Welcome! (I guess...)

For those of you who by some extremely unlikely set of circumstances happened to stumble upon this page, I apologize to you. For those of you who intentionally came to this page - yikes! As the title of the weblog indicates, these are my Ramblings About Whatever. There is a chance that I will ramble about just about anything (as I am in this introduction), but only a select few topics will actually make this site. Enjoy! (I guess...)

Monday, November 17, 2008

NFL 2008: Week 11

I just had to touch on a few NFL stories for week 11, with the Monday night game between Cleveland and Buffalo still yet to be played.

First of all, with each successive week, I become more and more convinced that the New York Football Giants are going to repeat this year. Their running game seems virtually unstoppable at this point, and the fact that they are not relying too heavily on one back is extremely important. Since they are spreading the rushing load around, the odds of their running backs being fresh and healthy for a presumed late trip into the playoffs seem high at this point. It is a bit worrisome that top running back Brandon Jacobs did come down with a bit of an injury in yesterday's game versus the Ravens, but since he insists that he could have come back to play if absolutely necessary, I'm going to cross my fingers and judge it as being of little concern.

The Giants running attack was dominating yesterday, totalling 207 yards rushing, and in so doing, becoming the first team to break 100 yards against Baltimore's previously top rated run defense this year. The Giants run offense is doing the important job of limiting the need for the Eli Manning to beat teams passing. The Giants defense is also doing its part, ranking number two overall in the league in total defense, and in the top ten in both rush and pass defense. Being able to control the ball with a solid running game on offense and being able to prevent your opponent from doing so on defense are certainly ingredients for success in the NFL.

Okay, now that I'm done fawning over the Giants, I'll move to a few other things. First of all (or second of all), I'll discuss the Chargers-Steelers game. By now you may know that the Steelers defeated the Chargers 11-10, this game being the first time in 12,000 plus NFL games (or something like that) in history that the final score was 11-10. When I first heard this stat, my initial response was who gives a damn? Do people really have this little to do that they sit around and wait for professional football final scores to see if they have ever been achieved in the history of the game? And then I remembered that the answer to this last question is yes, and that the people who do have such little to do are at the Elias Sports Bureau. But then I later learned that the officials had improperly taken away a touchdown at the end of the game that would have given the Steelers a 17-10 or 18-10 win and I realized that there were other people who would actually give a damn. Those would be fantasy football players and gamblers. I certainly am glad that my fantasy football team wasn't affected by this error, and it is times like this that I am overjoyed that I never got into gambling.

And I guess I should say at least something about the Denver Broncos so that James doesn't whine that I dedicated an entire post to football and didn't discuss the Broncos. The Broncos are in first place, leading an otherwise absolutely crummy division. Good show! Keep up the good work!

And finally, I get to the reason that I really wanted to write this particular post. I'm going to discuss the Philadelphia-Cincinnati 13-13 tie that took place on Sunday. And to be more precise, I'm going to discuss Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb's apparent lack of understanding that ties were possible in the NFL. I find this utterly ridiculous that a starting quarterback on an NFL team did not know that a tie was possible. Now sure, ties don't occur that frequently in the league, the last one having occurred six years ago, but McNabb was in the league six years ago. One would think that even if he didn't know ties were possible when he entered the league that just perusing the scores of games that particular week would have caused him to say, wow a tie - I didn't know that was possible! That's crazy!

But even if that tie had not occurred in 2002, this still seems utterly absurd. Maybe the Philadelphia Eagles just haven't played that many games that have gone to overtime since McNabb has been in the league, but one would think that if they have played any other overtime games, since he is the starting quarterback he would be out there for the coin toss for overtime and he would at least listen to all of the rules that the referee gives. I'm not 100% certain, but I think that the referee does tell the players gathered for the second coin toss that if no team scores after fifteen minutes of overtime the game ends in a tie. I mean, did the guy not watch any pro football while he was in college? Admittedly, I'm a bit of stats junkie and I love ties in the NFL because I think it is funny how they screw up playoff races, but off the top of my head, I was able to remember that there were two ties in the 1997 NFL season, and three of those teams with ties were in the same division. And that division with three teams, and one of those teams, are the division and team on which McNabb has always played for in the NFL. I guess McNabb must have known what record his team had the year before joining the team, but he didn't think to look at their record just one more year back? Unbelievable...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Fate of Joe Lieberman

Okay, now that I posted a non-political story, I can get back to politics. (But I swear, I'm not going to turn this into a political site. Just one more post...for now.) And this story deals with Joe Lieberman and what the Democratic Caucus in the Senate should do with him.

Let's get one thing out of the way first. Joe Lieberman is definitely a traitor to the Democratic Party. You can come to no other conclusion if the guy endorses the opposition party's presidential candidate, actively campaigns for that presidential candidate, speaks at that party's convention, and then levels not so veiled threats about leaving his own party and defecting if he doesn't get his own way.

