here's a non-technical, non-epistemology, non-physics entry. i frigging love john wall.
somehow the united states went from 'congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech or of the press' to “There are a lot of names and descriptions that were used over time that are inappropriate today,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said. “And I think the name this is attributed to the Washington football club is one of those.” in other words, we used to value a bold brawling discourse; now our speech is run by little schoolmarms: 'inappropriate!' honestly, that something is inappropriate, other things being equal, recommends it. i suppose 'appropriateness' is the constitutional standard on prior censorship of expression in our jurisprudence?
sports commentators often get into outrage wars. they're in one now over ray rice, and if you watch pti or around the horn etc, they compete to recommend ever-harsher penalties, call for everybody's resignations, and so on. one frequent function of public outrage, i believe, is to insulate the person talking form the imputation that he might do something like that. surely no one expressing that degree of outrage could also be an abuser, um. whether one ever has committed acts of abuse or not, what one is really saying is: i would never do that. it's a disavowal, perhaps particularly relevant for the jocks, because people are associating their culture with abuse.
the little league world series makes it clear that the united states and indeed the world is still pretty racially organized. it was an all-black team from chicago against an all-white team from nevada for the us championship; japan v south korea for the international. now they're playing black against asian for all the marbles. i say whoever wins gets to be master-race until next year.
i live in york springs, pa, known locally as 'little mexico' i go with 'mini-mexico', 'micro-mexico', 'pocket mexico', 'nano-mexico', 'rednexico', or 'mexico in an andrew wyeth' depending on my mood. so i've decided i'm rooting for mexico in the world cup. (also, perhaps due to the fact that it is ruled by authoritarian dolts [harvard jd's], i'm not feeling all that patriotic about the usa; mexico is better-governed.) viva el tri!
true i am enjoying johnny weir as a skating commentator, and it's cool that that fabulous of a queen can be on tv all day. however, i have one reservation: he very much preaches the gospel of "if you believe in yourself, you can do anything." honestly i don't know how that idea ever occurred to anyone, much less became a cliche we teach to our children, etc. it attributes actual omnipotence to any given high school schlumph. or it really creates for each of us a special religion of our self. i used to believe in god, or like, trying to do right or whatever, now i believe in myself. hence i can do anything. look, if there is anything i know by foundational, incorrigible, privileged-access introspection it is this: i am an extremely implausible candidate for godhead. if you don't know that about yourself, you are dangerously demented.
this morning johnny was saying that the skater on the ice had told him how much she had learned to believe in herself and that she could do anything. he said that just as she was going into the triple loop or whatever on which she wiped out. dude, whatever! believe insofar as possible all that is and only what is true - or at least try not to say with the utmost simulated commitment anything that you yourself know to be false and insane - and get to work!
but how about this from just now: "i love the beginning of this long program; she's just letting us all know she owns us". or he had a pretty hilarious rap on the limitations on sexual expression in a brother-sister pair, etc. he's very sexy and fun.
i know you've been waiting for me to declare my position on this. no, brittney griner will never play in the nba, though she's the most dominant player in the history of women's college basketball. she's a skinny 6'8" center, and slow to boot relative to the nba. the best bet to try this, again (a few have tried before) is someone who can play point guard, like maybe the cal player layshia clarendon. meanwhile that shoni schimmel, whose louisville team just beat clarendon's, is an amazing athlete.
beyonce's halftime show has been garnering universal ecstasy, or literal idolatry. i have to say i hate framing musical performances in these insane-scale spectacles, which beyonce's show is, even not at the super bowl. but it just invites the response that the hugeness is inversely proportional to the truth at the heart. anyone that intent on distracting attention from her music probably has very good reasons to do so. anyway, i'm just gonna stare at something like that and go: wow that cost millions. what bullshit. i don't think even the sheer spectacle had any real visual unity or a great deal of panache or anything; it was just supposed to bludgeon you into obedience.
ok beyonce can dance, but the style is still paula abdul and the laker girls with a little more stripper. the whole performance worked best as softcore porn or like one of those victoria's secret shows. i'm supposing that beyonce can sing, though i'm not as clear as everyone seems to be that she actually was. but even her voice was buried in audio sludge, and that's pretty true on the records too. i don't think the music means anything. seriously. the best riff by far was that horn thing on 'crazy in love,' which is a sample (of course there were models sort of pretending to be a horn section behind her). now i have less than no problem with sampling as a compositional and production technique; still there were no comparable musical accomplishments in her set.
