I-10 in LA is in pretty bad shape. it's a federal highway, but outside of LA the highway is in fine shape, why? is it state responsibility to maintain the highway, was it poor LA workmanship, is there an unusual amount of traffic along this route because of the MS river and the N.O. port? please fill me in.
first sign of hurricane damage was around the LA state line - several businesses had damaged signs.
we stopped in baton rouge for a few hours. mostly did the driving tour thing. went to the campus which was nice enough. there were some rundown parts around the LSU campus, but overall the city was decent and easily the best part of louisiana to my limited knowledge. lsu apparently boasts the best baseball attendance in the country and athletics are clearly a big deal there. that goes for the rest of the south as well.
a bad picture of an awesome building. the old capitol building in baton rouge:
we arrived in new orleans at night with the intentions of finding a suitable parking lot or campground to spend the night. the campground that the gps system had listed was either no longer in business or tucked away between industry and a railroad; either way the area was in very bad shape and it didn't look safe. there was debris all over the place, usually in piles. signs were half fallen, buildings were abandoned, and cars were abandoned and in various stages of decay. basically, much of the outside part of the city looked as close to a war zone as i've ever seen.
it was late and we were getting tired so we decided to find a public parking lot so we could park and sleep. we drove towards downtown and eventually found a sporting goods store with a sizable parking lot. i quickly pulled into the first parking lot entryway that i saw and, as soon as i made the turn, i realized i was entering the lot from an exit road. less than a second after that i noticed a cop car following behind me. he proceeded to turn on his lights and i parked in the parking lot. he told me to come to the rear of the vehicle, but i didn't have my shoes on (it was hot and i don't like driving long distances with my shoes on) so i bent down to pick them up and put them on outside (so he wouldn't think i was reaching for a weapon). i gave him my info and told him that i was looking for a place to rest and was so excited by the sight of a large parking lot that i didn't have time to notice what path i was taking. to be fair, neither meryl nor i noticed any "one-way" or "wrong-way" signage. at any rate, he was nice and said he just wanted to make sure i wasn't drunk.
sleeping in the parking lot proved nearly impossible - it was very hot, even with the windows open, and mosquitos were in full force. i wonder what the hurricane did for the mosquito population of new orleans. after giving rest a try for about 1.5 hours we looked for the only hostel we found listed in our guide book. we found the place, but it was closed. as we sat in the car looking for nearby hotels/campgrounds meryl saw a couple guys walking towards the car in a suspicious manner so she started the car and we got the hell out of there. we went downtown to probe for hotel prices, but that proved to be far too expensive so we decided that new orleans sucks and left. i've been to new orleans pre and post-katrina and haven't been impressed either time. it was rundown, dingy and unimpressive. the cop was the best part of the city. speaking of cops, there seemed to be a good deal of cops on the streets of new orleans, but i felt less safe there than in almost any other city i've ever been in.
i feel bad for the city since it's been through a lot and the community has an uphill battle for the next few years. at the same time, other than its musical contributions, i think new orleans is a shitty little city.
outside of new orleans we looked for some reasonable lodging and came up empty. places were either closed down or too expensive. while filling up the gas tank we saw a couple junkies come out from behind a trashcan to wait for the bathroom to be free. we ended up sleeping in the car outside of slidell, la. it was cooler, there weren't any mosquitos and it was a hell of a lot safer.
today, while in alabama we saw a sign for a local sheriff's race, the candidate it was for was named Hoss Mack; that's perfect.
we drove through mobile and montgomery today as well. while in montgomery we stopped at Chris' hot dogs, which has been in business since 1917. the prices were good and the food was too. it was a real down home cooking style experience. worth checking out if you happen to be in the area.
we also saw the confederate white house that jefferson davis occupied for a brief time. nice enough from the outside, but it doesn't come close to some of the nicer southern homes or new england homes. the wainscotting was fairly commonplace, the floors looked like plainsawn (not quartersawn) oak, the plaster was in disrepair and it wasn't as big as i would have imagined. in many ways i supposed it embodied the entire confederate experiment - i'll let you decide in what ways that applies.
confederate white house:
after checking out the capitol building and the small downtown area we left for atlanta. right now we're 11 miles from the GA border.
Chris is driving now, we split up the driving today pretty well, so we each got a good amount of passenger and driving time. When I drove to Houston last weekend it made my knee hurt a lot. I seem to not be having that problem so far on the trip, so that's good news to start off with.
We got to Baton Rouge around 5:30 or so this evening. I saw the LSU campus from the freeway, so of course in honor of Sarah (at work) we drove onto the campus so I could look around at her alma mater. I figured the most important thing to visit would be the football statdium, which was VERY big, and old. It looks as if a lot of the original architecture is still intact, but they were doing some repairs. All in all, LSU looked like a pretty cool campus, good choice Sarah. We decided it was time for dinner, and I attempted to navigate us to one of the Lonely Planet's recommended restaurants. This of course is where my dad was right when he guessed that I wouldn't be able to use the navigation system he got us properly. In my first attempt at using it I got us lost. In true Meryl fashion, I got completely pissed off and had Chris take over as naviator. We finally got to Phil's Oyster Grill. It was pretty tasty. After dinner we roamed around the shore of the Mississippi River. The Old State Capitol building was down there. It was really cool, and at the same time pretty strange looking for a capitol building - we figured it was because of the French architectural influence, because it was very gothic looking.
