The Washington Post has bought the venerable (at least in internet years) Slate.com. Fingers crossed, hoping for the best.


The #1 team in America has another Heisman. "Tailback-U" generates another QB who wins college football's most coveted individual award. Fight on! Matt Leinart.


I'm mostly sitting this round of the steroid "issue" out. Most of you long-time readers know where I stand. However, I did want to point you over to Andrew Sullivan's take, which I believe overlaps well with mine. It's nice to see reason starting to reveal itself on this issue.


There are conflicts of interest.

And then there's the Bowl Championship Series.

The BCS is to college football what Tony Soprano is to waste hauling in New Jersey -- a monopoly turning a tidy profit by cleaning up messes without dithering over who gets hurt along the way.

This season's victims were Auburn and California. Last season's was Southern California. In past seasons, Oregon, Colorado, Kansas State, Miami and a few other schools got the back of the BCS hand. All got sympathy notes, too, and promises the beatings would stop. But the only thing that's changed since the BCS hijacked the postseason in 1998 is the name of the victims.

The holidays are upon us and that can only mean one thing, it's time for college football fana to continue the annual rite of BCS-bashing. For the first time ever the preseason #1 and #2 teams went through the season undefeated and will meet for the national championship. But we don't have to go too far down the poll to find some hacked-off programs. Shut out is Auburn, who at 12-0 felt they deserved a chance to compete for the national title. Perhaps even more stupefying is what happened to the 10-1 Cal Bears. Ranked #4 going into this weekend's final game they were seemingly headed to the prestigious (and lucrative) Rose Bowl for the first time since 1959. Many Cal fans worried they'd have to beat Southern Mississippi by an impressive margin to hold off a charging Texas team. Cal won in a close road game (even taking a knee in the final plays rather than running up the score to impress voters) and the results were all that was feared. Cal got bumped in the polls and Texas will be going to the Rose Bowl and the Cal Bears, whose only loss came to the #1 team in America, fell out of the BCS and into the Holiday Bowl.

So folks, who got screwed the most? Cal or Auburn? Is this really another example of the horrific East Coast bias? Is a playoff system even possible, let alone feasible?


Another shooting in Gaza. This time a 13-year-old girl. A political nightmare for the Israelis.
The U.S. has found a way to defend the morally indefensiable, torture.


Dahlia Lithwick, who for my money is journalist who best covers the Supreme Court, with a dispatch about the current medical pot case. It doesn't look promising for us fans of federalism and individual autonomy.


Dan with all the goods on the situation in Ukraine,


Apparently the diplomacy exhibited by Bush at the Clinton Library was a little lax.


Iran with nukes, the war in Iraq absorbing resources, and an "Economic Armageddon" predicted by Stephen Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley. Definitely be thankful today, because tomorrow isn't certain.

On a lighter note, I was surprised to see Frank Chu (for those of you outside of the Bay Area, Frank is a bit of a local landmark. He walks around holding a sign talking bout 12 galaxies, rants and raves about Clinton, Lincoln, et.al and has the amazing ability to seem to be absolutely everywhere) standing outside of the meal line at the SF Unitarian Church's Thanksgiving feed. He wasn't in the line, but actually facing the diners spreading his message. The world may be going to shit, but as long as Frank is out there, we all have a chance.


In light of the impending Thanksgiving holiday, an absolutely riveting account of the battle for Fallujah from a Marine.


At last! A Passion of the Christ video game. (Just in time for X-mas)
Terry lost his frog. Click through and enjoy...


NBA Basketball took another black eye tonight. The Indiana Pacers were playing the defending champion Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills, Michigan. With less than a minute to go in the game Ben Wallace took offense at a hard foul and shoved Ron Artest. A series of scuffles between the teams undulated before the scorer’s table. A moment of seeming calm as Artest lay out upon the scorer’s table. Then a blue cup flew through the sky, tossed from the stands and hit Artest as he lay resting.

Then the explosion occurred. Artest charged into the stands and fought a fan. Other fans and players joined and the seeds of a riot began to bloom. The melee quickly escalated with fans charging the floor, players hopping through the stands. A cacophony of bodies and objects filled the stadium as mayhem took hold. As they attempted to shepard players out of the stadiums fans tossed chairs, beer, bottles, clothing, and food. The police threatened to mace players, a Pacer came from the locker-room brandishing a dustpan and swung towards the stands, and a sense of permanent change enclosed the NBA.

The soul-searching and legal maneuvering has already begun. The pundits are debating, yet again, the, at times, unhealthy relationship between fans and the players they in equal parts idolize and despise. Announcer and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton called it the lowest moment in his 30 year affiliation with the league.


