Getting the fact checks right

A couple of things are just irking me with this 2012 election coverage across the board. Mainly the fact checks. There’s a propensity to hedge on the truth, and that’s like a tick in my pants. It’s just bugging the crap out of me.

Here’s something I posted to Facebook earlier today:

I absolutely despise all of these fact checks that do not begin or end with true or false. Don’t give me a long explanation on the murkiness of the statement. It does me no good if there is no judgment on the veracity of the statement in question. And to help all those fact-checkers out there, if it’s only half true, it’s false. Boom. Simple. To the point. Stop wedging the truth and stop muddying up the issues by not being clear and direct. We have enough liars we have to deal with outside of the media for that.

Of course, somebody disagreed with me. That’s OK. I respect that and welcome healthy debates. But the argument presented was basically that there are shades of gray for issues, which is understandable. But I’m much more black and white. Here was my response:

Obviously I disagree with you ——. If something is partly true, but not fully flushed out, that’s one thing. But if a statement is built on a false premise, or otherwise murky in its setup, it’s simply false. All the nuance can go in the explanations we’re getting. But judgements still need to be handed down, especially if we’re calling them fact checks. Otherwise, it’s just analysis. There’s a place for that.

So I’ll leave that at that.

But here’s another thing: what’s up with these fact checkers using the phrase: “not entirely accurate” or “not entirely factual.” Picking on the word “accurate,” I literally (like my play on words there?) had to look it up to make sure I can be properly incredulous about the phrase’s idiocy.

  • Dictionary.com’s definition – free from error or defect; consistent with a standard, rule, or model; precise; exact.
  • Webster’s definition – free from error especially as the result of care; conforming exactly to truth or to a standard.
  • American Heritage’s definition – Conforming exactly to fact; errorless.

So the phrase “entirely accurate” is actually very stupid, because if anything were to be accurate, then by its very definition that would be in its entirety, whatever “it” is. And furthermore, to use the phrase that something isn’t “entirely accurate” is an unnecessary use of an extra word to mask what is being conveyed. Instead, be clear and direct: It is not accurate.

That is all.

Not an expert by any means

Japan's players celebrate with the World Cup trophy after winning the final against the United States in Frankfurt, Germany. (Michael Probst / AP photo)

Did you see the World Cup final? Japan, victorious and smitten with their World Cup trophy above, beat out the Americans in an amazing match of wills and endurance. It was very enjoyable game. The US dropped its first three penalty kicks as Japan nailed three out of four to clinch the win.

But if you asked me to break it down for you — the game play, that is — I’d look like a moron.

Here’s the thing: I’ve covered a few hundred soccer games. Tons in high school and college; and now a handful of pro games. I’ve probably watched a ton more. But I’ll never consider myself an expert of the beautiful game. I am a casual fan, not much more. If you were to start a conversation about soccer strategy, soccer rules, or anything of the sort, it’ll likely just hurt my head. I’m that kind of fan.
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My Top 10 best adult cartoons ever

Every now and then I have to jot my thoughts down in list form. It seems like it was only a matter of time before I started answering the big questions in life: Who is the greatest TV wing man of all-time? Why can’t dramas make it through a full season before being canceled? And what are the best adult cartoons ever?

I can’t answer all of those questions. I have to see how Ashton Kutcher performs on the revamped Two and a Half Men first. But in the interim, I can take a crack at at least one of them. So here, counting backward, is my Top 10 list of adult cartoons all-time.

10. Ren and Stimpy (Nickelodeon) — Dark, twisted and often tinged with homosexual influences, it was a shock it lasted as long as it did on Nickelodeon before moving to Spike and MTV and finally being removed from the air after delving into more and more questionable topics. The one thing that sticks with me all these years after the show’s cancellation is Ren freaking out and yelling his patented line, “You idiot!!!!!” Love it.

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Is San Francisco a baseball city?

At Jazzfest in San Francisco, Giants fans were showing their love in ways that they've never done before.
Is there any argument to the notion that Boston is a baseball town? With a legion of Red Sox fans — an overwhelming number of which can be categorized as diehard — there is little competition. Even with the dynamic of a Stanley Cup title in tow, I doubt the scales have tipped in hockey’s favor.

