Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Interesting quote from the man who could have been President

John Kerry has put his foot in it again. Speaking at a rally for CA Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides recently, Kerry was trying to make some sort of point about the value of education. Instead:
You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and
you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do
well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.

Listen, I voted for the guy. But seriously, how politically tone-deaf do you need to be to make a comment like this, right before the stinking election?

A collection of Amazon reader comments on the classics

Via Boing Boing: Charlie Stross has sifted thru the mountains of reader comments on Amazon's listings of some classic literature, and has pulled out some truly funny/sad/scary examples of cluelessness.

According to these sudden experts, Romeo and Juliet is "sooo cliched", Robinson Crusoe is derivative, and The Grapes of Wrath has too much profanity.

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. When in doubt, I will generally default to laughing, though.

Next gen Microsoft products - the visual

Here's the packaging for Vista and Office 2007.

I have no idea why this is so fascinating to me, but it is.

Good thing I don't actually make these bets

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to go back and rehash this past week's football picks. A few weeks ago I went 5-5 and thought the world was ending. Now, I look back on those halcyon days wistfully.

Oklahoma @ Missouri - Wrong. Changing my tune on Chase Daniel.
Auburn @ Mississippi - Better. No Klan robes, at least not on TV.
Georgia vs. Florida - Florida won, which I figured, and covered, which I did not.
Texas @ Tech - 'Horns won, which I figured, but did not cover. What is up w/ the Texas defense?
A&M @ Baylor - God apparently had bigger things to worry about on Saturday. Wrong again.
Tennessee @ South Carolina - Volunteers won (and so did I), but it was closer than I expected.

Seahawks @ Chiefs - Close, but no cigar.
Baltimore @ New Orleans - Not so close, and definitely no cigar.
Pittsburgh @ Oakland - Oh dear.
Colts @ Denver - Peyton Manning is regular season genius.
Dallas @ Carolina - Help me prop up that sword so I can fall on it again.
Pats @ Minnesota - Tom Brady is still the best QB to put Drew Bledsoe on the bench.

So, let's tally it up...carry the one...divide by the square root of pi...multiply by the cube of my IQ...and we come up with 4-8.

If anyone needs me, I'll be in the back, putting on the dress blues and polishing the service revolver.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Dark Side addendum - A little Romo perspective

The game story in this morning's DMN makes an interesting point, intentionally or not:

Romo became just the 13th quarterback in team history to come away with a
victory in his first start, joining a list that includes Roger Staubach, Danny
White and even Bledsoe. Romo's 270 passing yards were fourth most by a
quarterback in his Cowboys debut, bested in a winning effort only by Gary
(343), who beat the Los Angeles Rams, 20-13, on Sept. 3, 1984.

Tales From the Dark Side: WTF?

It's a stranger-than-average Monday here on the Dark Side. I mean, it's the first business day of Standard Time, so everyone's a little messed up. But it's more than that.

Of course, I refer to last night's adventure in Charlotte, which finished up, as you know, Cowboys 35 - Pathers 14. What is a Dark Sider to make of this unexpected event? I'm still working that out for myself. Let's explore, shall we?

On one hand, Carolina played a dreadful game. They have no ability to run the ball, as was evident last night (and all season - this was not a "Doomsday III" moment). Most of the Panther offense appeared to have been greasing muffin tins at halftime, as no one could hang onto the ball in the second half. In addition, the Panthers did their best to ensure the zebras kept busy, committing idiot penalty after idiot penalty.

The Charlotte papers today are talking more about the Panthers' collapse than about a Cowboys triumph. Which is about what you'd figure, right?

But here? Here in the DFW Metroplex of Love, it's not a choke by the Panthers. Oh no. It's pretty much the arrival of The Messiah, trumpets, gleaming chariots, and peals of celestial bells included. The euphoria being expressed in the paper and on talk radio is vaguely reminiscent of VJ Day. The Pear Shaped Football Genius is, today, no longer a dour old man with anger issues; instead, he's a kindly grandfather, maybe even Santa. And Tony Romo, if not quite the Lamb of God, is at least David on the way back from that fracas with the Philistines.

This much hyperbole has got to have a ton of fat and cholesterol. There's no way it can be good for you.

So, what did we really witness last night?

This may come as a surprise to you, but I am going to give the Cowboys, esp the offensive coaching staff and most esp Tony Romo, credit for doing what I didn't think they could. They put together and, more importantly, executed a gameplan which took advantage of the talents of the team. I'm not going to compare this bunch to the Cowboys or 49ers of the 1990s, but there's no question there is some talent on the Cowboy offense. And, for the first time this year, that talent was utilized. Witten and TO Owens were MUCH more involved in the passing game than at any time in the previous six games. Terry Glenn's role, while diminished a bit, was still important. The O line, which is still terrible and looked it last night, got a break in that Romo can move a bit and, I think more importantly, gets rid of the ball in a hurry. And Julius Jones continued his very good, but strangely very quiet, year. MBIII was pretty good too.

Last night's offensive performance looked like a round peg in a round hole, for the first time this year.

The defense came up with some big plays. Some of this was the result of the Panthers' skill players' inability to hang on to the ball, but you have to give the Dallas D some credit. The Carolina offense looked bad, and you have to think the Cowboys had something to do with it.

So, what's next for the Team We Love to Scorn? With road games coming up in DC and Arizona, a 6-3 record is a distinct possibility, although both games are certainly losable. Can the Cowboys string a few good performances together? They haven't in the past few years, but anything is possible and the sheep are bleating with excitement and anticipation.

For my fellow Dark Siders, I would say continue to view this team with healthy skepticism. I still don't think the Cowboys are a very good team, and despair is always a week away. In the long term, it's really hard to believe an undrafted QB from Division 1-AA is the answer.

Until proven otherwise, I'm going to call this week an aberration. I expect a return to the cheery days of matador-style blocking, ill-timed penalties, brain-dead turnovers, and blown coverages before Thanksgiving.

Johnny Knoxville's letters to his brother

Here's a giggle for your Monday morning.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Brits warn of terrorist threat against world's largest oil port

The Brits have issued a warning to shipping in the Persian Gulf, alerting of the possiblity of a terrorist attack on Arabia’s Ras Tanura terminal, which is the world’s biggest offshore oil facility.

There are no real specifics, at least not in the MSNBC story linked above. Regardless, something like this has to be taken seriously as long as the Arabs have us completely addicted to their fossil fuel poison.

Actually, I'm sorta shocked no attacks like this have been attempted yet. I suppose the reason is a lot of the cash generated from the Arab oil industry finds its way into AQ's pockets.

Football Friday - It Is OVER edition

WHAT A WEEK! The good news is the Cowboys implosion has really just started. The finger-pointing and blame-avoidance needs a few more weeks (and a few more losses) to gather some momentum. The big TO Owens weapons-grade meltdown is always just around the corner as well. What a mess.

Well, regardless of the utter foolishness going on out at Valley Ranch, the rest of the world is still playing football. There are some big games this weekend, so let's get to it:


Oklahoma @ Missouri - The Sooners are one banged-up team. There isn't much left on the shelves and even the superior sports intellect of Coach Stoops isn't going to pull it out of the ditch this year. The Tigers are giving a point and a half, and should have no trouble covering it. Chase Daniel is worth keeping an eye on.

Auburn @ Mississippi - This would be the Redneck Game of the Week, if it weren't for that big to-do down in Jacksonville. I guess in this day and age, it's unlikely anyone attends the game in Klan robes, but it's always a possibility with a matchup like this. Mississippi gets 19, but I'd lay those points and go with the War Eagles/Tigers/whatever their mascot is.

Georgia vs. Florida in Jacksonville - The undisputed Redneck Game of the Week every year. We're not allowed to call it "The World's Largest Cocktail Party" anymore, but I always thought that was a misnomer anyway. C'mon, it's Georgia and Florida. These guys mix beer and tomato juice, not apple martinis. Florida is giving 14, which is an awful lot in a rivalry game. Florida wins the game, but I'm taking the points.

Texas @ Texas Tech - The Red Raiders get 11 here, but they are really bad this year. It's a sad state of affairs when a Mike Leach team struggles to score points. I don't think the 'Horns are an offensive juggernaut, but they should whip up on Tech. Sorry, Shane.

Texas A&M @ Baylor - As mentioned here a few weeks ago, God is not happy with the Ags over their non-conference schedule. Here's where the Almighty extracts Old Testament-style justice. Baylor may win by 50 points. I'd be on the lookout for a few lightening bolts as well.

Tennessee @ South Carolina - Which Volunteers team shows up here? I think the good one, and I think Phil's boys cover the 3.5.

