Sunday, December 23, 2007

my little corner of the world.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

As you've probably noticed, Winter Break has started at the Collective. bsto is in New Orleans, building homes for Habitat for Humanity, pburg is touring Europe, and i'm in tokyo.

Don't fret--we'll all be updating (sto and i are only gone for a week), as was evidenced by bsto's piece and this very entry.

First things first...the following picture was taken as this post was being written.

The sun rising over the land of the rising sun. Ok, that's out of the way.


To expound on bsto's point, the Honolulu Advertiser's headline story the day
I got into Honolulu was about how a charity was 3,000 toys short...and needed them by the next day.

And, the next day, the
Advertiser reported that over 4,000 toys had been donated since the day before.

To me, that's Hawaii--that's the Aloha State. It's not the richest state, but everyone feels like family. This is a gift and a curse, of course--everyone knows everyone else's business (you are more or less tied to every girl you will ever meet or consider dating through just one degree of separation--and I'm dead serious about this) and burning bridges means isolating yourself on the island.

But when calls to action are met in this way, you can't help but feel really good and think 'maybe humanity's demise is greatly exaggerated'

Then, though, you read this story (it happened a stones throw from my own home) and get sick. It'd be ethnocentric to say 'it's gross to eat dogs!!!', but it is just appaling that these men ate someone else's dog. Eat your own or something, you know?


CNN seems to think that President Bush's legacy will be a mixed bag. A mixed implies that both good and bad has been what good was accomplished? A conservative Supreme Court? Bickering with a Democratic Congress?

If they think dealing with 9/11 was a 'good', they need to re-evaluate what happened. Sure, the nation didn't collapse (entirely), but we entered two wars that had no definitive goals other than to fight 'terror'...and no end seems in sight. We are at odds with the world over these wars. We almost entered another war with Iran over nuclear weapons that, it turns out, don't even exist (Iraq and WMDs, aynone).

The economy? Fine, he was in office while it righted itself after the 9/11 effect on the global economy. However, with the subprime interest rate fiasco, the world's credit crunch is huge, and every nation is suffering.

Yeah, I think calling Mr. Bush's legacty is actually quite flattering and undeserved.


I've noticed a few things that I wanted to write about--nothing groundbreaking, but I have yet to write anything groundbreaking yet anyway.

Remember how I said I loved Wham's 'Last Christmas'? I still do, but not as much as the Japanese love it. Every store I've been into plays joke. It's so popular that you would have thought it was the actual song playing upon Jesus' birth.

Then again, Christmas is a day for couples here, not families. I went out with some friends the other night, and one girl kept harping on about how this was going to be the worst Christmas ever.

I was confused and asked why. She said it was because she never had a Christmas without a boyfriend and it was going to make her sick to see all of the couples together. She said her plans consisted of staying home and baking with her grandma.

So, essentially, Christmas stresses everyone out, even if they're not of the Christian faith. If you're not touched by it because of sheer capitalism, then you're depressed because being alone on Christmas is equitable with being a loser in love (in Japan, at least).

And, this country celebrates Valentines Day as well as their own holiday, called
White Day.

So, clearly, it's not a place to be if you hate love. Who does, though? You should celebrate your love every day (that was my diatribe against Valentines during my single years in middle and high school). Now, though, I enjoy the holiday quite a bit. It is a really cute day.

It's Christmas Eve here today (welcome to the future!), and Christmas festivities are in full swing.

keigo is a weird phenomenon. I mean, it's hard enough for me to understand everyone here (sitting through 10 years of Japanese schooling did me no good), and to throw in a whole different set of words when I engage in consumerism is insane.

When leaving stores/restaurants in Japan, you'll be thanked by the staff...but usually as you've already exited.They yell out an 'arigatou gozaimashita' that tries its hardest to catch up with you as you make your way through the crowded Tokyo streets. Hawaii is all about subtlety and being indirect, and clearly, the culture of my home has been greatly influenced by the influx of Japanese immigrant workers a hundred years ago. This sort of thank-you gesture is clearly all about deference to the's all about respect, subtlety and being indirect.

some things never change.

Songs that I'm listening to

Jens Lekman 'Sipping on Sweet Nectar'

I can't decide what song off of this album is my favorite--it:s such a great mix of singer/songwriter pieces with disco and am radio flourishes

Cool Kids 'Black Mags'

Yeah, they're singing about bike parts and they're too young to legally drink, but the beat is just amazing..and it makes me want to ride my bike, surprisingly.


