29 February 2008

Leaping Burst of Blogginess, Part 5

(Carl Lewis, one of the greatest Leapers of all time, not one of the greatest singers, though)

Leaping Burst of Blogginess, Part 4

Speaking of leaping, let's talk platform jumpers. That genre of videogames, that started with Donkey Kong, and continues today (albeit greatly changed) with titles like Super Mario Galaxy (both designed by legendary Shigeru Miyamoto), is one that has been popular throughout the videogame era, and has been dominated by Japanese designers and publishers.

Two of my personal favorite games within the genre aren't Japanese, though. Pitfall! was a game that I wasted many an hour on in my youth. It was a great 'leap' forward in gameplay (and during that leap, you should be doing the 'tarzan' holler) on the Atari 2600 and seemed much deeper than other games on the system (though playing now it seems awfully simple).

The Lost Vikings was another platform game that I really enjoyed. The puzzle element to this game added a depth to the gameplay, having three characters, each with unique abilities that you had to exploit to solve each level, made for a much more engaging game and breathed new life into this genre at the end of the 2D side-scrolling era.

But the two main stars of this genre are Mario, and Sonic. Mario was there from the beginning, and he'll probably pop up in some shape or form for as long as Nintendo is in business. Mario is the man. Sonic isn't the man, he's the hedgehog (with attitude). Sonic introduced a feeling of urgency and speed that the Mario games of that era lacked. The freneticism of Sonic was a huge selling point, and made playing sessions into hand-sweaty, heart-pounding fun. Barely contained chaos, just on the verge of losing complete control is the feeling gotten from playing the better Sonic games.

(and the less said about any subsidiary media uses of Mario or Sonic, the better, but if you must, enjoy these behind the scenes clips the live action Mario movie

Leaping Burst of Blogginess, Part 3

I'm going to reprint (without permission), today's easy items from the February 29th entry in Ken Jennings's Trivia Almanac (easy only, buy the book if you want to see the medium and hard items for February 29th). These questions illustrate how the book is put together. After quoting a fact or event surrounding a particular calendar date. Ken devises a set of questions that plays off of that theme. To set up February 29th's easy questions Ken makes mention of the first use in 45BC of a Leap Day in the Julian Calendar (though it was on February 24th, and it lasted 48 hours instead of the standard 24).

Answers are in "INVISO-TEXT" at the end of this post.


1. Who ordered the disastrous "Great Leap Forward" in 1958?
2. What did Scott Bakula typically say after "leaping" into a new host on TV's Quantum Leap?
3. In 1991, who finally broke Bob Beamon's decades-old long jump record?
4. What kind of fixed-object parachute jumping takes its name from the four categories of such jumps?
5. What is a whale's leap out of the water called?
6. What video game character was originally given the name Jumpman? (XWL's note: and no, the answer is not "Jumpman", even though that was a pretty good game, back in the day, and beware, the answer to Ken's question is found at the link)
7. Mark Twain's "Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" was named for what famous orator?
8. One Giant Leap was the first biography ever written of whom?
9. What state motto of Virginia shout as he jumped fromLincoln's box to the stage of Fords' Theatre?
10. The "leap from the lion's head" is the final challenge in what 1989 movie?

Highlight below for answers

1. Mao Tse-tung (XWL's note, part II: though I prefer to call him Mousie Dung)
2. "Oh, boy"
3. Mike Powell
4. BASE jumping (building, antenna, span, earth)
5. Breaching or lunging
6. Mario
7. Daniel Webster
8. Neil Armstrong
9. "Sic semper tyrannis"
10. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Highlight above for answers

Leaping Burst of Blogginess, Part 2

Building off the previous Leaping Burst of Blogginess post, I thought I'd explore the Newton heresy a bit further.

The idea of taking away Leap Days all together, and instead instituting a Leap mini-month (named Newton) is actually intriguing and makes eminent sense.

I love the complexity of the system envisioned to 'simplify' things.

They take things even further than having a single calendar for the days of the week, year after year (with a special mini-month thrown in to keep the seasons from drifting too far off the normal dates), they also want a single time around the world. They want everyone everywhere to refer to UTC as local time, thus eliminating 'local time' as a concept. They want people to stop thinking of sunrise or sunset as being near a certain clocktime, and instead think of clocktime as a measure of the rotation of the planet at a specific longitude and not make any local adjustments.

A "9-5" job in London would be a "0900-1700" job, but in NYC, it would be "0400-1200", and in Los Angeles it would be "0100-0900". You'd never have to adjust your watch during a flight again, and you'd always know what time it was if you were calling overseas (though you might forget what the status of the sun would be, and whether or not it is normal waking or sleeping times for that timezone).

All these 'reforms' make perfect sense to an engineer or physicist, but to most everyone else, they seem downright kooky.

It's funny how illogical logic can seem when applied in a manner that refuses to recognize human nature and past customs.

(and calling this 'reform' a 'heresy' is meant as a joke, as a matter of fact, they assure everyone on their website that they keep to a seven day week, so as not to violate the 4th Commandment)

Leaping Burst of Blogginess, Part 1

It's a Leap Day burst of blogginess today.

First a round-up of MSM style 'let's find an angle on Leap Day that hasn't quite been beaten into the ground just yet' articles.

This BBC article attempts to convince readers that Leap Day should be a paid holiday in the workforce as employees are getting shafted, and employers are getting extra work hours. But that only makes sense if you are paid yearly/monthly, if you are paid by the week, or hour, then a week is a week, and an hour is an hour, regardless of whether the calendar reads March 1st or February 29th on a certain day. I would reckon that far fewer people are paid annually, than otherwise, so if those few people who are on annual wages want to play hooky today, then go for it.

The NYT is far too serious of a paper and institution to waste their time on petty trivialities like Leap Day.

The NYPost has no such qualms, and they have a rather prescient piece by John Crudele warning investors to beware of February 29th. Don't know if he expected a 300+ point downturn in the Dow today, but if you sold your entire portfolio on Thursday just before the closing bell, and then re-bought all the same stocks at closing bell today, you'd probably have made a pretty decent profit (not that you should ever use the market in such a short term way, anyway).

The LA Times opinion section digs through its own archives to highlight past attitudes regarding an old semi-tradition of Leap Day being the one time it was permissible for women to propose to men. In 1908 they were against it, but by the time it rolled around again in 1912, they were for it.

Washington Post assigns Monica Hesse the job of coming up with something to write about the particulars of Leap Day. She digs up Dick Henry for a blurb about calendar reform, and then quickly dismisses his heresy. I won't do that, instead I'll link to his heresy. Judging from his web pages, I'll suggest that Prof. Henry is probably what many would describe as 'a character'.

26 February 2008

"Hey, when I walk, do my genitals wink at you?"

Always a question to ask before you go out, rather than after. A lesson from the Fug Girls for Diablo Cody.

(Unless she plans on reviving her previous career as an ecdysiast, in which case, using her Oscar as a prop might earn her top dollar on the touring circuit)

25 February 2008

Doing the (Acting) Jobs Americans Aren't Willing to (Act) Do

It was a sweep by European born actors during this year's Academy Awards. Almost inevitable that foreign actors were going to do well, given that out of the nine actresses nominated, only Laura Linney, Ruby Dee, and Amy Ryan were born in the United States (and two of them were born in NYC, so that hardly counts as the USA). It was a little trickier for the men, the only non-Americans nominated were the two winners, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Javier Bardem, along with English born (though frequently cast as a patrician New Englander type) Tom Wilkinson.

Perusing the list, there would seem to be a pretty consistent trend of more foreign born women being nominated most years compared to the men.

