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Monday, September 12, 2005

Chalk up two for the Giants

The Belfast Giants hockey team have been adopted in our house as the unofficial hockey team of summer. Last night they won their second game 2-1 OT. What's remarkable about this is the system the fans have of posting the game to the Internet.

Because the game is neither on TV, the Internet or the radio, the fans at the away games post results to their cells. In one such post yesterday, they described the first fight of the game as resembling two old women having at it with their handbags. In another, they described the game being delayed as home-town fans and visiting fans fought over pork sandwiches.

That's why sports writing is so fun. There is so much imagery.

There's only 13 days till preseason. Drop the puck already.

Compassion in action

I'm not a citizen of Louisiana. I can't hold the mayor or the governor responsible for their actions. I can hold the President of the United States responsible. And, to the extent he is responsible, I want to hold him to it.

He appointed Mike Brown to run FEMA. And it was Mr. Bush who decided to fly to San Diego and points west to push other agendas, rather than personally view the devastation.

Further, FEMA was placed under the control of the Department of Homeland Security so that there could be coordinated effort to ameliorate disasters, whether caused by natural causes or foreign attack. It has been exactly four years and a day since our nation was attacked. Given the response of FEMA, can anyone look at the tragedy that continued for days and say they feel safer today than when FEMA was organized outside of the Dept. of Homeland Security?

If FEMA cannot deal effectively with a disaster that it knew about days beforehand, that it had plans to deal with for years beforehand, how will it deal with the inevitable terrorist attack which will happen god knows where?

This President was reelected just months ago on a platform of being a war president. That he took charge and dealt with the terror threat. "We must deal with threats before they hurt the American people again." All that sounds very empty now.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

45 to 10. It's a money game

I’ll never write much about football. I never cared for the sport as a spectator and never played it.

I spend my few forays into the sport at the tailgate. A rum and Coke or a gin and tonic is my preferred lubricant. God knows that a good football game can quickly ruin a mediocre conversation.

But in my view, that’s the point of football, it’s a social sport, you talk, a lot, while nothing much happens.

Nevertheless, into uncharted waters we go today, as my Eastern Illinois University Panthers were trounced yesterday by the Brigham Young University Cougars. The Division I Cougars took an early lead with two touchdowns. Our offensive line was out-weighed 50 pounds on average by their defensive line. The Panthers simply couldn’t make headway against the larger Utah opposition.

That put pressure on the Eastern defense, which was fighting to hold narrow strips of Panther turf. It was a money game. And as I was watching I was wondering what the Cougars were getting out of it?

Only three minutes into the game, the answer came, BYU had a streak of 11 games without a touchdown, broken by Eastern allowing one. Hmmn… Schools pay money to allow their teams to score?

Yep, if you don’t know much about college football, you should know this, big schools pay smaller opponents money to beat the small school senseless.

Okay, let’s not worry about that. EIU finally managed to get on the scoreboard. I thought that was a victory. And, I discovered something cool about replays of the game on the BYU television network, they cut all the stuff I hate about football out.

They also cut out the pictures of the cheerleaders being held aloft. (Sigh! I've linked to an EIU cheerleader for a great pix of these athletes in action).

The television shows a play, allows some commentary, cuts the huddle and close-ups of the bench out of the replay, and goes to the next play. Excellent. I couldn’t do better with my TiVo. Be gone earnest coaches. Go away bench warming freshmen. Let’s just watch football action with no nonsense.

Time outs? Gone! Commercial breaks? No more! This could make the game tolerable to a person like me.

The EIU teams have historically been unable to find a punter. This year they field senior Tom Schofield, who kicks like a rugby player. He was uneven, but got a lot of practice. By the end of the match, he was causing problems for the Cougars.

A sophomore, Mike Donato, led a line that was simply out-classed by the Division I Cougars. I think putting any points on the board was a great accomplishment for the EIU Quarterback. It should be exciting this year and next as the walk-on likes the ground game.

Eastern also fields a line of defense men with lots of experience. They were able to read the Cougars and slow them, especially in the third quarter. Some noted returning players for EIU include Vincent Webb Jr., Jermaine Mobley and Ryan Voss. All juniors.

The team is led by 19-year coach Bob Spoo. Spoo has been honored over the years for his coaching. His teams have won their conference championship, shared one year, in three of his 19 years at the helm, twice since 2001.

Final score BYU 45, EIU 10.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

No excuses

I don’t want this blog to bog down in politics. God knows there is enough hot air from both sides about politics on the Internet.

But, it is next to impossible to stand by and listen to the ‘blame the victim’ choir that started this week. The images and thoughts of people such as Oliphant and Jon Stewart are capturing the media spin of the right wing apologists. Here is one example, blaming the victims for not leaving by Robert Tracinski in a tract called The Intellectual Activist. "The reason… that the events there make no sense (is) if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster…But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster… The man-made disaster is the welfare state…"

Although Tracinski goes on to note that 25 percent of the city remained after the initial evacuation, he goes on to say "a large number of those who remained were from the city's public housing projects." And that, "the city had no plan for evacuating all of the prisoners in the city's jails—so they just let many of them loose. I have been searching for news reports on this last story, but I have not been able to confirm it."

I know what it’s called when you print something that is not confirmed. It’s called Bullshit.
Despite the fact Tracinski can’t confirm this last detail, it becomes a centerpiece for the rest of his apology. When your argument rests on a foundation of bullshit, it is itself contaminated.

Call it what you will.

Is the mayor of New Orleans responsible? Yes. Is the governor of Louisiana responsible? Sure. Is the president responsible? Yes. I can’t think of anyone else who has shrugged his personal responsibility more. But I can’t find the number of apologists standing up for Mayor C. Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco that we see excusing the inept presidency of Mr. Bush.

As you know, I’m unemployed at the moment. Nevertheless, there are people who are in greater need than I am. I’m going to try to give $100 to the relief effort through the American Red Cross. I hope you join me.

No excuses.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

It's not the Move and it's not the Moon

Kudos to Slappy the Squirrel of the wolfkeeper web site for nailing the identity of the mystery man in the HBO series the Entourage. I first discussed this issue on August 24. First correctly identified by Timmy as the BluBlocker guy, Skippy has named him as Dr. Geek. Skippy, a true hockey god, has spoken.

In other hockey news, there is hockey in Europe already. And, in a pre-season game, I'm told the first bench-clearing brawl of the new season occurred in Sheffield, England.

Sorry, I'm not for hire

I’m unemployed. It’s the first time in nine years. I’d been operating a small business in the Chicago Central Business District. Times have gotten tough over the last few years. Although I’ve gained clients, income has decreased. I figure the company has $36,000 less revenue than just a few years ago.

The tax returns seem to show that too. So, although the work has increased, the return has decreased. Early in the year, I decided to pack it all in.

The decision to close was like acknowledging a little death. An idea I’d had was dead. Aspirations are dying all the time in your middle years. I’ll never hike the Yukon. I won’t retire early. Mountain biking? Extensive international travel? Not in this life.

The funny thing about it is, people are asking how I feel. I feel relieved. I felt much the same when my father died a few years ago. Relief that the pain was over for him. It feels over for me. I’ll have to complete the tax forms and unemployment filings for the corporation again this year. It looks as though there are some more checks to cut, but there’s money in the bank.

And, I feel free. People also ask what I’m doing next. Right now, I’m not certain. But, probably more of the same. This time someone else can worry about the tax forms, making payroll and the other problems. I still feel free.