October 31, 2010

"Devil, you were good!"

"His name is Madison Bumgarner!"

Just anticipating tomorrow's monologue.

October 29, 2010

"His name is Matt Cain!"

A Shakespearean twelve-minute monologue today from SF sports rantmaster Damon Bruce.  Cain's playoff ERA after three starts:  0.00.

Quiet, simple, cheap

A new breed of practical electric aircraft.  Energy costs: $10 an hour. Gasp!

October 28, 2010

Pretty good start

Playoff batting, career:

Name / Plate Appearances / Slugging %

Barry Bonds / 208 / .503
Wille Mays / 99 / .337
Willie McCovey / 34 / .690
Will Clark / 132 / .547
Jeff Kent / 189 /.500


Cody Ross / 43 / .718

Runs screaming

"Robots With Guns Are the Pentagon's Equivalent of Booth Babes" (link)

The Glorious, Irreplaceable Paradise of Earth, Dying.

16,547 Endangered plant and animal species. The primary cause is habitat destruction.  We dig too greedily, and too deep.

October 27, 2010

Ride of the Valkyries, as a tango

Confused Tennessee coach is confused

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.(AP) -- Tennessee coach Derek Dooley on Monday compared his young, inexperienced team's struggles to that of the German forces during the Allies' invasion of Normandy during World War II.

Dooley spent two minutes during his weekly media appearance describing the confusion caused by the surprise landing of the Americans at Omaha Beach on D-Day and the Germans' slow reaction in the absence of their leader, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.

"Right now we're like the Germans in World War II," Dooley said. "Here comes the boats, they're coming. You have the binoculars, and it's like, 'Oh, my God, the invasion is coming."'

October 26, 2010

IAYPA Update

Super Elite Level
  • Philip Rivers, 7.6 - Of course
  • Peyton Manning, 7.1 - Of course
  • Kyle Orton, 7.0 - ?? I double-checked it - he appears to have actually "matured"
  • Matt Schaub, 6.5 - A favorite of QB cognoscenti
  • Vince Young, 6.4 - Meet the future
  • Jay Cutler, 6.3 - Despite the disaster this week
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, 6.0 - Passer rating of 102

What Ever Happened To...? 
  • Tom Brady, 5.8 - Tied with Chad Henne and Matt Cassel
  • Drew Brees, 5.3 - Marginally better than Eli Manning
  • Eli Manning, 5.2 - Marginally better than Bruce Gradkowski (5.0)

Land of the Lost
  • Brett Favre, 3.9 - Almost as if he were injured or distracted
  • Derek Anderson, 3.8 - You have to put Kurt Warner in The Hall
  • Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore, 3.2 - Carolina's passing scheme may need a review

A word before you go

Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you're in control, they're in control.  - Tom Landry

If Mr. Singletary is indeed not long for his job, that's a shame, albeit not all that suprising.  The coaching philosophy of Singletary's mentors - Ditka and Ryan - was always been long on emotion.  Both men's teams reflected this, with high highs and low lows (and even lower lows) perhaps best left to clinicians.  As often as not, their teams were disappointments (Ryan's lifetime record was 55-55-1, Ditka's was 106-62 with the Bears, but 15-33 with the Saints).  Singletary's 49ers this year certainly fit that profile.  Motivation, yes.  Emotion, yes.  Execution, not so much.

And the media...forget it.  Ditka is famous for his pants-less interview (who among us...?).  Singletary has followed in his mentors' footsteps in that unfortunate regard, blowing up and then having to apologize on several occasions.  And, of course, he has also been legendarily pants-less.  Ditka's mentor, Tom Landry, would have counselled otherwise.

But I also come to praise Mr. Singletary before...well, you know.  Have a look at this video.  Late in his career, NFL Films wired him for sound in a game against the Packers.    The Bears lost.  What's interesting, to me at least, is that at 2:36 Singletary tells his teammates exactly what's about to happen. 

I wonder if he really said "shoot" afterward.  A good question for NFL historians of the future.

October 25, 2010

Hodgman vs. JoCo

October 24, 2010

The Laird Recommends: Field Gulls

Field Gulls is a community site for Seahawks fans hosted by SB Nation. The guy in charge (meaning the one guy SB Nation actually pays to write there) is a remarkably talented young writer named John Morgan. (His first book was published earlier this year.)

