Sunday, December 16, 2007

Random Thoughts on the Mitchell Report

So, the Mitchell Report on steroid use in baseball was released last week, and you know what? I don't really give a shit. Seems to me that enough righteous indignation has been wasted on the so-called menace of steroids. I won't even link to the worst offenders; everyone knows how to use Google.

My own thoughts are pretty well summed up by Lew Rockwell:

Murray Rothbard used to say that anyone officially beloved is evil. George Mitchell is certainly in that category. An ex-prosecutor and errand boy for the establishment, ex-Senator Mitchell made heavy use of the state in his rotten report.

Since I know that much of the federal propaganda against other illegal substances is a lie, I do not assume they are telling the truth about steroids. If adult players want to take "performing-enhancing substances," that is their business, and none of the government's.

It can also be baseball's business, but then it is up to MLB to enforce its rules.

In fact, MLB pretty much ignored steroids, which was probably the correct move, until the Christian President made them part of his totalitarian Drug War. I'll never forget Sanctimonious George condemning the immorality of steroids as he was murdering hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq.
Agreed. People get so emotional over the issue of steroids, yet in every discussion I have about this (including one last night), I get the same non-arguments and flimsy contentions. Just to address a few:

1. "Steroids are illegal."
So? That's a statement of fact, to be sure, but not an argument. I'd like to know the following:

a) Why should it be up to MLB to serve as proxy for the state's rotten war on drugs?
b) Which other criminal offenses should MLB feel the need to police?

The problem with the legality argument is that it's circular, in my mind. The prohibitionist crowd has yet to make a convincing argument for banning any substance, let alone steroids, so citing illegality is arguing from a weakened position. First establish that steroids should be illegal, then argue that it logically follows that MLB should prohibit them. Otherwise, you're arguing a tautology: steroids are bad because they're illegal. And steroids are illegal because they're bad.

LSD is also illegal but researchers are exploring its potential to treat a variety of mental disorders. Just because something is illegal doesn't make it ipso facto without medicinal, therapeutic or other value.

2. "Steroid-enhanced performances distort baseball's unique statistical record."
This is perhaps the most fatuous of all the anti-steroid complaints. I've addressed this issue before but it is worth revisiting. Statistics are numerical representations of the historical record, but they are supposed to serve us, not the other way around. As Joe Sheehan has said: "baseball statistics are not numbers generated for their own sake." Yet too many baseball fans treat them as such. Are we to be slaves to the numbers, or will we endeavor to understand their meaning?

To wit: Roger Maris hit more homers in a season than Babe Ruth ever did - but nobody in his right mind argues that Maris was the better hitter. In the last 20 years, Pat Hentgen and Mark Davis each won Cy Young Awards, yet Curt Schilling and Roy Oswalt haven't. Warren Spahn's career high in strikeouts was 191 - a figure surpassed by Mark Langston seven times! Does anyone believe that Mark Langston was more dominant than Warren Spahn?

The point is that context is everything. You have to understand which value judgments the statistical record is making (if any), and when it's just a collection of numbers that make no statement at all.

3. Ballplayers are role models! What kind of message do they send to kids by taking steroids???
Another pointless debate. On a side note, why are athletes held to a higher standard with these kinds of issues? Few people wring their hands when musicians or actors get busted for drugs, yet are they not "role models" to the band geeks and drama weenies of the world?

Anyway, it doesn't matter. This culture's odd conceit that prohibition is the best way to protect children from certain substances causes far more problems than it solves. All that is achieved with prohibition is to create the illusion that some substances are "good" and some are "bad" - and that appetites can therefore be controlled through force alone. The reality is that there are pros and cons with ingesting all kinds of things but prohibition prevents us from confronting these issues honestly. It's no different with steroids. So what kind of message do we send to kids by refusing to acknowledge shades of gray?

4. It's cheating!
Fair enough, and so long as MLB rules say so, I'm not arguing that steroid use is anything otherwise. I just can't bring myself to care that much. To me, this is little different from corking bats, scuffing balls, or stealing signals; it's a private matter to be adjudicated by MLB and its players. Congressional hearings, Mitchell Reports, asterisks...it's all so much bullshit. Cheating ballplayers should be fined and/or suspended, and then everybody move on. Spare me the goddamn moral outrage.

5. Players taking steroids jeopardize everyone by taking jobs from those unwilling to ingest the stuff.
This is the only serious argument that carries any real weight. Truly, it matters on the margins only, where superstars looking for an edge or fringe/utility players seeking a roster spot can benefit. Nonetheless, a "clean" player could get squeezed out by a steroid user of otherwise comparable talents. Doesn't seem fair to ask a player to risk his health in order to win playing time, so I'll cede that one.

CONCLUSION
In the past few years, we've seen alleged steroid users Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens post historical seasons at advanced ages. Here's what I'd like to know: assuming steroids to be the catalyst for these performances, why discourage this? As fans, shouldn't we want more and healthier seasons, and greater performances, from elite athletes?

IF steroids are as powerful as advertised, and IF the health risks can be managed or minimized under a doctor's supervision, and IF the overall benefits can be demonstrated to outweigh the negatives...why not explore the possibilities?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fenway Park Crowd Restores My Faith In Humanity

Choose any verb to describe hatred - loathe, despise, detest, abhor, whatever; enhance the sentiment with the modifiers "absolutely" and/or "fucking" preceding - and it still won't adequately convey how I feel about the singing of the national anthem before sporting events. I really hate it.

From reich wing radio to those obnoxious, omnipresent magnetic ribbons, there is enough nationalistic, pseudo-patriotic crap marring every aspect of daily existence; we don't need to pay homage to the almighty state before a frocking
ballgame.

ANYWAY. All that said, this video of Fenway Park's "Disability Awareness Day" crowd helping an autistic man through the "Star Spangled Banner" still gave me goosebumps:





[h/t to reddit.]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Is Eric Lindros Hall-Worthy?

Frequently concussed hockey star Eric Lindros called it quits Thursday after 13 NHL seasons. With the pundits and scribes busy appraising Lindros's career, the popular question has been: is Lindros a Hall of Famer?

