Thursday, December 31, 2009

Let the Poor Man Have Some Dignity

Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis

Speaking of paparazzi, this is a terrible invasion of a young man's privacy:

That was quite an emergency Tracy Morganexperienced Tuesday night in SoHo. The "30 Rock" star burst into the Toys in Babeland sex shop on Mercer Street. "He looked around for a minute and then hollered across the store, 'Hey, do you have motion lotion?' They helped him pick it out. He handed them cash, and ran out of the store to a BMW X6 that was waiting on the street for him." We wonder who was in the car.

Human beings need lubricants. Emergencies arise. When are we going to have laws in this country that protect celebrities from being embarrassed in this way? Honestly, haven't we all had a similar emergency?

Mr. Angelina Jolie Goes to Dave & Busters

Brad Pitt at Dave and Busters

I heartily endorse a trip out and about:

It's a boys' day out for Brad Pitt and sons Maddox and Pax!

The star, 46, and his younger brother Doug took the two boys to Dave & Buster's in New York City's Times Square Wednesday afternoon, confirms. (Pitt took Maddox to the same Dave & Busters back in September.)

While at the arcade restaurant, Pitt helped Pax, 6, with the controls on "The Big One," an oversized crane used to grab stuffed animals. After several attempts, they won a giant stuffed animal.

The group -- surrounded by four security guards -- then moved on to war game "Razing Storm." Pax and Maddox, 8, took hold of the life-size guns and shot at the arcade screen for a few minutes before moving on.

While the bearded Pitt watched them play, an eyewitness tells Us he handed out extra Dave & Buster's game cards to a few children. One boy jumped up and down in excitement when the star gave him the card and patted him on the back, the source says.

When a crowd began gathering, Pitt, Doug and the kids got in an elevator to leave. As the doors closed, one onlooker yelled out, "I love Jennifer Aniston!"

Although Pitt didn't look amused, his brother Doug laughed out loud, an eyewitness says.

Why would you bring up poor Jennifer Aniston when the man is out with his kids? Having weird facial hair must be the fashion now. That's not really a beard on him--that's a Fu Manchu out of control, with a little Trotsky thrown in. I want to call it a modified Van Dyke, but I'll just get into trouble with the Facial Hair police if I do.

An Unfair Criticism of President Obama

President Obama, golfing, Martha's Vineyard, 2009

I realize that it looks bad for the President to be playing golf. From a public relations point of view, yes, it is a losing proposition for the President to play golf in a time of war or to look as if he's more interested in his golf game than national security. I've had to consider my own opinions on this to be formed out of passion rather than careful consideration. Maybe, just maybe, I will actually see a man or a woman in the White House of whom I approve, and, maybe, just maybe, they will like to play golf. It's not outside of the realm of possibility. What will I do then? Will I put on the mask of the hypocrite and walk around carrying water for that person?

It looks bad for President Obama to be playing golf while underwear bombers and evangelical jihadists and bankers and used car salesmen are running around, trying to ruin this country. In a more settled time, perhaps it wouldn't look as bad. If we had peace and prosperity, fine by me. Given our current state of affairs, he is due for some, but not all of this criticism:

It's been a tough first year for President Obama, as critics throughout the body politic bemoan that Mr. Change-We-Can-Believe-In is looking more and more like Mr. Politics-As-Usual. With the coming new year, however, POTUS has a prime opportunity to regroup, reload, and revamp his image. He could start by ditching golf.

Seriously. Its venerable White House history notwithstanding, golf is a dubious pastime for any decent, sane person, much less for this particular president. Why would a leader vowing to shake up Washington--to alter the very nature of politics--sell his soul to a leisure activity that screams stodgy, hyperconventional Old Guard?

There are signs that Obama has been nursing a creeping golf addiction for some time now. He took up the game a little more than a decade ago as a newbie state senator hoping to bond with more rural, conservative colleagues. Next thing you know, he was hooked--playing for cash, fretting over his form, and goading staffers to cut out of work early for a quick round.

During the 2008 race, Obama's golf outings drew less notice than his battles on the hard court. But, now that he's firmly ensconced in the Oval Office, the sticks have come out of the closet as Obama constantly looks to squeeze in a few holes: on Father's Day, during the family's summer holiday on the Vineyard, immediately upon touching down from his June trip to Europe. It is often noted that this president hit the links more frequently in his first nine months than the reared-on-golf George W. did in his first two years (after which W. conspicuously swore off the game out of respect for the troops). Currently ranked eighth on Golf Digest's list of presidential golfers (sandwiched between Clinton and Reagan), Obama seems intent on moving up the ladder--despite reports that he's something of a duffer.

In point of fact, it was a bad knee that put George W. Bush off the links, and a bad knee is what will do that every time. You cannot play golf with a knee or a back problem. All Presidents deserve their right to recreation. It would be unfair to say that the President has to be in Washington D.C. all of the time, padding around in rolled-up shirtsleeves with a frown worn down and a stack of papers nearby.

It is especially unfair to the First Family to expect them to be denied their right to recreation as well. Whether this criticism comes from the left or right is a bit unfair, and I have to say that I have engaged in it. I have criticized the social calendar, but I don't deny that they have a right to their affairs. I don't deny that they should have their chance to shine. I don't think you can be a good American and sneer at what perks come with that office. My bullshit is refuted in this case. There's probably evidence of it laying around here on the blog.

Who wouldn't want to play golf in Hawaii on a day like today? Who would deny him the right to have some down time? It does set a great example for Fatass Nation to get out and do something. There's an example of fitness here that should be followed. I guess I should be more conciliatory to this aspect of the President's daily routine and right to recreation. I do note that it's a losing proposition in the public mind. Is that fair? Perhaps not.

Flat Busted Broke in a Megachurch World

Aerial Photo of the Saddleback Church under construction

I am no enemy of religion. I like my religion just fine. Yours is your business. Religion isn’t the problem. Fundamentalists are always a problem, no matter what faith they espouse.

The Saddleback Church in Southern California is desperate for funds. Why? What did they do to put themselves in hock? Did they build too big of a sanctuary? What happened?

Evangelical pastor Rick Warren appealed to parishioners at his California megachurch Wednesday to help fill a $900,000 deficit by the first of the year.

Warren made the appeal in a letter posted on the Saddleback Church Web site. It begins “Dear Saddleback Family, THIS IS AN URGENT LETTER.”

“With 10 percent of our church family out of work due to the recession, our expenses in caring for our community in 2009 rose dramatically while our income stagnated,” the letter reads.

Still, Warren said the church managed to stay within its budget, but “the bottom dropped out” when Christmas donations dropped. “On the last weekend of 2009, our total offerings were less than half of what we normally receive — leaving us $900,000 in the red for the year,” the letter reads.

“It’s basically having to do more with less,” church spokesman A. Larry Ross said. “The seasonal Christmas offering was down significantly and, commensurately, the need for services the church is expected to provide is up,” Ross said.

When you say “the bottom dropped out” it really means that the expected drop in donations exceeded anything they could have anticipated. Being embedded in the California economy has obviously helped the church expand during good times, and now, beg for money in lean times. Much of that money is going to have to come from outside of the church, or, the the church is going to have to cut costs and liquidate assets.

I wondered if there was a special financial counselor category of financial advisor that deals with churches and liquidation, and, sure enough, yes there is:

Church & Non-profit Accounting
Through the years Mr. Orrin and his firm have developed special expertise in the relevant accounting laws and procedures for churches and non-profit organizations. Serving hundreds of ministers and their churches throughout the Northwest, Orrin and Associates has become a trusted source for consultation and services. Phill Orrin serves as financial advisor to a number of boards for churches and church-related organizations throughout the Northwest.

