Every Last Drop

It is a means to an end, and its entire purpose is to (1) set up the end of the series in book 5, and (2) tackle two other boroughs of New York City. And maybe to turn everything on its head to make you salivate for the end.Charlie Huston's fourth installment in the Joe Pitt series, Every Last Drop, delivers on the wit, the tough-guy approach, and more than delivers on the revelations. Just how do all those Coalition vampires get their blood? The answers aren't easily digestible, and it's the kind of information that can blow open the whole lid on the existence, and future, of vampires. The down-side is that we have to wait for the finale, but lucky for us, Huston has a history (the previous book was published in 2007) of keeping things short, sweet, and bloody.

Cool It

The global policy of cutting C02 emissions as THE worldwide priority will be both the costliest and the most ineffectual environmental improvement in the 21st century. Cool It is an eye-opening, concise (160pp), and compelling argument for alternative, more important, and much more efficient environmental improvement uses of a fraction of the trillions of proposed spending dollars that cutting emissions will cost.Bjorn Lomborg argues very passionately and logically for steps to be taken in a more appropriate direction. From his book's opening chapter, he writes:
    The argument in this book is simple:
  1. Global warming is real and man-made.
  2. Statements about strong, ominous, and immediate consequences of global warming are often wildly exaggerated, and this is unlikely to result in good policy.
  3. We need simpler, smarter, and more efficient solutions for global warming rather than excessive if well-intentioned efforts. Large and very expensive CO2 cuts made now will have only a rather samll and insignificant impact far in to the future.
  4. Many other issues are much more important than global warming. We need to get our perspective back. There are many more pressing problems int he world, such as hunger, poverty, and disease. By addressing them, we can help more people, at lower cost, with a much higher chance of success than by pursuing drastic climate policies at a cost of trillions of dollars.
What follows is a easy-to-understand deconstruction of the real costs of reducing emissions, and their predicted impacts contrasted with a list of other real world issues that can be dealt with for only a portion of that payload. I've admittedly always been skeptical of global warming and people who are alarmist, mostly because I don't accept factoids and I know how to spot false logic -- years of dealing with religious zealotry has trained me well. However, this doesn't exclude the media's complicit portrayal of the phenomenon; I know everyone is trying to make a buck and make news "entertaining", but watch the world news each night and marvel at the number of times a hugely negative word such as "disaster" or "catastrophe" are used. It's comical.

Coincidentally, in the book, Lomborg predicts (based on other historical causes of hyperbole) that this fad will ultimately grow tiresome for the people and wear itself out. Last week on NPR (yes, NPR!), they did a story about environmentalists at a conference who were despondent about getting funds from banks to do their own causes; real-world problems such as the financial crisis has been naturally putting the global "catastrophe" funding on hold.

As excellent as the book is, Lomborg cannot claim the best sound-bite. That goes to a quote from Mark Hulme, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research:
    "Framing climate change as an issue which evokes fear and personal stress becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. By "sexing it up" we exacerbate, through psychological amplifiers, the very risks we are trying to ward off.

    The careless (or conspiratorial?) translation of concern about Saddam Hussein's putative military threat into the case for WMD has had major geopolitical repercussions."
On a sad note, although I have for many years been a fan of The American President, I'm finding that movie's political agenda (e.g., "we must reduce emissions by 20%!") increasingly out-of-date and thoroughly unconvincing and thinly-veiled (if at all) propaganda. At least Michael Douglas is good in it.



Normally, when I put the word "tie" in the title, you'd expect me to talk about Twin Ion Engines, but I am just as surprised as Donovan McNabb that the Philadephia Eagles tied the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, 13-13, in what I can only describe as a game that was so pathetic and evenly-sucked as to deserve to be tied.

But let's get to the statement that was even bigger than the tie; Donovan McNabb didn't know you could tie a game in the NFL:
    "I've never been a part of a tie. I never even knew that was in the rule book," McNabb said after the game. "It's part of the rules, and we have to go with it. I was looking forward to getting the opportunity to get out there and try to drive to win the game. But unfortunately, with the rules, we settled with a tie."

    The overtime rule isn't an obscure one. It was adopted fully by the NFL in 1974 and 17 games since have ended tied. The Eagles have been involved in four of those games.

    "I guess we're aware of it now," McNabb said. "In college, there are multiple overtimes, and in high school and Pop Warner. I never knew in the pro ranks it would end that way. I hate to see what would happen in the Super Bowl and in the playoffs."

