The Garden

A squash-friendly blog for our times

Monday, June 30, 2003

Afghanistan has rejoined the Olympic family. I'll be curious to see what events include Afghani athletes, given International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge's determination that only the very best athletes compete at the Games.

In other Olympic news, the IOC's executive board expressed concern Sunday that the United States Olympic Committee's recent restructuring violates the Olympic Charter. (The USOC's new structure does not give each American IOC member a full vote on the board of directors.) Someone I know suggested a couple of months ago that the USOC's proposed reforms probably would not meet with the IOC's approval.

The prototypical New Zealand family will soon be a childless couple, says Statistics New Zealand.
What's your favorite Katharine Hepburn movie? Mine is Desk Set, I think. (I guess that's an unexpected choice.) My second favorite is probably Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

CNN has this appreciation of Hepburn, whose long career saw her go from "box office poison" to being the grand dame of American film.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

I always find this tennis-less first Sunday of Wimbledon to be a little sad. Sigh.
In December, Oceania was guaranteed a spot in the 2006 World Cup. Yesterday, in order to appease South American soccerdom, the guarantee was taken away. The reason? FIFA didn't want to expand the field to 36 (from 32), and South American representatives made a convincing case that they continued to deserve a chance at a fifth qualifier. It appears, then, that—as before—South America's fifth best will face Oceania's best for a spot in the tourney.

That may mean it'll be awhile before we see New Zealand or Australia in the World Cup again. I don't doubt that South America's fifth best will—for the foreseeable future—be better than anything Oceania has to offer, but it is supposed to be a World Cup, isn't it?

It's good to see the other Schumacher win every once in awhile.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

I particularly enjoyed this news about Jim Morrison, the adorable contestant who finished second in the first iteration of The Mole. (I so wish that Mole would go back to having noncelebrity contests.)
Nauseatingly, Briton Tim Henman has enjoyed an incredibly easy run into Wimbledon's second week, frustrating my most-cherished fearless prediction. Today, he took care of yet another qualifier, Sweden's Robin Soderling. Let's see. After receiving a more-than-generous seeding, Henman defeated a lucky loser in the first-round (Thomas Zib), an actual qualifier (Michael Llodra) in the second-round, and Soderling in the third. Brad Gilbert was so right when he called Henman's "the all-time Betty Crocker draw." Ugh.
On the women's side, I also lost a third projected quarterfinalist, as Conchita Martinez fell to #10 Anastasia Myskina. I realized, too late, that Martinez's game wasn't quite as sparkling as her Eastbourne results suggested. From the outset, I should've just gone with the odds and picked Jennifer Capriati as my quarterfinalist in that section. I'll do so now.

And, hey, I'm pretty delighted to have five of my projected women's quarterfinalists in the running.

Today at Wimbledon, a third of my projected quarterfinalists fell. This time it was #11 Jiri Novak. Novak was beaten by German Alexander Popp, who scurries out of obscurity every grass-court season to show off his amazing serve. Strangely enough, Popp's round of 16 match against Olivier Rochus, another unseeded player, looks pretty tasty. Rochus defeated #30 Jarkko Nieminen today.

With 16 players left in the men's draw, I'm pretty proud to still have five of my eight quarterfinalists going.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Fans of The Mole who, like me, miss Anderson Cooper can start getting a regular fix (link via Reality Blurred) of him every weeknight on CNN.

(And how dare the silly columnist in the linked article suggest that Mole was "a cheesy reality show." She obviously never watched it. It was a game show for smart people....)

American Chanda Rubin, seeded No. 7 and fresh off a win at Eastbourne, was upset today by Italy's Silvia Farina Elia (#27), 7-6 (8-6), 6-3. I'm a bit shocked, of course, as I'd seen Rubin making a big breakthrough--a breakthrough to the final, even--at this Wimbledon. Ouch. I'll pick unseeded Paola Suarez to take Rubin's place in the quarters, and I'll give No. 2 Kim Clijsters the Rubin spots in the semis and—yes—the final. I'm still taking Serena Williams as the big winner, of course.
Yesterday's loss by James Blake to Sargis Sargsian took a second of my projected quarterfinalists out of the tournament. Hey, I did warn you not to bet the rent money on that one, didn't I? That section of the draw is still a complete puzzle to me. Juan Carlos Ferrero is the highest seed, and it's not inconceivable that the clay-courter will advance to the quarterfinals. My first instinct, Sebastien Grosjean, is still around, too—though why have his recent results on grass been so poor? I'm not even sure I can count out Sargsian or—for that matter—qualifier Wesley Moodie, who has a lot of promise on the grass. I guess I'll go back to my initial thinking and pick Grosjean. I definitely don't think the new Wimbledon champ is coming out of this section....
Did this man ruin Greg Rusedski's Wimbledon?

Thursday, June 26, 2003

A bad case of Blogger-itis kept me from posting on Wednesday. Bummer, I know. Here's what I was going to say:Will anyone else be rooting for Michael Llodra tomorrow?

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

The news today from Wimbledon was less startling than yesterday's. On the women's side, top seed Serena Williams advanced. Of course. However, one of my projected quarterfinalists, Alexandra Stevenson (#26), lost in two close sets to Emilie Loit. (I did pick that as one of the few intriguing first-round matches on the women's side.) Other women's seeds who lost today: Meghann Shaughnessy (#19) and Tamarine Tanasugarn (#32). But who had them going anywhere? Not me. One other women's result worthy of mention: Former champion Conchita Martinez (#18), one of my projected quarterfinalists, struggled against a Venezuelan player I've never heard of. Martinez managed to win, but her struggle probably isn't a good omen, huh?

