Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Today's required reading


Obama speaks his piece about politics, progressive critics, Fox News and the tea party, and ends on a musical note before being led out of the room. Then he pops back in and gives the best part of the interview. 

He gets it.

Please take time to read it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Good luck getting past the first 29 seconds of this video

There's a lot to critique about this interview by Fox News pundit and pompous shit stain Stuart Varney, but for the sake of brevity and sanity, I'll limit it to his first question:


I've written before about how Varney epitomizes the worst (best?) of arrogant, condescending TV punditry. He has guests on mainly to show how much righter he is than they are. He will never learn anything from any of them, because he already knows everything. And if what he knows doesn't square with any reality you've ever encountered, well, that's because you're in the wrong reality, commoner! This snake oil works because he says it does.

With that in mind, here's the question he asks:

Varney: "I always like to ask academics who are on the left this moral question, this is not an economics question, this is a moral question. Do you think it's moral to take more than half the income of successful people, anybody who's successful, do you think it's moral to take more than half their income in federal and state income taxes? 'Cause that's what we're doing at the moment in America, and it's gonna get worse. You think it's moral?"

1) We taxed the richest Americans at or above 50 percent all the way into the early 1980s. At the rate's 91-percent peak in the 1950s and 1960s, all income groups grew proportionately. Yes, there were economic cycles like always, but the economy was firmer overall for all Americans. The idea that the U.S. tax system is a spoil for those who won the rat race of capitalism (whether or not they hitched a ride to the finish line) is a recent phenomenon. And one that has not only destabilized the economy over time, but has implanted the toxic, self-defeating idea into the average American's mind that if we stroke the rich enough, they'll throw us bones. The economy has never worked that way and will never do so.

Oh, and no one pays half of their income in taxes nowadays. Not even close. Almost forgot that point.

2) "Success" as a synonym for money is a stretch. That connection might be the case in a world where hard work is proportionately tied to effort, or where income is the only motivation for every endeavor, but it's not the case in this real world. Varney ignores inherited wealth, the rigors involved in even the most menial jobs and the fact that some people do what they love even if it limits their income. Not to mention capital gains taxes vs. income taxes, loopholes, etc. Apparently, they don't speak Et Cetera on Planet Varney.

3) If you're going to frame taxation as a moral issue, then the real question to ask is, "Is it moral to demolish the middle class, starve our national infrastructure and continue borrowing billions of dollars from China to pay for tax cuts for the super-rich that will not be placed into the economy but most likely be moved into offshore accounts? And is it moral to frame the issue in such a twisted way that to even suggest the richest pay a few more dues (like they used to) makes one an extremist socialist? Is it moral to reduce the United States of America, one of history's greatest societies, into a game of Monopoly, and screw everyone who isn't playing or otherwise rolling the dice favorably?" Really, we should be so much more than that.

Varney needs to learn what "moral" means in the first place. It'll mean he'll have to admit to himself he doesn't know everything, but he should try anyway. The dictionary won't tattle.

There's more to the video, too, I imagine.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dear Blogger...

Please fix whatever Error 503 is in your comment system. It seems to eat most of the good comments and none of the bad ones. Thanks.

Love,
Ian

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The only football-related thing I'll say all week

My team won our Sunday flag football game by 80 points, despite playing against Wes Welker's dynamo cousin. I scored 12 of those points and helped open up my teammates to score many more. Also, I'll miss my friend who's been there since the beginning, who played his last game before moving back to California.

As for the rest of the weekend, eh.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

For quick reference

Regarding presidential criticism:

George W. Bush said, "I'm going to cut taxes and we need to go to war in Iraq."
Critics said, "These tax cuts are a bad idea and so is the war in Iraq."

Barack Obama said, "We need to end the tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans. And reform health care."
Critics said, "This Marxist Muslim wants to undermine America and everything it stands for."

Just a nuance I noticed.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bumper in the road

While driving home from pumping iron yesterday afternoon (it'll show any day now), I found myself behind a red Toyota SUV with nine anti-Obama bumper stickers.

NINE. Every one of them disparaging the president with some goofy turn of phrase that probably kills at honor-restoration rallies. They weren't slapped on haphazardly, either — three ovals on each side of the rear windshield, two full-size decals on top and a colorful "IMPEACH OBAMA" sticker at the bottom. It was actually quite nice-looking from 50 feet away, when you can't read any of it. There was no doubt that the driver of this car made an afternoon of this aesthetic effort.

I'm pretty jaded and cynical, which was especially evident during the Bush administration, but to paraphrase Chris Rock, you don't drink nine cups of Kool-Aid. (Tea? Maybe.) All I know is, even at my angriest, I never had nine anti-Bush bumper stickers on my truck. Hell, I didn't even have one! The most political my truck ever got was on Election Day 2004, when I added an extra Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker alongside the John Kerry one I'd had since that summer. Both came off the following morning, and I put them on my bedroom mirror at my parents' house, when they remain to this day.

In the six years I drove that truck, I never had more than four stickers on it at any given time. Most were school- or Saints-related. There was also a Cowboy Mouth one at one point. Mostly, though, it was parking permits.

(Side note: That truck died on me on Sept. 18, 2005, between Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Even my trusty wheels couldn't take it anymore, it seems.)

On my current car, I have two small, non-political decals. And even that seems gaudy to me. I can't imagine sporting nine bumper stickers on my car, much less having all of them describe that which I despise most.

