Saturday, December 31, 2005

More Cambodian opposition figures charged with "defamation"

It looks like things are headed back towards the Bad Old Days in Cambodia, as several opposition leaders have recently been charged and/or convicted of "criminal defamation" of the ruling coalition.

Our CIT coverage started last week when Sam Rainsy was sentenced in absentia to 18 months in prison for defaming Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh. Now, several other leaders, including Kem Sokha, leader of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, have had the same book thrown at them.

This is not good. Governments around the world should condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms.

Did I forget the Rose Bowl?

Had an emailer ask me about the National Championship Game, asking why I had nothing to say on it. It's not so much that I don't have anything to say. I just don't have anything to say that hasn't already been said by 500 other people.

However, since it is right around the corner (sort of), I guess I should record my thoughts for posterity.

First and foremost - I can't remember a college football game I was looking forward to more. I remember really anticipating the regular season game between Switzer's Sooners and Jimmy's Hurricanes back in 1986, but it was nothing like this. I'm literally trying not to think about it because when I do, I can't wait for it.

Which way does it go? I've got a gut feeling that Texas is going to hang in there til the bitter end, and I really think the 'Horns have a legit shot at winning. Their defense is tougher than anything USC has faced, and everyone on the UT offense can run like crazy. I think the weakest unit on the field will be the Trojan defensive secondary. If Texas can get the running game going (and they have against everyone they've played), I think things will loosen up enough that Vince will win the game through the air.

What can go wrong? Only about a million things:

Mack could have a total meltdown and start calling plays from the 1993 Tarheels playbook. It's certainly a possibility, but it really seems to me that Texas has pretty much thrown out the playbook this year. Doesn't it look like Brown's main contribution to the offense each week is shouting out, "Go win the game, Vince."? It appears that way to me.

Reggie Bush could really be as unstoppable as he's looked. Maybe he is. He's been a man among boys the past few games, but none of those have been against a Texas-caliber defense.

Matt Leinart could be the second coming of Roger Staubach. I have no evidence to indicate that he's not.

Pete Carroll could really be a college football genius. If he is, he'll be the only one on the field, because Mack Brown sure ain't. However, I can't get the picture of a clueless Carroll patrolling the Jets and Pats sidelines in the 90s out of my head. He sure wasn't a football genius in those days. Maybe he's sold his soul to Old Scratch since then. It's possible. He is in LA, after all.

I can think of about a zillion scenarios where the 'Horns get their asses handed to them by USC. However, when I shake off the paranoia, I still think that this is the year.

Come on Jan 4!!!

Friday, December 30, 2005

WTF - Tropical Storm Zeta?

The 27th named storm of 2005 has formed in the middle of the Atlantic. Tropical Storm Zeta poses no threat to land at this time.

Tropical weather season runs through the end of November. Storms have formed in December before, exactly 7 times, including Hurricane Epsilon earlier this month, but this may be the latest we've ever seen one.

Brace yourself for more of this sort of thing, as the NHC warns that hurricane seasons will be busy for the next 10 to 50 years.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Genius practical joke

Here's a video that is pure genius - a bunch of guys TiVo'd the Texas Lottery drawing, then went out and bought a ticket with the winning numbers. They played back the drawing and let one of their friends think that he had the winning ticket in his hands.

Poor sap. Of course, he's wearing an Aggie t-shirt, so it's hard to work up MUCH sympathy.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Don't play this back at work or in front of the kids. The language is, as they say, a bit salty.

SBC changes to AT&T - target market asks "Why?"

Brad Feld had some choice comments regarding SBC's transformation to the AT&T brand. As a dissatisfied customer of both brands, I am right there with Brad, asking, "Why bother?"

My proposed slogan for this latest candidate for "World's Worst Company" was along the lines proposed by Brad. I like "Trying harder every day to suck less". At least that's honest. Assuming they are, you know, trying.

Meet the new Rangers ace

Here's an MSNBC article covering the BIG Kevin Millwood press conference in Arlington today. I can't tell you how excited I am about this signing.

The headline of the article stopped me in my tracks - "Texas' commitment to winning sways Millwood". In years past, I would have completely laughed this off. The only commitment the Rangers have shown lately is to padding Big Dumb Tom's wallet. Not this year. Time will tell if this is the pivotal offseason, but the addition of Millwood, Eaton, and Padilla, with the possibility still out there that Clemens will be here too, and the loss of very little (with the exception of Soriano - that one may hurt) means that we've witnessed the Rangers' single best free-agent expedition in the past 20 years and maybe ever.

I am JACKED UP about this year. There are still questions in the bullpen, but there always are. The DVD boys are in the wings, Frankie Francisco ought to be back with some anger management under his belt, Coco Cordero has been automatic the past couple of years, Otsuka ought to bring something, and the offense shouldn't miss much even without Soriano.

Let's GO!!

UPDATE: The great TR Sullivan in the Fort Worth Startlegram lists the 10 biggest free-agent signings in Rangers' history. This one is bigger than any of them, in terms of making the Rangers a legit contender.

World's worst baby-sitter

This is every parent's worst nightmare. Juan Reyes was left to supervise two little kids (2 and 3 years old), got completely pissed, passed out on the couch, and let the two-year-old drink enough hooch to blow a .09.

Truly disturbing.

RES-Q Infant Wedge info

The RES-Q Infant Wedge made it into OT Advance magazine and their Web site in the past few days, and we've seen a spike in visitors who are Googling that term.

For those of you interested in receiving more info on the RES-Q Infant Wedge, esp since OT Advance left out the ordering info, you can email me at and I will pass it on.

For additional reading material on the wedge, you can read my less-than-technical post on the subject here.

Thanks for your interest!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Cogill's top and bottom 10 movies of 2005

The great Gary Cogill (movie critic extrodinaire from WFAA Channel 8 in Dallas) has posted his 10 Best and 10 Worst movies of 2005. I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't seen many of either list, but I take Cog's word most of the time.

I have only two quibbles: I have read in other places that Crash takes itself a bit too seriously, and how in the world was anything worse than Duece Bigelow: European Gigolo?

Wonder what this homepage will look like next week?

Geez, man. Everyone's got a Website.

Poor Billy. What's going to be here tomorrow? A "For Sale" sign?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Sporty sports

Before we get too far down the road, I need to comment a bit on a few of the larger sports stories here in Big D over the past few days. There have been many, including the Mavs rise to the very tippy top of the Western Conference, despite getting lit up like fireflies by Kobe, and the tremendous performances turned in by Mr. Martin Turco of late. However, I'm going to blow past those (wake me up after the Super Bowl if you want NBA or NHL talk), and go to the two very biggest: Cowboys-Panthers and Kevin Millwood.

Headline #1: I wish I was as thin as the Cowboys' playoff chances

While Dallas is mathematically still in it, the odds were better for the Christians in the Coliseum. The Cowboys showed tremendous heart, coming back from 10-0 to the Panthers, and with some attention paid to the O line this offseason, there's every reason to be hopeful for next year. But, let's face it: The 'Boys dug their own grave against the Giants and Redskins. A win in either of those games, and we're not talking about Old Testament-style miracles necessary to make the playoffs.

It was great to see #21 reel off 194 yards. Where the heck has Julius Jones been? And why did he choose this game to return? Whatever his reasons, I was glad to see it. No more disappearing acts, dude.

They aren't The Triplets of old, but Bledsoe-Glenn-Johnson are my current-crop favorite Cowboys. All three quieted a lot of their critics with their performances all year and esp in this must-win game. I really hope Keyshawn gets a chance in the playoffs this year or next. He's so like Irvin in every way, except in the BIG games. That may be just because he hasn't played in that many. I'd like to find out.

I'll even give the Pear-Shaped "Football Genius" his due. After the rancid performance in DC, he got this team to dig deep and come up big when they absolutely had to do it. There's no way the team would have responded the same way to Switzer, Gailey, or Campo.

While Saturday was fun, it's too much to hope for that Carolina or Washington are going to lose. I know, I know, stranger things have happened. But both the Panthers and the 'Skins are playing must-win games against poor teams (Atlanta and Philadelphia, respectively). At least we'll know before Cowboys-Rams kickoff whether the game is going to mean anything.

Headline #2: Winter of discontent no more

As mentioned here on Monday night, the near-impossible has happened in that the Rangers have signed a legitimate free-agent pitcher. Kevin Millwood, he of the 3.76 lifetime ERA and 107-75 lifetime record, has become the Rangers first REAL ace since, crap, I don't know. Nolan Ryan? Jeez, Jim Kern? Whatever. In a long time.

