Wednesday, February 28, 2007

So, I was feeling nostalgic the other day...

and I thought I'd put my finger on the pulse of my favorite liberal blog.

Switters, you've become an internet legend - sort of the Kos boogeyman. An internet immortal.

Those pinheads ought to be thanking you - the man who continues to make them feel all righteous and indignant, even in absence.

Thank God you're there. Even when you're not.

[I'm proud enough of my own cleverness that I'd appreciate people giving those last three links a thumbs up, before the kossites get wind and bury them]

Al Gore Is Killing American G.I.s By Aiding The Insurgency®

Former President-Elect Invents IED
•I.e., Internet Explorer Device
Wife Puts Stickers On Records, Iran Follows Suit, Beheads All Musicians
And The Angel Satan Wept
By switters

Pretty sneaky there, Alberto. Bet you thought no one was watching you when you selfishly slinked off to Vietnam like a pussy to fight for democracy in Indochina while brave souls like George Bush, Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft bravely and selflessly fought tooth and nail for military deferment after military deferment after military deferment after military deferment in order to join the real struggle "at home". You hypocrite. Put your money where you mouth is, coward, and quit killing our troops by wanting them to return home safely.

Oh, sure: He may be smart; he may be passionate about causes that are close to his heart that he's had to deal with personally for many years; he may even be sort of a decent guy who's raised daughters that don't break into Eurotrash bars, get knee-walking drunk and fuck everybody.

But one thing we can all agree to be true: Al Gore is killing G.I.s by aiding The Insurgency®.

His philosophy with regard to The Middle East has been one of moderation on all sides

What? Jesus Christ! Dolt. Pick a side, Al. The problems in The Middle East are not because most of the parties involved in that conflict approach the whole issue deliberately and decidedly. No. They approach that conflict like insane crazy people who are nuts. And the only way to deal with crazy retards is to be even more crazy and retarded. That's how you win. By out-retarding them. Remember Idi Amin? That's what I thought.

He cares more about genocide in Africa than he does about the price of a barrel of oil

Are you fucking kidding me? Get your priorities straight, Mr. President. Oil makes the world go 'round. Without affordable oil there's no affordable products to import and unaffordable products to export. Economics 101, dumbass: Export more than you import, and everybody's in "the black".

Speaking of "black", stay out of the whole African thing. Meddling only heightens tensions and flames the fires. They're reasonable people down there. They'll work it out. Drive up the cost of AIDS medication, side with the rebellion, and institute a continent-wide clean needle exchange program and free condom distribution, and let the markets decide. Problem solved.

He thinks the United Nations is a viable source of diplomacy for international disputes and regional flare-ups

That's hysterical. The U.N. is about as viable as a newly formed embryo. Suggesting that the U.N. could help with Iraq is tantamount to suggesting that we stumble in there as a coalition of the willing, namely, us and Montenegro. The only thing the U.N. is willing to do is launder money, turn away from mass killings, and debate a lot. Hmm… money laundering, mass killings, debate… Sounds like a bin Laden conference call to me. Anybody else?

His family grew tobacco

Where do you think al Qaeda got the idea to finance their operation by growing poppies, really? Al, for all intents and purposes, essentially wrote them a how-to book on using the system against itself in order to undermine the system it's using. Just whose side are you on? Get down off of that Vietcong Howitzer, John Kerry Jr.! ASAP.

That whole Global Warming™ fiasco

Perfect. Way to keep your eye on the ball, popular vote-getter. That's right: Scare people. Tell them the sky is falling. Tell them we're poisoning our own drinking water. Tell them we're running out of fossil fuel. Tell them we're running out of breathable air. Well, genius, let me ask you this: What good is breathable air if there's no one around to breathe it, huh? Al Qaeda knows this, and they're using it against us in The War On Terror® by distracting us from our mission in Iraq with studying cow farts and ocean currents and glaciers and Greenland and the melting of the polar icecaps. Meanwhile, some towel-headed freak shows up at a family wedding in Baghdad and gives the bride and groom the gift that keeps on giving, namely, death by explosion. Get a grip! Oh, right.

As a Democratic vice president he advocated just throwing a bunch of money at problems

Damn. Good thing SCOTUS appointed Bush president. Otherwise so-called President Gore would've been asking congress for billions upon billions upon billions of dollars that we don't technically have to fight a war in the wrong country. My fellow Americans, consider that bullet dodged. Yes!

He's very well educated

Oh please. That's the very last thing we need in the leader of the allegedly free world right now. We don't want someone who's going to think; we need someone who's going to do. These times of confusion and strife call for a "Roman", not a "Greek". And certainly not a "geek". If the enemy acts without thoughtfulness and caution, we act without thoughtfulness and caution. When you fight a fire with fire, everybody gets burned, and only the good die young. We're winning.

He thinks "the surge" is a bad idea

Wow. Guess who also thinks the surge is a bad idea, idiot: The Insurgency®. I mean, man, are you like on their payroll or something? Here, let me slow down. The Insurgency® thinks the surge is a bad idea too because it means The Insurgency® is losing. Take a look: suicide bombings have finally leveled off at about 2 or so a day; American G.I. deaths have finally leveled off at about a dozen or so a week; civilian deaths have finally leveled off at about 1,500 or so a month; and presidential press conferences have finally leveled off at about 1 a year. Get it? The surge is a good idea precisely because The Insurgency® thinks it's a bad idea. When your enemy is wrong, that makes you right. Pretty standard warfare tactics, really. But what would you know about war, faggot.

Meanwhile, our real vice president isn't flapping his yapper with a bunch of clichéd platitudes. Oh, no. He's actually doing something about it, like going to Iraq itself. Yeah, an American G.I. may have been blown up because of it, but our brave veep was there, right there in the middle of the action, in the thick of things. The only thing standing between our noble Dick Cheney and certain death was bravery, resolve, courage, steadfastness, 11 miles of concertina wire, 100,000 pounds of concrete, 134 machine gun nests, 54 tanks, 35 Humvees, 25 bullet proof SUVs getting –2.4 miles to the gallon, 19 secret service agents, 300 marines, 12 snipers at undisclosed locations, a mile of the earth's crust (that one bunker's way deep in the Green Zone), a protective shield made out of negative radiation lifted from alien technology at Area 51, a transporter that will instantly return him to his home planet should he be in immediate danger, a 100 yard-wide mote filled with gasoline that's on fire infested with mutant rats carrying the small pox virus, a ninja assassin only seen right before you die, and sanitizing wipes. Add the fact that he's packing a .38 Special in an ankle holster, and our Rambo's ready to spread corporatism across the entire face of the planet like a slug spreads slime.

So, to sum up: Al Gore is killing G.I.s and aiding The Insurgency® because of Jews, unprotected sex, stem cell research, Camel Lights™, the North Atlantic current, tax-and-spend Democrats/spend-without-taxing Republicans, meaningless book-learnin', and First Blood Part IV.

Stay out of it, Al. Terror-ible times call for terror-able people. And you just ain't one of 'em. So sorry about your luck. Mr. Gore: Turn down your themostat!

Echo Making: Character and Relationships in The Echo Maker

Picking up, roughly, the middle third of the book, and continuing discussion points by John and august in the last thread. Hope no one minds a new top post.

Powers serves up a handful of cringeworthy moments in this book. John noted one below, the restaurant scene in which Karin accused Daniel of a wandering eye. Ouch! I've been in those "you know what you did" moments (who hasn't?), and there's no winning them. I agree with John: there was Daniel's chance to walk away, dignity intact.

It's something, we realize, that Karin observes with some frequency: maybe it's her test. She accuses Weber of scoping the waitress in another restaurant, and Robert Karsh of the same. Karsh, to his credit maybe (except that we don't ever forget that the guy is basically an asshole) rolls with it and is unapologetic. No doubt it's part of his appeal to Karin. She has a tendency to identify herself through other people (an echo maker, if you will), but then when she's secure in that, she has to hurt them. Not someone you want to fall in love with. For a book about identity, Karin the mimic is a good character to have: is it any wonder Mark doesn't recognize her? Ironically, the only individual to whom she's sincere in her charity is Mark.

The wandering eye bit bothered me because I think it's a weak catchall for male dishonesty. Yeah, reptile brains and all that, but even if it's true that men look (and no comment), Powers maps it out pretty clearly in ethical space. Those cranes mate for life, ya understand. Weber, we find as he declines, does this habitually. This is a guy that projects himself, and projects himself hard on women he meets. That he's right about his similarity to Barbara doesn't make it any less comfortable to witness.

These are the two sexless infidelities going on at this point in this book: Karin needing to mimic Karsh's self-assurance, and Weber needing to discover and share whatever Barbara's need and self-doubt is. On page 340-ish, Powers, speaking as usual through Weber, makes a point that even though these characters need to connect it's fundamentally an infidelity. (And the unlikely perfect Weber family kind of cements the author's emotional judgement of that infidelity.) Ouch! Connection as infidelity? Man, that's a fear in these parts, but it's a harsh verdict too. You can't expect your mate to supply every conceivably needed connection. Hell, especially not if you love her. Why did needing to talk to someone have to annihilate Weber's marriage?

I know taht Karin's infidelity rang as harsh, but I don't know if it rang as true. This shell of a girl might be more legit as as seen through a male observer. None of the female characters come through as very redeeming (or redeemed), or, really as very actualized. Barbara is closest, but Sylvie (Weber's wife) is a caricature; Bonny is a dimwit, and ...that's really it for the girls. Of the men, Mark's got the best chance of mental health, but his buddies, though unpalatable, aren't as fucked up as they seem, and this Karsh guy at least gets to live with security about his identity. I think a bit of gender bias is creeping in, however unlikely it is in a book like this.

