Feb 28, 2014

Praise the Lard

Finally, A Church I might, maybe, think about maybe joining? Visiting, perhaps? Well, I like it enough to share it with Blasphemes anyway.
Let me ask, if the church of bacon joined with the pastafarians, would the new church be called The Church of Pasta Carbonara?

At least The Sacrament would be worth waiting in line for, and, actually, might make more sense. If the pastor was passing out small pieces of bacon, you'd literally be consuming your deity. And it would be good for those folks watching their carb intake.

No doubt some reformer would insist on bacon bits, or imitation bacon... and that would ruin it for everyone.

Anyhow - here's a screen shot of their website.

Feb 27, 2014

Hey, Vatican, you're worshiping the wrong Jesus

After watching the Secrets of the Vatican, Cap'n thinks the Pope and the Curia
worshiping the wrong Jesus. 
Eight-year-olds, Dude.
Dan Brown? George R.R. Martin? They have nothing on what just aired on Frontline, one of the Best journalistic documentary programs being produced today (in my humble opinion).

When someone asks me "hey, how come your kids aren't in CCD...", I would get into a long reasoned list of complaints and concerns about indoctrination and lies based on fear perpetrated for 2000 years among the faithful. Now I can say with pride, "because Catholicism is a giant ring of hypocritical pedophiles, running a money laundering scheme for the mafia, that's conniving and intimidating - all while wearing ridiculously funny hats."

When you watch the show - and please, let me encourage you to watch this - see how angry you get when the woman recounts how she was raped when she was 8 years old. 8 years old, Dude.

It tapers off as a synopsis of the problems facing Pope Francis. It touched on the problems of corruption and careerism within the Curia itself.

It left me wondering if Pope Francis even wants to tackle these issues, and is instead pulling a Ronald Reagan slight of hand by talking up poverty and the corruption of capitalism. Which is ironic that he hasn't beaten the money changers from the temple.... yet?

Feb 25, 2014

Jumpin' Jim II

sports by killre

There is an aspect of Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim doing his best Krakatoa impression Saturday night that I merely flirted with in "Jumpin' Jim," a previous post which can be found not too far down the page.  (I can no longer reference Vesuvius, because ESPN's Rece Davis thought it good enough to steal.  Besides, Krakatoa is a better name for a volcano anyway.)  The reason I didn't wholeheartedly address it --despite it being on my mind-- is that nearly all my evidence was anecdotal, and I could not in good conscience even claim it comprehensively so.

Now, however, having watched Monday night's contest between Syracuse and Maryland, I am armed with a handful of pointed quotes and statistics that would seem --on the surface, at least-- to support a suspicion I've been nursing for a couple of months.  That suspicion is this: the Atlantic Coast Conference is hazing its pledges.

Some background is in order.  Eight months ago, the Atlantic Coast Conference --henceforth to be denoted by the abbreviation ACC-- absorbed three schools from a fracturing league known as the Big East Conference, swelling the ACC's roster from twelve to fifteen.  The three newcomers were Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse.

Having grown up a proverbial stone's throw from the Notre Dame campus, I have long been a fan of their basketball team.  Over the years, I had also become quite a fan of the Big East.  If ESPN (or one of the broadcast networks) was carrying a league game, chances are I was watching it even if I didn't particularly like either team.  When that league disintegrated and Notre Dame shifted to the somewhat country-fried ACC... Well, it's been a tough transition for me.

Apparently, I'm not the only one.  During the post-game press conference in the wake of his eruption Saturday night, Boeheim commented, among other things, on league scheduling.  Specifically, he addressed the fact that his team --which had already played two games in four days, one of them on the road-- was due to play another road game just two nights later, against a Maryland team whose last contest was a home game six days prior.

Boeheim: "We know how tough these next few games are.  Maryland's off today, uh, which is (pause) quite strange.  Uh, I guess they do those things down here.  I don't know.  We didn't, we didn't used to do that in the other league.  I shouldn't mention that, probably.  Right, Buck?  I shouldn't mention that?  That, that we wouldn't do that?  We wouldn't do that.  Yeah, I won't mention that.  Oh, I did!  Geez.  (chuckle)  Can't help myself."

Despite an effort at research, I don't know who "Buck" is.  I'm betting it's an ACC official who was monitoring Boeheim's interview for just such a statement.

