Friday, April 15, 2005

Quizno's Baby

Now that's one scary little bastard.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Eat it, Red Sox

Sorry there haven't been any updates here lately. I've been pretty busy with Fortunately, the Religion Correspondent Peter Gray was willing to write this week's column review (which will be up this afternoon), so I thought I'd use this free time to talk about baseball.

This is borderline blasphemy, but on Opening Night this year, I cheered for the Yankees to beat the Red Sox. I did, I'll admit it. And it's not that I like the Yankees - I despise the Yankees. But I'm quickly coming to the somewhat confusing realization that I despise the Boston Red Sox.

I know what your thinking. "Scott, don't be so bitter. You're just pissed that the BoSox made your Cards look like a AA team in the Series last year. Red Sox Nation for life, baby!" Or something like that. And I'm sure there's some truth to that, but my hatred for the Red Sox had come to full fruition before the World Series even started last year. So I present to you, the case against the Red Sox:

The Red Sox are essentially the Yankees in a dishevled costume. They present themselves as a blue collar, laid back, populist kind of ball club. But that's total crap. They have the second-highest payroll in the league. The Sox and the Yankees are the only teams above the cap this year. You can't have a payroll of over $100 million and be blue collar. Hell, the Devil Rays aren't blue collar (Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling together make more than the entire Devil Rays team). The Yankees payroll is certainly higher than the Sox, but at least the Yankees don't try to disguise their wealth behind long hair, shaggy beards, and a laid back persona. Not that there's anything wrong with long hair and shaggy beards - in fact, I think both are extremely cool. However, when you are contractually bound to keep your long hair and beard because of a book deal (Johnny Damon), then you are undermining everything that's great about that look.

This brings me to the double standard in the sports media. When the Sox were down 3-0 in the ALCS last year, everyone on SportsCenter said, "The Red Sox are simply being outclassed. They don't take themselves or the game seriously enough." But when they made the miraculous comeback, the tune changed: "Oh, look how laid back and loose they are. It's so refreshing." Get out of my face.

And here's another problem with Red Sox Nation. For all the 80 year old men out there who had been waiting their entire lives to see a Red Sox championship, I feel great for them. Congrats, you've earned it. But let me speak to Red Sox fans who are my age (20somethings) or younger. Don't give me that crap about the curse and the pain of being a Red Sox fan. The last time the Cards won a World Series, I was four months old. So I'm in as much "pain" as any of you douchebags (not you, Kels, you're not a douchebag, and I know you've been a Sox fan for quite awhile - unlike the hordes of Red Sox fans who were sucked in over the past two seasons).

Being a Cardinals fan is absolutely glorious, even though we choked so badly in the Series. The Cardinals represent greatness - more World Series titles in their history than any other team in baseball except for the Yankees, and the most in the only real league in the game (get rid of the DH, and we can talk, American League). Set in a medium-sized market, St. Louis is consistently picked as the best baseball town in America. Why? There aren't 18,000 HBO special about them. They aren't nearly as marketable as the Sox or the Yanks. It's because their fans know and love the game of baseball. As they rolled to the best record in baseball last year, they still managed to fly under the radar of the Sox/Yanks. The Cardinals (and the Cubs, too, as much I hate to say it) represent the heartland, the pulse of America, not the urban jungles of the northeast. The Cardinals have built a fan base that stretches all over the country, and they have done it with unmatched class. Are the Cardinals a blue-collar team? Hell no. No MLB team is. But they represent a classiness and love for the beauty of baseball that is forgotten in the tabloid rivalry of the Yanks and Sox.

So there you have it, Red Sox fans. You can take "Fever Pitch" and Manny Ramirez and go jump in the Harbor. And what's with all the A-Rod insults during the offseason? You won the title! Just shut up and enjoy it! You're no longer "loveable losers," and the pitiful identity you've fabricated over the years is gone. Congratulations on the World Series, maybe now you can get back to being a baseball team and baseball fans instead of fairweather, whining goofballs. Eat it, Red Sox Nation. Cardinals win.


And now, the official "Gimme Some Truth" predictions for the 2005 season. The teams you should cheer for idea is completely stolen from Brian's blog.

NL East
Champ: Atlanta Braves
Team to cheer for: Washington Nationals
NL Central
Champ: St. Louis Cardinals
Team to cheer for: St. Louis Cardinals
NL West
Champ: San Diego Padres
Team to cheer for: San Diego Padres
NL Wild Card: Florida Marlins

AL East
Champ: New York Yankees
Team to cheer for: Baltimore Orioles
AL Central
Champ: Minnesota Twins
Team to cheer for: Anyone but the Royals (God, I hate the Royals)
AL West
Champ: Anaheim Angels
Team to cheer for: Oakland A's
AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox (bastards!)

