Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Despite the fact that there have not been any peg-legged, eye patch wearing, puffy shirted sea salts with parrots on their shoulders terrorizing the seas for the past 200+ years, piracy never went away. And though you may not realize it, the cost of piracy is tremendous. Some estimates place as much as a 16 billion dollar yearly price tag on piracy. That's lost cargo, ship damage, insurance costs, etc.. I'm sure quite a bit of that cost gets placed on the consumer.
In some spots piracy is actually flourishing. Like the Somali coast, which has been experiencing a massive increase in piracy. They've gotten so brazen and well-armed that a tanker containing 30+ Soviet era T-72 main battle tanks was just recently seized by 40 to 50 pirates. They're demanding $20 million for the release of the ship. They won't get it, and they won't get the ship to port either, because there's a US destroyer (among other warships of various nationalities) waiting to send them to Davey Jones' Locker the second they make a break.
The French have also recently been forced to take notice of the problem plaguing the Somali coast. In April they had some of their commandos (who are really quite proficient, contrary to popular belief) open a can of whoop derriere on some Somali pirates who had seized a boat carrying French tourists.
1) Scared Of Santa: Scenes Of Terror In Toyland. Denise Joyce and Nancy Watkins have assembled 274 pages worth of pictures featuring terrified, screaming, crying children sitting on Santa's lap. It's a picture book (very little reading involved for those of you who are not avid readers) with laughs on any random page you open to and would thus make an especially great addition to any bathroom magazine/book rack. It will be released October 14th.
2) Brocabulary: The New Man-I-Festo Of Dude Talk. Daniel Maurer's compilation of guy phrasing is admittedly kind of funny but it's also sort of sad in the way it highlights an annoying and possibly dangerous trend in society. You see a great deal of this stuff now. The Man Show, Man Rules beer commercials, etc.. There was a time when men aspired to marry and have a family, be successful at work, and be a solid citizen. Not so today. Nowadays men are encouraged to extend their adolescence, and all the bad form that accompanies it, for as long as possible. A great article describing this trend can be found here. Anyway, you'll have a laugh over words like "holaroids" (naughty pictures of women), "mammouflage" (something that makes it hard to gauge the size of a girl's boobs), and "cock bottom" (the low point of your sexual career), but you might - if you're an old-fashioned guy like me - ultimately find this a bit childish.
3) Never Shower In A Thunderstorm: Surprising Facts And Misleading Myths About Our Health And The World We Live In. I absolutely love this one. It's a book you will burn through in no time at all. New York Times columnist Anahad O'Connor has put together a compilation of answers to many of the questions we've all asked and worried about. Will shaving make your hair grow back thicker? No! That's an old wives' tale. Does alcohol really kill brain cells? No, thank God, or I'd be long dead by now. Can you fight off a shark by punching it in the nose? Not really. There's over 200 pages of this sort of stuff. Highly recommended.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I agree with Olney's view that the Yankees' failure to develop players combined with their signing of expensive free agents has led to the mess we're in. That mess being no October baseball. What an awful feeling. Is this what it's like to Pittsburgh Pirates fan?
Monday, September 22, 2008
I love the arena this event takes place in. It seems more like a gigantic lean-to than any sort of proper sports venue. I wouldn't sneeze or cough too hard if I were standing next to it for fear of bringing the whole thing down. Anyway, the video you just saw made it seem like it's all fun and giggles. It isn't always. If you'd like to see about 9 minutes of the bull winning, big time, click here. Let me warn you first that watching a bull trample and gore somebody is an exceptionally awful thing, so don't click the link if something like that, or techno music soundtracks, will upset you.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
And then this whole nonsense of, "Ladies and gentlemen, Roger Maris' son, Randy Maris! Randy Maris." It's crazy. What's with the need to cart out the family members of deceased players?
And and, watching the real old-timers run out onto the field is nerve-wracking because they look very unsteady on their feet.
Just please play the effin' game already. These Yankee ceremonies have gotten completely out of hand.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
But doesn't it seem like people are getting too worked up about this? I'm a lifelong Yankee fan and I'll be the first to admit the Stadium was a bit, well, not so good. It was filthy, it stunk, and your feet would get stuck to the floor if they set in one place for too long. The beer from the upper deck canteen guys tasted like an unbelievably foul perversion of the brewing process. The big bat was ugly. And to top it off, the Yankees were (and will continue to be) located in a dire neighborhood.
I thought the Stadium actually lacked character, especially those lifeless blue padded outfield walls that destroyed the original uniqueness of left center field. Those monuments were in play at one time!The Stadium was special because of the team, and for not much else. My mom used to go back in the 40's and 50's, before the Stadium got cookie-cuttered in the 70's, and she always felt the Stadium was ruined after the rebuild. Anyway, it's all a moot point because the financial crisis caused by people taking mortgages they couldn't pay, combined with the astronomical ticket prices the Yankees are asking means none of us will ever step foot in the new Stadium.
Still, I've got just a ton of great memories of all the games I watched there.
