Thursday, April 30, 2009

NBA Playoffs Update

Cleveland 4 Detroit 0
A pundit said that because Detroit knew they couldn't win a championship, they wouldn't try, resulting in a sweep. He was right. LeBron seems extremely focused and has a look in his eye that is scary for the rest of the league.

Atlanta 3 Miami 2
Wade is so good that if he plays well, the Heat most likely win. But he also dominates the ball. He plays like Kobe did when the Lakers would make the bottom half of the playoff table and lose in the first round. Wade shows flashes of being a decent facilitator, but he just doesn't get his teammates involved enough. As a result, if he struggles or is not healthy, the Heat lose.

The Hawks are a consistent low post scorer away from being an elite team. After playing the Celtics tough last season, should they advance here, they'll likely lose against the Cavs. But it will be an invaluable experience and another step in the right direction for Atlanta.

Boston 3 Chicago 2
Without Garnett, Boston is a team that barely makes the playoffs. Rondo has been truly impressive. He does it on both sides of the floor and is starting to knock down outside shots. Ray Allen has struggled for much of the playoffs over the past two seasons. Pierce is extremely hit or miss, just as he was last season. Right now, his claim to be the league's best player is laughable. The Bulls best player is a rookie, Derrick Rose. That's why I thought the Bulls were the only team the Garnett-less Celtics could beat in the playoffs.

Orlando 3 Philadelphia 2
Don't anoint Dwight Howard just yet. He's improving. He shouldn't have been the defensive player of the year, but he is an excellent shot blocker. He is an athletic force down low on either end of the court. But he can't yet take over a meaningful game. I'll rephrase that, maybe he can, but he hasn't. Do you think Shaq or Duncan would allow this pesky 76er team to hang in there? Of course not. Howard also doesn't pass the ball well at all. Orlando relies too much on the three point shot. But, should they get by the 76ers, they'll have a favorable draw to make the conference finals.

The 76ers are an intriguing young team. Atlanta leapfrogged them since last season, but those two might be part of the elite in the East soon. The Sixers still need another piece and they have some trade bait in Elton Brand.

Los Angeles 4 Utah 1
Utah doesn't match up well with the Lakers. If they can stay healthy, they still have a decent team for next season. It's amazing that they just can't win on the road. The Lakers are still the favorite to win it all.

Houston 3 Portland 2
Portland doesn't match up well with Houston. This has been a good experience for a very young team and they should be a perennial playoff team for a while. However, they need to strengthen the point guard position and find someone who can score at the rim if they want to be an elite team. Houston is better without McGrady.

Denver 4 New Orleans 1
I feel vindicated thanks to this series. I've been praising Billups for years now. He's clearly a top 5 player in the league. If Carmelo and Smith can score consistently, they might even give the Lakers a run for their money, should they advance that far. I've cautioned people against calling Chris Paul the best point guard in the league just yet. He's very good, but let him grow into being the best.

Dallas 4 San Antonio 1
The Spurs have become arrogant in the construction of their team and it bit them. Mason didn't play for the Wizards until half the team was injured; now he's a starter for the Spurs? Their bench is shamefully old. Having a couple of grizzled veterans is helpful (Brown and Cassell on Boston last year), but the Spurs take it too far. Duncan and Parker are two top 10 players. But you need 5 guys who give you something when they're out there. Ginobili is a flashy scorer off the bench, but honestly, he's overrated. The Spurs use him perfectly and he's the perfect fit, but that he's so important is really a testament to the quality of Duncan and Parker.

Dallas has 4 really good players. If one or two are down, they have people who can step up their game. Parker and Duncan are better than anyone on the Mavs now, but you need a third scorer and role players who can actually give you production.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The "Swine" Flu

Can a Jew get the swine flu? I don't think so.

Especially since I don't believe the swine flu exists. The flu is the flu. 50 people get the flu in the U.S. and suddenly there's a huge panic? It doesn't make any sense. If you take the word "swine" out of the equation, it's a non-story.

Remember SARS? Remember bird flu? I'm sure there are many others, but I honestly stopped paying attention. Every once in a while the powers that be create some fictitious scare to keep the populace too afraid to question what's really going on. What's really going on now is that people in the financial sector stole our money once and now they're doing it again; this time with the explicit help of the government. And we're letting them do it because we're all too stupid, fat, and lazy to do anything about it. Oh yeah, and now we're all terrified that we'll get the swine flu.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Supporting Trujillo

Rafael Trujillo ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 until 1961. Trujillo was a soldier, trained by U.S. marines, who gained power through manipulation and made a career of brutalizing his opponents.

