Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wenger Must Go

One of the great things about the internet is the ability to openly air one's grievances, even if only a few people read those grievances. I have been writing for some time about Arsene Wenger, the coach I love to hate. There is no question that the Frenchman brought glory and an exciting style to an Arsenal team known for the boring 1-0 victory. Yet eight years without a trophy looks in the cards. We will probably lose to Bayern in the Champions League; yet another year when we exit in the first round of the knockout stage. And our best hope for the league is a third place finish, though fourth is more likely. As I outlined yesterday, our problems were glaring in the draw with Liverpool yesterday and the great hope of fans was that Wenger would spend some of the supposedly 37 million pounds at his disposal. Not surprisingly, little was done. Don't get me wrong, the signing of Nacho Monreal from Malaga was good business, but it will do little to help us in the Champions League, as he is cup tied. What this means is we might actually see the awful Santos playing as left back against a scary Bayern squad. What it means in a broader sense is that king Wenger is unwilling to listen to reason in his pursuit to show his critics wrong. 

What did we need in this window? As I've said so many times the first need was a defensive midfielder. Our back line is exposed in almost every game and our few clean sheets resulted from teams that put two flanks of four in the back and rarely ventured forward. Even as Liverpool did this in the second half, the "brilliant" Jordan Henderson was able to get past four defenders and score to make it 2-0. While the long term answer is to replace Sagna, unless he improves, and get a solid centre-half to play alongside Mertesacker, the obvious short term solution was a real defensive mid who could provide cover. And there was an obvious choice out there -- West Ham's Diame, who appeared excited to join. But no movement on that front and now the opportunity is gone. Even if we decided against him, there was M'Villa, Capoue or Wanyama at Celtic, among a few other choices. But Wenger wants to prove the world wrong, arguing a few months ago that the DM is obsolete in football today. The argument is funny in its absurdity. 

The second need was another striker to at least backup Giroud, who has improved dramatically. There were options out there from Demba Ba, who we didn't even bid on, even as his price tag was in Wenger's wheelhouse. And then there was Llorente (who is headed to Juve), Villa (who I don't believe we ever submitted a formal bid for), Jovetic at Fiorentina (who we probably could have gotten for 20 million pounds) or a number of other middling choices. Against Wenger believes he only needs one, even as RVP's lack of a backup almost cost us Champions League football last season. Another option would have been to pick up a spare winger and allow Giroud and Walcott to switch up in the middle. Now we have Ox and Gervinho (who has scored a couple of goals at ANC, but has been downright awful this year) as backups and thus not really viable threats to allow Pod or Walcott to play in the middle regularly. Another clear need that went wanting yet again.

Our midfield is okay, but we certainly could have used a centre-half and again options were available. I think Newcastle picked the best of the lot in Yanga-Mbiwa, who was purportedly on our radar. But again we let him go to a team that could very well be a competitor in the coming years if we keep letting Wenger buck convention and common sense. But what about QPR, who took Samba back from Russia? Or Tottenham who stole Vertonghen from under us last summer, as Wenger wanted to play him as a DM. Wait, he wanted a DM? Apparently, though he was unwilling to sign any of the available choices in the last two window.

So last summer Wenger said we needed a DM and a striker but did nothing to sign either, netting yet another profit for the shareholders. And now we bought a left back, probably only because Gibbs get injured and Wenger has to admit that Santos is not up to snuff. Wenger could be right that the Winter window is unfair and often leads teams to pay inflated prices for players (Torres anyone?). But he has to compete within the specter of the current football reality and appears unwilling to do so. There is discontent all around the Emirates these days and the players just aren't performing at their maximum week in and out. Could part of the problem be a coach who keep lowering expectations? Could it be the players seeing their best peers leave every year? Could it be the unsubstantiated rumors that Wenger will finally loosen the purse strings? Or maybe the socialist wage structure that allows young players to live like aristocracy before they accomplish anything on the pitch? I think all of these are equally important, and all fall on Wenger's shoulders.

The reality is that Wenger fails in every aspect of the game. He has far too much dead weight in the squad, insufficient depth at half the positions (and I'm being kind), too few world class players and a team that seems rarely to rise to the big occasions. We have no, and I mean no, impact subs to come off the bench and win games late. And there is a mentality of losing at every level of the club. Arsenal might get luck and win the FA Cup or sneak into fourth place, particularly if Tottenham does another late season swan song, but few would argue that this is a team that can compete for silverware on a regular basis. They can't even show up for 90 minutes in games that will determine their collective future. 

