Wednesday, August 31, 2011

M*A*S*H Issues - Questions Pondered (Part I)

Getting back into the M*A*S*H groove lately, watching a lot since Ms. Irene stopped in for a while - I have started pondering the following questions about the show...

1) Why does it seem that everyone knows all the words to every song?

It just strikes me odd to see every single character sing all the songs in lockstep with one another.  I find that hard to believe.  Watching the fifth season episode "Movie Tonight" is the best example of this.  I know a lot of songs, but I can't necessarily sing every song I hear others singing.

2) Why can we never see the men who come in over the public address system?

Now, I know the production answer to this question - they were off-camera voices - but could it have killed them to have placed one of the P.A. announcers on camera?  It looks foolish to see Radar run out of the office screaming 'choppers!' without anyone else in the office and then as they cut to an outside shot of Radar running out the door, the ubiquitous voice just magically shows up.  I guess the person to whom the voice belongs is either a) a hell of a ventriloquist or b) the time-space continuum just does not apply.

3) How and when did Colonel Potter get his gigantic bed?

This was a feature in the Season Eight episode "Heal Thyself", when Potter and Charles got the mumps and had to be quarantined together in the Colonel's tent.  When Charles had to come and share the tent, he noted that Potter didn't have a 'standard issue army cot', to which Potter replied that it came from the Sears and Roebuck catalogue and that '500 of the finest geese who ever honked, gave their all' so he could have a comfortable bed.  I want to know when this bed came about.  Other instances show him with just a cot.  Was this just a plot device for a particular episode?  I NEED TO KNOW!

4) Where did all the Generals disappear to?

In one sense, this is an easy question to answer - as the series became less ensemble-oriented, the Generals (Hammond, Clayton, Barker, Mitchell) went away.  There were others who made an appearance here and there, but the first two seasons had multiple appearances by each of these Generals (13 total - the most being six by Herb Voland as General Clayton).  In a story sense, it's just odd that all of a sudden in the third season, those lower ranking Generals just stopped showing up.  Maybe they decided that Henry Blake was in fact competent (highly unlikely, in my opinion as an advanced M*A*S*H observer), or perhaps they got bored with wanting to get it on with Margaret Houlihan.  Who know what the reasoning was.  We just know that they stopped coming.  I guess the 4077 had some horrible body odor.

5) Why does everyone feel like they are entitled to everyone else's belongings?

Starting back with the first season episode "The Longjohn Flap", it was incredibly annoying to see the completely un-ironic expectation of sharing everything - whether it was Hawkeye and BJ's bathtub (Season Seven, "None Like It Hot"), or Burns' battery-operated socks (Season Two, "Crisis"), or Charles' newspapers (Season Ten, "Communication Breakdown" - a hell of a Led Zeppelin song, too, if I may say so!).  I realize that they are 'family', in whatever sense of the word you want to take it, but when I need to borrow something, I will at the very least ask and announce my intention to use something.  These are adults there, not children. Sheesh!  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene Off-Day Musings...

It's counter-intuitive  to say, but while I enjoy having this offday, I really was looking forward to the start of another school year.  We had been through meetings and the freshman orientation last week, and so it wasn't just a cold re-start; we had been warmed up a little bit leading into this week.  Unfortunately, the weather had other plans, especially when Ms. Irene knocked the power out to hundreds of thousands of my fellow 'Mer-landers'.

Here is a look at the Pepco Map...

And the BGE (of which is used to power the Lattanzi Land Headquarters) outage map...

We were incredibly fortunate not to have lost our power at all even as it rained for twenty-four straight hours and had wind gusts of fifty to sixty miles per hour frequently.  Others in our neighborhood were not so fortunate.  We went out yesterday and discovered that many were without power.  Just a few flickers here and a little bit of flooding were the order of the day.  

Now that it is Monday, I have taken the time to do a few things just to keep busy - getting my school stuff up to date, sweeping the back porch, smoking a cigar, watching The Price Is Right, and now blogging while watching Armageddon.  The Phillies will be on later, but now as it approaches the two o'clock hour here on the east coast, I need to kill some more time.      

Today reminded me a lot of the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd in 1999 (to which I alluded in my PSA on Friday).  We got off on a nice and sunny day when the temperature was only in the 70's (pretty cool for late August/early September).  I think Dustin and I went and got lunch while playing Sega.  Fun days those were, although our basement in College Park got flooded to the bejeezus that day (it was situated in a former swamp).   

Later this week we will begin our NFL 2011 Season previews, and with the football and baseball seasons running concurrently, it will be a busy time here.  Granted, I blog more about the Eagles than I do about the Phillies, but the reasons for that can be found here. Once the season actually starts, Ryan and I will be doing our weekly picks once again, and this year I hope to completely destroy him, but alas, they do have to actually play the games.  

So sue me if I say come back, school.  What will this year bring?  Stay tuned...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

M*A*S*H Season 2 Ramblings

The second season of M*A*S*H is one of my favorites for a few reasons, but the main one surrounds the fact that it was one of the tightest seasons written in the whole series.  Allow me to elaborate - the first season was spent trying to establish the series more than anything else, and had barely escaped cancellation, thanks (allegedly) to the wife of William S. Paley, the head of CBS.  The second season had a sense of identity and it did not stray far from it - since there was the feeling that the series ought to go with wIthat was successful so far.

