Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Daily YouTube: Four days in the life of Pizza Hut Park

Last Thursday evening, I took the kids to see FC Dallas play the New England Revolution in a MLS game. On Saturday night, Jimmy Buffett played a concert for his obnoxious fans, followed on Sunday by EdgeFest.

Here, in 110 seconds of time-lapse, is the entire four-day period, with a snazzy soundtrack to boot.

Well, I think it's cool...

I love this dude

Behold the world's dumbest human. Charles Ray Fuller, a 21-year old complete idiot from Crowley TX, tried to cash a $360,000,000,000 check the other day.

Count those zeros. That's $360 BILLION.

The teller at the Chase bank got a little suspicious and called to verify the amount. The woman who supposedly wrote the check to fund Fuller's new record company denied having written it.

Shockingly, Fuller also had a gun and a bag of dope with him when he was arrested. And he seems like such a fine, upstanding young man...

That's all she wrote...

Welp, see ya...

Once, we loved you Avery. But it's a cruel, cruel sports world.

Adios. Vaya con dios. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

I take no pleasure from this. I think Avery is a fine human. He may wind up being a great NBA coach. But it was over here. This had to happen...

Sportsville update: Way up and way down

The news from Sportsville today is more bad than good. However, the good is so good that I think it outweighs the more abundant, but less surprising, bad.

On the bad side of the ledger, we have the little Mavericks and the inconsequential Rangers, both of whom lost last night.

The Rangers, dropping ever further from the realm of the relevant, lost to Kansas City (Kansas City!) 9-5. This puts them at 9-18 for the season thus far, the worst record in baseball. Oh, and they also lost another starter (Jason Jennings) to injury.

Can we just forfeit the rest of the season now?

For my part, I will not venture into the confines of the Ballpark (unless Ed invites us to join his fam in the suite again; I'll make an exception for that) for the duration. I may even swear off games on TV, except I don't know what else I'll do on a random mid-July Tuesday night.

God, they are terrible.

The little Mavs completed their third giant choke in as many years, losing Game 5 to New Orleans 99-94 and dropping the first-round series three games to one. It is clear to everyone that drastic changes are necessary. The really bad news is the Mavs total lack of options, mostly as a result of giving up half the roster and two of the next three first-round draft picks in the (now-obviously failed) J. Kidd trade.

It's always hard to say what Cuban will do, but the vote here is trade anyone and everyone who can bring any sort of future return. Blow the thing up completely, get some expiring contracts (or, better yet, draft picks), suck for a couple of years, and start over. This includes Dirk.

And there is no way Avery is back.

Thinking back to the halcyon days of June 2006, didn't we all think the Mavs were a dynasty in the making? Didn't we all think, "So what if they choked against Miami? They'll be back!"? I sure did.

What a disappointment.

We like to finish on a positive here at CIT, so let's move to the most positive of all, the biggest, most pleasant surprise of all: your Dallas Stars.

A 2-1 OT win over San Jose last night gives the Stars a death-grip on the second-round series with a 3-0 lead. Our boys withstood the expected San Jose everything-but-the-kitchen-sink onslaught in the first two periods and emerged down only 1-0, due primarily to Marty Turco's continued larceny (thanks, Razor) in goal.

Once the third period started, the Stars took over the game. Zubov's seeing-eye liner from the point on a power play tied it, and unlikely hero Matty Norstrom scored on a weird and wonderful mis-directed pass four and a half minutes into OT to win it. Brendan Morrow continued to play like a man possessed, hitting everything in teal, and Mike Ribeiro found more hockey wizardry in his bag - is he the greatest 170 lb player in this generation?

A sweep is now possible, and, while I expect the Sharks to win Game 4, I don't discount the chance of confetti raining down from the rafters of the AAC tonight either.

The bad news is the Stars are all we've got this summer. The good news is they are earning the respect and attention in all the right ways.

Go Stars!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Oil, again: Pemex, the left, and why we should care

As a follow-up to yesterday's post about $10/gallon gasoline, this morning's DMN business page has a column by Jim Landers regarding the condition and immediate future of Mexico's state-owned oil monopoly, Pemex.