Mr. Orrin, being located in Spokane, may not be convenient to the Saddleback Church, but at least there is a non-profit specialty out there in the accounting world, which I did not know. Sounds to me like the Saddleback Church needs to find someone creative who can help them stay afloat.

Worshipping the devil does make sense in a down economy. You can pay tribute to mighty Satan in your own home, and you don’t need the overhead of a big, fancy church.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Always Marry the Crazy Ones

Way to go, Carlos Irwin Estevez:

Authorities haven't identified the accuser, but the woman on the 911 call says her name is Brooke and that her husband is Charlie Sheen. Sheen is married to Brooke Mueller Sheen.

The woman can be heard weeping and sometimes her words are inaudible. At one point she says, "My husband had me (inaudible) with um, with a knife, and (inaudible) he threatened me." Later, she says, "I thought I was gonna die for one hour."

The woman says her family is also in the house and that her husband was in another room when she called 911.

The 44-year-old Sheen denied threatening his wife with a knife or choking her, and told officers they had slapped each other on the arms and that he had snapped two pairs of her eyeglasses in front of her, according to the affidavit. An ambulance was sent to their house in Aspen, Colorado, but police say no one was taken to the hospital.

TMZ says sources tell it authorities "gave both Charlie and Brooke blood alcohol tests. Brooke registered a .13 while Charlie registered a .04. ... We're also told Brooke recanted her story to a female officer just before the bail hearing, telling the cop she was drunk when she made the 911 call. Nevertheless, law enforcement sources say police will still pursue the case -- at least for now."

And so continues the saga. If you check out WeSmirch, it's huge over there. They've even dug up a Christmas card.

This crazy young couple must be in love. Neither are sober, both are violent and screwed up, and craziness abounds. If you can't get through Christmas with the ones you love, then everyday life must be a riot. That must be one hell of a house to live in. She's pinging off the walls, he's walking around with a 4 inch lock blade, and neither one of them care if there are kids in the house or not. It must be high living on all of that CBS sitcom money. Do you think, somewhere, there's a showrunner lining up his resume and hoping things don't run afoul of the rather strange ethical standards of Les Moonves?

Creative types usually get weird, and that's fine by me. This kind of weird isn't from creativity. It's from the hooch, you see. Young Estevez was smart. He married a crazy drunk with no credibility. This is how it is done.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Everything You Read About Iran is Nonsense

This post is NOT nonsense; rather, it points out that much of what is being written and said about the seriousness of a threat from Iran adds up to a great deal of pointless warmongering:

When I started blogging last January, one of my first postswarned against believing that Obama’s election and the evident bankruptcy of the neoconservative approach to foreign policy had ended the prospect of a war with Iran. If you didn’t believe me then, the incoherent, war-mongering op-ed by Alan Kuperman in last Thursday’s New York Times should encourage you to reconsider. As Jim Lobe points out on his own blog, the fact that the Times accepted this piece in the first place is not an apolitical act, and it may herald a tilting of the public debate in a way designed to legitimate a subsequent U.S. attack.

Several features of Kuperman’s essay are worthy of note. The first is the timing: Why did the Times choose to run an unusually long (1,500-word) op-ed advocating war on the very eve of Christmas, a holiday normally associated with themes of peace, understanding, and harmony? It was also published on the last day when many people were likely to be paying much attention to mainstream news sources, which meant that prominent rebuttals would not appear or be read for several days. And that meant Kuperman’s piece could hang out there a bit longer.

The second puzzle is the dearth of new information or arguments in Kuperman’s piece. He hasn’t been to Teheran and come back with new testimony; the piece contains no scoop of leaked information or a novel piece of analysis, and as Marc Lynch points out in a compelling takedown here on his FP blog, Kuperman’s arguments in favor of war merely rehearse the same sort mixture of paranoia and over-confidence that was used to buffalo the country into attacking Iraq.

In particular, Kuperman assumes that a decision not to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities will yield a series of Very Bad Results (though at least he doesn’t claim that Iran would immediately bomb Tel Aviv), yet he also assumes that our launching an attack won’t have any serious consequences. To take but one example, he discounts the possibility of Iranian retalation in Lebanon, Iraq, or Afghanistan by suggesting that Iran is already causing trouble there, conveniently ignoring the possibility that they might do a lot more if sufficiently provoked.

A third feature of Kuperman’s piece is the absence of any clear link between his proposed course of action and the U.S. national interest. He takes for granted that Iran will get nuclear weapons unless someone bombs them, and that if they do, this will have grave consequences for the United States. But even if we assume that Iran eventually gets a few bombs — which is still far from certain — thereby joining the ranks of Israel, Pakistan, and India, it is not clear why this event poses a sufficiently grave threat to the United States as to justify a preventive war.

There is no grave threat, and that’s always been the problem with any approach to dealing with Iran. Attacking Iran is to the advantage of monied interests and not the general populace. The general populace can now see through warmaking and warmongering and threaten the political power of the monied interests. Attacking Iran is more about driving Iran’s oil off of the world markets and forcing a change in its government than it is about protecting Israel. Iran can be attacked, but only because none of the monied interests will have to suffer because of it. The United States would suffer, but the money men don’t have to share the risks. So long as the supply of oil shrinks and the price goes up, no one cares about dead American soldiers.

Israel is already well protected, holding dozens of nuclear weapons that can more than wipe out any belligerent state that attacks it with any kind of lethality. Israel is not threatened with this—nation/states do not use nuclear weapons without invoking the wrath of other nation/states. Israel is threatened by terrorism, of course, but the existence of Israel is not in doubt because no nation/state can deter terrorism with nuclear weapons. The real solution is to join the rest of the world in rooting out terrorism. That solution has nothing to do with attacking Iran when simply cutting off the money and material goods Iran sends to the Middle East will do the trick. I do think Israel can defend itself by stopping the flow of weapons into Gaza and Lebanon. Attacking Iran is simply pushing that defensive posture way too far.

Israel controls its own fate, but is locked in the grip of a right-wing establishment that refuses to let go of the 1960s and 1970s. It’s as if we were still locked in a Cold War with China, with men who served as Lieutenants and Captains in the Korean War firmly in charge of all aspects of American foreign policy. Think of America with Henry Kissinger still running the State Department, in other words, but without any of that mellowing with age and with a burning desire to hit back at China, Vietnam, France and whoever else.

The real reason that the United States cannot acknowledge Israel’s nuclear stockpile is because it would put any argument about needing to subsidize and defend Israel to rest. Israel doesn’t need defending; Israel needs to learn to live with its neighbors, and its neighbors need to learn to live with Israel. So long as there is a phantom threat from Persia to Israel, so continues this needless embrace of having to revisit the idea of attacking Iran.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Charlie Sheen Does it Again

Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller

This is just sad:

Charlie Sheen spent the better part of Christmas Day in a Colorado jail cell after being arrested on domestic violence allegations.

The 44-year-old actor was taken into custody Friday morning by officers responding to a 911 call from a house in this ski resort town about 200 miles west of Denver.

An ambulance went to the house, but the accuser was not taken to the hospital.

This young man has already had a tough time of it, and now this. Radar says this:

It's over between Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller after less than two years of marriage, has learned exclusively.

Sheen's arrest on felony domestic violence charges followed a night of arguing after a quiet trial separation of the couple, sources tell exclusively.

Mueller has now decided that she will file divorce papers in the very near future, we've learned exclusively.