Mike Brophy of The Hockey News, for one, is utterly convinced that Lindros belongs. He writes:

I have listened to the criticism Lindros has faced over the years -- that he was too influenced by meddling parents and that he never won the Stanley Cup -- but when I think of Lindros as a player, I think of a powerful game-breaker who was unquestionably one of the most dominant individuals to ever skate in the NHL. I think of a bodychecker who caused opponents to toss and turn all night before they had to play against him, of his lightning-quick release on the best snap shot the game has ever seen, of how he played for Team Canada in the 1991 Canada Cup as a teenager, of his 1994-95 MVP season when he scored 29 goals and 70 points in 46 games.

It was injuries, and nothing more, that hampered what could have been a storybook career. When he was healthy, Lindros was one of the best to ever play hockey. That, and that alone, should be the determining factor when it comes time to consider him for the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I'm not about to start naming names, but suffice it to say there have been players inducted into the Hall with lesser credentials.

I don't have a vote because I am not on the Hall of Fame selection committee. But if I did, I would not only vote yes, I would debate to the end of the earth with anybody who opposed his inclusion.

It is an argument I do not believe I could lose.

This, in a nutshell, is the problem with modern sportswriting: questionable conclusions based on flimsy, anecdotal, non sequitur arguments.

Well, Mikey, I think this is an argument you could lose. Your watchword should be "doubt." I don't know that Lindros should or should not be in the Hall of Fame, but let's at least examine his credentials and the arguments constructed around them:

THE PRO ARGUMENTS:
1. Lindros averaged 1.14 points per game over 760 NHL games - 17th in NHL history.
2. Major awards: one Hart Trophy (MVP), one Lester B. Pearson Trophy ("Most Outstanding Player"); one First Team NHL All-Star selection (1995); one Second Team NHL All-Star selection (1996).
3. Achievements/Milestones:
a. 4 seasons with 40+ goals
b. 7 seasons with 30+ goals
c. One 100-point season
d. Tied for the league lead in scoring (1995 - lost Art Ross trophy to Jaromir Jagr, who won by virtue of more goals).

Unfortunately for Lindros, some of his achievements also work against him, due to raised expectations:

THE CON ARGUMENTS:
1. Zero 50-goal seasons.
2. Scored 100 points in a season only once.
3. Never led the league in goals.
4. Never lead the league in assists.
5. Selected to only one First All-Star team and only one Second All-Star team.
6. Won only two major trophies.
7. Finished in the Top 10 in scoring just 3 times.
8. His career totals - 372 goals, 493 assists, 865 points - are pedestrian; 92nd all-time in goals, not in Top 100 in assists, 99th all-time in points.
9. After leading the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1997, Lindros played in just 10 more playoff games the rest of his career.
10. He never won a Stanley Cup.

Lindros supporters often cite Cam Neely since the two had similarly great, albeit injury-plagued, careers. The argument goes that if Neely's worthy of the Hall, Lindros should be, too. There is some merit to that but the argument's weak.

Neely was terrific at his peak but he's a marginal Hall of Famer. Three 50-goal seasons, four Second All-Star Team selections, a Bill Masterton Trophy in 1994, and a torrid stretch of 176 goals in 216 games (around 65 per 80 games) put him in. That's it, though.

Neely had zero 100-point seasons. He never led the league in goals. He was never a First Team All-Star. Among the Top 100 goal scorers in NHL history, Neely doesn't even rank in the Top 10 in goals per game:

1. Mike Bossy, .762
2. Mario Lemieux, .754
3. Pavel Bure, .623
4. Wayne Gretzky, .601
5. Brett Hull, .584
6. Bobby Hull, .574
7. Tim Kerr, .565
8. Rick Martin, .561
9. Phil Esposito, .559
10. Maurice Richard, .556
11. Cam Neely, .544

Lindros supporters: is Cam Neely really the guy whose coattails you want to ride in on?

The question remains: is Eric Lindros a Hall of Famer? I don't know. It's unfair to penalize him for unrealized potential, especially since injuries held him back more than anything else. The thing about hockey, though, is that value is driven almost as much by perception as it is by numbers. In the end, this might work in Lindros's favor.

The problem, however, is that Lindros will never be perceived in the same light as the best of his contemporaries: Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, Yzerman, Hull, Jagr, Shanahan, Robitaille, Bourque, Sakic, Forsberg, Stevens, Lidstrom, and so on.

When you think of the greatest players of the last 20 years, is Eric Lindros one of them?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

KEVIN DRUM, DINGLEBERRY

***UPDATE BELOW***

That handsome devil to the left is something named Kevin Drum. He blogged about Ron Paul's record-breaking fundraising day (11/5), and boy, is he ever mad!


RON PAUL, FRUITCAKE....Ron Paul raised a buttload of money yesterday. This doesn't really change anything, and everyone knows it,

Everyone = Kevin Drum, apparently.

but I guess it's something to write about. So people are writing about it.

Some better than others.

But look: can we stop pretending to be political infants, even if we happen to be bored this week? It's cheap and easy to take extreme, uncompromising positions when you have no actual chance of ever putting them into practice, so Paul's extreme, uncompromising positions really don't mean a thing.

If you cannot engage the ideas: smear, dismiss, repeat. Classic.

They don't reflect either well or badly on him. They're meaningless, and I wish grown adults who know better would stop pretending otherwise.

Smear. Dismiss. Repeat. Substance? Optional.

Ditto for his "record breaking" fundraising day, which is just a function of (a) the growth of the internet as a political money machine and (b) the curious but well-known fact that technophiles are disproportionately libertarian.

Oops. I forgot "rationalize."

But I will say this: if Ron Paul really is suddenly a "serious" candidate, then I expect him to start getting some pointed questions at the next debate. In the last Republican debate I saw, this noted truth-teller gave a strange and convoluted answer about his economic policies that the audience plainly didn't understand. Next time I expect to see some straight talk about how we should return to the gold standard and get rid of the Fed. This should be followed by a question about whether he supports the free coinage of silver at 16:1. Then some questions about the tin trust.

Seriously, folks. Can we all please grow up?