On the other hand, high blood pressure just got a little easier to treat.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A whole different ball of wax

Yesterday, a faithful reader sent me this comment:

"You need to put up a new blog. I'm tired of checking twice a day only to see Inez Sainz's perfect ass."

Now I've dealt with some bizarre comments in my time, but that one couldn't be higher on the charts if it was soaked with teabag spit and anarchy creme. Looks like the bar has officially been raised! I need an airplane at this point.

Alas, there has indeed been something of a content drought of late here at Not Right. So in the interest of rectifying that travesty and restoring some honor and dignity to this blog by taking the oh-so-offensive ass off the top of the heap, here's a disgusting story about my morning.

So for the past three days (or the past week if we're going by how long it felt like), I've had serious congestion in my left ear. That particular appendage of mine has been giving me grief as far back as the summer of 1989, when I got dirty well water in my ear from swimming in our snapset pool out in Butte La Rose, Louisiana. Then, it made a spring noise when I chewed, and that traumatized me to hilarious extremes until it went away either an hour or a month later (again, time blurs in times like these). Two years later, I noticed it thumped audibly in band class when the flutists got their Jethro Tull on. In summer 2000, a girl sprayed shaving cream right into that ear during some camp revelry, and some of it exited out of my nose. Gnarly. Also, if I fly within a few days of swimming, sometimes I'll feel like I'm having a stroke.

Point is, my left ear is jacked up. And it's only gotten worse since I moved to a higher altitude to a city that actually has distinct seasons.

Sometime around Sunday morning, the ear clogged up and, unlike every other time this happens, it didn't pop. This made my subsequent forays into flag football and Thriller dancing (different blog entirely) a surreal, vaguely discomforting experience. On the bright side, I could drive with my windows down and it still seemed quiet. Mostly, though, it was annoying to the point of extreme fatigue and frustration. I could barely stay awake, let alone work out, and various stressors and a too-close Saints game made my three-day weekend hardly seem worth it. Work? Didn't help my performance there, either.

So I finally headed to the walk-in clinic this morning, where they were gleeful that I finally suffered from something other than sinusitis or elephantiasis of awesomeness. They prodded a bit and told me that I had quite a bit of wax buildup in my ear (which was no shock to me, considering I could touch my ear just about anywhere on the flap and hear squishing). And with that, the nurse drained my ear with a jug of pink liquid and what she frighteningly referred to as a catheter (but which, even more frighteningly, looked more like a hybrid of a Reach toothbrush and a fishing pole). She jammed way more fluid in my ear than ever belongs in such an orifice... about eight times. In each ear. I generally have a pretty high threshold for such things, but add a camera and my facial expressions would have been the next viral hit.

By the time the nurse finished the left ear, which never gave a satisfying POP but did suddenly have surround sound, she had a pan full of drainage. Being me, I eagerly eyed the tub in her hand. I noticed what appeared to be a half-inch-in-diameter gob of dark-red wax before she went to rinse out the bowl. "You probably don't want to see that," she said. Hell, I would have scanned it.

Turns out that I had 100 percent clogging in my left ear and 60 percent in my right, which probably explains why I had my TV's volume at 41 beforehand. In the words of the attending physician, "that must have been collecting for a really long time." She further said I was a wax producer, so I guess that means there are people who aren't. I learn something new every day.

Another thing I learned is that I don't, as I've assumed all these years, have a perforated eardrum. Just narrow ear canals. She prescribed a hair dryer. I'm not making that up. But I can live with it.

Also, I have to apply 32 steroid drops every day for the next week. Sadly, this renders me ineligible to play in the NFL, at least for a few weeks.

My grandfather once told me that, when he joined the Navy at the dawn of World War II, one of the first things they did was clean his ears. And even though he thought he took care of them to begin with, "It was like getting a whole new set of ears." I never quite understood what he meant. I do now.

Speaking of medical advice, I think this blog entry works well as an appetite suppressant. But it's best to consult your physician on that.

I also had my carpet cleaned today. But that's less interesting.

There. Dry spell broken! Until next time, America...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Men behaving badly

Meet Ines Sainz. She's the Mexican reporter who members of the New York Jets reportedly sexually harassed as she conducted interviews in their locker room. She was dressed in that at the time, which is apparently supposed to be relevant.

She is insanely attractive, and she doesn't need to vaporize into those jeans for that to be clear. Many TV reporters often play up their looks, which is understandable in a visual medium always fighting for ratings. She also seems to be proficient at interviewing, so she's got that going for her as well.

All the hooting and hollering she allegedly endured raises a long-running question in the battle of the sexes: who is to blame and what could be done? Some would say the players' conduct is disgusting. Others say she took that risk walking into a room full of sweaty, underdressed guys and shouldn't be surprised.

Sexual harassment is always a reprehensible thing, and even more so in the workplace. And when a reporter is talking to football players in the locker room, by definition both are working. It's up to both sides to conduct themselves in the most professional manner possible. There's simply no excuse for the ogling on any level, but especially not for pro athletes who should be well aware at this point in their careers that they are going to encounter women where they dress.

As far as the age-old question of who shoulders the blame in these situations, the man or the woman, this particular situation is a slam dunk. This is entirely the fault of the guys. I don't buy the notion that Ines shouldn't have been wearing those jeans, or that she otherwise was asking for it. How boorish is that? "Well, it's not my fault she dresses like that." Maybe not, but it's your fault for totally losing your marbles over it right in front of her. Anyway, she isn't even dressed all that provocatively, so that reflects even more poorly on the alleged offenders. And even if they were kidding or meant it as a compliment, she ultimately found it uncomfortable, which means it should have ended as soon as that became clear. It's in their best interest as well as hers.

