Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'll be gone this weekend..

...to visit the Chief in Jacksonville. He has been featured here and here on this blog.

I may even go to Mass with them. I can count on one hand the number of times that I have been to Mass. The first time was Christmas Eve Midnight Mass @ Lackland AFB, TX during USAF Basic Training. Why should the Catholic guys be the only ones who get to stay up past lights out?

Twice was with the Nightfly. Once was a Spanish language Mass in Tampa, and at his wonderful wedding to the Ladybug.

I was visiting the Chief for the Super Bowl that was in Jacksonville and we went to Mass that day. I didn't recognize any of the music, but I had no trouble picking it up. During the homily, the priest got on his congregation for not reading their Bibles. (Preach it, brother!)

It will be a great time. There will be feasting Christmas Eve. Mrs Chief has a large family on her side and when they all come over it's a great time.

We've already established what kind of Senator you are...

... now we're just haggling about the price.

Bill Nelson, though, is a cheaper whore that Ben Nelson and Mary Laundry.

This site is not allowing me to cut and paste. Unlike Ben, who got a Medicare payoff for his whole state, Bill could only get an exemption of Medicare cuts for three Democratic counties. The other 2 million old-timers in Florida are screwed.

The phone line to Bill Nelson's Tampa office is busy. He's not up for re-election until 2012, so he's counting on short memories.

I know it's not Laundry, but I can't spell her name.

edit by the 'fly - it's Landreau, I believe.  And the new Blogger post editor/creator makes the cut-and-paste a bit of a hassle.  I grabbed the money graf for you:
Many pundits wondered how Nelson could justify supporting a health care reform bill that cuts Medicare by $500 billion when his home state has so many seniors. Now, we know. He is having the heart of his base exempted from the worst of the cuts.
When you try to paste now, you have to click the "allow access" button, and then Blogger should permit it.  Who knows why they do it.

You have a good point about the size of Bill Nelson's particular bribe compared to the others.  Ed Morrissey (courtesy of the Ace of Spades) gives a fine rundown of the pay-to-play largesse Harry Reid is funneling from the public purse, even while the Senate debates raising the debt ceiling.

There's a reason why consumers can't raise their own credit limits with most lenders - they'd go more broke, more quickly, and in enough numbers to risk the solvency of the banks doing the lending.  It takes a special brand of willful blindness to scold banks for going along with it, vote for a government bailout to that problem, and then turn around mere months later and try to commit the same mistake; akin to a parent who pulls his kid out of a fire and then dives back into the building to prove how hot it is.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Musical Monday, hockey edition, again

There's something about Dylan and the Lord's Own Hockey that inspires me.

Slapshots ring out in the October night
Enter the head coach from the player’s bench
Sees the goaltender sittin’ in a pool of red light
Calls out, “Get the backup in there now!”
Here comes the story of the Hurricanes
The ones the media have come to blame
For all those games they never won
Sittin’ in the box when they coulda been
The champions of the world…

Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
Erik Cole and a couple of friends are drivin’ around
A top contender for the Eastern Conference crown
Then they dropped the puck and the losses started comin’ down
Refs whistlin’ them for all those bogus calls
Just like the time before and the time before that
In Carolina that’s just the way things go
You might as well not even show up on the scoresheet
‘Less you wanna draw the heat

Jim Rutherford built this team from scratch
Got him some defensmen and a couple of scorers
Said his goalie was one of the best that there was
But the team kept gettin’ worse and he had to face the reporters
He said “All my guys are hurt and they’re on the IR
Ain’t gonna fire my coach or bench my star
We’ve just gotta have a little time
Get our team into a little climb
Just last year we won two playoff rounds!”

Two months later and the Hurricanes are still dead-last
Bloggers sayin’, “Hey, isn’t this the new NHL?
Everyone’s above .500 now, how can this pass?
We’re looking like the ‘75 Capitals!”
This is the story of the Hurricanes
Out of the playoff race by Christmastime
They’ve gotta hope the ping-pongs run
So they can at least draft #1
But they used to be champions of the world!

This one, much older, started life as a comment Chris Botta's Islanders Point Blank blog, in January 2009.

Isles are in the basement, tankin’ on the season
I’m on Point Blank, thinkin’ ’bout the reasons
Bad drafts, dumb trades, front-office charades
Fifty games played and an injury parade
Look out, fans! Nothing getting done
Waiting on a new trend while riding out the old one
Snowie in a three-piece suit on the telephone
Wants a first-round pick, but they don’t wanna give him one

New coach, new kids, old vets, prospects,
Twelve third-liners and eleven second-round picks
Looking for a rebuild, tired of the quick-fix
Playin in an old barn in the middle of the sticks
Trying to save face, want to build a new space
Town drags its feet so they may be movin’ someplace
Look out, fans! It’s feeling old
Fifteen years with the same tale told
Feeling down, can’t get a shovel in the ground
And the town of Hempstead keeps jerkin’ us around

It's not so odd.  Dylan is from Minnesota dere, ya know?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas @ The Spider's Church




The top pic is our music team (along with some other volunteers) singing some special music last Sunday. That's me on the right with the other tenor. Most of the folks in this pic are real musicians; I'm just bluffing me way in. This pic makes it look like I can actually read music. NOT!
Actually I can read a little music. For example, there are two melodies to "Away in a Manger". I can tell which melody I'm singing by the sheet music.
In the next pic you can see that I haven't cut my hair since May. Well, it's coming off after Christmas. Too high maintenance. The beard wasn't gray until the 2000 election. The need for bifocals make glasses more practical (and cheaper) than contact lenses.
This pic also shows the difficulties that I have finding a dress shirt that fits. I am a laundry bag with legs. A shirt with a neck big enough for me to wear a tie will be a dress on me. But then the occasions of my tie-wearing are rare.
I wanted to end this by talking about the place these pics were taken, Hope Bible Church in Tampa. Sure, the preaching is standard evangelical. Our pastors just open the Bible and talk about what's in it.
But good preaching is a waste in a place that is unwelcoming. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13 that if he had all knowledge and all faith but no love he was nothing. This place and these good people are a sanctuary for me.
I really couldn't tell you how I am staying sober. Many have studied God's Word more than I, have prayed than I, have gone to more AA meetings than I and have stumbled. In this area I am totally at the mercy of the Almighty. Maybe the fact that these good people have taken me in as one of there own has something to do with it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fun with goalie numbers

In a long-distant post, I remember discussing goalie stats, and how the standards changed historically from the old, pre-expansion NHL, through the expansion and scoring boom of the 70's and 80's, and into the "dead-puck" era and beyond.  I can't find that post at all, sadly - it's not tagged.  But I do remember that in the comments, someone suggested that links to the pertinent numbers and goalies would have helped.

Well, this is that... kind of.  (I'm full of met expectations in this post, aren't I?)

The NHL's official stat pages for the keepers is a great resource for tinkering with numbers and comparing/contrasting.*  The guys I found and linked below, I've picked for particular reasons.  For example, you'll have heard that Martin Brodeur has won more regular-season games than any other goalie to play in the NH, and that he tied Terry Sawchuck's all-time-best mark for shutouts.  You may also know that after last night's game against Montreal, he is tied with the former Canadien, Patrick Roy, for most regular-season appearances by a goalie.  (If you click that first link above, you'll see it for yourself - at least if you click before the Devils play Ottawa on Friday, when Brodeur will pass Roy.)

*With one exception - they don't sort the career numbers based on any minimum number of games played, so the "all-time leaders" for the rate stats are pages of guys who played one game in net for their careers.  It can be a hassle to page through those and try to find the actual career guys.

