Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Another Look at Russia
From Mario Loyola over in The Corner:
Which is kind of the point I was trying to make a couple days ago. It is simply becoming more obvious with each passing week that not only can we not trust the Russians to back us in our foreign policy endeavors, even as they relate to the war on terror, but we can expect them to work quietly against us.
Which, if we’re going to be getting all Cold War up in this joint, we might want to have the right musical accompaniment. (Warning: This a link to a semi-largish mp3 of Sting at his Cold Un-Warrior best.)
Monday, November 27, 2006
Speaking of Jay Cutler (Because, On and Off, We Have Been Since September)
The only thing I would add to the thing is this: when is someone going to step up and grab the starting running back spot? Denver is usually running back heaven; careers and big contracts are made in the Broncos backfield even if those big bucks sometimes come from another team’s pockets. It boggles the mind that there probably won’t be a thousand yard rusher in Denver this season, and I think that a lot of the Broncos woes can be traced to that lack.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
About Those Raiders
We now have conclusive proof that not only do the Raiders hate themselves, but God isn’t fond of them, either.
In San Diego, the Raiders played a damned good game. Randy Moss seemed engaged, the defense played spectacularly, and the Brooks looked reasonably good. In fact, they played so well that they had a touchdown lead, were in scoring position, and looked to be on the verge of upsetting one of the league’s best teams.
Remember what I said about having faith that the Raiders would always work hard to beat themselves? That still stands.
A combination of bad play (Brooks’ interception with the Raiders in that scoring position), bad penalties (the major face mask that pushed the Raiders into an extremely long second down with the score tied up), and God’s own vengeance for all of Al Davis’ wrongdoing in life (the demented “illegal forward pass” that left San Diego with a first down instead of turning over the ball on either downs or a fumble) made sure that there would be no celebrating in Raider-land this week. It was one of the strangest and most deflating ends of a game that I’ve seen in quite some time. It also left KC and Denver fans disappointed that the Raiders couldn’t pull off just one amazing win to keep the race for the AFC West a close one.
All my personal biases aside, I can’t shake the feeling that San Diego really didn’t earn their win today. Of course, with the Raiders working hard to beat themselves, you can’t blame San Diego for taking them up on the offer.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Some Days Still Feel Like the Eighties
Okay, so it doesn’t really feel like the 80s. I’m a few decades removed from my teens, for one thing, and maps of Eastern Europe are far more jig-sawier than they used to be, for another.
But Russia is working hard to bring back that loving feeling.
A report like this would have been shrug-worthy in 80s: the Soviet Union was constantly arming our enemies in that tug-of-war for global political-cultural dominance. Proxy wars and regional manipulations are, of course, safer than a face-down that would have eventually compelled one side or the other to resort to a devastating nuclear option. What is so confounding now, though, is the question of precisely what the Russians hope to achieve.
Arming Iran is a bad thing for everyone and doesn’t just act as a way to indirectly confront American interests in the Middle East. Arming Iran is a kind of vote for destabilization in the region and an inducement for more American involvement. Iran is openly hostile to the state of Israel and an Iran with a new, robust air defense technology might be tempted to act even more aggressively to destroy Israel and to solidify its regional dominance.
The US could not stand that and would be drawn into a much wider, bloodier war than we saw in Iraq. Coupled with the likelihood of Iran having nuclear weapons capabilities, an Iran-Israel war that pulls in US and perhaps Syrian involvement could be devastating--not directly devastating to the US since it would prove no existential threat to us, but devastating to life and the economic structures of the world.
I would still consider the Iran-Israel war to be unlikely, but the air defense system delivered by the Russians to Iran and the (likely false) sense of security that the system provides, makes it just a little more possible. Why would Russia want this?
This way lies oil-production disruption.
It could just be the profit motive, of course. At almost three quarters of a billion dollars, the arms deal is just one of a continuing series of big money deals between the Russians and Iran. This has been a lucrative relationship for the Russians.
A little conspiracy-theory thinking, though, may provide a different explanation.
Russia may no longer seek global political dominance in any direct sense, but the desire for economic dominance and greater political influence still exists. They may have lost the Cold War, but they haven’t retired from global politics.
Oil production in Russia is bigger than you might have thought. With recoverable reserves or perhaps 150 billion barrels and its recent ascension to being the biggest oil producer in the world (a position previously held by Saudi Arabia), Russia’s energy security is ensured. If oil prices continue to rise, Russia stands to see monumental monetary gain at the expense of its two biggest rivals: China and the United States.