ESPN reporter Jeannine Edwards gave us the ACC's response during Monday night's game: "...I spoke to the ACC officials today, who told me the two-day turnaround, with the opponent --the other team-- having a bye, is not as uncommon as you would think.  They cited six teams... (she named five) ...that have all been in the same position within the last three years.  They said there's a lot of teams to manage, and a lot of TV networks as well.  It's a lot to coordinate."

It's a lot of redundancy, too, but we get the point: the ACC's excuse for poor scheduling is a whiney, "Darn it, guys, it's really hard."

ESPN play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough [mick-DUN-uh] confirmed Boeheim's assertion that the Big East Conference --which until this year had a contract with ESPN to provide a regular Monday night match-up-- never failed to schedule two teams who had a relatively equal amount of rest.  I think it worth noting at this point that, for the three years cited, the Big East had sixteen member schools while the ACC had only twelve.  How much more complicated the ACC's television contracts were is something I don't know, but I'm reasonable enough to concede it might be true.

Boeheim's comments weren't the only ones Edwards addressed.  In the immediate aftermath of Saturday night's loss at Duke, C.J. Fair --arguably Syracuse's best player and the man whose charging foul was the catalyst for Boeheim's eruption-- stated that his coach's two technical fouls were what ultimately cost his team the game.  Either hoping or merely wondering whether the player would double down on the statement, Edwards approached Fair before Monday night's game.

Edwards: "...C.J. Fair told me, 'We feel as a team that our coach was simply sticking up for us, and he was venting some built-up frustration.'"

Oh?  Built-up frustration, you say?

Something else I feel worth noting: the three former Big East teams have definitely made their presence felt in the ACC.  Until last week, Syracuse was unbeaten.  Pittsburgh got off to a strong start and is still in the upper half of the league standings.  Even lowly Notre Dame, a team that has fallen on its face this season, began its ACC slate with a thunderbolt victory over mighty Duke.

So pray tell, could this previously pent frustration you mention stem from the perception that those good ol' boys down Carolina way are so disillusioned with these carpetbagging, former Big East teams demonstrating with direct, on-court evidence what many people already strongly suspected --that the Big East was a better basketball league than the holier-than-thou ACC-- that they started officiating the games with a bias against these northern interlopers?  Sort of like a creationist cop who only tickets drivers that espouse evolution.  Could that be why two virtually identical blocking/charging fouls at opposite ends of the court Saturday night both went against Syracuse?  The reason I ask is I've been thinking the same thing for five weeks.

Of course, it could just be that Boeheim is instilling his players with the motivational conviction that the league office is out to get them.  It could be that.

During Monday night's game, the referees gave Maryland --a long-time member of the ACC-- twenty-seven free-throws.  Syracuse was awarded six-- and Maryland wanted them to shoot the last two!  They wanted it so badly they fouled Syracuse twice in the space of 0.4 seconds.  That isn't a typo: zero-point-four seconds.

The imbalance kept Maryland in the game despite twice as many turnovers and a lower shooting percentage.  It also led to Fair playing the last four-and-a-half minutes of the game with the danger of being disqualified if he so much as looked at an opponent cross-eyed.

ESPN analyst Jay Bilas [BILL-us] (who, by the way, found an opportunity to send a verbal love letter to his Duke sweetie, Jabari Parker) stated the imbalance was due to contrasting styles of play on the offensive end of the court.  In other words, Maryland had earned 23 more free-throws (excluding the last two) by attacking the basket more often.

McDonough avoided asking if Syracuse's reluctance to drive the lane was born of a fear that they'd be called for charging.  Instead he said (paraphrasing), "I only mention it for the conspiracy theorists."

And we thank you.

Bilas responded (again paraphrasing), "Oliver Stone would be hard-pressed to find a conspiracy here."

27-4, Jay, not counting the last two.  27-4.

P.S.... Bud "I'm Not A Huge Fan Of Basketball, But That Didn't Stop Me From Instituting A Blocking/Charging Foul On Plays At The Plate" Selig must go.

P.P.S... Bud "That Scheduling Thing Sounds Almost As Crazy As A Baseball Game In, Like, Australia Or Something" Selig must go.

