Saturday, December 21, 2002

See you in suburban Chicago. It's unclear how much blogging will take place. Internet connection will exist but with family around I imagine I'll have better things to do.
New post on Outer Sunset
Coming soon. The second comments widget will probably stay on After Dark for awhile just out of inertia. If you have strong preferences about which place is better suited for comments, let me know. Or strong preferences about whether the other two blogs exist.

Or if you're Captain Fancy you can nag me to just switch over to MoveableType already! To which Laurence Simon would add, and ping while you're at it!

And instead of hand-managing my links, I should sign up with blogrolling. The list goes on.
Another minor triumph
As of nine hours from now I'll have made it through a full week of caring for two cats without ever stepping on or tripping over one. Just now I stepped on a pair of pajama shorts on my floor; as I was stepping the thing under my feet felt catlike for some reason. My heart nearly stopped.

Stepping on a cat is one of the worst things in the world. You know what's happening as it's happening but you can't prevent it. Obviously the poor creature just skitters away from you at breakneck speed, after a very loud anguished cry. You didn't mean to and feel really sorry but all the kitty knows is that you hurt it.

In other words, this is something well worth avoiding.
Age of Triumph
Twice in two days I've beaten the computer at Age of Kings, one-on-one, Hardest level. Yesterday it looked like a Baltic map, today either Highland or Rivers, whichever has the one river running across the middle of the map. Both very easy to wall. Contrast to an Arabia map where I got completely smoked.

That Rivers map, with exactly one path across, seems really easy to beat, partly because the computer underuses the water. Send a few war galleys to fire at any soldiers who try to cross; on your end build a wall/gate, V-shaped inward, flanked by a pair of towers. And of course build a barracks and garrison a couple soldiers in those towers. Then at just the right moment build a castle or two on the other side. In this case victory came in less than an hour. I only found three of the relics though. (I thought computer had the other two but he had none.)

This is actually marginally harder as one-on-two Hard level, since you have two fronts to protect. Now that I can consistently beat one-on-two Hard, the next challenge was going to be either one-on-one Hardest or one-on-three Moderate, where the kind of difficulty is completely different in each case. Against Hardest you risk getting clobbered early but time is on your side -- the opposite of facing many Moderate opponents, where you really need to get them out of the way before they get gradually more powerful and dwarf you by the numbers.

A couple weeks ago R. asked why I was still playing Age of Kings when Age of Mythology had just come out. Call me cheap and/or lazy.
South, Race, and Journalism
Interesting Rod Dreher story here. Summary: Many years ago he covered the attempt to save a black Baptist church in Louisiana from a scheming property owner. In his interviews, one misguided white woman told him something about how they'd always been good to "our nigras." He chose not to publish that quote because it would have done more harm than good.

Even unrelated to Dreher's point, I'm intrigued at how he chose to shape the story (what he reported at the time). I think most reporters do this, usually in situations that they perceive to be good-versus-evil. It's a judgment call, and I actually do think it's usually the right thing to do, although given that most journalists trend a bit lefty (bleeding heart rather than radical), you can see how corporations, dead white men, and other traditional righty boogeymen sometimes end up painted as evil when they really aren't.

Bottom line: Media bias exists. It's not a big deal to me that it does, but it floors me when people either deny that it exists or attempt to spin it in the opposite direction (like how it's suddenly in vogue to complain about "conservative media bias" after people mostly ignored many years worth of complaints the other way around).

(Someone on an e-mail list -- a sports-related list of all things -- got me off on this tangent by throwing in a media bias non seqitur in his e-mail. Maybe it was his .signature. Anyhow, I responded. Probably should've left well enough alone.)

Friday, December 20, 2002

Web-Based Email Hackery
Question here for whoever wants to suggest something:

After cleaning out my Yahoo! account relatively thoroughly (the real inbox isn't empty, nor is the folder that my silicon-age/vectiv e-mail forwards go to, but they both have only a handful of messages), I'm using 65% of my 6MB disk quota instead of 92%.

Based on the last time I cleaned it out, I think almost 60% of my quota currently goes to messages that I want to save but don't need to have at my fingertips within Yahoo! Mail. (That is, I could store them on a hard drive or in a briefcase.)

Unfortunately, Yahoo! appears to treat those individual messages as separate objects, leaving me no easy way to concatenate them or just move an entire folder to my Yahoo! Briefcase. Is there any slick way, easier than diddling each message one-by-one, to move the contents of a whole folder into some other storage medium?
guess I won't get married any time soon
breaded boneless pork cutlet 1, matt 0

i was microwaving it, and coming back in here to dote on the cats during the cooking cycles. each time let it sit a couple minutes before removing. right before the second time in though i heard chris out with scott talking about how he guessed he did have food to heat up after all.

so as a courtesy to him i decided to take it out right when the microwave dinged. first grab: HOT HOT BURN reflex is drop it. here time slows way way down as i see my dinner about to fall to the floor. instinct to keep it not falling on the floor overcomes instinct not to touch HOT HOT BURNING things. mistake.

epicenter of pain is on my left ring finger where a ring would be. this has been my entire life for the past 30-45 minutes. still hurts like hell.

don't do this. stay away from microwave ovens. the cats are very very concerned about me now.

typed mostly with one hand.
Body Image and Standardized Tests
Very interesting study here, by way of Kim Swygert's amazing weblog.

While I'm still unemployed, I start to wonder how good a psychometrician I'd be. I'm all about the standardized tests, see. One of my few extreme talents in life (I have many mild talents) is the ability to just obliterate any standardized test. Because of this ability, I tend to assume that standardized tests measure far less than other people think they measure.

(Aside: There's a really inane stereotype about incoming freshman, at least at certain schools, comparing test scores and the like in their first week on campus. Either my class already knew how lame this was or we had that concept drilled into us or both, because I saw people mocking this long before I ever saw anyone actually doing it. If you care, I did NOT have a perfect SAT score, but this was over a decade ago back before they dumbed down the grading scale. I didn't have a perfect L-SAT either, so it's possible that my bluster about standardized tests is just bluster. Still, last year I did remarkably well on the GMAT for how little I studied for it.)

Anyway, Swygert rocks. Every time I think of this results from Joanne Jacobs linking to a specific article of hers (in this case, mad props for the title of this piece). I always either don't have time or am too lazy actually to add her to my blog links.
More sort-of-like-me's who aren't really me
The Matt B. who used to post to Baseball Primer (who isn't me) hasn't posted there in awhile but now there's an mbruce (also not me) posting to Little Green Footballs.

Any weblog comment I make will have my Geocities page for homepage or Yahoo! address for e-mail or both, depending on what info the widget asks for. This is also occasionally true on Baseball Primer, just not when I post as a celebrity/entity for effect. (I've posted not-totally-anonymously a couple times now, with a handle nobody else would think to use that still pretty clearly identifies me.)
Alternate-universe Miss World
More anti-Islamic propaganda (tongue firmly in cheek there), via Instapundit.

Maybe my outlook would be different if I had friends who were devout Muslims. I'd imagine with what's going on in the world, it's very hard to practice Islam in sophisticated circles these days, perhaps a thousand times harder than to be a Catholic in Boston at the height of the pedophile scandals. At least Cardinal Law never tried to excuse the atrocities as a central element of his very faith.
Life on a Median Strip
Worst neighborhood ever? I feel as though there should be some moral here involving zoning laws or road construction or such.

Via Hit and Run, where you can also go read Nick Gillespie's idea for Republicans: truly colorblind legislation. (Also proposed by Instapundit in the form of the End Racism and Segregation Act.)