I said I identify with Weber. It's a lot to do with the credentials and the too-frequent unfolding of self-doubt, but yeah, his decline was way to fast and improbable (which is why I'd assumed he was, in fact, sick or injured). He also played, as I mentioned, with some (male) fears. Okay, I get all that. I'm less forgiving, however, of Powers' need to to supply Weber with an indulgent authorial voice. Weber the writer has a lot of doubts as to his credentials "Public appeal meant nothing until he had it," he says on p. 217.* As I mentioned before, Weber considers his anecdotal work a sham, but at least he's not a novelist. Writer's insecurity much? On p. 414 he goes on and on about how Weber told case stories to make his characters and himself real.** So now it's writer's vanity--a little of that goes a long way.


* hey, ask me about my tenure status on the fray!
** edit: I original said "his theories," which was not what I meant. (Also expanded that gender bias paragraph to, you know, make sense)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Soused in alcohol
another failed attempt
mission accomplished

Type rest of the post here

New Recommended... Widget

I put together a new "Recommended...." widget which you can see over there.

Currently, it is an aggregation of the feeds of our existing Ma.gnolia recommendations and my Google Reader shared items.

If you would like your recommendations to show up over there, you can...

  • Continue to use the ma.gnolia tags method, since the feed for that will continue to work, or.
  • Post the URL for the Atom or RSS feed of your recommendations here. I know that Google Reader and Bloglines both support clips and blogs. Drop me a note if you need help.

Hope you enjoy, and let me know if you have questions...

Timothy Noah Is No Journalist

I don’t specifically go to Slate for the articles anymore. But, given our use of their forums, it remains in the background of my daily reading. So sometimes a word in their headlines will catch my attention. Today that word was Wikipedia. So I click on it and discover that Timothy Noah is using his column space to question Wikipedia’s Notability Standard here, here and here. Apparently someone over at Wikipedia market Timothy Noah’s entry for deletion. This caught his attention, and so he began to chronicle events. Of course, this raises the question of coincidence? Are we sure that Mr. Noah didn’t use an agent to question his relevance for the sake of a few good articles? It seems unclear.

Nevertheless, we’ll assume Timothy is on the up and up. What’s a good journalist to do? I’ll go out on a limb and suggest a little research is in order. First stop (or at least an early stop) would seem to be the Wikipedia entry for Slate Magazine. Once there, you’ll be hard pressed to miss the multiple links to something called The Fray. What’s “The Fray?” It’s Slate’s lowly reader’s forum. Now you tell me, if Slate’s reader’s forum warrants its own Wikipedia entry, certainly a Slate Writer does. Well, it seems that way to me at least, and I’m not even a Slate Writer, and so can only imagine how it must seem to one of them.

So you’re Timothy Noah. You want to call into question Wikipedia’s Notability Standard. Do you use yourself as the test case, or do you find that a little too easy, and instead do your job and discover that there is a very good example that’s still close to home, but not as asinine and cut and dry as the incident which spurred your interest in the first place? I think you go for the latter. I think you make it hard. I think you seize on the opportunity to do some real journalism and tackle the ambiguous example. You see, if Timothy were a real journalist, he would have discovered that the VfD on BotF was not only longer by a few thousand words than the AfD on Timothy Noah, but that the Notability censors who took issue with BotF succeeded in their efforts. There is no entry for BotF in Wikipedia. Instead, you’re redirected to its bastardized offspring, The Fray.

I really only bother to point this out because I find it a great example of the “professionals” once again bringing up the rear of an old debate that is somehow magically supposed to take on new importance because “they” just discovered it. And to be honest I’m bothered that Timothy Noah would dare question Wikipedia’s standards when it’s clear that all he’s really interested in talking about is Timothy Noah. Tim, Dude, you want Wikipedia without Notability Standard (the human factor)? Well you moron, it already exists. It’s called Google.

Green and Chemical Engineering

Shouldn't engineering and environmentalism be friends?

Chemical engineering is not a field traditionally filled with budding environmentalists. You can think of it as chemistry at scale, think town-sized plants, a maze of pipes, each as wide as a man is tall, with giant flywheeled valves and ladders and catwalks for access. Think fractionation towers, pressurized batch reactors, and a forest of boilers for on-site power and steam. It was a field that came of age under the protective arm of the petroleum industry: how do you refine the crude, and what do you do with it? Haber figured out how to fix nitrogen, but it took chemical engineers at BASF to crank a hundred million tons a year of oil and air back into the earth as artificial fertilizer. Chemists and brewers figured out distillation in the friggin dark ages, but it took chemical engineers to find ways to turn 5.5 billion barrels a year of crude oil into asphalt and methane and everything in between. It took an army of chemical engineers to work out and oversee the cracking of 70 million tons of those products into ethylene, the fundamental component of the plastics industry.

Chemical engineering scared me from plastics recycling as a viable career path, because there was (is?) simply no money in it. Even in the early nineties, I was informed that it's still scads cheaper to pipe and refine raw petroleum product to the production facility. For another class, I went and visited one such facility, the local version of GE plastics, and got to see their gigantic extruders and walk around the impressive dinosaur of a site.

I don't know a lot of people that went on to become members the hardhat and pocket protector crowd. My wife got closer than anyone I know to the traditional Chem E position, and her company screamed obsolescence to walk in the door (it was a depressing place). That big, big industry moved first south and then out, a job at an industry site was a lot less likely when I graduated than it was 50 years previous. Another reason for the decline of the plant engineer is computers. At that time of my college experience, computers were on the forefront of plant design efforts, and RPI, to their credit, was gung-ho about familiarizing students with computerized problem solving. Except that once the software is developed for any application, digital design gets pretty easy (not to mention boring) to pull off. All that thermo and transport and kinetics was useful, don't get me wrong, but more to develop a good engineer's bullshit sense. Although it's good to understand phase diagrams, I sure hope they don't teach the kids that silly graphical McCabe-Thiele analysis anymore.

We Americans live for oil (love those cars, love that air conditioning). And on it (thank Herr Doctor Haber). But even if it's been another suspiciously mild winter, we've avoided living with it, at least if anyone's pointing it out. Our environmentalist sentiment is sufficiently advanced that our backyards have been cleared out, and our regulations sufficiently stringent, our chemical engineering talent sufficiently expensive, that plants got driven right out the door and overseas along with everything else. Even if chemical engineers enabled it--and we did--what got us into this mess was government-subsidized and corporate-delivered avarice (a fact of life, the basis of an economy, but incentivized in exactly the wrong directions). Can chemical engineering clean up the mess?

I like engineers better than environmentalists. That's not because I don't like environmentalism, but your average Movementarian has no sense of proportion or weighting, and even though I agree with them on almost every principle, greenies tend to be only slightly less shrill than your religiously motivated Luddite. Slate's recent green challenge with Treehugger was a case in point of prioritizing the insignificant and difficult to assail. Hipparchia recently noted the Environmental Working Group's web site, and I balked at the splash page decrying fluoridated water supplies. There may be dangers there, but the anti-fluoridation crowd are among the most annoying sorts of retards alive. (The toothless fuckers can't get off the front page of my local paper.) Never trust a damn thing any think tank ever says, kids.

Public health is one of those government functions that are justifiable under Keifus's Libertarian Lite Political Philosophy. The KLLPP also permits environmental regulations as a legitimate reach of the state, principally because the effects of ecological skulduggery span to other citizens than those who created the mess. The underfunded and peculiarly exempted Superfund law was a step in the right direction. (Whodathunk that it would take specific legislation to describe liability for pollution?) The Clean Water Act was another tool to provide government enforcement of environmental regulations. When my parents grew up, they could tell the time of the day by the color of the Naugatuck river. I didn't live through that (but you still shouldn't eat the fish), and for that I can thank the CWA.

Of course you don't find much Goodyear in the birthplace of NaugahydeTM these days, either. I doubt the regulation drove 'em out so much as the pursuit of cheap labor, but no doubt it contributed. But pollution is a global phenomenon, and the developing world* of is fighting mightily to require solutions sooner than later. Why aren't the engineers working on it?

Graduate research in chemical engineering occupies some nexus of chemistry, math, and physics (as does a lot of graduate chemistry). It's been a while since I considered myself a real engineer, veering a little too hard toward either of those first two poles. I first heard the term "green chemistry," I think, through the American Chemical Society, which began sponsoring an annual conference on the subject in 1997. Since then, I've seen it creep in here and there. Like the CWA, a lot of the push seems to be coming through the U.S. EPA. They publish a green engineering textbook, which seems to be more suggestion than requirement just now, but perpetually threatens to become more (maybe if the right government ever comes into session). The military and various government agencies take it seriously at any rate, and developing something "green" can be a good funding angle for federal-sponsored research.

I don't think there's been massive improvements in environmental legislation since the Reagan years, but the national consciousness seems to be lumbering a little more green. No doubt by necessity. It did take the Superfund law to get GE's pants sued off for crapping up the Hudson with pcbs, inspiring the terribly named Ecomagination (the dumbest thing since fungineering). Green engineering is a public relations tool, it pops up in trendy and scary fields (some of which embodies some truly laughable ideas of green chemistry by the way), and it even plagues the image-hungry and notoriously polluted China as the 2008 Olympics approach. It's an outside pretty face, but at least people feel it's becoming necessary.

Is it a powerful enough force to inspire a new generation of eager green engineers? The EPA keeps a stat sheet of some 90 or so Chem E departments that sponsor green programs, but that doesn't really give it a gauge as to the field's importance. I checked with my alma mater to find, to my disappointment, that greeniness is lumped in with environmental engineering (i.e., chemical engineering for dummies) and, even worse, with the science and technology studies** program (i.e., for those who can't do engineering at all). Looks like it's still more a guideline than a rule.

