Friday, September 30, 2005

There's too much going on, I give up

I don't really give up, but I'm at one of those points where picking a particular issue and writing about it intelligently seems like a very daunting task.

Besides, for every issue out there, there's a load of bloggers who've been on its tail from the beginning, sort of like Michelle Malkin and the Air America fiasco. Follow that link for a roundup of her coverage.

Many bloggers -- including ROFA Six -- have been following the developing story of the proposed "International Freedom Center" museum proposed for the 9/11 Ground Zero site. The plans for that have been scrapped thanks to New York Gov. George Pataki, and thank God... the last thing I would want to see at the 9/11 site would probably have to be photos of Lynndie England, who, aside from being a rather serious embarassment to America, is also one of the ugliest little trolls I've ever seen.

I'm in the Army -- so that's saying a lot.

Happier news can be found in the world of professional baseball, where the New York Yankees are preparing to cement their position as the leaders in the American Leage East after soundly walloping the Baltimore Orioles. They're one game ahead of the Boston Red Sox as they head into tonight's opening game of the series at Fenway.

Other things that have happened:

Judge John Roberts was sworn in as chief supreme court justice yesterday.

Some kid caught a really huge eel near Okinawa.

Former House majority leader Tom DeLay is apparently a dirty, rotten bastard.

As for me, I'll be talking with a battalion commander later this morning about a basic training unit here that has a 2 percent attrition rate -- far below the average. After that, it'll be a day of transcribing the tape recording I made of the interview I had yesterday with Fort Knox's departing commanding general, which went pretty well.

I've been boring this morning, so I'm sorry. Head over to Michael Yon's place for some exciting stuff.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Sports Commentary: Game inspires 'creative metaphors'

Welcome to my favorite blog-cop-out. It's called the Re-Running Of My Weekly Sports Column, which I have pretty much no right to have anyway.

Without further ado:

Game inspires
'creative metaphors'

Turret Sports Editor

According to the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, obscenities, profanities, and vulgarities are not to be used in a newspaper story "unless they are part of direct quotations and there is a compelling reason for them."

That rule is going to make writing about last Sunday's Patriots at Steelers game rather frustrating.

I could start by cursing about wide receiver Antwaan Randle El's screw-up of a perfectly good 30-yard reception in a baffling lateral toss to Hines Ward that resulted in a fumble, gutting what could have been a successful Pittsburgh drive.

Or I could easily swear at whoever jumped the gun and made Steelers kicker Jeff Reed have to back up and attempt a 52-yard field goal (which he shanked, ending a streak of 21 successful attempts).

But I can spare those guys any barroom colloquialisms.

No, if I were to use bad language -- and I won't, at least not here -- it would be directed toward whoever runs the clock at Heinz Field.

After a false start was called on Pittsburgh's Kendall Simmons at the beginning of the fourth quarter, operators reset the clock to 14:51 -- the time before the play began. It should have been reset to 13:59, but nobody noticed the error.

That gave quarterback Tom Brady and company just enough time to put New England kicker Adam Vinatieri in field-goal position, and he kicked in the game-winning three points in the last second of the game.

Unofficially, I've suggested that this may indicate an unholy pact Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have made with evil forces of some kind (something along the lines of blues legend Robert Johnson's "crossroads curse," or maybe the movie "The Omen").

It's also given me a chance to use a lot of what you might call "creative metaphors" -- the kind the Stylebook recommends against printing.

But that's me talking as a Pittsburgh fan, not as a -- ahem -- professional sports writer.

I can't figure out a way to correct for the error. The league can't just eliminate the last 52 seconds of the game from the books, since plays are designed to take advantage of whatever time's left on the clock, especially in the fourth quarter of a close game.

Counting the game as a tie would be pointless anyway.

With the schedule already set in stone, a rematch would be awkward and difficult to set up, and besides, the mistake wasn't the fault of either team.

Any talk of changing the records is a bit academic anyway, since the NFL isn't going to do it. New England will keep the win, and Pittsburgh's got to take the loss, despite grumblings of injustice. I imagine the only major change that'll be made due to the error is who the Steelers hire as clock operators at Heinz Field.

The Patriots and the Steelers are arguably the two best teams in the AFC, if not the entire league, and it's always good to see teams of that caliber face off. In fact, I think they could develop a very exciting long-term rivalry.

The other good news is that I've made it to the end of this column without using a single bad word. It wasn't easy.


Note: It actually WAS easy. I just had to not type the word "bitch." But whatever. Also, please check out BroRizzo's take on this, which I read this morning. He's a Steelers fan to the core, but I doubt you needed me to tell you that. He gives the "Player of the Game" award to Hines Ward.

UPDATE: Open Post at the Mudville Gazette.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Just a thought

Trainspotting is one of my favorite movies. It's well-shot, well-acted, and damn gripping. If you ever needed an excuse not to do heroin, I'd say this movie would do the trick.

One of my favorite moments is Renton's (Ewan McGregor, before he became a George Lucas shill) overdose. As he sinks into the floor, the carpet he's lying on follows him down, and Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" kicks on. Genius.

