Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Pope

Certainly Jews have had a tumltuous relationship with past popes. So, as a Jew, the Pope's failing condition shouldn't matter much to me. But as a human, it does. I resent the way the United States' cable news media has used the pope's illness as a ratings booster. Where is the decency of these people? I would be surprised if these scum don't think about death and tragedy as their "big break." You people at Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN make me sick.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Chinese Borders

China reopens border crossing to Kyrgyzstan

''China's border port with Kyrgyzstan in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Irkeshtam, reopened on Monday after a six-day closure amid the current political crisis in Kyrgyzstan,'' Xinhua said.

Here's the link:

Kyrgyzstan's Ousted President Says He Will Not Resign
The New York Times
By Craig S. Smith

"Kyrgyzstan's ousted president, Askar A. Akayev, said today that he would not resign, despite calls from the country's new government for him to do so."

Here's the link:

Gentile Soccer Fans are Proud to be Jews

The Dutch soccer club Ajax's supporters have been called "Jews" for the last fifty years by the fans of rival squads. In response, the Ajax's fans take pride in their adopted identity. The bizarre thing is that few of these fans are actually Jewish. When I first read this article, I wasn't sure what to make of it. It just seemed confusing. After thinking about it a bit, it seems an awful lot like minstrel shows in the United States over the last two centuries. This is where white people "perform" in blackface and mock black people. Some of these "performers" have, unfortunately, also been Jewish.

It is perfectly legitimate to take pride in another's culture. I would welcome anyone to take pride in the legacy of persistence and courage of the Jewish people. We might take pride in that same type of courage and willingness to fight for their rights that black Americans have displayed. Or in the Indians determination to obtain self-rule and cast the British out of their land. Or the honor and grace of the Native Americans in their dealings with the European colonists. And the list goes on and on. We do not have to be a member of a particular group to appreciate what they have given the world.

Having said that, these fans do not seem to comprehend the meaning of being Jewish. Being Jewish is more than withstanding anti-Semitism's notorious past or unfortunate present. In addition, withstanding anti-Semitism is more than receiving a few quips at a soccer game and then having the ability to forget on the way home after the game. Being Jewish is a set of rules and rituals for sure, but it is also an identity. One that does not leave after a match is over. It is one that never leaves us. Sometimes it haunts us, sometimes it is a source of pride, and sometimes it is neutral, but it is always there for those of us who are truly Jewish. It may seem exotic and thrilling to some to be the recipient of some crude anti-Jewish remark, but for the Jews who have been on the end of such vile, it is a pain that stays with us until our dying day, whether we acknowledge it or not. Being Jewish is not for amateurs or part-timers, for some of us, it is reality.

Here's the highlights:
A Dutch Soccer Riddle: Jewish Regalia Without Jews
Amsterdam Journal
By Craig Smith

"Jews, Jews, Jews!" thousands of voices cried.

Fans arrived with hats, jackets and scarves embroidered with Hebrew writing.

Few, if any, of these people are Jewish.

For years, the team's management supported that unique identity. But over time what seemed to many people like a harmless - if peculiar - custom has taken on a more sinister tone.

Fans of Ajax's biggest rivals began giving the Nazis' signature straight-arm salute or chanting "Hamas, Hamas!" to provoke Ajax supporters. Ajax games have been marred by shouts of "Jews to the gas!" or simply hissing to simulate the sound of gas escaping.

Nonetheless, the club became identified in the public mind with Jews in the 1950's, and by the 1970's, opposing fans began to call Ajax supporters Jews. The supporters adopted the identity in a spirit of defiance.

"Not only Jews are bothered by this," said Mr. Jaakke, "I'm not Jewish and I hate it, too."

Mr. Jaakke said there had been some suggestion that fans substitute the word "Goden," or gods, for "Joden," or Jews, and call themselves "sons of gods," on the logic that Ajax was a sort of god.

Here's the link:

Monday, March 28, 2005

Elite Eight Review

The Elite 8 saw three of the four games go further than their originally scheduled forty minutes. In the first game, I needed Louisville to win to keep my chances of winning the pool alive. When they were down 20 points, and West Virginia was winning the three-pointer war, it didn't look good. The Cardinals had fought back to cut it to 13 by halftime. They played much better in the second half, but West Virginia's Mike Gansey and Kevin Pittsnogle kept hitting big shots when it counted. The Louisville cause seemed doomed. Instead of going on a big run, as expected, Louisville crept back into the game. With Garcia fouled out, Dean took over. O'Bannon helped out and by the waning seconds of the game, Louisville had the final possession with a chance to win. They missed and the game went into overtime, where Louisville's momentum carried them to an easy victory in the extra session.

One win, three to go. Next I needed Illinois.

Illinois was playing Arizona tough and maintained a slight lead by halftime. The Wildcats' Salim Stoudamire was shooting poorly, which wasn't hurting my chances either. With four minutes left in the game, Illinois found themselves 15 points down and exhibited no intensity. I called my brother to concede. This from the very same guy who not only thought the Buffalo Bills would win down 35-3 in the 2nd half of the 1993 AFC Wild Card game, but KNEW that they would. Ian, didn't pick up the phone. By the time he called me back Illinois was making a little run. It was down to 9. I told Ian that "I just called to say things aren't looking so good for me right now, but it's looking a (down to 7) little better now." Darron Williams shut down Stoudamire and kept the Illinois ship afloat offensively. He hit big three after big three until overtime was finally forced.

Illinois' overtime gala wasn't as easy as Louisville's. Back and forth the teams went until Illinois won after a missed Arizona shot at the buzzer. Two games won, two more to go. I needed two upsets on Sunday.

UNC came out of the gate firing on all cylinders. I figured that if Wisconsin got down early the game would be over and so would my hopes of coming back to win the pool. But Wisconsin did come back. Sean May dominated the Badgers defense, but inexplicably UNC went away from the big man towards the end of the first half. Wisconsin went on a big run to tie the Tar Heals at 44 by halftime. However, this was not the style of play that Wisconsin wanted in order to win. The second half was played in the same tempo, and Wisconsin's scrappy effort finished six points short. And with their defeat staring me in the face like the stench of failure, I laid on the couch ignoring any attempt to console me.

I had watched so much basketball. This was going to be the year of my triumphant return to sports-following prominence. Alas the ides of March had concocted one final blow (not counting the diarrhea that plagued me last night). I was now officially eliminated, the fate that I had figured would come into fruition a week and a half before. But now it had actually come and the old cliché of wait til next year was plastered on my consciousness.

Michigan State beat Kentucky in a double overtime thriller. The Kentucky dude's foot was slightly behind the three point line (see review of championship week for thoughts on that issue). The Final Four is next Saturday.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Sweet Sixteen Day 2 Review

Tonight saw me root against the two teams that I had predicted to win. So the scenario for me to win the pool is: Illinois must beat Louisville in one national semifinal game, then win the championship, and neither UNC nor Kentucky can make the Final Four.

NC State took an early lead and kept it into halftime against Wisconsin even with Hodge struggling. Wisconsin got hot in the second half in order to advance to the Elite 8.

Michigan State upset Duke. Remember I had thought that both teams were weaker this time around than they have been in recent years. Neither really has faced any top teams in the tournament before tonight.

The next televised game Utah's Andrew Bogut plays in very well may be in the NBA. Kentucky was just too much. Randolph Morris is plenty good. That message for the announcer that said Kentucky couldn't deal with Bogut.

