(Cross-posted at RBJonesPhotography.com)
I remember watching Floyd’s amazing Stage 17 performance in the 2006 Tour de France live on television. I was dumbfounded and thrilled. When my wife got home, I showed her the entirety of the stage’s television coverage, watching along with her. We even sat on the couch together afterward as I read aloud the live-blogging entries of a writer for VeloNews whose blow-by-blow account of Landis’s shocking recovery and devastation of his opponents on that epic mountain stage. We laughed and reveled in the unexpected and unorthodox moves and the bewildered descriptions they elicited from commentators on tv and online.
Well… we probably all knew this day was coming. Not all of us, certainly. There were those who either wanted to believe bad enough, or who knew just enough about chemistry or medicine to be able to see a glimmer of possibility in the explanations that the test(s) [that showed his two types of testosterone levels to be too far apart] were a result of his body’s conversion of medication for his ailing hip. Alas. I had my strong suspicions, particularly since reading David Walsh’s book From Lance to Landis. Since then, I’ve considered everyone who had ever been a part of the US Postal team to have been part of a systematic doping program with Johan Bruyneel at its helm.
Much more after the jump. Click below...
That's the theory floated by Sports Illustrated writer David Epstein, in an interview with neuropsychologist Dr. Jordan Grafman -- Roethlisberger, after all, has suffered four concussions on the football field during his NFL career.
According to Grafman, two particular behaviors are endemic to people with moderate or severe frontal lobe injury, or to people with more mild but repetitive injury: 1) violating social rules by saying inappropriate things, and 2) saying appropriate or typical things in an inappropriate context.
"If you're married and you're flirting with another woman in an elevator with your wife next to you," Grafman says, "that's the kind of clearly inappropriate behavior." Roethlisberger is not married, but one man told me that Roethlisberger had asked out his wife while the man was present.
Granted, as Grafman notes, "we all say inappropriate things sometimes," but "it's the frequency with which it happens, and the unawareness. When you have a frontal lobe injury in particular, you often become unaware of your inappropriate behaviors. The observations usually come from wives or children." A typical situation in my reporting last week was something like this: I would hear that Roethlisberger had, for example, said inappropriate things to waitresses at a restaurant or walked out on a bill, so I would call the establishment. "I don't know if he walked out on a tab here," would be a typical response from whoever picked up the phone, "but he was really rude to my friend after he invited her over to his table." Tales of indecorous acts abounded.
Or it's possible that Roethlisberger is, you know, a colossal jerk. He wouldn't be the first multimillionaire athlete with dangerous delusions of entitlement, would he? Didn't we all kind of hate the jocks in high school?
And yet: If Epstein's onto something here, the morality of the NFL itself gets trickier and trickier to defend. There's already substantial evidence that playing professional football destroys the bodies and minds of the men who play it. If also it transforms them into moral monsters -- as a natural, organic byproduct of the game -- how could you possibly watch another game in good conscience? What redeeming value is left?
The Karate Kid remake, starring Jaden Smith (son of Will, who is directing, and Jada Pinkett), hits theaters next summer. The trailer, which premiered this week, is impressive. Jackie Chan plays the Miyagi character. At 55 years old, Chan is still the master. Why, even the snobs at /Film and the slobs at FilmDrunk think the trailer is decent. (Well... OK, not really. Those FilmDrunk guys are unbelievably cruel.)
There was a bit of grousing awhile back from fans of the original that this project was a kind of sacrilege, yet another in a ceaseless line of remakes and reboots from a creatively bankrupt Hollywood. And for awhile, it looked as though Columbia Pictures would rename the film "The Kung Fu Kid."
I liked the original with Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita and I've enjoyed watching it again with my son now that we're both training in the martial arts. And I'm not sure "Take your jacket off... put it on..." is quite as pithy or memorable as "Wax on, wax off." (What I really want to know is: Who is the Kreese character and will he say "Sweep the leg" in Chinese or English?)
But let's not get too carried away. The Karate Kid was very much a product of its era -- from the hairstyles to the ridiculous pop soundtrack. Some of it holds up, some of it looks hackneyed and lame. Based on the trailer, the remake looks promising.
Its students are disloyal and subhuman.
(Click "read more" below for shocking photographic evidence.)
"The skills required to maintain a happy harem take practice, patience, and a bit of internal discipline, not unlike perfecting one’s golf game," advises Tracy Quan, author of Diary of a Call Girl and its sequel, Diary of a Married Call Girl. Funny thing is, those are the same skills required to maintain a happy marriage. And, challenging as that can be, it seems much less complicated -- and far more honorable -- than either golf or "harem management" to me.
(Hat tip: Instapundit.)
I'm more exercised by the harm school administrators and their stupid policies do to kids than I am bothered by news that Rush Limbaugh won't get to own a piece of the St. Louis Rams. But I'm still plenty bothered.
