Sunday, December 30, 2007

Best vacation EVER

Besides conferring swag on many relatives, I spent most of the week inert. The eggs were well-nogged, the music was festive, the fire was so delightful (sadly, no chestnuts roasted thereupon), and we got many thoughtful gifts and cards.

Alas, two of the cards were outgoing, and returned to us for bonus postage. Sorry! It's taken care of now, we think.

Not pictured: Elton John and George Michael on a duet of 'Step Into Christmas'

I hope you guys had as fabulous a Christmas as seen above.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Good News About Global Warming.. that all us ignorant, Bible-thumping right-wing crackers will drown!
The area that will by completely inundated by the rising ocean—and not in a century but in the lifetime of my two cats—are the American southeast, including the most populated area of Texas, almost all of Florida, most of Louisiana, and half of Alabama and Mississippi, as well as goodly portions of eastern Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Is this writer just a tree-hugging Pat Robertson, pronouncing judgement on areas of the country not because of the glorification of the heterosexually deprived, but because they failed to bow the knee to Al Gore?
Where his thesis fails is that dikes may save Philly (quit laughing!), but the Walt Whitman would become a bridge to nowhere since good liberal New Jersey would be under water.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Turf War... the birthplace of the Prince of Peace.
Seven people were injured on Thursday when Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests came to blows in a dispute over how to clean the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Following the Christmas celebrations, Greek Orthodox priests set up ladders to clean the walls and ceilings of their part of the church, which is built over the site where Jesus Christ is believed to have been born.

But the ladders encroached on space controlled by Armenian priests, according to photographers who said angry words ensued and blows quickly followed.

For a quarter of an hour bearded and robed priests laid into each other with fists, brooms and iron rods while the photographers who had come to take pictures of the annual cleaning ceremony recorded the whole event.

A dozen unarmed Palestinian policemen were sent to try to separate the priests, but two of them were also injured in the unholy melee.

"As usual the cleaning of the church afer Christmas is a cause of problems," Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh told AFP, adding that he has offered to help ease tensions.

"For the two years that I have been here everything went more or less calmly," he said. "It's all finished now."

The Church of the Nativity, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, is shared by various branches of Christianity, each of which controls and jealously guards a part of the holy site.

The Church of the Nativity is built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born in a stable more than 2,000 years ago after Mary and Joseph were turned away by an inn.
Fighting Orthodox and Armenian priests. Boys in the Hoods?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Is this Pastor...

..some kind of clown?

The clown walked into church like he owned the place.

KoKoMo stood proudly in the sanctuary of Carrollwood Baptist, his huge white shoes planted firmly, his head-to-toe sequins glimmering, his nose and wig as red as a Christmas bow.It was no joke. KoKoMo was decked out for God.

The Rev. Tom Rives adopted his alter ego about 35 years ago and has used it ever since. The message delivered in his high-pitched voice is weighty for a clown: It is of love and salvation.

I want to remind you that the Christmas story does not end at the manger, that Jesus is more than just a baby eating, sleeping and filling his diaper. This story goes on to tell of a cross and an empty tomb. Now that's the Good News.
Posting a blog on Christmas Day. Yeah, I'm single.

Monday, December 24, 2007

On my list for next Christmas

This is the car I always expected to be driving when I grew up.

Oh HELLS YES!(pic © Aptera)

Of course, I always expected that it would fly, but you can't have it all. It looks like it could fly; frankly that's the whole point.

When Steve Fambro got bored building robots at a San Diego genetics company, he figured he could help keep his brain busy by building a kit airplane in his spare time. But his wife deemed the hobby too dangerous, so Fambro decided to build a car instead, one with low emissions and absurdly high mileage.

Let me just point out the most important part of this sentence. Hint - it's not "low emissions and absurdly high mileage."

When Steve Fambro got bored building robots at a San Diego genetics company...

The dude invented this car when he got bored BUILDING ROBOTS. Sweet Baby James.

Specs may change between now and autumn 2008, but the current numbers look like this: 300 mpg, a price tag below $30,000, and 0-60 acceleration of 11 seconds.

That said, yes, 300 mpg. This is for the hybid model, which carries two gallons of gas. Currently I get about 300 miles per trip in the Discount Chariot. I can get twice that on one-fifth the gas? I can fill 'er up for six bucks and go from here to North Carolina without stopping?

The Aptera's roof houses a strip of solar cells that serve double duty. In hot weather they power the parked car's air conditioner, keeping the interior cool for when the driver returns.

I want this thing so freakin' bad. George Jetson probably wants one of these.

There's also cameras instead of mirrors, to cut down on wind drag. (Hold on, I'm hyperventilating. Gimme a minute.) I wonder if they put the displays where the driver is used to looking, and flip the displays to be true mirror images. That would make it perfectly intuitive.

They're taking deposits of $500. When does my holiday bonus clear?

Christmas Eve in Tampa FL

It will be a little cool, the high will be 74 degrees.

I'm still wearing shorts and tshirt.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

This is Bad...

….really, really, really bad.

The Lakeland elementary school principal arrested on child pornography charges Friday was expected to post a reduced bond and be granted pre-trial release Saturday, according to the Polk sheriff's office.

John Stelmack, principal of Lakeland's Scott Lake Elementary since fall 2006, was arrested by Polk County Sheriff's investigators Friday after a briefcase in his school office was found to contain digitally altered photographs of young girls and childlike naked women, investigators said. He faces five counts of possessing child pornography.

Lakeland is between Orlando and Tampa. What this guy did was take innocent pictures of little girls in his school, then past their faces on the kiddie porn pix. And he had this stuff in his office. Here‘s what started it:

The school district had been investigating Stelmack since last Friday, after faculty members complained about Stelmack's level of affection shown toward some students. He has been suspended with pay since that investigation began.

What’s more is that the school district hired this guy without receiving his personnel records from the school he resigned from in Buffalo, NY.

He’s out of the jail right now, but I hope he didn’t go home because we all own guns in Florida, and I can imagine there are a few daddies out there considering frontier justice.

Another thing that my Catholic friends have probably already noticed. I just googled “teacher, sex, student” and come up with 195,000 hits. But no one in the media is talking about an epidemic, or an organizational scandal like they did with the Catholic priests a few years ago. And we all know why.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Supermax, or United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, CO. It’s the Alcatraz of the Rockies.

Whenever you think of some notorious criminal and wonder, “Where is he?”, he’s probably in the Supermax.

The blind sheik, the shoe bomber, FBI traitor Robert Hanssen, the 20th 9-11 highjacker, the Unabomber, the Olympic Park Bomber, Sammy the Bull, the American Taliban and a whole host of others now call Supermax their home.

Including Woody Harrelson’s dad, who died in Supermax last March 15.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dan Fogelberg started it

No, really. Go ask Ken if you doubt me.

Our replies were but a poor attempt to imitate fellow commenter Linda, because in her words, she's a big Dan Fan.

I associate that term with an entirely different recording artist, as you can probably figure out from my bloghandle. So, I guess it's on me to cook up some questions about their stuff. We'll warm you up with a few fungoes and progress to the real fun stuff. [UPDATE - I have added correct answers where given, and hints in Spoiler Vision™ where necessary. Turns out I made some of these way too crazy hard.]