    They keep playing if it's tied in the playoffs or Super Bowl. But McNabb didn't know that, either.
I don't blame Andy Reid for failing to tell your team, because the information is so painfully common knowledge that it would be embarrassing to convey. I mean, should I have to tell my franchise quarterback who has been in the league for nine years that you tie a game after 1 overtime period?? Should I have to tell my franchise quarterback, who gets paid to know this stuff, knows less about overtime than my girlfriend or anyone I know? What kind of effort would it take for me to find another adult who didn't know they have ties in the NFL? As for Andy Reid not thinking it affected the game, I disagree; from the following video clip, McNabb admits he didn't know the game was about to end until the last play was called. To me, that lack of urgency must be a factor...It is just outrageously and embarrassingly dumb of Donovan, not so much for not knowing it but not thinking it was a big deal enough to actually admit it to the press! That is even more stupid. Look, it is okay to not know the Earth is round, just don't go around telling people that unless you want to be treated like Forrest Gump.

Quantum of Solace

Now that I've seen Quantum of Solace, my new irritant-trigger is anyone who says "It's good, but no Casino Royale." And that's because that statement is wrong twice, but probably not how you may think. First, QOS is not good, it is great, a swift, brutal, honest, provoking, intelligent, and surprisingly top-notch entry into the Bond series. And second, it is most definitely no Casino Royale, for in as much as it is an appropriate true sequel to CR, had it been like CR it would have failed. Any more than Empire Strikes Back would have succeeded had it been another A New Hope.Did I just go there? Did I just use a Empire and Star Wars metaphor to describe Quantum? Yes, I did, but before your (and my) head starts exploding, I'll explain I am using the comparison in terms of mood and story flow. The story of Casino Royale is of love and betrayal and loss, and because Quantum of Solace picks up about five minutes after the former's movie ends, if you tried to do another film where Bond meets a lady and falls in love, it invalidates the gravitas of the film. If Bond mid-way through the film meets and loves another, did he really love Vesper? Would the scenes where Bond is so clearly in grievous denial suddenly become that much weaker? Would the final scene (which I won't spoil) have as much shocking and surprising closure?

A shorter film, indeed the shortest entry in the series, benefits because it is tighter and no less moving. I genuinely felt sadness at the passing of one character, which was handled with grace, tragedy and wit, all the while moving the story and Bond's character. Felix Leiter again has small a role, but no less significant and no less deftly-handled; Felix's growth and friendship with Bond is just another of the mini-origins that is being handled more memorably than the last 10 Leiters combined. The main villain, like in Casino, is more of a cog is a larger plot, but still a villain and still working well for the film and series. And that larger cog is still turning, perhaps pointing to a complete sequential trilogy for this Bond.To be honest, the choice of doing a true sequel, where Bond is grief-stricken the entire film and therefore understandably not as quick to quip as to kill, was a brave one for the studio. And for that alone they should be applauded. But, as I say that, I don't agree that the film was more violent than Casino Royale, nor does is become too-action oriented. It starts with a bang, to be sure, but quickly becomes a story and not just a set-piece. And, like in Casino, Bond's character grows and develops by the end of the film. Craig's era of Bond films may well be the one remembered as making Bond human and compelling. Now, some people may not want that -- they may want the wit and invisible cars and a character who never changes -- but I not only approve, but it has left me wanting more.


Star Trek Trailer

It's not your father's Star Trek trailer, and maybe that's a good thing. All I do know is everything J. J. Abrams touches turns to gold, and this preview made me excited to see this film. Buckle up, indeed.


Iowa 24, Penn State 23

It's hard to even think about writing about Penn State's heartbreaking loss on Saturday to Iowa. I am physically exhausted and my stomach has that permanent pit. I watched the entire game, and it's hard to get my head around how we managed to lose that game after dominating the first half and being up 9 going into the 4th quarter. I think it's best encapsulated by Joe Paterno's son, Jay:
    "There were 25 plays in the game that, if we make one of them, we win the game," quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said.
The most talked about play was the late interception:
    As the ball fluttered out of his hand, Daryll Clark tried in vain to snatch it back, then prayed -- "Please, please, please!" -- that Derrick Williams somehow would get a hand on it.

    Afterward, the quarterback blamed that fourth-quarter interception, and himself, for the loss that essentially ended Penn State's chance at a national championship.

    "First of all, I want to apologize to the whole Penn State nation for my play today," Clark said. "And I take full responsibility for that loss. I apologize to our seniors, and our captains. I just keep having that turnover recurring in my head over and over again.