I don't care if it's a locker room, a club or a monastery: there's no excuse for a guy to turn feral just because a woman wears tight pants. She deserves to be treated like a person and a professional. She has a job to do. And feelings. Oh yeah, and she has the ability to communicate to a wide audience what an unrestrained tool you are, doing nothing to dispel the notion of us guys as walking libidos who can't be trusted around attractive women. 

Asses.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

2010 NFL Preview


Much to the relief of those who felt their Facebook status feed wasn’t annoying enough already, football season is upon us. It begins amid an uncertain future, with a looming players’ strike in 2011 threatening to delay the debut of an 18-game season, which is supposed to cut down on concussions or something like that. I don’t know. Whatever the owners are high on, I can’t afford it.

The 2010 season has already kicked off in fine dramatic style, with the New Orleans Saints defeating the Minnesota Vikings 14-9 ... Is this a new season, or what? And with a new season brings new rules, new challenges and, of course, all-new surprises.

Before we begin, let me be clear upfront: my predictions are not scientific guesses. They’re not based on endless poring over scientifically obtained statistical studies. (They might even be a little biased. But only because the Saints are awesome.) But how many “professional” predictions ever come true as advertised? Zero, that’s how many! When you think about it, I’m every bit as authoritative. You never know what’s going to happen until it does. So now, I humbly present to you What’s Going to Happen in the NFL in 2010. But first...

New NFL rules

• No game can be won with a kick in overtime by Garrett Hartley.

• When a ball carrier’s helmet pops off during a play, the play is immediately ruled dead. This does not apply to Head and Shoulders spokesman Troy Polamalu, whose flowing locks always make the highlight reel.

• Holding is now a penalty if applied to the football.

• Jerry Jones Rule: All owners are now required to call plays. The Packers will decide every call via show of hands at Lambeau Field.

• The pick-six is now a 15-yard penalty on the defense.

• Brett Favre calls all overtime coin flips. If he makes the correct call, he can decide whether to kick off or receive. If his call is incorrect, he has no choice but to receive. If he goes off about how when he was a kid, coins were worth picking up, or otherwise yells at the players to get off his lawn, a 5-yard penalty will be assessed after the return.

• Past records will now serve as a determining factor in which teams make the playoffs. Because that’s totally freaking relevant.

• Chad Ochocinco is not allowed to contact or otherwise be within 20 yards of Terrell Owens at all times.

• If any personal misconduct happens after the first half is over, such as a player shoving an opponent, a penalty will be assessed in the third quarter. Apparently, I’m always looking away when this happens. Figures.

• The long snapper has a further bubble of protection from tacklers. The position, I mean, not Tom Brady.

• Special teams are no longer permitted to knock a punt returner into a coma until after the fair catch touches the ground.

• The “defenseless receiver” rule has been expanded to all players, whereas the “defenseless defense” won’t be fully adopted until next year.

• Teams who have clinched playoff berths, etc., will no longer be allowed to rest their starters. In fact, they can’t even wear pads after week 15.

• As part of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s campaign to reduce head injuries, any player who suffers a concussion will be penalized 15 yards from the spot of the foul and docked one week’s pay. And given a lecture.

• NFL Films will shoot alternate-reality Super Bowl segments to appease rabid fans. In the upcoming fake Super Bowl XLIV, the Colts face off against the Vikings. Despite 14 turnovers, the Vikings lose by only three points, which really means they won, because surely the Colts could have won by more than that since the Vikings had 14 turnovers! Clearly, the better team didn't win that alternate February night.

• Even when he loses, Peyton Manning is a winner.

Predictions

AFC East

Miami Dolphins — Expect a lot more Wildcat this year, especially with this weak schedule. Ricky Williams will be high...on your fantasy football list as he racks up the yards and points. If the team can get Courteney Cox back, look for the spinoff Cougar scheme and a shot at an AFC Championship ring with a missing stone. (12-4)

New York Jets — Love him or hate him, Rex Ryan is a loudmouth. This rookie head coach took fellow rookie Mark Sanchez and their squad all the way to the AFC Championship Game last season, but are in danger of falling victim to the dreaded sophomore jinx. However, just as 10th grade was a fun year for me, I think the Jets could have an impressive run this cycle. (10-6)

New England Patriots — Many people said the Saints’ 38-17 thrashing of the Pats last year was a death knell for this past decade’s dynasty. Be fair to the Saints; they were nearly invincible last year. And New England’s been on the decline for a while, largely because they stopped cheating. Still, they have talent. And they play the Bills twice. (8-8)

Buffalo Bills — So inept, they’ll probably find a way to lose four Super Bowls in a row this year. What few wins they have will mostly be a testament to the Cleveland Browns’ and Kansas City Chiefs’ respective existences. (3-13)

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens — Joe Flacco and his not-so-flaccid crew ran up 24 points in the first quarter against the Patriots in last year’s playoffs. That would be awesome even if they weren’t primed for a similar explosion this year. It’ll be neat to see “Houshmandzadeh” in the Ravens’ font. Speaking of names, the Ravens have one straight out of literature. That’s got to count for something. (12-4)

Cincinnati Bengals — Ochocinco. TO. Opposing cornerbacks should wear only their finest Sunday shoes ... and earplugs. Cincy will make a wild-card playoff run, leaving us with extra weeks of Stuffy McStuffingtons explaining why they will always call him Chad Johnson and why it’s a damn shame that these mollycoddled athletes get all outspoken in the endzone and whatnot. (10-6)

