Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Great U-Turn

Very interesting historical look at how and why modern America is unusually immune to socialistic tendencies.

The article is 5 pages long but well worth the time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

I did not know that Jared Harris (Lane Pryce on Mad Men) was the son of Richard Harris who I guess never clubbed his son over the head with a cane. Jared Harris has been tabbed to play Moriarty in the next Sherlock Holmes movie... The word “alamo” is Spanish for the cottonwood tree. "Remember the cottonwood" just doesn't have the same ring as a rallying cry though... Hard to believe Manny Ramirez will be Type A free agent while David Ortiz and his 32 HR / 101+ RBI will be Type B. Not that it will make a difference since I'm sure the Red Sox will pick up Ortiz' option for 2011... True Grit trailer - I can't wait... JD Drew has a limited no-trade clause to 2 teams. I'm assuming the Phillies are one but I wonder who the 2nd team would be? The Cardinals maybe?... Very interesting - Hells Angels photos from unpublished LIFE story in 1965. Be sure to read the captions. Interesting stuff... I did not know this - the federal government owns approximately 85% of the land in Nevada, 69% of Alaska, 57% of Utah and 53% of Oregon... If I believed in conspiracy theories I would suggest that San Francisco is tanking their season on purpose to get Stanford QB Andrew Luck in the draft so that 49er fans can forget that their team took Alex Smith instead of Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 NFL draft.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting and thought I'd share.

- Canada's prostitution laws rules unconstitutional - this could lead to a big bump in tourism and conventions to America's fridge

- Why do giraffes have long necks? Read the link for the long answer. Short answer - nobody really knows. Interesting tidbit - giraffes and human have the same number of vertebrae.

- A partial list of Ben Franklin's inventions.

- Amazing touchdown by high school player called illegal

- Awesome - the auras of Saturn - a false-colored infrared photo from the Cassini spacecraft

- Two More Reasons We Wish We Were at Oktoberfest

- It turns out that the Most Interesting Man in the World is... well... interesting
2011 Red Sox

Wait till next year? Why wait? Let's start thinking about the 2011 Red Sox now. Here's how I see next year's team.

Catcher: I see Victor Martinez as almost a must sign in the offseason. He's said he wants to stay and the Red Sox really don't have any options. My guess is that the Red Sox re-sign both Martinez and Jason Varitek and carry Jarrod Saltalamaccia as a third catcher. John Buck is a long-shot free agent acquisition.

1st Base: The Red Sox are set here with Kevin Youkilis as the regular and if they re-sign Victor Martinez he can be the back-up (plus Saltalamaccia can also play 1st which makes carrying 3 catchers easier to justify).

2nd Base: The Red Sox should also be set here with the return of Dustin Pedroia. Bill Hall or Jed Lowrie as the back-ups.

Short: I'm not a Marco Scutaro fan. He's had 18 errors so don't sell me on his defense. His OPS+ this year is just 89 - so don't sell me on his offense. He'll be 35 next season. Unless there was personality issues - I don't understand why they went with this guy over Alex Gonzalez. Best case next year is Jed Lowrie is the starter and Scutaro is traded to a new location.

3rd Base: I don't think Adrian Beltre will be re-signed. He has Scott Boras as his agent and he also has a preference for the West Coast. If he comes back I'll be happy but skeptical due to his history of only performing during contract seasons. If he doesn't come back then Jed Lowrie is the logical replacement (the free agent pool after Beltre is pretty thin). I could see Lowrie as the starter with Youkilis playing every once and a while.

LF: I would like to see the Red Sox sign Carl Crawford and trade Mike Cameron (probably eating half of Cameron's final year). The Red Sox would most likely be losing Adrian Beltre's and Mike Lowell's contracts so that's $21 million right there to help pay for Crawford. Hopefully Bill Hall will be back to be the reserve.

CF: Jacoby Ellsbury gets another chance to show he's healthy. Ryan Kalish is the back-up.

RF: JD Drew.

DH: Pick up David Ortiz's option and let's see how he does / ages.

Starting Pitching: Pretty set with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Bullpen: I hope the Red Sox trade Jonathan Papelbon. I really don't care what they get in return. I just don't want him back as closer especially at the probable $12 million price tag he'd get through arbitration. I would spend the money in free agency on Rafael Soriano to close (he'd probably cost less than what Papelbon would get through arbitration) with Daniel Bard as his set-up man. If you keep Tim Wakefield as the long relief/ spot starter that leaves four spots (assuming the Sox carry 12 pitchers). It is the bullpen that really needs attention this offseason. Please no more Joe Nelson's or Scott Schoeneweis' this time around. As a suggestion - how about a trade of Jonathan Papelbon for Jonathan Broxton of the Dodgers? Broxton could use a change of scenery and the Dodgers could use a closer.

