March 31, 2010

Doing What It Takes or "My Face Hurts"

March 30, 2010

Maybe I do have what it takes to play in the NHL

March 29, 2010

In search of a real quarterback

The news Jamarcus Russell might have reported a little out of shape worries and saddens me, because it means, just possibly, Al Davis will get out of denial and hire an actual quarterback.  I have nothing against Davis.  Wouldn't it be great to have your own football team and run it whimsically?  The man is living the dream.

But this crazy idea of luring Donovan McNabb to the good.

Really?  McNabb's in play?  Are you kidding me?

I ran a little study the other day.  There are only 14 NFL quarterbacks who have held a starting job the last three seasons.  If we discard Warner, who isn't playing anymore, and Bulger, who wasn't any good, you get this group of 12:

Name (IAYPA over last three years)
Rivers (6.8) - A little respect for David Rivers is in order.
Schaub (6.7) - Ditto for Matt Schaub.
Romo (6.6) - Hey, remember that time he botched the hold and cried like a girl?  Still makes me laugh.
Roethlisberger (6.4) - His new nickname:  Bad Choices
Brees (6.4) - A great player.
Manning, P (6.4) - Also great player, though not as great as his endorsement deals would imply.
McNabb (6.3) - So what does that make McNabb?
Garrard (6.3)
Favre (6.1)
Campbell (5.6)
Manning, E (5.5)
Cutler (5.4)

Aaron Rodgers is seriously good, but has only played two years.  Brady, of course, missed a season due to poor knee conditioning.

And that's it.  There are no other proven quarterbacks in the NFL.  32 teams, 12 (or maybe 14) guys you can put out on the field with confidence.

One of them is in play.

Where are the Seahawks?

March 27, 2010

Sign the ticket, citizen

Or else.

March 25, 2010

A meme is born

In Indiana? LOL.

How to get fired from The American Enterprise Institute

"At the beginning of this process, we made a strategic decision: Unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when president George W. Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama's Waterloo," Mr. Frum wrote. "This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none. ... It's Waterloo all right: ours."

My Brief Moment of Madness has Passed

After wasting too much time researching my next votes, I have decided that I will not vote for Tom Campbell.

If I had waited a week or so I could have saved myself some work since Campbell has responded to the passage of the health insurance bill. He thinks states should sue the federal government. Decision made. Now, I gotta see what can be done to re-elect Boxer. Sigh. How much longer do I have to be a single-issue voter?

Now, turning my attention to the gubernatorial race, I begin investigating this guy - warning if you follow the link to his campaign website it autoplays the national anthem.

The G.O.P. and Some Permutations



The Other People's Labor Party

The Minorities Whose First Names are Tiger Party

The Gated Community Party

The Gregarious Ogre Party

Grendel's Other Pals

The Golf Party

The Turret's Syndrome Policy Generator Party

The Oddly Boring Shrieking Psychopath Party

The Fix Market Consolidation With More Market Consolidation Party

The Wealth Means God Loves You Party

The Angry Millionaire Party

The Angry Millionaire's Terrified Employees' Party

The Angry at Science Party

The Angry at Blacks Party

The Angry at Soldiers Party

The Angry at Teachers Party

The Angry at Facts Party

Splinter Group: the Angrier Angry Party

The Weirdly Angry at People Worse Off Than You Party

The Angry at Gays Party

The Emotional Projection Party

God's Ordained Party

God's Original Party

The God is Telling Me How to Fuck You Party

God Help Us Party

God's Pants Off Dance Off Party

Gaga for Palin Party

The Old "Shoot Your Friends in the Face While Suspending Habeus Corpus Trick" Party

The Gleeful Optometrist Party

The Pretty Party

Glenn, The Fear-Aggressive Coward Party

The Where? Let's Invade It! Party

The Party Who Loves the Constitution: Not the Legal Stuff, That's Gay- Just the Interesting Paper and Neat Old-Timey Handwriting

Gays for Reagan

Furries For Reagan

The Gay Old Party

Very Gay Old Party

The Liberace-Standard Gay Party

Super-Secret Boyfriend Party



The WWF Guide to Public Education Party

The Low-dangling Shriveled Geriatric Balls That Make a "Boingy" Sound Party

Let's Just Admit It: The Party For Placing Genitals Atop Other People's Heads

The "Check the Mirror: Neo-Fascism May Be Closer Than It Appears" Party

March 24, 2010

I wonder why there aren't more doctors like this

"This is too good for money," he says.

