2013: SANTA UNDER FIRE AGAIN FOR CANCELLING CHRISTMAS PRESENTS

Couldn’t resist pulling together another edition of Christmas satire with more bad puns, holiday references, and current events. This year I’m going with arguably the biggest story of the second half of the year, the Obamacare rollout. Lots of new jokes to explore here. As always this is purely for fun and NOT meant to be a political statement for or against the Affordable Care Act.

Merry Christmas and enjoy!

(NORTH POLE) – Santa Claus came under fire again today after it was revealed that millions of people would lose their presents on January 1st, despite previous promises from the administration that it would not happen. This is the latest setback in the troubled rollout of Santa’s controversial signature legislation, The Affordable Gift Act (AGA), more popularly known as “Santacare.”

The gifts being discontinued in the new year are ones that do not meet the minimum standards set out by Santacare. While popular with lower income shoppers because they are cheap, recipients are sometimes disappointed when they find holiday sweaters, Nickelback CDs, or fruitcake under the tree. Under the AGA, these shoppers will have to purchase better presents. This is despite Santa promising earlier this year that “Ho, ho ho, if you like your current present, you can keep it!”

Today’s controversial announcement comes less than a month after the disastrous launch of Santa Claus’s Christmas website presents.gov. The site was designed to let Christmas shoppers post their wish lists and shop for presents, but it has been marred by technical problems since Black Friday. With only a few shopping days left until Christmas, some are wondering whether they will be able to get all their presents in time.

Critics of the law have pointed to the website’s troubles as a sign of the impracticality of such an ambitious law. “Giving presents to every person in the world? That’s impossible! That’s not what Christmas is all about,” said outspoken Santacare opponent Ebenezer Scrooge.

On both sides of the aisle, there have been calls for the North Pole to delay Christmas until February so shoppers will have more time to select their gifts. Even supporters of the law worry that not enough children will sign up to make the law work. Santacare relies on the Christmas cheer of children to balance out the humbuggery of adults.

So far, Santa has maintained that Christmas will remain on December 25th and that delaying the holiday until February could potentially create confusion with Valentine’s Day. The North Pole announced last week that they were bringing in Silicon Valley’s brightest minds for a “tech surge” to fix presents.gov. In the meantime, shoppers can still send their Christmas wish lists in the form of a written letter to Santa. Additionally, there are over 5,000 trained mall Santas in cities across the world that can help shoppers navigate what they want for Christmas.

Technology experts have pointed out that presents.gov likely was doomed to fail before it even launched. The website had to be available in every language on earth and connect to the antiquated Naughty or Nice database in order to verify gift eligibility. Presents.gov was built by CGI, the same Canadian company that built most of the ill-fated healthcare.gov website.

Even if the site improves before Christmas, Santa still has a lot of work left to convince his critics this law will work. “There is a lot of heat on Santa right now,” said Texas Senator Ted Cruz. “His chestnuts are definitely roasting on an open fire.”

2012: Mitt Romney Takes on Santa

For this year’s Christmas satire, I wanted to take one last look at the 2012 Presidential Election and Governor Mitt Romney.

After a hotly contested election, Mitt ultimately fell short of his goals. With his political career in the U.S. all but over, the former governor turned north for a fresh start. In early December 2012, Mr. Romney announced he would be challenging Santa Claus for the North Pole presidency. The following transcript is taken from a speech Mr. Romney gave at a fundraiser held by Frosty and his SuperPAC, Snowmen for Prosperity.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I’m Mitt Romney and I have to say, gosh darn-it it feels good to be here at the North Pole. I was born in Michigan and this place reminds me a lot of my home state. There’s something about the North Pole that just feels right. The candy canes are just the right height and the snow is just the right shade of white. And the people, oh the people are some of the nicest I’ve met anywhere in the world. In fact, the Romneys have a lot in common with North Poles: Ann drives a couple of sleighs. I eat my figgy pudding just like you.