According to our navigation system - which I have now figured out - we are about 40 miles outside of New Orleans. The first day of our trip has been pretty fun, even though mostly filled with driving. I've been counting down our trip for months now, so it's very exciting to actually be on it.
on I-10E heading to new orleans right now. we're about 20 miles from the LA border. meryl's dad got a gps program for us and i've been messing with that for a while, pretty fun. it has all sorts of info - local gas stations, points of interest, theaters, restaurants, campgrounds, etc. of course it also does realtime directions and the like.
rained very hard outside of houston.
lonely planet's guide to the USA (i bought the 2006 edition because i forgot my other one in davis) is fucking great. it gives a great, balanced look at the US. it has good info on culture, media, sports, religion, history, etc. for the traveler. it also does a good job of highlighting the unique elements of particular regions and it doesn't pull its punches. they don't mind pointing out the weaknesses of new orleans alongside raves about its musical impact, for example. it also made me think about the fact that most of our culture denies, at least outwardly, some of the unsavoury elements of our history, but museums around the country generally do a great job of incorporating the effects of slavery or europeans' impact on native civilizations. i feel most patriotic when i'm travelling and seeing the potential and diversity of the nation.
trip has officially started, we're on the road.
bungey cord system which currently holds clothes and sleeping pads on the roof. bungey cords are indispensible.
trip starts tomorrow. from now on whenever meryl writes something it'll be in red and when i write something it'll be in white.
hi, this is meryl.
i'm going to keep all the trip updates on this main page until the end of the trip, at which point i'll move them to the BB Trip page on the sidebar.
some minute maid park pics:
cool buidling in downtown houston.
our cat which has a new owner. :(
so far we've gotten two sets of free tickets - mets and reds (both in the national league) and been rejected four times - nationals, blue jays, tigers and white sox (three of which are in the american league).
The Cincinnati Reds Community Relations department has recieved your ticket donation request. It is with pleasure to inform you that the Reds will donate two view level tickets for the 6/28 game to help with the finances of your trip.
i love how the debate on privacy and freedom of information is being framed these days. a scandal like the phone tapping thing is often premised by talking heads in the following manner: "first, i'd like to say that any time we talk about this we are undermining the efforts of the department of homeland security, we are, in essence, making weakening our own security interests." or, regarding the capitol building scare today: "the idea that we have to have a debate about confidential material undermines the very idea of rule of law." i heard some people espousing the belief that merely showing the pictures of police response to this recent event weakens our overall security. sure, it could easily be argued that this incident could have been used to see what the response of law enforcement is, but that shouldn't mean that news programs should refrain from showing things as they're happening. i'm very disturbed by this increasing move to limit the amount of un-edited, un-screened material we get to see.
monday will be my last day of work. i've been packing and getting ready for the trip lately. there's a lot to be done and the little things always take the longest.
updated movies list.
haven't been updating webpage or watching movies very much lately. will update page plenty when i'm on the trip.
i look at the phoenix suns and see a fun team to watch with a great team dynamic so i like them for that, but they're just not built for the playoffs. i know i'm saying this after they won their first two series, but i just don't think a team can win four seven game series while playing their run and gun style of basketball. unlv was famous for their run and gun offense and you can do that successfully in college in a one and out style tournament, but when you have to beat a team four times i don't think the phoenix style is the way to go. they don't make the same adjustments that great playoff teams make because they play one style of game. they have no interior because stoudamire is injured and because their style necessitates a big man who can run. very few big men can dominate inside and on the glass, but still run with the suns. again, their style weakens key aspects of a championship team. they've gotten as far as most have expected, but i think that dallas will beat them (though san antonio would have had an even better shot). even if phoenix does make it to the finals they won't beat miami or detroit because both teams have superior inside games, actually play defense, and know how to rebound.
ran errands all day yesterday.
yesterday we went to meryl's dad's place. i worked on the car (coolant flush and trans fluid drain/refill) with her dad and she took our cat to petco to see if we could find a potential home. still not sure what's going to happen there.
last night the pistons finally played the way they should have been playing the entire series. the first two games were blow outs, but the pistons got by on great offense more than great defense. last night they shut down the cavs and lebron. he had only 5 points in the second half and only 2 assists all game. the pistons rotated well, hustled, and protected the ball. in the end they won by 18 and allowed only 61 points. to me the best indicator of how well they're playing against the cavs is looking at tayshaun prince. when he is scoring and making plays then he negates lebron and the pistons are going to win. it would be interesting to see his production totals in the wins vs. the losses in this series.
