The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Stick to Football TMQ 

Normally I enjoy reading Tuesday Morning Quarterback. He used to be featured on ESPN as part of Page 2, but last year they dropped him. Now he's a featured column on NFL.com. When he talks about football, he's pretty funny and generally hits a lot of good points, and is overall a great read (especially his weekly cheerleader profile). That's why his column is so popular. Gregg Easterbrook's problem (which plagued him on ESPN.com and could have lead to his demise there) is that he can't just talk about football. The man just can't resist throwing in his political two cents, even when it has absolutely no connection whatsoever to football. For some reason this is something that popular people love to do. What's the thinking there? If I like your football commentary then I'll love your opinions on the U.N., as if they're somehow related?

It's not like he doesn't have other outlets for his political thinking. He's also a contributor to The New Republic and The Atlantic Monthly. Why not contain your political thought to those publications, where your readership not only expects, but desires those opinions?

So let's take a look at the latest political diatribe that Gregg thought was appropriate for TMQ:

Sometime this autumn the last Titan rocket will thunder off a pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, make an earth-shaking noise, become a small bright dot at the top of the sky and, finally, disappear. After the final Titan roars toward the ocean of space where human destiny may lie, the American rockets of the 1960s "Moon Race" era will be no more. On Sept. 19, NASA announced an initiative to build new flight hardware to carry Americans back to the Moon; the Titan is the only rocket still in use that took part in the 1960s Apollo program.

Well... he is talking about Titans... but not the football team. Hell, he doesn't even throw us a bone and make some sort of off hand connection between the rocket and the team for God's sake. But fine, it is a nice piece of nostalgic trivia, and fairly harmless.

To match this nostalgic rocket news, here is wonderful news regarding the end of a military missile. Yesterday, the Air Force deactivated the final Peacekeeper. Peacekeeper ICBMs, also known as the MX, carry 10 nuclear warheads. No object ever made by human hands is more horrible than a Peacekeeper, because it holds so many warheads (most ICBMs carry one to three) and because its extreme power created a risk the other side would "first-strike" in order to destroy these hellhounds in their silos. With treaties signed in Moscow by presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both sides agreed to deactivate their most powerful missiles.

Gotcha. Nuclear weapons are bad, and now the most destructive of them are finally on the scrap heap. Good news. Hey Gregg... do you realize that in a column that's supposed to be about football, you haven't even mentioned the sport so far after 3 rather long paragraphs? Just thought I'd point that out.

Alright. So after his rockets and red nuclear glare monologue, he finally got to what we wanted. Excellent. Oh... but there was more as we found out later. This was actually pretty classic. Gregg first goes on about a U.N. summit on poor nations, and how we need to donate more money:

Last week in New York, some 150 heads of state gathered for a summit to encourage the nations of the West to donate more aid to the impoverished of the developing world. Western nations should, in fact, increase the aid they give. Relatively small amounts by Western standards go a long way toward reducing human suffering in the world. And though corruption is an obvious problem, Western aid has accomplished far more for average people in developing nations than is generally understood. The details of that argument are here. The short version is that the reason the predicted Malthusian catastrophes have not struck developing nations is that aid helped prevent them. More, United States spending on foreign aid is much lower than popularly imaged -- only about one half of one percent of the federal budget is used for this purpose. We ought to give more.

Then in the very next paragraph he points out that:

But yours truly read in the New York Times that the influx of foreign leaders for the conference had flooded Manhattan's luxury hotels. The Four Seasons, where a deluxe suite costs $2,950 nightly plus tax, and the cheapest room is $625, was fully booked with foreign officials coming to New York to hector the United States for not giving more to other nations. At the Waldorf Towers, where a "grand" suite with dining room and boudoir costs $3,000 nightly, all 26 suites were booked by foreign delegations. Set aside were many of the super-expensive rooms were being occupied by government officials of the very nations needing aid -- that is, by leaders who are busily robbing their own people while asking America to pony up. I simply wonder how many millions of dollars were spent on luxury suites, first-class travel and four-star meals for 150 heads of state and their staffs to come together and wring their hands about why doesn't someone else do more about poverty! Instead of spending that money on themselves, the officials who attended last week's United Nations meeting could have stayed home and given the money to the poor.

Somehow, he never seems to be able to draw the obvious conclusion here. Why should we donate more to these countries if those governments will abuse that money, and waste it? Seriously Gregg. You were so close to drawing that conclusion which was just staring you in the face, but you dropped the pass. If you can touch it, you can catch it as I like to say. They waste the money, and it will never actually get to the poor people, but we should still give more? Gotcha.

You can read the rest of this week's TMQ for the whole thing, including him patting himself on the back for predicting Gillette's five blade razor. I understand his excitement over the accuracy of his crystal ball... but honestly, do you have to spend four paragraphs on it? Do you have an editor?

I'm not saying that he's not entitled to his opinions. Of course he is. I just find it rather inappropriate, and downright annoying that he decides to take up so much space on a football column with them, especially when he has other more appropriate outlets. Here's a helpful hint Gregg. When you write for NFL.com, its best if you actually mostly cover... you know... the NFL.

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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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