Another major reason I enjoy the second season immensely is the fact although it was spun very tightly, character development was pushed. However, it was done in a way that it didn't throw the show off the course the writers and producers had set for it. These two things made for a perfect way to go about a sophomore season in a show.  It didn't have the huge fanbase yet, and thus could not get away with the things that were taken for granted in the later seasons of the series.

There were so many great episodes in the second season, but before I get there, I will mention the one episode that I don't particularly care for - 'Operation Noselift'.  In many ways, it reminds me of the first season episode 'Major Fred C. Dobbs': silly hijinks that just strike me as not being all the way in the spirit of the series; in other words, it felt too formulaic and resembles the ridiculous fantasy episodes of other shows of the era.  Okay, that one negative aspect aside, let's move on to the fun and good stuff...

The opening episode of the second season, 'Divided We Stand', made for the perfect re-introduction of the characters and reestablished their personalities, but a little more deeply than they had been developed during the first season.  It also did an outstanding job in showing that the 4077 is in 'an impossible place doing impossible work', and thus the crap they pulled was a necessary defense mechanism against insanity.

Many episodes run up against the boundary of fantasy, but only the one mentioned above ('Operation Noselift') truly crossed that boundary.  Episodes such as 'Five O'Clock Charlie', 'For Want Of A Boot', and 'A Smattering of Intelligence' are the best examples of this ability, and as such great credit ought to go to the writers for not allowing them to descend into straight farce.

One of the treats of Season Two is the presence of Pat Morita in two episodes.  Morita (who was Japanese, ironically) played Captain Pak, a wise-cracking South Korean doctor who was sent to observe the medical techniques and practices of the 4077.  He first showed up in the episode 'Deal Me Out' (an honorable mention in my Top Ten) to participate in the 'medical conference', otherwise known as a marathon poker game.  His second appearance was later in 'The Chosen People', where there were all sorts of shenanigans with the local Koreans, including squatters and a woman who claimed Radar was the father of her child.  Morita got a lot of quick, choice, and humorous lines, and to this day is probably my favorite 'recurring' (if you can call him that) character.

The second season (and this was true through about the sixth season) also had the ability to discuss serious things without becoming extremely heavy handed and preachy about it. Episodes such as "L.I.P. (Local Indigenous Personnel)", which dealt with interracial marriage, and 'George', which dealt with homosexuality were good examples of interspersing humor with a serious touch.  I am not sure a tenth season episode could have pulled this off as well (or at all).

This brings me to two of my favorites (both of which made the top ten), and I will reproduce here what I wrote on for that list.  The first one...
'The Trial of Henry Blake' – This is one of the earlier type ‘clip’ episodes, along with the ‘Dear Dad’ episodes, in which you sort of have a first person account of how Henry sees everything after being accused of all sorts of crimes by Burns and Houlihan. This has some classic lines such as ‘big red bird with fuzzy pink feet’ in regard to Klinger and Henry’s garbled explanation as to what a gurney is – a rolling table where they roll the patients to and from the places they need ‘to be taken to and from from’. Yes, that’s a real line from the episode.
And the second one...
'The Incubator' – First of all, Nurse Owens has the perfect line to sum up the Lattanzi Corollary regarding why the 4077th cannot get an incubator – ‘because it would save time and it would make sense’ to have one. The moving up the chain of command by Hawkeye and Trapper to get the incubator is what makes this episode so great – from the by-the-book quartermaster captain, to the pack-rat major, to the ‘resourceful’ colonel, all the way up to General Mitchell, who reminds the assembled media that at this ‘press-conference, the last I want to do is answer a lot of questions!’ Hawkeye and Trapper get back to find out that Radar had done some major horse-trading to get one for them.
*For the record, 'The Trial of Henry Blake' was number seven on the list and 'The Incubator' was number three.

Season Two is really the start of M*A*S*H being the show we all love and remember and provides so many memorable instances and episodes while starting to come into its own identity as a television series.  If any of you have a favorite episode from this season, put it in the comment thread.

Best Demonstration That You Are Losing An Argument...

Fat Albert Al Gore has come along and said that those who are skeptical of anthropogenic global warming are this generation's 'racists'.  To wit (via The Daily Caller):
“I remember, again going back to my early years in the South, when the Civil Rights revolution was unfolding, there were two things that really made an impression on me,” Gore said. “My generation watched Bull Connor turning the hose on civil rights demonstrators and we went, ‘Whoa! How gross and evil is that?’ My generation asked old people, ‘Explain to me again why it is okay to discriminate against people because their skin color is different?’ And when they couldn’t really answer that question with integrity, the change really started.”
Wow.  It's just so obvious that disputing that man is responsible for global warming climate change global climate disruption is EXACTLY THE SAME as Bull Connor ordering the fire hoses to be turned on against marchers in Birmingham.

All I can say is that this sounds like the rantings of a man who fears the loss of his racket livelihood.  I guess likening global warming skeptics to Holocaust deniers has become passé. Time for a new boogeyman!

The ultimate problem with Gore and his ilk is that they are doing exactly what they accuse the skeptics of doing...ignoring the science.  Projection is a strong sentiment, and the proponents of whatever-the-term-of-the-day is want to have it both ways - castigating skeptics for disbelieving the sciences while at the same time making it a larger-than-science moral issue:
When Bogusky questioned the analogy, asking if the scientific reasoning behind climate change skeptics might throw a wrench into the good and evil comparison with racism, Gore did not back down.

