I believe congratulations are in order

While doing my daily scan of all things internet, and there are quite a few daily things, my hair-infested blogging anti-matter counterpart, otherwise known as "Jaquandor" (amongst his aliases), noted that he just passed his fourth year of blogging. It staggers the mind how much useless blather must be stored on some poor sap's server, but we must realize that at some future date, it will be turned against the writer. This I promise, so let us keep our vigilance of his blog. What's that you say? He is already suffering from incredible hubris in that same post? I'm shocked, shocked:
    By the way, my current impression is that Byzantium's Shores is one of the oldest Buffalo Blogs in existence. Alex Halavais's blog has sporadic archives dating back to 1994, but the regular archives begin in May of 2002, and I don't know how much of the preceding material can be termed as a "blog" at all (i.e., how much of that was re-cast as blog entries at some later date). Jennifer has been around almost as long as I have, and I'm sure there are others. But four years is a pretty damn long time in Blogistan! That's a lot of books, of movies, of music, of whining about the Bills sucking and the Stupid Patriots not sucking, of wishing the Democrats would get a clue and George W. Bush would just go away, and of writing and meeting cool people. I've gone from maintaining strict pseudonym status to posting tons of photos of myself and attending blog meet-ups. And I've grown about six inches on my hair and added a beard.
I am of course referring to his hair growth and not his claim to have the oldest blog in Buffalo, which, if not true, is likely a contender.

In a completely related story, reading his memoir made me wonder, when did I start this heap? One quick look to the archives revealed a shocking truth -- TODAY is the 3rd anniversary of me publishing my unwanted thoughts for any pajama-wearing, work-slacking, google-searching fool to read them! Let's take a look at what my first blog looked like:
    I'm tired, which is why I am finally taking the time to create a blog. Pressure from Jaquandor finally took over. I may use this site for good, but most likely for evil.
Riveting! Why, it's a page turner, like the first chapter of an even more fantastic novel! It just draws you in and won't let you go! Congratulations are indeed in order to myself, not only for initially caving to the incessant complaining from Jaquandor, not only for blogging on such a sporadic basis that chaos theory claims copyright infringement, not even for picking topics that cater to a crowd most likely to be ostracized from general society. Laud me because you love it, and it makes you feel good to pat someone on the back. Today is my 'back' day.


Flair counts for something

ESPN is doing a little wrap-up on the best stories of the Turino Olympics, and their columnists are sharing their insights on the aftermath. I thought Jim Caple's comments about ill-timed showboater Lindsay Jacobellis were on the money.
    After leading for most of the snowboardcross final race, Lindsey Jacobellis hot-dogged it near the finish line, attempting a trick, and fell, losing her gold medal. I bet she winds up being more famous and making more money for losing the gold than she ever would have by actually winning it.
Neither would I say she doesn't deserve it. From her post game interviews, she comes off as a sincere kid who realizes the mistake and is going to move on with just a little more humility and a lot more savvy.

Spider-Hype 3

Ain't It Cool News posts a link to a possible production photo of one of the speculated villains of Spider-Man 3, which won't be due out until spring, 2007. Since fans of The Phantom Menace pioneered the art of following a film's production-to-completion schedule, no science-fiction or fantasy film has flown under the internet fan's radar. Word is that it is Venom, and this picture sure fits the profile.

Those familiar with the character know that its origins were from a long mini-series arc called Secret Wars, where heroes and villains were whisked away to another planet to do battle with each other. Spider-Man found a suit that appeared to be made of cloth that could mimic either his super-hero guise or street cloths, responding to his mental commands. Ideally 'suited' (heh) for a super-hero's often changing identities, he took the suit back with him to Earth at the conclusion of the series. Unfortunately, it was later discovered that the 'suit' was actually a symbiote who was trying to attach itself to Peter. Thanks to the intervention of the Fantastic Four, the 'suit' was separated from Peter and locked away... until it managed to escape and encountered Eddie Brock, who already had great anger towards Spider-Man. The alien suit and Eddie bonded together and became one of Spider-Man's greatest nemeses.