What I want to talk about tonight is taking this country back from Santa’s liberal agenda and returning to traditional North Pole values of hard work and spreading cheer. There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for Santa no matter what. There are 47 percent who are dependent upon handouts, who believe that because it’s Christmas they are entitled to gifts like toys, sweaters, a Lexus, you name it. Forty-seven percent of North Poles don’t go Christmas shopping at all. My role is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and buy their own presents.

Recently, we’ve seen a lot of the elves blame snowmen for the economic downturn and fiscal troubles, saying that your kind continues to do well while the elves at the Workshop suffer. Well, I have something to say to those folks. Snowmen are people my friend. They create jobs. Someone has to roll them up into giant snow balls and then put decorations on them. Rocks for their eyes, mouth and coat buttons. A carrot for a nose. A hat and a scarf so they don’t get cold. Those jobs put money into the pockets of ordinary people. Snow shouldn’t be taxed at a different rate just because it happens to fall from the sky.

If elected president, the first thing I will do is cut funding to Christmas movies. I like Christmas movies, I love “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” I even kind of like “It’s a Wonderful Life” but I’m not going to borrow money from China for Snoopy and more remakes of “A Christmas Carol.” I will run the North Pole like a business and shrink the size of government. If any reindeer isn’t pulling his weight, I will fire them. I like being able to fire animals that pull my sleigh.

In order to revive our economy, I’m going to get government out of people’s lives and let the private sector do its job. What is Santa doing up on the housetop? Why is he watching you when you’re sleeping? He doesn’t need to know if you’ve been bad or good- let the free market decide. Santa Claus should not be in the business of telling people to get health insurance or children not to pout.

I believe in the North Pole. I believe that with the right leadership and the right policies, we can make the Christmas spirit a reality again. If you want to restore this great nation to its frozen glory I ask you for your support and to vote Mitt Romney. Now if you’ll join me, let’s celebrate the holiday season with a rendition of “The Christmas Song.”

This piece does not reflect my views on politics, Christmas, or Mitt Romney. It is intended purely for comedic relief.

2011: Police Evict Occupy Protesters on Eve of Christmas Holiday

Christmas satire: you know the drill. This year was almost too easy. Once again, this piece is purely for comical purposes and does not reflect my personal views about Christmas, the Occupy movement, or anything else for that matter.

(North Pole) – Protesters from the Occupy North Pole movement were evicted by police from their campsite in northern Greenland after several warnings from local authorities. Witnesses reported a few skirmishes between police and protesters. Demonstrators threw snowballs at riot police, who reciprocated with pepper spray and batons. Several arrests were made, but as of midnight Christmas morning the area was cleared.

The protest, which began on Black Friday is an off-shoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement that has sprung up all around the world. The North Pole protest is mostly made up of disgruntled elves from Santa’s Workshop but also includes atheists, scrooges, and grinches. Although they have been vague about any specific demands, protesters have rallied around the slogan “We are the 99%,” referring to the gross inequality between the top earners and the rest of North Pole society. In particular, Santa Claus has become a target of ONP’s grievances. Several protesters held signs asking Santa to return all his profits from Christmas.

“It’s time we stopped coddling the fat cats in the workshop. I mean literally, have you seen the waistline on Santa? He should really think about losing some weight,” said one protester on the ONP Facebook page.

“The 1%, or Santa, controls a disproportionate amount of wealth and power in the North Pole,” said an ONP spokeself. She pointed to a statistic that 70% of Christmas carols are about Santa. “There are a few about Frosty and Rudolph, but how many songs are about elves? None! The most famous Christmas elf is Buddy and he’s not even a real elf. Even snow and trees- inanimate objects- get more love than we do. It’s like we don’t exist!”

Although called Occupy North Pole, the ONP encampment was actually located on the northern tip of Greenland. Protesters were forced to move further south because the polar ice caps at the actual North Pole were too thin for such a large gathering to take place. Since last week though, tensions started rising between the protesters and the Danish government, which owns Greenland.