But in San Francisco, last season’s World Series title has created a shift in what was most definitely a football city. It’s fair to say that the reign of Alex Smith has destroyed any semblance of the golden years for the 49ers. And the reign of Tim Lincecum — and before that Barry Bonds — has given the Bay Area a sense of unbridled success that none of the five other professional sports teams has provided in a long time.

It’s hard to characterize it completely, but with the 49ers’ playoff drought so long and the depths of its porous play so low, you’d think the fervor over the red and gold would waver. That’s not the case. But the overriding feeling is that the 49ers have become a hopeless franchise — one that is habitually one or two pieces away from being complete. However, for the Giants — who havn’t been stacked with talent through the lineup in generations — the fervor over the G-Men has risen past the dominating football fandom. Casual baseball fans now count themselves among the diehards. Transplants to the city now claim the Giants as their team. It’s all topsy turvy in a city that has a changing culture and changing demographics.

Nothing about San Francisco sports is the same as it was 10 years ago. Steve Mariucci was still in town. Terrell Owens, too. The Warriors didn’t have an identifiable league star. The Raiders were Super Bowl contenders. The Giants were on the cusp of the playoffs. But everything revolved around the 49ers. Not until 2002 did the Giants steal a bit of the limelight with its first World Series trip since with Bay Bridge series in 1989. Barry Bonds followed that up with the home run chase.

The only blip on the Bay Area sports timeline that surpassed the interest of the 49ers and Giants in that time was the Warriors’ 2007 playoff run. The excitement over their series win over the Dallas Mavericks reverberated throughout Northern California — speaking volumes about the need for a viable basketball team. But it was quickly forgotten with the dismantling of the team, starting with one of its core players in Jason Richardson.

(On a side note: Remember Monta Ellis being a super sixth man on that team? Good times.)

The last time the 49ers went to the playoffs was 2002. Their last Super Bowl win was in 1994. For the diehards, it has been an eternity. For the casual fan, it’s been an opportunity to divert their attention to the region’s better team: The Giants.

A whole generation of young fans in the Bay are growing up on the success of the Giants and will know nothing of the 49ers’ glory years. Specifically the kids, who are always the lifeblood of new fans, don’t know that in the last 30 years the 49ers went to the playoffs 18 times. That’s because those playoff trips were within a 22-year time span starting in 1980. (Before last year’s World Series win, the Giants’ previous playoff trip was in 2003. They’ve been to the playoffs 7 times in the last 23 years.) That generational shift in fan favor, coupled with the casual observers and the transplants to boot, are painting a new picture in San Francisco. A picture in black and orange.

So while pessimism and angst are sorely ingrained in the conversation about the 49ers — who are expected to do well in San Francisco — optimism and cheer reverberate around the Giants. The two are polar opposites of where they were just a decade ago.


The Canadian view of Boston

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — I spent a weekend in Vancouver talking to Canucks fans before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final to see what they thought of Boston and to get their predictions on the series. All of these people knew what was what. And they said it anyways.

Highlights from the last week

Carl Crawford
Carl Crawford is congratulated after hitting his first home run of the season Sunday. (AP photo)

If you pay attention to such things, for the last week the most recent post on my site has been about the 2-9 Red Sox. Trust me when I say I’m acutely aware of the shelf life of such posts and understand how stale a site can look if not updated regularly. I do, however, have a day job. And, thankfully, a nightlife.

(It’s actually been 12 days since my last post. Almost two whole weeks.)

So in the last week and a half, the Red Sox started a pretty good streak. They went 8-2 since my last post and are now sporting a 10-11 record. The bellyaching that was so prevalent in their 2-9 start has subsided and what’s mostly heard is a low howl of dissatisfaction for particular players. Through 20 games, the nation is starting to form its opinion about select members of the laundry and I believe rightfully so.

So it’s without any surprise that those receiving the brunt of criticism are those that are still struggling, i.e. Carl Crawford, Marco Scutaro and even Daisuke Matsuzaka.

