Monday, February 26, 2007

Spare Change

Apparently a Massachusetts town has created its own currency.

This is the coolest thing ever. That is all.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Um... Really?

Have a look at this Christian Science Monitor article (via Yahoo News) that details the Supreme Court's rejection of an appeal by a New York City family protesting the lack of a nativity scene in schools. The argument is that because the Jews and Muslims are represented by religious symbols (a hanukkiyah and a crescent, respectively) while the Christians are represented by a Christmas tree, New York City is inappropriately promoting Judaism and Islam over Christianity.

Let's ignore the argument's dubiousness for a moment and concentrate on this bit of hilarity from the family's lawyer's brief:

"Why is the menorah - a symbol of a miracle that is central to the Jewish faith - any more or less religious than a simple scene of the nativity, which is a historic event?" (emphasis mine)

The Hanukkah miracle central to the Jewish faith? Really? To whose Jewish faith, Adam Sandler's? It's hard for me to read this without imagining Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer falling out of their chairs laughing.

Non-Jews out there, listen up: Hanukkah is an exceedingly minor holiday. It celebrates a war that didn't even make it into the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible to you) and that led to one of the nastiest dynasties in Jewish history. Hanukkah is certainly behind Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and definitely behind the three pilgrimage festivals (Sukkot, Pesach, and Shavuot, so named because during the days of the Temple people went to Jerusalem for them). I'd also put it behind Purim, which celebrates events in the Book of Esther (actually in the Bible), and Simchat Torah, which celebrates the finishing and restarting of the annual Torah reading cycle. Oh, also the Ninth of Av, a fast day commemorating the destruction of the First Temple - a holiday that most American Reform Jews don't even observe.

What amuses me is this - if the New York City public schools were promoting Judaism, people would in theory already know this. Essentially, this lawyer managed to defeat his own argument.

Yes, Hanukkah is a lot of fun - it's right up there with Purim, Pesach, and Simchat Torah in that respect. But Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas (that distinction probably goes to Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, and which most Jews don't even know about). It's barely even a religious holiday. We don't care that much about it. We just like seeing the hanukkiyot out there because we're sick of being bombarded with Christmas crap from Halloween onward. If we're really going to do this whole let's-learn-about-Judaism thing, what say we scrap the great big Hanukkah show and concentrate on some of the lesser-known but more important holidays?

Incidentally, could you imagine the hell a Jew would catch from a gentile boss if he/she asked off work for Shavuot (a two-day holiday where you're not supposed to work)? It's hard enough to get off for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This annoys me.

Also, break out the brooms, kids.

Friday, February 23, 2007

You Will Comment... And Like It

Here's a moral dilemma for those of you who, like me, value both tolerance and freedom of speech:

First: read this news article about a bigot invited to speak by a teacher at Raleigh's Enloe high school.

Should the school be subjected to some sort of punishment? What is the appropriate response here? Should the crazy dude be held responsible? Or the administration?

Here's my take: first off, the law shouldn't be getting involved. Enloe teachers should have the right to invite whoever they want to and the crazy dude has a right to be crazy. But the Enloe administrators and teachers should look at this teacher and see if inviting this guy to speak was part of an effective teaching strategy or is part of a ridiculous attempt to spread hatred. If the latter, the school administrators should fire the teacher. The anger voiced at WCPSS by the Muslim advocacy groups, however, is misplaced - I doubt the school system actively encourages discriminatory speakers, and the school system shouldn't have veto power over what visitors to a school can say anyway.

But that's just me. What's your opinion?

Also, in the interesting moments in journalism department, contrast the N&O headline above with the headline on the Fox News story. Note the tone that each sets. The Fox headline, says that Person A believes that Person B's actions are not freedom of speech. Americans, most of whom value their own freedom of speech, are more likely to instinctually side with Person B after reading that headline. This is especially true since many Americans believe (in general, incorrectly) that Muslims are opposed to our freedom of speech. Contrast this with the N&O headline, "Students Told To Shun Muslims," which makes the reader think "crazy intolerant person trying to infect our kids with his/her crap." The articles are written similarly. I find this interesting.