Conclusion: The top three priorities for the Red Sox this offseason should be:

1. Re-sign Victor Martinez
2. Sign Carl Crawford
3. Trade Jonathan Papelbon / sign Rafael Soriano / rebuild the bullpen

Monday, September 27, 2010

Scary Factoid of the Day

From the Heritage Foundation:
Interest payments on the national debt will triple over the next six years, to approximately $600 billion annually. That’s more than Congress spends on education, energy, transportation, housing, and environmental protection combined—and over half of these payments will go to foreign investors.
This is one reason why November's elections are so important.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

I think President Obama's problems stem from him not being fully understood. I think he should make nightly prime-time speeches so that the American public can get to understand how good the healthcare and stimulus programs are for the poor and middle-class of America. Yeah - that's the ticket!... Looking at Philadelphia's schedule - I think the Eagles are definitely playoff bound and if that's the case then Vick-mania will grow by the week. I don't think Vick can be mistake free in the playoffs though and the Eagles season will likely end with a whimper not a bang... Random Kurt Vonnegut thought for the day - I hope Kim Jong Il has not developed Ice Nine... I wonder how many fantasy football teams have dropped Saints kicker Garrett Hartley.... The Lion King 300 Recut Trailer... Just saying but the Oakland Raiders are 10th in total offense and 4th in defense. They could be a sleeper team - not quite playoff bound but not quite as bad as some may think. This is bad news for the Patriots who hold the Raiders 1st round pick. Unless New England ends up with a marque player like Alabama's Ingram then I think history will show that the Patriots trading Richard Seymour to be the wrong move at the wrong time... Notre Dame is going to KILL Boston College next week. I don't care what the line is - I'm betting the Irish big.... Cool - Stephen Fry Will Portray Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock Holmes 2...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Barney Frank's Rally with Bill Clinton

I just wanted to point out something that is obvious to me but may have slipped by Barney Frank's non-sports-loving staff - today's rally with Bill Clinton in Taunton is basically being held at the same time as the Patriots / Bills game in Foxboro.

I can foresee two potential effects from this scheduling issue; first attendance may be down as football fans stay home to watch the game. If there is a small turnout due to the Patriots game then pundits could misread this as weakness for Frank in his re-election efforts. This could be self-inflicted damage for Frank for not being in touch with the issues that matter to constituents - mainly Patriot football on Sunday afternoons trumping political blowhards.

Secondly, there is the matter of traffic to be considered. If people attending the game are inconvenienced by the traffic caused by Bill Clinton and this rally - then those same motorists could vote Republican in November just out of spite. If the last thing an independent remembers about Barney Frank is that he cause an hour-long traffic jam then Barney's not getting that independent's vote.

The Devil is always in the details.
The Nightmares of Edgar Allan Potato Head



This was an amusing little film. Found via Neatorama.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

If the Vikings lose to the Lions on Sunday - what are the odds of Brett Favre retiring on Monday? 100-1 maybe?... Death by caffeine: how much will kill you? About 100 cups of coffee or 131 cans of Red Bull apparently... Just saying but if the Red Sox sweep the Yankees for the rest of the season then that only puts them 1.5 games back for the Wild Card. Yeah I'm grasping at straws.... On this day in 1911 - ground is broken in the building of Fenway Park. They don't make 'em like they used to... In honor of Goodfellas celebrating the 20th anniversary of its release - here a quiz on the movie. I got 100%... Michael Douglas turns 66 today while Catherine Zeta-Jones turns 41. I find it strange / interesting that they share the same birthday... Led Zepplin drummer John Bohnam died 30-years ago today. In his memory here's Zep playing Kashmir back in 1979.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Woody Paige's Suicide Attempt

Long ago I realized that my mind works differently than most people. Let me say that I find no humor in the suicide of anyone but I will say that I had three thoughts after reading Woody Paige's admission that he had contemplated suicide back in 2002. All three thoughts centered around Woody's plan to join the choir invisible:
The last, desperate, despondent, despicable act was all planned out. The Broncos were playing on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2002, against the 49ers. I would fly into San Francisco the day before, drive up to Napa Valley, enjoy a bottle of expensive red wine and check into a nice inn. The next morning I would head over to the coast and swim out in the Pacific Ocean far enough that I couldn't make it back to the beach.

