I've set up a multi-author social blog to be used by my part-time blogger friends who don't want one of their own. Send me a note if you'd like to be able to write on For Consideration

Friday, June 30, 2006

All Things Zebster: Boston Sports Update

All Things Zebster: Boston Sports Update
So I've made the decision to have Inside Zebster be my politics and social blog only. I may occasionally post pop culture and sports stuff that's truly socially related but other than that the lighter stuff will now be at All Things Zebster.
After wasting a few hours trying to get Word Press to work for me, I've created my sports and everything else but politics blog here on Blogger.
Give me some time to play with it, but come and see what's going on.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


You've certainly heard the Bush Administration's response regarding the NY Times "revealing" the financial database tool they were using. One example, by President Bush, "There can be no excuse for anyone entrusted with vital intelligence to leak it — and no excuse for any newspaper to print it." (Unless your name is Karl Rove)

I would encourage people to read the Original article as well as Bill Keller's Response I have my opinions on this issue, which I will mention briefly, but the reason for this post is that I think it's important for people to understand the reasons used by the Times in deciding to publish that information. Then if you still feel they were wrong, that's least it's an informed decision. And make no mistake, I agree with Mr. Keller that it was an extremely difficult decision to make for very obvious reasons.

My take in watered down form, as I changed my mind from writing this solely as an emotional, fact-based piece to a plea for people to be informed. This administration does not believe in the Fourth Estate as part of the oversight of government (I think they barely believe in the Second Estate, when you examine the measures taken to weaken congressional power and strengthen presidential power). The Fourth Estate is the eyes and mouth of the people; and in this time where we have a very secretive administration, a congress that's been unable and unwilling to stand up for us, who do we then rely on for oversight, information and most importantly a counter-balance? The toothless, ineffective, follow-the-breeze Democrats? Negative. The Republicans who hold a majority in both houses of congress? No reply necessary. The Bush Administration themselves? Just look at the abusive use of signing statements for your answer.

The Administration's premise regarding its position on this issue is a good one, but this program is not and has not been a secret. In the NYT todayThe President on several occasions has referred to it. Swift has taken no measures to keep it a secret, quite the opposite. And when you have an administration who leaks secret information when it suits them (see Karl Rove vis a vis Valerie Plame), they have no leg to stand on, except the leg of fear-based patriotism.

You should also refresh your memory regarding the NY Times reporting of the Clinton Administration before you rally around the liberal media flag, as well as the fact that many people in this country feel the "liberal" press and the NY Times generally did not do their job of oversight for many months after 9/11. We'll call it the 9/11 honeymoon. This was certainly not a liberal press that questioned every move of a conservative government.

Given the constant string of mistakes, miscalculations, secrets, arrogance, lack of planning, ineptitude, deceptions and deceipts, I for one am thankful to know that someone is paying attention and willing to make difficult decisions that are intentioned in our best interest.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What do you think?

I had this long blog prepared regarding the NY Times issue but it needs more editing. So I'll turn to something much lighter today.
Part of me feels as though I need to start another blog for personal diary, sports, pop culture, as Inside Zebster has become about politics and social issues...things that I'm obviously passionate about but I don't want to write just about those things. Do you who read regularly read because of the variety or more the social stuff? Would this blog suffer without the variety or, conversely, would the folks who are interested in what I have to say from a social standpoint be turned off if I'm blogging about my daughter's wisdom teeth, sports from a nonsocial standpoint or the job search? In essence, I'm trying to make it a professional blog and, therefore, am probably answering my own question. But honestly, that variety was what I had in mind for Inside Zebster. So please pipe in.

Enjoyable political comedy night last night with Helen Thomas on the Daily Show and Chris Matthews on the Colbert Report. Count me among the legions who find these shows very entertaining, especially the Colbert Report's originality. No, I don't get my information from these shows, though at times their odd perspective on a subject can be somewhat enlightening. Steve Colbert is afraid of Helen Thomas. So at the end of the Daily Show where they "introduce" the Colbert Report, Steve asks John who is guest was. "...Helen Thomas." And Colbert looks panicked and they replay part of a previous skit where she's stalking Colbert. Hysterical. If you've never seen the Colbert Report, try this website and watch The Word. The Colbert Report

And I rarely miss Hardball because I like Chris Matthews. I think he's fair, holds Democrats to a much higher standard than most Democrats, informed and tough. So seeing him taking on neo-con Colbert was pretty funny. Your take on these three shows?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What's in it for Indies?

Obviously that will depend on who you ask, and therein lies the rub for Independent organizers. Indies are disenfranchised Republicans who are dissatisfied with the economic, or lack thereof, control of the current administration, and who are not dead-set on always voting far-right "moral" issues at the expense of policy.
They are disgruntled far-right Republicans who feel this administration used them to get elected and have now seen, until recently, their issues ignored. Most of these folks will return to the Republicans leading up to the election because the Carl Roves of the world know their vote can be bought by promising moral compass changes they can't deliver.
They are liberal Democrats who recognize the Democratic party has no leadership, no viable Presidential candidates, no moral compass strong enough to support the issues they feel most strongly about.
Insert other narrow factions as you please.
Then probably the largest group are those moderate liberals (me) and moderate conservaties who largely have never wanted to be a member of a party...pure free thinkers who are allergic to cheese. Centrists they are called by many, though that's a misnomer because they all lean one way or another; and that can change depending on the issue.

