Thursday, April 28, 2005

volleyball early commitment story

My Early Commitment
Our older daughter called the other day with the good news, "The club sent a letter offering me a spot on their 16-1 team."
Mrs. Boris, always positive, was first, "That's wonderful dear, we're really proud of you."
It was left to me to be the sceptic,"It's great but haven't you already played in college?"
"Ha ha..."
"Oh, you mean they want you to coach the 16-1 team. But you live back east?"
Mrs. Boris kicked me.
"You're always welcome to come home dear. "
I put my hand over the phone.
"You said I could put a pc-based home theater in that bedroom..."
"Get a life...." she hissed.
"I have a life, I drop off and pick the younger one up from tryouts and practices year round."
"I'm not coaching for them, I already have a job and live on the east coast,' the older daughter interrupted our argument.
Mrs. Boris and I shrugged.
"The place on the 16's team isn't for me, it's for my daughter."
"But you're not married and you don't have any kids yet."
"Do you have news for us?"
Mrs. Boris's voice brimmed with excitement.
"Of course not. I don't want to get married yet. You guys are so dumb."
"You remember how that 6"6" 8th grader got a scholarship at USC last spring?"
"You remember how club tryouts last year started the week before JOs and you complained that it made no sense to make kids try out for under 18's before they finished playing 14's."
"Yeah, I posted on that bulletin board about it being bad for the sport not to let players prove themselves in high school matches before they pick teams."
Mrs. Boris groaned, "You mean the one where you write things and then no one will sit near us during matches."
"Yes, mom, that one."
"Well, how was I supposed to know that the only poeple who can play volleyball have to be able to touch 10' or that coaches don't care whether you can actually play when they recruit you, because they all believe they can teach you everything.
"What's he talking about?"
"Mom, this is the next step. Clubs are getting so competitive about getting the tallest most athletic girls, they've stopped waiting for the girls to be born."
"So we're not having a grandchild?"
"Mom, can we talk about this grandchild thing another time?"
Mrs. Boris left me on the phone to talk to our older daughter,
"How do I say this? You were a good player, but you weren't Logan Tom or Cheryl Weaver? Shouldn't the club be sending them offers instead of you?"
"Well, Keri Walsh and Casey Jennings already have 15 offers of spots on 18 one teams, six scholarships, and an offer of a four thousand square foot house outside Louisville, Kentucky."
"Wow, that's quite an assumption there. What are they offering Logan Tom?"
"Not much, cause she said in FHM she danced with her teammates in clubs in Italy and that lowered her odds of having children. She did get an offer from Britney Spears's record company though. Same sort of thing with Cheryl Weaver, because she got Vern Troyer's autograph once."
"Okay, but why you?"
"Well, I went out to dinner with an all ACC basketball player and after that all thse letters started coming in. They do something called gene interpolation. They run your sequence with the guy and they can tell what kind of vertical the baby will have?
"This is kind of perverse."
"why do you say that?"
"Well, it's like breeding race horses not raising kids. Shouldn't they at least see if the kid can play?"
"They don't need to do that anymore. It works in basketball. That's why they draft all those high school players?"
"All those high school players who did so well in the Olympics?"
"They're still the best athletes in the world. Look at Tracy Mcgrady and Kobe Bryant, they never went to college."
"Right, look at Kobe Bryant."
"It's the new American way, everything high tech."
"I thought the American way was anyone who worked hard could be anything she wants to be?"
"You guys are so Jimmy Carter. It’s not all genetic destiny. There’s still stuff like human growth hormone and performance enhancing drugs."
There was a pause, "Oh my god! this is all your fault."
"What’s my fault?"
"They just sent me an e-mail...They took away the offer for the 16-1 team and gave it to Jennifer Carey."
"What are you talking about? I have nothing to do with your genetic destiny. I'm your stepfather."
"Well, one of the colleges found out that you used to play Cat Stevens records in the house"
"She’s already on a no fly list. Can't go to road matches, can’t be recruited."
"Look, you want to talk to your mom?"

Part 2 of Story


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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Recruiting the Terminator

As I put down the phone, the door bell rang, I opened it to a guy who looked like the current governor of California except this guy was wearing a size 54 extra large Georia Tech Sweatshirt and holding a volleyball.

"Hello, I’m sorry, you probably have the wrong house. We’re democrats and watch movies with subtitles."

"I'm the head coach at Georgia Tech and I'm here for you great grandchild."

"Isn't Bond Shymansky the head coach at Georgia Tech?"

"He is in 2004, I'm the head coach in 2075 when Tech finally makes the final four."
"Look, we don't even have grandchildren yet, but when we do we’ll send you one of those recruiting videotapes."

I start to close the door,but the guy who looks like the governor sets himself a one and lets it fly at Mrs. Boris.

Amazingly, Mrs. Boris, who has never played volleyball to my knowledge, drops into the perfect USVA position and digs it to me at the top of my jump, just over six feet. I swing at the governor/droid and the ball bounces off our living room window. Mrs. Boris points to herself, letting me know that my blowing her perfect set was her fault.

"Your great grandaughter, if she's ever born, is going to be the last human volleyball player. I am here to stop her."

"Oh my god, they're going to have android volleyball players?"

"Of course, they are, they already do now?"

"They do?"

"You think Mike Hebert really found that libero in Brazil? You think humans could got to all those club tournaments, have a 4.5 gpa, take 4 AP classes, be class president, and homecoming queen all at the same time? Where do you think half of Stanford's 2006 recruiting class came from."

"Well you do have a point there."

Mrs. Boris retrieves the volleyball under our coffee table and serves a sixty mile an hour jump floater right at the governor's size 26 neck.

"That’s for the University of California system, " she yells, "Hasta la vista, baby,"

The governor/Tech coach of the future wobbles as he tries set up for a tandon pass. The ball hits him right in the adam’s apple and he falls over in a heap on our doorstep.

"Who’s the girlie man now!" Mrs. Boris high fives me. I’ve never seen her in this sort of frenzy.

I rush to close the front door.

A fist smashes through our door, followed by the governor's head.

"No Point."

This is NCVA, liberos only serve in college. We start to argue, but the governor holds up a yellow card at us and we have to back off.

I turn to Mrs, Boris, "You never told me you could play volleyball?"

"You never asked," she says smoothly. "Just because I dont’ read those stupid bulletin boards doesn’t mean I can’t play."

As we talk, a fist smashes through our door then a head, then the governor’s skeleton as we now see that his body is just a silver puddle on our doorstep. He has the volleyball and hits an eighty mile an hour C at us. Mrs. Boris dives on the living room rug, pancakes it and I double the set.

