31 July 2008

Obama's empty promise(s)


Senator Obama visited his father's village in Kenya in 2006 amid great fanfare. While there, he promised to "provide some assistance in the future to this school..."

The school in mention is the Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School, built on land donated by Obama's paternal grandfather. The school is typical of what you'll find in central Africa: no running water or electricity, dirt floors, no supplies to speak of.

After Obama was elected to the Senate, the school changed its name in his honor.

Faced with such respect, and standing on the ground his fathers walked, Obama was moved to make the above promise.
"Hopefully I can provide some assistance in the future to this school and all that it can be." He then turned to the school's principal, Yuanita Obiero, and assured her and her teachers: "I know you are working very hard and struggling to bring up this school, but I have said I will assist the school and I will do so."
What a great story. Obama returning to the land of his forefathers and promising to make things better. Many successful individuals have done this, and great improvements have been made in places that otherwise would still be in trouble.

Oh, but wait! According to the Evening Standard, Obama has failed to send "even one shilling" to the school. Over two years after making his promise, nothing.

Now, to be fair, Obama did use the word "hopefully." Hope and change, hope and change.

Michellemalkin.com picked up on this story today and has started raising funds for the school to fill in where Obama has failed. If you're interested in helping, follow the link.

28 July 2008

Detmer's biggest win


Ty Detmer. Not the biggest guy, not the strongest arm, but his guts and winning attitude took him far at BYU.

He's the only Cougar to ever win the Heisman trophy, and BYU vs. Miami in 1990 is a major reason he did. Miami started off with a preseason #1 ranking. The game in Provo was their first of the year, though BYU had beaten UTEP 30-10 the week before.

My family moved back to Utah the summer of 1990. Though I personally didn't care about football at this point in my life (I was seven), I later came to discover how big this game is in BYU football history.

One note is that Miami was really good this year. They weren't a bad team given a #1 preseason ranking because of their "legacy." The Hurricanes went on to finish 10-2, with a #3 national ranking.

BYU finished 10-3 after losing games to Oregon, Hawaii and Texas A&M (a brutal 65-14 loss in the Holiday Bowl where A&M's linebackers destroyed Detmer).

But in this game, BYU showed it could hang with and beat schools from bigger conferences. Here's hoping the Cougars can do so again in 2008. Beating Washington and UCLA in the second and third games of the season will go a long way to establishing the program under Bronco.

Anyway, here's the highlight. Detmer's scrambling ability, better-than-average arm and willingness to take a big hit if it meant a great pass make him pretty awesome in my book.

Of course, having receivers like Matt Bellini and Andy Boyce didn't hurt much.

video

26 July 2008

NBA video of the week is Dream Team 1992

This week we have some footage from the original Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics in Barceolona, Spain. I know the music is cheesy and annoying, but it's better than rap.



This was the single most impressive collection of basketball talent ever on one team, in my opinion. No other U.S. Olympic squad will have that kind of success ever again, and here's why:

1. They shared the ball. Almost every player was a good passer. Obviously they had Magic and Stockton, but Jordan, Pippen, Bird and Malone weren't too shabby at creating assists, either. This team has Paul, Deron, Kidd and LeBron. The rest of the guys aren't too hot at moving the ball around.

2. The other teams were in awe of them. Opposing players asked Dream Team members for their autographs after the game. These days, other teams know America isn't bulletproof, and come out with guns blazing to take down Goliath.

3. The worldwide talent level in basketball is rising. Just look at Argentina for proof of that.

4. Opposing teams know how to get back now. Note how every single highlight on that clip is a fast break. Defenses now get back faster, preventing Team USA from constantly scoring quick buckets in transition.

That said, I expect this team to win the gold in Beijing next month. Outside shooting concerns have been addressed with the inclusion of Michael Redd, and I think Boozer and Bosh are better suited for the international game than Duncan was.

Go USA!

25 July 2008

Jazz match offer for Miles


The Deseret News is reporting the Jazz have matched Oklahoma City's offer of $15.8 million over four years to restricted free agent guard C.J. Miles.

What does this mean?

Apparently it means the Jazz aren't so high on Morris Almond. I admit I was disappointed with his performance in the two Rocky Mountain Revue games I attended in person earlier this week. He's a great guy, but his shooting wasn't as consistent as I thought it would be and he got most of his points at the free-throw line. That will fly in a summer league, but he's not getting the same calls in the NBA.

To be fair, he was much better in Thursday's game against Atlanta, where 20 of his 29 points came on 10-of-19 shooting from the field. So maybe he's better than I think, but it appears the Jazz agree that the future is Miles. And again, we're talking summer league, where people like Nate Robinson can score 30 at any given time.

C.J. has had to deal with a lot of inconsistency during his three years in the NBA. Little game time (and when he has played, it's been in four- or five-minute chunks), sitting out entire games on a regular basis, dealing with the mind games of Jerry Sloan... word on the street is that when Miles refused to play in last season's Revue (when he was not under contract), he angered Sloan, and when the Jazz resigned Miles anyway, the coach refused to play the shooting guard out of spite.

I don't know that this is true, but it does kinda sound like Jerry.

Miles did do well in the 11 minutes per game he played last season, shooting 48% from the field and 39% from the 3-point line. If he can do that with increased minutes, I'll be happy. Plus, at 6 feet, 6 inches and 220 pounds, he's got the size to play the 2-spot in the NBA.

