Monday, February 29, 2016

Top 5 - George Kennedy Roles

George Kennedy has passed away at the age of 91. Here's what I consider his Top 5 movie roles.

1. Cool Hand Luke - Dragline
2. The Naked Gun - Ben Hocken
3. The Dirty Dozen - Maj. Max Armbruster
4. The Eiger Sanction - Ben Bowman
5. Airport - Joe Patroni

Something that may only interest me - of the actors to play major roles in the 1967 movie The Dirty Dozen only Jim Brown, Trini Lopez, Clint Walker, and Donald Sutherland survive.

Linky Links

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

- Where do we find men such as Edward Byers Jr?

- The sad tale of what concussions have cost a 41-year old ex-hockey goon.

- How Gawker tricked Donald Trump

- The palace built by a postman - using stones he found on his route. Cool Idea. I'd like to buy a plot of land and do this some day.

- Cool - winners of the 2016 World Press Photo Contest

- 12 tales of accidental brilliance in science

Hubble's Blue Bubble

I'm fascinated with things like Hubble's Blue Bubble. Just awesome!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Let me state what should be obvious - Donald Trump is a dangerous clown. I'm voting for Marco Rubio... Heh heh - Jeremy Roenick needs to hit the gym... Carl Soderberg has 42 points and a -5 plus/minus for the Avalanche while his replacement in Boston, Ryan Spooner, also has 42 points and a -4 plus/minus but at a much lower pricetag. Nice roster move by the Bruins... Heh heh... Really surprised by this - Troy Tulowitzki ranks first in MLB history in fielding percentage by a shortstop. Ahead of people like Omar Vizquel!... Maybe Ted Cruz really is the Zodiac Killer... Charlie Pierce writes that name Reince Preibus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, must be an anagram for something. But what? Scribe ruin pee? Be epic insurer? Inscribe rupee? Inquiring minds want to know!... Heh heh... If I had a science / physics blog I would call it Particle Man after the They Might Be Giants song... Heh heh - Bruce Springsteen shouts out Pittsburg (in Cleveland)...

The Last Episode of MASH

On this date in 1983 - the last episode on MASH was aired. I missed it. And I have never seen it since.

I had to work that night in 1983 at my first "real" job. Sure I had paper routes and a job as a busboy before but my job at Arby's was my first job with a real paycheck that took out taxes and everything. I was kinda bummed at missing the show because I knew everyone would be talking about it but there were so many articles the next day that I knew every plot turn anyway. Father Mulchahy deaf - check. Klinger married - check. Hawkeye crazy - check. See no need to ever watch it.

When Wayne Rogers left - he took the funny with him. All that was left was "preachy" and even at my tender age in 1983 - I was all full up on preachy. Still am.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Happy Birthday Ralphie

Today is Ralph Nader's 82nd birthday and I for one would like to wish him a happy birthday and thank him once again for taking those votes away from Al Gore in the 2000 election. Nader got 3% of the vote nation-wide and who knows how many votes in the closely contested (to put it mildly) Florida vote.

Thanks Ralphie. Don't hold your breath for a birthday card from Al Gore though.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Atlas, The Next Generation of Robots

Holy Crap! I for one welcome our robot overlords!

The History of Business Cards

When playing cards (i.e. ace, king, queen, etc) started being produced in England centuries ago - the backs were left blank because the printing technology was not quite to the point where a uniform back could be printed at a reasonable cost. This blank space on the backs of "cards" was a convenient place to write notes and it became very common for a "caller" to leave a note on a card if the person they were visiting was away. Thus you could stop by someones house and leave your "calling card" with all your pertinent information if the person was out.