"Dad, this is really pretty sad. Mom makes a great play and you can’t even get it set."

It’s our fourteen year old daughter who’s just gotten off the phone in her bedroom.

"Look, isn’t it your turn to call lines or keep score or something?"
My daughter takes a seat on the couch and pulls one of those scoring things out from under the coffee table. The governor grabs the ball and hits a hard four off my forearm.

"Ow, that really hurt."

"Can’t your kid get the score right, it’s three to nothing?"

"Don’t yell at my kid," Mrs. Boris screams as she hits another jump serve that knocks the governor/Georgia Tech coach over again.

"Payback time, that’s for letting that indian casino two miles from her high school."

My wife and daughter high five one another. I hear the sound of a motorcycle just outside our kitchen. A slight looking bald man with glasses hops off the Harley carrying a bag of volleyballs. He jumps on top of our coffee table and starts hitting them at the Tech Coach in rapid succession shouting "Bah" each time.

"Joe Sagula?"

"Dammit, this isn’t fair." The Governor now has both hands in front of his face as balls fly at him faster then he can cover up.

"Joe Sagula Four, actually. I’m the UNC coach in 2075."

"Wow, Joe got married and had kids? That’s great."

"No, actually I’m his clone."

He hits another one that hits the governor square in the face. The governor then picks himself up and runs out the open door,jumps over the puddle of silver liquid, and hops into a Hummer H2.

"I’ll be baack...." he snarls at us.

"Wow, coach, how do we thank you."

He steps off the coffee table and shakes my hand then pulls out a shiny flat disk that looks to be the paper of the future.

"You can sign this letter of intent for your great granddaughter."

"The unstoppable human left side hitter?"

"That’s the one."

"But we don’t even know her name yet."

"That’s okay, we already have a name for her at UNC."

"By the way, how many soccer championships does Anson Dorrance wind up winning?"

"I don’t know. He’s still coaching in 2075, they stopped counting after number 50."

"Do the US volleyball women ever win a gold medal in the Olympics?"

"Only after they start picking the players who play the best in real matches and change the offense."

"Look, sorry to rush you, I’ve got to get back to 2075 before that Butterfly Effect thing happens and I turn into Ashton Kutcher. Could you and Mrs. Boris just sign here please."

"You mean right where it says the Terminator?"

Even before I handed the disk back to the UNC coach, Mrs. Boris was making our daughter vacuum up the living room.

"Wow" I muttered, "I have to say that was a pretty cool recruiting war.... And I think I’m finally ready for an early commitment, but more of the rubber room variety."


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Friday, April 22, 2005

calender for writer's group

Feb. 10 Iota Press food Sarah
Feb. 24 Iota Press food Jo Anne
March 6 Sunday Marko's in Sebastopol food Marko

food order
Jo Anne

Sonoma Literary Calendar

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Interview with Bella Rossa

Interviews With Bloggers Part 20: Chancelucky

The Bella Rossa Interview With Chancelucky.

Chancelucky is a California blogger who first caught my eye with his "The Book of Judas, as Told By Karl Rove" post over a year ago, and uses his blog to share efforts at fiction as well as reflections on how weird it was to find a 43-year old picture of himself in an elementary school band online. He's versatile enough to write straight political stuff followed by silly celebrity blurbs like this comparison and contrast of Woody Allen and Steve Martin. He's ready to lay out his opinions on American Idol silliness right beside posts about Condoleezza Rice, which just goes to prove that what makes a blog fun enough to go back to again and again is good writing, no matter the topics covered. Oh, and random fun trivia, he once rode his bike from Los Angeles to New York.

Film_reelBELLA: What current books, music, tv, movies, hobbies, sports, etc., are currently holding your interest?

CHANCELUCKY: Because I now spend so much time in front of the computer counting
my hits, I had to think a bit. Ron Suskind's One Percent Solution. I
also recently read a history of the Opium Wars by Travis Hanes and
Frank Sanello which is kind of the British version of our war in Iraq
in that going to war to force another country to buy narcotics was
controversial back then. The British invaded anyway and got Hong Kong
out of the deal along with the right to sell drugs to China.

The writer I've been meaning to get back to is Jorge Luis Borges, one of my posts "The Ancestor Room" was inspired in a very obscure way by Borges's "The Library of Babel".
The connection would be much less obscure if I actually understood

I'm a big Harry Potter fan as well. My younger daughter and I have read all 6 books aloud together.

Music: I only listen to music that Randy Jackson has either
produced, played on, or had some other direct connection to.
Fortunately that's about everything that can be put on Mp3. I sometimes
make exceptions for Bud Powell, Shirley Horn, and anything on Blue Note Records up through 1965. Every once in a while, Steely Dan, Rickie Lee
Jones, and Cheryl Wheeler. In other words, I have a geezer's taste in
music and sort of a snobby one at that.

Movies: I really like Bollywood. Also my wife can't understand why I
watch teen movies. She has never forgiven me for making her go see
American Pie 2, because I insisted that the first one was funny. I'm
also the only person I know who found any parts of Johnny Knoxville's The Ringer funny. I have a weak spot for Farrelly Brothers' movies.
a galaxy far far away, I did work for a movie producer for about a year
in a very peripheral capacity where the high point was getting to see
first hand that Tom Cruise was much shorter than Nicole Kidman. Being
around the people who made the movies totally warped my taste. For
instance, the people on my softball team there thought Mars Attacks was
the funniest movie ever.

Television: I watch reality tv. I watched American Idol for 3
seasons so I could talk to my kids about it. I suspect they've never
read my reviews though or at least would never admit to it. I suspect
I'm the only person in America who watched both weeks of ABC's "The One�." Now that it's cancelled, I'm sure I am the only one.

also have always been drawn to the dating/mating shows, because I was a
nerdy asocial teenager. My wife grew up cute and popular and still is
both of those things. I may be the only person in America who saw all
episodes of Average Joe and actually have watched whole episodes of
Parent Control, Elimidate, Fifth Wheel, and Next (I wouldn't have
been allowed to get out of the bus). I even still follow the Bachelor.

Hobbies: I collect stuffed images of Stuart Little and other stuffed
members of the rodent family through E-Bay including a Hamster that
sings Kung-Fu Fighting. I believe that Stuart Little is the most serene
member of the animated cartoon character pantheon and E.B. White's
book traces an American version of the story of the Buddha. Sadly, the
rest of my family does not share my beliefs and my Stuart icons often
get thrown around the house by them.

