Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Overblown Reactions...

So full of GRIT and HUSTLE!
Ok, I get it, Bryce Harper is a talented young player.

But...(and you knew there would be a 'but' - or perhaps a 'however')

Enough with the constant verbal fellatio for a guy who is hitting .267 with two homers and nine RBI in just over one-hundred plate appearances.  Projected out to five hundred appearances, that's ten homers and between 45 and 50 RBI. Not exactly impressive.

Yet, to listen to various announcers around the league, one would swear that we were witnessing the second coming of Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Roberto Clemente all wrapped into one.  Can he be a five-tool player?  Absolutely.  But he isn't there yet and he may need more seasoning in the minors before truly asserting himself.  I have found myself being nauseated over the constant gushing - whether over his stealing of home after Cole Hamels drilled him, or some catch and throw he made from the outfield, or a ball he launched for extra bases.

So I get that - he has shown some hints of what is to come.

During tonight's game, Harper tagged up on consecutive flyouts in the top of the fourth inning. Both the Nationals' radio crew of Slowes and Jageler and the TV crew of Carpenter and Santangelo were talking about how 'aware' he is and so forth.  But there's something about that that bugs me about all this and I have finally figured it out.  Ironically, it isn't really about Harper himself but about those who lavish this (mostly unnecessary) praise on him.  It's this:

The game doesn't change.

Tagging up is the same in the 3rd grade or the 8th grade or High School or the Minors or the Majors.

The game doesn't change.

Three strikes are still an out, three outs to end your half of the inning, and so forth.  The only thing that changes is the speed of the game; there is no change to the substance of baseball. The 'awareness' is either there or it isn't.

This is why I hate hearing announcers talk about 'rookie mistakes' - as if the game at the professional level is somehow different than it was at any level below.  Throwing home from the warning track when there is a runner at first is a mistake at any level; making the last out at third base is a mistake on any level.  Missing the cutoff man is a mistake.  Plate discipline is still plate discipline.  You have it or you don't.  

So Bryce Harper has tremendous potential, to be sure, but he still has a long way to go, and the hype machine isn't doing him any favors at this point.  It's very cliché at this point, but I have to say it...

Let's keep things in perspective.

On Summer Vacation (As A Teacher)...

Summer vacation is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, we are looking at an elongated amount of time for recovery after a hard-working year, and yet, for most of us, too much time off leads to a certain form of rustiness. Such a condition can take a good week or two to remove from both our brains and out bodies. Teaching is as much a physical endeavor as it is a mental one – body and mind need to be in sync with one another or else one’s performance will be severely hampered.

This connection cannot be underestimated; I remember one time my grandfather wondered aloud why I was so tired upon returning home. “All you do is stand up there and talk,” he said. Pfft, as if that's all it is. I said to him that he ought to deal with one-hundred and forty teenage boys on a daily basis, with everything else that implies. He backed down at that point, but I do not think he was ever going to truly concede the point that teaching is hard work and it takes a lot out of the person. So something like vacation is certainly needed, but like almost everything else in our world, there is a right way and a wrong way to carry out such a concept.

The wrong way is, unfortunately, the very reason why quite a few people get into the profession of teaching in the first place. More appropriately, the ‘three reasons’ – “June, July, and August”. Such a perspective opens up a conversation about means and ends and contributes very heavily to my questions about one’s motives in entering teaching. These are the people who begin their countdown to summer…in January. I will admit that once we get to about May 10th or 15th, I will begin looking forward to the summer, but for the aforementioned types, maybe it is time to pick another line of work.

A good rule of thumb is: if the school year is just the means of getting to the goal of a close-to-three-months' worth of vacation, then teaching may not be the right profession for you. Such people tend to look past their students and their duties and only focus on ends rather than means. Such people, I am sure, are in denial about this, but do not think that the attitude is not manifested and on display to the rest of the world. Social media, conversations, and general comportment tend to be dead giveaways.