Anyway - a memorable quote:

RENTON: The downside of coming off junk was I knew I would need to mix with my friends again in a state of full consciousness. It was awful. They reminded me so much of myself, I could hardly bear to look at them.

Apologies, references

Sorry for that last overly-maudlin, self-indulgent post. I had just watched the Steelers lose at the last second of what turned out to be a non-regulation game -- 52 extra seconds were "accidentally" added to the clock.

It only goes to prove that Tom Brady does indeed work for the devil. Think of him as Damien from the Omen; Bill Belichick would be the evil raven that leads him around -- the one that pecks the woman's eyes out and gets her thrown in front of a Mack truck.

Anyway, my old first-line, Sgt. Salemonz, has arrived in the sandbox and is surprised to have found a Starbucks there.

Also, has upgraded. They've got sections for blogs, photos, and a lot more... check 'em out.

And it looks like Mustang23 of Assumption of Command is finally coming home.


Sunday, September 25, 2005


Airports and airplanes have a quality about them that is cleansing. I don't know what it is or when it happens, but for some reason, between departure and final destination, there is a release of the nostalgia and sentimental feelings built up from seeing and being with loved ones.

I got on a plane this morning at 5:30 a.m. It took off from Syracuse Hancock International Airport and landed in Cincinnati, where I got on another plane that took me to Louisville, where my Camaro had been parked for the past week or so.

I had been home. Missing one of my brothers, who was sitting in biology classes at university, we'd still managed to have one hell of a time. On Tuesday, we drove up deep into the Adirondack mountains of central New York and stayed in an incredible timber-beam lodge near Lake Placid. The next morning the six of us headed out and climbed Cascade Mountain -- an easy peak, according to the guides, but a long enough climb to provide a good sweat and hunger for dinner, after which we all felt the soporific effects of the rarefied mountain air.

Last night, Dad and I went for a walk after we'd had dinner and let off a few fireworks he'd hoarded since a trip out of state.

I lit up a smoke as we walked down the dark country road my parents' house sits on, and we talked about life.

"Do you think, when it's all said and done, that you'll look back on this time you've spent in the military and think, 'This was a good thing for me to have done?'" he asked.

I drew hard on the Camel.

"I don't know," I said finally. And I didn't -- I wonder, sometimes, how the total will wind up. I know there have been benefits, but I feel like there are some things I didn't need to have experienced. Some of those have been direct results of the Army, and others have been my own choices, made because I've been in a certain place at a certain time with certain circumstances.

It was nearly pitch black outside, but I could sense the sleeping cows in the nearby pastures and the Shetland ponies nearby.

I told Dad what I thought while we headed back to the house.

When we got back, we sat outside the kitchen door on the patio furniture we'd only a little while before been launching bottle-rockets off of. I talked a little bit about my college friends -- one of whom had stopped by the day before -- and finally about the summer I returned home after senior year with a journalism degree in hand and not much else. It was that summer, three years ago, that I signed up for the Army.

"I never really did figure that out," Dad said. "What made you decide to do it? I remember one day you were here painting the house, and the next day you were heading off to the recruiters'."

"It was three years ago," I said, "so it's kind of hazy. I'm not the same person I was three years ago now, so it's hard to think like I did that day."

I told Dad how I'd taken a package into town, to the post office, for Mom, and how I'd looked across the street to the recruiters' office in a new way. I'd always known it was there, but this time I looked at it differently -- like it was an option.

"I was feeling bad that summer, Dad," I said. "I didn't like myself, I'd come home from all my friends at school to here, home, which at that time was essentially square one. I was overweight, which was a relatively recent thing, and that struck me, because never in my life had I been fat.

"I signed up for a lot of reasons, I guess," I said, not knowing how to explain anything. "Sure, there was some patriotism and latent rage from September Eleventh, but that wasn't all there was to it. Truthfully, I never actually thought I'd ever be able to do it till I passed that final PT test in basic training at Fort Benning."

We talked for a while longer, and I realized as we talked that the Army has changed my life in a very fundamental way, and that while I've made some poor decisions because of my involvement in the military, the end result is going to be a better person; a better me.

Most of all, more than my own career or my estimation of myself, I wanted to do something that other people could respect, and for me the most important of those people was my dad, who has been someone who's been respected so much because of his amazing dedication to being a doctor. I'm here, three years into a five-year Army contract, because I wanted to know -- and I wanted him to know -- that I can really do something I set my mind to.

I don't know what'll happen after this. I don't know if I'll ever make it like I want to make it. But I do know that I have a familiy that dates back to.... well, before I was born, and that's what counts. I have a family who will love me no matter how hard or far I fall. And I'm an incredibly lucky man for having that.

Mom, Dad, Maggie, Alanna-Marie, and Zach -- thank you all so much for being with me during leave. I love you all, and I can't wait to see you again. Jake -- I wish you could have been there. We could have used a village idiot.

My family -- I love you all. Thank you so much.


Friday, September 23, 2005

The happiest dog ever.

Lake Placid, at sunset.