Card players weren't fond of that blank space on the back of cards because it made it fairly easy to cheat by marking the cards and so according to Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling, "In the 1830s, London printer Thomas de la Rue devised a new process of aligning colors that enabled him to print patterned backs." From that point on cards had a uniform colored back to go with the front which told you which card you held. By then, however, people had grown so used to leaving cards that they often had "calling cards" specifically printed up and it was just a short step away then to our modern business cards.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

So Hitler may or may not have had a deformed micro penis. If he did have one it would go a long way to explain the intense hatred of a group of people who require cutting off a piece of a male's member to join the club... Heh heh... Generally fat shaming is wrong - but not when it comes to millionaire athletes like Pablo Sandoval... US Navy aircraft carriers are the greatest guarantors of the peace but are they now a liability in war?... I've become addicted to The Great War channel on YouTube...  Heh heh... Hard to believe but video game Legend of Zelda just turned 30 over the weekend... In the Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds - I always thought the lyric was "the girl with Colitis goes by" but it actually is "girl with kaleidoscope eyes". My bad... I WOULD LOVE TO SEE THIS HAPPEN!... Just saying but I'd support a law that required male porn actors to wear those fake Groucho nose and glasses. Nobody wants to see their faces... THIS MIGHT BE EVEN MORE FUN TO WATCH! ... There should be a documentary about racism in Hollywood. It could be called Brown and Out in Beverly Hills...

Monday, February 22, 2016

Linky Links

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

- Drinking more coffee may undo liver damage from booze! My coffee in the morning - beers at night lifestyle is validated once again! Science!

- Insightful - Gregg Popovitch on what the San Antonio Spurs look for in an employee. No wonder they have been so successful.

- Heh heh

- Interesting - could the Saudi Kingdom be on the verge of collapse?

- The promise of nuclear power

- Six extinctions in 6 minutes (actually video is 8 minutes long)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Apple vs the FBI

This is amusing. The FBI wanting backdoor access to people's phones is not.

When it comes to encryption - I agree with John Ashcroft 100%. That was written in 1998 - so don't give me the "war on Terror" argument either. The government should not have "keys" to your phone any more than the government should have keys to your home.

It's really that simple.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

100th Anniversary of the Battle of Verdun

Tomorrow marks the the 100th anniversary of one of the events that changed the world forever. On February 21st in 1916 - the Battle of Verdun was begun. The battle was to change the course of Western Civilization. 

The idea for the battle was from German Chief of Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn. He believed that if he could take-out France with a major set battle and discourage England to a point that Germany could be in a position to negotiate very favorable terms. To accomplish his goals - Falkenhayn proposed unrestricted submarine warfare to starve Britain and a knockout blow against France at Verdun. With this major battle at Verdun, Falkenhayn hoped to "bleed France white".

It was an ambitious plan - an aggressive plan. Falkenhayn knew that to attack at Verdun he'd have to take resources away from the Eastern Front and that unrestricted submarine warfare ran the risk of bringing the U.S. into the war. Falkenhayn reasoned that Russia was on the brink of revolution and internal civil war in Russia would allow them to take those resources from the Eastern Front and that the decisive blow to France would come before the US was dragged into the war. He was right on the former but wrong on the latter.

Verdun seemed the perfect place to attack. It actually jutted out into the German lines - so it could be attacked from three sides. It was also of historical and psychological significance to Frenchmen (somewhat akin to what the Alamo is to Americans).

The job of attacking Verdun fell to German Crown Prince Wilhelm. He planned to assault the town from both side of the surrounding Meuse River but that plan vetoed by Falkenhayn. After coming up with a daring, aggressive plan - Falkenhayn was suddenly cautious. Falkenhayn ordered the attack to be confined to one side of the river. Similar to a poker game, Falkenhayn was beaten on the river. Falkenhayn had pocket Aces of a plan but he failed to put enough chips at risk to drive the other player out. By not being aggressive when he should have he gave France free cards and allowed himself and Germany to literally be beaten on the river.

With so many people who eventually died in the battle, a poker analogy may seem flip but the fact is the Germans had one million troops against 200,000 defenders. They did hold Aces before the battle.