“I think it’s the same where the moral component is concerned and where the facts are concerned I think it is important to get that out there, absolutely,” Gore said.
So if it's convenient for Mr. Gore, the science can be cast aside by the proponents if there is a moral case to be made.  And if skeptics actually use reason and science to argue back, then they are just like racists and Holocaust deniers.  Hmm, I thought the skeptics were supposed to be the irrational ones, as Gore and company keep telling us.

Projection is a powerful drug, indeed.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene Update... (UPDATED x 2)

We are alive.  And the Real Author™ of the blog has been a complete pain in the backside. Just to give you a sense of where we are at in this storm, here's a visual (UPDATED At 9:45 PM and 1:45 AM)...

The eye is over eastern North Carolina, and it remains to be seen whether the storm moves due north or continues on a slightly northeastern track.  There are pros and cons to each one. The former means that Maryland (both sides of the Chesapeake Bay) will get a more direct hit than originally thought.  The latter means it may gain some strength over the water before heading up to New York and New England.  For now, the biggest problem with the household is the back drain - it's getting close to filling, and the real brunt of the storm hasn't even arrived yet.  

Stay tuned...

Friday, August 26, 2011

M*A*S*H Issues - Klinger

The character of Corporal (later Sergeant) Maxwell Q. Klinger (played brilliantly by Jamie Farr) is one of the biggest paradoxes in the entire M*A*S*H universe.  He was a bit character that became a main one; we know more about his background, but little about who and what he is; and of course the writers ultimately played on this paradox by having the character stay in Korea with his new Korean wife once the war ended.  

Klinger showed up for the first time in the first season episode "Chief Surgeon Who?", an episode that made my top ten favorites. Within that show, Klinger played a sentry man who wore a WAC uniform in order to get out of the army 'on a psycho', which was known as 'Section Eight'.  It was supposed to be a one-shot deal for Farr, but it parlayed into a full-time gig as the writers explored how many different ways they could show Klinger to be, as Sidney Freedman said, the 'most sane man in the outfit', despite his sometimes extremely wacky attempts to get his Section Eight discharge.  

As the series moved through the years, the discharge attempts became more elaborate, but then again, the character was also further explored.  We learned that he was from Toledo, Ohio (as is Jamie Farr), was of a Lebanese background, had experience a relative rough childhood, and his high school sweetheart was Laverne Esposito (whom he would marry via shortwave in the third season episode "Springtime").  Despite learning a lot of this personal information, we as the audience never quite get the full psychological profile of Klinger that we get of most of the other characters.  I would say that the only character we get less of is Margaret Houlihan, but she had her own 'evolution', so to speak.  Now, this isn't to say that we don't get a deeper look at Klinger; we certainly do in episodes such as "Mail Call Three" (Season Six), "Period of Adjustment (Season Eight), and "Dear Uncle Abdul" (also Season Eight).  The paradox is that we never quite get enough of a deep look, even as we seem to know more about his life, past, and heritage than we do about any other character in the series.

At the start of the eighth season, radical changes took place.  With Radar (Gary Burghoff) leaving the 4077th, Klinger was tapped into becoming the company clerk, a job that took a while in which he needed to settle.  The true change came with Klinger playing it straight - dressed in fatigues and being semi-competent, although in fairness, he was pretty decent at his job as a corpsman while wearing dresses.  The evolution of Klinger from wannabe-loon to an indispensable grade-A scrounge is intriguing, but suffers from a bit of retconning, in the sense that his scrounging abilities were sort of brought up to the front after the fact rather than being established from the get-go.  

The ending, which had Klinger staying in Korea with his new wife Soon-Lee was an interesting twist.  The writers managed to pull it off without making it seem completely unrealistic or out of character for him.  There would have only been two scenarios in my mind that would have gotten Klinger to stay - 1) Get rich-quick scheme or 2) A woman.  I guess if silly little me could figure it out, then it was probably easy for the writers to get it done.

The fundamental weakness of the Klinger character was shown mostly in the later seasons when they revolved episode plots around him (or any 'lesser' character at large).  He was much stronger as a supporting character, but with 251 episodes, the series would have had a lot less quality writing had they begun to just constantly recycle their material.  So it's a small tradeoff, but one that kept things original during the run of M*A*S*H.  The same weakness, though, also plagued AfterMash; the attempt to transform secondary characters into primary ones is a general failing of most spinoffs, and AfterMash was no exception.  

However used, Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger still goes down as one of the most colorful and amusing characters, not just in M*A*S*H, but in the history of television.  A two-scene deal became eleven years of wacky schemes and hijinks, the likes of which we will probably not see again - I don't think the current writers of many series are capable of creating characters like that anymore.  No matter what, Klinger now belongs to the ages.

Hurricane Irene Pool...

Figured it might be fun to do a few "bets" on the events of Hurricane Irene.  Put your amounts in the comment box or if you read through Facebook, in the comments there. Closest answer wins a point for that question - no Price Is Right rules apply.  Here we go...