The link between the U.S. and Trujillo is complicated, but there were extensive ties between the dictator and the northern power. The U.S. invaded the Dominican in 1916 in order to stabilize the politically chaotic nation. U.S. marines occupied the country from 1916-1924. The colonial power intended to build a force for law and order, though there was some disagreement as to whether a police force or an army was more appropriate. One of the men who signed up to join this force was Trujillo. While the marines could obviously not have dreamed that they were training a dictator, their autocratic rule contributed towards creating the conditions that led to Trujillo's ascent.

U.S. foreign policy is often more concerned with its own short term aspirations than the people who reside in a particular nation. The invasion and subsequent occupation of the Dominican was no different. Rather than contributing towards building a democracy, the U.S. helped to contribute towards forming a highly militarized society. The U.S. policy of creating an apolitical military designed to ensure internal stability was not sincere. The U.S. did not follow through on its initial goal.

Once Trujillo gained power, he was supported by the U.S. America consistently looked the other way with regards to the more sadistic aspects of the Generalissimo's rule until it was no longer politically advantageous to do so following World War II. Trujillo was seen as a stabilizing force and a pro-American head of state because of his earlier U.S.-led military training. Trujillo gained favor once again when the Cold War intensified, because the autocrat was ostensibly anti-communist.

Instead of a consistent policy of advocating human rights in the Dominican Republic, the U.S. waffled, at times supporting Trujillo and all of the viciousness that accompanied his rule, while disavowing itself when it was politically beneficial. The U.S. was not directly culpable for Trujillo's rise- he possessed an innate political shrewdness- but allowed for his rise and gave him support throughout the years. A better long term strategy for the U.S. would have been to support a push towards true democracy, winning the hearts and minds of the Dominican people. (International Edition)

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Beautiful Day

"Beautiful day, isn't it?"

I hate getting that question. It usually forces me into a dilemma. I have one of two choices. I can either sell my soul and respond, "Yeah, it is." Or, I can be true to myself, "Eh, it's too hot for me," and come across as disagreeable.

If you know anything about me, you know I almost always choose the latter. Shocked faces tend to be the reaction. People don't know what to do in that situation. A friend told me that the reason for that disbelief is due to the fact that most people can agree on the contents of a beautiful day. I disagree. I surmise that a significant portion of the population agrees with me, but they've been intimidated into compliance. They don't want to challenge the status quo for fear of being ostracized and persecuted.

I like there to be a hint of a chill in the air. That's my idea of a beautiful day. Does that make crazy? Of course not. And if you feel the same way, then speak up. Don't let these fascists control the way you view the weather.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

At the Door

I opened the door. A middle aged, medium sized, black man with a mustache stared at me like I had a contagious disease. To break the awkwardness, I did something unusual. I initiated the conversation- by saying, "Hello."
"Oh, um, hello. My, well, church is running classes for people in crisis. Did you hear about the thing that just happened in Towson? The guy who killed his family..." he said, stumbling over his words.
"Yeah." I cocked open the screen door to try to set him at ease.
"Um, ok. Well, my church has classes for people in crisis, teaching them how to deal with things so they don't get to that point. You are welcome to come," he said, stressing the 'you' as if my invitation might be in question. I politely answer, "Ok," took his flier, and thanked him.

I closed the door and turned around, thinking to myself, 'What the hell was wrong with that guy.' I looked down at his flier and saw the problem. I had caught a glimpse of my shirt, which dons a big Star of David with a ferocious panther placed inside, the Jewish boxer Yuri Foreman's logo. I forgot I was wearing it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Go to School, Win a Championship

The NBA has seen a flood of highschoolers and foreigners (in this in this case, a foreign player is someone who has not played collegiately in the U.S.) in recent years. But only one has led his team to an NBA championship.

Beginning in 1991, Jordan, a three-year college player, and Olajuwan (3 years), led their teams to NBA championships through 1998. In 1999, the Spurs were led by two big men with 4 years each of college experience in Duncan and Robinson. Shaq (3 years in college) led the Lakers to titles over the next three seasons. Duncan also led his team to titles in '03, '05, and '07. Filling in the blanks, the Pistons won in '04 because of a team effort, including Billups (2 years), Rasheed Wallace (2 years) Ben Wallace (4 years) Hamilton (3 years), and Prince (4 years). Shaq and Wade (3 years) led the Heat in '06.

