Thursday, November 29, 2012

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- Awesome time-lapse video of the sky and clouds over a volcanic island.

- Is Joseph Gordon-Levitt going to be the "new" Batman? Cool.

- Fireman Ed is a joke. The Jets should replace him with Lindsey Lohan.

- The Onion names Kim Jong Eun Sexiest Man Alive and China's propaganda organ believes them!

- If each state in the US waged war against each other state - who would win?

- Comparing the murder rates in Mexican states versus various countries.

- Combining two of my favorite things - science and beer: Niels Bohr was given a lifetime supply of beer after winning the Nobel Prize.

What Would It Take to Change Your Mind?

Interesting article from Harvard Business Review but I have to say that if you've gotten to the point where you have to ask, "What would it take to change your mind?" - then you really haven't done your job.

The way I learned and what has stuck with me is the following process when looking at advocating change (a new product or service). This process can be used for just about any new situation though:

1. Ask "What do you have now?" Force the person who you need to make a decision to look at what is currently in place.
2. What do you like about what is in place? Big mistake many make is to assume that just because some people are advocating change that everything about the current system is bad. In many cases there are features of the current system that people really like. They want change but they also want to keep the things that are familiar to them that works.
3. What would you like to change about what is currently in place? This question is the most important because it basically answers why do they want to make a change in the first place. It will also give you the clues to what the important decision factors will be.
4. How did the current system come to be? Why did you choose what is currently in place? This also reveals much about the decision process.

If you properly "qualify" the situation by asking the above questions and craft your proposed solution accordingly - then hopefully you won't need to ask "What would it take to change your mind?"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- Jon Lester for Wil Myers? Alex Speier has an excellent look at the hypothetical (at this point) deal. For the record - if I'm the Red Sox I probably make that trade.

- A's donate one full playoff share to charity. Nice idea by Jonny Gomes and nice gesture by entire A's team.

- Holy crap! That's a bird straight out of a Stephen King horror story. Feathers the size of Samurai swords! Holy crap!

- Nice look at Notre Dame's head coach Brian Kelly's ability to adapt. Of course they forget to mention that everything Brian Kelly knows about football - he learned at Assumption College in Worcester.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Cure - Lullaby

One of my favorite songs by The Cure. You don't hear it much these days.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

I wonder what the updated Vegas odds are of Roger Clemens getting voted into the Hall of Fame. I remember during the summer it was 4-1 that he'd get in on the first ballot and 7-4 that he'd get in on the second ballot.The guy would obviously be a 100% lock without the steroids allegations. It will be interesting to watch... Tom Brady is operating at a level this season that few quarterbacks in history have reached yet he gets very little MVP recognition because we've come to expect this from Brady. Brady is simply unbelievable. Enjoy him while you can... Probably shouldn't write this but I can't be the only person who quietly suspects that film maker Ken Burns may secretly be a woman - can I?...  Bad management - not unions killed Hostess... Interesting stat from SI's Stewart Mandel; of Notre Dame's 12 wins - 9 came against bowl eligible teams. Alabama only had 5 such wins and Georgia just 4... Didn't realize this but Curt Schilling actually had a higher career WAR (76.9) than Jeff Bagwell (76.7). Not reading anything into that - just that it surprised me... The next fuck I give about the Jets "Fireman" Ed will be the first.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- Bad Lip Reading of Twilight. These are always amusing.

- This is why I'm a fan of Mike Leach. Too bad he won't be available to fill the BC job.

- This is so sad - Kevin McHale's daughter passes away at age 23

- Rob Gronkowski buys $1.6 million bachelor pad in Tampa. I had him figured for a South Beach guy.