Boston University vs. the ghost of Pat Mancini - The former Terrier QB actually stopped by little CIT last season and left a comment. Nice to hear from him.


Seahawks @ Chiefs - Seattle has no one healthy, and I think they're going to need most of the 6.5 they're getting. Chiefs win, but Seattle covers.

Baltimore @ New Orleans - It's a strange NFL world when the Saints are favored against the Ravens, but that's where we are. I'm trying hard to be a Saints believer, so put me down for New Orleans to cover the 2.5.

Pittsburgh @ Oakland - Big Ben or no Big Ben, 9 point favorite Pittsburgh should mop the floor with the shockingly bad Raiders.

Colts @ Denver - Indianapolis is a 2 point dog. How is a team with Jake (the Fake) Plummer favored over a team led by Peyton Manning? Give me those points.

Dallas @ Carolina - Oh. My. God. Is there a mercy rule in the NFL like in grade-school baseball? If the score is 75-0, do they make Carolina stop? We'll find out this week. Next week should be even MORE entertaining than this past week around the DFW Metroplex of Love.

New England @ Minnesota - Why is no one talking about the Pats? Maybe they'll get some pub after wiping out the Vikings on prime-time TV.

Comedic Value Game of the Week - As is often the case, we've got two to choose from. Houston @ Tennessee is not a good game, but there's some interest as the Texans get to see what they passed up in Vince Young. And don't forget Arizona @ Green Bay, which I can't even find the words to mock.

Go (insert your team here)!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Argentina charges Iran and Hezbollah in 1994 bomb attack

Argentine prosecutors have formally charged both the government of Iran and Islamic terrorist organization Hezbollah with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. The attack killed 85 and injured hundreds.

Needless to say, both Iran and Hezbollah vehemently deny any involvement.

This is an interesting one. If Argentina is successful in bringing this to trial or even, dare we hope, securing a conviction, well, we can already imagine the sort of rhetoric that will come pouring out of Teheran like so much bilge water.

Keep an eye on this story...

Your municipal tax dollars at work

Dallas city councilman Ron Price wants to make it illegal to walk around with your pants yanked down, hip-hop style, around your buttocks.

While I think it's a particularly stupid look, I don't have all that big a problem with it. Certainly not compared to Dallas' nation-leading (and not coming down) crime rate.

But that's the Dallas City Council for you. Why focus on the important stuff when there's all those headlines to go out and grab.

North Korea threatens war. Again.

Big bully North Korea has threatened war against the South, if the South Koreans join in UN sanctions aimed at punishing the North for it's recent nuclear test.

At least, I think they're threatening war.

Maybe its the translation, or maybe its Kim Jong Il's flair for the dramatic, but I really can't quite figure out what's being said here:

“South Korea’s participation in the U.S. racket to put pressure upon the
North ... is a serious provocation leading to a crisis of war on the Korean
peninsula,” the (North Korean) spokesman reportedly said.

“If South Korea joins the U.S. ploy to pressure us, we will consider it as
a declaration of a showdown and take corresponding actions,” the spokesman

What the heck is a "declaration of a showdown"? Are Kim and South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun supposed to meet at high noon on the 38th Parallel, wearing Stetsons and with six-guns strapped around their waists?

Since the NKs have successfully (sorta) tested a fission bomb, it's a bit harder to laugh at them. Kim may actually do something really stupid. When you stop and think about it, this is a really scary situation.

It's still funny to think of puffy little Kim Jong Il wearing a big old hat, though.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Choose your airlines carefully

Apparently, JetBlue (one of the low-cost airlines) set up a fake-science "experiment" to judge how pilots do when they fly more than FAA rules allow. They wired up these pilots, then had them fly in excess of government-mandated flight duration limits.

"Experiment", my sweet patootie. This was an attempt to circumvent some well-established rules in the hopes that it would generate additional profit. If they got caught (and, obviously, they did), JetBlue could point to their "experiment" and claim it was all for science.

I am SO glad I've stopped traveling!

Cowboys' Disaster - The national perspective

From Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback (an excellent read every week, if you've got like an hour to kill):

From Hero to Zero to Romo:

Sure you just gave up your body on a dramatic dive for a touchdown, but
Drew Bledsoe, what have you done for us lately? With 3:56 remaining in the
second quarter and the Cowboys at the Jersey/A goal line, Bledsoe scrambled,
dove and took hammer-hard hits as he scored the touchdown that pulled the home
team to within 12-7. The crowd cheered. Just five snaps later, with 1:38 left in
the second quarter, Dallas was again at the Jersey/A goal line and Bledsoe threw
an interception. The crowd booed, and Bledsoe was yanked from the game. Dallas
fans roared their approval as Tony Romo entered -- except he threw an
interception on his first snap. Romo ended up tossing three interceptions in the
second half, one when Dallas was yet again at the Giants' goal line.

So both Dallas quarterbacks ended the game in the doghouse, and
TMQ thinks bad coaching is the explanation. Early in the contest, G-Persons
leading 7-0, Dallas had a first-and-10 on its own 1-yard line, the most
dangerous spot on the field. Dallas' coaches called for Bledsoe to take a
five-step drop backward into his end zone; he barely avoided a safety. Now it's
second down, and what do Dallas' coaches call? Another dropback: sack, safety.
The Cowboys' offensive line messed up on this play -- LaVar Arrington came
through the "B gap" untouched, the right tackle and right guard both ignoring
him. But the key mistake was the coaches' calls, not the players'

Now we're at the Giants' goal line with 1:38 left in the first half. It's
second-and-goal, Dallas holds all three timeouts, plenty of time to run the
ball. Instead, the Cowboys' coaches call a short square-out. When you're at the
goal line, the short square-out is the riskiest play you can call. Defenders are
up at the line, so the cornerback is in position to break on the ball and
intercept it; and in this situation the pass travels almost entirely sideways,
giving the corner time to react. Dallas' coaches should know how risky the short
square-out at the goal line is because three weeks ago when the Cowboys were at
the Philadelphia goal line in the closing minute, game in the balance, Dallas'
coaches called a short square-out that was intercepted and returned for a
touchdown. Maybe, just maybe, the Giants watched film of that. So what do
Dallas' coaches tell Bledsoe to throw? A short square-out, interception. Just to
prove it was no fluke, when the Cowboys reached Jersey/A's 11 late in a game
that was still contested, Dallas' coaches again called a short square-out, again
intercepted, and this time it was returned for the icing touchdown. Afterward,
did Bill "Mr. Personality" Parcells blame himself or his staff? Somehow he
didn't get around to that.

Three Dallas notes:

First, it's long been clear that Parcells is an egomaniac in both the
casual and, perhaps, clinical senses of that word. Lately he's gone downhill to
simply becoming a nasty person, spitting and snarling at everyone around him.
What's Parcells going to do next, demand worship? When I look at Parcells, the
phrase that comes to mind is "failed human being."

Second, the deciding play of Monday night's game was a Terrell Owens
blunder. Trailing 19-7 midway through the third quarter, Dallas had a
fourth-and-2 on the Jersey/A 32. Romo put a perfect short pass into Owens'
hands, and he dropped it like it was a live ferret. I wrote "game over" at that

Third, Dallas did run one really sweet play -- a play we rarely see, and I
don't understand why. Scoreboard reading 26-13 at the start of the fourth
quarter, the Cowboys lined up for a deuce attempt. Everybody split wide, empty
backfield; the Giants' defenders frantically spread wide to stop the wacky pass
they expected; Romo simply went straight up the middle for two points. When you
spread the field at the goal line, often the result is five offensive linemen
blocking only five defenders in the box, and the odds for a successful
quarterback sneak are excellent.

Tales from the Dark Side: El Disastro

What a night at the Partially Domed Rathole on 114. Drew Bledsoe is no longer the guy. It's time for Romo, and it's equally time to throw in the towel on the season. Bring on the TO Owens meltdown. Bring on the finger pointing and whiny bitching from the sheep.

The season is over.

Oh GOD, it feels so good to say that!

Disaster? That doesn't even BEGIN to describe it. Did anything go right for the Team We Love to Scorn last night? It would be much easier to list the players who didn't make huge errors than to list those who did. Let's go around the horn, shall we?

The O line, as usual, did Bledsoe no favors, turning Strahan, Arrington, and company lose time after time. No time to throw, no place for the running backs to go, it was a vintage Cowboy line performance. The shortcomings up front continue to be the root of all evil on this team, which I have been saying since the middle of last year, and which has yet to be addressed by Bondo Face and his minions.

You can blame the line for the safety and for the general lack of any offense through most of the first half. However, Drew has no one to blame but himself for the goal-line interception at the end of the first half. And that mistake seems to have ended his career as a Cowboy.