Brodeur got his 103 clean sheets by allowing 2.21 goals per 60 minutes (the goals-against average is the goalie equivalent to a pitcher's ERA).  Sawchuck permitted 2.51.  Does that make Brodeur clearly better?  Is that more a function of the Devils' excellent system?  It's hard to say.  No complete records exist for the numbers of shots Sawchuck faced; we can't be sure what percentage of those he saved.  And from there, it's another step to compare his average to the league average.  Carl Yaztremski hit .301 in 1968, which sounds terrible to us, but he led the AL that year; it's possible that's more impressive than anyone who hit .335 in Coors Field during the steroid era.  To take Roy as an example: he led the league in GAA in 1991-92.  He saved 91.4% of shots against him, and surrendered 2.36 goals per full game; the league averaged 3.48 per team, per game.  Bob Sauve led the league twelve seasons earlier with an identical GAA (save percentage not recorded), with teams averaging 3.52 goals per game.  But nearly overnight, the game changed - in 1999-2000, Roy's 2.28 GAA (and identical .914 sv%) was only good for ninth, in a league where teams only scored 2.75 goals per game.  Was Roy actually better in 2000, or in 1992?

But the data get better every day, as do the tools used to understand them.  Tom Awad at Puck Prospectus has developed something called Goals Versus Threshold, for example.  In brief, it takes offense, defense, and goaltending, separates and quantifies each, and translates it into how many goals that contribution is worth to a team.  It's not easy to calculate, but it's a substantial move forward.  Folks also like the Corsi rating, named for its inventor, former goalie coach Jim Corsi, though like any stat, it's not perfect.**

** I have a book on goalkeeping which has contributions from Corsi, and it's excellent, much like the article on Corsi you can reach by clicking his name above.

As far as the basics?  Start with the unassuming, yet wonderfully-named, Doug Soetart.  Soetart finished his career with a winning record... but his GAA was 3.97.  It's the largest GAA I could find for any keeper who won at least 100 games, and more than he lost.  Even during the superball scoring of his time, it was rare for a guy with much worse numbers to keep playing.

You'll notice that in the few years Soetart's sv% was recorded, it was fairly unremarkable.  Ken Wregget, the longtime Flyer and Penguin (among others), was one of the first keepers who played an entire career with shots and saves officially recorded, and you'll see that he never reached .900 until 1995, and never got under 3 goals per game until three seasons after.  Not coincidentally, these were the beginning of the lower-scoring environments following the loss of half the '94-'95 season.  Wregget only recorded 9 shutouts for his career, and six of those were beyond this cutoff.

There's a lot of examples like this that suggest that a goalie is often dependent on the team in front of him to put up the sorts of statistics that catch attention; it's also part of why a number of people don't automatically call Brodeur the best goalie in history, just because he tops so many all-time lists.  Had the Islanders drafted him in 1990 instead of the Devils, for example, he wouldn't have played behind Scott Stevens, Scott Neidermeyer, Ken Daneyko, and Colin White, but behind Kenny Jonsson, Scott LaChance, Rich Pilon, and Radek Martinek.  Jonsson was a fine defender, but I don't think there's much of a comparison.  (Didn't pick those names at random, either - they're the four defenders who played the most games for those franchises since 1993, when Brodeur came up for good.  And fifth/sixth are Brian Rafalski and Tommy Albelin vs. Eric Cairns and Roman Hamrlik.  Oy.)

The most stark example I could find was old-time Charlie Gardiner, a Scotsman (aye!) who finished his career way back in 1934 with a 2.02 GAA... and a career losing record.  He was one of the last goalies to be named a captain (the NHL forbade it for many years, but recently permitted Vancouver's Roberto Luongo the honor); and won the Stanley Cup his last year while suffering from an illness that eventually killed him; he was named to the Hall of Fame in 1945.  That 2.02 is eye-popping, but the league's teams only scored 2.41 times per game in his last season.  He began his career before forward passing was permitted.  He also played for the so-called "goalless wonders," the Chicago Black Hawks.***

*** The 1906 Chicago White Sox were known as the Hitless Wonders... the '59 AL pennant winners weren't much better.  Maybe it's the city?

At least Gardiner won a title.  More modern (and less successful) examples include:

Doug Favell - 123-153-69, 3.17 GAA.  Started with the expansion Flyers, moved to the dreadful mid-70's Maple Leafs, and ended with the expansion Colorado Rockies.  Played from '67-'79.
Gary Smith - 173-261-74, 3.39 GAA.  A victim of one of the worst squads in NHL history, the late, lamented Oakland/California Seals.  Went 19-34-12 in '69-'70 despite a respectable 3.11 GAA; moved to Vancouver and went 32-24-9 with a 3.09 GAA and six shutouts in '74-'75.  Played from 1965-1980.
Tommy Salo - 210-225-73, 2.55 GAA.  Favored whipping boy of his own GM, "Mad" Mike Milbury (may his name be razed).  Won a gold medal in the 1994 Olympics, then moved to the Islanders, and eventually the Oilers; good enough to shut out 37 NHL opponents from 1994-2004.
Jamie Storr - 85-86-23, 2.54 GAA.  Seventh-overall pick in the 1993 entry draft, and tossed into action too soon behind some mediocre LA Kings squads.  Went 0-8 in his last NHL season to sneak under .500, and now plays in Germany.  Played exactly the same years as Salo.
Ron Tugnutt - 186-239-62, 3.05 GAA.  Another fine example of how the game changes: in 1990-91, Tugger had a 4.05 GAA in 56 games for Quebec; in 1998-99, in the midst of the dead puck era, he led the NHL with a 1.79 GAA in 43 games for Ottawa.  During that 1991 season, he faced 73 shots in a single game against Boston, stopping 70, for one of the greatest ties in league history.  Played from 1987-2004.

On the other end, there's Michel Larocque, who backed up Ken Dryden on the Montreal dynasty teams of the 70's.  He finished 160-89-45 with a 3.33 GAA from 1973-1984; but more accurately, he had two careers: Montreal ('73-'81: 144-48-31, 2.83 GAA,17 SO) and everywhere else ('81-'84: 16-41-14, 5.56 GAA, 0 SO).  Nobody could blame Larocque for playing second fiddle to Hall-of-Famer Dryden, but he failed to beat out Denis Herron in 1980; was supplanted by Richard Sevigny in 1981, and was moved to Toronto.  There he was outdone by backup Vincent Tremblay (out of the NHL by age 24!) and then lost his job to the underrated Mike Palmateer.  His last year was as the third goalie for St Louis, who had Mike Liut and Rick Heinz (who only played 49 games in his career, but now runs a goalie school).  At every stop Larocque was usually a half-goal or more worse per game than his fellow keepers.  The W-L-T record is wildly misleading when compared to his other stats and his teammates.

Two other notables are John Vanbiesbrouck, the all-time winningest US goalie, and Oilers/Sabres/Blues stalwart Grant Fuhr.  Both Hall-of-Famers from the 1981 draft class, with numbers which may pale next to modern keepers, but which were considerable when measured against their peers.  VBK played for mostly forgettable teams and won 30+ games only once, leading the league with 31 in 1985-86; Fuhr was the keeper for the Oilers dynasties in the mid-late 80's, and thus won more often; but his career GAA and sv% were worse and he had fewer shutouts (3.38, .887, and 25 SO against 2.98, .889, and 40 SO for Beezer).  He also had two fewer cool nicknames, though that wasn't his fault - "Grant Fuhr" is simple and memorable, and no reporter wants to spell "Vanbiesbrouck" five times, especially in the days when "cut and paste" involved an X-acto knife and Elmer's glue.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sharp-saving

This started ten days ago... I read about Hawerchuk's quick item here at Tango's site.  It's devoted mostly to baseball and sabermetrics - excellent for fans and students alike.  The art of recording and analyzing hockey data is jumping forward, and Tango posts a couple of times a week on it.

