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Ain't no recession in Madrid

by Dr. Sidicious Bonesparkle

The New York Yankees earned some well-deserved criticism in the off-season when they spent a bazillion dollars on CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeira and then started charging admission at the new Taj Mahal Yankee Stadium that was so exorbitant that Donald Trump couldn't afford a seat in the lower deck. Such excess, it was felt, was inappropriate during times of extreme financial hardship such as those the nation is enduring right now.

Well, move over Hank Steinbrenner. Just a few days ago Spanish futbol superpower Real Madrid ponied up a £59M transfer fee to pry Brazilian midfielder Kaka loose from AC Milan. If you don't have your currency calculator handy, that's roughly $94M US. And to be clear, that figure does not include salary. That's just Milan's take on the deal. The good news is that Kaka's weekly earnings probably won't come to more than the GDP of a mid-sized European country.

Wow. That's a record that was bound to stand for a very long time three days. Today it's been announced that those same bottomless-pocketed Los Blancos have reached an agreement to purchase Portuguese midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United for £80M - or $131.6M. Again, that doesn't include salary and benefits, which include hot and cold running hookers and unlimited use of the club's gold-plated jet.Collapse )
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Ward Churchill v. CU v. the people

In years to come, it seems likely that the ongoing civil suit brought against the University of Colorado by former professor Ward Churchill will provide students in many law classes with a lively case study to debate. If you aren't already familiar with the details of the clusterfuck story, you can catch up at the NY Times and Boulder Daily Camera. If, at that point, you still haven't slaked your thirst for data on all things Ward, you can keep on Googling here.

Buff U is pointing to all manner of irregularities in Churchill's scholarship, asserting that he was fired for plagiarism. Ward's attorneys have another theory:
His lawyer, David Lane, has sought to portray him as the victim of a “howling mob” of university administrators, conservative media and politicians who were “falling over themselves” to have him fired.
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ArtSunday: the Blade Runner Effect

Last night we watched the Final Cut of Blade Runner again, and if you don't have this package I can't recommend it highly enough. 25 years on, Ridley Scott was able to finally re-craft the film as he wanted it originally, and the result is a stunning achievement. Scott has been one of our greatest directors for a very long time, but this may be his finest moment to date.

This viewing (probably my 35th or 40th - I lost count a long time ago) got me to thinking, all over again, about how little the film was acknowledged at the time of its release. While it was nominated for two technical Oscars (Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Effects, Visual Effects), it's hard to look back and argue that it got anything like the critical acclaim it deserved (a point underscored by how well respected the film is today). In addition, it didn't do very well at the box office (it drew a little over $6M that opening weekend, and the theater I saw it in was 90% empty). More
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Obama: hope, change and reality

I believe I recall Barack Obama quoting Otto Von Bismarck's edict that "politics is the art of the possible," and evidence of that optimism abounds everywhere I look in Denver today. The two words we seem to be hearing more than any others are "hope" and "change," and we saw a wonderfully eloquent articulation of this enthusiasm last night in Wendy Redal's post on starstruck idealism.

There's no question (among rational people, anyway) that change is sorely needed, and after the last eight years hope is a precious and endangered commodity. Hope is the fuel of change, and sadly a lot of our traditional reserves are running dry.

I want to hope, and I'm being implored to hope, but really, should I? More
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TunesDay: Project Phoenix launches

The anticipation is finally over: Project Phoenix, the new CD from Fiction 8, is now out. And was it ever worth the wait.

The new disc represents a significant step forward for the band. Most notably, bassist Mardi Salazar has assumed a much greater role in the creative process, writing and singing about half the tracks on the album. Her contributions afford Project Phoenix a rich balance, both tonally and lyrically. Mike's angst and cynicism are still evident, but are tempered by Mardi's softer, more haunting approach.

Or maybe "softer" isn't quite the right word here. F8's music is unambiguously darkpop - industrial with goth overtones, but essentially pop in structure. Smith's songs have always hit like a boot to the gut. Sometimes the rage is palpable, other times muted beneath layers of self-doubt, but even his most thoughtful moments - and perhaps especially his most thoughtful moments - leave some part of you hurting.(More)
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Olympic baseball gold medal to be decided with penalty kicks

Well, sorta. Check out this stroke of genius.
IBAF changes rules for extra innings

DURHAM, N.C. (AP)—Extra innings will have a new look in what could be baseball’s last Olympic appearance.

Each team’s at-bat in the 11th inning and beyond will begin with runners on first and second bases. Teams may start the 11th at any point in their batting order under format changes announced Friday by the International Baseball Federation and adopted in time for next month’s Beijing Games.

You read that right. In the hotly contested championship game, after a game where both starting pitchers have gone 10 perfect innings, the top of the 11th will begin with Cuba's leadoff and #2 hitters on base and their #3, 4 and 5 guys coming to the plate.Collapse )
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Ramseys cleared; Denver Post releases the truthers

In a long-overdue move, Boulder prosecutors have officially cleared the family of JonBenet Ramsey in the girl's December 26, 1996 murder. I say "long-overdue" because for those of us who've paid attention to the evidence it's been clear for years now - painfully, maddeningly clear - that the family was innocent.

I emphasize "evidence" in that sentence for a reason. There are facts in this case, and pretty much without exception those who are convinced of the family's guilt are people who are relying not on evidence, but on media reports that run the gamut from "inaccurate" to "creative writing." Not all of these people - and I may well be talking about you, I know - are morons. Many are, to be sure, but many more are reasonably intelligent folks who've been victimized by the worst case of journalistic malpractice in our nation's recent history. In a number of ways the "press" failed more miserably with the Ramsey case than it did even with its addled accessory-before-the-fact act in the run-up to the Iraq War. (More...)
  • Current Music
    Space Team Electra - Songs of Innocence
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Don’t mourn Jesse’s death - mourn that his legacy lives

On his outstanding Prodigal Son CD, North Carolina folk and blugrass legend Mike Cross presents us with a high-stepping little ditty called "Bill is in His Grave." Bill, it turns out, was a scoundrel of the first order, and he'd been recently deceased.

The narrator is asked to say a few words at the funeral, a task that proves daunting for a man who'd rather not speak ill of the dead.

He finally manages this:
If Heaven is pleased when sinners cease to sin
If the Devil is pleased when another soul comes in
If the Earth is pleased to be rid of a knave
Then everybody's happy 'cause Bill is in his grave.
  • Current Music
    Mike Cross - Bill is in His Grave
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Saturday Video Roundup: Fußballmusik

Wow - imagine my surprise at discovering that the German language has a word for music!

Ahem. As you no doubt are aware, Euro2008 crescendos tomorrow afternoon as Spain and Germany meet in the final. In honor of the summer's premier athletic competition (well, until the Olympics start, anyway), SVR today presents the music of the four semi-final nations, along with some brief explanation as to why a nation's music tells us a lot about their soccer teams.

We'll begin with Turkey. The Turks' spectacular run through the tournament came to a screeching halt in a 3-2 thriller with Germany on Wednesday, but they depart with music in their hearts. Or something like that. This video makes clear that the Turks are a passionate and well-dressed people who love horses, but there's not a soccer ball in sight. (More...)