Monday, June 30, 2008

Anger, Sadness, Fear. Any are Proper Responses to This.

The Washington Post has a story up on confusion about Obama in Ohio.

On the television in his living room, Peterman has watched enough news and campaign advertisements to hear the truth: Sen. Barack Obama, born in Hawaii, is a Christian family man with a track record of public service. But on the Internet, in his grocery store, at his neighbor's house, at his son's auto shop, Peterman has also absorbed another version of the Democratic candidate's background, one that is entirely false: Barack Obama, born in Africa, is a possibly gay Muslim racist who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

...Does he choose to trust a TV commercial in which Obama talks about his "love of country"? Or his neighbor of 40 years, Don LeMaster, a Navy veteran who heard from a friend in Toledo that Obama refuses to wear an American-flag pin?

Does he trust a local newspaper article that details Obama's Christian faith? Or his friend Leroy Pollard, a devoted family man so convinced Obama is a radical Muslim that he threatened to stop talking to his daughter when he heard she might vote for him?

"I'll admit that I probably don't follow all of the election news like maybe I should," Peterman said. "I haven't read his books or studied up more than a little bit. But it's hard to ignore what you hear when everybody you know is saying it. These are good people, smart people, so can they really all be wrong?"
Apparently they can, Mr. Peterman. The range of emotions I have to this story is pretty wide. Bewilderment is pretty strong at one end while rage stakes out the other end. This is perhaps the dark side of the democratization of information brought on by the Internet. It seems to me that schools need to start teaching responsible information consumerism, and that the media needs to work even harder at watch-dogging the purveyors of bullshit.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

It's Always Sunny

A couple of my buddies independently recommended a new show to me. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is one of those shows that was apparently buried on basic cable for a couple of years. It is now out o DVD, and it is hilarious. It will also be returning for it's fourth season in the fall. One of the show promos is below. A word of warning, it is not for the easily offended.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cardinals Guest Post

Posted by ESL:

I’ve been complaining as of late to my good pal, Jim, about the St. Louis Cardinals. I understand this audience probably isn’t overly interested in STL stuff, but I figured since I would be complaining about my team AND the Royals are on a roll as of late (10 out of their last 11), AND the I-70 Series resumes tonight in KC, now was as good a time as any to have a guest post about the Redbirds.

The Cardinals are pissing away what could be a magical season. They came into this season with no expectations, questions at every position but 1B, Catcher, and 3B, numerous injured pitchers (Chris Carpenter, Mark Mulder, and Adam Wainwright at the top of the list), and yet have gotten so much effort and energy out of their young guys that they find themselves 10 games over .500 and leading the Wild Card race in the National League as they go into their weekend series with the Royals.

So what have I been complaining about to Jim? The Cardinals have lost 17 games this season in which they were either tied or led the game in the 7th inning. 17!!!!! With a record of 45-35, almost half of our losses have been given away late by either a fading starter or an inept bullpen (which just happened to be the one thing that was supposed to be a strength coming into the season). To put this in perspective, the Cardinals awful 2007 version blew 9 games all year. True, we had fewer opportunities to blow games last year because we were often down 5 runs by the 4th inning, but this stat is just staggering.

I know that many Royals fans have little sympathy, and rightly so. So, don’t take this post as me whining about my 10 time world champion Cardinals ONLY being 10 games over .500 while the Royals are still 7 games under
(Editors note: this sentence is evidence that people from St. Louis are always looking for an opening to crap on you, even when they are being nice and posting on your blog. Remember that). Take it as something to give you hope if you do happen to trail late in any of the games this weekend. Remember that the Royals were responsible for numbers 13 and 14 of those 17 late losses:

13. June 17- The Cardinals are in a 1-1 tie with Kansas City, but lose it in the 8th as Ron Villone gives up a home run. Royals win 2-1.