1. Amount of rain that ultimately falls on Cape Hatteras (in inches)

2. Time of the Eye's arrival over the Hampton Roads area (Norfolk, VA Beach, etc.)

3. Time of Eye's arrival on the main part of the Eastern Shore of Maryland (Ocean City/Salisbury)

4. Amount of rain that falls at BWI Airport

5. Which part of New York will the Eye arrive over (Manhattan, Bronx, Long Island?)

6. How long will there be major PEPCO outages?

7. How fast will the maximum sustained winds be on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay?

8. Will PEPCO outages last longer than BGE outages?

9. Which school system in the Baltimore/DC Metro area will be the first to close on Monday?

10. How many days will the school systems remain closed after all is said and done?

PSA For Hurricane Irene

In a timely fashion, I have come up with a Public Service Announcement to warn our friends in the Mid-Atlantic region and New England about the impending doom of Hurricane Irene. Enclosed are some tips about what to do when a Hurricane comes through, since I, you know, have had lots of experience in that area....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hide Your Women And Children!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you....Irene!  What a fickle lady she is...

Picture via NOAA's National Hurricane Center website

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Were You There... (UPDATED)

The Leaning Tower
of Peace, perhaps?

(No, this is not a Washington Nationals commercial)

A 5.9 magnitude earthquake whose epicenter was forty miles northwest of Richmond, Virginia was felt up and down the eastern seaboard and as far inland as Detroit and Cincinnati.  Even the President felt it as he was teeing up in Martha's Vineyard.

The rest of the faculty of DeMatha and I were having our annual blood-borne pathogens review when the quake arrive.  We were in the cafeteria when it hit and I must say it was one of the most surreal events I have ever experienced.  The floor waved and crested, the pillars shook and swayed, and most of us had no idea what had hit us.  Now, granted, the California people are old pros at this sort of thing. But for little old me, this was not fun or expected in anyway.  Thankfully, everyone is alright and we carried on after settling down.

It will be interesting to see if any of the older buildings in DC had any damage, as there are rumors that the Washington Monument is tilting.  Stay tuned on that. (UPDATE: 8:44 PM - The Washington Monument is NOT tilting, according to the same link. UPDATE #2: 10:20 PM - there are "cracks" in the Washington Monument)  But the fun isn't over juuuust yet, as we potentially have one of these coming this week:

In all honesty, though.  Give me the hurricane any day of the week over the earthquake.  I can at least prepare for the former and we can sit outside during the heavy rain and hard winds. As the missus will tell you, I absolutely hate surprises.

Today was a surprise.  Let's try to keep those to a minimum, please.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Foolish People...

Some time ago, I wrote a list of my top pet peeves.  I had said that when I have more, I would add them. Consider this to be an addendum to the list...

One thing that people tend to prattle on and on about is this notion that society 'just cannot ever legislate morality'.  You hear it a lot in the abortion and same-sex marriage debates, among other things.  It doesn't even matter where in the political spectrum the person is, it is very much a meme that has been repeated to the point of being a complete and utter cliché.  However, it is wrong, completely wrong, and it is a thought that needs to be changed.

Repeat after me - all laws are legislated morality.  What's that?  All law is legislated morality? How can that be?  It's actually pretty obvious when you start looking at the laws - against murder, stealing, assault, beating children, and so forth.  All of it is based on the premise that such a things are inherently wrong.  

The real question should not be 'can society legislate morality' (because it most certainly can), but rather, whose morality should society legislate?  Unfortunately, for many people this is an uncomfortable question in these times of relativism and political correctness due to the fact that it (the question) acknowledges that someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong.  It's so much easier to just question whether or not morality can even be legislated. But that, of course, is just a misdirection to avoid the harder question of which morality is the right one.  But it's a direction that needs to be shifted.

Until then, it's just a big dead end.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Eli Manning Makes Me Laugh...

That's pretty funny, actually.  In his own mind, Eli may believe he is an elite quarterback.  Anyone can fool themselves into believing anything.  In 2009 and early 2010, I believed that I could make it into the lower tiers of the PBA, but reality intruded when I did a couple of tournaments and stunk against superior competition.  Will Eli continue to deceive himself?  Count on it:
"I'm not a 25-interception quarterback, I know that," Manning said. "That's going to be fixed and it should be a good year."
Sorry, Eli, numbers don't lie. You are a very good quarterback; in the second tier of good QB's, and many teams would love to have you, but you are not in the same class as Tom Brady.

But, but, but, Eli beat Brady in the Super Bowl!

Trent Dilfer has more rings than Dan Marino and Jim Kelly combined. I rest my case there.

What kills me is that I like Eli Manning (despite him playing for the enemy) and I dislike Tom Brady immensely.  However, that personal bias isn't going to stop me from making the objective judgment that Brady is the superior quarterback.  And let's not forget that Eli isn't even the best quarterback named Manning to currently play in the NFL.  He may get to elite status eventually, but he has produced a large enough sample size that it is getting increasingly unlikely.  

But who knows?  Stranger things have happened.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Damn The Sacrifice Bunt...

Much to my chagrin, when I had returned home from a seminar in Baltimore this evening, the Phillies were losing 3-2 going into the bottom of the ninth inning.  I had followed on my phone and saw that Doc Halladay was left in too long and blew it, but hey, there's a bottom of the ninth for a reason, right?*  Anyway, Carlos Ruiz led off with a walk against Arizona closer J.J. Putz (pronounced as it is spelled, don't let anyone tell you otherwise) and with Michael Martinez (whose first career home run I got to see) stepping up to plate, the announcers began to speculate whether Martinez would be called on to sacrifice Ruiz to second base.  My first thought was...


