January 2005 Archives

To the unknowing - specifically, to the educracy (is that a word? it is now) in Lansing and Washington, it sounds like another story of a school district failing to meet adequate yearly progress standards under No Child Left Behind:

It comes as no surprise that the Allegan County Intermediate School District failed to meet federal requirements for progress in testing in 2004.

. . .

The Michigan Department of Education recently announced a list of schools that did not achieve adequate yearly progress, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The state previously announced the progress of individual schools; now it has focused on entire districts. Adequate yearly progress is achieved when certain percentages of students achieve passing grades on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program test.
[full disclosure: the ACISD is based in my hometown, but isn't my hometown school district]

Except that the ACISD has a student population not generally held to the same standards as mainstream students:

The district's only school, the development center, serves special education students who largely do not take the state assessment test on which the requirements are based.

. . .

Adequate yearly progress is achieved when certain percentages of students achieve passing grades on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program test. Many of the students at Allegan's development center took alternate tests instead of the MEAP. According to ACISD communications consultant Midge Stamas, only 1 percent of those alternate-test grades were admissible in determining the school's AYP.

"Some of our cognitively impaired students take the MEAP," she said. "But there is no way the majority can take it. We have alternative tests developed especially for these kinds of students.

"We definitely would've made AYP if they would've counted all of the students taking the alternative test."
I worked at the ACISD Development Center (Nobody. Say. A. Word.) in the summer of 1984, and at the time they divided the students into four categories: Trainably Mentally Impaired, Severely Mentally Impaired, Severely Physically Impaired, and Severely Multiply Impaired. Now I'm sure the terminology has become more PC (like maybe Handi-Capable, Differently Abled, and Just Plain Screwed), but I can tell you that what Ms. Stamas said certainly would have held true in 1984: the best of the TMI students and the least impaired of the SPI students might have been able to cope with a standardized test, but it would have been pointless trying to administer such a test to any other student.

You would think this would be easy to rectify, and that the ACISD wouldn't be liable for the penalty associated with not meeting AYP standards.

And you'd be wrong.

As it stands, the district was required to mail letters to the parents of every ACISD student notifying them of the district's status. There will be no federal sanctions this year for failing AYP, because it is the first year of assessment [saved by a loophole - for now. -ed.].

"We're not the only ISD facing this," Stamas said. "We're working with the state to help them understand No Child Left Behind was developed to apply to a majority of children-it doesn't fit the needs of the kinds of students attending the development center."

Martin Ackley, public information officer for the state, said the issue is being taken up at national and regional levels. "As No Child Left Behind is being implemented, these unintended consequences are being recognized," he said. "Hopefully, some adjustments can be made to better reflect what's really going on in our schools, so we don't stigmatize special education students."

Ackley said it would take legislation at the federal level to amend the discrepancy. "The state board of education has tried to address the issue, but as of yet hasn't gotten any relief to our concerns," he said.

How hard should this be to unscrew? One letter to the Department of Education saying "this school has a student population consisting of mentally and physically handicapped students; here are the kind of things we can test them on," and it should all be squared away. Is anyone optimistic that this will get fixed before next year, when the 'first offense' loophole no longer applies and the ACISD would actually suffer some real penalty?

My take on Iraq's elections: So far so good, and keep your fingers crossed.

Badly Mixed Metaphor Of The Day (seen on an I-69 billboard north of Fort Wayne): "Let The Credit Doctor Knock Out Your Debts!"

I can kind of see what they're getting at, but "Let The Credit Anesthesiologist Knock Out Your Debts!" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

That, and wouldn't your debts just regain consciousness later with a really big headache?

I found the EFF's Endangered Gizmos List from Slashdot, and I'm happy to say I own one of the gizmos listed as 'extinct' on it. Just one. Really. Honest:

Species: ReplayTV 4000
Genus: Personal Video Recorder (PVR)
Closest Surviving Relatives: TiVo's "Tivo-to-go" is heavily encumbered by DRM and its 30-second skip is hidden. Build-your-own PVRs like MythTV let you skip commercials and export files to your heart's content.
What it is: A personal video recorder with user-friendly features.
What it allowed you to do: Skip over commercials and send recorded TV programs to another ReplayTV device.
Why it's extinct: Former Turner Broadcasting CEO Jamie Kellner called skipping commercials "theft" -- and evidently the major motion picture studios agree. They sued the manufacturers of ReplayTV out of existence, and the company that purchased it buckled under and removed the contested features.
And the reasons it's extinct are a large part of I like it so much - automatic commercial skip (with a correctness rate of ~80%) and no digital rights management. You can still get ReplayTVs on eBay, but be advised that if you're looking for automatic commercial skip (called Commercial Advance), you'll want a 4xxx series model, not a 5xxx series (5000 series models may have CA, I don't remember, but 55xx series models definitely do not).

