Saturday, January 11, 2003

Poetry Contest!
Doggerel begets doggerel.

(Looks like the contest is closed but the parodies are all significantly better than the thing satired.)
Poker Follies
I experienced a net gain of $6.65 tonight, or 133 units of poker chips if you prefer not to think of the money backing it.

In go pee (there's probably a fancy spelling, right? the lack of google hits is totally absurd -- it's pai gow but with all seven cards dealt face-down and revealed one at a time), if you had three pair with aces, queens, and a low pair, would you make your two-card hand the aces or the queens?

I put the aces in the two-hand (guaranteed win!) without even thinking. That cost me the other half of the pot, when Mike had kings and (something) and kept his two pair together. Paul pointed out the "psychic play" that would have won both ways.

Some interesting anaconda hands tonight (we play hi-low split, cards speak, no betting until the first revealed card), including one where I won both halves with two-pair, aces and jacks. I had the first ace, bet a red chip just to try to make something happen, and then watched everyone fold except the guy to my right, who (unfortunately for him!) had two pair kings and queens.

(Typical hi-lo anaconda hand is split between a reasonably good full house and either A-2-3-4-5 or occasionally a 6- or 7-high.)

In a subsequent anaconda hand, the same guy had jacks over aces but lost to a better full house than that. On the first revealed card he showed an ace, the guy with the better full house showed either a king or a queen, and I showed a five (part of a 4-5-6-7-8, going for desperation low or desperation straight if enough people folded either way). He opened the betting, I called, people folded or raised, he saw the raise. I almost folded but decided to see what his second card was.

Anaconda, the game where you can go from thinking you ought to fold to knowing that half the pot is yours (and that the two players vying for the other half of the pot are in a bidding war!).

Friday, January 10, 2003

Other upcoming travel
These are all tentative except the NAQT events. Everyone should use his weblog in place of a good calendar/day-planner/handheld. Or not.

1. Los Angeles, weekend of January 18, chess tournament:
I can drive to this and stay in some cheap motel if needed. The more I fence-sit on this (and the less time I spend online getting back into good chessplaying form), the less likely it becomes. Still, I want to do this. Could combine this with a game-show tour somehow if I finally get off my butt and look into the various tryouts.

2. Las Vegas, weekend of TBA, gaming:
Supposedly I won a comp room at the Hilton. Not sure if they have particular day-restrictions for this. Surprisingly there's no chess tournament coming up that I want to go to, so this would be mostly sightseeing and gaming. I feel as though I should bring a friend along instead of going alone. There's always the idea of Valentine's Day in Las Vegas but that seems really far-fetched. Without following up on it yet, I imagine Valentine's weekend is a comp blackout.

3. Arizona, sometime in March, spring training:
This would be a car trip. I've never been to spring training...

4. Los Angeles, weekend of April 5, quiz tournament (moderating):

5. Myrtle Beach, weekend of June 1, quiz tournament (moderating):
Southwest does not serve Myrtle Beach. I could check other airlines but there's no urgency yet.

6. Las Vegas, weekend of July 12, quiz tournament (role TBA):
Southwest isn't taking July reservations yet. By the way, anyone want to be on a team with me?
Travel Update
For what it's worth I just made three plane reservations in a row, all on Southwest. If I understand correctly these (plus my Christmas flights) will yield a free round trip from the Rapid Rewards program. (That trip is earmarked for my sister.)

1. Boston, weekend of April 12, quiz tournament (moderating):
Wednesday, April 09 - OAKLAND CA(OAK) to PHOENIX AZ(PHX)
Flight 1405 M
Depart OAKLAND CA(OAK) at 12:45PM and
Arrive in PHOENIX AZ(PHX) at 02:35PM

Wednesday, April 09 - PHOENIX AZ(PHX) to PROVIDENCE RI(PVD)
Flight 2916 M
Depart PHOENIX AZ(PHX) at 03:20PM and
Arrive in PROVIDENCE RI(PVD) at 11:00PM

Flight 1408 M
Depart PROVIDENCE RI(PVD) at 07:30AM and
Arrive in PHOENIX AZ(PHX) at 10:30AM

Tuesday, April 15 - PHOENIX AZ(PHX) to OAKLAND CA(OAK)
Flight 957 M
Depart PHOENIX AZ(PHX) at 11:30AM and
Arrive in OAKLAND CA(OAK) at 02:10PM

I plan to rent a car for this but to crash with friends as much as you'll let me. Note the odd days of travel: On Southwest it's cheaper to fly Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Also this will leave more time to visit a variety of people if they'd like to see me.

2. Kansas City, weekend of April 26 (wedding)
Flight 1020 M
Depart OAKLAND CA(OAK) at 04:30PM and
Arrive in KANSAS CITY INTL(MCI) at 11:15PM

Flight 99 M
Depart KANSAS CITY INTL(MCI) at 08:40PM and
Arrive in OAKLAND CA(OAK) at 10:35PM

Transportation and lodging TBA. I assume I'll need a car and a room but won't book it until I talk to the groom. I'm wary of the late Thursday arrival in case things are happening earlier that evening. (Are bachelor parties typically the night before the wedding or the night before the rehearsal?)

3. Portland, weekend of May 17 (visiting a friend)
Thursday, May 15 - OAKLAND CA(OAK) to PORTLAND OR(PDX)
Flight 827 M
Depart OAKLAND CA(OAK) at 05:15PM and
Arrive in PORTLAND OR(PDX) at 06:45PM

Flight 2645 M
Depart PORTLAND OR(PDX) at 10:55AM and
Arrive in OAKLAND CA(OAK) at 12:35PM

Shouldn't need a car or hotel for this.
Spoiled Brats
I know The Customer is Always Right but how much you wanna bet these two kids grow up to be (or already are) two of the biggest pricks on the planet?

They already had to have pretty good connections to be sitting in as good seats as they had, so you can imagine them being a bit spoiled to begin with. Then, this thing happens -- ooh, they got hit with ice water, tough life, huh? and next thing they know there's a whole football team groveling at them and there they are loving every moment.

As much as I loathe Shockeymania (read the tenth paragraph, right before he gets to his picks), this time he's not the deplorable one.
TV: Who's more attractive?
Nobody ever asked me but I'm all about Jo, Bailey, and Maryanne, not their fake plastic counterparts.

Anyway, go read this best thread ever. There's almost enough there to make you forget it's a baseball discussion site.
The right thing to do?
Probably not.

But it's the tasty way to do it!
Don't read this unless you can handle something gut-wrenching
This is, I think, the sickest news story I've ever heard about. Looks like it was too nasty for Obscure Store to go anywhere near it.

I can't add anything that the paragraphs at the bottom of the post already mentioned.
192 songs
Don't forget to vote in Craig's 192-song throwdown.

I really like Jon's title for it even if he's being lame about the voting thing.

My comment about "The Distance" vs. "Mr. Jones" and Cooch's about Blur vs. The Spin Doctors were probably both a little over the deep end but that's still part of why this sort of thing is fun. It's almost but not quite like being a sports junkie and being pissed off when your favorite team loses stupidly.
One of these two men is a no-talent publicity whore
Depending on your tastes in rap, maybe you think both of them are. Still, don't spend too long thinking about which one is more desperate for press. (Or which one is the racist prick.)

