Thursday, April 29, 2010

A line in the sand

Pundits and loudmouths from coast to coast, liberal and conservative alike, are having a field day now that Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law legislation giving the state's law enforcement officers greater powers when it comes to fighting illegal immigration.

"Governor Brewer has to be held responsible for signing what is now an international shame on the state of Arizona," said Jennifer Allen, executive-director of Border Action Network, an immigrant rights group in an MSNBC story. My favorite part of the story is in the lede graf: "...opponents used refried beans to smear swastikas on the state Capitol."

Apparently, anyone who has not vowed to fight this law with Adamantium resolve is a racist Nazi (is that redundant?), and those protesting against it are bleeding-heart liberal day laborers out to ruin America. And me? What do I think? Well...

I'd first like to point out the opponents have already violated Godwin's Law so make of that what you will.

I'm in favor of the law. I ask you this: What is so wrong about asking cops to enforce all of the laws? If you're breaking the law, you're breaking the law and you can be arrested. If that law happens to be an immigration law, hey, guess what? You're going back home.

The big argument folks have against this is they say immigration is a federal matter and states aren't allowed to interfere with that prerogative. I call bullshit on that for a couple of reasons. National security is also a federal matter, but do you think local cops are going to stop investigating that strange fellow getting shipments of fertilizer and diesel fuel? Controlling illegal immigration is a national security matter too. How hard do you think it will be for some of those groups around the world who hate America and Americans (it doesn't matter what color you are or whether you're a Republican, Democrat or Tea bagger, they hate you just the same) to send a couple of their disciples across the Mexico-Arizona border? Probably not that hard.

Also, seeing as how we in D.C. live far, far away from that line in the hot, dry desert sand, we probably don't realize there is an actual war going on in northern Mexico that often ends up in Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico. Mexican cops and soldiers south of the border are getting killed by drug gangs faster than our troops are in Iraq and Afghanistan. This drug war, a real war unlike the one our government has been unsuccessfully waging for decades, is a real shooting war and it's spilling over into the U.S.

Since I'm not going to go into the objections point-by-point, you can read a really good explanation by Kris Kobach, who helped write Arizona's law, on the NYT's op-ed page here. Here's some more good coverage and analysis from the NYT, and the local POV from AZCentral.

Couple more points: The Supremes have ruled in the past that police are not violating the Fourth Amendment by asking you for ID when they suspect you're violating the law. Also, despite the Border Action Network's intent (love the acronym: BAN, think they might want to rethink that?) to sign up voters against the law to vote the governor out in November, 70 percent of likely Arizona voters support the law. Finally, try walking around Mexico or any other country without your passport. See what happens if you get stopped by the police

What do you think? Tell me I'm right or tell me I'm a racist in the comments. But I leave you with this thought: What part of illegal immigration is so difficult to understand?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hear that? It may be the NCAA's death rattle

Read an interesting article in the NYT a couple of days ago. It was about college sports … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz … Yes, ladies, I can see your attention wandering already. I understand, that’s why I try to stay away from sports here, at least as much as possible. But this one was kinda interesting. Trust.

Anyway, the article was about possible expansion of the Big 10 which, strangely enough, has 11 teams since Penn State joined up (they even worked the "11" into their logo). This has, sadly, left them one team short of the 12 necessary required by the NCAA to hold a season-ending football championship game. Games, I might add, bring in boatloads of cash to the conferences that currently have them (see Big 12, Southeaster Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference).

But it didn’t stop there. The article went on to a more interesting prospect: continued expansion of not just the Big 10 but also the SEC, Pacific 10 and ACC. Sports guys and gals will notice two big BCS exclusions from that list: The Big 12 (which actually does have 12 teams) and the Big East.

The reason for their exclusion from the list of conferences looking to expand is because, the article goes on to say, the other four conferences will probably be expanding at the Big 12 and Big East’s expense.

The article stated: “Eventually, said Jake Crouthamel, Syracuse’s former athletic director, he saw the Big Ten, the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Southeastern Conference and the Pacific-10 forming four 16-team super-conferences and leaving the umbrella of the NCAA (Just imagine the fight between the SEC and the Pac-10 for Texas.) He said that those leagues would form their own basketball tournament to rival the NCAA tournament.”