Any move to destabilize the Middle East, then, becomes a way to greater profit for the Russians and economic pain for her enemies. I would hesitate to say that Russian wants to see a war break out between Iran and Israel, but I would like to point out that another war would engage yet another chunk of America’s military capacity and continue testing our citizens’ capacity to accept lengthy military commitments. The urge to isolationism would be powerful.
The Soviet Union may be gone, but the Russians still aren’t our friends. This just comes as a reminder of the adversarial relationship.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Broncos v/ Chiefs: The End of a Season
Tonight, Denver fans, what you watched was the end of one season and the beginning of a rebuilding season. Gone are the thoughts of an AFC West championship and a good playoff run. Gone are the thoughts that this Denver team is one of the better teams in the league.
The Chiefs played well and Larry Johnson continues to prove that he’s one of the finest players in the league. The Broncos have talent, too, but they showed once again that they don’t have talent consistently when and where they need it to win the tough games. The running game--the bedrock of any Shanahan team--is virtually non-existent and the passing game, unfortunately, is hampered by inconsistent and lackluster quarterbacking along with too few legitimate receiving threats.
The defense played well and continued to show that the biggest reservoir of talent on the team is on that side of the ball. Even though they were pushed around on a couple drives, they played an overall strong game. It would be better if they could find a way to be getting pressure on opponents’ quarterbacks, but that is the same thing that critics have been saying for the last few years.
I think the biggest disappointment that I will have coming out of this season is that it is a wasted year in Champ Bailey’s career--and one of his best seasons, for that matter.
And Jake Plummer, regardless of how many wins he has as a Broncos quarterback, seems to have played himself out of his job. Today, he made some bad decisions, a few bad throws, and got little help from his second tier receivers. He also showed a little heart when he scrambled, one of the things that fans love about him. What he didn’t do was make a compelling case for his continuing presence as the Broncos starting quarterback.
Given that the Broncos season has taken a depressing dive over the last week (two losses to AFC West opponents in the last four days), the truth is that the last portion of this season will be devoted to seeing if the team can find the players of the future. Who will step up to take over the role of starting running back and carry us into next year? Mike Bell is almost as inconsistent as Plummer, but shows moments of great talent. Tatum Bell has proven that worries about his hardiness were realistic. Nash is someone who we still don’t know.
And what about the wide receiver situation? I think that it is obvious that Javon Walker will be the number one receiver starting next season and Rod Smith will be a possession-oriented number two. Who will back them up? Kircus, who showed such promise in the pre-season? The Broncos miss having a good, reliable threat from one of their backs, the tight ends aren’t up to the standard that Shannon Sharp set years ago, and there still isn’t a standout third wide receiver.
Of course, the biggest challenge will be seeing if Jay Cutler is the guy who can set the team up for better things next year. Is the Cutler we saw in pre-season truly as talented as he appeared? Is he ready for the responsibility of an NFL leadership role? He looks like he’s 15, which worried me in, perhaps, the most shallow possible way. I have little faith in those pre-season numbers as most of his time came against second string defenses playing simple schemes. The regular season, kind of like the playoffs in the NHL, is an entirely different game.
This isn’t a defeatist view; I fully believe that the Broncos have a great shot at a Wild Card spot in the play offs this year. What I don’t believe is that the Broncos, with so much of their game in disorder, are heading to the Super Bowl. It’s time for Shanahan to start working to salvage what remains of this season and to prepare for next year.
Here’s to Herm Edwards and the Chiefs. While the Broncos seem to be fading, Kansas is starting to shine.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Who the Heck is That?
Sometimes, when expressing an opinion, getting the details wrong really hurts your argument. Makes you sound ill-informed. Ignorant. Foolish.
For example (you knew there was a “for example”, didn’t you?), the latest edition of The Onion has previews of upcoming shows here in Denver. Here is one such preview.
Layne Stanley? Who the hell is that?
See, the singer for Alice in Chains was Layne Staley. This Layne Stanley guy must be someone else.
For that matter, is it wrong for a band to carry on without its deceased lead singer? I have a hard time judging, especially when that singer killed himself. See, some people believe that it isn’t paying proper respect to the dead to ask someone to fill their shoes; I say that the singer wasn’t showing overwhelming consideration to bandmates when he offed himself. A band is a business and is it somehow wrong for the remaining members of Alice in Chains to want to continue to make a living from something that they worked for, too?