On the Gillespie thread, if you look really closely you can find a real live troll in the comments section. (Search for "Raimondo.") He's better known for anti-war rantings but apparently he also doesn't like libertarians very much. He's arguably the biggest asshole online -- I'm not trying to exaggerate -- but he does have a gift with words. (Any other "biggest asshole online" candidate probably doesn't write well enough to be worth mentioning.)
I used to like Nolan Richardson
But he's become part of a surprisingly serious problem, even in the sports world: For whatever reason people have decided when things don't go their way, they should sue the pants off someone, just for the sake of suing.
Best three-word post ever
Background: Click on any recent Baseball Primer thread and look for post(s) by "Admiral Ackbar." It's a lame joke, long sense worn thin.

And then someone pulled out this reference.
More from Instapundit
GOP 2, Bigots 0?

That probably vastly overstates the effect of both Republican crossover vote in the McKinney primary and conservative influence on the anti-Lott bandwagon but there's a tiny grain of truth to it.
This probably isn't a parody.

This, however, is definitely a parody.

(Both via Instapundit.)
Three Guesses Whether I'll Bother To See These
It has come to my attention (through both a theater poster and TV commercials) that there's a new romantic comedy starring Aston Kutcher and Brittany Murphy as a honeymooning couple. The best they could come up with for the TV commercial was Aston's mother-in-law asking him to call her Pussy -- "you know, like the cat."

It has also come to my attention that there's a new chick flick starring Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. There's a pair of actors whom I could see making about a half-dozen movies together, all of which would suck. Given that I've successfully avoided the entire set of Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan vehicles, staying away from Sandra and Hugh shouldn't be too hard. Apparently he's a workaholic and she's his mistreated personal assistant but realizes how much she loves him only when she quits.

To the extent that any of you reading this reflect the demographic to which these movies are aimed: What on Earth are you thinking? I'll be charitable and assume that Hollywood misunderstands your tastes that badly rather than that your tastes are just that bad.

Then again I'm going to be really smug when this one comes out. Everyone else will probably hate it but the title alone sold me. Also, Morgan Freeman is just barely behind Alanis Morissette on the all-time list of best casting decisions for you-know-which-part.

And -- okay fine, I'll admit it -- in the trailer, I got an extreme kick out of the off-color scenes involving the dog.
Christmas Spirit
The local post office locked its doors promptly at 5:30, although there were still customers inside.

Each time a customer left a USPS employee had to let 'em out. One such employee gracefully took my numerous stamped envelopes at around 5:34. Maybe they'll still be postmarked today -- maybe.

Even if not, that seemed awfully nice of him to take my cards after the deadline.
Conked Out
Athena was really really hyper all morning and early afternoon. Every small creature has a play threshold, though. I indulged her long enough and as of an hour ago she hit the wall (figurative). Ever since then she's been on my other chair, dead to the world. Few things on Earth are as compelling as a furry mammal in deep deep slumber.

UPDATE: Just as I typed that she leaped off the chair to munch on some dry food.
Segregation and Pork-Barrel Spending
Insight from Virginia Postrel.
Card update
Every card I had on hand is now sealed in an envelope with an address on it.

Ironically, the two biggest omissions are the first two people to send me cards this year. One I might send a non-generic card. The other -- friends of my parents -- I stupidly threw away their envelope (with return address on it) because it had been soaked in the rain. I'll just call my parents for their address.

I could have gotten by with just the cards I had but there were a few people who I didn't want to leave out and really nobody for whom I'd second-guess sending a card. I'm currently at least three cards short (maybe two if I get a specific card for the one recipient: I imagine her card for me was non-generic, unless she used the Rocky Horror Picture Show theme for everyone on her list), likely more when I get to Illinois (or even check today's mail) and see which relatives or friends-of-parents specifically included me.

Time now to stick return address labels on them all, procure holiday-themed postage, and maybe even fill out some State of California paperwork if I'm going to the post office anyway.

RANDOM FREE-ASSOCIATION QUESTION: Would it have been too irreverent to send somebody the 3 of Clubs? After all, it's a card. So in the one deck that I have lying around, somehow the 3 of Clubs became marked. (One of its edges is badly frayed.) I've bought at least three other decks in the past year, now possessed by the people I know who host poker games.

(Really, I ought to host poker sometime. Maybe combine my friends with Scott's and Chris's. We have the room.)
Today's moment of baseball zen
In my mind's ear I can hear Roy Steele announcing an A's batter next year.

"The designated hitter. E-ru-bi-el... Du-ra-zo."

The drum cheer for him will be really tricky.
This is why ESPN News turns out to be useful
It's unclear why I didn't check ESPN this morning. (I have some errands to run and didn't want to squander the whole day.) But while waiting for my food to heat up I flipped through channels a bit, caught the lame ending of a basketball game on ESPN Classic (okay, you see that there's five minutes of real time left in an ESPN Classic college hoops broadcast; one team has an eight point lead with a minute left -- don't you automatically assume the other team will stage a stunning comeback?), almost watched the start of a Roseanne episode (more on that later), then settled on ESPN News.

Long story short, wasn't David Cone traded for Ed Hearn once? I'm shocked by this and so is the ESPN News anchor guy.

UPDATE: Bwahahahaha! (Warning: off-color.)

At this rate I'll never get my cards out on time.
Our medium-length national nightmare is over...
I honestly didn't think he'd step down. I actually do wish he'd followed through on the rumored threat of leaving the Senate entirely. To paraphrase a recent Dilbert, that would have "worked out better than I hoped."

He's not necessarily a bad man, though, just shockingly incompetent for someone who somehow got a leadership position in a political party.
Geopolitics and Two Towers
While it's certainly possible to read too much into things -- I heard once how some people thought the trilogy was an extended WWII allegory, only to have Tolkien firmly deny this -- I did find this analysis pretty compelling.
I honestly haven't decided how I feel about this one
But does anyone else think the INS roundup sounds a lot like a sting operation Chief Wiggum tried in Springfield once? I forget which episode but I think Homer almost fell for it, only to get out of it somehow.
Well-spoken post about partisanship
Props to Jesse Walker for pointing out something that really bothers me.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Two unrelated people who are both toast
(both courtesy of Damian Penny -- yes, this means I get both my geopolitical news and my pop culture news from a guy in Newfoundland)

1. Britney; even Pepsi doesn't like her.

2. Saddam; even France doesn't like him.
A right-wing shitlist
This one isn't as funny, or as equal-opportunity, as the Buffalo one several posts down, but if we have to endure end-of-year lists then this is the kind of wickedness I like.

Note: Just so you know where I'm coming from... Despite knowing nothing about fashion, I always love Mr. Blackwell's worst-dressed list. Also I'm a sucker for Joe Queenan.
Disney's Muppets
Yep, Muppets now part of Disney. Here's the Amish Tech Support take on it.

As owner of a token amount of Disney stock (from an employee stock plan three jobs ago), I can identify with his more tasteless joke.
Who died and made James Carville pope?
Even without commenting on the substance of the post, Mickey Kaus gets unofficial Blog Headline of the Year award.

Also, scroll through the post and read his "P.S."
Here's a some revolting history for you.

I find it striking sometimes just how bad most U.S. presidents, even most revered ones, really were. Don't get me started on either of the Roosevelts.
Nickles vs. Lott
Going with the "facts in the body, opinion on the comments widget" theme, here's a story Google found me when I was looking something up for one of the previous comments.

UPDATE: More from Best of the Web -- not about Nickles but rather about... no noun really works here. Just trust me that it's in a similar vein (not necessarily the one bursting from my neck).