In the last few games, it was nice to see Crawford get his first jack and Dice-K to dazzle teams with not one, but two one-hit performances. (He was, as he said to the Globe, motivated by losing his spot in the rotation.) This stretch has been representative of the roller coaster of an MLB season. That’s always worth noting. I’m sure, in no time at all, the Sox will go through another stretch of poor pitching and hitting and losing. I just hope the general public (read: Massholes) doesn’t treat the losses like they’re football losses. It’s not that big of a deal.

Otherwise

In between time, we’ve watched the Boston Bruins (yes, that’s hockey) turn an 0-2 series deficit into a 3-2 lead against the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL playoffs, the Celtics have swept the New York Knicks in the NBA playoffs and the Boston Marathon was played out suspensefully as an American woman vied for the win finishing second and a course record was broken in the men’s race. A ton of time and resources at Boston.com and the Globe have been dedicated to covering all of these events.

That’s the 3-minute recap. The devil, as they say, is in the details.

Creepy men need a pick me up

JenMac looking frazzled in Copley Square in the heart of Boston. Together, we're going to help creepy men.

So I was hanging out with JenMac the other day in Boston and we ended up on a conversation about the lack of properly aggressive male suitors for women. Her issue was two-fold: Guys are pansies. And those that aren’t, are creepy.

To the latter I laughed. While I’ll readily admit that that there are some approachability issues men have, being confident and sure of oneself doesn’t make a man an automatic creep.

But she kept coming back to one lame anecdote after another about these guys using pickup lines — most of which you heard in the 90s — and basically how they all caused some sort of gag reflex.

This trend is disturbing to me. Have we really regressed as a gender back to pickup lines? Or are these the same men that have been spouting this stuff since Bill Bellamy epitomized the “player” in 1997? Maybe even further back than that.

Quick reminder: It’s 2010.
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Say anything

John Cusack said it best. Or, then again, he didn't. I should probably see the movie again.
Dear reader,

I’ve told you once or twice about doing this or that. You were with me from my days in Chico, to Grass Valley / Nevada City, and now Boston. You read my thoughts when I had writer’s block, and you read them again when I ranted about the deliriously idiotic of the sporting universe.

You’ve been a good friend.

So, there’s this weird thing that I was wondering about wondering (say that five times fast). As much as I tell you about what I want to do, where I’m going, and the thoughts and happenings of my world, there has to be some sort of stop in this ever-going conversation where you say your piece. (Are you even there some days?) According to my traffic reports, there’s a loyal group of you.

So, say something. Tell me what your website is. Tell me how things have been going. Tell me about the changes in your life, big and small. Tell me what makes you happy. And then, tell me how you’re going to stay happy. Say something already!

Say anything.

What is vacation supposed to look like?

At the age of 12, my last real summer vacation came to a close. It was blissful because I did absolutely nothing important and went absolutely nowhere. I just hung around the house and played hoops and video games in my free time.

One year later, I started four straight years (all of high school) of summer school. And because I was always industrious, I worked every summer as well from then on. I’ve been a busy body for more than a decade now, getting time off in spurts rather than extended periods. I’m more likely to have a long weekend than take two weeks off in row. Two weeks is an unlikely blessing.

Today, the idea of summer vacation itself is so passé to my peers and grownups in general. It’s limited to only 10 days for the average American, usually including some expensive vacation and requiring prior notice to an employer which may or may not include getting permission to take the actual time off. For the lucky few of us, a month’s worth of vacay time is still possible. However, using all of that time in one solid block is almost universally frowned upon.
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LeBronapalooza

What will he do?

Everything about this 1-hour “decision” special isn’t terrible. I won’t go so far as to say that. But I will say that in its current design, it is of poor taste. There are a couple of reasons for this.

  1. ESPN should not have ceded its advertising spots to LeBron James.
  2. James, pending his exodus, is pissing on the citizenry of his hometown.

It really is outrageous that ESPN has surrendered some journalistic integrity in order to secure exclusivity with James. Only because surrendering their advertising spots, this can be seen as a sort of pay-to-play situation. And that’s really what it is. It’s the equivalent of Paul Pierce coming to the Boston Globe, telling us he wants to blog, then asking for all the advertising money. That’s no bueno.
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