Monday, June 28, 2010

Some fairly logical and concise whining about why soccer needs video replay

I know, I know, it's not my usual style... after all I think part of what makes this blog so entertaining is my ability to just rant and be my own A.D.D.ed-out self. However, in order to try and stop the spread of the whiny European soccer fan stereotype, I'm going to write a short and to-the-point piece about why we need video replay in soccer.

Sports are played for fans. They're played as entertainment for crowds. There would be no Manchester United or Chelsea or Barcelona if not for the millions of people watching them. I think it's fair to say that most people watching every game are doing so on television, and not actually at the stadium - so pleasing the television audience should be FIFA's number one concern.

As we become more technologically advanced, and add more and more cameras to the field, television audiences are able to watch the game in ways that they never have before. We're also able to see the game better than the referees can - which leads to the question. What is the point of the referee? Is it for him to make calls for his own self serving purpose? Or is it to make calls in a game whose principal purpose is to entertain a TV audience? After all, if a ref blows a call and the TV audience is clearly able to notice the blown call, the overall entertainment value of the match is reduced (except when Cristiano Ronaldo is playing and the camera catches him blatantly diving - then it's funny).

Some people have argued that referees are not held to the high standard that they historically have been. I say this is complete BS and in fact, would argue the opposite - refs are actually graded and selected to officiate games based on tests done using video replays ("players" stage an offsides situation on a field while the ref attemps to make the right call, for example).

I think the obvious point here is that reffing needs to be able to keep up with the people watching the game... especially when it significantly affects the outcome of the game in arguably the most important sporting event on the planet. I can't remember a single match in the last few days that didn't have a terrible blown call:

USA - Slovenia: USA's go-ahead goal (after coming back from a 2-0 deficit) was disallowed on a foul call when clearly the Slovenian players were the ones at fault

USA - Algeria: USA's goal was again disallowed when there was clearly nothing wrong with it

Brazil - Ivory Coast: Kaka was sent off for.... nothing. A CIV player ran into him and then faked being elbowed in the face

Germany - England: Lampard's equalizing goal was not counted after the ball bounced past the line and back over into the hands of the German keeper - Germany's own coach admitted that it should have been a goal

Argentina - Mexico: Argentina's first goal was allowed after television replay showed Tevez clearly offsides

Although these bad calls only impacted the final outcome of one of the games (US - Slovenia), it's important to note that conceding an early goal can be a big mental blow to an underdog team such as Mexico or the United States. Even in the Germany - England game, I think it's fair to say that an English equalizer would have impacted the way that both teams continued to play for the rest of the match.

I honestly don't care if video replay ruins the "flow" of the game - when significant bad calls are made, television stations will typically interrupt the game to show a video replay ANYWAY. Also I think that implementing video replay will make players think twice before they fake an injury or handle the ball. Like nuclear missiles during the Cold War, video replay doesn't actually have to be used in order to be useful - its presence on the sidelines alone will prevent a lot of the things that we need it for (although Cristiano Ronaldo may subsequently lose his job). As for offsides and other line calls, tennis (even at conservative Wimbeldon where there is a strict dress code, mind you) has been using technology for YEARS to assist the linesmen in making correct calls.

So in conclusion, FIFA needs to get off its high horse and start meeting the demand of the people who allow it to exist as an entity - the fans watching at home on television.

This wasn't as short as I wanted it to be, but I think it's fairly lean. Let me know if you have any thoughts on this (you can leave comments or e-mail me).

 Mo out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why Obama needs to stop chasing guys with titles that begin with C and end in O

If someone mishandles your package at the post office, do you go to the Postmaster General?

If you get a parking ticket, do you take your appeal to the Supreme Court?

If they forget to prepare your order at McDonalds, and then prepare it wrong.... twice... would you pick up the phone and ask to speak to Jim Skinner? (He's the CEO of McDonalds)

No, you wouldn't. Why not? It's a pretty simple question really. That's not the type of thing that they're in charge of handling. So when healthcare companies / financial companies / BP make mistakes, why is it that our fearless leader always goes straight to the top?

