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Monday, October 02, 2006

Football Thoughts on the Sans a Bronco Weekend

  1. Watching the Seattle - Chicago game, I can’t help but think that Shaun Alexander is even more important to Seattle’s offense than I had thought. I took Seattle in this game assuming that they would have a good game plan to overcome Alexander’s injury; I was wrong.
  2. Wow. KC made the 49ers look like the University of Colorado.
  3. What the Titans’ DT, Albert Haynesworth, did to Andre Gurode wasn’t a penalty: it was an assault. Stomping intentionally on another player’s unprotected head is dangerous and criminal. It isn’t just part of the game.

    It was pure luck that the damage to Gurode’s head wasn’t worse-and the only possible intent to that kind of an action is to injure someone.

    Good for Fisher for making no excuses for his player and good for the NFL for making the punishment fit the crime. Note: These guys don’t agree that the punishement was severe enough. Their arguments are compelling.
  4. Will the Raiders lose all of their games this season? It’s almost as hard to lose all the games as it is to win all the games in a season--at least, without intentionally tanking some games. Personally, though, I think the Raiders might just have the stuff to go the distance.
  5. Hooray Houston! Here’s to Kubiak’s first win as a head coach. Unfortunately, he might not have too many opportunities to celebrate this season. Houston would probably beat the Raiders in a match, but that’s just setting the bar mighty low.
  6. San Diego’s late-game breakdown must look painfully familiar to Bolts fans. Poor bastards.
  7. Is it safe to say Kurt Warner’s career as a starting NFL quarterback is over? Sadly, I think it is.
  8. Down that same road, what is happening in Miami? I thought that Duante Culpepper was the missing ingredient for a team with Super Bowl aspirations In all that I’ve seen, he’s looked unsure, a little slow with his decisions, and almost immobile. This isn’t the guy that Miami fans were hoping for.
  9. For a game that was pretty tight throughout the first half, the Eagles sure made Green Bay look toothless in the second half. Green Bay--their one win notwithstanding--sure are giving the Raiders some competition for worst team in the league.
  10. Speaking of Monday Night Football, the new Transformer-esque intro with the city that becomes a football stadium annoys the heck out of me. It’s overly long, it’s boring, and the product placement is pretty heavy. Be gone, I say!
  11. Bret Favre is taking a brutal beating this year. Week after week, it looks like it’s going to be an ugly end to his career.

Speaking of Puritanical (Because We Weren’t, but, Damnit, I Wanted To)

Unless there is something more to this story, the teacher and the community should be angered that the puritanical tendencies of one parent could blemish what sounds like a distinguished teaching career.

...Ms. McGee, 51, a popular art teacher with 28 years in the classroom, is out of a job after leading her fifth-grade classes last April through the Dallas Museum of Art. One of her students saw nude art in the museum, and after the child’s parent complained, the teacher was suspended.

Although the tour had been approved by the principal, and the 89 students were accompanied by 4 other teachers, at least 12 parents and a museum docent, Ms. McGee said, she was called to the principal the next day and “bashed.”

She later received a memorandum in which the principal, Nancy Lawson, wrote: “During a study trip that you planned for fifth graders, students were exposed to nude statues and other nude art representations.” It cited additional complaints, which Ms. McGee has challenged.

The school board suspended her with pay on Sept. 22.

In a newsletter e-mailed to parents this week, the principal and Rick Reedy, superintendent of the Frisco Independent School District, said that Ms. McGee had been denied transfer to another school in the district, that her annual contract would not be renewed and that a replacement had been interviewed.

The episode has dumbfounded and exasperated many in and out of this mushrooming exurb, where nearly two dozen new schools have been built in the last decade and computers outnumber students three to one.

A representative of the Texas State Teachers Association, which has sprung to Ms. McGee’s defense, calls it “the first ‘nudity-in-a-museum case’ we have seen.”

“Teachers get in trouble for a variety of reasons,” said the association’s general counsel, Kevin Lungwitz, “but I’ve never heard of a teacher getting in trouble for taking her kiddoes on an approved trip to an art museum.”

There is a difference between art and pornography; not every representation of a nude body is a case of the latter. There is a reasonable expectation that any decent museum will have its share of nude paintings and sculpture that the majority of us would agree fall into the “art” category; any parent who objects to any nude representations shouldn’t let the school take their kids to an art museum. This isn’t a reflection on the teacher or the art, in fact, it’s a reflection on the minds and beliefs of the parents and a school administration taking this single complaint to an extreme conclusion.

I’ve only seen this story and I’ve only read, essentially, the one side of the story. There may well have been other reasons and other complaints for the administrator’s actions. On the face of it, though, this is just wrong.

