28 February 2006

In The Business of Failure (CS)

Isaiah Thomas is a madman. Or at least most Knicks fans seem to think so at this point. Ever since assuming control as the Knicks's General Manager, Isaiah Thomas has made terrible decision after terrible decision resulting in one of the most visible teams in the league becoming the most abysmal as well. Following his recent trade for Stevie Francis, the conspiracy theories just started flying. Just look at the e-mails pertaining to it that Bill Simmons got. Theories range from Thomas having a personal vandetta against the Knicks to getting some sort of kick-back on the rediculous contracts he signs to even Bill Simmons paying Thomas off for easy column fodder.
Why are they grasping at rediculous explanations? Because the current situation defies explanation. It will be years before the Knicks are under the cap, all their future draft picks of any use have been dealt away, and they are saddled with mediocre players with zero chemistry and overblown (and impossible to unload) contracts. A team this stuck in the mud needs a rebuilding process, but Thomas has dealt away all the building blocks already. Knicks fans are understandably confused. Where else can you find someone continually failing in one major endeavor after another only to be appointed a position of power that he screws up beyond even the most pessimistic expectations and yet taking no responsibility and meeting with no censure? Ohhhhh yeah! The White House!
The comparison between these two pathetic businessmen is almost eerie. Both G.W. Bush and Thomas were screwups in many if not most of their former roles. Thomas failed while in charge of the CBA and the Toronto Raptors and certainly underachieved as coach of the Pacers. Bush failed as an entrepeneur in oil and baseball (plus he was apparantly a bit of the problem drinker/coke snorter back in the day... but that at least I can probably forgive him). And yet both have been given an extra chance at the highest level possible... and sent everything in each of their respective cases to hell. You even have the comparison of Michael Brown and Larry Brown serving as scapegoats for Bush and Thomas, respectively.
In Thomas's case it's extra confusing that he doesn't know how to put together a good team since he played on one for so long as one of the greatest point guards of all time. In Bush's case it's extra depressing because it's bad enough that he doesn't realize you can't really run a country like a business, much less run it like a totally inept businessman.
The worst part is that both Knicks fans and American Citizens are complaining and calling for the heads of these guys and yet nothing ever happens. What do these guys have to do to get reprimanded and/or fired? Show up to work naked? We all know that there's no way in hell the average joe could get away with screwing up at his job as much as these jokers without being sent packing. The only thing we're left to wonder is how they got so dumb. Or maybe they are just maniacal madmenl.

18 February 2006

The IOC Should Pay Me For This (CS)

I tried to act all cool. I tried to think I was way too cultured and hip and that I had far far better and important things to do with my time. I even tried to avoid it (not that hard when you don't have television). But I have to admit it... I really like the Winter Olympics.

Let me get the most important factor out of the way first. Olympic Hockey. It doesn't get much better than this. It's so good, I can't even mind the delay in the NHL regular season (unless any Rangers get injured in the process, of course). The ice is more open, the skating is fast (and dare I say furious) and pure skill and hard work trumps all. The teams we're used to are shaken up into several different units of All-Star level players. Even the US, which doesn't have a great team, still has some really interesting players. You get to see players shine in scenarios you might not get to in the NHL. It almost makes me wish the NHL would adopt international rules. Almost.

Then there's the biathalon. I might be biased as this was my favorite event to play in the Super Nintendo Lillehammer Winter Olympics videogame, but I don't understand why more people aren't into this. It's a race. It's a war of endurance. It's much like many of the races and relays you might find in the Summer games that get a lot of attention. But with guns. Just this morning I watched an exciting finish in the "pursuit" biathalon where the French competitor just edged out the reigning Norwegian champ for the Gold in the final homestretch. It's an amazing feat of stamina, skill and control at its highest caliber (terrible pun unfortunately intended).

And that's what you get to see in any Olympics, really... Amazing feats. I just feel like it's amplified in the Winter Olympics. The competitors use tools (the bobsled, luge, skis, skates, etc) to accomplish things that are far beyond human. Flying high through the air, hurtling at insane speeds, showing off pinpoint skill (those biathalon targets are a the size of a silver dollar and 50-yards away!). Plus they pull all this off wearing flamboyant, colorful, skin-tight outfits. Let's face it, it's the closest I'm going to get to seeing comic book-esque actions until we perfect cyborgs and genetic modifications.