Phoenix 'Too Young'

My favorite song of all time works really well in Tokyo (probably because its in Lost In Translation)


Daft Punk 'Superheroes'

Another great song...especially the end. I guess this is from that Intersellar 555 DVD, but I had my own treatment for the song that included a couple in suits trying to destroy a plane, but everyone on the plane danced and the plane had really cool lighting.

They succed in planting the explosives, or whatever, and they watch it explode, but as they do, they get onto a metro that somehow else has rigged to explode. Sure, it seems cheap and obvious, but it would be just incredibly awesome with all of its dancing and lights and explosions and expensive suits.

yeah, yeah..whatever. haha.


alright. happy holidays!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Santa's Looking for Some Help

This morning, back in Chicago, I ventured outside to get the papers. It sure looked like Christmas time--the whole street was white, snow was everywhere.

But the front page of the Chicago Tribune brought some un-cheery news, echoing news that circulated DC last week: charities that usually receive increased donations around Christmas time aren't getting the usual donations. It turns out this is actually a national issue.

[Here's some links: Tribune's story, Post's story, and DCist follow up.]

Of course people will look towards the economy, skyscraping gas prices, etc. for an explanation of this missing altruism. But I dare posit the idea that the lowering donations simply represents the realization of years of our administration's selfish activities. The lack of official global participation and "cheer" from our country's representatives is obvious and widespread. I believe it might be setting an example for the people.

Consider the Tancredo doctrine and our xenophobic immigration debates of late. Consider the political infighting on Capitol Hill, where selfish earmarks help take down important issues and despite all the democrats' so called reform, earmarks continue to take ridiculous amounts of money. (BIG Post story on earmarks here.)

Anyway, I realize it might be a bit of a stretch to say that the government is responsible for our misdeeds, but it's certainly true that the official discourses and attitudes up there aren't doing a whole lot to make us feel connected to one another.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

in advance of the storm.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Again, sorry for the lack of updates. Finals just concluded for me, and bsto is finishing up his (as is Mr. Burgwinkle).

The rest of the year should be a doozy, though. We've got lists galore--albums (featuring lists by some guests writers), news articles, and each writer's favorite ten JJ Collective entries. This our 192 post--we hit the big 200 soon (and one year next month!).

Nerdy? Yes. Awesome? Most likely. Overkill? Never.

Here are some videos to ponder while the JJ Collective puts together their lists and get over the toxic shock that accompany finals--enjoy!

Kanye West "Can't Tell Me Nothing" (Alternate Video)

This was one of my least favorite songs off of the brilliant "Graduation" (record of the year? you'll have to wait for the Collective writers to put out their lists), and it perplexed me that this was the first single. The original video for the song is incredibly bland, but Zach Galifianakis is one of the funniest men on earth--the jewelry bit, the spitting tobacco part...just comedic gold. And, Will Oldham (ne Bonnie "Prince" Billy) just completes the ridiculously humorous awkwardness of the entire production.

Wham! "Last Christmas"

One of the best Christmas songs ever. Nothing beats '80s synthpop, George Michaels' dramatic lyrics and tying love, disappointment and Christmas all together. Nothing. This, "Sleigh Ride", "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" have to be, far and away, the best Christmas songs ever. I just wish this video was the full-length song (all 6 minutes and 44 seconds of it).

George Benson "Breezin'"

Man, finding this video was bittersweet. I've always loved this riff, but that's because I thought it was a Timbaland beat on the Lox's song "Ryde or Die Chick"...and, somehow, the other day, I stumbled across this song and realized it wasn't original at all. I shouldn't have been fooled, I guess--rap is all samples anyway--and to be honest, I'd rather just listen to this song than that Lox song. Weezer also seems to have ripped it off on "Burndt Jamb" on the otherwise forgettable "Maladroit".

Less than two weeks left in the year, everyone--hope you've got your resolutions ready. I know I do--but those will get posted soon enough.

Friday, December 14, 2007

what have you done for me lately?

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Sorry for the relative lack of updates--it's finals time (three today)..but here we go. Don't worry, the lights are still on at the JJ Collective--we're not taking a winter vacation!

Baseball's "Mitchell Investigation" Report was released today--today might go down as one of the most historic days in sports' history.

Download the entire report here (400+ pages)

List of players named in the report here

I won't kill it and talk ad nauseum about it, because ESPN is doing a great job of that. However, here are some of my reactions:

You'd think for all the steroids that the orioles took (tejada, roberts, palmeiro, segui, hairston jr, bigbie, gibbons) that the orioles wouldn't SUCK.

But man...they're terrible. Is this a sign that cheaters don't always win?

There's a lot of huge names on there other than the obvious ones like pettitte and clemens and tejada, aren't there? hundley?!?! dykstra? rondell white? knoblauch? mo vaugh? DENNY NEAGLE?!?!

