Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lionel Hutz Takes a Stab at Insulting the World. Unintentional Hilarity Ensues.

I have sometimes wondered whether Clay Travis is: (1) a smart guy who makes intentionally dumb arguments to provoke a reaction; or (2) a genuinely dumb guy who has managed to stumble into success in the manner of Forrest Gump through a combination of trolling, luck, and accessibility to fellow simpletons.  I've pondered the same question with respect to Paul Finebaum and concluded that he fits into category number one because he comes across as a thoughtful person in his unguarded moments and his grasp of the language - both written and spoken - is strong.

Travis just convinced me that he fits into category number two with his embarrassing screed about the 31 non-'Murican countries in the World Cup.  A smart person can write paragraphs of more than one sentence and make funny jokes, even when trolling to try to generate a reaction.  Travis's piece is so bad on every level that I would call it career-ending if this were not Fox we're talking about, a media entity that has parlayed unfunny, xenophobic commentary into a political and cultural force.  So no, I won't be asking the question "how did anyone with a brain or integrity publish this?"  Instead, I'll Fisk it, safe in the knowledge that I can't drive much traffic to Fox and Travis by publishing on a blog that I haven't updated in a year and a half.

The 2014 World Cup is here which means it's now fashionable to hate other countries. Or at least allowable. Yeah, yeah, I know that everyone claims the World Cup brings us together for a global symphonic medley of "We are the World," but really, let's be honest, it's also a great excuse to hate other countries that are trying to beat you in soccer. Particularly the countries that screw us in every World Cup despite the fact that we continue to give them malaria nets to protect their people from mosquitoes. (Yeah, I'm looking right at you Ghana, don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about).

Hahaha malaria jokes in the first paragraph!  Dammit, Ghana, why are you not grateful for the foreign aid that we give and just forget about that whole "plucking human beings from West Africa for decades so we could enslave them" thing.  And the use of second person in this first paragraph is immediately terrifying because it forces us to contemplate the fact that someone outside of the U.S. could read Travis's drivel and attribute it to Americans who don't trumpet their ignorance for clicks.

Let's be honest, the United States is the most loved and hated team in the World Cup. Often, just like your marriage, simultaneously. And we're really hated by FIFA officials who you know will work their damnedest to screw us in every game. Plus, every now and then it's fun to live up to the stereotype of the ugly American walking around the Louvre in flip-flops, jorts, and your two time World War champs tank-top while swilling from an open wine bottle, which you stole off a street vender outside Notre Dame.

Most loved team in the World Cup, Clay?  Find another country where the fans say "gee, after our team is eliminated, I'm all about the United States winning!"  And yes, I'm sure that the French would be interested in your t-shirt implying that the U.S. won World War I and France did not.  Good luck with that.

So that's why Outkick's hater's guide is a perfect way to welcome the 2014 World Cup.

The problem is that we Americans are lazy and hardly know any geography outside our own country.

So I decided to do the hard work for you and give a handy guide on why you should hate the 31 other countries that comprise the World Cup this year. And by "do the hard work," I mean type on a computer screen without doing any actual research myself. So it's possible that my reasons to hate a country make no sense or are inaccurate.

But, who cares, in the spirit of global hate, it's Outkick's hater's guide to the World Cup.
Always a good idea to describe a piece for which you presumably got paid as making no sense and being inaccurate.  And kudos for swearing off research, given how very hard it is to learn basic facts about the larger countries in the world.


Australia is a former penal colony. (Despite the fact that you're giggling a bit, a penal colony has nothing to do with a penis). This means that every Australian is descended from people that Britain decided were so dangerous they couldn't even be kept in the same hemisphere with everyone else.  
Plus, did you know that Australia was once mostly a virgin continent inhabited by giant kangaroos? And then do you know what those rotten Aussies did? They killed all the giant kangaroos! You want your kids to hate Australia forever? Just tell them this. They killed the giant kangaroos. Bastards.
What makes me think that Clay was the jackass in the back of the room in first-year Criminal Law who giggled every time the professor mentioned the Modern Penal Code?