Interesting. At least to me, because the most recent major conference expansion was at the singular expense of the Big East when Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College joined the ACC. Apparently the Big East is the college sports equivalent of Milhouse Van Houten. This forced the Big East to raid Conference USA, adding Louisville, Cincinnati and the University of South Florida.

How might a future expansion go? Well, let’s take a look at how the conferences stand now. First the four “big” conferences:

Boston College
Florida State
Georgia Tech
North Carolina
NC State
Virginia Tech
Wake Forrest

Pac 10
Arizona State
Oregon State
Washington State

Louisiana State
Mississippi State
South Carolina

Big 10
Michigan State
Ohio State
Penn State

That’s 45 teams, 19 short of the 64 teams needed for the four super-conferences. Now let’s see which schools are available for raiding…er, I mean expansion:

Big 12
Iowa State
Kansas State
Oklahoma State
Texas A&M
Texas Tech

Big East*
South Florida
West Virginia

(*Note, these are just the schools that play football in the Big East. It has 16 member schools for men's basketball.)

That’s 20 teams to choose from, 21 if you count the eternal spinster-tease Notre Dame. Only 19 are needed to fill out the super-conferences so which two, assuming the Irish fling off their prom dress and finally get it on with a power conference, get left without a chair when the music stops?

It’s not as easy as you’d think. You can’t just draw some lines on the map and say these teams go here and these go there. There are other considerations like television markets and traditional rivalries. The three big rivalries that come to mind are Texas-Texas A&M, Texas-Oklahoma and Pitt-WVU. So, for any expansion let’s consider these teams joined at the hip. Wither one goest, so does the other.

The other question, TV markets, is a little tougher. Only few of these schools are in really big television markets, Rutgers in #1 NY-NJ market, Texas and Texas A&M (they have a couple to choose from, #s 5, 10, 37 and 48). Other choice prizes are, strangely, South Florida # 14, Colorado #16 Missouri #21 and Pittsburgh #23. Seven others, 10 if you count Baylor and Texas Tech in the same category as Texas and A&M, and Notre Dame because of its strange, national allure, fall in the to 50.

So, how does it work out? Which conferences get which schools? This is how I see it shaking out:

The Big 10 needs five so it will get Pitt, WVU, Iowa State, Nebraska and Missouri. Probably not what it's looking for when it comes to TV markets, but it does add a great Pitt-Penn State rivalry to the mix.

The Pac 10’s six pick-ups are Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Kansas and Kansas State. Again, not stellar gets, but not bad considering it gives the conference an in in the Texas-Oklahoma recruiting landscape.

The SEC wins the battle for the Lone Star State adding Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Cincinnati. The first three are huge additions to what is probably the premiere football conference in the country. Cincinnati is the lucky plain girl with hot friends.

The schools joining the ACC are Rutgers, South Florida, UConn and Syracuse. TV-wise, the ACC probably wins the biggest, digging itself in deeper than a deer tick in the lucrative East Coast media markets.

The school left out? Louisville. If Notre Dame drops its panties it'll probably go into the Big 10 bumping Iowa State to the Pac 10, thereby leaving Baylor also out in the cold looking for a date (there's always C-USA). The only really hard decision was splitting Oklahoma and Oklahoma State up. But I think they’ll get over it with the increased coin they see in their school’s coffers.

And all of this doesn’t take into consideration two things: One, Notre Dame getting drunk and jumping into bed with the Big 10 before any of this can happen; and, two, the four conferences swapping some of the other teams around to make for more compact geographical footprints. Say, original ACC member South Carolina rejoining the conference for South Florida going into the SEC.

What do you think of the possible future awaiting major college sports? Tell me in the comments.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Head slap

Yet another in the long, long, long list of things all of us should have thought of but didn't. The WaPo article about the this iPhone app for that very special time of the month is hilarious.

[Hand to forehead!]

[Slapping sound!]

That little woman symbol with the horns is especially cute.a


Just wanted to send a big Thank You out to LiLu at DC Blogs for picking humble ol' me and my weekend pictures of Eastern Market (below) for her blog round up on Tuesday. Also, she showed very good taste in her choice of pictures for the section header. I offered her the picture below (also shot at Eastern Market on Saturday), which I call "Hey, nice boots..." but she decided to go a different direction. Probably for the best.