Now, let's establish this: I hate the sacrifice bunt.  Despise it.  Loath it.  Wish someone would take it out back and put a bullet in its head.  As a fundamental concept, it is flawed; a team has twenty-seven outs to work with, and the idea of giving away something as precious as outs to help your enemy on the field is unthinkable.  Baseball doesn't have a clock, but if it did, think of it having twenty-seven numbers on the face, with each out moving the hand closer to the end.  Why would you deliberately help the 'clock' move along?  There are only two scenarios that I would even consider sacrificing tolerable, sort of a necessary evil.

1) Pitcher who is a weak hitter is up with a runner on first and/or second and less than two outs.  This is mostly to avoid a potential double play; if he bunts or strikes out, he is only making one out instead of two.  So I can understand it, if nothing else.  

2) You are in a) a tie game in the late innings (eighth inning and beyond), b) there is a runner on first and no outs AND c) you are at home.  If there is one out, no bunt.  If there is no force play and the runner is in scoring position already, no bunt.  And most importantly, if you are on the road, DON'T BUNT!

Why are these distinctions important?  If you score the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, you can put your closer in there for the ninth.  If you score the run in the ninth or in extra innings, then obviously the game is over.  If you are in the road in a tie game, then you still have to worry about shutting down the other team even after scoring the go ahead run.

Getting back to the present, the Phillies situation was even worse than bunting in a tie game on the road because they were down a run in the ninth inning.  A team facing a deficit needs hits and baserunners; giving away outs just doesn't cut it.  In fairness, the Diamondbacks tried the same thing with a deficit.  However, they took the lead despite the piss-poor strategy.  

The Phillies put the bunt on for Martinez and he successfully got Ruiz to second base, but in the process took away an extra chance to get him home.  The next two hitters (Ross Glad and Jimmy Rollins) both struck out with Ruiz standing at second base.  Without delving too much into the fallacy of the pre-determined outcome, theoretically the Phillies would have had a third chance to get him in.  Instead, Charlie Manuel opted for the bunt, and took away the one commodity that an offense possesses.  

*I am a pretty hardcore 'Negadelphian', which is the mode of the Philly fan that is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.  However, with the Phillies over the past 3-4 years, that has eroded quite a bit and there is actually some optimism within me.  However, the Eagles still bring out the worst of my Negadelphianism.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Can Help You, Warren...

Warren Buffett has an op-ed in the New York Times today calling upon Congress to stop 'coddling the super-rich'.  Every time I hear or read something like this, I want to throw something or yank my (now receding) hair out.  Why?  

Because there is a way to send money to the Feds without having it built into the tax code.  He can go to this site (part of the Treasury Department) and find out how he can contribute his 'fair share' (whatever that actually means).  As I mention in the footnote of this post, people are being disingenuous if they agitate for higher taxes without mentioning the ability to voluntarily give money to the government.

Mr. Buffett is not a dolt, but must be feeling some kind of guilt.  If that's the case, just give it all to the government.  It will shrink the debt from $15 trillion to $14.96 trillion.  

Gotta start somewhere, right?  Mr. Buffett, show us the way!

*UPDATE* Pat Buchanan has gotten in on the game and has challenged Buffett to write a check for $5 billion to the government.  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Operation Smooth Operator...

This sign is a lie.
So Maryland and DC have brought back the 'aggressive driver' containment campaign known ridiculously as 'Smooth Operator'.  I don't know about you, but when I hear the phrase 'smooth operator', I think of the people who can talk their way out of anything.  I suppose that is sort of an ironic aspect to the whole concept in the first place, but I digress.

What irritates me the most concerning the advertising of this program is the notion that the very action of speeding makes one inherently an 'aggressive driver'.  And that would be a lie.  There are many other things that make one an 'aggressive driver' - tailgating and weaving are the two things that come to mind, and when speeding is mixed in with those two things, I can understand the 'aggressive driving' label.  Speeding by itself, I cannot understand, which brings me to another point: to what degree of speeding makes a driver 'aggressive'?

Is going 66 miles per hour in a speed limit zone of 65 'aggressive'?  According to Smooth Operator, yes it is indeed.  Will it get you pulled over?  I don't know.  I guess it depends on how zealous the police choose to be.  Going 75 in a 65 zone is almost a guarantee to get one pulled over if he is alone on the road, while having literally everyone going 75 in a pack won't get anyone pulled over.  Which one is more likely to endanger people?  The latter, of course, but nothing happens there.  Hence the only conclusion I can decisively draw from the existence of such a program (and its enforcement) is that it is mostly a revenue generator, just like speed cameras.  Safety is just incidental to the whole thing and a convenient excuse.

Too bad.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Top Ten NFL QB's Of All Time

Nick has written up a list of the top quarterbacks in NFL history (Part IPart II) and reading through it, I started thinking how much I disagree with it and thus should come up with my own list of top ten quarterbacks. So without further ado, here is the Lattanzi Land Top Ten NFL Quarterbacks of All Time.

10) Joe Montana (49ers) – He won four Super Bowls and was on the all-time lists for statistics. He doesn’t get higher up on the list for three four reasons – a) He should have won SIX Super Bowls but like the complete wimp he was, he got knocked out of a bunch of playoff games; b) he was a ‘system QB’ in the purest sense (i.e. he was a robot built by Bill Walsh, but not a durable one – see above), c) he didn’t even have the common courtesy to remain standing for the signature play of his career, and d) those Skechers commercials make him look like a child molester.

