Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Remember, Remember

Remember, remember, 
the Fifth of November, 
the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. 
I know of no reason 
why the Gunpowder Treason 
should ever be forgot.

If you didn't see V is for Vendetta (2005), then you probably did not recognize this poem, written in the Spanish sestet style, which is spoken at the opening of the movie.  Even if you did see it, you might not remember the words at the beginning (but if you did then kudos to you!).

The Gunpowder Treason was an actual event in the early 1600's which occurred when a man named Guy Fawkes was arrested and sentenced to death for attempting to blow up a British government building.  It's his face supposedly represented on the famous mask that V uses in the movie.  V is for Vendetta was one of my favorite movies in college but I'll admit it was basically for the same reasons that kids my age would hang Che posters on their dorm room walls; because revolutionary ideals are exciting in theory and generally make for good TV but are completely irrelevant to the lives of 99.9% of that demographic.  I've continued to watch the movie every year (usually on the Fifth of November, because, come on, the movie specifically asks you to) and while the action scenes are still fun (see embedded video below), the plot really is nothing more than a rendition of George Orwell's novel 1984 with some fun special effects and a satisfying ending. 

Yet I continue to watch it year after year and this year before even watching it, I had the disturbing thought that the fear-based dictatorship portrayed in the movie really isn't as far off and distant as most of us would like to think.  *SPOILER.  Don't read the rest of the paragraph is you haven't seen the movie but want to at some point.*  The crux of the movie is that an extremist politician develops a potent biological weapon and then instead of using it on his nation's enemies, uses it on his own country in order to control them through fear.

Afterward, the politician who has now assumed the role as leader of the monarchy manipulates the media, police and other figures within his country to gain complete power.  He uses fear as a weapon and constantly reinforces that fear with terrifying stories through the media outlets.  As people are too afraid to stand up to him, constantly reminded of the horrifying disease they've overcome, they allow more and more of their personal freedoms to be taken away so they can be "protected."

I'm not going to pretend that the U.S.A. in 2013 is just a couple crazy laws away from the dictatorship imagined here, but let's be honest, there are scary similarities:

- Local news shows crashes, disasters and crime while ignoring stories of good that occur in the community and TV shows show unrealistic amounts of violence.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying violence is bad and it'll encourage kids to shoot up schools or whatever... that's a tired argument that Baby Boomers who long for the days of Leave it to Beaver need to stop using.  However, seeing that amount of violence on TV can have the effect of scaring the population in the same way shown in V.
- The Department of Homeland Security can basically listen on conversations being made by any citizen anywhere in the country under the guise of protecting against terrorism.  A quiet few argued when these laws were enacted, but the general public was quick to condone that loss as they were constantly reminded of the horrifying 9/11 attacks that they'd overcome
- During the recent government shutdown, national parks were "closed," even though most of them by definition belong to the American public, which elects the government.  I was actually in Washington D.C. during the shutdown and at one point I was walking by a tiny strip of grass that was designated as a park.  Because of the shutdown, the park was "closed" and a sign said anyone who stepped on the grass would be prosecuted.  I doubt anything really would have happened but the same can't be said for groups of senior citizens who were put under armed guard for "recreating" or taking pictures at Yellowstone Park on a trip they had paid a lot of money for.

We need to be careful, because I don't want my children or my grandchildren to wake up one day in this terrifying society.  Our founding fathers died for freedoms that are slowly eroding.  But the saddest thing is that we're allowing it to happen.  I don't think extremist changes are needed.  There's no need to go bomb the CIA headquarters but I do think we need to begin reforming things from the top and if the leadership currently in place refuses to do so, then we need to pick people who will fight the power for the people.

I hope that people will read this and realize that they need to demand that the government not restrict our freedom.

The people should control the government not vice versa. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New url

Hey guys, we're moving to a new site, located at http://sporticoblog.blogspot.com. This site will continue on as it had previously with the occasional longer piece.

Monday, June 13, 2011

June 13th update

Mavericks defeat Heat 105-95 to win First Title

- Their leader and best player Dirk Nowitzki struggled in the first half, when he missed 11 of his 12 shots and only scored 3 points, but came through in the end as he has so often in this series, finishing with 21 points and a number of key, last-second shots. Nowitzki was blamed by many for losing the 2006 NBA Finals, also to the Heat, but this title should quell that criticism for good.

- Jason Terry, who had a game high 27 points in the clincher (tied for the most ever for a player coming off the bench in a title-clinching game) looks like he could be Mrs. Cleo's protege.

- It was also the first title for Jason Kidd who is #2 all-time in assists, #3 all-time in 3-pointers made and was 0 for 2 in previous trips to the NBA Finals (both with the New Jersey Nets).

- The Mavericks are now one of only 8 franchises to have won a title since 1984.

Luongo Shines in Game 5 Victory, Putting Canucks within One Game of their First Stanley Cup Championships

- Friday night the Canucks won 1-0 as Luongo posted his second shut-out of the finals (Game 1 being the other) to give Vancouver a 3-2 series lead.

- Game 6 is tonight, with Vancouver looking to win the first Stanley Cup in their 41 year history.

- The Boston Bruins, who have scored 12 goals in the two games they have won while only scoring 2 in the three games they have lost, are back home hoping to avoid elimination and force a game 7.

Friday, June 10, 2011

June 10th update

Roberto Luongo shaky for a second straight game

- Boston Ties up the Stanley Cup finals 2-2 with a 4-0 win behind a strong performance by star goaltender Tim Thomas.

- Both teams' goaltenders have won the Vezina Trophy, given annually to Hockey's best goalie, but over the past two games Vancouver Goalie Roberto Luongo has allowed 12 goals, a massive number for any two game span, let alone two in the finals.

- Luongo brought back memories of the Canucks first round series in which, after being up 3-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks, Luongo forgot how to stop the puck allowing in 11 goals over the next 2 games. He did not play an entire game again until game 7 which Vancouver won 2-1.

Mavs close to within 1 win of NBA title

- The Mavericks were on fire from the 3 point line, making 68% (13-19), which was one short of the record for 3 pointers made in the NBA Finals. Dirk Nowitzki only made 1 3 pointer but led the team with 29 points overall.

- Lebron James had a triple double (at least 10 points, rebounds and assists) but only scored 17. It was the second straight subpar scoring game for James, who has only 25 combined in his last 2 games, despite averaging 28 points per game in his playoff career. He hasn't scored more than 2 points in the 4th quarter since Game 1, when he scored 5.

- Dwayne Wade scored 23 points but suffered a hip injury in the first half that may make him less effective for the remainder of the series. Earlier Thursday afternoon, Wade and James poked fun at reports that Dirk Nowitzki had been sick during game 4.

Final Leg of Horse Racing Triple Crown to be held Saturday

- The race will be held at 6:30 EST but will not feature a Triple Crown winner, as different horses have already been victorious in the first 2 legs. There has not been a Triple Crown winner since 1978 when Affirmed won all 3.

- Animal Kingdom, the Kentucky Derby winner is listed as the favorite at 2-1. Nehro and Shackleford, the Preakness winner, are among the other front runners.

- Also called the "Run for Carnations," because the winning horse is blanketed in white carnations, the Belmont is among the biggest gambling events in the United States annually.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

June 8th update

Terrelle Pryor, the highly touted Ohio State Quarterback, has declared he will not return to school for his senior season as fallout over an NCAA investigation (and to a lesser extent badly timed traffic violations) continues to ravage one of the top collegiate football programs in the country

- The scandal, in which several OSU players used their popularity to get cheap or free goods and services from area businesses, has already led to the resignation of popular and successful coach Jim Tressel, who lied about knowledge of these incidents. Additionally, Pryor and 4 other teammates were already suspended for the first 5 games of the 2011-12 season.

- Pryor is expected to try and enter the NFL through its supplemental draft, a rarely-used secondary player selection process where players with sketchy histories have historically made their way into the professional football ranks.

- Despite being the quarterback at a major college program, a lot of NFL scouts feel that he will be a Wide Receiver in the NFL due to his athleticism and size.

The Dallas Mavericks tied the NBA Finals 2-2 with an 86-83 victory in what has become one of the most tightly contested series in recent memory.

- Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points including 10 in the 4th quarter despite having a high fever. He's drawing comparisons to Michael Jordan, who scored 37 points and led the Bulls to a win in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals despite playing with a 103 degree fever.

