Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Thither Europe?

From Treehouse of Horror XI:

There are numerous parallels one could draw; however, the one that stuck with me the most was Homer's: "Hey, you gotta hand it to those dolphins. They just wanted it more."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

City Journal and Tupac

I don't regularly read City Journal, although I should. It seems whenever I do have the opportunity to read it, I find something profound and thought-provoking.

Regarding the dismissal of Tupac as a voice of the black community, all I have to say is this: "That's why I f***** your b****, you fat m***** f*****."

Truly a poet.

In a semi-related note, I miss the Rap Lyric of the Day.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Back in Black

Good article over at City Journal by Kay Hymowitz. Here's a representative paragraph:
It’s not just the younger politicos who want to get past Hilliard’s Jackson-era rhetoric. The old talk doesn’t sit well with younger black professionals and intellectuals, either. Debra J. Dickerson, in her provocatively titled The End of Blackness, argues that it’s time to throw off the crude groupthink that de- fines “real blacks” as disenfranchised victims of white power. “Blackness is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions, just as overt racism did,” Dickerson writes. In the same vein, John McWhorter of the Manhattan Institute argues in Authentically Black that a conception of identity that dismisses middle-class blacks as inauthentic is fatally limited. After all, both authors agree, it hardly makes sense to imagine a single identity for almost 40 million black Americans living, as they do, in geographically, culturally, and economically diverse circumstances. Certainly more blacks are living in Obama’s America than in Hilliard’s: according to a 2004 Harris poll, 61 percent say that they are “very satisfied with their lives,” more than half indicate that their lives improved last year, and—get this—86 percent are optimistic about the next five years.

It also includes some digs at Jesse Jackson. Can't beat that.

Of course, Hymowtiz doesn't do more than touch on the problems in the black ghetto, but I think this emerging, less race-conscious, black middle class might be the path out. For all his many gifts, which I'm sure Rico will elaborate on, Tupac might not be the best role model for a social group.

*Damn I'm jealous at "Razzia the Roof." I couldn't for the life of me think of pun other than Papa Razzia, a play on one of Benedict's nicknames before he was elected. Somehow I didn't think that quite fit.


From time to time, I daydream about manual labor and think I would really enjoy doing it. The idea sounds pretty good: you put in your 8 or 10 hours, go home, and stop thinking about work. There's a certain appeal to that.

Then I carry everything I own into a new apartment, and I think, "Man, I'm glad I have a college degree."

Razzia the roof?

Chuck Lennon woould approve.

I don't know anything about Jack Balcer, but you can bet Jack Bauer doesn't waste time worrying about razzia. He just puts a plastic bag over your head and suffocates you.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I'd Like to Razzia You!

So razzia apparently means "a plundering raid," from the Arabic gazwa. Now, why couldn't Jack Balcer use "plundering raid" or perhaps just "raid" instead of razzia? There are lots of books about ancient warfare, this the first in my experience where the author thought the word razzia was necessary. I'm going to have to attribute Balcer's use of razzia to his sense of inadequacy in having his crappy, paradigmatic book only published by Scholars Press out in Chico, California. Heard they're doing some great things out there. Really.

Friday, January 26, 2007

My Heroes

I don't know who made this video, but they deserve a medal. And a lifetime supply of chicken nuggets.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Good work if you can get it

According to an article in The Economist on the latest trends in artificial conception, a California sperm bank, one of the most respected institutions in the field, pays $75 for a male sample, with premiums for things like high test scores and advanced degrees. (For what it's worth, they turn around and sell the samples for $240 to $400, depending on sperm count.)

If I didn't have ethical objections, I would be there in a heartbeat. As part-time jobs go, that one would have to be at or near the top of my list.

I considered creating a label for "sperm donation," but ultimately decided against it.

Book Report: Twilight in the Desert

Twilight in the Desert is Matthew Simmons' extended argument that the days of cheap and easy oil in Saudi Arabia are rapidly coming to an end.

He seems to put forth a devastating case. He argues that contrary to popular opinion, the Saudis don't have the ability to increase their supply if and when world demand increases. He notes that so much of the nation's oil comes from a handful of aging fields that, if history and other oil fields are any guide, will soon go into rapid decline. He also argues that there are very few fields waiting in reserve that will be able to replace these "super giants" when they run out of oil.

