Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Final Update: Might Lead to Rioting

Class just finished up, and we've talked about nothing. He spent the entire hour and fifteen minutes talking about two subjects that are not going to be on the test. Furthermore, the topics aren't even of interest, even to me. So, awesome. Another wasted class period that would have been much better spent sleeping on a bench outside.



Live Update from that Philosophy Class Again

So the professor comes in late and starts messing around with the computer. After a minute or so, he decides he doesn't know how to get rid of that giant, loud clicking sound the mouse does whenever you, um, click. It wouldn't matter except the volume on the computer is at full blast, so every click is a sonorous roar. But the professor apparently doesn't know about computer volume adjustments, so we're stuck with it.

Next, he realizes he doesn't have his slides on the computer, and why? Because he forgot his flash drive, or, as he calls it "that thing (motioning a sword thrust with his hands) you plug into the computer." So we're going "old school."

This is a bad move. I'm taking notes on my laptop, and when my keyboard strokes are as loud or louder as his lecturing, we've got a problem. Even when you take into account the thunder my sausage fingers create as they rapidly tap out the veritable nonsense he's spewing, he should still be louder. It's a small room, for Stephen Colbert's sake.

Now, I made a vow (surreptitious, at best) to take good notes this class period to prepare myself for finals preparation. But I needed to type this blog. Fortunately, he spends the first fifteen minutes of every class going over what we talked about the last time (in a way that's easily as complicated and indiscernible as the first time we learned the material). So I have time to mess around, write a blog, read ESPN articles, etc.

In any case, his unnecessary preamble is nearly over. Back to the trenches kids.

Oh, and some ManLove. Well, it's ManLove if you're an awkward sadist (FILLMAN)


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A One Room Window

I am very insecure. I’m constantly in need of someone who will reassure me of my own intelligence. When I write something, I have to read it in front of people so I can tell by their initial, visceral reactions if it’s good or not. I don’t do this for purposes of revision and critique but because I need to be told that what I’ve written is funny, or smart, or witty, or good, or whatever. It’s an obsession, one that nourishes my psyche, and one without which I would cease to function normally.

But that last assessment brings into question the normality of my state of being if I’m in a perpetual cycle where my psychology is dependent on other people qualifying my work as good. I tell myself, out of habit and from some vague defense, that I’m simply unsure of the qualifications I give my own work; as the author, it’s difficult, so I tell myself, to judge with any measure the potency of my products. This, of course, is absolute bullshit. I know something is good right away and that’s the reason I read it aloud. I feed off of acceptance and compliments that I know I’ll receive. I turn that into the energy that keeps me going, keeps my mind in a sound condition.

But again, one must then question my soundness of mind if it’s wholly dependent on the positive judgments of others. I’m partially correct, though, when I say that I’m not qualified to measure my own work, but only in the sense that I’m not a good enough judge to say, with distinction, what a piece is worth. I can give a better than general estimation of the merits of a piece, but I can’t necessarily differentiate between great and excellent. I can most of the time, but not in every case, whereas I’m able to differentiate between great and average every time. Like any skill, it’s a work in progress.

I think sometimes that it’s natural to feed off of the support of others, to find nourishment and inspiration in their kind words, but I imagine that to say as much about my psychological insecurities is to spin them in a positive way, which is probably more than I ought to do. I suppose, though, that a realistic assessment of anyone’s psyche will produce an embarrassing framework, so maybe we all find nourishment in a different event, an event that we normally wouldn’t glorify. And perhaps my insecurities are no different than those belonging to friends and strangers alike. That isn’t to say we should accept them, but that, despite what I’m constantly longing to be told, I’m just like everyone else, at least in the sense that I’m psychologically inferior to whatever golden standard we might objectify.

But that’s what makes us human, I guess, that in a broad sense we’re less than perfect, and more particularly, we’re never fully aware of our own psychology, a psychology that is always unstable and weak. We may show strength at times, and even possess the stamina necessary to undergo traumatizing events without slipping into a psychological nightmare, but at some point, we’ll discover a weakness, a glaring one that seems to outweigh, or at least out-produce, the strengths. And in this, we are all brothers.

But maybe that’s another way of comforting myself, by saying that my mental infirmity is no more apparent than anyone else’s. By claiming brotherhood in some possibly fictitious community, maybe I feel better about being psychologically dependent on others (and, in my superficial mind, weak because of this).

I wonder, though, if this argumentation, this deliberate attack on my disposition, is detrimental to my overall well-being. Perhaps our irrationality is the one thing our rationality should keep away from, for maybe it’s the contradictions inside us that make life meaningful – and livable. If we’re entirely rational, life is robotic and without the guilty pleasures of knowledgeable sin, where you knowingly do something you think is wrong, if only because it feels good. But if we live life entirely irrational, we wouldn’t have the ability to recognize the distinctive pleasures each event gives in life: every pleasurable event feels the same. We’d also, I imagine, spiral into a web of chaos that no amount of external intervention could abate.

