Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Daily YouTube (sorta): The French are NUTS

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

You know what they say - mime is money.




jerome murat
Uploaded by segalier

A letter from Mahmoud

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Daily YouTube: The Mighty A-Bomb

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

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

Zimbabwe now wants to stop international cell calls

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

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

Monday, November 27, 2006

Think you're safe in that H3?


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


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

Daily YouTube: World's worst burglar

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


Tales From the Dark Side: Lookee here!

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

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

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

It's a tougher question than it seems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yay, mass ritual suicide!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The COOLEST small watercraft ever


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


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

Iraq: Another dreadful milestone

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

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

Daily YouTube: Congratulations, you're married

Not exactly home video, but still funny.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Football Friday-ish - The Thanksgiving slate

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

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

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

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

Go (insert your team here)!

Daily YouTube: A Hasselhoff Thanksgiving

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Daily YouTube: Jack Kerouac on the Steve Allen Show

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

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

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


All you ever wanted to know about comic-strip heinies

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

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

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

Some soul-crushing A&M numbers

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

Bob,

More Fran numbers:

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

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

-Brady Class of '99

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Daily YouTube: 2005 Texas Longhorns highlights

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

NOW I'm interested in paintball!

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

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


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

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

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

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

But it has.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 20, 2006

Daily YouTube: The Ramones

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


A glimpse of the future

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

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

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

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

Go read the whole thing!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

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


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




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


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


And so I shall.


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


OK, OK, I'm leaving.

Friday, November 17, 2006

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

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

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

Global Orgasm for Peace

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

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

These Colts are NOT from Baltimore

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

And he makes his point rather resoundingly.

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

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

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

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

Colleges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty dramatic, huh?

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

Pros

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go (insert your team here)!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Emmitt Smith: Another championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Do your homework

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

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






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


OJ is back, and creepier than ever

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

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

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

Monday, November 13, 2006

A U2 moment I should have seen

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

Here's the video, at least:


The problem with "Lost"

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

I tend to agree.

H. Ross Perot, up close and personal

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

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

A sad note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tales From the Dark Side: Today's Theme is "Crap"


I'll admit it's not easy to come up with a whole bunch of darkness regarding Cowboys 27 - Cardinals 10. The Cowboys pretty much had their way with the silly little Cardinals and, other than the injury to Greg Ellis, not much went wrong.

So, that's "crap" #1 - it was a tough day for Dark Siders.

Instead, let's focus our doom-and-gloom gaze on the larger picture this week.

Someone please tell me what there is to be excited about for this year and for this team? I can come up with a few possibilities, but I can just as quickly dash all of those possibilities to small, tiny, shattered pieces.

Do you want to feel good about Romo? Through three games, he's done as well as you could hope, hasn't he? I mean, you have to throw out that second half against the Giants, don't you?

Or do you?

Weren't the Giants really the only decent defense he's seen? Carolina's defense is pretty good, you say. Is it? They get some pressure from their front four, sure, but what else do they have? The Redskins and the Cardinals? Are you kidding?

That's "crap" #2.

The running game has been ok, hasn't it? Yeah, actually it has. Both J. Jones and MBIII have had reasonably good, if remarkably quiet, seasons. I genuinely like both of these guys, so it's hard for me to trash them. However, I don't think the Cowboys can run effectively enough to win consistently. They need to throw, and if the passing game isn't there, I don't see the run giving them enough to beat some of the teams left on the schedule. The Colts, Giants, Bucs, Saints, and maybe Eagles and Falcons all are going to be tough to beat without scoring a bunch of points.

Crap #3.

How about that "Doomsday III" defense? They showed something yesterday, didn't they? Oh, come on. The Cardinal offense is SUCH crap. They've got a couple of receivers, a running back, and maybe a QB, but they have the worst O line in the league (and that's not just my opinion - the great Larry Brown, Super Bowl MVP, said exactly those words on the pre-game show yesterday). The Cowboy D dominated the Cardinals? Whoopeee. The Hutto Hippos probably could too.

Crappy crap.

