Sunday, April 30

Well, we already know he looks good in red and black . . .

Gentlemen, find this man a Falcons uniform.

Don't know why it took seven rounds to happen, but the Falcons finally responded to the Dawg blogosphere's bitching about their never drafting UGA players. D.J. Shockley will be staying close to home and making two things happen for the Falcons:

1) They now have a backup who can take over for Michael Vick, should the need ever arise, with a minimum of playbook-altering.

2) They may be the first team in NFL history whose seventh-round draft pick's jersey outsells that of a guy who was a #1 overall pick -- in their home city, at least.

Obviously I'm indulging in a wee bit of hyperbole here, but congrats to Shock and congrats to the Falcons. Rest assured I will be checking this site with regularity for when the new #3 (or #4, or #5, or whatever) goes up.

ADDED: AJC story here.

Saturday, April 29

Draft open thread.

When the Texans surprised pretty much everyone by agreeing to terms with N.C. State DE Mario Williams even before the draft had begun, my initial take on that was that it was very bad news for Matt Leinart and, by extension, Jay Cutler. I think the Texans had some idea that, while Williams would probably go high, he wasn't necessarily someone they had to spend the #1 overall pick on, and I'd be willing to bet they probably shopped that first pick to as many people as possible. But apparently nobody bit on it -- at least not for what Houston was asking -- which could have meant one of two things: Either nobody was concerned enough about Matt Leinart getting snapped up early to go after that #1 pick, or not all that many teams had their hearts set on him in the first place. And if Leinart dropped, then Cutler would drop even further.

As far as Leinart was concerned, I guess my prediction was somewhat borne out in that he fell all the way to #10 (and to Arizona, no less), although my other hunch -- that Cutler might fall all the way to the second round -- didn't end up happening. If anything, Cutler came out better than Leinart -- if you're a blue-chip college QB and you have the choice of getting drafted by Arizona or Denver, where would you rather end up? Yeah, that's what I thought.

At any rate, I was really glad to see that Vince Young didn't get sunk by the Wonderlic hoo-ha -- I said from the beginning that he'd go before Cutler and probably deserved to go before Leinart, too, and sure enough he did. I think Young ended up in a near-ideal situation in Tennessee, where he can spend a year or two getting mentored behind a tough, experienced quarterback (Steve McNair) who's still got a couple good seasons left in him, and then when it comes time for VY to take the reins, his range of talents (mobility being chief among them) will be similar enough to McNair's that the transition should be relatively seamless.

Consider this an open thread for anyone just passin' through on a Saturday afternoon to leave their random thoughts about draft picks already made and draft picks yet to come -- which teams came away with terrific steals, which teams got suckered into picking players way higher than they needed to, which players stand to become superstars in their new NFL homes and which ones are the likely busts. I'm still really hoping that D.J. Shockley, Leonard Pope, and Darrell Hackney in particular end up with good teams. With Pittsburgh having lost Antwaan Randle-El to free agency, it's not far out of the realm of reality to envision Shockley -- a running and throwing threat just like Randle-El -- getting picked up by the defending Super Bowl champions and picking right up where his very talented predecessor left off. Certainly it's already been proven that, for Bulldogs at least, there are much worse places than Pittsburgh where a guy can end up.

AFTER-THE-SMOKE-CLEARS UPDATE: Yecch. I'm glad I had both a date and a wedding to occupy my time yesterday, because I would've been really pissed had I sat around in front of ESPN all day only to see Max Jean-Gilles go undrafted through the first three rounds. This was not the Bulldog bonanza most Georgia fans have come to expect on draft day, with only two Dawgs going in the first three rounds and none going in the first round (the first time that's happened in six years, as Paul Westerdawg reports). The two who did get drafted, though, are in excellent situations -- Leonard Pope stands an excellent shot at becoming the starting TE in his rookie season with Arizona (yeah, forget everything I said about the Cardinals), while Tim Jennings overcame his relatively small stature to go way higher than most draft "experts" predicted. Still shocked about Jean-Gilles, though -- yes, I'm very biased, but I pegged him as the best OL after D'Brickashaw Ferguson and maybe Marcus McNeill. And I'm still really hoping that Shockley and my UAB homeboy, Darrell Hackney, get picked up by good teams. Westerdawg's take on Day 1 is here; DAve Akins, a radical partisan of both the Dawgs and the Falcons, has his winners and losers here (along with a very funny Random Ten/Mel Kiper Jr. goof here); and if you're one of those people who insists on having your opinion validated by those squares in the mainstream media, you can get your fix here (ESPN's John Clayton) and here (SI's Don Banks).

Quick hypothetical, for those of you who are interested: What if Mario Williams becomes the second coming of Reggie White, while Reggie Bush becomes the RB equivalent of Ryan Leaf? Something to think about. Alls I'm saying.

Friday, April 28

Bowl dreams, Friday Random Ten, and the single greatest thing to have ever appeared on the Internets.

ECU-Cincinnati action: Catch it!

I suppose that, as a college football fan, there are any number of withering remarks I could make about Birmingham being one of the cities green-lighted to host a bowl game for the 2006-07 season. I could ask if ticketholders will be required to sign accidental-death-and-dismemberment waivers before entering Legion Field, which, as stadiums go, is starting to look ratty even compared to the UL-Lafayette home stadium where they had to move the New Orleans Bowl last December. I could also propose the question of just what precisely a Conference-USA-#6-vs.-Big-East-#5/#6 matchup is supposed to prove, other than which gutted mid-major conference has the softer midsection. But as a three-year (going on four) Birmingham resident, all I can say is We got a bowl game and -- unless you live in Memphis, Orlando, Atlanta, San Francisco, Miami, Nashville, Mobile, Shreveport, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Charlotte, Boise, Detroit, Tampa, San Diego, Fort Worth, Pasadena, Dallas, Honolulu, Tempe, Jacksonville, El Paso, New Orleans, Toronto, or Albuquerque -- you don't! So SUCK IT!!!!!111!1!one

Now all we need to decide on is a name -- I'm hearing that they're just going to call it "The Birmingham Bowl," which sounds pretty lame. Personally, I think we should tip our caps to the city's rich iron- and steelworking history and call it the "Iron Bowl." What, that's already been taken?

Well, I'll keep brainstorming and let you know what I come up with. Meanwhile, here's the Ten:

1. Downright, "Say Some Words"
2. De La Soul, "Take It Off"
3. Q-Tip, "Things U Do"
4. Underworld, "Dirty Epic" (dirty guitar mix)
5. The Smiths, "How Soon Is Now?"
6. Busta Rhymes, "Survival Hungry"
7. Jimi Hendrix, "Foxy Lady"
8. Big Country, "In a Big Country"
9. Bananarama, "Cruel Summer"
10. Bent, "Swollen"

And that's pretty much it -- except for, as I promised, the single greatest thing to have ever appeared on the Internets. Which, via TBogg, Shakespeare's Sister, and probably Kevin Bacon, is . . .

. . . this.

Sound is pretty NSFW for the most part, so pop in your headphones, turn up the volume, and repeat after me, bitch: I come in the name of the Lord.

Thursday, April 27

Girls who are boys who like boys to be girls who do boys like they're girls who . . .

Nope, still wouldn't do him.

In spite of her radically conservative leanings -- which would lead one to think that she's in favor of as small and streamlined a government as possible -- Ann Coulter has been doing everything in her power to gum up the wheels of bureuacracy lately. First she voted in the wrong precinct in a February election in Florida, claiming to live at an address currently being occupied by someone else. Now, courtesy of Matt Lavine, we get news that Coulter neglected to answer question number 15 on her Palm Beach County voter-registration form, an odd omission given the simplicity of the question -- it simply asks the gender of the prospective voter.

