Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Pooh's Tuesday Blues

Because what's the point of having an iPod if I don't listen to everything I have. 10 of the best, randomly selected from the Electric Blues playlist:

  1. "Shake Your Tailfeather" - Ray Charles.
  2. "Like a Woman" - John Lee Hooker. From the Detroit 1948-49 recordings. One man, one guitar, one crappy amp. Brilliant.
  3. "Burning Hell" - JLH w/ Canned Heat. My absolute favorite JLH song ever.
  4. "Wall of Denial" - SRV. Is there any artist more instantly recognizable from the first note of a song than Stevie Ray?
  5. "Jacksboro Highway" - John Mayall. You know, as influential as John Mayall has been, I'm not a huge fan. The best Bluesbreakers stuff is all about Clapton anyway. Aside from "Room to Move" which is in my all time top 10 blues favorites (mostly for the extended washboard/harmonica breaks.)
  6. "Do the Boogie" - JLH. The iPod appears to be in a Hooker mood today. Another one from the early Detroit recordings.
  7. "Treat Me Like I Treat You" - Eddie Burns from the Chess Blues Guitar collection.
  8. "How Blue Can You Get?" - B.B. King. The "Live at the Regal" recording. If I may, for a moment..."I gave you a brand new Ford...you said 'I want a Cadillac'/ I bought you a ten dollar dinner...you said 'thanks for the snack'/ I let you live in my penthouse...you said it was just a shack/ I gave you seven children and now you wanna give em back..." Damn.
  9. "All Your Love I Miss Loving" - SRV. One of my favorite songs to see performed live, pretty much whoever is on stage.
  10. "I Love You" - Asie Payton - I cannot recomend this song highly enough. Similar to some of R.L. Burnside's stuff, a Blues/Hip Hop fusion. Look for a collection called "Big Bad Love" as Payton's stuff tends to be harder to find.

I'll add Amazon links later. Next week, we dip into the accoustic blues mix.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Talk to the Hand

One you do not see everyday: Following the Lady Tigers of LSU trouncing the Baylor Bears, things got heated:
"She said something very unprofessional before the game and I was responding to what she said," Mulkey-Robertson said about her remarks to Chatman during their post-game handshake. "You don't say things like that."

Chatman was not best pleased, snatching her and away with a mixture of "no she didn't" and "scoreboard, b****". (I know, incredibly sexist of me, there's no way I * that word out if it's male coaches).

Due to the magic of DVR, Kim Mulkey-Robertson, unplugged: "She doesn't have the right to tell me that. She hasn't beat me enough, she hasn't won enough to say something like that to me". Responding to the question of what Chatman said: "Why don't you ask her. And make sure her administration is here when she repeats it."

Chatman, answering the question "did you say anything unprofessional?" "Not at all. No. Not at all. You ever heard that from me before? Why now?" Followed by a classic dismissive eyeroll. I really wish I could post video. It's that good.

A question to Mulkey-Robertson, you just got beat by 31, what can you possibly have to say? If the other coach came up before the game and told you that you were getting your ass kicked tonight, guess what? You did. As for her not beating you enough, this one counts for at least 1.5, let us know how many more she needs. Also, something tells me no one makes a post-game scene at Pat Summitt and lives to tell the tale.

Needless to say, people losing poorly irritate me...

Update 1/31: Apparently, the pregame comment at issue concerned a recruiting war where Baylor 'stole' a player that LSU had received a commitment from. What. Ever. The proper response from Mulkey-Robertson would have been to nod in faux-agreement while holding up her "National Champions 2005" ring.

(parenthetically, it's good that Brett admits to being "a SORE LOSER and a GLOATING WINNER." Didn't want to have to point that out to you...)


Tyge guards the house from a moose sneak attack.

update: An Orange Sasquatch? How dare you!

This Week's Spam

Well, they're either getting more targeted or just bolder. After the last one was somewhat cryptic, this week's gets right to the point:
if you are a warm blooded male then you need a F*ckFriend
Glad we'ver cleared that up.

"No SoupWiki For You!"

There's clueless, there's dumb, and then there's this:
A story came out last Friday from Evan Lehmann about the abuse of Wikipedia. While these Wikipedia abuse cases are getting common, this is the first time it was directly attributed to congressional staffers in the United States House of Representatives. Staffers of Representative Marty Meehan (D) deliberately made alterations on Meehan's Wiki by erasing embarrassing but factual information about the congressman.
O.K., not only is this wrong from a moral standpoint, but it's incredibly stupid. First of all, it's deleting easily verifiable, objectively factual information. Meehan did promise to serve no more than 8 years. (Ooops). And he does have the largest campaign war-chest, according to the FEC. As Smilin' Jack Ross would say, "these are the facts and they are indisputable."

Second, the likelihood of this getting back to the source approaches 1. It's not like it's hard to track the edits back to House servers:
As it turns out, there were thousands of other times that Wikipedia modifications were tracked down to the House of Representatives' network.
If you are going to play these kinds of dirty tricks, send Jo-Jo the Idiot Intern Boy down to Starbucks with a laptop so you at least have plausible deniability. Did I mention dirty tricks?
some of the changes were grossly abusive. The worst example was when congressional staffers modified the Wiki of Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor (R) with the statement "smells of cow dung" and modified Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R) as "ineffective". The abuse was so excessive that the Wikipedia temporarily blocked the House's IP range last November and December.
The words "Democrat" and "gang" and "couldn't shoot straight" spring to mind unbidden, though I imagine that this is, like Abramoffthe proverbial "bi-partisan scandal".

To make a larger, and largely non-partisan, point, these are the guys who are making technology related law. And they don't show knowledge of the first damn clue as to how these things work. It's no wonder copywrite gets extended ad infinitum (see Eldred), Network Neutrality may go by the boards, the idiocy of mandating broadcast flags (which would require new gadgets contain only that technology which has been "certified by the FCC as being not unduly disruptive to entertainment industry business-models." Read that sentance again.) etc., etc., etc.

AHW: Call for Nominations, I'm Blegging You

You never know, I might actually have to do some work this week, and thus be unable to find the worst offenders of the past several days.

So, what do we think? This vigilante judge who apparently hates Cyndia Lauper? (And BTW, the fact that the Detroit Free Press's website is "Freep.Com" is just a little off-putting...)

How about these ref's for giving a technical foul to a coach for collapsing on the court. Apparently, having a coronary is only ok if you do it inside the coach's box.

Or is it something infinitely more terrifying and truthiful? Help me help you.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Re-arranging Things

This reminds me of a story from my freshman year of college. There was a Composition-1 prof, who's ancientness was only exceeded by his curmudgeonliness. For the first day of class, he assigned a one page essay on some topic or another. On the second day of class, he returned all the papers, most with more red ink than black. Withering commentary ensued, something like the scene from Risky Business (or was it Cocktail?) where the Young Entrepeneurs teacher hands back all the papers - "Crap. Crap. Naively Stupid. Crap. Crap". He's handed back all the papers save one, at which point, he reaches behind the lectern and takes out a small plastic bag filled with what appears to be confetti, which he proceeds to dump on the last student's desk. He had cut the essay into individual words with an exacto-knife. "Perhaps you'd like to rearrange this."

New Years Resolution Book #2 & #3: Mind Game & Basketball on Paper

How does the old saw go, "lies, damn lies & statistics"? Well, it's inevitable to bring that saying up when disucssing two books about sports statistics.

The first, Mind Game, is billed as a SABREmetric look at why the Red Sox finally won the 2004 World Series. Being a sucker, I bought two copies, one for myself one for the quasi-seam head SlatRat as a Christmas gift. (Though I did get the free 'holiday wrapping' done at Barnes & Noble. I need to pick a side in that war before Halloween.)

Basically the book is about using arcane statistics to make counter-intuitive points, e.g. Keith Foulke was better than Mariano Rivera from 1999-2003. Of course, the raw 'numbers' have been massaged several times. There doesn't seem to be any consistent approach to which analytical tool is the best method and a lot of "using this method, which is different from the one used in the previous chapter, we see that Derek Jeter is the worst player ever to date Mariah Carey..."

