Fan bases

Remember, people hate the Boston-area sports fan base largely because of how many championships the region has seen in the 21st century. It really has very little to do with the sports base itself. If Houston saw championship after championship like this, people would hate Houston sports just the same because the fan base would react and behave largely the same.

But when it comes to hating New York City and Philadelphia fan bases? It really has nothing to do with winning. Sure, NYC itself has seen plenty of championships, but many of the individual teams haven’t. Just think about the last championship for teams not named the Yankees or the Giants. The Jets? 1968. The Mets? 1986. The Rangers? 1994. The Knicks? 1973. The Islanders? 1983. The Nets? 1976. So why the hate for NYC teams? It’s not jealous or envy or people just getting plan tired of hearing about them. It’s the fan base. The same goes for Philadelphia. The sports-fan culture in these cities is toxic garbage. From harassing fans of other teams to throwing batteries to booing Santa, NYC and Philly fan bases are what give those anti-sports mooks out there ammunition to talk shit about “sportsball” every February, June, and October.

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Terrorists motivated by religion

This isn’t a shocker:

The hospitalized Boston Marathon bombing suspect charged Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction has told investigators that he and his brother were motivated by religion but were not in contact with overseas terrorists or groups, officials said.

Several officials familiar with the initial interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev described his behavior during questioning as cooperative.

A senior government official said Tsarnaev has told investigators β€” by writing some answers down, and by nodding yes or shaking his head no to others β€” that he and his brother were not in touch with any overseas terrorists or groups.

Tsarnaev, who has injuries to his tongue preventing him from speaking properly, also indicated that he and his brother conceived the bombing attack on their own, and were motivated by religious fervor.

And what is the key underlying factor in religion? Everyone say it with me: faith. It doesn’t take some overseas organization to motivate a person to effectively random violence on a massive scale. With faith, anything is possible. I mean. It’s fucking random. It isn’t a way of thinking or knowing at all.

Don’t expect to hear too much about religion’s role in this (much less faith’s). The left-wing media is going to bury this key factor and the right-wing media will speak of the motivations here only in terms of “radical Islam”. (Why “radical Christianity” doesn’t appear to be a thing, I don’t know. That religion has more than its fair share of brutes, past and present.)

To digress, I’ve been perplexed by another issue surrounding the surviving terrorist fuck. Apparently people would like to deem him an enemy combatant and strip him of the rights afforded to citizens under the Constitution. It is absolutely beyond me that the nature and magnitude of a crime should make a difference. Once we start walking down that road, we start calling accused murderers “enemy combatants” – guilty or not. And why stop there? Stealing gum from that store undermines the U.S. economy, you economic terrorist. Enemy combatant! Like we need to tip the balance of power any further into the hands of the government.

Boston

The events in Boston are still fluid, so most any comment would be premature. However, I do find this quote from Mr. Rogers to be appropriate:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’

Screw you, NBA

I was angry with the NHL for helping Refuffalo against the Bruins. Fortunately, the Bruins still won their series because, well, Ryan Miller can’t do it all, even with the men in stripes helping his team. Then I was even more angry when Refadelphia was given the right to not take penalty minutes despite deserving them. But at least they lost to a better term in the end. And at home. Fuck you, Philly fans. You are the worst fans in sports. (You’re still number 2, New York.)

But none of that represented a fundamental problem with the NHL. This was an issue of terrible reffing in two series I watched closely. And, sure, the reffing was pretty bad throughout the playoffs besides where the Bruins were involved. It wasn’t as bad as the two Bruins series, but it was bad. But again, that isn’t typical. There isn’t a fundamental issue with the rules or reffing in general in the NHL. It’s still the most exciting sport there is.

And until now I thought soccer was on the exact other end of the spectrum. Take this video for instance.

I don’t care enough to look up the names of those involved, but basically the Nigerian player (green) went to kick the ball as the Greek (white) player picked it up after it went out of bounds. It was obviously just a reflex: “Hey, a soccer ball! Kick it!” It doesn’t appear he made much contact, if any, but that doesn’t matter. Soccer is filled with a bunch of divers, so the Greek player hammed it up, falling to the ground like he tore 11 ACLs. (Yes, 11.) This got the Nigerian player a Red Card, kicking him out of the game. And all because soccer is such a mamma’s boy sport.

If someone tries to get a call in hockey and overdoes it like that, he may well get the call, but he’ll also be given 2 minutes for diving. The NHL doesn’t accept this weak, hamming-it-up play that soccer embraces.