Pemex is, in short, a disaster. At a time when the Mexican government should be rolling in tax pesos from it's abundant oil reserves, Pemex, which is the only company allowed to drill for and extract Mexican oil, can't find the resources to buy equipment or hire people. Years of mismanagement and lack of incentive have made it essentially impossible for Pemex, as it exists now, to drill in deep water in the Gulf, which is where any new production is going to come from.

President Felipe Calderón , who is fighting an uphill battle in so many areas, recently introduced legislation intended to start modernizing Pemex and make it competitive again. This legislation stops well short of allowing anyone else into the market - Pemex is a state-sponsored monopoly and is going to stay that way. But Calderón is at least attempting to get it moving, so that Mexico can start to realize the benefits of being an energy producer in this insane energy market.

But, this is Mexico, where no pro-business idea, no matter how good, gets by the rabid left unscathed.

Opposition leader Andres Manuel López Obrador, the man who narrowly lost the Presidential election to Calderón a few years ago and who nearly destroyed the country by refusing to concede, immediately shut down the legislature to protest. His claim: Calderón is trying to give away Mexico's sovereignty.

And you thought only college football fans could knee jerk that hard.

López Obrador, who never met a microphone he didn't like, has used the proposed legislation to propel himself back into the spotlight as the leader of the always-vocal opposition. But he really cares for the people of Mexico, don'tcha know?

I know, I know. Everyone does it. And I shouldn't let it exasperate me the way it does. But it just drains my life force the way politics gets in the way of actually getting things accomplished so often. López Obrador, like politicians of every stripe in every country, is, of course, FAR more interested in keeping his smiling mug on page one than he is in spreading Mexico's oil wealth among the people.

So, why do we care if Mexico can't get it's bleep together? Its not like this is new, right?

Did you know the US gets more if its oil from Mexico than anywhere else besides Canada and Saudi Arabia? Wouldn't you rather buy oil from Mexico than, say, Iran? Wouldn't our dough, if it's going to have to go out the door, be better spent in Mexico than in Russia, Sudan, or Venezuela? If the Mexicans can produce more, I'm all for buying it from them rather than (insert name of your favorite petro-fascist here). Conversely, if Mexican production continues to fall (and it has fallen dramatically since Pemex was nationalized), we're, at least for now, going to have to buy more from people who want us dead.

I really feel for the people of Mexico. They have been crapped on for centuries, and the people who claim to be looking out for them now are the worst kinds of demagogues; people who are far more interested in preserving their power than they are in actually doing something for their country and for the people the profess to care about.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Possible: $10/gallon gas?

The New York Sun runs an op/ed today speculating on the possibility of $10/gallon gas. With oil floating around the $120/barrel mark, Dan Dorfman poses the theory that $200/barrel is not out of the question, and it may happen sooner than you'd like.

Among reasons stated: Falling production in Nigeria and Mexico, massively increased global demand thanks to our friends in India and China, and the ever-present Russian Roulette played in the Middle East. Not even mentioned in the piece is the potential impact of a Gulf hurricane this summer. We've got off easy the past two years, but it's always a possibility.

Dorfman mentions that $7-$10/gallon gas in the US would merely bring us in line w/ what the Euros have been paying for years. That may be, but the shock here would be profound.

I say bring it. While $3.50/gallon gas is hurting us here at the CIT compound, and filling Mrs. Curmudgeon's land yacht now costs about $85, I still say this kind of spike is the only thing that's going to cause real progress on alternatives. And an alternative to oil, once we can manage to make it available enough to have an impact, is the cure for a great deal of what ails us. I've only been saying this since 2005. It'd be about time.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Someone has time on his hands

From Gordon Keith, whom you would think is too busy for this sort of nonesense. It seemed appropriate to post these on Draft Day...

Saturday morning funny fun-fun

"If Celebrities Moved to Oklahoma" - frighteningly accurate, methinks...

Happy day in Sportsville

The DFW Metroplex of Love awakens this morning, some of us earlier than others, to the best sports news its seen in some time.

Everyone won last night. I have no idea when that last happened. I wouldn't even venture a guess.