Limbaugh was slandered and libeled. Without question. Cable news networks aired wholly fabricated quotations attributed to the conservative radio talk show host. Worse, when those networks were called on the fabrications, they refused to retract or apologize. CNN's Rick Sanchez aired the phony quotes. Sanchez later said that although the phony quotes were "in dispute," Limbaugh had said plenty of offensive things. So there!
John Hinderaker at Powerline observes: "It is worth noting, as a kind of macabre footnote, that CNN found it worthwhile to 'fact check' Saturday Night Live when that program had the temerity to ridicule CNN's President, The One. Maybe CNN could become a respected news organization if it tried to fact check news stories as well as comedy skits, starting with--is this too much to ask?--its own broadcasts."
And Mark Steyn asks: "Can Rush buy the St Louis Rams if he gets Roman Polanski to front the deal?"
Incidentally, Steyn points to an excellent piece by Toby Harden in the London Telegraph, who writes:
The irony is, of course, that the people reporting this as fact are the same types who are always denouncing bloggers and the internet as forces of evil intent on destroying proper journalism – proper journalism being the kind that involves checking facts. In the case of Rush Limbaugh, however, it seems to be enough that the intention (i.e. to show the talk radio host is a racist) is considered pure.
Even those who have been primary movers in spreading these malicious falsehoods – which would lead to payouts of hundreds of thousands in British libel courts if lawsuits were ever filed there – are brazenly unapologetic.
Thus, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell pens this column containing the slavery quote and then follows up with another column with a kind-of-sort-of-well-not-really-at-all mea culpa in which he states that the quote seemed “so in character with the many things that Limbaugh has said before that we didn’t verify it beyond the book”.
OK, so it sounded right and it was on the internet or in a book or something so it was fine to just go ahead and print it as stone-cold fact without any attribution? I wonder which journalism school teaches that?
None of them. And all of them.
Competitive eating is serious business, certainly for the antacid industry. And on this Independence Day, all Americans can take pride in the fact that, Joey (Jaws) Chestnut was again crowned the champion in the Super Bowl of competitive eating events, the 94-year-old Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island. Yes. The mustard-yellow belt remains in America's hands!
"Jaws" also set a new world record, wolfing down 68 hot dogs (and their buns) in 10-minutes. Joey's arch rival, Takeru Kobayashi, was hoping to snatch back the crown from the United States. But the six-time hot dog eating champ from Japan fell short when he downed just 64 dogs.
Huzzah! And God Bless America.
OK. Not really. Ron Paul just hates voting "aye" for anyone up for the Congressional Gold Medal, or the Congressional Medal of Freedom, which he believes are not constitutionally kosher. He even voted against giving the Congressional Medal of Freedom to Rosa Parks in 1999, for crying out loud. He took quite a bit of guff for it, but was given a fair chance to defend himself on CNN.
Anyway, the House of Representatives voted 422-1 this week to award Palmer the Congressional Gold Medal. That one "no" vote was Ron Paul.
Oddly, this story has several connections — brushes, really — to my own life.
According to Paul spokeswoman Rachel Mills:
It is certainly nothing personal against Mr. Palmer. In fact, Congressman Paul admires him greatly. Dr. Paul opposes using public monies for any and all of these gold medals given to private citizens, just on principle. Not to mention, it is unconstitutional to use taxpayer dollars in this way. He even suggested on the House Floor before he voted against Rosa Parks's medal that if it meant so much to the Members of Congress, why not fund the award out of their own pockets? He pulled $100 out of his own wallet, but had no other takers. At a time like this when all budgets are stretched so thin, it seems especially inappropriate to lavish gifts like this on private citizens, as much as he may admire the individual.
This is absurd. The cost to taxpayers is all of $30,000. And part of that cost is to produce bronze replicas of the medal to sell, off-setting the cost of the honor itself. A golf blogger at Yahoo applauds Paul, saying his "no" vote is "actually fairly impressive." Hogwash. That guy should just stick to writing about golf.
Ron Paul is only proving his crankiness for not voting "aye" when it comes to the Congressional Gold Medal, even if it's just for a great philanthropist, humanitarian, businessman and golfer like Arnold Palmer. The first Congressional Gold Medal was awarded in 1776 by the Second Continental Congress to George Washington. If it's good enough for the Founders — who wrote the Constitution — to sign off on, it should be good enough for Ron Paul.
But, then again, Ron Paul is not just cranky. He's a crank.
