Friday, October 29, 2004
Based on very recent performances, then, Pedro is still a top-flight starter when properly motivated, but he is unlikely to be a successful closer. Of course, it's pretty unlikely that anyone would ask him to be a closer. Even if the Giants still had to toss Herges out there to close games, they would prefer to have Pedro as a starter.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Fellow driver, you know that light on your dash? That pretty blue one? That pretty, bright blue one? Guess what: it is not, contrary to your apparent belief, an indicator light advising you that you have turned your headlights on. No. Oh no.
IT MEANS YOUR HIGH BEAMS ARE BLINDING EVERYONE COMING TOWARD YOU!
I don't feel better yet. Drat.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Let U, C, I, S, and F be integers between 1 and 9, reflecting, respectively, comparative levels of Urgency, Complexity, Importance, Skill and Frequency in a given set of circumstances. A, which stands for Aggravation, must apparently be set to 0.7. The likelihood of Murphy's Law applying under any particular set of circumstances, on a scale of 0 to 8.6 (no, I don't know why) is:
[((U + C + I) x ((10 - S))/20] x A x 1/(1 - sin(F/10)).
According to the New Yorker article, the study was based on a survey of 1,023 mishaps, and found that bad things happen at the most inopportune time at a statisitically significant rate. The shower will turn cold when you're covered with soap rates a 6.0, whereas the likelihood that you will be stuck in traffic when you're already late rates a 7.3. The likelihood that the Sox will screw up? 7.4.
I leave it to you to find new applications for this stunning breakthrough.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Before you remove those lumpy US-spec rear bumperettes in search of the last few ounces of weight savings, consider this (if you drive your car on city streets):
So I'm on my way to work this morning, in a line of cars at a stop sign. As we creep forward, the guy behind me apparently picks that moment to adjust his latte or something and gives my car a 1 mph love tap on the rear bumper. I've had this happen once before in another car, and 1 mph certainly doesn't sound as low impact as it actually is. With dollar signs dancing before my eyes, I scream a couple of uncharitable remarks about my fellow commuter's parentage at my disinterested windshield as we pull to the side of the road. Thankfully (and here's the point), there was absolutely no damage of any kind to the car. There was a tiny mark on one bumperette to show that the guy's car had been there, but nothing else. Nothing dented, deflected, folded, spindled or scraped. Without the bumperette, I'd surely have at least a gash in the paint (as I said, I've been through this before in another car and know of what I speak).
At the almost negligible speed involved, it's really no surprise that there is no damage, although I wasn't quite thinking clearly in the instant after the bump and feared far worse. Without the bumperette, though, I definitely would have been left with an annoying scrape in the paint. Just something for you all to consider as you ponder body mods.
Okay, adrenaline is bleeding off nicely. I feel better now.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Friday, October 15, 2004
Also, in other UCSB news, that which was long feared has finally come to pass: several homes/apartments/overpriced hovels on DP have been condemned due to bluff erosion. A bunch of juniors and seniors, who thought they had finally scored the cool pad they had been waiting for through their first four or five years in school, have been evicted. Bummer, dude.
I jest because I love. Actually, UCSB is burnishing its newfound reputation as a top notch institution with two more Nobel Prizes -- UCSB's fourth and fifth since 1998. Go Gauchos!
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Anyway, here's the bullet: it's no Hoosiers, but that's okay. The movie is filmed as the documentary it essentially is. From the opening frames, director Peter Berg uses the jumpy, continuous motion camera style that will someday be identifiable as a distinctively late 20th/early 21st century cinematographic style, one that is usually used to convey as sense of "this is really happening." (Incidentally, the movement of the camera was so constant that there were only a few moments during the film that I was able to tell that the projector was not in focus. Really; the camera never stayed in one place long enough to allow the moviegoer to concentrate on any particular element on the screen sufficiently to see that the whole thing was out of focus. Thanks for putting my $11 to such good use, Universal City Cinemas.) Berg also employs the kind of washed-out exposure that Steven Soderbergh used to such great effect in "Traffic." Rather than a mere stunt, the dry look of the film fits the West Texas setting.
The football scenes are excellent and believable, with none of the hokey lighting effects and shot-from-a-cannon player movements that made "Any Given Sunday" unwatchable as a sports movie. Ultimately, though, the documentary style lets the story down. Although this true story is rich with dramatic potential in the lives of its key players, the film merely skims the surface, focusing instead on the inexorable chronological march of the games. The core drama of the games is certainly gripping, but I get that rush nearly on a daily basis on the TV. The pathos comes from the lives of the players, and it is in this area that the film does not reach the full potential of the book. After all, "Hoop Dreams," a true documentary and quite possibly the best sports movie ever, wasn't a stellar film and story because of the games William and Arthur won or lost.
All in all, an easily enjoyable movie. I have no idea how to interpret Andy's movie rating scheme, since he has yet to follow through on his promise to explain it, but it seems to be based on an unusual numbering system with verbose prose correspondents. Okay. Here's my take: I give this a 13.8375/16.00762, which obviously means "a truly great time was had by all, especially since the evening included dessert at the Hard Rock Cafe."