I really, really hope Miles gets good minutes this season... something in the 20-30 minutes a game range. He's only 21, so I'm not expecting 20 ppg or anything, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect 14 points and a couple 3-pointers per game from the kid.

There is some historical evidence that Miles would thrive if given extended, consistent minutes. On March 31 of this year, the Jazz played the Wizards. On the road, and with Brewer and Andrei sitting out, Sloan was essentially forced to play Miles, giving the youngster 30 minutes to work with. Miles finished with 29 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the field including 4-of-6 shooting from the 3-point line. He also had five assists and four rebounds with zero turnovers in the effort.

Can't ask for much more from the shooting guard position, in my opinion. It remains to be seen if he can consistently perform when given the chance to, but I believe the Jazz believe he can, at least.

Now if Jerry will only play him.

The Book of Obama


(This is entirely lifted from a column by Gerard Baker, writer for www.timesonline.co.uk)


And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites.

And so it was, in the fullness of time, before the harvest month of the appointed year, the Child ventured forth - for the first time - to bring the light unto all the world.

He travelled fleet of foot and light of camel, with a small retinue that consisted only of his loyal disciples from the tribe of the Media. He ventured first to the land of the Hindu Kush, where the

Taleban had harboured the viper of al-Qaeda in their bosom, raining terror on all the world.

And the Child spake and the tribes of Nato immediately loosed the Caveats that had previously bound them. And in the great battle that ensued the forces of the light were triumphant. For as long as the Child stood with his arms raised aloft, the enemy suffered great blows and the threat of terror was no more.

From there he went forth to Mesopotamia where he was received by the great ruler al-Maliki, and al-Maliki spake unto him and blessed his Sixteen Month Troop Withdrawal Plan even as the imperial warrior Petraeus tried to destroy it.

And lo, in Mesopotamia, a miracle occurred. Even though the Great Surge of Armour that the evil Bush had ordered had been a terrible mistake, a waste of vital military resources and doomed to end in disaster, the Child's very presence suddenly brought forth a great victory for the forces of the light.

And the Persians, who saw all this and were greatly fearful, longed to speak with the Child and saw that the Child was the bringer of peace. At the mention of his name they quickly laid aside their intrigues and beat their uranium swords into civil nuclear energy ploughshares.

From there the Child went up to the city of Jerusalem, and entered through the gate seated on an ass. The crowds of network anchors who had followed him from afar cheered “Hosanna” and waved great palm fronds and strewed them at his feet.

In Jerusalem and in surrounding Palestine, the Child spake to the Hebrews and the Arabs, as the Scripture had foretold. And in an instant, the lion lay down with the lamb, and the Israelites and Ishmaelites ended their long enmity and lived for ever after in peace.

As word spread throughout the land about the Child's wondrous works, peoples from all over flocked to hear him; Hittites and Abbasids; Obamacons and McCainiacs; Cameroonians and Blairites.

And they told of strange and wondrous things that greeted the news of the Child's journey. Around the world, global temperatures began to decline, and the ocean levels fell and the great warming was over.

The Great Prophet Algore of Nobel and Oscar, who many had believed was the anointed one, smiled and told his followers that the Child was the one generations had been waiting for.

And there were other wonderful signs. In the city of the Street at the Wall, spreads on interbank interest rates dropped like manna from Heaven and rates on credit default swaps fell to the ground as dead birds from the almond tree, and the people who had lived in foreclosure were able to borrow again.

Black gold gushed from the ground at prices well below $140 per barrel. In hospitals across the land the sick were cured even though they were uninsured. And all because the Child had pronounced it.

And this is the testimony of one who speaks the truth and bears witness to the truth so that you might believe. And he knows it is the truth for he saw it all on CNN and the BBC and in the pages of The New York Times.

Then the Child ventured forth from Israel and Palestine and stepped onto the shores of the Old Continent. In the land of Queen Angela of Merkel, vast multitudes gathered to hear his voice, and he preached to them at length.

But when he had finished speaking his disciples told him the crowd was hungry, for they had had nothing to eat all the hours they had waited for him.

And so the Child told his disciples to fetch some food but all they had was five loaves and a couple of frankfurters. So he took the bread and the frankfurters and blessed them and told his disciples to feed the multitudes. And when all had eaten their fill, the scraps filled twelve baskets.

Thence he travelled west to Mount Sarkozy. Even the beauteous Princess Carla of the tribe of the Bruni was struck by awe and she was great in love with the Child, but he was tempted not.

On the Seventh Day he walked across the Channel of the Angles to the ancient land of the hooligans. There he was welcomed with open arms by the once great prophet Blair and his successor, Gordon the Leper, and his successor, David the Golden One.

And suddenly, with the men appeared the archangel Gabriel and the whole host of the heavenly choir, ranks of cherubim and seraphim, all praising God and singing:

“Yes, We Can.”

23 July 2008

Jazz get rid of Hart (oh and pick up Brevin Knight)


The Jazz traded backup point guard Jason Hart today for Clippers backup\sometimes starter point guard Brevin Knight. I don't expect a whole lot from Knight, but the important thing here is that we got rid of Hart.

That guy was terrible. Sure, he only played ten minutes a game, but those ten minutes were usually in the last couple minutes of the first quarter or similar situation. And in these situations, he would more often than not help the opposing team make up a deficit or put the Jazz in a hole. He rarely held on to a lead or increased one.

His field goal percentage for the year? 32%. That's worse than Derek Fisher's 39% when he was here. Worse than Derek Fisher. And if you've read my blog, you know how much I hated Fisher in Utah.