Maybe I can explain this through example: In my logic class, which is purely concerned with rational ideas, we were learning how to identify relationships in a symbolic language we were using called predicate logic. We were translating English sentences concerning loving into this language, and a guy made a mistake in how he formed a sentence. He said Lxy (x loves y) instead of Lyx (y loves x), which he thought were the same. To this thought our professor replied “It is the tragedy of the human condition that loving is neither a reciprocal nor symmetric relationship.”

Here we were, some forty of us, sitting in a class applying the rational parts of our minds to a task requiring absolute precision and abstract detachment, and we were presented with a thought that was grounded in the irrationality of human psychology and relationships. To fully appreciate the entirety of our professor’s statement, we had to take equal parts rational and irrational and see every side. On one hand, it’s logically true, in the universe of discourse we were dealing with, that loving was not symmetric, that just because x loves y, y doesn’t necessarily love x. And on the other hand, it’s a wholly realistic concept that required, additionally, our irrational selves to identify the irony and find pleasure in such a statement. It reminded me that at any given moment, we may have to call upon both halves of our minds, though they stand in contradiction, in order to understand the world and those around us.

So it’s probably the case that my insecurities are less than desirable and that a more ruthlessly efficient life might be lived outside of them, but I think I’ll stick with them, knowing that the kind of meandering, awkward, and at times depressing journey I wish to take is right at my fingertips.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Love Clifton

Props to Biggie for finding this shit. It's golden.


Monday, November 17, 2008

A Two-Way Street: Some Philosophy for Philippi

Life is hard.

This is a fact, a certainty, and an absolute. How we define “life,” though, is nothing short of a mystery. But that’s not my focus. My focus is on life, however you wish to define it, being hard. It’s a roller coaster, with lots of ups and downs. Its successes and failures ebb and flow stylistically like waves on a shore, but thematically they are predictable in an entirely different sense.

The tide coming and going is predictable to the extent that moon patterns are predictable (which they are, strongly), but life's successes and failures are much less identifiable. They would be more applicable, in terms of predictability, to skin pigmentation in newborn children.

The way they work is that a person’s genes hold the information necessary for a range of pigmentation. If, for simplicity, we take all skin pigmentation to be on a scale of 1-100, then let’s say all dark is between 80-100 and all light is between 1-20. When a person with a range of 1-20 has children with a person with a range of 20-40, the child will be somewhere in the middle of those ranges. It is random, but it will be towards the median of the two figures. So unless there is a mutation, two people with ranges of 1-20 will never have a child with very dark skin complexion or dark skin complexion at all, really.

This works for my conceptualization of life’s successes and failures. I view 80-100 (outside of the light/dark split and merely based on the numerological aspect) to be a person who works hard, prepares, researches, and educates oneself on an extreme level. 1-20, then, belongs to people who do almost no preparation, put no effort into anything, and do not make any attempt at educating themselves. A higher a person is on the scale, the greater the probability that they will have more success than failure. The ebb and flow of their life will tend to swing differently than someone lower or higher. This is not exact science, obviously, but it is a way of viewing life and the effort one puts into it.

So it is no surprise that someone like myself has successes and is “good” at a variety of “things,” for I put effort into life, or at least more effort than others. So it is no surprise that I’m a decent writer, a good reader, I’m musically talented, and so on, because I’ve put time and energy into those ventures – and it’s paid off.

But life was/is hard. It wasn’t easy, relatively speaking, for me to pick up the guitar and become accomplished. I had to spend hours and hours and hours going over scales and patterns and chords and what not. I didn’t spend a few Sundays plucking the strings; I spent an entire summer, seven days a week, six to eight hours each day playing guitar, or piano, or singing. So it is no surprise that I have the skills in that area that I do, because I put effort into that shit.

It would be easy for me to say at this point that to achieve success is merely the result of hard work. To a large extent, this is true, but there are exceptions and strange things can happen. Just as a mutation can cause drastic results in skin pigmentation, so can mutations cause drastic results in life.

An example of an analogous “mutation” would be a person who is, for some reason or another, naturally disposed to music. For that person, it might only take a single summer to become proficient on an instrument. While I believe there exist people with greater dispositions in certain fields, I do not believe that this disposition can be void, or negative. I think we all are disposed to every field, with varying amounts of disposition, but I think it works on a scale of gradation. There is no zero and only positive integers. So one person could be “highly gifted” musically while another can have almost no talent whatsoever, but they can still develop talent, albeit at varying speeds and, possibly, different ceilings. It might take more than a single summer; hell, it might take four, five, or six summers, but they can still achieve some level of success.