On the men's side, all of my projected quarterfinalists (who played)—David Nalbandian, James Blake, Jiri Novak, and Andre Agassi—advanced. Agassi, interestingly, dropped a set to the British wild card that he faced. (My wild card pick, Alex Bogdanovic, fizzled.) So, of my eight picks for the quarterfinals, only top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt let me down. I'll take that, that's for sure.

As for my upset picks today, well—damn—I'm good. Just as I predicted, Olivier Rochus took out #7 Guillermo Coria, and Dutchman Raemon Sluiter defeated #20 Yevgeny Kafelnikov (in a long, long five-setter). Those results have done wonders for my self-esteem. Upsets I didn't pick: Karol Kucera's victory over veteran Wayne Ferreira (#28); qualifier Robin Soderling's upset of French Open finalist Martin Verkerk (#21); qualifier Frederic Niemeyer's victory over clay-courter Felix Mantilla (#22); and qualifer Cyril Saulnier's win over last year's semifinalist Xavier Malisse (#14). Those qualifiers did awfully well in the first round, huh? (That practice on the grass can't hurt.) And contributing to my swelling ego, I had a couple of those qualifiers' matches listed as "tasty" first-round contests. (As my father would say, every once in awhile, even the ol' blind sow finds an acorn....)

Of the remaining two matches that I thought might be tasty, only one was actually all that interesting. That was the victory of Wayne Moodie, another qualifier, over former top player Marc Rosset. I like Moodie's chances in the next round, too.

Of the 62 first-round men's matches that have been completed, I correctly picked 41 of them. That's just about two-thirds exactly. I guess I'll take that. One of the first-round matches that I correctly picked was evil Tim Henman's win over "lucky loser" Thomas Zib. Amusingly, Zib managed to take Henman to four sets. I sort of wish I'd been wrong about that result.... Speaking of Henman: With Verkerk's loss, every strong player in his part of the draw is now gone. If Henman plays as he did today, though, he may still make me look prescient by losing in the first week.

I better be off to bed. If I don't go now, I won't be able to appreciate tomorrow's big match: #5 Andy Roddick vs. big-serving Greg Rusedski. It's all been good so far, huh?

Monday, June 23, 2003

Homosexuals became gay, and now—invoking that example—some atheists and agnostics want to become brights (link via Arts & Letters Daily). And, yes, there's the inevitable website. "Homosexual" is sure creepy sounding in these post-Stonewall days.... But now that the kids (gosh, am I middle-aged or what?) say that something lame is "so gay," does society need a post-gay "gay?"
SI's Jon Wertheim's weekly Tennis Mailbag is as entertaining as ever today. Highlights:Check out the Mailbag for yourself. Wertheim is the best tennis writer today.
The big news from Wimbledon today, of course, was the stunning first-round upset of top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt by 6' 10" Croatian Ivo Karlovic. (Do you think the seeding committee is regretting bumping Hewitt up from his No. 2 world ranking?) I wish I could say I'd predicted the upset. I did ask early on if you could spare some sympathy for his tough draw. And, only yesterday, I suggested he might have some trouble in the third- or fourth-round. But let's face it: If I'd correctly picked a qualifier over Hewitt in the first round, there'd be a Congressional inquiry already.

How else did I do on Day 1? Not bad, if I say so myself. Of the 31 men's matches completed today, I correctly picked 21 of them. My other (i.e., non-Hewitt) projected quarterfinalists who were on-court today—Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, and Sjeng Schlaken—all advanced. Andy Roddick looked particularly good. Either he or, perhaps, Frenchman Arnaud Clement seems likely to benefit from Hewitt's early departure. In fact, I'll put Roddick into the semifinal spot vacated by Hewitt.

How'd I do with the upsets? Well, I correctly picked Mardy Fish's win over #29 Gaston Gaudio, but—despite my pick—#23 Augstin Calleri managed to advance over Adrian Voinea, who retired in the third set. And, dang it, after all my vacillation, I failed to predict Max Mirnyi's upset of #31 Vince Spadea. Why didn't I just stick with my original feeling? I also didn't foresee upsets of #19 Fernando Gonzalez and #33 (don't ask) Nikolay Davydenko. Davydenko lost to a British wild-card. (My wildcard pick, Alex Bogdanovic, plays tomorrow.)

Other matches? Several of the "tasty" matches I was watching actually turned out to be good ones. Ivan Ljubicic took out American Taylor Dent in four sets; Rainer Schuettler also needed four sets to advance over Michel Kratochvil; and, best of all, veteran Todd Martin needed all five sets to get past Spaniard Fernando Vicente. I want some credit for giving Vicente a chance, ok? Ok. Thanks.

On the women's side, it was a dull, dull day. The only noteworthy result at all was American Samantha Reeves's upset of #25 seed Anna Pistolesi (née Smashnova). In some respects, the women's tournament probably won't get too interesting before Wednesday or Thursday at the earliest. Unless you really enjoy all that according-to-Hoyle stuff. Blame the seeding of 32 players. Yawn.

Score one more, so to speak, for the consecrated virgins (link via Shattered Buddha). To learn more about consecrated virginity, check out the website.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

My final pre-tournament look at the women's draw will have to be a quicker affair. Fortunately(?), women's tennis isn't as deep as men's tennis these days, so there's not as much need to worry about first-round losses, the prowess of qualifiers, and the like. Anyway, here's who I see in the quarterfinals (again, from top to bottom in the official draw):Here's how I see the rest of the tournament going:Enough talk. Let's watch some tennis.
I spent a big chunk of today going over the final Wimbledon draws—final, in that they contain all the qualifiers and lucky losers that made the tournament. Here's my list of projected quarterfinalists (in the order you'd see them from top to bottom in the draw):It's a fool's game, but here are my predictions for the rest of the tournament:And, just in case you're still hungry, here are a few miscellaneous picks:

Not had enough? I'll look at the women's draw in a bit.
Some 80 men's tennis players flexed a bit of political muscle yesterday, telling the Grand Slams that the ATP Tour could produce alternative tournaments if the Slams won't meet players' demands. They're asking for increased prize money, greater marketing efforts, and contributions to health and pension plans.