March 23, 2010

Awakening at The Georgian

We have not mentioned The Georgian hotel in Santa Monica since Latouche went dark, an injustice I remedy today.
It was grey and cold in the midwest.  Winter is perhaps over, but the after-effects linger like the aftermath of a misjudged dose of tequila.  Grey skies, virtually empty streets, the brown Ohio River coiled a little too snugly around the corporate dystopia that is downtown. 

The flight to LA was special.  Back coach, middle seat, the person in front of me put their seat back - but it was only for five hours... Due to turbulence, bathroom visits were forbidden. The wealthier passengers took the edge off their hunger with small boxes of fruit and cheese, at six dollars apiece.

This morning, bright sun, the sound of the Pacific Ocean, a light breakfast in the art deco lobby of Bugsy Siegel's masterpiece on Ocean Blvd (also, for a while, the home of Rose Kennedy), and just before work a few treasured minutes with the paper on the veranda.

And sitting there it wasn't hard to understand how Johnny Carson - originally from Corning, Iowa, first performance on WOW in Omaha - came here and saw no point in ever going back.  The sudden rush of unhurried comfort, of everyday beauty driving down long avenues lined with towering palms, could only result in a renunciation of what had come before, a wholehearted decision that this was the place one belonged.  At first.

As the natives know, you have to pace yourself here.  But you cannot stop either.  Beneath that unhurried pace beats a remorseless capitalist heart, and every party, every casual cocktail is another foray in career management, every offhand encounter the opportunity to be discovered, or make a comeback, or help someone who can help you.

It is marvelous place to spend a day, but no more. Anyway, The Georgian is too small to attract the most toxic elements from Beverly Hills and Century City. It is just slightly closer to Omaha than the rest, but still with pretty girls and a fine fresh breeze.

March 20, 2010

Joe Klein says it out loud

"This is a big deal.

"And a big problem for Republicans who, yet again, have chosen not to participate in the extension of a basic human right to all Americans--the right to health care--a right that is common throughout the rest of the civilized world."

Boxer faces serious challenge

"Three-term Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer is in her toughest re-election campaign ever, finding herself in a virtual tie with two of her possible Republican opponents while her disapproval rating is rising, according to a Field Poll released today."

March 19, 2010

A little too close to home

One page of a book and I'm caught, staying up
My wife suggests, several times, "Enough is enough."
Ivory tower suffering;  my lady's perturbed.
I've grown old.  And still just a schoolboy.

- Yuan Mei
tr. J.P. Seaton

A Propagandistic Point About Today's Republican Party.

Power of the Internets

I was doing a little research on Bouvet Island for a correctional facility plan I am developing, when I found this enjoyable page.  The possibilities are endless!

March 18, 2010

Sing Cuckoo, Dammit!

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med

And springþ þe wde nu,
Sing cuccu!
Awe bleteþ after lomb,
Lhouþ after calue cu.
Bulluc sterteþ, bucke uerteþ,
Murie sing cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu, wel singes þu cuccu;

Ne swik þu nauer nu.

Sing cuccu nu. Sing cuccu.
Sing cuccu. Sing cuccu nu!

I think I might vote Republican. Really

Tom Campbell is running for the U.S. Senate and I think he's got my vote even though he got his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago, a grave error I blame on his youth.

I'm tired of Barbara Boxer and maybe she's a bit tired too; she's 70 (he's 58). Or maybe I'm suffering from moderates deprivation.

An example that might not be pointless: here's what you see when you select "issues" from their respective websites (results I have edited selectively, but not completely unfairly, to bolster my argument in a cheap-shot kind of way).

Budget Plan, Economy, Health Care, Water, Immigration, National Security, Environment

African American Issues, Armenian Issues, Asian American Issues, Latino Issues, LGBT Issues, Progressive Issues, Women

Identity politics makes me feel very tired.

Dr. X's path might have crossed with someone who knows Tom Campbell, so perhaps he will send us an advisory telex from his satellite offices in Itaquitinga where I am given to understand he is reviewing his sugarcane interests.

March 17, 2010


The Seahawks have made a (to be charitable) puzzling move. Nine days ago, they traded backup QB Seneca Wallace to Cleveland for a hand-full of magic beans (a late-round draft pick in 2011). Today, they traded 2nd round 2010 picks (#40 for #60), and a 3rd round pick in 2011, with San Diego for 28 year-old clipboard jockey Charlie Whitehurst.

I guess you could say Whitehurst is "untested." He has not thrown a pass in an NFL game.

And just in case you're wondering: $5-million a year.