After the Christmas morning incident, where Mueller told sources Charlie tried to choke her, the actor's representatives quickly moved into damage control mode. Sources close to Mueller told that Team Sheen pressured her to recant and even suggested the exact words she should use!

Late on Christmas day Mueller did recant her version of the violence -- after contact with Charlie's reps.

Mueller wants out of the marriage and has a prenuptial agreement. Sources told that money was discussed in connection with not further damaging Sheen's already tattered reputation.

Artistically, Sheen's reputation is not tattered. He still has a wildly successful show on CBS. Now, if we go by bankability, Sheen is fine. If we go by stability, no, spending Christmas Day in jail is a stroll down white trash lane, and people do tend to shy away from a man who can't resist beating on his wife.

E! News has exclusively confirmed that a weapon "of some sort" was involved in the domestic violence dispute the actor was hauled off to jail for on Friday.

The 44-year-old Two and a Half Men star was arrested yesterday morning in Aspen, Colo., and released that night after posting an $8,500 bond. 

Aspen Police Department spokeswoman Stephanie Dasaro tells E! News the felony menacing charge Sheen is facing would not go into further detail—for the record, they aren't naming the victim, either—other than to say the count does involve "a weapon of some sort."

Aspen Chief Deputy D.A. Arnold Mordkin says he has spoken to Sheen since the incident. He "seemed upset, but was cooperative and pleasant," he said. 

While Sheen is not required to remain in Aspen at this time, he will need to return for his court appearance on February 8th, when Mordkin plans to formally file charges. 

It just does not sound good, does it? Well, in any event, Denise Richards must be having a particularly interesting Christmas holiday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This is Not What You Want to Be Famous For

Grand Theft Auto

Oh, my:

It’s game over for a 14-year-old Roxbury boy, whose overwhelmed mother was so exasperated with his incessant video game playing that she called the cops on him.

The final straw for Angela Mejia snapped at 2:30 a.m. Saturday when, “I woke up in the middle of the night and saw the light on in his bedroom,” hours after she had told him to go to sleep.

“Sometimes I want to run away, too,” Mejia said, breaking down in tears in her immaculate apartment. “I have support from my church, but I’m alone. I want to help my son, but I can’t find a way.”

Mejia is among thousands of parents struggling with today’s video-game obsessed youth. The Entertainment Software Association reports the popularity of video games is skyrocketing, with 42 percent of adults intending to give, or hoping to find one in their Christmas stocking this week.

Mejia’s son - one of four children the 49-year-old is raising alone - was playing “Grand Theft Auto,” an exceedingly violent video in which the gamer assumes the role of ladder-climbing criminal.

An argument ensued as Mejia unplugged her son’s PlayStation. Then, this mad-as-hell mother dialed 911. Police responded and managed to talk the boy into shutting off the game and going to sleep.

“They (police) were just like, ‘Chill out. Go to bed,’ ” the boy told the Herald.

Mejia said she approves of athletic-themed videos, but as for “Grand Theft Auto,” she said, “I would never buy that kind of video. No way. I called (police) because if you don’t respect your mother, what are you going to do in your life?”

Is this bad parenting or excellent marketing? Is this how you want to become famous? To be a hardcore gamer ups your cred out there in the gaming world. To be able to brag that "my moms had to drop a dime on me and get Johnny Law to shut down my rig" confers status upon a young gamer.

If you own the Grand Theft Auto franchise, to have someone play your game to the point where a mother has to plead for help to the media and to the police to get her son to turn the game off, well, on the day before Christmas Eve, that's like being handed a candy cane with a billion dollars stuck to it. This story was so compelling (and, let's face it, the news is just another marketing tool), CNN has named the mother an "intriguing" person.


This is how CNN defines "intriguing" for us:

There are people who enter the news cycle every day because their actions or decisions are new, important or different. Others are in the news because they are the ones those decisions affect. And there are a number of people who are so famous or controversial that anything they say or do becomes news.

Some of these people do what we expect of them: They run for office, pass legislation, start a business, get hired or fired, commit a crime, make an arrest, get in accidents, hit a home run, overthrow a government, fight wars, sue an opponent, put out fires, prepare for hurricanes and cavort with people other than their spouses. They do make news, but the action is usually more important than who is involved in the story.

But every day there are a number of people who become fascinating to us -- by virtue of their character, how they reached their decision, how they behaved under pressure or because of the remarkable circumstances surrounding the event they are involved in.

They arouse our curiosity. We hear about them and want to know more. What they have done or said stimulates conversations across the country. At times, there is even a mystery about them. What they have done may be unique, heroic, cowardly or ghastly, but they capture our imaginations. We want to know what makes them tick, why they believe what they do and why they did what they did. They intrigue us.

Being pathetic is intriguing? Or is this really about helping a sponsor sell some video games?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The NHL Winter Classic Looks Like a Winner

Fenway Park

I love the NHL Winter Classic. If we lived near where we could go see this perennial fan favorite, we would go see them play outdoors.

This year, they’re playing at Fenway Park, and, as many of my longtime readers know, I am banned for life from Fenway Park. I’m a bit of a pest when it comes to baseball games. I feel that I need to help manage, and I like to sit on the third base line and confuse the third base coach. This inevitably leads to hard feelings, especially when I hurt the home team.

After setting up the rink, the old timers from the Boston Bruins took the ice:

Terry O’Reilly and Cam Neely

Look at Bobby Orr. What a classy gentleman.

Bobby Orr

Bobby Orr

Can’t wait to see it.

Jon Gosselin Really Isn't Much of a Badass

John Gosselin with a small handgun

I've been a badass all of my life. Jon Gosselin? He's been a widebody slapface for a few months now:

Causing a bit of a commotion, Jon Gosselin was spotted out earlier today (December 16) with a gun in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Bundled up for the chilly weather, the father of 8 headed out to his backyard where he fired the small handgun.

It’s a tad disturbing knowing Gosselin has possesion of a gun, especially since earlier today an arbitrator finished up with the division of the money and property he had with estranged wife, Kate.

Furthermore, Jon was recently ordered to stop making media appearances due to a breach of contract with TLC network.

He's really looking like hell now, and he's probably gorging himself on comfort food. A judge was not amused:

A Pennsylvania judge has ordered that no guns be allowed at Jon Gosselin’s home after the reality television dad was seen shooting a loaded pistol at his Berks County house.

According to MyFoxPhiladelphia, Judge Arthur Tilson issued the order Thursday after photographers snapped the former “Jon and Kate Plus Eight” star carrying the gun and then shooting it on his estate.

Gosselin has also been ordered to register the pistol at a new address within 90 days.

It was the second legal hurdle for the 32-year-old father of eight in just a few days. Earlier this week, authorities ruled he could not make any media appearances for compensation without permission from the TLC network, which aired the show that made him famous.

I have done a non-scientific study of this situation. I don't think what he did was all that bad:

The Gosselin Home, Berks County, PA (date of satellite photo unknown)

Without knowing what direction Mr. Gosselin was shooting, I would say that what he was doing wasn't smart, but it wasn't extremely dangerous. He appears to be shooting some sort of handgun, perhaps a 9mm handgun. Fair enough. If you look at the map, the Gosselin home is fairly isolated. I estimate there is at least a quarter of a mile between them and their closest neighbors. The scale really is important; alas, I couldn't get a good determination of distances. Suffice it to say, if Gosselin had been firing a hunting rifle, he'd be in serious jeopardy of hitting a residence or dwelling, however. Given that this satellite photo may be several years old, there could be other homes very close to theirs.

