Monthly Archives: March 2007

Made in China

In an about turn of U.S. trade policy and friendly international hugs, the Bush administration has decided to raise tariffs on Chinese goods exported to the United States. However, this appears to be a test run to experiment on the ways that such tariffs will affect U.S.-China relations and the market. A protective tariff-an artificial fee placed on international products exported to one’s country in order to protect the domestic market (a very truncated definition)-is being put in place because the Chinese government has been subsidizing their exports. To begin with, the U.S. has decided to put these tariffs on high quality paper. The tariffs will be placed on two Chinese manufacturers at 10.9 percent and 20.4 percent respectively for the privilege of exporting their fancy papyrus to the U.S.

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Filed under News, Politics

Why can’t we all just live in one time zone?

The esteemed Mr. Thursday, in the glowing introduction provided me, pointed out that I am “viciously opinionated.” This is true, but only because I am always right. One of the things I am always right about is this: North America is horribly lame, with Canada being the marginally less lame of the two… [EDIT: offshoots of Great Britain (Mexico is excepted for the purposes of this entry)]. North America’s lameitude manifests itself in very different ways at any given time with varying severity but my life can safely be described as a constant to-and-fro with North America and its terrible, strangling lameness.

Take this morning. The football (North America calls this “soccer.” Do you see what I mean?) team that I build my life around, Liverpool FC, was playing against Arsenal FC at 12:30 PM Greenwich Mean Time at Anfield stadium in beautiful Liverpool, England. That has me getting up and getting to the pub for 7:30 AM. The subway is barely even open at that hour! The very rotation of the Earth, indeed the arrangement of the solar system, reinforces my opinion.

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Filed under Soccer

We Just Keep Growing

whitecontraption.jpgThe Curious Mechanism is adding yet another fine young person to come and write in this space. Be nice.

Andy is tall and thin and viciously opinionated. He’s a half-Canadian film wizard and, given his specialty, will grace us with a weekly movie post. No, he’s not going to write about new movies. He’s going to write about whatever movies he wants. New movies, old movies, movies you’ve never heard of, can’t find, and wouldn’t like even if you could see them. I love him for this.

Andy is also obsessive about soccer, as well as, to a lesser extend, baseball, and to a lesser extent again, playoff hockey. He’s allowed to write about any of that in this space, and probably will. You can trust his opinion, even when he’s wrong.

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Blogroll

There are a lot of  great blogs out there, and frankly, we haven’t been too good about adding them to our blogroll.  That said, we’ve updated and added a bunch more, and we’re always on the lookout for new stuff to read. 

If you’ve got a site, please, leave a comment, and we’d love to add you to our blogroll.  We’re especially looking for more non-sport blogs to read, but if you’ve got a solid site talking about games in which balls go up and down, then we’re more than happy to add you to the sidebar. 

Nothing but love for the fellow bloggers.

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Quantifying Intangibles

I love Fire Joe Morgan.  They like rational, reasonable argument based upon measurable facts.  I also like this.  They cannot stand “intangibles”, and frankly, I don’t think too much of them, either. 

Naturally, then, I’ve been asked to come and help quantify intangibles (Here comes the links).  The Extrapolater is running the show, and helping out to judge player intangibles will be Jack Cobra from 3 Man Lift, Texas Gal from Ladies…, Uncle Sunil from Hurricanes are for Drinking, Gary Gnu from GNUru, and Sooze from Babes Love Baseball.  The categories are absurd:  Atomic Mass (ya know, for chemistry), Exposure, Date Quotient, Scrappyness, Jollyness, Hot Wife-ness, Clutchness, Hottness,  Behavior(-ness? yes?), Appearance, Quotability, and Name Quality. 

Each one of the High Judges will have their own scoring system, and will relay their own wit with their scoring.  Personally, I think I’m going to go home and weigh some fruit today.  That way, a cantaloupe’s weight can be the high score, a grape’s weight the low score, and a banana with the peel opened but not removed can be somewhere in between.  Either that, or just 1-5.  Whatever. 

If you have any players you’d like to see rated using tiny dolls and you don’t fear shrunken heads, email me or leave a comment.  You won’t be able to read any of the posts here, though I’ll probably link to them from time to time.  Check out The Extrapolater for the on-going series. 