You first, Kevin.

Seriously, what a twat. Drum's screed uses up 253 words, yet says...absolutely nothing. What is his point? That Ron Paul's a "fruitcake?" Why? That Dr. Paul has no chance of becoming president? Why not? That it's somehow "unserious" to put any credence into coordinated grassroots efforts? Why? Drum doesn't provide support for a single thing he writes.

Kevin Drum: your blog post, and the "ideas" expressed therein, are so transcendentally terrible that I hereby award you an inaugural "Coxie", named for Dr. Perry Cox from "Scrubs."

Take it away, Per:





***UPDATE***
11/12/2007: Glenn Greenwald has blogged about the smears against Ron Paul - far more eloquently and gentlemanly than yours truly, natch - and cited Drum's crappy blog. Go read it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Only the Worldwide Leader Could Provide This Kind of Crack Analysis

ESPN.com is doing an NBA preview, and they've trotted out the usual cavalcade of misfits and would-be oracles to forecast the upcoming season. Of course, I'm most interested in the preview for the Atlanta Hawks, and for sheer nuttiness it doesn't disappoint. Let's see what ESPN's "experts" think:

J. A. Adande, ESPN.com. Prediction: SOUTHEAST: 4 | EAST: 11 Finally a good June night for the Hawks, landing two collegiate winners in Al Horford and Acie Law in the draft. Give them time to figure out how to win in the NBA, and we can talk playoffs next season.

This analysis is sensible and well reasoned. Our journey into Crazy Town commences shortly.

Greg Anthony, ESPN.com. Prediction: SOUTHEAST: 5 | EAST: 15 Last, again. Al Horford's a player, but the organization has too many guys at similar positions. And I don't see enough of a winning mind-set here to get to the next level.

Prerequisites for the Hawks reaching the NBA's next level: finding a low-post presence/scorer, developing an effective point guard, continued growth from the young forwards.

Not a prerequisite for the Hawks reaching the NBA's next level: having enough of a "winning mind-set" to satisfy Greg Anthony.


Jon Barry, ESPN.com. Prediction: SOUTHEAST: 5 | EAST: 14 The Hawks want to run and run, and be the Suns of the East. Hard to do without Steve Nash, but they've got plenty of points to run the show. Good draft with Al Horford and Acie Law IV.

A bit rudimentary (which is the nature of a capsule analysis), but defensible. Barry at least shows an understanding of the team and what made them sporadically successful last year.

Chris Broussard, ESPN Mag. Prediction: SOUTHEAST: 4 | EAST: 11 If Acie Law proves to be nice, the Hawks could take a step forward because they've got great young talent at Positions 2 through 5, with rookie stud Al Horford able to play the 5 if necessary. But until the Hawks actually have success, it's hard to predict anything but underachievement.

Oh, Chris. You started so well. Your first sentence was rational, your second channeled Joe Morgan. Too bad.

Rick Bucher, ESPN Mag. Prediction: SOUTHEAST: 4 | EAST: 12 Eventually, all the talent they've amassed has to have some impact. Right? As nice a get as Acie Law was, though, the linchpin is still Speedy Claxton staying healthy. Which makes for a straw linchpin.

2006-07:

Hawks with Speedy in the lineup: 13-29, .310 win%
Hawks with Speedy wearing the Armani: 17-23, .425 win%

I realize there are problems with this kind of analysis, BUT - it's hard to argue Speedy's the linchpin, especially one that makes the team worse. Not that I necessarily want Anthony Johnson running the point all year, but Speedy didn't exactly tear it up when he did play.

Chad Ford, ESPN.com. Prediction: SOUTHEAST: 2 | EAST: 9 With this much talent, they have to start winning, right? They still have issues at the point (I don't see Acie Law as the answer) but Joe Johnson is an All-Star and Josh Smith, Marvin Williams and Al Horford have that potential. A 38-win season and the playoffs are possibilities.

One of the few reasonable summaries. I think 38 wins is absolutely the baseline for 2007-08.

Jemele Hill, ESPN.com. Prediction: SOUTHEAST: 4 | EAST: 11 A good dark horse to make a surprise playoff run. Al Horford and Acie Law are great additions and let's hope this is the year Marvin Williams shows why he was the No. 2 pick in 2005.

This confuses me. Jemele posits that this team can make a surprise playoff run, yet qualifies it by picking them 11th in the East. Is this hedging your bets, or your way of saying that the race for the last playoff spot in the East will be that close? Please explain.

John Hollinger, ESPN.com. Prediction: SOUTHEAST: 3 | EAST: 7 With last season's injury-ravaged bunch healthy, a rapidly improving young nucleus, and a draft that helped patch their two most important weaknesses, Atlanta looks like this season's playoffs sleeper.

And...there it is! Finally. It took seven capsules before somebody mentioned last year's injuries, which decimated the roster and likely cost the team 5-10 wins. Thank you, John Hollinger. Here's what your colleagues missed:

MAN GAMES LOST TO INJURY:
Joe Johnson, 25 (right calf strain - 4, right calf contusion - 21)
Josh Smith, 10 (hernia surgery)
Marvin Williams, 18 (broken hand - 17, back spasms - 1)
Josh Childress, 27 (sore left foot - 19, stress fracture in right foot - 8)
Tyronn Lue, 25 (knees? back? couldn't find/remember them all)
Salim Stoudamire, 21 (illness, ankle, various maladies)
Speedy Claxton, 40 (knee)
Zaza Pachulia, 10 (Proactiv treatments to shoulders*)

* = may not be accurate

That's eight key contributors who missed double-digits in games! This strikes me as a pretty significant detail, yet only one of ten analysts mentioned it?

Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com. Prediction: SOUTHEAST: 5 | EAST: 15 Wondering what they put in Hollinger's water down at the PER cult in Guyana. He has them making the playoffs, while I have them at 30 wins tops, with 24 wins a more realistic prediction. And here's one more: Mike Woodson is the first coach fired.

Wow.

1) If you're going to make a joke about beverages and Guyana cults, why mention "water" instead of "Kool-Aid"? Isn't that the defining, indelible detail people remember about the Jonestown tragedy?