So an oil rig blew up. Why the heck would Tony Hayward know anything? He's the CEO. Do you know how many oil rigs BP has? It would be ridiculous for him to know exactly everything that's going on on every oil rig all the time. I mean, asking the CEO of BP what exactly caused an explosion on one of their oil rigs would be like asking Jerry Manuel what Jose Reyes had for breakfast last Sunday (assuming they don't have organized team breakfasts...). It would be a lot more productive to interview... I don't know... maybe the Chief of Gulf of Mexico Drilling Safety (I made that title up, but you can bet your behind they have a position like that).

Instead Obama once again proves that he's all talk and very little action by parading every top executive of every firm on TV in front of a select panel of the biggest assholes in Congress and asking them ridiculous rhetoric questions that are completely irrelevant to their day to day jobs. Way to go. Now you will look like a superhero just in time for the next elections. Obama the CEO bounty hunter. We can call him Obama Fett.

Until people realize that oil is still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and that the top 15 guys at BP have been locked in a room with congressmen rather than trying to solve the problem.

You know, Obama makes me miss Bush.... just a little. At least Bush made us laugh.

Mo out.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oblichoco (this is my obligatory BP post)

I don't really want to write about BP because doing so would actually support the idea that it needs a lot of media coverage and attention. The problem is that because it's getting so much attention I am forced to write about it, therefore giving it more attention.

So I'm going to try and write about BP while at the same time writing as little as possible about BP.

-I think that, obviously, BP should have to pay for all cleanup costs, associated damages, etc. The oil spill is their fault and therefore it is their responsibility to clean it up.

-I think it's correct for most people to be upset at BP.

-I think it is completely dumb and and absolute waste of time of President Obama to go after BP in the way that he has (or hasn't depending on what camp you're in). Instead of trying to be the tough guy who fights for the people and vilainizes corporate America (or corporate U.K. in this case), he should be working with British Petroleum to try and stop the leak. For example, "Here, BP, take our coast guard. Use whatever you need to fix this as soon as possible. We will bill you once it's plugged" is how I would have approached it. Fucking concentrate on stopping the leak before playing the who's to blame game.... AGAIN! This is the same shit he's doing with financial services! God I feel like a broken record.

That's all I have to say about BP. As a side comment I'd just like to add that Barrack Obama has his priorities totally fucked up. Rather than going on a crusade against healthcare/finance/oil companies, he should be working with them to solve the problems that we're facing.

Please, enough of this "yes we can" bullshit.

Mo out.

(By the way... did you guys see that when Rob Green caught the ball and then it slipped and rolled into the goal anyway?)

More world cup - the ball, the vuvuzelas, oh the craziness of it all!

I love the World Cup. I absolutely do. It's so entertaining to watch and there are so many things to talk about and make fun of like:


Oh my god please, pleeeeeeaaaase make it stop! I can't even imagine how it must feel to be sitting IN the stadium when at home/work the sound of those trumpets makes me want to jam an electric Phillips head screwdriver into both my ears until my brain goes numb and my soul floats towards Nirvana. The sound is like a combination of a New York City traffic jam with Bangladeshi taxi drivers playing folk songs on their car horns and a massive swarm of giant killer bees fast approaching. While I respect every nation's right to celebrate in its own way, the vuvuzela has got to be the worst sound I've ever heard in my entire life (and yes, that includes U2). Why the constant droning sound of the native African fart bagpipe is at all enjoyable I have not a single clue. Therefore, I motion to ban the damn things. AND THERE IS PRECEDENT FOR THIS!!! They banned bagpipes when Scotland started irritating the shit out of people with them - which seems perfectly fair to me. That sound is enough to make anyone go William Wallace on the piper! If this keeps up, next world cup I'm brining my harmonica and accordion.

