Sounds to me like you caused a damn accident

Those crazy liberals are at it again, what with the refusing to resist the Cable TV-fueled temptations of Satan and the pushing of the homosexual agenda onto children. Consider this story from Lexington, Massachusetts:

For David Parker, the first alarm went off in January, when his 5-year-old son came home from his kindergarten class at Lexington’s Joseph Estabrook School with a bag of books promoting diversity.

Inside were books about foreign cultures and traditions, along with food recipes. There was also a copy of Who’s In a Family? by Robert Skutch, which depicts different kinds of families, including same-sex couples raising children.

The book’s contents concerned Parker and prompted him to begin a series of e-mail exchanges with school officials on the subject that culminated in a meeting Wednesday night with Estabrook’s principal and district director of instruction. The meeting ended with Parker’s arrest after he refused to leave the school, and the Lexington man spent the night in jail.

Ooooh, all conservatives think books are bad, right? Nope. Mr. Parker doesn’t say that and the specific book that his son brought home wasn’t the real issue for him. He’s concerned that the school is exposing his son to “homosexual material” without prior consent. The facts seem to support a complete communication failure between the school and the parents about this issue, which is where I believe Mr. Parker tried to take the discussion. Consider these e-mail excerpts from Mr. and Mrs. Parker and the school’s principal, Ms. Joni Jay:

Parkers to Principal on Friday, March 4, 2005

We do not authorize any teacher or adult within the Lexington Public School system to expose our sons, [older son] and [younger son] (begins school in 2006) to any sexual orientation/homoseexual material/same sex unions between parents.

Principal to Parkers on Friday, March 4, 2005

I have confirmed with our Assistant Superintendent and our Director of Health Education that discussion of differing families, including gay-headed families, is not included in the parental notification policy.

Parkers to Principal on Friday, March 4, 2005

We would like to clarify that our previous e-mail which states: “we do not give the Lexington Public School system permission to discuss homosexuality issues (i.e. – trans gender/bisexual/gay headed households) to our son [son’s name]” – is a parental assertion; not a matter open to legal interpretation or administrative policy. Let us, David and Tonia Parker, parents of [son’s name], be clear in purpose and prose on this matter:

Discussions concerning homosexuality issues will not take place in front of our son, [son’s name] (5 yrs old), at Estabrook.

There is clearly a disagreement about how to handle this book. While I suspect that this book does nothing more than present a gay couple, which is not the same thing as “pushing the homosexual agenda”, I concede that this can lead to questions that the Parkers aren’t ready to answer for a 5-year-old. My nephew is four-and-a-half and, as smart (and inquisitive) as he is, my brother probably isn’t ready to discuss same-sex couples. (I think my nephew, like most kids, would say “Oh”, and then run off to play.) So, yeah, it’s certainly a parent’s right to determine what his/her child is exposed to at that age. And I don’t believe that getting that agreement from the school is too much to ask.

That didn’t happen in this case, though. Whether the school misinterpreted state law (mentioned in the article) or not is irrelevant. Mr. Parker should’ve taken his complaint to the school board, the next logical step. The exchange between the Parkers and Ms. Jay took several months, so time lag was not a factor. If, after taking his case to the school board, he didn’t get the answer he wanted, he could consult an attorney and sue or work to change the school board rules or whatever potential remedy presented itself. He shouldn’t have to go through that, but sometimes we endure obstacles that we shouldn’t have to endure.

That’s what he should’ve done, but it’s not what he did. This is what he did:

Parker said he met with school officials to gain those assurances and then refused to leave until he got them. Parker stayed at Estabrook School for more than two hours, according to Superintendent William J. Hurley, as officials and Lexington police urged him to leave. Finally, they arrested him for trespassing.

He was there, officials and police asked him to leave, he declined, the police arrested him. That seems simple enough, right? Nope. This is turning into a rallying cry for “liberals vs. family values”. Consider this conclusion drawn by Michelle Malkin (where I found the article):

Unbelievable that we’ve come to this. Parker is treated as a troublemaker and a bigot –and now a criminal–for refusing to cede parental control to p.c. public school educrats. Meanwhile, “diversity” brainwashing and Moral Equivalence 101 have seeped effortlessly into government kindergarten classrooms.

Mr. Parker is treated as a criminal, not for his beliefs, but for his alleged unwillingness to obey police instruction to leave the school premises.

Is this the only reaction where the thinker missed the simple fact for why the police arrested Mr. Parker? Consider this, from Wizbang!:

And in the meantime, what I think is the bigger issue is getting ignored. Whether or not you agree with Mr. Parker’s beliefs, the fundamental question is this: are his demands that he be notified about what material is being taught to his son about a clearly controversial issue unreasonable?


Quibble if you wish with Mr. Parker’s beliefs, but don’t challenge his right to possess them — and act on them. We need more parents who feel as protective of their children as he does.

While I quibble with his beliefs, Mr. Parker has a right to them. His demands to be notified are reasonable. But we also need more parents who respect the law as every other parent who has a disagreement with the school but works to achieve their goals in a proper manner.

