28 January 2007

Federer Still the Undisputed Master

Signs seen at Australian Open:

"Roger Federer: Swiss Quality"
"Shhh! Genius at Work!"
"Federer is betterer"

There is nothing for me to say that hasn't been said. Federer is truly the master. In Europe they call him "The Maestro." What accolades can one really add about someone who has separated himself from his peers by so much that he is revered by forebearers, competitors, fans and commentators?

How big is the separation between Federer and everybody else? This much. Federer has accumulated so many points that he can skip a Grand Slam completely and still remain no.1.

One of the things I haven't heard anyone point out about the Roddick-Federer rivalry is how well Roddick plays in their big matches. Roddick played as well as anyone has ever played in the 2004 & 2005 Wimbledon finals. And he still got beaten. And he played fantastic in last year's U.S. Open final. Still got beaten. And he played fantastic in this years Aussie semi. Still got beaten (crushingly).

I'm not a fan of Roddick's attitude, but I do like the way he gets right back on the horse. You gotta give the guy credit for coming back time after time despite crushing defeats.

And how about Fernando Gonzalez (who will wake up tomorrow as the world's no.5)? I like this guy. He's definitely an upgrade from the last guy Chile sent us. He's clearly got his game in top gear and I hope we see more great matches from him.

And now here are my 2 Roger Federer stories, since I'm thinking about it:

The first time I saw him on TV was the 2000 U.S. Open. I was watching with my dad and we were lamenting the twilight of Pete Sampras' career because he was the last of the on-court artitsts. My dad went out of the room while the network switched between various matches.

One of the matches was an 18-yr old Roger Federer. I saw a few points and called my dad back into the room. I insisted he watch because the days of fluid, artistic tennis were numbered. This guy plays great but he won't go anywhere, I told my dad.

The second time I saw him was in 2002 when I went to the actual U.S. Open with a friend. I told her we had to go to the grandstand court because she had to see this guy named Roger Federer who was my new favorite player. He lost that match to Max Mirnyi, who was playing out of his mind.

But the cool part was when I whispered to my friend after a missed first serve, "Good time for an offspeed out wide." And that's exactly what Federer hit, right in front of us.

So I like to tell myself that Roger Federer and I have the same tennis mind, if not quite the same game.

27 January 2007

Common Sense in Washington is an Imported Commodity

Mallory marches against Iraq War, reports the Cincinnati Blog.

It's good to see an elected official take a stand on this critical national issue. It would be even nicer if Council had passed a resolution opposing the war (as many cities have done). But that's a pipe dream for the ages here in southwest Ohio.

Opposition to the Bush "strategy" (cough, cough) isn't the only sensible news coming out of the 2007 Conference of Mayors. Here are a couple more:

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is to unveil a package of anti-poverty proposals, including a plan for tax-free learning savings accounts for every student in the country.

The main points of the plan include:

  • A tax-free learning account for every student, with the government chipping in matching funds of up to $500 per student per year. Villaraigosa estimated that every student could have $30,000 by the time they turn 18 to invest in education.

  • New investments in pre-kindergarten education.

  • Retooling schools to teach kids vocational job skills relevant to the global workplace in fields such as graphic design, information technology and healthcare. States and local governments would commit up to $650 per student for schools adopting a high-quality, standards-based career academy curriculum.

  • Raising the minimum wage, as already approved this month by the House of Representatives.

  • Expanding the earned income tax credit.

  • Wow... those Mexicans really are dangerous to America. But it gets even more anti-American: dozens of mayors actually want to reduce our most prized cultural icon:

    Dozens of mayors... gathered Tuesday... for the Mayors Against Illegal Guns National Summit, led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

    Summit leaders, who want the federal government to do more to crack down on the illegal flow of guns across city and state lines, want local police departments to be given access to gun sales records, also known as trace data.

    The mayors argue that if the trace data were shared, dealers wouldn't be able to skirt or break the law when selling guns.

    They also say a small percentage of gun dealers are the ones who sell the guns involved in most of the crimes.

    There was a yelp from the backwoods, of course:

    The National Rifle Association has opposed the release of the data, which could also be used in lawsuits against dealers and gun manufacturers.

