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WARNING: THIS SITE FEATURES ORIGINAL THINKING...Jim Croce once sang Don't tug on Superman's cape..., which seems like reasonable advice should we not wish to anger the supreme powers. We do have this duality in our culture: the Superman that is the state collective, the leftist call to a politics of meaning managed by the state, the deification of "we're from the government and we'll take care of you" - versus the Superman that celebrates individual freedom, private property, freedom of conscience, free enterprise, and limited government. We humbly take on the latter's mantle and, eschewing the feeble tug, we dare to PULL, in hope of seeing freedom's rescue from the encroaching nanny state. We invite you, dear reader, to come and pull as well... Additionally, if you assume that means that we are unflinching, unquestioning GOP zombies, that would be incorrect. We reject statism in any form and call on individuals in our country to return to the original, classical liberalism of our founders. (We're also passionate about art, photography, cooking, technology, Judeo/Christian values, and satire as unique, individual pursuits of happiness to celebrate.)

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WWW Pull On Superman's Cape
Superman's product of the century (so far):

February 27, 2006
So what does that palace look like anyway?
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan, Photography

Instead of clambering up and down stairwells and changing trains here and there on my way back from Shin-Yokohama over the weekend, I took a short jaunt on the Shinkansen to Tokyo station, tooled around there for a little while and then rode the Chuo back to Kichijoji.

In Japan there are still places in this post 9/11 world where you can check your bags at the train station and go be a tourist for a little while. I exited at the Maronouchi exit and, since it was cold and rainy, went acroos the street into the Maru building for lunch.

Now, the idea is to go to the 35th or 36th floor to have lunch and get a window seat so that you can see the Imperial Palace grounds below.

Alas, every restaurant was completely booked for lunch so I had to retreat to the 5th floor to find a place to eat.

...Continue reading "So what does that palace look like anyway?"

Pulled by Emcee on February 27, 2006 at 09:21 PM
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Cherry blossoms? You want to see cherry blossoms?
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan, Photography

I had a chance to walk around Shin-Yokohama for a little while during the time I was there over the weekend.

Those beautiful flowering cherries are all cut back severely at this time of year.


And they look at bit like scarecrows as they stand along the streets of the city.

I've heard, though, that if you go far enough south there are already some blossoms in bloom. Hmmmm....

Pulled by Emcee on February 27, 2006 at 08:52 PM
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Shin-Yokohama one-upsmanship
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan, Photography

Over the weekend they had college testing exams at all the universities around Tokyo. May have been all over Japan but I'm not sure.

This meant that I actually got bumped from my hotel to make room for students needing to take their exams at one of the five colleges in the area.

We (my country manager and I) looked all around for hotels around Tokyo for several hours and couldn't find much of anything.

Finally, we found a business hotel in Shin-Yokohama well south - booked it for a couple of nights and I headed off on the train. It took about two hours with three train changes to get there.

The hotel was much like any other business hotel that I've been to before - with one notable exception. The toilet seat had a remote control. I'll elaborate.

...Continue reading "Shin-Yokohama one-upsmanship"

Pulled by Emcee on February 27, 2006 at 08:44 PM
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February 26, 2006
'Twas back in the desert
Filed in: Current Affairs, Photography

Super daughter made All State for concert band this year and played in the big concert over in Yakima, Washington - a week or two ago. She was terrific along with all her band mates - I especially liked that Tchaikovsky piece.

On the way back there was a nice sunset in the desert. I stopped and hopped out of the car under dire threat for time wasting... to me it was worth it.


Plus I got Super daughter and her boyfriend some cheese sticks at Arby's. All was well with the world.

Pulled by Emcee on February 26, 2006 at 07:07 AM
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February 24, 2006
Or is it: Mike's got the trots?
Filed in: Current Affairs, Sports, Super Bowl XL

Prerequisite. This is the second in a multi-part series on the NFL's defense of the poor officiating in Super Bowl XL.

Now we move on to what is one of the most controversial non-calls in Super Bowl XL.

This is the way that the NFL discussed it on the self-produced NFL Total Access Official Review:



That's right, nothing was said about it at all. Not in the interview, not in the clips. Not discussed.

