January 31, 2012

A sad tale

"Fred the Shred" loses his knighthood.

Change is hard

A letter from a former slave to his former master.  The last line is priceless.

Cats and dogs living together, etc.

I was down in LA last week and flipped on the radio.  They were talking about the Lakers - in troubled, fearful tones.  Something's wrong, the team is struggling, and this violates the natural order of the universe.  For most of the past half century, the Lakers have been one of the two or three best teams in basketball.  Now, under a new coach and trying to learn a new offense, the team is not performing as well.
Radio Guy #1:  Kobe's turnovers are up a bit this year.
Radio Guy #2:  Well, they say his injury's worse than people say.  They say he can't feel his hand.
Radio Guy #1:  Too bad his teammates can't get their own food.
Good point there.  Despite the injury Bryant has been able to lead the team in points and assists.  And the Laker's aren't bad - they're 12-9 after all, and in second place in the division.

But there is anxiety -even fear in their voices.  It is about the unearthly...unreal...unnatural witch's sabbath occurring across town, where the perennial laughingstock of the NBA, the Los Angeles Clippers, have fulfilled the prophecy of Blake Griffin and transformed Staples Center into Lob City.  They started the season by beating the Lakers.  And they are first in the division.

The Clippers have three of the ten plays on Monday's highlight reel, including, at #1, Griffin's candidate for Dunk of the Year.

Fears for the natural order receded a little bit when the Lakers defeated the Clippers last Wednesday.  But the genie is out of the bottle.  There is a spectre haunting Los Angeles.  The iceman cometh.  A terrible beauty is born.

January 29, 2012

The sun would like a word


January 28, 2012

21st century pleasures of ambiguous legality

(With due respect to Robert Hass.)

I really don't have strong views on the SOPA, RIAA, or PIPA.  But I do know this:  in no other time could I dial up this playlist:

Whether that's a good thing or bad thing, I leave to others.  I believe it passes Benthamite criteria, although perhaps not the strictest application of the categorical imperative.  Neither test appears to be of concern to modern policymakers in any case, who serve The One True Master.

Party on, for now...

The family motto

I told my kids the story of Shakespeare's family coat-of-arms, and his choice of motto:

"Non Sans Droit" --> "Not Without Right"

Which, of course, Ben Jonson satirized as "Not Without Mustard" (link).

So, what should our family motto be?

I proposed "Dignity:  Always Dignity" (link), but the boys prefer "There Are Wheels Within Wheels".  This, as every schoolchild knows, is the mantra of Wodehouse's scheming and witless, but also unsinkable Monty Bodkin, borrowed from verses in Ezekiel that describe an extraterrestrial visit (or not).

Lest we forget, Bodkin is ultimately fired from the Mammoth Publishing Company following his decision to incorporate the following material in the Uncle Woggly column of Tiny Tots magazine:
Well now, let's get down to it. This week, my dear little souls, Uncle Woggly is going to put you on to a good thing. We all want to make a spot of easy money these hard times, don't we? Well, here's the lowdown, straight from the horse's mouth. All you have to do is get hold of some mug and lure him into betting that a quart whisky bottle holds a quart of whisky. 
Sounds rummy, what? I mean, that's what you would naturally think that it would hold. So does the mug. But it isn't. It's really more, and I'll tell you why.  
First you fill the bottle. This gives you your quart. Then you shove the cork in. And then—follow me closely here—you turn the bottle upside down and you'll find there's a sort of bulging-ion part at the bottom. Well, slosh some whisky into that, and there you are. Because the bot. is now holding more than a quart and you scoop the stakes.

I'm ok with this

We're going to push hard to make sure someone making over a million dollars a year aren't getting tax breaks and tax subsidies they don't need, not out of envy, but out of a sense of fairness and a sense of mutual responsibility and a sense of commitment for the country's future, and that's what we're fighting for. The American people understand that. 

This is not just a liber... excuse me, progressive, thing.  It is an American thing.  Bush Jr. worked hard to make the U.S. as much like Edwardian England or Argentina as possible.  Krueger has shown how incredibly successful this project was.

