Monthly Archives: January 2009

Ian Thorpe And Those Speculations

Denying Those Rumours

Poor fella. The world keeps saying he’s gay and he’s out to deny it. And so he says, he can’t be gay because he’s in a relationship with Angela Beard. Angela Beard flatly denied they were in any kind of romantic involvement.

“It’s baloney,” her agent Evan Morganstein told The Daily Telegraph.

As speculation swirls around Mr Thorpe’s friendship with his Brazilian flatmate Daniel Mendes,  Beard was adamant that she and Thorpe were never an item.

But Thorpe maintains he is not gay.

The retired superstar swimmer was again forced to deny rumours he is gay after he was photographed with Mendes on holiday in Brazil where they had been visiting Mendes’ family.

Thorpe’s management issued a statement pointing to his comments in a 2007 magazine article in which he spoke of his affair with Beard.

“Well, I did have a long-term, long-distance relationship (with champion American breaststroker Amanda Beard), and it was great while it lasted. It was sort of public knowledge we were seeing each other, and yet not. It went on for ages, years,” he was quoted as saying.

But Beard, 27, yesterday told her agent: “Take out the word relationship and put in the word friendship and that’s exactly what it was.”

As beards go, she’s not doing a very good job of it for Ian Thorpe.

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That Joe Torre Book

You Folded, You Told It, Then You Sold It

The rhubarb and ballyhoo at the moment is the upcoming book allegedly written by Tom Verducci and Joe Torre, covering the non-Championship years of the recent Yankee Dynasty. It’s a bit depressing that Joe Torre of all people would want to write such a kiss-and-tell book when he was the manager who suffered under the repurcussions of David Wells’ book back in 2003.

He of all people should know what any book to do with the Yankees would do to his successor Joe Girardi; or perhaps that is exactly why he did it. It’s hard to say. At best of times the greater audicen and fandom of any sporting franchise canonly try and interpret the semaphore signals the franchise front office sends about what it is trying to do. This is not particularly a Yankees thing, it applies to teams of all sporting codes.

At the end of the day, the only thing that remains are the results and the stats that lie there under the hard stare of sunlight. What happens during the dark of moving players, signing contracts, arguing merits and demerits just doesn’t matter. Who knows what people’s intentions or opinions are? It’s an epistemological nightmare jungle of ‘Doxa’ trying to untangle that mess. As an audience you can sort of interpret what people say and build some kind of picture, but it’s likely to be just as ridiculous as any Action movie plot.

In the end, there’s just Win or Lose, that’s just it.

The fact that A-Rod might or might not be ‘A-Fraud’ is just so tangential to the tangential that one strongly doubts the value of recounting the silly days of the 2004 playoffs. The Yankees lost. They got turned around from a 3-0 position and lost 4 games. They screwed the pooch, they went down in flames. It’s painful to even reflect on it. A book trying to pin THAT postseason on the persona of one Alex Rodriguez is just plain silly.

What’s more bizarre is the gyrating non-logic by the alleged authors, Verducci and  Torre trying to distance themselves from the controversial content. It’s a little like a game of “Who Farted?” in an empty lift. Their names are on the cover. It *must* be their book. I know people who have struggled their entire adult lives to get a book published. If somebody publishes a book with your name on it (and you don’t sue because they have your consent to use your name), we have to assume the authorship rests with you.

Thus, it brings to us a realisation with a sickly hue of sadness that Joe Torre wants to exploit the Yankee legacy once more for a buck. After all that talk about professionalism and keeping things in the clubhouse and being tightlipped to keep a tight ship, we get this book. We can only assume he invested with Madoff or he banked with the Lehman Brothers.

One More Time For The World

I REALLY wish the Australian press would give it up. Andy Roddick IS NOT ‘A-Rod’!!

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Blogging Headlines

Jelena Dokic

What do we make of her comeback? She was, after all, a No.4 player in her teens. She used to be a nutty player who had deep shots but awful shot selection and very little patience. The talent was all there to see, but it was hardly the case that her game was something you could call sophisticated or crafty. She was obviously so young and tunnel-visioned.