Millwood has been known to throw some fly balls, which is scary here. Regardless, the guy throws a consistent 92 mph fastball and he has a mean sinker and slider. That's FAR better than anything the Rangers have run out there in eons.

Suddenly, the Rangers rotation doesn't look like the Marx Brothers anymore. I can live with Millwood-Eaton-Padilla-Loe?-Dominguez? or some variation on that.

Jon Daniels is off to a very promising start. He's made some stuff happen this off-season. We'll see how it pans out, but so far, very impressive. I take back all the bad stuff I said after the Beckett fiasco.

And we've got to give some credit to Big Not-So-Dumb Tom also. He not only opened the wallet, but did so for what appears to be the right guy. The Millwood signing seems, on the surface at least, to be MUCH less risky than the Chan Ho Park signing a few years ago. That may be hindsight, but I remember thinking, "Chan Ho Park? Five years? Sixty-five million dollars? Is Tom baked?" Not so this time.

Let's go, pitchers and catchers! I'm ready!

Palestinian mastermind of Munich has a few words for movie, Israel

Mohammed Daoud planned Black September's attack on the Israeli Olympic team in Munich in 1972, and time hasn't cooled his fervor much.

Daoud recently granted a rare interview with the Western press (specifically, Reuters), and showed about zero regret for his actions.

"We did not target Israeli civilians," he said. "Some of them (the athletes) had taken part in wars and killed many Palestinians. Whether a pianist or an athlete, any Israeli is a soldier."

This is, of course, a slightly softer way of saying, "Every Israeli must be killed or driven out of the Middle East."

A quote regarding the movie and Spielberg's statement that it his "prayer for peace": "Spielberg showed the movie to widows of the Israeli victims, but he neglected the families of Palestinian victims," said Daoud. "How many Palestinian civilians were killed before and after Munich?"

Spielberg, by the way, insists that he tried hard to present a "fair and balanced look at the Palestinians involved in the story." Judging by the harsh reaction the film has received from some quarters in Israel, it appears that he succeeded. When the Israeli right wing starts complaining about the "humanizing" of terrorists, you're probably seeing a pretty accurate portrayal.

Officials "blameless" in Beslan massacre

Russian prosecutors investigating last years' deadly siege in Beslan, North Ossetia and the even-more-deadly attempt to lift it have determined that officials on the scene and in Moscow made no (that is, zero) mistakes.

Let's take a moment to remember that more than 330 people lost their lives in this series of events, many of them little kids. There's a great deal of debate regarding the timing of the raid that was supposed to lift the siege: Did government forces storm the school after explosives placed by the Chechan terrorists started to detonate? Or did the explosions start after the raid began?

The victims' relatives are already good and mad at the Putin government. This won't help matters.

Too late for Xmas, but great gift nonetheless

For the sushi fan in your life, here is a set of soy-sauce dispensing chopsticks.

This is either American ingenuity at its best, or American sloth at its worst. I'll go with the ingenuity choice, buy you probably already knew that.

Monday, December 26, 2005

HOLY S**T!!! Rangers get Millwood!

I'm stunned!! Shocked!!!

The Rangers have signed free agent pitcher Kevin Millwood to a 5 year, $60 million contract. The length and the dough are both huge, but history has shown that the Rangers have to money whip decent pitchers.

More info on this later. For the moment, the headline says it all! HOLY S**T!!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Bin Laden's niece appears in GQ without much clothing

Wafah Dufour might be just another attractive, young, aspiring pop-star from Southern California. Sure, she's of Middle Eastern descent, but so was Danny Thomas, right? Who cares?

Except Wafah Dufour isn't just another wannabe. Her dad is a guy named Yeslam Binladin, who's from a huge, wealthy Saudi family. You may have heard of their most famous family member - a slightly wacky proponent of questionable hygiene named Uncle Osama.

That's right, Wafah Dufour, whom you can see quite a bit of in this month's GQ, is Osama bin Laden's niece. There's a bit of delicious payback here. I SINCERELY hope that someone manages to pass a copy along to old Uncle Osama.

Rep. Conyers' wife in barroom brawl

In a move that will probably cause her husband's poll numbers to go thru the roof, Monica Conyers, wife of Rep John Conyers (D - MI), was involved in some sort of barroom altercation in Detroit on Tuesday.

The fact that there was an altercation is not disputed, only the nature of said altercation is. Not surprisingly, Mrs. Conyers and the other involved party, one Rebecca Mews, have some difference of opinion as to who did what.

Now if it had been a senator's wife who got into a barroom brawl, THAT would be news.

Where does Santa live?

According to CNN, he has a place in northern Iceland. I kind like Lapland for the office and a rad pad in Helsinki for the offseason, but I'm Jewish - what do I know about Santa?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Uh-oh - opposition being harshly suppressed in Cambodia

Just when the rule of law seemed to be taking hold in Cambodia, today we have a BBC story that appears to be a significant step backwards.

Sam Rainsy (who only sounds like the guy who works at the Exxon station on the corner) has been the leading voice of the opposition to the Hun Sen-Prince Norodom Ranariddh coalition government for several years. His political party, the not-very-catchingly-named Sam Rainsy Party, holds a few seats in the parliament, but his primary contribution has been that of a gadfly.

Sam Rainsy has been sentenced in absentia to 18 months in prison for remarks he made about both Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh. He had claimed that Hun Sen had been involved in a grenade attack on a Sam Rainsy Party rally several years ago, and that Ranariddh had accepted bribes to form the coalition.

This kind of prosecution for "defamation" has become more regular in Cambodia recently. Hun Sen, who has resorted to all sorts of tricks, dirty and not so dirty, to retain power for the past 15 years, is showing no signs of letting go of the reins and letting democracy work in this very sad country.

Must-have mobile phone gadget

The unfortunately named USB Phonebook Flasher is a great gizmo; one that I wish I'd had a few months ago when my long-service LG croaked on me.

We've all been there, right? You've built up a phonebook of hundreds of contacts stored in your mobile, but you have no way of backing them up. If you're a Cingular customer, you can move your numbers to your SIM card, but good luck trying to decipher which number is Bob's mobile number, which one is his office number, and which one is his home number. If you're a Verizon customer, you're completely out of luck.

Then your phone dies. Getting a new phone is easy enough. The hard part is spending an entire night plugging all your contacts into the new phonebook or, worse yet, emailing everyone you've ever met to beg for their phone numbers so you can plug them in.


With the aforementioned USB Phonebook Flasher, you can periodically take backups of your mobile's phone book, plug the gadget into your USB port, and transfer it, intact, to your PC. Then, when your phone dies, you can reverse the process to the new phone and, voila, you're back in business.


I miss Tom Friedman

Greg Djerejian of The Belgravia Dispatch recently shared a cab with Tom Friedman of the NYT. As you may be aware, you can't read Friedman's columns on the NYT site anymore, unless you're willing to pony up $50/year to join "TimeSelect", which I am not as a matter of principle.

My loss, as far as Friedman goes. Djerejian reprinted a bit of a Friedman column on the next steps in Iraq following the election. As always, it's rational, positive, and well-written.

I miss that guy. Not $50-miss-him, but I do miss him.

Turkey and Iran - not exactly pals

Under the radar recently, both CIA Director Porter Goss and FBI Director Robert Mueller paid separate visits to Turkey. One of the main topics of both visits, according to a variety of sources quoted by Winds of Change, was Iran.

You may or may not be aware of this (I didn't know much about it), but Iran and Turkey are not exactly kissing cousins. Both are majority-Muslim countries, but that's pretty much where the similarity ends. While Iran is ruled by a radical Islamic theocracy, headed by their nut-job President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Turkey represents the other end of the spectrum; it is a secular, relatively democratic country that is actively seeking close ties to the West.

There's long been speculation that Iran sponsors a Kurdish-Islamic seperatist movement that opposes the Turkish government. And the development of nuclear weapons by Iran would scare the crap out of Turkey.

The Winds of Change article is a good read, giving a lot of in-depth information regarding the sore spots in the relationship between the two countries. There are quite a few of those.

The state of the debate in the American Muslim community

An interesting article on tcsdaily today. Stephen Schwartz, who has written quite a bit on the American Muslim community, presents a piece on "Why American Muslims Stay Silent" in the face of Islamic extremism.

His answer might surprise you. It certainly did me. Schwartz says the American and British Muslim communities are more dominated by Saudi- and Pakistani-influenced extremists than many Islamic nations in the Middle East.