The right way, then, is that vacation is the means for three things: recharging for the next school year, getting away for a little while, and to reflect on the previous year’s achievements and failures while preparing for next year. That last one is incredibly important, as I am a believer in the idea that failure is the best teacher; only after failing can one be a success. Reflecting on both ends of the result meter is of the essence because while perfection is a worthy goal, it can never be truly achieved in this world; we can only move closer and closer to it.

The unreflective teacher is ultimately one who is not open to learning; yes, the teacher can (and should) be taught. Each year is different and such reflection the teacher makes about his own ability, experience, and results is the difference between teaching for X amount of years and teaching the same year X times. The former is able to adjust to what is thrown at him by using his shortcomings to improve himself; the latter is so rigid in his structure that even though the times and the students change, he is unable to adjust or see his own shortcomings.

None of this is to say that the resting teacher should not just shut it off occasionally while on vacation. To the contrary, there should be some time to remove the thoughts of teaching from one’s mind. I tend to completely shut off in that regard from about mid-July until the start of the second week of August. It is about a three week period of being able to exhale and just be me without necessarily having the constraints of school. If I spend any longer than that, I feel as though I will be in perpetual catch up mode. By the second week of August, the engine is already starting to warm; it is in anticipation of being in high gear by the time school finally begins once again.

The conundrum, then, is trying to find that happy balance. It is a conundrum that the serious teacher can appreciate, since he is always looking for a way to hone his craft. While he knows that without an extended amount of time to relax life can turn ugly very quickly, he also knows that rust is something that is necessary to avoid.  The first few weeks of the school year are so vital to the tone and direction that working off rust 'on the fly', so to speak, can ultimately do more harm than good.  Better to have the muscles stretched out before the work even begins. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Little Bit Of Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing...

I have seen this on both Facebook and Twitter - both social media locations are touting this particular picture as something 'deep' and 'ironic'...

Actually, had people taken the time to research the issue, they would be sorely disappointed. Better to just pass along the latest meme and poke fun at practicing Christians, which has truly become the last acceptable prejudice in this country.  Anyone who is a practicing Christian who agrees with the picture as irony needs to be inform himself about the tenets of his own religion - and stop trying to be a conformist to the larger culture that is actively mocking the very faith that you allegedly practice.

So for starters - repeat after me.  The ceremonial laws of the Torah do not apply to Christians.

Moral laws of the Torah do apply to Christians.

Leviticus 18:22 is part of the moral law.  Leviticus 19:28 is part of the ceremonial law.  Should be simple.  In other words, we aren't practicing Jews.

Why am raising a fit about this?  Because we live in a half-assed society that is more concerned with looking cool and scoring points than in being knowledgeable.  If we were knowledgeable, then things like this would never get off the ground, because people could easily point out the very things I wrote above.  Instead, we get ridiculous commentary about how hypocritical and foolish Christians are, when in fact, it's the secularist and the scoffer who ought to be taken to school.  Facts are very stubborn things.

Now, if we would ever learn to actually use them...

In Soviet NFL...

Good Day, Comrade!
...joke laugh at you!

And so the latest installment of the Politburo known as the NFL has denied the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys their appeal over being stripped of a combined $46 million in salary cap space ($36 million for Washington and $10 million for Dallas) due to their..."violation"...of the..."rules"...regarding the salary cap-free 2010 season.

An Emperor Goodell stooge "independent arbitator" just flushed the whole thing out of hand? Why? Apparently because the NFLPA and the league agreed on the penalty.  I suppose that if I agree to rob a bank, and the police agree with me to go along with it and gag any potential witnesses, that makes it all better, right?  No jury could possibly find me guilty.

In the Soviet NFL, where the dog walk you...absolutely! 

ESPN's NFC East blogger, Dan Graziano thinks 'this is for the best'.  What a wimp:
It's all just plain ridiculous, the whole thing, and it's probably for the best that it all goes away. Everybody associated with it should be ashamed of themselves (though, sadly, no one seems to be). And while it's unfair that only the Cowboys and Redskins suffer for the arrogance of a group of people who continue to play its paying customers for willing patsies, the truly sad part is that anyone in this situation gets to walk away feeling as though he was in the right.
The whole piece is one gigantic exercise in moral equivocation and hand-wringing. Yeaaaaah, it was bad...but hey, oh look! SHINY OBJECT!  Nothing to see here folks!!