I suspect Kemp hadn't been on many conservatives' radar for quite some time, but his importance to the Reagan Revolution cannot be understated. Shortly after Kemp's family announced in January that the former congressman and 1996 Republican vice-presidential nominee was ill, Jeffrey Lord of the American Spectator wrote a piece assessing Kemp's legacy to the conservative movement:
Jack Kemp long ago earned his role in this American pantheon. He did not invent "supply-side" economics. Yet in a day and age when many members of Congress use their office for nothing grander than prying grandma's Social Security check out of the federal morass and issuing a press release telling the world, Kemp, elected in 1970, set about an entirely different task. He began schooling himself, and eventually his party, about the difference between bread slicing and bread baking economics. As Bartley would later recount in his book The Seven Fat Years: And How To Do It Again, Kemp became the focus of a Washington group (paralleling Bartley's in New York) that focused on the economic woes of the 1970s. What they were, how they got there, and, strikingly, what to actually do about them. Bartley says that Kemp "did bizarre things like sit down and read The General Theory." This would be John Maynard Keynes' less than scintillating tome The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, a basic economics text then and now if one wishes to call oneself a Keynesian. It is not to be confused with a romance novel.
With what Washington would eventually realize was the typical Kemp passion, Kemp took an idea about tax cuts and made of it a gospel. In legislative form it became what was called Kemp-Roth, named respectively after Kemp the House sponsor and Delaware GOP Senator William Roth, its Senate champion. At its core, the idea proposed to slash personal income tax rates -- and cut them big time by 30 percent over three years. It was 1978, the middle of the Carter malaise years, and after what Bartley calls a "stormy debate" the bill failed in a conference committee. Kemp kept going. By 1980 he had convinced candidate Ronald Reagan, and the concept was written into the 1980 Republican platform. By August of 1981 President Ronald Reagan was signing Kemp's cause into law. By 1983, the American economy had begun to shake off recession and, in a startling reversal, roared to life. The results were so powerful that Reagan later said France's Socialist President François Mitterrand, Reagan's guest at the 1983 Williamsburg G-7 Summit, wanted to know just exactly what went into America's blossoming and quite vivid economic growth.
For Kemp, this was more than simply passing a piece of legislation. Supply-side represented a real threat to the core beliefs of an entire intellectual class, a class that then -- as now -- considers itself "enlightened." Passing Congressman Kemp one day as he bounded (Kemp bounds, he doesn't walk) up an escalator to a House office building from the Capitol subway, I watched him overtake a moderate Republican Congressman who clearly considered himself a member of this enlightened class, an affliction that, sad to say, is all too bipartisan. After a brief conversation that required Kemp to stand still, he clapped the moderate on the back and -- with a smile, always with a smile -- said: "You know what your problem is? You're an elitist!" And bounded away as his target visibly fumed that someone would mistake his addiction to me-too liberalism as something other than being a champion of the average man.
No doubt, we'll be hearing and reading a great deal about Jack Kemp, good and bad, in the next few days. For the moment, let me simply say, may he rest in peace.
"I had plenty of substantive disagreements with him, including his lack of interest in cutting spending and controlling the growth of government," Bandow writes. "But he was a rarity in Washington--someone who had achieved significant success before entering politics, really cared about those with the least opportunities, was seriously interested in ideas. and genuinely hoped to use politics to make the world a better place. He might not have succeeded in achieving the latter goal, but he personally made the world a better place."
Pleszczynski adds: "Jack's football position was quarterback -- but in fact his position was leader. Even at the small Saturday Evening Club dinner he once attended as our guest, where he felt called upon to tell other guests when to come to the table and where to sit. He couldn't help himself. Wherever man still wants to breathe freely, his memory will remain cherished."
Update 3: Bill Bennett, who in 1993 co-founded Empower America with Kemp, remembers his friend: "You know, there's a lot of talk, these days, about who will be the next Ronald Reagan. A few of us were thinking, this morning, who will be the next Jack Kemp?"
Jack Kemp, former Buffalo Bills QB, U.S. congressman and Republican presidential/vice presidential candidate, died on May 2, 2009.
Ordinarily, stories like these would be Monkey Rothbard's bailiwick. There is all kinds of good news in the story of the Dallas cop's confrontation with Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats. First, the officer didn't shoot, tase, pepper-spray or bludgeon Moats or any of his family members. Second, the officer -- 26-year-old Robert Powell -- did the right thing and tendered his resignation today.
“I made this decision in the hope that my resignation will allow the Dallas Police Department, my fellow officers and the citizens of Dallas to better reflect on this experience, learn from the mistakes made, and move forward,” Powell said in a statement issued through his attorneys (naturally).
“I still hope to speak with the Moats family to personally express my deep regret, sympathy, and to apologize for my poor judgment and unprofessional conduct,” Powell added.
I'm pleased Powell is no longer a police officer. If you watch the video, you'll see a young cop using his badge and gun to intimidate some uppity citizens. (And, unlike the recent New York Post cartoon hullaballoo, the racial aspect of this story is both unavoidable and unmistakable.) The trouble with police officers like Robert Powell is they tend to mistake citizens for subjects. For every professional public servant who does his job well, there is a Powell whose idea of the "thin blue line" is little more than "us vs. them" -- and we're all "them."