(Random journalism rule of thumb: The more adjectives modify your name on first mention, the more obscure you are.)

Actually, the most interesting part of the story is that this is the same guy whose flunkies tried to kill Paul Pierce. If this were a real police state, for that alone he'd be locked up and the key thrown away.
Allyson helps to validate Chris's puzzle solving skills
(Two days old but I forgot to blog it at the time...)
If you've seen the latest Sprint PCS commercial then you know the difference between dachsunds and oxen.

I haven't seen this commercial yet but Allyson has. Chris also has, only with the sound muted. He didn't get the wordplay right away but his best guess actually was "dachsunds" and "oxen". He was very happy to hear me (with second-hand knowledge) confirm it.
Two of the many Matt's
There's enough physical resemblance that this popped into my head but not nearly enough to explain or defend it:

Matt L., currently on Berkeley's quiz team, always makes me think of Matt H-N, on Boston University's late-1990s quiz teams.

They don't do nearly the same course work (radio broadcasting vs. English) and their personalities aren't quite the same but it's the name, the eyewear, and maybe the hair shade.

BU's Allyson also has sort of a bizarro-world analog at Berkeley but at this point the comparison breaks down almost immediately.
Programming Note
Blogging will be fairly light between now and Monday. (Like when I was in Chicago but perhaps with less football.)

Saturday there's an all-day party (part football, part birthday). Friday and Sunday I should really get things done. Write questions, say.

When I post too much but then disappear for a day or so, excellent comment threads result. Maybe you can scroll down, go back and read the thing you meant to read but didn't have the time. Then talk back.

Paradox: I've known people who didn't have blogs but who did read mine and had interesting things to say. I've considered inviting them to be co-authors but to do that, currently they'd have to sign up with Blogger (takes two minutes). Then once they did that it would be trivial for them to start their own weblog anyway.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Paul might be about to make his first post of 2003
It's still not up but as of an hour ago he had it on his to-do list, as well as many potential topics.

Perhaps I will coax him more.
1971 was a really f*cked-up year
I won't necessarily say that it was a bad year or that the music was terrible, the way it was in 1977 or 1978. Rather, it all just weirds me out. Think of Kyle or Stanley saying, "Dude, this gets pretty f*cked-up around here."

The timing of my trips to and from Berkeley led me to hear all of Thursdays' 10@10 set on the way there and most of it on the way back. Anyone who actually lived through 1971 yourself, I might want you to explain some things to me.

Maybe I don't need explanation so much as reassurance. I know exactly what message it was trying to get across but hearing about this TV special creeped me out almost as much as hearing the Jesus Christ Superstar medley.

The news bumpers for this 1971 retrospective centered on our negotiations over Vietnam and the Republic of China (aka Taiwan) getting borked out of the U.N.

According to the promo I heard, Friday brings a happier note, when 1994 makes what seems to be its 10@10 debut. (Previously the most recent year I'd heard was 1993, and even that made its maiden 10@10 voyage almost exactly a year ago.) Listen live if you happen to be on-line at 10 a.m. PST or 10 p.m. PST. (That's 1 p.m. EST or 1 a.m. EST.)
How busy executives check their e-mail
Gone all day. Meanwhile I got a couple dozen messages, most of them in the same discussion thread.

For that thread and for individual messages, I sent people one- and two-line responses, terse but contentful. This made me feel extremely efficient and extremely powerful, especially to digest a day's e-mail in about ten minutes.

(I imagine it's the same process a top executive might go through every couple hours.)
My current favorite charity
I don't think I can spare the money myself this month but read this over and strongly consider giving yourself.

> Date: Thu, 09 Jan 2003 16:26:35 +0200
> From: Shimon Aharon
> Subject: PizzaIDF: Fruit for our soldiers for Tu b'Shvat -- New Year for Trees
> Shalom from Jerusalem,
> For most of the last, very difficult year here in Israel, PizzaIDF has
> been delivering Pizza, Burgers, Ice Cream and Hot Soup on behalf of many
> people like you, from around the world, to the wonderful soldiers of the
> I.D.F. These packages have been accompanied by your very special
> messages of gratitude and support. You can read messages from people of
> all backgrounds at .
> To coincide with the Jewish festivals, we have also sent special
> packages for each occasion -- honey & chocolates for Rosh haShana,
> Mishloach Manot for Purim and most recently, donuts (sufganiot) for
> Channuka. See some of the latest pictures at
> Now for Tu b'Shvat, the New Year for Trees, we are giving you the
> opportunity to send traditional packages of dried fruit to our soldiers,
> to help them also celebrate the festival and to let them know that
> people everywhere are with them in these uncertain times.
> In addition to boosting our soldiers' morale, your gifts are helping
> many Israeli businesses, especially in the food industry, hit hard by
> the absence of tourists and by the current economic slump. These include
> ten pizzerias, burger restaurants and bakeries in different parts of the
> country.
> To order and for more information, please visit our site
> .
> We wish to thank you once again for your continuing support.
> Happy Tu b'Shvat from Yerushalayim,
> Shimon
More radio personality geekery
The story mentioned below, as described in a gossip column. Choice quote:

"Clear Channel local manager Ed Krampf, who manages KSJO, says the station will try several personalities, possibly even former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar, before making a decision on a new host."

I can't decide whether that would motivate me to wake up earlier or sleep in. Then again, the reception problems make it moot. I keep living places where my favorite radio station is hard to pick up because it's technically one market over. San Jose... Worcester... if it ain't one thing it's another.

Bonus google-age: Lamont's real name is Tod Fryfogle. As much of a lack of a life as these last two posts reflect, it could be much, much worse:

Stop and ponder the idea that there are people sitting around listening for objectionable stuff so that they can go complain to the FCC.
None of you live here, and the ones who live here don't listen to enough radio to understand why I almost choked on my food just now
The most heinous morning team in San Francisco is switching stations, from "The Rock" to "Classic Rock That Really Rocks."

They never ripped each other or had the kind of DJ's who talk about the competition but these stations always seemed like archrivals to me. (The latter is owned by Susquehanna, the former by ClearChannel.)

So Lamont and Tonelli (in the house ad, KSAN's program director sounded ridiculous overpronouncing the consonants in their names) jump ship. (...and Sully too..." -- the news scroll on the Bone web page reassures).

Less than a year ago the guy known as No Name went from an afternoon gig here to co-hosting the morning show here. It's like seeing an old Red Sox utility infielder on the Yankees, or Tom Goodwin moving up I-5.

Since that promo five minutes ago (I need time to think and eat and type), The Bone has played:
Triumph, "Lay it On The Line"
Fleetwood Mac (pre-Stevie Nix), "Oh Well"

By their song choice it's as if they're telling me not to let the door hit my ass on the way out. Except that I can't get good enough KSJO reception from this room. Argh. Moral: Drive more. Or find a better place to live.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Maryland politics
I don't think any native Marylanders read this blog but The Answer Guy counts for greater Beltway purposes.

