Saturday, January 26, 2008


A fun collection of film clips.


Free money

Am I the only one who doesn't feel quite right about these government rebate checks the federal government is about to hand out? Comments from Left Field wonders, like me, exactly where the money is coming from, though on the whole the writer is not opposed to the idea of priming the pump, so to speak.

I don't pretend to know enough to discern whether this is good economic policy. Yet the idea that the government is implicity encouraging Americans to go on a sprending spree just doesn't sit right. Don't get me wrong; I'm not troubled enough to send the money back, or donate it to charity even. But nor am I going to blow it all at Best Buy. The portion I get as a result of having a child is going into her 529 account (maybe the mutual fund managers will buy something with the commission) and the rest will probably go toward paying down the balance on a home equity loan.

So if this country spirals into a recession despite the election year gift from our rich Uncle Sam, I guess you can blame it all on me.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

The jig is up

A rather unlikely source is claiming the sports teams contribute little to cities' economies:

If the Sonics leave Seattle, the city's economy won't suffer and most people won't care.

That's not the tirade of some anti-arena activist; it's the Sonics' latest legal argument to try to get out of its KeyArena lease.

And it's exactly the opposite of what the Sonics have claimed when asking for taxpayer help to build a new arena.

The team made the argument in papers filed in U.S. District Court this week, seeking mediation or a speedy trial to allow the team to abandon city-owned KeyArena before 2010. In the documents, Sonics' attorneys dispute the city's contention that the team's departure would have a broad and hard-to-quantify impact.

"The financial issue is simple, and the city's analysts agree, there will be no net economic loss if the Sonics leave Seattle. Entertainment dollars not spent on the Sonics will be spent on Seattle's many other sports and entertainment options. Seattleites will not reduce their entertainment budget simply because the Sonics leave," the Sonics said in the court brief.

The Sonics also said they would produce a survey showing that 66 percent of Seattleites say the team's exit would make "no difference" in their lives, while only 12 percent said they'd be "much worse off."

Well, well, well. (Hat tip to The Sports Economist.)

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Second chance? These kids aren't even getting a first chance

Back when I was a reporter for the Trib, covering the city schools, district officials took me on a tour of South Vo-Tech to demonstrate that the building was dilapidated. The plan then was to build a brand-new vocational high school.

But that didn't happen, and they closed South Vo-Tech anyway. Regardless of what kind of vocational programs may exist in the other high schools, city school students deserve a dedicated vocational high school, and it's a crime that they don't have one. Kudos to Mark Rauterkus for keeping on top of this.

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He's not even in the guy's weight class

I don't blame Dan Onorato for not wanting to fight Jim Mitchell -- the man looks huge. (I mean that as a compliment, Mr. Mitchell, sir.) But give Onorato credit for some PR savvy by jumping on this story and turning it to his advantage. Still, I think Onorato will continue to be persona non grata in a lot of Allegheny County restaurants.

Which raises the question -- Where does the county executive eat these days? I'm guessing he's been ordering a lot of take-out.

In other news, I'm not a hockey lover, but I do love jumping on bandwagons, so I've been following the Penguins more closely than usual lately. Which is why I was alarmed to read this.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

Here's an interesting take on baseball's steroid scandal. Let's just say I agree more than I disagree:

Just once, I would like to hear an active athlete/entertainer surrounded by a steroid scandal rise up and be honest and unafraid the way retired Charles Barkley can be when he said that, if it meant the difference between being poor and rich, he would have popped illegal pills ''like Tic-Tacs'' and spent all his time sticking needles in his ample posterior.

Can you picture it? The scandalous swirl that envelops Marion Jones and Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens (but, inexplicably, not Shawne Merriman) being countered by one brave and defiant athlete standing in front of the cameras and saying the following to America:

``Yes, I used HGH. Used it all the time, illegally, under the supervision of trainers I pay well to keep me at optimum efficiency. My body is a business and a source of great profit in the entertainment industry, and I've hired the best mechanics to keep this machine running right. I'm sorry that is something you tolerate from the governor of California and Rambo but not me.

``What I do for a living hurts physically, and the hormone helps me heal. Craig Biggio destroys his stomach lining by taking 12 Advil a day. I did this, which is actually safer. I'm not sorry for that. I'm sorry you don't understand the world where I work. I'm sorry I'm surrounded by ignorant judgments and name-calling and sports McCarthyism. But I'm not sorry for being competitive and looking for advantages in medicine the same way I did in film work, scouting reports and training techniques.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

The honeymoon is over

I listened to about a half-hour's worth of sports radio this morning, and it sounded like more people were blaming Mike Tomlin's play calling than Ben Rothliesberger's poor first-half performance for the Steelers' heartbreaking loss to Jacksonville last night.

Two decisions stand out: The two-point conversion attempt from the 12 yard line following the holding penalty that wiped out Hines Ward's end zone reception, and the quarterback draw on 3rd-and-6 late in the fourth quarter with the Steelers protecting a one-point lead. A couple of callers accused Tomlin of "playing not to lose" rather than playing to win.

If that was the case, then Tomlin made what I would characterize as a Cowher-esque mistake. Wasn't one of the knocks on Cowher that he wasn't aggressive enough in putting games away? Then again, being overly conservative seems to be a characteristic of a lot of NFL coaches -- why else do so many punt on fourth down when the odds favor going for it?

During Super Bowl XXXVI, John Madden said that the Patriots, with 90 seconds left and no timeouts, should run out the clock and go into overtime. Instead, they drove down the field and got the game-winning field goal. For that matter, doesn't Bill Belichick go for it on fourth down even when he has a comfortable lead? Maybe that's why the Patriots are 16-0 and about to rendevous with history.

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George Will won't make too many friends among Christian conservatives with this passage about Mike Huckabee:

Huckabee says "only one explanation" fits his Iowa success "and it's not a human one. It's the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of 5,000 people." God so loves Huckabee's politics that He worked a Midwest miracle on his behalf?

Should someone so delusional control nuclear weapons? (link)

Will is conservative, of course, but this is one of several columns in which he heaps praise on Barack Obama:

Barack Obama, who might be mercifully closing the Clinton parenthesis in presidential history, is refreshingly cerebral amid this recrudescence of the paranoid style in American politics. He is the un-Edwards and un-Huckabee -- an adult aiming to reform the real world rather than an adolescent fantasizing mock-heroic "fights" against fictitious villains in a left-wing cartoon version of this country.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Jerry Orbach's dead, and this guy doesn't feel so good himself

This blogger really likes "Law & Order", probably more than he should, but he thinks the show may be close to jumping the shark. (Do people still say that?) Frankly, I think the expiration date passed on that show long before season 18, but to each his own, I suppose. Click here for my thoughts on "L & O". (H/t to The House Next Door.)

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hollywood to New York: Drop Dead

After seeing "I am Legend", I pondered the same question as this New York Times article: Why do filmmakers seem to take such joy in destroying New York City? This seems like the most obvious answer:

James Sanders, the author of “Celluloid Skyline,” about the history of New York in movies, ascribed the resonance of disaster scenes involving New York to the prospects for special-effects shock. “What would be the point of showing a demolished suburban street? You’d get the point but it just wouldn’t have the punch. You take the most familiar, iconic symbol of civic society in the world — a big city, and for Americans, that’s New York — and that’s where disaster is going to be the most powerful.” He added that New York serves as a yardstick — what architects would call a scale — that illustrates the magnitude for a disaster.

(Hat tip to The House Next Door.)

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