UPDATE II: On the lighter side, the bad pun we'd all been waiting for.

UPDATE III: Nice dashiki!

UPDATE IV: Not sure how many people feel the way I do but in terms of grassroots effort between now and January 6... I have no Republican senators. Those of you in Massachusetts, Michigan, or New York have a similar problem. But maybe someone out there could make a polite phone call to Arlen Specter or Peter Fitzgerald or whoever is appropriate to where you live.
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
Here's a compelling story involving one of the three. If there's a moral to the story, it probably applies to the other two things also.

UPDATE: Come for the tale about an idiot, stay for the embarrassing Tivo confession.
Social issues and cans of worms
I have nothing new to post at the moment but I've added a couple of response comments to one of the posts below.

(I almost regret quitting on Outer Sunset but the political issues involved there still distress me. I guess there's a difference between political intrigue and social issues, where the latter are really what the people who'd rather not see politics here would rather not see.)

Maybe on hot-button issues I could post with information/links but no editorial content, then contribute my personal opinion to the comments widget. You'd probably still see my personal biases in content selection and even seemingly harmless choice of words. Then again, that wouldn't be much different from reading the Times. (New York or Washington, depending on where you come down on media bias questions. But why am I parenthetically over-explaining a lame joke?)
Western Sahara
The author of this piece has an axe to grind, but I think it's a legitimate gripe. If Morocco were a secular European state, or heaven forbid a predominantly Jewish state, I think we'd hear a lot more about Western Sahara than we do. (Via Little Green Footballs.)

UPDATE: Lefty strawman says, "if Morocco had oil, would Bush be drumming up support to invade?" I can vouch for neither the correctness nor incorrectness of this lefty strawman--it just popped into my head and I'm too sleepy to elaborate or refute.
More good press for one of the men I most admire
Glowing praise here for Tony Dungy. He's not only one of the men I most admire in sports; he's one of the men I most admire, period. He's everything I'd want in a leader, specifically one who led me.

(In my work history I've been very fortunate to have direct superiors who were mostly similar to him.)

I wish I could be as quiet and as calm as he is. I'm too unsubtle, though, too hyper.

He's dead right about yards allowed versus points allowed, though. Ranking a defense by yards allowed is like ranking a baseball offense by batting average.
Akasha may be the one who looks like Cupcake
...but boy does Athena snore the way Cuppee used to. (She was also acting really strange/frisky earlier tonight. I thought maybe she had a hairball but no signs of it.)

During this evening's blogburst they've acted as kind of a tag team, one trolling for pets around my computer/chair while the other nibbled on dry food or took a nap. They both seem to like me, which isn't a huge surprise given that they've been in this same room since Saturday afternoon--I'm the only human contact they have. (Scott did come say hi to them Saturday night but both he and Chris are in favor of a closed-door policy during the kitties' stay here.)

I feed them and freshen their water and I'd like to think I pet well.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

The Pierson vs. Post of our era
UPDATE: What I originally wrote here was stupid, partly because this article didn't understand the legal principles involved. Here's a much better account of the Bonds home run ball ruling.

The judge found that Popov never gained possession of the ball, but that he nevertheless acquired "a legally cognizable pre-possessory interest" in the ball by nearly catching it, and thus that he has as good a claim to the ball as Hayashi does. The bottom line: the ball is to be sold and Popov and Hayashi are to split the proceeds.

Note the difference between actual posession and "pre-possessory interest." From this I infer -- to answer the question raised in the ESPN article -- that Hayashi should be the one who controls when and how the ball is auctioned. Either way, I wholeheartedly agree with this evaluation:

The decision makes new law, so there's a decent chance it will be reversed if either side appeals, but if it doesn't get reversed the opinion will be in the first chapter of every Property casebook published in the foreseeable future. It's the Pierson v. Post of our era.

(By the way, if I remember right, Pierson vs. Post was about possession of whale blubber. The whale in question had the one guy's harpoon in it but I think the other guy, the one who found it, won the case. I've probably gotten it wrong -- 1L was six years ago -- so don't rely on me.)
Strange tidings in Houston
[Jeff] Kent, 34, won the MVP award two years ago and hit .313 last season with 37 homers and 108 RBIs, helping San Francisco win its first NL pennant since 1989. His arrival means four-time Gold Glove second baseman Craig Biggio must move to the outfield.
--Associated Press, via Yahoo! Sports

So from my vantage point, pre-Kent, the Astros had Lance Berkman, Richard Hidalgo, a very good platoon (Daryle Ward and Jason Lane), and a hole at third base. (Apologies to Morgan Ensberg fans or Geoff Blum fans.) I think I know where Mr. Biggio or Mr. Kent will move, and I don't think it's the outfield.
Somewhat insightful Jonah Goldberg column
This isn't entirely profound but it's a good read.

I strongly disagree with his opening, though: I love playing poker with women, at least the particular women with whom I've played poker. Even when they don't fully understand a particular game, that just adds to the uncertainty of bidding against them.

(Am I a freak? I've played poker with two distinct groups of people -- really no more than two of us in the union of these groups -- but in neither case is men behaving badly part of the experience. Maybe math grad students and {physics grad students plus dot-commers} are just different.)
The Big Issue Of The Day about which I'm most apathetic:
How to rebuild on the World Trade Center site?

If you have a strong opinion, sound off; explain why. Or better yet follow the link and post to the comments widget there.

I feel neither an obligation to put some really tall building there, nor an obligation not to. Whatever goes up there shouldn't be completely tacky, and ideally would be respectful/commemorative, but I'm easy to please on both counts.
Remote Possibilities
A couple weeks ago Brick Barrientos mentioned a new product that includes what amounts to a cheap, convenient lockout system. He wonders whether he's found a solution to something nobody else thinks is a problem.

Maybe I've become more tolerant of slap-bowl than others (in these parts instead of slapping we just call out "buzz!") but it seems to me that if the competition is serious enough not to slap, it's probably serious enough that people want equipment they trust. If it's good, at some point the Remote Possibilities system will inspire trust. For now, I don't do anything personally where this would be a huge upgrade over slapping. If I did a better job evangelizing trivia games, maybe that would be different.

Brick has also e-mailed me a photoshopped image of what my head shot would look like with Ryan Klesko's cap on. I'll add a link to that sometime soon; I can't link directly from here to Geocities images though. (Yeah, I could embed the image on an ad hoc HTML page. I'm lazy.)
Theme of Luxury
Many people have had a favorite song ruined by its appearance in a car commercial but my roommate Chris's is arguably the most obscure.

I rode with Chris to The Two Towers* today (hence the drop in bloggage from Monday & Tuesday) and recognized the first song on the CD he played. The commercial alternates between a short-haired woman sitting alone at a restaurant table and a man just booking it down the highway. At one point he crosses the Golden Gate Bridge. Then he arrives at the restaurant with flowers and an apology for being late, having been caught in traffic in the way from work. (There's a You must be X! intro that conveys the sense that this is a blind date.) Punchline: He works in Los Angeles.

(Geographic nitpick: If he were traveling from downtown LA to downtown SF, there's no way the fastest route would involve the Golden Gate Bridge. It's plausible that the restaurant is in Marin County but even then you'd want to take 5 to 580 instead of hopping over to the 101.)

We listened to half the CD before the movie, then the rest afterwards. When it circled back to the first track he mentioned his own surprise about the car commercial, wondering how they ended up deciding on "faux retro lounge music by a Japanese artist."