I dare say they are all joined regarding the war in Iraq; but unfortunately for those who want a third party, they are upset about the war for varying reasons. Lack of planning, lack of exit strategy, anti-war, anti-nation building, feel misled...insert your own reason here. But the point is: The spectrum of these reasons run from far left all the way across to the far right. A large group of these indies are, thus, swing voters and can be brought back into the fold of the left or right with the right piece of cheese.

They are all of these groups together when it comes to political reform, a desire to at least drastically lessen the stranglehold of special interest groups on their governmental processes. But from this disparate group can a third party be formed? There is certainly an opportunity now that wasn't taken full advantage of in 1992. But many, perhaps most, don't want a third party. They are true independents who worry a third party will eventually, maybe sooner than later, have the same trappings of the other two, just trapped in a different place.

A third party can satisfy the concerns of many of these folks but whether that party has any real power would remain to be seen.

Consequently, this is what independents want in my humble opinion: They want an organization, a means, through which real reform can happen, even a viable third option on occasion; but without any allegiances. Is that possible, is that viable, is it even logical for them, us, to want?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Barbara Merrill, Independent for Governor of Maine

I intend to use this blog as a tool in deciding whether I want to support Ms. Merrill's run for the Blaine House.
Based on her bio on "" her political experience includes her work as an attorney representing nonprofit organizations and businesses before the State Legislature. A quote by her reflecting that experience, "The growing fiscal irresponsibility of state government, the increased partisanship and the destructive synergy between them" is very much in keeping with this writer's feelings expressed in "A Representative Government" just last week. In 2004 she ran for the State Legislature as a Democrat in a mostly-Republican district, taking 60% of the vote.
As an attorney she was honored by the Bar Association for her pro bono work. Reflective of the work ethic of the people of Maine, she quips, "If I was a little better gardener, I might never have found myself up to my elbows in state government. At least if you garden in Maine, you learn how to deal with adversity."
A very intriguing quote from her candidacy announcement at the Charles Butler Army Reserve Center (named in honor of her father who was killed in Viet Nam), "We need leaders with the courage to trust the voters with the whole truth and we need leaders with the courage to offer a new independent Maine vision." From that very same announcement in regard to the gender factor and that no woman independent has ever been elected in any state, "As Maine's first woman Governor I will be held to a higher standard and I welcome it. Not as a fancy that I can be perfect, but as inspiration to seek the very best people to serve beside me without regard to party affiliation or whether their star may shine brighter than my own. I will set a higher standard not in the conceit that best and brightest will transform Maine, but in the humble understanding that if we can transform state government into a useful tool, Maine people will be enabled to do what needs to be done to secure a bright future for the state we all call home."
She has also penned a book entitled Setting the Maine Course, which can be downloaded from her website.
At first blush these are my thoughts on her candidacy: Having worked as a lobbyist sends up red flags in this day in age, though a more thorough analysis of the work she did as a lobbyist and her position on lobbying would be in order. Certainly having been a lobbyist does not disqualify someone from political office, but we want to ensure we elect someone who will represent the citizens of Maine first and foremost.
Can a woman successfully govern this state? I certainly see no reason why not. This really never should be an issue. The larger questions would more likely be: Can an independent governor succeed? Absolutely, this state has had two two-term independent governors. Would the people of Maine elect a woman governor? Based on the legacies of Margaret Chase Smith (this writer interned at the MCS Library) and Olympia Snowe, they certainly would.
Is her relative lack of experience a positive or negative? That would certainly depend upon your perspective. My position is that I would take fresh ideas, which this candidate seems to have plenty of, over someone with connections but no idea what to do any different than anyone else.
At first blush, based on her philosophy and approach to government, this is someone I could support. Obviously a look into her voting record and her views on more substantive legislative issues would be in order, something I plan to do in my next blog, as well as a review of her book.

On courtesy, kindness and respect

What is to blame for a society seemingly slipping rapidly toward total crassness...where being punked is entertainment, where the busiest websites are those that show people fighting, where somebody's need is always seen as brought on themselves and never your duty to help (unless it's your need), where kindess is a sign of weakness, where entertainment is videos in which women degrade themselves or it's peaking into the lives of others, where someone met is analyzed for their weaknesses to exploit versus their strength of character?
Whatever happened to smiling at strangers instead of glaring at them to make sure they understand you're not to be messed with? To those of you who try to be kind to everyone, you know what I'm talking about. How many times a day when you're walking down a sidewalk or an aisle in the grocery store do you make way for someone who makes no effort to do the same for you? How often do you get a wave of thanks for letting someone merge in front of you in traffic?
I'm not talking about the phoney yes, sir and yes, ma'am of the over-aggressive service industry. You know when someone is genuinely kind and respectful, especially in this day in age when it's become so rare.
Do we blame a society that's sole measure of success is the accumulation of wealth or is it that we no longer look inward to resolve problems but look outward to blame instead? There have always been mean kids at school but it seems more and more every day meanness is the rule instead of the exception.
Frankly, it's a parenting issue; and therefore, we can turn this around. We as parents and adults need to make sure our children understand what we really value. We value a society where people care about one another, where others walking on the sidewalk are potential friends, not the obstacles of an overly self-absorbed life; that we value a society in which people respect one another, rather than degrade or disrespect others for our amusement. We need to ensure that kindess is repaid with kindness, a genuine thank-you. Every person you interact with is a human being with real feelings. Doesn't it appear that everyone acts as though they're playing a video game in which they're the only human being in it?
So before we've slipped beyond any hope of return into a total instant gratification, self-absorbed society, start turning it around with an act of kindess. Help a friend, be courteous to a stranger and respect everyone. Better yet, go out of your way to help someone and see how great it makes you feel.

