Monthly Archives: October 2011

Jesus wept: Sports, reality TV and those embarrassing public displays of piety

Some people think I hate Christians. My occasional comments on Tim Tebow probably have something to do with that perception, although you have to aggressively project a hater stereotype on me to make that work. Which a lot of Christians are happy to do, make no mistake.

I won’t lie, though. I’m very much not a Christian myself and I’ve read my Dawkins and my Harris. I’m a persistent fan of evidence, and I’m not idiot enough to think that we know all there is to know. In particular I’m intrigued by the study of energy and the question of whether perhaps it coheres once we die. But this is a question of science, not blind religion. I feel no particular need to believe in a “higher power” or in the existence of a spirit realm. I’m certainly spiritual, but since spiritualism as expressed by humanist awareness is more than I’ll ever unravel, I have no need for superstition. Read more

The Tebow era is under way: grading his performance vs. the Dolphins

The Tim Tebow experiment has begun, with the Denver Broncos posting an 18-15 come-from-behind overtime victory over the winless Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon.

I’ve been critical of Tebow and his frequently irrational fan base, but none of that matters now. All that matters at this point is whether he’s a viable quarterback for a team that hasn’t accomplished much this century. So in the interest of objective evaluation, let’s take a cold, hard look at Tebow’s performance yesterday. Namely, let’s examine what he did well, what he didn’t do so well, where he deserves credit and where he doesn’t deserve credit, etc.

The Good

Results are results, and this is a W. Period. Read more

Train wreck at Loftus Road: Chris Foy must be suspended, Premiership must investigate

I have a rule that serves me well in life:

Never ascribe to treachery that which can be adequately explained by mere incompetence.

That said, sometimes the world of sports presents us with instances where it’s very, very hard not to suspect something sinister at work. Such was the case earlier today at Loftus Road in London, where referee Chris Foy put on an appalling display that pretty much single-handedly awarded Queens Park Rangers an upset victory over visiting Chelsea.

Witness:

  • In the eighth minute, Chelsea center back David Luiz lightly bumped Ranger Heidar Helguson in the box on a high bouncing ball. Helguson went down like he’d been blind-sided by a wrecking ball. Read more

iCloud: Apple blows a huge opportunity

I never imagined I’d be blogging on Apple issues, but here we go.

In anticipation of getting a new iPad2 I migrated my MobileMe over to iCloud. It’s hard to have a definitive idea of what a new service is going to do until you get your hands on it in earnest, but I had read about iCloud, asked some Apple types who knew more than I did about it, and felt like I had a fair idea that it was going to help me solve some problems I’ve been dealing with in the course of managing the logistics of my business.

I was wrong. Mostly, anyway. I knew I was in trouble when the guy at the Apple Store told me do not migrate, sweet gods, for the sake of all that’s sacred do not migrate!! Okay, that’s not exactly how he put it, and I won’t repeat the words he actually did use (which weren’t much much better), but suffice it to say that staff was finding iCloud to be “suboptimal.” Read more

Archipelago: “Lasse is dead. He committed suicide yesterday.”

In 2005 my friend and colleague, Lars Bjuvberg, committed suicide in Stockholm. Lars and I weren’t all that close, but his death hit me in a way that I still don’t fully understand. Perhaps it was as simple as the fact that someone so very talented had escorted himself off this mortal stage.

Or perhaps it was more complicated – as I learned more about the story, I found myself empathizing with him and understanding his decision. I had written about suicide before, and in ways that perhaps suggested something about my own relationship with what many regard as the gravest of human sins. Read more

Mark Cuban on Occupy Wall Street

I’ve long thought that Mark Cuban was a really bright guy. He’s not omniscient, by any means – every once in awhile he’ll wander down a blind alley of an idea and I’ll wonder if he’s finally run out of smart. But my experience is that he usually bounces right back with something that makes a lot of sense. In sports terminology, he never loses two in a row, and that’s a formula for success.

I certainly appreciate that in an era of pathological greed, here’s a gazillionaire with clearly articulated progressive tendencies. He’s a guy whose employees seem to love him. He’s generous, apparently, and willing to spend whatever it takes to succeed. When it comes to competing, he’s always struck me as a man who adheres to the “self-interest, rightly understood” principle that de Tocqueville talks about in Democracy in America. I have no idea whether he’s even heard of de Tocqueville, of course, but he seems to get the underlying values, regardless. Read more

Banished from the English language: “flip-flopper”

Every once in awhile a new term/catchphrase/buzzword/meme catches fire here in the US. Sometimes it’s a function of the fact that our incredibly plastic language, with its myriad dynamic influences (everything from media to subcultural to ethnic to technological) sort of inherently generates new words. Other times the term is a result of political or PR craftiness, as was the case with “Japan-bashing” (and subsequently, any more generalized iteration of “______-bashing”). The lobbyist who made the phrase up later famously said “Those people who use (the term) have the distinction of being my intellectual dupes.” Read more

TunesDay: What the hell is going on in Boulder?