Big Crapple

Those of you who think it's okay to legislate cultural values, be warned - you may end up as the culprit in something like this.

Of course, the idea that dancing is not a form of expression protected by the Constitution is pretty ridiculous. What, does it fall under obscenity?

And on a completely unrelated note, this pic is hilarious.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sectarian Rivalry Solved

Much of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq is fueled by the perception that the Shiites and the Kurds will conspire to keep oil revenue away from the Sunnis, who live predominantly in oil-less regions. If this Jazeera article is right (here's a better article from the Independent), the Bush administration has come up with a brilliant way of getting over this hurdle: screwing everyone over equally.

The idea is that Iraq would enter into "production sharing agreements" that would allow foreign oil companies to extract the oil and leave the Iraqi government with a share of the profits, but that the terms would be dictated by the Western oil companies and would by no means be beneficial to Iraqis. The issue is further complicated by the lack of private Iraqi oil companies that have the ability to extract oil. It would probably be a better model for Iraq to establish a national oil company like Saudi Arabia's with the understanding that privatization - preferably to domestic investors - will occur down the line once production has reached a reasonable level. This would give Iraq most of the proceeds from oil extraction while still allowing the West to give its expertise (as it does in Saudi).

Either way, allowing Western oil companies to run off with most of the oil revenue from Iraq is in no way beneficial to Iraqis, whether or not Western companies can extract oil more efficiently from Iraq.

Of course, the nutty articles I linked suggest that this is proof that we fought the war because of oil. I don't buy it. I still think we fought this war because of stupidity. (Note to al-Jazeera and the Independent: Banditos Theorem.) This oil law is simply a factor of our mistaken assumption that the Western economic model is the best for everyone under all circumstances. The Bush administration and those pushing this law need to realize that foreign investment and liberalization isn't always the key to development success.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fun With '08 Slurring

Matt Novak posted recently on the early start of 2008 smearing. Here's a laughable collection of slams from the RNC. Via Big Orange, who has encouraged its readership to come up with slams of its own against the Republican candidates. Y'all know mine for Tancredo...

Pay close attention to the Hillary Clinton one - apparently she's a "lifelong liberal." It seems that the RNC forgot that Hillary cut her teeth on Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential run (link goes to Wikipedia article - pretty much every bio of Hillary mentions this tidbit though). D'oh. I'm a bit surprised someone at Big Orange hasn't picked up on this yet.

Something tells me that either a) there will soon be an opening at the RNC research department or b) we're about to start hearing the phrase "Goldwater liberal." Honestly, if you're going to launch ridiculous attacks on someone, at least launch factually correct ridiculous attacks on someone.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More Economics and Immigration

Here's an article about an interesting study done on the impact of illegal workers on wages and consumer prices. Illegal workers depress wages by about 40% in the farm industry and significantly in other industries as well, but affect prices very little, maybe 5% at the most. This will probably be big grist for the anti-immigrant mill.

The study compared what the wages in an industry would be if the illegals disappeared. The huge gap in the study, of course, is that no one calculated what the wages would be if the illegals were replaced with legal immigrants instead. Also I don't know whether the impending hike in the minimum wage will affect things (the Senate seems set to approve the hike to $7.25 now that the House has shown it's okay with adding in the small-business tax breaks). Certainly the fact that the illegals aren't subject to the minimum wage in the first place affects wages.

My support for liberalized immigration laws has always been moral rather than economic, so this study doesn't really affect my stance at all. But it'll be an interesting point of debate for both those who favor liberalization and those who favor a return to 1925-style policy. It could be taken either way, really.

Link via this quasi-self-Godwining yet still interesting Daily Kos post.