    The NRA and other groups have derided the mayor's agenda as an elitist attempt to fix local crime problems by curtailing the national right to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

    Much more at the Conference website.

    25 January 2007

    Psychological Factors Associated with Political Ideology

    Not surprising, but interesting.

    In 1969, Berkeley professors Jack and Jeanne Block embarked on a study of childhood personality, asking nursery school teachers to rate children's temperaments. They weren't even thinking about political orientation.

    Twenty years later, they decided to compare the subjects' childhood personalities with their political preferences as adults. They found arresting patterns. As kids, liberals had developed close relationships with peers and were rated by their teachers as self-reliant, energetic, impulsive, and resilient. People who were conservative at age 23 had been described by their teachers as easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, and vulnerable at age 3. The reason for the difference, the Blocks hypothesized, was that insecure kids most needed the reassurance of tradition and authority, and they found it in conservative politics.


    University of Arizona psychologist Jeff Greenberg argues that some ideological shifts can be explained by terror management theory (TMT), which holds that heightened fear of death motivates people to defend their world views.

    The reason thoughts of death make people more conservative, Jost says, is that they awaken a deep desire to see the world as fair and just, to believe that people get what they deserve, and to accept the existing social order as valid, rather than in need of change... people gravitate toward conservatism because it's more certain about the answers it provides—right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, us vs. them—and because conservative leaders are more likely to advocate a return to traditional values, allowing people to stick with what's familiar and known. "Conservatism is a more black and white ideology than liberalism," explains Jost. "It emphasizes tradition and authority, which are reassuring during periods of threat."

    Federer Sends Roddick Home with Tail Between His Legs

    What's the Australian blue plate special? If you're Roger Federer, it's a vegemite sandwich with a side of everyone on the men's tour.

    For all the talk about Roddick's new coach and his turned-up swagger, his trophy case looks pretty much the same as it did two years ago. A little over a year ago, I tried to guess what was inside Roddick's head. I figured he understood that he must either figure out a way to challenge Federer, or be content being this generation's Ken Rosewall (who had the misfortune of being Rod Laver's contemporary).

    I still think Roddick made a lousy decision in getting rid of Brad Gilbert as his coach. Gilbert is now coaching Andy Murray, and you can bet that Murray is going to break through in 2007. I think it will be Murray, and not Nadal or Roddick, who will give Federer headaches this year. I think Roddick would have been in a better position to challenge Federer if he had stuck with Gilbert.

    But when you're talking about Federer, "being in a better position to challenge" might not mean much more than reducing the severity of punishment. I can't remember anybody "bageling" so many top players-- and in huge matches, no less.

    But for now it's the same unbelievable story... win after win after win. This is Federer's seventh Grand Slam final in a row. And not to slam Tommy Haas or Fernando Gonzalez, but I think it's safe to say that Federer is going to have his tenth Grand Slam trophy in a couple of days.

    (And congratulations also to Kirby Puckett for making it to the women's finals).

    22 January 2007

    Ninth Bengal Arrested!


    Bengals CB Jonathan Joseph was pulled over for weaving and arrested for marijuana possession.

    I have nothing left to say anymore... except that maybe next year's uniforms should be big white t-shirts and baggy pants. And instead of helmets they can wear sideways caps.

    I can't believe a weenie like Bill Belichick has a team that stays in line and a stand-up guy like Marvin Lewis has to put up with this crap.

    Congressman Calls for Media Reform

    This is great news. No telling how far it will go, but for now it's good to see that media reform is on the radar of SOMEONE in Congress. In this case, it's New York's Maurice Hinchey, who has introduced MORA, The Media Ownership Reform Act, H.R. 3302.

    MORA would restore the Fairness Doctrine, reinstate a national cap on ownership of radio stations, lower the number of radio stations that one company can own in a local market, and reinstate the 25 percent national cap on television ownership, among other restrictions. The bill’s no-grandfathering provision would compel media conglomerates to divest to comply with new ownership limitations.

    MORA would also require public interest reports from broadcasters and require more independently produced programming on TV. In addition, it establishes new public interest obligations to assure that broadcasters meet the needs of local communities and requires increased, sustained public input and outreach to give the people a voice in programming.