So good riddance, Jason. Now, Knight isn't a deadeye by any stretch of the imagination, shooting 40% from the field last season in L.A. But he averaged 4.4 assists per game and less than one turnover in 22 minutes. That's a pretty good assist-to-turnover ratio. If he can take over for Deron and give the Jazz some solid play at the point, I'll be very happy with this trade.

Carroll shines in loss to Jazz

(This article originally ran in the July 23 edition of the Post Register.)

SALT LAKE CITY -- Tuesday's Rocky Mountain Revue NBA summer league game at Salt Lake Community College between the Jazz and Nets featured several big names.

Utah State's Jaycee Carroll, Jazz second-year player Morris Almond, 10th overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft Brook Lopez and Jazz 2008 first-round draft pick Kosta Koufos all played significant minutes.

But in the end, the virtually unknown Tyler Brazelton was the key to

Utah's 87-79 win. Brazelton didn't play a single minute in the first half but scored 12 points in the fourth

quarter to help the Jazz pull away from New Jersey and secure the victory.

The 6-foot point guard from Western Kentucky dazzled the crowd with an array of offensive moves. His reverse layup with 1:31 left in the game gave the Jazz an 82-77 lead and effectively quashed any hopes for a New Jersey comeback.

Local favorite Carroll finished with 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting, far outshining his two-point outing in Monday's game against Golden State.

His steal, layup and free throw with 40 seconds to go in the first half gave the Nets a 45-32 lead and drew raucous cheers from the crowd.

"I had a lot of fans, friends and family come support me," Carroll said. "It was good to see all of those people."

Almond led all scorers with 24 points, but he shot only 4-of-11 from the field. He made up for it by going 14-of-18 from the free-throw line.

Lopez struggled offensively most of the game and shot only 2-of-11 from the field.

Lopez helped his team in other ways by pulling down 11 rebounds and playing effective interior defense against the Jazz big men.

"I just didn't finish well tonight," Lopez said. "But this is a learning experience, and I just need to cherish every game and take full advantage."

The Nets jumped out to a 22-13 lead after one quarter, as the Jazz shot 26 percent as a team and turned the ball over five times.

The Jazz kept it close through the second quarter, and trailed 45-35 at the half.

Utah center Kyrylo Fesenko seemed lost at times and was unable to secure easy defensive rebounds on at least two occasions. He finished with four points and five rebounds in 18 minutes.

The Nets next play Dallas on Friday, while the Jazz will face Atlanta later that same day.

22 July 2008

Jazz beat Iranian national team; Carroll cold from the field


(This article originally ran in the July 22 edition of the Post Register.)

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah -- The Utah Jazz summer league team may have played basketball against the Iranian national team Monday night at the Rocky Mountain Revue, but the crowd that arrived at the Lifetime Activities Center at Sale Lake Community College was there for a soccer game.

The Jazz beat the Iranians 82-57, amid frequent chanting and flag-waving from the Iranian half of the crowd. One fan even brought a giant kazoo to coordinate the cheering.

"I thought he was going to give out at halftime, but he didn't," Jazz guard Morris Almond said. "That's a credit to their enthusiasm."

Almond scored 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting in Utah's first win of the Revue. Almond has struggled in three games so far, averaging 14.6 points per game after averaging 25.6 points in 34 games in the D-League last season.

Utah's other key prospect, Kyrylo Fesenko, also had a subpar outing, scoring six points and pulling down only three rebounds in 12 minutes of action.

Responding to concerns about Utah's seemingly better performance with Fesenko and Almond on the bench, coach Tyrone Corbin said he wasn't worried.

"The guys that came in just pushed the ball and attacked the basket a little more than earlier," Corbin said.

Iran was led by starting guard Mohammad Nikkhah, who scored 23 points.The Iranian national team started out well, outscoring the Jazz 22-14 in the first quarter and generally looking like the quicker, more aggressive team.

Iranian center Hamed Ehadadi was a major part of their early success, recording seven points and seven rebounds in only eight minutes before going down with an apparent leg injury in the second quarter. He did not return.

Ehadadi's injury allowed Utah's big men to go to work, and Utah outscored Iran 54-28 the rest of the way.

Most of the individuals cheering for the Iranian national team were local to Salt Lake City. Sam Behjani moved to Utah ten years ago.

"This was the first time (the Iranian national team) came to Utah," he said. "I don't know the next time they'll be here, so this was a big deal."

Behjani was quick to profess his support for the Jazz, as well.

"We love the Utah Jazz, too; we just came to have fun tonight, no matter who wins," he said.

Former Utah State star Jaycee Carroll played for the New Jersey Nets in an earlier game Monday. The Nets fell to the Golden State Warriors 108-84 in a game that featured several high-profile rookies.

Carroll was held to two points on 1-of-7 shooting for New Jersey, as the Warriors' athleticism and speed were enough to blow past New Jersey's Brook Lopez, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Julius Hodge.

Carroll wasn't overly discouraged by his poor performance.

"As a player I've always been confident," Carroll said. "I'm going to keep coming out and doing what I can to control the situation."

New Jersey coach Brian Hill was complimentary of Carroll.

"He's an intriguing player," Hill said. "It's definitely a possibility he could end up in Trenton, but whether or not he makes the team remains to be seen."

21 July 2008

Obama's arrogance

Good gravy this latest story from Senator Obama's whirlwind tour of the Middle East is amazing.