went to houston on saturday to watch our first game of the trip. when we first arrived in houston (4th largest city in the us) we were caught in traffic on the outskirts. traffic that reminded me of the worst of la and dallas. it turned out that it was more a result of bad road maintenance and construction plans than anything else. eventually they'll be done and, presumably, the traffic will be much better. but, for a saturday at noon, it was the worst traffic i had ever been in. strike one. we drove into downtown and i was immediately struck by the architecture and cleanliness of downtown. we drove around a bit and admired the nice layout of downtown, but noted the lack of commerce; downtown was remarkably empty. there are plenty of office buildings and i'm told there's a condo building downtown as well, but there isn't much in the way of shopping or entertainment. oddly, i didn't see any theaters (live action or film) in the theater district. basically if you're not going to work or going to a baseball game it didn't seem like you'd go downtown.
after we explored the downtown area we drove around the adjacent areas. first we went to south houston which has some nice apartment buildings, then to east houston which is more run down (just like east austin) and industrial, then to west houston which has some nice areas (including a huge, nice park) and some not so nice areas. overall, it's a fairly spread out city, but it didn't seem to have much commerce and it didn't look like the fourth largest city in the country to me.
after looking around houston we settled back into downtown where minute maid park is. what a baseball park. it's designed by HOK, the same architectural firm that designed pacbell. they look pretty similar with their lines in outfield and this one has a train on the left field wall, just like pacbell has a trolley. it's famous for its retractable roof (which we didn't see in action). according to my baseball book it has a capacity of 40,950 (and it sells out 10% of the time), but there must have been some upgrades or something because it wasn't sold out and the attendance was 41,480. the astros fans get really into the game. even with the 'stros down 6-0 in the late innings the crowd was trying to pump up the team. during the 7th innning stretch they sang "take me out to the ballgame" and "deep in the heart of texas," it was hilarious. we were in the upper deck in left field and had trouble seeing all of left field. otherwise the sightlines seemed pretty solid. around the park they have cool info about baseballs, bats, pitches, the astros, etc. they're also the first (maybe only) stadium to have a closed captioned screen; it's in right field. the field is squarish - 436 to center field and only 326 to right. i wonder what the biggest gap between center and right/left field is. during the national anthem they had the lyrics on the big screen and the last line read: "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?" i thought it odd to have a question mark at the end since it's supposed to be a statement and we're in texas so i doubt it was some subtle commentary. more likely a faux pax on someone's part. as nice as the park was the field wasn't in great shape. the grass was pretty well worn in the out field and deep infield. one last note, i think it's the first sports stadium in which i've ever seen a church advertising. the astros lost 6-0, pettite got pounded and that's not good for my fantasy baseball team.
we got another rejection letter, this one from the tigers, saying they couldn't give us tickets. it was signed and mentioned the trip so it was peronalized, so that's nice.
yahoo sports called lendale white the steal of the draft. personally i thought the guy was a top 15 pick, but he ended up going in the second round.
i don't like tony parker.
it's hard to know who to root for in the spurs/mavericks series, but i've settled on the mavericks. i like avery johnson and i dislike the dallas players less than the san antonio players. i'd say it's safe to say that most people in austin tend towards the spurs - san antonio is closer and the spurs are a more popular team because of their success since 1999. i have to say that it seems a bit inconsistent that reggie evans didn't get suspended for his ball grab, but terry got suspended for his ball punch.
even though the pistons won today and will likely win at home on sunday, i'd like to point out that i was in the minority when i pointed out some of my concerns about the pistons, their new found style of play and decreased intensity on the defensive end. here's what i wrote before:
i'm a bit worried about the pistons' defense lately. the way they're playing right now seems to be a step down from where they were playing last year at this time. that said, the east is weak so they should still get to the eastern conference finals, and probably even the finals...they're good enough to not have to play their best.
cut and pasted response, this one from an intern for the nationals:
Hell Ms. Phillips and Mr. May:
I am writing regarding your complimentary ticket request. Unfortunately, we do not donate tickets to independents. One of our donation requirements is that the group is a 501c3 non-profit. I do still encourage you to come to the game, though! You can get tickets for as cheap as $7/each if you check our website, www.nationals.com . Plus an N.L. East Rival coming into town is exciting!
