Friday, December 29, 2006

Daily YouTube: A brief history lesson

I don't know that I see it quite this way, but here's a clip comparing negotiations with Iran to those Chamberlain had with Hitler.

I wonder which side sponsored this bit of film-making...

Football Friday and other sports-related quick hits

I have been remiss in covering football for you, the loyal CIT reader (all 4 of you, God bless you each and every one). My only excuse is the Cowboys' resurgence drained my life force. Now that they're reeling again, my energy and sarcasm are back in top form.

College Bowls


Sorry, no interest this year.


Pittsburgh (+6) @ Cincinnati - The end of a miserable season for the Steelers. I'm trying to stay on the Bengal bandwagon. I think I'm going to regret this one, but give me the guys in stripes.

Miami (+9) @ Colts - What the HELL is wrong with the Colts all of a sudden? I mean, other than their defense is awful, Dallas Clark has been hurt, and Peyton Manning is the most overrated QB since Phil Simms. The Dolphins have no idea who their QB is right now, and the Colts have GOT to get the wheels back on. Nine points is a lot to lay, but I'll take a deep breath and go with Indianapolis.

Carolina @ New Orleans (+3) - This game means nothing for the Saints, and it's obvious Vegas thinks the entire first team is going to sit. I hate games like this. I guess I'll go with the conventional wisdom and take Carolina. I will change my tune next week, though. I'm on the Saints bandwagon big-time!

Atlanta (+9) @ Philadelphia - The Eagles looked All-World while humiliating the Cowboys last week. They seem to be peaking at the right time. This game does mean something for both teams, but I really liked what I saw from Philly last week. Again, its a huge spread, but give me the boys from the City of Brotherly Shove.

Pats (+3) @ Titans - Another one where the better team has nothing to play for. Is Vince Young proving me wrong? Can he be a great NFL QB? He's got the physical tools, there's no doubt about it. Can he handle it mentally? We shall see. He's been impressive so far. I'm gonna go with Tennessee here, just because I think they've got more to prove.

Detroit (+13) @ Dallas - The Cowboys have failed to show up for two critical home games in the past three weeks. I think this team is doubting itself in a big way. I'm gonna take all those points, and it's not going to surprise me one bit if the Lions win outright.

Comedic Value Game of the Week - Browns (+4) @ Houston - Wow, what a stinker. Find me 15 people on this planet who give a crap about this one, and I'll give you a pick. Ready, set, go...

Sports-Related Quick Hits

Baseball Free Agency Goes Completely Insane

The Rangers lost out on free-agent pitcher Barry Zito yesterday, as the newly-crowned Dumbest Team in Sports, the SF Giants, gave him a $126 million, seven-year contract.

I am SO glad the Rangers got beat out, as they has reportedly offered Zito a six-year deal (for a lot less, but still INSANE numbers).

How many times do we need the object lesson: Long-term contracts for pitchers are complete madness. Let's tick off a few examples: Kevin Brown (a kendo-stick to the shins), Mike Hampton (brass knuckles to the gut), and, the grand-daddy of 'em all, Chan Ho Park (a 2X4 to the gresticles).

At this point, with the way pitchers get hurt and the speed with which they deteriorate (and the deterioration has already started for Zito), I wouldn't sign Walter Johnson or Cy Young himself to a six-year deal.

Well, this will be a boat anchor around the necks of the Giants for years to come. Good luck with all that.

Stars - Most Schizo Team in the NHL?

Your Dallas Stars can't figure out if they're a good team or not yet. Granted, injuries have ravaged this bunch, and even die-hard fans are looking at the roster and going, "Who?" Even with that, though, Marty Turco has been a bit shaky lately. You can have your Modanos, your Morrows, your Lindroses, this is Martin Turco's team and it will only go as far as he takes it. Its too early to panic or even predict, but Stars fans, who are few and far between lately, are getting antsy.

Mavs - Kickin' Ace and Takin' Names

The Mavs are rolling, beating good team after good team, playing exceptionally well, and getting contributions from the guys they really need to contribute. Last night's Dirk buzzer-beater to win by 2 over the Suns was, by all accounts, as good a battle as we've seen between these two new rivals.

I have no idea how Avery Johnson gets these guys psyched up night in and night out. After that epic playoff run last year, the thought of 82 regular season games must seem pretty unattractive to the team. Yet not so - they're playing their rears off every night. God bless em. It's getting to the time of year to really start paying attention.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Daily YouTube: The Philosopher Song

Here's the greatness of Monty Python - the Philosophers Song as sung by Bruce, Bruce, and Bruce from the Philosophy Dept of the University of Willamaloo.

We do have to throw in a language warning: Eric Idle's description of American beer is not for the kids.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Daily YouTube: The Soviet National Anthem

The most surreal video you'll see today: A 1991 version of the Soviet National Anthem, sung "We Are The World"-style by prominent Soviet pop stars of the day. This is the actual anthem and, though it's described as a parody by poster, I see it more as the usual tone-deaf Soviet PR machine in the waning days of the country.

Either way, it's amazing stuff.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Tales From the Dark Side: DEE-FENSE! DEE-FENSE!

Apparently, Greg Ellis and Flozell Adams are the two most important people in the Cowboy Universe.

Last year's loss of Adams on the O line spelled doom for the Cowboy offense in general and Drew Bledsoe's career in particular. The Cowboy offense spent the remainder of the season playing toreador to opposing defensive bulls, and Bledsoe, already gun shy from his seasons spent getting hammered in Buffalo, assumed the fetal position so often it became a habit he was unable to break this year.

This year, the loss of Ellis to a season-ending Achilles tendon injury has taken a defense (which, by the way, was predicted to be superior by just about everyone, and called "Doomsday III" by the Lead Sheep, Mr. George "Jub-Jub" Dunham) which was not not all that great to begin with, and has transformed it into a painful joke. The Cowboy defense appears to be unable to stop any competent NFL offense and might get trampled by the El Campo Ricebirds. Maybe even the Ricebirds JV.

Today's illustration was provided by the Philadelphia Eagles, who apparently slipped a double dose of rohypnol into the Cowboys' Gatorade coolers. By the end of the game, the entire defensive depth chart looked dazed, abused, and violated.

No one on the Cowboy defense played well enough to stay out of the Pear Shaped Football Genius's doghouse. The Eagle offense looked like a reincarnation of the '83 San Francisco 49ers, calmly and efficiently marching up and down the field, making no mistakes and executing just about everything they wanted.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Cowboys did nothing to write home about. The Romo feel-good saga appears to be in its waning days and one has to resume asking about the long-term viability of the undrafted guy from 1-AA. The tone was set early, as the Cowboys were unable to convert a 1st and goal into points, instead turning the ball over on downs as the usually unstoppable Marion Barber got clobbered behind the line on 3 consecutive plays. Why the Pear Shaped Football Genius felt compelled to go for it on 4th and goal, instead of taking 3 points in the first quarter, is a mystery to me. But who am I, a mere football peon, to question him? He's not the Pear Shaped Football Genius for nothing.

The Cowboys had a golden opportunity to nail down the division and to make a statement today. Instead, they have made their own road significantly harder and have handed the division to a team which should have been dead and buried weeks ago.

And how about next week? Think Detroit is a sure win? Didn't the Lions give the mighty Bears all they could handle yesterday? I think its well within the realm of possibility the Cowboys go into the playoffs in full reverse.

We shall see, but, all of a sudden, the Dark Side is a pretty happening place again.

Daily YouTube: Blue Oyster Cult (NOT)

Here's a great bit from late-90s SNL - the Blue Oyster Cult "Behind the Music".

I've got a fever, and the only prescription is MORE COWBELL!

25 years ago today

While December 25th is best known for a few other things, there is an event which occurred on this date back in 1991 which is worth a mention.

Twenty five years ago today, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as President of the USSR, and the country itself ceased to exist.

Not quite as world-changing as the birth of Jesus Christ, but not all that far behind either.

Paul Hewson, Knight Commander

U2's Paul Hewson (a little better known by his stage name, Bono) will be awarded an honorary knighthood by the Queen. As a non-Brit, Bono will be an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, a title which sounds like it ought to have been conferred on Bill S. Preston, Esquire or Ted "Theodore" Logan instead.