“We respect Occupy North Pole’s right to assemble and express their views, but none of the protesters have visas. They are here illegally so we kindly ask them to leave Greenland or face deportation,” Danish authorities said in a written statement. The protesters argued that no one lives in northern Greenland anyway.

The ONP protesters came out for a variety of reasons but the predominant issue appeared to be economic. As a result of globalization and the weak economy, many workshop elves have been laid off and seen their savings disappear.

“I used to have a good paying job building toys in Santa’s Workshop, but now that job has been outsourced to a factory in China,” said one unemployed elf. “Santa is only focused on profits, he doesn’t care about us. We want him to be accountable to the North Pole people.” The elf said if he couldn’t find a job by New Year’s, he would go down south after the holidays to look for work baking cookies in trees.

Others complained about the death of the Christmas spirit. “Christmas used to be a special time of year, a time when you would be rewarded if you were good all year,” said an older protester. “Now it’s commercialized and all about profit. Do we really need five golden rings? Eight geese a laying? It’s excessive.”

Conservative critics have countered ONP’s claims, arguing that the wealthy create jobs during Christmas time. “Of course I’m a job creator,” said one holiday shopper. “In the last twelve days, I gifted 12 drummers drumming, 11 pipers piping, 10 lords a leaping, 9 ladies dancing, and 8 maids a milking. That’s 50 jobs right there.”

The protests also attracted some more extreme demonstrators. An anti-immigration elf held a sign saying “Not a Feliz Navidad.” Several animal rights activists wore “Free Rudolph” shirts.

Despite the eviction, the official ONP Twitter feed posted a defiant message this morning. “The 99% cannot be stopped. Protest will continue in Canada after X-mas #ONP”

2010: WikiLeaks Releases Thousands of Classified Christmas Documents

It’s that time of year again: Christmas satire! The combination of Christmas spirit, more free time, and the end of a year gets my satirical creative juices flowing for another politically toned take on Christmas. As always, this is purely for amusement and not a reflection of my personal views about politics, WikiLeaks, or Christmas. And in case you were wondering, I have not read the original leaked documents. Enjoy!

WikiLeaks Releases Thousands of Classified Christmas Documents 

(North Pole) – The website WikiLeaks released thousands of new classified North Pole documents today, providing an inside look into the secretive world of Santa’s workshop and Christmas politics. WikiLeaks published millions of entries from the Workshop’s top secret Naughty List which indicates who will get lumps of coal this year. The dump comes after Santa ignored an ultimatum from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to answer criminal charges for an alleged hit and run.

“While Santa and his helpers have been anticipating this moment, we are still disgusted by what appears to be one man’s personal crusade against Christmas,” said a spokes-elf at a North Pole press conference today. “Mrs. Claus is on the phone right now with children from around the world to apologize for Mr. Assange’s irresponsible actions. The three words that best describe him are as follows, and I quote, ‘stink, stank, stunk!’”

Mr. Assange could not be reached for comment, but he did post the following message to his Twitter page: “Fa la la la la suckers: It’s going to be a nightmare before Christmas at the North Pole!” The source of these leaks is reported to be a disgruntled rogue elf who has since been detained by North Pole authorities. The elf’s name has not been released.

A significant portion of Santa’s Naughty List was obtained by WikiLeaks earlier this year and shared with The New York TimesThe Guardian, and Der Spiegel. The leak confirmed what Christmas experts have long suspected about certain members of the Naughty List. Some entries published by The New York Times include: “Billy the bully is dumb as a rock and really insecure on the inside,” “Suzy might be the most popular girl at school, but she’s a cut throat bitch with no real friends,” and “We all know Joey’s smart, but why does he have to rub it in everyone’s faces? He just makes everyone else look bad.”

