Friday, June 30, 2006

World Cup Buzz 

From some of the same guys who bring you Florida College Sports Blog -- World Cup USA 2006.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

WC Quarter Finals Predictions 

No push-overs left, but I still have questions about some teams.

Argentina over Germany, 2 - 1. This may turn out to be the best match in the World Cup -- two very talented, well-coached and capable teams. Could go either way, but I like the Gouchos just a little bit more. I wouldn't be surprised if this game went into overtime.

Ukraine over Italy, 1 - 0. Am I "punishing" Italy for what I consider an undeserved win against Australia? I don't think so. The Uke's can play the same sort of game the Aussies did, and I doubt the refs will give Italy any breaks this time around.

England over Portugal, 1 - 0. I could easily justify a Portuguese victory, but England has plenty of talent and seem content to use just enough of that talent to keep advancing. The deciding factor: Costinha and Deco will be sitting on the bench.

Brazil over France, 2 - 0. In spite of their performance against Spain, I don't think France is up to beating Brazil. Spain may not have been a strong as was thought, and I think the Brazilians are getting in the rhythm of things. Only question is the availabilty of Kaka and Emerson for Brazil.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On to the Quarter Finals 

I got two out of the final four second round games correct, missing out on France's victory over Spain (I had worried that Spain had no real competition in the first round and may not be as good as their record indicated, but failed to take my own reservations seriously)and Ukraine's win over the Swiss. In the latter match, the Swiss played a horrible game -- seemingly unable to avoid giving the ball away, time after time. And the Swiss cannot make a single goal in the shootout? They didn't deserve to win that game.

After seeing numerous replays of the foul called on Neill that allowed Italy to beat Australia on a last seconds PK, and I still don't believe it warranted a call by the ref. But the decision had to be made right then and there, so there's no going back.

Brazil is looking stronger with every game -- I think they have the best odds of any single team at this point to make the championship game.

My total prediction count now stands at 30 - 15 - 11.

Quarter final predictions tomorrow.

Monday, June 26, 2006

WC Second Round Continues 

Well, I was correct on three of the four matches played Saturday and Sunday, missing only on the Portugal-Netherlands match. It was unfortunate that so many cards were given in that game -- not that the players didn't deserve many of them, but rather that the referee didn't manage the game better early on, so that many of the cards could have been avoided. As it is, Portugal will be going into their next game at less than full strength.

The Argentina-Mexico game gets my vote as the most exciting match to date, and Beckham's set-piece goal against Ecuador was a thing of beauty.

Predictions for Monday and Tuesday matches:

Italy over Australia, 2 - 0. If the Aussies were to win this game it would rank as one of the biggest upsets in WC history. I don't think they have much of a chance to do that -- the Italian side is better all around.

Switzerland over Ukraine, 1 - 0. I think the Swiss may be the most technically skillful side at the WC -- they are not overpowering, but they rarely make mistakes. In many ways, the Ukraines are just the opposite. I go with skill over power.

Brazil over Ghana, 3 - 1. The Brazilians continue their march to the finals. Ghana has a strong defense, but they haven't played a team as talented as Brazil before.

Spain over France, 1 - 0. This is a tough one. Spain won all their games in group play, albeit against relatively weak opponents. France, on the other hand, one only one game, but didn't lose any against much stronger foes.

Of course what we're all waiting for is Friday's match -- Germany vs. Argentina. One of these two teams should end up in finals.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Second Round Begins 

A perfect 4 - 0 for Friday, but that hardly makes up for the mistakes of the previous days. In any case, I end the first round with a prediction score of 25 - 12 - 11.

Predictions for the first games of the second round:

Germany over Sweden, 1 - 0. Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic returns, but will he be 100 per cent for this game? The difference will be German forward Miroslav Klose, who had 4 goals in the first round.

Argentina over Mexico, 3 - 1. Mexico limped through to the second round while the Argentines sailed in. I originally though the Mexicans would get better as they progressed, but they haven't shown that -- just the opposite, in fact.

England over Ecuador, 1 - 0. No Michael Owen, but Peter Crouch should be able to step in and take up the slack. The English will have to do better than they have in the first round, but Ecuador's poor performance against Germany leads me to believe they won't win unless the English take them too lightly.

Netherlands over Portugal, 2 - 1. I like the Dutch to win this game -- they're young but with veterans at key positions such as goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar. The jury is still out on Portugal, as it had one of the easier routes to the second round.