This is from his post-game analysis of today's victory over the Cardinals:

I do want to know what this offense can accomplish post-Matt, because it excites me. It excites me and frustrates me because it's teased and withdrawn. I'm not saying Hasselbeck is a Maitresse like figure paying strangers to piss on my face and hammering nails through my cock, but there is, to be crude about it, a feeling of mounting blue balls developing about this entire season. Not to project doom and gloom, but there really is no promise that Williams signs with Seattle, that Williams continues playing at this level, that this amazing talent that Seattle bumbled into through the force of Pete Carroll's charisma and connections and power to inspire, will be amazing forever.

October 23, 2010

Works for me

Boswell:  "The way the Giants and Rangers are stopping pulses and winning hearts, they'll probably play a seven-game World Series that ends in the 21st inning with all pitchers exhausted and two reserve catchers being called into duty as relievers. Give me the Giants' Eli Whiteside over the Rangers' Matt Treanor."

Inside the Game

Ron Jaworski, The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays (link)

Tim Layden, Blood, Sweat, and Chalk - The Ultimate Football Playbook: How the Great Coaches Built Today's Game (link)

"I don't mean this disrespectfully," says Ron Jaworski, "but even the most dedicated fan could never understand football at the same level as the players and coaches who make their living at it.  It's simply impossible."  Nonetheless, his new book aims to narrow the gap.  It illustrates the evolution of modern football through a close analysis of seven games - starting with the San Diego Chargers' 1964 AFL Championship victory over the Patriots, and finishing symmetrically with the Patriots' 2002 Super Bowl upset of the St. Louis Rams.  

Jaworski is particularly well-qualified for this job.  He played the game, and he writes from a player's perspective.  But it is his work since he retired from football that makes the difference here.  His endless film study and dozens of interviews with key figures have enabled him to develop a richer understanding of this material than almost any other journalist (he is a journalist now).  I've read perhaps a half dozen articles on the Cover-Two defense, and none compares with Jaworski's detailed and thoughtful presentation here.  Many people don't understand, he explains, that it is particularly effective against the run:
Before Carson, most secondary run support came from the safeties, but that changed in Cover-Two.  The rolled-up corners made this scheme very effective if the offense ran the ball wide, because tight-covering defensive backs could take away plays designed to bounce to the outside.
Then there is the film study.  Jaworski reviews not just the broadcast tv tapes of the games, but the "real" film, the "All-22" coaching tapes.  We learn that Mean Joe Greene experimented with his disruptive gap offset alignment - the catalyst for the Steelers' feared "Stunt 4-3" set - in November of 1974, even though the Steelers say it was later than that.  The Steelers will need to issue a correction:  Jaworski has it on film.

We also benefit from Jaworski's ability to reach out directly to many of the participants in the games he is analyzing.  Tom Flores, on the impact of Kellen Winslow:
The NFL is a copycat league, and people would say, 'Did you see that?  Maybe there's a way our guy can do that too.'  Then I'd say, 'We don't have that guy!'  We did have Raymond Chester, who was more of a power-type tight end who'd block your head off, then catch the ball downfield, and outrace you to the end zone.  Nowadays you see more tight ends like Winslow and fewer like Chester.
Working through Jaworski's book it becomes apparent that, back in the old days, no one ever schemed their way to the NFL championship.  His illustrative game for Air Coryell is not a blowout, it's an overtime squeaker against the Raiders - a group of very talented individuals playing a few basic defenses.  In his introduction Jaworski says:
I've seen teams that can play the most primitive football and be very successful doing it.  Why?  Because their personnel is better...  But overall, today's teams are more competitively balanced...  And because the talent differential is so razor thin, most successful clubs have to work hard to develop schemes that give them the advantage.
Well, yes and no.  Pittsburg's Steel Curtain ended the Raiders' AFC dominance, and it certainly was an extraordinary group of individuals, the incredibly gifted Jack Lambert in particular.  But it was also based on a demanding defensive scheme.  Bill Belichick says "that was a very sophisticated and difficult defense.  There was no way you could just run it unless you really knew what you were doing."  Cavemen can't play Cover-Two.  Lambert was to Butkus as a cruise missile is to a IED (watch this).

Lambert's responsibility:  the entire middle of the football field


Jaworski:  "in 1976 the Steelers ran off a string of nine straight regular-season wins.  During that streak they allowed the opposition only 28 points..."  But it was too good to last - the League introduced rules to limit chucking of receivers downfield (the "Mel Blount Rule").  That de-fanged the Pittsburg Cover-Two, and the gates were open for Air Coryell and the West Coast Offense.

