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While I was in Downtown Brooklyn yesterday, looking for the Dept. of Labor, I thought about ducking in somewhere for lunch, somewhere showing the US soccer game. I found such a place, ducked in, saw the 0-2 score, and went somewhere else for lunch.

I'm disappointed but I'm trying to temper that disappointment with a couple of reminders. 1) There's plenty of good soccer ahead (even if it isn't from the US) and 2) I wasn't expecting a US victory (but I had them to tie though)

Yet the rest of yesterday, and in this morning's paper, I've read some pretty devestated, and even downright angry, assessments of USA's performance and prospects. Angry, I suspect, because once again, these reporters have let themselves be Bode'd.

It can't just be us who continually buy into the hype. I'm sure other countries latch onto their international stars before they've proven themselves. But my guess is that, in soccer at least, other countries can allow themselves to be forgiving because they love the sport and the players all year, every year. But when soccer (or skiing) comes to the US quadrennially, we just assume that when people say we can win, that we just will. Then, when we don't, we feel cheated.

Then again, it isn't as if we are totally forgiving with the international failures in native sports. I suspect that the NHL's march towards irrelevance in the US began as early as the embarrassing 1998 Olympics. And people still aren't done bashing certain individuals over our repeated failure at international basketball. But in these cases, most fans have moved on and forgiven the perpetrators. I don't think it'll be as easy for american soccer. But instead of blaming the players (anyone can play badly on one day), can't we hold our own irrational expectations at least partly accountable. It wasn't irrational to believe that we could win, but rather that we necessarily would.

Still, it's early and I'm looking forward to the game with Italy (on ABC!) Saturday.

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While I was recounting Jimmy Kimmel's not-so-wild night, I forgot to mention someone else's crazy performance. George W. Bush had a big night too!

Big? Well, it didn't look like much on paper but he reached two milestones in one 20 minute address.

1) As Jim Lehrer pointed out, it was the first time in his presidency that he's given a speech like that one about domestic policy. Really? Go figure.
and 2) For the first time in 5 1/2 years, he got through a whole oratory without me heavily disagreeing with something he said on ideological terms.

I've been stressing two things about the immigration issue during this recent explosion in interest. That it's way more complicated than how most people I hear about seem to think it is. And that, most likely and because it's complicated, nothing will get done about it and we'll move on to our next crisis by August, forgetting all about immigration.

If I can criticize when people are dumb then I have to give credit when they appear to resist being dumb. So, in that spirit, I commend Bush for acknowledging the complexities of an issue for once, and for laying out at least an illustration of why the issue is complex. It sort of reminded me of when I stayed up all night so I could give my high school econ class a report about CBS.

However, on the second thing, I don't have my hopes up that this will be resolved, or even still remembered, by August. Bush is just too weak right now (and apparently too tired too) to influence anyone right now, which means the whole debate is still in the hands of congresspeople who are clearly unwilling to compromise on this issue at all. Which puts us right back at two conflicting proposals dying in committee and the American people becoming enthralled with the next big shiny object a few months from now.

Nice try George, but it's too little too late.

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Are the Catholics becoming Protestants?

The archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, denounced the book's controversial premise that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children, calling it "the stuff of imagination."

Stuff of imagination?? Is he accusing Dan Brown of writing a fictional book? There's no insult lower to be thrown at a novelist!

Christians are awfully sensitive about how people might perceive the veracity of a supernaturally-themed book. It's almost like they want us to start quibbling over every last detail that has ever been recorded and passed along as unadulterated truth.