But Powell is merely a symptom of the underlying problem. As it happens, things could be much worse. In Great Britain, where you are in fact a subject, the police will hold you at bay while a family burns to death inside a house as they wait for the fire brigade to arrive. Reports the Times of London:
A pregnant woman, her husband and their three-year-old son were killed in a house fire early yesterday as police who arrived before the fire brigade prevented neighbours from trying to save them. The woman screamed: “Please save my kids” from a bedroom window and neighbours tried to help but were beaten back by flames and were told by police not to attempt a rescue.
That horrifying story provoked this perceptive comment from Mark Steyn:
Even if you understand the obligation to act in such a situation, the state will forcibly prevent you and (if recent form is anything to go by) ensure that if you disobey them you'll be prosecuted — pour encourager les autres to remain obedient sheep to the government shepherd.
It's interesting to read the words of the South Yorkshire Police spokeszombie:
The senior officer in charge is confident we handled this incident as professionally as possible. In a situation like that you could end up with more deceased bodies than you had in the first place
Well, there weren't any "deceased bodies" at the time Her Majesty's constabulary showed up. And there might not have been any had they not shown up at all. The incident has strange echoes of that fire at a school in Saudi Arabia not long after 9/11, where the fleeing schoolgirls escaped the blazing building but, because they were unveiled, were beaten back by the stick-wielding religious police to die in the flames. In both cases, the emergency responders who are supposed to save you (or at least make an attempt) instead wind up killing you — because a rote prostration before rule enforcement trumps their basic humanity.
Our Rothbard likes to say, "Cops suck." Well, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Better to say, per Steyn, that rote prostration before rule enforcement sucks. Although it isn't quite as punchy, it gets to the heart of the problem.
No. The Czar of the Teleprompter was not criticized for failing to fill out a hotties bracket. USA Today's Christine Brennan, who is usually a sensible sports columnist, upbraided President Obama for filling out a men's NCAA bracket and ignoring the women's tourney.
As the father of two athletic daughters, President Obama should know all about the importance of sports for women and girls.
Which is why he should have filled out not only a men's NCAA tournament bracket but also a women's tournament bracket in his well-publicized appearance on ESPN last week.
I realize the men's tournament is much more popular than the women's, and Obama is a big men's hoops fan and avid player, but the fact remains there is another top-notch college basketball tournament going on at the same time, and he absolutely should have acknowledged it.
He also should have insisted on saying his bracket was for the "men's NCAA tournament."
Those who don't use that pesky little adjective — and you know who you are — are acting as if there's no women's tournament at all, or it's so beneath them, it's not worth mentioning. This is rather silly. It is 2009, after all.
Ahhhh. Yes. The old "it's ... well ... whatever year it is, you knuckle dragging dope ... GET WITH THE PROGRAM!"
I love sports. I fill out brackets every year (and am doing pretty well so far, thank you very much). But no college basketball fan and general sports fan gives a hoot about the women's NCAA tourney. None. (Ok. That's an exaggeration. I believe there are five sports fans who watch it regularly enough to fill out an informed bracket, but they refuse to come forward and expose their lameness.)
ESPN, and columnists like Brennan, have been hyping women's college hoops for years. It's gotten tons of free pub and promotion on The Worldwide Leader of Sports. But despite having it crammed down ESPN viewers' throats, no one watches. No one cares. They play in front of largely-empty arenas. The games are often lopsided, and the caliber of play is too-often embarrassingly poor. It is hardly "top notch."
The NCAA Tournament (there's no need to put "men's" in front of it; everyone knows what you're talking about when you say "March Madness" ... and it ain't about seeing the legendary Pat Summitt prowl the sidelines for the Lady Vols) has risen to the status of an American cultural event. It's like the Super Bowl. It surpasses merely sports. NCAA pools are now an office staple. Wives and girlfriends, who merely tolerate the sports obsession of their significant others, have filled out brackets based on mascot names. And often, they get to brag about how much better they did.
To slyly accuse Obama of sexism because, ike 99 percent of all sports fans, he's not interested in watching the women's game is absurd. Yes. I'm running down the women's game in this post, but I'm not sexist, either. I just like entertaining sporting events.
For instance, I think women's tennis is better and more entertaining than men's tennis — and that is not just because of the cute girls who play the sport. It's simply a better version of the game. The men's game is often a big booming serve ... a mis-hit ... point to Nadal. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. If you're lucky, you get five shots in a rally. The womens' game is much more entertaining, and many more points are decided by shot strategy, guile and hustle.
So ... let it not be said that I've never defended Barack Obama. I've got your back on this one, homie.
