Monday, December 31, 2007

Poker: A Metaphor for Life

Teddy Roosevelt and the Square Deal:
A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled, and less than that no man shall have.
He would later expand on this idea:
When I say I believe in a square deal, I do not mean to give every man the best hand. If the cards do not come to any man, or if they do come and he has not got the power to play them, that is his affair. All I mean is that there shall be no crookedness in the dealing.
This is about as close to my personal political philosophy as any 100-year-old quote can come. And just for good measure, here's some more TR:
Thrice happy is the nation that has a glorious history. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
Indeed.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Most Excellent



Edit: You know, if you're going to have a "Commercials" tag, you might as well use it. Also, this commercial is about 6 months old.

--Rico

I'm not sure what's going on here,

but I want to be a part of it.



As longtime friends know, Big Jim and I spent the better part of our college years playing the original Super Smash Bros. If the Wii version were available during that time, let's just say there would have been blood shed.

"Get in the fray!"

Friday, December 28, 2007

A word of caution

If you don't care for the song "Frere Jacques," you probably shouldn't have a child.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Who's up for some Christmas late night election discussion?

I know I am!

Actually, I'm on late night guard in case my son wakes up. He may or may not be sick and is definitely teething, so he's hurting quite a bit.

Let's start with a look at the Democratic field.

Here, there are three names that merit any consideration: Hillary, Barack, and Edwards. Edwards is at an immediate disadvantage, since he must suffer the indignity of being identifiable only by his last name.

Hillary's advantages and disadvantages are almost universally known. Pluses: Strong name recognition, a competent and professional organization, a large lead in national polls. Minuses: a vitriolic hatred from nearly half the nation, significant past scandals, a cold demeanor. If she wins Iowa and New Hampshire, she will unquestionably win the nomination. If she fails to win those states, she'll still likely be the favorite, but the race will become much more interesting.

Obama's strength lies in his compelling stump speech, his unprecedented fundraising skills, and his ability to market himself as the candidate of 'change.' His formidable talents, however, have not translated into strong debate performances or a surge in national polls. He does have considerable support in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. To win the nomination, he's going to have to close strong in Iowa to convince Democratic partisans that he is (1) experienced enough to lead the country and (2) strong enough to fight off Republican attacks.

Edwards is an interesting case. Four years ago, he rode his boyish good looks, inoffensive speech, and southern charm to give John Kerry his only real opposition in the primaries. This time around, he's the unapologetic, fire-breathing populist liberal who hasn't found a rich person he can't disparage. He has many weaknesses as a candidate, foremost the contrast between his rhetoric and his lifestyle, but he appeals to the Angry Left. He has very little support after the early states, so to have any chance at winning the nomination, he's going to have to win Iowa convincingly and ride a wave of free media coverage into the other states. Anything short of a large Iowa victory will not be enough.

Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, and Dennis Kucinich are irrelevant. Having said that, I think Biden's been spectacular in the debates I've seen.

On the Republican side, there are six (Six!) candidates worth discussing.

Rudy Giuliani has long been the national frontrunner. For more than a year, he's led virtually every national poll of Republicans, based on his strong name recognition and great support as New York City's 9/11 mayor. The question a year ago is the same question he faces today: How will his liberal social policies affect his chances? As the first primaries become closer, it appears that the answer is "Considerably and negatively." Though Rudy has done an admirable job on the campaign trial playing up his national security and low-tax credentials, his denial of the pro-life segment of the party has begun to hurt him. To win the nomination, he simply has to do well enough to get to February 5th with enough credibility to carry states like Florida.

Before Giuliani was the frontrunner, most observers expected John McCain to be the party's 2008 nominee. However, over the past 18 months, McCain's campaign imploded and appeared on the verge of ruin. It's only been over the past few months that conservative voters have given him a second look and decided that they might like what they see. His weaknesses (a maverick reputation, a good relationship with the media, and his age) aren't going away, but McCain appears to be positioning himself as the second choice of many voters. To win, he'll need to replicate his 2000 success in New Hampshire and convince enough conservatives that he is the least of several evils.

Of the major contenders, only Mitt Romney has run a traditional Republican campaign. Romney has spent millions more than anyone in Iowa, campaigned aggressively in New Hampshire, and touted his conservative credentials. Those credentials, however, have come into question because of Romney's changed position on many issues. It's expected that candidates will position themselves effectively to win elections, but when a politician changes his position on abortion, stem-cell research, gun rights, immigration, and a host of other issues, it leaves voters wondering what the man really believes. For Romney to win, I believe he must win Iowa. Given the time and money he invested there, anything other than a victory will inevitably be portrayed as a failure.

Mike Huckabee has come from nowhere to be Romney's most credible challenger in Iowa. The former governor of Arkansas has used a strong emphasis on religion as well as a unique brand of working class populism to appeal to a large segment of primary voters who had been dissatisfied with the slate of candidates. Since his meteoric rise in the polls, Huckabee has faced increased scrutiny over his tenure as governor and inconsistencies within his positions. Like Romney, Huckabee probably needs to win Iowa to have a realistic shot at winning the nomination. He faces an uphill battle because he lacks Romney's fundraising revenues as well as Giuliani's and McCain's name recognition. Consequently, free media coverage is a key to his campaign.

Fred Thompson is the last of the major Republican candidate. A year ago, no one considered him as a possibility, but six months ago, he was viewed as a potential savior in an otherwise weak field. Like most political messiahs, Thompson has underwhelmed. (See also Clark, Wesley.) Thompson has shown little desire to do the kind of retail politicking necessary in Iowa and New Hampshire and has instead seemed content to rely on his fame to earn him the nomination. Thompson's best shot at winning the nomination is a muddled early race that leaves no clear frontrunner but several candidates bruised. At that point, Thompson would need to perform well in the southern primaries and emerge as a compromise choice among voters.

Ron Paul will not win the Republican nomination. Still, he deserves to be mentioned because he has really tapped into a mine of anger among a distinct core of supporters. He has translated this support into more than $12 million in donations in the fourth quarter. This is absolutely uncharted territory for a argely unknown Congressman from Texas. Depending on how Paul decides to use the money, he could go a long way to determining who wins the nomination-indeed he could help decide the presidency if he runs as an independent candidate.

I have to confirm with Big Jim, but I'm pretty sure our editorial endorsement will be coming out soon. Perhaps surprisingly, I think we're on the same page.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Damn

17
Though I suspect Big Jim's opinion of himself is exaggerated.

Awesome

26
Well, Rico, how about you?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My confession


Since I've been on break, I've been watching as much Walker, Texas Ranger as possible.

I find the show oddly compelling, plus Walker is a great role model for Jake. Since my wife is an only child and I have just one sibling, Jake doesn't have much going for him in the way of aunts and uncles. Consequently, I've decided that from now on, we're going to call Chuck Norris 'Uncle Chuck.'

To top it off, the show has the greatest theme song of all time:
In the eyes of a ranger,
The unsuspecting stranger
Had better know the truth of wrong from right.

Cause the eyes of a ranger are upon you,
Any wrong you do he's gonna see,
When you're in Texas look behind you,
Cause that's where the rangers are gonna be

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A friendly reminder

The following is a public service announcement from all of us here at Whatever Happened to Crazy? to Christian rock radio stations everywhere:

Christmas music, especially the religious variety, is a sacred thing. Many of these songs have been around for decades, entertaining us, but also inspiring us and reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas. With that in mind, the music should not be altered beyond recognition. Specifically, "O Holy Night" does not need a drum solo. I'm looking at you, 105.3 The Fish.

Eleven months out of the year, most of us are happy to ignore your silly genre. But in December, do us all a favor and leave well enough alone.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Blame Canada?

What the hell's going on? Really. From Ezra Levant in the National Post (not exactly a bastion of Conservatism):
The Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) is taking Maclean’s magazine to a human rights commission. Their crime? Refusing the CIC’s absurd demand that Maclean’s print a five-page letter to the editor in response to an article the CIC didn’t like.

It may shock those who do not follow human-rights law in Canada, but Maclean’s will probably lose.

Forcing editors to publish rambling letters is not a human right in Canada. But that’s not how the CIC worded their complaint, filed with the B.C., Ontario and federal human rights commissions. Maclean’s is “flagrantly Islamophobic” and “subjects Canadian Muslims to hatred and contempt” according to a CIC statement. “I felt personally victimized,” said Khurrum Awan at the CIC’s recent press conference. All this because Maclean’s dared to run a column discussing the demographic rise of Islam in the West.