Is a variation of the 1973 boycott of Wimbledon likely? It's hard for me to imagine. There is already a lot of money available at the Slams, and the top players—the players who might win a Slam—may well be reluctant to pass up one of their few opportunities to take a title. I think, and hope, that this is just a negotiating posture.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Eyes Wide Shut wasn't creepy enough for you? Try the English Sunday papers.
What country am I? Well, oddly enough, Thailand.Sexual promiscuity? Please. I do life spicy food, though. (Quiz-taking prompted by drink me.)
After two very good wins in the Southern Hemisphere, England seems to be a favorite for the 2003 Rugby World Cup, which begins in Australia in October. A week ago, England took its first win in 30 years in New Zealand. And, today, England followed up with its first ever win in Australia.
Justine Henin-Hardenne, who is seeded third at Wimbledon, sprained several fingers in the course of the final of the Ordina Open in the Netherlands. She believes she'll be all right for her first match at Wimbledon on Tuesday. Also today, Chanda Rubin defended her Eastbourne title, defeating former Wimbledon champ Conchita Martinez, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Rubin could be a factor at the All England Club.
From TMFTML's guest-review of The Hulk by Hulk himself: Hilarious.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Do you think Elena Bovina deserves to be seeded at Wimbledon? How about Denisa Chladkova? Laura Granville, maybe? Agustin Calleri? Juan Ignacio Chela? No? Me either.

That's the kind of nonsense we get, though, with 32 seeds in both the men's and the women's draw. (This isn't just a Wimbledon thing. All the Grand Slams agreed to this a few years ago.) In general, of course, seeding the field makes sense. It prevents the best players from being bunched up into a single section or two of the draw, and it ensures—generally—that the later rounds will be populated with good matches. But the drawbacks are many. Worst of all, we get a raft of putrid first- and second-round matches—especially in the women's tournament, where the field is often a bit shallow. We need go no further than Ms. Chladkova for an example. In her first round at Wimbledon, she faces Klara Koukalova, someone I've never heard of. In the next round, if the rankings hold, she'd see Cara Black (who's a good doubles player, by the way). I'm guessing you don't want tickets to matches like that. I don't.

Many of these lower seeds just don't deserve any protection from the rest of the field. Does it do anyone any good for Juan Ignacio Chela to have a clear road into the third round? He's played at Wimbledon twice, and he's never made it out of the first round. His seeding sure improves his chances this year. The first round would be a little bit more exciting if he'd been drawn to face a legitimate seed in the first round (someone like David Nalbandian or Sjeng Schalken), wouldn't it?

In the end, isn't the likely effect of this excessive seeding that many not-that-accomplished players will maintain artificially high rankings? After all, if Elena Bovina successfuly makes it into the third-round of the Slams—and her seeding should help ensure that—she'll likely be back in a good position at next year's Wimbledon. And we won't have any idea at all whether she deserves to be there or not.

And don't get me started, please, on why Wimbledon seeds even its qualifying tournaments with 32 seeds. Did it make the qualifying any more interesting to have someone named Vadim Kutsenko as the 32d seed? I doubt it. He lost in his first match—to someone else I've never heard of, Andy Ram (clicking on this link helps make my point for me, I think).

Seeding is a good thing, in moderation. Both the first and the second weeks would be a lot more interesting if the Slams returned to seeding only 16 players in each draw.

When I listen to the Nashville Star CD, I'm still drawn to Brandon Silveira's cover of "Act Naturally." Silveira finished fifth on Star, and the celebrity judges seemed to think he wasn't ready for Nashville. I think Nashville just wasn't ready for Silveira and his country punk sound. Anyway, according to Silveira's website, he'll be releasing a CD in July. I can't wait. has published Jon Wertheim's pre-tourney observations about the men's and women's draws. (But mine are better, huh?) I just have one reaction. Karolina Sprem?!
Interested in a little pre-Wimbledon tennis news? First, Amelie Mauresmo has pulled out of the tournament because of a rib injury. That probably made Justine Henin-Hardenne's day because there's no one else in her quarter of the draw likely to threaten her. Also, today at Eastbourne, American Chanda Rubin upset Jennifer Capriati, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2. Look for Rubin to make an appearance or two on Centre Court.

The evil Tim Henman got a break, too. Alex Corretja, the veteran set to face Henman in the first round, has also withdrawn. I'm still sticking with my prediction that we won't see Henman in the second week, though.

I meant to say this earlier in the week...but how about that Roger Clemens. Again. Is he totally cool or what?

Thursday, June 19, 2003

New Zealand is set to introduce a tax on, well, livestock flatulence. (The New Zealand Herald's headline calls it a "burp tax.") Farming groups are, as you would expect, not amused. Funds from the tax will be used to combat global warming. Livestock apparently accounts for about half of New Zealand's greenhouse emissions.
Is Orin Kerr too honest?
Congratulations to Bookslut, which named as one of the web's best 50 sites. It's a well-deserved accolade.
Tonight, I want to look at the Wimbledon women's draw, which you can view here. The women's field is not as deep as the men's; consequently, there are fewer intriguing first-round matches. A few that caught my eye: American Chanda Rubin (seeded #7) vs. former French Open champ Iva Majoli; former semifinalist Alexandra Stevenson (#26) vs. Emilie Loit; and Magui Serna (#24) vs. Virginia Ruano Pascual. Not that exciting, huh? (I'll take the seeds in all three of those matches, by the way.)

In terms of the top players, it's interesting to see that world No. 1 Serena Williams could face Jennifer Capriati in a quarterfinal. No other top player faces such a potentially difficult quarterfinal. Second seed Kim Clijsters looks to have a clear path into the semis; only Rubin seems to be any kind of obstacle. Similarly, third-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne—fresh off her triumph at the French Open—should find her way to the semis; only Amelie Mauresmo might stand in her way.