-  Big Stupid Tommy has his list of his 50 favorite books. I should do a list like this too. Of the books on Tommy's list -I've only read 16 but that number will increase as I take Tommy's recommendations to hear.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

The things you learn on the Internet - according to Mental Floss "During the reign of Elizabeth I, swan was a popular feast dish, especially when stuffed with the carcasses of nine other birds." Nine other birds? Makes a Turducken look kind of whimpy in comparison... Joss Whedon offers 10 tips for good writing...  Yesterday was the 28th anniversary of Doug Flutie's "Hail Mary" pass against Miami. For many guys of my generation that's one of the moments where you'll always remember where you were at the time... Interesting stat - in the last 3-years 21 players entered the NBA draft after just 1 year of college and were taken in the first round. Of those 9 (42%) were from Kentucky... In 1953 the US Army had just 20 divisions while the Soviet Union had more than 200. Because the US didn't have to match the manpower of the USSR those men were able to become the backbone of a boom economy for the US. One of the side benefits of our nuclear bomber program... If the Jets put Tim Tebow on waivers - I wonder how many teams would claim him?...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mark Sanchez is the Assman

New York Jets meet Seinfeld. I really hope someone splices the video of Mark Sanchez getting almost knocked out by his own lineman's ass with the video of Kramer being told that "according to the State of New York - you are the Assman."

For good measure you could splice the video of Frank Costanza saying it was a "one-in-a-million shot doc" with the video of Rex Ryan explaining that Mark Sanchez getting knocked silly by an ass in the face was "a one-in-a zillion play."

Come to think of it - Fusilli Sanchez would be a good nickname for the Jets QB.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Biological Chernobyl

In 1979 about two shot glasses worth of anthrax was released into the air around the Soviet military facility in Sverdlovsk. The deadly biological agent was released due to a filter not being replaced. Around 105 people died because of the anthrax leak. If the wind was right that day the agent could have killed more than 100,000.

Scary history that is not discussed much if at all. Even scarier is the fact that the facility at Sverdlovsk is still open and active.

Good Economic News

Some encouraging reading this Thanksgiving - a blogger who has never been wrong on the economy (according to the Motley Fools) says the economy is now in the best shape since 1997. Wow!

Bill McBride seems like a very interesting guy. Going to add his blog Calculated Risk to the blogroll.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mark Teixeira

It is interesting to note the decline of Mark Teixeira at the plate over the years. Tex may be lucky that A-Rod takes the spotlight off him. Take a look at the numbers:

2008 Age 28 Angels - 1.081 OPS
2009 Age 29 Yankees - .948 OPS (12.3% YR/YR decline)
2010 Age 30 Yankees - .846 OPS (10.8% YR/YR decline)
2011 Age 31 Yankees - .835 OPS (1.3% YR/YR decline)
2012 Age 32 Yankees - .807 OPS (3.4% YR/YR decline)

Teixeira has been declining every year. He's approaching replacement level with his bat. At his rate of decline he'll probably reach replacement level in 2014 but here's the thing (actually three things) - Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter. If he gets off to a slow start in 2014 will his fans or even Yankee management still show him the encouragement he might need to get going? Kevin Youkilis got off to an awful start in 2012 and he really couldn't turn it around till he was shipped out of town. Teixeira is under contract by the Yankees until 2016. He will make $22.5 million per year for every year until his contract expires.

As a Red Sox fan - the cherry on top is the fact that the Angels used the compensation pick from the Yankees for signing Teixeira to draft Mike Trout.

U2 - I Threw a Brick Through a Window

Another lost classic. This song was from 1982 but if it came out today it would be a big hit. Classic guitar from the Edge.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Weird stat - Tony Romo is 21-3 as a starting QB in the month of November. Too bad playoffs are not played before Thanksgiving... I see wild turkeys all the time. I had no idea that they were re-introduced to Massachusetts after I was born... Notre Dame haters will point out that Brian Kelley is lucky he inherited Charlie Weiss' decided schematic advantage on defense... Speaking of the big Notre Dame / USC game - has any other team started as a pre-season number 1 in the polls only to finished unranked? USC looks like they are about to accomplish this dubious feat... Would Reach-Around Elmo be a good fantasy football or band name?... Who knew? There are 293 different ways to make change for a dollar... Fact that really makes you think. Every human originally spent about half an hour as a single cell. If you murder that single cell - do you murder the human?...

I Want This Tie!

I so want one of these ties for Christmas. Normally I hate wearing ties but I think I'd have a lot of fun wearing this one.