I also like to bicycle, but
always stop riding whenever I get more than three flats in a month.
Since we have no money to maintain roads in California, I haven't
ridden as much as I used to. I rode from Los Angeles to New York once.

Sports: I've played pickup basketball since I was 13. It's gotten
harder to do as I've gotten older because I don't own a pickup truck. I
would watch world cup soccer, but it's too "pitchy".

BELLA: How would you describe your blog?

CHANCELUCKY: It's green. It has pictures on it. I check it constantly for signs that
anyone else in the world has looked at it. I'd worry about what a
psychologist might think of me if he or she read it.

Writing_journal_3BELLA: Why
do you blog? What was your original goal or intention when you started,
and has that changed with time? Is your blog a means to an end (finding
work, developing creative ideas, making money, meeting people), or does
it exist for its own sake?

CHANCELUCKY: I've written most of my adult life with very limited commercial
success. I used to get very excited about writing something I was proud
of, but then obsess over trying to get it published which kept me from
writing until it did (which almost never happened) and gave me writer's
block whenever it got rejected or just ignored (which almost always

I figured if I had a blog, I could pretend that people were reading
it or at least could and I could then move on to writing the next post.

My understanding of my own blogging changes constantly. I think of
Chancelucky as an extension of myself that really doesn't exist
offline. In regular life, I'm the sort who goes to parties and
dinners, leaves early, and comes home without actually talking to
anyone including whoever I went there with. I also tend to ask more
questions about others than I answer about myself. Blogging seems to
let some other side of me out. It's sort of like "Chucky", the
psychotic doll who is more or less inanimate when people see him but
who wanders around in the middle of the night when no one notices and
lives his other life. It happens that "Chucky"� is an abbreviated
version of "Chancelucky." I think that was just a coincidence, but
I'm not sure. Wanna play?

BELLA: Is there one particular post that you think exemplifies your work, or represents your best writing?

CHANCELUCKY: I think of myself as a fiction writer, so the fiction posts are
actually the most important to me. I currently like My Father's Paradox, which
sat in my head for almost twenty years after I met and talked to Daniel
Ellsberg's first wife. Hardly anyone reads the short stories on my site
though, which probably should be telling me something, but "Chucky"
won't let it go.

How often do you Google yourself, check yourself on Technorati, see how
many people link to or bookmark you, and/or pore over your referral
logs and visitor statistics?

CHANCELUCKY: This is like asking alcoholics how often they drink.

Is there one particular post that garnered you an atypically large
reader response or number of referrals from search engines? If so, why
do you think that is?

CHANCELUCKY: My American Idol reviews have been really popular because I think
there are a lot of people out there who realize that the show really
shouldn't be taken all that seriously. Of course, the irony is that I
spent all those hours writing posts that joked about people taking the
show too seriously.

90210 brought me a bunch of readers for those posts as did Sirlinksalot.
should mention that I was heavily influenced by Daniel Drennan's
reviews some 10 years ago of Beverly Hills 90210, a show I also watched
with my daughters. He eventually got a book contract out of it, but
he's one of these individuals who probably influenced how a lot of
people blog about tv more than he gets credit for. (Damn, I keep ending
sentences with prepositions.)

I've also noticed a similarity between my American Idol Reviews and
Dave White's reviews on the Advocate's webpage. Since Drennan and Dave
White are both gay, I'm a little scared that the Conservatives will
find my blog and annul my marriage.

The single most poplular post on my blog is the Book of Judas, which was one of my early entries in what became my Karl Rove
series. The weird thing is that no one read it for several months until
it turned out that there was a "real" Gospel of Judas that wound up
being about exactly what I suggested Karl Rove's Book of Judas would
read like.

I'm not sure what Fundamentalist types think when they find it, but
God hasn't revealed anything to me since. My script for Rambo Four also
gets a lot of hits, but there's no sign that anyone's actually read
it and Sly has not sent me any early rushes of the real Rambo Four.

BELLA: What are some of your favorite, "must-read" blogs? What keeps you going back again and again?

CHANCELUCKY: I like blogs that are personal and individual, but by people who can
write reasonably well and have things to say. Funny helps a whole lot
as well. is an old real life friend of mine who loves
to play with words in bogglingly inventive ways and writes about
politics from a Mayan-futurist perspective.

GSMSO is the mother of a soldier who died in friendly
fire in Iraq who wants to keep other parents from having to go through
what she has. She's very raw and seems to keep picking up power in her
blogging voice with each post.

Pissed off Patricia and Coffee and Varnish also came to my attention
fairly recently and share a quality of silly, serious, and sarcastic at
any given moment that I like to think happens in my own blog. I also
like your blog.

Hand_writingBELLA: What kind of person is the likeliest reader of your blog? What would you hope they get out of reading you?

CHANCELUCKY: I fully expect that a description of anyone who reads all of my blog
would be in the DSM IV somewhere. I have 4 different audiences with
Chancelucky. 1) volleyball folk 2) progressive political folk 3) people
who read pop culture reviews 4) the two people who read my fiction.

It does all link together in a weird way. The volleyball got tied to
a "parents' rights" movement in junior volleyball. Teen girls are a big
part of the Idol audience. A lot of my fiction is about cultural
artifacts that get stuck together unexpectedly like say volleyball,
reality tv, and Karl Rove in bicycle shorts.

If I have a common message for those audiences, it's speak up for yourself, but read the original sources first.

Are there people in your life who don't "get the whole blog thing?" How
do you explain it to them without feeling as nerdy and defensive as I
usually do?

CHANCELUCKY: Most don't, particularly my immediate family. They think I'm nerdy and
defensive anyway, so there's not a lot to explain. As my older
daughter told me, "Wow, I have to tell you it's weird that you
write about American Idol."

BELLA: What's your relationship with your readers? How much interaction do you encourage?

CHANCELUCKY: I've become online friends with a couple of the people I've
crosslinked. Most started as commenters on my blog or with my
commenting on theirs. I like to socialize online. I guess because in
person and on the phone, I'm not very interesting. I'm happy to
exchange e-mail, talk on the phone, etc. I do draw the line at phone or
cyber sex with any of my blog readers. It's not like there's
anything wrong with that, but I'd go broke really fast having to pay
them for the service and have a hard time explaining it to my family.

BELLA: How much do you self-censor, knowing that your friends and family might be reading?

CHANCELUCKY: Enough to keep some plausible deniability in my offline life.