Seems Obama met with the Iraqi leadership today and worked out a deal to have all American troops out of Iraq by December 2010.

The International Herald Tribune chooses to portray the White House and McCain's response (ie. this is insane) as angry and unstable.
The four-term Arizona senator, appearing wrong-footed by the Iraq developments, hotly disagreed on troop withdrawals saying any pullout "must be based on conditions on the ground," not arbitrary timelines.
But let's be honest... what the heck is going on? Since when do junior U.S. Senators negotiate with foreign powers regarding American policy?

And I can't stand that the media is completely complacent on this. I know y'all really really want Obama to be the president, but have you no shame?

BYU highlight of the week


For this week I chose BYU @ TCU 2006. At the time, BYU was slowly climbing back towards excellence, but still fighting the ghosts of 2002-2004. It had been a long time since the team had beaten a really good opponent, and they hadn't even come close to doing so on the road for years.

Along came 2006. The team was looking to do well in Bronco's second year, but started out 1-2 after losing at Arizona and at Boston College. John Beck's ankles were taped, and he spent the fourth game of the season, a home game against Utah State, on the sidelines.

Going to Texas, the Cougars were 2-2, with one of those wins coming at home against a team that should be Div-II. Fans were restless, it seemed to be taking longer than it should for BYU football to get back to where it was in the glory days.

TCU was coming off an 11-1 season in 2005, and had gone undefeated in conference to win the MWC championship. The Horned Frogs were 3-0 in 2006. In short, this was a good team, on a roll, at home.

And here's the result:


video

Final tally:

Beck finished with 321 yards and three touchdowns on 23-of-37 passing with no interceptions. He was simply on fire, completing laser pass after laser pass on TCU's vaunted seconday. Texas Christian fans to this day say they would have won this game if not for Beck's ridiculous accuracy and power.

BYU went undefeated the rest of the season, and pummeled Oregon in the Cougars' first bowl win since 1996, when Sark beat KSU in the Cotton Bowl.

The Cougars went 11-2 that year and then 11-2 last year. It appears the magic is back, and the turning point, in my opinion, was this game.

And let's not forget this game's effect on Beck's career. Before TCU, fans were calling for his head and questioning his abilities and mental toughness. After TCU? Never again.

18 July 2008

Come on, media, at least try to hide your bias

By now you've probably heard that Senator Obama is in the midst of a trip across the Atlantic. He's planning on visiting Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, France and Britain.

Which is fine. I believe he should get over to Iraq and see the situation there firsthand. Same with Afghanistan. I don't quite see the purpose of holding rallies in European countries (do the French have a vote this November?), but I suppose it doesn't hurt anything.

The problem? ABC, CBS and NBC are all sending their major evening news anchors to accompany Obama during this jaunt.

Accompany. Not cover, not report on, accompany. Good gravy. Apparently Senator McCain has been on three foreign trips in the past four months, and not once have any of the major networks sent a network anchor to accompany him.

C'mon guys, I know Obama makes you all tingly inside, but can you at least pretend to be impartial? As one going into the journalism profession, you're embarrassing me.

My review of The Dark Knight

I attended the midnight showing of The Dark Knight yesterday/this morning. I think the last time I did that was probably for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which was released four years ago. So suffice it to say I was more excited about this movie than any I've seen in a while.

In short, it was very good, but not excellent.

The one excellent aspect of the movie is Heath Ledger's Joker. I know the tendency here is to say his performance was great because he's dead now and you can't speak ill of the dead blah blah blah, but if he had been horrible, I'd be here quick to say he was horrible.

Television and movie adaptations have struggled at times on how to deal with the character. Is he a fun-loving guy? Does he use quirky, jokey ways to kill people? Is he all about defacing property?

Kind of? Maybe? But the essence of the Joker is that he's diametrically opposed to the Batman. He revels in chaos and destruction. He murders at a whim. He has no real goals. He's completely unpredictable.

And Ledger pulls it off perfectly. Never has a guy sporting green hair and a purple suit been so disturbingly frightening.


Gary Oldman as Gordon is excellent as usual, but I felt like Bale's performance was a bit off. That may be because the character is going through something of an identity crisis for much of the movie. It may also be because he almost feels like an ancillary character... in all there are six or seven "main" characters in the film, and Nolan struggles to fully flesh them all out, in my opinion.

Morgan and Caine are also very good, but again not quite as sharp as they were in Batman Begins. Maybe the bar was set so high in the prequel that I expect too much.

My other complaint is that the movie could have used a little tightening. I counted three main story arcs, which is too many for a movie (I'm looking at you, Lord of the Rings trilogy movies).

But enough complaining. The acting is stellar overall (Maggie Gyllenhaal is a welcome replacement for Katie Cruise), the action is intense and well-done, and the plot is interesting and complex.

The one theme that kept returning to my mind while watching this movie is competence. I was interested in seeing how the Joker performed when it comes to being a competent bad guy, and I discovered an interesting addition to my theory.

Sometimes, the Joker was too competent, and that's almost as bad as being incompetent.

Without giving too much away, the Joker threatens to blow up a random hospital in Gothan City. He makes good on the threat, detonating what appear to be bombs set in every single room in the entire complex.

Now look, the Joker is good, but I have a hard time believing he's THAT good. He managed to sneak bombs into every single room of the hospital? It's not like the building shuts down at night... there are people in almost every room 24 hours a day.

There are a couple more instances where it was hard to suspend my disbelief, but overall it wasn't too bad.