14. June 18 - The very next night, the Cardinals lead 2-1 with 5 outs to go. Kyle McClellan gives up 2 home runs to the Royals. The Cardinals lose 3-2.

While I hate our bullpen, I will go ahead and reject Jim’s proposed trade: Soria for Pujols.

Go Cards!

Draft Night

Last night was the NBA Draft, which is inexplicably one of my favorite sports nights of the year. I guess I love a night in which every player is good, and every franchise has a little hope. Those hopes are usually quickly dashed, of course.

ESPN put up a list of the best picks at each draft position earlier this week, and the greatest 8th pick since the inception of the lottery in 1985 is Ron Harper. Ron Harper was a fine player, but if you are picking #8, you wouldn't like to think that he is your ceiling. By the way, last night's #8 pick was Joe Alexander. This is someone who looks great on highlights and played great in the postseason, yet until March rolled around he averaged only 14 points per game. I give Ron Harper 3-1 odds of holding onto his title.

Anyway, last night's draft was filled with a lot of speculation about a group of guys that mostly won't make it. But that is for another time. Right now, optimism rules. A few thoughts:

The Bulls made Derrick Rose the shortest #1 picks since Allen Iverson. Actually, Rose and Iverson are the only two guys under 6-5 to be taken first since 1980 (and maybe long before that). So far that draft strategy is 1 for 1. I'm interested to see if it goes 2 for 2.

I'm still not sure why Miami was so reticent to take Michael Beasley. Yes, the three guys I have heard him most compared to are Derrick Coleman, Glenn Robinson,and Roy Tarpley. I am a bit too young to remember Tarpley, but Beasley is much more athletic than Coleman or Robinson. I think that will make a big difference, and Beasley will be fine.

Interesting that Beasley and Mario Chalmers will be playing together in Miami. Maybe a few K-State and KU fans could take a bus down to Florida and double the Heat's attendance for a game.

Darrell Arthur played the role of the forgotten man in the green room. He was finally picked by Portland at 27th, and then traded twice. A rather inauspicious beginning.

I thought for sure the Clippers would be the Clippers and take Brook Lopez at #7. They didn't. They took Eric Gordon, who could be a pretty good scorer (except that he will be playing for the Clippers).

The Nets got Lopez, and thus ensured continued mediocrity. Centers not taken #1 have a fairly shaky history, and that is being generous. Actually, the Nets acted crazy all night. They traded their second best player, for a bench guy and a power forward. Then they drafted a center and a power forward in the 1st round. This is for a team that drafted a power forward in the first round each of the last two years as well. Enjoy Brooklyn.

The Celtics are on a hot streak. Danny Ainge got two athleticwings in J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker. If Walker stays healthy, I think he willbe one of the better players from this draft. Giddens may be a lunatic, but he isn't crazier than Kevin Garnett. I suspect KG will scare him into line.

The Blazers are on the verge of becoming my favorite team. They have made like 250 deals in the last two drafts. Every time I see Ric Bucher, I just expect to hear something about the Blazers. And every time it seems to make sense.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

80's Movie Quote of the Week

The Muppets Take Manhattan doles out some sound marketing advice.

Bill the Frog: How about this? Ocean Breeze Soap: It's just like taking an ocean cruise, only there's no boat and you don't actually go anywhere.

Frosty Delight

It's summer time, and that means it's time for summer foods. It is time for pots of green beans, fresh tomatoes, strawberry shortcake, corn on the cob, and on and on. Summertime truly features the best of seasonal foods.

But there are also summer drinks. Lemonade is, of course, one of the most popular. Mexican beers also seem to taste particularly good in the summer. The New York Times has a taste test up of another of my favorite summer drinks - root beer. A jug of cold root beer at the fair was a summer highlight my entire childhood (even if it warmed up and lost all appeal halfway through). The times rates 25 root beers and an old favorite, IBC, comes in at #2. I've never tried the #1, Sprecher, but I would like to.