The recently announced merger between Sears and Kmart may have surprised casual observers, but what the world is seeing today is the latest in a string of increasingly aggressive maneuvers by Eddie Lampert. Lampert, 42, runs ESL Investments Inc, a $9billion investment firm.

His investment philosophy is largely modeled after his hero, Warren Buffett. Like Buffet Lampert looks for undervalued companies he can easily understand, takes large stakes in them, and then runs them as a de-facto arm of management. Unlike Buffett he looks for companies that have been poorly managed which he believes offers him greater opportunity for returns. In the early 1960’s Warrren Buffett took a stake in a struggling textile company called Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Buffett filed regulatory papers that would allow him to invest excess cash from the company in a variety of ventures. Berkshire Hathaway is now one of the largest investment companies on the planet and the actions of its chairman can sway entire markets. Likewise Lampert took a 53% stake in Kmart, a company that had recently come out of bankruptcy and was decidedly mismanaged. In August of this year the Kmart’s board gave Lampert authority to invest "surplus cash" and his Berkshire Hathaway was in place.

Much of Lampert’s drive is illustrated by the kidnapping that occurred in 2002 while in the middle of negotiations for Kmart. A couple of hapless criminals grabbed him and held him hostage. He literally negotiated his way out of it, promising future payments to the kidnappers. Two days later he was working on closing the deal for Kmart.

Sears’s stock has been moving up sharply in recent weeks, largely because of the perceived value and the shareholders who had taken stakes. Today’s announcement of the combined companies is considered by most watchers to be an indication that Lampert’s new company, Sears Holdings Corp, has its sights set on another target, Wal-Mart. This time not as a takeover candidate but as a retail rival.


Nothing says Christmas like mayhem and murder. With St. Nick peeking his fat ass around the corner we know it’s time for a new slew of anticipated video games to make their debut.

First came Rockstar Game’s uber-violent Grand Theft Auto sequel San Andreas which smashed video games sales records. The game follows a gang-banger as he commits acts of vehicular homicide, random gun violence, and the sort of senseless rage the early GTA’s were so known for.

Next came Microsoft’s much-anticipated follow up to Halo. The first day’s sales exceeded $125 million. Halo 2 took a while to hit the market but Microsoft wanted to make sure the game came out right. Early reviews are positive.

Earlier this year EA Sport’s Madden Football 2005 also exceed the $100 million mark leading many to believe that this holiday season will turn out to the biggest in history for the gaming industry. Industry watchers are waiting for a big holiday season. What’s driving this gaming phenomenon? The maturation of the industry? The decriminalization of pot? The general crappiness of movies? Is it simply a matter of demographics? Whatever it is, the economics of industry is staggering.


Americans aren’t the most inventive people on the planet, but they are the most innovative. Sir Harold Evans makes this claim in his new book on American innovation They Made America that this innovation is what has propelled the upstart nation to its position as world leader. "Invention without innovation is mere pastime" he says, and a PBS series of the same name demonstrates the impact of individuals who harness discovery.

Among the innovators Evans profiles:
Ida Rosenthal, who popularized the bra and helped liberate working women from the corset.
Juan Trippe, creator of the first commercial air service.
Ruth Handler, the woman behind the Barbie doll and Mattel.
CNN's Ted Turner, who helped usher in a new information age.
Lewis Tappan, who built America's credit-rating system and spurred economic growth.
Amadeo Giannini, who, as the first banker to open his doors to the working class, helped boost their fortunes.

Evans first noticed the American innovation dynamic as reporter in England. Many British inventions were turned into flourishing American industries. He wanted to undstand how and why the Americans were so succesful.

"There is a genuine populist impetus here," Evans said. "If you look at the innovators, you have a fruit seller, a clerk, a seamstress, a trucker, a beach taxi pilot, a couple of bicycle mechanics in Dayton. None of them come from the aristocratic classes, and some come from poverty."

While many have attempted to replicate the American ethos of innovation, few have approached her achievement. What lessons can we take forward as we look back?
What now? Since the election many people have asked that question. Some ask out of anticipation, others from dread. What’s next for the Supreme Court? With potentially four vacancies over the next term, President Bush has the opportunity to make over the High Court to his liking.

With talk of Clarence Thomas being the next Chief Justice and the public smack down of pro-choice Republican senator Arlen Specter, and the impact of the religious right on the election, early indications are that the court might have a rightward tilt over the coming years. Is the indicative of the cyclical nature of politics and culture or is there a larger dynamic at work? If the court becomes the bastion of “conservative” politics where will the opposition go to find redress?


The first BCS poll has been released sending college football fans into a frenzy. The (yet again) reworked poll takes the two human polls more into account this year, but that hasn’t removed all controversy.

