A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My Fantasy Football League Preview Edition

In a blatant and totally self-serving attempt to boost readership, I am including my annual post-draft preview of my fantasy football league here, and here only. All the folks in the league have to come here to read my erudite pearls of fantasy football wisdom. Or something. For those that don't care about fantasy football... well, try reading anyway. There may be some funny bits stuck in there from time to time. And if you want to see the team rosters to make your own observations and comparisons, please feel free-- they can be found here.

Right. Here goes:

The Update’s Annual Post-Draft Pre-Season Antibellum Analysis.

Okay, it’s not really antibellum. But that’s not my fault-- it’s just really hard to write a column for the year 2005 in the years preceding the Civil War. And if I could travel back to the mid-19th Century South, would I really bother writing about my fantasy football league’s draft?

I think not.

Anyway. Here’s the annual roundup of the draft, ranking each team as I see ‘em, which usually means very little except that the team I pick to finish last will make the playoffs and, quite likely, take home the title. Oh, and the team I like the best will be scrambling to avoid the Barrel Bowl.

Right. Write. Onwards then in alphabetical order of team name (owner in paranthesis):

Barkeeps (Tony Luther)
Projected Opening Day Lineup: J.P. Losman, Priest Holmes, Thomas Jones, Terry Glenn, Reche Caldwell, and Eric Johnson.

Quality Backups: Drew Brees, Michael Bennett.

Possible Steals: Holmes, Tyrone Calico, Troy Williamson

Final Analysis: Tony always drafts RBs in the first three rounds. Always. This year, he one- upped himself taking RBs in the first four rounds. And yet, he still has questions at RB. He did not get Larry Johnson to back up Holmes (had to take a TE instead-- something about actually starting one of those), Michael Bennett is risky at best as your third back, and Tatum Bell in the second may wind up being the worst selection of the entire draft. J.P. Losman in the fifth was quite odd, considering Carson Palmer, Matt Hasselbeck, David Carr, Kerry Collins, Brett Favre and Jake Plummer were all taken later. I will be surprised if Losman outperforms more than two of those gentlemen. Taking RBs and QBs in rounds 1-5 leaves you a tad thin at WR-- especially when you take a TE in round 6. Terry Glenn is the first WR taken? Ick. Caldwell and Calico could be okay, and one of eiter Marcus Robinson or Troy Williamson could emerge as the #2 guy in Minnesota, but... boy, overall this is a weak group of WRs. In Holmes and Thomas Jones/Cedrick Benson, Tony has one of the best starting backfields in the league-- but he is weak at every other position except, maybe, tight end. If Holmes can put up 13-15 points a week, Tony will win some games... but there are an awful lot of question marks here.

Projected Finish: 5-8.

Centurions (Adam Freitag)
Projected Opening Day Lineup: Marc Bulger, Edgerrin James, DeShaun Foster, Eddie Kennison, Eric Moulds and Ben Watson.

Quality Backups: Chris Brown, Mushin Muhammad.

Possible Steals: Brown (3rd), Muhammad (7th), Watson (15th)

Final Analysis: I did not have James pegged at #2 overall, and I likely would have taken Holmes, but I don’t think Adam will be disappointed with Edge’s output by any means. Foster and Brown make a nice 2-3 punch at RB, though I remain skeptical that either of them will play in even 80% of their games, much less all of them. I think Muhammad might actually be pretty good now that the Bears have jettisoned Hutchinson. Ben Watson was a bargain in the 15th and actually the guy I was going to take that round. RBs in the first 3 rounds limits your WR options, but Moulds and Muhammad should be serviceable. Whether they will be good enough to get Adam to the playoffs or just keep him around mediocre... well, time will tell. I like Bulger in the mid-4th, and Adam played some serious vulture ball with the number of backup RBs he selected.

Projected Finish: 6-7.

Chocolate Foam (Jim Ulrich)
Projected Opening Day Lineup: Trent Green, Domanick Davis, Fred Taylor, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Dallas Clark.

Quality Backups: T.J. Alphabet, Bobby Engram, Brandon Lloyd.

Possible Steals: Fred Taylor, T.J. Alphabet, Frank Gore.

Final Analysis: Jimbo stuck to his belief in Domanick and made him #3 overall. A bold pick. I probably would have taken Holmes (still having trouble wrapping my head around him falling to #6). Taylor is a bargain at #26 if he can stay healthy. Not a small if. Green at the top of 5 was nice, and, not surprisingly, the Foam is well stocked at wide receiver. If Barlow continues to blow and Gore turns out to be the guy in SF, the Foam are set at RB-- if not, there is precious little behind Taylor and Davis. There were better backup QBs than Roethlisberger available-- something I know Jim knows, yet I had to mention simply because... well, I wanted to. Overall, this team should do well if the starting RBs put up anything like their career averages.

Projected Finish: 8-5.

Diamond Boys (Frank Cartwright)
Projected Opening Day Lineup: Donovan McNabb, Julius Jones, Rudi Johnson, Nate Burleson, Reggie Wayne, Jermaine Wiggins.

Quality Backups: Jerome Bettis, Plaico Burress, Derrick Mason.

Possible Steals: Burleson, Bettis, Burress, Mason.

Final Analysis: I pick last again! Ugh... I pick 13th! Other than ripping on me for being slow-- which was pretty much universal and well-deserved-- that’s about all we heard out of Frank this year. Despite his horrible, horrible draft position-- hear that? World’s smallest violin-- Frank put together a pretty solid looking squad. Jones and Johnson are a solid 1-2 RB punch, and Bettis and/or Kevin Faulk provide decent depth at the critical RB spot. Burleson and Wayne should both be in the 1200-1400 range, and Wiggins could be even better than last year with Culpepper spreading the ball around more.

Projected Finish: 7-6.

Dimestick Cowboys (Cedric “CJ” Tate)
Projected Opening Day Lineup: Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander, Carnell Williams, Andre Johnson, Chris Chambers, Randy McMichael.

Quality Backups: Lee Suggs, Eric Parker, Tom Brady.

Possible Steals: Suggs, Matt Jones.

Final Analysis: Nothing wrong with Alexander in the five hole, but Cadillac Williams coming back around in the 2nd seemed a reach. Especially since there were established quality RBs still available, and he didn’t get Pittman later. If Suggs recovers fully and can stay healthy, however, he may make CJ forget all about Cadillac. I’m not a big Andre Johnson fan, but if he’s going to be huge, this would be the year. Chambers could also break out if Miami finally has a QB that can get the ball to him. And what was up with taking Amani Toomer in the 4th? Yikes. That’s a great pick five years ago. Maybe even three years ago. This year? Not so much. But maybe Cedric knows something the rest of us don’t.

Projected Finish: 4-9.

Fearsome Canines (Scott Craine)
Projected Opening Day Lineup: Carson Palmer, Ladanian Tomlinson, Ronnie Brown, Chad Johnson, Ashley Lelie, Antonio Gates.

Quality Backups: Larry Fitzgerald, Kurt Warner.

Possible Steals: Warner, Labrandon Toefield.

Final Analysis: If Fred Taylor gets hurt, not that unlikely, Toefield could be the man. Which would be cool, since Toefield is such a rocking name. But I digress. I don’t buy the Palmer hype quite as much as others. Top 10, maybe, but I don’t see top 5. L.T. is LT. No worries. Brown and Ricky Williams should provide good production at the #2 RB spot, and Johnson and Lelie are very good and good respectively. Gates could make his case for being the best TE in the league this year... or he could schlub around not that he has a long-term deal. I suspect the former is more likely than the latter, so the Canines could be primed for another playoff run. There’s not a ton of depth here, however, so while the starters look good, the long road of attrition that is the NFL could play havoc with Scottie’s group.

Projected Finish: 7-6.

Hairballs (Nick Weber)
Projected Opening Day Lineup: Jake Plummer, Jamal Lewis, Warrick Dunn, Randy Moss, Steve Smith, Doug Jolley.

Quality Backups: Donald Driver, Brandon Stokley, Marshall Faulk.

Possible Steals: Plummer, Samie Parker.

Final Analysis: If Lewis is healthy, and stays that way, this is a powerful lineup. Plummer is the new Trent Green-- no respect, but he puts up great numbers week in and week out. Especially in this league, where TDs and interceptions matter not a whit. Moss and Smith and Jolley are all somewhat of a question mark, but all should produce most excellently. Hey, Frank, since you think Steve is only the third best Smith, how about you give me 10-1 odds that he outscores both Rod and Jimmy this year? I like the guy, and with Muhammad gone, I see no reason why he won’t put up huge numbers this year. If not, Driver or Stokley will.

Projected Finish: 6-7.

Knights Who Say Ni (Rod Morgan)
Projected Opening Day Lineup: Michael Vick, Deuce McAllister, J.J. Arrington, Terrell Owens, Kerry Colbert, Todd Heap.

