Sunday, July 22, 2007

ESPN Misses an Opportunity to Score

Huge fanfare around the arrival of Beckham to American soccer. Hopefully that equated to many more viewers for a Saturday night friendly match between Beckham's new team the LA Galaxy and English Premier League powerhouse Chelsea FC. We're talking a potential market of millions.

In every interview and clip - Beckham did his job. He was masterly portrayed as an athlete who was likable, humble, and genuine. Just the way Americans like their stars. (Cockiness works for a while, but there is no lament when cocky players get their comeuppance). Good job Beckham. We want you to do well here.

But LA Galaxy and ESPN shot wide and missed. The first sour note I heard was when they were interviewing the LA Galaxy manager - his comments were about how this would "strengthen the brand." Huh? That's not what a soccer fan wants to hear. We want to hear how bringing in world class players will elevate the level of play. We want to see a better quality game with world class teams. The reason my 16 year old son and I watch (and pay for) live feeds of European matches is because the level of play, the beauty of the game is so much better.

That's where ESPN blew it. Soccer is "the beautiful game." Joga bonito in Nike ad parlance. But the announcers were thoroughly lost. They were talking about other stuff WHILE THE GAME WAS BEING PLAYED! Then ESPN was cutting away to interview Hollywood stars WHILE THE GAME WAS BEING PLAYED!...As a soccer fan I was frustrated in my attempt to watch the game. That's why I tuned in. To WATCH THE GAME!

Can you imagine the network cutting away during a NFL football game while the ball is in play? Or putting up a split screen showing a commercial while a baseball player is fielding a hit? Completely unacceptable in those sports, but somehow okay in televised soccer. The problem is that American sportscasters don't understand (or love) the game.

Soccer fans are fans of the game. It has taken me some time to appreciate each touch of the ball as play. Attacks are developed through passes, speed, and position. Defense envelopes, blocks, and intercepts, then immediately shifts to the offense. The action on a soccer field is constant. If you are going to provide commentary - provide commentary about the game at hand. Explain to the novice/potential soccer fan what is going on on the field. Tell them when you see a beautiful move. (In a European soccer match, you get huge cheers at well executed footwork at midfield, not just crosses and shots - the only thing the US announcers seem to pay attention to). The game commentary should not be all about stats, records, potential. The game commentary should be about the game at hand.

I realize this presents a challenge for the American broadcast model. It not a new challenge. But if the want to create new markets, they need to understand why soccer fans watch soccer.

Otherwise it's back to GolTV.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Navy Cryptologic Technician Killed in Action

According to a report in the Pilotonline (h/t Lex)...

"Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Lewis, a SEAL based at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base, and fellow first class petty officers Robert McRill and Steven Daugherty were killed when an improvised bomb detonated near their Humvee, the Navy said Saturday.
Daugherty, 28, from Barstow, Calif., served as a cryptologist. His previous duties included Naval Security Group Activity in Norfolk, and he recently transferred to a tactical communications unit with the special warfare community.

Daugherty also lived in Virginia Beach and is survived by a son."

Godspeed shipmate.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


According the some Islamic world views there is no cause and effect. "...all we see are two events occurring one right after another, there is no reason to think that one event causes the other. There is no causal glue that holds the cause and affect together...."

"That is, nature tends to follow certain rules and laws, and this happens to be the way nature works. Things have a nature, and by their nature they tend to act in a certain way...God created the universe to act in a certain way, however, according to Ghazali, this natural course of events can be suspended by God."

This idea is reflected in the Insh'Allah (God willing) attitude that many in the West can find so frustrating when dealing people in the Arab world.
"We'll meet you there, Insh'Allah"
"My car will start, Insh'Allah"

This is why when you see Islamic fighters, terrorists included, give a shout out, "God is Great!" or Allahuakhbar! when conducting an attack. God is great because he has allowed the natural laws to remain in effect.
Pull the trigger, the weapon fires, Allahuakhbar!
Send the signal, the device explodes, Allahuakhbar!

So what to make of the failed jihadi car bombs in London last week? These were smart guys. They rigged the devices to explode and burn, Insh'Allah. According to some reports they used two cell phones in the vehicles as trigger devices. But the bombs didn't explode as they should have according to the natural laws of sparks, fire, and propane gas. Did God intervene to preempt the natural laws? To that I say Allahuakhbar!

