How bad a President is George W. Bush? So bad that liberals and conservative are uniting to tell him to PLEASE stop governing.
Archive for October, 2008
Whether you’re for or against The Chosen One, there is something special about the daughter of a slave being able to vote for a black President.
Why does every courtroom scene in TV or movies have to devolve into attorneys yelling out talking points? This never happens in real life. Another thing that doesn’t happen is attorneys cutting off witness in mid-sentence.
These cliches drive me crazy.
As we finally, fucking finally stumble into the last week of the political campaign, one blogger hits why the Right Wing Echosphere and the McCain campaign in particular is exhausting:
It’s not just the McCain campaign’s problem – although their inability to pick a narrative and stick to it is a special kind of inexcusable – it’s a problem for the entire wingnut noise machine. Obama is a Marxist Muslim Arab Jesus Black White Terrorist Technocrat Racist Do-Gooder Liberal FDR Stalin Hilter Commie Fascist Gay Womanizing Naive Cynical Insider Noob Boring Radical Unaccomplished Elite Slick Gaffe-Prone Pedophile Pedophile-Seducing Liberation Theology Atheist Etc. & Anti-Etc. with a bunch of scary friends from – wait for it! – the Nineteen Hundred And Sixties. It makes no sense. It’s a jumble sale of fears and scary associations from 50 years of wingnut witch hunts and smear campaigns, a flea market of pre-owned and antique resentments, and if one does detect a semi-consistent 1960’s motif running through it all, that’s because that’s when most of these ideas were coined. While it is great fun for wingnut yahoos to relive the glory days when National Review was still taken more seriously than liberal blogofascists by the people who matter, most of this stuff is obsolescent (or at least unfashionable), and people suffering from the material problems caused by 50 years of right-wing ascendancy aren’t going to drop everything to listen to fuguing conservatives spin disjointed yarns about how much better everything was back in their day. Nobody gives a fuck.
Every conservative blog in my RSS feed has been like this for the past month. Every day, there are six stories about how Obama is something I’m afraid of. It’s exhausting, even for this political junkie. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even bring myself to read the stories anymore. I just hit the headline and my brain automatically says, “Next!”.
It’s to the point where, when something serious is discussed, such as Obama’s healthcare plan which will socialize medicine through the back door, no one is paying attention.
Some amazing color pictures from the Depression. Honestly, I can’t believe the colors. I’m so used to thinking of that era as black and white.
My friend Chris defends the honor of PSU over at his blog, taking issue with the people who are saying PSU should be kept out of the National Championship game owing to the weakness of the Big Ten. I posted this comment in response:
On the other hand, if there are three undefeated teams, someone has to get shut out. A few years ago, it was Auburn. Given how poorly the Big 10 has done in their non-conference games this year, it would have to be PSU *if* there were three undefeated teams. But I would probably take an undefeated PSU team over a 1-loss team, given how impressively they’ve walked through the Big 10 ( so far).
I just find it hilarious that we see this every year. Fans get offended in advance for something that has yet to happen.
Expanding on that last point, I’m getting calls from fellow Georgia fans offended that Georgia is “only” number 8 in the polls. I’d say the same thing to them. The season isn’t over yet. If Georgia beats Florida, Auburn, Georgia Tech and Alabama to win the SEC, then we can complain. Georgia is currently ranked #6 in the BCS. If they roar past everyone, they will still have to hope that Texas or PSU loses, but they’ll be well-positioned.
But should a 1-loss SEC team be behind an undefeated Big-10 team? Or an undefeated Big-12 team? What about USC? Let’s just look at the three undefeated teams for now and their non-conference schedules:
Alabama: at Clemson, Tulane, Western Kentucky, Arkansas State (11-18)
Texas: Florida Atlantic, at UTEP, Arkansas, Rice (14-17)
PSU: Coastal Carolina (AA team), Oregon State, at Syracuse, Temple (12-19)
Not too impressive. All three have fattened up on patsies, once again demonstrating that the key to a national championship season is often an easy schedule. Compare what these three teams have faced to USC:
USC: at Virginia, Ohio State, Notre Dame (17-7)
and you begin to see why I’m not terribly happy about the current system. Any rational person would judge a 1-loss USC team to be at least equal to a zero-loss Texas, Bama or PSU team.