When the attack finally began, the Germans bombarded Verdun with 1,400 guns that rained Verdun with 100,000 shells every hour. The Germans failed to immediately follow up the bombardment with an full-scale infantry attack and what resulted was a stalemate which was to last for months and months.

The dead and wounded from both sides piled up so that both countries were being "bled white". The French begged Britain to open up a diversionary attack elsewhere on the Western Front to drain resources and men away from Verdun on the German side. Thus the Battle of the Somme was born. 

By the time the battle of Verdun ended almost one million casualties had been inflicted in roughly equal numbers for both sides. The Battle of the Somme resulted in about 1.1 million casualties (about 400,000 British, 200,000 French and 500,000 German). The unrestricted submarine warfare resulted in the Americans being dragged into the War (remember that President Woodrow Wilson was elected on a peace platform). The American joined the fight just as both sides were literally exhausted from being "bled white" from Verdun and the Somme and the rest is history (including the harsh terms imposed on Germany that led to the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party).

I just wanted to make sure an anniversary this important to the course of Western Civilization did not pass without proper mention.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Top 5 - Red Sox Questions

Spring Training is finally here and a boy's thoughts turn to baseball (and sun dresses). Here's my top 5 questions regarding this year's Red Sox team.

1. Hanley Ramirez at 1st base? Do I need to say more? (I'm actually pulling for Hanley.)
2. David Price - will he be the first Boston pitcher with 20-wins since Josh Beckett back in 2007? Has it really been that long since the Red Sox had a 20-game winner?
3. Pablo Sandoval - the Panda is lucky that Hanley Ramirez was more of a hot mess last season otherwise more people would be pissed. He was awful last year and I for one would rather see Travis Shaw get a shot. Now Sandoval wants to get back to switch hitting? He's just trolling us.
4. There are lot's of questions about the rotation so I'm just going to lump them into one. Will Buchholz remain healthy? Will Rick Porcello and Joe Kelly be able to maintain the groove they both seemed to get into at the end of last season? Will Eduardo Rodriguez be able to make the next step up in class?
5. Is there a spot for knuckleballer Steven Wright? I don't know why but I have a soft spot for him. Will he be the long-reliever / spot starter or will be catch on with some team as a 5th starter? I hope he catches a break somewhere. Doesn't even have to be with Boston.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Linky Links

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

- Sad - David Milch is broke because of his gambling addiction. Makes you wonder if the proposed Deadwood movie is just a money grab on his part.

- Heh heh

- Gary Sinise is the man

- Paul Pierce - if the 76ers picked me they would have two championships by now

- Who knew? Bill James is both a great writer and a fan of The Simpsons

Top 5 - Authors Whose Books were Made into Movies

This list was prompted by nothing in particular.

1. Stephen King
2. John Grisham
3. Michael Crichton
4. William Goldman
5. (tie) Peter Benchley (tie) Mario Puzo

Nicholas Pileggi almost made the list.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Origin of the Term "Lynch"

When most people hear the word “lynch” they think of angry mobs with shouts of “string ’em up”. Or they think of white men in white hoods hanging a black man from a tree. If legend holds – then the origin of the term “to lynch” is nowhere near today’s meaning.

Back in the Old Country of Ireland, back in the days when Spain and England were the world’s biggest powers, the Spanish decided to try to settle things with the English in one fell swoop. So they sent out almost their entire navy – the Spanish Armada as it came to be known – to do battle with the English.

The weather proved to be against the Spanish fleet and their commander made the tactical error of bringing the fight into the narrow straight between England and Ireland where the smaller, faster English ships had a distinct advantage. The result was a rout and many of the proud ships of the Spanish fleet were sunk in the Irish Sea.

Many Spanish sailors were able to make it to the safety of the shores of Ireland where they found welcome. The Irish and the Spanish had much in common (specifically their Catholic faith and hate of England). Many Spanish sailors settled in Ireland where their dark hair and complexion can still be seen today (descendants of the Spanish gave rise to the term “Black Irish” in reference to the common feature of black hair).

