Monday, June 28, 2010

In Defense of a Referee

Oh, England sucked yesterday, and the general quality of the refereeing might have sucked more (Mexico-Argentina AR, I'm looking at you particularly hard). Frank Lampard tied the game for England with a blast that bounced off the bottom of the crossbar and landed a full yard inside the goal before bouncing out, except that neither the center referee nor the assistant referee saw it. No goal, no tie, and, ultimately, no quarterfinals for England. Efan Ekoko noted that of the 40,000+ people in the Bloemfontein stadium, those two men were the only two who didn't see a good goal, and the replays from the camera positioned high in the stadium at the goal line, and the one in the back corner of the goal, make it blindingly obvious that the referees biffed it.

And we instantly howled for cameras on the goal line, or chips in the ball, or SOMETHING to keep blind referees from fucking up yet another match.

One thing, though, keeps me from being able in good conscience to string the Uruguayan crew up next to Koman Coulibaly: Because both of the referees yesterday were properly positioned, neither one of them had a good enough view of the goal line to be absolutely sure the ball crossed completely into the goal. Cue the BoltGraphics Generator, please:

The red dots are England attackers, the black dots are German defenders, the green dot is the German keeper, the blue dots are the referees, and the x is the spot where the ball smacked into the turf. The center referee was roughly 30 yards from the goal line, the assistant--who was properly lined up level with the next-last defender--was at least 40 yards from the goal line, and both were partially screened by at least one player (in the case of the AR, the keeper). So with a vantage point quite distant from the goal and maybe six feet off the ground, tops, neither man had much of an angle to determine if he saw green between the ball and the line during the split second bounce before the ball came out.

Of course it's an obvious call when you're positioned either on the goal line or thirty feet above it, and it's especially obvious in slow motion. But standing on the ground, thirty yards distant, in real time, without x-ray goggles? Not so much. ARs are required to follow every ball to the endline, precisely to ensure they'll be able to determine whether it has completely crossed the line and avoid controversial situations like this one, but it's physically impossible to get to the endline at the same time as a 40, 50, 60 mph shot taken from 18 yards away. So yeah, it was a goal, and yeah, I was pulling hard for England, but no, I can't fault the referees on this one because they're not fifty feet tall or wearing jetpacks and thus couldn't know without a doubt that the ball was over.

If FIFA really insist on staying in the dark ages and not employing video or microchip technology, they could at least put a line judge on each end of the field, opposite the AR, whose job would be limited to goal/no goal, corner/goal kick. The dirty hippie in me doesn't need situations to be set up for everyone to win, but really hates to see people unnecessarily set up to fail unless they're playing euchre against me, and FIFA's refusal to add extra eyes, either human or electronic, to a 110 x 75 yard field with 22 players moving at top speed does exactly that.

The Tevez "goal" in the second game, of course, from a good two yards offside, is a whole 'nother thing, and that thing is a giant bucket of suck. See, I'm not totally a reffy homer.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Stop the Presses

The bloggy bizness exposes me to a good deal of wankery, but I have inadvertently stumbled upon the biggest bunch of ginormous wankers in the history of forever. Otherwise known as Wikipedia editors. Oh my god, just go over there and read.

Side note: if Brave does ever get made (is it in production? pre-production? pre-pre-production? be prepared to back up your answer with several paragraphs of self-referential faux legalese and vaguely-remembered Logic 101 bullshit, or they won't let you be an editor any more), I'm going to have to see it several times. Girls with arrows! Emma Thompson!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Scooby Snack for the Abby Wambach Girlfriend Contingent

Hello, intrepid Googlers. Trusty source K sent along this little tidbit for World Cup season: interactive Abby Wambach.


World Cup Action: a Snapshot

Trident was packed, again, for the US match yesterday morning, with a raucous and nervous and finally triumphant crowd. Pity the poor Bud Light girl who was trying her damnedest to get people to own up to drinking Bud Light so she could hand them beads and official Budweiser vuvuzelas.

People weren't having it.

Bud Light girl: Who's drinking Bud Light?!?
Assembled patrons: *crickets*
Bud Light girl: Who wants beads?
Patron: Do I have to drink Bud Light to get them?
Bud Light girl: Yeah.
Patron: Oh. Never mind, then.
Bud Light girl: ...

Bud Light girl, trying again: Who wants a vuvuzela?
Assembled patrons: *crickets*
Bud Light girl: Do you guys want one for your man cave?
Guys at table: Sorry, what?
Bud Light girl: Do you have a man cave?
Guys at table: Uh, no.
Bud Light girl: ...