It makes me want to retch.  Snyder and Jones should be suing the daylights out of the NFL, and collusion ought to be investigated by the proper authorities*. How sad is it that nearly twenty-five years ago, the baseball players took the owners to court over collusion and won; NFL players now sign off on it because of the chance they might make $65,000 less dollars in a year.  Have some self-respect!

*Mr. President, if you could put down the rhetoric of envy over how legitimate businesses make their money for just one second, you might actually find real shady business dealings in the NFL.  Oh right, too many NFL players and owners are donors and ambassadors. Never mind.  Oh look! Shiny object!

I gave the NFL twenty years before it turns into something unrecognizable.  Who knows - with King Roger at the helm, it may just collapse on itself as a business model before anything on the field gets to it.  That's a shame.  I like professional football.

I just hate the NFL.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Guilty Pleasures...

Everyone has them – the things that you do that perhaps shouldn't be done, or more often, shouldn't be done nearly as much. Here’s a partial list of my guilty pleasures…

Reading Deadspin’s Funbag and Drunken Hookup Failure features. Basically, anything by Drew Magary at that site is worth reading. On Thursdays during football season, he has his previews for the slate of games called the “Jamboroo”.

Playing MLB: The Show on the Playstation. I am playing a career with Dustin as my character (I hate creating myself) – and he even wears #13, but is a pitcher (which is against the 'Unwritten Rules of Baseball" - unless you are Zack Greinke). At present, I am in the year 2021 with close to 230 career wins and 2,800 strikeouts, several Cy Young Awards and is a 99 in every attribute. The career has my character with the Phillies – although before you throw up your hands and say “but of course he is”, know that I pitched him with the Mets for three years and won two World Series with them. Yes, true, it made me die inside a little bit, but I believe that professional athletes give up their fandom once they are on ‘the inside’ of the sport. While this obviously is far from that state, it does gives a little bit of insight to that mentality.

Watching and reading Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. How can I read it, you ask? Tony Jay and Jonathan Lynn actually put together a novelized (or novelised, for any British readers) form of the two shows in the form of Jim Hacker’s diaries. In some ways, they are actually deeper than merely watching the shows, but it’s always best to watch before reading. It is a delightful program, er, programme and is probably one of the most intelligent shows ever made. It really had no choice in order to survive, since dialogue, wit, and acting had to dominate, given the setting (British bureaucracy and government offices). It won’t be for everyone, but I say give it a whirl sometime.

Yes - I own both of these (books and DVD)! And damn proud of them.

Bill Simmons’ columns. Usually on Fridays, Simmons will have a column of some sort up on ESPN (or now, Grantland) and if there was ever a guy for whom the written word was gold and the spoken word was fecal matter, it’s Simmons. Please get off my TV, Bill. I hate the sound of your voice, and you do so much better putting thoughts into words on my screen or paper. There aren’t a whole lot of better writers from a fan’s perspective, and that’s when he is on top of his game.

Cigars and Yuengling. Having a fine cigar after dinner or on a cool evening is damn near paradise. I know, I know, I am going to kill myself if I smoke them. Guess what – we all have absolute metaphysical certain that we will die. Combine that with America’s oldest brewery, Yuengling, and that is at the very least the equal of a fine hot fudge sundae.

Watching baseball – lots of it. I’m a junkie, and I’ll pretty much watch any baseball game on TV, regardless of who the teams are. Baseball is a beautiful sport – and it’s God’s sport too, because it needs the most intelligence of any out there in order to function. People who say the game is merely ‘see ball, hit ball’ have never actually played the game or watched one in its entirety.