First Round Closes Out 

First of all, very disappointing performance by the USA. The PK call was suspect, but you can't use that as an excuse -- despite good play against Italy, the Americans never showed that they belonged among the world's 16 best teams.

Thank god I haven't been betting any money on the World Cup games, because I would probably be broke by now. Of the eight games played Wednesday and Thursday, I got just two of them right -- Italy beating the Czechs, and Brazil's victory over Japan.

Actually, most of the other games were fairly close and could have gone another way. Nevertheless, I was 2 - 3 - 3 for the past two days, bringing the total so far to 21 - 12 - 11.

Predictions for today's games that close out the first round:

Spain over Saudi Arabia, 3 - 0. Spain's convincing win over Ukraine makes me think they are for real.

Ukraine over Tunisia, 2 - 1. Assuming Spain beats the Saudis, Ukraine can move on with a win in this game (on the other hand, so can Tunisia, but I don't think it will happen).

France over Togo, 1 - 0. Togo's going home no matter what happens in this game. France, on the other hand can move on with a win and some luck.

Switzerland over Korea, 1 - 0. Korea needs a win to guarantee a second round berth (if Togo beats France, they'll get it anyway). The Swiss play a skillful game that I think will thwart the Koreans.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

World Cup: Round One Winners Emerge 

After correctly predicting the winner of Monday's three games, I didn't get a single one of Tuesday's matches right. Admittedly, I went out on a limb looking for several upsets (and, perhaps, looking for a way that Trinidad & Tobago might make it to the second round), but I really thought England would do better against Sweden.

Predictions for Monday & Tuesday: 3 - 3 - 1. Total so far: 19 - 9 - 8.

Looking ahead to Wednesday & Thursday games:

Angola over Iran, 1 - 0. The Angola team hasn't scored yet, but they haven't allowed a lot of scoring, either. Plus, Angola has more to play for as a big victory over Iran coupled with a win by Portugal could let them slip into the second round.

Mexico over Portugal, 2 - 1. I still believe that Mexico is a better team than they've showed so far. Maybe this is the game they put it together and move on (prediction made with heart as much as head).

Serbia over Cote de Ivore, 1 - 0. Both teams are going home after this game no matter what happens on the pitch. I say Serbia is motivated to put Argentina's spanking behind them.

Argentina over Netherlands, 3 - 1. Argentina is building up steam; I don't see the Dutch being able to keep up with them.

USA over Ghana, 1 - 0. A close game made more difficult with many starters sitting out. In the end, the Americans have a stronger bench.

Italy over Czech Republic, 2 - 1. Which Czech team will show up -- Americans hope it is the one that was held scoreless by Ghana. Doesn't matter, Italy is a better team.

Australia over Croatia, 1 - 0. The Croatians have played tough in both of its previous games, but I've been impressed with the Aussie's poise and strength. It will be a tough match, as the loser will go home. The danger for the down-under boys is playing too conservatively; even through they can advance with a tie, they cannot afford to play for one.

Brazil over Japan, 3 - 0. Brazil has not played up to its reputation, but then again, they haven't had to. They won't in this game, either.

White Hot 

Congratulations to the Miami Heat, who won their first NBA championship and validated Pat Riley's player and personnel decisions over the past several years.

Monday, June 19, 2006

World Cup -- Who Moves On? 

Three draws screwed up my predictions for the weekend, giving me with a 2 wins, one defeat and 3 ties. Total for the WC so far, 16 - 6 - 7.

My worst picks, involved two teams that I though would win big -- the Czechs and Croatia -- but failed to score. The Croatians haven't scored in the WC yet (one the other hand, they've only allowed a single goal -- by Brazil). Don't know what to make of the Czechs; maybe the USA was even worse than we thought in the opener.

USA-Italy game was exciting and puts the Americans in a good position to move on. I'm still not all that sure that either Mastroeni or Pope deserved red cards, although I think it was just a matter of time before Pope was gone from the game with a second yellow.

Predictions for Monday & Tuesday:

Switzerland over Togo, 1 - 0. Togo played at lot better than I expected in its opener, but I think the Swiss are just a little too skilled for them.

Ukraine over Saudi Arabia, 1 - 0. The Saudis have not won a WC game since 1994 and the Ukrainians have never been in the WC before. I see the Uke's getting their first victory in a physical match.

Spain over Tunsia, 3 - 0. Spain hopes to cast off the underperforming tag and move to the second round; they are not going to be derailed by Tunsia.

