January 31, 2010

Your new life begins now

January 30, 2010

Speaking truth to craziness

Obama goes toe-to-toe with House Republicans on their turf. When was the last the last time a Democrat confronted them this way? 
"What happens is that you guys don't have a lot of room to negotiate with me," Obama said. "The fact of the matter is, many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own party . . . because what you've been telling your constituents is, 'This guy's doing all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America.' "
"Let's face it," he said, "some of you have been at the ribbon-cuttings of some of these important projects in your communities."
Sure, they got him at least once, totally scored:
Obama was pressed by freshman Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah on why he had not followed through on his pledge that healthcare negotiations would be broadcast on TV. Obama argued that most of the debate had in fact been aired, except for some of the talks close to the Senate vote.

"That was a messy process," Obama said. "I take responsibility."


I can't think of any Democratic politician of my lifetime who would have had the courage, or the cool, to do this.

January 28, 2010

Nanooks fever - catch it!

It had to be said

Alito, you bitch.

January 26, 2010

White Chocolate Amok

The SacBee has the story.  Check it: starting point guard gets hurt, J Will comes in, team goes 13-4.  Starting point guard comes back, team goes 6-8...

What?  "The poor man's Steve Nash"?!  How about "the hip-hop John Stockton"?

Meanwhile, on the court last week...

Alley-oop to Carter:

Alley-oop to Pietras:

Behind-the-back to Barnes:

January 25, 2010

East Coast Media Bias

Peter King didn't mention Pete Carroll once today.

January 22, 2010

Whatcha gonna do 'bout White Chocolate?

Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm as loyal to the white race as anyone.  I find white women attractive (although I'm not sure I'd marry one...) and certainly enjoy the work of white artists and musicians.

But an all-white basketball league?  Nah.

Ray Ratto explains the best thing about this strange story - that it died almost overnight because it's stupid, and everyone got that right away.

But the press releases and the reflexive denunciations left open a question or two.  For example, what does it mean to play 'white basketball'?  Because if you're going to have an all-white basketball league, I'd think you'd want Bobby Jones in it...but Bobby played black:

And Bobby's a good Christian, too. And you can't leave out Tom Chambers...he was white but white in a righteous, funky-licious kind of way:

Ok, these guys are old now, so they'd have to limit their minutes, but what about Jason Williams?  For a nostalgic guy like me, who remembers Chocolate Thunder and Bad News Barnes and Pistol Pete, Jason Williams is the only professional basketball player that really matters.   He's got skills:

Yeah, they call him White Chocolate.  And here's the thing, you stupid sons-of-bitches:  If you let Jason Williams play in your league, he will dazzle and delight audiences with hardwood creativity that is blacker than Glenn Beck's soul. And if you don't let him play, well you might as well dress the teams in skirts and ride tricycles.

Jason Williams refutes you, you dumb bastards. He refutes you outright.

Oh, and thanks for reminding me about him. It's nice to see he got a gig this season, so he doesn't need no stupid honky league anyway (turn up your speakers):

[UPDATE] Here is an feature and interview from the start of the decade. Q: "Can you can get enough basketball?" A: "I don't think anyone can."


Without Pete, we wouldn't have this...

SF Police Unveil Exciting New Crimestopping Technique

Yes, they are now going to use fingerprints to identify miscreants.

See also, Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894).

January 21, 2010

PC and The Schneid?

"Something special happened between John and I," Carroll said, describing the Seahawks' interview with Schneider.

Pete Carroll Strong/Weak Points, from the Onion.

January 18, 2010

Inbreeding illustrated

"If your family tree...does not fork..." said Jeff Foxworthy, "you just might be a redneck."

Or a Habsburg (bio).

In Loss

Swamp-walk the field of razor grass,
Sharp sheaves of steel, magnetic
To the iron in your blood.

Upon the rust red ground, sit,
And all will gleam in menace.

Stand then.


Pick out at the extreme horizon
Beyond this green-gray field,
Shimmering uncertain smudges,
The visual reduction of friends.