It’s a new strategy for the CIC, which in the past has tried unsuccessfully to sue news media it disagreed with — including the National Post — using Canada’s defamation laws. But Canada’s civil courts aren’t the best tool for that sort of bullying. In a defamation lawsuit, the CIC would have to hire its own lawyers, follow the rules of court, and prove that they suffered real damages — and the newspapers would have truth and fair comment as defences. Launching a nuisance suit against Maclean’s would result in an embarrassing loss for the CIC, a court order to pay the magazine’s legal fees, and it would deepen the CIC’s reputation as a group of radicals who don’t understand Canadian values. (Three years ago, Mohamed Elmasry, the CIC’s Egyptian-born president, declared that every adult Jew in Israel is a legitimate target for terrorists).

So civil lawsuits won’t work. Criminal charges are a non-starter, too: Canada’s hate-speech laws are reserved for extreme acts of incitement, and charges can only be laid with the approval of the justice minister. And in criminal court, the accused must be proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. No chance there.

That’s why human-rights commissions are the perfect instrument for the CIC. The CIC doesn’t even have to hire a lawyer: Once the complaint has been accepted by the commissions, taxpayers’ dollars and government lawyers are used to pursue the matter. Maclean’s, on the other hand, will have to hire their own lawyers with their own money. Rules of court don’t apply. Normal rules of evidence don’t apply. The commissions are not neutral; they’re filled with activists, many of whom aren’t even lawyers and do not understand the free-speech safeguards contained in our constitution.

And the punishments that these commissions can order are bizarre. Besides fines to the government and payments to complainants, defendants can be forced to “apologize” for having unacceptable political or religious opinions.

An apology might not sound onerous, yet it is far more troubling than a fine. Ordering a person — or a magazine — to say or publish words that they don’t believe is an Orwellian act of thought control. The editor of Maclean’s, Ken Whyte, maintains his magazine is fair. But human rights commissions have the power to order him to publish a confession that he’s a bigot — or, as in one Ontario case, even order someone to study Islam. Even convicted murderers cannot be “ordered” to apologize.
What Levant never mentions is that the incomparable Mark Steyn was the featured author in most of those MacLean's articles.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Just What McCain Needed

to bring him over the tipping point:

Joementum.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ask and it will be given to you

"Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7

On Thursday night, Big Jim asked me when Trevor Robinson was going to commit to Notre Dame. Less than 24 hours later, he officially committed.

Now I'm pretty sure Jesus was talking about going to God with your prayers, but I suppose asking me is the next best thing.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the recruiting chart. Notre Dame now has 22 commitments from high school seniors. Of those, 9 are among the top 100 players in the nation, and 18 are among the top 250. Simply a stunning job for a 3-9 team. As always, the absurdly subjective rankings courtesy of Rivals.



Offense
QB: Dayne Crist (#20)
RB: Jonas Gray (#56)
WR: Michael Floyd (#81)
WR: John Goodman (#221)
TE: Kyle Rudolph (#17)
TE: Joseph Fauria (#180)
OT: Lane Clelland (#125)
OG: Trevor Robinson (#97)
OG/C: Braxston Cave (#223)
OG/C: Mike Golic, Jr. (NR)

Defense
DE: Ethan Johnson (#29)
DE: Sean Cwynar (#160)
NT: Omar Hunter (#50)
NT: Brandon Newman (NR)
NT: Hafis Williams (NR)
OLB: Darius Fleming (#96)
OLB: David Posluszny (NR)
ILB: Steve Filer (#76)
ILB: Anthony McDonald (#198)
CB: Robert Blanton (#202)
S: Jamoris Slaughter (#122)
S: Dan McCarthy (#174)

One thing to note about this class is its great balance. One of the recurring flaws in Notre Dame's recruiting has been terribly unbalanced classes. See, e.g., Bob Davie's three quarterbacks in one year, Tyrone Willingham's woeful offensive line recruiting, and Charlie Weis' two-year failure in signing defensive linemen. This year, the only position where we would appear to have an excess of players is on the defensive line, where the team needs both quantity and quality desperately.

For those interested, we'll do one last recruiting wrap up after National Signing Day (February 5, 2008).

Friday, December 14, 2007

Seven Words I Always Say:

Rico's a bum for liking country music.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Eight words I never thought I'd say

I really like the new Bucky Covington song.

The chorus:
It's good to be us, good to be breathing
Day after night after day, this feeling
Feels the way it should
If this is as good as it gets, then good

It's better than best, yeah we got it made
In the shade, in the sun, in love this way - yeah
We got lucky baby, we've been blessed
Couldn't ask for more, wouldn't settle for less
It's good to be us, yeah, it's good to be us

My true calling

With finals over, I have a four-week break before school starts again.

This leaves me free to pursue my true calling in life: stay-at-home dad and professional blogger.

If only I could get paid for this.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Still the Man

GKC on pride and humility, from Orthodoxy:
In one way Man was to be haughtier than he had ever been before; in another way he was to be humbler than he had ever been before. In so far as I am Man I am the chief of creatures. In so far as I am a man I am the chief of sinners. All humility that had meant pessimism, that had meant man taking a vague or mean view of his whole destiny -- all that was to go. We were to hear no more the wail of Ecclesiastes that humanity had no pre-eminence over the brute, or the awful cry of Homer that man was only the saddest of all the beasts of the field. Man was a statue of God walking about the garden. Man had pre-eminence over all the brutes; man was only sad because he was not a beast, but a broken god. The Greek had spoken of men creeping on the earth, as if clinging to it. Now Man was to tread on the earth as if to subdue it. Christianity thus held a thought of the dignity of man that could only be expressed in crowns rayed like the sun and fans of peacock plumage. Yet at the same time it could hold a thought about the abject smallness of man that could only be expressed in fasting and fantastic submission, in the gray ashes of St. Dominic and the white snows of St. Bernard. When one came to think of one's self, there was vista and void enough for any amount of bleak abnegation and bitter truth. There the realistic gentleman could let himself go -- as long as he let himself go at himself. There was an open playground for the happy pessimist. Let him say anything against himself short of blaspheming the original aim of his being; let him call himself a fool and even a damned fool (though that is Calvinistic); but he must not say that fools are not worth saving. He must not say that a man, qua man, can be valueless. Here, again in short, Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites, by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious. The Church was positive on both points. One can hardly think too little of one's self. One can hardly think too much of one's soul.

Music Update

Favorite bits of Classical music at the moment:
1. 3rd movement to Mozart's Symphony No. 39
2. 2nd movement to Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor"
3. 1st movement to Bach's Suite No. 4
4. 5th movement to Lalo's Spanish Symphony
and of course
5. 1st movement to Beethoven's Symphony No. 7
6. 4th movement to Mozart's Symphony No. 41 "Jupiter"
7. Holst's "Jupiter"
On a side note, I had forgotten how bad "Away in a Manger."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Math Can't Be Wrong

The Transitive Property of Football strikes again. From j9er on Cartier Field over at ND Nation:
Why the BCS Rankngs are Wrong and Notre Dame Should Be in the Title Game
**Notre Dame beat UCLA, Stanford, and Duke.**

1. Ohio State (Notre Dame beat UCLA beat Oregon beat Michigan beat Illinois beat Ohio State)
2. LSU (Notre Dame beat UCLA beat California beat Tennessee beat Georgia beat Kentucky beat LSU)
3. Va Tech (Notre Dame beat UCLA beat California beat Tennessee beat Georgia beat Kentucky beat Va Tech)
4. Oklahoma (Notre Dame beat Stanford beat USC beat ASU beat Colorado beat Oklahoma)
5. Georgia (Notre Dame beat UCLA beat California beat Tennessee beat Georgia)
6. Missouri (Notre Dame beat Stanford beat USC beat ASU beat Colorado beat Oklahoma beat Missouri)
7. USC (Notre Dame beat Stanford beat USC)
8. Kansas (Notre Dame beat Stanford beat USC beat ASU beat Colorado beat Oklahoma beat Missouri beat Kansas)
9. West Virginia (Notre Dame beat Stanford beat Oregon beat Michigan beat Illinois beat Wisconsin beat Michigan State beat Pittsburgh beat WVU)
10. Hawaii (only team in the country better than Notre Dame)

See you in New Orleans for Hawaii vs. Notre Dame.

