My suspicions are aroused

AC Milan captain Maldini and Juventus and Azzurri defender Zambrotta spent their Christmas break in the Maldives but have rushed back home to Italy. Inter Milan’s Marco Materazzi, Livorno’s Cristiano Lucarelli and AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi are also reported to have been holidaying in the country and are arranging their flights home.

All players, and their families, are safe and accounted for although Lucarelli’s brother Alessandro, who also plays for Livorno, told that Cristiano had to grab his children and run for cover when he saw a tidal wave approaching.

I’m not saying that Juve was responsible for the tsunami, but anyone who has followed Serie A over the years will understand that it does look more than a little suspicious… I wouldn’t put it past them to whack Zambrotta if doing so could ensure them taking Paolo and Pippo out of the hunt for this year’s Scudetto.

Seriously, though, this terrible tragedy is a reminder that for all our power and technological achievements, Man is not supreme. We style ourselves gods and assert our ability to dictate spiritual and moral laws, and yet find ourselves humbled before a single shake in the earth’s crust. Strange, that we should find it so hard to humble ourselves before our Creator, even those of us who believe in Him.

Maybe God is the other 85 percent

TMQ ponders physics:

If Anyone Reading This Column Finds 85 Percent of the Universe, Please Return It

As Tuesday Morning Quarterback has pointed out before, physicists claim to be able to explain the Big Bang Theory, the very beginning of existence itself, but cannot locate most of the universe. Evidence suggests that about 85 percent of the universe is “dark matter” and “dark energy” that defy detection. The galaxies move as if being acted upon by far more gravity and other forces than could be produced by the matter and energy in all stars and planets, suggesting there must be another category of substantiality, called dark because it’s hard to locate. Though “dark matter” and “dark energy” appear to permeate the firmament, no test has ever detected the stuff.

The latest on this front is this report from the annual meeting of the American Physical Society, the professional group of physicists, at which researchers disclosed that the newest, most advanced search for “dark matter” has drawn a blank. The Cryogenic Dark Matter Search, super-sensitive detectors buried deep in an iron mine in Soudan, Minn., ran for two months and failed to detect so much as one particle of dark matter, though trillions of such particles should be flowing through any area the size of a toaster. So we can’t find 85 percent of the universe — but trust us, we’re experts!

And scientists wonder how anyone can possibly be skeptical….

A gaffe is inadvertantly speaking the truth

A Pentagon spokesman insisted that Rumsfeld simply misspoke, but Internet conspiracy theorists seized on the reference to the plane having been shot down.

“Was it a slip of the tongue? Was it an error? Or was it the truth, finally being dropped on the public more than three years after the tragedy” asked a posting on the Web site

Some people remain skeptical of U.S. government statements that, despite a presidential authorization, no planes were shot down September 11, and rumors still circulate that a U.S. military plane shot the airliner down over Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

A Pentagon spokesman insists Rumsfeld has not changed his opinion that the plane crashed as the result of an onboard struggle between passengers and terrorists.

Well, if a nameless Pentagon spokesman tells us that he knows what Donald Rumsfeld is really thinking, I see no reason to doubt the official story…. Seriously, considering that George Stephanopolous, John Kerry and Donald Rumsfeld have all made public statements blatantly at odds with the official version of US aviation history over the past nine years, I don’t see why everyone isn’t skeptical.

I don’t pretend to know what the truth is regarding Waco, Oklahoma City, TWA 800 and 9/11. But I am sure of one thing. The government is lying. Why? Because it ALWAYS does, as even the best and most honest government officials believe they have a responsibility to avoid panicking the public.

I am dubious, purple

Despite a second straight late-season slide, the Vikings picked up Tice’s $1 million option for 2005, ending much speculation about the coach’s future…. The Vikings raced to a 6-0 start in 2003, Tice’s second full season, but finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs. They are headed in a similar direction this year, having lost six of their past nine games, but at 8-7 still have a good shot at a wild-card berth.

“Although our expectation of winning the division was not met, we feel that the program Mike Tice has guided gives us the talent base to have success today and in the future,” owner Red McCombs said in a statement. “Our expectations are high for the upcoming playoffs and for next year.”

At the beginning of the year, the Sports Guy mentioned that Mike Tice was threatening to join his bad coaches list, a list that includes Tony Dungy (Colts) and Mike Sherman (Packers) as coaches you should always bet against, all else being equal. He bases this on the idea that these coaches are bad game-time coaches who are regularly overmatched in the chess aspect of NFL football.

Unfortunately, Tice has earned membership on that list several times over in the last four weeks alone. I’ve already complained about his foolish decision to throw the ball instead of using one of the league’s top rushing attacks to cram it down the throat of two teams, Chicago and Seattle, that can’t stop the run. Two unnecessary losses right there.

Then, in the Green Bay game with the score tied, he punts the ball from the Packer 45 on 4th-and-5 with 1:35 left on the clock. Now, this is the conventional thing to do, however, when you’ve got a terrible defense that has reliably failed to stop Brett Favre, the smart thing to do is bet on your offense to get the first down, because even if you fail, it’s better to give them the opportunity to score faster since you’ll have one offensive shot left yourself.

But the conventional is the best one can expect from Tice; hoping for him to do the smart thing appears to be well beyond him. Tice is a good man, but I don’t think McCombs is doing Vikings fans any favor by keeping him around for another season.

Wouldn’t lumps of coal be easier?

A Texas father is auctioning off the video game systems he had bought his sons for Christmas, saying they do not deserve the expensive presents. The 41-year-old man from Pasadena said he had bought three Nintendo DS systems – one for each son. But fed up with their misbehaviour, he has posted the items on the eBay auction website.

“No kidding,” the eBay posting says. “Three undeserving boys have crossed the line.” The man told the Houston Chronicle newspaper that he and his wife were at their wits’ end. The boys – aged nine, 11, and 15 – would not stop fighting, swearing and making obscene gestures, he said. He defended the decision to auction off the three systems, together with three games, by saying: “Teaching accountability is NEVER EVER EVER wrong.”

Good for him. Sure, it seems a little extreme at first glance, but if you let things go for too long as this couple apparently had, you find that you have no choice but to resort to extreme measures. If nothing else, the sheer embarrassment of the resulting publicity should teach those three boys a lesson.

Of course, Child Protective Services will probably take them away from the parents, as the combination of a) celebrating Christmas, b) forcing children to experience consequences, and c) not providing material goods on demand likely constitutes child abuse as defined by the agency.