The article itself mentions that many people love root beer, but many also loathe it. Perhaps it is the list of ingredients that produce such strong reactions:

Originally, root beers were more like herbal teas, bitter infusions of roots, vines, herbs and spices, including sarsaparilla, sassafras and licorice. Nowadays, the basic components include anise, wintergreen and vanilla, with the addition, perhaps, of flavors like ginger, cloves and mint. At times, the tasting felt almost like analyzing a medicine cabinet, and indeed, one of the components of the IBC aroma was described by a taster as liniment, no doubt from wintergreen.
Well, count me as a root beer lover. I'm going out for lunch, and a frosty mug sounds pretty tasty right now.

The Most Destructive of All Destroyers

I have been reading an anthology of works by George Bernard Shaw and enjoying it thoroughly. The man was an egotist and an elitist. He was also very funny and quite insightful.

It always strikes me when reading any old work that deals with the larger issues of life that it is true that the more things change, the more they stay the same. In Shaw's play, Man and Superman, a dream sequence featuring a conversation in hell between Don Juan, a statue, a woman, and the devil features a short speech by the devil that sounds like it could have been written this morning.

THE DEVIL. And is Man any the less destroying himself for all this boasted brain of his? Have you walked up and down upon the earth lately? I have; and I have examined Man’s wonderful inventions. And I tell you that in the arts of life man invents nothing; but in the arts of death he outdoes Nature herself, and produces by chemistry and machinery all the slaughter of plague, pestilence, and famine. The peasant I tempt to-day eats and drinks what was eaten and drunk by the peasants of ten thousand years ago; and the house he lives in has not altered as much in a thousand centuries as the fashion of a lady’s bonnet in a score of weeks. But when he goes out to slay, he carries a marvel of mechanism that lets loose at the touch of his finger all the hidden molecular energies, and leaves the javelin, the arrow, the blowpipe of his fathers far behind. In the arts of peace Man is a bungler. I have seen his cotton factories and the like, with machinery that a greedy dog could have invented if it had wanted money instead of food. I know his clumsy typewriters and bungling locomotives and tedious bicycles: they are toys compared to the Maxim gun, the submarine torpedo boat. There is nothing in Man’s industrial machinery but his greed and sloth: his heart is in his weapons. This marvellous force of Life of which you boast is a force of Death: Man measures his strength by his destructiveness. What is his religion? An excuse for hating me. What is his law? An excuse for hanging you. What is his morality? Gentility! An excuse for consuming without producing. What is his art? An excuse for gloating over pictures of slaughter. What are his politics? Either the worship of a despot because a despot can kill, or parliamentary cockfighting. I spent an evening lately in a certain celebrated legislature, and heard the pot lecturing the kettle for its blackness, and ministers answering questions. When I left I chalked up on the door the old nursery saying “Ask no questions and you will be told no lies.” I bought a sixpenny family magazine, and found it full of pictures of young men shooting and stabbing one another. I saw a man die: he was a London bricklayer’s laborer with seven children. He left seventeen pounds club money; and his wife spent it all on his funeral and went into the workhouse with the children next day. She would not have spent sevenpence on her children’s schooling: the law had to force her to let them be taught gratuitously; but on death she spent all she had. Their imagination glows, their energies rise up at the idea of death, these people: they love it; and the more horrible it is the more they enjoy it. Hell is a place far above their comprehension: they derive their notion of it from two of the greatest fools that ever lived, an Italian and an Englishman. The Italian described it as a place of mud, frost, filth, fire, and venomous serpents: all torture. This ass, when he was not lying about me, was maundering about some woman whom he saw once in the street. The Englishman described me as being expelled from Heaven by cannons and gunpowder; and to this day every Briton believes that the whole of his silly story is in the Bible. What else he says I do not know; for it is all in a long poem which neither I nor anyone else ever succeeded in wading through. It is the same in everything. The highest form of literature is the tragedy, a play in which everybody is murdered at the end. In the old chronicles you read of earthquakes and pestilences, and are told that these shewed the power and majesty of God and the littleness of Man. Nowadays the chronicles describe battles. In a battle two bodies of men shoot at one another with bullets and explosive shells until one body runs away, when the others chase the fugitives on horseback and cut them to pieces as they fly. And this, the chronicle concludes, shews the greatness and majesty of empires, and the littleness of the vanquished. Over such battles the people run about the streets yelling with delight, and egg their Government on to spend hundreds of millions of money in the slaughter, whilst the strongest Ministers dare not spend an extra penny in the pound against the poverty and pestilence through which they themselves daily walk. I could give you a thousand instances; but they all come to the same thing: the power that governs the earth is not the power of Life but of Death; and the inner need that has nerved Life to the effort of organising itself into the human being is not the need for higher life but for a more efficient engine of destruction. The plague, the famine, the earthquake, the tempest were too spasmodic in their action; the tiger and crocodile were too easily satiated and not cruel enough: something more constantly, more ruthlessly, more ingeniously destructive was needed; and that something was Man, the inventor of the rack, the stake, the gallows, the electric chair; of sword and gun and poison gas: above all, of justice, duty, patriotism, and all the other isms by which even those who are clever enough to be humanely disposed are persuaded to become the most destructive of all the destroyers.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Quelle Surprise