"Every Australian" is descended from the people who came over from Great Britain.  Australia was uninhabited before the White people arrived?  Can't this muppet learn about Aboriginal people the way that most ignorant Americans do, namely by watching Crocodile Dundee?  Does it not occur to Clay that assuming that Aboriginal people are not Australian is just a wee bit racist?  Does this occur to him and he doesn't care?  I return to the question that started this post. 

The women of Iran are not allowed to watch their soccer team play in person. And there's currently a controversy in the country over whether or not women are wearing too sexy of veils. Plus, they're trying to build a nuclear bomb to destroy the world. As if that wasn't enough this is the only country in the world where it's considered a measure of progress when one of their leaders admits that the holocaust actually happened. Seriously, they were praised for this.
The Iranians don't want to destroy the world, Clay.  There's really one country that they're thinking of when they try to build a nuclear weapon.  Man, you should listen to the neocons on Fox News more.  (I'll take sentences I never thought I would type for $100, Alex.)

Kudos for knowing enough about world history to acknowledge the existence of the Holocaust.  It's capitalized, though, sport.
Are we just supposed to forget that they sneak attacked us? What would happen if we beat Japan in the World Cup and Clint Dempsey scored a winning goal and said, "That was for Pearl Harbor, bitches." Would this be an international controversy or the funniest trash talk ever? I'm going with both. You know that creepy guy in your office who likes the online porn that makes you really uncomfortable? Yeah, that's the entire country of Japan. At some point the Japanese soccer team is going to come out wearing their new uniforms: Slutty Hello Kitty.
My kingdom for a listing of Clay's web history.

