March 30, 2012
National Emotions: Optimism, Embarassment
Really, why all the fuss?
Manning got a call informing him that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had flown, unannounced, with Seattle G.M. John Schneider to the airport in Englewood. Carroll would do whatever Manning wanted -- talk for a while in Denver or on the plane to Arizona, his next visit, or fly him to Seattle for a lengthier discussion.
Peyton Manning does not like surprises. He said no thanks. Carroll flew home.
Why all the fuss about Manning? Just because he never missed a start before last year and never had a passer rating below 100 after his rookie year? His four MVP awards? I guess that would be compelling, if his head were still properly attached to his body.
This isn't the NBA. It's a team sport. Brent Favre has shown, twice, how far a veteran star can take you, and how severely his diva behavior can damage your program. With Peyton and Elway having a very special relationship, my only question is how John Fox will...oh there's your answer.
Glad the Seahawks missed this prima donna, looking forward to the games.
March 29, 2012
Soft rock vs. something else
Dr. X comments:
I think this is where the line is (see live performance below). Anything softer than this is effeminate and pointless soft rock. But I am not prepared concede that this is effeminate or pointless. It is light in the verses, but not the loafers. The chorus is soulful and the performance is, if a bit too polished and technical, certainly competent. Hall and Oates have nothing to be ashamed of here.
As for Seals and Crofts or Bread, well, no, I can't get behind that, man. But we must be honest, too - weaker artists can produce strong performances, or at least perform good songs comptently. I believe it was Johnson who said 'Nay Sir, argument is argument. You cannot help paying regard to their arguments, if they are good...argument is like an arrow from a crossbow, which has equal force though shot by a child.' The same is true, I say, of a good song, and I will go to the wall even for songs originating even with The Archies or, perhaps more defensibly, The Monkees. Open ears and open minds, I say.
That said, some rock is soft but still rock, or perhaps something richer. Competence is one thing, greatness another. I wish to dedicate this to an old acquaintance, since passed from this life, who once played 'Springtime for Hitler' on the Vassar bells.
Iced Zen: "Mitt Romney's Status Updates"
Operation Stock Photo Swap. (link)
March 28, 2012
This needs looking into
Old planets? Sure, whatever:
At first glance, there doesn't seem to be anything particularly remarkable about star HIP 11952 and its two planets. But its iron-poor composition reveals these planets are 13 billion years old — almost as ancient as the Big Bang itself...Sure, okay, 97 galaxies away, right?
...HIP 11952 is just 375 light-years away.Whoa.
There Can Be Only One
The Antonov-225 (link)
In which I type the words "you know, that Russian leader has a point."
Proposed Blog Name Change: Iced Zen
Or: Iced Zen Guys.
Get it? The purpose would be to help expand the audience.
Turning to Urgent Seahawks Logo News
Spotted on video, reported in the PI.
March 27, 2012
When You Put Taco Bell Hot Sauce in Ramen It Tastes Just Like Poverty
Sentences like this in that one article in the New York Times on ludicrously expensive private schools for toddlers (that one they write only once a year of course, because more than that would be excessive, ostentatious, and a warped sense of journalistic priorities)....
If the Occupy Wall Street movement focused attention on the perceived excesses of the 1 percent, private schools are leaning on the wealth of their own 5 percent to try to win a bigger piece of their philanthropic pie (the back-of-the-envelope assumption is that families with more than $5 million in assets often give away up to $500,000 annually).
..are rather moving my politics away from "engaging respectfully in the democratic process," and more towards "SEIZE THEM!"
Because the above is such a great comparison, and those excesses are so "perceived, " particular when the same issue points out that 93% of new income in America in 2010 went to people making 350K a year or so, or you know, more.
Quote of the week goes to whoever wrote the title of this post.
March 25, 2012
Get used to it
Everything is warming...except northern California.
March 24, 2012
Put that thing away
Dr. Kapital tweets:
"Your gun is smoking, sir." (link)
Just leaving this here
Someone took the trouble to upload America's wonderful 2nd album, Homecoming. (link)
A couple of comments:
- There used to be these things called "albums".
- Many America albums are two hits plus some filler, but Homecoming, for whatever reason, is notable for consistently fine songwriting and musicianship.
- This was a moment: November 1972. Politically, election time. War fatigue, riot fatigue, Watergate emerging. Average Baby Boomer was about 19.
- American folk rock was on the march. Jackson Browne's first album came out earlier in the year, the Eagles' Desperado a few months after Homecoming.