I thought it was fairly ironic that I was reading this book as the worldwide price of oil plummeted to a two-year low.

My biggest qualm with the book is that it is too ambitious. Simmons wanted to write a book that convinced energy insiders and engineers that his research was correct. He also wanted to write a book that accomplished the same thing for educated, but uninitiated, readers. Consequently, it makes it difficult for those of us with no background in oil or engineering to truly engage in a conversation with the book. Simmons may be right, or it may be that I'm too ignorant to see his faults. I've read a few reviews of the book; generally it seems that financial publications really liked it, while scientific reviews were more skeptical.

Simmons also didn't address the one great question I had while reading the book. If he is correct, and Saudi oil is going to decline in the near future, why are the Saudis dismissing his report and claiming they have enough oil to satisfy the world for the next 30 years? If they were truly running low, wouldn't it be in their best interests for the world to accept that? It would certainly drive up the price of oil and allow the Saudis to maximize the value of the oil they have left. Maybe I'm mising something, but that was the one question that i felt was left hanging.

Ultimately, I can only recommend the book if you're already interested in the topic. Otherwise, it's too frustarting.

Up Next: America Alone, Mark Steyn's doom-mongering on the rise of Islamism in Europe and his recognition that only America will have the spine to combat it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The rain in Nain. . .

This post actually has nothing to do with Nain. I just liked the title.

However, the title of the previous post has prompted me to share with you my love for the original Batman series. They run the old episodes here on the weekends, and I've been lucky enough to catch some of them over the past few weeks. In just the last two episodes I've seen, the Caped Crusader has fulled out the following from his utility belt: a Steam-neutralizing Bat-Pellet, an exploding Bat-Pellet, spare oxygen, and a Bat-Inverser (reverses the polarity on an electric cable).

Many thanks to this awesome website.

Holy Amazing Map, Batman!

Admit it. You always wanted to know where Nain was:

Really a great site, although . . .

I could point out the appalling lack of Maccabees and its sister so-called Apocrypha, but that might lead me into a discussion questioning Martin Luther, on his own authority, singlehandedly declaiming that roughly 1500 years of scriptural authority just wasn't good enough for him. And I wouldn't want to do that, would I?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

BCS Blunders

My own actually, not the system's.

In my previous post on the Top 10, I forgot to mention my shoddy job of picking the five BCS games. I accurately called the Sugar Bowl, where I had LSU by two or more touchdowns. I predicted Lousiville to win by a similar margin, though I didn't think Wake Forest would make such a game of it. The other three bowls I was way off. I picked Oklahoma to cruise to an easy victory over the upstart Broncos, while Michigan was going to win a close one against USC. Finally, I had Ohio State by two or more touchdowns. Now, Ted Ginn being out certainly made a difference, but there was no way Florida was going to lose that game. So much for informed prognostication.

All I'm saying is...

I don't want to live in an America where Rex Grossman is a Super Bowl quarterback.

Go Saints.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Tidying Up

I'm going to gracefully sidestep Rico's latest post and instead turn to the one before that.

Is is me, or is he complaining about his astronomically high LSAT score? The nerve. Think of all those poor people stuck toiling at second rate schools like the University of Chicago because that's all their pathetic scores could get them.

I would also like to bring to light that, out of the grand total of three comments this blog has elicited, two of them were from Rico's friend who attached them to my posts as if I were Rico.

And I'd Dance Like the King of the Eyesores . . .

I was casually browsing Amazon yesterday and found out that the new Shins album comes out in three days. Wincing the Night Away. I didn't even know they were working on a new album. I don't really follow the band. Oh, Inverted World was a decent debut, and Chutes Too Narrow rocked my world (in an indy rock kind of way). So color me excited. The only other time I can remember eagerly awaiting a new album was in 2001 for Lions by the Black Crowes.* The result: poop.

Here's the video for the song "Phantom Limb" from Wincing the Night Away:

Oh I guess I should mention that I'm happy about the nautical theme of the album, not only because of my love of pirates, but because the greatest album of all time employed a nautical theme to great success.