Only last season, did a highschooler lead his team to a championship. Kevin Garnett was surrounded by a plethora of talent however. Pierce (3 years), the Finals MVP, and Allen (3 years) contributed greatly. Before last year, Garnett had only gotten out of the first round of the playoffs once.

Kobe was the second banana on the Shaq-led Lakers teams and Parker won the Finals MVP in '07, but both were not the leaders of their team. Of late, foreigners and highscoolers have led their teams to losses in the Finals, Dirk in '06, LeBron in '07, and Kobe in '08. Both number one seeds are led by highschoolers this season.

While the last couple of years have seen an increase of relative success for highschoolers and foreigners, it still appears there is no substitute for playing a few years in college. If you want to win an NBA championship, that is.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Top 10 Friends

As you might have gathered, I enjoy making lists, numbering the best this and the worst that. So, I came up with the idea of ranking and rating my friends in the hopes that it will create a healthy competition for my love and affection.

My fear is that it will cause resentment. Those towards the bottom will be upset at their low score; those at the top will be offended that I could possibly find a numerical representation symbolizing the status our friendship.

As a result, all my friends would abandon me and I would have no one to rank and rate. Maybe I'll just stick to ordering athletes, politicians, Jews, and countries that end in "stan."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I Don't Celebrate Earth Day

If I did something different for Earth Day than I normally do, that would be an admission that I don't do all I can for the environment all the time. I'm not willing to admit that. If I did something different for Earth Day, people would say, why don't you do that all the time. And you know what, they would be right. So, every day is Earth Day for me. Or, to be it more accurately, I don't celebrate Earth Day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Short Men Can Rule Too

In his book profiling African leaders in 2000, Alan Rake mentions former Zambian president, Frederick Chiluba's small stature three times.

First: "But the tough little trade unionist, standing just over five feet tall..." On the same page: "The diminutive Chiluba (standing only just over five feet tall) spent most of his childhood..." On the next page: "The little man in his baggy jeans and wide ties was greeted as a hero..."

What the hell, Alan Rake? When I introduced you (above), I didn't mention your height or any other distinguishing features. In your profile of Hosni Mubarak, you didn't constantly reference his unusually shriveled testicles. What's so noteworthy about a short man running a country? And if one reads the way in which Chiluba's height was mentioned, the Zambian leader's height is clearly mocked. You know Mr. Rake, you should have worried less about Frederick Chiluba's height and more about the millions of dollars he embezzled from the country!

Enough of this anti-short man hate-speech. Short men can do anything that other men can. A tall man's ambition is a short man's Napolean complex. We need a change. Let's look to Ricky Hatton, who has a hot tall fiancee. Or Manny Pacquiao who destroyed the taller Oscar de la Hoya. Or Nate Robinson who dunked over and past the much taller Dwight Howard. And then there's Gandhi and Martin Luther King. What has a tall man ever done besides being a douche? Short men unite!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Disappointment in My People

One of my previous decrees has caused an unmitigated disaster. Even though my administration is infallible, we occasionally make mistakes. I had too much faith in my people. Sometimes we leaders think so highly of our subjects that we expect too much of them. Apparently, my decrees that
  1. The names of all of our wonderful cities in this great land will now be named after me and
  2. The streets, every one of them, in each of our wonderful cities, will now be named after me
have caused chaos in our land. You people have become very confused and it has cost our nation's economy an untold amount of money due to the resulting inefficiency. I thought you could handle the changes like the fantastic people that you are. You couldn't. As the leader, I accept full responsibility for your inadequacy.

Today's decrees
The decree that the names of all of our wonderful cities in this great land will now be named after me is now and forever repealed.

The decree that the streets, every one of them, in each of our wonderful cities, will now be named after me is now and forever repealed.

People with more than one first name will have to choose between losing one of their first names or one of their limbs.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Double Cheeseburger

"Can I have 2 plain double cheeseburgers please?" I asked, my usual order at McDonald's restaurant.
"Do you want the McDouble or the double cheeseburger?" was the reply.
I stood there flustered. My eyes searched the menu, but I couldn't find the answer. Finally, I relented. I was defeated. "What's the difference?" After a short, unclear explanation, I asked for the cheaper burger.