Now that the Gosselins are divorced, it's anyone's guess as to what happens next. Interest in the couple has certainly waned. The backlash may last for a long, long time.

*Widebody Slapface

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Brittany Murphy 1977-2009

Brittany Murphy

What an absolute tragedy.

I have always thought that Murphy was one of the most genuine and hilarious actresses, ever. Her turn in "Drop Dead Gorgeous" introduced us to her, and to the equally wonderful Amy Adams.

If you want to see Murphy at her best, see her in that, and in Clueless.

Bethenny Frankel Can Wear Whatever She Wants

Bethenny Frankel

This is a little undue criticism for a lovely lady:

Bethenny Frankel
is no shrinking violet. The pregnant Real Housewives of New York star posed nude for a PETA billboard that was unveiled Dec. 15 in Manhattan's Times Square. Now, she's talking back to the
housewives and other haters who have suggested that the butt-baring photo was heavily airbrushed -- and she's shared the photo evidence (the original, untouched image) exclusively with

"Everything I'm about is being honest and being upfront," Frankel, 39, tells "So if people are talking and saying [the photo] was airbrushed...then, you know what? Here's the picture. Have it your way."

The author of new cookbook The Skinnygirl Dish adds that she would "never, ever allow them to put up a billboard that was really far from the truth."

Now four months pregnant with her first child, Frankel disrobed for the shots on a Manhattan rooftop in September. Although she's never posed nude before, she says "I wasn't that freaked out about it. I don't know why. PETA has no interest in making me look sleazy. It was such an honor."

The image doesn't strike me as being reshaped. Rather, it has been smoothed out a little, to give her an even glow. That's the advertising business, though. Compare the photo of Frankel above with this one, and there really isn't that much of a difference. She's not 19 years old. Is that supposed to be the sole criteria here? Why does her age matter when criticizing how she looks? She's beautiful, and that needs to be appreciated.

Bethenny Frankel, personal appearance photo

They do that with virtually everything. It looks as if it has been balanced for color more than it has been buffed and polished.

The controversy started when one hugely over-worked lady criticized another lady:

The housewives are hating on each other again.

Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice has slammed pregnant Bethenny Frankel's new nude PETA ad.

"To quote Bethenny: 'I just threw up a little in my mouth,'" Giudice, 36, Twittered Tuesday.

Frankel, 39, boasted in the New York Post that she was "already pregnant" when she shot the ad and she was "pleased" with how it turned out "because it doesn't look like there's been any airbrushing."

Giudice begs to differ.

"Help me understand this," she Twittered. "Bethenny is happy with her naked pic because she was 'already pregnant' at the time. She says she's now three months along, but she did the shot in August. Even if she's four months pregnant now, she would've been, like, one hour pregnant in the pic."

Now, I don't know about you, but I think there's some jealousy at work here.

Teresa Giudice

No? Okay then.

As for being accurate, well, compare the ad above with the infamous "Ralph Lauren" ad. So, if this is the benchmark for "overdoing" it with Photoshop, does that mean they overdid it with Frankel?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Updating the Look of the British Army

It’s always nice to see an ally focused on warfighting:

British troops will get new camouflage uniforms for the first time in more than 40 years, based on computer modeling of Afghanistan’s terrain, the Ministry of Defence announced Sunday.

The “multi-terrain pattern,” as the military has dubbed the new design, is the first new pattern from the Ministry of Defence since 1968, it said.

It is specifically designed with Afghanistan’s Helmand province in mind, the ministry said in a statement. The British military have suffered heavy losses in the southern province this year. More than 100 British troops have died in Afghanistan in 2009, making it the deadliest for UK troops in many years.

The new design was put together in six months, funded as an “urgent operational requirement” project worth £250,000 ($400,000).

“This new camouflage will help our troops blend into different environments in Helmand Province to stay hidden from the Taliban,” Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said in a statement.

The project included aerial and scientific photography in Afghanistan “to provide the right colors and their brightness,” the ministry said. “The colors were fed into a computer and computer modeling was used to represent the Green Zone, deserts and mixed environments in Afghanistan.”

It’s not as “high-tech” looking as the digital patterns that our troops use, but it’s a good start. I do have to note that, in nearly all instances, the insurgents who oppose us never wear this kind of camoflage, and just wear the regular clothing that can be found anywhere in Afghanistan. If uniforms were so important, why is it that our enemies never bother making theirs as camoflaged as the ones our troops and our allies wear?

Is it really that important? Or is this something that pleases the generals?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Verizon Has More Greed Than Common Sense

Consumers like to walk away from bad prices and bad service

When you’re hell bent on angering your customers, always try to do it with a smile, not a sneer:

Verizon Wirelessdefended today its recent decision to double penalties for smart-phone customers who leave their contracts early, telling federal regulators that it needed to do so to keep up with the rising costs of mobile devices that it is subsidizes for its users. Starting Nov. 15, Verizion Wireless smart phone customers were charged $350 for cancelling their contracts early, compared to previous charges of $150.

The letter drew immediate criticism from consumer groups that said Verizon is unfairly charging consumers for costs unassociated with the phones. Such policies, they say, deter users from switching carriers even when they move to areas without service and can add up to hundreds of dollars of penalties for households that want to terminate service, even close to the end of their contracts.

In a 77-page letter to the Federal Communications Commission, the nation’s largest mobile phone service operator said it makes up the costs of subsidizing phones like the BlackBerry Storm and Droid through service fees in one- or two-year contracts. When customers leave for competitors like T-Mobile, Sprint Nextel or AT&T,Verizon argued, it suffers losses from the discounts given for smart devices.

And the ETF goes to recover other costs beyond the phone, Verizon said:

Contrary to the implication of the question, the ETF is not limited to the recovery of the wholesale cost of the device over the life of the contract. As explained in response to Question 4, the ETF partially compensates Verizon Wireless for all the costs and risks of providing service, which include advertising, commission, store costs, and network costs.

Those costs shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of its users, who aren’t buying their phones to pay for Verizon Wireless’ ad campaigns, consumer advocates said.

The thing is, these phones are wonderful and all, but they’re really money traps. You’re not paying for a super cool device. You’re paying through the nose to be connected to a spotty network with severe limitations and expensive data rates. There’s a reason why a kid in California can run up a ridiculously expensive bill just by downloading a gig and a half of data over the wrong phone—the networks cannot handle it, and the fees are just one way to soak people. On my Verizon FiOS connection, I can download a gig of data, any time and any day of the week, in mere minutes. What’s a gig of data? To me, it’s a momentary thing that happens in the background. To someone with the wrong kind of phone, it’s like signing over six months of salary. Something is seriously flat busted broken out there. It’s been going on for years—anything for a buck.

And what’s to blame? Well, the marketing aspect is partially to blame. The elitism that goes with having an iPhone has clearly put companies like Verizon on the defensive. They are now rushing to give consumers something that can compete with the iPhone, and the costs of marketing such a thing are hitting their profit margins. Instead of playing against the weakness of the iPhone, which prevents customers from having real choice, Verizon is now saying, ‘the cost of abandoning us is designed to spread a word of mouth that will ensure that no one will sign with us, because our draconian rules will scare customers into sticking with their iPhones.’