His primary culprit is something he calls the "Wahhabi Lobby" (catchy, ain't it?), primarily consisting of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is backed by donations from Saudi Arabia as well as the noted humanitarians organization Hamas. CAIR is often in the thick of any conflict regarding "Islamic sensitivities" in the US, crying foul whenever Muslims are portrayed in a less-than-flattering light.

CAIR is also, Schwartz says, active in shouting down moderate Islamic voices in the US. They are quick to pounce on Muslims who speak in conciliatory terms or who urge moderation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or other Muslim-world hotspots.

It's this pressure, says Schwartz, that keeps moderate Muslims from speaking out in the West and which, in my opinion, furthers the image of the Islamic faith as one of extremism and intolerance.

It's thought provoking reading. I encourage you to check it out.

NY transit strike from the New Yorkers perspective

The NY transit strike has been resolved, and not to the union's liking. One of the biggest reasons it got resolved so quickly was the reaction of the NY public.

The union had figured the average working New Yorker was going to come down on their side. They miscalculated in a big way. Despite the best efforts of the far left, this did not turn into the "class struggle" the union expected. Instead, it pointed out the huge gap between private-sector working people and those who work in the public sector.

The union-controlled public sector still gets things like 100% paid medical insurance, pensions, and retirement at 55. Needless to say, not many workers in the private sector get anything like those benefits. It's difficult for a $30,000-a-year clerk at Citibank to sympathize with a transit worker who makes more money, pays less for better benefits, and drives a train around in a circle all day.

Instead of becoming a "Workers of the World, Unite!" moment, this turned into another example of why labor unions have become so irrelevant in 21st century America.

Hot Sports Opinion on Damon-to-Yankees

Beth from Cursed to First has the hottest of Hot Sports Opinions regarding the Boston media's reaction to Damon's defection to the Evil Empire. A sample:
Wow. My blood pressure just zoomed into the red zone reading that again,
even though I knew it was coming this time. I really can hardly stand it. I's bullshit. It's just bullshit. Apparently we've never lost a free
agent before? Apparently there's never been a hole to fill in the off-season
before? I'd like to see just how many other MLB teams "know" they have the Red
Sox, with their $130 million payroll, playoffs three years in a row, among the
largest sports markets in the United States, and recent World Series
championship, "over a barrel."

At risk of sounding like I'm straight out of 1998, you GO, girl!

Read the whole thing!

OPEC meets w/ China

Chinese officials and OPEC representatives met recently, in a scene that must have been right out of the cantina on Tatooine in Star Wars.

China has, of course, turned into one of the world's largest consumers of OPEC petroleum. The Chinese are anxious to secure supplies of energy, and the OPEC folks are interested in further developing what could easily be the largest energy market in the world.

Neither the Chinese nor the Arabs are noted for their acceptance of "foreigners", and it's hard to imagine two more different cultures. The Chinese have been repressing their Muslim Uighur minority for decades, at times brutally.

Business sure does make for strange bedfellows, doesn't it?

For the umpteenth time, wouldn't it be just wonderful to develop some alternative forms of energy, so that the whole world could tell OPEC to shove it up their wazoos.

Chechen women suffering from mass illness

A mysterious mass illness has struck the women and girls of Chechnya. More than 70 people have been suffering from breathing problems, headaches, irrational fears, and panic attacks for the past few weeks.

Officials earlier this week were saying they suspected nerve gas. Now, they're changing their story, saying it could be psychological reaction to the 10 years of fighting between Chechen rebels and the Russian Federation.

The war has been fought both in Chechnya and Russia, and has been as nasty as any conflict in human history. Psychological damage to the residents of the region is certainly not out of the question. However, the brutality of the conflict makes the use of chemical weapons by one or both sides a real possibility as well.

Alistair Cooke's bones stolen - not kidding

In the creepiest story I've ever run across, the bones of the late, great Alistair Cooke appear to have been stolen prior to his cremation.

Cooke, the longtime host of BBC's Letter From America, and PBS's Alistair Cooke's America, died of cancer (which had spread to his bones) in March 2004. He was 95.

The story is that a ring of body-part thieves, including surgeons, mortuary workers, and "entrepreneurs", surgically removed his bones prior to his cremation. His family was given the ashes of his remaining, um, remains, which they then spread around Central Park in New York.

Needless to say, his family is outraged. Also needless to say, the theft of cancerous bones from an elderly body for reuse in transplants violates about a billion laws of both man and God.

Dope-scented candles

Don't you buy candles to cover up the smell of weed? For whatever reason, you can buy these to cover the smell of your perfume/cooking/laundry detergent with the pungent scent of marijuana.

Buy some as a gift for your college-age kid and watch them become very popular in their dorm.

And, does anyone call it "dope" anymore?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I don't remember THESE Christmas specials

The Ticket's own Gordon Keith, who reminds us on a daily basis that, with the right medications, the mentally ill can be contributing members of society, writes a weekly column for Belo's Quick newspaper. Usually, his weekly offering is full of deeply disturbing images and grotesque humor. And it's always worth a look.

This week, Gordon reminisces on some Christmas specials he saw as a child. I don't remember any of these, but maybe that's because my parents closely screened my television schedule.

Links I refuse to post

I stole the headline from Gordon Keith, and the link itself from Geeding. I have no idea why I'm posting this, but here it goes:

If you have a flatulence problem (I'm not singling anyone out!), you can use this filter in your drawers to absorb the odor. The filters themselves were developed from the same materials used in chemical warfare suits.

As a bonus, you'll find all sorts of other flatulence-related products at the bottom of the distributor's page.

That's it. No more on this subject. Ever. I promise. Unless I run across something funny, in which case I'll probably post it.

No beer sales at Jets-Pats game this week

In a move that tells you all you need to know about Jets fans, the Jets organization announced today that beer sales will be suspended during this Monday's Jets-Pats game.

It seems that drunken Jets fans (is there any other kind) have been behaving like European soccer hooligans during games of late. There have been multiple instances of violent, unruly behavior at the Meadowlands recently, which the Jets have blamed on too much alcohol, rather than their team's current state of extreme suck.

I'm shocked, shocked, to hear that Jets fans can't hold their liquor.

Nut-case gets restraining order against David Letterman

A Santa Fe, NM woman recently obtained a temporary restraining order against David Letterman, claiming that, while doing his Late Night show, he was sending her coded messages and signals indicating that he wants to marry her.

I often get the same kind of messages from Letterman myself, although usually he's signaling me to go clean out the garage.

Red Sox fans not that upset about Damon

Surprisingly, Red Sox fans (at least some of them, this is by no means a scientific sample) don't seem that bent-out-of-shape about the loss of Johnny Damon to the Evil Empire. They're annoyed that he's going to NY, but not that upset about losing him as a player, esp at the price he was asking (and received from Georgie).

From afar, it looks like the Sox are imploding. However, the guys and girls who write and comment at Joy of Sox and Cursed to First know a heck of a lot more than I do, and are the first to wail when they think the Sox are doing dumb things. So far, we're not seeing any of that.

Katrina was a Cat 3 when it hit NO

The National Hurricane Center has issued a report stating that Katrina was a Category 3 hurricane when it swamped New Orleans.

Katrina was thought to have been a Category 4 storm at the time it made landfall. New Orleans' levee system was supposed to withstand a Category 3 hurricane.

Others have offered evidence of Katrina's less-than-thought strength before, but this is the definitive statement on the subject.

Before you start booking your French Quarter reservations for next summer, just think for one minute about what a real Category 5 storm would do to that city. Why, exactly, do we need to rebuild New Orleans?

Genius post on torture from Scott Adams

Scott Adams, who's blog is almost always funny and/or thought provoking, has gone the thought-provoking route today, musing about the effectiveness of torture. As far as I know, he has no credentials in the area, but his points are so obvious that none are needed.

Best quote from the post:
First, why is torture so widely used if it doesn’t work?

Read the whole thing.


Ouch. Kobe went nuts against the Mavs on Tuesday night, scoring 62 points in three quarters of work in a 112-90 Lakers blowout.

There's no denying Kobe is greatness on the court. It's only his sorry attitude and off-court problems that prevent him from truly inheriting the Jordan mantle.

Avery got tossed, Dirk and Devin Harris both had a decent offensive game, but no one to could stop Kobe. He sat out the 4th, or he might have gone for 100.

