Friday, October 15, 2010

So long, and thanks for all the fish

It's official -- the Party no longer requires my services. I have 30 days before I'm a free agent again.

What fun.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A whole other kind of stupid

So Charlie Davies was not, in fact, at the wheel while driving 125 mph.
Davies, who nearly died in a car crash last year, told The Associated Press Saturday that Jacques Faty, a teammate at French club Sochaux, asked him to switch places and tell police he was driving because Faty thought his license was still suspended from a previous speeding infraction. Faty said he thought police would only fine Davies, but Faty feared he would be jailed.
"That's not possible for me to go 120 mph on the road after an accident and think everything will be fine," Davies said. "If a kid survives such a serious accident and then almost exactly a year later is driving at a reckless speed, it's like, 'This can't be serious.' ... If someone has a second chance like I do, to take advantage of something like that, it's not something I could do. I learned too much from the whole experience to let something like that happen."
Putting aside the assertion that a 24-year-old is still a kid, which in itself is laughable, I suppose it could be considered progress that Davies says he won't put himself in that kind of situation.

However, his actions continue to belie those words.

Sochaux players were given four days off after beating Lens 3-0 last Saturday, and Davies said he decided to fly back to Boston, where he played in college.
Davies said he doesn't drive in France and, knowing that Faty was going back to Paris, he asked if he could get a ride.
Davies said he was lying down in the passenger seat of the Audi Q7 as they drove.
"Everything seemed fine. I knew he was driving a little fast but didn't know he was driving as fast as he was," Davies said. "Then I saw a blue flash from a police car."
Speed and time are relative, of course (thanks, Albert!), and I can see how one might lose track of one's speed while zooming down the highway in, say, a high-performance BMW or Ferrari. The Audi Q7, though, is a full-size, luxury crossover SUV -- not exactly the stuff of Autobahn and mid-life crisis dreams. Even if the difference in G forces was negligible and Davies was reclined so far back he couldn't see the trees whizzing past, I find it extremely difficult to believe he was completely unaware of his surroundings.

The notion that Davies couldn't do anything to stop Faty -- put forward in the latest American Soccer Show podcast -- is bunk. Are we to believe that Davies asking Faty to ease off the gas a bit would somehow have damaged their relationship, personally or professionally? It's safe to assume Faty is aware of what happened to Davies a year ago and -- unless he's a truly heartless bastard -- would acquiesce if asked. Also, the suggestion that Davies would've been stranded if Faty took the blame doesn't wash. We know Davies has a driver's license as part of his punishment was having it suspended for six months. Even if he prefers not to drive in France, I imagine he retained enough muscle memory from his time in the US to at least navigate back to Montbeliard.

The person who comes off looking the worst, of course, is Faty. Blasting through the forests of eastern France at 125 mph is questionable enough, as is driving with a license he thought was suspended, even if it ultimately wasn't. One can assume he had enough traffic incidents, either in number or severity, in the past to lose his privileges. Near the end of the story, it says the police "ran Faty's record and told him his license was no longer suspended." (Emphasis mine -- ed.) Asking Davies, of all people, to take the fall was just the icing on the cake.

Score another round for the Bad Idea Bears. Fortunately, no one got hurt and Faty has said he will take responsibility -- better late than never, right? I just hope incidents like these are the exception and not the rule with Davies. He's come too far with his recovery to jeopardize his life and career over a bit of highway hijinks, whether through his choices or someone else's. Davies is 24, which is plenty old enough to know looking after one's well-being takes precedence over "being a good bro."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

You big dummy

Cheer Grow up, Charlie.

Not so along ago, Charlie Davies was the Next Big Thing in US soccer. After a standout career at Boston College, he passed on MLS and chose to start his time as a professional in Scandinavia with Swedish side Hammarby. His gamble paid off as he received national team call-ups and a move to French club Sochaux, making his star turn as the US finished runner-up at the 2009 Confederations Cup. Players like Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore were already known quantities, but the speed, finishing and combination play Davies showed left US fans dreaming of an Altidore-Davies strike partnership that would terrorize defenses for years to come.

That all came crashing to a halt on October 13, 2009, in Washington, DC. Davies was a passenger in an SUV that suffered a one-vehicle accident at about 3:15 a.m., a crash that killed one passenger and left him with injuries that threatened both his life and his career.
Davies broke the fibula, tibia and femur of his right leg (stabilizing the limb required insertion of two titanium rods); tore a ligament in his left knee; fractured his left elbow, eye socket and nose; suffered serious head trauma; and lacerated his bladder. Nobody knew if he'd play again. Except Davies.
Two primary emotions arose out of the incident. There was sorrow, of course, for the family of the young woman who died and at seeing one of the country's brightest prospects come so close to having his career and life cut short. Lurking deeper, though, was concern about why Davies was on the road at 3 a.m. the night before the national team's final World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica. True, the US had already sown up a place in South Africa, but the chances of coach Bob Bradley telling his players to enjoy a night on the town is about equal to those of him calling me up to play in central midfield.

(If you're reading, coach, my passport is at the ready.)

The outpouring of support Davies received was stunning. Teammates, fans and the US soccer community united in support of the striker as he struggled through rehab, pushing himself to regain fitness in time to make the World Cup roster. His attempt was unsuccessful, with Davies initially lashing out at Sochaux before eventually coming to his senses, but his recovery from coming so close to death and return to high-level club soccer still made for an inspiring story. It felt like the kind of narrative in which you could invest yourself -- even if Davies never played for the US again, you could admire his comeback from a tragic, youthful indiscretion as he attempted to carve out a successful life and career.

Then he goes and does something like this:

PARIS -- A French newspaper is reporting that American forward Charlie Davies, who nearly died in a car crash last year, was caught speeding at 125 miles per hour last weekend.
The website of Le Progres newspaper reported Friday that Davies was driving an Audi Q7 last Sunday when he was caught on a motorway in France's Jura region.
My thoughts after the break.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Blue skies, smiling at me

Today's forecast: blecch.

I think the Beijing air is starting to get to me -- either that or my annual bout with bronchitis has arrived well ahead of schedule. For the past few week or so, I've had a scratchy throat and trouble breathing.

Chasing down a couple leads today, one of which could be called taking the Doc Holliday route.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Back on the wagon

Those who know me are aware I can be something of a Diet Coke fiend. It's not as though I'm a believer in brand loyalty, but it's the drink that suits my needs as coffee and tea really aren't my scene. It's not as syrupy as Pepsi, it doesn't have the calories of fully leaded Coke, and the aftertaste of Coke Zero just doesn't sit well with me. Reading that most of the health claims against aspartame have been shot down didn't dampen my enthusiasm, either.

Still, my relationship with Diet Coke has been on-again, off-again in recent years. My first attempt to quit soda came about three years ago in Hawaii. My habit got as bad as two 2-liter bottles a day from 7-11 or multiple 32-ounce bottles from KTA, but at some point I just got tired of spending an extra $6 to $7 a day to get what I thought was a necessary caffeine fix. As it turns out, it wasn't that necessary. Switching cold turkey to water, Crystal Light and fruit juice (no concentrate!) not only kept money in my pocket but helped avert any withdrawal symptoms. Maybe I wasn't as caffeine-dependent as I thought.

I got back in the habit a year later, though, after moving to Indonesia. It was probably down to a number of factors, including poor water quality, a lack of Crystal Light and the stress of moving overseas for the first time. For some reason, the withdrawal symptoms that were absent in Hawaii hit me hard the second time I tried to quit, even though I tried to ease into it rather than go cold turkey. I ended up going back to soda from that point until a month ago.

Third time lucky (?) after the break.