One such sailor found refuge in the sea-side city of Galway. 

The Mayor of Galway was a well respected and much loved man named Lynch. He brought this sailor into his home where he became like a brother to the Mayor’s true son.

Tragically the sailor and the Mayor’s son fell in love with the same woman. One thing led to another and in a fit of jealous rage the Mayor’s son killed the Spanish sailor.

An investigation led to the truth and the Mayor’s son was found guilty of murder. The punishment was to be death by hanging.

Now because the mayor was so well loved and respected – no one could be found that would be willing to act as executioner. With nobody to act as executioner – the job fell to the Mayor himself. Out of respect for the law and in order not to break his oath to the people to uphold his sworn duties – Mayor Lynch had to put to death his own beloved son.

The term Lynch originally meant "brought to justice no matter what the personal cost." Now you can see how far from the original meaning we have come.

Lousy, stinking, lustful Spanish sailors! It’s all their fault!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Stephen King on Hockey

I found this quote from Stephen King amusing:
Here’s what I understand about hockey: Bulky men wearing helmets and carrying sticks in their gauntleted hands skate around for a while on my TV; then some guy comes on and sells trucks. Sometimes chicks come on and sell beer.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day Linky Links

- A-Rod wishes you a happy Valentine's Day

- Santa shares his thoughts about Valentine's Day

- The United States as a Valentine's Day card

- Today's not just Valentine's Day - it is also the Anniversary of Oregon joining the Union as the 33rd state in 1859

Teddy Roosevelt - Not a Fan of Valentine's Day

That's an image of Teddy Roosevelt's diary from February 14, 1884. The day both his beloved wife and his mother died. I'm guessing that Roosevelt was not a fan of February 14th. That make's it ironic that one of the most popular gifts on Valentine's Day are Teddy bears - which of course were named after Roosevelt.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Las Vegas High Roller

A couple was arrested for having sex on the Las Vegas High Roller. I say they shouldn't have been arrested - they should have been applauded. What happens on the Vegas High Roller - should stay on the Vegas High Roller.

Let me explain - I've ridden the High Roller and it is a colossal waste of time. The ride doesn't bring you as high or give you better views of the city as some other locations in town such as the bar on top of the Rio (the best place in Vegas to watch the sunset) or the revolving bar at the top of the Stratoshpere Hotel. This "ride" is doomed for failure. Unless...

Create a Wedding Chapel near where you buy tickets for the ride and create a Marriage Bliss Package that includes a wedding plus a ride on one of the special Conjugal Cars. These cars would have shades that could be drawn during the roughly 30 minute ride (or the shades could be left open for more adventurous couples willing to share their love with the world). A wedding and consummation package all in one! Charge the couple the full occupancy rate for the ride. It really is the only way this dumb ride will survive financially.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Saw the movie Deadpool last night. Exactly what I expected. Really enjoyed it. Leave the young kids at home... So true... Hollywood is so out of new ideas that they are considering screenplay for Brawny Paper Towel Guy: Origin Story... Cool - "discovering" "new species" in existing museum collections (long read)... I would be more excited for the Chinese New Year if it was the year of the Flying Monkey instead... 22-years ago today... I refuse to believe that Nicolas Cage was the original first choice to play Aragon in the Lord of the Rings trilogy... Pretty frank and sobering look at Washington DC EMS and how public service unions may be literally killing people... Calvin and Hobbes meets The Force Awakens...

Friday, February 12, 2016

Why I Blog

This touching post about a woman retracing her deceased husband's digital steps hit home. It made me think about why I have this blog in the first place. This blog is NOT for YOU the READER. This blog is for first and foremost for ME. (Although I do hope you find some enjoyment sharing my thoughts and interests.)

Let me explain.

Many times I write a post because if I don't put a particular thought down - it will keep circling my brain to the point of distraction. Writing the thought down allows my brain to say "OK on to the next thing". Plus I will also jot down occasional thoughts because if I didn't they would be lost to the ephemeral nature of life. With these little gems jotted down I can look back at posts from years ago and experience them as if they were new.