The lesson I take from Jaworski's book is that victory in the modern NFL is the product of a labor-intensive search for small advantages.  Although it is about schemes and game planning, it is apparent from his narrative that - as in war - no plan survives contact with the enemy.  Once we are in-game, a seemingly endless series of adjustments and counter-adjustments takes over. 

But this is only possible when coaches and players are operating at the highest level.  Schemes really can be decisive at lower levels, a point abundantly illustrated by Frank Layden's excellent Blood, Sweat, and Chalk, which came out in May of this year. 

Layden cannot match Jaworski's professional experience or technical expertise, but his book is no less a labor of love.  He interviewed 145 people and worked on it until his family openly wondered if it would ever be finished.  Where Jaworski's tome is organized around games and game plans, Layden's is based on 22 individual plays

This gives Layden considerably greater scope.  He can explore the evolution of a particular play - say, the Bubble Screen - as it moves from Granada Hills High School to San Jose State University to the Miami Hurricanes to Purdue's 2001 Rose Bowl victory (winning quarterback:  Drew Brees).  The Rams are trying to learn it now (skip to 1:22), although teams at other levels have mastered it.

It emerges from Layden's book that high school and college coaches have a remarkably open culture.  When one team innovates successfully, other coaching staffs may come to visit, and will usually be welcomed as they try to learn the new system.  Layden calls it "football socialism."

I was surprised to hear this, but as you think about it makes sense.  Coaches need each other.  They know they're expendable.  Universities, alumnae, pro owners - none has the slightest loyalty to a losing coach.  And every coach is going to be a loser at some point.  Even Bear Bryant had his moment of humility:
[I]n '68, '69 and '70 Alabama lost a total of 13 games, with back-to-back five-loss seasons. It appeared there was no magic left in Bryant's houndstooth hat, and surely none in the pro-style passing game that was operated by his quarterback Scott Hunter. Bryant called [Darrell] Royal and asked for help.  Royal and [Emory] Bellard went to Tuscaloosa and holed up with Bryant and his staff in a hotel room, teaching the wishbone. The tutoring session lasted for four days. In the ensuing '71 season, Alabama went 11-1.
The wishbone was perhaps the most extreme case.  "Around our offices during spring training, you couldn't swing a stick without hitting half a dozen coaches," says Bellard.  "It was just unreal."  (If you want to try it yourself, his book is here.)

In high school and college, a good scheme can make up for significant shortfalls in human capital.  In fact, some of the most important systems were devised to deal with personnel issues.  The Spread offense, invented by Tiger Ellison (link - have your wallet ready) and popularized by Mouse Davis, was originally designed to use people who wouldn't be considered top-class football players elsewhere.  Davis said:
Little pissants.  At Milwaukie in 1962 I had a lot of good players, but they weren't big, physical players.  That's the case at a lot of high schools.  More of your good athletes are little pissants.  Good athletes, but small...  And I was a little pissant.  So my attitude was, you take the little guys and put them out in space and they're pretty good.  You put 'em in a slug-it-out kind of game, they're pretty average.  So we were putting them out in space.
It went from high school to college, to the pros (where Warren Moon posted back-to-back 4000 yard seasons with it), and back to college again.  Long after the death of the Wishbone, Texas climbed to the summit again, with Vince Young running an offense designed for "little pissants."

Layden set out to write a book about the plays, but he has really ended up with a book about the coaches.  It is full of passages like:
On a summer evening in 1989 he was sitting in his apartment in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, watching NFL videotapes with other Iowa Wesleyan assistant coaches.  Leach became obsessed with the 49ers' "smash" route, a high-low horizontal pass pattern in which two receivers essentially try to confuse a cornerback, and the quarterback reacts to the confusion.  Leach wanted to know what the indicators are for reading the play, so he jumped in his car and drove six hours to a Packers minicamp in Green Bay where he knew the offensive staff were keen to those routes...  "I was a young coach and I was excited about this stuff.  Eighty-nine, that was the summer of love for the spread offense."
Well, if these books are any indication, the summer of love never ended.  Football is an obsession, and for the highest level practitioners it is a nearly complete substitute for life itself.  It engages the mind as fully as chess or nuclear physics.  And right now, somewhere, an assistant coach is watching film and thinking - what would happen if we...?