Your WTF Award of the Year...

...goes to South Carolina Senator Robert Ford. South Carolina, of course, has one of the more important primaries next year, and for the Democrats, the support of the black community is paramount - roughly 49% of the electorate in the SC Democratic primary is black. Senator Ford and his colleague, SC Senator Darrell Jackson, whom CBS News described as "key black political leaders," endorsed Hillary Clinton - for what can only be described as the most inexplicable reason ever. The full quote from Ford:

"[If Obama is nominated,] then everybody else on the ballot is doomed. Every Democratic candidate running on that ticket would lose because he's black and he's at the top of the ticket - we'd lose the House, the Senate and the governors and everything. I'm a gambling man. I love Obama. But I'm not going to kill myself."

To quote Mike Mott: Zuh?

I'm reminded of an older black guy I tried to register to vote at a Wal-Mart in Knightdale (a countryish suburb about 10 miles east of Raleigh). When I proffered him the form, he skittered away, mumbling something about how "they're going to get me." Of course, this statement isn't coming from a senile old dude, but from a "key black political leader."

Seriously, what's going on? Is Sen. Ford trying to become the first black white supremacist? Is he really that scared that voters are going to vote for a Republican because the Democratic presidential candidate is black? Note to Sen. Ford: bigots tend to vote Republican nowadays (which is not a dig at Republicans, by the way - most Republicans aren't bigots). Or did Sen. Ford just look for an excuse to back Clinton over Obama and say the first thing that came to his head, no matter how stupid it sounded?

Update: Looks like Ford was just talking out of his ass - he has since apologized for his statements. Guess he finally realized how racist he sounded. Though if you read the apology quote, the concept of apologizing to yourself brings an added layer of hilarity to the situation.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Diplomacy? What's That?

Seems like North Korea has agreed to disarm in exchange for economic benefits. If NK follows through with this deal, it will be come the second nation (after South Africa) to voluntarily give up its nuclear ambitions. Given the insanity of North Korea's leadership, if NK actually holds up its end of the bargain, this is nothing short of remarkable.

Guess this whole "diplomacy" thing actually works. I suppose it would be too much to ask that we try it with Iran and Syria...
E.J. Dionne describes, through the lens of the abortion issue, how as voters "we have created a system that encourages many in [politicians'] ranks to adjust their convictions to their political needs. And then we denounce them." For someone like me who often criticizes seemingly unprincipled decisions, this is a well-taken point. Voters who apply such single-issue litmus tests - on abortion, say, or gay marriage, or even the war in Iraq - distort the elective process so much that they force politicians to change their views in order to court their votes. This is especially true in cultural issues among primary voters.

Dionne also makes the point that the hot-button issues are seldom the most important issues to the politicians. I would argue that they're seldom the most important issues to the average voter too. Abortion probably wouldn't crack my top 20; gay marriage isn't really up there either (though since I view gay rights in general as a civil liberties issue, that ranks rather high). I made several rounds of "tell me what's important to you" calls for Greer (my state house candidate) this past election cycle, and not a single respondent mentioned abortion, gay marriage, or any similar "hot button" issue. The closest I got was a crazy old lady concerned about the "war on Christmas," and that was way down on her list too. This leads to a turning off of voters in the middle who aren't seeing press time for their top issues, which leaves the voting field to the single-issue hot-button voters. Which in turn forces the candidates to address these voters, which perpetuates the cycle.

What's the solution? We are all, to some extent, concerned with these issues, whether or not they're the most important ones to us. In my case, since I rank civil liberties issues - which often develop hot-button status - in my top three when most people wouldn't, I'm probably just as guilty as the next guy in perpetuating this cycle. Should we ask our politicians to be like John Edwards and just talk about economic issues, news cycle be damned? Maybe. But more directly, we can stop viewing candidates' stances on a particular issue as deal-breakers. If candidates knew that they could disagree with us on an issue here and there but still have our support, they would be more likely to be candid with us, and our political debate would benefit.