Granting that it's an opinion piece, and so no-holds-barred in its hatchetwork, this is a pretty damning profile of one Parris Glendenning. I hadn't known much about him other than his tossing way way too much taxpayer money on Art [expletive deleted] Modell. I did know that his Lieutenant Governor was not only a Kennedy but also a blithering idiot.

There's actually a coincidental correlation between Maryland natives I know and non-reading of weblogs (or scorn at the concept of personal blogs). Willy, for one, I think reads only InstaPundit. I thought of him today and the phrase Shall I loofah your back? popped into my head, even though I don't think I've spoken to him since McCain hosted SNL.
Product Placement
Woody style.
I should probably be calmer about this than I was
Oddity to Craig's 192-song tournament. The WORST MODERN ROCK SONG EVER gets paired against Cake.

I will not argue about this.
Greedy Bastards
PR-impaired greedy bastards.

From Mickey Kaus:
Is this really the way the Republicans want to start off their period of Congressional control? It could be a short run. ... Prediction: This is an irresistible slam dunk for the press. Steaks for tax breaks! There will be embarrassing stories and the rule will be repealed by the weekend.
Rich Gannon: Football Stathead Poster Child
Going along with the post below, I'd never thought about it this way but it's oddly appropriate that such a great-quarterback-on-paper plays his home games in the same stadium as Billy Beane's Oakland A's.

Gannon put together a very strong 2002 season, especially in terms of completion percentage, yards thrown, first downs, and lack of turnovers. You can argue that his receiving corps deserves major credit for this (again, the problem of how to divide credit for a pass outcome between a quarterback and his intended receiver). You can argue that most of the completed passes were short passes, almost gimmes--to which the two responses are, first, that this strategy worked out really well (check out the yards per attempt, then bow down to the Raiders' coaching staff for designing this offense), and second, that with enough attempts you'd expect anyone still to screw up now and then; Gannon really never did. (If the refs hadn't screwed up in that Monday night game in Denver, incorrectly ruling a receiver out of bounds, Gannon would have a consecutive-completions streak that might be unbreakable.) You can argue that the complete lack of pressure on him made him a better quarterback, the way it made Dan Marino a better quarterback. Credit the offensive line for that but at least remember to credit somebody.

Incidentally, the Quarterback Rating stat claims that Chad Pennington had a mind-bogglingly good season from the point he took over as Jets quarterback. Anyone who saw enough of those games want to support or question that assertion? (If his QR is misleading, then in what ways is it misleading other than sample size?)
Michael Vick, Football Stathead Nightmare
(Even if he goes by Mike, I can't call him Mike Vick any more than I could call the basketball player "Mike Jordan.")

People who know more about football than I do, help me here:

Al Michaels and John Madden were talking about Vick's performance, filling time at the end of the Atlanta-Green Bay playoff game. They were impressed with Vick but the graphic of his game stats had some quite unimpressive numbers. Madden referred to Vick, or maybe this particular game, as someone for whom you "throw the stats out the window." Ralph Wiley expresses similar sentiments here.

We have a disconnect here: Madden thinks Vick had a phenomenal game, as do most of the people who watched the game (though many of them probably just think it because Madden says so or because a team's star gets credit for the team's good performance). The box score appears to show that Vick had a barely adequate game. If you go by passing yards, completion percentage, or quarterback rating, Vick's performance was subpar. His scrambing/running defines his game but even his rushing wasn't especially memorable on paper: McNabb, McNair, and Culpepper routinely have better rushing numbers.

(Even Atlanta's team offensive stats look paltry compared to any of the four sets of team offensive stats from those wild Sunday games.)

Either Madden and Wiley are wrong about the singularity of Vick's performance, or the stats traditionally used to evaluate a quarterback are flawed.

(I won't settle for this idea that there are some games or some players for whom you throw otherwise-definitive stats out the window. If the stats don't appropriately measure those players then the stats are flawed, period, without some way of accounting for what makes those specific players or games special other than just stating by fiat that "Michael Vick is different from the rest" or whatever.)

On paper it looks as though the five turnovers and the blocked punt made the entire difference in this game. So I'll readily admit that on paper you don't get to see Vick stiffarm a lineman or Packer defensive players stay back on their heels. Likewise, on paper the interceptions make Favre look like a crappy quarterback rather than someone whose receivers were too wussy to run out their routes and possibly take bone-crushing hits. That second part is a shortcoming of the particular stats we keep that it's not obvious how to fix. The first part... football experts tell me how special he is, and he reinforces that impression by making highlight reel players. On the other hand, Derek Jeter makes higlight reel plays too, yet by nearly any reliable bean-counting, he's one of the worst defensive shortstops in baseball.

This sounds as though I'm trying to say Vick is a terrible quarterback. I'm not. Rather, there's a huge disconnect between what the numbers tell you about him and what the scouts tell you about him. The truth is probably in the middle and I'm curious about how to get there, what measurements (if any) would better account for what Vick brings to the game. After all, stats are just a way of doing accounting, sort of like the minutes of a meeting, valuable exactly to the extent that they accurately reflect what really happened at the meeting.
Channeling My Inner Korean
(Note to any total strangers: I'm actually very white but living in SF has very sharply defined my food tastes...)

I thought I wanted noodles for lunch.

Chris told me while we waited for the realtors that he had two Le Videos to return and was thinking of getting some food there (the vicinity of 9th and Irving). I agreed to tag along. We went to one of the Japanese places on 9th street, across the street from Ebisu; I've already blanked on the name.

There seem to be two kinds of udon, the kind that comes on a plate and the kind that comes in a soup bowl. I have the worst luck at thinking I can acquire the former but ending up with the latter. (The latter always has much sexier ingredients, in particular the chicken-and-seafood combo aspect of it.) Invariably it comes out in a bowl so hot that steam rises up and blinds me for minutes on end.

Whoever came up with the non-sushi portion of Japanese food is insane. When you think of hot food, don't you naturally think of tasty spices rather than having your tongue scalded by flavorless boiling water? Is there anything blander than boiling water? When you eat really good food, it's the flavor that should make your eye bulge, not the temperature.

I like my tongue. I wouldn't have minded enjoying dinner with it.
Heaven help me, I just used Outlook Express on this machine
(Warning: Inane.)

From a random point in the afternoon of Monday, December 23, until this afternoon, I was unable to read mail sent to my Vectiv account.

From that same random point until about a week ago, I was unable to read mail sent to my Silicon Age account. (Months ago I'd set up my Silicon Age account to forward to Vectiv, and more recently I'd been in turn grabbing all by POP3 from Yahoo! After I'd set the forward up, the hosting of Silicon Age mail changed to the point where I could no longer connect to a server myself; instead, I was able to get Silicon Age mail to forward directly to Yahoo!, but this wouldn't help me get any messages sent in the week-and-a-half between.)

The old Vectiv UNIX sysadmin (maybe I should say erstwhile; he's a disarming number of years younger than me) helped unexpire my password; yesterday I successfully logged into a windows machine in the old Vectiv office, yet Yahoo! still didn't seem to want to play nice.