Quality Backups: Mewelde Moore?, Kevin Curtis, Travis Taylor.

Possible Steals: Kevin Curtis, Travis Taylor, Todd Heap.

Final Analysis: Hmm… McAllister is playing for a team with no home, Arrington plays for a team that has no offensive line, Owens plays for a team that doesn’t like him, and Heap hasn’t actually played for a team in nearly a year. To say that the Knights have a few question marks is to redundantly state the already overly obvious. Or something. Still, Vick is explosive—perhaps for the Knights if he gets himself broke—and the Deuce may well be loose. I dunno, this team could go anything from 4-9 to 10-3.

Projected Finish: Between 3-10 and 11-2? No? Okay: 7-6.

Metal Mayehm (Steve Peters)
Projected Opening Day Lineup: Daunte Culpepper, Kevin Jones, Kevan Barlow, Darrell Jackson, Anquan Boldin, L.J. Smith.

Quality Backups: William Green, Larry Johnson, Greg Lewis.

Possible Steals: Larry Johnson, William Green, Deion Branch.

Final Analysis: Not bad. Not bad at all for a rookie. Of course, Steve has been involved in many other fantasy football leagues prior to joining us, but it’s still an adjustment going to yardage only. I think Kevin Jones might be a bit overrated, mostly because he’s a Lion, but there’s nothing wrong with him and Culpepper in the first 2 rounds. Kevan Barlow, however, could be this team’s undoing—or he could push them into the playoffs. He’s an enigma wrapped in a conundrum inside… well, he’s a mystery. My personal feeling is he sucks, but I could be wrong. If he does, William Green may fill in nicely for a while, and Larry Johnson may turn to gold if Priest Holmes’ recent injury history is any guide.

Projected Finish: 6-7.

Motor City Cheeseheads (Bill Hitt, et al.)
Projected Opening Day Lineup: Peyton Manning, Willis McGahee, Reuben Droughns, Marvin Harrison, Hines Ward, Jason Witten.

Quality Backups: Jimmy Smith, Byron Leftwich, Michael Pittman(?).

Possible Steals: Antwaan Randle El, Droughns.

Final Analysis: Welcome to the league, rookie. Actually, all of these boys have been in other leagues, and they did alright. Thin, with questions, at running back, but they are far from unique in that. I like McGahee a lot, and Manning is awesome, though a bit less so in our league where all those TDs count for naught. If any of the RBs besides McGahee step up, the Cheeseheads could compete for the playoffs. If not… well, they may be struggling to avoid the Barrel Bowl.

Projected Finish: 6-7.

Posts (John Malmquist)
Projected Opening Day Lineup: Kerry Collins, Corey Dillon, Mike Anderson, Roy Williams, Jerry Porter, Tony Gonzalez.

Quality Backups: Lamont Jordan, Willie Parker, Keenan McCardell.

Possible Steals: Willie Parker, Patrick Ramsey.

Final Analysis: The Posts are in the enviable position of having excess running backs. They may be the only team in the league to be in that position. That said, there are questions at wide receiver. But the TE position is superb, and the QB should be good to excellent. Overall, the Posts start a talented first 6 and have the best RB depth in the league—which is often enough to propel a team all the way to the championship. Now, if they weren’t such friggin’ deadbeats.

Projected Finish: 8-5.

Renaissance Men (Russ Alm)
Projected Opening Day Lineup: Aaron Brooks, Brian Westbrook, Ahman Green, Joe Horn, Santana Moss, Jeb Putzier.

Quality Backups: Duce Staley, David Carr, Dante Stallworth.

Possible Steals: Staley, Carr, Putzier.

Final Analysis: There are a lot of Saints on this team, and given the mess that is New Orleans right now, I’m not sure that any of them are going to produce as well as they otherwise would have. I like the combo of Westbrook and Green, and Moss could thrive if Ramsey is rejuvenated as I hear he is. We’ll see. Putzier could push Witten for the third best TE in the game. Overall, good balance, and Staley will eventually see playing time, so there’s some depth at RB as well.

Projected Finish: 8-5.

Snowmobilers (Dave Craine)
Projected Opening Day Lineup: Jake Delhomme, Tiki Barber, Steven Jackson, Drew Bennett, Michael Clayton, Alge Crumpler.

Quality Backups: Najeh Davenport, Lee Evans, Justin McCareins.

Possible Steals: Evans, Clayton, Robert Ferguson.

Final Analysis: Every year I don’t like Dave’s team and every year they kick ass. Why break with tradition? Actually, I don’t dislike his team. I think it’s about as good as mine, which is to say average. I don’t see Barber repeating last year’s remarkable production, nor am I that big of a Drew Bennett fan. But I love Michael Clayton, Alge Crumpler has the coolest name in football, and there is some depth to the roster. So, once again, I predict the Snowmobilers will not make the playoffs. There you go, Dave, playoff ticket punched.

Projected Finish: 6-7.

Stumbling Alcoholics (Troy Boeldt)
Projected Opening Day Lineup: Brett Favre, Curtis Martin, Clinton Portis, Javon Walker, Laverneus Coles, Jeremy Shockey.

Quality Backups: Brian Griese, Rod Smith, Antonio Bryant.

Possible Steals: Reggie Brown, Bryant, Shockey, Moe Williams.

Final Analysis: I don’t see C-Mart having quite the year he had last year, but, then again, Portis is likely to have a better year than last year, so call it a wash. Walker is an excellent #1 WR, and Favre may be heaving the ball even more this year than last. I am not sold on Coles as a great #2 guy, but if Shockey can stay healthy, a fifth round pick is a bargain for him. If. Reggie Brown and Antonio Bryant could both be 1200+ yard guys. I see 1000 easy out of each them, at the minimum. Overall, good starting lineup, and decent to good depth.

Projected Finish: 7-6.


No worries! France will send help soon.

History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of men.

So, Katrina misses most of New Orleans, but still manages to devastate the city. Makes me feel a little bad about this post. But only a little. You live in a city located below sea level and right next to the sea, well, you take your chances, I guess. Which does not make me heartless. I do feel for the thousands and thousands of folks whose lives have been totally ripped apart by the failing of the city's levees. I mean, how can you look at this:

without feeling for the owners and residents of that city? Indeed, should you wish to help out, please go here and pick the charity of your choice.

But. But. The title of the post is, sadly, tongue in cheek. Here's the question-- why? When there are earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, droughts, or attacks by bands of roving mutant crocodiles anywhere in the world, U.S. Aid agencies are always at the forefront of efforts to help. Always. Even in countries that don't like us.

So, where in the bleeding sands of San Parneudro are all of our allies now? The current estimate of damage is up to around 35 BILLION! The death toll is over 100, and is likely to rise much, much higher. Thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people are homeless, and it may be months before the city is even habitable, much less close to normal.

Where is OUR help? I know we're the richest country on the planet, so okay, I don't expect efforts like those following the tsunami in Southeast Asia, but seriously-- why does it seem nobody outside of the U.S. is doing ANYTHING? There is extensive coverage of the disaster in London's online Guardian newpaper. At least seven separate articles on various aspects of the tragedy. None, not one, lists any aid agencies that readers could donate to, not one article suggest that Tony Blair send us some aid. NOT ONE FRIGGIN MENTION!

Australia's Daily Telegraph calls it an "unimagined catastrophe", but again, no mention is given of possible aid from the Australian government, nor are there any addresses, links, or other suggestions for how readers could help us in our hour of need. Our two closest allies, and neither one of them even suggests that maybe we could use a hand, nor provides any information for readers who might wish to lend a hand.

Germany's Der Spiegel magazine offers some explanation for the lack of response, and I understand what they're saying about not needing foreign troops or helicopters or anything. Clearly we don't need any of that. But how about some $ for the Red Cross or donations to various other charities? No?

Does anyone doubt that if the levees in Holland broke and the North Sea came pouring into Amsterdam, that folks in Kansas, Arizona, Georgia, Connecticut and everywhere else in America would be sending money and condolensces to the poor Dutch people? But we get nada, zip, bupkiss?

Aye carumba. Well, okay kids. We're on our own. Please donate if you can, and say some prayers for the homeless and injured.

UPDATE: Well, okay, I found one article saying that British Petroleum has pledged $1 million to the Red Cross for aid efforts in Louisiana, and will match employee donations on a 1-1 basis. Good for them. So, that's 1. Hopefully more will come as the massive scope of the disaster becomes clearer.