So failure in a particular field is merely the result of a lack of effort. Person A might need twice the amount of effort necessary for Person B to achieve similar results, but they can still achieve those results.

I suppose I should be explicit about “success” and “failure.” I’m using a broad interpretation with little relevant detail applicable to real events. When I say failure in a particular field is merely the result of a lack of effort, ‘failure’ should be interpreted not in terms of material wealth or critical acclaim, but in terms of ability. One might assume that ability, at some point, entails the previous two, but that’s not the case. Some of the greatest musicians never hear their songs on the radio.

In any case, the ebb and flow of one’s successes and failures can be, to a degree, ameliorated by how much work we put in. Even someone with huge stockpiles of natural ability in every conceivable field still needs to invest time and effort, even if the amount is relatively miniscule comparatively. Everyone must work in order to alter the natural ebb and flow of their life’s successes and failures.

It seems intuitive that we should aim for the 80-100 range. I did say that the higher one is on the scale, the greater the probability of successes outweighing failures. But perhaps one finds more meaning in life when they dwell in the lowly depths of the 1-20 range. Perhaps they find something more substantial than anything observable from the upper echelons. Or perhaps they don’t. I tend to think that every range has its own merits, its own knowledge to impart, its own meaning, and that a truly meaningful life might be lived by experiencing them all. Then again, I might be postulating using some pseudo-combination of mathematical precision and thematic chronology that really says nothing about the merits of each range and only attempts to qualify them inside my own head.

In that case, I’m wrong to some and right to others. I’m contributing to someone, somewhere, even if the road that leads me to such a person is circular.

I don’t believe all of what I’ve said here is wholly true, for theories and analogies about life can never be entirely right. Furthermore, theories and analogies about life are never wholly false. They all have something meaningful to say about some aspect of existence.

What I’ve written here is merely an attempt to say something meaningful. I realize that someone with little musical disposition will be hard pressed to equal Mozart or Beethoven in any respect, but I do believe efforts towards that end are not without meaning or substance, and are certainly not wasted. If anything, maybe more meaning is available when one reaches for the stars and fails; maybe we learn more about who we are and what this shit is really all about when we try and don’t succeed. Then again, maybe we just fail, and the only meaning lies in success. But I’m not one to judge, for I’ve found meaning in both. My failures have taught me at least as much as my successes. And perhaps the meaning inherent in success is overshadowed, in my life, by the blissfully arrogant catharsis that sweeps over me in such events. Perhaps whatever education I might have received, were I receptive, is blown away by my egoistical excesses.

And then again, perhaps not. Perhaps the only lessons are the ones found when we fail to fly.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Way of Life, Bitches

I should write a book. I'm going to call it "The Way of Life, Bitches" and put this picture on the front:


Friday, November 14, 2008

Double Post! For Philippi and Co.

(The first today was really long, so I'm sure no one will read it. With my readers in mind, I put the shorter of the two second so it would appear first, thus enabling everyone to read it without glossing over the other one.)

I seriously considered writing fourteen posts in fourteen days, all of which would have been sports-related and of substantial length.

The ideal situation was that Philippi and Co. would begin to read every post out of habit and friendship; but after venturing a meaningful amount of words into the post, they would be confronted with two options: either quit reading (because they're bored as shit) or continue reading (because they've made it this far, they mise well finish).

In either future, I would have won, for I would have successfully wasted 5-10 minutes of their time. And perhaps they would have been slightly demoralized psychologically, which would have been a plus.

But seeing as how I did not implement my plan, I must suffice with telling you in order to gain the mild satisfaction of knowing that you know that I know how awesome things could have been.

I win.

Well, sort of. I win in a I'm-Tracy-McGrady-and-I'm-better-than-you-unless-it's-the-fourth-quarter kind of way.


Let's Be Respectful but Honest

The more I learn about the American Revolution, the more inglorious it becomes. If anyone wants to have a discussion on this, I am more than willing to bite (but of course, no one cares so I’ll continue talking to myself).

Our nation views the Revolution as something of a miracle, a momentous event in history that foreshadowed all the greatness in the future of the United States. There were the self-evident truths that would later become the calling card of the country (at least conspicuously). And since Jefferson wrote those words in June of 1776, the nation has adopted them as personal mantras and the world has known, forever and ever amen, that America stands for such things (I’m jesting slightly, people).

Then there was the Continental Army, the ragtag group of soldiers that stood up to the greatest military force the world had yet seen. Headed by His Excellency, George Washington (the mythic hero of all space and time who can do no wrong [and didn’t, surely]), the army defeated a very stalwart entity and gained freedom (the catchword of the last 200 years) for the colonies, freeing them from the tyranny of an oppressive government, an overbearing monarch, and wrongful taxation.

