Monday, January 20, 2014

Censorship Sucks. Just sayin'.

In most aspects I'm a conservative. I support our military and am a veteran myself. I support free-market capitalism and small government. I support lower taxes and less red-tape regulation. I support gun ownership. I'm pretty pro-life. I support immigration control and strong borders. I support the death penalty. I believe in the Constitution and the rights afforded by it, especially Freedom of Speech.

And herein lies the rub.

In some regards I'm a tad more liberally-minded, but I am most assuredly NOT a Liberal. I'm not a religious person and as such I'm pretty open to a few things that most Libs may embrace while many Conservatives don't.

Take porn, for example. I don't have a problem with most of it so long as it doesn't involve anything illegal, or involve kids and livestock, and so long as it's kept away from kids too young to process human sexuality in a mature fashion. I'm okay with gays & gay marriage. I admittedly cuss like the proverbial sailor despite my erudite command of the English language. As such, I'm also not offended by swearing on television. No, what offends me on television is stuff that insults the intelligence, like Jersey Shore or MSNBC or Piers Morgan or that show Neighbors. Actually, truth be told, not much on television truly offends me at all because if I don't like it, I DON'T WATCH IT.

You see, the TV (and the radio) comes with two buttons (in my day they were knobs) and one of them changes the channel and the other one turns the unit OFF. No one, and I mean NO ONE, is standing there with a gun to your head under threat of blowing your cerebral cortex all over your La-Z-Boy recliner if you don't watch a show. And this is where I have a problem with censorship and a bullshit governmental agency called the FCC.

The FCC reports to NO ONE. It is an independent governmental agency formed by Congress under the Communications Act of 1934 to replace the radio regulation functions of the Federal Radio Commission. The FCC is funded entirely by regulatory fees scalped from broadcast entities. Yes, they force you to pay fees to have some wonk tell you what you can & can't do. It has an estimated budget of nearly $360 million pulled in from those entities. It has 1,898 federal employees. Until recently the agency was headed by the daughter of Representative Jim "Racecard" Clyburn (D-SC), because the current agency dearly loves nepotism. But I digress. She is still on board as one of the agency's commissioners.

Nowhere in the FCC's mission, as noted above and copied verbatim from the FCC's Wiki entry, does it say the agency is there to enforce public decency laws or fine people for perceived indecencies. And yet, the FCC does just that. In fact, one of their cases went to the  Supreme Court of the United States, the case of FCC v. Pacifica Corporation, by where the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision on “indecent” material as it applied to broadcasting. In 1973, a father complained to the FCC that his son had heard the George Carlin “Seven Dirty Words” routine broadcast one afternoon over WBAI, a Pacifica Foundation FM radio station in New York City. Pacifica received a sanction from the FCC, in the form of a letter of reprimand, for allegedly violating FCC regulations which prohibited broadcasting "indecent" material. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the FCC action in 1978, by a vote of 5 to 4, ruling that the routine was "indecent but not obscene". The Court accepted as compelling the government's interests in 1) shielding children from patently offensive material, and 2) ensuring that unwanted speech does not enter one's home. The Court stated that the FCC had the authority to prohibit such broadcasts during hours when children were likely to be among the audience, and gave the FCC broad leeway to determine what constituted indecency in different contexts.

Like I said above, I look at it this way: the radio has two knobs; one turns the station and the other turns it off. Be a proactive parent and keep your kid from listening, instead of letting the government babysit your kid. The original complainant, John Douglas, was driving in the car with his son and heard the broadcast and complained to the FCC because he was unhappy his son had heard it. If you found it offensive, dummy, why’d you keep listening? That’s like keeping your hand in boiling water after you feel pain, and then calling the government to say the water was hot instead of removing your hand.

Why do I bring all of this up? Because here we are in 2014 and people are still getting butt-hurt over adult language and adult-oriented humor on non-cable television. Specifically, a few people have bitched to the FCC over a show that I actually do watch and enjoy, the CBS sitcom "2 Broke Girls". The show airs on a broadcast network between the hours of 6am and 10pm, where FCC rules prohibit profane speech, and the whinier and more easily butthurt among the masses have contacted the FCC's website with complaints.