At the top of the list is perhaps the most storied, and certainly the most glamorous, college football program of all time, The Defending National Champions USC Trojans. From there things get really interesting. Breaking with the human polls the BCS places Miami over Okalahoma in the #2 spot. Other notable top contenders include teams such as the surprising Cal Bears, the Auburn Tigers rebounding nicely from last season, and an undefeated Utah team.

So let’s hear the picks folks. USC having gotten past the tough section of its schedule only has to deal with UCLA before getting into this year’s BCS championship game at the Orange Bowl, but who will meet them there? Will the UTES become the first non-BCS team to make it to a BCS bowl? Who are this season’s winners and who are its losers? And how much longer will America be subjected to the BCS before succumbing to the inevitable playoff system?


Bio-medical giant Chiron has suffered another devastating attack. Last winter a hippie placed bombs at the Chiron headquarters but this latest blow comes from a staunch ally of America; The UK. British regulators have suspended the company?s Liverpool facility, which manufactures all of Chiron?s U.S. flu vaccine.

British regulators said, in effect, that the Chiron plant had failed an inspection of its general manufacturing procedures. The inspection was triggered last month by the company's disclosure in late August that up to 4 million doses of vaccine had been contaminated and had failed a sterility test.

Chiron makes roughly half of all the flu vaccines for America. The shortage is anticipated to cut Chiron's profits by half.

"This is a huge issue," says Geoffrey Porges, a biotechnology analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein. "It's going to be discussed in Congress; it's going to be discussed at the highest levels in the [Centers for Disease Control]. There's a real likelihood that we will see some fundamental changes in the vaccine market and in vaccine oversight."

This is anticipated to be a particularly deadly flu season, so the shortage is especially critical. Already public health officials are imploring healthy Americans to forgo a flu-shot this year.

This impending crisis has been one that drug companies and health care professionals have grappled with for a while. Flu shots are generally purchased by the government, making the cost low, and subsequently, lowering the incentive for drug companies to manufacture the vaccine. Some have proposed deregulating even more the flu vaccine market in order to encourage other companies to manufacture the vital medicine. Others have suggested alternative solutions to the shot. Regardless of future solutions, this winter will certainly be deadly to the weakest among us.

The news is devastating to Chiron's immediate financial future. Shares were down sharply:

Heavy trading on the news wiped out $1.4 billion in market capitalization from the company within hours. Analysts said the unexpected regulatory action was not only a blow to Chiron but also a public health disaster.


While audiences applaud a new movie about Ernesto Che Guevara at the Sundance Film Festival others are fighting another aspect of his legacy, the brutal regime engineered by him and overseen by Castro. Raúl Rivero, a new resident of Che’s “labor camps” (which are really a system used to imprison dissidents, gays, and AIDS victims) is at the center of a new movement to bring a ray of democratic reform to the island country. A poet, Rivero is serving a 20 year sentence for acting “against Cuban independence”, and offers a striking parallel to Che’s tragically-hip mass murder. Rivero’s arrest comes in lockstep with the Cuban crackdown on librarians who are working to have some modicum of freedom when it comes to selecting books.

What’s striking to some is that while the world seems outraged, Americans by and large seem unconcerned. Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa have written a piece that has found it way Le Monde and other major newspapers, yet it barely registers in the States. Nat Hentoff has blasted the American Library Association for turning a blind eye to the situation in Cuba. Amnesty International has condemned the actions of Cuba, and yet barely a ripple in American papers. Perhaps America’s fawning worship of Che is wholly incompatible with defending those who are imprisoned and killed by the system he’s created.


Turns out I'm a "stoned slacker". I wonder what that makes O’Reilly's views.


Does the media lean to the Left or to the Right? An interesting question in most times, a vital question today as America runs up to the most important election of modern times. While the pajama-clad revolutionaries trumpeted CBS’ folly as being indicative of a left-leaning bias, Ethan Rarick asks us to go back to the recent past for perspective.

Just four months ago, lest we forget, the New York Times issued its own mea culpa, acknowledging the repeated use of dubious information in its coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War and the Bush administration's repeated assertions that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. In the case of one story, the Times flat-out said it was duped, although it used the more decorous phrase "taken in."

While the bias of “the media” is understandable only in the context of one’s own political perspective, it’s vital to question the motives of news organizations, especially as the ramifications grow.

Comparing CBS’ mea culpa with the NY Times’ Rarick writes,

The two media apologies have a lot in common. In both cases, the issues involved have major implications for the presidential campaign. In both cases, a well-known national news organization admitted sloppy reporting and acknowledged that critical information could not be verified. In both cases, reporters were overly credulous in dealing with sources who had a political interest at stake -- in the CBS case the former Guardsman who is a vehement Bush opponent, in the New York Times case the Bush administration officials defending the president's decision to attack Iraq. The critical difference between the two stories is that the Times' mistake was actually the far more serious of the two.