    "I just can't get it out of my mind."
I feel bad for Clark, who has been so good all year, but now will have to replay that one play -- a errant pass in a game where it was freezing and there were 25-mph gusts -- for the rest of his life. I really hope this team can rally and win their last two games, and not let this shocking loss ruin the rest of the season. The pass is a 'game-changing performance':

The excellent recap ticks off just some of the others. Read it and it will make you crazy:
    There was the blown protection on Penn State's third play of the game, resulting in a fumble which Clark was lucky to recover at his own 1-yard line. Iowa needed just two offensive plays to respond, with Shonn Greene (the nation's only back with 10 100-yard rushing games) scoring on a 14-yard run.

    There was the busted coverage on Derrell Johnson-Koulianos' stutter-and-go route on third-and-13 in the third quarter that turned into a 27-yard touchdown. Cornerback A.J. Wallace expected help from a deep safety, which never arrived.

    There was the debilitating holding call on Penn State guard Rich Ohrnberger on the play prior to Clark's interception. The penalty, on third-and-14, negated a potential first-down completion to Butler. "I hope they're right on that one," Jay Paterno said. "I hope it's an obvious one there."

    And there was the crushing pass interference call on safety Anthony Scirrotto on Iowa's next series, which produced the game-winning field goal. Scirrotto ran into Iowa receiver Trey Stross from behind on third-and-15, giving the Hawkeyes a first down at the 39-yard line.

    "He went after the ball," defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said. "He made a play on the ball. I'm not going to fault the guy for making a play on the ball."
I'm not going to even mention that the referees gave some seriously suspect 1st down spots to Iowa in that drive. Oh wait, there I go. SUSPECT.

Watch the recap from ESPN, if you like. Favorite quote, "Don't underestimate the impact of the wind." This game happens on a sunny day, this doesn't happen. Wouldn't coulda shoulda. Arrgh.

Did I mention that I'm sad?


Let The Right One In

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a Swedish vampire book, Let Me In that was adapted as a Swedish horror film called Let The Right One In and soon to be playing in a theater near me. And last night it did and I saw it.

I have developed a guideline for myself when it comes to books and their movie adaptations; if I have read the book, I try to let a significant (say, at least six months) time pass before I see the film. If I don't, I end up being unable to watch the film without drawing direct comparisons to the book, which is distracting. Even more distracting is if you have favorite parts and the director decides to leave them out. Lastly, forgetting the film allows you to be surprised as you were in the book, but otherwise you are just waiting for things to happen.Of course, since I only finished reading the book a month ago, all three of these things happened during my viewing. I was able to enjoy the film, and my girlfriend, who had not read the book, enjoyed it, but it's tough to say that I'm entirely pleased with the adaptation.

I will say that at least they kept the ending intact, which is just one of the controversial parts of the excellent book. They, however, chose to leave out a lot of backstory, several major characters (the movie would have been at least thirty minutes longer), the pedophilia story (not surprising), the vampire zombie with a constant erection (really not surprising), and the history of a character having his penis chewed off (shocked, shocked we didn't get that special moment on film!).

I catch myself now getting too critical. What they kept in the movie were also some of the best parts of the book. The conversations between the two leads, the Rubik's cube (although I would have liked them to keep in the part where it is used as a weapon!), the beheadings, the concept of being invited in (can't really leave that out from a book called "Let Me In", can you?), the pool scene, and the morse code. The end, simultaneously touching and disturbing, makes you wonder just what a sequel would be like, and what would happen next. In the end, I've convinced myself: thumbs up for Swedish vampires.


The Day After

In case you are just waking up and this blog is where you come to for the news (and if so, we need to have a serious talk), Barack Hussein Obama became president-elect last night:
    Barack Obama, a 47-year-old first-term senator from Illinois, shattered more than 200 years of history Tuesday night by winning election as the first African-American president of the United States.

    A crowd of 125,000 people jammed Grant Park in Chicago, where Obama addressed the nation for the first time as its president-elect at midnight ET. Hundreds of thousands more — Mayor Richard Daley said he would not be surprised if a million Chicagoans jammed the streets — watched on a large television screen outside the park.

    “If there is anyone out there who doubts that America is a place where anything is possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” Obama declared.
Ultimately, I found the candidates' stances on issues so close for me, that it was a virtual dead heat. Despite my reservations about Obama's foreign policy experience, I decided to give change (doesn't every candidate run on 'change'?) a chance, mostly because I think that a single party running the goverment for too long isn't good. I believe that our nation stays healthy because we change our leaders so often..I'm looking forward to the next four years, just on the chance that Obama can do better, can make a difference. At the very least, it is thrilling to be living in a country where a black man was elected just forty years after the year that was 1968.

