Anything from current events, campaign finance reform, sports (especially baseball), corporate/political/legal ethics, pop culture, confessions of a recovering comic book addict, and probably some overly indulgent discourses about my 3-year old daughter. E-Mail: sardonicviews -at-
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Saturday, January 11, 2003

So, Let's Party

Like others, I cheered the news that a couple drinks a day are actually beneficial (shame though, that it couldn't be a few more). Here's a good op-ed from the WSJ (supscription required) expressing more than just the clinical view from Lionel Tiger, professor of anthropology at Rutgers University. :

Why does a society provide good news with a grim face? No one appears to be the Minister of Fun around here because no one seems allowed to whoop with pleasure when a rather cheerful finding is published in the New England Journal of Medicine to the effect that moderate but relatively frequent drinking can reduce the risk of heart attack.

This is old stuff to any grown-up. There is no controversy about the fact that moderate consumption of alcohol has a benign impact on heart health. Dry counties have more heart trouble than wet. No one quite knows precisely why though there are many plausible biochemical theories. What no one seems to emphasize is that drinking is fun because it is usually done with other people, which people like. Alcohol is the most effective and widespread social drug in the world, equaled only by food as a facilitator for social communication. So the fact that sharing alcohol has health benefits should be neither a surprise nor a stimulus only for earnest sermons about the dangers of drink.

Obviously don't drink and drive or operate a crane or land a space capsule or do an energy company audit after two martinis. Of course don't become a boozer. But the widely pervasive role of alcohol over the planet's time and geography almost demands that we begin to appreciate not just its biochemical impact on the ticker but its ability to embed people in social situations which we know are, in themselves, Good For Your Health. There is evidence that ungulates such as deer digest their food better when they consume it in a herd than alone. When I mentioned this arcane fact to a cat-owner I was told that the animal refused to dine unless its human companion was by her side. And while lonely drinkers are at risk, especially home in their bedsitters, more often than not the bartender becomes their surrogate community; and what has been called "the third place," neither work nor home, is often a bar in which a tipple soothes the cares of the day and perhaps colors the promise of the night.

Next round's on me.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Reality TV

I've avoided it. I will keep on avoiding it (ok, the wife has me hooked on Trading Spaces and Changing Rooms, but that's as far as it goes), and even a friend who is a finalist for one of the shows will not take me to it. Thank god for Bill Simmons, who distills it and makes it a great part of his lead in to the NFL Playoffs

His opening paragraph on children and infants being taken to movies needs honorable mention:

My most amazing moment of the weekend happened during a 9:45pm Hollywood screening of "Gangs of New York," when a man strolled into the theater with his 10-year-old son and young baby. Here's a violent R-rated movie that ends at 12:45 in the morning, and this moron thinks it's a good idea to bring his children. People in the theater were practically recoiling in horror. I can only guess that the baby's name was "Nochance."

Some lingering questions: Can't all movie theaters be equipped with child welfare workers that can immediately take these children away from their parents? And if not, at the very least, shouldn't it be illegal to bring a baby into an R-rated movie? Shouldn't babies be barred from movie theaters in general? Would this be too hard? The whole thing shakes my faith in society. It really does.

Let me add a hearty "amen." Not just as a guy who has, without fail, felt raw hatred and annoyance to those who would be that much of an a**hole and selfish jerk to bring a baby to a movie to disrupt it for everyone else. But also as the father of a six month old who hasn't even been to a movie since Episode II for the simple reasons that what I want to see wouldn't be for a kid and I'm not that kind of an a**hole.

Supreme Court and Commercial Speech

While not a surprise, it is good news that the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case

The United States Supreme Court today agreed to review an unprecedented California state court ruling, which effectively eliminates First Amendment protection for companies that speak out on public issues.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Nike v. Kasky may help to clarify whether a company's public statements about its operations are entitled to the same constitutional protections that its critics enjoy.

Last May, the California Supreme Court held that because a company's public statements about its operations might persuade consumers to buy its products, those statements must be treated as run-of-the-mill advertising, thereby warranting only limited constitutional protection as "commercial speech."