UPDATE: This has been an experiment in "MoBlogging," or blogging by cell phone. Rah. MoBlogs in the future will be posted without the benefit of capitalization or the customary "-30-" (Newspaperese for "The End") at the end, because that stuff is too much of a pain in the ass via cell.

The Chickenhawk Argument

I was just watching NRO's Jonah Goldberg taking calls on CSPAN. The callers ranged from full supporters of the war to irate anti-war Vietnam veterans, and as always seems to be the case with discussions such as the one Goldberg was having, someone said something to the effect of:

"If you support the war so much, why don't you go over there and fight in it?"

It's an "argument" that's used a lot for being so childish. People who do not support the war find this a convenient line of argumentation to use -- shaming war supporters into, as Goldberg said, shutting up, since their accusers aren't actually interested in "winning" the current war.

It's convenient because it places no impetus on the arguer to do anything: being against the war demands that one not join the military.

Well, here's the catch -- our country's military was set up so as to be completely controlled by civilians. That's why the Secretary of the Army, Secretary of Defense, and President aren't positions held by top generals. They're civilian posts, and not one requires military service. The idea, of course, is to avoid becoming a military dictatorship.

And then, of course, there are the divergent opinions held by current and former service members. Some support the war (in fact, support for the Bush presidency is statistically a lot higher among service members), and some are against it -- such as Vietnam-veteran John Kerry, to name one.

So, as Goldberg said after a particularly vitriolic call, the two essentially cancel each other out, and one is left with the merits of each argument on its face. The war may be a good idea and it may be a bad idea, but whether the proponent of either side has a combat-service background is irrelevant to the discussion at that level.

Now, if you were going to talk tactics or strategy -- how to go about surrounding a hostile village, or where to bomb to most effectively weaken the enemy's command and control, or which way to turn if you were to be the first one into a house potentially filled with insurgents -- then someone with a military background is clearly going to have a more informed viewpoint than someone who's never been there or done that.

Why aren't the sons and daughters of our top Republican politicians serving in the military? Because they don't have to. It's still an all-volunteer force, ladies and gentlemen, so people who don't have to serve generally don't. However, to some people, including myself, the military may offer an opportunity to advance or start a career, pay for education, or provide income that may not have been found elsewhere.

And when it comes down to a discussion of "should we be there or not," soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are really just citizens in uniform. It's a discussion we should be having as a people, based on citizenship, not service.


UPDATE: Trackback party at Colbert's Comments. Thanks, Canadian guy!
UPDATE: Open Post at the Mudville Gazette.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

On leave, light blogging, NFL reflections from Upstate New York

My apologies for leaving without any explanation. I'm on leave with my family, and we've just returned from two great days in the Adirondack mountains, very close to Lake Placid (a two-time Olympics site). Anyway, before I get into a description, here's the column I whipped off for the newspaper after Sunday's strange NFL games.

NFL reflections
from central
New York

By SPC. IAN BOUDREAU/Turret Sports Editor

I'm writing this from my hometown in central New York. It's a chance to catch up with my family, including my brother, who's visiting from Pittsburgh.

Naturally, Sunday afternoon we had to find a place to watch the Steelers game, but since they were playing in Houston, none of the basic cable markets were carrying the game.

A couple phone calls led me to a bar downtown that had the complete NFL package. When I asked if they were playing Pittsburgh at Houston, the girl who answered said, "Oh yeah... we're playing ALL the games."

So at one, Zach and I walked into the Dark Horse Tavern, which was already crowded with a multitude of jersey-sporting football fans of all descriptions. There was a guy wearing an old purple Vikings jersey with "MOSS" written on the back, lots of Patriots shirts, and a smattering of Jets and Giants supporters.

As the one o'clock games wore on, it was clear that this was going to be another strange weekend. Across the league, weird things were happening.

Peyton Manning and the Colts -- formerly one of the most prolific scoring offenses in the business -- weren't managing to get anything past a tenacious Jacksonville defense (Indianapolis only won 10-3).

The Baltimore Ravens, who had been ranked at the top of the AFC North in the preseason, choked against the Tennessee Titans, who shouldn't have been a threat.

And most astonishingly -- in my book -- Bill Belechick's New England juggernaut was stopped cold by the Carolina Panthers, which caused the crowd in the bar to send up choruses of whoops and jeers.

The only games I could have called with any certainty were Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the latter dishing out a rather ferocious beating on the still-weak San Francisco 49ers.

In Houston, the Texans did everything they could to scuttle the game for the Steelers before it started, including, according to Associated Press reports, opening the roof of the Houston Astrodome, which sent field-level temperatures into the 100s. Houston hoped, perhaps, to bake the black-clad Steelers.

It didn't work, and neither did the Texans' goal of forcing Big Ben to pass 25 times. Ben Roethlisberger -- who's been listed as a weakness in every pre-season projection I read -- fired off completions to wide receiver Hines Ward totalling 254 yards in the air and two touchdowns. Pittsburgh's defense sacked Texans quarterback David Carr eight times, and the Texans fired their offensive coordinator Monday.