And now that the Democrats have swept the House and Senate, now I can hopefully have the haters SHUT THE F**K UP. Be careful what you wish for, because now the only fingers you can point are at yourselves. No more evil Republicans standing in your way. Get it done.

Update: Former right-wing politico Steven Den Beste, shares my sentiment, more succinctly encapsulating my thoughts in his "what are the good sides" list. Otherwise, his piece, while entertaining, is much darker and cynical than I about the next four years. I am not a doomsday believer (for either side's vilification), but I like to give equal time for another side's finger pointing!
    It's easy to let yourself go in despair and start thinking things like "We are well-and-truly fucked" or "This is the worst of all possible outcomes". But it isn't true.

    I think this election is going to be a "coming of age" moment for a lot of people. They say, "Be careful what you wish for" and a lot of people got their wish yesterday.

    And now they're bound to be disappointed. Not even Jesus could satisfy all the expectations of Obama's most vocal supporters, or fulfill all the promises Obama has made.

    I think Obama is going to turn out to be the worst president since Carter, and for the same reason: good intentions do not guarantee good results. Idealists often stub their toes on the wayward rocks of reality, and fall on their faces. And the world doesn't respond to benign behavior benignly.

    But there's another reason why: Obama has been hiding his light under a basket. A lot of people bought a pig in a poke today, and now they're going to find out what they bought. Obama isn't what most of them think he is. The intoxication of the cult will wear off, leaving a monumental hangover.

    And four years from now they'll be older and much wiser.

    A lot of bad things are going to happen during this term. But I don't think that this is an irreversible catastrophe for the union. I've lived long enough to absorb this basic truth: the US is too large and too strong to destroy in just 4 years. Or even in 8. We survived 6 years of Nixon. We survived 4 years of Carter. We even survived 8 years of Clinton, God alone knows how.

    The President of the United States is the most powerful political figure in the world, but as national executives go his powers are actually quite restricted. Obama will become President, but he won't be dictator or king, let alone deity. He still has to work with the House and the Senate, and he still has to live within Constitutional restrictions, and with a judiciary that he mostly didn't appoint.

    The main reason this will be a "coming of age" moment is that now Obama and the Democrats have to put up or shut up. Obama got elected by making himself a blank slate, with vapid promises about "hope" and "change" -- but now he actually has to do something. Now he has to reveal his true agenda. And with the Democrats also having a majority in both chambers of Congress, now the Democrats really have to lead. And they're not going to do a very good job of it. It's going to be amusing to watch.

    And the people who fell for the demagoguery will learn an invaluable lesson.

    Oh, the Democrats try to blame failure on Republican filibusters, of which there will be many. But that's always been a factor in our system, and many people believe it's an important check on government excess. The tradition in the Senate is that it is supposed to be a buffer against transient political fads, and the filibuster is a major part of that.

    If the Democrats go all in, and change the filibuster rule, then they'll have truly seized the nettle with both hands and won't have any excuses any longer. That's why they won't do it. It's their last fig-leaf. But even with the filibuster rule in place, they'll be stuck trying to deliver now on all the promises implied, or inferred, during this election. The Republicans can only filibuster on bills the Democrats have already proposed.

    And it ain't possible for the Democrats to deliver what's been promised. Gonna be a hell of a lot of disillusioned lefties out there. A lot of people who felt they were deceived. A lot of people who will eventually realize that the Obama campaign was something of a cult.

    Disillusionment will turn to a feeling of betrayal. And that will, in turn, convert to anger.

    In the mean time, Obama and Congressional Democrats will do things that cause harm, but very little of it will be irreversible.

    I would have enjoyed watching lefty heads explode if McCain had won. But we're going to see lefty heads exploding anyway; it's just going to take longer.

    In the mean time, those of us who didn't want Obama to be president have to accept that he is. And let's not give in to the kind of paranoid fever dreams that have consumed the left for the last 8 years. Let us collectively take a vow tonight: no "Obama derangement syndrome". Obama is a politician. He isn't the devil incarnate.

    So what are the good sides of what just happened?

    1. It is no longer possible for anyone to deny that the MSM is heavily biased. The MSM have been biased for decades but managed an illusion of fairness. That is no longer possible; the MSM have squandered their credibility during this campaign. They'll never get that credibility back again.

    2. Since the Democrats got nearly everything they hoped for in this campaign, they'll have no excuses and will have to produce. They'll have to reveal their true agenda -- or else make clear that they don't really have any beyond gaining power.

