Monday, February 27, 2006

A favorite blog closing up shop

Tony Daniel has decided to take a sabbatical from "Central Sprawl", which has me very depressed today.

Tony is wired in to events in Collin County and writes with a wonderful dry wit. I've been entertained and informed by both his blog and his periodic appearances in the Metro section of the Dallas Morning News for quite a while.

I wish him much success with his book, and hope like heck he rejoins the blogosphere prontissimo!

A geek visits Delta Force

Mark Schneider's blog is a must-read for me, as he is an authoritative voice on Microsoft Project Server, a product near and dear to my professional heart.

Today's post, however, is a departure for Mark. He recently had an opportunity to work on a Microsoft project at Special Operations Command. SOCOM, as it's called, is the combined command center for America's most-elite-of-the-elite Special Forces, including the Army's Green Berets and Delta Force, the Navy SEALS, Air Force Special Operations, and other units you may or may have heard about.

Mark was impressed with the hospitality of the men and women of SOCOM and makes a profound observation, "I guess that you don't have to act tough when you really are tough."

He also had the opportunity to thank the folks at SOCOM for their efforts in keeping us safe.

I'd like to have the opportunity myself someday.

Best Mardi Gras advice ever

No commentary from me is really necessary, is it?

What really happened in Iraq last week

Mohammed at Iraq The Model has a VERY interesting post today regarding the events of late last week in Iraq.

Of course, you know that someone blew up one of the most sacred sites in Shia Islam. The Western press nearly wet themselves proclaiming "CIVIL WAR IS HERE!!"

Now, less than a week later, things are quieting down. The Iraqi Army apparently has performed well, and the Iraqi government has continued to function.

Mohammed informs us that things were not quite as they appeared - "spontaneous" street demonstrations were not so spontaneous, the Muslim clerics who seemed to be keeping the lid on things may have been the very parties that were encouraging the situation to blow, and the elected authorities may have handled things better than anyone expected or is willing to say now.

Go read this post. And keep in mind that Mohammed and his brother Omar have been blogging from Iraq for a long time, are credible, and understand the impact of their words.

More proof that Mark Cuban is a genius

Cuban has offered a million dollars to Howie Mandel's favorite charity if he can get Donald Trump to do the old blow-up-the-rubber-glove-on-your-head bit when Trump is on Mandel's show later this week.

How many times have you uttered the phrase, "I'll give you a million dollars if you do X"? All the time when you were a kid, right?

Cuban has the million dollars and he's serious about this offer. There is NO CHANCE Trump would ever do it, but I love that Cuban is willing to try.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Can't wait for the movie

Some gutsy bank robbers in England have stolen $40 million plus from a cash processing facility in Kent. They used a kidnapping ploy straight out of Hollywood to pull it off.

It will be interesting to see if the authorities can get a bead on these guys. It sounds like they knew what they were doing, but the coppers are no dummies either.

If the baddies do get nabbed, look for a major book deal and subsequent movie deal to follow.

Meet the Marimba Ponies

From Beware of the Blog: The Marimba Ponies are a loosely-organized group of kids aged 4 to 12 who perform without sheet music or a conductor. You can download their version of "Sabre Dance" from the site.

For my money, the amount of fun kids have is usually inversely proportional to the number of adults involved. The fewer grown-ups around, the more fun the kids seem to have.

Iraq - good, bad, somewhere in-between?

I keep seeing articles like this one from servicemen and women back from Iraq. The picture a lot of them paint of the situation on the ground there differs pretty sharply from that presented on the front page of the Dallas Morning News or USA Today.

What is the honest-to-God truth? I suspect it's somewhere in between, but it's hard to argue with the folks who are there, on the ground, living it on a daily basis.

Indiana Jones 4 is no mirage

According to Ain't It Cool, Steven Spielberg has FINALLY said, in public, that he's making "Indiana Jones 4" this year, with a release scheduled next year.

I will be first in line!

You REALLY should use a hands-free when driving

A Kentucky woman recently ran her SUV off the road while talking on her cell phone. After the paramedics cut her out of the vehicle, they found her severed arm nearby, still clutching the phone.

Folks, use your hands-free when driving!

Yeah, but the team still sucks

The Arizona Cardinals are about to open their new palace of a stadium in Glendale AZ. I've been by it on highway 101 and it is truly a behemoth. It's also, apparently, a marvel of technology inside.

Wonderful. The 10,000 suckers who buy tickets will be able to order concessions from their seats and participate in fantasy football during the games. The gizmos enabled by the huge IP network being installed may even be sufficient to distract the fans from the miserable product on the field.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Look out, AL East - Keith Foulke says he's back

According to Joy of Sox, Keith Foulke is a new man in both body and mind. This can only be good news for the Red Sox, and bad news from the rest of the AL East.