Now, clearly you can't fit all that into a introductory piece for a two-plus hour movie. So, fan speculation has suggested that it hitches a ride home with John Jameson, J. Jonah's spurned astronaut son. The theory is that Sam Raimi hasn't introduced any throwaway characters yet, and he isn't planning on it. We've already see cameos by the Lizard (Dylan Baker) and Man-Wolf (Jameson himself) in the previous films.So, what isn't there to hype about this next film? We also know that a villain who could only be done with the help of CGI, and one that I've been personally looking forward to, Sandman, is definitely being played by Thomas Haden Church (dressed in his typical striped shirt). And on top of all this, we also have the evolving character arc of the Green Goblin's son, Harry Osborn. At the end of Spider-Man 2, fresh from finding out his best friend is his father's 'killer', his father's ghostly image beckons him to avenge him and then reveals the method from which he could accomplish it. In the comics, Harry does just that, taking up the mantle of the Green Goblin. Speculation has it that he will morph into the Hobgoblin, although that is merging two completely different characters. Not the first time that has happened in the series however -- remember in Spider-Man when the Goblin drops Mary-Jane? That's actually a morph of what happened to Gwen Stacy, who will appear in Spider-Man 3, played by Bryce Dallas Howard.
    Bryce Dallas Howard is in negotiations to play Peter Parker's love interest Gwen Stacy in Columbia Pictures' "Spider-Man 3." Sam Raimi is directing the movie, which is scheduled to roll this month.

    Gwen is pivotal in Spider-Man lore as Peter's high school crush, his first girlfriend and his first love. She ended up being kidnapped by the Green Goblin and died during a bridgetop battle in "Amazing Spider-Man" issue 121.

    In "Spider-Man," Columbia put Mary Jane Watson, a later love interest of Peter's who was a model, in the Gwen role, casting Kirsten Dunst as the high school crush. The movie featured the famous battle on the bridge with the Green Goblin, though a Hollywood ending was added, and the character survived.

    Columbia is keeping a tight lid on the third movie's story line, though it is known that Gwen is the third part of a love triangle and that the character does survive.
So how are Raimi and screenwriter Alvin Sargeant going to do? There are just too many new characters involved to jam them into the movie and have a decent story and a running time of under 4 hours, so I'll speculate that they will turn some of the characters' roles (probably Venom, save him for Spidey 4) into extended cameos so they can make another character-based, tight story. Here's hoping.


Curling's bizarre pull

I can't quite put my finger on what is so fascinating about curling, the Winter Olympic version of shuffleboard. It's long been the gold standard of reference when giving an example of the most boring sport on Earth. Even today, I received an Evite to a party where the 'declining' banner said 'No thanks, I have to watch men's curling'.

Perhaps because it has been on when I'm getting ready for work, but every time I see it on TV, I get drawn in with its soothing broom action and slowly moving stones. My timing is pretty good to get interested, because for this first time in a long while, the US curling team actually has done more than the entire alpine downhill team combined:
    The American men won the bronze by beating Britain 8-6 on Friday in the consolation game, jumping to an early lead and then clinching the victory with a simple draw to the middle of the target in the final end. That put the United States on the medal stand along with more traditional curling powers Finland and Canada, who play later Friday for the Championship.

    Fenson, a Minnesota pizzeria owner, broke into a smile and gave a salute with his broom as his last shot settled into the scoring area. But the victory was especially emotional for teammate Shawn Rojeski ; it was the second anniversary of his mother's death.
    "I knew it was going to be an extremely difficult day for me today," Rojeski said. "This team is extremely satisfied with the way they played today - and for myself, it's that much of a better moment, for sure."

    In addition to being shut out at the three previous Olympics where curling was a medal sport, the American men hadn't medaled at the world championships since 1978.
There are quite a few people who have issues with the sport, because they can't understand the scoring. Here's a good example of scoring. Turns out it's a lot simpler than thought. Unlike a bullseye in archery, the concentric rings are only for distance reference, not gradients of points.

Luckily, thanks to my Star Wars training, I've long since shrugged off criticism of those who deem my interests 'uncool'.


Muhammad upsets UNC, 1-0

Although I have no love for the North Carolina Tar Heels (thanks to my fondness for Duke basketball), I can't believe that some local Muslims are angry over that institution's collegian cartoon depicting, you guessed it, everyone's favorite Martian, Muhammad. Or, maybe I can, considering the amount of recent stupidity. Via LGF, News14 Charlotte reports:
    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The Muslim Students Association at the University of North Carolina on Friday asked the campus' student newspaper to apologize for publishing an original cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

    "The intention of bigotry was clear," the association wrote in a letter to The Daily Tar Heel. "One must question the DTH's ethics in advancing a widely protested issue to cause a riot of their own. The MSA not only found this cartoon derogatory but is also shocked at the editor's allowance of its publication -- one that incites hate in the current political and social context."
    ...The cartoon published in The Daily Tar Heel Thursday was drawn by a cartoonist at the paper, Philip McFee. It shows Muhammad appearing to decry both Denmark's role in the controversy and the violence that has erupted since.

