October 31, 2007
This Week in Sports
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October 30, 2007
The Young and the Scary
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Halloween is tomorrow. On the eve of that scariest of nights, I'm not frightened of werewolves (ahhh wooo!) or zombies or bats (okay, I am scared of bats). No, I'm afraid of teenagers. Witness this letter to editor from DeForest (WI) high school student Karly Nehls. Karly thinks you shouldn't be playing so much online poker, and you certainly shouldn't make it your job!
Online poker should not be as accessible as it is. Simply checking a box should not be enough to prove one's age. We need to make the age limit for online gambling 21 and it needs to be proven in a way to keep out underaged people.
Also, there should be a maximum weekly time limit for anyone to play, around one hour a week. This will prevent addiction, and people considering online poker a job. Poker needs to become more of a pastime again, and less vocational.
Wow, she's quite a little dictator isn't she? Sounds like Karly is ready to make the move to Madison. God knows we need another liberal who knows what's best for the rest of us, and isn't afraid to have the government force us to do it. Imagine the mischief we'd get into without people like Karly around to keep us in line.
Is this the youth of tomorrow? Where are the rebels? Where are the fire breathers? Where are the rabble rousers? What in the world are we teaching our children (don't answer - it's too scary!)?
October 26, 2007
College Football Picks - Week Nine
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After last week (and last night) only five unbeaten teams remain. We know Boston College will make it to next week, but what about everyone else?
#6 West Virginia at #25 Rutgers: For a team with such a gaudy ranking, West Virginia sure hasn't done much. Rutgers, on the other hand, is coming off the big upset of South Florida. I think they started off rough, but are now just hitting their best stride. The pick: Rutgers.
Indiana at Wisconsin: It's homecoming here in lovely Madison. It's also Halloween weekend. Yikes! I think Indiana is going to give the Badgers fits. We don't match up well against their offense. But, I also think that, at home, we'll be able to fall back on the running game (particularly since Lance Smith can play) and grind out another unimpressive victory, not that anyone will see it since the game's on the f'ing Big Ten Network. The pick: Wisconsin.
#9 USC at #5 Oregon: Why is Oregon ranked so high? They lost at home to California who hasn't won a game since. They beat Michigan, who is in the Big Ten (and therefore sucks). The beat Washington State and Washington, but when Wisconsin and Ohio State beat those teams we heard all about how bad they were, so how impressive can Oregon really be? I mean, my God, they are no better than a Big Ten team (gasp!). I'm not sold on USC either, but they'll win the coaching matchup and they've won the last two games in Eugene. The pick: USC.
#9 Florida at #20 Georgia: Having watched Florida a few times, I've come to the following conclusion - they have one good player. Tim Tebow is a fabulous college QB. When allowed to do his thing, he can move the ball. If he's not the focus of the offense, I don't think Florida can do much. They're like the Minnesota Vikings, but only if the Viqueens figured out that they have a really, really good running back. So anyway, the pick is Florida. Have a cocktail.
#12 Kansas at Texas A&M: Okay, have you actually looked at KU's schedule? It really is just awful. No Oklahoma. No Texas. A&M's not great, but they're decent enough to make the clock strike midnight. The pick: Texas A&M.
#1 Ohio State at #24 Penn State: Ohio State was horrible in last year's National Champion game. That means exactly nothing this year. However, because of that game, Ohio State is getting no national respect. They deserve it. They've been dominating all year. Penn State is a very tough place to play (as Wisconsin fans painfully know), but Ohio State's defense is good enough to quiet any crowd. The pick: Ohio State.
#18 California at #7 Arizona State: Hey, did you know that Arizona State is undefeated? Seriously. Not only that, John Elway's kid committed to the school last week. Good times in Tempe. I know Cal should be all made and out for blood after losing two in a row, but the Sun Devils should have a rocking house for this night game and they'll be fired up too, trying to prove they're not a fraud. This could be an intense, fun game to watch. The pick: Arizona State.
October 25, 2007
2007 Breeders Cup Picks
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This year, the Breeders Cup adds three races and spans two days, so my annual picks come a day early. I admit that I haven't given these picks that much thought this year, but at least I'm in no danger of over analyzing the races. Whew!