And toward these,
With a turbulent company of
Fears and injuries,

January 17, 2010

Preliminary notes on the equilibrium vampire population

There is no question in my mind that there are vampires.  The question really should be how many vampires are there, and, as a corollary, what is the optimal strategy for a single vampire?  Essential considerations:
  • I believe the basic dynamics can be adequately modeled using a slightly modified Lotka-Volterra equilibrium model.
  • However, vampires can theoretically live forever.  This raises the stakes considerably for them.  Even apparently minor threats should be eliminated, as the present value of eternal life is quite high. 
  • Threat #1:  Starvation.  If the Lotka-Volterra dynamics get out of hand, we will be up to our asses in vampires, and they will kill and eat every human being and then all starve to death.  So, to prevent this eventuality, each individual vampire has a strong incentive to kill any other vampire it comes across.
  • Threat #2:  Discovery.  While weak, humans are somewhat intelligent and can take countermeasures if a vampire is discovered.  It is therefore paramount that vampires be discrete, operating in areas where communications and mass media are undeveloped and the victims ill-informed about vampires.  It also provides a strong incentive to kill any vampires that appear not to be sufficiently discrete.  After all, the best defense is to be so obscure that no one believes you even exist.
  • Threat #3:  Other vampires.  Since Threats #1 and #2 both give vampires huge incentives to kill other vampires, it follows that the most serious threat to vampires is other vampires.  Since vampires are the greatest threat to vampires, this gives any one vampire significant additional incentive to kill other vampires.
Therefore, the vampire population is likely to be significantly lower than the Lotka-Volterra prediction.  This, in turn, leads to an overabundance of humans, and the problems resulting from that are evident.

Question for the Colts: "Do you know what 'nemesis' means?"

In case you slept through your mythology classes (and the movie Snatch) it is "A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent."

Back on December 27th, the Indianapolis Colts decided, since they already had a lock on home field advantage throughout the playoffs, that they didn't need to win the football game they happened to be playing against the New York Jets. With a five-point lead, the pulled their starters, and let the Jets beat them 29-15. After all, so the reasoning went: what do we possibly have to lose?

If the Jets had lost that game, they would have been out of the playoffs. Instead, as a wild card, they have now defeated two division champions (Cincinnati and San Diego), and go back to Indianapolis for the AFC Championship game next Sunday.

Nobody gives the Jets a snowball's chance in hell of winning in Cincy San Diego Indy.

(Pictured: Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis)

Letter from England

Sold in the U.S. as the Pontiac G8, until the suits found out it was a good product and killed it.

January 16, 2010

Pete Carroll may, possibly, not be The Antichrist

This Boston Globe article reports that both Patriots ownership and former players think highly of Carroll, and believe he has a good chance to win in Seattle.
  • “I think Seattle is very lucky to have gotten him at this point,’’ Kraft said.  “He’ll be a lot of fun to be around, he’s had great experience, he’s a real good leader, and he’s been toughened up. I’m glad they’re in the NFC.’’
  • “I think he had time at ’SC to evolve, and learn more about coaching, game-planning, dealing with different personalities and personas, and do it on a really big stage,’’ said McGinest. “He’s evolved. I think he’ll win [in Seattle]. I’ve always thought he was a really good coach.’’
And, apparently the Seahawks already run the USC defense.

Man, when I sober up I'm going to regret writing this.

Someone's been having me on

I picked up (virtually) the 1934 Sears catalog today.  The inside cover features a smart wool men's overcoat for $9.50, some nice-looking shirts for $1.19.  Good deals!

But are they?  I decided to take a look, by adjusting the numbers for inflation.  They're ok, I guess...  The shirt would run about $20 today, the hat and shoes about $30 each...  The coat, a smart wool number, would run you $150.  That's odd, that's almost exactly what I'd expect to pay today - well, except for the shoes, where nice leather ones like that would run you more nowadays.

Which bugs me.  I've always been taught that the Internet and free trade have made commodities - like apparel - cheaper.  Now I find that an American-made wool jacket bought from a catalog in a world without free trade...costs about the same as something roughly comparable from Overstock.