Pittsburgh Steelers — Mike Tomlin’s crew is one of those teams that’s either first or last. They’re like the Ricky Bobby of the NFL, so I’m hedging my bets. Especially since Ben Roethlisberger apparently needs his own personal steel curtain. He’s given a black eye to a franchise that can see only one side of its helmet as it is. On the other hand, with Troy Polamalu back in top form in the defensive secondary, the ’Lers could very well be Head and Shoulders above the rest. Sorry. (8-8)

Cleveland Browns — There’s only one “Cleveland Show” sort of worth watching on Sundays, and this isn’t it. (4-12)

AFC South

Peyton Manning
Indianapolis Colts — Fresh off a memorable Super Bowl run last year, Peyton Manning and his Indianapolis Colts are poised for greatness once again. No one knows as much about winning as Peyton Manning, and no one can even begin to approach Peyton Manning when it comes to all-time legend status. I mean, did you see Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLIV? The league MVP showed what being a winner was like. He led Coach Jim Caldwell’s crew of superstars to the pinnacle of greatness, the likes of which had never been seen previously in NFL annals. The 31-17 final score reflected a match of the league’s best teams, one of which was the Colts. Manning’s game-sealing touchdown pass was one that will not likely be forgotten for years to come, especially among fans in Peyton Manning’s native Louisiana. The Colts had come into that game as easy favorites, and came out of it secure in the knowledge that they were AFC Champions, something that no one will ever be able to take away. The months that followed brought an onslaught of everything from magazines and TV commercials to cereal boxes on what it was like to be a winner, just like Peyton Manning. And if our eyes aren’t lying to us, Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts are rearing for their 13th straight playoff appearance. At least, once they get a running game and a reinvigorated defense. Sounds like a job for ... Peyton Manning! (38-0)

Tennessee Titans — With Vince Young at the helm, they can do no wrong — or, more accurately, they can’t do all wrong. He’s backed up by 78-year-old Kerry Collins, which means the entire state of Tennessee has a vested interest in making sure Young doesn’t so much as break a nail. Coach Jeff Fisher’s job is safe, mainly because he’s been with the team longer than it’s been a team. With a ’stache like Fisher’s, who wouldn’t be set? (11-5)

Houston Texans — The only team in the NFL never to have made the playoffs, the Texans could conceivably make it this year, thus depriving the team of the one thing that makes it special. That would be sad. (9-7)

Jacksonville Jaguars — It’s too bad the Jags don’t play the Lions this year. Ford Field is an appropriate place for the Jaguars. Or maybe not, since Ford sold off the luxury line in 2008. That, combined with the general irrelevance of both teams, would probably make for a depressing game anyway. And unlike Ford, this team is in need of a bailout. At least its uniforms are spiffy. (7-9)

AFC West

San Diego Chargers — Consistency is key with Norv Turner and Philip Rivers. The Bolts will surge during the regular season, clinch the division and be one-and-done. It takes talent to manage that year after year after year. And they stay classy doing it! (11-5)

Denver Broncos — Tim Tebow will become known for his pre-practice pep talks, in which he reminds the Broncs that they are a mile closer to Jesus than the other teams. Last year’s 8-8 collapse after a 6-0 start? A test of faith. Kyle Orton? Same deal. (9-7)

Oakland Raiders — With ______ at quarterback, they can only do better. I originally had Jason Campbell’s name in that blank, but he and everyone else at that position seems to be getting hurt badly. I blame the offensive line, who seem to be shooting blanks themselves. Still, if Campbell gets the nod and raises the Raiders to the level of last year’s middling Redskins, that will be a significant improvement. If nothing else, head coach Tom Cable and nutty owner Al Davis should be all kinds of entertaining. (5-11)

Kansas City Chiefs — I don’t know if Chiefs fans do the tomahawk a la the Atlanta Braves, but it has to look like they’re putting nails in the coffin if they do. The Chiefs’ victory over the Packers in preseason is damn near inexplicable, and could be an exciting ace in the hole. But probably not. Between the Chiefs and the Rams, it’s going to be another long year for pro football fans in Missouri. (4-12)

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys — “America’s Team” will electrify Dallas...on Thanksgiving Day, when they’re in town. The Cowboys, on the other hand, are ripe for becoming the first team ever to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium. With their most potent offense in the Tony Romo era and DeMarcus Ware and Co. on defense, Dallas will be a force to reckon with. An NFC East title and a first-round playoff bye could very well be in the stars come holiday time. Bah humbug. (12-4)

Philadelphia Eagles — Kevin Kolb will have big shoes to fill in succeeding the late Donovan McNabb. He’ll at least be able to replicate recent McNabb, which will probably be of small consolation to Philly fans. But pleasing the fans can never be the No. 1 concern of any Philadelphia athlete. Why? Four words: SNOWBALLS PACKED WITH BATTERIES. But the Eagles’ core is showing promise, and with enough work will eventually be competitive enough to get Philly fans booing much less vociferously. (9-7)

New York Giants — The New York Football Giants (Why are they still called that? My parents were children the last time that distinction mattered...) had an epic collapse last year after a 5-0 start. Their defense gave up more than 40 points in five games, often to teams too embarrassing to mention in mixed company. I think they’ll post the same record this year, but sans the surprising meltdown. For Tom Coughlin’s boys, that will be an improvement. (8-8)