*Not because I don't like music, you understand, but because I don't like much music by extant bands.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Big Jim's Top 10

I've been meaning to get around to this post for a while, and here we finally are. Although the BCS Champsionship Game was nigh on a fortnight ago, I recorded my list a couple of days after Urban's triumph. Laziness prevented me from the ardurous task of copying and pasting this brief tally of terms from Word onto Blogger. So, without further ado:
1. Florida
2. USC
3. LSU
4. OSU
5. Michigan
6. Louisville
7. Auburn
8. West Virginia
9. Boise
10. Wisconsin

Not too many surprises here. I don't think I have to defend Florida. It was difficult putting USC at number two, what with them losing two games to unranked teams, but USC was young this year, and young teams make mistakes. LSU gets shot all the way up to three because of Michigan's and OSU's absolute dismemberment. The Big 10 was a bit hollow this year. Boise State is at nine since I don't think they could beat a BCS team with an actual quarterback. Sorry Paul. The rest you can basically work out for yourself.

Guy love

To Big Jim, my Super Chocolate Bear:

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The 3-4

Slightly more practical than the 1-3-7, but slightly less feasible given our current numbers.

Whenever someone would bring up the idea of the Irish running a 3-4, the rest of the messageboard would immediately excoriate him. Reading their replies, one got the impression that a 500 lb. NT, two 400 lb. DE, and two 300 lb. OLB with 4.2 speed were necessary to even think about implementing this arcane scheme; however, yesterday Jeff on Irish Eyes reported that the Irish probably are going to convert to the 3-4 at some point, undoubtedly due to the preferences of new Defensive Coordinator Corwin Brown.

From the American Football Strategy Wikipedia article:
Defensive line

The 3 down linemen attempt to occupy the offensive linemen, while on running plays being responsible for the two gaps on either side of them, or two gapping. The defensive line is made up of a nose tackle (NT), who lines up in front of the opposing team's center and two defensive ends (DEs), who flank the nose tackle on both sides. Linemen in 3-4 schemes tend to be larger than their 4-3 counterparts to take up more space and guard more territory along the defensive front.


4 linebackers line up behind the defensive line. In a 3-4 defense, the linebacker unit is made up of two middle or inside linebackers (MLBs/ILBs), who are flanked on both sides by outside linebackers (OLBs).

The strength of the 3-4 is its ability to confuse the quarterback during passing plays. Most teams generate a pass rush by sending at least 4 defensive men at the quarterback. In a standard 4-3 alignment, these 4 rushers are usually the 4 down linemen. But in a 3-4, the fourth rusher is a linebacker. Since there are 4 linebackers, the fourth potential rusher can come from a variety of spots on the field, thus influencing and sometimes confusing the quarterback's pre-snap defensive read.

A drawback of the 3-4 is that without a fourth lineman to take on the offensive blockers and close the running lane, both the defensive linemen and the linebackers can be overwhelmed by blocking schemes in the running game; thus a 3-4 defense requires a large and strong nose tackle able to routinely tie up 2 or more blockers, freeing the middle linebackers to make the tackle. The 3-4 linebackers must be very athletic and strong enough to shed blocks by fullbacks, tight ends, and offensive linemen to get to the running back.

I thought I'd take a look on how this defense would shake out.


1. The data should be pretty straightforward. The number in parentheses after the weight is the weight I expect them to play at next year. The players' class is their academic class--both because it was easier to find and because eligible years left doesn't matter for the sake of this post.

2. Only 5 NFL teams run the 3-4. By my count: Browns, Chargers, Cowboys, Patriots, and Steelers. I averaged the height and weight of the starters for these teams by position to arrive at the NFL mean. Due to my limited knowledge of the NFL and the ambiguity of the official web sites, I wasn't able to include backups in this calculation.

3. For the Goal category, I took 20-10 lbs. off the NFL average depending on the position in question, I kept the height the same.



Derrell Hand, 285 (290); 6'3"-Junior
Pat Kuntz, 270 (280); 6"2"-Junior
Trevor Laws, 283 (288); 6"1"-Fifth Year
Paddy Mullen, 265 (285); 6'5"-Sophomore
Andrew Nuss, 285 (280); 6'5"-Freshman
Ian Williams, 290 (285); 6'1"-Freshman

Projected 2-Deep: Laws; Hand

Current: 279 (265-290); 6'3" (6'1"-6'5")
Current 2-Deep: 284; 6'2"
Projected: 285 (280-290); 6'3" (6'-6'5")
Projected 2-Deep: 289 (288-290); 6'2" (6'1"-6'3")
Goal: 315; 6'3"
NFL: 335 (310-365); 6'3" (6'1 - 6'5")