It seems the city has lost a rather important covention.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. told city officials Tuesday it was canceling an informal pledge to hold its national managers meetings in Kansas City through 2012. It was the latest in a string of major convention losses for the city, and rekindled debate about public help for a new 1,000-room convention hotel downtown.
Well if you can't trust Wal-Mart, who can you trust?

I need something to help me shake this ongoing bout of sarcasm. Anyone know any great news?

Shocking Part 2

A brief list of the the kinds of statements that could get you kicked out of the candidate pool during the salad days of illegal hiring.

‘environmental justice’ and ‘social justice.’

‘have more of an impact on the judicial system.’

“to serve as part of the team charged with enforcing the world’s most comprehensive environmental laws, and with defending the crucial work of our environmental and resource management agencies.”

“It is precisely this ability to have my principles guide my work that inspires me to be a government lawyer.”

“be able to consider both the needs of my client and also what is best for my

...her statement that working for the Department would stimulate her conscience as well as her brain and allow her to work on cases that she cared about.
Clearly, these people have way too much interest in actually doing government work to have any place in this government.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I'm not sure that I ever use that word in any context that resembles sincerity. I am also pretty sure that the cynicism with which it is usually soaked is usually directed at the Bush administration and allegations about its tenure. I broke it out again today in regards to a new report by the Justice Department. It seems there may have been some illegal hiring practices in effect these last few years.

The blistering report, prepared by the Justice Department’s inspector general, is the first in what will be a series of investigations growing out of last year’s scandal over the firings of nine United States attorneys. It appeared to confirm for the first time in an official examination many of the allegations from critics who charged that the Justice Department had become overly politicized during the Bush administration.

... Applications that contained what were seen as “leftist commentary” or “buzz words” like environmental and social justice were often grounds for rejecting applicants, according to e-mails reviewed by the inspector general’s office. Membership in liberal organizations like the American Constitution Society, Greenpeace, or the Poverty and Race Research Action Council were also seen as negative marks.

Affiliation with the Federalist Society, a prominent conservative group, was viewed positively.
This post could have been alternatively titled "Why Not to Elect People Who Don't Believe in Government, Part 716," but today just seemed to call for a little sarcasm. I won't get a better opportunity than this.


It is nice to see the Royals on a little hot streak. One would prefer that it was against teams they will be facing for the rest of the year, and not National League teams they have beaten up on with some recent regularity. Still, any hot streak is a welcome one for this franchise.

