30 March 2009

NBA quiz!

Without cheating, tell me which numbers belong to who over the last month of the season:

A - 33.1 pgg, 50.5 FG%, 35.9 3-point%, 5.4 rpg, 8.2 apg, 2.8 spg, 1.1 bpg

B - 28.4 ppg, 47.9 FG%, 37.9 3-point%, 8.8 rpg, 8.8 apg, 1.7 spg, 1.3 bpg

C - 25.5 ppg, 43.5 FG%, 33.3 3-point%, 4.9 rpg, 4.8 apg, 2.1 spg, 0.7 bpg

Answers: A - Wade, B - LeBron, C - Kobe.

Now look, some people will use these stats to argue about the MVP race, but not me.

Why not? Because the MVP award is essentially meaningless without concrete criteria. Why can't the NBA sit down and outline exactly what the league MVP should be? Is it the best player on the best team? Is it the player putting up the best statistical season? Is it the best player that hasn't won one yet? No one agrees, and the resulting discussions annoy me to no end.

That said, the last couple weeks of the regular season are going to be pretty darn good. As Jazz fans know, Utah's remaining games are brutal. At Portland, at Denver, at New Orleans, at San Antonio, at Dallas, at the Lakers.

Ugh. But my take on this is that if the Jazz can't get it done over these next nine games, I don't care if they even make the playoffs. A good Utah team will win at least six of these games. A bad one will not, and I don't want to root for a bad Utah team in the playoffs.

26 March 2009

Op-Ed from a Malagasy via the NY Times

My friend Matt sent me a link to this Op-Ed in today's New York Times.

It's an eloquent and interesting look at how things are in Madagascar right now.

Apparnently Marc resurfaced in Swaziland a couple days ago, and rallies are being held to support him in Tana, competing with those supporting Andry.

I've always thought the Malagasy people are too inherently peaceful to ever seriously fall into a civil war, but who knows? We could be seeing the beginning of one here.

It's weird reading the Times piece... every other foreign crisis has an abstract quality to it... I can't really fathom what's going on, and therefore I don't really care about it.

But with Mada... I've been in the neighborhoods the author mentions. I've climbed those stairs in downtown Tana. I know many of the people affected by this.

It's sobering.

20 March 2009

African Union, France, U.S. not happy with Mada

"The council is of the opinion that what occurred in Madagascar enters the definition of unconstitutional change of government," said Burkina Faso's Ambassador Bruno Nongoma Zidouemba, Chairman of the AU's Peace and Security Council (PSC).

"The council then decided to suspend the participation of Madagascar to the bodies and organs of the AU."


The United States is moving to suspend all non-humanitarian aid to Madagascar because it considers this week's forced departure of its president "tantamount to a coup d'etat," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Friday.


Bottom line, Mada probably won't host the African Union summit scheduled to take place in Antananarivo this July, the U.S. will stop funding business and governmental projects in the country.

This won't do anything to stop the transfer of power from happening.

It'll be interesting to see what direction Andry takes the country in. Will he continue on the road Marc was on (capitalism with sprinklings of socialism) or will be follow in Ratsiraka's footsteps of establishing close ties to North Korea?

March Madness meets WWE

So BYU played its part of "one and done" quite admirably this year. Went down big early, never quite in the game. Well done, boys.

Luckily, there is still plenty of ball to be played. I'll be posting the more interesting clips from the tourney, one a day until the championship.

Here's the one for Thursday:

I'm impressed that Blake walks away from that. Many other players would have gotten into a tussle, or at the very least, yelled at the guy for a bit.

19 March 2009

Is this unreasonable?

Is it too much to ask that elected officials not be allowed to participate in any way with legislation that involves one of their campaign donors?

OpenSecrets.org reports that over the last decade, AIG has contributed over $9 million to federal candidates and parties (on both sides of the aisle).

Now, if a senator received a few thousand from AIG over the last couple campaigns for the Senate, isn't he or she likely to want to help them out in return? The senator gets a couple grand, AIG gets a few million, everyone's happy, right?

Oh yeah, except that the money AIG gets is really mine. And yours. Doesn't cost the senator a dime. He's just repaying bribes using the money of the American taxpayer, the slimeball.

To to sum up, anyone who received money from AIG in the past should not be allowed to sponsor legislation or vote on any bill that involves tax dollars going to AIG. This principle should apply to every organization and individual who donates money.

It's not that hard, right?

17 March 2009

Well, that didn't take long

The BBC reports that President Ravalomanana has stepped down and is "handing power to the military." However, as reported yesterday, Mayor Andry has the support of said military, so he's essentially won this thing.

To weigh in on the issue, here is a thought from the author of the wildly popular LaPaube blog.

This wheel will turn again and we'll read about Rajoelina being forced out by angry populists in about 2013.