In a SHOCKING move, Parcells dumped his hand-picked guy at halftime, and put the future of the franchise in the shaky hands of former undrafted free-agent Tony Romo. I feel terrible for Drew - he's a likeable guy, he's a good soldier, he's nearly been killed a dozen times playing for this team, and this is how it ends for him: Unceremoniously benched at halftime.

In the long run, this may be the best way to go. It clearly wasn't going to get better for Drew, so why not go out before it gets really ugly, before your terrible line gets you crippled, and before the sheep start bleating for your blood.

Fittingly, though, Romo's first pass was a boneheaded attempt to blow a hole through about 5 Giants. Needless to say it didn't work. And, while Romo showed some flashes, he also made some plays worthy of a 3-A high school blooper reel. If he's the guy, the QB of the future, he's got a heck of a lot to learn. Maybe he will. We'll see.

And how about the defense? Did they play last night's game? I didn't notice. The Cowboys' "Doomsday III" defense got manhandled by the Giants all night. Pass rush? Not so much. Effective blitzes? Didn't see any. Competent zone coverage in the secondary? Not with Roy Williams and Patrick Watkins back there.

From dropped interceptions to bad tackling to blown coverages, the Cowboys supposedly-dominant defense got blown off the field by the Giants.

Special teams? Another horror show. What was Patrick Crayton thinking when he let that punt bounce right in front of him, only to roll down to the 1-inch line to be downed by the Giants? There was the safety, all gift-wrapped and presented to the Giants D (of course, someone attempting to block Lavar Arrington might have helped also, we've already addressed that). And did Vanderjagt come here so the Cowboys wouldn't have to pass on long field goals anymore? So why didn't Parcells even consider a field goal attempt instead of the 4th and 2 pass to TO Owens, which bounced off his hands like it was nuclear-enriched?

I thought Parcells was going to Kurt Cobain himself at the post-game press conference. I have never seen the Pear Shaped Football Genius SO down. It sorta warmed my heart. Condescending jerk. What comes around goes around, you fraud.

So, the Cowboys are now 3-3, with two division losses, the toughest part of the schedule coming up, and an encyclopedia full of questions at QB. Look out, sheep. Here comes that big 6-10 record. Here comes the internal strife, the TO Owens soap opera, the moaning and groaning on the talk shows, and the "I told you so's" from the Dark Side.

(Insert evil laugh here).

Monday, October 23, 2006

This looks familiar

The French govt is warning that riots could again erupt in immigrant suburbs of major French cities.

I'm shocked, SHOCKED, to find the conditions which sparked last year's flame fests haven't been resolved yet.

Kenny Rogers: All-American

I, along with some portion of America, watched with varying degrees of disbelief, revulsion, and admiration, as miserable human Kenny Rogers mowed down the St Louis Cardinals in a brilliant (no, really) performance in last night's World Series Game 2. Thanks to Rogers' sheer pitching genius, the Tigers won the game 3-1 and evened the series at one win apiece.

I've gone on record before with my disdain for Rogers. I think he's a jerk of the highest order, a big Southern dummy, selfish, and unreliable to his team and their fans. I take back none of this.

I will give him props for turning marginal physical talent into a long, reasonably successful major league career. This post-season aside, he's been, chronologically, young and wild, mid-30s and erratic, and veteran and reasonably crafty. He's recently had a track record of moderate success in the regular season and no opportunity in the post-season. His MO with the Rangers was to disappear when the team was poised to make a run, but, lets face it, he's hardly the only Ranger with that MO recently.

So now, here he is on the national stage, having one of the greatest post-seasons in baseball history. He'll probably get one more turn (this one's going six or seven) with the chance to cement his place in the lore of the game.

What's different? What has changed for the dude who previously made his most noise by knocking over a TV cameraman?

I think a couple of things (and please remember, I am no canny observer of baseball, nor do I keep up with the day-to-day doings of the Detroit Tigers; I'm just a casual fan):

1. He's playing for a manager who knows a thing or two about building a winning atmosphere. I think Jim Leyland knows how to minimize distractions and allow his guys to just play, whereas Buck Showalter (Rogers' most recent Rangers' manager) was quite the opposite.

2. He's got WAY more confidence in his grasp of pitching than he did during his previous swims through the post-season with the Yankees and Mets.

3. There are no expectations in Detroit. The Tigers have been so bad for so long, and the result is the fan base is shocked and blissfully amazed at where they find themselves. Throughout the year, there's been zero pressure on the team, as they have been far exceeding expectations since April.

I'm pulling for the Tigers, for a variety of reasons. Kenny Rogers is not one of them. Obviously, if the Tigers are going to win this thing, Rogers is going to be a big part of it. If miserable human Rogers getting a ring is the price to pay, I guess I'm ok with it.

Like that matters.

A couple of other World Series notes:

1. Craig Monroe is setting himself up to be the #2 hero (after Rogers) of the Series. Up until last year, he spent each spring fighting for a roster spot and usually platooning in left. Dude is on a one-year contract right now. Think the cash register is going to be ringing for him after this year?

2. Ivan Rodriguez is in his second World Series since being dumped by the Rangers. At the time, Rangers brass told us he was in physical decline, he was going to start getting hurt, he'd need to play first base, and he couldn't handle a pitching staff. As far as I can tell, in the four years since he left here, exactly none of those prediction have come to pass. Um, whoops?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Football Friday - Does anyone go 12-0 edition

Welcome to the Friday after the first BCS ranking. And welcome to the reality that Texas has almost no chance of defending its national championship.

Coming in at #9 in the initial BCS, with a whole pile of one-loss teams ahead of them, the 'Horns will have to pray for minor miracles on the field, or a crippling virus in the BCS computers, to get back to the National Championship game. This is primarily a factor of a fairly weak non-conf schedule (except for the Ohio St game, which the 'Horns lost and looked bad doing so), and a TERRIBLE Big 12.

The terrible conference thing cuts both ways, though. The SEC is loaded with terrific teams, but they beat the crap out of each other. A team that can go 12-0 or 11-1 in the SEC is really accomplishing something. Very few can.

Ohio St is obviously the best bet to go undefeated, but they are no lock. From there, it's tougher to call. USC will get beaten. West Virginia might not, but they're West Virginia, for God's sake (sorry Steve and Tony).

It probably doesn't matter for Texas though. They're just too far back. Next year.

On with this week's preview:


Texas @ Nebraska - My God, I would love to go see this game. It's fall in Lincoln, the 'Huskers are ranked again, and the National Champs are in town. This should be a great test for Texas. I think the 'Horns win and cover the 5.

A&M @ Oklahoma St - Let me get this straight: The Ags are ranked #23, but they're 3.5 point dogs at Okie St? I dunno, seems like if you're a ranked team, you ought to be favored over an unranked opponent, even at their place. I still think Fran is hanging on by his fingernails. I'll go with Cowboys, and we'll see if Coach Fran makes it back onto the team charter.

Georgia Tech @ Clemson - Here's the Redneck Game of the Week. How are both of these schools ranked? Clemson is giving up 7, and I think it's closer than that. Give me them Yeller Jackets and the points. I think Chan Gailey wins the big Catfish Tournament after the game as well. Them's good eatin' (barf).

Hawaii @ New Mexico St - I know absolutely zero about either team, I just wanted to throw in a comment about Hawaii's travel. How would you like to have to fly 10 hours and across about 5 time zones every other week for the entire semester? For that matter, why would you want to leave Hawaii? I'll have to call Norm on this one - What's Hawaii's road record over the years? I would have thought it's crap, but they're giving 20 points to NM St, so go figure.

Colorado @ Oklahoma - Coach Stoops and his boys have had their share of bad breaks and adversity this year. I wonder if they can keep their chins up. Vegas clearly thinks they can, as the Buffs are getting 14. I dunno about that. Much as I like Coach Bob, I might take those points.

Boston University vs. Rhett, the annoying Terrier mascot - Does a school with a tiny, ugly dog as a mascot really deserve a football team? I guess the answer is no. As for Rhett, the guy-in-a-dog-suit mascot on game day, he was an annoying precursor to Rowdy, the idiotic Cowboy mascot of today.


Washington @ Indianapolis - It ought to be fun watching the Redskins get friggin' killed by the Colts. I'm actually surprised they let Mark Brunell on the same field as Peyton.

Arizona @ Oakland - The Raiders are SO bad. But the Cardinals are coming off a horrible, should-never-have-happened loss on Monday night to Chicago. Denny Green had a total post-game meltdown. It's interesting to see how Arizona reacts. If they are truly losers (which Cardinal teams have been for YEARS), they will fold after Monday's loss. However, if Leinart and Edge James have infused the team with a bit of positivity, Oakland is a GREAT place for a team to get it's confidence back. I sorta like the Cardinals' chances.