I also found an article indicating that Venezuela is willing to send aid workers, water and other stuff. Venezuela of all places. Go figure. But a nice offer, nonetheless.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Disney and parents

I'm not the first one to mention this, but I thought about it again last night as I watched Lilo and Stitch with my kids. The Walt Disney movies-- well, the animated ones, at least-- are fraught with broken families. Seriously fraught. Now, some of that isn't all on Disney-- I mean, Cinderella is going to be about a young woman with an evil step-mother and evil step-sisters. But still. Well, let's just go down the line, shall we (skipping the lesser known titles):

Snow White (1937): Okay, Disney is limited by the parameters of the fairy tale, but they didn't have to pick Snow White for their first animated effort. Evil step-mother, no father to speak of, strange living arrangements with seven small men. Hard to find a stranger familial set-up then this one.

Pinnochio (1940): Father figures in Geppotto and Jimminy. Maternal figure in the fairy, I suppose. All very odd. Becomes a real boy with an old man for a dad, and no mother.

Fantasia (1940): I haven't actually seen this one, and it does not really fit the mold. Several disparate stories combined, all inspired by music and without a lot of plot development. Family issues are not relevant in any of the pieces.

Dumbo (1941): Okay, this one is a Disney original-- no fairy tale basis. What do we get? No father to be found, and the mother gets imprisoned for most of the movie, leaving young Dumbo an orphan with only a mouse for a mentor.

Bambi (1942): Mother gets shot and dies. Father is some vague Prince of the Forest that we never see.

Cinderella (1950): It's in the story line, so what choice does Disney have, but still-- dead mother, dead father, orphan under cruel auspices of the step-family. Step- relatives, so far, have been irredeemably evil. Cruel, heartless, and villanous through and through.

Alice in Wonderland (1951): Family is not really part of this one.

Peter Pan (1953): Aha! Two parents! Remarkable. And while the father is a bit brusque, they both seem to love and care for their children. And yet... and yet. What exactly is up with Peter and the Lost Boys? Where are their parents? Where did those boys get lost from, and why? But, credit where credit is due. While the depiction of the Native American is horrible outdated, and nearly racist, the family does not get short shrift in this one.

Lady and the Tramp (1955): It's about dogs, so it's a bit outside the lines. But one of the themes is the conflict between the adventurous, but hard, live on the street versus the cushy and loved niceties of having a home-- with the requisite restrictions on freedom. In the end, home wins.

Sleeping Beauty (1959): This one is a doosy. Granted, there IS a mother and a father, but they send their child away because of some looney prophecy that comes true anyway. Good lord, are these lousy parents. Entrust the raising of their daughter to a bunch of looney fairies, are not involved with her upbringing at all, miss out on EVERYTHING about being a parent and then still have tragedy befall them. Putzes. Complete putzes.

101 Dalmations (1961): It's about dogs, but it's about family, too. Two sets of parents-- dog and human-- both sets happily married and responsible. Wow. How'd this film get greenlighted? Not only are the two families loving and responsible for their own kids, they willingly adopt 85 additional puppies. The exception that proves the rule, maybe?

The Sword in the Stone (1963): A redo of the classic Arthurian legend featuring... a young lad with no apparent family that is picked on by others. Clearly whoever okayed 101 Dalmations was gone by the time this one made it to print.

The Jungle Book (1967): Orphaned kid. Raised in the jungle by animals. No parents except what a panther and a bear can impart. Again, Disney must needs be follow the script laid down by Kipling, but why pick this project in the first place?

The Aristocrats (1970): Mother with three kittens. Papa cat? No where in sight. Thomas O'Malley does eventually work his way into the role of the father-- and amazingly, as a step-father that isn't cruel and abusive. Perhaps its only the female step-family members that are intractable louts?

Robin Hood (1973): Family is tangential to this movie at best.

The Rescuers (1977): Kidnapped girl is rescued by mice. Sucessfully rescued. Where's John Walsh when you need him? No word on what Penny's actual parents were doing while the mice were bravely saving their daughter.

The Fox and the Hound (1981): Orphaned baby fox is raised by a widow. Apparently only dogs are allowed to have traditional families.

The Great Mouse Detective (1986): A Sherlock Holmesesque adventure featuring mice. A young girl's father is kidnapped. No word on the mother. This one is pretty family neutral.

Oliver and Company (1988): Disney rework of Oliver Twist. Given that, the protaganist pretty much has to be an orphan. Regardless, it's another story about an orphan.

The Little Mermaid (1989): Seven daughters and a dad... but where's mommy? We don't know and the movie never mentions her.

The Rescuers Down Under (1990): See The Rescuers above. Only this time a boy gets kidnapped, and it's in Australia. Still no word on the parents-- though great care is given to the protecting of an eagle's eggs.

Beauty and the Beast (1991): Strange old father. No sign of a mother.

Aladdin (1992): Strange old father. No sign of a mother. Plus, an orphan. What a combo.

The Lion King (1994): We start out with a loving mother and a loving father. Then daddy gets whacked... by his brother. The son/nephew? Raised by a meerkat and a pig. Solid family there.

Pocahontas (1995): Strong father figure. No mother to be seen-- though there is an old lady/godmother type of thing with the willow tree.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996): Quasimodo doesn't die in this one. What a crock. But Quasi is still an orphan. That they don't change.

Hercules (1997): Father and mother who are also gods. Their child is kidnapped, but raised by loving step-parents-- now that is worth taking note of. In the end, Hercules is reunited with his parental god units. This one is the best since 101 Dalmations, in terms of parents.

Mulan (1998): Mother, father and grandmother. Huh, go figure.

Tarzan (1999): The story dictates he be an orphan-- but why so many orpah stories?

The Emperor's New Groove (2000): Pacho has a normal family, but no word of what happened to the Emperor's parental units that left him on the throne at a pretty young age.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001): No real family issues one way or the other in this one.

Lilo & Stitch (2002): Parents wiped out in a car accident. Orphaned older sister and younger sister struggle to exist as a family before meeting aliens.

Treasure Planet (2002): Remake of Treasure Island, with Jim Hawkins under the care of his mother, fathter presumably dead. John Silver does fill in as a father figure of sorts.

Return to Neverland (2002-- VHS/DVD only): Sequel to Peter Pan, this is a surprisingly good film. As with the original, family is not central, but both a mother and a father are present, and the family as a unit is celebrated.

Brother Bear (2003): Three brothers. One dies, one gets turned into a bear. No sign of parents, though the brothers are all older-- 16+.

Home on the Range (2004): Cows save the farm from a yodeling cattle rustler. No family issues here, just a really, really, really, STUPID movie. Maybe Disney SHOULD stick to orphan flicks if this is what they produce when they try something else.

Okay. 36 films. Of that group, I count ten as explicitly about orphans. Over 25%. Add to that another nine in which only one parent, or no parents, are represented, and you have 19. Throw in Sleeping Beauty because the parents in that one are just useless. 20. I would say seven really don't have any relation to parents, and four are fairly family neutral. That's 31. Only five, by my reckoning, explicitly have a mother and father involved in them: 101 Dalmations, Hercules, Mulan, Peter Pan and Return to Neverland.


Out of 36. That's just under 14%.

For family movies, there sure aren't many families in them. Is there some sort of weird appeal to movies about orphans? Certainly this isn't just a Disney thing, given that a goodly percentage of their orphan flicks are based on other sources. Cinderella, Snow White, Tarzan, The Jungle Book, Treasure Island, Oliver Twist, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Aladdin are all stories about orphans.


What's the deal with that? Does it make kids feel lucky to have parents? Are orphans just naturally plucky and worth rooting for?

Definitely weird. Any thoughts, folks?

Summers Redux

Remember back in March when I rambled quite a bit about the flap over Larry Summers', President of Harvard University, comments on innate differences between men and women? Specifically, Summers suggested that there are likely to be more men at the extreme end of the bell curve when it comes to science and math, which, at least in part, explains the disparity in numbers between male and female faculty at elite research institutions like Harvard. There was much fuss and bother and quite a bit of hew and cry by academia, and this was subsequently taken up by the journalists and talking heads.

In short, the conclusion of the Ivory Tower was that Summers was either ignorant or a sexist pig. Perhaps both. Frankly, I didn't-- still don't-- get it. He never said men were more intelligent than women. He never said women were incapable of science or math excellence, even genius, only that biology seemed to dictate that more men would be found at the extremes of these areas. Which also suggests that there are a more men completely incapable of understanding math and science than women. But the fact that women are less likely to be morons doesn't play well, and so is ignored.

Anyway, found this fascinating article off of one of Andrew Sullivan's posts. To use an industry term, it is dead-on balls accurate. And completely supports what Summers said. It is a bit long, but the whole thing, to me at least, is interesting, well-reasoned, supported by fact, and-- I would think-- nearly impossible to refute. Yet the academy, and many on the far left, will have none of it. Why the concept that different groups might be different is so reprehensible to them is beyond me.