Networks are expensive. Why bother even going into the communications business, then? Well, if every major telecom company joined with their brethren, and built out one comprehensive network that everyone could use, coverage would expand to most Americans. Where these companies would have to compete is on customer service, quality, and price. That’s why they won’t do it. They want their enclosed networks, their outrageous cancellation fees, and their exclusivity. In reality, there’s one simple way they could provide the consumer with great service and fair prices, and that’s by shared infrastructure investment and cooperation. You’re more likely to see them hiring better customer service personnel. I once had a conversation with a man at Comcast cable who, in his smugness and disdain for me, let slip that I was a drop in the bucket. Comcast’s bucket has sprung a leak in my area—their customers have abandoned them for Verizon. Is that because Verizon is such great shakes? Of course not. It’s because Comcast became too nasty to continue to do business with. This is why Direct TV, Dish Network, and everyone else are seeing a backlash from consumers.

The draconian rules of having an iPhone have now been confronted with the draconian rules of signing up for whatever Verizon has to offer, and, dammit, you had better pay their price and sign over your choice to them. Common sense has always said, “give the people what they want.” If you can’t figure out how to make money from doing that, go out of business.

Leaving things open, and giving the consumers the best product that a company can field, has gone the way of the analog pager.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Coach Knight Throws a Turd in the Punchbowl

It should come as no surprise that I am a Bobby Knight fan. He coached men's basketball in the NCAA the way that it is supposed to be coached. He graduated his players and he played by the rules. More important than the wins, he taught and instructed boys and helped make them into men.

Coach Knight repeated something yesterday that I've been saying for months about John Calipari:
Bob Knight said integrity is lacking in college basketball and cited Kentucky coach John Calipari as an example.

During a fundraiser for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Knight said he doesn't understand why Calipari is still coaching.

"We've gotten into this situation where integrity is really lacking and that's why I'm glad I'm not coaching," he said. "You see we've got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on probation and he's still coaching. I really don't understand that."

Massachusetts and Memphis were both sanctioned by the NCAA for violations committed during Calipari's tenure.

Knight, who won a record 902 games as coach of Army, Indiana and Texas Tech, did not elaborate or take questions from reporters.

But for more than 90 minutes Thursday, Knight recounted tales from his coaching days, stories from the recruiting trail, lessons he passed along to players and, oh yes, even a new critique of the NCAA.

Yes, it is a disgrace, and as I have pointed out here, here, and here, it's entirely the fault of an NCAA that refuses to deal with problems and apply even standards to every program in the NCAA. It is true that Kentucky took a hit this season--not the death penalty, but, rather, a minor penalty that had no bearing on the start of their season. The answer to your next question is a question of my own: how many times are you going to see a PAC 10 men's basketball team on ESPN or CBS this season and how many times are you going to see Kentucky on television?

You're Just Now Figuring This Out?

When former NHL player Reg Fleming, passed away, doctors noticed something:
Former NHL player Reggie Fleming, who died in July, had brain damage due to repeated head trauma, linking hockey for the first time to a condition usually found in boxers, the New York Times reported Friday.

Fleming, who spent 12 seasons in the NHL, was found by Boston University researchers to have had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a disease that causes cognitive decline, behavioral abnormalities and ultimately dementia, the Times said. Fleming is the first hockey player known to have been tested for the disease, which was also found in several former NFL players recently.

"Boxing we've known for a long time, football we've recently become aware of - now hockey," Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at Boston University who also diagnosed CTE in the former football players, told the newspaper. "Repetitive head injuries can have very serious long-term consequences, regardless of how you get them."

Deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly told the Times the league would have no comment until it had a chance to review the report.

Fleming, who died at age 73, had 108 goals, 132 assists and 1,468 penalty minutes in 749 career games with the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres. He helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 1961 and also spent two seasons World Hockey Association's Chicago Cougars.

Fleming played his entire NHL career before the mandatory helmet rule was instituted in 1979. I don't know if Fleming ever wore a helmet, but he was an enforcer (I don't use the word goon, because that implies there is no skill behind being a team enforcer on an NHL team) who played an aggressive style of hockey that kept him in the league.

I would hope that this forces people to connect the dots and start looking at retired NHL players as potential sufferers of brain damage or brain injury. Perhaps this will compel the NHL to allot a little more money and a little more effort towards helping retired players with their health care needs. If you see the post below this one, I've got a handful of old time hockey fights from the 1970s and 1980s that ought wake people up. In many of these videos, all featuring Willi Plett, you see Plett playing part of his career without a helmet and you see multiple blows to the head with bare fists, you see head butts, and you see players being driven down into the ice.

By no means am I an anti-fighting nutball. Fighting is part of the culture and tradition of hockey. Taking care of retired players is an obligation of professional hockey, and not just in this country. I single out the NHL, but, really, anyone who played the game at any level needs to be screened or evaluated.

UPDATE: I wish I had seen this--it answers many of my concerns:

Some former N.H.L. players have expressed concern about the repeated blows to the head they took during their careers.

“My memory has gotten worse the last 10 years or so,” said Ron Duguay, who played helmetless for the Rangers and three other N.H.L. teams from 1977-78 through 1988-89 and who is taking a series of neurological tests as a result of his concerns. He agreed to share the results of his tests in an interview last month.

“I fail a lot of the memory tests,” said Duguay, 52. “I took a lot of hits to the head with no helmet, and if you’ve taken hits to the head you’ve suffered damage. Now I’m seeing what I can do to keep my health.

“I had fun as a New York Ranger,” said Duguay, who was known as a bon vivant during his playing days. “People say you should write a book, and I would, but I can’t remember.”

McKee said that because C.T.E. symptoms resembled those of Alzheimer’s disease — although they appear sooner, as early as the person’s 30s, and last longer — many athletes currently being treated for Alzheimer’s might have been misdiagnosed. She added that patients with C.T.E. appeared to show considerably more aggression and anger-management problems than patients with Alzheimer’s did, and could therefore be misunderstood as psychiatric.

“This is not a psychiatric disorder or a postcareer adjustment issue — the individual is struggling with a disease that is short-circuiting his nerve connections inside the brain,” McKee said. “That is compromising his ability to deal with the world as he used to. I can’t imagine the chaos that these individuals are suffering.”

The Boston University group is collaborating with the Sports Legacy Institute to collect brain tissue of athletes and nonathletes to explore and better understand the effects of sport-related concussion. A dozen hockey players are among 250 current and retired athletes who have pledged to donate their brains to the study.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Will Jerry Seinfeld Replace Conan O'Brien?

Conan O'Brien

Officially, a network would have to deny something as nutty as this:

Thanks to Conan O'Brien's disappointing transition into the 'Tonight Show' chair, I've heard NBC has their eyes on replacing him with none other than their golden boy, Jerry Seinfeld. Is a big old change on the horizon for struggling NBC and their late-night lineup? Just what does NBC's spokesperson say about this?

With Conan O'Brien ratings slipping faster than Tiger Woods' endorsement appeal, TV executives are telling me that informal discussions have started to occur within 30 Rock as to who would be the home-run replacement for the hysterical but sagging redhead. The name on everyone's wish list? Jerry Seinfeld.

"NBC just can't carry on like this. 'The Tonight Show' has lost 52 percent of its viewership in just one year. The November ratings will be the show's lowest in 15 years. They would be idiots to not be having the replacement conversation," a source tells me.

That may very well be, but where do you go if Jay Leno is standing around, all hangdog and anxious, wanting his job back and Jerry Seinfeld tells them to take a powder? Who has the stature to step in over the bodies and run things?

What people don't remember is the absolute power Johnny Carson once had in his position as the king of Late Night. Not necessarily in show business, but, really, a power over NBC and a voice in virtually all discussions where the interests of NBC collided with his own. Carson demanded and received multiple concessions from NBC, limiting the old Letterman show on NBC to four nights a week. Does anyone remember when the Letterman show would only run four nights a week, taking Fridays off for "alternate" programming? That left Carson (who took Monday nights off) to have his showcase to himself, scheduling big guests for an end of the week finale. Is there anyone in television right now who could pull off such a thing if it cost the network money?