In any case, I stuck a comment out there... and, like most of my comments in places like this, it made no visible impact.  I don't mind that, actually, since what I don't know about advanced statistics could fill a typical introductory textbook on the subject, no matter what the real standings posts may say.  But I do find it interesting to follow the topics as they develop and see other people who may have thought along similar lines, and see what they post about it.
It is not surprising that winning teams tend to have higher save percentages, but this save percentage split is much larger than normal (this year goalies have averaged .939 in all wins and .873 in all losses). Even though these teams outshot their opponents by a 2-to-1 margin on average, they still lost 40% of the time. This indicates that often a goalie does not have a low save percentage because of a low shot total, but rather that he has a low shot total because of a low save percentage.
Emphasis mine, just to highlight the similarity to what I'd written last week:
Those two trends seem to suggest that stopping a high percentage of shots is what pushes the totals higher, not the reverse. In his four worst save % performances of the year, [Cam] Ward was yanked every time, meaning that he didn’t play well enough to be allowed the chance to face a lot of shots - in much the same way as a pitcher getting smacked around doesn’t get a lot of IPs.
Incidentally, the author of that Puck Prospectus piece, Phil Myrland, blogs at the provocatively-titled Brodeur is a Fraud.  Many of his sidebar links go to other worthy, puck-oriented writers (haven't checked them all).  At this rate I may need a separate hockey section of the blogroll.

If all this puck talk bores you, I do apologize.  I haven't the energy to risk much more right now.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Clone cars

I was glancing through this slideshow and, when I saw Honda's P-NUT concept car, I felt something... a presence I'd not felt since...





It's a trap! We can't repel mileage of that magnitude!

Whose Idea Was This?

Was Joan Baez booked?

There's no reason to apologize for supporting U.S. war efforts, American country singer Toby Keith said Friday, just hours before performing at the annual Nobel Peace Prize concert.

Keith, whose 2002 saber-rattling hit "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" was inspired by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said he stands by President Barack Obama's decision to send 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.

Keith's appearance at the downtown Oslo Spektrum arena, scheduled for 1900 GMT (2 p.m. EST), has been questioned by Norwegians dismayed that a performer known for a fervent pro-war anthem is playing at a show focused on peace.

Toby Keith is one of the most politically incorrect country singers around. He would be the last guy I would expect to be invited to play at the Nobel Peace Prize concert.

I guess Europeans like country music because, Toby played there last year as well.

Real Standings 4½ - now with value-added commentary!

I'm running this earlier than usual so the links below wouldn't grow stale.  The standings are updated through Thursday's action. -nf

As a twist, I've added an additional line to the end of the tables, which you will see at the end - the teams are still sorted the way the NHL wants them to be, but next to "actual points" is a new column labelled 3-1-0.  That simply means, three points for a win, one for a tie, and nothing for a loss.

I love the idea behind the system, in that it would assess a premium on winning the game.  I'd extend overtime to ten minutes, or even a full period (twenty minutes), to further increase the chances for a decision, and scrap the shootout, because it's inherently unfair to have teams cop extra points on a skills competition after the game is finished - especially one that is more luck than skill. Teams would definitely push for more wins, even at the cost of an occasional loss: 1-1 would be better than 0-0-2; heck, 3-5 would be better than 0-0-8. Notice how, below, the Sabres would be well ahead of the Bruins, on the strength of having four more wins?  That's the idea - reward teams that win their games, knowing that ties are no longer an option in the playoffs.






The only downside is that, at the extremes, it could become almost as unfair as the system it replaces.

Assume two teams go to OT every game. One goes all out for every point and finishes 30-52 for 90 points. The other tries to stall for the sure point every time, only countering in the most obvious situations (blocks leading to breakaways, for example). They split their games with the all-out team, draw everything else, and finish 3-3-76 for 85 points.

A team that has 49 more losses than another would look very odd indeed above them in the standings, even given the 27 more wins. Not that either would make the playoffs anyway, but to take a less extreme example - say the same two teams with 20 OT games each, not an unheard-of total.  They each go 40-22 in regulation, but the tie-up team takes its 20 draws, while the all-outers split their games 7-13. The 47-35 team will finish ahead of the 40-22-20 team by one point.  That could be a problem.

One compromise is to muddle up the two systems - three for a win, nothing for a loss, but only for regulation and overtime.  Once the game gets to a shootout, each team gets a point, with the successful team (it could hardly be called a "win") gets the third point.  The standings would look odd: just as an example:

A. 35-30 (12- 5) 134
B. 38-34 ( 7- 3) 131
C. 34-28 ( 7-13) 129
D. 33-33 (10- 6) 125
E. 30-30 (11-11) 123

That's regulation record (shootout record) total points, where the total points equals 3*wins + 2*SO wins + SO losses.  It looks odd, but people would get used to it if you broke it up in pairs like that; but I dislike it for a different reason.  If you go through it and subtract shootout losses from the total points, you would make just one change: team C would finish behind team D, which would be more fair, because D's winning percentage (43/82, .524) is better than C's (41/82, .500).  Whenever possible, we want the teams winning more often to be the playoff teams, because in the playoffs, it's win or lose, no pity points, and no pat on the back for hanging in there for 60 or 65 minutes.

The thing is, nobody - NOBODY - complained that the 2-1-0 system was unfair.  They complained that there were too many ties, that the ends of games were boring.  The league added the five-minute regular-season OT in response, but ties didn't go down "enough," so they cooked up solutions to a problem that really didn't exist, and made it worse.  All the fixes debated above, and elsewhere in the hockey world, have varying merits, but the simplest fix would simply be to go back to the old, not-really-broken system... just make the OT a real hockey period, sudden death, and not the five-minute afterthought we currently have.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Das Leben der Anderen

or The Lives of Others.

The story of the Stasi (the East German secret police) monitoring a playwright and his actress girlfriend circa 1984. These lefties who think that the old Soviet Union was the greatest thing since sliced bread need to see this movie.

German with English subtitles. Maybe twenty years ago I could have gotten by without subtitles, but not today.

One scene of nudity, but it's not porn. It's actually quite depressing.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Difference Between Tiger Woods and Max Baucus

Tiger pays off his mistresses with his own money.

In nominating his girlfriend for the job of U.S. attorney, Montana Sen. Max Baucus didn't disclose the relationship to the White House, Montana's other senator or a local attorney tapped to review potential candidates, several people involved in the process said Sunday.

Dana Christensen, a Montana lawyer who reviewed Mr. Baucus's recommendations for the post, said in an interview Sunday that he didn't know that one of the six applicants, Melodee Hanes, had a personal relationship with Mr. Baucus, a Democrat.

It may be his personal business, but when former NJ governor McGreevey put his boyfriend on the state payroll, when SC governor Sanford disappears for a week and may have used state assets to "hike the Appalachian Trail", and when a US senator tries to hook his girlfriend up with a federal prosecutor billet, then it becomes the people's business.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Classic (Standings) IV

Your Eastern Conference:



And your Western Conference:



This week's charts highlights one of the big downsides to the pity-point system: the playoff races aren't as tight.  Five of the six divisions would have closer races if the league still scored under its previous rules.  Only the Central Division would be otherwise, as Chicago's lead over Nashville and Detroit would move from five and six points to six and eight points.  The Southeast and Northeast are the strongest the other way - Washington's nine-point edge over Atlanta would be a less-comfortable five, and in the old Adams Division (the Northeast), Boston's lead over Buffalo would actually be a deficit.  That's rather a huge deal.  Instead of the third seed as the weakest division winner (and a home-ice advantage over sixth-seeded Buffalo), the Bruins would slide all the way to seventh, and have to open the playoffs on the road, against Ovechkin and the Capitals.

Further, it's harder to make up ground in the new system.  Not only are certain teams further behind than otherwise, but to make up that extra distance, they have to hope the teams ahead of them don't scrape points after regulation.  That just makes it harder.  On the surface it's more exciting to look at the standings and see your team at or above .500, a thrill that 80% of the league currently enjoys.  It's not so much of a thrill, however, when you realize that even a great run isn't likely to move you up in the standings so long as the teams you chase are getting extra points from a skills competition after the actual games end.  Think of the Columbus Blue Jackets and their fans.  13-11-5 sounds better than 11-11-7... except now they're eleventh in the conference, well out of the playoffs.  They have to pass Vancouver and Detroit and catch Dallas, currently eighth.  But in the old system, they'd already be ahead of Detroit, and they'd only be behind Dallas by one win (31 points to 29).  They could do that on Wednesday against Florida, who are fairly poor.  Oh, but not now... and not with Dallas' Marty Turco leading all goaltenders in overtime games.  If he wasn't 1-5 in shootouts, it would be even worse.