Left leaning or Right? Does it matter or not? If democracy requires an informed populace, whom can we believe? Who can we trust?


The only other officer from the swift boats incident speaks.
With intensive troop engagements in the Middle East the White House faces a conundrum, how can troop levels be maintained and still win the election?

The recent troop realignment plan potentially offers some deployment flexibility. Some Democrats have suggested a draft to keep troop levels at necessary levels, but it's the Bush administration's use of the "stop-loss" program that is generating controversy.

After the 9/11 attacks the Pentagon implemented a stop-loss program intended to keep seasoned soldiers in the military. It's based on an emergency provision that can enacted during extraordinary circumstances. Some consider this policy to be in actuality a back door draft. Now a soldier, known as John Doe, is suing Donald Rumsfeld claiming the program is illegal.

The lawsuit asserts the emergency policy instituted in the wake of the September 11 attacks was "invalid" because the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein has been removed from power and "Iraq cannot be considered to pose a threat of terrorist attack upon the United States."

Some believe the legal merits of the case are specious at best, but since this is an issue largely driven by politics, public opinion matters. The White House and America struggle to balance decreasing troop levels, increasing military engagements, and the sense of fairness that defines who we are.


Josh with a thorough, and provactive fisking of Doug Feith.


The CIA asked Bush to discontinue his blog. Frankly, it's about time.


One of the all time great television shows will be grappling with gay marriage next season, and already a controversy is erupting around what's promising to be a blockbuster episode. When Springfield approves gay marriage, one of the long-running characters from The Simpsons comes out of the closest. Speculation abounds as to who it will be.
While the early (and dare I say, dumb) money is on the all-too obvious  Waylon Smithers, (who after all would never endanger his proximity to his immortal beloved by proclaiming his gayness) other contenders has Simpsonphiles abuzz.

Will it be Selma or Patty Bouvier? One's unsuccessful marriages might cause her to give up men, while the other's noticeable lack of men makes her a candidate. Rev. Lovejoy is in the prime, gay-male demographic.  Surprisingly little is known about Kent Brockman's love life. Or perhaps Barney Gumble's excessive drinking is partially fueled by the inner turmoil that can afflict a gay man trying to pass in a straight world.  Or perhaps it's the show's hyper-violent Bert and Ernie, Itchy and Scratchy.

America demands answers. Who will smash their way out of the closet on the Simpsons?


Orrin Hatch once again proving he is the biggest foe to technological innovation in Congress, has sponsored the  Copyright Infringement Act of 2004 . The law, as written, is intended to make it illegal for companies to make and sell devices that could be used for copyright infringement.  (Essentially overruling the Sony Betamax ruling)

Hollywood will be allowed to dictate the limits of innovation. If that doesn't make you nervous, I don't know what will.


"To take revenge is often to sacrifice oneself"-Unknown

Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza have a history. Their past relationship can be best described as "strained". So the lead up to this year's All-Star game centered around how the former rivals would fare as battery mates. 35 pitches later baseball fans (and conspiracy theorists) have their answer. Clemens gave up 6 runs and two homers in the first inning leading some to believe that Piazza exacted his revenge by tipping The Rocket's pitches. Pitchers have been shelled before, but it was the manner in which Clemen's got hammered that has tongues wagging. All but one of the hits were fastballs that were pulled. (Including Manny's 0-2 inside fastball that was jacked so hard it led commentators to suggest "he knew it was coming").

But this week isn't all about revenge, it's about showcasing the stars of Major League Baseball. From the collection of all the living men who have hit 500 or more home runs, to Nick Lachey and Cecil Fielder taking the field together, this event was filled with unique moments. What was your favorite moment from the All-Star extravaganza?
Perry with some advice for Ditka, don't say you're going to outlaw abortion in your first interview.


Glenn with a great point about the gay marriage exercise in futility.


Blogs and the mainstream politicians. Still an uneasy alliance.
Josh with some interesting points about the latest Wilson/Plame developments.
Punitive liberalism explained at last.


Of the 100 largest economic entities, 51 are corporations. That's the good news. The bad news is that the first corporation doesn't show up until #23.


Shortly after 9/11, when the nation's airports were closed, it's long been rumored that three Saudi men were allowed to fly out of the country. For three years the White House has denied the flight ever occurred. It did.


For those of us who like to carry the greatest document ever in their pocket....


Throughout history, even the bitterest of enemies have commonly begun peace negotiations while the fighting still raged. And right now, smack in the middle of our self-styled war on terror, it may also make sense for us to start exploring possible paths to peace.