Or consider this from The Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill:

The vast gulf between the left and reality is making any possibility of my children ever going into any public school vanish. This is not as some might claim the Right Wing evangelicals rolling back the clock. This is much more like parents finally understanding what is being attempted by the left wing.

Read the whole entry… it throws around the term “Nazi” and the statement that educators who believe same-sex marriage is acceptable “have dedicated themselves to getting into a position where they could start tearing down the family structure.”

Or consider this from the blue site:

The liberals want to brainwash your children as early as possible. Liberal Massachusetts has a kindergarten program that teaches kids about homosexuals and “families” with 2 gay parents…

Sickening. The hom
osexuals will do anything to force their alternative (alternative to NORMAL) lifestyle down all of our throats…their new tactic is to start as early in a child’s life as possible, so the brainwashing will be totally set in by the time they become adults. Disgusting…

This is why liberals need to be stopped from their destruction of the family, traditional values, and this country as we know it…

Do I need to comment on that?

Or consider this comment left on the blue site by moe:

So true,Josh,so true. I dunno what’s gonna happen,but it ain’t gonna be good. As much as I would like to have children,I’m glad that I don’t right now. I would be constantly on edge,worrying that some stranger,will legally try and force them to learn to be fags. I wouldn’t stand for it,and you’re right when you say the vast majority of Americans find it disgusting too.

What the hell right does the public “education” system think it has? It’s supposed to teach readin’,writin’,and ‘rythmatic…not blowjobs and buttsex. And the big pisser,is that these filthy devient heathens,are enormously outnumbered by moral Americans,yet they somehow have been given authority. I ain’t happy.

I don’t bother queers,and I don’t harass them or go hunting for them to bash,so why do they attack the rest of us? Vile bastards,they are. They remind me of muslims….always picking the fights and starting trouble,yet always claiming to be “oopressed” and “discriminated”. They are not oppressed,but they should be. They should all get the ever lovin’ shit kicked out of them everyday,then see how much they wanna bitch and moan. Same goes for anyone who supports them.

Ah, those conservatives with their family values. Thank God they’re looking out for all of us from the evil liberal, homosexual agenda. Otherwise, what would concerned, law-abidingbreaking parents do?

You are one… sick… puppy.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association announced a new initiative yesterday. The new initiative intends to “help families manage their television viewing and protect children from inappropriate programming.” NCTA president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow offered the reasoning behind the new campaign (which can be found on the internets at

“The cable industry shares the concerns of many parents, who want to guard against TV content they feel may be inappropriate for their children,” McSlarrow said. “While many cable customers already have the tools to block unwanted TV content, many are not aware how to use parental control features.”

Blah, blah, blah. I commend the NCTA for undertaking this task, but it really is a $250 million waste of money. Ideally it’ll keep Congress at bay because Congress seems to react favorably only when money is thrown at a problem. It reacts extra-special, super-duper favorable when it gets to define the problem. The free flow of money makes them feel like maybe some more of that might come their way for the next election, I suppose. Absurd, sure, but it beats legislation.

My issue with this is that parents who won’t read the instructions for their cable box won’t be influenced by this ad campaign. They don’t take the time now, so why will they with a few more spiffy commercials? Besides, those parents aren’t the ones who send e-mail and write letters and place telephone calls to L. Brent Bozell and the Parents Television Council every time some one says “H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks” on the TV. The parents who do will not be happy with this for one reason: it’s voluntary. Put a different way, it still allows all of the so-called offensive content to go to people who want it (or can’t/won’t stop it from reaching their children). The real opponents who’ve made this an issue want morality legislation and nothing else.

Consider this statement from Mr. Bozell:

… L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, blasted the program as an attempt “to spin the public with a multi-million-dollar campaign to promote channel blocking and V-chip technologies as an adequate remedy for families concerned about their children being exposed to violent, profane and sexually explicit programming.

“This $250-million sham is being foisted on American consumers by the cable industry with the sole purpose of shirking responsibility for its product,” Bozell added.

What else would Mr. Bozell promote that allows free citizens to choose what they watch and don’t watch? Does he not realize that this “$250 million sham is being foisted on American consumers” because of his blathering about indecency and the downfall of America and the inevitable coming of orgies in the streets thanks to one (not-really-) naked nipple fifteen months ago? Does he realize that that $250 million isn’t coming from the charity of the NCTA, that it’s coming from those parents who don’t bother to read the instructions that come with the indecency machine cable box hooked to their televisions? Or that it’s coming from me, an American consumer who understands that changing the channel or clicking the On/Off button on my TV remote is free? I already paid for those instructions the first time and my mother paid the taxes that supported my education which taught me how to read those instructions I’ve already paid for. But, nope, that’s not good enough, you have to be an obsessed Luddite who believes that every American child is the direct target of indecency and every American parent is too stupid to parent. Thanks for looking out for me, guy, but stop it. Now.

Mr. Bozell does offer rationalizations for his concerns. Consider:

“In order for the V-chip to work, it must rely on an accurate ratings system,” Bozell said. Pointing to the PTC’s recent report, The Ratings Sham: TV Executives Hiding Behind a System That Doesn’t Work, he called the existing system “a fraud, rendering the V-chip a useless tool and an irrelevant, meaningless gesture.