I've combined my RTV with DVArchive (which lets me move shows to my PC) and my DVD burner to create an essentially unlimited library of whatever the hell I want from my TV.

No wonder Hollywood doesn't want me to have it.

A gizmo on the endangered list has also caught my attention - Total Recorder:

Species: Total Recorder
Genus: Virtual soundcards
Threat: Entertainment companies pressing for operating system-authentication of soundcard drivers.
What it is: A software program that appears to your computer to be a soundcard, but rather than sending an audio stream to your speakers, it saves it to a file on disk.
What it lets you do: Total Recorder allows you to record any audio that your computer can play.
Why it's endangered: Hollywood is pushing Microsoft and other operating system developers to make it so your computer will detect whether the soundcard software in use comes from a major manufacturer -- that is, whether it's been "tamed" and will do what Hollywood and the majors have agreed it may do.
Just the thing to allow me to mix radio highlights of games and add my own commentary, much like I do for TV. Never mind that this fits pretty clearly under the definition of Fair Use; Big Media doesn't want me to be able to do it.


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A blogger I read regularly, and I can't remember who, remarked recently that they thought Oprah said something outrageously PC, but they couldn't be sure, and they couldn't go back and listen again because they weren't taping.

Well, now you can:

Google and Yahoo are introducing services that will let users search through television programs based on words spoken on the air. The services will look for keywords in the closed captioning information that is encoded in many programs, mainly as an aid to deaf viewers.

Google's service, scheduled to be introduced today, does not actually permit people to watch the video on their computers. Instead, it presents them with short excerpts of program transcripts with text matching their search queries and a single image from the program. Google records TV programs for use in the service.

About The City Attorney Story...

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My irony detector must be down, or it would have red-lined when I posted a White Trash Wednesday story about the Fort Wayne City Attorney on the same day I complained about Men's Health naming Fort Wayne as America's Dumbest City.

As of now, WTW-participating blogs include Riehl World View, Beautiful Atrocities, CrankyNeocon, Daisy Cutter, My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, Nickie Goomba, Rachael Ray Redux , Six Meat Buffet ,Vince Aut Morire and Dangerous Logic.

Life Imitates 24, Again


This season of 24 opened with (literally - it was in the first ten minutes of episode one) the bad guys parking a pickup truck on railroad tracks to cause a passenger train derailment which would allow them to steal the macguffin from a passenger on that train.

Today's LA commuter train derailment was apparently caused by someone parking his Jeep on the tracks:

The smash occurred when a train struck a 4x4 vehicle at a crossing, derailing and "side-swiping" an oncoming train at 6am local time (2pm GMT).
. . .
Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca said authorities were speaking to the driver of the vehicle.

"It didn't appear that the vehicle had stalled," he said. "It appears that it was deliberately placed there."
And why was that?
Reports suggested that the driver had second thoughts about a suicide bid, leaving his vehicle at the last minute.
So instead of dying himself, he's now facing nine counts of (at the very least) manslaughter, which ought to to be good for a room upgrade at the Westin Pelican Bay.

This is the closest I'll get to contributing to White Trash Wednesday, because even in a city as dumb as Fort Wayne, you really can't consider the City Attorney as white trash; however, this incident is perfectly indicative of white trash behavior:

Fort Wayne City Attorney Tim Manges was ticketed Monday, accused of leaving the scene of an accident early Saturday. Police reports say Manges’ Jeep Cherokee hit a parked car and a tree at Broadway and Taylor Street at 1:17 a.m. Saturday, causing damage estimated at more than $2,500 to a 1993 Ford four-door.