The US got shut out and shot down almost as badly for the entire match, until Landon Donovan finally put away a rebound in the 91st minute, and the crowd erupted and dissolved simultaneously in roars and tears. What a fucking heart attack of a match.

Note to Clint Dempsey: yes, you got royally robbed when your 21st-minute goal was disallowed on a phantom offside call. That does not, however, mean that you should spend the rest of the match carefully nurturing your hangdog pouty face and staying down on the ground a little bit longer each time you get bumped (yes, I saw that on the next-to-last one you took a forearm that split your lip; cool, but you're really going to be okay). Get the fuck up and play already.

On to Saturday!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Why Didn't They Think of This a Month Ago?

Because, much like John McCain having a foolproof plan to catch Osama bin Laden but refusing to reveal it unless he was elected president, God has a plan to zap the Deepwater Horizon's blowout shut. He just hasn't been asked nicely enough yet.

'Nuff Said

Friday, June 18, 2010


I Am Not A Lawyer, but I am a referee, and Koman Coulibaly was crap today in the center of the US-Slovenia match. Sure, the US sucked in the first half, and the defense in particular wasn't alert enough to notice the Slovenian ballboy who apparently snuck into the 6-yard box and nailed Tim Howard's feet to the floor before the first goal, but goddammit, what a second-half comeback by the Yanks, and what utterly fascinating calls by Mr. Coulibaly.

The disallowed goal, in particular, featured at least three Slovenians hugging US attackers who were trying to run onto Donovan's serve, and after Maurice Edu destroyed the ball into the roof of the net, no explanation was forthcoming from the ref other than *shrug* no goal.

Fucking fuck. England need to beat Algeria this afternoon, and then beat Slovenia on Wednesday, and the US need to fucking start the Algeria game Wednesday like the devil hisself is holding a lighter to their Nike Dri-Fits.

Note to the guy in the striped polo at Trident this morning who is a clone of That One Guy who unfailingly shows up to every bar I've ever watched a game in: charging the television while screaming probably won't actually affect the outcome of the match, but please do take one more step forward and see if you can cram your head all the way through the screen, because I suspect having large shards of plasma screen stuffed into your mouth might shut you up, if only for ten or so blessed seconds.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where Have We Seen This Before?

Hmmm. Execs from the top five oil companies were called on the congressional carpet yesterday to explain why they've all been using the same cribbed disaster response plan that was apparently originally written for a well located in an Inuit neighborhood a long time ago. Would saying the entire thing was made of weapons-grade awkward be a gross understatement? Yes. Yes, it would.

The second squirming executive at 0:57 is very familiar, but I just can't put my finger on where I've seen him and that look on his face before. Oh. Wait.

Yep, that's it.

Michael told me to write a disaster response plan, but I spilled my gallon can of Cheez Whiz on it. Costco, nine bucks. So I copied this other plan I found on the internet, and if anyone asks about it, two words: Caribbean. Walruses. It could happen. That's five words. Sometimes you have to think outside the box. [/kevin]

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

General Announcement to the World

Except for the opening match and the US matches, I am at work during the World Cup, during which time I have my DVR set at home and am carefully avoiding any website that might contain the slightest whiff of scores so that I can watch the games when I get home and experience them fresh out of the package.

Please, world, do not text and e-mail me asking what I think about the latest upset, because what I am thinking is FUCKING HELL, PEOPLE, DO NOT TEXT ME SCORES!

*deep breath*

That is all.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


President Obama, on Gulf Coast peeps adversely affected by the volcano of oil:

He said, "I will be their fierce advocate to make sure they are getting the compensation they need to get through what is going to be a difficult season.''

Well, they're fucked. Good luck, Gulfies! Hope that works out better for you than it did for The Ghey.

Fucking Hell

More cutting-edge oil cleanup tech from BP.

That'll help. Jesus fucking christ.

Jan-Jan and R-Pea Explain It All For You

A facet of the immigration debate that tends to be overlooked is the impact on families when half the people in a household are citizens or legal residents and half are not, and the undocumented half get deported--specifically, when the undocumented people are parents, grandparents, or other caregivers and the citizens are minor children who were born here. It's such a problem in Tucson that the Sunnyside Unified School District has joined a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SB1070, Arizona's "papers please" law that compels municipal law enforcement to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop who they think is Mexican may be in the country illegally.