the lyrics are just today's empty pop things, with the occasional pause for the 'believe in yourself' power ballad where one pretends to emote with unparalleled intensity. she does that no better than miley cyrus, and if you think that people can perform songs like that sincerely, you're not understanding that they don't engage or reflect any particular experience: they're like the self-esteem posters at the middle school. they might be aimed at your demographic, but not at you; in a way there's nothing it could mean for something like that to be sincere or even insincere. the pepsi jingle has more content, and really it might have some connection with what's inside you, or will be if you pop the top and tip it over into your mouth.
in short, that's just the kind of show caligula would have ordered up if he'd had the technology.
were i booking next year's super bowl halftime show for a useful contrast, here'd be my first brainstorm: what if we could get a reunion of the fugees instead of destiny's child? how would lauryn hill frame her voice and material? well, it would be personal. it would have dignity - she would have dignity - and believe it or not i think that is sexier. let wyclef do 'stayin alive.' wait, that's nas! maybe lauryn isn't as good a singer as beyonce (i'm not sure because no one knows what beyonce really sounds like singing in the shower or whatever). but that doesn't matter. lauryn sings great and she wants you to know what she's singing and she has a real connection to it. she might, even in this bloated context, move you, and not just her moneymaker.
i've been on this various times before, as in this, which ran in the latimes.
i can be pretty hard on reporters who get stories wrong. like i was ragging on all the misinformation they were purveying on newtown. but i'm going to forgive them on the te'o story. it's just not the sort of thing you'd think someone would make up. it spoke well for us that we wouldn't require verification on something like that, just believe the raw emotion he was...expressing. well, i suppose even things like that have to dissolve in our current context, including social media. but that's sad, see? do i resent the fact that i was laboring under a misapprehension? well yeah a bit. how much of a burden was it to continue to labor under that misapprehension for a few extra weeks? indetectible in the face of the actual burdens that confront me on any given day. this crap ain't exactly watergate. believing a college kid about his tragedy is not like believing what some politician or military spokesman or corporate flak is saying, which are real and constant problems in american journalism. so i just don't feel that there is a big media problem here, except maybe that te'o was tailoring the story to fit into espn's formulae. the formulae should be reflected on not least because the narrative forms they deploy are getting awfully old, and have the sort of falsifying imperatives that alway arise when you try to read actual life as though it were a novel.
or: how could notre dame not release this information as soon as they had it? well, this is the kind of story that there just is no urgency in reporting to anyone. now, maybe it's disturbing that they waited til after the championship game, but really we don't know how the deliberation went at all. it's sad, stupid, and fucked up no matter how it happened, but nothing turns on getting it out immediately at all: it has no, like, policy implications. no one has to make up their mind about anything on its basis, at least until the draft.
a few lance armstrong observations: possibly testicular cancer is a side effect of steroid abuse. and now i guess he's reached the stage of redemptive snitching. i'm not sure there's ultimately any treatment for the tendency of people to try to find one of their number to elevate into a little god, or the disease of hero-worship, but certainly no number of empirical refutations appears adequate.
Acknowledging his doping past has cleared the way for Armstrong to take the next step in trying to mitigate his lifetime ban from Olympic sports. He is planning to testify against several powerful people in the sport of cycling who knew about his doping and possibly facilitated it, said several people with knowledge of the situation.
i have to say that the olympics track and field competition is, among other things, an amazing celebration of black womanhood. lord that field for the 100 metres: what a magnificent group of african warrior princesses, with incredible fire in the eyes (as well as unbelievable acceleration, of course). also i'll pay tribute to the rather shocking virginity of 29-year-old lolo jones. let's just say that she's running against the tendency of the culture. that is sexy.
shelly-ann fraser-pryce (the world's fastest woman):
In his verdict, Riddle said there was "no doubt" that Terry had uttered the words "fucking black cunt" during the final stages of the match at Loftus Road last autumn. He had done so in anger, he said.
But it was "impossible to be sure" both of what Terry said and what Ferdinand had said to him.