[UPDATE:  A free excerpt from Layden's book, on Buddy Ryan's 4-6 defense, is here.]

October 22, 2010

A Message to Our President

Dear Mister President,

Last night I was delayed 30 minutes on my way to a meeting because your motorcade closed the highway so you could go meet rich people and ask them for money.

This morning, me and my fellow airline passengers were delayed approximately 30 minutes as we waited for Air Force One to cut in front of our plane and take off before us so you could go to the next city to meet rich people and ask them for money.

I am wise in the ways of the world and I have no objection to your using the awesome perquisites of your office to raise money for an election.  In fact, I encourage you to do this, and support you in all your policies and beliefs.  You have an important job and you are exceptionally good at it and I am glad I voted for you.

But will you PLEASE...get the fuck out of my way.

Thank you.

Yours etc.
The Front

How is Fiasco???

Inquiring minds want to know. Any chance you'll post a play-by-play?

One tiny Big Union, with Mustard

Of any group of workers in real need of a radical labor union, it's fast-food workers. The Wobblies, yes, those wobblies, may be a shadow of themselves 90 years ago, but that shadow is growing- a vote to organize the Minneapolis members of a fast-food chain is happening now.  Why? The One Big Union has some big brass ones, and a historically honed sense of sarcasm. 

 The IWW is far, far, far left, almost a romantic ghost, but I'll say this: they're clean, and in the last 10 years, they've gained some successes and experience.  It's going present a very interesting situation if they get a toehold here.

I can hardly think of anything better for the country than if, say, the IWW organized Wal Mart.  As I heard a belgian economist say on the BBC, the idea that giving tax breaks to the rich will eventually benefit  workers "is stupid." 

October 21, 2010

For the Record

I ESPECIALLY hate carpetbagging-in-Alaska Michigan Nazis!

October 20, 2010

Out of nowhere

Suddenly the player who was just looking to make the team in camp is now the go-to receiver on a team in position to win the NFC West. On Sunday, Williams had a career-high 10 catches for 123 yards as the Seahawks beat the Chicago Bears for their first road win outside of the division since 2007.

The Rent is Too Damn High, 1381

TV Doc recommendation: Medieval Lives, with the estimable Terry Jones. 

A central case: for women and peasants, in many respects, things got better after the Black Death, but went downhill in the Renaissance and kept going downhill right on through the Industrial Revolution.

" The main reason I wanted to make Medieval Lives was to get my own back on the Renaissance. It's not that the Renaissance has ever done me any harm personally, you understand. It's just that I'm sick of the way people's eyes light up when they start talking about the Renaissance. I'm sick of the way art critics tend to say: 'Aaaah! The Renaissance!' with that deeply self-satisfied air of someone who is at last getting down to the Real Thing. And I'm sick to death of that ridiculous assumption that that before the Renaissance human beings had no sense of individuality." 

The Peasant's Revolt I'm guessing got started when someone said: The Rent! It Be too damn-ed High!

October 19, 2010

All about the B-17

October 18, 2010

Just when you think America can't get any dumber...

...it does something like this and totally redeems itself!

Why yes, yes there is video.  Spanky's website is here.

Nate Silver Warms to the Folk Musician's Analysis

After the Miller fascisty incident, Silver's analysis, from the NYT blog:

"Mr. McAdams’ chances of winning are also improved the closer that Mr. Miller and Ms. Murkowski finish to each other. Democrats make up only about 20 percent of the electorate in Alaska. But it is not inconceivable that Mr. McAdams could finish with perhaps 34 or 35 percent of the vote, which is about where he’d end up if he won the support of almost all Democrats and about one-third of independents, some of whom are left-leaning.
That could be a winning figure for Mr. McAdams if, for instance, Ms. Murkowski and Mr. Miller each finished with 32 or 33 percent of the vote. It seems less likely now than it did a few weeks ago that Mr. Miller is a safe bet to secure 40 percent of the vote or more. The tricky thing for Mr. McAdams is that, if Mr. Miller is indeed yielding some of his support to Ms. Murkowski, that only benefits him up to a point. If Mr. Miller’s support were to collapse further, for instance, and he received only 25 percent of the vote on Election Day, most of the voters fleeing Mr. Miller would probably choose the other Republican, Ms. Murkowski, instead, which might boost her standing to 40 percent or above.  In that outcome, while Mr. McAdams would finish ahead of Mr. Miller, he would nevertheless finish in second place."