Because It's Damn Good

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep.

Now I Get It

Finally, a grand theory of the Star Wars universe. Not that probably aren't eleventy billion out there already, but to create so elegant a synthesis of all six movies was truly a work of art. Truly Lucas has a uniquely singular and opaque vision to so cleverly disguise so fascinating a story. And under our very noses!

In the words of the immortal O. Sharp:
It all makes sense, that perfect kind of sense that only comes with excessive drinking.
I should probably warn you, gentle reader, that full appreciation of said theory is dependent (shudder) on having seen and remembered the events of Episdoes 1 through 3.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A New Triumph

Someone's only got 10 messages in his inbox. Never thought I'd see the day. Now if only my room were that tidy . . .

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

How Many Narrators?

The Evidence:
This Season
(Words and music by Kirk McLeod, arranged by Seven Nations)

Daniel closed his eyes as if it didn't happen
And he wondered why every time this season
Feel it in the air, see it in the lightning
And he wondered why it always felt so frightening

I will remember you this way
As sure as the night divides the day
As sure as the sun goes down

Then he looked at me his eyes heavy with reason
And he spoke of how she never stopped to listen
When she got the news she wrecked her room in anger
Never looked at me, she telephoned the doctor

I will remember you this way
As sure as the night divides the day
As sure as the sun goes down

Which way's on and on, his question fell
Like rain on the window like I never will
His face touched the glass, his finger traced
The path of the water
The lines on his face

I will remember you this way
As sure as the night divides the day
As sure as the sun goes down.
While the song is highly elliptical, the second verse effectively gives the game away. However, as the title of this post makes clear, it is not meaning but person that concerns me. In particular, who is the singer of the refrain? I highly recommend the song by the way, if for nothing else than the awesome (electric?) bagpipe riff.

One hour til Criminal Law

Am I ready to take this test? Let's just say I could step in tomorrow for Sam Waterston and nobody would know the difference.

As my wife pointed out, however, I wouldn't be nearly as effective selling robot insurance.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Notre Dame Football 2007: A Postmortem

It is an understatement to say that Notre Dame's 2007 football season was a disappointment. After two consecutive BCS games, 3-9 was a huge letdown. Given Weis' 15-year history of offensive success, the team's inability to field a competitive offense was shocking. The lack of a running game was depressing. The growing pains, such as they were, were evident every single game. The defense, though improved, was still inconsistent. Everyone on the team, save Trevor Laws, let me down at one point or another. Despite looking forward to this year as a chance to start fresh, I was frustrated much more often than I was pleased. Optimism frequently gave way to despair.

Despite all this, I watched every single play of the season, from the kickoff against Georgia Tech to the kneeldown against Stanford. I watched every fumble, every sack, every shotgun snap over the quarterback's head, and every outside run that the linebackers seemed powerless to stop. Why would I subject myself to such frustration, anger, and misery? Because when Notre Dame is great again (and they will be great again), I want to wear this season as a badge of honor. I want to remember all the difficulties, all the painful losses, and all the moments I wanted to throw something.

I hope that every single player feels the same way.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

This Explains a Lot

The ever-number-crunching FunkDoctorSpock has calculated the percentage of points each class at Notre Dame scored this year:
Fr . . . 118
So . . . 13
Jr . . . 12
Sr . . . 6
5th . . . 48
Revue Party, on the other hand, totaled the number of yards each class gained:
Receiving
Fr . . . 635
So . . . 579
Jr . . . 258
Sr . . . 123
5th . . . 371

Running
Fr . . . 497 (including -165 for Clausen)
So . . . 469
Jr . . . -71 [Sharpley of course]
Sr . . . 35
5th . . . 50
I'm guessing neither is exactly typical.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Well, I Guess the Race Is Over


Side note. Norris was born in 1940 and had done his own stunts in roughly 37 billion action movies. Looks like he's doin' pretty well.

The formula to a successful country album

I love country music, and I appreciate the themes running through the songs. Having said that, the topics can become awfully repetitive. With that in mind, here is my foolproof formula to a multi-platinum country music album!

1. A song about sowing my wild oats
2. A song about settling down and raising a family

3. A song about the joys of whiskey
4. A song about the sorrows of whiskey

5. A song about America
6. A song about the south
7. A song about Texas

8. A song about a bar on Saturday night
9. A song about a bar on Tuesday afternoon
10. A song about church on Sunday (Bonus points if you combine the three!)

11. A duet with Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard/Loretta Lynn

Nashville, here I come!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Amazing Grace

"Was blind, but now I see..."

For most of my life, my vision has been perfect. I was consistently measured at 20/15 or 20/20 vision. For some strange reason, it was actually a point of pride.

Over the past two years or so, I began to notice a deterioration in my vision. Gone was the ability to read street signs at a mystifying distance.

The result was my first full eye exam at an optometrist in my life. In addition to officially diagnosing me as colorblind, she also fitted me with a pair of sweet glasses.

Friends, I was once like you. Blind and in the dark. But I've come to tell you that today I see! I see the truth! I see the light! I see every blade of grass and every leaf!

And brothers and sisters, the world is beautiful! By the grace of God, we have a beautiful world!

Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More difficult: Children or law school?

After trading one for the other today, I'd say children. Jake has pinkeye, so dad's home playing Mr. Mom today. It's been really nice to have a day alone with my son, but it's also exhausting. Aside from naps, babies need attention all the time! I thought only Big Jim was that needy.

Also, huzzah for 300 posts!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

TV Roundup

Scrubs: I think it's likely that JD and Kim will get back together. However, even if they don't, I would be very disappointed if JD and Elliot lived happily ever after. They've just gone to that well one too many times. What would be different from the last time they got together and JD immediately realized that it was a colossal mistake?

Heroes: Monday's episode was far and away the best of this season. The conclusion of Hiro's story arc was really well done, the Parkman-Nathan Petrelli story line finally got moving, and the Adam Monroe twist at the end was fantastic. Additionally, when Noah Bennett (the cheerleader's dad) goes into his morally ambiguous, protect his family at all costs routine, he's one of the best characters on television.

The writers' strike: I don't have a horse in this race, and I really don't know enough about the demands to have an informed judgment on the merits of the strike. However, there's one thing I'm fairly confident regarding the strategery of the move. If the writers think they are going to bring television and movie studios to their knees by withdrawing their "talents," they have another thing coming. America will be more than happy to watch another season of "My Big Fat Obnoxious Whatever."

I'm back!

So my google account was hacked last Friday. At first, I assumed it was just a problem with gmail or something, but after I couldn't access my account for several hours, I was concerned.

I started searching around online to see if other people's accounts mysteriously stopped working. It had happened to other people, and it usually wasn't the result of hacking. In some cases, access was restored the next day.

I decided to wait and see if my access would come back, but it didn't. I became seriously worried when I was able to get to my security question to retrieve my password, and it was "???????????"

At this point, I began to freak out a bit, knowing everything that I have stored in gmail and do through gmail. Further, since Blogger is a Google product, I wasn't able to blog, leaving Big Jim all alone.

I had to go through Gmail's tedious password retrieval service. They asked for all sorts of ridiculous information I didn't have, such as my verification code when I first signed up. Luckily, my original Gmail invitor still had the original invite e-mail. Through that, I was able to eventually regain access to my account.

But the story doesn't end there! After accessing my e-mail, our mystery hacker also was able to get into my eBay account. Thankfully, his crude attempt to list six expensive digital cameras on eBay within minutes of one another was deemed suspicious by their security team. My account was frozen, and I was able to close it this morning.

Ultimately, it appears that the only consequence of this whole experience was serious aggravation. I'll be keeping a close eye on any internet accounts I have, but I may be in the clear.

The disconcerting thing about all this is that the IT guys here at Marquette don't know how it happened. I can only assume it happened on the wireless network here, but there's no way to know for sure. It's a vulnerable feeling.