How the Red Sox emerge from this winter of discontent is one of the most intriguing stories of the upcoming season.

Today is the unofficial reporting date for big leaguers. We're almost there!

Gay or not gay - the authoritative list

For fans of Bob and Dan's "Gay or Not Gay" feature, or the occasional anonymous commenter on this blog, here's the most authoritative list I've ever seen of what's gay and what's truly manly.

Feel free to flame me, but sign your name to the comment. As we've said before, anonymous comments are gay.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Macintosh trojan now making the rounds

Attention, smug Macintosh owners who think they are immune from viruses and other malware: It's time to invest in some anti-virus software.

The Oompa-Loompa trojan doesn't sound too dangerous on its own, but it does represent the first iteration of some potentially bad stuff for Macs. You're no longer invulnerable, folks.

UPDATE: Leander Kahney from Wired says this is a bunch of garbage - that it's only news because of it's novelty. Well, no kidding. However, note the word "iteration" above. It's been proven that it can be done. Can the bad guys be too terribly far behind?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Maybe not the "next U2" after all

According to "People" magazine (ok, so maybe it's not the MOST reputable source of info around, but let's face it, who is?), Chris Martin has started dropping hints that Coldplay is breaking up.

Didn't we hear story after story about how these guys wanted to inherit the mantle from U2? Dudes, you gotta put out more than 3 albums (only one of which was really great - the other two are merely good) if that's your goal.

Hopefully, this is a red herring, as I am a fan of those boys.

The figure skaters you don't see on NBC

Stolen shamelessly from Bag of Nothing: Just in case you thought pairs figure skating was easy...

Hope you already got your Houston 1836 t-shirts

Houston's Major League Soccer team is in the process of changing it's name for the second time in a month.

After relocating from San Jose, CA (where they were known as the "Earthquakes") about four weeks ago, the team announced that they would be known as "Houston 1836". This was supposed to represent the year Houston was founded and, thus, foster all sorts of civic pride. However, the Houston Hispanic population views 1836 as a less-than-banner year, as it was the year the siege of the Alamo (a military victory for Mexico, but a PR debacle of monumental proportions) occurred, The Battle of San Jacinto has fought and lost by the Mexican Army (Sam Houston and the Texas militia surprised and routed Santa Anna's forces during siesta), and Texas achieved independence. Not much to be proud of.

Word is the team's new name will be something like "Lone Star", "Apollo", or "Mustangs".

DLP HD Projectors coming WAY down in price

This is such WONDERFUL news: The Toshiba MT700 projector, with native 720p resolution, has dropped from over $4,000 to under $2,500.

While I'm not all that interested in a 720p projector (why wouldn't you hold out for at least 1080i?), the trend is great news.

Once my media room is done, you can just send my meals up there, since I won't be coming out.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cartoon jihad - Israeli response isn't what you'd expect

You gotta love the Israelis. How do they respond to the Iranians publishing some truly offensive Holocaust cartoons? Do they burn down Persian rug stores? Riot in the streets? Heck no!

They put on their own anti-Semitic cartoon contest.

Says Amitai Sandy, the founder of the contest, "We’ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published! No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!”

How novel

Pitchers and catchers - THIS is the most wonderful time of the year

Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training tomorrow. As I've said several times, this is the most exciting spring in Texas Rangers' history. And here I am, less than 10 miles down the road from Surprise.


Human garbage pleads for life

Joseph Smith, the piece of human trash who raped and killed 11-year-old Carlie Brucia two years ago, has pleaded with the judge to give him life in prison without the possibility of parole, rather than the death penalty.

Smith blames drugs for the horrific kidnapping and killing of young Carlie.

My own views on the death penalty have changed over time. I'm much less of a proponent than I used to be and, in this case, I think I'd vote for the life with no parole sentence.

For me, it comes down to "what makes the cretin suffer more", and in Smith's case, I think prison would be most unpleasant. I've heard that ODCs (Ordinary Decent Criminals - not my acronym) are not fond of child molesters, and would go out of their way to make Smith's existence a living hell.

I'm all for that.

UPDATE: Oh, darn. He got sentenced to death. It's probably the easy way out. Except his got some 'splainin to do on the Other Side, doesn't he?

Iranian Jews protest anti-Semitic cartoons

The BBC reports that the small Iranian Jewish community has officially protested the recent publication of anti-Semitic cartoons in Iranian newspapers.

Pretty ballsy, considering I didn't even know there was an Iranian Jewish community.

DRM update: HBO redefines "fair"

From Boing Boing today: HBO has taken a hard line against recording and replay of their shows. The word is that HBO wants to enforce a policy of "Copy Never" upon their subscribers.