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Occasionally, I think about things that don't involve baseball. The latest include:

I finally replaced my beltloop carabiner. Since I began employing this system 10 years ago, I've owned three of them and lost my keys zero times. The second carabiner's hinge (the one I used circa 2000 CE - yesterday) started warping a few months ago. It seemed about to succumb completely when I discovered that at some point while watching V for Vendetta, it had disengaged and deposited my keys in my seat. Luckily I noticed this before leaving the cinema completely, but I knew The Time had come. I found a place that sold them the only way I knew how = sheer luck. When in Boston, I bought the two predecessors at Eastern Mountain Sports, located half a block a way from my first dorm. Handy. Without this easy solution I was, ahem, in the woods. As it happened, my exploratory bus ride Saturday afternoon ended up going down Broadway past the Army/Navy store where I applied to work last summer. Well, THEY must certainly have carabiners. I purchased one heavy duty one and now have this one particular worry in my life sewn up for another 5+ years. Will I ever carry my keys around in a more grown-up fashion? What, and deprive people from always knowing when I approach?

I decided this afternoon to go three-for-three (does that count as a baseball reference? damn, I broke the seal already) and visit the Village a third straight evening. There was no sports bar visit, or birthday Belgian beer with Chris this time, just a long stroll. From 1st Avenue and 14th Street, I wended my way through Sherry's old neighborhood around Tompkins, through NoHo and Washington Square Park, over to the Hudson River and up back to 14th Street to take the train back home. I read recently somewhere that old-timers in the Village consider anything above 14th to be "Upstate New York". Traveling through, it's easy to see why this might be. Greenwich Village is huge and very unlike surrounding Manhattan. You can get anything you might need there (at a steep price, but if you live there, I'm assuming money is no object) and the rest of the island seems sort of bland after you leave it. It's possible that the Village might be the smallest microcosm of what seems to be a surprisingly provincial way New Yorkers have of looking at things. That is, why should I care what goes on in the rest of the borough/city/country/world? I have everything I need right here. This is a gross overgeneralization of course, but I have seen it manifest in some natives I meet. The sentiment that one borough or another is not worth the time to even visit seems to be a common one, and not just in jest.

Not completely unrelatedly, New Yorkers like to herald the city's diversity, but a report earlier this week demonstrated that the city is the third most segregated in the country, behind Gary, Indiana and Detroit according to the Census' Dissimilarity Index. I guess you have to have different races to even have a D.I. but that still smells like a big upset. I, for one, am doing my part to better NYC's score in this area. At least, that's what I will now say if ever confronted to get out of their neighborhood.

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"Be angry at us, and die of this anger." - Iranian President, Ringo Starr

I'm starting to think that some people actually have a perfect grasp of English but pervert it on purpose just to get a rise out of us. Saying something like that seems to be more provocative than saying, "If you persist in threatening aggressive actions against us, your accountability for the consequences will be measured in the casualties of your citizens."

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I'm really into this new Gospel of Judas thing that's being displayed and generally made into a hullabaloo right now.

It's interesting to me because I've always been confused as to what the essential difference between certain old documents and other old documents; why some are considered "revealed" texts and others are just blasphemes. I'm no theologian (on purpose) so this split is only curious to me.

Also, some christian scholars are already questioning the conclusions that this new Gospel suggests, namely that Jesus encouraged Judas to turn him in. One says, "Well, it would mean among other things that Jesus had some kind of death wish, for a start. And it would raise some questions about his character....Some would find that troubling."

I mean, even when I was christian by default, it always seemed odd that we had such strong feelings about the slow death of Jesus. Isn't that sort of like feeling uneasy about the car crash that injured your dad but introduced him to your mom?

(Yes, I probably could have thought of an analogy that was unrelated to Back to the Future, but why?)

I guess it's fine to have a gut reaction against betrayal (just like you might not want to hear about your parent almost dying) but if you already know the story has a happy ending, why get uptight about the narrative?

It makes sense that Jesus would have encouraged Judas to betray him. He could have punched Biff out himself, but he needed Judas to do it, to complete the script. (Okay, I promise, that is the last time I will do that.) Seems like Judas was doing christians a favor there. Where would they be if Jesus had grown old and his leper-curing skills had eroded? Nobody would put Fat Jesus on a postage stamp either. He had to go out with the biggest bang the Current Era would provide - being nailed up for public reprisal.