Its sorta funny to me to see all these formerly-angry young men accept what I see as the biggest sell-out award ever. Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bob Geldof, and now Bono have all gone as Establishment as is humanly possible. On the other hand, it's the least the Brits can do for a guy like Bono, who has contributed to the world of music and, MUCH more importantly, to some of the biggest social issues of the day.

Congratulations, Bono. Your new-found honor will, hopefully, open even more doors for your work. Now, all that's lacking is that silly little Nobel thing.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Daily YouTube: Remember "The Specials"?

The godfathers of ska in an appearance on Saturday Night Live back in 1980. Back in the day, SNL booked edgy, up-and-coming acts, not Justin friggin' Timberlake.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Daily YouTube: Louis Armstrong visits the Congo

The great Satchmo in Africa, circa 1960. This is back when it was still the Belgian Congo.

2006 Review

You’ll read year-in-review articles everywhere in the next week or so. For the most part, they’ll be a beating, and this one will be no exception. I often struggle with things like this: Is it worth wasting electrons on my screen to even go thru this exercise? Will anyone care? The answer to that is, of course, NO. But who cares about any of the crap I write about here? A few of you do (and I appreciate every one of you), but, for the most part, I do this whole bit just for me.

So, with all the usual self-flagellation out of the way, I think this will be some fun to look back at in the near and distant future. Here goes:

News Story of the Year

The knee-jerk is to say something like “Iraq” or “War of Terror”, but that’s pretty broad. If we’re going to narrow it down a bit, then we should focus on a specific event. To me, that’s the mid-term elections.

The Republicans losing control of Congress was no surprise – they’d doing everything in their power to hand it over for several years, and it was only Democratic ineptness which prevented it from happening at least two years ago. Not a surprise, but an historic, game-changing event nonetheless, and an opportunity to make some new moves at last. Would Rumsfeld still be at the Pentagon if the Dems hadn’t won? Dunno, but they did and he’s not. That’s a start, but, obviously, not nearly enough. I don’t know what the answer is in Iraq, but the status quo obviously ain’t working. I’m not going to say “anything would be better than what we’ve got”, because that’s foolish and untrue. However, there are better approaches available, and its way past time to start trying them. The change in DC makes those other approaches a legitimate part of the debate, where they might not have been before.

International Story of the Year

Ariel Sharon’s catastrophic stroke, North Korea joining the nuclear club, Iran starting the application process for the same club, general zaniness from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez, and the continuing horror shows in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Burma are all noteworthy, but the story of the year in the International section has to be Israel vs. Hezbollah.

For most of the mid-summer, Israel, Hezbollah, and, to a lesser extent, Hamas, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan had a serious disagreement. The roots are, of course, one of the most complex, frustrating, and violent differences of opinion in the history of mankind. The immediate cause was the kidnapping (or capture, depending on your perspective, I suppose) of three Israeli soldiers by Hamas and Hezbollah.

The result was weeks of open hostilities, the resolution of which is unclear at this point. Israel certainly did not lose, but it’s difficult to tell if Hezbollah and Hamas did either. Hamas and Hezbollah didn’t win, but it’s difficult to tell if Israel did.

One thing we know for sure coming out of this little soiree is the Israeli govt has lost most, if not all, of its stones. Sharon, and most of the PMs before him, knew that, if it comes to shooting at anything above the platoon level, then it’s time to throw everything up to, and including, the kitchen sink at the other guys. Half measures don’t get it done. However, all Olmert and his tottering coalition could muster was half measures.

VERY discouraging!

Sports Story of the Year

A close one here: Mavs going to the NBA Finals was BIG, but I have to go with Vince Young and Texas winning the National Championship. That Rose Bowl was an All-Timer – I proclaimed it the Greatest College Football Game Ever, and I stand by that. There was MUCH rejoicing all over Texas and at the CIT Compound in particular back on Jan 4.

Entertainment Story of the Year

My vote goes to Sacha Baron Cohen’s emergence as a major comedy star. I have been a fan of the guy since I first laid eyes on “Da Ali G. Show” several years ago. Talladega Nights and, of course, Borat have introduced Cohen to mainstream America. Not everyone gets him, but well north of $150 million in box office for Borat indicates that enough do. Borat takes its place with Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Team America, and Blazing Saddles as the funniest, most offensive movie ever in the history of ever. Shockingly, my smart and insanely hot wife laughed her ass off at it, which is a bet I would have lost for sure.

Local Story of the Year

It’s hardly ever good news in the City of Dallas, and this year is no exception. The big story was the unveiling of plans for the giant new Jerry-Dome in Arlington. The news is all good for Arlington, the Jones family, Cowboy fans, and probably humanity in general. However, its just one more example of Dallas’, and especially Laura Miller’s, inability to get it done.

Best Week of the Year (Personal Edition)

Back in June, I got to attend Microsoft’s annual Tech Ed, this year held at the spiffy new Boston Convention and Even Center. The week-long event was excellent, as always; well-planned, well-executed, well-attended, and chock full of great info. And, since it was in Boston, I got to make a bit of a vacation of the whole thing.

In my 10 day stay, I managed to: spend two days in Providence RI, boating, eating at nice restaurants, killing many brain cells, and generally reliving my college days; see cousins, aunts, and assorted other family from both sides on a number of occasions; go for several runs along the Charles on spectacular New England early summer days; go for several walks through Back Bay and the Financial District on spectacular New England early summer days; get introduced to City Bar, a new entry on my very short list of favorite Boston bars; and enjoy several meals in Back Bays finest restaurants.

I need more business trips like this one!

Big Time Family Story of the Year

There’s a litany of events in the running. Rather than boil it down to a single one, let me briefly list the big stuff:

Our five-year-old son, who has an extremely rare metabolic disease called Tyrosinemia Type 1 and who got VERY VERY sick before he was a year old, started Kindergarten and is learning so much, so fast that I literally can’t believe it. In addition, FISD and the folks at his school have really accommodated him. It took minimal effort from us on some things, and quite a bit of effort on some other things, but we are very pleased with how things have worked out for him.

Our eight-year-old daughter got recruited for select soccer. She’s very athletic, which is shocking, considering how nonathletic her dad is, and, when she’s into it, is an outstanding player. We’re working on the “into it” part, and playing at a higher level should help. This is quite an honor, though, and something we’re all very proud of.

I changed employers, moving from International Network Services to Catapult Systems back in Sept. The work is exactly the same, but I’m doing all of it in the DFW Metroplex of Love. Other than a day trip to Houston and a day trip to Austin, I haven’t traveled for business since I made the change. I actually have time to help Aly with her homework, make the kids dinner, do baths and bedtime, and have a hobby or two. What a revelation!

Robynne continues to add to her legend in the medical community in Dallas, Collin, and Denton Counties. She’s had parents say to her, “I had to wait a month to get an appointment with you, but it was worth the wait.” That’s pretty high praise. She’s had huge positive impacts on so many families in North Texas through her work – it’s great to see her do so well at something she clearly loves to do. She is, quite literally, an inspiration to me.

Thanks for sticking with me thru this outrageously long post, and with the blog thru long periods of less-than-active posting (and less-than-interesting content). Have a great Holiday Season, and a happy 2007!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Daily YouTube: "The Barry Gibb Talk Show"

Justin Timberlake validates his otherwise worthless existence whenever he hosts Saturday Night Live. He and Fallon doing Robin and Barry Gibb on The Barry Gibb Talk Show is always a highlight.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the latest version. I'm Barry Effing Gibb!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Today's bin Laden joke

Brought to you by Comedy Central:

After dying a grisly death in an Afghan cave, Osama made his way to the pearly gates.
There, he was greeted by George Washington.

"How dare you attack the nation I helped conceive!" yelled Washington, slapping Osama in the face.

Patrick Henry came up from behind. "You wanted to end America's liberty, so they gave you death!" Henry punched Osama in the nose.

James Madison came next, and said, "This is why I allowed the government provide for the common defense!" He took a sledge hammer and whacked Osama's knees.

Osama was subjected to similar beatings from John Randolph, James Monroe, and 65 other people who had the same love for liberty and America. As he writhed on the ground, Thomas Jefferson hurled him back toward the gate where he was to be judged.

As Osama awaited his journey to his final very hot destination, he screamed, "This is not what I was promised!"

An angel replied, "I told you there would be 72 Virginians waiting for you. What did you think I said?"

Daily YouTube: The age of innocence

Back in the innocent, naive days of the early 1960s, American movie-goers were treated to this absolutely bizarre newsreel.