Pearl Harbor jokes about Japan?  Cutting edge stuff, Clay.  Did a joke about immolating hundreds of thousands of people during the bombing campaign get left on the cutting room floor?  Do you have a t-shirt bragging about Curtis Lemay's exploits?  It would go great with your jorts.
South Korea  
Did you know that there's an ongoing controversy over whether or not Japan will apologize for making the women of Korea sex slaves during World War II? This is a real story. These two countries really hate each other. Because they made grandma a sex slave. There are lots of weird things that go on in South Korea, but, honestly, North Korea is so weird that no one even pays attention to South Korea.
"They" made grandma a sex slave?  This was some sort of cooperative effort between Japan and Korea?  Lord, please let a Korean read this piece and then serve Clay some kimchi turned up to 11.
I'm going to be honest with you guys, I don't know anything at all about Algeria. I'm not even sure I can put it on the right continent. Moving right along.
You know that hilarious shirt idea you suggested about the U.S. winning two World Wars?  Guess where our first large-scale land campaign started when we won the second of those two World Wars.  Yup, that country your ignorant ass can't place on a continent, let alone a map.  My seven-year old can place Algeria on a map, you cannot, and Charles Woodson deserved the Heisman.  Go blue.
The only thing I know about Ghana is that they f--- us every year in the World Cup. I hate these mother-------.
They fuck us by having beaten us in two World Cups?  And how does one get fucked "every year" in a quadrennial event?  Remember, you write for a living.
Ivory Coast  
This African country is located on the Ivory Coast.
What, no hilarious joke about how their soccer team is nicknamed the Elephants and Elephants have big dicks?  If you're gonna go blue, go all the way.  Or just make a joke about Alabama fans.  Either way.
Once a monkey stole the crown of Cameroon's king and as a result every monkey in Cameroon was slaughtered. But they still couldn't find the crown. Which is still missing. If you find the king's crown then no matter where you are born in the world you become Cameroon's king. (Note: all of this is made up. I don't know anything about Cameroon).
Like the Hillsborough affidavits that were edited by the Yorkshire police to cover their own mistakes, I'd love to see the original version of this text.  What odds would I get that Clay went all the way with his monkey metaphor concerning a West African country?
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. Which means it has the most screwed people in all of Africa. There is also a presently rising tide of Muslim fundamentalism. Boy, does this place sound fun.
Right, because there is no difference between any of the countries in Africa.  Every one is equally terrible, regardless of whether they are one of the world's leading oil producers (Nigeria) or are in the throes of a genocidal civil war (not Nigeria).  And just like most African countries, those Black people are just so hard to tell apart, right Clay?
Costa Rica  
This is that place you thought you were going on Spring Break, but then you actually ended up in Cancun.
Yes, if you are an idiot who cannot tell the difference between the names "Mexico" and "Costa Rica."
Last winter, my wife and I told my mother-in-law that we wanted to spend Christmas in Hawaii and let her take care of the vacation planning. Instead of Christmas in Hawaii she booked us for New Year's in Honduras, which meant I couldn't go because, you know, that's RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF BOWL SEASON AND I HAD TO WORK. So I did research on Honduras. Turns out, Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. Awesome. My family survived. But yours probably won't if they go to Honduras.
I had some hope for your kids, Clay, based on the fact that your wife went to a school with actual books and learnin', but I guess not.  Or, in the alternative, you couldn't think of a joke here and made up this implausible, thoroughly unfunny story based on the fact that Honduras and Hawai'i both start with an "H."
We've been kicking Mexico's ass since Santa Ana dressed up like a woman and tried to escape his ass-kicking at the Battle of San Jacinto. The only reason Mexico's even in the World Cup is because we carried their broke ass team here. How bad is Mexico? When Mexicans get to El Paso, Texas, they kiss the ground. El Paso.
 Mexico's "broke-ass" soccer players make more than ours do, genius.  If you want to sympathize with the Mexican soccer fans who chanted Osama bin Laden's name after 9/11, imagine this paragraph going viral south of the border.
I know two things about Argentina: 1. When they escaped from Germany at the end of World War II, many Nazis fled to Argentina and were safe there. 2. Lionel Messi is from Argentina, but Argentinians don't like Messi because he isn't Argentinian enough.
An Eichmann reference!  I bet he'd appreciate your blithe dismissal of just about every non-White group on the planet.
I'm sick of hearing about how awesome Brazil is in soccer. You know what Brazil isn't awesome in? Everything else. Congratulations, while the rest of the world was putting in electricity, you spent your time focusing on dribbling a soccer ball made out of cow testicles.
Fifth-largest country in the world, seventh-largest economy, and all they do is dribble a soccer ball made out of cow testicles.  And perhaps a Tennesseean shouldn't be making jokes about natives not doing enough to generate electricity and needing help from another entity to do so.
I mean, I've tried for a long time for this not to be case, but every time I see the word Chile, I think about eating chili.
 Too stupid to even warrant a rejoinder.
The entire country exists to make cocaine. Which, to be fair, is better than what Colombia existed to do before cocaine was cultivated -- grow bananas.
I'm personally shocked that Clay didn't use this opportunity to weigh in on the upcoming Colombian runoff elections and the vexing question of whether meaningful peace with FARC is possible ... so then he could make a howler about how FARC makes him think of farts, which is what happens when he eats chili!  Connections!
Ecuador is most famous for inventing the ceiling fan. This is not true. But you believed it. Moving right along.
 At this stage, no one should believe anything that you bang out on your unfortunate keyboard.
I always get Uruguay and Paraguay confused. One of these countries is going to have to change its name. I nominate Uraguay because if you read it really fast it looks like shorthand for u r gay. (Little known fact: "U r gay," is the state seal of Alabama.)
Clay Travis, the writer who spends an entire column proudly proclaiming his own ignorance and then takes a shot at Alabama fans for "U r gay."  This whole column is the "U r gay" version of international relations.
The entire country exists to make waffles. Also, how are you located in Europe and yet you've never done anything throughout recorded history? Seriously, what has Belgium ever done except make waffles? Do they even have local history text books?
Aw Clay, you shouldn't be so dismissive of Belgium.  You'd find that your views of Africa would have a receptive audience among Belgians ... who lived over a century ago.
Bosnia and Herzegovina  
I'll never forgive these bastards for turning Anderson Cooper's hair white before its time. You remember that, right, when Anderson Cooper was crawling along on the ground dodging missiles and there was some war going on that Channel One was covering? I still have no idea what that war was about.
Yes, that war that Clay has, in a novel fashion, blamed on Bosnia.  "I'll never forgive those Jews from starting World War II and causing my grandpappy to have to spend two years in an unnamed North African country!"
Every few years produces an NBA player. The rest of the time it doesn't really exist.
 They wear checkerboard uniforms!  You're a Tennessee fan who probably thinks that checkboards are the height of class and sophistication!  Christ, you were one Google Images search away from knowing something about another country!
What America would be like if none of our ancestors had the balls to cross the Atlantic. That is, a country made up of ninnies.
Also: a country that, like the U.S., gets to wear the "we won two World Wars" shirt.  In fact, they even have a song about it.  But all the same, they must be ninnies.