Jerry Cantrell is, I would say, as responsible for the sound of Alice in Chains as Staley was. His music and lyrics, his vocals, his distinctive guitar work all helped define Alice in Chains--something that is obvious to anyone who has listened to his solo albums, Degradation Trip and Boggy Depot. So, is it right that Cantrell should pay for Staley’s drug abuse?
Whatever. The person who wrote The Onion piece obviously wasn’t a big fan of the “grunge” scene or of Alice in Chains in particular. Which is fine. That he or she couldn’t find the time to get the name of the lead singer right, though, speaks of ignorant--not informed--opinion. It’s no sin to dislike a musical style, a band, or a singer, but, as a favor to those of us of a differing opinion, be professional enough to get the details right.
It Might Just Be Me
Does anyone get the distinct impression that we’re taking steps in the wrong direction when it comes to race relations in the United States?
Or is it just that in an over-politicized, information-saturated culture, the Mel Gibson Jew hating incident and Kramer latter-day KKK moment along with the Crazy Guy on C-SPAN who advocates exterminating all white people news is amplified by an echo-chamber of indignation, magnifying the infrequent idiocies of just a handful of people until the problems seem insurmountable? Does the focus on those outbursts steal so much attention from the far more numerous wins that we still manage to feel like we’re losing?
Because, I have to tell you, in my private life and in the lives around me, I don’t see that kind of bigotry and haven’t since I was a kid. But when I surf the Internet and turn on the TV, I’m presented with a view of my country that doesn’t match my experience.
I don’t advocate sweeping these things under the cliched rug; we should be outraged by behavior that is outrageous. We should scold and shun because these are powerful tools for building a society that reflects our common values. Silence only encourages bad behavior. But I wonder how healthy it is to imagine that these varied instances of true racism are anything other than the exception to the rule. Regardless of voting records, thoughts on reparations, or beliefs about affirmative action, I don’t imagine that any sizable portion of black America truly wants to kill all white people, for example. This is why I feel no urge to scurry to my own defense, trying to justify my place on the planet. I’m not overly worried that the next black person I meet on the street will be involved in some pogrom to rid the planet of the white pestilence.
Political and cultural successes are often quiet things and the failures get far more media coverage. But, regardless of the problems that we do have, we shouldn’t let our outrage blind us to the very real steps that American society has taken toward equality.
Either that or I am terribly naive.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Broncos v/ Chargers
And speaking of self-destructive.
The Chargers played a brilliant game, so hopefully no one will take my critique as being an indictment of their play. They proved themselves the class of the AFC West today.
The Broncos played a poor game. They gave up a 17 point lead and, honestly, the defense didn’t keep up with their part of the bargain. The bargain being this: the offense scores just enough to win and the defense keeps the other team from the long drives (like the 99 yard drive early in the second half) and the high scores that the Broncos are losing right now. If the defense had kept its end of the bargain, the Broncos would have won.
Make no mistake: the Broncos’ offense is not one that is meant to win games this year. It’s meant to be efficient enough to give the defense opportunities to win games. But the Chargers simply overwhelmed the defense in the second half, playing almost flawlessly.
While the game was ugly in the end, it was an impressive performance by the Chargers and a well-earned win. I look forward to the rematch.
Oakland Raiders v/ KC Chiefs
Watching the Oakland - KC game, I realized that there is almost nothing the Raiders won’t do to lose a game. With half a minute left, down four points, and with more than enough time to win the game, the Raiders again throw away a game through bad play. Aaron Brooks’ toss for an interception killed the last shred of doubt: with the exception of the woeful Cardinals, the Raiders are the worst team in the league.
The defense actually plays a decent game and the kicking game is solid, but this team is mentally incapable of taking advantage of any opportunities that are given to them. The two wins were flukes; the self-destructive instincts are part of this team’s DNA. Which you would think would make me happy.
It doesn’t though. Even though last week’s Broncos-Raiders game was closer than it should have been, there was always that thought that the Raiders would self-destruct before they found a way to pick up the win. That certainty (and the fact that the certainty plays out so predictably) has taken most of the fun out of the Broncos-Raiders rivalry. It’s no fun to hate Raiders fans anymore, the silver and black and their contingent of Halloween-rejects just look sad and foolish now.
Every San Diego and KC game is decidedly more interesting for a Broncos fan than the obligatory two against a bunch of Raiders has-beens and rejects. Don’t get me wrong: there is still talent on the team. Almost all of it is on the defense or special teams, though, and the best offensive players look like they would really rather be somewhere else.