Carolina @ Cincinnati - I really thought the Bengals had something. This is a good place to find out if they do.

Vikings @ Seattle - I hate the Vikings. I love the town of Seattle.

Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay - If the Eagles are going to do anything this year, they HAVE to win this game. I think they do.

Pittsburgh @ Atlanta - Let's see if the Steelers did, in fact, get their wheels back on. I think so.

Giants @ Dallas - The start of a stretch that will tell us what the Cowboys really are. To date, they've beaten up on crap teams and lost to decent ones. I think that tradition holds, thus I predict humiliating and demoralizing losses to both NY this week and Carolina next week. Yahooooo!

Comedic Value Game of the Week - Why would anyone spend good money to see Green Bay at Miami? Clearly, the CVGW is sponsored by Lunesta this week.

Go (insert your team here)!

China carries one heck of a big stick

The word this morning is Kim Jong Il has apologized for the NK nuclear test, and has agreed to return to bilateral or six-party negotiations intended to stop the NK weapons program. This, following a high-level visit from Beijing.

I'm sure it was worded in elegant and subtle phrases, as only Asians are capable of. I'm sure no voices were raised, and no outward violence was threatened. But I absolutely guarantee that, after his meeting w/ the Chinese delegation, Kim first went to the bathroom to clean out his underwear, then made a beeline to the offices of his PR guys to get started drafting his communique.

I think the lesson here is: If your country's entire existence is dependent on the good graces of a single foreign sponsor, don't piss that sponsor off.

And, perhaps a further lesson: Being on the same side as the Chinese might not be such a bad thing. Now, can we, as Tom Friedman has advocated, get them to work with us on an alternative energy program?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Funny costume - NOT

I'm sure the geniuses who came up with this kid's Halloween costume though it was hysterical. They probably laughed so hard the wet themselves in the product dev meeting.

If you want to scar your children's psyche for life, here's a good way to get started:

Interesting marketing strategy of the day

In the new "energy drink" market, having a high-powered product name is at least half the game. Concoctions like "Rock Star", "Vault", "Full Throttle", etc cover the shelves of your neighborhood 7-11. They're all basically the same thing - loads of sugar and caffeine, with an amino acid or two thrown in for the sake of fake science. It's really the packaging, the marketing, and, in no small part, the name that drive sales.

Here's an energy drink from our friends in the Czech Republic which takes the high-powered name thing to a new level. "Semtex" just might cause some discomfort to the friends and families of the thousands of victims of terrorist bombs, often made of the real Semtex, which have been killing people for 40 years.

It'll grab your attention, though, won't it?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why doesn't Osama blow up Dubai?

Dubai is apparently the tourism capital of the Middle East, with TONS of hotels, malls, nightclubs, restaurants, apartments, sporting events, and all kinds of other stuff you normally would not associate with an Arab country.

Given that alcohol is served in many establishments, gambling is permitted, and prostitution is a growing problem, I'm just wondering why Al Qaeda hasn't tried to blow something up there yet.

Iran cuts Internet speed to homes

The Iranian govt has reportedly imposed speed caps on residential and other consumer Internet access. Unless you're a business user, the top speed your going to be able to get is 128kbps, or just about double dial-up speed. Compare this to the 6+mbps (that's MEGAbits vs KILObits) American cable Internet subscribers get, and you'll see there's a big old difference.

It wouldn't be because news and opinion is increasingly available via Internet video, and a good deal of that news and opinion is somewhat negative towards the Iranian govt, would it?

Naahhhh, of course not.

This limiting of access to information ALWAYS works, too. And by ALWAYS, I mean NEVER.

As long as we're in 1970s-nostalgia mode...

Here's a Website dedicated to Quisp cereal. I had totally forgotten about this stuff, but remembered it the instant I saw the little smiling alien guy.
In other cereal news, Boo Berry is available in more stores for Halloween, and you will be able to buy the "Monster Cereal Three-Pack", which includes Boo Berry, Frankenberry, and Count Chocula.

Christopher Glenn is dead

Christopher Glenn, LONGtime CBS News fixture and educator of countless GenXers, is dead of liver cancer at age 68.

For the past umpteen years, Glenn has done CBS Radio's World News Roundup during afternoon drive. But, I remember him best from Saturday mornings in the 1970's, bringing us In the News between our favorite cartoons. Its not an exaggeration to say my most formative experiences with current events came from Mr. Glenn.

He will be missed.

Video iPods ship w/ a Windows virus: Accident?

Apple apparently shipped a few Video iPods containing the RavMonE.exe malware (apparently, its a Trojan which opens a backdoor in your PCs security). It's not an awful piece of malware - it's well documented and just about every competent anti-virus program will stop it.

The interesting part is Macs are not vulnerable to this malware, only Windows PCs.

Apple would NEVER do anything like this on purpose, would they? Of course not

And you thought there was no fun in Puritan New England

From Nerve today: An essay about the history of premarital sex in America. It turns out that courtship in the 1700s was a bit more straightforward than it is today.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A great site for us children of the 70s

Nostalgia Central is now a bookmark for me. The post on the Banana Split Show was enough to hook me.

There is so much stuff listed here that I haven't thought about in years! Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, Grape Ape, Perils of Penelope Pitstop, man, the list just goes on and on!

Birth of the iPod

Courtesy of our friends at Wired magazine, here's the story of the birth of the Apple iPod. Its interesting to me for two reasons:

1. The product changed the world around it.
2. Apple has a history of creating products that change the world around it.

North Koreans really are nuts

North Korea's government has finally responded to the UN's call for sanctions. Calling it a "declaration of war", the North went on to pound it's chest over it's new status as a nuclear power.

In related news, US intelligence agencies have finally confirmed the NK's test as a nuclear explosion, albeit a very, very small one.

There was never any doubt the NKs are friggin' crazy, certainly by Western standards. Even the Chinese seem to have no idea how to deal w/ Kim and his fellow-suicide-pact-signees. The current exchange of "dialogue" between the entire world and the delusional bullies in Pyongyang would be funny if it weren't so scary.

What's to be done here? I have no answers, but I feel strongly that the solution involves China and other Asian nations a lot more than it does the US. The Chinese are the only ones who have any sort of hammer when it comes to NK, and they certainly have the political will to do just about anything. The only problem here is that we can count on China to do what's best for China, not necessarily what's best for everyone else. Of course, that just means the Chinese are just like every other nation on Earth.

Monday, October 16, 2006

North Korea political gossip - Ain't this interesting?

An article in today's Australian is short on official, named sources, but raises some VERY interesting possiblities. Specifically, the Chinese govt may be feeling a little less inclined to protect NK nut-job leader Kim Jong Il from any motivated internal groups seeking to, say, overthrow him.

VERRRRYYYY interesting.


Uncle Barky needs your help

For those of you who reside in the mighty Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex of Love, allow me to submit a new blog and website for your perusal: Ed Bark, the long-time DMN TV critic, also known around these parts as “Uncle Barky”, is now online, and it’s pure Internet goodness.

You may or may not know that Uncle Barky has left the no-longer-nurturing biosphere of Belo after a, shall we say, difference of opinion with the most senior of senior DMN management. This is DMN’s loss (and God knows they’ve suffered a few of them recently – Jean-Jacques Taylor is now a SportsDay columnist, for God’s sake), but the Internet’s gain.

There’s a link to Uncle Barky on the left side of CIT, for your linking pleasure. I suggest you visit early and visit often, and absorb all the pop-culture morsels Ed so liberally sprinkles about.

Tell ‘em CIT sent you!


What the heck do I know about football?

Well, fair is fair. If I get to toot my own horn when I have a good week of picking games, I have to point out when I completely blow it too.

And blow it I did this past weekend. Let's run thru the list:

Florida @ Auburn - didn't see an Auburn resurgence coming.
Michigan @ Penn St. - that's one right, at least.
Missouri @ A&M - Coach Fran lives to fight another week, and I lose again.
Baylor @ Texas - alas, it did not take any genius on my part to get this right.
Iowa St @ OU - I was right here, but I bet OU would trade a win for AP for the rest of the season
Texans @ Cowboys - The Cowboys covered 13. Who woulda thunk? Not me, obviously.
Cincinnati @ TB - You think the Bucs EVER want Chris Simms back?.
Giants @ ATL - Yay, me.
Tenn @ Redskins - Good advice: you will rarely go wrong betting against the Redskins. What do you know, I finally followed some advice.
San Diego @ SF - Shoulda bet San D. The 49ers really are terrible.