The second person after me was a tall black man. "Can I have 2 double cheeseburgers please?" I smiled. I knew what was coming.
"Do you want the McDouble or the double cheeseburger?" was the predictable reply.
The man stood their flustered. His eyes searched the menu, but it was clear he couldn't find the answer. Finally, he relented. His face was filled with defeat. "What's the difference?" After a short, unclear explanation, he asked for the cheaper burger.

It was a life-affirming experience for me. No matter one's race, religion, creed, or height, you would have the same response to that question: "Do you want the McDouble or the double cheeseburger?"

Saturday, April 18, 2009

2009 NBA Playoff Predictions

First round - Conference Semis
Cavs over Pistons 4-1 - Cavs over Hawks 4-1
Hawks over Heat 4-3
Celtics over Bulls 4-2 - Magic over Celtics 4-2
Magic over 76ers 4-2

First round - Conference Semis
Lakers over Jazz 4-2 - Lakers over Rockets 4-1
Rockets over Blazers 4-2
Nuggets over Hornets 4-3 - Nuggets over Mavs 4-3
Mavs over Spurs 4-2

Conference Finals
Cavs over Magic 4-2
Lakers over Nuggets 4-1

Lakers over Cavs 4-2

Friday, April 17, 2009

Evil Leaders League, Season 5 in Review

The fifth installment of the Evil Leaders League is now complete. I must say, it was probably the best one yet. Season 5 of the ELL was bigger than Jesus in a speedo. In its five season history, the ELL has still only had 2 champions. But we've had numerous competitors and countless laughs. As always, this season was dedicated first and foremost to the people who make this league happen, the citizens of the afflicted countries. The official ELL site is here. Check throughout the off season for updates.

The Champion - Kim Jong-Il 6-1 (2-0)
Following a mid-summer stroke, Kim Jong-Il raised his game to another level. He was firing bombs from the outside like a young Tim Legler. The difference is that Kim is a threat inside as well. His regime spends its foreign aid currency to build a weapons program that threatens the world in order to receive more aid and start the cycle all over again. Meanwhile, the people of North Korea just watch the action like a bunch of ugly supermodels.

Check out the best out-of-context lines from this season in the Highlights section.

The Challengers
Omar al-Bashir 5-2 (1-1) - The genocidal dictator from Sudan came up short for only the 2nd time in ELL history.
Bashar al-Assad 5-2 (0-1) - Funding terrorist groups got this Syrian into the playoffs; moderate talk made it a short stay.
Than Shwe 4-3 (0-1) - How respectful of human rights do you expect a military junta to be?
Hugo Chavez 4-3 - The Venezuelan leader is like a four-year old when it comes to declaring ownership and dealing with people who disagree with him.

The Relegated
Omar Bongo 2-5 - The beatnik from Gabon couldn't buy or imprison his way into another season in the ELL.
Ali Khamenei 1-6 - The Ayatollah might be all powerful in Iran, but not in the ELL.
Nursultan Nazarbayev 1-6 - I don't care how little respect the Kazakh leader has for dissent, I'll be damned if I have to write out his name for another season.

Some Facts and Figures:
Uses of the word during the fifth ELL season - some variation of the word "evil" 33 times; "fuck" 6 times; "shit" 3 times; "a Rangoon Steamer" 1 time; "autocrat" 3 times; "blueberry muffins" 1 time.

7 lame jokes about Omar Bongo's last name
6 appearances by random musicians (Master P, Michael Jackson, Don Omar, Whitney Houston, Paul Simon, Madonna)
4 mentions of George W. Bush
2 accounts of prisoners being whipped (and not in the good S&M way)
1 reference to Rubin "Hurricane" Carter's father, that dead lady who had her hand up Lamb Chop's ass, and Uncle Jessie tucking in Michelle.

I'd also like to take the space to thank our loyal and not so loyal followers of the Evil Leaders League.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

College Players in the NBA Predictions Update

This is the third year that we've predicted which college players will be better throughout their entire NBA career. Remeber, the predictins were for their entire careers, but it's still fun to get an update. (A star indicates that it's debateable which player is better)

Update of 2007 Predictions
Kevin Durant, Greg Oden. (the better player from left to right)
Greg Oden*, Joakim Noah*, Roy Hibbert.
Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer.
Al Horford, Jeff Green.
Corey Brewer, Arron Afflalo.
Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert.
Mike Conley, Ty Lawson (college).
Brandan Wright, Julian Wright.