And finally, there was unity, great and awesome unity; it sprang forth from the Well of Freedom and engulfed the Nation so readily, so rapidly, that we came together, banded as brothers and sisters among chaos, and stood up to the Axis of Evil (Great Britain and Great Britain accessories, er, mercenaries [Scots and Germans]). We were so unified it was freakin’ ridiculous, people. And though we have had trouble over the last 200 years, we have remained one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Really, it’s a beautiful narrative, one deserving of a Pulitzer of something, or maybe the Newberry considering its childish bravado and fantasy. But in any case, the reality of it is quite comical; and by comical I mean, hella-different.

About the only thing I can agree with from the above is the first statement: the American Revolution was a miracle, perhaps even a miracle of miracles; and, most certainly, it foreshadowed all the “greatness” in the future of United States. From an outside perspective, the collective colonies were betting against the house and the house was Great Britain. And the first rule of casino gambling? The house always wins. Always. Unless you count cards. In that case, the house loses. Unless you get caught. In which case they take all your shit and beat you up. Unless you’re black. Then they kill you.

But seriously, people, it was a freakin’ miracle…at first! After some examination, one realizes that Great Britain had to fight two wars: one over land and one over minds. The war over land seemed a foregone conclusion until one recalls that America was a pretty big place back then, considering relevant spaces in Europe and such. It was a lot of ground for 40,000 British troops to secure, and ended up costing them the war. The colonies were entrenched in their own houses, and so it was very difficult to hold entire swaths of countryside because the British couldn’t control the population – they simply didn’t have enough manpower.

And the war over the minds of the people was also a foregone conclusion. A good deal of colonists were pissed off as it was, but when British troops started fuckin’ shit up, killin’ people randomly, and burning down houses, those still harboring loyalist sentiment sobered up pretty fuckin’ fast. And by sobered up I mean, grabbed a gun and started shooting back.

So the miracle of miracles is really a superficial consideration. A sober analysis reveals a less complicated plot structure. Don’t get me wrong, it was still hard and shit, but we had a lot more going for us than we all realized at the time.

But on to the self-evident truths. These awesome words guaranteed equality for all (without initial qualifications in the Declaration itself). And that’s it. Er, they were supposed to guarantee equality for all, but then people realized that they couldn’t possible let people who didn’t own land vote. Nor could they let non-whites and women vote or own land. I mean, come on, that would be preposterous, right? Oh, and let’s not forget slavery. When you perpetrate mass enslavement against a single race of people you can’t go around talking about self-evidential equality for all. But this point is well observed and so I’ll say no more.

As for these words becoming an American Mantra, I feel that is correct. We did, eventually, get a bunch of stuff right, even if it took us countless generations of obviously immoral conduct to straighten things out. We’re still a long way from a truly egalitarian society in which these self-evident truths are fully guaranteed to all, but hey, it’s a work in progress.

Now we’ve come to my favorite part, the Continental Army. We’ve been led to believe that it was made up of freedom fighters, those hardened revolutionaries who fought for justice and equality and dove nose-deep into the trenches against British regulars. This, of course, is fiction. The far majority of “soldiers” that constituted the Continental Army for most of the war were immigrants – Scots, Germans, Irish-es, and so on – who, frankly, had no better prospects. Work was scarce and the army gave three square meals a day (on most days), and so service was a good idea. A great deal of the born-in-America Americans were militiamen who mostly disregarded orders, came and went as they pleased, and tried very hard not to do much of anything. So, once again, the immigrants were doing work that no one else wanted to do. Sound familiar?

All this jabber about George Washington being the Greatest Entity in the History of the World is a far cry from the guy himself. Sure, Washington had a number of great and admirable principles that he mostly stuck to. Sure, he led the army through some awful times and somehow came out on the bright side. But he was human. He was just like the rest of us. He had his faults (SLAVERY!) and was no saint or god or king or whatever the hell everyone calls him. The faster we view him as a human, as one of us, the faster we’ll be able to realize some of his victories and accomplishments in our own time. When you put him up on a pedestal, you make him psychologically difficult to imitate.

And this goes for all the Founding Fathers, and for anyone we put ahead of ourselves on some other plane outside of our dimension, because they were so amazing or whatever. Drop the extra-dimensional superlatives and realize that they began life as a simple person, just like you and me.

A lot of the self-evidential truths we fought for, as I mentioned, disappeared into the air. The claim that we freed ourselves from a tyrannical, oppressive, and taxing regime is true. And so is this: we gained a regime that was, at times, tyrannical, oppressive, and taxing. Certainly, we were better off with the new style, but to say that we went from one extreme to the other is to misunderstand what happened.