Really the best part of the book is the opening chapter, which is devoted to debunking of much of the pernicious "Curse of the Bambino" myth. It's unclear whether anyone has ever profited more from misery than Dan Shaughnessy, so it's nice to (finally) have a rebuttal to his tales of ghosts and goblins.

Pooh's View: Read Moneyball And then read it again. Then move onto Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. If you still need more stathead lovin, try this book.

The second book is far superior. "Basketball on Paper" is far more useful to me. Partially because I'm less familiar with the performance metrics of basketball, partially because the author, Dean Oliver (no, not the point guard who played for Iowa for about 8 years in the 90's), writes in a slightly more conversational style.

He's honest about the difficulties in applying Jamesian methods to basketball. Some are intuitive, such as the problems in giving appropriate 'credit' for assisted baskets, and the effects of teamwork. Some are less so, such as the problem of treating the first minute of a game the same as the 48th. Unlike baseball, where no discernable 'clutch' effect has been demonstrated, there are clear differences in perfomance (just as there are obvious differences in intensity) towards the end of games (with intensity rising in close games, and becoming non-existant in blowouts.)

Since the book was published a few years ago, there isn't much in the way of ratings of current players, though there are some interesting future insights. First, Oliver uses J.R. Rider as his knucklehead posterchild. Not exactly a long shot bet, but still, "Heh."

Second, he discusses an early "absolute player value method" which was rejected, in large part because a little known Russian rookie named Andrei Kirilenko showed up as one of the most efficient all-around players in the league. As they say, either you're on something or you're onto something.

Pooh's View: If you like the Baseball Prospectus approach, but prefer hoops to hardball, this one is for you. I also, of course, reccomend 82 games.

In Support of JJ Redick for the NBA

Pooh attempts to lighten the mood

40. On 13 shots. I challenge you to go into a gym by yourself and beat that...(yeah, yeah, I know he shot 11 FT's also). Of course, The 'Stache took it as a challenge and threw up 42 later last night, but he needed 26 shots to do it. Amateur.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

In Support of the Filibuster

Two things up front. First, I don't really like the idea of a 'filibuster'. Often, it seems like taking one's ball and going home. That being said, I have some vestiges Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, (or, for the West Wing fans Stackhouse Filibuster), good-government idealism left in me, so I can see the appeal of standing up for a righteous cause, and fighting it out with every maneuver at your disposal.

Second, my thanks to RIA for inspiring both my thoughts on the matter, and inducing me to broadcast them. This post is best read as a response to her well considered disappointment with the filibuster. To those of you who disagree with me, I welcome a discussion on the subject, and hope we can engage our "best minds", as she might put it. If we can't speak openly about our ideas, where are we?

So, on to why I support the filibuster, even if calling it in from a ski slope in Switzerland doesn't seem the best plan from a tactical standpoint.

Part of my disagreement with RIA's position is ideological. Alito will be that bad. I'm not sure you can have an appreciation of how bad a Justice Clarence Thomas is without getting into it. It's not the results he reaches, it's the blatantly non-legalistic way in which he reaches them. Precedent he doesn't like is not binding, but if he likes the result it would engender, he's "bound to follow". His opinion in the recent Oregon right-to-die case is a perfect example in point - he thought Raich (the recent medical marijuana decision) wrongly decided, but didn't like the Oregon law, so he dissented based on Raich, if that makes sense. And I think Alito might be worse on every aspect of individual rights and freedoms.

And I could maybe live with that save for the executive power issue, where he truly is off the reservation, Borkishly so. I'm not sure how strongly I can express my disgust for the "Yoo doctrine" which he appears to buy. It's wrong, and based on a very selective reading of history and precedent, but it's 'truthy', so gets trotted out to defend such laudable acts as torture, kidnapping and presidential law-breaking.

For those reasons, he is to be fought tooth and nail. Yes, the Democrats bungled the hearings, but that doesn't mean it's time to close up shop.

As for the 'tactical' aspects, the Dems have been talking 'tactics' on everything that comes down the pike, and have 'tactically retreated' us into one (bungled) war, the rumblings of another in Iran, a disastrous disaster response, a drug package that is quite possibly worse than that for anyone without Pfizer stock options, and active disenfranchisement of minority voters in Texas and Georgia. And I could go on. At a certain point one has to stand up to a bully.

Additionally, the fact that prominent GOPers went immediately ON RECORD to denigrate Kerry's move leads me to suspect that we're doing something right. If they were really happy about it, they'd crush it first, crow about it next Tuesday at the State of the Union, and then have a snack. Polls strongly show that if Alito were to cause an overturn of Roe, people would lose their minds - that case is not hard to be made so it's time to stand up and do it.

Between Roe and "would allow presidential law breaking (which oh, by the way would also include no accountability for the Katrina response)" those are two pretty strong assaults to be countered merely with mealy-mouthed assurances of "well-qualified jurist".

As for the 'opportunistic' aspect, so what? That's part and parcel of politics. Further, the charge of 'opportunism' is just another one of the dissent-squashing fear tactics that this administration has used to cow all opposition since 9/11. I'm sick of being called a coward or a traitor or an opportunist, or a defeatist every time I advocate what I genuine think is best. That's why I jumped on XWL earlier this week for his take Joel Stein's LA Times column, and that's why I'm riled up now.

And so I get back to it, at a certain point the opposition party has to stop quivering in fear every time Karl Rove looks at them funny and start opposing. If not now, when?

SawxBlogging: I Won't Make the Joke in the Headline

But I will right now: I'm kookoo for CoCo Crisp.

Quick analysis shows something. Here are the two batting lines:

.300/.345/.465 16HR
.316./.366/.439 10 HR

Not a lot of difference. One is 26 and will make under $1mil about $3 mil. this year. The other in 32 and will make 1 Billion dollars over the next 4 years. Oh yeah, and one stat line is inflated by playing 80 games at Fenway (50 point bump in OPS at home). I have no idea what kind of arm Crisp has, but it literally cannot be worse. He's also a good clubhouse guy.

Essentially the trade is Renteria for Crisp, and I'd do that in a heartbeat. Too bad to have to throw Shoppach in, but oh well. Now, Theo, give us a shortstop.

Presidential Mad Libs

From the WaPo story about the lack of progress rebuilding N'Awlins:
Nearly five months after Hurricane Katrina swamped New Orleans, President Bush's lofty promises to rebuild the Gulf Coast have been frustrated by bureaucratic failures and competing priorities, a review of events since the hurricane shows.
Really, I think they have a Word Template that reads like this:
Nearly [X TIME] After [Y EVENT], President Bushes [Adjective] promises to [RESPOND TO Y] have been frustrated by [PICK TWO: bureaucratic failures; insufficient funding; lack of manpower; faulty intelligence; competing priorities], a review of events since [Y EVENT] shows.
For bonus points, the second paragraph might read
[Senior Administration Official A] admits that he/she has not read the governmentally produced report, but he/she strongly disagrees with it's conclusions. "We are on schedule. Our minions are doing a heckuva job. So far as you know. Ask me another question like that, and your press pass is gone."
The regularity of these stories proves one of two things: the media hates Booosh, or the administration is actually making promises it can't keep. I wonder what Friar Occam would think.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Gripe: Cold

It's really, really cold here. Not quite that cold. But 20 below with windchill. Pooh is not pleased.