  1. 1. What do you hide when you're able? [Black cards - Ken; Julie gets half credit]
  2. 2. When the shutter falls, you see it all in 3-D. What is it? [HINT - Peg is the one doing the seeing; but what is she seeing? (It will come back to you!)] **
  3. 3. We can stay inside and do this... [Play games - Ken, then Barking Spider]
  4. 4. The girls don't seem to care what's on... as long as what plays 'til dawn? [FM - Barking Spider. Bonus - nothing but blues, Elvis, and somebody else's favorite song - Spider again.]
  5. 5. She thinks I'm crazy, but what's the real problem? [HINT - she's just nineteen, which means...]
  6. 6. Where did you get those shoes? [HINT - almost, Spider. The man who gave me the news is the one who asked me this question. What was my answer?]
  7. 7. What did everyone stop to stare at? [Your technicolor motorhome - Barking Spider. Confession - I put this in here specifically for him.]
  8. 8. Who's a charmer like you've never seen? [HINT - she sings voulez voulez voulez vouz. There are three acceptable answers]
  9. 9. Daddy don't live where no more? [HINT - this is the title of the song]
  10. 10. Where am I never going back to? [My old school - Barking Spider]
  11. 11. Like this item, I foresee terrible trouble. What is it? (And what do I do?) [HINT - Spider's close, right song - fill in the missing lines]
  12. 12. Tonight when I face the dragon, what two things will happen? [HINT - OK, this wasn't fair. First, the water may change to cherry wine; second...]
  13. 13. How did you settle up your bill? [HINT - this is shortly after he caught you with your fingers in the till, and slapped your hand. Again - title of the song]
  14. 14. NEW ITEM - Now I can't wait 'till I move to the city - I'll finally make up my mind to do these two things.

Old 14. It's all in the game... and who are you? [This one was really mean, but it's one of my absolute faves. You're just another scurvy brother.]

With multi-part stuff, there's STILL a good amount to go on for now. Answer away!

** Double-secret bonus - this clip will spoil the answer, but it's fascinating: how Becker and Fagan actually laid down all the tracks for Peg. Includes some alternate guitar solos they rejected, shocking photos of everybody in 1977, and fun tidbits about all the crap they put Michael McDonald through.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The book tour may be off..

...but the TV Special is a possibility.
Nickelodeon is considering a special for its young audience about sex and love following the news that 16-year-old "Zoey 101" star Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant.
The television network has made no announcement about the future of "Zoey 101," its popular program aimed primarily at youngsters aged 9- 14. Filming for the show's fourth and final season has finished, and episodes are scheduled to begin airing in February.
If you thought Mom's book on parenting was beyond parody...

Guess what I learned today

How to post photos!
The above was taken on August 5, 2007, yes, the very day that the Nightfly and the Ladybug were wed in the holy city of Eatonton, NJ (or was it the equally holy city of Freehold?).
Which explains the formal garb. The handsome young groom on the right is the Fly. The grey-bearded laundry bag with legs on the left is none other than the Barking Spider himself. You are probably saying to yourself, "Self, these two guys were in college together yet the Spider is in serious need of Grecian Formula for Men." I started school a little late and met the freshman Fly 18 years ago when I was a 30-year-old junior.
I hope my visage hasn't frightened any small children or ladies visiting the blog. This is the first time my image has been posted on the web.

So much....

...for the book tour.

Lynne Spears' book about parenting has been delayed indefinitely, her publisher said Wednesday.

Lindsey Nobles, a spokeswoman for Christian book publisher Thomas Nelson Inc., said Wednesday that the memoir by the mother of Britney Spears was put on hold last week.

She declined to comment on whether the delay was connected to the revelation that Spears' 16-year-old daughter, Jamie Lynn, is pregnant.

What a shame! I was so looking forward to learning about how to raise children to be responsible adults!

There's a fine line...

...between man's best friend and an entree.

Caddy was an 8-month-old, 50-pound German shepherd-Labrador mix.

His owners, Frank Manuma and Debbie Weil-Manuma, never had children. Debbie never even had a pet dog before. She said Caddy was their little boy.

On Sunday, Caddy was taken from them, and they know he's never coming back. They said police told them two men confessed to stealing the dog and one said the dog was slaughtered and eaten. They said that was confirmed by a third person who told police the dog was taken to his house, where it was slaughtered.

It's a Far East thing. I myself have dined on canine while I was on Guam many moons ago.

Michael Vick missed out on a moneymaking opportunity. You're killing the dogs anyway. You may as well open up a very special Asian restaurant.

Good times, bad times

You know, they've had their share.

Chris Simon, everyone's favorite unlovable scamp, fresh off a record 25-game sitdown for last year's Hassan Chop of Ryan Holleweg, limbo'd under the bar by netting 30 games for stomping Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu over the weekend.

Now, while the whole "stick up for the team" concept is admirable, Simon is now in the Steve Howe Zone - this is his seventh suspension from the NHL, and after a while there comes a time where being a good teammate means respecting other players' safety, and not being blindly loyal to a guy who can't keep his act together on the ice. So, I hear Bryan Berard say "I've seen worse things on the ice that have gotten a lot less games, especially now with the head injuries, guys hitting from behind and things like that, and guys getting two games." ... Oy. I'm not sure he's right about "fewer games" for stuff, as several Flyers can attest. Second, has he really seen worse on the ice than a guy purposely stomping down on another guy's leg with a razor-sharp blade? Simon's 210 pounds - that's a lot of stomp.

Of the few things that are in the same league as what Simon has done (with sticks and blades), at least three resulted in similar punishments - Marty McSorely braining Donald Brashear, Todd Bertuzzi jumping Steve Moore, and Jesse Boulerice slashing Ryan Kesler in the face. (In the old days, I'll grant you, not so much.)

"I'm sure it's a tough one to accept but Chris is a repeat offender," Berard added, showing that he at least has some clue. But his head coach? "It's excessive," said Ted Nolan. "The league suspended him ... now we have to support Chris while he goes through this process."

Taken apart, I can kinda sorta see that they want to be good to a guy who's (by all accounts) a fine clubhouse guy, a good teammate, and someone that Nolan in particular has mentored since their time in juniors. Simon's overcome a lot to have a career, gotten a lot of his personal life in order... but it's time for the guy to leave the ice and get himself straight. If off-the-ice leadership and character are his strong suits, that's where he should serve.

The Isles celebrated "Rally Around a Felon Night" by firing off 43 pucks, only one of which found twine, and losing 2-1 to Buffalo. But, there is a little light at the end of the tunnel, in the form of Kyle Okposo, their best prospect, deciding that he's seen enough of this goal-free bunkum. But instead of fleeing (or simply staying at U of Minnesota long enough for his rights to lapse and re-entering the draft), he's decided to join the Islanders and start his pro career.

One of the biggest problems in turning around a struggling team is attracting big talent. Catch-22: nobody wants to waste away on a bad team, so the team stays too bad to attract the players to improve. It takes that one guy to lead the way. I'm impressed with Okposo as a player, and now as a guy willing to work and to be there to rebuild. I hope they can get the kid some help and not just ship him off in a few years. (See Jokinen, Olli; Schnieder, Matheiu; Spezza, Jason; Chara, Zdeno; Connolly, Tim; Torres, Raffi; Luongo, Roberto; and etc. etc.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Comics, the fourteenth frontier

It's Star Trek Week Time Interval at Dave's Long Box, and that means that he's bringing The Pain!™, Gold Key style.