(OK, to be fair, Columbus has Steve Mason, who is the only goalie in the league currently WORSE than Turco in the shootout this season.  But is it fair to either team to have it come to this?)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Tiger Woods, Job Creator

Full disclosure: the guy posting this flunked out of the Accounting Department at Rutgers.

Tiger Woods is a job creator. Would Nike even have a golf division if Tiger didn't exist? Nike pays him millions because he moves product. People need to be hired to make and sell the product Tiger moves. Tiger, therefore creates jobs. Sadly, Tiger's current issues prevented him from going to the White House for the jobs photo op and tell this to a president who appears to be ignorant of these things.

Tiger Woods makes money for the other golfers he beats. There are many people (I am one of them) who only watch golf to see Tiger. Tiger sells more tickets and gets more eyeballs watching commercials. Tournaments get more revenue from sponsors and ticket sales. Organizers can raise the prize money. You may have finished fourth, but you made more money than if you finished third in a Tigerless world.

Two things I think of when I hear chuckleheads saying higher taxes for those making $250K per year or greater won't affect them. First I wonder which commandment talks about coveting what is not yours. Then I think, "You chuckleheads! Obama's taking money from the customers of your employer!" A central air system installed right starts at $5K. Fewer people are going to be able to pony of that kind of dough if they have to hand more over to the US Treasury. What does a tax increase on the rich mean to guys like me? Bye-bye overtime, and maybe 40hrs per week as well. And chucklehead wonders why he got laid off.

You guys who know more about this stuff are welcome to correct any faulty thinking I may have. Remember, I flunked out of Accounting at RU.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tiger, Tiger burning bright

Keep your way far from her And do not go near the door of her house,
Or you will give your vigor to others And your years to the cruel one ;
And strangers will be filled with your strength And your hard-earned goods will go to the house of an alien ;
And you groan at your final end, When your flesh and your body are consumed ;

Proverbs 5:8-11

Not a whole lot has changed in the 3000 years since these words were written. And from what we know of the writer he didn't follow his own advice.

The technology makes things more interesting. Bathsheba never had any text messages or voicemail to hang over King David's head. And maybe a rewrite where the poor guy loses his hard-earned goods to the cocktail waitress.

For a guy who is world famous, Tiger has worked hard to mind his own business. He's never been on MSNBC calling me a teabagger or a racist. He has done nothing to harm the economy. In fact, he has probably created more jobs than the other public figures mentioned on this blog. Hopefully he can get his family back together.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The real standings, hopefully improved

These images should at least be larger and more legible - I uploaded each conference as a separate image. Blogger lets me make each individual picture a bit bigger, with better resolution, if I do that rather than upload the whole shebang as a unit.

A table would be the gold standard, however. Hm... in a series of posts mocking the league's pity points, my method could at best be described as a shootout loss - thus deserving of a pity point itself. At least I've successfully employed the concept of irony in my blogging.

Nonetheless I will still decry; heck, at least I'm trying to improve. The NHL seems more than happy about their system, and I think I see why. Say you're Commissioner Garrison Keillor Gary Bettman.  You have to interest a non-market such as Phoenix to accept a transplanted team like the Winnipeg Jets, who finished the 1993-94 season a dreadful 24-51-9.  Or, let's say you're trying to expand into new markets... but your expansion Tampa Bay Lightning were less than an exemplary example - that's 17-55-10 in '97-98 and 19-54-9 in '98-99.  Yeah, who wants in?

So, the very next year, Bettman introduces an overtime loss column.  Instead of Tampa duplicating its 19-54-9 record, it gets to say it was 19-47-9-7.  Voila!  And the brand-new Atlanta Thrashers avoid 60 losses by moving four of them to this OTL column.  Huzzah!  So what if these points wind up costing the Carolina Hurricanes (37-35-10) a playoff spot in favor of the inferior Buffalo Sabres (35-36-11, but four of the losses were in OT)?  And by 2001-02, there were no 50-loss teams in the league; or, scratch that, there were three, but only if you actually count the OTL as an L.  And the year after that, 27 of the 30 teams could say, hey, we got points in more than half our games!  Somehow only three NHL teams managed to lose 40 or more games.

The extra column drove purists crazy, but it kept the owners happy.  Nobody wants to say they were well-below .500, so the extra points were a godsend.  Then, after they blew up the 2004-2005 season, they came back with the shootout - because if points for losing was good, then points for winning after the game was over was doubleplusgood!

As a result you have the table below, where 24 out of 30 teams are .500 or better.  Everybody's above-average!





Well... not Carolina. Even their pity-point record is 5-17-5; it's almost impossible to be that bad under any circumstance. That translates into a full-year record of 15-51-15 with one game to play; even under the old rules, it's a record of futility that few teams have matched.  But under the old rules, the 'Canes would be 2-19-6.  There's just no way to sugar-coat that.  It's epically bad, a SIX WIN pace.  Even if they could scrape the seventh win in the last game, that's a full-year of 7-57-18, and only the ties would keep them from being possibly the worst team in the history of the league.  Their seven wins would break the old 1975 Washington Capitals record for the fewest in the expansion era.

Okay, Van Owen

I felt uncomfortable using four dead police officers to slam Huckabee. Which is why I haven't blogged it. Also, Huckabee's was the first stumble in a long line of stumbles that kept the killer on the streets.

But there is some comfort now that no more tax dollars will be used to feed and house the savage who committed these crimes.

Michelle Malkin (who happens to be from my home town of Absecon, NJ) has a roundup.

What she shows is a guy who was very generous with commutations, especially if one could push the buttons of his Christian compassion.

Maybe, as a pastor, Huckabee displayed a trait which is commendable in clergy but a problem for a governor (or president). Romans 13 says the king does not bear the sword for nothing; his duty is to punish the wicked. Perhaps Pastor Mike doesn't have it in him to fulfill that duty.

One more thought. According to Michelle, Huckabee has granted clemency to 703 convicts, including a dozen murderers. Clemmons and Wayne Dumond we know about, but how many more are out there?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving all

Enjoy the day, the food, the football (where applicable), and most of all, family and friends.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The real standings

Weird weekend. The Chiefs, Lions, and Raiders all won yesterday. I feel like I woke up in 1993.

The NHL's "real standings" this week -

Toronto, true record of 3-15-3... but with the Islanders coming to town.

Not quite as illegible as last time. Trying to make the picture bigger just blurs everything. My HTML-fu is weak, and I can't get a table to look like anything but an affront to statistics everywhere. The dumb thing is, the table looks amazing in Excel, but I can't just dump the spreadsheet page to the web... or, to be more precise, *I* can't just dump the thing on here. A skilled person could. Hope I can find one before next week, but there's that Thanksgiving thing... you know, the one everyone seemed to skip this year to get right from Halloween to the high holy shopping season.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What it's still all about

The Judge strikes again.

I missed that post on November 11th and wish I hadn't, but it's very good to know that it will be included in his upcoming book.  I'll be buying it when it's done.  (And if I ever get the first one away from my dear wife, I may be able to read them both!)

An excerpt of the speech he quotes, from the Honorable Christopher Heffernan, given 66 years ago today:
Today the world is gripped by war. ... It is in very truth a world revolution that challenges all those principles of personal freedom, equality of right, impartial justice, and popular sovereignty that are so dear to the hearts of all free men everywhere. In all the sorry pages of human history never has despotism stood forward more defiantly, never has it more brazenly announced its foul purposes, never have the rights of men and nations been more brutally assailed.

The present war is not merely for markets and territories; it is a struggle for the possession of the human soul. The civilized world is threatened by a sinister power which strikes directly at its moral foundations. Two philosophies of life are involved in deadly combat— the one based upon law, justice and human dignity; the other upon arbitrary will, violence and human slavery.

