Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
September 21, 2006 - September 14, 2006

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Time Lord

A terrible coach facing a season so long he can't count the minutes.

PSAYINGS.5S.9-11: The Philadelphia Eagles ended their 2006 season today in their second game of the year, losing 30-24 in overtime to a NY Giants team they utterly dominated for 40 minutes and once led 24-7. That's the problem. The head coach of the Eagles seems to have mustered a team that thinks it's only necessary to play football for the first 40 minutes to win. A perennial problem that has gotten much worse under Reid's command, not better.

We wouldn't mind so much if we hadn't listened to SportsTalk Radio in Philadelphia for the past two years or so. Have you ever listened to Sports Talk Radio in your neck of the woods? Then you know what we're talking about. A bunch of bored, superior know-it-alls like WIP's Howard Eskin, who seize on trivia, headlines, and a modest amount of technical knowledge to browbeat their listeners while they miss everything important in their analysis.

The sports gospel in Philadelphia has had it that the Eagles lost the Super Bowl by misfortune and self-destructed in 2005 because of one Terrell Owens, girl wide receiver. (They don't put it that way. We put it that way. He was never worth the amount of press or angst he inspired. He's just Barbie in a football uniform, always checking himself in the mirror on the field and off.)

Today, the Eagles' real problem was on display. The Eagles have talent and enthusiasm. What they lack is character and adult attention spans. They were excited, spectacular, and confident for two-thirds of the game. Then they got bored and wanted to go home or out for a party. The Giants kept trying to win the game, no matter how bad it looked for them at the moment. So they finally did. It's no accident that the Eagles made fools of themselves in the concluding two-minute drill of the 2005 Super Bowl. They -- including their Yogi the Bear impersonator head coach -- lack all sense of time. The entire organization suffers from ADDS. The symptoms are numerous:

The Eagles, including their vaunted quarterback Donovan McNabb, do not win come-from-behind victories in the final two minutes a la the Raiders of old, John Elway, or Johnny Unitas. When they win, it's usually because they're convincingly ahead by the time the fourth quarter arrives. By the end of 60 minutes, they can no longer focus sharply on the job at hand.

Under Andy Reid, they've never had a running game. Instead, they pamper and cling to sporadically brilliant running backs who have never played a full season in the NFL because their glass limbs doom them to season-ending injuries -- every year: Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter, and, before them, Deuce Staley. None of these backs has ever gained 1,000 yards rushing in a season, and yet Eagles coaches and fans continue to sing their praises because they can't understand the strategic value of a durable running back, which is that in 60 minutes of football it's necessary to give the defense a rest and eat precious minutes and seconds off the clock by some means other than vain zero-gain staggers into the middle of the line.

Eagles players, including over-praised all-pros like Kearse, Trotter, and too many others to mention, get tired and ineffective in the fourth quarter but never connect that fact with their ostentatiously juvenile celebrations after individual plays in the first 40 minutes of the game. They dance, swagger, and engage in elaborate acts of victorious pantomime even when the outcome is still hugely in doubt, expending energy they never seem to have when extraordinary last minute heroics are needed. That's the point at which they crumble and quit. Though he doesn't celebrate as much, Donovan McNabb is just as bad, because he gets so caught up in the momentary fun that he can't resist clowning around to show how "loose" he is -- even when the game itself is on the line. Elway may have grinned a lot (it always looked like a rictus to us), but Johnny Unitas and Bobby Layne never did. Not until the game was won. For that matter, we never saw Fred Biletnikoff, Jerry Rice, or Jimmy Brown stomping and grimacing around the field like a clown, either.

Andy Reid insists on calling offensive plays himself, though his grasp of the relation between offensive strategy and time remaining in the game is so vague as to be invisible. His team still has no effective two-minute drill, and he routinely blows all decisions -- pass-run, punt-play -- in which the clock is a factor. Since football is played against the clock, this makes him a gross incompetent at his profession, regardless of any other virtues, including his excessive, non-responsive humility in post-game press conferences.