Even once you get past the "Ergh, I wouldn't want to check her box, either" jokes I'm sure some of y'all are already making, this is worth at least a chuckle, given how many lefties (including Yours Truly) have made snarky comments about Coulter's, er, somewhat mannish appearance. But as you dig deeper, the plot thickens. There's a long-standing controversy over the issue of Coulter's age -- while living in Washington, D.C., a few years ago, Coulter obtained a D.C. driver's license listing her birthday as December 8, 1963, while a previous license she had used in her home state of Connecticut listed her birthday as December 8, 1961.

OK, tinfoil-hat conspiracy time. Let's say, just as a "what-if," that Ann Coulter was actually born a man in 1961. But as this young boy -- we'll call him "Andy," just for poops and giggles -- grows up and matures (in a physical sense, if not an emotional one), he decides that, man! he feels like a woman, and upon turning 18, decides to get a sex change before he heads off to Cornell. He gets transgendered, forms a new identity for him/herself, and over the course of fashioning this new identity as "Ann," decides, you know what? Why not just lop two years off her age in the process, just to feel a little younger and stave off that 40th-birthday milestone for a couple more years.

Why not, indeed.

As the linked Washington Post article (from 2002) mentions, Coulter "frequently scorches hapless reporters who dare write that she's no longer in her thirties," which would seem to indicate that this is a touchy subject for her. And strangely for a woman -- well, a normal, well-adjusted woman, at least -- Ann Coulter seems to hate women. She's repeatedly said women are "not that bright," told Bill Maher that "women have no capacity to understand how money is earned," and has suggested on more than one occasion that women shouldn't have the right to vote. So we know that not only is Coulter's past a little muddled, not only is she cagey about revealing her gender, but she also appears to dislike, or at the very least seem rather keen on distancing herself from, other women.

Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to.

Tuesday, April 25

Great moments in Clausen family history.

(Inspired by stuff posted at Georgia Sports Blog and Every Day Should Be Saturday.)

January 9, 1981: Casey James Clausen is born in Northridge, California, after 39 hours of labor. The Clausen child later says he could've popped out in under 24, but his mom didn't push hard enough.

June 29, 1982: Rick Clausen is born in Thousand Oaks, California. Doctors later inform the baby's anguished parents that their son will never have a full head of hair.

September 1987: Jimmy Clausen is born in Thousand Oaks, California. Doctors are shocked to deliver a newborn that not only has a full head of hair, but whose hair is full of a substance later found out to be Alberto VO5 hair gel.

September 23, 2000: Casey Clausen plays his first game for the Tennessee Volunteers, going 12-of-15 for 133 yards and three touchdowns in a surprise 70-3 win over juggernaut Louisiana-Monroe. Though only a freshman, Clausen takes it upon himself to launch the "Clausen for Heisman" campaign immediately following the game by staying up all night making photocopies at the UT student center.

October 7, 2000: Just two weeks after his UL-Monroe triumph, Clausen struggles mightily through a 5-of-11, 40-yard, 1-INT performance against the Georgia Bulldogs; it is Georgia's first win over Tennessee in a decade. A furious Clausen vows revenge.

October 6, 2001: Clausen goes 24-of-40 for 295 yards, 2 TDs and a pick but still loses to the Georgia Bulldogs and their true-freshman QB David Greene, Georgia's first win at Tennessee since the Herschel Walker era. A furious Clausen vows revenge.

December 8, 2001: Near-certain triumph turns to heartbreak as horrible irony threatens to rend the Clausen family in twain. With Casey Clausen at the helm, Tennessee takes a 17-10 lead over LSU in the SEC championship game, but the plucky-underdog LSU Tigers -- who count true freshman Rick Clausen among their number -- upset the Vols 31-20. Rick Clausen will be the only member of the Clausen family to ever earn an SEC championship ring.

December 22, 2001: Police are called to the Clausen family's California home to break up a domestic dispute between Rick and Casey. Rick apparently caught Casey wearing his SEC ring, and when Casey refused to take it off, insisting he needed more time to pose before his bedroom mirror, a fracas ensued. Rick later declines to press charges, but the bad blood continues to simmer.

October 12, 2002: Having suffered an injured shoulder the previous week against Arkansas, Casey Clausen can only sit on the sidelines and watch as his Tennessee Volunteers fall to the Bulldogs a third straight time, 18-13. Afterward, Clausen announces, "If I'd played in that game, we would have won by at least a couple of touchdowns . . . I could have played on one arm and we probably could have definitely beat Georgia."

February 2003: After once again spying Casey wearing his SEC championship ring, Rick Clausen transfers to Tennessee so that he can keep tabs on his older brother full-time.

(Courtesy The Anti-Orange Page.)

October 11, 2003: Trailing the Georgia Bulldogs 13-7, Casey Clausen is preparing to hand off just seconds before halftime when he fumbles, with both arms, near the goal line; Georgia safety Sean Jones picks up the ball and races 92 yards for a game-changing touchdown. Clausen proceeds to throw two interceptions in the third quarter, both of which are turned into touchdowns, as Georgia rolls to a 41-14 win, Tennessee's worst home defeat in nearly a decade. A furious Clausen vows revenge, then remembers that he will be graduating the following spring and will not be able to play Georgia again.

April 25, 2004: The 2004 NFL draft passes without a single team selecting Casey Clausen. He is signed as an undrafted free agent the next day by the Kansas City Chiefs, but a sheepish Lynn Stiles, the Chiefs' vice president of football operations, later admits that they thought they were actually drafting Rick. "I mean, that guy's got an SEC championship ring," Stiles explains.

August 31, 2004: Casey Clausen is waived by the Kansas City Chiefs.

August 5, 2005: Casey takes a position as a graduate assistant with the Mississippi State football team. Of the many news stories on this hiring, close to 99 percent go out of their way to mention Casey's little brother Jimmy as one of the nation's hottest high-school QB prospects.

October 8, 2005: Rick Clausen fails in his attempt to avenge his older brother's three losses to the Georgia Bulldogs as the Vols lose at home to the Dawgs a third straight time, 27-14.

April 22, 2006: Jimmy Clausen, who has not played a single down of college football, steps out of a white Hummer stretch limousine at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana, to announce that he will be signing with Notre Dame. Attendees are alarmed at Clausen's physical condition, fearing he had either stuck his tongue in an electric socket or been assaulted by a roving gang of gay hairdressers, but are nevertheless elated at the announcement.

April 25, 2006: Georgia, Florida, and other college-football fans around the country look at each other, make the jerk-off gesture with their hands, and snicker.

Sunday, April 23

In defense of deFalcons.

The NFL draft is coming up next weekend, and the punditry is a-flyin'. Earlier this week Paul Westerdawg gave his endorsement to an AJC column by Terrence Moore questioning why, if the University of Georgia consistently pumps out so much top-notch NFL talent, the Atlanta Falcons don't draft more Bulldogs. (Moore restrained himself from proposing that this was due to some kind of racism on the Falcons' part, which is amazing enough by itself.) A few days later, fellow Dawgblogger (and Bloggerpalooza diehard) T. Kyle King basically said he was fine with the situation because, well, he wouldn't wish the Falcons on anyone, much less a Bulldog.

I can't argue with too much of what Mayor King said, because, well, clearly the Falcons have their problems. Given that they've never had back-to-back winning seasons in the going-on-40-year history of the franchise, consistency and maintaining momentum would seem to be chief among those. But "the most futile franchise in all of professional sports"? Mmmm . . . I don't know about that. Certainly the case for über-futility could have been made throughout most of the '80s and '90s -- from 1981 to 1997, they went 98-165-1 and had only three winning seasons, one of which was the strike-shortened '82 campaign. But since then they've gone 63-64-1 (OK, still below .500, but a whole lot better), gotten into the playoffs three times (earning a 4-3 postseason record), and managed to draft (and hold on to) one of the most exciting (and most popular) players in the league. Michael Vick may not be Brett Favre, but the fact that the Falcons have managed not to fuck things up and lose Vick the way they lost Favre. Faint praise, yes, but . . . well, they're learning.