Feb 24, 2014

Oligarchy Mainstay Fossil to Retire

First question - why is this news. An 87 year old man, clutching to 'his chair', not the People's seat mind you, decides to retire. This is breaking news, for some reason.
From the New York Times "Breaking News" report: Representative John D. Dingell Jr., Democrat of Michigan, the longest serving member of Congress in history, on Monday was expected to announce that he will not seek re-election in 2014, and will leave Congress in 2015.
Mr. Dingell, 87, has served in the House for more than 58 years, under 11 presidents.
He made his first appearance on the House floor at the age of 6, when his father was elected in 1933; he went on to become a Congressional page; and after his father died in 1955 he successfully ran for his seat at the age of 29.
Mr. Dingell, a former Democratic powerhouse, asserted jurisdiction over vast expanses of federal policy as the intimidating chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. In 2008 his fellow Democrats ousted him from the committee chairmanship, where he had reigned as the top Democrat for nearly 30 years.
His wife of more than three decades, Deborah, is a power in her own right in Washington as an auto industry executive and a close adviser to her husband. She recently considered, but ultimately decided against, a Senate bid.
There is speculation that his wife still might run for her husband’s seat.
If I lived in Dingell's district - which I don't, anymore - I'd be outraged that my representative hasn't been in touch with what's going on in my district for over 58 years. Or, at least, what it meant to not live in DC. Maybe he came back every weekend. But he hadn't worked or lived or had been part of the community that he represented in all that time. I wonder, how well could he have known what his constituents really wanted or reflected.
Since 1955. Let's get some perspective. He will have been a representative for more than a quarter of the time that the United States has existed. Since this is Blasphemes, let me put it in OUR perspective - 1955 is when Marty McFly went back in time... so this guy's career spans the entire Back to the Future time-space trilogy.
No. I'm not for term limits. I'm for the voters doing that. If you are apathetic about politics, or just care that 'your guy brings home the bacon' you will continue to have The House of Lords instead of the House of Representatives. This guy retired before death could knock him out of "His" chair. The people should have done that for him. Long ago.

Jumpin' Jim

sports by killer

Ultimately, what we want is consistency.  Right?

No matter how they --the umpires, referees, judges, or whatever other title has been hung on the magistrates of an athletic competition-- are calling a given sporting contest, we the fans want to see all sides treated equally.  Oh sure, in the intense heat of a moment we may rejoice over an unjust ruling that favors our team or our guy, but once that boiling fervor has settled into its usual simmer (and assuming our interest in the game is truly heartfelt rather than coldly monetary), the reasonable among us quickly realize that a victory unfairly won is a cheapened one.

It's a point I have made before.  What prompts me to do so this time is what I see as a glaring omission in the analysis of the big brouhaha that happened in the closing seconds of Saturday night's basketball game between Duke University and Syracuse University.  If you, dear reader, are a sports fan, you are probably at least passingly familiar with the incident already.  Even if you're not, you may have already seen clips on YouTube or something.  Still, form demands that I take a moment to describe what happened...

With little more than ten seconds remaining in regulation time and his team trailing 60-58 at Duke, Syracuse's C.J. Fair got the ball along the baseline and drove toward the basket.  Duke's Rodney Hood moved to counter the attack, arriving in the nick of time to plant his feet and stand tall in the face of Fair's bull rush.  In response, Fair went airborne, lofting the ball one-handed toward the basket while his body collided with Hood's.  Both players fell to the hardwood in a tangle of long limbs and sleek torsos.  The ball went into the basket.

Atlantic Coast Conference referee Tony Greene immediately blew his whistle to stop play and call a foul.  That was no surprise: a collision such as this warranted that somebody be assessed with an infraction.  In little more than a heartbeat, Greene had to decide who was at fault.  If his judgment was that the offensive player, Fair, had crashed into a defender who had established position, the call would be charging.  The basket would not count, and given those specific circumstances the defender would be awarded free-throws-- an opportunity for Duke to widen their two-point lead.  If, on the other hand, Greene felt that the defensive player, Hood, had failed to establish his position before impeding his opponent's drive, the call would be blocking.  In that case the basket would count, tying the game, and Fair would be awarded one free-throw-- an opportunity for Syracuse to take a one-point lead.  All of this with about ten-and-a-half seconds left in the game, so the decision was an important one.

Greene's call: charging.