The thing with the incident is, Miller-types will love pushing around a reporter. It will undercut him hugely with moderates, but only so far.

October 16, 2010

I mean, civilization is just crumbling

Wisconsin "bullies" Ohio State? What the...

[I]n an era of zone reads, pistol formations and hybrid defenders, Wisconsin issued a reminder Saturday night of the value of smash-mouth football between the tackles.  The No. 18 Badgers bullied No. 1 Ohio State from the opening kickoff, and their 31-18 upset offered a referendum of the value of physical, conservative and quintessentially old-school football.

Good times

As Toledo Public Schools teacher Amanda VanNess stood in the Oval Office and watched President Obama sign an education stimulus bill, she already knew she'd lost her teaching job back home to budget cuts and low seniority...

Well, one important consideration here is that we could bring in three Chinese teachers for the same price... 

TPS hasn't spent a dollar of the $7.6 million in teacher rehire money it received from the Aug. 10 bill, opting instead to save it for next school year to rehire or retain a myriad school employees - probably not teachers.

But why dwell on the education of children?  There's plenty of money for war re-enactments in Ohio, and they're certainly educational.  Inspiring, even - who can forget SS Wiking's valor as the Russians surrounded them and destroyed all their vehicles and killed a third of their men in the Cherkassy Pocket?  I get nostalgic just thinking of it...


Good times, good times.

Of course a lot of my family's originally from Ohio.  We didn't have re-enactments back in the old days, when I'd go visit the farm.  But my grandfather once told me that, back in World War I, they raised up some troops from the area to go fight in Europe.  It was short conversation.  "I don't think many of them came back," he said.

October 15, 2010

Six years ago today

Jon Stewart takes down Crossfire.

October 14, 2010

Here's why it's ok

"Rich Iott doesn’t have an anti-Semitic bone in his body," said Parker, who sought to distinguish between a Nazi uniform and an SS uniform, which he said is what Iott is wearing in the now-famous image.

The Nazis were Adolf Hitler's party — and became shorthand for the German military under his rule — while the SS was an elite squadron of soldiers and law enforcers responsible for a variety of war crimes.

Well, ok, interesting story. By the way, here's a re-enactment I enjoyed:

It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

This looks promising:

From their website:

Fiasco is inspired by cinematic tales of small time capers gone disastrously wrong – inspired by films like Blood Simple, Fargo, The Way of the Gun, Burn After Reading, and A Simple Plan. You’ll play ordinary people with powerful ambition and poor impulse control. There will be big dreams and flawed execution. It won’t go well for them, to put it mildly, and in the end it will probably all go south in a glorious heap of jealousy, murder, and recrimination. Lives and reputations will be lost, painful wisdom will be gained, and if you are really lucky, your guy just might end up back where he started.

Fiasco is a GM-less game for 3-5 players, designed to be played in a few hours with six-sided dice and no preparation. During a game you will engineer and play out stupid, disastrous situations, usually at the intersection of greed, fear, and lust. It’s like making your own Coen brothers movie, in about the same amount of time it’d take to watch one.

And best of all, every month they publish a new, free "playset" that allows you to try out a different genre.

They've got it all. From Art Deco fiascoes to Alaskan Wilderness fiascoes.

This seems worth getting into, despite my lack of free time. So who's with me?

After all, what could possibly go wrong...

October 13, 2010

The Odyssey of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

I first read about him in a sports magazine, right after he converted and changed his name from Chris Jackson to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.  He'd had a bad game and his coach (Doug Moe?) said something like:  "I wish he'd play more like Chris Jackson, and less like Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf."

Later on I heard he had Tourette's.

I went down to Boston Garden one night, and he was out there for the Nuggets, playing very well against the post-Bird Celtics.  He's listed as 6-1, but he's not really that tall.  In that game I remember him as lean and wiry, completely under control.  Very quick, he constantly pressured the Celtics defense, getting into the paint and dishing, or stepping back and hitting his quick-release jumper.  With 26 points and 11 assists in The Garden he was beginning to make his mark.  He was the Most Improved player in the NBA that year, and you didn't hear much from his coaches after that.

A few years later he refused to stand for the National Anthem, and the hate mail started.  As this superb profile by Robert Sanchez reports, he kept the letters.