State Senator Russell Pearce (R-Fuck Mountain) and Governor Jan Brewer (brrrrrrr) floated competing solutions in which they both attempt to be Solomon, but without getting that Solomon wasn't really serious with that whole chop-the-baby-in-half thing. Brewer--who, by the by, has perfected the facial shrug like nuthin' you've ever seen over the past couple of months--says that deported parents should just take their kids with them back to Mexico (cannot embed; go watch) Problem solved!

It is illegal to trespass into our country. It has always been illegal. And people have determined that they want to take that chance, and that responsibility, it's not gonna tear them apart. They can take their children back with them.

We are a nation of laws. That's why we are America.

Of course, this is the same Jan Brewer who explained her refusal to sign a bill banning texting while driving this way:

"You can write all the laws that you want," Brewer said. "But it sometimes doesn't make a whole lot of difference. People don't follow them."


Pearce, on the other hand, thinks the best way to alleviate the problems faced by mixed-status families is to eliminate them altogether. What's that you say? 14th Amendment to the what? I do declare, sir; you may force me to brandish my cane in anger! Jesus.

Pearce needs a civics refresher--preferably in any state other than the 50th-ranked for education, of course, so OMG ROAD TRIP TIME--if he really doesn't understand the Constitutional issue in play here.

First of all, that's not the law. It's an unconstitutional declaration of citizenship for those born, uh, in the Wong Kim, uh, decision before the Supreme Court, it made it very clear in the statements from the senators at the time that the 14th Amendment was written, made it clear it did not pertain to aliens and those we did not, who did not have legal domicile in the United States. It's the most irrational and uh, uh, self-defeating provision you can have.

True, the 14th Amendment was written specifically to ensure that the children of freed slaves would be automatically accorded citizenship, without thought to waves of people coming to the US from points south 100 years later, but, just as the 1st Amendment has been interpreted to apply to forms of speech media and the 2nd to high-power firearms that were inconceivable when the amendments were originally penned, the 14th is interpreted to apply to all people born within our borders. In fact, that interpretation comes from the very Wong Kim decision Pearce erroneously cites as proof that anchor babies are really alien babies who should be sent home on the next saucer outta Roswell.

The 14th Amendment's citizenship clause, according to the court's majority, had to be interpreted in light of English common law tradition that had excluded from citizenship at birth only two classes of people: (1) children born to foreign diplomats and (2) children born to enemy forces engaged in hostile occupation of the country's territory. The majority held that the "subject to the jurisdiction" phrase in the 14th Amendment specifically encompassed these conditions (plus a third condition, namely, that Indian tribes were not considered subject to U.S. jurisdiction) - and that since none of these conditions applied to Wong's situation, Wong was a U.S. citizen, regardless of the fact that his parents were not U.S. citizens (and were, in fact, ineligible ever to become U.S. citizens because of the Chinese Exclusion Act).

Pearce appears to be construing "subject to the jurisdiction" as "have a green card in their pocket," which isn't mind-bogglingly narrow and stupid (although it is) so much as it is so incredibly transparently hypocritical as to barely merit a response. Because, in Pearce's book, undocumented people are double-dog subject to every other jurisdiction in the US, especially the ones that are now empowered to dump them on the other side of the fence from the Nogales Burger King if they don't have their birth certificates on them when they're pulled over for a busted taillight.

So there you have it. Pack up your kids and walk away from the better life you came here to give them, or... well, or forget about the better life thing altogether, because the Constitution only applies to people we think it applies to. And there's no point in writing laws, because people ignore them, unless, of course, it's a law that white people don't need to worry about, in which case WE ARE ALL ABOUT THE LAW, PEOPLE. Oh, Arizona. You never fail to disappoint.

Monday, June 14, 2010

An Addendum.

One indelible memory of my buddy Dave, and then we move on.

Waaaay back in the day, a bunch of archaeologists would hit the bar by the office on Friday afternoons for a beer or three over an hour of bullshitting. My son was tiny then, and liked coming along because the bar had a nice walled patio with a koi pond and room to roam, and on one particular Friday--he was three years old--he hopped up into Dave's lap for a while while we drank and yapped.

The next morning, he climbed into his seat at the breakfast table.

Boltgirl: Oatmeal? Cheerios? What sounds good?

Boy: All I need for breakfast is a cup of coffee and a cigarette.

Boltgirl: O_o

Boy: Well, that's what Dave says.

Boltgirl: Um, whatever Dave says, you just do the opposite of that, okay?

The man was the embodiment of if you can't be a good role model, be a dire warning. And now we move on.

And We're Done

Dave was a bastard.