Then again, i'm not surprised by david justice..haha (he'll get his justice, alright...)

It's strange that fernando vina was on the list, cause, uh, he's an ESPN analyst. imagine how awkward that's gonna be around the office. john kruk likened taking steroids to his alcoholism-"just because it's there doesn't mean you have to do it" (he's right, but man, it's gonna be uncomfortable for the baseball department up in bristol)

There's a lot of angels on the list, too. haha. angels on the naughty list.

I really looked up to a lot of these guys when i played baseball, you know? I remember using many of these guys in the aforementioned baseball sim that I used to play, and it's just really depressing to think that your childhood is really based on cheaters.

When I read all of this in the library (after I had time to let the report and list of names sink in), I was upset. really. I felt like, at that moment, had my childhood ended, but it had been a complete lie. It's sad Rick Ankiel was on them--Disney was negotiating talks with him about developing a movie about his great come-back. I'm glad they found out about this before they made the movie--it would have been such a lie, and kids really don't need that. These guys should be ashamed for themselves. I don't care that they did it to themselves--they're grown men and can destroy their bodies if they feel like it. But, come on--so many kids look up to baseball players. The American past-time? Fitting, isn't it, that the best players in our national game cheat, lie, take drugs and get rich all at that same time, isn't it? What does that say about American culture in general?

And, not to be weird--but anyway else think that Mitchell was a little unfair? He is a Red Sox fan, and two of the teams he busted most were the Yankees and Orioles--the Red Sox two biggest traditional rivals.

And let it be known that certain comments by certain pundits saying "The pitchers are justified in juicing because the batters were juicing" is absolutely ridiculous. It's like saying "dude down the block is robbing banks, so we should rob banks because it's the only way to keep up". Two wrongs don't make a right, homeboy. How did you graduate from college with that logic?

And, one week after announcing my candidacy for the England job, England seem ready to name Fabio Capello as their coach. Capello gets results, but he coaches boring football--though England is very capable of playing this way, and all the fans are going to want are results anyway, so it's a match made in heaven.

They're paying him quite a bit, though. £4million after taxes. A bit more than my demands, methinks

And, of course, leave it to the English FA to worry about Capello's staff being all Italian an putting off the announcement as a result. Do you care about winning, England, or do you care about nationalism?


And, for you non-sports fans, here are bsto's latest DCist articles (fresh as a pair of Nikes straight out the box):

Exploring the Early Americas at the LOC

Revisiting the Edmund Burke Monument

The Chinese had a memorial for those mercilessly killed at the hands of the Japanese army in Nanjing in 1937.

Think they'll hold a memorial for this or this? I am not a Japanese apologist--you have to look no further than my scathing criticism of Japan's World War II "Comfort Women" and my strong calls for an apology. Japan's World War II Machine was nasty--most people in America will never be privy to Unit 731 and it's sick experiments.

It's not like the Chinese are alone in this, though. Sure, America memorializes this, but do you think America will ever memorialize this or this or this?

It's easy to play the victim and not confess to wrongs--and the simple fact of the matter is everyone is guilty of it. Asia is in such a bad place because:
a) the Japanese don't admit to their sick, senseless war atrocities
b) the rest of Asia doesn't want to let it go

If Asia used all the time it spends bickering over textbook revisions and arguing over the legality and appropriateness of visits to temples to instead discuss regional security and peace, it could easily be the most powerful region on earth. Instead, in-fighting will keep the area from dominating world economic policy and politics.


Oh, two videos as well:

Escort "All Through the Night"

In the vein of that "Hey Ya" Charlie Brown video--but cooler.

Justice "D.A.N.C.E." (live on Jimmy Kimmel)

Yes, I know this song is soooooo last summer, but this live video is just incredible. Having Stevie, Prince, Rod Stewart, Rick James and MJ (I mean, Justice do reference MJ's "P.Y.T." in the song) play the song for them was genius--though why is Stevie playing the drums?

Happy Friday and have a great weekend, everyone!

(Arsenal v Chelsea on Sunday!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

on karl hobbs-gate.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Two nights ago, the George Washington University's men basketball team was drubbed 68-36 by Virginia Tech--the same Virginia Tech that GW squeaked by in last year's BB&T Classic.

There seems to be a budding tension between the two schools--earlier this year, when Nigel Munson requested to be released from the Virginia Tech squad, coach Seth Greenberg told Munson that he would be released from his scholarship as long as he did not transfer to GW.
Munson, it turns out, wanted to become a Colonial--and he was subsequently not released from his scholarship obligation and will only be allowed to leave this summer. One GW's starting forward,
Wynton Witherspoon, is another Virginia Tech transfer. What's in the water that makes kids want to flee Blacksburg for Foggy Bottom? I have no idea, to be honest, but that's not what we're exploring.