Key passage:
Seen from one perspective, this pattern demonstrates what should be obvious: there is nothing inherent in being a woman that precludes high math ability. But there remains a distributional difference in male and female characteristics that leads to a larger number of men with high visuospatial skills. The difference has an evolutionary rationale, a physiological basis, and a direct correlation with math scores.
But since it flies in the face of acceptable political correctness, it must be crap. I also find it interesting that evolution helps explain the differences:
Evolutionary biologists have some theories that feed into an explanation for the disparity. In primitive societies, men did the hunting, which often took them far from home. Males with the ability to recognize landscapes from different orientations and thereby find their way back had a survival advantage. Men who could process trajectories in three dimensions—the trajectory, say, of a spear thrown at an edible mammal—also had a survival advantage.8 Women did the gathering. Those who could distinguish among complex arrays of vegetation, remembering which were the poisonous plants and which the nourishing ones, also had a survival advantage. Thus the logic for explaining why men should have developed elevated three-dimensional visuospatial skills and women an elevated ability to remember objects and their relative locations—differences that show up in specialized tests today.9
Yet those who are up in arms defending evolution against Intelligent Design seem to have no difficulty dismissing this relationship since it does not fit their firmly held preconceptions.

Read the whole thing. It's long, but it is well-written and never dull. Case in point-- this lovely little zinger:
But this is just one more of the ways in which science is demonstrating that men and women are really and truly different, a fact so obvious that only intellectuals could ever have thought otherwise.
To which I can only say, heh.

UPDATE: I forgot to include my favorite quote from the article:
Elites throughout the West are living a lie, basing the futures of their societies on the assumption that all groups of people are equal in all respects. Lie is a strong word, but justified. It is a lie because so many elite politicians who profess to believe it in public do not believe it in private. It is a lie because so many elite scholars choose to ignore what is already known and choose not to inquire into what they suspect. We enable ourselves to continue to live the lie by establishing a taboo against discussion of group differences.
This is the antithesis of what intellectual curiousity is all about. Dismissing results because we don't like their conclusions is anti-intellectual and pathetic. It's the Scope's monkey trial all over again, only this time, most of the academics are on the side of the creationists. The irony is heavey. And rather sad. The solution is rather simple... but in today's academic and political environment, might be hard to achieve:
Thus my modest recommendation, requiring no change in laws or regulations, just a little more gumption. Let us start talking about group differences openly—all sorts of group differences, from the visuospatial skills of men and women to the vivaciousness of Italians and Scots. Let us talk about the nature of the manly versus the womanly virtues. About differences between Russians and Chinese that might affect their adoption of capitalism. About differences between Arabs and Europeans that might affect the assimilation of Arab immigrants into European democracies. About differences between the poor and non-poor that could inform policy for reducing poverty.
Open conversation and debate. What a novel concept. We should try it-- you never know it might actually catch on.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Oh No! There Goes New Orleans!

Every year, hurricanes pound the Gulf Coast and Eastern shores of Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and points further North. Most years, mudslides send huge and expensive homes smashing down Californian hillsides, and forest fires ravage properties and burn homes to the ground.

So, why do we send Federal money to these areas every time? I mean, if you know that you just built your new house, or purchased your new condo, on a piece of property that regularly gets whacked by hurricanes, don't you deserve to suffer for your stupidity rather than expecting the government to step in? If you build a house like these, on the sides of huge hills, should you be bailed out when the rain washes your living room into the ocean?

I'm not talking about people who pay the exorbinant insurance rates-- that's what it's for, afterall-- I'm talking about all the schmucks who don't insure their house and then get FEMA money to have the thing rebuilt. On the exact SAME spot. Until the next time around.

I don't mean to seem hardhearted or unsympathetic, but at some point, don't you have to say enough-- you want to rebuild this place, knowing that it's a favorite hangout for the Ivan's, Dennis' and Katrina's of the world, you do it on your own dime, or with private insurance money. FEMA will no longer bail you out. We'll give you food, water and maybe some temporary shelter, but the cost of demolishing your house and building a new one is your own lookout.

And, this will come as a shock to you all, I'm sure, it appears that FEMA is poorly managed and does not target its resources very well. Now, again, I don't have all that much sympathy for the poor folks that got whacked by Charley last year-- you live in Florida, this big 'ole chunk of land sticking straight out into the traditional stomping grounds of Atlantic hurricanes. What did you expect? But this little tidbit does seem pretty ridiculous:
Congresswoman Harris says Congress intended for some of the $8.5 billion it allocated for hurricane relief to help the rural communities of Hardee and Desoto counties. But while those communities wait, homeowners in Miami Dade County, which never suffered a direct hit, have already cashed $30-million in FEMA checks.
One's rural and relatively poor. One's urban and relatively rich. So naturally most of the money is going to the rich area.


UPDATE: Well, it looks like most of New Orleans got off the hook relatively easily--and I stress the word relatively-- with next door Mississippi taking the worst of the storms fury. Apparently, it could have been much, much worse for the home of the 'Aints. Which raises the question of why? If everybody knows that a category 4 or 5 hurricane smashing directly over the top of New Orleans will be absolutely devastating, shouldn't we be doing something about it? Especially since New Orleans is a major center for the nation's oil industry?

This is the second near miss in less than 10 years. And I'm not sure what the answer is, since I am not a civil engineer, nor do I play one on my blog, but I think we ought to at least be trying to find the solution, don't you? Instead we just seem to cross our fingers and hold our breath every time a hurricane comes near to New Orleans.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Shameless Pandering

Been a while since I posted anything to appeal to the traditional male reader-- which is my primary demographic, after all. So, here goes. Came across this the other day and thought it was pretty groovy. The ability to maneuver around the "picture" is kind of neat, and the women are pretty cute. The focus on the zooming aspects isn't great, but it's still fun to play around with.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Yeah, but she's patriotic!

The surprising part of this story, at least surprising to me, is that the dispute is happening in upstate New York. But I haven't had any busty females on the blog for a few days, so I'm overdue. I give you.... Betty Beaver:

Bit of an overbite, but no rodent is perfect.

Turns Out, Porn Really is Dirty.

Only in San Francisco. This type of thing is forbidden from happening in any other city. Except maybe Amsterdam.

Do you think anybody looted?

And if you were injured in the accident, what would you put down on the hospital intake form?

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Rule of Law

There was, wonder of wonders, a wonderful essay in this Sunday's Milwaukee Jourtinel editorial section. A buried gem amongst the anti-war/anti-Bush screeds that seem to be popping up a lot again, with little or no counter perspective. This essay had nothing to do with Iraq, the military, or Gaza but instead had a LOT to do with how our country is supposed to work, and why it seems to not be working all that well of late.

It has to do with the increasing politicization of our court system. Justices, Supreme or otherwise, are supposed to intrepret the law based on the Constitution (State and/or Federal) and precedent-- they are not supposed to legislate, and, in theory, their particular political orientation shouldn't matter a whit as they are not making law, only adjudicating it when someone feels a law is unconstitutional.

Well, maybe I should just let the article's author explain it. He does it better than I, and has a better understanding of the process:
It is the right of the people, acting through their elected representatives, to pass laws.

It is only when the legislative and executive branches exceed their powers under the Constitution that the Supreme Court has a function.

Over past years, the Supreme Court has made the rule of law meaningless. Under the Constitution, laws are the responsibility of the various legislative bodies exercising their power, within constitutional limits.

When nine (or more often five) unelected justices create the law, this is judicial tyranny, ignoring the will of the people.
Got that everyone? Only when the legislative or executive branches exceed their powers-- only when they do something unconstitutional in other words. Not when the justices disagree with or dislike what those other governmental bodies have done. Only when those bodies have done something that exceeds what the constitution allows them to do.

Open to intrepetation, sure, but something that should not be validated, or invalidated, because the law or action in question is one with which a justice agrees/disagrees. The author than cites a number of recent cases in which the Supreme Court has failed in its appointed duty:
The McCain-Feingold bill limiting political speech gave the court an opportunity to exercise its proper function.

However, they ignored the clear words of the Constitution that the "Congress shall make no laws respecting freedom of speech" and upheld the statute.

They have stretched the establishment of religion clause to a point where the framers would not recognize it and, for the most part, have ignored the free exercise clause.

Recently, they turned the Fifth Amendment-taking clause on its ear when they changed the long-established meaning of the words "public use" and put every citizen's property at risk.
Yes! Yes to all of that, then yes again. It's enough to make you wonder sometimes if some of the SCOTUS justices have even read the Constitution.

But wait! There's more:
In view of the above, it should be clear that our senators should forget the words "conservative," "liberal" and "moderate" when considering a candidate for the Supreme Court.

Instead, they should use as a guide his or her intelligence, character, knowledge of the law and respect for the people's law, the Constitution.

Perhaps then we would return to the rule of law.
Bravo! What a radical concept! Judging a justice based on his or her capabilities rather than his or her ideology. I like it. I like it a lot.

Okay, you're dying to know who wrote this, right? tc has got his anti-Coulter, anti-Limbaugh, anti-"whoever the heck this conservative loon is" pen all ready to go. John H. wants to put his bust above his keyboard. Fair enough.

