a couple of words about football.

today’s football games were riddled with the continuing controversy of FIFA’s refusal to incorporate technological arbitration for poor play calls.

for those that didn’t catch the games, England was down 2-1 against Germany and kicked the ball into the goal tthat was disallowed because the ball hit the top bar, bounced once close to the plane, and ended up bouncing out. The rule is that if the entire ball crosses the plane at any point even if it bounces out, it’s considered a goal. The immediate ref ruling was that it didn’t cross the plane so it was declared no goal, but a replay of the ball that was shown to everyone showed indisputably that the ball was a good full inch or more beyond the plane before it spun back out. Germany ended up winning the game 4-1 due to the England defense completely unraveling, but it’s impossible to say what would have occurred in the game dynamic if the game had been tied as opposed to still 2-1 at that point. strategy, position, substitutions are all so vastly different in a tie game situation as opposed to one goal against.

The second controversial play of the day was in the Mexico vs. Argentina game. Argentina was on the attack and one of the players ended up passing the ball to another player that ended up scoring, but that player was in a clearly offside position. The assistant ref failed to put up the offside flag and it was called a goal, but pretty soon after the score happened, the assistant ref went to the head ref to have a conversation about the play. In the meantime, Mexico players are trying to argue with the head ref as he’s trying to sort the whole thing out with the assistant ref, and a replay on the big screen shows how blatantly offsides the player was. The head ref was in a tough spot, but made the correct decision to not overturn the play because there is no current rule or precedent to do such a thing, so the goal stuck even though it clearly shouldn’t have counted.

The commentators of the games used these examples as well as the two US disallowed goals in their matches leading to the round of 16 to attack FIFA for its decision to not allow technological arbitration (read: replay challenges allowed in american football, computerized verification of in/out balls now allowed in tennis, &c), and i thought i’d take a moment to jump on that soapbox and say a big What The Fuck, FIFA. In a sport in which every goal has so much importance in shaping the entire game and in one of the very few competitive fields in which entire nations are being symbolized and represented, to not incorporate such a measure to help deal with human error is just flat out irresponsible. Get over yourselves and embrace the needed change.

as a related but tangental thought, i have to say this about football: i’ve always liked the sport; i even played it when i was younger and liked it pretty well even though i sucked at it due to asthma. But I appreciate the World Cup in particular now more than ever after the Saints won the Super Bowl. The idea that an athletic team can embody a community is something that i kind of acknowledged and understood but never truly grokked to its fullest level until the Saints won the Super Bowl. It’s impossible to describe what it was like to be a part of that, to participate in the Saints Victory Parade and have a 800,000 people stretched across a three mile parade route, all there for one reason, for one purpose. It’s hard to describe what it was like talking to the local community about it, to have people say things like, “i wish my uncle was still alive to witness this” as if the Saints winning the Super Bowl would have represented a personal victory for that person who had been a faithful Saints fan during the 47 years that they never got even close to winning. For the players and the coach and the community to see the win as proof that we’re still alive and strong after Katrina would have seemed baffling to me if i hadn’t been in the midst of it, in the midst of all of the people and all of the faces who believed it and took it to heart and used it as an avenue to create that personal life fire.

it was an incredibly moving experience, and after that, my understanding of that resonance makes the World Cup that much more significant to me, not necessarily in that i feel like i have any personal loyalty to the US soccer team versus any other, but because i now have a greater comprehension of what it is that is being represented on a global scale, that these teams are coming together and actually playing, competing, and fighting for their country in the form of a pretty amazing sport. To think of the image that the world now has of the US given their success in the World cup, to think of the image that the world now has of France after their disgrace in the World Cup, it’s interesting how much something that in some ways seems so small carries such magnitude for an entire nation.

Of course, the fact that i now appreciate this doesn’t diminish the sort of frustrated platform that i have regarding the attitude of athletics versus academics or versus the arts. Inspiration on a national and global scale can come in many forms and i still find it annoying how much the US society in particular tips favoritism towards athletics and “pop fame” and deemphasizes other potential inspirational platforms that have more personal significance to me.