Dear Mr. Abdul-Rauf,
Go back to Africa.
He made sure he took them when he fled Denver, and then for every move he and his family have made since.
Fuck you.
The insults and the profanities, he keeps them stuffed in a white trash bag, inside a closet. Reminders of his life's seminal moment—those 90 seconds on the floor of Denver's old McNichols Arena.
You need to go to another country that does not have the freedom that we do.
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is not sure why he has kept them. But even now, 11 years after the postmarks, many have yet to be opened. "Go on," he encourages me in a defiant voice. "Keep reading."

But be sure to read the end of the article, too.

He quit the NBA in '01. Since then:
He's in Japan now, doing interviews, getting ready for his second season.  At 41, he's older than 9 of the 14 coaches in the league.  And playing like Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.

Watch those narcissistic tendencies

Big Brother is friending you.

You know you want it

Pizza Hut single-serving cheese pizza, Las Vegas Airport, 10/12/10.  Taster's notes not available at this time.

IMG_3910.jpg picture by DoctorX

Memo to the FSL

I always suspected this.

Reports From the Eisengeiste World Headquarters in Port Townsend, WA

October 11, 2010

We need to do something about this guy

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R) is totally caving to the liberal elites here.  Good for him.

Alaska Senate Race: Some Folk Musician Talkin' 'Bout Vote Math

David Bomberg's parallel with the Post-60's Art World.

British painter David Bomberg was about 40 years ahead of his time in many respects, particularly the arch from highly innovative machine age abstraction back to traditional observational power - presaged partly by his experiences in WWI; where the embrace of the machine meant the embrace of the industrial murder that was the Western Front.

An amazingly advanced painting, particularly in color from the early period is In the Hold, above, 1912-1913. It's hard to argue that this is not all-over abstraction.

Sappers at Work, 1919, is part of his revaluation of
the figurative, but with that tremendous compositional strength of the interwar period.

He was all but ignored by the British art establishment, I suspect because his work is in exactly the reverse order of the story of 20th century innovation. He died in poverty. His work now easily reaches 1 million pounds.

October 09, 2010

For the record...

I hate Ohio Nazis.

A necessary corrective

By the way, Lennon liked Devo:

... Lennon cornered Mothersbaugh to bawl a beery, spittle-flecked version of Devo’s Beatles-ish homage Uncontrollable Urge in his face. “Probably the best thing that had happened in my life up to that point,” he says, “other than the day I found out about orgasms."


Dr. X posts this from his living room with the stereo and noise cancelling headphones:

There is so much noise in the oeuvre of John Lennon.  So much of the work is casual (more on this here), good but muddled by the Dylan obsession, overhyped, or just bad.  But there is also serious signal - moments of stunning clarity, almost unparallelled in pop music.  Like this one:

The estimate Alan Pollack annotates here.

Bronowski: you'd better recognize, yo

October 08, 2010

This goes out to Tim Linecum

When people are concerned that you've lost your Cy Young form, it's not a bad idea to shut out the other team (14 strikeouts, 1 walk) in your first-ever playoff appearance...

Cafe Latte, Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong


Easy on the eyes:  in a town where looks matter, the Landmark Latte gets an "A". 

As for the taste:
  • Full and rich, none of that 'non-fat' business here. 
  • A little bitter
  • Strong flavor, not "lightly rich" as Spinelli's
  • Hint of almond
  • Appearance similar to The Langham latte, but flavor a little more forward
  • Better with a small sweet desert or light breakfast confection than as a single serving

October 07, 2010

New item added to the list of things I don't like!

People taking pictures of the food they are served in restaurants with their iPhones and then posting these pictures on Facebook. Not a fan.

(If this keeps going on, I'm going to start posting pictures of pills just before I take them "20mgs Lexapro. Yummy!")

October 06, 2010


Loussac Manor is no more.

Click at your own risk

I never understood anything until I went to this mammoth trope site, now I understand everything, but I'm so busy reading I have no time to do anything else.

 saxton_hale.jpg picture by DoctorX

"Epic Win" is an overused term, but in this case...it applies

October 03, 2010

Preliminary notes on a Spinelli latte

Spinelli moved from San Francisco to Singapore in 1996, and today operates 20 stores here, as well as outlets in China and Indonesia.