9) Terry Bradshaw (Steelers) – Like Montana, he also won four Super Bowls; unlike Montana, he gets remembered by John Facenda in all the NFL Films specials, which makes him much cooler. Bradshaw also has a better singing voice; his duet with Paul McCartney is one of the most moving memories of my life. Finally, he didn’t destruct when a stiff breeze blew over him like Montana. However, he doesn’t rate higher because his success was due to a sheet of steel, a ballet dancer, and of all things, an Italian army.

8) Kenny Stabler (Raiders) – Stabler is on the list for his proximity to so many miracles in his career, whether for or against him. Fastest ever to 100 wins at the time and a holds a Super Bowl victory. What bumps him up is having to put up with John Madden as his head coach for much of his career: “Now, Ken, if we are going to be successful, you are going to have to complete passes and throw touchdowns.”

7) Len Dawson (Chiefs) – one of the greatest AFL quarterbacks of all time, and a Super Bowl victor as well. His ring counts for one and a half (which is one and a half more than Dan Marino, by the way), because he won as an AFL QB and because of the big gambling scandal that threatened to break out. Not every man can play under that strain. Spygate? Pfft. Big deal. Some cameras in practice, who cares? We are talking about GAMBLIN’, man! The most eeeeevil thing that can happen in sports. Just ask Pete Rose. Or Art Schlicter. And Len Dawson won with that over his head. That’s how you become one of the greats!

6) Troy Aikman (Cowboys) – No quarterback in history was as good as Aikman in taking the ball through the center’s legs and…handing it off to the most prolific running back in history. A true leader! No one could delegate authority like Troy Aikman, and it goes to show that you don’t have to do it all yourself. One of the great field generals of all time. Like Patton, Aikman never had to actually fire a cannon or a gun to succeed in leading one of the greatest armies of his era.

5) Jim Plunkett (Raiders)  – Two-time Super Bowl champion and has the amazing distinction of being the only quarterback in the history of the NFL to defeat the Eagles in the Super Bowl*. He was also so good that TV networks use film of him playing when they show career highlights of other quarterbacks. If that isn’t incredible, I don’t know what is!

4) Jeff Hostetler (Giants) – First, no one can ever argue with a 112.0 passer rating in a postseason career. Secondly, who else has a cool nickname like ‘Hoss’? Just think of the possibilities. Thirdly, Hostetler has the distinction of beginning the complete and utter disintegration of the NFL franchise formerly known as the Buffalo Bills in what is the single greatest Super Bowl of all time, bar none. Guys like Aikman are mere beneficiaries of the truly groundbreaking moments for which Hostetler was responsible. A true American hero!

3) Joe Namath (Jets) – Only once in the history did anyone guarantee victory on camera against a behemoth of a favorite in an NFL-AFL World Championship Game and succeed. Hence, Joe Willie Namath. Also provided on of the signature shots of ABC Sports for some time. Put that along with some epic pantyhose ads, a Simpsons appearance, and a blog named after his most embarrassing drunken moment, there is no possible way that he couldn’t crack the top three.

2) Trent Dilfer (Ravens) – Super Bowl champion. Yes, hard to believe, isn’t it? But before you chuckle, remember some things about Dilfer. a) He was so good that the Ravens were able to win games despite not scoring a single offensive touchdown for a month. b) He was also such a great leader that the Ravens allowed the fewest points in modern NFL history. c) He never lost a game as the starter in that great Raven season. Don’t forget also, that he makes appearances on ESPN’s SportsNation, which is the most important show on the World Wide Leader In Sports. How many appearances has Dan Marino made on SportsNation?

1) Bob Griese (Dolphins) – Only completely undefeated season ever. No one can ever top this.  Are there any questions?

*Some will say Tom Brady should be on the list of QB’s who have beaten the Eagles, but since the Patriots were filthy rotten criminals and cheaters, that game never happened and thus Plunkett remains the only QB to ever beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Yes, Please Take Them All!!

Reading Taranto's Best of the Web column on WSJ, I stumbled upon this, from Yahoo's 'Contributor Network', which, by the way, sounds like a ripoff of sorts of the HuffPo - free labor and all that, but I digress. Anyway, the headline says:

Would a PETA-Sponsored Vegan Mars Colony Be Viable?

They are hoping that private investor Elon Musk of SpaceX will help them realize this dream.  I hope he helps them realize this dream.  The Earth will be much better off if these people go to another world to establish a vegan colony.  Let's make it happen!  If Mr. Musk decides that this is indeed a viable option, I will even contribute money to this cause, just so I (and many others) can continue to devour tasty animals at my leisure and delight.  I am prepared to contribute...


Oh wait, is that too cheap?  Ok, ok.  After a change of heart, I am prepared to contribute...


No more than that, though; I need money for Popeye's, McDonald's, Wawa, Shoppers, and Giant.

PETA wants to go to Mars?  Let them go.  They want this.  I want this.  We can build on this!

Bring Back Robert Gibbs...

...because his successor as Press Secretary/Lackey is an incompetent boob who can't answer fundamental questions about the claims he (and by extension the administration) makes.  Press Secretary Jay Carney says that that extending unemployment benefits could create one million new jobs.  And then the fun begins...
"I understand why extending unemployment insurance provides relief to people who need it, but how does that create jobs," Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler asked Jay Carney at Wednesday's WH briefing.