One of the more interesting developments has been the play of career minor leaguer Mike Aviles. This is someone who has none of the "tools" that baseball scouts look for, yet has done nothing so far except hit. He has been outstanding really. It is a small sample size, but it is hard to imagine anyone longing for the return of Tony Pena Jr. Aviles seems to be one of those players who just doesn't look like the type of guy who should do what he does, yet continues to do it anyway.

Juxtapose that with Alex Gordon. Gordon is the first round draft pick who has almost all the aformentioned tools, yet continues to struggle. He strikes out far too often for someone who hits as few homeruns as he hits, and his average has dipped below .270.

The difference between the two players was well illustrated in Sunday's come from behind win against San Francisco. With no outs and the bases loaded, Gordon came to the plate. This is the supposed future of the franchise, and yet I don't think anyone believed he was going to come through. He didn't. He hit a shallow fly ball to center, not even deep enough to score a run. A batter later, Aviles came to the plate with the bases still loaded and now two outs. When Aviles shot a double into left filed it was exciting, but I realized I wasn't surprised. The excitement was in the fact that I thought he would come through and he did. I never feel that way about Gordon.

As I said, it is still early. The odds are probably still with Gordon having a better career than Aviles. But right now it is no contest who is more valuable to the Royals. I hope that is a lesson to the organization. I also hope that if there are other guys in the minors who have been playing great but just don't look right, that we consider bringin them up to see what they can do.

Catch Up

Last week was one of the busiest weeks I can remember. And now I find myself well, behind my goal of an average of a post a day. Can I catch up in June? Can I think of anything of value to say, or will it all be filler? If this post is any indication, it will probably be the latter.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Quick Finals Thoughts

Moment of the night: Kevin Garnett almost passing out during the postgame interview and I believe saying "I'm gonna die," before a trainer or someone came over to help hold him. He was on the verge of passing out through the whole celebration.

I don't think I have ever, in all the sports championships I have ever watched, seen a group as excited as the Celtics were last night. That was great to see.

The Lakers folded. The C's played good, but they couldn't so that without the Lakers rolling over. That is a lack of leadership.

Paul Pierce didn't equal his numbers from earlier in the series, but he played every bit as well last night.

In KC, the NBA finals drew a 9.3 which equalled the national average. The NHL Finals drew less than a 2 while the national average was 3.2. Sports talk radio callers can bash the NBA all they want, but even in this town, pro basketball is way more popular.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hey Where Did All of You Come From?

Acording to a study from the Cookingham institute, there are 70,000 more people in KC than we previously thought. Predictably, some a-hole commenter sees that as an unqualified negative the he can fully attribute to "porous borders."

I hope the number is accurate because I would love to see the city qualify for the federal dollars it would earn for all those extra people.

Friday, June 13, 2008

80's Movie Quote of the Week

It doesn't get much better than Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. In See No Evil, Hear No Evil deaf Wilder is explaining to the blind and driving Pryor what just went wrong.

Dave: We're in a warehouse, and you just hit a cow. I think we better back up.

Shoot Out

Fortunately, everyone was ok at the Health Department.

A gun inside a woman’s purse accidentally discharged inside the lobby of the Kansas City Health Department office this morning, grazing another woman in the thigh.

The shooting occurred about 9:25 a.m. on the first floor of the building at 2400 Troost Avenue.

Police said the victim was conducting business at a window along the counter when a second woman approached the window next to her. As the second woman set her purse on the counter, a gun inside the purse fired.
Surely someone taught her never to point her purse at anyone.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Working It

It's all we do in this country apparently. An article on Slate today and a piece on The Daily Show last night (see below)comment on the fact that Americans are planning to take less vacations than ever before. It's not just because of gas prices.