5-5 - it wasn't as bad as it felt at the time. But you won't put shoes on the kids' feet that way. Better luck next week.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

RES-Q Infant Wedge update

A while ago, I wrote a post about my wife (Robynne Elkin, MOT, OTR/L, CKT) and her genius invention, the RES-Q Infant Wedge. The wedge is a device intended to ease sleeping for infants who suffer from Gastroesophogeal Reflux (GER). It's a lot easier to show than explain. Hence, the pictures above.

The wedge is currently available at a number of Dallas-area hospitals with a doctor's prescription. Robynne generally recommends parents consult with a trained therapist (or herself) to learn how to effectively use the device.

Feedback, from both medical professionals and parents of children with GER, has led to a number of design improvements, including a washable, medical-grade vinyl cover, and a complete redesign of the patent-pending RES-Q Sling, which works with the wedge to hold the infant in place. Robynne and her partner, Dr. Craig Troop, have put a tremendous amount of time and energy into testing and modifying the entire RES-Q System (the wedge and sling) with infants suffering from GER and their sleep-deprived parents. The result is a patented product that we think is a substantial step up from the other reflux wedges available on the market.

As stated above, Dallas-area residents can currently obtain a wedge at a number of local hospitals. For those of you outside of Dallas, we are pursuing some options for widening the distribution and availability of the RES-Q Infant Wedge. Please stay tuned for more information on this, hopefully very soon.

In the interim, if you have any questions about the RES-Q Infant Wedge, please email Robynne directly at pedi-ot@comcast.net.


Tales From the Dark Side: Whoopeee!

The Cowboys whipped up on the hapless Houston Texans today, 34-6. TO Owens scored 3 touchdowns and was pretty subdued in his celebration, at least by TO Owens standards.

For the sheep, this victory clearly proves the Cowboys are, in fact, one of the best teams in the history of the world, and should run the table right up to the Super Bowl. In fact, I'm sure several of them are working on victory parade plans right now, while some of the real optimists are busy making reservations in Glendale AZ for Super Bowl XLII, since the Cowboys are clearly SO dominant they will go 16-0 next year as well.

For the clear-eyed among us, most of whom are either card-carrying Dark Siders or are considering filling out an application, this victory is greeted with yawns and comments such as, "Beat someone and get back to me."

The Cowboys are making what little hay they are against some truly terrible teams. The Redskins (without Clinton Portis, if you will recall), Tennessee (Vince's first start), and Houston are all woeful. Perhaps Oakland is the worst team in the league, but these three are right there for the honor. Any middle- to lower-third team should be able to beat this group, and beat them badly.

Which the Cowboys are and have.

All-World defense? Sure, against offenses that can't get out of their own way.

Dominant O line? Every week, as long as the opposing defensive front is a collection of rookies, spares, and castoffs.

The next two weeks are going to be a bit more interesting. While the Giants and Carolina are neither one a juggernaut, they are both, at least, in the same group of middle-of-the-pack teams as the Cowboys. Both have the ability to play some on both sides of the ball, given sub-par competition, which the Cowboys should provide.

We'll spend this week hearing the sheep make all kinds of noise about the "dominant" Cowboys, the "manhandling" of the Texans, the "resurgence" of the offense, and the "fearsome" defense. The clear-eyed observers will reply with the watchword: "Beat someone and get back to me."

At the end of the year, when that big, ugly 6-10 record is posted, this team and its coach will be exposed for what they are.


Hey Mahmoud, how's that Iranian economy doing?

Not so great, apparently.

Hmm, hard to imagine how it's ever going to get better for Iran. Oil is consistently between $50 and $70 a barrel. Western economies can't handle much more than that and the Saudi fascists are tame enough they won't let it go much higher.

And yet, the Iranian economy is sorta sputtering along. Imagine that.


Another funny

Thanks, Keith. I'll send you a royalty check. :)


About a week late, but still funny

Don't buy that plasma TV quite yet

The newly-developed laser TV is better, cheaper, and uses less energy than plasma. Coming to a Best Buy near you sometime soon.


Halloween is weird


Peter Norman is dead. Here's why you should care.

Everyone is familiar with the picture on the left. Tommie Smith and John Carlos, with their Black Power salutes, shook the 1968 Mexico City Summer Olympics and the reverberations were felt around the world.

Did you ever wonder who the white guy on the silver medal stand was? Just some spare dude who has been immortalized, Forrest Gump-like, by his proximity to history?

Um, not so much, buddy.

Peter Norman, the Australian sprinter who won the silver medal in the Men's 200 meter and thus wound up on the stand with Smith and Carlos, was as big a part of the moment as his more famous fellow medalists.

Norman was in complete support of Smith and Carlos' act, and was a part of the planning before the medal ceremony. Due to his complicity in the event, Norman was completely ostracized back in Australia, never able to participate in the Australian Olympic program again. He wound up coaching track at a high school.

Norman stayed in contact with Smith and Carlos for the rest of his life. Smith kid's called him "Uncle Pete".

Norman died recently of a heart attack at the age of 64. Two of his pallbearers were John Carlos and Tommie Smith.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Hugo Chavez is a silly man

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the kindly man who recently informed the UN that George W. Bush is, in fact, Satan, is now running his big, fat mouth about how Venezuela is prepared to "defend" neighboring Bolivia from internal or external threats to its government.

He clearly thinks the US will try to topple Bolivian President Evo Morales, a close Chavez ally. He seem to have forgotten the US has essentially zero strategic interest in Bolivia and probably wouldn't get too excited if Jeffery Dahmer were elected to lead the country.

Much more likely, Chavez is seeking to prop up an "ally" he can control. Already, Bolivian opposition figures are voicing concern over Venezuela's level of influence in the country.

Chavez is yet another example, as if more were needed, of an ignorant blowhard who leads an otherwise backwards, dirt-poor country which just happens to be sitting on a whole pile of petroleum. If it weren't for their oil, Venezuelans, and their pals in Iran, would be growing the same dirt their grandfathers did and their grandchildren will.


"Lost" - Better? Worse? Different?

After this past Wed night's episode, we're two weeks into season 3 of "Lost", and I'm not sure what to think.

We've caught up on where some of the characters are, but the majority are still unseen. Previews of next week lead one to believe Locke, Desmond, and Eko were not deep-fried by whatever happened in the hatch in the season 2 finale. We know Jack, Sawyer, and Kate are not having any fun as guests of those wacky Others, and we know Jin and Sun have more, and bigger, marital problems than we thought. We also know Sun is a pretty good liar, and is able to lie convincingly about some important stuff: Remember, she told Jin, very earnestly and believably, she had never been unfaithful. Hmm, not so much.

It's awfully early to start drawing conclusions, but maybe not too early to look at trends. Is this show getting better? Worse? About the same? I dunno, I think maybe worse. The premise, and non-stop creepiness, the impression that the producers had The Plan and knew exactly where all this was going, of the first season was truly amazing. The clanking monster, the light coming on in the hatch, the numbers, Claire's kidnapping, crazy Rousseau, it was all genius! The only disappointment was the very end of the season 1 finale. What? We have to wait all summer to see what the heck is in the hatch? Well, it ensured I was back for the start of season 2.

As season 2 carried on, in fits and starts, the mystery and creepiness started to ebb. Oh sure, lots of new confusing stuff was introduced, and it seemed cool at the time. What is Dharma? What the heck is the hatch for? Who are those menacing, barefoot people, tramping through the jungle with a tied up teddy bear? Why does the shark have a tattoo? Who is Henry Gale and what keeps his eyes in his head?

But, all in all, the second season dragged.

It looks like season 3 will have some action, and some romance as well. But, it no longer seems like the producers have The Plan, that they're sorta making it up as they go. Maybe I'm wrong, and they're just lulling us, but I don't think so.

Well, I have way too much invested to give up easily. I will stick with it for some time before I pronounce the shark jumped and the game over. I'm just saying...


Football Friday: TO Owens, Team Player edition

And thus endeth a week full of doom and gloom here in Cowboyland. TO Owens spent a good part of the week honking about how little he’s getting the ball. I actually agree with him and the way he presented his case: He says if he was catching 2 or 3 passes a game and the team was winning, he’d shut up. But since they’re 2-2, he thinks he needs the ball more. I think he’s right. What else is the guy here for?

Regardless of whether he has a legit point or not, and you can make up your own mind about that, this is how the inevitable melt-down starts. If the Cowboys continue to lose, and they will, although not this week, TO Owens’ complaints will get louder and more pointed, culminating with him calling out Bledsoe, the coaching staff, the Pear Shaped Football Genius himself, or perhaps all three. And from there, it’s gonna be implosion city.

Bwahahahaha, I can’t wait.