As you can see, Notre Dame has quite a ways to go. By my calculations our 2-Deep would be 26 lbs. behind our goal and 46 lbs. behind the NFL average. Laws, our best DT, will be a fifth year next year, so I don't think he'll ever get to 300 lbs. let alone 315. Of the players on our roster only Nuss and Williams (both currently high school seniors) and maybe Hand will ever achieve the hoped for weight. Kuntz hasn't shown any special aptitude up this point, so it might not matter what his weight is. While it's possible a 290-300 lb. Mullen might be an adequate NT depending upon his drive, quickness, etc.; Paddy should probably switch over to DE at some point since he would compare perfectly with the NFL standard.

Justin Brown, 254, 6'3"-Senior
Paddy Mullen, 265, 6'5"-True Freshman
John Ryan, 240, 6'5"-True Freshman
Dwight Stephenson, 248; 6'2"-True Senior
Justin Trattou, 250; 6'4"-Incoming Freshman

Projected 2 Deep: Brown, Ryan; Trattou, Mullen

Current: 251 (240-265); 6'4"
Current 2-Deep: 252; 6'4"
Projected: 265; 6'4"
Projected 2-Deep: 267; 6'4"
Goal: 277; 6'4"
NFL: 297 (285-310); 6'4" (6'2" - 6'6")

While the DE situation isn't perfect, at least the projected 2-Deep average is only 10 lbs. behind our goal. The bigger problem with the projected 2-Deep is that Brown would be the only upperclassman (and an undistinguished one at that). Ryan and Mullen will be sophomores next year, while Trattou will be a true freshman. Suddenly Jason Peters becomes a must-get. Where have you gone Ronald Talley? He would have been a decent contributor as a DE in the new scheme. As you can see I've taken my own advice and already moved Mullen over to DE. My assumption is that he won't crack the 3-Deep this year at DT. If he does, then Stevenson moves into the 2-Deep. On a side note, it will be interesting to see what a guy like Trattou could do in a college 3-4. While DEs don't get many tackles in the NFL, Trattou is so good that he has the potential to do something pretty interesting things.

Joe Brockington, 220 (225); 6'1"-Fifth Year
Maurice Crum, 220 (230); 6'0"-Senior
Aaron Nagel, 215 (225); 6'1"-Freshman
Steve Paskorz, 220 (230); 6'2"-Freshman
Steve Quinn, 215 (222); 6'2"-Junior
Toryan Smith, 230 (240); 6'0"-Freshman
Kevin Washington, 239 (245); 6'1"-Junior

Projected 2 Deep: Crum, T. Smith; Brockington, Washington

Current: 223 (215-239); 6'1" (6'-6'2")
Current 2-Deep: 227 (220-239); 6'1" (6'-6'1")
Projected: 231 (222-245); 6'1" (6'-6'2")
Projected 2-Deep: 235 (225-245); 6'1" (6'-6'1")
Goal: 233; 6'2"
NFL: 243 (227-254); 6'2" (6'-6'5")

It looks like we finally have a position at which the Irish meet the necessary weight requirements. Crum and Smith in the middle should be pretty solid. Brockington should function as a competent backup, while Washington is pretty much an unknown at this point. I threw him in just to give some size to the ILBs. It hurts that Weis didn't go after a true MLB this year. Colasanti's looking pretty good now, isn't he? Chris Donald, of course, would have been gravy, but he's gone for oranger pastures. Concerning the two committed LBs, only Paskorz looks like he could contribute in the 3-4. Nagel, alas, would make a prototypical WLB in the 4-3. Still, if is great grades weren't the primary reason for his recruitment, it's possible that Nagel might be one of those guys who punches above his weight--not something you can exactly count on though. I expect both Nagel and Paskorz to be passed over in the depth chart. Unfortunate, since they were both guys who committed to ND on the spot. Malcolm Smith (215, 6'2"), a recruit still in play, is also small but looks to more talented than Nagel.