Net net. Disaster. Season over.

Here's the big picture for the long-suffering, oh-so-patient and oh-so-deluded Eagles fans. The Eagles are a mediocre team, Reid is a loser of a coach, McNabb will NEVER win or even play in another Super Bowl, and the oh-so-superior sports geniuses of WIP in Philadelphia are idiots. That goes double for Howard Eskin, who makes a very nice living indeed doing no work at all and who should have the decency not to talk down to the credulous fans of Philadelphia like some condescending Einstein of a sport he clearly knows little about.

Howard Eskin, tin god of mediocrity.

Start booing, Philadelphians. Sit on your hands through the first 40 minutes. Wait for the final 20. Champions are defined by how they act and how they rise to the occasion THEN. Forget T.O. He was a sideshow last year, and he's less than that now. If you really want to do something useful, start demanding that the Eagles do what this blue-collar town has long been a football loser because it never knew to do -- get coaches and players who are grown up enough to know the difference between the big hand and the little hand. And one more thing: Start demanding that Andy Reid's giant ass be fired today, because it's going to take some time to get it done whenever you start. You hear that? Time. It's your first lesson in becoming a winner.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Death Knell of the Dems?

THE REAL THING. It's not a new idea that Bush's approval ratings seem to have a fairly direct inverse correlation with gas prices. Let me put that in English. When gas prices go up, Bush's approval ratings go down, and vice versa. Even some skeptical lefties have acknowledged the phenomenon, as at this site, where Paul Kedrosky features lots of anti-Bush merchandise but still grudgingly reprinted this graph back in April of this year:

He clearly wants it to be "spurious," but the image speaks for itself, with the two curves acting like approximate mirrors of one another. A serious economist at Heavy Lifting has published analysis of the relationship here, here, and here. He also suspected that the relation between the two was more complex and muddy than the graph makes it appear, and he looked for some additional factor that was causative of both or of Bush's approval ratings in particular. He hypothesized that month by month reports of deaths in Iraq might track more closely with Bush's approval ratings, but they didn't. Then he examined the approval ratings of other key figures in the administration as well as the ratings of Congress and the Democrats. Here's what he concluded:

...approval ratings are more likely to be "caused" by gasoline prices than the war in Iraq. If the Iraq situation was important to approval ratings then the approval ratings of the Democrats would be expected to be positively correlated with OIF deaths as the Democrats consistently speak out against the war, about bringing the troops home, etc. The fact that the Democrat approval ratings are following the same pattern as Bush while Bush/Repubs are on the opposite side of the Iraq issue suggests to this econometrician that the gas prices are paramount.

Of course, it may yet prove that time will undo the correlation, but the Democrats who are so certain they are going to sweep to a majority in the House and Senate should be concerned about this:

Analyst predicts plunge in gas prices
By Kevin G. Hall

McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON The recent sharp drop in the global price of crude oil could mark the start of a massive sell-off that returns gasoline prices to lows not seen since the late 1990s perhaps as low as $1.15 a gallon.

"All the hurricane flags are flying" in oil markets, said Philip Verleger, a noted energy consultant who was a lone voice several years ago in warning that oil prices would soar. Now, he says, they appear to be poised for a dramatic plunge.

Crude-oil prices have fallen about $14, or roughly 17 percent, from their July 14 peak of $78.40. After falling seven straight days, they rose slightly Wednesday in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, to $63.97, partly in reaction to a government report showing fuel inventories a bit lower than expected. But the overall price drop is expected to continue, and prices could fall much more in the weeks and months ahead.

The rest of the article explains why the prediction is more than pie-in-the-sky theorizing. Investors in oil futures bid up the price of oil in the expectation of a series of disasters that haven't happened. Now there's way too much oil on the market, which means prices must go down.

