Wednesday, July 27, 2016

All about the name

The new NHL franchise in Vegas is struggling to come up with a name for itself, which puts the significance of team names in the spotlight. After all, the history of North American sports is filled with ones that range from great and inspired to dull and unimaginative.

Some are so common they fall into the ho-hum category despite being superficially good, chief among them the ubiquitous "Tigers." That means I have to include the teams of my beloved Auburn University among the ranks of the ho-humly named. Heck, three of the SEC's fourteen schools call themselves Tigers.

Up in the NFL, however, you have to give the Cincinnati Bengals credit for naming themselves after tigers without calling themselves tigers. That gives them a distinctly cool name to go with their eternally cool uniforms. 

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How sweet it is when a team hits a home run with its name, regardless of whether it's in the professional, semi-professional, college, or even high school ranks.

Some of the best belong to semi-pro squads -- especially semi-pro hockey, which has given us the Macon Whoopee, Kentucky Thoroughblades, and Orlando Solar Bears. Give those three an A+ for creativity, especially the now-defunct naughty one, whose logo contained a visual entendre if you can spot it.

If you think those names sound too kitschy, kind of like an outdated roadside attraction, well, you might have a point. So I ask you to simply look north of the border, for how can you not like the Manitoba Moose, Fort McMurray Oil Barons, and Saint John Sea Dogs? (If only the WHL team from Medicine Hat, Alberta would call itself the Medicine Men!)

Not to be outdone, minor league baseball offers up alliterative gems like the Savannah Sand Gnats and Lansing Lugnuts.

Then there are the Asheville Tourists, who play in a mountain city that draws vacationers like moths to a flame. Not only do they have an appropriate name, they also have the best scoreboard of all time -- rather than saying "home" and "visitors," it says "Tourists" and "visitors."

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I prefer team names to have something fearsome about them but I don't think it's necessary. There is something weirdly endearing about a hockey team called the Penguins, football team called the Dolphins, and baseball team called the Cardinals.

Which leads me to some weirdly endearing names from the collegiate ranks, like the UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs and Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. If not for the former, I might never have known that a nine-inch-long, brightly-colored species of slug inhabits the damp forests of our West Coast; and as for the latter, it is certainly unique to see a sports program named after a character from The Canterbury Tales.

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I believe it is important for a team's name to reflect something integral about the city, region, or school it represents.

On that score, I am proud to say that the monikers of my hometown NHL and NFL franchises are ideal. The Tampa Bay Area has long been known as "the lightning capital of the world," so it's spot-on that our hockey club is the Tampa Bay Lightning; and piracy is a big part of our pre-twentieth-century history, so it's spot-on that our football team is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Our baseball team, the Rays, is also well-named since our local beaches are collectively known as the Suncoast.

But I'm not here to talk about my own teams, I'm here to talk about ones from across the fruited plain, so let me proceed by giving a shout out to the Baltimore Ravens.

Yes, the raven is a fine sports symbol to begin with because it is a big, spooky bird associated with death and war. But for Baltimore to call a team "Ravens" is to turn the volume up to 11, because Baltimore is where Edgar Allan Poe ("Quoth the Raven, 'Nevermore'") died of delirium tremens and is buried at Westminster Hall. And turning the volume up to 12, the team's mascot is named Poe.

Three of Dallas's professional teams -- the Cowboys, Rangers, and Mavericks -- have names befitting the culture and history of that braggart city on the edge of the American West.

The NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves draw on the fact that Minnesota has by far the largest wolf population in the United States outside of Alaska; while the NFL's Minnesota Vikings draw on the fact that much of that state's human population is descended from Scandinavian immigrants.

Meanwhile, the Portland Trailblazers bring to mind the fact that Oregon was settled by people who arrived in covered wagons after traversing an untamed continent on a wilderness path called the Oregon Trail.

Then there is the best team name in the history of sports: the New Orleans Jazz. That name completely captures the culture and history of the city, and the improvisational nature of jazz completely relates to the improvisational nature of basketball. The Jazz played NBA hoops in New Orleans for five seasons, from 1974 to 1979, then relocated to Utah, the most unjazzy of these United States. They should have left the name behind when they moved.

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At this point I could go on a tangent about affixing American Indian Native American names to sports teams, but that would be, well, a tangent, and would make this post way too long, so I will get back to where I started: The yet-unnamed NHL franchise in Las Vegas.

I always figured that trademarks and copyrights had some kind of a place in the sports world. But since there are the New York Giants in football and San Francisco Giants in baseball; the LA Kings in hockey and Sacramento Kings in basketball; the New York Jets in football and Winnipeg Jets in hockey; the Detroit Tigers in the pro ranks and approximately 42,729,689 Tigers in the college and high school ranks, I figured that the space occupied by trademarks and copyrights was fairly small where sports are concerned.