One game certainly does not make a season, and the Mavs will be fine. Stackhouse may actually play for the first time later this week, and there remains much to be positive about. These things happen in an 82-game season.

But it still hurts.

Hot stove doin's

I opened the Seattle Times this morning to find that the Mariners have signed Jarrod Washburn to a four-year deal worth $37.5 million. It's the longest contract Seattle has given a pitcher since the ill-fated Arthur Rhodes deal back in 2000.

Washburn is a fly-ball pitcher, so Safeco makes a lot more sense for him than the Launching Pad in Arlington, and the Rangers would have been NUTS to offer him a similar deal. It just sorta hit me between the eyes: Some teams are able to get it done. Why not the Rangers?

In other news, late word tonight is that Johnny Damon is defecting to the hated Yankees. Steinbrenner money-whipped him with $52 million over 4 years. This has been one of the most disastrous winters in Red Sox history, starting with the resignation of Theo Epstein and continuing through the losses of Damon, Renteria, Mirabelli, and Mueller.

The Yankees are well on their way to satisfying The Onion's prediction of signing every player in baseball.

And, finally, the Rangers made another trade today, sending Chris Young, Adrian Gonzales, and Terrmel Sledge to the Padres for RHP Adam Eaton and RHP Akinori Otsuka.

Chris Young had been a bright spot in the Rangers silly rotation last season. I really hope Jon Daniels got enough for him. According to the analysis in the Dallas Morning News, Eaton is regarded as a pitcher with a bigger upside than Young, due to his ability to throw a wider variety of pitches. However, he makes a ton more money and had some injury problems in 2005. Otsuka appears headed for the setup reliever role, since the Rangers failed to get Octavio Dotel.

A final Rangers note: Apparently, Big Dumb Tom met w/ Boras and Kevin Millwood today. Millwood is supposed to make a decision over the weekend, so no doubt we'll hear on Monday that he's signed somewhere else.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Gangsters and celebs turn out to plant Tookie

Stanley "Tookie" Williams, founder of the Crips and convicted multiple-murderer, was buried today in LA. Among the attendees to the funeral were: Jesse Jackson (what a surprise - Jesse shows up where TV cameras are!), Tony Robbins, and Snoop Dogg. I'm a fan of Snoop, but this ain't exactly the A list.

Outside, one could find T-shirt vendors, assorted gangsters, and a variety of gawkers. One of this last group, Keelonnie Roberts, 23, of Torrance, said her father was a Crip who used to tell her tales of gang life. Although Roberts never met Williams, she said, "He seemed like a sweet man to me."

She certainly seems qualified to comment, doesn't she?

Folks, this character killed four people with a shotgun. The punishment, under the law, fits the crime. End of story.

Could have fooled me

Spam email has decreased in volume, says a new FTC report. Whoever authored this fine example of your tax dollars at work obviously has not checked my gmail inbox.

Parcells has no answers for The Meltdown in DC

In a revelation that stunned exactly no one, the Pear-Shaped "Football Genius" offered no substantive explanation for his team's failure to show up on Sunday.

"It wasn't good. The game just got further and further away," he said. Gee, thanks, Bill. I hadn't noticed. You're not the Pear-Shaped "Football Genius" for nothing.

Ty Walker has taken over posting duties from Sturm for this week, and he's got something. More pictures than Sturm usually posts (I like pictures), and he agrees with me on Tuna-Boy's relationship with the so-called Sporting Press in Dallas:

For that matter, do we really ever get any real information out of him?
Most of the time the assembled media at Bill's press conferences are too scared
or too worried about being his buddy to ask him anything that might get
something of substance. (See Jean Jacques Taylor, Clarence Hill, Jennifer Engel
or any of the other butt-kissers roaming around Valley Ranch.) I know Bill's
normally gonna blow the tough questions off, but don't you have to at least ask
them occasionally?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Another blog worth reading

Welllllll, look at this. The latest entry to the must-read blogosphere: None other than the Rangers' Director of Media Relations, Gregg Elkin (no relation, much as I wish otherwise).

Gregg has been known as a straight shooter (well, as much of one as his job permits) for years around the DFW area. His blog should provide a great deal of behind the scenes news from Rangerland, along with, I hope, some Hot Sports Opinions.

Santas rampage in New Zealand

Forty drunken louts in Santa suits ran wild in Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday. They claim this was part of a world-wide protest movement called "Santarchy", which is intended to bring attention to the over-commercialization of Christmas.

Dude, I can think of about 900 ways to do that same thing without resorting to a group of pissed (the drunken "pissed", not the angry "pissed") Santas looting a convenience store.

Of course, the other 900 ways would not have warranted a story on this silly little blog, so I guess it's "Mission Accomplished" for Santarchy.

Must-have for your next concert

Remember the good old days, when we used to hold our Bic lighters over our heads at concernts as we begged for encore after encore?

In these politcally correct times, no one carries lighters anymore. So, it's become quite the thing to hold your lit-up cell phone over your head instead.

Well, the loop has been closed. Now you can download wallpaper for your cell with a picture of a lit lighter on it. This is so retro-modern, I bet it takes off like crazy.

Year-end nuttiness from Jib-Jab

Jib-Jab's year-ender "2-0-5", is up. It's not the gut-buster that "Your Land" or "Good to be in DC" was, but it's funny.

This is our holiday card this year

Apparently, Robynne sent out a link to the blog in lieu of a Holiday card. Unfortunately, she didn't tell me she was doing that, so most of the "family update" stuff has archived off the front page.

So, welcome to family and friends who don't normally make it over to little Curmudgeon in Training (or CIT, as we like to call it). While you're here, please look around a bit. You'll find a variety of topics; football, baseball, some news and commentary, current events in Southeast Asia (don't ask me why), strange and wonderful new inventions, etc. Please leave a comment, and check back regularly. I am a prolific SOB.

A quick family update, and a few pictures follow:

As many of you know, we moved out of little 3br home in Plano, where we've been since 1992, and took up residence in a rather larger house in Frisco. The move went well, and we had Thanksgiving in the new place, which finally got us to unpack most everything, hang a few pictures, and generally turn the place into a home. We love it and, once the omni-present construction, both of our neighbors' houses and the roads leading out to us, is complete, it's going to be ultra-fantastic.

Sorry, I don't have any pictures of the house..

Aly is in 2nd grade and is doing very well. She was the leading scorer on her soccer team in the fall and is looking forward to the spring season. She's doing great in school and is testing for the Gifted and Talented program in Jan, which she has a legitimate shot of making. She just celebrated her 8th birthday (more here), has grown a bunch, and is the sweetest little girl in the history of ever.

Drew is in pre-school at the same place he's been for a few years. He's doing great, health-wise, and turned 5 back in Sept. He's all boy - his room is full of trains, trucks, cars, and super-hero action figures, all of which he leaves lying around the house for daddy to step on. He's completely on-track in most developmental areas, which was a concern a while ago, but he's caught up nicely in most respects.

Robynne is working part-time at three jobs: Presby Plano (where she's been for years), the new Centennial Hospital in Frisco, and on a contract basis at a pediatrician's office. I am leading the effort, with support from many of you, to get her into private practice, where I think she will clean up. Drop her a note ( and tell her that she needs to do this. I'll take reinforcements anywhere I can get them.

Robynne's invention, the RES-Q Infant Wedge (more here) is selling at a brisk pace locally. Look for more news on this front in coming months. We're at a very exciting point with the product - the patent has been issued, it's got great word of mouth, and it's poised for some big stuff.

As for me, I'm still toiling away in the world of technology and project management consulting. Little Immedient, my employer for the past nearly 3 years, was acquired back in March by a larger consulting outfit called International Network Services. So far, this is turning out very well indeed for the survivors at little Immedient. I'm still travelling too much (I'm writing this from Seattle), but, other than that, it's all good.

A little further afield, my grandmother relocated from Florida to Dallas at the end of 2004. We're very happy to have her locally, and she's been able to join us for many significant events during the year. The kids love having their GG so close by. And my parents are in the process of moving out of the house I grew up in - they are building a new house in Frisco, about 10 minutes from us. It looks like it's going to be a beauty, and it makes all kinds of sense for them. We're very excited to have them move closer. In fact, this will be the closest they've been since the kids were born.

All in all, 2005 has been a banner year for Team Elkin - West Frisco Branch. We hope that the Holiday Season finds you all in good health and good situations. Please drop us a note and let us know how you're doing. Robynne can be reached at, or you can ping me at

Happy Holiday Season to all!