In urging the Court to take the case because of the significant First Amendment implications, Nike was joined by a diverse group of public interest organizations, businesses, media outlets, and various associations including The New York Times Co., Pfizer, CNN, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

It still boggled my mind that the California Supreme Court decided the case the way it did.

Convention Center Manuverings

The plans to build a new Cleveland Convention Center continue, as the pols and business leaders first try to figure out where the hell to build it.

Business leaders will tell Mayor Jane Campbell by the end of the month where a new convention center should be built - touching off a 10-month push to determine how to pay for it and persuade voters to OK the project.

A dozen of the city's top political, civic and corporate leaders met yesterday morning to discuss replacing the existing convention center with one that could cost a half-billion dollars.

Campbell told members of two prominent business groups - Cleveland Tomorrow and the Greater Cleveland Growth Association - to finish studying three downtown sites and recommend which is best. The location will determine the cost and the required financing package, she said.

I'll bet a Jackson with anyone that after they make their recommendation, at least 2 city council members oppose the location (at least until their ward gets some special gifts).

Of course, there is still that niggling problem of paying for it, i.e., getting the county voters to agree to be taxed for something that won't do them much good.

Cuyahoga County officials, meanwhile, are ready to clear the way for a tax issue on the November ballot to raise money for a new convention center.

County commissioners originally planned to ask voters in November to renew, or possibly increase, a countywide property tax for health and human services.

But to avoid placing two tax issues on the same ballot, the commissioners could move the health-and-human-services tax to the May ballot.

"It looks like the levy is going to have to go in May," Commissioner Jimmy Dimora said yesterday.

The move would be costly. Since the levy would be the only issue on the May ballot in several communities, the county would have to pay up to $1.3 million for polling stations to be opened and workers to oversee voting.

Good allocation of resources. When the city and county are facing cuts and deficits in the budget. So why? Well, give the PD credit for admitting why now.

None of the politicians involved face re-election, which means they don't have to worry about pushing for a new tax while also trying to keep their jobs.

On Sunday, they estimated the plan with goodies for the city and rest of the county could double the estimated cost of the total bill from $500 million to $1 billion. Friday, there is already another County Commissioner member talking about tacking another project on.

Officials at yesterday's meeting did not discuss how much money they would need, or what kind of tax proposal would appear on the November ballot. But many agree that the proposal should include millions of dollars for other projects, in part to boost its chances of passing.

Cleveland City Council President Frank Jackson has said he wants $25 million a year, for 10 years, to pay for neighborhood development projects.

He would also support a similar pot of money for suburban projects.

County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones said yesterday that he wants money to support emerging industries, such as fuel-cell technology and biotechnology, and to support museums, theaters and other cultural institutions.

"Then we'll have the money to do what we need to do in the community to stop the hemorrhaging of job loss and population loss," he said.

Right . By increasing the tax on the population, they'll want to live in Cuyahoga County. No way that might encourage them to seek neighboring counties that have a much lower tax base.

Keep tacking on wishes, it will be for the best. As for the business groups Cleveland Tomorrow and the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, here are some other views on them.

Seeing Red

I nearly sputtered coffee over the keyboard this morning. Scanning the headlines, this one jolted me:
Europeans Seek to Rein in American War Machine

Of course it was from Reuters.

"American War Machine?" What the hell? The article strains to make it seem that the UN weapons inspection revealed nothing and that there is nothing to find. It's only concession to the UN inspectors saying that there were problems was

Chief inspector Hans Blix told the Security Council Iraq had "failed to answer a great many questions."

As for the European struggle to control the cowboy-like US, the article can only quote two EU bureaucrats and the German ambassador to the UN as opposing military action. Hardly a united, or even much of a divided front.

