Thursday, October 25, 2018

John Kerry Feels Left Out

This past week, bombs have been sent to the preeminent people on the left in America. The bomb recipients have been the faces of liberalism in the U.S. over the past 25 years. John Kerry, thus far, has not been among them.

Kerry was recently heard commenting on the mail bombs."I was a former presidential candidate and Secretary of State. How come Hillary Clinton gets one and not me? Joe Biden? Really? That old bozo. Eric Holder? I don't even know who that is? I'm John Kerry! I was one of the foremost voices in calling for the end of the Vietnam War. I was a senator from Massa-fucking-chusetts for 28 years! Where's my bomb?"

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Saudia Arabia Releases How Khashoggi Died

Jamal Khoshoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and disappeared. Saudi Arabia has had a few theories about what happened:

At first, the Saudis claimed he was involved in a fist fight at the consulate and died. He apparently bumped into former middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, who happened to be at the consulate for some unknown reason. Triple G landed a straight right-left hook combination after the two bumped into each other that ultimately killed that 59-year old Washington Post reporter.

It's possible that Khoshoggi suffered a paper cut while filing paperwork and bled out in the consulate, the Saudis argued.

The Saudis later announced that Jamal Khoshoggi didn't die. He never even existed. None of us has. We're all just figments of a higher being's imagination.

Another theory the Saudis have pushed is that Khoshoggi died of guilt after writing critical stories about the Saudi royal family. It's happened before.

An early birthday present was planned at the consulate and he died of a heart attack.

It turned out that some body parts were found in the consular general's residence (I hate when that happens), so the Saudis changed their story saying that Khoshoggi died in a horrific can opener accident. After he was mangled in the can opener, the consular general used the can opener to open a BPA-free can of beans and some of Khoshoggi's body parts ended up in the consular general's clothes that he brought home. It's happened before.

What if we admit he was brutally murdered, but MBS didn't know anything about it. No good? Ok, never mind.

The Saudis' most recent assertion: The Iranians did it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

2018-2019 NBA Predictions

East
Just missing: Chi, Det
Out in the first round: Cha, Ind, Mia, Was
Out in the East semis: Mil, Tor
East Finals: Bos over Phi 4-2

West
Just missing: NO, Por
Out in the first round: Den, Min, OKC, Uth
Out in the West semis: LAL, SA
West Finals: Hou over GS 4-3

NBA Finals
Houston over Boston 4-2

Monday, October 08, 2018

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Saturday, October 06, 2018

Top Ten Pound-For-Pound

Here's my pound-for-pound list. I take into account ability and accomplishment. The previous list was posted on July 1, 2018.

1. Vasyl Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) [1]
2. Saul Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) [Not ranked]
3. Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) [3]
4. Terence Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) [2]
5. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41 KOs) [5]
6. Leo Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs) [6]
7. Naoya Inoue (16-0, 15 KOs) [7]
8. Errol Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) [8]
9. Mikey Garcia (38-0, 30 KOs) [9]
10. Olexandr Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs) [Not ranked]

Exiting the list:
Sergey Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs) [4]
Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-1, 11 KOs) [10]

Saturday, September 08, 2018

A Worthy Product

Walking around the neighborhood with my twin babies, we encountered some religious missionaries knocking on doors trying to convert the residents. Later, there were people handing out fliers by the metro claiming that only Jesus can save us.

In my experience, if you have to work that hard to sell your product, it's likely because the product isn't very good. No one has to sell good products; they sell themselves.

Friday, August 31, 2018

A Breakdown of Who is America? Characters

Sacha Baron Cohen pretended to be six characters on Who Is America? Some fared better than others. Here I grade the characters on whether their sketches hit or miss and if it hit, how well did it do. If a sketch hits, it can receive as many as four points and as little as one. I use a baseball analogy, one I'm sure the British Cohen would surely appreciate, so a one-point sketch is a single, while a 4-point sketch is a homerun (HR).

The number of comedy hits versus the number of sketches the character is in is his comedy average (cavg) and the total points divided by sketches is his comedy slugging percentage (cslg). I've also include the number of HRs each character was in.

6) Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr.
.143 cavg; .143 cslg; 0 HRs

I like the Ruddick character in theory and the intro to his sketches are funny, but he struckout nearly every time. Bernie Sanders (Ep.1), NIH Director Francis Collins (Ep. 6), and Jill Stein (Ep. 6) came across as polite and knowledgeable in their interviews with Dr. Ruddick to little or no comedic effect. There was a lot of potential with Corey Lewandowski (Ep. 5), but Ruddick kept going a little too far and it made him look like a halfway sane man. Ted Koppel (Ep. 2) and Howard Dean (Ep. 6) were indignant, but not in a funny way. The only hit was Barney Frank (Ep. 7) and his indignation; Ruddick essentially played the straight man and let Frank's reaction take over. Still, the interview was only goo enough for a single.