    Read more at Raw Story.

    Hinchey introduced the bill last year but Republicans blocked it in committee. Now it has a chance. Congress also tried to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine twice in the 80s but it was vetoed both times, first by Reagan and then by Bush. Anyone see a hat trick coming?

    Here's a good overview of the Fairness Doctrine.

    And for what it's worth, here are the contacts for our overly corporate-friendly local members of Congress:

    Steve Chabot
    John Boehner
    Jean Schmidt

    17 January 2007

    Agents of Satan Slap Jesus in Face with Science

    Guns don't kill people; PhDs kill people.

    In the present study, we describe the formation of synchronously contracting engineered human cardiac tissue derived from human embryonic stem cells containing endothelial vessel networks.

    Translation: we used embryonic stem cells to make beating heart tissue. Furthermore, the tissue forms blood vessels which means it has good potential for use to replace damaged heart tissue (like after a heart attack).

    I'd call it a step forward, but I'm sure the voices in Pat Robertson's head say different.

    16 January 2007

    Ohio GOP Blog Censors Comment

    Ladies and gentlemen, I am going to tell you something so extraordinary and unbelievable that you may actually lose all faith in humanity and die on the spot.

    The Ohio GOP blog censors comments.

    It happened when I read this post about a nutty, rock-throwing vandal arrested in Columbus. After his arrest he ranted about "exterminating" Team America (i.e. Bush & Co.).

    I wrote a comment and thanked the blog for the post because it's important to let people know that people who oppose Bush & Co. are insane criminals.

    Then I asked them why they posted that news and not this news.

    The Thematically Inconsistent Best and Worst of 2006 List

    Best NFL WR with the most receiving yards for the 4th year in a row: Chad Johnson.

    Best site for the new Hamilton County jail: Paul Brown Stadium.

    Most idiotic moment: (tie) Chris Finney's "kiss my ass" meltdown; Jean Schmidt re-election.

    Best redneck with a gun: Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.

    Best non-redneck with a gun: Paul Hackett.

    Most under-reported local story: GOP corruption at the state level.

    Most over-reported local story: Marcus Feisel.

    Best local reporting: Dan Hurley & Jeff Hirsch (WKRC)

    Worst local reporting: Kimball Perry

    Best resistance to progress of any kind: (tie) Cincinnati Police; Phil Buress.

    Best local blog, reality-based: OH-2.

    Best local blog, reality-challenged division: Bizzy Blog.

    Best local official: Todd Portune.

    Worst local official: Phil Heimlich.

    Moment of heartbreak: Carson Palmer goes down in the playoffs.

    Moment of hope: Carson Palmer starts first game of season.

    Person of the year: How about Pervez Musharraf? Isn't he the only leader who has actually been successful in fighting terrorism?

    Best local beer: Christian Moerlein's Oktoberfest.

    Best political fade-out: Justin Jeffre.

    Best fade-in: Roxanne Qualls.

    Best fade-out then fade-in: Dale Mallory.

    Best college football moment: Fiesta Bowl.

    Worst college football moment: FIU vs. Miami fight.

    Underappreciated college football moment: Army-Navy game. Where else are you going to see white running backs?

    Look Out... It's a Meme!

    For those 2 or 3 of you who still check this blog, I thank you for even though I'm on LPF (low post frequency) for the time being. And if you're looking for a nugget of wisdom... well, then I apologize. 'Cause it ain't happening with this post.

    1. Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies: The only books I remember actually giving to multiple people are Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of the Senses and The Onion: Year in Review.

    2. Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music: In high school I believed that true rock music had heavy guitars and heavy drums, and the suckiness of music was proportional to how much synthesizer was in it. Led Zeppelin was the greatest band ever and Duran Duran was the worst. I expanded my horizons in college mostly because of REM, Talking Heads, and U2.