When I first moved to Boulder, Colorado in 1993 there were three big local bands: Big Head Todd & the Monsters, The Samples and The Reejers. BHTM were and still are an outstanding blues/rock band. The Samples were an alt act that reminded me at times of The Police and at other times of Johnny Clegg & Savuka (although both comparisons are misleading – Sean Kelly’s voice had a sort of Stingish quality about it and the Savuka reference is mainly about Jeep MacNichol’s drumming). The Reejers were a hard, noisy industrial-edged grunge act, I guess you’d say. All three of these were, in my view, outstanding bands, and they represented a broad diversity of sound. I was in heaven.

But then Boulder went 100% hippie on us and has since been defined by bands like Leftover Salmon, The String Cheese Incident and Yonder Mountain String Band.  Read more

And now, some shameless promotion: Uncanny Valley launches and you need a copy

Some months back I submitted a long “poem” to a new publication called Uncanny Valley. (I quote-mark the word “poem” for reasons that are quickly evident to the reader. It’s part poem, but it’s also comprised of elements that are’t poetry at all – snips of drama script, blog entries, actual e-mail exchanges, photographs, newspaper clippings, playbills, and so on.) I was stunned when it was accepted – honestly, I never figured something that long and experimental had a chance anywhere.

But UV is different. Very different. They set themselves a mission to provide a forum for the unconventional. As the editors explain, “Other magazines make the words they publish fit their format. We make our format fit the words.”

Now, a few months later, Issue 0001 has dropped. My copy arrived in the mail today, and I can’t tell you how honored I am to be included in something this damned cool. Read more

Topeka gives us another great budget-cutting idea

Check this one out.

Topeka, Kansas City Council Considers Decriminalizing Domestic Violence To Save Money
Faced with their worst budget crises since the Great Depression, states and cities have resorted to increasingly desperate measures to cut costs. State and local governments have laid off teachers, slashed Medicaid funding, and even started unpaving roads and turning off streetlights.

But perhaps the most shocking idea to save money is being debated right now by the City Council of Topeka, Kansas. The city could repeal an ordinance banning domestic violence because some say the cost of prosecuting those cases is just too high: Read more

Are you ready for some FOOOTBAALLLL?! A couple of notes on the Hank Williams, Jr. hullaballoo

Hank Williams, Jr. said some stupid shit. Because, you know, he’s not exactly a rocket surgeon or a model of progressive, pro-human ideals. I can’t imagine that this comes as much a surprise to anyone. Now ESPN has done what they pretty much had to and kicked Hank to the curb. Read all about it.

Two quick thoughts.

First, that Monday Night Football intro sequence was getting tired. Five years ago, in fact. Read more

The lie detector is a lie, the polygraph is my bitch, and Americans should stop acting like slack-jawed yokels

Last week I found myself in a doctor’s waiting room for a few minutes, and the staff had the TV tuned to one of those daily Dr. Phil/Maury/Jerry/Montel type freak circuses where the host knows everything and fixes all human problems in 30 minutes. I tried to read my book and ignore it, but you know how hard it is not to look at a trainwreck. I was sort of doing okay up until I heard the host use a term that has griped me for years: “lie detector.” Yes, somebody is lying. We’ll find out who right after these messages.

[sigh]

I’d have thought we’d have this polygraph nonsense well behind us by now. Read more

The lie detector is a lie, the polygraph is my bitch, and Americans should stop acting like slack-jawed yokels

Last week I found myself in a doctor’s waiting room for a few minutes, and the staff had the TV tuned to one of those daily Dr. Phil/Maury/Jerry/Montel type freak circuses where the host knows everything and fixes all human problems in 30 minutes. I tried to read my book and ignore it, but you know how hard it is not to look at a trainwreck. I was sort of doing okay up until I heard the host use a term that has griped me for years: “lie detector.” Yes, somebody is lying. We’ll find out who right after these messages.

[sigh]

I’d have thought we’d have this polygraph nonsense well behind us by now. Read more

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