- Yes, that's a banjo on "Don't Cross the River".
- The Beatles had tried some folk rock ideas on the Let It Be sessions (e.g., "Two of Us") but abandoned the idea and went back to rock, ballad, and re-mix on Abbey Road.
- One odd thing about America is how - in otherwise almost perfect songs - they would just punt on rhyme lines. "Alligator lizards in the air..." Really?
- This is America pre-George Martin. Martin helped transform them into pop titans, overlaying strings, adding his keyboard skills to "Tin Man", and even remixed some of the early tunes (e.g., Ventura Highway) for The Greatest Hits album. But they were good before Martin, and Homecoming is the best evidence of how accomplished they already were.
We found your boat.
March 22, 2012
Bwah hah hah
When the Pope's own Master of Ceremonies Biagio da Cesena said "it was mostly disgraceful that in so sacred a place [the Sistine Chapel] there should have been depicted all those nude figures, exposing themselves so shamefully, and that it was no work for a papal chapel but rather for the public baths and taverns," Michelangelo worked da Cesena's semblance into the scene as Minos, judge of the underworld. It is said that when he complained to the Pope, the pontiff responded that his jurisdiction did not extend to hell, so the portrait would have to remain.
Mad as hell, not going to take it any more
Goldman scans for muppets. (link)
List omits Great Race (shame, shame), but is otherwise lots of fun.
Ted Stevens Bought My Dad's Cabin
In yet another f-u, this time from beyond the grave, Sen. Ted Stevens apparently bought in the beautiful cabin on 12th and H in Anchorage that my father built by hand in the 1950s, and planned to retire there, after a lifetime dismantling mostly everything my dad believed in.
Wasn't there a covenant against felonious riff-raff degrading the neighborhood like that? And now I wonder, who might have bought it for him as a present?
The Cressbeckler Stance!
If somehow you've missed it, it's the Crotchetiest Semi-Literate Ex-Gold Prospector political commentator in America, Joad Cressbeckler.
Alaskans will be reminded of Joe Vogler. And by Joe Vogler, I of course mean Ted Stevens.
March 20, 2012
Is is my imagination...
...or did they put his head back on crooked?
March 19, 2012
The Significance of the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands
Just a little follow up on that Enterprise post. They call Midway the turning point of the Pacific War, but it would have been hard to say so at the time. The U.S. went to the Battle of Midway with three carriers and left with two, Hornet and Enterprise. Then Hornet was lost at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, while the Japanese fleet lost no capital ships. The U.S. lost 81 of its 136 aircraft in that fight, while the Japanese lost 99 of their 199.
And yet, after the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands the four Japanese carriers went home. Why?
The Japanese lost 148 pilots and air crew members in the battle, compared to only 26 for the US. According to the fine Wikipedia article:
The Japanese lost more aircrew at Santa Cruz than they had lost in each of the three previous carrier battles at Coral Sea (90), Midway (110), and Eastern Solomons (61). By the end of the Santa Cruz battle, at least 409 of the 765 elite Japanese carrier aviators who had participated in the Attack on Pearl Harbor were dead... The Japanese lost so many aircrew members that undamaged Zuikaku and Hiyō were also forced to return to Japan because of a scarcity of trained aircrew to man their air groups.Historian Eric Hammel: "Santa Cruz was a Japanese victory. That victory cost Japan her last best chance to win the war."
March 18, 2012
Flynn era begins in Seattle
Matt Flynn agrees to a 3-year deal with the Seahawks.
49ers in the hunt for Tebow...
March 17, 2012
Preliminary notes toward a sketch of a comparison of Grossman and Orton
As I reflected on the idea that somewhere, there is a football organization that wants Kyle Orton - and, unable to sign him, thinks Rex Grossman would be pretty good instead, I thought I'd present a couple more thoughts on these two longstanding journeyman.
First of all, they probably had the right idea in going for Orton first. Both Orton and Grossman were bad with the Bears, almost identically so. But, while Grossman went on to be bad with the Redskins, Orton improved noticeably after escaping CrappyQuarterback U:
Grossman's Passer Rating
- Chicago - 70.2 (31 starts)
- Washington - 74.4 (16 starts)
Orton's Passer Rating
- Chicago - 71.1 (33 starts)
- Denver - 85.7 (33 starts)
Ironically, however, while both players' performance improved after leaving the Bears, their subsequent achievements demonstrate just how good those Bears teams were, and how much they left on the table by not having a real quarterback play the position.