March 13, 2010

A Day That Will Live in Stupidity

December 11, 1941:  Germany decides to call out the United States of America.

Alaskan Like You

I've come to an unexpected realization: I don't hate Don Young, anymore.

In my parents waning years, I listened more to what the old-timers had to say, and I suppose it made more more nostalgic for their past. For his many many (many), faults, Don Young is the genuine article. As close to a "real Alaskan" as a white man can get. A real right-wing crank in a Republican party full of cynical huckster playing to the cranks.

Sometimes you can't help for feeling sympathy for a dying breed, even if you think the world will be a better place for that breed dying off.

The Fight Next Door

Over a rye or two, a French friend told me how she visited home recently, and said that she was glad to be back. France is much more sexist, she said, and added that Europe still has a smell of fascism.

She had been talking about the degree of France's collaboration during the War, a fact often hidden behind the heroism of the resistance. This lead to her asking me why American men are so fascinated by WWII.

It is worth asking. Old wars have an aesthetic, even hypnotic appeal that can become very dangerous, turning from compelling and settled history into to an acceptance of war as normal and expected, something worth remembering, celebrating; this offers a narrow leap to militarism. 

I told her I thought that it was the last time that the national purpose and what is good- and what an individual could do- seemed clear. But the appeal of shooting and bombing a bunch of the worst people in the world and this being noble, just and good because it is a righteous cause is frighteningly strong. That period was America at its best, at its most noble, constructive and idealistic. I think this is true; it is also true that we were at our most terrifyingly violent, lethal and destructive. 

WWII still gives Americans a flush of pride; I feel it too. It is right in many ways. We really did defeat militaristic genocidal fascism. It was UK and Russia (the latter losing 20 million people)- and all the conquered- that carried the bulk of the horror, but without the United States, you can imagine the blackest blank of subsequent history.

But my friend had a dark metaphor for why the U.S. entered the war in Europe. It echoes more widely.

"Next door, a man is beating a woman.  It is brutal; you hear the screams, and it goes on and on. You know he is evil, but you also know she is not innocent. If it continues, you know he's going to kill her. Eventually, you go over and stop the fight-  not out of nobility or morality, but because you can no longer sleep at night. "

March 11, 2010

Sounds like...freedom

The USS Constitution will continue firing its cannons twice a day across Boston Harbor as it has done for more than 200 years despite the objections of its well-heeled neighbors.

On behalf of Americans everywhere, let me address this issue in the vernacular of the common people of Charlestown:  shut up, you fucking yuppies.

March 10, 2010

Let's Dip Into Some of the Lesser-Known Contents of Humanity's Expanding Sack of Apocolypse-Enabling Technologies

1. Pathogenic Viral Marketing
2. A.I. Vacuum Cleaners That Sense Human Weakness
3. New Anti-Social Networking Site Featuring 140 Characters of Hatred
4. High Energy Proton-Blasting Leaf Accelerator
5. All Potatoes Now Cloned from the World's Most Intelligent Potato, Cheryl
6. Brain-Damaging Chemical Spreading in Contents of Simple Red Plastic Cups
7. American Plastic Council's "War Against the Pacific"
8. 5th Genetic Modification of Fetus is Free
9. Nanobot Yogurt
10. Liquid-fuel Internal Combustion
11. Electric Power Generation
12. Guns
13. Machetes
14. Pointed Sticks
15. Rocks
16. Monotheism
17. Computers
18. Books
19. Social Class
20. The Pimp Hand

March 09, 2010

Nocturnal Tunes: 'Layla Unplugged' for Our Generation

Late Night Thoughts on Collingwood and Saumarez

A few months ago the National Lottery published a list of "unsung heroes" as part of their 15th anniversary promotional campaign. While a financial friend calls lotteries "a tax on the stupid," neither can one entirely fault a list that has Baldrick in 6th place.

For some reason it brought to mind poor Collingwood - faithful, effective, and doomed to obscurity because of his fateful proximity to Nelson.

