Thursday, September 23, 2010

Week 3 NFL picks

OK, so Week 2 was a total fiasco, let's see if I can get this under control for Week 3. Once again, against the spread. Home team in CAPS.

titans (+3) over GIANTS
PATRIOTS (-14.5) over bills
RAVENS (-10.5) over browns
steelers (-2.5) over BUCCANEERS
bengals (-3) over PANTHERS
SAINTS (-3.5) over falcons
CHIEFS (-3) over 49ers
lions (+11) over VIKINGS
TEXANS (-2.5) over cowboys
redskins (-3.5) over RAMS
eagles (-2.5) over JAGUARS
colts (-5.5) over BRONCOS
chargers (-5.5) over SEAHAWKS
raiders (+4.5) over CARDINALS
DOLPHINS (-2) over jets

packers (-3) over BEARS

Last week: 5-9-2
Season: 12-16-4

Monday, September 20, 2010

the spread

I went 5-8-2 on Sunday. Horrible. Worse than guessing. I gotta right this ship before I start putting any money down. We'll start with New Orleans blowing out San Francisco tonight.


Not to be alarmist, but I'm a bit leery of this new genetic advancement on salmon that makes them grow twice as fast as normal salmon. To wit:

"There is virtually no possibility of escape and interaction with wild populations,” says Stotish.

That’s because the fish eggs will be sterile, and they will all be female. Plus, they'll be grown in tanks on land, rather than nets or pens, floating in the ocean, the way most conventional farmed fish is raised.

I hate to break it to these guys, but I'm pretty sure they relied on that trick in Jurassic Park and it didn't work then either. How long before mutant mega-salmon are roaming the earth, seeking revenge on their human creators? FDA, thou shalt reapeth what thy soweth.

As Shaggy 2 Dope of Insane Clown Posse memorably opined, "I don’t want to talk to a scientist, y’all mother fuckers lyin, and gettin me pissed."

MDG Summit in twitter form

Live-tweeting the silliest highlights of the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals. I'm here so you don't have to be.

Friday, September 17, 2010

puts it in perspective

Remember reading a few weeks back about those Chilean miners that were trapped a third of a mile underground?

Well, they're still there. And it'll be a few weeks before anyone can get them out. Amazing story...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I hope that "unnamed team" is the Bears

So ESPN is reporting that the Chargers' Vincent Jackson's suspension will be reduced if he's traded and that an "unnamed team" is already in talks with San Diego.

Chicago needs a deep threat and already has the NFL's 3rd-best collection of screw-ups and head cases (trailing only Cincinnati and the New York Jets).

Sidenote: what sense does it make to reduce a guy's drunk-driving suspension if he's traded? Like, if he goes to New York and it's a public transport city, he's less of a risk? I don't really get it.

NFL picks week 2

In other obvious news, it's much harder to pick against the spread in the NFL than it is to just pick the winners outright. Nonetheless I'll be trying again, and here's my best shot for Week 2:

kansas city (+2) over CLEVELAND
GREEN BAY (-13) over buffalo
baltimore (-2.5) over CINCINNATI
TENNESSEE (-5) over pittsburgh
philadelphia (-6.5) over DETROIT
chicago (+7.5) over DALLAS
CAROLINA (-3.5) over tampa bay
arizona (+6.5) over ATLANTA
miami (+5.5) over MINNESOTA
OAKLAND (-3.5) over st. louis
DENVER (-3.5) over seattle
houston (-3) over WASHINGTON
jacksonville (+7) over SAN DIEGO
new england (-3) over NY JETS
INDIANAPOLIS (-5) over ny giants

new orleans (-5) over SAN FRANCISCO

Last week: 7-7-2

The discomforts of terrorism

Today in the Security Council meeting on Somalia, the Kenyan Ambassador said:

"If the Transitional Government would fall, the group called al Shabaab would take over and export an ideology dedicated to the destruction of all non-Muslim people in the region. And we would be uncomfortable with a situation like that."

I don't know about you, but "uncomfortable" is a word I use when, say, the air conditioning is too high, or when I try on a pair of shoes and they do not fit. Not when a militia dedicated to wiping me off the face of the earth seizes control in a large neighboring nation.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dispatches from the 9/11 Memorial Circus

NEW YORK - The road to lunacy is paved with good intentions.

Before today's 9/11 ceremonies, several 9/11 family groups had requested people not to protest, either in favor of or against the proposed "Ground Zero mosque," out of respect to the sacredness of the day. Good intention, right? Well, the end result was that all the reasonable people stayed home and the crazies came out of the woodwork like a horde of termites. Today was the political equivalent of World's Deadliest Swarms. A complete three-ring circus.

