Occupy Wall Street

November 13, 2011

From the great Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, the best political writer in the country, an insightful take on Occupy Wall Street:

You can, and should, read the whole thing, but here are a few brilliant nuggets like this…

 “Occupy Wall Street was always about something much bigger than a movement against big banks and modern finance. It’s about providing a forum for people to show how tired they are not just of Wall Street, but everything. This is a visceral, impassioned, deep-seated rejection of the entire direction of our society, a refusal to take even one more step forward into the shallow commercial abyss of phoniness, short-term calculation, withered idealism and intellectual bankruptcy that American mass society has become.”

 …and this

 “We’re all born wanting the freedom to imagine a better and more beautiful future. But modern America has become a place so drearily confining and predictable that it chokes the life out of that built-in desire. Everything from our pop culture to our economy to our politics feels oppressive and unresponsive. We see 10 million commercials a day, and every day is the same life-killing chase for money, money and more money; the only thing that changes from minute to minute is that every tick of the clock brings with it another space-age vendor dreaming up some new way to try to sell you something or reach into your pocket.”

 …and this

 “There’s no better symbol of the gloom and psychological repression of modern America than the banking system, a huge heartless machine that attaches itself to you at an early age, and from which there is no escape. You fail to receive a few past-due notices about a $19 payment you missed on that TV you bought at Circuit City, and next thing you know a collector has filed a judgment against you for $3,000 in fees and interest. Or maybe you wake up one morning and your car is gone, legally repossessed by Vulture Inc., the debt-buying firm that bought your loan on the Internet from Chase for two cents on the dollar. This is why people hate Wall Street. They hate it because the banks have made life for ordinary people a vicious tightrope act; you slip anywhere along the way, it’s 10,000 feet down into a vat of razor blades that you can never climb out of.”

 …OK, one more

“Eventually the Occupy movement will need to be specific about how it wants to change the world. But for right now, it just needs to grow. And if it wants to sleep on the streets for a while and not structure itself into a traditional campaign of grassroots organizing, it should. It doesn’t need to tell the world what it wants. It is succeeding, for now, just by being something different.”

Great, great stuff.

The One Percent Are Doing Just Fine…

November 13, 2011

..it’s us 99 percent that feed this beast:

You Can’t Spell Elite…

November 7, 2011

…without E-L-I.  Yes, that Eli.  Yes, the “other” Manning.  Can we finally end the discussion about whether or not Eli belongs on the short list of elite QBs in the NFL after yesterday’s dramatic comeback, two of them actually, against the Pats in New England?

He led the Giants on two drives in the last seven minutes — one for 85 yards, one for 80 yards — against a Pats team that had won 20 straight regular season home games overall (of course, they have lost their last two home playoff games) and 31 straight with Brady at QB.  All this without his best receiver and his best running back, although special notice to Brandon Jacobs who played his best game in a while in the absence of Bradshaw, as well as continued good play by Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard (don’t hear anyone bitching about Steve Smith or Kevin Boss any more, do you?) and, finally, the emergence of Ramses Barden who we’ve been waiting for since he got hurt last year.

And, while we ‘re at it, kudos to the much-maligned Giants LB corps, especially Kiwanuka and Boley who combined for 22 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble.

Nicely done, Big Blue.

That’s Baseball, Susan…

September 29, 2011

…as Yankee radio announcer John Sterling is fond of saying to his broadcast partner.  Live, unpredictable, unscripted drama, which is what makes sports the best kind of reality TV.

Last night, the Red Sox and Braves completed the two worst September collapses in baseball history (9-game and 8 1/2-game leads, respectively).  In less than five minutes of actual time, the Red Sox blew a ninth-inning lead to the Orioles and the Rays improbably overcame a 7-0 deficit to the Yankees to gain the AL Wild Card.

A few “fun facts” from last night:

  • The Yankees had not blown a lead that big, that late in any game since…1953!!
  • This season, the Red Sox were 76-0 when leading entering the ninth inning…until Game 162.
  • Evan Longoria became just the second player in baseball history to hit a walkoff HR in the last game of the season to put his team into the postseason.  The first?  Bobby Thompson and The Shot Heard Round The World in 1951.
  • The Red Sox started the season 2-10 and finished it 7-20; that’s 9-30 if you’re keeping score.  It also means in the 4 1/2 months in between, they were 81-42, nearly 40 games over .500, and now they’re going home.   Sweet Caroline, indeed.

Nights like last night can only happen in baseball.   As Redford said so simply yet dramatically to Glenn Close in The Natural: “God I love baseball.”