Sitting behind my brother and I was a large man in a Bears jersey. I said to Zach that being a Chicago fan was sort of like loving depressing movies -- maybe they're just in it because they love the heartbreak. Turns out, however, that the Bears beat Detroit, and not by any mean margin. Chicago came out and stomped the Lions 38-6. It was pretty similar to the score of the Minnesota/Cincinnati game -- 37-8. And to think, Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper was projected to do so well.

The fellow in the purple Moss jersey was in the corner, drinking beer and looking sheepish.

Week two is over for pro football, and my family and I are heading up to the Adirondack mountains now. I'll be back to Fort Knox in time to catch all the action Sunday.


Friday, September 16, 2005

A final note from Dr. Gonzo

Hunter S. Thompson's wife, Anita, found this note Feb. 17, three days before he killed himself.

No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt.

-- Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005

Sports Commentary: Strangeness returns with pro football

Time for my favorite blogging cop-out, re-running my weekly sports column. I actually liked this one. Here we go.

returns with
pro football

By SPC. IAN BOUDREAU/Turret Sports Editor

I was never a great student of science, but one principle I do remember well is entropy.

Entropy is the measure of disorder present in a given system, and according to theory, in any system, entropy continuously increases.

In layman's terms, this means that things get weirder and weirder as time goes by.

That's why I'm excited about the new NFL season. The road to Super Bowl XL could be a demonstration of entropy at its best.

Opening weekend sure seemed to be a clear indication. It began with ex-Viking Randy Moss and the Raiders giving Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, who lost offensive (to Notre Dame) and defensive (to Cleveland) coaches since last year, a pretty decent scare at home. The all-powerful Pats won, of course, but only by 10 points, and this was against a team that went 5-11 last year without even playing the AFC powerhouse.

Sunday was full of surprises in the quarterback department. Fantasy favorites Daunte Culpepper (Minnesota) and Brett Favre (Green Bay) both looked as if they'd forgotten how to pass. Favre completed only 27 of 44 attempts and threw two interceptions. Culpepper made 22 of 33, threw three picks, and was sacked twice.

The Colts' Peyton Manning fared better only by completing two touchdown passes and avoiding interceptions.

Meanwhile, second-year Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sought to prove that last season's 13-0 streak wasn't a one-off, and made a convincing case with the help of new starting running back Willie Parker, who ran for 161 yards during Pittsburgh's 34-7 trouncing of Tennessee.

Roethlisberger got approximately zero respect in league projections, thanks probably in equal parts to his weak post-season performance last year, "new guy" status, and complete lack of production during the Steelers' preseason.

But Big Ben showed up to play the game when it mattered. He landed a 158.3 perfect passer rating, completing nine of 11 attempts for 218 yards.

In every account of the game I've read so far, Roethlisberger is paid the back-handed compliment of being "mistake-free" during the game. It's as if they're saying, "Good job, kid! You didn't even screw up once!"

Monday night, of course, is probably the best demonstration of entropy in action as far as football's concerned. Before the kickoff of the Philadelphia at Atlanta game, a fight broke out on the field, complete with yelling and punching.

The Eagles' Jeremiah Trotter and the Falcons' Kevin Mathis got thrown out, and the game hadn't even started.

Meanwhile, Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb were seen "chatting" on the sidelines. Surely this is a sign of the end times.

High above Monday night's game, however, was entropy's poster boy, "legendary coach," and endless source of comedy John Madden.

He was standing alongside Al Michaels, who grinned and talked about how great it was to be in Atlanta and what he thought about the ongoing game. Madden, meanwhile, shuffled from foot to foot, looking like a Kodiak bear hit with a tranquilizer dart. The poor guy seemed lost -- they must have taken his light pen away.

Ah, pro football. It's been a long, hot summer, and I've missed you. Welcome back.

By the way, I'd like to be the first to predict that "Super Bowl XL" will soon be universally referred to as "Super Bowl Extra-Large."

You heard it here first.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

That's quite enough, Senator.

So all I can hear on the Internet news radio is live coverage and commentary on Judge John Roberts' testimony before a throng of self-important senators who are more interested in hearing themselves speak to their knowledge of U.S. legal history than in making any actual progress toward an approval or disapproval of Roberts' confirmation.

I'd leave it at that if it hadn't been for a senator from the "Great State of Alabama" (Yes, that was sarcasm -- Editor) who yammered on and on about decisions made in the courts regarding his state. Honestly, I can't actually remember who this senator was, but he would drawl interminably over obscure and ancient legal battles he'd witnessed or been a part of, and eventually tack on some kind of half-question at the end of each soliloquy. Roberts answered each question -- such as it was -- as best he could.

This confirmation hearing, to me, belies more about the general ignorance of the American judiciary than anything about Roberts' past. The fact that questions about personal opinion are being put to a man who has been a judge for years seems like a colossal waste of time and oxygen, considering the fact that a judge's job is not to form an independent and personal opinion, but to consider each side in a given case based on the merits of the argument presented by the side's representative. Judges are qualified based on their ability to make these judgements based on the law and the evidence presented to them by each side.

