February 28, 2014

Pretty great article on Auden

Evil is unspectacular and always human,
And shares our bed and eats at our own table.


Word to that

I never had an interest in being a mayor ’cause that’s a real job. You have to produce.


February 21, 2014

Dr. X approves

Tremble, Putin


Not a reassuring way to start a sentence

Before we make the leap to say the equations of quantum theory tell us the world is inescapably crazy and bizarre...


February 20, 2014

Another message from the nineties

I got my hair cut today.  My wife takes the family to a place in Chinatown, where cuts are cheap and white guys not seen much.  They generally put up with me, however...since I don't speak Chinese, some of my personality defects remain concealed when I'm there.

Today I waited next to a dignified elderly gentleman who was speaking English with another fellow in the chair.  He was 91, he said, and had served in World War II.  Me too, said the fellow in the chair.

"Which ship?"

"DD-779," said the other, pointing to the hat he left on the counter.  "After the war I worked at the Naval Air Station in Alameda."

"I worked in the Post Office," said the first.  "Seventeen cents an hour."  He gave me a meaningful look.

"What about you?" asked the man in the chair, as I surreptitiously looked up DD-779 on my Verizon-connected iPad.

"I signed up when I was 17.  They couldn't draft you until you were 18, but you could enlist if you were 17.  I was on DD-532.  Went everywhere...Leyte, Okinawa, Iwo Jima...we were everywhere."

"We were only at Okinawa," said the man in the chair.  "A lot of kamikazes at Okinawa, lot of people got killed from them kamikazes."

I Googled DD-532 and couldn't believe my eyes.  My frontal lobes malfunctioned, as they are prone to do, and I blurted out my internal monologue.

"You were on Heerman?!"

The fellow nodded.  I showed him the picture on my screen.

He laughed, couldn't believe it.

"He has it right here," he said to the man in the chair.

"You were at Samar," I said.

"Yes," he said.  "We got hit, but we only lost seven men.  We sailed back to Pearl, but they couldn't fix it there, so we had to come all the way back to San Francisco."

That was correct, but also leaves out quite a bit.  For instance he didn't mention that they helped sink Chikuma.  Or that at one point Heerman engaged a column of seven Japanese battleships.  Or that of the seven screening ships, three were sunk.  Or that their little detachment was the last thing between the Main Force of the Japanese fleet and the U.S. beaches.

I tried to get him to say a little more.  "They called your ships Tin Cans, right?"

"Yes."  He looked at me steadily.  "They wrote a book about us, Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors."

"Thank you," I said. "Some of us remember."  He said thank you, and we shook hands.

And then I shut up.



The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION to the


for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

"For extraordinary heroism in action against powerful units of the Japanese Fleet during the Battle off Samar, Philippines, October 25, 1944. Silhouetted against the dawn as the Central Japanese Force steamed through San Bernardino Strait towards Leyte Gulf, Task Unit 77.4.3 was suddenly taken under attack by hostile cruisers on its port hand, destroyers on the starboard and battleships from the rear. Quickly laying down a heavy smoke screen, the gallant ships of the Task Unit waged battle fiercely against the superior speed and fire power of the advancing enemy, swiftly launching and rearming aircraft and violently zigzagging in protection of vessels stricken by hostile armor-piercing shells, anti-personnel projectiles and suicide bombers. With one carrier of the group sunk, others badly damaged and squadron aircraft courageously coordinating in the attacks by making dry runs over the enemy Fleet as the Japanese relentlessly closed in for the kill, two of the Unit’s valiant destroyers and one destroyer escort charged the battleships point-blank and, expending their last torpedoes in desperate defense of the entire group, went down under the enemy’s heavy shells as a climax to two and one half hours of sustained and furious combat. The courageous determination and the superb teamwork of the officers and men who fought the embarked planes and who manned the ships of Task Unit 77.4.3 were instrumental in effecting the retirement of a hostile force threatening our Leyte invasion operations and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

For the President,

James Forrestal
Secretary of the Navy

February 17, 2014

What a 92 year-old fastball looks like

From the trusty arm of Roger Angell (link via Yglesias).