Costa Rica over Poland, 2 - 1. Based on comparable score, the Poles should win this game, but they haven't scored at all yet, and I think the CR's will take this one.

Ecuador over Germany, 2 - 1. Ecuador hasn't been scored on yet, and Germany's keeper(s) are suspect. I look for what many people will see as an upset.

England over Sweden, 1 - 0. One team will have to score (probably in the waning minutes). England has the players to win -- assuming they are willing to perform.

Trinidad & Tobago over Paraguay, 1 - 0. The fan favorites finish the first round with a victory and, depending on how Sweden does against the English, could go on to the second round.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Friday's Results & Weekend Predictions 

I really thought I would get them all right -- but had to settle for 2 wins and a tie. This brings my total to 14-5-4.

I wasn't able to watch the Mexico-Angola game, but I suspect Angola's close game with Portugal wasn't a fluke; and perhaps Mexico was looking ahead to the game against Portugal.

I certainly agree with the announcers that Serbia's performance was a disgrace. Argentina looked like it was playing against a high school team.

Saturday & Sunday Predictions:

Portugal over Iran, 2 - 0. Portuguese are motivated; a victory will move them on.

Czechs over Ghana, 3 - 1. I'm assuming that the Czechs beat the Americans because they had a good team; certainly better than Ghana.

Italy over USA, 2 - 1. American team has been exposed; they will play better than in the opener, but they will be playing a better team.

Croatia over Japan, 3 - 0. If you can't beat the Aussies, you can't beat the Croatians.

Brazil over Australia, 3 - 1. Welcome to real futball, mates.

France over Korea, 1 - 0. French pride is at stake -- I think they can muster up one goal.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

World Cup - Now it's Getting Interesting. 

Results for Wednesday & Thursday predictions: 4 - 1 - 1. Total so far, 12 - 5 - 3.

Biggest goof was Spain vs. Ukraine. Even thought England beat T & T by two goals, I consider my prediction a moral victory -- they did no more than they had to for a win. Sweden's win wasn't much better (in fact, it wasn't better at all). I wasn't far off on the other games.

Predictions for Friday's games:

Argentina over Serbia, 3-0. The gouchos are looking to go all the way (I don't think they will, however) and are not going to be sidetracked by the Serbs -- plus, they can't risk having to have everything rest on beating Holland.

Netherlands over Cote de Ivore, 1-0. The African teams are proving to be dangerous, but not dangerous enough. If the Dutch win this game (and Argentina their's) the next game is meaningless.

Mexico over Angola, 2-1. Same as above, but I think Mexico is going to get stronger as they move forward and should sweep Group D.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Do Unto Others . . . 

Despite the best efforts of Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, et. al., to turn religion into a mean-spirited political movement, true Christians still exist -- Jacqueline Dowd found them in Kentucky.

WC Predictions for Weds. & Thurs. 

I was 3 - 2 - 1 in my Monday & Tuesday predictions. Total so far 8 - 4 - 2.

Obviously my biggest goof was the USA-Czech match -- a major disappointment. Best call was Italy 2-0 over Ghana (although my prediction of a 1-0 Swiss victory over the French nearly came to pass, so the draw was a moral victory).

Predictions for Wednesday and Thursday games:

Ukraine over Spain, 1 - 0. Spain, like France, is on the downhill slide and I think Ukraine's Andrii Shevchenko will be the difference in this game.

Tunisia over Saudi Arabia, 2 - 1. I'm going with Tunisia only because of Brazilian-born Francileudo Dos Santos.

Germany over Poland, 3 - 1. The Germans will continue their march to the semi-finals, at least.

Ecuador over Costa Rica, 2 - 1. This could go either way, but Ecuador will move on with another big performance from Agustin Delgado.

England over Trinidad & Tobago, 1 - 0. Once again, the Brits will do just enough to win.

Sweden over Paraguay, 2 - 0. The Swedes have to score on some of their shots, don't they?

(Stupid math mistake corrected, 6-15-06)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

World Cup Weekend, and a Look Ahead 

For the first three days of World Cup play, I am 5 - 2 - 1 on predictions.

I missed completely on the Poland - Ecuador match, and my long-shot prediction of an Angola upset of Portugal failed to materialize (although I claim somewhat of a moral victory in that Angola kept the game closer than was expected -- or perhaps it was the Portuguese who kept it so close).

The Sweden - Trinidad & Tobago game was one of the more exciting matches, albeit poorly played by Sweden. I can't find the stats right now, but the Swedes outshot the T&T's by a factor of about five and still couldn't put one in the back of the net.