Can our new chemical engineers make environmentally friendly industrial processes? Can they reduce our agricultural demand for water and fertilizer? Can they save us from ourselves? They may need a bigger kick in the ass.


* I don't like this label for China and India.
** one professor of which once gave me some early writing encouragement. Don't know whether to love or hate him for it.

Sexism Test

Answer the following questions:

1. A female has never been president before. I’m not opposed to a female becoming president. [Yes / No]

2. Women should vote for female candidates over male candidates who are equal in skill and experience. [Yes / No]

3. Men should vote for female candidates over male candidates who are equal in skill and experience. [Yes / No]

4. Women should vote for female candidates over male candidates, even when the male candidate may have slightly greater skills or experience. [Yes / No]

5. Men should vote for female candidates over male candidates, even when the male candidate may have slightly greater skills or experience. [Yes / No]

6. Voting for female candidates over male candidates who are roughly equivalent is a moral choice for women. [Yes / No]

7. Voting for female candidates over male candidates who are roughly equivalent is a moral choice for men. [Yes / No]

8. I would vote for a female candidate if I believed she had greater skill and experience than a male candidate who I also favored. [Yes / No]

9. I would vote for a female candidate even if I wasn’t certain she had greater skill and experience than a male candidate who I also favored. [Yes / No]

Monday, February 26, 2007

Off Topic

McDonald's salad bags, Sullivan's Rudy swoon, Clinton-Obama etc.

  • I got a salad from McDonald's for lunch today, and I noticed that the salad goes in a different bag than the food they don't pretend is healthy (my "salad" ws loaded with fried chicken and bacon).

    Yeah, the salad wouldn't fit in a regular bag, but I don't think that's the reason.

    I think what McDonals's is selling is an image of health-conscousness, which is contrary to the image of the rest of its menu. Walking across the parking lot with the "salad bag" in tow, you're telling the world, "Yeah, I got my lunch at McDonald's, but I didn't get the real greasy crap -- I got a salad!) Kind of a "get out of stigma" card.

  • To me, Ridy Giuliani is George W. Bush without the social conservatism and with a little more competence.

    From a foreign policy perspective, it's hard to see what he would had done differently than Bush. He's got the same rhetoric. I'm quite sure he would have ordered the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm quite sure he would have had the same dismissive attitude toward critics, and I see no reason we wouldn't have the moral repugnancy of torture.

    Which makes Andrew Sullivan's swooning over him somewhat perplexing. I guess from Sullivan's point-of-view, if the GOP nominated a pro-choice pro-same-sex-marriage candidate, it would be the death blow for social conservative influence in the party.

    But in bad news for Andrew, I'm not convinced that would be the worst thing for social conservative.

  • Man, I really don't want to spend the next four lives arguing again whether Bill Clinton's sex life is in bounds for discussion. Anyone but Hillary, please.

The 79th Academy Awards Show Awards

Time Stands Still As Hollywood Pats Self On Ass
•And The Winner Is? Not The Critics
Movie Moguls Leave Politics At Door, Retrieve During Piss Break

What a night!

The laughter, the tears, the outfits, the red carpet, the drunkenness, the cat fights, the dog fights, the public displays of defecation, mudslinging, ego massaging, nepotism, idol worship…

And to top it all off, The Oscars were on my TV set!

I should back up. You may or may not be aware that ABC doesn’t come in very well at all on my television. But this was the Academy Awards, dang it, and I wasn't going to be left out.

So I marshaled my considerable resources and got to work.

I made a small set of antlers with concave discs on the ends out of tinfoil and put those on the cat, who was attached to the VHF input via some piano wire while she jogged on a small treadmill I'd fashioned out of a belt sander and a rotary phone. Dog 1 was equipped with a wireless transmitter that I'd tied to her head with an old sock, then I put a fleece pullover on her tail and captured the static electricity every time she wagged it. Dog 2, who finally, mercifully found a spot to lay down and quit bothering me to pet her, got speaker cables attached to the bell on her collar, cables that tied into the wireless receiver I'd attached to the ceiling fan, which generated just enough kilohertz to power that cat's tin foil hat, which for all intents and purposes was now a mini-satellite dish, a signal from which I bounced off a North Korean satellite that happened to be carrying the show for Kim Jong-il. Long story short: I could just barely separate the men from the women, and the "wheat" from the "chaff", but only when they were talking. Not a total loss, but certainly less than ideal award show watching conditions.

But it's me we're talking about, so I soldiered on.

There were definitely some memorable moments, and various movies and whatnot. But this is the Oscars, dag nabbitt, the award show of award shows. And I think all y'all would agree that the show itself deserves its own awards. So, some winners. Some losers. Some upsets. Some letdowns. Some meltdowns. And plenty of anti-climaxes, in every sense.

-Best Speech By An Award Recipient-
This is a tossup between Alan Arkin's sincere thank you to an industry that prides itself on putting veteran actors out to pasture like so much spilled milk, and the Spanish costume director lady's eerily clueless approach to thanking her husband for telling her to hurry up to the stage and the very dead Stanley Kubrick for staying alive long enough to give her work. Then, in a jaw-dropping salute to knowing the right people, she thanked the father of the gal who directed the film for which she'd just won an award. (You know, Sofia Coppola's daddy, anybody? Nice.)

-Best Inappropriate Indoor Sunglasses Wearing At Night-
Also a tossup, between the really creepy looking guy from The Departed production staff who looked like a mob hitman with lupus, and, obviously, Jack Nicholson. Speaking of which…

-Best Celebrity Cutaway-
Ladies and gentlemen, it's official: Jack Nicholson has reached full self-parody status. Oh sure, he toned down the antics we saw at The Golden Globes. But he's gotten so camera hungry that he's beginning to make Gary Busey look well adjusted by comparison.

-Best Looking Presenter Couples-
The obvious choice is of course Clive Owen and Cate Blanchett. The only slightly less obvious choice is of course Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman. (Man she's tall!) And I won't even mention that having Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt on camera at the same time actually scorched the key light diffusion. But I'm going to go off book and out on a limb here and hand it over to Leo Decaprio and Al Gore. Is it me or is Al looking and sounding more presidential than, well, our current president?

-Worst Speech By An Award Recipient-
Pan's Labyrinth's Director of Photography verged on chronic dementia with all the references to cinematic cosmology; Scorsese looked like he wanted to get off the stage as quickly as possible before George Lucas chop blocked him into the orchestra pit; and Forest Whitaker went on and on and on yammering about reaching people and intransitive integers.

But not one of those folks can even come close to Sherry Lansing, who, by the looks of it, was told right before she came out to accept her award, "Now whatever you do you need to make damn sure that you look like there's no question about whether or not you're reading off of cue cards. They'll love it." Tom Cruise presented it. Poor Tom. He's starting to look like the one kid in 3rd grade whom all the other kids suspect of having scabies. It's heartbreaking.

Still, when Marty, Steve, George and Francis were all on stage at the same time, you're talking about some pretty serious firepower. Not to mention eyebrowage. Between the 4 of those cats you could make a sweater just with the much-needed trimmings. What's the deal? Have bushy eyebrows replaced giant glasses as the new older dude look du jour? It's very unsettling. I kept waiting for some Scottish shepherd to appear onstage with the shears and then 3 months later Armani comes out with a new line of "organic" tweed. Weird.

-Best Bone Throw To A Foreign Film-
Get a load of the montage devoted entirely to the non-English speaking set. Now unless you've been on a weeklong coke binge for the last year, it should come as no surprise to you that I'm a strict isolationist when it comes to foreign affairs, a policy which dovetails nicely right into the movies. Listen up, English-as-a-second-language types: If you're not even going to bother learning our language in order to make a film, then take the boat back. Get your own awards show. This one's taken, and we don't need your "otherness" contaminating our "drinking water" any more than we need another terrorist attack. You're either with us or against us. You decide.

-Coolest Person On The Face Of The Globe, Our Planet, Earth-
Another tie: George Clooney and Johnny Depp.

-Best Commercial-
Boy did the ads shown during The Oscars make the Super Bowl media buyers seem like fishmongers in a Vietnam village with no phone.

The best one was, of course, the American Express spot with Wes Anderson.

-Most Pathetic Appearance By An Actor Not Nominated For Anything-
No contest: Ben Affleck. And yes, he's the other kid with scabies. What are scabies, by the way? Anybody?

-Best Award Category Montage-
The one about being a screenwriter, but only because Ellen segued right into an AA bit. Perfect. Ellen's quite good. I think Hollywood has found in her hosting the perfect combination of restraint, indifference and sacrilege. Getting Spielberg to take a picture of her with Clint Eastwood for her page was hysterical. Timing, folks. Try it.

-Highest Presenter-
Robert Downey Jr., but only because he copped to it live. Very smooth.

-Best Live Performance Of A Nominated Song By A Lesbian-
Celine Dion. End of discussion.

(So it's 10:45 CST and they're now just getting around to Best Editing? Snore! Literally.)

-Best "Senior Moment"-
Did someone club Clint Eastwood in the back of the head with a baseball bat right before he stumbled up to the mic and presented Ennio Morricone with an honorary award for original music? Well someone definitely made Dirty Harry's day. Hey Pale Rider: There's a pretty good reason why they call them reading glasses.