Carney responded: "Oh, uh, it is by, uh, I would expect a reporter from the Wall Street Journal would know this as part of the entrance exam."
In other words, "I don't have an answer, so I'll just be a complete smart-ass instead!" Cute. Really cute.  How about the real answer, which is, it doesn't, and in fact would hamper hiring because employers would have to shell out more money to fund the unemployment insurance program.  It's shockingly simple, and yet so many people either are ignorant of the issue or willfully blinding themselves due to ideological primacy.

Again...less money = less hiring.

(Before anyone starts complaining at me about how those big eeeeevil corporations are "sitting on trillions", let me remind you that most employment in our fair country does not come from those corporations, and so to bring this up is a glorious non-sequitur of the first order.)

Carney then attempts to answer the question:
"It is one of the most direct ways to infuse money directly into the economy because people who are unemployed and obviously aren't running a paycheck are going to spend the money that they get. They're not going to save it, they're going to spend it. And with unemployment insurance, that way, the money goes directly back into the economy, dollar for dollar virtually."
I am not even going to get into the quasi-doublethink of how transferring money from one hand to another can cause 'growth', but rather let's look at this from a practical matter.  An unemployment check could be a thousand dollars or fifteen hundred dollars a month. Consider what one has to pay in the normal expenses of life - rent, gas, utilities, food.  That's about it, if it even goes that far.  There is no room for anything that would remotely be considered 'luxurious', which is where the true expansion of the economy takes place, thus creating more employment.  

A system that essentially incestuously recycles money is only at best going to maintain the status quo and at worst, continue to contract.  With all the attempts at 'stimulus' over the past 2 1/2 years, that is exactly what we have gotten - stagnation at best, continued contraction at worst.  

America in 2011, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

That's Awesome!

Apparently, this is on the clubhouse playlist before every Phillies game, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer...

Baseball players are creatures of habit and, as Gelb notes, of superstition. If this is thought to be a good luck charm, then more power to them. Considering the Phillies are 76-40 and have gone 8-1 on a tough west coast swing, I'd say it's working!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Great Onion Headline...

Oh wait, that's NOT the Onion?  Damn, could have fooled me.

Just reading the story/blog post made me chortle.  Thank you Andrew Malcolm...
The master of finance who has so successfully assisted President Obama in boosting the national debt by more than $3 trillion, driving unemployment back north of 9% by spending only $787 billion in stimulus funds, corroding consumer confidence and presiding over the first federal credit downgrading in history has agreed to stick around to continue his impressive work for this Democratic administration.

Geithner is the sole survivor of President Obama's opening economic team. Obama is reported pleased.
High comedy.  Although the rest of the piece gets serious.  For example...
Recent polls found Obama losing ground against any Republican opponent. The continued tenure of a treasury secretary who couldn't file his own accurate income taxes before being appointed should only help further.
Yeah, I'd say that is a problem.  Although we haven't seen any results of that just yet. 

JFK, The Jokester...

Not John F. Kennedy, mind you, but John F. Kerry, current US Senator (D - Massachusetts) and former Democratic nominee for President. Anyway, he has been en fuego lately with a couple of different statements that just have to make me laugh due to their patent absurdity...

The first had to do with ordering politely suggesting that the media merely ignore the Tea Party and not give it equal time in any way, shape, or form (via Real Clear Politics):
"And I have to tell you, I say this to you politely. The media in America has a bigger responsibility than it’s exercising today. The media has got to begin to not give equal time or equal balance to an absolutely absurd notion just because somebody asserts it or simply because somebody says something which everybody knows is not factual."
Now, the last time I checked, Kerry was a proponent of the Fairness Doctrine. Methinks he dost protest too much there.  The least he could do is be prepared to show consistency in his positions, but I am not expecting the media that he is decrying to actually call him out on his double standards.  Must be nice to live in an echo chamber.  

The second one comes on the heels of the downgrade of the United States' Standard and Poor's credit rating from AAA (Triple A) to AA+ (Double A plus).  Apparently, it was the Tea Party's fault that the credit rating got downgraded, because you know, they were just being gigantic meanieheads and all that.  Never mind that the Tea Party Caucus is about, what 25 members, or 7% of the entire Congress?  Let's not have the facts get in the way of the narrative, which apparently is what is being passed around in liberal circles these days*.  No, no, can't talk about how the Senate hasn't passed a budget in eons or that deficits have been ramped up immensely during the Obama administration.  

It's all the Tea Party's fault!  I am taking my ball and going home!  

*I get annoyed when I hear ostensibly different people (and this isn't really limited to one party, although more common to Democrats) say the exact same phrase while trying to make it sound organic and original.  "Tea Party downgrade" is neither an organic nor original phrase - it sounds precisely like a focus group-tested phrase or something that came out of a Media Matters seminar.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Four "Price Is Right" Contestants...

I have been watching The Price Is Right for about twenty-five years now and like any fan of the show, I have my favorite games and events.  But of more interest to me are the contestants themselves.  Using a large enough sample in watching, I have developed a theory as to the prototypical contestants.  There are four main ones...

1) College students - you see them permeate the audience, taking a day trip from whatever school they attend in the hopes of being selected to Contestants' Row. If they were anything like me, they probably watch the show at 11:00 in the dining hall while eating lunch.  It was a quasi-religious ritual

2) Charismatic black women - controversial?  Perhaps, but remember that the people who select contestants are looking for telegenic and outgoing candidates.  A game show is tailor-made and screaming for stereotypes in some sense, because it drives up ratings.