I'm sure they're thinking about Comcast's On-Demand service, which allows you to watch HBO shows whenever you want (as long as you're a subscriber). If you asked an HBO lawyer, they'd probably say something like, "Why do you need to record something you can watch on demand already."

In practical terms, I can see their point. For me, personally, On-Demand is good enough. I just don't like the precedent. When do I actually "own" content? When can I watch something I've paid for on any device I want, at any time I want? The line is getting fuzzier, not clearer.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Top 5 Hottest Women in a Particular Film - The Single Movie Miracle

We did Top 5 Hottest Women of All Time recently, and I got some good feedback on it. Also, surprisingly, my wife didn’t chew me out for it.

So, since there seems to be interest from some quarters, and disinterest from others, let’s continue in that vein.

There’s a phenomenon out there that I think we’ve all noticed, and it can’t be ignored. This phenomenon is known as the Single-Movie Miracle. The Single-Movie Miracle occurs when a woman who is usually not-that-great to semi-hot looks so fabulous in one movie that you have to sit up and take notice.

A good example of the Single-Movie Miracle is Kate Winslet in Titanic. Normally, Kate Winslet is a not-so-great. But she was smoking hot in Titanic, and not just the nude scenes either. She looked great throughout.

I’m sure it’s a combination of director, cinematographer, wardrobe supervisor, and make-up supervisor (and, of course, the actress herself) that results in the Single-Movie Miracle. There really should be an Oscar in this category; it could be given to all involved collectively, sort of like Best Picture.

Whatever. On with the list (and, yes, I cheated again):

5. (tie) Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca
The triumph of black and white film and exquisite lighting. You can understand why Rick would throw it all away for her, and you realize the sacrifice he makes by sending her w/ Lazlo. Bergman was the perfect woman for the best film ever made.

5. (tie) Ashley Judd in Heat (and, I’ve heard, A Time to Kill, which I didn’t see)
Oh, what might have been. Ashley Judd was at the height of her hotness in Heat. If only she’d made some better career choices since then. Ah well. Again, it was easy to see how much Chris (Val Kilmer) was giving up when he turned his back.

4. Salma Hayek in Desperado
Sort of a silly film, but my God. Carolina is the embodiment of Latina hotness. Talk about the best thing going in a crappy, one-horse border town. I’d have braved the gauntlet of Bucho’s men as well.

3. Sophie Marceau in Braveheart
It was amazing how good the Princess Isabella looked in an age when no one bathed. Well, William Wallace probably didn’t look much like Mel Gibson either. Who cares. Maybe the best-looking couple ever on screen (not mere hyperbole – I mean, look at them).

2. Jennifer Garner in Elektra
If you’re into the kind of chick who can kick you’re a**, this is the movie and the actress for you. I have no idea what the plot of this bowser was about, and I don’t care. Jennifer Garner should hire the cinematographer from this film to do her home movies. She’s pure greatness on her own, but she is lit and photographed so well in Elektra that I’m willing to fight through a completely nonsensical plot and all kinds of ridiculous special effects just to look at her for 90 minutes.

1. Diane Lane in Unfaithful
I have been a Diane Lane fan since she was 19 years old and co-starring in Streets of Fire (10 bonus points if you can name anyone else in that one, but it’s better than you may remember). Through Lonesome Dove, Judge Dredd (oh dear), and The Perfect Storm, I always thought she was WONDERFUL. But she topped herself in Unfaithful. Forget that the plot is truly disturbing for any married guy (I mean, she goes from her seeming idyllic marriage to Richard Gere for God’s sake, to the arms of Olivier Martinez in no time and for no apparent reason, but she sells it). Forget that the last quarter of the film doesn’t live up to the rest of it. Forget it all. Just remember those smoking hot sex scenes. Remember Diane Lane completely believable as a woman besotted with passion. And remember the single greatest example of the Single-Movie Miracle. Zowie.

Why emoticons are the greatest invention in the history of email

In case you didn't already know, email is a VERY imperfect medium for communication. I didn't realize just how bad it is until I read this piece from Wired.

Use those emoticons, kiddies. Annoying as they may be, they do help you convey your message a little more clearly.

Or, better yet, pick up the telephone.

Batman vs. al Qaida

From Michelle Malkin: In his latest graphic novel, Batman writer Frank Miller has the Dark Knight kicking al Qaida's butt. It's not politically correct, but I think I'll be purchasing my first graphic novel.

This is NOT what Gorbachev and Yeltsin had in mind

In today's Washington Post - a Siberian working man gets sent to prison for getting hit by the regional governor's car. The story is right out of the bad old days in the Soviet Union. Check the estimated speed of the governor's car - somewhere between 90 and 125 mph.