Today I still couldn't get Yahoo! to work but did manage to pull down all my messages from Outlook Express. The problem seems to have been confusion of which of passwords I'd used, even though I thought the one that wasn't working for me was the same one that had successfully gotten me onto the machine at the office. Who knows what sort of brian fart happened in between.

From early November (the last time I used Outlook -- not Outlook Express but the "real thing -- in the office) until just now, minus the Silicon Age mail that went directly to Yahoo!, I got about 660 messages sent to either Vectiv or Silicon Age. About 50 of those were ones I hadn't already seen.

Of those 50 most were either spam or admin messages no longer relevant to me. The full set of mail I legitimately "missed":
*- Two messages from Corwyn, one from nine days ago and the other last night, pointing out bad logic in sports columns or political hypocrisy.

*- Two poker invitations, one for last Friday that I could have gone to (but wouldn't have been able to call my parents!); one for today that I'd still have time to say yes to but I'm busy anyway.

*- Two more responses in an internal NAQT "difficulty check" discussion thread.

*- A "Happy New Year!" message sent by R. to all NAQT writers.

Really that's about it. (I'd been paranoid about either NAQT emergencies or job opportunities.)

In any case, on the off chance that you have my Vectiv address in a contact list somewhere, change that to my Yahoo! one. (Maybe I should just tell everyone to use mlbruce at post dot Harvard dot edu and then configure that to forward; but I can never remember the exact URL for when I need to reconfigure. I'm pretty sure mail sent there ends up in my Yahoo! box one way or another.)
Through the magic of transcripts...
I can now actually give my favorite fake Bush quote correctly (or at least as correctly as whoever transcribed it):

It's a complex world? Try telling that to those boys and girls out on the South Lawn playing Little League baseball. They don't think it's a complex world. And this may come as a surprise to you all, but I also don't think it's a complex world.

This may come as a surprise to you all, but I also don't think it's a complex world*. Well, yeah, it is up to a point. Still, there's truth in satire. This fake-close sentiment is closer to correct than people seem to want to think.

*- This is where one of my liberal friends quotes the eyes-rolling Dick Cheney response, Sir, I'm not surprised by that at all.
The two funniest titles on Scott's book shelf
Honorable mention: Sexing the Cherry, Winterson
First Prize: Swinburne, Is There A God? [USED]

It's the juxtaposition of the "God" and the "USED" that gets me.

On the kitchen shelf he has two new cookbooks, both with author photos prominently displayed. Rachael Ray is prettier than Sara Moulton.
Is it already that time of year?
See on the top sheet of paper on a notepad lying on my floor, the handiwork from what I'd done on the plane from Oakland to Chicago:
$30 +
Abreu, Bobby OF
Anderson, Garret OF
The realtor people
Our landlady is attempting either to rent or to sell this place. (I think she'd prefer to sell and let the new owner decide what to do about rentals.) All sorts of open houses will take place this month. The first such intrusion was to be today at some point between 10 and 11 a.m. consisting of 40 (how can that possibly not be a typo?) realtors but lasting allegedly no more than ten minutes.

We got the call at 10:45 that they wouldn't be here until at least 11:30. I'm about to fail in my mission of being out of the house by then but at least I'll succeed at being dressed and decent. (Had they come in the 10:00 hour there's no way I could have left the house but I would have been dressed in what one wears to be polite when one wakes up at 9:45.)

Chris and I have sharply different approaches to this unsolicited company. (Scott is out of the country on business this week.) He did some very conscientous cleaning up last night, almost fretting about how we'd look to the people who came, as if they were there to judge us rather than the property. At his urging I swept the stray kitty litter off my bathroom floor. (When cats get into the pawing, some litter escapes over the size. Most of it landed on my paper towels but not all. Obviously none of the feline waste escaped the box or I'd have scooped it.) Other than that, my room is pretty much lived-in and forgive me for lacking a compulsion to fix it.

(Perhaps if one of the realtors wanted to volunteer his or her time to find me a new place, I'd be more charitable about my time.)
My gaffe of the evening
Around 7 p.m. I got an e-mail asking whose turn it was to call (resuming a years-old tradition from its holiday hiatus). I wrote back that it was mine. This may not even be true but as best I could recall it was. Okay, mental note, at 9:30 I should find a phone and dial it.

Around 8 I found a book. Around 8:45 I became gradually unaware of time. Around 11:15 I suddenly became aware of time again.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

CD Price Fixing Settlement
Did you buy any CD's between January 1, 1995, and December 22, 2000?

If so, click here and file your settlement claim.

Either we'll all get somewhere between $5 and $20 out of this, or (far more likely) enough people will file claims to drive the per-person settlement below $5. At that point cutting the checks would be too much overhead and they'd just give the money to a few very lucky nonprofit corporations.

(Which would lead to much whoring. Ooh! Pick me! Pick me! Did I mention how deeply overrated I think most nonprofits are?)
Then they came for the drunks, but I didn't say anything, because I was sober...
As civil liberties go, this is easily the creepiest story I've read this year.

What to do about it? Apparently, at the state level, you should vote for whichever party is not effectively in control of Fairfax County, Virginia. (I have a sinking feeling about which party runs things, both because of how Virginia trends statewide and because I don't think the Democrats would be stupid enough to try something like this.)
Know why the Jets won and Giants lost?
Two football teams have the City of New York in their names. (Lame trivia question that you've heard many times before: Name the only NFL team that plays its games in the state of New York. Now that Tuesday Morning Quarterback refers to Jersey/A and Jersey/B, carping about where the Giants and Jets are located is officially run into the ground.)

In any case, both those teams are in the country's largest media market. One of them has some marquis names: Strahan. Sehorn. Shockey. The first two are deeply, painfully, outrageously overrated. The latter is trying so hard to cultivate a bad boy image, and yet the trying so hard and image part are just transparent. In short, it's a team of pretty-boys.

QUICK: Name a household name from the Jets. Who would it be? Curtis and Vinny had their first-name-basis phase a couple years ago but Testaverde is out of the picture and Martin seems to have become obscure with age and injury. Wayne Chrebet was a nice story for awhile--still is a nice story, the not quite as athletic guy who works harder. (Or if you insist, the white guy who works harder, but Chrebet doesn't benefit from his race nearly as much as Sehorn.) He's a lunchpail guy though, not a stereotypical New York larger-than-life megastar.

Maybe by next year Chad Pennington will have the cult of personality he deserves but admit it: As of the start of the season, nobody who wasn't already a football fan knew who he was. Either you remembered him from Marshall, or you were friends with a Jet fan who bitched and moaned about the team letting Testaverde stink it up again instead of finally giving him a chance.

In a bizarro world controlled by random things that make me happy, the biggest celebrity on the Jets is Kevin Mawae, for being a great blocker with a cool name.
The godmother of all (war)bloggers: Virginia Postrel
Right now, the king of current-event blogging is Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit. Some people refer to him as the BlogDaddy, and his "children" are the weblogs started by people who were inspired by him, and/or who promote themselves by sending him e-mail every time they post.

