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June 11, 2010

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Serwer shouldn't use the term recidivism even in scare quotes. Wrong frame, Wrong frame, Wrong frame. Like "gay-marriage."

Anthony Cordesman and Meir Dagan ponder whether or not Israel is a net strategic liability for the United States.

What is there to ponder?

Finally, consider this a World Cup open thread.

They need some alternative to penalty kicks for the final game. I don't mind ties (though when they come in bunches, like today, they get on my nerves), but in the final either (a) they should keep playing until someone scores a real goal, no matter how exhausted the players get; (b) come back the next day and play another full game with golden goal overtimes (though TV probably makes this impossible); or (c) gradually reduce the number of players on the field (i.e., after the second overtime each the players are reduced to 10 a side, then 9 a side, etc.) until someone wins.

Having played youth club soccer in the U.S.. I was part of teams that both won and lost playoff games in shootouts, and aside from when I happened to be pivotal to the outcome in wins (as goalie once, and kicking the winning kick once), it was pretty lame, win or lose.

I agree with your world cup comments.

still pondering the others.

I just learned via a friend that in Glasgow, football fans are buying England flags for the World Cup.

This is huge - the last World Cup, I swear I still saw Scottish fans buying football strips and flags for ANY team playing England.

Hey, we really could have peace in our time.

I was honestly torn on the World Cup. As a former expat who learned to love the game while living in England, I felt some warmth for them.

Then Boris opened his mouth. Fuck them.

With apologies to those who are paying attention to the World Cup, I feel compelled to share a personal triumph and do a little bit of victory-lapping.

I have been working on a model of the Halo Ringworld in Lego for close to a year now. I'm about three-quarters done with it; the outer hull is complete and the inner ring with the landmasses is a little over half done.

It is just under 5' in diameter. This is not a trivial project. I'm hoping to have it done by Brickcon this fall, but I still have a lot left to do--not least of which is overcoming the engineering challenges in /displaying/ it.

A few days ago a blogger sent me a Flickr mail asking permission to post about it on her blog. I happily granted it. What I didn't realize, since I do not actually play Halo, is that this blogger is some sort of minor celebrity in the Bungie/Halo community.

As I write, there is a link on Bungie's home page that leads (after one or two hops) to my photostream and the Ringworld set.

For the people who are scratching their heads right now as to why this is significant, Bungie is the dev studio that made Halo. This link is responsible for somewhere on the order of 25,000 page views on my photos in the last 24 hours.

I'm all verklempt.

PS: England is going down.

True, but first they're going to demolish the US team. It is an embarrassing but undeniable fact that the inventors of football aren't very good at it, but that fact can only be demonstrated when they play against countries who actually know what football is.

Catsy, very cool! Love the height-textured continents. I am a partially-lapsed AFOL myself, which is to say, there is a room in my house full of Lego but I got distracted by an Airstream restoration project halfway through a re-sort and now I don't dare go in there. (Then I got distracted from the Airstream by a baby. Maybe he can do the re-sort in a couple of years.)

still pondering the others.

Recidivism grants both that you are guilty in the first offense and guilty in the second after being released. Neither is the case with people formerly imprisoned at Gitmo. It grants too much that scare quotes can't take back.

On Israel, it seems to me hard to conclude that it has been anything but a net strategic liability to the United States. Though perhaps the same could be said for most other allies.

"lemon chicken for the soul"

Wow!

These Republicans are extolling the first-rate healthcare at GITMO -- it's better than many of our citizens get in this country, they brag.

Does this mean that if I become a terrorist as a result of the anti-American Republican Party repealing Obamacare next year, I'll be able to get a colonoscopy at GITMO?

Odd incentives these animals offer.

Does this mean that if I become a terrorist as a result of the anti-American Republican Party repealing Obamacare next year, I'll be able to get a colonoscopy at GITMO?

Yes. But don't expect any anesthetic.

They need some alternative to penalty kicks for the final game.

Agreed. Removing players seems to work well in ice hockey. I see no reason it could not work in soccer. It could be that the overtimes should be only 10 or 15 minutes and each team loses a player after each overtime period. I'm not sure why FIFA appear to be opposed to golden goals, the rules aren't set up in a way that benefits the first team to touch the ball.

Not sure what symmetrically removing players would do for the game, actually. There's already a lot of space, unlike a hockey rink. The biggest problem is keeping players from bunkering when they are tired. You might be better served to either ignore the offsides rule in overtime to facilitate the quick counter or allow players to sub on and off after regulation play expires in order to keep fresher legs on the turf like line changes in hockey.

The tradition is that England go out in the quarter finals. I see no reason on current form why this tradition should not be observed this time. It would be fun if the US went through too - not at all impossible but if I had money on it I'd have to back Slovenia.

Hey, if you read the actual ultra-fringe super-beyond-the-pale left, you know, the people who used to be called 'the left' in the 1980s and 1990s, as opposed to liberals, they've never given this Afghan venture a free pass.

Play a 15 minute overtime with the goalies pulled (or declared ordinary players.)

Actually, why not remove the offsides rule period? Seems to serve little purpose and is questionably rule upon in many instances (it seems to me).