And yet, somehow it's the poor slob who happened to be in the way's fault.

The more things change in Russia, the more they stay the same.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Winter Olympics: To stop down or not to stop down

My virtual friends Bob and Dan had a long conversation on their show yesterday regarding their (and America's) interest in the Winter Olympics. Their discussion, conclusions, and theories struck a chord with me.

The discussion revolved around the Winter Olympics' status as a sports-viewing choice. As kids, Bob and Dan (and me, too) remember putting aside all other sporting events to watch the Olympics each night. Back in the pre-cable, three-networks day, the Winter Olympics (and the Summer Games, as well) were required viewing for everyone. The other two networks usually curled up into a little ball for those two weeks and presented reruns, knowing they had no chance against the ratings juggernaut that was the Olympic Games.

Now, not so much. Bob and Dan both commented on the fact that they were far less interested than they used to be. They concluded, and I agree, the Olympics have lost their mystique and are now sort of run-of-the-mill sports TV, not worthy of a complete stop-down.

The theories as to why were especially interesting to me. Bob and Dan seemed to agree on three primary reasons:

1. Sports clutter
If you remember the 70's, you'll probably also remember the lack of sports programming during prime-time. Sports was a weekend thing with very few exceptions. It was rare to be able to tune in a national game of any consequence on television on a random Tuesday night. The Olympics were the big exception - you had two weeks of non-stop prime-time sports coverage and, thus, it was a vacation for the sports fan.

No longer. Now, the nights without a game of some interest to just about anyone is a rarity. The Olympics are just another choice. Even though the NHL is taking the two weeks (or most of it) off, the NBA, college basketball, a full slate of ESPN and Fox Sports programming continue.

2. The disintegration of the Soviet bloc
The Olympics used to be a relatively safe venue for the Cold War to heat up. The Soviets, East Germans, Romanians, Czechs, and other Communist bloc countries always fielded huge, skilled, and highly trained teams in both the Summer and Winter Games. Gymnastics, hockey, swimming, figure skating, basketball, and other sports were always tremendous competition between the good guys (the US) and the bad guys (the commies). National pride was always at stake, with the biggest and best example being the hockey and basketball tournaments.

Now, the bad guys are a lot harder to find. We hate Iran (I guess - they're making it easy to hate them lately), but it's politically incorrect to get too worked up about them. And, maybe more to the point, Iran is not much of threat in the Alpine Skiing events, or any other events that Americans give a hoot about.

The Chinese are a more formidable opponent during the Summer Games, but are they really the "bad guys"? Certainly not in the sense that the Soviets were. Our relationship with the Chinese is confusing, and sports is no place for confusion. We need a clear good guy/bad guy confrontation, like Red Sox-Yankees. EVERYONE has a clear rooting interest in those contests. There's nothing like that on the Olympic stage any more.

3. The pros dominate
Even the "amateurs" are professional these days, and in the marquee team sports (hockey and basketball), it's become a twist on the NHL All-Star format. The days of hungry college kids getting worked into the ground by a Herb Brooks are long gone, and so are the inspirational stories that went with those hungry college kids. The Games are much more bland and less exciting as a result.

I agree with all of these theories.

I'm trying to get my kids into the Olympics, with some success so far. Colorful characters like Bode Miller and Hermann Maier help a lot, as do some unique events like luge and skeleton. The kids seem semi-interested in those things.

But it's not the same. The Olympics represent some cherished memories from my childhood. I don't think it's going to be the same for my kids.

And that's too bad.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Honda to produce a fuel cell car

This is GREAT news, and the kind of news we should (and will) see more of in the near future. While fuel cells, right now, are not a huge saver, dollar-wise, they will become more so. And they'll help us break our sick addiction to Middle East oil.

Bring it on, baby!

Lost – Best. Show. Ever.

Of course, I spent an hour last night with the latest episode of Lost. The interlude of relative peace and quiet on the show is over. Oh, sure, Charlie flipped last week, and Michael went Rambo recently. The encounter with “Zeke the Fisherman” and the Others was good and tense, but all-in-all, it’s been pretty lovey-dovey on Mystery Island since Shannon got ventilated.

No more, man. It’s back to the good old, paranoid days of the first season. Who do you trust? Jack, and… who? I think Sun and Jin are on the up and up, and Hurley probably is too. Sayid is probably a mensch (it would be too controversial to have the token Arab be a baddie), but there is NO telling with ANYONE else.

Next week’s show looks to be high-powered. If I saw the preview correctly, the Losties capture one of the Others and Sayid goes to work on him. Jack and Locke (who I really WANT to believe is on the side of the angels, but I can’t quite pull it off) finally let the clock run down to zero and we get to see what happens. HOLY SMOKES, I can’t wait for next Wednesday.