So again, a very good movie, but not an excellent one. I give it a B+ rating.

Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section after you've seen the movie.

17 July 2008

Parody well done is beautiful

I love satire. I love parody. These writing styles are difficult to do well, but when a writer is talented and works hard at creating them, good things happen.

Along those lines, here's a blog purported to be written by a recently-married Mormon girl living in Utah. It's titled "Seriously, so blessed!" And it's pure genius.

The first thing I read on there was this:

Q: Which Prophet/Mormon/Pioneer ancestor will you name your baby after?
A: Ugh...none! Not to be rude, but what the BOAR-RING and OVERdone! We need something as unique as we are sooo I had the best idea EVER and compiled this list, we're gonna choose a syllable from each row, maybe even out of mason jars and then VOILA! Mixnmatch!

1: Ash/Jay/La/Ky/Hay
2: kay/la/l/br/d
3
: lin/ee/ly/en/
yn

totally cute + totally fun = totally adorable!


As the trend of "creatively-spelled" names for children is a major pet peeve of mine, this riled me up and made me laugh at the same time.

It's definitely worth a read. Note the writer's use of the Utah accent... "after I get home from four-willing..."

Makes me shudder.

Usually I dislike people mocking the Utah stereotype, but in this case, the quality is so high I'm laughing right along with the author.

Too few example of excellent writing out there. Part of me is glad because that means I'll have some kind of job security, but another part of me is sad to see the decline in writing skills today.

An unconventional election


I was listening to Glenn Beck yesterday on the way to work and he was discussing an interesting question.

In short, if the presidential election were today, and your choices were Senator Obama, Senator McCain or President Bush for his third term, who do you vote for?

Beck was quick to say that he's not a Bush fan, necessarily, that there are a lot of things he agrees with the president on, but a lot of things he really really dislikes about his policies, too. He also believes his audience is the least-Bush friendly of any of the conservative talk-radio audiences.

That said, he sent a poll to his newsletter subscribers asking the above question, and was very surprised at the results. Here they are:

Holy smokes.

The way Beck interpreted it, and I agree, is that McCain has a serious, serious problem. I don't think this indicates people are in love with W, it just means he's better than the choices we have coming up in November.

So good work, Republican Party, in nominating a candidate that your conservative base can't get behind. Very well done.

15 July 2008

Obama and The New Yorker


By now you've probably heard about/seen the cover for July 12 issue of The New Yorker magazine.

If not, that's it above.

Senator Obama is in the Oval Office, fist-bumping with his wife, Michelle. Obama is wearing traditional Muslim garb, while Michelle has some kind of automatic weapon slung over her back. A portrait of Osama bin Laden hangs above the fireplace, inside which an American flag is crackling amid the flames.

Now, The New Yorker is insisting that the art is satire, designed to poke fun at the people who think Senator Obama is a Muslim terrorist and whatnot.

The Obama camp, meanwhile, is predictably up in arms, crying racism and bigotry, among other things. Millions of liberals everywhere are highly offended.

I'm not quite sure where I stand.

On one hand, politicians are constantly caricatured. It comes with the territory. President Bush has been portrayed as a monkey-faced idiot in political cartoons more times than I can count. So in that sense, I think Obama should roll with the cover. Free speech and all that. If people dislike The New Yorker's decision to use the picture, they can discontinue their subscriptions to the magazine or decide to never purchase a copy.

On the other hand, there are a lot of people out there who sincerely believe Obama is a Muslim terrorist. They're idiots, but they can vote, too. And these are the people who the see cover on television for half a second as they're flipping from professional wrestling to CMT, thus reinforcing their incorrect perceptions.

In short, it's a blow to Senator Obama's camp, but not worth blowing up over. If this were Senator McCain being portrayed as a kooky old homeless man or something similar, we would barely hear about it.

Obama's been treated with kid gloves long enough. It's time to see if he can take the hits and keep on fighting.

Oil, Democrats and Iraq


Today, gas prices are high and it seems there's no end in sight. The "tipping point" of $4 a gallon (as Eric Snider says) has been reached and people are finally concerned about how this affects them financially.

And finally, finally, Congress gets off their duffs to at least acknowledge the issue.

Unfortunately, seeing as to how Congress is Democrat-controlled, here's what we gotten so far:

"It's Bush's fault!'
"It's Exxon-Mobile's fault!"
"It's the speculator's fault!"

Ever wonder why Nancy Pelosi and others are so shrill about blaming others?

It's because they're the ones at fault. Congress (and this obviously includes Republicans) for decades has blocked the building of any new domestic oil refineries.

They have blocked any domestic drilling for oil.

They have blocked the building of nuclear power plants.

They have blocked the building of wind turbines.

They have blocked the building of dams for hydroelectric power.

In essence, Congress has been sitting around hoping for the arrival of some magical new energy source (perpetual motion, maybe?) while shutting down the expansion of oil exploration and refinement in our own nation and shooting down every attempt to actually implement alternative energy technology.

And then, when we come to the day when world demand is up and other nations increase the price of the oil they sell us (Econ 101), we're stuck, and Congress is desperately looking for a scapegoat.

My fear is that we'll spend the next few months and years wasting time trying to get the blame to stick somewhere instead of actually doing something to solve the problem. Of course, these "somethings" we can be doing are earth-unfriendly (or at least that's what the eco-nuts say), so more likely than not we're not going to take any positive steps in the direction of nuclear or whatever.

So prepare for some tough times, people.

