Sunday, September 30, 2012

Quote of the Day

"The Onion freely shares content with Fars and commends the journalists at Iran's Finest News Source on their superb reportage," Tracy said in jest.

Onion editor Will Tracy's response to an Iranian news agency citing this Onion article as fact.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Behold, the Power of Twitter

Twitter has been credited by some for helping to boost the 2009 protests in Iran and the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, particularly in Egypt.  Now, it may have hastened the return of the NFL referees.  I doubt that the league offices would have received 70,000 voicemails if the phone number hadn't been tweeted (by Wisconsin State Senator and occasional Daily Show guest Jon Erpenbach, among others).

In the past few days, Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang has surpassed Justin Bieber as the all-time re-tweet champion.  Of course, if Lang and the rest of the O-line had done a better job protecting Aaron Rodgers in the first half of the game, the debacle at the end would never have happened.  So, I guess he does deserve a lot of credit for ending the lockout.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Return to Oz

I was shown up by a rookie
'Cause our O-line played some hooky
And left me in a bind.
We'd have beat up on Seattle;
I'd have won the Monday battle,
If I only had a line.

The Seahawks fans are noisy;
You can hear them clear in Boise,
And I thought I'd lose my mind.
I'd have had more of their silence
And less of Irvin's violence,
If I only had a line.

I hope those scab officials
Are choking on their whistles;
They've gone too far this time.
But if our offense hadn't tarried,
There'd have been no Hail Mary,
If I only had a line.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Martyr for Democracy

For some time before September 11, tension had been simmering between various factions in post-revolution Libya. The weak transitional government has abdicated responsibility for security to armed militias, many of them Islamist.  One of those Islamist militias, Ansar al-Sharia, is widely held to be responsible for the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Chris Stevens was held in high esteem by Libya's revolutionaries, whose cause he supported last year. His death outraged many Libyans and may have inspired the populist demonstration against the militias that took place in Benghazi on Friday.

There were counter-demonstrators, but they were far outnumbered. The clashes killed at least 11 people and wounded 70. A day later, the Libyan government banned all militias and armed groups that are not under government authority and are working to cobble together a national security force.

There is no way to know what Libya will look like in a year. It may be taken over by Islamist militias in the end.  Or, it may install a secular democracy on the Turkish model.  There are no strong leaders, no Libyan Kemal Attaturk, but this weekend has shown that not all Muslims are anti-American, not all Muslims want to live in an Islamic theocracy, and many Muslims are willing to stand up and fight against the extremists in their midst.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

An Undeserved Win

The Badgers' offense looked terrible again yesterday.  I can't remember seeing them look so bad as they did in the first half, and I'm old enough to remember the Don Morton era and the winless Jim Hilles season.

Putting Joel Stave in at quarterback was an improvement, but the Badgers only managed to move the ball when Stave was occasionally allowed to throw it.  Giving it to Montee Ball every time to run out the clock with a few minutes left was stupid.  Bielema has pissed away leads this way before, but he never seems to learn that his Woody Hayes crap does not work in the 21st century.  And last year's debacles against Michigan State and Ohio State apparently did not teach him how stupid it is to gift your opponent with a timeout when they are marching back to score with the clock running down.

I thought Utah State would make that field goal in the final seconds and pull out the win.  And they totally would have deserved it.

It also seemed to me that Montee Ball was having trouble with his balance.  He couldn't seem to keep his feet under him once contact was made, making it easy for Utah State to trip him up.  I can't help suspecting that he isn't fully recovered from that concussion he suffered when he was mugged over the summer.

Bielema and Matt Canada need to admit that Danny O'Brien has no business starting.  They should have realized that two weeks ago.  Also, Montee Ball is not going to be a Heisman contender this year, nor is he going to break Barry Sanders' single-season touchdown record.  Stop trying to pad his career by giving him the ball most of the time.  It isn't working, and getting dropped for a loss will not help his stats.

I have a feeling that the hapless O-Line coach will not be the only one to lose his job this season.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Bears Should Develop Their Own Celebration Moves

...instead of mocking those belonging to Packers' players.  How many more times was Jay Cutler sacked by Clay Matthews after a Bears player mocked his beast move?  Matthews didn't need to do the move again; his attitude was summed up when he nonchalantly examined his fingernails after sacking Cutler yet again.

The Lambeau crowd could be clearly heard chanting "The Bears Still Suck" (although the NFL Network broadcast team ignored it, and they quickly went to a commercial).

A couple years ago, in the run-up to the Superbowl, a Bear mocked Aaron Rodgers' championship belt move after sacking him.  Not long after, B.J. Raji got a pick-six and added his own flourish to the same move.

Taunting is a sign of weakness.  A confident team has no need to publicly disrespect their opponents.  I hope Jay Cutler remembers that the next time he's tempted to spout off and diss the defensive backs that he is about to face.  How'd that work out for you, Jay?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Best Thing Since Schoolhouse Rock

I've long believed that we desperately need high school civics classes to teach students how to be informed consumers of political ads. Americans should view all of them skeptically, asking who is paying for them, what their agenda might be, and checking the veracity of claims.

However, in this age of SuperPACS that sprout like dandelions and have misleading names, it can be difficult for even political junkies to keep track. 

Thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and a collaborative class project at MIT’s Media Lab, there is now an app for that.

The SuperPACApp works like Shazam; you let it listen to an ad, and it identifies the message and source, providing links to information about that SuperPAC and nonpartisan sources to factcheck the ad's claims.

The app is free, but it is not available for Android, more's the pity.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Oh, Canada (sigh)

The Badgers need a new Offensive Coordinator.  Matt Canada clearly isn't up to the task.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Blast from the Past, UW Campus Edition

Who knew that Tunnel Bob was still around?  A whole generation of UW students probably thought he was just an urban legend.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Paul Ryan's Delusions of Grandeur

A couple weeks ago (I'm rounding), Hugh Hewitt interviewed Paul Ryan.  While talking about the marathons that he used to run, Ryan said that his personal best was "Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something."

The Fact-Checkers Who Shall Not Run the Campaign did a little research and discovered that this was, in fact, false.  The one marathon that Ryan ran (at age 20) took him just over four hours to complete.

Ryan admitted that he misspoke and even added that: "my brother Tobin—who ran Boston last year—reminds me that he is the owner of the fastest marathon in the family and has never himself ran a sub-three. If I were to do any rounding, it would certainly be to four hours, not three. He gave me a good ribbing over this at dinner tonight."

Many in the bloggosphere are calling this a clumsy, Palinesque lie (one that is self-aggrandizing and easily disproved).  However, the Ryan campaign pointed out that the race was over 20 years ago, and the candidate spoke according to the best of his recollection.

In an episode of Seinfeld, serial liar George Costanza once explained how he beat the lie detector by saying: "It's not a lie if you believe it."

I am inclined to give Paul Ryan the benefit of the doubt regarding his marathon time.  I think he has believed for decades that he ran a sub-three-hour marathon.  He remembered it that way because it made him feel more important and accomplished, just as he remembers pulling himself up by his bootstraps rather than being born into privilege and going on the government dole after his father's death.

So the next time Paul Ryan says something outrageous and factually untrue, don't be so quick to call him a liar.  Remember the words of George Costanza.