My death would be termed an "accidental drowning," and my family and few friends would be horrified, but spared the humiliation.
Honesty my first thought was, "That's a pretty good plan." I hoped that Woody didn't unintentionally give anyone ideas.

Just after college I went out to California with my then girlfriend (now wife) to visit her aunt and make a wine country pilgrimage. I was most excited by the idea of swimming in the Pacific Ocean. After picking up the rental car at the airport we went due west so that I could take my dip in the ocean. We arrived at a beach just north of San Francisco and I ran directly into the water.

Then I ran out of the water. It was freakin' cold!

My second thought was that water temperature was a flaw in Woody's plan. I didn't think he'd be able to swim anywhere in water that cold.

My final thought was about Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt whose "term as Prime Minister was brought to an early and dramatic end in December 1967 when he disappeared while swimming at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria, and was presumed drowned." I wondered if old Harold Holt had the same idea as Woody Paige?

As I've said - my mind works differently than most people.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

RIP Leonard Skinner

I know this is yesterday's news - RIP Leonard Skinner.

But posting that gives me the excuse to post this. I know it is wrong but I can't help laughing at that video. I can't even make it half way through without stopping because it makes me laugh so hard.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Flotam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

I blame myself for yesterday's Patriots loss to the Jets. Everything was going great for New England until just before halftime I Tweeted, "8 days from now Rex Ryan's record as head coach will be 11-11. Just a .500 coach - that's all he'll ever be". Bam! The jinx was on. I apologize... 24 Cool College Landmarks... Scary thing about Michigan's close call vs UMass is not only is UMass 1-AA but they were also picked to finish just 5th in their conference... I am not on Facebook and probably never will be. Here's an article that helps explain why... Jose Bautista's explosion of power this year is prompting Joe Posnanski (along with Bill James) to examine the greatest jumps in HR numbers by a player in baseball history. In my mind that has to be Wade Boggs who in 1987 hit 24 HR. Boggs had never hit more than 8 in a season. The next year he hits just 5 in 52 MORE plate appearances. Boggs never approached 24 again... I still think Rex Ryan is nothing but a .500 coach. I don't apologize for that... I'll be watching Boardwalk Empire religiously. A good book if you want to know more about this period of time and the rise of gangsters due to prohibition is The Big Bankroll: The Life And Times Of Arnold Rothstein... Jose Bautista had hit 16 HR in a season so his output this season is just over 3 times his past performance. The reason Boggs should be the number 1 in HR frauds is Boggs tried not to hit HR. He said he hit the 24 just to prove he could do it. Can you think of any player in baseball history who tried not to hit home runs?... Interesting - why the head of a beer, no matter the kind, is always white...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rex "Salmoneus" Ryan

So last night I was finishing up Edith Hamilton's classic Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes and near the end she was describing some minor characters in the Greek Mythology scope of things. That's where I read her description of Salmoneus:
This man was another illustration of how fatal it was for mortals to try to emulate the gods. What he did was so foolish, however, that in later years he was often said he had gone mad. He had pretended that he was Zeus. He had a chariot made in such a way that there was a loud clanging of brass when it moved. On the day of Zeus's festival he drove it furiously through the town, scattering at the same time firebrands and shouting to the people to worship him because he was Zeus the Thunderer. But instantly there came a crash of actual thunder and a flash of lightning. Salmoneus fell from his chariot dead.

The story is often explained as pointing back to a time when weather-magic was practised. Salmoneus, according to this view, was a magician trying to bring on a rainstorm by imitating it, a common magical method.
I read that and I said, "Holy crap - that's Rex Ryan to a tee!"

Rex Ryan is a mortal who has accomplished almost nothing as a head coach but if you paid attention this off season you would think it was he and not Bill Belichick who is sitting at the head of the best coaches in the NFL table. There is much clanging of brass when Ryan moves (from his balls I guess) and salty language serves as his firebrands. He has asked his players to worship him as the man who will lead them to the promised land.

Ryan's hubris could be a type of magic where he is trying to get his players to think they are champions so that a championship could follow. Trying to bring on the rainstorm as it were. People are already calling his methods mad. Bragging only makes his team a target and his lofty expectations may backfire when players like Mark Sanchez can't live up to them.