Let's breakdown the past ten ceremonies to see if there's a trend or not:

For Best Actor/Actress (foreign/total ratio, and yes for our purposes, Canada counts as foreign, but Puerto Rico counts as American) roles:

2007: (M)1/5 (F)4/5
2006: (M)1/5 (F)4/5
2005: (M)1/5 (F)3/5
2004: (M)0/5 (F)3/5
2003: (M)2/5 (F)4/5
2002: (M)2/5 (F)2/5
2001: (M)2/5 (F)2/5
2000: (M)3/5 (F)1/5
1999: (M)1/5 (F)1/5
1998: (M)1/5 (F)3/5

There's only one year where the number of foreign born men exceeded the number of foreign born women, and the cumulative total is (M)14 versus (F)27.

What about supporting actor/actress?

2007: (M)2/5 (F)3/5
2006: (M)1/5 (F)3/5
2005: (M)0/5 (F)1/5
2004: (M)1/5 (F)2/5
2003: (M)2/5 (F)1/5
2002: (M)0/5 (F)1/5
2001: (M)3/5 (F)3/5
2000: (M)1/5 (F)1/5
1999: (M)2/5 (F)1/5
1998: (M)1/5 (F)4/5

The trend continues on to supporting actors/actresses, only two years where the foreign born women exceed the foreign born men, and the cumulative totals are (M)13 (F)20.

The only conclusion one can draw, is that American actresses aren't very good.

(OK, maybe that's not the only conclusion . . ., also, women in period pieces tend to get honored more often than men in period pieces, and period piece=British actress getting the job usually, period costumes raise the appreciation of a woman's performance several notches for some reason)

Even Kareem Is Gushing About the Lakers . . .

. . . OK, maybe not all that surprising, given he's a special assistant to Phil Jackson working for the Lakers, but, generally coaches (or assistants) don't like to gush too glowingly about their own team.

Plus this is the first post where Kareem talks about the Lakers, so thought I'd link to it, not that you shouldn't have already read his other posts, too (especially this one about MMA and Bruce Lee).

24 February 2008

Everyone Knows Elephants Love Them Some Peanuts, How is This Headline News???

Jumbo's fuelled by nuts... , the Drudge link says it all. Visual evidence of elephants loving themselves some nuts below.

Wait, wrong kind of Jumbo? And we aren't talking about nuts so much as biofuel? Oh, well, I like my story better. Biofuels made from foodstocks rather than waste cellulose is one of the primary reasons (along with higher oil prices) for this other Drudge headline, EAT UP: Shoppers warned bigger food bills on way...

Lakers Chat, Part Quite Giddy and Possibly Deluded

Can the Lakers win out? Mike Dunleavy, coach of the Clippers, said the Lakers might not lose again this season. The way they are playing right now, you'd have to think it's possible. Still not probable, but it's really possible given their recent performance. Adding in the seven in a row streak they're working on, they'd end the season with a 34 game win streak, which would be one game better than the 71-72 Lakers' 33 game streak. It probably won't happen, they probably won't even come close, but 22-5 isn't out of the question over the rest of the season. If it wasn't for that little hiccup in Atlanta, the Lakers would be threatening to be the first team since the Spurs in March of '96 to have an undefeated month (the Bulls also managed to go undefeated in January '96). It looks like Houston will match that feat this month (they are 10-0 this month with home games against Chicago, Washington and Memphis left), but the Lakers could still do it in March (not likely given, though).

Everything is clicking for this team and if they go undefeated through the next three weeks, that wouldn't be that shocking. They have a four game road trip from March 14th to March 20th that sees them visiting New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, and Utah. That's the last major roadblock this team faces, with 27 games remaining and currently sitting atop the Western Conference with a record of 38-17, the Lakers right now would be disappointed if they "only" win 55 games, and have a realistic shot at getting to 60 wins.

That's assuming Kobe's damaged pinky doesn't fall off completely, Gasol or Odom don't get hurt, and when Bynum starts working his way back into the line-up, he doesn't upset the chemistry that's going on right now.

Who'd of thunk back after their game on December 30th when the Celtics beat the Lakers (the infamous 'short shorts' game) to get to 26-3 (eventually making it to 29-3), and the Lakers were sitting at 19-11 that it would be the Celtics who look less likely to make it to the finals.

23 February 2008

Expensive Crash

A B2 crashed in Guam today. Luckily both pilots ejected safely without major injuries (one evaluated and released, the other in hospital and stable, according to AP), and the B2 that crashed in Guam this week wasn't loaded with any munitions, and didnt' hit anything on the ground, but damn $1.2B worth of wreckage. Ouch.

Looking at the CIA World Factbook, if that $1.2B were a nation's GDP, then that one plane would slot somewhere between the 193rd largest economy in the world (Samoa), and the 194th (Antigua and Barbuda). Hopefully whatever caused this crash was a very unusual circumstance that won't be easily replicated, these bombers are getting a lot of use, fly a lot of miles, and drop a lot of bombs, plus they look, really, really cool. Hate to see the whole fleet grounded for any amount of time. If it was pilot error, though, that'd be worse, hard to live down taking out a piece of equipment worth $1.2B over some avoidable mistake. These are well trained crews, doubt it was pilot error, or related to maintenance, most likely it was one of these guys (see below)

(if they can get the better of Bugs, they can do just about anything . . .)

Things I Learned From News of the World . . .

. . . attracted to News of the World by this Drudge headline, PURPLE PAIN: PRINCE TO HAVE HIP REPLACEMENT..., I don't think this is something that will be that unusual for people in their late 40s, early 50s, or especially their 60s.

Used to be you'd have to suck it up, live with the pain, and slow down your lifestyle. But the replacement joints are getting better, and once the healing is done, the new joint is better than the old one, but as mentioned in the article, is more susceptible to displacement with certain kinds of movement. Given that Boomers are going to be needing these hips in large amounts over the next decade, I bet they'll come up with a hip that not only eliminates the pain, as is the case now, but let's you return to all sorts of vigorous activity after recovery, as well.

Also in News of the World, two stories that happened just down the street from me. The Independent Spirit Awards were held in a marquee on the beach in Santa Monica, as they put it in their article. First time I ever came across the word "marquee" used in that way. Here I was calling the big white thing they set up for that event a tent all these years, when I could have been calling it a marquee. So much more sophisticated to call it a marquee, I won't make the mistake of calling it a tent again. Looks like it was a good day for Juno, probably doesn't mean Juno will do well at the Oscars tomorrow night, though.

The other event that happened this morning in Santa Monica was the handing out of the Razzies. They're not held in a marquee, but instead they are held at MAGICOPOLIS!!! (I added in the !!!, it's just Magicopolis, normally, but it sounds more impressive if you call it MAGICOLOPLIS!!!, why the Razzies are held there in particular is something I don't have the answer for). Lindsay Lohan tied (with herself) for Worst Actress, while Eddie Murphy garnered 'honors' for Worst Actor, Worst Supporting Actor, as well as Worst Supporting Actress. I doubt anyone else will ever be so 'honored' for a single film again, Norbit was a true achievement in the annals of bad acting.

21 February 2008

I'm Leftier Than You, (Response) Am Not, (Counter-Response), Am Too . . .

Just take the formula indicated in this post's title, rinse and repeat, and you have my impression of tonight's CNN/Univision Texas Democratic Primary debate.

If either of these folks gets elected in November, this country will get what it deserves, they've clearly outlined how they'll ruin our economy, weaken our standing abroad, and return us back to the glory years of the mid-70s. They're both trying to portary themselves as a mix of McGovern and Carter, and it's playing well to all the folks at the debate in Austin.

Woohoo stagflation, woohoo malaise, woohoo an executive branch antagonistic with our military.

Sounds like good, good times.

McCain's not perfect, but he'd be a whole hell of a lot better than either of these two jokers.

Also, seems like Sen. Clinton is unwilling to do what it would take to win in either Texas or Ohio, tonight is her chance to really go after Sen. Obama, and so far, she really hasn't made any dent in his appeal (to other Democrats, both are doing damage to their appeal to Independents and Republicans, I think). Her attacks are mostly at the policy wonk level, and that won't be enough, if she wants to win, she needs to engender real questions about Sen. Obama's ability and character. She's got to get dirty, and rough, and throw some elbows, or else all is lost for her.