2) Sheridan writes like someone who didn't watch a single Hawks game last year; either that, or he's too lazy to bother explaining himself. A young, banged-up team managed to win 30 games last year; on what basis would he predict the Hawks to regress to 24?

The team is young, healthy and deeper/more talented than last year. The best player - Joe Johnson - is 26 years old and entering his prime; Josh Smith and Marvin Williams steadily improved over the course of last season. Don't forget: had he not entered the draft, Marvin would be a college senior this year! How many people realize he's younger than either Acie Law or Al Horford? Give this team time to develop and watch out.

Of course they lost their share of games last season, but mixed in were some quality wins at Cleveland, Denver, Minnesota, Phoenix and Golden State. I don't understand how you can just write them off.


3) Chris Sheridan: you have no idea who I am, you've never read this blog (and it's 99% likely you never will) so you'll never see these words, but: if you do, I am willing to bet you that the Hawks will win more than 24 games. Seriously. Name the terms. PLEASE, e-mail me at: jballot1 *at* bellsouth *dot* net. Really.

Marc Stein, ESPN.com. Prediction: SOUTHEAST: 5 | EAST: 13 Horford is impressing people already, but the Hawks need more than yet another young talent -- even if this one gives Kevin Durant a nice run for the ROY trophy -- to halt what now ranks as the league's longest playoff drought.

Fine. Whatever. I'm sleepy.

Just an odd melange here: some insight, and a whole lot of half-baked rhetoric.

(Which, to be fair, probably describes my job of fisking here.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Diet and Fat: A Severe Case of Mistaken Consensus"

Excellent NY Times article about how informational cascading created a false consensus on the dangers of fat. Moral of the story: the prevailing wisdom must always be challenged.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

CNN Makes Curious Editorial Choices

Want an example of how the mainstream media reveals its latent biases? Look no further than the candidate photos on this CNN "Election Center" website.

The frontrunners look happy, smiling, confident (um, except Thompson). The others...well, take a look:

*Al Gore and Newt Gingrich are depicted in black & white, because as everyone knows, no color photographs exist of either man. It's true: these gentlemen refuse to be photographed except in daguerreotype form.

*Christopher Dodd is depicted giving the classic "confused dog" pose:















*Mitt Romney looks like he always does, but I finally figured out who he reminds me of:















Mitt Romney and Christopher Lee as "Dracula" - separated at birth. Open question as to which undead bloodsucker is worse.

*John McCain looks like the guy who just realized he locked his keys in the car:














*Poor Ron Paul looks like a substitute teacher lecturing a group of very bored high schoolers. Not cool, CNN. Not cool at all. On the other hand, kudos for finding one of the few known photos of Sam Brownback not squinting. That couldn't have been easy.

*Finally, the coup de grĂ¢ce: Duncan Hunter. Now, I'm no fan of Congressman Hunter, but even I wouldn't have picked this picture:















I mean, geez...the guy looks like the victim of a UFIA:



















Maybe, instead of some CNN/media conspiracy, the candidates just aren't very photogenic. Who knows? But it seems the MSM is a little too eager to fast-forward to the "inevitable" showdown between Establishment darlings Hillary and Rudy.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Puncturing Reich Wing Radio's Favorite Memes

No matter which yapping reich winger you listen to - Rush, Hannity, Savage, whoever - you'll find certain themes surfacing again and again. These themes, like much of what these guys have to say, feature heaping helpings of monkey shit. Join me on a journey through the fever swamp of neoconservative talk radio: I listen so you don't have to!

#1:

"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the new HITLER!"

Please. Here, have a wet nap, you're frothing a little. This shameless propaganda is designed to bamboozle us into another pointless war but it doesn't withstand even the slightest scrutiny. Look, I'm not suggesting Ahmadinejad is a swell guy - as a head of state, he's probably a major dick. But the new Hitler? Godwinned!

Lew Rockwell pegs him here:

But the elected Ahmadinejad, though a crazed Keynesian and other things, is no dictator, let alone a totalitarian one. He has far less power than Bush, for example, and is not even commander-in-chief of the Iranian military. And the notion that third-world Iran is a threat to nuclear powers America and Israel is laughable. Of course, so was the notion that Saddam Hussein was going to nuke the Bronx, but the booboisie believed it, thanks to the intellectuals who toed the line.

Exactly. Here are some questions for the neocons spouting this "new Hitler" nonsense:


Again, I'm not suggesting Ahmadinejad is a good guy. I'm suggesting that hyperbole is ruining any sense of balance or proportion in the debate. Ahmadinejad has real failings, but enough with the overheated Hitler comparisons. The Nazis aspired to genocide and world domination and very nearly succeeded. Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, is the tinhorn leader of a third world nation that can't possibly threaten the U.S. Where is the validity in the "Hitler" comparisons?

#2:

"Our military servicepeople are heroes! How dare you be so unpatriotic as to criticize their courage and sacrifice! They are above reproach!"

Um, no. They're human, which means - as with any collection of people - they are prone to abuse power and use deadly force indiscriminately. Sometimes they do terrible, terrible things to innocent people. The abuses at Abu Ghraib were terrifying and humiliating experiences for the prisoners; not at all like frat hazing, Rush. The point is that reich-wing radio hosts love the military so much that they'll excuse just about any savagery it commits. But why sanctify the soldier? The training is intended to stamp out humanity and individuality, foment hatred for the "other," and hone the killer instinct. We shouldn't be surprised when soldiers murder, rape, and destroy but that doesn't mean we should defend this.

For the final word and some much needed perspective on the military, we look to one of history's great philosophers, the late Bill Hicks:





Monday, September 24, 2007

The Unbearable Chutzpah of Rudy Giuliani

In case you missed it, while in London last week Rudy Giuliani proclaimed himself "one of the four or five best known Americans in the world."

That's what so admirable about Rudy: understated modesty, gentlemanly reserve and scholarly appreciation for his place in world history. A real mensch, that one.

Rudy's just being modest, of course, but his refreshing honesty begs the question: who else warrants consideration for best known American throughout the world?