My on-the-mark call of the England - Paraguay match will give me comfort as the games go on. If the English could put it all together they could go all the way, but they are like the student whose report card contains the comment "not working up to potential." I am looking forward to an England - Argentina match, though.

Predictions for Monday & Tuesday Games:

Japan over Australia, 1 - 0. I know next to nothing about the Aussies, but Japan has been to the WC before, so I'll give them the nod.

USA over Czech Republic, 2 - 1. Maybe the best matched teams so far -- I would predict a tie if it didn't seem like a cop-out. In the end, the American's scoring ability should allow a narrow victory.

Italy over Ghana, 2 - 0. Several of the Black Stars play in the Italian Serie A league, but I don't think their defense can handle the Italians.

South Korea over Togo, 3 - 1. I don't know who will be coaching Togo; Schaefer said he might come back, but how will all this affect the team. SK made it to the semi-finals last time, and shouldn't be underestimated, but this is a different venue.

Switzerland over France, 1 - 0. A young Swiss team surprises a team that is past its prime.

Brazil over Croatia, 3 - 0. The Croatians' defense is suspect and they will be missing their star forward, Ivica Olic. They will be playing to keep the game close, hoping for low-scoring tie -- just the type of team the Brazilians feast on.

Friday, June 09, 2006

WC Predictions 

World Cup time -- one of my favorite sporting events.

Predictions for this weekend's games:

Germany over Coast Rica, 4-0 as Germany warms up
Poland over Ecuador, 2-1
England over Paraguay, 1-0 with the Brits underperforming
Sweden over Trinidad & Tobago, 6-1 as the T&T's get a first taste of WC play
Argentina over Cote de Ivore, 4-1
Netherlands over Serbia, 3-1
Mexico over Iran, 2-0
Angola over Portugal, 2-1 in an upset by the former colony

Of course I could be wrong.

Revising History 

Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory links to an L.A. Times column by historian Jonathan Zimmerman on Florida's war on historical revisionism.
[S]hortly after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, President Bush attacked "revisionist historians" who questioned his justifications for using force against Saddam Hussein. He did it again on Veterans Day in 2005. "It is deeply irresponsible," he declared, "to rewrite the history of how the war began."

And just last week, in an unprecedented move, the president's brother approved a law barring revisionist history in Florida public schools. "The history of the United States shall be taught as genuine history and shall not follow the revisionist or postmodernist viewpoints of relative truth," declares Florida's Education Omnibus Bill, signed by Gov. Jeb Bush. "American history shall be viewed as factual, not as constructed."

Ironically, the Florida law is itself revisionist history.
If actually followed, it would require America's past to be taught as a series of events, with no interpretation as to cause, significance or lasting effect.

In other words, not history at all.

What a Sport 

Well, the Heat are down one in the NBA Finals, but they were down after the first game in the Eastern Conference Championship and came back strong.

If all else fails, the Heat can call on Bob Norman -- who in a rambling post on the meanies in professional sports asserts that coaches in the NBA are overrated: "And I'’ll tell you this. I could win with D-Wade and Shaq."

Not unless you get back on your meds, Bob.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

MiMo Historic District 

Miami has a new historic district:
Miami's historic preservation board on Tuesday [June 6, 2006] unanimously approved a new historic district that will protect a store house of 1950s motels and other Miami Modern buildings along nearly 30 blocks of Biscayne Boulevard.

The new district includes more than 50 architecturally significant buildings, including examples of Art Deco and Mediterranean Revival. But it is characterized mainly by MiMo-post World War II architecture that has recently come back into vogue. Proponents say it is a district unique to Miami that could some day become a tourist draw to rival Miami Beach.

The 7-0 vote came despite vocal opposition from some property owners, who fear designation would restrict their ability to profit from their holdings.
(from the Miami Herald)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Not on the FCAT 

The recently passed and signed Florida Education Omnibus Bill contains the following provision:
Any student whose parent makes written request to the
school principal shall be exempted from the teaching of
reproductive health or any disease, including HIV/AIDS, its
symptoms, development, and treatment. A student so exempted may
not be penalized by reason of that exemption. Course
descriptions for comprehensive health education shall not
interfere with the local determination of appropriate curriculum
which reflects local values and concerns.
Now I could see this if it related to elementary students, but this allows high school seniors to be exempted based on what?

And "any disease?" Measles? Diabetes?