In his latest installment, Hell freezes over.


I picture Lucifer sitting around, jacking the thermostat, watching minor demons start snowball fights and making snow angels (and he HATES that)... then he looks out his window and sees the Enterprise orbiting the Third Circle. That explains a lot, he says to himself.

We're still working on the explanations to the cover, though. Is that Kirk in the foreground? Whoever it is, he seems not to be taking things very seriously. I mean, it's HELL and it's FROZEN. He's about to break his spine over the cover narration, which tells us that his entire crew is doomed to disappear into space. How bad is this? Even Spock is freaking out.

Now dig Captain Combover.

Gee, did I leave the replicator on?

To be fair, he's only falling on his bum, while poor Spock is being physically dragged off by demons. Which brings up an important question: if you had both diabolical powers AND laser gun technology, would you shoot to trip?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thus it starts

The Mitchell Report is getting called a lot of things, and the leader in the clubhouse seems to be "unsubstantiated hearsay from someone with a vested interest in staying out of jail."

It is certainly less-than-substantiated, to put it clumsily, though an entire appendix is dedicated to copies of the various checks, money orders, and notes Kirk Radomski was given over the years. Hearsay, in some cases where a third guy overheard two other guys - but Radomski was a direct participant, so I don't think it's all cases. Vested interest, most definitely.

But now, some of the guys named in the report are starting to come out with apologies and mea culpae. Andy Pettitte, Dan Naulty, Fernando Vina, Brian Roberts... Roberts' is especially interesting in light of his employer, the Baltimore Orioles, issuing a statement urging people to be cautious while reading the Report.

Every time one of these guys joins the "mistakes were made" side of things, Radomski and the Report gain a little more credibility. As Sean Connery could said to Kevin Costner, everybody knows where the drugs are, Mr. Ness... but what are you prepared to do? And as the PTI guys said (and Ms. Sister reported in the comments here), this is only the stuff that Radomski or BALCO led to, and they still gathered up people from every clubhouse in baseball... how much more is out there?

[more on the whole mess:
Spam, meet fan
Waiting for the hammer to fall
I did not have relations with that steroid, Stanozolol
Steroids among the little guys]

The Pastor..

..and the porn.

The Rev. Brian James' confession of being a porn addict certainly was traumatic for this respected pastor and his congregation at the St. James United Methodist Church in New Tampa.

But the church was admirably direct in acknowledging James' lapses and deciding he could no longer lead the church.

The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, which oversees some 750 churches, dealt with the pastor's transgressions firmly by removing him from his post at the New Tampa church.

The church hierarchy also showed compassion, sending James to get help and leaving open the possibility of a return to the ministry.

The UMC church in Florida is not as squishy as the UMC in the Northeast or Northwest. The church is doing the right thing, "We love you bro, but you gotta go, you may be ably to come back."

I am even surprised that my local fishwrap gave its approval of dealing with a fallen pastor in a Biblical manner.

My question is: Would this editorial be so approving if Pastor James would have confessed to a hankering for manlove?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Letters... God.

Realizing they were too old to write letters to Santa Claus, Jonathan Mihal came up with a better idea, much more in keeping with the religion class he teaches at Cathedral Grammar School here in the South End of the city.

He decided to have his eighth-graders write to God.

“A lot of times, kids their age won’t verbalize, telling you how they really feel,” he explained. “So I thought this might be a good way to get them to open up, especially since the class is all about our faith. I asked them to write on the theme, ‘Why, God, why?’ ”

Mihal, 27, in his third year of teaching, assumed it would be an enjoyable assignment, even whimsical, perhaps revealing imagination and humor. He was, however, in for a big surprise.

I have no comment, other than what He said:

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11 :28-30

World's Oldest Man...

...was a bachelor for the same reasons I am.

Born, according to family documents, on 15 March 1891, Mr Nestor, a former farm labourer, put his long life down to the fact that he never married.

"He didn't find himself a mate because he was a short man and never had money," Oksana believes.

Uno cheesesteak, por favor

Dieses ist Amerika. Bitte Auftrag auf englisch.

A small sign that asked customers to order in English at a famous cheesesteak shop was never meant to be offensive, the shop's owner testified Friday at a hearing to decide whether the policy was discriminatory.

Joe Vento, the owner of Geno's Steaks, defended his policy before the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, which filed the discrimination complaint.

"This country is a melting pot, but what makes it work is the English language," Vento told the commission. "I'm not stupid. I would never put a sign out to hurt my business."

Vento posted two small signs in October 2005 at his shop in a diverse South Philadelphia neighborhood, telling customers, "This is AMERICA: WHEN ORDERING PLEASE 'SPEAK ENGLISH.'"

In a visit to Geno's last year by the Fly and Mr. Bingley of the Coalition, we learn the real reason the civil rights pimps are bent over a cheesesteak joint.

Friday, December 14, 2007

High School Musical

Last week I went to the Gaither High (Tampa FL) Holiday Concert. My pastor's daughter was singing in it (she sounds like the country music singer Taylor Swift) and it is always good clean family fun, especially when these teen guitar players crank out riffs twenty years older than they are.

But what I got a kick out of was the number non-Santa songs that were sung. "O Little Town of Bethlehem", Point of Grace's "When Love Came Down", "Noel", The Hallelujah Chorus from "Messiah", and the instuctor ended the show with a Sandi Patti song.

My question to you Jerseyites: Would this have happened in a Jersey public school without someone in the audience peeing themselves as they hit the number for the local ACLU office programmed on their cell?

The grass is always greener on the other sideline

bump - I almost forgot something about this whole mess. It's now footnote number three, with Ted Nolan going to footnote number four. Sorry about that. We still have Mitchell Report madness the post right below this one, and it will be updated from time to time as I read more.

Quote from Louisville Cardinals Atlanta Falcons Arkansas Razorbacks football coach Bobby Petrino, as heard on SportsCenter last night: "It was difficult on one side, very easy on the other. It was difficult to leave Atlanta, the staff, players, fans. The timing of it probably is the thing that made it most difficult. Coming to Arkansas was the easy part."

He also said something to the effect of "I would have liked to have finished what we started here."

I call Bravo Sierra. He obviously didn't like it enough to actually, you know, DO IT.

If Alge Crumpler decided to sit out the rest of the season because Mike Vick went to the pokey and the Falcons went into the dumpster, he'd be fined... and if he decided to dog it to force a trade out of town, he'd be justly vilified. And if a college athlete decides to switch schools, the NCAA makes him sit out a full year. Heck, if I tried to access my 401-K before retirement, I would pay a hefty penalty for early withdrawl - and that's my own money in there. So, why not a similar penalty when the coach does it? He is breaking his contract; in Petrino's case, a FIVE-YEAR contract offered in good faith.* He lasted 13 games before deciding "boo-hoo, this is HARD" and fleeing back to college. ** (Or as he put it, "I knew I wanted to come back and coach in college football." Which, again, is Bravo Sierra, because if he DID know this when he signed the deal, he was putting his signature to a bald lie. Ask Sir Thomas More about that sometime.)

Ideally, there's a sanction for a guy like Petrino, or Nick Saban before him, or any of these other phony baloneys - nobody would trust them. Teams would be slow to hire them, for fear that the next open job would lure them away. At the very least, a pro team should seek some protection from the next big-time college hotshot jumping up in class - write into the contract a hefty penalty for ship jumping. The owner would have to pay any coach he fired, as per the contract; why is this a one-way situation? ***

This drives me particularly crazy on two levels.

