Friday, June 29, 2007

NBA Draft

1. The Trailblazers did some great work on draft night, but you have to think there is at least some risk that Steve Francis could pull the whole thing down in flames.

2. Seattle took serious advantage of Boston. If Durant and Green become Jordan and Pippen, then Danny Ainge moves ahead of the guy (Rod Thorn I think) who selected Bowie over Jordan.

3. It's amazing to watch a draft, here all the talk, and still know that no more than 1/3 of these guys will be good pros.

4. The Warriors got two guys who fit Nellie's style perfectly. That style may never win a championship, but it's certainly fun to watch.

5. If the Suns end up not giving Amare Stoudemire away to get KG, they should send the Hawks a thank you note. I love KG, but you just don't trade away a 1st team All-NBA player who is under 25. For anyone, ever.

A Bit More About D.C.

Our capitol is a great town. It's beautiful, the people are friendly, and you can get from one place to another easily. I wish Kansas City was big and dense enough for a rail system to really work. Maybe it's because I am around them so little, but every time I get an opportunity to use a subway I love it.

Good food in D.C. as well. I ate lunch three days straight in Chinatown. I don't really understand the inverse relationship between food quality and restaurant cleanliness, but I'm happy to take advantage of it.

The same cannot be said for my experience at the French Embassy. I stayed near Embassy Row, so I was used to walking down the street near all these beautiful old houses that had been converted into embassies. Really stunning classical buildings. So I was very excited when I found out I was going to a reception at the French Embassy. The French have money and usually pretty good taste, so they probably have one the best embassies of all right? Wrong. The had some post-modern marble and concrete structure tucked in north of Georgetown. It felt like the kind of place you might go if you were in a movie about the sterility of the future. I was sure that a cyborg waiter would chastise me for impure thoughts at any moment.

The rest of the city was still great. It's amazing how difficult it is to be cynical standing in front of the Declaration of Independence. It's also amazing how quickly you can snap back to form when you step outside and see CNN running on a TV monitor.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Trip to the Nation's Capitol

I returned late last night from a four day trip to D.C. I did not see Dick Cheney, but I only looked at the Capitol and the executive offices. I found out while I was there that he isn't actually a part of either.

And while the Dark Lord was no doubt trying to amass even more power, all I saw was a couple of Congressmen trying to give theirs back. Mrs. AA and I got House passes from the polite but eerily somber folks at Emmanuel Cleaver's office. After traversing the 28 or so security checkpoints and divesting ourselves of mostly everything we were carrying we arrived in the House Chamber.

What we found was the Speaker Pro Tem in charge and two Congressmen orating from the floor. There were also a couple of women carrying papers from one desk to another and then transferring them yet again. In the back of the room, three pages conducted a possibly high stakes game of rock, paper, scissors. Another page was napping across the way. The Congressional Reporter typed quickly but surprisingly calmly.

The two orators were taking the end of the Congressional week to remind the Speaker Pro Tem, the paper shufflers, the three non-comatose pages, the reporter, we upper-level gawkers, and anyone with a lot of time and CSPAN exactly what the founding fathers really meant when they put pen to paper over 200 years ago. Congressman Rob Bishop of Utah and Congressman Scott Garrett of New Jersey explained that Congress has (since the damn dirty New Deal went into place) greatly usurped authorities not granted to it by the Constitution. There are presumably many such usurpations, but the Congressmen were primarily (i.e. only) concerned with spending.

To make the case they invoked Constitutional heavyweights Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Rush Limbaugh, and George Burns. In fact, George Burns provided the tag line for the speech with his "Say goodnight Gracie" punchline. Congressman Bishop used the punchline to illustrate several points, not the least of which was how unhip his students were because they don't know George Burns.

Davy Crockett and some farmer were also integral in the speech. The farmer apparently schooled Congressman Crockett on the Constitution, prompting Crockett persuade Congress not to help a military widower. Representative Bishop guessed that you could call Crockett a conservative. I guess that he's right, and I also guess you could call Baghdad a really big Alamo.