(I've never liked this self-promotion thing. Maybe I'd have a ton more readers if I spammed the quasi-famous. Mostly I'd probably just annoy them--both the quasi-famous and the new readers. Or should I market this thing more if I'm going to post so much to it?)

Anyhow, as he mentions in this Chicago Tribune article (registration required; Bud Selig has you covered though), when he first got started he e-mailed journalists to let them know what he was doing.

One of them was Virginia Postrel, who mentioned him a time or two (marveling at how quickly he could post things). That's how I found out he existed. At some point I went from reading her and sometimes following her links to him, to reading him directly. This is probably about when she started going weeks on end without new posts.

Obviously, the real ur-descendant of weblogging is some computer geek (or a handful of them). There's probably great consternation about weblogs taking on this political context. Or not.

Maybe Mickey Kaus mentioned Reynolds a time or two. Along with Postrel he was one of the first famous people to keep a weblog.
Speaking of charity economics
Somebody informed enough to have insight, give me a yea or nay on the United Way. I'm appalled at how much of their intake goes to overhead (as opposed to actual charity work); then again, I suppose you could argue that one must spend money to make money. Maybe part of that overhead goes to things (like the NFL marketing campaign) that result in a net increase of intake.

Then again I'm appalled at how they've sunk their tentacles into various large businesses. (In fairness I've never actually worked for a company that had a strong United Way presence.) I just get a vibe that it's not the best destination for one's money; this is probably a premature judgment.

(This is probably all moot, since I'm currently in an inconvenient giving state and even were that not the case, I'd give higher priority to the ASPCA and other groups that work with animals or abused kids.)
Put a nickel in the drum, save another drunken bum
Asparagirl is mad that she got junk mail from the Salvation Army, mad that they openly discriminate against gays.

They were already on my do not give list for refusing to accept a contribution from the guy who won the big lottery payoff--something about their being opposed to lotteries on principle. That's their prerogative but if they don't want his money then they don't need mine either.

I wonder if anyone's ever picked a fight (political argument that is) with one of those street-corner Santas.
Guess I won't be awake in time to see Katy shill for Joe Millionaire
She'll still have by far the best post-show career of any of the contestants, just as Colleen had the best career of the original Survivors. That is, if starring in this movie constitutes a career.

(We learn near the end of the movie that her character has six nipples.)
A mental image that will leave you unaroused for weeks on end
Now that everybody's favorite fat, bitchy, filmmaking fraud is back in the news, take some time out to imagine Moore-Coulter fanfic.

Or Moore-Limbaugh if you swing that way.
No wonder the Eminem lyrics were so confusing...
It's come to my attention that there exists an actor named Mekhi Phifer (and that he was even in 8 Mile) and that this isn't just a random nickname for Michelle Pfeiffer.

Meki is younger than me (not by much); Michelle turns 45 in three months.
Another "kill the lawyers" situation...
I still don't trust World Net Daily as a news source (they misreported a Dutch ban on kosher slaughter that turned out to be false) but here's what they're reporting on detention as a violation of the EU's human rights convention.

Monday, January 06, 2003

On being incredibly square
I'm not so sure I agree with the sentiment here but it's a stunning piece of writing:
"In the course of a wonderful diatribe, [Mark] Steyn went out on a limb and said that Perry Como has made better records in the past 20 years than the Rolling Stones. Now, anyone can go out and say that Frank Sinatra has made better records in the past 20 years than the Rolling Stones - in part because it's true - but it seems to me that making the same bold claim for Perry Como expresses something at the very heart of true conservatism. Real conservatives don't like groups called Smashing Pumpkins. Real conservatives don't wear leopard-skin skirts. Real conservatives tell the public that they should be buying more Perry Como records."
--Joe Queenan, as repeated by Steyn

Steyn also says: What was it that made Tony Blair's embrace of Cool Britannia so risible? It's the fact that he himself is such an obvious nerd: it was like Sir Cliff doing gangsta rap.
How many Cliffie girls does it take to change a light bulb?
Evan (the "Joe" in Joe Millionaire) is for the most part a great guy but it kept jarring me that he kept referring to "girls" instead of "women" -- I thought by now people just naturally said "women." Maybe it's just me and the other people who went to college around when I did.

(The riddle answer of course is, "They're not girls, they're women, and that's not funny!")

Meanwhile, googling actually turned up a picture of Katy. Nice floral print, excellent eyes. Not sure why I thought she had dimples though.
Best radio prank ever
(She didn't even make it out of the first round. Duh--that's how she could be interviewed by now.)

Through the magic of a local TV promo I can now put a name to the face for the Joe Millionaire woman I found significantly more attractive than the rest. She is Katy, and she's from around here, and she'll be interviewed on the local Fox morning show tomorrow. We'll see if I can get up in time for it.

(Alas, so far Katy has yet to be depicted in the pilot episode. I kept looking for her, not finding her, wondering if my eyes had deceived me, and then when it was her on the promo, all was well again.)

"If your dress looks like a nightgown, put the nightgown on and wear it like you own it. Just work it!"

Now I'm clearly rooting for Katy, though I can also see why Matt is behind Zora. I'll claim Zora as a reasonable second choice. I'm terrible at predicting winners for this kind of thing, which is almost a jinx on poor, well-adjusted, non-bitchy, resourceful Katy.

I actually do know someone who's offended by this show, since how dare it depict women (and of course only women) as manipulative bitches: Just not a healthy message to send society and so and so forth. One of the biggest lies-by-omission I've (not) told lately was when I failed to fail to have any sympathy for her. "Cry me a river," I forced myself not to say.
Why I don't subscribe to the San Francisco Chronicle
1. Inertia, to be honest
2. I don't appreciate being telemarketed to
3. It's a left-wing rag with shamefully low standards of journalism
4. Telemarketers
5. I get quite enough news for free on-line
6. The damn telemarketers
7. Paper would just pile up
8. Did I mention the telemarketers?

When people cold-call me, should I just be honest and give them one or more of the reasons above? So far I haven't.
First attempt: I pointed out that calling with five minutes left in the fourth quarter of the Fiesta Bowl was terrible timing to put it mildly, and hung up on him.
Second attempt: When I asked if I were the head of househould, I lied and said the head of household is on vacation until next week.

(That's not totally false: Scott is in Germany for a week. Actually for accounting purposes I think of Chris as the head of household but I doubt he'd appreciate it if I identified him as such and actively redirected telemarketers to him.)
This is why I'm glad I remembered to keep my phone on:
Breaking news... the word BLOG is not (yet) an acceptable Scrabble word.
More news to make you really worry about the world
(Apologies for being such a downer today...)

Where have you gone, Rudy Giuliani? Five boroughs turn their lonely eyes to you.

Meanwhile, another bombing, another set of righteous anger.
The second half (of that article linked below) mentions a really sickening corruption scandal.