Since then she’s exploded, imploded, gotten depressed, gotten over it and comeback to make a good showing at this year’s Australian Open.I’m very impressed with anybody who can overcome what she overcame to getting back. After all, having Damir Dokic as your father would be a very emotionally distorting experience, but she seems to have figured out what the rest of us knew for some time: he’s BARKING MAD.

So, while the Australian public has forgiven her and embraced her, the media has continued its love affair with the BARKING MAD Damir by trying to orchestrate an unwanted reunion. For Jelena’s sake we hope they throw that idea away. The headlines of Damir picking fights with officials an embarrassing her daughter should be consigned to the rubbish bin of history. It’s time to let the gal show us what she’s really got. She may still win it all at a grand slam in the next couple of years.

Sourcewatch

One of my favorite sites is Sourcewatch.There’s a link to the right. They are full of interesting information about who owns what media, and who is in the payroll of what interests. I originally stumbled across them a couple of years ago and blogged them here. It’s interesting to note that the world has moved on considerably since then, and perhaps the day of the Global Warming sceptics is coming to an end. Certainly, there’s been a seismic shift in the way Climate Change is covered by the media.

Which brings me to the topic du jour, Mr Al Gore!

Al Gore Has His Say

Al Gore returned to the US Senate to say his piece about Global Warming.

Statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
As Prepared
Hon. Al Gore
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We are here today to talk about how we as Americans and how the United States of America as part of the global community should address the dangerous and growing threat of the climate crisis. We have arrived at a moment of decision. Our home – Earth – is in grave danger. What is at risk of being destroyed is not the planet itself, of course, but the conditions that have made it hospitable for human beings.

Moreover, we must face up to this urgent and unprecedented threat to the existence of our civilization at a time when our country must simultaneously solve two other worsening crises. Our economy is in its deepest recession since the 1930s. And our national security is endangered by a vicious terrorist network and the complex challenge of ending the war in Iraq honorably while winning the military and political struggle in Afghanistan. As we search for solutions to all three of these challenges, it is becoming clearer that they are linked by a common thread – our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels.

As long as we continue to send hundreds of billions of dollars for foreign oil – year after year – to the most dangerous and unstable regions of the world, our national security will continue to be at risk.

As long as we continue to allow our economy to remain shackled to the OPEC rollercoaster of rising and falling oil prices, our jobs and our way of life will remain at risk. Moreover, as the demand for oil worldwide grows rapidly over the longer term, even as the rate of new discoveries is falling, it is increasingly obvious that the roller coaster is headed for a crash. And we’re in the front car.

And so on…

You’d think he had the easier choice. George Mitchell is off to talk to the Palestinians. 🙂

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The Pettitte Signing

Welcome Back Again

With the signing, the 5th Starter spot now goes to Andy Pettitte. There really wasn’t much discussion around Andy Pettitte this winter, but his RSAR is projected to be about 24.5 according to Replacement Level Yankee Weblog’s projection system CAIRO.

Scanning down the CAIRO spreadsheet, Carlos Zambrano is projecting to be about 26.3 runs saved above replacement; Chad Billingsly at 27.9(!); Chien-Ming Wang is 24.1; Mark Buehrle 24.5 and so on. Pettitte projects to be about to 41st best Pitcher in MLB. That’s a solid No. 2 on most teams, with Wang not far behind at 43rd. AJ Burnett and Joba are at 20 and 34 respectively, so  *if* they’re not quite Aces, you get the picture where the Yankees are going to trot out a very good No. 2 starter every outing where they don’t send out a dominant Ace in Sabathia.

Just as an aside, Hughes comes in at 11.3 RSAR/ No.141 and Ian Kennedy at No. 158/ 10.1 RSAR. They’re solidly No.3 guys on an ‘average’ team, and they don’t make the roster at all.