Have you ever heard yourself say something like "If you really cared
about me/were really interested in me, you'd look at my blog"? Is this
a fair thing to throw at, say, your sister, during an argument over who
gets the nicest drumstick at Thanksgiving?

CHANCELUCKY: Not many people I know in the offline world know that I blog. I've
noticed that when I do tell someone, I have this very unrealistic
expectation that that person will suddenly become a regular reader.
they have turkeys with three or more legs in the Midwest? The turkeys
who wander my neighborhood in California only have two drumsticks so we
only argue about who gets the "nicer" drumstick while hitting one
another over the head with the Chicago Manual of Style.

BELLA: Do you video blog? Would or will you? Are there any video blogs that you look at? What would you video blog about, if you did?

CHANCELUCKY: I would if I knew how and had a better video camera. I actually got inspired to look into it by some of your video posts.

BELLA: Have you ever blogged something that later you regretted and/or deleted from your blog?

CHANCELUCKY: Well, one time I misread a pentagon casualty report and thought I had a
major story about the misreporting of fatalities in Iraq and as soon as
I picked up the mistake had to take it offline right away. Fortunately,
no one actually saw the thing before I caught the mistake. It was an
interesting experience in learning to read governments and how it's
easy to get excited and post something before you've double-checked

I have a loved one who has a traumatic brain injury, so I suspect I'm
more sensitive to the "wounded" totals than many folk and maybe
that's why I rushed the post.

What are your thoughts on the phenomenon of "doocing," wherein someone
loses their job because of things they posted on a personal blog? Are
you careful to maintain a clear line between your online self and your
real world self?

CHANCELUCKY: It makes me think of Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash" for some reason. I think of
my blog as an extension of me but not necessarily me. I keep them
separate for that reason, but am increasingly aware that they share a
psyche. When I start e-mailing or IM'ing with myself, I'll really start to worry. Personally,
though I believe work requires you to do certain tasks but no one owns
your mind. I see blogging as an extension of one's mind, or self. It's
like speaking through a keyboard. Unless you work in a Cistercian
monastery, the question should be are you getting your duties done?

BELLA: Are you conscious of creating an online persona? How is that persona different from the real world you?

CHANCELUCKY: My blog self is taller, better looking, has fresher breath, and is way
more attractive to women. Blog self also never throws cross court no
look passes on the fast break. Blog self is also much more assertive
and riskier than my offline self. I suspect that's why my wife doesn't
like my hanging out with my online self. We did fool her once, that was
the night she started calling out Chris Daughtry's name. I probably
shouldn't have revealed that, but my online self took control there for
a moment. Stuart Little didn't approve and refused to speak to either
my online self or me for almost a week after that. I had to get his red
convertible washed and promise him that I would use Strunk and White as
my style reference from now on.

BELLA: How long have you been online, and what kinds of things have you done online (chat rooms, message boards, games, aimless surfing, etc.)? How has this changed your life, for the better or worse?

CHANCELUCKY: I started online in 1991 though I had e-mailed some in 1987. I surf
aimlessly constantly in hopes that I’ll find some metaphysical truth
hidden in the web. I think of it as a modern version of the Oracle of

The online obsession has impacted me in some weird ways. I
start sweating and hyperventilating if I can't get on the web for more
than a few hours. I now hear news and think about ways to blog about
it. A friend was having a baby and was asking me about names and all my
suggestions started with "http://www." He got really mad when I told
him that his surname wasn't a valid domain.

I was filling out my driver's license renewal the other day and put my ISP in as my home address.

Fortunately, I'm not addicted or anything. That would be really bad.


BELLA: How long do you think you will continue to blog? What are the circumstances under which you can imagine yourself quitting?

CHANCELUCKY: They'll have to take the keyboard out of my cold dead hands. I'd say
I'd quit once I'm brain dead, but right wing bloggers keep going
anyway, so....I mean how many oxycontin do you have to have your maid
buy for you before you actually fry your brain?

I wonder if they'll have little blue pills for guys who can't get their post or hit counts up anymore?

BELLA: What's the coolest thing that's come out of your blogging experience?

CHANCELUCKY: I'm writing much more than I ever have and reaching more readers than I
ever did before thanks to a technology that didn't exist when I started
writing. I also value many of the friendships I've made through my blog
even when the friendship is nothing more than a kind word in a comment
or someone linking me.


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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Earthlink and Line Slamming

Earthlink slammed my home dsl line last week. I had originally ordered earthlink, then learned from them that they couldn't serve my house. I cancelled my order on March 23, 2005 was given a confirm number for the cancellation and then got service from SBC Yahoo. After getting my SBC Yahoo setup working for a week, I lost DSL service. After 2 hours of phone calls to SBC, I got a phone call from their technical support telling me that I had "ordered" Earthlink /Covad and that SBC could not restore my line until I cancelled Earthlink.

For 5 hours on a Saturday, I tried to explain to 4 different companies that I had not ordered Earthlink and that they had invaded my line on April 6 or 2 weeks after I had, according to their own records, cancelled my service. Earthlink finally fessed up, but never really apologized, and then tried to blame Covad. Covad had proof that Earthlink convenientily and to their benefit never notified them of the cancellation. I then asked Earthlink to compensate me for trespassing on my line and disrupting my service. After 3 levels of technical support, they said they couldn't authorize anything like that and I would have to take it up with corporate who could only be sued in the state of Georgia and btw, they had no phone number and refuse anything that isn't certified. Oh, by the way, even though it was their fault it would take 3-5 business days to disconnect my line and once done, I would have to call SBC yahoo to reestablish my service.

I waited 3 business days and called Earthlink to ask the simple question, have you disconnected my line yet? I then went through 3 levels of technical support before anyone could give me an answer.

Apparently when it comes to phone service, line slamming is punishable with a fine. This is not yet the case with DSL service according to SBC Yahoo's technical support folk. I believe that companies like Earthlink are doing this on purpose and they are essentially the Michael Jackson's of DSL service because they feel free to play with my lines without my permission and think nothing of it. They weren't even in a rush to fix the situation.

If you have Earthlink, drop them.
If someone asks you to recommend a DSL provider, never recommend Earthlink
If you are a hacker and want to mess with a service provider....

I'd love to hear about similar experiences with line slamming. It seems like my state's PUC ought to be interested in the problem.

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Eric Rudolph and our Double Standard about Terrorism

Before 9/11 there was Oklahoma City. After 9/11 there was the anthrax scare which the last time I saw it appear in the news got traced to American sources. Now it's the Atlanta Olympics bombing and a series of abortion clinic bombings which 9 years after the fact finally have gotten solved with a plea bargain? Why is it that Right to Life Americans seem more appalled by Michael Schiavo than Eric Rudolph?