Update of 2008 Predictions
O.J. Mayo, Michael Beasley, Bill Walker.
Brook Lopez*, Kevin Love*, Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough (college).
Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon.
Corey Fisher (college), Scottie Reynolds (college).
Roy Hibbert, Patrick Ewing*, Jonathan Wallace*, DuJuan Sommers (college).
Wayne Ellington (college), Gerald Henderson (college).
D.J. Augustin, Ty Lawson (college), Darren Collison (college).
Bill Walker, Damion James (college), DuJuan Sommers (college).

The playoffs could shuffle of few things. We'll check back next year.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The 2008-09 Knicks

First and foremost, the New York Knicks improved. The Knicks finished 32-50. Not good. Not terrible. Besides the inclusion of a real live NBA head coach, some players also contributed to the progress. Nate Robinson, who averaged over 17 points a game has the potential to be a sixth man of the year candidate on a good team right now. David Lee, who averaged another double double (16 pts, 11.7 rebs), could be a starting complimentary big man on a good team with a true post threat.
The Knicks traded away Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph early in the season. In return, they received Al Harrington, the only player of on court value in the deals. Harrington, who fits Mike D'Antoni's system perfectly, led the team with nearly 21 a game. Chris Duhon scored 11 a game with 7 dishes in his first season with the Knicks. Wilson Chandler had a breakout year with 14.4 a game.

But D'Antoni's style lends itself to some impressive offensive statistics. New York still didn't play any defense. The improvement came on the offensive side. D'Antoni was wise to get rid of the high-profiled riffraff that have dragged the Knicks down over the past few years. But the challenge of building a true playoff team is large.
The Knicks have some invaluable role players who have been thrust into prominent roles. Harrington and Robinson should be two tremendous sparks off the bench, not the team's two leading scorers. Lee should be a power forward who does the dirty work, not a center and the team's best player. Duhon could be the best backup point guard in the league. He started 77 games for the Knicks. The trick is to keep these absolutely essential role players while adding starters. It won't be easy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

First Pet, Bo

I can't hold in my excitement at the new first pet. He's the most famous animal in the world. Of course I'm talking about Bo.
Bo is a cockroach in my kitchen. He's my first pet. What they say about Baltimore is true. Only a few lucky ones make it out. Bo is one of those lucky ones. The rest of his vast family that's spread out all across Baltimore hasn't been so fortunate. They just don't have the star power that Bo possesses.
Everyone's been talking about Bo. He's got such an appetite! Bo just loves eating my candy out of the cupboard, which is adorable. Some cynical people think this whole Bo thing is silly and they want to get rid of him. How dare they! Bo is a perfect representation of us as Americans. How could anybody want to get rid of him.


Monday, April 13, 2009

After Me

I understand that some things have changed in your life since I took over the country. My hope is that your life is better than it was before. But, I understand that this is an adjustment. Also, I'm new at this. We're still ironing out the kinks (literally- take that vice district), so stay with me and we'll make this a great nation together.

You might have taken a stab at what the title of this post means. I'm not making contingency plans should I pass on. Are you crazy? I don't even want you to dream of what life will be like without me as your leader. Oh, the horror!

Today's decrees
The names of all of our wonderful cities in this great land will now be named after me.

The streets, every one of them, in each of our wonderful cities, will now be named after me.

But the best part of it, since every fourth baby is already named after me, in reality, our cities and streets will be named after you, the beautiful people of this great land. Or at least a fourth of you anyway.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

0 For Nats

The 2009 season has not got off to a good start for the Washington Nats. Almost a week has gone by and their W column is still empty. Maybe, grabbing a collection of former Cincinnati Reds wasn't the best direction for the team to go.

The Nats offense is better so far this season. But they haven't been able to get any timely hits. It seems that the more men are on base, the less likely a hit will be forthcoming. I can't tell you how many times the Nats have left the bases loaded without scoring a run. Well, I could, I just don't want to.

But the Nats bats are still young. Dukes, Milledge, Zimmerman, and Flores all have time on their side. Guzman, Dunn and Kearns aren't sitting in rocking chairs either. If a couple of the names on the first list truly flourish in future years, the Nats offense might actually be pretty good.

I'm not really sure what the Nats are trying to do on the mound. It seems like they pick up other teams' castoffs every year. One of them, Tim Redding, actually resurrected his career, and as soon as that happened, he was gone. Lannan, who is inconsistent, has shown a good bit of potential, but the rest of the Nats rotation is a combination of castoffs and young pitchers that the Nats don't stick it out with when they struggle.