Thursday, January 09, 2003


Project Greenlight 2 is near to announce whose screenplay will be made into a movie and who will direct. Imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail from a friend of mine, Howard Walper:

As most of you know, my buddy Steve and I are in the Top 10 of the Project Greenlight screenwriting contest. One of the things we needed to do to qualify for the last round of this contest was to produce a 3-minute video pitching ourselves and our story. The video has been posted on the PGL site. If you would like to check us out (along with our competition) visit: we are the last on the list (alphabetical)

The interesting thing is to see the different approaches people took. Some, like us, took a very straightforward approach - pitch the film, pitch the people. Others demonstrated scenes from their screenplay (see "Order of the Dragon" for a fantastic example of really high quality, low budget CGI). Some played it straight, others went for a humorous approach. I really can't wait to meet these people out at the Sundance Film Festival.

A quick note: Currently these are only available in a very high bandwidth. I think they will be posting lower bandwidth streams later today for those of you w/o high speed connections.

Howard and I have been friends since college (has it really been 12 years?). Howard has also agreed to do an interview, exclusive to this blog. I'll be putting it up in a couple days.

Take Our Side, But The Costs Are All Yours

Essentially, that is the UK's position to the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has been informed by the Government that it will not receive financial compensation if it follows official advice to boycott England's World Cup match in Zimbabwe.

That is the message from Tessa Jowell, the minister in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport as she meets ECB officials to discuss England's scheduled match against Zimbabwe on February 13th. The ECB would be liable to a heavy fine by the ICC if they breach the contract they signed to take part in the World Cup, and the ICC have stated that they would only be released from that contract for reasons of security.

Nevertheless, the politicians seem to have ignored this aspect of a difficult situation when calling for England to boycott the match as a protest against the policies of Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe. There is also a body of opinion within the United Kingdom that has vociferously opposed the match going ahead.

So, only in recent weeks have the politicians decided that the honorable thing for England to do is boycott the Cricket World Cup, but the ECB has to pay the actual economic costs so the pols can claim that they have helped to make the symbolic gesture (and that is about all they are willing to do) in opposition to Mugabe's violence, thuggery and plundering of Zimbabwe.

Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe England and the entire UK has backed off on called for sanctions and other activities against Mugabe. Cricket, though, will really make the point.

Of course the UK government now claims that the ECB knew their feelings well before they became contractually obligated (and yet there was no position publicly stated by the government until a few weeks ago).

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Hot Stove Embers

With Spring Training still some 5 or 6 weeks away baseball fans have been content to debate Hall of Fame worthiness, discuss trades made and to be made, and free agent signings. This time of the year you also get some goofier but useful articles. This one by a geographer(Dan Werr), discusses location of teams. The comments section below is great, with Dan responding periodically.

Another piece sticks to discussing the Cleveland Indians GM, Mark Shapiro, his first year mistakes, and what he's learned from them. Specifically, he's been going the Billy Beane, young, strong hitters with solid on-base percentages. The article gives a lot of love (not that it isn't deserved) to the Baseball Prospectus.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

There's more to it then Moore

This story is getting a fair amount of attention because, once again, Michael Moore is characterized as, well stupid and stereotyping blacks:

What we did not expect was to feel so enraged at one point that we almost walked out. It was when Moore went into a rant about how the passengers on the planes on 11 September were scaredy-cats because they were mostly white. If the passengers had included black men, he claimed, those killers, with their puny bodies and unimpressive small knives, would have been crushed by the dudes, who as we all know take no disrespect from anybody. God save us from such stupid white men, especially now, when in the US and the UK, black people's lives are being ripped to shreds by drugs, lawlessness, fear and frightful violence plus the endless circle of racism, exclusion and incarceration. This is not awesome, Mr Moore; it is a calamity, for descendants of slaves unimaginably more so.

Moore deserves all the abuse and more that he gets. You can almost picture him up there thinking he's being funny saying stupid shit like that, acting like he's doing the comedy club circuit. Maybe even pretending to be a black man (or woman) facing the knife wielding terrorists on the jet while all the white folk shrank away from them.