Note how Clay excludes anyone from non-European descent from being "us."
The only country on this list who welcomed the Nazis when they conquered their country. Honestly, making fun of France is too easy. So let's just leave it with this -- Texas is bigger than France.
 You dumb motherfucker.  You historically illiterate boob.  You utter fool.
The entire country believed they were the master race seventy years ago. Seventy. Years. Ago. And we're just supposed to forget about this? They started two World Wars that caused the death of hundreds of millions of people. Either tried to kill or did kill your grandpa. But all's forgiven now, they have rustic beer gardens! I hate these bastards. And so should you.
 I just threw up in my mouth when I realized that Clay is paraphrasing Dylan
Peaked over two thousand years ago. Since this time has been trying to reclaim their past glory. And failing. The entire country is bankrupt.
 They also hate the Germans, so you might be able to make some friends on the Aegean.  Also, congrats for not making a "Greeks are all fagz!!!" joke, although I suspect that it's more down to your shallow knowledge of stereotypes as opposed to discretion and taste.
The Romans gave us democracy, roads, stunning works of art and many ancient texts that continue to illuminate modern life. Then came the Renaissance. My how Italy flourished! Modern day Italy has given us pizza and spaghetti. That's what you call a cultural decline. (And I'm even having to define pizza broadly).
Now you've pissed off the Greeks by claiming that the Romans gave us democracy.  That would news to, among others, the Founding Fathers, so you don't even know our own history.  And you might want to read up on Silvio Berlusconi, because you would likely revise your opinion on modern Italy when you realize how much you have in common with a shameless, sexist public figure whose success was and is inexplicable.
A mostly flooded country filled with windmills, prostitutes, and hallucinogenic mushrooms. So, yeah, it's pretty awesome. I can't even hate this country.
 Do you base your views of Europe on Eurotrip?  Do you realize that 90% of the people reading this column would vote for you to get the full treatment at Club Vandersexx?
Portugal The only thing I know about Portugal is that Cristiano Ronaldo is from here. This is probably more than most of you know about Portugal.
Was Christopher Columbus the only explorer covered in your grade school?  Are you going to be confused when you realize that Brazilians don't speak Spanish?
Currently embroiled in a semi-war with a breakaway republic that doesn't want to be part of Russia. Rinse and repeat for the past thousand years. Also, despite the fact that she plays a Russian on television, Keri Russell is not actually from Russia.
 By referring to Ukraine as a "breakaway republic," you have now managed to insult a country that didn't even make the World Cup.  You have truly achieved the Platonic ideal of an offensive column.  And no, I'm not referencing Dana Plato, so keep your witty "child stars are a wreck, amirite!?" joke in your holster.
Discovered America thanks to Christopher Columbus. Is presently debating whether to join the globalized world or continue to take mid-day naps while everyone else works. (Note: this is a real debate in the country).
A writer who brags about doing zero research before tossing around a collection of dated and often racist stereotypes probably shouldn't be mocking the work ethic of anyone else.
The only country on this list that is hoping for a tie. Perpetually unaligned except they are in favor of hiding rich people's assets.
If only you had trusted this article to the Swiss and told them that it should never see the light of day.