Comparatively speaking, Americans are winning the time-clock Olympics. The typical U.S. worker puts in 1,804 hours at work each year, 135 hours more than the typical British worker, 240 hours (or six full-time weeks) more than the average French worker, and 370 hours (or nine full-time weeks) more than the typical German. The Conference Board's magazine points out that the trend toward increased work demands "has begun to reverse the two-century-old industrial paradigm of equating progress with increased leisure." None of this is good for our family relations. Middle-class couples in the United States, taking both spouses together, are working 520 hours (13 full-time weeks) more a year than such couples worked in the 1980s. Little wonder that the Families and Work Institute found in 2004 that 67 percent of working parents say they don't have enough time with their children, and 62 percent say they don't have enough time with their spouses.
There is a pretty easy tangent to veer off onto here regarding family values versus capitalism, but I hit that one pretty hard a couple of days ago. Instead, I'd prefer that we simply acknowledge that the point of "the economy" has always been to make life better. Is it at all possible to argue that is the case today?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Good News

So on NPR this morning I heard that the East has a heatwave, the Midwest has floods, California has a drought, California is running out of ground water, oil is expected to rise again, stocks will probably keep dropping, the dollar is getting weak enough that the Fed may start raising interest rates, and bird flu is back.

On the plus side, I am growing my own tomatoes so I may not have to go without this summer despite the salmonella outbreak.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Putting Blame Where it Belongs

David Brooks wrote a column for the New York Times acknowledging the fact that those who blame our societal woes on cultural issues need to recognize that our attitudes toward consumption and spending are a pretty significant cultural issue. This is no small concession from the point of view from which Brooks normally starts.

I was greatly dismayed, however, to see the list of culprits to whom Brooks assigns blame. In order, they are:

State Governments
Payday Lenders
Credit Card Companies
Congress and the White House
Wall Street

Brooks does not say that he apportions blame in direct correlation to placement on the list, but placement means something right? So in case you were wondering how our mass consumption culture became a potential source of our destruction, look first at your state government.

Yes, it is the state lottery that has put us on this course. Admittedly, the stat that families with incomes under $13,000 spend 9% of income on lottery tickets is staggering. But how can the state government, that generally most impotent of governmental institutions, possibly be put forward as the worst offender in “the deterioration of financial mores?” It would appear it is because Brooks believes that the government is the “guardian of order,” but it refuses to behave that way.

Never mind the fact that state lottery systems generally pay for government functions that could be funded through regular taxation were not for political actors so completely adverse to responsible taxation. Those actors, incidentally, would often be those with whom Brooks most closely aligns himself. The “beast” that many are so eager to starve seems to have found another way to feed itself, and now Brooks is left to complain that it is abetting our financial and moral ruin. Convenient.

Following the state come two parties who are certainly easily to blame, but are also aided by the aforementioned political actors. Deregulation of the credit card industry in the last decade has made possible many of the practices Brooks describes in the article.

The government then makes another appearance on the list. I have no problem with its inclusion, but once again the lead players go unnamed.

At the bottom of the list comes Wall Street. As a stand-in for corporate culture in America, Wall Street should be leading this list. I’ll get to that in a second. Brooks isn’t even referring to that culture, however. He is actually referring to the entity that is Wall Street, and the big bonuses paid to hedge fund managers. A problem? Yes. The problem? You’ve got to be kidding.

The order of this list as constructed is dreadful. The fact that state government leads the list and Wall Street finishes it are proof that Brooks has been unable to get beyond his preconceptions while legitimately (I think) trying to point out the problem. But the real downfall of this exercise is with the missing member of the culprit list. Suspect number one on any list of this kind has to be the cult of unregulated capitalism in this country.

Capitalism is the engine that has made this country the power that it has become. But much of the progress toward power was made in an era where government was seen as a legitimate check on the equally great power of monied interests. Over the last 30 years, that attitude has been replaced with one that sees government as the enemy of progress and oversight as the unnecessary evil that hinders our economic livelihood.

As this new attitude has taken hold, the government has moved aside in favor of a corporate culture that forgoes long term thinking in favor of short term profit. Without government stepping back into the mix, the problem has very little chance of being solved.