Washington Redskins — This year’s Skins will be a true work of art. And that work will be titled, “Donovan McNabb, slumming.” Or maybe not. After all, this was a team that looked better than its 4-12 record would suggest. It didn’t help that that bingo-caller guy was brought in to undermine former head coach Jim Zorn, or that even a phenomenal interception by Kareem Moore would turn into one of the most bizarre touchdown turnovers in NFL history. With all that behind them now, the Redskins can focus on improvement on the field. It’ll be a slow go. I blame the mascot. (6-10)

NFC North

Green Bay Packers — Judging by the preseason, Aaron Rodgers and Co. are primed for an explosive year that might bring to mind the Saints of old. Maybe even the Saints of new. Every pundit at NFL.com picked the Pack to go to the Super Bowl this year, but remember...they lost to the Chiefs in preseason. That’s hard to do. In any case, Green Bay’s long overdue to sweep Brett Favre and the Vikings. That could be better than the Super Bowl. (13-3)

Minnesota Vikings — I knew Brett Favre would return because I never saw the box lowered into the ground and covered with several hundred pounds of concrete. With Sidney Rice out and Brad Childress calling plays like he can’t figure out the Tecmo Super Bowl playbook, Favre has his work cut out for him. And as we saw with his thinly disguised dodging of training camp, he’s clearly in it for his own self-satisfaction (and the team’s bootlicking of him is equally sad and an injustice to Tarvaris Jackson, the Prince Charles of quarterbacks). I don’t know what’s worse: that Favre might just really enjoy playing and not give a crap, or that he’s an egotistical diva who won’t be satisfied until his grandson plays alongside him. Either way, that gun doesn’t sling quite like it used to. And the Vikes are only hurting themselves by keeping the old guy in and leaving the young talent out to shrivel. Who owns this team, NBC? Nevertheless... (11-5)

Detroit Lions — They’re going 6-10 this year. And they deserve a wild card just for it. (Um, 6-10)

Chicago Bears — Ditka! Ditka! Ditka! Oh wait, that was decades ago. Da Bears aren’t even what they were when they lucked into the Super Bowl back in 2006-07. And that was when Soldier Field was apparently planted entirely with four-leaf clovers. No, I’m not bitter or trying to cause no trouble. I’m just here to do the Super Bowl Shuffle (since I’m a Saints fan). (5-11)

NFC South

New Orleans Saints — Sure, the Saints won the Super Bowl last year. But were they really that good? I mean, there were occasions during New Orleans’ 13-0 start where they showed signs of fatigue and, in at least two or three games, they were sometimes behind. And, even more damning, the defense didn’t always score repeatedly. Also, they played the Colts in the Super Bowl. The COLTS! They don’t get much better than Peyton Manning. That guy’s awesome. Drew Brees can only hope to catch up one day. (13-3)

Atlanta Falcons — How can you make a crazy profit in these economically depressed times? Buy the Falcons for what they’re worth and sell them to a fan for what they think they’re worth. Oh! But seriously, the Dirty Birds might pose a serious threat to the Saints’ dominance in the division. After all, the rivalry dates back to 1970, when both teams inexplicably joined the NFC West. And some skewed rule of football physics suggests that once a team has dominated the series long enough, the tide turns. So there you go, Atlanta. Football Jesus is on your side this year. (9-7)

Carolina Panthers — With Jake Delhomme and Julius Peppers out and Matt Moore and Steve Smith in, Coach John Fox is making his team safe for the most generic names in pro football. Keep an eye out for backup fullback Joe Runner. And watch for the patented “O” offense and dreaded “X” defense to turn some heads this year in Field Stadium Arena. (Record)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers — They still play. But not well. (2-14)

NFC West

San Francisco 49ers — Mike Singletary’s got this squad whipped into shape, at least enough to take this weak division. Which, when you think about it, is exactly how the 49ers dynasty of the 1980s handled its business. They didn’t call the NFC West “The Niners and the ninnies” for nothing. Though their record in 1988 was two points away from the Saints taking their place in the playoffs. I predict the same record as that year, but the competition won’t be quite so close and heartbreaking. (10-6)

Arizona Cardinals — Back in the dark days of the 2006 draft, it appeared the Houston Texans would take Reggie Bush and the Saints would take quarterback Matt Leinart. I even alluded as much in a blog at the time. But the Texans took Mario Williams, the Saints got Bush and the rest is history. But poor Leinart just got cut, right after Kurt Warner retired, right after getting slammed by the Saints. It’s a circle of karma, if you don’t think about it. If Beanie Wells and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie stay healthy, the Cards will be OK ... later. (8-8)

Seattle Seahawks — I still can’t believe they moved the Seahawks over to the NFC. It’s like when they moved the Milwaukee Brewers to the National League. It just seems unnatural somehow. Well, at least they got a Super Bowl appearance out of it many moons ago. This is not that team. They should sweep the Rams, at least. (5-11)

St. Louis Rams — Like a high school team in its sixth year of rebuilding, the Rams have a long, daunting road ahead. Regardless, fans should make an effort to boost numbers in the Edward Jones Dome before the Rams start having to play games inside the Gateway Arch. The Rams may not be the Greatest Show on Turf anymore, but they still are, technically, a show on turf. Two out of three isn’t bad, and is a much better percentage than this ever-struggling young squad will reach this season. Steven Jackson remains a monster and a white-hot bright spot. (3-13)

Playoffs

AFC

Wild Card Round:
Bengals over Dolphins
Titans over Chargers

Divisional Round:
Ravens over Bengals
Colts over Titans

Championship Round:
Ravens over Colts

NFC

Wild Card Round:
Cowboys over Falcons
Vikings over 49ers

Divisional Round:
Packers over Cowboys
Saints over Vikings

Championship Round:
Saints over Packers

Super Bowl XLV
Saints 42, Ravens 24
MVP: Peyton Manning

No matter what happens, enjoy the season! Get in the spirit with your official paper football.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Spur-of-the-moment rant

I just read one of tomorrow's Associated Press stories, the latest in a regular series that seems less interested in informing as to get everyone behind the idea that people are turning away from Obama and the Democrats in droves. I can't link the story at the moment (and anyway, you've probably read its echoes a dozen times), but I feel the need to weigh in.