1. George W. Bush.
2. Jared from Subway.
3. Tiger Woods.
4. Paris Hilton.
5. Paris Hilton's dog.
6. Paris Hilton's vagina.
7. Howard Stern.
8. That guy who plays Dwight Schrute from "The Office".
9. Oprah!
10. Jar Jar Binks*

*may not actually be American

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Like You Heard an Arlen Tune, Or Bought Yourself a Crazy Hat

So, you may have noticed the spiffy new banner gracing the top of DIM. Pretty effing sweet, huh? It is not my handiwork, as I have the creative skills of a palsied chimp. No, full credit goes to my friend Wayne, who possesses design skills nonpareil. Check out more of his efforts:

Seduction at 24 Frames per Second

rainydog.net

Kudos and many thanks, Wayne!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dispatches from Police State USA

These videos really must be seen (well, heard) to be believed. Here are 13 minutes of petty thuggery courtesy of St. George, MO's "finest."

Part 1:



Part 2:



Bullying, threat making and abusing power: natural outgrowths of our increasingly arrogant and paranoiac police state. Enjoy your so-called freedom.

h/t to reddit.


***UPDATE***


9/12/07: The cop has been suspended without pay.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Also In New Jersey, Pointing Your Finger and Saying 'Bang' Is Manslaughter

New Jersey Upholds DUI for a Man in Parked Vehicle:

A New Jersey appellate court yesterday upheld the principle that convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) can be imposed on individuals who were not driving. David Montalvo, 36, found this out as he responsibly tried to sleep off his intoxication in his GMC pickup truck while safely stopped in the parking lot of the Market Place Deli on a cold February morning last year. At around 5am he awoke to see a Hamburg Police Department patrolman standing over him. The officer had opened the door of Montalvo's truck to rouse the man and insist that he take a breathalyzer test. Montalvo refused.

He was arrested and forced to make a conditional guilty plea to the charge of DUI, intending to challenge the police officer's actions as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Montalvo's attorney argued that the patrolman could have no reasonable grounds to suspect that a sleeping man was involved in criminal activity. Montalvo's truck was running, in park, because according to weather records it was about 25 degrees Fahrenheit that Saturday morning.

"From the perspective of the officer on the scene, I don't find at all that what he was doing was unreasonable," Superior Court Judge Thomas Critchley Jr. said in his rejection of Montalvo's argument. "In fact, I find it would have been unreasonable to have stopped his inquiries at any point short of what he did."

The appellate court agreed that the officer was acting reasonably to render assistance to someone who may have been in distress.

"The officer wanted to make sure the driver was 'okay,' nothing was wrong with the businesses and that the truck was operating properly," the appellate decision concluded. "We are convinced that under the facts as observed by Officer Aaronson defendant was lawfully subject to limited inquiry based upon an objectively reasonable exercise of the officer's community caretaking function."

The appellate division affirmed Montalvo's DUI conviction, meaning the sleeping motorist faces a civil remedial fee or "driver responsibility" tax of $3000 in addition to various other fines and fees of at least $1000, plus his legal bills.

Here's what we learn in the Bizzarro-world reasoning of NJ's appellate court:

  • "Sleeping in a Parked Vehicle" = Driving
  • "Acting reasonably to render assistance to someone who may have been in distress" = demanding a Breathalyzer test
  • Courts are nothing more than rubber stamps for terrible legislation
  • By upholding this conviction, the appellate court creates a huge incentive for drunks who would otherwise sleep it off in their cars to attempt driving home instead. You know, since either way it's "driving under the influence." Way to encourage the very behavior the law was supposed to prevent. Jackasses.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Ballot's First Law of Mornings

The time it takes your spouse to find the snooze button is inversely proportional to the quality of the song blasting from the clock radio.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Arseblog, Indeed, Is Fuckin' Excellent

I'm slowly losing interest in mainstream American sports - a topic worthy of its own post at some point - but instead I've somehow managed to pour my faith into Arsenal FC of Barclay's Premier League. You read that correctly: I am a soccer fan now.

When did this happen? My attitude toward soccer had previously been a shrug-worthy "meh" - I appreciated the athleticism and insane passion that the game evoked but never took much notice. Something clicked with me during last year's World Cup and I've been intrigued by the beautiful game ever since.

Why Arsenal? How does a Yank jump on the Gunner bandwagon? Four reasons:
  1. Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch," as fine a love letter to a sports team as you'll ever find.
  2. The hilarious writing of Deadspin contributor and passionate Arsenal fan David Hirshey.
  3. Tracy's good friend Michelle, a London native and mad supporter of Arsenal. I'm afraid she'd physically hurt me if I rooted for another team. Seriously.
  4. Touring the new Emirates Stadium in London in July. I know longtime fans prefer Highbury but the club is very respectful toward its illustrious history and I couldn't help but be impressed.
In pursuit of this new passion, I discovered some outstanding Arsenal blogs, my favorite of which is "arseblog." Today the arseblogger posted the following:

Ashley Cole is all over the papers today saying Chelsea can be invincible. Invincible cunts. Invincible shite eating, piss drinking, donkey fisting thundercunts. Nobody will ever come close to being as despicable as this Chelsea team. If football goes on for another million years and through the process of evolution a team is made up from hideous mutants who feast on kittens and small babies before making it compulsary [sic] to listen to Phil Collins music 23 out of every 24 hours they still couldn’t be as cunty as Chelsea.

Now that's brilliant.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Great Moments in Pageant Question-Answering...Replies...San Dimas Football Rules!

This video from the Miss Teen USA pageant, starring Miss South Carolina delivering a nuanced, trenchant answer, has been all over the Internets:



OK...yeah, I know. Wrong answer. Admittedly, it is pretty funny in a cringe-inducing, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" kind of way. But it's easy to mock when you're not the one in the spotlight's harsh glare, being judged by millions of viewers. So I won't pile on this poor girl.

But here's what I want to know: what the fuck kind of question was that? And why are these sorts of opinions being solicited from teenagers? They're the most neurotic, self-absorbed people on the planet.

"Recent polls have shown that one-fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?"