It may be too late to take it back.  But the American Dream is a legitimate concept, worth fighting to reclaim.  I've recommended this book before, but I'd like to see it taught in high schools, and given to everyone who becomes a naturalized citizen.

Put me down for an America that's a nation - not a plantation.

January 24, 2012

Monsieur T

Looked everywhere in Paris for a picture or statue of him. Finally found one in the Musée Carnavalet.

January 23, 2012

This makes me so happy

The views and opinions expressed by GWAR do not reflect those of the Pentagon Channel or the Department of Defense. (link)

Never forget:

Serio-Comedy: What to Say to A French Hotel Clerk About American Guns.

I told the hotel clerk foie gras was being outlawed in California. He said, "That country's crazy! You can own a gun, but foie gras is illegal?"  - M. Marsch, en Paris.
Simply explain to such a witty hotel clerk that in the United States, the almost total commodification of labor and identity, and the internal moral space hollowed out by the market-driven objectification of both the human individual and traditional social structures, which increasingly displaces both ancient socially evolved forms of identity, and self-created, liberated forms of meaning, all of which conditions are the inevitable products of hegemonic late-stage capitalism, means that we occasionally need to shoot our way out.  

The gun itself is a vestigial symbol of self-determination; in the very fineness of its machining, and the pleasing completeness of its design are densely layered symbols of power: weight, ease of manipulation, the parts fitting and working simply and almost musically; it is an empowering opportunity for skill building in the willful manipulation of lethal force- and even its colors and aesthetic designs, black, camouflage, create the illusion of  personal power, and potential aggression. This creates in others, perhaps in the sense, The Other,  the fear or contempt that is easily mistaken for respect, especially by the emotionally inexperienced.

American culture has conflated the gun and individual liberty, originating in frontier and political/ historical conditions that no longer apply.  This symbology is reinforced in an amazing flood of truly ubiquitous imagery- after the car, it is presented in American culture as among the most meaningful of objects (perhaps being displaced now by small, stylish computers.) Yet the more irrelevant the gun is as an actual tool of protection and food- in modern urban life, nearly total - the more fierce the attachment to its value as symbolic display.  As it becomes more useless, it becomes more fetishised.

The popularity of guns seems highest among the most impoverished and  powerless- or, alternately, like Dick Cheney on a sitting duck hunting range, an expression of the pleasure of lethal power- and with complete disinterest in the very ancient and challenging art of tracking hunting, except perhaps as masculine symbolism.   Resting on obvious social display in the pickup rack, an AR-15 rifle, for example, while not really appropriate for actually hunting, creates the illusion of negating the inevitable economic emasculation by our economic system- where critiquing the obvious source of which, Capitalism, is unspoken as heresy; and the soul-gnawing fear of being gobbled up inside and out by the bottom line, by impotence, by irrelevance, by isolation is consoled by the fantasy embodied in the power-granting object, the short-cut to respect, of the weapon. 

It is of course a fantasy never to be realized, as the lethal resources of any modern government, or indeed, any organization of power, exceed by many orders of magnitude anything an individual or small group of individuals could employ (and this is quite M. Marsch's point): the expression of the weapon then, with the extremely rare exception of actual subsistence or personal safety, is almost wholly symbolic, usually used in knocking small holes in paper in an action more cheaply and safely accomplished by a properly-shapened pencil, or more often, as actually shooting is quite expensive, either in digital simulations, or within the emotionally heated argumentative defense of gun ownership itself- and this employs a predictable displacement of "enemy" from real economic oppressors to those who would take away the tool-symbol-object-weapon, who are often and not co-coincidentally female.

When it comes down to its actual discharge in emergency, the result consumes some 11,000 American lives every year.  In these circumstances, the gun is grabbed almost always in catastrophic error, drunken rage, economic desperation, irrational fear, or in psychotic or sadistic exertion of personal power- and in a nod to gun owners, in Canada, with comparable levels of gun ownership, this extreme deadliness is vastly reduced. The difference seems to be within culture, and in a more socialistic economic organization, one which does not prey so heavily on the core of identity.