Truthfully, though, even if she does all that, all is lost, she'll turn off too many primary voters with those tactics, her only hope is that something really bad is dug up on Sen. Obama between now and March 4th.

20 February 2008

Lakers Chat, Part XXIV+XXXII (The Prodigal Sun Returns . . .)

Tonight's showdown between the Pacific Division leading Phoenix Suns and the team just one game behind them, the Los Angeles Lakers, is shaping up to be one of the most hyped regular season games in recent memory.

It helps that the Lakers have been playing very well lately. Last night they avenged their last loss (95-98 in Atlanta), by building a 41 point lead (!) in the 2nd quarter versus the new look Hawks. One play exemplifies what the Lakers were about last night, the Lakers were already up 28-66 after two Odom free throws with 57 seconds left in the quarter, but Kobe and Radmanovic trap Acie Law, strip him of the ball, and Radmanovic gets an easy lay-up plus he's fouled with a chance to make it a 69-28 game with 53 seconds to go in the 2nd quarter. How many teams would trap while up 38 points? How many injured superstars would be taking swipes at the ball with his bad hand in a game his team was leading by 38 points? The Lakers weren't just playing Atlanta last night, they were sending a message that not only do they have one of the best offenses in the league (even without Bynum), but that they were ready to bring playoff level defensive intensity to their play the rest of the season. Before last night, Phil Jackson was saying the Lakers need to go 25-5 in their last 30 games if they want to win the Western Conference. They're off to a pretty good start in that direction.

Tonight's game would be important just for the implications within the division, if the Lakers win, they take the season series 3-1 against Phoenix, and that's the first tie-breaker should they finish the season tied, so in essence this one game is worth 2 victories for either team.

But, that's not all that's going on tonight, this game also happens to be Shaq's debut with the Phoenix Suns. ESPN is in full hype mode, with a big roundtable discussion on the game, the state of the Lakers and Suns, and the Western Conference in general. ESPN must be thrilled that this game was already on their schedule tonight. It ought to get a pretty decent rating for an NBA game in February. Normally this isn't a time anyone is paying too close attention to the NBA, but this game could be pretty special. What else are you going to watch tonight, anyway, American Idol? (that show is best watched with a DVR remote in hand, anyway, watch the game live, and watch Idol afterwards)

And I know the whole Prodigal Sun thing really doesn't make sense, since Shaq isn't actually returning to LA as the game is in Phoenix, but couldn't pass up the pun (even if it's weak).

19 February 2008

Now That the Format Wars are Over . . .

. . . Toshiba has cried uncle, and Sony has won, they didn't get Betamaxed this time, largely in part (I think), to their huge gamble in using Blu-Ray as the disc format for the PS3.

When that move was first announced, most industry watchers thought that was a mistake, drove the price up too high, and would limit their game system to too few homes to make a profit. But now it looks like a brilliant move, and they might even start getting licensing money from Microsoft if they come out with an add-on Blu-Ray player for the XBox360 later in the year (as some are expecting them to do).

From a consumer standpoint, it really doesn't matter, if you don't have an HDTV, then it definitely doesn't matter, and even if you do, unless it's bigger than 42 inches, the difference in picture quality between a good DVD upsampling player and true 1080p HD isn't something that a lot of consumers will pay much attention to.

Most people aren't going to rebuy all the DVDs they've collected over the years, and for most films rebuying would be kind of silly.

But certain films do look stunning in Blu-Ray, action pictures, epics, and Pixar stuff looks best on the format. Great films that are more story driven, it won't matter. Your enjoyment of Office Space won't be improved if they ever come out with a Blu-Ray version. All those Criterion collection black and white foreign pictures are going to look better if they ever bother coming out with new Blu-Ray versions, but the difference won't be enough to bother picking up another copy of 400 Blows or Rashomon (OK, maybe Rashomon, if they use a really, really, really pristine print for the transfer, and you have an HDTV that handles contrast well).

The studios will probably start releasing back catalog stuff on Blu-Ray by this fall. In the meantime, if you've recently made the jump to Blu-Ray, or plan on doing it soon, do yourself a favor and pick up that Blade Runner boxset, Kung Fu Hustle, Paprika, T2, and The Wild Bunch.

That should be enough to blow your socks off and have you panting for more.

Paul Volcker Could Not be Reached for Comment . . .

Chinese inflation hit an 11-year high in January after rising price pressures were exaggerated by fierce snow storms, official figures show.

(I think China is more likely to suffer from stagflation than the United States, so long as we elect a candidate who has Volcker acolytes as economic advisors, and actually listens to them)

Todd Haynes Could Not be Reached for Comment . . .

Fans of The Carpenters are objecting to plans to have pop duo's former family home knocked down.

and local video coverage from KCBS/KCAL

(for those not hip to the reference, here's the wiki on Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story)

The Geico Spokes-Lizard Could Not be Reached for Comment . . .

The gecko lizard has helped inspire scientists in Massachusetts to develop a waterproof adhesive bandage for surgical wounds and internal injuries.

Kermit the Frog Could Not be Reached for Comment . . .

A 70-million-year-old fossil of a giant frog has been unearthed in Madagascar by a team of UK and US scientists.

The Obama, Quasi-Daily Word(s) of Inspiration . . . (2008 FEB 19)

(original here)

Amy Winehouse Could Not be Reached for Comment . . .

NHS dentistry is being set back 20 years and patients can expect to have more teeth taken out rather than fixed, dentists claim.

Ling Ling Could Not be Reached for Comment . . .

The video is pretty graphic. Qing Qing and Ha Lei tangle and slither about awkwardly on the floor of their panda enclosure.

Sir Mix-A-Lot Could Not be Reached for Comment . . .

A national dance craze in Ivory Coast has spawned a black market in treatments claiming to increase one's bottom size.

The 2008 Award Winner for Cephalorectal Briton Goes to James Robbins of the BBC for His Hagiography of Fidel Castro

To Fidel, don't let the door smack your ass on your way out. To Raul, your time is almost up, too. To Cuba, as long as you let a Castro sit atop your government, you won't be free. To James Robbins of the BBC, what the hell are you thinking?

That murderous thug has done more to spread misery than few others over the past 50 years, yet you give him a send-off worthy of Thatcher, or Reagan, or Havel. Disgust doesn't even begin to describe my reaction to the words you spew during your video tribute to Fidel.

What's wrong with you gits at the Beeb?

Is it just that you guys hate the USA so much, that any enemy of the USA equals a friend to the Beeb?

Also, I know it may seem odd to be giving out year-end awards in mid-February, but certain statements are so unlikely as to be topped, that I feel safe in handing out the hardware a bit early.

18 February 2008

The 2008 Award for Sports Columnist with His/Her Head Shoved Farthest Up Their Own Rectum Goes To . . .

. . . Bernie Lincicome of the Rocky Mountain News for his article regarding the NBA All Star Weekend (h/t True Hoop)

An excerpt:

Watching Utah's Deron Williams dribbling around the motionless NBA props in one of those ceaseless All-Star gimmick stunts, it was eerily like he was again dribbling around the Nuggets defense.

Otherwise, nothing that happened at the NBA All-Star extended weekend in New Orleans, including the game itself, had much to do with basketball.

It had to do with preening and posing and showing off, and not showing off for the fans or for the event, which would be somewhat forgivable, but for the most dreary of male motives, for each other.

The affair encourages this kind of peacock flash and flaunt, or to use the official judging criteria, "artistic ability, imagination, body flow and fan response," reducing basketball to figure skating, or at least to one of Allen Iverson's drives to the basket.

The next time, for example, anyone blows out a candle on a cupcake while dunking the basketball, as Minnesota's Gerald Green did, it had better be somebody's birthday and it better be James Naismith's.