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Ballot Prepares for Hurricane Danielson

Alabama has opened as a 7.5-point favorite over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.  If the contest is close, then CBS will get what it has always wanted in that game: a tight game with direct national title implications between two historical powers with large fan bases.  Viewers remains glued to their sets, ratings are high, advertisers are thrilled, and Mike Slive grins to himself.

However, if the game is a blowout and Gary Danielson finds himself needing material to occupy the fourth quarter, we should all prepare for a huckster spending an extended period of time advocating for another all-SEC national title game.  Florida put themselves into that position by winning impressively in Tallahassee on Saturday, changing their impression from a punchless team that won a series of close games to a wily team that saved its best performances for its biggest games, save for one turnover-fest in Jacksonville.  In truth, Florida deserves to be ahead of Georgia at this stage and, depending on how much value one places on the quality of opponents beaten as opposed to margin of victory, possibly Alabama, as well.  Now, if Alabama wins on Saturday, then the Tide will have a fairly solid case to pass Florida.  If Georgia wins, they will also have a case, although not quite as strong as Bama’s. 

The major point is that even after Saturday, there won’t be a whole heck of a lot to separate those three teams.  Since Danielson operates from the presumption that the SEC is the best conference in the country by leaps and bounds (despite the fact that this is not at all clear-cut this year) and he has clearly reached a decision at some point that pandering to his viewers is the way to security and popularity, I’d bet that he looks at Florida being on par with Bama and Georgia and decides that the SEC Championship Game should be a play-in game to meet the Gators in Miami.  The chart comparing the quality of opponents beaten – a tactic that Danielson used in 2006 when it was convenient to argue for Florida over Michigan and then ignored last year when that metric supported Oklahoma State over Alabama – very well might make a reappearance.  Notre Dame’s repeated close wins will get prominent discussion, as will the fact that the Irish’s schedule looked tougher before the season than it actually played out.  And in the end, Danielson will achieve that most unlikely of results: he’ll make me sympathetic to Notre Dame.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Top 25 is Paging David Gordon


I have been going through some reflection on how exactly I rank teams.  It started with a never-ending Twitter debate with Ramzy Nasrallah on Thursday that started as I was wrapping up my day at the office, continued as I was driving out of Midtown towards the Regal 24 at Shallowford, and only ended when the previews ended and Skyfall started.  The argument was over how far Alabama should have dropped when they lost to Texas A&M and the main point of contention concerned my tendency to use computer rankings like Sagarin and SRS.  The argument from Ramzy (bolstered at the outset by Brian Cook before Brian almost certainly got tired of the petty sniping) is that those rankings may be predictive, but they are not good at telling us who has actually had the best season.  My counter is that the predictive power of the Sagarin Predictor comes from its interpretation of past results, so it is in effect a referendum on the season to date. 

The debate led me to start thinking about my rules for rankings.  Specifically, what are the circumstances under which Team A should jump Team B when Team B has a superior record.  How much of a difference in strength of schedule is required to make that jump?  How much of a difference in margin of victory is required?  To me, those are the two relevant factors: whom did you beat and by how much?  Ramzy argued at one point that college football produces relatively small sample sizes, so using a computer rating is a fool’s errand.  My response would be that if we are dealing with a small sample size, then we need to use all available data, so casting aside margin of victory – a factor that supports Alabama because they were not forced to win a close game until November – is a poor decision.  But how much should we use it?  I still have Bama a spot behind Notre Dame, despite the fact that the Tide would be a double-digit favorite on a neutral field.  So what are my rules for using Sagarin?