Our Great National Unity has remained intact, so the assertion goes, since that fateful day somewhere in the years 1775-1787 when we made all this shit happen. Aside from the Civil War, whose name implies disunity, I might add, we have had our schisms, our monumental differences, and numerous episodes in which all hell could have broken loose at any moment. And those are the real miracles, the times in which we didn’t disseminate into various warring factions like so many tribes. The fact that we are still connected as a single nation is incredible and we should be proud of this. But do not assume constant unity nor a unity that permeates the whole country, at any time.

So do not say our Declaration of Independence has always rung true or that the Pledge of Allegiance speaks sacred and necessary truths. Furthermore, don’t get angry at people who point this out (like me). For if liberals are always pointing out our faults, then conservatives are always trying to hide them. (Obviously, this isn’t true in every liberal/conservative case. It’s merely a rhetorical flourish that is correct more often than not.)

What I’m trying to say is this: I’m fine with recognizing events in history for what they were, but I’m totally not fine with all the absolutes we throw around – unified forever, freedom for all, unqualified tyranny to unqualified democracy. We serve ourselves and each other much better when we throw absolutes in the trash and reveal the shifting aggregate that is history, our history, and acknowledge our faults, support our strengths, and move on to a better future.

If we continue to view our history as a sparkling, placid lake with very few ripples, most of which were minor, then we do ourselves a disservice. Make no bones about it: history will avenge itself through repetition if we sustain our current thought


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Clever Title That Says Something About My Post

The Lakers/Mavericks game tonight was either a turning point or an indication of growth for the Purple and Gold, but I’m not sure which (and it’s not really important). The maturity they showed in Dallas against a team that could do no wrong for the first 30 minutes was truly an improvement over last year’s team, by a mile.

When the Lakers of Last Year were down in a game by double-digits, they, like all young/immature/bad teams would start doing things outside of their normal routine in order to erase the deficit – rushing offensive possessions, shooting errant three-pointers, and driving recklessly in the lane in hopes of drawing fouls. But great teams do none of this when they are behind. And the Lakers of Last Year were no great team. They were a good team. They should have been in the middle of the pack with all the other good teams, and the only reason they looked like a great team was because the Best Player in the World started at the 2.

And this was also the only reason they erased a number of double-digit deficits. But when they did, these last year Lakers never did so in a “good” way, a way that shows how good a team is as opposed to how good an individual player is. In erasing deficits, they never showed poise or maturity, but rather, the same qualities evident in the first quarter were evident in the next three; it was simply the difference-making of #24, Kobe Bryant, Best Player in the World, that turned the tables. For Kobe’s main goal in deficit games was to “fuel a comeback.” Usually, he would score a billion points in the last two quarters, single-handedly beating the other team, or he would spark a resurgence through a nasty three-point play or a “lick-my-balls-you-stupid-defender” three point shot. In any case, it was all about him – winning the game or lighting a fire under his teammates.

For example, against the Spurs last year in the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers were down big in the first game of the series, at home in Los Angeles. In the second half, Kobe scored a billion points, shredded the Spurs’ defense, and won the game by himself. A few games later a similar situation occurred, but this time, Kobe simply made a few big plays and the rest of the team woke up and delivered a comeback win.

Last night, however, everything was different. The Lakers of This Year showed why they are a great team, and no longer the good team of yesterday. They were down by double-digits nearly the entire game, until they made a run in the third and eventually took the lead near the start of the fourth. But what fueled the comeback? It wasn’t Kobe, it wasn’t veteran leadership, and it wasn’t Bench Mob Pandemonium – it was poise and maturity.

For great teams understand that what fuels comebacks is the same thing that wins games normally: consistent play, which means sticking to the formula. When a great team goes down big, it’s usually because a number of things aren’t going well. Their shots aren’t falling, even easy ones, they’re getting outrebounded, and they aren’t drawing as many fouls as the other team. When a great team wins, the reverse is true. So all a great team needs to do is stick to the formula and play consistently; eventually, shots will start falling and they’ll get more rebounds and fouls than the other team. The negative blips, in other words, will average out over the course of a game if a great team sticks to the formula.

To see examples of this, watch the Boston Celtics against the Raptors last week or the Lakers last year where they stuck to the formula no matter the deficit and eventually won the game. Or watch the San Antonio Spurs against the Suns almost every time to see consistent play end up the winner in the long run. It’s what wins games, it’s what erased deficits in the third and fourth quarters, and it’s what makes a team great.