Filly & Mare Sprint
The first Friday races kick off with distaff sprinters. As with the males, analysts always say that there's tons of speed in the race and that therefore a closer will win. Sometimes that's true, but sometimes there's a speed of the speed. If that's the case, then give me that horse. I this race, Shaggy Mane fits the bill. She's gotten the lead in her last 11 starts. She doesn't always win, but I feel like with that kind of style she'll give herself a fighting chance, all with a tasty 12-1 morning line. Honorable mention: La Traviata and Wild Gams.
In this race, I want a two-year old with some turf success and/or a strong turf pedigree. I think an outside post would be difficult to overcome. Putting it all together, I like Gio Ponti, who's 2-2 on the turf, out of an Alydar mare (Alydar is a strong turf influence in pedigrees) and is trained by a good turf trainer in Christopher Clement. Honorable mention: Prussion and Strike The Deal.
A mile on the dirt is a funny race. Traditionally, good milers are the best stallions. I think it's because the mile requires a unique combination of speed and stamina. The first dirt mile is absolutely loaded with speed. Discreet Cat, Gottcha Gold, High Finance and Wanderin Boy are all quick horses. I think that'll they battle each other to the death and Corinthian will swoop past them for the victory like he did in this year's grade 1 Metropolitian Mile. Honorable mention: Discreet Cat and Xchanger.
Saturday's races kick off with the two-year old fillies. What I want in this race is a filly that has looked decent in a two-turn race, has improving or steady speed figures and is not in an outside post position due to the short run into the first turn at Monmouth Park. Of course, that's the ideal. In the real world, I'll be happy to settle for Indian Blessing. She hasn't run around two turns yet, but she also hasn't lost. She's going to be favored, but a few favorites do win on Breeders Cup day and I think she'll be one of them. Honorable mention: Tasha's Miracle and Irish Smoke.
I loved Dixie Chatter in this race, but he was unfortunately scratched yesterday. As with the fillies, I'd like a colt with two-turn experience, improving numbers and an inside post. Shore Do has all of those attributes and a pedigree that says he'll improve with distance. He's a huge longshot, but he was just three lengths behind Dixie Chatter in his last and he's ever right to do better here. Honorable mention: Old Man Buck and Slew's Tiznow.
Filly & Mare Turf
In the Filly & Mare Turf, I want a horse with success at the Grade or Group 1 level. Because it might be wet in New Jersey this weekend, I'd like a horse with success on soggy turf and, believe it or not, I have a bias towards French-trained runners. Really. Unfortunately, there are no good Frenchies this year. Boo! There is, however, the unbeaten Nashoba's Key. While you always have to respect an unbeaten horse, I'm not sold on her because she hasn't raced outside California and she hasn't raced on soft turf. I'm going to go with Wait a While. Her form is a little erratic, but she's also excelled in a variety of conditions. My Typhoon, who has beaten Wait a While a couple of times this year, isn't in this field, so I think things are going to open up for this lovely gray mare. Honorable mention: Lahudood and Nashoba's Key.
My key to the sprint is to find a good 6 furlong specialist. Not a good 7 furlong runner or a good miler. Nope - I want a pure sprinter. This year I like Smokey Stover breaking from the one hole. "Smokey" is 5 for 6 this year, all at 6 or 6 1/2 furlongs. He's won all over the country, including at Monmouth Park. He's a versatile sort who can get to the lead or hang just off of it, as circumstances require. I'm sold. Honorable mention: Idiot Proof and Greg's Gold.
The Mile is about one thing and one thing only - who can run the quickest final quarter of a mile. Seriously. Sometimes you'll do some calculations and find a clear fastest finisher. This year, not so much. No one in this field stands out to me but I did like Nobiz Like Shobiz's last start where he gained four lengths in the last quarter. His running line paints the right picture too: "going away late", "hard drive", "good finish outside", "all out, prevailed". Honorable mention: Purim and Host.
Without Rags to Riches, I think the Distaff will come down to the top three finishers in the Beldame Stakes: Ginger Punch, Indian Vale and Unbridled Belle. This really isn't the best reason, but I'm going to pick Indian Vale because she's a daughter of A.P. Indy, and the "Indys" have been good to me over the years. Honorable mention: Unbridled Belle and Teammate.