Big Music Friday

Friday seems to be music day in my little corner of the Blogosphere. We have Friday Funk Lyrics and ruminations on Mozart. But the idea I'm going to blatantly copy comes from LL&PN with the Friday Random Ten. Setting my Ipod a shuffling, I get:

  1. "Yakety Yak" - The Coasters. For some reason this song always makes me think of Paul Brown. Perhaps because I watched too much "NFL Films" as a child. (Who am I kidding with the "as a child" bit? 6/10.
  2. "Bittersweet" - Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Functional, fungible Blues Rock 5/10.
  3. "Sister Christian" - Night Ranger. Power ballads r00l. And this is one of the best ever, and that was before the Boogie Nights scene. 10/10.
  4. "Twice as Hard" - Black Crows. Before the Robinson brothers decided they couldn't stand each other, this was my favorite band. Before I knew what "blues" was, I knew I liked blues-rock. 10/10.
  5. "Deep Cover" - Dr. Dre introducing Snoop Dogg. Huge beat, (though House of Pain blatantly stole it for "Who's the Man?") But this song is really all about Snoop's into: "Creep with me as I crawl through the hood/ maniac, lunatic, call me Snoop Eastwood" in that patented drawl. 8/10.
  6. "Always on the Run" - Lenny Kravitz. I go back and forth on dear Leonard, but this is not his best. 3/10.
  7. "Rapture" - Blondie. So far as I know, Debby Harry is still the best whitegirl rapper. 5/10.
  8. "Freedom" - Rage Against the Machine. Just thinking about Tom Morello gets me bobbing my head a little bit. 7/10.
  9. "Simmer Down" - Mighty Mighty Bosstones. If I were to make a mix of songs to listen to when I'm pissed off about something, and need to, well, simmer down, this is the finale. 7/10.
  10. "Stiff Upper Lip" - AC/DC. And not just any version, the version I, er, found online back in the day when such things may or may not have happened. The recording is from the song's premiere on Australian radio station, so I've got an Oz DJ introducing it with "I feel like I should be standing up and saluting. For the First! Time! Ever on this planet, they're back..." Cue Angus. 8/10.

Wow, that's pretty mainstream. Oh. Because I set it on shuffle of just my 'favorites' playlist. Maybe I'll try it again later using all 40gb of digital music goodness.

A Quick Quiz: Comprehension and Risk Preferences

I'm a sucker for these things, so, riddle me this:
1) A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

2) If it takes five machines five minutes to make five widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

3) In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half the lake?
For answers, and to find out what it means about your valuation of risk, see this Virginia Postrel article.

Of particular interest to me is the fact that the better one scores on an extended version of the above quiz, the more likely one is to take a certain form of bad bet, in this example taking a 1% shot of $5000 over a guaranteed $60. I wonder about the theory as to why people who do 'know better' would take that bet. I think I would, even though I'm well aware that it's "-EV". Though of course the result likely gets turned on its head and you invert the problem and offer someone a 1/100 lotto ticket which pays $5000 for a price of $60. I wouldn't do that, (my one night of drunken pull-tab excess aside)


NFWWATFO: Isaiah Junior J.R. Rider edition

Problem child J.R. Rider, ringleader of the late '90s Portland JailBlazers, was arrested for kidnapping:
Rider allegedly got into an argument Wednesday night with the unidentified female acquaintance and drove off with her against her will, Baker said. The woman began to scream, attracting the attention of police. Authorities tracked Rider down early Thursday morning and arrested him, Baker said. The woman was not injured.
Honestly, I'd rather have Ron Artest as a roommate than this guy, (though J.R. has been rumored to have a connection for the good stuff, if you know what I mean.) The most amazing thing is the Rider is only 34, and washed out of the League 5 years ago. What are the F'in Odds of That? Happy trails, Junior.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

As Roger Ebert Might Say...(The Squid and The Whale)

Went and saw The Squid and The Whale yesterday, and I hated, hated, hated this movie (to paraphrase from Ebert's review of "North", which is worth a read on its own for tips on how to give something a thumb's down.)

It's about two kids about 15 and 12, whose parents go through a messy seperation. There isn't a single sympathetic character, with Jeff Daniels potrayal of a pretentious, self-centered professor/failed writer being particularly loathsome. Laura Linney doesn't suck, I suppose. Anna Paquin plays a jail-bait student, but if that's what you want from a movie, rent 25th Hour, which is far, far superior.

But that's just me, maybe it hit a little close to home on certain points. I also don't really dig the wide-eyed nihlism of Wes or P.T. Anderson's films, and this piece was of that genre.

Your mileage may vary, but if you thought Happiness was too much, do not see this film.

As a final note, the film purports to be based on the director's experiences growing up. Which explains why it's so jaded I suppose.

Update: To be clear, it's not the worst movie I've ever seen, that would probably be Sam Alito's favorite, Judge Dredd, ("I am the law!"). But I really can't remember a movie I liked less. I can't emphasise this enough.

Pooh's View: Not worth the NetFlix postage.

Pretty Boy to Boston

So, big trade in the NBA. No, not that one, (might post about Artest-Peja later,) this one Szcerbiak, Olowokandi's collection of bongsartistic glasswork, something called Dwayne Jones and a first round pick for Ricky Davis, Marcus Banks Mark Blount (Blount for Olowokandi? Come on, did Sports Pickle get named GM of the Wolves since I moved?) and Justin Reed (who?)

I've never been a huge fan of Wally. He's a prima donna who's not nearly as good as he thinks he is, is one dimensional, and is easy to shut down. Plus, NBA small forwards having to look at the ball when dribbling behind the back offend. But, in a strange way, it's almost like losing a family member.

Otherwise, dumping Kandi is fantastic. I can't put into words the sheer awfulness of everything about him. Plus, who gets tasered for getting into a bar fight on Thanksgiving?. It's not really a secret that McHale loves Ricky Davis. Blount sucks, but he's better than Olowaskippy. Banks is a nice prospect.

In other T-Pups news, the poster child for not drafting Europeans, Nikloszz Tskivishshshshhsililili to the Suns for a sweaty pair of sox2nd round pick.

As Chuckie B. said on TNT about the first trade, "Well, that'll change the balance of power." (Neither he nor Kenny The Jet were exactly plussed by the announcement. I'd go so far as to describe them as nonplussed. But that's me.)

XWL, You Have Competition

Machiavelli's Cat has a humble suggestion for a solution to the abortion issue.

(H/T: LGM)

Quoted Without Comment

wherein I steal an idea from Bill. Blatantly

By way of Hit&Run comments:
Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll give it a shot.

Say I'm working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. So I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well.

But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never had a problem with get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "Send in the marines to secure the area" 'cause they don't give a shit.

It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number was called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some guy from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes home to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cause he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks.

Meanwhile my buddy from Southie realizes the only reason he was over there was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the skirmish to scare up oil prices so they could turn a quick buck. A cute little ancillary benefit for them but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And naturally they're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic.

So my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive, so he's got to walk to the job interviews, which sucks 'cause the shrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he's starvin' 'cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State.

So what do I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. Why not just shoot my buddy, take his job and give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president.
(original source, of course.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Asshole of the Week: TelCo Twits

In yet another instance of the old guard digging their heels in to prevent all form of broadly based progress by any means neccesary, telecom companies want to charge both ends of the connection:
For the first time, the companies that own the equipment that delivers the Internet to your office, cubicle, den and dorm room could, for a price, give one company priority on their networks over another.
Per usual, we have the forces for progress
For more than a year, public interest groups, including the Consumer Federation and Consumers Union, have been lobbying Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to write the concept called "network neutrality" into law and regulation. Google and Yahoo have joined their lobbying efforts.
arrayed against the old guard of an industry that has the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw, and wants to make sure to extract every last rent from it:
companies like AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth are lobbying just as hard, saying that they need to find new ways to pay for the expense of building faster, better communication networks.
O.K., infrastructure is expensive. But, wait, they already have paying customers to whom they sell internet service. And, cleverly, they can price discriminate on the basis of bandwidth. So what's the problem?
because these new networks will compete with those belonging to Comcast, Time Warner and other cable companies -- which currently have about 55 percent of the residential broadband market -- this will eventually bring down the price of your high-speed Internet service and television access.
It's the competition, stupid. They don't like that. Because then you actually have to spend money to maintain networks, answer customer complaints, and draw business. This money has a much more natural resting place - executive compensation. However, having previosly won the de-regulation fight, they can't turn around and demand rate protection. Undettered, they decide that this means burning the candle at the other end:
The telecommunications companies' proposals have the potential, within just a few years, to alter the flow of commerce and information -- and your personal experience -- on the Internet. For the first time, the companies that own the equipment that delivers the Internet to your office, cubicle, den and dorm room could, for a price, give one company priority on their networks over another.
(Emphasis mine.) Remembering that web-hosting already costs money, this is the equivalent of a local government not just charging property tax on your place of business, but demanding a cut of sales to customers who use to parking meters in front of your store, or perhaps even the road to get there. On top of the money they collect from said meters. Of course, above mentioned executives like private planes and hiring the Black Eyed Peas for their kids Bar Mitvah/Sweet 16's, so
AT&T Chairman Edward E. Whitacre Jr. complained that Internet content providers were getting a free ride: "They don't have any fiber out there. They don't have any wires. . . . They use my lines for free -- and that's bull," he said. "For a Google or a Yahoo or a Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes for free is nuts!''
Well, as I mentioned, Google or whomever is already paying or has payed for the content on their end of the connection. And they are already charging you or I to access that content. To use another analogy, this is the mailman refusing to hand over your paycheck until you make him a silent partner.