Riddle concluded: "It is therefore possible that what he [Terry] said was not intended as an insult, but rather as a challenge to what he believed had been said to him. In those circumstances, there being a doubt, the only verdict the court can record is one of not guilty."
the idea that insults are crimes is insulting, hence criminal. and the idea that an insult directed at one grown man by another is a crime shows that, while we are not all 'fucking black cunts,' we are certainly a beautiful rainbow of little fucking pussies. you actually have a judge trying to lip-read videos and crap. (as well as concluding with magnificent stupidity both that there is no doubt that terry said it and that it's not certain that he did, and that 'fbc,' offered in response to an insult, is not itself an insult; these are the thoughts of a man wondering what the hell he is doing with a case like that in his courtroom.) maybe having said it 'in anger' is an element of the crime? surely terry meant 'fucking black cunt' affectionately. plus maybe he didn't start it! where's the assistant principal when you need him? by what means the government convinces itself that such things are crimes or that it is their legitimate function to intervene, it is impossible to say.
sitting at home with a stomach bug watching the euro football tournament. ukrainian fans, russian fans, danish, german, spanish: they sing the riff from "seven-nation army": tens of thousands in unison. well, it's a great riff. for that matter, american college basketball crowds do the same; perhaps we'll hear those seven notes at the nba finals tonight. i wonder what it would be like to have written something like that. it's like you produced a little poem that became a world-wide universal cliche, a phrase-fad. the closest analogue i can think of is "we will rock you." now certainly you would regard it with a certain pride, but it might also be a sort of burden; nothing else you ever do will have such an effect, and now it is you: no escape or revision or re-interpretation is possible, really.
everyone seems to be calling for the head of marlins manager ozzie guillen, who expressed admiration for fidel castro. this is just ridiculous. am i called upon to agree with the politics of of the coaches of the sports teams i root for? or they with mine? i realize this is a sensitive subject in miami, but the man's opinions are irrelevant to anything and everything, including the conduct of his team and anybody's dealings with cuba. on pardon the interruption last night, the usually delightful kornheiser and wilbon were asking how people would respond if guillen praised hitler or bin laden. now, i am very not a fan of totalitarian marxists, i.e. marxists. but those comparisons are silly.
here's a relatively typical case in which the exquisitely delicate ethnic sensitivities of the press preclude them from actually reporting the story: espn fired a staffer for an 'offensive' headline: we report the story at length, but can't actually say what the headline said. that's frigging ridiculous. we'd do our basic jobs, only we're pussies. the headline itself was only up for a half hour, and for example reading this account would make it impossible to reach an informed opinion on whether the firing was reasonable. you don't want to offend your readers, who are not at all offended for example when you report the actual facts of a murder in excruciating detail. well, lord knows this - whatever it was - was worse than murder.
what i like about this is not that it skewers tebow, who has after all been sent to save a wretch like me. what i like is what it shows about david bowie. fallon's singing is overwrought yet flimsy.the outfit is ridiculous. however, the lyrics are much better than bowie's (admittedly that would be hard to avoid), the singing no worse, the fashion sense less palpably pointless. of course bowie and tebowie more or less share the same 'melody.' it's as though bowie built a magnificent palace of suck in which every single detail sucks royally, but in which the whole sucks exponentially more than any of the constituent parts.
that the nfl limits more or less everybody to a single game in the 4pm time slot is ridiculous. (right now we're all stuck watching the packers blow out the raiders, while close games are happening elsewhere.) maybe somehow they want to funnel everyone into the same advertisements at the same time. or maybe they have a deal with directv, which is the only provider that will even sell you all nfl games. but really it cannot make business sense. surely you want to maximize your total audience, so given that you've got a broadcast crew at every game, you should make them all available, even on the web. otherwise i'll be watching tennessee-martin at bethune-cookman in field hockey in a minute here. of course, many people are not in the markets of the team they root for, so while they always do broadcast the in-market team, a lot of us miss most of our games. i listen to the redskins on internet radio.
what actual businesses of now have found out is that it doesn't pay to constantly irritate and alienate your customers. you want them to have an easy and good experience every time. you want to give them what they want, a decent actual lesson of capitalism. it's like when, in the late 80s/early 90s, consultants designed stores that would funnel you down the far-right aisle to the back wall if you entered the store at all: they literally forced you to walk down a long aisle of sale items, then all the way back to the front to get anything. they might even have sold slightly more stuff per customer. but the stores were always empty because you immediately realized it was going to take you twice as long to find and pay for anything than across the street. and you immediately understood that you were being manipulated in a hideous psychological experiment, with you cast as the rodent, rather than being served. floor plans have been opening up ever since.