There are others, but these are the big ones.  Yep, I know, I am incredibly dull in this regard. Sports, British sitcoms, laughing about people's stupid questions and failures, and unhealthy items if they are habitual.  What do you got?  Let's have them!

Good For Franciscan University...

On the side
of the angels
Franciscan University of Steubenville is dropping student medical insurance over the HHS contraception mandate.  Of course, this is going to smoke out all the so-called social justice-minded Catholics into screaming "SEE!! SEE!!" about FUS while ignoring the blatant tyranny of the Obama administration's edict, but then again, very little of this surprises me.

Those people ultimately don't care.  Why? Because politics and party affiliation come first.  Being Catholic comes second (maybe).  If being Catholic came first, then this sort of governmental overreach would have never made it past the Oval Office because "good Catholics" like Biden, Sebelius, Pelosi, et al would have ensured it never saw the light of day.

There is a reason why freedom of religion (note the "of", not "from", and likewise note "religion", not "worship") is part of the 'first freedoms'.  However, between Obamacare and the recent (politically expedient) push for same-sex marriage (an issue of its own) coming from the White House, that particular freedom is under massive assault, and there is a large percentage of people in the population who don't care, or are even actively cheering on said assault.  Of course, if the shoe were on the other foot and a Republican administration were mandating that everyone go to a Christian church, they would be screaming bloody murder and about how their constitutional rights were being trampled.  But in this instance?

The silence is deafening.  Crickets can be heard from sea to shining sea.

Therein lies the problem.  What's good for the goose is good for the gander, but apparently, people are too shortsighted to see that issues will arise if you give the government unchecked power to do what it pleases.  Just look at the issue of detention of terror suspects.  A lot of conservative and Republican types were cheering it on under Bush, but then decried it under Obama.  Can't have it both ways - goose, meet gander.

So I applaud Franciscan's decision.  They are taking a principled stand that has long term ramifications.  For people who wish to argue with me - please, please do NOT try to tell me that Franciscan University is depriving students of their right to "health care".  They aren't - they are standing up for their own freedom of conscience in deciding which benefits they wish to make available.  Health care may be a right, but having a third party pay for elective drugs is not.  You will never convince me otherwise.

Fight the good fight.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Insanity Of The State Of Maryland...

More of  that which Annapolis
wishes to place on us.
The Maryland state legislature has been in a 'special session' for a couple of days and is set to increase taxes on so-called 'high earners', but there was one thing missing from all the talk about the need to close the budget gap of close to half a billion dollars.

Spending cuts.

Apparently, the drug of giving away goodies to state employees has had its effect.  Governor O'Malley is hell-bent on giving a two percent pay increase to all state employees.  Keep in mind, of course, that the state (any state or even a little governmental jurisdiction) does not actually produce anything.  In other words, it is the ultimate charity case.  Forced 'charity', of course. At gunpoint. 

We have long been told by our political masters that we need to 'live within our means'.  Those words mean little to nothing to the fools who voted for these increases in Annapolis. Apparently, they forgot that being sent to the state house makes them servants of the citizens. Instead, we the taxpayers are the servants.  The buck is being passed to us by those who are by nature, takers, rather than producers.  And several people who live here are okay with that, conveniently neglecting the tenth commandment at every turn.

I salute you, Maryland legislature!  You are going to accomplish more than any gang, criminal, or crime spree could ever hope to! More people will move to Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  We are going to become the east coast version of California - one party rule on a sinking ship that seeks to blame everything and everyone else for its problems.  And yet, there are actually remarkably simple solutions to the problem...

Cut spending. And spending cuts. And reduction of spending.  Those are the top three solutions I can think of.

Eliminate several administrative positions in our University system.  Make professors earn their money by, you know, teaching, instead of getting tenured research positions that require just one class and several research junkets.  Cut back on the staffing in the bureaucracy that is starting to make Annapolis look like Whitehall.  Legislators should only get stipends rather than salaries.  Get the unions out of state employment and switch all pensions for those under 55 to 401k/403b plans.  Simple, isn't it?

Or does it make too much sense?