Cowboys - Redskins: Take my offensive line. Please

My friend Joe once gave me a bit of insight into how to build a successful NFL team. He said you should start with the lines and work your way out from there. It sounded like a good approach then, and it sounds even better now, the day after the Redskins completely had their way with the Cowboys 35-7.

To me, the Cowboys' problems in this game (and for the past few weeks) started with the offensive line. That's not where the problems ended; no one played particularly well. But, the O line was the root of all evil in DC yesterday.

We've watched the play of the entire line, and Torrin Tucker in particular, get worse each week. At some point, shouldn't they be getting, you know, better? Unless they're just not very good players to begin with.

I think that's where we are w/ Tucker. I just don't think he can play in the NFL. You hate to say that about a fellow human, but lets face it. Tucker spent more time on his back yesterday than a Thai hooker on Free Condom Night in Patpong.

Bledsoe has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he's still got something, as long as he has time. A more mobile QB might not have taken 7 sacks yesterday, but even Mike Vick was going down at least 5 times. I counted at least four occasions where the offensive lineman (Tucker, more often that not) got blown off the line so far that he actually wound up 5 yards upfield from where his man had just crushed the life out of Bledsoe. For most of the game, it looked like Drew was standing in front of the main entrance at Pink Elementary at 3:00 on the last day of school. At least, that's what it would look like if the students at Pink suddenly all developed enormous thyroid problems.

Barber and Jones have shown enough over their very short careers to make me think that the lack of a running game is not completely down to them. Unless you're Walter Payton (and neither of these guys are), you need some holes to run through. What's happening on passing downs speaks for itself, thus the offensive line is suspect in all aspects, running game included. They are, to me, guilty until proven innocent.

Santana Moss has the Cowboys' number like no one else this year. The Cowboys' D may have been a bit overrated earlier in the year, but they did manage to carry the offense, and keep the team in most games. It's hard to blame them for getting torched by the Redskins. I'm surprised it took them until game 14 to finally wear down. They spent WAY too much time on the field yesterday, thanks to the offense's inability to do anything.

And I've got to finish up with a mention of the Pear-Shaped Football "Genius" and his staff. We've watched this team get worse from week to week since the bye. What, exactly, have you done to improve things? Is this REALLY the best we can do on the offensive line? There isn't ANY other combination of guys you want to try out? Didn't you draft an O lineman in the third round this year? Don't you even want to look at him?

And what the HELL was Bledsoe doing in the game when it was 35-0 late in the 3rd quarter and he was getting hammered every time he dropped back? Did you REALLY think there was that big a comeback in these guys? Romo and Henson haven't smelled the field yet this year. It hasn't been appropriate for them to do so in the close games, but yesterday was an outstanding opportunity to allow them to take one for the team. If Bledsoe gets hurt, it really is all over.

The Cowboys still have an outside chance to make the playoffs. The entire season basically comes down to this Saturday's game at Carolina. You think Julius Peppers is looking over his contract, counting up all the incentives that he can make against this ridiculous line?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I hate doctors who think their time is more valuable than mine

I had an unpleasant run-in with one of my doctor's partners tonight that just reinforces my opinion about many doctors.

The situation was this: I had called in refills to my pharmacy for a couple of prescriptions yesterday, with the intention of picking them up today. I got going on a few things, and tuned in the Cowboy game/disaster, and basically I just forgot about it until around 5:15. My pharmacy closed at 4:00 today.

This was dumb on my part. No question about it. Especially since I'm back on the plane tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. to Seattle.

So, I called my doctor's answering service, explained the situation to them and they paged the doctor for me.

My doc is not on call this weekend, but one of his partners was. The partner called me. I explained the situation, and asked for the first major favor I've requested from that practice in the 10 years I've been a patient there. Could he please call the 24-hour pharmacy and request a few pills to get me through the week (which is Christmas week, btw)?

Not only did he refuse to do it, but he was a real dick about it. "We don't handle prescriptions on weekends, especially due to poor planning on your part," he tells me.

What an effing jerk!!

I don't disagree that it was poor planning on my part. I made a mistake by not picking up the prescriptions.

What I've got a problem with is his crap attitude. I was asking for a favor. It would require minimal effort on his part. Call the damn pharmacy (I'll give you the number, buddy) and request a few pills (I'll tell you what I need, as well). That's it. He doesn't need to get off the couch.

Is he willing to do me a favor? Hell no. Is he willing to at least be nice about it? Not at all.

Dude, please help me out here. What is it that you're supposed to be doing, again? Helping me stay healthy? How does being a colossal jerk-weed about this help me in any way? Does it teach me a lesson? Hell no. I know better than to do this. I made a mistake. It happens. Can you help me fix it? Or would you rather score some cheap points off me? The latter? OK. As long as I know what to expect.

We know a lot of doctors (my wife is in the medical field), and the vast majority of them are not like this at all. However, I maintain that there are more a-hole doctors than any other profession, per capita. Probably lawyers are up there too, but I haven't had to deal w/ many lawyers, so I wouldn't know about that.

The impression that I got from the ON-CALL doctor (as in, he's going to get calls from his and his partners' patients) was that I shouldn't have been bothering him with my silly little "health-related issue". On the weekend, I need to call 911. If it's not serious enough for that, then it's not serious enough for him. Not when his time is SOO valuable. Certainly its more valuable than mine. Isn't it?

What a silly little peasant I am.

There, now I feel better.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

In case you were wondering, Japanese wives do fart

From the Tokyo Times, via BoingBoing, here's a story covering how long Japanese brides waited before tooting (or "beeping", as it's referred to in my house) in front of their husbands.

I will make no further comment regarding the timing of this event in my home. After all, I am going to be home tomorrow night.

Did you ever think you'd see this headline?

I said it the other day, and I'll say it again. Iraq is not where it needs to be yet, and it has taken too long and cost too much.

That said, this is some validation if ever there was any. I'm pleased to see that we're not blowing this off (well, some are), and that the story is getting it's due.

The next six months are going to be very interesting, both in Iraq and in the larger Arab world. Will a wave of popular revolts against the fascist dictatorships in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and other places spontaneously erupt? It sure ain't out of the question folks.

This ALMOST makes me want an iPod

Here's a cool contraption for your iPod - the iChair. It's an iPod stand with little rubber arms to hold your player. The feet are also speakers.

I still love my Creative Zen Xtra, and I paid $100 less than I would have for a smaller-capacity iPod, but this gizmo is almost enough to convert me.

This guy can't be for real

Everyone's favorite elected nut-job, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is at it again, this time calling the Holocaust a "myth".

It's hard to figure out what the hell he's after. Iran had been on a more conciliatory track up until recently, but Ahmadinejad's recent statements (calling for the destruction of Israel, for Israel to be moved to Europe, and this latest whack-out) are clearly putting an end to that. You have to think that Ahmadinejad's aim is to stir up support at home, but he's also giving new life to the moderate movement, such as it is, in Tehran.

Another insane statement is apparently always just around the corner with this clown. Stay tuned for more from the Mahmoud Show, coming to CIT any minute now.

Aly's 8th birthday

I don't usually post much about the family, but I'm going to make an exception for this: My daughter, Alyssa, had her 8th birthday party at the house last weekend. We had 20+ kids, and some of their parents over for a magic show performed by Jimmy the Magician (who's not in the David Copperfield class as a magician, but is great with kids). Aly had a GREAT time, and the party was a huge success.

Here are a few pictures from the bash, including a shot of Aly with her Bratz cake, Jimmy levitating the birthday girl, little brother Drew and the birthday gang, and Aly with her GG (my grandmother.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Furniture for the rough part of town

If you live in a dicey neighborhood, you may want to look into this side table that doubles as a truncheon and shield. It's just the thing if your next kegger gets out of hand.

Great gag gift

These are just the thing for your DIY particle accelerator. Oh, you don't have a home particle accelerator? Get with it, man!

Give a set of these super-magnets to your friends (or enemies) and watch the fun begin. These things are powerful enough that the manufacturer (United Nuclear - there's your first clue about the power you're dealing with) feels compelled to include this blurb in the disclaimer:

Beware - you must think ahead when moving these magnets. If carrying one into another room, carefully plan the route you will be taking. Computers & monitors will be affected in an entire room. Loose metallic objects and other magnets may become airborne and fly considerable distances - and at great speed - to attach themselves to this magnet. If you get caught in between the two, you can get injured. Two of these magnets close together can create an almost unbelievable magnetic field that can be very dangerous. Of all the unique items we offer for sale, we consider these two items the most dangerous of all. Our normal packing & shipping personnel refuse to package these magnets - our engineers have to do it. This is no joke and we cannot stress it strongly enough - that you must be extremely careful - and know what you're doing with these magnets. Take Note: Two of the 3" x 1" disc magnets can very easily break your arm if they get out of control.