    Daily Tar Heel editor Ryan Tuck said the newspaper wanted to challenge fellow students to think about the issue. He said while he has apologized personally to individuals who told him the cartoon offended, the newspaper will not apologize. "The point of any cartoon in any newspaper is to challenge belief systems," Tuck said. "We knew it would offend, but that doesn't make it the explicit goal of the cartoon."
I can't figure out what is offensive about this cartoon. I think it is a very telling depiction of how some stupid Muslims may think showing Muhammad may be blasphemous, but the same stupid Muslims blowing up things and killing people is more blasphemous to their cause. And at the very least, the Daily Tar Heel had the stones to publish a cartoon when the national media has hidden the images. Well, of course, they should have listened, chimes in Margaret Jablonski, vice chancellor for student affairs at UNC-Chapel Hill:
    "Many of our national media outlets chose not to publish the original pictures or cartoons and we believe our student paper should have used the same editorial judgement," Jablonski said.
Cluck. Pander. Cluck. Bravo, Daily Tar Heel.

Largest Insurance Claim Ever

Definitely wins the award for the most amusing story of the day. Yes, better than the polar bear. Originally, I found it on MSNBC, but in doing research (yes, I am an intrepid reporter), I found an even better version from the AP Wire of the San Jose Mercury News. Frankly, any police officer who mentions Scooby-Doo in their official statement gets a special mention
    MALIBU, Calif. - Authorities were investigating the circumstances behind a spectacular crash on Pacific Coast Highway that destroyed a rare Ferrari Enzo that experts said was worth more than $1 million.

    Tuesday morning's crash occurred when the driver lost control of the exotic, red automobile at high speed and struck a power pole, investigators said. The car - one of only 400 made - disintegrated, with its engine coming to rest on the highway and its wreckage scattered for hundreds of yards.

    Sheriff's investigators identified the owner as Stefan Ericksson, 44, of Bel Air, who escaped the wreckage with only a cut lip. "For $1 million, you get a very good passenger-safety system, and apparently in this case it did work," said Sgt. Philip Brooks of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
    Authorities said Ericksson told them that he was a passenger at the time of the crash and that the driver - a German acquaintance he knew only as Dietrich - ran into the nearby hills. A three-hour foot and helicopter search failed to turn up anyone else connected to the car. Officials said they're skeptical of Ericksson's version of events, according to a report in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times.

    Ericksson had a blood-alcohol level of .09, slightly more than the legal .08 limit, Brooks said. Additionally, only the driver's side air bag deployed and it had blood on it, he noted. "My Scooby-Doo detectives are looking closely into that," Brooks told the Times. "Maybe the 'driver' had a friend who picked him up. Maybe he thumbed a ride. Maybe he was a ghost."

    Ferrari Enzos have a top speed of 200 mph and investigators believe the sports car was traveling at least 100 mph. "And it will probably be a lot more than that once we conclude our investigation," Brooks said.

    Ferrari fanatics said they were devastated by the destruction of the 660-horsepower automobile. The cars were made between 2002 and 2004. "He destroyed one of the finest cars on earth, maybe the finest," said Ferrari owner Chris Banning, a Beverly Hills writer who is finishing a book on the cult of sports car racing along winding Mulholland Drive. "It's like taking a Van Gogh painting and burning it."
Banning sounds like he's about to cry on the internet, and there's just no place for that. Still, I'd be just a little pissed off if some drunk guy and his invisible German pal 'Dietrich' (you think he could have tried harder. Like maybe Olga from Sweden) wrecked a million dollar car.

Bracket Buzz

Andy Katz over at ESPN.com has some interesting behind-the-scenes knowledge on some frequently asked questions about how the committee makes selections for the NCAA tournament bracket. By far the most interesting of the answers for me concerns the seeding and locations, with two of the main venues at Washington and Philadelphia. Villanova and Georgetown could be the two teams that stand to gain the most from the selections.
    1. How do nonprotected teams get seeded geographically?
    A nonprotected tournament team is any team with lower than a top-five seed. What we're looking at here is, can a school like a No. 11- or 12- or 13-seeded Penn play in Philadelphia and ultimately have home-court advantage?

    The answer is that the top five seeds in each region are protected from having a home-court disadvantage in their first-round games. So a No. 11 seed could have a home-court advantage at a site like Philadelphia's Wachovia Center, but any seed lower than that cannot.
Is it too early to get excited about the tournament? Only if you are a curling fan.

Protecting the cubs

I've got a couple of observations about this story, but it's still pretty damn impressive to read about how a mother fought off a polar bear to save her children:
    IVUJIVIK, Quebec — Lydia Angyiou's kids sure won't be giving her much trouble any more, now that they've seen her wrestle a 700-pound polar bear. Angyiou lives in Ivujivik, a village of 300 people on the shore of Hudson Bay in northern Quebec.