The rest of the article deserves some look since it is full of so much excrement; all the while trying to address black-on-black crime in England. In describing some of the crimes, she wants to target white, male reporters as somehow being enablers:

There is something distasteful, obscene even in the coverage that has followed the killings. Male journalists in mainstream papers, like Moore above, write over-excitedly about the guns, giving us pictures and prices, plus interviews with cool gang members, carrying on as if this is some Tarantino movie that has hit town. Meanwhile, decent black men and women in particular – mothers, sisters, lovers and daughters – weep and grieve as black-on-black killings rise in our inner cities, just as they have in the US.

Yes! Yes! Yes! We white guys get so excited by violence, guns and death! We want it! We crave it! Therefore, it is our fault!

Yes, we have massively more guns and armed crime in our society, and all races are involved. But British Caribbeans are disproportionately affected by the problem, and their numbers are small – only about 550,000. Their lives are vulnerable, for a whole raft of reasons.

More guns? In England? I thought there was a total ban on guns in England? How can this be? How can there be more violence?

Thankfully, some people are taking action. A conference is to take place, and even tougher legislation will be passed to address firearms. And maybe, just maybe a task force to follow up and come up with other ideas!

Blunkett and Blair are, at last, turning their attention to this problem, too long ignored or hidden by white and black leaders. A summit is to be called in Birmingham, and there is to be a change in the law to introduce a minimum five-year sentence for anyone found with a firearm. Who would have thought that the fiery Diane Abbott, lifelong fighter of racism, would today be calling for this tougher legislation? But then she is a black woman and MP for Hackney, where she has watched the horror of spiralling black-on-black violence.

But the law alone cannot do the job. I think Abbott should head a task force to challenge the culture of confrontation, ignorance, violence, drugs, sexism and heartlessness that has corrupted young black males with their false emblems of pride and extracted respect. She is trusted more than many of the black middle-class suits who will be called upon to take charge of any initiatives.

What a task force it will be. To challenge all of those corrupting forces. What could be behind them? What could be the...

root causes

We need the Government to nail the producers of vicious filth. Violent songs and videos sustain these men in their life choices. They feel good that they are lauded as desensitised robo-killers. And please, I simply don't accept all that liberal wash about the neutrality of art, popular culture, television and music. In December, a pitiless black gang of young men were convicted for violent car jackings. They had modelled themselves on old American gangsters, even dressing like them. The hardest gangs love So Solid Crew and the duo Oxide and Neutrino, who, of course, deny they have any real influence with such songs as "Bound for D Reload (A&E)". Neutrino has himself been shot outside a club, and three members of So Solid have been charged with carrying loaded guns. It is scandalous that the music industry and others walk away without any conscience about the harm they do or the good they could do.

It's the music! She doesn't accept the liberal view of art, but what about other matters?

Many other interconnected issues need to be examined. Afro-Caribbean men are over-represented in the mental health services, according to a new report by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health. There is a crisis here, and the treatment offered is inferior to that received by white patients. School exclusions and behavioural problems, too, need to be part of the analyses. Policing has gone through dramatic changes since the Lawrence report (although too many racist officers remain in place) but what can be done about the refrain that there is no trust between the police and black and Asian people? Home Office research (Paper 129, 2000) shows that now there is support for stop-and-search among all ethnic groups, as long as the police treat suspects fairly, with dignity and without racism. There will be more black men stopped in some areas where gun crime is high. To decry this as evidence only of prejudice is now unacceptable.


I'll bet she's a lot of fun at parties. No good music, white men are to blame, racism is rampant. Somehow she didn't get around to blaming drugs and alcohol.

Big Surprise

I am shocked! Shocked! Shocked to learn this.

Many state governments are using money they won in a 1998 tobacco settlement to plug fiscal deficits rather than fund anti-smoking programs, a health advocacy group said on Tuesday.

Four years after the landmark $246 billion settlement with major cigarette makers to cover tobacco-related health costs, cash-strapped states are reneging on promises to spend the money on programs to prevent and stop smoking, according to an American Lung Association study.

Here is the ALA Press Release. Read along and see how similar it is to the "story." The actual report is here.