That’s an entirely different discussion, however. Maybe next time.

conceptual shift in financial priorities with a side commentary on the change of internet social networking

for various reasons, something started taking shape for me since i moved to new orleans regarding travel.

when i lived in eugene i didn’t travel that much. usually any travel were road trips related to DDR tournaments in either seattle or san fran which would occupy a weekend or four days. There were several reasons for this both philosophically and practically; mainly it was because travel felt like an expensive interruption to a flow, and i was one of those sorts that liked to hoard my PTO so i had wiggle room for its use.

since moving to new orleans a year and a half ago, i’ve now traveled four times of note. First was when i drove to nashville for hurricane evacuation. most of that time was spent with ken, playing disc golf with friends and exploring nashville stuff. Second was when i went back to PA for winter holidays, the first time i was back in the area since moving to the west coast in 1999. Third was the multihop trip in august – Eugene to visit old friends, Hawaii to see one of my oldest and dearest friends get married, and eastern oregon to teach band camp of one of my former students and to hang out for a bit. Fourth is what’s happening right now. San Francisco to see another old and dear friend get married, Anaheim to visit jjk, Long Beach to visit an old undergraduate classmate who i still connect with, Chatsworth to meet a long time LJ friend in person for the first time, Santa Barbara to visit another LJ friend in person for the first time.

What’s true about all of these trips is that they’ve all been incredibly valuable experiences for me, secondly because of the new places i’ve visited, but primarily because of the people in my life who i cherish and get to share time with. I have a lot of friends scattered everywhere in the united states, and it’s resultingly not too difficult for me to find someone or some people to hang out with if i state my intent to travel. Particularly this time around i’ve had a few people in the SF area express their interest in seeing me, and it sucks that i can’t see them because so much of my sf time is occupied with the wedding.

thinking about these experiences and the sentiments that go with them makes me reflect on how social interaction in general has changed and how that relates to the love i have for the people in my life. even when i was a teenager i had started to develop the sensibility that people were the most important thing in my life, and as the internet rose to mainstream use, that became easier to manage because the internet made it easier to keep the connection with all of these people active without the need to be physically close and/or without breaking the phone bill. But back then, social networking and social etiquette were very different; it was common for me to exchange four-page-and-up emails with friends on a semi-regular basis, it was common for me to have 2-3 hour phone converations on more than a weekly basis, and LJ as a primary outlet for personal expression had an interaction depth level that brought me close to and care deeply about people who i have never met in real life. But as the popularlity and use of LJ declined in favor of more surface-level instaorgasm social networking sites (myspace/facebook/twitter) and texting, the amount of long distance interactions that have that same degree of depth are fewer and far between (part of which i acknowledge is my own fault, but that’s tangental to this post).

Resultingly what i’ve discovered is that travel is filling that void, that these trips are very important for my soul. Seeing all of the people on these trips and the people who have visited me in new orleans for the past year and a half represent times in my life that i treasure and know i will never forget. i have amazing friends and acquaintances, and i’ve met some fantastic people, and my life is nothing without them.

This realization is causing me to further shift my financial priorities to accomodate this concept, to understand that given the choice between, say, buying a video game console or a snazzy tv or the next awesome phone versus going thorugh some complicated travel plans to try to see as many of my friends as possible during an opportune lull in my work schedule, travel will win out every time, no contest.

philosophical shift aside, i’m not certain how much more frequently i’ll be able to travel per year based on schedule and finances, but i do understand that what i should probably do some research on reward miles and similar travel-based reward packages.

original content on darkblog resonate.

the problem with anti-smoking

people that don’t know me that well could find it head-scratchable to hear “anti-smoking adverts make me want to start smoking” come out of my mouth, particularly given my history of asthma. i’ll admit that as a non-smoker it’s nice to be in a public place and not have to deal with a stale smoke haze, particularly when i’m trying to eat. But the ire that gets raised in me when it comes to the concept of anti-smoking laws and general anti-smoking attitudes tends to supercede my own personal comfort because the principle behind it is something i’m strongly against.

