Joe Cole just scored one of the best goals I’ve seen in a while, and it should be enough to get England past a stubborn Estonia. Long throw-in, Peter Crouch flicked the header over to Cole, who chested the ball to control it, then spun 270 degrees and hit the ball on the short bounce and banked it in off the right post past the keeper.

I don’t expect much from England in Euro 2008, since they don’t have much going for them except Gerrard and Rooney, but it’s still nice to see David Beckham back on the field. He works hard, he never stops running and he’s the best dead-ball specialist in the world. I still don’t know what McClaren was thinking when he left him off the team.

Thanks, tovarisch

Sadly No sets the record straight:

Vox Day insists he never was a Bush fan, and so doesn’t belong on the list of weasels. Fair enough. But Vox still thinks Bush is a socialist. So to the list of idiots he goes. Wait. I write that with a smile, Vox! All friendly-like. So carry on beating the shit out of women and voting Libertarian, pal! Meanwhile, George Bush and I are about to discuss the finer points of dialectical materialism.

It’s fine to call me an idiot, a mysogynist, a repressed homosexual, a Flat Earther, a god botherer or a super sex machine to all the chicks. I don’t care. But for the sweet finchy love of the Galapagos Islands, I would very much appreciate not being lumped in with the past, present or future supporters of George W. Bush.

That’s hitting below the belt, that is.

Speaking of hitting, Mr. Billy Pilgrim’s wish that I run into a “real martial arts master” is pretty funny. I’ve sparred with reigning national champions and fought black belts from many different schools… and discovered that a surprising percentage of them tend to whine because they don’t like getting hit by anything harder than a love tap. And that “imaginary female opponent” is now a second-degree black belt.

It’s been a while since I switched from martial arts to soccer, but the last time I seriously sparred was with an instructor from a big school in the Twin Cities. He was their top tournament fighter, was very fast and far more skilled than me, but I was just as fast and much stronger, so he was very surprised and more than a little upset after I knocked him down with an uppercut for the second time in the round.

“Dammit, you’re one of A’s guys, aren’t you,” he swore. “He never teaches you guys how to take it easy.”

I just laughed. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I was taking it easy.

It’s not as if we weren’t taught the concept of control, it was just the application of a simple equation, F=MA. If you take a D1 sprinter, add 25 pounds of muscle with free weights and then teach him proper striking technique, he’s going to hit a little harder than your average black belt.

And speaking of weights, ay caramba! I did nine sets of squats today, 12-15 reps at light weight, but doing that on top of a game on Monday night and two hours worth of pick-up games with the Africans the day before, I can barely move.

This could get ugly fast

Turkey dips a toe into Kurdistan:

Several thousand Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq early Wednesday to chase Kurdish guerrillas who operate from bases there, Turkish security officials told The Associated Press.

Two senior security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the raid was limited in scope and that it did not constitute the kind of large incursion that Turkish leaders have been discussing in recent weeks.

“It is not a major offensive and the number of troops is not in the tens of thousands,” one of the officials told the AP by telephone. The official is based in southeast Turkey, where the military has been battling separatist Kurdish rebels since they took up arms in 1984. The officials did not say where the Turkish force was operating in northern Iraq, nor did he say how long they would be there.

It’s interesting that this should take place just after the world leaders met in Turkey this past weekend. It sounds like someone might have gotten a green light. However, the situation is very delicate, as the unrest with between the military and the AKP is unlikely to settle down if the Turks get into a shooting war with the Kurds, especially if American troops get drawn into it.