Maybe next year they’ll be better, but it will take a busy off-season of tearing apart and rebuilding to fix the problems with the offense.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
One of the Joys of Dog Co-Ownership
Slipping into bed late at night, trying not to wake your darling girlfriend, tired and ready for sleep. Sliding your hand between cover and sheet you feel something strange. You close your hands over something just a little crisp, something that gives way quickly to a soft, squishy substance that closes over your fingers.
“Oh, shit,” you say, fearing the same, wishing like hell you had something to wipe the mess onto.
“What?” Your girlfriend asks. Her voice is a little blurry from just waking. “What’s wrong?”
“Wait a second. Don’t move. I have to turn on the light.”
You push yourself back up, doing your best to keep your hand from fouling the rest of the linens on the bed. “Shit, shit, shit...”
Up to the light, turn on the switch, and turn back to the bed intent on finding what the dog has left you. You push the cover back slowly, wondering how bad the mess is going to be, only to find the leftover bits of a piece of pumpkin pie that the dog has stolen from the trash and carefully buried in the bed for later use.
Friday, November 17, 2006
She Still Loves Me
More Shatnerian goodness coming later this evening. First, though, I have to go pet a dog and smooch a girl.
William Shatner Appreciation Day: The Horror
Of course, what is Shatner without the horrific music. His rendering of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is, as Wheels points out, a musical abomination.
But does it compare to his live take on Elton John’s “Rocket Man”?
Notable not only for it’s own badness, but also for one of Stewie’s many brilliant moments on Family Guy.
Cause he’s a rock-it man…
William Shatner Appreciation Day: Best Twilight Zone Ever?
Unless it was “Time Enough At Last”.
William Shatner Appreciation Day: It Begins
Here’s something funny: I’m not a big Star Trek fan and I never have been. The first show wasn’t bad (well, actually, in many ways it wasn’t particularly good, but more about that later), but I never found any of the later shows worth my time. But I always liked William Shatner.
You could talk about his ego or how the other cast members didn’t like him, you could mock his choppy delivery, or you could just be amazed at the strange women that he found himself lip-locked with in show after show, but I liked the guy. I liked him in a sort of clownish way when I was young; my true appreciation for Shatner came on my much later in life.
It came when I realized that he was a unique figure in entertainment: he was an actor who inspired decades worth of jokes about his melodramatic, choppy line readings; he wasn’t always well-liked by his fellow actors; and, yet, he was the guy who had a long career through multiple TV shows and who will remain part of our cultural lexicon (admittedly, often on the wrong end of the joke) well beyond my years. He isn’t one of those marginal actors who maintains a low-level career doing direct-to-video movies (like the Cories), he’s stayed frequently in the spotlight, loved by masses even as they mock his worst moments.
It doesn’t hurt that he seems to have discovered himself late in life. He knew that he was part of the joke, and he found a way to laugh along and make us like him even more. He knew that he ego was bigger than his talent, so he found a way to make that awareness part of the act. Whatever he is like in person, his TV persona is warm and funny and self-deprecating. He’s a hard guy to dislike when he’s talking about the ways that Star Trek changed the world, but doing it with a sly smile and a boyish glint in his aging eyes.
So, here’s to William Shatner, object of both our admiration and our laughter. He has entertained us for decades and, rightly, earned his place in Hollywood.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Announcing Shatner Appreciation Day
Late tonight, when it’s actually early tomorrow morning, I’m going to kick off William Shatner Appreciation Day. All of my posts tomorrow will be Shatner-oriented in honor of his
You can join in one of three ways:
1- Send ideas for posts. While I have a pretty high level of Shatner Appreciation of my own, I know that there are good ideas out there just waiting to be mined. Send pictures, articles, thoughts, and melodramatic quotes.
2- Post your own Shatnerian Appreciation and let me know about it. I’ll link you up as you help to spread the good word of Shatner.
3- Drop by and comment. Shatner doesn’t exist in a vacuum, you know; he needs our love and appreciation.
I do believe in Shatner! I do! I do!
(Which, no, I’m not calling Shatner a fairy. In case you were wondering.)
Speaking of Man on Goat Loving (Because, if You Go Back in the Recent Comments, We Were, You Know)
I’m not completely sure that having sex with dead animals should be illegal, but I do know that the guy who has the urge to have sex with carcasses is sick and needs some treatment. There is nothing normal or well-adjusted about wanting to sexually gratify yourself with anything that is dead.