Joe Lieberman did all of those above things. He chose the losing side, and rather than displaying any contrition, he comes wielding empty threats. There is a very simple way that Democrats should handle Lieberman, notwithstanding President-Elect Barack Obama's opinion that Lieberman should stay in the caucus and retain his committee chairmanship.

The Democrats should say, "Joe, you can stay in the caucus if you'd like, but you're not keeping your chairmanship. Those are the terms and they are non-negotiable." If Lieberman reacts like a spoiled brat and goes off to join the Republican caucus, who cares?

If the Democrats needed Lieberman to remain in the majority (as they did the last two years) or if they needed Lieberman to maintain a sixty vote filibuster proof majority (which it appears they won't reach even with Lieberman), then this issue might be a bit more complicated, but neither is the case. Why would the other Democratic senators allow themselves to be worked over by a traitor to the party like Joe Lieberman? Joe Lieberman has precisely zero leverage in this discussion to make demands.

Let's say Lieberman does decline such a gracious offer and goes to the Republicans. Is Joe Lieberman now all of a sudden going to vote with the Republicans on domestic issues on which he used to vote with the Democrats? Is he going to vote in the opposite way as he used to vote purely out of spite? Honestly, I wouldn't put this past Lieberman. I do so hope that we get the chance to find out.

Lieberman has been extremely arrogant in the way he has carried himself over the last couple of years. He should not be allowed by the entire Democratic caucus to come with his threats. Give him the non-negotiable terms described above and see if he is foolish enough to switch to caucusing with the Republicans. If he thought that his re-election bid in Connecticut was tough in 2006, then he is in for a very bruising experience in 2012.

Kickball and the Summer of 1996

Alright, back to non-political stuff. I would like to relate to you a brief story from my youth that still makes me smile to this day. And this story happens to be 100% true, in case you are wondering.

Back in the summer of 1996, my younger brother and I had the misfortune of working as counselors at a summer camp. Well if it was such a misfortune, you might ask, then why does this story bring a smile to my face? That's a very good question, and I certainly will answer it before long.

This was a miserable summer because the pay was incredibly low; we were basically indentured servants. And we were not happy to be there - in fact we hated being there. And I'm pretty sure most of the kids hated being there as well. Who could blame them really? Though I was eighteen at the time, I knew for a fact that all of the activities that they had the kids doing sucked. I mean seriously, they had these children dancing to that stupid Macarena song, they had them doing arts and craft, and a whole host of other stupid activities that an eighteen-year-old certainly would not enjoy, and six to twelve-year-olds should not enjoy either. Six to twelve-year-olds should be more interested in winning foot races and solving complex mathematical problems and not these sort of trite activities that should be reserved for four and five-year-olds.

Now since I hated these activities, and believed that deep within themselves all of the children did so as well, I didn't feel obligated to force the kids to do any of them. This decision on my part did not necessarily go over so well with my fellow counselors, but I decided that since many of them seemed to have an inability to pronounce my name correctly (one even going so far as to add additional syllables), I was going to be of as little help to them as possible. And I must admit that the children adored me all the more for not making them do stupid, boring stuff.

But alas the goal was not to have the children love me, but to hate me, and in so hating me, love me all the more. So I had to be a jerk to the kids. I know from experience that once kids get to be about ten, eleven, twelve, that's when they start developing jerk-personae. Some of those kids in the camp that year might have been very adept at being jerks for their age, but they could not hope to compete with one such as I who had had several years head start in honing my jerk skills.

But I've kind of been meandering a bit, or rambling, if you will, and have yet to come to the incident that occurred while I was working at that camp that summer that still brings a smile to my face. I was in the midst of a kickball game involving a group of mostly six-year-olds, and I happened to be standing on the portion of asphalt that would be considered left-center field. I believe that there were two runners on base, a boy on third and a girl on second. Well, the ball happened to make it through off the bounce to me and as I scanned the "field" (the blacktop), I could see that somehow there was a mix-up and the boy and girl were both running in close proximity toward home plate. For some reason we playing by a rule that if you hit someone with the ball while they were running off of a base, they were considered out. And so I knew what I had to do.

From my position out in the outfield about 100 feet from home plate, I saw how quickly the children were running and tried to judge the proper trajectory to use to pick off one of them. I knew I had a bit of a margin for error since two of them were running so closely together. I did the almost instantaneous mental calculation and I lofted the ball into the air.

The ball drifted into the air, seemingly taking an eternity to reach its apex. As the ball descended back down toward the ground, the mouths of all were agape as we all slowly tracked the progress of the red round object. The little boy was fortunate to escape the ball's wrath, but the little girl was not so lucky. Bam! She was drilled in the head and sent down to the asphalt.

What happened next? Well, my memory is a bit hazy on this matter. I'm going to guess that we were up by one run prior to the ball coming out to me and that the boy and the girl running the bases represented the tying and winning runs. Since the girl was knocked out before the boy crossed home plate, we won. I think that all of the six-year-olds on my team came and mobbed me and lifted me onto their shoulders as we celebrated our victory. I do kind of wonder what became of that little girl though...