1. In my little ghetto-hockey world, there is no such thing as contracts. If I agree to be the goalie for a team, I have an obligation to show up for the games, not quit if it's going badly, and should another team ask me to play with them, I would at the very least give my current team some notice, so they could get a new guy. If I didn't even tell them, and suddenly showed up for a game for the new guys and left them high and dry? My name would be mud; the commish would call me exotic obscenities, and I would very likely get run the first time I played my old squad. And I would deserve it. As a result, NOBODY does this in any of the leagues I've ever been in; not even forwards and defensemen, who are more easily replaceable. It's not worth it. Well, if we schlubs can honor our word, why not a highly-paid professional? Is it in part because of the pay, the idea that one is simply a mercenary who owes no loyalty, even while paying lip service to the concept of "family" and "commitment"?

2. Current Islanders coach Ted Nolan won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's best head coach back in 1995 (I think) with the Buffalo Sabres. He was then fired by the team (the sordid details are here) and suffered through a total blackballing lasting years - nobody would touch him before the Isles brought him aboard in 2006. This is a good guy with great coaching credentials who shows real commitment in giving back; but because he had a falling-out with his head-case goaltender and front office, nobody would give him a second shot, even as an assistant. This really ticks me off, frankly... apparently people would rather hire charlatans and head-cases to run teams, rather than dedicated and talented people. ****

And what happens to the defensive coordinator, Reggie Herring, who will coach Arkansas in their bowl game? It's likely that Petrino won't even retain him, and he will be pounding the bricks, uprooting his family in search of another gig. Some reward for loyalty to the program. The same may well go for the yet-to-be-named interim Falcons coach, if the "permanent" replacement wants to bring in his own staff. (update - it's Emmitt Thomas.)

* I would say "signed in good faith" as well, but the truth is that people have to sign contracts because their good faith is no good. If you could simply trust me to be your head coach, and I could trust you to pay me as agreed, then all would be well.

** Fun tidbit from the EPSN article linked above - Lou Holtz did the same thing in 1976 to the Jets; his destination? Arkansas. From football coaches to governors, this place seems to specialize in phonys.

*** Under-reported aspect of the story: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, an Arkansas alumnus, apparently had a hand in bringing the sides to each others' attention. The Falcons may stink out loud, but they are a conference rival. How is this not tampering? Do the Cowboys give the Falcons their first round draft pick, or do they skate on this?

**** I can only hope that Herring and Nolan and others choose to live by this fantastic quote from John Adams, so timely quoted by Sheila: "I thank God I have a Head, an Heart and Hands which if once fully exerted alltogether, will succeed in the World as well as those of the mean spirited, low minded, fawning obsequious scoundrells who have long hoped, that my Integrity would be an Obstacle in my Way, and enable them to out strip me in the Race. But what I want in Comparison of them, of Villany and servility, I will make up in Industry and Capacity. ... Nor shall Knavery, through any Negligence of mine, get the better of Honesty, nor Ignorance of Knowledge, nor Folly of Wisdom, nor Vice of Virtue."

John Adams - ^$*%# yeah!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Spam, meet fan

The Mitchell Report is available in a handy pdf. Be advised, it checks in at 409 pages (including appendices), and is not exactly light reading. After I've had a chance to read, highlight, and process, I will be commenting at length, while trying desperately to avoid the current "be first" commentary pouring out of the various media orifices.

One thing that jumps right off the page - specifically, SR-7 (it's pg 15 overall) - I will quote in its entirety. (Please don't hurt me, Bud Selig):

The Players Association was largely uncooperative.
(1) It rejected totally my requests for relevant documents.
(2) It permitted one interview with its executive director, Donald Fehr; my request for an interview with its chief operating officer, Gene Orza, was refused.
(3) It refused my request to interview the director of the Montreal laboratory that analyzes drug tests under baseball’s drug program but permitted her to provide me with a letter addressing a limited number of issues.
(4) I sent a memorandum to every active player in Major League Baseball encouraging each player to contact me or my staff if he had any relevant information. The Players Association sent out a companion memorandum that effectively discouraged players from cooperating. Not one player contacted me in response to my memorandum.
(5) I received allegations of the illegal possession or use of performance enhancing substances by a number of current players. Through their representative, the Players Association, I asked each of them to meet with me so that I could provide them with information about the allegations and give them a chance to respond. Almost without exception they declined to meet or talk with me.

Let's see... this strategy was
(1) shortsighted & selfish
(2) probably cost some guys lots of money
(3) harmful to players' reputations in the short AND long-term
(4) obstructive
(5) discouraged players as a whole from getting out their side of the story first.

Great job representing the players' interests, MLBPA!

OH - and, thumbing through it, I see Paul Lo Duca prominently mentioned (pgs 208-211 in the main body), closing with the sentence "In order to provide Lo Duca with information about these allegations and to give him an opportunity to respond, I asked him to meet with me; he declined."

Think he's happy that he signed that $5 million deal with the Nationals two days before this came out?

updated, 12/14 - oh, and Mr. Fehr is now in the news trying to discredit the results of the investigation he helped to impede, because it's just allegations, there's no proof, he didn't get the players' side of it. Whose fault was that, exactly, sir? Was it the guys writing the report, who repeatedly asked for player input? The guys who told every accused player of the allegations against them and asked for them to respond? Or, maybe, the guy who encouraged them to clam the f'k up, for f'k's sake? Or the players who listened to him - which would be all of the players named in the report?

Another thing that people have been saying (John Kruk, for one.. er, for two) is that many of these people haven't actually failed a drug test. Ah, but in the report, it comes out that
(1) 5% of tested players DID, in fact, flunk anonymous drug tests in 2002, one of the reasons such tests became mandatory (pg. 18)
(2) that about 79% of players favored the testing, and some players wanted to refuse the test in order to INTENTIONALLY fail it, forcing it to be mandatory (pg. 15)
(3) 7% of tested players then flunked the 2003 rounds of testing (96 out of 1369) (pg. 55)
(4) some of the players used a mix of testosterone and epitestosterone ("the cream") in order to keep their T/E ratios normal - thus helping them fool the drug tests (pg. 113)

In other words, it seems that the players' representatives decided to ignore the majority will of the players in order to shield wrongdoers, and that the relative paucity of positive test results is not evidence that the sport was clean; to the contrary, it looks rather like a whole lot of people knew how dirty the sport was.

even more update - a reasonable dissent from our friend Mr. Bingley at the Swilling; though even then, I observe that in order to counter allegations, it's generally more effective to tell one's side of things. When in the history of anything has stonewalling prevented the truth from getting out? Or stopped you from looking twelve times worse when it finally DOES get out? The net effect of the MLBPA strategy is that anyone named in this report who was clean hasn't a prayer of convincing fans that he wasn't a cheat.

And from the names on the list, it looks like a number of people who, like LoDuca, had one or two good-to-great years, and then dropped off a shelf (Mo Vaughn, Eric Gagne, and Brian Roberts among them) or guys who, having begun to drop, suddenly found the Syringe of Youth (ahem, Roger Clemens).