Lest you think I'm making too much of this:
But the blog storm over Whitacre's comments had hardly died down when an executive with BellSouth was quoted saying that the company would consider charging Apple five or 10 cents extra each time a customer downloaded a song using iTunes.
Google, which is 2 for 3 this week after this story, gets this one right
Google and others say that the prospect of telephone companies imposing new fees on innovative and successful ventures is exactly the kind of thing that deters online commerce. "If carriers are able to control what consumers do on the Internet, that threatens the model of Internet communications that has been wildly successful," said Alan Davidson, Washington policy counsel for Google.
Google and others say that the prospect of telephone companies imposing new fees on innovative and successful ventures is exactly the kind of thing that deters online commerce. "If carriers are able to control what consumers do on the Internet, that threatens the model of Internet communications that has been wildly successful," said Alan Davidson, Washington policy counsel for Google.

A friend of WAP, who works in the telco industry, gets the final word:

"You are NOT wrong [Pooh: Not that it's for me to decide when I'm not wrong] - it is a VERY VERY VERY bad thing. And no matter how much the telcos try to justify it, it's completely unethical . . . And the telcos whining 'they're getting a free ride' well - that's just bullshit."

Public Service Announcemen: I'm Just Barely Evil

How evil are you?

Carry on.

Update: But apparently, I'm also both sporty and practical:

I'm a Mazda RX-8!

You're sporty, yet practical, and you have a style of your own. You like to have fun, and you like to bring friends along for the ride, but when it comes time for everyday chores, you're willing to do your part.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

(via XWL and John Cole)

Update again, since we're meming:
Your results:
You are Hulk
The Flash
Iron Man
Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
You are a wanderer with
amazing strength.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

So maybe I have a future in Alaskan politics? Or not. My superhero of preference is of course Batman, (the Dark Knight version, not the Adam West tights-and-holy-frijole-Batman edition.)

(via Ahistoritcality)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

AHW: The Winner is Not

Truly a bumper crop this week, so I felt the need to give some recognition to those that may have been worthy in a different week.

  • Joel Stein and Rick Santorum - for crassest use of the troops in search of a punchline and political cover, respectively.
  • Not unrelatedly, myself for throwing XWL under the bus by feeding him to angry Balloon Juice lefties over his take on the above-linked Stein piece. Twice.
  • Ron Artest. You can't demand a trade...and then nix the trade they work out. You just can't do that. People might start thinking you're crazy if you keep this mess up...Though personally, I think this trade sucks for the Pacers. I think Peja would make them worse. But, if they feel they need a decaying, one-dimensional, soft, smelly player who is decidedly non-clutch in the playoffs, who am I to argue?
4. You

Charges: Silently enabling and contributing to the irreversible destruction of your planet. Absolving yourself of your responsibility to do anything about it that your immediate neighbors don’t. Assuming that it’s normal behavior to spend several hours each day totally inert and staring into a cathode ray tube. Substituting antidepressants for physical motion. Caring more about the personal relationships of people you will never meet than your own. Shrugging your shoulders at the knowledge that your government is populated by criminal liars intent on fooling you into impoverished, helpless submission. Cheering this process on.

Exhibit A: You don’t even know who your congressman is.

Sentence: Deathbed realization that your entire life was an unending series of stupid mistakes and wasted opportunities, a priceless gift of potential extravagantly squandered, for which you deserve nothing but scorn or, at best, indifference, and a cold, meaningless demise.
I do too know who my congressman is. I resent that part of it.

For two guys watching history unfold, my father and I weren't exactly high-fiving in the living room or anything. The game made me feel the same way I felt while watching "March of the Penguins." I had always wondered what a penguin's life was like; once I knew how depressing it was, I wanted to sit in my garage with the car running. Sometimes it's almost better not to know these things. And Kobe's 81-point game was a little like that. For a perimeter player to score that many points, you have to hog the ball to a degree that's almost disarming to watch; it almost stops resembling a basketball game. More than Kobe's rising point total, Dad and I found ourselves fascinated by his icy demeanor, the lack of excitement by the guys on the Lakers bench, even the dysfunctional way that his teammates were killing themselves going for rebounds and steals to get him more shots.

. . .

When an exhausted Kobe reached 81 and appeared barely able to stay on his feet, the Lakers removed him to a standing ovation, as well as half-hearted hugs and high-fives from his teammates (all of whom will be disciplined this week from Mitch Kupchak for not celebrating joyously enough). The best reaction belonged to Jackson, who seemed amused, supportive and somewhat horrified, like how Halle Berry's husband probably looked after sitting through his first screening of "Monster's Ball." The second-best reaction belonged to my Dad, who listened to Kobe's postgame interview with Patrick O'Neal and excitedly said, "Wait, how can you score 81 points and not thank your teammates?" Not since Hilary Swank snubbed then-husband Chad Lowe at the 2000 Oscars have we seen something that blatantly egocentric. And look how they turned out.
Grossly unfair? Absolutely. Of course, I feel the same way myself...

Winner tommorow, I promise.

Remiss in Not Ripping Greg Paulus Sooner

Fletcher reminds me that I have not discussed Doooooks loss to G'Town on Saturday. He's right, mostly because I only saw the last 8 minutes. Saturday morning + 4 hour time difference will do that. I will say that from what I saw, 2 of the 3 "Duke losing" conditions were met. Sheldon had fould trouble and 4 points. Paulus may have scored 14, but he was awful, several big TO's and got burned repeatedly on D. JJ was slightly better than the 4-15 I would have predicted (41 is ok, though ho-hum this week...), but he made many, many whiny faces (especially after Paulus tried to slalom dribble through the GT coaching staff instead of getting Shooter the ball down 3)

Hopefully this satisfies my responsibilities. But Fletch, I know you're a former DC denizens, but 'Horns or Hoyas, pick one...

Game. Set.

I haven't said much about the whole NSA wiretapping thing here for a few reasons. First, I'm slightly tired of it. Second, at least 4 blogs I visit regularly discuss it with frequency, so if I want to head-butt a wall, I know where to go. Third, the legal issue is pretty clear, and pretty clearly defined (W broke the law unless the law can't apply to him). Fourth, I just get pissed off by the false characterization of my position as objectively pro-terrorist, or some such nonsense. It's ridiculous. It's mendacious, and it's whole purpose is to defect attention from the meritless arguments for legality. Finally, others are much better at taking blowtorches to the fatuous defenses being offered on a daily basis.

Glenn Greenwald, in particular, has made a habit of returning the administrations shots, with interest. Today he makes like Roger Federer on the latest talking points:

So as of June, 2002 -- many months after the FISA bypass program was ordered -- the DoJ official who was responsible for overseeing the FISA warrant program was not aware (at least when he submitted this Statement) of any difficulties in obtaining warrants under the FISA "probable cause" standard, and for that reason, the Administration would not even support DeWine's amendment. If - as the Administration is now claiming - they had such significant difficulties obtaining the warrants they wanted for eavesdropping that they had to go outside of FISA, surely Baker - who was in charge of obtaining those warrants - would have been aware of them. And, if the Administration was really having the problems under FISA, they would have supported DeWine's Amendment. But they didn't.

The second concern the Administration expressed with DeWine's amendment was that it was quite possibly unconstitutional:

The Department's Office of Legal Counsel is analyzing relevant Supreme Court precedent to determine whether a "reasonable suspicion" standard for electronic surveillance and physical searches would, in the FISA context, pass constitutional muster. The issue is not clear cut, and the review process must be thorough because of what is at stake, namely, our ability to conduct investigations that are vital to protecting national security. If we err in our analysis and courts were ultimately to find a "reasonable suspicion" standard unconstitutional, we could potentially put at risk ongoing investigations and prosecutions.

