Sunday, September 9, 2007

Foul Ups

Today we revisit recent posts with new information and assess a plot twist for Big Love.

As Good As News was dead wrong in not picking Justine Henin to win the US Open singles (original post - Scouting Report - September 3). The problem may have started in the semis, where Venus Williams was holding her own in the second set, despite spraying some forehands long. Suddenly, Venus was asking the chair umpire for help from the trainer, which is allowed, but not until the next changeover. Bang, Venus loses three points and her service game in no time. By the time the trainer can get on court to take Venus's pulse the match is out of control. Henin wins in straight sets, shows up for the final rested and confident and handles Kuznetsova with ease. The Kuznetsova pick assumed that an exhausted Williams or Henin would struggle into the final, but Henin looked like she could have handled Kuznetsova even if Henin had been worn down by Venus.

As Good As News gets partial credit for spotting mixed doubles champ Victoria Azarenka as a talent to watch. Perhaps we can still redeem ourselves completely if we get lucky with the courageous pick of Roger Federer as men's singles champ.

The Golden Gate Bridge authority should be collecting royalties from Ghirardelli Chocolates( original post - Golden Gate Could be Golden - August 26). Take a look at the ad on the back cover of the Times Magazine. Great photo of the bridge at night, how about a small contribution to keep that bridge beautiful, not to mention safe.

A Fugitive Political Fund Raiser Leaves A Shadowy Money Trail - Mystery campaign contributor Norman Hsu may not be so rich, he filed for bankruptcy in Hong Kong in 1998. He is in custody. Bits and pieces of information are emerging. Hsu was clearly using a shell company to shuffle money around, in one month in 2003 taking $600,000 from various sources, including $200,000 from two individuals, and then transferring $600,000 to other individuals who contributed money to the Clinton campaigns through Hsu. This looks like a mechanism to help the sources for these funds circumvent limits on campaign contributions. Hsu's lawyer denies "Hsu provided money for others to make contributions", but the statement was narrowly worded. Reimbursing for prior contributions is equally illegal, and defense counsel's statement includes only Hsu, not his companies.

A $100,000 political contributor who's using a shell game to avoid detection usually wants something in return, access at the very least. Someone was almost certainly paying for the full attention of Senator Clinton, although if everything was presented through Hsu and his straw man donors Hillary may well not have known about the shenanigans to avoid contribution limits. How Hsu evaded campaign finance laws will be interesting - but, because she is not an idiot, we will find Hillary did not know anything about violations of campaign finance law. Watch for a deeper issue - who were the fat cats that funded the contributions Hsu managed? What issues mattered to these fat cats? What positions did Hillary take on these issues and how active was she? In other words, what did Hsu's backers get for their money.

Boys Cast Out By Polygamists Find New Help - The arithmetic of polygamy creates a problem. If a man is supposed to have four wives, and if the birthrate is 50/50 male/female, then what do the three males who are shut out of the marriage market do? Not something we think about every day in New Jersey, but the numbers don't lie - it's a serious problem. In the fundamentalist LDS sect run by Warren S. Jeffs the unlucky extra males are selected, ejected and shunned as teens, usually on the basis of a pretext that makes the kids believe they are doomed to eternal damnation. Ejection also creates some immediate problems, like loss of family, food, clothing and shelter. The families, even many of the male teen victims, remain true believers in Mr. Jeffs' vision. To the non-believer the power of faith and 24/7/365 conditioning is amazing. With this kind of hold on his sect, it's surprising Jeff's doesn't turn the extra males into a militia of suicide bombers. No wife for you in this life, but if you take out an IRS agent or a Federal Marshall you'll find forty virgins when you get to heaven. Fortunately Mr. Jeffs is about to stand trial on charges of sexual exploitation, but watch for the bachelor militia angle in the season finale of Big Love.

Finally, even the Times does not understand it's own general approach to headline capitalization. The notion that any rule applies seems to be a massive oversimplification perpetrated by the naive here at As Good As News. In the polygamy story headline, "By" is capitalized in the hard copy, but not on line. Since a preposition should not be capitalized in the "rule" As Good As News derived by observation, this may be a simple correction. Maybe the e-crew took the opportunity to fix a mistake that slipped by the hard copy gang working on deadline. I think it's actually a sinister plot to drive me nuts.

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