The Littlest Soapbox

June 10, 2010

The Daily Bulletin 6/10/10

Filed under: General Interest,News & Politics,Sports — mikecgannon @ 4:37 PM

Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks for winning their first Stanley Cup since 1961, and props to both teams for a well-played game of hockey last night. Once the NBA finishes up its finals, we will be facing a couple of bleak months between now and the start of college football, with only baseball on TV (shudder).

Speaking of baseball, rookie Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg had a historic debut a few nights ago. Conor over at Reasonably Certain has great breakdown of his performance, and why he thinks Strasburg isn’t going to flame out early.

First, he had more movement on his 101 mph fastball, his low 80s curve, and his 89 mph changeup than I have seen from most pitchers that I have ever watched. He would throw a curveball that would magically drop two feet on a dime. He wasn’t throwing parabolas: he was throwing step graphs. The thing I liked the most though is how he attacked the strike zone. In an era of highly over-conservative managers, pitching coaches, catchers, and pitchers who look scared to be playing baseball, Strasburg threw every 3-ball-count pitch square in the strike zone. And he didn’t get to three balls often because after his first two batters he was mostly just hitting the strike zone all the time. He was attacking batters.

Victor Davis Hanson ruthlessly dissects the troubling swing in Turkish policy, as is his wont.

Turkey’s new ambitions and ethnic and religious chauvinism are antithetical to its NATO membership. The United States should not be treaty-bound to defend a de facto ally of Iran or Syria, which are both eager to obtain nuclear weapons. European countries foresaw the problem when they denied Turkey membership in the now fragile European Union, fearful that Anatolian Islamists would have unfettered transit across European borders.

Finally, writer Tunku Varadarajan at the Daily Beast (kind of) understands why race is not a factor for conservative politicians like Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley, both of whom are of Indian descent, and are extremely popular among their Deep South constituencies. I don’t agree with everything he writes in this piece (which is pretty par for the course when it comes to him), but he ends his article with an obvious insight into why identity politics is poisonous, but one that doesn’t get said aloud enough in our country.

I will close with another question: Why has no Indian-American liberal risen as high in the Democratic ranks as Jindal and Haley have done in the GOP? Could it be that because Democrats put more of an emphasis on identity politics, an Indian-American Democrat would have to contend with other ethnic constituencies that might think that it’s “their turn” first? And once you go down the “identity” route, your success as a politician tends to rest more on the weight of numbers—the size of your ethnic constituency, or your racial voting bloc—than on the weight of your ideas. The most striking thing about Jindal and Haley’s success is not that they are Indian-American politicians who have triumphed in conservative Southern states, but that they are conservative Southern politicians who just happen to be Indian American.

Have a great day!

June 2, 2010

Stanley Cup Finals Game 3 Tonight @ 8 PM

Filed under: Sports — mikecgannon @ 4:14 PM

The Chicago Blackhawks will facing the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight. Coverage starts at 8 PM. The Blackhawks lead the (best of 7) series 2-0. Earlier in the playoffs, the Flyers came back from a 3-0 series deficit to knock out the Boston Bruins and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals (where they kicked the living snot out of the Montreal Canadiens). Coming back again like that is not impossible, but it is darn unlikely, so the Flyers have to treat this game as an elimination round.

I’ll be rooting for the Flyers for three reasons. One, the Buffalo Sabers got knocked out early, so my dog is not in this fight. Two, the Blackhawks were the number two seed in the Western Conference, while the Flyers were number seven in the East, and I tend to favor the underdog. Three, a win tonight by Chicago would put them one game away from winning Lord Stanley’s Cup, and a short championship series never has been my idea of fun.

Go Flyers!

April 20, 2010

NFL Institutes Overtime Change Rule

Filed under: Sports — mikecgannon @ 11:42 PM

Update: As Conor points out below, this rules change will only go into effect during the 2010 season for the playoffs, with presumably expanded coverage in following years.

Thanks to Conor over at Reasonably Certain for bringing this to my attention: the NFL has changed the rules for overtime. Now, only a touchdown automatically wins the game. If you kick a field goal, the other team gets the ball back for a full possession.

Needless to say, this will drastically alter overtime game strategy, removing the incentive for teams to just play for the field goal and encourage a more aggressive play-calling strategy. Both of which will make for more exciting football and climatic finishes. They have a word for this: Genius.

New Sports Blog Highlight

Filed under: General Interest,Sports — mikecgannon @ 12:13 PM

Take a few minutes to check out this new (mainly) sports blog, Reasonably Certain. It looks like it has great potential, and I’ll likely be linking and excerpting freely in the months to come: I love sports, but have nowhere near the depth of knowledge necessary to comment intelligently on it. This blog’s author, my brother Conor, does.

The site, for those of you who don’t follow this link, is http://reasonablycertain.wordpress.com/

April 14, 2010

That Whole “Life” Thing

Filed under: Film,General Interest,Sports — mikecgannon @ 12:18 PM

So instead of spending the morning blogging today, I decided that it would be a good idea to get a handle on that whole “rest of my life” thing, and so spent about an hour and a half on the phone with a counselor from the University of Phoenix about finish my (incomplete) undergraduate education, so that one day I actually have something to show for all the time I spend online. Anticipated start date: May 11. So yeah…I’m pretty jazzed.

Unfortunately, I’ve got to eat lunch and get to work, so serious content today is out. I leave you, however, with this, to add some motivation to your day.

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