Yes, the show is edgy, especially for traditionally lame broadcast TV. It makes a lot of sexual innuendos and drug-related jokes, and I think what makes it funny is that it comes from a pair of young women instead of a crew of men. I've watched the show since the first episode and continue to watch it. It's actually one of the few non-cable shows I watch weekly. In fact, I only watch four shows on the CBS network at all: Undercover Boss, the original CSI in Vegas, 2 Broke Girls, and the new show Mom, which is just as outrageous as 2 Broke Girls in its content, also starring two women coincidentally.

The sniveling is insipid at best.

“I feel this is soft porn. No wonder our country is in the condition it is when shows like this are on the air,” stated one complaint. Another noted that they were “shocked to hear the term ‘b*tch’ used twice and so loosely in a prime-time show where children could be watching.”

Well, then maybe you should BE A PARENT and change the channel and control what your kid is watching. If the kid is watching the show, it either means YOU are watching it live when you could DVR it and watch it after little Billy's bed time, or you threw a TV in your kids' room as a babysitter so you wouldn't have to proactively parent your kid and you aren't monitoring the kid's viewing. I know; it's easier to blame everyone else than to take responsibility, right? And have you ever actually seen soft porn? Or hard porn for that matter? Both require some nudity and words slightly worse than bitch.

“I am really disturbed by what I am seeing on national television. I tolerated it enough when it was on cable due to the fact that I chose to purchase cable… But now public television is riddled with sexual overtones and inappropriate material for children,” wrote another viewer. “I am asking that the FCC do their job and remove these types of television shows from our public broadcasting systems. I have served my country with honor and am proud to say that I am an American, but when we continuously allow these types of shows to air I am rather embarrassed and ashamed of us as a country.”

Seriously? At least you're smart enough to realize you pay for cable as a choice and you can stop having it at any time. You're embarrassed and ashamed of us as a country? Then if you're a vet as you imply you should be well aware of the First Amendment that was part of the Constitution we swore an oath to defend. Be embarrassed that we're 17 trillion in debt and our government is spying on us and leaving people to die while taking away your rights one by one.

According to reports, nearly 100 viewers have filed informal complaints to federal regulators about the show’s content, citing the many crude sexual epithets uttered by the characters. Almost a whole hundred out of a country of 314 million, not including all the illegals. More people than that are against Obamacare and were still stuck with that goat-screw.

"’2 Broke Girls’ is proof each week that no one at the FCC cares what is going on regarding broadcast TV. If they did, they’d put the show in a more appropriate time slot, like 3am,” Dan Gainor, VP of Business and Culture at the Media Research Center (MRC) told FOX411. “It’s a non-stop bad sex joke. In one recent episode, I counted at least 14 different sex jokes, three of them mentioning ‘vagina.’ The only thing the show is missing is nudity and a stripper pole.”

Sorry, pal. 3AM is when we get nothing but informercials for penis enlargement and erectile dysfunction and a repeat of yesterday's Kathy Lee & Hoda sugar-frosted crapfest. So, are we to infer that you watch it so often that you now count the jokes & references? If it's that offensive why torture yourself, unless you want to regale the world with your martyrdom? And you're offended by the word "vagina"? No one said "pussy" or "cunt" or "snatch" or any vulgarity concerning female genitalia, but instead the proper medical term was used, and you're offended by it? Are you the type of adult who still calls it a "hoo-hah" or call a penis a "pee-pee"?

“Many TV shows today leave little to the imagination,” observed Matthew Vadum of the Capital Research Center. “’2 Broke Girls’ seems inappropriate for prime time.”

Not everyone agrees.

"CBS has no obligation to only create child-friendly programming so your kids aren’t subjected to sexual suggestion, especially at night – and the FCC isn’t here to raise your kids," said L.A-based pop culture expert Jenn Hoffman. "Ironically, the same values-obsessed people who want the FCC to swoop with an iron first and regulate our airwaves are often the same people who want the Federal government to leave their speech, guns, health care and  churches alone. At some point you have to choose what type of country you want to live in and stick with it."

Amen, sister. Some of my fellow conservatives have a stick jammed so far up their asses they look like scarecrows, complete with missing brain. They complain about the Left's war on Christian values and the Constitution and their intolerance of differing viewpoints all the while forgetting the first Amendment in a rather intolerant manner themselves.

Again, no one is holding a gun to anyone's head and forcing you to watch shows that you don't find to your likings. A month ago you bitched when they lashed out at Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty because he doesn't approve of gays and now you want to censor a show that you don't approve of? A month ago you bitched about freedom of speech and how the left only approved of it when it swung their way, and now you want it to swing your way? This is America and it needs to swing both ways, for everyone, and both sides need to realize that if you're against gay weddings don't have one, if you're against a TV show don't watch it, and if you don't like a song don't listen to it, and if you have kids, PARENT THEM.

A month ago I was bashing the Left for going batshit cray-cray over free speech they didn't like, and this month I'm bashing the Right, or at least possibly the Right, for the same thing. I'm fair. A bastard, but I'm fair.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Football Tough? Try being HOCKEY TOUGH.

Recently I got into a friendly debate with a fellow over how I felt that hockey was a tougher sport than football and that hockey never gets the respect that it deserves. The sports talk shows give 80% of their time, 365 days a year, to football, split about 75/25 between pro and college ball. The remaining 20% is mostly taken up by basketball and baseball, and NASCAR and golf and even soccer. Hockey always gets the short end of the stick. In fact, ESPN radio hosts like Colin Cowherd will talk about anything BUT hockey. I've suffered through a show after the Super Bowl was over and football was done for the year where the topics ran from high school football kids signing with colleges to the best  draft picks to the Hall of Fame to fantasy football crap to the combines to Wonderlic scores and why a defensive tackle doesn't have to be smart like a quarterback but a center does, but not a mention of hockey because he doesn't think hockey is a sport. Well, screw him. ESPN thinks the Scripps Spelling Bee should get air time as a sport, and every July 4th shows people gorging on hot dogs. They used to show poker for piss sakes. People playing cards...

Everyone talks about the non-stop pounding action of football. To which I say, bullshit.

Ostensibly, both games are 60 minutes. A football game is broken up into 15-minute quarters and a hockey game is broken up into three 20-minute periods. Each game is played for one hour in theory, overtime notwithstanding. However in football there are times when the clock is running in between plays, while in hockey the clock stops running once play is stopped. A Wall Street Journal article I saw once said that the average football game has an average of 11 minutes played in each game. Eleven actual minutes of play. That is from whistle-to-whistle actual play. Hockey has 60 minutes of play in each game. Actual play. That, friends, is whistle-to-whistle action.

According to that same article the average football play lasts four seconds, with a maximum of 40 seconds after each play to start a new one. That means 40 seconds of non-play inactivity of guys getting on and off the field, huddling, and getting lined up, often with the clock still running. The Journal of Applied Physics claims that the average amount of continuous play in hockey is about about 40 seconds (39.7 seconds, to be exact). As in both cases, plays can be longer or shorter than those times; that is just an average. In hockey, the clock isn't still running if the puck is not in play.

In football the ball is given to each team, without fail, after every score. In hockey the puck is never given to a team; there's a face-off and each team must battle for every second they have the puck. After an interception in football, a team is guaranteed the ball and therefore an opportunity to score. A turnover in hockey guarantees nothing, and the intercepting team must fight to retain possession.

There are stretches of hockey that can go on and on. Breakaways up and down the ice are often highlighted by intense scoring opportunities or incredible saves by the goaltender. I've seen many runs in hockey where lines have changed three or four times between whistles.

On the opposite end, football is categorized as one 4-second play after another and each pass or run is often followed by the referee announcing another "flag on the play".

For 11 minutes of football, each team receives a maximum of eight time outs, including the stoppage at the two-minute warning. Meanwhile in hockey, each team receives one timeout per game. Most games I've seen, the timeout is never even used.

Let's see football players, or basketball players, or baseball players make a save, on ice, against a frozen rubber missile going a hundred miles an hour, while doing the splits, said no one ever.

Games shouldn't end end in a tie, and both sports have an overtime period in the case of a tie at the end of regulation. After all, you're competing and playing to win, and in a tie no one has won. Both sports' OT's are sudden death, meaning the first team to score wins. In hockey there is a faceoff and each team must earn possession of the puck to score a goal. In football the ball is given to one of the teams, and they can score in the overtime without the other team getting a chance to score, unless they stop their opponents advances or gain possession of the ball via fumble or interception. BUT...The NFL only allows one sudden death overtime period for regular season games. If neither teams scores by the end of that overtime period, it is officially a tie. The postseason is still the only time a game keeps going until there's a winner, even if it takes multiple OTs. In the playoffs, overtime is still sudden death, but the game would continue until one of the teams scored.

In hockey, a tie game after overtime is settled with a shootout, except in the playoffs, where you play in OT periods until someone scores. I've seen playoff games go the equivalent of seven periods.

Both sports have players protected by pads and helmets. Football players have a cage in front of their faces to protect against hitting the grass or being hit with an air-filled leather bag. Hockey players have an optional visor that covers half their face from impacts with hard ice, hard boards, sticks to the face, or being hit with a frozen disc of vulcanized rubber...and in some cases fists.

Yeah, the fights. Fighting is allowed in hockey and despite its reputation as a bloodthirsty gladiatorial duel between teams of toughened beasts, football doesn't allow it. You may see an occasional post-play scrum or shoving match but not a bout of fisticuffs like in hockey. I'm not going to debate the pros and cons of fighting in hockey; that's for another article to be written later. Just accept that it is part of the game.

Hard hits? In football, bodies collide often running full speed. I accept that. However, in hockey there are open-ice hits body to body (some amazingly brutal) but the majority of hits involve a player being crashed against wooden boards and plexiglass. In football you don't run the risk of being hit with a stick or sliced by a razor-sharp skate. We're talking hard hitting, blazing speed, and the ultimate in agility...all while on ice skates. Sure, most people can run, jump, sprint, and dash along a field, but the rare few who can skate and do it as well as a hockey player are few and far between. The ability to fake out defenders and fly past the opposition is a highlight in any sport, but when it's done on two thin blades, the feat becomes magical. Simply, the ability to skate and move and shoot and hit and fight along a sheet of ice with comfortable ease makes hockey an athletically superior sport before considering any other aspect of the game. Add in the physicality of those hard hits and once again, hockey wins. Even ESPN has said that hockey hits are 17% harder than football hits.

Numbers don't lie.

Tough? Try Clint Malarchuk.  On March 22, 1989, Steve Tuttle of the St.Louis Blues collided with Buffalo’s Uwe Krupp in front of the goal net, and Tuttle’s skate caught Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk on the neck, severing his right external jugular vein. With a huge pool of blood collecting on the ice, Malarchuk somehow left the ice under his own power with the assistance of his team's athletic trainer, Jim Pizzutelli. Many spectators were physically sickened by the sight, with nine fainting and two suffering heart attacks, while three teammates vomited on the ice. Malarchuk was getting himself off the ice but he later revealed he had no intention of reaching the team doctor.
Clint Malarchuk's nasty famous moment

Malarchuk claimed that he was only trying to get off the ice and away from the TV cameras as quickly as possible because he knew that his mother was watching the game on TV, and he didn’t want her to see him die. He was so convinced he was about to die he told an equipment manager to call his mother and tell her that he loved her, and then asked for a priest. Instead of a priest, Malarchuk got quick-working medical staff, who were able to halt the bleeding and stabilize him for transport to a local hospital. Malarchuk's life was saved by Pizzutelli, a former army medic who had served in Vietnam. He reached into Malarchuk's neck and pinched off the bleeding, not letting go until doctors arrived to begin suturing the wound. Three-hundred stitches later, the wound was closed, and Malarchuk had survived, though quite narrowly. Had the cut occurred 1/8 of an inch higher on his carotid, doctors estimate he would have been dead in minutes. Also, had the accident happened in the second period, with Malarchuk at the opposite end of the ice from the medical room, he probably would not have made it.

While Malarchuk’s toughness surely played a role in his survival, real credit belongs to the trainers and medical staff who acted quickly to save his life. His toughness, though, came into play a surprisingly short time later. A mere four days after nearly dying on the ice, Malarchuk reported back to the Sabres for practice. A week after that, he was back between the pipes for a game against the Quebec Nordiques. “Doctors told me to take the rest of the year off,” he said. “But there’s no way…I play for keeps.”

The dude had his throat slit on national TV and was back in action in less than two weeks.

Richard Zednik of the Florida Panthers suffered a similar injury in early 2008 when his carotid artery was sliced open by the skate blade of his team mate Olli Jokinen in a freak accident during a game ironically against the Buffalo Sabres. Zednik was circling the net behind the play and skating into the corner when Jokinen was upended by Sabres forward Clarke MacArthur. Jokinen fell headfirst to the ice, and his right leg and skate flew up and struck Zednik directly on the side of the neck. Doctors said the skate blade just missed cutting the jugular vein. Zednik lost five units of blood (almost a third of the body’s total volume) and required over an hour of emergency surgery to close the wound. Zednik played another full season with Florida and two more seasons in Europe before retiring.

Richard Zednik's injury and subsequent scar.

Minor league goalie Dustin Tokarski took a skate to the throat and needed "just" 26 stitches to be back in action a couple years back. Winnipeg Jets defenseman Zach Redmond took a skate to the thigh during a practice last season. Just a couple weeks ago Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers to a skate to the abdomen after colliding with Dainius Zubrus of the New Jersey Devils, and not only continued to play, he scored the game winner in overtime.
Tokarski's neck wound

Redmond's thigh

Schenn gets his cut from Zubrus

It's not always skate cuts. Paul Kariya, whom I went to University of Maine at the same time with,  took a nasty hit from Scott Stevens during Game 6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup finals between the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and the New Jersey Devils. During the second period, Stevens caught Kariya watching his pass in the neutral zone and put the biggest hit of the series on the Mighty Duck’s star forward, laying him out flat on his back. As the whistles blew and the referees maintained order, Kariya laid motionless on the ice. After several seconds, Kariya’s eyes popped open and his face shield fogged over as he suddenly gasped and regained consciousness. Eventually, he was helped off the ice and into the locker room, and there was little doubt that the Ducks would have to continue without their captain. Because of Kariya’s past troubles with concussions, and because of the severity of the hit, many feared he would be out for the remainder of the series if it went to a seventh game. Not so.

As it turned out, Kariya would not miss Game 7. In fact, he only ended up missing 11 minutes of Game 6. To the shock of everyone, including Stevens, Kariya returned to the ice to continue play only 11 minutes after being knocked out cold. But he wasn’t done there. With the crowd roaring, Kariya took the puck into the offensive zone and fired a shot from the faceoff circle past Devils’ goaltender Martin Brodeur to help the Mighty Ducks to victory and force a Game 7.
Kariya out cold.
They complain that the football season is too long, too many games, guys can get hurt,  boo hoo hoo.... suck it up, buttercup. An NHL season and an NFL season are vastly different. An NHL season is comprised of 82 games from October through April, roughly 26 weeks (28 weeks if it is an Olympic year like this one is), not including the average of 8 preseason games in 16 days  (Toronto had nine in 12 days). An NFL season contains a four games over four weeks preseason and each team playing once a week for 16 games beginning in August and ending in January for a total of 17 weeks because each team has a staggered bye week where they don't play. That means an NFL team plays one game per week, while an NHL team averages a little over three games a week. In numbers: NFL team has 11 minutes of actual playing per week and an NHL team has three hours of actual play a week.

If you want to win the Stanley Cup in hockey you must win four seven-game series. That means you must play a minimum of 16 games, assuming you don't lose once throughout the entire playoffs (a feat that is extremely rare and unlikely). Football also uses the four-round system, though each round consists of one game.

That means to win the Super Bowl and football's Vince Lombardi Trophy a team must play and win four games. That is 25 percent of the minimum amount of games a hockey team must win to be crowned champions. Numerically that breaks down as follows (from the averages listed above: To win the Superbowl a team must be the better team through 44 minutes of play. To win the Stanley Cup a team must be the better team through a minimum of 16 hours of play. Numbers don't lie. A team can win the Super Bowl playing as few as 19 meaningful games.

Bruins fans will remember that Nathan Horton battled through the 2011 playoffs with a seriously separated shoulder before he was knocked out of the Stanley Cup Final with a concussion. As much as I dislike him, Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby played the final two weeks of the 06-07 season and and entire playoff run until elimination with a broken foot. Crosby also came back last season from a broken jaw. In last year's Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Finals, Boston Bruins center Gregory Campbell laid out to block a slap shot from Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin in the second period of Game 3 during a penalty kill. Campbell broke his right fibula, and still finished his shift, skating for almost a further minute before leaving the ice.

In the 2000 Stanley Cup finals, Game 6 had two more toughness lessons. Darryl Sydor of the Dallas Stars missed a hit on Scott Gomez of the Devils and crashed into the boards, badly injuring his leg.  He attempted to get up, but quickly collapsed to the ice, unable to put any weight on his leg. But Sydor wasn’t about to be stopped. While play continued around him, Sydor determined he was useless lying off to the side, so he used his arms and his one good leg to drag his body through other players towards the front of the net in an attempt to block shots.

Now, you would expect most players hurt in such a way would try their best to stay out of harm’s way and protect themselves until the whistle finally blew. But this was the Stanley Cup finals, and Sydor’s team was facing elimination. So, to the amazement of those watching, Sydor ignored the pain, dismissed the risk of further injury, and purposefully dragged himself into the most dangerous part of the ice, solely in the hopes that he might get in the way of a 100 mph slap-shot and help his team. The game, and subsequently the series, however was decided  by an overtime goal in Game 6 by New Jersey’s Jason Arnott, who just two games earlier had suffered a concussion and had four teeth knocked out of his jaw.

Hockey Tough. Yeah, I went there.

Deryk Engelland played for my local ECHL team, the South Carolina Stingrays, as a rookie. Another former Stingray, Nate "Big Nasty" Kiser, is currently an MMA fighter.

And don't give me any song and dance about football toughness and playing in the cold and snow. Half the NHL teams play in pretty domes where it's 75 degrees and no weather, or in cities with minimal winter weather at all. Even though an ice rink for the NHL is inside, it's still cold enough to support ice. You do realize hockey is played on a sheet of ice, right? That the puck is frozen rubber, right? That most kids learn to play on outdoor rinks, right? That the NHL regularly plays a few outdoor games every year, right? And when they do, they sell out football stadiums to do it. And baseball stadiums. Tough athletes, tough fans.

And lastly...I don't see the NCAA or any pro football leagues with female players. The pundits will say that's because it's too tough but the truth is that it's too sexist. Hockey, however, has tough chicks who play college hockey and Olympic hockey. And while the first female athlete tried out for the NFL last year and had her bid cut short by injury, more than 20 years ago the NHL gave a woman a chance to play, a goalie named Manon Rheaume.  In 1992 she tried out for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and was signed as a free agent. This was the first time a woman tried out for an NHL team or signed a pro-level hockey league contract. She played one period in an exhibition game against the St. Louis Blues, allowing two goals and stopping seven of nine shots faced, and played in another exhibition game against the Boston Bruins in 1993.