“The leaks will not mean the end of Christmas. It was common knowledge that Santa had a Naughty List. It is however a big embarrassment for the North Pole that the big reveal came before Christmas morning. It kind of ruins the surprise,” said Christmas expert Bing Crosby.

Workshop workers were told not to read the WikiLeaks cables if they wished to keep their jobs. Sources confirm that the WikiLeaks and New York Times websites have been blocked at the North Pole.

Public opinion about Mr. Assange has been mixed. Some have hailed him as a defender of free speech and for revealing abuses of power. However, he has also been criticized for his insensitivity and indiscriminate methods.

“I’m all for transparency and open information, but some aspects of Christmas are meant to be secret and logic defying. I mean talking snowmen, glowing reindeer, and flying sleighs? Crazy, I know, but how’s the big guy supposed to do his job without some trade secrets?” asked Scott Calvin, an advertising executive.

Mr. Assange has his own team of helpers though. A group of online WikiLeaks supporters known only as “Anonymous” created a Facebook group this morning calling for a DDoC, or Distributed Denial of Chimney attack. The group asked members to board up their fireplaces so that Santa could not enter their homes on Christmas Eve. “THIS IS WAR!” posted the group’s admin, which was “liked” by 1500 users.

This latest dump came after a separate leak 12 days ago showed a possible cover-up by Santa’s helpers in a 1979 hit and run. Those documents feature allegations from an unidentified man that his grandma was run over by a reindeer. While Santa’s official statement was that he was not in the area at the time of the accident, police took a statement from a neighbor who saw her mommy kissing Santa Claus on the same day. The North Pole has refused to comment about the case.

While the Christmas controversy may blow over after December 25th, Mr. Assange has recently stated that he has new “damning” evidence of criminal activity by the Easter Bunny during the salmonella egg recall of 2010. Assange said these documents will be released in late spring of 2011.

For now, the North Pole s still trying to contain the current situation with just a few days left until Christmas. “The fact that these cables were released so close to Christmas goes entirely against the spirit of the holiday,” said the spokes-elf. “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

2009: Why Santa Tracker will lead to socialism (and other bad things)

Another year, another Christmas piece. This time it’s an op-ed on one of the most flagrant misuses of military resources and taxpayer money of the last half century. 

When I logged onto CNN this morning to check up on the world, an innocent little piece on NORAD’s Santa tracker caught my eye. For those of you who don’t know, you can track Santa’s journey each year at www.noradsanta.org. However, the more I read through this article the more angry I got. I came to see this program for what it really is: an irresponsible use of our nation’s military to allow the government to brainwash our children.

The first thing that shocked me was how this whole thing got started. Calls about Santa Claus first got directed to the military in 1955 because of a mistake in a Sears newspaper ad. Yet instead of hanging up on these annoying little brats asking about Santa’s progress, the military decided to devote mass amounts of resources to answer these calls. This was at the height of the Cold War! What if the Soviets decided to attack us? NORAD wouldn’t be able to warn Washington because their phone lines would be clogged up. Even worse it set the precedent for government bailouts of corporate failures. It was Sears’ fault that they put the wrong phone number in their ad. They should be the ones responsible for dealing with all the ruined childhoods.

Today, NORAD’s Santa tracking operations have evolved into an expensive, high tech bureaucracy of 1,275. Yet even more important than the manpower it consumes is the technological resources it draws away from vital national security operations such as border patrols and capturing terrorists. While NORAD uses satellites, radar, hidden cameras, and fighter jets follow Santa, they could be missing a nuclear missile launch from North Korea or Osama bin Laden leaving his cave for a smoke. What’s worse is NORAD broadcasts this data all over the Internet and on social networking sites so now the whole world knows about our top secret military surveillance technology.

All for what? To push the government’s pro-Google agenda on America’s children. Children are vulnerable and they will believe almost anything if you sneak your message to them in the guise of “Christmas.” By making them use Google Map to track Santa, the government is brainwashing them into thinking Google is the only search and mapping company out there. If the government continues to have its way, a whole generation of children will never know Bing, Yahoo!, or Mapquest. Pretty soon this country will turn into Russia where people give up all their privacy to Google and subscribe to Obama’s socialist agenda (via Google Reader).