Morrice Richardson, 228 (238); 6'2"-Sophomore
Anthony Vernaglia, 230 (235)6'3"-Senior
Kallen Wade, 220 (235); 6'5"-Sophomore
Scott Smith, 242 (247); 6'3" Junior
Kerry Neal, 230 (240); 6'3"-Freshman

Projected 2 Deep: Richardson, Wade; Neal, Vernaglia

Current: 230 (220-242); 6'3"
Current 2-Deep: 227 (220-230); 6'3"
Projected: 239 (235-247); 6'3"
Projected 2-Deep: 237 (235-240); 6'3"
Goal: 247; 6'4"
NFL: 257 (243-270); 6'4" (6'3"-6'6")

Once again we're back to being drastically underweight and scarily young. Richardson and Wade will both be true sophomores, while Neal will be a true freshman. Unlike the ILB we actually have the beginnings of a decent depth chart among the underclassmen. Richardson, Wade, and Neal OLB types and should easily put on the required weight given some time. If Vernaglia could only put it together, he could be a great help this year. I don't really see that happening though. The loss of Martez Wilson hurts here, since he would make a perfect OLB. Maybe Corwin Brown will be able to persuade him to make the switch from Illinois to Notre Dame?


You may have notice a recurring theme. Lack of depth. Ty left the defense in an extremely precarious position numbers-wise. Talent-wise wasn't any better. A defensive line of Brown, Hand, Kuntz, and Talley might scare Navy, but that's about it. Weis' failure to recruit suitable numbers of LBs and DL these past two years hasn't helped any, although the ones that did commit are clearly superior in ability.

Finally, I thought I'd look at how this year's recruiting class compares with our new needs:

NT (Done, Fulfilled): Willams - Blackwell would've been nice since the depth above is so thin
DE (Unfulfilled): Trattou - filled if Peters commits
OLB (Done, Unfulfilled): Neal - filled if Wilson or Benn switches his commitment
ILB (Unfulfilled): Paskorz, Nagel - if Malcolm Smith were to commit I'd consider this group to be a marginal success. If Donald decommits from Tennessee, ILB would be a roaring success.


Verdict: moving to a 3-4 could be quite painful next year. When you have a scheme requiring three defensive linemen to tie up five offenseive linemen, it hurts that every single one of your linemen are undersized. That all but one of your starting linebackers are also going to be undersized compounds the problem. This said, next year is clearly marked as a rebuilding year. Since defensives schemes take time to implement, it's better to take our lumps next year than during a BCS run in '08. Still, due to the problems I just noted, I would advise a situational use of the 3-4, whose use expands throughout the season; however I'm not the new defensive coordinator of the Irish, for which you should be eternally grateful.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

We'll even throw in a year's supply of Turtle Wax!

Because I rocked the LSAT last year, I've received an inordinate amount of mail from law schools over the past few months. It's very similar to the materials many of us got before college, with one sweet exception: many schools throw in a waiver so the application is free. Even some top schools - Columbia, Duke, and Michigan spring to mind - have made this offer. It's a nice gesture, and if I were in different circumstances, I'd surely take up some of the schools on the offer.

However, last weekend, the University of Alabama decided to play the ULTIMATE TRUMP CARD. In addition to the fee waiver, they were also offering 25 FREE iTUNES DOWNLOADS!

I would be embarrassed if I worked for an institution that made such an offer. Putting aside its effectiveness (which I can't imagine is too high), it just seems so debasing to resort to these sorts of tactics. I understand what they're trying to do, but if they genuinely feel like they can't sell me on the school's qualities, they shouldn't contact me at all.

For what it's worth, I considered applying just for the downloads, but with the required recommendations and whatnot, I decided it wasn't worth it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I'm really a father!

So I had my first real terrifying father moment today. Lauren called me earlier tonight to tell me she was rear-ended. My immediate thought was "Oh God, I hope she's okay." However, just a split-second later, my mind turned right to our child. It was the first time - the first of many, I would expect - that I genuinely feared for the fate of my child.

Thankfully, it appears that both mother and child are okay. We have to get the results of some tests tomorrow, but barring any surprises, we should be in the clear. Thank God.

The upshot of this story is that I feel more like a father today than I have felt in the first four months of Lauren's pregnancy. I couldn't be happier.

Also, this is the second major accident Lauren's been involved in. Neither was her fault, and both involved Asian drivers.

I'm just sayin'.

State Sponsored Latin . . .

