I am back, after a year with intermittent internet access, training stints across the country, and a reintroduction to academia. For those that do not remember me from my previous posts, I’ll go over the tale of the tape:
I am approaching 30 years old and am currently working as a server/bartender, and manager at Fleming’s Steakhouse. For those that aren’t familiar with us, think Morton’s or Ruth’s Chris. I am currently back in school after my stint at UT, working on a degree in Hotel and Restaurant management from the University of Houston. I have been involved in high end dining for eight years now, having started as a busser and line cook to learn both fine dining service styles and culinary techniques. I have also been in the service industry for 10 years, having worked as a server and bartender at numerous other restaurants while going to school in Austin. Though I am not by any means a culinary expert, I have developed a love for food and cooking. I hope to focus more on easy to prepare dishes that can be made for a family or enjoyed by a single bachelor and saved for later (that’s no knock on John — I’m one myself. That’s how I know what food they like).
Politically I am, I guess, hard to pin down. I am libertarian on most social issues, but lean left. I think that the free market is incredibly good at finding an efficient (as in cheap) solution to problems. I also think some issues are too important to leave to the free market. In other words, that it’s more important the issue be handled well than that it be handled efficiently. I include education, health care, national defense, and law enforcement among those. I’ve voted for exactly one Democrat in my life (that being John Kerry), and one Republican (Bob Dole). I grew up in various Houston suburbs, ranging from Pasadena (the foulest city on earth) to Sugar Land, Texas(a place I’m sure everyone here knows because of our most famous son), all the while in a strongly Republican household. At this moment I will say there is no possible way I am voting Republican this year. Oddly, the candidate I agree with the most is probably Ron Paul, though I am not in any way supporting him. I think he provides an incredibly important role in reminding the Republican party what it should stand for, but will never in a thousand years get the nomination. Even if he does, I’ll hold my nose and vote for Hillary because I am the polar opposite of Libertarian on the issue of health care. I think it is the biggest issue facing our nation and that it is the type of issue that can win someone the Presidency. I also breathlessly await the return of a competent cabinet to the executive branch.
That being said, I don’t think I’ll be focusing too much on politics (though I have to reserve the right to say that could change as the election approaches). I’ll be focusing on a food and wine blog highlighting some recipes and wines I’ve stumbled across. I also, as an American male, love sports. Baseball is my favorite, due largely to its historical power. Football is ingrained in a Texan’s DNA, and I am a University of Texas Longhorn. I was an Oiler fan before I could watch sports, as my Dad took me to games when I was in the womb, but when they moved that team to Nashville, I happened to leave for school that same year in Austin and abandoned the NFL for a few years. My relocation to Houston has me watching the Texans, at least, and really hoping they find their way. It’s hard being a fan of such a disaster, though. That being said, I offer a debate of what (American) sports mean in a global world for all the sports-as-life fans out there.
Matthew Yglesias wrote a piece on freedarko.com* comparing imperialist baseball to nationalist football.
the country is, at the moments, under the grips of a dubious false choice between baseball and football, between imperialism and isolationism. The term rankles many in the American context, but there can be little doubt that it fits.
Yglesias proceeds to argue that baseball was spread at the barrel of a gun to any states that currently play the sport (ignoring that Japan adopted the sport in defiance towards the US military forces stationed there), and further states that Bush is acting in baseball’s model:
in January of 2001, George W. Bush found himself inaugurated as President of the United States. Most observers assumed at the time that his foreign policy judgment would track the sort of prudent statesmanship associated with his father, with Bush family retainer James Baker, and with incoming Secretary of State Colin Powell. A more insightful observer would have noted that Bush was the first former owner of a baseball franchise to occupy the White House and known accordingly that his election, in fact, heralded a return to the imperialism of the McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt administrations.
The Democrats are football fans in this tortured metaphor:
Meanwhile, the powers that be would like us to believe that there is only one alternative. As hawkish senator Joe Lieberman told my colleague Jeffrey Goldberg when he was reporting for The New Yorker, “A lot of Democrats are essentially pacifists and somewhat isolationist,” with his particular beef in this instance being a Ted Kennedy proposal to deny Bush funding for the troop “surge” that took place earlier this year.
They want us to think, in short, that the only alternative to baseball’s dreams of conquest is the splendid isolation of football — America alone, padded and helmeted, marching to the beat of our own drummer while the rest of the world tries to figure out what a “yard” is.
Thus Yglasias completely ignores the fact that the first ever overseas NFL game was played last week in London, as well as the huge influx of NFL players from Samoa and other Pacific Islands the US took via the same policies Yglasias derided as imperialist.
I did enjoy his basketball comparison of “soft imperialism,” noting how the sport has exploded internationally without the US controlling the territories involved. I think this comparison is best made with multinational corporations however, particularly since the NBA is more accepting than the other big team sports in accepting garish product marketing schemes.
*For those that do not regularly read sports blogs, freedarko is one of the best. Bethlehem Shoals makes me enjoy basketball, a sport which I tend to believe has fallen below soccer as the third most popular in the country.