Monday, May 14, 2012

M*A*S*H Issues - Hawkeye Pierce

Out of all the main characters on the series, Hawkeye is my least favorite. Much of that has to do with Alan Alda’s projections onto the character, but at the same time there seems to be too much of an over-the-top aspect to the writing and the framing of the character. This was true even early on, before Alda got ahold of the writing and direction for the character (and the series) and drove him into the ground.

If one were to look back to even first season episodes such as “I Hate A Mystery” and “Yankee Doodle Doctor”, the character lacks a certain subtlety to it that is present in other characters. The third season episode “Adam’s Ribs” has a memorable scene in the mess tent, but the lines ascribed to the Hawkeye character are so unrealistic; no person would actually think to say something like this after being told that he would have to eat either liver or fish for the eleventh straight day:
It’s inhuman to serve the same food over and over again. Liver, fish, day after day! I’ve eaten a river of liver and an ocean of fish! I’ve eaten so much fish, I’m ready to grow gills. I’ve eaten so much liver I can only make love if I’m smothered in bacon and onions.

Or perhaps the following line, though memorable, is not something a regular person would say, from the episode “Officer of the Day”:
I will not carry a gun, Frank. When I got thrown into this war, I had a clear understanding with the Pentagon: no guns….I'll carry your books, I'll carry a torch, I'll carry a tune, I'll carry on, carry over, carry forward, Cary Grant, cash-and-carry, carry me back to Old Virginia, I'll even 'hari-kari' if you show me how, but I will not carry a gun.

While not portrayed the same way, Donald Sutherland’s Hawkeye from the 1970 feature film has a subtle and quiet quality to it. He is a much more cynical character in the film, and while they tried to play it that way at first in the series, over time the tie between film and series faded and Hawkeye became solely associated with Alan Alda’s rendering.

I understand the whole ‘great humanitarian’ thing, but that also became a parody of itself eventually, as if Hawkeye was the only one who cared about the fate of all of humanity, only he had the guts to take on ‘the man’. The latter was where it descended into parody more than anything else; no one doubted that BJ, Potter, Winchester, Radar, Klinger, or Margaret were humanitarians too, but none of their efforts were caricatured in such a positive fashion (if there is such a thing).

This is not to say that there weren’t positive things of Hawkeye. I have found myself moved at times with some of the things the character has said and done. His nervous breakdown and recovery in the finale (“Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen”) is one of the most riveting and chilling television experiences I have ever had, and even though I have seen it a thousand times, the chill remains each viewing.

So where can we find the problems? Part of it, no doubt, is the fact that the series went eleven seasons. With that long of a run, continuity is a huge problem, and characters just can’t stay stale for too long – Frank Burns became stale after four seasons; the series would have been intolerable with eleven seasons of Burns. 

The other main problem was Alan Alda’s projection of his issues and pet causes onto Hawkeye. While this could be seen all through the series, there were just too many things that were not part of an early 1950’s world and there was no way in hell that the stuff Hawkeye did and said that would have been tolerated in the army, even as skilled a surgeon as he was. They tried to write that away at various points in the show (even the pilot), but the reality is that he would have been at Leavenworth many times over, and not for the stupid stuff of which Burns accused him constantly (i.e. "The Novocaine Mutiny" - Season Four).

Thankfully, the series wasn’t just about Hawkeye, or else I think I would have hated the show completely, with all his whining about war, the army, and life in general. There were enough plot lines that didn’t depend on him to make it worthwhile, and many of the other characters were strong enough to provide a good counterbalance.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bittersweet Mother's Day...

First of all, I want to wish all the moms (and moms to be) out there a happy Mother's Day for tomorrow.  Every year on the Friday prior to Mother's Day, I exhort my students to thank their mothers (if they have the opportunity) for allowing them to live, especially since 'choice' is still the law of the land and has been since 1973.  Is it a bit controversial? Perhaps, but if people are going to be offended by kids thanking their mothers for not killing them in utero, then that's their problem, not mine.