Anyway, this started out as a comment on T. Kyle's blog but I decided it needed to be a whole post, because if you're looking for historic professional-sports futility, you can do much, much worse than the Falcons. Here are some franchises that make the Dirty Birds look like the Ruth-era Yankees:

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays. It may sound unfair to pick on one of major-league baseball's newest teams, but the modern-day MLB environment is such that a team can go from expansion franchise to surprise World Series winner in just five years, so the D-Rays (est. 1998) have had more than enough time to at least become competitive. But not only have the Rays never finished a season above .500, they've only finished four of their eight seasons above .400. Only once have they finished a season anywhere other than 5th out of five in the AL East (in 2004, they finished 4th), and in the history of the franchise, they've only gotten to spend 59 total days with a winning record. Plus, as my homey Larry once pointed out, their logo is the straight-up cheese.

The Arizona Cardinals. The Cards have logged the same number of winning seasons in the past 40 years as the Falcons have -- 10 -- but it's a matter of which direction the teams appear to be moving in. Since moving to sexy, saucy Phoenix in 1988, the Cardinals have had only one winning season (1998, also the year of their only playoff appearance) and have barely even sniffed .500 since then. Outside of that '98 campaign, they've had only seven seasons in which either their offense or defense managed to so much as finish in the top half of the league, yardage-wise. People in Atlanta love to talk about what a lousy franchise the Falcons are, but I doubt that even one of them would trade with the folks in Arizona if given the opportunity.

The Los Angeles Clippers. Thirty-five years, six playoff appearances, five winning seasons, 'nuff said. To put it another way, they're even worse than the godawful Atlanta Hawks. In 21 years in L.A., they've only finished higher than fourth place in the Pacific Division twice.

The New Orleans Saints. I hate to pile on a team that didn't get to play a single home game last season, but the Saints' history of rampant suckage dates back long before they had Hurricane Katrina to blame their problems on. The Saints came into existence one year after the Falcons did (1967), but while the Falcons had worked their way up to a winning record by 1971, the Ain'ts didn't finish above .500 until the 21st year of their franchise. They did go through a brief period of competitiveness in the late '80s and early '90s, finishing at .500 or better in seven of Jim Mora Sr.'s 11 seasons as head coach, but it's been mostly futility since, and ex-coach Jim Haslett's unique ability to finish at 8-8 has been about the biggest thing they've had to hang their hats on in the past few years. They're one of only five teams in the NFL to have never gone to a Super Bowl, and that will probably still be an accurate statement this time next year (at which point, I'll bet cash money, they will be called the Los Angeles Saints). On the other hand, they did spawn Mora's famous "diddly-poo" tirade back in 1996, which is more entertaining than most of what the Falcons have accomplished in the last 40 years.

The Milwaukee Brewers. You'd think that a team owned by the freakin' commissioner of major-league baseball might somehow find a way to not suck, but the statistics don't lie: The Brewers have been around for going on 38 seasons now and have only made the playoffs twice, and only have 10 winning seasons to their credit (plus two seasons finished at exactly .500, if that's the kind of thing that blows your skirt up). Given how utterly devoid of high-profile achievement (or players) this team has been in the last 38 years, I'd be willing to bet there were plenty of people who came out of the movie "Mr. 3000" thinking the Brewers were a fictional team. Of course, in my more vindictive moments, I'd say this kind of apathy is precisely what Bud Selig deserves.

So that's at least five pro franchises I'd have to say are notably worse overall than the Falcons, and that's not even counting pro hockey or soccer, which I know dick about. (If you're up on either of those sports and want to throw in some nominees of your own in the comments thread, feel free.)

All this aside, however, there is one thing that T. Kyle and I can agree wholeheartedly on, and that is that the Georgia gymnastics team -- who won the national title and capped off a perfect 36-0 season Friday night -- is fudging awesome. If we're talking about barometers of success for athletic teams, then seven national titles, 28 individual championships (including four individual all-around champions) and 15 SEC titles would seem to be pretty unassailable by anyone's standards. Previously Paul Westerdawg had implied that Gym Dawgs head coach Suzanne Yoculan might be the Steve Spurrier of college gymnastics, but T. Kyle says he might have been mistaken -- why not just call her the Bear Bryant? Works for me.

"She can take her'n and beat your'n, and then she can turn around and take your'n and beat her'n."

ADDED: As long as I'm giving mad props to Georgia people, please for you to be welcoming Dodgy at Best, the sports blog of fellow Dawg fan Kanu, to the blogroll. And if you're a diehard Georgia fan with an iPod, do not hesitate to follow his link to the Larry Munson Web site and start downloading Munson's classic calls like there's no tomorrow.

Friday, April 21

As an airplane geek, I am now insanely jealous.

When I first read that someone was turning an old Boeing 747 into a house, I was extremely envious. As it turns out, the project isn't quite as cool as I first thought it was -- they're not just taking an old 747 fuselage and plopping it down on someone's property, they're taking they thing apart and building a house out of the parts. And the rough computer rendering of the house design doesn't show a lot of recognizable 747 design touches in the final product. Still, though, it qualifies as "awesome" in my book. I've never actually flown on one, but the 747 has still been my favorite plane ever since I was a little kid.

But if I'm ever gonna do this myself, I guess I'm gonna have to build my house out of an even bigger airplane to top this first one. The logical choice is an Airbus A380, but those haven't even entered regular commercial service yet, much less completed their life spans and been scrapped -- besides, I want a good ol' American airplane, not some hoity-toity European plane. The Boeing C-17 would be the logical choice, then, but again, it's gonna be a while before the Air Force starts getting rid of those. How about a C-5 Galaxy? It's big, it's spacious, and plus, I hear the Air Force has an airframe they might be looking to unload sometime in the very near future. What do you think, sirs?

Look, it's even pre-broken-up and everything! I think I'll put my bedroom in the cockpit.

Friday Random Ten and some additional weekend-activity suggestions.

The weekend is almost upon us, and I'll be staying in town and occupying my own apartment and my own bed for the first weekend in probably more than a month. I will be celebrating this welcome change of pace by . . . sitting on my ass and doing nothing. Other than probably laundry. Good times.

Well, that's not entirely true. Tonight I'm going to see "American Dreamz," which I've heard both good and bad about, so . . . we'll see. Political-commentary-wise, I'm not expecting anything close to the bad-assedness of "V for Vendetta," but it looks like it should at least be funny.

OK, here's the Ten:

1. Pet Shop Boys, "Can You Forgive Her?" (MK remix)
2. Rx, "Sunday Bloody Sunday"
3. Eric B. and Rakim, "Don't Sweat the Technique"
4. Nanci Griffith, "Fragile"
5. Radiohead, "I Will (No Man's Land)"
6. DJ Shadow, "High Noon"
7. Oasis, "Fuckin' in the Bushes"
8. The Chemical Brothers, "Pioneer Skies"
9. David Bowie, "Hallo Spaceboy"
10. Thievery Corporation, "The Oscillator"

By the way, if you're looking for other stuff to do this weekend, here's something my mom heard on NPR and that we got to try (twice) when I was home for Easter last week. Buy a two-liter bottle of diet soda -- you can get Diet Coke if you want, or just the generic supermarket-brand equivalent, it doesn't matter, but find one at room temperature if possible -- and a box/roll of Mentos. Open the soda and put it on the ground, preferably in an open spot outside. Roll up a piece of paper and load it with at least 12 Mentos, then dump all the Mentos into the bottle. What you will get is an impressive geyser of soda that can reach as high as 10 feet or more. (I took a short video of this with my digital camera, and I'd post it up here if I could figure out a way to do that.) It's kind of cool having a mom who encourages such shenanigans.

Of course, if you're really hurting for weekend jollies, you could always try this . . . but I wouldn't recommend it. Here's my question: if a guy who looks like that shows up at your door and says, "Want a breast exam?", how long (to the nearest millisecond) would it take you to say "Fuck no"?