Wool blankets?  $4.00 then, $64.00 in today's dollars.  Today I can get a cheap one at the Army Navy for $29.96, or a nicer one at Wal-Mart for $85-$125.

Not much improvement.  Except for the shoes, which are going to run you more.

You know the dollar store...here on the Peninsula they actually have $1.50 stores now.  Here is the equivalent page from the Sears catalog.

Damn, those shoes are cheap!

But...if they're charging the same price for the items...and the costs are lower...then that means they must be making a bigger profit, and that the benefits of globalization are not accruing to consumers, but to the shareholders and managements of the companies that are shifting production to low-wage countries at the expense of American workers...

But if we look at executive compensation and corporate profit margins in recent years we discover...that before the economy crashed, they were at or near all-time highs.  Executive pay still is.

Hmm.  Maybe these guys were right.

We're unbeatable now!

The media is now confirming what FSL reported just moments ago...Kippy Brown has been signed.

"Brown most recently coached with the Detroit Lions from 2006 to 2008. He also served as head coach in the XFL, running the Memphis Maniax in 2001."

January 15, 2010

Faces of the Game

The Block of Granite (yes, really)


The Sphinx


The Smart Guy


The Bulldog


The Sith Lord


The WTF?


Admit it, they blew it

Kippy Brown is in play.  Kippy Brown! 

January 13, 2010

The Sport of Kings

Some time in the next hour, somewhere in the world, a large jet aircraft is going to land in a crosswind.  It will probably go fine - these are well-designed airplanes, and the pilots are highly skilled.  It sure is fun to watch, though (my favorite starts at 1:31):

Pleasant enough, but we were deprived of significant entertainment when they closed Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport.  Kai Tak had nice, steady crosswinds and a famously hairy approach.  Best familiarize yourself with the pattern before we begin - mistakes lead into hills or apartment buildings.  Here is an in-cockpit view of the correct procedure.  Remember:  when you see the checkerboard - TURN RIGHT!  When you exit the turn you'll be 140 feet or so off the ground.  Then you can land.

Here's how it looked from the checkerboard:

Easy-peasy.  Ok, now try it in a big crosswind.  A JAL pilot demonstrates:

And here's a 777 making some last-minute adjustments:

In 1998 they built a shiny new airport, making Hong Kong a lot safer, but also (*sniff*) a little poorer, too.

"Pete Carroll Might Be on Crack, But Whatever"

Seattle Sports columnist Jack Daniels at the Bleacher Report stands up for Carroll. Also, he has the best headline, above, for a column about Carroll's press conference.

Operation Chowhound, May 1, 1945

A salute to Ted, the WWII Army Air Forces Veteran who kindly told me the story behind this yesterday.

On May 1, 1945, a week before the end of the War in Europe, the people of Amsterdam were starving. Amazingly, a truce was arranged with the Germans for an air drop of food into the city by the US 8th Air Force.

But this was a WWII scale air drop: 400 of the big 4 engine bombers, which had just been busy dropping 3 ton loads of explosives each on cities like Berlin, were now sent in to drop flour, Swiss bread, and chocolate. These aircraft normally flew well over 25,000 feet, and came in, with full flaps and as slow as possible to indicate a mission of mercy, at the absurd altitude of 400 feet, close enough to see the German anti-aircraft gunners standing still by their guns. Had the Germans fired, the carnage to the American bombers would have been beyond description; had the mission been the bombing mission these planes had been on the previous days, Amsterdam would be wiped out.

The Dutch gathered in the street by the thousands, waiting.

Inside the B-17 " Snell's Snails," the crew couldn't resist. They opened a giant box of chocolate and took a few bites. It was, Ted told, fantastic. But these air warriors, taking an odd break from deadly conflict and months of mass destructive bombing, gathered their wits, agreed the chocolate was meant for the Dutch, and packaged it up again for the drop, a few nibbles shy.

The mission continued over the week. In a sweet parody of the problem of having to physically kick a live bomb out of the bomb bay, the doors open to the sky when it "hung up," Ted had to leave his station at the tail gun to help kick the boxes of chocolate to fall on Holland.