- Dwayne Wade came through with another big game but missed a potential game tying free throw with under a minute left and fumbled the inbounds pass on the final play of the game which led to a wild, missed 3 pointer by Mike Miller.

- Lebron James only scored 8 points, the first time he has failed to score in double digits in his playoff career.

- The last 26 times the NBA Finals has been tied at 2-2, the winner of game 5 has won the series 19 times.

The Boston Bruins finally broke through the Vancouver Canucks defense and continued to pound the back of the net, winning game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, 8-1, but in the process, they lost one of their best players for the rest of the series.

- A vicious, blindside hit on Bruins right wing Nathan Horton, the Bruins 4th leading scorer in the regular season, left him with a concussion and out of the rest of the Finals. Vancouver's Aaron Rome, who laid the hit, was suspended for 4 games which would cover the extent of the Finals as well. It's the first time a player has been suspended for more than 1 Stanley Cup Finals game.

- The Bruins finally broke through the Vancouver defense and continued to pound the back of the net, winning game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, 8-1. Vancouver still holds a series lead of 2-1, but this win was desperately needed by the Bruins as 3-0 series deficits are rarely overcome.

- In their past 5 Stanley Cup appearances, the Bruins have only won a total of 5 games, never winning more than 2 games in any one series.

Monday, June 6, 2011

June 6th update

The French Open concluded over the weekend with Rafael Nadal defeating Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1 and Li Na (pictured) beating Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 7-6.

- Na is the first Chinese athlete, male or female, to win one of the four tennis majors (The Australian Open, Wimbledon, The French Open and the U.S. Open).

- According to a CBS news story, she received over 300'000 messages on her website within 4 minutes of her victory.

- With his victory, Nadal became the 7th man to win 10 majors, including 4 of the past 5. Federer has the most all-time with 16.

- Novak Djokovic lost in the semifinals to Federer ending his 43 match win streak. He had not lost since November of last year, also to Federer.

The Miami Heat barely survived another late rally by the Dallas Mavericks to win game 3 of the NBA Finals, 88-86. They now have a 2-1 lead in the best of seven series.

- Chris Bosh made the game-winning shot with 39.6 seconds left and Dirk Nowitzki had 2 chances to tie it, but threw a bad pass out of bounds the first time and missed a jump shot the second time as time expired.

- Dirk Nowitzki finished with 34 points and Dwayne Wade had 29, but Lebron James had an off night, only scoring 17 points.

- Under the current scheduling format, the team that wins game 3 when the NBA Finals are tied 1-1 has gone on to win the championship 11 out of 11 times.

Albert Pujols hit a game winning home run for the second straight game as the Cardinals beat the Cubs 3-2 on Sunday. Pujols now has 4 home runs in his last 3 games and looks to be getting back into form after a shaky first 2 months of the season.

- After his game on May 29th, the exact 1/3 point of the season, Pujols had only 8 home runs, 28 RBI's and a .257 batting average. All would be career lows by a significant amount.

- Rebounding is even more important than usual as Pujols is in his contract year, meaning that his contract expires after this season and he can become a free agent if he does not sign an extension before then. He has reportedly been asking for a new 10 year-$300 million dollar contract, but the Cardinals have balked and some have theorized that his poor start is due to distractions caused by the contract issues.

Friday, June 3, 2011

June 3rd update

Ricky Rubio (pictured), the highly touted pass-first point guard from Spain has announced that he will be joining the NBA next season. Despite being drafted in 2009 by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rubio has been playing in Spain until now.

- Current Wolves superstar Kevin Love seems skeptical though, as he posted via Twitter: @kevinlove - Ricky Rubio huh? I'll believe it when I see it...

- His skepticism could be geared towards the fact that Rubio seemed not to want to play in Minnesota, and it's possible that he could change his mind or be traded to another team before the 2011 season begins.

In the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat seemed to be on their way to a comfortable 2-0 lead against the Dallas Mavericks when disaster struck and they fell victim to the resilient Dallas Mavericks 95-93.

- The Heat were winning 88-73 with a little over 7 minutes left but managed to lose after Dirk Nowitzki made a layup with 3 seconds remaining.

- The Mavericks had a similar comeback in the Western Conference Finals against Oklahoma City, when they trailed 99-84 late in the 4th quarter yet came back to win.