I will also sometimes note things which I found interesting or amusing during my day. Or document trips or experiences I might have had. My own personal digital time capsule. I can see a post from five years ago and it will spark memories about where I was in my life, what my kids were doing and many other feelings that might have otherwise been lost. These memories are precious to me.

That's why I blog. Maybe you should blog too. It's great therapy.  

Gravitational Waves

Albert Einstein proved correct once again!

The discovery from the MIT point of view. Link includes fantastic video that explains both the discovery and how the LIGO project came to be.

Gravitational waves explained (via a cartoon).

Someone familiar with the players at Cal Tech gives some background on their history of the project.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Top 5 - Things I Want to See in Boston Sports

If I had my way - here's the Top 5 things I'd like to see in Boston Sports (knowing that most of these might not happen):

1. I would have Tom Brady file both a $200 million defamation suit against Roger Goodell and the NFL AND file a $200 lawsuit against Roger Goodell personally for creating a Hostile Workplace.

2. Brad Stevens is half-way through his 6-year contract and I think it is time to extend him for another 4-years for a total of 10-years. A long term commitment to Stevens sends a message to both existing players and also to NBA free agents (the job Stevens does in Boston hasn't gone unnoticed by the players on other teams).

3.  Have the Patriots target free agent running back Matt Forte as a number one priority. I know the offensive line has to be the first problem to be addressed but Forte as a pass catching bruising running back would be such a great weapon in the New England offense.

4. Speaking of the offense line - bring back Dante Scarnecchia as the offensive line coach (looks like this is actually happening).

5. Move the Pawtucket Red Sox to Worcester.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

I think Carolina rolls today but I'm not betting on the game. The Broncos in the NFL (like Syracuse in NCAAF) always seem to find a way to screw me when I bet on or against them... This is actually an excellent idea... I saw this picture and I was curious who the woman was who was Wonder Woman's stunt double. Turns out Jeannie Epper has had quite an illustrious film and TV career (though only one episode of Wonder Woman)... "Cthulhu doesn't play dice with the universe" - Albert Einstein... If you've seen The Force Awakens this is awesome...  I always assumed Bob Feller had already been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Feller's patriotism made Ted Williams feel like a pussy for crying out loud. Sign the petition!!... Heh heh - "I got some new underwear today. Well, new to me" - Emo Phillips... Wasn't this basically the plot to Carl Hiassen's Skinny Dip? Really surprised Skinny Dip hasn't been made into a movie... Not only was Richard Nixon the only sitting President to attend the Kentucky Derby - he was also the only President to meet both Elvis and RoboCop... 11 days till pitchers and catchers report to spring training!...

Budweiser Upside-down Clown

My favorite Super Bowl commercial of all-time. It only ran once because it was so disturbing (and funny).

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Iowa Caucus 2020

I am starting to become obsessed with the idea of running for President in 2020. It's not like I have a burning desire for politics or a giant ego that needs to be stroked. It's just that I'm pretty sure I could do better than Martin O'Malley's 0.6% of the vote.

Seriously - you should be able to convince enough strangers to vote for you as a favor or as a joke to do better than 0.6% of the vote. My real goal would be to fall between the 1.8% Mike Huckabee got and the 4.5% Rand Paul got. That should be enough votes to earn at least a single delegate. Me and that lucky delegate would party our asses off at the National Convention.

My platform would be simple and straightforward. "I'm a regular guy running for office because I want to send the message of bringing common sense and fairness back to politics." That's my whole platform. Oh - and I would always ask for the order. I would shake people's hand, look them in the eye and not let go until they promised to vote for me come caucus day.

The federal regulations allow a candidate to pay themselves the same salary as the office they are seeking. So I could potentially pay myself up to $400,000 for running for President. Time to line up some heavy duty sponsors!

Lynch 2020. I have to start working on the bumper stickers.