Nothing can anger this culturally-conditioned type of an American gun owner, as opposed to a genuine farmer, cowboy, policeman, soldier, or subsistence hunter, more perfectly than pointing out the truth of the political impotence of owning an actual gun. Which it is, of course; the fact of the gun has no effect on one's economic conditions, except negatively in its cost, and the  mostly likely result is to have the effect of scaring, or when lucky intriguing a potential mate, in the latter case one who is equally a victim of loss of identity and seeks the comfort of power by proxy, for a caricature of the same reason serial killers get marriage proposals. By contrast, gun ideology- built in such a complex, layered way on a foundation of potency symbols, fears, and physical pleasures (the "powbangzoom" of it, to coin a word, ) is an extremely effective political force; coded, most tragically, to advance precisely the capitalist economic and social conditions which concentrate power ever more completely in fewer, hyper-privileged hands, and which are the exact source of the loss of self-efficacy, especially masculine self-efficacy, for which the gun is obtained to replace.

Mais, en francais, s'il vous plait.

January 22, 2012

Then a child spoke...

An academically struggling South Texas school district has decided to cancel student sports and use the money for improving education.


Between Romney's corporatism and minority religion, and Newt's basic Newtery, Tea Party and evangelical enthusiasm is drying up fast.  Its already reflected in consistently low turnout. If that happens, the GOP's goose is cooked. 

And to throw a candy cane in there, the only honorable Christian in the race is going to be Barack Obama.  Why would Newt stay in?  He must know he's an amazingly weak candidate against any sitting president -and although just running while the other person has a chance of tripping is a factor- two things explain his vicious campaign behavior. 1 is obvious- his narcissistic personality disorder, which makes Palin look like "trying to think of a stereo-typically humble American and failing."

2) is more interesting and subtle: I'm calling it an attempt by a strong Christianist base - as Sullivan calls it - to save the Republican Party from Mormon domination. I strongly suspect that a lot of people in the GOP leadership would rather preserve Christian religious domination that mount an effective candidate against Obama. Why? Long term - Mormonism is a tiny and permanently insular religious minority. This isn't Catholicism - we're talking small single digit minority. If Romney fails against the President, but succeeds at leading the party, staffing it, and organizing it, I would suspect that the calculation is that the Republican movement would start losing its ability to motivate christian traditionalists of all stripes, and thereby, start moving into permanent minority mode.  The

Romney's motivation, on the other hand, is in many ways missionary.  Recall his deeply asinine speech on religion in politics from the last campaign, which, instead of calling for tolerance, called basically to unite around the common enemy of non-believers. What does he want? Power. Why does he want it?  Core religious identity - and not exactly selfish.

The casserole in the oven is:  if he takes the GOP nomination, he has permanently legitimized Mormonism.

Expect at the minimum a threat for a third party run from Paul- which would, if he sticks with it, would -guessing- take about 4% from the right and 2% from the left.  For the same reason, not to win, but to preserve that social darwinist/Libertarian influence - he will be negotiating for platform points, and would be quite happy to drop the bomb on the GOP if he's shut out.  And Romney is likely to shut him out.

Michel Ney FTW

"Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you. I protest against my condemnation. I have fought a hundred battles for France, and not one against her ... Soldiers, Fire!"

January 21, 2012

25 Newt Gingrich Jokes

Newt can make America what it once was: lorded over by carnivorous lizards.

Newt Gingrich's body also once crashed into an Italian reef, rolled over and sank, killing 25 passengers.

Newt's head was once shot down by a Russian anti-satellite missile.  To be fair they were just defending Vladivostok.

Doesn't Newt Gingrich make you feel like he's always blocking America's sun? 

Newt Gingrich recently became a Catholic, which is why he thinks nuns should put out. 

Newt Gingrich has done more to advance the cause of peace than the Luftwaffe. 

Newt has a new ice tea out.  It's called "Fuck U Tea."

Newt's like the kid who pushes girls into puddles when no one is looking.

Newt's like the high school bully who the other bullies push around.

Newt's like the mechanic who calls you an idiot for not replacing your transmission every six months.

Newt knows Jesus was a pussy, he's just too brilliant to say it right now.