“Currently, the networks — not an independent body — determine a program’s rating, and those same networks are financially motivated to lower ratings in order not to scare away advertisers,” Bozell said.

Mr. Bozell doesn’t seek a method for a television rating system to be meaningful. He wants Congress to be the “independent body” that legislates what is acceptable. According to his “independent” standards, of course. I’m not going argue the financially motivated part because it defies logic to bother beyond a simple explanation. Advertisers are scared away only when viewers come complaining. Mr. Bozell and his devotees don’t go complaining to the advertisers, they go to Congress and the FCC.

Mr. Bozell added:

“Finally, even if the ratings system were accurate and the V-chip useful, it does nothing to solve the root problem,” he added. “Hollywood is flooding the family living room, via broadcast airwaves and cable, with offensive material, much of it deliberately designed for impressionable children.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to literally kick my feet to brush aside the offensive material. It’s everywhere and I’m afraid that my landlord is starting to get pissed danged upset about the filth. Do you know how many times I’ve had to hide a pile of breasts and the random, scattered Victoria’s Secret lingerie show lying around so that my house would look presentable again? I fear the day that must be coming soon when one of the cats licks the carpet and comes down with some horrible STD from the three seconds my TV was stopped on MTV last week. I’m sending that vet bill straight to Hollywood. But we all know nothing in Hollywood is straight, so the kitty’s STD will probably bankrupt me before I can get paid. Good thing you’ve come up with this alternative:

“Better yet, why doesn’t Hollywood just stop flooding television with sewage?” he concluded.

I don’t think they empty their sewage into the televisions, but I could be wrong. (I would think it would do bad, bad things to the wires.) Maybe you should call them instead of Congress. Better go directly to the source. Not directly to the source, I guess, but the central office maybe. Start there.

(Hat tip:

The view is better than an ocean sunset

Compare these two pictures:

I snapped the first picture from my seat in row 13 at yesterday’s Phillies/Nationals game. I snapped the second picture from the seat in front of me in row 12. Notice how much larger the Toyota, Budweiser, and Geico signs are in the second picture. Isn’t the viewer so much sweeter? I was so stunned at the difference that I begged the guys in front of me to switch seats with me, but my begging amounted to nothing. They knew how much better their seats were than mine, so why would they switch. That extra view was worth the $10 premium they paid for their seats. So worth it. I was jealous. (Still am, in fact.)

I enjoyed paying $25 for row 13 instead of $35 for row 12 (and pleased by the disparity), but I’ve never encountered a dumber pricing scheme than changing the price in the middle of a section. Someday, maybe the Nationals will realize they’re in the Major Leagues. Maybe.

Gramur reenforsmint: Describe the action verb

Proving that bad writing breaks the writer’s “conversation” with the reader, I stopped when I read this in today’s recap of yesterday’s Phillies/Nationals game:

Michaels spoke over a blaring Linkin Park/Jay-Z collaboration that blared over a battered boom box he found earlier in the day amid some junk in the bowels of RFK.

Blaring music that blared? Who’da thunk it?

I wield my pen without Juice

I’m filing this entry under Writing instead of Baseball because of my timing, which, as you read this post, you’ll discover is quite terrible. It’s sometimes stunning that I ever get anything done when it’s relevant on time. I’ll interject a few obvious comments as I proceed, but the focus will remain on the writing aspect of this.

In this post I mentioned that I want to be a writer. I haven’t so much wanted to be a writer all my life because I can’t lie and say I’ve wanted it “since I can remember”. But I have wanted it since I discovered that I love it. Several teachers during my school years sparked my Eureka! moment that hey, maybe I can do this. Little notes on biology papers saying “Well written” or “You’re a good writer” were enough to open the possibility. To those teachers I owe a debt, not because it’s led to anything (yet), but because it woke me up to myself, for want of a better term.

I didn’t suddenly start writing feverishly in those days. My interest trickled through from high school into college. Around my sophomore year, I began to get more serious. I started reading beyond the required college course curriculum. I started penning little scenes. They weren’t great in terms of story or character development, but they allowed me to build dialogue and scene. I learned the basics of my natural strengths and weaknesses. An end goal of writing something longer and more developed began with the obvious dream of publication. Despite how big and daunting the task seemed, I already had my proof of concept. I’d already been published.

I’m a huge baseball fan, something that anyone who reads already knows. As a kid, I had more time to indulge that passion with morning box score perusing and the gift of TBS. (What I could do today with that much free time and the internets is beyond any rational fathoming.) Every year I anticipated the yearly baseball preview magazines. I had no favorite, preferred magazine, so I bought them all when they came out. I read them cover to cover. I memorized statistics. I even cut pictures from them and made scrapbooks manly photo collections of my favorite players. I devoured every prediction and projection. I was always a little disappointed that my Braves were never picked to win even though I believed. (For more on how I became a Phillies phan, click here.) I counted the days until opening day, the season schedule having already been posted above my desk, a ritual that perpetuates to this day.