The BBC reported that during its presidency of the EU, Finland chose Latin for the official language:
Lurking within the world of EU Latin, which is only marginally more difficult to comprehend than EU English, is one delightful statistic - more people subscribe to the newsletter in Latin than to the one in French.

The Finns are clearly having their revenge on French President Jacques Chirac, who once dismissed their food as the worst in the EU.

The official site.

Babies! Everywhere!

500 of them.

In my quest to find something worth watching during the day (still unfulfilled), I've seen this promo a number of times:

Pretty cool stuff.

It reminded me, however, of a pretty uncool 2004 op-ed from the NY Times. Amy Richards wrote about the expirence Amy Barret told to her. There are so many gems, so I've restrained myself to quoting just a few of the paragraphs.

Having felt physically fine up to this point, I got on the subway afterward, and all of a sudden, I felt ill. I didn't want to eat anything. What I was going through seemed like a very unnatural experience. On the subway, Peter asked, ''Shouldn't we consider having triplets?'' And I had this adverse reaction: ''This is why they say it's the woman's choice, because you think I could just carry triplets. That's easy for you to say, but I'd have to give up my life.'' Not only would I have to be on bed rest at 20 weeks, I wouldn't be able to fly after 15. I was already at eight weeks. When I found out about the triplets, I felt like: It's not the back of a pickup at 16, but now I'm going to have to move to Staten Island. I'll never leave my house because I'll have to care for these children. I'll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise. Even in my moments of thinking about having three, I don't think that deep down I was ever considering it.

The specialist called me back at 10 p.m. I had just finished watching a Boston Pops concert at Symphony Hall. As everybody burst into applause, I watched my cellphone vibrating, grabbed it and ran into the lobby. He told me that he does a detailed sonogram before doing a selective reduction to see if one fetus appears to be struggling. The procedure involves a shot of potassium chloride to the heart of the fetus. There are a lot more complications when a woman carries multiples. And so, from the doctor's perspective, it's a matter of trying to save the woman this trauma. After I talked to the specialist, I told Peter, ''That's what I'm going to do.'' He replied, ''What we're going to do.'' He respected what I was going through, but at a certain point, he felt that this was a decision we were making. I agreed.

When we saw the specialist, we found out that I was carrying identical twins and a stand alone. My doctors thought the stand alone was three days older. There was something psychologically comforting about that, since I wanted to have just one.

Oh, make sure to check out the correction at the end of the article. Don't worry though. I'm sure bias didn't enter into it at all.

More Scrubs

The problem is that JD and Kim's relationship isn't really settled at this point. They don't know what they're going to do once the baby comes. That's why I find her decision irresponsible.

Why can't they all learn English like good civilized people?

From The Economist:
"In 2005, the (EU) spent some $1.4 billion on translation and interpretation."


Also, thanks to the addition of Romanian, Bulgarian, and Irish, the EU now has 23 languages. You'd think the U.S. could have at least one.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007


Quick thought on last week's Scrubs before I forget: I have no problem with Kim taking the job without much input from J.D. If it were a permanent position, I would be bothered, but given that it's only supposed to last four months, then I think it ultimately is her decision. If my wife (second-year med student) had an important opportunity like that, to me, it would be her choice. (At least until our firstborn comes.) If their child was to be born during that time, I think J.D. would have deserved a veto, but as it was, I don't think Kim was wrong to do what she did.

I agree about Elliot's story not being particularly funny and the House bit being underutilized.

Friday, January 5, 2007

My New Favorite Commercial

The look on that guy's face as he steals the cheetos is priceless.

Yo Ho Ho

I can't quite remember why, but the topic of Pirates of the Caribbean came up recently with my family. It was either my little brother or sister who asked: "Was Pirates II actually a good movie?"

I don't really have any idea. I've only seen it once, and that was at the theater. After a fresh viewing of The Incredibles on the TV for the first time, I am particularly sensitive to the dangers inherent in a special effects based movie. Action sequences do not a movie make.* To get back on topic, after that one viewing, I came away very much liking Pirates II, though I thought it could stand to trim half an hour or so.

I'm afraid of two things. First, I was initially positive about the first Pirates. That is, until I realized that it was a boring, repetitive movie with Orlando Bloom in it that just happened to have Johnny Depp deliver one of the great performances of our time. Second, the ending was so damn good (I'm talking about Barbossa's appearance here), that I wonder if it biased me towards the rest of the film.