-Best Unintentional Impersonation Of An Insane Retard-
William Monahan scared me, to be sure. But I had absolutely no idea whatsoever that he'd penned the Kingdom of Heaven script, which was so scatterbrained and inconclusive that by the time it was over you thought the Saracens were the "good guys". That better be the valium talking, blogzilla.

-Best Non-Stage Collapse Though Maximum Weight Exceeded-
Queen Latifah. Again. And a shout-out to Oscar's carpenters. Without those floor jacks, galvanized steel footers and reinforced concrete pilings, Her Royal Highness makes one false move and that stage is little better than kindling. I suppose that's why they had Randy Newman at the piano early on. You know, to test the integrity of the structure before Q-Teef snaps "the boards" like popsicle sticks. Good call.

Wait. Did she appear before Randy's best song performance. So she was a dress rehearsal, so to speak, for the piano? Got it.

-Most Shameless Promotion Of A New Movie By A Washed Up Has-Been-
John Travolta. You do the math. Is his head shrinking or something? I.e., oddly reminiscent of last year's "Top 10 Disasters of 2005", which of these guys is John and which is L. Ron Hubbard? Seriously.

-Best Unintentional Impersonation Of A Crazy Lunatic-
When Gwyneth Paltrow wafted onstage like Gary Oldman in (Bram Stoker's) Dracula and effected her mannered affectations, we were finally introduced to a brand new method of self-marketing: Learning Impairment As Scene Study Witnessing Tool, where "tool" can go either way. She's still perfect, though. Great actress as well. (E.g., she'd better be, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.)

Something something something.

The rest is a little hazy. I mean, they went on like forever.

The End

Anyways, when the curtain falls and the credits roll, folks, we don't want award shows like this. We need award shows like this, if for no other reason than when movies start to resemble reality just a little too much, it might be a good indication that our current reality doesn’t necessarily warrant the benefit of a sequel.


Tangent to book club discussion: been in a rut? Of course you have! Heck, you're probably in one now! The question is, how do you get out? What do you do if you feel stuck, unmotivated, or just like you aren't accomplishing even the bare minimum of what you need to be doing?

I've had luck with the following...

1. Moving.
2. Ending bad relationship.
3. Drawing pictures of my ideas.
4. Writing letters to people at the beginning of the day. I usually don't send them.
(3 and 4 are particularly helpful to me if the rut is writer's block).

Specific anecdotes as well as general observations welcome...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

WikiFray Book Club: The Echo Maker

Part 2, 3

Rudie's Rants: Snow Turns People Into Assholes

Snow, ever since Rudie came of age, is not to be looked forward to. It does not make the winter magical. It does not fill the imagination with visions of sugarplums or fairies or the weird dancing for which they've become ostensibly known. It is, at its very best, an annoyance, and at it's very worst, a signal from a pissed off deity who's making his distaste for the automobile felt.

It does snow here. Oh, not as much as in the northern midwest, or in Buffalo, but it has been known to snow. As bad as it is that people seem to forget how to drive in the stuff by spring thaw, what has happened here is unprecedented:

The threat of snow has turned people into total fuckwits.

Now Rudie realizes that it's probably been a while since you took your driver's exam, lord knows many of you could probably stand to take it again. But here are a few common sense questions.

At a 4-way stop, under the threat of impending snowfall, do you:

A) Pick your nose.
B) Wait your fucking turn.
C) Floor it through the intersection while the person whose turn it actually is hits the accelerator.

Too hard? While a good nose pick is always a good answer to any multiple choice question, it isn't A. No, apparently the answer is C.

When snow isn't to fall for another 6 hours, do you:

A) Pick your nose.
B) Take your time at the grocery store.
C) Scramble around like a crazy person with a scowl on your face at the grocery store as though you are in full survivalist mode and a little pissy about it, get all of your groceries into your SUV, and nearly run down 7 pedestrians on your way out like you just robbed the place.

Still too hard? Well, the nose pick would be less dangerous than the right answer, which happens to be C, yet again.

When inclement weather conditions are likely to occur, which of the following statements is most true.

A) Picking your nose makes you feel better.
B) Taking one's time and observing the rules of the road will make for a better experience.
C) GAAAAHHHHH! Get outta my way! We're going to be snowed in for years and I'm out of air freshener and Tic-Tacs! What the fuck? Don't you know you're allowed to drive around like a decapitated chicken or a toddler with a full diaper when snow's coming?!? What the hell is wrong with you people?! 20 points for the pedestrian with a walker! VRRRRRRRMMMMM!

While A is definitely true, it is not exclusive to the threat of inclement weather. No, apparently the answer is C, once more.

Apparently, the threat of snow is a source of panic for some people, and they own motor vehicles. This is both dangerous and pathetic.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Reason for feed glitch

The reason the feed has been picking up old posts from my blog is that I have been going back and labeling all my posts, which requires me to republish them. I didn't anticipate the problem this would create with the feed, so please accept my apologies.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Britney's 24 Hour Rockin' Rehab Regimen

Singer/Actor/Dancer/Whore Solves Cokehead Conundrum
•Purported To Tackle Iraq War Problem Next
Whitehouse: "I Suppose We Could Do Worse Because Well We Have"

Don't look now, but it looks like, oops, she may or may not have done it again, the "it" being abusing drugs and alcohol, of course. Because word on the street is that the life of a celebrity isn't all fun and games like we've been led to believe. My question: "Hey, Brit: What's it like to be your own kids' very worst role model ever? Again."

I wouldn't worry too much about our plucky heroin(e); she's got plenty o'that little thing we call determination and drive. Because sources close to the "down home diva" reveal that sobriety is only a daytrip away. With her stunning publicity stunt of replacing her fame for being a mediocre singer whom people want to fuck with being famous for being fucked up, I'm beginning to wonder if Anna's attempt at being famous for being dead might not be the ultimate personal sacrifice when it comes to celebrity status. Remember, folks: It's all about priorities.

So, how'd she do it? Easy. Just follow her 38 Step (More or Less) Program To A Fatter Balder You, and quicker than your career hits the skids if not the skid marks and you're blowing some guy for a cheeseburger out behind the 7-Eleven, you'll be relapsing yourself all the way into the hearts and minds of Americans, young and old alike.

What's her secret? Let's find out.

11:20ish AM, Awake from tequila-induced coma
11:23 AM, Chase 5 percosets with 42 ounce Jolt™
11:24 AM-12:43 PM, Look for kids
12:44 PM, Find them
12:45 PM-1:53 PM, Dress Sean Preston Marilyn Manson-y and Jayden James Rio de Janeiro hustler-esque
1:45 PM-2:54 PM, Put face on, literally
2:55 PM-2:57 PM, Look for car seat
2:58 PM-3:12 PM, Abandon search and hang kids in car by collars on that dry cleaning hanger hook thingie
3:13 PM-3:22 PM, Lost in daze staring at kids swinging back and forth like last tour's gigantic Starlight Express-based floor show
3:23 PM, Come to
3:24 PM-3:35 PM, Uncontrollable sobbing
3:36 PM-3:58 PM, Try to start car with Jewish Cabal Commemorative Toe Ring
3:59 PM, Decide to start car with key
4:01 PM, Car starts, Score!
4:15 PM, Drop kids off at daycare
4:16 PM-6:20 PM, Head over to Frederic Fekkai for root touchup, highlights, and artistic merit removal
6:21 PM-6:23 PM, Lunch (well, dinner actually, sugar; bless your heart): 23 Krispy Kreme™ doughnuts, 1/2 bottle prescription cough syrup
6:24 PM-6:25 PM, Fuck it, pound rest of cough syrup
6:26 PM-6:37 PM, Giggling, incoherent babbling, &c., and whatnot because realizing accidentally dropped kids off at dry cleaners
6:38 PM, Decide to head back to dry cleaners to retrieve kids
6:55 PM, Retrieve kids at dry cleaners, hope they're yours
6:56 PM-7:02, Quality time in car
7:03 PM, Drop kids off at K Fed's, "Uh, like, yeah!"
7:04 PM-8:12 PM, Daydreaming about wallpaper while driving around aimlessly
8:13 PM-8:27 PM, Inadvertently invent new game called "4-Way Stop Chicken" with paparazzi
8:28 PM-8:34 PM, Shave head again for whatever reason
8:35 PM-8:37 PM, 3 deep hits on your "Jesus Saves!" bong with Lance Bass, girl talk
8:48 PM-10:56 PM, Best 2 out of 3 Blindfolded Dart Tournament with Jessica Simpson's face on the board
10:59 PM-11:43 PM, Emergency Room waiting area guessing which patients probably just have genital crab lice
12:25 AM-12:35 AM, Promises™ check in
12:36 AM-12:39 AM, Group meeting in which you ask God for the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference between safe sex and kinda sorta safe sex, and the difference between Justin Timberlake's last 3 records
12:40 AM Rehab complete
12:41 AM-4:45 AM, Hot guy recon at The Viper Room
4:46 AM, Kicked out of The Viper Room for either being too slutty or for a tasteless karaoke version of School House Rock's "Three Is The Magic Number" or for starting a brawl with Avril Lavigne over Nick Lachey, jury's still out (11 hurt)
4:59 AM, Pick up kids at K Fed's, they look familiar, good
5:10 AM, Swing by Taco Bell for Nachos Bel Grande so you have something to puke up later
5:15 AM-7:30 AM, Tequila "shoot out" with Tara Reid back at the house
7:31 AM-11:19ish AM, ???
11:20ish AM, Awake from…

Repeat if/when necessary.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

My Job Interview With United Airlines

Inspired by the true story of Dr. Marcus R. Ross.

"So, Mr. Archaeopteryx, you wish to fly a jet for United Airlines?"


"And you have your pilot’s license?"