Now, a plug for just about anything would be lacking without addressing some of the more high profile haters. The first argument is made by The Sportsguy. He can't stand the Olympics because of the time delay and that, in this day and age, you know the outcome before you get a chance to watch it. I can see where he's coming from, but c'mon. Is anyone really THAT connected? I could understand this argument in the case of most major American sports where if you miss the game it's near impossible to avoid hearing the outcome since (especially in the case of a major game) it will be in the paper, on the radio, and/or on the television (and of course online). But the Olympics don't get that sort of coverage, especially in events where an American is not finishing with a medal. Unless you're insanely connected all the time (particularly to the world of sports), I really don't see this as a relevant setback.

The second argument is from Bryant Gumbel. I think there are few people out there with their head on straight that wouldn't agree that Bryant Gumbel is one hell of a self-righteous and annoying prick. He pretty much cemented that view in my eyes with this quote regarding the Winter Olympics:

Count me among those who don't care about them and won't watch them. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world's greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention

Wow. I don't think he thought that one through. By this reasoning, should white people be completely uninterested in and scoff at basketball as it has a "paucity" of whites that make an NBA game look like a Harlem block party? Soccer aficionados better stay away from the Copa America if they're not Hispanic?
The Olympics are about presenting the cream of the crop in specific Winter and Summer events that have been developed over the years. It's ridiculous to think that the IOC would allow in or any nation would offer anything less than the best, regardless of race. It just so happens that there are a helluva lot more white people in Scandanavia, Eastern Europe, and other regions that these sports are popular in. Furthermore, there's just less interest amongst most black people for a lot of these sports. It's cultural and demographic and all that isn't necessarily a bad thing. And there is of course the possibility that it is at least partly (dare i say it?) genetic. Perhaps being a white American there's no reason to be interested in long distance running that those darned black Kenyans always dominate (that's right, eat my snark, Gumbel). Meanwhile, Gumbel completely ignores some of the Asian athletes not only participating, but expected to take home highest honors. For example, Korean short track speed skaters are some of the best out there and their rivalry with America's Apollo Ohno is one of the more compelling storylines in this year's games. Speaking of Korea, how about both North and South Korea competing under the same flag? At the risk of sounding corny, the Olympics actually do seem to bring people together... whereas Gumbel's attempt at enlightenment is only mean and divisive.

Of course, watching NBC's coverage of Torino, I realize there are some things even I could do without. Seeinng the beautiful shots of Torino is great. Having the "Sponsered by ExxonMobil" sign come up stamped across these shots unavoidably gets an irony inspired chortle out of me... or sometimes a depressed sigh.
Also, NBC's coverage is, unavoidably, modern media and thus desperate for any story they can get their hands on (or manufacture) even if that means beating a virtual non-story to death. (snowboarder). I got so sick of Bob Costas rehashing the Lindsay Jacobellis incident. The Bush Administration deserves the type of pointed cross-examination that Costas gave her in the studio.

In the end, though, it's hard NOT to get pulled in once you start watching. These athletes are on a level of talent that is inspiring and most of them are absolutely euphoric about their opportunity to be there. Every moment means soemthing to them there and yet every moment is too important to not be taken in fully and happily. Despite the steely resolve and determination in times of competion, there's a levity, excitement, and happiness about the Olympics that is sorely and sadly lacking from the world and our general dialogue. So take in an event or two. Just try it. Unless you're just too cool for that sort of thing, I guess.

17 February 2006

Rise From Your Grave....

Holy crap! Where have we (I) been! It's been decades, EONS, since anyone posted on this godforsaken blog.
I sort of have an excuse. My computer got busted when a faulty radiator decided to spew steam and water all over my room. Thank you crappy landlords! But I have had the computer back for about 2 weeks now and I'm not even posting this particular post on my own computer. So yknow, so much for excuses.
Expect some content in the future though. More comic books, more lamenting about the state of robots in society (no really), more talk of the Rangers (once they get back on the ice and away from these boring, boring olympics). And maybe, just maybe, some riled up angry political posts like the days of old. No promises though.
Though I did read a good (and almost inspiring if it weren't so depressing) editorial by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone (so that's where he ran off to after getting squeezed out of the NYPress). In it he points out how the generation in charge (this is including the Bush administration, their friends, and the majority of the big time CEOs out there) have been defined by their corruption. So much to the point that any further corruption is met with a yawn, a sigh, and an "of course" by anyone who has taken the time to pay attention (and these are the people that are usually worked up about this sort of stuff!).
So what are our options when everyone we give the wheel to is already (or soon to be) under the influence? What sort of action is there left to take? Discuss amongst yourselves, I'm off to take a half bottle of Dayquil (for I too am corrupt.... with the flu).