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Steals Don't Matter

Chris Broussard's take on Cavaliers training camp:

New coach Mike Brown has spent almost all of camp focusing on defense. No surprise there. After all, his last two stops as an assistant were with San Antonio and Indiana, two of the top defensive teams in the league.

Cleveland, on the other hand, was a defensive joke last season. They were clueless against the pick-and-roll and opponents enjoyed sinking 45 percent of their shots against the Cavs.

That will end this season. . . .

Hughes and James bring another intangible -- anticipation in the passing lanes. They were first and third, respectively, in the league in steals last season.

But look. LeBron and his third-ranking steals was on the Cavs last season and they were a bad defensive team. Hughes was on the Wizards and they were a terrible defensive team. I've only seen LBJ play twice, so I won't speak to him in particular, but if you watched Hughes last season it was clear that he got a lot of steals in part because he was making poor choices -- taking unwise risks -- and not making a real contribution to his team's defense. Bruce Bowen, widely regarded as the best perimeter defender not suspend all year, ranked 63rd in the league in steals. San Antonio and Detroit, probably the two top defensive teams in the league, ranked 17th and 20th in the league in team steals.

Obviously, all else being equal it's better to steal the pass than not to steal the pass. But all else isn't equal. Lots of steals do not a solid defense make.

October 31, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (30) | TrackBack

Dowd on . . . Something

Man oh man is Lindsay Beyerstein mad about Maureen Dowd's book excerpt. Amanda, too. I'm not sure Dowd was really trying to say what they think she was saying. Indeed, it's rarely clear to me what Dowd is trying to say, and giving her greater length to expound her ideas doesn't seem to have alleviated that. What I will say is this: The news that the feminist movement has not, in 1.5 generations' time, succeeded in achieving everything one might have hoped is not really that big a surprise when you think about it. Consider how the civil rights movement must have looked in 1905 -- so full of bright promise just 40 years ago, now wracked on the inevitable shoals of racial realities. And yet today Rosa Parks has a state funeral.

October 31, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Lucky Me

Most of the devices I use to tell time -- cell phone, computer, cable box -- are sufficiently sophisticated to have automatically adjusted during Sunday morning's "fall back" period. As a result, I forgot that one device -- my alarm clock -- was not so equipped. As a result, when I finally dragged my ass out of bed this morning I thought I was running about 30 minutes behind schedule. Really I was 30 minutes ahead! They should screw around with time zones every weekend.

October 31, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack

Rumble on the Hudson

New Look Knicks looked not so good in last night's pre-season game. Of course, pre-season is weird so we saw an awful lot of Penny Hardaway for some reason. The Kidd-less Nets' strong performance seems to indicate that if the Kidd-Carter-Jefferson troika actually plays together all season without big injury problems, New Jersey will have a strong team. In light of the improving East, that hardly guarantees anything, but I think it makes sense to mention them in the same breath with Indiana, Detroit, and Miami. Tragically, this bodes not-so-well for my adopted Wizards and other middling Eastern Conference teams.

October 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Free Milk!

The basic new school anti-feminist line goes something like this: Women want to get married; men want to have sex; if unmarried women are willing to have sex and society isn't willing to massively stigmatize them then men won't want to get married because "why but the cow when you can get the milk for free?" Said contentions have been the subjects of a few posts around here recently. Elsewhere, Phoebe Maltz and Amy Lamboley confirm that women are not, in fact, cows so the whole free milk analysis is somewhat lacking. Let me just add to their remarks a quasi-mathematical observation.

Grant for the sake of argument that men are more interested than women in promiscuous sex, since this seems to me to be the case. It follows from this that women will have an easier time procuring promiscuous sex. Therefore, though there ought to be individual variation in the level of interest in "buying a cow" there shouldn't be any systematic, gender-linked disagreement on this subject. The reality of contemporary life doesn't live up to the lurid imagination of conservative intellectuals. People who both want lots of promiscuous sex and succeed in having it won't be very interested in relationships. There are, say, more men in the "want" category but more women in the "succeed" category. The gender balance in the both/and category should be about even. The only reason for this not to work out is if women don't like sex at all. If they are, in other words, literally cows.

Then there's the question of double-standards. Actually existing traditional marriage wasn't really a fantasyland of monogamy. Rather, it was a world in which wives who cheated were severely punished, but men who cheated really weren't as long as they kept paying the bills. See Anna Karenina for more. Also the fact that nowadays most divorces are initiated by women.