"Yes. I received my license from the University of Rhode Island Flight School. I fulfilled all the requirements and have flown the requisite number of hours in simulators and in real jets."

"Okay. You won’t mind if I ask you a question or two about the physics of flight, just to make sure you’re up to speed."

"Of course."

"Okay. Explain how Bernoulli’s principle relates to flight."

"Oh, I don’t think Bernoulli’s principle has anything to do with flight."


"No. Jets fly because angels grab their wings and propel them through the air."


"Yeah. It’s the will of the Lord that planes can move through the air, and he sends angels to make sure that that happens."

"But….you got your license from the University of Rhode Island Flight School. Didn’t they make you learn about Bernoulli’s principle?"

"I didn’t just learn about it. I wrote my flight school dissertation about it."

"But you don’t believe it?"

"Of course not."

"And they gave you your pilot’s license?"

"Of course. They said that aeronautics was a ‘belief system,’ and that no one should be denied a pilot’s license just because they didn’t believe in aeronautics. I’m a good pilot. My teachers said so."

"Why would you become a pilot if you don’t believe in aeronautics?"

"The idea is to fly planes around, all the while trying to prove the existence of angels that lift the airplanes. I’ll give speeches to people who don’t believe in aeronautics or fluid mechanics. I’ll use my pilot’s license to give creedence to my opinions. If you don’t give me this job, I’ll claim that you’re disrespecting my religion, and liberal thought in general. I’m going to use your open mind and sense of fair play against you. I’m going to use my license to undermine the airline industry and aviation, as well as aeronautical engineering in general."

"Okay. Welcome aboard!"

Lenten stuff.

Yesterday, I did something I hadn't ever before. I went to an Ash Wednesday service at my (Episcopalian, though it's now questionable how much longer Anglican) church, heard the invitation to the observance of a holy Lent, recited the Litany of Penitence, and submitted my forehead to the imposition of ashes, gently applied by our Assistant to the Rector, The Rev. Sonia Waters, as she softly reminded me, "Dust you are, and to dust you shall return."

I have no issue with that statement; it's the question of resurrection and afterlife, among others, that I find a challenge. For some time, I've been a practicing, though not necessarily a believing, Christian. I did get a grin from our Rector, the Rev. Stephen Muncie, at a dinner some weeks ago when he said he was tired of hearing people say, "I'm not religious, but I am very spiritual", and I replied, "I'm just the opposite." His smile didn't fade when I went on to say that I'd never had a "spiritual" experience, and that I had serious issues with what most Christians consider essential beliefs. It broadened a bit when I said I got great satisfaction from practicing "religion"; that is, from participation in liturgy and in the life of the church community. He did wince when I said that I entertained the idea that there is no transcendent God, but simply a human construct that has taken on a life of its own and become essential.

I have decided, this year, to take my commitment to practice to the extent of undertaking a Lenten discipline. Traditionally, this is seen as giving something up; usually meat and alcohol (more recently, just the latter). I'm abstaining from ardent spirits (but not from wine or beer with meals, both of which I consider food) and the ice cream bars that I usually have with a snifter or two of Cognac after dinner, often as I work on this blog. This is likely to improve my waistline; it may even improve the quality of my posting. Whether it will improve me in other ways is questionable. But, as Steve said in his Ash Wednesday homily, Lent isn't primarily about abstemiousness, it's about concentration on essentials.

In that respect, I hope I can use this time of reflection to become more thoughtful about my work, my relationships, and, yes, even my blogging. We'll see.

The Ball Busters: An Examination

So what have those sonsabitches been up to lately? Most of you are aware of my rants and I'd like to examine the history of them and why I continue the practice, without saying fuck too often.

I have forgotten many of the reasons those rants are there, but not the feelings I had while writing them, mainly frustration and loathing of the company. How many times can you tell a person to wait? I mean fuck, it gets a little tiring after a while and eventually the brain either stops working at all the wrong moments or it simply implodes, often with a quiet bahhhh.

So anyway, I move positions in the company, being tired of the pressure of sales without much of a product to sell. I get to manage product now; I get to tell the engineers to hurry the fuck up and sort out that power supply or to get off their ass and get testing. I say it nicely, of course, gotta team build, gotta get everyone on board with the vision, etc, et al, and so on. Still, we have a good team all around and I look forward to it.

Further down the road brings problems of advancement. MBA? Well jesus jumping christ $40k for a basic program is not something I can support now or even in a few years. MA? Half that, looking better but still... I guess I'll see to it later, I need to get ramped up in PM first.

But back to the Ball Busters. Is it normal to stiff an employee of a "freebie" trip he's earned as promised by middle management? Is it normal to deny wage increases because we are in a growth phase? I've accepted it all because I see the vision, the big boss is quite convincing and trustworthy, the bank is on board with financing, etc. But still, a guy's got to eat, a guy's got to advance, a guy's got to feel valued, and the constant whining of "next fiscal will be better" is a bit of a drag and a bit of a drain on the patience well.

And now they take my laptop away. What. The. Fuck. Is the phone next? How about my cheap office chair that smells worse than it looks (believe me it ass-ugly). I have to buy my own pens facrissakes because the ones they buy are the cheapest available (and are ass-ugly too). They pay for coffee but it is probably the worst in history, something closer to stale molasses with a bit of water.

Is the brass ring worth it? Is the big pay day actually going to happen? All signs show positive at this point, and having five and half years of sweat equity should mean something. Regardless of all that, it will be fun and I will be learning a helluva lot every day.

But I will still say fuck rather often.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Echo Maker Hookup Odds

The chances as of p. 151 that any two characters will sleep together in the following pages...

Karin, Robert Karsh 90%
Dr Hayes, Bonnie 70%
Mark, Barbara 60%
Karin, Barbara 40%
Weber, Barbara 30%
Weber and any other female character except wife 25%
(on a personal note: please let there be no more discussion of his great sex life with his wife) (and also,
Mark, Karin 30%
Blackie, now that's just sick 10%

Favorite line thus far "Can I just circle the whole thing and call it 'obnoxious'?" I also thought "A big, big speaker of tongues" was funny. I've got the bug now -- I'm carting the thing around to read in spare moments, staying up later than I should. Good times.

I Saw A Movie Tonight

I saw a movie tonight so romantic I will not tell you the title.

It featured a Brancusi statue, a concert pianist, a soap opera, and a café. A thunderstorm hitting as a girl steps onto the rooftop, and the angle gets a little wider and the Eiffel Tower looms behind. Here is a woman who has slept with father and son. Here is a woman who mouths the words of French pop music as she jams to her iPod. Here is a woman who gets a job in a place that only hires men. Here are people beloved by all Paris who wish only (well, not only, and certainly not always) to be left alone.

A striptease in a concert hall. By the soloist.

And the music – music as overtly sexual as late-night cable; music that will float you out to sea like an elderly Inuit, music like lavender, like cloves, like milk and honey.

I saw a movie tonight that was a postcard to art, a comedy in the fullest sense of the word (think Balzac). It reminded me of when I used to come to New York only for movies, for popcorn and for the feel of a city and for a breath of the hope of love. Those movies, like this one, made me want to drink coffee and write, repeating endlessly until I keeled over or ossified like a Brancusi sculpture. I'm still shaken.

Four 3 Pointers

My 16 year old son Michael sprints down the court like a gazelle. He's fluid tonight, loose and aggressive, he's on his game. The ball gets passed to him from a teammate on the left, Michael dribbles from midcourt looking for an opening, sees none, whips the ball to his right. Immediately it gets returned to him, he shoots and sinks a perfect 3 pointer.

Here comes Johnny singing oldies, goldies
Be-bop-a-lua baby what I say

There's a scramble for the rebound, the other team fumbles and lets it slip out of their hands, someone passes it back to Michael who is still hovering midcourt. He shoots again with flawless precision as if he's playing all alone, and indeed he is because no one is guarding him at that moment. Whoosh, 3 more points.

Here comes Johnny with the Power and the Glory
down in the tunnels tryin to make it pay

The opposition is good. Really good. It's been a two to three point game all the way through. The pressure is on but bolstered by his two critical shots, Michael is pumped and clearly having fun. He passes the ball to #3, his brother Patrick. I love it whenever I see this, see them working together as a team, on a team. Sibling rivalry runs high, even higher when you share the same birthday. Patrick has already scored a few baskets in this game and he wants to shoot now, wants to outshine Michael, but tonight just seems to be Michael's night.

Patrick almost loses the ball in an attempted steal, but retrieves it. That momentary lapse is unsettling but puts him back into the right frame of mind. He gets the ball back into his brother's hands and blocks the offense while Michael shoots, again from midcourt. Again, nothing but net.

He got the Action, he got the Motion
Yeah, the Boy can Play

It's Michael Jordan time, with 23 seconds left in the game. We're down by two, 57-59. Determination and sweat are clearly visible all over the court now, and the aggressiveness kicks up about 3 notches. Patrick is on the bench, but Michael is still out there, and he knows what he has to do. The opposition is all over him, they won't get fooled again.

Some nights are just inexplicably magical and there's magic in Michael tonight. With two seconds left in the game, Michael shoots his fourth and final 3 pointer, sinking it just as the buzzer sounds.

Game over, 60-59. One to remember.

Dedication, Devotion
Turning all the Nighttime into the Day

...And He does the Walk
He does the Walk of Life

*Special Thanks to Dire Straits* For Providing The

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Comment feed...

As you can tell from the sidebar, there's something haywire in the comment feed. It's in the feed itself, and not the widget, since I subscribe to the WikiFray comments, and it's had the same problems.

It seems we're not the only ones with this problem, but there is not a solution currently.