The Jabulani (that would be the ball for those of you who haven't been following):

It is a known fact that soccer players bitch about everything imaginable. It is also a known fact that every single World Cup they come out with some sort of new and improved ball and the players bitch about it. So why is this year special? Perhaps because the tournament is being played in South Africa where most of the stadiums are at a rather high elevation, where the air is thinner and therefore the ball travels 5% faster (and "less predictably" which I think is bullshit). I think the biggest counter to all this ball nonsense is the fact that some people don't seem to have a problem with it AT ALL. Ask Germany (4-0 vs Australia) or Argentina (4-1 vs South Korea). Then look at shots from guys like Cristiano Ronaldo and Xabi Alondo who both nearly scored from 20+ yards out. It seems that FIFA's claim is correct - all the Jabulani does is separate good players from very good players. It's a little harder to handle but in the right feet (or hands in Chile's case) it will respond truthfully.

Rob Green

Lol, Rob Green.


The Spanish side played very well and held the ball ~75% of the time but unfortunately were a little sloppy on the finish, which ended up costing them the game. 25(5) shots (on goal) apparently wasn't enough. Switzerland on the other hand, held the ball for just over 25% of the game, and shot 9 times, but were able to grab a goal using a new strategy called the "our good striker distracts the goalie while our shit striker pretends to try and shoot but actually roundhouse kicks the last Spanish defender in the face to bring him down and leave us with an open net." The sneaky Ricola gobblers took a 1-0 lead on what was probably the ugliest goal in World Cup history since the goalie error by Rob Green in the England - USA match. I'm sure they will enjoy their victory over a good mountain climb and warm hot chocolate while at the same time pretending to be neutral as they accept bribes from the Germans. I'm out of Swiss stereotypes so I will move onto the next subject.

Dear Cristiano Ronaldo,

     I am writing you this letter to inform you of a growing feeling among the football loving community that you are a "bitch." While we recognize that you are far more talented than many who have played the game before you, and who will after you, we feel the need to point out that never in the history of football has any one player bitched as much about anything as you have. While it is unfortunate that your shot against Ivory Coast, amazing as it was, didn't go in, let us remind you that many shots don't go in. Not just plebeian efforts by rising MLS stars (whatever that means) - shots by fine players such as Messi, Rooney, Kaka, Iniesta, and Torres have all failed to score goals.

Therefore, we urge you to refrain from further bitching until there is something actually worth bitching about.


     -Mo and the Worldwide Football Community

Now let's see how many Ronaldo jokes I can come up with on the spot:

-Cristiano Ronaldo goes down faster than a hooker with a late mortgage payment

-Cristiano Ronaldo's diving prowess is rivaled only by the legendary Jacques Cousteau

Two's not bad...

Team USA is fucked

We will most likely finish second in our group and exit to face Germany. And unlike the two World Wars, this will not end well for us. In fact, I predict that because of the two World Wars, Germany will feel especially compelled to kick our asses. If we beat Slovenia and Algeria, then I imagine England will as well, but they will score more goals along the way. If we beat one but lose or tie with the other, then we are realistically playing for 2nd place in our group. The only real way for us to grab first place would be to win both matches and for Slovenia and  England to lose one. But Slovenia can't beat England, because that would put them at the top of the group by goal differential (unless we score lots of goals, which we won't because we suck). So the only way for this to happen would be if Algeria beats England (which won't happen).

So basically we're fucked.

Rob Green

Hah, can we please just laugh again at Rob Green? Here I'll make it easy.

Mo out.

Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup!! (I actually enjoy it very much!!)

Once every four years, the powers of Western Europe and their good friend Brazil invite a handful of other nations who nobody gives a crap about to a contest whose purpose it is to determine which country is the best in the world at the game of soccer. The first stage of the World Cup divides all the teams into groups of four, in which one good team is placed with three other crappy teams it can kick the shit out of and advance to the next stage. The second stage is an elimination tournament played between all the good teams that remain.

According to Time Magazine it's an event watched by 26 billion people (not a typo (not on my part at least)). And it makes sense... I mean, who wouldn't want to see their country's finest players made to look like a group of handicapped girl scouts by a Blitzkrieg of German offense? (sorry Socceroos)

This World Cup is in wonderful South Africa. The high altitude/thinner air, new "rounder" and seamless ball design, and roaring vuvuzelas (South African horn thing) should give players more chances than ever to bitch about the outcome of the games. (I realize that the new ball and vuvuzelas could make for interesting blog posts just on their own, but those posts will have to wait for now because I don't feel like writing that much at once).