Roberts has said, and rightly, that he will refuse to answer any question that could compromise his appearance of impartiality, and that unlike the politicians who are so shrewdly asking him these pointed queries, he is unable to make empty promises. Roberts is not nominated for a representative position -- he's nominated to be an arbiter in the federal government's highest court. I'd say his refusal to answer inane questions about his opinions on this or that matter is probably a better qualification for the job than any answer he might give to paranoid democratic senators.

At this point, I'd be much happier if everyone would drop this issue and just let us know how it turns out. But sadly, there is more to come, and even if Roberts is confirmed as the late Chief Justice William Rheinquist's replacement, we still have to find someone to fill the departing Sandra Day O'Connor. Won't that be fun.


UPDATE: Open Post at Mudville Gazette.
UPDATE: Buddy Jan Korda informs me that the senator in question was Sen. Jeff Sessions (R, Ala.).
UPDATE: This satire at the New York Times is hilarious. Subscription is probably required, but I don't care.
UPDATE the FOURTH: Wonkette gives me a chance to write a funny headline: "Senator Durbin protects trashy whore."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Kickers, Kanye: Tuesday, Training

Akers had something like three chances to save my sorry butt last night during the Eagles/Falcons game. Unfortunately, his team lined up around 45 yards away from the uprights, so I can't really blame the poor soccer dropout for not completing. However, his punishment stands, and he will sit with Aaron Brooks on the bench until he shapes up.

End of week one, and I'm 0-1.

We had what was called Equal Opportunity "training" this morning. I'm not sure it qualifies, though -- we just broke up into small groups and talked about Kanye West's statement about George W. Bush being a racist, and about seven cops in Boston who are suing the police department after being fired for coming up positive for cocaine.

Afterward, a member of each group got up to tell the whole class what his group had learned. There was little if any consensus on who was to blame, but there was one issue that everyone -- instructors included -- seemed to agree on: the media exacerbated problems and put their own spin or slant on any issue they discuss.

In my group, I said that the media is just a representation of what we as consumers are shown to respond to positively, and that if there's something we don't like on television or in the papers, it's because a majority of people tend to watch or read more when stuff like that is included. That's about as far as that discussion went.

I watched a couple clips of the Daily Show last night and one consistent criticism is of Bush's "vacation" that he only cut short days after the levees broke. What on earth was he going to do, haul pallets of bottled water around? Micro-manage the relief effort?

Same thing with the "My Pet Goat" issue at the Florida elementary school on September 11. If it had been, say, Superman who had stuck around to "put on a strong front" and try to prevent mass panic, okay, I'd be mad -- Superman might have been able to do something.

But a president is just a president. He's a guy who's at the top of a very complicated iceberg made of countless programs and systems put in place in order to handle regional situations.

And it's those programs that should have been there to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, not the President of the United States. State and local governments are the ones accountable for the botched relief effort, not the White House.

I'm not saying I like the guy much. After more than four years in the Oval Office, and he's still a rotten public speaker? Give me a break.

While we're at it, let's quit this likening of Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. The only thing the two have in common is the deaths of unsuspecting civilians and catastrophic damage to a city. One New Orleans councilmember said, "This is our 9/11." Your 9/11? I thought the first one was "our 9/11." No, Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster. What happened on Sept. 11, 2001, was a terrorist attack. Hurricanes will always happen, terrorist attacks will only go on as long as there is a violent, extremist, asshole/lunatic fringe being financed by people without the wherewithal to take matters into their own hands.

Well, that got violent pretty quickly. Time to tear into Tuesday's work of getting another paper ready for publication. Right after one more cup of coffee.


Monday, September 12, 2005

From ToothpasteforDinner...

Big Ben - I'm sorry I ever doubted you

The National Football League has started another season, which means my Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays are going to be filled once again with joy, disbelief, frustration, dispair, happiness, and beer.

This year's a bit different, though, since I've started a fantasy football team with some buddies and their families and friends. My interests have been spread out over the league, and I now can't focus my hatred on the New England Patriots, since I'm relying on their defense.

I stuck with several of my favorite Pittsburgh Steelers, including second-year quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. I was excited by his regular season performance last year, but in this year's preseason, he wasn't exactly inspiring. I got cold feet and benched him in deference to New Orleans' Aaron Brooks. That cost me 12 points, since Brooks didn't do squat and Big Ben actually came to play, going nine for 11 passing attempts for 218 yards and two touchdowns, and, as the papers seem to all be reiterating, all without a single error.

In reparation for my sin of benching the Toast of the Three Rivers, I think I should probably break down and buy that Number 7 Steelers jersey.

While I missed out on Ben's yards, I benefitted from his recievers. Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El both racked up some points for me... but not nearly as much as I would have with first-time starting running back Willie Parker, whose 161 yards and touchdown would definitely have helped me out.

All in all, I've got about 53 points sitting on my bench, which means that to win my week one matchup Philadelphia kicker David Akers is going to have to score a couple field goals.

The lesson, of course, is that preseason performance shouldn't be taken too seriously if it doesn't involve injuries.