The Jazz and Booz

Salt Lake Tribune columnist Gordon Monson wrote an excellent piece about the future of the Jazz when it comes to Carlos Boozer the other day. In short, Utah has a decision to make this summer.

Boozer can opt out of his deal at the end of next season, which he likely will do, making his services available to the most attractive - read: highest - bidder, whose bidding might blast into the $130 million range. That's a difficult plate of biscuits for the Jazz to chew, given that they already will be paying Williams max money, well worth it, and Andrei Kirilenko the same, well... not worth it. Add Boozer's new market value to that mix, along with the Jazz's other projected salary obligations, then consider that their payroll already rests in the low $60 million range, with the luxury-tax threshold at $71 million and it's easy to see why the whole equation doesn't compute.

Nail on the head. It's not worth keeping Booz around, and not just for financial reasons. Yes, the man gave the Jazz 20 and 10 during the regular season last year. Honestly, I have a hard time being impressed with that. If the man doesn't choke in nearly every game of the playoffs, I think the Jazz end up getting past the Lakers.

So let some other team deal with his consistently horrendous defense and offense that doesn't work in the playoffs. He's getting max money after this next season, but please, for the love of all that is good, let some other team pay it.

But somehow I doubt the Jazz will move Carlos this offseason. Which means we'll either get nothing for him when he bolts next summer or we'll pay him max money. Perish the thought.

14 July 2008

Your Monday BYU football highlight

I've got a good one this week: BYU vs. Utah 2001. I attended this game, and it was the last football game I saw before going on a two-year proselyting mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A good note to go out on, I think.

So many great and tragic things about 2001. Gary Crowton's amazing first season as BYU's head coach, followed by three years of mediocrity, and even putridity. Brandon Doman: the best untalented quarterback ever to play at BYU. Luke Staley: the most talented, most injury-prone running back ever at BYU. Reno Mahe: gutsy little guy, playing two days after having an appendectomy. Rod Wilkerson: blazing fast and unable to catch anything thrown his way.

BYU's 12-0 start, muddled by losing their 13th game to Hawaii and then falling to Louisville in their bowl game.

And somewhere in there, BYU managed to pull off this miracle comeback against Utah at home.


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But really, outside of 1996 (Sark) and 2004 (Alex Smith), the Holy War has been decided by a touchdown or less every year since 1995.

Maybe we should just expect it.

13 July 2008

Best video on Youtube

Some of you have probably already seen this already... it's a video of a guy dancing in like 40 different countries with all kinds of people. The concept is simple, and it comes out awesome.

Apparently the first version was created a few years ago, but this latest version was released only last month.

If you've never seen it before, enjoy! And if you have seen it before, watch it again. It always brings a smile to my face.



Can I just say how stinkin' jealous I am of this guy?

12 July 2008

NBA video of the week

I figured as long as I'm posting a BYU football game of the week during the offseason, I might as well do the same for NBA fans who are waiting until late October for the new season to start.

Here's Karl Malone scoring his career-high 61 points against the Bucks on January 27, 1990. Every bucket.



Just impressive. A motivated Mailman was something to watch.

10 July 2008

Jesse Jackson and the double standard

So by now you have probably heard about the Reverend (do I really have to call him that?) Jesse Jackson's whispered comments about Senator Obama. They were caught on tape as the microphone he was wearing at the time was live, unbeknownst to him.

Essentially, Jackson said that Obama "talks down to black people" and that he "wants to cut (Obama's) (part of the male anatomy) off."

Wow.

I assume Jackson is referring to Obama's speech on Easter about how fathers in the black community need to step it up. I thought the speech was generally fine, at least until he got to the part where the federal government should pay black fathers to step it up.

But the fact that Jackson is upset about it represents the problem the black community faces. Bill Cosby tries to talk about it and is essentially blacklisted now. Obama talks about it and Jackson wants to disfigure him.

Anyway, I just wanted to illustrate the double standard here. Jackson apologized today and Obama said, "No problem."

Can you imagine if a McCain supporter had said something so crude? He'd be crucified. See: Don Imus.

But no, Jackson is black, so everything's fine. It's ridiculous.

Apparently Jackson also accused Obama of "acting white" last September. What does that even mean?

Can't we judge people on the content of their character and just be done with all this racial division stuff?

Korver recovering from surgery


I was perusing the Jazz's website the other day and discovered this bit of news:

I had no idea Korver had a bone spur. Maybe that explains his shooting 29% from the 3-point line in the playoffs and generally looking off.

I was worried that he was afflicted with the disease all Jazz shooting guards since Jeff Hornacek have acquired, you know, the one that makes it so they can't shoot worth a darn.

So here's hoping Korver comes out blistering for the 2008-2009 season. I have the feeling if he'd knocked down a few more outside shots the Jazz could have gotten past the Lakers.

NBA news


Boy was I wrong about Elton Brand. Tells the Clippers to go get Baron Davis, tells them he'll take less money, and then scampers for Philadelphia as soon as they wave a big pile of cash at him.

That's cold.

Clippers coach Mike Dunleavey got on L.A. sports radio today and essentially blamed Brand's agent, David Falk, for the quick about-face. It makes a bit of sense... agents do get paid more based on the size of their customer's salary, so it was in Falk's best interest to find as much money as possible for Brand.

Maybe that's the problem. If LeBron signs for $5 million, his agent gets a lot less than he was expecting.

Of course, the player has final say in what contracts he does or does not accept, so maybe blaming the agents is the wrong way to go.