5) Nira Cain-N'Degeocello
.333 cavg; .833 cslg; 1 HR

I thought Nira was funnier, but the numbers say otherwise. Too often, Cain-N'Degeocello said outlandish things and people reacted with grace. The South Carolina Republican couple (Ep. 1) Bone Krusher (Ep. 3) come to mind. That Utah Republican (Ep. 4) was less understanding, but he didn't take the bait that would've made that interview a success. The battle rap (Ep. 3) was had a feel-good moment when the one halfway decent line that Cain-N'Degeocello landed got some love, but it wasn't particularly funny.

When he gave birth (Ep. 6), that was funny for how much the guy believed it and there were some funny lines, but only enough for a single. The Arizona town hall was a homerun. The townspeople';s bigotry came shining through and Cain-N'Degeocello did a great job of trying to spin it to something more tolerant at which point the locals doubled and tripled down.

4) OMGWhizzboyOMG
1.000 cavg; 1.333 cslg; 0 HR

This character has been panned by the critics, but I like him. Yes, Joe Arpaio (Ep. 4), David Clark (Ep. 5), and Jan Brewer (Ep. 6) have said crazier things. But he still got Clark to say he would be against anti-fascists in 1930s Germany, and Brewer to allow a homicidal Shopkin to have a semi-automatic weapon. Sheriff Joe said that he would accept various sexual acts from the president, which was a double in my book.

3) Rick Sherman
.667 cavg; 1.667 cslg; 0 HR

I'm surprised Sherman, ranked so highly. I didn't really like the character and his introduction (Ep. 1). Yes, an art dealer gave him her pube, but otherwise, she seemed like a gentle understanding person during the piece and my sympathies were with her. Sherman then went after a better targets and scored better. DJ Jake Inphamous (Ep. 5) loved Sherman's bizarre musical set and so did his nightclub, which was good enough for a double. Get a faux food critic (Ep. 6) to wax poetic after eating sausage he believed was softened in a man's anus and thanking the family of the Chinese dissident her had just eaten was almost a homerun.

2) Gio Monaldo
1.000 cavg; 2.500 cslg; 2 HRs

Gio's success also surprised me. After an underwhelming start, pranking a former Bachelor contestant (Ep. 2), a skit that was funny in spots for the contestant's desire for fame but made me a bit uncomfortable, Gio came back strong. After exposing a yacht dealer's desperation to make a sale, Gio hit two homers by getting Mahbod Moghadam to hilariously show his racial prejudice and by punking O.J.

1) Erran Morad
1.000 cavg; 3.000 cslg; 5 HRs

Conservatives are apparently quite trusting of a former Israeli Mossad, I mean not the Mossad, agent. when it comes to terrorism. The Colonel was the funniest character by far. His weakest sketch was with Roy Moore (Ep. 3), still funny just for the fact that he used a fake pedophile director on him. Dick Cheney (Ep. 2), the anti-Muslim office demonstration, and the Real Housewives sit were good enough for 3 doubles.

Morad had more homers than all the other characters combined. The quinceanera (Ep. 3), Guns For Kids (Ep. 1), the courses with Dan Roberts (Ep. 5), Jason Spencer (Ep. 2), and the Liberal contest and women's march infiltration (Ep. 7) were the homeruns.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Power Rankings of World Leaders

Here's the new power rankings of world leaders. The last one was posted on July 24.

Rank Leader Country Previous Rank
1 Xi Jiangping China 1
2 Vladimir Putin Russia 2
3 Kim Jong-un North Korea 3
4 Ali Khamenei Iran 4
5Moon Jae-in South Korea Not Ranked
6 Mohammad bin Salman Saudi Arabia Not Ranked
7Abiy Ahmed Ethiopia 8
8Donald Trump United States 10
9 Justin Trudeau Canada Not Ranked
10Imran Khan Pakistan Not Ranked

1. The escalating trade war with the U.S. isn't helping too many people, but between the Belt and Road Initiative and the U.S.'s withdrawal from a position of dominance on the global stage, Xi has China in position of preeminent influence.