How do you answer this ill-considered question without coming off like either a a) colossal asshole, or b) spluttering moron?

The correct answer, of course, is this:

"Well, Aimee, honestly now. How the FUCK should I know? Maybe these 'recent polls' aren't scientific. Maybe this one-fifth represents the blind, the clinically insane, or household plants. The awful truth is that America's educational system has utterly failed in teaching useful life skills or critical thinking, probably from a pitiful combination of politics and neglect. America is home to the fattest, most self-satisfied people on earth. We are teeming with ill-informed and over-opinionated fools. Not only does the one-fifth figure not surprise me, it might be optimistic. Despite all that, what fucking difference does it make in anyone's daily lives to be able to locate the U.S. on a world map?"

Can't blame the girl, can we? Most take pity on the idiot. Nobody likes an asshole.

And when you really think about it, her response was absolutely brilliant. She realized, in that brief instant, the tremendous likelihood of overlap between the geographically wayward and the audience for "Miss Teen USA." Why insult them when it's so easy to make them identify with you! Know your constituency and pander like hell to it. Bravo, Miss South Carolina. Bravo.

***BONUS***

Of course, Miss South Carolina also made me think of this scene from "Billy Madison":




Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Government to the Terminally Ill: Drop Dead (Literally)

The government thinks it's better for terminally ill patients to suffer and die rather than take medications that haven't been state approved. Of course we don't own ourselves or our bodies; we belong to the state. Otherwise that would be, you know, freedom. And that's crazy.

[h/t to LRC]

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Yes, Joe Morgan Sucks, But People: We're Better Than This

FIRE JOE MORGAN links a terrific piece flaying Morgan by Phil Mushnick in today's New York Post. Mushnick ably tackles Joe's various crimes against sports fans and mostly I agree with him. However, there's a curious paragraph about Barry Bonds that deserves another look:

For a man given to detailed expert explanations and historical perspectives (few of which make sense or are supported by facts), Morgan has been disinclined to explain how Bonds hit 25 homers at the age of 26 but 73 at the age of 36, 34 at 27 but 46 at 37. At least give it a guess, Joe.

Whoa there, Phil. We're straying into dangerous territory here.
Nobody can really explain this. I agree that Joe Morgan is batshit crazy and unworthy of the mantle of baseball "analyst." I agree that Barry Bonds probably exposed himself to massive doses of the same gamma radiation that turned Dr. Bruce Banner into the Hulk. Whatever, I don't care. The point is it's lazy and irresponsible to say that "Bonds hit 25 HR at age 26, and 73 at age 36, ergo...steroids!" C'mon.

Here are a few other historical perspectives. The game changed
immensely in the 10 year period in which Bonds' HR totals nearly tripled. Expansion introduced four more pitching staffs into the game - that's roughly 46 pitchers who might otherwise be toiling in the minor leagues. Plus there was a major shift in the way ballparks were conceived and constructed; I don't know that the new parks are objectively easier on hitters than the older ones, but who knows. In 1991 the NL league OPS was .705; by 2001 it had jumped to .749. Clearly the game had changed in those ten years.

Here are still more historical perspectives:
Paul Molitor had his career high in HR - 22 - at age 36. Frank Howard hit 91 HR in his ages 26-29 seasons but 172 HR in his ages 30-33 seasons. Luis Gonzalez's HR totals from 1999-2003 go 26, 31, 57, 28, 26. How do we explain all this?

The thing is, we really can't. This is a problem of
epistemology. We can take the easy way out and just say "steroids" and go have a beer, or we can concede that reality is far too complex to be explained by conjecture and tenuous links.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Screencap Evidence That ESPN Does, In Fact, Suck

The self-proclaimed "Worldwide Leader in Sports" has become as painful as gout over the last few years and there are a ton of reasons why. Just a few examples: the idiotic, insulting "Who's Now" promotion. The insistence on foisting sassy "personalities" and contrived debate upon an unsuspecting public. Skip Bayless. Jay Mariotti. Woody Paige. Stuart Scott. Stephen A. Smith. Schrutebag. And don't forget the annoying ESPN Motion player that officiously launches itself whenever ESPN.com is loaded. That's all terrible, true. But what really pissed me off yesterday was unabashed self-promotion.

Here is a screencap from foxsports.com last evening:




And here is a screencap of ESPN.com from the same time:




Seems the networks differ on the day's major stories, no? ESPN put NASCAR and arena football front and center on its page - thereby dictating the newsworthiness of these events to the audience. But it goes unmentioned that ABC/ESPN are broadcast partners with NASCAR and part owners of the Arena Football League. Which is why you see NASCAR and arena football - arena football! - splashed all over ESPN.com. The network is trying to create fan interest, not reflect it.

But who cares, right? It's about creating buzz! It's about cross-promotion! It's about synergy, motherfuckers!

(I'm not saying Fox Sports is above such shenanigans; only that even I'm surprised by how brazen ESPN's become about it.)

I hereby propose a new acronym for ESPN:

Egregious
Self-
Promotion
Network.


[See what I did there?]

Sunday, July 29, 2007

21st Century Reefer Madness! Marijuana May Increase Psychosis Risk! This Conclusion Is Total Bullshit!

Time to call bullshit!

Marijuana may increase psychosis risk, analysis says

LONDON, England (AP) -- Using marijuana seems to increase the chance of becoming psychotic, researchers report in an analysis of past research that reignites the issue of whether pot is dangerous.
The new review suggests that even infrequent use could raise the small but real risk of this serious mental illness by 40 percent.

Doctors have long suspected a connection and say the latest findings underline the need to highlight marijuana's long-term risks. The research, paid for by the British Health Department, is being published Friday in medical journal The Lancet. [READ THE REST]

Sounds compelling, right? But wait - this research was paid for by the British Health Department - a government body with a vested interest in propping up the state's policy of prohibition. The needles of my bullshit detector are starting to twitch...

The researchers said they couldn't prove that marijuana use itself increases the risk of psychosis, a category of several disorders with schizophrenia being the most commonly known.

There could be something else about marijuana users, "like their tendency to use other drugs or certain personality traits, that could be causing the psychoses," Zammit said.