This really wasn't a Constitution speech. It was an anti-pork-barrel speech. You might assume a real reminder of the limits of Congressional power granted by the Constitution would touch on several more issues than local spending. On the other hand, you might also assume that a guy reminding everyone about the evils of pork might not have these headlines on his Congressional homepage:

Bishop Secures Millions for Utah Defense Projects

Bishop Announces $2.5 Million Grant for Ogden Airport

Bishop Bill for Park City Open Space Passes House

You might also guess that the other guy in the speech wouldn't be boasting about "securing funding" to help old people and only old people. But you obviously aren't a Congressman. If you were (and if you are please help out here) you would be able to decipher this statement:

"If we truly understand what it means to establish justice, we have to understand the Framers hope to curb the excesses of the State governments, just the way patriots today have to curb the excesses of our national government. So Federalism means we forget the concept of establishing justice."

I guess I need to watch more CSPAN.

(I got off track here. More about DC later.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

We Are Not Pleased

Americans are not feeling good about the way things are going.

We like the military, small businesses, and the police. Everything else sucks.

Not only that, but it all sucks worse than it did last year.

Apparently, not everyone has been reading The Secret.

We Love Murder, We Just Don't Want to Pay For It

From Crooks and Liars:

Following up on John’s item from yesterday on Bush’s stem-cell veto, I found Tony Snow’s defense of the White House policy rather alarming.

“The President also has never declared it against the law to engage in embryonic stem cell research — he simply thinks it involves, as do many other people, the taking of a human life.”

See? Bush hasn’t banned murder, he’s just blocked some funding for taxpayer-subsidized murder. Privately-funded murder is still fine, and entirely consistent with the president’s values and commitment to a culture of life. Snow added:

“To the extent that there is embryonic stem cell research, it’s being done not because Bill Clinton made it possible, but because George W. Bush made it possible.”

Yes, moments after describing the research as “taking of a human life,” Snow bragged about Bush’s support for the research.

Is a little coherence too much to ask?

I actually feel a little sorry for Tony Snow. Can you imagine having to stand up there and defend things that you know make no sense whatsoever? I bet he misses the old FOX days when he got to ask the questions.


This is Bradley Schlozman. In case you don't know who he is, here is a small summation out of the Washington Post:

Schlozman ordered supervisors to tell the women that they had performance problems or that the office was overstaffed. But one lawyer, Conor Dugan, told colleagues that the recent Bush appointee had confided that his real motive was to "make room for some good Americans" in that high-impact office, according to four lawyers who said they heard the account from Dugan.

Not only is Schlozman a political hack and a goofus who can't help but boast about stuff he should keep quiet, but he is also a poster child for the goatee.

There are goateed men out there of impeccable nature, but why do goatees seem so highly correlated with B-squad weaselry?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Icky Thump

Have you ever heard a dueling banjo number only instead of banjos the duel is between an electric guitar and a mariachi trumpeter? Well, listen to the new White Stripes album Icky Thump and you will. Rhapsody reviewer Nick Dedina describes as follows:

""Conquest" casts images of Iron Butterfly disrupting the patrons at a Mexican restaurant."

You'll also hear bagpipes, silliness, and the rockinest set of songs the Stripes have put out since 2002.

The album may not be everybody, but it is for me.

Why Not?

Joe Posnanski asks some reasonable questions:

The Royals and just about every Royals fan knew before the game started that Elarton was going to pitch approximately the way he pitched. So the question is: Why are the Royals starting Scott Elarton in a game?

More to the point: Why do the Royals even use five starters? Why don’t they break away from the pack and return to the four-man rotation?

One reason would be that it seems we lose an inordinate amount of pitchers to injury already, and we don't want the same to happen to the 2 1/2 decent starters we have now. On the other hand, it's not like we're just on the cusp of 1st place either.

Why not experiment a little?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Staying Power

Best Albums lists are difficult. Do I simply pick my favorites? Ones that I think have some objective qualities? Does influence matter? Studio Albums only? All-time or right now? You get the idea.

So I like to find other ways to categorize good stuff. One that came to mind this weekend was CD's that never leave my case. I decided that a CD would have to be at least 5 years old to qualify for the list. So the list is...

CD's That Have Been in My Carrying Case for At Least 5 Years Consecutively and Remain There Today (in no parituclar order)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits
Pearl Jam Vitalogy
Weezer (Blue Album)
Radiohead OK Computer
Dallas Jones The Morelock Sessions
Digable Planets Reachin...
The White Stripes De Stijl
Charlie Parker Ken Burns Jazz
Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
The Clash London Calling
Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde

Two CD's old enough to qualify, but that I did not get until later are Spoon's Kill the Moonlight and the first disc from The Rolling Stones' 40 Licks.