Today, the president endorsed Tom Delay, who is both a Russian agent (he apparently took money to do the bidding of a Russian lobbying group) and someone who let his mother strangle his father even though his father still seemed able to recognize people?

Right wing terrorism by Americans in America poses as much a threat to the US as Al Qaeda. While they didn't find WMD in Iraq, there were stories that a right wing group in Texas was stockpiling biological weapons. I don't understand why these stories seem to disappear so quickly and why the leaders of the "mainstream" right in this country are so hesitant to condemn or disassociate from the Eric Rudolphs.


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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Regionals (2004) volleyball

(pun alert)
They made us get here at 7:45 so we could ref a match. My daughter's team played its first match at 11:30. That's a lot of waiting for kids raised on MTV. It did, however, give us some time to bond. After I finished berating her for not being tall enough we got to discuss really cool things like why the Electoral College doesn't give volleyball scholarships. She stared at me sort of blankly when I explained that popularity wasn't everything. I also got to tell her about my time playing beach doubles with my partner Natasha and how we quit after we lost to the same pair like 250 times in a row. The Moose was big and a little on the slow side and I didn't think it was fair that the refs let her block with her antlers, but that squirrel had the most incredible vertical. Add in the fact that the ref kept calling Natasha's cigarette holder in the net and my black trench coat and hat weren't really very comfortable on the beach and this Boris Hadanoff. Finally, we spent a little time talking about Proposition 231 which we're going to get on the California ballot for November. It lets the libero serve in high school matches. Darrell Issa is helping me get the signatures. In the first five days we got two hundred thousand Californians to sign our initiative because we told them it would reduce their taxes and keep immigrants out of the state, especially the ones identified in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Unfortunately, Michael Savage and other conservatives are opposing the proposition as affirmative action for short volleyball players and thus yet another libero entitlement program.

(Boris goes to the movies yet again)
Much to our surprise, we have found ourselves in the City Beach pool of the Silver Division, with City Beach Green and CB 16 1. The Empire 16's team was upset on Saturday so they wound up in silver too which must be really confusing for the other 5 clubs. This is funnier if you happen to have seen the physical differences between Empire 16 and Empire 15. The 16's are very tall. The 15's are noticeably smaller at every position except the defensive specialists. Our last opponent yesterday was City Beach 15 Black, the match we had to win to get here and which may have lost CB its club bid. You know the last scene in the Karate Kid where Ralph Macchio has bouts with an endless succession of mean guys from the bad sensei's dojo? This City Beach thing sort of felt like that, though I don't want to suggest that City Beach has any bad senseis. While were on the topic, does anyone find it interesting that Pat Morita was nominated for an academy award for the first Karate Kid which featured Elizabeth Shue who won one after she moved to Las Vegas (though not to play in the big volleyball tournament there) and that the last Karate Kid was Hillary Swank who made that boy cry after she six packed him in the face and then she won an academy award. Even weirder, Ralph Macchio is in like one other movie as an adult, My Cousin Vinny, which got Marisa Tomei an academy award. So if any of you have kids who want to get into acting, don't push them to be in movies with Ben Kingsley or Meryl Streep, the key is to get that role opposite Ralph Macchio. Maybe forty years from now they'll give Ralph one of those lifetime achievement Oscars for making all his costars look like fantastic actors (I think I said that just the right way :}). I don't really want to think too much about what a 70 year old Ralph Macchio might look like on HDTV though. I did see a 45 year old Mark Hamill once. He was playing a father son grass doubles with Darth Vader. They got into an argument with the referee over whether using the force to dig a ball counts as one of your three contacts. Darth started to grab the referee by the neck, but Mark was able to use a Jedi mind trick to keep them from getting the yellow card. Come to think of it, the death star did look a lot like a big volleyball and that name Skywalker is pretty much made for this sport. Actually, people don't know this but Darth was one of the founders of Empire Volleyball Club.

(uniformed volleyball opinions ahead)
I don't know much about the events that led to the balkanization of penninsula volleyball. A few years later, it does appear that Vision is getting more than its share of tall athletic players. That's not to say that they're the best volleyball players or athletes, I'm talking purely at a superficial level. I would have to say that at least in under 15's City Beach got the short end of it, though they do have the best club backpacks. That said, all the City Beach teams that I've seen are fundamentally sound and tenacious. I think the coaches have done well to keep their teams in the mix. Last year, the three City Beach teams playing in the 14's were the measure of success for the improvement of our 14's. Once we got to the point where we could beat City Beach, we could tell ourselves that we were genuinely pretty good. Because we spent most of this year in like the Walmart division of Norcals, we had very few opportunities to play City Beach teams. We got stomped twice by CB 16 1 at the very beginning of the year. One weekend CB 15 Black kept us out of bronze. A year ago, we played City Beach teams something like 15 times and Delta Valley Blue 8 times.

While I think this year's grouping together of 15-16's in leagues was generally positive, one unfortunate result was that we never played most of the other better 15's teams even though we spent much of the year as one fo the top 10 15's teams. CB black was the only team we played twice. We never played GB 15 1, Delta Valley, Kalani, CB 15 green. We played Vision, Yahoo, Force, and Main Beach once each. The familiarity helped make last year more fun. Given that the Empire 16's have a larger than usual number of 9th graders on their roster too, I would venture to say that the 15's as a group is a stronger and deeper class than the 16's in this region. The one exception would be the Sports City 16's, but otherwise the best of the 15's were more than competitive with the best of the 16's. (though this is skewed by the fact that Golden Bear and Vision''s 16-1 teams played up in the 18's). I'd also mention that there are some very strong 8th graders who compete well or could compete well in the 16's. Nevada County has at least one, Golden Bear 15 has one who's already gotten national attention, Yahoo 14's had a very good left and middle who were 7th graders last year, City Beach 13's from a year ago had a bunch of current 8th graders who were strong players and there were twins on CB14B last year (may still be in 14's for CB or other clubs), Empire 15M also added a good 8th grade middle this year who replaced the 7th grader who moved to San Diego and Epic last summer. Those are just the ones I know about. It should be interesting to see how many sophomores and freshmen have an impact this year on Norcal High School teams.
We managed to catch City Beach Green fresh from playing CB 16 1, an emotionally draining match for most teams. Partly because of that, we won the match in two games. CB16 1 was the only team that we played against as many as three times this year. In fact, they were the first team to beat us this year at the kickoff classic, which they won, with a combination of skill, experience, and just enough hitting. It wasn't close at kickoff. It wasn't close at the qualifier. It wasn't close at regionals. Each time we played them, we found ourselves wondering why we made so many mistakes, why we couldn't hit, and why we couldn't block. In each case, we had just come off a very good match where we seemed to do all those things. Three losses later, I think it has a lot to do with CB 16's simply being that good. Balls that are kills for us against other teams simply aren't against CB16. We also couldn't stop their leftside hitter or their middle. I'm not sure how they slipped down to silver.