... We in America shall not work swiftly enough, ruthlessly enough, nor shall we have the means of striking back against Fascism hard enough, if we think we can baby ourselves through this crisis. We are working against a barbarian power that has demanded, and exacted, years of bitter sacrifice from every man, woman and child ...
 
I speak now to those Americans who love life but are willing to face death so that life may go on. I appeal to those who have experienced love but who know that no smaller love than that of humanity will enable the love of mates and friends to be secure. I appeal to those who still carry on the tradition of immigrants and pioneers; those who dared much to create a new world. The task our ancestors started is not finished. The struggle is not over. We have a job to do, the hardest that ever faced a generation. Our job is to restore our own faith for living and to lay the foundation of a world in which life, love, freedom, justice, truth, will once more be sacred.
Judge Heffernan is completely right.  The Greatest Generation took heed and saved the whole world, winning the fight and the long wary standoff that gripped Eastern Europe in the following four decades.  Sadly, it has been the following generations that have been quibbling over incidentals while essentials go neglected.

Please read Judge Heffernan's speech in full, and maybe buy a book or two from Judge Going, who is truly one of the good guys.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Relics of the Church

The Obama Bible cover may be no longer for sale, but this should be a suitable substitute.

Be sure to scroll down and read the reviews.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Just in Time for Weinachtstag


Yes, folks, that's a little swastika cookie-cutter.
While some of us can grumble about the secularization of Christmas (whoops, I mean the holidays), there was a time when it was much worse.
Nazi Germany celebrated Christmas without Christ with the help of swastika tree baubles, 'Germanic' cookies and a host of manufactured traditions, a new exhibition has shown.
The way the celebration was gradually taken over and exploited for propaganda purposes by Hitler's Nazis is detailed in a new exhibition.
Rita Breuer has spent years scouring flea markets for old German Christmas ornaments.
She and her daughter Judith developed a fascination with the way Christmas was used by the atheist Nazis, who tried to turn it into a pagan winter solstice celebration.
Actually, the Nazis were returning it to the pagan party which it was before Christians tried to compete with it by celebrating the Lord's birth on December 25.
No one knows the date of Jesus' birth. Celebrating it on 12/25 works for me. The only downer is that the season sneaks up on you here in Florida because Jack Frost hasn't nipped at my nose since I visited New Hampshire in Feb of 2002.

Fight for it

While catching up on stuff I've missed and regular stops I've skipped, I found this at Ricki's.
If you care about something, you have to fight for it. You have to be willing to put in a little effort. I get the feeling a lot of these folks either don't care, or have swallowed the victimology pill, where they believe if they don't get PRECISELY what they wanted without effort, it's because someone did them wrong along the way.
YES YES and YES again.  Read it all, as the cool kids say.

In a few days I have something due to post - I've held it to coincide with a particular date - and it's linked to what Ricki talks about, only on a much larger scale.  It may seem crazy to link a kid slacking off in school to a society slacking off on the world stage, but truth be told, it's a difference of degree, not of kind.  I'm not saying there haven't always been slackers... but they used to be called delinquents, bums, layabouts, shiftless, mooches, and all sorts of negative terms.  "Slacker" lacks those connotations; quite to the contrary, those in that cohort can self-identify and use the term without a hint of shame or irony.  When Terry Malloy said, "I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am," nobody, least of all Terry, thinks of the description as a badge of honor.

That seems to be the difference nowadays - there's no shame anymore in living off of others, in floating and expecting all things to be signed over as one's due, instead of as something to earn and treasure.  For many years children have not been taught to achieve to win self-respect; they are not taught to strive in order to fulfill and demonstrate their dignity as persons.  They are taught rather that their self-esteem is sacrosanct and anything that detracts from it is to be shunned and denounced.  The problem is, any serious effort to improve in anything will quickly teach one that one is bad at a lot of things.  Except for the most incredible natural talents, most things come hard to us, and require going through the embarrassment and bother of repeated, humbling failures while we pursue mastery - a goal that forever eludes a good majority of us in many areas.

This sounds mean.  That's a problem for a lot of people.  "The poor children!" they wail.  How can I be so pitiless to suggest that they get off their duffs and get on with living?  Well, it's simple - if they don't, life will be far more pitiless to them than the mean ol' teacher who expects good work; or the worst parents ever, who insist on good manners and a clean room; or the big bad Church, who would prefer them to be honest, chaste, and kind.  Telling kids "You're OK right now!" is simply not the whole truth, and is a grave disservice.  The whole truth is that they will stop being OK in the very near future if they settle for being OK now.

An illustration would probably help.  Let's take Shasta from CS Lewis' "The Horse and His Boy."  When the horse Bree decides that they should escape together to the North, he asks Shasta if he can ride.  He can't, so Bree asks if he can learn, and not mind falling.  "I suppose anyone can fall," Shasta says, and Bree checks him:  "Can you fall, and get hurt, and get up again, and fall again, and not cry, and fall yet again, and still get up and not be afraid of falling?"

This isn't an exact quote, since I haven't got the book with me, but the point Bree makes is that Shasta is never going to be a rider if he can't accept first being a faller, if he can't bear to risk failure.  And when Shasta, somewhat scared, says "I think so," his journey begins in earnest.  To that point Shasta had been indulging in fantasy and conjecture to entertain himself, dreaming of a different life: "I could be the son of anyone - of a noble, or of the Tisroc (may he live for ever), or of a god!"  Actually pursuing that life means a concrete, difficult journey, full of labor and sweat and pain.

From the outside a person may conclude that Shasta seems worse off for running away with Bree than in Arsheesh's hut as a de facto slave.  The only difference is that he's avoiding being sold to a cruel noble, to be worked to death in his service; but seeing as how he's stolen that noble's horse and will be put to death if caught, it makes no odds.  In some ways he's worse off, having left behind certain shelter and food, however meager.

Hence, some people prefer to stay put, and not only avoid any effort to improve but resent even the suggestion that improvement may be made, or that their own effort may be required to make it.  It might help to flip our example over on its ear.  Shasta's still suffering if he leaves - but likewise, he's no better off if he stays.  He will suffer whether or not he takes any action; the difference is that only by acting does he have the hope of escaping into a better life.  The slacker's hope of avoiding trouble by avoiding work and failure shows itself as a false turn, a dead end: they cause themselves far more trouble, and end as failures nevertheless.

A society that doesn't ask anything of its children except that they Believe in Themselves is, not surprisingly, a society that begins to doubt itself as a whole.  There's a definite link between telling kids not to bother about anything, and a society that can't bother to defend the things it finds valuable.  Far from it - such a society often can't think of anything valuable, or else falls to quibbling about the very concept of value, for "who's to say what's good or bad for everyone?"  That is "We're OK right now!" writ quite large, in smoke on the air.  It looks quite impressive until a stiff breeze wipes it clear, and then what do we look to?

And again, isn't that mean?  Who am I, anyway, to suggest that certain choices are preferable, and certain choices are outright wrong?  Many of the people who know me would probably be surprised to learn that I agree: not only about the "who am I anyway" part, but about everybody winding up the same, boiled into a miserable bland pudding of conformity.  But I observe that the people who most often tell off squares like me are, in fact, depressingly and reliably predictable.  It's always "the Church this" or "Western Civilization" that, and emo-posing and forced disillusionment and "get with the times."  In fact, much like the slackers who miss achievement by mistaking the starting blocks for the finish line, the scoffers and the skeptics who shun objectivity and order miss true individuality in favor of conformity.  They base their identity on the swirling mores and fashions of time, and are always scurrying to catch up, in order to be sophisticated and trendy.  In the end they exist only as part of an ever-shifting cohort, as obsessed with its own internal purity, and who falls short of it, as any other cult.  And they denounce believers as being all the same?  The grand irony is that all the people who think I'm a conformist are always marveling that I'm the oddest person they've ever met.  If only they knew how many wonderfully unique, odd people I know!

(I know that sounds a little self-congratulating, but it can't be helped.  For one thing, I'm the example I know best, being stuck with my own constant company; for another, I can take no credit for who I know.  My friendships are all gifts far beyond my deserts.)