Again, many, many thanks LiLu.

Also, to Famous DC for its mention Wednesday of my Eastern Market pics. I'd especially like to thank whomever it was that chose the link address: I really like the part about "incredible-photography."

Did I mention I was humble?

Monday, April 19, 2010

A trip to the Market, Eastern Market that is

Yes, yes, I know, this is kinda-sorta turning into photo blog. But, in my defense, I've been taking a lot of pictures lately (as my computer keeps telling me when it notifies me I'm running out of back-up space), and I like putting them up here.

The first bunch are from my walk around Eastern Market on Saturday. The weather was nice, cool but clear and, as long as you kept moving, not too, too cold. Perfect for a day of rummaging around through other peoples' junk looking for that overlooked treasure.

One thing I did notice about this set of pictures is I spent a lot of time looking either up or down. Very few of the shots (that I liked) were shot on the straight and level. And, in some cases, they're shot from a very low perspective.

Did anyone see my magic carpet? I know I parked it around here somewhere...

For some reason, this thing just creeped me out. The dress is nice, but is it really that exciting?

I liked this frog, but I didn't like it $119 worth.

Colors, reflections, what more could you ask for?

If you look very, very, very close, you can see me. Sorta.

Someone looks like they're not enjoying Eastern Market as much as everyone else. Perhaps it's because his legs are so much shorter?

A skilled pair of hands. I was back on Sunday as well, walking around with a friend, and the artist was still working on this same panel.

Ditto for the kid above.

This photo and the next are of artist Jackson Collins. Painting is by no means a neat endeavor. Oh, and his pictures are pretty good as well.

And now on to the next set. While I was waiting for Metro, I decided to play around a bit with some pictures. All I can say is god bless digital. The ability to look at the picture right after you take it is, in a term, life-changing. Being able to make adjustments on the fly to shutter speed and aperture makes picture taking so much more enjoyable.
Anyway, as you can see, this set of pics (Eastern Market and L'Enfant Plaza) the exposures are kinda long, about a half second. Next time I try this I'm definitely using my monopod to stabilize the shots, but these didn't turn out so bad. Also, it's kinda interesting, when a train is coming into the station, how still people stand. And for that I'm thankful.
At Eastern Market
If you look between the girl in the middle and the guy on the right in the picture below, you can still see the ghostly image of the "Eastern Market" sign through the windows of the train. Cool.

At L'Enfant

Hope everyone's week is off to a good start.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs...

So I'm back from NYC. OK, I've been back for almost a week, but with work and all I haven't been able to get around to posting my pictures.

As you can see, I was staying right on Times Square at 45th and Broadway. Pretty sweet digs. Anyway, for this small-town D.C. boy, the first thing that struck me was all the signs. You can't escape them.

Also, Holy Swarm of People, Batman! It was like a never ending Cherry Blossom Festival. Everyone just wandering this way and that, no particular destination and, like myself, looking up all the time. You couldn't help it. Even if you tried.

Here's one I found interesting. The guy was advertising "the ultimate stimulus" package. I don't know if he was talking about his own or the condoms and I didn't ask.

This one kinda made me want to laugh. A giant J-Date sign that threw up the pictures of couples it had matched. Kind of like a giant electronic shadchen.

I also thought this was a pretty interesting idea. On top of one of the ticket brokers' box office, they've built a kind of grand stand. You can just sit there on the red-lit steps and watch the whole world go by. The statue there is of Father Francis P. Duffy who served with the "Fighting Irish" of the 69th New York in World War I.

For anyone who doesn't know, parts of Broadway have been closed to traffic and are now a pedestrian mall. I kind of like it. A very town square kind of feel. You can just go out there, grab a table if one's available and lounge away.

As the son of an engineer, a man who worked on many of the buildings and bridges (no kidding, one of his first jobs out of college) in NYC, I find buildings and bridges very interesting. More so because, even though I love the classical design of much of Washington, we don't have anything like this:

Here's a close up on the windows, pretty cool:

This is a nearby building. I really like the shapes and what they did with the glass:

Again, a close up:
One more sign picture. At least he's honest.