Dylan Thomas is the hot favorite here, but I think that this is a just a side trip on his road to stud. His big target was the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (which he won). I think he's over the top, but I don't think there's anyone in this race good enough to beat him even if he only brings his "C" game. Honorable mention: Shamdinan and Grand Couturier.
The classic is a fantastic race this year with Street Sense, Curlin, Lawyer Ron, Any Given Saturday, Hard Spun and Tiago in the field. Street Sense lost the Kentucky Cup Classic to Hard Spun last out, but that was a prep. This is the target. Street Sense's amazing acceleration will catapult him past this field and straight to a stud as the first horse to ever win two different Breeders Cup races. Honorable mention: Any Given Saturday and Curlin.
Good luck everyone!
October 23, 2007
A Strange (and potentially offensive) Question
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He held up a postcard with an image of the Twin Towers. It read: "Everyone who knew me before 9/11 believes I'm dead."
I've often speculated that at least five or six people used 9/11 to fake their own death. What do you think? Did anyone take advantage of the attack like that? And, is it weird that I even think about these things?
Smug Alert - Now 100% Organic
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An article in the New York Times today gives consumers five easy ways to go organic. That's great. If you want to switch and eat more organic foods, go for it.
But, reading the comments to the article, I realized that it's not that simple. You probably don't just want to eat organic. You really need to eat food produced locally. And, if you really, really care about the Earth, you should grow your own food. Oh, and don't eat meat. And for god's sake don't have kids. Kids are bad. Basically, human beings are really bad for the Earth. And, if you don't eat organic food it's probably because you're too cheap and would rather spend your money on McMansions, SUVs and tiny American flags.
Let me say again, I don't think there's anything wrong with eating organic or locally grown food. I'd love to get a CSA share myself (I figure it'd make me eat more vegetables, but seriously, it really is quite expensive - a luxury if you will). If you want to be a vegetarian, more power to you and more bacon for me. If you don't want kids - hey, that's fine - I'll be happy not to pay for their health care and schooling.
But, this is nutrition as religion. I'm a little in the love with a "Corporate Apologist" who says:
I shouldn’t really comment because it’s my mother taught me that you shouldn’t criticize other people’s religions, but this entire structure of thought is just that. The underlying, non-negotiable axiom is that man-made chemicals are inherently harmful. And they’re not. ... But since it’s easy to convince yourself that something with a guy in an Amish hat on the label tastes better than something that says ‘Cargill,’ there’s clearly a lot of money to be made among the wealthy, bored, and overfed of the U.S. But please spare us the preaching. Your theology isn’t quite self-consistent and tends to be intrusive upon my breakfast.
Can I get an "Amen"? As with all religions, followers of Organics aren't basing their beliefs in facts. It's faith. The article's author even says:
I can tell you now that a few studies have shown nutritional benefits — for instance I know there is data on processed tomatoes that show the organic brands have more antioxidants. But other studies have shown commercial products have more lycopene, which is also an antioxidant. I think the data on whether there is extra nutrition in organic food is mixed and I don’t think there is evidence to support buying organic because it has better nutrition. Organic foods don’t necessarily have less fat content or less sugar either, so it’s always important to read the label. The main benefit of organic foods to consumers, I believe is that you will generally get a lower level of pesticide and chemical exposure in organic foods than commercially processed foods. However, as the story notes, even some commercially-farmed foods — like onions — already have very little pesticide residue no matter how they are farmed. Whether lower pesticide levels in food translates into a real health benefit to the individual, I don’t believe there is any data to support that eating organic makes you healthier than eating commercial foods. However, it’s an option for consumers. We have exposure to so many different things in the environment we can’t control, I personally like the idea of controlling what little I can, and the food I eat and feed my family is one area. Now, I can tell you that in my personal experience, organic turkeys taste a lot better than commercial brands. That’s purely anecdotal and has no scientific basis, of course, and it may be that I just did a better job of cooking it
Is eating organic really about anything more than a feeling? I'm starting to think it's not. The people who posted comments to this article eat organic food not so much because of the way it makes them feel, but for the way it makes them feel about themselves. They're good people.
