9/15/15 Breeze (part 5)

“Are you hungry. Andy? Breakfast?” Brent was off the phone now. Brent stood behind the couch that faced the TV.

Oh my Gosh. Good God! yelled the TV.

Tyler looked at the TV. The camera zoomed in on a speck falling from one of the smoking building.

Oh, Dear God. People. People are, the woman speaking on the TV stuttered then said, People are jumping from the building. People are flinging themselves from the broken wreckage. This is–this is unprecedented. This is—

Tyler heard a cough. He turned and looked up into Brent’s face. The man wasn’t crying. No, this time the look on his face was much worse. it was stretched and thin and pale. He looked like Tyler had felt that time he’d gotten real sick and thrown up all over the desk at school. Dad was shaking his head.

“Let’s mute it,” said Dad. “I can’t listen to this.”

“What about the news? What about Alison. What–what—”

“We won’t know what’s happened, we can’t know,” said Dad. “We, we should play a game, maybe.”

“A game?” asked Brent, like he’d never known the word, like he’d never played a game in his life.

Now it look as though another explosion has hit the second building, said the TV.

They all looked at it.

It looks as though something has fallen off the second building. We have Dan Rutherford there, on the ground. Dan, can you tell us what you’re seeing?

On the TV smoke was billowing up. shot into the air slightly, but mostly it spread out, swallowing up other buildings in its path.

Yes, Dianne. I’m four blocks away from the World Trade Towers, and Tower Two has just collapsed, said a man’s voice.

The woman’s voice. It collapsed? The whole building?

Yes. It fell in on itself. It looked much like a demolishing of an old building. It looked like a demolition.

Yes, thank you, Dan, said the woman. It looks as though Tower Two has collapsed. These are just incredible images, incredible.

Dad crossed in front of Tyler and sat down on the couch. Brent did the same. Tyler looked at them. Brent with his wide shoulders and cropped hair, dad in his long coat with short, scratchy hair on his cheeks and chin. Both men looked drawn and pale and at a loss for what to do.

“Look at us,” said Dad.

“I know,” Brent responded.

“Tyler, come here,” said Dad. Tyler went and Dad wrapped his arms around him and help him close. “Everything will be alright,” he said into Tyler’s ear.

“We’ve come a long way,” said Brent.

“Sorry it takes something like this,” said Dad.

“Me too,” said Brent.

Tyler wasn’t sure what they were talking about. The news report continued to roll. No new information. No new footage. All anybody knew was that The United States of America were under attack.

“I don’t blame her, you know,” said Dad.

“No.”

“I don’t,” he said.

“Ok. Maybe you’ll get to tell her.”

“I’m telling you,” said Dad.

“You’ll get to tell her,” said Brent.

“I don’t—”

“You’ll get to tell her,” Brent repeated. There was a finality to his voice.

Dad nodded. Tyler looked at him. His father’s eyes were far and away. In a time and place Tyler didn’t know or remember.

7/2/15 The Women’s World Cup

The Women’s World Cup has been an outstanding success thus far, and we still have the final to look forward to.

In my opinion this world cup has been nearly as good as last years. Sure, we haven’t had the fairy tale story of Costa Rica making it to the quarterfinals, or the shocking blowout of Brazil losing 7-1 to Germany, which was quite likely the most surprising and astonishing game of soccer I have ever seen in my short life. But we have seen Australia win their first ever knockout round match (men or women), we’ve seen England make it to only their third ever semifinal in world cup history (this includes the men’s team world cup history), but the first time the English Women’s National Team had ever made it that far–only to go out on one of the most bizarre goals yet seen in a world cup. Absolutely devastating for the player involved as well as a country that has been yearning for a successful national team since 1966.

Now, on Sunday we see a rematch of epic proportions. Nobody gave Japan a chance back in 2011 and this time around I’m not giving them much either. After the USA’s display against the most vaunted attack and what seemed to be the most complete team in the tournament, in germany, I can’t see what is going to slow the USA down.