February 16, 2014

Ran the country for a while

Asked by Cutler whether he considers “a prolonged period of creating the sensation of drowning”—waterboarding—to be torture, Cheney’s response comes fast and certain:
I don’t. Tell me what terrorist attacks that you would have let go forward because you didn’t want to be a mean and nasty fellow. Are you gonna trade the lives of a number of people because you want to preserve your, your honor, or are you going to do your job, do what’s required first and foremost, your responsibility to safeguard the United States of America and the lives of its citizens. Now given a choice between doing what we did or backing off and saying, “We know you know their next attack against the United States but we’re not gonna force you to tell us what is is because it might create a bad image for us.” That’s not a close call for me.
Quite apart from the large factual questions blithely begged, there is a kind of stark amoral grandeur to this answer that takes one’s breath away. Just as he was likely the most important and influential American official in making the decision to withhold the protection of the Geneva Conventions from detainees, Cheney was likely the most important and influential American when it came to imposing an official government policy of torture. It is quite clear he simply cannot, or will not, acknowledge that such a policy raises any serious moral or legal questions at all. Those who do acknowledge such questions, he appears to believe, are poseurs, acting out some highfalutin and affected pretense based on—there is a barely suppressed sneer here—“preserving your honor.” What does he think of those—and their number includes the current attorney general of the United States and the president himself—who believe and have declared publicly that waterboarding is torture and thus plainly illegal? For Cheney the question is not only “not a close call.” It is not even a question.


February 14, 2014

So it's come to this

For Partensky, the take-away message is clear: if you see someone who needs medical assistance, don't call 911, because the police might come and beat you up. Instead, help that person get to the hospital in a taxi.



...in Puerto Rico. 

"Sometimes a man must rise above principle." - Warren Buffett


Twitter tales

February 13, 2014

Put top men on this!

As waters reached the Eton weights room, Cameron sprang into action..


February 12, 2014

That is unique

Sinkholes are common in the area, but this one was unique, Dettman said.

"One, it's full of Corvettes, and two that it was inside a structure," he said.



When you’re in a world where 40 money managers make as much as 300,000 high school teachers, it’s just silly to imagine that there will be any sense, on either side, of equal dignity in work.


February 11, 2014

Butt song from Hell


The Ballad of Bob and Vlad

A Scalzi-Tomorrow production, here.

By the way, Redshirts is not over.  A new chapter is beginning...

February 10, 2014

Better than adequate

February 09, 2014


Guess the state...

Four Taiwanese tourists on their way to an aurora borealis viewing lodge were rescued by troopers Friday after their car got stuck on a remote mining road...[on] the way to pick the women up, troopers ran into a wanted man and arrested him...


Just for reference here, clownpenis.com is worth $30

February 08, 2014

Guilty pleasures

Source:  New York Times


February 07, 2014

The Final Showdown

[F]or the Republican establishment, it may come down to this: Only a Bush can beat a Clinton.


February 05, 2014

Peyton Manning's Place in Football History

I come to bury Peyton, not to praise him.  Peter King said on Charlie Rose yesterday that he was glad to have a five year grace period before a player was eligible for induction.  Gives space, and time to reflect, he noted.  After all, he said, look at Kurt Warner.  We might have rashly inducted him into the Hall of Fame!  Now cooler heads can prevail and we can focus on a couple bad years with the Giants, and not the fact that he was one of the greatest playoff and Super Bowl quarterbacks in NFL history.  That's what perspective gets you.

Well, here at Eisengeiste we are not putting up with any of that perspective bullshit.  We are having this out, here and now.

Let's get this out of the way:  Peyton Manning's a great quarterback, and would go into the Hall of Fame even if he had never won a Super Bowl.  Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Dan Fouts and Warren Moon and a host of other fine players never reached the summit, and none of them have Peyton's five MVP awards.  So Peyton Manning is a Hall of Famer.  But how great was he, really?  How much weight do we place on his indifferent record in the playoffs vs. his astonishing ability to shell the crap out of a mediocre defense?

As I may perhaps have foreshadowed in the preceding sentence, I assign no great value to players who particularly excel against weak opposition.  In most sports there's an understanding that genuine skill is the ability to defeat a superior opponent, not an inferior one.  Manning's lifetime 11-12 playoff record and 1-2 Super Bowl record suggest that when the going gets tough, Peyton Manning gets average.  Let me pick a statistic somewhat at random.  Let's say, Times Intercepted in the Super Bowl:
  • Manning:  4 (3 games)
  • Montana:  0 (4 games)

So that's not great.

But, we can select individual stats all day to prove one side or the other.  Manning, for example, is only the third man to lead two different teams to the Super Bowl, along with the aforementioned Warner and the immortal Craig Morton.  Are you smarter after reading that sentence than you were before?  Probably not.  Am I smarter for having written it?  Alas, an objective observer would likely say no.