Wednesday, April 19

Yet another list I'm glad I'm not on.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief upon finding out that I wasn't included on The Phoenix's list of "The 100 Unsexiest Men in the World." Lord knows it was probably touch-and-go there for a while -- if they got so much as a hint of my recent dating history, they'd probably have to assume the worst.

Yet I couldn't help but be surprised at some other omissions. OK, I can grudgingly concede their "power is sexy" rationale for not having Dick Cheney (and, I can only assume, Karl Rove) on there, but what's their excuse for leaving these guys off?:

Scott McClellan. Maybe I'm wrong for piling on Sucka MC on the day he resigned from his post as White House press secretary, but let's be honest here -- this guy belongs in Webster's next to the entry for "doughy." He looks like the guy who isn't especially bright or social, isn't well-liked by chicks, and spends most of his time at parties passed out on the couch, but still got into the frat because his dad knew a guy who knew a guy. On the other hand, his "Rain Main" impression is killer.

Phil Fulmer. What can I say about Tennessee's head football coach that hasn't already been said -- or that would be as simultaneously funny and accurate as the description offered by the AJC's Jeff Schultz a few years ago: a "tangerine with ears." Also the purveyor of some of the most unfortunate sweat stains in college athletics.

Russell Crowe. All the doughiness of Scotty McClellan, with the addition of a truly obnoxious attitude and the constant nagging suspicion that he may not have bathed in the past week. Seriously, ladies -- you actually found this guy attractive at some point? Was it the gladiator costume?

Brent H. Baker. You're probably looking at this photo and thinking, "Jeez, looks like the kind of guy who does nothing but sit inside and watch TV all day." Well, guess what! As "vice president for research and publications" at the right-wing scoldapalooza Media Research Center, Baker gets bankrolled by deep-pocketed and empty-headed right-wingers to do precisely that. Makes Ben Stein look like Jude Law.

Ann Coulter. Even if I was gay, I wouldn't do him.

Michael Flatley. Relatively speaking, he's still famous enough that we can still make fun of him, right? We can? Oh good. His latest show is called "Celtic Tiger," which, in the words of Dave Attell, is "partly queer with a chance of fag." I also blame Flatley for spawning the whole metrosexual chest-waxing fad.

Now it's time to play everybody's least favorite game,
Which Nutcase Said . . . ?

Obviously there's been a lot of talk lately about Iran, their nuclear ambitions, and how their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (above left), is supposedly so crazy that when shithouse rats see him they cross over to the other side of the street and whisper, "Yo, that nigga crazy." But how crazy is he? Crazier than America's home-grown nutcases? If he is, it may not be by much. Below are ten unattributed quotes, and it's your job to decide whether they were spoken by Ahmadinejad or by an American whack job like, say, Pat Robertson (above right). See if you can name the nutcase without clicking on the link. Good luck!

"Israel must be wiped off the map."

"Today, you are among the world's most powerful armies because you rely on God."

"My friends, this election is about much more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe. . . . There is a religious war going on in our country . . . It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself."

"What we saw on [September 11] . . . could be miniscule if, in fact, God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve. . . . God will not be mocked."

"The issue of Palestine is not one which we could compromise on."

"I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol. . . . We in the army of God, in the house of God, kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this."

"He [Ariel Sharon] was dividing God's land, and I would say, 'Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America.' "

"Homosexual conduct is, and has been, considered abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature's God upon which this nation and our laws are predicated."

"The army must always be equipped and ready, and have mastered the latest technology, to respond to any aggression. We want peace, security and progress for all people, in particular the countries of the region and our neighbours."

"We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them."

BONUS QUESTION: Of the two nutcases pictured at the top of this post, which one advocated striking parts of Washington, D.C., with a nuclear weapon?

Monday, April 17

Monday Mystery Meat: Now with 45% more phosphates and fillers!

· A week ago I got to meet blogger T. Kyle King, whom I'd never met before, in person, but that was a pre-arranged (in the loosest sense of the word) meeting. On Friday I met a fellow blogger completely by chance, and she just happens to be a frequent commenter here -- and Blue Gal deserves props for two other reasons besides that: One, she showed up at the weekly angry liberals' lunch set up by members of the Over the Mountain Democrats, and two, she has the courage to be a bleeding-heart liberal in deepest, darkest Shelby County. Oh, and here's a third reason -- she was nice to me in spite of the fact that I've been neglecting to frickin' link her all this time. My apologies -- I honestly thought I had a link on here someplace, but I am an idiot savant, and my HTML skills belong in the "idiot" part of that description. To make amends, Blue Gal gets official Friend Of Hey Jenny Slater status, with the traditional $45 fee waived.

· I would just like to say I'm really glad Delta isn't going bankrupt (yet). I just hope they've learned their lesson about throwing monstrous salaries at CEOs who apparently can't find their asses with both hands and a map. (If they have learned this lesson, maybe they'd like to share it with the Bush administration.)

Above, Rumsfeld does his killer Robert McNamara impression . . . oh, wait, he's been doing that for five years now.

· Speaking of successful dealmaking, this is absolutely my new favorite game show, to the point where I managed to get my entire family hooked on it in the course of a single evening. For a concept so diabolically simple, it gets quite exciting in the later rounds; experience it for yourself, or just waste some valuable time at work, here. (And since I know you care, my favorite model is a tie between Anya and Lanisha.)

Not Slovak, but she'll do.

· EDSBS and Paul Westerdawg both brought news this past week of a new Birmingham-based college bowl game that could start as early as next year -- assuming that the NCAA doesn't look at Birmingham's lengthy history of failed bowl games, pro-football franchises, and what and have you and decide that they'd be better off just wiping their asses with $1.5 million in crisp hundreds and flushing them down the toilet. In response to Westerdawg's question, yes, Legion Field does have a working upper deck, but only on the west side of the stadium. They had to take down the one on the east side because it was, uh, structurally unsound (as opposed to the rest of the stadium, which is merely aesthetically unsound). However, this does have the unintended bonuses of 1) offering a nice view of the B'ham skyline at night and 2) making otherwise sparsely attended games appear more crowded. Anyway, it's no worse an idea than the fricking Humanitarian Bowl or whatever they're calling it these days.

· Madame Tussaud's added a new wax figure of Lindsay Lohan last week -- or thought they did, until the wax-figure factory accidentally sent Stockard Channing instead.

I can practically hear her henpecking President Jed Bartlet already!

· As for celebrities worth actually giving a shit about (and who don't make Jessica Simpson cry), Sean Connery is rumored to have a cameo in "Casino Royale," the next Bond film due out this November. I'd always thought it would be really cool for a Bond movie to one day feature Connery as the Big Villain, but this is the next best thing, I guess. Though I'm finding myself hoping that Connery's "Casino Royale" character is a drunk gambler who causes a commotion by asking the baccarat dealer for "'The Rapists' for four hundred" and, when summarily rebuffed, calls the dealer a "beef-witted applejohn."

I don't know what diabolical plot the actual villain of "Casino Royale" has up his sleeve, but I hope it doesn't affect Jap-Anus relations.

· Still, my Dirty Little Secret of '06 (besides the fact that I heart figure skating is the fact that "Casino Royale" is probably only my number-two most anticipated movie of the year. The number-one movie, the movie I'm looking forward to more eagerly than any other, the one I'm most likely to be camped out in front of the theatre for days in advance of the actual release date, is . . . this.

Thursday, April 13

[Almost] Everything you ever wanted to know about *nuke-you-ler weapons* but were (understandably) afraid to ask.

Castle Bravo: Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, March 1, 1954.

I hope nobody gets too freaked out by this, but I've had a long-standing fascination with nuclear weapons. That's a fascination, you understand, not a fetish: I hope to God we never ever use one again, and that one never ever gets used on us, but that said, I still find it immensely fascinating that any human being or group of human beings could have ever packed such awesome destructive force into such a comparatively small object. I've watched videos of the Operation Ivy and Operation Castle thermonuclear test detonations, and as awe-inspiring as those explosions are even in a tiny QuickTime viewing window, I can only imagine the mix of emotions I would've felt had I been standing there in 1952 or 1954 witnessing them in person.