If I were benevolent dictator of the afterlife, then the next-to-deepest circle of hell would be reserved for crony capitalists, for giving the free market a bad name and impoverishing entire countries. (The lowest circle, of course, would go to child rapists and the like.)
The plight of the Palestinians, in perspective
Until reading this article I'd never contemplated the sheer scope of some of the world's deadliest (yet most unknown) conflicts:

It is helpful to remember that all of the dead in the Arab-Israeli wars of the past half century amount to only a tiny fraction of the million killed during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, the 100,000 killed in Algeria's civil war since 1992, or the 100,000 killed in Lebanon's civil war from 1975 to 1990.

That's just a mindboggling order of magnitude of lost lives.

Of course in its own way, the Palestian part of the Israeli situation is tragic, just considering how people let themselves be used. (The link has a lot of speculation about why "supporting the Palestinians" is fashionable for different people for different reasons. I can't sell that part on you -- it's all so speculative -- but the facts and figures alone are really interesting, if true.)

Something else I didn't realize:
More than 1.1 million Palestinians are jammed into 59 refugee camps whose support comes mainly from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and other international bodies. As former U.S. ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsberg points out, all the Arab states combined donate less than $7 million to UNRWA, just 2.4 percent of its $290 million budget. (Kuwait, Egypt, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates collectively contribute a grand total of zero.) By contrast, the Great Satan forks over $110 million, or 38 percent of UNRWA's budget. The Arabs prefer to spend their money to support Palestinian suicide bombers. Saddam Hussein alone has paid an estimated $20 million over the past two years to "martyrs'" families. The Saudis held a telethon to raise millions more.

It seems to me that there are some regimes out there with a staggering disregard for human life, yet also a vastly overestimated military strength. At the risk of sounding imperialistic, I honestly think each of those countries would be better off in the long run even if (especially if!) the U.S. completely dropped the diplomatic pretenses and just went in there and cleaned the places up.

(Nota bene: This is NOT an attack on the people who live there, their religion, or anything like that. They've just had the profound misfortune of living in a part of the world run mostly by tyrannical lunatics.)
My new political catchphrase...
(The bumper sticker part is highlighted in brown but the whole phrase is worth quoting.)

I'm a conservative in politics so I might be a radical in every other human activity. The point is: what is appropriate for presiding over a republic of laws? Modesty, simplicity, prudence. Anything more "interesting" can screw things up badly.
--Andrew Sullivan, reviewing this thought-provoking Peggy Noonan column.

Once again I'm reminded of a show-intro sketch I saw on one of those Saturday Night Live episodes in the Christmas marathon. Bush (the younger) is speaking to Condi Rice and Dick Cheney and says something like: You tell me that the world is a very complicated place, but right now there are kids playing baseball on the South Lawn who don't think the world is a complicated place at all. And you know what? I agree with them.

It's meant to mock Bush but there really is some truth to it.
Everything bad about cable TV's political argument shows...
...summed up in one animation. Be very afraid.
A useful prayer related to on-line discussion
From Little Green Footballs, a takeoff on the Alcoholics Anonymous credo.
Teller was unavailable for comment
But Penn seems to have had quite the security checkpoint experience.
The Forrest Gump of Football...
Chad always sends me the best reader mail. He usually wins by default.

> From: "Chad Kubicek"
> Subject: The Forrest Gump of Football
> Date: Mon, 6 Jan 2003 07:16:08 -0800
> is Mike Jones.
> In college, he was on the (losing) side during the infamous 5th Down game
> between Colorado and Mizzou. In the pros, he was part of the Kurt Warner
> story, making, of course, the tackle that secured the Rams title. Last
> year, he was on the losing side in the Snow Bowl/Tuck Rule game.
> Yesterday, he participated in the winning side of one of the most fabulous
> games ever played, Pittsburgh over Cleveland. Of course, it was only the
> second best game played that day......
> K-W
Eugene Volokh versus Paul Craig Roberts
While on the subject of social commentary, some excellent debunking is going on here.

I'm always glad to see right-wing canards demolished by someone other than people on the left who have a vested interest in making you think that all conservatives think the way that the crazy people think.

(If you had to place Volokh somewhere on the left-right spectrum, I'm not so sure it would be easy to do. I'd love to claim him for the Right, but I'm sure you could be very liberal and still have a plausible claim that Volokh is in your camp. It's kind of the opposite of the Mike Barnicle problem, where one of my liberal friends tried to convince me more than once that Barnicle fit a right-of-center pigeonhole rather than a left-of-center. Some people are such idiots that really nobody wants them. Then again, I think there's ample evidence that calling Barnicle a righty is inappropriate -- unlike Ann Coulter or whoever.)
Stealth Advocacy Groups and People Who Get Way Too Much Credit for Alleged Altruism
(Sorry, this soapbox moment was building up... scroll down if you feel the need...)

You'd think a group like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers would be relatively uncontroversial: Their core position is a hard one to argue against (drunk driving is a really bad idea and a grave threat to innocent people). Ironically, they've been so successful at convincing people not to drink and drive that they've experienced scope creep instead of fading into the background.

Here's the latest I've seen on what they're up to, but it's certainly not the first on-line commentary I've seen bashing them (justifiably, it seems!).

The lesson here seems to be that even a non-profit organization with a "good cause" will eventually reach the point where protecting its own existence and well-being (I imagine MADD has quite a few full-time employees) becomes more important than advancing its mission. This is usually a Bad Thing; even having your heart in the right place really isn't an excuse. I honestly don't know how much (if any) money MADD gets from the government, so it's not quite a libertarian straw-man just yet.

It actually infuriates me when heart-in-the-right-place groups take on this transformation, because after enough moral rationalization people end up doing malicious things, yet pat themselves on the back for being such do-gooders.

Incidentally, this is what I despise about Senator John Edwards, whom I fear/loathe far more than any other plausible 2004 Democratic presidential candidate*. On-line commentary has already covered why savaging him for being a trial lawyer won't work: Everybody knows somebody who was helped by one. Still, this was a depressing realization for me:

(*- Hillary just isn't plausible yet. Gray Davis is a rotten person but wouldn't do that much policy damage because he has no positions at all other than doing what furthers his career. John Kerry is also an egotistical bitch but if that's the worst thing you can say about a politician, it's not catastrophic. Gore dropped out; I'd have definitely preferred him to Edwards. The downside to the November 2002 senate elections was that I think Tom Daschle was actually the Democratic candidate whom I'd have least minded having as president. Then again, a John McCain win -- even as a Democrat -- would make me significantly happier than ANY other Democratic candidate winning; it's not even close.)

There are many, many interlocking reasons why trial lawyers collectively do far more harm than good:
1. Their work contributes nothing new to our aggregate wealth. Instead, it amounts entirely to a coercive transfer of resources from one group to another. This is a zero-sum game in a world where nearly any other business you can think of generates a positive net.

2. The more people's time and resources are sucked away on the transfer of wealth (rather than the increase), the worse off we all get in the long run, because of the opportunity cost of the lost productivity. In a nutshell this is why Cuba, North Korea, and the former Soviet allies were all basketcase economies.

3. But regardless of what happens to everyone else, the trial lawyers will get theirs in the form of contingency fees. Imagine Robin Hood robbing from the rich and, despite the cred he gets for giving to the poor, actually keeping a third of it for himself. Partly because of the coercive power they hold, some of the world's worst tyrants are fabulously wealthy (Castro, say, or any random Soviet apparatchik of the past who had his own dacha and didn't have to wait in bread lines) despite the abject poverty of the countries they run.