Jill Ellis has made some very important tactical changes to the starting line up over the last couple days which has given Carli Lloyd more freedom in the attacking third, and she has proved to the world she is ready to shoulder that responsibility. While Alex Morgan has been coming off an injury, having her play a full 90 minutes against Germany was, perhaps a bit much for her, as she’s still shaking off the rust–however, it is good to know she can go the distance, if not the 120 minutes it might take if Japan is able to take USA to overtime in the final. But how many people were thinking of Morgan’s shot which went right at the German keeper even though she was on a complete breakaway, when Sasic stepped up to the penalty spot only to miraculously miss German women’s first ever penalty kick in a world cup, bringing their conversion record to 17-1.

This drama has been nearly as great as that of last summer’s. The difference I suppose is having a team with a chance of winning. Did anyone think the USMNT would ever actually make it past Belgium last summer? Sure, we played them toe-toe well into overtime, but Belgium, with all their star power, was a horribly underperforming team. Even with the chance Wondo decided to put wide, which would have seen us make the quarters for the first time since 2002, the USMNT chances of beating Belgium were slim, and eventually, in that game, Belgium found the quality they needed.

But now some different American’s have made it to the final. The way they’ve got there hasn’t always been pretty, but it’s been enough, and just maybe, it will give the United States a reason to cheer about soccer.

10/20/14

Back then I had hair that hung down well past my shoulders. I’d tie it back in a ponytail. Apparently that didn’t change how the Sea-Tac security felt about me once I landed in Seattle. No sooner had a lifted my bag off the conveyer belt did a woman in uniform ask me to “come this way please.”

Random my ass.

I shouldn’t have written down that I had gone to the Netherlands on my little customs form. I should have left it at Germany, UK, Spain and Italy, because that’s where I had told my school I was going. Instead I had gone all over. Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, Scotland, and Portugal were added to the list. After bumping into some infuriating French people in Amsterdam I had concluded that France could wait.

Back in Seattle the lady lead me over to the “Random” back search line. It had been very difficult to fit everything in my bag, as I only had one and I’d picked up some things when I was in Europe as souvenirs, naturally. The woman then proceeded to take everything I had in my bag and shake it out and go through the pockets and then toss it to the side.

Once everything from every pocket had been strewn all over the table she said,

“Alright. You can put everything back now,” as if she was disappointed she hadn’t found something wrong with my stuff.

I wasn’t an idiot. I wasn’t going bring back a bunch of pot or mushrooms or something like that. It took me a long time to pack everything back into my bag. The whole while the woman was dismantling someone elses carefully packed bag and tossing the things in my direction, glancing at me from time to time as if it were my fault my stuff had been unpacked.

I wondered if she’d EVER found anything dangerous. Probably not. Here she was, thinking she was protecting the USA from terrorists, but really what she was doing was invading normal peoples privacy. The paradox of the false positive strikes again.

For those of you who don’t know what the paradox of the false positive is there is a wonderful book called “Little Brother,” by Cory Doctorow, that explores that issue. It’s a YA book, but blew my mind even when I was in my early twenties. For you who don’t want to take the time to read that book I’ll try to explain the false positive paradox here.

When you’re conducting a search for something that’s very very rare, lets say, since I was just searched in an airport, a terrorist, the instrument with which you search needs to be very precise. New York City is a city of 8.4 million people. In New York City there are probably three or four terrorists at any given time. If you have a instrument, or proceeding that is really good at catching terrorists, lets say 99% effective that means 1 person out of 100 will be singled out as a terrorist when they actually aren’t. In a city of 8.4 million people that means this test would find. This means the test would tell the tester there are 84,000 terrorists in New York City. Despite have a test that tells the truth 99% of the time the test is actually inaccurate to a startling degree. The sad thing is, however, that most procedures to find terrorists aren’t even close to 99% effective. Their more like 60% or 40% because, really? What does a terrorist look like?