Stan the Man Turns 92

Stan Musial turns 92 today. Here's a very good piece on Stan the man and what he means to St. Louis.

Happy birthday Mr. Musial.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting and thought I'd share.

- Airship Ventures grounded by lack of funding. It is my dream to some day own a lighter than air airship. Some day.

- Tom Brady vs Andew Luck - through the eyes of their fathers. Jackie MacMullan is always a great read.

- If you've ever posted anything online then this was awesome.

- The wit here was so dry - possibly my favorite Wikipedia entry ever.

- Unintentionally Consequential. A new economics blog by Lee Bailiff. Good stuff!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Incredible - The Scale of Space

An incredible look at the scale of space from our sun to the our Galaxy.

Some paraphrased facts from the site - it would take a jet 17 years to get to the Sun from Earth and Voyager 1 has gone just 17 light HOURS from Earth.


ESPN NFL Kickoff Goes All Princess Bride

This is just fantastic! I'm guessing that Willaim Goldman - the writer of The Princess Bride probably got a kick out of it since he's a big sports fan.

EDIT: Trey Wingo and Mark Schlereth give the backstory to how this all came together

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blue Jays / Marlins Megadeal

Here's my take on last night's Blue Jays / Marlins megadeal.

Deals like this don't happen in a vacuum. To understand why the deal happened and who would be the winner and loser from this deal you have to understand the surrounding circumstances. The Marlins finished last in the NL East in 2012 with the big contracts of Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and John Buck. Chances are at worst they can finish last without those big contracts. The Blue Jays' record wasn't much better than the Marlins (73 wins vs 69) but you have to understand that GM Alex Anthopoulis just allowed their manager John Farrell to move over to division rival Red Sox. Anthopoulis had to make a big splash to make a run this year because if Farrell leads Boston to a better record than Toronto this year Anthoupilis would be sure to be asked why he allowed Farrell to move on. The Yankees are the Yankees but Blue Jay fans have to ask why division rival Baltimore became a playoff team in the same time frame that Anthopoulis was running the team with Toronto languishing at just 73 wins.

The circumstances were right for a big deal.

The Marlins get back a number of prospects plus potential headcase Yunel Escobar. Trent Rosecrans of CBS Sports has a good rundown of what the Marlins will be getting in the trade. It is entirely possible that someone will sit Escobar down and tell him this could be his last chance to be a name player in MLB. If his head is screwed on straight Escobar could equal Jose Reyes contribution for the Marlins at a much reduced price tag. If Escobar doesn't toe the line - then he's a one year headache. In Buehrle and Johnson the Marlins are losing a total of 62 starts at a little better than league adjusted average ERA - it doesn't sound so impressive when you put it like that does it?

The real gem for the Blue Jays in this deal is Josh Johnson who will be in both the second year after Tommy John surgery and his free agent walk year. That's a recipe for a Cy Young type season in the making. Mark Buehrle is a glorified 3rd started in the AL East and Jose Reyes is a player whose game is based upon speed but who will be playing his home games now on an artificial surface and whose contract will end when he's 34 or 35 years old.

If Johnson wins 20 games next year people will say Anthoupolis won this deal but long term I think this is better for the Marlins. If Vegas set the over / under for wins for Miami at 69 then I'd bet that a combination of misfit toys and young players will actually do better than the high salary 2012 team. Jeff Loria will get lots of heat for this deal but it was the right move for his team (and yes - his pocketbook - not arguing that factor in the deal).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting and thought I'd share.

Congratulations to Robinson Cano - brand new US citizen

- Neil Gaiman's 8 rules for writing. You can't argue with the first rule.

- On November 13th Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence

- Anthony Bourdain isn't pissed at Cadillac - he's pissed at the Travel Channel.

- 11 notable Doctor Who fans. Neil Gaiman gets two mentions today.

Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart

A normal thinking person would probably argue that Mark Sanchez is not the answer for the Jets at QB and that the team has nothing to lose by giving the ball to Tim Tebow. Yet Rex Ryan and those in charge of the NYJ don't seem to be normal thinking people. Too stubborn? Too stupid? Both?