Turns out I was wrong.

Bill Foley, owner of the Vegas hockey club, is a proud West Point graduate and Army buff who never hid the fact that his preference was to name his team the Black Knights, just like West Point's NCAA teams -- or, failing that, to call them the Knights in a shorthand nod to his alma mater. It was reported far and wide that Foley's team was pretty much destined to end up with one of those two names, but he is now learning that legal issues are likely to prevent that from happening.

He shouldn't fret, however, because Vegas's location in the Mojave Desert gives him many distinct choices.

If it were up to me, I would name the team the Roadrunners, preferably the Nevada Roadrunners. For one thing, roadrunners are native to the area and are an unmistakable desert species. For another, the team's main geographic rival will be the Arizona Coyotes, and how cool it would be for that rivalry to be Coyotes vs. Roadrunners! Just imagine the marketing possibilities in a nation where so many of us were raised on Looney Tunes...

Unfortunately, the old/new bugaboo of trademarks and copyrights might make that impossible. Back in the 1970's, when the WHA made its run as an alternative to the NHL, Phoenix had a WHA team called the Roadrunners. That team only existed for three years, but its name has continued to be associated with hockey in Arizona, of all places, through a number of incarnations in semi-pro leagues: the PHL from 1977 to 1979; IHL from 1989 to 1997; ECHL from 2005 to 2009; and starting this year in Tuscon, as the Coyotes' own AHL affiliate.

Assuming the Coyotes have some kind of ownership of the Roadrunners name, I highly doubt that they will relinquish it to a new franchise that will be competing with them for the loyalty of hockey fans throughout the Southwest.

But like I already said, Foley shoudn't have to fret. He could go with Bighorns or Pronghorns, both of which are desert animals endemic to the area. (And since marketing types are enamored with words that can be shortened into single-syllable vernacular nicknames, it's worth noting that a team called the Bighorns would probably come to be called the Sheep.)

Sticking with endemic wildlife, a Vegas team could also go with Jackrabbits (speed is important in hockey!) or Gila Monsters (which would get shortened to Gilas before the first game). And there are many other possibilities, including the Scorpions, Sidewinders, Kingsnakes, Cougars, or Pumas.

Then again, you don't have to stick with wildlife. Dallas probably has a legal claim on the Cowboys nickname, but Wranglers would give a nod not only to Vegas's Western spirit but to this famous icon in front of the Pioneer Club downtown.

Keeping with an Old West theme, Foley could also go with Rustlers, Outlaws, Bandits, Renegades, Lawmen, Sheriffs, or Shootists.

But going back to extinct teams from extinct leagues, could it be that the USFL's Oklahoma Outlaws and Tampa Bay Bandits have those two nicknames locked up three decades after the league's demise? Who knows?

But no matter what, there are plenty of good names out there waiting to be used. I hope Foley abandons his hopes of recycling West Point's name, and instead uses one that is new and invigorating in the world of professional sports.

Friday, July 15, 2016

et ceteras

Islamic jihad against Western Civilization continues, and the bulk of the American media keeps right on refusing to say so.

Yesterday, for the third time in eleven months, France was the target of the murderers who follow the "prophet" Muhammad. Right now the AP story about yesterday's terrorist, a chap named Mohamed Bouhlel, describes him as "a Tunisian man."

The headline about Bouhlel on Yahoo News uses the phrase "truck attacker" to describe him, while the ones on NBC News and MSNBC say "truck driver." The one on ABC News says "driver," the one on CBS News says "man," the one on MSN says "Tunisian-born man," and CNN has no headline about him.

As far as print media headlines are concerned, the Washington Post is going with "Tunisian-born man" and Los Angeles Times with "truck driver born in Tunisia." The Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune have no headlines about Bouhlel at the moment, and neither does that old gray lady known for publishing "all the news that's fit to print," the New York Times, although it does have a sub-headline blurb which refers to Bouhlel as "a delivery-truck driver born in Tunisia."

These are the same media who refer to Timothy McVeigh as a Christian even though he referred to himself as an atheist.

And people wonder why jihadists have momentum and the supposedly Judeo-Christian West does not? Seriously?

Yet we are okay, in one way
Way back in the sands of time -- one week ago -- America was at a fever pitch over Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile being killed by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, and five police officers being killed by Micah Xavier Johnson in Texas.