The best game of the day was the UNC-Villanova game. It was the classic underdog matchup. Villanova lost their top big man Curtis Sumpter last game to injury. So they started four small guards against one of the biggest teams, and arguably the best team. Kyle Lowry, a freshman, played the game of his life thus far. He had no fear. I've always liked Randy Foye, and he showed the talent and heart to win the game. Allan Ray struggled, but he hit a twirling, spinning, clutch shot with time running down, and drew the foul, when Villanova was down three. Unfortunately, the ref had UNC winning it all in his pool and called a travel. To give the ref some credit, it was almost a travel. Taking three steps is a violation, and Ray took two, which is only one step away from a travel. Despite that horrible call, Villanova still nearly pulled it out. But alas, when the ref picks UNC in his pool, they're going to get the close calls (again he was only one step away from being right, almost like that Aretha Franklin song).

Elite Eight starts tomorrow. Let's go Illinois and Louisville.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Sweet Sixteen Day 1, Bittersweet Memories

After my 14 out of 14 possible streak came to an end, the bottom has fallen out of my predictions a bit. Within a matter of minutes, I went from somehow leading the pool with 50 members, to in a bit of trouble again.

Illinois was able to handle the Wisconsin-Milwaukee pressure, especially in the second half. The Panthers' Joah Tucker led the way with 32 points. Illinois was simply too talented and won relatively easily. Bye Bye crazy preacher-looking coach!

Louisville also coasted against Washington. Nate Robinson got three early fouls, and Washington couldn't hold on without him on the floor.

You know it doesn't matter if you picked Texas Tech and West Virginia to make the Sweet Sixteen if you chose the wrong team to go to the Elite 8. Ross struggled for much of the game, despite a few steals that turned into dunks. You can't question his heart though. If I could've of chosen a team right before the game started, I'd have picked West Virginia. But, as we all know, you can't do that. So I'm willing to go down with my original Texas Tech pick. It's been fun to watch West Virginia's run, especially the Wake game, but it should end against Louisville on Saturday.

Oh Oklahoma State. The end of so much occurred tonight. Players' careers, the career of the head coach, that's about it. I knew Arizona was a tough team, but I thought Oklahoma State would pull through. Oh well, that's why pencils have erasers. Unfortunately, I wrote my picks in pen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

To Live or Die

The big news story in the United States is the Terry Schiavo case. To be honest, I might be the only person in America who is not all that familiar with the case. I believe this woman suffered brain damage and is in a vegetative state, being kept alive only by a feeding tube. Her parents feel that the tube, which was taken out last Friday, should be put back in to keep her alive by artificial means. Her husband says that the tube should remain removed because it would heed his wife's wishes.

The issue is not whether Terry Schiavo is or is not in a vegetative state. If she is not in a vegetative state, and she has hope to recover, then of course her life should be protected. As I said, I am not familiar with the technicalities of the case. The issue is whether a person should be kept alive at all costs.

Perhaps Mr. Schiavo's motivations are pure. Maybe they really did talk about what to do in this type of situation. Perhaps he is trying to carry out his wife's deepest desire. Of course, maybe his intentions are not as moral. Maybe this is simply a PR stunt and he wants to look good, but he really does not want to worry about his wife anymore. It is possible that her parents' know her true desire to stay alive by any means necessary. It is also possible that her parents want to keep their daughter alive out of selfishness. She could be suffering greatly and has chosen her time to die, but her parents aren't ready to loose their daughter, even if it is at her expense. Evidently she did not have a living will, so we cannot know her true wishes.

It is not up to us to judge their intentions, that is not what this case is about. They key here is to carry out the affected person's will. This requires extreme empathy. Would this person want to suffer and live, or die in peace? The question is not how this person's living or dying will affect me, but how will this person's living or dying affect them? If they live, will they suffer? Would they want to extend the suffering of their loved ones or not? If the tube is pulled, the question of life falls into the hands where it belongs, the person, in this case Ms. Schiavo. She can choose to live or decide that this is her time to go and die. I've seen this; there is a choice.

This is not a question of protecting life. Affording the underprivileged health care is a question of protecting life. This is a question of protecting suffering. Many of us have put ourselves in the position of the parents. We cannot imagine willingly saying goodbye to our loved ones if we can save them. What we must do is put ourselves in the position of Terry Schiavo. Would we want to stay alive and suffer? Whatever your choice, the moral is to put it in your living will.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Round 2 Review, Sunday

Again, of the six games that I could have won, I won all six. The day started off with an upset that helped me out tremendously. NC State's experience and determination was too much for UCONN. Charlie Villanueva looked confused on defense, and the Wolfpack took full advantage. In an exhilarating game, NC State was added to the list of teams that have made me look smarter than I am.

Villanova had an easier time with Florida than most people thought. I was a bit torn on this game. I knew Florida was hot, and that momentum helps in the tournament. I also knew that they had struggled for most of the rest of the season. Villanova had been consistent all year long, and simply has a better team. Of course, we all know by now, that having the better team doesn't always mean that much. It raised an eyebrow of mine when the seeds came out and Florida was higher ranked than Villanova. So I went with Villanova.

UNC has looked the most impressive of any team in the tourney thus far. But MAs in bracketology know that that means little for the rest of the journey. Oklahoma State looked even more tournament impressive than UNC did. That's a strange statement, but Oklahoma State battled by a tough Southern Illinois team largely without Joey Graham who was laced with fouls. While UNC has won their two games easily, Oklahoma State has shown that they can win even when all the gears aren't greased.

The Louisville-Georgia Tech game was a bit misleading. Louisville should have had a much better seed. Georgia Tech should have had a worse seed. This game was really a #2 vs. a #7 and the results show that to be true. Wisconsin beat Bucknell, not too much to say about that. I must regretfully admit that I filled out two pools this year. This is against all my morals, but not to fear, my second pool was filled with crazy selections. One of which was NC State in the finals. The finals of the whole tournament not the regional! So I'm not saying anything right now, but before you claim that the door is wide open for Wisconsin to advance, the same can be said for NC State. That is to say, it'll be a good game.

Michigan State beat Vermont in the "Make David look like an idiot Game." Duke and Mississippi State had a hard fought game. Duke does look vulnerable, but they haven't played any really good or hot teams yet. They may not have to until the Final Four, or they may have to.

Now we must wait until Thursday until the tournament starts up again. At least there's a break from the redundancy of the commercials.

Review of Round 2, Saturday

Of the six games that I could have predicted right, I won six of them on Saturday. In the games that I couldn't win, I was rooting for upsets. The Milwaukee-Boston College game was quite a fight. Tons of intensity. It was clear that Milwaukee was ready to play, diving all over the place from the beginning. Pacific couldn't deal with Washington's quickness. You gotta love Nate Robinson and that put back he had flying through the air. Illinois and Arizona both took care of business. Illinois' guards should be able to handle the Milwaukee press, but it'll be interesting.

Cincinnati's Jihad came up just a bit short. Jihad Muhammad, the Bearcats' point guard tried to be the hero, but wound up missing a number of shots down the stretch as Kentucky outlasted Cincinnati. (Imagine a bunch of Christian conservatives from Cincinnati, rooting for Jihad!) Andrew Bogut for Utah certainly played better than his numbers show, but the key to the game was his teammates making open shots, and Utah's team defense against a not-so-great Oklahoma team.

Texas Tech opened the day with a come-from-behind upset of Gonzaga making me look smarter than I am. I must admit, they looked dead in the water by halftime. But they ran their motion offense to perfection in the second half. They also decided to attack the hoop. Ross carried his team on his shoulders to a slim win.