Stay tuned...

Off Topic

Studio 60, Kaus on Iraq...

  • I did actually catch Studio 60 and had the following thoughts.

    • It was amusing to see the actor who had played Josh Lynam fumble for what EEOC stood for.
    • Didn't everyone know what was going to happen to the baby doll as soon as the guillotine appeared on screen? Since I had my laptop with me, I almost posted about it before it happened, but it happened before I could.
    • Advice to new parents: The last thing you want to do in the final months before you have a baby is "practice" having to respond to the demands of a pretend baby at all hours of the day. You will have plenty of time for that.
    • Gee, could Harriett's suitors be a bit more creepy? Perhaps I've been reading a bit too much of Amanda Marcotte, but I think it's interesting that the character of Matt (who is a bit of a stand-in for Sorkin) seems more attracted to the idea of "saving" Harriett from this series of assholes and exploiters than she is in the independent lawyer who comes on to him.

      And really, isn't it possible that someone as attractive and basically decent as Harriett would be able to attract a better class of boyfriends than what we've seen so far. The message seems to be, "Matt may make fun of Harriet's religious beliefs, but at least he respects her and won't make her work 3 hours of overtime just to be an asshole." Why should she have to choose?

  • Kaus is is all over Hillary Clinton's pro-war anti-surge position. He quotes Iraq the Model's Mohommed, and writes:

    But now that we've made the mistaken gamble, it also seems clear--to Mohammed at least--that the surge might do some good. The correct position, by these lights, was War No, Surge Yes.

    It seems to me that concluding that the war was a mistake, but that we have to do right by Mohammed, is not a coherent position. After all, Mohammed supported the invasion. If Saddam were still in power, I suspect Mohammed would not be free and maintaining a blog. From his perspective, the correct position was War Yes, Surge Yes.

    Maybe because we did invade, we have a special obligation to people like Mohommed that we did not have before the invasion, and thus have a stronger moral imperative to do right by him. But then, there were those who said that because the US had at one time supported Saddam, it had a special obligation to remove him.

    I just don't think it's as simple as doing whatever is right by someone like Mohammed, as much as we want to see this end with a positive outcome for him.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

WikiFray Book Club: The Echo Maker

I'm going to be late, but thought I'd start a thread for Part 1 in case anyone's waiting for me...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Darwinism 204

Those who doubt Darwinian theory are those who would likely have met their ends, should our magnanimous society not have intervened.


Philosophy Fucking 101

A question for all those of ill practice.

What does it mean when you are too goddamn prideful to be a pauper, but way too fucking destitute to be a king? How do you act? What are your thoughts? How do you reconcile what you wish you were with what you are?

And no, this has precisely dick to do with me...

Silly science Saturday.

Going through today's New York Times, I saw two items that led to the caption of this post. The first takes us, once again, to the Texas legislature. Lest it appear that I'm being unduly harsh to the Lone Star State, though, please note that the mischief here originated in the state of Georgia, with an organization called The Fair Education Foundation, Inc. (see here). What FEF is about is trying to get evolution banned from classrooms because it is based on religion; therefore, teaching it violates the constitutional separation of church and state. Others have made similar arguments, claiming that "scientism", "evolutionism" or "Darwinism" constitutes a "religion" because it rests upon unproven dogma that can only be affirmed through an act of faith. FEF, however, argues that the religious underpinnings of evolution are in the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah (see here). FEF doesn't cite any Kabbalistic underpinnings for Darwinian natural selection beyond the fact that rabbinical "sages" who contributed to the Kabbalah tradition, in their exegeses of Torah texts, made calculations of the time elapsed since the beginning of creation that anticipated, and are in striking accord with, estimates by modern cosmologists of time elapsed since the "big bang". By positing that the universe has been around for billions of years, instead of the mere six thousand it is constrained to by the exegesis of Genesis that FEF prefers, the Kabbalists and their cosmologist heirs allow sufficient time for evolution to have produced the flora and fauna we have today.

Incidentally, FEF doesn't stop at seeking to bar the teaching of evolution. They also want to throw out Copernicus (see here). One thing you can say for them is that they have no use for dispensational millenialism, or, if you prefer, pre-millenialism (see here), so they give the back of the hand to Tim LaHaye fans. Unfortunately, they also are Holocaust deniers (see here).

Anyway, Ben Bridges, a member of the Georgia legislature, produced a one page memorandum summarizing FEF's constitutional argument against the teaching of evolution and distributed it to his colleagues. He also sent a copy to Warren Chisum, the second most powerful member of the Texas House of Representatives, who had it copied and distributed to his fellow legislators. When some of them complained about its substance, Mr. Chisum distanced himself from it, saying that the memo "does not reflect my opinion", and also that he regretted having "hurt or offended some groups including some of my dear friends." He also retained a former legislative colleague, Steven Wolens, who is Jewish, to help with damage control.

Making fun of FEF and its ilk has a fish-in-a-barrel quality (though it's sometimes irresistable), and it's hard to give any credence to the notion that such groups pose any serious threat, especially when we consider recent developments in Kansas. However, the other item that got my attention this morning is, I think, a real and insidious threat, having been endorsed by perhaps the pre-eminent figure in American pop culture. It's described in Maureen Dowd's column, which has the irresistable title, "A Giant Doom Magnet". (Unfortunatley, this is on TimesSelect, so you'll have to - if you haven't already - pay to peek. Trust me, it's worth the price just to see Maureen's mug shot in living color, her pixie-esque face framed by auburn tresses, her sparkling ... Damn! My wife might read this.)

The column is about Oprah's latest fave rave: an Australian TV producer named Rhonda Byrne's book, The Secret. If you guessed (you being part of that infinitesimal minority of people who don't watch Oprah) that this is a text that gives you a simple principle by virtue of which you can transform your presently dreary life for the better, bingo. All one need do, saith Ms. Byrne, is to think positive thoughts, and good things will follow. If you're sufficiently into geezerdom, like me, this may strike a mystic chord of memory reaching back to a 1952 opus by The Reverend Norman Vincent Peale, as Dowd notes. If you're a student of modern European intellectual history, it may remind you of this worthy thinker.

According to Ms. Byrne, the converse also holds: negative thoughts beget negative results. Ms. Dowd's title for her column refelects her realization that her negative thoughts about the Bush administration's actions in Iraq serve to amplify the negativity of those actions.

According to Ms. Byrne's acolyte James Arthur Ray, interviewed by Oprah, this is all "very, very scientific." So was phrenology considered, in its time.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fray Update

The latest headlines from The Fray, lovingly crafted from some odd, smelling, goopy substance I found on my boot heel three days ago.

Best Of The Fray's name becomes ironic for the 4th time in so many months. 12 people were unimpressed, 3 others felt cramps but otherwise claimed no ill effects.

Recent bouts of violent boredom have once again stirred up the familiar meme, "Hey, whatever happened to Blorple Falls?"

Conspiracy theories abound regarding John Murtha's recent remarks, with a disturbing out-of-context quote being found only on the Fox News website. In related events, ray-domes fall back into fashion, becoming this year's neoconservative hot gift item
Elbo Ruum, having spent a recent sabbatical from the Fray to engage in "talking to, like, real fucking people" came back to find the house a mess and overrun with lame conversationalists and whiners eating his Cheez Doodles. He was observed commenting, "Good thing they didn't have the brains to hide the broom and the Windex."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Today's Headlines

American Citizens Vote With Boots, Kill Promising Female Officer
President Aids And Abets In Death Of Future Marine 1 Pilot Simply By Virtue Of His Being An Insane Retard
Pentagon Study Concludes Most Efficient Way To Erode Civilization Is To Send Those In 99.9th Percentile Off To Wrong Country To Be Killed In Civil War We Shouldn't Even Be In
And Darwin Wept
(Jennifer Harris. Captain. 28ish. Smart. Dedicated. Fit. Natural leader. Annapolis grad. Marine. Her job, as a helicopter pilot, was to evacuate wounded out of harm's way. She served 3 tours. She was one week away from returning home to Massachusetts. Now she's dead. Oh well. It's not like she would've amounted to anything anyway.)

Legislative Branch Debates Something That Doesn't Bind While Entire South Asks, "Where Are My Katrina Entitlements?"
Congress Pats Self On Back With 14% Percent Raise, Lower Co-Pays
Knock Knock, Who's There? House/Senate, House/Senate Who? Exactly
Jesus Returns to Earth 2nd Time, Escapes Notice
Pentagon Study Concludes Helicopter Mechanical Malfunction Caused Last Week's 11 Deaths
Pentagon Study Concludes Helicopter Mechanical Malfunction Caused By Being Hit By Enemy Rocket From Shoulder Mounted Launcher
Even After A Whole Week
Pentagon Study Concludes Iraq War Requires Another Roughly Estimated $86,906,755,032,664.91, Another Roughly Estimated 3,000 Deaths
China Offers No Interest For 24 Months*
India Repos California, New York, Florida, Wisconsin (It's The Cheese)
President Cries, "Usury! Yellow Devils! Chinks!"
Fray Breaks Again
Dozens Shocked
[cricket chirp]
Dozens Snore

*after which a corresponding interest rate of 29.99% percent is applied to the balance of the loan at which time all late payments are applied not to the principal but to the interest accrued during period of late payment's payment or 39.99%, whichever is greater


I see John's point.

I just heard an interview with Brownback on WNYC. I was impressed. He's definitely trying to stake out a consistent pro-life position, and seems to take seriously issues like genocide, poverty, and prison reform. Those three things pretty much top my list of things I care about (although it was a short interview, and foreign policy/war on terror stuff did not come up). For example, he wants to apologize to Native Americans for the crimes inflicted upon them.