After the smashing laid upon the Colonials by the Hokies, GW coach Karl Hobbs was asked by the GW Hatchet's sports editor, Andrew Alberg, to explain the reason for GW's monumental collapse. His response? From Mr. Alberg's piece:

"They out-physicaled us, they out-ran us, they out-shot us - they dominated in every phase of the game," he said. But the coach would not analyze what he thought of his coaching during the game. When asked by The Hatchet if "every facet of the game" included being out-coached, Hobbs said, "You can say that if you want," and declined clarification upon request.

This wasn't the end of it, though.

The Washington Post article went on to say that "Afterward, Hobbs became heated during a verbal altercation with a student reporter and was pulled away by Athletic Director Jack Kvancz."

Real professional, coach. From all of the reports I have heard, Hobbs isn't very fond of the GW student media--Alberg is said to be one of the only student reporters that he talks to. Hobbs is quick to bellyache to anyone that will listen, though, about the program's shortcomings--it's small gym and workout facilities and lack of funds. The school cannot improve if the team does not win, and though they've been to three straight NCAA tournaments, they haven't done anything in any of them. It's everyone's fault but your own, isn't it, Karl? The school, the students, the players, the staffers at J-Street--but never you. How could it be?

Alberg went on to write that "Asked if he is exonerated from any blame because he does not have top-notch recruits, Hobbs said, "No," but restated, "When I get some top-50 recruits, you can ask me about being outcoached.""

Alberg gave his side of the story at the GW Hatchet blog, and you can access it here.

This is Hobbs, who coaches at a mid-major program, and who is usually lauded for finding players that fit into his system. He gets raw athletes who can run-and-gun with the best of them. 36 points is not part of his system. Did he recruit badly? Did he not coach his system correctly? I don't know, but to deflect blame and say "talk to me when I have top-50 players" is a joke.

There are a lot of mid-major teams who find success without having top-50 recruits. Gonzaga is a perennial powerhouse and I guarantee that they do not get top-50 recruits. The 2003-2004 St. Joseph's team went 27-0 during the regular season and got a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Small schools can succeed--and they regularly do.

Top 50 players aren't recruited--they're created at their universities. Top-50 players that don't produce are just as good as the scores of other Division I-A basketball players who aren't on any lists. These rankings don't mean anything-fifty ain't nothing but a number.

I've long been a Karl Hobbs detractor--and that isn't going to change any time soon
. The man gets ejected in key moments during games and has cost his team.

The fact that he deflected blame from himself and then had to be restrained from attacking a student reporter is a joke. How did he end up with a head coaching job anywhere?

And Witherspoon's kid brother, Wesley, was at the game--he is supposedly a top-50 recruit. Think he'll want to play for Hobbs after the embarrassing loss, the way he blames things on his players and the manner in which he treats students in general? Hobbs said last year that his team just "wasn't that good"--and though they were average, they made the NCAA tournament because they fought. But, how demoralizing must it be to have a coach say "we just aren't that good" while saying that his team isn't good because they don't have any top-50 recruits? How do you expect to win when you lower morale so much? Let the papers and the fans deride the team--you don't ever bad mouth your team in public. You can say "we're young" or "we had an off night" or "we're still growing"--but saying "talk to me when I have top-50 players"? That is just immature and irresponsible.

That's why top-50 recruits don't want to play at GW, Karl--because you're inept. GW better realize this before they become the Atlantic-10's whipping boys (a la St. Bonaventure).

Monday, December 10, 2007

it was supposed to be so easy.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Gordon Brown has announced that the UK is pulling out more troops by March--they're reducing forces from 4,500 to 2,500 (with the 4,500 representing 1/10 of the total number sent by Tony Blair when the invasion started in 2003).

And, you know, the good ol USA sent 30,000 troops a few weeks back.

What does it mean? That this is quickly truly becoming America's War (..ahem...Dubya's). And, of course, the article goes on.

It's amazing that the 2008 Presidential Election is going to be run with this quagmire still going on and that a relevant debate question is going to be "Well, how are you going to fix this royal mess that we find ourselves in".

It's just astonishing that President Bush got re-elected and that, now, all of America seemed to be against the war. Do the voters know that the war that they claim to hate was started by the man that they elected...and re-elected?

The Brits? They're not quitting--that's for damn sure. They're just getting out of a bad situation that their old leader got them into by unfortunately being too trusting of the American president.