Conference strength matters too, since the bulk of any team’s schedule is within their conference. Consider the bowl records of the major conferences over the last five years.
Pac 10: 19-16
Big East: 18-16
Big 12: 24-23
Big 10: 19-24
Rankings are often a bad way of judging conference strength since there’s a certain circularity to them (Texas is good because they beat Oklahoma; Oklahoma is good because they played Texas). But consider the number of ranked teams:
Big Twelve: 5
Big Ten: 4
Big East: 1
So what’s the upshot?
The upshot is that you can make any argument you want. You want Texas? You can point to their walloping of Missouri and Oklahoma. You don’t want Texas? Point out that the entire Big-12 has fattened up on easy targets.
You want PSU? Point out that the only team that even challenged them was OSU in the Horseshoe and Paterno has a great bowl record. You don’t want PSU? Point out that PSU’s scheduled included Coastal Carolina and the conference they are dominating has the worst bowl record over the last five years and their defending conference champ was demolished by USC.
You want ‘Bama? Point out that the SEC has the best bowl record and that they clobbered a great Georgia team on the road. You don’t want ‘Bama? Point to their easy non-conference schedule.
If we end up with three undefeated teams .. or one undefeated team … or no undefeated teams .. or a 1-loss USC arguing for their inclusion over a 0-loss PSU, you can expect to see arguments like the above dusted off. All of them are valid and all are of them are bullshit. Whichever one happens to grab enough of the media will determine the BCS match-up. The media will then insist that it’s obviously the right matchup even though history has shown their bold proclamations to have slightly less foresight into BCS results than my liver.
The fact is that there is no way to determine, based on 12-13 games, who are the best two teams in the country. People who engage in these arguments (including me) are playing a fool’s game. We might as well be arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
The difference between me and the Sports Media Twerps is that I won’t claim otherwise. I won’t say that I know who the best two teams in the country are. I don’t. No one can. Neither the smartest media guy nor the most sophisticated computer can tell you that.
Once again, we are proving why we need a playoff. If we had a playoff, no one would give a shit about the Big 10′s lousy bowl record or Missouri’s pathetic non-conference schedule or Bama being coached by a turd. If we had a playoff system, the SMTs’ opinions would be for entertainment purposes only, not the basis of a championship system. The actual championship would be determined by what happens on the field, not whose fans scream loudest with their biased arguments.
I’ve just finished Neal Stephenson’s latest. Mini-review after the break to avoid spoilers.
Several good articles have recently challenged the political promise of “green jobs” — the supposed five million jobs the new energy industry is going to create.
The whole reason I moved out of a nice Shamrock apartment into a cookie-cutter U-Heights place was to have a cat. But before I could start looking around, one of the professors asked me if I was looking for one. A stray tabby had taken over his deck. I drove out there with two friends to meet him. He was a big linebacker of a cat, with a broken tooth and a mangled ear from fighting. But he ws the most beautiful cat I’d seen. He was extremely friendly. He immediately nuzzled up to me. A couple of weeks later, he moved in.
At first, he hid under the bed. I brought him out only to have him pee on me. He wouldn’t even eat until I cooked salmon one night and he poked his head out enough to gobble some down. For a while, he would only stay in boxes or under furniture, occasionally coming out to pee on things. He had (and never really lost) a fear of bathrooms. But one night he came out and we lay next to each other and I petted him. A few months later, he was my best friend at a time when my world was in motion. I’d broken up with a girlfriend, my parents had divorced and moved out of the house I grew up in. But he was there for me.
For the next few years, it was just me and him. I would come home late at night and see him sitting on the top of the couch. He would get up, stretch and come to the door for me. When people came over, he would come out, nuzzle and roll over to have his belly rubbed.
When I got a second cat, he came over and started bathing her. He took care of her for me. The first night, she woke up and meowed in fear. He bathed her until she went to sleep. Whenever stray cats would be outside, he would meow at them in a friendly way. He was never territorial.