Lost is easily the best show in the history of TV, at least in my book. You can have your Sopranos and your 24. I’ll take the castaways of Oceanic 815 any day.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Mark Cuban is a nut, but he's our nut

Mark Cuban, billionaire and owner of the little Mavericks, is a nut job. No question about it. And a lot of people can't stand him because of it. I, and most Maverick fans, however, love him.

Love him or hate him, you have to admit that he is a refreshing change from the typical button-down sports owner. The dude wants to win, which is more than we can say for the guy who owns 50% of the major sports teams in D/FW (Big Dumb Tom Hicks, in case you didn't get the subtle hint).

In addition to his commitment to winning, another endearing (or not-so-endearing, if you're in the anti-Cuban camp) Cuban personality trait is his propensity for skewering the NBA Establishment. David Stern and the refs are his favorite targets, but they're not the only ones.

Recently, Phil Jackson has found himself the object of Cuban mockery. While Big Metaphysical Phil publicly lets it roll off his back, I think it gets to him.

The latest Cuban salvo can be found on his blog, and it's a hoot. Check it out!

WHOA - Apple buying Palm? I'll take some of that, please

According to Personal Computer World, via Gizmodo, Apple could be eyeing a purchase of Palm.

This makes a lot of sense for Apple - the competition for the iPod is going to come from the next generation of smart phones. I am personally in the market for a device that combines my cell phone, my Creative Zen Xtra 30gb jukebox, and a PDA. Apple currently has nothing for the first rqmt, the best-of-breed for the second, and nothing for the third. Palm has one and three covered.

This one, I'm excited about. Stay tuned.

Scott Adams on the Cartoon Jihad

Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy) has an interesting take on the Great Danish Cartoon Jihad. All I'm going to say is, don't make a cartoonist mad.

Hamas might be "ready to talk" - Oh really?

According to the BBC, Hamas says it's willing to talk truce w/ Israel, provided the Israelis meet certain "conditions". One of these conditions is pulling back to pre-1967 borders.

Ariel Sharon was on his way to pulling back from large portions of the West Bank, but on Israel's terms, not those of Hamas.

This is the way to continue, in my opinion. Hamas is not interested in long-term peace with Israel. They state in their charter they are committed to the destruction of the Jewish state. Maybe they've changed, as they claim. But they've got to prove it first.

Until they prove they've changed, Hamas should not dictate anything to Israel. The Israelis are well along in their disengagement from the Palestinians. I say stay the course until Hamas or some other group proves they: 1) can effectively govern the Palestinian territories, 2) can prevent terrorism, and 3) are ready to seriously commit to a mutually-beneficial long-term solution.

Until then, I'm not really interested in anything the Palestinians and, especially, Hamas have to say. Hamas says they want to talk? Really? That's great. How about you call back when we can check off those three items above? In the meanwhile, the Israelis will continue to build the wall and prepare to live their lives without you. Thanks for calling.

I'm not there, and I don't know much about day-to-day life in Israel right now, but I sure do wish Sharon was healthy and running the show. He had the force of personality to continue the unilateral path he'd begun. Ehud Olmert and the rest of Israel's political leadership needs to prove they can do it too.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Top 5 Hottest Women of all Time (Photographic Evidence subcategory)

This episode of Top 5 includes those women that we’ve actually got pictures of. Therefore, Cleopatra, Delilah, Joan of Arc, Dolly Madison, etc. are not candidates, and only those around in the past 100 years or so can qualify.

Of course, I rank my super-hot wife of 14 years at the top of any list of this sort. However, I owe it to posterity to include only those women who have been seen by the public-at-large. Hopefully, this will keep me out of trouble.

With that intro done, here’s the list:

5. Marilyn Monroe
The standard by which all are judged. Some are hotter, but she is still the gold standard for real women.

4. Lynda Carter
In her Wonder Woman suit, Lynda Carter was the first woman to have an entire television show revolve around her dressed in a revealing costume. Was there any other reason for that show to exist?

3. Jessica Alba
The top three are, to me, almost interchangeable. Someone needs to talk to young Jessica about her choice in roles. She has the potential to take over number 1, if she can get a couple of Body Heat-type roles.

2. Angelina Jolie
Easily (for my money) the sexiest woman on planet Earth. She’s come back to reality after her super-whack-out marriage to Billy Bob Thornton.

1. Catherine Zeta-Jones
The classic beauty. Her appearance in Zorro was an eye-opener of the highest order. She’s done nothing but get better since. Only detracting factor is her marriage to that fossil Michael Douglas. Even that is not enough to knock her out of the top spot, though.