The story reminds me of one of those trend pieces that says, "A new craze is sweeping the nation. People everywhere are doing it! Here's why it's fun. Why don't you come aboard?" Increasingly typical, self-fulfilling groupthink that irritates me as much as it scares me.

Now, I understand that voters are disillusioned with what they view as a disappointing performance on the part of Obama and the Democrats. I feel that way at times. It's a legit sentiment. I'm also aware that midterm elections generally don't favor incumbents. I expect things I don't like to happen. I'm not naive.

But here's the rub: If the AP, and TV and the Internet in general, are to be believed, then what happens in November will be driven by a "fed-up" attitude from both conservatives and liberals. And, frankly, that's just dumb.

Why is it dumb? Because eight, and more likely 30, years of economic deregulation, evisceration of unions and workers' rights in general, endless warfare, economic ruin and institutional prejudice and whatever else is wrong with our country that's making our lives miserable is not going to be fixed in such a short time. And anyone who thought it would be is fooling themselves.

I've taken a lot of heat and more than a few pathetic head-shakes from people who think I'm delusional for still supporting President Obama and Congress. And yes, I agree that they should be doing more and perhaps cling to purer principles when appropriate. But I also realize that politics is a complex machine and our nation is far too large and diverse for anyone to get everything they want. In that respect, I think Obama's doing remarkably well, considering the forces that are out to stop him or make him bend.

And that's where I get annoyed by both the left and the right. 

I expect the right to be as belligerent and petulant as they are, because that's their job. Even the Republican leadership long ago gave up any pretense of real leadership and decided that government, especially this administration, is a monster that must be thwarted at any cost. That's why they're literally the Party of No, and why they'll bend into unfathomably bizarre positions to stay on message, however absurd that message may be. I have no respect for them, but I get why their parallel reality has no place for a successful, progressive, black president. Most of the GOP campaigns I've seen, especially from tea-party types, are reactionary ones designed to make you think less about the person running than the fact that they are not the one in the seat now. It's like that scene in Revenge of the Nerds where Booger tells Takashi during a poker game that he needs to replace his four old kings with fresh cards. You know, just because. Also, so Booger can win.

What really grates on me, though, are those people who voted Obama/Democrat and are ready to give up now. Really? So what are you going to do? I'm not trying to be snide; I really want to know. Because I can imagine only two options for those who don't stay home: 1) voting third-party or 2) voting Republican. And ultimately, both will lead to GOP victories. And wouldn't that defeat the purpose?

Again, I can see where the attitude comes from. And our politicians should know that they will be held accountable. But there has to be a better way to do it than to be as reactionary as conservatives - who, by the way, are ready to pounce on this discord. They certainly can't win on their merits.

Anyone disillusioned by our current situation needs to think rationally about the alternative. Who will give us what we want, as fast as we want it? The answer is, nobody. Because economic recovery takes time. Long, painful time, but time. And no matter how ideologically pure of a person we elect anywhere, they will have to work with others, compromise and inevitably take the same lumps the incumbents are taking now. And the process will still grind along.

On the other hand, voting for the opposition will not make it better. Remember, these are the people who bray about government's incompetence and have spent the last few decades proving it. They want nothing more than to reverse the gains and course so badly needed right now. And the prospect of good people losing hope and going down this road breaks my heart. And makes it palpitate.

But maybe there aren't as many of these people as I think. It could be a case of the media hyping it up for a story. Which itself is reprehensible.

Over time, things will get better. Encouraging news can be found every day, even if it's buried. I have a feeling that our current divisions will begin to heal once our prospects improve. In the meantime, don't lose hope. And definitely don't vote out of anger. Primary time is past. We've got to make the best of what we've got. But really, what we've got isn't bad, and I'd hate to see our (meaning our country's) gradual gains stopped because we gave up too soon.

Just something to think about.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Another guest blog from Earl "Clem" Bob

Yesterday was probably the most insignificant day I've had in a long time. I stayed in bed until about 1 p.m., didn't do any household chores, didn't work out and didn't even step outside until I had to work at 4 p.m. Instead, I put my laptop on a chair and pulled it next to my bed. None of this is normal for me. I'm not really known for either stopping or sleeping, so my body was grateful, at least.

Earl "Clem" Bob, on the other hand, has been flooding my mailbox with printed e-mails asking me when I was going to let him blog again. He told me he hasn't slept in six days and probably won't until Sept. 12 or so. He's real fired up, you see. So here's his latest missive, or at least what I could comprehend over the phone. Reception's real bad from that deep in the woods.

Fahrenheit 9/12 Project

By Earl "Clem" Bob

If you don't live under a rock, you know that this country's goin' to hell in a handbasket. If you do live under a rock (like my friend Jed), listen up: THIS COUNTRY'S GOIN' TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET! It's hard to hear under the rock.