The remaining quarter of the draw is quite interesting. No. 4 Venus Williams is seeded to advance to the semis, but her form has been abysmal of late. Normally, fifth seed Lindsay Davenport would be a threat; she, however, is coming off yet another injury and says she lacks motivation. Perhaps all this is an opening for one of the super Russian players in that quarter—Vera Zvonareva (#16) or Nadia Petrova (#29). And I shouldn't overlook Daniela Hantuchova (#10) (but is she healthy enough to win?) or even the veteran Amanda Coetzer (#17). We'll all be watching this quarter very closely, I think.

Tomorrow, if I have a chance, I want to blog some about the epidemic of seeding at Wimbledon (and the other Slams).

Richard Krajicek, the Dutch tennis player and former Wimbledon champion that I mentioned only yesterday, has retired. Problems with his right elbow ended the 32-year-old's tennis career. Krajicek's departure should lighten Lleyton Hewitt's load during the first week of Wimbledon. A "lucky loser," someone who loses during the Wimbledon qualifying, will take Krajicek's place in the Wimbledon draw.

Update: Albert Costa, whom I rooted for so strongly at this year's French Open, has withdrawn from Wimbledon. He was the 24th seed. His departure should aid another lucky loser. Maybe he's still tired from all those five-setters at Roland Garros.

Shotgun Wedding?: It looks like Virginians have successfully coerced the ACC into inviting Virginia Tech to join.
Phillies 3, Braves 2. I was there. And I couldn't have asked for much more. I managed to stay out of the way—and not lose an eye—when the guy next to me caught a foul ball in the bottom of the third. Mike Hampton pitched a no-hitter for the Braves for seven-and-one-third innings. Phils manager Larry Bowa lost his temper. (Sometimes I wonder if he does that just for show. Maybe he thinks it's professional wrestling.) And the hometown guys won the game in the bottom of the ninth. Cool stuff.

Afternoon baseball seems so luxurious.... Update: Hey, look who else was there.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Jason of has a problem: The reader commentary to a single post on his blog has taken on a life of its own. (When I last checked, there were 741 reader comments appended to the original post, which was about—unsurprisingly—The Matrix Reloaded.) Jason asks what his responsibility is to a high-quality conversation that he started but which he cannot really follow anymore.
Wimbledon unveiled the men's and women's draws yesterday. (I intended to write about this last night, but a virulent strain of Blogger-itis prevented it.) The men's draw—which can be viewed here—is terribly interesting. First, can you spare some sympathy for top seed Lleyton Hewitt? If he survives his first match against a qualifier, he'll likely face former Wimbledon champ Richard Krajicek in the second round. In the third round, he could easily face a threat in a player like Taylor Dent or Ivan Ljubicic. And, then, in the round of 16, he'd probably face Arnaud Clement. That strikes me as an awfully rough path just to the quarterfinals.

Andre Agassi, by contrast, should have a relatively placid first week. Oh, he might face someone like Younes El Aynaoui in third round. But, really, his first big obstacle to another Wimbledon title would seem to be last year's semifinalist Xavier Malisse, a possible foe in the round of 16. And I sure don't think Agassi would lose to Malisse.

The draw also presents several intriguing first-round matches. Among them: Dent vs. Ljubicic; Roger Federer vs. Hyung-Taik Lee; Karel Kucera vs. Wayne Ferreira; and Sebastien Grosjean vs. Thomas Enqvist.

My top picks for seeded players who might lose in the first round: American Vince Spadea (#31), who plays Max Mirnyi; clay-courter Gaston Gaudio (#29), who faces Mardy Fish; and, perhaps, Guillermo Coria (#7), who plays Olivier Rochus.

Let me make one more fearless prediction, ok? Despite his generous seeding, Tim Henman will not see Wimbledon's second week. If he doesn't lose in the very first round to wily veteran Alex Corretja, someone like Martin Verkerk or Nicolas Kiefer will get him by week's end.

Tomorrow night, I'll look at the women's draw.

Is this what research about gay sexuality has come to? This is from a Chronicles of Higher Education piece on J. Michael Bailey, author of The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism:Um, maybe the problem here is that Bailey refined his so-called theory "during his visits to gay bars near his home" in a gay neighborhood in Chicago. Would he have found men with different interests and experiences in a different neighborhood? At leather bars or biker bars? Mightn't the gay men who "played football and loathed dolls" have been at a baseball game, or at home watching a Blackhawks game, or changing their transmission fluid? Maybe visiting bars at one time and place isn't the best way to gather information about a phenomenon that has transcended particular times and places?
Good news, Sopranos fans. We're going to get a sixth season. One cast member, however, may not be a part of the extra season (link via Fresh Hell). (I can see how that particular actor's character might be running on borrowed time, though. Hmmm.)
Does this news mean that we'll never really know what happened during the judging of the figure skating at the 2002 Winter Olympics?
GreenGourd's Garden: [I]t doesn't get much more miscellaneous than that, says The Daily(?) Beallsvonian (6/17/03). I think I'll sew that on a sampler.

(But thanks to The Beallsvonian for the kind remarks.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

When last I left the topic, mayhaw jelly was well on its way to becoming Louisiana's state jelly. It turns out, however, the Louisiana's legislators couldn't agree. In the grand spirit of compromise, they've had to name two official state jellies—mayhaw jelly and sugar cane jelly (link via Louisiana Legislature Report by way of Ernie the Attorney).

Sadly, I've never had the pleasure of enjoying sugar cane jelly. Maybe I can rectify that serious omission soon. Update: The Opelousas Daily World had this article on the, um, controversy. The article provides some good background on sugar cane jelly.