Te moral of the story is that you should change all your passwords to "JG8#6r!YfcO*&675M1H"

Nice


Lines 8-21 from the Prologue of William Langland's Piers Plowman (ca. late 14th c.), translated by George Economou:
I dreamed most marvelously, as I recall,
All the world's wealth and all of its woe,
Dozing that I was, I certainly saw;
Truth and treachery, treason and guile,
Sleeping I saw them all, as I shall record.
I looked to the East toward the rising sun
And saw a tower--I took it Truth was inside.
To the West then I looked after a while
And saw a deep dale--Death, as I believe,
Dwelled in that place, along with wicked spirits.
Between them I found a fair field full of folk
Of all manner men, the common and poor,
Working and wandering as this world asks us.
I think Economou could have tried a little harder with the alliteration. From what I understand, which isn't much, one wants to have alliteration in both halves of the verse. Using that as the standard Economou fails a little too often for my taste. Still, a marvelous bit.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I Know That I, Big Jim, Do Not Have Your Superior Intellect and Education . . .


But I'm not crazy for thinking that at least one of these two fine gentlemen of the NFL Network is a fan of the Three Amigos, am I?

Browns-Seahawks highlights

Oh. Go, Browns.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Prediction

ND by 10. Our guys are just too big and too fast.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Scrubs Question

Are Kim and JD done? Not impossible, but I would consider it unlikely at this point. Still, the breakup was done in such a way so that JD was completely blameless.

Observation. JD and Eliott are both single.

Thank you Perry much.

Yea Humanity!

An article fraught with symbolism:
Scientists Find Oldest Living Animal, Then Kill It
Makes me want to go shoot some buffalo.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

My Quandry II

I honestly can't decide whom I dislike more: the radio station executives who decide to play Christmas music on November 1, or the listeners who inexplicably reward them by tuning in.

Christmas is 54 days away. That's 15% of the year!. It's all so absurd.

Score One for the Brits

I can't construe this any other way than a calculated insult. Good for them:

Of course, as my friend John asked, if Abdullah is Vader, who's the Emperor?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sooooo tedious

"The trial court's analysis, however, failed to take into account the fact that grapes can be expected to roll if they fall on the ground."

My quandry

A few weekends ago, Mrs. Rico was walking out of Starbucks when a 16-year-old kid scraped the rear corner of our car. He was totally cooperative and gave her his contact and insurance information.

I brought the car into the body shop a few days ago for an estimate, and it came in at slightly over $400. According to the shop, my car's totally masculine and heterosexual color is quite difficult to match.

This brings me to my dilemma. The kid's dad promised to cut me a check for $410. That's a pretty big chunk of change for two students with an infant son. Should we use the money to get the car fixed? Let's look at this from a few angles.

Economic: From a pure economic analysis, it would be foolish to spend the money this way. In other words, getting the car fixed simply isn't "worth" that much money to me. Were the scratches caused by some unknown driver in the Marquette parking lot, there's virtually no chance that I would be spending $400 to get them fixed, even if I found the money lying on the street. So, cost-benefit analysis points to "no."

Legal: As a law student, it behooves me to know and follow the law. However, I have no clue whether I'm required to use the money to get the repairs done. Even better, I'm not sure where to look. However, I suppose that when I'm not sure what the law is, I should steer the unquestionably legal course. This would point to "yes."

Ethical: Here's where I'm stumped. Is there some sort of moral imperative to use the money for the purpose which it was intended? Personally, I'm leaning against the idea, but that could just be because I want the freedom to spend the money on a Nintendo Wii. Where's an ethicist when I need one?

I suppose it's a moot point, given that the wife will make the decision anyway.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lyle Landry?

I'd be more enthused if it were Lyle Lanley. You know, Commons put North Haverbrook, Brockway, and Ogdenville on the map!

Lyle Lanley: Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
Like a genuine,
Bona fide,
Electrified,
Six-car
Commons!
What'd I say?

Ned Flanders: Commons!

Lyle Lanley: What's it called?

Patty+Selma: Commons!

Lyle Lanley: That's right! Commons!

[crowd chants `Commons' softly and rhythmically]

Miss Hoover: I hear those things are awfully loud...

Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.

Apu: Is there a chance the track could bend?

Lyle Lanley: Not on your life, my Hindu friend.

Barney: What about us brain-dead slobs?

Lyle Lanley: You'll be given cushy jobs.

Abe: Were you sent here by the devil?

Lyle Lanley: No, good sir, I'm on the level.

Wiggum: The ring came off my pudding can.

Lyle Lanley: Take my pen knife, my good man.

I swear it's Eddy's only choice...
Throw up your hands and raise your voice!

All: Commons!

Lyle Lanley: What's it called?

All: Commons!

Lyle Lanley: Once again...

All: Commons!

Marge: But Stepan's still all cracked and broken...

Bart: Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!

All: Commons!
Commons!
Commons!

[big finish]

Commons!

Homer: Comm... D'oh!

The Future Is Now

Brought to you by Lyle Landry, Notre Dame's new Eddy Street Commons:

It looks fantastic. I just hope it has some color and isn't completely filled with Fridays. A mere three would be perfect.

An early Christmas present

So so so awesome.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I love being right

You'd think the joy would wear off after it's happened to many times, but you'd be wrong.

The Red Sox victory in game 1 was a crushing blow to the Rockies and their magical run. It led to their sweep. As I predicted, the game 1 winner would roll.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Were I to start another blog,

it would be titled "Jesus is my Consigliere."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Scrubs

I too thought it was a quality episode. Are Elliott and Keith done for good though? My thoughts on the matter are similar to JD's. Beardface is the man. As, it would appear, is JD.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Scrubs

I really enjoyed tonight's premiere and thought it was an excellent job setting up JD's big story arc for the final season. An extended cameo from Dr. Beardface never hurts, either.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Recruiting Update

Despite last weekend's debacle, Notre Dame managed to secure commitments from two of the more highly-recruited offensive players in the country, RB Jonas Gray (#52) and WR Michael Floyd (#79). Here is the visual update to the recruiting year for the Irish. Again, ridiculous rankings are courtesy of Rivals.

Last minute World Series prediction

Game 1 is obviously important in any playoff series, but it's even more important than usual here. Whoever wins tonight will win the series.

The Rockies have been on a magical streak, but they've been idle for 8 days. It remains to be seen whether they can keep up their ridiculous pace in the face of the long break, and if they lose tonight, much of the past month's magic will wear off.

For the Red Sox, Josh Beckett carried the team through the ALCS. He won 2 of the first 5 games of the series, salvaging a chance for the team to rally against the Indians. If Beckett loses tonight, it will crush all the momentum Boston gained in the last three games against Cleveland.

Who to choose: The hottest team or the hottest player? If history has taught us anything, it's that dominant pitching wins in October. That's why I'm picking Beckett and Boston to win game 1 and the World Series.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Completely Uncalled For

A variation on an oldie but goodie:

Monday, October 22, 2007

If it's good enough for Chuck Norris...

it's good enough for me. You just knew he'd pick a Republican.

If I were an Indian

Tough break for Cleveland. It must be even tougher to know that any chance the Indians blew any chance they had to win the World Series for the next five years, what with the Brewers dynasty starting...


now.

(PS: Bonecrusher, feel free to enter your gloating comments here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

If I Were a Heathen . . .

Not the best fit anymore (The world has changed a bit since GK was in his heyday), but I think the poem is at the very least applicable to Al Gore and Co. The third illustration is my favorite.







Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Heart Bleeds

Headline from Yahoo:
As violence falls in Iraq, cemetary workers feel the pinch.
Could it be that we're actually beginning to win?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Weird parallels

The struggling Vikings won today to move to 2-3. Adrian Peterson set a Minnesota record by rushing for 224 yards. This impressive achievement was accomplished in spite of boneheaded coach Brad Childress, who gave the obviously inferior Chester Taylor more carries than Peterson.

Fast forward to 2003:

The struggling Irish won today to move to 2-3. Julius Jones set a Notre Dame record by rushing for 262 yards. This impressive achievement was accomplished in spite of boneheaded coach Tyrone Willingham, who gave the obviously inferior Ryan Grant more carries than Jones.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

In a world where black is white and up is down...

Remember a couple of weeks ago when USC, LSU, Oklahoma, Florida, and West Virginia were the top five teams in the country?

Me neither.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Recruiting!

Rivals has taken on the ridiculous task of ranking the top 250 high school football payers in the nation. As ridiculous as the whole endeavor is, it's not going to stop me from using it to become overly optimistic about Notre Dame's future!