I saw this guy twice, once in Times Square on Sunday night and again the next day down by Penn Station. Apparently the weed doesn't impair his mobility.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Start spreading the news...

Live from NYC it's the Foggy Dew.

Yep, in the Big Apple for a little work thing, but it's been forever and a day since I've been here - last time I spent the night in the 212 was, I think, October 2002. But that's neither here nor there...well, it is here but you know what I mean.

Impressions so far: People in NYC have just as much a clue about walking as D.C. folks. Notice I didn't say New Yorkers, just the people in the city. They could be tourists just as much as the folks who walk around Washington four abreast on a sidewalk that would be lucky to hold three of them. Also, they seem to walk slower. Don't know why I think that, but it could be because while I was hauling a computer bag and a one-suiter, it seemed like everyone else was c-r-a-w-l-i-n-g.

The streets of NYC seem to always be in the shade, I'm guessing it has something to do with the buildings looming on all sides. I sometime hear complaints about how D.C. is a low city with no majestic buildings, but the streets get sun throughout the day.

We definitely need more high(er)-speed trains here in the good ol' U.S. of A. I took the Acela up here. While my actual time on the train was longer than it would have been on a plane, those Amtrak ads don't lie. It was so, so, soooo much more relaxing. D.C. to Boston is probably the longest route a high-speed train makes sense, unless you can get a train going 300 mph non-stop from D.C. to LA in 10 or 12 hours. I'd probably do that too.

Oh, and first impression of the city coming out of Penn Station: Some guy walking right up to me and asking, "Can I have a minute of your time?" What the Hell? Was I wearing a sign? Probably wasn't that hard to tell, but I'm pretty sure I don't exude a "Random strangers are welcome to walk up to me" vibe.

I'm heading out to find something to eat. I've heard there might be a place or two around where I am on Broadway that makes a decent meal.

More on the great NYC adventure later.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Did you ever wonder...

Did you ever stop and think, "I wonder what's inside an iPad?" Well, me neither, mainly since they've only been out for four days, but we're about to find out...

Yanno? If I was a wasteful type of person that'd almost be worth $500, (plus another $400 for the blender*). What other ingenious ways can you suggest to send an iPad to the great recycling bin in the sky?

Not to say I don't want one. In fact, I think iPads look like just about the coolest thing since, well, Linda Hamilton winning "Best Female Performance with a Gun" for Terminator 2 at the MTV Movie Awards, but I don't need one.

Especially since Steve Jobs is probably going to come out with an even better one in six months. Maybe I'll break down and get that one.

*Make sure you check out the other "Will it Blend" episodes like "Laser Pointer" and "iPhone 3G".

Monday, April 5, 2010

Intentional advertising?

Has anyone heard about the spat up in Baltimore about Under Armour* painting its "UA" logo on Federal Hill? Yeah, neither did I until I glanced at a local headlines link. Anyways, here a link to the story so you can read it yourself.

The funny thing I found was how the article was laid out on the B-more Sun's Web Page. Here's a screen shot of the page (when I read it, don't know if it's still there):

Soooo...does anyone think it's strange an article about Under Armour (a huge local Baltimore company, btw) getting spanked by uptight locals has not one, but two Under Armour ads surrounding it on the page. I wonder what side the Sun's advertising bread is buttered on?

*Full disclosure: I love Under Armour. If they made suits for work, I think I'd buy them.

** Oh, and GO TO HELL DOOK!! I hope and pray you get your collective, self-centered, privileged, Jersey Shore asses kicked tonight in Indy. Alas, on this I fear my prayers will fall on deaf ears. But hope springs eternal. As Khan Noonien Singh stated so well: "From hell's heart, I stab at thee. For hates' sake, I spit my last breath at thee."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sing to the hand

Anyone seen this yet? The Voices of Washington, Washington Complaint Choir? It's pretty funny, but it must be the "winter version" since I didn't hear any snarky comments about tourists invading the city.

It's a continuation of the original Helsinki Complaints Choir which started the trend and, as all things go, is still the best.

Click here for more lovely YouTube
complaint choir clips.