*- I liked it. I feel sheepish not having anything more specific to say but I'm not good at critiquing movies. At one point the score reminded me of Dogma, not surprising since both this score and that score were Howard Shore. Other than that I have no insight.
High Traffic?
Three times in two days now, I've posted a link here and enough people followed the link to get the attention of whoever was on the other end. That's pretty invigorating. Two out of three times I saw the link on Instapundit (the other one was on Little Green Footballs). Surely the traffic I bring isn't nearly the volume of Instapundit or LGF.

Maybe it's Sean Forman's fault. Maybe the 2002 Oakland A's (or one of the rookies whose pages I bid on) are bringing in new sets of eyes. In any case, thanks for reading and thanks for following the links. (Does anyone who posts a lot of links ever feel like a mother sending newspaper clippings to her kids?)
Lessons from Lott
(Warning: Politics.)

Somewhat interesting article here. I agree with most, if not all, of what he says. Two points to differ on:

1. He claims that homosexuals will eventually be granted basic civil rights, but I have a hard time finding a basic civil right that they don't already have. (Maybe this is hair-splitting but I really don't think domestic partner benefits are a "basic civil right," just as I disagree with the U.N. about housing being a "human right." Even military service doesn't seem to be on the same plane as integrated education or voting. Gays should be able to serve because it's the right thing to do, not because of some inherent moral obligation.)

UPDATE: Realized a "duh!" in the car this afternoon -- gay marriage, or the like. I'm in favor of it. (I'm wary of "civil unions" as a non-equivalent equivalent; then again, I'm surprised that more religious people aren't offended by the idea that marriages are made official by the government rather than by the faith. Consider two random people who go to a justice of the peace: Legally they're "married," and that's the term we use, but isn't that fundamentally different from what, say, a Catholic or a Mormom might think of as a true marriage?) Anyhow, I've seen people defend gay marriage as means to the end of not being denied hospital visitation. Not sure whether that's the best means to that end but it's certainly a compelling end.

2. I claim that a century or two from now, abortion will be seen as barbaric. Mind, birth control will probably be far more advanced then than now. Still, the more we discover about prenatal existence, I think the more remorse people will feel about lives lost.

So either I'm wrong on point #2, or the author's general thesis is wrong, or abortion should be treated far differently than it currently is. I imagine most of you will say I'm wrong on point #2; I'm content to leave it at that.

Getting away from that topic, Instapundit has an apolitical but more profound lesson to draw:
Pick the wrong people for important jobs, and you have problems every time.
Burning Tree
Here's something I didn't know: Burning Tree, a country club in Bethesda, MD, doesn't allow women to play on it even as guests. (Women can play as guests at Augusta. I imagine that basically means members' wives/daughters can play, with any other ladies SOL.) Where's the outrage? I suppose without the Masters, Burning Tree isn't as juicy a target.

Famous Burning Tree members include, but are not limited to:
Bryant Gumbel (host, HBO's Real Sports)
Bob Schieffer (host, CBS's Face the Nation)
Jack Valenti (Hollywood spokesdweeb)

More here.
Catbert's Most Excellent Butt-Warming Device
Athena has figured out how to leap on top of my monitor. This is more impressive than it sounds: My monitor is quite large and sits atop a stand. How time flies: When the strip I refer to in the title originally came out, Catbert wondered how much better an experience it would be if the computer had Windows 95 installed.

(This one has Win98 at a time when having Win98 marks you as a relic. In the MS universe I'm two operating systems behind, right?)
The Village Idiot
I had to think about this one for awhile but once I understood, it was pretty profound.
Political Bigwig Metaphor of the Day
Sid [Blumenthal] frequently gives the impression that he's on his way to a great party to which you're not invited, and in my experience he often is.
--Mickey Kaus

Times like this I wonder whether I should resurrect Outer Sunset, just to chortle some more. Then again, refraining from it unless/until Lott leaves is almost certainly the best policy. (More Lott news: The BET interview became a laughingstock tonight on both the Daily Show and Leno.) Still, if I had a political weblog I could smugly point you to Tuesday Morning Quarterback's critique of Hillary Clinton. (Subheader "Publishers Should Waive Clintons to Save Cap Space.) Guess I just smugly pointed you to it anyway.

(N.B. Obviously this kind of smarmy, snobby behavior exists on both sides of the aisle. You can probably think of a few Republicans even more noxious than Blumenthal or HRC.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Southern history and song lyrics
Interesting post here about one of the most horrific elements of U.S. history. Has somewhat of a Trent Lott angle.
Two musical observations and some supermarket commentary
Actual radio choice just now:
AC/DC, "Big Balls," versus Nirvana, "Lithium."

To me the right answer is clear. This is also why no "classic rock" format will ever be better than a radio station that simply advertises "rock" (or "The Rock" as it were). Meawhile on the alternative station, more airplay for The Donnas.

Have you heard of The Donnas? Are they nationwide or just a local thing? (I know they're from around here.) They sound like a Hollywood movie producer's idea of a good grrrl band. They do rock out they also sound very generic to me. Maybe I'm thinking of that punk band from Wayne's World. Their big hit single is "Take It Off," featuring lines like Take it off, baby, for me.

Onto Safeway, where the discounts aren't nearly as ubiquitous as they were a month ago. On my last Safeway visit I got a good deal on Claim Jumper (tm) lasagna, apparently marketed by a restaurant chain that also serves it. Disturbing though: If a restaurant chain can bulk-sell frozen entrees then what would prevent the reverse process? Say you go to a Claim Jumper (n.b. I've never been to one) and order the lasagna: Do they just heat up one of their frozen packages? (The lasagna was a bit too watery for my taste. Either the sauce didn't come out quite right or the cheese powder didn't morph cheesily enough.)

Noticed in the checkout line that tabloits claim that there's a "war" on between Britney and Justin. Last time I commented on those two I got in trouble, probably deservedly so. Had plenty of time to think about this because I was right behind The Mexicans. It's funny, living in a large, very ethnically diverse city, that I very rarely run into walking talking stereotypes. For example, while the guys at the 6th and University (Berkeley) gas station are proudly Mexican (flag and such), they don't fit any stereotype. The most memorable thing is the one guy who can make change insanely quickly. But this couple in the supermarket line... the woman had the shopping cart absolutely loaded with nearly $200 worth of food (heavily influenced by tortillas, ground meat, and sauces). The cashier had to do something non-standard involving discount cards and some item that the woman wasn't buying after all. The man kind of stood behind her, with a handlebar moustache and a hangdog expression. I'd bet large amounts of money his name was Pablo.

Finally got checked through: $39-and-change of purchases got knocked down to $20.77 by my discount card. By percentage that's a personal record, at the low low cost of surrendering my privacy. Actually, I'm deeply amused by the people who throw fits over privacy discount cards. For me the worst-case scenario is, one day federal agents come pounding on my door, hellbent on cruelly mocking me:

Hey, eaten any good Triscuits lately, Triscuit Boy?

You look hungry. Why don't I grab something out of your freezer and nuke it?

Don't get me wrong, there are some scary threats to privacy in the data-mining world. Total Information Awareness does frighten me, if only because no war can possibly be won by any side that clueless about marketing and image presentation. (Avoidance of creepy logos, for example.) It's not even a Nazi thing so much as a Klink/Schultz thing.
(I assume that's pronounced ron-TRAY but what do I know?)

Possible new center fielder for Oakland. Just a few days ago I read about him here and liked him as a potential Ranger.