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts…

September 24, 2011

…Can’t Lose.  Great retrospective piece on what was the best drama on network television, “Friday Night Lights.”

The Rich Get Richer…

September 23, 2011

Interesting chart:

Inequality-page25_actualdistribwithlegend

With Friends Like These…

September 23, 2011

The world leaders in the death penalty, in order of number of executions in 2010:

1. China
2. Iran
3. North Korea
4. Yemen
5. USA
6. Saudi Arabia
7. Libya
8. Syria
9. Bangladesh
10. Somalia

There’s something to be said about the company you keep.

Please, I’m Begging You…

September 11, 2011

…stop,  just stop.   This 10th “anniversary” of 9/11 is killing me.  What the hell does the NFL have to do with 9/11?  Every commercial, every break in the action, dopey ribbons, lapel pins, red, white and blue uniform accessories, flags and on and on.  More phony patriotism and “mourning porn” than I can stand.  Enough already. 

And, in case no one noticed, the terrorists won.  As a country we are fucked and have been for the past ten years.  We’re bankrupt, fighting two endless wars with no purpose, we’ve shredded the Constitution and our other supposed principles from wiretaps and illegal searches to torture and other war crimes.

Here’s the real legacy of 9/11:

Scandal? What Scandal?

July 25, 2011

Phone-hacking, you say?  By News Corp. employees?  Can’t be so; let’s ask the geniuses at Fox & Friends:

TomTomorrow

Captain Clutch

July 9, 2011

Wow.  An amazing, extraordinary accomplishment by the Yankee Captain and Shortshop Derek Jeter and yet another chill-inducing, magical moment at Yankee Stadium this afternoon.  How amazing, how extraordinary?  Let me put the accomplishment itself into perspective, then Jeter’s place in baseball and Yankee history.

First, how impressive is 3,000 hits?  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 17,000 people have played major league baseball and Jeter is just the 28th player to achieve the 3,000-hit milestone.  Not to mention, of course, that he’s the first Yankee to so.  Not The Babe.  Not Gehrig.  Not Joe D.  Not The Mick.  No Yankee, ever before. 

And he ain’t done yet.  By the end of this season, he’ll certainly pass, among others, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline, Wade Boggs, Lou Brock, Rod Carew and Rickey Henderson to become 18th on the list, just behind Dave Winfield.  And he has a shot to crack the top ten before he retires.  He’ll need about 280 more hits this year and the next two to pass Willie Mays for that distinction.  Other facts:

  • He’s the 4th-youngest of the group, behind only Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Robin Yount, turning 37 two weeks ago.
  • He’s just the second player to hit a home run for his 3,000th hit, after former teammate Wade Boggs.
  • He’s the 15th player on the list to get 3,000 hits all with the same team.
  • After Honus Wagner (who got his 3,00th hit in 1914, two years after the sinking of the Titanic), he’s only the second SS to get there, as both Cal Ripken, Jr. (3B) and Robin Yount (CF) had moved to other positions by the time they got to 3,000.  Ripken did play most of his career at SS, but Yount played half his career in CF.

Next question.  Is Derek Jeter the greatest SS in baseball history?  You tell me.  Five-time World Champion, including a World Series MVP; 12-time All-Star, including an All-Star Game MVP, .313 lifetime batting average and five Gold Gloves.

Most people consider Wagner the greatest SS (he had 3,415 hits), but he played a century ago and no one alive saw him play.  Ozzie Smith is clearly the best-ever defender at the position, but not in his wildest dreams could he hit with Jeter.  Ripken?  More power for sure, but a .276 lifetime BA and two Gold Gloves, before moving to 3B.  Yount?  He won one Gold Glove before moving to CF, leads Jeter by only 14 HRs and had a .285 lifetime BA.  Jeter has a higher slugging percentage than both of them.  Ernie Banks?  More than 500 HRs, but only 2,583 hits and he moved to first base.  Of course A-Rod is both a better hitter and fielder, but the fact is he’s been playing 3B for more than five years now and will wind up his career having played more 3B than SS.

And, let’s not forget that he has a .303 lifetime BA in the postseason with 20 HRs and 57 RBI.

Like I said, you tell me.

 Final question.  Where does he rank in Yankee history?  I think this one is relatively simple.  He’s clearly behind only the four true icons: Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle. The fifth spot is either Jeter, Yogi Berra or Rivera.  End of story.

And, as I’ve been writing this, Jeter has three more hits, including the game-winner, making him the first in the 3,000-hit club to go 5-5 in the game he gets to that mark.  So Jeter does something remarkable in a big moment.  Where have I seen that before?

Show-off.