Manges – who negotiated on behalf of the city the patrol officers’ union contract but also defends officers in legal cases – said he did not believe he hit anything except the curb. There was no damage to any vehicles or a tree, he said, so he continued on his way home from being out with a friend. Had he known he hit anything – if, in fact he did hit anything, he said – he would have contacted police immediately.

. . .

The area was hit by a winter storm Friday night and Saturday that dumped heavy snow. The police report says the road was covered with snow and slush. Manges said he began to fishtail while driving in the snow and over-corrected slightly, sending his Jeep “straight into the curb.” He said there is no damage on his vehicle or any mark that he can find on the tree in question.
I don't want to jump to any conclusions here, but if you're driving on snowy downtown streets in a 4X4 after 1:00AM on a Saturday morning, and you still manage to lose control and hit a curb, a car, and a tree, AND YOU DON'T NOTICE HITTING THE CAR OR THE TREE...

Well, let's just say I can pretty easily think of one hypothesis that explains all those facts without contradicting any. There's also the issue of who said what to whom:

The Saturday report says only that Manges’ Jeep was found and towed. The Monday report says Manges stated Saturday that he wasn’t feeling well and that a friend spoke to investigators because Manges was ill.

That's interesting. If it were me, trying to clear my name, I'd rise up off my freakin' deathbed to talk to the people responsible for determining what happened.

Incidentally, the hypothetical hypothesis I allegedly refer to above also explains that behavior.

Because Everything's Bigger In Texas, Even The Idiots


I've done my best to ignore the Men's Health article naming Fort Wayne as America's Dumbest City, because I know that all these 'best of' and 'worst of' lists are inherently bogus (and yes, I'd be saying the same thing if Fort Wayne had been in, say, the middle of the list) and you can pick the criteria to make them say whatever you want them to. On the other hand, I have to wonder why they counted Nobel Prize winners born inside city limits - but only the physics and medicine winners, not, say, chemistry or economics. I also have to wonder how the city with the fifth-best library in the country for cities in its size range (250k-500k, and Fort Wayne BARELY has 250K) can score dead last in that kind of list. But I've already spent more time on this than I wanted to, and I haven't even gotten to my point yet.

It would appear that Corpus Christi, like Texas in general, doesn't like being second place in anything, so they want to challenge Fort Wayne for the title:

A radio station in Corpus Christi, Texas, (the city dubbed second stupidest) wants to wrest the title from the Summit City.

In a competitive spirit some might consider misguided, Jim Lago, an AM morning host at News Talk 1440 KEYS, says his city doesn’t like finishing second.

He’s even come up with some slogans for his coastal community that should help the public relations push.

“Welcome to Corpus Christi,” one goes, “where C students live like kings.”

Or, “Corpus Christi, our dropouts do better than your high school graduates.”

Or, “Corpus Christi, come be a genius or fit right in.”

His campaign doesn’t stop there. He’d like to arrange a minor league baseball game between the Fort Wayne Wizards and the Corpus Christi Hooks, never mind that that Wizards are single A and the Hooks are double A.

“What’s a few A’s among dumb people?” Lago reasons.

The fact that they want the title proves they're dumber than we are; I say we let them have it.

Microsoft .WORLD Development Proceeding On Schedule


So Bill Gates is donating another gazillion dollars to immunize poor kids. Given what we already know about Microsoft, the question you have to ask now is "What will they be immunizing them with?"

Life Imitates "Good News, Bad News, Really Bad News"

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The good news: You're contending for the win late in the Buick Invitational, and you just chipped in from the fringe...
The bad news: ...and scored a bogey...
The REALLY bad news: ...because your sand wedge eagle attempt from 95 yards away bounced out of the cup and landed in the water.

Life Imitates 24

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The plot macguffin on this season of 24 is a device that lets the user take over nuclear power plants remotely.

About four hours before the macguffin was revealed last night, the Fermi II nuclear power plant near Detroit started leaking coolant at the rate of 50 gallons per minute.

Next On The Agenda - A Shopping Cart Use Tax

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Combine this story with my local supermarkets' penchant for one-item-per-bag bagging policies, and you've got a hellacious revenue stream:

San Francisco may become the first city in the nation to charge shoppers for grocery bags.