Parcells is a genius, and knows how to build a team and win big games, doesn't he? Oh really? What has he done around here which would indicate he's anything more than a fat guy with anger and control issues? What's so much better than when he got here? Which draft choices have really impressed you? Spears or Ware? Where did they go? Bobby Carpenter actually got on the field yesterday, so I guess that's something. Is your O line any better? Bwahahahahaha. Not so much.

Crappity crap crap.

Yes, the Cowboys thoroughly thrashed the woeful little Cardinals. Don't get too excited, sheepies. I see six losses left on the schedule, maybe more. It still says 6-10 right here, buddy boy.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Sacha Baron Cohen before he was big-time

Here, in a series of clips from a Brit TV show, is the bio and early career of the great Sacha Baron Cohen, creator of Ali G, Borat, and Bruno and certified comedic genius.

Great stuff!






5,000 years of Middle East imperial history in 90 seconds

The easiest learning you'll see all day: Here's a 90-second animation which gives you the history of conquest of the Middle East over the past 5,000 years.

This is pure genius. Go watch it.

What's real in "Borat"

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I will. And, as was the case in Da Ali G. Show, you have to wonder, as you watch Sacha Baron Cohen cause all sorts of havoc with his "unsuspecting" prey, how much of this is for-real, and how much is staged.

Here, via our friends at Salon, is the lowdown on some of the more outrageous stunts in the movie. Just reading this article cracked me up. I can't wait to see the film.

Holocaust cartoon contest winner - I rushed to judgement

About a week ago, I posted the winner of Iran's Holocaust Cartoon Contest, and had some rather unkind things to say about it's creator, Derkaoui Abdellah of Morocco.

Here's some words from the man himself. While I still think he's dead wrong, he's not the virulent anti-Semite I portrayed him to be. So, I apologize for the inference I made.

I want to express my total heartfelt sympathy with the millions of Jewish
victims of the Holocaust who suffered the greatest crime against humanity under
the Nazis. Nobody can deny that more than six million people were massacred
during the second world war by the devil Hitler and his Nazi henchmen. But the
question for me and for so many others is why the Palestinian people have
suffered from so much pain, and massacres, and why they continue to suffer in
the current situation.


That doesn't change the fact that this was an exercise in hypocrisy by Iran and an attempt to further inflame passions which are already out of control on both sides of the issue.

Gay Pride in Jerusalem

It was Gay Pride Day in Jersalem.

I have gone on record as saying I support the gay and the lesbian, and I understand sometimes controversy is a good thing.

However, this was probably not the time, and certainly not the place, to stir the pot this vigorously. This doesn't help anyone.

Football Friday - TO's Got the Dropsies Edition

The weeks just fly by at this time of year, don't they? We're less than two weeks from Thanksgiving - how did that happen?

While there are no knock-your-mama-out match ups this weekend, there are some games of note. So, let's get to it:

Colleges

Nebraska @ A&M (Pick) - I guess I'm an A&M hater, but I don't get it. How is this game down to pick? Who have they beaten? Well, they aren't beating the Cornhuskers, not even at Kyle Field. I will take Nebraska, and I don't think it's close.

Tennessee @ Arkansas (-6) - Redneck Game of the Week? While Arkansas isn't really the Deep South (at least not to me), I think it probably is. Both teams are working in new QBs this week, so it's likely to be a messy one. Tennessee keeps disappointing me, so I'd lay the points. And look forward to halftime, when the bands have a showdown, both playing Roger Miller's Chug A Lug at top volume while the fans try to polish off their Mason jars fulla 'shine.

Georgia @ Auburn (-12) - This ought to be Redneck Game of the Week, except Georgia is truly showing it's a** this year. Sorry, Johnny G., your Dawgs suck. I like Auburn by about 20.

Texas Tech @ Oklahoma (-9) - I made a promise not to bet against Bob Stoops for the rest of the year, and I won't, even though 9 points makes me a bit queasy.

Texas @ K St (+16) - I keep waiting for Colt McCoy to play like a redshirt freshman. He hasn't done it yet, and there's no reason to think he will against sorry Kansas State. I'm gonna keep going Burnt Orange (which I readily admit is the worst color this side of the old Tampa Bay Buc's day-glo) until they make me regret it.

Boston University vs. the latest fare increase on the T - What do they think this is? New York?