douthat argues today that there are parallels between catholic priests' sexual abuse of boys and the cover-ups of it and the penn state case. and folks on espn have been describing it as "the worst scandal in the history of college athletics." now let me say why i don't think these things are right, exactly. now, almost any institution - in particular any institution that deals with children - might harbor a pedophile; i guess there's a little segment of the population that is sexually configured this way; lord knows why. but the catholic church, i believe, more or less actively encouraged homosexual pedophilia for centuries. really 'celibacy' amounted to misogyny: the basic idea was not to touch women. and the idea of celibacy attracted many people who were disgusted - often for extremely good reasons - by their own sexuality. i actually think the altar boy was conceived to be a way to keep priests celibate: which is absurd, but there it is. you had thousands of abusers, layers and layers of concealment, and i think actual institutional encouragement. i don't know much about big-time college football, and it has its amazing corruptions, but it would surprise me if it had anything like that going on. what you have is one predator, and one extremely disturbing cover-up.
the worst scandals in college football are scandals that infect the whole thing routinely: those are the scandals that are peculiar to, characteristic of, the institution: scandals involving, say, cash or sex used to lure high school players to commit to a school: the way usc has conducted its program for decades, e.g. or academic scandals that amount to relieving players of their status as students. or judicial-type scandals where player misbehavior is forgiven or concealed over and over. these are the corruptions that are characteristic of the institution, as homosexual pederasty is characteristic of the catholic church. now it's probably true that sandusky was protected by a kind of culture of impunity around big-time college athletics. but it's not, i think, true that child sexual abuse is any more rampant in this environment than in any other. you'd be likelier to find that in children's charities, like sandusky's foundation, and maybe that's a place where we might focus more attention.
[let me acknowledge a little streak of homophobia in what i just wrote. and let me say that i also think that the extreme repugnance with which many people have greeted the sandusky revelations also has such a streak. 'anally raping a ten-year-old boy' causes about as severe a disgust reaction as i am capable of. and let me say: i was sexually abused by one of my step-brothers, and as an adolescent i was incessantly chicken-hawked by men: the guy on the bus who just puts his hand on your crotch; the guy who picks you up hitch-hiking and asks whether you like to masturbate etc etc. i kind of had to fight for a heterosexual identity. well obviously girls have to put up with shit like that from heterosexual men. but if that turned them against heterosexuality, you might understand it. but the homosexual element is intrinsic to the catholic situation (though of course there might be an occasional girl abused by a priest). reason tells me it's just as bad either way. nausea tries to tell me something else. no doubt further therapy is recommended.]
i have to say i hope that the penn state board of trustees allows joe paterno to retire with some dignity at the end of the season, and doesn't fire him tonight. i think he didn't do nearly enough when a graduate student came to him and told him (apparently) that he saw jerry sandusky anally raping a 10-year-old boy in the penn state football showers. but on the other hand, he has done inestimable good for that school. one time the chair of the philosophy department at the main campus told me that various of his programs were secretly funded by paterno. and i don't think you will be harming anyone by allowing him to persist a few more weeks. he was not the perp. and his statement of regret was about as deep and sincere as anyone could hope for,
i'm even a bit sad to see the pres, graham spanier, go. when i was teaching at penn state harrisburg, i did an op-ed for the philly inquirer defending alan iverson (my fave b-ball player ever) after he was arrested for driving a hundred miles an hour through virginia with a gun on his passenger seat. i said: yesterday i got saved from a ticket when a guy coming the other way flashed his lights at me. so i flashed on the other side. we commonly help each other evade the law, a beautiful sign of human unity. well, spanier apparently got barraged with demands to fire me etc. but he didn't, though he did draft a reply, which he asked me to approve, saying 'crispin sartwell does not endorse breaking any law.' i made him re-cast that sentence, as i recall. but he was good about the whole thing.
again this season, i'll be collecting names of college basketball players. just to say it: black folks are applying ever-more creative naming strategies (it's not like, looking at these names, you're wondering about the players' race). so how about these freshmen from st. john's: God'sgift Achiuwa and Sir'dominic Pointer. also i feel that the apostrophe is only the beginning of the incorporation of punctuation marks into the human name. i'm thinking of throwing a few question marks into mine.