Anyway, on with this week’s preview:


Florida @ Auburn – We lead off with the Redneck Game of the Week. I liked Auburn right up until they got drilled by Arkansas last week. Arkansas? This goes to show the non-conf schedule tells us just about nothing. The game is down to pick, which is stunning to me. I am signing up for a quintuple play on Florida. That’s assuming the Gators’ yellow-dog school bus doesn’t break down on the way to the game.

Michigan @ Penn St – The Wolverines will mop the floor with Penn St. Regardless, THIS is a college football game, by God. The leaves are probably turning in PA, there should be a nip in the air. You have got to love fall weekends, man.

Missouri @ Texas A&M – The Ags are getting 2, but they’re gonna need a bunch more than that to get my vote. I fear bad things for A&M this season in general and this weekend in particular. Coach Fran, if he’s smart, has a go bag packed and a fast car parked, nose out, close by.

Baylor @ Texas – The somewhat-resurgent Bears get 28.5 points. I’d stay away from that, but the ‘Horns will kill ‘em. It’s still well within the realm of possibility Texas gets to defend the championship this year.

Iowa St @ OU – The Sooners will win this game, probably pretty easily. However, they’re giving 19, which is too much for the OU offense. I’ll take those points, please.

Boston University vs. the sainted memory of Malcolm Perry – The pride of New Hamster, Malcolm returned kicks for the Fighting Terriers before bailing out for the green pastures (literally) of UNH. A great guy whom I really like, I wonder where he is now…


Texans @ Cowboys – Everyone is expecting a Dallas romp similar to that of two weeks ago in Tennessee. While the Texans are bad, David Carr seems to have figured out a thing or two. I’m pretty sure the Cowboys will win, but a Texans squeaker would not shock me one bit. How delicious would that be? Oh, and by the way, Houston is getting 13. NO ONE should get 13 against the Cowboys.

Cincinnati @ Tampa Bay – The Bengals are still one of my faves in the AFC. And TB is bad regardless of the condition of Chris Simms and his liberated spleen.

Giants @ Atlanta – The Giants are getting 3 here? I don’t get it. The Giants will win straight up.

Tennessee @ Redskins – Another funky spread. The Titans, admittedly as bad an NFL team as you’ll ever see, are getting 10 against Washington? There may not be a touchdown scored in this game. Gimme the points, man.

San Diego @ SF – Another big spread (SF gets 10), I’m staying away from this one. I think San Diego has a bit in it’s bag, while SF has got nothing. But California is just to strange for me to predict.

Seattle @ St Louis – I think the boys in Vegas have been smoking some major hooch this week. St. Louis gets 3? Seattle is going to kill them. Look for some properties on the Strip going up for sale early next week. Or some hair-gel-wearing dudes in the unemployment lines. Crazy, man.

Comedic Value Game of the Week – We finally have a clear-cut winner. Buffalo @ Detroit is about as uninteresting as it gets. Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp and Fleagle from the Banana Splits will be the broadcast team on this one, with HR Pufenstuff and Hong Kong Phooey roaming the sidelines. Since I’m now out of late-70’s kids TV references, I think I’ll quit here.

Go (insert your team here)!


Thursday, October 12, 2006

I think we all know how this happened

A prisoner in solitary confinement on death row in Vietnam has turned up preggers. This while her husband was serving a jail sentence in another prison.

Hmm, perhaps the guard serving her dinner is working for tips?


Cingular 8125 Pocket PC phone - great product, but...

I'm about a month into ownership of a Cingular 8125 Pocket PC phone, and I'm still trying to decide if it's a keeper or not.

The up side is pretty awesome:

- I get my personal (gmail) and work (Outlook) email pushed to me. Mail hits the phone almost the same instant it hits the Web site or Exchange server.
- Full featured browser (IE) that works well on EDGE and tremendously well on WiFi.
- Full versions (or close enough) of Word and Excel.
- PowerPoint viewer.
- Good size and form factor.
- Truly excellent screen - good size, bright, colors are great.
- Much better phone reception than my old LG clamshell phone.

However, there are a few significant drawbacks as well:

- Battery life is absurd. Yesterday I got about 10 hours out of the battery. This was with about 10 minutes of talk time. Now, I did learn a lesson about battery life - I'm sitting right under the wireless router here at my current client site, so I had WiFi turned on most of the day. It turns out this drain the battery MUCH faster - I guess I should have known that, as WiFi is basically another radio built into the phone. But still: 10 hours?
- Speaking of batteries, once the battery gets more than about half depleted, the USB cable won't charge it. You have to use the OEM power cord, which is, of course, plugged in in my home office. Doesn't do me much good while out and about. I've ordered a car cord, but I've read a few things that lead me to believe it won't work on a depleted battery either.
- The silliest stylus ever. It telescopes from about an inch and a half in length to maybe three inches. If I don't lose or break the thing within three months, I will be SHOCKED.
- Impossible to dial while driving. There's no way to use the keypad on the screen with one hand, and the keyboard is QWERTY, so it's nearly impossible to use as well. Voice tags work great, but there's a real limit to their utility.
- Wired hands-free devices work sporadically at best. Perhaps its a lose connection in the jack on the phone, but I can't get either of my wired earpieces to work reliably. A Bluetooth device would solve this in a heartbeat, but I don't want to spend another $50. Plus, I think they look D-U-M-B.

I suspect I'll learn to work around the drawbacks. The upside is too compelling, and, from the reviews I've read, the 8125 is better than the competition. This is the price you pay for being a relatively early adopter, I guess.

BTW, if you're looking for a site chock full of 8125 info, go check out Jason Golod's blog. Excellent info throughout, and not just on wireless phones.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Possibly the world's greatest indie band

I don't know anything about these lads, other than they're Scots and fairly mellow. Oh, and they have outstanding taste in band names.

There are several songs available for download on the site, and they're pretty good. Check it out!


Frisco teacher imbroglio – the saga continues

Last week, we wrote a bit about the adventures of 5th grade art teacher Sydney McGee in her crusade against the Frisco Independent School District. You remember the story: McGee’s contract has not been picked up for next year, so she starts hollering about how a kid saw some nude art on McGee’s class field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art, the parent complained, and FISD fired her.

As we now know, McGee has had issues with the neighboring McKinney ISD in the past. In addition, some more info has come to light regarding her troubles at FISD, which long predate the field trip and its fallout. Furthermore, FISD has gone out of its way to say McGee’s trouble has nothing to do with the field trip, as FISD students have been going to the DMA for years and will continue to do so.

McGee continues to lie about the situation, most recently to Matt Lauer on the Today Show. FISD has posted a very clear rebuttal of McGee’s false claims (along with several made by NBC via Lauer) on their Web site.

FISD is by no means perfect, but this story continues to make me angry. I have no idea what Sydney McGee’s agenda is, or how she wants this to end. Her continued lies and misrepresentations, however, will only cause it to end badly for everyone involved.


Tales From the Dark Side: Going Green

Here on the Dark Side, things have gone a dark, scary green, sorta like the North Texas sky on a tornado day. The aftermath of Eagles 38 - Cowboys 24 has the sheep bleating whinily, and the Dark Siders cavorting with glee.

So, now we know the Cowboys are not an elite team. The Eagles are good, but not great - their offense is too low-speed to keep up with the real big boys. And now we know how the Cowboys stack up against a decent team: Not well.

It starts with the offensive line, as usual. This bunch just isn't very good. Oh sure, they looked like Stepnoski, Gogan, and Co. against Washington and Tennessee, but who doesn't? The Eagles have a real NFL defense, and that's all it takes. Bledsoe put together some nice stretches, but overall the Eagles' D dominated.

TO Owens was not much of a factor, with three catches and less than 50 yards. More balls were thrown in his direction, but some of those bounced off his hands, while others were bad throws, forced by Bledsoe while running for his life. Owens seemed to want to take over the game, but didn't get the opportunity as the Eagles teed off on Bledsoe in the second half. His post game reactions, though measured and somewhat (by TO Owens standards) restrained, are but a taste of what is to come as the Cowboys plod on thru the season. He's not getting the ball, which can be blamed on everything from tired, old Bledsoe to no protection to the Pear-Shaped Football Genius directing the offense away from him to who-knows-what else. And when TO Owens isn't getting the ball, there will be fireworks.

I can't wait!

The rest of the offense? Some more flashes of brilliance from Julius Jones, a couple of nice grabs by Glenn and Witten (who must be sore as crap, after getting hammered by half the defense on a short down and in during the 3rd quarter - not a spectacular hit by any means, but it looked like it hurt an awful lot), but not enough to overcome the Eagles' big plays on offense.