He was brilliant, but had a quick mind and a quicker temper. He did not suffer fools, gladly or otherwise, and had little patience for people who were slower on the uptake than he was, or for people who he thought were lazy, either intellectually or physically. A fierce intellect in a tempestuous man. Many people loathed him, several feared him, not many liked him.

But he liked me, and somewhere underneath that writhing mob of demons he wrestled daily, I saw somebody I could connect to. I did the analysis for a couple of his projects and spent occasional weekends working on papers with him at his cabin in the White Mountains. For all his failings--and it would take a separate blog with its own server to catalog them all--he was unfailingly generous with me, unfailingly kind and nurturing with my son. We fished, he cooked, we talked, I learned how to be rigorous in thinking about archaeology.

About nine years ago, after an adult lifetime spent alienating colleagues and screaming, drunk, at underlings in the field, he hit bottom. It wasn't hard enough to either kill him or render him amnesiac, but, as he put it, the inter-ocular impact was fairly high, so--with the help of our boss, who is the finest human on the planet--he started to work on getting his shit together.

And in doing so, he gave me the courage to get my own shit together.

He got serious about finishing the cabin, so I lugged tools up over the Rim and hammered floorboards into place and stained paneling and raked cinders. We fished. He cooked. He delighted in my son. He started finishing projects that had languished for years, and started making amends with people he had insulted and abused in the years when the drink and the hot temper and the unbalanced brain chemistry had the upper hand. He wanted to know what I was working on, and was excited to collaborate on new research with a colleague who not two years ago was ready to shoot him on sight. He was slowly turning things around.

But all the years of booze and cigarettes won out in the end. The last five years brought multiple heart surgeries, each leaving him more debilitated than the last. I visited him in the hospital and found a hollowed-out shell with a rat's nest for hair and the sunken, glittering eyes you see in daguerrotypes of Civil War soldiers. He had lived for field archaeology and walking his dog in the woods, but his now-trembling legs and failing eyes kept him from all but largely ceremonial trips out to stumble around Las Capas, where he no longer terrified the workers but instead mostly left them wondering who that shaky old man was. Two weeks ago he went under for a final time to correct a kink in his gut. He went septic and then he went comatose. He finally died last night. He was 61 years old. He leaves behind no family except a Rottweiler named Lovey.

Dave was a bastard. But he was my bastard, and he loved me unconditionally and believed in me when I didn't believe in myself.

Rest well.

In Which Afghanistan Suddenly Becomes Far More Interesting

This could go one of two ways.
The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

I wonder how long it will take to find out which way our road will fork.

Friday, June 11, 2010

La La La La Football

It is World Cup time, people.

La Familia Bolt hit Trident Bar & Grill this morning at 6:20 to secure a table and get a breakfast order in before the rush. Which was a good thing, since the place was packed by kickoff.

Breakfast of champions. Eggs may also have been involved.

The first three minutes had me expecting an ocho-zero blowout for Mexico, but the Bufana Bufana shook off the early pressure--thanks in large part to their 22-year-old keeper, who stuffed one shot from a yard away and brilliantly parried a long-distance strike--and built a steady head of momentum on midfield possession leading to clever through balls. South Africa scored first on an excellent counterattack and crazy-angled shot to the upper corner, far post, and then Mexico put in 90-year-old Cuatehmoc Blanco and we figured it was all over, but then four guys busted into the six yard box uncovered and there wasn't much the keeper could do about it. Game 1 final: 1-1.

And we're off!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

For Damien

...and for everyone else who is being driven to despair by the news of the day, a stop-the-presses moment that doesn't involve catastrophe: I like something David Brooks wrote.

Yes, I know. Take a moment to absorb that little bit of oil-water interplay, and then trundle over to read Brooks' thoroughly pleasant defense of the humanities.

In other happy news, the start time for the World Cup can be counted down in double-digit hours now, and both Jozy Altidore and Gooch Onyewu have been declared fit for the US, meaning we might make it out of pool play after all. And--and--the completely civilized +10 time difference between Tucson and South Africa means we will not need to drag our sorry carcasses out of bed at two in the morning to watch the matches. Indeed, not only will we be awake, but we can have breakfast! And breakfast beers. Vladimir Weiss, Jr. (Slovakia) is my player to watch in Group F; you heard it here first.

Monday, June 07, 2010

And Now for Something Not at All Different

Do you need a break from reading about the Gulf of Mexico and weeping? Well, go read this and continue weeping for what we have become. Or maybe for what humanity has always been, what we were supposed to leave behind when George Washington built that city on the hill, but what we have been unable to escape.