But as it turns out, that isn’t the other end of the spectrum. The NBA is nothing but feather-touch penalties. Brush a guy with the ball? Foul. Make contact with the ball and maybe touch a loose jersey? Foul. Look at a guy wrong? Foul. That’s all it was last night during the final 45 minutes of Game 7. (And by 45 minutes, I mean 7:30 minutes of actual clock time.)

It seemed like the entire game rested on who could make the most free throws. And in order to do that the NBA has made virtually everything a foul. Not that the players don’t embellish or ham it up. They do. But the NBA and people like David Stern (the worst commissioner in sports – don’t worry, Goodell, you’re a close number 2), hold most of the blame. And it is blame. Game 7 of the 2010 NBA finals was perhaps the worst sporting event I have ever watched, worse than the 2006 World Series where the ‘Champion’ Cardinals didn’t win anything (the Tigers just lost, is all).

NBA basketball is the antithesis of what a good sport, such as hockey, should be.

In the interest of full disclosure, everyone who reads this blog knows I’m a Boston/New England sports fan. But my interest in basketball, especially the NBA’s nancy-variety, is extremely limited. I wanted the Celtics to win by default, but I’m far from torn up over their loss. What bugs me more is that I wasted so much time watching such a terrible, terrible sport.

Maine Freedom of Information Access Act

There is a law in Maine similar to the federal Freedom of Information Act. It allows the public to access information that is produced through government agencies (with notable exceptions). Many states have similar laws on the books, all varying in one manner or another. One of these states is Massachusetts. Recently, the Boston Globe used the act in order to obtain the disciplinary record of asshat trooper Michael Galluccio. This gave me an idea.

I am currently taking a journalism class because I was too slow at signing up for the classes I actually wanted (though I am enjoying this class). One of my assignments is to obtain information using Maine’s FOIA. Until I saw the Galluccio story, I was at a loss of what to do. However, with the knowledge that disciplinary records are public information in one state, I decided to pursue the record of a particular officer at the Augusta Police Department in hopes that Maine law is sufficiently similar.

Backstory: Sometime ago in high school I got a parking ticket. I was parked at the end of a series of spaces where there were yellow diagonal lines. Clearly, I was illegally parked. I do not dispute that. However, on the ticket the officer wrote “sidewalk”, indicating that the reasoning for the ticket was that I was parked on the nearby sidewalk. This was not the case. 1) Those yellow lines would not extend to a public sidewalk. 2) I went to City Hall and obtained a property blueprint for my school. It was clear that I was not on the sidewalk. I brought this to the attention of several officers, including the one who issued the ticket. Of course, they refused to admit they were wrong. It would be one thing to give me a ticket I technically deserved. Unfortunately, what they did is issue me a ticket for an offense I did not commit. It would be like arresting someone for assault who actually committed theft. The sentence (for the sake of argument) may be roughly the same, but that does not mean that the thief is guilty of something else simply because the result is similar. Just the same, I was never guilty of parking on a sidewalk. The ticket is bunk.

So fast forward to my journalism class and the Globe article and I’ve got my idea. I am going to get the disciplinary record of the officer who issued me the incorrect ticket. I make out a FOIA letter (which is a courtesy, not a required form) and head on down to the APD. I am told by Lt. J. Christopher Read that personnel files are not public information. Bummer, right? Possibly. I follow this up with a call to the Globe. They say he is almost certainly wrong. I then also ask my instructor. She says basically the same thing. I go the next necessary step and find the exact wording in the act.

Personnel records pertaining to municipal, county, and state employees are for the most part confidential. For example, complaints, charges or accusations of misconduct, replies to those complaints, charges or accusations and any other information or materials that may result in disciplinary action are confidential. However, if disciplinary action is taken, the final written decision relating to that action is no longer confidential after the decision is completed if it imposes or upholds discipline.

It is clear. If a state employee is disciplined and there is a final written decision, it is public information. I am entitled to it. Now armed with this information, I make some corrections. First, I obtain the name of the offending officer. I originally only knew him as Officer 135. I now know his name is Richard Dubois. I also change my timeframe. I originally asked for all records dating to January 2001. I figured that covered a couple of years prior to my ticket and it also wasn’t so much as to be a pain in the butt. Because I was given incorrect information, however, I have updated my timeframe to date to either 1990 or Richard Dubois’ date of hiring; if they’re going to make me do extra work, I’m going to return the favor.