The game of the tournament thus far was the West Virginia-Wake Forest matchup. I've never rooted so hard for anything from West Virginia. I thought they had a better chance than Texas Tech of coming back, all they had to do was start making some threes. Instead, they also attacked the basket. They eventually took the lead late, but a missed free throw here, another there, helped Wake Forest stay in the game. Downey was stroking it from downtown (sounds dirtier than it really was). Chris Paul astutely drove the ball to the basket on several occasions. I was shocked at how quick he is. Even though the Deacons were down 3 or 4, Paul never went for the three unless it was open. He knew he could get to the rack. This saved time and allowed Downey's threes to count due to those Mountaineer missed free throws.

During the overtimes was when the disqualified players started to mount and impact the game. When it was through, West Virginia has lost Sally, their best player, Fischer, who came up big, and point guard J.D. Collins to fouls. These were essentially three of their four best players this game. Wake lost Chris Paul, Justin Gray, and Strickland, rendering their backcourt inexperienced.

Mike Gansee would not let his Mountaineers team lose. Likewise for Downey. West Virginia took the late lead in the first overtime. But back came Wake, led by Downey. A great block by Williams on an Herber back-cut saved the game at the end of the first overtime. The second overtime saw West Virginia move out to a big lead despite losing their best players. Their unsung players came up bigger than Wake's and West Virginia was able to hang on. Both teams had well over 100 points by the time the night was over. And I was drained.

I'll be ready for tomorrow's action though.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Day 2 of the NCAA Tournament, A Review

There are times when proud men must admit their mistakes. I started the 2005 NCAA Tournament 1-3. I won 18 of the next 20 games. Then I finished a disturbing 4-4 late by Friday night. Syracuse had lost to Vermont and Kansas was beaten by a school named Bucknell. Final Four dreams were dashed. Laying on the ground in despair for ten minutes, I could not believe that yet another year had been wasted. As I pulled myself off of the ground, my ribs sore, I knew it was over.

The day started out with NC State's fourteen-point deficit. By the end of the game, Julius Hodge had willed his team to a win. Florida held off Ohio. Iowa State decided to win a first round game four years too late for me, and Oklahoma State managed a victory.

Someone may have pissed UNC off, possibly by saying they are an uninspired team, but 59 points in the first half end those criticisms, for now. All Oakland had to do to stay in the game was shoot better, limit their turnovers, defense the three much better, play better transition defense, and a whole host of other assignments. Defensively it looked as if the each of the five Oakland players wore magnets that forced them to bunch up together as if it were a soccer game full of six-year olds. Atrocious.

New Mexico scored eleven points in the first half. Remarkably they finished the contest with 47. Southern Illinois beat St. Mary's. Central Florida came back to make a game of it against UCONN, but when their Golden Knight mascot fell off his chair before the game even started, I knew that was a bad omen.

The evening brought shit. My brother told me towards the end of the Syracuse-Vermont game, "looks like we gotta game!" I rebutted, "Looks like we got three Vermont alums wearing striped shirts." I didn't realize that you are allowed to mug a player only if his name starts with "Hakim Wa" and ends with "rrick". And the end of a career for G-Mac. Oh Gerry, we hardly knew ya.
I don't even want to talk about the ODU and GW games. I knew Mississippi St. would win because of Frazier. Not so much his playing, but the fact that his name is Winsome. But how much is some? Does it include a win against Duke on Sunday?

Well, I got the wrong #14 seed. You know what Bucknell rhymes with? Fucknell. Not to offend anybody, but Kansas is full of a bunch of stupid bastards! They ran the Duke play to perfection except Wayne Simien is no Christian Laettner. Think about that one Wayne. Plus you owe me at least $130 jerk! The last time I picked Kansas to go to the Final Four was 1997, when Jacque Vaghan and company lost to the eventual champs, Arizona, the #4 seed. Damn it, damn it, damn it! Stupid bastards!

Now we move to the round of 32. It's all about restoring my pride. I finished the first round a morbidly dismal 23-9. If you picked only the higher seeds, you'd have finished 24-8. Just another chapter in my book of failure.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Recap of Day 1 of the NCAA Tournament

I began the day 1-3, a disaster. I couldn't predict a blizzard even if ten inches of snow had already fallen. By the time the first time slot of games ended, I had one win, and two Sweet Sixteen teams out. I finished the day with 11 out of 12 teams vindicating my predictions.

The two #1 seeds we saw were unimpressive. Both Illinois and Washington face tough west coast second round games. Nevada will be a tough team for Illinois to handle, but they should, and Washington may have fits with Pacific. I'm not sure they'll come out of it with a win. I make this weak statement, because I don't deserve credit no matter what. I had Pittsburgh. As I said below, Pittsburgh could make the Final Four or lose in the first round. They chose the latter. While we puked at Pittsburgh's play in the first half, you have to give Pacific credit for fending them off in the second.

The three #3 seeds all struggled today. Arizona had the least trouble with Utah State of the three threes, but that's not to say it was a cake walk (a popular dance from the early 1900s). I thought Winthrop would have a chance against Gonzaga. Gonzaga did nothing to convince me to retract my pick of Texas Tech on Saturday. Oh Niagra! We hardly knew ye. The fellas put up a good fight, but alas, they fell just a little bit short. Ok, a lot bit.

The West Virginia-Creighton battle was the game of the night. Each team made a run to start the game, and the excitement never ceased. Call Tyrone Sally (Erykah Badu reference? No? Ok.) and his two hustle plays were the difference. On one occasion, he dove to save a ball headed out of bounds, once he grabbed the ball he shuffled it over to a teammate for the jam. The other one was at the end of the game. After a block (yes, a block) of a three point attempt to beat the shot clock, Sally strolled down towards the other end of the court, received the entry pass on the fly and dunked it home. Creighton missed the last shot and they're now out.

Wake Forest had difficulties with Chattanooga until the end of the game. I'm still confident about my West Virginia pick in the next round.

Boston College was on a mission (no pun intended). I was pretty upset that UW- Milwaukee beat Alabama. I simply hate Milwaukee's coach. He reminds me of a preacher that I hate on the Christian channel that I watch often. Ah, Jewish pain. It is rare that a Jew would root for Alabama because the opposing team's coach reminds him of a loathed televangelist, but I stated my reasons below. UAB helped me out, thanks fellas. I knew you had it in you.

Andrew Bogut. Fine, if you think that he is the reason that the sun rotates around the earth, so be it. My comments on this subject are clear. Check the first week's archives. So we add Dan Bonner to a list that includes Jimmy Dykes. Bogut is plenty good without him receiving credit for a foul that occurred fifty feet away from him. Besides, doesn't the earth revolve around the sun. Hmmmm. Exactly.

Cincinnati and Kentucky both won. Hardly worth mentioning. Tomorrow's games make me a bit nervous. I've got some of my prime upsets on display. And of course my goal is to have a better record than the higher seeds (interestingly enough they have the lower numbers, but I like it, it makes sense to me).
Higher seeds: 13-3. Me: 12-4. Can't wait til tomorrow.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

NCAA Tournament Predictions

Man, Woman, and Child am I excited about the tournament. First a few words to those filling out your brackets. If you picked the better seed almost every time, you are a punk. If you've got three #1 seeds or more in the Final Four, you should be shot. Three #1 seeds in the Final Four has happened once since they started seeding the teams. If you have zero teams over a #5 seed in the Sweet Sixteen, you should be fed the Taco Bell until the chronic explosive diarrhea turns your stools red. Most of yall don't know shit about shit, so just shut the fuck up.