    3. Every few decades the American people have to be reminded that peace only comes with strength. The next four years will be this generation's lesson.

    Now, a few predictions for the next four years:

    1. Obama's "hold out your hand to everyone" foreign policy is going to be a catastrophe. They'll love it in Europe. They're probably laughing their heads off about it in the middle east already.

    2. The US hasn't suffered a terrorist attack by al Qaeda since 9/11, but we'll get at least one during Obama's term.

    3. We're going to lose in Afghanistan.

    4. Iran will get nuclear weapons. There will be nuclear war between Iran and Israel. (This is the only irreversibly terrible thing I see upcoming, and it's very bad indeed.)

    5. There will eventually be a press backlash against Obama which will make their treatment of Bush look mild. Partly that's going to be because Obama is going to disappoint them just as much as all his other supporters. Partly it will be the MSM desperately trying to regain its own credibility, by trying to show that they're not in his tank any longer. And because of that they are eventually going to do the reporting they should have done during this campaign, about Obama's less-than-savory friends, and about voter fraud, and about illegal fund-raising, and about a lot of other things.

    and 6. Obama will not be re-elected in 2012. He may even end up doing an LBJ and not even running again.

    One last thing: I'm not saying I'm happy with this outcome. I would much rather have had McCain win. But this is not the end of the world, or the end of this nation. We've survived much worse.

    And now we need to show the lefties how to lose. Our mission for the next four years is to be in opposition without becoming deranged.

    UPDATE: One other good thing: no one will be spinning grand conspiracy theories about this administration's Vice President being an evil, conniving genius who is the true power behind the throne.
Further UPDATE: Old adversary and overall-wearing cat-loving writer and pundit Jaquandor returns to the blogging airwaves. His lefty take on the result is a muddied-mirror reflection of my own, to an extent:
    Will he live up to all this? Who knows? Probably not; he's a human being and human beings screw up and are always disappointing at some point along the line. (I can understand his reasons for not doing so, but it would have been nice if Obama had taken a strong public stand against California's odious Proposition 8.) But I like his chances. Curiosity, in my book, always beats out disengagement. Respect for knowledge and expertise always beats out callous disregard for same. Thoughtfulness always beats out rock-solid convicion in one's own instincts and sensations about people. Also, Obama has been surrounding himself with people who know how Washington works and who will have the relationships and understanding to get things done, and Obama has been running as a change agent, which is different from running as an outsider. Frankly, I've never liked the whole "outsider" thing. Sure, a fresh set of eyes and perspectives is good, but too often this is couched in the assumption that everything in Washington is bad, bad, bad, and that what's needed is someone to show up who has no idea at all of what goes on there. (Of course, this is no guarantee of anything either; while Jimmy Carter was notable in his failure to understand how to work the mechanisms of Washington to get things done, George W. Bush surrounded himself with people who did understand those mechanisms, to results that may be even more dolorous than the ones Carter produced.)

RIP Michael Crichton

I'm sure I'm not alone in being saddened and surprised that Michael Crichton passed away on Election Day:
    Michael Crichton, whose contributions to pop culture ranged from the human drama of ER and Disclosure to the sci-fi adventures Jurassic Park and the Andromeda Strain, has died after what his family called "a private battle with cancer." He was 66.

    "While the world knew him as a great storyteller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us ... family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes," his family said in a statement. "He did this with a wry sense of humor that those who were privileged to know him personally will never forget."
It's more shocking for me because I just finished re-reading two of his finest works, and was really looking forward to another book. I am struggling to think of another writer who has done more for my love of fiction or imagination, and one who has died in my lifetime, but I'm at a loss. As my friend Melissa appropriately understated: "Bummer."

Bonus: Here's footage of Crichton talking with Matt Lauer about State Of Fear, one of those books I loved and reviewed:


Election Day

I am so happy election day is here. Not so much because I am looking forward to voting this afternoon, but to get rid of the canvassers, the spammers, and the haters. Yes, especially the haters, those who are so solidly on one side or another that they cannot fathom how someone can vote for the other party. Worse, they view their opponents as stupid.

I know a lot of these people, and every time someone yells "Bush is the worst president in history!!!" or "You don't want socialism do you??" at me, it makes me want to vote for the other party just out of spite. Luckily, idiots exist in equal numbers on both sides enough that there is just not enough spite to go around.I am still on the fence on this election. I have reviewed both candidates' stances here, and to be perfectly honest, it is a dead heat. As both parties represent my interests to a near draw (and both have things I don't like, naturally), the outcome of the election for me will be little more than a curiosity. Also of interest will be seeing the idiots go "Thank God our country chose RIGHT!" or "I'm moving to Canada!!!" And then witness the ensuing bar-room scuffles that always accompany election night in the Washington, DC, area. Fun.