The sad part is that, if we pull out, Iraq will probably collapse. I don't just mean into multiple states, either (I think Kurdistan is a good idea)--I mean hardcore civil war with actual fighting and actual deaths.

Damned if we do, damned if we don't, right? What are the options? Pulling out is hard, but staying in isn't really doing much, either. It's a lose lose situation--innocent men and women are going to just depends what country's innocent men and women.

To me, the only option is to uphold our promises, though it's become hazy as to exactly what they are. Democracy? There's a semblance of that there (and to make it a war based on democracy is ethnocentric and foolish). The collapse of the Hussein regime? He's gone.

What's the endgame? Of course we have to make sure the country is stable--but can we define what stable is? I mean, it's been three-and-a-half years since the end of "major operations" and "mission accomplished"--if so, what are we still doing there?

Fine, fine--after the party, someone still has to clean up. But it's been 3 1/2 years. If it's been over that long, let's get out. Clearly, this isn't the case. We need to identify what the goals are and what will allow us to pull out. No esoteric "peace and we leave"--we need to have cold hard benchmarks in order to make sure we're on track. Dubya is a lame duck and could care less--but I want the candidates to lay out benchmarks, plans and exit strategies...and so should everyone else. Too many people are dying in a war that no one supports--and yet, we're still there, and it seems like we will be for the foreseeable future. Then again, no one said that war made sense, and with a war led by Dubya, no one should expect it to be (unfortunately).


And Hugo "la vida loca" Chavez is creating a new time zone for Venezuela-- 4 1/2 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.

I mean, he may hold elections, but when you think you're bigger than nature, you've got a huge power complex--though this isn't anything groundbreaking.

It'd all be funny if it wasn't true because it seems too far-fetched and ridiculous to be true
(like all of Adam Sandler's old movies)...unfortunately, it is real, and, by extension, not that funny: it's less comedic and more tragic than all of Adam Sandler's latest movies (unfortunately).


I can't leave on such a sour note! Here are some videos!

Joe Jackson "Steppin' Out"

Good lord, what a song.

Ayuse Kozue "Sundae Love"

This might be the most absurd video ever. It's an incredible pop song, and I'm not even going to apologize for loving it because I don't need to--but I mean...what's going on?

Hall and Oates "Kiss On My List"

Hall and Oates get railed on all the time--but they're so cheesy that they're incredible.

Scott Walker "On Your Own Again"

This video is an excerpt from Radiohead's "Meeting People is Easy", which documents their turbulent tour in support of "OK Computer". Scott Walker (interestingly enough, this isn't his real name...) seems to be getting aped more and more these days (Jens Lekman, Bill Callahan, Stephin Merritt), but rightfully so--he has such a great voice. It sounds like all the good parts of male enka
and Bill Murray..and I just feel like having Scott Walker sing your New Years Resolutions would make them all instantly come true. Whenever I sing in the shower, I usually do it in a Scott Walker voice--it makes me feel more mature, I guess, and I'm told I have a low voice (I'm under the impression that it's pretty high, but I guess I can't hear my own voice) so it's fitting.

My New Years Resolution, you ask ('tis the season!)? Jagerbombs. Because of profanity (and profanity only), this may not be safe for work--but it is, nonetheless, hilarious. (But really, we all know this cat is the mortal enemy of the Collective)

Tears for Fears "Head Over Heels"

What a great song and appropriately nerdy video. When dude that looks like Joey Gladstone from Full House plays the keyboard that randomly appears on they library counter (1:31), all hell should break's too bad that it doesn't.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

how's that manager search coming?

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

England still haven't named their coach? I'll take the post. All I demand is £500 a week (a mere pittance!), a flat at Highbury (next to Wenger's, preferrably) and a personal driver (a Rolls-Royce or Bentley is fine as well). I'll probably hire bsto as my technical director (whatever the hell they actually do is beyond me, but bsto seems fit for it with his philosophical background and penchant for chess), David Byrd as head trainer and physio and Pat Burgwinkle as our lead talent scout (I'm sure most of the squad will consist of Villa players, as well as Stevie G) and PR man.

Who am I kidding? I'd probably put off team tactics, scouting, and team selection until the nigh before games--though that is when I work best...and I usually have good results (better than England, anyway) . I couldn't do a worse job than Mclaren, though. I just couldn't. I have that going for me, at least.


Oh, Korea needs a manager after being turned down by its only two choices?

I'm open for that job as well. It'll be a lot easier to qualify for the World Cup out of Asia, and it'll be easier for me to travel back to Honolulu and LA between matches. And, I'll make sure the players aren't out too late--I'll go out with them and make sure that they get back home at a reasonable hour.