Pirates III comes out this summer, I'm told. Since I'm not all that attached to the series, the wait is of no matter. Still, I'd hate for Pirates II to be a repeat of The Matrix: Reloaded--promise the world and then forget about that tiny thing called a true conclusion.

*I don't want anyone to think that I don't like The Incredibles. I just found that the first hour was a lot slower than I remembered, primarily because the cool action shots weren't quite as mesmerizing at 27".

Work, Work

I'd like to echo Rico's thoughts about what a chore this season has been.

The only game I well and truly enjoyed was our shellacking of Penn State. Even though I was present at ND for Stanford, the game itself just wasn't very enjoyable. I was continually frustrated by our inability to either score or defend against an inferior opponent. The games against Georgia Tech, Airforce, Navy, and UNC had similar difficulties. While the finishes of the MSU and UCLA games left me exhilarated, the first three quarters of the MSU were a disaster zone and all but the final minute of UCLA was somewhat less than enjoyable. As Rico says, the expectations were just to high for the talent level of the team.

Next year should be a lot of fun. We're going to see a lot of young kids play and maybe see the beginnings of a championship run. If we go 8-4, I'll be thrilled. Unlike this year, when I should have known better, I'll be expecting losses to USC and Michigan. The only real pitfall is the game against BC. What would the streak be if we lost to them? Six in a row? Bah.

On the the Clausen/Frazer/Jones/Sharpley Era!

There's a lot of stuff to talk about here--

Let's begin with Notre Dame football. The Sugar Bowl was a terrbily disappointing game, especially considering that it was tied with 2 minutes left in the first half. The thing that may have bothered me most was that Walker and the offensive line had their best game of the year and ultimately it meant nothing.

Until this game, I'd been straddling the fence on whether or not to give Minter another year. However, the woeful defensive performance has sealed it for me: he needs to go. The defense couldn't stop either the run or the pass. The tackling was poor, the coverage was worse, and the schemes achieved nothing. I'm certainly no expert on defensive scheming, but it seems crazy to me that a 10-2 team has absolutely no answers for a 10-yard out pattern.

Another great disappointment was the play of the safeties. Zbikowski and Ndukwe's shortcomings are well-chronicled, and I've come to accept them as a fan. I know neither guy is never going to be able to the best cover safety. However, for two guys that are touted as strong run stoppers, they consistently take bad angles and end up out of position. I hope Zbikowski comes back next year, but without a true free safety playing across from him, he will continue to be a liability.

As much as it pains me to say it, I'm kind of glad to see this season end. The preseason expectations made watching games less fun and more of a chore. I was constantly anxious, hoping the team would perform up to its potential, but fearing that they wouldn't. Next year should be similar to Weis' first, in that Notre Dame graduates a lot of key players and no one will be expecting too much from the team. Hopefully that combination will give them the motivation they need to kick some ass.

It's My Life and I'll Do What I Want To

Color me disappointed with last night's Scrubs. It wasn't that Elliot's storyline was weak and humorless, or the Dr. Cox-as-House gag was woefully underutilized. It's the evolution of JD's relationship with Kim that has me bummed.

The assumptions currently underlying their relationship are all wrong. For some reason or other, which also happens to mesh perfectly with current political correctness, JD knows in his heart that it is Kim's and Kim's decision alone whether to take the new job in Washington or not. When he finally lashes out against this idea, the show makes clear that not only his action (the lashing out) but also the idea behind it is clearly wrong. If Kim wants to put her career above their relationship and thus above their child, then that is the right decision. JD, of course, ends up supporting Kim.

Am I being hopelessly naive, or is it common for couples having a child to not make common decisions or even really address the future in any meaningful way? From the way things have worked out so far, if Kim were to meet an absolutely wonderful guy out in Washington, I guess JD would have to support her decision to remain out there. Silliness.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Gray Skies Are Gonna Clear Up . . .

An accurate statement might be that I was less than happy after last night's beatdown. I am also less than enthused about our chances for next year, pegging them as dismal at best; my spirits, however, were greatly lifted by one omahadomer (a.k.a. the Yoda of ND fans), who had this to day about next years chances:
If we can get a new approach on defense we can very easily be a top 20, maybe even top 10, team next year.

Starting with the offense:

OL: Will be less experienced but more talented. Sullivan, Young and Duncan all played a lot and return.

