Archive for the ‘Joie de Vivre’ Category

Ranking the Bill of Rights, Number 1: The First Amendment

It’s been nearly eight months since we started our journey by placing the Second Amendment in its rightful place: last. The problems that plagued the Second Amendment—lack of clarity and dubious public policy justifications—are perhaps the greatest strengths of our first-place finisher,* the Fightin’ First! I present to you the First Amendment:

*Of course, its clarity and phenomenal public policy justifications are its strengths.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment is wide-reaching: It protects freedom of speech and of the press, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition. It also has the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses, which manage the relationship between religion and state. All these components have contributed to the First’s first-place finish, but what propels the First Amendment to the top of these rankings is its first and deservedly foremost freedoms of speech and press.

Freedom of speech and the press

The U.S. is unique among most countries in its seemingly unqualified* protection of freedom of speech and the press.** The European Convention on Human Rights provides for Freedom of Speech except when restrictions are necessary “for the protection of health or morals,” “for the protection of the reputation and rights of others,” and for other concerns like national security. In France, free speech may be limited “[if it is necessary] to respond to the abuse of this liberty, in the cases determined by the law.” Accordingly, in France, publicly denying the Holocaust and inciting racial hatred are not protected by free speech. In Germany, free speech may be limited “to protect personal honor” or “young persons.” England abides by the European Convention but has additional limitations, including the criminalization of the incitement of racial and religious hatred and ridiculously strict defamation laws. In India, freedom of speech may be limited “to protect the integrity of India” and for “decency and morality.” Some countries, like China, claim to protect freedom of speech but ignore their constitutions so blatantly that the words have little meaning.

Continue reading

Joie de Vivre: NFL Films

In the best football news of an otherwise forgettable postseason, a vast archive of NFL Films footage is now available on Hulu. In related news, I have not left my residence in several days.

With eloquent narration from a series of memorably baritone voices, a sweeping and adventurous instrumental score, and a slow-motion aesthetic that became its trademark, NFL Films has become an integral part of football’s popularity in America. It isn’t a stretch to say that it helped fuel the sport’s growth and acceptance in American culture, to the point where it is now, if unofficially, the nation’s pastime.

It’s a remarkable achievement considering football’s inherent disadvantages in reaching an audience. First, fewer children play football than basketball or baseball (or, from what I hear, soccer), and thus fewer adults have an understanding of how the sport is played. It’s a far more complex sport than the others in terms of strategy: I have watched football for over 15 years and still know only the basics of the Cover 2 defense, which is more than can be said for most people who watch the sport. Compare this to basketball or even better baseball, where real “analysis” comes down to pitch sequence and whether the manager should have brought in a reliever or bunted. Continue reading

Joie de Vivre: Still Remembering the ’99 NLCS

This is Part II of my overly nostalgic look at the 1999 NLCS. It focuses on Game 6–played 10 years ago today–and the aftermath of the series. You can find Part I here.

They say the beauty of baseball is that you don’t have days off. You’re supposed to forget what happened the day before and immediately move on, almost as if what happened the day before didn’t happen at all.

The beauty of the ’99 NLCS was that there was a day off. Between the elation of Game 5 and the first pitch of Game 6, I could wax poetically about how Game 5 could never be topped and then intrepidly ponder how the teams would top it in Games 6 and 7. In winning Games 4 and 5 in their final at-bat, the Mets did to Atlanta what had been done to them so many times by seizing victory from the edge of defeat. And now, winning twice more to take the series and complete the comeback didn’t only seem possible; it seemed likely. After all, the Mets had just won two! And we had our two best starters, Al Leiter and Rick Reed, slated to start the final two games of the series. I can’t overstate the confidence I had in Reed for a possible Game 7. Even though Reed would be facing Tom Glavine, who had tossed seven shutout innings in Game 3, I was 90 percent sure he’d outpitch him and we’d win. I suppose I approached it the same way Astros’ fans felt about Game 6 of the ’86 NLCS against the Mets with Mike Scott* in the hole: This was the deciding game. A win in Game 6, and we would go to—and probably win—the World Series. Everything was set up perfectly.

*I don’t know what prompted me to have this insane level of confidence in Reed. I mean, he was good. But Mike Scott in ’86 was unbeatable. And cheating. He was definitely, definitely cheating.

Continue reading

Joie de Vivre: Remembering the ’99 NLCS

This is Part I of a two-part retrospective on the 1999 National League Championship Series. Part II is available here.

Folks, I’m generally a temperate individual. My passions are not easily aroused, and most of the time when I employ hyperbole, I do so sarcastically.

This is not one of those times.

It is my completely subjective, admittedly objectively false belief that the greatest sporting event ever staged was the 1999 National League Championship Series between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets, which occurred 10 years ago this week.*

*Yesterday, in fact, marked the 10th anniversary of Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS, perhaps the greatest baseball game ever played.

Continue reading

Joie de Vivre: Praising the Bretzel

110707_Sergio

Yes, you read that correctly. If you thought I was actually writing about “Braising the Pretzel”* and became enthused, then I sincerely apologize for causing false excitement.

*Nonetheless, an article on such a topic does not make much sense so I would question your logic if you did indeed become enthused. I would still maintain an overall apologetic tone though.

Continue reading