Part 1 has the capture of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba of the newly independent Republic of the Congo and his return to the capital to face "justice" at the hands of his arch-rival Joseph Mobutu. Lumumba was tortured and killed by his captors shortly after this footage was filmed.

Part 2 shows us happy newlyweds Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee returning to California from their honeymoon.

This is the most extreme example I've ever seen of the latter days of American innocence.

al-Zawahri’s video blog – a new post!

AQ#2 (not to be confused with Dr. Evil’s Number 2) Ayman al-Zawahri released the latest post to his video blog recently. So far, he’s published 15 installments since the beginning of the year, which is only impressive when you remember he’s got to shoo goats out of his studio whenever he wants to record something.

In his latest reasonable, thoughtful, consensus-building missive, al-Zawahri opines that elections of any sort in Palestine are a recipe for defeat. Only through armed struggle and an Islamic constitution can Muslims win victory over the Jews and their masters (or is it puppets – I can never remember) in the West.

One thing you have to say for al-Zawahri – he’s consistent. A deluded, dangerous instigator of violence and intolerance, but consistent. In his rant, he condemns Israel and the US (of course), Abbas and Fatah (not surprising), and his occasional hermanos in Hamas, whom he says are betraying Islam by agreeing to a truce with Israel, recognizing Abbas as President of the PA, and not insisting on an Islamic constitution before joining the government, among other traitorous acts. Truly, it is al-Zawahri’s way or the highway, regardless of your track record, past pronouncements, or body count of innocent civilians (oops, I mean “unbelievers”) smoked in despicable, cowardly suicide bombings (oh darn, I mean “heroic martyrdom operations”).

I’m actually glad Delta Force and the SAS haven’t brought this character’s head back on a stick yet. al-Zawahri, in his hatred-stoking rants, serves as a wonderful reminder that the “War of Terror”, the execution of which has been botched beyond all recognition by GWB and co., still needs to be fought. Just because we’ve screwed it up doesn’t make the other guys right.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Daily YouTube: World's smallest twin-engine plane

A bit of sheet metal, a couple of lawn mower motors, and you're ready for some aerobatics.

There is not enough money in the WORLD for me to go up in something like this!

Hamas: A coup is underway. Led by the Americans, of course.

The Palestinians have taken a short break from killing Jews and are filling their spare time by killing each other, for a change. I don’t know about you, but I think this is a welcome change of pace. Take your time, boys. Don’t bother aiming. Just cab off as many rounds as you possibly can at each other. Every bullet fired now is one less shot at an Israeli once this hiatus is over.

Easy for me to say. I’ve been fortunate enough to never have an AK magazine emptied in my general direction.

Well, never mind that. The article which really caught my eye today was on MSNBC over lunch: Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh accuses the US of trying to bring down his government.

Forget that Hamas has the destruction of Israel in its charter. Forget that the majority of the population of Earth and the majority of governments of the countries of Earth have condemned Hamas as a terrorist organization. Forget that Hamas has done NOTHING for the Palestinian people except get them killed in new and inventive ways. Forget all of that.

Instead, lets all pause for a moment and think about Haniyeh’s accusation.

Certainly, very few people in Washington, on either side of the aisle, would be terribly disappointed if Hamas were to go quietly into the night. But actively working to bring down their government? That would be lunacy of the highest order. Especially when Hamas is clearly capable of performing the task on their own.

I was feeling pretty good right up until that “lunacy” sentence. God, I hope our hands are clean in this case.

The Rangers’ mildly warm stove

I don’t have much to say regarding the Rangers’ off season to-date. The losses of Carlos Lee, Adam Eaton, Mark DeRosa, et al have barely made me take notice. Sure, some of the departed made contributions last season, but contributions to what? Last season was a disaster by any measure.

Similarly, the additions of Catalanotto, Gagne, and Lofton leave me somewhat unimpressed. Are we back to zero now? Certainly seems close.

On one hand, the free agent market has gone INSANE this year. On the other hand, what difference does that make? Either you’re in or you’re out.

Sign Zito and I’ll say you’re in. Otherwise, let’s go ahead and pre-order our 3rd Place ribbons, again, and start counting down to the 2007 football season right now.

Somalia: Not a vacation spot

From WaPo recently: The situation in Somalia continues to get worse. I don’t know about you, but I’m reminded of the immortal Nigel Tufnel line: It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.

And yet, in seeming defiance of the laws of nature and fake heavy metal, it gets worse.

Oh, and that quote above was not meant in any racial sense, so spare me your hate mail, please. I mean “blacker” in the sense of more grim, bleak, dark, and hopeless. Not in the sense of the ethnic makeup of the population involved.

Somalia, as anyone who saw (or read – it was a book first, you know) Black Hawk Down can tell you, has been a failed state for over 15 years. That’s bad enough, you’d think. Now there’s word that AQ has set up shop in a big way, the US-backed warlords (and that right there tells you a bunch – when a group of warlords is your most appealing option, things have gone very badly indeed) have been thrown out of the “government”, such as it is, and the cities in general, and war with neighboring Ethiopia is imminent and, by the way, heavily supported by Uncle Osama himself.

If Somalia turns into the next AQ home-away-from-home, ala Afghanistan before it, Western options will be nearly non-existent. The Ethiopians can probably be counted on to oppose, in fairly violent terms, an Islamist terrorist state next door, but they have significant problems of their own, not just with the Somalis, but also with Eritrea on the other side. There will certainly not be much of an internal, “Northern Alliance”-type outfit to support via Special Ops and airpower, as was done, with a bit of success, against the Taliban.

The Horn of Africa is an historical mess on the scale of the Middle East and Central Asia. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to be center stage for Phase III of the “War of Terror” (thanks, Borat).

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hey. We're back!

Whoa. Sorry. I meant to take last weekend off from blogging, and it turned into an entire-week hiatus.

So, we're back. How about a few quick-hittie items by way of catch up:
  • The Palestinians are trying to kill each other. Again. Now Abbas is calling for new elections ASAP. I'm sure the Hamas boys will not be too thrilled with that.
  • Judith Regan, the genius behind OJ's planned "If I Did It" book, got canned by Murdoch yesterday. There is some justice left in the world.
  • In Cowboy news, the humiliation by the Saints warmed my heart. Nearly as much fun was Quincy Carter's latest drug bust (bailed out by Grampa Urine of all people) and the unveiling of the $1 billion Jerry Dome earlier this week. Whee!
  • It took Florida 34 minutes and two injections to kill convicted murderer Angel Nieves Diaz the other day. You would think Floridians would be really good at dispensing medication, but apparently not. I'm not sure if Diaz's thoughts were along the "Hurry up" line or the "Keep screwing around" line.
We'll be back to regular posting in the next day or two. In the meanwhile, Happy Hanukkah to all!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Remember these guys?

Here's a stroll down amnesia lane: Remember the two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah back during the summer? Sure you do - this was the event which kicked over the whole anthill and had Israel and Hezbollah bashing away at each other for weeks afterwards.

Well, the Israeli govt, and thus the Israeli press, has FINALLY gotten around to mentioning them again. According to the Israeli military, the two soldiers (Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser - don't worry, I wouldn't have gotten either right myself) were severely injured in the action which resulted in their capture.

PM Olmert went so far as to say, earlier this week, "...if they (are alive), and we hope they are alive...", implying they might not be. The families of the two soldiers were not amused.

For their part, Hezbollah and the Lebanese govt have said bupkiss about both soldiers, nor have they provided any clues about their fates.

It's worth remembering the UN imposed cease-fire required unconditional and immediate release of the soldiers.

Red Sox may not get Matsuzaka

The clock is ticking on a potential deal between the Boston Red Sox and Japanese super-pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, and it's not looking promising.

According to Joy of Sox (a great baseball blog apparently written by a white German shepherd dog, my favorite breed), the obstacle may be Matsuzaka's agent, the baseball Anti-Christ himself, Scott Boras.

That would be SHOCKING, indeed.

Daily YouTube: Just in case you forgot what day it is

It was a long time ago, and most of those who survived that day are either no longer with us or not with us for long. It's a day that lends itself to some thoughts and comparisons (from

A stronger, far more affluent United States believes it can use less of its power against the terrorists than a much poorer America did against the formidable Japanese and Germans.

World War II, which saw more than 400,000 Americans killed, was not nearly as controversial or frustrating as one that has so far taken less than one-hundredth of that terrible toll.