    One Wednesday evening earlier this month, Angyiou was walking near the village community center with her two sons when a group of children playing street hockey nearby started shouting and pointing frantically. Angyiou, 41, turned around and saw a polar bear sizing up her 7-year-old son.

    She told the children to run and raced around to get between the bear and her son. Then she started kicking and punching the animal, according to police reports. In a flash, the bear swatted her in the face and she fell on her back. With the bear on top of her, Angyiou began kicking her legs in a bicycle-pedaling motion. She was swatted once more and rolled over, but the bear moved toward her again.

    Siqualuk Ainalik heard the commotion and came rushing over. Seeing Angyiou wrestling with the bear, he ran to his brother's home, grabbed a rifle and headed back to the street. He fired a few warning shots. The sound diverted the bear's attention from Angyiou just long enough for him to aim and fire again. According to police, Ainalik fired four shots into the bear before it finally died.
How many did it take Sawyer on Lost? I suppose this is unusual, but considering where the heck this place is, maybe not. Here's a picture from Google Earth at 30,000 ft.Not much to look at, eh? Here's a shot from an equal height over Arlington, a suburb of Washington, DC.See that big red circle? No, that is not a lava moat, that is where Arlington National Cemetery is located, which is quite visible even from this height. Notice all the roads and pretty buildings, too. Makes me wonder just where in the hell these people are living. Seems like on top of a polar bear's natural habitat. That's probably why ol' Siqualuk had to put 17 bullets into him.


Newest Bond Girl

Cinescape is reporting that the newest Bond girl has been cast.
    Sony Pictures has announced that Eva Green will play British treasury agent Vesper Lynd in CASINO ROYALE. In addition, Jeffrey Wright will play Felix Leiter.

    They join a cast that already includes Daniel Craig, Giancarlo Giannini as Mathis, Caterina Murino as Solonge, Simon Abkarian as Dimitrios, Tobias Menzies as Villiers, Ivana Milicevic as Valenka, Clemens Schick as Kratt, Ludger Pistor as Mendel and Claudio Santamaria as Carlos.
Unlike the 1967 farcical version, it appears that producers are intent in this go-around with re-invigorating the franchise by following the Batman Begin route and starting at the beginning. I think Daniel Craig is ideally suited to play a less refined, more raw Bond in this respect. What's more, Casino Royale will be using the last (seriously) untapped Ian Fleming book as its template. The book is about as straightforward a spy story as you can get, with no super-villains, no world at stake, just some good old fashioned storytelling.Of course, with a 'prequel', as it were, it'll be hard to resist some personal insider and probably comedic touches for all the Bond fans. For instance, wouldn't the audience crack up if he confessed to Felix in an aside moment that he's never really had luck with the ladies? Personally, I'm titillated about the prospects for this film, the first time I've been excited about a Bond film since I was a teenager.

UPDATE: Not everyone agrees.
    A group of James Bond fans have launched a Web site, www.craignotbond.com, to protest British actor Daniel Craig replacing Pierce Brosnan in the 007 film franchise, and boycott the upcoming Bond movie “Casino Royale.”
So go cry in a corner.


70 Virgins or 70 gold pieces, whatever

Well, it didn't take long for a crack-whore representative of the fundaterrorists to up the ante. No longer content with their wacky revenge scheme of 'renaming bread', a Pakistani Cleric (can't hear that word without thinking of Dungeons and Dragons) has announced a new and bloodier plot:
    PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A Pakistani Muslim cleric said Friday that he and supporters were offering rewards of more than $1 million for killing Danish cartoonists who drew caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

    Maulana Yousef Qureshi, a cleric in the northwestern city of Peshawar, said during Friday prayers that he personally had offered to pay a bounty of 500,000 rupees ($8,400), while a jewelers association was putting up $1 million, and others were offering $17,000 plus a car.

    Qureshi repeated the offer at rally later in the city to protest against the cartoons. "If the West can place a bounty on Osama bin Laden ... we can also announce reward for killing the man who has caused this sacrilege of the holy prophet," Qureshi told Reuters, referring to the $25 million U.S. bounty on the al-Qaida leader's head.

    He apparently did not realize that 12 cartoonists, not one, drew the drawings that have led to protests across the Muslim world.
Well, obviously the man is not well-educated or well-read. (I am giving him the benefit of the doubt that he can read.) Certainly, he appears to like to speak before getting the facts. But that wouldn't matter to a fundaterrorist anyway, so what can be learned from this newest bounty?

Well, I take it as a sign that their methods are breaking down and the lure of their ludicrous campaigns aren't as attractive anymore. What's more, the Danish cartoons are working! The cartoon I posted here says it all. The fundaterrorists believe that their own ridiculous recruiting scheme of promising 72 virgins to every infidel killer has been exposed. So, they resort to the ol' fashioned greed angle to accomplish God's will. Ah, hypocrisy never felt so good.