The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has fined the organizers of the Dubai Tennis Championships $300,000 after the country denied a visa to a WTA member in good standing, Shahar Peer. Ms. Peer, the 45th ranked female tennis pro in the world, was denied entry into the United Arab Emirates (the model for moderate Arab/Muslim states) to compete in the WTA event last week because she's a Jew and an Israeli citizen.
To her great credit, Venus Williams, who won the tournament, saluted Shahar Peer in her victory speech.
"I thought she had to be mentioned and I felt I was going to, whether anyone else did or not," said Wimbledon champion Williams, when it was remarked that she was the only one at the prize-giving ceremony to recall what had happened.
"I had the opportunity because I had the microphone. I thought how brave she (Peer) was to come over here, to play in Doha (last year), and suddenly here not (allowed to).
"I thought of Althea Gibson who was excluded," she continued referring to the woman who overcame discrimination and exclusion to become Wimbledon's first black champion in 1957.
"She played and I thought of people who stood up and played with her when no-one else would," she said
The men's pro tennis tour hits Dubai this week, and another American tennis star — Andy Roddick — is taking a firmer stand. Though Roddick is the defending champion, he is not going to play out a sense of justice and solidarity with Peer.
"I really didn't agree with what went on over there. I don't know if it's the best thing to mix politics and sports, and that was probably a big part of it," Roddick said at a tournament in Memphis, Tenn.
"It's just disappointing that reflects on a tournament that probably didn't have much to do with the decision. Nevertheless, I just don't feel like there's a need for that in a sporting event. I don't think you make political statements through sports."
Well, you just did, Andy. And you made the right one. Well done. This American and sometimes-interested tennis fan is proud of you for forsaking a certain payday at that event on principle.
YouTube has announced the winners of this year's Super Bowl "Ad Blitz." Predictably, the mouth-breathers who frequent that site voted the moronic Doritos' ad the best of the year. Because nothing says "cutting-edge" like hitting a guy in the testicles with a snow globe.
It was funnier when The Simpsons did it.
Rounding out the YouTube top five are:
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Democracy simply doesn't work. Up yours, YouTube!
...because I really was hoping to hear his take on Michael Phelps.
Gee whiz. Kathleen Parker might have gone a little over the top with her criticism of Sarah Palin before the November election. But she really loses it in her defense of Michael Phelps in Wednesday's Washington Post. Don't they have editors there anymore? Here's an excerpt of what I'm talking about:
How f---ing dare anyone out there make fun of Michael after all he has been through!
He lost his aunt, he went through a divorce. He had two f---in kids.
His husband turned out to be a user, a cheater, and now he's going through a custody battle. All you people care about is….. readers and making money off of him.
HE’S A HUMAN! What you don’t realize is that Michael is making you all this money and all you do is write a bunch of crap about him.
LEAVE HIM ALONE! You are lucky he even swam for you BASTARDS! LEAVE MICHAEL ALONE!…..Please.
Actually, Parker makes some good points -- minus the vulgarity, which is really unbecoming for a serious columnist writing for a major U.S. newspaper. (That's right, I'm looking at you, Mathis.) Turns out, Sheriff Leon Lott of South Carolina's Richland County may be charging Phelps with a crime stemming from that now infamous photograph of the Olympic champ taking a bong hit. Parker believes -- sensibly -- that prosecuting Phelps is a waste of time and resources. And she's spot on when she writes, "we impose monstrous expectations on our heroes."
I agree. I made a ham-fisted and misunderstood attempt at snide commentary on the Phelps business the other night. Let's try it again.
Anyone as hyped as Michael Phelps (or Christian Bale... or Barack Obama, for that matter) is doomed. Nobody can survive the media scrutiny -- whether from the old media or new -- that comes with great fame in the 21st century. Laryssa Wirstiuk, who was disappointed with my initial sally the other day, put it pretty well: "Perceived heroes like Michael Phelps are caught being humans, and the epic fail is syndicated. Thanks to new media, we are the paparazzi and the editorial board."
I think that's about right. We tend to be hypocritical about these sorts of things, and we often not-so-secretly relish the sight of a hero laid low.
Whatever happens, my guess is Phelps will emerge better and stronger for it, a bit battered but his place in sports history secure. It's doubtful the drug laws will change, as Parker hopes. But the fame machine will keep grinding mercilessly along.
This News of the World photo has a bunch of people up in arms and might earn the Olympic gold medalist a drug charge. Bummer.
Over at Twitter, Monkey Brad and Exurban Jon had a brief exchange (as Twitter exchanges are wont to be) about Careerbuilder.com's ad. I guess it wasn't well received. Variety wrote today: "(W)hoever dreamed up Careerbuilder.com's bizarre campaign should perhaps begin looking for a new gig." That's needlessly harsh. See for yourself...