I think lots of people out there want to make the world a better place. But, like most of us, they don't want to do anything about it if it's too hard. Buying organic food is easy. It's a magic bullet. You can save the world while making a trip to your local co-op. Sweet!
October 22, 2007
Marketers, Social Scientists Run out of Letters
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As the first Baby Boomers start to collect Social Security, marketers and social scientists are turning their attention to the next rising generation: Generation (you guessed it) Z.
A bunch of "experts" are already making huge generalizations about the 11 and under set. I'm not interested. I do, however, find this hilarious:
Members of Generation Z (those born since 1996) are the children of Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1977), and they are expected to be the most technically savvy group in history. This is a group that is growing up with high-speed Internet connections and wireless technology.
Capturing the attention of the now elementary and pre-school consumers in the years to come will require more creative, subtle and technologically advanced approaches by advertisers, Lavigne said. Generation Y (born between 1978 and 1995) is just starting to procreate, but it's unclear how that generation will be labeled.
I'm gonna go out on a limb here, but how about we take a cue from Microsoft Excel and call them Generation AA? Ugh.
If I was a member of Generation Y, I'd be pissed. At least Generation X has a meaning. Naming the next generations "Y" and "Z" is just lazy. Damn slackers.
I like the names William Strauss and Neil Howe came up with much better: the Millennial Generation and the Homeland Generation. At least they have a chance in hell of meaning something to those kids, rather than just being a reflection of generations past.
As an aside, think of your favorite President. Chances are that you'll share the same Strauss & Howe generational type. Washington is my man, and sure enough, we're both Nomads, Washington being a member of the aptly named "Liberty Generation".
Six Reasons to Watch the Breeders Cup
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Although I'll be off watching racing of another sort, I have to recommend that you give the Breeders Cup a try on Saturday. As a sporting event, the Cup has it all...heart-pounding finishes, colorful characters, international flavor and incredible beauty. The fact that you can also win a little money on it is just icing on the cake.
I'm planning on writing some Cup previews and predictions later this week, but in the meantime here are a few videos that demonstrate some of the best attributes of the Breeders Cup, and horse racing in general.
This could also be titled "hope" or "dreams", as nothing inspires those feelings more than a promising two-year old colt.
On the other hand, few things are more devastating than being on the losing end of a photo finish.
Of course, there's always next year for some sweet redemption.
You know how sometimes you look forward to the Big Game, and it turns out to be a snoozer? Well, in the Breeders Cup sometimes it turns out to be even better than you could ever have imagined.
Remember what I said about that icing on the cake. Lots and lots and lots of icing!
Racehorses want to run. That desire has been bred into them for centuries. The best of them are full of fire and fight.
A great horse is perfect. What, for example, would you change about Secretariat? The answer is, of course, nothing.
I can't promise that this year's Breeders Cup will have anything to match those six races, but odds are that it will come close. That's racing!
October 21, 2007
R.I. P. Max McGee
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A few months ago, I wrote about the reaction to the death of Phil Rizzuto. I had no idea who Rizzuto was, but I understood the affection New Yorkers had for him because of the way I felt about Bob Uecker, Jim Irwin and Max McGree. Max McGee died yesterday after falling from his roof while blowing leaves. As Joe from Sheboygan said on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel forum, "We've all lost a favorite uncle".
Nationally, most people know McGee as a hard partying Packers receiver who played through a hangover to have a spectacular game in the very first Super Bowl. There was so much more to McGee than that. He was an Air Force pilot. After his playing career, he helped start up the Chi-Chi's restaurant chain. He founded a research center to help fight juvenile diabetes. He was named Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year ten times.
I can remember listening to Max's color commentary on Packers games since I was a little girl (that is, when his words weren't drowned out by my Dad yelling about the "goddamn Packers"). Even though he was an ex-player, he was somehow the people's representative in the booth. Max said what the rest of us were thinking (and he was also probably drinking what the rest of us were drinking ;-). It's easy enough to find clips of Max's work online. You can even listen to a rebroadcast of Super Bowl XXXI.. But, it's the little moments that made Max so much fun to listen to. For example, Jim Mick relates this story on the aforementioned Journal Sentinel forum:
I remember after a bud commercial during a game Max said, October 22 or something like that. Jim Irwin asked what he was doing and Max said that he was just reading the Born On Date on his beer.