Honorable Mention:
Salma Hayek
Barbara Eden
Heather Locklear
Jacqueline Smith
Ziyi Zhang
Sophia Lauren

Monday, February 06, 2006

I hate the Super Bowl

This blog is called “Curmudgeon-In-Training”, but I rarely post anything at all curmudgeonish. Well, read on, ‘cause that’s about to change.

While attempting to drum up some interest in yesterday’s “big game” (Who am I kidding? I was trying drum up some paying of attention. “Interest” was out of the question from word go.), it occurred to me that I hate the Super Bowl.

Not “dislike”, nor “feel strongly negative about”, or any other less-harsh descriptor. Hate. I hate it. As in, I have “a feeling of dislike so strong that it demands action”, which is, in my case, writing this post.

To illustrate my point, here’s a brief lists of the positives and negatives of this event, strictly from my selfish and unappreciative point-of-view:

1. World (although I question this – where are the Canadians?) championship of American football.
2 The game that everyone plays the entire season to reach. The goal.
3. Um, that’s it. I got nothing.


1. So effing over-blown it makes me want to puke. Nothing on Earth, except maybe (maybe!) the arrival of the Messiah, needs a 5-hour pre-game show. There is no way the game could ever live up to the pre-sell. Even if you used Bill and Ted’s phone booth to assemble every great football player who ever lived, in his prime, and put them on the field in a true “All-Star” game, it wouldn’t live up to the hype that is the modern Super Bowl. Hell, the Civil War and WWI didn’t live up this much hype. I think the Revolution and WWII did, though. My opinion.

2. Over-commercialized to the point of being a parody of itself. I found myself reaching for the off switch right about the time Marv Albert told me that an official review of a play (Hasselbeck’s non-fumble in the 4th) was the “Barbisol Close Shave Play of the Game”. This after HOURS of assault on my resolve not to buy the ridiculous nonsense being hurled at me non-stop during the TV and radio broadcast.

3. Inanity heaped upon inanity. The halftime recap from Berman, Jackson, Irvin, and Young was the least-insightful talk about a football game I have ever heard from so-called sports broadcasting professionals. While I can no longer stomach Berman (hey, that’s pretty funny), and I think Steve Young is as bad on TV as he was good on the field, I do have high opinions of Tom Jackson and Mike Irvin as broadcasters (certainly not for Irvin as a human). I think they know what they’re talking about most of the time. You’d never know it from their comments yesterday. The reason (my opinion): They had about 10 seconds each, and they were under instructions from ABC to dumb it down for the 150 million viewers who never watch football on TV. Plus they had to shout. And it went that way all week. Men and women who know what they’re talking about and who have something to say were reduced to speaking in 15-second sound bites that conveyed no information worth knowing. What a time-waste.

4. Input on a football game from people who know nothing about football. While the true experts were being muzzled, we spent hours upon hours witnessing the equivalent of the painful “man-on-the-street” interview. It seems like the less a person knew about the match-up or the game of football itself, the more opportunities they had to speak into a microphone. Don’t let Michael Irvin tell what he knows to be true from personal experience in big games and his relationships with the players who are going to be on the field. But let’s let Ed from Watauga (who’s only at the Super Bowl because he threw a football through the Dunlop Super Tire while riding a flaming tricycle in the big contest at NTB back in August) to spout off for a minute and a half on how Troy Polamalu’s speed allows the Pittsburgh defense to disguise both blitzes and coverages. Hey Ed, while you’re up there, what do you forsee in Israel now that Hamas has won the elections and Ariel Sharon is getting his falafel through a tube?

5. Sponsors, spokespeople, and general hangers-on are self-congratulatory to a stomach-emptying extreme. Highly paid senior executives of enormous corporations are the only ones able to buy their way into this party, then they spend the entire week congratulating each other and themselves for being able to be there. By virtue of the fact that they can buy their way in, they get the privilege of spouting off their uninformed opinions and unfunny schtick to an audience which is encouraged to think of these wankers as knowledgeable and interesting because they are in a position to buy their way into the party in the first place! Who are these people and why should I listen to them about ANYTHING?

6. The stench of greed (or, at the very least, the appearance of greed) rubs off on everyone associated with the thing. Remember when the Rolling Stones were young, angry, and anti-Establishment? Neither do I. Those days are so far behind Mick and the boys that it’s hard to believe they were once viewed as “dangerous”. Why were they there last night? To reach a bigger audience? For the exposure? Hell no. They got money-whipped. And just think for a second about how much money it takes to money-whip the Rolling Stones. Then multiply that by the number of people, organizations, groups, etc who sell their name, talent, message, etc to “the cause” (ABC, the NFL, and whoever else made money on that freak show). What’s the word I’m looking for here? Oh, yeah. Prostitution.