By that time, the Administration had already been engaging in eavesdropping outside of the parameters of FISA, and yet the DoJ itself was expressing serious doubts about the constitutionality of that eavesdropping and even warned that engaging in it might harm national security because it would jeopardize prosecutions against terrorists. Put another way, the DoJ was concerned that it might be unconstitutional to eavesdrop with a lower standard than probable cause even as the Administration was doing exactly that.

Emphasis mine. Read the whole thing if so inclined.

Update via Louise:

AG Gonzales gave a speech defending the NSA program at Georgetown law today. It did not go quite according to plan:

But as the attorney general tried to convey that the extraordinary circumstances of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks justified the program, the protesters turned to one of America's Founding Fathers for their rebuttal.

"Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither" -- a paraphrase of a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin -- had been scrawled in capital letters on a sign that required four protesters to hold it up.

Gonzales didn't acknowledge the sign nor did he stop his speech as 22 protesters, including the four with the sign, stood with their backs to him during the address. Five protesters left the room during the speech.

Good on you, kids. (Photos via AP by way of Dependable Renegade.)

This Is Stupid

For those of you who don't know, the New York Times is trying to squeeze every last drop from these here internets by requiring a subscription few for "premium content" (sports, news, op-eds). Leaving aside the question that "the New York Times does sports?" and why someone would need to pay for this info since every other daily paper in creation is free on the web, the results have been underwhelming, so they've started a blog to discuss what to change about the service...and put it behind the subscription firewall. Apparently, the business manager went to B-school with the record exec who greenlighted CD's that don't work in CD players. My gramma, whose VCR is blinking 12:00 as we speak, could do a better job taking advantage of the digital medium.

(H/T: Andrew Sullivan)

Don't Drive Angry

Or at least don't blog when caffeinated and annoyed. XWL, are we still friends, post rant?

Update: XWL has graciously updated and clarified. I thank him for that, though I think he is mistaken as to the Afghanistan issue. I don't know where this idea comes from that the Democratic base does not like to blow things up real good. We too are children of Castle Wolfenstein, GoldenEye and Halo, (though Missile Command was always my favorite, back in the day. Well, that and Super DodgeBall. When you get down to it, largely the same game with different animations. But I digress...) I'd like to think that we would have managed to catch OBL in Tora Bora and put his head on the proverbial pike. Giving credit where it is due, aside from the above snafu, Afghanistan is the one Bush policy that can be viewed as largely succesful to my mind - the people seem to be for us about 7-1 (sorry, no link, read a poll to that effect somewhere yesterday.)

Monday, January 23, 2006


Been awhile since I checked in on The 'Stache. How has it stayed the same wispy length for two months?

Anyway, Morrison has 16 with 10:28 left in the first. No wait, he just found the DoubleDribble hotspot, faded out of bounds and hit from 23. 19 with 9:30 in the 1st.

Update: He just pulled up from off the screen with a guy in his face. 24 at the 8:00 timeout.

Ok, he took a three minute blow, back in with 5:08. Still has 24.

During a TV timeout, via Deadspin, an open letter to Kobe. From Luke Ridnour.

Back to A-Mo. Couple throws with 2:08 left, 26 for the half. This is actually a decent game aside from the StacheFactor.

Erg, missed about 4 straight shots to end the half Zags 45 San Francisco 40. How are you going to get 60 if you keep missing these off-balance runners, Adam?

Second Half: We just learned that J.P. Batista bench presses 330. Which means 20 pounds less than Earl Boykins. Zero points for our guy in the first 5 minutes of half number 2. Yawn.

12:32 - tough pull-up to stop a USF run 53-52 Zags, 28 for AM.

11:05 - 2 guys hanging on him, andone from 12. Big shot. Oh boy, Larry Bird highlights during the timeout. Simmer. Down. FT gives him 31. 58-54 Zags.

10:00 - Egregious push off leads to an offensive rebound, and a tear drop half hook in traffic. 33. 60-54

2:57 Left - Tough 8 foot baseline runner gives him 37. 71-65 Zags.

0:12.6 to go - 41 for Stache as he leaves with the zags up 9. After Kobe, I'm disappointed he ended up with 41. 84-75, Zags, final.


Belated congrats to the sharp-minded (and even sharper-tongued) Frankie for not letting the bastards get her down and getting her PhD. Good work, doc.

Apple 1. Sony - [LotsnLots]

After complaints arose concerning the "phone home" feature on the iTunes mini-store, it took the company a whopping 2 weeks to address the problem:
The Cupertino, California-based company last Tuesday switched the so-called "MiniStore" feature to give users the choice of turning it on, rather than having it automatically activate with its new version update of iTunes.

The company introduced the recommendation feature two weeks ago. The MiniStore window pane with music or video suggestions pops up as users play songs from their libraries.
As opposed to Sony and the rest of the RIAA hacks, who say nothing or actively try to cover up the problem. Listening to the customer (who, incidentally, pays your salary): Brilliant!

Putting an Old Dog Down

Yesterday, we learned that this season will be The West Wing's last. Given the declining ratings and changed time slot (it's rarely a good sign for a show when its slot gets changed, especially when they move it from a glamour spot like Wednesday night to the wasteland of Sunday evening), this is hardly a surprise, and given John Spencer's death last month seemed inevitable.

While I'm sad to see the show go, it is not that much of a loss in its present state. Ever since Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme left after the 4th season (leaving us with that egregious "24"ish cliffhanger) the show has only fitfully reached the heights of the first four seasons. In fact, were I to pick my top ten episodes, there is exactly one from the last season which makes the list:

10. The Midterms. First episode after the two-part season two premiere. Not really a great episode overall, but Bartlett's ending rant against a "Christian" radio host was not only good tv, but more or less encapsulates the way I feel about much of organized religion.

9. Celestial Navigation. Season 1, Josh's Secret Plan to Fight Inflation, Toby and Sam have to bail an angry Supreme Court nominee out of jail. Hijinks ensue.

8. In Excelsis Deo. Season 1 Christmas. The homeless guy with Toby's jacket gets found. Would be higher if I hadn't seen it 300 times, I think. Bonus points for Lt. Daniels from "The Wire" (or the actor, Lance Reddick) making an appearance.

7. Two Cathedrals. I always thought the show was best when it used flashbacks, and the young Bartlet + Ms. Landingham bit was priceless. Martin Sheen got to use his Latin, which is always nice. Good non-cliffhanger cliffhanger as well (If you payed attention, of course he's running again.

6. The Supremes. The best post-Sorkin Episode. Of course, hard to go too far wrong with Glenn Close and William Fichtner as your fictional Supreme Court nominees. Fichtner's character is what the optimist in me hopes John Roberts to be.

5. Isaac and Ishamel. The post 9-11 special episode. Good enough on its own merits, but when you add in that it went from concept to airing in under 3 weeks, a pretty amazing accomplishment.

4. In The Shadow of Two Gunmen. Season 2 premiere. Ok it's really two episodes. So I cheated. But the flashbacks of how the band gets together are fun, especially C.J.'s diatribe at the studio head. Wherein I find it appropriate to mention that movie sales are down because the movies, "they were all bad."

3. Bartlet for America. Leo's best episode, and essentially the Christmas episode from season 3. Bittersweet watching it now, even moreso listening to the DVD commentary track featuring John Spencer, who's personal history gave him some insight into Leo's relapse. Nice payoff from "Noel", a guy falls into a hole.

2. Noel - Season 2 Christmas episode. Or "The One with Yo-Yo Ma". Even without the Josh needs therapy plotline, Yo-Yo Ma is in it.

1. Holy Night - The Christmas episode from season 4. The one where Toby's dad shows, the ex-gangster, shows up to visit. Sorkin always brought the big guns to bear on the Christmas Episodes (all 4 are represented here) yet this was the best.

Update: Via Jake, WaPo has a piece on the show coming to an end:
Martin Sheen, who has played our fantasy president for seven seasons, was asked to reflect on what the show has meant to the country over the years.

"We can be very cynical about the people that lead us," he said, adding that he hoped the show managed "to make people realize that being a public servant is an honor . . . and that so many good and decent people do it and never get any credit."

"We were a fantasy but we had a parallel universe to reality," he continued. That changed radically, he said, when the Bush administration came into office and then 9/11 happened and "the country moved much further away from the center and we felt we were dead in the center and we gave everyone a fair shot."

Sunday, January 22, 2006



On 46 shots.* In a game that was competitive until he had about 65 upon further review, at least 72. I still hate you,** Mamba, but respect. Since the suspension for neck-boning Mike Miller, Kobe is averaging 45.5 on 49% shooting. I can really only echo XWL and say "Sick". Oh, and apparently, suck it Bill Simmons.

There must have been something in the water tonight, as both FrodoLuke Ridnour and Raja Bell scored 30+. (In what looks like it was a phenomenal game)

*Generally speaking 1.3 or so points per shot attempt is acceptable. Over 1.7, over a large number of shots, is ludicrous.

** especially since you've apparently convinced the LeBrons that wearing tights is ok. You wear shorts to play basketball. Otherwise, how would the fans know that you shaved your legs before the game? (Not that there's anything...)

A Book Bleg

In pursuit of of my book-a-week goal...I need suggestions for books. I'm fine as far as finding sports or literature/fiction. But I'd like tips for good starting places on a topic I'd like to read more: Philosophy and/or political philosophy. I have a hard enough time unpacking why I think what I think, and trying to figure out how people who disagree with me come to their conclusions is a worthwhile undertaking, I feel. So, fire away.

A Few Changes

Since blogger doesn't let you do categories (or, if you do it, it's "terrifyingly super-kludgy" according to my nerdier friends, whatever that means), I'm trying to do a little housekeeping by backlinking through the topic headings to the right. So, if you really care about the music I was listening to in, say mid-October, it will be easier to find.

Plus I have just a touch of OCD...

Carry on.


Sebby outs both the Kaiser and myself. As drinkers of non-manly beverages. At least I won't get locked up for anonymously naming people Asshole of the week.

(cross posted at 6'2")

Glory Road: Best. Drinking Game Movie. Ever.

Have you ever gone on a long road trip and passed some of the time playing some sort of "name game"? How about the "cliche game", which resembles the interaction between Lt. Kaffee and Luther the Kiosk Guy in A Few Good Men?

Well, if you recognize that experience, then you probably have some insight into the writing process for Glory Road. Every sports movie cliche ever, and I mean EVER is shoehorned in. Not content with that, we also get our fill of classic Bruckheimer camera flyby's, and a smattering of hoary hollywood set-pieces. In fact, these cliches come so thick and fast that if one were to play a drinking game set to the tired old chestnuts, even a fratboy would be hard pressed to make it past 30 minutes.

There's the "Big Game", the "My Way or the High Way" speech, the "Kick the kid off the team before he comes back and becomes an important contributor." And of course "Big mama makes sure her boy does his homework". There's even John Voigt, semi-reprising his role as vaguely hitlerian coach from Varsity Blues, this time as legendary (and legendarily racist) Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp.

That being said, I didn't hate the movie. There's not enough of substance to hate, plus the basketball scenes were well done. And perhaps the best part was the interviews with the actual Texas Western players and coaches (as well as Kentucky's Pat Riley) which played over the end credits, along with some archival footage. Which demonstrates that Riley indeed got dunked on to open the game.

Pooh's View: Netflix worthy, but you're crazy if you pay full price. ($9.25 at the theatre I went to...)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

It's Not Personal. It's Business.

Normally, such things are hyperbolic and uniteresting. But this one is hyperbolic and funny. Well done.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Double Feature: A History of Violence & The Aristocrats

I'm something of a movie snob. Not neccesarily in my tastes, but in the whole movie "experience". I like going to the theatre, sinking into a chair that I only wish they'd put on an airplane with a vat of bubbly cavity-juice in one hand and a bucket of lightly popcorned salt in the other. (But no butter. My first job was at a movie theatre, and one of the tasks was to clean the butter machine at the end of the night. I think it was made from the same substance as the Water-Monster in The Abyss. So, thankyouno.)

But I've begun to enjoy the "dinner theatre" movie experience. First, it's cheaper. Second "a glass'a'beer". Third, the long lost art of the double feature. Such as the twin bill of A History of Violence and The Aristocrats. A weirder double, I cannot imagine. Maybe consecutive showings of "A Room With a View" and "Natural Born Killers?"

Anyway, AHOV. Meh. The first third of the movie sets a nice tone of menace in a small town, but from there, I think it goes of the rails and into my Charles Smith memorial "Million dollar move, ten cent finish" Hall of Non-Fame for movies which have interesting premises and/or set-ups and then fail to deliver. Other entries include Wolf, From Dusk til Dawn, and taken as a trilogy, The Matrix trilogy. Alternatively, there are the pieces of three different films, none of which go together especially well, though the final third gives you an idea of what it would have been like had Jet Li played Aragorn. And there's a very aggressive sex scene for no real reason.

The being said, The Aristocrats was stupendous. 3 minutes in, I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to drink the aforementioned glass of beer because I was laughing so hard. And this is a movie where arguably the biggest laughs are produced by Bob Saget, (which if you watch Entourage is not a total shock) and Gilbert Gottfried. If you don't know, the premise of the movie is the oral (I use the word advisedly) history of one particular joke. And it's a crap joke, but the humor is in the way the various comedians fill the space between the setup and the punchline. Of course, I must warn that if you are sensitive to profanity, your mileage may most assuredly vary, as Tarantino would be ashamed of the language in the film. The tagline captures the essence pretty well: "No Nudity. No Violence. Unspeakable Obscenity."

Antonio Davis Runs Around the House.

Or so might Sam Cassell sayeth

Jackie Christie, Meet Kendra Davis. Kendra Davis, Jackie Christie. There might be a new Sheriff in CrazyWife Town. I'm just saying. All you need to know is she got in Latrell Sprewell's face during a game. You remember, the guy who choked his coach? (Spree might not my first pick of opponents, size differences aside. Lest we forget, a few years ago he broke is hand in altercation aboard his yacht.)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Return of The(o) Mack

The Prodigal son has returned:
The most successful general manager in franchise history will rejoin the Red Sox baseball operations department in a full-time -- but otherwise unspecified -- position. His long-rumored return comes 2½ months after he fled Fenway Park in a gorilla suit.

"As you know, we have spoken frequently during the last 10 weeks," the team and Epstein said in a joint statement on Thursday night. "We have engaged in healthy, spirited debates about what it will take over the long term for the Red Sox to remain a great organization and, in fact, become a more effective organization in philosophy, approaches and ideals.
Perhpaps ironically, the Ford commercial set to "Return of the Mack" was playing on TV when I first saw this item, and that song and "Hey-Yah", about sum up my reaction.

Now, Theo, get us a CF and a SS.

David Stern's Sticky Wicket

By now, you've all seen Antonio Davis hopping into the stands during last night's game because some yahoo was messing with his wife, (who according to reports, is not entirely blameless, but that is neither here nor there.) The question in this post-Palace Brawl league, what now? I'm on the record as saying that I thought Artest getting dinged for the season was excessive (though not as excessive as Jermaine O'Neal's suspension - if you come on the court, and get decked, tough cookies, I say. Remember the Gamboa's, father and son?) But with that precedent, was does DS do here? ESPN set's the morning line at 8 games. I think that is excessive. What do you think?

Update: 5 Games. I can live with that, though maybe a touch excessive. Scoop Jackson, in an otherwise not especially cogent column makes the point that without the Melee in the Motor City, this is a non-issue. Well, that could be true, it might not be. But it is certainly counterfactual - this is a new world. For an example of how an athlete should handle the situation, look to Gary Sheffield (how does BalcoBoy #3 become the poster child for restraint, BTW?). Alternatively, look to the security arrangements in Fenway, and whatever they were doing that neither the United Center nor the Palace seemed capable of.

Mana From PR Heaven: Schiavo Redux?

With the stories of the day concerning wiretapping, corruption, Medicare Part D and suing google for search results (more on the last later), what would be best for, erm, certain people, (OK, Hillary and Ray Nagin might be ok with the timing as well) if it became a cause celebre?
Last fall, Haleigh was hospitalized after her stepfather allegedly burned her and beat her nearly to death with a baseball bat. Haleigh, in a coma, was kept alive by a feeding tube and ventilator. Doctors said she was “virtually brain dead”—in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery.