Nothing cheers up Newt Gingrich like a sunny day with more starvation in Africa.

Newt Gingrich said that he cheated on his wife because he was working too hard with patriotic zeal for America. Oh, wait, that's real?

When they're playing good cop/bad cop, Newt's is the guy who barges in the room and takes everyone's donuts and yells at them for eating donuts.

You might think that he's just a money-grubbing tool, but Newt volunteers a lot at the hospital, calling people up and telling them they have bladder cancer.  Especially when they don't.

Newt Gingrich loves America. Except for the idiots who live there.

Of course Newt opposes slavery.  It's uncompensated mandatory human labor he thinks it's stupid to oppose.

Newt can always quit politics and play the sexually harassing boss in employee training videos.

Newt never met a man he liked. Or a woman. But he never met a bulging envelope he could say no to.

On his days off, Newt Gingrich likes to drive around New York, shooting homeless people with a bb gun.

Newt's anti-vice campaign consists of large posters of his own head with the word "Sex" written in letters underneath.

Newt is a faithful Christian, except for those ethical principles they keep going on and on and on about. Am I right, people?

Newt Gingrich is like the world's most evil Cheesecake Factory manager. 

Do you get the feeling that the next revelation is that Newt Gingrich owns a mercury mine in Paraguay worked by orphans between 6 and 13, who are all behind on their cot rent?

Newt Gingrich likes poor people. He thinks they are fucking hilarious, all broke and crying and shit.

"I can only look at so much art, okay?"

I found a really nice room in the Louvre, today. It had a bench, and no art in it whatsoever.

My eyes are full.

While I feel very privileged to be able to spend the day there (and another planned for Monday to go to the Dutch/Flemish/German wing), I can't help but feel that this museum is a victim of its own success. Put everything in the world in one gigantic facility, and you have a place overrun by packs of tour groups taking photos of everything and looking at nothing. Also, they don't have enough guards to actually enforce the rules. If nearly yelled "Ne pas toucher!" at a woman posing for a photo with her hand on an ancient Greek sculpture. Flash photography is forbidden, but flashes are going off constantly.

I leave you with the only photo of a painting I took: Hubert Robert's imagining of the Louvre in ruins (and I just found the same painting at the top of Robert's wikipedia page, so why did I bother?)

January 20, 2012

Dark Days at Goldman

"I'm personally down 20% which was exactly the right level to piss me off but not enough to make me dive across the desk and beat my boss to death."


January 19, 2012


Newt's angry again.  Angry that people say he appeals to racists.  Angry that some irresponsible person would claim he wanted an open marriage.

I'm angry too, that this malevolent dickhead - utterly unqualified for high office - is one of the top ten people America thinks could be its leader.

And I must admit, at some level I'm frightened that one of these horror shows actually will get elected, and be given the power to invoke martial law, launch nuclear weapons, etc.  I really hope that doesn't happen (again).


Watching this clip of Groucho on the Cavett show, Groucho stops the proceedings to tell Dan Rowan he is one of the greatest straight men who ever lived.  "I watch you and I marvel at the equanimity and style and class."

Wait, what?  Really?

Well...yeah, maybe.  I guess this is the sort of thing Groucho was talking about.  Martin gets all the laughs, but the bit is all Rowan.

My favorite Rowan and Martin moment was when they roasted Rickles with his own material, simultaneously celebrating his genius and exposing him as a fraud.  Rowan got the biggest laugh, when he couldn't find the punchline.

January 15, 2012

Kids' Books Worth Reading

I've had the pleasure of reading two superb books to the kids over the past few months.

  • Mistress Masham's Repose by T.H. White.  This is the same T.H. White who wrote The Once and Future King.  The New York Review of Books has reissued the book in a beautiful new edition.  I don't have much to say about it - there is treasure on every page.  Kids like it, but it's not a children's book.
  • The House of Arden by the wonderful, mostly-forgotten, Edith Nesbit.  Available both in a gorgeous NYRB edition, or for free in various places (e.g., here). 
Nesbit's book was published in 1908, before the conflagration, White's came out in 1946, just after it had burned itself out (in Europe, at least).  