Drop me a line, FA or KFA. You need a manager, I need a J.O.B. Pundits will knock you down at first for hiring a relative unknown (and untested) manager, but think about how brilliant you will look when (not if) I win matches. I have not yet lost a game--the same cannot be said of any other candidates that you are currently looking at.

You've got nothing to lose. Give me a call.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Written by JJ contributor Ilnans

Since it's been snowing a lot in Chicago, I've been thinking a lot about Christmas which is funny because a), it's not quite Christmas yet and b) I never really have thought too much about the holiday in the past 24 years. OK, well the thing is that Christmas means absolutely nothing to me. Ever since I was born I've known Santa was a crock. I personally think the pairing of green and red is quite ugly, and hearing that gosh darn Christmas music everywhere I turn leaves me with a bit of anxiety in place of that warm cuddly feeling I think most people hold so dear.

Well, I'm sitting in my closet-of-an-office right now post-conversation with one of the teachers I work with at this Headstart/church preschool and I can't seem to shake the conversation I just had with her because she really and truly and with her whole being didn't understand why I said something at today's meeting about whether everyone in both classes celebrates Christmas (referring to the activities that were being planned for the next two weeks). "Christmas is so nieece though! The songs, they are so nieece! We can make little ornaments!"

When I first heard the organization I work for has a new policy to stop doing holidays in school, I was kind of annoyed thinking to myself that some arse probably complained because his poor kid came home singing about a reindeer with a blinking nose and at the time the issue seemed rather dumb and pointless; if the class is made up of mostly Christmas celebrators than it should be OK and understandable for one child to have to grin and bear it for her entire existence. I mean it's not like anything is going to change in the future around any of this holiday stuff, why should my employer pretend it's going to do anything?

As I have sat through meetings this year leading up to the holiday season, I've started to realize that the teachers have no intention of forgoing a Christmas tree for any other symbol of winter or the holiday season. They have no plans of getting rid of their Christmas music, in fact it's what they now play during all the transitions during the day and all throughout the children's two hour nap.

Now to the point. Well the point is that with or without policy change, the problem with Christmas being all over the place is that it allows people to be ignorant once again. It allows people to shut out difference and turn a shoulder on inclusion. It is a small example of what is wrong with humans of all races and origins. The teacher who I talked to is from Mexico. She and many of the other teachers are often complaining to me about how the other teachers in the classroom do not respect their culture and they will speak in Spanish to one another to strengthen their connectedness which then angers the other teachers because they feel left out and then they complain to me as well. The funny thing is that none of them think twice about the fact that I'm Jewish and for whatever other implication that may have about me, the one thing that I can fully accept and support as a Jew is the fact that Christmas means absolutely nothing to me. They don't think twice about that. Sure, I've gained a few memories around the holiday season to remember and I might use Christmas as a reference for these events but that is about the extent of it and these women don't understand why I'd say something to try and recognize the children in the room that might not celebrate the holiday.

It doesn't anger me, but it makes me speechless because it is such a deep and ingrained ignorance based on generations upon generations of ignorance and it's not like it's causing me any real pain or harm or anything but it does make me involuntarily resentful which then makes me angry for letting it get to me and so it goes (can I get an AMEN!). I usually think of myself as being a decent communicator. One who can talk to people so that they truly understand and with this I am speechless. Really.

days to come.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

The people of Venezuela voted against Hugo Chavez's referendum vote that would have allowed him to run for election again and that would have made "socialism" even more prevalent in Venezuela (the apostrophes there for obvious reasons).

The JJ Collective is a strong opponent of Chavez--not because we oppose every regime who hates Bush's America (this obviously is not the case--look at our leanings overall), but because he stifles free speech and denies basic freedoms of life to his people. Granted, many leaders worldwide do that--Chavez is just one of the most visible.

I'm not going to sit here and argue the merits of socialism. I only have a base understanding of the topic, and my friends bsto (a philosophy buff) and Patrick Burgwinkle and Sarah Kang (political science majors) are much more qualified to touch on the subject. We all basically know and understand how it works--and it's hard to argue that it sounds great.

I'm also not going to sit here and tell you that communism is great in theory. This is one of the most basic collegiate mistakes. Sure, it just may be--but theories never play out the way we want them to. (Wo)Man is inherently greedy and incapable of such a system of government.

I will say that I am surprised that the news that Chavez and his referendum were voted down was leaked out. Chavez controls all forms of media in Venezuela--the fact that he'd let anti-party information leak is intriguing.

Of course, it is probably meaningless. Chavez is a trotskyist, and as the dictator of the nation, he's in the driver's seat. He'll be in power for as long as he wants--and he'll take as many political prisoners as it takes for it to happen. Let's not kid ourselves: elections are great, but not when they are easily overturned.

The Venezuela problem is a very interesting one (King Juan Carlos telling Chavez to shut up? Priceless...and a video here).

And I love seeing socialist dictators (ahem..."presidents") calling other leaders fascists. It takes one to know one, doesn't it?

The most troubling bit? Chavez saying "
Now Venezuelans should have faith in our institutions". Having elections just to show that a nation can have elections--then rigging the rest. Genius...and the first class in Dictatorship 101. If you believe this, I've got a bridge to sell you--contact me.

I know it's easy to sit here and call out leaders of "corrupt" nations--but after hearing the horror stories about the way that the families of close friends who are living in Venezuela are currently living, I have no support for Chavez and his goonish cronies.

Monday, December 3, 2007

hawaii no ka oi.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

As you know, Hawaii’s beloved Warriors finished 12-0 and will be playing Georgia in the Sugar Bowl New Orleans on New Years Day.

They are the only undefeated team left in college football. And, yet, they were never among the teams being considered to contend for the national championship.

In the words of my Hawaii braddahs, “Eh, how you figgah?”

Granted, Hawaii does not play in a power conference. Yes, their schedule was relatively weak. But let’s look at this all logically.

They defeated all comers. Every single one. Sure, some games got close—but they never lost a game. You have pundits saying “LSU deserves to be in the national championship game because their two losses were in overtime”…and yet, UH is derided for their two ROAD overtime wins.

Hawaii should have beaten these teams handily” it was said. Fine, but they never LOST. They did something LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia, USC…and no other team could do. And yet, we’re okay with that. It’s okay that these other teams lost.

It’s strange that Les Miles thinks his LSU team should be applauded for losing in overtime—he wears it like a badge of honor. UH, on the other hand, never lost an overtime game. They never lost a game. Let that sink in. A team with two losses is going to contest for the national title. A team with zero losses is not. Fair, right?

They didn’t play anybody. Nobody? Whose fault is that? USC balked. Michigan Michigan State pulled out of a game and paid to not have to play Hawaii. It wasn’t for a lack of trying. balked.

Half of their games are in Hawaii, it has been written. And half of LSU’s games are in Louisiana. Half of USC’s games are Los Angeles. Hawaii logged something near 40,000 miles this year. They spent two consecutive weeks on the road. Yes, teams have to travel to Hawaii—but for seven weeks a year, Hawaii is traveling—and traveling far. They play in a conference that takes them to Louisiana and Texas every year—these trips easily turn into an entire day of flying and sitting in airports. I’ve done it—believe me, it’s not fun.

The most simple fact for every team that thinks they have a legitimate gripe about not playing for the national championship is that they took themselves out of the position to do so. Hawaii did everything that a team should have to—win every game.

In what other sport can a team win all of its challenges—overcome every hurdle placed in its way—and not have a chance to play for the title?

Explain that to a kid just starting pee-wee sports. Tell him that he could win all of his games, but, sorry—you won’t play for the championship because the other kids you played weren’t good enough or didn’t play for the right team or that you just didn’t win all of your games by enough.

Does the BCS work? Of course not. The fix is a lot more difficult, though. Do I want a play-off? Of course I do. But how would it work? A play-off system with 16 teams would probably reduce seasons to eight or ten games.

This would probably force the collapse of all of the nation’s football leagues as we know it. Traditional out-of-conference rivalries (USC v. Notre Dame) would be lost if we decided to keep the conferences. Why would power conferences buy into a play-off system? It doesn’t pay them off—they’ll beat up on each other and have no chance to get into the play-off picture.

I honestly feel that if a play-off system is introduced, the big six conferences will break away from the NCAA. Pessimistic? No. Realistic? Yes. They know they could get huge television packages from ESPN. They don’t care about leaving the teams on the outside in the cold.

It pains me to acknowledge this. Yes, Hawaii has a ton of bandwagon fans (early in the year, Aloha Stadium went 3/5 full), but I know that I hail from a state that loves its Warriors—they’re the only show in town. I know how sweet this victory is—my dad and I attended every game when UH went 0-12 and lost 19 games in a row over the span of two years. The fact is, though, that my alma mater is one of college football’s most storied schools—and is one of the teams who would undoubtedly leave the NCAA if the BCS was dismantled.

Life isn’t fair. Obviously. The Sugar Bowl is the biggest thing that will probably ever happen in Hawaii sports history. I’m not overstating this one bit—I fully believe that, win or lose, this will be the pinnacle in Hawaii sports.

Something’s wrong, though, when a team can go undefeated and has to grit their teeth just to play in a game with a big payout—when a team can be perfect and still be unsure of their fate. The fact that the entire state worried that the team could have played in a Hawaii bowl game is sickening. The fact that the team was never part of the discussion to play for the national championship is just insane.

Does the system work? Yes—as long as your school has prestige, history and a perfect lineage. The BCS doesn’t take current form into account—it only considers the ghost of college football’s past.


I wrote the above post around seven hours ago.

I think now, and only now, is it really starting to sink in that Hawaii overcame the odds and did make it into a BCS game. Not only is it a dream come true--it's something I still think is impossible. I don't want to seem upset that they aren't playing for the national championship (what does it mean, anyway?), because I'm proud of the boys.

And ESPN had a great article on just how the BCS doesn't work. Woj just loves this Hawaii team--and rightfully so, because they've done everything asked of them.

And, according to ESPNation, the second-most desired match-up guessed it: Hawaii vs. Georgia. People want to see this Hawaii team in prime time.

3) Which BCS matchup is the most intriguing?

39.9%Ohio State vs. LSU
27.9%Hawaii vs. Georgia
18.7%Oklahoma vs. West Virginia
8.9%USC vs. Illinois
4.7%Virginia Tech vs. Kansas

My biggest question, though, is if Hawaii does pull of the victory, will they get votes for the number one spot? I know voters in one poll are required to vote for the winner of the BCS title game as the winner--but what about in the other?

If Ohio State wins, we have a one loss team, sure--but one that played a weak schedule in a weak Big 10. If LSU wins, we have a two loss champ (chump?).

I can see there being trouble with whoever wins the national championship game and if USC, Hawaii and Oklahoma win.

Forget it: there's gonna be trouble regardless--and rightfully so: the BCS is a sham. It doesn't make the national champion any less mythical or any more obvious than the bowl system that existed before the BCS' creation in 1998.

But that's not what I'm here about. I'm here to congratulate the Warriors. Really--this is about as improbable as the men's basketball team making the Final Four.

Congrats, boys. You reminded the country that Hawaii is a part of the Union and does big things.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal

I won't lie: for a lot of the second half I was nervous that Arsenal was only a goal up. Not only for the obvious reason--that Villa was dominating and creating dangerous chances--but because with 2 there was still a possibility that Pat's prediction of the game going to Villa 3-2 would come true.

Villa, in fairness, might have deserved another goal. Carew hit the crossbar (though replays showed Almunia had it covered) and Arsenal just couldn't keep the ball. Plus, it started pouring rain and Villa Park was loudly behind their team.

Mostly, though, it just had that feeling (THAT feeling). You could just tell Villa would break through. But that's the thing. Through all those kind of games this year, when THAT feeling has made itself quite at home, Arsenal has managed to come through.

But still, watching this game I just thought that all those other games were different. Surely we'd blow this one. With Villa's quick youngsters always threatening, I couldn't shake THAT feeling. I could just imagine a moment of brilliance, a lucky bounce, anything that would take the points from Arsenal.

But nothing happened. The score stayed 2-1. Arsenal took all the points.


It was a story of two halves. The first half Arsenal had by the balls. There's no other way to say it. It could have been 8-1 after 45. They were in total control, with only intermittent threats in the form of counter attacks or free kicks.

And then, after half time, Villa did a terrible thing.

Not all of Villa, to be fair. It was just Carew. He missed a wide open chance, with a wide open goal and then as Arsenal streaked downfield, he chased the ball down and tackled Hleb FROM BEHIND, with the ball NOWHERE IN SIGHT. Somehow, he escaped a red card. Hleb, on the other hand, WAS DONE FOR THE GAME.

It was a malicious tackle and completely changed the game.

You see, without Cesc to begin with it was obvious from the beginning that Arsenal was going to need some other players to step up as playmakers. Sure enough, throughout the first half Eboue just killed his defender Bouma time and again; Rosicky kept up the good play that he's brought through the whole season thus far; and Hleb basically filled in for Cesc, distributing and taking the team forward.

Then, with Carew's tackle, all that changed. With Hleb out Arsenal had no link between the defense and lonely Adebayor. They lost the poise and possession that Hleb's confident technique always brings and thus panicked with the ball in back numerous times, giving Villa more chances and more confidence.

It was truly interesting to see, how Arsenal went from total control to being, as they say, in sixes and sevens.

They went from the driver's seat to holding the bumper for dear life. But you know what? They held on.