The one thing I hope the Yankees leave behind is the Bob Sheppard announcement impersonations by Jim Hall. He's Sheppard's backup as the Yankee Stadium announcer, and since Sheppard has been sick for quite a while, it's all Hall all the time. Hall, it seems, intentionally tries to sound like Sheppard, and it's very irritating to me because he doesn't. Please, please use your own voice!
Oh, and Pavano is 4-1. I am stunned.
United head to Stamford Bridge tomorrow to take on Chelsea! FSC, 9:00 AM ET.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Speaking of the match, just my two cents here but Paul Scholes, England international, masterful midfielder, and noted ginger, should probably not start this match. Chelsea's midfield is just too strong and fast. Is it just me or does Scholes seem to be losing a step or two? Oh, right, it is just me - nobody else reads this. Anyway, he's an all-time great but I think he should start with the Claude Makelele type appearance schedule.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Recently though, NUFC's manager, and former perm enthusiast, Kevin Keeganbailed out on the team (not the first time that has happened, it must be noted) due to his inability to control player transfers. For both his playing and coaching exploits, Keegan is revered as a sort of demigod up in Newcastle - the Geordie Messiah is his nickname - and when he walked out the fans turned quite savagely on Mike Ashley. At this weekend's past match, there were widespread and in many cases very nasty demonstrations against Ashley. In a nutshell, Mike Ashley committed two grave errors in the fans' eyes. He chased out one of their heroes and he didn't spend enough money to bring in top notch players. Both points are quite debatable but the end result of the fans' actions has proven to be amazing. Mike Ashley is putting the team up for sale. From his recent statement:
I have the interests of Newcastle United at heart. I have listened to you. You want me out. That is what I am now trying to do, but it won’t happen overnight and it may not happen at all if a buyer does not come in.
You don’t need to demonstrate against me again because I have got the message. Any further action will only have an adverse effect on the team. As fans of Newcastle United you need to spend your energy getting behind, not me, but the players who need your support.
Monday, September 15, 2008
In his honor, view this oddly Syd Barrett-less clip of Pink Floyd performing See Emily Play.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
My second favorite Italian team - Roma - suffered an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to Palermo. Made all the more embarrassing because Palermo is kitted out in this -
Yes. It's pink! PINK! How can they go out onto the pitch like that? Roma may have the best jersey in all of soccer - not the sponsor stuff, but the logo of Romulus and Remus suckling on the She Wolf - and they lose to guys in pink jerseys.
Finally, the Yankees' season may be over but this kid Phil Coke looks great, and he had another lights out performance yesterday. He's yet to give up a run in seven relief innings. Excellent stuff, and I hope he's the real deal. But why, oh WHY, are the Yankees not allowing Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy to get some big league experience considering the season has, for all intents and purposes, been over for weeks? Why do they keep putting Ponson and Pavano out there? So what if Hughes and Kennedy get pounded? Who cares? Let them get some experience.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
But sometimes soccer can help. This is an amazing story of how Mauro Raffaelli, an Italian psychiatrist, has used soccer to successfully help schizophrenics in their struggle for normalcy. Here's a quote:
A really nice story and continued success to the folks that do this.
Sandro was a perfectly ordinary, rather handsome young Italian man. He was working as a bodyguard for the Italian president. But the stress of carrying a gun, and worrying about assassination attempts, catalysed a latent psychosis in Alessandro. Sandro says: "I like to think that my mum was my first medication. I guess football was my second. Football worked for me because it helped me escape the prison of madness... The weird thing is, the opposite team became the voices in my head, they embodied the voices, and that helped me. It made them real. And then I could cope."
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Brother, I come, and stand beside thy tomb
To give thee the death-offering of the grave,
To call thee, vainly, dumb in Hades' gloom.
Oh, weary is the fortune that bereft me,
I give or gave our fathers long ago
The sad fraternal duty that is left me,
The dreary gifts unto the shades below.
Accept them, dewy with a brother's tears;
Accept the sorrow that they cannot tell,
And through the long eternity of years,
Brother, farewell, for ever fare thee well!
-Catullus, Carmen CI, as translated by Andrew Lang
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
OK, welcome back. See what I mean? I quote from their site:
Are you currently homeless and would like to play in the Melbourne 2008 Homeless World Cup? Contact your team directly.
Was that line written in the expectation that even a single person reading it would say, "Why, yes, I am a homeless soccer player, and a member of a homeless soccer team. Thank goodness I came across this site while surfing the internet."
Good reader (both of you), I ask this - does a soccer tournament for homeless people (in easily accessible Australia, no less) seem like a sensible way to spend money fighting the very real, very serious problem of homelessness? Does it in any way seem like playing in this tournament should be anywhere near the top of the priority list for people suffering through what must be an unimaginably awful and degrading fate. Personally, I would put things like housing, a job, and hygiene higher on my list than "play in homeless soccer tournament".