Having said that, I'm not a prophet. I'm just a man with a plan in the know. So here we go.

But before we move on to my predictions, a few more words on tournament related issues. I have never watched the play-in game. As far as I'm concerned, there are only 64 teams in the field, sorry Alabama A&M. I don't know what this Syracuse Region bullshit is about, I'm gonna call the regions by their proper titles, such as East. All of the previews I've read deal with past tournaments. The history of certain teams, and traditional results from particular seeds and the like. What bullshit! Cincinnati's 1997 team's tournament performance won't impact this year's games. At least they have the same coach, I've seen even more ridiculous predictors. Fox Sports is largely to blame. Of course, I posted this at a point where it's too late for you bums to steal my picks. This is just a heads up to the ignorant.

On to the Predictions. Basically, I'm just giving you the upsets.

Midwest (The Predictable Region)
I only have 2 upsets in this entire region. UAB in the first round: They're tournament tested, with last year's run. They have many of the same players back, unlike Cincinnati, which actually has no players that played on their 1997 team back this year. I don't know much about LSU except that they choked against Kentucky in the SEC tournament, the very team that UAB upset in last year's second round.

Alabama over BC in the second round. BC got screwed with their #4 seed, but I made a promise to myself mid-season, that I'd pick Alabama, so a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

Illinois will come out of this region. Certainly the virtual home court advantage helps, but so does three guys who would be stars on nearly every other college team in the United States. You gotta like Oklahoma State, they have experience, senior leadership, post play, and the clutch John Lucas, but Illinois is much the same regarding the intangibles, and their guard play will put them over the top.

West (Where all Hell breaks loose)

First Round:
GW over Georgia Tech. BJ Elder is overrated. They can win without him and they can lose with him. People forget the real difference between this year's team and last year's finals loser. They no longer have the graduated Marvin Lewis, a Cabin John Middle School alum. (Remember me, I was the short Jew. Never mind. The one who was a pretty decent bball player. Eh, forget it). He started last year, allowing for Tech's other guards to produce without as much pressure as they have this year. The Atlantic 10 has had a down year, with the biggest story being the injury of John Bryant of St. Joseph's who sucks. But GW has been the A-10 team that has faced tough competition and won this season.

Pittsburgh over Pacific

Second Round:
I love Washington, especially Nate Robinson. But Pittsburgh will win. They are a very streaky team. They can beat anyone in the nation with their experienced physical play, or lose to numerous bad teams when they aren't on their game. They can make the Final Four or lose in the First Round to a good Pacific team. But I'm expecting Krauser, Troutman, and the fellas to understand the magnitude of the tournament and rise to their basketball plateau.

West Virginia over Wake Forest. For all of you that picked 3 ACC Final Four Teams, you're all morons. Wake is a nice team that can falter at any time. If West Virginia is making their threes, it won't even be close.

Texas Tech over Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are a good team, no doubt. But the tournament is a one and done situation, and the matchups are very important. In this case, Texas Tech is too physical for Gonzaga to overcome.

I've got Louisville coming out of this region. The reason is that they are a top team nationally. They should have been a #1 or #2 and in my bracket they don't have many obstacles in their path. Garcia and Dean will be too much for the teams they'll face.

East (Oh, Cruel Fate)
First Round
NC State over Charlotte.

I've got Minnesota over Iowa State because I picked Iowa State to win it all in 2001 when 15 seed Hampton beat them in the first round. I will never forgive! (This probably doesn't help my credibility).

Oakland over UNC? Maybe, a # 16 seed will beat a #1 seed for the first time either this year or next, mark my words, unless I'm wrong.

Second Round
Villanova over Florida. Florida is hot, so this is a tough one. Judging by their play all season long, they shouldn't be a #4 seed, and they're not better than Villanova. Randy Foye is the man, and NBA superstar Ray Allen has come back to school, stayed in the Big East, and adopted the not very convincing pseudonym of Allan Ray. Oh, that's a different guy? Never mind. New Mexico is actually a threat to beat the Wildcats in round 1, on the back of Danny Granger, but I'm sticking with Villanova.

NC State over UCONN. Everyone seems to have fallen in love with picking the defending champs. But unless Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor, or even Talik Brown (hey, they'll settle for Talik!) comes back to play for the Huskies, they're doomed. The ugliest duo in the land, Charlie Villanueva and Josh Boone will have they're hands full. The real trouble for the dogs will come from NC State's perimeter forwards. Julius Hodge is a guy who can put the Wolfpack on his back and carry them, maybe even to the Final Four, but at least past the overrated Huskies.

I've got Kansas from this region. They'll meet their old coach Roy Williams and his UNC Tar Heels in the regional final. Of course, Williams abandoned his team after they lost in the finals against Syracuse a few years ago. As long as Langford is healthy, Wayne Simien is on his game, and Aaron Miles holds his own against Felton, Kansas will defeat the uninspired and arrogant Tar Heels.

South (I'll show you what's up)
First Round
Mississippi State over Stanford. Where is Stanford's best player? He'll be watching with the rest of us. He may be intelligent enough to get into Stanford and have a much better chance at being successful than me, but where are you now pretty boy? I ain't afraid of you. How bout I pull out your teeth and shove them up your ass? Would you like that? Didn't think so.

Old Dominion over Michigan State. Besides being from the same conference as George Mason, (Colonial!) ODU has only 5 losses all year. I'm a bit concerned about they're lack of a clear-cut go to player, but it may actually work to their advantage against a good coach in Tom Izzo. Izzo can't focus on just one player defensively. I've seen Michigan State a few times this season and I've never been impressed. They have a weak team this year that is overrated and were given a tough matchup in round one.

Niagra over Oklahoma. I saw this upset the minute they announced this game. Only people who actually go to Niagra predicted this one faster than me. Oklahoma is not a very consistent team. Niagra is a high powered offense with Mendez as their anchor. As long as Niagra can gain the tempo they'll win the game. Watch to see if the score is high or low, and you'll know who'll win this one.

Sweet Sixteen
Syracuse over Duke. Duke is not the #1 seed of old. They do not have one of the top four teams by far this year. They are simply one of the top twenty teams, who are all fairly similar talent-wise. Watching Jim Boeheim talk about his Syracuse team, I wasn't sure he was all that confident that they could win it all this year. It will rely on the Orange's young guys. Another big question is whether Billy Edelin will see some run or not. He is the type of player that is perfect for the tournament. He might not produce big every night, but he can give you those one or two unsung performances that every tournament run needs.

I've got Syracuse beating Kentucky in this region. Kentucky has shown a propensity to lose big games this season. I don't see a defensive answer to McNamara from the Wildcats, and probably not for Hakim Warrick either.

Final Four
Illinois over Louisville. Illinois is just the better team. This should be a fun one to watch.

Kansas over Syracuse. I saw the doubt in Boeheim's eyes and heard it in his voice. This game will feature those doubts coming into fruition. Kansas' talent will just be too much.

Illinois over Kansas. Of course, after Roy Williams left Kansas for UNC, Illinois coach Bill Self took the Kansas job. Illinois will have their revenge, leaving only Southern Illinois without their revenge against Bruce Webber, the current Illini coach. Again, the more talented team will prevail. Kansas was able to keep it together this long, but the bottom will fall out and a team with just one loss all year will win it all.

And there it is, a bracket with some guts!

The tournament will start in about nine hours, I can't wait!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

An Open Letter to the United States "News" Media

To whom it may concern,

Hey, hey, I'm not stupid, jerks.