I mention this because of the recent and much-publicized New Yorker article in which Seymour Hersh quotes numerous government officials who believe that a full-scale military operation against Iran may be in the offing. It's worrisome enough that we're already planning for a third full-scale attack in less than five years without having brought stability to the first two countries we invaded (Afghanistan and Iraq), but to me, at least, it's altogether terrifying that people are talking about using tactical nuclear weapons in such an operation, which would basically be the first instance in history in which a nuclear first strike had been leveled against a country that did not provoke it.

As Tristero alludes to in the post "How To Make A Tactical Nuclear Weapon," the qualifier "tactical," particularly when used in reference to a very useful, utilitarian-sounding weapon like a "bunker buster," seems to have the effect of making some people believe that it really isn't that big a deal. Technically, there is a difference between tactical nuclear weapons and the strategic nuclear weapons that were used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki and thus have pretty much defined our perception of nuclear weapons for the past 60 years; however, the discrepancy is largely arbitrary, and has much more to do with intent and strategy than with the actual design of the weapon itself. Theoretically, you could take a warhead that had been designed or classified for whatever reason as a strategic weapon, come up with a more specific military target for it, and abracadabra, now it's merely "tactical." Though merely, as I hope to explain, would be a poor choice of words indeed.

The "bunker-busting" tactical nuke that Hersh's piece specifically cites as a possible weapon of choice is the B61-11, also known as the B-61 Mod 11, which you can read about here. As the article says, this tactical weapon can carry a nuclear yield ranging from less than a kiloton to several hundred kilotons; conventional wisdom dictates that anything under a megaton can be called a tactical nuclear weapon. But what does all this mean?

First of all, it means that as bunker-busters go, the B61-11 can do considerably more damage to a bunker than, say, Tiger Woods.

Here's the part where I get to drop some science I've been wanting to talk about on this blog for a while now, some info I found endlessly fascinating, and more than a little scary, when I was researching all this stuff a few years ago. A kiloton is the basic unit of measurement in determining the yield, or destructive force, of a nuclear weapon; a one-kiloton (kt) bomb would explode with the destructive force of roughly 1,000 tons of TNT, a 12-kt bomb would be equivalent to 12,000 tons of TNT, and so on.

A megaton, as you can probably guess, is an order of magnitude bigger than a kiloton -- one megaton (Mt) equals 1,000 kilotons, or one million tons of TNT. Theoretically, then, it would be possible to have a gigaton weapon, or the equivalent of one billion tons of TNT, though all the nuclear explosions that have ever occurred on earth "only" add up to a total of 510.4 megatons.

The majority of nuclear weapons in the stockpiles of countries like the United States and Russia are in the hundreds-of-kilotons range. However, the Ivy and Castle nuclear tests the U.S. conducted in the South Pacific in the 1950s included detonations of bombs with yields above 10 megatons; the most powerful device ever detonated by the U.S. was in the Castle Bravo test, which yielded 15 Mt. Seven and a half years later, the Soviets detonated "Tsar Bomba," which had a yield of 50 Mt -- to this day the largest nuclear device, by a wide margin, ever exploded.

Tsar Bomba, the "king of bombs": Novaya Zemlya, Russia, October 30, 1961. The mushroom cloud reached about 60 km into the sky; the shockwave could be detected by seismometers even on its third pass around the earth.

Now, all these measurements still may be a little difficult to conceptualize, so maybe it'll be a little easier if we compare them to the two most famous nuclear detonations in history -- those at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The "Little Boy" device dropped at Hiroshima had a yield now estimated at about 15 kilotons, or 15,000 tons of TNT; the "Fat Man" device dropped on Nagasaki was somewhat more powerful, with a yield of 21 kt. If you look closely at the progression of American and Soviet nuclear development since those first detonations in 1945 (FYI, this site is an excellent place to start doing that), you start to get the impression that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, as horrific as they were, were almost cream puffs compared to some of the artillery we'd be packing later. Do the math and you discover that Ivy Mike, the United States' first successful detonation of a fusion-based thermonuclear device, packed the explosive force of nearly seven hundred Hiroshimas. In this Laughing Boy post, which I credit with having inspired a lot of the research I did into nuclear weapons and their various detonations, he quotes a book that records some of the statements and emotions of America's top nuclear scientists as they witnessed the Ivy Mike shot. Upon viewing the lingering, 135,000-foot-tall, thousand-mile-wide mushroom cloud, some of those scientists started wondering "if things had gone too far." The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was ratified in 1963 based on fears that, among other things, a too-powerful nuclear detonation might accidentally ignite the entire atmosphere.

Hiroshima, Japan, August 6, 1945: A yawner of a fireworks display compared to most of what's in our nuclear stockpile these days.


Hopefully I've already made the point that a nuclear weapon, any nuclear weapon -- whether it's a big-daddy multi-megaton "strategic" device or something that folks at the Pentagon try to minimize as just a "tactical" nuke -- is some serious shit. But just to make sure there's no misunderstanding, let's go back to that original Hiroshima explosion, which was 15 kilotons. Those in the know about the B61-11 "bunker buster" project say that it can be loaded up with anywhere from <1 kt to many hundreds of kilotons, but again going back to the article, the government has stated that only 10 kilotons is probably not enough to "survive penetration into many types of terrain in which hardened underground facilities are located." What this means is that if we're going to wield a B61-11 with any efficacy against the underground nuclear-research targets Hersh talks about attacking, it'll probably have to pack considerably more than 10 kilotons of force -- meaning we'll be using bombs, "tactical" or no, that are more powerful than what we dropped on Japan in 1945. The consequences of which, of course, will be enormous.

So let's be very clear about this: Whether or not the Bush administration can make the case that invading Iran is a necessary option, whether we attack the entire country of Iran or just the particularly evil-looking military ones, whether or not we restrict our use of nuclear weapons to tactical bunker-busters, if we drop a B61-11 on an Iranian nuclear facility, we will at that point be involved in a nuclear war. That's the reality, folks. So whatever else is said over the course of the discussions this country will have with respect to an invasion of Iran, I certainly hope nobody will be foolish enough to say that it won't be that big a deal, or that all we have to do is throw a few B61-11s into a few nuclear-research facilities and boom, problem solved. Problem solved? Problem created, kiddo. Because at that point, not only will we still be the only country in the world to have ever used a nuclear weapon against another country, we will also have earned the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world to have launched an unprovoked nuclear first strike against another country. No ifs, ands, or buts about it -- if we do this, that's what we'll be.

I can only hope that with this knowledge, America as a whole will be more circumspect about this potential invasion of Iran than they were about Iraq. As one commenter pointed out, the American public is pretty sour on Bush's handling of the Iraq situation right now, so I'm not too worried about the general populace suddenly getting a hankering to go bomb the crap out of another country. The Bush administration, however, is gonna do what the Bush administration is gonna do, and if any administration in the history of this country has proven itself to be incapable of learning from its mistakes, it's this one. Before, the question "Do you trust these guys with their finger on the nuclear button?" was one that could be shrugged off as that's-probably-never-gonna-happen irrelevant, but that's looking less and less like the case now.

Let's all be very clear and un-misinformed about the stakes here, kids. It's bad enough that we as a country were overly blasé about Iraq, carelessness that we have paid for with a miserable quagmire in that country and nearly 2,400 flag-draped coffins. But if we swagger toward Teheran with that same sort of nonchalance, the consequences will be immeasurably worse.

Your turn.

I had a big post in mind about Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article on what he claims are the Bush administration's plans to wage war on Iran, as well as the possible consequences of such an attack -- particularly if nuclear weapons are involved. But I'm still trying to figure out what I want to say about that, so in the meantime I'll turn it over to y'all. Consider this a semi-open thread to discuss the following questions:

1. Do you think the possibility of an attack on Iran is real?

2. Do you think such an attack is (or will be) necessary, and would you be in favor of it?

3. Do you think there is credibility to the fear that the U.S. might use tactical nuclear weapons in such an attack, and if so, does that influence in any way your answer to #2?