John Arquilla, a professor of defense analysis at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School,argues that negotiating with terrorists is the answer. Arquilla notes that every conflict since WWII the U.S. has engaged in has resulted in some negotiated compromise.

The biggest obstacle? Political will. Appearing weak before the America voters is an almost unthinkable position for politicians. But before the political ramifications are played at home it's worth entertaining the thought that a negotiated settlement offers another way. Is it capitulation that will only serve to bolster the courage of the "evil-doers"? Or is it a rational response to address an almost unfathomable conflict? Will a negotiated peace hold when almost all the actors on one side are a loosely connected group beholden neither to statehood nor the dictates of elections? What lessons have been learned from the success and failures of similar, previously negotiated settlements? Is it weakness or pragmatism to look for alternatives to absolute victory over terrorism?


Thank you all for the great emails about Reagan. It's wonderful to think about a man and the relationship he might have with a nation.


“When the lord calls me home, whenever that day may be. I will leave with the greatest love for this country and eternal optimism for its future”-Ronald Reagan November 5, 1984

Former President Ronald Reagan has died.

Born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois, Ronald Reagan played football and acted in college. First a radio personality, and later an actor, Reagan parlayed his celebrity to become president of the Screen Actors Guild. Embroiled in battles over Communism’s penetration of Hollywood, Reagan became a conservative, and a political icon was born.

Reagan was elected Governor of California in 1966 and oversaw many of the state’s most tumultuous years. Later he ran against Jimmy Carter, the malaise that afflicted America, and Communism. On January 20, 1981, Ronald Reagan took office as the President of the United States. A radical form of conservatism was reborn, and America’s political landscape was changed forever.

Perhaps the least appreciated or most subtle part of the Reagan legacy is his unbounded optimism and faith that America's future is bright as long as America remains true to its principles. To Reagan, as he reiterated at the 1992 Republican National Convention, America can be forever young.

But a renewed sense of the possible wasn’t the only legacy left by Reagan.

-The “Reagan Doctrine” believed that the Soviet Empire needed to be ended for the peace and prosperity of the globe. He spent billions of dollars to wage a militarily cold, yet economically hot, war against the “Evil Empire”. Reagan’s policy of “Peace through Strength” hastened the end of the Soviet Union and ultimately brought democracy and capitalism to the far corners of the world.

-Reagan strongly believed that the size and scope of the government should be reduced in non-essential areas. Second only to military rearmament, tax cuts were the priority of the early Reagan administration. He worked to reduce the marginal tax rate to spur economic growth. While deficits occurred over the short term, he brought in an era of unprecedented growth and economic vitality. He oversaw an economic expansion that lasted for 93 months. The expansion continued for the length of his taxation policy, ending once his successor George Bush deviated from the Reagan economic textbook.

-The Reagan years were also marked by the scandal of the Iran-Contra affair. Selling arms to Iran in exchange for a release of seven U.S. hostages held in Lebanon was in direct conflict with the administration’s stated position. When the clandestine trade was exposed it was discovered that some of the funds had been siphoned off to support the Contras in Nicaragua. While there were clear violations of law, and the President’s image had been tarnished, Reagan remains the most popular modern President.

President Reagan survived scandal and assassination attempts. He battled the Evil Empire and the crushing weight of American self-doubt. Through it all he always believed in America and her ideals. A patriot in the most generous sense of the word, Ronald Reagan gave generations of Americans a new perspective from which to view the world.

We've done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for 8 years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren't just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.
-President Ronald Wilson Reagan, Farewell Address to the Nation, January 20th, 1989.


We pay orthodontists an average of $350,000, and no one would say that their impact on the lives of kids is greater than a teacher's.

Dave Eggers writes another Heart Breaking Tale, this one about teachers. Why does America, he wonders, have such a conflicted relationship with teachers? On one hand they are viewed as saints, caregivers, custodians of our collective futures, on the other, they get paid less than many other professions that have relatively less impact on societal well being.

The latest statistics put the average teacher's salary at about $46,000; some teachers earn a little more, some a little less (the average teacher's salaryÂ?not the starting salaryÂ?is $38,000 in Kansas, $36,000 in New Mexico, and $32,000 in South Dakota). Overall, that's about the same that we pay pile-driver operators ($45,980) and about $8,000 less than the average elevator repairman pulls down. Meanwhile, a San Francisco dockworker makes about $115,000, while the clerk who logs shipping records into the longshoreman's computer makes $136,000.

Some of the conflict in people's minds may stem from the view that teachers and their unions are more concerned with their job security than with educating the young. Other's consider salary not to be the true indicator of the esteem in which we hold various professions, (noting that the President of the US gets paid less than the man who greenlighted The Swan). Eggers retorts, "When teachers are forced to tend the yards of students' homes, to clean houses, or to sell stereos on nights and weekends, the quality of education is diminished, the profession is disrespected, and we parody the notion that we hold our schools and teachers in the highest regard."