[That, in case you are woefully uninformed, was a pitch-perfect Simmons tribute. It is hilarious. Trust me.]
Actually, plenty is being said about Manny, and Pedro, and the Babe, and the Curse. Can we please be spared one of these years from the narcissitic self-flagelation of BoSox fans? Enough! No, you're not the most deprived pro franchise (see Cubs, Chicago). You're dedicated fans, but by no means more knowledgeable or loyal than anyone else (Nomar who?). Just .... enough. Please.
Monday, October 11, 2004
If he can stay healthy, Prior is going to be one of the all-time greats. All that, and he got his college education.
Friday, October 08, 2004
Thursday, October 07, 2004
If you don't want to jump, here's the key block:
Saddam Hussein bribed senior politicians and businessmen around the world to secure an early lifting of sanctions, according to the Iraq Survey Report.
Focusing his attention in particular on France and Russia, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, Saddam awarded oil exploration contracts and financial inducements to individuals.
The bribes were at first funded by the Iraqi government, but later derived from Saddam's illegal misuse of the oil-for-food programme, which was supposed to provide food for the poor and medicine for the sick.
Some US estimates have suggested that the Iraqis siphoned off $10 billion (£5.6 billion) from the scheme.
"He [Saddam] targeted friendly companies and foreign political parties that possessed either extensive business ties to Iraq, or held pro-Iraq policies," said the report.
A statesman and a patriot, then! Well, maybe not:
So, no WMDs in 2003? Perhaps, although nobody has looked in Syria's sofa cushions yet. Is it wrong to prevent someone from following through with a clear intention to commit a wrong? As one notable commentator says:
Saddam Hussein believed he could avoid the Iraq war with a bribery strategy targeting Jacques Chirac, the President of France, according to devastating documents released last night. Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France - having been granted oil contracts - would veto any American plans for war.
Although they found no evidence that Saddam had made any WMD since 1992, they found documents which showed the "guiding theme" of his regime was to be able to start making them again with as short a lead time as possible." Saddam was convinced that the UN sanctions - which stopped him acquiring weapons - were on the brink of collapse and he bankrolled several foreign activists who were campaigning for their abolition. He personally approved every one.
If a man says he has a gun, acts like he has a gun, and convinces everyone around him he has a gun, and starts waving it around and behaving recklessly, the police are justified in shooting him (even if it turns out later he just had a black bar of soap). Similarly, according to the Duelfer report, Saddam seems to have intentionally convinced other countries, and his own generals, that he had WMDs. He also convinced much of the U.S. government. If we reacted accordingly and he turns out not to have had WMDs, whose fault is that?
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Monday, October 04, 2004
A friend of mine recently observed a criminal trial in Los Angeles involving a gang killing. What he learned about the gang world is chilling to those of us who prefer to shut out reality. There are streets in LA, right now, on which you must not travel unless you are of the correct affiliation. In daylight. If you go at night . . . well, chalk up another victory to natural selection, and thank you for removing your foolish self from the gene pool.
Is it, dare I say, insensitive to create a game based upon a tragic subculture in which extreme violence and disregard for human decency is played out on a daily basis (whatever the cause might be)? Sure, drug runners ruled Miami for a while in the '80s, so Vice City was a fun little romp. But gang warfare seems to me to be far more serious. Gang life is based inherently on family or family-like relationships, which is specifically recognized and used by the new game. Unlike drug running, or perhaps even the Mafia activities that are now the standard fodder for suburban crime life voyerism, SoCal gang life is not business, it's personal. It's a part of everyday life for just about everyone who lives in those communities. In games of this sort, it is usually possible to demonize, or at least marginalize, both the protagonist as well as the "enemies." I have a hard time dismissing the crime-committing, posse-building protagonist n the new game. He represents thousands of struggling young men and women living and, unfortunately, dying, right now in South Central. The little bit of humor injected into the storyline that leavens the anti-hero nature of the other GTA titles is going to be hard to come by in the new game.
As I noted at the top, the gamer magazines have not commented on the anti-social gameplay; given the path blazed by GTA in its other guises, that is no longer newsworthy. Watch the news when the game is officially released later this month, though. Along with the usual complaints about the anti-hero motivation, I think there will also be a more serious examination of the setting of the game. It's too close in time and temperament to reality to get a free pass.
And what is most disturbing: Rockstar is too savvy at promotion to not know this.
I guess once the design departments are no longer in the thrall of nostalgic Boomers (take Pontiac's GTO ... please), we can look forward to the Gen X phase of retro. I can't wait for an updated Fiero ("And we've almost fixed that overheating problem!"), Chevy Celebrity and Honda Prelude.
Actually, a new old Prelude would be a great idea. C'mon, fellow Gen Xers, climb those corporate ladders and bring back the '80s!
I've watched somnabulent John Davis on Motorweek for twenty years, since back in the day when it was the only auto show on TV, hiding in the nether reaches of the weekend PBS schedule. Mr. Davis is clearly a nice man, who has put out a pleasant product for a long time, but let's face it: his show is just another arm of the manufacturers' marketing departments. It operates on the "Home on the Range" method: seldom is heard a discouraging word.
