June 9, 2009

Fun game so far – Magic by 4 – make that 3 with Lewis’ toe on the line –  with 1:06 to play at the time of writing.

Both teams just hitting shots, making passes, and filling up the basket in every way imaginable.

Coming off a conversation with my esteemed coblogger the other night – is there such a thing as an ideal basketball player?  For instance, for the frisbee players out there, if I could clone 7 copies of ca. 2003 Mike Grant (top player on Furious George), I would put that team up against any other team you put together.  Grant was about 6’2″, lightning-quick, massive ups, with excellent throws, and hucks, from both the forehand and backhand side.  He was as close as you can come, as far as I’m concerned, to the ideal Ultimate player.  Sure, he would probably get roasted by your occasional squirrely handler type, but I maintain that his speed and length would cause enough turns, and there’s no way you could shut down the “Mike Grant-swings-to-Mike Grant-hucks-to-Mike Grant deep” game.  I maintain that team would be unbeatable.

It’s harder to know if you could do the same thing in basketball.  Who brings the ball up court on a team of 2001 Shaqs?  Would a Shaq just run rampant through a team of Kobes or LeBrons?

Watching the series, I might just put up a team of 5 “Good Lamar Odoms” against any other team you could put together.  That dude is amazing.  I don’t know if it’s the fact that he’s fueled by Twizzlers or what, but that guy is some wacky combo of creepy length, quick hands, 3-point range, and smart post play.  I think 5 of him would be very tough to stop.  Sure, Odom can’t stop classic Shaq 1-on-1, but the double is effective, and if you have a team of lanky Odoms to close out on the 3-point shooters, that’s pretty hard to beat!

It’s a shame he doesn’t seem able to do it on a nightly basis, but he definitely seems to have the physical skillset to be one of the top NBA talents…

Best News I’ve Seen All Week

June 9, 2009

Via Occasional Reader M.D., news that it’s time to back away…from…the Nalgene and just go drink a damn beer.

Science now says that beer, yes beer, is more effective for rehydrating the body than plain ol’ water. I think I’m not alone when I say that this qualifies as news on par with peace in the Middle East.

Researchers at Granada University in Spain found this Nobel Prize-worthy discovery…

World’s Worst Job

June 9, 2009

Via friend D.C., Massage Therapist For The Supermodels:

God Bless My Underpants

June 2, 2009

I guess this falls under the old ‘any publicity is good publicity’ rubric, right?

My beloved sport of Ultimate once again hits the pages of ESPN, this time on Page 2, in a story by Mary Buckheit about how the Oregon Ducks, ranked #3 at the time, were suspended by their school, with the support of the UPA, for playing a naked point against the Oregon B team at a tournament.

The last straw for UO administrators was the incident at Oregon State. The Ducks’ A and B teams were scheduled to play each other at the end of a drizzly afternoon, but opted to play a quick “naked point” in lieu of a whole game. Five players took off their shirts. Five others removed their shorts and underwear. A passerby filed a complaint to the safety department, and a letter detailing the incident ultimately landed in the student affairs office in Eugene. Before long, the committee which oversees Oregon club sports decided to pull the plug on the team’s season, and the Ultimate Players Association, the sport’s governing body, agreed with the decision.

Since I’m very out of the Ultimate loop, I hadn’t heard this story, but it sounds very, well, Oregon-like.  One of the Oregon players once deliberately pissed on the foot of the UPA’s Executive Director.  I wish I were kidding about this, but I’m not.  Oregon has been, for as long as I can remember them being on the national scene, one of those teams who feels it is their right, if not their responsibility, to make misbehavior at tournaments a defining feature of their team.

So, good on the Oregon administration, and good on the UPA, for trying to set this team along a vaguely more constructive path.  I doubt it’ll have much effect – but it can’t hurt to try.


June 2, 2009

Via Yglesias, these two maps from Andrew Gelman at Columbia blew my mind.  They show election results from the Bush-Kerry race in ’04, restricted to, first, only poor votes, and then second, only the rich.

That’s crazy!  The richest states (MA, NJ, and CT are the top 3, by average income; CA, MD, and NY are top 10) are the ones where the rich still vote blue.  Likewise, among the poorest states, (TX, ID, NE, UT, etc. are all in the bottom third of state average income) are the places where even the poor still bleed red.  All very weird.  Understandable, in a ‘rich places are full of latte-sipping America-hating elites, while poor places are full of dumb redneck racist hillbillies’ kind of stereotypical way, but that’s not quite a fully satisfying explanation for me…

On The Inevitability Of Stupidity

June 2, 2009

I try really hard to take Megan McArdle seriously.  I do.  For one thing, I’m pretty sure she could take me in a fight, and that scares the crap out of me.  Also, she knows people who could buy and sell me and everything I own 27 times before getting out of bed in the morning.

But it’s really hard when she writes paragraphs like this:

Now I can move onto the observation that if you actually think late-term abortion is murder, then the murder of Dr. Tiller makes total sense.  Putting up touching anecdotes about people he’s helped find adoptions, etc, doesn’t change the fact that if you think late-term abortions are murder, the man was systematically butchering hundreds of human beings a year–indeed, not merely butchering them, but vivisecting them without anaesthetic.   I’m sure many mass murderers have done any number of kind things over the course of their lives, to which the correct response, if you’re trying to stop the murders, is “so?” 