Brooks practically admits as much in his last few paragraphs. The most legitimate initiator of almost all of Brooks’ proposed solutions is the government. He mentions foundations and churches, and they could play an important role. None of these things happen, however, without government action. If he is serious about this issue, Brooks needs to think about that before he decides who to back in the fall.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Progression of Depression

Interesting article in the New York Times today about how gas prices affect people differently in different parts of the country. It featured a set of maps to help lay out the picture. I was elated to see the map about gas prices.

Yeah, we have the cheapest gas in America here in the Sho-me State. But why then did the map that shows how much income people spend on gas look not as great?

The final map tells the story. If you have cheap gas, but it still takes a significant portion of your income, a pretty safe bet is that your income must not be too hot. And so it is.

Friday, June 6, 2008

80's Movie Quote of the Week

I've been really busy lately. It brings to mind a quote from the vastly underrated Weekend at Bernie's.

Richard Parker: Now you see, Larry? All of this could be yours if you set your goals and work hard.
Larry Wilson: My old man worked hard. All they did was give him more work.

I Don't Know Anything

Two headlines I would have bet rather large sums I wouldn't read today appeared on ESPN's Daily Dime Page.

Is Allen the New Kobe Stopper?

Rivers Wins Coaching Battle
I fell pretty confident neither of those headlines will be repeated, but I never thought I would see them the first time.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Tonight marks the start of the 1987 NBA Finals. It should be exciting to see whether Larry Bird and company can contend with Magic Johnson and his "Showtime" brethren.

I suspect there are a lot of people out there who wish it was the 1987 NBA Finals instead of the 2008 NBA Finals, but I've got to tell you that I have been watching some the old series on ESPN Classic. Today's brand of basketball is much, much better. When we imagine the old days, everyone makes free throws, no one trash talks, and every pass is on the money. That is some serious BS. There is some sloppy play in those old games. And the play is so much less physical.

The main thing I have learned from watching the old games is that Shaq would have averaged about 60 points per game in the early 80's and Lebron James would look like a He-man action figure out on the court. I would like to watch all the NBA Finals in a row on ESPN Classic, so we can tell the point somewhere in the late 80's to early 90's when players became more athletic by a factor of about 100. I'm sure it all revolves around Michael Jordan.

Anyway, tonight's finals should be great. I am not sure who I am rooting for yet, which is remarkable given my lifetime hatred of the Lakers. For reasons not completely understood by me, I am ok with this Laker team. The Celtics are fine too, and I really like KG. On the other hand, I am really tired of Boston winning every sports title that means anything.

Who will win? I have no idea. What I can say is that I see the matchups this way.

Point Guard
Derek Fisher vs. Rajon Rondo
Rondo is more active and aggressive but Fisher is wily and clutch.
Advantage: Wash

Shooting Guard
Kobe Bryant vs. Ray Allen
This is not even close to being a contest.
Advantage: Lakers

Small Forward
Vladamir Radmanovic vs. Paul Pierce
Possibly even less of a contest.
Advantage: Celtics

Power Forward
Lamar Odom vs. Kevin Garnett
This is a better matchup that you might think. Odom has the length and quickness to bother Garnett, while his offensive game will keep KG from roaming too far.
Advantage: Celtics

Pau Gasol vs. Kendrick Perkins
Pau Gasol has been the key to the Lakers offensive success in the last half of the season. Perkins should be able to bother him with his strength, but Gasol should get a breather when the C's have the ball.
Advantage: Lakers

The Lakers have a bunch of young guys. The Celtics have a nice mix of young and old guys. The bench experience gives the C's a bit of an advantage.
Advantage: Celtics

Doc Rivers vs. Phil Jackson
If you are a Celtics fan this is the one that makes you nervous. Rivers has made some questionable moves during the playoffs. Phil Jackson has almost enough rings to make him look like a professional wrestling manager.
Advantage: Lakers