I give you:

Frank Zeidler. Milwaukee's socialist mayor during the 1940s and '50s. The full essay is available here.

So, when I say that I believe there are good ideas all across the political spectrum-- that they are not the sole purview of liberals or conservative-- I'm not kidding. I think socialism is a wonderful theory and a dreadful way to govern-- but that does not mean that socialists don't have good ideas or that they can't express intelligent, insightful, concepts.

Whether you agree with the War in Iraq or not, it has now become a fight to establish some sort of republic. In other words, a place where the rule of law, rather than the whims of a despot, hold sway. As we work to achieve that goal in Iraq, perhaps now is also a good time to evaluate how good of a job we're doing of that in our own country these days.


Happy B-Day Ray!

Ray Bradbury is still one of my favorite authors of all-time. His prose was so poetic at its best-- so visual. And he had a remarkable ability to recapture times past. Youth past as well as America's past.

And the fact that he took Michael Moore to task for stealing the title Fahrenheit 451 for his movie-- whether he agreed with the movie or not-- was fun and refreshing. Fiesty guy.

He is 85 today.

Happy birthday Ray, and thanks for all the wonderful moments you've given me.

ID Update

So, upon further reflection, I suspect that the appeal of Intelligent Design for me is that it fits nicely with how I've always viewed creation: God set the whole thing in motion oh so many years ago, and evolution is the tool he used to bring us to where we are today. But, truthfully, there isn't a lot of science behind it, and-- at this point-- it should not be taught in public schools.

That said, I still think the controversy that has been generated by ID is a good thing for science. Science is something which thrives on controversy-- when folks REALLY want to prove something true, or false, is often when that 99% perspiration meets up with the 1% inspiration. Debate is healthy. Most scientists would agree with that.

Which is why this story is rather disturbing. Bear in mind, the guy, Sternberg, who's career has been damaged, perhaps irrevocably, did not write the article in favor of ID, and he has openly stated he doesn't even agree with the articles conclusions. But science is not, or at least should not be, in the business of sweeping alternative theories under the rug with a dismissive smirk and a elitist attitude. Yet, because he green-lighted the publication of the article in a relatively obscure science journal, Sternberg's life will never be the same.

So, the question is-- if evolution is so solid a theory, so widely accepted, and so elegant a solution to the problem of species diversity, and I think it is all of those things, why do many of its proponents react to any criticism or questioning of its tenets with such vehemence and vitriol? Honestly, the critics of ID wail and bemoan the religious substrates of the ID theory-- and justifiably so-- but do they not see that reactions like the one against Sternberg paint them as just another sect of religious fanatics of the type they proport to despise?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday's List: Best Board Games Ever

Not sure why, perhaps because my children are starting to get interested in board games, but at any rate, I decided to make a list of my favorite games of all time. Then I decided that was too broad-- card games, board games, video games... way too large of a sample. So, I narrowed it down to board games. I have probably missed some gems from my youth, and there are tons of games I have never played, but I think the list is pretty good nonetheless:

25) Mousetrap. The actual game is... limited, shall we say, but there is that endless fascination to build that crazy, crazy trap.
24) Star Reporter. Want to play a roving journalist without a political agenda? No, it's not fantasy-- you can do it in this fun game. If you can find it.
23) Checkers. There's quite a lot more strategy to checkers than most people think. Especially if you throw in the Chinese version of the game.
22) Scotland Yard. Very cool game, with an innovative premise.
21) Sorry. A game where one of the primary objectives is to smack your opponets all the way back to start is... cool. The Disney version is even just a bit cooler.
20) Mah Jong. Yes, there's actually a game that goes along with those tiles besides matching them on your computer. And it's pretty good.
19) Life. Not a lot of strategy, and I don't like the new version, with the funky LIFE cards, as much as the old, but it's still fun to go from high school to retirment in under an hour. Or from a young Padawan to a Jedi Knight.
18) Strat-o-Matic Pro Basketball. This would be quite a bit higher except that it, well, isn't really much of a board game. I mean, there's a board, but it's mostly just a place to put the cards. But it's really fun. So, I included it anyway.
17) Diplomacy. This game may deserve to be higher, but I only played it once, so I don't remember it all that well.
16) Junta! Be a despot in charge of your own Banana Republic-- just watch out for the coups!
15) Road to the Whitehouse. Run for President-- without having to have your entire life up for examination!
14) Trivial Pursuit. But then, my brain is a repository for lots and lots of useless crap no one cares about-- so this game works for me.
13) Acquire. Not nearly as well-known as its property acquisition big brother, Monopoly, but a lot of fun, with a reasonable degree of skill.
12) Formula De. Open wheel racing isn't all that much fun to watch on TV, but it's a blast when you get to be behind the wheel... so to speak.
11) Monopoly. Strategy, luck, and you get to play as a hat. What a combination!
10) RoboRally. Likely most of you haven't played this bizarre little game, but until you've randomized someone else's robot onto the conveyor belt to oblivion, you really haven't lived.
9) Scrabble. Of course, I like spelling. Probably a bit lower on the list if you're functionally illiterate.
8) Talisman. A bit long, but good fun-- dungeons and dragons in a board/card game. Yes, yes, I know my geekiness is showing.
7) Stratego. I have to teach this game to my kids soon-- my wife won't play it with me.
6) The Godfather Game. Terrific strategy game where you try to take over various neighborhoods and run different rackets. You can try bootlegging, racketeering, extortion-- this game was a blast, and involved quite a bit of strategy.
5) Eurorails. And all the various assorted other rail building games.
4) Clue. It's elementary my dear... errr... whoever the heck you are.
3) Risk. Strategy, luck, world conquest.
2) 1830. You need about three weeks to finish a game, but for pure cut-throat strategy, this game has no peer.
1) Chess. The only downside to chess is that you can only play it with two people.

Hmm... no bikini clad babes. Sorry, I'l try to do better next week.


Thursday, August 18, 2005

So, I guess the only question is


And It's Been All Downhill Since!

Today is the 85th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, guarenteeing women the right to vote. Congratulations!

The upside is that it has made our country far more egalitarian, empowered generations of women, and was the forerunner to the recognition, and gradual diminishing, of glass ceilings for women in business, politics, sports, and many other fields.

The downside is that these people are now allowed to vote:

So, you have to take the bad with the good. Such is life.

Yes it is! No it isn't!

I've made a bit of fuss here in days gone by about the overwheening liberal bias of the mainstream media. I still think that said bias exists, and that the existence of the bias is to the detriment of the country. That said, a distinction really does need to be made between the news and the editorial opinions of most papers. The former is only somewhat slanted to the left, while the latter is, with a few exceptions, solidly and thoroughly buried at the far end of the left-side of the spectrum.

Instapundit has a particularly telling example, just so tc doesn't think I'm making strawmen again. But I believe it to be representative of the whole rather than an anamoly.

It's a Good News/Bad News Thing

First the good. Nice to see the Saudis doing something useful with themselves for a change.

Now the bad. I haven't flown a lot since 9/11, but I have flown 4 or 5 times, and my overall impression is that we are safer, but not as safe as we should be-- because of pork, poor staffing, and inconsistent application.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Of Creeds

1. A formal statement of religious belief; a confession of faith.
2. A system of belief, principles, or opinions.
3. A rock band of some renown.

I've never really thought about having a creed. I have one-- I think we all do to some degree-- but I've rarely taken the time to actively think about what it is, and I've never really written any part of it down. Yet this summer I keep bumping into them, and I find the concept of a creed as an overarching framework on which to structure your thoughts and actions-- in a word, your life-- to be an appealing and intriguing one.

Perhaps something that merits more overt analysis and consideration. At any rate, here are the creeds I've come across this summer:

1) The Rotary Creed. I have been processing the records of a local Rotary Club and came across their creed. Number 4 leaves me a bit... iffy... but I like the concept of thinking of our actions and words in terms of truth, fairness and generating goodwill.

2) The Jaycee Creed. More religious than the Rotarians, but I'm okay with that. And principle #4, That government should be of laws rather than men, rings so amazingly true in the day and age of political ego, divisiveness and corruption.

3) Andrew Sullivan's American Creed. Sullivan sometimes goes off the rails when he's on a topic of particular passion-- mostly homosexual rights and U.S. torture, or alleged torture, abuses-- but he is a keen observor of what makes our country great, and when his passions cool, he often expresses himself as well or better than any other political pundit out there. This creed is one of those times. I particularly like the third paragraph where he distinguishes between the pursuit of happiness and its attainment. Very persceptive and an important point that too often gets ground beneath the growing entitlement mentality that is pervading our country.

4) The Apostle's Creed. The granddaddy of them all.