In other news, I have discovered the perfect gift for the Laker fan in your life.

08 July 2008

Craig's body recovered

Craig's body was recovered this morning after a search-and-rescue helicopter spotted it not far from where he entered the water Saturday.

Here's the story at ksl.com.

Some clarification on what happened from someone who is apparently Craig's brother (posted in the comments section of the above article):

I am Craig's brother. I want to make sure that people realize that this has been difficult, but a bittersweet experience for all of us. We have been so comforted by the prayers and messages that so many people have left.

In order to put down speculation and make sure people are aware, Craig stepped in to the water (it was only a small sailboat so there wasn't any diving) to save equipment that was necessary to help them get the boat back safely. Once he was in treading water the strong winds carried the boat farther away from him. He struggled in the large waves for a short time before he was overtaken and went down. My parents were unable to get to him even after diving in after him. The weather and the water clarity all made it impossible to reach him in time.

We have been so blessed to have Craig in our lives. He continues on and we will miss him, but know he is still working hard to make us smile. Lets all learn from him and make the world a better place.

Please refer to craig-decker.com for more information and ways to help us both in remembering him and pass on his legacy.

I am glad that the family can have at least some measure of closure.

I recommend visiting http://craig-decker.com. His family has been collecting stories from friends of Craig about what kind of a guy he was. There is some inspiring stuff.

Biased news reporting

I flipped to KSL for a few minutes this afternoon just to see what was going on in Utah. I happened to catch a report on McCain and Obama's respective plans for helping the economy. Without going into any detail whatsoever, here's how the report went:

Here is McCain's plan. It won't work. Here's an expert saying it will actually raise taxes and create more problems. Also, McCain supports staying in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that costs BILLIONS. All this crap about his balancing the budget is bullhonky.

Here is Obama's plan. It is sensible, and will stick it to those rich people while lowering taxes on the poor and middle-class.

The end.

This drives me crazy. Why can't news people just report the news? Their desire to inject opinion into everything is intensely unprofessional, in my opinion. Now, opinion does have a place in newspapers and broadcasts, but it should be labeled as such (ie. opinion columns).

[/rant]

07 July 2008

BYU football fix


Here we are, sad and pathetic football fans, stuck in the doldrums of summer. College football season is months away, and the memories of last season's excitement are fading.

Well never fear! I'm starting a weekly tradition of posting BYU football highlights to help us fellow Cougar fans get through July and August. Most of these were created by guys at cougarboard.com, and made for BYU fanatics everywhere to enjoy.

This week we have BYU vs. Kansas State in the 1997 Cotton Bowl. I chose this clip for the first week because it features Steve Sarkisian, whom I consider to be the best quarterback ever to play at BYU. In 1996 he completed 68.8% of his passes, threw for 4,027 yards, 33 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. The Cougars went 14-1 that year, beating Texas A&M, Arkansas State and Kansas State on their way to a #5 ranking at the end of the season.

Sark's passer rating for the season was 173.6, fourth-best ever at BYU (behind McMahon in 1980, Detmer in '89 and Beck in '06). The Cougars steamrolled Utah 37-17 and beat Wyoming to take the WAC title, no small feat in the 16-team conference.

It was an excellent year in Provo, and the season that really made me into the BYU fan I am today.

The below highlights are important to see because 1.) Kansas State was a good team that year and 2.) even with all the horrible officiating, the Cougars still won. It's a good lesson for this BYU team to learn as they prepare to take on UCLA and Washington in the first few weeks of the 2008 season. Don't be afraid of anyone, and don't let poor reffing get you down.

So many memories from this game... the excellent play of Omarr Morgan and Tim McTyer, the two best corners BYU has ever seen (and they were both on the same team?). Kaipo McGuire getting rocked and having no idea where he was for the rest of the game. The TD pass from Sark to K.O. Kealaluhi to go up 19-15 with just over three minutes to go. BYU's defense, solid all around, led by linebacker Shay Muirbrook, who recorded 11 tackles and two sacks on the day.

Enjoy!


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More on Craig

I've been directed to Craig's blog. He didn't post much, but he did write the story of how he lost his hand. For those interested, the link is below.

WARNING: The link includes a graphic image of his hand post-explosion, but pre-amputation. If you're squeamish you may want to abstain.

DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK UNLESS YOU WANT TO SEE A BLOWN-UP HAND.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, I just wanted to highlight some of the better parts of his post.

1. His decision to never let himself become a victim, made just a couple hours after losing his hand. It is apparent that that moment was pivotal for the upcoming months.

2. The quote "I discovered that things are only as awkward as you make them. People were way cool about it when they realized that I was comfortable with myself." That is a realization everyone needs to make. I wish I had made this discovery sooner in my life, and still struggle with it sometimes.

3. I loved "
If life gives you a hook, become a pirate enthusiast!" Genius. Just a microcosm of his outlook on life.

I don't want to harp on this too much, but I did want to share more about what made Craig such a great individual.

Tragic news

Those who know me know I'm very cynical when it comes to the praise heaped on those who die... especially those who die young.

But in the case of Craig Decker, feared drowned in Utah Lake Saturday, I'd say the good words spoken about him are entirely warranted.

Craig was a BYU student and fellow graduate of West Jordan High School. Though he was one class behind me, I knew him through my sister and some other friends. Always an excellent young man, Craig showed his character especially after losing his right hand in a Mexican firework accident last New Year's Eve.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Craig designed his own prosthetic limb and created instructional videos on how others with the same disability can lead normal lives.

