October 30, 2015

Winner, best military nickname

Marine Lt. General Holland W. "Howlin' Mad" Smith

Who said:
"We’re not accustomed to occupying defensive positions. It’s destructive to morale."


Bush or the loons

A Bush presidency would almost certainly produce huge deficits and greater inequality, just as his brother's did. He is sworn to uphold the party doctrine of magic tax cuts. But like John Kasich, who has even less chance of winning the nomination, Bush is a bridge to a time when the Republican Party wasn't a danger to itself and others.

 When Bush declined to support trading $10 in spending cuts for $1 in tax increases, he was essentially saying the bridge had collapsed. Try as he might, he can't span the chasm between the real world and the Republican world. And if Bush can't, who can?


October 28, 2015

For your collecting pleasure, Patton Oswalt's GOP closing statements

[Tr*** tweet omitted]

In other news

The U.S. military has two giant, unmanned surveillance blimps it uses to watch the East Coast from a base in Maryland. And one of them escaped its tethers Wednesday and floated aimlessly over Pennsylvania, downing power lines and cutting off electricity for tens of thousands of residents.


October 27, 2015

Let's get our priorities straight, people

I'm speechless after the Zombies show in LA Saturday night.  I went in thinking "Moody Blues Cruise" and came out having watched the Beatles, aged 70, play the Abbey Road Medley live, better than on the album.  And there was Susanna Hoffs at the sound check, and an encore that went to 11 (think Allman Brothers with a good vocalist and two Mellotrons).

They killed in Seattle, too.  Brief review excerpt:
I realize the regular world is currently engaged in the pressing matter of deciding how to feel about the new Adele single, “Hello.” (For the record, it’s already my second favorite song by that title, and maybe my third favorite that uses the line “Hello, it’s me”...  And that’s in less than a week! Who can imagine how I’ll feel about it in three years when I’m still hearing it in line to buy groceries or on hold with the robot bank?) 

Anyway. I’ve spent the past week listening to an album that’s nearly 50 years old…

I always imagine the excitement of them working in Abbey Road studio, dialing in the tremolo setting to make the lead guitar on "Beechwood Park" warble just so, nailing those vocal sections on "Changes," knowing they had absolutely, utterly nailed their masterpiece, hungry for it to join the swelling ranks of modern classics in the newly serious LP format. And then... disappointment, despair, dissolution...

And now, at the last possible moment... 



But it was

"It should not have been this good, it shouldn’t have been this meaningful."


October 26, 2015

Fear him

October 25, 2015

It's the Harmonic Convergence

Backstory: The Zombies crowdfunded their new album.  One offered perk was a chance to sing with the band at a sound check. Susanna Hoffs had the winning bid.  She appeared at the Saban Theater last night and sang 'Care of Cell 44' with them.  Beautifully.

October 22, 2015

UWatergate? UW Sues CIA, Then an Extremely Suspicious Burglary

"Police are investigating the theft of material related to a recent lawsuit filed against the CIA. It is missing after a suspicious break-in at the UW’s Center for Human Rights."

October 19, 2015

IAYPA after the first post

There are many new names at the quarterback position in the NFL, but the names at the top are familiar.  So, alas, are the names at the bottom.  Many of the mighty have fallen.

NFL quarterbacks with more than 100 attempts this season

QB - IAYPA, TDs as % of Attempts

Ultra Super-Elite
Andy Dalton - 8.6, 7.3%
Tom Brady - 8.4, 7.1%
Carson Palmer - 7.7, 7.3%
Aaron Rodgers - 7.6, 8.2%

Think about that:  when Aaron Rodgers drops back, the ball ends up in the end zone 8% of the time.  This against professional foot-ball players.  Amazing.

Super Elite
Brian Hoyer - 7.4, 6.1%
Philip Rivers - 7.4, 4.7%

Hoyer and Rivers are playing very well, but note the considerably lower probability of the ball finding its way into the end zone when it leaves their hands.