For a person to grow and prosper, they have to build a concrete life, and they need solid values and work ethic to build with.  A healthy society will be built on such solid personalities.  No other material will serve if we want civilization to endure.  The best service we can give children is to inspire them, not only with what they are but with what they can hope to be with hard work and a touch of luck.  Here, and only here, does the message of self-esteem work as intended - only in this context, that the child is good enough today to keep trying to be better tomorrow.  Here, and only here, does "true to yourself" mean true individual freedom and identity - in the context of building on timeless standards that will not shift and wipe out one's progress, forever forcing one to start over.  Staying put, settling for OK now, for what's in, is like preferring a parking space in a deserted lot to the road home because there's less traffic that way.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jump, Jive, and Fail

Haven't done any television in a while, have we?  Cool the water and here we go - Dancing With the Stars, seminfinal edition:

Background - Ladybug and I have rooted for Kelly Osborne for several weeks now: she's endearing.  Think about being the daughter of rock n' roll's Prince of Darkness, raised on the road, winding up on reality TV and an easy target for vicious tabloids, and getting into and out of drugs and such...  She could be sharing a suite in oblivion with Lindsey Lohan.  Instead she's kind of girl-next-door with an edge.  However, we are done done done with Donny Osmond.  He's not objectionable but he's not the dancer the other three are.  And there's something vaguely annoying about him - it's like he's aggressively nice; it reminds me of every mean snippy thing I've ever done.  "Donny Osmond wouldn't yell at the dog."

He isn't helping himself by cracking that it's tough being around so much estrogen.  I know he's joking - he's the only male left in the final four, and frankly having Aaron Carter around last week doesn't tip the scales all that much.  (Donny Osmond wouldn't have made that crack.)  I just think he came across poorly.  A guy finishing last in the judges' scores every week can't afford to cheese off the audience.

OK, uhm... wow.  Dancing With the Stars has been brought to you today by the letters T, A, and the number 9.

Alicia Keys performing: she's great, as long as you only listen.  The dancing really annoys me.  But that's nothing compared to the "Under Pressure" montage, which was forty times worse.  Even if they didn't care about poor Freddie (RIP), they'd realize that David Bowie is still alive to get mad at them.

I realize it's a dancing competition.  (Simon Cowell - "This is a dancing competition.  Sowry.")  Still, most of the bits that go with the songs on results night are useless.  Last week's gorgeous performance during Susan Boyle's song stands out as a superb exception.

Mýa is through to the finals.  No shock.  Donny (durn it) is also in.  At least he's not wearing the shiny suit from last night - he looked like a neon watermelon.  It's down to Kelly and Joanna, and it's a shame that one has to go early.  First, the Brothers Gibb.  I daresay they will do better by poor Maurice Gibb (RIP) than the show did by Freddie Mercury.

They're mostly up to it after all these years.  Barry's having a little trouble holding the falsetto notes but he is reaching them.  This is priceless just for the shot of Ozzie and Sharon Osborne in the audience, dancing to "You Should Be Dancing."

Well, here we go...  and.... WOW, Kelly is through.  Joanna is out.  Ladybug feels badly for Derek Hough, Joanna's partner, who is consistently great (well, except for that stupid boy-band song he 'sang' a few weeks ago).

Bow before Zod!

When I consider the habit of our current president to bow before foreign heads of state as if he were a peasant supplicant instead of the Leader of the Free World, I can't help but think that he's ashamed of the freedoms that our very first patriots and statesmen won for us - to say nothing of the manner in which they won them. He's determined to take them away here and act as if they're marks of shame while he's abroad.

The White House is calling it "the diplomacy of deference."  (And btw, can we retire the phrase "the politcs of _____" and all such variants?  "The diplomacy of deference" is a fancy-nice way of saying "acting deferential," so just SAY "The President acted deferential."  Ah, but it doesn't sound grand and statesmanlike that way, does it?)  I'm not sure that he ought to be acting that way, however, especially during war when our adversaries will score propaganda points by circulating those images to boost their morale and inflame their people's sentiment against us.

His supporters can claim it's respecting Japanese culture all they like, but the cultural message I see being sent here is called "kowtowing."  It's not unreasonable to think that Japan may soon face a nuclear-armed, Chinese-backed North Korea.  Can they look to us and our bowing, scraping President with confidence in that scenario?  Can they look to his dithering about Iraq and Afghanistan; to his treating prisoners of war as so many pickpockets and public drunkards instead of as enemy soldiers; to ignoring both his own hand-picked general's assessment and his own cabinet's plans about the War on Terror, even when he solicited those opinions; can they look upon how badly his personally-backed candidates fared in the recent governors' elections and his complete disavowal of the outcome; can they possibly see all that and see a strong leader who can be relied upon?

What they can see is a man who speaks in glowing terms of himself and elevates his scant accomplishments, but who bows when representing his people to a foreign power.  Sadly, so do our enemies.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The real standings

I'm on record as not liking the concept behind giving free points to losing teams in hockey games.

In our own low little league it's not so bad, we get sorted into divisions and everyone, no matter how downtrodden, gets to play a playoff game against a similar team. In the NHL, where making or missing the playoffs could lead to extra millions for a team, none of whom are currently in the best financial shape? Yeah, could be a problem.

Psychologically, I also don't like the concept of a game being decided by a glorified skills competition, especially one where only one skill is on display.

Finally, the whole rationale behind it was to eliminate the allegedly-pernicious tie, to prevent stuff like this. That's a LOT of ties, right? Looks a lot better than, say, today's standings... right?

Yeah... not so much. So I put myself to a little research project over the weekend: if there were no "pity point" and games ended after overtime, what would the standings be like? That table is below.

It's simple, if a little time-consuming. Shootout wins are taken out of the win column and moved to the tie column, and overtime losses are taken out of the tie column and moved to the loss column. No other adjustments are needed. The table has the current standings on the left, the adjustments in the middle, and the Old School Adjusted Standings on the right.

Carolina, 1-14-4...  Woof.  That's Epic Suq.
It really should be a table, not a picture - you have to click to embiggen - but the major hunk of the work is done. I hope to be able to run this every Monday, hopefully in a more legible format.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

News You Can Use

So this doesn't happen to you.

TAMPA - A University of South Florida student told investigators that he disabled a smoke alarm in his dorm room so he could smoke marijuana undetected. Early Friday morning, he was charged on both counts, one of which is a felony.

We encounter a similar problem during a residential job while installing the indoor coil. The torch used to braze the coil to the copper refrigerant lines produces enough smoke to set off the alarm.

The solution my stoner friends, is to cover the alarm with a latex surgical glove. Then turn on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and you are good to go.

Get a load of this guy's photo. I think he's had the munchies a few times.

What good is being the smartest president ever...

...when you don't have die Kugeln to make a decision?

At a White House war council meeting Wednesday, Obama rejected the four Afghan war options put before him and asked for revisions that combine the best elements of the proposals, Gates said. The changes could alter the dynamic of both how many additional troops are sent to Afghanistan and their time in the war zone.

Obama is not expected to decide the Afghan matter until after he returns from Asia late next week.

"combine the best elements of the proposals?" Is he trying to vote "present" again?

GWB may have been dumber than a box of hammers (he wasn't), but at least he could make a decision.

What I'm about to write is going to make me look like a serious Keeper Of Odd Knowledge (KOOK), but I think the holdup on Afghanistan is health care legislation. He can't make a decision that will upset the lefties in his party until that gets passed.

I'll put on the tin-foil hat now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day

A remembrance from Ralph Kiner, one of many professional ballplayers who served in WWII.

Every one of us has a parent or grandparent who served sometime, and I know many of you readers have served yourselves. I am fortunate enough to still have my great uncle on my father's side to thank in person for what he did to save the world back then. But to all who served, and especially those who gave all, please accept the humble and heartfelt thanks of this dumb, fat, and happy civilian blogger.

(updated - thanks to Joe Posnanski for this related image. Gorgeous on many levels. Now I have it in my screen saver rotation as well.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

News flash -

- Major of Indeterminate Belief System which had nothing to do with anything may have been suffering from "secondary trauma."