Pros

Chargers (-1) @ Cincinnati - I really tried to get on the Bengals' bandwagon earlier in the season. I have no idea what's gone wrong there, but something clearly has. Give me the latter-day LT to have a big ol' honkin' day.

Baltimore (-7) @ Tennessee - Think Mr. McNair has a thing or two to prove to the Titans? The jury is still out on Vince Young. I still think he's a failed bit in the pros, but time will tell. I'm giving up a lot of points this week, but I have to go Ravens here.

New Orleans @ Pittsburgh (-4.5) - I still want to believe in the Saints, and Pittsburgh's wheels are so off. I think I'm going to regret this one, but give me New Orleans.

Washington @ Philadelphia (-7) - I think both of these teams suck, but I sure like Donovan McNab vs. geezing Mark Brunell. Seven points is a lot here, but I'll lay it.

Chicago @ NYG (-1) - Chicago, maybe a bit over-rated? Their defense is great, but what, exactly, has Rex Grossman ever done? This should be a good game, and I'm leaning towards the Giants.

Dallas (-7) @ Arizona - While I'll be pulling for the Cardinals (can you IMAGINE how much fun the Dark Side post will be if the Cowboys lose here?), there is NO WAY I would EVER bet on them. Why does Denny Green keep getting jobs? What has he ever done? There's talent on this Cardinal team, but they need a new coach and a total karma transplant. It makes my teeth hurt to say this, but give me the Cowboys.

Comedic Value Game of the Week - San Fran @ Detroit - The schedule makers must have laughed themselves silly when they lined this one up. The real reason Ford is failing now? They put their name on the Lion's stadium. God doles out punishment of the highest order to those who support crappy teams.

Go (insert your team here)!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Argentina vs. Iran - Update

As mentioned here a few weeks ago, Argentina has formally charged Iran and Hezbollah with a 1994 Buenos Aires bombing. The explosion killed 85 people at the Jewish Community Center in the Argentine capital.

The latest news from this case: Argentina has issued an arrest warrant for former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was in office at the time of the bombing, along with 8 other former Iranian government officials.

Not surprisingly, Iran is dismissing the warrants, stating they are part of a "Zionist plot." They may not be original, but they are consistent.

I still don't think this will go anywhere, but I give the Argentines full credit for trying.

Decent piece on Robert Gates

Slate has an interesting piece on new Secretary of Defense (assuming he's confirmed, and it sounds like a no-brainer he will), Robert Gates.

Gates is longtime CIA, coming up through the analyst ranks. He sounds like a uniter, rather than a divider. That's probably what we need right now.

The ultimate "just in case"

If you're terrifed of accidentally being buried alive, here's the coffin for you. It's got an alarm built in, just in case the doc screws up and you awaken at the bottom of a hole.

As Forrest Gump might say: Good. That's one less thing.

We keep getting smarter, right up to when we go off to college

In today's email version of Boston University's student newspaper, the Daily Free Press (or the "Freep" as we called it back in the day) has a front-page article about a pedestrian and bicycle safety event held on the busy, in-town campus yesterday.

I think my kids' grade school puts on exactly the same event for the 6 year olds.

Of course, from what I can remember of college, this is entirely appropriate.

Democratic Congress' agenda

Here's what you have to look forward to in January.

BTW - this is a joke. At least, most of it is. I think.

Domestic politics quick hits

I make no claims to be a political expert. But, what the heck, I make no claims to be an expert of any kind, yet I've been posting on this silly blog for over a year now. So, obviously, credentials, at least my own, don't mean just a whole lot to me.

With that said, I wanted to weigh in regarding the momentous domestic political events of the week. Tuesday's elections have obviously wrought enormous changes on the national and local fronts (although, it must be said, not so much at the state level in Texas). Everyone's got some opinions on recent happenings. Here are mine.

On the national level, this shift was probably overdue. If the Dems had fielded a better presidential candidate than John "I'm So Out of Touch, I Can't Even Correctly Tell a Joke to a Tame Audience" Kerry in 2004, there might well have been a Democratic sweep in that election. However, they didn't and the electorate had to wait another two years.