That's pure Max. I found this great Max quote this morning:
When it's third and ten, you can take the milk drinkers and I'll take the whiskey drinkers every time.
It goes without saying that Max McGee was a whiskey drinker. He'll be missed. Rest in peace, Max.
October 19, 2007
College Football Picks - Week Eight
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Another undefeated bit the dust last night as South Florida lost to Rutgers. When this weekend's dust settles, who will be left? Let's see!
Northern Illinois at Wisconsin: It's nice that Wisconsin found a team it might actually be able to beat. I think this will be close, but at the end Northern Illinois will screw up and Wisconsin will luck their way into another victory. The pick: Wisconsin
Michigan State at #1 Ohio State: If this was in Lansing, I'd be a little worried about the Buckeyes. In Columbus, however, I think the crowd will help keep their heads in the game and they'll maintain their #1 ranking for another week. The pick: Ohio State.
#14 Florida at #8 Kentucky: Mel Kiper tried to make the argument on the radio this morning that Florida was really the best team in the nation. Hey - they got beat. TWICE! If they were the best team in the country, they wouldn't have lost. All that said, I think they'll actually win this weekend. Kentucky is coming off a huge win over LSU and it's hard to imagine they'll be up for another big game already. The pick: Florida.
#22 Texas Tech at #15 Missouri: Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell, with 31 TDs already, should probably be in the mix for the Heisman Trophy. This is his chance to shine on a bigger stage against a Missouri team that's clearly much better than I give them credit for. Other than in their win against Nebraska, Missouri gives up a lot of points. Texas Tech scores a lot of points. I think this will be a shootout and the team with the better gunslinger will win. The pick: Texas Tech.
#18 Auburn at #5 LSU: Remember back when LSU and USC were shoo ins for the National Championship Game. Yeah, not so much anymore. Suddenly, left-for-dead Auburn is back in the picture. I'd be all over Auburn if this game were in Alabama. Unfortunately, LSU is going to be out for redemption and their crowd will be all liquored up and ready to go. The pick: LSU.
October 17, 2007
Taxing Dot Com
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I like Madison's former mayor, Paul Soglin. Sure, I disagree with his liberal politics, but I do appreciate his no nonsense attitude. Today, however, he has got something wrong. Soglin's upset with the House voting to extend the Internet tax moritorium. His spin is that the moritorium punishes small and local retailers:
So when you order that book from a seller that does not have a nexus to your state, every book dealer in your state is disadvantaged. It means that the Internet purchase you make on eBay not only places your local merchant at a disadvantage, but that you and that merchant have to make up for the billions of dollars in lost sales tax revenues.
I always thought Soglin was living in the 1960s, but apparently, he's really living in the 1990s - the days when Internet merchants were a bunch of maverick standalones. Now, most huge web sellers are part of a multichannel companies that include catalogs and stores. I looked up the top 25 largest retail web sites (according to Internet Retailer's guide) and found that 20 of them would charge me sales tax on an order. Most major online retailers already charge tax.
You know who doesn't charge sales tax? The local merchants that the law allegedly puts at a disadvantage. Plenty of enterprising small businessmen and women take online orders from all over the place. If I live in California, I can order sales tax-free from Madison's own Soap Opera, but not if I want to buy something online from Bath & Body Works (part of the 16th biggest web retailer). You could certainly argue that the Internet tax moritorium doesn't result in any "lost" dollars because tax revenue lost from local online shoppers are gained by local online merchants.
All that said, I kind of agree with Soglin that the law shouldn't have been extended. Why should Mom & Pop businesses get a tax break when Wal-Mart and Target and Staples don't? It's time for big business to fight back!
October 12, 2007
Get your Gore on
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So Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize. Oh boy. Before everyone gets too far gone in the Algorgasm, I'd like to point out that the following people have also won the Nobel Peace Prize: Woodrow Wilson (how'd that League of Nations work out?), Frank Kellogg & Nicholas Murray Butler (good thing we had the Kellogg-Briand Pact. That certainly prevented war after the 1920s. Whew!), Yasser Arafat (I don't even need to put anything sarcastic in parentheses for this one), the United Nations & Kofi Annan (mind you, this is AFTER they bailed on the genocide in Rwanda) and Jimmy Carter (what genocide?).