The Massachusetts Department of Social Services wanted to remove Haleigh’s feeding and breathing tubes.


The only person who wanted Haleigh alive was her stepfather, who will likely be charged with murder if Haleigh dies.
Of course, this means she should be kept alive. By an act of Congress if neccesary. Compare, if you will, the case which caused me to initiate the AHW Awards, that of Tirhas Habtegiris:
Tirhas Habtegiris, a 27-year-old terminal cancer patient at Baylor Regional Medical Center in Plano, Texas, was removed from her ventilator last month because she couldn't pay her medical bills. The hospital gave Ms. Habtegiris' family 10 days' notice, and then, with the bills still unpaid, withdrew her life support on the 11th day. It took Ms. Habtegiris about 15 minutes to die.
It's not like you could have called it beforehand, could you?

Update: Upon further reflection, this sums up my thoughts pretty nicely:
I’d strangle her myself if it would get everybody aside from her mother to shut the fuck up about it.
Considering that the poor girl might be improving that seems wise (except for the strangling part. That was meant as hyperbole. I think. You can never be sure these days.) But why in the Halls of Valhalla should Stepdaddy McConvict have any say in the matter?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Asshole of the Week: Taking a Bat to the Golden Goose

Via Joe, amongst others, I find that Major League Baseball, using its own inimintable brand of logic, is at it again:
After long ignoring the fantasy movement, Major League Baseball entered the business in 2001. Last year, baseball ordered game operators to obtain a license before plugging player statistics into software that runs their games. Now, a Missouri company, CBC Distribution & Marketing, has responded by suing baseball in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, alleging that it had no right to demand that operators be licensed.
In the modern cable world, what are the two things which drive interest in athletic leagues the most? Were I to guess, I would say gambling and fantasy sports. Obviously, a league can't cozy up to gambling interests, (though I would suggest that anyone who gambles on baseball is either Pete Rose or out of their mind, or both, given the high degree of day-to-day randomness involved in baseball results. There are two parameters which define a systematic approach to gambling: expectation and variance. It's hard enough to beat the oddsmakers in terms of expectation. Increasing the variance through increased randomness of individual outcome makes the likelihood of going broke that much higher. Not that I know anything about gambling for money...but I digress)

So that leaves fantasy sports. Naturally, MLB has decided to discourage fantasy sports by charging a licensing fee. Yes, they are taxing their fans. As if Personal Seating Licenses, municipal stadium initiatives and 8 DOLLAR BUD LIGHTS are not enough. Not only is this greedy, it's stupid, and it will be darn right impossible to enforce. It's almost as if baseball is trying to lose its 'exemption' from the antitrust laws. Of course if drive of all of your customers, the Sherman Act is the least of your worries.

Never ones to be left behind, the Player's Association has jumped in as well:
[T]he Players’ Association has intervened as a defendant and is asserting counterclaims against CBC for breach of contract, and is asserting defenses against declaratory judgment based on terms of the previous license. The Players’ Association has moved for summary judgment.
Because my roto team should be another marketing opportunity for Barry Bonds Brand "Flackseed Oil (so far as you know) Supplement". Seriously, will people who don't live in (or support teams from) NYC, Boston, LAofAnaheim, Chicago or Atlanta even care about baseball if they can't play free fantasy sports? The SlatRat certainly wouldn't if she had to pay much for her beloved (and bedraggled) Wool Sox. (Closed circuit to Steph: this site might be a good place for scouting info on the Wool Sox "morals clause." Let's just say that they have the best clubhouse in all of fantasy sports...)

Daniel Drezner has more...

An offer I Can't Refuse

Ok, I know that stuff like this is pretty much costless, but what's the point?
hi sethypooh21
I saw your pic on line and you are hot
add me to msn messenger my is hottielikesguys

and lets have fun there

Wqb Knbq Mwv Vtd Fytmhiupd
Efj Llflxsm
Olga Janice
Olive Jasmine
Olympia Jazlyn

Opal Jazzy
Has anyone, ever answered that? In any way? Or am I receiving some sort of code?

Update 1/20: And this is why you don't blog angry, not that there's anything wrong with that.

New Years Resolution Book #1: Assasins' Gate

So, I knew from the start that endeavoring to read 50 books in 52 weeks was asking a lot of myself, considering the pressures of work, beer, TV, beer, movies, beer and XBox (still vanilla, no 360 yet...) I don't think I helped my cause by taking such a large bite first. The Assassin's Gate is an unflinching look into the second Iraq war, starting with an overview of the underpinnings of the neoconservative ideology espoused by Wolfowitcz and Feith, continuing with the actual war planning (and, of course the absence of post war planning) moving on to the insurgency, and the effects felt here in the U.S.

The meat of the book deals with the situation on the ground, from the perspetive of both Iraqis of all stripes (Sunni and Shiite; Arab and Kurd) and classes, as well as Americans civilian and military. Chapter after chapter illustrates how truly ill-prepared we were to do any sort of reconstruction.

Packer's early ambivalence towards the invasion, and later disgust at the occupation are clear, but rarely overpowering. It's hard to really identify a hero of the piece - one of Packer's earliest and more sympathetic subjects is Iraqi expat author Kanan Makiya, yet his idealism carries much of the blame for the postwar incompetence: It was he who told Bush that U.S. soldiers would be greeted "with sweets and flowers." There are villains aplenty, however, from radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr (portrayed as a brutal and opportunistic fraud), to Paul Bremer, to of course Donald Rumsfeld.

Ultimately, Packer lays much of the blame at the feet of the Adminsitration. In the epilogue, he sums up much of what came before:
Swaddled in abstract ideas, convinced of their own righteousness, incapable of self-criticism, indifferent to accountability, they turned a difficult undertaking into a needlessly deadly one. When things went wrong, they found other people to blame. The Iraq war was always winnable; it still is. For this very reason, the recklessness of its authors is all the harder to forgive.
Pooh sez: Read it all. Be prepared to be made angry.

Next up: Lies, Damn Lies and Red Sox ("Mind Game" by the people who run Baseball Prospectus.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Make a Movie List? Twist My Arm...

Rob at LGM passes along an intersting conceit for a movie list:
You have to explain America to someone from not here, but you can only use ten movies to do it. Which ten do you choose?

The idea is not to give them a history lesson, so you don't have to start with The New World and end with Jarhead.

What you're trying to do is give them a sense of who we are---your take on our dreams, our attitudes, our idioms, what we think we are, what we are afraid we are, what we really might be.
In no particular order

1. Contact - the tension between Science and Faith is one of the defining features of America, hasn't it always been thus?

2. Office Space/Fight Club - different takes on a similar theme: the anonymity and dehumanising aspects of being a worker bee in McWorld.

3. ...And Justice For All - It's a farce. It's the legal system. It's a farce about our legal system. But it has a lot to say about the conflict between those with 'an in' and those without.

4. Dirty Harry - now that 'the West' is gone, this is the iconic portrayal of the American Badass. We still have a whole lot of "make my day" in our character, don't we?

5. Reality Bites - "Define Irony". Depressed, under employed, over educated, bitter twentysomethings. Sounds like a few people I know.

6. The Big Chill - What happened to our youth/life/dreams?

7. Miracle/Hoosiers - American Character triumphs over adversity, pulling victory from the jaws of defeat.

8. 8 Mile/Walk the Line/Ray/[Insert biopic] - Rags to riches.

9. Do the Right Thing - Still the best movie about race in America.

10. Wall Street - Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works.

Our Long National Nightmare is Over

ESPN just reported that Slappy McPatriotic has decided to play for the U.S., not his 'native' Dominican Republic. In the upcomng World Baseball Classic. (He was born in NYC.) I'll sleep better tonight knowing who will hit 4 homeruns vs. Italy, but leave the bases loaded twice and commit 3 errors vs. Cuba, should they be allowed to play.

"I'm gonna tell ya ... if I see this guy Bill Simmons, oh, it's gonna be a problem with me and him ..."