There are several other discs that have come to the world since 2003 and seem destined to make this list. If the blog is still around in a year's time, I'll update.


Last night on the local NBC affiliate there was a story about a guy who was arrested for assault or murder or something. I missed what happened exactly because I was marveling at the fact that although the news anchor was telling me that his name was something Walker, the caption above his mug shot read Bluto Blutarsky.


Player Rater Update

After a 6-3 homestand, the Royals are looking better. The improvement is most pronounced in the previously referred to Player Ratings on

In fact in one week we're down to one guy who isn't in the top 30 at his position.

Here is how it plays out:

C John Buck 5th
1B No Score
2B Esteban German 22nd
3B Alex Gordon 24th
SS Tony Pena 28th
LF Emil Brown 24th
CF David DeJesus 7th
RF Mark Teahen 12th
DH Mike Sweeney 10th (AL Only)

Apparently, scoring 17 runs twice in a few games moves you up in the world.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Good Americans

There is quite a bit of knuckleheadedness being reported today.


"Bradley J. Schlozman is systematically attempting to purge all Civil Rights appellate attorneys hired under Democratic administrations," the lawyer wrote, saying that he appeared to be "targeting minority women lawyers" in the section and was replacing them with "white, invariably Christian men." The lawyer also alleged that "Schlozman told one recently hired attorney that it was his intention to drive these attorneys out of the Appellate Section so that he could replace them with 'good Americans.'"


Goodling's account attracted attention partly because Gonzales had told Congress that he could not remember numerous details about the prosecutors' dismissals because he had purposely avoided discussing the issue with other potential "fact witnesses."


He (Jon Stewart) rolled video of Snow from March 15, saying: “It’s pretty clear that these things are based on performance and not on sort of attempts to do political retaliation, if you will.”

Stewart then rolled video from Wednesday's briefing, at which a reporter asked Snow: "At the beginning of this story, the President, you, Dan Bartlett, others said on camera that politics was not involved, this was performance-based, but --"

Snow's reply: "No, that is something -- we have never said that."


I try not to watch a lot of TV. Fortunately, television producers seem intent on making that task much easier. Scrolling through a nightly lineup of what's on is an affirmation that life is short and you need to get out and enjoy it.

Somewhat relatedly:

Are there scarier people on the planet than those little girl beauty contestants?

What if their parents are ineligible?

How does Mr. Peanut keep his monacle on while he plays all those sports?

How is it possible that I don't know anyone who has appeared on a reality show?

Why do I have such a sense of pride about that?

When did undershirts go out of style?

Do weathermen spend all day working on new tricks for the weather computer?

Why don't they ever do the same trick twice?

Why is it that the county courthouse and the airport look exactly the same live at 5 am?

If crab fisherman is the most dangerous job, what number is camerman filming crab fishermen?

Did you know that American Gladiators episodes are on ESPN classic?

How did Charlie Rose keep a straight face talking to Tom Delay?

Why can I see only like 1/8 of Royals games on TV?

Why do I care?

Why is manipulation of a spouse through bribery of a child such an attractive advertising plot line?

Did ABC draw the names for who would announce the NBA finals out of a hat?

Do you kind of miss Bob Costas and Marv Albert a little bit?

Is there a special news wire for local broadcasts that focuses on house fires around the country?

Is it possible that television not only adds pounds but also makes people looking for love seem more desperate?

Isn't talking to you grandchild about your impending cholesterol test kind of opening a can of worms?

Very Disappointing

As I mentioned before, I was mostly excited about this NBA finals because I wanted the NBA to make a good impression on the people I know that bag on it all the time. I thought Lebron might get them to tune in and show them something spectacular.

I can now only hope that no one saw even a minute of this series and based any kind of NBA opinion on it. This series was "press covering O'Donnell vs. Trump" ugly.

I've seen several people suggest that this once for all makes the case that the playoffs shouldn't be East vs. West because that can so often result in the best series coming before the finals. I don't know. Baseball and football deal with this same situation, and it never seems to be a problem. That could very well be because it is harder to recognize the utter domination of one team over another in baseball, and it's all over in one game in football.