The ridiculous Rangers found a little something, coming back from a 5-0 deficit against Minnesota to win 6-5 in 10 innings. Never mind that Hank Blalock hurt himself again (I'm sorry, but how the hell do these guys get hurt so often playing this game? Maybe I'm an idiot, but it sure seems like, if you keep yourself fit and flexible, you should never get hurt playing BASEBALL!). Never mind that the "brain" trust of Ryan, Daniels, and Hicks (stop laughing!) met earlier in the day to discuss this team's complete failure thus far and left the meeting with nothing new. Never mind the total absence of any semblance of hope for this year or the near-term future. Never mind all that. The Rangers frickin' won. 'Nuff said.

The little Mavericks were, for one night at least, not so little. Avery's wife must have hit him with a frying pan to get him to realize what everyone else in town saw about 90 seconds into Game 1 - Jason Terry was in the starting lineup in front of ancient, creaky Jerry Stackhouse, and was actually able to slow down Chris Paul. Other defensive responsibilities were shifted as well, and the Mavs throttled the Hornets 97-87. It was the kind of convincing win that makes you think this may yet be a series.

I just wonder why Josh Howard chose yesterday to make his poorly-timed, but not-especially-surprising, statement about his dope smoking. He's just one of many weed-smokers in the NBA (and on Planet Earth, for that matter), and who really gives a crap or is even slightly surprised? But I don't know why we need to be discussing this in the midst of the playoffs. And it's not like his stellar play gives him all kinds of latitude to be making nutty statements like this. Howard needs to shut up and work on his move to the basket.

And out in San Jose, the Stars won Game 1 of their Western Conference semi-final series with the Sharks 3-2 in OT. The Stars had no business winning this game. San Jose really was the superior team. However, the Stars did enough on offense to make Marty Turco's super-human effort worthwhile. Make no mistake, Turco stole this game for his team. And, boy, does it feel good to write that last sentence! There is a long, long way to go, and I'm trying not to get too wild and crazy here, but the way is open this year for Turco to silence every critic he's ever had.

Fellow sports, let's enjoy this rarest of confluences all day today. I expect to see nothing but smiles and nods today. I expect everyone to hold doors for each other, yield the right of way when they should, and pick up stray trash on the street. Let's make it a great day to be fans in Sportsville!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

We should have known...

And while we're we're exercising the "Goofy" tag, here's the greatest error screen ever in the history of ever. Read closely...

Now this is just disrespectful...

Dick Cheney walks into the Oval Office and sees The President whooping and hollering.

"What's the matter, Mr. President?" the Vice President inquired.

"Nothing at all, boss. I just done finished a jigsaw puzzle in record time!" the President beamed.

"How long did it take you?"

"Well, the box said '3 to 5 Years' but I did it in a month!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mavericks: Is it over yet?

The Mavericks got destroyed by New Orleans last night 127 - 103. And, brother, it wasn't that close.

Where do we even start on this thing?

Avery's defensive "plan" for slowing down superstar-in-the-making Chris Paul (why do the Mavs always seem to run up against the "superstar-in-making"? Remember D-Wade's coming out party in the 2006 Finals?) was ineffective, to put it mildly. How does 32-17-5 grab you? That was Paul's line. Sound like the defense was clamping down on him?

The rest of the Hornets' line-up looked like the Harlem Globetrotters as well, throwing up circus shots from all over the floor and giggling like schoolgirls. And why not? It's got to be fun to completely have your way with a playoff opponent on national TV. Except TNT got as bored as everyone else and bailed on the game in the fourth quarter.

Dirk and Brandon Bass played like the game meant something. They were alone in their effort. Why is Avery so resistant to putting Kidd and Terry on the floor together? Stackhouse, God bless him, has NOTHING. By the time Avery got Terry on the court with Kidd, it was waaaayyyy too late.

And can we say a bit about Josh Howard? I hear from some quarters that he is hurt. I hope so. I hope he has an excuse for the way he's played the last few months. He appears clueless out there - unable to drive or post up, and unable to shoot from outside, he is killing this team.

For the first time ever, I really wonder if Dirk isn't looking around and thinking to himself, "Screw this. I am never going to win anything with this bunch of head cases. I need to get myself out of here."

I wouldn't blame him, if he is.

Well, whatever. The Mavericks season has a shelf life of two more games. I hope these clowns sack up and show a little fight. Last night was awful.

Oh, and the Rangers got killed again last night. By the Tigers, who broke the tie they were in with the Rangers for the worst record in the AL.