The books are remarkably similar in subject matter.  Both describe the search by high-born children, orphaned and living under harsh conditions, for the family fortune that is their birthright, with the aid of fantastic/magical creatures.  In another Nesbit work (The Story of the Treasure Seekers - link), one of the children says:  "I'll tell you what, we must go and seek for treasure; it is always what you do to restore the fallen fortunes of your house."

Both books smuggle in lots of humanism and good, clean progressive values (Nesbit co-founded the Fabian Society).  White's is particularly diabolical in making the main villains a churchman and a tutor, inadvertently aided by incompetent bureaucrats and police.  The only good adult is, as so often happens, a doddering old professor.

Gore Vidal explains Nesbit (in 1964!) here.

30 Mitt Romney Jokes

Mitt Romney knows the real worth of hard work and sacrifice.  It bumps shareholder value after  you're fired.

Mitt Romney is very concerned with women's issues: those excessive laws and regulations allowing them to do things.  

Mitt Romney believes in democracy, if by democracy, you mean, Mittmocracy.  In a Mittmocracy, your opinion counts, at least when he gets around to having it.

Q. Is Mitt Romney a Control Freak?

     a.  This way, everyone gets plenty of toothpaste.

     b.  Certainly not.  His sons were off-leash by 16.

     c.  He numbers each Cherrio.

     d.  I can't say- permission to speak freely denied.
     e.  His nostril hairs have performance reviews. 

    f.  No- he once let a gardener use the kitchen. But never again.
     g. There's a perfectly easy-to-use spreadsheet in each restroom. Is that so much to ask?

People say Mitt Romney can't begin to understand the challenges of being poor or even middle class, or an ethnic or sexual minority, or sacrificing everything for your country instead of personal profit, or working all the time for your kids but falling farther behind, and despairing of life ever being better for them.  But that's only because he's an asshole.

They say Mitt Romney is out of touch.  I say, he touches himself, and that should be enough for anyone.

Mitt Romney loves God, because he loves himself.

Mitt Romney can make America great again.  If we can't rule the world, we can mess it up so badly no one else wants it.

Do you ever get the feeling that Mitt Romney's sexual fantasies mostly involve his own hair?

Romney loves orphans. He never met a position he didn't adopt.

Mitt Romney's religion is a problem.  People might vote for a real Christian candidate, like Barack Obama. 

Mitt Romney, a very religious man, offers a deep, selfless love to those everyone else despises. Especially banks. 

The Romney campaign denies rumors that Mitt lives on pure diet of green algae and polyethylene glycol smoothies.

Mitt Romney has done more for the advancement of the American Robotics industry than people will ever know.

People are obsessed by the weird underwear that Romney wears, but that Batman outfit has a really nice thread count.

You've always got a friend when Romney's in town.  Not Mitt- I meant that guy who'll let you stay on his couch after you get fired.

It's not fair to say Romney's an amazing waffler.  He holds heart-felt, core beliefs, like when he threatened, in person, to excommunicate a young woman who needed an abortion to save her life.  That means he believes deeply in being a truly spectacular dick.

 "Mitt Romney is more of a job cremator." - Debbie Wasserman-Shultz.

Q: Is Mitt Romney white?

     a. Mitt Romney makes Frosty the Snowman look like Flava Flav.
     b. Mitt Romney makes Kim-Jong Un look like Lil' Kim.
     c.  Mitt Romney makes John McCain look like Malcom X.
     d. Mitt Romney last had a good bowel movement during the Nixon Administration. With Nixon.

How to Sharpen a Pencil (Correctly)

Demonstration by Author.

Get a knife, and a pencil worth sharpening.
Jamie adds "featured here is the splendid Blackwing 602- cheap pencils, dull knives and inferior quality wood make for fewer fingers!"

You cut around this bit here.

Cut in firmly...

...and decisively.

Work around the barrel to narrow the tip.
Jamie adds: "The more even your starting cuts, the better. Also, your cut is not flat, but curves away from the central graphite shaft as you dig down."

Keep narrowing down to the lead.