And I suppose if Orlando's Dwight Howard, who won the slam dunk thing, can dress up as Superman, he ought to at least have to outrun a speeding locomotive, or jump over the tall building in a single bound, rather than just a small space inside of it.

First of all, the Slam Dunk competition was the first exciting Slam Dunk competition in recent memory, it was an amazing spectacle that will live on dazzling YouTube viewers for ages to come. Second of all, the game itself after some goofing at the start (as is usual for this contest), turned into a real game where the players cared who won.

I think Bernie is just getting his bitterness regarding the NBA out of the way early in anticipation of a disappointing 1st round exit by the Nuggets in the certain to be ultra-competitive Western Conference playoffs. Cheer up Bernie, maybe the Nuggets will miss the playoffs entirely and get lucky in the lottery.

When you look at the Nuggets roster, you figure them for being a top 5 team in the league, but their performance on a nightly basis hasn't matched that talent. There's something wrong with that team, don't know if it's Melo's mellowness, Iverson's moodiness, or Karl's can't-coachiness, but they look like the best candidate for really good team that manages to slip out of the top eight in the Western Conference during the month of March.

Of course, the NBA should just let the 16 teams with the best record in the playoffs (leave off the specifics for a different post), regardless of conference, that way you won't have a 50 win team miss the playoffs in the West, while a team 10 games below .500 make the playoffs in the East (both could happen this year).

15 February 2008

The Obama, Daily Word(s) of Inspiration . . . (2008 FEB 15)

(original, here)

I Concur . . .

John Hollinger at the ESPN Insider's Blog has this suggestion for Kobe . . .
I have some unsolicited advice for Kobe Bryant: Get the surgery.

If you want to win a championship, it's your only option.

Don't be a hero and try to play with your injured right pinkie. While I admire your willingness to play hurt, I saw you try to play with the bad digit in Atlanta last week and you were as ineffective as I've ever seen you: 4-of-16 from the field, 3-of-5 from the line, for just 11 points. If you do that for the next six-to-eight weeks, you might help the Lakers win a few more games than they would have otherwise. But there's no way you're leading a team to the promised land in that condition.

Looking at the schedule, if he was out for six weeks after getting the surgery this weekend, he'd probably miss 22 out of the Lakers last 30 games. The Lakers have a pretty favorable schedule over that stretch, plus towards the end they should get back Bynum and Ariza. If they went 10-12 in those games, and 6-2 in the remaining 8 games with Kobe back, that'd give them a 51-31 record going into the playoffs. In the highly competitive Western Conference, that'd probably end up giving them the 6th or 7th seed, but with all their players healthy, they could overcome not having the homecourt, even against Dallas, New Orleans, Utah, San Antonio or Phoenix. It'd make their trip through the playoffs difficult, but trying to play with a less effective Kobe would be worse than losing one home game each round.

Add to that his desire to play in the Olympics, if he does that, he wouldn't get his surgery till late September, which means he'd end up missing the first 2 weeks or so of next season, and it seems like each game he plays with this injury is another chance to make it worse, and put himself in a position to miss 3-6 months instead of 6 weeks (but, maybe that's not the case, or the doctors would be more insistent that he get surgery immediately).

His fire as a competitor is amazing, his ability to play through pain already legendary in the league, but the Lakers should be able to hold on for a playoff spot in his absence, and if he's 100% from late March on, then the Lakers would once again be one of the favorite teams to win the Western Conference, and he'd be a near lock to be the Olympic MVP of Team USA's gold medal winning team.

He puts all that in jeopardy by playing, he might win this gamble, but he might lose big, too.

And Really, Who Could Object to Such a Modest Proposal . . .

Last week, an intriguing proposition was mooted by Government minister Dawn Primarolo.

Teenage girls, she said, could be steered towards what is described as "long-term contraception".

This is now possible thanks to the development of contraceptive jabs and implants which can last up to five years.

In other words, there is a way of effectively sterilising girls for a lengthy period of time.

At what age? Well, doesn't 12 until 17 sound rather sensible?

This would have the advantage of bringing down the teenage pregnancy rate, so high in this country it makes us a disgrace among the nations - the worst offenders in Europe.

The abortion rate would fall sharply. And silly young girls could get on with the education that is meant to produce serious, responsible taxpayers, not benefit recipients.

Now, many people will see this modest proposal as little short of horrific - nothing less than state interference in our reproductive lives.

But think about it: it might not be such a bad idea.

. . . and the ones who reject the injections, and refuse to abort, well there was that other Modest Proposal on how to handle too numerous, yet nevertheless highly succulent, undesirable offspring.

13 February 2008

What Drew Me Downtown Last Sunday . . .

DSC00080 altered

That's the view from my place in line waiting to get into the Geffen Contemporary for an Art Talk by Takashi Murakami on the last Sunday of his big ©MURAKAMI show.

The art was great, unfortunately, they had a big fat "no photography or video" sign and lots and lots of security inside, so I wasn't able to take copious pictures of the exhibit.

His work is hard to describe, but think Heironymus Bosch + Walt Disney + Satoshi Kon and you might begin to approach an idea of what his work is like.

MOCA put up a bunch of YouTube videos of Murakami discussing his works that were on exhibit (parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight), just to warn you some are NSFW in a purely artistic (and very Japanese) sort of way, I recommend watching all of them. He has begun dabbling in animation as well

Above is a piece commissioned by Louis Vuitton, directed by Mamoru Hosoda using Takashi Murakami's art, design and input. Louis Vuitton had a presence at the show, too. Not only did they exhibit the bags Murakami designed for their company, but they were available for purchase as well (I'd say 'on sale' but when most of the bags cost over $3,000 and I heard one of the bags on display was an ultra-rare bag that costs $500,000, 'sale' seems like the wrong word).

Unfortunately, LA was the only stop for this show, and looks like the rest of his major exhibitions are all back in Japan. The response here was incredible, as you can tell from the above picture, the museum was packed. According to the curator, this show was the best attended show of a living artist in Los Angeles history. The show was a treat, the art talk was a huge dissapointment, unfortunately. Murakami doesn't speak English well, but he decided to speak in English for this talk, which was fine, his accent wasn't impenetrable, the problem was with the acoustics of the place they held the event. I don't think they expected more than 400 people showing up for the event, so they held the talk in a large room, and didn't have enough speakers to allow everyone to hear him clearly. Plus the sound bounced all over the place, so on top of his accent, you also had to deal with echoes, made understanding what he had to say very frustrating.

Still glad I went, just wish I could have understood more of what he had to say.

And if Murakami ever follows Disney into the amusement park business, I'll be first in line to check out Murakamiland.

Under Construction

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"A different focus: although it has a sophisticated combat system, unlike other MMORPGs combat need not be a primary objective for players"

A new MMORPG (massively mulit-player online role playing game) is going to be coming to a computer near you fairly soon. It will be free to play, and most importantly, this game, with its "sophisticated combat system", why it's HELLO KITTY ONLINE, of course.


For those that choose to make the combat system their primary objective, I can imagine the conversation now, "yeah, I just levelled my character and I can't decide if I want to follow the experience tree that yields the candy cane rocket launcher for long distance sniping, or the flowery burst of cuteness ability for some serious area of effect crowd control action"


How could I have forgotten my past Hello Kitty post, they really need to include a digital version of the HK AR-15 in the game.

12 February 2008

Wit and Wisdom from a Perspective About a Foot Higher Than Most Anyone Else . . .

In any event, this season has become very interesting for fans worldwide. Will the Laker-Celtic duel of the '80s be revived? Will the Suns break through this year? Will Detroit or San Antonio do their usual methodical march to the finals? Whatever the outcome, the stage is set for a very interesting and competitive playoff season. In all probability … the best in the last 20 years.

Kareem is blogging at the LAT (h/t TMZ!?), above quote from his recent post about the state of the association heading into the All Star break. He's an introspective man with an active mind and a wide range of interests. Worth checking out (and adding to the links).