Qurans? We got 'em. You want to stomp on them? There was a guy doing that on Chambers street. You want free ones? A Muslim group was handing them out on Broadway outside the Duane Reade. I almost took one, but let's face it, I'm a bit behind in my summer reading list, and I already read the most inflammatory bits in Sam Harris.

Costumed heroes? Yeah, we got those. A guy dressed in a homemade Captain America costume, complete with USA flag cape. Affiliation? Unknown. Some guy showed up with a gorgeous blue and yellow parrot on his arm. "Does it talk?" we asked. "When it wants to," he said. We got clowns, too. Loony Lenny showed up in full costume. I know his name because it was on his hat. Not sure which side he was on either. Not everybody had one. One guy was just holding up a peace sign at the midpoint between the two protests. All he wanted to know from me was whether I'd seen any violence. Not here and not today, I said. Not in 9 years, actually.

Completed unrelated causes turned out, because, hell, it's a protest, right? Anti abortion groups arrived in matching t-shirts and a decked-out minivan. 9/11 family groups were literally screaming at 9/11 Truthers. Nothing like wearing a "9/11 Was An Inside Job" t-shirt to rile up a crowd of flag-waving patriots. An ironic bunch of college kids trolled about with signs that read "Bigots are Americans too!" and "Bigotry is a right!" So there!

Religiously, the full gamut was on display. Between Broadway (site of the pro-mosque protest) and West Broadway (anti-mosque) was the ironically named Church Street, and that's where the crazier elements of each protest gathered to shout at each other. One Christian group came to decry the sins of abortion and homosexuality. Atheists came out to support the First Amendment. Jews came out to support Israel. Or protest Israel. Or whatever. One man wanted to burn all religious books. He got into a shouting match with a Muslim cleric who said, "Hitler burned all religious books! It was called Kristallnacht." Since the old debate adage says that the first side to mention Hitler loses, I'm afraid the book-burning guy took that argument.

The anti-mosque protesters were certainly better organized. They had a giant TV screen. They had far more people. That didn't, of course, make their speakers make any more sense. At least the aldermen and activists had enough media experience to avoid saying anything incredibly awful. But cue the groans when some speaker gets up there and begins "I'm just an ordinary American citizen and I want to have my say..." That's really what this day was about. But it's kind of like Terry Jones in Florida. The guy can have his say if he wants to. It's a free country. But I'm free to ignore him.

Moving east to City Hall, Broadway was blanketed in a pu pu platter of leftist causes from the past 40 years. Free Palestine! Free Lynne Stewart! Works of the world unite! Islamophobia is Racism... So Join The Socialist Workers Party! USA Exports Ground Zeroes In Iraq and Afghanistan! Viva Chavez and Ahmadinejad! These were actual signs, by the way. It was all so caricatured, I began to suspect this was actually a right-wing crowd pretending to be a left-wing crowd. I'm still not convinced it wasn't. I mean, viva Ahmadinejad? Really?

One speaker lamented that "the revolution" was being undermined "because we can't get organized!" Which was painfully obvious from the disparate causes jockeying for elbow room. Right after him, an activist lawyer attempted to get the crowd riled up about the rights of Guantanamo Bay inmates — what does this have to do with Park51 exactly? — but was drowned out when the protest was buzzed by a giant motorcade of anti-mosque biker guys in leather revving their engines at north of 100 dB. Since when did the Hell's Angels join the Tea Party?

As the anti-mosque protest dispersed, along came a 4th-of-July-parade-style float that can only be described as an anti-Islammobile. "America Repent!" its placards screamed. "Islam is a false religion." And at the top, larger than anything else: "STOP THE INSANITY!"

My thoughts exactly.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Week 1 Predictions

Hey all, it's time for another year of football prognostication. This year, I'm gonna do it a bit differently by picking against the spread. Home team in caps:

NEW ORLEANS (-5) over minnesota

carolina (+6.5) over NY GIANTS
miami (-3) over BUFFALO
PITTSBURGH (+2.5) over atlanta
CHICAGO (-6.5) over detroit
NEW ENGLAND (-4.5) over cincinnati
cleveland (+3) over TAMPA BAY
denver (+2.5) over JACKSONVILLE
indianapolis (-2) over HOUSTON
TENNESSEE (-6) over oakland
green bay (-3) over PHILADELPHIA
san francisco (-3) over SEATTLE
arizona (-4) over ST LOUIS
dallas (-3.5) over WASHINGTON

baltimore (-2) over NY JETS
san diego (-4.5) over KANSAS CITY

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Quinn is the new Salinger, and other thoughts on the Discovery Channel hostage crisis

A few thoughts on today's bizarre 4-hour standoff at Discovery Channel headquarters...

1. Why the hell did this guy go after the Discovery Channel? This would be like a Tea Partier hijacking Fox News for not being right wing enough. They were on your side!!!! Initially, all my Japanese friends were afraid the guy was a Japanese radical protesting Whale Wars, and were relieved to learn he was of Korean descent instead. In other news, had this been an anti-Whale Wars protester, I think that would have made for the best season finale of any show in Discovery Channel history.