Unlike Salmoneus, though, Rex Ryan will not perish from a single thunderbolt. His tenure will perish from a series of them. The first of which was delivered by Baltimore last week and the second of which will be delivered today by the New England Patriots.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

International Observe the Moon Night

Tonight is International Observe the Moon Night. I like the moon because it is very close to us.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

So Reggie Bush says that returning the Heisman is not an admission of guilt. So is Reggie Bush now going to write a book called "If I Did It" just like another USC running back?... Heh heh... I doubt Jonathan Papelbon will use the Drop Kick Murphy's Shipping Up to Boston for entrance music next season because I don't think he'll be with the Red Sox... Very sad. UMass band director dies on way to Ann Arbor for today's game. My sympathies and best wishes go out to the family of George Parks... I do not apologize for being happy that the WNBA finals are over. Now we can go months without ESPN jamming the WNBA down our throats... Giant Manta Ray swipes $5k camera rig from diver, shoots some video...

Friday, September 17, 2010

God Help Me

God help me but I still think the Red Sox have a chance to make the playoffs.

The Red Sox are 6 games behind New York but they have 6 games remaining with the Yankees. It would be unreasonable to expect the Red Sox to sweep those games but if they went 4-2 then they pick up 2 games. The Yankees also have 4 games remaining with the Rays. If Tampa Bay was able to go 3-1 in that series then that's another 2 games worth of ground made up.

That puts the race into the margin for error and it looks like the Yankees are feeling the pressure. Beside CC Sabathia there doesn't seem to be a reliable starter on the Yankees' staff. The Yankees could unravel. Epic fail could be in the making.

At least that's what I'm pinning my hopes on.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

NFL Picks

Oakland will be better this year - mainly because they no longer pretend that Jamarcus Russell is an NFL quarterback - and they have an uncanny ability to lose but still cover the spread BUT today the Titans will run all over them. Chris Johnson may get 250 yards rushing. Pick Tennessee -6

Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril should pressure Jay Cutler all day and Jay Cutler does not handle pressure well. If Cutler was a baseball player he would have been Heathcliff Slocumb (so I guess that makes Kyle Orton Derick Lowe and Tim Tebow as Jason Varitek). Pick Detroit +6.5 (buy half a point if you can)

Carolina beat the Giants 41-9 in week 16 last year. Has either team changed that much? Pick Panthers +6.5

I think Cleveland will be much improved this season while Tampa Bay will still be coached by Raheem Morris. Pick Browns +3

Miami is currently a 3 point favorite over the Bills. I know that it seems the Dolphins always have trouble playing in Buffalo but I'd grab this one before the line goes up to 3.5 or 4. Pick Dolphins -3

I can't pick against the Pats and bettors still love Brady in Belichick so much that you always get an extra point or so tacked on the line. Even so - in Brady we trust. Pick New England -5

Big Matt Ryan fan and even though I fear Pittsburgh's defense - I think the Falcons win this one. One a side note I really hope we hear "She said NO!" chants when Rapelesberger returns. Pick Atlanta -1

Dallas always seems to court drama and losing the opener would seem to be the drama that would not be unexpected. So I should pick Washington. But the road team is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 games between these rivals. So I should pick Dallas. But the Cowboys were just 1-2 against teams who run 3-4 defenses last season and Mike Shannahan has put in the 3-4 for the Redskins. So I should pick Washington. But Donovan McNabb couldn't beat Dallas when he was surrounded by more talent last season so why would I expect things to be different today? Pick Dallas -3

Pick Green Bay -3

Pick 49ers -3

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Marcus Camby Inducted into the UMass Hall of Fame

Marcus Camby was inducted in the UMass Hall of Fame. I have no problem with this. Camby was one of the five greatest athletes to ever attend UMass (Dr. J being by far the number one). Yes - his dealings with agents did cause UMass to vacate their 1996 Final Four appearance but it should be noted that the money UMass had to return to the NCAA for that appearance - Camby paid back to the school out of his own pocket.

I don't blame a poor kid falling into the clutches of an agent. I more blame the NCAA who makes millions off the sweat of poor kids like Camby while hypocritically extolling the virtues of amateurism and student athletes. Let the NCAA officials work for housing, food and clothing allowances instead of high six-figure salaries and then I'll give credence to their high mindedness.

All NCAA TV revenue should be taxed. There's no doubt in my mind.
Top Schools of Rock

According to Spinner - here are the top 20 Universities Rated for Their Musical Alumni.

On a local level - UMass is No. 18. Worcester Polytech (WPI) could have made the list for J. Geils and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) could have made the list for Talking Heads but how in the world was the Berklee College of Music in Boston not listed?

Here's a partial list of their alumni - Bruce Cockburn, Paula Cole, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, Melissa Etheridge, Kevin Eubanks of The Tonight Show, Donald Fagen of Steely Dan, Bruce Hornsby, Quincy Jones, Joey Kramer of Aerosmith, Aimee Mann of 'Til Tuesday, Branford Marsalis, John Mayer, Pat Metheny, and prancing pony Billy Squier.