As badly as Grossman played in Chicago, even he could not prevent the team from achieving significant success. Those victories in Chicago mean that he is 27-24 lifetime as an NFL starter...not too bad, until you look at the details. Here is a plot of his career - it is a graph of how many games his team won out of the last five he started:
Why are the Redskins so desperate?
There was a time, once, when you could utter the words "Rex Grossman" and "winning streak" in the same sentence. But those days are long past. Most of the time the past few years, Rex's team has been lucky to do better than one victory over a given five game stretch. And maybe that is one reason Washington is willing to take some risks to try and get quality at the position.
But isn't it striking, knowing now just how bad Rex Grossman is, that Chicago was able to win - and win consistently - with him at the helm? Who knows what they might have accomplished with a more competent quarterback?
Although Orton had better personal statistics after leaving Chicago, his story is much the same. Unlike Grossman, who played badly for both a good team and a bad one, Orton got to play fairly well for a bad team. The results are the same:
And then it was Tebow time
So Orton has accomplished more than Grossman. For one thing he has managed, on two separate occasions, to lose five consecutive starts.
It is amazing to me that any football executive would look at these players and think them deserving of a contract. That an organization would seriously consider both of them, and actually sign one, is just mind-boggling, even if it is just a one-year deal.
But there is an even greater fool. Last year the Redskins offered Grossman a multi-year contract. He turned it down.
If I can't watch Kate Upton in a nun swimsuit, I want no part of your revolution
It's called freedom of expression, bitches.
Violently insane, Part Deux
Redskins re-sign Rex Grossman.
FTFA: "The team had interest in signing Kyle Orton, according to people of knowledge of the situation. But Orton agreed to terms with Dallas last week."
March 16, 2012
Robot to throw firefighting grenades, not the bad kind
March 15, 2012
There in their hour of need
Mayor Bloomberg comforts the aff...luent. (link)
To the barricades!
Kate Upton banned in America.
Has it really come to this? Now faceless Corporate Theocrat Oligarchs are denying citizens' right to look at Kate Upton, while allowing foreigners complete and unfettered visual access to this national treasure? Now our entertainment choices are censored by shadowy Boob Panels? The nation that once proudly broadcast Suzanne Somers and Jennifer Aniston to a grateful populace is now in grave danger of losing its pokie pre-eminence!
It is an outrage, sir, a travesty, a blot on our collective escutcheon. It will not stand.
I need hardly add: Of course you realize...this means war.
Sen. Olympia Snowe and Billions in Art School Fraud
I noticed a detail in her biography that made me wonder if it affected Sen. Olympia Snowe's (R) Maine decision not to run again.
Her husband, John R. McKernan, was the CEO of Education Management Corporation- which owns among other things the Art Institute of Seattle, and numerous affiliated Arts and other colleges across the country - during the time the Justice Department and a number of state attorneys general accuse the company of fraud- 11 Billion dollars worth, for receiving of federal student loans under violation of rules, since 2003. Sen. Snowe, according to Wikipedia, holds millions in EMC stock.
EMC is in turned owned by, wait for it, Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs profits from an enormous art school business operation where students are charged much, faculty paid little, and the taxpayer foots the bill.
I know many dedicated, honest, and committed people who work for the Art Institutes - but this model of education, which depends on heavy recruitment of marginal students who take out government-backed loans that are frequently never paid back, all pushed by a Goldman-Sachs drive for rapacious profits, is unethical. It misleads and bankrupts students, and it effectively defrauded the federal government of literally billions of dollars.
News articles characterize a major shift in the company culture in 2003 after Goldman Sachs purchased Education Management Corp, when McKernan, Snowe's husband, became CEO. He left in 2007.
What this comes down to is that Sen. Snowe has millions of dollars of investment with a company, formerly run by her husband, that defrauded the federal government of billions and threw thousands of young people into bankruptcy. Recent attempts to reform the student loan process in Congress to prevent this were thwarted by an intense lobbying campaign by EMC and Congressional allies . It would be interesting to detail her involvement - was she a supporter of reform, did she recuse herself, or did she push through protections for these companies and business practices?
I must continue to recommend strongly against students signing up with these corporate schools, which are very expensive, pay faculty paltry wages, and which relentlessly pressure less sophisticated students into taking out huge loans they have little hope of repaying. These schools are a financial threat to students, to faculty, and to public education.
This widespread corporate fraud affects the Arts directly - Art, much to many people's surprise, I am sure, is a real profession with real careers, but lying to students about career possibilities and pressuring them with military recruiter-like harassment (this has been described to me a number of times by art students), while inducing them into $80-100,000 in federally backed student loan debt, is an disgusting betrayal of educational responsibility.