Two points about that spot. First, I laughed so hard, I sprayed the inside of my glasses with tears. Second, the ad, although hilarious and even true, makes absolutely no sense in the current economic climate. (So I agree with Jon.) I've used Careerbuilder and Monster.com. Last year, I sent out dozens and dozens of resumés using their services. I had a 100 percent failure rate. I'm not complaining; just reporting my experience. If I had a full-time gig right now, I would be be happy to cry myself to sleep at night.
Careerbuilder's commercial was funny, but it didn't quite hit the mark, either. Pepsi's "re-fresh" spot, on the other hand, was an unmitigated failure. (And, as much as I like "MacGruber" on Saturday Night Live -- this set with Shia LeBoeuf is a classic -- the bit doesn't work so well selling soda pop.) I hate hate hate the entire Pepsi Max campaign. No, Pepsi Max, you are not good. Budweiser ran out of horsepower with its Clydesdale commercials this year and, with the possible exception of Conan O'Brien, Bud Light was completely forgettable. And, thanks to Toyota, I now know that I am definitely not "Venza."
GoDaddy was horrible, as always. But, oh my God, did you see the ad for AshleyMadison.com? Unless you live in Texas, probably not. I hadn't even heard of the site until I saw the commercial -- and I'm sorry I did. (So why am I linking to the ad? Well, it sort of needs to be seen to be believed.)
Alright, then: So what worked?
Miller High Life's one-second ad certainly held my attention. Audi's "Chase 2009" ad with Jason Statham was cleverly cool. Coke and Coke Zero scored with Heist and its brilliant update of the classic Mean Joe Greene ad from 1980.
But my favorite ad of the day by far? Alec Baldwin for Hulu.com. As execrable as the man is personally and politically, he is impossible not to love on TV.
So Michael Phelps, the record-winning gold medalist swimmer of the Beijing Olympics, has been photographed smoking from a water pipe. A bong... that contained cannabis. Herb. Weed. Mary Jane. Marijuana.
Phelps cops to the charges. Good for him, I guess. But here's where my libertarian streak runs afoul of my reactionary self.
I don't much care whether Phelps drinks beer or smokes dope. That's his business. And, as far as I know, marijuana and alcohol are not performance-enhancing drugs. As a matter of fact, I had a few drinks before writing this, and I wouldn't presume to suggest my writing is better on account of the fact. I read that Phelps's eligibility for the 2012 games may be in jeopardy because of this scandal. On the face of it, I think that's a pity.
On the other hand, I have reason to believe that Michael Phelps is probably an arrogant savage. A jock. A frat boy extraordinaire. A real... prickly pear. My guess is, I wouldn't much care to keep the company of a Michael Phelps. Although he may be very good at what he does -- which is to say, he swims very, very fast -- Michael Phelps is a mere mortal after all. And kind of a jerk. Who needs another jerk? Gold medalist jerk? Eh... still a jerk.
And so, what are we to make of it all?
Well, I think it's simply this: Michael Phelps is a low-grade dope fiend who happens to swim well and who did understand that he had an obligation to his country to win. To his credit, Phelps acted the part and not stumble on stage. I think Michael Phelps is just a guy who wants to have a good time and who happens to be world famous. I think Michael Phelps belches and blorts like any other man. I think Michael Phelps has many more gold medals than you and I, and yet he's a typical American male: young and horny and inclined to indulge in the worst things in life. Who among us couldn't say the same?
Except for the gold medal stuff, I mean.
I'd rather Phelps be more discreet, and not be such a hedonistic jackball. I'd rather that Michael Phelps not appear in tabloids and not bring shame upon himself and his country. By virtue of Phelps's massive achievement in Beijing last year, he no longer has the luxury of being his own man -- insofar as being his own man means being a pot-smoking prick. What I require -- what I insist -- of Michael Phelps is that he be an unassuming American athlete who indulges in his petty vices on his own time and well beyond the view of the press or the wannabe press. It may not be a perfect world, but it's precisely the world in which Michael Phelps should situate himself. Far more decent men, with considerable psychological damage, have found themselves in Phelps' place.
And they've flourished.
For the Love of Pete! Please have more composure than this dude, who went nuclear when his New York Giants lost to the Eagles early in the playoffs. (Note the many references to the Mighty Steelers.) Oh, and beware the foul language.
Dude. You won the Super Bowl last year. Stop crying.
(HT: Mrs. Zaius for alerting me to this funny video).
Today began the new year of Judo at Red Dragon Etiwanda. We had a crop of new students from a nearby dojo. I have never seen a class quite so large. The group assembled needed to wrap around a second wall.
Today also began the intermediate class. Before today, our small group of white and yellow belts spent weeks learning 10 basic throws, 20 essential hand techniques, and 10 ground holds. We have mastered those moves to a certain extent -- enough to earn a new rank, obviously, but with much yet to understand. Now we can move on to new challenges.