Russell Wilson - 7.1, 3.9% <-- "There's a man inside." But also season leader in sacks (26).
Drew Brees - 7.0, 3.3%
Alex Smith - 6.8, 2.9%
Matt Ryan - 6.8, 3.5%
Josh McCown - 6.7, 4.3%
Eli Manning - 6.7, 5.1%
Tyrod Taylor - 6.5, 6.6% <-- His TD% is highest outside of the top four
Derek Carr - 6.3, 4.9%

Derek Carr is real.  Manning is better than his recent reputation.  Alex Smith still gets no respect.

Near Elite
Marcus Mariota - 6.1, 5.6%
Colin Kaepernick - 6.1, 3.4% <-- Finally found Torrey Smith.  If he finds Davis, too, watch out.
Jay Cutler - 5.9, 4.0% <-- Has bad body language

The NFL medians are 6.1 and 4.5%.  And yet two of these men are reviled as failures.  That Mariota is playing this well as a rookie is an extremely good sign.

Slightly Less-Than-Elite
Teddy Bridgewater - 5.9, 4.0%
Cam Newton - 5.6, 5.1%
Jameis Winston - 5.4, 4.6%
Blake Bortles - 5.3, 5.4%
Sam Bradford - 5.2, 4.2%
Joe Flacco - 5.1, 3.2%
Nick Foles - 5.0, 4.3%
Ryan Tannehill - 5.0, 4.5%
Matthew Stafford - 4.9, 4.2%
Ryan Fitzpatrick - 4.8, 5.3%

Kirk Cousins - 4.5, 2.6%
Peyton Manning - 4.3, 3.0% <-- Turn out the lights, the party's over...
Andrew Luck - 4.3, 4.8% <-- Andrew Luck?  Why are you hangin' around with these guys?
Ryan Mallett - 3.9, 2.0%

October 17, 2015

If you liked a movie as a teenager...

...chances are Alan Ladd Jr. was the guy who got it made.

  • Star Wars
  • Blade Runner
  • Alien

Thanks fella.

Horsefeathers images

Saw it again last night.  Its place in the canon is well-earned, from the shout-out to Ben Hur...

Chariot off-tackle

 ...to the literary references...

"This is the first time I've been out in a canoe since I saw The American Tragedy"

...to the very subtle gender play.

Oh football's TOTALLY not gay

James Pierce, left, would go on to star in the 1927 film Tarzan and the Golden Lion (shown here, with lion).  Nat Pendleton, right, was an Olympic wrestler (shown here, with lion).

The Brothers also crush the now-extinct College Widow trope, and Groucho shows how he woos in earnest, as opposed to his more mercantile operations when in the vicinity of Margaret Dumont.

Wagstaff: Are you Miss Bailey? Come, come! One of us is Miss Bailey, and I'm not! 
Connie: I'm Miss Bailey, and who are you?
Wagstaff: [He pulls out an invisible calling card] I'm Professor Wagstaff. Who are you?

Connie: Miss Bailey!

Wagstaff: Ah, then you are Miss Bailey! Thought you could slip one over on me, didn't you? Listen, Madam, you've got to give my son up.

Connie: Give him up?

Wagstaff: You can't take him from me! He's all I've got in the world, except a picture of George Washington crossing the Delaware.

Connie: But, Professor, I...

Wagstaff: Whatever you say is a lie! He's only a shell of his former self which nobody can deny. Whoopee! I tell you, you're ruining that boy, you're ruining him. [sitting in her lap] Did my son tell you you have beautiful eyes?

Connie: Why, yes.

Wagstaff: Told me that, too! Tells that to everyone he meets! Oh, I love sitting on your lap. I could sit here all day if you didn't stand up.