The real question that emerges now is what the board will do. Will they let us become the next Liverpool (who, by the way, did win silverware last year) and fall completely from grace, or will they act to restore a team that was one of the most exciting in Europe a few short years ago? Will they finally find someone willing to spend money and stop betting on long shots from inferior leagues? Will youth first at any cost continue to be the Arsenal model no matter what? And will they keep faith in the profit-monger extraordinaire at the expense of the fans and the future of the club? 

I worry that the answer to these questions is a resounding yes and that Gooners will have to set their expectations at a level commensurate with those of Wenger, minus 10 to 20 points. One hopes someone is willing to take on the dying king and restore order to an organization on the decline. Maybe its Gazidis? Maybe we talk David Dein into coming back. Maybe it's a new coach. Or maybe it's that crazy Russian. But something has to change and it has to start with Wenger. Even if he does pull off another miracle this year, it shouldn't be enough for any fan ... or the players for that matter. Wenger must go, should be our collective cry until the inevitable becomes reality. Let him go to Madrid. I would be happy for him and us.   

P.S. Most of the top teams in the world have three to four strikers. Man City has Dzeko, Tevez and Aguero, even after Balotelli left. Man U have the best four in the world with RvP (remember him?), Rooney, Welbeck and Hernandez. Real Madrid have Ronaldo, Higuan, Benzema and Di Maria. Etc., etc. Even Everton have more options than us up front with Anechebe, Mirallas,  Jelavic, Naismith and Vellios. Anyone who continues to support Wenger at this point is insane. 

Arsenal Draw 2-2 with Liverpool

Another inauspicious start, more defensive frailties and a much improved second half. This has become the story of Arsenal's second half of the season and while they might take some momentum from the two goal comeback, it was another disappointing result at the Emirates when they had a chance to gain two points on Tottenham (who drew as well with a late breathtaking goal from Gareth Bale). The scoring started in the 5th minute when Sagna fell down as Suraez passed him into the box. He sent the ball across the box and Vermaelen missed what should have been an easy clearance, leaving Sturridge on goal. Szczesny saved well and the ball careened out, only to land a Suarez's feet. He shot and the ball deflected off Mertesacker and into the goal. A minute later Walcott was in with a chance to equalize, but missed the opportunity. Another arrived in the 24th minute, as a lovely overhead pass from Cazorla found Walcott on the edge of the box, but his touch sent him to the outside and another opportunity was lost. The rest of the first half, Arsenal lacked fluency in attack and was lucky to enter the locker room at 1-0 after Podolski cleared a ball on the line in the 26th minute after a bad pass from Mertesacker almost let in a second. Gibbs came up limp in and was subbed for the awful Santos in the 35th minute.  It was a half to forget, with Cazorla missing several passes between a couple of gems, Walcott blowing two clear opportunities including an opportunity to cross for what might have been an easy goal and sending a couple of corners too high in the air. Sagna had another forgettable half and game in general and Vermaelen continued to show defensive frailties that must be worrying to Wenger. Szczesny was also below par, except for the early save for nought and was lucky to get away with getting caught on the edge of the box right before half time as Henderson chipped over him and just high of an easy goal.

The second half was much improved from Arsenal, but included another horrific bit of defending, with Henderson getting past Santos, Mertesacker failing to defend and Ramsey crashing in for an attempted clearance that fell back to Henderson, who coolly finished past Sz. Arsenal woke up from here though and started pressing further up the field. The breakthrough came in the 67th minute when Wilshire sent a free kick across the box and onto the head of the attacking Giroud, who put in his 5th goal in his past three games. Less than three minutes later, they had equalized as a nice run from Cazorla culminated in a pass to Walcott on to Giroud, who laid off to Walcott again for a lovely finish across goal. It was 2-2 on 67 minutes and Arsenal looked ready for a nice comeback to culminate with three points. Unfortunately our finishing let us down yet again, with Mertesacker missing an open header on a corner, Walcott just missing, Reina making a nice save on a Giroud shot and then Giroud missing three good chances to score (one on an open header, another on a lovely cross from Podolski that was slightly behind the Frenchman but that any good striker should have clipped into the open goal and a third late header). Santos almost gifted the game to Liverpool in the 93rd minute, but luckily the ensuing attack led to nothing. So Arsenal still sit in sixth place, four points off of Tottenham and three below Everton (who won 2-1). Thoughts from the game ...