The city's Commission on the Environment is expected to ask the mayor and board of supervisors Tuesday to consider a 17-cent per bag charge on paper and plastic grocery bags. While the goal is reducing plastic bag pollution, paper was added so as not to discriminate.
How typical of the PC crowd when they get ahold of a government - they want to legislate to prevent a specific behavior, then go out of their way to also prevent a different, unrelated behavior so they won't 'discriminate.' Discriminate against whom? People who want to have something convienient to collect their recycled newspapers in?

It would be pointless of me to observe that this would be active discrimination against everybody who doesn't already use reusable organic cruelty-free 100%-renewable-hemp-with-10%-of-sales-donated-to-Amnesty-International canvas bags, because that's the whole point of this chowderheaded scheme.

But it isn't about the money, oh, no:

"The whole point is to encourage the elimination of waste, not to make people pay more for groceries," said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste.

It isn't? OK, let's run the numbers. They want a 17 cent per bag tax, because

Officials calculate that the city spends 5.2 cents per bag annually for street litter pickup and 1.4 cents per bag for extra recycling costs.
which leaves over 10 cents per bag to go straight (heh heh) into the general fund, to pay for interspecies sensitivity training or whatever the PC Cause Of The Day is.

Yeah, sure, it isn't about the money. Pull the other leg - it plays The Internationale.

If American Digest isn't already on your daily reading list, it should be. I think Gerard has the solution to a problem that's been bothering me ever since I started working on my Master's - how to take notes in a way that they're useful when you go back to them later. My instructors' lecture styles have been all over the place so far, and I mesh with some better than others (e.g., one guy lectures to PowerPoint slides that he emails to the class beforehand; I print those up six-to-a-page before class and annotate them during his lecture, which works pretty well). My instructor this semester is an almost stream-of-consciousness guy who goes off on more tangents than a Trig final. I've had him for a class before, and when I studyed for his exams then, I often found myself wondering just how I was going to pull any useful information out of my notes.

I think today's American Digest has the answer - a framework for note-taking called the Cornell Note Taking System:

The feature I think will really make it work for me is the Cue column, and the reason I think that is because one of the things you can do with it is to play Jeopardy! by jotting down potential questions based on the information on the Notetaking column. The System recommends doing this as soon after class as possible, but I think that doing it at the same time I'm taking the actual notes would be a good way to capture my instructor's train of thought, which often runs on several tracks in perpendicular directions simultaneously.

Life Imitates Urban Legends

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OK, so it ain't quite the 'I woke up in a bathtub full of ice and one kidney was gone' legend, but it's close:

A German professor who went on a dream holiday to Costa Rica woke up in an airport departure lounge to find his leg had been amputated.

The professor said he had gone to see a doctor at a hospital in San Jose because his left foot was swollen.

He said: "An aspirin usually did the trick. I have had the problem before - it was nothing serious - just something caused by my diabetes.

"When I got to the hospital they put me on a bed and I heard the word amputate. I tried to protest, but before I knew it they had given me drugs to black me out, and when I woke up I was at the departure lounge.

"My suitcases were by my side - and then I realised my leg was missing. I couldn't move, and when I checked my wallet I found that £200 had been taken out and replaced with a receipt for the amputation.

. . .

After the operation, Prof Jurisch collapsed and was taken to a private clinic where he was diagnosed with blood poisoning.
What a ripoff. I would have done it for $100 plus gas for my chain saw.

Life Imitates My Opinion


So what do you do if you're a garbageman and you see this on a public plaza?

Art or Trash?

Yeah, I'd throw it in the back of the truck too. Unfortunately, that's the incorrect answer, and some sanitation workers in Frankfurt, Germany, have to take art appreciation classes because they did the same thing:

To the dustmen of Frankfurt, they were a mess that needed to be cleared from the streets of their spotless city. The yellow plastic sheets were swiftly scooped up, crushed and burned.

But the diligence of the rubbish collectors was little consolation to the city's prestigious art academy, which is now ruing the loss of an important work. [?!?!? - ed.]

Unknown to the binmen, the sheets were part of a city-wide exhibition of modern sculpture by Michael Beutler, a graduate of Frankfurt's Städel art school.

[Anyone? Anyone? Beutler? -ed.]

Thirty of the dustmen are now being sent to modern art classes to try to ensure that the same mistake never happens again.