Why is "Tookie" a cause celebre'?

I need some help from the massive CIT readership on this one: Why has Stanley "Tookie" Williams, executed by the state of California on Tuesday, become such a cause?

This is a guy who was convicted and sentenced to death for killing four people. That, to me, is where it begins and ends.

Some other facts that, I suppose, contribute to the fervor on both sides of the issue: He helped found the Crips, a gang that has been a source of significant violence across the country for 20+ years. And, on the other side of the coin, in recent years, he started writing children's books and speaking out against the violence of gang life.

Fine. He attempted to make up for some of the almighty bad stuff he did in his life. Wonderful. He killed 4 people.

I suppose any execution in California, esp of a person of some profile, is going to stir this sort of thing up. But I just don't get it.

DIY voodoo for your kitchen

Here are two fun gifts for those on your Holiday shopping list: A voodoo knife block and a voodoo toothpick holder. Neither one is really acceptable for homes with little kids, but they sure are conversation starters!

Cogill is euphoric about "King Kong"

Peter Jackson's big-time remake of King Kong opens this week, and WFAA's Gary Cogill (the one movie critic I almost always agree with) has a glowing review of it.

This one is a must-see for me. I hope Robynne feels the same way.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Something semi-encouraging regarding Burma

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has issued a more-strongly-worded-than-usual statement regarding the (lack of) progress Burma has made on it's "roadmap to democracy".

ASEAN makes it a point to keep out of members' internal doings, but a couple of things are compelling them to take a stronger stand vs the Burmese junta:

1. ASEAN is working up a new charter calling for more freedom, democracy, and good governance. Burma is a sterling anti-example of all this.

2. ASEAN is in the best position to put pressure on the junta, and the rest of the world is reminding the members of this fact.

If they're serious about it, ASEAN could have some impact. However, the junta is making too much money in the drug trade to feel much pressure from trade sanctions or any statements, strongly worded or not.

"Old school" handset for your cell?

Um, doesn't this sorta defeat the purpose? I guess I'm just not hip enough.

Is calling something "gay" insulting to homosexuals?

I received a comment on the iPod underwear post that I'm not sure how to read. Help me out here:
when you call this "the gayest thing ever" I assume you are talking about
the classic denotation of the word gay. I do believe that having your tunes
available when you are in you underwear is one of the happiest things I could
think of. Keep up the good work and thank you for not offending a significant
portion of our population by using the term "gay" as a pejorative.

I think I've hit one of this person's nerves. That was not my intent. I fully support anyone's lifestyle as long as: 1) it doesn't hurt anyone, and 2) they don't get in my face about it. In our little suburban neighborhood we have gay neighbors, mixed race neighbors, Asians, blacks, Jews (thank you), conservative Christians, and probably some others that I'm not thinking about because, well, I don't think about it much.

With all that disclaimer done, I really wonder if the term "gay", as in "that is sooo gay", when referring to something flamboyant, overly sentimental, or generally not masculine, is offensive to homosexuals?

On one had, it seems like a no-brainer - of course it is. I realize this by applying my usual test for discrimination. I substitute the word "Jew" for the noun or adjective in question, and ask myself how I'd react. In this case, it is, as I said, a no-brainer.

On the other hand, using "gay" to describe something that is, well, flamboyant, overly sentimental, or generally not masculine has become a part of pop culture. You hear it on TV, in the movies, on the radio (Bob Sturm and Dan McDowell, please stand up), and as part of every day conversation. If it were that offensive, wouldn't there be an outcry? If the word "Jew" was used like this, there definitely would, and I'd be leading it.

I'd really like some feedback on this. Mr/Ms Anonymous Commenter, or anyone else for that matter, please help me out here.

By the way, I'm going to refrain from noting that making anonymous comments is gay.

Zito may not be leaving Oakland

There's been some talk that Barry Zito may have been on the trading block in Oakland, and that Texas was one of the potential destinations.

Well, it looks like Zito may not be going anywhere. I hope this is wrong, as this is a move I could get behind.

Stay tuned.

I guess we're supposed to be excited by this

The Rangers have traded for former All-Star right-hander Vicente Padilla from the Phillies on Monday. They gave up the old player-to-be-named. It will be interesting to see who this winds up being.

Padilla was part of the Curt Schilling trade back in 2000, and was the last player from that trade left with the Phillies. Think Philadelphia wants a do-over?

Padilla has had some success in the past, and was OK last year (9-12 with a 4.71 ERA in 27 starts). He'll be a middle-of-the-rotation guy in Arlington.

Encouraging, but not nearly enough.

You got something better to offer, Abu Musab?

Voting is underway in Iraq. And, predictably, the fundamentalist "insurgents" are completely against it, making their point with numerous bombing attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere in the country.

Four different groups issued a joint statement, declaring the voting a "satanic project" and referring to the "so-called political process" several times. Well, what else are we going to call it?

Instead of a democratically elected government, these crackpots favor an Islamic state, dominated by the minority Sunnis. THAT certainly seems like a better idea, doesn't it?

It's taken too long, cost too much, and it's not over. But, we should recognize this event for what it is - an enormous step forward in the Arab world. I'm not a very religous person, but I am praying that this works.

Cowboys-Chiefs post mortem

I'm back in the Emerald City and trying to shake off the 4 gallons of terror-induced adrenaline that got pumped into my system during the extremely choppy flight, so I'll be up for a while. Since sleep is out of the question at the moment, I'd like make a few Cowboy points before the Monday morning papers hit the stands and totally cloud my thinking.

Offensive line

These guys blocked a little, which is what gave the Cowboys a chance (as mentioned here on Saturday). Bledsoe still got clobbered a few times, but it was a lot better than last week. Of course, no one is going to confuse Jared Allen with Michael Strahan, or, for that matter, the KC defensive front with the Giants'. Regardless, Bledsoe had time and that makes one heck of a difference.

Cowboys' running game

Marion Barber showed some flashes, which was encouraging. Who the heck is this guy wearing number 21? Where is the Julius Jones who ripped up the NFL late last season? One hopes that he's still feeling the effects of the ankle injury, and it's not because he, in truth, is an average to below-average back. We're still waiting for Julius to log a 100-yard game, and nothing we saw on Sunday indicates that he's about to throw one down.


The Pear-Shaped One was on his best behavior on Sunday. No obvious explosions, no punching assistant coaches. For a change, that stuff was happening on the opposing sideline much more than on the Cowboys'. He's got a long way to go before I'm going to reinstate his "genius" title, but it was nice to see his blood pressure remain in normal range.

The Cowboys in comparison to the rest of the league

I said on Saturday that the Cowboys are very average, and I'm standing by that. I guess I'm still spoiled by the glorious days of Jimmy, when the Cowboys dominated (Ah yes, the good old days, when, if memory serves, they went 16-0 for like 4 seasons in a row. Didn't they?). This year's edition is just barely in the top half of the NFC. In this day and age, maybe that's the best we can hope for. They stay in just about every game until the 4th quarter, and are in a position to attempt to win almost every week. Perhaps that translates to the bigger picture as well - they'll make the playoffs (probably) and, once there, they'll trust that anything is possible for a veteran team with some talent. Granted, the Cowboys are not all that good, but someone please tell me who in the NFC is significantly better., um, yeah.

It's on to Washington next week. The Redskins are even more inconsistent and, frankly, I don't think they're as good as the Cowboys. However, we see every week how much that can matter - not very much at all. For God's sake, the ridiculous NY Jets beat the much-more-talented Raiders on Sunday, which pretty much proves that superior-but-inconsistent teams (the Raiders are the poster-boys for that classification) are vulnerable against anyone.

iPod underwear - not kidding

This is the gayest thing EVER!!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Matt Morris will not be a Ranger

The tale of Rangers' pitching woes continues, as Matt Morris has replied with a friendly, "Thanks, but no thanks" to the Rangers' offer of 3 years and $25 million.

While this packs all the wallop of a 1986-vintage Mike Tyson right to the body, I can't really find fault with the Rangers' approach to the pursuit. And this from me, who finds fault with the Rangers' handling of the traffic lights at Ballpark Way and the I-30 service road.