My sentiments are also aptly summarized by Glenn Reynolds:
    We've had eight years of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Before that, we had eight years of Clinton Derangement Syndrome. And though people forget it now, President Reagan inspired a lot of anger and hatred, too. Can I ask that, regardless of who wins, we tone things down a bit?

    There's been a bit of leadership on this front in the blogosphere. Rightish blogger Rick Moran, in a post entitled If Elected, Obama Will Be My President, wrote: "An Obama election will mean changes – not all of them for the better. So be it. We will fight like hell against what we believe to be wrong. But we [will] not do it by trying to delegitimize the elected president." In response, leftish blogger (and famous science fiction writer) John Scalzi wrote: "This is exactly right. And this is why, you'll notice if you crawl the Whatever archives, I have made a point of noting that George Bush is my president. … One of the reasons I have always registered as an independent voter is that I believe my highest allegiance as a voter is not to a political party but to the Constitution of the United States, the foundational document of our law. Our Constitution sets up the system we use to choose a president. If a candidate--any candidate--fulfills the requirements of that system to become our president, then I believe it's my duty to acknowledge that, yes, that candidate is now my president. I can criticize that president, argue with that president, loathe that president and work to replace that president in the manner allowed for by the Constitution … but what I can't do is deny that he or she is my president. That's wrong, factually and morally, and it's dismissive of the Constitution of the United States."

    I agree. I thought it was wrong when Bush supporters in 1992 slapped "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Bush" stickers on their cars before Clinton was even sworn in. The simmering Clinton-hatred was bad for the country and, for that matter, for Republicans. Likewise, the even more over-the-top Bush-hatred of the past eight years has been bad for our polity, and for the haters. Now I hope that whoever wins, the nation will follow the lead of Moran and Scalzi.

    You don't have to love the "other guy." You don't have to hold back on fighting against policies you don't like. You don't have to pull punches. But once someone is duly and legally elected president, you do owe some respect to the office and the Constitution. And to your fellow Americans.

    I'm not an Obama fan, particularly, but a lot of people I like and respect are. To treat Obama as something evil or subhuman would not only be disrespectful toward Obama, but toward them. Instead, I hope that if Obama is elected, their assessment of his strengths will turn out to be right, and mine will turn out to be wrong. Likewise, those who don't like John McCain or Sarah Palin might reflect that by treating Palin and McCain as obviously evil and stupid, they're disrespecting tens of millions of their fellow Americans who feel otherwise. And treating a presidency held by a guy you don't like as presumptively illegitimate suggests that presidents rule not by election, but by divine right, so that whenever the "other guy" wins, he's automatically a usurper.

    We don't have to agree on issues, or on leaders. But if we can't agree that a free and fair election can produce a legitimate president even when it's not the candidate we like, then we've got a very serious problem.
In short, go vote, and save the crying for your like-minded followers and let the smart people have peace.



This weekend, at a family function, my cousin who happens to be a lawyer committed a pet-peeve of mine -- misuse of words -- which I did not correct out of the fear of appearing petty. Gathered around the kitchen table, she was telling a story about some true event, and concluded, "Well, that's my little factoid for the evening."

"Factoid" has recently been used a lot in my presence as a substitution for "fact", when its definintion is the exact opposite meaning. Via Wiki:
    A factoid is a spurious — unverified, incorrect, or fabricated — statement formed and asserted as a fact, but with no veracity. The word appears in the Oxford English Dictionary as "something which becomes accepted as fact, although it may not be true."

    Factoid was coined by Norman Mailer in his 1973 biography of Marilyn Monroe. Mailer described a factoid as "facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper", and created the word by combining the word fact and the ending -oid to mean "like a fact". The Washington Times described Mailer's new word as referring to "something that looks like a fact, could be a fact, but in fact is not a fact".

    Factoids may give rise to, or arise from, common misconceptions and urban legends.
When I say pet-peeve, I mean that I get annoyed when even I occasionally misuse a phrase. (The difference between Tuscan and Tucsan comes to mind!) What I find amusing about this such misuse is that by using the word as its opposite, people are creating a factoid out of factoid. So, instead when this usage is enacted again, I will laugh. Laugh and point.