For ten years, he was the most loyal most friendly sweetest cat you could imagine, playing all the time and talking in chirps and purrs. As time went on and my life filled with a family, we weren’t as close. But we would still have our moments when he would lie in bed with me and just purr.
A couple of months ago, he started vomiting on a regular basis. I took him to the vet and they did some bloodwork that showed little. A week and a half ago he stopped eating. The vet wanted more tests, but I was determine just to get him to eat, not to subject him to all sorts of poking and prodding. Saturday night, he stopped even eating the food I would give him. And this morning, he crawled into my room, meowed a few times in agony and then died in my arms. I took him to the ER and they said the could resuscitate him, but for little purpose. He was gone.
He’s wrapped up in the closet right now. I keep checking on him to make sure he’s really gone. I keep expecting him to start that deep sleeping breath that was almost like a purr. I keep expecting him to come out and bite my ankles for food.
Eleven years isn’t a long time for cat. I’d hoped to have another five years. But I think he wanted to go. Whatever was ailing him, all the X-rays and ultrasounds in the world would only prolong it. He’d want to go this way. On his feet. With me.
Sorry if this post rambles. I haven’t slept all night. Something told me to stay up because this was the end. Later, I’ll wrap him up and bury him under his favorite tree with his favorite toy. I don’t know if there is any such things as a spirit. But if there is, he’s still with me. Always.
Pleasant dreams, big guy.
PS – I can’t figure out how to put pictures on this blog. I’ve put a picture of him up at Right-Thinking.
Last year, I came up with an excitement index to evaluate how good a baseball post-season was. The system isn’t exactly scientific, but it does provide some insight. It works like so:
Every game played gets 1 point. Each game get 0.2 extra points for a lead change or tie. So tonight the Sox led 1-0. The Tribe tied it. Then the Sox took the lead for good. 0.4 points. Now if the Tribe had scored a run in the 1st and another in the second, that would have been 0.4 points; but had they taken the lead with two in the 1st, that would have only been 0.2 points. The system rewards a little drawing out of the game. Extra innings or a last at-bat victory is worth an extra 0.5 points. Finally, the game is credited with 1/(margin of victory). So a 1-run game gets an extra point. A five-run game only gets 0.2 points.
It’s arbitary, I know. It gives the same weight to an 18-inning game as a 10-inning game. It weights early rallies as much as late ones. It doesn’t account for runners left on base, which is why Game 7 of the 1991 World Series comes in at only 2.50. It weights an exciting game one as much as an exciting game seven. It doesn’t care if a team has come back from being down 3-0.
In other words, it’s quick and dirty.
I’m not really looking to rank the greatest game in baseball history. What I’m looking for are series — and post-seasons full of series — that go the distance with lots of exciting close games. And I don’t have the computer resources to do a more thorough job. This one can be calculated just by looking at the line score.
Here’s a list of season-by-season excitement indexes in the wild card era:
1995 – 66.20
1996 – 62.06
1997 – 66.86
1998 – 53.07 (all-time great teams make boring playoffs)
1999 – 60.83
2000 – 56.35 (subway series; ugh)
2001 – 62.13
2002 – 61.48
2003 – 74.12 (WOW! See the linked post.)
2004 – 65.42
2005 – 57.37
2006 – 49.84
2007 – 47.62
Last year was the boring post-season of the wild-card era. We had no less than five series sweeps. The Cleveland-New York DS went four games. The only decent series was the Boston-Cleveland LCS and that was only because it went 7 games. It was the dullest 7-game series in history.
So this season? So far, it’s 49.20. So it’s already matched the excitement of the last two post-seasons. The Red Sox-Rays series that just finished was the most exciting since the 2001 world series (although the 2004 NLCS comes close). Game 2 was an utter classic for the ages, one of highest single-game score in the database. Games five and six were also highly exciting. The score of 14.94 was the fourth highest since 1991, being topped only the 1991, 1992 and 2001 world series. I know it was that good because I could barely watch (I was pulling for the Rays).
Given the mean score of a seven-game series (10.97), we can expect a score for 2008 of about 60. This is almost exactly the average in the wild-card era.