With love and apathy,
p.s. Fuckers!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A Sad Day

I find that whenever I find that feeling, you know, that feeling, that's when God has a whole new set of challenges for me. I've finally settled into this thing called my life, and then life a bus driving onto the sidewalk and hitting my grandmother, WHAM! shit happens. I've finally overcome the last difficult obstacle and a whole bunch of new ones are piled on my head.

I am the type of person who develops principles and then lives by them, no matter which way the tide is flowing. For some reason I expect the same of others, perhaps naively. I'm astonished when others don't take my feelings into account, when I know I would take theirs. You go through life and you meet these special people. You feel connections with them. Very powerful connections that, perhaps, reinforce your belief in something beyond human comprehension. When you learn that these connections are false, and always have been, it can be crushing.

There is no such thing as soul mates in my estimation. I had thought of a very secular definition for soul mates, but even that has proven to be untrue. People are fleeting. They move with the flavor of the month. If they do possess loyalties, they are often misplaced.

You finally believe that there is at least one other person in this world who sees things the same as you. Well, that's not possible, but at least a person who understands the way you see things and can appreciate that. Then you realize that person is just like everyone else on this doomed planet. Everyone is the same in their difference from you.

That is why I hate people. Of course I also love people, but that is for another day.

The CPI Analyzes the Tournament Selections

Much like Dick Vitale's Bald Dome Index, I have my own way of determining common sense solutions to NCAA tournament related issues. My Circumcised Penis Index (CPI) tells me a few things were fishy about this year's tournament selections.

I didn't have a problem with Washington being a #1 seed. However, Louisville got bent over into a well, their pants pulled down, and well, you know the rest. Of course they are the 4th ranked team in the country and got a #4 seed. But beyond that, they were one of the few teams that went out and continued their winning ways in the conference tournament. Plus, they only lost 4 games all year. Conference USA is rated low, but they did get 3 other teams in. I can understand not giving them a #1 seed, but they earned a #2 or a #3.

My CPI reminds me that Boston College was undefeated until recently. Yes they've struggled, but they won the Big East regular season. A #4 is to low for them, they deserved better.
UCONN's seed was a bit high, didn't Syracuse win the Big East title? I know UCONN beat them twice, but the CPI says that Syracuse won their last game, and don't the most recent games count more?

Miami University in Ohio got screwed like a prostitute who has sex for money often. Don't blame the woman, blame this system that didn't take her in and show her how truly beautiful she is as a person!! Miami has the best RPI (rated, uh, person imagination, or something?) of any school that didn't make the tourney. That doesn't mean anything until you realize that there were a significant amount of teams that made it in that followed them using the RPI (ripped penis index?).

Northern Iowa shouldn't have made it in, sorry to those that are affiliated to that school (for more than one reason). Their RPI (Random Police ball Invitation?) was one better than Miami's. But they finished 3rd or 4th or something in their conference. The MVC is a solid conference, but so is the MAC. The regular season champion deserved to make it. You might talk about Miami losing in the semis of their conference tournament, but I believe Northern Iowa lost in the quarters of their tournament, so going back to my CPI, Miami should have gotten the nod. Ohio's seed was too low also; they deserved better.

Have fun watching the games. Predictions to come.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Review of Championship Week

Well we've come to the end of championship week in college basketball (unless you count tomorrow). I meant to get a haircut this past Monday, but always there was a college basketball game, so I said to myself, "I'll watch the game and maybe I'll get a haircut tomorrow." But, my friends, tomorrow has yet to arrive.

Of the many memorable moments, only a few are memorable enough for me to remember them right now. We'll start with today's Conference USA championship. Now my brother and I were rooting for Louisville, to free up another tournament spot. The Memphis freshman Darius Washington, who had played beautifully when it counted the most, drew a foul shooting a three with no time left on the clock. Memphis was down 2. Washington strolled to the line with a confidence seldom seen from a freshman. He made the first, they were down 1. The second shot rimmed out, still down 1. The final shot: Washington released the ball from his hands, the ball struck the rim and rolled around until it fell. And with the ball, Washington fell too, his head buried in his jersey in mortification. He fell to the ground. The announcer appropriately mentioned, "Somebody's gotta help that kid up." A teammate and his coach tried to pick him up, but Washington was pasted to the ground. In his mind he had lost the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament for his team.

I heard a delayed yell from upstairs. It was my brother, Ian, in glee. I couldn't help but think to myself, as much as I wanted Louisville to win, I wish he would've made just one more and then Memphis lose in overtime? Ian came downstairs and I jumped into his arms screaming with joy. Ian was screaming for joy too. Then, when we collected ourselves, I said how truly heartbreaking that moment was. Ian replied, "I was kinda hoping he'd make one and then Louisville win in overtime."

Of course, that miss got his senior teammate off the hook, who fouled a Louisville player while the player was shooting and making a three.

Early in the SEC tournament South Carolina was playing Ole Miss or somebody. The SC player made a three to tie the game with very little time left. Ole Miss inbounded the ball and SC intercepted the pass and called timeout. During the timeout the refs determined the shot was only a two-pointer. South Carolina eventually lost. Of course this brings up a couple of issues. First, there was no indisputable evidence according to replays that says whether that shot was a two or a three, so you have to stay with the original call on the floor, which was a 3. Then, Ole Miss, threw an errant pass forcing the issue, because they assumed they were tied. Of course, up one, they would have taken a more conservative approach.

The Big East semifinal between UCONN and Syracuse featured over 50 offensive rebounds from both teams combined. 50 offensive rebounds!

Nate Robinson from Washington earned my respect big time. Not only is he short, although much taller than me, this guy can play. Short people can play, often times much better than big guys. Washington impressed me, especially winning a couple close games.

A tip for Nevada: When you're up by one, and the other team is shooting a free throw, you might want to box out. I apologize for not giving you this memo before your game with Boise State.

A New Mexico Lobos fan held up a horrible sign during their semifinal game in my Mountain West conference tournament. It read:


Of course, it's not that bad, because the sign was referring to ESPN college basketball announcer Jimmy Dykes, who felt the Lobos poor strength of schedule may have kept them out of the NCAA Tournament unless they won the MWC championship, which they did. The fan evidently realized the potential disaster and a friend held up a makeshift sign that said "Jimmy" beside DYKES to reprieve the unintentionally offensive poster.

Who I strongly feel should be in or out:
NC State - They've done enough in the ACC tournament to compensate for their below .500 conference record. Beating Wake Forest solidified their selection.

Miami (OH) - They won the regular season MAC championship. The MAC was rated the 9th best conference. The 9th rated conference always gets 2 teams in. Miami is the logical choice winning the regular season title and beating teams like Purdue and Witchita St. on Bracket Buster weekend.

St. Mary's - They should probably get in because they have so many wins in the 7th rated conference. They are clearly the 2nd best team in a conference that includes Gonzaga.

Maryland - I've live in Maryland my entire life, they should not make it this year. They beat Duke twice, which is very good. But they were below .500 in their conference and did nothing in the ACC tournament. They lost to Clemson 3 times. 3 times! They couldn't win when it counted. They're also on a bad losing streak to end the year. It would be a sports travesty if they made it in.

Notre Dame - I've actually grown to like Chris Thomas, but their RPI is bad. They also lost when it counted in the Big East tourney. To Rutgers! They also lost some important home games towards the end.

Virginia Tech - If you put Maryland in, then you got to put Vtech in too, and Clemson for that matter. Virginia Tech actually won as many conference games as they lost, until they lost in the tournament. Their weak schedule hurts too.