Now, when Jose Canseco published his book, it was easy to laugh at him for it - he came clean when it cost him absolutely nothing. He needed the money, he had dirt, and his own drug-fueled career had already ground to an ignominious end. Mark Fainaru-Wada & Lance Williams risked their reporting careers and their liberty in writing Game of Shadows (they were briefly jailed for reporting grand jury testimony until the actual leak came forward). The Mitchell Report is somewhere between these extremes. Appendix A details all the links between George Mitchell and his law firm with interested parties in baseball, including his relationship with the Boston Red Sox; but his firm was going to be paid regardless of whether the report came back favorable or critical of Major League Baseball.

In any case, there's one commonality. Finaru-Wada and Williams, Canseco, Mitchell, and many others who have investigated and reported over the years have all found a lot of evidence of steroids, hgh, testosterone, and other drug enhancement in baseball. The motives may have ranged from altruistic to calculating, but they all uncovered a lot of the same things. For years we've known something was up, even your humble narrator. The Mitchell Report is not the last word on it, but it shouldn't just be tossed aside, nor dumbed down to the named names. The list doesn't start until pg. 149; from there, the Report follows a chain from player to player over the years, tracing how the drugs spread through the clubhouses, with former NY Met employe Kirk Radomski acting as a major funnel of the substances to the players.

Prior to that is a literal ream of information, extensively footnoted: tracing the health risks, the various stages of testing programs, the variety of other drugs in baseball history, other investigations in print or from specially-appointed panels and arbitrators. There's more to this than simply smearing poor, innocent utility infielders and middle relievers; though statistically, those are the bulk of the names, which makes sense. A guy like Josias Manzanillo is going to need the help more than a guy like Randy Johnson.

I could not be on this woman's jury..

..because this tale cuts too close to home.

HOLIDAY -- The deputy arrived at the car crash, and this is what he heard: "Help me, my mother is drunk, and she crashed the car."

Those were the words of an 8-year-old girl who was a passenger in a wreck about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Here's what happened, according to reports from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and Florida Highway Patrol: Angela Atkinson (left), 32, of 2395 Powers St. in Palm Harbor, crashed her car on southbound U.S. 19 near Darlington Road.

She fled, and then hit another car.

The driver in the second crash followed Atkinson to the intersection of Atlantis Drive and Merrilon Drive, where deputies and troopers came to investigate.

She refused to submit to a breath test, but an FHP report says she smelled like she'd been drinking, was acting belligerent and had poor balance.

Before they took her to jail, where she remained Thursday in lieu of $6,500 bail, she said this, according to reports:

"I don't care if I am drunk. I don't give a damn."

Over 40 years ago I can still clearly remember being in the family car with Mom and my six siblings. It was night, and dear old drunk Dad had the driver's side window down gulping in the cold New Jersey night air to stay awake. Never got pulled over (this was the pre-MADD days) or crashed. A merciful God has watched over me and has kept me alive to this day.

As a potential juror in this case, I could not show this woman the same mercy.

If you have wondered why I post a lot of stories on this subject, in the words of Kenny Chesney "I've been there, that's why I'm here". I want to make it clear that I recognize the great majority of humanity that can enjoy adult beverages in a responsible manner.

But a small (sadly not small enough) minority of us are destroying ourselves, and I just want to bring to your attention how bad it is.

Forgive me for my indulgences in this area.

Move over, John Denver and the Muppets

We now have the new, definitive version of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Chris Sims has officially won the Internet.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kurt Snibbe rules

This is truly inspired. My favorite part? As if you need to ask...

The Bruins ACTUALLY DID THIS in MSG in '79.

Everything about this guy just kills me: the insane expression, the mullet... I love that he has hockey tape on his socks and shoulder/pants piping, but no gloves. And best of all, he's wearing that sweatband. One of my deck hockey teammates not only wears an identical headband (and a nearly-as-fabulous mullet), but he may just be crazy enough to try this in a game. Thankfully, we're all on foot.

You Can't Make This Up

Drunk perv in a car full of little boys.

Nashville police are investigating why a registered sex offender was allegedly driving drunk with five young boys in his car. (Why? Because apparently he can! - spider)

An officer stopped Michael Wayne Ingram early Saturday after seeing him drive recklessly.

Police say Ingram was convicted of raping a boy in 1991.

Officers said they tried to conduct a field sobriety test, but Ingram was nearly too intoxicated to stand.

Authorities say Ingram may have met one of the 12- and 13-year-old boys in his car through a Web site.

The report says the boys were having a sleepover when Ingram called one of them and asked to meet him.

Charges against Ingram include violating the sexual offenders registry and DUI.

More details as they develop online and in Thursday's News Sentinel.

B16 to tree-huggers..

..don't go nuts.

Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology.

The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering.

The German-born Pontiff said that while some concerns may be valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Really Inconvenient Truth

update, 12/12 - WILLisms has a very detailed look at this and many other societal numbers. Great article, Mr. Franklin. -nf

AND double update - following a link from the comments by Mr. Bingley, to Ms. Sister's citation of Roland Martin.

National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 56, No. 7, December 5, 2007

From the table on page 6, percentage of out-of wedlock births in 2006 by race:

All Races 38.5%

Non-Hispanic white 26.6%

Non-Hispanic black 70.7%

Hispanic 49.9%

If this offends, your argument is not with me but with the Centers for Disease Control.

Hiding Your Light under a Bushel Basket

One hundred years, maybe fifty years ago, a presidential candidate would not have to do this.

Now that he has his moment in the political spotlight, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee does not want his days at the pulpit to be scrutinized.

I don't know what to make of this. I know that David Corn is not being honest with his readers. His real desire is search out in these sermons the politically incorrect and the wierd (at least what would be considered wierd to the godless such as Mr. Corn).

This is the pattern of the drive-by media. Instead of asking Huckabee how his Christianity would influence his policies, (like, "Are you in favor of teaching alternatives to Darwin in schools?"), they ask questions intended to embarrass ("Did God make the world in six days six thousand years ago?")

Now, if you're not running for president the above question is easy to answer. "Six days? I have no idea. The question you should be asking Wolf, is what will you say to the Lord Jesus when your sorry posterior appears before Him?"

Let's not forget the bias factor. Obama wraps himself in Jesus at every campaign stop but he will not get any of the above questions.

Two I'd like to hear Obama handle:

From the GOP debate: "Do you believe every word of this Book?

What does the Bible say about homosexuality?

That will never happen.

It is sad that communicating standard Reformed evangelical theology would disqualify one from high public office. But then, the Gospel is supposed to offend, and if your pastor's messages meet the approval of Mr. Corn then your pastor is not doing his job.

"Godless" is a strong term, but I am familiar with Mr. Corn's work, and I stand by that description.

I'm in Love

If this woman is single, I'm on my way to Colorado Springs.

Charl Van Wyk, who is credited with saving parishioners' lives when he fired back at terrorists in the St. James Massacre, says the volunteer security guard who shot and stopped an armed attacker at a Colorado Springs church should be honored.

The volunteer, Jeanne Assam, was credited by Pastor Brady Boyd with saving many lives in her quick response to gunshots fired at the New Life Church on Sunday.

"I give the credit to God and I mean that I say that very humbly, God was with me the whole time I was behind cover," she told reporters. ""It seemed like it was me, the gunman, and God."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Or, not really

Sorry, Jeff Pearlman, I'm not sure I can get behind this.