What is needed is some objective analysis.  It is time, then, to deploy the Eisengeiste Immortality Screen.  This is a statistical survey of exceptional playoff performances using the Football Reference database.  Players who get to the playoffs, and deliver great games, will appear on this list a lot.  The longtime champion is Joe Montana, who on six occasions had a passer rating above 112 in a playoff game.  No one else has ever done that.  So I will state, with some confidence, that Peyton Manning is not as good as Joe Montana.

That said, he's awfully good.  After his fine performance against the Patriots in the playoffs, he now has five such games, a distinction shared only with Tom Brady and Troy Aikman.

Here is the list of all players with more than two such games:

  • Joe Montana, 6
  • Tom Brady, 5
  • Peyton Manning, 5
  • Troy Aikman, 5
  • Bret Favre, 4
  • Eli Manning, 4
  • Joe Flacco, 4
  • Kurt Warner, 4
  • Aaron Rodgers, 3
  • Drew Brees, 3
  • Jeff Hostetler, 3
  • Jim Kelly, 3
  • Joe Theisman, 3
  • Philip Rivers, 3
  • Terry Bradshaw, 3

This list feels fair and right to me.  Manning is a great quarterback, one of the greatest of all time, and a little better than his little brother.  All is right with the world.

But what about that poor playoff record?  My moment of clarity came on this on Monday, when Greg Cosell was being interviewed on a local radio show.  He said it occurred to him, as the game progressed, that Denver's team wasn't very good.  He had been so fixated on Manning's skill, he hadn't fully taken on board how weak his supporting cast was.  Said another way, could the Seahawks have gotten to the Super Bowl without Russell Wilson?  Probably.  Could the Broncos - with all those injuries on defense - have gotten to the Super Bowl without Peyton Manning?  Never.  Manning carried them there, and there they died.

For all the talk of the NFL as a quarterback's league, there have been very few quarterbacks who could transform a team overnight.  Warner did it with the Cardinals when he went there.  Favre failed with the Jets, but improved the Vikings from 10-6 to 12-4.  Montana did not do it when he went to the Chiefs - under DeBerg they went 11-5 and 10-6, with Krieg they went 10-6, and under Montana they went 11-5.  Manning clearly improved the Broncos - by a lot - despite the chilling impact of his oversized contract.  But that contract ultimately undid him.  He was lonely Hector facing Achilles, Ajax, Odysseus, Agamemnon, and Nestor...intrepid, defiant, but doomed.

So perhaps we can agree that Peyton Manning was one of the greatest quarterbacks who ever lived,   so good that he often had teams in the playoffs that really did not belong there.  So good that he could not win a lot of Super Bowls.

Put it on his plaque in Canton.

February 04, 2014

I was wondering when he'd get to that...

(At the end of an unusually football-focused TMQ)

The highest scoring offense in football history trailed 29-0 when the Broncos began their first drive of the second half. With a fast-paced attack, Denver's hopes were not foreclosed. The Broncs moved quickly from their 23 to first down at the Bluish Men Group 38. The most important Seattle defensive series of the night then occurred, though without any flashy play -- incompletion, incompletion, loss of a yard. Now it's fourth-and-11 on the Seattle 39, and in trots the punting unit.

Not only was Denver punting when down by 29 points in the second half of the Super Bowl, not only was the No. 1 offense in pro football history punting when down by 29 points in the Super Bowl, a team trailing by 29 points in the second half of the Super Bowl was punting in opposition territory...

In the NFC title contest, Seattle's low-voltage offense faced a similar choice -- fourth-and-7 on the San Francisco 35 -- and went for it. Result of the play: touchdown...

As the punt boomed, your columnist thought, "This is the single worst play in all of football history."


February 03, 2014

You are CORRECT sir

"The NFC Championship was the Super Bowl," Sherman said. "The 49ers were the second-best team in the NFL."

I think Carolina would have handled Denver, too.  Their schedule was comically easy.

It was a different time

‘Get cracking, you oafish rake!’ shrieked Vidal with a cackle of glee and inserted two large amyl nitrate ampules, one in each of my nostrils, and then popped them in double quick order. Simultaneous to this, Miss Kim pressed with great vigor the two ice cubes against my pulsating member, and the diabolic Rivers injected a heady potion of amphetamine laced with Spanish Fly into my templer vein. 


That's...bad...I think

Revealed: Racy 'Catwoman' lover of Nazi shame Tory MP was on the committee that cleared him over his French stag-do lies... as video emerges of his friends chanting 'Hitler' 


February 02, 2014

Closer than I expected, except for the score