Thursday, 16 March 2006

Rhetorical NCAA question of the day

Would it kill CBS Sports to buy a couple of HD cameras for their New York studios? Considering they could ammortize the cost across their NFL and NCAA operations, this seems like a no-brainer.

That said, I am somewhat impressed that WRAL and Time Warner are giving us two HD feeds (which may be the only HD feeds they’re transmitting, knowing CBS’ cheapskate ways) and all four regions in SD. If only I really cared about basketball…

Actually, it’s a HD sports bonanza today: World Baseball Classic on ESPN HD (although I could have lived without seeing Bud Selig in hidef), the NCAA tournament on CBS, and an NBA double-header on TNT. No hockey, but what can you do?

Bush-league umpiring

Matthew Shugart has the goods on the most recent example of the World Baseball Classic’s most glaring weakness (besides the lack of live English-language television coverage for most of the games)—the horrible officiating.

Incidentally, for all the discussion of how embarrasing it would be for the U.S. to not win this tournament, consider that (a) the British invented virtually every individual and international team sport, and they now suck at almost all of them (the English Premier League in soccer is the world’s best club league, but the English national team is just one of a half-dozen elite teams in European soccer; the cricket and rugby teams routinely get their butts whipped; British people never win Wimbledon), and (b) it’d probably be more embarrasing for Japan to not make the semi-finals than it would be for the U.S.—baseball is pretty much the only major sport Japan is good at on the international stage.

Speaking of soccer, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the U.S. win a World Cup within 30 years. I think the current world #5 ranking is probably a bit high, but the ascent to the U.S. team from nowhere to the top dozen in the world in the past 20 years has got to be one of the most meteoric rises in the history of the sport. Consider that in the 1986 World Cup, North America (CONCACAF) was represented by the host team Mexico, who did not have to qualify, and Canada; the latter team was a motley collection of indoor-league and ex-NASL players. I’ll even go out on a limb and say that the U.S. will win a World Cup before England’s next win.

The symbolic misuses of politics

Sometimes when you vote in a legislative body, the smart move is to vote for final passage of something that’s not entirely perfect—not, mind you, because your vote matters in the final outcome, but because whatever symbolic value your stand will have will be lost in the muddle of the discussion (see Cleland, ex-Senator Max for the prototypical example).

The administration made exactly this mistake when it chose to vote against the establishment of the new U.N. Human Rights Council yesterday, and went down to ignomious defeat by a 170–4 margin (with three abstentions, two from current human rights cesspools Belarus and Iran, and one from probable future human rights bad boy Venezuela), despite some quite legitimate objections to the new body’s election rules, which had been watered down since the original proposal by Kofi Annan.

So, instead of registering these complaints through some procedure other than voting against final passage of the resolution, the administration instead generated negative public relations fodder like a headline blaring that this represents a ”[h]uman rights defeat for [the] US” and a lede that states that the no vote was an effort to “derail” the formation of the new body, when in fact the administration did not try to derail it at all, instead (further going against “type”) supporting the original proposal from Annan (by the way, that is not an atypical read on the vote).

Bear in mind that, unlike the Kyoto situation (where many of the signatories and ratifiers have no ability to abide, and/or no intention of abiding, by the spirit or letter of the text, and thus not making a fraudulent U.S. commitment was the correct decision) this vote was a purely symbolic exercise—one that, probably wouldn’t have bought the U.S. any real goodwill had it gone the other way, but nonetheless wasn’t worth generating additional gratuitous animosity toward the U.S.

As for the domestic politics angle, the constituency for a “no” vote in this particular instance was about six people, all of whom were going to vote for Pat Buchanan or some Constitution Party lunatic anyway; the mainstream anti-UN crowd in the GOP coalition already was placated by the Bolton appointment, and this vote wouldn’t have made any real difference with them.

Revised and resubmitted

I can no longer feel guilty about having no scholarly accomplishments over spring break, as I finally got the R&R of The Damn Impeachment Paper™ out of the way, along with my measly contribution to July’s issue of PS. Maybe tomorrow I’ll do something with either the strategic voting paper or do something with the silly economic voting idea I have floating around in my head.

In other news, I found out that I have at least a week’s worth of gainful employment for the summer. Now to see if I can con someone else into hiring me for another month or so; although I could pretend I was going to get a lot done over the summer on my scholarship, the reality is that nothing in my life ever gets done without some degree of time pressure—idle hands and all that. Employment would probably make me get something done, as opposed to sitting around the apartment watching World Cup games.

The way things ought to be

University Diaries, on the increasing interest in Loren Pope and Colleges that Change Lives, his guide to 40 of America’s great liberal arts colleges:

As more and more Americans realize how many excellent colleges there are—many of them in settings more inspiring than New Haven—the Ivies run the risk of becoming drab asylums for the status-obsessed.

Run the risk? I’d say they’re mostly post-shark already.