. . .

The monthly "Check Your Art Sense" lessons, which start on Sunday, will involve the dustmen being shown two pictures: one from the museum's permanent exhibition and another lesser-known work from the archive. Then they will be asked to discuss the differences between them.
I can picture the class discussion already...

Dieter: Now who can tell me ze difference between zese two pieces?
Hans: Ja, I know zis. Ze vun on ze left vuld fit in vun standard veeled bin; ze uzer vuld need a #3 Dumpster.

Dip Etiquette 101: Always Use A Dented Can To Spit In


Because otherwise the guy who steals your truck might drink it by accident:

Police in Vancouver, Washington, say a man arrested held for investigation of truck theft should have looked before he swallowed.

The man, 26-year-old Cuitlahvac Renteria-Martinez of Vancouver, called 911 shortly before he was arrested to say he was choking and needed emergency medical attention.

Police say he told investigators he saw a cup as he was driving the truck, took a drink, and discovered he had swallowed the regular driver's tobacco spit.

We had something like that happen here at work several years ago: a friend brought a can of Pepsi into another (tobacco-chewing) friend's office. When he left, he took the other friend's can with him... and drank out of it. Hilarity ensued.

But you know what they say - "It's all fun and games until somebody vomits on the HR manager" - and the next thing you know, a memo was being circulated around the office banning tobacco chewing.

You. And You. Off My TV!

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There was much rejoicing at the Dangerous Logic Galactic HQ when everybody's favorite manic-psychotic couple, Jonathan and Victoria, got Philiminated from The Amazing Race. They lasted about eight episodes longer than I would have liked, but you take what you can get.

At first, I felt bad for Victoria, having to endure Jonathan screaming at her all the time, because this is America and you don't have to put up with that (specifically, it's California, where not only do you not have to put up with that, you can walk away from it and take half its stuff with you!). As the Race went on, however, I lost all sympathy for her because she's about as shrill as anybody I've ever seen on the show (including season 3's Flo). I've come to the conclusion that they're a perfect couple, because this way they're only ruining each other, rather than each of them screwing up someone else's life.

Now if we can get rid of Rebecca and her girlfriend Adam next week...

...feature creep would have ensured that they never left Rivendell! [hat tip: Gerard Vanderleun]

(Warning: semi-obscure '60s British TV reference ahead)

If you want proof that product placement/embedded advertising has gone too far, check out this still frame leaked from the in-progress remake of The Prisoner.

Oh, all right. If you don't get it, read this.

In a move that shocked the Formula One world, Pope John Paul II jumped ship from Rover to join Ferrari:

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope John Paul got a flame red Ferrari from the Italian world championship racing team on Monday . . . for having what they said was the inside track on the roads of humanity.

Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher and the rest of the Ferrari team met the Pope in the Vatican's frescoed Clementina Hall to give him the . . . car that won both the championship and constructor titles in 2004.

OK, there was some selective ellipsizing there, but this story is real:

And after [Ferrari racing team president Luca] Montezemolo's last visit, which took place in October, he revealed that Ferrari would be building a special Popemobile to mark Pope John Paul II's 26th year as pontiff.

"We will make a Ferrari Formula One car especially for the pope," Montezemolo told reporters on a visit to the Vatican City.

Nemesis Redux


He's been out of college a long time now, but I think Peyton Manning has found his new Florida.

Huh Huh, Huh Huh, He Said 'WAC'

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I'm watching the East-West Shrine Game (ooh - OUTSTANDING pass from Purdue's Kyle Orton to Purdue's Taylor Stubblefield right there - MAN, am I glad Michigan won't be facing those two guys anymore), and they just introduced Louisiana Tech RB Ryan Moats as 2004 WAC Offensive Player of the Year.

So does that mean he's a top WAC-Off?

I crack me up. But then again, I'm really 12.

An Boff De Udda Buls, Dey Air Laffin At Hem


Last year while we were vacationing on Oak Island, we met a couple who were in the process of moving down there full time in order to open a recreational center. We're trying to get ahold of them, but we've somehow lost all their contact info. I was searching back issues of the Oak Island/Southport paper to see if there was an announcement of a recreational center opening, when I found this column about, among other things, a claim against the A & Y Railroad for damages to a bull:

The following letter is an exact copy (except the original was written in pencil) which is on file in the Claim Agent’s office of the A&Y Railroad at Greensboro, NC. The writer is Mr. Simon Green, RFD No. 1, Bear Creek, NC. The letter was written in all seriousness, with no attempt to be funny.