Roll these four together and you have a pretty good basis for being: A christian, an American, a citizen, a neighbor, and a friend. In short, a good person. Of course, #4 is dependent on your religion, so substitute in your own religious creed as necessary.

Now the hard part-- trying to live by those tenets.

The Fifth Estate

Andrew Sullivan has a guest blogger in the house for a while, and I have to say, I like the guy. He is irreverent, thoughtful, well-spoken and straigt forward. In other words, nearly all the things our politicians and media types aren't, as a general rule of thumb. I particularly like this post, in which Walter rips the manistream media a new one-- and which I find, in my own biased perspective, to be dead-on balls accurate (it's an industry term).

Particularly scathing bit:
What big-time Washington journalists largely do these days, in my experience, is to get as close as possible to power, socially and in every other way, while maintaining the legal fiction that they aren't implicated in its workings. They send their kids to school with power's kids, they marry it, they go to parties with it, they jabber with it on the phone, they watch the game with it from adjoining seats, and, as a natural result, they keep its confidences -- until, that is, some secret leaks out anyway and they have to pretend that they didn't already know it but will get to the bottom of it immediately or that they knew it all along and just weren't telling their audiences because they were bound by some lofty code of ethics that allows them to do the jobs they rarely do. They're profound double-dealers, is what I'm saying, who pay for their access, influence, and by going along and getting along until it's simply too embarrassing not to. They reserve their best stories for one another, publishing them only when they have to and feeling very nervous when they do, because it might screw up the Great Arrangement. And afterwards, once the secrets are on the street, it often comes out that they were common knowledge among the people whose jobs it was to tell them.



Eats, Shoots, Leaves: Sports Edition

From CBS sportsline.com:
Colorado had two on with two outs in the sixth inning after Santos came out, but Rick Helling induced pinch-hitter J.D. Closser on a fly to right.
Helling induced Closser? To what, have a baby? The true wonder of it all is that Helling induced Closser on a fly to right-- how'd they both fit on there?

Bonus E,S,L: Sports Edition, from the same source:

Holliday had two hits, boosting his average to .359 in 27 games since coming off the disabled list with a broken pinkie on July 19.

He came off the disabled list with a broken pinkie? You'd think they'd leave him on the list until that healed.

One other, semi-related, question for you all-- when did it become standard practice in journalism for nearly every sentence to be a separate paragraph? I recall a time, not that long ago, when a one sentence paragraph was a rarity, an anamoly, a thing the other, longer and more robust paragraphs would tease and laugh at. No longer. Of the 21 paragraphs in the sportsline.com article from which I pulled the above E,S,L entries, eleven of them were one sentence long. Only two were longer than two sentences long, and both of those only because they contained quotes that involved several sentences.

My guess is it's an ADHD thing. Which is a bit sad-- but does remind me to appeal to my own ADHD readers:

No, she's not a cheerleader for the Colorado Rockies, but she is a cheerleader for the Denver Broncos, which is close enough for government work. This does raise the important question of 'Why don't baseball teams have cheerleaders?'

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Great Raid

I have not seen the movie, though I do find the fact that even movie reviews are breaking along ideological lines both funny and disturbing, but I did read the book the movie is based on. And I highly recommend it. Great read and a truly amazing story. Anyone, ANYONE, who needs a reminder in what is both good and evil in mankind should read the book.

Nice Work If You Can Get It

You may not have been following this if you don't live in Wisconsin. Heck, you might not be following it if you DO live in Wisconsin, but it seems that the UW school system has super golden parachutes available for some high level administrators and faculty members. Basically, back up jobs if you f-up your original job so badly the system has no choice but to fire you, or in case you need to retire but just can't get along on that pension. The idea is that back up jobs give these folks enough job security to not worry about being politically correct and immune to political and ideological pressures.

As with many well-intentioned ideas-- socialism, communism, the U.N.-- it is much better in theory than in practice. What it mostly has amounted to is allowing those eligible for it to suck of the public teat after they retire while still holding a job with the state. You get to collect your pension while you're still working! What a deal.

And then, of course, there's this. Don't ya just luv it? My favorite bit is this:
UW spokeswoman Kate Dixon confirmed Friday that Mary Lou Gritzmacher, the housekeeper at Reilly's official residence, was among the UW staff and administrators guaranteed a backup job - a three-year academic staff position.

The parameters of that job are unclear. Her duties and pay are to be determined if she moves into the job, Dixon said.
Well, maybe they can have her teach the students how to do their laundry and clean their dorm rooms. That would actually probably be pretty useful.

I also like Scott Suder's (R-Abbotsford) comment, "UW seems to hand out backup jobs like politicians hand out campaign fliers. Everyone gets one."

Well, everyone but me. Wonder where I sign up for that?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Go Big Blue... I mean RED!

I'm a die-hard Badgers fan when it comes to college football. UW is the only 1A school in the state, and I have always followed them because my dad and his dad and my mom's dad and... well, you get the idea, have always followed them.

But stuff like this, can make your allegiance waver, boy howdy.

Love dem Aztecs. Yassir.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Friday's List: Best Looking Left-Wing Whackjobs

With the possible exception of tc, I think we can all agree that Hollywood is hopelessly liberal. Such is life. It is also home to some of the most beautiful women in the world. So, combine those two things and you get... the top-20 (ran out of time) most beautiful left-wing moonbats. And, in keeping with my new policy of shamelessly courting male readers with pictures of women in scanty attire, I shall attempt to find pictures to include for all of our winners. The contestants got points for both their level of nuttiness and their level of good looksiness:

20) Barbara Streisand.

Babs probably shouldn't be on this list, but what left-wing nutjob list would be complete without her?

19) Linda Ronstadt.

Looks were only ever good, but anyone who lauds Michael Moore as an American Patriot is way up there on the Left-wing Whackjob chart.

18) Kirsten Dunst.

Truly a gorgeous woman, but her left-wing whackiness is still fairly fledgling at this point-- which isn't surprising since she's quite young.

17) Jennifer Anniston.

Beautiful woman, but her whackjobiness just doesn't get her into the upper realms of this list-- mostly it's confined to hating Bush.

16) Jennifer Garner.

Apparently only donated to the Democratic party, but her looks still get her onto this list.

15) Sheryl Crow.

I can never put her too far up this list, because there was a time in her career when I thought she looked a lot like Tom Petty. Not lately, though.

14) Kate Hudson.

She's Goldie Hawn's kid... so it should be no surprise that she's attractive and liberal.

13)Julia Roberts.

She must have been hanging around Richard Gere too much to come up with this quote, "Republican comes in the dictionary just after reptile and just above repugnant... I looked up Democrat. It's of the people, by the people, for the people."

12) Madonna.

A decade or so ago, she'd be higher, but past good looks, and present whackjobiness get her this high.

11) Heather Thomas.

She believes the media is too right-wing. That, and her breasts, get her automatic inclusion.

10) Maggie Gyllenhall.

Not as good looking as some of those she's ahead of, but this quote: "'Because I think America has done reprehensible things and is responsible in some way [for being attacked on 9/11] and so I think the delicacy with which it's dealt allows that to sort of creep in,' she added." Gets you a big bump up the list.

9)Gwyneth Paltrow.

Quote: "I think George Bush is such an embarrassment to America in the way that he doesn't take the rest of the world into consideration. And it all seems to be for him and his friends to keep getting richer at the expense of a nation, at the expense of the environment. It's like a full scale assault on the environment."

8) Uma Thurman.

Has a long litany of anti-Bush quotes, and is well-renowned for her liberal views.

7)Susan Sarandon.

The depth of her left-wingedness gets her this high, and back in the day, she was pretty darn good looking.

6) Jane Fonda.

See Susan Sarandon, above.

5) The Dixie Chicks.

I think the picture pretty well sums it up. And there's three left-wing nutjobs for the price of one, here.

4) Jessica Lange

Lovely woman. Stupid quotes.

3) Sarah Jane.

Lent her support, and image, to PETA.

2) Pamela Anderson.

She's an outspoken supporter of PETA. And, well, she's Pam Anderson. 'Nuff said.

1) Cameron Diaz.

If you live in Wisconsin and have heard Bob and Brian's interview with Cameron shortly before the 2000 election, you know why she's number 1. If not... bummer for you. But trust me, she a leftwing nutjob.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Roll Out the Barrel

No, not beer, not even polka. Roll out the PORK BARREL!

Though even these piggies are a whole lot nicer to look at then the horrendously horrible transportation bill passed last Friday. Ye Gods, not even Troy could eat this much fat! (And believe me, that's saying something.) $286.5 Billion over six years? $24 BILLION for special projects?

$24 BILLION! With a Republican President and a Republican majority in both houses. Ye gods how repulsive.