The true measure of a rich society is not the number of millionaires, it is the happiness and wellbeing of the whole.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Famous Quotes

Just a few quotes to make you think, as I endeavor to ensure I always think for myself and have something intelligent to say.
"The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry." William F. Buckley
"During the times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." George Orwell
"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." Thomas Jefferson
"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." Mark Twain
"Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security, will not have, nor do they deserve, either one." Benjamin Franklin
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." Galileo Galilei
"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress." "We have the best government that money can buy." Mark Twain
"Government is either organized benevolence or organized madness; its peculiar magnitude permits no shading." John Updike
"The whole country is one vast insane asylum and they're letting the worst patients run the place." Robert Welch
"A state that denies its citizens their basic rights becomes a danger to its neighbors as well: internal arbitrary rule will be reflected in arbitrary external relations. The suppression of public opinion, the abolition of public competition for power and its public exercise opens the way for the state power to arm itself in any way it sees fit. A state that does not hesitate to lie to its own people will not hesitate to lie to other states." Vaclav Havel

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Representative Government, Part II

The Hankster: NATIONAL: Independent voters need to demand full debate on the war and US foreign policy This post at The Hankster inspires me to finish what I started in my previous post,
I am an independent, moderate liberal. I generally don't trust Democrats or Republicans, and I'll explain my feelings on that. Both parties are beholding more and more every day to their individual special interests, and beholding more and more to the corporate dollar. So who do they answer to under these circumstances? It obviously isn't us. Both sides are out of touch, many of them rarely set foot in the districts that elected them (except when they're running for office); so that the only feedback they're getting is from each other, just like two football teams huddled opposite one another, getting ready to battle to win, not to represent us.
Half of all Democrats don't know what they stand for. Another high percentage of them know what they stand for but don't have the guts to stand up and fight for it. So yes, in many ways it's a party of flipfloppers, good intentions or not. Yes, there are those Democrats I don't agree with ideologically.
Half of all Republicans know what they stand for but don't believe in what they stand for...they're just being politically expedient; thus, in my opinion, the ever-increasing shift further right. Most of the rest I simply don't agree with ideologically and feel they're not open minded enough to ever think they could be wrong. Remember the old adage: There's your truth, my truth and the truth.
Both parties are out of touch with mainstream America. They've pushed each other further and further in opposite directions. They also seem more and more intent on telling the American public what the other half thinks and not taking the effort to understand how we all think. So I'll be supporting even more independents than usual. We have to show the two comfortable, entrenched, out-of-touch parties that they can't take our votes for granted any longer. We need politicians who are accountable to us, the citizens, and us only.
Also keep in mind that you should vote for the person who will represent you and your district the best, that Independents with a capital I can be no different than capital D's and R's. Please read a great article on being a true independent
So while I think now is the time for independents to seize the day, we must always be informed and vote for the best candidate for US.

A Representative Government

We all can make a difference, one person at a time, an increasingly louder drum beat of involved, informed citizens who demand again a representative government. Our elected officials will not change unless we make them change. We all have to get involved and stay involved...let them know we will no longer tolerate anything short of accountability.
What can you do? Most importantly we must be informed, informed regarding the issues and informed regarding how those we elect vote on those issues and why they vote the way they do. You can write editorials in your local newspaper; you can call politician's offices; you can even blog. But most importantly you must vote, and don't throw away your vote because you always vote for your party or your total source of information is through political ads. Be informed, be involved.
Let's get together, red and blue and purple, and have some civilized discourse regarding the issues. Politicians know if they can polarize us, they can conquer us. The left and right are much closer on most issues than they realize; but our elected officials have been successful in making us think the other side is crazy and irrational...that every Democrat believes in the radical left and every Republican believes in the radical right. Actually, the vast majority of us are moderates and centrists. So let's open the channels of communication amongst ourselves; let's cut out the middle man who's telling us what the other side thinks.
Did you know the reelection rate in this country hovers around 98%?! How is that possible? One reason is due to the shameless reorganizing and gerrymandering of districts so that in all but the most rural states each district is heavily red or heavily blue. Also, all the special interest money, be it corporate or social or what have you, knows that statistic and will put their money being the incumbent. Let's show them this fall what a waste of money that was; that the power of an informed citizenry is stronger than special interest money.
We are to blame for the current state of our government. We haven't been involved; we haven't been informed; we haven't demanded change; we've voted party lines over and over again regardless of the issues; we've listened to and believed the clever sound bites that roar from both sides of the aisle. Politicians, political parties and organizations, election experts all know how to feed on our fears, on our herd mentality, on our laziness and that we are a sound-bite, knee-jerk, rush-to-pick-sides public.
So look around at the scandalous activities on both sides of the aisle. It's a feeding frenzy of greed, ego and comfortability. I hope we're proud of ourselves...we allowed this to happen. And we will send a message loud and clear that we don't mind these activities, that in fact we support them if we don't get involved and do something about it.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tidbits and causes