And after Pearl Harbor, Americans believed they had no margin of error in an elemental war for survival. Today, we are apparently convinced that we can lose ground, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq, and still not lose either the war or our civilization.

Of course, by 1945, Americans no longer feared another Pearl Harbor. Yet, we, in a far stronger and larger United States, are still not sure we won’t see another Sept 11.

Not sure what it all means, but it's definitely a day to stop, think, and pay respects.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Daily YouTube (sorta): Infrared fart video

Sorry, Keith. I had to lift this one from you, as I know a significant portion of my readership thinks fart humor is the highest form of comedy.

Retro-tech: I'm turning into a believer

Something must be wrong with me, as I actually think this is cool: A 1940's era telephone handset, all cranked up on Bluetooth connectivity and USB recharging, for your mobile. For less than $40, I'm interested!

Darn thing just won't fit in my pocket.

And from the same department, the 1930's model cordless phone. This one's over $180, so I don't think I'll partake. Still...

Settling disputes the Aussie way

Those loony Australians, always coming up with new and entertaining methods of making headlines.

This time, over 200 members of two feuding families from a remote town in the Northern Territory met, in the "stifling December heat", to try to resolve their differences. Instead of sorting out a truce, they wound up going after each other with axes, spears, and homemade swords.

Come visit Australia, mate!

This is why I don't play the lottery

Most miserable Brit ever Steve Moseley thought he had won £1million on a lottery scratch-off card. He went totally nuts, quit his job, phoned his girlfriend to tell her he was buying an Aston Martin, and participated in all sorts of celebratory nonsense.

Unfortunately, that was the number 16 on his card, not the number 15 in the winning combination. He had, in truth, won a whole sack of nothing.

He successfully grovelled his way back into his crappy used-car-salesman job and now has to take shed-loads of crap from his co-workers. God only knows what his gf is extracting from him.

It's funny as long as it's not happening to you, isn't it?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Daily YouTube: Ken Burns' Boston University

Some wits at BU apparently have a late night show on the campus TV station (things have changed IMMENSELY since I went to BU in the 80s - we had neither a campus TV station nor wits, except for Murph, of course) and they have produced this little ditty.

It's a long way to go for not much payoff, but it's college humor. I'm just happy there aren't a hundred fart jokes.

A vote for Vista

Brad Feld weighs in on the "To Upgrade or Not To Upgrade" question - he's a Vista fan, preferring it to both XP and Mac OSX running on what sounds like a sweet set-up.

I haven't taken the plunge yet, as Catapult is still sorting out licensing for Vista and Office 2007 (An aside - this seems awfully silly to me. We're a Gold Certified Partner, for God's sake. What's the hang up?) but will as soon as I get the official okey dokey from our IT group. I'm looking forward to it.

For the IT pros out there - I suspect that, for those of us in the trenches who have fought with XP for the past 4 years, the thought of upgrading is compelling. However, I empathize with your struggles to justify it. I'll keep looking for ammo you can use with your management to support an upgrade.

New party-ending non-lethal weapon

Next time your kegger gets out of hand, you can use the Air Force's new Active Denial System (ADS) to get rid of your freeloading guests in a BIG hurry.

The ADS emits a type of electromagnetic energy longer in wavelength than X-rays but shorter than microwaves. The effect of these waves (called millimeter waves or MMW) is instant surface heating of any non-shielded skin surface. In other words, the top layer of your skin will immediately heat up, producing a feeling similar to being dipped in molten lava. But, and here's the kicker, there's no lasting damage done beyond a mild sunburn.

The result produced on an unruly mob is known as the "Goodbye Effect", or, as the military puts it, "prompt and highly motivated escape behavior." No kidding.

Sounds great, right? Here's a way to keep civil order without killing, maiming, or even seriously injuring anyone.

Not so fast. I may joke about busting up an out-of-hand keg party, but there's a bit more to this.

Highly effective, non-lethal weapons are much more likely to be used, don't you think? If there's essentially zero chance of a "Bloody Sunday"-type massacre, or another Kent State, won't the "authorities" be more apt to deploy the ADS?

So, the next question is: What constitutes an "unruly mob"? What group of protesters rates a high-powered ADS zap? The Klan? Anti-war protesters? The anti-abortion nuts? Who's decision is that?

Non-lethal weapons, especially ones with no long term negative physical effects, are, by definition, meant to control a civilian population. There's no doubt this is sometimes a necessary thing, but I think we still have things called "freedom of speech" and "freedom of assembly" in this country. New, highly effective devices which can be employed to curtail those freedoms are not necessarily wonderful news.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Daily YouTube: My Hands Are Bananas

Produced in Helena MT, where there is apparently not much to do. Sorta psychotic, but funny.


This is musically disturbing

The Teenar Girl Guitar, made from a dept store mannequin.

I'm going to have nightmares for weeks over this one...

Satellite TV for autos

Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin says his company will offer mobile satellite TV service to it's satellite radio customers in 2007.

This is inevitable and, as an owner of an in-car DVD player and the father of two school-age kids, I think I'm interested. It comes down to ease of use, quality of signal, programming choices, and, of course, monthly cost, but I'm definitely interested.

Tales From the Dark Side: Six Weeks to Change the World

I like steadiness. Routine. Things you can count on.

Sunrises. The tides. Seasons. 527 groups tearing political opponents to shreds. You know, the constants of life on Planet Earth.

Things like the Pear-Shaped Football Genius being over-rated by the fawning media. The Cowboy O line blocking like a bunch of 10th-grade band geeks up against the Violent Offenders Support Group from Riker’s Island. TO Owens running his mouth while balls clang off his numb hands. The unfortunate soul playing QB for the Cowboys running for his life and encountering failure, in the form of sacks, bad passes, or interceptions, at every turn.

In the past six weeks, I’ve gone from security and predictability to a world of inconsistency, shaken beliefs, and doubt of all things billed as “unchangeable”.

The Cowboys are the best team in the NFC.

Six weeks ago, I was writing things like “El Disastro” about the Cowboys. The season was, I thought (hell, I was SURE), over. Finito. Beyond salvage. And I wasn’t alone.

Now, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the bunnies are eating carrots out of Bondo-Face’s hands, traffic is flowing more smoothly on the highways and byways of the DFW Metroplex of Love, Laura Miller’s voice is melodious rather than abrasive, JC Penney, TI, and EDS stocks are all up, Pizza Hut pizza is both delicious AND nutritious, and Arlington residents forced from their homes by the new Jerry-Dome are getting $1.05 on the dollar for their property.

Well, $1.01, at least. Let’s get a grip. It’s a shiny, happy time, but the Messiah hasn’t yet descended from Heaven.

How did this astounding turn of events come about?

Tony Romo became the Cowboy QB. That’s it. That’s the change. All good things have flowed from that move.

Goofy, big-eared, unheralded, hopelessly white, undrafted-out-of-1AA Tony Romo has changed the world. Whether he is truly the next Cowboy legendary QB, or if it comes down to (and I’m stealing this shamelessly from Sports Bob) Darth Vader looking him over and saying, “The Force is strong with this one”, no one can tell you for sure. But the change in Cowboy fortune can be attributed to nothing, and no one, else.

At a stroke, Parcells is again the Pear-Shaped Football Genius (with no irony) for keeping Romo around while jettisoning more-hyped hopefuls Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson, and Drew Henson and forcing fans to endure retreads Vinny Testaverde, Ryan Leaf, and Drew Bledsoe (I really still love you, Drewzilla).

In the blink of an eye, Bondo-Face is again the football Rain-Man for ceding control to Parcells, and writing a big check to keep Romo in the fold.

All of a sudden, the Cowboy O line, which previously subscribed to the “block them using the air currents generated by us falling down” method of pass protection, is battle-hardened and looks to be playoff- (and, perhaps, championship-) ready.

In a flash, TO Owens’ cement hands and non-stop jabbering are merely an afterthought. Roy Williams’ cover skills are a big, fat NBD (that’s “No Big Deal”, btw). The 3-4 defense is a smashing success. JJones and MBIII are amicably splitting time in the backfield, both racking up career high numbers, and probably dating each others’ sisters. And the kicker? Who gives a crap about the kicker?

It all goes back to the guy who majored in typewriter maintenance at the Rocco Globbo School for Women. Isn’t it amazing how a little success can breed so much more success? There’s a lesson in here for all of us, but that’s a whole different post.