I do wish we could help you out, but your trip sounds amazing. Have a fabulous time!
poorly written and a disappointing outcome. fuck the expos, er nationals.
saw three more cases of stupidity on the road in the last two days. first one was on a two-lane, two-way road and it involved a truck which was towing a trailer. in the trailer were two wheelbarrows. as the truck was driving by me on the street i saw one of the wheelbarrows, which was apparently unsecured, fall off the trailer and tumble in the middle of the street. the truck stopped, a passenger got out and pulled the wheelbarrow off to the side of the road while the truck turned into a nearby driveway. luckily there wasn't a car right behind the truck when this happened. the second was on a large street with a large tree on the sidewalk which hung about 12 feet over the right most lane of the street. hanging in the tree, and i swear i'm not making this up, was a twin size mattress. yes, a mattress hanging in a tree. only in texas. the third one i saw today and it's become fairly commonplace so it's hardly worth mentioning...i was driving down two way street which is divided by a median and a woman turned left out of a driveway onto my side of the street heading right at me. i think going the wrong way down a street is less taboo here.
saw one.be.lo perform on saturday. he only did a half hour set, but it was good. rjd2 and blueprint (together they're sould position) were also there and they put on a decent show. the crowd was on the small side considering it was rjd2, but i guess he really isn't THAT well known yet. one.be.lo sold his own merchandise so we got to talk with him a bit and meryl got a poster signed by him. he seemed pretty down to earth overall.
i have a good amount of work to do today so that's nice.
saw a bumper sticker that read: "The Last Time Someone Listened to a Bush folks wandered the desert for 40 years"
our cat is very cute. she likes looking outside, she takes medicine well and she is very affectionate.
got a new boss at work. she has her stuff together a lot more than the last girl so that's good. ultimately it doesn't really matter though because i'm leaving in two weeks.
updated movies list.
thanks mostly to the sxsw film festival i'm only one film short of matching my personal record for films seen in a theater in a single year. barring death or massive debilitation, i'll be breaking that record shortly.
a while back i commented that, because of the world situation, it would be a good time to invest in gold. i see gold as a good long-term investment and the price increases as things in the world appear less stable. that said, the recent increase (20% in the last month) in gold prices is a bit worrisome. perhaps it's tied to the issues in iran or maybe there's something larger going on. either way it doesn't give me much confidence in the world market. normally i don't pay attention to these things, and normally the media doesn't report on them, but i think a 20% increase in 30 days is worth mentioning and the mainstream media, so far as i know, has yet to make note of it. consider the 6 month low and high: $466.75 and $725.00. btw, i checked the gold prices relative to other currencies (indian rupee, euro, yen) and the change is basically the same so it's not merely a drop in the dollar.
for further consideration...the top image (from wikipedia.org) is of oil prices during the oil crisis of the late 70s. the bottom image (from goldprice.org) is a chart of gold prices over the last 30 years. it's interesting to see the parallels between oil/gold then and now.
funny stuff. here and here.
On the Pleasure of Hating Kobe Bryant And the sadness of watching him exit the playoffs.
By Sam Anderson
Posted Monday, May 8, 2006, at 6:28 PM ET
When the Phoenix Suns embarrassed Kobe Bryant's Lakers this weekend in what should have been a classic Game 7, it marked the beginning of a kind of spiritual vacation for me. I detest Kobe with such bilious overpowering fervor that, when he's playing well, I have trouble doing much else with my life: an incapacitating dark sludge floods my soul. Over the last few weeks—as Kobe threw dirty elbows, made smug post-game comments, and beat the lovable Suns on a couple of irritatingly great last-second shots—my Kobe-hatred swelled to alarmingly high levels. With the Suns' victory, however, I felt the black tide begin to recede. Its absence still feels strange.
I don't hate Kobe for petty reasons: for his talent, for instance, which is beyond dispute and often gorgeous to watch, or because he sold out Shaq, or because he's an adulterer, or because his face looks like a weasel. I can forgive all of that. I don't even hate him because the referees surround him with a sacred halo of gentle touching (he was once so coddled in a playoff game that Ralph Nader had to start agitpropping about it), or because he's skewed the self-perceptions of pickup ball-hogs across the nation, or even because he makes close to my yearly salary every time he scores a basket. This is all irritating but peripheral. The true source of my rage is much, much deeper: I hate Kobe Bryant's rotten and derivative soul.
Since Michael Jordan's final title in 1998, NBA superstars have suffered mightily from what Harold Bloom termed "anxiety of influence." The Jordan myth—a morality play about how dedication, respect for the game, and loving your parents makes you the undisputed greatest person in the world—has stifled an entire generation of great players. But, as Jordan's most talented immediate successor, Kobe has been uniquely warped. He's plagiarized MJ's game so expertly that, in many ways, he's ahead of the master's curve—Kobe is stronger than the 27-year-old Jordan and has a deadlier outside shot. But for all his miraculous skills, Kobe is painfully bad at mythmaking. Since he's a Jordan-like talent, Kobe clearly thinks that he's entitled to the Jordan mythology, but he doesn't have any of Jordan's charisma or imagination. As melodramatic and managed as Jordan's career was, there was some authentic core—it was original and seemed to mean something. Kobe exists entirely within quotation marks.