2. After making Donald Trump look like a Kremlin stooge in last month's U.S.-Russia summit, the Russian dictator had Trump inviting him to the White House. Even the American Director of National Intelligence was flabbergasted by that invitation.

3. Kim has been one step ahead of the U.S. since Trump took office. He dictates the game. He continues to send overtures of peace to South Korea, but only on his terms.

4. The Trump administration's hardline policy on Iran has served two purposes for Ayatollah Khamenei. It marginalizes moderates such as President Hassan Rouhani and provides a foil in the U.S. as anti-government protests persist.

5. The scene of long-separated Korean families reuniting, even if just for a few hours, was moving. President Moon helped to make that happen and he just might usher in an era of peace on the Korean peninsula. His legacy depends on it.

6. MbS has now picked a fight with Canada after the country's government called out his arrests of women activists. The Saudis tweeted out a 9-11 type threat against Canada on top of other symbolic gestures. It's like if Pharma Bro was the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. MbS runs his foreign policy like Trump if Trump had no checks or balances and was the least bit competent.

7. Besides finding peace with Eritrea and overseeing one of the fastest growing economies in the world, Ahmed is opening up space towards a free media.

8. Trump is reimagining American foreign policy as he cozies up to strongmen and distances his country from its traditional alliances. He's asked some interesting questions about America's involvement in far off civil wars and the cost of maintaining a military presence in over half of the world's countries. But those moments of lucidity seem accidental. For the most part, Trump has dealt with each foreign policy issue as if it were in a vacuum. It doesn't help his standing that his former campaign manager was convicted of fraud and his former attorney signed a plea agreement today.

9. Trudeau was in a spat with MbS and came out looking good by standing up for human rights. After a stunning rise onto the global stage, Trudeau has had his setbacks. This bizarre kerfuffle is the first start to redemption for Trudeau.

10. No one really knows where Iran Khan stands. The Aaron Burr of Pakistan has promised to root out corruption and set out a vision for peace with India. Whether the new prime minister can follow through on these promises is another thing. But, for now, the charismatic leader is saying the right things. And, perhaps more importantly, he's someone new.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Power Rankings of World Leaders

Here's the new power rankings of world leaders. The last one was posted on July 6.

Rank Leader Country Previous Rank
1 Xi Jiangping China 1
2 Vladimir Putin Russia 3
3 Kim Jong-un North Korea 2
4 Ali Khamenei Iran 4
5Shinzo Abe Japan Not Ranked
6 Emmanuel Macron France Not Ranked
7Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Croatia Not Ranked
8Abiy Ahmed Ethiopia Not Ranked
9 Sauli Niinisto Finland Not Ranked
10Donald Trump United States 9

1. The only reason the Chinese didn't collude with Trump in 2016 is because Russia beat them too it. All joking aside, U.S. President Donald Trump has been the gift that keeps on giving to Xi and China. The Belt and Road Initiative has filled in for Trump and America's increasing absence on the world stage.

2. After the World Cup helped give off the appearance of a statesman, the autocratic leader of Russia traveled to Helsinki to have a summit with the President of the United States. Putin had Trump eating out of his hand, parroting Putinist propaganda on issues ranging from Russia meddling in the 2016 U.S. election to Macedonia's participation in NATO potentially leading to World War III. Russian media hailed the summit as a victory for Trump. President Trump was eviscerated even by fellow Republicans. So of course, Putin received an invitation to the White House to rip Trump a new one again. Putin most ardent enemy in Europe is Theresa May who has been struggling. Her diplomatic boycott of the World Cup didn't gain any traction among other countries and two cabinet members resigned over her interpretation of Brexit. Putin is feeling high.

3. Kim is still living large off of his summit with Trump. He got POTUS to salute one of his soldiers and praise him endlessly. Trump trumpeted the summit as a victory for denuclearization and Kim decided to ramp up his program as a result.

4. Trump threatened Iranian President Hassan Rouhani over mild comments Rouhani made. Trump continues to embolden hardliners such as Ayatollah Khamenei and the Quds Force. Iran will likely be a nuclear power soon since Trump backed out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and even U.S. military power won't slow it down for long.

5. While President Trump has treated Abe like something to use and throw away, Abe has hit back by agreeing with the EU on a huge free trade deal. Also in the TPP, Japan is angling to be a leader in global free trade.

6. Macron's bid to be the leader of the Western Alliance faltered when Trump backed out of the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran Deal, and generally berated his allies. But France's World Cup win represented the benefits of multiculturalism and immigration. Defeating an ethno-state in the final drove home the point. That win has been soured by the Benalla Affair, in which a member of Macron's security detail beat the hell out of some protesters.