Mr. C. F. H. Faulkner
A & Y ralerode
Greensboro, N. C.

Yore Ralerode rund over my bul at the 20 mile pose las Wensy. He air not ded, but mout as well be and I want your sexion host repote him ded and pade fur. Hit mash off boff his seed leaving him mighty little of his bag, hit tore out a pease of skin a footsquar twixt his peker and nabul, he air totaly unqualified to be a bul and he air to mamed up too bad to be a stear and he air to dam tuf fur beef, so I want you repote him ded and pay fur.

Yors truly and so forthe
Signed – Simon Green

P.S. He wur a red bul but he stand arond lookin mity dam blue these days.

To me, the funniest thing about that letter is that 'unqualified' is spelled correctly.

Yeah, But I Gotta Know - Is It $19.99 Or $1999?

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One of the features of my (kinda) new ReplayTV is Commercial Advance. When I'm watching a show it previously recorded, and it detects a commercial break, it skips ahead to the end, playing only the first few seconds of the first commercial and the last few seconds of the last commercial. Which is why I sometimes get sound bites like this:

The love of your life
Only nineteen-ninety-nine for the first three months!

I Guess I'm Not Cleared For That


There are websites for certain TV stations and newspapers that kill my internet connection entirely when I try to surf to them in IE (f'rinstance, a story linked on Drudge earlier today about a 50-car pileup on a freeway between Lansing and Detroit. The Drudge link has now been updated to a Lansing State Journal article that I can access without a problem). I get the 'This page cannot be displayed' error page for that page AND EVERY OTHER PAGE, ANYWHERE, I TRY TO ACCESS AFTERWARDS! I end up having to reboot the PC. Anybody else seen this problem? Switching off ActiveX, Java, and scripts doesn't seem to help.

Which Came First, The Chicken Or Catherine The Great?

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Last week on Bob & Tom, they had the story of the world's largest chicken egg, something like 8 inches in circumference and 6 ounces in weight. Somebody asked how they could find which chicken laid that egg.

Tom said "You go to the coop and you look for the chicken that's walking like Catherine the Great on Derby Day."

Which Of These Things Is Not Like The Others?


Can somebody explain to me the difference between the left two counters in this ad (and the difference between the right two)?

One of the advantages of a balanced offense is that defenses have to do everything right to stop it, with severe penalties for guessing wrong. Eight in the box? Well, some receiver has to be in single coverage. Nickel coverage? Run the ball.

Michigan was able to stop Cedric Benson and keep Texas' WRs from doing any real damage, and that should have been enough to make the Wolverines' 37 points hold up. But it's important to remember, when you execute your game plan, that your opponent gets a vote, and Texas pretty quickly voted to turn loose Vince Young:

After one series of the 91st Rose Bowl, Texas tight end Bo Scaife noticed a fatal flaw in Michigan's defense.

"They were playing our receivers really solid, tight man-to-man defense," said Scaife. "So tight that we didn't have much room to operate. And they were doing a great job of stopping Cedric Benson."

Scaife was then asked how could it be good for Texas that Michigan was doing a good job defending the Longhorns receivers and the fourth-leading rusher in the NCAA.

"Because the way Michigan was playing, I, we, just knew there were going to be opportunities for our quarterback."

Of course, it would have helped if Michigan had actually been able to tackle the guy once they got ahold of him...

On Second Thought, Maybe Lip-Synching Isn't So Bad

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In his whirlwind tour of the BCS bowls (except the Fiesta Bowl, but then again, who cares?), LA Times sports columnist J.J. Adande has this to say about the Orange Bowl halftime show:

The Orange Bowl halftime show is one of the greatest threats to fankind, an overproduced, overly long tribute to shlock. It's a bunch of kids in brightly colored outfits running around the field, with unimpressive singers on stage. This time it was Kelly Clarkson and Ashlee Simpson. Simpson was booed at the start and finish of her act, and was complaining about the audio system to an underling as she left the stage. [emphasis added]
Given that Simpson's performance was actually live rather than lip-synched (q.v. the SNL debacle), I'm guessing she said something like "I can't believe you idiots actually turned my microphone on!"