When they fell, the food sometimes skipped dangerously near people; a 50 pound sack of flour is pretty lethal if it falls on your head. Sometimes the packages hit smack into muck and stuck there. People rushed for the food.

Decades later, he visited a small shop in Amsterdam, and told this story; the fellow brought his mother out and she beamed with delight- she had been there that day; the Swiss bread was the best she ever had.

A distinction here is not only the massive scale of the Operation - four hundred aircraft, but the immediate re-purposing of the bombers and crews; yesterday killing and destroying, today feeding. Commonly, 6-8% of B-17s and B-24s were lost every mission. Flying with total vulnerability into a Nazi truce in Operation Chowhound, 4000 American flyers took as great a risk doing this as in any raid, maybe greater.

An excellent set of photos and documents related to this mission. 

January 11, 2010

Deep Thought

Roger Maris isn't in the Hall of Fame, one of only two multiple MVP winners not included (Dale Murphy is the other).

So why is Mark McGwire even in the conversation?

January 09, 2010

Question: where as this outrage a year ago?

To the Seahawks fans and press who have decided, before it has even been made official, that hiring Pete Carroll is a terrible idea, I want to know: where was this outrage last year when the Seahawks made Jim Mora the head coach?

Well, I suppose we people are bound to be less outraged when they are less surprised, regardless of how bad the decision is. Mora had been anointed heir-apparent a year before Holmgren retired, so that people would be less scared about the prospect of replacing the venerated leader with coach whose track record was far less than confidence inspiring.

One reason I like the NFL is that it is lot more meritocratic than the real world, and the idea of even having an heir-apparent in the first place is a little weird. However, if you have a dynasty you want to maintain, it makes sense.

The Seahawks did not have a dynasty, unfortunately. In fact, they finished 4-12 in Holmgren's last year, the worst finish since 1992. So why was "continuity" desirable in that situation?

Why didn't the Seahawks front office look for and hire the best coach they could find at the end of 2008? Making a commitment to promote a second-year coaching assistant a year in advance was bad business, and makes me feel even better about Tim Ruskell getting canned.

NOTE: I just want to say that the Steve Kelly column I linked to above is pure garbage. It's the level of analysis I would expect from fans who call into talk shows or, well, Steve Kelly.

In case of emergency...

For no reason whatsoever, here is some information on the professional football team based closest to Alaska.

The BC Lions of the Canadian Football League have a proud and distinguished history.  Founded in 1954, they have won five Grey Cups, the most recent coming in 2006.  With a steady, proven hand at the helm in Wally Buono, who has been in charge since 2003, they appear free of the misjudgments and management drama that have affected other professional football teams in the, er, region. 

Although the 2009 campaign culminated in elimination, it was nonetheless eventful.  They tried five different quarterbacks, but the team did find its way into the playoffs and even advanced with a big overtime win against the Tiger-Cats.  Alas, the Montreal Alouettes ended the dream in the eastern final, sending the Lions down to an ignominious 56-18 defeat.

Yeah.  Stable, successful coaching.  A winning record.  Playoff victories.  Interested, sailor?

As a friend once said in a strangely analogous situation..."it's a chillingly plausible possibility..."


Pete Carroll?

Inside the Seahawk Fan Brain:

January 08, 2010

Oh, it's on all right

LA Times columnist wonders if coaching the Seahawks might tarnish Carroll's reputation: 
"USC is Heisman Trophies, Heritage Hall, the Trojan Band and fighting for the BCS national title nearly every year.  It’s Notre Dame, UCLA, the Coliseum and the Rose Bowl.
"The Seahawks are in Seattle someplace, on the way to Alaska."
 Then it gets kinds of patronizing.

So now I'm kind of torn.  Part of me is like - WTF?

The other part of me is like - we are so going to kick USC's ass, next time they play the Seahawks.


Seahawks Decade of Domination debuts

Labels: , ,

Oh, already with the scurrilous rumors

As if Pete Carroll would quit a job to avoid an investigation...hello ladies!