Rant over. I'll be back to lowering the discourse tomorrow.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Smackdown of the Week

John Howard, prime minister of Australia and professional asshat: "If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for [Illinois Sen. Barack] Obama, but also for the Democrats."

Obama: "We have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq and my understanding is Mr. Howard has deployed 1,400. So if he is ... to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and send them to Iraq, otherwise it’s just a bunch of empty rhetoric."

Score one for the gentleman from Illinois. Wonkette article here.

(For the math geek: for the Aussie contribution to be proportional to ours, they would need roughly 10,000 troops, or an increase of 8,600. Which is less than Obama's number, but still involves a fivefold increase of the Australian troop contribution. Include our imminent surge, and 10,000 additional Aussies would be appropriate. So Obama's exaggerating a bit, but his point is still valid.)

The One-Woman First Amendment Squad

Here's a fun little article about a woman who does her anthro research on exotic dancers and goes around defending them from criminal charges for a living.

Which is awesome. Until I wondered this: why the everloving hell are people arresting strippers for dancing in a strip club? In what fucked-up alternate universe America is this illegal? These women shouldn't need someone going around defending them. Their cases should be thrown out of court upon receipt.

I'll post on something non-sex-related soon, I swear.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sex Crime Crimes

No one wants to talk about teenage sex. We push it out of our minds, pretend it doesn't exist. When it reaches the surface, and it always will, we react like the teenagers at hand are the first teenagers ever to get busy. And that's a problem.

Vanderpeople remember the awful case of Marcus Dixon, a senior in high school, an honor student, and Vandy football recruit who was jailed for sleeping with a sophomore. The case reached the Georgia Supreme Court, who finally did the right thing and set him free. (The racial element of the case prompted me to write this Slant article.) A few weeks ago reported on the distressingly similar case of Genarlow Wilson, another promising high school football recruit who was jailed for receiving a blow job from a younger student. And lest you think that the craziness is limited to Georgia, we find out this week about two Florida teens jailed for child pornography Their crime: making a sex tape of themselves.

Yes. They were found guilty of exploiting themselves. And the conviction was upheld by the appeals court - and by the way, a three-year-old could have written a more reasonable opinion than the majority opinion in this case.

Ridiculous, certainly. But no one, including me, would question the laws they were guilty of breaking. Child pornography is rightfully a crime. So is aggravated child molestation, the crime for which Wilson and Dixon were convicted. But the intent of these crimes is to prevent minors from being exploited and abused by others. It was certainly not to outlaw consensual sexual activity between teens.

The problem here is not the laws, though one could argue that this kind of abuse is allowed because the laws were passed so hurriedly that they were unable to completely work out the details. The problem is this: we, as a society, believe that teen sex shouldn't exist. When we find out - shocker - that it does, we want to send a message to our kids that this kind of behavior won't be tolerated. And all too often, we do so through the legal system.

The intent of these laws was not to declare certain teenage activities "immoral." The intent of these laws was to prevent young people from being exploited and abused. But the prosecutors in each of these cases believes that it is more important to make a moral statement than to enforce the law as it was meant to be enforced. They justify their reprehensible behavior by saying that this is the kind of behavior that young people should not be engaging in. Perhaps not, but that debate is not one for the legal system.

Whenever the legal system and consensual sex cross paths, bad things happen. Injustices like this will continue to occur as long as we continue to believe that the legal system ought to be used to regulate what goes on behind closed doors. Perhaps a young lady's pants is no place for a young man to be going - but it's also no place for prosecutors and judges either.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Is America Ready For This Blog?

Things I can do without: pundits wrestling with the question of "Is America ready for a __________ President?" Insert "woman," "black," or "Mormon" in the blank depending on whether you want a fluff piece on Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or Mitt Romney.