Jordan was a master of pantomime. He built his empire largely on iconic celebratory gestures: the tongue-wag, the splay-legged fist pump, the impish "Even I marvel at my own divinity" shrug. Kobe's dramatic gestures are all either borrowed or embarrassing. After his game-winner over the Suns in Game 4, Kobe held his fist frozen in front of him exactly like MJ used to. But when he got clotheslined by Raja Bell in the next game, there was no script to work from: You could almost see him trying to remember if Come Fly With Me had any footage of Jordan getting horse-collared by Joe Dumars. Kobe finally improvised with a sassy hand-gesture shuffle. He wiped a pile of imaginary dirt off of his shoulder for a while, then added a schoolmarm finger waggle while making the least convincing tough-guy face I've ever seen. It was like a high-school production of West Side Story.
The Phoenix crowd's Game 7 chant of "Kobe sucks" brought on another round of awkward posturing. Kobe cupped his hand to his ear, Hulk Hogan-style, and held it long enough for TNT's cameras to swivel and zoom; then he nodded sarcastically with his lips pursed for a good 10 seconds. It was supposed to look cocky and defiant but came off as empty petulant theater. When play resumed he launched into an incredible burst of scoring that made me wonder if the greatest talent in the basketball universe is merely an expression of insecurity.
The circumstances surrounding the Phoenix series made Kobe's image-manipulation comically transparent. When word leaked out that Steve Nash had won the MVP again, essentially for being the anti-Kobe, Bryant suddenly transformed his game into a mediocre Nash impression, passing up good shots to get his teammates slightly worse ones. Though the media congratulated him for his selflessness, his real agenda—to prove that he was the snubbed MVP who can do it all—was painfully obvious. Kobe is the only player in the league whose game is most showy when he scores fewer than 30 points.
In the carefully scripted after-school special of Kobe Bryant's career, this playoff series was the part where he "selflessly" "matured" into a "leader." During TV timeouts, he seized his teammates by their faces and shouted intense Jordan-esque lectures directly into their ears, carefully exaggerating his gestures so people in the cheap seats could admire his leadership. In the second half of Game 7, with the Lakers needing a miracle only Kobe could provide, he refused to shoot. Instead, he made a big show of deferring to the role players. To the untrained, this looked like pouting, but you could see him mentally adding another line to his resume: He had taught his teammates not to rely on their superstar in a dire situation.
At some point over the weekend, after Kobe had swished another fadeaway 20-foot turnaround with a defender sitting on his shoulders, my wife wondered aloud whether my hatred might be doing permanent damage to my heart. But I know it's not. Hating an athlete isn't like hating an actual person. It's like hating a character in a novel. My hatred is exceptionally pure and completely contained within the parameters of the game. When Kobe went to the bench with five minutes left and the Suns' lead hovering around 30, I felt an unfamiliar emotion: a twinge of sadness followed by pity. I could feel my Kobe-hatred slipping away, and it made me sad. I will miss it. Everyone left in the playoffs is disturbingly likable. I have nothing to look forward to until next year.
austin is stupid. actually, austin is two cities - there's the one square mile around downtown, which is cool - and there's everything else, which sucks. i was driving on the freeway the other day and some truck didn't tie down some metal ducting it was transporting well enough so it spilled out onto the road. there are constantly accidents on the 35 freeway, there's always garbage and abadoned vehicles on the side of the road...the other day we were coming back home and about six kids were on the side of the freeway. three ran across the freeway and the other three were waiting to follow. this was during rush hour. two nights ago, i was coming back from a late night movie and driving down one of the bigger downtown streets when i saw a beer bottle just rolling down the street. a couple days a go i was driving to pick up meryl on a street that is perpendicular to a main frontage road. the street i was on was a two way street with four lanes divided equally by a sizable median. as i was approaching the frontage road i see a truck coming my way. some guy in a pizza hut truck missed the turn before the median so he was driving the wrong way down the street. there's constantly traffic and i think it's made worse by the piss poor roadway design. things aren't well marked, there are often illogical or inefficient lane changes and mergings/exits on the highways. it's a jungle out here. seeing a truck exit a freeway by hopping the curb and driving over a median isn't at all uncommon. what's more is that people out here don't wear their seatbelts. i saw a stat that indicated about 80% of the accidents that occur in travis county involved people who aren't wearing seatbelts. my own observations have confirmed this.
so, as expected, adelman was let go by the kings earlier this week. i feel bad for the guy since he's gotten a lot of bad breaks, but the coach is ultimately responsible for the success of the team and he just hasn't been able to produce results equal to the expectations. artest's offer to play for free obviously didn't sway the maloofs. i don't know who they're going to get. i've heard don nelson's name thrown around the most, but i think that would be a foolish choice. he's creative, but he hasn't proven the ability to coach the big games and he preaches defense even less than adelman. here's a quote which sums up the reason behind adelman's departure: "the Maloofs were publicly upset after Game 2, when the Kings blew a critical road game against the Spurs thanks to defensive lapses. Then, late in Game 5 in San Antonio, Brad Miller was on the floor rather than Kings teammates who might have provided better defense against the Spurs' Tim Duncan." if you'll recall, i, too, was upset after those two games for those precise reasons. in game two it was bibby's fault and in game five it was adelman's.