Watching the World Cup match between the US and Ghana. The US is getting the shaft again. The referee called a penalty kick on a phantom penalty, which Ghana scored on to take a 2-1 lead, which is where we stand now in the 60th minute. Not sure why I'm watching, if you read my prior post on this topic Update: The US lost 2-1. A horrible call aside, this team in the future needs speed and confidence.
A great line by John Stewart on the Daily Show the other night, while interviewing Juliet Eilperin about her book Fight Club Politics, "The extremists run the country because moderates have shit to do." Look for an upcoming blog on what we all can do to combat this, especially us independents.
The red lily beetles are decimating my lilies again.
My youngest daughter had her wisdom teeth out this morning. Bring on the ice!
My eldest daughter starts her driving lesson in drivers ed today. Bring on the helmets!
My best friend, Shadow's (my cat who is now 17 years old) arthritic hip is getting worse and now his right eye doesn't change focus.
A plea to get involved in cervical cancer awareness. Anyone who has a daughter or wife or mother or sister can find good reason to get behind this. A note from my wife on the subject, "I just ordered mine. It is totally free, no shipping or anything! And the BEAD kit makes two bracelets! A unique bead design/logo too. Go to this link and order your free bracelet, it costs you nothing, but for every one that is ordered, Merck Pharmaceuticals donates $1 for cervical cancer research. It only takes a minute and is legit; the link sends you right to the Merck website. So even if you throw it away, Merck still pays $1 (look on the lower left hand side when you're on the site!- "order your free awareness bracelet")
Last but not least, I have an incredible nephew with autism. This is a condition in many ways we as a country have come a long way with, as compared to diagnosing every child as retarded or beyond help, etc. But there is always more that we can do. One organization that does plent is the May Institute. In fact, their website is featuring my nephew as an autism success story. To learn more, because awareness is power, or to get involved please visit their website.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Quagmire of a Conundrum

Are you like me...spitting mad, seeing red that we're stuck in Iraq with no sensible way out; that we were mislead, nay lied to, about the reasons that justified going? So now here we are, stuck there, watching our young men die for the administration's ego trip. We really can't'd be a bigger mess in very short order than it is right now. We've created an environment that were it not supervised by our troops would be an absolute haven for terrorists. See the Al Qaeda presence there now? Remember, Al Qaeda had virtually no presence, no presence of any significance in Iraq before we went nation building. But we went there to fight terrorism there instead of here. Yeah, George, that was helpful.
So those of us who were against going to Iraq (not Afghanistan) in the first place are left "hoping" for success in an endeavor that was wrong in so many ways. If there's any success in the end, then the ends will justify the means. This administration will go down as liberators. Doesn't that make you sick? Frankly though, the best we can hope for is that the Iraqi government will be stable enough to "manage" the insurgency on its own, keep the Iranians out and let us bring our boys home.
And I want to ring Carl Rove's neck for running his mouth about cutting and running, and now horrors of all horrors we've had two young American soldiers kidnapped by the insurgency, who then cut and run. And the Republicans are still using that very phrase today, the very day we learned about what happened to those young men. Much more to come on Rove soon; but aren't you disgusted with the smuggery of those who never served in the military questioning the courage of those who did, just because they have an opposing view, all the while supporting sending our sons into harm's way? (I spent 8 years in the Marines and have a stepson in the Army)
Just one independent's view.

The Whalers Win the Stanley Cup!

Well, actually the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup, but it's the same franchise. Don't you want to know how the hockey fans of Hartford feel about that? During the Cup presentation ceremony there was someone on the ice wearing a Whalers sweater.
Is there anything better in professional sports than a game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals? I personally don't think so. And with the rule changes implemented at the beginning of the season, this was a hockey product very much worth watching. It had all the intensity of any Stanley Cup Final, but it had the open ice skating and scoring opportunities sorely missing from the NHL in the last 10-15 years; but it retained its fierceness. You could feel the hits through your television.
In the end the Hurricanes outlasted the Edmonton Oilers 3 to 1. Coming in to game 7, after having watched game 6, you would have thought the way the two teams played in game 6 that this was going to be all Edmonton; but the goaltending of Conn Smythe winner Cam Ward and the fresh legs and speed of Eric Cole allowed Carolina to seize the momentum early and control the game throughout. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the X factor of the leadership of guys like Captain Rod Brind 'Amour and Glen Wesley, to name just a couple.
Other keys to the game: The early goal for Carolina by Defenseman Aaron Ward was another factor in allowing the Hurricanes to dictate the style of play. Cam Ward made two crucial saves on breakaways early in the second period as Edmonton was starting to seize control, even though they were a man down. A deflected goal by Frantisek Kaberle with 4:10 remaining of the 2nd period, giving Carolina a more comfortable two-goal lead. The play of Carolina's defense and Ward's goaltending during an Edmonton two-man advantage near the end of the second period, cut short by a hooking penalty by Ryan Smyth on Wesley. Fernando Pisani's goal early in the 3rd for Edmonton (his 14th of the playoffs) ensured this would be a nailbiter to the end, and Cam Ward stoned Pisani on a rebound attempt with four minutes left. The Hurricanes survived a 3rd period power play, Edmonton pulling the goalie with 1:30 remaining and salted it away on Justin Williams' empty-netter at 1:01.
There was a controversial no-goal and no penalty shot at the end of the first period, which seemed to be a goal in the end and perhaps should have been a penalty shot if not a goal. Thankfully in the end that controversy didn't taint the outcome.
Here's to the best tradition in professional sports, the handshake at the end of every playoff series, and congratulations to the Hurricanes players and fans. That was indeed time well spent watching.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Father's Day Weekend Review