And what of those big Eagle plays on offense? Wasn't the Cowboy D supposed to be "Doomsday III"? McNab seemed able to torch the secondary at will. Everyone, but especially the safeties, gave up big plays all over the field. And to whom? Do the Eagles have one WR who's worth a flip? They are a bunch of spares, but they looked like Rice, Largent, and Monk against this ridiculous pass defense.

And don't forget, the Eagles had no running game either. Westbrook is a decent, but far from great, back when healthy, and he wasn't healthy.

So, wait a minute - a team with an admittedly top-notch QB, but a bunch of spares at receiver and no ability to run the ball, were able to make the Cowboy D look like the Frisco Wakeland Wolverines? Hmm. Could the Cowboy D be (GASP!) over-rated?

Folks, not only is the defense over-rated, everything about this team is over-rated. They beat up on a pathetic Redskins team, then wiped out arguable the worst team in the NFL in Tennessee (and don't give me the "but the Titans almost beat the Colts" bit – Indianapolis slept thru that game and only regained semi-consciousness long enough to swat those pests) and the sheep, led by the homer media, is ready to start planning the Super Bowl Victory Parade.

The truth should be obvious now: The Cowboys are a middle- to lower-rung team in the NFL. They will win games against the weaker sisters (this week against Houston is Example A) and will lose, and look bad doing so, to the better teams in the league (Giants and Carolina are Examples B and C, Your Honor).

There's lots of room over here on the Dark Side, boys and girls. The best seats are going quickly, but we'll make room for you. I expect to see most of you over here before the end of the season.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Gay-Rod fails again

The surprise-a-minute Detroit Tigers eliminated the over-priced, under-achieving New York Yankees from the playoffs today, convincingly winning Game 4 of the best-of-five ALDS, 8-3. The Tigers, who seemed to be fading down the stretch, found some of their early-season fire and took care of the Yanks, winning three in a row after losing Game 1.

I have some sentiment for those wacky Tigers. Ivan Rodriguez, of course, is still a favorite around here. Craig Monroe is a Texas dude who got his start in the Rangers' system. There's not much to dislike about this team, with the notable exception of miserable human Kenny Rogers.

The Yankees, on the other hand, are an easy team to root against. The Onion once ran a fake news story along the lines of "Yankees sign every player in baseball", and it's not too far from the truth. And Alex Rodriguez, our old pal Gay-Rod, is very easy to dislike.

By all accounts, Detroit's pitching was too much for the Yankees' fearsome offense. Gay-Rod in particular had yet another failed October. After the up-and-down season he had this year, along with past playoff failures, it's going to be interesting to see what, if anything, the Yankees do with him. I can't believe anyone is going to trade for him with that ridiculous contract, even though Tom Hicks is still paying a bunch of it, but you never know.

So, now Detroit is off to the ALCS to face Oakland. I think the Tigers are a pretty cool story, so I'll be pulling for them to continue the run.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Football Friday – Cotton Bowl makeover edition

One of the great weekends of the year is here: Texas-OU in the Red River Shootout Rivalry (or whatever it’s called these days). Along with it, we’ve got a few other interesting college matchups and a potential massive, demoralizing loss for the Cowboys, so there’s lots to look forward to. Let’s get to the details, shall we?


Texas vs. OU @ Cotton Bowl – This year’s game should be the most evenly matched in years. It will be most interesting to see how young Colt McCoy plays in his first game of consequence since his fair-to-poor showing against Ohio St. As usual, the weather prediction for tomorrow is SPECTACULAR – I can’t remember a Texas-OU game that was played in the rain. Another plus (I think) is the huge HD scoreboard installed at the decrepit old Cotton Bowl. What a waste of time and money. This is sorta like putting a DVD player into your horse-drawn carriage. Regardless, I think we’re in for a good one, but at the end of the day, Texas will win.

LSU @ Florida – Here’s your Redneck Game of the Week. It’s either Florida -2 or pick, depending on where you look. I don’t know – I think it’s a Florida win, but I’d be real careful with that. Them Cajun boys is gonna show up wit sum a dat corn likker and a big ol’ plate a etouffee, cher, so de garlic breath alone gonna be a equalizer. Don’t you big Gainesville city folk be getting’ too comfy, you know dats right.

Nebraska @ Iowa State – Battle of the Corn-Fed Polacks, I bet there isn’t a Jew for 150 miles. I want to know where all the black kids on these teams come from; I’ve spent a fair amount of time in both states, and the brothers are in short supply. Nebraska wins both the game and the pitchfork fight afterwards.

Michigan State @ Michigan – The biggest bong I ever saw was in East Lansing. Taking a hit from it was a two-person effort, and you needed an iron lung to get all the smoke out. What this has to do with college football, I have no idea. I like the Wolverines in this one, since Michigan State has always seemed like a bunch of wannabes to me.

Texas A&M @ Kansas – Coach Fran needs a win in the worst way. If the Aggies lose, I’m headed to College Station to start a torches and pitchforks franchise. I have the merch in the garage, but I don’t think I’ll need to load up this weekend.

SMU @ El Paso – I include this game strictly because it allows me to mention the DMN’s SMU beat writer, Kate Hairopoulos. Think she had a tough childhood?

Boston University vs. the immortal soul of Mark “Pepsi” Moylan – Big Pepsi (I have no idea where the nickname came from) was a giant (by 1-AA standards, anyway) offensive lineman who was, fortunately for his neighbors, a nice, quiet guy. I have to tell you, though, I always tread carefully around Mark. Not all my friends did (and you know who you are).


Cowboys @ Eagles – I don’t have much regard for Eagle fans, but I hope a few of them figure out how to use a crayon and make some funny signs. I also would love to see TO Owens score a TD, dash out to the emblem at the center of the field, then run like hell as every single fan in the lower bowl storms the field. THAT would be quality entertainment. As I’ve been saying since training camp, I don’t think the Cowboys have much, and I believe the Eagles will romp. It says here Eagles win 37-14, and I will have lots of company on the Dark Side come Monday.

Miami @ New England – Back in the day, this was a huge rivalry. What happened to Miami? The Pats give 9.5, which is a heck of a lot in the pros, but I think you have to go that way.

Tampa @ New Orleans – I still don’t know what the Saints are, but I’m starting to think they’re pretty good. I suspect Tampa is better off with Chris Simms sitting on the couch, spleenless, for the rest of the season. I’m sorry, I’m sure he’s a wonderful human, but I saw too much of his bag at Texas for me to believe he’s ever going to be anything but a spare NFL QB.

Titans (giggle) @ Colts – Scary point spread of the week here – Tennessee gets 18. I don’t recall a bigger spread on any game ever. Anything over 10 gets my attention in the NFL, but I’d tread carefully here. Tennessee is as bad as it gets, and the Colts can score some points.

Pittsburgh @ San Diego – The Chargers are quietly pretty good. The Steelers are starting to make me think last year was a fluke.

Baltimore @ Denver – I’m kinda pulling for Baltimore this year. I think they’ve got a little something. Denver is always tough at home, but I smell upset here.

Comedic Value Game of the Week – As is often the case, I can’t choose between two very worthy candidates. St Louis @ Green Bay is a horror show, but so is Oakland @ San Francisco. I don’t know. I’d rather take a bath in paint thinner than watch either one of these.

Go (insert your team here)!


Life after Bill: Microsoft tries to reinvent itself, again

Another great article in Wired this month, this time looking at Microsoft as the Gates era winds down and the Ozzie era spins up.

As seems to always be the case, Microsoft finds itself beset by tough competition on many fronts - Google is now offering Web-based apps which could compete with Office, YouTube is way out in front in online video publishing, Apple dominates the electronic music and video business, etc. This is, of course, nothing new for the boys and girls in Redmond. Since the early 90s, company after company and innovation after innovation has been hailed as the Microsoft-killer, and none have lived up to the hype yet.

However, that doesn't mean Microsoft can rest on it's laurels. Far from it.

Ray Ozzie, the heir to Bill Gates' throne in Redmond, is trying to shift Microsoft from a big, scheduled, marketed software release company into a much faster, much more nimble purveyor of online services. This is akin, as stated in the Wired article, to an aircraft maintenance worker, used to rolling an airplane into a hanger for regular maintenance, being asked to do all his/her maintenance work while the plane is in flight.

Can Microsoft pull it off? Can an enormous (and enormously successful) organization change itself in a significant way? While Microsoft has done so before (think back to 1995 and the start of the Internet Revolution), overall human history says it's unlikely.

This promises to be a fascinating struggle to watch (and be involved in, albeit in a small way). For starters, you should go read this article.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

CIT book report - "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy

Even though I rarely mention books around here, I am a semi-big reader. Mostly, I stick with history and biography, the old non-fiction standbys. Every once in a while, I pick up a piece of what Brad Feld calls "mental floss", a bestseller, a thriller, or some other low-effort diversion.