And this is exactly what the Lakers did last night. They didn’t do anything different over the course of the game, they just played Lakers ball every quarter, from start to finish. In the beginning, they were missing every rebound, drawing almost no fouls, and missing lots of shots, especially the easy ones. Eventually, things started to turn around and in the last quarter and a half, they outrebounded, shot a better field goal percentage, and drew more fouls than the Mavs. In the end, their game averages were the same as their season averages. All it took was time and consistent play. No Kobe heroics and no Bench Mob Pandemonium. Simply poise and maturity.

The Lakers of Last Year would have relied solely on Kobe to get something going. The Lakers of the last year’s playoffs would have occasionally relied on their Bench Mob doing crazy, unheard of things to get them through a tough game. But they never played consistent, formulaic ball. Fittingly, the Lakers of This Year do all three, and last night showed their true transcendence as a great team.

So other teams beware, especially the Western Conference: the Lakers of This Year are no longer a good team with the Best Player in the World at shooting guard; they’re a great team with the Best Player in the World at shooting guard.

You’ve been warned


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Your Creator told you to love. Your Savior told you to love. Your book, your beliefs, your worldviews – they all tell you to love. So why don’t you love?

You are greedy. You want love all to yourself. You want to love who you want to love and enforce legislation that disallows others the same luxury.

You are a bastard.

You are treason to your Book, treason to your God, treason to your Savior.

You are treason to the Love you so dearly profess.

Universal Love does not consist in keeping others from marrying whomever they choose. Universal Love consists in loving – and that’s it.

So you are a bastard, a horrible piece of garbage disguised as something better. You should be ashamed, but it is impossible, because to know shame is to be human. And you are not human. You are less than human. You are garbage.

Go through your Book and tell me where Universal Love requires hate. Go through your Book and tell me where Universal Love requires discrimination, the augmentation of inequality, the complete dissolution of the egalitarian spirit your Savior taught you to embrace.

Your arguments, your reasoning, and your “logic” all fail. Time and again, your “rational” theses about homosexual marriage stand inert in the face of true, rational thought. They stand inert in the face of Universal Love.

So you are a bastard, a horrible piece of garbage disguised as something better. Return to the woods and live like the animal you truly are.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Role Models and Bad Asses

Why is it that we see athletes as role models? And further, why is it that we feel justified penalizing them when they do not act accordingly?

The dominating view is that athletes are role models because they are in the national eye very prominently and children look up to them. Moreover, they should be penalized in their respective leagues for doing things not in keeping with this view. Our children look up to them and when they do “bad” things, it tells our children such an action is permissible.

So let’s examine what’s happening here. Child A looks at Person X, sees them do Action a, and decides that Action a is permissible because they look up to Person X. The child likes a person, an athlete in this case, and seems to logically deduce that whatever that person is doing must be alright for him to do, as well. And so, presumably, they do those things.

What about books? What about TV shows? There are characters involved that children could and do look up to, ones that also do things that we would consider “bad.” Should we then make our children avoid anything written by Dostoevsky? Avoid TV shows like House which has a character you love that’s an arrogant asshole? These mediums, and others, have characters whom our children look up to; and a number of these characters have qualities we would normally find deplorable and do things we would not want our children doing. So why not treat them in the same manner as athletes?

Now, some will argue that these are all fictitious entities and so they can’t be fairly described in the same way as athletes. But the return question should be: what’s the relevance? Fictitious or not, they are role models for our children.

And what about dead people whom we look up to and view as role models? Certainly Henry Ford is seen as a role model, but he was a tyrannical boss and hated Jews. Do we tell our children to hate him and not see him as anyone special or important?

No, of course not. The problem with all this is a misaligned desire to have our children pick role models who are perfect, in every way, and that’s not only impossible, but stupid. Yes, stupid. If everyone tried to have role models that were perfect they would be disregarding that part of life that isn’t perfect, an understanding of which is essential. (And don’t tell me you can just pick Jesus as a role model; if you think he’s perfect, blow me.) When children fail to recognize that life is shitty sometimes, they fail to live in the same reality as everyone. They fail to see what it means to be human, what it means to live and die in this world. And thus they fail to live correctly.

We should tell our children to respect and admire the good qualities in all people while deploring the bad ones. So Henry Ford's ingenuity and business sense should be admired, while his ethics and Jew-hating should be despised. Or Einstein's genius, and not his penchant for adultery. Or George Bush's...wait, that doesn't work.

Anyways, I want my child to look up to Terrell Owens. Yeah, he’s an arrogant dickhead, but he’s also fucking amazing. He’s one of the best athletes in the world, he’s an incredible wide receiver, and he’s a better basketball player than half the NBA. So if my kid comes home and puts his poster on the wall, good. I’ll make sure he recognizes the arrogant dickhead part, and that’s that.