As a quick aside, fuck Algeria and their garbage ass soccer fans who on a regular basis throw rocks and broken glass bottles at our (Egypt) players on the field. For the remainder of the tournament, "us" will refer to Team USA, because I am American and live in the wonderful USA.

Also, as another aside, I'm tired of all this adopted country bullshit that every American who spends a semester abroad is into. Just because you did a study abroad program in England or whatever doesn't make you English. Root for your own country damn it. I can assure you that when English people return to England, they DON'T root for the US (it's probably because we suck... but more on that later).

Now let's talk about some of these games!


Boring match. France wasted the only opportunities it made for itself and Uruguay barely even had the ball at all. Neither side played very well and the resulting "match" proved to be more of a distraction at work than entertainment.


I don't really have anything controversial to say here. Steven Gerrard's goal was great. Ours was a mistake (one which I will gladly take though...) I think the US defense/midfield did a good job at containing England and not allowing them to score more than once, despite a few very close moments (Rooney's cross goal shot from way out scared the crap out of me). Tim Howard, our fearless keeper, was obviously the man of the match (for which he was appropriately awarded the title: man of the match).

However, our offense was like the Veggi Tales Pirates Who Don't Do Anything... they didn't do anything! Team USA likes to play using a counter-attack strategy, which is great and all, but if you don't counter-attack, it doesn't work. Way too often I saw us take the ball, run halfway down the field, then stop, and pass it backwards. That's not counter-attack! That's the exact opposite of counter-attack. It's counter-nothing. If I were coaching Team USA I would sit my boys down for a nice lesson in 1-2 passing. Seriously, it's one of the most basic concepts in soccer - if a guy is running at you, you pass the ball to your teammate, make yourself open, and when the defender gets on him, your buddy passes it back to you! It's the quickest way to circumvent a defender when you have him outnumbered (as is usually the case in a COUNTER ATTACK scenario) yet we managed to execute it all of 1/2 a time (maybe). For a group of professional soccer players (a lot of which play in the Premier League) this is embarassing.

If you want an idea of how 1-2 is supposed to work, let me refer you to this match.


OUCH! All I have to say is Australia is lucky Germany only scored four goals. EINS DZWEI! EINS DZWEI! That's how you play counter-attack. Any sort of slip-up from the Australians was quickly turned into a goal scoring opportunity. Didn't quite kick that pass far enough?? Goal. Didn't run to that ball fast enough? Goal. Keeper didn't jump high enough? Goal. While they did miss a few chances, Germany played a superb match. They were swift, cold, calm, efficient... German. Let's hope the other teams in Germany's group can put up more of a fight than Australia (UNLIKELY!!) because if we have to face them in the first round of the elimination stage, we might as well start practicing for 2014.

That's all for now folks. Somehow Paraguay is beating Italy 1-0 at the half and I need to investigate why this is happening exactly. Perhaps their linguine was a little undercooked due to altitude differences (nerd joke).

Mo out.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

World Cup refs learning English swear words to catch up with Rooney...

You read this correctly - the world cup ref squad is actually learning new English swear words just to keep up with English footballer Wayne Rooney. Apparently, Rooney is so vulgar and his vocabulary for insulting other players is so expansive that the refs actually need lessons in cursing in order to tell if he is acting in an unsportsmanlike manner.

Full story.

To quote Larry the Cable Guy (first and last time), I don't care where you're from, but that's funny.

What I think is even funnier is that there's been a whole thing going on now in the weeks leading up the world cup where everyone is asking about Rooney and his temper - is he going to be able to control it, will it be a problem,etc. His teammates have all come out and said that Rooney is a very different player now that he was a few years ago and that he's learned to control his anger. Who is he, the Incredible Hulk?? Mind you, this is a player who in the 2006 World Cup took out his frustration on another player by stamping on his groin, and then contested the red card he was promptly given. How he is even allowed to play again is beyond me.