Israel to UK Driven Summit: Up Yours

Following the suicide bombings in Tel Aviv over the weekend, Israel is blocking any Palestinian travel. This puts a kibosh on the "peace" summit that UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has been championing for next week. Britain has been trying to get Israel to make an exception:

Mr Straw earlier "utterly and completely" condemned the attack but argued that it emphasised the need to get people around the negotiating table.

Not surprisingly Israel refused. Jack Straw basically got into an argument with his opposite number on the phone, Benjamin Netanyahu. In response to some British spin, the Israeli Embassy actually released a transcript of the phone conversation on Monday (an interesting aside, the Guardian article on the same subject characterized the transcript release as being "leaked by the Israelis.").

In neither the BBC or Guardian article is there mention of the fact that the British Government has also refused to release the spare parts the Israeli military needs, indicating the ban may also be a bargaining chip for the parts.

Monday, January 06, 2003

Local Idiocy for Downtown

I read this incoherent piece in the op-ed section of the Sunday edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The PD and the editorial board have long backed just about any project for downtown Cleveland. The Gateway project (Gund arena and Jacobs Field), the Galleria (downtown shopping mall), Browns Stadium (great idea to build on the same spot by the lake), Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Science Center, and so on. Anything that can help "revitalize" downtown. So far nothing.

Gateway has been the biggest sinkhole of money for the city and county, even some 6 or 7 years after it was finished the city pays and hasn't seen jack. The Galleria keeps losing tenants, I think it is at under 50% occupancy -- you mean people won't flock to downtown Cleveland to shop when they have to pay up to $10 for parking and around a 7% sales tax when they could go to the same stores in the 'burbs and park for free and sales tax is around 5.5%? Shocking. Browns Stadium? The Rock Hall? Don't make me laugh.

Still these projects that the PD has championed as being cornerstones to revitalizing downtown Cleveland, pale when compared to their quest to build a new Cleveland Convention Center. A convention center to allow it to better compete to draw conventions. The cities it battles in the region: Detroit, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Louisville. All of these cities have newer nicer convention centers and tend to beat Cleveland for that all important economic boon -- the guy who swoops in for a 3 day stay to get as loaded as possible and find someone to have a quick fling in a hotel. This piece , by Brent Larkin a long time member of the editorial board, seems to be trying to marshal support for it.

The decade-old idea of asking voters to help pay for construction of a new convention center downtown has always been about timing.

Serious proposals for a new convention center have been floated since about the middle of Michael R. White's 12-year run as mayor. But, on each occasion, the timing never seemed right. The reasons not to proceed always outweighed the case for moving forward.

Timing. Timing and money. Specifically how much and who does it benefit other than (obviously) Marriot, Ramada and the hotel chains. No one ever seems to have a really good answer. All you ever hear is that jobs will be created; that money will be generated; and that all will be well if the local citizenry agrees to a new tax to pay for it.

Now, with the arrival of 2003, comes this reality: If a new convention center doesn't become a done deal this year, the window slams shut at least until 2007.

And this is bad, because... ?

That's because a new convention center would be largely paid for with a countywide tax placed on the ballot for voter approval. But putting such controversial measures on the ballot always makes for bad politics in even-numbered years, when election campaigns for many county, state and federal offices are waged. And such a vote would be a nonstarter at City Hall in 2005, when Mayor Jane Campbell and members of City Council will seek re- election.

So, it's either this year or wait four more years - when interest rates are certain to be higher, which would cause construction costs to sky rocket.

So the reasons to do it and do it now, is the assumption that voters wouldn't remember or care who supported the project in two years (or is it that the hacks could couch their words to make it seem like it wasn't their idea) and that now is the best time to refinance your home? I like the last part "would cause construction costs to sky rocket." Yeah, because the aforementioned downtown projects never went over budget, and if they did, surely it was only high interest rates. Not cost overruns, corruption, pay offs and fraud. Well, sign me on for this boondoggle.