The gmail filter has been pretty solid in preventing spam making it into my inbox, but lately, it seems that some bits of spametry is defeating their filter. Ignoring the actual spam portion of the email, I'd like to focus on the word/salad poetry. It's actually pretty interesting stuff:
The city, laid siege to it, and burned it to the interposed,
through my host, a shy brief question apprehension, every
time she opened her lips, of mighty arms, as long as i am
under the shadow the patrornas, the saisavas, and innumerable
karnapravaranas, and peaceful interior. The lightheartedness
that weakened. Worn out with fasts, thou art very much possessed
of heroism, highborn and the favourite to them that she
has made a mistake and she don't question by asking another.
you knew that the with sikhandin. And the matsyas, o king,
engaged was, said beacraft, grimly he left yesterday. Gus
holds forth again say, old scout, cautioned if righteousness
and power be associated with what possessed me after olga
appeared. She poisoned.

There's bits up there that sound suspiciously like it's borrowed from the Rigveda, I could be wrong, but I strongly suspect a vedic source for some of that phrasing and vocabulary.

"Not One Person Was Offended By It, Everybody Seemed to Dig It"

Penn talking about a Sen. Hillary Clinton joke he told.

Why Hasn't Someone Tried This Before

If you've watched sports highlights clips since Sunday night, you've probably caught a replay of a rather gruesome event that happened on the ice during a Buffalo Sabres v Florida Panthers NHL game.

Due to an excellent medical staff at the arena and hospital, Richard Zednick should be fine with no permanent damage, despite the five units of blood that flowed out of his neck onto the ice.

This kind of event is rare, but not unheard of in hockey. Pro hockey players make sure their skates are scarily sharp, and it is a contact sport, so bodies do fly from time to time.

Wouldn't a small bit of kevlar fabric as part of the uniform make a reasonable preventive measure? These collars are cheap, lightweight, and probably wouldn't effect the players' freedom of movement or comfort, I wouldn't be surprised if some players might choose to add something like that to their own kit, whether it is mandated or not.

It took a long time for Hockey players to decide helmets made sense, and even goalies used to skate without masks way back when, so the culture of the game might make it hard to change, and given the rarity of these events probably won't matter.

But turtlenecks are cool, and kevlar turtlenecks that provide protection from knifings are even better.

Dude, You Forgot to Mention That Luke Is Like Totally Fluent in Surfer . . .

. . . an article in the San Bernardino County Sun regarding the increasingly international flavor and multi-lingual nature of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Two players hail from ex-Yugoslav nations (Sasha Vujacic and Vladimir Radmanovic), you have a Martinican (Roni Turiaf), plus Kobe spent many of his younger years in Italy and is fluent in Italian and Spanish, and now DJ Mbenga has been signed for the rest of the year from Congo, and the big trade for the big guy from Barcelona (please, no Manuel jokes).

And in fairness to Luke Walton, besides being fluent in English and Surfer, I'm pretty sure I've seen him conduct interviews in Spanish for the local Spanish Language media, so the person that did this article on the many tongued Lakers should have found a way to throw in a mention of Luke, too.

Of course, the Lakers aren't alone in being a very tall UN, if the All Star game were to switch to a US v the World format then I think the lineup would look something like this:

Starting Guards: Jose Calderon, Steve Nash
Starting Forwards: Dirk Nowitzki , Tim Duncan
Starting Center: Yao Ming
Reserves: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Andrei Kirilenko, Hedo Turkoglu, Pau Gasol, Luol Deng, Zydrunas Ilgauskas

That team could put on a decent show, but they'd probably get killed by Team USA (the FIBA qualifying team that competed in Las Vegas a few months ago would do fine, though I'd probably substitute Chris Paul for Jason Kidd and Brandon Roy for Mike Miller).

11 February 2008

Leading Question of the Day (From a Few Days Ago)

Scott Adams posed this question:

If you took these three people and morphed them together, who would you get?

1. Frank Sinatra (from the skinny Rat Pack years)

2. Sammy Davis Junior

3. Bobby Kennedy

I think I see where he's going with this.

Must be none other than Rufus Jones.

Poking around with Google found this well stated defense of the above video, along with a better quality version for download, as well as a ton of stills.

While poking around Wikipedia, noted this interesting bit(grain of salt should be taken, but it is footnoted, and it's consistent with the Kennedys' behavior) about Sammy's treatment by Pres. Kennedy
Although Davis had been a voting Democrat, he had felt a distinct lack of respect from the John F. Kennedy White House. He had been removed from the bill of the inaugural party hosted by Sinatra for the new President because of Davis's recent interracial marriage. Davis had married Swedish actress May Britt (pronounced "My Brit") on November 13, 1960.

Talk about bringing everything around for the big finish, that bit includes the Presidency, the Kennedys, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis.

Downtown Sunset


'...and they are so open-minded it never crosses their minds why we wouldn't want to elect a Republican'

Here's the real 'quote' (and a put "quote" in single quotes, cause the 'quote' is from one of those "a reader writes" posts from Andrew Sullivan)

The Swedes here only ask me one question, "Who will be the next President, Hillary or Obama?" They never ask about the Republicans, and they are so open-minded here it never crosses their minds why we wouldn't want to elect either one for any reason. They see no reason a black man or a woman shouldn't be elected. Some want Hillary because they think the U.S. should be led by a woman, but mostly they have no preference. Also, they don't understand why people dislike Hillary so much.

It's nonsense like this that it's hard to take Sullivan seriously.

This is stupid on many levels, Euro-weenie preening superiority, check, not so veiled accusation that all Americans are knuckle-dragging racists/sexists, double check, an utter inability to even conceive of the possibility that the Democratic front runners might fail for reasons related to policy rather than personal identity, big fat triple check.

I check back to his site from time to time, not for an opinion anymore, but for laughs, and it usually doesn't take too many posts to find something snort worthy.

Welcome to Liberty City (Again)

GTA IV coming soon to a PS3 or XBOX360 near you. Kotaku has a lengthy impression of a 'hands-off' live demo of the game their editor, Brian Crecente, was shown in a hotel room at a (in)famous Hollywood hotel.

The official website launched last week and has a lot of stuff in it, screenshots, mini-games, videos, and other stuff (the Sprunk game is fun, but very, very vulgar). The attitude of the game can be summed up by the splash screen on the website, this is the quote that greets you, "Welcome to Liberty City At least we're not as racist as the midwest".

The whole Grand Theft Auto series is a bit frustrating. They are the most successful, and some of the best video games made, period. However, the world they create is a nihilistic nightmare that encourages and demands that the player model a variety of anti-social behaviors. Doesn't stop these games from being a great experience, just makes you want to shower afterward (and keep the game far, far away from preteen kids).

The newest game looks no different in that regard, but it brings in a new level of realism, freedom of action, and attention to detail. This game is going to become a must have title, and not only sell the software, but help encourage people to buy the hardware to play it on if they hadn't already taken the HDTV and PS3/Xbox360 plunge.

It's a shame you couldn't be a hero in the game, rather than an anti-hero, though.

Also, productivity is going to be seriously damaged when this game is released April 29th, expect a lot of folks to develop mysterious illnesses the week it's released.


The picture above was taken while walking past the Los Angeles City Hall. That phrase is inscribed high above the employee only entrance, and is attributed to James Russell Lowell.

I wonder if all those workers actually believe those words?

"Death in childbirth is natural; so is rape."

Quoting Megan McArdle regarding some of the dunderheaded arguments regarding diet. That quote isn't about diet, obviously, rather it's about the silly use of the word 'natural' as synonym for 'good'.

Our nature is brutal, our natural habitat is hostile to our existence. Luckily we have our 'artifice' to save us from all this aggressive nature.

Artifice used to be a good word not long ago. Damn romantics and their moony love for pastoralism.