Others fared either better or worse, including my former first-line and new resident of Yongsan Garrison, the Finch, who's crying in his beer over the fact that his starting quarterback Daunte Culpepper forgot how to play football Sunday.

Weirdness could be found elsewhere as well, as the Oakland Raiders -- along with new acquisition Randy Moss -- gave Tom Brady's Evil Empire (whoops, I mean the Patriots) a run for their money up through the third quarter Thursday night.

Ahh, NFL! How I've missed thee!


ALSO: Sgt. Salemonz is packing up to leave for Iraq. Swing by his place and wish him luck. He's a good man.

UPDATE: Open Post at the Mudville Gazette!

Sunday, September 11, 2005


It's the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. There's nothing I can say here that can properly describe the event itself, the toll it had on victims and their families, or how radically it changed the world we live in.

All I can do is say that we should never forget what happened that morning.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sports commentary - Knox rivals overstating their wins

While I'm at the UK game, here's the commentary I did for this week's Turret.

Knox rivals
their wins

Turret Sports Editor

Enough, already.

Fort Campbell and Elizabethtown have apparently taken their recent victories over the Fort Knox Eagles as feathers in their respective caps. But I think both might do well to remember who's been dealt what cards.

The Fort Campbell Courier published a huge top-half piece in its Sept. 1 sports section, featuring a banner headline reading, "Knox gets knocked," and "Falcons destroy Fort Knox 46-10 in annual Army Bowl matchup."

Destroyed? Hardly.

In fairness, the game is the traditional Army Bowl, and we're keeping tabs on the series, in which Fort Campbell now holds the lead at 16-14. Bragging rights go to the Falcons for another year. Hurrah.

But as I pointed out in the story I did on the game, Class 2-A Campbell had 22 seniors ready to play that Friday night, while Class 1-A Knox had eight. More than half of Knox's roster is made up of freshmen and sophomores, many of whom are brand-new players.

Look at any poll for Kentucky and you'll find Fort Campbell in the top five. They've got Micah Johnson, a strong contender for Mr. Football, and a much larger pool of potential players to pull from each year.

Turret editor Larry Barnes was quick to point out that just a few years ago, when Knox was dominating the series, Campbell opted to drop the annual game, only to pick it up again under pressure.

More locally, the News-Enterprise's Nathaniel Bryan wrote Sunday that after Elizabethtown's 29-27 win over Fort Knox, the 2-A Panthers are "ready to move on." I'm not convinced.

Elizabethtown's win could well have been a loss if a passing play called by Knox in the final minutes of the game had been a kick instead. With a fresh set of downs at the four-yard line, Knox quarterback Troy Meno threw into the end zone and wound up with a pick instead of a touchdown.

An easier call for Knox that night might have been to kick a short field goal instead of relying on a questionable pass.

But hey, I'm not the coach. All I'm saying is that the Panthers' win didn't exactly come in a rout, and certainly isn't much of a springboard to use going into the rest of their district schedule -- not with heavy-hitters LaRue County and Louisville Western still on their schedule, and an earlier savage beating by Central Hardin still shadowing them.

The Eagles, while young, have shown themselves to be a tenacious team. They drew first blood at Fort Campbell with a field goal by kicker Ryan Ogden, and nearly reversed the tide of the Elizabethtown game after a strong second quarter and a near-win in the fourth. They barely lost their season opener to Class 4-A Oldham County.

Given the relative youth of the Knox squad, one would expect the point spread to be widening instead of narrowing this year. But that isn't the case.

The make-up of a military high school football team understandably ebbs and flows a bit faster than civilian high schools, and Knox may have a high tide coming soon if recommendations by the Base Realignment and Closure commission are finalized. With a net gain of assigned personnel, Class 1-A Fort Knox is going to have a lot more potential players to choose from, and if the work ethic remains the same, the Eagles could soon be a force to be reckoned with.

My advice to the gloaters in Fort Campbell and E-town?

What goes around, comes around.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Press pass

Ahh. The almighty press pass. This baby is going to get me onto the field during the U.K. / Idaho State game in Lexington on Saturday, plus into the press box above the field, where there will be free food and up-to-the-minute game statistics.

It should be a good time, and most likely, blogworthy.


Katrina must be someone's fault!

...But Byron York doesn't think most people are willing to put all the blame on George W. Bush's doorstep.

If the issue wasn't so serious, it would be almost comical the way different extreme fringes try to assign blame. Pat Robertson's people are probably trying to explain how God sent the hurricane to wipe out the harlots and homosexuals in New Orleans. And the Fahrenheit 9/11 crowd says the warm currents caused by Bush's refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty are the reason the devastating storm decimated the Gulf Coast.

These are both good cases of oxygen theft -- oxygen that might be better used by rescue workers who are on the scene actually trying to help. A buddy of mine, who joined the Army Reserve shortly after I shipped to Basic and only recently returned from a lengthy tour in Iraq called while I was having dinner the other night. He said he's volunteering to go down with a detailed unit to the affected area to help out for 30-60 days.