All of this explains the sudden sense of behind-the-scenes urgency on the convention center issue that now exists among some of the re gion's civic, corporate and political leaders.

But while the urgency is there, the consensus isn't. In fact, disagree ments abound - in typical Cleve land fashion.

There is room for legitimate de bate over how high a new convention center should be on this community's priority list - especially since the cost could be as much as a staggering half-billion dollars.

"Behind-the-scenes urgency?" The only people pressing this is the PD and the same people who have been seeking this for the last decade plus. No one else is really saying, "hey, sure there's a recession, the tax base is fleeing, and none of the sports teams can win; but what we really need is to spend $500 million dollars on a convention center."

But there's no room for reasonable debate over this: Downtown is in deep trouble. Empty office space abounds. Hotel occupancy rates are down and headed even lower. And downtown's two large shopping complexes, Tower City and the Galleria, have lost money.

So, if a new convention center will be built to help a downtown in desperate straits, a political consensus that's now missing has to materialize in the next couple of months.

Campbell said last week that she would be willing to consider it, but first wants answers to some reasonable questions - questions concerning construction and operating costs, size, location, how to pay for it, and governance. Campbell also believes that a convention center ballot issue should be packaged with other incentives, such as money for an economic development fund and the arts.

How about this question: How will a new Convention Center really reverse all of the problems listed? How will a new convention center encourage using office space downtown when you can simply lug a laptop and a projector where you need to be to make a presentation? How do you know that the apparently sainted conventions will want to come to Cleveland over the other locations? Won't the increased competition simply drive each convention center to make greater concessions to the convention organizers that will increase the operating costs born by the center?

Council President Frank Jackson is more specific. Jackson believes it is essential to move on the issue this year. What's more, he stands ready to enthusiastically support a ballot issue - provided he gets what he wants.

Jackson is demonstrating real leadership on this issue. What he wants is to end the decades-old political tactics that pit downtown against neighborhoods. What he wants is a convention center plan that does more than promise to help neighborhoods, but guarantees it. What he wants, frankly, is worthy of serious consideration.

Jackson insists on a convention center funding plan that includes another $25 million a year for 10 years for neighborhood-development projects. He also wants job guarantees for Clevelanders, women and minorities. And because he knows he's asking for $250 million from the pot for city neighborhoods, he would support yet another $250 million pot being created for the suburbs.

Although all of these add-ons would push the total cost into the $1 billion range, adding goodies for city neighborhoods and the suburbs would probably make a convention center tax an easier sell with county voters.

Why is this idea worth "serious consideration?" Simple, because it would spend even more tax money. Read the last paragraph again. The idea is to double the expected cost of the convention center, and sell the whole thing as a holistic countywide development-thing -- of course even Larkin has to concede that it is ultimately still a tax for the convention center.

In fact, a recent survey by pollster Robert Dykes showed that a slight majority of the county's voters support the idea of more public expenditures for downtown. Although the poll did not ask whether voters would support a specific tax for those expenditures, it showed wider support for spending tax dollars on downtown than was found in a similar poll several years ago.

In fact, what the poll discovered, was that when the question was asked just right with very little in the way of specific details as to what the tax would actually support, there was support of just over 50%. Clearly the public is clamoring for this plan to be followed.

Of all of the convention center-related issues still to be resolved, the most contentious probably involves location. Realistically, three spots remain in the running: on the Port Authority's lakefront land immediately west of Cleveland Browns Stadium, on the Mall at or near the current Convention Center site, or on the footprint beginning on the northwest side of Public Square and running west into the Warehouse District.

The Public Square location is the smallest and least practical, but it is aggressively supported by some hotel owners and business leaders, notably Forest City Enterprises' Albert Ratner. County Commissioners Jimmy Dimora and Tim McCormack support the lakefront location, while Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones is not wedded to any site.

"The West 3rd Street [Public Square] site is totally dead," Dimora said last week. "I believe the port site is the best because of all the additional economic development it could create. But I'm not going to hold this whole thing up to fight over site location. I'm willing to try to get this done because, if we don't do it this year, it's not going to get done for a long time."