Boondock Saints Sequel

Via Cinematical:
    Few recent films have as loyal a fanbase as does Troy Duffy's The Boondock Saints. I'm not sure if that's proper English, but you get the point. Boondock fans (or, as I like to call them as of this minute, Boondoggies) have been SURE that Duffy was starting in on a Part 2 several times over the past few years -- but they were wrong. Now they're right.

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, which reports on things from Hollywood, "principal photography has started in Toronto on Troy Duffy's sequel to the 2000 indie." Yes, Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery are coming back to reprise their roles. Also back on board are Billy Connolly and David Della Rocco. Other cast members will include Clifton Collins, Julie Benz, and Bob Marley. (Hey, that's what it says.)
Reaction #1: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Explanation for Reaction #2: Here's my review from 2003. Does it say something that it took 6 years to get a sequel green-lit, as well?
    Although this is sure to inspire the rage and baffling indignance of some readers, I'm going to post the most negative review ever of the most deserving film ever, that being (of course), Boondock Saints.

    I just recently added my review to Amazon.com, but where to begin with the ways in which this film was disappointing? Here it is:

    "This movie was highly recommended to me by no less than 3 friends of mine as "incredible" and one of their favorites of all time. Sadly, my respect for their opinions has plummeted; this film was a cliche from start to finish, with tired 'comedic' scenes, copycat action, and questionable themes. It felt like a film that couldn't figure out whether it wanted to be some kind of a moral statement (regarding the tacked on man-in-the-street comments in the end -- vomit) or a 'Lock Stock' ripoff. In short, this film was so notoriously bad that it has made it into my casual speak for awful (e.g., "Rate it from Boondock to 10", or "That Boondocks"). It is just shocking how this film is like fire to the pseudo-intelligencia flies. On the upside: I now ask a new person what they thought of the film as my instant gauge to their mental acuity."

    I guess it boils down to my reaction to intelligent people doing illogical things. I believe that people are genetically predisposed to do and think different things. While culture and education and upbringing are shaping factors, your foundation will generally incline you towards a certain view. That realization made it possible for me to accept people of different political affiliations without feeling the pointless need to 'convert' them. Likewise, I'm trying to accept those with religious zeal in their blood, but it's rather difficult since most (that I've encountered) religious types aren't well-read (one could say that ignorance is essential for religion) or aware of the false-hoods they've been taught, so it is hard to have a leveled discussion about faith with the faithful. But I am trying. Where am I going with this? Boondock Saints has made it into the three things you should never talk about (along with politics and religion) in a bar because I just cannot fathom how someone smart could like and admire this film, and it pains me to see people like that falling into the pit of boondock.

    I found this additional review on Amazon.com, which speaks to the content of the film. I agree with every word. Now go out and rent it and burn your copy.

    "The positive reaction to this film can only be called absurd. The only thing worse than the poor acting and childish dialogue is the serious lack of any character development. In order to make the point that the desire for justice leads logically to outrage, which leads logically to viglilantism, the director/writer would need to build an identification between viewer and the 3 main protagonists. One of these figures--Rocko--is so moronic and out of control that there can be no such identification unless you are moronic and out of control. The two Irish brothers are supposed to seem deeper, presumably because they speak several foreign languages, but really they are the same sort of hyper-testosterone bar slime they become so enraged at throughout the film. A film that tries to confront violence/crime without contextualizing it, is racist in terms of its stereotyping of Irish, Italians, and Russians, and also classist (drug addicts deserve wrath and punishment? How about the corporate crooks and politicians that make drug addicts?) If you have two hours to kill and would like to ponder the moral dilemmas causes by an inadequate justice system, consider reading Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. Boondock Saints is childish psuedo-philosophy geared toward 15 year olds (the ignorant ones) who lack the ability to contextualize historically both crime and the mechanisms currently in place for dealing with it."
Courtroom speech that makes me want to vomit:
Religious wackos. Just as fun as in the Middle East, or if you in the World Trade Center. The only good sequel would be is if they all died truly horrible deaths, and no one cared.

Of course, my revulsion of the film is probably also fueled by my belief that religion is the single-largest evil that has ever existed. Nah, too easy!

To recap: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

BCS Blustering

Speaking of that upset victory, a funny thing happened on the way to the BCS rankings this week. A previously unbeaten Texas team gets beat ON THE ROAD on the NEXT-TO-LAST PLAY by last week's number 7 ranked (BCS, the only one that matters) team, and the BCS vaults the victor to number 2, over an also unbeaten Penn State team who was idle at #3. And I won't lie to you I was fuming over that leap. But then I calmed down and got to thinking about a few things.First, here's the voting differential in the top 4 (AP):
    1.Alabama 1600
    2.Texas Tech 1528
    3.Penn State 1525
    4.Florida 1398
That's such a slim margin between the top 3. Hardly anything to get steamed about in early November with 3 games left.

Second is the remaining schedule for Texas Tech. In their next two weeks they are hosting Oklahoma State (current #8, nearly beat Texas themselves) and then AT Oklahoma (current #6, been scraping opponents remains off their cleats recently) the following week. If they survive those two scraps, I would have no problem with them being considered #2, or even #1 for that matter. So, let them play the games and we'll see.

Third, is at Penn State, we need to either forget things we can't control and focus on what we can. We need to take care of business, finish undefeated, period, and then let the BCS implode should they not put us in the championship game. Screw impressions, which is all the rankings are. I'm sure that's what Joe Pa is telling them right now. And that's why I shrug my shoulders and say we've got to finish the season out strong and screw what all the experts think.

Also: I can't wait until this week's press conference with Paterno to get his reaction when a reporter asks him about it. Can't. Wait.

Rushing the field

This previous weekend saw an incredibly exciting game where number 1 (BCS rankings) Texas Longhorns were upset on the road by number 7 Texas Tech, 39-33, winning on the next-to-last play of the game.

It also saw Texas Tech fans at their embarrassing and predictable worst. The Associated Press not only got the event wrong (shocking!) but severely downplayed the possibility of a different outcome:
    Thousands of Texas Tech fans poured onto the field and had to be sent off while the play was under review to make sure Crabtree didn't step out of bounds. Once the fans were chased off the field and Tech kicked the extra point, the Red Raiders were penalized and forced to kick off from their own 7.

    When Texas couldn't pull of a miracle kickoff return, the fans ran back on the field to celebrate the biggest win in Texas Tech history.
First, they got one fifteen yard penalty for rushing the field when Texas Tech scored the touchdown. Second, not being aware enough to realize that NO TIME ELAPSES during an extra-point attempt, they rushed the field again (I predicted this) getting another fifteen-yard penalty. This forced Texas Tech to kickoff from their own 7.5 yard-line. Texas head coach tried to arrange for an automatic fair catch, but unfortunately that isn't allowed. Either way, a squib kick that starts at your own 40 is a lot more dangerous than one that starts at the opponent's 40. Despite wanting for a Texas upset I think I would have been even more satisfied if the Longhorns had somehow scored because of this.

Well, I'm sure that the Red Raiders fans will learn from this incident and not do it again. Oh, wait, this has happened before, even after the university put in a really effective "zero tolerance" policy in 2002:
    LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Texas Tech students celebrated a 42-38 victory over Texas on Saturday by storming the field, ignoring a two-day-old "zero tolerance" policy prohibiting fans from going onto the stadium turf. In announcing the new policy Thursday, university officials said anyone going onto the field before, after or during games would be subject to arrest.

    But moments after Texas Tech beat fourth-ranked Texas behind Kliff Kingsbury's six touchdown passes, thousands of students poured onto the turf of Jones SBC Stadium, where Texas Tech players were still gathered.

    As soon as the game ended, in a pre-emptive [it's "preemptive" -- stupid AP reporters] move, university officials dismantled the goal posts before students had a chance to tear them down. Capt. Gordon Hoffman of the Texas Tech campus police said no arrests were made.

    "Practically speaking, I don't see how we could have made any arrests. When you have those kind of numbers, it's not possible. I don't see how they could have been arrested and contained," Hoffman said.

    Texas Tech officials said the policy came about because they didn't want to see a repeat of what happened after Texas Tech upset Texas A&M 12-0 a year ago in Lubbock. Tech students tore down the south goal post and took it into an area in the east stands where Texas A&M fans were located. Fighting broke out.

    "This is a pre-emptive deal and probably a policy that needed to be in place before," Texas Tech sports information director Chris Cook said Thursday. "As our program continues to get better, the more enthusiasm is generated, and we have a good opportunity now to put this policy into effect."
VERY effective. The students demonstrated the wiles of any two-year old by calling the bluff of a weak-willed parent. Six years later and now the Tech fans have graduated from rushing the field after the game to before it is over. Twice. And costing your team penalties that could have had effected the outcome. Congratulations, Texas Tech, your fans are officially the dumbest.

Bonus: It's not hard to find evidence of Texas Tech fans repeated stupidity on the web. Here's a satisfying video from last year's Oklahoma-Tech game showing some Tech idiots getting arrested rushing the field.