June 18, 2004

Nonsense on Parade!

Today's Musical Selection: "Heart and Soul" by T'Pau

Hello, everyone! It's a beastly hot day in the Fedroplex (heat index in the vicinity of 100, I'm told) and I'm currently erecting a shrine to Willis Carrier (father of air conditioning, don'tchaknow?) and sipping a cool Pepsi. A lot of this and that to get to today, so let's get to it.

Kudos to my man Frinklin for stealing my planned title for today. The Brewers dropped yesterday's game against the Mariners, leaving us shy of a sweep. Get-away day's been killing us all year. I'm happy with the series, though, and glad to discover that Frinklin shares my fascination with the Pilots.

Ball Four is my favorite baseball book, too. If anyone gave me an autographed copy of the book as a Valentine's Day present, I'd marry her immediately. Joe "Pound That Budweiser" Schultz is my kind of manager. I'm sure Frinklin's seen this aready, but fellow Pilot-o-philes will find a treasure trove of information here. The proprietors of this site are (or have been) trying to arrange a Pilots-Mariners old-timers' game; to help with the cause, click here.

So, Frinklin, how do you feel about The Blues Brothers? If it's your favorite movie, then you truly are the lost brother I never knew I had.

So the 9/11 commission says that Saddam and Al Qaeda were not conspiring to attack the US, and President Bush says, "Well, uh, that's what I meant!" He put it in a typically stubborn formulation: "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda: because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda." Well, if the commission's report is to be believed, claiming a "relationship" between Iraq and Al Qaeda is like claiming a "relationship" between me and Cindy Crawford because I called her repeatedly to beg for a date. (Or claiming a "relationship" between loyal reader Tripp and Britney Spears because he's been stalking her.)

Look, I didn't support the idea of going to war with Iraq, but I don't believe it was some sinister conspiracy cooked up by the administration to enrich Halliburton and friends. I believe that President Bush sincerely felt we faced a risk. I would, however, feel better about giving him the benefit of the doubt if he would stop insisting that he was never wrong about anything. Even a simple admission that the facts on the ground aren't quite what he thought they were would do. But he's so insistent on looking "strong and decisive" that he'll insist day is night if he has to. That bothers me a lot.

I also found the Post's "Cheney in Charge" account of 9/11 interesting. I don't think the administration should be faulted for this; after all, I think the "What to Do When Terrorist Madmen Start Flying Planes into National Landmarks" is a fairly recent addition to the Presidential Action Handbook. I just found it amusing because it called to mind Alexander Haig's "I'm in charge here" declaration after the assassination attempt on President Reagan. My dad later told me that he'd never feared more for the future of the nation than when Haig made that statement. I can understand his feeling.

Here's an article that caught my eye last night as I was gobbling down Advil: a piece in Slate about why fans don't seem sympathetic to athletes' injuries any more. Now, I'm pretty intensely sympathetic to athletic injuries, given the number of them that I suffer, so I was interested to see what this article had to say. In the end, though, it boiled down to: athletes make gobs more money nowadays, and it's hard to feel sorry for Daddy Warbucks. File that under "Duhhhhh." I can't believe someone actually got paid to write something so obvious. Articles like that make me think I'm in the wrong line of work.

Here's at least one other theory that might be worth exploring, for those who want to transcend the obvious. For most fans, sports are mostly something you watch on TV. It's an entertainment option, just like "Fear Factor" and Bill O'Reilly, only less painful to watch. Perhaps people get used to seeing their entertainment out there, come what may. I mean, Seinfeld never went on the 15-day DL with strained vocal cords. Maybe the current generation of sports fans has become sufficiently divorced from what's actually happening that they forget that sports, especially at a high level, involves a staggering amount of physical pain. I know it looks innocuous enough on TV, but it's not. Any takers for my theory?

Speaking of sports, is there any sports story today more tiresome than the public histrionics of Marion Jones over the allegations that she's been doping? I haven't cared about the Olympics since Calgary, but really, neither side has distinguished itself. The anti-doping police and their secretive I-don't-need-to-offer-you-evidence posture is enough to make you wary. But Jones' media hissy fit isn't doing her any favors. Even if she is guilty of nothing more than bad taste in men (her ex-boyfriend and current boyfriend, both Olympic athletes, were nailed for doping violations), carrying on the way she is won't help her case. There's an old lawyer's truism: "When the law is against you, pound the evidence. When the evidence is against you, pound the law. When they're both against you, pound the table." Methinks Marion doth protest too much.

Powerful, must-read article over at American Street on the "forgotten casualties" of war, the soldier who come back alive, but emotionally and psychologically scarred. It's hardly a new phenomenon; we heard plenty of these stories out of Vietnam, and similar portraits stretch back at least as far as World War I, in Hemingway and the Septimus Warren Smith character in Mrs. Dalloway. But this article is a sobering reminder that death and physical injury aren't the only ways you can get hurt in war. This is traditionally why we've only gone to war reluctantly, in the face of an imminent threat.

And with that, time to start rolling downhill to the weekend. See you Monday!

Posted by Fred at June 18, 2004 04:32 PM
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