7. Grabar-Kitarovic was the true star of the World Cup. She traveled to the games from Croatia flying coach. She sat in the stands and cheered for her team. Then she took selfies with other fans. She also gave some world leaders Croatia jerseys. Her humility stole the show.

8. Ahmed heads one of the fastest growing economies in the world. On top of that, Ethiopia and Eritrea finally found peace. It's been a good few weeks for the reformer.

9. Niinisto, who hosted the summit between Putin and Trump in Helsinki, has led the charge to improve relations between the two former Cold War adversaries. Boy were relations good between the two. It was a love in.

10. The first U.S. president not to be considered the leader of the free world since World War II has fallen even farther down the list. He's actually in danger of falling off the list. Real intelligence professionals were seriously postulating as to whether Trump is a controlled asset of Russia. Others called him treasonous for backing Putin over all of his own intelligence agencies. He's trying to distract from his embarrassing performance in Helsinki by threatening Iran.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Mark Kriegel is Annoying, Bring Back Teddy Atlas

Late last fall, ESPN replaced Teddy Atlas with Mark Kriegel for their live boxing broadcasting. The switch was a mistake.

Teddy Atlas has his quirks, but what I'm looking for in an announcer is knowledge of the subject and  entertainment value. Atlas fills both requirements. Kriegel fills neither.

The Storylines
The perfect place for Kriegel on a broadcast is doing those bio pieces before the fight that I usually just fast forward through. Every action has some deeper meaning or some deeper story behind it with this guy. A fighter's orphaned childhood eating garbage out on the streets led him to that straight right-left hook combination in the 4th round. What the hell? It's a fucking boxing match, not a Russian novel. I want to know that he landed the combo because the opponent's left was low after a jab, not because he overcame bipolar disorder through years of intensive therapy.

The Repetition
I read Mark Kriegel's book The Good Son about Ray Mancini. It was enjoyable until he recycled the the same old trope: Mancini was avenging his father's career which was successful, but the father never reached the pinnacle of his profession. Kriegel never really built off of that idea, he simply repeated it. He does the same thing when he announces fights and introduces his storylines

The Lack of Knowledge
I blame Howard Cosell, but boxing has a long tradition of placing non-experts in the expert chair. You got the sense that Cosell knew what he was taking about. That doesn't mean Mark Kriegel also knows. Besides the occasional mention of a jab, Kriegel doesn't provide anything of substance. And when he mentions a jab, his accent travels back in time 50 years, but for just a word.

An ESPN official said they took Teddy Atlas off the broadcasts because he treated Kriegel horribly during one telecast. Yeah, because Teddy Atlas holds people who don't know anything about boxing to account. It was cathartic to hear Kriegel called out for his lack of knowledge about boxing.

You, Sir, Are No Larry Merchant
The gradual delivery, the contrarian attitude. Kriegel is channeling his inner Larry Merchant. The difference is we waited to hear Merchant finally finish his thought because it was worth waiting for.

Muhammad Ali Isn't Fighting Tonight
Max Kellerman had to learn this. Bringing up old fighters can be illuminating, but only if done so with care. When Kellerman first started announcing fights on HBO, he compared every Sakio Bika fight to Hagler-Hearns (not an actual example). Kellerman brings up old fighters more judiciously now. Kriegel should be taking notes.

The Jose Ramirez Fixation
Mark Kreigel is in love with junior welterweight contender (don't try to talk to me about the alphabet belts) Jose Ramirez. His infatuation with Jose Ramirez makes Dick Vitale and Duke look like puppy love. Kriegel has managed to mention Jose Ramirez in virtually every fight he's called this year. I mean, Jose Ramirez is pretty good and has a nice back story, but he's not the face of boxing or anything. I can deal with hearing about Jose Ramirez during his own fight and occasionally when another 140 pound contender is in the ring. But enough already.


ESPN should bring back Teddy Atlas. The only problem is Tim Bradley has really come into his own as an announcer since Atlas left. That's primarily because providing anything of substance falls completely on his shoulders during the broadcast. When he called a fight with his old coach, Bradley's voice was neutered. Now, he is the lone boxing expert on the team (all apologies to Joe Tessitore, but Tess does a great job of knowing his place). Neverthless, I'd be willing to sacrifice Tim Bradley's continued improvement if we can mute Mark Kriegel. In the mean time, I'll be patiently waiting to once again hear Teddy Atlas rip a judge's bad scorecard.