Let's try and keep this civil and ad-hominem-free -- and on topic. I'm really interested in finding out what people are thinking about this, or if they're thinking anything at all.

Monday, April 10

Football in April? Why, that's like Christmas in . . . well, April.

As promised, here's my rundown on the G-Day game. While we were sitting there in the stands watching the proceedings, Kyle, Travis, Ann and I discussed at length the ramifications of watching some guys from your own team play some other guys from your own team, and the paradox that results when someone makes a really terrific play. Like, does that mean that the guy who just scored is really good, or that the guy who was supposed to cover him is just really bad? I don't know enough to make too many judgments on all that, but here's what I saw:

The Good: Tradition holds that after the conclusion of the G-Day game, the winning team gets steak and lobster, while the losing team has to make do with franks and beans. This year, though, they might've done well to just give out steak and lobster to anyone who played on defense, who were almost uniformly terrific. The Red team, who won 14-10, scored all their points on interception returns -- an 80-yarder from Ramarcus Brown and a 100-something-yarder out of the end zone from Asher Allen -- and while I certainly wouldn't expect the Dawgs' opponents this year to throw nearly as many interceptions as our QBs did on Saturday (more on that later), I still think our secondary is going to be in good hands (Paul Oliver being yet another potential superstar). There was also some terrific work from linemen Kade Weston and Charles Johnson, who had two sacks apiece; I read a description of Johnson as "a man among boys" the other day, but that's not quite accurate. Take all the men in the world who could be described as "men among boys," and Johnson would be a man among those men. Or a titan among men, let's say. Having him and the great Quentin Moses at DE this season is going to be immense fun to watch; I look forward to the Gigantic D-Line Pincers of Death pureeing many an opposing QB.

And while the offense wasn't quite as inspiring, as the final score would tend to indicate, there were some bright spots, one of the most obvious being OMG hott QB Matt Stafford. If your very first pass culminates in a 64-yard touchdown, either you're pretty talented, the coaching staff has plenty of confidence in you, or both, and that can't hurt. Kregg Lumpkin broke off some impressive runs, as did Jason Johnson, and Tripp Chandler, with 98 yards on the day, took a pretty good swipe at becoming the next in Georgia's long line of elite-level tight ends.

The Bad: Well, Matt Stafford may have put in a wow performance, but the same cannot be said for his chief competitors for the starting job. Joe Tereshinski, lord love 'im, just never got into much of a rhythm, and completed as many passes to the opposing team (two) as he did to his own; Joe Cox probably moved the ball more consistently than any of the others, but he killed drive after drive with ill-timed picks. The AJC's Bulldog fanblogger, Bill King, had an interesting and somewhat less negative take on all this -- to wit, the altered rules for G-Day (if a defenseman so much as got a hand on a QB, it was considered a sack and the play was blown dead) likely incited Cox and Tereshinski to get rid of the ball earlier than they would have under normal game conditions. That makes some sense to me, but six picks (seven if you count one of Cox's that was mysteriously wiped off the books in weirdly Orwellian fashion) is still nothing to get excited about. Richt has been insisting that Tereshinski has been doing fine in practice, but this has still got to be considered a wide-open QB race. Neither Thomas Brown nor Danny Ware got much consistent production in their limited playing time, but Ware was probably the more disappointing of the two, spending too much time running east-west and not seeming to hit the hole with the kind of intensity he did when he was wowing fans as a true freshman in '04.

The Ugly: Aside from the tailgating weather, you mean? Well, the above picture pretty much sums it up. Martrez Milner (87) can be seen tackling somebody, which, given that Milner is a tight end, should be considered unusual; I don't know what the exact circumstances of this play were, but if the rest of Milner's performance Saturday is anything to go by, he was probably tackling the opposing DB who actually caught the ball after it whistled harmlessly through Milner's fingers. Martrez dropped at least two easily catchable passes in a fashion distressingly similar to that of the Dawgs' first play from scrimmage against Florida last season; he's gonna have to do better than that, particularly with fellow TE Chandler looking as good as he did. Then again, it's not like Milner was the only one doing a good impression of someone who'd just plunged his hands into a tub of Crisco. A fellow sitting behind us summed it up best: "Might be time for Eason to haul out the tennis-ball machine again."

And then there was the first extra-point try of the game, in which Asher Allen got a little excited, forgot the no-contact-on-the-kicker rule, and nailed Andy Bailey hard enough to put Bailey writhing on the ground for a few moments. I mean, Bailey's not our starting PK, but still. I hope Allen was kind enough to switch meals with him that evening.

The Verdict: Well, again, you can't tell much from an arbitrary setting like this, but it still seems pretty clear that nobody's exactly busted out in the QB race yet. Based on what I'm hearing from Athens, Tereshinski is still the most likely to get the starting job come September, but between his reputation and his obvious talent, Stafford could really push him, and if he shines in some of the Dawgs' early gimme games, look out. I'm still hoping Lumpkin gets a chance to be the Dawgs' number-one ball carrier, and I'm looking forward to seeing if Chandler can perform as well in an actual game setting as he did on Saturday.

And the defense? Well, they fittin'a ride on some bitches. Goes without saying.

Other takes are available from fellow Bloggerpalooza diehard Kyle King and Paul Westerdawg at Georgia Sports, who are also kind enough to offer huzzahs for the Gym Dogs, who posterized the competition in their regional meet and are still #1 with an armor-piercing hollow-point bullet going into the national finals. Two straight national titles? As the Magic 8-Ball would say, signs point to yes.

Or as Paris Hilton would say: That's hott. Championships start a week from Thursday.

Bloggerpawhatever '06: A good time was had by all four.

By now you may have read an inaccurate and, quite frankly, bizarre post by Kyle King purporting to describe the events of our attempt to throw a bloggers' tailgate before the G-Day game last Saturday in Athens. For reasons I cannot attempt to explain, Kyle elected to post a pack of scurrilous lies rather than the truth, which is as follows:

Yes, the weather Saturday morning started out terrible. Yes, our group was small in numbers at first. But while my sister, Kyle, his brother-in-law Travis and I were huddling by the Arch underneath our umbrellas, wondering what to do, none other than Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer author Warren St. John showed up. Warren had been extended an invitation to participate, but we hadn't known for sure whether he would show until he pulled up in his massive RV on Broad Street, asking us where we were planning on setting up. We all hopped into the RV and drove around looking for a spot, and who did we see standing on the corner of Broad and Jackson but "College Gameday" fan favorite Kirk Herbstreit. Kirk, it turns out, was in town working on an in-depth piece about Georgia's quarterback race, and he accepted our invitation to climb aboard the RV and join the tailgate.

Herbstreit and his producer, Denise Petrella, post-game at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

Since no buses were running on Saturday, we eventually parked the RV in a bus-stop cutout on Jackson Street, right by the main library, and set up our grill, drinks, and other stuff in the bus shelter. We were all set to pop open the champagne Ann and I had brought when UGA's finest pulled up in a Crown Victoria black-and-white, blue lights blazing; we began packing up our tailgate stuff, figuring we were sure to be kicked out of the bus stop, but the cop recognized Herbstreit and started chatting him up about football. Without even having to be asked, Herbstreit hooked the guy up with an autograph, and we were good to go. "If anyone else comes by here wondering what you're doing, just say you cleared it with me," said the officer, whose name I won't reveal here, and he sped off.

So that was awesome enough. But incredibly, it got even better. Just as the rain began to taper off for good, and we started moving our tailgate stuff out into the sunshine, a group of at least a dozen Kappa Deltas from UGA came trudging down toward Jackson Street from the north campus quad. They'd been stood up by the TKEs they were supposed to be tailgating with, they were soaking wet, and they were pissed -- but when they saw Herbstreit (the man is a pimp), their faces just lit up, and we invited them to tailgate with us. We hung out there for about an hour and a half, drinking and eating, talking football, and then headed down to the game. Oh, and I got not one, not two, but three KD phone numbers. It was, needless to say, an awesome morning.