In the end, the location most likely to prevail is on the Mall - because it is probably the best location.

Location, location, location. Essentially, whatever commissioner is holding the most leverage at the time (if this happens) will get his way.

Most of the heavy-lifting on this project is being done by Cleveland Tomorrow, with the next meeting of the key players set for this Thursday. Meanwhile, so many details must be worked out in such a short period that it will take a Herculean effort to settle on a plan and a ballot issue that stand a chance of winning voter approval.

When the mayor, the council president, the county commissioners and others sit down later this week to talk, there might not be a whole lot they agree on. But there will be no disagreement on this:

There will never be a better time to borrow money for expensive public construction projects.

If they agree a new convention center is essential to downtown's future, that's all the incentive they should need to cut a deal.

And if they can ever actually prove without using "best case scenarios" how the convention center is different from all of the other projects that were "essential" to downtown Cleveland, I'll drink water from Lake Erie for a month.

Taking It To the Domers

Pitt put the beat down on Notre Dame in the second half this evening to wallop the Irish 72-55. The game was tied 30-30 at the half. The Pitt Panthers fell behind 42-38, but then went on a 16-0 run and never looked back. Pitt won the game with strong interior play from Ontario Lett and Chevon Troutman.

The game was the lead-off/kick-off to ESPN's "Big Monday." This, sadly meant Dick Vitale doing color commentary. Vitale just does not shut up. It is excruciating to hear him. I honestly am not sure who the actual play-by-play guy was for the game, because Vitale just kept talking over him.

The big problem for Pitt, just like last year, was their free throw shooting. As a team they shot 11-25 from the line. That is horrid. As a team they shot 29-54 from the field. Plain lack of focus at the line. The point guard and best player, Brandin Knight, shot 0-6. 0-6. He shot 6-12 from everywhere else. Knight is a 6 foot point guard, not Shaq. This is not good. This will bite them in the ass like it did last year if they don't get better at free throws.

Still it was a good win against a top ten (#6) team for Pitt.

Football in Ohio

If you care about sports, you already know that it has been an interesting weekend in Ohio. More specifically, it has been most bizarre in the Cleveland area. The euphoria the locals had over OSU beating Miami in the Fiesta Bowl to the growing excitement Sunday of the Browns looking like they were going to beat the Steelers for the first time in two years -- in the playoffs, no less. Then dashed by a defense that collapsed in the 4th quarter. For some reason, I decided to listen to one of the Sports Talk radio stations all day today. After a while, almost every call became similar. Each would essentially start with the comments about how great OSU was and what a great game, but then quickly descended to rants about how the Browns blew it, ripped out their hearts again, and they can't wait to let them do it again. Great entertainment, since I had been rooting for the Steelers. Of course, I had been rooting for Miami (OSU fans are almot as annoying as Penn State fans, while most Miami fans are wagon jumpers and not as plentiful) since they are in the Big East with Pitt, so I was 1 of 2.

Sandwiched between the local shows was Jim Rome, who in a backhanded way gave "props" to OSU for beating Miami and admitting he was wrong about them. Rome is, very much the Southern California homer, so he still feels USC should have been playing in the game, since USC ended the season as the hottest and best team. Maybe I've lived in Ohio too long, but I need to disagree here. USC lost to Washington State and Kansas State this year. The way the system is set up, if you lose more than one game, you stand no shot at playing for the Championship in the BCS. The fact that USC may have been the team playing the "best" at the end of the year is irrelevant. So what? They weren't the best team all season long. Getting hot at the end of the year helps, but without a playoff system, you will still be watching the Championship game on TV.

Don't believe me about Rome? Check out his home page (sorry I am not taking a screen shot and saving it, so check soon). The cover photo is Carson Palmer (USC's QB) holding up the Orange Bowl trophy.

UPDATE: Talk about spiking the ball. This is great fun from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

I Didn't Know I Had a Problem

Well, damn. Apparently I "binged" yesterday while watching some pregame and two football games, roughly seven hours.