This has come up in two recent forms. First, it’s possible that smoking will be banned in bars and casinos in louisiana, a surprising move given the sort of culture i’m living in. Second, i discovered that anti-smoking regulations in Oregon have become even more strict than they have before, moving beyond merely “can’t smoke inside of buildings” to “can’t smoke in outside areas that are mostly enclosed” or something similar, meaning that outside patio areas that have walls (such as the back area of the Espresso Roma in Eugene) is now non-smoking, giving those customers absolutely no place to sit down to have coffee and a cigarette.

To be clear, i think that there’s benefit to having non-smoking restaurants, particularly a family sort of establishment. although the true effects of second-hand smoke is widely debatable, the air quality difference is something that i think could deter proper enjoyment of good food, and i think that exposure to that sort of atmosphere to kids of non-smoking parents is a good thing to avoid. The problem is that the blanket regulation of non-smoking as a state law has now been used as a ‘gateway drug’, a precedent to instill similar regulations in establishments in which that context has less relevance. bars and casinos are 18 and over establishments. Everyone who enters such an establishment is an adult and should be allowed to make their own choices about whatever unhealthy habits they want, beit smoking or drinking or putting their money down on a situation that has unfavorable long term expectation.

There’s an argument out there about how “if i choose to drink, that’s my choice. But if someone else is smoking and i’m breathing it in, that’s not my choice.” I understand the sentiment, but the issue i have with that is that the solution that was put into place as a result of that has gone too far; blanket regulation of non-smoking in enclosed spaces eliminated the concept of individual choice in favor of a faulty sense of rights. Somewhere, the anti-smoking movement decided that they should have the right to go anywhere and not have to smell cigarette smoke, and innately that feels very wrong to me because of how it blatantly disregards the rights of smokers and those that don’t mind and/or like cigarette smoke. Where does the line stop? Will we eventually have non-smoking sidewalks because the anti-smoking movement can come up with some biased research that if a non-smoker happens to breathe in smoke from a passers-by that it will decrease that non-smoker’s lifespan by a day? Will it hit a point where cigarette smokers will have to buy some sort of bubble and any time they want to smoke they have to do it inside the bubble?

To me, a better solution is to find some middle ground. Suppose you left the choice up to an individual establishment whether or not they were going to allow smoking or have a smoking and non-smoking section. Sure, if the top restaurant offered smoking in their establishment, the non-smoker reaction is something like, “but then i can’t or don’t want to eat that signature steak dish.” But that would also be true if you were a vegetarian. Or if the top chef only served spicy food and you didn’t like spicy food. You miss out, whether for health reasons or personal comfort reasons or what not, and that’s life.

Now, the idea of having smoking and non-smoking be a choice of an individual establishment creates some other issues having to do with customer base. Depending on the atmosphere of the community, businesses are going to lean one way or the other in order to be competitive. In a city like new orleans, given two bars of equal quality and repute, the one that chooses to be non-smoking would more profit less and even go out of business, so they’re not going to do that, and as a result of most bars having that attitude, non-smokers would be hard-pressed to find a permanent place where they could go to enjoy a smoke-free atmosphere. Maybe the solution to that would be to have some sort of ‘cigarette license’ in the same way that Oregon distinguishes between a beer license versus a liquor license.

Unfortunately, all of that is useless speculation as the general national aesthetic would never move in a direction that would respect both the rights of smokers and non-smokers simultaneously, and it generally disheartens me because it’s another example of how society can isolate, put the microscope on, and pass judgement on an individual or a group of people based on a label. “oh, she’s a smoker. oh, he’s overweight. oh, she’s sleeping with a few different guys. that’s just wrong. i think we should put them into a box over there far away from me so i don’t have to see them or deal with them or have that be a part of my world.” there’s a fine line between that being an acceptable form of personal bias/judgement call versus becoming the new version of racism. hopefully we can hit a point where societal trends will take the blur of that line into sharper focus than what i feel it is now.

Originally posted on resonate. I prefer any feedback or commentary there.