1. Full Back Troubles: Gibbs is now out for three weeks and with Santos as the only viable backup, we are going into an important period with one of the worst left backs in the league (Santos). I'm not sure who else we can blame but Wenger, who has had this problem since the end of last season but has done nothing to address it. On the right, Sagna had another awful game and his defensive frailties and inability to get crosses in with any regularity are really hurting the team. It is time to give Jenkinson a game there, lest we fall completely out of the race for fourth.

2. Middle-complex: another area where Arsenal have shown real weakness is at center-half. Mertesacker was our most consistent performer throughout the first half of the season, but his lack of pace and some errors have really hurt us in recent games. Vermaelen has been below average far too often this year, and had a great chance to equalize in the first half free on goal, but inexplicably took two touches and lost the chance. Their backup is Kos, who has cost Arsenal two key games -- against Chelsea and Man City and just doesn't seem to be the player he was last season. QPR just signed Samba and one wonders why we didn't even try for him, the Frenchman who went to Newcastle or anyone else. With Squillaci as the fourth choice, we will be shipping goals the rest of the season at this rate.

3. Oh Wenger: with less than 24 hours to the close of the Winter Transfer Window, Wenger has done nothing, and it shows. I have just outlined our defensive problems, but we clearly need a defensive midfielder and striker (as well as a winger, arguably). But Wenger appears unable or unwilling to do any business as Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United, Everton and even QPR made important signing (most of the teams in the premiership made at least one arguably good move). In this game, playing Ramsey, Cazorla and Wilshire in midfield clearly backfired, as the defense was left to largely fend for themselves and paid for it with two weak goals conceded. There are options out there and we just aren't trying hard enough to get them. M'Villa went to Russia, Capoueoa appears set to join our rivals, Wanyama might be available and there are other options as well. Why neither Arteta nor Diaby started is beyond me and further proof that Wenger should take the offer at Real or PSG and let someone take a shot

Looking at the squad overall, I have outlined our clear needs in defense including a backup left back, a centre-half (in my opinion) and maybe another right back if Sagna keeps playing this poorly. He seems to lack focus, confidence and quickness at the moment, and maybe a little motivation if the rumours from a few months back are true. Moving to the midfield, I think Cazorla, Wilshire and even Ramsey are solid attacking players, but we need a defensive midfielder to shore up the defense. Arteta has been adequate when he's available, but he isn't the sort of rough presence we need. And while Diaby could get back to form, one can't see him really playing the enforcer role either, as his fragile body just can't be risked. Looking at the attack, it appears we need a backup at left wing, as Podolski generally doesn't play 90 minutes (though he has twice now) and can never move to the middle unless someone can take over (Ramsey's improvement does not mean he is a viable option here to me). On the right, Walcott is playing great and Ox is the backup, but who do we have to play striker besides Giroud? Oh yeah, our starting wingers. That's absurd and why Wenger won't bid on anyone besides the 31-year old Villa (who we probably won't get) is beyond me. Jovetic is a good option, even at 20 million, we should have bid for Ba and there are other interesting choices across Europe. 

I know I am a broken record, but this draw should seal the fate of Wenger. He simply refuses to spend money to fill the holes in the squad, doesn't seem to have any answers to the poor starts we have made in one big game after another this year (against Tottenham (when we were saved by an early Red), Manchester United (the gifted goal from Vermaelen to old teammate RVP), Man City (Kos' red), Chelsea (another early goal) and now Liverpool. We could easily have won this game 3 or 4-0, or lost it 4-2 to be fair, but it is yet another big game that our players have started poorly. As is so often the case, our comebacks fall short because we still don't have any real impact subs to come on to score those late equalizers or winners. Giroud was probably tired, but he had the best chance of maybe seven after we had squared the match. Instead we head into the weekend dropping another two points, with a tough match against Stoke. Go Gunners; but Wenger please go!     

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The New Economy: More than Justice at Stake

With growing poverty and inequality, there is a clear social justice argument for challenging the central tenets of neoliberalism. But there is also a purely economic argument for challenging these trends. The American economy today, unlike during the Great Depression, is 70 percent consumption. That means only 30 percent is left for savings, investment and government spending. Thus the big driver of our economy is consumer spending -- not surprising given the $300-400 billion advertisers spend to keep us upping our internal debt limits. Those with less disposable income tend to have a smaller propensity to save and this means that tax cuts to the middle class in fact have a much larger positive impact on the economy that further tax cuts for the rich (see The New Republic for a longer analysis of this point).