Of course, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to truly deserving giants like Mother Teresa, Norman Borlaug, George Marshall, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lech Walesa.
But, as Wikipedia helpfully notes:
A particular claimed weakness of the Nobel Peace Prize awarding process is the swiftness of recognition. The scientific and literary Nobel Prizes are usually issued in retrospect, often two or three decades after the intellectual achievement, thus representing a time-proven confirmation and balance of approval by the established academic community, seldom contradicted by newer developments. In contrast, the Nobel Peace Prize at times takes the form of summary judgment, being issued in the same year as or the year immediately following the political act. Some commentators have suggested that to award a peace prize on the basis of unquantifiable contemporary opinion is unjust or possibly erroneous, especially as many of the judges cannot themselves be said to be impartial observers.
Bingo! So, don't get too upset or too excited about Al Gore. It is history, not the Peace Prize Committee, that'll determine whether he's a hero or a goat.
October 11, 2007
College Football Picks - Week Seven
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So, uh, yeah, my picks last week were horrible. Go ahead, mock me. I deserve it. Now, let's see if I can't do better this week.
Purdue at Michigan: Purdue is reeling. Michigan has new life. They're both probably just so-so teams, but Michigan is ready to give fans in the Big House something to cheer quietly about again. The pick: Michigan.
#19 Wisconsin at Penn State: With Luke Swan out for the year, I feel like Badgers QB Tyler Donovan is going to be lost. The Badgers don't play well in Happy Valley and this is going to be the start of a slide that will result in Allan Evridge getting behind center soon. The pick: Penn State. Boo.
#1 LSU at #17 Kentucky: Kentucky, like my Badgers, were exposed last weekend. This week they'll be ravaged, plundered and pillaged. The pick: LSU.
#11 Missouri at #6 Oklahoma: Missouri surprised me. I thought they get handled by Nebraska. Not one to learn from my mistakes, I think they'll get handled again but what might be the top team in the country. The pick: Oklahoma.
Washington St. at #9 Oregon: Oregon got a week off to enjoy their high ranking and bask in the glow of their victory over Cal. Wait? Didn't they lose? Yep, they did. To me, Oregon looks primed for an upset. I don't quite have the guts to predict it, but I think it's going to be close. Very close. The pick: Oregon.
October 10, 2007
Global Warming Fashion
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An article in the UK's Independent today talks about how the fashion industry is adjusting to global warming. Really:
"The whole fashion industry will have to change", Beppe Modenese, founder of Milan Fashion Week, told The New York Times last week. He said the industry "must adapt to the reality that there is no strong difference between summer and winter any more".
Do you know what's really happening here? Retailers are suffering through a sluggish fall. Executives and managers at these companies have people coming up to them every day asking why it's happening. The knee-jerk answer, as it has been for decades and decades, is "the weather". Why blame your product, pricing or promotions when you can blame the weather. It's the ultimate scapegoat! Don't believe me? Check out this article from last March in which retailers blame cold weather for poor sales.
Of course, you might say that maybe now it really is the weather. After all, much of the United States has enjoyed a long, warm Indian summer. Not so fast, my friend. I've noticed that when the weather's hot it's an undeniable sign of impending global doom. Likewise, when the weather's cold or snowy, it's also a sign of impending global doom:
And this is why global warming is such a great theory politically and such a lousy theory scientifically: regardless of what happens — heat waves, cold spells, more snow, less snow, whatever — it is always spun as something that “might be a sign of global warming.”
After all, it was just over two years ago that record cold temperatures in Europe were being heralded as the latest evidence for global warming. The “theory” was that warming the oceans would foul up the Atlantic gulf stream (which keeps Europe warm), thus driving European temperatures down.
Without the Gulf Stream, temperatures in the UK and north-west Europe would be five degrees centigrade or so cooler, with bitter winters at least as fierce as those of the so-called Little Ice Age in the 17th to 19th centuries.
So wrote Bill McGuire in The Guardian, in an article which was headlined — apparently without intended irony — “Will global warming trigger a new ice age?"
So, if you are a global warming believer, then if temperatures go up it’s because of global warming — and if temperatures go down, it’s also because of global warming. There is no conceivable, let alone actual, evidence that might indicate there is not global warming. No matter what happens, it’s because of global warming.