In the meanwhile, I will try to find my equilibrium. Perhaps the world will shift back to where it was not so long ago. But it doesn’t look like it. I think, instead, I will have to adjust my perception to fit the new reality.

Wish me luck.

BTW – it’s become very lonely here on the Dark Side. Even your emotions have an echo in so much space.

Sorry, now I’m channeling Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse. I better quit while I’m still making some sense.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Daily YouTube: Glenn Miller "In The Mood"

You've heard this one in just about every WWII movie ever made: Glenn Miller and His Orchestra playing their signature tune, "In The Mood".

My grandfather listed to Big Band and swing when I was a kid. I love it now because the music is great, and because it reminds me of him.

And if you think that's gay, I'll come over to your house and punch you in the nose.

Football Friday – The Ice Storm Does Not Showeth edition

In a surprise to exactly no one over the age of about 12, “Arctic Blast 2006” was a giant fizzle. The so-called “weathermen” have a lot of brass calling what they do a “profession”. See? I’m so upset, I can’t even control my use of quotation marks.

Well, never mind all that nonsense. The college season is reaching its crescendo, and the pros are starting to sort themselves out. Lots to talk about today, so let’s get to it!


USC @ UCLA (+13.5) – It must be a big game, as ABC is dispatching “Big Game Brent” to broadcast it. Which is too bad – I really wanted to watch it. Question: Can a game be good enough to counter-balance Brent Musburger? How does that guy get the big college game every week? Whatever. USC will win, and probably by a bunch. But 13.5 is too much for me. Give me the Bruins.

Arkansas (+3) vs. Florida @ Atlanta – The SEC Title Game (and, by default, the Redneck Game of the Week) is an interesting one this year. The Gators are not that great, but they can throw the ball. Arkansas is pretty darn good, but they can’t defend the pass. I think Arkansas wins for two reasons: 1). Florida is probably underestimating them, and 2) Razorback fans will annoy the Florida team into defeat. They do it to me every week.

Nebraska (+4) vs. Oklahoma @ KC – The Big 12 Title Game is not so interesting. This was, once upon a Big 8 time, one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports. Unfortunately, not so much anymore. Oklahoma is the better team, and may have the best defense in the country. Bob Stoops has, once again, proven the superiority of his sports brain, willing this injury-ravaged team to the success it’s had.

Rutgers (+10.5) @ West Virginia – Did we really think these were Top 5 teams at one point this year? We did? How silly. I totally don’t care about the outcome of the game, but I would LOVE to see the crowd at this one. The home side will be a bunch of coal miners and hillbillies, the visitor side a bunch of Christopher Moltisanti look-alikes. Talk about clash of cultures.

Overly Dramatic Pick of the Week: Fresno St. (+4) @ San Jose St. – The techies vs. the lettuce growers is sure to be a pitched battle between the classes, between the whities and the Meskins, between the future high earners and the future working class. Tune in to witness the final conflict between the forces of Karl Marx vs. those of supply-side economics. There can be only one!

Boston University vs. the cast and crew of “BU Tonight” – Since when does BU have 1) a campus TV station, and 2) a late-night TV talk show? I’ve seen some clips from this thing (look for a Daily YouTube with one in the not-too-distant future), and everyone in it needs a SERIOUS beating.


Minnesota (+9.5) @ Chicago – There’s NO QUESTION the Bears are the better team, but can their offense outscore anyone by 10 points? I sorta don’t think so. Give me the points.

Atlanta (+1.5) @ Washington – Oh, sure. Atlanta is bad and in full melt-down mode. And the Redskins have a new QB. Sorry, not everyone is Tony Romo. The Falcons are nowhere near as bad as they’ve played recently. The Nation’s Capital is the place to get your wheels back on.

Detroit (+14) @ Pats – Danger, Will Robinson! Fourteen points in the NFL is a WHOLE lot. Still, the Pats have the wheels on again, and Detroit so totally does not. Argh. It’s too much. Give me Detroit (kill me now).

Carolina @ Philadelphia (+3) – THIS is your Monday night game? WTF?? How much did ESPN pay to broadcast barforama games like this? Give me a good night’s sleep. No WAY I’m staying up for this one.

Cowboys @ Giants (+4) – The Giants are imploding and the Cowboys are world-beaters. Or are they? The Giants may very well use this week’s negativity to rally around. And, let’s face it, Tony Romo has to come back to his home planet at some point, doesn’t he? I’m taking the points (shocking), and will be working up Monday’s Dark Side post throughout.

Comedic Value Game of the Week – As usual, silly games outnumber serious ones by about 2 to 1. It’s always a struggle to narrow it down to one. While Jets @ Packers and Cardinals @ Rams are both great ones from a Buster Keaton-pratfall perspective, Houston @ Oakland really has to be the winner this week (or any week). Things are gonna be tough in the East Bay this weekend – it’s either this abysmal football game or the big Walnut Creek Hippie Craft Festival. Not sure which way I’d go.

Go (insert your team here)!

Electronic opportunity knocks

New rules go into place today regarding how companies' electronic records, including emails and instant messages, are handled by the legal system. Long story short (if anyone still says that): ALL electronic documents are subject to discovery and have to be provided as part of pre-trial prep.

These seemingly onerous regulations represent and ENORMOUS opporunity for Microsoft and the Microsoft Partner Community (of which I am a proud part). The new version of Exchange (the client/server email application which is running just about everywhere now), Vista, Live Communication Server (the internal instant messaging application which really hasn't managed to get much traction yet), and Office are all tailor-made to help comply with the new directives.

The trick is, as always, planning, configuration of the tools, and training for both IT pros and end users. And that's where your friendly, neighborhood Microsoft partner come in. Folks in my line of work specialize in exactly those tasks. The good ones in the Partner world (and there are lots of good ones, but many charlatans too) have proven methods for helping businesses plan for and implement what they really want and need. Partners should, and by-and-large do, provide expertise in both the requirements of the new rules, the capabilities of the software tools, and an experience-based body of knowledge which will speed an implementation and greatly enhance it's chances of success.

If this sounds like an advert for certain Microsoft Partners, so be it. The point here is businesses have new rules they must comply with. There's a group of extraordinarily smart people out there who stand by ready to help.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Daily YouTube (sorta): The French are NUTS

I can't figure this one out at all, but apparently this guy is the shite in France.

You know what they say - mime is money.

jerome murat
Uploaded by segalier

A letter from Mahmoud

Our pal, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has seen fit to send an open letter to the American people. The multi-page missive was distributed through Iran's delegation to the UN. You can read the translated text here.

I have slogged through the whole thing, and am rather unimpressed with it. You'd think he'd at least give us an update on the Iranian national soccer team's progress, or some other local news, but, no, there's nothing like that.

Instead, Ahmadinejad's letter is a an intellectually lazy semi-diatribe, filled with all sorts of generalizations and, as far as I can tell, not one single concrete offer or suggestion for reducing tensions between the US and Iran. Ahmadinejad engages in some poorly veiled Jew-baiting, a great deal of disingenuous attempted separation of the US populace from its government, and a whole lot of lamenting the plight of the poor Palestinians. He positively gushes about the admirable qualities of the American people, while hammering away at our elected officials and "Zionists" in both Israel and Washington.

No doubt this offering will find at least a small audience of sympathizers in the US, and probably moreso in Europe. However, it certainly seems to me to be so unspecific, so generic, and so meandering that I just can't see it having any major impact at all. The anti-Semitism expressed by Ahmadinejad pales in comparison to that portrayed in Borat, and Americans have already voiced their displeasure with their elected officials.

I would like to know what Ahmadinejad is really up to here. Galvanizing the American people, or even triggering discussion or deep thought, seems unlikely. And if it was just pub he was looking for, he should have recorded a rap album.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Daily YouTube: The Mighty A-Bomb

Today's gem from YouTube is a newsreel video covering the "Able" atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll in 1946.

For those of you nostalgic for the good ol' days, when crude atomic gravity bombs were miraculous proof of American superiority and a stout pair of sunglasses was all you needed to shield yoursef from a fission explosion, well, here you go.

Zimbabwe now wants to stop international cell calls

Not content with limiting it's citizens' access to the Internet, now the Zimbabwe government has demanded the nation's two main independent mobile phone providers route their international traffic through the state-owned telecom, TelOne.

This is, of course, for "national security" purposes. Of course.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Think you're safe in that H3?