4. Luck plays a significant role in the benefits that some clients get from their work. You'll see this in both the tobacco lawsuits and the asbestos lawsuits: In about every nth jury trial, one victim who happened to be in the right courtroom at the right time will get an absurdly high award that leaves other people SOL. This is actually deeply relevant for asbestos, where most of the companies paying damages are sure to go bankrupt and many of the people who were nontrivially injured won't get any money because the trivially-injured people with the best lawyers are poaching it all.

(It's not quite as bad in the tobacco cases -- by the way, do you understand how and why it's now in the states' interests to keep the tobacco companies running? With the tax revenue and the settlement terms, state governments are now more or less full partners in the tobacco industry. That sounds like a wacky conspiracy theory, I know, but it's true. If you don't believe me, please either ask for elaboration or just think it through.)

5. There's a corruption racket going where trial lawyers give money to politicians (the donations are effectively 100% to Democrats), politicians make litigation easier as a matter of law, trial lawyers get rich off the new business (especially the tobacco case contingency fees), then give it right back to aforementioned politicians, continuing a cycle that leaves the lawyers and the Democrats really well off and the rest of the country screwed.

6. And of course, on the productivity/opportunity cost point, nobody will do anything useful anymore once lawsuits make innovation too risky. Hell, we've reached the point where lawsuits, via high malpractice insurance rates, make the practice of medicine too risky.

None of this necessarily reflects on Edwards individually (as opposed to his profession as a whole). For all I know he's taken on some really valiant cases. By the magic of contingency fees, it's almost dead certain he was handsomely compensated for it all. So even if "trial lawyer" isn't an appropriate brush to tar him with, it's certainly not something he should be bragging about. Yet you see people who fashion themselves as do-gooders, as "fighters for the people," engage in self-promotion all the time, almost as if they were angling for fellatio.

Any time a politician claims to "fight for" people in a given group, grip your wallet like a vice. Nothing good can come out of pitting one interest group against another. The best domestic politicians stay completely out of the goodie-dispensing game, or at least try to stick to things that help everyone (lower taxes, say, or better infrastructure up to a point).

Obviously there's a definite time and place for "fighting for us" in foreign policy (speaking of which, how long of a free pass do you think Edwards will get before he has to take a stand and tell people what he'd do about the world and all its problems? I say he gets the journalistic fellatio treatment until at least Octoberish), but that's about it.
Right-wing blast from the past
Here's how far we've come on sexuality issues: It suddenly popped into my head that in the 1980s, National Review had a recurring column by Dartmouth professor Jeffrey Hart, titled "The Ivory Foxhole." (Hart's existence probably has a lot to do with the Dartmouth Review becoming, well, notorious. But that's a long story.)

At some point Hart repeated speculation that some absurdly high portion of Yale students were gay. The 40% figure is stuck in my head, and yet that doesn't sound at all plausible. Hart was deeply offended by this figure: It's unclear in hindsight whether what offended him was the absurdity of the claim or rather how distressing it would have been for the claim to be true.

I'm almost certainly remembering this wrong. Unfortunately, nobody in my known audience is of the right age, reading habits, and political slant to correct me.
Modern Rock
Go vote in Craig's 192-song contest if you haven't already. As of when I post this, it's Day 1. Check back daily for new matchups.

I'm deeply not-thrilled by the first four matchups; then again, almost by definition, none of these are even in the 64 best (the 64 highest-seeded songs having gotten byes).
Bass line of the day
The chorus of Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On" has those two E's an octave apart, then a riff involving the A, D, and higher of the E's.

The instrumental part of that song would be surprisingly useful as sampled in a rap song.
The football/TV/schedule geek phase reaches its logical extreme...
When people ask "Why?" the best possible answer is "Because it was there."

(Maybe "Because I got high." is a close second.)

That's all I have to say about this hypothetical 2003 NFL schedule project. Like my godforsaken music critic page from a year ago, I've reached enough of a stopping point that you should probably go click around once and then neither you nor me actually speak of it again.

(Unless you find a silly typo somewhere, or worse. I guess you'd have to be similarly geeky to know what the possibilities are for the "or worse.")

Brief mild teaser: For Monday, September 8, 2003, brace yourself for San Francisco at Philadelphia. (Mind, in real life I think an Eagles' Super Bowl win would lead to New England at Philadelphia but doctoring it to come out that way would have been too much hassle. I happened to get what I get and it seemed okay.)

Sunday, January 05, 2003

The last feline update for awhile
In case you missed it in the football narrative, I'm cat-free again. Athena inadvertently(?) gave my left palm a nasty back-claw scratch as I was trying to herd her into her carrier. Akasha was remarkably cooperative though: She'd been under my bed but I think she'd been asleep rather than hiding. Despite Thena's uncharacteristic ruckus, Kasha didn't seem to be aware that a cat transport was imminent.

Brief overview of what made them talk:
When Athena wants to play or wants attention or both, she'll go over to a far wall and stare at a spot (or just paw at the wall) and then mew expectantly. The goal is to get someone to pick her up; I'd usually humor her. She loves being picked up or held, or just exploring high places within a room (cabinet tops, window sills, people's shoulders...) She really needs a playmate; Akasha is too serious/unapproachable for her.

She saves her plaintive, not-a-happy-camper wails for car trips, where Akasha is nearly silent.

Akasha will throat out a gruff complaint if Athena comes too close or if somebody tries to pick her up. The first warning is just the feline vocal chord equivalent of "Hey!" Then comes growling if necessary.

On the other hand, she has a special meow of greeting when she jumps up on my bed hoping to be pet. It's kind of a burble refined into two distinct, short bleats, and immediately followed by loud purring. (Athena would always purr softly in my arms but a cat who just lies there in your arms isn't quite as much fun as one who walks around on your bed nuzzling your arm, licking your hand, presenting her ears to you and then her backside and then her ears again as she goes around in circles obviously craving the pets as opposed to just the attention.)
Obligatory world events hectoring
(Host's note: I'm sitting on a lot of world news stories, not posting yet until it's clear which blog they should go on or whether I can speak rationally about the issues involved. Stay tuned, maybe. Feel free to comment on whether you really want or really don't want to see what I'd say.)

In non-football news there's this hand-wringing over the effect war would have on "humanitarian" efforts in Iraq.

All I have to say is, go back and look up what these f*ckheads said about Afghanistan. Then take a moment to ponder just how wrong they were, about EVERYTHING. (My favorite fallacy is the "brutal Afghan winter.")

Then stop and consider just how much U.S. troops (and, yes, peacekeepers from around the world) did and are still doing in Afghanistan. Iraq will almost certainly be the same way but will what actually happens get nearly as much press as what the professionally aggrieved pull out of their asses as predictions? Don't hold your breath.