We began working two new throws today. The first was Tai Otoshi, which is a cool throw, but a bit scary. Done wrong, you can severely injure your partner or yourself. The second was Harai Goshi, to which I took an instant liking.
Harai Goshi literally means "sweeping hip." It's a variation of sorts on what my Sensei calls "the perfect throw" -- Ogoshi, which means "Major hip throw." Ogoshi is the quintessential judo throw.
Harai Goshi is a good throw for guys like me -- stiff and still very much out of shape. Someone whose technique requires a great deal of work. A guy who considers himself lucky to execute Ogoshi adequately one time out of 10.
Once I figured out what we were doing, I said, "This should be a pretty good throw for me."
"No," my Sensei replied. "This will be a great throw for you."
Chris Warden -- professor of journalism, former editorial page editor of Investor's Business Daily, and my friend -- died Sunday night from complications following hip surgery. He was 51.
The news struck this morning like a hard slap to the face. And, oh God, does it ever hurt. I'll save the highlights of Chris's career for later. Right now, I want to share a few thoughts about my friend, to whom I owe a massive and irreparable debt of gratitude for years of kindness and wisdom.
Chris was a forthright and candid editor. More important, he was a good, decent man. Totally unpretentious. How could he not be? This was a guy who wore seersucker suits in Southern California! Sure, he was an avid golfer, but nobody's perfect. Above all, I will remember Chris as a consummate gentleman who was relentlessly upbeat when he had every reason not to be. When he was down, he didn't stay down very long.
It was for that reason -- well, that and the seersucker suits -- that I began calling him "The Colonel." As in Kentucky Colonel. But he deserved the honorific more than most. He was nothing if not honorable. I was pleased that the name stuck, at least in our circle.
Truth is, Chris hadn't been well for a long time. He suffered a variety of ailments over the years and periodically was hospitalized for one reason or another. A joint disease forced him to walk on crutches for most of his life and made him prone to accidents. A fall in his shower last week left him with a broken hip and in urgent need of surgery. He was also a hemophiliac, a condition no fault of his own that made his surgery much riskier and left him too weak to recover. I knew that he'd been having more frequent health problems in the past year, though he downplayed these troubles in our last conversation.
I used to drink with Chris. A lot. We were, after all, professionals. Several of us from IBD would repair to the Fireside Bar and Grill on Lincoln at Manchester, usually a couple of times a week, where we would take over the biggest booth in that little place. We hatched many editorials over martinis and vodka-tonics. Chris invariably assumed the master of ceremonies role. He kept the conversations lively with old stories about newspapers or his tutelage under M. Stanton Evans at the National Journalism Center. And then, of course, he would always ask his "table questions" -- things like, "What's the best Billy Joel song?" or "If you couldn't do this job, what would you do?" Opting out of an answer was not an option.
Although I had spoken with Chris as recently as June, I hadn't seen him in a few years. He drove to Rialto in 2005 to visit Millie, Benjamin and me when he was staying with some mutual friends of ours who lived way on the other side of the Valley. It was probably a two-hour drive one-way for what amounted to a 90-minute visit, but he made it anyway. And what a pleasure it was to see him, as always.
But Chris was often generous like that. Some time earlier -- probably in 1999, not long after I'd left IBD but before Millie and I were married -- I invited him to my parents' house for Thanksgiving dinner. He showed up in a jacket and tie bearing gifts -- a bottle of wine and an electric barbeque fork that tells the temperature when you stick it in the meat. When I told my dad this morning that Chris had passed away, he said, "I still have that fork he gave us. That's the best fork I ever had!" When I left IBD to go back to the Claremont Institute, he gave me a cheap pipe and a cap and gown in a battered styrofoam box. He took great pleasure in teasing me about leaving the newspaper for the more intellectually rarified think-tank world. "Don't forget the hoi polloi!" he'd say. I enjoyed ribbing him a few years later when he left the paper to teach at Troy State University in Alabama.
On the occasion of my 26th birthday, Chris gave a toast "to the youngest 40-year-old I know." Now that I'm approaching 40, I'm left to wonder what he would have said.
Rest in peace, Colonel. And thanks. Thanks for everything.
Update: The Troy (Ala.) Messenger reports Chris's death. I liked this comment from Steve Padgett, director of Troy's Hall School of Journalism:
Padgett said Warden’s teaching style was one that was hard to match: he taught the truth.
“I would say that probably one of the more difficult positions I’ve had to fill was always the print journalism field position because so many people that teach print journalism really teach agenda journalism,” Padgett said. “He taught the facts. The truth was more important than the agenda, and that’s really hard to find in someone.”
Some of his friends called him The Colonel, but his students called him Prof. Here is a lovely recollection of Chris by one of his students. "He believed in me," she writes, "when I didn’t believe in myself."