The Iraq war is clearly the galvanizing issue, probably the most galvanizing issue since Vietnam, and the level of Republican bungling here is staggering. We (the collective "we") have managed to piss away the good will of the entire world for not much, if any, return. On Sept 12th, 2001, the US, and George W. Bush, had more moral authority on the world stage than any nation or leader since at least 1918, and probably more than anyone, anywhere, ever. And look where we are now.

Tragic. Reprehensible. The biggest wasted opportunity in the history of the world, and that's not mere hyperbole. Name a bigger one.

I probably should remind you that I am a Republican.

So, 5+ years down the road, we are where we are, and it comes as no surprise the Republicans have lost both Houses of Congress. Deservedly so.

The President reacted in a way which surprised me. The firing of Rumsfeld was the right thing to do, and the right response to Tuesday's GOP debacle. It indicated, to me at least, the President is willing to listen a bit, work towards the center a bit. These are signs we've not seen since he left Austin. If I'm reading it correctly, this is encouraging as heck. Those traits, listening and working towards the center, were the traits GWB displayed as Governor, and were the traits which made him a very good Governor. They are the traits I thought I was voting for back in 2000.

I don't know what the answer is in Iraq. But I feel better about us moving towards an answer now than I have in quite some time.

At the state level, at least in Texas, it's status quo and no surprise there. Rick Perry, who seems to think he's gonna be a Vice Presidential candidate in 2008, is not much of a Governor, but his opposition was far too fragmented to pose a serious threat. With no Carol Strayhorn in the race, and no time-waste from Kinky Friedman, Chris Bell might have had enough to pull it off. However, with the anti-Perry crowd pulled in three different directions, Governor Good-Hair was left with a clear path back to office.

On the local level, at least in Dallas (which is not where I vote), there were HUGE changes. Dallas has been a conservative, business-oriented city forever, but that is changing. The main reason for the change, and the Democrats resounding victory, in my opinion, is the completely-out-of-control crime rate and the seemingly non-stop series of scandals and foul ups coming out of the Dallas Police Dept, DISD, and the Dallas City Council. I think people looked at their ballots, saw lots of incumbent Republicans in the DA's office, in courtrooms, and in other positions of authority, and those people said to themselves, "Well, whatever they're doing, it ain't working", so they just voted the other way.

So, all this leaves us at a major turning point both nationally and locally. Can the Dems capitalize on their new status? Can we make some constructive progress towards solving some of the problems we face? I dunno, but it was clearly time for a change, and change brings opportunity.

It's a start.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Another blog worth reading

Jim Allchin, longtime head honcho of the Windows group at Microsoft (and, therefore, one of the top 10 most powerful people in tech) has started to blog. One assumes that, with Vista about to RTM and his own January retirement date approaching, he finally has found the time.

This is another one to keep an eye on. His unfortunate name aside (Allchin? Tragic.), this guy is no dummy.

Office 2007 RTMs

Last Friday, the fine folks at Microsoft officially released the Office 2007 suite to manufacturing. What that means in regular-folk-speak: The product is complete and is being pressed onto CDs right now. Business customers will get it VERY soon (like within the next two weeks), while the general public will get it early in 2007.

And, by the way, Jim Rapoza from eWeek Micorosoft Watch gets it absolutely right when he points out that SharePoint (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 or MOSS) is the biggest piece of a very big pie. MOSS is really the base technology which the entire release revolves around.

If you're looking to get into the Micorosoft Partner-o-sphere, I would STRONGLY suggest you immerse yourself in MOSS. And, once you're an expert, give me a ring - I'll just bet we'll have a spot for you here at Catapult Systems.

One last addition: Vista has gone gold as well. That happened today.

There're gonna be some parties in Redmond tonight!


The good news (not) continues in Israel

Talk about your basic headline that says it all:

"Hamas Directs Mujahideen to Resume Suicide Bombings Throughout Israel"

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tales from the dark side: QB? Hey! Rest of team? Oy vey!


What a delicious Sunday - Redskins 22 - Cowboys 19 turned a drizzly, grey day in the DFW Metroplex of Love into a more drizzly, grey day. The emotional swing experienced by the sheep during that last 35 seconds was thunderous. Who among us has ever seen a game lost, won, then lost again so quickly and on so many plays involving annoying little kickers?