Note to the media here: the only reason we wonder about this question is because you idiots keep asking it. Most people aren't going to go to the polls and say, "well, I would vote for Hillary, but she has tits, so I won't." The reasons for people not liking these candidates range far and wide, but they don't generally have anything to do with their gender, race, or religion. Sure, there are legitimate stereotypes for each of these candidates to overcome, but the reality is that they've already been effective at neutralizing them in the past. All of these candidates have been elected to statewide office. Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts have proven that they're "ready" to elect the best candidate for the job. Why don't you give the rest of America the benefit of the doubt here?

And your Banditos Theorem Update of the Day: A preacher in Portland, ME decided to try to lure anti-Semites to his sermon so he could "show them the light." He published the title of the sermon - "The Only Way To Destroy The Jewish Race" - in the local paper.

The utterly predictable backlash ensued. I think the best part is that he claims he had "no idea" such a backlash would occur. I... I have nothing to say.

And a note on the Edwards blogger flap: the semi-serious rantings of someone hired to work for the Edwards campaign are worse than the semi-serious rantings of Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, or any of the conservative bloggers why? (Or the semi-serious rantings of Sen. James Inhofe, who thinks global warming is a conspiracy perpetrated by the Weather Channel?) Kudos to Edwards for not backing down and firing the poor ladies. Somebody should just put this news cycle out of its misery.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

New Blog

Hey kids. After realizing that I had written a six-page manifesto on the U.S. soccer team's 2-0 win over Mexico, I figured I should start a soccer blog. My US-Mexico running diary is currently over there. Happy trails.

Show Me The Money

I may just be a lowly graduate student, but the Chinese are convinced that I can help them make money. There's a new industry of business self-help books telling Chinese people how to make money "the Jewish way." (There are roughly 10,000 Jews in China, so chances are most of China's 1bn people have no idea what a Jew is. In fact, it seems that a lot of Chinese people are perfectly okay with "Jewish" being a noun.)

Stereotypes are fun. Especially when they're botched as ridiculously as this one. Apparently, there are business secrets in the Talmud. Who knew?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Addendum To Two Posts Ago

Last night I was all worked up over those who conflate anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Today I noticed this article that deals with another of ONAF's frequent issues: immigration. Seems that the recent flap over illegal immigration has energized the crazies. This is worth knowing, but it feels like the article implicitly associates honest opponents of illegal immigration with right-wing bigoted nutcases. This is falling into the same trap as Mr. Rosenfeld from the last post; Tom Tancredo may be the most infamous of the sodomites, but I doubt he's an egregious bigot.

But these two related incidents raise an interesting point: to what extent must reasonable people dismiss the actions of extremists who often share their arguments? My immediate reaction is "absolutely none," but even so I feel like my criticisms of Israel are generally better taken when I mention that I file Hamas under "asshat." And I'm more comforted when proponents of closed borders mention their Latino friends. Why do people discredit arguments because of actions taken by some of their proponents? And do we always have to reassure our interlocutors that we're not associated with the lunatic fringe when we express controversial views?

Floor's open, kids.

(Aside: the article mentions a Houston teen who was beaten and "sodomized" by "White Power"-screaming asshats. I thought for a brief moment that my recoining of the word "sodomy" had finally been adopted before I realized that the reporter probably didn't live in my little world. Alas.)

(Also adding to a recent posts, it looks like we'll be bringing Dempsey, Howard, and Bocanegra across the pond for our match against Mexico tomorrow. The Mexicans will be bringing Borgetti, which worries me because we won't have a big guy like Gooch to take care of him, leaving Bocanegra and Conrad to team up on him. Looks like it'll be a fun game.)


A link titled "Break This Record" on the Guinness Book of World Records page for deadliest terrorist attack? Brilliant!

On second thought, maybe this is actually a good idea. All we have to do is leave the link up long enough for bin Laden to click on it, then follow the IP address trail and nail him.