Let me first say that the test subject was not obtained under optimal conditions.  It was 7:25 pm when I walked into the Spinelli store in Orchard Road.  The slightly-disgruntled store manager and only slightly less-disgruntled barista noted firmly that it was almost closing time.  Undaunted, I ordered a latte.  Despite their obvious desire to go home, the beverage was made with considerable care, and delivered to my hand in a neat paper cup.

Tasters Notes
  • Rich
  • Creamy
  • Cocoa
  • Robust
  • Dark roasted, but not bitter
  • Smoother than Peet's or Starbucks
  • Exotic without the fuss (Porsche 928)
  • Characteristic, but difficult to explain lightness - light but rich.  Not hibiscus tea.  Back taste buds.
  • Quality comparable to Coupa Cafe, a little richer, but less complex
  • Makes Starbucks look like a mudshake
  • Clarity and power
  • Delicious on 5th or 7th sip - take notice - interrupts attention "my goodness, that is delicious"
It was very good.

October 02, 2010

Check out John McKay's blogs

Some of you Anchorage folk will remember our friend John McKay. Last week, I discovered he has two really awesome blogs which deserve the attention of Eisengeisters:

October 01, 2010

Get out your credit card

Two words:  Palomino Blackwing

Petty, but satisfying

I hate this stuff, it detracts from the real issues and further pollutes an already toxic public atmosphere.  But if laughing at this is wrong I don't want to be right:

Whitman: I never saw the letter

Lawyer:  yeah, she's lying

But That's Not the Weird Part

So this book, Six Frigates, also has a bit about Teddy Roosevelt.  I'm reading along and suddenly it's full-on Roosevelt time, speeches about how great war is, the White Fleet, and all that.  In his spare time while at Harvard he wrote a book about the naval aspects of the War of 1812.  Well, actually, he wrote the definitive book about the naval War of 1812.  A book that refuted outright, with characteristic rigor and good humor, the chauvinistic pretensions of the British author of the standard reference.  Thus:
In other instances it is quite enough to let his words speak for themselves, as where he says (p. 155) that of the American sailors one third in number and one half in point of effectiveness were in reality British. That is, of the 450 men the Constitution had when she fought the Java 150 were British, and the remaining 300 could have been as effectively replaced by 150 more British. So a very little logic works out a result that James certainly did not intend to arrive at; namely, that 300 British led by American officers could beat, with ease and comparative impunity, 400 British led by their own officers. 
He also forgets that the whole consists of the sum of the parts. He accounts for the victories of the Americans by stating (p. 280) that they were lucky enough to meet with frigates and brigs who had unskilful gunners or worthless crews; he also carefully shows that the Macedonian was incompetently handled, the Peacock commanded by a mere martinet, the Avon's crew unpractised weak and unskilful, the Java's exceedingly poor, and more to the same effect. Now the Americans took in single fight three frigates and seven sloops, and when as many as ten vessels are met it is exceedingly probable that they represent the fair average; so that James' strictures, so far as true, simply show that the average British ship was very apt to possess, comparatively speaking, an incompetent captain or unskilful crew. 
But that's not the weird part.

I bought a new book.  I thought I might try a little lighter topic, so I picked up (electronically) a copy of Layden's Blood, Sweat & Chalk which tells you about how different football plays evolved and has interviews with coaches and stuff.  And I get a couple of pages in chapter one, and there's fracking Teddy Roosevelt again.
"People ask me all the time who started the single wing," says Racely.  "I tell them it was Teddy Roosevelt."  The line is delivered as if it's a joke, but a visitor is unsure whether to laugh or not because Racely's one-liner is based on a popular mythology:  that early in the 20th century Roosevelt intervened in football when he felt the game had become too violent, and that he changed the rules.  This much is generally accurage:  In 1905 Roosevelt was a participant in a process that pushed college football toward rules changes designed to make the game safer, outlawing dangerous mass-momentum closed-formation plays like the flying wedge.  These rules gave rise to the game of modern football, including the forward pass and the single wing. 

Roosevelt was pretty tough.  He gave a speech once right after someone tried to kill him.  He took a bullet, but it didn't do much damage.  And he said:   

I cannot tell you of what infinitesimal importance I regard this incident as compared with the great issues at stake in this campaign, and I ask it not for my sake, not the least in the world, but for the sake of common country, that they make up their minds to speak only the truth, and not use that kind of slander and mendacity which if taken seriously must incite weak and violent natures to crimes of violence. Don't you make any mistake. Don't you pity me. I am all right. I am all right and you cannot escape listening to the speech either.