Miami (Fl) - If they make it in, we know that the commissioner of the ACC and the Miami (FL) athletic director have had sex with people other than their spouses within the last week.

Indiana - Their run a few years ago was really inspiring. I really like Mike Davis. Please, please, please don't fire him you racist hicks. But at 15-13, unless many of those 13 losses were against NBA teams, Western Conference NBA teams, (not the Warriors), then there is no way they should make it in.

DePaul - nope, pick a more deserving non-major conference team (see above).

Vanderbilt - hell no.

Teams that I don't care so much if they get in, but here's my opinion anyway:
Georgetown - I root for Georgetown. They'll make it next year. They struggled at the end too much to make it this year.

Iowa - I'm not so sure. Logic says no. They were behind Indiana in the conference, but they may have played their way in the tournament.

Texas A & M - Not this year. That tourney loss sealed their fate.

UAB - Beating DePaul helps, but how many teams does Conference USA deserve? I say 3, Louisville, Cincinnati, Charlotte.

UCLA - An announcer said if you give their resume to a different school they're not getting in. But, barring some immediate discovery involving teleportation, they'll make it, and have a good seed.

Gonzaga - don't screw 'em just cuz they lost last year.

Pacific - give 'em a decent seed, like a 7.

Georgia Tech - If they win the ACC tournament, maybe a 6, or stretching it, a 5. Remember they were 8-8 in conference play. Elder is not Lew Alcindor.

Illinois is a 1. if Duke wins, they're a 1. If Kentucky wins, they're a 1. If Kentucky loses, they still might be a 1. The other 1 should go to Louisville or UNC. Don't give it to Kansas. Can't wait til the Big Dance!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Your National Anthem?

If you could choose the United States of America's national anthem, what song would you choose? Why would you choose that song?

I'd love to hear your choice. Any song from any genre is appropriate as long as it is thoughtfully selected to represent the United States.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The State of the Knicks

The New York Knicks have begun to turn things around a bit of late. They've won seven of their last ten games and seven in a row in Madison Square Garden. This recent upsurge in play could be due to a number of reasons. One possibility is the increase of playing time for their youthful forward Mike Sweetney. Since the trade deadline deals that shipped starting center Nazr Muhammad to San Antonio, Sweeteney has started for the Knicks and produced. His low post presence gives the Knicks an added dimension.

The trades themselves could be another reason. Not only is the remaining roster now relaxed, because they won't be traded, but the incoming players include energy players like Maurice Taylor and Malik Rose. The criticism of those trades is that the Knicks now possess about five of a similar type of player, energy-bringing power forwards. Sweetney, Taylor, Rose, Kurt Thomas, and Jerome Williams each bring something different to the table, but their dishes are all within the same food group.

Despite these players, the Knicks effort is often inconsistent. When they play will maximum exertion, they tend to succeed, but their uninspired play from time to time is new for fans of recent Knicks teams. We actually have a good offensive club, but a weak defensive team on our hands. The Knicks have been undersized since a now retired Larry Johnson became the starting power forward, so that's nothing new. We fans have gotten used to witnessing rebounds slip away as a valiant Kurt Thomas tries desperately to out-man three rebounders.

As far as the prospects of the team, the phrase must be cautious optimism. Stephan Marbury is a topflight point guard. I remember one analyst this season claiming that if Marbury is your team's best player, you might be in a bit of trouble. He went on to elaborate that with Marbury as your third best player, you've got a title contender. I tend to agree. With this team, Marbury needs to be more aggressive to the basket, but when he has people around him, then he can be the unselfish player that he has become. Even if he becomes the third best player on the team, he will be the cornerstone of our championship hopes. Concerning other guards, I love Allan Houston, he has done so much for the Knicks over the years, but we have to plan for a future without him (or with him as a high-priced scorer coming of the bench). Jamal Crawford can do some spectacular things on the court, but only on the half where his team is trying to score.

I think Kurt Thomas needs to stay (so should Herb Williams). He brings a lot to the table as a starter or backing up Sweetney. Obviously, a lot depends on Sweetney. If he can become a lowpost scoring force, we're in business. We need a center, but so does virtually every team, so with an improved Sweetney, and KT we'll be alright. The key will be getting a star small forward, easier said than done I know. A star small forward would really bring the team together. Someone like Grant Hill in his prime, a great passer and defender, who can score when things begin to break down. Lebron James fits the role, but perhaps there will be a more practical candidate available at some point.

Clearly Isaiah Thomas needs to take care of our salary cap issues and stop signing overweight over-priced over-the-hill power forwards. The recent trades did garner two future first round picks, but they're from the Spurs, so they'll be low. We should try to go for that star small forward at some point, but also draft four year college players late in the first round. Tayshaun Prince rings a bell, among others. It should be an interesting near future for the Knicks. Especially if we keep head coach Herb Williams.
Atlantic Division
Team Wins Losses
Bos 31 - 29
Phil 29 - 32
Knicks 26 - 34
NJ 26 - 35
Tor 25 - 35
Playoff race
7) Orl 31 - 28
8) Ind 30 - 30
9) Phil 29 - 32
10) Knicks 26 - 34

Knicks 2004-05 Roster
21 Trevor Ariza F 6-8 200 06/30/1985 UCLA R
45 Jackie Butler* C 6-10 250 03/10/1985 CCA (VA) R (injured)
11 Jamal Crawford G 6-5 190 03/20/1980 Michigan '03 4
1 Anfernee Hardaway G-F 6-7 215 07/18/1971 Memphis '93 11
20 Allan Houston* G 6-6 205 04/20/1971 Tennessee '93 11 (injured)
8 Jermaine Jackson G 6-5 204 06/06/1976 Detroit '99 3
3 Stephon Marbury G 6-2 200 02/20/1977 Georgia Tech '96 8
13 Malik Rose F 6-7 245 11/23/1974 Drexel '96 8
14 Bruno Sundov C 7-2 260 02/10/1980 Croatia 6
50 Michael Sweetney F 6-8 270 10/25/1982 Georgetown '04 1
2 Maurice Taylor F 6-9 255 10/30/1976 Michigan '97 6
40 Kurt Thomas F 6-9 235 10/04/1972 Texas Christian '95 9
5 Tim Thomas F 6-10 240 02/26/1977 Villanova '97 7
31 Jerome Williams F-C 6-9 206 05/10/1973 Georgetown '96 8
Herb Williams (College - Ohio State '81)
Brendan Suhr; Mark Aguirre (College - DePaul '82); George Glymph (College - Benedict '65); Michael Malone (College - Loyola (MD) '94); Greg Brittenham (College - Nebraska-Kearney '80).

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Pen Mightier than the Sword

Ida B. Wells fought for justice her entire adult life despite seemingly insurmountable odds. Wells was born in Mississippi in 1862, before the emancipation of the United States' enslaved population. She would live until 1931.

Ida B. Wells

What drove Wells into activism was an incident on a train, where she was forcibly thrown off for not complying with southern racial norms of riding a train. Wells sued the railroad company and originally won $500 before the result was overturned.

Thus began her career as a speaker for the subordinated, a fighter for the less fortunate, and a deacon of the downtrodden. She began to write about the inconsistencies that she saw between humanity and the realities of the United States South. She exposed police brutality. When blacks in Memphis, Tennessee were threatened by whites, "Iola" (Wells' pen name) wrote that blacks should move west. They did, and they avoided the violence that would have otherwise beset them.