According to Rivals, 14 of the top 209 players in the country have committed to Notre Dame. There is a good balance of offensive and defensive players, and perhaps most importantly, Notre Dame will likely bring in its most impressive collection of defensive linemen and linebackers in well over a decade.

Here are the players' national ranks.



Offense:
#17: Kyle Rudolph, TE
#20: Dayne Crist, QB
#116: Lane Cleland, OT
#167: Joseph Fauria, TE
#202: John Goodman, WR
#206: Braxston Cave, OG/OC
Unranked: Mike Golic, OG/C

Defense:
#29: Ethan Johnson, DE
#70: Steve Filer, ILB/OLB
#78: Omar Hunter, NT
#90: Darius Fleming, OLB
#117: Jamoris Salughter, S
#147: Robert Blanton, CB
#160: Sean Cwynar, DE/DT
#194: Anthony McDonald, ILB
Unranked: Dan McCarthy, S
Unranked: Brandon Newman, NT
Unranked: Hafis Williams, DE/DT
Unranked: David Posluszny, ILB/OLB

All in all, it's quite an impressive collection of talent. Perhaps more impressive will be the coaching staff's ability to keep the class together in spite of Notre Dame's on-field struggles this year.

I'll leave it to Big Jim to determine the players most likely to fill out the remainder of the class. It's not like Classics graduate students are particularly busy.

Is Iraq getting better?

Between an infant son and the first year of law school, I've almost completely stopped following national and international news. Based on my extremely spotty news consumption, however, it seems like things are steadily improving in Iraq.

However, I could be totally off base. Can anyone tell me if this is true or not?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Brian Fantana

That's the alias I ended up using for my paper this week. It makes sense, because I am the stylish one of the group.

All that remains to be seen is whether I have the "balls" to use James Westphal and Dr. Kenneth Noisewater for my final two papers.

Letsa Go!

Indians 6-4.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Friday, October 5, 2007

Onk!

Tribe 2-1

That's a relief

I was beginning to worry that the Mossad had silenced Big Jim.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Alias

In my legal writing class, we have to submit our papers under pseudonyms. Clearly, I used Johnny Rico as my first one. Now, I have to decide where to go for my next three. So many choices. . .

Continuing the Starship Troopers theme: Ace Levy, Drill Sergeant Zim, and Sky Marshall Tahatmaru.

Marvel Villians with ridiculous names: Victor Von Doom, Otto Octavius, and the Mandarin.

My favorite X-Men's alter-egos: Peter Rasputin, Remy LeBeau, and Bobby Drake.

Underused and underappreciated Smash Bros. characters: Yoshi, Fox McLeod, and Captain Falcon.

One-time Simpsons appearances: Frank Grimes, Hank Scorpio, and Sideshow Cecil.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Hey Big Jim

Jealous much?

5. Marquette alumnus to present Tolkien Lecture

Dr. John Rateliff, a Marquette alumnus and author of the two-volume series The History of the Hobbit, will discuss his research on J.R.R. Tolkien on Thursday, Oct. 4, at 4 p.m. in the Raynor Library Conference Center Beaumier Suites B-C. The Rateliff presentation, "'A Kind of Elvish Craft': Tolkien as Literary Craftsman," will be followed by a question-and-answer session and book signing. The event is part of the libraries' celebration of the 50th anniversary of the acquisition of the Tolkien manuscripts.

Rateliff said that he selected the Department of English at Marquette for his doctoral studies because of the Tolkien manuscripts preserved within the Department of Special Collections and Archives. He has worked with these manuscripts for more than 25 years.

The event is free and open to the public. The general public should pre-register by calling 414-288-0591 at least 24 hours prior to the program. Anyone with a Marquette ID need not pre-register.

For more information contact Matt Blessing at 8-0591.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hiro Nakamura's back!

Random Sports Thoughts

If Rex Grossman starts next week, Lovie Smith is officially the worst coach in the NFL. That is, assuming Brad Childress gets fired.

Who knew the Indians could make the playoffs without Rick 'Wild Thing' Vaughan, Pedro Cerrano, and Willie 'Mays' Hayes?

I can't tell if it's a good or bad sign that a 17 point home loss to an unranked team is progress.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What I learned in law school today

Today, I learned that a voluntary act is an essential element of any crime. We can't punish someone for his or her thoughts.

Which is good because there's a girl in my class whose head I'd like to bash with a pipe.

Well, That's Interesting

Bret Stephens in yesterdays WSJ:

What's beyond question is that something big went down on Sept. 6. Israeli sources had been telling me for months that their air force was intensively war-gaming attack scenarios against Syria; I assumed this was in anticipation of a second round of fighting with Hezbollah. On the morning of the raid, Israeli combat brigades in the northern Golan Heights went on high alert, reinforced by elite Maglan commando units. Most telling has been Israel's blanket censorship of the story--unprecedented in the experience of even the most veteran Israeli reporters--which has also been extended to its ordinarily hypertalkative politicians. In a country of open secrets, this is, for once, a closed one.

The censorship helps dispose of at least one theory of the case. According to CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Israel's target was a cache of Iranian weapons destined for Hezbollah. But if that were the case, Israel would have every reason to advertise Damascus's ongoing violations of Lebanese sovereignty, particularly on the eve of Lebanon's crucial presidential election. Following the January 2002 Karine-A incident--in which Israeli frogmen intercepted an Iranian weapons shipment bound for Gaza--the government of Ariel Sharon wasted no time inviting reporters to inspect the captured merchandise. Had Orchard had a similar target, with similar results, it's doubtful the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert--which badly needs to erase the blot of last year's failed war--could have resisted turning it into a propaganda coup.

Something similar goes for another theory, this one from British journalist Peter Beaumont of the Observer, that the raid was in fact "a dry run for attack on Iran." Mr. Beaumont is much taken by a report that at least one of the Israeli bombers involved in the raid dropped its fuel tanks in a Turkish field near the Syrian border.

Why Israel apparently chose to route its attack through Turkey is a nice question, given that it means a detour of more than 1,000 miles. Damascus claims the fuel tank was discarded after the planes came under Syrian anti-aircraft fire, which could be true. But if Israel is contemplating an attack on Tehran's nuclear installations--and it is--it makes no sense to advertise the "Turkish corridor" as its likely avenue of attack.

As for the North Korean theory, evidence for it starts with Pyongyang. The raid, said one North Korean foreign ministry official quoted by China's Xinhua news agency, was "little short of wantonly violating the sovereignty of Syria and seriously harassing the regional peace and security." But who asked him, anyway? In August, the North Korean trade minister signed an agreement with Syria on "cooperation in trade and science and technology." Last week, Andrew Semmel, the acting counterproliferation chief at the State Department, confirmed that North Korean technicians of some kind were known to be in Syria, and that Syria was "on the U.S. nuclear watch list." And then there is yesterday's curious news that North Korea has abruptly suspended its participation in the six-party talks, for reasons undeclared.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Big Jim's Theme Song

Brad Paisley's Online

For what it's worth, I love the lines "I drive a Maserati/I'm a black belt in karate."
I work down at the Pizza Pit
And I drive an old Hyundai
I still live with my mom and dad
I'm 5 foot 3 and overweight
I'm a sci-fi fanatic
A mild asthmatic
And I've never been to second base
But there's whole 'nother me
That you need to see
Go checkout MySpace

'Cause online I'm out in Hollywood
I'm 6 foot 5 and I look damn good
I drive a Maserati
I'm a black-belt in karate
And I love a good glass of wine
It turns girls on that I'm mysterious
I tell them I don't want nothing serious
'Cause even on a slow day
I could have a three way
Chat with two women at one time
I'm so much cooler online
So much cooler online

When I get home I kiss my mom
And she fixes me a snack
And I head down to my basement bedroom
And fire up my Mac
In real life the only time I've ever even been to L.A
Is when I got the chance with the marching band
To play tuba in the Rose Parade

Online I live in Malibu
I pose for Calvin Klein, I've been in GQ
I'm single and I'm rich
And I've got a set of six pack abs that would blow your mind
It turns girls on that I'm mysterious
I tell them I don't want nothing serious
'Cause even on a slow day
I could have a three way
Chat with two women at one time
I'm so much cooler online
So much cooler online

When you got my kind of stats
It's hard to get a date
Let alone a real girlfriend
But I grow another foot and I lose a bunch of weight
Every time I login

Online
I'm out in Hollywood
I'm 6 foot 5 and I look damn good
Even on a slow day
I could have a three way
Chat with two women at one time
I'm so much cooler online
Yeah, I'm cooler online
I'm so much cooler online
Yeah, I'm cooler online

Yeah, I'm cooler online

Yeah, I'll see ya online

We've Hit the Big Time

Two comments in the past week! It can only go down from here.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Confirmation No. 39,485,022

Teddy's Law* holds yet again. Despite only being appropriate for a young woman, the Volkswagon Beetle that pulls along next to you is inevitably being driven my a middle-aged man.