Dick Cheney's Duck Hunt

Dick Cheney didn't blame his buddy for getting shot. Great notion. The late night talk shows will have joke fodder for the next month on that one. Now, feel free to check out Dick Cheney's Duck Hunt. Ouch.

How do I kill the bunny with these claws?

One of my favorite and probably most repeatedly watched movies of the 90's, Swingers, is going to have a 10th-anniversary reunion this year. (Damn, has it been that long?):
    The U.S. Comedy Arts Festival announced Monday that its centerpiece showcase next month will be a 10th-anniversary celebration of the 1996 film “Swingers,” which made “money” the coinage of cool. The festival, set to run March 8th-12th in Aspen, Colo., will reunite the film’s cast — Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau (who also wrote the movie) and Ron Livingston...

    The film was ahead of its time, Favreau said, setting the stage for the type of comedy found in more recent box office hits “Old School” and “Wedding Crashers.”

    “Now it seems all so familiar, but at the time it was cutting edge and we were grouped with all that independent film stuff,” Favreau said. But, he continued, “Vince and I and [director] Doug Liman too, and Ron, we’ve hit the mainstream as we’re closing in on 40 years old and now we’re the system.”
Besides launching the careers of John Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Ron Livingston, and uber-director Doug Liman, for better or worse the film inadvertently spurring the resurgence of swing music. The film deserves its cult status as a funny, light, edgy romp through one man's newfound single status and his friend's attempts to show him how's he's so money. Beyond that, aside from being credited with infusing the phrase 'You're so money' into the American lexicon, the film is as fresh today as it was when it became a sleeper hit in 1996. Still an occasional staple of the late-night DVD viewing.


Pow! Slam! Bang!

Pow! Slam! Bang!
It's been a while since I've purchased a comic book, but I still do get the occasional graphic novel. (The last one I got was Hellboy.) I can't help but be titillated by the news that Frank Miller, the revered author of the acclaimed Dark Knight Returns story, is in the middle of writing a new graphical novel where Batman battles the fundaterrorists:
    During his WonderCon panel, Frank Miller discussed his next graphic novel. Once again, Miller returns to the world of the Batman, this time with Holy Terror, Batman!. Though the title plays with Robin's classic catchphrase, the book deals with a serious subject. Gotham has been attacked by Al Qaeda and Batman sets out to defend the city he loves. The book, which Miller has inked through 120 pages, is expected to run roughly 200 pages total...

    The reason for this work, Miller said, was "an explosion from my gut reaction of what's happening now." He can't stand entertainers who lack the moxie of their '40s counterparts who stood up to Hitler. Holy Terror is "a reminder to people who seem to have forgotten who we're up against."

    It's been a long time since heroes were used in comics as pure propaganda. As Miller reminded, "Superman punched out Hitler. So did Captain America. That's one of the things they're there for... These are our folk heroes. It just seems silly to chase around the Riddler when you've got Al Qaeda out there."
His timing couldn't have been better. Imagine that, a cartoonist who is going to stick to his guns. It may be interesting to see when this comes out what the fundaterrorist reaction will be. Maybe they will rename Batman "Muhammed's Big Gumby Snack" (see their renaming prowess below). Via Wretchard.

Victory is Mine

Radical leftist pundit and general flatulence expert Jaquandor has somehow graciously included me on his somewhat-weekly list called Sentential Links, a series of hyperlinks to blog passages he found interesting. I have to admit that I glance over these now and again, and wonder when the next time I'll get an honorable mention. Since I do the vast majority of posting at work, my output greatly depends on my workload. Anyone familiar to this site knows the random frequency of my blogging (actually a function of the Fibonacci sequence, but that's just a tease) in addition to their banal nature would hardly ever merit getting a notice. Well, this week the bell tolls not for thee, but for me!

Must have hit too close to home to get her all riled up like that, huh, kid?

Perhaps a bit jovially out of context considering the current continued overreaction of Muslim fundaterrorists, but I was reminded of the famous Han Solo quote. (Of course the analogy stops there. If Han Solo is the sane people of the world, and Leia is the fundaterrorists, who does Luke represent when she plants a kiss on him? Considering they are related, could it be the fundachristians? Oooh, sounds like a mini-series! This is how my mind works, and it can be scary.) This time, not only have some Pakistani's insulted our national chicken, but the Iranians have decided to rename some yeast:
    TEHRAN, Iran - Not content with pelting European embassies with Molotov cocktails to protest against cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, Iranians have decided to rename the "Danish pastries" relished by this nation of cake lovers.