Recently, I picked up a book which I thought would be mental floss, but turned out to be anything but. I posted a review on Amazon, and reprint it here:

I just finished The Road (in a single day, which I almost never do anymore) and am still trying to sort out my reaction to it.

Some words and phrases which come to mind: Superb writing; absolute minimum of words which convey much more than I can explain; the bleakest of bleak; love between father and small son which is entirely real; hopelessness which is not complete, only damn close to it; the first book to ever made me cry (not just well up or get misty, I mean really cry); I'd love to recommend it, but I don't know to whom; sheer terror, starvation, and extreme physical discomfort (which is far too mild a word) as a way of life; I'm glad I read it but I don't know why - I felt like I had been whisked with metal brushes after I finished.

I thought of my own 6 year old son throughout, I thought of my father throughout. A passage from the last page or two had my wife looking at me incredulously and me completely unable to explain myself without getting more upset.

You won't have a good time, you won't look back on it fondly, you won't be uplifted and nothing will be reaffirmed. Regardless, you should read this book.


Scariest smoking area ever

In the same vein as the elevator post below, the picture on the ceiling of this smoking area might make you think twice about lighting up.


Scariest elevator ever

Go ahead. Step in. There really is a floor in this elevator, it's just painted to look like there isn't - very Wile E. Coyote if you ask me.
There are many more pictures on the page linked above.

For the record, there is no way I'd get into this thing.


Terabyte desktop hard drive

For those of us who remember dual-floppy IBM XTs, here's something else to make you feel old. Western Digital has released a one terabyte USB 2.0/Firewire hard drive. You can now store over 100 HD movies on the top of your desk for about $550.

Gentlemen (and ladies), start your downloading!


Buck goes bye-bye

Zowie!! The Rangers announced today they have fired Buck Showalter.

EXCELLENT move! Regardless of what you think of Showalter as a human (and I think pretty highly of him), it was time for someone new. This team has underacheived throughout his tenure.

More about this when we do a baseball wrap up in a few days, but for now I will go on the record as saying this is a good thing.


Frisco teacher imbroglio

I don't often comment on stories concerning our home town, lovely and crime-free Frisco TX, because the number of people who care is pretty darn small (but growing all the time). However, this story has gone national, and it's steaming my shorts a bit.

Perhaps you've heard of Frisco Independent School District's non-renewal of elementary school art teacher Sydney McGee's contract. This ending of employment has become national news because the national media has reported that a parent complained about his/her child seeing a piece of nude art during a field trip to an art museum during Ms. McGee's class. The connection has been made in the national media (assisted significantly by Ms. McGee and her attorney, Rogge Dunn) between the complaint and Ms. McGee's dismissal.

Since the beginning of the brouhaha, FISD has taken the high road. They've hinted there are additional facts in the case, Ms. McGee has other performance issues, and the dismissal is about those other issues and not the parent complaint. But, in accordance with the law and basic decency, they have not given any specifics and have, as a result, become the butt of jokes and scathing commentary from all over the place.

The time has finally come for FISD to defend itself, and thus they have requested Ms. McGee's permission to publicly open her personnel file. There's about zero chance Ms. McGee gives the go-ahead to do so, but this at least lets the public know FISD does have some additional ammo in their argument.

The lesson here for FISD (probably) is better communication with their teachers, especially those who are not performing adequately. There's no way of knowing if FISD really does (and did here) a good job of communicating in these situations and Ms. McGee is really a nut. Regardless, when a story blows up like this one has, you've got to take away some lessons.

For my part, I've been VERY pleased with FISD in my dealings with them. Both of my kids attend school in FISD, both enjoy school a great deal (a lot more than I did back in the day), both are excelling, and the teachers and administrators have been tremendously helpful and professional. I have no complaints.

I would ask parents who have personal knowledge of the facts of the McGee case to start posting them, writing letters to the editors of the DMN and other publications, and generally start spreading the news. FISD is not going to be able to defend itself adequately and needs our help.


Friendly Eagle fans

Here's a detailed guide on what to throw at TO Owens during the game in Philadelphia this Sunday. It uses a few big words ("emulating", "egregiously", "obscure", etc), so it's utility for the average Eagles fan is questionable. Still, it's pretty funny.

You think it was an accident Brett Favre kept his helmet on his melon while standing on the sidelines on Monday night? The entire city of Philadelphia should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, shouldn't it?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Another Dallas Police foul-up

First, let me state for the record that no one "Backs the Blue" more than I do. I'm a big fan of the police, and I am eternally grateful there are folks out there who are willing to get shot at to protect my rights. Yay, cops. Seriously.

With preface in place, here's yet another example of a screw up from the department that brought you the fake-drug scandal, Terrell Bolton, and Johnnie Hernandez, your Dallas Police Department.

This time, a GPS-equipped "bait car" was stolen, as planned. Unfortunately, the GPS tracking device failed, so the crook essentially won the big Showcase Showdown, top prize being the car.

This does NOT make Dallas look any better.

Texas A&M is one strange place

As a life-long fan of the University of Texas, I've always looked upon Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University (Texas A&M) as a bit like a really weird cousin. As an institution, A&M has an excellent academic reputation, but is chock full of bizarre traditions, sadistic nuts of questionable sexual orientation, a massive inferiority complex, and sad, skinny little white boys with bad haircuts playing soldier.

A&M's main purpose within Texas is to provide a never-ending source of fodder for jokes. Unfortunately, their main purpose outside of Texas appears to be embarrassing the rest of us on national television.

The clip below is from this past weekend's A&M loss to the Red Raiders. It's the A&M Corp of Cadets (those sad, skinny little white boys and sadistic nuts I mentioned above) doing something I cannot explain.

Folks, we're not all like this. Most of us are as mystified as you are.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Tales From the Dark Side: Titan-ically Terrible (rock me!)

You might think all is, well, dark over here on the Dark Side following Cowboys 45 - Titans (snort) 14. Not so. There’s much to be joyfully pessimistic about regarding our beloved Cowboys. Where shall we start?

How about with this: Tennessee is God-awful. There is nothing “titanic” about this team and it makes me giggle to even say the word. Poor on defense, limited on offense, rookie QB, no running game, etc etc. There’s every chance they go 0-16. Really. What can they do well? What can they do even decently?

Vince Young may grow up into the greatest QB in the history of the NFL. I’m sure rooting for him. But I think it’s unlikely. His success at Texas came in an offense which allowed him to maximize his physical superiority. Guess what? He left that superiority in the Rose Bowl back in Jan. In the NFL, he’s just another big, fast guy, one among literally hundreds. There is little chance Vince will dominate physically. He’s got to become a QB. He may be able to do it in time, but yesterday showed he’s got a ways to go.

Which certainly helped the pedestrian Cowboys. Once again, a sub-par offense with no serious weapons made the Cowboy D look All-World. Folks, this is smoke and mirrors. A real offense will shred this bunch. While I will give the secondary some credit, I don’t think the front seven is capable of stopping an elite running back, or pressuring a top 10 QB. Philadelphia should expose this defense for what it truly is. If they don’t, the Giants, Carolina, or Indianapolis (yikes!) will.

And how about on the offensive side of the ball? Oh sure, the O line looked omnipotent yesterday. I suspect Sam Houston State’s O line could handle the Tennessee front, especially after Albert (Dumbest Man in the NFL?) Haynesworth got himself ejected for attempted murder on Andre Gurode. I’m still thinking the same way I did in training camp – this bunch is below average at best. I have seen nothing to change my mind so far.

A big day for the running backs (esp Mr. Jones, of whom, I must confess, I am a fan) and Bledsoe (another guy I can’t help but like). TO (The Incredible Me) Owens had a semi-large day, but failed to score, thank God. All in all, I’d be impressed if the Titans D weren’t about as tough as the Celina Bobcats. Do it next week and I’ll change my tune

So, while yesterday’s game was a bummer, there’s still lots to feel dark and gooey about. I am rubbing my hands together in anticipation of next week’s ace-whuppin’ to be administered by the Eagles.

Final note: The Tennessee Titans’ story was summed up nicely by the fans’ reaction to Titans’ owner Bud Adams vs. that given to Bondo-Face. Adams, addressing the crowd during the ceremony retiring Warren Moon’s number (even though he played for the Houston Oilers, and never played in Tennessee), was roundly booed. Bondo-Face, on the other hand, was signing autographs left and right from his open-air owner’s box. It says a heck of a lot about a franchise when Jerry Jones is a desirable alternative to what you’ve got.