Nothing convinces me of the value of public education more than the behavior of many for-profit education companies feeding grotesquely on the dreams of young people. It's time to challenge them directly, and to hold politicians accountable. Fortunately - I wasn't the only one to notice this connection, but it bears much more scrutiny; with the amount of money involved, I do not accept "frustrations with Washington" as an explanation for Sen. Snowe's resignation.
Direct Sources: Sen. Snowe, Education Management Corp, John McKernan Wikipedia pages.
New York Times:
Sun Journal article
Part 3 of New American Foundation Article on Educational Management Corp.
I say: Blast 'em
March 14, 2012
March 12, 2012
"That's MONOXIDE, you retard!"
Crafty scientists can't put one over on Rick Santorum:
March 11, 2012
Labels: Quonset Huts
March 10, 2012
This just in...
Thank you for your service
Before we started naming ships after faceless bureaucrats and political cronies, the most-honored name in the U.S. fleet was Enterprise.
The reputation that launched a dozen starships was earned here on earth, during World War II, by CV-6, the "Lucky E". Here are some moments from Enterprise's war:
Launching Torpedo Bombers at Midway (eight did not return)
A direct bomb hit in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons did not kill the photographer, as originally reported, but did blow a ten foot hole in the flight deck:
At long last...
A large group of corporate advertisers decides that it's time to stop supporting the hatemongers. This is good, although I do have one question.
Why were you supporting them in the first place?
March 09, 2012
Quonset Huts of the Central Valley, #5
Somewhere west of Los Banos
Labels: Quonset Huts
Quonset Huts of the Central Valley, #4
Madera, from Route 99
Labels: Quonset Huts
Quonset Huts of the Central Valley, #3
Labels: Quonset Huts
Cracked Again, Dammit
6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying. David Wong lays down a pithy, oblique critique of social darwinism, while I am again mildly irked by the sparkly brights writing at Cracked, of all places.
"It is apparently entirely possible to stay in that mindset, ignoring each new asset, right up until you're sleeping on a platinum bed under covers made of fur from a cloned woolly mammoth."
Should Be Allowed to End Their Own Lives
A BBC News funny trifle.
March 08, 2012
The circus is coming to town
With a muddled outcome from the 10 Super Tuesday states, there's no sign the GOP presidential primary process will be resolved before California Republicans hold a vote that pundits once said was too late to matter.
To answer your question
Consistent with her high signal/noise ratio, Corresponding Secretary General succinctly once asked "who are these people?" (link)
Since that post I have asked myself that question on many occasions, especially this one. Now, courtesy of the guiltiest of my guilty pleasure blogs, you have the answer.
March 07, 2012
An unsung joy of parenthood
I am in the very crowded lobby for the main theater of the huge performing arts center our oil money bought us during the Great Splurge of the '80s. The Anchorage Youth Symphony, for which my daughter plays bassoon, will be performing tonight.
I am here alone; she insisted that I invite no one else to this concert because she fears that it will "suck so bad." Her mom brought her, and we plan to meet up afterward so that I can take her home.
I'm milling through the thick crowd when I feel a sharp rap on my arm. My daughter has materialized from nowhere.
"Dad! Are you looking for me?" she demands.
"Good! Please don't!"
And then she is gone.
March 05, 2012
Huge news out of the NFL
The signing of Marshawn Lynch to a four-year deal last night -- actually, Seattle GM John Schneider had the deal all but done after a negotiating session at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that ended at 3:15 a.m. nine days ago -- is a boost for a team on the rise.
Lynch is a young player still; he doesn't turn 26 until next month, so when he finishes this contract he'll be 29 years old. In his five NFL seasons, he hasn't been beaten up; he's averaged 227 carries a season. The Seahawks went on a strong run with him late in the season, going 5-4 (with all four losses by 10 points or less) and beating Philadelphia and Baltimore in the process. In those nine games, Lynch, who revels in being called "BeastMode'' for his style of running, gained 104 rushing yards a game, on average, and changed Seattle's identity.
A fun-loving, Skittles-chomping player, Lynch even got the sedate billionaire owner of the Seahawks, Paul Allen, excited early this morning on Twitter. "BeastMode will be back!! Great news for this young, exciting team & 12th Man."
Oh, and as for that other story, here is how real men deal with bounty hunters:
March 04, 2012
Things Mitt Romney Is
Things Mitt Romney is:
1) A Flip-Flopper.