A quick look at Pettitte projection over at FanGraphs says:

  • Bill James: ERA 3.90 192IP
  • CHONE: ERA 4.31 167IP
  • Marcel: ERA 4.48 183IP

That’s not a medicore player. His BABIP has been Yankee-Unlucky, in as much their defense has not been very good, his K/BB is solid. That’s a pretty good bargain for $5.5million with incentives. Even with the depressd marlet, it’s hard to imagine Mark Buerhle getting that deal in a proper free market, so you have to say the Yankees got an amazing bargain.

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Guantanamo Blues – Handling The Truth

Taking The Git Out of ‘Gitmo’

Prior to Camp X-Ray, I think the only way most people knew about the base in Guantanamo Bay would have been because of ‘A Few Good Men’. In that film of course we find the defiant Colonel Jessup played by Jack Nicholson. Colonel Jessup tells us he does ungodly things in the name of the United States, things that are done by hard discipline and rigorous application to duty, that allows the rest of the United States to sleep safely at night.

Of course Tom Cruise’s character Dan Kaffee bests him in court when baited, Jessup tells the court that on Gitmo, he is God. And of course that’s been the problem with Guantanamo Bay in real life. He famously thunders at tom Cruise that he, – and by extension, us, the audience – cannot handle the Truth. The so-called real-life terrorists held in Gitmo were sent there because Gitmo  exists in a kind of legal grey area where due process under the law could sneak past. At the time it was argued against in the Supreme Court, the Judges had to admit that things that happened on Gitmo lay just beyond the reach of their jurisdiction.

I recall laughing out loud at the audaciousness of the Neo-Cons to construct a ruse so evil, so legalistic, so sophisticated in its sophistry, but I have to admit I was one of the few. There’s nothing funny about a place where they torture people without trial or recourse to a legal defense. The horrors of the place are doubtlessly giving David Hicks nightmares to this day. Guantanamo Bay was the end result of a Machiavelli’s The Prince, misapplied. The horror of which is  only beginning to be wound down under the new White House.

Thus it is with a bit of irony that I present this article sent in by Pleiades:

As a juvenile, Jawad should have been treated with care, held separately from the adult population and provided educational and other rehabilitation services. Instead, he was placed in isolation and deprived of sleep. More than once he tried to commit suicide, according to detainee records.

Eventually I learned of evidence from field reports suggesting that he was innocent. The reports indicated that he had been recruited by terrorists who drugged him and lied to him, and that others had probably perpetrated the offenses with which he was being charged. It took me a long time to obtain this evidence. I had sought it repeatedly, and military investigators had repeatedly denied me access to it. Only after long delays and many, many requests was it finally given to me, because even after nearly seven years, the military commissions do not have a system in place for discovering exculpatory evidence or providing it to the defense.

I tried to negotiate an agreement to have Jawad rehabilitated and sent back to Afghanistan, where he could be reunited with his family. It was clear to me that he should not have been imprisoned any longer. But the chief prosecutor dismissed that idea out of hand.

I wasn’t able to discuss any of the cases I was working on with family or friends because most of the information I was working with was classified. As I sank deeper and deeper into despair, I turned to a Jesuit priest who has written and spoken widely about justice, Father John Dear. I could not give Father John much detail, but he understood my plight immediately. “Quit Gitmo,” he said without hesitation. “The whole world knows it is a farce. Refuse to cooperate with evil, and start your life over.”

And that was just the prosecutor having a devil of a time out in Gitmo. It’s a good thing Camp X-Ray is getting wound down. If you had read Foucault, none of this would have come as a surprise. The War on Terror has managed to tick all the boxes and left America morally bankrupt.

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Bank

Global Fried Chicken

Last week I had a problem with my credit card. I rang the bank to sort it out. At the end of the conversation, the guy said they could raise my credit limit.
“Dude,” I said “there’s a credit crunch going on and you want to extend credit to me?”
“Yes sir, you’ve been a great customer.”
“Don’t you guys learn?” I asked and the guy simply laughed.

He knew it was ridiculous. I still have to ask, “Don’t these people learn?”

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Gran Tornio

Made My Day

It’s good to see Clint Eastwood do his thing. He’s evolved into a great dean of American Cinema now as his heavily creased face and age-withered gait has reduced him from the fluid gun-slinging actor he was in his youth. You all know I’m a big Clint fan. I suffered through such films as ‘The Rookie’ just to watch him blow away bad guys – which is in its essence, is a Western just like this film, the life blood of American cinema.