Attention: All mid-40s balding white guys with envy issues. Your Hummer is not as tough as you think it is.

The only person hurt in this crash was the dude driving the H3. The bus driver walked away without a scratch, and the bus was driven away with minor damage.

Daily YouTube: World's worst burglar

This dude REALLY needs to find a new line of work.

Tales From the Dark Side: Lookee here!

It's difficult to admit, but it is getting harder to be a Dark Sider around here. Isn't it amazing what a little winning can do? I swear, I think even the traffic is moving more smoothly than it was back in Sept. The only thing that's less interesting is sports talk radio - those guys love Cowboy disasters even more than I do.

Well, never mind all that. The subject for today is nearly existential in its complexity. How do we, as Dark Siders in good conscience, rationalize continued negative aspirations amongst all the positivity?

In other words, can we keep hoping for disaster while Romo and Company become America's Sweethearts?

It's a tougher question than it seems.

Nobody likes a happy ending more than me. No one wants to believe in the goodness of man, the beauty of nature, and the grace of God more than me. Seriously. I know, it can be tough to tell from what I've written in the past, but I really am an optimist. Ask my wife.

So, in that sense, I'd LOVE to see Tony Romo be the next feel-good story of the NFL. He's young, he's talented, he's confident without being cocky; at this point, there's absolutely nothing to dislike about the kid.

I've gone on record as stating my fandom of J. Jones, MBIII, and the tragic figure that is Drew Bledsoe. Let me expand to encompass Terry Glenn, Jason Witten, Terrence Newman, Anthony Henry, and Aaron Glenn. I think Greg Ellis is a class act, and I'm coming around on DeMarcus Ware. I think Mat McBriar is a hero to punting dorks everywhere.

So, there are some reasons to like the Cowboys. Do they outweigh the negatives, ranging from disdain to outright hostility, generated by the likes of Roy Williams, Flozell Adams, Terrell Owens, the Pear-Shaped Football Genius, or, most egregious of all, Bondo-Face?

Ehhhhhh, it's a teeter-totter. It depends how much my ankles hurt, or whether I've had my car washed recently. I mean, it's on the knife's edge. Really, really close.

However, I did swear, back last spring when Bondo-Face sold his soul to Terrell Owens, I would wish nothing but failure on this team. I have to stick with a statement as strong as that, don't I?

But, the reality is parity has reduced the NFL in general, and the NFC in particular, to a collection of very evenly matched spare-to-fair teams. No one in the NFC stands out: Chicago matches an All-World defense with a flatlined offense, Seattle's injury list reads like the western Washington telephone directory, Carolina goes up and down like the fake Britney Spears (that wasn't very family friendly, was it?), the Saints show flashes but are still subject to the Creole Cemetery Curse.

Are the Cowboys the best team in this insane conference? At the moment, they seem to be. Does it last long enough for them to make some real hay in the playoffs? Dude, I'm more comfortable predicting the weather two weeks in advance. Who knows? It's entirely possible Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin go to a voodoo high priestess, sacrifice a goat or two, and whip the Cowboys' tails next weekend, causing a mass ritual suicide in the Cowboy locker room after the game.

Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, please continue to tune in to Tales From the Dark Side for more uplifting prose like that last sentence.

Yay, mass ritual suicide!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The COOLEST small watercraft ever

Check this baby out: The Innerspace Sea Breacher is a two-person, rotary marine (with or without supercharger) gasoline powered, subaqueous dolphin-shaped vessel that leaps, dives and barrel rolls through wave and tide just like Flipper from the TV show. With a canopy straight off the F-22 Raptor and automatically opening and closing snorkel valve on the dorsal fin, this thing is capable of 30 mph on the surface and 20 mph underwater.

It's in testing, with a 2007 unveiling as a demo planned. Unfortunately, Innerspace has no plans to sell it to the public, and even if they did, it would most likely adhere to the "if you have to ask how much, you can't afford it" rule.

Iraq: Another dreadful milestone

As of today (Nov 25), the US has spent more time fighting in Iraq that it did in WWII. Talk about instant perspective.

Interestingly, I ran across this in the Sydney Morning Herald, not in a US paper. Draw your own conclusions from that little tidbit.

Daily YouTube: Congratulations, you're married

Not exactly home video, but still funny.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Football Friday-ish - The Thanksgiving slate

In a big ol' honkin' hurry, as the wife has turned the kitchen into a recreation of the Somme. However, there are three games today (only two of which I'll get to see, more in a moment). So, onward!

Miami @ Detroit (+2.5) - Good Lord, what a time-waste. Time for my annual rant on why Detroit rates a Thanksgiving game. I like the cheese tray over the chips'n'dip by two cocktail napkins, and I'll go with the over on the 2 Blue Paddle lagers. Wake me up when this one is over.

Tampa Bay (+11) @ Cowboys - I readily admit the Cowboys showed me something on Sunday, but 11 points? Are you kidding? I think there's a good chance the Cowboys are drinking their own Kool-Aid, and Tony Romo is making his reservations in Honolulu. I'll take the points.

Denver (+1) @ KC - The best game of the day, and, thanks to the money-induced pissing contest between Time Warner and the NFL, I'll get to listen to this one on the radio. I'm actually with Time Warner on this one - I'd pay for the NFL Network, and I don't think everyone should get it and get their rates jacked up if they don't want it. Regardless, in this fight, the consumer is the only loser. Jerks. I like KC, by the way. Jake (The Fake) Plummer is always looking for a good excuse to choke, and this is one of the better ones.

Go (insert your team here)!

Daily YouTube: A Hasselhoff Thanksgiving

I'm not completely sure the subtitles are right. Never mind that. From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Daily YouTube: Jack Kerouac on the Steve Allen Show

YouTube is great - you'll find stuff on it you'd never see anywhere else.

Today's nugget is a clip from The Steve Allen Show, circa 1959, featuring Jack Kerouac reading some of his work while Steve and his band play the blues. There's also a little tidbit from Allen at the end regarding some behind-the-scenes Kerouac.

There is no way you'd ever see anything this slow or mellow on network TV now.

All you ever wanted to know about comic-strip heinies

Scott Adams, creator of the great Dilbert comic strip, blogs regularly. He alternates between funny, serious, and seriously strange subjects, but it's always worth a read.

Today's offering is a lesson in what's acceptable and what's not acceptable in the field of newspaper comic strip nudity.

Some of these strips (COMIC strips, you perverts) are hysterical!

Some soul-crushing A&M numbers

From an email sent to Sports Bob, and lifted by me: Here are some Coach Franchione numbers which should make all Aggies cringe:


More Fran numbers:

20-21 Overall record
Record against OU: 0-4, TT: 1-3, NU: 0-2, t.u.: 0-3
11 losses of 20 or more points
Lost to every Big 12 team, except for KU/KSU at least once
Lost to every Big 12 team, except for KU/KSU/Baylor by at least 20 points
Overall Big 12 record of 10-14 with an average margin of loss of 22 points
Big 12 South record of 5-10 with an average margin of loss of 21 points
Worst loss in Texas A&M history (77-0)
Worst loss to Texas Tech in Texas A&M history (56-17)
Worst bowl game loss in Texas A&M history (38-7)
First loss to Iowa State in Texas A&M history
First losing season since 1982
First loss to Baylor since 1985

As a great man almost once said,
Mark: They're making a mockery of my University, man. This whole thing is turning out to be a theatrical mockery. You understand that, Mike?
Mike: No
Mark: Well, you will.

-Brady Class of '99

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Daily YouTube: 2005 Texas Longhorns highlights

OK, this is pretty gay. It's the 2005 Longhorns' season set to Eminem's "Lose Yourself". Still, it's pretty cool to remember just how great Texas was last year, and how much fun it all was.

NOW I'm interested in paintball!

For reasons I can't explain, I've never been terribly tempted to go play paintball. I can't figure it out - running thru the woods, shooting people with non-lethal ammo, it should be right up my alley. But, for whatever reason, not so much.

Well, that has all changed. As soon as I can get my hands on the Paintball Minigun, I am off to the nearest park to start hosing down fellow competitors. Genius!!

Americans are stupid Muslim-haters, says CAIR. Again.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), those calm, non-reactionary types who gently remind Americans of their ignorance and intolerance whenever necessary, has a new event to be pissed off about.