I still like Manny Acta. This is only his third season. He has a young team and has never been given a pitching staff. Stability is the best route for the franchise. So, unless Acta does something really terrible, he should still be given a free pass this season.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Predictions For College Players in the NBA

This is the third year we've done these type of predictions. We are predicting who will have the better pro career. Last year's predictions are here. After the regular season is over, I'll have an update from the previous two seasons.

Darren Collison, Stephen Curry, Toney Douglas, Johnny Flynn, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Eric Maynor
me: Holiday, Maynor, Curry, Flynn, Lawson, Douglas, Collison.
Ian: Lawson, Maynor, Collison, Curry, Holiday, Douglas, Flynn.
Mike: Curry, Lawson, Collison, Flynn, Maynor, Holliday, Douglas.

DeJuan Blair, Derrick Brown, Blake Griffin, Tyler Hanbrough, Larry Sanders, Hasheem Thabeet
me: Griffin, Sanders, Brown, Thabeet, Hansbrough, Blair.
Ian: Griffin, Blair, Sanders, Thabeet, Hansbrough, Brown.
Mike: Griffin, Thabeet, Blair, Hansbrough, Brown, Sanders.

James Harden, Gerald Henderson, Damion James
me: Harden, Henderson, James.
Ian: Henderson, Harden, James.
Mike: Harden, Henderson, James.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Evil Leaders League Finals, Game 2

Will Kim Jong-Il capture his second ELL title or will Omar al-Bashir send the championship series to an all-important deciding Game 3? Let's find out.

Kim vs al-Bashir
In addition to firing off rockets in a bid to scare the world, North Korea's Kim Jong-Il has created a new, extremely effective, weight loss program. You can eat whatever you want and you don't have to exercise for one minute. All you have to do is have a near-fatal stroke. The leaner Kim looked great, depending on how you define "great," at his most recent public appearance, the first since his stroke. And what a way to come back: as public enemy # 1.

Omar al-Bashir, from Sudan, is challenging the sovereignty of the International Criminal Court as he continues to defy a warrant for his arrest on charges of genocide. This could be a big moment in determining the efficacy and relevance of international organizations designed to save the victims of intra-national repression. Because of the stress of being in the spotlight in such a moment, al-Bashir has put on some weight. In fact, his doctor asked him to lose 10-15 pounds. After the doctor was killed, al-Bashir set off on a quest to find a fatter doctor. Maybe he should try Kim's weight loss program.

To see the winner of the contest and the series tally, check out the Evil Leaders League site.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Perfect Love

Maya Moore, Renee Montgomery, and Tina Charles are good. They led UCONN through a perfect season and to a national championship. They are each the best in the country at their respective positions. It's not difficult to see why. Every game it seemed like they were grown women facing little children. No team even came close to them this year. Never did a UCONN game end with a single digit margin of victory.

An upset of sorts did occur Tuesday night. Louisville led during the contest. Once the teams reached double digits, UCONN never looked back and coasted to a 76-54 win. Louisville only had one legitimate player, Angel McCoughtry, who poured in 23 points. UCONN's three more than countered McCoughtry's performance. Montgomery scored 18, Moore had 18 with 9 rebounds and 5 assists, while Charles scored 25 and grabbed 19 rebounds.

While Montgomery will probably be playing the WNBA in a couple of months, Moore, who is a sophomore, and Charles who is a junior, will both be back to do it all again next year. A scary proposition for the rest of college basketball.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

God's Team

I watched some of last year's tournament in a Jacksonville, Florida bar. The decrepit white-haired owner was a big North Carolina fan. After the Heels won their game, he repeatedly screamed, "God's team! God's team!" while clapping wildly. Well, sometimes God faces disappointments in the NCAA Tournament, but I guess that just makes the victories that much sweeter.

UNC raced out to an early lead and never looked back. Michigan State was valiant, cutting the lead significantly in the second half, but never tested the Tar Heels, who set championship games records for most points in the first half and largest halftime lead. Ty Lawson set the record for most steals in a final game. UNC won 89-72.

Only Goran Suton played well for a Michigan State team that turned the ball over entirely too much. UNC featured a balanced attack. Lawson, Hansbrough, and the MOP Wayne Ellington all had good games. Freshman big man Ed Davis was a nice contributor, but hopefully he doesn't jump into the NBA just yet.