Oh wait, he's Wayne fucking Rooney. Carry on then!

Mo out.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

This is what's up

I'm starting a new series of posts called "This is what's up." It will be similar to the "update from your favorite blogger" series, but will be a little bit more focused and talk about a few big things rather than every single little thing going through my head at the time of writing.

So one serves the point of actually leting you know what's up, whereas the other is just me entertaining people with my A.D.D. (which I'm going to continue telling people that I have because it's funny.)

So, here's what's up:

StarCraft II beta ended last night:

After about a month of playing the game I have to say Blizzard has done a very good job of creating a game that's both fresh and similar enough to StarCraft I that old fans won't be disappointed. The game mechanics are exactly the same - I was able to sit down and start playing competitively without losing too badly (I actually won my first two games, which says something either about me or the game, I'm not too sure).

The 3 biggest differences between this StarCraft and the previous are (in my opinion):

1) StarCraft 2 gives good players more to work with. The pace of the game is faster, and being a top player requires more active management of every unit under your control. Blizzard has actually made many low-level "administrative" tasks simpler to execute, so the player's focus is more on scouting the enemy, deciding what kind of troops to build, and what special abilities to use.

2) Unit selection is CRITICAL. In the old game you could sometimes get away with sending the wrong kind of units into battle if you had enough of them. This no longer works! For example - I played a game yesterday against a Protoss player who only attacked me with zealots. As Zerg, I countered with Banelings and Hydralisks. Banelings are mutated from Zerglings and explode on impact - thus they are the perfect counter to a melee unit like the Zealot. Needless to say, I annihilated him with very little effort.

3) There are more ways than ever to be very very very gay use strategy to surprise an unsuspecting opponent. While playing, you have to constantly think of what the map looks like, what race your opponent is, what units he has the capability of building, and how he can use them to be really really gay strategically outmaneuver you.

I am looking forward to the full version being released this summer and am waiting to find out what final changes Blizzard makes to the game...

Making progress on the EP:

It seems that I've been recording drums for so long now that I've actually forgotten how to properly play guitar. After tracking every song 18,000 times to get a perfect recording, I discovered a little utility called the Beat Detective in Pro Tools, which basically tears apart your recordings and moves the pieces around so they are perfectly in time, then uses some clever crossfading techniques to conceal the scars. It's not magic, but if your playing is close enough to perfect, the Beat Detective will make it very very close to perfect.

Apparently they use this or something similar to it (fancier) on pretty much every recorded song ever made. I wish someone had told me about this earlier!!!!! (angry face). But I'd rather have my original drums recorded perfectly and then tune them than have to Pro Tools a bad drum track to death. I've always been about solid fundamentals and I don't see this changing my game. So (raises glass) to the next 18,000 takes.

Finally started tracking guitars on my favorite song yesterday (which none of you have heard yet, except Keith, Justin, and Alex). If you're lucky I might release this one early! I have most of the riffs/choruses recorded already and am going to dedicate tonight to some good quality production work to really spice up the track. Stay tuned!!

Mo out.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Israeli pirates they?

(This is a picture of Sir Francis Drake, a famous British privateer)

I usually try to stay away from topics related to issues in the Middle East for the simple reason that I am Egyptian and that most people generally tend to dismiss anything I have to say as biased. I think I'm a very factual and rational person though, so this time I will go for it. Today's topic is the Israeli attack on a Gaza aid boat (which you have probably heard about by now... if not you should seriously read the news more).

I'm going to assume that you've already read the news and just dive in. To me, this is the most blatant example of state sponsored piracy since privateering was outlawed in 1856. Let's go over the facts:

1) Israeli boats fired at the aid boat.
2) Israeli soldiers rappelled down onto the ship in international waters.
3) Israeli soldiers, who met resistance from the crew, opened fire, killing at least 9.
4) They then seized the ship, its crew, and its cargo, and took it back to their home port.

If these Israelis had been Somalian... well I don't imagine I have to explain this further do I?