Finally! Donald Rumsfeld's words have been turned from poetry to song.

The Unknown

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.


From the "I don't know whether to laugh or cry" department; Last April Don Emilio Fulci, a shadowy terrorist, made it to the top of the government's daily threat briefing. The FBI discovered he planned chemical attacks on London and Washington D.C. When the attacks never came an enterprising staffer Googled Fulci and was surprised to find he was actually a character from the video game Headhunter.


Amazing and shocking photos from Iraq.
Michael Jordan was one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Endowed with seemlessly endless athletic prowess, he was humbled by the intense hand-eye requirements of hitting a breaking ball. Rugby players, collegiate wrestlers, hoopsters, and armchair QB’s have long argued which sport is the most difficult. ESPN has set out to settle this issue once and for all.

Jim Caple described the challenge facing the committee:

What is the most important element in athletics, anyway?

Is it strength? Endurance? Speed and quickness? Hand-eye coordination? The ability to withstand physical pain and mental stress? Ability to block out nerves and fear to focus on the task at hand when 50,000 fans are screaming? A combination of all those? If so, what combination?… We polled Olympic trainers and multi-sport athletes. We created a spreadsheet ranking 60 sports and breaking each into 10 categories of athleticism. We asked players who they thought were the greatest athletes and what the most amazing thing they ever saw another athlete do (we heard a lot of Bo Jackson stories).

The athlete’s arguments for their sports are telling and poignant, and further reflects what a difficult task it is to quantify athletic prowess. So while ESPN.com has proven that boxing is the most difficult sport, and Jim Brown the greatest all-around athlete, I’d like to hear your views.


"They don't have to worry because I do not pose any danger. I deserve a fair chance."- Cary Verse, recently released sex offender.

California communities are struggling to balance justice and fairness with community safety. A number of recent, and soon to be released, violent sexual predators are looking for places to stay. Not surprisingly, many of the communities where these ex-cons are placed are fighting to keep them out of their town and away from their children.

The battle over the placement of recently paroled sex offenders took an ugly and unusual turn with the spill over from the Cary Verse situation. After being shuttled from city to city, Verse ended up in Oakland’s St. Patrick's Abbey. The Rev. Donald Weeks uses the abbey as a halfway house, helping slews of ex-cons gets their footing and ideally working their way back into society. When local residents found out that Verse would be staying at the Abbey (which until recently, was located across from a school) the predictable outrage ensued. Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente saw an issue with legs and led the ensuing campaign against St. Patrick’s Abbey and the Rev. Donald Weeks. First a variety of code violations were levied against the Abbey. When the Rev. vowed to stay and fight the Councilman he was arrested on child molestation charges. The abbey was closed and the ex-cons, including Verse, were dispersed. Soon afterwards the charges against Rev. Weeks were dropped when a cursory investigation proved that the accused wasn’t in California at the time of the alleged incidents. Though Weeks was released from jail the police maintain, “the book on the case is still open”. Week’s attorney John Burris considers the case little more than a witchunt, noting, "Any reasonable investigation by the Oakland Police Department would have shown that it could not have happened in the location or the time period in which the allegations were made,'' Burris said. "There was no crime. There was no underage victim. This all could have been proven without arresting Father Weeks and ruining his life.''

Few people, (and even fewer with children) would like to live near a sexual predator but California is increasingly confronted with the issue of placing convicted sexual deviants once they are paroled. As Rev. Weeks discovered, forgiveness isn’t always free.


California lawmakers are attempting to head off a crisis in the worker?s compensation system by authoring bipartisan legislation intended to cure the increasingly problematic system.

California's 91-year-old system has been troubled for the better part of the past decade. But with premiums doubling and tripling, the economy stagnant and businesses threatening to leave the state, fixing it has become a priority for lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The system is costly (payments have increased from $6.4 billion in 1997 to an estimated $25 billion in 2003), confusing, and rife with fraud and mismanagement. California employers pay the highest workers? comp premiums in the nation and yet payouts fall well short of most other states. Legislators have been cajoled by the governor to come up with meaningful changes or face a ballot initiative mandating structural changes. While all sides agree the current system is unworkable, the details of the reform are hotly contested.

Some of the hottest sticking points are:
--Stricter guidelines for permanent-partial disabilities Permanent disabilities makes up to an estimated 80% of all costs. Employers desire stricter oversight in this area.
-- Physician choice Employers want more say over the doctors who make treatment recommendations.
-- Rate regulation and immediate benefits Labor would like the anticipated cost savings of reform passed on to employers rather than to insurance companies.

