July 04, 2003

Her legion of devoted fans will no doubt be overjoyed at this news: English character actress Phoebe Nicholls will be returning to American TV screens later this year, in Prime Suspect 6. Phoe-Nix and Helen Mirren, together at last: what a time to be alive !!!

Some thoughts on the 4th:
... Independence Day was designed by the first state propaganda agency, Woodrow Wilson's Committee on Public Information (CPI), created during World War I to whip a pacifist country into anti-German frenzy and, incidentally, to beat down the threat of labor....
-Noam Chomsky

July 03, 2003

After a six hour drive, I can now begin a long weekend in the Bay Area. The holiday is tomorrow, and my sister's baby shower is the day after. Other then that, the weekend is open....

July 02, 2003

As matters stand entering tonight's action, the Dodgers are 4 1/2 games behind in the NL West, and a game and a half back in the wild card, but you could hardly tell that if you live here. The contempt for the team locally is almost palpable, especially after getting swept by the Angels last weekend, scoring only two runs in the process. The Dodgers not only reek in comparison with the defending champions, but also their hated rivals from the north, the Giants, and this year's media darling, the Oakland A's.

The team has remained in contention entirely because of its formidable pitching staff; if Gagne, Perez, and Nomo were to pull up lame, the Dodgers would be as bad as the Padres. Outside of LoDuca (and maybe Jordan, who's now on the DL), the everyday lineup is atrocious, while former scapegoat Gary Sheffield compiles MVP numbers in Atlanta.

The problem starts at the front office. News Corp. originally purchased the Dodgers for all the wrong reasons, but principally to corner the local sports cable TV market. It succeeded, but Rupert the Mad has done little, if anything, to correct the atrophy that began in the front office with the death of Walter O'Malley in 1979. The team took pride in the fact that its players played baseball "the Dodger way", but failed to take account of the changing nature of the sport.

Dan Evans, therefore, is merely the latest in a series of incompetent general managers, going back to the 1980's. It started during the tenure of Al Campanis, who, for all the controversy later associated with his name, actually provided the tools for the long-term growth of the team in the '70's. However, beginning in 1982, he made a series of colossally stupid trades (Sutcliffe for Orta, Dave Stewart for Rick Hunnycutt, Sid Fernandez for Bob Bailor), and had he not put his foot in his mouth on Nightline in April, 1987 (Quickie Trivia: Name the other historic sporting event held that same night--winner gets the usual night on the town, compliments of me), he would have been fired in a year or two anyway. Fred Claire did make a couple decent moves to help the team win the '88 Series, and he pretty much forced Lasorda to play the products of the farm system after the '92 season, but otherwise failed spectacularly, and his tenure will forever be linked to the Piazza trade (which, ironically, he didn't have anything to do with). Kevin Malone actually seemed to know what he was doing, rebuilding the farm system, trading for Shawn Green, and sending a message to the rest of the baseball by signing Kevin Brown, but never survived his boast about being the "new sheriff in town", and ultimately was bullied out of town by the local media.

Now it's Dan Evans' turn. One would be hard-pressed to find a sensible trade or personnel move since he took over. Although he's only been in charge for two years, he has the misfortune of being the exact opposite of Billy Beane the same year MoneyBall gets published. Beane is famous for signing players almost exclusively based on their ability to get on base; the Dodgers don't seem to know what OBP means. Beane makes a virtue out of necessity by ignoring the conventional wisdom, and drafting players according to their potential to do some very elementary things, like draw walks; the Dodgers draft high school pitchers in the first round. The A's value their farm system; the Dodgers use it to acquire Terry Mulholland at mid-season for the pennant drive.

As a fan of the team for what is now going on thirty-two years, I would almost be relieved if they were to fall out of contention in the next few weeks. At the very least, it would speed up the time table for Fox to sell the club. But most importantly, it would alleviate any pressure on Dan Evans to make a quick-fix trade. Better just to wait til the end of the season to blow the whole dang thing up.

July 01, 2003

Thanks to the oft-overruled progressive Ninth Circuit, it looks like I can update my blogroll, as this post is no longer operative.
As long as we're talking about bigots, check out this diatribe. If I were a Palestinian, and I thought that most Israelis shared this writer's racist sentiments, I would join Hamas tomorrow. Non-violent political action is worthwhile only if the other side is willing to acknowledge your humanity. [link via Michael Totten]
The reviews are in: NaziPundit's latest screed is, shall we say, a little short in the fact department. Incidentally, a thought experiment for those who believe that the above nickname is unfair: simply replace the word "liberal" (or any variation of same) with the word "Jew", and don't tell me that the quoted passages don't read like something out of Mein Kampf.

June 29, 2003

Although I have supported, and will continue to support, his inevitable promotion to the Supreme Court, I have to say that Prof. Volokh uses a very imperfect analogy in defending Clarence Thomas against the attack that he has used race to get to where he is, only to "pull up the ladder" once he got there. The issue isn't whether Thomas' opposition to affirmative action is based on principle, on how he reads the Constitution. While contrasting that stand with his personal history (I think it's safe to say that he was not the most qualified person for nomination to the high court back in 1991) is amusing, it's no more so than noting Hugo Black's membership in the KKK in light of his subsequent liberalism on civil rights. One can argue that it is a sign of growth that someone can look at the advantages one has received and question their fairness. In any event, as far as I can tell no one is demanding that he vote to preserve affirmative action solely because he has benefitted from it.

What is at issue with Justice Thomas is his recurring use of race (and racism) to defend himself. He can't have it both ways: denouncing affirmative action as little more than "racial aesthetics", while making semi-annual pronouncements of his victimization for not "toeing the line" on the lib'ral civil rights agenda, is going to piss a lot of people off. I, for one, will start taking his opinions as seriously as I take Scalia's the moment he cans the self-pity.

And he apologizes to Anita Hill.

Jesse Taylor of Pandagon has happened accross a blog posting that may well challenge Andrew Sullivan's infamous attempt to parody a Maureen Down column as the dumbest thing ever published over the Internet. George Santayana was right.