Israel is defending its actions by claiming that 1) there was evidence that the boat had Hamas militants on it 2) the soldiers were acting in self defense when they shot the people onboard 3) the boat was violating the Israeli blockade of Gaza and Israel was defending itself from possible terrorist attacks. I'm going to do what I usually do and explain why I think all of these things are total bullshit:

1) If there was evidence of Hamas on the boat, can we please see it? While it is very possible that there might have been militants on the boat, Israel cannot continue to use the same tired excuse every time it raids a ship or blows up a building. There needs to be some sort of control in place to double check that Israel isn't abusing the trust that the "western powers" are placing in it. During the recent conflict with Lebanon, Israel attacked several UN (UNITED NATIONS) locations claiming that "they had intel" that suggested there were members of Hamas in those buildings. That's great, but when it's Israel's word against the United Nations, I'm going to request that Israel share the "intel," even if it's after they've raised an entire village to the ground. At least that way someone can make sure they don't do it again.

2) SELF DEFENSE ONLY WORKS IF YOU ARE ATTACKED FIRST. That's what self defense means. It means that if someone goes into your home, you can shoot them in self defense. It does not mean that you can invade a country or a boat, in this case, come under attack, and then claim self defense. The people on the boat were the ones practicing self defense. What kind of bullshit excuse is self defense. How are they even allowed to say this on television???? If I were on a boat in INTERNATIONAL WATERS and people came down from helicopters with guns onto my boat, my first reaction would be "holy shit we have to defend ourselves, we're being attacked by pirates." The Israeli soldiers had absolutely no right to be on that boat whatsoever, and by boarding it, became the attackers themselves. Did they expect to be greeted with flowers when they forcibly boarded a ship? Are they the masters of the universe that wherever and whenever an Israeli soldier goes and demands anything the demand must be met? This is ridiculous.

3) Firstly, the boat was in international waters. Let me repeat. INTERNATIONAL waters. Waters where everyone has the right to do whatever they want. Waters that do not belong to Israel and are not Israel's to police. Their army has absolutely no jurisdiction outside of their boarders, airspace, and waters. Any action taken by the IDF outside of their own territory is no longer considered defense. If they wanted to block the boat, they should have waited until the boat entered Israeli waters, where they have jurisdiction to stop it. Secondly, the blockade of Gaza itself is ILLEGAL and is a gross violation of international law because it blocks humanitarian aid to a region that is in desperate shortage of food, construction materials, and health and sanitation equipment.

A few more things:

-Props to Turkey for being very tough on Israel about this. The Turkish leader condemned the attack as a gross violation of international law and stated that the life of an Israeli soldier is no more valuable than that of a Turkish citizen. Also, double props to Turkey for reminding Israel that it is at risk of loosing its biggest Muslim ally (Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Israel as a sovereign state when most of the countries in the region had not... and some still don't).

-Props to the UK, Spain, France, Russia, and other countries who have come out and called Israel's actions as completely inapropriate.

-Props to Nicaragua for breaking diplomatic ties with Israel, in an effort to... I don't know.. attract more tourism?? This one really baffles me but what the hell.

-Shame on the US. The US government, as usual came out and said a couple of words that basically mean "Israel we continue to support you 100% for absolutely no reason, please do whatever you please." While our government did state that there needed to be an investigation as to what happened on the boat and why there were deaths involved, they also said that they were confident that ISRAEL (the guilty party here) could conduct the investigation themselves. Are you fucking kidding me???? That's like asking OJ to give himself a fair trial. What kind of bullshit is this? Can we have someone at least partially independent like.... say... the fucking United Nations?? Isn't that what they are for??? Settling international disputes??

-And finally, shame on the word for getting into the details of who attacked who first and reviewing video footage while overlooking the bigger picture: why is it okay for Israel to stop any ship they desire anywhere in the world for any made up reason? Why do we assume that when Israeli soldiers come down onto any ship, that the crew must obey unquestioningly. Why is this issue not addressed AT ALL by anyone???

It's not often that I talk about the Middle East, but if anything like this ever happens again, you can expect me right there, doing my part to make sure that those accountable are held accountable.

Mo out. Hopefully the Department of Homeland Security doesn't show up at my house now...