Isaiah Thomas, Worst. General. Manager. Ever. calls out the Sports Guy. Read the whole thing. Do it now. And then cast your vote as to Quien es Mas Macho. A few of the comments on the poll link are priceless:
Isaiah thomas wins obviously but i think the following poll questions could be better:

who do New Yorkers back up in the fight?

Bill Simmons or Thomas (Simmons)

who do knick players back up in the fight?

Bill Simmons or Thomas (Simmons)

you get where i am going with this? in fact i think the only people who help thomas are other NBA GMs because Thomas always make them the 2nd, 3rd, 4th worst GM in the NBA or allow them to say "well at least i didn't do what Thomas did i n NY"

Somebody get the popcorn...

Update 1/18: Isaiah wins, by a surprisingly slim 54-46 margin. By the transitive property of macho, Mark Cuban could kick Zeke's ass. [CheapShot]But at least Simmons is outpolling the Prez.[/CheapShot]

Monday, January 16, 2006

An Uplifting Link

Audio files of many of MLK's speeches can be found here. Additional fies available here.

Steven Jobs, WTF?

My latest newsletter from The Electronic Freedom Foundation ("This newsletter is printed on 100% recycled electrons. " Chuckles.) contains two interesting items. The first involves the normally customer-conscious Apple getting one badly wrong:
This week at MacWorld, Apple unveiled version 6.0.2 of iTunes, which it simply claimed "includes stability and performance improvements over iTunes 6.0.1." Among these so- called improvements is the Apple iTunes MiniStore—a localized "recommendation" engine that would look at what you listen to and then suggest additional songs and artists you might like. The MiniStore arrives turned on by default without asking a user's permission first.

However, as news reports have revealed this week, it appears that the MiniStore also automatically transmits your listening information over the Internet back to the Apple Mothership.
What Apple does with this information is unknown, although Apple has represented that it is not collecting data on its users—yet. Nor has Apple disclosed the steps it takes to prevent disclosure or leakage of the information to third parties.

Ironically, this news comes on the heels of the recent Sony BMG DRM fiasco, a part of which included an undisclosed "phone home" feature of its own. While the Apple MiniStore isn't a rootkit DRM, it is part of a dangerous trend EFF has been witnessing in the digital music space market. When companies like Apple and Sony BMG start adjusting or installing software to micro-monitor our personal and private actions, even under the rubric of convenience, it is just one short stop down the road toward attempting to condition and control our behavior. All it takes is an enforcement protocol to turn recommendations into restrictions overnight.

If companies like Apple are truly about user empowerment, they must watch this trend closely and remain on the right side of it. Allowing users to upload information voluntarily and expressly with adequate privacy protections is pro-user; surreptitiously siphoning it into a remote database without any privacy guarantees is not. It's time for Apple to pick a side of the line and walk it.

Note: You can turn off the Apple MiniStore by hitting Shift- Command-M, or choose Edit: Hide MiniStore. EFF recommends that iTunes users do so until Apple at least comes clean about its MiniStore data practices.
(Emphasis mine.) As the article notes, they should know better. A recomendation engine is a sweet idea, but this seems overly intrustive, especially considering the opacity involved with the process. I'm less concerned than EFF about the 1984ish aspects of this, (nerd joke alert) but simple concern for unwanted, unneeded and unacknowledged collection of
private information is raised.

In contrast, we get news of record companies learning to roll with distribution models which taken advantage of technological innovation, rather than attempting to stifle it:
There's a new trend underway among indie labels, dubbed "digital vinyl": offering free MP3 downloads for customers who buy albums on vinyl. First Merge Records offered free downloads to those who bought vinyl releases by Clientele and Robert Pollard. Now Saddle Creek Records has announced that it will do the same thing for its customers who prefer vinyl, starting with What the Toll Tells, the new record by Two Gallants due in February.

For a variety of reasons, vinyl has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity among music fans. Unfortunately, music fans who own turntables and iPods find themselves in a bit of a quandry.

Who cares, you say? How many people could that be, you say? Well, smart independent labels aren't asking those questions. Instead, they are trying to make their customers happy, even the vinyl-loving, iPod-equipped ones.

Quite a stark contrast to the likes of EMI and Sony BMG, whose copy-protected CDs are stopping music fans from getting their CDs into their iPods.
Now I'm not a vinylphile myself, but this is an obvious example of responding to customer desires rather than attempting to dictate adherence to an outdated distribution model.

Vince Young Will Suck in the NFL.

There, I said it. All you recent bandwagon jumpers out there take note.

As for people wondering why nobody in the NFL runs the option, coming soon to a stadium near you, Vince Young gets Blowed Up (and yes, I'm dumping the stock too...) Seriously, when the guy trying to tackle you is Matt Leinart's Wingman/Roommate, that's a slightly different beast then an Ed Reed or a Brian Urlacher. Remember, MLWRs made the offenses of Fresno State and Our Lady of Insufferable Alumni look like that of the ColtsSeahawks.

Consider, as frequent commenter Icepick has some good reasons to be skeptical about Vinsanity as an NFL signal-caller:
VY was also the most dominant physical presence on the field when his team had the ball. There wasn't even anyone close to his level. But what happens when he is up against a fair NFL defense? ALL of the athletes he will be facing will be tougher than almost anyone he would play against in college. And when he facing a team like the Bucs or the Bears? There will be several athletes on the defensive side of the ball almost as good as he is, if not better, from an athletic point of view. Will he be able to keep his poise in when he ISN'T far and away the best athlete on the field?

A lot of the QBs that go at the very top of the draft have dominated in college because of their superior athletic ability. But take a guy like Brady, who was a good QB at a good school. Brady probably wasn't the best athlete on his own team . . . So he never had the luxury of being able to take over a game solely by his athletic ability. He had to make correct decisions under fire when he wasn't the best guy out there.

And that, of course, is what playing QB in the NFL is all about. Even a lot of the great QBs in the NFL haven't been domina[nt] athletic presences.

. . .

All of these QBs had physical gifts that most of us can't imagine, but none of those guys would have been in the NFL if they weren't QBs. Those guys weren't going the Matt Jones route. But all of them were superior decision makers, especially under duress.

Even the extremely talented QBs who are great (think Elway as the best example), were great decision makers under fire. And those incredibly athletic QBs who had great athletic ability but not great decision making ability (think R. Cunningham, who was good but not great) just weren't contenders for Canton.

Consider, who are the recent QB's VY is most like? I'd probably start with Tommy Frazier or Michael Bishop. Maybe Eric Crouch. Except that the only one of those guys to even get a cup of coffee in the League (as a QB), Bishop, had an absolute canon for an arm, not the rubber-band/slingshot attached to Vince. Mike Vick you ask? Well first of all, if we are making a list of the most-overrated players in major sports, isn't Vick at or near the top of any list? Second, see above comment about arm-strength.

What are some of the other comaprisons? Kordell Stewart? (SLASH!) In the interest of not stereotyping based on race, Steve Young? Well, it may just be an issue of maturity and polish, but Steve Young certainly seems like a much smarter guy. (By way of comparison, McNabb had similar poise.) How many succesful NFL quarterbacks are not somewhat articulate when interviewed? Further, Steve played for several years on horrible Bucs teams without getting benched - how many years will Vince have before he is either broken (see Vick or Archie Manning) or declared a bust? And then Steve won the lottery and landed on the last of the Pre-Cap NFL dynasties - a great O-Line, Roger Craig/Ricky Watters and Tom Rathman in the backfield. Rice, John Taylor and a pre-attitude T.O. at receiver. A genius coach. Will Vince have any of those pieces at any point during his career?

Perhaps the best comparison is the one 'Pick ended with - Randall Cunningham, right down to the glacial throwing motion. (Who was the last succesful side-arm quarterback? No, David Carr does not count). Except for one magical season with the Vikes, Cunningham's performances could best be described by the British expression "flattering to deceive".

Now, Vince Young is not the "next Randall Cunningham," he's the first Vince Young. Given my recent probnosticating travails, I may have annointed him the next great one. (BTW, my one prediction from this past weekend? "Joey Porter is an idiot. 45-10 Colts.". Well, I'll take a 1 of 2 on that one...)

But there is a reason Reggie Bush was consisered the best player all season - he was the best player all season. Many people have one great game (Ryan Fitzpatrick, anyone?) and people lose their minds.