We accept that when the law is powerless, people are entitled to kill in order to prevent other murders–had Tiller whipped out a gun at an elementary school, we would now be applauding his murderer’s actions.  In this case, the law was powerless because the law supported late-term abortions. 

Okay, look.  In no way, shape, or form do I accept the proposition that “when the law is powerless, people are entitled to kill in order to prevent other murders.”  That’s an absolutely insane legal paradigm to subscribe to.  So if I really, in my heart, believe in my “Meat is Murder” bumper sticker, I am entitled to go on a manhunting spree during hunting season here in Colorado?  Or to stalk, harrass, or murder the girlfriends of teenagers who work at McDonalds, because I find their attitude towards animal cruelty to be beyond excuse?  That is, not to put too fine a point on it, the stupidest thing I will read or hear today, and I am still scheduled to spend 5 hours in a room full of children, aged 6 to 13.

In McMegan’s example, the law is powerless to prevent the spree killing at an elementary school because there doesn’t happen to be an officer of the law present.  But it’s still illegal to kill elementary school children.  If there were a hostage situation at the school, and the cops had the place surrounded and the situation fairly under control, until some wild-eyed wacko ran through the barracades and started shooting up the place, we would not laud that person at all – instead, they would be castigated and prosecuted, if not actually shot dead by the police.

In this case, the law was absolutely empowered to stop Tiller from performing his procedures.  He did not operate in a back alley, under cover of darkness.  He performed what he saw as his duties plainly and openly, without shame, for all the world to see.  Law officers could have entered his clinic at any time, or knocked on his door and arrested him.  Only, the law did not stop him, because the law happened to say that what he did was not illegal!

Again, I’m not going to get deeply involved in the question of whether or not abortion rights should be restricted, whether it should be a federal or a state governmental question, or whether it’s morally right or wrong, and up to what point.  I will simply note that it is absolutely ridiculous to say that it can be a defensible paradigm to say anything along the lines of “I think what you’re doing constitutes murder, so even though what you are doing is open and publically known, I am going to kill you.”  Such a thought process, if adopted by everyone, would lead to a complete societal breakdown.  Thus, it cannot be defended in a country which aims for civilization.

Enough abortion stuff from me; no more, I promise.

On The Legality

June 1, 2009

There has been some renewed discussion across the blogosphere today about whether or not Dr. George Tiller’s murder should be used as a justification to renew defense of procedures like dilation & extraction.

I’m not going to get involved in a long and involved discussion of the legalities.  There are people much better suited and much more interested in making the relevant cases, and I encourage you to read up on them.

Instead, I have an entirely personal reason for my preference.

Being an Ashkenazi Jew, one of the most well-studied inbred groups known to mankind, I am subject to all manner of unusual genetic conditions, both positive and negative.  In my case, the most notable is that I am a carrier for Tay-Sachs disease, one of those lovely genetic inheritances of my background.  In my case, I was a 50-50 chance to be a carrier, because my father is as well.  My mother is not.

Tay-Sachs is a straight 2-allele recessive genetic condition right out of high school biology.  One genetic locus per chromosome, two possible alleles.  If you have no copies of the flawed gene, you’re fine.  If you have one copy of the flawed gene, you’re fine, but you have a 50% chance of passing that copy on to any children.  If you have two copies…well, let’s head to Wikipedia:

Infantile TSD. Infants with Tay-Sachs disease appear to develop normally for the first six months of life. Then, as nerve cells become distended with gangliosides, a relentless deterioration of mental and physical abilities occurs. The child becomes blind, deaf, and unable to swallow. Muscles begin to atrophy and paralysis sets in. Death usually occurs before the age of 4.

Pretty gruesome stuff.  Most commonly, in order to prevent the sort of short, nasty, misery-causing life that any child who has Tay-Sachs is guaranteed, if both parents are carriers of the disease, amniocentesis is performed as soon as it is safe, and any child who has two copies of the Tay-Sachs gene is aborted.

Imagine if I were to find out, seven months after a some illicit tryst, that evening had had further consequences than a headache and vague feeling of shame the next morning.  And imagine, further, that after finding out that I was the father, and knowing of my possible genetic inheritance, we decide to test for Tay-Sachs, and we discover, to our dismay, that the mother was also a carrier, and the fetus is doomed to a short, unhappy life such as the one discussed above.  

You are stuck between the rock of aborting a fetus that, if it were delivered today, would almost certainly be able to survive the birth process and begin its life, and the hard place of dooming that same child to the ‘relentless deterioration of mental and physical abilities’ which will, without a doubt, end in a horrible death.  Isn’t that tragic decision difficult enough without some self-righteous Christian extremist shouting horrible things at me and the mother of my child while we try and seek consultation in our time of difficulty?

That reason alone is enough, to me, to justify keeping this procedure safe, legal, and without significant restrictions apart from those placed on the doctor and mother by themselves and their consciences.  I’m sure there are other, probably better reasons to be in support, but that’s enough for me.