Keep trimming.
Adds Jamie: "You are making an extension of pure graphite. A very sharp knife is essential to this. Caution!"

Wood should taper...

...exposing approx. 87 mm of lead.
Trim up the nib.
Jamie Adds: "You are making a small cone at the tip, like the Apollo capsule, by scraping carefully. You can do the same thing by rolling and shaping the tip on sandpaper. "
...to a sharp but solid, point.

The finished product! 
Jamie Adds: "Not only do you have the satisfaction of performing a manly and efficacious task which honors our ancient pencil heritage, but you will find a number of advantages: 1st, for artists, you now have a hyper sharp point, a small edge around the cone for precise shading, and a huge length for rapid shading. 2nd, you don't have to sharpen nearly as often, just trim up the point. And 3rd, you free yourself from the tyranny of the pencil sharpening machine."

Get your Gibbon on

I'm sure the Laird is well ahead of me here, but if you have a Kindle you can pick up a very serviceable and nice copy of Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - for $0.95 - here.

Does it have maps and a gazetteer?  No, but you can get those here.

Just for the heck of it

Today's quarterbacks...name / yards / rating / IAYPA / TDs

Brady / 363 / 137.6 / 9.2 / 6
Holy crap.  Against a good defense, too.  364 days ago I questioned his playoff credentials and omitted him from the pantheon of the greatest quarterbacks.  There can be no more questioning.  With this performance, he kicks in the door and takes his rightful place.

Smith / 299 / 103.2 / 7.1 / 3
He's 27...Tebow is 24.  From NFL Network:  "You can't leave 1:30 on the clock for Alex Smith!"  Not anymore.

Brees / 472 / 93.5 / 5.7 / 4
Dark days in New Orleans:  First LSU, now this.

Tebow / 136 / 52.7 / 5.2 / 0
Impeccable record of not turning the ball over, but you have to complete some passes.  His 15 yards per attempt vs. Pittsburgh were a career high.  This game was not a career low, however - he's played worse lots of times.  Rick Reilly is right though, there's no shame in admiring him.

[Update:  I re-ran the screen from last year (http://pfref.com/tiny/9uW6n).  The standings as they now appear:

6 great playoff performances:

  • Montana
5 ...
  • Aikman
4 ...
  • Favre, Warner, P. Manning, Tom Brady (just moved up)
3 ...
  • Rodgers, Hostetler, Kelly, Theisman, Bradshaw, E. Manning (just moved up)  ]

January 14, 2012

Worricoperdoublis Realities

So  here is your new word: Worricoperdoublis, pronounced Worry-Co-Per-Doobliss.  

So often, when arguments and discussions occur about cultural, social and philosophical issues occur, we are in territory in which the subject at hand has not only not been studied scientifically, but a proper concept for such a study has barely been conceived of.  The debate over psychoactive medication for depression is an interesting example: the debate about their wisdom and efficacy went for years with the the medical and phramacological industries winning, in a market worth many billions, over psychology, but it was all woricoperedoublis, *WithOut R(r)Igorously COntrolled PEer-Rviewed DOUble-BLind Studies -in other words, without very strong scientific evidence.  After two decades of both over and probably under-medicating, the other shoe finally dropped, and generously phrased, the huge JAMA study of studies suggests highly uneven evidence of  medication's efficacy for treated conditions such as mild or moderate depression- better than placebo, but just barely- and it points to persistent publication bias, which in turn was driven, shockingly, by economic interest. And this is within science.

On the other hand, much if not most of our experience of life, our own personalities, political preferences, likes, loves, social and personal realities, perception of the nature of reality, events, faith or lack thereof, etcetera, exists in the woricoperdoublis space - a statement which in itself is worricoperdoublis. (The r is added as a concession to the few clear spelling rules in english, but a double p is not, since such rules were were generated, natch, worricoperdoublisiously. )

Usually, we need to proceed into this frontier territory-which is almost by definition the most interesting territory (god, free will, national culture, aesthetics, morality, the nature  or mere existence of the human soul, etc, etc, etc) - worricoperdoublis.