NLCS: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Florida Marlins
ALCS: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox (gross)
World Series: St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Yankees in the last game ever at Busch Stadium. Glorious.

Thursday, March 03, 2005 is now completely up and running. Check it out and let me know what you think. Comments, suggestions, and contributions are welcome.

Monday, February 21, 2005

More Notes

Gay Marraige
Gay marraige is a tricky issue. There are numerous good arguments to be made on both sides. For those who oppose gay marraige, I feel like the strongest argument is that marraige, of any kind, is a religious institution and should be approached as such. The legal system is not the place to define marraige but to legally recognize unions. I probably disagree with this, but this is certainly a respectable position to take. What is not, in my opinion, a respectable position is to say that gay marraige undermines non-gay marraige. That's just ridiculous. If Frank and Jeff's marraige somehow waters down the sanctity of Jill and Henry's marraige, then there are problems with Jill and Henry's marraige.

Ann Coulter Is Going Down
Late Friday night at about 1:30 AM or so, I was watching Hannity & Colmes on Fox News, as I tend to do. Ann Coulter was a guest, and it was absolutely awful. I got so angry watching her act like a child that I started to wonder who pays this woman. I thought I might write letters to all publications who pay her for her work to inquire about why anyone would pay her to espouse such nonsense. She is such a terrible human being, and I think people need to know this. She's got to be stopped, and I decided that letter writing was insufficient. My anger could wear off, but it hasn't yet, and I've just registered the domain name If people have experience and tips about running a real webpage, drop me a line. I hope to have it up within a few days. Check back for more details later.

Have a nice Monday, everyone.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Random Notes

Sorry for the unannounced hiatus. I took the LSAT this past weekend and have just been generally distracted by that and other things. Also, a new blog will be starting sometime soon, authored by yours truly, Wil Oakes, Brian Hall, John Rogers, and Patrick Kelso. More later about that exciting project. But until then, here are my brief thoughts on things that have happened since my last post.

The 47th Grammy Awards
OK, I'm going to go ahead and say it. Green Day got screwed by a dead guy. All due respect to the late Ray Charles and his storied career, but Green Day's great album "American Idiot" fell victim to sympathy. Don't get me wrong here. I like Ray Charles. I think you'd have to be clinically insane to not at least kind of like Ray Charles, but even his biggest fans admit that "Genius Loves Company" is not even in the same league as his best work. "American Idiot", on the other hand, is, by far, Green Day's masterpiece. In an era where the whole concept of the album continues to decline, Green Day came out with a politically charged, intelligent, and coherent record with recurring themes and a storyline - a "punk rock opera" as they call it. An album like this is highly ambitious, but it works. "Genius Loves Company" is a compilation of duets, at least some of which were not written by Mr. Charles. Indeed, Ray Charles deserves to be honored, but lets face it people - Green Day got screwed. They did receive the award for Best Rock Album, but that was a given. I really think the Grammy's dropped the ball on this one. But I guess getting screwed by the man is what punk rock is all about.

Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training today for many teams, marking the glorious birth of baseball in 2005. Yes, it is still six weeks until the season actually begins, but this is light of hope in the darkness of a winter without hockey. Wait, what's that? Nobody likes hockey? Oh yeah, I forgot. Anyway, baseball, steroids craziness aside, is still pretty glorious, and today marks the inevitability of its triumphant return.

More to come soon, I promise.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Social Security and Taxation

I had a conversation with a more conservative friend of mine this past weekend about taxes and social security. I've been thinking and reading about the issue of social security for some time now with the privatization efforts in full swing, and I've developed a theory, upon which I will elaborate: The desire, on the part of wealthy and middle class Americans, to privatize social security and lower taxes comes less from a philosophical opposition to taxes and more from a fundamental misunderstanding of real poverty. This friend of mine, like many people, constantly complains about taxes. He claims that his working overtime for a week bumped him up into a different tax bracket and he ended up making less for 48 hours than he would have for 40. Now, if this is true, then it was a mistake on the part of his employer and he can file that and get refunded. But that's beside the point. This is really just his latest talking point to use in his justification for drastic tax reform (He supports a flat tax). I feel that many opponents of social security think that it's essentially a welfare system, and they resent it because it's redistributive. And why would they resent something that's at all redistributive? Because of a fundamental misunderstanding of poverty.

OK, let me back up a little bit. First let me note that social security is not in crisis. It's just not. If you oppose it on some philosophical level, fine, but don't lie and says it's in crisis. President Bush probably knows there isn't a crisis, so he's trying to scare people into supporting his agenda. The social security system has been and continues to take in more than in gives out so that it will avoid a crisis when the baby boom generation becomes eligible. We are fifty years or so away from any kind of "crisis" at all, and we could help avoid such a long term problem by not cutting taxes the way we are and not running up $855 billion dollars in deficits over the next decade like our supposedly fiscally conservative Republican brethren would like to do. I'm not going to go into great detail here, but you can read about the fabricated nature of this "crisis" just about anywhere. The Republicans are just wrong on this issue, and the evidence is against them.

But back to my friend. During our conversation I asked him if he actually resented taxes coming out of his paycheck or if he was just saying that because it's the official creed of American conservatism. He said he actually does resent it because he is now poor and needs that extra little bit of money. I reminded him that he makes $23,000 a year, to which he responded, "Exactly! I'm poor. That's the definition of lower middle class." That's when it hit me. He has absolutely no understanding of poverty. So here's a quick lesson for him. According to the U.S. government, the poverty threshold for one person (no dependents) for 2003 was $9,393. Which puts my friend at over twice the threshold. In fact, between him and his two roommates, they are well above the country's average household income.

Furthermore, my friend spent a considerable amount of time trying to convince me that poor folks hate social security. (I guess he should know since he's poor, right?) Now, he couldn't point to a single poor person to back up this ridiculous claim, which highlights how little he knows about poverty. While he whines about a few dollars coming out of his paycheck, other people are making a very weak minimum wage and struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table for their families. And social security helps to relieve this burden for older folks. Elderly people won't have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to feed themselves. And it works. Social security works. It's the most successful social program in our nation's history. It's not in crisis, it helps millions of people, and it hurts nobody. Unless you really want to argue that a few dollars (money that you, too, will see when you become eligible) out of your $23,000/year salary are hurting you. And then you're just being a dick. Taxes are part of the system. Get over it.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Remembering the Dream

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Perhaps the most powerful voice of the civil rights movement, Dr. King spoke that day of his vision for America - a nation that was no longer being strangled by the rope of segregation and racism. It was one of Dr. King's most powerful speeches he ever gave, and, interestingly enough, he came up with the "I have a dream" part of the speech on the spot. He had another ending written, but spontaneously nixed it and delivered the lines that would become his most famous. The text of the speech can be found here, and an mp3 of the speech can be downloaded here.

Certainly we have come a long way towards achieving the dream that Dr. King spoke of some forty years ago. But we have not come far enough. This is the major point that I want to make - we have not come far enough. There is still a major problem with race in this country, and anyone with eyes can see it. The socio-economic gap between whites and minorities is drastic and doesn't appear to be significantly improving. A Wall Street Journal report detailed a study in which job applications were sent to various employers that were exactly the same, except for the race line. Others were sent that were the exact same save for a couple of other variables, such as criminal record. The results are stunning. Not only does the white person have a much greater chance of getting called back than the black person with the same resume, the study showed that a white person with a criminal record has a better chance of getting hired that a black person with no criminal record. This is institutional racism, and it is alive and well in 2005, 42 years after the "I Have a Dream" speech.

But let me back up for a second. I'm not trying to point fingers and yell "racist!" at the individuals who denied blacks with no criminal records while calling back white criminals. This is a problem that runs much deeper, into the subconscious of individuals as well as the culture. There is a subconscious tendency towards discrimination - a tendency that I believe is the result of hundreds of years of a systemic divide between races. And I have no doubt that I am as guilty of this as anyone, because I am a product of the culture. But we can't just say that it's a cultural problem and leave it at that. We have to fight for the dream that Dr. King spoke of, and step one in the fight is to face the reality that race is still a problem.

One of my biggest problems with conservative America is how they handle the race issue. You won't often hear a conservative in America start a conversation about race, but you will often hear them being very defensive about it. You're not going to hear Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity say that there is still a race problem in this country. You might hear them defend themselves or their party against accusations of racism or say that we now have racial equality to the point that things like affirmative action aren't necessary. And this is a big problem, because I believe that this denial and defensiveness is the major element that is stifling the discussion of race in America.

It is not enough, especially today as we honor Dr. King's legacy, to say that things are better now that they were in 1963. Of course they are, that's an easy thing to say. What's not easy, however, is to face today's reality of racism - a more subtle yet very institutional form of racism. And accepting this challenge and opening ourselves, as a culture, to a renewed discussion of race in America is a far greater way of honoring the life and activism of Dr. King.