Anyway, the idea of changing the playoff setup somewhat messes with my sense of history. On the other hand, I would like to see a more exciting playoffs for once. Bill Simmons has a restructuring idea that I could get behind. I particularly like the bottom of the standings play-in.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Those of us rooting for the against the Pistons because we believed a Detroit-San Antonio finals would be boring should probably consider this series a lesson learned.

Yes, style of play matters. But grossly mismatched opponents are what really create unwatchable games.

Monday, June 11, 2007

There's Not Good...

And then there is this. ESPN has a new player ratings tool that was developed with the consultation of the Elias Sports Bureau and MIT. You still have to be careful what conclusions you draw from it - unless the conclusion is that the Royals are terrible because they have bad players.

According to the inaugural set of rankings (which by their nature will change daily) David DeJesus is the 9th best center fielder in the league. He is the only position player better than at least half of his counterparts.

John Buck is the 17th best catcher and Mark Teahen is the 21st ranked right fielder. After that it gets ugly. Here are the rest of the Royals starting position players and their rank.

1B Shealy 46th
2B Grudzielanek 37th
SS Pena 33rd
3B Gordon 39th
LF Brown 41st

If you didn't already catch the significance, the list above signifies that 2 major league teams have a better backup shortstop than our starter, 6 major league teams have a better backup second basemen than our starter, 8 major league teams have a better backup third basemen than our starter, 10 major league teams have a better backup left fielder than our starter, and an unbelievable 15 teams (half the league) have a better backup third baseman than our starter.

Our DH and team captain did not even merit a score (though to be fair, only 10 DH's did).

Things were a little better in regards to starting pitching. Gil Meche was 25th. Brian Bannister was 51st. Jorge De La Rosa was 91st. If you figure every 30 players as a spot in the rotation then we have a pitcher at least close to fitting into each slot. Granted they are all towards the bottom of their slots, but had this statistic been taken last year I doubt we would have had a single pitcher in the top 60.

Not quite as encouraging in regards to relief pitching. The lone Royal on the list is Joel Peralta. He is 56th of the 75 ranked relievers. We didn't really need proof that the bullpen was suspect though.

One caveat to all of this is that record is taken into account. This means Royals players start out in the statistical hole. On the other hand the Texas Rangers are the only team behind the Royals in the standings and the best possible lineup they can put on the field (including the DH) registers a score of 111.8. The Royals come up just a bit short of that - they score a 49.3.

Creation Museum

I'm sure you've heard about it by now. Here are a couple of my favorite pertinent quotes:

From a blogger who chronicled his attendance of the museum (and took lots of pictures):

The wise white paleontologist doesn’t need that whole “carbon-dating” bullshit, for he only needs the Bible to tell him how old these fossils are. Meanwhile, the Asian paleontologist uses all that so-called “logic”, “reason” and “scientific method” to come to the ridiculous conclusion that these fossils are from many millions of years ago. Whatever, Confucius! Put down those science books and pick up the Bible, that’s all you need to get to the truth!

From the May 31st issue of The Economist:

The debate about the origins of everything is presented even-handedly. Some people trust God, accept that the universe is 6,000 years old and will go to heaven. Others trust human reason, think the Big Bang happened 14 billion years ago and, having abandoned God, are quite likely to start browsing the Internet for pornography or commit genocide.

Bloggers snark all the time, but when you draw this level of sarcasm from The Economist you are really accomplishing something.

*Be sure to check out the signs in the blog post. My favorite is the one at the top.

A Fitting End

Honestly, I was looking forward to the end of the Sopranos. Watching each episode this season had become a chore. I had to do it, because I wanted to find out what happened. So week after week I watched to see the crescendo leading to the finale. The crescendo never came. So why should I be surprised that the payoff was more of the same? I shouldn't.

But unlike an apparent majority of the TV public, I loved it. Tony is now in limbo for eternity. Did he get killed? Did he live to a ripe old age as the head of the family? Did he get indicted? We'll never know. But we do know that for however long it takes to get to whatever final outcome, Tony will always be watching the door.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Thou Shalt Leave Me Out of it

If God was still on Old Testament style speaking terms with us, I imagine he might say something like this.