Speaking of baseball players with cool names, my seven most likely Rotisserie Masters' Open keepers sound sort of like a gay men's chorus:
Randy, Miguel, Lance, Jarrod, Aubrey, Torii, and Erubiel

I may want to replace one of them with a Brandon (losing a round N pick, N <=16) if I feel like gambling on a hot prospect. The scary part is that the baseball fans who read this blog can probably identify all eight of those guys just by first name. Or by my writing about them so much already.

(Those particular seven would cost me my first three draft picks -- ninth, 16th, and 33rd overall, maybe slightly worse depending on how expansion works -- plus rounds 10, 14, 15, and 16. The one I'm most reluctant about is the 16th overall pick, but between middle infielder scarcity and the effect of keepers on pick inflation, it might still be best. Some hard-to-part-with keeper candidates NOT mentioned above: Mark Bellhorn -- low batting average, job security, but nice pop for a SS-qualifier; John Lackey -- World Series Hero but not as high-percentage pick as the ones above; Paul Byrd -- now that he's a Brave I'll probably regret not holding him in higher esteem, but then he and Josh Fogg stopped being possessed by aliens at a very inconvenient time in last year's pennant race.)
Cut on the Bias
Come for the debate on how to teach evolution, stay for the parodies of other bloggers.

(The Amish Tech Support one is priceless but that just means I've been reading too much Laurence Simon lately.)

UPDATE: Cool Amish stuff worth asking for by name: Princesses and their random fetishes; also a McKenzie Brothers routine.
Apparently I don't react well to exit(1)
Twice in the last two days Chris has asked me to do something on the spur of the moment, as though I had nothing better to do. I guess in each particular case I really did have nothing better to do but it still felt at the time as though I did.

Scott has no qualms about talking to me if I'm watching TV, perhaps on the theory that neither sports highlights nor VH1 filler programs are all that important in the grand scheme of things.

The problem is that, even if there exist people who watch TV aimlessly or surf the net aimlessly, I actually am interested by whatever it is I'm watching or browsing. Otherwise I wouldn't be watching or browsing it.

The best response here is just to tell me to multitask better.
Fun with Java!
(WARNING: Mocks a group of religious fundamentalists who probably deserve to be mocked. Still, might offend your sensibilities.)

The Islamic Rant Generator (I saw it on Little Green Footballs; he got it from Meryl Yourish.)

Purely technical critique: This is extremely clearly-written code. (Obviously when you publish source code partly for rhetorical effect, you need it to be crystal clear.) He gets mild darts for failing to use the one true brace style. Then again, I used to strongly prefer GNU style until having 1TB drilled into me.

He gets harsher darts for constructing a new object (in the main method) when no object needs to exist. The class has no state data*; all of its methods could have been static. He could have reused the StringBuffer too. But I'm picking nits.

*- If you wanted to you could let different subclasses, or different instances of the class, build their own arrays of phrases.

I think this document mandates one true brace style somewhere. Then again it also claims that exactly four spaces make a better indent than exactly one tab, which is just silly. (If I want four-space indents and you want eight-space, we can just use tab and let our editors of choice make us both happy.)

UPDATE: Come for the {cross between religious parody and technogeekery}, stay for the Harry Potter reference (Warning: Also politics...)
Bonus King of the Hill Quote
From the same episode as the quote atop After Dark, something I wrote down on scratch paper but never got around to putting in a template:

"We've got the Constitution, two George Bushes, great toilets--hell, we've played golf on the moon."
--Hank Hill on what makes America great.
Mail Soup
(Obligatory personal narrative.)

We've gotten considerable rain the past few days, enough to ruin a lot of today's mail (at least, today's bulk mail). At least two worthwhile pieces of mail seem beyond recovery -- Scott's extension school catalog and my Sprint bill (I see how much I owe but the return envelope is now too flimsy to use).

"Mail soup" is Chris's term (I like it). Rather, the stuff we had to throw out had the consistency of really bad cake ingredients.

Other things I did today: Moved my car (from the Wednesday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. street cleaning zone, to the Tuesday noon to 2 zone); got gas; agreed to give Chris a ride back from the repair shop when he takes his Cruiser in for minor fixes (appointment pending); sent TMQ a haiku lamenting Fox's broadcast decisions; gave both cats considerable attention.

Still to do: Some California unemployment paperwork; making my card list. (If you'd like a nonreligious holiday greeting from Snoopy and Woodstock, and you suspect I don't have your postal address, feel free to e-mail it to me.)
Meta-blog update
(Was a comment response, started to get long.)

On futher review, I won't change anything anytime soon. I agree with Jon's point that scrolling through is easier than going to a bunch of different pages. Also there's the "Box of Chocolates" factor--I like not having to think about what category a post is as it's happening. But mostly I'm lazy. Well, not too lazy to output a bunch of text but too lazy to refine its presentation. (You're a writer, not an editor? -ed. Actually yes, one organization has skewed my workload that way. All about comparative advantage.)

Re sports posts coming in bunches: Glad to hear this turns out to be a feature. It's mostly by accident. Sports posts correlate strongly with my watching or going to some particular game.

Despite the calls for more navel gazing, I think this blog will stay mostly the same, maybe marginally less R-rated as I pull more "adult" topics onto After Dark, to give it more content-to-be-commented-on. (If you care, that blog originally came into being basically because of one person. The problem is that even if content is set aside as "TMI", it's still there for the general public to click to, and so there's still a limit on what I can feel comfortable writing. The next time I post an extended narrative from six years ago and don't take it down for awhile, I'll check the comments widget the next day and see a familiar name and get that deer-in-the-headlights look.)

The problem with navel-gazing is that my life is really boring right now. I should be looking harder for work than I am, or failing that, spending far more time on NAQT than I am. Or booking for nub, hence the occasional Yahoo! Personals blogbursts on the other page. I can tell you that when I began this post I had a cat purring in my lap. They both seem to like me now, or at least like being petted. They're also eating/drinking more, maybe less bashful about noshing in my presence.
Least Essential Annual Theme
I love the Onion a.v. club's annual Least Essential Albums feature even though I've generally never heard of any of the acts involved, nor have any plans of buying them. Just reading about the pap that's out there can be amusing.

This week's Savage Love is somewhat depressing. I claim to really enjoy that column, and yet a typical installment of it is either boring or depressing.
Yankee Swap
Mark reminded me: It's unclear whether I ever mentioned this. At our company holiday party last week (the company went under but the party still happened, at the home of my old boss), I had a mid-range number in the gift swap.

I ended up with a Kung Fu Fighting hamster, with uniform and nunchucks. The gift I opened was a pair of books (A Christmas Carol and one of The Cat Who... books), which I decided to keep, but one lady who had the hamster asked if I'd be willing to trade. Sure, why not.

My Scooby Doo Groovy Art Studio (it was half-price at KayBee toys!) will make the old CFO's four-year-old daughter happy.
Political Magazine Weblogs
Now that Hit and Run is a week old, the foks at Reason are giving props out to folks "who gave us early plugs, hugs, or shrugs." It's madcap.

One that they mention is The Corner (by National Review). There's a big difference between the two blogs though, something totally apart from conservatism vs. libertarianism:

Hit and Run is about the links and the cool info; The Corner is about NRO writers bantering with each other. It's a little too navel-gazing for my taste. (Not that I'm one to talk.)
So now some Buffalo alt-weekly has an all-purpose shit-list...
You should read this: Most Loathsome People In America, 2002.

Skews a bit lefty (it's an alt-weekly, what else is new?) but this is still equal-opportunity bile. You'll agree with many of them, scratch your head at a few, but this is delightfully tacky/wicked prose.
VH1's crimes against nature
They have a new show, i love the 80s, with (apparently) ten installments. Tonight I managed to catch the rebroadcasts of 1980 and 1981. The pop culture is still mostly before my time, aside from the Atari 2600, though it's getting closer.