*Coined by a high school fried. Oddly enough, his first name was Teddy.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mission Accomplished

While not admittedly my area of professional expertise, I can happily say that I do have extensive experience in the required area.

One-ply it is.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

An Investigative Assignment for Big Jim

Much to my disappointment, both Marquette and Notre Dame use one-ply toilet paper. I must know if this a Catholic school thing or a general university phenomenon.

Big Jim, does the trend hold at Cornell?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Have you forgotten?

In some ways, 9/11 seems like a lifetime ago. Big Jim and I had been at Notre Dame for only a few weeks. Mrs. Rico and I, though close friends, wouldn't start dating for another six months.

And yet, my memories from that day remain so clear. I can still see everything that happened that day so vividly in my mind. Not being able to connect to CNN.com. Staring at the TV screen in the Knott lounge in shock. Breaking down and weeping on the phone with my mother. The heat of the sun on my back and neck at mass on South Quad. Wondering how my half-brother, working for the NYPD, was doing. Anger. Sadness. Fear.

I truly believe it's important to remember the way I felt on 9/11. As painful as it was and is, pretending it didn't happen or shunting it out of our minds serves no useful purpose. Even anniversary memorials aren't enough.

People frequently say "Never forget." But "Never forget" means more than just one day a year. Yes, it means honoring the 3,000 people that lost their lives. But even more importantly, it means living lives of purpose. It means embracing life in a way worthy of "Let's roll." And it means remembering, not only on the anniversary of 9/11, but every day as we go forward.
Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire and her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside going through a living hell

--Have You Forgotten?, Darryl Worley
Never forget.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a terrible o-line.

They didn't open any holes for their running backs, so their team never won any games.

They were subsequently eaten by wolves.

The End.

Friday, September 7, 2007

More commentary on Notre Dame football (or, Give me a second serving of that Kool-Aid)

Yeah, opening weekend didn't exactly go as planned. Still, in a world where Appalachian State can strike fear in the hearts of traditional college football powers, I have to believe Notre Dame can come through with a better performance this week. In fact, Notre Dame matches up much better against Penn State than they did against Georgia Tech. To wit:

1. Notre Dame's biggest weakness (and there were many to choose from) last weekend was pass protection. Georgia Tech's blitzes are widely recognized as some of the most effective, complex schemes in the country. Penn State, though they'll certainly blitz more than usual, does not employ an aggressive attacking scheme.

2. Notre Dame's second biggest weakness last weekend was rush defense. It was exploited impressively by Tashard Choice. Penn State has no comparable back. In fact, starting RB Austin Scott only managed 2.3 yards per carry against Florida International last weekend. If we get any semblance of offense and force Penn State to go to a balanced attack, the Irish secondary could have some success.

3. Jimmy Clausen. Yes, it's too much to ask a true freshman in his first college start to excel in front of 100,000+ hillbillies. Yes, it's too much to ask a quarterback who's never played a meaningful college down to adjust to the speed of the game when facing the #14 team in the country. But this is no normal true freshman, and this is no normal quarterback. Jimmy Clausen is a once in a generation talent, and the difference in our offensive success will be night and day from last week.

Clausen's quick decision-making and release will cut the offensive line some slack and allow them to relax. Further, even limited successes in the passing game will force the defense to adjust and open up some room for the running game.

Yesterday is over. Today is the first game of the rest of your life. Irish 27, Penn State 16.

Go Crew

My adopted Milwaukee Brewers are involved in the thickest of playoff chases. We're currently tied with the Cubs and up one game on the Cardinals. The last 23 games are going to be a race to the finish where every game is the most important game of the season. For the people of Milwaukee, September baseball matters for the first time in a long time.

Making it even more tense is the fact that the Crew decided to tank the season around July. As the chart below shows, Milwaukee led the Central Division from game 6 to game 121. Even more impressively, the lead was at least 5 games from game 31 to game 87.

As the chart shows, the Brewers have struggled recently. In fact, after an 8 game lead, people had given them up for dead. But just when everyone was ready to count them out, Ben Sheets put on his cape and saved the day. Since Sheets' return, the Brewers are 6-2 and have a share of the division lead for the first time in a couple of weeks.

23 games to go. The underdog Brewers are going all the way!

(What do you want from me? More commentary on Notre Dame football?)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The absurd elevation of sports

On Sunday Night Football, sideline reporter Andrea Kremer just noted that at Tony Dungy's daughter's college (Spellman University, an all-female, historically black school), professors compare Dungy's coaching of a Super Bowl champion with Martin Luther King being put in jail and African-Americans gaining voting rights.

Really? We're going to trivialize one of the most important civil rights achievements of the last century and the most important African-American leader ever by comparing them to a football game?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Awesome laws

The Supreme Court should not be able to strike down laws if they're this awesome:
Rogues and vagabonds, or dissolute persons who go about begging, common gamblers, persons who use juggling or unlawful games or plays, common drunkards, common night walkers, thieves, pilferers or pickpockets, traders in stolen propety, lewd, wanton, and lascivious persons, keepers of gambling places, common railers and brawlers, persons wandering or strolling around from place to place without any lawful purpose or object, habitual loafers, disorderly persons, persons neglecting all lawful business and habitually spending their time by frequenting housing of il fame, gaming houses, or places where alcoholic beverages are sold or served, persons able to work but habitually living upon the earnings of their wives or minor children shall be deemed vagrants...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Necromancer Revealed

Both Peter Jackson and New Line seem determined to stretch the movie version of The Hobbit into a two movie series while making it equivalent in tone to The Lord of the Rings. Needless to say, this will demand some padding. The obvious choice: show the White Council's assault on the Necromancer (a.k.a. Sauron in hiding). The problem? Well lots of problems, mainly having to do with creating a whole new script not actually built on anything Tolkien wrote. However another problem is Peter Jackson's somewhat interesting choice of portraying Sauron as a giant eye that doubled as a lighthouse (doubtless to help pay the rent). I have a feeling the denizens of Middle-earth probably would have been able to find out the identity of the Necromancer fairly easily in Jackson's versions of events--not too many giant, flaming eye-balls walking around. I, however, have come up with an elegant solution, using the latest in computer graphic technology to ensure that Sauron would plausibly be able to conceal his identity:


"Sauron? You must have me confused with someone else."

Friday, August 31, 2007

My fearless prediction

I can say with great certainty that I've gotten caught up in the preseason hype regarding Notre Dame. National pundits largely think the Irish will struggle, but the more I read and reflect, the more I think the team is going to surprise a lot of people.

As for Georgia Tech, between their injuries and the loss of Calvin Johnson, I think their offense will really struggle. I know people think the loss of Reggie Ball will be a case of addition by subtraction, but the fact remains that Taylor Bennett could not beat out Ball in his first two years at college. Bennett probably will eventually turn out to be a better QB than Ball, but to ask him to be superb in his first game without Super Security Blanket Calvin Johnson is unrealistic.

I think Notre Dame's offense will struggle as well, but will do enough to give the defense some breathing room. If that happens, I'll look for multiple turnovers and a defensive or special teams touchdown.