Our crossover match was with Quake City, which the last time we had seen them, they were down in the Aqua division blocking our way to bronze. One of the more interesting stories of this qualifier was that two Aqua teams upset silver and gold teams in their pools which made the whole who was gonna get a bid business unexpectedly confusing. I was one of a few people who had complained about the seedings/qualifier system at the beginning of the season. Empire 15M had come into the qualifier seeded 27th. After landing in a pool w/ CB16 and Nevada County, we had to play a bunch of very low seeds to keep our ranking. I had been shocked at how good teams that were supposed to be in the 60's and mid 40's were. Towards the end of the qualifier, we fell into blue by losing a close match against a surprisingly strong Arrowhead team and found ourselves going to league as the number 44 team. At the time, I complained that those teams couldn't possibly have been seeded accurately and Empire 15M had gotten jobbed. Our winding up in silver at regional would logically appear to be proof of that, but I now believe something a little different.

One of the teams we beat at qualifier was Golden Bear 15 2 which started the year in Cobalt or Dusk. That same team won a club bid at Far Westerns. At Stockton we were very lucky to come from behind against a Delta Valley 16 2 team that started the year in the 60's. The truth appears to have been more a matter of the 16's this year being extremely deep. With the exception of Sports City and Nevada County, I suspect that a lot of the teams in the top 50 could have given any other team in the top 50 a very difficult match. Hence a team like Golden Bear 15 1 could spend the year in Bronze then finish fourth at regionals. Southern Oregon, the surprise team of the qualifier which went in seeded 120 and came out third, went from gold to bronze then back to gold.
On the other end of the food chain, Quake City and Empire 15 went from Blue to Silver. In league, whether we were in Blue or Aqua, there were always a couple teams that could beat us. One of those had been Quake City.
We hadn't been cursed with a bad draw in the qualifier (well maybe a little bit),it was more like not all the good teams in under 16's could be in the metal divisions this year.

The match with Quake City was close, but we had a harder time with them than teams further up in the standings. It's easy to take regional rankings as a kind of rigid arbitrer of the order of things. Sports and I suspect life don't really work that way. In other words, just because Main Beach beat SF Juniors, it doesn't mean that a team ranked lower than SF Juniors can't beat Main Beach. You only play one match at a time and the truth is that it's all about matchups. As a small, fairly athletic, but sometimes erratic team, Empire 15M doesn't match up well with Quake City, which has big able middles and an entire team that reads and defends the tip zone as well as any gold team. To beat Quake City, you have to hit well, which means you have to hit over them and you can't rely on tips to break their runs. The second game was actually very close. At 21, the referee who bore a strong resemblance to Bob from the Enzyte commercials they run on ESPN after ten at night, called a phantom touch. He explained that he hadn't really seen it, just heard it. Apparently, Enzyte has some undisclosed side effects: this was one noisy gym. One of our setters got two very gutsy kills on pipes hit to the corner down the stretch to keep it close even at the end. I honestly don't know if we would have won a third game, even if there had been one. By winning the match, Quake City had to play Empire 16 M. The first game was close, but Empire 16 was too big and too quick over Quake City, a team that was too big and too quick to the tip for us.

Between matches, I wandered outside to the spot where our team was camped. A quick thinking father from our team had recognized that sun, black asphalt, limited water, and intense volleyball was about as good for 14 year old girls as locking yourself in your room and listening to rap music at high volume for several hours while talking on your cellphone without anytime minutes. Between matches, he had slipped off to Target and bought one of those portable pavillion now increasingly popular at tournaments in our region. Basically, it's a tarp with a bunch of unmarked metal poles crammed into a package the size of a boombox, which when you think about it is topologically the same thing as a volleyball net and poles. The Nevada County parents next to us had spent the morning sitting under their pavillion which was the kind that comes in one multi-jointed pre-assembled peice. After five of our parents spent the better part of the morning trying to put our Target special up, the Nevada County parents were kind enough to help us instead of laugh at our ineptitude. I guess this is the reason they are in the top three in the region and we were in Aqua before today. Another one of our parents also appeared later that day with a Hefty-Bag sized package of popsicles.
I share these stories so that players can understand that parents do not spend their entire day at tournaments yelling at the peer refs (always someone else's daughters) to pay attention and get the freaking score right or questioning coaches about playing time in the middle of critical matches. Parents do perform many vital duties that ensure a junior team's ultimate success. By the way, if anyone wants to buy one of those pavillions really cheap, I know a guy who has one to sell, though it won't fit back in its original box for some reason. Once the pavillion was up, our team climbed inside away from prying parent eyes and ears to happily read teen magazines and plan ways to get tatoos and piercings without having to tell us. Fwiw, there were even a couple kids around the gym doing homework, something much less common at boys' sports events.

In the interim, I had a chance to see the gold division and muse on questions like, "Why aren't we in gold, they aren't better than my daughter's team, etc." One of the notable things about gold is that there were 3 15's teams already there. Yahoo 15, Delta Valley (which added some taller players and moved their left to libero), and City Beach (a team good enough to qualify in open yet spend much of the year in bronze) wound up defining the middle of the pack. Vision 15, as good as any of the 15's teams (also an open qualifier) had gotten upset and wound up in silver, though by luck of the draw we didn't play them. There was one very good three game match between Yahoo and City Beach. While we might challenge these teams, I have no "might have been or only if" vibes about the 15's teams that wound up clearly ahead of us, one sign that after all the fuss, the whole thing shook out reasonably well, at least from our perspective. The very top of the under 16's Sports City, Nevada County, and Force seemed appeared to have an edge both in size and experience over the more precocious 15's. which I guess is the cliched answer to questions like this, but I honestly didn't see vast differences in coaching, talent, system, etc. at the very top which is I think a good thing unless you're a fan of a particular coach or club or are convinced that someone's an idiot. (of course, none of us talk that way around here)

As the day wore on, coaches started to make deals about either leaving or playing one game matches to finish their pools, one really unfortunate side effect of the court shortage. We eventually finished our day with a very satisfying win against Mother Lode which notably had an extremely tall, rightside/setter who hit, blocked, played back row, and had very good hands.