Kate at The Kitchen Cabinet asks the eternal question: What the heck is Grimace? I wish I knew. I was fascinated by him (it?) when I was a kid—probably because I liked both milkshakes and, well, the color purple. I even had a Grimace piggy bank for awhile. (Hey, Mom, is that in the attic somewhere?) Now I'm just afraid.
With the close of the current Term at hand, it's a good time to choose the most boring Supreme Court case of the year. (As always, the Court has saved its juiciest cases for the end of the Term.) Today, Ignatz nominated Hillside Dairy Inc. v. Lyons, a case holding that a recent amendment to California's milk-pricing regime was not within the ambit of a Congressional statute protecting the state system from possible invalidation under the Dormant (or Negative) Commerce Clause. (I'd explain more, really, if I thought any nonlawyer would care.) As Ignatz said, the opinion was "so boring that it probably wouldn't even make it into a law school textbook on Milk Law." Zowie. It's a worthy nominee, that's for sure.

Earlier in the month, How Appealing put forth another "attractive" candidate, Entergy La., Inc. v. Louisiana Pub. Serv. Comm'n, also a preemption case. Entergy dealt with something called the "filed rate doctrine," which prevents state utilities regulators from reevaluating cost allocations between energy companies when they've already been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). As I understand it (I've successfully blocked most of it out now), Entergy held that state ratemaking proceedings are also barred even when FERC simply delegates to the energy companies the discretion to determine the precise cost allocations. No, I have no idea what that means. As How Appealing said, the Court's opinion is a "potent . . . mix of complexity and boringness." Testify, Brother Bashman.

Those are two worthy candidates, to be sure. But I think the class of the field has to be Boeing Co. v. United States. I had occasion to summarize this one for a group of lawyers and nearly had a breakdown while doing so. Really. I was close to actual tears. Suffice it to say, please, that the case involved the proper interpretation of a tax regulation detailing how something called a "domestic international sales corporation" (for all I know, Boeing may be the only one in the country) must allocate its research and development costs. (In case you're dying to know, the answer is that the costs must be allocated against a range of related products, not just against the sales of that particular product. I think.) Anyway, in my humble opinion, Justice Stevens's opinion reached new heights (depths?) in parsing dense, jargon-laden legal text and applying it to fact patterns that no reasonable person could have any interest in whatsoever. Congratulations to Justice Stevens, Boeing, Treasury regulators, and—well—tax lawyers everywhere. Good work, indeed.

If you made it through this whole post, you deserve a treat. How about this Washington Post story (link via How Appealing), which has Chief Justice Rehnquist saying this to Justice O'Connor: Sandra, we don't have to be in every shot. Oh, and there are shovels, too.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Michael Schumacher's win at Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix propelled him, finally, into the lead in the race for the world championship. Schumacher thinks his lead ought to be bigger, though.
A win by Serbia and Montenegro over Croatia in the European Water Polo Championships on Sunday triggered violence in Belgrade and another Serbian city (link via The Daily(?) Beallsvonian). Fortunately, these two water polo powers aren't in the same round-robin group at next month's FINA World Championships in Barcelona.

This isn't the first time, of course, that Eastern European water polo has had geopolitical ramifications.

Yesterday, Shattered Buddha praised the comic book blog Neilalien. That reminded me to say something nice about my favorite source for comic book reviews—The 4th Rail. I don't lay my money down for a comic until 4th Rail's Don MacPherson tells me I should. And, hey, it sure doesn't hurt that 4th Rail is so smartly designed.
The Wimbledon seeding committee published its handiwork today. As it often is, Wimbledon's seeding of the men's draw is a little bit idiosyncratic. First, the committee made Lleyton Hewitt the top seed, even though he just fell to No. 2 in the world rankings. I wonder if world No. 1 Andre Agassi is annoyed. Actually, though, I think the choice of Hewitt is a defensible one, as there's really little these days to separate the top two players. And, after all, Hewitt is the defending champion.

What's not defensible is Wimbledon's decision to seed local boy Tim Henman, currently the No. 29 player in the world, at a startling No. 10. A bump of 19 places is a bit breathtaking. Yes, Henman is a fine player on the grass, but he's played like hell lately. And he's a huge crybaby. Wimbledon didn't owe Henman any favors, and he didn't deserve any. (Henman certainly didn't deserve to be bumped ahead of Sebastien Grosjean, who just beat him at Queen's Club.) Other beneficiaries of the seeding committee's goodwill: Xavier Malisse (bumped up 17 places—from world No. 31 to a position as the 14th seed), Arnaud Clement (bumped up 15 places from 30 to 15), Mikhail Youzhny (bumped up nine places from 25 to 16), and last year's runner-up David Nalbandian (bumped up three places from 9 to 6). Objects of the seeding committee's scorn: several clay-court players and, a bit surprisingly, French Open finalist Martin Verkerk (nudged down five places from 16 to 21). In my opinion, Verkerk has the kind of game that could do some damage on the grass.

The seeding committee didn't even bother to tinker with the women's draw. It simply followed the world rankings, skipping the injured Monica Seles. What's up with that? Can't the seeding committee even pretend to be as interested in the women's draw as it obviously is in the men's? Would it have been a different story if there'd been a British woman to favor with a Henman-esque bump to the top of the seedings? Hmph.