Hell, now that Islam is now president, I was just about ready to assert my sovereignty and secede from the Union. I even made my own flag! Like it?


But the thing is, I think things are startin’ to get better. As the anniversary of Sept. 11 approaches (on Sept. 11, mark-R-calendar), certain events happening in the homeland have me feeling encouraged as to our future as a God-fearin' nation.

As a side note, 9/11 was tragic, but it did bring out the best in America in its aftermath. I know it made me into a better person. Before, I had to pretend that certain things and people didn't bother me — political correctness and all that. But after 9/11, we were united and I was finally free to be who I really am. And there’s nothing more patriotic than that!

But I regress.

So what, you ask, led me to this reversal of my long-held beliefs about said handbasket? Well, three things:

1) November midterms! Boy howdy, are Democrats in for a butt-whoopin’! And it’s about time, too. Things were doin’ just fine until Nov. 7, 2006, when Americans lost their minds over Katrina and FEMA and elected a Democrat majority in Congress. Boy, nothin’ strips my thresher more than major political decisions bein’ made out of fear, anger and ignorance. But thanks to that election, and the even worse one what followed it, our country might not even have a future no more! We need to take this country back from the sweeping majorities who mistakenly voted for Obama, Pelosi, Reid and their criminal SIN-DICK-ate (I made that up) and put it in the hands of the small, vocal group of real Americans we got left. And by left, I mean right. And by right, I mean correct. And by correct, I mean the tea party patriots fed up with both parties, especially the Democrats.

This Jack is good.

Speaking of midterms, ol’ Clem was never what you’d call midterm material; I didn’t even make it that far in 9th grade. That was about the time when I realized what sort of elitist leftist ivory-tower twits run our government propaganda centers. My teacher was always goin’ on and on about how we need to learn history so’s that we don’t repeat it, that the First Amendment comes before the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights, how to spell things, makin’ me read books what don’t even have pictures and bein’ told never to have sex with my cousin (or anybody) until marriage. After eight and a half years of listening to her ignorant garbage, I finally had to bid audio to Sister Mary Theresa.

Which brings me to my second encouragin' development:

2) Over yonder in Stockton, Missouri, the school board just voted unanimously to ban the book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie from its shelves, because it uses dirty words and talks about jackin’ off and whatnot. And even worse, it’s aimed at a teenage audience! At least that’s what I’m told, because you can damn well bet I’ll never, ever pick up that book! Good for Stockton. The last thing we need in this declining moral culture is such a filthy book. Who knows what such things put in the minds of impressionable children? I’m glad that local teens got the message that this is a book that should not be read. Area bookstores and libraries got the message too, because now you can’t find that book anywhere! Supposedly, a bunch of teenagers raided them and took all copies off the shelves themselves, lest anyone feel pangs of temptation. And God bless them for it!

And just look at this cover! It’s practically beggin’ kids to pick it up. Kind of like that witch’s candy house in Hansel and Gretel. Or Hank’s windowless van with the Twilight mural. Hank lost our superintendent’s race over that. It was a close one.

Alexie’s book would look better on fire. Kind of like a certain other book that’s going to get torched in my third encouraging sign:

2) By now, everybody’s heard about the Rev. Terry Jones, the Florida preacher who is going to burn hisself a pile of Korans on Sept. 11. When I first heard this, my reflex was to ask him to wrap himself in it first. But then I realized that he wasn’t burnin’ the American flag, but the thing that goes against everything the flag stands for — Muslim! See, the Koran is like the Bible for Islam, except that it has a mess of violence that the Bible lacks. Also, it’s wrong. And I’m glad to say that I’ve never read it and never will. They say the Koran, or Quran as the liberal media spells it, has a code of respect very similar to that of the American flag, involving handling and disposal. I say, that’s all the more reason to burn the Koran! Extremist religion is a mockery of American values, and Rev. Jones’ burning is the first major step in bringing America back to its fundamentalist Christian roots.

And I don’t want to hear that such an action only reinforces anti-American hatred in the Middle East. Hell, they burn our flag all the time! And the least we can do to respond to such a statement is to burn something they cherish! After all, it’s free speech. Except for the flag-burning. That ain’t.

While the rest of us here are excited and trying to find Florida on a map so’s we can go see the burnin’, that guy who drives the Toyota Penis hybrid over in town is complaining that Hitler burned books. Now ol’ Clem don’t know much about Hitler, because he was on the midterm. But I do know he was like the ultimate bad guy. And I only know that because Louis Farrakhan called him a “very great man.” That was all I ever needed to hear.

So I’m offended by the Hitler comparison! Hitler burned books because he was an evil Nazi. We’re burnin’ them because we don’t want such ideas in our perfect country! Apples and tangerines. To anyone who says otherwise, I invoke God’s Win Law, which means you can’t talk about Hitler until someone says your name twice. Jinx!

So as you can see, I’m finally seein’ some light at the end of this long, dark tunnel our country’s been in. If these trends keep up, we’ll be the sort of moral, God-fearin’ society seen in Footloose before its tragic ending. Good thing that videotape gunked up my VCR so I don’t have to watch it ever again.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

10 things I hate about college football

The play is closer to high school or flag football than pro football. That can go either way depending on your preference. When I was playing in high school, I found the NFL hard to watch, because it seemed too polished; at the time, I preferred the smash-mouth, less-predictable game you found on our fields. Also, the Saints were mediocre then. But nowadays, it just pains me to see a kicker send a field goal attempt 30 yards wide right or to watch a quarterback throw a pass that’s too errant even to intercept. Especially when the team in question is supposed to be one of the best in the BCS rankings.