Nitpick: To introduce the "babes of 1981" they trot out Bret Michaels of Poison and play "Talk Dirty To Me" in the background. That wasn't a single until 1986, nor a hit until 1987. Just saying.

That's not the crime against nature, though. After 1981 ended, according to my cable guide the next show was Big 80s Christmas. This turns out to be a 30-minute (maybe 60-minute?) commercial for some new compilation CD. The show begins with some guy talking. They play the first minute or so of "Christmas Wrapping" while the dude yammers on and on. I was growsing to myself about how people need to shut up during bumpers, until I realized that even after the lyrics kicked in he was still talking. Without ever cutting away to the song -- or even crediting it -- he goes onto some smack about Hall & Oates.

Now my Waitresses jones goes temporarily unsatisfied.

Monday, December 16, 2002

A damning indictment of Berkeley's law school and an interesting journalistic ethics question
Why you shouldn't go to Boalt (at least I wouldn't). Short version: Culture centers too much on alcohol. And then the journalistic-ethical dilemma -- same general topic.
Incur Ben Stein's Wrath
He has a pessimistic column here. (WARNING: Politics.)
Advice for Celebrities
Or at least for Sean Penn. I feel a snide comment about Jane Fonda coming on; I'll stifle it.
Not-so-great moments in live sports
I can't explain what happened, nor is it really all that interesting, but for those of you who did see it:
That would have never happened to Suzy

There. That's my sportsbabe contrarianism of the week.

UPDATE: It's still unclear whether I spelled her name right but googling Ms. Kolber led to this column. The money quote:

"I wish [Andy Rooney] had not been monolithic on this," [Leslie] Visser said. "There is more variance within the gender than between the genders. Some women like Suzy Kolber, Bonnie Bernstein and Pam Oliver are very good. Some are not substantial."

At this point I think about a half-dozen female sideline reporters are household names, including Visser and the three she mentions. I don't think anyone can accuse Hannah Storm of being insubstantial. That leaves... I think we all know who that leaves. I won't deny she's attractive but for the role she plays she's deeply overrated. Just saying.
Hail to the Equipment Manager
The best part about this story is that the box score would have then confused the hell out of someone doing data entry. Hey Brian! -- except that Brian moved to North Carolina a couple years ago. Sarge is still in the area but found some other job. Matt... I think Matt's still there. And Don. By now they'd be in positions of seniority.

Anyway if I thought about it enough I'd remember what you needed to do to go in and do a roster fix. It's still useless if you don't have the guy's full name handy.

UPDATE: Looks like they got it right. I tried posting the stats but there were font issues.

Joe Franke (#35) has one game played, 11:03 MIN, 1-0, 4 saves, 2 goals against.
When the Hanukkah Song just isn't enough
I'm not Jewish but I did go to law school. Therefore, this is hilarious.
Meta-Blog Questions
I could just type, with a straight face (straight fingers?) that three hours of scrolling through sports posts builds character. Or I could cater to the audience.

Which of these would you most like to see?
A. A special all-sports blog off-shoot, the way I'd previously done with politics?
B. Category labels on posts? (Pretty easy to do if/when I move to MoveableType.)
C. Collaborative posting/guest authorship?
D. More posts that are basically links to other posts/newspaper articles? Fewer such posts?
E. More navel-gazing? Less navel-gazing?
More on the AFC playoff picture
Since Mark opined that ITSET tiebreaks were premature, here's what we've got for remaining schedule. I'm going to say there's one race for the AFC North crown (nobody in that division will win a wild card spot) and then seven teams fighting for the other five spots. (I claim that the 7-7 teams are hosed, since it looks pretty likely that the threshold will be 10-6. There may even be a 10-6 team that misses the playoffs.)

The 9-5 Teams...
Miami: at Minnesota, at New England. -- Two road games, one against a team coming off a big upset win. The Vikings are still underperforming enough that I'll claim slightly more than one expected win here.

Indianapolis: vs. NY Giants, vs. Jacksonville -- They'll beat the Jags. They've also cleaned up against the NFC East this year. Almost 1.5 expected wins.

Oakland: vs. Denver, vs. Kansas City -- Two bitter rivals, both at home. Let's say slightly more than 1.5 expected wins.

The 8-5 teams...
New England: at Tennessee, vs. NY Jets, vs. Miami -- They could plausibly win out. More likely they win exactly two, and expected win total is more like 1.8 or so.

Tennessee: vs. New England, at Jacksonville, at Houston -- Easiest remaining schedule. Only the Patriots stand in the way of their winning out.

The 8-6 teams...
Denver: at Oakland, vs. Arizona -- Absolutely positively must beat the Raiders, but will be underdogs. Should handle the Cardinals pretty easily.

San Diego: at Kansas City, vs. Seattle -- In slightly better shape than Denver (no trip to Oakland) but still outside shot at best.

I'll claim that if either the Broncos or Chargers make the playoffs, it's at the Patriots' expense.

The AFC Central...
Pittsburgh: at Tampa Bay, vs. Baltimore -- They win the division unless they lose out and the Ravens or Browns win out. Either Baltimore or Cleveland will win next week (they play each other), so unless they pull off a big win at Tampa Bay, the last week decides it for them.

Baltimore: vs. Cleveland, at Pittsburgh -- Win out and they're probably in.

Cleveland: at Baltimore, vs. Atlanta -- Need some serious help. That Atlanta-Cleveland game actually could be big.
Now that we know what we know
The Saints' victories in the first two weeks of the season (vs. Tampa Bay and Green Bay) are really really impressive. Also very helpful on a potential Strength of Victory tiebreaker. (See my response to Jon on the comments for the ITSET--NFC post. That's "If The Season Ended Today" -- or "If the Season Ended Tomorrow" as of when I posted it.)
What Would Darwin Drive?
And when something like this happens, does he paint one more silhouette on the side of his vehicle?

Third post in a row related at least tangentially to something on Amish Tech Support.
Homeboy People's Court
This seems like all of daytime TV rolled up into one.
My personal Holiday Hits From Hell
I kept meaning to nominate these but never did; it's unclear whether enough people agree with me on how atrocious these are:

1. The Beach Boys, "Little Saint Nick"

2. Paul McCartney (not Stevie Wonder), "Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time"

3. John Lennon, "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)"
(am I the only person who wants to strangle the boys' choir en masse?)

On a similar note, Amish Tech Support has an interesting nominee for favorite Christmas song.

UPDATE: The list turns out to be 100% Beatles or Beach Boys. Call it "when good musicians go bad"?
Holiday Hits From Hell
I completely missed this on Friday; fortunately KFOG hadn't taken the playlist off their site yet:

(KFOG's 10@10 feature bills itself as "ten great songs from one great year" but among other special features, every Friday the 13th they have some sort of 'Hits From Hell' segment. Since they've had 10@10 for a long time, by now there have probably been about 30 instances of Friday the 13th. Obviously you can't just run the same "bottom ten" hits every time, so any given list might fail to impress a true music anti-snob. But it is what it is.)