And how much should I use the eye test?  I am a big believer in the idea that basing assessments on how a team looked to me is a terrible idea because there are all sorts of issues with human perception that cause us to make bad judgments.  One pretty spiral or form tackle can become our mental representation of a team, causing us to overrate them.  And yet, there is at least one instance in which I am letting the eye test affect my ranking of a team.  Florida is 10-1, they have played a brutal schedule, and according to both the Sagarin Predictor and SRS, they would be a one- to two-point favorite over Georgia on a neutral field.  As a friend pointed out to me yesterday, Florida’s yards per play margin has been better than Georgia’s in each of their five games against common opponents.  Still, I have Florida behind Georgia because every time I see Florida, their offense is appalling.  I cannot fathom the idea that a team could need a fourth quarter rally against Louisiana-Lafayette, culminating in a walk-off blocked punt touchdown, and then play for the national title a few weeks later.  Florida’s yards-per-play margin is worse than Georgia’s overall, but how much of that is down to playing a much tougher SEC schedule and not bullying overmatched non-conference opponents in the same way?  How much value do I give to the fact that Georgia beat Buffalo worse than Florida beat Bowling Green?

To sum up, I’m trying to think of rules to govern my irrational preferences, but I’m finding it hard to tie myself to the mast in a rational way.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Top 25 Mishmash


Not too much of interest this week, other than my regular complaint that when a team loses a close game against a higher-ranked team, then they should not drop.  LSU played #1 Alabama at home, out-gained them by a significant margin, led into the final minute, and this is a reason to drop them?  If you want to know why I like computers, then this is a good illustration.  (One counter: the Sagarin Predictor has LSU at #11, penalizing the Tigers for close games against inferior opponents, most notably the inexplicable 12-10 win over Auburn.  I gave consideration to putting LSU above Notre Dame before remembering the Auburn game.)

I’ll also renew my point about Michigan and Ohio State.  Ohio State is #5 in the AP poll, while Michigan is #28.  Sagarin has the teams as being totally even.  Again, here’s the question: if you flipped the two teams’ schedules and then knocked Braxton Miller out of a game in Lincoln in the second quarter, what would the two teams’ record be?  (One counter: Ohio State fans can make the legitimate point that Miller is a bigger guy than Denard Robinson and is therefore less likely to get knocked out for an extended period of time.  Also, Ohio State was not totally unprepared for an injury to their quarterback as Michigan was when their offense ground to a halt against the Huskers.)

By the end of my ballot, I was just alternating Pac 12 and Big XII teams.  Both conferences are just packed with good, but not great teams.  If Oregon and Kansas State both stay unbeaten, then we are going to get a lot of parsing between the middle classes of those two conferences.  I haven’t given a great deal of thought to the resumes of Oregon and K-State; I’ve kept the Ducks at #2 because they look great every week.  If the time comes, then I’ll give the two teams a harder look.  One thing that I will say is that Oregon deserves to be punished for their non-conference schedule, almost as a moral matter.  Without any central entity to force teams to play quality opponents, we rely on the programs themselves to do the honorable thing and schedule attractive games.  This is important for both maintaining fan interest and allowing voters and computers to draw meaningful connections between conferences at the end of the year.  In a startling reversal of fortune, Kansas State actually comes across as the more respectable program in a comparison with Oregon because the Wildcats scheduled Miami.  The Canes are not a good team this year, but there is at least a visible intent on the part of K-State to play a game that fans around the country would watch.  If the Ducks and Wildcats remain unbeaten, then I suspect that we will hear the names Arkansas State, Fresno State, and Tennessee Tech a lot during the month of December.  I’ll also add in a note to Mike Slive: both K-State and Oregon are going to get a bounce from the fact that they played nine-game conference schedules.  What would Alabama’s schedule look like with another conference game instead of Florida Atlantic?