I'm going to start with your lead - a quote from a Met fan on a blog, chosen as the problem in a nutshell:

"I remember back in the early and mid '80s when the Mets were getting a bit "white" under Frank Cashen's rule. Personally, I did not like that, but compared to what Omar Minaya is doing today, that was nothing! Minaya is simply looking for the best Latin players available, not the best players available."

Now, he doesn't link to the blog or quote the fan, or the name of the blog. This may be policy, but it would be nice to have some context here, to be able to look up the source material ourselves. For one thing, we have NO IDEA whether or not said fan is white, black, Latino, Martian, or Klingon. Yet Pearlman's entire premise for the article is that we naturally tend to root for people who resemble us. So right away, I don't know what to make of things. I think it's probable that it's some race-based observation that he is observing; it could also be that the fan in question wants Omar Minaya to get great players regardless of their ethnicity: in other words, the fan isn't betraying a problem with race so much as a problem with watching the Mets disintegrate like an ice cube in a blender.

Pearlman takes over from here:

During their club's 45 years of (largely mediocre) baseball, Mets fans have endured a lot. They've seen their first team lose 120 games. They've seen Tom Seaver traded for Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson and Dan Norman. They've seen Doug Sisk's sinker, and Lee Mazzilli's outfield defense, and John Pacella's ever-cascading cap.

They've seen Mets jerseys draped over the unworthy shoulders of George Foster, Gregg Jefferies, Vince Coleman and Bobby Bonilla. Just this past season they saw a listless, pride-starved club engage in the worst down-the-stretch collapse in the history of the sport.

Two things:
First, if you're really getting into the Met fan's POV, you have to mention the Dallas Green Mets. Those teams nearly killed my heart for baseball, in a way that even this season's self-immolation did not. Coleman and Bonilla were only the beginning. Eddie Murray, Carlos Baerga, Bret Saberhagen, and Anthony Young have to be included. Gregg Jeffries, on the other hand? He was a decent hitter (at least for his first six or seven years), and was at least OK defensively at four different positions. I'd rather have seen him than Baerga, who rarely walked and was a mild threat (at best) on base.

This was NOT the worst down-the-stretch collapse in baseball history. In fact, it's not even the worst collapse in MET history. Losing to the Cards in 2006 was arguably worse. The '06 Mets had superior production from six of the eight positions, a better starting staff, and a much more solid bullpen - and they lost to the Cards, a far worse team not only than them, but worse than the '07 Phillies. The '07 Mets, on the other hand, played .500 ball from June 1 on. They were giving away the division since BEFORE the All-Star Break; in fact, the Phils nearly caught them in early September. Only David Wright improved from '06 to last year; set against an off year from Jose Reyes, a sharp drop from Carlos Delgado, a normal crap year from Paul LoDuca, a small decline from Carlos Beltran... plus the weaker pitching and the injuries all over the place... let's just say that it wasn't a terrible surprise that they couldn't hold off Philadelphia. Even when they pushed the lead back up there was little relief.

So I would probably put them fourth, maybe fifth (California to Seattle in 1995 was pretty bad too). Then the '64 Phils, giving up practically the same lead (6½ games to 7) in far less time (only 10 games to 17) than the '07 Mets. Then there's the '06 Mets blowing the pennant, and on top of the list, the '04 Yanks spitting the bit when up 3-0 AND with a ninth-inning lead in game four against Boston in the ALCS.

In other words, Mets fans can handle a lot.
But can they handle Livan Hernandez?
OK, OK -- not Hernandez, per se. But what the portly right-hander stands for; what his potential free-agent signing (which appears likely) would stand for.

What he stands for? To me, he stands for a team unwilling to take a major chance to add a lockdown ace to the rotation. It IS rather difficult to handle, thank you.

If one pays attention to the New York-based sports radio stations or the New York-obsessed baseball bloggers, it's only a matter of time before Mets general manager Omar Minaya officially petitions MLB to rename his ballclub "El Equipo de Latinos" (The Team of Latins), replaces french fries with platanos (plantains) at Shea Stadium's concession stands, and insists Mr. Met don a sombrero.

OK, you're losing me. Nobody needs the English translations for Equipo de Latinos or platanos. I'm surprised he didn't put "(hat)" next to "sombrero."

I also love this whole Disparage the New Media thing. Let's pay attention to bloggers when they make utterly no sense, but when they argue baseball using statistical analysis and comparison - and make us look like curmudgeonly idiots - let's ignore them geeks! They're just bloggers! (Unless they prove our point, right?)

In his three-plus years as New York's GM, Minaya has earned rave reviews for his gutsy approach to building a team. He sees gold in other teams' manure (John Maine, Oliver Perez), life in the given-up-for-dead (Jose Valentin, Endy Chavez), and passion in the overlooked (Willie Randolph). When Minaya was hired, the Mets were coming off a dreadful 71-79 season. They haven't won fewer than 83 games since. Minaya is, without question, the organization's best general manager since Frank Cashen.

Agreed, except that Cashen helped build one of the best pitching staffs in baseball: Gooden, Darling, Ojeda, Fernandez, and Aguilera; with McDowell and Orosco from the pen. That's a team WHIP of 1.22 and ERA of 3.11.

Yet, despite the on-field success, an increasing number of Mets fans are griping about their team's continued (and apparently all-encompassing) determination to bring in as many Latin-American ballplayers as possible.

My theory is that they don't care about the Latino part of it... at least, the fans who love baseball don't care. The games two premier hitters are named Rodriguez and Pujols. The big catch of the current offseason is a pitcher named Santana. A dude named Cabrera was the centerpiece of the winter meetings' biggest trade. If the Mets were bringing any of those guys aboard, the fans would be pulling over on the BQE to randomly high-five each other.

Nearly five years ago, when Jose Reyes debuted as New York's spark plug of the future, fans were excited. When, nearly three years ago, the Mets added Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez, fans were elated.

OK, so you do see it.

When, however, Minaya added Perez and Chavez and Valentin and Ambiorix Burgos and Orlando Hernandez and Eli Marrero and Julio Franco and Ricky Ledee and Jose Lima and Sandy Alomar Jr. and Jorge Julio and Duaner Sanchez and Geremi Gonzalez and Miguel Cairo and Jorge Sosa and Ramon Castro and Luis Castillo and Jose Offerman and Carlos Delgado and Ruben Gotay and Guillermo Mota and Moises Alou and ... well, the bloom is off the rose.

Or not.

Let me ask you a question. Let's say that your team offered me Reyes, Beltran, and Martinez... and it would cost me every last player on the list above, from Perez to Alou. Who backs out of that trade first, me or you?

Let me give you a hint - right now, Oliver Perez and Ambiorix Burgos are the only guys on that list I'd hesitate over. Maybe also Duaner Sanchez if he's healthy. Delgado isn't going to suddenly hit 45 homers again, the year he turns 36... and I can pay his salary to other people. Castillo is replacement level, essentially, though he's a "name." Castro has already been replaced by Johnny Estrada. So what am I missing by giving up the family-size pu-pu platter for those three guys?

Unless you want to keep Pedro, and let me keep Perez and Burgos. Then I think you'd have a deal from my point of view.

Wrote one blogger: "I've been a Mets fan since I saw them win in '69 and I have to say, I've never seen such blatant racism in baseball in the last 40 years."

