October 17, 2003

It is becoming increasingly clear that the American track and field program is as dirty as the East German women's swim team used to be. What is even more pathetic is how mediocre we are in track events: looking back on the '72 team, which was thought at the time to be a huge disappointment, what with Ryun and Pre getting shut out and two of our best sprinters not showing up for their prelims, the U.S. was still competitive in just about every running event. Today, the only events Americans have a prayer of winning are the sprints, and even then it's a battle just to win a medal.

In the end, this scandal is going to spread far beyond the U.S. track team....
Two new ballot initiatives to look forward to on the March ballot: an attempt to revoke the law permitting illegal immigrants from qualifying for drivers licenses, and a petition to revoke the LA ordinance banning lap dancing. And by the way, those of you who want to see some candid snaps of yours truly, check out this one, taken at my b-day party two weeks ago.

October 16, 2003

This probably won't shock anyone, but a lab in the Bay Area has been busted for distributing a designer version of anabolic steroids, THG, to an unknown number of American athletes. For what it's worth, the lab is run by one Victor Conte, who is the "nutritionist" for Barry Bonds, among others. Those athletes who've been caught using THG will be suspended for up to two years, making them ineligible for the 2004 Athens Games.
L.A.'s paper of record has some well-chosen words of praise for a blogger of renown:
Tonypierce.com, one of the most popular L.A. blogs among other bloggers, would seem to be written by a fictional character, but it is not. Tony Pierce, a Hollywood resident who works for a television station, calls it his busblog, though it began as a bus commuter's record of travails.

Then women started e-mailing him, so he claims, and the travails improved.

"What I think people really like on my site are my stories about picking up chicks," Pierce said. "People have this image of L.A. as a place where if you don't drive a Mercedes and aren't super good-looking and rich, you won't get any chicks. They love to hear about a guy who takes the bus to work who still gets a lot of chicks."

In fact, Pierce writes long screeds on the historical misfortunes of the Chicago Cubs far more often than he does tales of seduction, which, when they do arrive, have a kind of lovesick charm to them. He writes about L.A., sometimes adoringly, sometimes scathingly, sometimes both.
But would it have killed the Times to actually link to the Great Man's site?
YUCK !! After defeating their pretend-rival, the Boston Red Sox, for the umpteenth consecutive time (the BoSox have not won a game that mattered against the Yankees since 1904), we are now left with the World Series that absolutely no one outside the metropolitan area of either city wanted to see. Yanks in five, but who cares. The football season just started in earnest.
As in Vietnam, the complaint by hawks has been that the media exaggerates the bad news in Iraq, while ignoring positive developments: schools being built, guerrillas being routed, hearts and minds being won. This has the effect of compelling journalists to report stories more in line with government propaganda, until reality rears its ugly head.

It will be hard for the Administration to spin this story. According to the Pentagon, thirteen soldiers have committed suicide since engagements started back in March, or more than ten percent of the non-combat related fatalities among U.S. troops. Half of the soldiers polled by that notorious leftist broadsheet, Stars and Stripes, describe their unit's morale as "low" or "very low", and almost half said that they did not intend to reenlist once their hitch expires.

The Rumsfeld P.R. offensive has triggered negative reaction amongst the grunts as well ("a dog and pony show"), an opinion seemingly borne out by the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, who "told reporters he was personally worried that when he and other top officers visited troops, they were only allowed to talk to 'all the happy folks.' 'I want to see the folks that have complaints. And sometimes they won't let them near me,' Myers said when pressed about the Stars and Stripes newspaper survey...." Soldiers who took part in the survey expressed concern that statements of complaint had triggerred punishment in the form of "Article 15"s, which could lead to the loss of pay, reprimands, and extra work duties.
One thing I love about reading English newspapers is their occasional coverage of American sports. They make everything seem so high-brow...check out this column on Bartmangate:
Late on the evening of Tuesday 14 October in this the 95th year of the suffering of the Chicago Cubs, Steve Bartman did what any baseball fan does when the ball comes his way during the game.

He tried to catch it. By doing so, he has turned himself, in the Cub part of the Windy City at least, into a villain beside whom even the likes of Saddam Hussein pale.

Mr Bartman has not invaded other countries or murdered anyone, but, for fellow Cubs, devotees his crime is infinitely more serious.