Watch and learn

You know he's ready.

Eisengeiste Scoop: Carroll Meets Seahawks Front Office


Sources: Creepy weasels decide they will probably hire another creepy weasel. The tipoff that this is inside stuff: they used the word "process".


January 07, 2010

From the Mouths of Babes

Son #2: "Hey Dad, wanna hear my opera?"

Me: "Sure, go ahead."

Son #2: > screams at the top of his lungs <

No One Plays D Anymore

Don't let him have that! You've got to take that shot away!

January 06, 2010

Head of Nail, meet Hammer

Josh Marshall finally asks:
Why are we giving these terrorists the honor of being called 'criminals' when we could really stick it to them and label them 'warriors'?

George Lucas on the Daily Show

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January 01, 2010

A Nod to the Daughter Artist, Rose Adélaïde Ducreux

In response to Dr. X, I find myself at something of a loss for words in finding this beautiful painting by M. Ducreux's daughter,  Rose Adélaïde, which is far superior to her father's work in technical refinement (much more ambitious light, detail, background, composition and surface refinement) and charm, if not cheekyness, although on closer examination, I would say that cheek is here in spades too.

At least on the internet, there is very little information on this enchanting figure, which is very surprising for such a skilled artist. She died relatively young, at about 41. The masterpiece self-portrait here is in the collection of the Met, and yes, she not only played the harp but composed for it.

I could only find one other work by her, and a portrait of her painting - by David himself. 

What I am especially amazed about is how little work by her there appears to be- but no one could have achieved this without many years of training and practice - the superior formal refinement suggests to me formal training by David (let me assure you that light falling on a patterned rug is no small matter) 

I was able to find a short scrap about some work attributed to David that may have been done by her. She must have done much more work to reach this level of refinement, most of which now probably regarded as other artists' work.

She seems strangely under-researched. Next time I'm in New York, I'll visit this at the Met. 

The Coolest Cat

A few marks of a successful career in painting:
  • You paint a portrait of a girl that sells her to the Dauphin. Once she's queen, she makes you First Painter to the Queen.
  • Jacques-Louis David thinks you're cool, sets you up.
  • You paint portraits of yourself in unusual poses. One ends up in the Louvre, the other in the Getty.
  • The one in the Louvre becomes the basis for an Internet meme.
I could go on, but let's just pause and celebrate the total awesomeness of Joseph Ducreux.

Today's Urgent Headlines Today for January 1, 2010

Rush Limbaugh Rushed to Appleby's With Hunger Pains

Analyst: American Zero Industry Expects 1/3  Reduction in Sales in 2010

Lethal "Ding" Horrifies Bystanders as Steve Jobs Killed by Falling Rotary Phone  

Senator Joe Lieberman Reportedly Beholden To Crème Brûlée Lobby

U.S. Economic Activity Incre....Headline Writer Already Bored

Adorable Kittens Get Out of Box and Immediately Lie Down on Floor

Iran and China Compete in Crack-Down-Off

View of Stunning Bettie-Page Look-Alike Blocked by Cheerful, Solicitous Grandmother

Annual Festival of the Disorganized Taking Place Sometime This Next Month or So In San Bernadino, Chicago, or Boise at One of Those Big Hotels Which Probably Still Has Room

In Today's Urgent Headlines Today Urgent Hi-Tech Opinions Today, by the editors of Wired Magazine:  "Mirco Robots Installed on Your Face Giving You Orders Are Inevitable and Have Many Benefits, So Get Over It."

News Consumers Pass Over Subtle Joke About Zero Industry Sales in 2010

New York Times Moves to All Twitter-Format

Nations' Squirrels Chatter at Obama Over Slow-to-Implement Nut Promises

Reports: iPhone's Douchebag App Runs Quietly In Background

Paul Krugman Calls NY Times Publishers " Mthfking Uslss GDmn Mrnic Fckrs

Israeli, Palestinian Reluctantly Share Last Bag of M and Ms

Hacked Emails Show Climate Scientists Angry at People Who Deny Facts