It appears that the Democrats are now getting in on the act too. A Democratic forum featured the candidates waxing poetic about their faith. Supposedly, this is partly to woo the evangelical left.

An evangelical left is almost as scary as the evangelical right. I'll probably agree with more of the issues they care about, but I don't want them to take my issues. I would prefer we try and solve problems. They will no doubt prefer to set up articles of faith and judge politicians on their uncompromising verbal adherence to those articles.

Why is "It's my personal faith and I don't need to discuss it with the country," not an acceptable answer? I mean I know why, but I'm asking in the more philosophical sense.

God May Not Want the Credit

In yet another reminder of why I'm not a Republican, the GOP debate last night featured the question, "Do you believe in the story of creation as it is described in the Bible?"

Governor Mike Huckabee started out with a good answer saying "I can't believe that question would even be asked of someone running for president..." Unfortunately, he then decided to attempt an answer that was a clear tightrope act for someone who doesn't want to be deemed unfaithful or a lunatic. The irony is, of course, that he sounded like both.

Then McCain tried to force out some paean to creationist views that made him look like he was passing a stone.

Then Sam Brownback chimed in, and remarkably sounded like the most reasonable guy in the room.

If you wanted to make a really convincing argument against evolution, the idea that this topic continues to come up might be a good place to start.

We Report, You Figure Out Who We're Talking About

Fox news ran a story about indicted House member William Jefferson, but accidentally showed a clip of fellow Congressman and African-American John Conyers the entire time.

Unlike a lot of stuff Fox does, I think this truly was an accident. But the fact that they made the mistake probably says about as much about them as if they had done it on purpose.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


It has been a miserable sports scene in Kansas City for, well I suppose for more than 10 years. I've documented our city's lameness when it comes to competition in the big sports.

But we do have a winner in town. I know to those who don't give a damn about soccer it doesn't matter, but the Wizards are in first place in their conference right now. They went to the title game in 2004, and they won it all in 2000. That is better than the other two teams whose last combined playoff victory was in 1993.

And the games are exciting. In fact, a 2004 playoff game with San Jose may be the most exciting sporting event I've ever been at in person.

Unfortunately, goal scorer extraordinaire Eddie Johnson is off to play for the naitonal team for at least a month. The Wizards will have to make up for his scoring, and could use the kind of support the got last weekend (a little over 13,000 in attendance). Or even better.

I say this despite my extreme disappointment in the club for upping ticket prices more than 50% for the David Beckham game. Sure they will probably still draw the largest crowd of the season that night, and they need the revenue. But how about slashing ticket prices and trying to double the record attendance. With some proper marketing it's possible (unless the Wizards are convinced that they are already near the saturation point of anyone who would ever come to a soccer game). It seems to me like those are the kinds of stunts the league has to pull to ever have a shot at widening their audience.

Anyway for those who want to go see a game regardless of whether Beck's is playing or not, there are 9 home games before that one. Get out and see one of them. Or go watch the Royals and try not to throw up a little in your mouth.


So now it seems Hillary and Obama are tied for the lead in one Democratic primary poll. Pretty remarkable considering she had a 17 point lead last time out and a 12 point lead last week in another poll. Even if the 17 point poll and the even poll are at the edge of their margins of error, that is still a huge swing.

So what gives? USA Today's story makes the leap that Obama's messages are "starting to stick." Andrew Sullivan says that Obama clearly has more cross-over appeal. They both might be right, but then they might not. Polls have been strangely unreliable over the last handful of years, and (this is admittedly anecdotal) and large swings seem more prevalent.

It sure seems like there are some external validity issues within these polls. True random sampling seems like the most likely culprit. Admittedly, I don't know exactly how these tests are conducted, but someone with more time than me should look into this.

On the other hand, the widespread opinion is that Hillary has been winning the debates. Ask John Kerry what winning debates did for his electability.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Oh, Now I Remember

This morning I was reminded why I kind of hope liberal talk radio never takes off.

I listened to conservative talk radio.


Some people like the NBA (I'm one of them). More people don't. But no matter your position, do yourself a favor and find someone who DVR'd last night's basketball game.

I have been a Lebron skeptic since all the high school hoopla. My rationale was that those "can't miss" guys seem to never pan out. Well apparently, this one has. Unbelievable.

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