08 February 2008

Reasons to Watch; Reasons Not to Watch, The Grammys Edition

The Grammys are Sunday, I'll be downtown at the same time they're on doing something else, maybe I'll even have pictures for you. I won't be recording the Grammys to watch later, though.

But there are reasons to watch the Grammys.

Reason 01) The Time are reuniting and performing!!! (ummm, were they ever really un-united?)
Reason 02) Sorry, that's the only reason.

Reasons not to watch the Grammys.

Reason A) They're the Grammys, and they generally suck.
Reason B) The Time aren't playing alone, they're playing with Rihanna, which is bound to be an ill advised mish-mash of crappiness.
Reason C) Didn't you see Reason A?

Greatest Show Ever?

Phoo Action.

Here's what the wiki says:
The show is set from the perspective of the disaffected teenage female protagonist, Whitey Action, who joins together with tough gay kung-fu cop Terry Phoo to form a dubious crime-fighting duo who thwart many mutant miscreants of The Freebies Gang on the streets of London in 2012.

Seriously? Seriously! Will premiere on BBC3 9pm GMT Tuesday February 13th, and no doubt be available illicitly around the globe a few hours later at your favorite torrent site.

It's a one-off pilot, depending on the reaction it may become a series. How could this fail?

Did I mention that Apollo Freakin' Creed is in this show?!?

(found via io9)

It's Unwise to Underestimate the Mischief They Can Do

Officially, he believes the chances of the cables being cut by "sharks with laser beams on their fricking heads" is unlikely

So maybe it wasn't sharks with laser beams on their fricking heads that caused a bunch of underwater data cables to stop functioning, but can you prove that it wasn't?

Westside Business of the Week (Major League Trim)

Driving around my side of town, I pass stuff that looks ineteresting, but I don't always know too much about. There are a surprising number of local businesses hereabouts, Santa Monica in particular, and the Westside in general is pretty hostile to chains, so a lot of businesses around here are unique to the area.

Some are more unique than others. I've passed by this place hundreds of times, noticed their sign, and never really thought much more about it. But after visiting the website of Major League Trim, I guess I have to say admire their commitment to their concept.

It's a barbershop, that features a sports theme mixed with a bevy of large breasted stylist, hence the name of the place that combines sports and vulgar language about women. It's the kind of place that is a discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen, but somehow they've avoided a lawsuit for the past few years. I'm sure all the stylists there are great at what they do.

My favorite bit from the website isn't the photos of the stylist, there are plenty shots of comely buxom women on the internet, that's pretty much 21.73% of all photos on teh internets, nope, my favorite bit from their site is the following special:

Son day Sundays: Sundays at MLT are meant for you and the kids. While you relax with a cut and massage, he’ll get the royal treatment for boys… complete with haircut, cartoons, a juice box and a toy for the road. Daughters are welcome too

The perfect activity for the weekend dad on his alternate weekend watching the kids. Why let a dreary quotidian task like getting the kiddies a haircut get in the way of an afternoon of ogling women? Combine the two, that's the ticket. Beats going to a place overrun with rugrats like Snip-its, I suppose.

Turnabout, or Sour Grapes . . .

. . . I agree with Prof. Somin (at Volokh Conspiracy), and think this is more a case of sour grapes than 'turnabout is fair play'. Eminent domain abuse is wrong, period, whether or not you like who is on the losing end. The irony that the company which primarily benefitted from the takings responsible for the suit that lead to the Kelo decision seems to be in a position to suffer a takings that the Kelo decision helps make possible is delicious.

But tasty irony aside, if the property is valuable, then Brooklyn can buy the land, and not use government as a cudgel so they can then set their own 'fair market price' for compensation.

The reason that eminent domain must be severly limited is because when the government doing the taking is also in charge of deciding what a a 'fair market price' for compensation will be, it's hard to trust that they won't cheat in their own favor.

If my property is that valuable to you (the 'you' in this case being some level of local, state or federal government), make me an offer I can't refuse due to its generosity, not an offer I can't refuse because you force me to sell it to you below true market value like some mafia goon.

The Audacity of Unreconstructed Old Fashioned Paleo-Liberal Identity Politics Conspiracy Mongering

Michelle Obama gives a speech, not about "hope", but about "hopelessness". Maybe that's not what she meant her speech to stand for, but when you break down what she says, that's what it comes down to. In essence, she states, 'unless you are a white male from a wealthy background, you are screwed'.

Her own life experience, and that of her husband, her family members, and most Americans in general, would seem to show the obvious flaws in that conceit, but that conceit still sells well in front of the kinds of audiences that Sen. Obama must sway to earn the Democratic party's nomination for President.

Pastor Jeff does an excellent job of breaking this down even further, read what he has to say on the subject.

It's ALL About MEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

That should be the Clintons' campaign slogan. And I use the plural, because it seems Sen. Clinton isn't running alone, she's also running as Billary, and lately she's also running as Billarysea.

So David Shuster filling it an MSNBC uses a rather informal turn of phrase that within the context obviously isn't meant to suggest that Chelsea Clinton is a street corner prostitute, but does speak to the typical acts of pandering that politicians often do. If you don't want to hear the phrase "pimp" used to describe your actions, then don't commit acts that look suspiciously like pandering. Instead of laughing it off, Hillary chose to get into full wounded mode, demand apologies, and threatened to pull out of MSNBC debates. If GOP candidates threatened to pull out every time media types said something that could be construed as offensive about them, there'd have been no GOP debates anywhere but on FNC. Chelsea's a grown assed woman, she can defend herself, and she can choose to be offended or not offended on her own.

But Hillary must get offended. Why? Because what Shuster said was particularly offensive? No. Because being offended looks good on Hillary. Because I think the people around the Clinton campaign have seen their numbers rise when they can make Hillary seem like a victim of bad men demeaning her for being a woman, so any chance they get to play the victim, they will play, and play it for all it's worth.

This may get them votes in the Democratic primaries, but if they continue this "look at me, I'm a victim" game in the general election, the anti-Hillaryite crowd will swell into a massive wave of GOP friendly voters turning out to effect not only the presidential contest, but all the local and statewide contests as well.

I hope she's handed her party's nomination. I really, really do.

(given that neither Obama or Clinton will be able to earn a majority of the delegates needed in the remaining primaries, the "super delegates" will 'hand' the nomination to one or the other, the Democratic nominee won't be elected so much as selected)

MSNBC should have stood their ground, they shouldn't have suspended Shuster, and Shuster has nothing to apologize for.

What a whiny bunch of identity politics addicted babies Democrats are making themselves out to be this election cycle.

I Suppose If a Little Person Shows Up on Lost Island, We'll Get All Sorts of "Fantasy Island" Speculation As Well . . .

. . . over at ALOTT5MA, the speculation regarding last night's LOST gets into some serious discussion of why the 70s sucked so hard.

OK, not really that, more about whose boat the boat in the show might be, and someone snarkily suggested that it must be "The Love Boat", which then led to more snark along these lines:

Matt poses this question, "I'm wondering what cruise ship worth its salt has one and only one bartender."

Jenn answers knowingly, "It was a different time, Matt. People were accustomed to waiting for things. Phone calls? Only if you were home or at the office. Mail? USPS. Drinks? Only when Isaac had time to help you."

Yes kiddies, the 70s did really suck as hard as all that. As far as LOST goes . . .,

(I guess, I have to admit, some aspects of the 80s sucked pretty hard, too)

05 February 2008

Who Cares About Super Duper Califragilistic Tuesday, Pau Gasol Started His First Game for the Lakers . . .

. . . and he was muy bueno. 24 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. Not a bad first day on the job. Helps that it was against New Jersey, but still he looked good out there on offense, a little lost on defense, but that'll develop over time.

More concerning was Kobe, he dislocated his pinkie at the knuckle, hopefully not too seriously, but he shot terribly in the game (3-13) and the Lakers have no time to rest him with another game tomorrow in Atlanta.

And as far as Super Duper Tuesday, after seeing the whiny statement from Romney about the voting in West Virginia, I changed my vote in the primary to Sen. John McCain.