    From now on, the sweet, flaky pastries which dominate the shelves in Iran’s cake shops will be known as "Roses of the Prophet Muhammad," the official IRNA news agency reported as pressure on Denmark over the cartoons took on a new dimension.

    "No one is allowed to make fun of our beloved and respected prophet," Hassan Nasserzadeh, a cake shop owner in central Tehran, told Reuters.
And the surest way to make that happen is to name some pastry after him. Of course, finally, no one will be able to make fun of our love of the flaky, sweet goodness each morning. Praise these roses! Thank goodness the violence has died down and the Iranians have resorted to the stupidest gesture since the Freedom Fries, though at least the name change in that case still described what you were eating.

So, in that vein, in case you didn't catch any of the cartoons that "started" (not really started; I pointed to evidence that was a ruse a few days ago), this thing, at the right is my favorite. It is a hilarious political commentary on the commonly believed incentives given to fundaidiots to commit their acts of barbarism. Their Danish pastry makeover is the signal is that they finally got the joke. Let us rejoice in their newfound mastery (and sly mockery of the USA's own patriotic zealotry -- you guys!) of humor and look forward to their renaming of the Great Dane. (Based on their first attempt, I'm guessing the dog will be called "Muhammed's Beloved Red Stapler.")


Flying Red Tomato triumphant

I was thrilled to watch Shaun White win his first gold medal in the half-pipe at the age of 19 last night. That kid can sure get up in the air and perform some amazing acrobatics. Thanks to having been in endorsement deals since he was 13, and of course being the best in his sport (and damn near that level at skateboarding, too), he's already a millionaire. However, I like him best of all because of his attitude, which reminds me of a friend from college. Often described as a free spirit or laid back, Shaun brings an infectious relaxed and down-to-earth personality to center stage. What's more, he's pretty damn witty. His responses to some of the interview questions on NBC's site had me openly chuckling at work today:
    On how the world's greatest skateboarder, Tony Hawk, is always accessible whenever White phones: "Actually, he's just all, 'Shaun, why are you calling me? It's three in the morning. Go to bed.'"

    On the difference between the 15 year-old Shaun White who failed to qualify for the Olympics by three-tenths of a point and the present-day Shaun White, who is 5-foot-8, 140 pounds and is commonly mistaken for Carrot Top: "I think that the biggest difference from when I was 15 to now is, I just, I didn't have ... these chiseled features that you see now. ... I'm a lot older. And let's face it, much better-looking."

    On purchasing an expensive car before he had a driver's license: "We walk into the Lexus dealership. And I'm, like …wearing my skate clothes. Like, I probably have my skateboard with me. They're like, 'What is this guy thinking?' And I went to go do my first test drive. I didn't have my license yet. I had like a paper license. Because I had just got it at the DMV. And so I was like, 'Hey, can I test-drive it?' And they're like, the first three guys said, 'No.' And then they're like, 'Well, maybe Dan will take him out'. And Dan's, like, just got finished drinking in the back."

    On being able to hob-nob with celebrities: "The funniest part is you end up seeing someone and you always want to call them their names from the movies that you've seen them in. Like, what's the guy who's on 'ER' (Anthony Edwards)? And I ... I called him 'Goose' when I saw him. From Maverick. Or Top Gun. I was like, 'I thought you died. What happened?'"

    On why he wants to compete in the Olympics: "I'm gonna get so many babes."
Congratulations to a great competitor, a funny kid, and hopefully a refreshing presence in sports for years to come.

An Angry Response

My old friend and future participant in our Burr-Hamilton-type duel, Jaquandor had a few comments about my feeling that talking political trash at a funeral is poor form. Not satisfied his point was made, he then declared in his blog that he doesn't "give a shit" about what "the Right" (am I included in that?) thinks about the left's funeral procedure. And then goes on about it for 700 words or so, all the while not giving a shit.

Jaq does his best whining and crying about Republican faux pas, I guess mostly because he perceived my opinion as being "deaf to Republican crying and whining". Hardly the case, and hardly the point, although I did get a good chuckle out the picture of Chaney in his snowboarding gear at Auschwitz. (Or, in retrospect, was that hunting gear?) Maybe it was because he needed to get off his chest a list of righty 'jerk' moments, like this one:
    Of course, deconstructing Democratic behavior at funerals is nothing new -- Rush Limbaugh had a great time with a five-second video clip of Bill Clinton daring to chuckle after Ron Brown's funeral in 1996. This is, apparently, still an accepted truth on the Right, where the inner workings of Democratic souls are open for all to see, apparently.
Honestly, don't remember this at all, but now I will use it to grind what remains of Clinton into the mud. Thanks! Jaq's clearly partisan response is worth a read, because I think one should know both sides of an issue, and if possible be prepared to debate equally on both angles (Plus, playing devil's advocate is fun!), although it does come off as something of an angry rant. Unless you picture him smiling with the broadness of a maniac and a gleam in his eye. Then it's just creepy.