    3. Name a film you can watch again and again without fatigue: The Empire Strikes Back.

    4. Name a performer for whom you suspend all disbelief: Edward G. Robinson.

    5. Name a work of art you'd like to live with: Something by Edward Hopper. And Heironymous Bosch for the kids' room.

    6. Name a work of fiction which has penetrated your real life: The Bible.

    7. Name a punchline that always makes you laugh: You had to be there, but my college gal and I laughed hysterically for 15 minutes at this from Clerks:

    (upset boyfriend): "37 blowjobs! My girlfriend gave 37 blowjobs!"
    (stranger in store): "In a row?"

    10 January 2007

    Cheese Whiz Report: WKRC, Jan 9

    Cheese Whiz report for WKRC afternoon news of Jan 9 (cheese whiz ??):

    More troops expected in Iraq.
    Air strikes in Somalia.
    Deadly train crash in Massachussetts.
    Two students shot, injured, in school parking lot.
    Taft High School uses metal detectors after yesterday's gun incident.

    Man accused of stealing cab is caught.
    Traffic accident, minor injuries.
    Fire in OTR home, no injuries, minor damage.
    Home invasion suspect in court.
    Wildfire destroys exclusive homes in Malibu. Suzanne Somer's home destroyed. Chocolate lab saved.

    Macy's has surplus of "Ohio State 2006 Champions" t-shirts.
    St. Bernard plans to replace park with housing subdivision.
    Subdivision improvements in Green Twp.
    Medical report: presence of spouse/partner can lower stress, says study.

    Most wanted suspect arrested in Kennedy Heights.
    New safety lights to be added to dangerous cut-in-the-hill portion of I-75.
    iPod can be karaoke machine.

    (adopt-a-pet segment)
    (promo for later news)
    Strickland wants to reduce lobbyist gifts.
    KY residents still oppose new jail.

    Total ad time was 12 min (40%).

    Cheese Whiz Report: WKRC, Jan 5

    The Cheese Whiz report for WKRC afternoon news of Jan 5 (cheese whiz ??):

    SWAT standoff ends peacefully.
    Suspected murderer behind bars.
    Funeral for fallen local soldier.
    W. Ky. businessman to challenge Ernie Fletcher for Governor.
    Bush shuffles White House staff.
    New Yorkers rescue toddler.
    Erik Estrada gets into fight after being called Emilio Estevez.
    Weatherman promotes Travel & Boat Show.

    Parks Board to discuss pool future.
    Firehouse dance for 6th-8th graders in Taylor Mill.
    Fruits & vegetables good for health.

    OH, FL governors make friendly wager on BCS game.
    2 car accidents this morning.
    Taft signs bill restricting passengers for teen drivers.
    More from Travel & Boat show.

    Trial in KY continues for man accused of "shooting wife in the head."
    RR crossing to be made safer.
    2 more Cincinnati homicides added to 2006 count.

    Total ad time was 11 min (37%).

    04 January 2007

    Immigrants Crucial to U.S. Competitiveness, Says Report

    In case anyone still doesn't get it...

    A team of researchers at Duke University estimated that 25 percent of technology and engineering companies started from 1995 to 2005 had at least one senior executive — a founder, chief executive, president or chief technology officer — born outside the United States.

    Their contributions to corporate coffers, employment and U.S. competitiveness in the global technology sector offer a counterpoint to the recent political debate over immigration and the economy, which largely centers on unskilled, illegal workers in low-wage jobs.

    ...the research debunks the notion that immigrants who come to the United States take jobs from Americans.

    "The advantage of entrepreneurs is that they're generally creating new opportunities and new wealth that didn't even exist before them..."

    Sounds good. But unfortunately, the report doesn't give their TOEFL or JAF (Jesus Acceptance Factor) scores, so there's plenty of reason to remain weary.

    How About a "Contract with Corporate America?"

    D.C. Dems have a legislative agenda, and from the looks of it so far, it'll be a welcome change from the carnival of corporate sycophancy we've seen since Jesus, Inc. sent Ronald Reagan.

    But Philip Mattera and Charlie Cray propose an even better idea: give ulcers to Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist! Make Tom DeLay and Ralph Reed lose their religion!