Sadly, even in the pre-Code era some things were just not done; among them, apparently, playing cards while an institution of higher learning burns to the ground.  All we have are a few stills to remind us of what might have been:

October 16, 2015


October 14, 2015

The subtle, unwritten rules of baseball

Of course in an ancient and storied game like baseball, players are expected to comport themselves with restraint, and conform to a gentlemanly set of "unwritten rules".  So diligently is this secretive "code" enforced that every player has internalized its tenets.  Except, of course, for Bautista, who laughs at your bullshit code.  Here, he hits the ball off the facade, then flips his bat toward the Rangers' dugout, and not in a nice way:

Then there was a big almost-fight as both benches cleared and both teams looked menacingly at one another.  Afterward, Bautista was asked if he had any regrets:

October 13, 2015

Shattered dreams of Hawaiian real estate speculation

The Magnum PI place was up for sale recently.
Robin's Nest is the fictional beach front estate on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, which serves as the residence of the main characters. In the series, it is portrayed as being owned by renowned novelist Robin Masters, who is seldom present at the estate and entrusts Jonathan Higgins as the estate's caretaker and Thomas Magnum as its security expert. Higgins resides in the estate's main house while Magnum occupies the guest house. 
In reality, located in Waimānalo, the 3 acres (1.2 ha) beach front property is located on the east shore of Oahu at 41-505 Kalanianaole Highway (Route 72) near Waimanalo Beach (21°19′30″N 157°40′48″W). Called "Pahonu" ("turtle enclosure" in Hawaiian), it is also known locally as "The Anderson Estate". The property was originally used for hundreds of years for raising green turtles for the Hawaiian royal family, and includes a 500 by 50 foot stone wall that encircles the former turtle-raising pond, which since 1978 has been on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Hawaii.Developed as a residential estate in the early 1930s, the estate comprises a 11,000 square feet (1,000 m2) main house, a boathouse (which in the series appears as the guest house that Magnum occupies), a gatehouse, a private tennis court, a beach front and the registered tidal pool. 
Owned for a long time by Cox Communications heiress Barbara Cox Anthony, after her death it passed to her stepdaughter, Hawaiian politician Eve Glover Anderson...

Not that I'm interested, but what is it supposed to be worth?
Placed on the market with Sotheby's International Realty for $15.750M in January 2014...

Hey, that place probably needs a lot of work, let's get more realistic....
it was sold for $8.7M in March 2015...


...to Seth Madorsky, a Chicago lawyer who has close-ties to President Barack Obama, and then transferred to an LLC registered in Colorado.

Crap, Obama's got it.  Never mind.


October 12, 2015

The updated updated updated Annotated Alice reviewed

This is awfully good.


October 11, 2015

You're so lucky! I can't believe how lucky you are!

Doc Rivers (kinda) says the Warriors were lucky.
The Warriors won the season series against the Clippers 3-1 in 2014-15, winning the three games by an average of 9.7 points per game. 

"...he wasn't aimin' at you. "

Return of the Queen

When I first heard Adele it was almost like a physical blow, a shock to the system I can only compare to my first experience of Aretha.  In a pop milieu in which stars are generally picked for physical attributes or a particular stylistic pose, Adele broke through with sheer, even brutal emotional power.  No autotune required:

Xykon, the Lich Lord from Order of the Stick might have been thinking of Adele when he said:
Only two things matter: Force in as great a concentration as you can manage, and style. And in a pinch, style can slide. In any battle, there's always a level of force against which no tactics can succeed ... yes, I am a sorcerer — and this magic is in my bones, not cribbed-off "Magic for Dummies". And I can keep casting the same friggin' spell at you until you roll over and die. You can have your finely-tuned watch -- give me the sledgehammer to the face any day.

What made Adele astonishing was that she could actually do it.  Every boy imagines running out on the football field and smashing everyone and getting a touchdown, but after a few tries he figures out that no one is that strong: some dodging and trickery is required.  When power fails, one resorts to art.

Adele never learned that.  She brings eight cases of Samsonite and starts smashing things with them.  It's so pure and powerful it's difficult to even make fun of, although I liked Julieanne Smolinksi's "my body is ready" tweet (since deleted) as the singer prepared to sing "Skyfall" on Oscar night.

Which is why I was sorry to hear about her voice troubles, and am delighted to report that, once again, she is advancing toward the microphone.