Tomorrow, Wimbledon unveils the men's and women's draws.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

You've got to love it when the New York Times covers developments in watermelon science, huh?
While I'm promoting BBC America's program schedule for it, let me say this. If you haven't seen The Office, which is one of the two or three best sitcoms I've ever seen, you can see all six of the first season's episodes this week. The very first episode airs on Monday at 10 p.m. EDT.
The Times also has a piece on BBC's delightful show Coupling. When I heard that NBC was going to remake Coupling for an American audience, I was appalled. NBC will, of course, screw it up, and the result will be that most American viewers will never give the BBC version a chance. You can, and should, see the real Coupling on BBC America on Friday nights.
Today's New York Times has a good look at how Friday night's Roger Clemens-fest at Yankee Stadium ended. Clemens, by the way, has stressed again that this season is his last as a major-leaguer.
Wimbledon just won't be the same this year without the experienced hands of either Goran Ivanisevic or Monica Seles. Both have injuries that prevent return trips to Centre Court.
Despite my prediction (gosh, am I ever right?), Andy Roddick dispatched Seb Grosjean—in about an hour—at today's Queen's Club final. The score was 6-3, 6-3. Maybe the future of American tennis is now. (Did that sound like a bad commercial or what?)

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Pete Sampras just can't come out and say he's retiring, can he? Still, the former No. 1 won't be at either Wimbledon or the U.S. Open this year. He says he'll reevaluate at the end of 2003, but it's almost unimaginable to me that he'd return after an entire year off the Grand Slam circuit. I wish we'd gotten a chance to say a proper good-bye.
It was another interesting, eventful day at Queen's Club. Andy Roddick, who seems to be finding his form just in time for Wimbledon, upset new world No. 1 Andre Agassi, 6-1, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (8-6). Roddick is now being coached by Brad Gilbert, Agassi's former coach. By the way, Roddick threw in a 149-mph serve today. Ouch. (Agassi has a way of losing unexpectedly just as soon as he reaches No. 1, doesn't he?)

In the other semifinal, Sebastien Grosjean ended Tim Henman's hopes, 6-3, 6-4. (Good riddance.) I like Grosjean's chances in the final.

Roger Clemens is the man, you know? Two major milestones (300 wins and 4,000 Ks) reached in one evening—well, wow. (I intended to write about Clemens last night, but a thunderstorm intervened. It still has to be said, though.)
These stories from science don't have much in common, except that they were both featured in today's National Post. First, researchers at Northwestern University have concluded that women—regardless of their sexual orientation—are aroused by erotic images of either men or women. Men, however, are much more selective. And that leads, unnaturally enough, to this report from University of Nebraska researchers, who've concluded that bovine bad breath contributes to global warming. You heard it here.
It's not my usual fare, but I've recently been enjoying Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus—a blog written by Jane Ellen, a seminary student from, of course, Indiana. Her writing is elegant, and the subject matter can't help but often be poignant. Jane Ellen has just begun a rotation at a big-city hospital (permalink down; see 8:42 p.m. entry of June 11), and I think there will be some very interesting blogging in the weeks ahead. Hoosier Musings is highly recommended.

While I'm on a semi-related topic, I'll also mention that JMB—who just completed his first year of law school at Oklahoma City University—is on a bit of an existential quest himself. His permalinks don't seem to be working either, but other spiritual seekers should look at his entries of May 28, June 2 (1:10 a.m.), and June 9.

Friday, June 13, 2003

How Appealing may have struggled with the revamped Blogger today, but I've sure enjoyed my first day with it. It's easy to use, and the old bugs (for instance, taking three or four tries to attach a link to the particular text I'd chosen) appear to be gone. Plus, the new Blogger rescued some of my early archives--I'd always kept them available through some not-so-clever extra scripting on my part, but now all my archives are where they should be sans my extra html. Best of all, every new post today has been archived as it was posted (and, of course, as it should be) without my manually forcing things. That should help end the epidemic of broken permalinks among Blogger users.
A loss today at Queen's Club by Lleyton Hewitt means that Andre Agassi is, once again, the world No. 1. This probably means that Agassi will be seeded No. 1 at Wimbledon. The Wimbledon seeding committee has traditionally had an independent streak, though.
I've enjoyed—way too much—being home on a workday. (I've worked some long, long hours the past few weeks, and I took today off as some kind of reward, I guess.) Thirty-five hour work weeks, anyone?
TMFTML calls our attention to this Chicago Sun-Times, er, piece about The Hulk's (you wouldn't believe how long I pondered the choices for this next word) package. "[I]t was a hard jockstrap for [the special effects gurus] to fill," says the article. Blush.
I think Sherman Alexie is one of the best writers working today. But some of the things he said in this entertaining Q&A with the Boston Phoenix were pretty outlandish (link via Bookslut). For instance:I'm sure gay men and black women—among others—are writing him cranky letters this very minute. And then we have this:I don't know what to make of that, really. I hope, though, that all this doesn't make me like Ten Little Indians—which is in my to-be-read pile—any less.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

The Chicago Tribune has published its list of the fifty best magazines. TMFTML skewers it pretty well, so I'm not even going to try. I will say, though, that I truly don't understand how either People or Esquire could be in the Top 10. Ewww. I think Texas Monthly, which came in at No. 14 in the Trib's list, is one of the four or five best mags right now. And if I had a vote, No Depression—the bible of alternative country music—would definitely be in the Top 25.
In strangely-related news from Canada...a gay swan in Ottawa is mourning the loss of its longtime companion. Bittersweet stuff.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Lily at The Kitchen Cabinet brings us the horrifying news that bar examinees in Virginia are expected to sit for the exam in courtroom attire (permalink down; see 3:52 p.m. entry of June 11). Well, golly, how Medieval. We certainly wouldn't want people being comfortable enough to do their best work, would we? Maybe the good people in Richmond would also volunteer to perform a little light torture on the examinees to get them revved up.