You could make an argument for them being number one. For them not to be on this list at all just says that Spinner is clueless.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Hope everyone had a good long weekend... Michigan plays Notre Dame this Saturday. I cannot recall a time when these two universities played each other as unranked teams... If I'm the Red Sox then I tell David Ortiz that the team will either pick up his 2011 $12.5 million option or give him a 2-year $20 million contract - his choice... ESPN first began broadcasting on this day in 1979... I'm a fan of history but I think the Heisman Trust is making a mistake by taking back Reggie Bush's trophy and leaving the year vacant. You can't tell me that other past Heisman winners didn't get booster cash and gifts. This reminds me of Jose Canseco's MVP award. Some people wanted him stripped of his award because he admitted to steroid use. What about Barry Bonds' awards and other questionable players? Do you strip Canseco and leave it vacant? Give it to second place finisher Mike Greenwell? Baseball is right and just leaving it be and the Heisman Trust would have been wise to have done the same... On this day in 1978 the greatest drummer in Rock and Roll history overdosed and died. Keith Moon - it was always just a matter of time...

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting and thought I'd share.

- Boob Apron (NSFW language but very funny)

- Quiz: Harry Potter Character or Hideous Skin Disease?

- Top 10: Most Overused Poker Terms

- From John Cleese to Jesse Ventura: 12 Celebrity Professors Not sure how much you can trust this list since it doesn't include Peter Weller who is perhaps the most accomplished (academically speaking) celebrity professor of them all
Drama City

If you are a fan of The Wire - then you'll love George Pelecanos' Drama City. You may recognize the name George Pelecanos as one of the writers from The Wire. He was so important to the series that he normally handled the penultimate episode where the most action took place.

I was so colored by The Wire when reading Drama City that I couldn't help but picture the muscled, recently released Lorenzo Brown as Chad Coleman who played Cutty on The Wire. And even though Rachel Lopez was supposed to be half Mexican and half Jewish - I couldn't help but picture half black and half Asian Sonja Sohn who played Detective Kima Greggs.

The book was a quick and enjoyable read. It was tough to put down and when you did put the book down you'd still find yourself thinking about what happens next to the characters. That's the mark of a good author.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Hunter S. Thompson

I was sitting in a cigar bar. It was just me, the bartender and a friend of the bartender (both twenty-somethings). An older guy walks in and orders a Jack and coke. He puts money on the bar but the bartender asks him if he wants to start a tab.

"Sure," says the guy.

"What name should I put on the tab," asks the bartender.

"Hunter Thompson," replied the customer.

The bartender then turns away to walk to the other end of the bar to make the drink. "That went completely over his head," I say to the guy who just shrugs and says, "kids."

The exchange reminded me that I predicted that Hunter S. Thompson would be a forgotten man a few years after his death. Looks like I was right.
Today's Picks

Here's who I "like" in today's college football action.

Notre Dame -10.5 vs Purdue - I have a bunch of friends who will take ND no matter what. I'll root for the Irish but won't put money on the line unless I think they will win. Brian Kelley is the type of coach who will put the hammer down. It will be two or three weeks until the ND lines get out of hand due to the people who bet them no matter what. Enjoy the 14 point plus victory today.

Texas -31 vs. Rice - Mack Brown wants his team to get the confidence they need and he wants to make a statement. It would be no surprise to see Texas win this game by 50 points.

I'll also be rooting for Connecticut and Boston College but no monetary interest will be involved. As an aside - I might also take the over in the Yankees game today. The wind is supposed to be blowing hard out to right field. Could be a HR fest.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Tom Glavine - Symmetrical Man

In 1987 as a 21-year old rookie - Tom Glavine went 2-4 with a 5.54 ERA.

In 2008 as a 21-year veteran - Tom Glavine went 2-4 with a 5.54 ERA.

Strangely symmetrical.
On the Jon Training Indeed



Just a reminder.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

President Obama's Iraq Speech

Close to 13 million people have watched the double rainbow guy's video on YouTube. I wonder if that many people watched President Obama's speech on Iraq last night? If I had to guess - I'd go with the under. Obama overused the TV in his first 100 days and now people are tuning him out.

Let me predict that the pledge to remove all troops in Iraq by the end of next year will prove as empty as the promise to close Guantanamo in the first year of his Presidency. It just won't prove practical. We still have troops in Germany, Japan and Korea. I'm not sure if Obama has a true understanding of history and how these things work.