Also, water turns solid if it gets, like, really cold and stuff.

Credit to AoSHQ for the links, and the Spider for the call - though of course it was rather like calling the Sun rising in the East.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Hm, why could they be going out of business?

Hint: it's not the economy.

Oh, by the way, there are those soldiers he killed...
It's much more about the choices they make about what's important to talk about. To the MSN folks from whom I've screen-capped this bit, it's not that 13 were killed. It's that he was mortified about deployment, had been harassed for his Muslim faith - the implication clearly being that he was a decent guy pushed too far by those bastard American soldiers.

The actual dead? Oh, yeah, I suppose we can mention them.

Now look, I know that this is not conscious. My own journalism classes covered this sort of thing - look for the angle, find the motivations, tell people why. I don't object to that. What I find really frustrating is that this information is the hook to the story.

It would have been just as easy to put "Thirteen killed in Fort Hood Shooting - suspect in custody" as the bold, top print, and then underneath, that he didn't want to go overseas and had alleged harassment. For that matter it would have been just as easy to say that he had alleged the harassment, instead of reporting it as established fact. This morning's Asbury Park Press described Major Hasan as the alleged shooter - but to them harassment was fait accompli.

That's my objection - it's not just reporting the facts, it's the reflexive "they must have done something to him to make him do this" attitude. The harassment may be true. But less than 24 hours after this horror, why are the Times and MSN laying the groundwork for this monstrous act to be excused and explained away? Are they really so blind as to miss how indecent that is to the dead and their families? It's nauseating.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Even my short-term memory isn't this bad.

Endorse the stimulus bill? Moi?

During a CNN appearance on Wednesday, Charlie Crist said of Obama's stimulus package:
"I didn't endorse it. I didn't even have a vote on the darn thing. ... But I understood that it was gonna pass and I wanted to be able to utilize it for the benefit of my fellow Floridians."

Charlie Crist during a February 23 TV interview on the White House lawn:
Q: You've broken with some in your own party to back this stimulus; tell me why.
CHARLIE CRIST: "Because Florida needs it frankly."

What am I going to believe, Charlie Crist or my own lying eyes? Was that a Crist impersonator sucking face with Obama down in Ft Myers last February?

It isn't his moderation that honks me off. It's the fact that he has absolutely no core beliefs whatsoever. There isn't a single issue that Crist hasn't flipped on. And if he didn't have to pretend to be a conservative until the primary, his head would be back up Obama's orifice as soon as the president's approval ratings hit 60%.

You folks in Virginia and NJ have done your part. We in Florida will try to do ours.

One bi product of NY-23. The National Republican Senatorial Committee will not be sending any cash to Crist. They also seem to be backing away from their endorsement of Crist.

V=O

I can't believe what I saw on ABC Tuesday night.

Imagine this. At a time of political turmoil, a charismatic, telegenic new leader arrives virtually out of nowhere. He offers a message of hope and reconciliation based on compromise and promises to marshal technology for a better future that will include universal health care.

The news media swoons in admiration -- one simpering anchorman even shouts at a reporter who asks a tough question: "Why don't you show some respect?!" The public is likewise smitten, except for a few nut cases who circulate batty rumors on the Internet about the leader's origins and intentions. The leader, undismayed, offers assurances that are soothing, if also just a tiny bit condescending: "Embracing change is never easy."

So, does that sound like anyone you know? Oh, wait -- did I mention the leader is secretly a totalitarian space lizard who's come here to eat us?

The simpering anchorman is given an exclusive live interview with the leader of the Visitors. Minutes before the interview the leader tells him not to ask any questions that would put the Visitors in a negative light. Right then he had to decide whether he was a journalist or a whore. And he went the way that many of his ilk have done when faced with His Obamaness.

The Visitors even have their own version of community organizing, called the "Ambassador Plan".

Another quirk: One of the heroes is a Catholic priest. When was the last time a priest was seen on TV as a normal guy, much less a hero?

I'll watch next week, but I don't know how long this will last before someone at ABC gets a phone call.

"This wasn't about the President"

So says Robert Gibbs (twice!), George Stephanopolous, Nancy Pelosi, et als.

O rly? The Spider has a question for you:

No, not that one... the grouchy-looking guy.  To the right.  NO it's not George Lucas...

"Who is that guy behind Obama?"

And Creigh Deeds (D-Funemployed) has a question as well:

Honest, you're in the shot, Creigh - you must be blotted out by my luminosity.
"Waitaminute, wasn't I the guy running for Governor of Virginia?"

I mean, even his NAME is cut off in the big poster in the background.

(thanks to Ace, the Swillers, and IMAO for the links)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Insert you own joke here.

Because there is some stuff that is beyond parody.

Do the Right Thing in NJ Today.


I just want to ask you guys not to vote for Obama as your next governor. He will wreck your state so badly that all of you will move to Florida. After I got here these folks became a little worried about a major influx of Jerseyans.
BTW, who is that guy behind Obama?

Friday, October 30, 2009

A public service, yeah, that's the ticket!

An ABC affiliate in D.C. will run a story on breast exams during November sweeps.

The ABC affiliate in Washington is airing a two-part series that takes a close — and unobscured — look at breast self-exams. The series is airing during the fall "sweeps" period critical for a TV station's ad revenue, prompting concern by a parental watchdog group. But WJLA insists it's not just a naked attempt to boost the ratings.

The two segments include clinical demonstrations of self-exams, and the breasts of the two volunteers are not blurred. They were to air during the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts Thursday and Friday.

Forgive me for my cynicism, but it is common practice here in Tampa for local stations to do stories on the strip joint industry or prostitution during ratings periods. Or other sensational stuff like, "Your children will DIE!!!! Film at 11."

It was about time that some local news department would decide to double down.

Mike Huckabee is a coward...

...for not making an endorsement in the NY-23 race.

One name is notably absent from the list of prominent conservatives who have lined up against the GOP nominee in the Nov. 3 New York special election: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Even as other past and prospective Republican presidential candidates have offered their endorsements, Huckabee has conspicuously declined to officially support Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman, a decision that has left bewildered many of the social conservatives whom he assiduously courted in his 2008 bid.

Some of my fellow Bible-thumpers get on me for not being a Huckabee fan. I tell them he is as slippery, theologically and politically as Rick Warren. I hold Huckabee responsible for giving us the McCain presidential campaign. He stayed in that race long after he had no chance to win in order to drain votes from Romney in hopes of being McCain's VP pick. I offer as proof his whining about Sarah Palin.

Why are you bewildered, social conservatives? I'm not. Huckabee can't commit on NY-23 because he doesn't yet know whose fanny he will have to kiss to get on the 2012 GOP presidential ticket.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I am my pastor's go-to guy....

..for all things alcohol-related. I have been asked to explain proof as a measurement of alcohol content and what is considered a high proof. My pastor had never heard of Everclear until last month.

This is why this ex-wino was walking down the beer aisle at the supermarket. (Is beer sold in supermarkets in NJ?). I was keeping current on any new beverages now are on the market.

This is when I saw something that puzzled me. Old Milwaukee NA, as in non-alcoholic. I occasionally enjoy an O'Douls, but in removing the alcohol from Old Mil you remove the only reason one would drink it. What other cheap drunks have become just cheap? Non-alcoholic Pabst Blue Ribbon? Red, White & Blue?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The lot was cast, and the lot fell upon...

....Father Andrew Trapp.

Known as "Father Rambo" for his passionate paintball play, the poker priest pulled out all the stops, at one point holding rosary beads while in a big hand against Salley. Then after dispensing of the former Detroit Pistons Bad Boy, Trapp then shocked Rousso, before taking home the six-figure prize when poker star Negreanu misread the strength of Trapp's cards.

Before we question his vow of poverty, all the winnings are going to help his parish build a new church.

Still, I'm trying to wrap my mind around the idea of asking Jesus to help you draw an inside straight

Putting on my tin-foil hat

In June I sucessfully lobbied for a TV in one of the VA clinics to be turned from CNN to FOX News. I was in that clinic three weeks ago and FOX was still on.