Firefighters have been collecting donations on the highways here, and last I heard, they'd come up with $70,000 in drive-by donations.

Kanye West, Pat Robertson, Fred Phelps, and everyone using this as a political springboard, please follow these instructions carefully:

Shut the hell up.


New header!

Check it out - I've made a new header for the site. It's a dolled-up photo of all the reporter's notebooks I dug out of my desk. Let me know if it looks okay, or if it doesn't work properly with your screen. If it doesn't work, I'll be asking you to tell me how to fix it.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

New Orleans

When I look at the figures involved in Major League Baseball contracts -- $16 million here, $250 million there -- I find it impossible to actually imagine the practical difference between sums of that magnitude. That's because I can't actually conceptualize a million or a billion -- they're abstract concepts in my head, the concrete numbers defy any effort to contain them in a thought. Try thinking of a million things. I can't.

I find it similarly impossible to imagine the scope of the Hurricane Katrina disaster that's left much of the Gulf Coast in a state of near-anarchy. The sheer size of the area devastated is impossible to get a clear grip on, and the best anyone can do is show little snapshots of it -- flooded streets, crying children, and rampaging looters.

The people affected by this disaster have lost everything they once knew as the constants in their lives. Homes -- where they sleep at night, where they make breakfast, the doorways they walk out on their way to work -- it's all gone. And those are the ones who've managed to escape with their lives.

Survivors are being moved to shelters across the country, including Louisville. This is temporary, but if they return to their homes, nothing will be left.

It's disheartening, to say the least, to see what the local response has been in Louisiana and other affected areas. In New Orleans, notably, "civil unrest" broke out shortly after Katrina moved north: looting, raping, pillaging, destroying... groups gathered weapons from abandoned gun stores and became armed gangs. Shots were fired at rescue workers and medical command helicopters. The National Guard is pulling troops deployed to Iraq back home so they can be on-scene for what may be, unbelievably, a more chaotic situation than the one they're already in.

But while savage opportunism makes a play for power in the ruins of New Orleans, one can look for more hopeful signs in the rest of the country, where an amazing level of grassroots support is being shown. Friday, I went to a single-A football game in Elizabethtown, and in a pass-the-hat collection during halftime, the crowd donated more than $915 to the relief cause.

Firefighters were out on the main roads over the holiday weekend as I drove back to Fort Knox. They had a hook-and-ladder truck parked in the median, with an American flag and a Red Cross flag hung from the ladder rigging. They were taking donations from passing vehicles.

And in the meantime, our representatives are politicizing the issue, turning this human tragedy into campaign ammunition. Hip-hop artist Kanye West has decided that "George Bush doesn't care about black people," (hat tip to Greg) and German papers have actually blamed the American president for the disaster itself.

Opportunists like these are doing essentially the same thing the looters in New Orleans are doing: using the disaster as a chance to grab up everything they can while the rules are temporarily suspended.

Fortunately, not everyone is a greedy bastard. Greyhawk sent out this list of helpful information on Guard soldiers deployed to the region:

Useful public service request - help spread the word. - contact info for military families displaced by Katrina (also a great collection of news releases on the military efforts in hurricane relief) - info for Guard families impacted by the storm. - info for getting deployed Guard members in touch with their families who might be displaced by the storm - and vice versa. I compiled them here, but it's more important to get folks to those other pages. Feel free to ignore this one.
Thanks to everyone whose heart and mind is in the right place regarding this issue.


UPDATE: Open Post at Mudville.
UPDATE: Open Post at bRight & Early.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Wacko Alert!

Hey folks -- this is too good not to post about. Check out this site by a guy who calls himself Dean Berry: "U.S. TROOPS ARE ANTICHRISTIAN."

Here's the hook: Old Dean forgets to take his meds every so often, and spurts out a "transcript" of a chat with some soldier he brands as antichristian, satanist, atheist, wiccan, or whatever.

It's an amusing read. Dean -- talk to your doctor about Haldol. Side effects may include coma, which is something no one would be too upset about, in your case.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Americans determined to have the rest of the world make fun of them

Evolution. A touchy subject, yeah?

Well, according to the New York Times, a recent poll has found that 64 percent of Americans think that "creationism" should be taught alongside evolution in schools.

This is stupid.

The reason this is so stupid is because the two ideas -- the theory of evolution and the religious belief that everything in the universe was created by a supreme being -- aren't talking about the same thing. They aren't about the same subject. They are two very different ideas that do not intersect at any point in their definitions.

"Creationism," or as it's being called more often "intelligent design," is a religious philosophy about the ultimate origin of things.

Evolutionary theory, on the other hand, is a school of thought designed to explain physical, observable phenomena, such as the fossil record, dinosaur bones, and apparent similarities between disparate species.

But Charles Darwin, that godless hell-bound communist, thought up that idea, which means that it's bad, and that the opposing theory must be true: God created everything in the universe in seven days, and everything that is must be exactly as it was at the time of creation.