As every schoolchild knows, Collingwood was one of the leading naval men of his day. He was in the thick of things at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, and first into action at Trafalgar. "What would Nelson give to be here?" he grinned, as his Royal Sovereign, riding on fresh copper, raced ahead of the rest of the fleet and broke through the enemy line:

People forget that after Trafalgar, the war still had years to run. With Nelson gone, Collingwood was chosen for the critical Mediterranean station.  There he faithfully executed the duties of an Admiral of the Royal Navy: patrol, blockade, diplomacy, and endless paperwork.  Perhaps it was this last that deprived him of the opportunity to achieve greater things. Geoffrey Marcus explains:
[H]is meticulous attention to detail became an obsession. "He seems to do everything himself," Codrington had declared, "with great attention to the minutiae." To this absorption of Collingwood's in paperasserie was almost certainly due, in part at least, his failure to intercept Ganteaume... "I am ceaselessly writing," he observed..."and the day is not long enough for me to get through my business."
From London's perspective, Collingwood was perfect. The Admiralty could be certain that no detail of administration would be overlooked, that every expenditure would be carefully weighed and meticulously reported, and that there would be thorough and regular reports of events in region. Collingwood was nothing if not accountable.

So, they ignored his pleas to come home:
Under the strain of the arduous blockading routine and the difficulties and dangers of the constantly changing military and political situation, worn out before his time by long years of heavy and incessant mental toil, Collingwood's erstwhile strong constitution was progressively undermined. Weighed down by the grievous burden of his responsibilities, and sick with longing for family and home, he nevertheless obliged himself to endure the unnatural life he led. At last, in March 1810, his health broke down altogether, and the doctors ordered him home to England. But it was then too late; he died on the first day of the homeward passage.

Collingwood finally got the biography he deserved in 2005. A skillful seaman and capable leader, he lies today next to Nelson in St. Paul's, doomed to be overshadowed for all of living memory and - holy smokes! - did you know Nelson's coffin was made, at the request of one of his captains, from the mainmast of L'Orient?! Wow!

Where was I?  Oh yes.  Anyway, it wasn't just Collingwood.  Saumarez, arguably an even greater officer, gets the same treatment. He was a daring frigate captain (here is good tale), and became an excellent admiral. A year older than Nelson, he'd commanded in combat three times (Dogger Bank, the Saintes, and Groix) before the future Lord Nelson officered in a major battle. Like Collingwood, Saumarez was in the line at Cape St. Vincent, the first of Nelson's legendary performances.

Really, it all begins at Cape St. VincentJervis, commanding the fleet, has the right stuff. He takes an inferior force (15 ships of the line against 27 Spanish) and "goes right at 'em." When the Spanish, sailing in two disorganized groups, fail to form up quickly, he signals the fleet:

Admiral intends to pass through enemy lines
And so he does:

It is perfect. The Spanish have to be careful not to hit each other with their cannon fire, while the British can blast away on both sides. The Spanish lee division turns to larboard, trying to reunite with the rest of the fleet. Culloden, leading the line, tacks and goes after the main body, with the rest of the fleet tacking in succession behind her.

The tacking point becomes the fulcrum of the battle, with the British ships blasting the Spanish lee division as they come about, and the Spaniards try to break through to rejoin the main body. Blenheim and Prince George come around without incident, and then Orion (Saumarez). But Colossus, with significant rigging shot away, has to wear instead, exposing her to enemy fire. Saumarez coolly backs his sails and covers Colossus as she completes the maneuver. A smart bit of seamanship there, and it might be remembered to this day, except for what happened next.

Failing to break through, the Spanish lee division starts to fall away a bit, looking to link up to the north as the English rear come down to tack and give up their intervening position. The Spanish forces to windward begin to bend to downwind to effectuate this.

Aboard Captain, third ship from the English rear, Nelson realizes Culloden won't get there in time to prevent the reunification of the Spanish fleet. In violation of orders and protocol, he wears ship and cuts across the bow of Collingwood's Excellent.

This achieves the goal of putting Captain between the two elements of the Spanish fleet. It also has the less desirable effect of putting Captain in a position where 6 or 8 Spanish ships can blast away at her until Culloden and the rest can come up and support her. The foretopmast and helm are shot away in relatively short order.  Tellingly, Collingwood was behind Nelson in the line of battle, and did not follow him in this maneuver - Collingwood was capable, not suicidal. 

But...somehow...Nelson has confused things to the point where two Spanish ships, San Nicolas and San Jose have become entangled.  And...somehow...Captain gets alongside San Nicholas, and with a shout of "Westminster Abbey or Glorious Victory!" Nelson's boarders compel the surrender of both Spanish ships, using San Nicolas as a "patent bridge" to San Jose. This is how legends are born.