In 1988 I had an unexpected bonus. Flipping through the pages of that year’s Grandslam magazine, I found this page:

Greed took over. Baseball cards exploded as an “investment” in 1998 as internet stocks exploded ten years later. An unopened, factory-sealed set of 1988 Fleer could allow me to retire a minimum of 5 years earlier than I could without them. I just knew it, so I had to have them. What was a little distraction like a writing contest to get in the way?

I sat at my desk, the one with the peeling white paint and wood-carved etchings of “this sucks” and black-markered ramblings, and wrote my masterpiece. I wrote it long-hand because computers were of the Commodore 64 variety, which we had, and printers were of the expensive variety, which we didn’t have. Typing didn’t seem to offer me the immediate connection to the page and the brilliant words. So I wrote, putting only my best thoughts forward. I scratched out the bad parts that didn’t project my creation forward. I put everything I had on paper and left only what was necessary. I finished, wrote my word count, then my revised word count, then my revised revised word count, before finally narrowing it down to the perfect number, requiring only 80% of the maximum words allowed. Every great writer knows that the later drafts should be shorter than the first. I was the greatest.

Seventeen years later, I still have this creation. Behold my genius:

Holy crap, am I embarrassed. Not because of the quality of the writing, which was good considering I was only fourteen when I wrote it. (It was extra good when compared to the other entries, but I fast forward too soon.) No, I’m embarrassed because I was so ignorant that I sent my edited rough draft as my final draft. I’ve learned since then, but I can only admit that I was an amateur. But, my God, I knew it didn’t matter because those cards would be mine. Oh, yes, they would fill my greedy fifteen-year-old hands by the fall of 1988. I had no doubt.

Expanding on the brilliance of my essay, I must now explain my choice of subject, which naturally seems silly in 2005. I chose Jose Canseco for one reason: I was a whore. I could’ve written about Dale Murphy, who any right-thinking American knows was the greatest player of the ’80s. He’s my favorite player, yet I sold my soul for the riches. Even then I understood the media bias involved in any story. I couldn’t win with the truth; I had to win with the sexy. Nothing more, nothing less. I compromised my values made an intelligent editorial decision to get my hands on the bounty.

I mailed the essay.

Six months later, I lay bandaged on our living room couch from what is now known as The Macaroni and Boiling Water Incident&#153. The Macaroni and Boiling Water Incident&#153 offered one unexpected, desirable benefit: while my brother wasted away in school, I stayed home to heal, allowing me to watch Oakland and Jose Canseco smash Boston in the 1988 American League Championship Series. Baseball hadn’t quite come to its intention of scheduling every game to start in primetime, so I had afternoon baseball. One of these days I was home, the mail arrived bearing forgotten fruit. The editors of Grandslam chose my essay. The letter was even signed in ink. In ink!

I didn’t care about the baseball cards and my soon-to-be-realized riches. I’d won. The 1989 edition of Grandslam would have my name in it. I could not wait to see my name on the page with words I wrote. Along with every other writer in the magazine, baseball fans all over the country would read my essay and say “Wow, I see why that guy won. Is an essay in Grandslam eligible for the Pulitzer? I hope so because that guy really deserves it.” Wow.

With publication 4 months away, I had nothing else to do but wait for the cards to arrive. By this time, doubting my stupendous ability, I’d purchased a complete set of 1988 Fleer. Double the riches! I waited and waited and waited. I received another letter telling me that the editors ordered my cards and they would arrive soon. In the meantime they sent me a framed poster of “my idol” Jose Canseco to placate me until the cards could arrive. And it was signed in ink again! Behold:

Flabergasted at their generosity is all I can say. The cards were so scarce and in such demand that it delayed the order. The wealth multiplied. As a reminder of my spectacular skill with sheet of looseleaf notebook paper and an 89&#162 Bic, I hung the poster on my wall until we moved a few years later. (Somewhere between the move and
today, it disappeared. I don’t miss it.)

A few weeks later, my cards arrived with another note from the editor. Again he signed it in ink. Damn I was important. The set had the seal still intact and he wisely pointed out that the set would be worth more with the seal intact. I knew this, but I appreciated the personal care.

The set was worth $35, so I couldn’t believe what the numbers would be when I projected them out into my future. I filed the boxed set away in my closet. I should’ve opened a safe deposit box at the bank, complete with insurance for the value that I could expect in the future. Since I was too young for that, I placed it in the back of the closet and told no one outside of my family that I’d won cards to complement my essay’s publication. I will always remember the fall of 1988 as the Wonderful Season of Greed&#153.

In the spring of 1989, I began scouring bookstores much earlier than in previous years. I had a mission to see my name and enjoy my fifteen minutes of glory. I always knew before I walked into the store whether or not the 1989 issue of Grandslam had arrived. When there were no balloons and banners celebrating my achievement, I knew I’d have to check another day. But it was only a matter of time.

The magazine arrived in stores with little fanfare, which surprised me given my reasonable expectations. I scanned the Table of Contents and thumbed the pages to find Page 4. Oh. Oh my God. This was even better than imagined. “I’m on page 4,” I thought! But where were the balloons and banners?

