Monday, February 26, 2007

Our culture in a nutshell

From Jonah Goldberg, this anecdote speaks is sadly illustrative of the times:

Marc Cherry, the creator of ABC’s Desperate Housewives, told an interesting story to a gathering of TV critics recently. Cherry had screened a scene for a network censor in which the character played by Eva Longoria beds her 17-year-old gardener. Afterward, she enjoys a post-coital cigarette. Cherry said the censor asked, “Does she have to smoke?” To which Cherry replied: “So you’re good with the statutory rape thing?”

And the answer is “yes.” Hollywood is good with the statutory-rape thing. But it’s not good with the smoking thing. And yet if I were to criticize Hollywood for the statutory-rape thing, the Hollywood crowd would whine about how I’m a prude and, ultimately, a censorious enemy of free expression. If I were to complain about the cigarette? They’d say, “Good for you.”

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Empty promises

By now I'm sure you've heard of Tennessee Titans CB PacMan Jones' shenanigans during the NBA All Star break in Vegas - showering $81,000 in cash onto the stage at a strip club and causing a riot in which a man was paralyzed. My buddy Kevin O'Neill, who by the way is a spectacular 80-44 (.645) handicapping college basketball this year, brings some backstory in his weekly newsletter:

After court date earlier this month troubled Tennessee Titan PacMan Jones insisted that he was toning down his nightlife. "If I'm going to go out, I'm going to have to be at a little private spot. Maybe I'll chill out at a jazz bar or something with some older folks," Jones declared.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the house music wasn't Miles Davis and that the clientele wasn't a 1957 Celtics reunion.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Unethical blogger

Some blogger who calls himself Liberal Avenger gets caught altering a comment to try to make the commenter look like, well, somebody who would be a fan of the Liberal Avenger. Duly busted, he deletes the comment, lies about it, continues to lie about it when presented with evidence, then finally admits he lied about it when irrefutable evidence is presented, presenting some weak attempt at a justification for his actions.

Pathetically lame, but humorous nonetheless.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Boys gone wild!

As you probably know, the NBA All Star Game and all that implies will be descending upon Las Vegas beginning with the end of most teams' pre-break schedules tonight. But you may not be aware that the NBA Developmental League is also holding its ASG in Vegas on Saturday night.

With all of the wisecracks we've seen and will continue to see about the wisdom of unleashing NBA players in Sin City, I worry more about the D-League guys. These guys spend their time in places like Bismarck, Sioux Falls, Tulsa, Little Rock, Boise, Broomfield (Colorado), Albuquerque and Bakersfield. And now they're headed to Vegas.

The good news is most of them don't have much money, but I'd still be surprised if this turns out well.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Was Pearl Harbor really that bad? - mainstreaming hate (1)

There must be something in the water, or maybe last month's changing of the political guard has emboldened more people to say what they really feel without thinking. Whatever the cause, haters are coming out of the woodwork, and not just in remote corners of the Internet.

The first was an astounding piece by David Bell in last week's Sunday LA Times (the print edition, so presumably pretty widely read). The piece was originally titled "Was 9/11 really that bad?" but it has been changed to something much more innocuous in the archived web version. No word on whether the Times sent out crews armed with liquid paper to knock on doors and fix the dead tree copies. I would never even have noticed it but not for that incendiary title; it jumped out at me from the "Most Viewed" list on the right of the page as I was doing my daily Lakers reading and, it not being April 1, I had to click through and check it out.

As you would expect given where the piece appeared, Bell's answer is no, 9/11 wasn't that bad. He nonsensically downplays the deaths of ~3,000 on our own soil by comparing it to the ~20 million Soviet deaths during World War II. Notice how, right there in the first paragraph, he indirectly trots out the old US-Soviet moral equivalence card...Bell is obviously not a newcomer to the America-bashing game.

It is particularly odd to bring the Soviets into the discussion. I've read that we lost a few soldiers in WWII ourselves. Why choose the Soviets, who never put any value on their own citizens' lives anyway? They killed more of their own before the war (and perhaps after as well) than they had killed during the war, after all. I'm guessing it's to avoid the obvious parallel that the US entered that war after getting...attacked on our own soil. And suffering far fewer lost lives and a tiny fraction of the lost treasure compared to what would happen 6 decades later. I imagine most readers' BS detector went off right there in the first paragraph.

Those who kept reading found that Bell's point is essentially that the US was and is overreacting. He throws out a common canard, that the low number of casualties is evidence that there is not much of a threat (note the wholly gratuitous reference to Hiroshima, in case you missed his thesis that WE ARE THE BAD GUYS!). Indeed, the low number of casualties abroad seems to me to be a result of the excessive restraint we show in conducting modern warfare. We have entered an age of uber-morality in engaging enemies, which this enemy uses to advantage by intermingling with civilians, attacking from schools or hospitals or mosques, and waging a fierce propaganda war via an American and European press eager to uncritically lap up any portrayal of the Evil American Soldier. If anything, haven't we underreacted, and isn't that much of the reason we find ourselves in our current position in Iraq? It looks like it to me, from backing off in Fallujah the first time to the Al-Sadr continuing to live, any claim that we are overreacting in Iraq (much less Afghanistan) seems at odds with what has been happening on the ground. And of course we have suffered no more attacks at home precisely because of the tightening of security and legal measures taken in the years since 9/11, hard to see any overreaction on that front either.

Overreacting would have been the permanent destruction of Mecca, or rounding up Muslims in 2002 as we did Japanese in 1942. Color me unimpressed by the argument that we needed to suffer many more civilian deaths before doing anything in response or considering the threat of a worldwide death cult bent on killing us to be existential. I don't need 20 million dead to consider this thing serious, I'd prefer that we proactively prevent future civilian casualties. Setting impossible standards to be met before it is considered acceptable to fight back, or continully changing said standards to keep the goalposts moving, is a trope of the pacifist, but not one that needs to be taken seriously. The problem for guys like Bell isn't really that we overreact, but that we react at all, because in their world we are a bad nation, unworthy of defense.

UPDATE 2/21/07: Lee Harris further deconstructs the notion that we underreacted, including some useful analogies.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

What a shame

Whoever wins, this game will likely be decided by breaks due to the weather conditions instead of the quality and execution of the two football teams. Let's hope this is the last Super Bowl in a stadium where there is not some form of roof, retractable or otherwise.

UPDATE 2/4/07: Fortunately, the game was so brutally one-sided that the weather did not end up being the difference. Indeed, along with a fortuitous game-opening kickoff return it probably saved us from a virtual repeat of the San Francisco-Denver Super Bowl. But let this serve notice to the NFL: you got lucky this time, don't take a chance again. There enough venues that can be covered or where rain is almost nonexistent that there should be no need to play an outdoor game where there is any but the remotest chance of bad weather ever again.

And congrats to the Colts and particularly Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning, they are a group that exemplifies class.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Iran's world war

So now Iranian military personnel have been captured in Gaza, as has happened many times in Iraq. With the frequent flyer miles they're bulding up, how long before we find them in Cleveland?

At least they are honest about their fervent desire for genocide and for establishing a global caliphate, nobody will ever be able to honestly say anything Iran does in the future catches them by surprise. Note the qualifier "honestly;" people will feign shock, but they will be lying when they do so.

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It's awesome, baby...

Some fan spent some quality time with their TiVo to come up with this list of 156 people and teams that had nothing to do with the Louisville-UConn game he was calling, pretty funny stuff. I personally don't really mind Vitale much, but then again I care almost nothing about college hoops - complaining about a guy overhyping the sport is like complaining about a soccer guy being too boring, an irony overload of epic proportions.

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