Yes, I know that this is the ultimate expression of “free enterprise”, and, given that, you would expect me to be a supporter of it. Let there be no mistake, I am a fan of free enterprise and heartily oppose most, if not all, attempts to curb it. But the Super Bowl represents the extreme end of free enterprise. And like extremism of all stripes (religious, political, musical, etc), extreme free enterprise is, to me, something that is very difficult to like or support.

So, what’s to be done? Am I calling for a boycott of the NFL? No. A consumer strike against Super Bowl advertising? Absolutely not. Storming ABC headquarters like it was the Bastille, and beheading Chris Berman? Well, maybe the last part.

No, there’s no call to action here. I don’t expect anyone to take action on my opinion on a subject that, in truth, means so little in the scheme of things. I don’t even expect you to agree with me. The Super Bowl is the annually the highest rated telecast on TV (by a WIDE margin, too) for a reason. Most of you out there seem to like it just fine as is.

All I wanted to do in this post was vent a bit (mission accomplished), and give the NFL and the networks notice that they are losing me. I know they don’t care, why would they? But, maybe, I’m not the only one…

Cartoons from the Arab World

Just in case you were wondering what "acceptable" political cartoons look like in Arab media, here are a bunch of 'em from various sources.

The examples on the page linked above are apparently very typical. All of them are offensive as hell, to Jews and Americans. And no one burns any buildings or shoots anyone when they are printed.


Headlines that say it all

"Iran new focus of caricature protests" and "Cartoon fury".

I repeat, what is wrong with these people?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Borat hits the big screen

I didn't even know this was in the works, but, according to Moriarty from Ain't It Cool News, Sacha Baron Cohen has brought Borat to the big screen. And, according to the review posted on AICN, it's a scream.

I can't wait!

Hamas is elected, students of history know what to expect now

I have avoided posting anything on events in the recent Palestinian elections for a simple reason: I just didn't have the words to adequately describe my dismay at the results and my fears for what the future will hold.

Richard Cohen's column in today's Dallas Morning News (and the WaPo, and probably all over the place) sums up my feelings pretty well. Hamas, he reminds us, has clearly and distinctly called for the destruction of Israel. So, now that they are going to be governing the Palestinian territories, we're supposed to forget about that?

Cohen goes on to draw parallels between the Weimar government of Germany in the late 1920's and early 1930's and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. In both cases, corruption and lawlessness were rampant, and civil society was breaking down. In this environment, in both cases, a radical, ultra-conservative party, who had previously and publicly stated some rather extreme goals (anyone out there read Mein Kampf?), came along, promised to pick up the trash or make the trains run on time, and won stunning victories at the polls.

Cohen takes pains not to directly compare Hamas to the Nazis, but that's because he has to. He's a national columnist who would prefer not to risk offending the sensitive in the Palestinian or larger Muslim community.

I, however, am a nobody blogger from Middle America, and am under no such restrictions, so I'll go ahead and say it: I am scared to death at what this portends for Israel and the Middle East. Jews in the Middle East today are in a MUCH better position to protect themselves than they were in Weimar Germany, but that doesn't change the fact that this is as scary a situation as has existed since the Yom Kippur War in 1974.

We have no choice but to let this play out. However, Hamas does NOT deserve the benefit of the doubt. They have to take some positive actions before I'm going to give them any rope at all. I know the Israelis are thinking the same way. I sincerely hope the Bush administration is as well. And, as for the Palestinian apologists in Europe and elsewhere: You can stick your heads in the sand all you want, but, to me, this is exactly the reason we study history.

A&M pays players? SHOCKING!!

I am shocked, shocked, to hear that Texas A&M might be paying it's football players. Good heavens. Who woulda thunk it?

Does anyone out there really believe major college football programs aren't paying their players? Every single one of them, no exception, is "cheating" in some way or another. Every single one of them could be on probation tomorrow if the NCAA wanted to dig just a little bit.

Terrence McCoy from Midland Lee was just callin' 'em like he sees 'em. I'm sure there are plenty of people around College Station suffering from severe pucker-factor until this one blows by.

Muslim outrage over cartoons grows more strident

Michelle Malkin has a thorough round-up of coverage of this truly ridiculous story.

Will someone please explain to me why this is the biggest and most critical issue in the Muslim world? Why are Muslims not protesting equally vociferously about their fascist governments, grinding poverty, crap education systems, or increasingly poor image in the rest of the world?

I am completely baffled by this.

UPDATE: These pictures speak for themselves. What is wrong with these people?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Genius office practical joke

Here's a great one from Geeding over at Bag of Nothing. So simple, yet so effective. Why don't I think of gags this great?

Sports sanity check

We've become quite tech-heavy lately here at CIT. I don't apologize for it, as tech and work stuff has been top-of-mind a lot recently. However, there is much going on in the world of ssssppppoooorrrrrtttttzzzz, and I wouldn't want to get too far away from it without commenting a bit.