12/13/02 -Friday the 13th....oh no, that means....HOLIDAY HITS FROM HELL!!
1. Singing Dogs - Jingle Bells
2. Barbara Streisand - Jingle Bells
3. Christmas Macarena
4. Madonna - Santa Baby
5. The Chipmunks - The Chipmunk Song
6. Bing Crosby & David Bowie - The Little Drummer Boy
7. Elmo & Patsy - Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer
8. Ray Stevens - Santa Claus is Watching You!
9. Cheech & Chong - Santa Claus & His Old Lady
10. Bobby Goldsboro - Snuffy's Goodbye Song

I knew the list would include #1, #5, and #7. In hindsight a Ray Stevens entry seems inevitable (ditto "Christmas Macarena," which I didn't know existed). I guess the Cheech & Chong number offended enough people that it's campy rather than classic, even though I kind of like it.

I'm shocked (given the KFOG demograhic) that a Streisand carol made the list; then again, at the 7/Eleven last night I heard her version of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and wanted to hide under the shelves until it went away.

Somebody's (mis)using "Santa Baby" in a commercial jingle; the Madonna version can't be too much worse.

If that's the version of "Little Drummer Boy" that I think it is, I'm shocked that it generated that much animosity/anti-fandom.
Oddly Enough!
Among other quirks of Opinion Journal's Best of the Web feature: A running feud with the Reuters news service and especially with its (mis)use of the category "Oddly Enough" for stories of evil/tragedy. (Look through any archived column for the subheading Not Too Brite.)

Opinion Journal managed to run this thing into the ground a long time ago but here I'll go on record:
1. You're definitely seeing a snide reference to this story on Opinion Journal tomorrow.

2. In this case I'm just as horrified as they: This is the sort of thing for which Pakistan's powers-that-be need to be seriously rearranged (take a number, I guess, in that never-never-land where we'd already straightened out Nigeria), not trivialized into the "Oddly Enough" pigeonhole.
Something about the logic of the Pete Rose situation that always bothered me...
The next-to-last paragraph here sets up the last paragraph quite nicely.
Erubiel arrives at the altar
What's more interesting about this story?

A. Baseball player traded on his wedding day, for a member of the wedding party?

B. Instant translation service makes a Spanish-language newspaper somewhat readable in English?

(via Baseball Primer)

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Brandi Chastain, call your office
Here's a uniquely American solution to a problem.

Incidentally, does any other military in the world have female soldiers? Any good one, that is. I don't care about those pathetic groups of European service-requirement conscripts just there marking time.

One of many things to love about this country is that we have female soldiers who kick ass. That's pretty rare in world history. Just think how great a force we'll have a generation from now, once we're all cool with gay soldiers. A generation's worth of technology will help quite a bit also.

As wary as I am of falling into a might makes right sort of jingoism, I do have to say that if you're right and you know it, you need not be ashamed of the might that you also have.

UPDATE: As mentioned on the comments, Israel of course has women serving, and the Israeli Defense Force is really potent. I feel silly forgetting this.
The Victoria's Secret...
of dog catalogs.

This is a rerun but it's still one of my all-time favorites.
All The News That's Fit To Print
Is this (third item, immediately below the ad) the best correction ever?

An article on Nov. 10 about animal rights referred erroneously to an island in the Indian Ocean and to events there involving goats and endangered giant sea sparrows that could possibly lead to the killing of goats by environmental groups. Wrightson Island does not exist; both the island and the events are hypothetical figments from a book (also mentioned in the article), ''Beginning Again,'' by David Ehrenfeld. No giant sea sparrow is known to be endangered by the eating habits of goats.

(via Virginia Postrel's husband)
NFC North side note
Green Bay was 1-0 today, the rest of the division 2-1 combined. The Packers now have 11 wins, versus 11 for the rest of the division combined.

I guess this note would have been more impressive a week ago, when it was a 10-9 advantage.
You already knew this but just to be thorough:

1. Philadelphia (check out that 10-0 conference record!)
2. Tampa Bay (head-to-head over Green Bay)
3. Green Bay
4. San Francisco
5. New Orleans
6. Atlanta

Atlanta at Green Bay
New Orleans at San Francisco

If I had a snowball's chance in hell of getting tickets, I'd root for Atlanta to pass New Orleans down the stretch just to see what Michael Vick does in the mud. As a TV viewer, Vick on the tundra is plenty compelling enough.

(Sorry Jon but unless the Eagles clinch the #1 next week, I just don't see Philadelphia letting down against your Giants, nor do I see either the Saints or Falcons going 0-2 against the cupcakes they face.)
Dogs of NFL Scheduling
Who decided to put the Cardinals on national TV consecutive weeks this team of year?

Meanwhile, as mentioned here a couple weeks ago, I go home a day too soon to be around for the Broncos-Raiders game. I'll probably still get to see it on TV, with the CBS doubleheader. But if I wanted to I could also watch Chicago at Carolina for the early game.

For those of you scoring at home, that's Arizona at Kansas City and Chicago at Carolina in about a three-week span. For future holidays I'll keep the NFL TV schedule in mind before making any plans.
(This is probably wrong; I expect someone to correct me if it is.)

Should the Patriots win tomorrow, Miami would own the #1 seed in the AFC, all on head-to-head tiebreaks, having beaten New England and both Indy and Oakland. On the other hand, should Tennessee win tomorrow, I believe Oakland gets the #1 seed.

(In the first case, breaking division ties first puts Miami over New England and sets up a Dolphins-Colts-Raiders tie, broken by head-to-head. In the second case, breaking division ties first sets up Dolphins-Titans-Raiders. There, both Oakland and Tennessee have a slightly better conference record then Miami; once the Dolphins drop out, the Raiders have that big 52-25 win going for them. Or just the 7-3 to 6-3 conference record advantage.)

Case 1: New England wins MNF
1. Miami (head-to-head over Oakland and Indy, explained above)
2. Oakland (conference record over Indy)
3. Indianapolis
4. Pittsburgh
5. New England
6. Tennessee (conference record over Denver, after Denver wins division tie with San Diego on better record in common games)

(Denver would win a consolation fruitcake over San Diego on common games)

Tennessee at Indianapolis (then Titans at Dolphins or Colts at Raiders)
New England at Pittsburgh (then at Miami or Oakland depending on how the other game goes)

Case 2: Tennessee wins MNF
1. Oakland (head-to-head over Tennessee after both teams exceed Miami on conference)
2. Tennessee (head-to-head over Indy, conference record over Miami)
3. Miami
4. Pittsburgh
5. Indianapolis
6. Denver (better record in common games than San Diego, then head-to-head over New England)

(San Diego would win a consolation fruitcake over New England on head-to-head)

Denver at Miami (then Broncos at Oakland or Dolphins at Tennessee)
Indianapolis at Pittsburgh
This is also a pretty good day for Red Sox fans
Little G will rake. He'll also get involved in at least one Lansdowne Street incident that makes your sports section really interesting for a few days.
"Total Information Awareness"
And I do mean total.
Fantasy Football Playoff Teams
Good luck to all of you. I have no idea who's winning any particular game.
More TV Sports Commentary
I voluntarily watched the end of the Cowboys-Giants game, which Fox showed apparently for lack of anything better to show. (Would it make sense there to cue up some video and do a tape-delay of the end of either Vikings-Saints or Seahawks-Falcons?) This wasn't actually the last late-game to end, since the Chiefs and Broncos were still going at it, but it was the last one to which Fox had rights. Until today I didn't realize how wrong the system was, but I'm not sure how to fix it.

Then again there can't be all that many people who feel that strongly about it, since most diehard fans would be at sports bars or other places with Sunday Ticket.