Irish 20 (that's 3 TD's with a missed extra point), Georgia Tech 3

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bobo's Finest Hour

Perhaps the greatest MST3K sketch of all time:

Prediction updates

Here was my prediction from March about our opening game starters:

QB - Demetrius Jones (Likely correct)
HB - Travis Thomas (Correct)
FB - Asaph Schwapp (Correct)
WR - David Grimes (Correct)
WR - Duval Kamara (Incorrect, though a boy can dream)
TE - John Carlson (Correct)
LT - Paul Duncan (Correct)
LG - Eric Olsen (Incorrect)
OC - John Sullivan (Correct)
RG - Dan Wenger (Correct)
RT - Sam Young (Correct)

DE - Trevor Laws (Correct)
DT - Chris Stewart (Incorrect)
DE - Pat Kuntz (Correct, but wrong position)
OLB - Morrice Richardson (Incorrect)
ILB - Maurice Crum (Correct)
ILB - Toryan Smith (50/50)
OLB - Anthony Vernaglia (Correct)
CB - Terrail Lambert (Correct)
FS - David Bruton (Correct)
SS - Tom Zbikowski (Correct)
CB - Ambrose Wooden (Incorrect)

By my math, I should have 9/11 on offense (assuming Jones starts) and 7/11 on defense (assuming Smith does not start) for a total of 16/22.

Now let's have a look at Jim's:


QB - Jimmy Clausen (Likely incorrect)
RB - Travis Thomas (Correct)
FB - Asaph Schwapp (Correct)
WR - David Grimes (Correct)
WR - Robby Parris (Incorrect)
TE - John Carlson (Correct)
RT - Sam Young (Correct)
G- Dan Wenger (Correct)
C- John Sullivan (Correct)
G - Matt Carufel (Incorrect)
LT - Paul Duncan (Correct)

DE - Trevor Laws (Correct)
NT - Chris Stewart (Incorrect)
DE - Derrell Hand (Prostitute)
OLB - John Ryan (Correct)
ILB - Maurice Crum (Correct)
ILB - Toryan Smith (50/50)
OLB - Morrice Richardson (Incorrect)
CB - Terrail Lambert (Correct)
CB - Darrin Walls (Correct)
FS - David Bruton (Correct)
SS - Tom Zbikowski (Correct)

That's likely 8/11 on offense and 7/11 on defense for a total of 15/22. By our agreement, I win his favorite book. Although I'm not particularly sure I want a first edition of Tolkein, Meus Vir. (That's Tolkein, My Hero, according to my online English-Latin dictionary.

Spy vs. Spy

Some thoughts on the Georgia Tech game. If I remember rightly, Notre Dame often put Maurice Crum as a "spy" on Reggie Ball to ensure the quarterback didn't pick up too many plays with his legs. Calvin Johnson was also frequently double-covered. This game plan worked to perfection, as both players were contained, and GT scored a mere 10 points. Now let's look at this year. No Reggie Ball and no Calvin Johnson. Notre Dame effectively has two more players on defense. Throw in the numerous injuries of GT (RT, LT, TE, numerous WRs, backup RB), and I like our chances of stopping them.

Now about the other half of the match-up. If Demetrius Jones is the QB, as nearly everyone is saying he is, he will almost certainly demand a spy of some kind. If not, he'll just pick GT to death on QB draws or botched passing plays (2006 Fiesta Bowl style). Here's the more speculative part. Armando Allen is fast. Really fast. Could he require a spy as well? Notre Dame has never had a player under Weis who forced the defense to watch him every single play. We're going to have one, and quite possibly two this year. If that happens, who's guarding Carlson (let alone Yeatman or Reuland)?. Then there are our receivers. Grimes and West might not be Samardizja and Stovall, but I'm willing to bet they can beat single coverage if the safeties are worried about the Notre Dame backfield. If Jones can be accurate enough for defenses to respect the pass, I think the offense has a chance to rack up a lot of points. Weis is no Chan Gailey. He'll make teams pay for poaching.

Prediction: ND 24 - GT 10

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hooray for government cheese (and milk, and formula, and eggs...)

Guys, our money problems are over; we are officially on welfare! Come on kids, help me scatter car parts on the front lawn.
-Peter Griffin
Not quite, but my family is now officially on WIC (Women, Infants & Children), and we receive free formula, milk, eggs, cheese, juice, and other things that I'm forgetting. I love the fact that a future doctor and lawyer are eligible for such programs. If there's a better advertisement against the welfare state, I'm not sure what it is.

Having said that, I'm certainly not begrudging any of the free stuff. I just find it a little silly.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pick Six

I actually did really well for much of the season in this contest last year, because I had Rutgers as my unranked team and they kept rolling. This year:

1-5 - USC
6-10 - Louisville
11-15 - Cal
16-20 - Nebraska
21-25 - Arkansas
Unranked - Notre Dame

A note on Hawaii: The non-BCS team that is expected to do really well in any given season rarely does well in that season.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Picked Six

The Blue-Gray Sky has its annual contest up. This year, your intrepid blogger has thrown his hat into the ring (and suggests that the esteemed Mr. Rico do the same). His choices:
1. USC
2. Louisville
3. Ohio State
4. Florida State
5. Hawaii
6. Notre Dame

Addendum

Those with messenger bags, although only using one strap, look devilishly handsome. Those whose bags have two straps but choose to use only one deserve all that abuse and more.

Thesis

People who wear a backpack over one shoulder are invariably douchebags. Discuss.

The day my childhood died

I just threw up in my mouth a little. I heard this on the radio this morning, but hoped the DJ was mistaken. Alas, it appears not to be the case.

A G.I. Joe movie is being made. (Hooray!) But G.I. Joe is no longer a real American hero; now he's part of the Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity. Disgusting.

See here for more details.

I've never been a big believer in using the power of the Internet to create change, but if there has ever been a cause requiring an online petition, this is it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Brilliant!

A wise man once said (on the Feb. 9, 1980 Weekend Update of SNL):
President Carter has proposed the drafting of women, and everybody's all worked up about it. Personally, I don't see what they're complaining about. Women in the armed forces could be the best thing that ever happened to this country.

Let's say we have a war with Russia and the women fight. If we win, that's OK. And if we lose, we can say to the Russians: "Wow, you beat a bunch of girls. You must be really proud of yourselves. You Russians are real tough guys, yeah." Can you imagine how embarrassed the Russians would be?

The same holds true for weapons. Why give weapons to our soldiers? If we win without 'em, fine. And if lose, we can say, "Oh, so you beat us. We didn't even have any weapons. Whaddya want? Big deal!"

If you ask me, the best defense our country could have would be an army of poorly equipped, untrained, unarmed women. That way, either we would win the war or we'd make the Russians look like incredible jerks. And isn't that what it's all about anyway?

That's my opinion. I'm Bill Murray, and my girlfriend's going.

Shoot

I always wanted 14 consecutive posts.

Back to school!

Back to school
Back to school
To prove to dad that I'm not a fool

Law school started yesterday. Aside from the troubling trend that I've already done a considerable amount of work, it's going well. In a few weeks, I'll be suing my wife for malpractice.

Interestingly, there's a 1L here who reminds me of Big Jim. Smart, a little too intellectual for my tastes, and vaguely goofy looking. So as I'm talking to him yesterday, we get on the topic of undergraduate majors. What was his?

Latin.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

40 Specially Trained Ecuadorian Dancing Llamas


And oldy but goody. Remember the catch the little bit after the song ends.

For those keeping score, the Von Clausewitz admirably maintains the theme of the previous two posts.

Why a duck? I mean, the rest makes sense, but a duck?

[The persons responsible for this post have been sacked.]

Monday, August 20, 2007

War, What Is It Good For?

Well, studying for one thing.

In a remarkable coincidence, Victor Davis Hanson has an excellent column over at City Journal on the need for a great study of military history. He has two main points. The first is utilitarian:
A wartime public illiterate about the conflicts of the past can easily find itself paralyzed in the acrimony of the present. Without standards of historical comparison, it will prove ill equipped to make informed judgments. Neither our politicians nor most of our citizens seem to recall the incompetence and terrible decisions that, in December 1777, December 1941, and November 1950, led to massive American casualties and, for a time, public despair. So it’s no surprise that today so many seem to think that the violence in Iraq is unprecedented in our history. Roughly 3,000 combat dead in Iraq in some four years of fighting is, of course, a terrible thing. And it has provoked national outrage to the point of considering withdrawal and defeat, as we still bicker over up-armored Humvees and proper troop levels. But a previous generation considered Okinawa a stunning American victory, and prepared to follow it with an invasion of the Japanese mainland itself—despite losing, in a little over two months, four times as many Americans as we have lost in Iraq, casualties of faulty intelligence, poor generalship, and suicidal head-on assaults against fortified positions.