Physicians for Human Rights has released a 27-page report which clearly documents what we already know: The Bush Administration tortured detainees. The more startling conclusion is this: The Bush Administration experimented on those detainees in order to refine, define and justify their torture regimen.

Nothing like setting the bar, jumping over it, then defining that bar for everyone else as some sort of standard. Yet that's exactly what they did.

We're not supposed to overreach in our metaphors, in our stark comparisons, for fear of understating the horrors of the Inquisitors and the Nazis while simultaneously overstating the evils perpetrated by our government, in our name. Because we're not that bad. We can't be that bad and still be us, because Americans don't do those things. Except that they have, and they do, and it's been utterly without hesitation or reflection beyond wondering exactly how much shit they--we--can get away with before the stench becomes so bad that even the most resolutely entrenched-in-denial among us can't look the other way any more.

This is not what my grandfathers fought for in World War II, to borrow a meme that's currently popular among right-wing Arizonans aghast that their forebears sweated and bled to allow Mexican gardeners to prune the oleanders in Scottsdale for three bucks an hour. That aside, this is not why they fought, not why my great-uncle Jim was shot down and killed over Hildesheim, not why my grandfather's friend Virgil took a bullet in the spine at Anzio and came home in a wheelchair. It's also not why my brother left the better part of his spirit in Baghdad and not why his best friend bled out in Kandahar. Unfortunately, his buddy's death and the rest of the deaths and maimings he saw on a daily basis mean torture is simply, to him, justified retribution. The rage and hatred of war left him not giving a rat's ass about torture as long as it happened to the bad guys.

Our leadership is supposed to rise above the blood in the eyes of the guys on the ground. It didn't.

Friday, June 04, 2010

I Stand Corrected

In the last post I waxed concise about being able to write about the human condition due to a fundamental belief that bullshit is not immutable.

I apparently forgot I was living in Arizona.

A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school.

The project's leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children's ethnicity. But the principal says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with political pressure.

The "Go on Green" mural, which covers two walls outside Miller Valley Elementary School, was designed to advertise a campaign for environmentally friendly transportation. It features portraits of four children, with a Hispanic boy as the dominant figure.

R.E. Wall, director of Prescott's Downtown Mural Project, said he and other artists were subjected to slurs from motorists as they worked on the painting at one of the town's most prominent intersections.

"We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars," Wall said. "We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of [epithet for Blacks] and [epithet for Hispanics]."

Thanks, I guess, to K for the Wonkette tip; the comments there are the only thing keeping my gallows humor over this fucking state alive, which in turn is about the only keeping me sane.

On a Particular Silence

I have written maybe five words about the oil spill. Not because I love lightly regulated offshore drilling leading to the destruction of an entire ecosystem, but because I just can't do it. I can write about human rights abuses and injustices and crap Supreme Court decisions like the inversion of Miranda because they are, at least in theory, reversible.

I'm not sure the apocalypse in the Gulf is. And I can't deal with that much sadness.

Rachel's on it; go there and weep.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Raging atheist here, recovering Catholic, lapsed Catholic, collapsed Catholic, Imagine No Religion, the whole deal. Every time Pope Palpatine and his minions make a new pronouncement about Teh Ghey being the biggest threat to humanity since ebola and Hitler combined, I think my jaw can't drop any farther through the floor, then Papa Ratzi flaps his yap one more time and I resign myself to losing my lower mandible until the Deepwater Horizon relief well hits it sometime this coming August, we hope.

For some reason, though, I can't shake the hold some of this stuff has on me. Way back when, I went to the 10:00 Smells 'n' Bells mass (at Sacred Heart Basilica on the campus of Notre Dame) every damn Sunday, always sat in the same spot next to the second column from the sanctuary on the right, next to Emil Hofman, and soaked up the incense and stained glass and the incomparable sensation of being surrounded by the biggest fucking pipe organ on the planet and 1,200 voices raised in song, led by the forebears of these kids.

So yeah. Today I racked up all the YouTube videos of the Lit Choir I could find, and spent the day writing archaeology against the background of the voices of angels, while from time to time mulling the latest bit of WTF sent along by K. The source of solace is simultaneously the source of so much pain. Well, I guess that's Catholicism in a nutshell for you: on the one hand being so enraged and bitter that this had me delightedly snorking coffee out my nose, and on the other hand having a part of my heart so deeply tied to place and past that this brought tears to my eyes.

And our hearts, forever.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Well, this is lovely.

Nowhere to go. Nowhere! Won't someone please think of the oppressed white people for a change?