Remember the good old days when Republicans were actually conservatives? Sadly, I don't-- because I was a Democrat at the time! Aye carumba! Still, I can look back now on the Reagan years and wish I had known then what I know now. Reagan actually vetoed a transportation bill with a mere $1.6 Billion in special projects. Unfortunately for us, President Bush has yet to meet a spending increase he doesn't like-- despite all his rhetoric about controlling spending.

$24 BILLION!!!!

I also love the fact that the news agencies are touting how Congress got close to meeting Bush's target of $284 billion. Yeah, they only missed by $2.5 BILLION fercrisesakes! BILLION! How'd you like to have that kind of leeway in what you do? "Here Mr. General Contractor, we'd like you to build this for us, but don't worry if you go over budget by the ENTIRE GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT OF LATVIA!"

To quote both Charlie Brown and Yukon Cornelius, "Gooood Grief!"

I also found it odd that Alaska, the largest state in area, but the third smallest in population (behind only Wyoming and Vermont) got $941 million-- the fourth highest total of any state. I'm sure it had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is Don Young of Alaska. Surely just a coincidence. The fact that $231 million is earmarked for a bridge in Anchorage to be named Don Young Way certainly did not have any influence on Young's objectivity.

They're building a bridge to Ketchikan, Alaska, you know. Certainly a good deal for the folks who live in Ketchikan. All 14,070 of them. At $223 million for the bridge, that comes to just under $16,000 per person. Those folks in Ketchikan better be going backwards and forwards over that f'in bridge 24/7, 365. All 14k of 'em.


But okay, okay, all bills have pork, sure. It's just how the system works, right? Maybe, but that don't make it right, and that doesn't change how repulsive it is when politicians positively CROW about how much pork they got for their state. Particularly folks like this yutz:

That's Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, a Republican who leads the House Conservative Caucus, and who touted the $16 million he got for central Indiana projects. Well, he's conservative right up to the point where he gets a sizable chunk of pork to chew on.

Kudos to the four Senators and eigth Representatives who voted against this putrid, bloated, irresponsible legislation. A pox on the rest of Congress and on the President.

Fall TV Lineup

Well, so far what I've seen of the upcoming new shows looks pretty weak. On the plus side, Jennifer Love Hewitt will be on this fall:

in a show called Ghost Whisperer. Looks pretty stupid, but it has paranormal activity going on, so who knows what our intrepid, and ridiculously sexy, main character will be up to... but I'm willing to find out.

The only other show that I'm even remotely curious about is E-ring. Mostly because Dennis Hopper can be excellent.

Darwin vs. God

So, tell me why, exactly, Evolution and Intelligent Design can't live in harmony with one another? Seriously. The two theories are not mutually incompatible, and neither can be proven or disproven... so maybe they are part and parcel of the complete answer?

Evolution, as the Intelligent Design advocates really, really, really, REALLY want you to remember, is only a theory. It has not graduated to the realm of a Law of nature, though in effect, it is largely treated as such. ID advocates also note that they don't discard evolution entirely-- rather, they believe that it is incomplete, and unable to fully explain the existence and development of life.

Which means, contrary to all the wonderful Scopes' monkey trial analogies were getting these days, this is not a case of having to choose one or the other, nor between science and religion or even between Evolution and Creationism. And, frankly, unlike the situation in that famous case, most of the hyperbole and vicious anti-intellectualism seems to be coming from the evolutionary side of the argument, while the ID advocates are primarily asking the science community to at least consider their position rather than dismissing it out of hand. Still, there are reasoned responses to the ID position, but frankly, all this really says is that ID d/n disprove Evolution/Natural Selection. By the same token, however, this argument does not really provide any reason to think evolution is superior to ID other than that most of its proponents are Christians.

Much of our world can be explained through Darwinian evolutionary processes (ie, natural selection for survival attributes). But there are deficiencies in the theory, and it definitely does struggle to explain some of the tremendous complexities of life we find on this amazing planet of ours. But even if it didn't struggle in those areas, would that make it mutually incompatible with Intelligent Design?

Not really. Intelligent Design Theory argues that there is a lot of evidence that someone, or something, had a plan for how life should develop on Earth. This may, or may not, be the God of the Bible. Most IDT advocates believe it is the God of the Bible, but they admit that this is believe, not fact. So, what if this entity, god, gods, aliens, whatever, set the spark of life in motion billions of years ago, and set in place the necessary parameters for live to develop?

From a scientific view, is that any weaker of an explanation than that life just somehow spontaneously "emerged" and then wound its way down the long eons of history with natural selection as the principle guiding force, to where we are today? From a religious standpoint, is the belief that God started the whole thing way back when, and then, mostly, let his creation shape itself along the parameters intially established any harder to believe than that he made the whole thing *poof* in one go several thousand years ago?

So. Do I want IDT taught in public schools? Interesting question. As with most subjects, it depends. If IDT is taught objectively, and the teacher notes the possible deficiencies and/or religious implications of the thing, I think I'm okay with it. Of course, Evolution should be taught the same way... but I doubt it is, in most cases. If nothing else, I think the debate that IDT theory has sparked is healthy, because Darwin's theory has become rather too entrenched as Law these days-- to the point where many believe in it just because they believe in it.

Which is not to say I disbelieve it. Quite the contrary. I think it is a solid theory, with good evidence to support it-- but I don't think it's implications are nearly as far reaching as many in science and education would have them be. And if the choice were having to teach one or the other theory in public school, I would choose evolution, since I think ID's main usefulness is to explain how natural selection got started in the first place. But I really don't see the vast and horrible ruin of the sciences that will result if the idea of Intelligent Design is released in our public schools. Teachers and students aren't stupid-- let them here the pros and cons of each and make up their own minds.

As to my belief? Well, I find it hard to believe we're here by accident-- and I find the idea that God started the whole thing billions of years ago knowing it would turn out something like what it is today far more compelling than that he just went *pow* and there we all were. I also find it hard to believe that this:

happened entirely by accident. Lordy, Lordy, can I have a Hallelujah?! But I could be wrong. Think I'll go crack me open one of those cold, delicious Fruktime Orange's and think on it some more.

Eats, Shoots, Leaves-- Sports Edition

I am more and more wondering if the sports "writers" of the world, particularly the online ones, really understand how the English language is supposed to work. Here is an interesting tidbit from a recent Sportsline NFL story:

Ah well, maybe someday writers will either remember, or learn, how to write. Could happen.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Keeping the Customers Happy

Well. Read these little snarks, then took a look at my visitation rate. Yikes! Readership is down! I'm being beat out by a middle-aged guy living on the East Coast who babbles on endlessly with no real purpose!

Okay, let's try my previous entry about my vacation with a few pictures and links thrown in. Right, that'll do it. Hookay, here goes:

Here's what I did: Met my wife, children and inlaws at a bar/restaurant (Yes, it's this exact place-- and that guys stands out front the whole friggin time) in the middle of nowhere to have some mighty fine fried chicken and inexpensive beer. Proceeded from thence to my inlaws house on Lake Michigan (that's us, straight East from the bottom of Green Bay. Just south of the contrail. See us? We're waving. Really) for some brief star gazing with the kiddies and then some chicken induced sleep.
(Yes, it looked exactly like that. )

Spent the next day reading on the beach, (Yes, it looked just like this) playing in the sand with my kids, throwing rocks into the lake and the creek, and generally laying about like a lump. Highly recommended. Went out for pizza in the evening, came back and tucked in the kiddies after a bit of lego building (Yes, we did build this exact castle). Played cards with the inlaws while eating ice cream. Excellent.

Friday morning, there is a golf outing (yes, all of the women looked like Marg Helgenberger) for people coming to the Hitt Family Reunion (to be held the following day, and why we're up in Door County in the first place), and Nicole wants to come with. First time out on a real course. We'd hit balls at home and on the range and done some work with her putting, but never on a real course. Well, mostly real. Only 9 holes, and very short, with no par 5s, but still-- there was only one par 3, so it was a real course. She did great! We played a scramble, so there were four of us each hitting a shot, then going to where the best of the four shots went and all hitting from there, repeat. Good format for her first time. We used her approach and putt on one hole-- saved us a par..

After golf, we (my wife, father-in-law and myself) headed North to my in-laws church to pick up 15 8-foot tables and about 120 chairs. Ooof! Back to the house to unload the chairs and tables. Double oof. But after that, and about a gallon of water, it was nap time. Woohoo! Followed by a pre-reunion get together at the Sturgeon Bay Jaycee hall, with about 100 of my closest in-laws (mostly cousins-- my wife's dad is the youngest of 10, and my wife is the youngest of 7). Which was fun, though a bit overwhelming. At one point a game of bingo broke out-- the Jaycee hall has a machine and board and everything-- and I wound up winning $10 and two pre-season Packer tickets. Sweeeeeet! The Jaycees, by the way, have an excellent creed:

Would that more of us would live by these tenets.