Like cockroaches suddenly caught in the beam of an 800 mm candlepower searchlight, lesser artists are scattering:
The major labels have realised it’s essential they get out any big releases [early] because from November 20, it’s very likely to be about one woman only. She will dominate pre-Christmas sales. 
That’s why Justin Bieber, Kylie Minogue and One Direction are going head-to-head the week before - usually the record companies would want a No1 album with artists that big but in this case they simply want to get the album out there before Adele.

Heh, heh, lookit 'em run.

This could be good.

October 10, 2015

Win one for the Heifer

I have a co-worker who lives and dies by the fortunes of the Texas Longhorns.  Watching her suffering through this worst of all possible years for the team has been hilarious has moved me at times almost to tears.

And this week, even the most ardent admirer of that storied side could not have held out much hope.  Coming off a brutal 50-7 loss to Texas Christian University that exposed every weakness of the team that had not already been ruthlessly exposed by prior oppoenents, they faced the #8-ranked Oklahoma Sooners, a hated rival that, unlike the shambolic Texans, had progressed through the 2015 season with approximately the same efficiency as had the Grand Armée as it passed through Lithuania (the first time).

The outlook wasn't brilliant.  Consider:
  • Record entering game:  1-5
  • Win probabability:  6 percent
  • Projected margin of defeat:  27 points
  • Bevo, the Longhorns' mascot had a life-threatening disease and had to miss the game
And...that's why they play the games.


TL:DR B-17s Crash Into Each Other, One on Top, Lock Up, Fly On, on Fire, Ball Turret With Gunner Pops into Other Plane, Planes Crash Intactish, Pilot Walks Away, Lights Cigarette

Ok, this one impressed me.

Then, an annoyed german soldier asks him to put it out because of you know gasoline everywhere. I assume he would have punched the solider if he wasn't so tired.

Related: Finally some specific funding possibilities for the Bomber project on horizon. Getting a volunteer group together.

Some naughty songs


October 08, 2015

In this week's episode of "That's My Governor!"

[E]ven by California's standards, this has been an eventful time. In the past three days, Governor Brown has signed bills mandating gender pay equity, legalizing assisted suicide, and setting up an ambitious data collection program to combat racial profiling in law enforcement. Go back 14 months, and the state has enacted minimum wage legislation and added important strokes to what one expert calls an immigration reform revolution.


October 03, 2015

A useful little trick

Well, I am finally getting started on Baldur's Gate, re-skinned and with all the extra character types of the Enhanced Edition.  I know nothing of the campaign ahead, but I have always wanted to play a sorcerer, so I took one of those - and fortuitously chose 'Sleep' as one of the known spells right before two solid chapters of kobolds and gibberlings.

Without much thought ("why not?") I ticked the box for the 'Dragon Disciple' subclass (details here), which reduces the number of spells you can cast each day by one.  This made for a tedious start to the game, but now the quid pro quo:  at 3rd level my character has just received this (1x/day) ability:

This should make those up-close encounters with various bosses a bit more enjoyable.

Harry's gets very, very serious



October 01, 2015

A fun week in the exciting work of cyber-security

Well, it's National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  No, really.  Stop laughing.  (link)
  • I just got new credit cards with computer chips in them, which make them totally secure, unless, you know, the bad guys know how to factor a prime number.  (link)
  • When Citrix's head of security goes to Black Hat and DEFCON he prints out his schedule on a piece of paper so he doesn't have to turn on his cell phone.  But by all means enable Private Browsing! (link)
  • Confronted by John McCain this week, a CIA guy could barely contain his laughter when asked about the Chinese raid on the Federal employee database.  "We, too, practice cyber espionage. We're not bad at it," he said, his pinky finger creeping ever closer to the corner of his lip.  (link)
  • Also this week, the FBI said this week that politics will not intefere with their investigation of Hillary Clinton's e-mail. (link)

Any system can be broken into.  All major powers do it to one another, as do terror groups and the mob.  It's like watching a big gasoline fight next to a dumpster fire.  Apparently someone thinks they're going to win, but it's hard to see how it's going to work out well for anybody.

Now where did I leave that Palm Pilot?