we got a cat the other day. she's with us for a couple weeks because she's a foster cat waiting for a home. she's cute and acts like a dog. she follows you around, will come when you snap your fingers and is very affectionate. her name is "buzz," but that's a dumb name for a female cat.
i wonder what state consumes the most meat per capita. to be fair i'll go ahead and include fish even though most people don't consider it meat for some reason. colorado and texas would be my guess. lemme know if you have some numbers on this.
i hope the clippers win their series. the suns are good, but beatable and the clippers are better than many think. it would be nice if they got to the final four because then i'd be able to say that i saw two teams (live) that reached the final four (ucla and the clippers). the clippers have sam cassell who constantly elevates his team and kamen and brand are both too strong in the middle for the suns' weak interior defense.
artest has offered to play free for the kings if they resign bonzi wells and rick adelman (the coach). this from a guy who, last year, was the nba's most infamous player. this is the kind of thing that makes me like him so much and it's why i chose him for my fantasy olympic team. whatever anger problems he has you can't ever question his commitment to winning. a pessimist could call it a PR move, but it would be a pretty expensive PR move from a guy who i don't think cares too much about image. plus, if he's putting his money where his mouth is i don't really see it as a mere gesture. additionally, this is probably the last guy in the nba who has a bunch of endorsement deals because of his history. so i don't see him making a shitload of money outside of basketball. i love this guy. now the kings need a good backup point guard and a new center.
here's an idea...according to the cia, iran (4th in the world) produces approx. 4 million barrels of oil a day. if, by merely rattling their sabre over nuclear energy, they are able to raise the price of oil by $10/barrel then they stand to make approx. that's an increased profit of $40 million a day. in december of 2005 the price per barrel was $52 now it's about $72 so that's $20 in five months and probably half of that is because of "uncertainty" in iran. i know about the custom blends (virginia added a new one, for example), the summer blend, katrina, refinement issues, nigeria (9th in the world), venezuela (8th in the world), etc. i don't think it was a purely economic decision, but i think that this was an issue, yet i don't really hear it being talked about in these terms. rather, the media focuses on the political/ideological elements of the issue.
meryl wrote to a bunch of baseball teams explaining the trip and asking for tickets. amazingly, it has yielded one set of mets tickets: "Meryl,
We received your letter and I am writing to inform you that we will leave 2 tickets at the Will Call window for you on June 19th.
The Will Call Window is located between Gates C & D to the left of the Mets Offices Entrance.
Good Luck with your trip...It sounds like a lot of fun.
New York Mets
Media Relations Coordinator"
i'm very surprised. i might have to become a mets fan.
moved all my trips to one "trips" directory. if you notice any broken links as a result then lemme know asap. also added a baseball trip page which is in its nascent stage. reminiscing about the hitchhiking trip. that was epic. what a great time.
the thing about david blaine's b.s. stunts is that, while they may be difficult, they're uninteresting. no one really cares about the kind of stuff he does because it takes too long and it's not relatable. people don't sit around thinking "i wish i could sit in a box over a river in london for 44 days without eating." sure, we realize it's tough, but i don't think most people really give a shit. it's more remarkable seeing buff jesus freaks tearing up phone books and breaking shit with their heads. that crap is relatable and immediate; it's also hilarious. whereas blaine is maudlin, boring and unrelatable.
criterion is coming out with "harlan county usa" on dvd this month. i recommend this documentary to all.
trip is in three weeks or so. looking forward to that.
lately life has been pretty slow and unspecial. i'm looking forward to the trip and i'm making plenty of money with the census, but i don't have friends here and my job is so simple that it doesn't really occupy my time. i've been looking for additional temporary work, but haven't been too successful. i wish i had a house and some land and could just work on home improvement all day. about a month ago i was tossing around the idea of becoming a professional house flipper, but it just doesn't make all that much sense. i don't have enough capital, the profit margin isn't that great for the homes i'd be able to afford and it would make more sense to rent the homes out than it would to sell them. other than those issues, though, it would be a dream job.
updated movies list.
had a pretty good sized storm last night. high winds, lots of rain, lots of lightning, but very little thunder. a few branches fell and the power went out a couple times. there's an electric gate at our apartment complex and i don't think there's backup power to open it. so, if the power's out, you wouldn't be able to leave with your car. further, if there was a fire that was located near the office the only way you could leave is by climbing over a brick wall or if you had a car. this complex doesn't really have their shit together it seems.
leaving for the trip in a few weeks. if you have any suggestions about places i should visit in the u.s. or canada lemme know now, not three months from now when the trip is over. we're going to the everglades so i'll finally visit that before it's gone.
looking forward to the kings game tomorrow. the nba playoffs have been better than the first games seemed to foreshadow.
i have $50 riding on the lakers winning game seven. actually, i bet my dad that they'd do better in the playoffs than the clippers and that means they have to win this series and then beat the clippers in the second round. i'll never bet for a team i hate again. the logic was that i'd win either way. if they won then i'd benefit monetarily, if they lost then i'd be happy inside.