Jim Nantz claimed that Michigan State played the toughest road possible in this year's Tournament. Almost. They beat USC, the 10th seed, in the second round. The toughest possible matchup would have been the 7 seed, Boston College. He also mentioned the UNC's senior class advanced one step each tournament run. They lost to George Mason in the 2nd round in 2006; then to Georgetown in the Elite 8 in 2007, which is two steps. Yes, it's anal, but you can get a summary of the game anywhere, I've got to give you something different.

I won $5 from the game. I can't decide whether to invest the money or throw it all away on Slurpees, candy, and women.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Evil Leaders League Finals, Game 1

Can you feel it in the air tonight? No, it's not pollution from a Hummer that gets an embarrassingly low ratio of miles per gallon. It's the excitement that comes with the first game of the Evil Leaders League Finals. As always, the ELL Finals is a best out of three affair (first competitor to reach two victories grabs the title) with a quick turn-around. So stay tuned. Kim Jong-Il, the leader of North Korea, is gunning for his second career title. Omar al-Bashir, who has dominated both Sudan and the ELL during the first four seasons, is searching for his astonishing fourth championship.

al-Bashir vs Kim
Omar al-Bashir is on the lam. No, it's not because two foreign aid workers were just kidnapped in the genocide-riddled region of Darfur. But good guess. It has more to do with that riddle of genocide. If al-Bashir is lucky, not only will he avoid facing the ICC charges of genocide, he'll get a teaching job at Goucher College. For now, al-Bashir continues to have the support of Arab leaders, who have released a joint statement, "We reject the charge of genocide against Omar al-Bashir. He can kill whoever he wants as long as he stays the fuck outta Gaza. Those are really the only people we care about."

Kim Jong-Il is on a high right now. He just launched a rocket intended to show the world that North Korea has the capacity to transport their nuclear weapons. The rocket was supposed to send a satellite into orbit. Western powers don't believe the satellite made it, but they're still sounding the alarms. This just adds to the legend of the North Koreans, who gained independence with high-powered water guns. The guns may have only shot water, but it was still terrifying to those poor Americans. Whereas al-Bashir has gone the old school route in killing a mass amount of people, this is the age of technology. People want things instantly. No one wants to see a long drawn out mass killing; we want it to be immediate and spectacular.
winner: Check the ELL site
series: Check the ELL site

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Black Friday

Here at the Times, we're all about cultural sensitivity. One way to be culturally sensitive is to learn about other cultures. One way to learn about other cultures is to discuss their holidays.

One holiday that American Christians observe has always intrigued me. It is the holiday of Black Friday. Let's learn more about this often overlooked holiday.

It takes place about a month before Christmas and begins the month-long celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, who is considered a god in the Christian religion. Black Friday always takes place the day after Thanksgiving.

Black Friday is generally observed by all American Christians, regardless of the level of their religious fervor. The celebration begins in the wee hours of the last Friday morning in November. Peculiarly, people do not meet in churches, which is the usual meeting place on religious holidays for the American Christian. Instead, they meet outside of commercial buildings, such as Wal Mart.

The most interesting part of the ritual occurs around 5 or 6 in the morning. The doors of the commercial building are opened. Then a mad rush of American Christians stampede through the doors so as to trample on some of the members of their community in order to sacrifice them to appease their vengeful god, Jesus Christ. Then, to atone for the sins they've committed against their families throughout the previous year, they use green money or plastic cards to purchase gifts with little or no discernable use. They will then transfer these gifts to their kin on Christmas day in a bid for forgiveness.

It's no Yom Kippur, but it's still a fascinating holiday from a wonderful group of people who follow a very honorable religion.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

2009 Final Four Recap

The Final Four featured two rather lackluster games. Michigan State against Connecticut was the more intriguing matchup as it turned out. But there was a more interesting storyline heading into Saturday's semifinal round.

Seniors from three of the Final Four teams lost to George Mason in the NCAA Tournament in 2006: UNC, Michigan State, and UCONN. Talk about a lasting legacy! Now if we can get at large bids for mid majors, we'd be set.

Michigan State got off to the quick start, but UCONN returned the favor and the first half was competitive. The game closely resembled the Spartans contest against Louisville as the Big 10 champs pulled away in the second half. But UCONN made State a bit nervous at various points in the second stanza. The Spartans always seem to have an unheralded and balanced bunch, who follow the winning lead of their coach, Tom Izzo.