Or maybe the country was not at a fever pitch. Much like I opined after the George Zimmerman verdict, the media portrayal of my fellow citizens' thoughts and temperaments didn't quite square with what I experienced in my own interactions with my fellow citizens. Most Americans, of every complexion, are considering the facts and behaving honorably and logically regardless of whether they reach the same conclusions.

I do not know anybody who thinks the murdered cops got what they deserved, and I do not know anybody who thinks (or at least says they think) that Sterling or Castile deserved to die. Even now -- with the second video of the events before Sterling's shooting having been released, and seeming to show the shooting was justified -- I do not know anyone who thinks or says he "deserved to die" in a cosmic sort of way.

The media portrays everyday Americans as borderline unhinged, teetering on a razor's edge of emotion, but I believe that says more about the media than it does about everyday Americans.

But still
Somehow (I don't know how) everyday Americans need to control the narrative instead of letting the media control it, because the media portrayal is what the rest of the world (and some of our fellow citizens) believe.

Take Black Lives Matter. It is a three-word phrase that is self-evidently true and should not be controversial at all. Yet it is controversial nonetheless, because a handful of anti-white bigots have taken it as their banner and the media have turned up the volume on those bigots' microphones.

And about those anti-white bigots, they are every bit as vile as the Bull Connors of yesteryear. They don't carry the enabling badges of authority that Connor & Co. carried, but they are every bit as enabled by figurative badges -- the figurative badges of victimhood that have been given to them by the brainless bleeding hearts of the Left.

Yes, All Lives Matter, and I deplore the thoughts which drive some black people to refuse to say All Live Matter because they insist on only saying that Black Lives Matter. I also deplore the thoughts which drive some white people to automatically assume that hateful black people speak for, or are representative of, all black people.

We who hold the middle -- regardless of our melanin content -- have to gain control of the narrative and then retain control, and not equivocate when it comes time to criticize those whose melanin content matches our own.

Yet another reason to love hockey. (For those of you who don't know, John Scott is a below average player who made it to the All Star Game pretty much only because the fans like his personality -- and then he became its MVP.)

And another. (For those of you who don't know, Shane Doan is one of the best players of the last 20 years and has played those 20 years all with one fairly hapless franchise; but he doesn't want to play elsewhere, because an Arizona Coyote is what he is and he knows a Stanley Cup won as a carpetbagger on another team wouldn't be the same as a Stanley Cup won as an Arizona Coyote.)

It's now official that the truth and identity of D.B. Cooper will forever be unknown. There's something about mysterious unsolved crimes that I love. Not that I approve of crime, but still...

Speaking of which, whatever happened to Belle GunnessAnd was Bruno Hauptmann innocent?

And since it's pretty clear that Sam Sheppard wasn't guilty, who was? Was it this guy?

Classic Jonah Goldberg, perfectly capturing the dismal state of our current national political scene.

It's now official that the truth and ident

And for now, I'm done. Be back soon

Saturday, July 9, 2016

On Tyranny's Doorstep

Over the past couple weeks, I've been working on three blog posts for various amounts of time but haven't gotten any of them done, partly because a number of bad things have happened in my life and their spillover effect has crowded out my writing time.

I don't say that for sympathy, seeing as how I am wonderfully wed and obviously alive. Rather, I say it to emphasize that I am forcing myself to complete this post because I believe its topic -- the FBI decision not to recommend prosecution of Tsarina Hillary Rodham Clinton -- is too important to be mute about.

To be clear: I never thought She would be prosecuted, because I always believed the U.S. Department of (In)Justice would choose to protect Her. After all, protecting the powerful and making no rules for them while planting a minefield of draconian measures for everyone else establishing one set of rules for them while establishing another set for everyone else is what the DO(I)J does these days.

Still, I never expected to witness a spectacle quite like FBI Director James Comey's press conference last Tuesday, in which he insulted the intelligence of every knowledgeable and thinking person in America. The more I think about him ignoring/denying the obvious and trying to pass balderdash off as logic, the more convinced I am that he is somehow weirdly related to Monty Python's Black Knight.

For those who don't know, the FBI does not have any power to bring charges or engage in criminal prosecution. It is a purely investigative arm of federal law enforcement, and based on what it finds in an investigation, it can do one of three things: recommend prosecution, recommend not to prosecute, or simply say nothing. It is always up to the DO(I)J to decide whether or not to prosecute, and it is not uncommon for the the DO(I)J's decision to be out of step with the FBI's recommendation.

Comey's long-established reputation is that of a non-partisan stickler who follows the evidence wherever it leads and makes no attempt to shield wrongdoers from the consequences of their wrongdoing, regardless of their station in life or political affiliation. And the evidence we know his bureau unearthed against Tsarina Hillary is overwhelming, undeniable, and of such a nature that it cannot be mitigated by circumstances.