finally got paid for the census stuff.
pretty depressed about the kings game. wasn't able to watch it at home because it was only on nba tv. went to a sports bar which was about 85-90% spurs fans. here's why the kings lost: rebounding - they were out rebounded by ten. adelman - he chose to play miller in the last two minutes of the game instead of abdur-rahim. miller proceeded to play "matador defense" on duncan and the kings lost. artest did a good job on ginobili, but wasn't guarding him the entire time and had to help miller on defense, which explains ginobili's 25 points. so, adelman, more than anyone else on the kings, is to blame for this loss. by the way, the kings lost another game in which artest took more than 15 shots. i don't think that this is his fault, i think it's more a function of him trying to pick up the slack left by others. the kings lost by 11, but most of those points came in trash time so the game was actually much closer than the score indicates. adelman's defense to my allegations might be that miller provides offense for the kings. in most matchups this might be true, but not here. miller had twice as many points, but played twice as many minutes; and i'm pretty sure he only had 3 points in the fourth quarter. further, the offense didn't run through miller as it often does in the high post. in those closing minutes the offense was primarily an isolation offense with artest or wells. i don't like this strategy and it should have left miller on the bench. critical mistake here by adelman. we'll see how the kings respond at home in game six.
mike wilbon said that since football is more of a tv sport than the other major sports, there isn't much need to have a team in la. first, i think that there's plenty of desire in la for a football team. second, and more important, football is the LEAST tv friendly of the major sports. football on tv, even hdtv, is inferior to the live experience. watching football on tv means missing the secondary and most of the wide receivers' routes. when you're missing a third of the players from the screen how can that be a superior experience? the differences between a cover 2 vs. a dime package are lost when you watch football on tv. wilbon is way off base here and takes another step down in my book.
raja bell should get a game suspension for his foul on kobe, if he doesn't then the league is clearly out of wack. artest's suspension came as a result of a play that was less harmful than the bell foul or the evans foul.
saw a guy with a tattoo on his forearm today. at first glance it looked simply like a three inch wide peace sign. upon closer inspection i saw that there was a confederate flag on the inside of the peace sign. not really sure what that was supposed to mean.
hamilton elbowed redd in the face on saturday and received a $10k fine. evans grabbed kamen's balls and also received a $10k fine. neither were suspended, which makes me wonder why artest was suspended. with artest in game two there's a good chance that the kings would be up 3-1 in that series right now. pretty fucked up.
i'm not really sure how i feel about the immigration issue. today's protest was an attempt to create a scene like that film "a day without a mexican." in certain parts of the country it seems to have been successful in making people aware just how much of a part of society (primarily mexican) immigrants are. i don't completely understand the purpose of the protests. first, while it shows the country that immigrants are a large part of society, i'd think that this fact is self-evident. second, to my eyes, it's not really an immigration issue so much as it is an illegal immigration issue, or, at least, a south of the border immigration issue. i haven't heard of great numbers of asian immigrants marching in san francisco or new york, for example. so, if we distill the issue a bit it seems that the issue is mainly about latino immigrants. today's marches didn't do a very good job of stating their position. maybe there isn't a cohesive position, or maybe the media has failed to adequately cover the issue (almost all the coverage i've seen/heard/read [pbs, npr, yahoo news] has focused on immigrants "flexing their economic muscle"), or maybe the position is the simple one i heard from several protesters: "we're here and we're not going to disappear." i made the point before in my review for "a day without a mexican" that this position should be self-evident. if it's not then you're an insulated ignoramus, which is to say you belong to the majority of the world.
at any rate, beyond the "we're here and we're not leaving" message, what is the point of the protest/movement? i think it's a response to two things: a move in the legislature that would make felons of illegal immigrants and bush's guest worker program. i think the first is silly and the second is surprisingly reasonable (though the devil is in the details). in more theoretical terms, i don't know where i stand. should people be allowed to cross the border as they wish? shouldn't a country have jurisdiction over its own borders? how about the general spirit (the "give us your, poor, your tired, your huddled masses" etc. sentiment) of america? where do the stark realities and the idyllic speeches intersect? do we owe mexicans something because they were here first, or is there a statute of limitations on these claims? yes they give us cheap labor, but does that entitle them to government services or, is the wage sufficient compensation for their service to the economy? what about the reality that many illegals already receive government services (public schooling, hospitalization, etc.) yet don't generally pay an income tax? should it be a strictly economic question? should economics have anything to do with the discussion? if so, which is more their drain on government services without paying income taxes or the low cost of construction, produce, etc. which is largely thanks to their labor? honestly i don't think these economic questions can be answered and i don't think they should matter. either something is right or it's not. if it's right then you make the economy work around the decision. slavery is the obvious example and isn't that far away from this situation.