So let’s stop penalizing these guys for doing stupid shit off the field. If the guy gets caught with an ounce, so what? He gets arrested, pays the fine, does his shit for society, and that’s enough. The NFL shouldn’t feel the need to further exact justice on the guy. And they shouldn't be worried about how others view their league, either, because no one actually cares if they're all criminals, as long as Sunday is still entertaining. Can you imagine a parent saying "Timmy, you can't watch football because only criminals play"? And parents shouldn’t get all pissy about someone being a “poor role model.” If you do, shut up, you’re dumb. Teach your kid how to differentiate between right and wrong.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The End and the Beginning

"[P]eople of the world - the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again."

"It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children. But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins."


Funny and Hillary-tastic

A classic, a real gem.

At 1:22, I wet my pants.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Pistons Defense and Kobe the Asshole

So the Pistons defense has looked interesting after two games. They beat the Pacers 100-94 and the Wizards 117-109. They're defensive efficiency rating is worse than Golden State who don't actually have a defense. They just let the other team shoot the ball at the bucket a couple of times until it inevitable makes its way back to their end of the floor.

Now, the Pacers and Wizards are bad teams, but defensive efficiency doesn't lie. They gave up a lot of easy shots. Also, the Pacers scored the same amount of points against the Celtics who lost by a billion. And the Wizards, against the No Defense Nets, managed a low 85. So the Pistons are a little rusty defensively...at least that's what Keith is hoping, I bet.

And the Iverson trade? the analysis of it is simple, and boring. But I will mention that Keith cried when he found out that his new Pistons-bench-player-who-should-play-more was thrown into the trade. Goodbye Cheikh Samb, hello Keith's tears.

And now to Kobe vs. Blazers: Or, The Most Talented Asshole on the Court vs. Some Dudes From the Park

Just to annoy Jon, I’ll talk about Kobe’s greatness for a minute and then say why he was an huge asshole against the Blazers on Tuesday.

Against Portland, he really showed his developing ability to judge the game, to decide when and what to do at every turn. He was more or less a team-first player in the first two quarters: he grabbed 8 rebounds, a steal or two, 5 assists, and only scored 6 points. And his team was up by close to 20 at the half.

In the first three minutes of the third quarter, the Blazers went on a solid run. The Lakers defense was collapsing, they couldn’t buy a bucket, and things looked ugly for a minute. At around the 9 minute mark, Portland scored an easy basket to cut the lead to seven and Kobe immediately called for the inbound pass. If they had been paying attention, Portland probably would have forfeited on the spot.

Kobe took the ball up the court and went around the Bynum pick at the top of key. Przybilla was waiting for him on the other side, right next to Bynum. Instead of going around him, which would have been oh-so-easy, Kobe went right into him, hard, drawing the foul. His reaction afterwards told the story: he immediately dropped the ball to the ref, high-fived some teammates, and completely ignored Przybilla who was muttering death threats and giving him The Stare from about 6 inches away. Kobe had planned it; he grabbed the inbound pass at the other end knowing full well he was going to go hard at the first Blazer he saw, no matter who it was. He knew it was time to shed his assist-throwing nature for the moment and score some points (and be a dick about it, too).

And the next few possessions were a testament to that prediction. That same possession he calmly tossed in a three point dagger. After a wasted Blazer possession, he went all the way to the rim, right at Przybilla again, making the layup and drawing the foul, sending Przybilla to the bench. On the replay, you can see Kobe veer slightly away from the basket in order to go into Przybilla for a foul; he has a clear path for the easy dunk, but as Przybilla turns around lamely, Kobe leaps into him and makes the acrobatic layup. After sinking the and-one, he watched the Blazers screw up another possession. Kobe then taunted Brandon Roy at the other end by standing behind the three-point line two feet from the Blazers bench. He kept pivoting his foot, over and over again, and eventually threw up another casual three pointer. I suppose the Rookie of the Year Award is rarely given for defense.

So here it is, another performance that shows Kobe for exactly who he is on the basketball court: the Most Talented Asshole. He plays the game incredibly well, judges what to do and when to do it (which is a new improvement), and then when he erupts for points, he can’t help but flip the other team the middle finger. In this case, he might as well have raped Przybilla’s underage teenage sister right in front of him. I mean, he drove at the guy twice when he didn’t have to just to draw fouls and put him on the bench. Tactically, it was a smart move because with Oden out, Przybilla was the only guy on the Blazers above 6’9”, but still, teenage sister, honestly.

So there you go, Jon. Kobe earned himself, simultaneously, the awards for Asshole of the Week and Player of the Week. Oh, and the Celtics lost by a billion. Did I mention that?


Sunday, November 2, 2008

The New York Knicks: A Shakespearean Tragedy

Watching the Knicks play basketball is painful. It’s like watching the D’Antoni Suns without all the good players…which means it’s like stabbing yourself in the eye with rusty, disease-ridden scissors: you’re immediately pained by sharp things being in your eye and you’re in a world of trouble later when you develop cancer or something.