So there you have it. The ultimate cop out. I have the two teams tied after judging the criteria. Hopefully, I am right and this becomes a 7 game series for the ages. Perhaps it will even make us stop wishing it was 1987 all over again.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Joe Po Understands Me

Amazingly, Joe Posnanski has a blog and I knew nothing about it. I found it by chance on a political blog from across the country. Weird. Anyway, it's great stuff. A particularly fine post is one about Posnanski's feelings about Derek Jeter. The thesis is essentially that Joe likes Jeter, but constantly feels unable to appreciate him because of the unreasonable accolades thrown his way. Read the post to fully appreciate the concept.

I already fully appreciate it because it is exactly they way I feel about The Beatles. Are they a great band? Absolutely. Are they the greatest band ever? Possibly. Maybe even probably. Are they a 10 while their most formidable competition for the title is a 6? Or are they 100% without a doubt the world's best band by all available criteria and anyone who doesn't agree is the musical equivalent of Miss South Carolina? No way.

So like Joe, I often find myself in an argument where the result is someone badgering me about why I don't like The Beatles. I explain that I do like The Beatles, but there are at least other bands in the discussion when you talk about the greatest bands of all time. No one ever understands this position.

I'll have to keep explaining myself over and over, and it sounds like Joe will too.

My Hood (Literally)

This is somewhat disconcerting considering it is roughly 3 blocks from my house.

At about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, May 24, a 19-year-old Kansas City Art Institute student left his job at the Loose Mansion to walk home to his apartment. He was walking south on Warwick from Armour Boulevard. Just south of 39th Street, a black male came down from the front steps of a house and approached the 19-year-old victim. The man complained of society keeping him down and then asked the victim if he wanted to buy drugs. The victim said, “no,” and kept walking. When the victim got to 40th and McGee streets, he felt a blast to his head. The victim said he never saw a gun. He was shot eight times in his head and legs. He lost his left eye in the attack but survived.
The art kids walk the streets in my neighborhood all the time. I hope this one recovers as soon as possible, and they find the jackass responsible.

I Knew it but I Still Didn't Want to Read it

The Star lately has been all about depressing me about my town. Today, the litany continues with a story about how we'll never see an NBA team. Of course, that is not a difficult assumption to make. Still, I would prefer to continue to turn a blind eye to the facts and hope. This makes it harder:

“With this city having major-league baseball and the NFL and the three colleges, and soccer. … there are a lot of choices. I don’t know if this market is big enough. Portland, San Antonio, Memphis, Utah, Sacramento don’t have all the major-league sports we have. There may be too much to do here.”
So we're stuck with like 10 days or so with big time college baskteball in the city proper. Past that we can watch the Roos and high school games. Woo-ha.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Not In These Parts

People are changing their traveling behavior.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced today that Americans took 2.6 billion trips on public transportation in the first three months of 2008. This is almost 85 million more trips than last year for the same time period.

“There’s no doubt that the high gas prices are motivating people to change their travel behavior,” said APTA president William W. Millar. “More and more people have decided that taking public transportation is the quickest way to beat the high gas prices.”

Last year 10.3 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation – the highest number of trips taken in fifty years. In the first quarter of 2008, public transportation continued to climb and rose by 3.3 percent. In contrast, the Federal Highway Administration has reported that the vehicle miles traveled on our nation’s roads declined by 2.3 percent in the first quarter.

Light rail (modern streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) had the highest percentage of ridership increase among all modes, with a double digit 10.3 percent increase for the first quarter. Light rail systems showed double digit increases in the following areas: Baltimore (16.8%); Minneapolis (16.4%); St. Louis (15.6%); and San Francisco (12.2%). New Orleans’ light rail system is recovering from Hurricane Katrina with a 476% increase in ridership.
I suppose it goes without saying that there was no increase in light rail ridership in the KC metro area. My hope is that our elected officials are serious enough to make sure there can be in the future.

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