Cartoonist Ruse Exposed

The Belmont Club points to great blog by an Egyptian, Sand Monkey, who shows proof that all this outrageous hoopla over the Danish cartoons is nothing more than a completely contrived political tactic.
    Freedom For Egyptians reminded me why the cartoons looked so familiar to me: they were actually printed in the Egyptian Newspaper Al Fagr back in October 2005. I repeat, October 2005, during Ramadan, for all the egyptian muslim population to see, and not a single squeak of outrage was present. Al Fagr isn't a small newspaper either: it has respectable circulation in Egypt, since it's helmed by known Journalist Adel Hamoudah. Looking around in my house I found the copy of the newspaper, so I decided to scan it and present to all of you to see.

    Now while the arab islamic population was going crazy over the outrage created by their government's media over these cartoons, their governments was benifitting from its people's distraction. The Saudi royal Family used it to distract its people from the outrage over the Hajj stampede. The Jordanian government used it to distract its people from their new minimum wage law demanded by their labor unions. The Syrian Government used it to create secterian division in Lebanon and change the focus on the Harriri murder. And, finally, the Egyptian government is using it to distract us while it passes through the new Judiciary reforms and Social Security Bill- which will cut over $300 million dollars in benefits to some of Egypt's poorest families. But, see, the people were not paying attention, because they were too busy defending the prophet by sending out millions of e-mails and SMS-messages, boycotting cheese and Lego and burning Butter and the danish Flag. Let's not even mention the idiots who went the usual route of "It's a jewish conspiracy", spouted the stupid argument about the Holocaust, or went on a diatribe with the old favorite "There is an organized campaign-headed by the west and the jews- to attack and discredit Islam, and we have to defend it". They proved, once again, that the arab world is retarded and deserves no better than its leaders.
In perusing some of Sand Monkey's posts, one that struck me as pretty insightful and funny was a recent post where he urged his fellow Muslims to stop being retarded. One of the reasons he gave is the following, which I 100% agree with:
    2) This will accomplish nothing, except getting more people pissed at muslims: Given that the " we are outraged" movement has decided to go all out with their speeches, it was inevitable that some crazy hotheads decided to issue death threats against the newspaper and the cartoonists. Yes, cause nothing says we are peacefull tolerant people like death threats and boycotting a whole country. I've yet to see a single christian group get mad at the Rolling Stones for having Kanye West depicting Jesus on their cover, and you know why? because they understand that there is something called free speech and freedom of expression. That it's not always pleasant. That some people will try to provoke a reaction out of you by offending you with something like this. And you know what? Muslims fall for it every single time and then the crazy bastards amongst them go all the way and do something stupid. Like the Van Gogh murder in 2004. Remember how good that made us look in Holland? What? You want to go through that whole thing again, and drag us with you for the ride? Thanks but no thanks moron. Our reputation is already bad as it is, and we don't need anymore help sullying it.
That says it all. The world is populated by governmental and fundamental leaders who use the uneducated, easily fooled peasants for their own purposes. Over there, there are a lot more uneducated zealots who have no access to any other information than their daily fatwas. It's dictator and terrorist heaven! I don't know if we'll see this disappear in my lifetime, but the information highway is the way to win the hearts and minds of these poor people. As long as the service isn't provided by Google's China site.

She was a great person, oh and by the way, YOU SUCK!!

I don't normally get involved in politicking on this site, but if you can turn a memorial service into a public nipple-tweaking, then I can have some leeway. Jaquandor posted his comments ("Exactly.") to a Matthew Yglesias opinion about the remarks made by the democratic friends of Correta Scott King. Here's Matt's blurb:
    Just a quick rhetorical question on the Corretta Scott King funeral "controversy" -- wtf? When we honor a recently dead person, we always leave it up to the judgment of the deceased's close friends and families to use their best judgment as to how that person would want his or her life to be commemorated. Since when did these arrangements come to be subjected to criticism by random pundits? I hope to God that if through some misfortune I drop dead tomorrow, the organizers of my funeral won't shy away from mentioning the small matter of the political causes I've spent my entire (and admittedly brief) professional career fighting for.