Love thy neighbor as thyself

Let me make this abundantly clear -- I am not a religious person. I don't put much stock in mythology, I don't feel the need to ascribe all things to some divine creator, and the belief that living by The Rules (but only The One True Set of Rules) earns one access to some posthumous Magical Kingdom out there in the ether strikes me as more than a bit odd.

I have nothing particular against religion, of course, and neither am I one of these New Atheists who feels the eradication of religion is necessary for humanity to reach its full potential. All things being equal, I'd really rather not have an -ist or -ism attached to my name. It's just hard to envisage a future where the religious and the secular can live in harmony when one is bombarded with stories about human beings visiting pain, cruelty and violence on each other, all supposedly in the name of a loving deity but artfully sidestepping that same deity's exhortations to treat each other -- every single one, no exceptions -- with kindness.

Thankfully, there is hope. In an earlier post, I mentioned Dan Savage's campaign to give bullied LGBT kids a reason to carry on in spite of the abuse and not turn to suicide. According to his posts, part of Savage's frustration that led to this movement comes from the continuing efforts of groups such as Focus on the Family to keep anti-bullying education out of the schools. Between that, Don't Ask Don't Tell, fundamentalist believers decrying -- if not outright attacking -- homosexuals, governments criminalizing and demonizing homosexuality, volumes of misinformation and misplaced rage, etc., the world can seem to have a "Straights Only" sign on it.

There are those willing to see beyond the hatred, though, and Savage's campaign is beginning to pick up supporters in the theological world. According to Baptist minister Cody Sanders, anti-gay bullying is a theological issue.

I cannot count the number of times I have heard well-meaning, good-hearted people respond to this appeal, saying, “Things are a lot better for gay people today than they were several years (or decades) ago. In time, our society (or churches) will come around on this issue.” To these friends and others, I must say, “It’s time.” For Lucas, Brown, Clementi, Walsh, and Chase the time is up. For these teens and the myriad other bisexual, transgender, lesbian and gay youth lost to suicide, the waiting game hasn’t worked so well.
As simply as I can state the matter: The longer we wait to respond, the more young people die.
If this were a hostage situation, we would have dispatched the SWAT team by now. And in many ways, it is. Our children and teenagers are being held hostage by a religious and political rhetoric that strives to maintain the status quo of anti-gay heterosexist normativity. The messages of Focus on the Family and other organizations actively strive to leave the most vulnerable among us exposed to continuous attack. The good news is that we don't need a SWAT team. We just need quality education on sexuality and gender identity in our schools and more faithful and courageous preaching and teaching in our churches.
Treating homosexuals as real people and not abominations? Careful, that just might catch on.

Also of note is this piece by Anthea Butler:

So the Eddie Long crisis is not just a crisis for himself, the accusers, Long’s family and the church; it’s a clarion call to African-American churches to cease and desist with the homophobia and finally start to deal with the fact that its not the folks in the pews who need to be disciplined, it’s the corrupt, bankrupt leadership of many, though not all, churches. The endless round of pastor’s anniversaries, offerings, and the fawning “my pastor is God and can do no wrong” theology of black churches needs to stop.
The absolute fealty to leadership and the “man” of god, enforced with scriptures like “don’t touch God’s anointed” have left so many victims in their wake that it’s a wonder people bother to even go to church anymore. When you factor in the money people have put into ministries that pimp them out and put them down, that’s an abusive relationship predicated on loving God and paying to be close to “God’s representative.” If the Catholic church can’t get a pass on its sexual and pedophilia scandals, why should mega-church pastors?
More good reads after the break.

Great shot, kid!

Far be it from me to say anything nice about the Daily Mail, but this shot might just be one in a million.

This is the moment Mail photographer Mark Pain found himself in the line of fire at the Ryder Cup - and for a brief moment brought the mighty Tiger Woods to a juddering halt.

Bonus points if you can spot the Cheech & Chong impersonator.