This story deserves more world attention as well, not just publicity.
It's sad, really. The UN is not a bad organization, in theory. Like too many other large bureaucracies, corruption runs rampant. Unfortunately, there are truly needy people in the world with whom the UN has broken trust.
"Sometimes, when Peyton Manning is telling all 10 members of the offense about his next audible, making a big show of it, going to each guy on the line, maxing out his TV time, don't you just wish an O-lineman would turn and knee him in the groin with the admonition: "Just run the freakin' play we called and stop
showing off, teacher's pet!" Maybe it's just me..."
Nope, it's not just you.
"Well, he ought to know."
Saturday, October 02, 2004
Now if Hermanson can just finish off the Dodgers ...
(Man I love picture in picture.)
In the Giants game, I love the energy of Cararra spiking the ball after retiring the Giants on a double play in the eighth. I can say that because the giants are up by three, having given up only two hits.
Wasn't Tomko the guy who call Pierzynski a cancer earlier this year? I guess all is forgiven; Tomko's throwing a gem, and the shadows at home are starting to be a factor. Although I wonder what Tomko thought when A.J. called time in the middle of Tomko's windup.
Friday, October 01, 2004
No, I'm not an A's fan. I'm a Giants fan, remember? One cannot serve two masters.
Now FSN is showing a highlight of Gibson's homer against Eck in 1988. Boy, the Dodgers need some new memories.
Greg Floyd, fantasy sports impresario, suggested, cajoled, and finally begged us to draft Thomas Jones. He predicted that this unknown would flourish in the offensive system that was to be installed in Chicago by the same coaches who had turned Priest Holmes from an anonymous backup in Baltimore to an All-Pro in Kansas City. Pridefully, I resisted Greg's entreaties. I knew there was a pretty good chance he was right; his theory made sense. But I didn't want to look like a suck-up to the master (even though I was the reigning league champ, and had nothing to be ashamed of). Also, I hadn't prepared at all for the draft and felt more vulnerable to draft day screw ups than usual.
Next time, I'll check my pride at the door and follow Greg's advice. Jones, picked in our ninth round, is the top running back in the league, and is the fourth most prolific fantasy point scorer, behind such luminaries as McNabb, Culpepper and Manning. Crud.
See, as a Giants fan, I'm not just looking to get into the playoffs. I need to find a way to keep the Dodgers out, and I think it can be done. 5% chance of coming to pass, maybe, but a guy's gotta dream.
UPDATE: I was right. The schedulemakers have thought this all out, even if nobody has written about it yet. A Giant-Dodger playoff would be in San Francisco; if the Giants were to lose, they would stay there and play the Astros. If the Dodgers were to lose, a coin flip would determine whether the playoff to become the Wildcard team would take place in Los Angeles or Houston. Let the games begin!
After the most partisan voices cancel each other out (or are thrown out, like the high and low scores in Olympic diving), we are left with what seems to be a general consenus that the debate was basically a draw. Interesting, and perhaps troubling if you are pulling for Bush. The topic on the table last night was terrorism/safety. Even with the profound differences of opinion over the war in Iraq, this figured to be Bush's strongest area (powerful response to terrorism is required, with moral certitude to match) and Kerry's weakest (waffling on support for the armed forces; vague notions of alliances [multi-lateral or bilateral? Ah, it depends]; he didn't have to make the tough decisions). This is the basis for the sharp divide between the camps, and there is probably little Kerry can do to change the minds of those who believe the Administration's military actions were correct because this is, after all, a war. Thus, Bush operates from a position on strength on these issues; notwithstanding the vehemence of the opposition, that opposition is countered by at least an equal amount of support. Bush stands to be much more vulnerable on domestic issues, which have flown under the radar for the most part, and are also more likely to be where the Administration's support erodes even among the party faithful, who aren't going to be pleased with the increased governmental spending we've seen over the last four years. Mixed economic numbers (or at least the impression that the numbers are not positive) don't help, either.
The difficulty in forecasting all of this is that the shrillness of the most partisan supporters on both sides tends to overwhelm a considered debate of issues, particularly those issues that don't pertain to 9/11 and military action. That's why I believe the debates that look beyond the war on terror will be the most revealing.
Of course, I fully anticipate that unless Kerry throws up on his shoes (figuratively or literally), he will be hailed the victor in the next debate by most media outlets because of Bush's perceived weaknesses on domestic concerns. You read it here first.
We should all do ourselves a favor: read the transcripts and track down the facts. Sadly, just because Dan Rather says it's so doesn't mean much any more.
[Editor's note, June 2008: this link used to go to the Michael Vick simulator commercial, in which the rider is transported up and over the line of scrimmage in a wild, twisting leap. For obvious reasons, I suppose, all evidence of a connection to Vick has been expunged from Nike's servers. For less obvious reasons, this post has received some hits recently, and those visitors have undoubtedly been confused and/or disappointed with what they found. Sorry; blame Ron Mexico!]