So, correlation is not causation? Thanks, professor. What else ya got?

Dr. Wilson Compton, a senior scientist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse [emphasis added] in Washington, called the study persuasive.

"The strongest case is that there are consistencies across all of the studies," and that the link was seen only with psychoses -- not anxiety, depression or other mental health problems, he said.

Scientists cannot rule out that pre-existing conditions could have led to both marijuana use and later psychoses, he added.

So, people with pre-existing conditions may self-medicate with substances like alcohol and marijuana? You don't say. But wait, it gets better:

Two of the authors of the study were invited experts on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs Cannabis Review in 2005. Several authors reported being paid to attend drug company-sponsored meetings related to marijuana, and one received consulting fees from companies that make antipsychotic medications.


In other words, these guys are firmly in the pockets of governments and their paymasters in the pharmaceutical industry. Who else benefits from the demonization and prohibition of marijuana? Cui bono?

At least The LA Times report on the study closed on a skeptical note:

Dr. Victor Reus, a psychiatrist at UC San Francisco who was not involved in this study, said he was unconvinced by Zammit's conclusions for both psychotic and mood disorders.


Too many outside factors contribute to the disorders, and the studies Zammit used were too vague to draw hard conclusions, he said.


"There's a limit to what you can do with the data that's in these studies," he said.

Thank you, Dr. Reus. Every time a new study comes out linking marijuana to something bad, you can pretty much disregard it. Seriously. Because it is, inevitably, junk science. These kept "scientists" are actually distorting science in the service of political and pharmaceutical interests, and it's despicable.

If a study is funded or commissioned by a governmental body or the pharmaceutical industry, recalibrate your bullshit detectors, and remember that cannabis has been safely used by humans for literally thousands of years.

[h/t to FARK]

Thursday, July 26, 2007

49% of the American Public: Dangerously Misguided

Someone please explain this country's weird militarism fetish:

49% - Say Military Strength Ensures Peace

Only about half of Americans (49%) now say they think that maintaining military strength is the best way to ensure peace - the lowest percentage in the 20-year history of Pew values surveys and down sharply from the 62% who said so in the summer of 2002, less than a year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. [READ THE REST]

Orwell would be appalled (though hardly surprised). Nearly half of Americans actually believe War is Peace. Incredible.

And what would the Founders think? Thomas Jefferson -- the principal author of the Declaration of Independence -- was vehemently opposed to standing armies:

  • "I do not like [in the new Federal Constitution] the omission of a Bill of Rights providing clearly and without the aid of sophisms for... protection against standing armies." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787. ME 6:387

  • "Standing armies [are] inconsistent with [a people's] freedom and subversive of their quiet." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Lord North's Proposition, 1775. Papers 1:231

  • "The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force." --Thomas Jefferson to Chandler Price, 1807. ME 11:160

[h/t to FARK]

UPDATE: Don't miss Justin Raimondo's amazing new piece on militarism as neocon religion (h/t to LRC).


Friday, July 20, 2007

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Been quiet here at DIM lately, and for good reason: I've been trotting the globe like Marco Polo for the last three weeks.

The itinerary included:
  • Eight days in London (6/29 - 7/7)
  • A very brief weekend in south Florida (7/13 - 7/15)
  • A four day excursion to lovely Seattle-Tacoma for work (7/16 - 7/19)
Here's a little photoblogging for your Friday work timewasting activities:




Look, kids! Big Ben! Parliament! And some fat bald guy ruining the view.




My adorable niece Olivia hams it up for the camera at Tra's mom's 60th birthday party. My own expression was remarkably similar after the 2nd mojito.




The view from my room at The MarQueen Hotel. Note the gray sky, which lends authenticity to the stereotypical Seattle tableau.


Good times were had by all. Details and more photos to come, and of course more bile shall soon flow over these pages!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Why People Hate the MSM: Neil Cavuto

Sorry, I don't mean to turn this blog into a 'Ron Paul on YouTube' site, honestly. I post the following video to illustrate why people hate the mainstream media and the way it presents the news, shapes discourse, and subtly slants the debate.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the insufferable Neil Cavuto, interviewing Ron Paul today:






OK, deep breaths.

Calm blue ocean...

OK, I'm good.

Seriously, Neil Cavuto: what is your motherfucking problem?

Let's catalog what's wrong with this "interview":

1. Cavuto takes up nearly 6 minutes of a presidential candidate's time to talk about the motherfucking Brown tax evasion case. Really, there aren't more pressing, bigger picture issues you'd like to inquire of a man running for president? Discussing the Brown situation is fine, I suppose, but how many times can Ron state his positions and then move on? Which leads us to...

2. Cavuto keeps trying to goad Ron into a "gotcha" moment by transparently and egregiously deploying a straw man: "So what you're saying is the Browns are like Gandhi, MLK, Jesus, and Buddha all rolled into one super-deity?" "So you're saying you're against taxes?" This is bullshit for two reasons: one, Cavuto's trying to get a soundbite he knows will play well with Ron's state-media opponents, and two, he frames the question in such a way as to marginalize and dismiss the very position he wants Ron to defend. My GOD, you're against...taxes? We can't have such a debate in this country! When the state plunders its citizens and calls it "taxation," we all agree that's legitimate, right?!? Civil disobedience? In this country? Madness! Sheer madness, I say!

3. If you invite a man to be a guest on your program, at least have enough respect, courtesy, and decency to allow the man to answer your motherfucking questions. Quit interrupting with your manufactured indignation and shallow understanding of the man's convictions. Shut the fuck up and let the man explain himself. You might learn something, asshole.

4. Either Cavuto has cultivated that smarmy, imperious, self-important persona for his program, or he really is that big a douchenozzle. Either way, he's the perfect exemplar of why many people are turning off the mainstream media: we're sick of being condescended to by pompous windbags in expensive suits. We're tired of the "debate" consisting of 6 minutes of badgering in a pitiful attempt to marginalize a good man. We've had it with a media that cares more about ratings than edifying; that focuses increasingly on the likes of Paris Hilton and TomKat instead of actually, you know, questioning things. It's pretty obvious the media dispenses information but not wisdom.