i don't think many people are advocating simply making all illegals legal. i don't think this is fair and i don't think it makes sense. i don't know what the process is for becoming a legal citizen. i've been around people of different nationalities who have gone through the process, but i can't recall much of the specifics. further, most of them have been from countries which have a smaller influx than mexico. for example, i had a friend from ghana who got a visa without much trouble because he married (purely for the legal benefit) a u.s. citizen. in other cases there are people from india or smaller countries who either have a specialized skill or are from a country for which the u.s. gives out a greater relative number of visas. in another instance i knew a couple guys from sudan/u.a.e. who left the country essentially as political refugees. they did it legally and, while it took a long time, i think this is a great example of a good part of u.s. immigration policy. really, though, this isn't part of the debate.
i don't know how many people are legally allowed into the u.s. from mexico, but i'd be interested in seeing those figures. anyway, where's the happy medium? it seems that right now people have been largely content to sort of turn a blind eye to the issue. illegals presumably know they're breaking the law and are content enough so long as they're making money and not getting deported, and law enforcement knows that a) they're too valuable and b) they're too numerous to try to actually act on it. now, in the face of a couple different proposals, i think they're raising up. i still don't know what the consensus opinion is, or if there is one. i think most reasonable people can agree that people living here already shouldn't be uprooted or mistreated. further, most of us realize that living in fear illegally in the u.s. is probably less preferable to living here legally, without fear. but what else do we agree on? personally i don't think open borders are the way to go, but i don't have a number of immigrants a year that i think should be allowed in, either. i understand the basic economic drawbacks and advantages, but don't think they should be taken into consideration as much as is being emphasized (remember that the boycott is an economic statement much more than a political one). i understand the u.s.'s past and how it has succeeded in large part due to immigrants, but part of that past also includes the alien & sedition acts as well as various other measures limiting immigration for various reasons (good and bad). in sum, it's a complex issue and i think it's silly to say that we should let everyone in or, conversely, we should close our doors. there's a lot of muddling of the issues going on from both sides and that certainly doesn't help. i just wish people would be a little more honest and lucid when thinking and talking about issues like this. i think part of the discussion is hindered by emotion and political correctness. bah humbug to both.
i think the number one attribute of an intelligent person is their level of intellectual curiousity. you show me someone who is genuinely interested and curious about the way things work and why things are the way they are and i'll show you someone who is likely smarter than the average person. further, i think that there is a causal link between intellectual curiousity and intelligence. to be clear - intellectual curiousity i define separately from a general curiousity e.g., "i wonder what time the store opens on sundays" or "i wonder what i'm getting for christmas." i think that making a person smarter isn't about teaching them why the sky is blue or what kant meant in his "critique of pure reason" rather it's inspiring or instilling curiousity within them so that they will seek out those answers on their own. when a person seeks out answers to his own questions he asks more questions and this thirst leads to knowledge and intelligence. eventually this person knows what questions are good questions to ask in different situations and learns to formulate his own opinions, etc. perhaps most importantly, this curiousity leads to a questions of the status quo. learning to take things at face value has almost no value in life and is not the mark of an intelligent person. for example, george bush isn't as stupid a person as some claim, but i do find his lack of curiousity shocking and unsettling. the katrina tapes do as much to solidify this sentiment as any book or debate or speech i've come across. it's not that bush doesn't care about black people, it's more that he simply accepts things at face value. he doesn't ask the people around him pointed or probing questions about potential outcomes. he doesn't ask why things are happening or what can be done or what has happened in similar situations in the past. rather, he takes what he's fed and processes that data in a fairly mundane, ignorant and uncreative way.
the kings game last night was good. the kings were one shot away from being up 3-1 in this series, not in the same way as in 2002, but pretty similar. this is a great series so far and now it comes down to a best of three. bonzi wells is a beast and ron artest is shutting down one of the best drivers in the nba. it's actually pretty amazing what he's been able to do thus far. all that said, they still have to win at least one game on the road and i know the spurs are going to be awake for game five. there are two aspects to the kings' success thusfar: rebounding and defense. two years ago they would routinely get outrebounded and their defense was generally spotty. geoff petrie (the gm) brought in athletic players who play defense and can rebound. he's a great gm. i've been disappointed by kenny thomas' production in the series. i generally think of him as a good rebounder for his size, but he's matched up against duncan so that's rough. wells and artest outsize their counterparts so that's what's leading to their increased rebounding numbers.
the pistons were pathetic in their last game. i still definitely have worries about their defense. they just don't seem as focused as they have been in the last couple years.
texas isn't very good about cleaning up their highways. the freeways around here are generally much more cluttered than in california. of course part of that is that things are always falling of trucks. maybe texans don't know how to secure their cargo.
so today immigrants across the country are boycotting to make an obvious point. i listened to the radio a bit and some of the more wacky stations over here have people saying crazy stuff. one caller to a music station said that he works in construction so he knows the value of mexicans. "blacks and whites are lazy, mexicans are the only ones who work hard." another talk station had a couple guys going back and forth about how illegals have put blacks out of the drywall business and are waging war on the country. "they have already invaded us with 14 million people...this is an all out war right now." people are crazy.