Syracuse's coach, the 69 year-old James Arthur "Jim" Boeheim [BAY-hime], erupted like Vesuvius.  He jumped up and down violently, tore at his suit-coat, helicoptered his arms, ran out to the middle of the court, stuck his index finger in Greene's face and let loose a loud torrent of heated words that were both repetitive and expletive-laden.  A bit of amateur lip-reading on my part has me thinking his favorite is the one relating to the semi-solid excrement of male bovines.

Greene listened to about two-and-a-half seconds of Boeheim's tirade before giving him a technical foul.  Boeheim didn't let up.  He followed Greene to the scoring table, continuing to let him have it with both proverbial barrels.  Greene responded by assessing the coach with a second technical foul and ejecting him from the game.  Two police officers escorted Boeheim to the locker room.  In 38 years of coaching at Syracuse, it was just the second time he had been ejected.

Duke was awarded four free-throws.  They won the game 66-60.

There was of course much yammering, both vocal and written, in the wake of the incident.  Boeheim was described as being much more calm at the post-game press conference, but decidedly not contrite.  He was quoted as saying the charging call was the "worst call of the year."  Paradoxically, he also said the game was "tremendously well-officiated."  How serious he was about either statement is a matter of debate.  Boeheim did say his reaction to the charging call was caused not only by his belief it was the wrong call, but also that the call was going to cost his team the game.  Almost universally, commenters opined that it wasn't the charging call that cost Syracuse the game; it was Boeheim's double technical.

Personally, I thought charging was the right call.  I wasn't too surprised by Boeheim's reaction, though, because of an incident that happened earlier in the game-- an incident that to the best of my knowledge no-one, not even Boeheim, has mentioned.  See if you can spot the parallels...

With a little more than ten-and-a-half minutes left to play and the game tied at 41, Duke's Jabari [juh-BAR-ee] Parker got the ball on the wing and drove toward the basket.  Syracuse's Michael Gbinije [BIN-ih-gee] already stood between Parker and the goal.  Gbinije shuffled his feet just a bit to set himself, clasped one hand over the other wrist in front of his abdomen and actually leaned back slightly in the face of Parker's bull rush.  In response, Parker went airborne, lofting the ball one-handed toward the basket while his body collided with Gbinije's.  Both players fell to the hardwood in a tangle of long limbs and sleek torsos.  The ball went into the basket.

A whistle blew and a foul was called: blocking against Gbinije.

Boeheim didn't fly into a rage, but he clearly didn't like the call.  ESPN analyst Jay Bilas --who is a Duke alumnus and who is very good most of the time but who is also an unabashed apologist for certain players, most notably Jabari Parker-- said (paraphrased), "Well, that's a tough call for Jim Boeheim to take, but Jabari Parker put Gbinije in a position to commit that foul."

(*ahem*)  My response...
No, Jay, he didn't put him in a position to commit that foul.  He ran over him, plain and simple.  The call clearly should have been charging against Parker.  In fact, it was much more clearly charging than the later collision between Fair and Hood, yet the call went against Syracuse both times.  Either this call was a bad one, or that call was a bad one, or the refs were officiating the game with a bias toward Duke.  Let's call it what it is and stop smooching selected rumps and [favorite expletive]ing our way through certain portions of the broadcast, shall we?

Of course, my conviction that both plays were cases of charging is based (so I am told) on an outdated understanding of the guidelines that govern charging v. blocking.  Oh yes, boys and girls, there are brand-spanking new rules-- because the old ones, which worked for decades on end, have recently been deemed archaic.  Why?  Money.  It is the same reason football now allows offensive linemen to claim they were baited into a false start.  It is the reason why defensive backs can now be flagged for face-guarding.  It is the reason baseball umpires squeeze the strike zone and why the commissioner, the owners, the managers, the general managers and the vast majority of the players looked the other way for a generation while certain guys shot themselves full of steroids in the clubhouse bathroom.  Money, money, money and money.  Fewer charging fouls means more points.  More points means more paying customers, both in the arena and on television, because more points is about the only thing most viewers truly grasp.

Whether I truly grasp the minute details or not, the fact remains both the Parker-Gbinije collision and the Fair-Hood collision should have been ruled the same way.  Whatever the nuances of the new guidelines, either both should have been charging or both should have been blocking.  Calling one of them one way and the other the other makes people suspicious.

Because, ultimately, what we want is consistency.  Right?

P.S.... Bud "But I Thought It Was B-12" Selig must go.