In classic CIT fashion, let's scatter-shoot a bit (while wondering what ever happened to Gabe Kaplan after Kotter got cancelled), shall we?

Your Dallas Stars

Streaking up the Western Conference standings, Tippett and Co. are as hot as any team in the league. Jussi Jokinen is well on his way to being a major star, just on his shootout ability. Quietly, this team is accomplishing some things. It's hard to get really worked up about the regular season in the NHL, but the Stars are worth watching right now.

The little Mavericks

Speaking of red-hot, the Mavericks 10-game winning streak has them tied with the champs at the top of the Western Conference, and not far behind Detroit for tops in the league. The Mavs have options all over the court, real depth, and the desire to play a bit of defense. I wonder about their killer instinct, however. The NBA is the last league to permit dynasties, and teams stay together long enough to develop real personalities. Detroit and San Antonio are clearly the class of their respective conferences. I don't think the Mavs are tough enough to beat Duncan and Co. I question Dirk's grit. This year is as good a time as any to prove me wrong.

Seattle vs. Pittsburgh - The Nation Snores

I've tried hard to work up some interest in Super Bowl XL, but have yet to succeed. There are absolutely zero compelling story lines here for me.

Jerome Bettis goes home - big deal. What's so great about Jerome Bettis? Longevity? He's an OK running back, but nothing spectacular. Cowher? He would have been fired after losing to the Cowboys in the '96 Super Bowl in any other town in the NFL. Even the Sgt Slaughter jokes have worn thin with me.

On the other side of the ball, I'm a little more interested in Seattle, but not much. Holmgren looks more and more like Doc from Snow White every year. Hasselbeck could be John Malkovich's little brother. And I have a suspicion that Shaun Alexander is gay (not that there's anything wrong about that).

To me, there's a bit of interest in the battle of the Samoans (or whatever they are): Polamalu and Tatupu. I'm leaning Lofa's way for two reasons: His dad was one of my favorites on the mid-80s Pats teams of my college days, and I like guys named after bath products (bada-BING). Seriously, why don't opponents yank the sh*t out of Troy Polamalu's hair on every down? I would.

There's the usual interest in the commercials, although I've already tried the Gillette Fusion, so that mystery is over. Maybe Jessica Alba will show up in one or two - probably not, but it's something to hope for.

Even the Stones hold little interest for me. OK, they were great. Top 5 All Time, no argument at all. But they're ANCIENT. Enough already. I hope to God that U2 has more class than to flog their act until they're 60.

The one and only truly motivating factor that is compelling me to watch is ABC's HD setup. It will be bigger and better than anything ever televised. And I am SO happy w/ my HD set that I'll tune in for 5 hours of inanity just to see it crystal-clear perfection.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Blackberry patent brouhaha - Wired's take

I have been a loyal subscriber and big fan of Wired magazine and it's various Web publications for more than 10 years. I find myself agreeing with the editors and writers of Wired more often than not, and almost always find merit in their arguments. In other words, I think they're a bunch of smart people.

Robert Strohmeyer, the editor of Wired's Gear Factor blog, has posted a strongly-worded opinion piece regarding the RIM vs. NTP wireless-email-patent-encroachment imbroglio. The bottom line: Strohmeyer believes that, even though NTP has some legitimacy to it's claim, RIM should win the case. His reasoning: NTP's patents are vaguely worded descriptions of obvious services, and RIM has spent a ton of time and dough making the concept into an essential reality.

My wife holds one patent and is applying for a second, so I am extremely sensitive to the rights of patent holders. The entire idea of patent law is to protect the inventor from larger, less-scrupulous entities who would exploit the little guy's genius.

With that said, I come down on Strohmeyer's side on this one. RIM has taken a concept (wireless email) from being a really good, but unexecuted, idea and has, through the application of a lot of money, time, and effort, turned it into a critical component of modern business communication. The working end result, the Blackberry wireless communicator, represents the creative efforts of thousands of people and millions of dollars, all of which were employed well after Tom Campana (the principal of NTP) patented his vague thoughts regarding mobile text messaging.

This is, however, dangerous ground. A victory either way has serious repercussions. If RIM prevails, even though they probably should in this case, patent holders will have to reassess the value of their patents. If NTP prevails, then almost all electronics manufacturers, along with companies in many other fields, will have to pursue patent investigations with far more fervor, not to mention expense - and you know who's going to foot the bill for that, don't you? Why, you are. Thanks so much.

The whole episode has been a thought-provoker with no obvious "right" answer. I think Strohmeyer and Wired make a good case for what they think the right answer is, but there's plenty of room for argument.

Read the whole thing!