What am I talking about? I've already discussed this to some extent here.

What is it? It's the long Steeler's pass play to Hines Ward in the second quarter that set up the touchdown by Roethlisberger.

Some commenters have been blasting my posts here in reference to this non-call because 1) I didn't show enough still frames to demonstrate the infraction, 2) There is colloquial leeway in the call that allows for imprecision in the call, or 3) I don't know the rules. Hopefully this post will meet the sufficiency tests, though I suspect that, despite absolute proof, some people are incapable of altering their views.

Here we go.


This is the beginning of the play. The line of scrimmage is just about exactly the 40 yard line. Maybe a little over.


Here we are near the end of Roethlisberger's scramble. Max Starks is more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage. He's not engaged with a defensive player - nor is he within this sequence.


I'm not going to show every frame - maybe every couple of frames - Ben's looking, Max continues forward.

...Continue reading "Or is it: Mike's got the trots?"

Pulled by Emcee on February 24, 2006 at 05:05 AM
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A milestone for the cape...
Filed in: Current Affairs

According to the internal Typepad counter, we received our 100,000th hit today. I know, There are a handful of blogs that get that in a day. It's just fun to see that number roll over like an odometer.

Pulled by Emcee on February 24, 2006 at 02:45 AM
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February 23, 2006
It's Deja Vu All Over Again...
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan, Sports

Arakawa4111579534 It seems like every time I come to Japan I get here just in time for some over-the-top sports celebration.

This trip is no exception. I suppose that most anyone interested in the Winter Olympic Games watched Shizuka Arakawa win the Gold Medal in women's figure skating last night (or whatever time it was in that time of the world - I won't really know what day or time it is for a few days as I'm in that lag zone.)

Arakawa-san really skated the only fault free round in the replays I've seen. Of course, since I've been here (really just for a few hours now), I've seen her free skate on pretty much every channel at least five or six times - and two live interviews so far. This nation is going berserk once again!

They had assemblies of hundreds of people at movie theaters, karaoke bars, and whatever passes for sports bars here - all wearing Japanese flag adorned headbanks and waving Japanese flags. They were from every age group and socioeconomic strata - and their jubilation is just another one of those strange Japanese things that never ceases to amaze me.


(Image: Getty Images)

Arakawa-san delivered a technically brilliant and elegant performance. Every other contender (including American favorite Sasha Cohen) fell.

It's the first medal of these Olympic games for Japan. And it's the first Gold Medal for Japan in women's figure skating in history.


(Image: Getty Images)

Even if no self-respecting Japanese person would ever think of becoming the spittle covered, flag wrapped, business suit torn, idiot faced, should be committed to an institution for demon possession minion that I've seen by the thousands on TV today - I say let 'em go crazy. This is an historic moment. Besides, they are hilariously funny to watch. God Bless 'em.

Pulled by Emcee on February 23, 2006 at 09:09 PM
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February 22, 2006
To the land of the Rising Sun...
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan

Flying to Japan later today.

Yes, yes, there will be beautiful, uncontroversial pictures from Japan soon!

Pulled by Emcee on February 22, 2006 at 02:34 AM
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February 21, 2006
So they trot out Mike
Filed in: Current Affairs, Sports, Super Bowl XL


The furor over Super Bowl XL continues to rage unabated. So much so that the NFL decided to trot out Mike Pereire, Director of Officiating to do a stint justifying the bad calls in the game (he's pretty much been missing in action until this show late last week). You can watch the clip of NFL Total Access Official Review here.

My plan is to rebut (respectfully) Mike's explanations for the poor officiating. After all, the NFL doing a 'tee-up' show to justify itself really is the fox watching the hen house. Let me at 'em...

First, in this post, we'll look at Mike's discussion of the Jackson interference call (which I have covered to some extent here):

As you can see in the clip, Mike runs the play (near the catch) back and forth a few times and talks about how this must be offensive pass interference because Jackson uses his arm to obtain separation from Hope.

What he doesn't say, and what his shill interviewer doesn't pin him down on is that Jackson didn't initiate the contact with Hope in this segment.