Father's Day Girl Despite some very trying times lately in the fatherhood category, it's still great to be a dad, and stepdad. I received some very nice Father's Day cards and phone calls and messages, as well as a Happy Father's Day web cam chat with my stepson in the Army in Korea. (Don't spend all your money on the great deals in The Ville!) My youngest is having her wisdom teeth out this week...don't wanna take a chance on messing up those perfect teeth that just got the braces off. My eldest daughter called me from a boat in the middle of a lake somewhere. That was very nice. And thanks, Little Poot, I'm glad we're family too. Love ya all. The Mrs somehow contracted a very bad cold, and so I spent the weekend home watching sports. (meet the family,

I spent a good part of Sunday watching the US Open. Man, was that painful, especially if you're a Lefty fan like me. I really thought after that moronic decision to try to hit a fairway wood out of six inches of rough that luck was on his side -- well, luck was on his side, over and over and over again. But only Phil could take all that love from the New York crowd and all that karma and turn it into a Jean Van Der Velle moment. I was sitting there thinking that if Phil didn't win, it'd be nice to see Colin Montgomerie win; and when he hit that long putt on 17, it looked like things might go his way. Phil had just bogeyed 16 and Monty gets that birdie for a tie. All Montie has to do is par 18 and he puts all kind of pressure on Phil. Nope, double bogey city, after hitting his tee shot in the fairway, no less. Oh well, Aussie, Aussie, Aussie at the Open. Congratualations to Geoff Ogilvy. Happy Father's Day to a dad to be, soon. We were a hare's breadth from a four-way tie in this thing and an 18-hole playoff today. It would've been great theater, as the fourth round was; but I don't think my heart could take any more.

Although I didn't get to watch much of the three-game series between Boston and Atlanta (spent the evenings watching movies with the Poot), it was great to see the BoSox right the ship and sweep the Braves. As is always the case with the Red Sox, this will be a rollercoaster ride to the end.

Even though I was taping the Nascar race at Michigan, I was still surfing over to it during the US Open commercials. So although I haven't seen it all, I saw enough to see my boy Kasey Kahne win again. I'll never tire of seeing that red Dodge Ram logo in victory lane. I'm a Mopar man! That's four wins this season, all from the poll and all in the same car. Here's hoping that car lasts the season. It's too bad another strong run by the 43 didn't show up as a strong finish, but the way that car has run with Bobby Labonte behind the wheel makes me more optimistic than I've been in years. Now we just need to get Kyle Petty going.

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Give me a red card at the World Cup

Ghana upset the Czech Republic this morning. So that took some of the pressure off the US to win, but the score of the game was not the story of the game. The story was the refereeing, and no fan of any sport wants that to be the story.
Early on the United States was all over Italy, attacking the ball, controlling the midfield. They could have dominated the game even more early on were it not for a rash of careless passes deep in the Italy end. But then Giardino scores for Italy in the 21st minute because Eddie Pope was trying the offside trap instead of marking Giardino.
Shortly after, Zaccardo scores an own goal in the 26th minute, helping out the US cause. Italy's Derossi receives a red card for on an elbow hit to the face of Brian McBride shortly thereafter. (About the only red or yellow card worthy of being thrown in the whole match) But then Mastroenni recieves a questionable red card on a late tackle. Make-up call perhaps? So the US played with 10 from the 44th minute on.
From the beginning of the second half on the game became choppy and unwatchable. We have a saying in this country, "Just let them play." When referees think they're more important than the game, the game gets turned into something the opposite of smooth and beautiful to watch. Not only is it hard to watch because the referees interrupt the flow of play, but then the players feed off the ref's propensity to call fouls and start falling to the ground like trees at the axe of a lumberjack.
Eddie Pope two minutes into the 2nd half gets a second yellow card for a barely late tackle, which means a red card and the US is down to nine. Then another Italian player is taken off on a stretcher after having another player come down on the back of his heel off a tied head ball, which the ref calls another foul on.
What is this, figure skating?! I'm remembering what it is I don't like about this sport...fake falling, referees controlling matches. I can see where the game might be beautiful to watch were it not for that kind of nonsense.
I think I'll switch over to the 3rd round of the US Open. You know what's great about golf? Each man to himself against the course and no referees.
Of course, just as I'm getting ready to change channels, another Italian player lays on the ground while his team almost gives up a goal after getting a foot in the butt. These sissies need to try to play some real football. Here's hoping the US wins but I've had enough. This is why no one likes sister kissing!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Here's hoping he wraps a 7 iron around a tree