Me with the three KDs who hooked me up with their digits. (I Photoshopped Hugh Hefner's head over mine as a joke, like.)

After the game, Ann and I took Kirk to Five Star Day for a late lunch, and it turned out to be one of the most fortuitous meals I've ever had. Kirk told me that ESPN was taking a big hit among the college-football fan base for some of their programming decisions over the previous football season -- their overemphasis on USC being just one -- and were looking for ways to counteract that. He asked me if I'd be interested in making Hey Jenny Slater an all-college-football blog and having it hosted on as an official ESPN feature. How could I say no?

So all in all, a thoroughly awesome day. Why Kyle chose to omit all of this, just so he could promote his own utterly false account, I have no idea.

Well, no, I do have an idea -- Bloggerpalooza '06 was, for lack of a better word, a bust, due to two primary factors: 1) the horrendous weather, and 2) Yours Truly's contingency planning for the tailgate, which proved to be about as thorough and well-thought-out as the Bush administration's post-invasion strategy for Iraq (which is to say, shitty). You'd think that for an event like this, having, say, a backup plan in case of a torrential downpour, or at the very least a list of potential participants' phone numbers so that people can at least get in touch with each other, would be a good idea, right? Well, I didn't think of any of that. So anyway, it ended up being me, Ann, Kyle, and Travis in the North Campus Parking Deck, pounding fried chicken and Krispy Kremes like it was our job. My apologies to anyone who came looking for us at the Arch and never found us; I did make every effort to wait out there for the stragglers, and nearly got busted three separate times for illegal parking in the process. (Possibly by the same cop, who probably thinks I'm an al-Qaeda sleeper agent by now.)

Still, we enjoyed finally getting to meet each other, stayed dry during the actual game, and actually did have a pretty fun day. I'll have my thoughts on the game itself later on today; I'll have photos whenever I get my camera back, which I left at Ann's apartment on Sunday.

And I promise I'll do a better job of prior planning next year. Or, hell, maybe we won't even have to wait that long. Georgia's baseball team plays the rubber match of its series with Georgia Tech at Turner Field on Wednesday, May 10, at 7 p.m. . . . what do you think, sirs?

Friday, April 7

Friday Random Ten, pre-tailgate edition.

As I write this, the big G-Day Bloggerpalooza tailgate is just barely 24 hours away, and I can't even begin to explain how excited I am about this -- getting to go back to Athens for the first time in five months, getting to finally meet a bunch of my fellow bloggers in person, getting to watch a college football game again, even if it is a meaningless scrimmage between guys on the same team. Call me crazy -- you certainly wouldn't be the first -- but given the choice between free tickets to the NBA Finals and free tickets to the G-Day game, guess what? I'm going to Athens, bitches. Yes, I said it!

Sanford Stadium vs. Auburn Hills: Trust me, the scenery's better down here.

While I try to dig up my CD of fight songs and other stuff by the Georgia Redcoat Marching Band, here's your Ten:

1. Dave Attell, "Fireworks"
2. The Dan Band, "Total Eclipse of the Heart"
3. Happy Mondays, "Lazyitis"
4. R.E.M., "Nightswimming"
5. The Smiths, "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me"
6. Thievery Corporation, "Mañha"
7. Pet Shop Boys, "Yesterday, When I Was Mad" (Coconut 1 remix)
8. Air, "Remember"
9. The John Barry Orchestra, "007"
10. Röyksopp, "Alpha Male"

Throw your own Ten in the comments thread . . . or I suppose you could always just come to the tailgate and tell us in person.

(In other football news . . . hells to the yeah.)

Wednesday, April 5

Of divided loyalties, civic responsibilities, and shitty houseguests.

All of a sudden I forgot what I'd gotten so worked up about . . .

Earlier today, as some of you may know, I was ripped by a regular reader for my remarks in this post in which I declared my pissed-offedness that illegal immigrants would dare to wave Mexican (or Guatemalan, or Nicaraguan, or insert non-U.S. country here) flags while they rallied for amnesty for their illegal-ness. She made some valid points, and look, I'm not going to try and tell you I wrote that post casually, flippantly, and thoughtlessly like I do so much of the other crap I throw up on here. Even as I was hitting the "submit post" button, I was worried that some people might read that and think I was anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, or worse. I know some of the things I said put me a lot closer to the rabid right-wing Brown People Go Home camp than the faithful inclusive left-wing bleeding-heart Doug you've come to know and love (or pity), and I won't act like that didn't worry me.

But I'm not going to retract or apologize for anything I said, either. I will, however, elaborate a little, just so there's no misunderstanding.

The reader who laid into me brought up one of the posts I did back during the Olympics in which I cheered on the Slovakian hockey team -- Slovakia is where my mom's side of the family came from, FYI -- and referred to Slovakia as the "motherland." (You know, even as I was writing the immigration bit, I was thinking, "I'll bet someone's gonna bring up the Slovakian hockey team thing.") You will not be surprised to find that I think there's a difference between that and thousands of illegals waving Mexican flags in the streets, but perhaps I didn't explain that difference well enough the first time.

Before I begin, let me make it very clear that if lovin' Slovakia is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Let's make up a hypothetical American citizen, Juan Ramón, who is originally from, oh, let's say Costa Rica. Juan Ramón came here five years ago, went through the exhausting naturalization runaround, and is now a full-fledged American. He has a 9-to-5 job, and thus pays taxes. He registered with Selective Service just like every other male in America has to do. He's voted in nearly every single election that's been held since he got here. As much of a pain in the ass as it is, he's filling out his 1040 form right now, because that's the law and that's his responsibility. His English isn't perfect yet, but at least he's learning.

Juan Ramón loves soccer, and is thrilled to death that the Costa Rican national team has qualified for the World Cup in June. Not that he's got anything against the American team, but he's rooting for his homeland, and plans to hang a Costa Rican flag off his balcony during the Cup.

You know what? I got no problem with that. Juan Ramón followed all the rules to become an American citizens, he's fulfilled all the responsibilities of American citizenship since then, and with all that in mind, simply hanging a non-U.S. flag out of his apartment isn't enough to make me suspect his loyalty or dedication to his new country.

But contrast this with the people waving Mexican flags in the streets of Los Angeles and San Diego and wherever the hell else. I don't know how many of these folks are American citizens, but it doesn't seem like very many of them are. They're not paying taxes, filling out 1040s, or contributing money to Social Security. They haven't registered with Selective Service. They don't appear to have made much of an attempt to learn the language. As far as I can tell, they've kept up with hardly any of the civic responsibilities that I and every other American citizen have to follow. Not only that, but they want to receive certain benefits from the U.S. government without having paid anything in. So when I see them waving the flag of some other country, I think I have every right to wonder if they're really all that serious about this American-citizenship thing. They haven't come here through established legal channels, they haven't engaged in any of our American civil responsibilities, they're even waving someone else's flag -- on paper, they appear to be no more American than any Japanese tourist who just got off the plane from Tokyo.

Besides, if you've come over here illegally and now want to be considered a full-fledged American citizen, doesn't it seem like just plain bad rhetorical strategy to demand your amnesty, citizenship, whatever in Spanish, while waving the flag of the country you just left? Surely I'm not the only one who sees a disconnect here.

And again, I don't want anyone thinking I'm the least bit pleased about finally having something in common with Michelle fucking Malkin, who, if not the world's biggest racist, is certainly its most ironic. But I can't lie: The Mexican-flag-waving bothers me. Not enough to start knocking heads or spending entire days perched by the Rio Grande with a pair of Bushnells and a thirty-aught-six like those Minutemen knobs, but it bothers me.