Anyway, back to Neil Cavuto: after watching him in this clip, I'm reminded of the scene from "Good Morning Vietnam" where Robin Williams tells JT Walsh:

"You know, you're in more dire need of a blowjob than any white man in history."

[h/t to LRC]

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Unfree Country Chronicles: "It's meant to be refreshing. It's not meant to be intoxicating."


The powers that be in this country say that "the terrists hate us for our freedom," so just to be safe, they've decided to do away with both:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (NEWS CENTER) -- You're not supposed to call them "Beer" popsicles, but government regulators say that's what they are. Now, their investigators are trying to stop an Alexandria restaurant and bar from introducing the adult treats to their patrons.

Chef Frank Morales makes the popsicles by cooking the beer with bits of fruit and a liquid that he calls his secret ingredient.

"It's meant to be refreshing," he says, "It's not meant to be intoxicating."

One restaurant-goer says, "I think it's a great idea! It's refreshing and tasty. You can't go wrong with it."

But Alexandria's Alcoholic Beverage Control regulators say there's plenty wrong. They say beer popsicles are illegal because beer must be served directly from its original container or right from the tap. [READ MORE]

Next in the regulators' crosshairs: beer-battered shrimp. The proprietor of this site may need to go into hiding.

[h/t to FARK]

Thursday, June 21, 2007

This Is Awesome

In a mere 1:31, this brilliant little spoof manages to skewer politicians, pharmaceutical ads, and the drug war with equal precision.

Incarcerex:





h/t to Reason Magazine via reddit

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Notes on the Republican Debate, Jackson Pollock-style

...and by that I mean rendered in haphazard splatters by a bald, and possibly drunk, proprietor. Let's get to it!

*The onstage arrangement of the candidates is pretty dang telling, don't you think? Could CNN be any more transparent about its rooting interests? Front and center: Rudy McRomney. Shunted off to the very edges -- as literal representations of the "fringe" candidates -- are Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul. You suck, CNN.

*Geez, I'm sure glad nobody thought to pose the healthcare questions to the only medical doctor on stage. That would be crazy!

*Duncan Hunter: please, just shut up. He delivers his answers like a junior varsity coach who takes himself and his job a little too seriously. And he had the audacity to suggest that he's more committed to cutting government than any other Republican candidate. Which left Ron Paul supporters feeling like this:





*Mike Huckabee is a fervent believer in creationism. This is weird, because it illustrates how oddball beliefs can become mainstream as long as they're steeped in religious convictions. Look at it this way: if a presidential candidate believed life on earth originated in some space alien's petri dish, and that magic mushrooms were put here deliberately to accelerate our evolution, he'd be labeled a crackpot and summarily dismissed. But are those ideas any more loopy than literal belief in the creation story? Just saying, one idea is acceptable to express in public, the other is not. Ours is a fucked up society.

*Although lacking in fireworks or even much intrigue, this debate was for me a watershed moment, because Rudy Giuliani demonstrated quite plainly why he is unfit to be president. He feels the need to answer EVERY QUESTION even when not given the floor; it's like he loves the sound of his own nasal lisp. I wish that smug, officious, narcissistic, attention-whoring megalomaniac would shut the fuck up already. It's crazy that the totalitarian Rudy has been polling as the frontrunner. The guy seeks to ratchet up the Iraq war, refuses to disavow the insane "nuclear option" against Iran, and intends to foist a national ID card on the people of this country. Utterly insane.



I feel the exact same way whenever you open your piehole, Rudy.


*I'm no supporter of Tom Tancredo's, but he did have the best line of the night: asked what role George W. Bush might play in a Tancredo administration, the latter relayed how his criticism of Dubya's immigration policy led an angry Karl Rove to warn him to "Never darken the door of the White House again." Tancredo said: "I would have to tell George Bush the exact same thing Karl Rove told me." Well played, sir.

*If you slapped a turtleneck and bad mustache on Mitt Romney, he'd look like a bad villain from a 70's cop drama, no? I don't trust that guy AT ALL.

*Winners: war, nuclear options, statism, Wolf Blitzer, 9/11, lightning, pandering, the media, banality.

*Losers: peace, freedom, liberty, Iran, immigration, honesty, puppies, sunshine, the American public.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ron Paul vs. the Establishment

Please invest 10 minutes of your day to watch this compilation of Ron Paul's responses from the other night's Republican presidential debate:





Tell me: what was so unreasonable or objectionable in anything he said?

I want you to watch Giuliani's reaction around the 6:09 mark: he's angry, yes, but I see something else in his eyes: fear. Benito Giuliani and the rest of the establishment is afraid of Ron Paul and the truth he speaks. If you don't believe me, check out the desperation spewing from the neocon spin machine:


Condemnation from these authoritarian creeps is the greatest possible endorsement of Dr. Paul's candidacy.

Randomly:

1. Reading the various smears and straw men being perpetrated against Dr. Paul reminds me of Mahatma Ghandi's famous quote:

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."

2. Don't miss two brilliant columns from LRC today:

Monday, April 30, 2007

why he's NOT the man

The other day my friend Adam sent an e-mail with the tantalizing subject header, "why he's the man." Who? WHO is the man? I had to know. But upon opening the e-mail I found only a link to an article about Dennis Kucinich filing impeachment articles against VP/asshole supreme Dick Cheney:

Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich filed articles of impeachment Tuesday against Vice President Dick Cheney, saying his action is driven by a desire to defend Americans' right "to have a government that is honest and peaceful." [BWAHAHAHAHA! --Ed.] [Read more]

Given the options, Kucinich may be the best of a dismal Democratic lot. He has been solid on Iraq and for mostly the right reasons. But he is "a commie" as Lew Rockwell points out and absolutely awful on economic matters. Kucinich's answer for every state-created mess is another government program. The man's faith in the state is unshakeable. Like most politicians, he has zero confidence in the market or in society's ability to manage itself. He's preferable to the soulless harpy Hillary but that's damning with faint praise.

There is only ONE presidential candidate who truly favors freedom and peace. You want to know who the man really is? Look no further than Ron Paul...