    Okay, that's not exactly it. But that's basically what it amounts to. Or as my English teacher would write, that's basically to what it amounts. What it amounts to is basically that. To wit:

    The new Congress faces a staggering list of corporate abuses that have been ignored by lawmakers for years—including executive pay levels that remain out of control, rampant contract fraud and war profiteering in Iraq and at home, widespread corporate tax avoidance, the offshoring of well-paying jobs, and the shredding of health, safety and environmental standards.

    Some of the initial measures planned by Democrats, such as a minimum wage increase and a rollback of oil industry tax breaks, will begin to rectify the situation. But much more needs to be done. Twelve years ago, when the Republicans won control of Congress, they proposed a Contract with America. Now is the time for what might be called a Contract with Corporate America—an effort to put limits on the power of big business.

    What follows are a few clauses that Congress might include in such a contract...

    Read the rest here... and sent it to your [non-Republican] members of Congress. They don't know what you want if you don't tell them!

    Click here to email Sherrod Brown.
    Click here to email George Voinovich.

    03 January 2007

    More Immigrants = Better Cities

    Don't tell Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones (best local yokel of 2006), but immigrants can actually improve cities.

    I guess it's no surprise that the only official I've heard talk about the value of immigrants got elected in Hamilton County and not Butler.

    02 January 2007

    New Year's [Counter-] Resolution

    A worthwhile idea from Jim Collins, business historian and researcher. Like all advice, it's easier said than done but it's still something to think about.

    One day, Rochelle pointed to my ferocious work pace and said, "I notice, Jim, that you are a rather undisciplined person."

    "Your genetic energy level enables your lack of discipline," Rochelle continued. "Instead of leading a disciplined life, you lead a busy life."

    Rochelle's lesson came back to me a number of years later while puzzling over the research data on 11 companies that turned themselves from mediocrity to excellence, from good to great. In cataloguing the key steps that ignited the transformations, my research team and I were struck by how many of the big decisions were not what to do, but what to stop doing.

    Rochelle spoke to me repeatedly about the idea of "making your life a creative work of art." A great piece of art is composed not just of what is in the final piece, but equally important, what is not. It is the discipline to discard what does not fit...

    Bye Bye Bengals, Hello Bowl Games

    The Bengals season is over. In a sense I am glad... glad that I don't have to witness any more stumbles and bumbles; glad that I don't have to experience the pain of unrequited scoring drives; glad that I don't have to stay off the roads after home games in case a drunk Bengal is somewhere out there.

    Thank goodness for college football. It helped me forget.

    It's too bad Georgia Tech lost their bowl game; I like Calvin Johnson (who doesn't?) and he's a fun one to watch. I'm sure he'll go pro next year.

    Michigan got its ass kicked, just as I predicted:

    It was an all-encompassing blowout over a solid, third-ranked Michigan squad that positioned USC (11-2) as maybe The Team to watch next season.

    I also predicted Florida will beat Ohio State.

    I hope Wisconsin's win helps them get more air time than Notre Dame next year. I nominate Notre Dame as the most overrated and over-covered college team. The most overrated and over-covered NFL team is the Giants.

    But there's no way to overrate last night's Fiesta Bowl. Wow, what a game! There's some talk that this game will kickstart talks on a playoff system. That's great... good luck getting it to work.

    In sad news, it was awful seeing the news of Darrent Williams senseless death scroll by at the bottom of the screen. He was a hell of a player. The incident has a Cincinnati connection; Williams was at a party for former UC hoop thug Kenyon Martin, who doesn't exactly seem broken up about the whole thing:

    "I was there. He was there. I left. I saw him. That was about the extent of it," Martin told The Denver Post. "It is what it is. It's an unfortunate thing."

    Touching, Kenyon... real touching.

    Rounding out the sports week, Bob Knight gets no. 880. From Sports Illustrated's look back at his early days coaching at West Point:

    Over the 40 seasons and 862 wins that followed, he would experience greater successes, play on bigger stages, and find himself at the center of much more heated controversies, and yet coach's defining characteristics were all there in 1965-66. Army was only the beginning of the run at 880, but the players at West Point experienced Bob Knight in full.

    And Roger Federer has a new year's resolution... not that it's hard to guess considering there's only one thing he hasn't won. Will this be the Grand Slam year?