Wrote another: "Minaya needs to be careful about signing too many Latino players. He has to make sure that he is not overdoing it. Latin players are great, but he does show a tendency to give too many of them chances at the expense of white players and black players."

OK, so this is kooky. It's also not universal. And even then, are these guys racist, or do they think that Minaya is hurting his team by not bringing aboard talented non-latino players?

AND AGAIN - how about some attribution? Don't worry, dear leader - I have Google (so you don't have to!) and I found this page. If you read carefully you will see that two of the three of Pearlman's quoted sources are from this single page. The third is a comment here in Ted Robinson's online colum - and he neglects to mention that Robby D from Brooklyn made nine other points. (The one quoted was tenth of ten.) The other nine were about clubhouse discipline, the pitching staff, the bench, and other piddling baseball stuff.

Maybe Pearlman didn't attribute because he had no time, given the astonishing breadth and depth of his research.

For the record, I do not believe such sentiment to be true.

Neither do I. He did bring in LoDuca, Shawn Green, and Jeff Conine. He gave Mike Pelphrey and John Maine major roles, brought in Scott Schoenweis and Chan Ho Park (heheheheh). He recently dealt Milledge for Church and Schneider - decidedly non-latino players. The real problem is that, with the exception of Maine, none of these guys is what they actually need. Minaya's blind spot isn't race, it's pitching. He hasn't got enough of it. He's got a team of roto mashers and he needs to part with a little of that offensive depth to grab a good-to-great pitcher, not a washed up Livan Hernandez. (Or, for that matter, a washed-up anybody else.)

Yet oftentimes perception is stronger than reality. And in New York City, the perception of a Mets' Latino bias is strong. Really strong. Just listen to Mets fans gripe on WFAN. Or, for that matter, sit in the Shea Stadium stands and listen to the crowd when the announcer bellows, "Now pitching, Ambiorix Burgos ..."

At the end of last season, any pitching change was a cause for the faithful to commence watching the game through their fingers. (And Burgos is one of the guys I think they should keep.)

Why, just last week I attended a reception where one man, knowing I'd written a book about the Mets, approached me and said, "I still love the team, and Livan Hernandez wouldn't hurt. But how about adding an American or two?"

Well, Mr. One Man, Livan Hernandez would likely hurt quite a lot. His ERA is dead-average, he strikes out only 2 guys per walk, he hocks up a dinger once per nine innings, and puts 3 baserunners on every two innings - and do you want THIS bullpen trying to strand all of those baserunners? Why waste money on this guy when you can deal existing assets for a guy like Dan Haren?

As an unapologetic dyed-in-the-wool liberal, there's a part of me that feels the instinctive need to vehemently condemn such talk; to spout the ol' people-are-people, we-are-the-world, give-peace-a-chance mumbo jumbo. Yet, to be honest, I get it. Growing up in Mahopac, N.Y., I worshiped at the altar of Steve Ratzer and Ross Baumgarten -- Jewish ballplayers I could empathize with.

The operative word there is GROWING UP. When you were a kid. When you loved a player for no other reason than you loved him. When I was growing up in Lindenhurst, NY, I loved Bob Bourne and Wayne Merrick. But I knew darned well (even at nine) that it was Bossy, Trottier, Potvin, Smith, Gillies, and Tonelli who paid the bills. Bourne and Merrick weren't lousy or anything, but even fans realize that fan favorites aren't always the guys who win the games for you. I rooted for Chico Resch even after he went to Colorado - but I knew that the Isles had kept the right goalie.

For me, the bottom line isn't WHY Minaya hasn't upgraded the pitching. It's that he isn't doing it, reason be hanged. I mean, if he could grab Johan Santana, his alleged latino-crush wouldn't be an obstacle... it must be something else.

White Mets fans will support Livan Hernandez (even cherish him), but many of them will always -- always -- prefer a guy like Paul Lo Duca, the scrappy Italian boy with the swagger.

Can't stand Lo Duca. Had one good year with the stick, doesn't walk, hurt Milledge and Reyes with his poor attitude and "what, you called a strike on ME?!?!" mentality. Is now 36. Estrada is five years younger and half the cost, so even if he's no better a player it's a net gain.

Bottom line is that if Minaya brings in a front-line starter, the way he brought in Pedro in 2005, nobody will talk about this, or care one way or the other. People are grasping at straws to try to explain last season, when the more likely explanations make for boring columns. (Bob Klapisch, for example, makes some good sense here, but will people froth over it or fisk it?)

Vick in the Doghouse..

...for 23 months.

Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison Monday for his role in a dogfighting conspiracy that involved gambling and killing pit bulls.

The suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback could have been sentenced up to five years by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson. Vick, who turned himself in Nov. 19 in anticipation of his sentence, was wearing a black-and-white striped prison suit.

After Vick apologized to the court and his family, Hudson told him: "You need to apologize to the millions of young people who looked up to you."

"Yes, sir,' Vick answered.

You know you've screwed up when you've got me agreeing with the PETA people.

Let's throw this out. The guy's football career is over. Are the state charges double jeopardy, or at least beating a dead horse? (pun intended)

Friday, December 07, 2007

For Emily's birthday

Only in the world of the FFOT [language alert] can a malediction turn into heartfelt good wishes.

I'm prolly gonna get in trouble for this
Happy Birthday, Emily!

[Credit to Ricki for the phrase, one of her two gems of the week (the other being "brain donor").]

Wrecking the idiot curve

Once again, real life becomes its own satire.

This morning, while heading to work, I saw the following bumper sticker:


It's printed in white, on a black background - but the EVOL in "revolution" is printed in red, with a box around it, and in mirror text. In other words, "LOVE" (if you read it right-to-left). I only wish I could have snapped a pic with my cel phone in traffic. It was just beautifully insane on so many levels.

Ron Paul is LOVE! (Or, the inverse of LOVE, but you know.) The Constitution is his WORD! And his kingdom shall have no foreign entanglements!

teh randm sports collum

(No, I won't write it all in lolcat - kthx!)

* Everybody and his twin is suddenly picking the Steelers to beat the Patriots on Sunday. Need we remember that this is the same Pittsburgh team that lost to the Jets?

* Speaking of the Patriots and Jets - what are the odds that the Pats can win by 45 points, they way the Celtics beat the Knicks a couple weeks ago... 3 to 2? Pick-em?

* I saw a 2008 New York Mets page-a-day calendar in Target. Decided not to buy it, since I don't want to own something that totally goes to pieces after September 1.

* OK, so the Mets need a catcher and they trade for one, Johnny Estrada, for the bargain price of Guillermo Mota - the reliever who'd been suspended 50 games for the 'roids. Now they need... um... maybe a starting pitcher? And maybe they can has trade for Johan Santana, or Erik Bedard, or Dan Haren, who happen to be three of the American League's ten best pitchers. So they pull the trigger quick on their first choice - a mediocre, expensive catcher (Brian Schneider) and a fourth outfielder (Ryan Church) in exchange for Lastings Milledge.

Forget for the moment that they now have too many average-to-bad catchers on their roster, and that Milledge is a better outfielder than Church. Don't they need Milledge to help bring back one of those three pitchers? Is it that terribly hard to plan this out ahead of time?

* Islanders = NO SCORING. Urge to kill... rising...