Still, this brings back memories of my bar exam, which took place at the Myriad in Oklahoma City. (The Myriad, by the way, now has a ridiculous new name, but it'll always be the Myriad in my bar exam memories, won't it?) The facility was set up in basketball-game configuration, and the examinees sat at several hundred tables (each, by the way, about six inches too tall for people of normal height) on what would, on game night, have been the court. Happily, the several thousand seats surrounding the floor were empty. The concession stand, however, was open. I don't remember anymore what I ordered at the concession stand (not nachos, I'd guess), probably because I couldn't get any sleep at all at the hotel across the street where I was staying. Sure, I was wired from the stress, but I'm pretty sure I was also absorbing stress from the other sleepless bar examinees whose rooms were near mine. I heard people coming and going for two nights straight, as I fretted in the dark about securities hypotheticals and that inevitable essay question that only someone who went to law school in-state could answer correctly. That was seven years ago, and it still seems—sometimes—like seven days ago.

I wore jeans, by the way. If I'd been in a tie, I might have stopped breathing on Day 2.

Sammy Sosa's suspension for using a corked bat was reduced yesterday from eight to seven games. The hearing officer, baseball's chief operating officer, concluded that Sosa's use of the bat was accidental, if still blameworthy. It's a pretty unsurprising result, eh?
It's a sad, sad day when the most interesting thing to blog about is news of Celebrity Mole Yucatan (link via Reality Blurred). But, hey, I've enjoyed all the various Mole incarnations, although the ones with "real" people were more fun than the inaugural Celebrity Mole. This one brings back Stephen Baldwin and Corbin Bernsen, two contestants who were eliminated early on Celebrity Mole Hawaii. Aren't there enough third-tier celebrities on the planet to populate an entirely new cast?

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Let me get this straight, ok? Tim Henman, whose game is practically made for winning at Wimbledon, is blaming the grass for his lack of success there? Isn't that what you'd expect to hear from someone who just isn't mentally tough enough to win? Disgusting.
I must be the only TiVo fanatic around who didn't know about the hack described in this Wired article. It enables the user to replicate ReplayTV's popular 30-second skip feature, which a viewer might use to (gasp!) efficiently get through commercials.

And, to think, I'd been using old-fashioned fast forward all this time. Update: Having tried this out for awhile, I think I'll stick with my antediluvian fast-forward button. It's just as efficient, and it doesn't take over a button that is actually useful....

Monday, June 09, 2003

Eugene Volokh, please report to the nearest white courtesy phone. Zero Population Growth of Blogistan has an urgent message for you. Enough already.

Meanwhile, the good professor continues to "relentlessly plug[]" his new book. Hee.

According to its president, Palau is being considered as a site for the next season of Survivor (link via Reality Blurred). Now if I'd only accepted that job offer from Palau several years ago, I could do color commentary somewhere....
There's really too much on television for me to watch. Baseball, The Wire, Faking It, Sportscenter—and, hey, I have half a season of unwatched Enterprise episodes on my TiVo unit. So, really, why it is so depressing that The Sopranos won't be back on until 2004 (link via Fresh Hell)? Why? Because it's the best damn thing on television today.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Interested in an opinion on L'affaire Sosa from a baseball fan who grew up in Oklahoma and went to law school? Try this one. I feel so redundant now.
Sadly, my prediction for today's French Open final was spot-on. (If you make as many predictions as I did, one of them is bound to be correct, huh?) Juan Carlos Ferrero today took out the overwhelmed Martin Verkerk, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. As is so often the case, the semifinal matches—in both the men's and the women's draws—were much more entertaining than the finals. Update: The Daily(?) Beallsvonian even managed (permalink down; see entry for Friday, June 6) to whip up a little sympathy for NBC Sports, which—yet again—was left with a weekend of tennis difficult (impossible?) to sell to most American fans.

Like any good tennis fan, my mind has now turned to the beautiful turf.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Whatever the result of the Clijsters/Henin-Hardenne match, it was going to be a good day for Belgium. With both a Walloon and a Fleming in the spotlight, it was a very, well, hands-across-Belgium kind of moment, too. And I enjoyed my rare Saturday-morning-TV spotting of Belgian royalty, who made the tennis pilgrimage today to Court Philippe Chatrier.

I should have had Belgian waffles for breakfast, I think.

Remember when I said that Kim Clijsters was a touch better right now than Justine Henin-Hardenne? Well, not so much.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Before I hit that bubble bath, I'll make my final French Open predictions. Tomorrow, I like Kim Clijsters's chances to defeat fellow Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne. Henin-Hardenne likes the clay, but I think Clijsters's overall game is a touch better right now. In Sunday's men's final, I'll take Juan Carlos Ferrero over the unseeded, unexpected finalist Martin Verkerk. Verkerk, who is playing in his very first French Open, will probably be overcome by it all, and—even if he isn't—Ferrero's the dirtballer of the day. Straight sets, I'd say.

It'd be more fun if Albert Costa were playing this weekend. We already covered that, though, didn't we?

I had one of those days at work, and Albert Costa lost at the French Open. What a bummer. Calgon, take me away.
Who is John Riegger, really, and is he as much of a jerk as his challenge to Annika Sorenstam makes him seem?

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Photojunkie has an Abbott and Costello moment for our times. I laughed out loud. Really.
What's the most curious selection on CMT's list of the 100 greatest songs in country music history (link via The Minor Fall, The Major Lift)? The nominees are:And the winner is......................: "Boot Scootin' Boogie." It has it all—uninspiring vocals, uninteresting music, ridiculous lyrics. I change the station whenever it comes on. Every time. Ugh.

As The Minor Fall, The Major Lift noted, it's baffling to confront a list of the 100 greatest country songs that doesn't include anything at all by Jimmie Rodgers or Roy Acuff. And where's Bob Wills? Don't get me wrong. I've got nothing against Reba McEntire or Garth Brooks or even Lorrie Morgan (but, ok, I might have something against Brooks & Dunn). I've got CDs by all of them. "Fancy," though, isn't even close to being Reba's best work. (I could easily put "Whoever's in New England" on the list, but "Fancy?" Um, no.) And, hey, I'm not ashamed to like Garth Brooks. I think "The Dance" should actually have been ranked higher than #14. It's brilliant. But I could pick 100 drinking songs alone that are more interesting than "Friends in Low Places." Gary Stewart, anyone?