Also what happened to separation of church and state? Why is the military only tracking Santa? What makes him so special? Shouldn’t it be tracking the tooth fairy and Easter bunny as well? What about a map that shows all the menorahs in the world? Or a tally of all the Festivus poles? Non-denominational holiday trees? This is another attempt by the religious right to use taxpayer money to push their beliefs onto others. If the military wants to track one holiday, it has to track them all.

So write to your senators and congressional representatives now and demand that they kill NORAD’s Santa tracker if you care about your child’s future. The post office is closed over the holidays, but you can reach them right NOW if you use Gmail. Go before it’s too late!

Obviously this is a piece of satire. The views expressed above are not indicative of my own and not all the so called “facts” are actual facts. To read the article itself (which is real and originally appeared on CNET), go tohttp://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/12/24/cnet.norad.santa.tracker/index.html

2008: Is Santa a Democrat or Republican?

Here’s a last minute Christmas gift for all you political junkies out there. I’ve been coming up with ideas for over a week now and yeah I’m kind of bored. Disclaimer: This is meant to be purely comical and not an indication of my political beliefs in any way.

Is Santa a Democrat or Republican? Let’s take an issue by issue look:

Economy
Santa is a big fan of the free market and laissez faire capitalism. There’s a reason why his workshop is located at the North Pole: he’s free from any government taxation and regulation. If he were to operate out of the U.S., he would be in violation of anti-trust laws. His operation would probably be divided into several smaller regional companies like AT&T was divided into the Baby Bells. Also Santa would have to pay tariffs on all the gifts he delivered in Canada and Mexico were it not for NAFTA. Santa’s operating costs would skyrocket and you’d see a lot more unemployed elves wandering around our streets.
Winner: Republican

Bailout
Santa is not a big fan of the bailout. Santa has operated independently through thick and thin without any assistance from the government. The tooth fairy though has been asking for a federal loan to keep afloat as the price of teeth has not kept up with inflation.
Winner: Republican

National Security
It doesn’t get more obvious than this. Santa was the first in the world to gather intelligence using warrant less wiretaps. “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.” Maybe the NSA should hire him as a part-time consultant during the summer.
Winner: Republican

Environment
Santa is very environmentally conscious. If you think about it, Santa’s sleigh is the ultimate zero-emissions vehicle because it emits absolutely nothing (except an occasional reindeer dropping). Yet it can safely travel wintry weather at incredibly high speeds. Santa is also very concerned about climate change because his real estate is literally floating out to sea.
Winner: Democrat

Welfare
This one isn’t as obvious as you think. While free gifts on Christmas would seem like the ultimate handout, he only gives presents out to those on the nice list. So yes, it’s a handout, but it’s more like a work subsidy to reward those with good behavior. The bad kids get a lump of coal, although in this economic situation I would actually consider it a gift given the value and utility of coal (I would assume it’s clean coal given what was established above). Santa needs to reconsider his naughty list policy. Might I recommend stuffing their stockings with mortgage backed securities?
Winner: Democrat

Gay Marriage
With that many elves working in the workshop, probability says there has to be some batting for the other team. Further proof: have you seen the way elves dress?
Winner: Democrat

Social Security
Santa thinks we don’t need social security. Old people can and should work. Santa’s older than any of us and he’s still working. Any plans for retirement have been put off after Santa’s 401(k) lost 80% of its value in September and the North Pole’s endowment became a victim of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
Winner: Republican

Immigration
The North Pole is very open to immigrants. They took in Buddy, a human and raised him as one of their own in the movie Elf. However, since the North Pole is not a big destination for illegal immigrants, one has to wonder if they’ll change their stance on amnesty if more people start showing up.
Winner: Democrat