* My own humble deck hockey team won its first playoff game 4-0, and will go for the t-shirts on Tuesday evening. Then we get to start a new season after the New Year. Sometimes I think that they should award sweatshirts in the winter, and t-shirts in the summer. Oh well.

(I had planned a few other odds and ends columns too, loosely organized around other broad topics. I will have a busy weekend, however - it's Mystery Science Night tomorrow, and there are many things I need to do in the real world. I'll still write them, I think, but it may be a few days. Expect me when you see me!)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Today is St. Nick's Feast Day

The real St. Nick.

Another reason to stay married

Because it helps the environment. Little did the Fly and Ladybug realise on that blessed Sunday last August that they were shrinking their carbon footprint.

It took four university researchers to figure out what an area trashman has known for years: Divorce hurts the environment.

Elijah Thorne, founder of Grayhound Trash Removal Inc. of Bladensburg, Md., has seen divorcing couples throw away everything from wedding pictures and dresses to perfectly good furniture and even mattresses.

"It generates a lot of trash when households break up," said Thorne, who got his first trash truck 35 years ago. "They throw away a lot of stuff. Good and bad."

The authors of a study published last week in the journal Nature reached the same conclusion.
"By getting divorced you could have more impact on the environment," said Jianguo "Jack" Liu, a Michigan State University professor and co-author of the article.

Divorce not only generates more waste in the short-term, but also down the road: Along with shrinking fertility rates, longer life spans and higher incomes, divorce is contributing to a worldwide trend toward a greater number of smaller households, the report said.

Yes guys, it's better for the earth to hug your wife than to hug a tree. If you won't stay together for the mother of your children, at least do it for Mother Earth.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bart Simpson was half right

It turns out that TV Guide also sucks.

Dig that Pauley Perrette, they say: a tattooed "non-goth" who nonetheless wears Doc Martens and dyes her hair black; and, like, totally doesn't make lots of friends (since most crimes are committed by people the victim knows), and is in a band. The band is "also a complete rebellion against those ridiculous social-networking Internet sites." [Her words this time.]

Well, bless her stereotype-destroying heart.

You might not believe this, but my snark isn't directed against Ms. Perrette. I couldn't care less that she dresses how she pleases, or that she's picky about friends, or is in a rock band, or believes that the Internet is mostly crap. She says she's happy, and that's the main thing, so I don't give a rat's patoot if she partially fits some half-assed template people use in leiu of their brains. No, my snark is square dead-against the preposterous TV Guide article. Why are they telling me that Ms. Perrette defies stereotypes, as if that was the only reason to read about her? Would she somehow be less interesting if she wore Buster Browns and a blouse from LL Bean? If she secretly dug sudoku, it wouldn't make her acting suck. So why should it be desirable to pitch this story as "She defies stereotypes!" instead of simply describing her likes and interests without any sort of pre-judgment at all? Let us make up our own minds.

Besides, at this point "defying stereotypes" is itself such a dumb cliché that it's meaningless. Why should anyone defy a stereotype?

Seems like there's two reasons. One is a very good reason - the stereotype is overwhelmingly negative or stifling, such as (off the top of my head) "Minorities are latent criminals." That's a stereotype. More importantly, it's dumb-ass racist shlock, and the sort of thing that no intelligent person ought to fall for, ever. But even so... should a young minority teenager decide to be a lawful citizen only because some idiots don't expect him to? Is "Surprise morons!" the only good thing we can say about being a decent human being?

Then there's the second, incredibly foolish reason: the lamebrained concept that it's more "real" to intentionally make one's choices against what other people think. Oh, so you say that all chess players are nerdy? Well, I'm going to the Bruce Springsteen concert, so there! Well... what if, deep down, you like chess AND poetry? What if you far prefer Chopin to American Idol? Are you going to ignore certain things you enjoy just because some people assume that you enjoy them? That sounds kinda dumb. In fact, it sounds exactly like the end of thinking for yourself. You won't be happier that way, and I guarantee that the stereotypes will hum along undeterred by your bold stand.

So, the bad reason isn't really a reason at all, and may well lead people away from their natural interests and strengths; and the good reason turns out to be unnecessary, since it would exist even if the stereotype didn't. It's a great idea to be a lawful citizen, no matter who you are, no matter where you're from. It's a good idea to like what you honestly enjoy, and enjoy whatever friends you honestly make, even if other people dismiss you for it. If the only things others can dislike about you are their own miserable pre-conceptions, then phooey on them.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Stupendous! Amazing!

It's a water cooler - and it's on time! Thrills galore!

It was certainly a slam-bang ending... I found it more quick-paced than last volume, and of course there was more of a punch involved, emotionally. That being said, I am sorely disappointed in the following people/things:

1. EMO-HINDER. You flippin' tool. In the immortal words of Crow T Robot, "There goes a stupid, stupid man." You knew Sylar was waiting in your apartment with a nine-year-old hostage and you just walked in with no plan? Do you know how impossibly dumb that was?
2. HRG. What's your new super-duper, double-secret-probation plan for volume three? You know, it doesn't even have to be different from the last plan, which only failed because Emo-hinder was prominently involved. Just pick someone less tool-like. Or maybe you could take over the company and direct it to noble ends, like you did in the ""five years later" episode from volume one. I always liked that idea.
3. "I'm back." Geez, Gabe. Ouch². That is a terrible line, especially for a super-evil, manipulative genius. Did your writers go on strike or something? BUT - that being said, nice touch with the spinach can. He's strongs to the finichk, and all that. I guess it's like some zen yin-yang thing... the subtlety of the image with the braying obviousness of the line. Or maybe somebody was afraid we wouldn't get it unless he said something? Suits ruin everything.
4. I am very sad for Niki. I am also sad that HRG has apparently whacked Nathan.
5. I have two personal rules for my stories. A- no time traveling. B- nobody comes back from the dead. These are really just guidelines in order to ensure that I don't cheat by letting characters hit the Reset Button. This show, of course, features a main character whose entire thing is breaking rule A, but in a way that never lets the character cheat by just going back in time and "fixing it." In fact, Hiro's dad told him not to. So, OK, I'll let them skate on #A. (Yeah, yeah... you know what I mean.) But with the magic healing blood thing, they are dangerously close to blowing rule B. Not happy times. This volume hit enough Reset Buttons without that.
6. Peter, Peter, Peter. It took some doing, didn't it - but thanks. BTW... I hope that powdered variety 138 doesn't wind up destroying all life on earth or anything. And while I'm pondering - why didn't you ever try to read Adam's mind to find out if he was on the level? If you're strong enough to out-Park Parkman, you couldn't figure it out without your brother's impassioned speech?

Oh, and one thing I loved: stone-cold Hiro Nakamura. Day-ummmmm.

Now, my lovely bride has a running joke, and it's quite true - four women will leave a movie and talk all about how they loved the costumes, and that person was totally believable, and wasn't it so sad when x and y and z, and that was great, and didn't you just die when.... and so on. Four men will leave a movie and say "I didn't buy that, this guy was a jerk, I can't believe nobody thought of THIS, it dragged toward the middle, and how did x and y happen in between w and z?" They are talking about the SAME MOVIE. Both groups LOVED IT. This drives Ladybug up the wall, across the ceiling, and out onto the balcony. Can't figure it out and can't stand it.

Well, consider the above my guy way of saying that, flaws and all, I did enjoy the finale. And holy cow, that cat Hiro is a bad motha-