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.


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.