What went wrong at FedEx Field for the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon? Maybe a better question is: What went right?

There was more than a bit that actually did go right.

· Romo was not bad, and, while I still have a hard time believing the undrafted guy from 1-AA is the next great Cowboy QB, he’s done practically everything you could ask in two full games.
· Julius Jones was not bad.
· The O line was, shockingly, not bad.
· Um, I think that pretty much does it.

What went wrong? Pull up a chair, amigo.

The "Doomsday III" defense made creaky, geezing Mark Brunell look like his younger, All-Pro self. Clinton Portis was effective as well. Don’t get me wrong; the 'Skins' offense was certainly not the reincarnation of Air Coryell. But they were a lot more effective than they've been recently.

The Redskins’ entire starting 11 on offense ought to send Williams, Ferguson, Ware, and Co. a giant "Thank You" bouquet from ProFlowers, along with 150 lbs of chocolates. Has one defense ever allowed more has-been offensive players to resurrect their careers? The NFLPA ought to make the Cowboys' defense part of the mental health benefits in the pension plan. Feeling unworthy? Play these guys. You'll feel better right away.
This defense, which was, at the beginning of the season, predicted to conquer the galaxy, is bad. Really bad. The corners seem to be holding their own, but that’s it. No pass rush (it looks like the pre-Charles Haley days out there) and a depth chart full of safeties who have no business attempting to cover NFL receivers mean no Cowboy lead is safe, no opponent comeback is too outrageous, and poor Brad Sham is likely to retire Bob and Dan’s Homer Call of the Week.

And, just to pour some salt in the wound, let me remind you this is the defense which has been the beneficiary of the lion’s share of recent high draft picks and big-buck free agent signings.

Did someone mention free agents? As long as we’re on the subject, we have to mention the biggest free agent of them all – Mr. TO Owens. The guys is entertaining, and he’s got the kind of ability, well, I don’t even know what to say about it. He’s a superior physical specimen, no doubt.

One thing he is not, however, is a great wide receiver. He’s a very good wide receiver, but he is not great. The reason? He’s got two cement blocks for hands. You know what, TO? If you want to be considered w/ Rice and Irvin and Largent and the other greats at your position, you HAVE GOT TO MAKE THAT CATCH!!! And, until you stop dropping critical passes at critical times, you’ve got no right to run your mouth about anything, no right to sleep in offensive meetings, and no right to cost your team 15 yards by performing skits in the end zone (even if they are funny).

Special teams? Dreadful. Mat McBriar had his worst game as a Cowboy. By a bunch. Coverage? Not so much. And Ace Vanderjagt, the multi-millionaire kicker who was supposed to be the surest thing since Nicolette Sheridan, gets his 35 yard game winner blocked (I’m not ready to completely hang this one on him – Troy Vincent was in the backfield about the same time Romo put the ball down).

And just how does the Pear Shaped Football Genius, a coach who supposedly stresses discipline and avoiding stupid mistakes, how does he explain 11 penalties for more than 150 yards? That’s the biggest penalty burden incurred by a Cowboy team since the 1970’s (when, it must be noted, they were coached by another coach who stressed discipline and avoiding stupid mistakes).

So, here you are, Cowboy sheep. Your new QB looks very promising, amazingly so. You’ve got a running game. Those are all facts. What else have you got? An over-rated defense, underperforming special teams, and a $10 million receiver who appears to get pre-game Novocain shots in his hands. And, you’ve got a 4-4 record to go along with your three division losses.

And now, you’re off to Phoenix for a date in the new palace with the lowly Cardinals. Ready to call that a "sure win"? Didn’t think so.

It still says 6-10 here, baby. Quote me.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Insane Mavs pregame show - highly recommended

Do yourself and your country a favor, and tune in to KTXA Channel 21 at 6:30 on Saturday night. To quote the boys themselves:
The Ben and Skin Show is kind of like SNL meets the Mavericks meets the fake
mustache meets The Ticket meets another fake mustache that's even more fake...
it's hard to explain... just watch this behind the scenes footage (courtesy of
the mysterious Quan Lee) and you'll get the drift:


Hugo Chavez may have anger management issues

Funny. Maybe a bit too literary, but funny.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Football Friday - Tony Romo Looks Just Like My Nephew (age 5) Edition



I swear to God, Romo looks exactly like my 5-year-old nephew. It's sorta surreal. I expect to see him running around in a pair of yellow Crocs every time I see him.