And the worst part of this is, I'm very much in favor of a less bureaucratic, more simplified naturalization process. As I said in the comment I left in response to the angry reader's, I've watched people from Croatia, El Salvador, even freaking England come over here, follow every INS rule and regulation to the letter, abide by the law, renew their visas religiously, and contribute to American society in a manner almost befitting that of a religious quest -- and still be denied (or at least delayed in receiving) citizenship by an immigration protocol that moves slower than a senior citizen driving a bulldozer uphill. Through molasses. In January. See, I want more people to come over here and become Americans, not fewer, and I think there's got to be a better way to do this.

But that only begs the question, if we're not willing to make any concessions on behalf of the people who are following the law, why are we just going to grant them to people who willingly broke it? I'm never in favor of any policy that basically says "Yeah, you willingly broke the law, but we'll just let that slide," whether it's being said to a tax cheat, an Enron exec, or an illegal immigrant.

So, to recap: Immigration good, illegal immigration a problem. People who follow the law should get more consideration than people who don't. Waving another country's flag is not a bad thing to do in and of itself, but it depends on the context. Sometimes you're just showing ethnic pride; sometimes you're just being an asshole. I think the L.A. demonstrators fall on the latter side, but your mileage may vary.

I leave you with this scenario. Let's say I'm from New Orleans because my house got destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. Without calling ahead, I show up on your doorstep one evening -- yes, yours, dear reader -- and I'm like, "Hey, it's me, Doug, from Hey Jenny Slater. Yes, the blog you read all the time. My house back in New Orleans is gone, so I was wondering if I could come live with you for a while."

C'mon, look at this face. You'd take me in, right?

You're a little surprised (and taken aback) by all this, but you're a nice guy (or girl) and you want to help me out, so you let me in. I'm eating your food, drinking your beer, using your toothpaste to brush my teeth. (Don't worry, I brought my own toothbrush.) You're generous, and you know I've been through a lot, so you don't raise a big stink about this. Although it does get a little annoying the way I insist on watching "Simpsons" reruns when you want to watch the news -- oh, and forget about watching anything other than football on the weekends ('cause Hurricane Katrina has just happened and this is all going on in the fall, remember). Still, I mow the lawn and do your laundry without complaining, so it seems reasonably fair.

Before too long I've got a day job -- it pays good, not great, but enough that I can buy my own stuff now. Strangely, though, I'm still using your toothpaste. And months later, when you start asking me if I might chip in a little kinda-like-rent-but-not-really money for home upkeep, garden care, re-tiling the bathroom, what have you, I'm like "Yeah, sure" but always manage to conveniently forget about it later.

Now I'm starting to get kind of annoying, right? OK, now imagine that I never actually asked you if I could stay with you, but just snuck into your basement one night and set up shop. And imagine that I took down the Dallas Cowboys flag you had hanging on your front porch . . . and replaced it with one for the Washington Redskins.

Am I or am I not now officially being a dick? I leave this to you, dear reader, to decide.

For a brief, shining moment, I, too, was a bad mutha (shut yo' mouth).

Above: complicated man.

This morning I had to run a magazine proof over to one of my clients -- a semi-urgent errand, I guess, but nothing remotely difficult, controversial, or dangerous -- so I picked up my iPod in preparation for the walk down 8th Avenue, put my headphones in, and hit "Shuffle Songs." The first song that came up? The theme song from "Shaft," by Isaac Hayes.

It's really amazing how the theme song from "Shaft" can completely transform whatever you happening to be doing at the time. Everything becomes braver, more dangerous, more urgent. You feel cooler than you usually do. There's more swagger in your step. For those four minutes, you really do feel like a black private dick who's a sex machine to all the chicks. You are a complicated man, whom no one understands but your woman. (In my case, of course, not having a woman, I am merely complicated man, period, end of sentence.) It's fun.

Like heavy bass, cheerleaders, and bacon, the theme song from "Shaft" improves pretty much anything you could think about adding it to. I feel it is important to salute Isaac Hayes for this. He's been through a lot lately, what with the stroke and the "South Park" dustup and the controversy over statements made on his behalf by Scientology; Scientology may be a crock of poo, but I don't want to let that detract from the awesomeness of Isaac Hayes in any way. For creating this day-transforming song, not to mention giving the wah-wah guitar a shining moment in the sun that has yet to be surpassed or even duplicated, I salute you, sir.

Tuesday, April 4

Tuesday Mystery Meat.

· Needless to say, I'm thrilled about this -- not because DeLay's going to do any jail time, because he won't; he'll pay some fines, maybe do some community service, then get hired as a lobbyist and proceed to earn thousands more per year than he ever did as a congressman. What thrills me about this is the fact that DeLay won the primary in his congressional district and resigned anyway, meaning that someone -- either DeLay or the GOP -- decided they didn't have enough confidence that DeLay could skate past his indictment. (Given the size of DeLay's ego, I'm guessing it was the party.) If nothing else, this shows that the whole "ethics matter" meme has finally gotten to the Republicans. On the one hand, yes, I realize this deprives the Democrats of an easy (and very high-profile) punching bag, but I think it's worth it to puncture the air of invincibility surrounding the Republican leadership, and to send a message to the country that yes, corruption and abuse of power does get punished every once in a while.

· But I'm even more excited about the above single, "I'm With Stupid," tagged as the first single to be released off of the Pet Shop Boys' new album (the single hits on May 8; the album, "Fundamental," two weeks later). This momentous event got play from none other than Andrew Sullivan (OK, I guess I'm not that surprised), who was kind enough to get the joke that the song is a very cheeky poke at the strained, uh, relationship between Tony Blair and George W. Bush. I have talked about my love for the Pet Shop Boys enough on this site that I will neither explain nor apologize for it here; I will simply declare that yes, straight guys can love the Pet Shop Boys too, and leave it at that. You can listen to the new single here. (And if you think I'm not buying the special-edition double-CD when it comes out, you're crazy.)

· Two things that may put me at odds with the rest of my ultra-liberal brethren, but so what, they need to be said just the same: First, Cynthia McKinney is a douchebag. Second, I got a big problem with a bunch of illegal immigrants taking to the streets and waving the flags of the country they escaped from to get here. This is not, as many of my fellow libs would have you believe, a matter of "appreciating immigrant culture"; this is a bunch of people who broke the law to get here and now expect me to kowtow to them in ways they have no legal right to. Let me make this very clear: If you've gone to the trouble of coming all the way over to America because your life is better here than the shithole you came from, guess what? Your primary loyalty is to America, and the problems you need to be most worried about are America's problems. That means that if you're waving a Mexican -- or Guatemalan, or Cuban, or Israeli -- flag and demanding that we put those country's citizens (the citizens you apparently didn't think were important enough to continue sharing a country with) before our own country's citizens in importance, you can officially piss off. I'll help you find medical care and I'll defend your children's access to a decent education, 'cause I'm a nice guy and everything, but I don't owe y'all anything, got that?

· That said, appreciating other nations' cultures is important and should be encouraged. Baby Sis sets an excellent example vis a vis our neighbors to the north here.

· Yeah, the whole NCAA basketball championship thing. On the one hand, I was, along with perhaps 97 percent of the rest of the country, rooting for George Mason. On a second hand, I'm all but physically incapable of rooting for the Florida Gators in anything. But on a third hand, it has been quite entertaining witnessing the exquisite irony of Florida fans winning a title in a sport they don't actually give a shit about. When's the women's golf championships, playa?

· I know what you're going to say before you even say it: "This coming from the guy who pretends to get excited every year when the Gym Dawgs win the title." I'll have you know, sir, that I do follow, and get excited about/for, Georgia's gymnastics team, and as with the Pet Shop Boys, I will neither explain nor apologize for this. Let's just say I have my reasons and leave it at that. And unless your school's gymnastics team has beaten Georgia this year -- which they haven't -- you can shut it.

To bogart a phrase from Orson: Badonkadonktastic.

· Before I forget: Tailgate, bitches!