So, the gist of it is that global warming may or may not be causing hot and/or cold weather. Gotcha. Clearly major corporations should be using that kind of insight to make important business decisions.
October 04, 2007
College Football Picks - Week Six
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As of 9:27 PM central time on 10/4/2007, there are only 15 undefeated college football teams. With Kentucky losing, it looks like we'll be down to 14 by the evening's end. Will anyone else join the one loss club?
Kansas at #24 Kansas State: Kansas is one of the fearsome 15. Of course, they're unbeaten against the likes of Central Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International. Kansas State, on the other hand, beat Texas in Texas and only lost to a resurgent Auburn. The one loss club needs to make room for another member. The pick: Kansas State.
#5 Wisconsin at Illinois: After last year's tough game, I feared Illinois even before they became this week's chic upset pick. The Badgers have looked bad, but they've found a way to win. I'm really worried about this game, but rampant homerism forces me to pick Wisconsin.
#10 Oklahoma at #19 Texas: How the mighty have fallen, huh? Both of these teams lost last weekend, but while Texas got blown out at home by a good team, Oklahoma lost a close one on the road to the bad team. To me, that says that Oklahoma was looking ahead, but that Texas just isn't that good. The pick: Oklahoma.
#15 Virginia Tech at #22 Clemson: I may not know much about football, but in my years of making picks, I've come to realize that Clemson is utterly predictable in their inconsistency. They were upset last week. They play a higher ranked team this week. Clearly this means they're primed for their own upset. The pick: Clemson.
#4 Ohio State at #23 Purdue: Purdue is unbeaten after having played pretty much the same lame schedule as Kansas (two of the same teams). Ohio State, on the other hand, has a nice road win against a good Washington team under their belt. Ohio State may be young, but they're learning fast. In this battle of unbeatens, the pick is Ohio State.
#9 Florida at #1 LSU: Wasn't Upset Saturday fun? I know this game is in Baton Rouge, but I just get the feeling that Tim Tebow is going to play huge and basically pull his teammates to the win. Look for a fun, exciting and ultimately satisfying game (unless you're a LSU fan). The pick: Florida.
#25 Nebraska at #17 Missouri: Missouri is a cupcake glutton and Nebraska's defense isn't nearly as bad as the hype. I know it's on the road, but it's Missouri for god's sake. I think they knock them off rather easily. The pick:
October 03, 2007
A Self-Fulfilling Poll
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Pajamas Media, they of the revolutionary tagline "all the news the MSM forgot" have a Presidential Straw Poll that you can vote in every week. However, don't go there and think that you're going to state your preference for Mike Gravel or Duncan Hunter or, god forbid, Ron Paul (and really, this is all about Ron Paul) because Pajamas Media doesn't think you should be able to vote for so called "second tier" candidates:
NEW DEAL: Pajamas Media editors have noted that the number of weekly votes in our poll has diminished drastically from the tens of thousands cast at the outset. For months now, many readers have been complaining to us about the increasing inutility of the poll because of vote-swarming by second tier candidates. Many voters have lost interest and are not participating. Websites that had run our widget were no longer doing so.
Something needed to change.
Therefore, especially since the campaign itself appears to be narrowing its focus to front-running candidates, henceforth the Pajamas Media Poll will be restricted to those first tier candidates listed on the front poll page of the leading online poll aggregator Real Clear Politics. As of now, that is four candidates on the Democratic side and five on the Republican. We will change our lineup on the Sunday after RCP does, if it does.
Dumb question: if certain candidates were winning the straw poll, how can they be second tier? They're winning. That automatically puts them in the first tier. And what is "vote-swarming"? Does that mean that a candidate's supporters organize themselves and encourage people to vote for their candidate in the poll? How is this any different from other "get out the vote" efforts? Should we downgrade candidates because of a superior grassroots organization? Of course not.
The problem here is that the results don't fit what the editors of Pajamas Media wanted to see. And, with apologies to Johnnie Cochran, if the results don't fit, I guess you ignore it. How, uh, MSM of them. I thought the whole exciting thing about the new media was that we the people would have broader access to ideas. There would be no big media gatekeepers. Well guess what? Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.