It’s not that military history offers cookie-cutter comparisons with the past. Germany’s World War I victory over Russia in under three years and her failure to take France in four apparently misled Hitler into thinking that he could overrun the Soviets in three or four weeks—after all, he had brought down historically tougher France in just six. Similarly, the conquest of the Taliban in eight weeks in 2001, followed by the establishment of constitutional government within a year in Kabul, did not mean that the similarly easy removal of Saddam Hussein in three weeks in 2003 would ensure a working Iraqi democracy within six months. The differences between the countries—cultural, political, geographical, and economic—were too great.

Instead, knowledge of past wars establishes wide parameters of what to expect from new ones. Themes, emotions, and rhetoric remain constant over the centuries, and thus generally predictable. Athens’s disastrous expedition in 415 BC against Sicily, the largest democracy in the Greek world, may not prefigure our war in Iraq. But the story of the Sicilian calamity does instruct us on how consensual societies can clamor for war—yet soon become disheartened and predicate their support on the perceived pulse of the battlefield.

The second is a question of piety:

Finally, military history has the moral purpose of educating us about past sacrifices that have secured our present freedom and security. If we know nothing of Shiloh, Belleau Wood, Tarawa, and Chosun, the crosses in our military cemeteries are just pleasant white stones on lush green lawns. They no longer serve as reminders that thousands endured pain and hardship for our right to listen to what we wish on our iPods and to shop at Wal-Mart in safety—or that they expected future generations, links in this great chain of obligation, to do the same for those not yet born. The United States was born through war, reunited by war, and saved from destruction by war. No future generation, however comfortable and affluent, should escape that terrible knowledge.
Read the whole thing of course, Hanson, when writing on the war in Iraq is often repetitive; however, that doesn't take away from his skill as a writer.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's Almost as Good at TV!


Here's some Frontinus for you all. Everyone needs a little Frontinus in his life. Book II 5.31:
When Sertorius was encamped next to Pompey near the town of Lauron in Spain, there were only two tracts from which forage could be gathered, one near by, the other farther off. Sertorius gave orders that the one near by should be continually raided by light-armed troops, but that remoter one should not be visited by any troops. Thus, he finally convinced his adversaries that the more distant tract was safer. When, on one occasion, Pompey's troops had gone to this region, Sertorius ordered Octavius Graecinus, with ten cohorts armed after the Roman fashion, and ten cohorts of light-armed Spaniards along with Tarquinius Priscus and two thousand cavalry, set forth to lay an ambush against the foragers. These men executed their instructions with energy; for after examining the ground, they hid the above-mentioned forces by night in a neighbouring wood, posting the light-armed Spaniards in front, as best suited to stealthy warfare, the shield-bearing soldiers a little further back, and the cavalry in the rear, in order that the plan might not be betrayed by the neighing of the horses. Then they ordered all to repose in silence till the third hour of the following day. When Pompey's men, entertaining no suspicion and loaded down with forage, thought of returning, and those who had been on guard, lured on by the situation, were slipping away to forage, suddenly the Spaniards, darting out with the swiftness characteristic of their race, poured forth upon the stragglers, inflicted many wounds upon them, and put them to rout, to their great amazement. Then, before resistance to this first assault could be organised, the shield-bearing troops, bursting forth from the forest, overthrew and routed the Romans who were returning to the ranks, while the cavalry, dispatched after those in flight, followed them all the way back to the camp, cutting them to pieces. Provision was also made that no one should escape. For two hundred and fifty reserve horsemen, sent ahead for the purpose, found it a simple matter to race forward by short cuts, and then to turn back and meet those who had first fled, before they reached Pompey's camp. On learning of this, Pompey sent out a legion under Decimus Laelius to reinforce his men, whereupon the cavalry of the enemy, withdrawing to the right flank, pretended to give way, and then, passing round the legion, assaulted it from the rear, while those who had followed up the foragers attacked it from the front also. Thus the legion with its commander was crushed between the two lines of the enemy. When Pompey led out his entire army to help the legion, Sertorius exhibited his forces drawn up on the hillside, and thus baulked Pompey's purpose. Thus, in addition to inflicting a twofold disaster, as a result of the same strategy, Sertorius forced Pompey to be the helpless witness of the destruction of his own troops. This was the first battle between Sertorius and Pompey. According to Livy, ten thousand men were lost in Pompey's army, along with the entire transport.
Some notes. The battle took place in 77 BC. The third watch is around 9:00 AM. A cohort was composed of 480 men, and legion was made of ten cohorts. The Romans, and their similarly armed and trained Spanish counterparts, would have had a chain-mail shirts, bronze helmets, long oval shields, a javelin, and a short stabbing sword. The light armed soldiers would have had a number of javelins, a small shield, and maybe the helmet. The cavalry had a few javelins, a longer sword, a helmet, and some kind of armor on their chest (metal or leather). Oh, and no pants. Except for maybe of the Spanish. But then they were barbarians.

So. Sertorius is brilliant, yes? It's not everyday that you get to cut down two Roman legions with hardly a casualty. Incredibly detailed and well thought out plan and some brilliant execution. But there's more than that. Luck was involved too. The ambush worked so well that no Roman, if any survived uncaptured, was able to get back to warn Pompey or Laelius of the size of the ambush. Pompey must have been expecting the kinds of ambushes he put up with over the nearer foraging ground. Bad assumption. Laelius, then, was meant command a relief force and not a force capable of independent action. The Romans had an inherent to dislike of skirmishers and cavalry and consequently had very few in their armies. Pompey would have sent a sizable contingent of cavalry and skirmishers with foragers to, you know, ward off an ambush. Since these were already dead, not that he knew that, and since he would have kept the majority of those kinds of troops with him in case Sertorius offered battle, it's most likely that Laelius marched out without any supporting force at all. Remember he was supposed to be leading reinforcements. That Priscus' cavalry could flank him so easily is pretty good evidence that I'm right. The result, then, was pretty much set in stone.

That being said. Here's the image that's staying with me. Sertorius must have been watching the initial force of foragers in case it was bigger than usual and he had to call off the ambush. Seeing as it was the normal contingent, he would have signaled the go-ahead. Since the first battle took place under the trees, he wouldn't have been able to see anything, though he would have been confident of success. I can't imagine the feeling he had when he saw Laelius' men march out of Pompey's camp. Seeing them without enough numbers and without sufficient cavalry and skirmishers, he would have known that the first engagement was an unqualified success and that is was highly probable that every single one of them was going to die. Then, after the inevitable result, he got to watch Pompey make preparations to march out, knowing that he would be able to counter that too and that all Pompey could do was sit back and take it.

Dark stuff. But fascinating.

Hi-larious


I'm not a huge fan of those Chuck Norris statements, but this one really tickled my funny bone:
On his birthday, Chuck Norris randomly selects one lucky child to be thrown into the sun.
Not sure why. I don't think it's even technically (if I can use that word with humor) the best. That award goes to:
Chuck Norris doesn't go hunting. Hunting requires some element of chance. Chuck Norris goes killing.
I'll have to ruminate on this.

Snoozing on the Job

I guess Rico and his crew weren't on the short list of cute families with recent babies. Maybe I should think about getting a new blog partner. If only I knew someone like those people in the article.

Throw Me a Frickin' Bone

In yet another display of its ongoing slide in moral turpitude, Hollywood has consistently refused to adequately portray a giant evil wolf.

Exhibit A:


WETA, normally superb on monster design, decided to with the giant hyena/hamster route, rather than portray the large, cunningly intelligent wolves Tolkien describes.

Exhibit B:

As good as ILM has been in the past, creature design for the Harry Potter movies has been less than stellar. I'm thinking of the centaurs in particular here. Anyway, Lupin's alter ego looks more sad than terrifying. Maybe even a little cute.

Exhibit C:

The best of the lot, as is befitting a Frank Miller inspired movie. Still, you can tell that The 300 didn't have a top-of-the-line budget (not that it helped the previous two creatures). He just looks a little fake. The movement, in particular, is a problem.

Until Hollywood manages to come up with a realistic, sufficiently scary design, I suggest it sticks to what it does best rather than churn out unsatisfactory canines:

Good Question

What is man, that you ask so much of him,
and that you set your mind upon him,
Visit him every morning,
and test him every moment?
-Job 7: 17-18