Abortion
There are currently no abortion clinics at the North Pole. However, given how long Santa and Mrs. Claus have been married, they must use some kind of birth control if they have no reported children.
Winner: Democrat

Education
All elves receive the same primary education. It is primarily vocation oriented, meant to increase their productivity in Santa’s workshop. There are no other options such as private schools. Despite all kinds of affirmative action programs, there are no elves in any major American universities.
Winner: Democrat

Labor
North Pole elves have tried unsuccessfully to unionize over the years. However, Santa does treat his workers relatively well and working conditions are considerably better than those of the Keebler elves. Santa’s workshop is complies fully with fire code.
Winner: Republican

Nuclear Energy
Nuclear energy is a clean and safe alternative fuel for the future. Plus, Santa doesn’t think a little radiation is all bad. Just look at Rudolph.
Winner: Republican

Religion
Santa is purely secular. However he does get annoyed when people try to take Christmas trees down from public places in the name of secularism.
Winner: Democrat

Presidential Race
On a clear day, Sarah Palin can see the North Pole from her house. Santa is a big fan of Obama’s message of hope, but he’s also an old white man like John McCain. This one might ultimately come down to Mrs. Claus, who’s a disgruntled Hilary supporter.
Winner: Undecided

Miscellaneous
Santa wears a red suit.
Winner: Republican

Totals:
Democrat: 7
Republican: 7
Undecided:1

So it looks like it comes down to a tie between pro-Democratic and pro-Republican issues. If you look again though, it appears as if Santa generally goes Republican on the economic issues and Democratic on social issues. He is also undecided on the two parties’ presidential candidates. What does this mean? Santa is most likely a Libertarian. So there you go Libertarians, you can claim Santa for your side. Too bad the North Pole has no electoral votes.

One Year Out: Lessons from the Road (of Life)

It’s been about a year since I graduated from BC and stepped into the real world. In that time, I’ve learned a few things about success and happiness. So here are my words of wisdom, for whatever its worth:

Most people have no idea what they’re doing. They’re just good at hiding it- So don’t get intimidated by age, titles, and long monologues with big words. They’re probably just as clueless as you.

Keep in touch with as many people as you can– It’s easier said than done but a strong network is worth the effort. Even if you don’t see someone on a regular basis, try to remember one thing about that person, whether it’s family, a hobby, or their hometown. It shows that you cared enough to remember that fact.

Organization is key- Come up with a system for juggling multiple responsibilities (work, family, friends, etc.) Make calendars and to-do lists.

Never leave home without some cash in your pocket– A surprising amount of places still don’t accept credit card.

Know your limits, then push them– But not too hard. Life is a marathon and its just as important not to burn yourself out.

Attitude is the one skill you always have– From day one, bring a positive, enthusiastic attitude.

Take care of the people that take care of you– I’m talking about waiters, admins, and anyone else that provides you a service. Tip them and ask them how their day went. You never know when that goodwill will come in handy. I stayed at a hotel for several months and got to know the room service staff fairly well. One night, the kitchen mixed up my order and the delivery lady caught it right away.

Surround yourself with the right people– Because the right people will always have your back, no matter how dire the situation

Figure out what makes you happy– I don’t agree with people who say your profession must be what makes you happy. In a perfect world, yes, everyone would love their job. However, it is more important that your job allows you to do what you love.

Figure out what’s important to you– And make sure everything you do is aligned with the pursuit of those things

How Sports Broadcasting Should Work

I was watching the French Open this morning on the Tennis Channel when the live coverage suddenly ended and I was told to switch over to NBC to catch the end of the Djokovic match. Now I understand the two companies must have had some agreement on how to split the coverage at Roland Garros, but it seemed arbitrary and unnatural, not to mention annoying

So this got me thinking: wouldn’t sports broadcasting be better without exclusivity? For starters we won’t have to switch channels in the middle of a match. More importantly, we can actually have real competition over quality of commentary, production values, and most of all price. If you like Marv Albert and Steve Kerr’s commentary over Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen you can watch the game on TNT instead of ESPN because they will both have it. Broadcasters will no longer be able to extort money from cable and satellite providers (I’m looking at you ESPN) because there will be multiple sources for the same content. Overall I think it would encourage more choices and a better end product for users.