I found page 4. My spirit deflated. There, stealing all my glory, thirteen essays stared at me and not one of them was mine. What? But I won? I read the words in horror:

…our original plan was simply to print the outstanding response and award the prize – a complete set of baseball cards of the winner’s choice.

However, the flood of mail was so great, and the variety of arguments so magnificent, we’ve decided to publish not only the winning essay, but also to expand the format and share some experts from the many other letters that came to us.


That wasn’t part of the deal. How could they do that to me? I can’t believe they cheapened my moment of glory by publishing the losers. They were losers, not winners like me. Ugh.

I scanned the page for my name and didn’t see it. What? I finally found “Continued on page 54…” What? Page 54? I’m buried in the middle of the magazine? But I won! These people didn’t win, I did. How can they be on page 4 and I’m on page 54? “Drink my fucking Ovaltine, indeed,” wiped every other thought away.

I flipped to page 54 and saw this.

Nine essays ahead of mine. Nine and thirteen meant twenty-two people had their glory before I got mine. And I was the “winner”. The superiority of my essay consoled me. I’d addressed the argument in a direct manner, supporting my thesis with clear facts. I addressed every aspect of the game, unlike the others. My essay required intellect and knowledge of baseball to write. I felt better. I did plan to use some of my future baseball card wealth to hire goons to prevent future publication by the other twenty-two “writers”, though.

Today, of course, the reality is different. I’m still working. I still have that set of baseball cards. Today, on eBay, sellers have the factory-sealed set listed at $8.99, with no bidders. But I was published once and that keeps me going.

Post script: One final thought. Every part about me being upset at having twenty-two essays printed before mine, that was believable, right? Writers are jealous by nature, you know, so I had that part of it, too. But, here’s the thing about my jealousy… I made that part up.


That’s a nice frame. What’s the picture again?

There is a crisis afoot in America. You know, the crisis caused by the big, bad, evil oil corporations. The one where people are complaining because the price of gas is going up and have decided that Congress must do something because there is no way to go back in time and not buy that SUV that gets 12 miles-per-gallon and now costs $50 (and more) to fill up every four days. Yeah, that one, the one that proves capitalism punishes the stupid consumer. It’s all good, because the Houses cares.

The House of Representatives passed an energy bill yesterday, so it now moves to the Senate. Among its provisions, it includes the following:

–Open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling.

–Provide product liability protection for makers of MTBE against lawsuits stemming from the gasoline additive contaminating drinking water. Payment of $2 billion in transition costs over eight years to manufacturers as MTBE is phased out.

–Expand daylight-saving time by two months, so it would start on the first Sunday in March and end on the last Sunday in November.

–Give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission clear authority to override states and local officials in locating liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals.

I presume that this bill is designed to be proactive regarding our current energy crisis but it misses the point. Sure, opening up oil fields in America could lead to “more” oil, but at what cost? I’m not knowledgeable enough about the details to bitch about the destruction of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but I assume it’s A Bad Idea&#153. Regardless, it misses the point IF it’s intended as a long-term solution. More on that in a moment.

I’m not quite sure how liability protection for makers of MTBE is a good idea. If they’re contaminating water in two dozen states, it’s probably not smart to sweep that under the rug and say “Oops. Do over.” I need to get better informed, but that’s just a hunch. Especially when it comes with $2,000,000,000 in “You made a bad, harmful business decision, but we’re going to look the other way while we you fix it” handouts. Nice job.

I’m not even going to bother swinging at the daylight-saving time nonsense, as Kip over at A Stitch in Haste already dismantled that idea with this post. Definitely read it. (And stick around and read his other posts, too. You’ll be glad you did.)

As for giving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “clear authority to override states and local officials in locating liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals”, I can only interpret that with basic logic. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has a For Citizens – LNG Overview, which offers this information specific to that provision:

Where do ships unload LNG?

Ships unload LNG at specially designed terminals where the LNG is pumped from the ship to insulated storage tanks at the terminal. LNG is also converted back to gas at the terminal, which is connected to natural gas pipelines that transport the gas to where it is needed. Specially designed trucks may also be used to deliver LNG to other storage facilities in different locations.

Oh. That’s nice. We need that. There’s the obvious question, of course, which this provision clarifies. Where should we place that terminal? What we now know is that if the Senate agrees and President Bush signs, this will go wherever the federal bureaucrats urban planners decide. No community decisions necessary. How is this smart? All bow before the Federal government, I guess.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan did weigh in on this. When asked, he offered this:

This is a comprehensive piece of legislation, and it does address one of the fundamental problems facing our nation, and that is that we are growing more dependent on foreign sources of energy. And we have high energy prices facing consumers because we have not had a national energy plan in place. We have a growing global economy and a growing demand from countries around the world for oil. And we are relying on foreign sources of energy. And that’s why the President believes it is all the more reason we need to act now. He put forward a plan four years ago, and it’s time for Congress to get that passed.

The key to solving any problem is to define it correctly. Once you do that, the solution becomes possible. Mr. McClellan, and by extension, President Bush, are wrong on the problem. It’s not that we are “growing more dependent on foreign sources of energy.” While that may be true, it isn’t the issue. Framing the problem that way only encourages solutions like drilling for oil in Alaska.

