1. The Biggest Losers
I read this long but informative piece in The Atlantic last night (thanks for the heads up, Jeff McGregor) about ISIS. A couple thoughts:
–It all comes down to Freedom versus Blind Obedience. For me, the choice is obvious –but that’s because I have the freedom to choose.
–ISIS are losers. Human progress, in technology, in art, in most everything, has passed them by. And so they cling to doctrine passed down to them from The Prophet who walked the earth more than 1,400 years ago. They still talk about ruling the world as if the edge of the earth is Istanbul.
As Uncle Ruslan once said of his marathon-bombing nephews, as to what was behind their actions: “Being losers. Not being able to settle themselves, and thereby just hating everyone who did.”
That’s ISIS, as succinctly as it can be put.
–The author, Graeme Wood, makes the argument that if America sends troops and crushes them, it may run into the same problem that created ISIS. That is, what fills the void when we leave the area as we did after Iraq? Answer: I don’t know, but could it be any more malevolent and nihilistic than this group of butchers?
It all reminds me of a little speech that Matt Damon gave in Syriana, a movie that takes its name from a fictitious Middle Eastern nation that might as well be ISIS’ caliphate state.
“Why ISIS is Our Problem”, by Steve Coll, in The New Yorker
“Why ISIS’ Atrocities Will Destroy It,” by William Saletan, in Slate
“How ISIS Can Be Defeated,” by Max Boot, in Newsweek
“How ISIS Works,” by The New York Times staff
2. The Beagle Has Landed
Miss P., a four year-old Beagle, won Best In Show at the Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden. But, really, every pet that has an owner who treats them well is a winner. Awwwwwwwwww…..
3. Clash of the Titans
The world’s greatest annual soccer tournament, the UEFA Champions League, returned in earnest yesterday. Though it began months earlier as a 32-team tourney in which eight sets of four-team groups play home-and-home round-robin ties (games), i.e. the Group Stage, it truly begins now. This is Knockout Round time, as 16 teams remain and sides play home-and-home games. If they are tied after two games, it is decided first by aggregate goals (who scored the most) and if still tied, by who scored the most away goals.
Two reasons Champions League rules: 1) Some of the world’s best players (e.g., Gareth Bale of Wales) don’t play in the World Cup because their nations do not qualify and 2) these teams play together year-round, whereas World Cup national teams are more akin to All-Star sides that have not built up the same chemistry.
Yesterday, two of the tournament favorites, Chelsea and Bayern Munich, could muster no better than draws at Paris-St. Germain and Shakhtar Donetsk, respectively. Today the defending champion and overall favorite, Real Madrid (which features both Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo) travel to Germany to meet Schalke 04. Also, FC Porto of Portugal visits FC Basel of Switzerland in a tie between sleeper clubs.
4. What Else Can He Be? All Apologies
Can someone get this man some lined loose leaf paper, please?
Also, a copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray?
A-Rod, thanks for the mea culpa….on the same day that Anthony Bosch, your enabler, signs a four-year deal with a federal prison with no opt-out clause. Please show yourself to the “Disgraced Icons” corner along with Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods. Thank you.
The truly gifted J.R. Moehringer (Saguaro High School, representing’!) of The Tender Bar fame has profiled A-Rod for ESPN. He did the Derek Jeter send-off.
5. Baseball, Golf and Now…Cross Country
You gotta admit, Kevin Costner has appeal, particularly in sports films (I still like him best in Fandango, but he was terrific in Tin Cup and The Upside of Anger, too). This weekend he opens in a Disney flick, based on a true story from the 1980s and set in the real San Joaquin Valley (Calif.) town of McFarland. In McFarland, USA Costner plays the white coach named White (Jim) who then goes all Hoosiers with a Latino cross-country team. You know why? Because it’s a small world, after all.
TCM 8 p.m.
The 1960 Best Picture winner stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray and, of course, Manhattan. It’s a comedy when Lemmon is on screen and a drama when MacMurray is. MacLaine is the mistress. I’d like to see this remade as “The Sublet.”