Republicans have long argued that increasing taxes on the rich (aka "job creators") will cost America jobs and economic prosperity. But there is little evidence to support this contention. Certainly taxing at excessive levels lowers the marginal benefit of innovation and hard work, but we are generally talking about small increases (for example returning to the Clinton era top rate of 39 percent). In fact, if the government collects additional income from the wealthy, and then spends it on, say, a $50 billion infrastructure program, an extension of unemployment insurance and a Social Security payroll tax cut, as Obama has proposed, that would not only boost the economy, but help stamp some of the riskiest behavior among the Wall Street set. 

Tax cuts for the middle and working class thus are a stimulus to the economy, as they spend more of that additional income than would the wealthy. But the ancillary benefit might be more important. When the wealthy have additional income, they often invest that income in increasingly riskier ventures (the driving forces of Wall Street being fear and greed). While this is often an important impetus to innovation (ala venture capital funding), it can also lead to highly speculative investments that fails -- as was the case before the Great Depression and back in 2007-08. So a tax rise for the wealthiest Americans in fact has a two-pronged positive effect on the economy: by shifting income to those more likely to spend it and by better managing risk overall (a key function of Wall Street that they have largely abrogated over the past decade plus). As Americans spend more money, aggregate demand rises and thus the need for companies to supply that increase in demand. This leads to additional employment and still further increases in aggregate demand. 

The major argument against this approach is that it will cause upward pressure on prices (and wages) -- otherwise known as inflation. But if wages and prices rise at similar rates, inflation is only negative to long term investments (if the inflation rate is higher than the rate of return, there is a net loss on that investment for the period). While excessive inflation is a problem, a slight uptick is really only detrimental to, guess who? The wealthy again. Just as government investment puts upward pressure on prices, so does a real stimulus for the middle class. Yet in an economy where unemployment has remained historically high, real wages have declined and economic growth has been largely stagnant, it seems like the most sensible policy. The reality of the economy over the past twenty years is increases in corporate profits and productivity, but a worsening economic circumstance and quality of life for the average American. Isn't it time to do something about it? Unfortunately, the answer so far appears to be no -- as the end of the payroll tax cut and still increasing costs of healthcare have only worsened the situation for the middle class. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Arsenal 3-2 Brighton (FA Cup)

Arsenal largely dominated this encounter throughout, but two defensive lapses kept it close until Walcott settled it with an 84th minute winner. The scoring started in the 15th minute, after a great save by Szczesny stopped a Brighton striker in on goal. Rosicky drove forward with resolve and speed and passed to Podolski in the box, who laid the ball off for Giroud to send it into the top left corner of the net from 18 yards out. But as has happened so often this season, rather than put the encounter beyond doubt, Arsenal settled into a lazy defensive mold, failing to press or push forward with resolve, giving the ball up regularly and casually showing off before the equalizer came in the 32nd minute after a short corner (given up by the consistently terrible Santos) was crossed into the Gunners box and no one on the squad, including Sz, reacted -- leaving two Brighton players to decide who should head into goal. It was the 10th goal Arsenal has given up on set pieces this year and reaffirms a sense that Bould and his zonal marking just aren't working at present.

The Gunners started with more resolve in the second half and a great overhead pass by Diaby was taken down with real style by Giroud before he pounded it into the Albion net, giving him his second brace in less than a week. Within five minutes, Brighton were even yet again, after another shambolic effort at defending by Santos and Mertesacker allowed a cross to come in undefended and a free header on goal. Wenger had seen enough and Walcott and Wilshire replaced a relatively tame Ox and better Rosicky in the 68th minute. Arsenal looked dangerous fro that moment on, though most of the traveling fans must have felt more confident after Santos came off for Gibbs in the 78th minute. After scrambling forward, a corner led to the decisive goal in the 84th minute, as Walcott settled on a ball coming out of the box and careened it off a Brighton defender and into the net. A cross in the 90th minute almost led to yet another equalizer, but Arsenal left the visitors with the victory and no need for a replay in the busy upcoming schedule. 

It was not a stellar performance by the team overall and they must consider themselves lucky to win, but there were a number of positives including the play of Diaby who seems to be coming back into form and fitness, the return of Rosicky, who had a decent game and provided the assist to the assist on the first goal, another late goal from Walcott who has had a few this year and, much further to the South -- another good performance by Gervinho in the African Cup of Nations. What did we learn from the game? 