This time, six Muslim imams were removed from a Northwest Airlines flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix. The reason? All six stood up from their seats and started praying in unison. The plane had not yet left the gate, so authorities were able to board and start asking questions. Ultimately, the six were taken for further questioning and the plane left without them.

OK, I get it. Muslims pray multiple times each day, and this is sacred to them. No problem. And I agree that it sucks for everyone when a group of men can't pray in public without raising suspicions. It shouldn't come to that in America.

But it has.

Had I been on the flight in question, I would have freaked out right along with some of the other passengers. I HATE to fly, I'm scared to death of it, and, these days, I'm not alone. Once that plane leaves the ground, everyone on it is incredibly vulnerable to any maniac who's cleared security. There's no such thing as a "minor" plane crash - you don't walk away with some bumps and bruises. Sure, flying is, statistically, safer than zipping your fly. It doesn't matter. When in-flight on a commercial airliner, you are more at the mercy of those around you than at any other time that doesn't involve you wearing diaper.

Given the situation, everyone on board should follow some very basic rules of etiquette. Passengers should just stay in their seats and shut the hell up. Don't do things you know are going to alarm those around you. Don't jump up and yell "fire!", don't drop on the floor and roll around in a fake seizure, don't run around singing "Wooly Bully", don't stand up as a group and start praying. All of these things freak your fellow passengers out. They are NOT cool.

And if you do feel the need to cause alarm, don't get all whiny irritated when people get freaked out, and when the authorities come hassle you. I don't really care about your rights - there are 100+ people around you who have a right not to be scared by your actions. Your rights are not more important than theirs.

And then there are those wonderfully helpful folks at CAIR, who over-react to anything they perceive as a slight to Islam.

We absolutely should have a group out there standing up for Islam in a non-violent way. There is clearly a need for someone to explain, in calm, rational terms, how, through our ignorance, we're putting a religion down unfairly. Too bad CAIR isn't that group.

This bunch of clowns has done more to poison Western attitudes about Islam than anyone west of Gaza and east of Jakarta. In their eyes, a Muslim has never done anything to warrant suspicion or questioning, and it's only American stupidity and insensitivity which causes conflict. I'm not sure how this casting of stones is supposed to help us all just get along. Does it really calm tensions and foster understanding to attack the vast majority of the country's populace whenever a minority draws attention to itself in a negative way?

This turned into quite a bit more of a rant than I had planned. I guess I'll close with this: I really do want to understand others around me, and I'm the ultimate get-along guy. But, at the same time, I realize this is America, where certain actions, beliefs, and conduct are the norm and other actions, beliefs, and conduct are not the norm. Everything is easier for everyone if we all try to meet in the center a bit more.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Daily YouTube: The Ramones

From CBGB in 1977, the greatness of "Blitzkrieg Bop". You can feel the energy and lack of musicianship coming right out of the video, can't you? No wonder these guys had such an impact.

A glimpse of the future

I've been catching up on some favorite blogs (This is a whole other post - if you're not using an RSS reader to pull down some of the fantastic goodness available in the blogosphere, you really should be. Go get yourself a free Bloglines or NewsGator subscription and get with it already!), and ran across a great post on Brad Feld's blog.

Brad, in case you didn't know, is an uber-successful tech VC who, due to his no kids and extremely understanding wife, has the time, background, curiosity, and access to play with all the new toys. He's also a great spotter of useful, practical stuff, and is quick to call B.S. on overhyped junk.

With all that introduction, here's the gist of the post: A few of Brad's friends and frat brothers (MIT, I believe) are hard at work on the next generation of computer user interface (UI), which will replace the current keyboard and mouse (also known as WIMP - Window, Icon, Menu, Pointing device).

Start thinking about using gestures, hand movements, and speech to navigate through information. Done well, this will be MUCH more intuitive and easy-to-learn than the current paradigm. We take it for granted, and kids pick it up easily, but when you think about it a bit, keyboard and mouse? How much sense does that make?

Go read the whole thing!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tales From the Dark Side: You gotta know when to fold 'em

All season, I've taken the stance the Cowboys suck until they prove otherwise. I've asked them to play well against a good team, to beat someone then call me.

There are probably about half a million excuses the Colts could use, but the fact remains, the Cowboys beat one of the best teams in the NFL, the best if record means anything in this insane league.

So, it's time for me to shut the hell up.

And so I shall.

But, don't you about half-expect the Cowboys to lose to Tampa Bay now?

OK, OK, I'm leaving.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Hamas gov't to resign in favor of a unity coalition?

Here's some surprising (to me, anyway) news from Vital Perspective: The Hamas-led government of the Palestinian Authority plans to resign in the next few days in favor of a unity coalition with Fatah. This is an effort to lift a crippling Western embargo and restart talks with the Israelis.

If true, this is the first good news out of the Palestinian Territories in as long as I can remember.

Global Orgasm for Peace

Be sure to get you some on December 22, when an event called Global Orgasm tries to change the Earth's magnetic field or The Force or somesuch with waves of positive, orgasm-induced energy.

BTW, the comments at the bottom of the linked post are better than the story itself.

These Colts are NOT from Baltimore

Gil LeBreton of the Startlegram, who, once upon a time, covered the Baltimore NFL franchise for the Baltimore Sun, makes the point that those guys in the blue-and-white unis who will be visiting the Partially Domed Rathole on 114 this weekend are NOT the Baltimore Colts.

And he makes his point rather resoundingly.

Football Friday - You should be dancin', YEAH! edition

Friday again, in a week where I picked a fight with Sports Bob over the gayness of "Dancing With the Stars" (my vote: NOT GAY). What better way to celebrate than to quote Bee Gees lyrics until my voice goes up three octaves? That, and pick some football games.

I've heard through the grapevine that some of you out there scoff at my prognosticating abilities. Well, I've got news for you, dude. I scoff at them too. Anyone using this silly little blog to check their picks before calling their bookie gets what's coming to them.

So with that bit of self-deprecation behind us, let's get to it:


Oklahoma St (+6) @ Texas Tech - Graham Harrell may rewrite the Tech record book before he's done, and that's saying something. However, I think the Cowboys don't really need six points here. Gimme Okie St to cover. By the way, I heard they're giving away Mike Leach-autograph-model plastic swords and eyepatches at this one. Hope it's true. Argh, matey.

Arkansas @ Mississippi St (+14.5) - Them Root-Hogs have come out of nowhere. What's up with that? I have no explanation. Regardless, it's liable to get messy in Starkville. I'm not ready to get up on my desk and start Callin' the Hawgs, but I'll lay down those 14 and a half.

Auburn @ Alabama (+3) - YEAH, baby! This one is always Redneck Game of the Week. Hell, this is Redneck Game of the Year, the Original Redneck Game. Yeeee-haaaaa!! This game has it all - Big Southern Dummies wherever you look, a parking lot paved with crushed-out Winstons and cans of Coors, and a who's-who of recessive gene disorders. Expect a whole lotta Lynryd Skynyrd rattling out of blown dashboard speakers and lots of muffin-tops hanging over polyester shorts. And expect Auburn to win by 7.

Michigan (+7) @ Ohio State - Why am I not psyched more for this game? Is it because I think Ohio State is going to kill the Wolverines? That's part of it. This is a classic matchup, it's #1 vs #2 for the second time this year, it's Nov football in the Midwest. What's not to like? And yet, my interest level is running on fumes. Maybe it's me...

Tennessee @ Vanderbilt (+7.5) - The Volunteers are my Disappointing Team of the Year, and I want Phil Fulmer's melon on a spike, dammit! Well, screw 'em. Give me Vanderbilt to cover, even though every time I hear "Vanderbilt", I always think of the nearsighted bugler on "F-Troop".

Virginia Tech @ Wake Forest (pick) - How the mighty have fallen. I'd take the Hokies for sentimental reasons only.

We're debuting a new feature here on CIT: The Overly Dramatic Pick of the Week. Here goes:

Oklahoma @ Baylor (+20.5) - Last year, I thought Baylor had found the secret. This year, they've lost it again. The Sooners are the best team in the Big 12 right now. I think the Brazos runs red with Baptist blood.

Pretty dramatic, huh?

Boston University vs. Deval Patrick - the new governor of Mass is probably a great guy, and may wind up being great for the state, but he looks a bit, and sounds a lot, like Mike Tyson.