The problem is that we are relying on the wrong sources of energy. (I’m including the wrong mix of sources in this explanation, solely as a simplification.) Our current energy usage has severe political baggage, which is what Mr. McClellan’s statement conveys. Fine, we get it, but don’t pit this as an us-against-them ploy. The global economy is here, whether we like it or not. That our political situation and energy needs aren’t meshed demands a better response than a “circle the wagons” self-reliance isolationism.

President Bush claims to support alternate sources of energy. I’m willing to believe him to an extent until proven to the contrary. The quest for non-petroleum based energy sources is young, and the president stated that the nation should explore this. Mr. McClellan hinted that this energy plan does not meet President Bush’s agenda. If we’re going to offer incentives (not that we should; just that we are), let’s do it wisely. How will President Bush work with the Congress to resolve this? Will he veto this energy bill if it comes before him without any significant changes from the Senate? I’m anxious to know.

I have no idea of the exact solution, but perpetuating the old paradigm (I have an MBA; I need to use 10&#162 buzzwords.) with a mix of handouts for old ideas and new federal power-grabs isn’t the answer.

File under “D” for Duh.

This seems self-explanatory:

“The federal budget deficit is on an unsustainable path, in which large deficits result in rising interest rates and ever-growing interest payments that augment deficits in future years,” Greenspan said in his prepared testimony. “But most important, deficits as a percentage of [gross domestic product] in these simulations rise without limit. Unless that trend is reversed, at some point these deficits would cause the economy to stagnate or worse.”

Too bad Congress and President Bush don’t get it.

Luckily, I have ninjalike reflexes

Before I go into this mini-rant, I qualify what I’m about to write with this basic fact: even when I’m bashing Sirius, it’s still much better than XM. I first tried XM more than two years ago but cancelled it because the music channels began playing more commercials, quickly approaching the level of terrestrial radio. If I wanted terrestrial radio, I’d turn it on. I didn’t, which is why I subscribed to satellite radio. Also, the diversity of music became, shall we say, eclectic. More and more songs crept into the playlists that I didn’t know. I don’t mind hearing new songs; I’ve found some of my favorite artists and songs through accidental wandering across the (satellite) radio dial and browsing through music stores. But I don’t want a plethora of songs that are closer to cats copulating than actual music. I want to want to listen again. XM didn’t stopped providing that, so I stopped provided my credit card number.

Last year, I subscribed to Sirius, which was inevitable because I’ve been a shareholder for more than 18 months. I immediately loved it. There are songs I actually know on the mainstream channels and songs I enjoy discovering on the non-mainstream channels. Plus, I get to listen to Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood, and Alan Hunter. I needed nothing else and completely abandoned terrestrial radio, except for Don and Mike and Howard Stern. I enjoy the change.

A few months ago, though, I decided I needed to give XM another try. I did this knowing that my subscription to Sirius would remain. I wanted XM for the baseball coverage. The additional music choices would be a bonus. Except they turned out to be junk. The problem of having a terrible playlist has gotten worse. After the first few weeks, I stopped scanning other music stations on XM. Now, when if I’m not listening to the baseball coverage on XM, I’m not listening to XM.

But baseball was enough to break the barrier to my wallet. Except it’s not any more. XM can’t even get the baseball coverage correct. It hooked me from the beginning because wall-to-wall baseball is excellent. Yet, my urgency to listen to anything other than the Phillies broadcasts and “The Show with Rob Dibble and Kevin Kennedy” died. I do not enjoy the morning baseball show, not because of content but because of the deejays. It’s baseball, not music, so I didn’t expect deejays. I don’t want deejays. Mark Patrick is a deejay from beginning to end. His “act” wore thin within days. His vocal inflection is pure large-market, focus-group-tested deejay babble. I hate it. Yet, he sounds like heaven when compared to Buck Martinez. I don’t know where Martinez learned to do radio but he needs to ask for his money back. He has the worst up-and-down, wobbly, half-drunk, half-stroke inflected voice ever broadcast on radio. I can’t listen. So I don’t. When I’m paying $9.95 $12.95 for the service, I have to question why I’m paying.

The decisive factor, though, is much simpler. It’s very simple to broadcast a baseball game that another radio station is covering. The only requirement for XM is to flip the switch. They can’t even do that right. I know there are technical issues, blah, blah, blah, but that’s not an excuse. The marketing literature lies promised me every game. Showing up near the end of the first inning is not every game. If you’re not giving me every pitch, they’re lying to me. And by lying to me, they’re stealing from me.

Sirius hasn’t lied to me. I get what they promise. At work, I used to listen to my mp3 player, but now I just listen to Sirius all day. (An actual benefit from having my desk in an atrium, to go along with the sunburn, is that I get excellent satellite radio reception.) That I haven’t tired of it even though I listen almost eight hours every work day is proof of concept. I abandoned terrestrial radio for something new. More often than not, Sirius satisfies that. Even when it fails, it fails less often and on a smaller scale than XM. So I stick with Sirius.