Well, never mind that. We've got us some football games to pick. And we have a lot of ground to make up from last week's 4-8 disaster. Onward!

Colleges

Texas @ OK St (+17) - The Texas defense is showing some a** lately. I think the 'Horn offense is good for a bunch of points - Colt McCoy may wind up being one of the great Texas QBs before he's done. But that defense - I dunno. I think I'd go with the points this week.

Ball St (+38.5) @ Michigan - So, I guess the trick is to schedule your patsies later in the season. Michigan will wipe out Ball St, just like Texas did Sam Houston State a while back. The difference is Michigan won't go into free-fall in the polls because it's too late to penalize them. Everyone paying attention? BTW - I'll take Michigan, although I hate like HELL giving up all those points.

Mississippi St (+15) @ Alabama - Waaaahoooooo! The Redneck Game of the Week is right here, baby! Every time Alabama scores, you're supposed to kiss your sister. Every time Mississippi St scores, you're supposed to kiss your girlfriend. And you can see this punchline coming from 10 miles away, so I won't bother. Give me the Crimson Tide here.

Florida (+12.5) @ Middle Tennessee - This has GOT to be a misprint in the Thurs DMN. Jump on it, man!

Oklahoma @ A&M (+3) - The Aggies are 8-1, but that is the fakest 8-1 in the nation. Oklahoma surprised the you-know-what out of me last week. I should know better than to bet against the superior sports brain of Bob Stoops. Sorry, Coach. It won't happen again.

Boston University vs. the horrible Astro-Turf at Nickerson Field - The worst turf burn of my life came on that damn lousy rug in the spring of 1984. My leg still stings from it. I can't imagine getting drilled into it by 5 200-lb guys on a rainy, 35 degree December Saturday. Maybe that's the real reason BU killed football?

Pros

Indianapolis (+3) @ New England - Game of the Week. Zowie, this should be good. Peyton and Colts killed the Pats last year. I kinda don't think so this year (well, to be honest, I didn't think so last year either). Go Pats!

Cleveland (+12.5) @ Chargers - I don't know why, but when I think of this game, I immediately think of the great Curt Gowdy. Don't ask. Point spreads over 10 always get my attention in the NFL. I don't like Cleveland, but I do like the points.

New Orleans @ Tampa Bay (+1) - Give me New Orleans. I still want to believe.

Cincinnati (+3) @ Baltimore - What has happened to the Bengals? I really thought they had found something. The Raven defense is looking fairly scary, and this is no place to try to get your offensive wheels back on. I'm gonna lay the points. Go Baltimore. Whee.

Dallas @ Washington (+3) - As mentioned in Monday's Dark Side post (a stellar piece of insightful analysis, if you haven't read it), with this Cowboy team, despair is only a week away. I think despair checks back in at Valley Ranch. Since Joe Gibbs remembered he has Clinton Portis, the Redskins' offense is showing life again.

Comedic Value Game of the Week - Packers @ Buffalo is the funniest game on the slate this week. What do you think - 20,000 in the stands? I might take the under on that.

Go (insert your team here)!

Iranian Holocaust Cartoon-Fest update

The results are in and a Moroccan cartoonist won first prize in Iran's happy little Holocaust Cartoon Contest. The contest, mentioned here a few months ago, was run in Iran's best-selling daily newspaper, Hamshahri.

The cartoon, reprinted below (I hope no Jews come to burn down my house or decapitate me with swords), earned Abdellah Derkaoui the $12,000 first prize. That ought to buy him a few dozen swastika T shirts, and maybe an Ayatollah Khomenei-autographed copy of the Quran.

Well, fair's fair, I guess. If those damn racist Danes can inflame the peaceful Islamic faithful around the world by printing a horribly derogatory series of Mohammed cartoons, the certainly the thoughtful, non-reactionary, equal-opportunity, give-peace-a-chance Iranians can print delightful, humorous artwork gently poking fun at the mythical murder of 6,000,000 Jews. Right?