Oh year, I forgot to talk about Saturday. I've found that a lot of years the difference between a satisfying year and a frustrating one comes down to a couple good days or bad days. So often, the bad day could have easily been a really good day if not for a couple points, which is I guess what makes it all so painful. On Saturday, a day that basically made our season thus far, we played three three game matches all decided by two points in the third game. We started with Players, the silver team, with a great slender left-handed rightside player with a big swing, a really good mobile middle (I've noticed that a lot of teams in under 16s seem to hit harder from the right and middle than the left), and a smart setter. Btw, the Players 16 coach looked strikingly similar to last year's Yahoo 14's coach. I'd also mention that John Stevenson now a guiding light for the Players Club who has a side job as the St. Mary's coach also used to coach for Empire (Players, the club is improving rapidly) (I think he might have played some beach at one time :}). They won the first game easily, then we surprised them in the second (they may have been over confident), but we were also playing as well as we had all year with every player on the team refusing to give up on any ball and the back row playing its best match of the year and one of our middles got a solo block that sent the message that we could play with Players. The third game went to 13-13 and as we had on a few occasions this year tightened up just as we had a chance to win.
Convinced that we might never close this mental toughness gap, I had resigned myself to a tough match with Yahoo 16, the number one team in the pool. We had narrowly lost to Yahoo 15's in Reno in a match where we played at the absolute top of our game. We expected to lose badly. I have no idea why it didn't happen. We won the first game. Yahoo started the second game with a monster kill, putting us back in our place, and went on to win it 25-9. I had a family obligation and missed most of the second game and the entire third game. Much to my shock, I came back to find out that we had won our biggest match of the year and made things very scary for Yahoo 16's expected club bid.

One oddity of upsetting the 1 seed as the four seed in the pool is that it does you no good unless you manage to also beat either the two or three seed. City Beach 15 Black, the third seed, in the pool had gone 3 with Players.
We had some tough calls in the first game, but the match was essentially even with CB 15 winning the first game, the sort of event that had us howling at the Yahoo refs for seemingly refusing to make close line calls (I know we're not supposed to do that and I don't know why parents wind up getting more excited about these matches than the kids do. It's not healthy. All I can say is that Mrs. Boris, who normally keeps me in check, was on a plane for a family matter and as you can tell by now I'm not entirely sane) We stiffened and forced a third game. The CB B coach gets a lot out of his players and also has a very intense style. In close matches, he has a running monologue, part instruction, part sportscast, part fierce advocate on the tight calls. Last year, he just barely lost a club bid in regionals after beating a Golden Bear, a team that ultimately finished well up in JO Open last summer, then losing to Empire 14. This year, their club bid came down once again to a match with Empire 15 at regionals. Fueled by JO visions, CB pulled ahead 14-11. Between 10 and 11 a point mysteriously appeared for CB, it might have been a justified correction, but it was feeling like we would get no breaks in this match.
An Empire player who had missed a key serve or two in previous rally games went to the line and made three good serves. Throughout the match, CB's smaller hitters had had good success hitting low and directly between our block. Somehow, we started getting soft blocks instead and CB seemed ever so slightly nervous. At 13-14, our setter ran a C to our middle who hit full force straight into a double block. The ball popped back, landing several inches out of bounds. The game and match ended with an ace at 17-15 on an Empire ace and so did CB's bid for a club bid, a sad moment for a very valiant tenacious group. In the final match, Players upset a very frustrated Yahoo team in two which assured us silver. Only then did it occur to me that we had missed the gold division by two shanked serves in the Players match. On the other hand, we had missed landing in Aqua again by that one missed block by CB in the rally game. Gold to Aqua, bid or no bid, there was an awful lot at stake for teams which that day were so very close top to bottom.

So much in volleyball hangs on just a couple points. So much of the last four years depended on just a few hanging chads. Perhaps it's not a bad thing for our children to learn that every point might matter and maybe my daughter will get that scholarship to the electoral college after all.

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

chancelucky photo

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Friday, April 01, 2005

The OJ Effect

In the wake of a controversial court decision, a virtual mob of mourners carries signs and shouts slogans for a swarm of television cameras. In the meantime, lurid stories about the family spread viruslike through attempts to discuss any serious issues the case presents. The governor, the president, even our talk show royalty get involved. More Americans can argue the issues in this matter which in reality has little to no impact on their actual lives than they can about war, the quality of public education, budget deficits, or universal health insurance. It's all too familiar.
Today the object of their attention is Terri Schiavo, a 41 year old woman who has been in a vegetative state for 14 years as this generation's Karen Quinlan. Why the fuss? The Republican Right is evidently angry at Michael Schiavo because he hired a malpractice attorney and successfully raised everyone's health insurance rates through a frivolous million dollar suit. Because of his abuse of the legal system, their leaders have sought to protect his wife from him by making sure he can't carry out her wishes. There is after all a big difference between saying " I don't ever want to be on a ventilator, I'd rather just die." and "But if they ever put me on a feeding tube and my brain has no electrical activity, I want to live as long as possible." Am I the only one who thinks its strange that there's a crisis there because a woman can't die on her own in a place that Ponce De Leon found while looking for the Fountain of Youth? Which I suppose is just as odd as the thought of people seeking court orders to force a bulimic woman to take nourishment. In any case, this is one of the first times Republicans politicians have ever shown this much concern for victims of spousal abuse.
Cynics say it's really all about positioning the party for the 2008 election. I just have to say they are working awfully hard to make sure they keep their traditional voter base of persistently vegetative individuals. If, however, Terri Schiavo does vote in the 2008 election, I will vote Republican especially if she is nominated for Secretary of State there. Others think Michael Schiavo brought this on himself because he got inolved with another woman. Had he been in a gay marriage, this of course would never have happened. The Schindlers would have been able to legally prevent him from visiting his spouse while she was in intensive care. In any case, in their eyes if you get involved with someone who isn't legally your wife, you lose any rights as a husband. Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston, and Henry Hyde's offices, however, all declined comment on this. Well, Gingrich's press secretary did say there is a very real difference between what Michael Schiavo has done and cheating on a dying wife who is still conscious, one is adultery and the other is just politics. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get them to clarify which was which.
A few years earlier, it was Elian Gonzales, a boy whose mother had died while trying to get them out of Cuba by boat. Thousands of people rallied to protect young Elian from his father, whose apparent crime was that he liked being Cuban and wanted to live with his son but whose former in laws declared they were better suited to look after Elian because they believed in capitalism and Miami public schools had never left any ESL student behind. Sadly, it ended because the Federal Government went much too far and involved itself forcibly in the situation thus interfering with the sanctity of extended family who had never met their nephew in favor of a father who can buy Cohibas legally. We now know that the problem was that Elian's mother died without a living will saying that she was leaving her son to the United States and the American Spectator. Because this was supposedly her dying wish, it was the American thing to do to make sure it was honored even if it wasn't in writing. It is very sad that Castro used this innocent child as a propaganda tool for his repressive regime where prisoners are held without charges and sometimes moved in the middle of the night to places where they can be tortured in ways that seem more perverse than effective.
Two more Florida tabloid phenomena come to mind. There's the 2000 presidential election when those public service ads reminding people that "every vote counts" took on an unexpected double meaning that left five people anxious to make certain that George W. Bush got equal protection in a state where his brother is governor. Lurid stories circulated about the governor, the secretary of state, about precinct officials and something called the "butterfly kiss" until the U.S. Supreme Court did its bit to make the United States safe for terrorists in Florida flight schools by appointing a president who keeps misplacing Osama and mistaking warnings about possible highjackings as historical treatises. You do remember where President Bush was on the morning of 9/11, in a Florida classroom reading an apparently very compelling book about goats.