[Voodoo Sabermetrics – The Extrapolater]

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Filed under Baseball, Blogging

Refused – The Shape of Punk to Come

sinemacula2.jpgWhen I was about 16, music had to be one of two things to catch my ear: screaming, or jazz. My tastes have expanded quite a bit since then, but I still love both of those categories. Refused‘s The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts has, for me, been a perfect album for so long because this is, essentially, vicious, screaming, jazz.

The first album I heard by them was called Songs to Fan the Flame of Discontent, and it was maybe the second or third hardcore album my older brother played for me when I wanted to get into this loud shit exploding from his bedroom. It was a hardcore primer. But there really isn’t anything like Shape of Punk to Come.

Refused was five mostly skinny Swedish guys who dressed well and liked loud music and politics. They broke up because they could not reconcile their surging popularity with their anarchic leanings. I’m not making that up. The album is heavily political, and fairly sophisticated, especially for a punk album in 1998. The basic message? There’s no excuse for abandoning your ideals–not for fame, or money, or anything else. Specifically, it’s a critique of the current state of punk music, in which bands like Green Day and Blink-182 were sending up 15 tracks of 3 chord pop-punk with songs about girls, and masturbation. Same as R.E.M. And Duran Duran. And, if punk is supposed to represent something, if it’s to be the “sound of the revolution”, so to speak, then it needs to be different from everything else. That’s what The Shape of Punk to Come set out to accomplish, and even though it didn’t start the revolution, on its own, the final Refused album met every one of its own demands.

The first track, “Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull”, sounds like a send-up from a previous album. It shows what Refused was capable of, and what they were leaving behind. Starting on track 2, “Liberation Frequency”, they start on new ground. The track starts with a lean, slicing guitar hook, which is picked up by a second guitar arpeggiating the chords of the first. The vocals come in falsetto, then switching to a natural singing ranging, and growing in intensity, before the song explodes into thunder and screaming.

When everything settles down and the track ends, we hear “There’s more coming, we’re gonna get sort’ve a session going here. A session, a session that will feature the rhythm section.” The third song, “Deadly Rhythm”, starts with more thunder, but this time is backed by upright bass and what sounds like a faint clarinet. Now, plucking an upright bass doesn’t make for jazz, but Refused isn’t trying to sound “classy”. They’re trying to sound new. The bass pulses underneath dissonant guitars, and soon a rapid-fire snare.

My favorite track on here is the fourth, “Summerholidays Vs. Punkroutine”, which has an absurd, off-kilter rhythm for a punk song. It also contains, perhaps, the essense of the album’s purpose, and an excellent personal statement:

I’m tired of losing myself in some
Stupid childhood dream of what I could’ve been
Money proves the point and I’m stuck between
Summer holidays and punk routine

I shoot off a 100 things to remain
More sorry than safe you see
I only get this chance once
and I just can’t let it be.

And I’m still certain that what motivates me
Is more important than any piece of paper could be
Well adjusted and corrupt
All those icons that stole our teenage lust

A scenario of simplicity, a scenario of you and me (x2)

(Chorus)
Rather be forgotten than remembered for givin’ in! (x4)

We’re all tired of dying
So sick of not trying
Scared that we might fail
We’ll accomplish nothing!
(x2)

Not even failure.
Not even failure.
Not even failure
Not even failure.

Rather be forgotten than remembered for givin’ in!
Rather be forgotten than remembered for givin’ in!

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Filed under Music, Sine Macula

Chabon Pulls a Dickens, But Nobody Told Me

I was introduced to Michael Chabon during my senior year of high school, I think. Mrs. Diamondstone, my beloved English teacher during 11th and 12th grade, had our class read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which has become one of my favorite books, and one of the few Pulitzer Prize winners I’ve read that I believe actually deserved the award.

Since Kavalier and Clay, I’ve read Wonder Boys, Werewolves in Their Youth, and I’ve got Mysteries of Pittsburgh on my desk waiting for me to finally read. I really need to pick up Final Solution, and I’m more excited for The Yiddish Policeman’s Union than I am about the next Harry Potter. I adore Chabon. He’s my favorite living author, and second place isn’t particularly close.

So, imagine my surprise and horror when I read on Chabon’s Wikipedia page on Tuesday that he’s writing a serial novel that’s being published in The New York Times‘ magazine section every Sunday. Why didn’t anyone tell me, damnit? The serial, Gentlemen of the Road, started in late January. As of March 25th, 9 of the 15 parts have been published. As of this moment, I’ve read the first two parts, and as expected, I love them.

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