Anyway, Conan is toast if the numbers continue to slide like they have been.

Elin Nordegren Calls it Quits

Elin Nordegren

How could she have saved her marriage? Her husband trashed their marriage: 

Tiger Woods' wife, Elin Nordegren, will seek a divorce from the world's No. 1 golfer, is reporting.

A source close to Nordegren told the website Wednesday that a "divorce is 100% on." Woods and his wife have been married for five years and have a 2-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old son.

The report comes nearly three weeks after Woods crashed his sport-utility vehicle into a tree outside his Florida home, setting in motion a whirlwind of bad news.

Woods has not been seen in public since the Nov. 27 accident. Moving vans were seen outside his home Wednesday, and his wife has been photographed without her wedding ring in recent days.

Two words:

Unprotected sex.

It's not just the sex, I guess, but in these ultra-modern times, the ick factor of unprotected sex is a little too much for some people to stomach.

Kudos to Elin. She can go back to Sweden and live like a princess and never have to deal with the American sports media again.

Doggie Day Care

Did you know that there was a national chain of “upscale” doggie daycare franchises?

I mean, it’s not a terrible idea if you’re somewhat wealthy and you have a high maintenance dog. However, as I have already pointed out, people are abandoning their Chihuahuas in record numbers in California. Does that mean this is a bad idea? Probably in California, I guess, but the only place I see this working is where I live, in the money-soaked suburbs of Washington D.C., where fat cats have Federal paychecks to subsidize their largesse. It’s no wonder that this business started in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. Federal contractor money allows tens of thousands of people to live like robber barons on low three figure incomes. These people, literally, do not have to work and can never be fired. That leaves them free to start online betting businesses or to whore themselves out to anyone who will hire them as consultants—usually, friends who have applied for Federal contracts and have won them without having to worry about being outbid.

Here’s part of the story, by the way, since I’m more interested in what I have to say anyway:

Ms. Nichols approached seven banks before securing a loan. Like the landlords, they all wanted to see a successful owner track record. It was a small women-owned bank, Southern Financial Bank, that finally gave her a $75,000 Small Business Administration-backed loan. She had also been saving her money for several years and she sold her house, which netted about $80,000. Everything went into the business, with a few thousand dollars going into marketing, says Ms. Nichols.

Ms. Nichols opened her first center, Happy Tails Dog Spa, in June of 2002 in Tysons Corner, Va., offering day care and boarding. She remembers looking up and seeing her dog-spa signage surrounded by those of telecommunication giants. “That felt really good,” she says.

In its first six months, Happy Tails grossed $250,000. By seven months, the company, with its then eight employees, was profitable. In 2003, revenue was above $1 million helping to finance the growth of the business, especially franchises. “I didn’t spend a lot on advertising. I lived for the business,” says Ms. Nichols. “Everywhere I went, I had my [company] shirt on, and I talked about the business.”

I see simple caution from the bankers here. One dip in an uncertain economy and the business takes a hit. What do you think we’ve been living through for the last few years? If ever there was an indictment of Federal contractor largesse, it would be the success of a Doggie Day Care in Tyson’s Corner.

The Tragedy of Chris Henry

This is just too sad for words:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry has died, one day after suffering serious injuries upon falling out of the back of a pickup truck in what authorities describe as a domestic dispute with his fiancee.

Police say Henry died at 6:36 a.m. Thursday. Henry was 26.

Away from the team because of a broken forearm, Henry was rushed to the hospital Wednesday after being found on a residential road. Police say a dispute began at a home about a half-mile away, and Henry jumped into the bed of the truck as his fiancee was driving away from the residence.

Police said at some point when she was driving, Henry "came out of the back of the vehicle."

What do you do at this point? What do you do if you're the National Football League and you see, time and again, a serious problem with your players, with the lifestyle they find themselves in as rookies, and domestic violence?

Rookie orientation in the NFL is a series of classes or briefings where new players are shown some of the pitfalls that go with big money contracts, old friends from the neighborhood, new girlfriends and wives, and everything that goes with becoming a high profile member of a community.

I think the NFL deserves credit for rookie orientation, but perhaps what it needs is an ongoing briefing, held every year for every team, that helps show players how society is evolving. Call it the Insider Briefing. Make it about players talking to players, not some crusty old veteran giving a PowerPoint about what happened to him when he woke up drunk in his driveway in a stolen prom dress when he played for Denver in the 1980s. You haven't heard that one? I made it up. I made it up because a variation of that happened to me when I played for Princeton. Don't ask, because we don't talk about the prom dress in the Rogers household. Suffice it so say, Mr. Peej was able to prevent the Princeton cops from pressing charges against me because we were able to salvage the dress and the reputation of that high school girl. It cost us all of our mad money for the month, but it was worth it.

The Insider Briefing can be as simple as having a troubled player go around and talk about what he thinks is right or wrong about being an NFL player who runs afoul of the law. It should not be about shame. It should be someone at that very elite level being able to go into a room without being judged to talk with men at his elite level and it should be a conversation, not a lecture. I realize that these men play on teams. In point of fact, they play on teams that are a part of a League, and that league is an ever-changing and evolving thing. I would like to see something put in place that takes a player like Chris Henry, who has had trouble, and maybe a Peyton Manning and three guys who don't start who play on other teams and has them go around during training camp to spend some time with other players to talk about what they see, what they know about groupies and hangers-on, what they think can be done to deal with a girlfriend who is spending too much money, what can be done about family members who ask for money, and what guns, violence and fear of failure can do to someone who is exalted above all others.

I hate to tag you with this, Mr. Manning, but, so far, you haven't screwed up and driven your vehicle into a crowded Outback Steakhouse with a naked grandmother on the hood and an Uzi on your lap. Let's help other players avoid such a thing, and let's help you with their perspective on keeping the media, the whores, the drugs, the politicians, and the Disney Corporation at bay.

Don't think I'm not looking at you, Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson. I see you flirting with Disney. We're here to bring you back, brother. I know you didn't get to play in the NFL, but let's be honest--Miami is damned near the NFL, and is practically the development league. Mr. Johnson has a nephew drafted by the Browns and another nephew at UCLA--and we need to save him from the Disney Corporation. We need to reach out to a brother in need and see if someone can hook him up with some honest cheddar.

It's probably not realistic, but it can't be about blaming this young man just for doing something stupid and dying too young. There are so many people who live at the intersection of fame, fortune, and celebrity who can help. It doesn't matter if you're the late Steve McNair or someone who got cut and never made it. Everyone needs help understanding what can happen and what can go wrong with you mix money, family, and fame or near fame in a big ol' bowl and try to fight over who gets to take the first drink and how much and when they can drink it.

On the off chance that someone who plays on special teams for another team who had a thing with a fiancee three years ago can go into a room and talk to people like Chris Henry and say, "you know, sometimes, it's better to just let her drive away. Let her go have a moment. Let her think about things and come back when she's ready." That may or may not have been the thing that caused Henry to pause and walk back into the house. I don't know.

Realistic? I don't know. I don't want to write a condemnation when writing something a little more constructive might go down better than a poison pill or just some tut-tut joke at someone's expense. This is not a joke--there's no reason this young mad had to fall into the road and die in a hospital.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Letterman Case Gets Weird

I don't have a reasonably interesting photo, so I'll just throw this up there for no reason

I don't know what to make of this:

Prosecutors have released transcripts of what they say are secretly-recorded tapes of conversations between lawyers for David Letterman and Robert "Joe" Halderman, the veteran CBS News producer accused of trying to shake down the comic for $2 million.

