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JOHANNESBURG – From disallowed goals due to phantom penalties (Slovenia-USA) to clear offsides being missed (Argentina-Mexico) to a ball clearing the goal line and not being ruled a score (Germany-England), one of the enduring memories of this World Cup will be refereeing blunders.
The mistakes have been so humiliating, the cries from players, coaches and fans so loud and the global replays so persistent, Read the rest of this entry
As technology advances, it can be a bit sad to say goodbye to some of the old things. But there comes a time and place when you have to accept that your powdered wig is no longer cutting it. Here’s 11 “things” that are refusing to go quietly into the night. Oh, and I don’t have things like “world hunger” and “child slavery” on here, though certainly those things should not exist, either.
Yes, you can still buy these dinosaurs. Just ask Dennis Duffy (Liz Lemon’s on-again/off-again boyfriend on 30 Rock). “Technology is cyclical” the so-called Beeper King tells a bemused Liz Lemon. Umm, good luck with that buddy. Th Barksdale crew tried using these things in the first season of The Wire, as well. I personally never understood how the hell beepers worked, despite seeing them in countless movies over the years. Somebody calls your beeper, which lets you know to go to the nearest phonebooth or whatever and call that person back? That sounds practical.
10) Phone/Calling Cards
You know something is outdated and useless when Michael Scott is hawking them in the cold open of The Office. I guess people use these things to make international calls or something, but really? Phone cards? I can’t imagine anyone walking into a one of those shady little conveince stores that still sells phone cards, handing the guy behind the counter money, and saying “One phone card, please.” Come to think of it, they’re like the the Pogs of the communication world.
9) The United States Senate
I don’t want to go into a rant here, but the Senate is something that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Originally put in place due to the small states bitching about lack of representation, we now have a situation where living in a smaller state like Wyoming gives you a hell of a lot more power to affect U.S. policy than someone living in California. Think about this: the senators from the twenty-six smallest states, which represent about 18 percent of the total population of the U.S. have th ability to stop laws from happening. And yet this is supposedly a government of, by, and for the people. What it essentially means is that your opinions matter less if you live in a larger state. Will this ever change, though? Of course not, because in order to get it changed, those aforementioned senators from the smaller states would have to agree to it, and why would they want to give up power?
Phone Booths/Pay Phones
Unless you’re Clark Kent and you’re looking to change into your Superman suit, phone booths and pay phones are probably having zero impact on your life. Yet I still see them on street corners every now and then. Why? I’m not even sure if these things are functioning anymore; maybe the phone companies want to keep them around as relics of a simpler time.
I guess no one bothered to tell the founder of this outdated website about Facebook. How else could you explain its continued existence. What would the chain of events be that leads someone to use this site? Say you really want to find one of your old high school buddies. You check Facebook, no dice. You ask all of your old acquaintances for contact information, yet none of them can help you. What do you do now? It’s easy, just sign up for classmates.com. I’ll just pay them a small monthly fee, and hope and pray that my buddy is on here.
I was at the store the other day and I saw some guy (a young guy too, he was probably like 21!) buying 15 blank VHS tapes. Just a baffling experience. I said to him “I didn’t know they still made these” which must have offended him. But really, when was the last time you watched anything on VHS? Occasionally during my job as a substitute teacher a teacher will leave behind an old VHS tape of something, and I’m always stunned by how inefficient they are, in particular the rewind/fast forward function. And then there was the “tracking” button, which never, ever worked for me, yet supposedly existed to control the amount of static on the television, or something like that. Bad times.
5) Pocket Calculators
Certainly there’s still a need for specialized calculators, if only for use in your Advanced Algebra and Trigonometry class or to play some pretty decent games (anyone remember that football game that used to come on graphing calculators?). But why anyone would plot down money on a regular, pocket-sized calculator is beyond me. Most phones have decent calculators, and if you don’t want to use that then why not use a computer?
4) Floppy Disks
Like phone booths, floppy disks are another relic from a simpler time. As late as sophomore year of high school, I can, somewhat embarrassingly, using a floppy disk. I remember the looks of scorn as I tried to save my paper onto it. Then some snarky bastard says to me “You know you can just use a flash drive, right?” That was kind of the death knell for floppys for me. Yet they still sell these things right alongside flashdrives!
3) Home Phones
Every time I see my friend Lauren, we have the same basic conversation about home phones. She is a staunch supporter of them, for some reason. She says she likes to talk to her friend’s parents and stuff. At any rate, I don’t see many people from my generation setting up a home phone in their apartment/house. It’s just impractical. On my phone at home, I don’t even answer the home phone most of the time: ninety percent of the calls are from telemarketers. I doubt home phones will completely disapear for a while, as nostaligia will keep them going for years, but the industry is on the decline.
2) Phone Books
Compare the amount of time it takes to look up the listing for a business or company in a phone book with the amount of time it takes to just type in the name of the business into Google and that should give you a sense of how useless these giant yellow books are in today’s world. Yeah, you could make a case that people without computers or internet access could use them, but that seems unlikely. I wish we could calculate the amount of trees that have been destroyed to put these books, which mainly get thrown up, left in corners next to unused pay-phones, or ripped in half by musclemen in impressive feats of strength.
1) The Electoral College
Like the U.S. Senate, hundreds of thousands of words have been written about the idiocy of the Electoral College. I actually took a college class on the United States electoral system, and I wrote my final paper on why the system should be replaced with a more representative system of selecting a President. It’s clear that something is wrong when a man can be elected president despite having garnered less votes than his opponent, which happened in 1876, 1888, and most memorably, during the 2000 election where George Bush essentially stole the win from Al Gore. Imagine you’re back in high school, and you’re running for class president. You make some speeches, hang some flyers up around school, and then there’s a vote. The person who receives the most votes wins the election. Completely logical, right? It doesn’t even seem possible for there to be an alternative to that. The electoral college casts logic aside though. If you wanted to hold a class election and adhere to the tenets of the electoral college, each homeroom would be allotted a certain number of votes based on their size. If a canidate wins even just 1 more vote than his or her opponent, they get all the votes for that classroom. Absurd right? Well, that’s how the president of the United States, arguably the most powerful leader in the entire world, gets chosen.