And it seems that money is indeed being spent on this. Nike, UEFA, The U.N., Real Madrid, and Manchester United are listed as sponsors of this tournament. Now what if the money spent on funding a soccer tournament were applied to a different method of helping the homeless. What if they spent that money on . . . (are you sitting?) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . actual HOUSING for the homeless! By homelessworldcup.org's own admission, only 44% of the participants in the 2006 Homeless World Cup have "improved their housing situation". 44%? What the fuck! Is this organization not even housing all the players who participate? Is it "play a few games and then back to your refrigerator box, you slob"?
This group has lots of famous supporters. Eric Cantona, Didier Drogba, Rio Ferdinand, Luis Figo, Ringo Starr. Wait a minute. Ringo Starr? The same Ringo Starr who VH1.com lists as having been worth $111 million in 2000 supports this group? And 56% of the players from the last tournament still don't have improved housing? On the tournament site Ringo is quoted as saying, "Get into the Homeless World Cup. Participate in sport changing the world." Sport changing the world? What about using some of that money to rent these people an apartment or two. Oh, goodness no, sorry. That won't work. Give the homeless guy a soccer ball instead. The pride of knowing he participated in this tournament will keep him warm at night when he's sleeping in a garbage can.
The whole World Cup process seems really overdone. It's 2008 and they're playing qualifying for matches for a 2010 tournament? It's just so silly.
It's good and it's bad. It's good because it will provide a shield against Iranian missile systems and greatly diminish their menace. It's bad because we'd be giving this extremely sophisticated hardware to a country that is officially opposed to the very existence of one of our strongest allies - Israel, the likely target of a full-scale Iranian missile attack. And if you're like me then you'd be worried that these things would be parked too close to Iran without our direct protection. You'd also need to go potty. So excuse me, please.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
And for some reason that reminded me of a book I read recently entitled Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius Of Dutch Football by David Winner. It's a really well done overview of the history, style, and mixed results of Dutch football (calcio, soccer, etc). In it the author explores how such a small nation (Wikipedia says their total population is under 17,000,000) consistently produces such outrageously gifted yet frequently flawed players. Johann Cruyff is the undisputed king of Dutch soccer - almost as important to Dutch society as a whole as he was to Dutch football - and he figures heavily in this book. But it's hard to understand just how good a player was through reading along. So without further ado, here's a bit of Cruyff embarrassing defenses worldwide.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
I have just a quick thought on this. If you need a large print sign to inform you that the nachos and (what passes for) cheese at Yankee Stadium is not a healthy food choice, or if you're so lost that you are unaware of just how incredibly unhealthy a hot dog is, then you shouldn't be allowed to go to a Yankee game. Or anywhere. Stay at home. You're fucking up the world for everybody else.
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On another Yankee note, famed sportswriter and facial hair enthusiast George Kimball, in his America At Large column in The Irish Times, laments the 7th inning God Bless America ceremony that takes place at every Yankee home game. Here's his article, and here's what I find fascinating about it. I quote,
"over the years I've come to regard the drum roll for God Bless America at Yankee Stadium as the signal to head outside for a smoke break."
Kimball doesn't really make any attempt in this article to hide his political leanings or his disdain for the views and practices found on the other side of his hill. He doesn't like what he views as the crudely enforced patriotism at Yankee Stadium, or how the Republican Party and the "pro-Iraq lobby" have co-opted both the song and Ronan Tynan (huh?), the Irish tenor who sometimes signs the song at Yankee Stadium. And so on. He doesn't seem to want that whole scene forced on him.
That's fine. It's America, and as an American George Kimball's right to express those views is still well and justly protected. Yet he seems to have no problem with smoking at Yankee Stadium. That must be OK because it suits him, despite the fact it's a legal no no. And despite the fact that many people at Yankee Stadium may not wish to smell or be exposed to the smoke from his cigarette.
So here's to you, George Kimball. You don't like having views and practices you disagree with forced upon you, and you're going to smoke a cigarette in a no smoking area to prove it.
Teapot, this is Kettle. Kettle, this is Teapot.
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No league footie this weekend. The Yanks were humiliated by lowly Seattle last night. But the NFL is back. My NY football Giants might have won their first game, but I'm worried how they'll finish without the services of the great Osi Umenyiora.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Read the story of his crash and incredible survival here.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Also at Spiegel Online, this fantastic article on new wind turbines that could revolutionize the enrgy industry.
And finally, now that it doesn't much matter, the Yankees are spanking first place Tampa Bay.
Regarding the origin of the word "soccer", see here - http://www.usembassy.org.uk/rss/transcripts/worldcup2006a.html
- and here -
Monday, September 1, 2008
Abu Dhabi is part of the United Arab Emirates, and incredibly, you cannot enter the UAE with an Israeli passport. You will be denied entry. In fact, I've read a few articles that suggest it may be that you can't even enter the UAE if you're passport has been stamped in Israel. Why do I bring this up? Because before the new owner came in, Manchester City signed Chelsea defender Tal Ben Haim - an Israeli national. He's a man who will not be permitted to enter the UAE, home country of his team's owner, simply because he is an Israeli.
So how do you feel today if you're Tal Ben Haim? I imagine you'd be rightfully upset and already preparing your transfer request.
Dim i tar
Ber ba tov
He's got his own
Pers'nal hair dress er