Pats @ Green Bay (+6) - What in the Holy Name of God is going on with the Pats? They lose to the friggin' Jets? They sign 87-year-old Vinny Testaverde. It's looking like full-on collapse from here. Well, if you're fighting a collapse, Green Bay is probably the place to do it. At least, I hope so. I'm going with my heart, not my head here. Give me the (gulp) Pats.

Atlanta (+4) @ Baltimore - Ray Lewis had surgery on his back, but isn't definitively out for this one. That guy is nuts. I would have thought the Ravens would clean Atlanta's clock, but they BARELY beat the ridiculous little Titans last week, so I dunno. Give me the Ravens, but I ain't putting the mortgage payment on this one.

Titans (+13) @ Eagles - Another example of why betting on the NFL will kill you young. The Eagles are so schizo - no wonder their fans are such a-holes. They've all been driven completely nuts by their psychotic team. Oh, crap. Give me Vince Young to cover at least.

Giants (+3) @ Jacksonville - I guess I'm an idiot, but this looks like the biggest no-brainer of the week. You're going to give me the Giants, on Monday night, AND 3? I'll take it.

Colts @ Cowboys (+2) - WHHHAAAAAATTT? The Cowboys are getting 2? They need 22. Why does everyone think the Cowboys can hang with the Colts? They can't. Yes, that's right. I said: They CAN'T! Some people are comparing Romo to Peyton - seriously, I'm not making this up. What the hell have these people been watching? Or smoking? It's gonna be a GREAT week on the Dark Side. Please stop by on Monday to see how much fun we're having.

Comedic Value Game of the Week: Detroit @ Arizona - Why, oh why, do they do this to us every stinking week? Why must they schedule games so rancid, so awful, that they make us long for pre-season college basketball? Good God, I'd rather watch TENNIS than this swill.

Go (insert your team here)!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Emmitt Smith: Another championship

All-time NFL rushing champion, Super Bowl MVP, and certain future Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith padded the old resume last night with a championship in ABC's "Dancing With The Stars".

I didn't watch much of this competition, even though Robynne and Aly were glued to it. Both of them (and, naturally, all of Dallas) were passionate E. Smith backers. And why not? What's not to like about this guy?

That's what I'd like to talk about this morning: Emmitt Smith - the every-day guy who can do anything.

E. Smith's success (heck, dominance) as an NFL running back is difficult to explain. He's too small, too slow, not quick enough, etc to be a great NFL back. Obviously, none of that mattered much to him. E. Smith became the dominant player he was by sheer will and effort. He worked his ass off, and, just as importantly, he worked smart. He listened to his coaches, he leveraged the talent around him, and he quietly inspired his teammates to excel.

His win in the big dance contest (which was, surprisingly to me, nowhere near as gay as I expected, maybe because of E. Smith's presence) can be attributed to the exact same characteristics. He listened to his professional dancer partner (HOT, btw), leveraged her talent, and brought out the best in her as she brought out the best in him.

Through it all, he was as classy as you could want. He never became cocky, always deflected credit to his partner, and, nearly immediately after being announced the champion, gave credit to his opponent, even though he probably wanted to (and would have been cheered for doing it) crush Mario (My Dimples Actually Penetrate My Tiny Brain) Lopez like the obnoxious little weasel he is.

The thing I keep coming back to, both in this competition and when looking back over E. Smith's NFL career, is competitiveness. E. Smith, like his Cowboy teammates Mike Irvin and Troy Aikman, wants to win everything he gets involved in. Losing is the most distasteful thing in the world to these guys. The stories about Irvin are nearly urban legend, how, even in silly little charity flag-football games, he gets a look in his eye that's not human. E. Smith is, I suspect, the same way. I don't know how admirable a quality this is - being competitive, disliking losing, wanting to win; those are admirable. Being consumed by it; maybe not. Regardless, it's part of what gives E. Smith his edge, and it's a useful lesson in how it's all a competition, whether that means you against another human, yourself, the environment, or whatever.

What's not to like about this guy? This is the secret to his success, and probably the secret to the success of the show. This is a guy you can talk about with your kids, pull out bits of how he handles himself as examples of how to do it correctly. The kids are already into the show, and it's easy to point out some of the attributes you'd like for them to emulate - "Notice how he gives his partner credit", "See how hard they're working", "He's not naturally all that good at this, but he's making himself better through hard work, practice, and listening to his teacher", "Did you notice how much fun he's having, and how the judges keep commenting on it" - all kinds of great lessons.

Thanks, E. Smith, for being a class act, for helping me teach my kids a few important lessons in a fun way, and for providing us with more entertainment in an unexpected venue. Enjoy winning (again), and I hope the endorsement deals pile up in front of your house like the autumn leaves.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Do your homework

Stephen Colbert recently interviewed Rep Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), sponsor of a bill to display the Ten Commandments in Congress.

Colbert asks Westmoreland to list the Ten Commandments. Hilarity ensues.

And, as long as we're doing Stephen Colbert, here's a great bit on Presidential fart jokes, creative humidors, "nuclear" fallout, and Osama's lustful longings.

OJ is back, and creepier than ever

Be sure to tune into Fox right after Thanksgiving for a two-parter featuring OJ Simpson describing how he might have killed Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, "if I did it."

I'll say this for Fox, it's not every day you get to see a successful double-murderer describe, in what is certain to be graphic detail (it's Fox, and it's sweeps), how he ended the lives of two fellow humans.

I find this so revolting, I don't have the words to describe my reaction. Perhaps a bank of high-voltage stage lights will crush and electrocute Simpson live and on the air, and justice will finally be served.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A U2 moment I should have seen

About a year ago, when U2 rolled through Dallas on the Vertigo tour, Robynne and I passed up the opportunity to go see them. Of course, I am kicking myself to this day for that idiot decision. One of MANY MANY reasons I wish I had been there was this dude's adventure during "Angel of Harlem."

Here's the video, at least:

The problem with "Lost"

As mentioned here a few weeks ago, "Lost" is beginning to lose it's luster for me. The reason, according to Adam Sternbergh in New York magazine, is the producers aren't allowed to end the show. He argues "Lost", and other serialized shows, would do better in a new format, somewhere between mini-series and full-blown, multi-season series.

I tend to agree.

H. Ross Perot, up close and personal

Our pal Keith had dinner with Ross Perot the other day. Like any good blogger would, he immediately sat down in front of the keyboard to share the experience. Go check it out - it's a great story.

Perot comes off very well. You should note the entire thing is made possible by Perot's hosting an engagement party for his grandkids' nanny. Think many household employers give up a Saturday night for that?

A sad note

A friend of mine passed away yesterday, and it's top of mind with me today. I'm sure there will be all sorts of nice things said and written about him in coming days, and I'd like to get some thoughts of my own down as well.

I worked with Adrian Soyza in a couple of places over the years. He was about the fourth person I met when I went to work for Immedient, then he came back to join us at INS a few years later. Over that time, I had the opportunity to work with Adrian on a few projects and several sales pursuits.

Adrian and I often had differences of opinions, but one of the things you could always count on from Adrian was that he would have an opinion. He was as knowledgeable about technology as any non-techie you might run across, and saw the big picture very clearly. His greatest strength was his ability to share that big picture with others, to draw simple pictures and explain in clear and easy-to-understand phrases how selected bits and pieces of technology could be woven together to solve problems.

One of the formative learning experiences in my consulting life occurred on a project Adrian and I did together. Our prospective client was an enormous, international marketing company. Their problem was they were getting killed on delivery of their programs, due to their inability to accurately forecast and difficulties managing the on-time delivery of the program.

Adrian helped me quickly see the causes of the client's problems, and, under his leadership, we were able to quickly weave together a potential solution. Then, it was time to present this proposed solution. Adrian insisted that I do the initial presentation. He drilled me mercilessly, which I didn't enjoy at all and resisted pretty actively. I then went out and proceeded to blow the presentation big time.

Instead of totally thrashing me, which he had every right to do, Adrian was very calm, was careful not to destroy what little of my self-worth was left, and we worked out how we were going to pull it out of the ditch. We agreed that he would do the second (and more important) presentation, while I drove the demo. We went in to the second session, and he absolutely kicked ass. He did far more than pull it out of the ditch, he won us the initial business.

What I learned in that rather humbling experience was that you have to talk to the audience in terms they understand, and make your presentation relevant for them. Adrian was a master at this.

Adrian, with his silly little, over-trimmed beard and goofy Brit accent, will be missed. I'm very glad I had the opportunity to learn from him in the time we knew each other.