While I was in high school, my Boy Scout troop took a trip to a greathouse built in the Adirondacks by the Vanderbilt family as a summer retreat from Manhattan. In this 100-year-old mountain getaway's yard, the family had a bowling alley installed. When any average-sized male walks into this bowling alley today, he must duck, since the ceiling is so low.

That's because people are taller today than they were 100 years ago.

I'm going to take a break here to let all the people who think God put dinosaur bones in the ground leave and surf on over to Pat Robertson's site, where they can figure out ways to assassinate South American dictators.


Here's the thing. The theory of evolution doens't preclude the involvement or design by a God on its own merits.

So why teach religion in classrooms? Could it be to establish authority over people who don't believe in the majority's system of faith?


Anyone feel like looking up Galileo and his crazy, heathen idea that the earth revolved around the sun?


Postscript - I thought about this post for a while, and wound up saving half and finishing it because I didn't have time to write a thesis on it. Anyway, I hope the point is wel-taken, and that people realize that what I'm saying is the two theories aren't incompatible. God can indeed exist alongside evolution. Take your pick - Monkeys or Mud.

NPR: Few shoulder the burden of war

I found this interesting article on NPR is widely-derided among conservatives as being the mouthpiece of some sort of left-wing cabal, but I've found that they run enough stories highlighting both sides of the political spectrum to at least please my own libertarian tastes.

But anyway -- back to the article, titled "The Inequity of Wartime Sacrifice," by NPR's Ron Elving:

[T]he main equity issue comes with active service. Today we rely on true volunteers to fill all the branches. Elected officeholders have chosen this course, and professional military officers greatly prefer to lead "people who want to be here." But the downside is that the burden falls on the few. And that sacrifice can be great, even for those who come home alive and whole.

So the chasm is greater and growing between those who fulfill their "service obligation" (as it once was called) and those who never even consider it.

This inequity finds its epitome in the high re-enlistment rates among regular Army and Marine troops in Iraq. Having done their part, these men and women volunteer anew and do their part a second and even a third time. The Pentagon has to be not only proud of this cohort but grateful as well, because fresh recruits for Iraq are getting harder to find. Once again, the idea of sacrifice shared by all has given way to super-sacrifice by the few.

Read the whole thing.

That the war in Iraq is being fought by so few Americans is troubling to me, particularly since there's so much flag- and yellow ribbon-waving going on "on the home front." Demonstrations of "troop support" are everywhere, particularly around places like Kentucky, where you can't swing a dead cow around without hitting a car plastered with "Support the Troops" magnets.

Magnets, ribbons, banners, and flags may ease the consciences of those who display them, but ultimately they're just superficial symbols that don't really benefit anyone except the person showing them off.

As recruiting numbers sputter into the end of the year, one wonders why the country's political leadership hasn't made some kind of plea to the American people -- a "call to arms." The reason it hasn't happened can't be because of fears of a Democratic party backlash; Democrats whine and complain about anything the staunchly-Republican administration does, not because of the merits or faults of any specific action, but because it was Republicans who thought it up.

Soldiers are lining up to re-enlist in Iraq. Others are re-enlisting back here in the states. I won't be among them when my window opens up, but I admire them for again making that commitment that so few Americans are willing to make, because for millions, the war in Iraq is best served as just one more "Reality TV" storyline.


Playing catch-up

I think Cindy Sheehan, Inc. have worn out their welcome.

It seems like most of the media outlets (apart from her own) is jumping ship like rats on the Titanic. For instance, check out this Associated Press story:

WASHINGTON - People with friends or relatives serving in Iraq are more likely than others to have a positive view of a generally unpopular war, an AP-Ipsos poll found.

Some of those surveyed said their relationships with troops helped them learn more about what's going on in Iraq beyond the violence. Others said their opinions of the war were shaped by a sense of loyalty to those in harm's way.

What? Cindy Sheehan doesn't represent how everyone feels about the war? What about that iconic status? Isn't she a symbol for all parents with children in the military?
After Ted Chittum of Bourbon, Ind., had a chance to talk at length with his cousin who served in Iraq, he said he got a different picture of what was going on in the country.

"He talked about all the good things that are going on," said Chittum, a school superintendent and a political independent who supports the war effort. "Schools are opening up. The people are friendly, wanting our help. You get a whole different spin from what you get on television."

That doesn't change President Bush's abysmal approval ratings, but I've never really given a serious fart in the wind about polls -- I mean, these are the same people who are making Staind's new album a number-one bestseller. People are stupid.

Oh, Aaron Lewis. I hate you so much. Please read this and then go sit on your barstool and cry, you bald bag of emo bullshit. Why did they have to give you a career in anything other than home plumbing? Whatever A&R guy "discovered" you deserves a special place in hell for subjecting us to the soulless crud you croak out on MTV.

Speaking of hell, they really should build a new layer and fill it with people just like you, Aaron Lewis -- including Scott Stapp of Creed, the entire cast and crew of Linkin Park, Evanescence, Papa Roach, Nickelback, and every band whose name ends in a numeral.

This post wasn't meant to be about music, but I get pretty worked up when I start thinking about this stuff.