1. Our Defending is too Disorganized: though this is well-trodden ground, it is worth repeating after another awful performance from our back four, including a very average game for our best defender this year -- Mertesacker. Koscielny is clearly not the same player he was last season and we are lacking a fourth centre-back who can establish order when we lose focus. Jenkinson came in for Sagna in the game, and performed adequately, though his passing was average and he gave the ball away dangerously on several occasions. Zonal marking on set pieces is clearly not working though, and Bould's early success in restoring confidence in the defense has seemed to completely disappear. Letting french defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa go to Newcastle seems to me like a big mistake.

2. We still Need a Striker: while Walcott continued to score (his 17th in all competitions this season) and Giroud put in his second brace in a row, we still lack even a second striker when we start Podolski, Giroud and Walcott on the front line. Wenger appeared to admit this in an interview after the game and one hopes he actually signs someone worthwhile. The obvious targets are Villa from Barca of Jovetic from Fiorentina. But if we don't pick one up, one has to wonder why we didn't go in for Ba. Adrian Lopez seems another target, though the summer might be a more realistic time to sign him (Llorente is now gone as an option after pre-signing with Juve last week).

3. Andre Santos Must Go: I decided to include a post specifically related to this player who has disgraced himself and the team the entire season. When he first arrived in 2011, he was a relatively unknown quality and contributed positively to the team (though the defensive weaknesses were clear, particularly against Chelsea). Then he was injured in the meaningless final game of the Champion's League qualifier again Olympiakos and has never looked the same player. This year, it is not just the lack of quality but lack of effort that have made him a figure of scorn across Arsenal nation. Not only did he lose his license in London and exchange shirts with RVP at HALFTIME of the Manchester game, but he appears completely uninterested on the pitch when he does appear. He jogged out toward the right winger on the second equalizer, took two absurd shots from at least 35 yards out on either side of halftime and just didn't seem to care most of the game. He is a liability whenever he is on the pitch and is symptomatic of everything wrong with Arsenal at the moment.

4. Giroud Could Become a Top Striker: Giroud sometimes looks like a guy who has never played football before with his poorly-timed jumps, awful first touches and lumbering runs (he actually started the game later than most); other times he looks like a genius. He has all the attributes of a top-class striker except speed, but clearly needs to improve his consistency and finishing to move to the next level. But if the last two games are an indicator, he might be ready to do so. He can shoot with both feet (though he prefers the left), has a nice touch and increasingly heads the ball to spaces where others like Walcott or Pod can latch on and thrust forward. He makes quality runs and no one can critique his level of effort. And though he needs to work on his defensive headers, his role in the defense has been important on more than one occasion this campaign. While he will probably never rise to the heights of RvP, I could certainly see him contribute 20+ goals a year moving forward (and with his passing and vision, some important assists to boot).

5. Wenger Must Go: I am more positive about the Gunners after the past two results, and a good week ahead could put real pressure on Tottenham, but Wenger seems unwilling to make the changes necessary to challenge for titles and win silverware. We have clear needs in defense, for a defensive midfielder and a striker, yet Arsene continues to argue that there is "no quality" out there? Really? Newcastle has signed several players, Man United signed one of the most exciting young talents in English football (Zaha), Tottenham signed our supposed target Holtby, M'Villa went to Russia and Chelsea added Ba. And there are still quality players available if we are willing to stump up the cash and convince them to come. But this isn't the only reason Wenger should go. One consistent outcome of history is that leadership that lingers on too long with too much power rarely succeeds. Totalitarian and authoritarian tendencies become institutionalized, the leader develops a God complex and the ability for the social organization to change are tempered by a tired complacency. That appears to be the case with Arsenal over the past several years. I listened to an interview with RvP today on Fox Soccer, and he seemed to indicate clearly that the difference between the Gunners and Red Devils was the winner's attitude in the locker room, on the training ground and during games. He intimated that that used to exist at Arsenal (when he first arrived nine years ago) but had disappeared in the intervening years. 

To reiterate a belaboured point, there are several areas in which Wenger has failed as a coach including 1. transfer policy, 2. retaining his best players, 3. formational flexibility/preparation for opponents and 4. motivating his players. Recent articles have highlighted his role in each of these areas and the fact that he has complete control over our oddly socialistic wage scheme (where young players and subs are paid salaries far above the range they would receive anywhere else and our best players are underpaid in comparison to our main rivals). The reality is that Wenger is too stubborn and dictatorial to listen to those around him (including the media, his coaches and his own players) and seems intent on proving that his approach of youth first, finding diamonds in the rough and balancing the books can work. It clearly doesn't and though I dream of a Wembley final appearance in the FA cup, it still wouldn't be enough for me to buy into the Wenger plan any longer.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Arsenal Wins 5-1