I can't help but keep thinking that Mark Sanchez is no different than fellow USC alumni Matt Leinart except Sanchez was drafted by a team that was determined to sink or swim with their number 1 draft pick while Leinart was drafted by a team run by normal thinking people. Seriously - I bet Matt Leinart wakes up every day thinking "why couldn't I have been drafted by the Jets."

One thing that Tim Tebow doesn't do is turn the ball over. That alone could have meant the difference in a couple of close games for the Jets this season. But instead of going with what will give them the best chance to win - the Jets are sticking with their bonus baby QB. As a Patriots fan - that's just fine with me.

Oh as an aside - I think its funny that that the folks at list Tim Tebow as a tight end (for 2012 season).

Monday, November 12, 2012

History of Science

A little insight into my TV viewing habits - last night I had a choice between a fairly crappy Bears / Texans game and a Band of Brothers marathon on Spike but I ended up watching The History of Science on PBS.

I love Band of Brothers but by now I know the episodes backwards and forwards. The History of Science combines two of my favorite things - history and science. You can watch all six episodes here.

Worth the time. Very well done.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Just a reminder but Rex Ryan needs to go 7-9 this season just to equal the 4-year record the Jets had under Herm Edwards. With today's loss the NYJ are now 3-6. Rex Ryan - worse than Herm Edwards?... 55 things you might not know about the US armed services... With the Red Sox signing David Ross - it will be interesting to see whee Jarrod Saltalamacchia gets traded to. I think Salty could really rake in the NL. Most speculation has him going to the Mets... It would be interesting to compare the records of the schools kids transferred to vs Penn State's record. The grass is not always greened... One side effect of Obama being re-elected - 4 more years of incessant gold commercials on Fox News...

Veteran's Day - In Flanders Fields

Veteran's Day started out as Armistice Day which marked the end of World War I. In Flanders Fields is perhaps the most storied poem coming out of that war. Here's the story behind it:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow      Between the crosses, row on row,   That mark our place; and in the sky   The larks, still bravely singing, flyScarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days agoWe lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,   Loved and were loved, and now we lie         In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:To you from failing hands we throw   The torch; be yours to hold it high.   If ye break faith with us who dieWe shall not sleep, though poppies grow         In Flanders fields.

Friday, November 09, 2012

This Picture - Naked Rain

Naked Rain by This Picture is a forgotten classic (can things from 1991 now be termed classic?).

A great song that you never hear anymore. Most people who hear it for the first time think it is some sort of U2 b-side.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Day

I couldn't think of a more fitting song for the day than Alice Cooper's Elected.

I voted this morning. It took 29 minutes. How long you had to wait to vote is the new finding a great parking spot. Everyone I've seen talking about voting - the first thing they mention is how long it took.

By the way - Alice Cooper supports Mitt Romney. Go Romney 2012!!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Pitt lost to Notre Dame last night and the key play came in OT when all Pitt needed was a field goal to win. The play before the FG try - Pitt for some reason ran the ball right which put the ball on right hash mark. If they ran the ball to the middle then the kicker would have had a straight down the middle kick and we probably would be talking a bout a huge upset this morning... My prediction for what the election Tuesday will look like... After World War I - France banned the word "Verdun" from many new history textbooks. Today the MSM seem to be doing the same with the word "Benghazi"... 147 days till Opening Day... Remember Joe Biden always means what he says... Some day I will die in large part because I eat too much bacon. I am completely at peace with that scenario. Hmmmm bacon.... This is a tremendous story - a MUST READ...

Saturday, November 03, 2012

101 Greatest Movie Villians

Very cool.

I would argue that missing from the montage but could have been included were Captain Hadley from Shawshank, Gary Oldman as both Stansfield in The Professional and as Dracula, Dudley Smith from LA Confidential, and Lee Marvin as Liberty Valance.

Dan Haren

The Angels did not exercise their 2013 $15.5 million option on starting pitcher Dan Haren and instead will be giving him a $3.5 million buy-out making him a free agent. That news comes on the heels of the news that an announced deal that would have sent Haren to the Cubs for Carlos Marmol fell apart at the last minute.