In fact, in this spirit, I'm proposing the creation of the Opinions Nobody Asked For Terrorist Registry. It'd be kind of like a MySpace for murderous maniacs, an online community where ETA, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and all other wannabe asshats can kibbitz about how to kill themselves in a deadlier fashion. Benefits of membership include an all-expenses-paid one-way trip to Cuba and unlimited tickets for the supersuperfun ride Dick Cheney's Waterboard Express! Membership would be mandatory for all terrorists (seriously, you could get Congress to pass this law - they already tax revenue on drug deals).

Hat tip: Jacob.

Life Imitating Art... Again

I was watching reruns of "Chapelle's Show" on Comedy Central after Colbert tonight, and one of the sketches was the hilarious bit about the blind black man who becomes a white supremacist. I had seen it before, and I personally think it's one of the funniest sketches I've ever seen.

The sketch also reminds me of something the illustrious Mr. Stark told me this weekend. According to this report from Indiana University's Alvin Rosenfeld, I hate Jews.

Wait a minute, my faithful readers are now saying. You're a proud Jew. How the hell can you hate Jews? Mr. Rosenfeld gives us the answer: because I'm often critical of Israel.

Of course, most of the folks who Mr. Rosenfeld accuses of anti-Semitism go beyond my often harsh criticism of Israel's government and policies and criticize Zionism and the existence of the Jewish state itself. His premise is that anti-Zionism is equal to anti-Semitism and that Jews who participate in anti-Zionist activities are as good as anti-Semites. While this premise is understandable since many non-Jews use distaste for Israel as an excuse for anti-Semitism, it remains deeply flawed.

I'll type this slowly: you can dislike Israel and still like Jews. Just as you can think Jesus was a douche and still like Christians. Just as you can hate Los Angeles (as I do) and think Angelenos are, all in all, perfectly swell people (as I do). It is obvious that Mr. Rosenfeld's Jewish identity is so wrapped up in the idea of Israel that the two are almost inextricable. Mr. Rosenfeld has forgotten that being Jewish and being Zionist are two different things. They are often associated with one another, but they are distinct philosophies. It is not contradictory to be Jewish and anti-Zionist, or even Zionist and anti-Jewish (ask Jerry Falwell). To use genetics terms, the Jewish and Zionist genes are linked but there are a significant amount of recombinants.

Mr. Rosenfeld doesn't limit his distaste to people who think Israel should not exist, however. He makes sure to classify every form of harsh criticism of the state from without as "anti-Zionism." He even goes so far as to include Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, one of the more ardently Zionist columnists out there, of being anti-Zionist for criticizing last summer's bombing of southern Lebanon. (Never mind that, at this moment, a debate is raging within Israel about that same military operation.) And other criticisms of Israel as an apartheid state, as an aggressor, or as a cruel occupier also fall under Mr. Rosenfeld's umbrella, even though they are not existential criticisms of the Jewish state but criticisms of the policies of the state (however hyperbolic or absurd these criticisms may be).

The fact is that many anti-Zionist Jews are anti-Zionist because of their Judaism, or at least because of their interpretation of their Judaism. This includes folks such as the ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta, who believe that a Jewish state should not exist until the Messiah has come, and the progressive Jews that so draw Mr. Rosenfeld's ire. To these progressive Jews, distilling Judaism into a state form necessarily forces Jewish values to be compromised. As such, a Jewish state will necessarily, at some point, betray Jewish values. (My own opinion is similar, except that I don't believe that a government necessarily must sacrifice Jewish values to function. I just think Israel all too often falls short of living Jewish values. That doesn't make it evil; it just means there's a lot of room for improvement.)