I bring my updated information back to the APD and speak with Lt. Read again. I present my new letter and read, verbatim, the part of the act I have bolded above. He tells me personnel files are off limits. I again inform him that the exception is when disciplinary action is taken. He tells me that is simply my interpretation and he has been “at this for 20 years”. In other words, the explicit text that says “if disciplinary action is taken, the final written decision relating to that action is no longer confidential” can be interpreted to mean something other than, well, that final written decisions related to disciplinary action are not confidential. One wonders what Lt. Read thinks it means. I guess 20 years on the job gives a person super special reading skills and insights. Or it makes them stubborn. Draw your own conclusion.

After it has become clear that Lt. Read is not going to give me the information to which I have a law-given right, I inform him that he needs to give me a written response within 5 business days because the law clearly states that to be the case. He says – and I quote – “I’m not going to do that.” I then ask him if he is aware that there is a $500 fine associated with violating the act and he says “That’s fine.” I presume that is code for “I acknowledge the fact you have just told me, but I do not want to admit that I am ignorant of a tremendous amount of this law.” I then ask Lt. Read if he wants a copy of my letter. My intention here is quite kind, if I do flatter myself: the man is wrong and I know he is wrong. If he checks with other supervisors or simply reads the law, he may realize this. Without my letter, he will not be able to contact me and will thus be forced into violating the law. He says he does not want it. I inform him that I have an identical letter addressed to the City Manager, William Bridgeo.

Once I leave, I head over to City Hall. Mr. Bridgeo was in a meeting but I gave all this information to the clerk/secretary/whathaveyou in the office. She asks for the name of the officer who refused to give a written response, makes copies of my letters along with my excerpt of the act, and tells me that, yes, a written response is required. (She said 10 days, but seemed unsure and soon qualified that it may depend on the information requested. At any rate, a written response is required.)

Further information: I originally saw Lt. Read on Monday, March 9, 2009. I saw him next, new letter (and different dates) in hand on Wednesday, March 11, 2009. He has 5 (or 10) business days to give me a written response to my first request. The second request is being handled by a more responsible entity.

Lt. J. Christopher Read of the Augusta Police Department in Augusta, Maine

Lt. J. Christopher Read of the Augusta Police Department in Augusta, Maine

Mass state trooper is a mindless robot

A state trooper in Boston issued a citation to a man for using the breakdown/emergency lane to get his pregnant wifewhose contractions were 3 minutes apartto the hospital.

The couple said two state troopers allowed them to use the lane, but when they ran into a third, he refused to cut them any slack on their way to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge.

According to the couple, the trooper had the couple wait while he gave a citation to another driver and then gave John an envelope and told him he would be getting something in the mail.

They received a $100 ticket about two weeks later.

Jennifer also said the trooper made her feel as though she needed to prove that she was pregnant.

“He came over and said ‘What’s under your jacket?’And so I said ‘My belly.’ And he waited and was just kind of looking at me, so I took that to assume he wanted me to open up my jacket. And I did,” Jennifer said.

Their daughter Charlotte Jane was born hours later in the hospital

The couple plans to appeal the ticket.

A spokesman for the State Police said the trooper was using his discretion in following the breakdown lane law. If the Davis family decides to file a formal complain the incident will be reviewed.

There is a serious epidemic – and it’s encouraged in the media, schools, and workplace – to mindlessly follow the rules. We are told that the rules are there for a reason and we must obey them until they change.

It’s malarkey.

The rule is absolutely never important. It is the reason for the rule that matters. We should never simply do something (or not do something, as the case may be) because one person or one group of people arbitrarily place some sort of restriction on a situation. We should question the precise reasoning for these rules. This state trooper was not doing that at all. He saw what he thought was an illegal act and issued a citation. His basis was the rule, not the reasoning. He may get a promotion for being a good robot, but he isn’t advancing anywhere in the logic department.

I’m not sure what Mass law is precisely, but it would seem reasonable that the side lane is not simply for cars which have broken down, but also for emergencies, no? Assuming that is the case, the trooper actually failed at being a robot, too. The couple was in an emergency situation – in Boston traffic, no less. That would seem to justify their use of the lane from a simple legal standpoint, provided Mass calls it an “emergency lane” in some respect.

At any rate, this trooper should be ashamed of himself. The ticket should be revoked, an apology issued, and at least a one-day suspension handed down – not to mention a congratulations given to Jennifer and John Davis for the safe birth of their little girl, Charlotte Jane Davis, despite the efforts of this unnamed trooper.