I doubt the christian straight-edgers would embrace this view, despite it not necessarily being at odds with their supposedly core beliefs. I don't think it's unreasable to accept that Jesus knew he was supposed to be dying for their sins.

I bet he even told people what his birthday wish was.

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The interesting thing about thymophthalein is its value in temporarily feigning attentiveness. If one wishes to maintain the appearance of obligation, an application of alcohol is needed to dissolve the thymophthalein. This solution will create the pretense that the things one is experiencing are being dutifully recorded, when in fact very few of the events will be committed to memory by the time the alcohol is gone. This procedure can be helpful when one has the expectation that certain conditions may be unavoidable as well as injurious if recalled at a later time.

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I shouldn't be surprised, but apparently one of the biggest jokes told at last year's State of the Union Address was actually taken seriously.

Why, why, why are we trying to go to live on the moon? The suggestion to have a manned base there was clearly a toss-off by Bush to assuage doubts that he has any interest in scientific endeavours. As an actual mission, it's next to useless. The moon might be a great place to visit, drive the Rover around, maybe play a little pitch-n-putt, prove we're smarter than the Russians, but it's no place to live.

The kicker is that this is being passed off as a stepping stone to get to Mars. Seems to me that the best way to get to Mars would be to work on the means to get there first, then figure out how to live there. I'm sure we could learn something from setting up a starter-home on the Moon. We could see how many people die in the first year and then try to improve on that. But without feasible transportation to Mars first, this would just be a waste of lives and money on the Moon.

Not only that, but if we were to travel to Mars, the notion that we'd first have to stop off at the Moon on the same trip is pretty ridiculous. So we waste all that fuel matching Earth's escape velocity and then we STOP? This isn't exactly a "get out and stretch the legs" break either. The moon is 250,000 miles away from us. That is 0.7% the distance to Mars when Mars is at its absolute closest to us. Rest up guys, only 139 times as far to go!

Going to Mars - all for it. The moon is just our younger, runtier brother. Close enough to distract us and occasionally make us want to hit it; far enough away not to repay the money we gave it.

Speaking of Mars, it got it's violent name for it's blood-colored appearance and Venus was named for supposedly being so beautiful, veiled under clouds. Mars can keep its name, whatever. But Venus being some sort of epitome of celestial beauty has been surpassed several times over with deep-space telescope technology. I mean, is Venus really all that when we now know about the Horsehead nebula for example? Adding injury to insult, we've known for a while that it isn't even close to inhabitable. For anything! Even being optimistic about future Earth-based technologies, Venus would be the Terraformer's definition of "Money Pit".

So it needs a new name. In size and material composition, it's been sometimes referred to as our twin. But the lead-melting heat and sulfuric acid rain suggests one a little more on the snips and snails side of the equation.

How about Bad Ash? Flexo?

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Do you like Baseball? Do you have some time to kill? Don't say I didn't warn youCollapse )

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You know how they say the First Amendment exists to protect not the speech that we like most, but the speech that we like the least? I think we finally found a winner.

I really want to understand what would compel these people to think this is a smart thing to do. They are certainly entitled to think and say what they like. But c'mon, even after you win the court battle, that's pretty much exactly what term Pyrrhic victory was coined to describe. Sure, you've demonstrated your right to say what you believe, but at the cost of letting the entire country know that you are a moron. Is any press really good press?

Seriously, pissing off both PFLAG and the Gold Star Moms at the same time is a special kind of idiocy.
I wonder if they spend their free time torturing 'coon hounds and baby seals. Or confiscating people's rifles and pot. Or throwing the homeless in jail and then reading Malcolm X to them. Any of those things would make as much sense, in public relations terms.

Or maybe their goal is to bring this divided, partisan country together. Yeah, they should definitely use that.

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