BCS rankings. I’m not a fan of complicated math algorithms deciding things in the first place, but this is ridiculous. Has the BCS definitely decided anything, ever? That’s not a rhetorical question - the answer is no.


AP/Coaches’ polls. The polls themselves don’t bug me as much as the questions they lead analysts to float. In last night’s game between Boise State and Virginia Tech, there was much talk about how Boise State could kiss a BCS bid goodbye if they lost. Really? In their first game? Maybe it’s because my university’s team was mediocre at best and never had a chance of recognition, but it’s hard for me to identify with a team collapsing because it went 9-2. It’s a wonder any team succeeds at all. And when they do, it’s usually the same few powerhouses.

Powerhouses. At the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, a Division I school, you’re just as likely to find LSU colors as vermilion and white. And that annoyed me less for patriotic/front-running reasons as for the truth behind it: LSU is a bigger and better-funded school, and will always have a more competent and publicized team. And this is commonplace all over the country. There’s little room for scrappy teams to shine in college football, and money stacks the deck in ways that ensures scrappy schools stay scrappy.


Lack of ties. For me to care about sports, I have to be emotionally invested in a team. These days, that pretty much leaves me with the New Orleans Saints. But it’s also been the case with my high school and college teams during the time I was in school. Because I either played in or went to all the games. And that to me is the essence of college football: being there. Every team and school has its history, tradition and quirks. I have no ties to any of the big schools, and watching young, passionate fans having fun makes me sad that I’m watching on TV.


Boring scandals. The NCAA, by necessity, has a tremendously complicated code regulating athlete, coach and school behavior. Which means that scandals are a lot like those plaguing Wall Street: important, but relatively eye-glazing. It may be crucial to preserving the integrity of amateur competition that Reggie Bush didn’t get a text message from a potential agent, but a steroid-inflamed muscle sprouting a third eye would be way more fascinating.


The overtime rules are grating. I know I’m in a minority on this point. But football is not baseball; either side can score on any play. I’ve been to several college games that went into overtime, and as much as I love being at a football game, my response was always, “sigh.” Not only is it more sensible health-wise to end a game in sudden death, but it’s also more exciting to end on points. “We stopped them from scoring in their final series! YEAHHHH! We win!” Yeahhhh.


The Play. You know, the one where the Stanford band stormed the field, allowing California to lateral their way into a win and infamy. It’s a memorable play, but it belongs in the follies file. The River City Relay is a far better example of a genuinely successful lateral-fest at the pro level. Forrest Gump depicted a far funnier version of player-marcher clash. “The Play” is a pompous name as it is, but there are genuine feats of athleticism at the college level that easily eclipse it and are more deserving of the title. 


The anti-college football crowd. It often seems like there are two types of people: those who are obsessed with college football and those who think it should be eradicated. The latter type annoys me, particularly because they’re generally people I agree with on almost every other issue. My grad-school cred went way down when I suggested that perhaps college sports have some academic and civic value. So I was grateful that I had a group of grad friends who loved going to all the games. Sports in general is an easy target for those looking for something to blame for shoddy schools, especially for those who never took the field. That’s not a fair position, and I certainly never took that stance on, say, band, chorus or speech teams. Also, athletics paid for my schooling. So I was a walking example of why the haters were wrong.


The fact that, despite these grievances, I will probably still watch a ton of college football. And like it.



Thursday, September 02, 2010

My train of thought while waiting at the dentist's office

Ugh how did the weather know it was Sept. 1 and after weeks of hot sun decide to flood the city man I'm soaked I could have swam across the street to get here well at least I made it on time yes I'm checking in how do you not remember me oh now you remember me when you look up cool I just have one of those faces I guess Cool "Who Can It Be Now" by Men at Work is on the stereo Men at Work is one of my favorite bands ever Who can it be now bump be be BA ba nah Who can it be now bump be be BA ba nah Oh you're loud woman why do some people just talk so loud slowly and constantly it's a deadly combination OK now you've talked at the receptionist enough now sit down ok cool you're in the other room phew bump be be BA ba nah oh no are you really calling somebody on your cell yak yak yak yak yak yak yak yak yakety yak they don't talk back apparently so LOUD and so SLOW arrrrgh that conversation couldn't wait my god he can probably hear you from where he's at without the phone I can't hear the radio anymore my left ear literally hurts and you're in the other room I'll just move away from the doorway a few chairs down Let's see what magazines they've got Vogue, Time, some chick thing, Sporting News ah Sporting News Terry Bradshaw interview wow never knew this stuff about him my god she's loud I can still hear her over the radio shut up shut up shut up How interesting can that conversation really be Hey I wrote a blog like this three years ago about my time in Chili's huh I should do that for this I blog a lot more now than I did then Good thing Jenni or someone said they really liked it Wow this is taking a really long time at least the woman stopped talking oops false alarm OK some guy left now maybe she will too ah That was an interesting entire issue of Sporting News am I early Probably That never happens Why be early for anything it just means you wait longer I hope the Novocaine doesn't hurt a whole lot and maybe this time I won't tear up my cheeks the first time I try to eat after this like last time ow I still have scars from that Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go man I just dreamed about this song last night weird Oh, she just called my name and got it right OK let's do this filling thing needles and drills This will probably be a disappointing sequel blog bump be be BA ba nah jitterbug...