The transcripts have Halderman voicing fears Letterman would go to great extremes to get revenge.

Prosecutors contend Halderman threatened to go public with word of affairs Letterman had had with staffers of his show if the late-night host didn't give Halderman the money. Halderman insists he was just shopping around a screenplay about Letterman's life.

His attorneys told CBS News again on Tuesday that Halderman was trying to negotiate a business deal, on the on the right side of law.

Halderman is seeking the dismissal of the attempted grand larceny case against him.

On Oct. 1, Letterman made the shocking revelation on "Late Night with David Letterman" that he'd had sex with staffers, and that he was the target of the extortion plot.

Days earlier, say authorities, conversations took place at a New York City hotel between two Letterman lawyers and Halderman, who didn't know the attorneys were wired.

"I'm not sure how crazy this guy is, or um, how dangerous he might be," Halderman said of Letterman. " ... Should I be fired, mysteriously ... if my house burns down ... any number of things that... I have no idea who or what he is or is capable of."

While I have zero sympathy for Letterman, who behaved irresponsibly and acted like an absolute scoundrel, I do have to say that the tapes, and Halderman's performance, really doesn't ring true. This sounds like someone who is 'playing to the audience' by trying to appear to be on the up and up. This is how a sophisticated extortion might be carried out, but carried out badly, nonetheless.

If you're legitimately trying to secure a business deal, why are you afraid of these ridiculous attempts at revenge? Extorting something from Letterman would, I guess, cause him to take revenge. Securing the rights for a screenplay, or getting paid x number of dollars for something creative? Where's the revenge motive there?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When The Money Stops, the Hookers Do Tend to Give Up Your Secrets

Nah, Keep Digging, Sir...

Am I reading this wrong?

Despite claims that Tiger Woods was cheap when it came to spending money on the women with whom he had relationships, some did benefit financially and continue to do so.

According to several women who were involved with the golfer, Woods wired money to them on a monthly basis. The dollar amounts they cite range from $5,000 to $10,000 per month, and there’s talk among those women that someone out there might be getting as much as $20,000 per month.

“The money comes via a wire transfer,” said one woman. “There’s no contract about it, there’s no discussion about what it’s for, but it’s implied that it’s in exchange for keeping quiet about his affair.”

According to that same woman, Woods continued to be in touch in the days following his Thanksgiving night car accident. “Elin took his cell phone away, so he had to call from his land line at home,” said one. “He hasn’t called in at least a week though.”

Of course, Tiger gets all of that money back from his whores, now that they've gone on talk shows and all that, correct?

Oh, wait. There was no contract. So, unlike the huge losses that Tiger now has to suffer because Accenture, Gillette, and a growing number of advertisers have cancelled his contractstheir with him, Tiger doesn't get his whoring around money back from the flopsy butter hogs and the anal porn stars and the hillbilly trailer trash he was banging. And I say that as a man who has nothing against whores. I love whores. I'm not a former billionaire who made bank presenting myself as an elite athlete and an establishment darling, however. Has Jim Brown reached out to Tiger yet? Can't wait for that debacle.

That's how that works, right? Sometimes, I'm so naive about these things. I really need to do more whoring around.

America Needs a Robin Hood of its Own

Ever feel like things are being run by the Sheriff of Nottingham?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Protesters Trash the Home of Berkeley Chancellor

University House, home of the Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley

If this is any indication of what’s to come in this country, then bear in mind one thing—many of the protesters who were arrested weren’t even students:

Eight people were under arrest Saturday after protesters broke windows, lights and planters outside the home of the chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.

University spokesman Dan Mogulof said 40 to 70 protesters also threw incendiary devices at police cars and the home of Chancellor Robert Birgeneau about 11 p.m. Friday. There were no fires or injuries.

The protest at the chancellor’s home came late the same day that police arrested 66 protesters at a campus classroom building that was partially taken over for four days.

The protesters are demonstrating against state funding cuts that have led to course cutbacks, faculty furloughs and sharp fee increases.

“The attack at our home was extraordinarily frightening and violent. My wife and I genuinely feared for our lives,” Birgeneau said in a statement issued through the university.

The eight were arrested on suspicion of rioting, threatening an education official, attempted burglary, attempted arson of an occupied building, felony vandalism, and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer.

They include two Berkeley students and one from the University of California, Davis, Mogulof said. Of the remaining five, four had San Francisco Bay-area addresses, while one is from Brooklyn, N.Y. Their ages ranged from 20-41. At least three are women.

I thought that the fact that five of the people arrested were apparently not even students at the school affected by the budget cuts should have been featured more prominently in the article. Clearly, this was the work of people who just wanted a reason to trash something, and they probably aren’t even acquainted with the particulars.

California is broke. It cannot pay state workers, it cannot agree on a budget, and it cannot continue bleeding money. Everyone is going to be affected by a situation like that, and until California can figure out how to properly tax the property of state residents, and return to some sort of fiscal sanity, then everyone, including pampered college students, is going to have to pay more. It’s as simple as that.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Way to go out on a limb there

Does anyone really care if the Saints and Colts go 16 and 0?

The New Orleans Saints and Colts are so close to 16-0 seasons, but there are sound reasons to believe neither team will attain regular season perfection.

Winning any game — let alone winning every game — is a difficult thing to do in the NFL.

“In order to win just one game in the National Football League, you have to play at an exceptionally high level,” Colts president Bill Polian said. “At some point in time during the course of a season, breaks are going to go against you. At some point in time you are going to have a game that is decided the wrong way by the officials. And there are always injuries. Brian Billick said it best. Take a look at teams now, and it’s not how they will look in January. From my perspective, going 16-0 is damn near impossible to do.”

In many ways, going 16-0 is a more impressive accomplishment than winning a Super Bowl, even though winning a Super Bowl is more significant.

Rodney Harrison understands the pressure the Saints and Colts will face in their final games. He played for the 2007 New England Patriots, who finished 16-0.

“Every time you play someone when you are undefeated, they want to be that team that knocks you off,” said Harrison, who now is an analyst on NBC’s Football Night in America. “You’re going to get their very best. That’s why it becomes so difficult. Then you have the national scrutiny, the attention you get, making a distraction.

You know, week in, week out, lazy sportswriters say that the Colts and the Saints are "going to lose this weekend" and "won't make it to 16 and 0." This is the best example I can think of to illustrate why sports writing has gone into the tank in this country.

Really? You think they won't make it? How safe is that for a prediction? Because, statistically speaking, that is the safe bet to make. It's a little like saying that one NFL team is going to score more than 35 points this weekend. Statistically, it's very likely that at least one team will score more than 35 points because, week in, week out, at least one if not three or four teams racks up some offense and scores that many points.

Hey, and I'll bet someone gets their uniform dirty, too.

The Saints and the Colts are having a great season. If they make it to 16 and 0, what a great story. But is it worth writing about? Instead of making the safe prediction, tell me who has the better chance of getting a perfect season into the record books. Tell me how Brees matches up against Manning, and tell me something I don't already know by doing some legwork. Tell me if the offensive line is better on this team or that team because of someone who is working harder than ever before. Tell me what coaching change or scheme or alignment of the football gods in the stars above is shining down some brilliance, and don't spare the details. Write, dammit. Write something readable and interesting. Don't sit there with your wang in one hand and a BlackBerry in the other and make the BOLD prediction of failure. Anyone can predict failure. Tell me why success is possible, what makes the failure a possibility, and who has what to thank for their performance this season.

