Thursday, October 23, 2003

Why I hate hockey, a sport I used to love more than any other to watch.

The first in a series of very occasional sports posts...

2-1 final scores are great in soccer, but hockey's scoring dearth is depressing. the game has been ruined by
a) steroids, which in turn have led to players who are TOO FUCKING BIG. If i want to watch football, i will. I'm sick of every player looking like a linebacker, with hands that match the profile. 6'6" 245 is NOT hockey size.
b) rink size. they are too small. in part, this has to do with a, cuz bigger players take up more room on the ice, obviously. but still, a bigger euro style rink would make for more scoring and skating. course, you would have to get rid of some seats (and premium seats!) so fat fucking chance.
c) goalie equipment. too much too big. every year they say they are making stuff smaller, but come on--goalies should look the way JD did in 1979.
d) bad rule changes. the NHL made several changes to slow down the Oilers in the 80s (couldn't have too many stanley cup games in CAnada now could we?). some of those rules were idiotic--what the hell is wrong with a two line pass? of course, no one can get around to changing the rules back to when hockey was...exciting.
e) a diminished talent pool, though in fact a) is the root of this. i'm sure there are plenty of 5'11" guys languishing in lower divisions or in europe...
f) coaches who are afraid of their own shadows. Anyone with knowledge of Italian Serie A soccer from the 70s knows that catenaccio grew out of coaches worried about getting fired, so thus, play for the 0-0 and you are better off. hockey is thick with coaches who play not to lose, and that leads up to..
g) the trap. the worst thing in hockey, other than a).

fuck it, i can't watch it any more, and it really does make me sad. farbeit from Bettman et. al. to learn from baseball--what energized baseball more than any in modern history? why, it was a home run race between mcgwire and sosa, probably juiced up with the tightest wound baseball since 1930.

my two cents.
Seymour Hersh, in his (as usually is the case) excellent article in The New Yorker says this:

"The government of the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, President Bush’s closest ally, was also brought in. As Blair later told a British government inquiry, he and Bush had talked by telephone that summer about the need “to disclose what we knew or as much as we could of what we knew.” Blair loyally took the lead: on September 24th, the British government issued a dossier dramatizing the W.M.D. threat posed by Iraq. In a foreword, Blair proclaimed that “the assessed intelligence has established beyond doubt that Saddam . . . continues in his efforts to develop nuclear weapons.” The dossier noted that intelligence—based, again, largely on the sismi report—showed that Iraq had “sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” A subsequent parliamentary inquiry determined that the published statement had been significantly toned down after the C.I.A. warned its British counterpart not to include the claim in the dossier, and in the final version Niger was not named, nor was sismi [ITalian intelligence]. "

Bob Somersby over at the (nearly always) excellent Daily Howler harped for weeks on this particular aspect of the NIger scandal--that Bush's "sixteen words" were NOT in fact a reference to NIger, because Bush repeated Blair's claims that "Sadaam has sought nuclear materials in Africa (emphasis mine)" as opposed to specifically saying Niger, and thus all reporting on Bush's words that didn't clarify this was misleading, lazy, or possibly worse. I think this is important because this is the first time the press, EVEREVEREVER, got around to actually dealing with Bush's raging mendacity, taking a meme from the blogworld and making it mainstream (as always, Paul Krugman gets honorable exception...). But in truth, as one reads the above, it seems clear (and to me has forever seemed clear) that the Niger claim WAS the Africa claim--that is, there was no other evidence to which Blair or anyone else could refer. NOw, ex post facto, vague and hopeful bits of spin were thrown out there by Cheney and others about some third country in AFrica, but none was ever named, no evidence was ever offered--e.g. just more bullshit. So, it seems clear that it was in fact reasonable to assume that Niger=Africa for the sake of this argument, and that sometimes, even my heroes like Somersby can have feet of clay.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Parsing the Times part MDMCXVIII:

So on the cover, we get a story that Bush is saying that THE PHILLIFUCKINGPINES are our template for Iraq. The times reporter in classic "while some claim the earth is round, others believe it is flat" mode gently points out around para 32 that it took 50 or so years for us to leave them to their good graces after our splendid little war. And in para 31 that the precipitating incident, REMEMBER THE MAINE, was bogus.

what they don't mention is that after 50 years, we ended up with Ferdinand Marcos, and the lovely and talented Imelda, fascists who raped and pillaged their own country to the tune of a billion or so dollars. Oh, and if you think this is old news, there was a military coup attempt 3 months ago too. Great fucking template, moron-in-chief. I wish i knew how to curse someone in Tagalog.