3) Old people - just pay attention to the commercials CBS runs during the 11:00 hour.  What products are they selling?  Power chairs, denture adhesives, small-amount life-insurance policies, diabetes supplies, and adult diapers.  Are there any questions?

4) Military personnel - almost always in their full uniform and it allows CBS to show its support of the troops, something that Drew Carey is especially known to do, being a former Marine.  

Those are the main four that make up close to about 80% of the contestants.  The other 20% comprise of...everyone else: southern housewives, gangsters, middle-aged men living in their mom's basement, twenty-somethings who desperately want to be in college again, Drew Carey fanboys (or fangirls), and midgets.  I usually take note that out of the nine contestants who are told to 'Come on down!', three at most are from this 20%, and that's not as common as one would think, at least in my observation...

But I could be wrong.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Where's The Line? A Look At "Unwritten Rules"...

Yesterday provided some interesting drama in the Tigers-Angels game.  It was a matchup of two high-level pitchers, Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver.  Verlander pitched well and had a no-hitter going into the eighth inning.  Fireworks broke out in the 7th inning when Carlos Guillen flipped his bat and mouthed off to Weaver when he hit a home run.  Weaver got ejected when threw at the head of the next batter.  

When the game moved to the eighth inning, Erick Aybar attempted to get on base via a bunt; he succeeded, although the play was ruled an error.  Later in the inning the Angels got a hit but would fall short, 3-2.  After the game there was a lot of talk about the so-called 'unwritten rules' of baseball.  Fans will remember Curt Schilling and co. getting sore when Ben Davis of the Padres bunted to break up his perfect game ten years ago. My brother and I had a variation of this conversation, and unsurprisingly, we were in a lot of agreement about the big points.  However, as with a lot of things, the devil is in the details.

The disagreement we had to the degree by which particular actions 'cross the line', so to speak into the territory of bad taste, or as they would say in baseball, 'bush league'.  In other words, almost all actions that are spoken of in the 'unwritten rules' are perfectly legal, but are considered by many to violate the 'spirit' of the rules.  Easy example - it's perfectly legal to steal a base when up by a score of 25-0 in the 9th inning, but it would be considered almost universally to be bad form to do so.  

What about no-hitters and perfect games?  I think Jim Leyland and Mike Scioscia have it correct - it's a close game and baserunners are needed.  Therefore, it is perfectly fine to bunt in order to try and get on base.   It was a 3-0 game at that point; the Schilling perfecto mentioned above had a score of 2-0.  Lest the defenders of the so-called 'unwritten rules' forget, baseball is first and foremost about....winning!  I know, I know, it's a tough concept to grasp.  

My brother and I were in agreement with the managers there.  Where we broke apart was whether it is always ok to break up a no-hitter in the name of 'saving face', or as he put it, 'to avoid becoming the answer to a trivia question'.  I think there are times when it is absolutely wrong to do such a thing.  When your team is down by ten runs in the last two innings of a game, it is bad form to bunt.  Legal, of course, but it is also 'bush league'.  You have no chance of winning the game and it just demonstrates a particular selfish desire to look good even as that player is putting himself and teammates in danger of retaliation.  He said that it doesn't matter what the situation is, you should bunt to break it up.  I advise the words of St. Paul - 'everything is lawful, but not everything is beneficial' (1 Corinthians 6:12).  

Yes, there is no rule against it, and is thus permissible, but it doesn't look good and it doesn't reflect well.  So a good rule of thumb in regard to situations like these is to look at the score.  A grand-slam proof game (i.e. a lead of five runs or more) would make it look bad.  If the lead is four or less, then it is entirely permissible.  Reasonable people will disagree, but when it comes to 'rules' that are not written down, this is the best that we can do.

Law Of Unintended Consequences Strikes Again...

Or perhaps it was intended, as the Obama administration is going to require all insurance companies to cover contraception with no copays.  

I am not sure where to start with this one, other than why are insurance companies being dictated to as to what they should and should not cover.  But then, you have to get back to the heart of the whole health care reform bill, which was specifically designed to dictate what kind of medical coverage people should and shouldn't get.

Supporters will say 1) It doesn't start until 2013 and 2) religious organizations can apply for exemptions.  Sorry, but that doesn't really fly, because anyone who has a policy is going to have to pay more for it:
Insurers are expected to pass the cost on to their customers through slightly higher premiums.
No kidding!  The one thing the Obama administration (especially the President himself) hasn't gotten through its collective skull is that if you raise costs (and/or taxes) on businesses, they (the businesses) don't pay it, the consumer does.  Or maybe they do know and just don't care, and thus people are left with only two options on how to view the folks (to use an Obama word) in the administration: 1) Incompetence or 2) Malevolence.  Neither is a comfortable choice, but those are it.

Now, back to the actual topic at hand, contraception is something that shouldn't be covered anyway.  It's an elective drug that should be paid out of pocket one-hundred percent of the time by the one who desires it.  


Certainly it is, but it's also my right not to have to subsidize it through either higher taxes or higher medical premiums.  The same principle applies to nose jobs, facelifts, tummy tucks, and even abortion, which at least 92% of the time is a method of birth control in itself.  

Let's also not forget the grand irony of an ordered subsidizing of contraception - the State has, ostensibly, an interest in promoting the growth of families.  More children means a bigger tax base in the future as well as more labor to continue funding a government pyramid scheme Social Security.  Instead, they are guaranteeing the eventual death of society and a continued spiral of negative growth over the next generations.  

But that's the way they want it...