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven.

16 March 2009

Mada updates

Thank goodness for the BBC. They seem to be the only news organization that actually reports on international news outside of the Middle East.

First, this article from yesterday:

Andry Rajoelina, who emerged from hiding to address a mass rally in the capital, said the president should resign "humbly" within hours.

His followers have begun forming their own government.

But after the opposition's deadline passed, Mr Ravalomanana was still refusing to stand down.

"I am still president," he said after emerging from the presidential palace outside the capital, Antananarivo, to address hundreds of supporters.

An aide to Mr Rajoelina, who did not wish to be named, said after the deadline had passed that the opposition was still waiting for the president to quit.

And now this, from just a couple hours ago:

Explosions and gunfire erupted as tanks smashed the palace gates. The central bank was also reportedly taken.

Mr Ravalomanana was in another residence on the outskirts of the city.

Earlier opposition leader Andry Rajoelina called for the arrest of the president and won public backing from the armed forces' self-declared head.

The African Union has condemned the "attempted coup d'etat" and called on Madagascar to respect its constitution.

The Malagasy people seem to have a talent for dragging out political conflicts. Seeing this twice in seven years seems to be a bit out of the ordinary.

And as Andry has apparently managed to gain control of the military, I do not see this ending well for Marc. The AU and UN may decry the actions as illegal, but they won't send troops in to enforce their view of what is moral here.

09 March 2009

Deron vs. Paul, part "Are we still talking about this?"

Amazing what an 11-game win streak and a healthy ankle can do for a guy. After the "Deron vs. Paul" debate seemed to have been decided around December of this year (as Deron was out and dealing with his entire team being injured and Paul was putting up ridiculous stats and winning more), it looks like it's back on. From a column by Foxsports.com's Charley Rosen:

In one of your earlier columns this season you rated Deron Williams higher than Chris Paul. In the long run, which of the two do you think has the potential to have the better career? — Albert Tolents, Pampanga, Philippines

Williams, and here's why:

-He's much stronger than CP3 and should therefore be more resistant to serious injuries.

-Because of his size and strength, Williams can post up smaller opponents (like Paul), and can avoid being posted himself (unlike Paul).

-It should be expected that an injury or Father Time will eventually diminish Paul's amazing speed and quickness — and when speed guards lose a step, their effectiveness is greatly reduced.Williams is much more versatile, so much so that it's not inconceivable he could make a successful switch to the shooting-guard spot as he ages.

-Williams is a much, much better jump-shooter than CP3.

-Whereas Paul does most of his half-court scoring in conjunction with high screen/rolls, Williams benefits from weak-side screens, staggered screens, and isolations.

-Williams goes left better than Paul.In half-court situations, Williams' power makes him a better finisher.

-Paul is a sniper-type defender, while Williams' defense is more fundamental and less chancy.

-None of this is meant to suggest that Paul is anything less than the most dangerous speed guard in the league. He's also an incredible passer, and he plays in a system that maximizes his considerable skills.

-But, I'll bet your mortgage that Williams will have a better all-around career than Paul.

Well, that's interesting. I think what we need here is a New Orleans vs. Utah playoff matchup. We could get one in the first round this year, and if the Jazz come out on top (as I believe they would), look for the debate to flare up even more all over the place.

On a related note, this new-and-improved-through-getting-healthy Jazz team is getting a lot of respect. Ball Don't Lie said this today:
I'm not going to be able to tell you anything about the Jazz that you don't already know. At full strength, and I don't even think this team is there yet (despite the 11 consecutive -- !!! -- wins), this squad is good enough to win a championship. To down the Lakers, and overcome whatever the East spits out. I mean that.

I don't trust this Utah team quite thaaat much, but boy howdy it's nice to see these guys start playing well. Should be a fun rest of the 2008-2009 season.

06 March 2009

05 March 2009

Jazz win again and Western Conference madness

Huh, the Jazz finally get healthy and are now on a nine-game winning streak and have won 13 of their last 15. That makes them the hottest team in the league right now, tied with Cleveland for the most wins in their last 10 games.

After beating the Rockets last night, 101-94, they are only one game behind Denver in the division. But that said, they are only seventh in the Western Conference.

Now, normally that's a cause to worry. But this year, much like last year, is crazy tight in the playoff race.

ONE GAME separates the 3-spot from the 7-spot. And only 2 1\2 games separate Utah from the Spurs in second place. It's insane. The Jazz play the Nuggets tomorrow night in Denver, a big game.

But really, they're all going to be big games from now until the end of the season. Teams can't afford to drop one or two against lesser opponents if they want to get into the playoffs. No one, with the exception of LA, will be resting their starters those last few games of the regular season.

Should make for some good basketball.

Let's go Jazz!