And even more commonly, the period in which we must take action is far short of the time necessary to make good double blind studies, or even find them, even eyes glued firmly to the Google. We lead our lives largely facing worricoperdoublis situations and making worricoperdoublis decisions.

As it happens, I am quite tired of typing out, letting alone speaking, this tedious concession when discussing cultural issues which are clearly worricoperdoublis, and in turn I am especially irritated when knaves make worricoperdoublis claims, like some Exxon-funded study of global warming uncertainty, or worse, a Creationist museum, when the reality is not worricoperdoublis, and any smart-phone shaking fool can look it up. 

The hope is that this word can lead to clarity in determining when an issue is worricoperdoublis  a well-established, if incompletely described scientific fact. Evolution is, for example, not even kind of worricoperdoublis- and I resolve to waste no more time arguing about its truth, although we can have jolly good fun discussing the worricoperdoublis nature of rise of the human soul.

January 12, 2012

Oh, the humanity

Wow, that new overtime rule is getting people worked up. Here's Easterbrook:
Pittsburgh at Denver was the first game played under the new overtime rules intended to ensure each team at least one possession, and needless to say, the Steelers never touched the ball. For the second time in three seasons, a 12-4 visiting team lost to an 8-8 home team in the playoffs when the game went to overtime and the 12-4 visitor never got a chance at the ball. (San Diego 23, Indianapolis 17 in overtime in 2009 was the other case.) 
A year ago, TMQ warned , "The new format does not guarantee each team a chance at the ball. If Team A receives the opening kickoff and scores a touchdown, the game simply ends." Back to the drawing board for overtime formats, please. How about alternating possessions beginning at the 50, and no kicking plays allowed?
Or...how about shutting the fuck up?

If Team B went 12-4 in the regular season, and still, after four full quarters of regulation professional foot-ball, finds itself tied with an 8-8 team led by love child of Pat Robertson and Andre the Giant, they have, by that time, forfeited all right to the respect of decent men and women.  A coin flip is too good for them.

Football had the sudden death rule for almost 70 years (originally just for playoff games), and it was perfect.  It heightened the importance of every play.  It put pressure on both teams (if you don't move it down the field and kick the winning field goal, you're screwed).  It was randomly arbitrary, as is life.  It was as great an incentive as you could have for the better team to try and win in regulation.  Stop the madness.  Return to the sound and time-tested policies of the past.

And Team B, next time remember it is possible to underestimate the God-fearing Ape-Man.  Even he can read Cover Zero.

January 11, 2012


[He] raises his arms, Moses-like, to the glorious friezes that surround the interior of the ceremonial courtroom. And then Waxman points to one sculpted classical stone lawgiver after another as he guides the justices through the fleeting bottoms that pervade their lofty spaces: “There's a bare buttock there, and there's a bare buttock here,” he marvels. “And there may be more that I hadn't seen. But frankly, I had never focused on it before.” To which Justice Antonin Scalia grits out, “Me neither,” while all of the justices gape up at the walls above them, like bemused Muppets on Veterinarian Hospital.


January 08, 2012

Sound as a Euro!

Airbus:  Those are cracks in the wings are "non-critical".

Thanks for clearing that up.

Tebow 316

I have not enjoyed a football highlight show clip as much as this since the NFL Primetime days.

Yes, he threw for 316 yards.  Big assist to Demaryius Thomas on the last 80, with a Marshawn Lynch-like stiff-arm going down the field.

January 07, 2012

How to be old

Victor Hugo said "forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age."  I mentally passed the latter milestone last year (link), and did so under the western system this week.

And the world yawned.  I was not unique in this, in fact, I am not even old under modern rules.  As usual, the baby boomers are spoiling everything, and in the January I chose to turn 50, the first of them are turning 65.  That is the new threshold - and even they are "young old" (see The Elderly Sub-Populations here).  You're not just plain old anymore, unless you make it to 74.  Which is a little weird:  since male life expectancy in the U.S. is 76, it looks we only get, on average, a scant two years to dodder and wear onions on our belts.  Doesn't seem fair.