But that's neither here nor there. The point is that the anti-Zionism Mr. Rosenfeld talks about comes from proud, dedicated, often deeply religious Jews. As a result, anti-Zionism cannot be considered a form of anti-Semitism, and Mr. Rosenfeld's argument falls apart. The most frustrating part of Mr. Rosenfeld's report is that he recognizes this fact and proceeds to draw the conclusion anyway. Mr. Rosenfeld relies heavily on statements from people who love Judaism and take great pride in it, but are repulsed or ashamed by the actions of the Jewish state. It is obvious to the most casual reader that the Jews Mr. Rosenfeld accuses of anti-Semitism are nothing of the sort.

I often whine that a reasoned debate on Israel is impossible in the American Jewish community. It is people like Mr. Rosenfeld that make this so. Until Mr. Rosenfeld and his ilk learn to cool it, quit with the overemotional non-sequitur attacks, and start engaging Jewish critics of Israel as Jews and not as anti-Semites, this will continue to be so. And if we as a community continue to associate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, it will turn our campaign against the latter into self-parody - and that is a real danger.

A caveat - this is not the first time I have been accused of anti-Semitism by an ignorant moron. Some fool apparently wrote a letter to then-Slant editor Mike accusing us of anti-Semitism for a piece I wrote entitled "Study Shows Jews Don't Believe In Jesus." (Honestly, readers, you have no idea how often I get asked about whether I believe in Jesus or not since I'm Jewish. It's mildly disturbing.)

As for Cohen, he responds in his excellent column, which says basically what I'm saying except more eloquently.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Obligatory Sports Post

Prophecy of the day: Bears 38, Colts 35

Things that rule:

- I think I actually saw the phrase "No. 24 Vanderbilt" used on And it wasn't referring to the women's team, which is ranked 15th. (Speaking of said women's team... I don't care who you are, beating a conference opponent 61-34 on the road is pretty sweet.)

- Women's soccer - Four Nations Cup champions. Awesome, especially since it gives our ladies some momentum heading into the World Cup this September. Somewhat unimpressive draw against #1 Germany, but when we're missing Wambach and Lilly it's tough to produce goals. The fact that the attack performed well without them against England and China is definitely encouraging.

- Men's soccer - big game against Mexico on Wednesday. Seeing as how it's in Phoenix (a mere three hours from the border), I wonder what percentage of the fans will be ours. We're going to be without a lot of Europe-based players - I think we'll basically have the same team that spanked Denmark plus Taylor Twellman. In my mind, this game is Bradley's job. If we come out with a strong attack and put up some goals against the Mexicans, I think Bradley sheds that "interim" title. If not, expect Jurgen Klinsmann's phone to be ringing again within minutes of full time.

- My two Premiership teams: Reading at 6th, Fulham at 14th. I'm really impressed by Reading this year. They've played everyone well, including the Big Four (okay, maybe not Arsenal). And Fulham's at least clear of the drop. Bolton and Reading both have a real shot at knocking one of the Big Four (Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool for those of you who aren't soccerheads) out of the Champions League spots. Which would make me very happy.

- After tonight, no more football for seven months. Siiiigh. (And no, the Pro Bowl doesn't count.)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Adventures in Corporate Douchitude

Planning on hosting a Super Bowl party? Hope you don't have a big-screen TV. And I hope you weren't planning on calling it a "Super Bowl" party. And I hope you weren't asking people to help you pay for food.

Because, according to the idiot lawyers at the NFL, all those things infringe on their intellectual property rights - as an Indianapolis church just found out.

Maybe someone with more experience in intellectual property law than me could explain why the NFL thinks private Super Bowl parties are a threat to their intellectual property. I could understand if the church were trying to make money off the game, but seeing as how they obviously aren't, the threatened suit seems ludicrous. Not to mention that it's a horrible PR move.

This is almost as bad as Disney's refusal to allow a British couple to put Winnie the Pooh on their child's gravestone. Because we all know that giving a family what they want for their lost loved one is a threat to Disney's bottom line, right? (Disney, to its credit, went back on the threat when they discovered how much this move made them look like asses.) I came across this in a magazine - when I find a link, I'll send it to you.