I'm over feeling sorry for Tiger Woods today. I'm taking perverse joy in watching him play like the rest of us who love golf but can't keep it in the fairway. We've seen Tiger get angry with himself on one hole on occasion, but today you can see he is consistently frustrated with himself. Come on, Tiger, wrap that 7 iron around a tree somewhere. This writer's friends have never let him forget the time he did much the same thing.
Well, he didn't wrap his 7 iron around a tree but did shoot another 6 over par (giggle). Will he make the cut? I guess it's going to be close but I'm willing to go out on a limb and say it won't matter; there's no way he's a threat to win no, even Tiger. But with the way Winged Foot is dominating the players, 12 over par might well be right on the line.
Now to Phil...2 over par after the first 2 holes. Come on, Lefty, this is yours to win, even this early. Claw back. After that putt on the 3rd hole that didn't look like it had a chance of getting close to the hole and then missed 3 inches right pin high, he knows what he's doing. So put it in the fairway. He's still the guy to beat in my opinion.
The one good thing about being unemployed is getting to watch the US Open. So I think I'll crack open a box of Cheeze-Its and sample Maine's own Sea Dog Blueberry Ale that I just picked up and relax.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Feeling sorry for Tiger

I've been rooting against Tiger Woods for years, though I have the highest regard for the man and his abilities. No one in all of sports has the nerves of steel, the focus and determination he has. But I'm a Phil Mickelson fan, always have been; and I'd rather not have to see Phil face off against Tiger when it really matters.
But this is hard to watch; I'm getting no joy out of his struggles today. This is the kind of day we non-Tiger fans have been hoping for for years, but not under these circumstances...the man is still grieving for his father, his best friend. I'm sure he'll say it had nothing to do with it; and given his past examples of focus, it will be hard to question him. But when this round is over, you know he'll have to answer question after question regarding how his father's recent death or the fact he hasn't played since effected his play today. (Currently 7 over par)

I fully expected Tiger would come out and play like the tiger he is; but after the first several holes, you could see he was struggling. Was he struggling just to prove he can handle this, and thus it's gotten in his head. Alas, he'll probably earn more fans after this, as people will see he's as human as everyone else.

Tiger pulled things together to an extent and finished 6 over par, 7 strokes behind Colin Montgomerie and 6 strokes behind the rest of the leaders. He says it's been done before and who can argue with him. Don't count him out yet. I hope he does better than today but I'm still pulling for Phil, who I think has everything together enough to take it. I wouldn't mind seeing Monty get it if Phil doesn't; and we haven't heard the last from David Howell either, though he double bogeyed the final hole to fall back to par.

AFI's 100 Most Inspirational Movies

What I watched last night instead of the Red Sox getting shelled.
Everytime I watch one of these AFI 100 countdowns I find the movie snob in me coming out. To self essentially "These are the movies the experts have chosen. So how many have you seen?" Then of course, I get into this stupid defensive battle with myself. "Well, I've seen more of these than the average movie goer who sees 10 times more movies than I do," comes the retort, since in the bottom 50 I've barely seen a third of them.
I am proud to say that as we get closer to the top my batting average continues to rise. It doesn't help keeping score though when your memory has become swiss cheese. "I thought I'd seen that but the highlights don't look familiar." For instance, Shane, though I still feel strongly that I did see it but so long ago I've forgotten most of it.
I obviously have some issues with what's on the list, particularly where. I know the list is called most inspirational (rather vague criteria) but a large part of the listing has to be based on the quality of the movie, not necessarily the number of tissues gone through. So Rocky being ahead of Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck snob) is ludicrous, as well as that Rocky and ET are even in the top 25 when Glory is 31st and Spartacus is 44th. I could rant on this issue forever but it's pointless and boring.
So even though this is not a list of the best movies ever, I am still proud to say (snob hat firmly centered) that I have seen 19 of the top 25. Maybe the snob hat shouldn't be so firm but I think that's pretty good, especially for someone who's so picky about movies that I'm lucky to see a handful in the theater each year and a few dozen on TV.
Many of these movies are examples of the best art this country can produce, and I think we could use a tad bit more culture. So check the list and make an effort to improve your batting average, at least that way you'll be arguing less with your snob. My batting average needs to be improved by watching Gandhi, Sullivan's Travels and The Best Years of Our Lives. Did I mention I've seen each of the top 7?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tavarez must go!

Red Sox fans, didn't your heart sink into your metaphorical scrotum when you saw Julian Tavarez come out to pitch at the start of the 12th? This guy has turned into an absolute headcase. His stuff is electric, at times he's unhittable but more often than not he can't find the strike zone and then the hitters can just sit back and wait for the right pitch with which to break your heart. In this case an overkill grand slam by Jason Kubel (thanks for the career highlight, Julian) that wiped out one of the best pitching duels of the season, Curt Schilling vs. Johan Santana. And Mike Timlin, just coming off the disabled list, could only go one inning, after two nearly perfect innings by Papelbon.
Wouldn't you rather see the rookies get some experience in these situations, as it was obvious even before last night that Tavarez is far from reliable? And to waste a game in which both Varitek and Gonzalez contributed at the plate is a crying shame! And don't even get me started on Coco Crisp trying to pull every pitch into double plays!
Tavarez has one save this year -- an absolute disgrace to a marginal stat -- a game where he entered with a five-run lead, walked practically everyone in site and was bailed out by the arm of Willie Harris on a play at the plate that would've tied the game."
I beg Red Sox management to get rid of this guy (he's had enough chances to prove he can't do it) and let's find out what stuff these kids are made of.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

World Cup letdown

USA I have to confess I was actually looking forward to the World Cup and optimistic the US would acquit themselves well...we were ranked #5 in the World. So much for that optimism apparently after being embarrased by the Czechs 3-0.