Anyway, that's not what I was planning to write about - and the title of the post is not necessarily about tomorrow alone, but about the very notion of Mother's Day being bittersweet. To a large extent, this also applies to Father's Day.

The older I get, and the longer I have been married without any children (biological or adopted), the more I sort of want to look the other way every second Sunday of May (and third Sunday of June).  I can't, of course, because a) I don't own a cave and b) I still have to wish well to my own mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and to the other women who have been motherly figures to me also.  It was alright during the first 2-3, even 4 years we were married, but since then, it has become yet another stark reminder of what we don't have, and what we wish to have so badly.  

I want to hear and see children wish my wife a happy Mother's Day, much more so than to give me Father's Day wishes (although they would be nice too, but not as nice as Mother's Day wishes).  These are the things that we have missed out on, and quite honestly, I am envious of those who do get them, and have a special feeling of scorn for those who get them and/or don't appreciate it.  Call it a failing or a shortcoming on my part, but I can't help it.  

Part of this is venting of my own frustrations, but part of it is also a reminder to those who are parents to appreciate what you have.  Yes, there will be issues that arise, but remember this: there are many of us out there who would love to have your problem, who would move heaven and earth and give their right arms to be in the position in which you are.  No, parenting isn't easy, but there are legions of us around that would just like to even sniff the opportunity.  

To all the moms (and dads out there): love your children.  Happy Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday Observations - 5/6/12

It's been a while since I have done one of these, but it's about time, and finally I have time on a Sunday to do one. Let's get to it!

- Twenty-two years ago to this day, I made my First Communion at the 10 AM Mass at Holy Redeemer.  We had been living in Maryland for just a few months, but I had jumped right into the class work and had been caught up.  Originally, we were going to do the group First Communion, but with so many relatives coming in and being limited to one pew for the group, we had it done individually on a Sunday Mass.  

- It's interesting that this is the anniversary of my First Communion, because yesterday I did my training to become an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist.  A few people have said to me along the way in my life that being a faithful Catholic is the true counterculture.  They are absolutely correct.  It's not an easy position in which to be, but with so much that is out of our control in this world, our faith is one of the few things of which we do have control.

- Congratulations to the Nationals for beating the Phillies in the first two games of the series. In May. At home.  In others, big deal.  The season is 162 games and we still have about 135 games to go.  The whole "Take Back Our Park" and "Natitude" campaign for this series reeks of an infantile need to get attention.  There is one cure to eliminate Philly fans from coming and taking over your park - winning consistently.  In other words, one season with 81 wins isn't going to be enough.  And the other thing is - at least win a couple of division titles before giving me crap about domination and all that.  Remember, aside from the Phillies, most of the other NL teams who have been to the playoffs have been one-year-wonders.  See: Giants, Brewers, Dodgers, Mets, Braves.  So don't get too excited just yet.  In other words, stop acting like the football Redskin fans you really are.  Baseball is a totally different animal and most of the "fans" of the Nats are showing their ignorance of the subject.  Harsh? Yes, but it needs to be said.

- Lots of political stuff going on, as Mitt Romney has effectively sealed the Republican nomination for this fall's election.  President Obama has been busy spiking footballs and such lately, but there are lots of ominous signs for him as we move into campaign season proper.  

- The Occupy (Whatever) movement has been back in the news with its Communist-inspired "May Day" "protests", which apparently include conspiracy to bomb bridges in Cleveland. And they say they are peaceful.  As a part of the so-called "99%", they clearly do not represent me in any way, shape, or form.  I don't look for any kind of handouts nor do I want the federal (or state or local) government to take over every aspect of my life.  I want them to do what they are mandated to do in the Constitution - defend our borders, secure our God-given liberties, and generally stay out of the way.

- Speaking of which, the whole Julia thing has been made into the subject of ridicule, as it should have been.  A much better look at what should be done is here.  Of course, if you are a statist (or an Obama supporter), then you won't like what it has to say, because it actually fosters some sort of self-reliance and puts the individual and the family at the center, rather than the state.