When it fails, though, it annoys me. Which is the point of my mini-rant, which seemed to have started a few paragraphs ago but is really just beginning now. Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood, and Alan Hunter are the only deejays on Sirius who I enjoy. I enjoy them because of nostalgia (they’re on the Big ’80s) and because they don’t act like the normal moron deejays. They don’t give ridiculous inflections. I normally hate deejay stories, but when those three offer them, they’re usually relevant to something. There’s a theme. It’s acceptable.

Some of the other stations, though, pester lilsteners with deejays who think they work at the local Lite-FM station. Ugh. I don’t want dull stories about their dogs or their friends or their neighbors. Unless it’s me, I don’t care. Their mothers are the only ones who care and I’m not convinced about that. If they want to tell personal stories, they should get a blog and type with weird spelling and no punctuation like every pre-teen who might be interested. Otherwise, shut up and drop the needle onto the record push play on the computer. It’s not complicated. Sometimes, it’s so over the top that it makes me mad.

Listening to Jim Kerr this morning, the deejay on Sirius 31 New Country, provided me with a specific example of why I hate deejays with a passion. I will offer it to you now.

Because he can’t just shut up, he must “talk up” the record, giving an introduction until the moment before singing starts. The witty Mr. Kerr offered this wonderful transition.

That was “There Goes My Life” by Kenny Chesney. I’m looking forward to seeing the second episode of “Revelations” on NBC tonight. Here’s SHeDAISY with “Little Good-byes”.

Not only is that the most ADD scatter-brained transition ever, it’s also flat-out wrong. Revelations is on at 9pm on NBC. Everyone knows that the only show on television tonight worth looking forward to is Alias. That it’s on at 9pm only makes the argument for Revelations more useless. Duh.

You want a revelation, Mr. Kerr, I’ll give you one. Just wait for the amazing way Jack Bristow evades his latest hurdle, a nuclear radiation-induced genetic mutation.

I didn’t go to your hasty pudding, “Let’s all dress up like girls” school!

Last night Danielle and I went to the home opener for the old Montreal Expos/new Washington Nationals at RFK Stadium. I have some random thoughts and observations about the game, which I don’t want to put in to any form of essay. There really is no overriding theme, at least when I start this, so a list with clarification will have to suffice. Lists are the new prose, you know. Just ask Entertainment Weekly. Without further mumblings, here goes:

  1. President Bush threw out the first pitch. — I wish I’d known this would happen days before the event so that I could’ve brought my camera. As it was, I had only my shitty little camera phone. Here is President Bush tossing the first ball. I did enjoy this moment because it was a ball and not a strike. Nationals catcher Brian Schneider had to leap out of his crouch to catch the throw. I was hoping for an errant throw to thump a small child on the leg or something, just for the curiosity of the sight. The whole “Hit the bull” aspect. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. And I say this knowing that if I’d thrown out the first pitch, it would’ve hit the backstop.

    Also, despite what some may believe, I didn’t boo. I can get swept up in the “He’s the President of the United States!” hysteria with the best of them. I’m a sucker for the History Channel and all things historical. Besides, I’ve never seen a POTUS in person, so it was cool.

    But. Why, for the love of God, do I have to stand in a herd of people just to watch him walk from the dugout to the mound and back? For the privilege of being poked and prodded and having my belongings searched, President Bush should’ve done something more, like twist the cap off of my $4 bottle of water for me. That’s not too much to ask.

  2. President Bush didn’t leave until the fifth inning. — Yes, we left the game early. Let’s me be honest with you. I don’t care about the Nationals or the Arizona Diamondbacks. I love baseball, but I just don’t care about this game in April. I want Arizona to win because the Nationals are in first place in the N.L. East. On April 14th, that’s just not that big of a deal. It really isn’t. So we left. But why, oh why, should I be prevented from leaving imprisoned in the upper deck because the president’s motorcade isn’t far enough away from the stadium? There is no legitimate reason why we should be blocked. None. He’s the president, yes, but I have the same right to leave the stadium when I want as he does. Either figure out how to do security right or don’t bring the president to the game; it’s that simple.
  3. I’m going to hate Nationals’ “fans” as much as I hate Orioles’ fans. — My brother and I developed a simple theory. We believe Nationals’s fans will be bad fans because they’ve been trained to be baseball fans by the city of Baltimore. Anyone who’s ever been to an Orioles game knows that Baltimore fans are bad fans. They have a very firm belief that Baltimore is the center of the universe. They believe that Cal (pronounced Cayal) Ripken is their king. Worst of all, they don’t understand the sacred nature of the “Star-Spangled Banner”. When “Oh say can you see” comes, they shout “O!” at the beginning. In honor of the O’s (pronounced Oehs). They have no shame. None.

    Having been to enough Redskins games where this undignified practice is also practiced, I’ve come to expect it here. (It does make me appreciate seeing games in other stadiums around the country because they do not do this nonsense. But I brace for it, anyway.) But last night was the Nationals at RFK Stadium. Folks, you begged for your own team. Major League Baseball finally granted the request. Be thankful, please. Root for the Nationals or drive to Baltimore. Duh. I mean, really, just duh. And Peter Angelos was worried…

  4. Knowing to stock up on food before Opening Day is hard. — Let’s see, it’s opening day for the Nationals in a city that hasn’t seen baseball in 33 years. People are probably coming to the game. Is it that complicated to prepare enough food? The concession stand my brother and I went to ran out of hot dogs (for him, not me). The next concession stand he went to ran out of hot dogs and pretzels. Another concession stand ran out of hot dogs, french fries, and change. This isn’t that surprising with 45,000 fans, I guess, but all of this occurred BEFORE THE GAME STARTED. But the beer flowed freely. And I might have broken a tooth on the pretzel I bought.
  5. Outfield grass is hard to keep alive. — I know this because a large patch of left field is yellow. On Opening Day. In a Major League stadium. Do I need to explain further?
  6. Power washers aren’t available in D.C. — Danielle put her hand on the seat next to her. A few moments later, she put her hands on her white pants. There was a blank hand print. On Opening Day. In a Major League stadium. Do I need to explain further?
  7. Every fly ball is a home run. — I know this because every Nationals fan cheered wildly for every lazy pop fly to the Arizona’s second baseman.
  8. Establishing a television deal a few days before the season is not smart. — Did you know that when the home team is leading in the top of the ninth, with 2 outs and 1 strike on the visiting team’s batter, did you know that strike 2 ends the game? Neither did I, but the scoreboard operator says so. And so does Mel Procter, the Nationals’ television play-by-play guy. I’m just saying.

I know that this is all the Orioles’ fault somehow because they did such a poor job training the local fans. On Opening Day, though, it’s hard to go wrong. Nothing can ruin this:

All that, and Danielle and I received crazy cool medallions.

Rebounding the airball?

I used to be a fan of the NBA, starting in the late 1980s. I didn’t watch much basketball before then, but the rivalry between Magic and Bird was so big that it allowed me to develop an appreciation for the game. My developing enjoyment for the game grew around the point guard position and made me a fan of Rod Strickland, a point guard for the New York Knicks at the time. I thought I’d become a fan of the Knicks, but I was really just a fan of Strickland. When the Knicks traded him to San Antonio, I stuck with him and followed the Spurs. The same happened when he went to Portland and then to Washington. I enjoyed the shifting around because it led to Washington, which was the local market for me after I finished grad school in ’98. Shortly after Strickland left Washington, he played fewer and fewer minutes with each successive team. I’ve followed him, but more sporadically as his career winds down. I’ve entered the phase where the game and the emerging players have to hold me as a fan, but that’s not happening. I haven’t watched a full NBA game for several years. Worse, I no longer care that I’ve become this apathetic about the game.

NBA Commissioner David Stern seems to understand why. He’s proposing a simple change to the NBA that could improve the game, if in no other way than image. Consider:

“We are seeking to raise that to 20 or two years out of high school. The NFL’s minimum age is 3 years after high school. I’m optimistic the union will agree to some raise in the minimum age in the current collective bargaining,” Stern said in a recent chat.

That’s about right. An age requirement is definitely a blunt-edged tool where something with more flexibility might be better, but it’s a start. The level of play has fallen over the years (in my opinion) and one reason I have that perception is the increasing abundance of straight-from-high-school players. That doesn’t help the league. For every LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, there are the players who don’t develop or develop slower in the league than normal players. The increasing numbers of high school players impact the overall competition level, as well. This isn’t good for the league.

Lest we ignore the players, consider this quote from Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O’Neal:

“In the last two or three years, the rookie of the year has been a high school player. There were seven high school players in the All-Star Game, so why we even talking an age limit?” O’Neal said.

Are high school players in the All-Star game an indication that it’s not a bad idea? Again, the high school players will look better when facing high school level competition. There is something to be said for the maturation and development that any player undergoes in college. Mr. O’Neal also made the point that Major League Baseball doesn’t require anything beyond a high school diploma and that’s true enough. However, he conveniently ignores that the majority of high school players take longer to get to The Show than college players. The college players experience a de facto minor league system. It’s not a perfect substitute, of course, because of aluminum bats and the professional life, but it’s close. The same maturation occurs. And that’s what the NBA is lacking.

For a true understanding of this, Mr. O’Neal’s need look no further than his own career. Consider:

O’Neal went to the NBA straight out of high school in 1996 and was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers, who made him the 17th overall selection.

O’Neal didn’t blossom into the star he is today until he was dealt to the Pacers during the 2000 offseason. He has made the past three Eastern Conference All-Star teams.

By my calculation, graduating in 1996 and blossoming into a star in 2000 is a four year span of maturation and learning. What other experience can we think of that takes approximately four years to complete? Admittedly he played more games and experienced the professional life during those years, but should the teams pay for that maturation with the millions of dollars spent on rookies, whether high school or college? Remember, when the teams pay those millions, that money has to come from somewhere. That somewhere is the pockets of fans. In the ’80s and ’90s, I could pay for Magic and Bird and Jordan and Barkley, guys who were flashy and showmen, but were also team-oriented first. If they shined but the team lost, they weren’t happy. I don’t get that feeling with today’s NBA. That is why I don’t watch the NBA any more. Sometimes the “good old days” really were better.