    The only reason the general public cares about King's funeral is that she was a political person. She fought for political causes. Not only for in-retrospect-uncontroversial ones like "black people should be allowed to vote," but for issues that continue to be contentious today. Did the Bush administration not overrule the opinion of professional lawyers that the Texas re-redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act? Did they not file a brief encouraging the Supreme Court to restrict affirmative action in college admissions? Do we think King approved of that? Did she expend no small effort in recent years to support gay rights and oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment? Did the Bush administration not support the FMA? Should we really pretend all this never happened to avoid tweaking the sensibilities about Republican politicians?
My first reaction when I heard the remarks made by the Joe Lowery and Jimmy Carter was strong and immediate. I felt embarrassed for everyone at the memorial for their unbelievably rude behavior. At this time you should be remembering the person being put to rest, not using it as a chance to get a few of your own cheap shots in to further your agenda. It was crude, juvenile, and seriously pathetic. What's worse, is by taking the low ground, you actually make George W. Bush looks classy and sympathetic. What an achievement that is! CNN analyst Jeff Greenfield provided some commentary and a little more insight into this angle during an on-air interview:
    GREENFIELD: Back in 2002, shortly before the election, Senator Wellstone was killed in a plane crash. And at the memorial service, a number of political people made the point to honor Paul Wellstone's memory, vice president -- ex-vice president Mondale who was running in the state should be elected. There were also -- there was some booing, apparently, not that much, directed at some Republican senators there.

    It became an article of faith on the political right that this had become a real ugly moment, when partisanship replaced memorials. After the funeral yesterday, Kate O'Beirne, a prominent conservative writer, said liberals don't know how to keep politics out of their funerals.

    And on the Daily Kos, which is a site from the left, the argument was these conservatives had nothing to do with civil rights, they have no right to lecture us.

    O'BRIEN: Well, let's talk about this, because when you talk about a Wellstone moment, timing is an awful lot in politics. And the timing there very different than here.

    GREENFIELD: Absolutely. That memorial service happened literally three or four days before the election. And there was a backlash to it that may have helped the Republicans take that Senate seat.

    We're now in early February. The idea that this is going to have some political implication, you have to really be overcommitted to endless analysis.

    I do, however, think that in a more subtle way, this actually rebounds to the credit of President Bush. I mean, he came to the funeral, changed his plans, made a gracious speech. And I think for people who are not politically committed -- I mean, if you don't like George Bush, this was fine. If you like George Bush, this was horrible.

    I think for a lot of people the idea is, do you really do this at a funeral?
While listening to some talk radio last night, the host (I don't recall his name) postulated that about 40% of America is going to vote Democrat no matter what next election and about 40% is going to vote Republican regardless of the candidate. The remaining 20% (not a scientific figure!) is the swing vote of politics, and where elections are really decided. I agree with this assessment of the political landscape, and frankly I'm part of that 20%, although I do have more leanings toward the right. One of the many reasons that I lean towards the right in the last five years is that I perceive the democrats to be the complaining party. Whine, whine, complaining, cry. Over and over. I'm not sure what they thought would happen when taking political jabs at a funeral, but they clearly hadn't thought the matter through. Once again, their inability to hold back the whining has left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, and a lean towards the dark side.


Upset of the Year

One of the few highlights of this 'SuperBowl Swirl' weekend was the unforseen upset of #6 Illinois at home by the visiting Nittany Lions. I was on my way out, and down by over 10 (at one point, 16 in the second half) to a superior team that had the longest home-court winning streak in the nation (at 33), I figured the game was a lock. Like quite a few other games where we played a ranked team this year (this was our fifth ranked team played in a row), we looked good and played with them, but couldn't close it out. This time didn't look like it would be any different, so I headed out to avoid being disappointed again.

Of course, no one could have predicted (no, not even me) that the Lions would crawl back into a tie, and then go toe-to-toe with the Illini over the last three minutes, trading clutch shot after clutch shot, until finally the Illini failed to get off the last game-winning shot by so close a margin, it was only called off on video replay.

The game even elevated lowly Penn State to mention in the ESPN weekly watch, where Doug Gottlieb put in his case for this game being the upset of the year:
    Penn State pulled off what, in my mind, should be considered the upset of the year in college basketball. I know North Dakota State beat Wisconsin at Kohl, but the Badgers were limited by injury/suspension, they shot the ball terribly and, frankly, this is not a very good Badger team in comparison (they have now lost five of six).

    Illinois, on the other hand, was a red-hot ballclub that thumped Wisconsin at Kohl earlier in the week. The Illini shot 49 percent in the loss and, like Iowa, play at an incredible level when in front of the home fans. Yet Penn State, which coming into this year had not won a Big Ten road game (it beat Purdue at Mackey this year) since 2001, came from 16 points down to shock the world.
Congrats to Ed DeChellis and someone tell Ben Luber (as DeChellis did in the timeout before the final play): Never leave the inbounder!