Schwarzenegger wants to require doctors to use "objective medical findings" to determine if an employee has a work-related injury. Injuries would have to be "reproducible, measurable or observable." He also wants to require employees to show that a cumulative injury -- one that develops over time -- was substantially caused by work.

Another troublesome factor is the disproportional payouts for different industries. For instance, the payout for workers in the construction industry or farm workers are considerably higher than many white collar professions, like the currently depressed IT industry. This discrepancy is so worrysome that some industries are examining their own, separate solutions.

While late word has lawmakers close on general terms, it appears that the major overhaul demanded by most won't occur in this proposal.
At this moment in time, like "Seinfeld" before it, "Arrested Development" is an under appreciated slice of comedic perfection, its writing so good as to be staggering and the acting both subtle and wildly physical, a meshing of words and deeds we haven't seen since, well, since "Seinfeld."-Tim Goodman, San Francisco Chronicle

Critically praised, but lightly watched, Arrested Development is struggling for its life on Fox. The laugh-track free show centers around Justin Bateman’s straight man Michael Bluth. He's a responsible widower who works to raise a son and run a business while the company’s founder (and Michael’s father) sits in prison awaiting trail for corporate malfeasance. Such notables round out the cast as Mr. Show’s David Cross (who is a never-nude), Jessica Walter as the deliciously drunken WASP Kitty Bluth, and Portia de Rossi as Michael’s twin sister Lindsay.

Fox is well known for taking critically acclaimed shows off the air before an audience can be found and replacing it with cheaper, more profitable programming. The wit and relative depth of the show isn’t making it any easier. Bateman describes the challenge well, Bateman says: "The show is unpredictable, and it takes time to get it. You miss a word in the first act, and four jokes in the third act aren't going to pay off. That's one of the reasons we are having problems building an audience."

So folks warm up the Tivos, and catch what just might be the funniest sitcom in some time before it’s gone for good.


In the wake of Clarke's apology to families of 9/11 a reporter apologizes for the media's tepid response to the ramp-up to war.


The F.B.I. and D.H.S. are creating a program that will allow private companies to screen individuals against their terror database. (I'm sure there is no cause for concern)
Booger eaters rejoice! It's good for you.


The folks who brought us the Scopes trial have passed a measure making it illegal for homosexuals to live in Rhea County.


The Bush Administration has come under heavy criticism for a series of television spots that defend the President's position on Medicare. Unlike typical campaign commercials, these segments are intended to look like news broadcasts. The Department of Health and Human Services is releasing the segments, complete with fake reporters and talking points for local newscasters. Home Front Communications, which produced the segments, offers guidance to news agencies:

In one script, the administration suggests that anchors use this language: "In December, President Bush signed into law the first-ever prescription drug benefit for people with Medicare. Since then, there have been a lot of questions about how the law will help older Americans and people with disabilities. Reporter Karen Ryan helps sort through the details."

(It appears that Karen Ryan is an actor rather than a reporter)

The GAO is investigating if the videos are actually "covert propaganda". Kevin W. Keane, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services claims this is not a new practice, "The use of video news releases is a common, routine practice in government and the private sector," Mr. Keane said. "Anyone who has questions about this practice needs to do some research on modern public information tools."

With even some conservatives concerned about the soaring cost of Medicare, the issue appears to be important to the coming campaign.


The financially battered West Contra Costa schools were in an uproar Tuesday after the school board became the first in California to pull the plug on high school sports in a sweeping series of cuts that will also close school libraries and eliminate music programs.

The cuts came shortly after voters in the district shot down a new round of funding for the schools. It wasn't long after the ruling that the impact was truly felt. Fiscal woes have beleaguered the district for some time, but they are not alone in the region. The Mt. Diablo school district is considering charging kids $100 to participate in after school sports. (an idea currently in use by other districts around the country.)

Some consider sports to be a trivial pursuit. Others suggest the loss of access to teams and competition that fuel personal development to be something that is desperately needed by those most at risk. Some have attempted to rally professional athletes and local sports organizations for help. (No word yet from musicians or librarians). Since this story plays out in various versions again, and again, what can be done?


The uber-powerful pension fund California Public Employees' Retirement System said it will withhold its votes for Disney CEO Michael Eisner. This is a staggering blow to Eisner's efforts to retain control of the media giant.


Rap is corny. What once was a vital, interesting subgenre of music has become little more than, in the words of Slate?s Sasha Frere-Jones, ?a retread of Mafia clich?s, letters to Penthouse, or Rolex commercials.?

There are some buzz worthy exceptions, including the rising star Kayne West, whose stylings are anything but ?corny?.

?West is a comedian, social critic, hedonist, and Christian?, an earnest satirist who seems to enjoy poking fun at himself as much as he does rap conventions.