Go Stars. Please.

Daily YouTube: So sad. So true.

Reinforcing my belief that my life has a soundtrack...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Brazilian priest carried away by party balloons

Rev. Adelir Antonio de Carli of Brazil strapped himself into a chair tied to hundreds of party balloons and floated away. He was trying to raise money for a spiritual truck stop (WHAT?) in rural Brazil and hoped to set a new record for party-balloon-assisted flight. At last report he was headed out to sea. Rescue crews are looking for him.

Now, let's have a quick vote for the craziest sentence in the paragraph above. The winner may well be all of them.

I think the following video has additional details, but my Portuguese is not what it used to be...

The Fail Blog

Priceless. Go check it out.

Rangers: It's happening again

Your Texas Rangers are headed for the cellar again. Today's debacle was as ugly an 8-3 loss (to the Red Sox, who completed the four-game sweep) as you'll ever see, with another pitching and fielding implosion occurring in the 4th inning.

This team has shown an absolutely life-force-draining ineptitude in the field, at the plate with runners in scoring position, and in the bullpen. The only race which appears to hold any interest for the rest of this season appears to be which number will be the largest: wins, errors, or bullpen ERA.

I wanted to be a Jon Daniels fan. I wanted to be a Ron Washington fan. I tried. Really. I can't do it. Both of these guys need to be fired right now. You can replace them, on an interim basis, with Abbott and Costello, Harold and Kumar, or biscuits and gravy. I don't care. It's obvious this season is gone (in April, for God's sake). Get me someone to blow this thing to itty-bitty pieces and rebuild from the farm up.

I hate being a baseball fan.

Daily YouTube: Remember this?

I know, I know, I'm getting WAAAYYY ahead of myself. But I just thought I'd remind you of that very, very late night in the early summer of 1999, when the Stars gave us something to really get excited about...

A beautiful day in Stars-land

So starved are we for Dallas-area sports success, we are positively giddy about the Stars' first-round victory over the defending Stanley Cup-champ Ducks.

Really, though, this was a remarkable series win for the Stars, regardless of the near-precedent setting of it. Even though it's been nearly two years since one our teams (in ANY sport) made it out of the first round, the Stars' triumph would be worth getting excited about no matter what has been going on around it.

These were the big, experienced, tough, defending-champ Ducks. Pronger, Neidermaier and Neidermayer, Selanne, Bertuzzi, Perry, and that Giguere guy; not a team to be taken lightly.

And what did the Stars have to counter? How about Zubov and Boucher out with injuries, three rookies on the blue line, an offense which was having trouble finding the back of the net down the regular season stretch, and the indecipherable grey matter between Marty Turco's ears. A recipe for trouble?

Well, no, as it turns out.

Who could have predicted the steadiness (with some minor lapses, of course) of Niskanen, Fistric, and Grossman? Did you foresee the major step-up taken by Trevor Daley? Or the grittiness of Robidas? The defensive corps of this team was, without question, the surprise of the series.

Goals from all over were a pleasant surprise as well. Stu Barnes is playing like he's 24 again. Ribeiro continues to amaze - the guy must weigh 170 in full pads, so how is he able to get to the net against monsters like Pronger and Neidermayer? Erickson and Lundqvist, where did they come from? I love Modano, but who can deny that Morrow is 5 times the captain Mo was?

And then there's Turco. He didn't look great throughout the series, but he certainly looked good with flashes of great. Does this finally get the monkey off his back? I hope so. I want to be a fan of this guy, but he hasn't made it easy up until now. I'd love to see him succeed and shut his critics the heck up.

So, what's next? Well, we have to wait and see who the opponent is going to be, of course. Either San Jose or Colorado are going to be tough. But, the Stars just knocked off the champs. You have to feel good going on to Round 2. I sure do.

Go Stars!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Stars: Officially on the bandwagon

It ain't over yet, but 2:00 left, the Stars are beating Anaheim 3-1. As promised, I am now officially on the playoff bandwagon.

How far can a team playing three rookie defensemen go? I don't know, but I am digging it! Bring on the second round!

Mavericks: Uh oh

The Dallas Mavericks' 2008 playoff run did not get off to a good start in New Orleans last night. Up by 8 at the half, the Mavs fell apart completely in the second half, let Chris Paul run wild on them, and generally looked terrible in losing 104-92.