- Back to Mass, I really like the settings we have been using for this Easter season.  It is called the Mass of Wisdom, and in reality, anything is better than the Mass of Cremation Creation, which has been a standard for many years in the Church here in America. Thankfully it is being mercifully put down.  It has been about 5-6 months since the introduction of the revisions in the Mass, and only at Easter itself did I see any more awkward misspeaking among those who are not regular attendees of Mass.

- An annoying trend that I have noticed more and more across the board at Mass (with some exceptions): the penchant for priests to elevate the Book of the Gospels longer than they elevate the Eucharist at the consecration.  Last I checked, it is the Eucharist that is the "source and summit" of the Faith, and not a book.  The Eucharist is Christ, whereas the words in the Book of the Gospels only remind us of Christ.  I think there was a rush to try and "balance" the Liturgy of the Eucharist by emphasizing the Liturgy of the Word more, but let's never forget that it is in the Body and Blood of Christ that we are saved, not merely hearing the words.

- Lastly, there are three weeks of class left, plus exams.  May is always an interesting month in which to teach.  Kids can smell the end.  Teachers can smell the end, and yet, as with so many things, the one who finishes strongly is the one who succeeds - sort of like hitting foul shots in the final two minutes of the game; no matter how tired you are, they have to be made in order to win.  I've seen way too many kids falter down the stretch because they rest on their laurels and mail it in.  Life works that way too, unfortunately.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How Do You Value A Company...

This has been the $11.8 Billion $64,000 question ever since it came out that Facebook would be making its initial public offering of stock.

Granted, I use Facebook a bit, but it has no tangible assets; people will be paying a huge chunk of money for what is essentially programming rights. If Facebook fails (and history suggests that it will eventually), then shareholders will have to eat their own savings on this; there will be nothing on which to fall back.  It is just an inherently shaky investment.  The key will be knowing when to get out.

When it collapses, it will make the 90's tech burst look like child's play.

For All Your Creepy Cradle-To-Grave Statist Needs... here and meet "Julia".

Feminism used to be about women's independence and being able to make it in the world without help.  This is obviously not the case any more, whether it's whining about wanting to get tax-funded abortions, contraception, or free lunches.  

One of the interesting things pointed out by many is that "Julia" does not seem to have any men in her life - the kid she has just sort of pops up.  But that's wrong, she does have a man - THE "Man".

Feminism is dead.  Just another victim group looking for a handout from the Sugar Daddy known as Uncle Sam.

*UPDATE* The missus just said that under Obama, "Julia" would be dead, and more accurately, would never have made it to birth to begin with.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Microcosms And Looking The Other Way...

Photo from the LA Times
Junior Seau is dead.

The former great linebacker for San Diego (and others) was found dead in his home of what is being called a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest (link via PFT).  He was forty-three years old.

This is a tragedy.  Unfortunately, we are on the cusp of a large trend, especially if it comes out that Seau made reference to head injuries in his alleged suicide note.  If concussions play a role in this tragedy (and others), I think eventually the NFL will be shelling out millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars to former players in damages. 

There will be no immediate impact on the NFL because of this, because people will rationalize it away and claim that this is an isolated incident.  I can guarantee one group of people that is paying attention though - parents of boys under the age of 14.  That's when you'll start seeing the impact (an unfortunate term to use, I must say).  Football will always be around, but one (and by 'one', I mean myself) has to wonder when it will be softened up to the point that it is no longer recognizable as the inherently violent sport we have come to know and love in our society - just out of fear of being sued back to the Stone Age.  Give it around twenty years, so sometime between 2030 and 2035, the NFL as we know will cease to exist.

That's my call.  I will keep it here for posterity's sake.

Now, getting back to the rationalizing and claiming of isolated incidents, there has been some remarks on Twitter (I am @The_Tonz) that have wondered why people look the other way and ignore the concussion issue in the NFL but scream bloody murder about steroid and PED (performance-enhancing drug) use in Major League Baseball.