I want to be fair. Although my taste in country music runs to the traditional—to the Ernest Tubbs and Kitty Wellses of the world—I think there's quite a bit of recent music on the list that actually deserves to be there. I was absolutely thrilled to see Doug Stone's "I'd Be Better Off in a Pine Box" (#96) on the list. It's one of my all-time favorites (I'm a sucker for any song about loneliness and unrequited love). Also justified: "Independence Day" by Martina McBride (#50); "Wide Open Spaces" by the Dixie Chicks (#22); and "The Dance."

In the end, the list is generally a good one. In fact, it's a shame that country radio doesn't play songs like (most of) these anymore. I just can't resist debating any list like this one....

Try as I might this week, I just haven't been able to avoid tennis news during the work day so that I can fully enjoy my TiVoed French Open tennis at night. Today, I know, it's not that hard to imagine how I might have heard about Serena Williams's surprising loss to Justine Henin-Hardenne in the semifinals. But, really, should I have been prepared yesterday to guard myself from news about Albert Costa's quarterfinal match with Tommy Robredo? I apparently should have been because, at one point, I was greeted with "how 'bout that Costa winning another five set-match, huh?" (and, anyway, I later saw a headline about the match on someone else's monitor). Such is the life of a working tennis fan, I guess. Sigh.

Anyway, how 'bout that Costa winning another five-set match, huh (free New York Times registration required)? He has won five matches in the tournament, and—incredibly—four of them were in five-set matches. If I had played 23 sets in a 10-day stretch, I'd be, well, someone else (and in the hospital). Costa must be exhausted. Unsurprisingly, he's the first player ever to win four five-set matches at the French Open (and it's only been done once in any Grand Slam event). I don't know how he'll be able to cope tomorrow against Juan Carlos Ferrero's younger and better-rested legs, but I'll be rooting for him.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Happily enough, the evidence tends to support Sammy Sosa's story (New York Times registration required) about last night's incident with a corked bat. He said that he had simply grabbed the wrong bat, which he'd used to put on a show for fans during batting practice. Sosa's 76 other bats were seized during the game, and tests show that they're all legitimate. That's definitely good news for baseball.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Sammy Sosa was ejected for using a corked bat?! Golly. It's not often that I have to steady myself when watching SportsCenter.
Today, at the French Open, two more of my picks for the men's semis lost. Andre Agassi—who had looked awfully good—lost pretty easily to Argentina's Guillermo Coria; perhaps even more incredibly, little-known Dutchman Martin Verkerk took out Carlos Moya in five tough sets. The unseeded Verkerk, by the way, is playing in his very first French Open. So, of my four picks for the semifinals, only Juan Carlos Ferrero still has a chance. Zowie. To save face, let me point out that I correctly picked three of the four women's semifinalists (only Nadia Petrova eluded me). That's not that much saved face, is it?

In many ways, the most interesting part of the tournament for me is still the Lleyton Hewitt-less quarter of the men's draw, which I talked about a couple of days ago. Since I wrote, Spain's Tommy Robredo took out yet another top seed—this time, three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten. And in a match I stayed up much too late to watch last night (thanks, TiVo), defending champion Albert Costa defeated the hometown favorite, Arnaud Clement, 6-2, 7-5, 7-5. Given my performance to date, I think I'll give up on the prognostication and focus, instead, on simply rooting for Costa. Every one of his matches has been an emotional thriller, and winning the title would—I think—mean a lot to him. For one thing, it would make his unexpected victory last year seem a lot less flukey. And Costa strikes me as a very proud man.

Monday, June 02, 2003

I've mentioned Hunkabutta several times here; it's the excellent blog of a Canadian who lives in Japan. Hunkabutta also features a lot of outstanding photography by the blogger, Mike Clarke. Today, this photograph of an urban rainbow—somehow, it's more grunge than color—really grabbed me. I bet you'll like it, too.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Former yokozuna Takanohana's formal retirement ceremony, his danpatsu-shiki, occurred today. As the linked article from Japan Today indicates, the ceremony consists, in part, of the removal of the rikishi's topknot (chonmage) by friends and dignitaries. Although I couldn't find an article about it, the danpatsu-shiki of Terao—one of sumo's most popular wrestlers ever—occurred yesterday. Terao proved to me that a relatively normal-sized human being could compete in sumo. Since Terao's retirement, I just haven't had the same passion for sumo. Update: Here's a picture from Terao's danpatsu. And here's a picture showing how he looked afterward.
About 20 minutes after I finished my French Open picks, one of my projected semifinalists—world No. 1 Lleyton Hewittpromptly lost to Spain's Tommy Robredo in a five-setter. Well, at least I stressed that Hewitt was one of my "weak links." Hmph.

Hewitt's departure has, in any event, left us with a very interesting quarter of the draw, now consisting of Robredo, former French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten, defending champion Albert Costa, and Frenchman Arnaud Clement. Kuerten, who has regained his form of late, took out my favorite dark horse, Gaston Gaudio, making the Brazilian the likely semifinalist here, I guess. I still like Clement's chances, though, especially if he can harness the hometown crowd. I'll be pulling for Costa, though, who has shown a lot of heart in winning his first three matches in a total of 15 sets (ouch!). He surely can't keep that up.

Jennifer Capriati, one of my picks in the women's draw, lost today to Russian Nadia Petrova. It was an awfully entertaining match. Petrova, who upset Monica Seles in the first round, played dreamily. She'll now play countrywoman Vera Zvonareva for a place in the semis. Zvonareva took out Venus Williams today. And, ahem, you may recall that I called an early exit for Venus. I should end on that note, shouldn't I?


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