Sometimes it's good to wait till the last second.

And a note to the folks standing near me in line to vote, I wasn't the one who stank to high heaven, or the semi-homeless looking guy behind me, it was the young thin blonde model looking woman who must be on some sort of non-bathing kick (and lots and lots of garlic). Young thin blonde model looking women can really get away with terrible hygiene, life is so unfair.

04 February 2008

The Finaly Humiliation Superbowl XLII (The I'm Happy I Was Dead Wrong Edition)

Couldn't be happier that I was dead wrong about the Superbowl this year. Complete wipeout, 100% wrong with my Superbowl picks, makes calculating my losses much easier. Low scoring games can be exciting, this one proves that's the case. That one scramble by Eli, and the awful, ugly, dead duck, fluttering pass that somehow ended in a completion on a crucial third and long in the 4th quarter will go down in history as one of the mythic plays in any Superbowl.

New England was listless, their offensive line fell apart (relatively speaking, that is), which lead to the usually unflappable Tom Brady looking decidedly flapped. I saw Tom Brady go from golden boy before the game to the second coming of a shorter Jim (don't call me Chrissy) Everett during the game. He never got "happy feet" that bad, but he had trouble stepping up to make his throws, and his downfield accuracy was abyssmal. Even more unbelievably, I saw Eli Manning become a Superbowl MVP?!? Eli "He's Making that face again" Manning. Un.Be.Lieve.able. (wait, that thing with the periods doesn't really work within a word, does it?)

New England had the plays designed, they had the personnel, but the execution was lacking throughout that game on both sides of the ball. The Giants didn't play a great game to beat a great team, they played a good game to beat a listless team. The Giants earned this championship, but don't expect another tickertape parade for this team any time soon.

I still say next year's Superbowl will be New Orleans v Tennessee (both those teams will turn around what were disappointing seasons this year).

After recording FOX all day yesterday, I just don't have the time or inclination to go through it all, and seems like every website in teh internets is doing their "Commercials Round Up" piece, so there's plenty of places to see that discussion. The ETrade baby is right, though, clowns are creepy.

03 February 2008

I'm Filling Up My Hard Drive, Just for You . . .

. . . OK, not really filling it up, and besides there's two more where that first one came from, but I am recording FOX all day, their Super Duper Califragilistic Sunday seems like an interesting experiment, so I was going to record the whole thing and look for interesting moments. First interesting moment so far . . .

Nothing says political or football coverage that should be taken seriosuly like a couple of Hooters Girls playing Madden on Wii.

People who complain about Fox News, just don't get it, they don't care that they aren't taken seriously all the time, they know how to have fun, and they know how to tweak their critics. Roger Ailes is a freakin' genius (of the evil variety, at times, but genius nonetheless).

(Were they inspired by the topless Wii playing (and NSFW) Nuts Girls?)

02 February 2008

I Guess I Don't Have to Email Him About the Error on Page 80, Then...

I noticed the Insider/Interpreter mix-up, too. Just received Ken Jenning's Trivia Almanac today. It's a thick tome, chock-full-a-trivial-goodness.

(I don't have my copy handy, be funny if I made a mistake as to what page the mistake was on...)

Tolerating the Intolerable

Celebrating cultural diversity the British way.

By celebrating diversity, what I really mean is tolerating the intolerable. "Honor" killings (if ever there was an oxymoron...) are being covered up, tolerated, or even encouraged by some muslim police officers, and non-muslim police officers don't call their colleagues on this crap for fear of being branded as racists.

Unfortunately, accusations of racism are much more likely to get a constable fired than suspicions of complicity in covering up for "honor" killings.

I Doubt She Was REALLY, "The World's Worst Stripper"

Academy Award nominated screenwriter of the rather well written Juno, Diablo Cody, profiled in the Daily Mail.

(Am I disappointed that despite her former career in various aspects of the sex industry, there are no nude photos of Diablo floating around teh internets?)

(and doesn't "World's Worst Stripper" seem like a probable reality show on VH1 sometime in the next 2-3 years?)

Unenthusiastic Superbowl XLII Picks

It's the New England Patriots versus the New York Giants, and I just don't care. It's going to be a blowout, I think, but maybe not.

Here's what I think will happen, all the great progress that Eli Manning seems to have made during the playoffs will evaporate, along with all the problems the Patriots seem to be having.

Both teams will play more like they did at the beginning of the season than how they played two weeks ago. That means, a big offensive effort from the Pats, while the Giants are just plain offensive.

52-17 is my prediction, and those 17 points will be garbage time scores. I expect New England to be up 28-0 or 28-3 at halftime and add another two TDs in the 3rd quarter. This won't be pretty, should give everyone plenty of time to pay close attention to the commercials.

So, given that, how would I bet, if I were the betting type? I'm going with a hypothetical $1000 budget again, like last year, hopefully the results will be better. All lines from Gamblers Palace as of 8pm PST 02/02/08.

Patriots Margin of Victory +22 points or more, betting $600 at +280.
This is the main bet, the one that would pay for the trip to Vegas, if I had made a trip to Vegas (or make the trip a budget buster). I'm surprised they're giving as good of odds on this as they are. If this hits, this bet would collect $2280 bucks, that'd make for a nice weekend.

For the rest of the budget, the bets would be as follows
Total points scored by both teams 57-63, $100 at +180 (to collect $280)
Total points scored by both teams 64-70, $100 at +470 (to collect $570)
Total points scored by both teams 71-77, $100 at +1050 (to collect $1150)
Total points scored by both teams 78 or more, $100 at +940 (to collect $1040)

If either of the last two hit, along with a big Patriots blowout victory, then I'd be very displeased that I didn't actually book these bets, so hopefully I'm completely wrong about all this, or else I'll be mumbling to myself tomorrow night about the $3,000+ I didn't win. If somehow the game ends up with a very high total but the Pats win close, or even lose, then I'd about break even. If it's a low scoring contest, and the Pats win close, or lose, then I'd be very happy that I didn't risk real money on these foolish bets.

That's why I love the internet, I can risk humiliation instead of cash, the supply of humiliation is endless, cash on the other hand is quite finite.

Why I Am Still Voting for Fred Thompson on Super Duper Califragilistic Tuesday

I know he dropped out, but his ideas remain the ones I feel most connected to, so I'm going to vote Fred on Tuesday. In the general election, I'll vote for either Romney or McCain (assuming they don't say or do something really crazy and awful between now and November).

But why vote for a drop-out and not the person he recommended?

If enough folks do it on Tuesday across the country (and admittedly, they probably won't) it would send a signal to whoever becomes the eventual GOP candidate, that the ideas Thompson represented are ideas that they should think about following as well, his positions were strong, but his candidacy a little weak.

I'm voting for the ideas he represented, small government, strong defense, common sense, free trade, and most importantly a return to federalism.

It'd be great if he got even 5% of the vote, 10% would be even better, not likely, but one can dream.

If he gets a significant number of votes despite dropping out, it will make the other candidates take notice.


Just checked one of my email accounts and noticed a message from the Governator urging me to vote for McCain. While I often agree with our Governor, I'm still not going to vote for McCain. Thought I'd post a portion of an image of the email below, just you can see what Arnold is saying about McCain. If you click on it, should be large enough to read the text.

Electoral Nightmare, or Comedy Gold?

When I think ahead to the real election this November, one thing comes to mind, which states that Sen. Kerry lost, will either Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama win?

Most states weren't close, one way or the other, and aren't likely to switch columns, regardless of which combination of candidates end up representing each party. There were 12 states (CO, FL, IA, MI, MN, NV, NH, NM, OH, OR, PA, WI) where the results wer closer than 5% between Bush and Kerry, those also happen to be the 12 states where both campaigns spent the most time and money.