The Spartans were led by Raymar Morgan and Kalin Lucus. Durrell Summers had the game of his life, including a man slam over Stanley Robinson. Summers also hit a key and-one down the stretch, although he totally airballed a three from the corner late in the game. UCONN didn't give the necessary effort, which was the case with Louisville as well, although perhaps Michigan State's play just made it appear that way. Robinson was really the Huskies best player with 15 points and 13 rebounds, although their other starters put up some numbers. Freshman Kemba Walker had a nightmarish game, particularly down the stretch, where he made sure his team's comeback chances were nil.

In the other game, UNC took an early lead and never looked back. Villanova shot terribly, which they could ill-afford. UNC has looked like the strongest team throughout the Tournament. They haven't played a game where the opponent ended within a dozen points of the Heels. They could coast, but if they are in dogfight, the lack of competitive games in the last month could be a factor on Monday night.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Before and After in Cuba

The last sixty years of Cuban history have been divided into two periods. They are known simply as antes and despu├ęs. The point of departure was Fidel Castro's Revolution. Since, there has been a grab to define the discourse by those who support the Revolution and by those who do not. Those involved will create arguments to prove that life in Cuba was better before the Revolution or that it has been better because of it. One example deals with the condition Cuban blacks before and after the Revolution.

One argument in favor of the opinion that the Revolution has improved life for the country's blacks, claims that Fidel Castro's nickname "El Caballo" (The Horse) could have been borrowed from the leader of the 1912 black rebellion, Evaristo Estenoz, who was symbolized by the horse, as a subtle appeal to blacks. While it's a little far fetched to believe that Castro borrowed an obscure symbol from a failed rebellion that would have challenged his own rule, it's even more unlikely that the island's black population would have recognized the fifty-year old reference. But that shows the length that people will take to argue their side, and it should be noted that there plenty of examples going the other way.

History is always in dialogue with the agendas of the present. The moment of the Revolution had very little impact on most of the nation's black population. Significant changes in people's livelihood often take place within a regime's rule, not simply during convenient moments of change chosen by historians. (The International Edition has much more)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

It's Alright Charlie

The girls like Charlie. They just don't want to be with him. Well, that's not entirely true. Some like him and don't want to be him; some like him, want to be with him, but just can't because of the world. Charlie often feels like a murder victim, yet he continues to live.

But let's not feel too sorry for our friend Charlie. Sure, he's a shlimazl when it comes to the ladies. It's not a good scene when you a like a woman, she likes you, and that's not enough. Sometimes she'll act like you're worse than Hitler. Sometimes she'll act like you're the only thing in her world. It's confusing and poor Charlie is too dumb to figure things out. And when he does, it's far too late.

But remember, I said don't feel too sorry for good old Charlie. He's surrounded by wonderful women. These women won't shoot him. In fact, they'll be there whenever someone else shoots him. You see, Charlie's a lot luckier than he realizes.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Microsoft Word is anti-Semitic

Whenever I try to spellcheck Yiddish words, Microsoft Word gives me some interesting suggestions. Here are some...

mensch - munch, mesh, menace, mash, menisci.
plotz - plots, pilots, plats.
shvitz - shifts, shirts, shrifts, soviets.
bubkes - bubbles, bucks, bulks, burkes, buboes.
bubbe - bubble, babe, bubby, bubo, bobbed.
meshugge - messenger, meshing, mashing.
mazel - maze, hazel, maize, maser.
bubelah - bubble, bibelot, rubella, bubal, bugbear.
gelt - gilt, geld, gel, get.
oy - you, coy, joy, soy, toy.
shikse - shakes, shrikes, spikes, hikes.
toches - touches, torches, troches, techs.
shmutz - shuts, smuts, shouts.
shmeer - sheer, schemer, shear, smear.
shnoz - shoos, shone, show, snooze, shot.
shtup - setup, shot, stop, step, stoop.
feh - fen, fey, fez, few, fee.
ferklempt - (no suggestions)
balebusta - (no suggestions)

Yiddish words than Microsoft Word recognizes, with their spelling...
kvetch, schlimazel, schlemiel, goy, mitzvah, yarmulke, chutzpa, yenta, schmooze, schmaltz, schlep, nebbish, schmuck, shtick, nosh, matzo, lox, bagel, klutz.