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Showing posts from January, 2007

Super Bowl XLI (41)

It is one week until Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears. This is going to be a good one. Although it officially ends the Pittsburgh Steelers' claim on the trophy (though we knew that was actually over sometime around week 3 of the season), I'm psyched and this is going to be an awesome game.

This game has some truly interesting elements about it. You've got the most potent offense in the league (Colts) versus the stingiest defense in the league; you've got Colt's quarterback Peyton Manning, a brilliant quarterback in his prime, already destined for the hall of fame, versus Rex Grossman of the Bears, an upstart quarterback with barely two years experience in the league and legions of football fans secretly hoping--with a Schadenfraude peculiar to sports fans--that he crashes and burns in a heaping ball of flames.

The Colts got to the big dance by coming back from an 18 point defeciet to beat the "Whoops, We're In The Playoffs …

State of the Union Adress: 2007

If you've been following the news for the past few weeks or months, then President Bush's annual State of the Union Address on Tuesday night held few surprises. His speech was pretty much in line with expectations. He touched on healthcare, the war in Iraq, and he made overtures that he would try to work "across the aisle" with Democrats. This last one was definitely no surprise, as he basically has no choice but to work with the Democrats if he wants to get anything done in the last two years of his presidency.

As for healthcare, he put forth a mildly interesting, if only questionably potent, idea for a healthcare tax break, basically to encourage people to buy healthcare on their own if it is not provided by their employers. This would offer something like (and forgive me if I botch this) a $7,500 per year tax deduction for single people who buy their own healthcare, and a $15,000 per year deduction for families who do so.

Okay. What does this mean? I know next to no…

The Super Bowl

This weekend is perhaps the most exciting weekend in the NFL schedule. Yes, even more exciting than Super Bowl weekend. On Sunday the AFC and NFC Championships will be fought out between the Colts and the Patriots (AFC) and the Bears and the Saints (NFC). Personally, I'm rooting for a Colts-Bears Super Bowl with the Colts taking the big trophy.

I don't know as much about sports as some people do, but here's my logic for wanting them to win, anyway...

First, I'm just an AFC guy. I grew up near Pittsburgh and am a Steelers fan, by default if for no other reason. I never will support any other team as long as I live, unless the Steelers leave the 'Burgh. So, naturally, I'm partial to the AFC. If I'd grown up near Philly, I'd probably be an NFC guy. It's just like in baseball, in which I've always been partial to the National League because of the Pirates. If the Colts don't get in, I'll root for the Pats.

Second, Peyton Manning and the Colts a…

Book Review: American Pastoral

Book Review:
American Pastoral
By: Philip Roth
Review By: Grant Catton

Brief Synopsis

American Pastoral is a bit over 400 pages and is basically the life story of a young Jewish man, named Seymour “Swede” Levov, who came of age in the post-World War II era and, in fact, just missed serving in the war itself by a few weeks. The story begins in the form of a narrative told by Skip Zuckerman, a man who grew up in Newark, N.J. and who was a few years younger than the much-admired and athletically gifted Swede. Zuckerman was a great admirer of the Swede’s as a young boy and an adolescent, as it seems was their entire highschool and their entire milieu in their youth. Zuckerman’s admiration for the Swede is even apparent when the two, as aging men, run into each other at a Mets game.

Not long after, Zuckerman recieves a letter from the Swede asking him to write the Swede’s life story, and inviting him to lunch at an Italian restaurant in New York City to initiate the process. At the lunch, Zucker…

Democrats for President: Calling the Horserace

Illinois senator Barack Obama made a de facto announcement that he will be running for president in 2008. He didn't exactly come out and say it, but he may as well have. He said he is forming an "exploratory committee" to address the idea, and will decide Feb. 10. This probably means that between now and Feb. 10 he is going to go around the country and have some serious "sit-downs" with some senior Democrats and basically find out if they will back him. Still, its unlikely that he will back down from this. So expect to see him enter in about three weeks.

What does this mean? Well, it means that, at the very least, he, Hilary Clinton and John Edwards are going to square off next year for the official nod. None of these candidates excites me very much. Here's my take:

Hilary Clinton: She is smart. Very smart. She has serious connections in the Democratic party and she actually has some unique ideas. She won a U.S. Senate seat in 2000 and was re-elected last …

Book Review: The Joke's Over

Book Review
The Joke’s Over: Bruised Memories, Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson, and Me
Author: Ralph Steadman

Reveiw By: Grant Catton

Ralph Steadman’s memoir about his lifelong friendship and artistic partnership with Hunter S. Thompson will be a must-read for any true Hunter S. Thompson fanatic. Those readers with only a passing knowledge of Thompson or his work may not find it as easy to plow through the book’s 380-odd pages of anecdotes and letters between two eccentric artists. This is not a primer on Thompson, nor is it a biography of the man. It is, however, a detailed and highly personal look at one of the most gifted figures in 20th century American letters, through the eyes of a close friend and collaborator. It is only 18 months since Thompson committed suicide, and the next decade or so will prove crucial in cementing the man’s legacy and in forming the channels by which that legacy will be studied. It is book’s such as Steadman’s, therefore, which will become pieces of that puzzle–…

Funding Fatah

News broke last night that President Bush has approved a plan to spend $86 million funding Palestine's Fatah party, primarly so it can increase its security forces to better protect Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Just to get this straight: we are now giving guns to the Palestinians. There is some deeply convoluted political logic behind this (as there always is), and it does not smell right.

The logic seems to be that the U.S. wants to protect Fatah and Abbas from the Iran-backed miliatant party Hamas. Hamas won control of the Palestinian parliament last year in legitimate elections, so they effectively control the goverment. Abbas is the closest thing the U.S. has to an ally in Palestine, so in order to help Abbas cling to his position in the government, and probably his life, we are arming his party.

This is troubling for a number of reasons.

First, Fatah is not an ally of the U.S., neither is Abbas. Fatah is the lesser of two evils. It has conducted terrorist attacks against …

Troop Surge

If you play poker, and even if you do not, you are probably familiar with the term "all-in." It is a word to describe the bet on which a particular player stakes his entire pile of chips. "I'm all-in," or "Joe is all-in," one might say. This maneuver is done out of confidence in one's hand, that it will surely beat all the others at the table, or it is done as a last hope. In the latter instance, it is done when one has few chips left to play, and as a bluff to scare off other players into thinking that one's cards are good, when they actually are not, in the hope that one can start winning some money. This may not have been President Bush's "all-in," but if it was not, then he's one hand away.

Hopefully this increase in troops will accomplish its objective. If it does not, it will be seen as one of the final blunders in a tragic train of blunders.

The Bush administration, particularly former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfel…