Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Hazzards of Sports Betting

A gentleman who read my recent post about Joe "Daddy" Stevenson emailed me that I was foolish to pick Joe against the highly touted BJ Penn. I thought that Joe's excellent conditioning and strong ground game would give him an edge. This reader bet me that Penn would win the fight. He advised me to take the Vegas odds, which were heavily in Penn's favor. I declined that offer, and instead bet that Joe would win the fight straight up. Clearly, this reader knows more about MMA than I do, because poor Joe got crushed by BJ Penn last night. So, without further ado, I will here make good on my part of the bet:

*clears throat*

------------
I would just like everyone to know that I suck. And that I'm a girl. And I like ribbons in my hair, and I want to kiss all the boys.
-------------

(If you've ever seen the online TV series Red vs Blue, then the preceding will make a lot more sense.)

Beware! Sports betting can be dangerous.

--Dan Edge

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lights Out!

Since first hearing about the Energy Bill provision outlawing incandescent light bulbs by 2014, I have seen an explosion of grumbling on the web about the proposed replacement to the traditional light bulb, the CFB (Compact Fluorescent Bulb). People are complaining that the quality of light is inadequate, that the mercury inside CFBs poses serious health risks if they break, that they can cause migraines or even seizures in some people, that they don't work well with dimmers or three-way lights, etc. While I agree with this assessment of fluorescent light bulbs, I don't see the philosophical justification for all this whining.

If we as a nation have sanctioned the altruistic ideology prosthelytized by Greenpeace, Earth First, Al Gore, and the rest of the Greeninites, then we have nothing to complain about. Is one man's personal pleasure at all relevant to ethics or politics? Environmentalists, the church, and altruists around the globe say "No." By what standard can you complain about your own selfish convenience? You have an altruistic duty to serve society, and our Big Brother has determined that CFBs are best for the greater good. One man's quality of life is nothing compared to the good of society, or the good of the earth.

We should be grateful that we have this opportunity to exercise our moral agency -- that we have the opportunity to sacrifice. Isn't sacrifice the standard of morality? Consider: what would Jesus do in this situation? Assuming he would lower himself to such earthly pleasures as housing and artificial lighting, we can be certain that he wouldn't lament the necessity to sacrifice his quality of life for the good of the whole. He would embrace such a sacrifice.

If people thought that fluorescent bulbs were truly superior to incandescent lighting in most respects, then it wouldn't be a sacrifice to make the switch . Nor would the government have to mandate such a change. If left to their own devices, the free market would choose whichever form of lighting they thought best for their self-interest. It's a good thing we have the State to decide what is in the best interest of society, and then to impose that choice on everyone else. Otherwise, some individuals might refuse to sacrifice their judgment and personal interests to the greater good.

My advice to those now complaining about the enforced change to CFBs: go read the bible, or any major newspaper opinion page, or the political platform of any major candidate in this year's election. If you can discern any semblance of a philosophy from these sources, you will find that -- by far -- the dominant ideological trend in our culture is the worship of sacrifice: to the church, to society, and to Mother Earth. If you sanction this cultural trend, if you are a part of it, then I say: stop your whining! Be a good Little Brother, do your duty, screw in your shitty light bulb, and shut the fuck up.

And next time, be careful what you wish for...

--Dan Edge

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Penn vs Stevenson - "Keys to the Fight"

The UFC website posted a "keys to the fight" analysis yesterday on the upcoming Lightweight championship bout between BJ Penn and Joe Stevenson here.

From that article: "...Penn is so talented that the outcome of a fight rarely depends on what his opponent does in the ring. He doesn’t need to key off any one Stevenson weakness. He doesn’t need to worry about avoiding any particular Stevenson strength."

Considering Joe's Lightweight record and his dominant performances in the UFC, I'm surprised that the UFC website writers consider Penn to be such a heavy favorite. I mean, Penn "doesn’t need to worry about ... Stevenson['s] strength[s]"?

If Penn is as intelligent a fighter as he seems, I'm sure he is not taking this perspective. One can be sure that Penn is busy in the gym working on a game plan with his trainers to deal with Joe's considerable strengths, and exploit his relative weaknesses. If Penn takes the attitude that he can just come in and impose his will, without taking Joe's heavy hands and grappling skills into account, then we're in for a very short fight.

Fortunately for fight fans, I seriously doubt that Penn is taking Joe lightly -- which means that we're in for an exciting bout that could go the distance.

I hesitate to make a prediction since I'm such a big Joe "Daddy" fan, but I'll do it anyway. If Penn pushes the pace early and spends most of the first two rounds on top of Joe, then I'd have to give the advantage to Penn. But if Penn is unable to maintain a dominant position for the first two and a half rounds, I don't think he will have what it takes to go the distance with Joe.

My upset prediction: Joe "Daddy" Stevenson wins by unanimous decision after five rounds of exciting MMA action.

--Dan Edge

Friday, January 4, 2008

Huckabee's Evangelical Bodyguard -- The Real "Chuck Norris Facts"

Most internet users have heard at least a few of the satirical Chuck Norris Facts that have been circulating on the web for the past year. Like: "When the Incredible Hulk gets mad, he turns into Chuck Norris," or: "Before the Bogeyman goes to bed, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris." These Facts became so widespread that Norris's popularity rose significantly, and he was asked about it often during interviews. He seemed to have a good sense of humor about the whole thing, and read off a few of his favorite Facts on the Tony Danza Show. He wrote that the phenomenon was mostly "just promoting harmless fun," and that "maybe these one liners will prompt some one to seek out the real facts about [him] and the beliefs that have shaped [his] life."

Many of the Facts I found to be hilarious, but I didn't "seek out the real facts" about Chuck Norris when I first heard about it. He was so cool about the whole thing, I thought he must be a decent guy -- someone whose books and movies I might buy.

Ian Spector, the college Freshman who started the original Chuck Norris Facts website, published a book of the Facts late last year. In the introduction, he wrote about how he had actually met Chuck Norris, Norris's wife, and their lawyer after the website got popular. At first, Spector was terrified that Norris would deliver him a roundhouse kick to the face. But Norris was very friendly and seemed to appreciate all the attention from the Chuck Norris Facts phenomenon. Spector was confident enough after that meeting to allow Penguin to publish a collection of the Facts.

Norris is now suing Spector and Penguin.

I have no idea of the merits of his case against Spector; for all I know, Norris's lawsuit could be valid or entirely frivolous. But I am thankful that he sued because otherwise I might not have done any research on Norris, to discover the true "beliefs that have shaped his life."

Chuck Norris is an evangelical Christian and political activist. He publishes a blog on World Net Daily, a leading conservative Christian news website. He has developed a new career writing Christian fiction novels for young people. He doesn't believe in evolution. He is on the National Council of Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, which is fighting to have Bible classes in public schools across America. On his blog, he touts a new Censorship Bill (formally named the Protecting Children From Indecent Programming Act), which is up for vote in the senate. Norris is a fundamentalist, "born again", bible thumping Theocrat. And he is aggressively campaigning for Mike Huckabee for President.

On his blog, Norris explains that, after "praying about who could lead this country as our next president," he divined that Huckabee was the best choice. Why? Here's a few of the reasons cited:

- Huckabee is an ordained minister.
- He will "stand up for a Creator and against Secularist beliefs" in government.
- He initiated a government-sponsored health insurance program in Arkansas.
- He wants to reform the public education program... again. (I wonder if Biblical teachings will be part of that "reform?" I'm sure Chuck Norris is praying for that.)
- He supports a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
- He supports a Federal ban on abortion.

Huckabee is officially "Chuck Norris Approved." For the past few weeks, Norris and his wife have been on the campaign trail with Huckabee in Iowa. Norris and Huckabee actually use some of the Chuck Norris Facts in a YouTube campaign ad. Not surprisingly, when Huckabee gave his speech after winning the Iowa primary last night, his evangelical bodyguard Chuck Norris was right behind him.

I do have to thank Chuck Norris for one thing: he has helped me see that Mike Huckabee is the very last person I would want in charge of this country. If Mike Huckabee earns the nomination for the Republican party, I will vote for whoever is running against him. Also, I know now not to make the mistake of buying any of Norris's books or videos, ever. Any dime given to Norris is money in the pockets of the fundamentalist, evangelical, Christian Behemoth that has swallowed the Republican party whole.

So, why does the Bogeyman check his closet for Chuck Norris before he goes to bed? Because he's afraid of those goddamn Fundamentalist Christians! Me too.

--Dan Edge