Of course, it would be equally silly to have five or six different camera crews all physically competing for the best camera angles and positions. That’s why the actual camera work needs to be decoupled from the broadcasters. At most major sports venues, the camera locations are pretty much set; some of them are even built into the arena or stadium itself. These cameras are always on and there’s little innovation or variety that can come out of how this raw footage is captured. What leagues can then do is license this feed out to broadcasters to overlay with their own graphics, commentary, etc. They can decide which camera to cut to for each play and when to go to commercial. I haven’t crunched any numbers, but financially it may not hurt the leagues that much. Sure they lose out on their current lucrative TV contracts but they could make that up by working out smaller licensing deals with multiple networks. It doesn’t even have to be a network- they could potentially choose to democratize it and provide the feed to anyone who’s willing to pay. That way amateurs can compete with the big boys to provide the best viewing experience.

The only real losers in this scenario would be the incumbents who will have to work for their audience instead of relying on their exclusive contract.  They will most likely see their margins shrink as they will have less bargaining power over cable and satellite companies. However for a network that is weak in sports and wants to air more NFL or NBA games, this could be an attractive way to break in. I understand this is a very idealistic proposition and the status quo benefits a lot of stakeholders. But like anything in sports, there’s always next year, right?

Time to Clean House

As a die hard Orlando Magic, it pains me to say that it’s over. We had a great run in the second half of the 2000s, culminating in the franchise’s second trip to the Finals. The team had the best center in the NBA and was fun to watch, but in light of recent events, I don’t think the team can go anywhere with its current leadership and roster. I was slightly hopeful after Dwight announced he would stay for next season, but now I am convinced the Magic need to clean house, starting with GM Otis Smith. Smith has made one stupid move after another and I feel the need to list all his blunders:

  • Signing Rashard Lewis to a ridiculous contract– I don’t necessarily disagree with the Lewis signing itself. In fact, I think he was a key reason why the team was able to make it to the Finals in ’09 because no one could figure out how to stop Dwight without leaving Rashard Lewis wide open for corner 3’s. However, he was ridiculously overpaid, so much so that even now he’s the second highest paid player in the NBA behind Kobe.
  • Blowing up the Finals Team The ’09 Finals were closer than the final series score. The Magic were one missed Courtney Lee layup from being tied 1-1 going back to Orlando. It’s also important to remember that All-Star PG Jameer Nelson was rushed back from injury and ineffective that series. The team was young and had an exciting offense as well as one of the top defenses in the league. The right move would have been to tinker with a few minor FA signings, trades, or draft picks.
  • Trading for Vince Carter- The rationale for acquiring Vince Carter was the Magic needed a wing scorer who could create his own shot. Unfortunately VC was already past that stage of his career and provided only slightly better offense but worse defense than Courtney Lee and much worse play-making than Hedo. It turns out the best player to come out of that deal was not VC, but Ryan Anderson, a cap space throw-in by the Nets.
  • Letting perimeter defenders go– In the seasons since reaching the Finals, Smith traded away Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus and let Matt Barnes walk. These were all tough perimeter defenders that helped take pressure off Dwight Howard and could knock down open 3’s on the other end. No wonder the defense has gotten worse.
  • Not re-signing Turkoglu because he was asking for too much, then trading for him 2 years later– The rationale behind letting Hedo go after the Finals run was because he was old and asking for too much. So Otis Smith decides to trade for him 2 years later under the same size contract? It makes no sense at all. If the trade had just been Jason Richardson for VC I would’ve have been okay with it, but giving Marcin Gortat and Pietrus up for Turkoglu? He is still a serviceable player but nowhere near the clutch play-maker he was during the Finals run. Also, Smith did nothing to fill the void at backup center since that trade
  • Trading for Gilbert Arenas- Rashard Lewis’s contract was bad, but two wrongs don’t make a right. At least Lewis could make shots and still caused some matchup problems. Arenas on the other hand was out of shape, had just been suspended, and even during his prime was nothing more than a poor man’s AI (ball hog who put up big numbers because he took so many shots). Last fall he was amnestied after the lockout.
  • Signing Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson– These are both examples of FA money wasted on players who don’t fit with the team’s style of play and don’t really do anything well. Duhon plays okay defense but can’t shoot and doesn’t initiate the offense well. Quentin Richardson (Otis Smith seems to think if 1 Richardson is good, 2 must be better) only has good career numbers because he played with Steve Nash in Phoenix. He hasn’t done anything since.
  • Trading Brandon Bass for Glen Davis– Otis Smith must have been fooled by the playoffs a few years ago when Big Baby lit up the Magic in place of an injured KG. Davis is undersized, out of shape and in general a poor fit for the team. He’s not as good of a shooter as Bass and has a worse contract.