On his Youtube profile page (his screenname is Captain Danger), he listed things he had learned from the experience of losing a hand. One of his points:

There are some things in life that we simply cannot control. (If I hadn't blown off my hand, some other poor sap would have!) It's okay. As we let go of those things quickly and completely, we become free.

A very mature perspective. Here's a video where he discusses typing options for those with one hand:



The attitude of "the world cannot always adapt to me, so I choose to adapt the world when possible" is highly, highly impressive.

Which makes the tragedy that Craig is missing and presumed dead after an incident at Utah Lake on Saturday all the more impactful. According to his family, Craig dove into the lake to retrieve an oar that fell off their boat and he never resurfaced.

Searchers retrieved the oar and Craig's shoes, but there has been no other sign of him. Here is a link to a video report of the story at ksl.com.

I can hardly believe that this has happened. Some have expressed how unfair it is that his family has had to suffer so much recently. I struggle to understand the unfairness myself.

By all accounts, Craig lived to uplift and encourage others. For someone like this to die so young is truly tragic. Some faculty at West Jordan High are trying to establish a Craig Decker Memorial Scholarship Fund to honor him. I can't agree with the sentiment more.

For example, his Youtube avatar is Mega Man, a video game hero with one normal hand and a laser gun at the end of his other arm. That shows a good sense of humor and class in the face of extreme hardship.

One thing Craig made clear on his Youtube profile is his reliance and love for Jesus Christ and his relationship with God. I firmly believe that Craig is in a good place, free from his handicap and enjoying the rewards of a life well-lived.

I pray for the Decker family during this trying time, and hope that they can find comfort and understanding through God's spirit.

This was an individual who comes as close to sainthood as any 25-year old I've ever known.

The world has lost one of its great individuals, but maybe if we can learn from Craig's example his death won't be in vain.

Here is a Facebook group that tracks the latest news on the search for Craig; it was created by a good friend of his.

02 July 2008

A dark day for the NBA


ESPN is reporting that the city of Seattle and the owner of the SuperSonics, Clay Bennett, have reached a settlement in regards to the conflict over Bennett wanting to move the team to Oklahoma City.

In short, Seattle lost their franchise.

The team will move to Oklahoma, but the city gets to keep the SuperSonics name and team colors. Yipee.

Sure, Bennett has to part with $45 million now and potentially $30 million more if the city doesn't get a replacement team by 2013, but somehowI doubt that helps Sonic fans feel any better.

This sets a bad precedent in the NBA. Essentially, any owner can come to the city, insist on a new arena, to be fully funded by taxpayers, and if that doesn't happen, he can bail on the city and move the team somewhere else.

Not good.

Bill Simmons posted a column back in February where he listed a ton of e-mails he'd received from Sonics fans who were distraught about the situation. I thought I had mentioned it in a previous post here, but a quick search indicates I hadn't. Anyway, I highly suggest you read at least a few of the e-mails. They're powerful reminders that this move affects individuals and not just a city.

And finally, ESPN has yet to post this news on the front page of their website. Forgive me for being an NBA homer, but I believe this story is far more important than the fact that Brett Favre is rumored to maybe be thinking about possibly un-retiring.

Are they trying to avoid casting too long a shadow over the NBA? Is David Stern at work here? I anticipate Stern will make an announcement about using a new kind of jersey or something to take attention away from this.

01 July 2008

Baron to the Clippers


ESPN is reporting that the Clippers have reached an agreement with Baron Davis on a 5-year, $65 million contract.

Reportedly, he took less money than he could get from Golden State. More reports say Elton Brand will resign with the Clippers for less money than he could have gotten if he'd resigned with them right away.

All part of an apparent plan to take less money in order to allow the team to assemble more talent and therefore win more games.

A simple concept, but one that escapes too many professional athletes, in my opinion.

Look, if I were a LeBron James, and I'd already made tens of millions of dollars, and stood to make another $30 million over the next two seasons, I think I may decide winning a few titles is more important than getting even more money.

Heck, I may even consider playing for a mere $5 million a year. I know that would make it hard to feed my family, but I'd be willing to make that sacrifice if it meant the Cavs could bring in a Chris Paul or Amare Stoudamire or something. Shoot, they might even be able to get Paul and Amare and Bosh, for example.

But instead, players go after the biggest amount of money they can get, never mind if their salary means the team can only afford to bring in low-quality supporting players.

Maybe Baron and Elton's examples can influence everyone else in the league to get their acts together.

Mmm... 2008 football...

As of today it is officially 60 days and counting to BYU's season-opener against Northern Iowa.

Beautiful.

In commemoration, here is a "teaser trailer" for the upcoming season, done by Art Director, a poster at cougarboard.com.




Oh, the good times will roll.

Obama campaign techniques

Obama supporters in California are being asked to share their "conversion stories" as they campaign rather than discuss, you know, policy and boring stuff like that.

In a Sacramento Bee story from last January, Kim Mack tells hers.

"He looked at me, and the look in his eyes was worth 1,000 words," said Mack, now a regional field organizer. Obama hugged her and whispered something in her ear – she was so thrilled she doesn't remember what it was.


Ay carumba. You know, I've always realized politicians get elected for things like how presidential they look, but it seems like Obama is the epitome of this phenomenon.

Please, Obama supporters, prove me wrong. Tell me what policies of his you agree with. Tell me what he will do to "change" things.