I know he loved his students. And his students obviously loved him.
(More after the jump. Click "Read More" below.)
Somewhere, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman are smiling.
LAS VEGAS, NV (AP) — A broken O.J. Simpson was sentenced Friday to as much as 33 years in prison for a hotel armed robbery after a judge rejected his apology and said, "It was much more than stupidity."
The 61-year-old football Hall of Famer stood shackled and stone-faced when Judge Jackie Glass quickly rattled off the punishment soon after Simpson made a rambling, five-minute plea for leniency, choking back tears as he told her: "I didn't want to steal anything from anyone. ... I'm sorry, sorry."
You're sorry? Too bad. Rot in jail, you smug, murderous punk.
Something called the "Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate" at the Pentagon has been reportedly testing a "pain ray." Better not to ask questions.
The idea, it seems, is to find a way to disable the enemy — or domestic rabble-rousers — without doing any permanent damage. If they poor targets are terrorists, we'd give 'em a bit of the death ray, search their person than then stick in the bayonette ... or ... er ... capture them and throw them into the tyranny of our judicial system with full habeus corpus rights.
Anyway, some fellas over at Wired volunteered to be test subjects. Even though they knew that previous beta tests didn't turn out so well.
The Active Denial System, or ADS, is a less-lethal weapon that uses directed energy -- millimeter waves -- to heat up the top layer of skin. It is specifically designed not to cause any injuries, such as burns. There have been several incidents of blistering, however, and the most serious accident took place last April, when the Air Force revealed that an airman taking part in a test of ADS had been injured severely enough to be treated at a burn center. Few details were made available about the incident.
Ooops. You know those Pentagon guys. Liars all. But the feds assured the Wired guys that they had it all worked out. No problems. No big trouble. Won't really hurt. Well, wouldn't you know it ...
Ok. I confess. That' wasn't the Wired staff's actual test. Their experience was even lamer — one person who is apparently driven off by a slight breeze. Here's the goods:
OK. Did that seem so bad? No one's disabled. The Pentagon had just one stinkin' accident. It happens. And even in the worst-case scenario, there's (sadly) little chance for an easy shiv to the belly. Yet the apoplectic Wired guys write this:
As a one time guinea pig, the question that comes to mind is whether I would have allowed myself -- and a loved one -- to be tested on had I known the full details of the April 2007 accident.
Well, you did volunteer. This is like saying: I didn't know that in some field tests, planes crash.
Good on the Pentagon. Get on with your "pain ray" self. Warmer, please.
Christ is just unstoppable with the ball in his hands, rumbling for 232 yards and three scores in a "Catholic victory" in New Jersey the other day.
Oh. Sorry. Wrong Christ.
From ExUrb Kevin:
Palin’s father, Chuck Heath, says he and his wife were caribou hunting when they were told to come home and tune into their local radio station to hear “exciting news,” .
They interrupted a caribou hunting trip to get the good news that their daughter was about to be nominated for the second-most important job in the world.
Man, I love this country.
Me, too, dude. And note that Palin's getting-up-there-in-years father and mother were hunting.
I'm guessing life-long NRA member Sarah Palin got that adorable couch throw herself — the old fashioned way.
As I watched Caroline Kennedy's introduction of her uncle, I noted: "If I'm hearing Caroline Kennedy right, Barack Obama is the second coming... of Teddy Kennedy?!?" Bad analogy. (I blame Twitter.) For as Jennifer Rubin astutely observed over at Commentary's Contentions: "Caroline listed Kennedy’s many achievements with the refrain after each one that for those who received the benefits of his work, 'Teddy is your Senator too.' The obvious problem: What has Barack Obama done to remotely compare with any of that? Kennedy’s life and accomplishments, whatever your political views, simply dwarf Obama’s." Let us pray that Obama's accomplishments never rival those of Kennedy, one of the worst blackguards of American politics, living or dead.
I don't know if anyone else noticed, but this year marks the third -- and, given Kennedy's health, probably the last -- consecutive Kennedy tribute at a party convention. I was on hand for Kennedy night at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. It was quite a bit more energetic than Kennedy night in Denver. (Go ahead and read that 8-year-old piece, please -- the party's message hasn't changed much since then.) What does it say about a political party that has tried and failed to pass the torch from one Democratic dynasty to another over the past eight years? (Which dynasty? The Kennedys or the Clintons? Both!)
Eight years ago, Ted Kennedy was "still the one." This year the musical intro and exit may have been the same, but Kennedy "passed the torch" to the One. Kennedy's speech Monday night was one tired liberal canard after another. Several commentators -- including my friends here -- thought Kennedy's speech was moving. Nonsense. It's quite possible that Ted dusted off the speech from L.A. eight years ago and made a few cursory updates. I thought it was just pathetic.
This is the way "Camelot" ends -- not with a bang, but a whimper.