As with the Stars (currently losing Game 6 to Anaheim, 1-0 at the second intermission), I refuse to hop on the bandwagon until the team makes it out of Round 1. I have more faith in the Stars (although it's fading) than I do in the Mavs.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Daily YouTube: Spongebob silliness

Classic movie scenes done with voices from Spongebob dubbed in. So wrong, but a giggle.

Spongebob dubs Videofunny video

Humans are awesome

Two recent stories substantiate the above headline:

1. Joshua Christopherson, a sales manager at Prosper Inc. recently waterboarded one of his salesmen in an effort to motivate his team. The salesman is, not surprisingly, suing the company. Prosper doesn't refute the claim the waterboarding happened, only that it wasn't so bad and Chad Hudgens, the salesman, is a whiny little female-naughty-bit for complaining.

2. Brigadier General Ali Reza Zarei, police chief of Tehran and lead enforcer of Iran's strict, Islamic dress code, was recently arrested while in the company of six naked prostitutes. Shockingly, there has been no mention of the incident in any of the official Iranian press.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bonus YouTube: Goal-tender; more difficult than it looks

Look for some Stars blogging soon. I'm waiting for them to get out of Round 1 before I jump on any bandwagons.

In the meanwhile, here's a primer on the the difficulties of playing netminder in the NHL.

Daily YouTube: Guys like sports

You know, I can see some of the Yankee fans I've known actually reacting like this.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bonus YouTube: A country (and I mean COUNTRY) music giggle

From the vault, courtesy of my friend Jim, here's Lester "Roadhog" Moran and his Cadillac Cowboys doing more damage to country music in two minutes and 15 seconds than all those clowns in tight t-shirts and big hats could in a lifetime.

Daily YouTube: F1 engines generate a bit of heat

From my friend Mark: An Arrows F1 engine, a rich mixture, a bit of throttle, and you get one heck of a light show...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Four billion barrels of oil in North Dakota?

From an MSNBC story today: The US Geological Survey estimates that 4.3 billion (that's billion with a "B") barrels of oil may be trapped in huge shale formation under North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

Some in the oil industry are skeptical, but you've got to love the optimism.

In a related story, the oil sands of Alberta are quietly becoming a major source of US oil imports.

I don't know if this is good news or not.

In the short term, obviously, major new sources of oil, especially if they are found under countries where there are not significant portions of the population who want us all dead or praying the same way they do, are welcome.

However, the long term answer to many of the worlds problems is going to be found in an alternative to oil. We've been saying it here for a long time.

Why I still love Shaq

Shaquille O'Neal, discussing his Suns' manhandling of San Antonio last night, 96-79:

O'Neal was back after missing Tuesday's game with a right hip contusion.

"I played through everything," O'Neal said. "I told them that if they play me single coverage, let me make them pay. I'm still the baddest 36-year-old ever created."

O'Neal said he took it as an insult that the Spurs didn't double him late.

Hey, it ain't bragging if it's true...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Zimbabwe: My God

First, a little scene-setting: Go read this Newsweek article on the state of the Zimbabwean economy. It is the most shocking thing you will read today. Guaranteed.

Now, we switch over to election news. Zimbabwe went to the polls this past Saturday. While it appears the opposition has won a majority in the Assembly, no one knows who won the presidency yet. That sound shady to you? It should.

Robert Mugabe, president since Zimbabwe was formed from unilaterally-independent Rhodesia (actually, there was a British colonial step in-between, called Zimbabwe-Rhodesia) in 1980, has rigged elections in the past. And that was before he went completely nuts. In recent years, his paranoia and isolation from the rest of his countrymen has grown at an exponential rate. Think he's not capable of stealing an election? Then I have some Zimbabwean currency I'd like to sell you.

How do you bankrupt a country which is blessed with fertile soil and abundant natural resources? Well, the Burmese have managed to do it, but even they can't hold a candle to Zimbabwe. This nation has been screwed for over a hundred years - read a bit about how it was treated by Cecil Rhodes and his British South Africa Company to get a sense of just how bad the screwing was - but, even with that, it has been a relatively prosperous and stable country until recently. Now? It's the most f**ked up country on Earth.