Saumarez liked Nelson. He was an early convert to The Prodigy's consensus leadership style, and was second-in-command at the Nile, where he took a serious wound to the thigh. Afterward he got the captains together and collected funds for a ceremonial sword to be presented to Nelson. But Nelson's democratic style also hurt Saumarez. Roger Knight explains:

The outstanding success of the action enabled [Nelson] to avoid the awkwardness of selecting individuals for particular mention.. The dispatches of Howe, St. Vincent, and Duncan had created extreme discord among their officers after their victories. [But] Ross argues several times that Saumarez should have received "some mark of distinction" [for his performance at the Nile].
From 1807 through the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1813, Saumarez was posted to the Baltic, charged with keeping trade with the Scandinavian countries open (particularly Sweden), thereby subverting Napoleon's Continental System.

It wasn't glamorous work. Saumarez had to protect shipping, conduct diplomacy, and fight off a seemingly endless series of gunboat attacks by the Danes.

It was his diplomatic achievements that had the greatest positive impact. Marcus reports on perhaps his finest hour:
In the autumn of 1810 Sweden was finally constrained by French pressure, not merely to close her ports to British commerce, but even to declare war against us. In the following spring she proceeded to arrest a large number of merchantmen which had taken refuge in her southern ports. Saumarez thereupon threatened the Swedes with reprisals; but in a private interview on board the Victory with Count Rosen, the governor of Gothenburg, the matter was amicably settled...things went on as usual.

[T]hanks to the firm but conciliatory policy pursued by Saumarez, no attempt was made to retaliate against Swedish commerce; and the formal war never developed into actual hostilities.
Last year's Admiral Saumarez vs. Napoleon - The Baltic, 1807-12, by Tim Voelcker, is a welcome corrective, and - let us hope - the end of 200 years of neglect for one of the Royal Navy's finest leaders.

Despite his unquestioned genius in battle, I think it is fair to say that Nelson could not have achieved what Collingwood and Saumarez did.  Theirs was the achievement of true Imperial commanders - they provided a staying, steadying presence in key regions, collecting intelligence, negotiating with allies and enemies, and representing the greatest empire the world has ever known.

Nelson was no good for that.  He was kind to his men but, really, he was not a leader in the conventional sense.  It is hard to look on it steadily, but if we are honest he was nothing more than a brilliant, single-minded killer.  Hounded by his honor like a demon, all he could do was win battles - until his time was up.

March 07, 2010

Evening Tunes

Like the Special Relationship between the U.S. and U.K., Willie Nelson's partnership with Asleep at the Wheel is an Entente cordiale that benefits civilized people everywhere.

Finally, a successor to "Wipe Hands on Pants."


March 06, 2010

Right, of course...wait, what?

China must urgently address the physical fitness of the nation's youth or run the risk of raising a generation incapable of fighting the Japanese in a future war, the head of the country's top sports university said Thursday.

Ironic. (Really!)

Home schoolers use textbooks that dismiss evolution.

If only there were a word to describe a process that systematically eliminates members of a population engaged in maladaptive or self-destructive behavior...

March 05, 2010

Bacon Rocket

A fine concept, and a rockin' song.

March 04, 2010

Dr. X Tweets from...Tweeter

I'm here today to talk about my three passions - wine, cheese, and audiophile equipment.  Taking your questions.  Ok here's one...

Q - What cheese goes well with a Benziger Merlot and Monitor Audio Silver RS1 bookshelf speakers powered by a Harman Kardon HK 3250?
A - Wow, tough one right off the bat.  You may not fully understand what a delicate balance you're trying to strike, pairing a mellow, yet insouciant wine with an audio setup that screams "forward soundstaging and aggressive sibilance."  I'm playing it right down the middle:  Wisconsin cheddar, and watch your footing.

Q - My wife likes Trader Joe's manchego cheese, but I prefer McIntosh amps with Klipschorns.  Can this marriage be saved?
A - No need for counseling just yet, but you need to - gently! - move yourselves closer together.  May I recommend a Thévenet Domaine de la Bongran Cuvée Tradition, not too threatening for her back-to-basics sensibility, but more than up to the challenge presented by your (perhaps excessively) discriminating palette.  Just don't play bossa nova while you're drinking it, or the tropical intensity may melt even your iron will.

Q - We're having a party at my place next Friday, and we're having a nice spread with a selection of California artisan cheese and some of my favorite reds from the Mondavi cellars.  I'm just concerned that my tinny old system (an ancient Pioneer SM-B201 with Marantz speakers my Dad got at the mall in the 80s) won't be up to the job.  Help!
A - Aperion 632s.  You can thank me later.

March 03, 2010

In Tacoma that's known as "Wednesday"

Tacoma police find naked woman tied to a tree

For The First Sea Lord

March 02, 2010

Don't Press F1

bad things will happen