Does this mean Bush's approval ratings must go up? No one can say. But the one thing you can be sure of is that every time you fill your tank with cheaper gas in the time remaining before the election, that slight grating sound you hear will be Howard Dean, Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and all their patriotic brethren gnashing their teeth in dismay.

Drive safely, everybody.

The Friday Follies

Women in the European news. Something about zero.

TGIF. It hasn't been a good week for women. Most seriously, Oriana Fallaci died. She was brilliant, beautiful, and brave. (Look here for the encomiums I'm not qualified to offer.) The western world will miss her, and so should the angry feminists who want so desperately to be considered brilliant and brave, if not beautiful, but they seem a very long way from understanding the civilizational concerns any superior intellect should share. For example, this was the week in which Rosie O'Donnell squawked on national TV that "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam." The sheer ridiculousness of this position... ah, excuse me... ladies coming through... stand aside, please.

Psst. Don't look. Their brothers might have to kill them if you do.

Thank you. Now, where were we? That's right. A bad week for women. They definitely didn't need this:

British-born researcher John Philippe Rushton, who previously created a furore by suggesting intelligence is influenced by race, says the finding could explain why so few women make it to the top in the workplace.

He claims the 'glass ceiling' phenomenon is probably due to inferior intelligence, rather than discrimination or lack of opportunity.

The University of Western Ontario psychologist reached his conclusion after scrutinising the results of university aptitude tests taken by 100,000 students aged 17 and 18 of both sexes.

A focus on a factors such as the ability to quickly grasp a complex concept, verbal reasoning skills and creativity - some of they key ingredients of intelligence - revealed the male teenagers had IQs that were an average of 3.63 points higher. The average person has an IQ of around 100.

The findings, which held true for all classes and levels of parental education, overturn a 100 year consensus that men and women average the same in general mental ability.

One can already hear the women objecting -- strenuously -- although they will probably be more tactful than a man would be because everyone knows that intelligent or not, they excel at cooperation and empathy. That's why Rosie O'Donnell, Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda are starting their new women's radio network, as we reported yesterday. How did Steinem describe the difference we should expect? "...More community. It's more about information, about humor, about respect for different points of view and not constant arguing."

Somebody forgot to let Nancy Grace in on the secret, though. She made headlines twice this week -- first when her adversarial interview with the mother of a missing child was followed by the mother's suicide, and then again when Nancy disavowed any responsibility for the unfortunate outcome.

Grace declined to be interviewed Tuesday but issued a statement by e-mail.

"We feel a responsibility to bring attention to this case in the hopes of helping find Trenton Duckett, who remains missing. Our goal in our continuing coverage of Trenton's disappearance is to enlist the public's help in finding him," Grace's statement read. "While Ms. Duckett's death is an extremely sad development, we remain hopeful that Trenton will be found safe, and we will continue to cover the case until it is solved."

Oh well. Women are mostly more respectful and sympathetic. That is, except when they're having a really really bad week, like the Dixie Chicks were apparently having when they were filming their documentary Shut Up and Sing.

In one memorable scene, [Natalie] Maines watches news footage of the president being interviewed about the furor that followed the singer's on-stage comment that she was ''ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas,'' which resulted in the group being dropped from most radio stations, as well as protests and plummeting sales. ''The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind,'' Bush told Tom Brokaw at the time, adding, ''They shouldn't have their feelings hurt just because some people don't want to buy their records when they speak out. You know, freedom is a two-way street.''

After watching this footage, Maines repeats the president's comment about how the group shouldn't have their ''feelings hurt,'' incredulous, and then says, ''What a dumb f---.'' She then looks into the camera, as if addressing Bush, and reiterates, ''You're a dumb f---.''

You see, ordinarily, Natalie would be more tolerant of the President's views. If he weren't such a dumb f---. You know. Because women are really so much peacefuller and not so violent-like. Except for this week, when we were treated to the story of an attempted contract hit on

A 22-year-old woman was arrested after authorities say she tried to hire someone to kill another woman whose photo appeared on her boyfriend's Web page.