MSNBC seems to hire these guys. Sports Illustrated and ESPN has them, too, and I don't even bother with Fox Sports, although, I probably should. The hacks end up at MSNBC for some reason. It's like they don't even have any standards.

Here's my bold prediction: half the teams are going to win this weekend, half are going to lose, and maybe, just maybe, someone will score a touchdown.

There, can I write about sports for MSNBC?

UPDATE: Hilariously, Both New Orleans and Indy won. So, did MSNBC fire their incompetent sports writers? Of course not.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

He said, She said

When this happens, all you can do is shake your head:

The woman who has obtained a temporary restraining order against Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is now suing the football player seeking $70-million in damages, and custody of the couple's two infant children.

WBAL News has obtained documents showing Candace Williams filed two lawsuits earlier this week in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. One seeks custody and one seeks damages.

In court papers, Williams and Suggs share a home in Windsor Mill.

Last Friday, Williams obtained a temporary restraining order which ordered Suggs from the home and ordered the football player not to abuse, contact, or enter the home. A hearing on a final restraining order is set for Friday afternoon.

In the court papers Williams alleges that Suggs hit her in the chest knocking her to the ground. Suggs is then alleged to have sat on top of Williams with an open bottle of bleach and one hand around her neck saying "Bitch, I'ma drown you with this bleach." Williams' statement goes on to say that she tried to cover the bottle with her hands as bleach came through and onto her and her son. Some of Suggs friends were also in the room telling him to stop.

Williams claims that Suggs finally got off and said "Bitch it's over." and "You better be out my house by the time I get back."

Williams says there were two incidents of alleged abuse in the last month.

Keep in mind that the key word here is "alleged."

Did he do it? I don't know. But you don't sue someone for $70 million dollars unless you want to take all of their money away from them and keep it for yourself.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Has Barry Bonds Really Dropped Off the Face of the Earth?

Barry Bonds(notes), 45, has not filed retirement papers, despite not having played in two seasons. Why not? “Because he’s not retired,” said Bonds’ agent, Jeff Borris. “He was run out of the game.”

I find it remarkable that Barry Bonds has simply vanished from baseball, vanished from the public consciousness, gone down the rabbit hole, in other words. In light of the scandal surrounding him, that's probably a relief for him as a person, not so much as a player.

In general, though, you would think that he would be omnipresent, and a part of the sports discussion and a part of what's going on in baseball. Instead, baseball acts like there was no Barry Bonds, like he didn't break the home run record, and that his absence from the discussion is a good thing.

In previous years, you couldn't go a single day without a mention of Barry Bonds. Now? Nothing.

Bad Sports Writing From Ken Davis

Who hired this hack to write about sports?

Before Kentucky and Connecticut come together Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, coaches John Calipari and Jim Calhoun face a big decision. Will they choose the path of truth? Or will they opt for that road called Political Correctness?

Two years ago, when Calipari was still at Memphis and the Tigers defeated UConn in the 2K Sports Classic, they went all PC on us. Wouldn’t it be more fun this time around if these two highly successful coaches decided to bare their souls and talk about how much they dislike each other?

Maybe it’s old news. After all, the ill will between these two is rooted in activity that took place 20 years ago, before either coach rose to national prominence, before the conference championships, and Final Four trips. Calhoun, who has won two national championships, was on the verge of greatness at UConn. Calipari, who has had two Final Four trips vacated by the NCAA, was just starting out at UMass. Calipari wasn’t a real threat yet, just more of an annoying gnat that Calhoun kept swatting away.

They didn't go "PC" on us, as in "politically correct." They acted like adults.

Some of the absolute worst sports writing in the world takes place on MSNBC. Ken Davis is trying to race to the bottom and lie down in the gutter with Mike Celizic. Really, this is just awful, awful sports writing. This is as bad as it gets--trying to use column inches to start a nothing rivalry between two coaches who know better.

Someone needs to keep Ken Davis away from college sports. He has no business writing about amateur athletics if that's how he views sportsmanship.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Future of Over-the-Air Television

This is something to ponder:

You stupidly built a drive-in theater in the desert just as your customers were all deciding to stay home and watch HBO. Fortunately, the theater turns out to be sitting on a mountain of oil.

With a few asterisks, such is the situation of old-style TV broadcasters, whose viewers have fled to cable or satellite but whose spectrum is lusted after by the wireless industry. According to a much-noted study sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association, in the hands of the broadcasters, that spectrum is worth a mere $12 billion.

In the hands of mobile phone carriers struggling to meet explosive growth for mobile broadband, it would be worth $62 billion.

To the Silicon Valley types who people the Obama administration, this suggests a rational policy: Pay broadcasters to give up some or all of the airwaves used to send signals to their dwindling rabbit-ear audience. Turn it over to mobile phone folks at a hefty markup.

Blair Levin, a veteran telecom analyst who heads the FCC’s broadband efforts, has floated a Hindenburg of a trial balloon by broaching just such a deal with broadcasters. Virtually all agree that any such “grand bargain,” to be politically deliverable, must enlist the willing, nay eager, participation of broadcast station owners. No problem—broadcasters would be the biggest winners, right?

Sadly, remember what happened to the original Hindenburg. Broadcasters, who have a keen sense of political realities, note that their broadcast licenses don’t actually confer a property right, so whatever deal the FCC struck with them, Congress would certainly rewrite it to make sure Congress got all the money. Broadcasters would receive squat, and probably be vilified as bandits in the process.

There is still a nominal audience out there, of people who just shelled out money to switch to digital converters. No one uses analog television in this country anymore, at least, not that I’m aware of. There was a massive scramble to get the converter boxes, and quite a few people still didn’t get the word or get the boxes they needed.

About the only way certain networks are going to expand is if they free up bandwidth or find a technology to make the existing bandwidth work with more devices. This is where having an honest broker at the helm of the regulatory agency, the FCC, makes a huge difference. There may not be the kind of focus on this issue that things like health care, war, and the budget receive, but it still has huge implications for everyone who uses a mobile device.

Vintage Rupp Snowmobiles

Rupp Snowmobile

I must confess to having a certain appreciation of old things. I like classic cars, classic everything. I remember the first jet skis—they were hilarious to look at, if you like that sort of thing. I also remember these old vintage Rupp Snowmobiles:

Way back in 1959, a company was started by Mickey Rupp to make innovative snowmobiles and other sporting equipment. Mansfield, Ohio was the home of Rupp for the entire duration of the company’s life. Highly successful in its time, the company produced minibikes, motorized three wheeled bikes, ATVs and Rupp snowmobiles. While the company eventually went out of business in 1978, it left behind a legion of fans, not the least of which are dedicated to Rupp snowmobiles. A huge section of vintage sled fans are passionate about Rupp and they are still being sold in the used segment today.

Rupp Snowmobile

In the sixties, the popularity of snowmobiles soared and hundreds of manufacturers took the leap into the fabrication of these machines. Eventually, after a few years of declining sales due to decreased snowfall in the early seventies as well as a general loss of interest in the sport, many of these companies were forced to shut shop. Amongst these was Rupp snowmobiles, which faced declining sales in the early seventies but seemed positioned to make a comeback in the mid-seventies with its Nitro series of liquid cooled engines. In 1977, Rupp snowmobiles was taken over by Arctic Cat that then reduced the production line to three models – a fan cooled Sport and two Nitros. Planned and engineered by Rupp, the snowmobiles were produced by Arctic Cat. 

Here are a few images and pictures of what I’m talking about.

Rupp Snowmobile

Rupp Snowmobile

They age well. Not many things can say that.