Part of it simply the tyranny of low expectations.  We know the NFL is ultimately a Neanderthal league that plays to the lowest common denominator, and likewise we treat it as such.  Professional football is a bunch of oversize freaks who tackle each other and hit each other as hard as possible while grabbing random body parts that may or may not be allowed by the rule book.  It appeals to our most base thoughts and feelings and as much as people are divided by the use of war analogies in football, this one holds up - the first rule of war is bloodshed, and it is the same in football, although substitute injuries instead of death.  However, we shall see how long that remains purely analogous and begins to run parallel.  

Baseball is an intellectual game and is held to a much higher standard in this regard.  It was once regarded as the 'every-man' sport, although there are as many freakish athletes in MLB now as there are in other sports. However, the romanticized aspects are still heavily present in baseball and this sense of history and the legends of 'purity' (although there's no such thing) still weigh deeply in the minds of many.  

In one sense, I appreciate that higher standard.  The students that I call out for their misbehavior sometimes get upset with me, but eventually they get it when I tell them that I expect better from them.  If I truly didn't care, then I wouldn't say anything.  But I do care, and as such, I feel an obligation to hold them to some kind of standard.  Now, the so-called 'gatekeepers' of baseball are often very misguided, but I will say that their hearts are in the right place and they have good intentions.  Yes, I am well aware about roads to hell and all that crap...

It just strikes me that many NFL fans sycophants know deep down they are watching pieces of meat, and they just don't care.  And I can accept that.  However, the shrieks of outrage from the same people over these deaths and stuff like the Saints' bounties are just a little over the top and quite frankly, very very disingenuous.  People only started caring about these things when it looked like their precious NFL might be taking a few knees to the family jewels and they wondered whether it would be able to get back up.  So far it has, but those same people have cause to be concerned.  

These injuries and the aftermath (suicides or disability or lack of memory) may all seem as if they are isolated, but they are all also symptomatic of a larger systemic condition.  Times are changing, and the NFL may not be able to outrun the series of challenges.  Baseball has had a more realistic view on these things, and thus have been able to deal with them; the NFL has been blind-sided by these things and are in a much weaker position than a) people think and b) they themselves are letting on.

Twenty years from now.  Just watch.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The 2012 Obama Presidential Campaign... very easy to figure out.  We don't need any political analysts or party hacks to tell us anything that President Obama will say to get himself re-elected.  Why?  Because Lattanzi Land has become privy to a super secret memo passed from the top advisers through internal DNC servers and given to the White House for their consumption.

From: Axelrod and Plouffe
To: Barry
CC: Carney, Jarrett, and Michelle O.

Mr. President, with the election coming up in six months, we have decided that the best course of action to ensure that we get the, uh, flexibility you told Medvedev you'd have next year is the following:

Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden

Tax the rich!

Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden

Mormons are weird!

Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden

It's Bush's fault!

Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden

Mitt Romney is rich and therefore untrustworthy!

Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden

Let us know what you think.

~ David and David

Turning serious for a second, the question, of course, is: why is this?  I guess the answer ultimately is...

Would you want to run on this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

And this?

What about this?

Or how about this?

Maybe this too?

Given that track record, I guess all he has left is to trot out the now fish-eaten corpse (is that the right word, Mr. President?) of Osama Bin Laden, and play into religious bigotry and hope people vote for him based on their repeated violation of the Tenth Commandment.  

UPDATE: If you don't have the time to click all the links, or are too lazy to do so - here is a cheat sheet...

1) Failed Stimulus Package of 2009
2) Health Care "Reform"
3) Failure to close Guantanamo Bay
4) Failed green energy companies (i.e. Solyndra)
5) Assassinations and indefinite detentions of U.S. Citizens without warrants or charges
6) Five TRILLION dollars of new debt in three years
7) Jeremiah Wright - if they are going to bring up Mormonism as a campaign tactic, then this is wide open
8) "Under my plan, energy prices will necessarily skyrocket" - self-explanatory
9) Rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline