Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bad Officiating: Joey Crawford Hates the Sound of Laughter

         (photo @ awfulannouncing)                                        

Recently, my hometown Atlanta Braves won a 19 inning game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on maybe one of the worst calls in major league baseball history.  Even though I don't follow baseball like I used to, I'm still happy to see the Braves win; just not like this.  

I also know that when a blown call happens to one of my teams, the reaction is not pretty. I have probably burst more blood vessels and yelled at more television sets in a tone that is normally reserved for movie roles staring Mark Wahlburg or Samuel L. Jackson.

But when they get together, it is eerily calm.

One day, I finally realized how displaced my anger often was at officials.  That day was when one of my favorite officials (yes, you can have favorite officials), Ed Hochuli, completely blew a call that cost the San Diego Chargers a game.

But here was the catch:  He immediately admitted his mistake and apologized.  He even responded to Charger fans' hate mail because "people deserve a response."

Umpire Jim Joyce ruined a perfect game by pitcher Armando Galarraga on terrible call.  He then personally apologized to the pitcher while nearly breaking down in tears.

These guys apologized and owned up to errors that were made in front of millions of people.  What else can we ask for from a person that messed up and feels badly about it?


We all make mistakes.  Some officials, however, do much more than miss obvious calls; they further compound their error by being a complete jerk and refusing to admit that they were wrong...

...which brings us to one Joey Crawfod, veteran NBA official.  You won't find many NBA fans that don't shudder and/or laugh about what an awful referee he is.  

Here are a couple of my favorites as a warm up:

Joey Crawford runs down the court, slams into Dwayne Wade (knocking him to the ground), and calls a foul on Wayne's defender, Chauncey Billups.

Here is another classic where Crawford decides that Marcus Camby fouled Steve Nash from 10 feet away...WITH HIS MIND!

But both of these examples pale in comparison to what happened on April 15, 2007 in a game between the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs.  Tim Duncan, who was the Spurs best player, had received a technical foul for arguing/commenting towards Crawford...while sitting on the bench.

Even though one could ask "Why is the referee looking at the bench and not the game?", it still would be justified.  If you argue with or insult an official, they can and probably will give you a technical foul.  What happened next, however, completely defies logic:

On the next play, Crawford calls a very questionable blocking foul against the Spurs.  Duncan begins laughing, covers his face with a towel...and Crawford gives him another technical foul, ejecting him from the game.

The replay shows that Duncan didn't say anything to Crawford (or anyone else) that warranted the second technical.  He just sat on the bench and laughed about a bad call.

Furthermore, Duncan (who is well known for his low key personality and high moral character) claimed that Crawford repeatedly challenged him to fight during the game.

       You wanna go, mama's boy?!

For once, NBA commissioner David Stern did something that I agreed with and suspended Crawford for the rest of the 2007 season and playoffs.  

Tim Duncan was also fined $25,000 because hey, why not?

After talking with the NBA vice president of basketball operations, Crawford apologized to Tim Duncan, the Spurs, and the NBA for his unexceptable behavior...HA!  Just kidding; he actually said that given the chance he would do it again (Crawford's ranting highlighted).

  And I would've kicked out that guy for looking at me funny!

He went on to say that if the NBA did not like the way he handled the situation, then he had a problem with his employer.  The NBA responded in turn...by reinstating him for the 2008 season.

It looks like Crawford may be up to his old tricks again, but at this point, no one takes NBA officiating seriously anyway.  It often times works much better as comedy.

I will leave you know with a funny example involving Crawford and two players that I can't stand:  JJ Reddick and Dewayne Wade.  Together, they make the greatest modern incarnation of Larry, Moe, and Curly that you will ever see.

1.  During a fast break, Crawford gets knocked to the floor by Reddick.
2.  Reddick shoots a jump shot.
3.  Dewayne Wade leaps into the air and misses everything.
4.  Reddick pretends to get hit and flings himself onto the floor.
5.  Crawford rolls around the ground, blows his whistle, and calls a foul on Wade.

Woop woop woop woop! (Curly's signature vocal sound effect, for the unschooled)

The Three Stooges, everyone!  Thank you, and good night!


In case you missed it, Crawford is Curly

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Face Palm Moments in Journalism: Michael Moore, the Oracle of Davison

(photo @ the guardian)

Michael Moore is a well known liberal activist and a prolific, Academy Award winning documentary film maker. Before I lay into the guy, it should be noted that he is a brilliant and talented film maker who can often make some very good points about our current political/economic system and the society that we live in.

Unfortunately, he is also an unrepentant liar and a hypocrite to a degree that would be hilarious if so many people didn't believe in him. So go grab some popcorn, a few snacks, and a drink while we sift through some of his critically acclaimed movies, shall we?


It's pretty easy to find both democrats and republicans that will say our nation's health care system needs to be fixed.  The picture of health and self preservation that is Michael Moore decided to take on this very subject for one of his films.  

And while he did actually raise some very good points, he also lies like a cat on a rug.

Cat Michael Moore says :  
"Please hand me my ironic baseball cap.  It fell where my eyes are looking."

A few of his claims (that ended up being false)

-Canadian health care does not have a problem with incredibly long wait times (they do).

-Government subsidized health care in England is working (it's not).

-Only in the U.S are patients denied health coverage due to lack of funds (It seems to happen quite a bit in Belgium, too.)

One of the most famous scenes in the movie, however, is when Moore takes ailing 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba for desperately needed medical care. The workers are treated by an amazing looking health care system that is said to be available to the entire country's populace.

The problem is, none of what was shown is available for a majority of Cuban citizens. Many people from that country (including those that work in the medical profession) say that what Moore shows is completely false. Those facilities and the excellent care is reserved for only for the incredibly wealthy and tourists.

The rest of Cuba's citizens receive health care in far worse conditions...or not at all. Wanna see some disturbing/sad film of Cuban hospitals, Cubans speaking out over the films false portrayal of their health care system, and Michael Moore getting backed into a corner during an interview?

Go get 'em, Jon Stossel, you anti-hero of journalism!

If anyone can find the follow up interview that Michael Moore wanted to do, please point it out, because it still eludes me (and it probably never happened).

Jon Stossel can be often times be a huge jerk that makes me want to pull my hair out, but I he really nailed it on this one.

Even when we disagree, his moustache 
often wins the argument by default

Bowling for Columbine

In 1999, The Columbine Massacre took the lives of 14 Columbine High School students (including the shooters) and 1 teacher, injured many more, and sparked some very serious debate about gun control laws in the United States.

The title of the movie comes from a story about the two shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, going bowling 5 hours before they went on their shooting rampage. That story turned out to be untrue.

In one of the more famous scenes from the film, Moore walks into a bank, opens an account, and comes out holding his very own "boomstick." Even more shocking is that the bank he went to (the North Country Bank in Traverse City, Michigan) allegedly kept hundreds of guns on its premises.

This would all be pretty shocking and cause for great concern except that it's actually not at all how the transaction normally works.  

In this clip from the film Michael Moore Hates America, the employees at the bank explain how things really went down. They also shed some light on the manipulative editing and identifying tactics that were used in their segment from Moore's finished film.

So basically, the guns are kept in a vault hundreds of miles away (not at the bank) and are shipped either to the bank or a licensed gun dealer. There is also a multi-day waiting period after all official forms are filled out and the deposit is made.

The producers asked the bank to forgo the waiting period. The segment was then shot to make it look as though it was what happened for every customer that walked into the bank.

It's still a little odd/disturbing that guns are given as a reward for opening up a account at a bank, but the firearms free-for-all that was implied to be taken place at a supposedly secure location was nothing more than a behind the scenes invention by Moore and his film crew.

You're only in danger if they get the bank manager

Capitalism: A Love Story

SPOILER ALERT:  Michael Moore rails against capitalism in this one.  

But you know what?  Even as someone who supports the free market economy, I have to admit that he makes some really great points.

It's just that it's very hard for me to wrap my head around him saying that "capitalism is evil," especially when his net worth is over $50 million dollars.

It was also completely baffled when Moore claimed that "capitalism did nothing for me."  Don't believe me? Take a look:

Yeah, that last one made my head hurt. Why don't we all take a break for a few seconds while I gather my strength for the last and biggest target of Moore's films.

In the meantime, go "do nothing" for Michael Moore!
Buy Capitalism: A Love Story, available on amazon.com now!

Fahrenheit 9/11

There is a huge list of lies and half truths for this movie, but let's highlight a few of the big ones.

During the film, Michael Moore claims that in 2003, President Bush proposed cutting military pay by 33%, which would be which would be quite an awful thing to do (especially at the beginning of a war).  

But the alleged "pay cut" was actually the expiring of a retroactive increase of 'imminent danger pay' by $75 per month and a $150 increase of 'family separation allowance' (for service personnel stationed where their families can't join them). If those were allowed to expire, it would have cut about 18% off  of the lowest ranked, lowest paid 1 year enlisted personnel in 2004 (and much less for others who were enlisted).

But letting those pay increases expire still looks like a cut from a soldier and his/her family's perspective despite Michael Moore greatly exaggerating and twisting the statistics.  An 18% or less pay reduction may be less than 33%, but it still wasn't right and it needed to be reversed.

Fortunately, the proposed pay expiration/cuts by the PENTAGON (not Bush) were not approved. In fact, the President instead proposed a 3.7% pay increase for 2004  that Congress in fact did approve.

It was that, or Congress drew straws for who had to go out into the 
desert and tell these guys that they make too much money.

The news about the the bonus payouts not expiring came out on August 15, 2003. The news about the military pay raises came out on December 8, 2003.  

Fahrenheit 9/11 premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on May 17, 2004. Shockingly, Michael Moore did not include either of these aforementioned facts in his film. This was most certainly an inadvertent oversight and not an intentional. blatant, and deceitful omission.


But Moore was not doing using the brave men and women of our military as a prop for his exaggerated charges. During the portion of the film the claims/omissions about solider pay are are being made, the movie cuts to a scene of soldiers that are recovering from the loss of multiple limbs.  

It's gut wrenching to watch, especially when the camera settles in on a veteran named Peter Damon.

Michael Moore actually never visited the hospital in this portion of the film; he obtained the footage from Dateline NBC. He may have asked Dateline NBC for the footage, but talking to the people that were filmed was another matter.

Peter Damon was also not happy at all about being used in the film for dramatic effect and to support views that he didn't believe in himself.

After seeing how he was used for Moore's film (without his consent or even a request), Damon filed a lawsuit against the filmmaker for defamation. Unfortunately for Peter, Michael Moore has plenty of money to hire good legal counsel; the lawsuit was dismissed.

And while we're on the subject of money, remember how Michael Moore said that "capitalism is evil?" He's really dedicated to that idea, claiming that he doesn't "own a single share of stock" and keeps his money in a simple savings account.

Keeping money under his mattress was causing back problems.

One of the main "evil capitalist" targets of  Fahrenheit 9/11 was Halliburton, a HUGE oil company that was once run by former Vice President, Dick Cheney.  

There are plenty of things to criticize Halliburton for, and Michael Moore goes for the jugular.

I think he makes some great points here. It does seem very suspect that this company seems to be getting all these contracts, making obscene amounts of money (often doing jobs that our troops do for much less), and continues to profit as long as the war goes on.  

Michael Moore, however, seems to be on the same side as those he is attacking. He actually owned 50 shares of Halliburton through his 'non profit' Center for Alternative Media and Culture foundation.  

He's the foundation's president; that is his signature at the bottom of the linked tax document.

He bought the stock in 1999, sold it almost a year later in 2000, and made a nice 18.7 % profit. That sure beats the heck out of the interest rate on a savings account. 

Don't hate the player, hate the game

He also owned stock in defense contractor Honeywell, an oil company named Sunoco, and many other companies (which apparently he needed some better investment advice about).

In case you think that I'm making any of this up (I'm not) or that I am a whiz with photoshop (I'm terrible), here is a link to where you can find 9 years worth of tax returns from his foundation; just type in the organization's name: 'Center for Alternative Media and Culture.'   

Any organization that classifies themselves as a non profit has to submit a 990PF, which with a little digging is easy to find public records of online.  If you still don't believe me, the Wall Street Journal agrees with my research (incriminating text highlighted), so there.

Take that, skeptics!

In the following clip, Moore claims that he doesn't have a foundation.  Unfortunately, his dress slacks do not explode into flames due to him being a liar liar with said pants on fire.

Moore continues to deny that he ever owned Halliburton stock, despite hard evidence to the contrary.

By the way, the video embedded above is from a great movie called Manufacturing Dissent.  It was made by filmmakers who initially admired Michael Moore, but began discovering some pretty unsavory things about him while they were filming. It's worth noting that these are liberal leaning film makers that Fox News basically booted off the air during an interview for criticizing President Bush and the right wing agenda.

It's probably a pretty bad sign when people start out making a documentary about how great you are only to realize that you may just be putting on a very profitable act. Hopefully, more liberals will realize that carnival barkers like Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh are cut from the same cloth. They will never care half as much about their ideals as they do about their exposure and the resulting profits.

Thanks for the cash, loooo....vely fellow disenfranchised Americans!

Note: Michael Moore FINALLY came clean recently about owning Haliburton stock. Unfortunately, he followed up his long overdue confession by lying even more. Read the full story here.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, Michael Moore decides against making another asinine documentary.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fun with the Public School System: School districts in Georgia are going nuts

Schools in my hometown of Atlanta, GA and across the metro Atlanta area seem to be losing it completely.  I know I may complain about my school district sometimes, but reading about the stuff going on in Georgia makes me glad the people running our schools seem to be operating with full mental capacity and a set of morals.

Apparently, many districts in Georgia have decided to take the Gary Busey approach to logical thinking when it comes to day to day school operations.

Computers!  Computers and Ipads for EVERYONE!


Furloughs, for those that have not experienced them, are work days that are taken off the calendar...along with their subsequent pay.  While it's nice having an extra day off, it definitely hurts to have some cheese taken out of each paycheck.

My school district decided to do as much as it could to not hurt teachers; they furloughed administrators, classified staff, and central office personnel first and for as long as they could.  

Georgia schools did pretty much the same thing, except Clayton County schools took it one insane step further.  They have instituted a retroactive furlough, which essentially means that the teachers need to pay back 1 week's worth of salary to the school district.

Once again, that is not a furlough for future earnings that will reduce their future paychecks; this is money that they had already been paid as part of their salary for the prior school year.

You may also want to put this somewhere 
that you can easily locate it.

As you can imagine, the teachers fought it in court and won...initially.  A judge later overturned the ruling, declaring it legal.

The judge then claimed that teachers could likely reclaim their pay by filing breach of contract lawsuits, which works out great; everyone loves soul/time sucking litigation and legal fees!

...and I just wanted to see your beautiful smile again.

Administrative Costs

I am always wary of people that want to work in public education, but do not want to work with kids. Fortunately, I have seen many people in these central office positions that really do want to make the schools that they work for better.

Our school district superintendent is paid a 6 figure salary, but she runs the second largest school district in the state--it's basically like being the CEO of a corporation, only along with employees, you have to deal with the needs to thousands of children and their parents.  

She also actually shows up to schools and events all over the county and interacts with teachers, principals, parents, and students.

She also makes sure that teachers are looked out for; administrators' salaries were cut to try to protect teacher salaries from budget reductions, along with the aforementioned extra furlough days that administrators took on well before anyone in a classroom did.

That's probably not all that was taken...

...and then there's what goes on in Georgia. The Dekalb County school district  is one of the lowest performing school districts in the metro Atlanta area.  

Despite having such poor results, in 2010 the district had more employees (an overwhelming majority of them administrators and central office staff) making over $100,00 a year than in any other school district.

That same year, Dekalb County Schools decided to give a $15,000 dollar raise to their superintendent (raising his total salary that year to $255,00) and advertised an opening for a $163,900 salaried administrator position.  

All this was being done while the district was proposing to cut teachers' pay and school programs to balance the budget.

Associate Superintendent Scrooge McDuck then proceeded to make it rain

Perhaps the most outrageous example out of all this is the Atlanta Public Schools, which is one of the smallest school districts in the metro area.

In Georgia, a school district's central office takes up an average of 5% of the budget (6% in the metro Atlanta area). The Atlanta Public School's central office took up 10% of the budget in 2010.

Beverly Hall, the district's superintendent, pulled in a whopping $344,331 in 2010 and over $580,000 in bonuses from 1999-2009.

What did she get all that bonus money for?  It was for all the great work she did making Atlanta Public Schools' test scores jump dramatically during her tenure and being named the 2009 National Superintendent of the Year!

...except for the fact that she presided over the largest teacher and principal cheating/test score altering scandal in history.


Cheating on tests by the teachers and administrators

There is an entire blog entry (or series of blogs) that I could write regarding my feelings on standardized testing, but that's another matter.  Whether we like it or not, standardized tests are what we used to track and assess student achievement and how much federal funding you receive or get taken away.

Basically, you have a system where the schools that do poorly are punished with sanctions, stripped of funding, and people lose their jobs.  Schools that do well receive increased funding and program opportunities.

Pretty much like this, only even more depressing.

Whenever we prepare to administer our state standardized test, the entire staff at my school (and from what I hear, every school in the district), is drilled repeatedly on proper testing procedures and ethics.  We are told that any deviation from the assigned testing format and environment is a serious offense.

We are warned that even the hint of any of us helping students with questions or changing test answers will result in the loss of our job, possible jail time, and shame throughout the state.

Also, this sits on the podium the entire 
time without mention; but we all know it's there...

In Atlanta Public Schools, teachers were told and sometimes threatened to change student test scores.

Whistle blowers that tried to report what was going on were harassed into silence or were fired.

At Fain Elementary, a teacher was forced to crawl under a desk during a faculty meeting as punishment for having poor class test scores.

  Do I still get to play on the faculty basketball team?

After an inquiry by the Atlanta Journal and Constitution was validated by an official investigation, things began to unravel.

It was discovered that 44 our of 56 schools that were investigated had actively cheated to alter student test scores.

178 teachers were told to resign or be fired.

4 top level administrators and 2 principals were fired (after being put on paid leave).

Battle lines began being drawn; a principal at one school allegedly told teachers that if any of them spoke ill of her to investigators, she would "sue them out the ass."   Many teachers felt they had no choice but to cheat, or end up like the aforementioned whistle blowers; unemployed and with a black mark on their record

During all this, Beverly Hall...was out the door.  She had already planned to resign in June; right before everything hit the fan.

                                                                        curtis compton, ajc.com
Peace out, suckas!

Beverly Hall claimed to have no knowledge of any cheating going on in her school district, despite ignoring or dismissing multiple reports of it happening from employees within her district.  She was described by multiple employees as aloof and unapproachable, waving off repeated warnings of corruption throughout the district.

She was kind enough, however, to post an apology for not knowing anything at all about the scandal and having nothing to do with the implementation of altered test scores...on her facebook page.

...along with a request to be her neighbor in Farmville.

Perhaps the most ironic part of her "apology" came when she dared to mention accountability:

"I do not apologize for the reforms my staff and I implemented during my tenure as superintendent. The public has a right to hold educators — and administrators — accountable if they fail to teach children what they need to learn."

To date, Beverly Hall has not payed back the $580,000 in bonuses she received for fraudulent test score gains and shows no signs of being inclined to do so.

At least Beverly Hall is out as superintendent and the violations under her watch have come to light, but a lot of questions remain.  If this type of thing can go unchecked for nearly a decade, and the person presiding over it is getting national awards and huge bonus payouts, how many other places is this occurring?

And as far as holding Beverly Hall accountable, it looks like legally, she will get to keep her bonus pay unless more evidence comes to light; and even then, it may be a battle in which the legal fees would outweigh the rewards of litigation.

For now, I guess we just have to express our disdain and disappointment on her facebook page.

Facebook, I think the time has come.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Terrifying Moments in Children's Television: Family Matters

 (photo @ boxofficeboredom)

Family Matters was a popular Friday Night sitcom  that aired during the 1990's (and was actually a spinoff of the show 'Perfect Strangers').  It revolved around the Chicago based Winslow family, their daily trials and tribulations, and nerdy/zany neighbor, Steve Urkel.  Urkel was a socially awkward yet impossibly brilliant nerd that constantly invaded the privacy of the Winslow household, pined after Laura Winslow, and tormented the Winslow family patriarch, Carl.

During one episode, Steve decided to make a ventriloquist doll and try out his comedy act.  Oh yeah, and the doll looked exactly like him.

The family reacted the way most of us would; with sheer terror and revulsion.

Urkel goes to bed that night, still upset that his ventriloquist act may never be good enough to take on the road (a common burden for all us).  As he sleeps (with his window open during a storm), lightning strikes the wooden doll.  Instead of igniting into flames and burning the entire family alive, the puppet comes to life and promptly begins tormenting Urkel.

As most of us would probably do, Urkel loses it and runs up to his room (yes, the Winslows gave Urkel a room in their house).  As he barricades himself in, the evil puppet climbs in through the window.  He then proves his sentient abilities to his human doppelganger with more threatening, demonic sounding dialogue and Latin dancing.

Urkel tries to reason with what is clearly a demon possessed entity, only to discover that it doesn't want to kill him...it just wants to kill the Winslow family.  The puppet also decides to name itself 'Stevil.'

Urkel attempts to contain Stevil by locking him inside of a trunk, which only pisses him off further.  He escapes and promptly kills Eddie Winslow by dragging him up the chimney (not nearly has cool as it sounds or I would have linked a video).  Afterwards, he proceeds to run down small children while driving Urkel's smart car.

Corn ethanol/children's blood hybrid

He then somehow dismembers Laura Winslow into three separate pieces, but keeps her alive and places her in the kitchen cabinets.  Carl Winslow is made into a human puppet that Stevil controls to further torment and taunt Urkel.

Perhaps the most terrifying visual, however, is what he does to the family matriarch, Harriet Winslow.  She is beheaded, kept alive, and placed into a jack-in-the-box contraption that would have made the Jigsaw Killer from the 'Saw' movies nod in approval.  Combine that with 1990's green screen technology and you get something that looks like this:

Urkel eventually attacks Stevil and rips him apart, only to have him come back together and attempt to choke him to death.  As you most likely predicted, Urkel wakes up to discover that all this was a horrible nightmare...until the next time Stevil shows up.  This time, he emerges from a toilet within the Winslow household.

Ready to jump the shark again, kids?

Urkel wakes up and realizes it was once again a terrible dream.  He tries to tell Carl about his nightmares, but Carl tells him to grow up and leave him alone (which was basically how all of their conversations ended).

Later, Carl finds a random box that has been delivered to his living room.  Inside is a ventriloquist doll that looks exactly like him.  Instead of being utterly shocked and terrified (and wondering who the heck the billing slip was), he promptly takes the creepy doll out of the box and begins playing with it.

You can probably see where this is going...

I was in the first two Die Hard movies; now it's come to this...

Urkel tries to warn Carl that his soul will soon be burned in the fires of hell, but to no avail.  Stevil busts down the front door, walks in, and gives life to the new ventriloquist puppet, which promptly decides to names himself.....'Carlsbad.' (You have no idea how much it hurt to write that).

Stevil and Carlsbad then demand that Carl and Urkel give over their souls.  They also decide to have a dance off, because why not...

Stevil and Carlsbad then proceed to chase the terrified duo around the house and corner Carl.  Just when it seems that Carl may escape, he realizes that Stevil has stolen Urkel's soul and inhabited his body.  Stevil then shoots green CGI lightning at Carl and rips his soul from his eyes.

Just like all those people that saw you in 'Turner and Hooch'!

Carl wakes up to realize it was all a dream.  He and Urkel realize that they have learned a couple of very valuable lessons:  Carl should have listened to Urkel about his bad dreams, and the writers/producers of Family Matters loved watching little people dance.