I don't understand this - I don't understand this at all.

First off - Carlos Marmol isn't chopped liver. He's a good reliever with a live arm about to enter his prime (just 29-years old). If the Cubs were willing to give up Marmol then there had to have been other clubs offering something - anything for Haren. By not picking up Haren's option then the Angels get nothing.

I've seen speculation that the Cubs may have been scared off the deal once they saw Haren's medical reports. This could be. Haren does have a bad back but Haren also came back from that bad back to go 3-2 with a 3.07 ERA in September in the middle of a playoff race. That's worth the risk for a team like the Red Sox who have deep pockets but not a deep rotation. 2012 was a bad year for Haren yet his 4.33 ERA for the year would have been the best among Boston pitchers with at least 10 starts. Don't tell me they wouldn't have given up something for Haren.

Could this have been financial? Marmol is on the books for almost $10 million in 2013. But again - by declining the option the Angels still pay the $3.5 million buyout but get nothing in return. This just doesn't make sense.

Friday, November 02, 2012

NYC Marathon

Mike Francesa has a must watch video about the outrage many average New Yorkers feel about the decision to run the New York City Marathon. I agree with him 100%.

The sponsors can't be too happy about this situation. I'm guessing when PowerBar signed on as a sponsor they didn't think they were about to become the official energy bar of the Hunger Games.

Presidential Pardons

If President Obama loses the election one of the most interesting things to watch for will be who he decides to give Presidential pardons to on the way out the door. I'm inclined to believe that President Obama may give Attorney General Eric Holder a blanket pardon. Holder would then become where the buck stops on anything the Administration did that may have been in less than the spirit of the law. Fast and Furious would be the obvious scandal that could stop at Holder's door. In exchange for immunity Holder could take the blame for that. Taking illegal foreign campaign contributions? Holder could step up and say "My bad!" There are any number of examples (and probably many more will see the light of day if Obama loses Tuesday).

Many people have called for Eric Holder's resignation for many years. The President stuck by Holder probably because Holder knew too much. Giving Holder a pardon in exchange for Holder agreeing to take the blame for anything and everything would seem a fair exchange. I'm not sure if the law allows for pardons for crimes that have not been charged yet but hey - when did a little thing like the law stop this Administration?

Just combine the pardon with yet another Executive order - presto chango!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting and thought I'd share.

- 10 of the most beautiful libraries in the US. I love libraries.

- This was an awesome Halloween costume. Part of me worries that the kid is an only child and parents to go to that extreme may be a bit smothering. I hope my concern is unfounded because that was an awesome costume.

- 15 Offbeat holidays in November

- Will Middlebrooks and the Red Sox. More like him please.

Red Sox 2013 Starting Pitching

Gordon Edes has a good look at the options available to the Red Sox for their 2013 starting rotation.

Its interesting that Edes doesn't view Alfredo Aceves as a persona non grata with the Red Sox and actually considered him a viable option for the starting rotation. I would think John Farrell would be best served eliminating any headache players from 2012 with Aceves at the top of the list. Aceves is still under team control and will probably only cost a little more than $2 million in arbitration - I'd be dangling him in trade talks.

Also interesting that he doesn't even mention Vincent Padilla as an option. Padilla would be relatively inexpensive to keep and did average more than a K per inning in 2012. He came into town with a bad reputation but he was a solid citizen whose stock with fans went way up as he was one of the only players to attend Johnny Pesky's funeral.

If the Red Sox keep John Lackey then they would have a rotation of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Dubront and Lackey. If that's the case then they have a number of young arms that could step up to be the number 5 starter or fill in if there are any significant injuries.

My preference would be to trade away John Lackey and bring in either Dan Haren or Cliff Lee (if the Phillies are looking to move his contract). Fangraphs has a very good look at Haren whose option may not be picked up by the Angels. It should be noted that 2012 was a bad year for Haren but his 4.33 ERA still would have been the better than any Red Sox starter with more than 10 starts last season.