I don't think I could ever vote for the guy, or anybody else who I imagine would answer "yes" to the question "Should the United States be a Christian state?"*

Which got me thinking about an interesing reversal of What's the matter with Kansas?. A candidate could line up very well with me on policy and still lose my vote on culture-war type rhetoric.

More importantly, Brownback strikes me as serious and intelligent, the kind of opposition I'd want to have. I'd rather lose to someone who is reflective, who makes an effort for intellectual consistency, and who is thinking about how to make life better for the maximum number of people. Bush has made the culture war worse by being such an idiot, it's impossible for me to react to him in anything other than knee-jerk fashion. Whatever he proposes seems doomed merely by virtue of the fact that he is the one proposing it.

As I say, I'm not voting for Brownback, and I'll be kind of horrified if he wins, but I'm glad he's in the running. Maybe there's hope that this election will have some substance to it.

*CORRECTION: as phrased, this appears to be a direct quotation from the interview. It is not. It is my posing a hypothetical question and answer. As far as I know, Brownback has not said that he thinks the United States should be a Christian state. I wrote this because he clearly brings a zeal to the office of the presidency that I find off-putting. In an attempt to make this point clearer, I added "I imagine."

The audio clip of the whole interview should come up in the next day or so.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Great Teams I have Loved -- The Legion of Doom Flyers

Except for now, the Flyers have been in Stanley Cup contention for almost their entire existence. They won a cup in the mid 70's, and were in the finals in '80, and again in '85 and '87 under Mike Keenan, then hit a dry spell.

What I remember about the Keenan Flyers is:

  • The seventh grade girls in our class were ga-ga over young Flyers like Peter Zezel and Rick Tocchet.
  • They made the '85 finals with rookie Pelle Lindbergh in net, then he died in a car accident, then were back two years later with rookie Ron Hextall in net.
  • Nobody ever really thought the Flyers had a chance in either series against the Gretzky-Messier Oilers. I do remember that the '87 Flyers won Game 5 against Edmonton, ticking off the Oilers because it meant they had to fly to Philadelphia again for Game 6, then back home to Edmonton. Hextall won the Conn Smythe Award depite playing for the losing team.

In any case, Keenan wore out his welcome, as he would do in increasingly shorter times as his career progressed, and the team fell apart.

Then, Eric Lindros came out. He was supposed to have the skill of Gretzky and Lemieux, with a mean streak. The Quebec Nordiques had the first pick, but Lindros didn't want to go there. (It's interesting how we didn't see the writing on the wall here. Philly fans would throw batteries at J.D. Drew years later for pulling the exact same stunt. I guess John Elway managed to pull this stunt and have a championshop career, but the rest -- Lindros, Drew, Eli Manning -- have so far fallen short of expectations, in part due to lack of passion). The Flyers thought they had a trade settled with Quebec, but then another trade was announced with the Rangers. An arbiter determined that the Flyers' trade was valid.

We rejoiced -- we got the big guy! In addition to the irony of this combined with our later disgust with Drew, this turned out to be a great trade for.. Quebec, who would shortly move to Denver, become the Avalanche, and win a Stanley Cup with the booty from this trade -- notably Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Chris Simon, and a 1st round selection they traded for Patick Roy.

But never mind that -- we had the Next Big Thing. My father, whom I don't remember being a particularly rabid hockey fan, bough partial season tickets for the Flyers Lindros's rookie year, but there wasn't much success yet.

The team came together when the Flyers made another trade -- the Candiennes had won the Cup the previous year, and the Flyers traded Mark Recchi to them for two young players -- Eric Desjardins who would anchor the Flyers' defense for a decade, and John LeClair. who would team with Lindros and Mickael Renberg to form the Legion of Doom line.

In the strike-shortened 1995 season, the Flyers got all the way to the conference championship, but lost to the eventual champion New Jersey Devils, who would prove to be their nemesis. Lindros won the Hart Trophy that year, and gave a tear-filled speech promising he would lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup.

It never happened. The Flyers went through a host of coaches and golaies, never quite finding the right mix. The one year they made the finals, 1997, they switched goalies twice. They never seemed to have a decent second line; they couldn't find anyone to play with the great Rod Bind'A'mour (whom I was delighted to see captain the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup last year), and they never had a great "quarterback"-type defenseman. Renberg got hurt, and none of his replacements quite stuck.

As the years went on, Lindros collected concussions, and his relationship with GM Bobby Clarke became strained because Lindros was not Bobby Clarke. Things came to a head in the 2000 season when Lindros was stripped of his captaincy, then came back in the conference championships against the Devils again, and suffered a gruesome hit that ended his time with the Flyers.

So why did I love this team?

For one, the late 1990's was the era of the trap and the left wing lock. The Flyers didn't play that way -- they skated.

Second, few things were as exciting as when Lindros got the puck behind his own net and charged down the ice with the puck. He was an exciting, inspirational player, and it's beyond unfortunate that his career was shortened.

Third, the crowds were unbelievable. Philly is a hockey town, and we loved watching this team. And even though they were kind of the Yankees of the NHL, they played a tough style, which we ate up.

Unfortunately, it didn't come together immediately, and management ended up going for a variety of free agant quick fixes -- Dale Hawerchuk, Paul Coffey, John Vanbiesbrouck, Jeremy Roenick, and finally re-acquiring Forsberg -- that didn't quite work out. Brind'A'mour was traded for Keith Primeau, who succeeded Lindros ably as captain, but wasn't the same type of scorer. Then the lockout hit, the rules changed favoring quickness over size, and not the Flyers occupy the basement and are rebuilding.

But it was a fun ride.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Me and my Luger

It started innocently enough, My mother had asked me casually, Do you want to show it to your friends?

I’m not much for guns, though at one time I was okay with a BB gun. But my two brothers-in-law are fanatical about guns and rifles. Family get-togethers they disappear into the basement for hours and I know it’s about guns. Plus they kill, deer and such, that time of year can’t happen too soon for them. So yeah, whipping it out during one of those conversations in which I'm normally a bystander sounded kind of cool.

This gun had been my father’s, a trophy of sorts from post-war Germany. The story was that he had gotten it for a pack of cigarettes. I’d never seen it, but it turned out he’d hidden it with the bonds and stock certificates, so after he was gone, there it was sort of thing.

I inherited it a couple of months ago. First question: what do you do with a gun? I was at her place, and I didn’t want it up in the front seat with me so I threw it in a gym bag in the trunk. Now I have two gym bags back there: one with clean shirts and towels and the like (and it never leaves the car), and one that I take in with that day's stuff to the squash club.

Now at the squash club I don’t bother with a lock because I never have anything of value: I leave my wallet in the car, so just my keys, the phone maybe, and perhaps some loose change. Most players are the same, and the bags come out with you and usually are left lying casually around the hall, the viewing benches, whatever, just outside of the courts. Of course it’s unattended while you’re playing, though you can see it and it you through the back glass wall. There are always people milling about watching, waiting, kibitzing, etc. Bags left on the bench (like mine) often get picked up and moved over as more people show up and are looking to sit down.

I had kind of forgotten about the gun, or when I remembered I was never around the car so I was basically remembering to remember to bring it in next time I’m out at the car.

Here is the gun by the way, I’d been calling it a Luger but realize now that it’s not.

Anyway, today it finally clicked: I remembered about it and I was at the car, getting my stuff ready for a squash game actually. But horrors! No gun! Now what? I’m in the parking lot, it’s snowy and cold, and I can’t find my Luger!

Cold sweat. Glances over the shoulder. Could it have fallen out? But my trunk’s not a mess, I don’t see it, and the likelihood of it worming it’s way down to the spare or something is next to zero.

But wait a second, genius, how about checking your other bag, that flimsy little thing that you take into the club and leave lying around (unattended) for everybody to see? Like at least a dozen times since making it my luger’s temporary home? (Here, take my luger, people, more interesting than my squash game.)

I won’t learn though. It’s still in the car, but in the other bag now. Cold for sure, and maybe a little more lonely knowing it won’t be accompanying me to my games, nor waiting patiently for me afterwards, guarding my shoes and pants while I shower.

Monday, February 12, 2007

They Can't Be Serious

•Political Satire Music Troupe Makes Mark Russell Sound Like Mark Twain
By switters

(By the way, the Zionist "punch line" gets dropped on BotF sometime this week. Might be interesting to see who shows up.)

I like funny. Often I try to be funny, sometimes on purpose. Like maybe I'd write something like this gem to garner a few chuckles if not some outright table-slappers:

Subject: Han Solo, Bipolar Retard
From: Tom_Robbins
Date: Mar 11 1997 2:35 AM

Yeah, so I'm watching
The Empire Strikes Back again when they're all on that frozen planet and Han and Chewy are picking off those spy droids one-by-one. So they're all back at the Ice Bat Cave after having done some recon when all of a sudden it turns out Luke, doofus extraordinaire, has gone missing.

So Han mounts up on his alien space llama to go look for him, when this lieutenant dude, concerned for his safety, says, "But sir, your tonton will freeze before you reach the first marker!" Pretty reasonable, right?

And what does Han say in response? Does he say, "Really? Dang. Do we have some extra skins we can put on him so he doesn't freeze? Like a poncho thingie? Or maybe some hot water bottle contraption to keep him alive so that I'm able to proceed beyond the first marker?"

Does he say that? No. What does he say?

Han says, "Then I'll see you in hell." That's what he says.

Uhh… Can someone explain to me just what it was that Ensign Can I. HaveMyHeadBack said that warranted all the hostility from Captain KessleRun B. WhoGivesAFuck? Little harsh there, Solo. Anger management class at The Rebellion School for Non-Assholes, anyone? Sheesh!

