Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Evil Empires

Baseball is always said to be "as American as apple pie". But it looks like the national pastime is swindling taxpayers.* This wasn't always a secret - in a year when New York state is delaying tax returns because it can barely pay its employees, the state and city chipped in $400 million toward new stadiums for the New York Yankees and Mets. You know, those impoverished teams who could benefit so much by ditching New York and moving to Hartford!

New York elected officials aren't the only ones seduced by the big lights and exciting athletes, the free tickets, and the threat of being demoted from the status of "major league city". In many cities, billionaires beg for handouts from the state because of the unprofitability of their sports team (which they bought for a hobby the way I play fantasy football). Does it not occur to the cities that these owners typically have bigger annual surpluses than the cities themselves? Or that a sports franchise leaving reflects poorly on the franchise - not on the city?

But the latest act of public malfeasance committed by a filthy rich owner of an "unprofitable" team was downright dishonesty. Jeff Passan outlines the dishonesty of the Florida Marlins, who claimed that they barely broke even, when in fact they were secretly pocketing $25 million a year from revenue-sharing. Deadspin got a hold of leaked documents, and the Marlins owners are calling the leak a crime. The real crimes were their lying to public officials and the public officials taking the Marlins' word without concrete documentation.

Miami fans: boycott your team, vote out your incumbents, and throw stones at Jeffrey Loria's limousine until he repays the city every cent of its $500 million "investment" in the Marlins' huckster scheme. The Marlins have started construction and are on the hook - they can't afford to ditch the under-construction stadium. You break it, you own it.

* this sentence can, and should, be read two ways.

Monday, August 23, 2010



To: NFL advertising execs
From: A "football" fan
Date: 23 August 2010

The potential confusion over the word "Football" is also a potential goldmine of NFL promotion. While many Americans are being turned on to Metric Football, many are also turned off. The flopping and diving in the World Cup highlights not only the worst aspect of Metric Football, but also the tough side of NFL Football.

The ad concept consists of a series of football action footage, a shot from the World Cup, and then a shot from the NFL. In each World Cup shot, two players will brush each other, and one (or both) will collapse in agony, rolling around and flailing his arms to signal a yellow card. In each NFL shot, the player will get lit up by a bone-crunching tackle, and jump to his feet triumphantly signalling a first down. Close the video with a baritone voice intoning, "this is American Football; this is the NFL", or some such.

Someone, somewhere, PLEASE make this video!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Obama and the Mosque

Bill Clinton had a "Sistah Souljah Moment", when he showed that there was a leftward limit to how far he would go. Now Barack Obama has a Mosque Moment, which shows that there is no limit on how far he believes his office reaches.

The U.S. presidency has long been described as the most powerful office in the world; POTUS is "the leader of the free world". But presidents have historically remained agnostic on local zoning disputes. But now that the Supreme Court has taken an activist role in empowering municipalities to (literally) bulldoze citizen concerns, it shouldn't be a shock that the Chief Executive wants to get involved.

Some Muslims want to build a tall building housing an Islamic center in downtown Manhattan. Some other Muslims destroyed a tall building housing some 3,000 office-workers in downtown Manhattan. They aren't the same Muslims. The Park51 crew claims to be "dedicated to pluralism, service, arts and culture, education and empowerment, appreciation for our city and a deep respect for our planet." They are showing this dedication to pluralism and appreciation by ignoring the concerns of those who disagree with them and building their center right near Ground Zero despite nationwide opposition.

The relevant levels of government have sided (rightly) with the Park51 Muslims. America is a place where you have the right to build a 13-story building celebrating your faith and (unironically) your conquest of a Christian city. Imagine if Christians tried to build a similar building in a Muslim country, celebrating the civilization of Outremer. Anyway, huzzah for America's religious freedoms, and for New York City's government going through all the proper processes and allowing the permits, etc.

What did Obama have to add to this discussion? Maybe he could have had some back-room talks with the Park51 leaders about how the medium is the message, and how they would get a lot further with cultural understanding if they moved to Midtown. Maybe he could have asked them to build a sister center in the Arab Gulf, with the same "multifaith", "pluralistic" message. Or maybe he could have kept his thoughts to himself.

But he didn't. And he deserves the firestorm of criticism on the web, radio shows and cable TV that he's getting. Mr President, how dare you tell us how to zone our neighborhoods? Do you recognize no bounds on the limit of Federal power? What makes you think you are more wise the Cambridge police force, the New York zoning board, or the employees of the State of Indiana?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hipster Christianity

Brett McCracken has an article (and forthcoming book) saying in many words what I and others have often said: the church does not need to follow the culture to be relevant to people's lives. The culture can take care of itself. The church needs to follow Jesus.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mac is Catholic, DOS is Calvinist

Umberto Eco, brilliant novelist, wrote in 1994 about the competing computer systems. His thoughts were dredged up by Damian Thompson, discussing the perma-craze surrounding each generation of Apple products.
I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counterreformist and has been influenced by the “ratio studiorum” of the Jesuits.
Now the question: do more Catholics use macs than Protestants?

Hat tip to BOTWT