I admit I find soccer boring; but since I also like baseball and stockcars going in circles, I've tried to maintain an open mind. I actually went to a NE Revolution game last year and enjoyed myself. (Oh, okay, my biggest motivation in going was to finally be able to get into Gillette Stadium, but I did enjoy the game.)

But the casual soccer fan, even the soccer haters, should find the World Cup fascinating, as I do. It is the one sport that truly has a world following and dozens of countries with teams as good as any other. What's not to like about a tourney that's only played every four years, that has billions of people beside themselves in joy and anticipation, with national pride on the line with every game; and that in the end has a true world champion, a world champion that doesn't necessarily come from a "world power"?

Answer? Because we don't win! Or in this case we don't like getting our butts handed to us. I'll continue to pay attention to it (though the US Open starts Thursday) because it still has those unique elements to it that set it apart and above; but given that with that one bad loss we have almost no chance of moving on, it'll be hard to get really excited about it.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Cars Preview...The Poot just being The Poot

The Mrs. and I went to the 10:10 showing of Cars Saturday night, kind of like a teenage date scenario or just to prove us old timers can stay up that late.
I won't ruin it for anyone; I'll just basically keep this to opinions without giving away the story. In typical Pixar fashion it was a carnival for the eyes. Every one of these is visually more detailed and spectacular than the one before, and the early scenes of the race are so good you feel like you're watching a real Nascar race...the attention to detail is amazing.
The story is good, though not of the caliber of The Incredibles or Toy Story; and while it has its very funny moments, it is not as funny as Finding Nemo (not close actually). But it's quite charming and visually spectacular. I think anyone would leave feeling it was well worth the price of admission, especially if you're of the vrooooom crowd.

Cute anecdote: There are numerous famous people providing the character voices, and Tony Shalhoub is one of them. He's probably most famous as Monk, a show that is one of the Poot's favorites. On the ride home we're talking about the movie and who "played" who, and I asked her if she recognized who was the voice of Luigi. She said he sounded familiar but wasn't sure. I said it was the guy who played Monk. She said, "Oh, yeah. I thought it was the guy from Taxi." "Taxi?" "No, not taxi...the guy who drives a taxi on the island." "Fantasy Island?" "No, the island in Mass where these guys fly planes." "Wings?" "Yes, that's it." "Sweetheart," I says, "that's the same guy."

Please see what is a poot below and why I can't help but love one.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Try Two Nascar Races

One NASCAR race is enough for this writer - Sports
Obviously written by someone whose mom drove them to school their whole life. It's an etherial sport. You either feel the need for speed or you don't. Going once will only tell you so much; but if the roar of the engines, the smells of burning rubber and exhaust, the checkered flag bikini tops don't pull you in the first time, then it probably never will.

Some people aren't going to like it because they don't want'd be an insult to who they think they are; and to be grouped in with people they know they aren't, they couldn't handle. We're all guilty of that to some degree. For me? If I'd come into Nascar in the 80's, I could never have been a DE fan because I don't fit that crowd. For this guy he doesn't think he fits what he believes to be the Nascar crowd, which is in actuality a snob job on his part, subconsciously or consciously -- even though the Nascar crowd is not a far cry different than the college football crowd he loves. It's also fairly obvious he'd made his mind up before he went.

But perhaps he should give it another try and this time do it right:

A) You must have a rooting interest. Pick a favorite driver. Use whatever criteria you like (except who wins the most), be it that the driver hails from your neck of the woods, that his sponsor is one of your favorite products, the character of the person, the car number, etc. But you must have a favorite and you must wear his colors. So buy a hat or t-shirt of your favorite driver and wear it proudly. And find out who his rivals are, his arch enemies even. Before you know it, you'll be screaming for your guy to "take him out."

B)If you can, camp in the parking lot over the weekend and party with the masses or, even better, camp in the infield, which I've done at the 600 in Charlotte. There's no experience like it. While you're sleeping in your tent and if you're really quiet, you can hear the chirping of the rednecks -- woooo hooooo, woooo hoooo! Make sure you go to the red wagon races and place a bet.

C) Actually talk to someone while you're there, especially the long-time fans. They'll take you under their wing, hold your hand and help you along the journey. The Nascar fan is the friendliest fan of all.

D) Rent a scanner. I've been going to stock car races for 35 years, Nascar races for over 20. So I'd rather watch the race, smell the rubber and hear the screaching and banging. But many find the experience heightened by listening to the radio chatter of the drivers with their crews and spotters or, which I've done on occasion, listen to the radio broadcast of the race...something that comes in particularly handy when your favorite suddenly has problems and you don't know why.

Finally, go with friends, especially if there's a fan or two in the bunch. It really helps. I actually enjoyed myself at a pro soccer match last year using that very technique.

Oh yeah, there's always the wrecks!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Richard Petty's unfortunate comments (a very long rant by Zebster)

In response to Danica Patrick racing in the Indy 500:

"CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - Richard Petty didn't think women belonged on the race track when Janet Guthrie became the first female driver to compete in the Coca-Cola 600 in 1976.
Thirty years later, his opinion hasn't changed......