The terrorists then moved on to Glasgow, where they would stay with a similar device until it detonated, Insh'allah, sending the jihadis to a deserved reward in Paradise.

But it didn't detonate. And the lead jihadi is not lounging in the cool shade of trees by the flowing waters of paradise. He is writhing in pain from the burns he suffered trying to kill little children. God has given him a taste now, on this earth, of the flames of Hell that await him for eternity. How long will he suffer here? That depends. Although pain management is problematic and burn victims suffer greatly, when modern technology works, victims can live, Insh'Allah.

A long time. Insh'Allah.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Snark Saturday

Checking my usual reads this more I noticed two snarks, one on Hotair and another over at Scalzi (to be honest, I read Scalzi only occasionally, but always enjoy it. Today I clicked in from Chapomatic)...

Since they're both out there, it's hard not to compare the two efforts. Scalzi is the clear winner. I appreciate his including the text of the commentary he's replying to and the full response. Bryan mislabels his snark as a fisking, (usually a line by line rebutal that can include snark), and then comments a few times that he really would rather not be doing this. Unfortunately his reluctance to fully engage the target shows. Scalzi shows no such reluctance, even getting his eight year old daughter involved. Brilliant and entertaining.

Oh yeah, phrase of the day... hideous arse candles Check it out.

Friday, July 06, 2007

More Adventures in Customer Service

I wrote earlier about my customer experience with Hyatt and how they fixed it. Another blogger is getting crappy Sony VAIO customer service. I used to own a VAIO... one of the first ones to come out. I think it was a PCV-130 bought back in 1998... Long dead now, but on it's journey to obsolescence I remember poor customer service then too. Now I own two Dell desktops, two laptops, and a broken IBM Thinkpad.

There must be a reason I don't own a Sony anymore.

Maybe this is it....
AP Media Bias - Ignoring an Al Qaeda Massacre

Michel Yon has reported and followed up on good evidence of an AQI massacre in Diyala province. Why hasn't the Associated Press followed up on this?

Mr. Yon made his reporting and photos available.

A letter has been sent to the board.

A blogswarm has been requested.

What does it take? Would they cover it if the killings were alleged done by American troops? You bet your ass they would. So what does it say about the media?

Exactly this

"..Our words, images, arguments and skills can’t stop the killing. Only the rough soldiers and their guns can solve the problem, and we won’t admit that fact because the admission would weaken our [media] influence and our [media's] claim to social status.

So we pretend Yon’s massacre – and the North Korean killing fields, the Arab treatment of women, the Arab hatred of Israel, etc. - doesn’t exist, and instead focus our emotions and attention on the somewhat-bad domestic things that we can ‘fix’ with our DC-based allies. Things such as Abu Ghraib, wiretapping, etc. When we ‘fix’ them, then we get status, applause, power, new jobs, ego, etc..."


Updated: Some other folks who have noticed - Classical Values
The Scratching Post: The AP Shows its Bias (Again)
TechnoChitlins (I like that name)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Criminals or Combatants?

Are terrorists criminals or combatants? It's hard to believe that almost six years after the attacks of 9/11 we are still asking that question. But we obviously are. Early on, this was recognized as a key question and we've muddled the attempts to answer it.

The answer has a huge impact on how we deal with terrorists. If they are criminals, then we investigate their conspiracies and crimes, rules of evidence apply, when arrested they have a right to trial, and when convicted can be released after serving their sentences. If they are combatants, we collect intelligence, rules of engagement apply, and when not killed, captured combatants can be interrogated and held until the end of the conflict.

Both approaches have distinct advantages and disadvantages, so up to now we've tried to hybridize our approach, often depending on where the terrorist choose to locate themselves. (Sometimes even where we have combatants route, we continue to muddle the distinction by using words like "suspected"... This hurts our efforts. We should use the military intelligence terms "probable" or "possible" when appropriate. Why not just say "enemy?") This approach allows the enemy to choose our rules of engagement/evidence and gives them an advantage.

The Brits have made a decision though "Let us be clear – terrorists are criminals, whose victims come from all walks of life, communities and religions. Terrorists attack the values shared by all law-abiding citizens. As a Government, as communities, as individuals, we need to ensure that the message of the terrorists is rejected.”

I think it's a bad choice, for many, many reasons, but at least it's clear. Now that you've made the choice - you better get to arresting some criminals. Before they blow up your cities.