After a draw and two disheartening losses in a row, the Gunners returned to form at the Emirates and pulled off a complete destruction of West Ham in a must win situation. While it was a resounding victory that included 70% possession, 22 shots to 9 and 13 corners to 5, it didn't start as Wenger would have hoped. In the 17th minute, a West Ham corner was not headed out sufficiently by Giroud and Jack Collison sent a scorcher past a helpless Szczesny. But Arsenal were level within five minutes as Podolski sent an even more impressive shot in from 20 or so yards out into the corner of the net. It was just the beginning for the German international, who added three assists in a blistering 12 minute span of the second half that put the game away (including passing up a clear chance for a brace slotting the ball across to Cazorla, who rolled the ball in with a nifty back foot finish). Giroud added two more, first pushing Arsenal ahead with a nice run to the near post on a short Walcott corner that he slammed off Jaaskelainen and in and then adding the fifth after yet another cross from Pod. Pod also set up Walcott from the left, with the newly resigned winger finishing strongly at the near post. 

It was a necessary and impressive victory for Arsenal, who now move a point off fifth (Everton) and four off fourth place (Tottenham) with 15 matches to play.  The flow of passing and interchanges were impressive throughout and everyone contributed. Cazorla had another good game, including the goal. Giroud had two goals and the assist to the assist, as well as controlling, holding up and distributing balls consistently. Podolski was the star of the day and Ramsey again showed real improvement after his horrific start to the season. Gibbs was strong in the back and forged forward on numerous occasions. His speed and tackling ability appear to improve with each game and few left backs in the league have his dribbling abilities. Sagna was more solid on the right and Wilshire made run after run, though he does have to learn that he is not good enough to beat three and four defenders on the dribble. And the back line handled the occasional pressure with aplomb, after ceding the early goal.

The most positive aspect of the game, besides the three points, was the effort level, which was consistent from the start until the 102nd minute (12 minutes extra time because of a long stoppage after Daniel Potts was knocked out on the pitch). Arsenal pressed all over the field, broke up West Ham attacks and pushed forward with intent throughout. The game again begs the question of why Arsenal so often don't show up early in games and how they can ever go 90 minutes without a goal. Yet if Giroud gets back in form, Walcott keeps contributing and Cazorla and Wilshire continue to create from the middle forward, this could be the beginning of a nice run for the Gunners. It is clear that we still need to pick up some players and Wenger actually ended his post-match conference early claiming he had some transfer work to do (one wonders if it has to do with Diame, who is rumored to be on his way as backup to Diaby). The most promising news of the window is our pursuit of Cavani and this could be the sort of boost that keep the pressure on Tottenham and a Chelsea team that looks increasingly lost (one really has to wonder if Abramovich hasn't undermined the team this year by sacking De Matteo and putting in Benitez, as they have now failed in four opportunities at silverware and only really have the FA Cup and maybe Europa league left as possibilities). Next up is Brighton in the FA Cup and then tough home matches against a surging Liverpool and resilient Stoke. Three more victories on the bounce, however, could start to right the ship. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gun Violence, Economic Distress, Global Poverty ... Pshaw

While global poverty and global warming continue to reek havoc, the American economy stands on the precipice of another economic downturn, the prospects for retirement and quality healthcare for baby boomers are jeopardized and debates ramble on about gun control, Congressional ineptitude and women's reproductive rights, the media seeks to find a ray of hope in our troubled times. Or at least something that is worthy of our time and attention? Or at least something that interests us? Well, maybe not. The latest news to send the Internet afire is the startling photo showing Michelle Obama rolling her eyes at Republican House Speaker John Boehner (Yahoo News). Thank God the fourth estate, which once took down a president, is keeping us safe from corruption and malfeasance!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Taking Online Dating to the Next Level

If those commercials are to be believed, more relationships are starting online than in any other way. But what of the people who have trouble in both the material world and in meeting someone special online? Don't fret ... a fake online girlfriend is just a few bucks away. Yes that's right, for a few bucks and a host of other sites will provide you with a cyber-girlfriend who can send you texts, post messages to your facebook and even have a profile that lists you as her "in relationship" partner. While the sites are often used by those who just want to make someone jealous, or maybe as an online form of the beard, it also alleviates the pressure of those young virgins who had girlfriends in the "Niagara Falls area." Cyber jobs that you pay for, cyber friends (oh wait, that already exists on Facebook et al) and cyber cars that you can pretend to take from point A to point B should be soon to follow ...