But the life expectancy numbers are little deceptive.  Life expectancy is rising, and expected to continue to rise.  And, overall life expectancy is modified by accident rates etc. during our misguided youth.  According to the government's mortality tables, if a man has made it 50, he has a fine chance of ticking along for another 30 years (ax murders and aggressive tumors notwithstanding).  This stretches out the period of cane-waving, worry-free dementia from two to six years.

And those who get to experience that blessed interval will have a lot of company.  It is a myth that there are more people alive today than there are dead ones.  But I recently saw an article that said there are more living old people than dead ones, or will be shortly (sorry no link, my Google-fu is weak).  For most of human history, life expectancy rarely approached 65 anywhere.  But the (temporary?) triumph over infectious disease, coupled with better outcomes in heart disease and cancer, suggests that there will be billions.

As I am among the first in our little group to reach the entryway to this exciting new chapter in human evolution, I thought I'd offer a few tips on how to get old.

  • Avoid yoga, you'll just hurt yourself.  Choose Tai Chi instead.  It's cheap, can be done at home, requires no special equipment.  You can learn it, with minimal effort and inconvenience, from this DVD.  The benefits are well-documented, although the mechanisms are still poorly understood.  The more naturally skeptical among you will wonder if there is really one all-powerful life-force controlling everything.  Possibly not.  But Tai Chi addresses three very real health needs for older people:
  • Get a colonoscopy soon (how about now?  is now good for you?).  Colon cancer is asymptomatic and deadly, but can be detected early or prevented (by removing precancerous polyps), if you get screened.  The incidence in people under 50 is rising.
  • Laugh your ass off at every opportunity.

January 06, 2012

The best kind of bipartisanship

"I am confident with the leadership and backing of the American people, President Obama will turn this country around"   - John McCain 


January 04, 2012

Thomas Huxley calls his shot

From the very fine Apes Angels And Victorians (link, other link), picked up for a buck at a church book sale:

[W]hile his wife lay in the next room waiting for her first child to be born, [Huxley] planned his future in a spirit of solemn dedication:
1856-7-8 must still be "Lehrjahre" to complete training in principles of Histology, Morphology, Physiology, Zoology and Geology by Monographic Work in each Department. 1860 will then see me well grounded and ready for any pursuits in either of these branches. 

It is impossible to map out beforehand how this must be done. I must seize opportunities as they come, at the risk of the reputation for desultoriness. 

In 1860 I may fairly look forward to fifteen or twenty "Meisterjahre," and with the comprehensive views my training will have given me, I think it will be possible in that time to give a new and healthier direction to all Biological Science.
To smite all humbugs, however big; to give a nobler tone to science; to set an example of abstinence from petty personal controversies, and of toleration for everything but lying; to be indifferent as to whether the work is recognized as mine or not, so long as it is done—are these aims? 1860 will show.

January 03, 2012

Can you prove it DIDN'T happen?

White House Denies CIA Teleported Obama to Mars


January 02, 2012

Greatest RPG I've Never Played

The trailer for Tucker and Dale vs. Evil reminded me that there is an RPG I have been wanting to try try next time we have a group together.  First seen in Dragon back in '02 - it's a one-shot called Six Teenagers Go Camping.  I could elaborate, but is that really necessary?

Added to "to-do" list...

Well snarked

Ive received a KBE, (Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) and will be able to be called "sir". While most KBE's earn the title by bringing huge amounts of cash to Britain, Sir Ive got it for services to design and enterprise. It must be the first time that anyone has been knighted for making an American look good and making him bundles of cash.

The UK has given Bill Gates an honorary knighthood, but since his country was involved in a French backed terrorist campaign against the Queen's ancestors he can't call himself Sir.

Impressive San Francisco Emergency Sevices

View outside the Eisengeiste San Francisco City Offices, 50 feet away, Jan. 1, 8:11 PM, before 20-some emergency vehicles arrived and completely surrounded the block, putting out a major and intense house fire after about half an hour; the Other Front had left an important conference here just over an hour previous.  Had the wind been different, so might the outcome.
Thankfully, our lives were not dependent on a free market solution; the City's emergency services were swift, efficient, organized and in force.