Defending The BCS

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Yes, the BCS is an abomination that must be stopped, but I am thankful for it this year because an old-school Rose Bowl would have seen the Wolverines thrown into the wood chipper that is Southern Cal. And I don't think they would have done any better than Oklahoma did.

OTOH, had Mack Brown not lobbied for Texas, and Cal had gotten the Rose Bowl nod, Michigan would have won, so I guess you've got to take the bad with the good.

People reviews Michael Crichton's latest, State of Fear:

But the hardware outshines the leaden plot, which involves an attempt by environmentalists trying to save the planet and is burdened by Crichton's disquisitions about global warming being a fraud. Padding for this 603-pager comes from graphs and pseudo-brainy dialogue ("I tested that hypothesis and found it heuristically valuable"). Scary? You bet.
--People, January 10, 2005, p. 48

Translation: "It expresses politically incorrect opinions and uses words we don't understand. We don't like it."

No Dead Pool For You! One Year!

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About this time last year, I thought "Dammit! I forgot to join Dead Pool 2004!" Fortunately, this year (or rather, late last year - like really late - like noon on New Year's Eve) I remembered, and so I'm currently in first place in this year's Dead Pool.

Tied with everybody else.

With zero points.

Here's my roster, by category. In parentheses after each entry is the number of Poolers picking the prosepective stiff.

    Fear And Loathing In The Former Soviet Union:
  • Eduard Shevardnadze. Former president of Georgia, just not 'former' enough for some people. (4)
  • Viktor Yushchenko. The Russian FSB will try again, and they'll be successful. Y'know, they're really slipping - the KGB would have gotten it right the first time, and we wouldn't figure out how they did it for another ten years. (10)
  • Ivan Rybkin. Russian reform politician - not a real growth industry right now. Ran for President against Putin in 2004. Disappeared for a few days late in the campaign to 'generate publicity.' Generated so much that he dropped out of the race. Leader of a political party that split, with the leader of the rival faction getting himself whacked. (Solo!)
  • Boris Yeltsin. His liver checked out years ago; his body will surely follow soon. (13)
    Generic Old Famous Farts:
  • Pope John Paul II. I think dude may be dead already, and they're just propping him up and moving his mouth Muppet-style. (88 - the most-selected potential deader)
  • Dick Clark. His next show: American Can'tstand. (36 - fifth-most-selected)
  • Betty Friedan (Solo!)
  • I.M. Pei (Solo!)
  • Y.A. Tittle. I just wanted to be able to say 'Tittle.' (Solo!)
  • Bo Schembechler. It'd break my heart if he died, but he's already had two heart attacks, more heart intrigue this year, and Michigan's defense played bad enough the second half of this season to put him in his grave. (Solo!)
  • Joe Paterno. Because it's the only hope Penn State has of being a top twenty team again in my lifetime. (3)
    Doesn't Some Rapper Get Capped Every Year?
  • 50 Cent. He's been driven-by already, so the potential's there, but in retrospect I think Suge Knight might have been a more likely pick. (8 for 50 Cent, 4 for Suge Knight)
    Department of Wishful Thinking:
  • Janeane Garofalo. Used to be funny, and almost attractive. Amazing what terminal BDS can do to a person. (Solo!)
  • Ted Rall. Just a loathsome human being. There are very few people that I think the world would be better off without; he may be one of them. (3)

So Did The Picture Of Dorian Gray Finally Break?

| 1 Comment

Unremembered fellow partier at New Year's Eve party: "Why is Regis doing the New Year's Eve show?"

Me: "Because 'Dick Clark's Droolin' New Year's Eve' would be a ratings disaster."

Same Song, Different Verse


If you'd have told me before the Rose Bowl that Michigan's offense would

  • not turn the ball over
  • only allow one sack
  • throw for four touchdowns
  • go 3-3 on field goals

And that their defense and special teams would

  • get two turnovers
  • hold Benson scoreless and under 100 yards
  • get four kick returns to around midfield
I'd have replied that either Michigan won big or Vince Young killed them.

And we all know what happened.


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