From the other side of the pond comes East London?s Dizzee Rascal. Widely successful and a genre buster Dizzee is leading the way with a style called Eskimo Dance (or Eski, or more commercially, Grime).

Dizzee and his peers are descended from the U.K. garage scene. But garage, a light, syncopated blend of house music with flashes of American R & B and Jamaican music, is suited to the sweet and sincere?Sweet and sincere do not describe Dizzee particularly well?The tempos are faster than hip-hop's. Jay-Z, for example, favors the 100 beats per minute range. Grime lives around 130 BPM, a zone of urgency and movement. 50 Cent sounds like Simon and Garfunkel next to Dizzee Rascal.

Dizzee and West may be interesting but they are clearly different from what?s going on in hip-hop in general. Is there a way out of the artistic and stylistic morass mainstream rap has found itself in? Maybe it needs to embrace the fact that for now, rap is pop.
You can spread some sunshine to couples waiting to get married outside of City Hall in San Francisco; send them flowers!


A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law.-Dr. Martin Luther King

Civil disobedience or just plain disobedience? San Franciso Mayor Gavin Newsom's stunning announcement to offer marriage licenses to same sex couples is causing some to wonder if he's not losing whatever moral high ground he held. His Hounour has made no bones about the fact that his intent is to force the legality of bans against same sex marriage, a law he clearly feels is unjust. While some argue that he's engaged in the sort of noble act that would make Dr. King proud others say he's actually usurping the will of the people he has sworn to uphold. Comparing Newsom to Roy Moore Rod Dreher wonders:

why was it wrong for Judge Roy Moore of Alabama to unilaterally declare federal law wrong, and defy it by installing a Ten Commandments monument in a courthouse rotunda ... but it's okay for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to unilaterally declare state law wrong in prohibiting same-sex marriage, and defy it by issuing marriage licenses to gay couples?


An Afghan boy who was at Guantanamo reports that he had a good time.


If this isn't the worst toy ever, I don't know what is.


Man dies from too much weed. Drug warriors rejoice!!
The World Economic Forum decides to chill as they plot world domination.


FIFA president suggests ways to raise interest in the women's game.


One of the most significant side effects of 9/11 is how international travel has been impacted. The ability for a variety of people around the word to meet, recreate, and conduct business was a vital and robust part of economic and cultural exchange. The delays and headaches of travel since that fateful day have been well documented, and the fallout continues.

The United States, in an effort to better track the comings and goings of foreign visitors recently implemented a program to fingerprint and photograph many who enter the country with a visa.

Despite significant concerns, the travel industry appears to be mollified that the system works well. Logistically most were pleased “the problems were minimal and that the procedure added perhaps a minute at most to immigration processing.”

As always in matters such as these, some wonder if the delicate balance between liberty and security was tipped in a dire direction. Also cause for concern is how this might impact America’s perception by other nations. Brazil recently began a retaliatory fingerprinting program aimed at American tourists entering their country. The program is being lobbied against heavily by Rio and other tourist-centric Brazilian cities. Ironically proving once again how desperately people thirst for unfettered travel.


America’s efforts to bring terror suspects to trial has suffered some embarrassing setbacks in recent weeks. The decision to try some suspects in special military tribunals and other’s in federal courtrooms has been perceived by some to be unfair or unjust and certainly has the taint of arbitrariness. The conundrum, as Thomas Powers writes, is that there is a need for openness and due process that is at odds with the premium placed on secrecy.

Ordinary criminal courts are not designed for trying terrorism suspects. As a practical matter, they do not routinely provide the kind of security for witnesses, judges, and jurors that is required where terrorist attack and reprisal are a concern. More important, they cannot meet the need for secrecy that may arise from the use of sensitive testimony derived from confidential sources.

He suggests that a third way should be embarked upon, federal terrorism courts.

To deal with terrorism cases that could be handled under the ordinary criminal law (as were, for example, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, and the case of Zacarias Moussaoui), Congress should create a new specialized court. This terrorism court would incorporate special security measures, protect the secrecy of sensitive information and sources, and make provision in its evidentiary rules for the peculiar situations arising from operations on a battlefield or its equivalent. Terror suspects should know the charges against them, have access to attorneys (specially trained, with the proper security clearances), and enjoy a right of appeal. To ensure independence from executive branch influence, federal judges with lifetime appointments should fill the bench. A terrorism court would provide a framework for the emergence of a body of precedent and the development of a cadre of specially trained expert judges and lawyers. There is some precedent for a roughly similar arrangement in the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, created in 1978 and expanded under the Patriot Act.

If the rule of law is to be used to combat the horrors of terrorism is there a way to balance the need for secrecy with the desire for justice?