You know, the classics. Wonderful!

Anyways, the promo my local NPR affiliate is running nearly nonstop ubiquitously consists of an announcer not even trying to sound like Don LaFontaine saying, "In a world where democrats hold the majority in the House and Senate…" or something, and then the one Capitol Stepper gal with a vibrato that has the range of your average boomerang sings, to the tune of "Everything's Coming Up Roses", "…everything's run by Pelosi…" Then announcer dipshit comes back and says something like, "… A world where the president seeks to repair our international image…", the dude who sounds more like George Costanza than George Bush sings, to the tune of "Stand By Your Man", "… stand by Japan…"

That's hilarious!

Something tells me that those are the 2 funniest moments of the show, which doesn't bode well for the evening.

Here's the thing, though: I often go out of my way to listen to each and every Capitol Steps special in some kind of weird masochistic attempt at testing my threshold of pain and tolerance. (Unless you've been having sexual intercourse in outer space for the last 8 months it should come as little surprise to you that I'm not a very tolerant person, especially when it comes to such things, and whatnot.) And you know what? The audience is laughing its collective ass off, quite possibly even rolling around on the floor in some cases, like many of you are oft prone to doing.

And I don't know whether to be more worried about that phenomenon or our current runaway hit on 24-hour news channels across the globe, our planet: The War In Vietnam, Part II: Refusing To Learn From Our Mistakes.

Way to close to call.

Oh, by the way (at the risk of repeating myself again), each and every one of you who voted to reelect President George W. Bush is in some way responsible for the deaths of each and every one of the American G.I.s killed since November 3ish, 2004. Good going!

Oh, and for the record: I'll stop dehumanizing people in the Middle East when they start acting like, well, human beings instead of like, well, rabid dogs. And that's sugar-coating it. The sooner we realize nothing's sacred, the sooner we'll be able to appreciate the fact that life actually is, but isn't to certain people. Let's just say that I'd rather my nieces' and nephews' babysitters were Israeli rather than Palestinian. To my estimation there's a better chance of my nieces and nephews not exploding that way. But that could be just me.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Joining WikiFray

Anyone can. That means you.

You will need a Google Account, but that's because Google owns Blogger, and not because WikiFray is just some devious trick to get you to sell your soul to big brother or anything like that.

Email, Subject: I'd like to join WikiFray.

In reply to that email you'll receive a Gmail Invitation and a Blogger Invite. You can register for a Google Account using your regular email address, or you can use the Gmail Invitation to create your Google Account. It's entirely up to you. Once you have your Google Account set up, simply follow the instructions contained in the Blogger Invite. If you run into trouble at any point you can post your question(s) as a comment in reply to any post on WikiFray, or email and an Administrator will help you.

Assuming there are no problems, that's it, you're free to begin posting. There are, however, two technical notes:


You must label your posts with your name or nickname. This is how the label cloud in the WikiFray header is generated and updated. If you forget to label your post, someone may remind you in a comment, or an Administrator may be so kind as to label it for you, but the responsibility to label your posts remains yours. Labels other than your nickname are allowed for series only. If you have a question about what constitutes a series please ask or see the label cloud for current examples.
Post Summary:

When you go to create a post you will find the following in the text box of your post:

Type your summary here
<span id="fullpost">
Type rest of the post here
If you don't want to apply the post summary option to your post, simply delete this text.

If you do want to summarize your post, replace "Type your summary here" with the summary of your post that you'd like to appear, and replace "Type rest of the post here" with the remainder of your post. Do not delete "<span id="fullpost">" or "</span>". Publish and double-check that you formatted your post correctly.

Feel free to try it even if you’re not sure how to do it. If you mess it up, it's okay. You can go back and edit your post, either trying again, or deciding not to use post summary and simply deleting the blockquoted text above from your text box.
That's it. The rest of this post is an explanation of the various parts of WikiFray and how you can take advantage of them, but as far as posting is concerned, you have everything you need.

Profiles: The Profiles button in the header is put there primarily to satisfy curious visitors. Clicking on it shows WikiFray's profile where a visitor can find all the profiles of WikiFray contributors. In this way, if someone takes an interest in you, they can click on your profile to find, for example, your email address, or your personal blog. With this in mind, take a few minutes to customize your Blogger Profile so that it tells interested parties what you want it to tell them.

Comments: The first sidebar is devoted solely to your comments. Whether you’re commenting on a post posted today, last week or last year, your comment will be displayed in the first sidebar.

Favorites: Favorites is the top element in the second sidebar. There are three menus in Favorites.

Neighborhood is a list of the known/active blogs of current and former fray posters and WikiFray contributors. If you want your blog added to this list, please drop a note. In the unending effort to keep the Neighborhood menu comprehensive, current and most of all, useful to you, please also notify if you discover a deficiency, dead link or other questionable item.

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If there is a recurring theme it is that if you have a question, notice a problem, or have a suggestion, email WikiFray is a hub, a way station, a mother ship, a community, and that's just for starters. If you see that it's not serving its purpose, or you notice a way that it could be doing something better or something more, play a part.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Weekend Off Topic

Three more notes on the Edwards flap, valuing fatherhood vs. caving to Muslim sensibilities, sports

  • One of the memes emerging from the Edwards-blogger deal is that regardless of who was offended, the important thing is that John Edwards did not cave in to the likes of Michelle Malkin and Bill Donohue.

    Sorry, that won't do.

    Donohue and Malkin are to proverbial stopped clocks (though they are more obnoxious in announcing what time it is -- maybe a stopped alarm clock that's stuck at the wake-up time) that are correct twice a day. This happened to be one of those times.

    One of the big weaknesses of the current Administration is ignoring news it didn't want to hear by demonizing the messengers -- Hans Blix, the UN, the French, etc. I expect better form the next Administration.

  • And it also won't do to bring up stupid things Donohue and Malkin have said in the past, as some have suggested.

    Nobody has hired Donhue or Malkin to work on their campaign.

    Which leads to something interesting -- the right has more than its share of rancid bomb throwers -- Coulter, Rush, Malkin, Hannity, and on and on. Yet they seems content to do the dirty work without dragging down the candidates by being closely tied tied with them. Democrats do things like hire Marcotte to work on the Edwards campaign, or put Michael Moore in a booth at the convention with Jimmy Carter. This doesn't make the right better than the left, in fact it might reflect better on the left since these folks might get involved in campaigns because they want to do more than just attack the other side. But it's an interesting note,

  • I've been reflecting on why this Edwards blogger thing bugged me so much. Obviously, it was my particular oxe that was being gored, so that certainly played a role.

    When it looked like they were going to be let go, I was going to base a post on this post by Jim Geraghty about whether this incident would cause the blogosphere to grow up a bit.

    What Edwards has done is send a signal that the coarsening of public debate is fine with him. Obvioously, this current Administration has made a lot of hay by name-calling its opposition into submission. Which is why I'm hoping for better from the next Administration.

    Obama may be the best hope for this.

    Ok, now I'm done with that.

  • Via Andrew Sullivan, fathers are not allowed at government-run playgroups in the Netherlands. Why? Because Muslime mothers may not attend if men are present.

    Yes, I know I've just spilled a lot of pixels about lack of repsect for my religion, but I do think there's a profound difference between not wanting people working for presidential campaigns to mix crude sexual language with references to God, and barring half the parents from a parent-child activity so as not to offend sensibilities.

    Things like this are a cultural sign post that for all the talk about eqaul partners, in the Netherlands at least, fathers take a back seat. Let's hope it doesn't spreaf.

  • First weekend with no (meaningful) football game, and I'm already counting the days until Opening Day.

    This year's transition is especially rough. My native and current sports markets are having a pretty rough winter season. They Flyers and Sixers are at or near the bottom of their leagues. The Blues have climbed back to respectability, but probably won't make the playoffs. There's usually at least one college basketball team among the Big Five (or Drexel) having a good year, but not this year. Same with Missouri, Illinois, and St. Louis U. The only ranked team around here is SIU-Carbondale, and I'm not sure I'm ready to go to the MVC.

  • On a related note, if the book club is still on, I've got the book.

  • Besides the backbreaking length, one on the things that's always bugged me about Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column, besides the leering at cheerleaders, wanting to water down religion to a tepid ecumenical stew, and beating the same hobby horses (the blitz is stupid, the Sunday Ticket-DirecTV deal is unfair) to death, is the "Why am I the only one who picks up on this stuff?" attitude throughout the pieces. Last week's Super Bowl piece may have set a new record.

    To pick an easy target, Easterbrook several time expresses amazement that the Bears put the ball in the air against Indianapolis, writing several times, "IT'S RAINING, RUN THE BALL![sic, both for caps and punctuation]."

    Now, let's look at the postseason games both teams played. The Colts started by stifling the AFC's leading rusher, then shutting down Baltimore. They struggled against the Patriots, but more against Tom Brady than the run. They were obviously focussed on stopping the run, The Bears looked like they were about to let their lead slip away in the 3rd quarter against the Saints. They had become one-dimensional, and were going three and out. Then they opened up the playbook, Grossman made some plays, and the Bears pulled away.

    In order for the Bears to win, they were going to have to make some plays through the air. And Grossman had shown that he was more likely to make a few big plays than string together many little plays, as Manning was doing on the other side. They tried and failed, but that doesn't mean they were wrong for trying. And their efforts are not as easy to dismiss as Easterbrook makes it out. The MVP was the other teams's pure-pocket-passer QB (admittedly in a case of them having to give it to somebody on the winning team).