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By TONY KARON – Sat Nov 21, 1:05 pm ET
President Obama’s trip to China yielded precious little Chinese cooperation on the Administration’s key concerns, ranging from currency issues to Iran. That’s a sign of the shifting balance of power between two countries that have been locked in an uneasy embrace for more than three decades. “I underlined to President Obama that given our differences in national conditions, it is only normal that our two sides may disagree on some issues,” said China’s President Hu Jintao. “What is important is to respect and accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns.”
China’s concerns, of course, have dramatically expanded in recent years, as was emphasized by Beijing’s anxiety over the implication for its own dollar-denominated wealth of U.S. budget deficits. At the same time, Beijing is in no hurry to play the “other” global superpower rule vacated by the Soviet Union two decades ago. (See pictures of Obama visiting Asia.)
Herewith, three key lessons to draw from the visit:
1. China’s Star Has Risen and America’s Has Ebbed, But the U.S. is ‘Too Big to Fail’
As the Washington Post noted, when Bill Clinton visited Beijing a decade ago, the U.S. owed more money toSpain than it did to China. President Obama’s America owes China some $800 billion and counting. China’s economy is humming again, while America’s is likely to remain sluggish for years. The sharp economic downturn, and the failure of the U.S. to impose its will in two very costly ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have shrunk America’s global leverage. Today, far less powerful countries than China routinely decline to follow Washington’s lead. An ironic dividend of capitalism’s Cold War triumph has been the emergence of new power centers in the world economy – Brazil, Russia, India and, of course, China.
Given its economic health and growing influence, Beijing is not simply able to rebuff U.S. demands; it is making its own demands of the U.S., in whose economy much of China’s own wealth is tied up. For example, U.S. officials traveling with President Obama faced detailed questions about how the U.S. planned to pay for health-care reform, with China increasingly alarmed at the ballooning deficit and the gloomy economic outlook. The best thing going for the U.S. in its economic relationship with Beijing – which holds $800 billion in U.S. debt and some $2 trillion in dollar-denominated assets – is that for China, the American economy is simply “too big to fail”.
While the U.S. currently needs Chinese help on a raft of economic and geopolitical issues, Beijing is less dependent on U.S. help, although it balks at any hint out of Washington of protectionist trade policies. While some in Washington will criticize Obama for being too deferential and allowing the Chinese to stage-manage the visit to avoid any domestic discomfort, it is the shift in the real balance of power that has forced the U.S. to change its approach to China.
2. China Doesn’t Want to Run the World, But It Has Interests That Differ from America’s
Russia may be engaged in a geopolitical chess game with the U.S. aimed at recovering from the demise of itsgreat power status, but China is different. It pushes back against U.S. initiatives only when those are deemed inimical to its national interests. Iran is a good example. Beijing’s heavy investment in and reliance on Iran’s energy sector make it extremely averse to serious sanctions or strategies that create political turmoil in Tehran. While insisting on compliance with the non-proliferation regime, Beijing does not believe Iran represents an imminent nuclear weapons threat. And its response to North Korea going nuclear suggests that a nuclear armed Iran is something it could live with.
Obama went to China arguing that its emergence as a major power gives it greater responsibility, as a partner to the U.S., in helping run the world and tackle such global challenges as climate change and Iran. Indeed, there was a collective shudder in Europe’s corridors of power at the idea of global leadership being concentrated in a “G2” partnership between Washington and Beijing. They needn’t have worried. China’s response to Obama could be read as: “Running the world is your gig, we’re focused on running our own country, and ensuring security in our immediate neighborhood. We want harmonious relations with you, but don’t expect us to do anything that we deem harmful to our national interests.” That means no serioussanctions against Iran, regardless of what deals are struck between Washington and Moscow, because China’s national interests require growing Iran’s energy exports. (Read “For His Asia Trip, Obama Has a United Brain Trust”)
3. Personal Chemistry Can’t Change the World
The personal trust between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was indispensable in fostering the climate for a rapid, peaceful end to the Cold War. Presidents Clinton, Bush and now Obama have all tried to cultivate personal relationships with their Chinese counterparts in the hope of smoothing a tricky relationship. But the usefulness of personal chemistry in dealing with China has strict limits, for a simple reason: While the President of the United States is, in George W. Bush’s words, “the decider,” his Chinese counterpart is not. He’s not a figurehead, but executive power in Beijing is the preserve of a collective leadership in the form of the nine-man standing committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party – in which Hu is obviously the key player. Some observers say this is why the Chinese try to avoid informal one-on-one meetings with their U.S. counterparts, preferring more formal exchanges of talking points cleared with the Politburo. The problem of dealing with opaque foreign leadership structures is a recurring one for the Administration. Obama met with Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev last week to discuss sanctions against Iran, but nothing will happen unless Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is on board. And the Iranians themselves are even more complicated since the traditional balance of power between the government and the clerical leadership has been shaken up by the post-election turmoil. President Obama’s personal charm and charisma may be a national asset when dealing with many countries, but, through no fault of his own, China is not necessarily one of them.
View this article on Time.com
Samuel Wurzelbacher, best known as Joe the Plumber, is reporting from Israel these days as part of his new gig for a conservative Web site, Pajamas TV (http://www.pjtv.com).
Wurzelbacher did a stand-up next to a large pile of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel and offered this interesting take on what journalists, such as himself, should do.