Wait, did that come out right?


AT&T NFL promo – a bit creepy?

I’ve been hearing the ads for AT&T’s latest NFL promotion, and it’s got me a bit creeped out.

Probably, you’ve heard it as well – it’s the one where you get to take online tours of the homes of various NFL players past and present. Roy Williams of the Cowboys, Deion, AJ Hawk, and some others are participating.

I guess this is appealing to some folks. MTV Cribs is (or was) pretty big and did basically the same thing. But, I gotta tell you, it sorta weirds me out

Why on Earth am I supposed to be so impressed with Deion Sanders that I need to see what his backyard looks like? Am I going to learn something profound by getting a look at Roy Williams’ taste in kitchen d├ęcor?

Would you be interested in seeing inside the home of the custodian at your kid’s elementary school? That guy/gal has more of a daily impact on your kid’s life than AJ Hawk. How about the housekeeping habits of the dude/dudette who rings up your groceries or mixes your latte? A mistake made by that person probably has more direct impact on you than a blown coverage by Roy Williams.

If you were to take this much interest in the average, spare dude or chick, you’d find yourself on the receiving end of a restraining order pretty quickly. If you tried to get this kind of look at their living quarters, you’d probably find yourself a guest of the state for five-to-seven.

I’m all for being a fan, and for watching what these guys are capable of on the field. But this sort of hero-worship has always made me uncomfortable.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Life in Israel - I don't know how they do it

The following passage was in an email I received today from the Jewish National Fund. While clearly not written by a Madison Ave copywriter, it does a good job of evoking life in modern, recent Israel.

Remember, Israel is a First World country in every sense of the word. Israelis enjoy outstanding educational and cultural opportunities, thriving hi-tech and medical fields, true democracy, and a host of other freedoms just like us lucky folks in the US.

Now, for just a moment, imagine your comfortable American life being interrupted by thousands of artillery shells, rockets, and unguided missiles falling all around you, day after day, for weeks at a time.

That's part of what it's like to be an Israeli.

The Negev and The North

Imagine for a moment that you are in Israel during the summer months. A
prolonged and dangerous hail of rockets forces the neighborhood into underground
bunkers. You and your family are plagued by a combination of fear, boredom and
uncertainty, will it ever end. Then there is a knock at the door, and on the
other side of that door is relief.

JNF/KKL provided relief towards bunker bound families to provide peace
of mind during a time when there was very little peace to go around. The Jewish
National Fund extended a hand to families willing to send their children away
for three days to a week at a JNF camp.

JNF took on two roles; one was to whisk children, with parental
permission, away from the danger and down to summer camp at the JNF's Negev
facilities in Ness Harim, the Alex Muss Institute and more.

The Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education, a recently minted
partner of Jewish National Fund converted their facilities to receive children
from both the Negev desert and Northern Israel.

In the adventurous outdoor camps they hiked, swam and a made a return
to normality. More than 10,000 children tasted air free from worry, and returned
to their families with smiles ready to brighten the darkest bunker.

Tal Hazan, age 16, had this to say about the camps, "At home we just
sit around all day and wait for the siren to go off or for a rocket to fall.
It's great to get away from it all for a while and spend some time here, in the
quietest place on earth."

But JNF's work was not done with the summer camps. Though many camp
participants shared 12 year-old Ella Nahman sentiments, "After two weeks here
we're feeling pretty homesick, but this is certainly better than being in the
shelter the whole time," many more chose to remain with their families.

With that in mind JNF undertook a program to beautify the shelters,
with the help of artist and sculptor Rafi Asaraf, who himself lives on the
northern border in Kibbutz Eylon. Traveling nearly deserted roads to reach his
destination he found both adults and children clamoring for a creative outlet.
"It was a real thrill. My only regret is that I didn't take a video camera with
me. My role was to draw the general outlines on the wall, and then the children
were guided into painting in the colors and details. At each place the kids drew
a lively, optimistic picture, each one bursting with life and hopefulness. And
the children were so excited, it was really touching."
While fires raged
outside in the forests and groves, inside he created idealized landscapes with
the children, painting the landscapes just as they had looked until recently and
exactly as everyone hopes they will look again one day, with JNF-KKL's
help.