By raising his hand when he did, he possibly cost their beloved but benighted team the chance of winning its first World Series since 1908.
It reminds me of a line a sportswriter in the Times of London came up with before England was to take on West Germany in the 1966 World Cup Final: "if on the morrow we shall lose to Germany in our national sport, let us remember that we vanquished them twice this century in theirs."
Sportsblogging should be left to people who know what they're talking about. I predict that Steve Bartman will become a beloved figure to the people of Chicago right around the time that Donnie Moore gets a high school named after him in Anaheim. Having been in the same position that Cub fans are now in back in 1986, I can testify that a loss like this haunts fans til the day they die, and can only be alleviated, in time, with a championship. Moore eventually went mad from the hostility he received from fans and reporters after Game 5, even though any sane person realized he was pitching with a wounded limb and shouldn't have been out there in the first place. Bartman was doing what fans do at baseball games (he wasn't the only one going for the ball), and the Cubs collapse was aggravated by a misplay on a double-play grounder later in the inning, but he would need to be a stronger man than I to continue to live anywhere near that city.

October 15, 2003

The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight: After countless hours and taxpayer funds were spent trying to prevent the Kobe Defense Team from receiving info about the alleged victim's previous hospital stays, the prosecution now has to ask the court to get the records of said visits that they accidentally mailed to the defense team.

October 14, 2003

Dusty Baker is 27 outs from becoming the black Gene Mauch.

The place where the Oscar-nominated writer and "screener"- fetishist collector "takes some hits" can be found, below, in the Ahnold Ziffel Update on October 9. Blogger has trouble with archiving links, surprise, surprise.

LA Times editor John Carroll defends the Times coverage of Gropergate (reminding us, again, that the argument that most of the sixteen women who came forward were "anonymous" is the highest degree of bullshit). Conservative columnist Jill Stewart has a weak response, repeating old gossip about Gray Davis, using an anonymous (natch) source to claim that Mr. Carroll is obsessed with Ahnold, and reporting the gripes of an author of a Clinton-bashing bromide that he wasn't used as a source in the Times article.

October 13, 2003

Eventful week for yours truly. Went and saw Annette Summersett Thursday night with her new band at the Universal Bar and Grill; even for a Yooper, she is truly as talented as she is gorgeous. On Friday, I made a rare appearance at Joxers to watch the Cubs and Michigan pull out miracle wins.

Saturday I watched sports all day, then went to a veritable "blogapalooza" in Laurel Canyon. Everyone who counts in the SoCal blog scene made it, and the wine and pizza lasted forever, thanks to our host, Brian Linse. I even got to introduce myself to Mickey Kaus, who was gracious enough to tell me where the bathroom was (btw, most bloggers don't live in their mom's basement--that's an outdated stereotype). "Armed Liberal" was there, and he was surprisingly a) nice, and b) unarmed. And I got to converse with Kevin Drum, aka CalPundit, about the joys of being owned by cats.

And, of course, the Arvin Sloane of the blogosphere showed up, ominously informing me that the Recall, the possible Cubs-Bosox World Series, and the first Corvids gig next Saturday were just "Part I" of his master plan for world dominance; he's always just one step ahead of the rest of us. The night was marred only by Howard Owens' unwise decision to remove his clothes and start yelling into the night, "RECALL THIS !!" (for a candid photo of yours truly, check out the photo of "Emmanuel" and "Kate"; I'm in the background trying not to fall over. And a more sober account of the festivities can be found here, for those who actually want to know what went on).

Frank Rich, on Ahnold Ziffel:
Mr. Schwarzenegger's credo was laid out quite specifically in his autobiography, "Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder": "A certain amount of people are meant to be in control. Ninety-five percent of the people have to be told what to do, have to be given orders."

This philosophy, which he has repeated elsewhere and never retracted, sums up his politics far more than conventional conservative-vs.-liberal, Republican-vs.-Democrat paradigms. The budget deficit? Failing public schools? Mr. Schwarzenegger will make things right by terminating the malefactors from on high; let the other 95 percent of "the people" get out of the way. What was the plan? "Hasta la vista, car tax!" Such know-nothingness is not Nazism; it's too idea-free even to qualify as fascism-lite.
And for those of you who were hoping that the election last Tuesday would bring an end to the scandals, here's a story about how the Schwarzenegger campaign, either deliberately or recklessly, made a false criminal accusation about one of the women who had accused him, and how local AM and internet scumbags repeated the slur.[link via Mark A. Kleiman]