The Rangers went to three years, which is longer than the other Morris suitors at the time. You can't fault the dough. This is Matt Morris, not Cy Young. There's not much the Rangers could have done differently. Except maybe fire Buck Showalter, but that's not happening any more than two other possible fixes: Moving to a new ballpark or the NL.

So, what's left? Washburn, Millwood, or Weaver? All clients of the Baseball Antichrist. Jon Daniels may have to do his best Daniel Webster and venture into the Newport Beach Underworld. Yikes. A trade remains the best possibility, but who's on the block?

The clock's a-tickin'.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Burmese troops beating up on Naga rebels

Ethnic Naga rebels in Burma's far northwest are reporting that Burmese troops have launched a "major offensive" against several rebel bases.

The Naga have been fighting both Burma and India for a homeland they want to carve out of northwest Burma and northeast India. The rebellion has been going on for over 40 years.

Coupled with the extension of Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest, the move of the Burmese capital from Rangoon into the jungle, and other less-than-encouraging signs, it seems clearer and clearer that absolutely nothing has changed in Burma, nor is change likely to occur anytime soon. The military junta, which has illegally ruled the country since they threw out popular election results in 1990, appears to be operating as normal - talking publicly about the "Roadmap to Democracy", but in reality further securing their hold on the country.

There will be the usual denunciations from the UN and the West, but nothing will really happen.

Stay tuned for more non-events from the Golden Land.

Khmer Rouge trials get closer to reality

Trials for the surviving senior commanders of the Khmer Rouge got a little closer to reality recently.

The UN has sent a group of officials to Phnom Penh to set up full-time offices starting in January.

This is good news, I suppose. However, the KR figures set for trial are in far greater danger of dying of old age than they are in being sentenced in a trial. The KR got kicked out of Phnom Penh in 1978. Pol Pot has already expired. The rest of them ain't getting any younger.

Please remember that the Khmer Rouge was responsible for the deaths of between 1 and 2 million Cambodians during their three year reign of mayhem and terror between 1975 and 1978. Don't you think it's time for at least some of them to face justice?

World is "losing patience" with Iran, says head of IAEA

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said the world is losing patience with Iran over its nuclear program.

ElBaradei made his statement while in Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

That's nice, but what, exactly, does it mean?

World's most annyoing alarm clock

They'll be using this gizmo at Guantanamo Bay to get the internees to talk.

"Tell us where Osama is, or we'll put you back in the room with the 'Blowfly'."


Dog laughing calms other dogs

Um, OK. Sounds reasonable to me. Assuming you go along with the idea that dogs laugh.

The differences between Channukah and Christmas

Reading through Brad Feld's blog today and had to lift this one. Here's a primer on the differences between our little Channukah and mighty Christmas.

Richard Pryor is dead

The funniest comedian in the history of ever has left the building. Richard Pryor, who was YEARS ahead of his time, suffered a fatal heart attack on Saturday. He was 65.

Pryor's early work was so outrageously funny that it is still a riot 30 years later. Many have approached his level since - Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, and others. But none has equaled him. Keep in mind that Pryor was doing his best stuff when those other guys were the funniest kids in the preschools.

His life took a serious turn for the worse in 1980, when he nearly killed himself in a fiery accident while freebasing cocaine. He came back from that near-fatal incident and incorporated it into his act. However, he was diagnosed with MS in the early 90s and his health quickly deteriorated. He attempted a comeback in the mid-90s, but was obviously disabled by the disease.

Regardless of the crappy hand he was dealt later in life, there is NO DOUBT that Pryor contributed to American culture and society. He will be missed, but you can look forward to catching his headline act in Heaven for eternity.

Pro football preview

Since the colleges teams are busy taking their finals (no, really, they are - I'm totally serious), we'll go right to the pros this week:

Chicago @ Pittsburgh - We finally get to see if the Bears are really really for real. I don't think they are. I like the Steelers here, and probably big.

Colts @ Jacksonville - 13-0? Probably. They're not going undefeated, but this is not where they're going to lose. I suspect that either San Diego or Seattle, and possibly both, will have the honor of ending the Colts' perfect season. Not the Jags.

Houston @ Tennessee - The most confusing game of the weekend. I still think of the Titans as the Oilers. The Texans are soooo bad. The Titans in a landslide in this one.

Giants @ Philadelphia - The Eagles have quit. The crowd will probably start booing during warm-ups. I think the only drama left for the Eagles is waiting to see when Andy Reid finally blows his stack

KC @ Dallas - It's time to face facts: The Cowboys are very average. The O line is breaking down and is exposing Bledsoe for what he is: An aging, immobile QB who has never grasped the fact that he can't hold the ball for more than a few seconds. The Cowboy defense is serious, and the return of Anthony Henry will help improve things significantly on that side of the ball. If the offensive line can block a little, the 'Boys have a chance. If they continue the abysmal play we saw last week, forget it.

Comedic Value Game of the Week - As usual, there are many contenders. Try as I might to pare it down to one, I just can't. Thus, we have the unprecedented three-fer:

Detroit @ Green Bay - This is your Sunday night game, and I think Desperate Housewives is a repeat. Fortunately for me, I'll be on an airplane during this dog. I hope the rest of you have some laundry to do. Maybe you can get a jump on your taxes.

New Orleans @ Atlanta - Another crap Monday night game. I really feel bad for Al Michaels. He has to spend 4 hours in the booth with Madden (whom I suspect has a tremendous case of BO), watching garbage like this. Atlanta will kill the pitiful Saints. Why would anyone want to return to the Crescent Toilet?

Oakland @ Jets - Ace said it best earlier this week - the J-E-T-S sure do S-U-C-K. He thinks they need Vince Young. I think they need an exorcist and/or a plane crash (wow, that was dark - sorry. Not really in the spirit of the season, is it?).

I'm not going to top that last line, so we'll end here. Go (your team here)!

Friday, December 09, 2005

World's most predictable joke

A giggle from cousin Ross:

A driver is stuck in a traffic jam on the highway. Nothing is moving. Suddenly a man knocks on the window.

The driver rolls down his window and asks, "What happened?"

"Terrorists have kidnapped Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton. They are asking for a $10 million ransom. Otherwise they are going to douse them with gasoline and set them on fire. We are going from car to car, taking up a collection."

The driver asks, "How much is everyone giving, on average?"

"About a gallon."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Clemens to the Rangers?

Since the Astros have cut the Rocket loose, there's much talk of Clemens landing in Arlington. I'm not so sure this is a good thing.

Oh, the guy's still got it. No doubt.

But, he's 43 years old. He's going to cost $18 million plus. He had leg and back problems last year. He's going to go to the World Baseball Classic in March. And he's not going to decide if he's going to pitch in the regular season until January at the earliest.

What I really fear is that Big Dumb Tom is going to start to crush on Roger the way he did on Gay-Rod a few years ago, and it's going to cause the Rangers to pass on other free agents and/or trades. That would be a disaster.

If the Rangers stay (hell, get) aggressive in the player-acquisition game and can get Clemens as an added piece before or during spring training, that's great. It certainly can't hurt.

But if they put other things on hold in their pursuit of Clemens, I am going to step up the "I Hate Tom Hicks" campaign in a big way.

I'm sure he's quaking in his shoes at the very thought.

Oh, and by the way - Kenny Rogers is officially an ex-Ranger again. Hallelujah. The Tigers are expecting him to be a leader for their young club. Right. Good luck and good night, Kenny, you miserable bastard.

Soriano is gone

The Rangers made the first significant deal of the Jon Daniels era on Wed night, trading 2B slugger Alfonso Soriano to the Washington Nationals for CF Brad Wilkerson, OF Terrmel Sledge, and starting pitching prospect Armando Galarraga.

Wilkerson hit leadoff for the Nats last year, and didn't exactly flourish in the role. However, he routinely draws 80+ walks per year and is far more discerning at the plate than Soriano. Sledge is a bench player at best, has had injury problem recently, and has tested positive for steroids in the past. Galarraga didn't exactly light things up in A ball last year. He's probably going to join the DVD boys in Frisco to start the year, and we'll see where it goes from there.

As for Soriano, he never met a pitch he didn't like, and lost the leadoff spot as a result. He does have power for an infielder and produced offense that will have to be replaced. His fielding had improved somewhat from his Yankee days, but a sharp grounder to second was always a bit more dramatic than it should have been.

The Rangers have a 2B prospect (Ian Kinsler) who may move into the big-league lineup this year. An addition to the wealth in the outfield makes another trade a significant possibility. Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix, or Wilkerson could be moved to (hopefully) bring some pitching in return.