Even in sports, there's a Florida tabloid angle. After all, who set off the latest round of congressional hearings before the Palm Sunday Emergency session, it was none other than Miami resident Jose Canseco. Who is Jose Canseco's biggest detractor in the major leagues other than errant fly balls in deep left, none other than Tampa native, Tony Larussa, the man who swore that there was no way that Mark Mcgwire could ever have done steroids. Bouyed by Larussa's character reference, Mcgwire then put the scandal to rest with his forthright testimony before the committee. Before Canseco, it was Rickey Williams, the Dolphins running back who decided it was more important to explore his spiritual side by taking hits of marijauna instead of from linebackers.

There is no doubt that the state of Florida has become the capital of America’s most critical industry, the manufacture of tabloid stories. Colorado has done its part with Joan Benet Ramsey and Kobe Bryant and California still clings to its traditions with the Michael Jackson trial but they're clearly not in the same class with Florida. People are starting to say "Geez, only in Florida." Now, as a Californian, this has intrigued me because ten years ago they used to always say "Only in California."

As someone who grew up in the sixties, I remember the events then that bound all survivors of that decade together. JFK, Martin Luther King, Bobby, the Moon Landing, Selma, Vietnam, Woodstock. Forty years later, my daughter’s list of shared cultural events is shaped more by Pitt vs. Anniston than say the New York Times v. the United States or Cox v. Nixon. The Manson murders not Civil Rights turned out tobe the decade’s legacy to 21st century media.

How did this happen though? And why did it all move to Florida?
Then last night, it hit me like a ton of Janet Reno impersonators, there is only one sensible explanation for why all socio-cultural excess has moved from California to Florida. I saw the same media circus almost exactly eleven years ago in California for yet another watershed cultural event, People lining the streets with sgns, controversial court decisions, deep divisions on guilt or innocence, extended speculation about marital habits, tv cameras and tabloid stories pushing asside real news. It was the O.J. Simpson trial.
And where did OJ move after the civil trial awarded the Goldmans millions of dollars they will never see, he is living out his grief as a widower on a golf course in Florida. O.J. Simpson is the American god of Tabloid events. Wherever he goes, mischief follows. While he uses his godly powers to find Nicole’s killers on the 14th hole, his tears make social cultural earthquakes that hypnotize Americans into a television-tabloid black hole, a massed collection of mesmerizing events that consume our collective consciousness. Even internet blogs can not escape.

Terri Schiavo, Elian Gonzales, Bush v. Gore, Jose Canseco in a bathroom stall all in Florida each event taking place after O.J. moved there. Think about it when you say OJ and Florida, anti-gay crusader Anita Bryant is no longer the first person who pops to mind.

My inevitable conclusion is that O.J. Simpson is the American version of Loki, the Norse God of mischief who interestingly enough was both unusually big and athletic, funny in a non-Leslie Nielsen movie sort of way, and accused of murdering Baldir. I am not a specialist in Norse lore, but Loki is possibly the most post-modern figure in ancient mythology in that he is neither clearly evil or good. His legacy is one of chaos, clever schemes,scandalous sex, drunken binges, narrow escapes, and the meanest practical jokes of all time. At the same time, the Gods depend on Loki to get them out of trouble that even they can't find a way out of. Does that sound like O.J. or what? Well, I have to admit, it also sounds like George W. Bush before he discovered Christ. It also occurs to me that had O.J. stayed in California he might now be my state's pro-life governor instead of our current anti-steroids governor.

Americans have grown increasingly aware of the bitter cultural war that divides our country. There are scientific-humanists on one end who believe in science-based policy and education, worry about the environment, talk about international cooperation, embrace things like vegetarianism, gay marriage, multiculturalism, and a woman's right to choose. On the other side are religious rovieans who talk about the Bible and the Constitution being a single document, about the sanctity of life except for death row inmates and Moslems in countries with oil reserves, the primacy of American culture and power, promise keeping households, and who equate personal and corporate taxes and regulation with Satan or Dan Rather. At the moment, the only way for these two groups to communicate and exchange perspectives is the show Wife Swap. I believe that the time has come to heal this spiritual divide and that healing must start in Florida.

If we want socio-political earthquakes like the Schiavo Case to stop distracting us from serious issues facing our society- ANWR, peace in the Middle East, children with guns, the funding of social services, free and fair elections in other countries, and the pressing need to privatize the social security system- we must address the problem directly. Unfortunately, the solution can not come through an act of Congress, because that august body has not yet changed the Constitution from saying "free exercies of religion" to "free exercise of Christian Fundamentalism" (as the Puritans and Pilgrims intended). We must go straight to the source. To heal our spiritual divide, we must venerate our version of Loki. Instead of erecting giant plaques of the ten commandments in our courthouses and statehouses, I suggest that we build shrines to O.J. Simpson. In each Florida airport, we can replace the Hertz counter with statues of a smiling #32 peeling an orange with a pocket knife, a pair of sunglasses perched atop his head. Each day, before they go through their security inspections, travelers to other states would place an offering of Bruno Maglio shoes at O.J.'s shrine. After all, lurid sensationalism has become our real God and America’s true idol. Why don't we just face the truth? It may be all we have left that binds us together.


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