Then 4:30 PST rolled around. Sports media question: Why is NFL Primetime such a great show? At least in my opinion it is; your mileage may vary. I come closer to setting my schedule around NFL Primetime than I do around any actual game, other than maybe Bronco games. Today Stuart Scott subbed for Chris Berman. Interesting change of pace: Scott kept many of his own little mannerisms but was still pretty faithful to Berman's highlight-calling. He wasn't quite as in sync with Tom Jackson as Berman would be but I'm not convinced that Jackson adds a huge amount to the show.

Rather, what cinches it for me is excellent choice of highlights, or at the very least excellent quantity of highlights. Maybe Inside the NFL is just as good; I haven't seen it in awhile. (Last time I saw it was when Len Dawson co-hosted with Nick Buoniconti. I have no idea how good a TV presence Dan Marino has.)

Speaking of ex-jocks now working for television, which network will get Terrell Owens years from now when he loses a step or two? He seems like a natural for Fox, and yet Deion Sanders went to CBS. I'll call CBS here, where Owens steps into the Deion role when "prime time" burns out or falls out of favor.

Tonight on ESPN Classic: Breaking Away. I actually had a high school English teacher show us this movie in class. It's still unclear why: She wasn't at all a sports fan, nor did the movie tie in much with whatever unit we were on (either Advanced Composition or British Literature; I forget which semester it was). Maybe she just really liked the movie; can't blame her. Years later whenever I hear buon giorno, I think of snotty bicycle teams.

Bonus TV thought that I snuck in after originally posting this: Thom Brennaman did play-by-play today for ACC Sunday Night Hoops. That's on a day when Fox has a doubleheader's worth of NFL games. (Actually, now that the NFL has 32 teams, doesn't any non-bye, non-special weekend result in exactly seven game sites each for Fox and CBS? For the full slate of 16 games, it shouldn't be too hard to keep the ratio of AFC/NFC road teams in the 7/9-to-9/7 range, with ABC/ESPN getting whatever makes the numbers add up.) I find it hard to believe Fox has seven football play-by-play guys better than Brennaman, especially given the awful job done by whoever was calling it in New Orleans. (I will never again slag Pat Summerall.)

Parting TV-related thought: Why was Antonio Bryant celebrating his TD catch? The Cowboys still trailed by 30 points.

Parting non-TV related thought: My room has been overtaken by the scent of Nine Lives, as the canned food still sits in two distinct dishes, mostly uneaten. I saw Athena chow down on it when I first opened the can but her appetite wasn't huge. I've also seen Athena munch on the dry food. Given how much is left, I can't imagine Akasha has eaten much. She has, however, made at least three round trips between her hiding place in my closet and her hiding place under my bed -- always when I'm out of the room. The litter box has also been used.
This more than makes up for the insane football TV coverage.

Pending a quick check of my bank account ("How destitute am I?"), I think I'll call the A's ticket office tomorrow and roll over my playoff refund/credit into the same field box season tickets after all.

No player was just born to be the A's designated hitter the way Durazo was. In homage to this Baseball Prospectus meme, I feel an inappropriate Martin Luther King exploitation coming on:

Free at last! Free at last! Thank god almighty, Erubiel Durazo is free at last!

By the way, have you ever noticed how Billy Beane's best trades by far are the three- or four-team deals? It's as if he eavesdrops on other teams' trade talks and pulls off arbitrage.

UPDATE: The first poster to this thread came up with it independently of me. At least, I know I didn't rip him off and I'm too obscure (and the timestamps too close) for him to have ripped me off.
Thoughts from Flipping Through Channels
Yes, I'm being productive today. Lots of laundry to do. Still not keen on leaving the kitties by themselves, even though there are a couple of errands I may yet run today. Just now I left the room for a half-hour or so to give the fraidy-cat a chance to come out from hiding, maybe eat a bite and use the litter box. Now they're both out of sight, Akasha almost certainly under my bed, Athena at parts-unknown. She seems to have found a hiding place that I'm not smart enough to look. Earlier today, when I had to get myself and the basket of clothes out the door, Athena turned it into a game. Apparently she decided that if she can't leave, I can't leave either. That is, every time I got up close to the door, she was right there ready to make a break for it.

Anyhow, highlights from the TV... #1 Arizona is hosting #8 Texas in college basketball. I should find this interesting but I don't. At this point the only basketball games that interest me are single-elimination NCAA Tournament games.

Green Bay has scored a pair of touchdowns in the second half. I managed to catch them both with perfect timing. Some cheeseheads are at the 49ers' home stadium, wearing their rain gear.

Jack Kemp sighting, on ESPN Classic of all places. Early AFL game, with both quarterbacks (including Kemp) microphoned. Chargers vs. Texans.

Caught the end of a really eerie NewsRadio Christmas episode, the one where the nutcase in a Santa suit gives Phil Hartman a demo tape and also sabotages his brakes. Merry Christmas, Dead Man! Did I mention this was Phil Hartman? I'm still kind of spooked.

I could give you Jack Frost spoilers but what would be the point?

Finally, MTV has this show For The Troops. They tracked Kid Rock, a drop-dead gorgeous armed forces woman, and some dopey guy who turned out to be Carson Daly (sorry, I'd never put a name to a face before). Actually, everyone woman they showed was stunningly beautiful. Maybe I should have enlisted for that very reason. Or not.

Anyhow, Kid Rock gave a concert; it's unclear whether this was impromptu. He opened his set with a cover of "Sweet Home Alabama." Words can't describe him but then again, you've all seen Kid Rock; I don't really need to describe him. (Oddity: I actually know a woman who looks sort of like what Kid Rock would look like if he got rid of the facial hair and had a sex change.)

I do have to say I love the Kid Rock "If I Were President" song.
Here's something I never thought about before
On Sunday morning you can either go to church or watch the network TV interview shows. (Actually, are they tape-delayed on the west coast? If not then at least here one could do both. Then again, here church conflicts with the early NFL games.) My family actually did try to do both.
Who needs a dramatic finish when you can see all three hours of two teams fighting for seeding order?
Pox on Fox. Then again I didn't realize what was happening in Buffalo until just now.

Random football thoughts up to this point:
This local market gets both networks' "A" broadcast teams. Come to think of it, until that "bonus coverage" from Buffalo I had yet to see any portion of a CBS game called by any broadcast team other than Gumbel and Simms this year. That means they've called a lot of Raider road games.

The Raider-Dolphin game was reasonably exciting and reasonably fast-paced. I appreciate the outcome at least. Meanwhile, this one appears to have been a total dog. For those of us with no regional interest there, it's unclear how Fox chooses from that particular set of early games. They finally switched the SF market over to this one, which I managed to get hooked up right up to the point where:

With 40 seconds left, they switched the SF market over to the obligatory several minutes in a row of commercials before the opening kickoff.

Bastards! I nearly called up the local affiliate to complain before realizing:
1. This would have taken effort. (Looking up the phone number, for example.)
2. I allegedly don't care enough about the NFL to make a point of watching it; when I'm home on a Sunday afternoon, it's just there.
3. It's unclear how much control the local affiliate has.
4. I'm sure there really are diehard 49er fans who would rather see an opening kickoff than an exciting finish. A pox on them too.

But when I ran in here to type out my screed of complaint, the little TV (which I'd left on next to my bed) had Flutie attempting a game-winning rally in Buffalo. That almost makes up for the miscarriage of justice. Almost.

Near as I can figure, everyone around here (and probably everyone in Milwaukee, Dallas, and worst of all the biggest media market in the country) got pulled away from New Orleans just before a last-second touchdown and successful two-point conversion.

UPDATE: I did successfully hijack a thread, a Jeff Kent thread no less. (Posts #6 and #8 are me; #6 was inspired by #4.)