Let's look at some stills again:


Here they are before their final contact before the catch. (We'll avoid discussing whether Hope's contact is legal here, because there's a lot more interesting stuff coming up from Mike on that). Jackson is behind Hope on the field. No one is in contact here.


Jackson is avoiding Hope. Hope is reaching for Jackson.


Hope initiates contact with Jackson. He has reached out with his right arm and is chucking him on the left shoulder in the end zone.

...Continue reading "So they trot out Mike"

Pulled by Emcee on February 21, 2006 at 08:19 PM
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February 17, 2006
The Seahawks just didn't play well enough to win...
Filed in: Current Affairs, Sports, Super Bowl XL

This has become the flag (well the penalty flag) waving mantra for Super Bowl XL. Even Seahawks players have been soundbited parroting this drivel so as not to sound like they are whining - and so that they don't get fined.

I've been investing a little time here and there lately capturing what I can of the game. I know that the game is completed and I know what the result was. I remain unsatisfied with the NFL's obligation to its fans to provide a fair game. Until that's corrected, I'm going to continue to call them to account.

Here's another microcosm of a play with video frames again. These events occurred right in front of billions of people in the light of day (or night I suppose). In this microcosm, what does 'not play well enough' mean?


Here we are at about 10 minutes left in the second quarter. Roethlisberger has made a long pass attempt to Randle El. Seahawk defensive back Michael Boulware leaps up to intercept the pass. Leaps? Actually he flew - for a little while. In one of the most athletic plays imaginable, Boulware instigates a change in possession - not really a mistake by Roethlisberger - and it could have been a spectacular gain for Pittsburgh inside the red zone.

There are some basketball players that can execute something like a 42 inch vertical jump. There are probably only a handful of athletes in the world that could do what Boulware did here. This is one of the most extraordinary images I have ever witnessed in all of sport. At this moment billions of eyes must have been transfixed on what was happening here.


But, not only has he elevated to this extraordinary height, he has taken possession of the ball - and both he and Randle El realize that he must keep possession all the way to the ground. In this case that's a long way down and a relatively long time. Randle El's reaction is to attempt to dislodge the ball in the most aggressive way possible - he can't reach the ball - Boulware's clearance above the ground exceeds the height of most human beings - so Randle El goes for his head.


In this frame you can see that Randle El has twisted Boulware's neck far to the right with his left hand clasped over Boulware's face mask. At full video speed this is a vicious snap.


Not as well in view until they approach the ground - Randle El's right hand has been jammed against Boulware's face mask as well - and as they approach the ground Randle El uses his right hand to slam Boulware's head into the ground to attempt to dislodge the ball.

Granted that this happened pretty fast - and Boulware's athleticism was amazing. But, Randle El's actions are among the most egregious that you could ever witness on a football field. I could not have been the only fan that observed this - but that's not the point.

Given the extraordinary circumstances of this play, it had to have been observed closely by one or more officials - and there was no call. No flag. No fifteen yards for facemask, unsportsmanlike conduct, or unnecessary roughness - all certainly qualified here.

Now, before you whinegangsters get going, I'm not suggesting that this non-call affected the outcome of the game - there are plenty of those to deal with. Sure there's something to be said about starting from the 32 instead of the 17. Perhaps it wouldn't have been a three and out because of that. That's something we'll never know.

No, what's important about thinking about this play is: Did Michael Boulware play well enough to 'win' on this play? There isn't any question about that. He did affect a change in possession and so he 'won' in that context. Did he win in the context of the rules of football? No, he didn't. He was fouled in one of the most egregious ways possible. He could have been terribly injured because of the foul. The league and the officials are obligated to penalize the offender for these infractions. But they didn't.

Something we can be certain of is this: Officials observed, in real time, both the amazing athleticism and the egregious foul on this play. No penalty was called. The NFL has publically stated that no mistakes were made by the game officials. We have the right to ask and the right to expect an answer to "Didn't Michael Boulware play well enough to win on this play? How and why was something like this allowed to happen?"

Pulled by Emcee on February 17, 2006 at 11:50 PM
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