Heather Michelle Kane was booked Tuesday for investigation of conspiracy to commit murder, Mesa Detective Jerry Gissel said.

She was arrested after she met an undercover Mesa police detective at a grocery store, gave the officer $400 and offered to pay an additional $100 once the woman had been killed, according to court records.

The records say Kane gave the undercover officer photographs taken from her boyfriend's social networking Web page of the woman she wanted killed. She also requested a photo of the woman's dead body.

Golly. That's cold. Several degrees chillier, in fact, than the reception of Oprah Winfrey's usually warm-hearted audience to the TV confessions of former NJ Governor Jim McGreevy, this year's recipient of the Andrew Sullivan Award for most wretched victim of anti-gay bias in the United States. The story he told was so sad, so candid, and so pitiful that the Oprah fanatics should have lapped it up and come pleading for more, but that's not what happened.

McGreevey opens closet for Oprah but audience icy

Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey spilled his guts to Oprah yesterday about the years he spent living as a closeted "gay American," but Oprah's audience was unimpressed.

Oprah swore the audience to secrecy at the taping of her show, which airs Sept. 19 - the same day that McGreevey's memoir, "The Confession," hits store shelves.

If the reaction of her fans who watched the taping are any indication, McGreevey's musings - for which he reportedly got a $500,000 advance - could be a tough sell.

"Not impressed with him or his story," one woman who declined to give her name said after she left Harpo Studios, the Chicago home of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Another woman was put off by McGreevey - and the subject matter. "It's not my type of show," she said.

Ladies! Where's the sympathy? (To be fair, there's no way to know if some or many of these ladies were imported from New Jersey, where McGreevy's fall has precipitated another cascade of dubious political maneuverings covered in today's WSJ under the title New Jersey Switcheroo. On the other hand, New Jerseyans have been begging for things like this to be done to them for years...)

It would be nice to conclude with something positive, but as close as we could get was a story about the world's biggest baby.

Oh baby! Marie Michel's fifth child was one for the record books. Michel gave birth to a 14-pound, 13-ounce boy Tuesday at William W. Backus Hospital.

Backus officials said the newborn _ Stephon Hendrix Louis-Jean _ broke the 18-year record for the biggest baby ever born at the hospital by 1 pound, 13 ounces. He was nearly 23 inches long.

"He's built like a linebacker," said Dr. David Kalla, who delivered the baby by Caesarean section.

I mean, this is supposed to be good, right? Women producing huger and huger American babies? Isn't it? Well, maybe not. I don't know. Maybe I'm just being influenced by the perverse bit of irony that is somehow bringing us full circle back to the death of Oriana Fallaci. There's been a flood of news items out of Europe about the emerging fashion trend of the size zero model. Britain is thinking about banning them. You can see what they look like at the top of this entry. So, here in America, our women are giving birth to baby Hulks, while over in Europe women are dissolving into splinters at just the time cultural warriors like Fallaci are most concerned their final disappearing act will be into a burkha. Worse, the Zero Girls are actually abetting the trivialization of the terror threat in Europe. The photo gallery at the upper left of this page is part of a fashion spread from Vogue Magazine in Fallaci's home country, Italy. It depicts a series of anorexic women being oppressed in various ways by the security and police personnel who stand between Europeans and Islamic bombs.

But mere fashion doesn't matter. We established that here at InstaPunk long ago. Perhaps Oriana Fallaci would have found the Vogue spread amusing. Unless she'd find it despicable, insulting, and sick in the head. Something like the movie about the assassination of George W. Bush commissioned by "Channel 4's Liza Marshall, who...said it sets out to examine the effects of the war on terror." You know. Just like the Vogue pictorial. Or like Rosie O'Donnell, but a lot thinner.

Forgive us. But it's been that kind of week.

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