There is something very wrong in this guy’s head.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
More Fragmented Thoughts from My Splintered Mind
Here’s an article that ranks the Broncos’ non-hiring of Terrell Owens as the number one good non-move of the offseason.
Just because something isn’t illegal doesn’t make it right. OJ Simpson’s upcoming book, If I Did It, is disgusting enough as it is; who hasn’t come to expect this kind of demented publicity-mongering from the former football player? I can only hope that some of the proceeds go to pay the millions of dollars that he owes from the wrongful death lawsuit.
What bugs me most about this story is the publisher’s remark.
What kind of profit motive would encourage me to give a man like OJ Simpson a platform from which he could discuss the details of the murder? If she truly believes that this is OJ’s confession, how can she feel like anything other than a pimp for a murderer?
In a sense, it would seem that OJ got away with the perfect murder. He killed and got away with it, he still has some strange celebrity, and he can now, according to the article, talk about the murder all he wants with no fear of repercussions.
The publisher should be ashamed; OJ is obviously well beyond any messages his conscience might be trying to send.
What should we get him?
I’m extra-special happy when it comes in a way designed to make the Jayhawks look sort of bad. Like, for example, when they lose to Oral Roberts University.
I feel sort of guilty about this since my dislike of the Jayhawks is directly related to a difficult relationship. I can’t help it, though. The feeling comes straight from the gut.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Speaking of the Zune (Because, I"m Serious This Time, We Were, You Know)
I’m betting that this will not be the normal user experience with the Zune software, but it makes a darned funny read.
Three things: “Welcome to the Social.” I hate that. I mean, I guess you could make the case that they are welcoming you to the event (as in, “ice cream social"), but it’s awkward and ugly. And where did the name Zune come from, anyway? That is also awkward and ugly. The brown bit doesn’t bother me because I’m guessing most people will be happier with the black and white version, although I do wonder when brown became the new color for electronic gadgets. Lastly, I’ve heard that the Zune doesn’t act as a removable drive--what would be the driver for that decision? I use my Nano to shuttle big files to and from work constantly. I mean, I bought it to play music, so that’s the most important thing, but the Nano is also a practical way for me to take important files with me. If Zune doesn’t work that way, I’d love to know why.
So, yeah, angry Zune enthusiasts, please don’t burn down my house. I’m not saying I hate the Zune or that it’s a horrible thing or that Microsoft is evil. I think that the direction MS is heading makes Zune the first true competitor to the iPod and with Microsoft’s money and industry pull, that competition is going to be fierce.
But Brown, “Zune”, and “Welcome to the Social” are still a little confusing to me.
Now, pardon me while I rearrange the workout list on my Nano. Maybe a little “Want You So Hard” by Eagles of Death Metal. Just a thought…
I Gotcher Repository for Stolen Music Right Here, Pal
That is to say, Mr. Morris, that you are wrong. Take me for example: I buy CDs, I buy from iTunes, and I have my monthly downloading fest from eMusic. Anything on my Shuffle, my Nano, or my SLVR that wasn’t purchased is about 90% likely to be a live track from a bootleg--and, no, I’m not feeling so guilty about that.
I pay for music and the people that I know pay for music. Stop insulting the people who pay your bloated salary, Mr. Morris, and stop blaming recent industry setbacks on consumers instead of bad product management on your part. The music industry is still changing to fit the varied needs of people who are buying fewer and fewer CDs because they can fill their musical needs through online services. There are still people like me who believe that CDs sound better than the downloads and people who believe that records sound warmer and more pure than CDs, but the movement is toward digital distribution that is always on, ultimately should have a wider selection than any store imaginable, is cost effective, and doesn’t always require the purchase of an entire CD for the one song the listener actually wants to hear.
It’s no wonder that convenience is winning the war, but a smart media companies can make greater profits serving the widest possible market from large catalogs and low overhead in digital distribution. When the market changes and old companies fail to keep up with those changes, it is hardly the consumers’ fault when revenue drops.
I find it shocking that Microsoft will be paying about $1 per Zune sold to Universal Music Group--a company that stands to profit from another venue for legal purchases through Zune’s own music site. What, precisely, did UMG contribute to the little electronic device?
Anyway, thanks to Jerry for pointing me to the original post about Doug Morris’ poorly chosen words.
© 2005 by the authors of ResurrectionSong. All rights reserved.
Powered by ExpressionEngine