2) A Lip-Flapper.
3) A Flop-Flipper.
4) A Flap-Lapper
5) A Plat-Plopper.
6) A Blip-Blapper.
7) A Clip-Clopper
8) A Slip-Slopper
9) A Slop-Slipper.
10) A Flapper-Flosser.
11) A Clap-Clipper
12) A Flat-Platter
13) A Party-Pooper
14) A Floosie-Doodler
15) A Plot-Planter
16) A Glib-Gripper
17) A Twit-Flicker
18) A Brit-Blopper
19) A Shit-Shopper
20) Really Unlikable
Slapping in Public: Arguing With Villains
Truth often fails to win arguments, even with all trumpets blaring and cherubs flapping along in a decorative air show. If you are right, forthright, honest, insightful, well-researched, informed both subjectively and objectively, open to different perspectives, rhetorically gifted, poetically minded, kind in heart but strong in will - good for you. You are in the sight of God, or perhaps a phalanx of curious woodchucks, as you tirelessly chip down the lesser Limbaugh spewing vomitous hatred and indifferent lies before you.
You will lose against these con men, corporations and malefactors, unless you carefully chose your battles.
To engage a direct argument with an opponent who is dishonest about their motives and facts is to lose the argument. In a public debate, all points become equated as different perspectives- a great starting point in democratic culture with its presumption of fairness, but one now easily anticipated and manipulated.
It becomes relatively trivial to elevate their confidence game to your honestly-held philosophy. All they need to do this is to share a stage: you lose by walking out and shaking hands. After this, assuming you are trying to argue honestly, you are constrained by love of truth, hobbling your argument; your only real hope in moving hearts and minds is that your rhetoric is superior - in other words, that the rhetoric of truth moves the heart more effectively than the rhetoric of the unshackled villain.
If you try slapping a dishonest opponent with facts, and he slaps back with lies, and to an audience you both just look like slappers.
Seeing this, many people conclude: "They're all liars." "They're all the same." "Both sides are equally to blame." And the bad guy wins. The greatest tool of the organized malefactor is cynicism. It is planned on, and carefully stoked. (This kind of work naturally pays handsomely.)
Scientists often have terrible trouble realizing that presenting hard-won scientific results are not sufficient to win a real debate over real policy. This is why climate scientists poked with the sword of Truth at an entrenched machine gun emplacement operated by their malicious, ruthless, fabulously powerful opponents in the energy industry, and found themselves losing ground- and with it, very possibly, the life of the earth as we know it. They naively assumed everyone in power had something of the same respect for reality they did; and then found it utterly maddening - although predictable to the politically experienced- to suddenly face an brick wall when you are presenting what you know to be true.
This reaction is being manipulated right now with fake scandal after fake scandal of climate scientists' emails, illegally stolen emails, which prove little but that in their anger scientists were trying to figure out how to fight the Hydra of the energy industry. The scientists were played by paid experts, presumably working for the energy industry in a number of capacities, all of them despicable.
Winning a new social policy takes all the economic resources, compromises and organizational and rhetorical skill of any successful political movement. The truth is always a powerful ally, but in the reality of human societies, rarely a sufficient one.
Generally, don't argue directly with nakedly malicious opponents. It just ennobles them, while it brings you into their pit of filth. Instead, find new audiences, and organize.
It boils down to this: even the best, most honest argument, the most seamlessly logical, the most objectively considered, the most balanced and the most substantively researched, will fail, unless presented skillfully with emotional power, and, here's the key, unless backed by substantial, long-term, social, political, and economic organization.
The era of the whistleblower is gone, when all you do is to whistle into a hurricane of bullshit.
March 03, 2012
Apparently I joked about "house by Ikea" one too many times...
March 02, 2012
The 1,000th Boeing 777 rolled off the line today, after 17 years in production. Plenty more where that came from.
Man I love that plane. Some think it charmless, and there's no question it's a rougher ride than the stately 747 or the elephantine A-380. But it flies, man, you can feel it flying. And it's got the power/weight ratio of a turbocharged wolverine. And it's strong (see the original wing test here).
They say it can be kind of a pig to fly, but dig the crosswind landings. Or just dig this one, at the late, lamented Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport:
A friendly pilot's review is here. Well done, Boeing - here's to the next 1,000.
And a John Tesh Fan
An epic WTO protest-era insult rant in front of the Seattle City Council. Mark Sidran, the subject of this id-storm, was a rather dickish city attorney and mayoral candidate- for me to poop on.