No goalies and/or unlimited substitutions (maybe go down to 9 players in the latter instance) would be interesting too.

But penalty kicks have to go, 2 of the last 5 decided by them is too much.

they've never given this Afghan venture a free pass.

exactly.

some of us have hated it from the first mention.

In spite of how badly American broadcasting has screwed up the coverage of the Cup this time around, I am still interested.

Here's something you won't get out of me ver often: "USA! USA! USA!..." Right now, US and England 1-1... with about 30 minutes left. No matter how you slice it, that's gotta be crushing for the Brits...

And as an aside... just how close are we to unilateral Israeli military action in Iran?

mojo sends

Ugh -- "Actually, why not remove the offsides rule period? Seems to serve little purpose and is questionably rule upon in many instances (it seems to me). "

I agree with the questionably ruled upon part, but I think the rule serves a good purpose. Without the offside rule teams would go back to using 'kick throughs' -- players that always hover near the opponent's goal rather than joining the flow of play -- and the defenders would just boot the ball upfield rather than trying to restart play at the back.

I played indoor soccer for years (not Futsal, but rather the one played on a glassed in oval field like a hockey rink). Indoor soccer has no offside rule. One of the teams we played against used a kick-through who was too clumsy and overweight to run but just enough of a threat to draw off a defender which kept that defender pretty much permanently out of the flow of play.

Offside only seems like it serves little purpose because the players have to at least try to keep onside. It was irritating in indoor soccer but not too bad because the field was shorter and players could track back fairly quickly. On a regulation field it would seriously alter the tactics and flow. I only suggested it for overtime because the players get too tired to stay with the flow of play anyway.

I think that relaxing or resetting the substitution rule for the overtime would be the better option.

Given that Iraq's population is 1/12 of America's, the Iraqis are experiencing the equivalent of a 9/11 every single month.

True, but first they're going to demolish the US team. It is an embarrassing but undeniable fact that the inventors of football aren't very good at it, but that fact can only be demonstrated when they play against countries who actually know what football is.

It's not 1990 anymore, duder.

RE: Offside: Getting rid of it would pretty much ruin the game. The rule is what allows defenders to leave their half and push into the attack. Without it, teams would have to leave back three or four defenders to guard the inevitable cherry-pickers, the midfield would be emptied, and the need for creative build-up through the midfield would be obviated.

I can see a few modifications of the rule that might work. "Next to last defender" could be replaced by "last defender other than the keeper" (which incidentally would have allowed the disqualified Mexico goal against South Africa). Also, the rule could be waived once the ball has already passed the next to last (or last non-keeper) defender. This could result in a few more allowed goals without really changing the dynamic of the game.

RE: Penalties: Yeah, they're a terrible way to decide a game, but I'm not convinced that they're not the least bad option in knockout rounds before the final. But in the final, by all means, let the players play until they drop, or until somebody scores.

So yeah Robert Green... What happened there?

Wrt to alternatives to penalty kicks: Removing players seems to work well in ice hockey.

The 4-on-4 overtimes are only used during the regular season; they last for five minutes, and if there's no score, they go to the shootout. [The Philadelphia Flyers actually won the last game of the season and made it into the playoffs by way of a shootout. They made it to the finals, where blessedly they were beaten by a team that didn't squeak in.]

During the Stanley Cup playoffs, hockey uses one of the other choices suggested: full periods, with a full complement of players. On occasion, this has resulted in multiple overtimes. [I think the record is five, involving Pittsburgh and some other team (Capitals?).] By far the most common result is a score in the first overtime period. Given the much lower scoring-to-minutes-played ratio in soccer/football, I wonder how often that would happen. But I don't think reducing the number of players on the field would help. It would just be more strain on the best players.

In fairness, Michael Cohen is very specific about the people and organizations who have been silent on Afghanistan, and characterizes them correctly as liberals, not "the left". That's the fault of the TNR headline writer, and it would be regrettable if that lazy, tired maneuver caused the article to be dismissed without being read.

Football (soccer to you) is one of the most strenous games to play. Ever stand in the middle of a professional-sized football pitch and reflect that every player except the goalie expects to run up and down that pitch multiple times in the space of ninety minutes? (It's 105 meters long and 68 meters wide: most football players run 10 or 12 kilometers in a match. Even the goalie will run a couple of kilometers. Not a straight road run with a rest at the end, either.) You can't go on forever until someone scores because the players would get so exhausted the game wouldn't be fun to watch. You can't take people off the pitch without making it more strenous for the remaining players.

People keep arguing about penalty kicks, but it does give the goalie a chance to show their skill as a player.

Um, I take it back; near the end of the article, Cohen lapses into TNR-speak:

But for the left to argue that there are still no good alternatives on Afghanistan is an implicit indictment of their own failure to come up with one.

Members of left-leaning, DC-based think tanks and advocacy organizations have either tacitly supported the Afghanistan strategy or offered tactical suggestions to improve a policy that some privately believe is irredeemable.

Actually existing left-leaning advocacy organizations have been calling for withdrawal for a long time.

