Tuesday, August 29, 2006

WWJR: What Would JT Read?

Looking back at the books I've read this year, the theme is "Books I Should have Read in School But Didn't Because My School Sucked". So far this year I've read "Great Expectations" (surprisingly good), "Anna Karenina" (surprisingly Harlequin-esque), "Robinson Crusoe" (unsurprisingly racist), "All Quiet on the Western Front" (unsurprisingly depressing & rat-filled), and, currently, "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" (surprisingly short). Now, my big question is, any suggestions of good books you were required to read? Or, more importantly, any classics to avoid? Not that I'll actually listen to suggestions, but this way you can feel like I care.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

How, Exactly, Can I Help?

From the NY Times: 'With the heading “Wanted Dead,” the message featured a photograph of Mr. Malik and said: “This is the face of the traitorous lawyer to Islam who supports the Lina Joy apostasy case. Distribute to our friends so they can recognize this traitor. If you find him dead by the side of the road, do not help.” '

If the guy is already dead when I find him, am I just supposed to avoid resurrecting him? Is this common in Malaysia? Why haven't we heard more about this?

Apparently in Malaysia one has the constitutional right to choose one's religion, but Malays are also constitutionally defined as being Muslim and so must have permission of an Islamic Shariah court to convert. Not surprisingly, they're pretty loathe to grant this, so Lina Joy is going to their Supreme Court to challenge her right convert to Christianity to marry her Christian fiancee. Of course, she & her lawyer are receiving death threats.

Who has time for this? Is this the psycho-religious equivalent of blogging? Can we stop the death threats with free broadband access? Maybe getting these guys indoctrinated into a nerd cult is the answer -- who has time for death threats when you have to flame someone over which is better: Star Wars or Star Trek? There's the answer for peace in the Middle East: Sunnis get Star Trek, Shiites get Star Wars and give Israelis Lord of the Rings. Instead of bombing, they can all have a big Sci-Fi convention and decide territorial issues through time-honored nerd tests like costume contests.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Cheesing Up Metropolis

Let's be honest, superhero movies are all a little cheesey. Some, like Batman Begins or X-Men seek to tone this down & explore the dark side of human nature. Some, like the Spider-Man flicks, embrace their 4-color roots with humor and excitement. And some use the most expensive special effects (note the absence of the word "best") available to pack 3 hours so full of cheesey lines ("I forgot how warm you are"), bad acting, and lame plots that it seems to last for 17 hours. Not even Kobe Bryant's talk with his wife after the trip to Colorado didn't feel this long.

Plot Summary: Superman is Jesus, but the DaVinci Code one. The role of Mary Magdalene is played by Lois Lane who continues to demonstrate absolutely no reason (other than hotness) why the (super)men in her life are fawning over her. Sure, she's got moxie, but so does Lex Luthor and no one is rushing to marry the bald guy. Anyone, there's 3 hours of Christ imagery in a red cape. And Superman doesn't punch anyone or anything! I guarantee when they pump Sly Stallone full of Lenin-style chemicals so he can make "Rambo Returns", he'll get to shoot something.

On the bright side, since it was the unannounced sneak preview, it was half price, so it could have been worse. And they serve Paulaner hefe-weizen in a chilled glass at the theater, so that helped.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ron Weasley Named as English Soccer Coach

Gotta love the youth team picture of the new English manager. I wonder if Argentina will hire Snape as their new coach?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Who Framed Floyd Landis? The F*&#ing Communists, That's Who

Apparently Floyd Landis has some a rare form of Tourette's that causes him to randomly and frequently lapse into semi-coherent rants about the forces of evil that are conspiring against him. Right now, bookies have the top 5 candidates to next be named Landis conspirators:

1. Dick Cheney - it just feels right
2. Bill Clinton - interns dig scandals
3. Osama Bin Laden - tearing down the moral fabric of america, one spandex-clad infidel at a time
4. Jesus - Motive is unclear, but omnipotence = opportunity & you can't rule him out
5. Communist Insurgents - Seeking to gain a foothold in cycling, Marxist rebels can never be ruled out when explaining irrational American behavior.

Friday, August 11, 2006

German Nationals

German Ultimate Nationals were last weekend in Cologne, and it was an experience. I finally got to see top-level German ultimate as well as see how the Dusseldorf team would play under pressure.

Nationals was basically just a bigger than normal tournament. Everyone camped at the fields, ate breakfast together, etc. Fields ranged from shorter & narrower than standard to longer (80yds!) than the official. Most, though not all, fields were lined. The fields were not all together, and half of them required driving from the central location.

The Dusseldorf team lost our 4 pool play games, then won the crap bracket, to finish exactly as the team did last year (7th in the 2nd division, 17th overall). Personally, I played pretty poorly except in our last game (and even then it wasn’t a very good showing by me). The team was very tight in pool play and relaxed in the consolation games. It was no coincidence that we won these two games (it also helped that one of the teams was completely exhausted with only 9 players). The team needs more focus and better attendance at its practices and at least some structure to the offense if the team is to ever do better.

As for top-level German ultimate, in general the players in the first division have as much skill as the top teams in the south region, but their strategy is pretty lacking. Not much variation in o or d, and very little awareness of mismatches. I only saw three 1st division games, and they were a mixed bag. The Cologne first team managed to drop 2 pulls (one on game point) in the "showcase" semifinal on sat night. Ouch. But I also saw the best pull I've ever seen -- high, fast inside out, angling sharply, into the sun, to boot. The guy wisely let it land, it rolled a foot or so & stopped less than a foot from the back corner of the endzone. when he picked it up, the cup was on him. Almost every pull the guy threw was caught in the endzone with defenders waiting. 1st division teams were small – no more than 15 guys, and most teams only really played 10 or less. This led to plenty of tired defense and easy scores while fresh guys languished on the bench.

The party was fun, but the music was sketchy. Worst of all, you had to pay for your own beer. This has been the case at both ultimate parties I’ve been to, and I’m not sure if it’s because kegs aren’t available or because that’s just the way it is. No matter, if you go to a Frisbee party here, make sure you have cash…
No, Really, I Have an Excuse

Sorry for not posting the last two weeks. I've been in the hospital following a horrible accident involving a bratwurst, goose-stepping, and the French border police. But my testosterone levels are back to normal and I will protest the International Blogging Federation's attempts to label me as a lazy, drunken blogger -- I am not lazy about my drunkenness, as any of a wide variety of TABC officers will tell you.
Are There Other Kinds?

From a cnn.com article http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/08/10/washington.terror.plot/index.html about Bush's "Islamic Fascists" comment: '"We believe that this is an ill-advised term and we believe that it is counterproductive to associate Islamic Muslims with fascism," the council's Executive Director Nihad Awad said at a Washington press conference.'

My question, and a serious one for a change, is: what's a non-Islamic Muslim? I'd thought (and pretty sure my world religions course backs this up) that "Islam" was the religion and "Muslim" was a practioner of the religion. Feel free to enlighten me on this point.