The Knicks live and die by the three. They take three-pointers almost as often as everything else, and they miss about 70% of the time. Under D’Antoni, they’re doing a great job of passing the ball, but it’s ugly to see four quick passes in rapid succession (that’s double quick!) and then see Richardson, Crawford, or Robinson lob a bomb that inevitably bounces off the front of the rim into the prepared hands of an opposing frontcourt player. And that’s the best part: opposing big men know that the bucket is going to rim out or whatever and so they’re uber prepared to get the board, but the Knicks frontcourt? Clueless. They think it’s going in every time and so they’re out of sight before the ball is halfway to the hoop. If they just accepted that it’s going to bounce off way more than half the time, they could have a number of offensive rebounds and good, solid putbacks. Instead, they’re left with an empty possession and a fast hustle up the court to the other basket because of a fast-break opportunity. That’s painful to watch.

And all of the players on this roster seem ill-suited for, um, basketball. Or rather, they seem ill-suited for basketball that requires a team effort. They seem more prepared for street ball in Philadelphia than professional ball in New York Fuckin’ New York. Sure, I just said they pass the ball well, but that doesn’t mean they play team basketball. That just means the ball is moving hands. What happens is the ball moves hands, a lot, and then someone eventually decides it’s up to them to take the shot. So you’ll see the ball go from Robinson to Randolph to Crawford back to Randolph for the turn around jumper off the double team. Or sometimes you’ll see this weird circular passing thing that happens where the ball will go all the way around the perimeter and back until someone takes the misaligned three pointer (missing it, of course). Duhon will run up the court, stop at the top of the key, throw the ball to Crawford in the corner, who will immediately throw it back to Duhon (which the defense NEVER saw coming, right?), who will fake throwing it back to Crawford and instead “surprise” everyone by throwing it to Richardson in the other corner, who was open earlier, but not anymore, and still fires the three anyway.

What it comes down to is this half-hearted effort to take in D’Antoni’s system. They pass the ball well, but they still think that everyone on the team sucks and so each person will take it upon himself (or herself, in the case of Randolph [it’s the manboobs]) to drive ineptly to the basket or pull up short and take the jumper (because they see Kobe do it every night). The only difference is that Kobe is ridic (or Jordan, or Iverson, or Melo, or Wade, and occasionally James [at the pull up jumper specifically]).

Here’s an example that just happened: the ball movement was good, and eventually it came around to Malik Rose on the wing. Rose, in typical fashion, decided that if everyone was just going to pass it, he was going to take it to the rim (muttering “silly bitches” under his breath, for sure). So he dribble fakes, drives to the rim, gets by his defender surprisingly, and just past the rim he tries to do a reverse layup in the manner of Dwayne Wade. Unfortunately, his hand didn’t get high enough and before he could even release the ball, it hit the bottom of the rim (clunnnnggg!). Rose got fouled and so he had a chance for mini-redemption, but it didn’t matter; the damage was done.

What seems apparent with the Knicks is an influx of ego. Every player was recruited by Isiah Thomas in the past and given a bigger salary than they were worth, and immersed in an environment of me-first living, which automatically translated to the basketball court. All of the scandals and turmoil surrounding the organization over the past few years helped mold the players into solid egoistic basketball playing both because everyone else was doing it and because it was probably safer to think about your own neck in such a hotbed of shit and frustration. If you made better stats than the next guy, you had a higher probability of staying on when the inevitable roster implosion occurred. So D’Antoni has to work against this mountain he inherited, work against the entrenched psychological mindsets of his entire roster. They are confronted with something entirely new and in contrast with Isiah-ball and they’re not sure if they should open themselves up to it. They think it’s still safer, for the first year, at least, to play egoistically so when the real roster implosion occurs, they’re not cut.

Paychecks are paychecks and after a tenure inside Madison Square Garden, it’s unlikely other teams are going to pick you up before March. Anyone want aging, overweight frontcourt players? Randolph and Curry. Wild, shoot-first point guard with no respect for team games? Marbury. Awful, me-first ball players with little use for fundamentals? Robinson, Richardson, Crawford, Rose, blah blah blah the whole damn team


It Feels Good to Be a Lakers Fan

"Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe, Kobe, Kobe. God, I'm sick of Kobe. Will he or won't he be traded? The drama never ends. But this team isn't going to be a contender with or without Kobe. Yes, yes...it's a good time to hate the Lakers."

Basketbawful.com, October 30th, 2007

"The Los Angeles Lakers won 57 games in the toughest conference in the history of everything and went to the NBA Finals after destroying the reigning champions en route."

Paraphrase of NBA.com, June 2008