October 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Message Movies

Last weekend, I went to see Good Night and Good Luck. It's a really elegantly made, well-executed film. On the other hand, it kind of hits you over the head with its message pretty crudely. That's not so bad, but its message isn't really all that interesting. Worse, there's a real lack of psychological depth; McCarthy is just bad and Murrow is just good and that's all there is. I sort of hesitate to criticize the film too harshly on these terms because I think it's a very common problem in movies and often doesn't seem to bother people all that much. Clearly, you've got a liberal film here so conservatives are inclined to criticize it and judge it by standards they don't apply to other things, where stark, black-and-white narratives are usually virtues. That said, it bothered me.

By contrast, The War Within is really fantastic. The marketing of this film was, to me, misleading. I was expecting a pretty hokey look at the hidden dangers posed by Muslim immigrants in the United States. It's actually a much more sophisticated film that takes its protagonist -- a would-be suicide terrorist -- quite seriously. There's a pretty clear liberal message here, too, but much better done. The whole point is to draw the various characters -- good, bad, and otherwise -- in psychologically real ways and try to show how and why these terrible things come to pass. Basic filmmaking attributes, suspense, romance, drama are all there, the acting is good, and most important of all it cuts against the vast mountains of cant under which this entire subject has been buried for the four years under the name of moral clarity.

October 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack

Republic Dogs

Via DeLong comes "Republic Dogs", a truly brilliant bit of philosophical humor. Better even than the celebrated "Fog-Like Sensations".

October 28, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Credit Where Due

It should be said that all credit for discovering Brio belongs to Miss Nicole Cliffe, a woman of outstanding moral character, blessed with an encyclopedic knowledge of Christian Web sites and a curious affinity for the antebellum South.

October 27, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack

More Brio

In many ways, the funniest thing about Brio is that their advice columnist looks like she's a lesbian, haircut-wise. Also, she dispenses advice like this:

Someone who claims to be bisexual (sexually attracted to both males and females) doesn’t sin until he or she yields to temptation — either physically or mentally acting out the sin in the mind. Let me also remind you that the emotions and desires you’re feeling as a teenager don’t define who you are! All your hormones are waking up and going wacko right now. You may think you have a crush on another female, when in reality you simply admire her and her feminine qualities. You’re still in the process of becoming. So don’t be so quick to label yourself. Again, what you feel doesn’t define who you are. Your identity is in Christ. Your relationship with Him defines you. And you are His princess!
That column via a rightly-skeptical Phoebe Maltz who also offers tales of prom-time sin. Still, what I really appreciate about the magazine continues to be its old-school take on "modesty"
Dear Susie:

I’m a 17-year-old guy who’s doing his best to pursue God’s plan for purity. I want to say something to Christian girls that they might not realize: The way you dress really does affect guys.

Modesty isn’t some outdated, legalistic rule from the early church. When you wear revealing clothing, you’re adding fuel to the forbidden fire of lust in a guy’s mind that he’s trying so hard to put out.

As men of God — and brothers in Christ — we Christian guys are commanded to respect you and to be pure with our thoughts, eyes and actions. But it would help us so much if you, as our sisters, would really think about how the way you dress influences us.

McAllen, Texas

Hi, Jeremy!
We don’t know how you sneaked into Brioland, but we’re glad you did! Thanks for your openness and honesty about the temptations guys face when girls wear things too short, too tight or too low.

Awesome. Again, individual responsibility flies out the window. Ross Douthat, by contrast, is a smart dude and was educated by the finest conservative thinkers in the land so he offers the new school take where feminism is bad for women. Needless to say, he's totally wrong, but I decline to explain why at the moment because there simply isn't time. The salient fact of the day, however, is that most divorces are initiated by women.

October 27, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (28) | TrackBack


Ah. The much sought-after intersection of basketball (or at least basketball-related program activities) and politics -- Sheryl Swoopes is a lesbian:

Most of the players around the league already know I'm gay, and I do feel like there's a sisterhood among lesbian players. We know we're not going to get the support from a lot of other people. But the talk about the WNBA being full of lesbians is not true. I mean, there are as many straight women in the league as there are gay.
If the WNBA is really half gay that actually would be quite a lot of lesbians in proportion to the overall population. Not sure if that's what she meant, though, or if she was just speaking without thinking it through.

October 26, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (25) | TrackBack