Due to that combination of sterling reputation and ironclad evidence, many people had been speculating that whenever the DO(I)J would announce its decision to not hold Tsarina Hillary accountable to the same laws as everyone else, Comey would uphold his principles by resigning in protest.

But no. Instead, he spent almost 15 minutes meticulously detailing how the evidence clearly shows She broke vital laws relating to the handling of classified information and national security data, and how She put the nation's security at enormous risk -- only to turn around and say, at the very end of his remarks, that he was recommending against criminal prosecution.

His lone attempt to justify his decision would be laughable if it wasn't so risible. He said it was because Tsarina Hillary "did not intend to harm the United States." Well slap my ass and call me Sally, but even my 11-year-old can figure out that intent is irrelevant when the law is concerning "gross negligence." If you don't want to give credence to the legal/linguistic analysis of me and my 11-year-old, maybe you'll reconsider after reading this  analysis by Andy McCarthy, who happens to be a prosecutor of such accomplishment that he put "the blind shiekh" behind bars for masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing

I was in sixth grade when my Social Studies teacher, Mr. John Thomas, explained that "ignorance of the law is no excuse" when it comes time to sanction you for breaking it.

In fatal car crashes, very few at-fault drivers intend even for the crash to occur, much less for anyone to die, yet they still get charged with vehicular homicide.

I was 9 or 10 years old when I realized -- based basically on possessing a functioning brain and having watched a couple spy movies -- that gross negligence in the handling of classified information and national security data is so execrable that it deserves severe punishment.

Yet now, the head honcho of the FBI has stamped his seal of approval on the tyrant's notion that all that stuff applies only to the little guy, not the big guy; and the most maddening thing about his mad hatter's attempt to rationalize his seal of approval is that it was, well, mad (as in nutty, not as in angry). Even if intent was relevant in Tsarina Hillary's case, why define it so narrowly? She did not intend to harm the country but She clearly intended to 1) use a private server that was less secure than Gmail, 2) elude Freedom of Information Act requests, and 3) conceal even Her non-classified government communications from the public eye -- all in violation of the law. Plus, Her actions bear every mark of pre facto obstruction of justice. 

You or I would be behind bars for doing what Tsarina Hillary did, yet She has just been given a legalistic peck on the cheek. And if She -- who, lest we forget, orchestrated the firing of White House travel office employees without cause, and provided legal defense to a man She believed to be guilty of raping a child, and actively sought to slander the reputations and destroy the lives of women who were sexually harrassed by Her husband -- ends up in the Oval Office, then She will be effectively in charge of the DO(I)J, IRS, BATF, FBI, CIA, and every other monstrous alphabet soup bureaucracy that is able to assault our livelihoods with powers of audit and regulation and subpoena and imprisonment. What do you think the odds are that She won't use that vast power to abuse people She perceives as "the Other"?

Again, I always knew believed She would not be charged, for the simple reason that I know believe that the DO(I)J is corrupt. But I thought hoped, for good reason, that James Comey would live up to his reputation and protect the FBI's. I thought hoped, for good reason, that he would not allow his or his bureau's imprimatur to appear on any decision to not hold Tsarina Hillary accountable for Her unlawful gross negligence.

That Comey wound up debasing himself leads to many conclusions speculations. Most of them fall under the headings "he sold out" or "he bowed to pressure," and I suspect there is some truth to most of those conclusions speculations.

But the main thought that reverberates in my brain (and I am shocked that I haven't heard anyone else express it) is that the most likely reason Comey betrayed his principles is that the evidence regarding Tsarina Hillary also implicates many other key players in both the executive and legislative branches of our national government -- and neither they nor Comey want that to come out.

Think about it. This all stems from Her never using a government email address to conduct government business. Knowledge of Her using private servers (there were more than one) is all downstream from Her using a personal email account.

Every person who ever corresponded with Her electronically when She was Secretary of State had to notice that her email address ended not in "" but in "," yet She kept right on doing it all the way through Her tenure without anybody making an issue of it, which means that means that many powerful people -- from both parties, and mutiple parts of the federal government, probably including the president himself -- were complicit in Her unlawful gross negligence.

Think of our government, especially the executive branch, as a building. Recommending prosecution of Tsarina Hillary for this particular crime, even if the recommendation was not followed by the DO(I)J, would have triggered cracks that spread across the foundation and up the walls. It would have weakened the building and eroded already weak public trust.