Spinning Like a Top 

It's been posted in quite a few places on the web, but it should be noted again:
Bill O'Reilly: And in Malmedy, as you know, U.S. forces captured S.S. forces, who had their hands in the air. And they were unarmed. And they shot them down. You know that. That's on the record. Been documented.
When called on the mistake, O'Reilly tried to weasel out of it by asserting that he was essentially correct, but meant after Malmedy. No proof offered and no apology to the relatives of the U.S. troops who were gunned down by the Nazis at Malmedy.

Just in case you're stupid enough to think that O'Reilly could have been correct, or it was just a slip of the tongue about an obscure occurrence, you may want to visit this site.

Major Change 

Perhaps my family is the exception, but even in college we weren't sure what we wanted to study. I had two majors, my wife had three, my daughter had two and my son two, so far.

I don't consider this a problem as college is where you have an opportunity to see what major "fits" you. Besides, if you go to a large university there will be majors that you have never even heard of before.

Governor Bush and the Florida Legislature think that is waiting too late. Beginning next year for ninth graders (14-year-olds), high school students will have make up their minds:
The law requires every high school student to choose a "major area of interest" and take four yearlong courses in the subject, starting with the students who begin ninth grade in fall 2007.
Currently there are a number of magnet schools that specialize in particular fields of study, such as international business or marine biology. Perhaps the state should do a study of how many of the students who opted for these magnet schools continued on with the schools' "majors" following graduation before pushing it on all students.

I'm willing to believe the Governor is sincere in thinking this is something worthwhile, but it sure does look like all show and no substance.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

But Who has the Knives in Their Hands? 

It seems that in preparation for something much less than the promised victory, some of the remaining war supporters are preparing the ground for a "stabbed in the back" explanation.

Pat Lang reminds us this has been tried before.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

There Must be an Explanation 

Andrew Sullivan can't figure out why the Bush Administration has so badly screwed up the Iraq War:
There has always been a military solution to Iraq. There still is . . . It just required resources to achieve it, to pacify a post-totalitarian society, provide order and the context in which politics can happen. The American public would have approved the resources necessary, and made sacrifices if asked. And yet Bush has deliberately and by conscious choice allowed anarchy and terror to decimate Iraqi civil society. None of this helps the war; and none of it helps him. There are many times when I am simply baffled by the whole farce. Is he this stupid? Is he this blind? Or was this never a serious venture? Did Cheney and Rumsfeld never want to build a democracy in Iraq, just reduce it to rubble and chaos, while ensuring that Saddam could get no WMDs? Even now, I have no idea. But something here doesn't add up. Incompetence doesn't quite capture the enormity of the failure or the incoherence of the project. And so we stagger on, desperate for hope, but forced to confront the worst-managed war since Vietnam. Except the stakes are far, far higher than Vietnam. And the consequences of failure close to existential. I know that in part because Bush keeps telling us. Is he lying? Or is he just drowning in a job that he is simply unable to do?
Too bad he didn't ponder these questions earlier.

Who Benefits? 

Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo writes that he has received over 100 messages regarding Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle's comments on affordable housing (short version: Quit complaining and get to work).

Unfortunately, most of the responses seem to be either a) Naugle doesn't understand the situation, or b) "I work three jobs and still can't afford to own a home." A few other assert that Naugle is a jerk, whether or not he is technically correct in his assessment of affordable housing.

These arguments miss the point. The Mayor wants to let the market fix the situation -- and in the long run that might happen, but currently the market is broken. Wages don't adjust as quickly as the housing market.

Moreover, both Naugle and his detractors are looking at the wrong reason that affordable housing is important. We need affordable housing because it is good for the community, both economically and socially. In other words, it's not all about the recipients, its about all of us.

Right now, many people are finding it almost impossible to purchase a home in Broward County. We often hear about "teacher, police and firefighters," because these professions "sell" well. But there are others, whether they are young couples, retirees, blue collar families or service industry workers, that are in this dilemma -- stay or move?

But we don't want them to move -- they are our parents and children; our waiters and lawn workers; our prison guards and parking attendants.

Lack of affordable housing effects businesses as well as people. Many companies are finding it increasingly difficult to attract employees; wages here are not high enough to offset the high cost of housing.

So it is about individuals, but more so about community. If all we do is worry about who is deserving of affordable housing, we are worrying about the wrong thing -- the "I got mine, now you get your's" attitude won't solve the larger problem of sustaining an economically-viable and livable community.

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