Good times...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sarah Palin in 2012?

Thus far I have been very successful in keeping this site from delving too deeply in the discussion of politics, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to suspend that practice of mine, at least for this post.

And as much as I would like to go on and on celebrating Barack Obama for winning the presidential election, I must instead focus on the subject of Sarah Palin. To be more precise, I must focus on this notion that she represents the future of the national Republican Party, and is perhaps even a viable candidate for the Republican nomination for 2012.

But before I discuss the future of the Sarah Palin and the Republican Party, I would like to touch on the past for a bit - the past as in this election. There have been a number of reports that there are a number of staffers within John McCain's former campaign who are blaming Palin for costing McCain the election. This notion is certainly untrue, I believe, or at the very least I believe it is foolish to say that Palin directly cost McCain this election. To the extent that Palin cost McCain any votes, and by extension the election, is the direct fault of John McCain and his advisers for selecting Sarah Palin.

So no, I don't believe it's "fair" to blame Palin for McCain's loss. However, I'm even more disturbed by these false equivalencies that I've heard some trot out that no one blamed John Edwards for John Kerry's loss or no one blamed Joe Lieberman for Al Gore's loss. Of course no one blamed Edwards or Lieberman for the respective losses of Kerry and Gore. This has nothing to do with the fact that Palin is a woman, as I've heard some suggest. Rather, this has to do with the fact that Sarah Palin was woefully unqualified to be Vice President and, by extention, President.

No one in their right mind can say that Sarah Palin was equally qualified to be Vice President as the last two who failed in their bids for the same office. She displayed a fundamental misunderstanding of what the role of the Vice President is, despite being given a number of opportunities to articulate the job description. Her media appearances were an absolute disaster, to the point where there were at least a couple of appearances where John McCain had to sit alongside her seeming to act as a chaperone of sorts. And yet, Sarah Palin did not cost John McCain the election. To the extent that she had any negative effect on McCain's candidacy, John McCain is directly responsible for selecting someone who demonstrated little to no understanding of important issues.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm thoroughly enjoying all of the Republican infighting that is now taking place. I love the story about Palin being unfamiliar with the countries that constitute NAFTA (with some reports going so far as to say that she was unaware of the countries that are actually in North America), as well as the story that she was evidently unaware that Africa was a continent (or her questioning of whether South Africa was part of the country of Africa). I don't know how much of this is true, but I don't completely buy this argument that she has made that this was all taken out of context. Or at least if these things were taken out of context, how much does this mitigate the damage that her credibility has already taken?

Let's address the NAFTA thing first. I would be willing to cut her some slack on NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) because the continent of North America actually includes all of the Central American countries. However, the fact of the matter is that she is the governor of the state of Alaska. Alaska's only neighbor is Canada. It would seem to me that if you are the governor of any state in the United States you should be aware of what nations are involved in NAFTA. I won't go so far as to believe that she didn't know what countries are in North America because if you want to be absolutely correct about the continent of North America, then you must include the Central American countries as well (something that I could not do off of the top of my head). Still, I think that it would be appalling if she was unaware of the nations in North America as they apply to NAFTA.

Now moving on to the Africa comment, I find it hard to cut her any slack on this one. As hard as it is for me to believe that she would be unaware that Africa is a continent and not a country, I just cannot come up with a plausible explanation for what "taken out of context" means in this situation. I would love for someone to articulate some context for me in this situation in which Palin does not seem foolish. I'm serious; I would really like for someone to do this for me.

What bothers me most about the Sarah Palin candidacy and post-candidacy is that you have people like Mika Brzezinski who are going out of their way to defend Palin. There is a chance that Brzezinski does it from a feminist view point, but I find such a defense absurd. I had two conversations with my mother in which we discussed Palin, and I think that we both agreed in totality. Sarah Palin as a candidate for national office at this time was an embarrassment to the nation as a whole, and to educated women in particular. Her lack of basic understanding of the issues was striking and there is no way she should have been able to get as close as she did to the Vice Presidency. The selection of a woman as a candidate to occupy one of the two highest offices in the land by the Republican Party is truly something that should have been a moment to celebrate because it is clear that the talent level that women represent in this country as a whole is significantly underrepresented in elective politics. However, the notion that Sarah Palin was the most qualified woman that could have been nominated within the Republican Party is absolutely laughable and belies a cynicism that makes their sizable electoral loss wholeheartedly deserved.

What happens next? Well, a large number of members of the Republican Party believe that she could actually be their nominee in 2012. I truly don't get it. I don't understand for the life of me how Republican voters honestly believe she could garner more than fifty percent of the vote in a national election. Those tapes of her interviews and the reports that have come out post-election are not going anywhere. I just don't see how she buries the scars she has suffered, fairly or unfairly, during this presidential campaign. But if the Republicans believe that she is their future, who am I to interfere?