But that was before the White House waged war against the network. Yesterday that TV was turned to ESPN.

All of you know what I am thinking, and I am ashamed for thinking it.

When I was in the VA hospital last May each bed had its own TV with a variety of cable channels including FOX (but not MSNBC!). I'd be curous to find out if that has changed.

I am becoming a KOOK (Keeper Of Odd Knowledge).

I should fell bad about this....

...because some who are reading this work for the industry.

Circulation at many of the country's largest newspapers continued a steep slide as the Audit Bureau of Circulations Monday morning released the latest figures for the six months ending September 2009 -- proving yet again that the industry can't shake the dramatic declines that have taken hold over the past several years.

On a comparable basis, ABC reported that for the 379 newspapers filing with the organization, average daily circulation plunged 10.6% to 30,395,652 -- one of the most severe drops in overall circulation. Sunday circulation for 562 reporting newspapers was down 7.4% to 40,012,253.


The St Pete Times is 25th on the list, losing 10.70% of its circulation between Sept 08 and Sept 09. I know I should feel bad, but as I said to the St. Pete Times salesman who called me today (of all days!), "Why should I pay for the St Pete Times when I can watch Katie Couric kiss Obama's fanny for free?"

I don't even go on their website for the free stuff.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lots going on

The sorta short version is as follows:

A. I've spent a lot of writing time using a pen, on paper.
B. I've spent other time writing on a computer - fiction work.
C. This is, collectively, only a smidge of time.
D. The great part of my time has been spent dealing with a big family issue.

I'm don't want to tell what that issue is, at least not yet. Eventually. The worst is past, I'm glad to say, but there's a way to go. Prayers would be most welcome, if you are inclined to do so; and those of you in the know, you have both of our thanks.

For those of you currently enjoying the Barking Spider Show here at Ye Olde Hive, thanks for your continued and patient reading. I mean it when I say that I'm glad for each and all of you, and it hurts that I've had to neglect you. I hope to be doing better by you soon. Even though I can't promise much, you deserve to know that I'm aware of it, I'm working on it, and you should see a few actual posts soon - even as simple as a list of snippets.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Xenon, Scientologist Princess

ABC's Nightline gets hot and heavy into Scientology.

Keep in mind, most of the journalists at ABC probably think I am a kook because I believe that a Hebrew peasant walked out of a tomb 2000 years ago. But you would think that if the Xenon story is untrue this Scientology spokesman wouldn't beat around the bush and just say so. So it's offensive and disgusting, but is it false?

One think the L. Ron rep said that I cause me to notice. I'll try and quote it from the video. He said that it" was in violation of his religious beliefs to talk about it". He was forbidden to discuss the subject even to deny it.

This should be a clue that there is a problem with this religion. I cannot think of any question anyone could ask my pastor in which the answer would be "it is in violation of my religious beliefs to talk about it". The idea of secret knowledge that is withheld from unbelievers and those who haven't reached a certain level should throw up red flags to even the most theologically ignorant.

The mysteries of my faith can be found in the books section of Wal-Mart for under $10. If you come to my church and talk to me I can get you the secrets of the universe for free.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This is terrible

Can you hear the evil crowd
The lies and the laughter
I hear my inside
The mechanized hum of another world
Where no sun is shining
No red light flashing
Here in this darkness
I know what Ive done
I know all at once who I am
-Steely Dan

They found her.

The body of a child found in a south Georgia landfill has been identified as that of a missing 7-year-old Florida girl, Clay County, Florida, Sheriff Rick Beseler said Thursday morning.

Somer Thompson, 7, went missing Monday on her way home from school.

John Bankhead of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation told CNN the state medical examiner will positively determine whether the body is that of Somer Thompson, who went missing Monday. An autopsy will be conducted in Savannah, Georgia.

The preliminary identification was based on the girl's clothing and a birthmark, Beseler said.

When you are old and gay and full of sleep

I think this is hilarious.

HHS to Create a National Resource Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual andTransgender Elders

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced plans to establish thenation's first national resource center to assist communities across thecountry in their efforts to provide services and supports for olderlesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.

Experts estimate that as many as 1.5 to 4 million LGBT individuals areage 60 and older. Agencies that provide services to older individualsmay be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the needs of this group ofindividuals. The new Resource Center for LGBT Elders will provideinformation, assistance and resources for both LGBT organizations andmainstream aging services providers at the state and community level toassist them in the development and provision of culturally sensitivesupports and services. The LGBT Center will also be available to educate the LGBT community about the importance of planning ahead for future long term care needs.

Are the needs of the old and gay any different fron the old and straight? Or is this a way to shovel gummint cash to a lib constituency that is a little miffed with lack of movement on "don't ask, don't tell" and the repeal of the DEfense of Marriage Act?

With apologies to William Butler Yeats.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Barack Obama Bible Cover (Update)

An update to this.

The link to the Obama Bible nows says that the product is no longer available. I have no idea why.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Willie Sutton wasn't available

It seems to apply to a lot of our government's decisions, but this particular news is truly worthy of "Good Idea Cat" -

I can always grow a longer arm for next time!

I mean, it's Goldman Sachs, right? Such a bang-up job all their alumni have done in government up until now, it's a brilliant move to hire this fellow.

Spending our way to prosperity simply hasn't been tried enough!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lost Manatee

In New Jersey?

The wayward male — known as Ilya — has been stuck near a Linden oil refinery, and officials say plunging temperatures and a lack of food were endangering its life. And while the gentle sea cow appears to be in good health, it had been huddling near an outfall pipe at an oil refinery — the only place it could find warm water.

Not only is that poor thing freezing it's flippers off, but tht's probably not the cleanest water. Right now New Jersey too cold for me. How did this thing find it's way to the Garden State?

Charlie Crist...


...is running ads on conservative talk radio complaining about Obama's spending. What is it, 10 months before the primary? Of course, his play date with the One down in Fort Myers in February is a problem.

Charlie's RINO supporters are worried. He's losing county straw polls; the national GOP wants him, but Florida Republicans don't.

Charlie may have a Plan B:

Still, one top Crist supporter even speculated that Crist might consider withdrawing from the race and run for re-election. That probably won’t happen. But while the idea of Crist switching races is unlikely and probably absurd, the entertainment of such an absurdity by the Crist-can’t-lose crowd is noteworthy. They’re nervous. So is Crist, who’s unexpectedly dropping in at Republican committee meetings, where straw poll after straw by rank-and-file Republican base voters show the base favors Rubio.

Crist switching races probably won't happen, but oh the entertainment value.
Here is why non-Floridians should worry about this. The national GOP is shoving Crist down the throats of Florida Republicans. If this guy makes it into the Senate he will be the model for the ideal GOP presidential candidate. Haven't we been there and done that?
I am considering holding my nose and changing my voter registration back to GOP so I can vote for Rubio in the primary.

Rush, one more time.

I'm going to try and keep this short, because I'm trying to think happy thoughts and not use any of those words that I picked up in Germany that Frau Fineberg never taught us at Absegami High.

Rush website has a full
compilation.

Checketts approached Rush as a partner in buying the Rams. Rush warned him that this would happen. Checketts said he could deal with it. Well, Checketts couldn't.

The One's fingerprints are on this. The NFL Players Union head is DeMaurice Smith, who used to work for the current attorney general and was on his lordship's transition team.

But this was just a dry run for next year. The labor agreement between the players union and the NFL expires in 2010, and the owners are thinking about locking out the players as leverage. On the players side will be Revvums Jesse & Al, the Congressional Black Caucus and The One. What has transpired was a test to see if the owners can be mau-maued. Take a look at General Motors Mr. Goodell. That's your future.

This race-baiting crap really gets the Sisko angry. Think happy thoughts.

Beyond Parody


This is not a gag. You can get one for $24 plus shipping here.
Normally, the "my" in this verse is understood to be the Lord Almighty, but in this context it is made to appear as a quote from the One.
H/t to CMR.