With so many bad moves, it’s no surprise that the Magic have regressed every season since going to the Finals. Smith has failed to build a good team around Dwight, instead panicking like the Cavs did and making shortsighted moves for questionable or washed up veterans. In the process he has put the Magic payroll in a quagmire with lots of bad contracts and few tradeable assets. If anyone deserves blame for the Magic’s problems, it should be Smith.

Sadly, I have to say both Stan and Dwight have to go as well. After announcing that Dwight wanted him fired, Stan Van Gundy will never have the full respect and authority over his players he needs to lead the team. At the same time, no coach will want to come into a situation with the team’s superstar questioning his coach like that. The team needs to trade Dwight for draft picks, expiring contracts, and/or a few up and coming players. It needs to continue to shed contracts and get some good lottery picks. It will be painful, much like the post-T-mac years, but it’s something that needs to be done. I stuck with the Magic when we lost 19 straight games, I will remain loyal during this rebuilding phase as well.

Yeah, RIM is dead

When I started working this past fall, I was given the option of several smartphones to use for work, ranging from Blackberry and iPhone to Android, Windows Phone, even Palm. At the time, I had just gotten my Incredible 2 so I was hoping to take the opportunity to try a different phone out. After some debate, I decided to go with the Blackberry Bold 9650 from Verizon. My reasoning at the time was I already had a fun, touch screen phone with the Incredible, so I just needed something that could make calls and do email for work. Blackberry is known for its email, security, and keyboard. Plus a lot of people around the office had one of these so it seemed like a good idea.

While I haven’t been disappointed by the Bold, it also hasn’t exactly impressed me. The email client is fine but that’s about as much it has going for it. I used to think that a keyboard would be important for emailing, but I’ve gotten used to typing on a touchscreen (the buttons on the 9650 are a little small too). A lot of people raved about Blackberry Messenger, but I’ve never found a use for it. What really brings the phone down though is the software. Blackberry OS just feels too much like a feature phone OS from the mid 2000s. The web browser is horrible and the app ecosystem is weak. I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but even for work, apps can be important. Deloitte has a couple of proprietary apps that are either exclusive to or better on the iPhone.

I know newer iterations of the Bold have a touchscreen and a better keyboard, but unless they drastically improve the OS and app environment, I will probably get an iPhone next time I’m eligible for an upgrade (just to get some variety). I finally believe that RIM is dead now. Even if the new OS is as good as iOS and Android, it will already be too late and it surely won’t be enough to attract new customers. The only viable strategy I see for RIM (other than selling itself) is to focus on being the smartphone for the poor. RIM has had some success in developing countries and lower income consumers. If it can get its price point down and offer some of the functionality users want (messaging, Facebook, Twitter) RIM can become a niche player. The days of RIM being the corporate king though is over.