These figures are based on a telephone survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In deciding how alarming they are, it is helpful to know that the survey defines "binge drinking" as "consumption of 5 or more alcoholic beverages on 1 occasion."

And here I thought a good binge involved at least two consecutive days (nights) of heavy consumption.

Instapundit has been talking a bit about how MADD has evolved from fighting drunk driving (and won) to anti-alcohol in general. Keep demonizing like this, and distorting the truth (but it's all in the name of a good cause) and credibility and backlash will leave them as believable as the ONDCP, their media campaign and their other sites.

The Latest Wave to Crash

Maybe it's a coincidence, or maybe it is just the nature of information flows, but the latest suicide bombers in Tel Aviv have again spread more than just bloodshed. Lileks captures perfectly the disgust and inability to feel any sympathy with the Palestinians who cheer this horror. Meanwhile this heavily linked (with good reason) new piece by Max Boot on the using of the "Palestinian plight" by others and why ties in nicely with this news via Instapundit:

Claire Berlinski emails this from Paris:

Another item to note from Paris: On 16 December 2002 the Conseil d'Administration of Université Paris VI passed a motion recommending the rupture of the European Union's scientific cooperation agreement with Israel. A similar resolution is on the agenda of the meeting of the Université Paris VII Conseil d'Administration, which is to take place on January 7. This is in effect a call for boycott; the proposal would institutionalize the exclusion of Israeli researchers from scientific committees, conferences and scientific journals. It would kill international research projects involving Israeli scientists and academic hosting programs for university faculty. It would ban international student exchange programs. This has attracted surprisingly little attention from the press here, and none at all in the US, as far as I can tell. Is anyone going to stand up and point out that this is an absolute fucking outrage?

Note also that the rabbi who was stabbed was a prominent LEFT-WING PACIFIST. The French press has thus far been tactfully circumspect about the assailant's probable ethnic origin, but earlier that morning, the synagogue received this communication: "Nous aurons la peau du rabbin Gabriel Farhi et vengerons le sang de nos frères palestiniens. -...- Nous lancerons contre lui le djihad, châtiment réservé aux ennemis de notre cause -...-. Après avoir mis feu à sa synagogue, nous nous vengerons directement sur lui."*

*"We will have the skin of Rabbi Gabriel Farhi and we will venge the blood of our Palestinian brothers -- we will hurl jihad against him, a punishment reserved for the enemies of our cause -- after setting fire to his synagogue, we will venge ourselves upon him directly."

I, for one, am inclined to view the two events as importantly connected.

Is anyone else awaiting such activity towards China? Where's Richard Gere to plead for the plight of the people of Tibet when you need him?

From the aforementioned Max Boot piece:

For the Europeans, championing the Palestinian cause allows them to assuage lingering colonial guilt by championing the aspirations of a Third World people who claim to be oppressed by Western imperialists--in this case, Israelis. It also allows Europeans to trumpet their moral superiority over pro-Israel Americans. And, last but not least, it allows them to curry favor with both oil-rich Arab states and their own growing Muslim minorities. Europeans hope that Arabs will show their gratitude by doing business with them and not targeting them for terrorism. All of this comes at a price, though: The E.U. is one of the Palestinian Authority's main non-Arab bankrollers, to the tune of $10 million a month.

I think he can also throw in a certain moral equality theme over the Holocaust and the continuing/resurgence of anti-Jew attitudes in Europe to the mix.

Back to the fucks who did the suicide bombing: al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. You know, the ones "linked" to Arafat's Fatah group. Yet somehow they are not Arafat's responsibility, nor should he be blamed. Quick question for all the Michael Moore fans who believe the US funded the Taliban, and holds the US responsible for every act committed by a third-world country where we provided aid, training, and/or support at any point in history. How come no one holds Arafat and the PLO and the Palestinian leaders responsible?

Oh, that's right, they aren't white or from European descent.


(Copyright © 2002-2005 Chas Rich All rights Reserved.);
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