Ida B. Wells became one of the most prominent writers in the black community at the time. She famously wrote against a lynching that had claimed the life of her friend, an up-and-coming store owner. This case had sparked the tensions in Memphis that led to Wells issuing a decree to leave the violently racist city. Wells not only wrote for her people, but, just as Harry T. Moore would do (see Distinguished Gentleman), she collected affidavits when the United States' courts couldn't see to it that justice would prevail.

She founded the first anti-lynching organization in the world in London. She attempted to gain European sympathy for her people's plight States-side. This organization was a result of the many supposed rapes that she had covered as an investigative journalist. Black men were convicted of raping white women, despite the utterly obvious truth. Wells was determined to expose the truth for all the world to see.

Wells was not always respected amongst her male colleagues, because she was a woman. She was forced to fight, not only racism, but also sexism. She championed the battle for all women's equality, black and white. She married a lawyer named Ferdinand Barnett, which led to criticism amongst her fellow feminists. Her friend Susan B. Anthony ridiculed her for marrying.

Ida B. Wells stuck her nose places where it was not welcomed. She challenged the thinking of everyone around her. She obviously defied white supremacy and the United States' patriarchal system. But she also challenged the traditional role of women in the fight for racial equality, simply by standing up for her convictions. She challenged the role of a married woman in the fight for female equality. This latter dispute would spark the women's liberation movement of the 1960s.

Wells proves the old adage, the pen is mightier than the sword. Her writings awoke the courage of two groups of people against the violent reactionary status quo and made this country a better place to live.

Top Chechen Rebel Killed, Implications Abound

Here's the highlights:

Leader of Chechen Rebels Is Killed, Russian Military Says
By the associated press
The New York Times

"Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, blamed by Russia for last year's school hostage crisis and other deadly terrorist acts, has been killed during a raid, the head of the Federal Security Service told President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. One report said he was killed accidentally by his bodyguards.

"But even beyond any possible revenge by Chechens, there could be longer-term implications because Maskhadov was the most prominent voice for moderation among the rebels and commanded respect in many European countries. His killing might have closed off the clearest path to talks ending the bloodshed that has raged in Chechnya for much of a decade.

"Maskhadov led the Chechen separatists who fought Russian forces to a standstill in a 1994-96 war and he became the republic's president after the Russian military withdrew."

Here's the link:

Sunday, March 06, 2005

A Closer Look at Lebanon

I do not know much about Lebanon beyond war, bombs, and terrorists, so I will refrain from editorializing, so as to not further any unrepresentative stereotypes. Here are several articles from various news sources and links to country profiles for Lebanon and Syria.

Syria Offers Gradual Pullback of Its Troops From Lebanon
By Hassan M. Fattah and David E. Sanger
The New York Times

Here's the highlights:

"In his speech, the Syrian president [Bashar al-Assad] gave no timetable, and left several loopholes for the withdrawal. He said all troops would withdraw to the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon and eventually to areas near the Syrian border.

"A Syrian pullout from Lebanon does not mean that Syria will vanish from Lebanon," Mr. Assad said. "We hope to have stronger relations with Lebanon in the future."

"If you cannot seal your borders with Mexico," he quipped, directing his question to the Bush administration, "how can you demand the same of us?"

A senior administration official noted on Friday that the protesters in recent weeks seemed to be taking their inspiration from the protests in Ukraine. "It's remarkable," the official said, "because these are countries with absolutely nothing in common. Nothing at all. And yet the images of one group of people shaking off a neighbor with too much influence" a reference to Russia "was enough to inspire them that the time has come."

Here's the link:

Lebanon's rocky road from Damascus
By Jon Leyne
BBC News

"You see, what is going on in Lebanon is not just a re-run of the peaceful revolutions in Ukraine or Georgia. This is a lot more dangerous, and people in Syria and Lebanon are a lot more scared."

Here's the link:

Pro-Syrian demonstrations in Lebanon
Here's the link:

Lebanese Country Profile from BBC News:

Lebanese Media Source:

Syrian Country Profile from BBC News:

Syrian Media Source:

Ukrainian Suicide

More news from Ukraine, the country that overcame an electoral crisis late last year. The former interior minister, Yuri F. Kravchenko, committed suicide this past Friday. He may have had knowledge about killing of Georgy Gongadze, a prominent journalist. Gongasze was killed in 2000. Former President Kuchma, who lost to Viktor A. Yushchenko and his orange revolution in last year's run-off election after it was determined that Kuchma had committed fraud and stole the election, received much international criticism after the killing of Gongadze.

Here's the highlights:

Ukraine's Security Chief Says Ex-Official Killed Himself
Steven Lee Meyers
The New York Times

"The official announcement and a note found in Mr. Kravchenko's pocket, the security chief added, left little doubt that Mr. Kravchenko had committed suicide."

"Oleksandr V. Turchinov, chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine, said in televised remarks that the note left by Mr. Kravchenko could provide significant details for prosecutors investigating the killing of Georgy Gongadze."

Here's the link:

Friday, March 04, 2005

Hank Gathers

Rarely does one man have such an impact on another's life despite the fact that they never met. Hank Gathers, a prolific college basketball player, died March 4, 1990. I was eight years old at the time. From that day until today, I have shed many a tear pondering this tragedy.

Hank Gathers, #44, forward from Loyola Marymount.

Hank's style of play was exciting. He led the nation in scoring one year. Due largely to Hank, along with teammate Bo Kimble, a fellow Philadelphian, who was friends with Hank before college, Loyola Marymount was the most anticipated team to watch thanks to coach Paul Westhead's frenetic philosophy of more points, more success. This basketball doctrine is actually quite different from my own belief in the power of defense.

During a West Coast Conference tournament game, Gathers collapsed on the court. People witnessed on television the fall of a great player and a likable man. While many felt sad, anger was boiling in the hearts of those in the know. Hank had collapsed the previous December of a heart condition.

Hank was a terrible free throw shooter. It was the one weakness of his game. By the end of his life, his form had broken down into a one-handed hurl at the basket from fifteen feet away. He'd grab the ball in his left hand, keep his right hand off as if the ball were a precious jewel, and pray that it went in. After Hank died, Bo borrowed Hank's form for each first free throw attempt. It went in every time.

Hank Gathers died just one and a half short months after my father. I believe grieving for Hank all these years has been a way for me to grieve for my father. My dad never played basketball, never even enjoyed the game. He probably knew virtually nothing about it. But Hank has given me an outlet to express my emotions, on terms that I can understand. I really can't articulate it any more than that. I will simply continue to reflect on Hank every March 4th. And whenever else I feel the need.

Distinguished Gentleman

Harry T. Moore was born in Houston, Florida on November 18, 1905. He died a martyr on December 25, 1951.

Harry T. Moore, hero.

Moore began his professional career as a teacher. But his true calling was fighting white supremacy. From the beginning, he wouldn't allow his daughters to work as maids, because of white men's historical domestication of the black woman. He would drive forty minutes to the nearest black movie theater with his family to avoid the injustice of being forced to sit in the balcony of the closest theater. His fire caused him to join the young NAACP in 1934. By 1941, Moore was the head of the Florida branch of the NAACP. He also was the head of the Progressive Voters League.

But Moore's impact on the United States was not in his fancy titles. It was in his determination in making this country a better place for all of its citizens that is his lasting affect. He registered thousands of new black voters in Florida resulting in the furthering of American democracy. He challenged interracial mores of the South. He did not stand idly by while innocent black youth were being charged with raping white women, when no such crime had taken place. He contested police brutality against blacks and demanded justice. He took affidavits on his own, when the United States court system had broken down. He wrote letters to governors, representatives, civil rights leaders, and many others in order to achieve his goals.