Saturday is a bit of blur. 150+ people, some of whom I know, but most of whom I have met once if at all, beer, burgers, brats (hmmm... little glitch with the Google search there) and a gorgeous day on the lake. Kids playing with other kids their age, grown-ups catching up with folks they haven't seen in years, some football throwing, some canoeing and towards the end of the evening, songs around a bonfire (Yes, it did look exactly like that). Most excellent.

Sunday was clean up time, then I loaded up the kids and bombed down to my niece's (my side of the family, for a change of pace) birthday party. Jenn stayed up at her folks for a while longer to finish the clean up and say bye to some of the cousins who had come from far afield. Wound up going to the small waterpark
in Port Washington, which was exhausting but a blast. (And yes, the water park looked just like that)

And I leave my vacation this morning tired, but happy. Because it's one of those good sorts of tireds. Plus, I'm already looking forward to going to Lambeau Field

again in two and a half weeks. Woot! (Yes, it looks exactly like that-- well, without the words underneath it. That'd be pretty weird.)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

TMQ is Back!

I know some of you don't like Gregg Easterbrook's column, Tuesday Morning Quarterback, and I know many of you have never heard of it and would've lived happily for many years with no knowledge of its existence. But I like it, and it's my blog, so I'm giving TMQ's return some press. You can find the column at nfl.com, more specifically, here.

My favorite passage from the column is this:
On the Plus Side, Every NHL Goalie Had A Perfect Year

In April the Associated Press headlined a story about a meeting of National Hockey League officials, GENERAL MANAGERS DISCUSS WAYS TO INCREASE NHL SCORING. Here's a suggestion to increase scoring – hold games! The NHL had just completed an entire season without a single goal scored, which is really more defense than fans care to see.
Though I also liked this:
To mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar, the British Navy reenacted the event -- eliminating references to France and Spain, the losing side in 1805. Rather than display the colors of nations, ships bearing blue flags simulated a defeat of ships flying red flags. Anna Tribe, great-great-great granddaughter of Horatio Nelson, hero of Trafalgar, derided the sanitized, politically correct reenactment as "pretty stupid."
Which I supposed could make you wonder why it's called Tuesday Morning Quarterback, since it doesn't seem to be about football much. But that's part of the charm of TMQ-- it rambles and it ambles, and it's sometimes pretty stupid, but it is often funny, occassionally insightful, and even talks about football a bit. Plus, there are links to scantily clad mega-babes-- so you have that going for you... which is nice.


Monday, August 08, 2005

Space, the final frontier...

After all this time, those words still resonate. It is our final frontier, and one we must reach for, as mankind has always reached towards the unknown, the mysteries of life, the future.

So, everyone say a little prayer for the folks up in Discovery tonight, 'k?


A Good Vacation

Here's what I did: Met my wife, children and inlaws at a bar/restaurant in the middle of nowhere to have some mighty fine fried chicken and inexpensive beer. Proceeded from thence to my inlaws house on Lake Michigan for some brief star gazing with the kiddies and then some chicken induced sleep.

Spent the next day reading on the beach, playing in the sand with my kids, throwing rocks into the lake and the creek, and generally laying about like a lump. Highly recommended. Went out for pizza in the evening, came back and tucked in the kiddies after a bit of lego building. Played cards with the inlaws while eating ice cream. Excellent.

Friday morning, there is a golf outing for people coming to the Hitt Family Reunion (to be held the following day, and why we're up in Door County in the first place), and Nicole wants to come with. First time out on a real course. We'd hit balls at home and on the range and done some work with her putting, but never on a real course. Well, mostly real. Only 9 holes, and very short, with no par 5s, but still-- there was only one par 3, so it was a real course. She did great! We played a scramble, so there were four of us each hitting a shot, then going to where the best of the four shots went and all hitting from there, repeat. Good format for her first time. We used her approach and putt on one hole-- saved us a par.

After golf, we (my wife, father-in-law and myself) headed North to my in-laws church to pick up 15 8-foot tables and about 120 chairs. Ooof! Back to the house to unload the chairs and tables. Double oof. But after that, and about a gallon of water, it was nap time. Woohoo! Followed by a pre-reunion get together at the Sturgeon Bay Jaycee hall, with about 100 of my closest in-laws (mostly cousins-- my wife's dad is the youngest of 10, and my wife is the youngest of 7). Which was fun, though a bit overwhelming. At one point a game of bingo broke out-- the Jaycee hall has a machine and board and everything-- and I wound up winning $10 and two pre-season Packer tickets. Sweeeeeet!

Saturday is a bit of blur. 150+ people, some of whom I know, but most of whom I have met once if at all, beer, burgers, brats and a gorgeous day on the lake. Kids playing with other kids their age, grown-ups catching up with folks they haven't seen in years, some football throwing, some canoeing and towards the end of the evening, songs around a bonfire. Most excellent.

Sunday was clean up time, then I loaded up the kids and bombed down to my niece's (my side of the family, for a change of pace) birthday party. Jenn stayed up at her folks for a while longer to finish the clean up and say bye to some of the cousins who had come from far afield. Wound up going to the small waterpark in Port Washington, which was exhausting but a blast.

And I leave my vacation this morning tired, but happy. Because it's one of those good sorts of tireds. Plus, I'm already looking forward to going to Lambeau Field again in two and a half weeks. Woot!

Milwaukee is... MEDIOCRE!


Honestly, I can't really remember the last time I was excited about Brewer baseball once the Green Bay Packers opened training camp-- but I am this year. With 50 games to go, the Brewers are actually at the .500 mark, and they just came off of back-to-back series wins on the road, defeating both the Mets and Phillies (both with winning records) 2 games to 1. Plus, the Brewers play 31 of those 50 remaining games at Miller Park, where they are currently 10 games above .500. And they are 14-10 since the All-Star break.

Heady numbers for a group that hasn't finished the season at or above .500 in 13 years. The road through September won't be a cakewalk, though-- the Brewers still play a lot of games against St. Louis (including a series starting today) and Houston. But hey, 81 wins or more looks doable-- and would bode well for next year, since the new owner is allowing at least some expansion of the salaries.

Go Brewers!

But I'm still ready for some football.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Law of Diminishing Returns

One of the few economic principles that has stuck with me throughout my life. It essentially comes down to the fact that each successive repetition of an action results in a decreasing result from that action. So, the first Mountain Dew you drink after working in the sun tastes great! The second is still good. By the third, you are no longer parched, and you wonder if maybe you've had enough. Number Four makes you feel bloated, and when you get to five you figure you must be out of your mind. You get less of a pleasurable return with each successive soda.

Same sort of deal with practice. When you suck at something, because you're just starting out, it is easy to make great strides forward with only moderate amounts of practice-- you've got nowhere to go but up. Your first round of golf might be a 136, but with only a little bit of practice, you can fairly easily knock that down to 120. A bit more practice gets you to 110, and still more to 100, but with each successive improvement, it takes more and more practice to reach a new level of ability. You get less return on your invested time and energy as you get better-- to the point where professional athletes have to practice year-round just to maintain themselves at their incredibly high levels of ability.

What's my point? Well, the same principle seems to work with businesses and diversification. Some diversification can increase sales significantly. A pizza chain adds bread sticks, sodas and desserts to their menu and sales bump up. Still more diversification can continue to increase sales, but at a diminishing rate-- people are only going to buy so much, and eventually all those menus items are essentially in competition with each other, with folks buying either breadsticks or cheesy bread, but not both.

Which is why I was stunned to learn that there are SEVEN different kinds of Diet Coke on the market right now. Well, technically six, plus Coke Zero, which is Coca Cola without any calories-- so you can see where they draw the distinction between Zero and Diet Coke. Right?

Anyway. We have Diet Coke, Caffeine Free Diet Coke, Diet Coke with Lemon, Diet Coke with Lime, Diet Cherry Coke, Diet Vanilla Coke, and Coca Cola Zero. I'm not a marketing guru, nor do I play one on TV, but isn't that kindof... what's the word... overkill? I mean, good grief-- seven different kinds of Diet Coke?

But perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps Diet Coke with Lime opened up vast new markets of folks who thought, 'Lime! Hey, lime! I despise Diet Coke with Lemon, but if you're going to mix in a green citrus fruit, yo brother I am ALL over that!' I dunno, maybe. For a bit of hoot, check out all of Coke's worldwide brands. I think my personal favorite is Bimbo Break-- definitely gotta have me some of dat! Fruktime, Guarana Jesus, Tuborg Squash and Northern Neck really roll of the tongue as well. Tuborg Squash? Yeah, nothing says refreshing like a nice glass of squash juice.

"Whew! I am hot! Parched all the way down to my toes. Thank goodness I have some of that delicious Northern Neck in the fridge! And if that don't do it, I can always crack me open some Fruktime."

One thing I do know is that there is no lack of choices in our world today. Lots and lots of things to choose from, no doubt about it. Of course... are we sure that's such a good thing?

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