Soriano was going to get a ton of dough in arbitration this year, so the move should save some dough, which Big Dumb Tom had better spend rather than pocket. Wilkerson is a Boras client, so we should enjoy his presence this year and next, then wave bye-bye to him after his contract is up.

All in all, this looks like a good move, as long as it isn't the last one we see this off-season. We may (MAY) have found a leadoff hitter, but the rest of the team's needs are yet to be addressed.

Stay tuned.

Air Marshal shoots passenger, expected reactions pour in

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised, but the fatal shooting by Federal Air Marshals of a man who claimed to have a bomb on board an American Airlines jet in Miami yesterday has many hand-wringers questioning the entire Air Marshal program.

All the facts are not in, and I completely support a full investigation. However, we do know a bit about this story right now. Rigoberto Alpizar ran through the plane before it pushed back from the gate. He stated that he had a bomb in his backpack. He ignored orders from two Marshals to put the backpack down and lie on the ground and, instead, reached into the backpack. And they did shoot and kill him.

I can't even imagine the stress the Air Marshals were under during the incident. But, all indications right now are that they followed their training to the letter.

We don't know how many Air Marshals are out there, and we don't know how many flights they're on (this secrecy is part of the deterrent and I have absolutely zero problems with it). It is, however, safe to say that there are many Marshals flying on many flights every day, and that this has been the case every day since early 2002 at least. In that time, there have been no (that is, NOT ONE) incident of deadly force being exercised by the Marshals up until yesterday. This makes it clear to me that Air Marshals are well trained, professional, calm, and restrained. They are clearly not a bunch of psychos running around, drawing down on every disgruntled flyer who complains about his/her seat assignment.

The other fact that cannot be disputed is that, since Sept 11, 2001, there has not been a successful incident of terrorism on any domestic flight.

I don't think that AQ and their little buddies have given up. I do think that the combination of deterrents, one of which is the Air Marshal program, is working.

Let's investigate this tragic incident, by all means. We need to know what happened here, and we need to learn whatever lessons are to be found. However, let's not call for the end or the emasculation of a program that is clearly working as intended.

More enlightened humanitarianism from Iranian president

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the reality-impaired gent who called for Israel to be "wiped from the map" recently, is up to his wacky antics again. This time, he's questioning the facts behind the Holocaust and recommending that Israel be moved to Europe.

This is the elected leader of major country, folks. Iran is a large, populous, and extremely wealthy nation. The Iranians have acknowledged that they have a large program underway to develop nuclear power, and there's much to suggest that they are also pursuing nuclear weapons. There's little doubt that they are behind at least some of the chaos currently present in Iraq, and there's every reason to believe that their involvement in terrorism doesn't end there.

Where's the line for these fruitcakes? How much are we willing to let them get away with? I'm not advocating military action based on anything that their nut-job president says, but there are actions and, clearly, a mindset there that are cause for tremendous concern.

This isn't going to go away on its own, and I fear that its going to get a lot worse.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rangers trading Soriano?

Sturm has his usual outstanding roundup of coverage, so I won't bother with additional links.

At least they're talking about pitchers in every scenario.

Man killed by Air Marshal, conspiracy nuts go into overdrive

No doubt you've seen this story elsewhere. I mention it only because a guy I'm working with out here theorizes that it was faked just to let AQ and other potential baddies that US justice never sleeps, esp during the Holiday Season.

He went on to mention that he doesn't believe that man walked on the moon because his Windows XP laptop crashes three times a day.

Even still, it's an interesting point.

Attention-grabbing bike helmets

These are much more fun than the standard. I'll probably pick up a Lady Bug helmet for Aly, the Screaming Frog for Drew, and the Human Brain one for myself.

I've got my Thurs night planned

I'll be at the City Center (right around the corner from my palatial hotel), checking out the Gingerbread House display.

Or, maybe I'll watch ER instead.

Oh dear

Fortunately, this is a fake.

Bobby Valentine and Homer Simpson – same voice coach?

Bobby V was on with Rhyner and Williams yesterday. In case you haven’t kept up with his adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun, he’s had a tremendous amount of success with the Chiba Lotte Marines and won the Japanese League Championship this year. He sounds great and seems to be doing very well. Good for him, I say.

I’ve always been a Bobby V fan, and really wished it had worked out better when he managed the Rangers. It sounds like he had an opportunity to return to the US this year, but loyalty to his Japanese team prevented it. It seems like a safe bet that he’ll be back in the bigs sometime in the not-too-distant future.

I couldn’t help but notice how much Bobby sounds like Homer Simpson. It’s uncanny. I almost called Big Dumb Danny to see if I could get him to ask Bobby to do a “D’oh!” for the folks back home.

I never noticed this before, but I’m going to keep a lookout for Bobby V’s speaking engagements now.

More troubling news from your Texas Rangers

There’s been news on several fronts, and all of it is bad.

First: The Rangers have lost out on just about every decent free-agent pitcher available this off-season. Matt Morris remains a possibility, but Burnett is gone (to Toronto and for too much money) and everyone else has spurned the Rangers’ offer. The Rangers are forced to money-whip even bad pitchers, thanks to (mostly) the Ballpark, along with Buck for a manager, Hicks for a clueless owner, and a history of never winning anything. It’s well past old news, and I’m well past sick of it.

Second, and FAR more troubling: Several sources have reported that John Hart was involved in the Blalock & Danks for Beckett & Lowell trade negotiations. Those same sources have reported that Hart advised Jon Daniels to hold out on the Marlins to see if they could keep Danks. Apparently, the deal could have been done at the GM meeting in October, but Daniels and the Rangers stalled and tried to keep their man-crush pitching prospect. While the Rangers farted around, the Marlins called Boston and the rest is history.

Big Tom Hicks, who reminds me of Karl from Sling Blade more each day, pretty much confirmed all this while chatting w/ Stormin’ Norman on The Ticket on Tuesday.

Argue all you want about holding out for a better deal. I think it’s foolish, esp in a case like this, where my daughter’s goldfish would have pulled the trigger, but OK. I’ll give Daniels et al a pass on that.

What in the effing Hell is John Hart doing giving input on a trade? I’m pretty sure he’s no longer the GM of this club. He was a FAILURE when he was here, and, if I understood the press conferences back in the late summer, he’s out of that job now. So why on Earth does he get a vote?

I know it’s only the beginning of December, but this is cause for pessimism. Dammit.

What is going on out in Arlington?

Blogging while in transit

This week it’s blogging while sitting in seat 5E on the way back to Seattle. Thank goodness for AAdvantage Platinum. This is a 4+ hour flight, and you’d better believe First Class makes a difference.

I escaped from Dallas before Winter Blast 2005 hit. There might be some snow in Dallas before the day is over, but I sorta doubt it.

I will endeavor to be more diligent about blogging this week. Now, on with the festivities!

Is this funny or scary?

From cousin Ross: This would be a giggle, except I think it's within the realm of possiblity.

Monday, December 05, 2005

And don't forget Hurricane Epsilon

The latest and, God willing, last hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic season continues to befuddle scientists. Epsilon is seemingly shrugging off most known hurricane behaviors as well as the laws of physics.

With as crazy as the season has been, this certainly seems like a good way to end it.

Ebola reservoir found

In news that got surprisingly little play, scientist believe they've identified the host organism for the deadly Ebola virus. Fruit bats appear to be able to carry the virus without being made sick by it.

Fruit bats are a staple of the jungle diet, so it would make sense.

Panic in North Texas!!

North Texas is under a Winter Storm Watch for Tues night and Wed, thus sparking a possible-snow-panic among the citizenry.

This cracks me up.

Going near a grocery store tomorrow evening will be akin to driving the lane against the 2004 Pistons. Haus-fraus and business casual dads will be fighting back nervous terror as they storm the aisles containing staples. They'll be laying in huge stocks of bread, milk, and toilet paper as they prepare to be stranded in their homes for hours (minutes?) by a quarter inch of snow.

People from the Snow Belt of northern Arkansas (a veritable winter-wonderland in comparison) will be ruefully shaking their heads in wonder.

The panic-inducing newscasts should start tonight. By noon tomorrow, they'll probably switch to the fancy "Winter Blast 2005" graphics and, if the temp drops below 35 degrees, they'll upshift into wall-to-wall coverage.

We here at CIT will do our best to remain calm and will be reporting on the silliness as it occurs. Stay tuned.