Noam Chomsky probably still thinks we committed genocide in Afghanistan, since apparently he can't be bothered to go back and correct all the heinous lies he told (the "starving children" and such). The world is full of ingrate pricks who don't know better than to listen to the likes of him.
The weblog equivalent of a reporter in the clubhouse
As of when I type this there's not yet any posted reaction from the biggest 49er fan, NY Giant fan, or Steeler fan I know. By the time you read this, though, all three may have the thrill of agony or victory of defeat or something in between.

(Note also, inspired by my own obsessive posting, Dwight does have a hilarious experience with the Moonlighting FAQ that must be read to be believed.)

There's probably a Browns fan somewhere on Craig's blogroll. The problem with blog names rather than author names is that I forget whose weblog belongs to whom.
My new least favorite NFL player...
(It's not entirely clear who he replaces though. Probably Ray Lewis.)

I was thinking about this in the car and all I can say is, somebody could really use a lesson from Mark Bavaro on being tight end for the Giants and doing it with class.

Bavaro's heir apparent has no redeeming virtues, and I thought that even without knowing about this story, which I'll go ahead and claim is a non-issue.

By contrast, a celebration/taunting note: What do you think my opinion is of Terrell Owens? I can't remember ever expressing one here but for the record I've really come to like him. In a perfect world everyone would be like Barry Sanders and hand the ball to the ref but if you must celebrate, Owens's performances are light years ahead of those guys who think they can dance. Also, Owens busts his ass (actually, there are three reasonable candidates for the best current wide receiver in the NFL: one busts his ass but stays quiet; one busts his ass and showboats; the other showboats but doesn't bust his ass -- guess which one more people have probably heard of than the other two?).

I'll gladly live with him showboating as long as he does it creatively and continues to carry that team on his back. My favorite thing about the ESPN-selected highlights on NFL Primetime was Michael Strahan pointing to the scoreboard when Owens celebrated after the catch that made it 38-22. In general you have no business celebrating if you're way behind, but if you can back it up all the way, then in hindsight Owens wins that taunt.
Referee declaration of the day
"By virtue of his actions, he has disqualified himself."
--the official call of Shaun Williams's ejection on the fight that broke out with a minute to go in the SF-NYG game. Chad and I both noticed this excellent turn of phrase.


This is, bar none, the best weekend of football ever.
There isn't even a plausible argument otherwise. Throw out Saturday: Between Friday's college championship and Sunday's wild card games, you couldn't possibly hope for three better games than that. If you're not a football fan, pity, you don't know what you missed this weekend. (Even Saturday contributes heavily to it: The Green Bay Packers had never lost a home playoff game, not in the Super Bowl era, maybe not ever. Until Saturday night, when Michael Vick and the Falcons took it to them on a cold evening at Lambeau.)

Of all the days for a many-post, running football commentary to be worth reading, today would have been it. But no, I had kitties to transfer and a late lunch to be treated to. Reconstructing as best I can:

I woke up, got ready for the day, dimly aware that Sunday's game were on a normal schedule rather than the late-afternoon/evening thing they do on Saturdays. First became aware of Browns-Steelers game at the half.

Here's why having pets is fun in a way that non pet owners would never understand: You can attribute the most off-the-wall personality traits to them and have it be funny. I saw the score and blurted out loud, Hey 'kasha, your Steelers aren't doing well.

Who knew she was a Steeler fan? Her real owner probably didn't--she herself almost certain had no idea what the hell I was talking about--and yet it fits. She's overweight, grumpy, and demanding, but totally sincere in her devotion. She's exactly the feline equivalent of someone who would have been screaming for Maddox to come off the bench earlier this fall.

So the game wore on. Pittsburgh sort of hung in there but not really: They seemed to be playing just well enough not to be humiliated but not to make a stunning comeback either. They were down 12 and Cleveland had the ball with five minutes to go. Couldn't do anything with it; had to punt. Hey, 'kasha, your Steelers are making a comeback!! I got all excited about it on her behalf. She kind of looked at me funny.

They're gonna win it! Akasha, your Steelers! Basically I ran it into the ground. Then called Chad. We both sat slack-jawed on opposite ends of a cellphone conversation, murmuring That was a great game! to each other. (He had some great analysis on the Browns' total choke but I can't put it into words as well as he did.)

Caught the Terrell Owens touchdown, first score of this game, before taking care of the feline transfer and enjoying a late hot pot lunch (more on that to come in a different post).

Got back into my car, saw I had a voicemail message from Chad. Heard the message -- "Boy, I can see why everyone is on the Giants' bandwagon!" -- right as I heard the score on the radio, 38-14.

Now, all week I'd been seeing bits and pieces of the NFL Films special on the greatest comeback in professional sports. In my first conversation with Chad I complained about how, because I'd seen this special, I'd watched way more of Saturday's blowouts than I needed to, holding on too long in case there was another great comeback. In spite of this, I almost stopped listening to the Giants-49ers game when it was 38-14. But they scored the touchdown, went for two, got it. At this point I remembered my all-time favorite piece of football math:

24 = 3 * 8

The magic of the two-point conversation is that you can be down by 24 points but it's still only three scores, same as if you were down by 17. So San Francisco scored, went for two, got it, held 'em on defense, scored again, went for two again, and at this point it's time to call Chad again. Got two again, got the ball back, driving. If they'd just gotten that last touchdown-and-two to tie the game, I'd have reached football nirvana right there, regardless of how the game came out.

Instead, the Giants experienced the worst kicking-game breakdown I've ever seen. There's nothing useful I can say here. If you watched the game then you know exactly what happened and heard people much more football-savvy than me break it down. If you missed it, well, nothing I say can fully describe what happened.

In hindsight it's easy to blame the holder for not throwing the ball away. Especially since I'd just said to Chad on the phone that I thought they might actually have time for one more play. But when it happened and the snap was bad, at that moment it didn't occur to him or to me to do anything other than panic.

(At this point you might ask: Okay, who was Matt rooting for? In both cases, "the team that's behind." Well, I rooted for Pittsburgh's two-point conversation on their last touchdown and against San Francisco's failed two-point conversation on their last touchdown, but I don't fully understand why in either case. Blame Akasha and the gold-colored "terrible towel" on the bottom of her cat-carrier. Athena's towel, if you care, was a bluish-green hue that vaguely matches one of the Jacksonville colors.)

In any case. Wow. I could watch highlights of both games over and over again.

Have I mentioned yet just how spoiled we are in this metropolitan area? You probably saw this city survey, with San Francisco on top, but did you notice Oakland a solid sixth? Even though I root solidly against them both, I'm at the point where I deeply respect both the 49ers and Raiders and deeply appreciate being in the same city as them. Maybe some day I'll go to a game, or sit at a sports bar and get sucked in. The only thing is I'm not going to stand for someone who's been here three years (like me) to come in and act like they've rooted for (whichever team) their whole lives.

But I do know lifelong Bay Area residents -- David and Paul, come to think of it! -- who are probably ecstatic. And a Steeler diehard. And on the flip side, Jon gets my sincere condolences. I can't even imagine either the thrill or the agony on either side.

Well, wait, I sort of can. It's like the difference between this Super Bowl and that one, or this comeback and this collapse, only on a greater scale of deficit erasure.