Where's Michael A. Cohen himself in this phenomenon? Does he think we should withdraw? When did he come to the conclusion? What have he or other members of the American Security Project written since 2007 on the subject?

Someone with more stomach than I have for reading "centrist" claptrap on foreign policy will have to answer these questions, but I think his explanation for Obama's going with the military on Afghanistan is bogus. Obama did the same thing on detention, spying, civil liberties, and trials, blowing off tons of expert advice from his own base -- so I don't buy that absence of same on Afghanistan (is also not quite accurate) is to blame for the doomed path he's taken.

Obama went with the stay-the-course advisers from CNAS early on in his campaign, so it was clear he didn't plan to include anyone with any less mil-pleasing plans in the "review". Just as he has failed to include any significant representatives of genuinely liberal, much less left, policy in most of his policy reviews -- including areas in which expertise and detailed policies are at the ready.

He doesn't particularly want to hear them; he and Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod think that the guaranteed African-American vote insulates them from having to do much for most of the Democratic policy base, and that the important job is "reaching out" to scum like Lindsey Graham.

Hand-waving promises on immigration reform, choosing austerity and demolition of the safety net over job creation; they're counting on the fear of the craaaazy alternative to keep base voters in the fold.

The bottom line on Afghanistan and Iraq (and Pakistan and Somalia) is that the human price is being paid by a small segment of the population. The economic cost is being paid by the bottom two-thirds of the country, but challenging that would require an actual left-liberal consensus that overcomes the encrusted bipartisan ideological framework about "defense". Obama has always bought into that framework.

If serious get-the-hell-out-of-the-wars activism were to happen among Latino and black communities... Well, that's a fantasy, because their most urgent political priorities are IR and jobs. Will they give him a pass because, well, he's trying, and the problem is just those Republican crazies?

Anyone who considers that the responsibility for the war-love in the White House is with liberal think tanks who didn't provide an alternative needs to read this post on the Obama Dept. of Justice's defense of civilian trials: It's made entirely within the rightist framework of 'we are at war'.

My instincts were correct in September 2006, when my skin crawled at Obama's floor speech supposedly defending habeas rights in the runup to the unforgivable, Democratic-Party-permitted Military Commissions Act. It was made entirely within the framework of "war on terrorism".

"I'm not against wars, I'm against stupid wars." The evidence says otherwise; he's supported stupid wars and has green-lighted the national security state imperium to start new, even stupider ones.

Boo -- "I can see a few modifications of the rule that might work. "Next to last defender" could be replaced by "last defender other than the keeper" (which incidentally would have allowed the disqualified Mexico goal against South Africa). Also, the rule could be waived once the ball has already passed the next to last (or last non-keeper) defender. This could result in a few more allowed goals without really changing the dynamic of the game.

I think that Law XI already does both of these things (as of 2005). It specifies the player in the opponent's half must be behind or even with the second to last *opponent* (usually field player + gk, though could also be 2 field players) and that a player in the opponent's half cannot be in an offside position if the ball is ahead of her/him.

Jess -- agreed all around, but still hate PK shootouts.

Nell -- During the Stanley Cup playoffs, hockey uses one of the other choices suggested: full periods, with a full complement of players.

Yep, but they can sub in and out at will on the fly. Soccer is very strict about subs and once you leave you are out for the duration. Indoor soccer subs like hockey and the game is a lot faster as a consequence because players go all out for short bursts rather than having to conserve energy for the long haul.

Then it sounds to me as if a full overtime period with free substitution would be an action-packed, crowd-pleasing way to replace the penalty kick without grinding the players down excessively. At least for the final final...

I think that Law XI already does both of these things (as of 2005). It specifies the player in the opponent's half must be behind or even with the second to last *opponent* (usually field player + gk, though could also be 2 field players)

Right, but under the rule change, one non-keeper opponent behind the player would keep that player onside. Watch the highlights of Mexico-SA. Mexico had a goal correctly disallowed under the rule as stated, but it would have been allowed under the proposed change. I think this makes some sense, as keepers generally stay close their lines, and it seems fair to make them assume some extra risk if they stray upfield. Sorry if my use of "defender" rather than opponent caused confusion here.

and that a player in the opponent's half cannot be in an offside position if the ball is ahead of her/him.

If player A possesses the ball ahead of the second to last defender, and passes it to teammate B, who is ahead of the ball at the time of the pass, then B is ruled offside. In the proposed change, once the ball has been played ahead of the second to last opponent* in on onside manner, the attacking team can pass forward without being offside. The idea is that the "hard part" of moving the ball past the defender is done, and the offensive team should be free to attack with abandon.

Note that I'm not necessarily advocating for either change, but I think both are at least defensible and could nudge up scoring at least a little bit.

*Or last non-keeper opponent if the first change is adopted.

[I think the record is five, involving Pittsburgh and some other team (Capitals?).]

That would be the Flyers. I recall being in bed at 2 AM trying to stay awake for that one. They had pizza delivered to the locker rooms during one of the intermissions because the players hadn't eaten for so long.

Boo -- thanks for the more thorough explanation of your changes. Makes more sense to me now what parts of the rule you were tweaking.

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