Read the story.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Two Blogging Quickies

Firstly, I really don’t get what the fake Malkin photo was supposed to prove even if it had been real. Whatever I’ve thought of Malkin’s posts--often I agree, occasionally I disagree, and every once in a while I think she goes too far in something that she’s written--I’ve never noticed her say that women shouldn’t wear bikinis or have fun. So how was this photo really supposed to reflect her in a bad light? Sorry, I really don’t get it.

What I also don’t get is how her husband gets through the day without having a clock tower moment. The things that have been said about her must absolutely drive him to moments of rage. Either that or he’s a much more mellow guy than I am. Call my wife a whore, make what amount to racist jokes about her and ping pong balls, and then say things about her that are blatantly and rudely sexual (and read all the way to the end of this post if you aren’t sure what I’m talking about) and you would find a very cranky me up in your face.

It’s amazing to me that the enlightened, diversity-celebrating left seems to think that it’s perfectly acceptable to use racist and sexist rhetoric to combat Malkin’s words.

Not that she needs somebody like me speaking for her; she seems to do fine in standing up for herself.

Second, apparently a good percentage of Americans believe that our government is manipulating oil prices to benefit Republicans in the upcoming elections. I wonder if those same people think that Hugo Chavez and Venezuela’s oil industry are doing their best to keep oil prices high because they would prefer to see Republicans fail? Because, seriously, I think one is more likely than the other.

On that same subject, does anyone find it interesting that Chavez pays continuing lip service to wanting to provide America’s poor people with affordable oil but then moves to make sure that the market doesn’t let the price of oil fall too low?

And, sort of on the same subject, does anyone find it completely unsurprising that Chavez wants oil prices high (regardless of what that means for the world’s poor people)? Oil money is what props up his government; he was very likely on his way out before oil prices spiked and bought his government out of voter dissatisfaction. If oil prices drop to pre-9/11 numbers, Chavez is unlikely to be in a position of power for very long.

In fact, the most convincing argument for finding an alternative to oil for our cars is that the less money that goes to oil, the less cover given to guys like Chavez around the world. Oil money isn’t always a blessing; it’s often a way for dictators, tyrants, and the incompetent for maintaining control of otherwise undeveloped economies.

Right now, Nigeria, Venezuela, and the entire Middle East are only influential because of the demand for oil. Consider how diverse the economies are of those countries--or, more specifically, how diverse they aren’t--and then answer one question: without oil money, what kind of place would they have in world politics?

Party at ResurrectionSong?

Damn skippy.

Which gives me an idea…

Flyboys: A Shortish Review

Flyboys is a cliche wrapped up in formula and shrouded by convention. I can’t say that there was a single surprise or twist that isn’t telegraphed miles before it happens; for that matter, the manipulative emotional scenes hardly manage to connect despite the soaring music and the obvious cues. While the flying scenes are fun, some of the combat scenes do raise the heartbeat a bit, and the acting is, generally, in that decent-to-good category, the movie never really manages to distinguish itself.

This is a shame since I’m not entirely opposed to playing the old standards. Steven Spielberg has made a career out of taking the most formulaic of Hollywood plots, manipulating emotions shamelessly, and giving moviegoers something compelling to watch. Saving Private Ryan was surprising only in the grittiness and brutality of its combat scenes; the plot contained few unanticipated turns, but the movie is still compelling.

So, in a way, I am the target audience for Flyboys. I love movies that celebrate courage and the idea of redemption, I’m thrilled by early aviation history, and I don’t really mind cliches in the service of a good movie. But Flyboys is a little more Pearl Harbor that it is Saving Private Ryan--just not so mind-bogglingly bad as the former.

There are some redeeming values to the film, not least of which is watching biplanes and triplanes circling each other in the sky. Computer generated or not (and most of them were) this is fun stuff. That isn’t to say that it looks real, because this movie doesn’t have that whiff of authenticity that the best war movies convey. It’s just that old Nieuports and Fokkers are cool regardless of the factual errors and anachronisms that more informed viewers will spot. Most of the rest of the good of the movie is either captured in Jean Reno’s light turn as the commanding officer of the unit and Jennifer Decker as the love interest (there had to be one), Lucienne. Decker makes the most of a fairly small role that is defined as much by her convincing acting as by her beauty.

The movie, about an early mostly-American volunteer group (think something similar to Chennault’s AVG before America’s entry into World War II) fighting as aviators in France. This is a topic with potential--it could have been good. Instead, it isn’t bad enough to be Pearl Harbor, but it isn’t good enough to recommend. The producers’ hearts were in the right place, but the script, like the characters, just isn’t developed enough despite the movie’s lengthy running time.

The best I can say is that it might have been a fun movie to rent on a lazy Saturday, cuddling up with your significant other and a big bowl of popcorn.

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