2. On the same point, this guy clearly had an obsession with the Discovery Channel. Not only had he previously caused a public disturbance outside their offices two years earlier, but he also claims to have learned bomb-making tips from Mythbusters. Mythbusters happens to be one of my favorite shows on TV, and I'm pretty sure the Mythbusters guys are quite clear that you're not supposed to try this stuff at home, dude.

It's a pity this ended in tragedy—though thankfully not for the hostages, who all survived. Because James Lee's "manifesto" is one of the funnier documents I've read in years. Most of it is suggestions for programming content.

Focus must be given on how people can live WITHOUT giving birth to more filthy human children since those new additions continue pollution and are pollution. A game show format contest would be in order.

Furthermore, Lee doesn't understand that this is a manifesto, not an SMS. Otherwise, why would he feel the need to write:


I'm pretty sure neither the Communist Manifesto nor the Unabomber's Manifesto (both of which, mindblowingly, I read for class in high school), had that many exclamation points or capitalized passages.

4. What is it with crazy gunmen sending their shit to NBC News? Is NBC news the "it" place for these guys to contact? First it was the Virginia Tech killer sending an entire press kit of photos and video to them, and now this.

5. Daniel Quinn is the new J.D. Salinger. His disassociations notwithstanding, people will forever associate Ishmael with this lunatic, and any future eco-lunatics who follow in his footsteps. The same fate awaits Ishmael that has befallen Catcher In The Rye. Now I have my issues with Quinn's book, but no author deserves this sort of thing. Except possibly Ayn Rand.

The more you know... Equatorial Guinea edition!

UNITED NATIONS - Equatorial Guinea executed 4 people yesterday for attempting to assassinate the President. The prisoners were reportedly executed 1 hour after conviction, with no appeal. Since some in the international community viewed this as something of a human rights violation, Equatorial Guinean Ambassador Anatolio Ndong Mba held a press conference at the UN today attempting to explain his country's actions. Let's see how his attempts fared:

1st Attempt: These guys were terrorists!
Analysis: Since 9/11, this has been perhaps the single most often employed justification by every state for anything that could conceivably be called a human rights violation, and they do it largely to shut the US up. This sort of thing was more effective in the Bush years, but even yesterday's protest from the State Department was qualified.

2nd Attempt: "Legislation set out in the constitution ... provides for the application of capital punishment for crimes such as those judged in this case."
Analysis: This would have been more convincing if his strong accent hadn't made "this case" sound like "discos." The law in discos, I believe, is not recognized internationally.

3rd Attempt:
Critics do not even know our country. They cannot even find our country on a map.
Analysis: True!

4th Attempt: We support the UN's Millennium Development Goals.
Analysis: A naked appeal for developing country support. When in doubt, name-drop the Millennium Development Goals. The Secretary-General does it all the time. Why shouldn't Equatorial Guinea?

5th Attempt: We protect our environment.
Analysis: An even more naked appeal, this time for leftist support in the developed world. The way the Equatorial Guineans see it, the same people who care about the environment are the sort who care about human rights in oil-rich countries. And they're absolutely right. What's more, Equatorial Guinea actually does a fairly decent job of protecting its environment, particularly its primate population on the island of Bioko. Despite being completely unrelated to the charges at hand, this proves to be, sadly, the Ambassador's best defense.

6th Attempt: "Please, give the opportunity of Equatorial Guinea to at least know it properly. Instead of condemning what is being done, nobody is speaking of development in the country. We are building hospitals, schools, roads. Equatorial Guineans are free to go anywhere, anywhere in the world!"
Analysis: First of all, if you have to advertise this, it's probably not true. Equatorial Guinea has one of the highest per capita incomes on earth, but its citizens are some of the world's poorest. Virtually all of its oil wealth goes to the President and his family and friends, and Transparency International ranks Equatorial Guinea 168th out of 180 on its corruption index. The President's son is a rap mogul in LA, so, yes, that's at least one Equatorial Guinean who travels the world freely. As for the rest, the country's government is regarded as one of the most autocratic and brutal to political dissent and no country in Africa save possibly Eritrea is as tightly or ruthlessly controlled.

7th Attempt:
Responding to allegations that the President's son spends his ill-gotten millions on Bentleys, a recording studio, a private jet, and lavish nights on the town with his sometimes-girlfriend Eve: "Anybody is free to do his business."
Analysis: True... I guess. Sigh...

Meanwhile, Equatorial Guineans also packed the press room with pro-government people who all applauded after the Ambassador's opening statement. This trick is so transparent to real journalists that even North Korea doesn't do it.

Equatorial Guinea! Staking its own little claim to be the worst-governed country on earth.