Much like the hero from the movie Hotel Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina, Harry T. Moore gave his advisories a kind of respect that they didn't deserve. In the process, he earned more respect than they could ever know. Moore did this through his letters and his appearance. His letters were always straightforward, demanding, but cordial at the same time. He always ended with the valediction of "respectfully yours" or something of the sort. He wore a suit to meet everyone. Whether they were future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, or someone seemingly less deserving.

Moore's suits granted respect to poor blacks in Florida. The people Moore cared about the most. Those were the people he targeted to register to vote. Those were the people he wanted to protect from the police. That strategy cost him his job atop Florida's NAACP in 1951.
On Christmas, a holiday celebrated by Christians, of that year, Harry T. Moore's house was bombed. It was also the Moore's wedding anniversary. The KKK were the suspected culprits. Harry T. Moore's death was acknowledged worldwide. Eleanor Roosevelt, the former First Lady, and representative to the UN, claimed that Moore's death would hurt the reputation of the United States throughout the world. Moore's wife Harriet died one day after her husband's funeral in early January of 1952 of wounds sustained during the bombing.

Harry T. Moore has generally been forgotten in the decades since his death. He was the first NAACP worker ever to be killed. Harry and Harriet were the first husband and wife ever to be killed for their cause. But memory and legacy are not as important as impact. Harry T. Moore's impact on this country may have been forgotten, but it will always last.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Scandal Update

Pardon the Interruption has acquired a tape in which the hairline on the sides on John Travolta's forehead are receding faster than the French during World War II. This implies that not only did Mr. Travolta wear a wig at the Oscars, but a short-haired wig during his appearance on Letterman three days prior. In other scandal news, John Bryant, senior forward from St. Joseph's University, still sucks.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Black History Month

Thank the lord, Black History Month is finally over. Now it's time to get back to real history.

What Malcolm X means to me.

Malcolm X lived the American dream in its purest most mythical form. He was a street hustler with subordinated but defiant genes. The type of genealogy every American wishes we possessed. He rose from the state of a criminal to become the adopted son in a sense of someone significant. Then, when he felt the time was right, he paved his own way and affected his people for the better.

But the story of Malcolm X resonates far beyond that of the United States. Even for those born nearly twenty years after his death, we see ourselves in him. He was not non-violent, but he wasn't violent either. He combined anger with reason, a feat few men and women have been able to achieve. Often times we mistake Malcolm as representing hate and exclusion. Malcolm never preached hate. He never advocated exclusion. Self-love flowed from his mouth, but in an era of segregation, hate and exclusion whistled into the ears of conventional thinkers.

The question presented to us today is: Martin or Malcolm? The answer transcends the question, however. The two are not mutually exclusive. Martin Luther King Jr.'s commitment to non-violence and Malcolm X's calculated fury contain the same roots. It took Malcolm some years to realize this fact, but with the freedom of his own thought he uncovered this truth. He took his realization one step further and learned how to exploit this truth. This is evident in his assurance that if the white establishment did not give Dr. King what he was asking for, they would have to deal with him. There is no hierarchy in this claim. It is one of understanding, by a man who understood the workings of the world better than most. His genius, however, lay in his ability to communicate his understanding to an illiterate child and to the premiers of world powers.

Malcolm X represents the Unites States in a way that the individuals printed on our money never have. Malcolm cared about the people that those men forgot. More than caring, he empathized with them and experienced their pain, embodied their anger, and encompassed their hope.

Malcolm X was also a man. He did not drink alcohol or eat pork once he converted to Islam. He believed in monogamy. He concerned himself with the world. He found his convictions and never let them out of his sight. He was known to be shy, when out of the public eye. He was genuine. He dreamed the dreams of reality. His devotion to his principles were unyielding. His sense of justice was fierce. This is what I see of myself in Malcolm.

The greatest gift Malcolm bestowed on humanity is the gift of progress. He would learn to accept people despite their color, but never at the expense of himself. Life is a process. We are constantly learning and attempting to improve ourselves. Fortunately most of us are able to do so without millions of people critiquing us. Malcolm's journey ended when it was supposed to. Its end allowed ours to have a little less distance to travel to get where we need to go. For that, the legacy of Malcolm X should continue to flourish. Rather than those that now do, he is who I want to represent the United States to the world community.

The John Travolta Scandal

As reported by Tony Kornheiser on Pardon the Interruption on Monday, John Travolta's hair is magic. Or if it's not magic, we have a huge scandal on our hands. Kornheiser and PTI co-host Michael Wilbon were on Letterman last Thursday. Preceding them on the show was the aforementioned John Travolta, the actor famous for his portrayal of Vinny Barbarino, a sweathog from Brooklyn on the world renown sitcom, Welcome Back Kotter. Travolta's hair was cut short on the Letterman show. Travolta, whose movie career includes Battlefield Earth, a film that I have not seen, presented at the Oscars last Sunday night. His hair was long and slicked back. Now I know the stereotype that Italians are a hairy people, but c'mon! Something's going on here. I will continue to stay with this story as long as they talk about it on PTI on the days in which I am watching the program.

In other scandal news, baseball players have been taking steroids for years. Wait, what the fuck, this is a news flash? I must be honest, I felt like the only person in the world who resented Mark McGwire during his single season homerun chase back in 1998. So don't even give me that shit about how you all knew all along and were suspicious of the new record. To me Barry Bonds' record was more impressive. He beat a man with more advantages than he had. Not to say that one took steroids and the other didn't, but at least people rooted for McGwire.

Baseball should not be thought of in such romantic terms as it often is. However, the history of baseball, while not sacred, is important. It does have meaning. It has meaning to me. My solution is to wipe all individual records from 1994 until 2004 out of the books forever. The wins and losses can stay, but every individual stat should be thrown out. This will teach all baseball players a lesson. Certainly not all players took steroids, but many did know that their teammates were cheating and stayed silent. They should be punished. As for the innocent victims of the steroid scandal, talk to the innocent victims of the Sudanese genocide, and then shut the fuck up.

Another scandal involves Temple men's basketball coach, John Chaney, who ordered one of his players to play the part of a goon against rival St. Joseph's last week. The player elbowed an opponent in the face among other physical acts of aggression. But what Mr. Chaney has gotten in trouble for is a play that resulted in St. Joseph's senior forward John Bryant breaking his arm. The Temple goon pushed Bryant while he was in the air. Bryant then landed on his arm and it was eventually deemed broken. Bryant's college career is now over.

Despite this, there has been a complete and total overreaction by the sports world regarding Mr. Chaney's actions. I say there has been an overreaction, not because of his 700 victories. It has nothing to do with Mr. Chaney's Hall of Fame career. Nothing to do with his tireless efforts to encourage black coaches. Nothing to do with his status as a respected mentor. Nothing to do with his anti-war comments or his critique of George Bush. Nothing to do with the fact that his crime was so heinous that whether Bryant became injured or not is irrelevant. I say that the sports world has completely overreacted to Mr. Chaney's actions because St. Joseph's senior John Bryant sucks. He is the worst Division 1 starter that I have ever had the misery of watching "play" basketball. John Bryant doesn't deserve to play. So to John Chaney and his goon of a player: Thank you.

John Bryant of St. Joseph's University sucks. He is a testament to how good Jameer Nelson and Delonte West were last year, because he sucks.