"I just don't think it's a sport for women," Petty said in an interview with The Associated Press. "And so far, it's proved out. It's really not. It's good for them to come in. It gives us a lot of publicity, it gives them publicity.
"But as far as being a real true racer, making a living out of it, it's kind of tough."
Petty, a seven-time champion and NASCAR's all-time winningest driver, was one of the many people who gave Guthrie a cool reception when she came to Lowe's Motor Speedway for her first NASCAR event.
Guthrie had failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 when track officials persuaded her to come to North Carolina and try to make their race, then known as the World 600"...

Men and women aren't "equal" (read same) but there should be equal opportunity as long as that opportunity is fair to all. So to the extent that changes in a sport make it possible that it takes less ability to be competitive, then that's not fair equal opportunity. But, I think we'll always end up at the same place in these kind of discussions. There's no way for us to know what makes a race car succeed. In each instance it's a different combo of talent behind the wheel, talent in the pits, talent of crew chief, better equipment, communication, experience, etc. There's no way for us to really compare drivers.
But here's an idea: Put her in an IROC car and see what happens.

In response to the idea that maybe it's all right to pay women less for the same work:

I believe women should have equal opportunity, and with that comes equal responsibility. My mother raised the 4 of us by herself working in a shoe shop making piecework wages, which were equal because you got paid X cents per production item; but most jobs still don't pay fairly. I even think some bosses hire a woman because they know the woman will work harder to gain the respect than the avg man and he doesn't have to pay her as much.
IMO it's simple. Everyone for a job they're qualified for should be paid the same and with that comes the responsibility I spoke of before. "I'm hiring you to do a job and these are my expectations." Then it's incumbent upon that person, male or female, to live up to the expectations; and if those expectations are that you're not going to be taking 10 sick days a year because of the kids, then don't take the job or don't be surprised to learn you're fired because you weren't living up to the expressed expectations.

That somehow because you're different it's okay to treat you unfairly:

I spent 8 years in the Corps working with women, many of those times a woman was my boss at one level or another; and even though this was a clerical MOS, if the unit went out and ran 5 miles in packs, you better bet the boss was right there leading it, man or woman. At that time is when the early pitch to allow women into the infantry started. I feel now the same as I did then. It's your life and your choice. Of course, the counter-argument was that a woman in the infantry could get others killed because she couldn't handle things physically. Valid point, except that even in the infantry there are standards. If you can't meet those standards, you can't be allowed to do it. There were women in my NCO class who could physically do some of the obstacle course type challenges that some men couldn't do. If they can qualify and want to take a chance on getting their heads blown off, I have no problem with it.

In response to the thought that merely making the comment has no effect on opportunity or equality:

Their lack of success in the sport to this point as proof they don't belong is a quantum leap of assumption. How many opportunities have there been, especially in quality equipment, with enough seat time to prove yourself, etc, etc. There's no way anyone can prove they didn't have the ability based on what little opportunity we've seen thus far. And if Guthrie and Robinson, etc, weren't talented enough, proves nothing.
Examples: If say 10% of all men are capable of successfully driving a stockcar but that number is 1% for women, we thus should not let women have the chance? We haven't had a truly successful black driver yet. What's that prove? It proves nothing. It's about opportunity and support and ATTITUDE. 30 years ago how many drivers outside the southeast had success in Nascar? Did that prove only southerners could? I don't think so.
And you can bet all female drivers have met many along the way with the same attitude about them that Richard speaks of. You don't think that has an effect on opportunity? We have no way of knowing how many capable female drivers never even got the chance to prove themselves. If everyone had Richard's attitude about it, they wouldn't get to race (ergo, wouldn't have the opportunity, wouldn't have the right).
Just because Richard's not in a position to keep women from participating means I'm not allowed to point out that he's wrong and that his public opinion does have an effect on opportunity? Or is he special and excempt from criticism while we roast others for saying similar things? (Remember, no one loves the King more than I. The #43 hasn't been my number for 30 years for no reason) It would have been interesting to hear what he'd say if Danica Patrick had won the 500.

If a racist or sexist comment was not allowed to be disagreed with on the sole basis that the speaker was not in a position to act upon said belief, we'd never have changed any sexist or racist views. Don't you think that given his high degree of respect in the world that his view does have an effect? At the very least it emboldens others with the same views who heretofore may not have acted on them. "Well, if King Richard believes that, then it's okay for me to."

Honestly, I think if someone has a belief that someone else doesn't have a right to opportunity, they should keep that opinion to themselves.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Em's Concert

OperaI had as good a time as can be expected under the circumstances, but it was great to see her and see her sing and get a hug. That was worth the trip, as mixed up as I felt otherwise. But they were fantastic. Hopefully this won't be the last one I get to see, since she's going to school way up north next year.

I drove Tim's car down and back as it was the last day on the insurance and I wanted to see how it drove. Well, I didn't realize the driver's window was THAT busted. When I pulled the screwdriver out at the toll booth, the window went immediately down inside the door. That was one cold ride the rest of the night. Plus he's got this kick-ass stereo in it that I couldn't figure out how to turn on the amp. So at 25 on the volume it wasn't as loud as 25 on the avg car stereo.

Thanks again to my always supportive wife.

FYI I have this set up so that folks that aren't registered can still comment. Just click on the comment below the post you want to comment on and select anonymous. Sign it in some way if you would so I know who left it though plz.