‘Gran Torino’ is a lot more subdued with the action and the stakes are a lot lower, but no less valuable. The script oozes with character observation that Eastwood seizes upon. The menace and rage has been compressed into a nostalgia for the 1970s, as symbolised by the 1972 Ford Gran Torino. In the early 1970s our man Clint was blowing them away in ‘Dirty Harry’ and ‘Magnum Force’, smouldering with rage at the irrational breakdown of the American social fabric. Here he is again, doing the dirty deed to keep society intact.

What’s Good About It

The script gets high praise, and it is very deserving. It pays very careful attention to character and space as well as time and occasion. Best of all, the script is very entertaining from moment, and you can watch these characters without needing to kick things along with plot mechanisms. the plot circles back to the point easily enough to explore the textures of this story along the way.

The directing is also good. It’s muscular, sinewy and simple, just like the man you see. There are no swooping camera moves, just gentle moves that show draw attention to what is important in the scene. It is a substance-over-style kind of directing that Baz Luhrman ought to study a bit more. Eastwood has never been a flashy kind of director as who makes camera moves that draw attention to themselves, but I think he is every bit as important a film maker as Stanley Kubrick. Let’s face it, the man has at least 7 classic directing efforts to his name, and this might even be on that last.

What’s Bad About It

I’m hard-pressed to think of anything bad about this film at all. It’s a film with an embarrassment of riches. It was a choice o this film, ‘Revolutionary Road’, or ‘Valkyrie’, or ‘The Wrestler’ and it was relatively easy to say, “I want to see the Clint Eastwood movie”.

What’s Interesting About The Film

Having directed two films about WWII, and Iwo jima in particular, Eastwood play a guy who fought in the Korean War. If there ever was a forgotten war, the Korean War might be it. After all the hoopla about the Vietnam war and all the films dedicated to, the Korean War’s biggest screen representation remain MASH and its TV show that ran a colossal 10 seasons.

You come to realise that the 20th Century American fought like the Romans and in the century, it changed the tenor of its culture. The Hmong community that is bourne our of the Vietnam War moves into Clint’s character Walt’s neighbourhood. In a sense, the other wars America has fought has come to roost in his neighborhood. He tries to make sense of it through his Korean War experience only to find it inadequate.

You can read the film as the Thao character’s initiation into the American mainstream, or as the concession by mainstream America that the mainstream itself cannot be defined by the old white neighborhood. Not a difficult topic in the year Barrack Obama takes office in the White House. What’s poignant about is that Clint Eastwood the director is seems to be seeing past that point into a future America, based on the weight of his previous films.

People have been making a point about the politically incorrect banter that pours forth in the film, but the profanity and racist epithets seem to be no big deal next to the real issues that are mounting. The issues of respect and self-respect come back like the returning repressed, but what is interesting is that it is the politically correct language that has somehow repressed respect.

I don’t know if I can go with that notion. I mean, it sucks to be demeaned, and it sucks to be patronised, but at least the script seem to be saying that being patronised is worse than merely demeaned. There are worse things than being verbally demeaned, and the film is explicit about showing us the miseries of middleclass life, running parallel to the miseries of disenfranchised life.

Here’s a spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the film:

When in the end, Eastwood’s character Walt steps up to being a hero once more, and a Eastwood character must – he chooses to be a self-sacrificing hero. On this occasion the Eastwood character does not choose to do violence unto the other, but rather in a most Christian way, turns the other cheek and die as sacrifice to save his friend Thao.  As Eastwood’s Walt lies bleeding to death, he lies there with both arms out, like a crucifix. It echoes the Catholic guilt in ‘Million Dollar Baby’ but is also echoes the final scene in ‘Dirty Harry’ where he casts his detective’s badge into the water.

You think ‘this is hokum’ and at the same time, you feel, ‘Wow, he got there’. After all these years, I remain an Eastwood fan.

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