The potential for "fun" comes in when you consider that two states that went for Bush by less than 1% (New Mexico and Iowa) , plus Nevada which went for Bush by 2.59% but has had a continuing influx of refugees from Democratic states, and likely the electorate there leans more Democratic than before, that gives you exactly half of the difference between Bush and Kerry.

Assuming there won't be any faithless electors (which actually did happen in Minnesota last go round), and assuming that all the other states stay the same, while New Mexico, Iowa and Nevada flip to the Democratic column, you get the interesting situation of a 269 to 269 tie.

Wouldn't that be fun?

I don't think things will break this way, but it's definitely a possibility. Here's the wiki blurb on the contingency in case no candidate receives a majority of electors:
If no candidate for President receives a majority (270 votes) of the 538 possible electoral votes, the House of Representatives is required to go into session immediately to vote for President (pursuant to the Twelfth Amendment). In this case, the House of Representatives chooses from the three candidates who received the most electoral votes. Each state delegation has a single vote, decided by majority decision (an evenly divided state delegation is considered to have abstained). A candidate receiving the majority of votes of all states (currently 26) is declared the President-elect. If no candidate receives a majority, the House proceeds to a second ballot and continues balloting until a candidate receives a majority of the state unit votes. This situation would most likely occur only when more than two candidates receive electoral votes, but could theoretically happen in a two-person contest if each received 269 electoral votes.

To date, the House of Representatives has chosen the President on only two occasions: in 1801 and in 1825.

Looking at this map above (found here) of the current House of Representatives, 3 delegations are evenly split, 26 have more Democratic representatives than Republicans, which leaves only 21 states that are majority GOP in the House. A tie would be as good as a win for the Democrats it would appear, but appearances can be deceiving. In this tie scenario, only 21 states (+DC, which lacking a Representative doesn't get a say in this contingency) would have picked the Democratic candidate, which is basically the reverse of the House delegations. All three evenly split states (Arizona, Kansas, and Mississippi) are likely to be easily in the GOP column as far as the popular vote, so the Democratic representatives there would have a lot of pressure on them to vote the same way their state's voters did, rather than with their party. If all three of those states broke for the GOP, then you'd have a 24-26 split in favor of the Democrats. But there are some western and southern states that have "blue dog" Democratic representatives, and those states are likely to vote overwhelmingly Republican in November. These states are North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Any two of those state's delegations flip (and in the case of the Dakotas, delegation=1 person), and you'd have a majority Democratic House of Representatives still picking a Republican for President in a process that hadn't been trotted out in 184 years. The possibility for mischief is heightened even more when you consider that it will be the 110th US Congress picking the president in this scenario, and not the incoming 111th, you'll have quite a few people in the delegations who are on their way out of public life (or are bitter after getting voted out of public life), and wouldn't have to worry about facing voters again. In weakly GOP or Dem states, or states with only one or two representatives, these representatives would have an amazing amount of leverage, and might play coy to extract promises from either the GOP or Dem candidate.

If you thought the country was polarized now, imagine the aftermath in the wake of that process playing out in front of CSPAN cameras.

Luckily, the most likely event will be that someone clearly wins, or someone clearly loses, but this particular election has more potential for a tie than any in recent memory. On the one hand, it'd be entertaining as hell, on the other hand, it would probably be hell, regardless of who is selected, so vote early, and vote often so that this doesn't end up happening.

01 February 2008

Due to the Tyranny of Geometric Progression, I Won't Be Passing This Along, but I Will Play . . .

. . . if everyone followed the forward to five people rule of this meme, then you'd run out of people on the planet fairly quickly, so as usual, I am where chain letters and memes go to die (people who spread these memes, especially ones who demand they are forward to such a large number of people as five, are displaying an ignorance of exponential growth, or they are counting on the laziness of most people who won't bother forwarding the meme in question).

But, I don't mind answering the question posed (via Pastor Jeff at Conblogeration)

Now as to the rules,

    1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages).
    2. Open the book to page 123.
    3. Find the fifth sentence.
    4. Post the next three sentences.
    5. Tag five people.

1. The nearest book, it's a book I've always been meaning to read, yet have never finished, it happens to be nearest to my person at this moment. I would have much preferred something more lowbrow, as this book is often cited as one of the greatest books ever written by really pretentious English major types. That book, the one every English major probably owns, but has never finished reading (including myself), that'd be James Joyces' Ulysses. My copy is a paperback Vantage Books version published in 1961. Just for fun, I checked the ISBN number of this edition (0394703804) and it shows up on Amazon, sales rank 1,099,394.

2. I'm ashamed to admit, I've never actually read all the way to page 123, so this will be virgin territory for me.

3. Found.


    He took out his handkerchief to dab his nose. Citron-lemon? Ah the soap I put there. Lose it out of the pocket.

5. I don't play tag, I screencapped (see above) a quick excel sheet I did to illustrate how such a geometric progression quickly gets out of hand, by about the 12th generation you've probably used up every active blogger currently blogging, by the 13th generation you've exceeded the current population of the United States (not that the meme is limited to the USA), by the 14th generation you've exceeded the number of people who have ever used a computer (not sure on that, but I doubt more than 1 in 10 people planet wide have even limited access to computers), and buy the 15th generation you've exceeded the current population of all the people on the globe, with or without computer access. People who spread these memes forget the parable of the grains of rice and the chessboard.

(and don't those quoted sentences above just scream, "greatest work of literature, ever!")

"and retention is even tougher"

Truer words never spoken, from Instapundit today, full quote plus some important context here:

Good suicide-bombers are hard to find, and retention is even tougher. Meanwhile, Michael Yon emails from Iraq:
All well in South Baghdad, but sounds like the suicide bombings were pretty bad. I did not hear them detonate so must have been far away. It's the al Qaeda mode, though. Sounds like the women were mentally disabled.

And Austin Bay emails that this may be the start of the "Terrorist Tet" he's been predicting. As Bob Owens notes, some people here at home are all-too-eager to help. Just like last time.

It's not hard to believe that the last remaining living fossils of the MSM will do everything in their waning power to prop up the terrorists, backstab our military, and cheer for our defeat. Too bad for them folks are keeping track, tuning them out, and have other sources of information. Must suck to be them.

Woohoo! Woohoo! Woohoo!

This news deserves three woohoos!

Pau Gasol is coming to the Lakers for Kwame Brown and Javaris Cittenton (plus draft picks and other contracts). That's a huge upgrade for the Lakers, and when Bynum comes back, Gasol can play as a forward, in either the small forward or power forward slot. When everyone's back, the Lakers could have a starting five of Fisher, Bryant, Bynum, Odom and Gasol. That's a formidable starting line-up that could cause any other team fits on how to guard all those guys. Add to that a 2nd team of Farmar, Ariza, Mihm, Turiaf and Radmonivic with minutes for Vujacic and Walton depending on match ups, and you have a deep, young and athletic team, with a ton of great shooters, and enough players who play defense where they can stop teams when they need to. That's a 12 man roster that matches any other team, and other than Fisher, they are all under 30 and half of them are under 25. They may not have enough time with all their players healthy this season to challenge for the championship, but this team should be a championship caliber team for the next half decade.

Memphis didn't do too badly for themselves, either, this wasn't a Minnesota style fire sale. Brown has a huge expiring contract which makes them a player for a free agent, Crittenton could turn out to be a very good big point guard for a lot of years, and they picked up 2 first round draft picks.

During the off season many folks wanted GM Kupchak's head on a platter. Now, assuming Gasol gets up to speed quickly and performs well during the playoffs, he should be a candidate for GM of the year.

Here's my prediction, New Orleans (or at least the Hornets franchise, as they may move again in this time period), Portland and the Lakers will make up the teams that will be paired against each other for the next 5 seasons after this one in the Conference Finals. Dallas is getting old, Phoenix is getting old, and San Antonio is downright decrepit. Utah, Houston, Denver and Golden State will put together some good teams in that time, but not make the Conference Finals.

Good, good times to be a Lakers fan, again.