Because recommending prosecution should might have forced the Democratic Party to deny its presidential nomination to a candidate who had already won that nomination according to the party's rules, it would have opened the FBI up to accusations of interfering with "the people's decision" about who should be in charge of the executive branch... In turn, those accusations would have opened the FBI up to accusations of acting totalitarian and pushing America toward a police state... And although those accusations would have been false and unfair, they nonetheless would have been made loudly and repeatedly and with enough logic that they would have stuck, thereby weakening the "building" even more.

James Comey was in a horrible position. No matter which path he chose, it was sure to lead to some sort of upheaval, and I don't think he liked any of his options.

I do believe he honestly thought that he made the choice which would cause the least amount of damage to whatever passes for our domestic stability these days... but I believe he was monumentally and perhaps catastrophically wrong.

We were already on a slippery slope to tyranny before last Tuesday, and Comey's choice did nothing but make the slope even less viscous.

By laying out a perfect case for prosecution and then saying he didn't recommend prosecution, he showed that our so-called leaders don't even need to pretend like the law applies to them, nor do they even need to pretend to take our national security seriously -- never mind that safeguarding national security is 90 percent of the reason we even have a federal government.

And by then trying to justify nonsense by peddling naked lies (such as "no reasonable prosecutor" would take the case, there has been "only one" such prosecution in 99 years, etc.) Comey lowered the FBI to the level of the KGB.

Thanks to Comey, there is no reason for any American citizen to be loyal to the government of the United States, since he has set a precedent by which that government can be (and is) openly and unaccountably disloyal to we who supposedly employ it.

The primary fault for all of this lies with Clinton & Co., not Comey -- but Comey chose not to take a stand when he had the chance, and history will judge him horribly for being derelict in his duty.

We expect Clinton to lie and abuse Her authority, for a tsarina is what She is... We expect Her sycophants to be sycophantic, for sycophants are what they are... But we did not expect Comey & Co., and by extension the FBI, to set things up in such a way that Clinton & Co. are deemed less guilty of law-breaking than a single mom who drives five miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

Comey has bred contempt for the law, and for as long as he remains on the people's payroll, the law will deserve every red hot ounce of contempt it receives.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Mankind's Greatest Hour

Today, as we fire up our grills and crack open our beers, let us remember why we even have a July 4th holiday: to commemorate the greatest act of shared, selfless courage the world has ever seen.

Everybody should know that Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence. Most people know the names of a handful of the 56 men who signed it, such as John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, and of course Jefferson himself. But few people seem to realize that when those men signed their names, they were committing what was considered an act of treason against the British crown, punishable by death. Those men were property owners who were successful in their lives and businesses. Their lives were comfortable and they stood to lose everything by signing the Declaration -- yet they chose to sign it anyway, because they knew that casting off the crown and forming a new government based on individual liberty was the right thing to do, not only for their own descendants but for all of humanity. And here is what happened to some of those men after they signed the Declaration:

Five of them became prisoners of war.

Nearly one-sixth of them died before the war ended.

British forces burned, and/or looted, the homes and properties of nearly one-third of them.

When the British did that to the property of William Floyd, he and his family fled and spent the next seven years living as refugees without income. His wife died two years before the war ended.

After being forced into the wilderness by British forces, John Hart struggled to make his way home. When he finally got there, he found that his wife was dead and his 13 children were missing. He died without ever seeing them again.

Richard Stockton was dragged from his bed and sent to prison while his property was ravaged. From the day of his release from prison until the day he died, he had to rely on charity from others to feed his family.

Francis Lewis’s wife was imprisoned and beaten. Meanwhile, his wealth was plundered. His last years were spent as a widower living in poverty.

Thomas Nelson Jr.’s home was captured and occupied by British General Cornwallis, who used it as what we would now call an operations center. Therefore, Nelson ordered his troops to destroy his own home with cannon fire during the Battle of Yorktown. To assist in funding the war, he used his own credit to borrow 2 million dollars, which today would equal more than 25 billion dollars. Repaying that debt bankrupted him, and when he died he was buried in an unmarked grave.

It is a safe bet that fewer than one percent of our citizens have ever heard of these people, much less know anything about the devastating sacrifices they made so that future generations could have the freedom necessary to build the kind of upwardly-mobile, always-progressing society we would come to take for granted.

The Founding Fathers bequeathed to us a wonderful gift called America, and we owe it to our children to make sure we don’t allow that gift to be destroyed. We should never hear the words “Fourth of July” without feeling a skip in our heart and a tear in our eye.

Much thanks to Jeff Jacoby, the late Paul Harvey, and all the others who have written and spoken about the fates of the signers, to keep their story alive.