Everywhere! Except Among Jingoistic Supporters of Arbitrary Executive Power

[ 7 ] December 28, 2007 |

Brad listens to the podcast-from-hell so you don’t have to. There’s lots that’s amusing-in-a-depressing-way, such as a professor of law discussing William James and Jimmy Carter as fascists as if it was a perfectly reasonable proposition. But I have to say that I enjoyed not only the assertion that providing certain minimum living standards represents fascism but using college campuses as a metaphor for this because they involve “free food, shelter and recreation.” Jonah is in for one hell of a shock if one of his kids gets into NYU.

Meanwhile, as always the comments chez Dr. Helen are a treat; for example, apparently one example of fascism is someone who uses “dominate” in the sense of the word being forced to drop out of grad school because…some teachers and fellow students disagreed with his political views. As we all know, to a true anti-fascist rugged individualist success is only possible when all of your colleagues agree with you about everything.

If you haven’t already suffered from an overload of Teh Stupid, see Spencer Ackerman’s ongoing series of excerpts from Child Labor Laws? You’d Better Believe That’s Fascism.

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And If The Devil Rays Win the Next 18 World Series, Their Reputation as an Organization Will Be Greatly Enhanced

[ 15 ] December 27, 2007 |

As I’ve said before, nothing signals a Must To Avoid more than a positive book review that describes an unreadable book. Such is the case with Robert Dallek’s review of a new book about Condi Rice by official Bush administration mash note writer Elisabeth Bumiller. Apparently, we’re meant to think that the fact that the book makes no judgments and contains no interesting analysis of Rice’s tenure as Secretary of State is a feature, not a bug. The review does, however, contain this bit of high comedy:

Ms. Bumiller says that if President Bush and Ms. Rice can produce a settlement in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians and an end to North Korea’s nuclear program, it would give them claims on success that would significantly improve their historical reputations.

Uh, yeah. And if I discover a way of powering cars entirely with oxygen, emitting a vapor that would result in the immediate killing of cockroaches and paralysis in the hands of every Hollywood producer about to sign a contract with Joel Schumacher and Uwe Boll, my reputation as a world-class scientist would be greatly enhanced. I’m reminded of nothing so much as David Adesnik’s suggestion that Bush signal his commitment to a rational foreign policy by appointing Dick Lugar.

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Hockey Below the Mason-Dixon

[ 12 ] December 27, 2007 |

Yglesias says that “it’s a bit sad to see how much more engaged and knowledgeable the crowd at the Caps game is compared to the Wizards’ fans.” As it happens, when I was in town for Farley’s wedding since I had to go to the MCI Verizon Center to get tickets for a game in March anyway I decided to take in the Crapitals/Sabres game. Having seen a lot of games in Calgary and Montreal I was pleasantly surprised by both the near-sellout crowd and the intensity of the fans, neither of which I expected, and were impressive even given the artificial boost given by the presence of a real hockey market in the game (up in the nosebleeds where I was “Let’s Go Buffalo!” chants were frequent.)

Given the context, I was amused that the Capitals decided to combine two lame in-game promotions. A woman was participating in one of those “find the moving puck!” things, and in turned out that the prize for the contestant was…a marriage proposal. The punchline was that although it had to be the least challenging hidden puck/ball game in history, she got the answer wrong. But she said yes anyway.

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Better Get Moving, Congress…

[ 18 ] December 27, 2007 |

…Because after 2010, it’s likely to get even harder to pass progressive legislation. Why? According to predictions, the 2010 census will lead to a shift in the allocation of seats in Congress. New York will likely lose a few seats, while Texas, Arizona, and Florida are likely to gain seats.

This would leave New York with only 27 seats in the House, the lowest since the 1830 census.

For New York, this means that our Congresspeople better get to work in the next few years securing the resources the state needs. Because with fewer seats in Congress comes less power and less access to money.

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