RB: Good situation here with Walker, Aldridge, Prince, Travis Thomas and frosh.

WR: Big losses here but Grimes in a nice player and we have some exceptional young talent.

QB: Undoubtedly the biggest question mark but no lack of talent here.

TE: Extraordinary talent here with Carlson, Reuland, Yeatman, etc.


Corners: Lambert and Wooden back. Walls, McNeil, Gray also. Good here with right coaching.

Safeties: We need a new approach here. If Zibby stays (and I hope he does) we need to find some role that fits his talents. Maybe safety-LB hybrid.

LB's: Smith, Brockington, Crum, young talent coming in. Has the makings of a good unit.

DT's: Law hopefully back. Other DT spot one of my biggest worries. Little depth here.

DE's: Another worry spot here but tremendous young talent.

Now, as I said, I pegged our chances at dismal. I'm still not ready to lift them much further, despite the prognostications of Omaha, who has forgotten more than I'll ever know.

I'm scared for our receivers next year. Grimes will probably max out his potential at dependable. Not good for our most experienced receiver next year. LB is in a similar situation. Crum has been steady, though not spectacular. Brockington is in the same boat. Both disappeared last night (Brockington more than Crum). Due to our lack of depth, our strategy at LB is to hope that Toryan Smith, a current freshman, will be ready to play MLB. If he is well and truly ready, our LB corps might finally be decent at stopping the run. Still, if Smith isn't ready or gets hurt, we can expect a repeat of this year.

Even more frightening is the defensive line. Omaha gets it exactly right with this summary of our DT woes, but his analysis of our status at DE leaves me wondering. Tremendous as our talent at DE might be, it's very young talent. It would be quite a stretch to call Ryan, let alone Brown, tremendous. Of Wade we haven't had so much as a sniff, understandably, since he needs to put on a good 25-30 pounds. Richardson, whom we have seen, albeit briefly, needs to add similar poundage. Trattou and Neal show every sign of being tremendous, but they are both high school seniors right now (Add Ben Martin to this category if he ends up committing.). Trattou might possibly play next year, but it's a little much to ask him to be a dominating defensive end as a freshman. Neal is a project similar to Wade.

I guess our only real option is to wait and see. I realize that I'm sticking my neck out here, but, in my defence, I "did not" rather than "tried."

I would happily play my part in this analogy.

Stilin' Yo

Apparently a stile is the name for a passage through a wall that is usable to humans but not to livestock. Pretty cool. A turnstile is naturally an elaboration of that idea. Don't know if I like the implications of a turnstiles being inaccessible to me though . . . Again, courtesy of Charles Williams. Looks quite picturesque and typically English. I want one.

I Wonder as I Wander

I'll start things off.

Your D-Line has serious problems when one of your DTs thinks LSU must be atttempting a screen since he managed to blow past his blocker. It was the most ridiculous play of the night. Trevor Laws finally managed to get through the line for a clear shot at Russel. Instead, he turns around and starts to head upfield. He then realizes that there wasn't, in fact, a screen. By the time he closes to Russel the ball's already out of the QB's hands.

I think this was as a good a capsule of our defense as any.

Big Jim Lolloped. . .

LSU walloped.

Perhaps more thoughts at a later date, but suffice it to say that I'm quite disappointed.

Some People Are Very Tall and Merciless.

JaMarcus Russell is destroying Notre Dame's future recruiting classes.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007


Well, I lolloped all day today. One of the perks of having a five week winter break, I guess.

I came across the word, using its secondary meaning, in The Place of the Lion. I thought Williams might have been pulling a Lewis Carroll, but it appears that he may, may, he smarter than I am. So, in case you were wondering, lollop can either mean "to loll" or "lounge" or "to move forward with a bounding or leaping motion."

I leave it you to guess what my activities consisted of today.

Lollopping on to other topics, I think Rico's list of conservative columnists is pretty comprehensive, though I'd switch Steyn and Krauthammer and add Rich Lowry. I'd also put George Will on my list of people with whom to never publicly argue. I remember the glory days of ABC's "This Week," when the hosts were Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts and the commentators were Will and Stephanopoulos. While never-falingly patrician, Will proceeded to rip Stephanopoulos to shreds week after week. Beautiful.

This man will destroy you in the politest way possible. His bow tie will only add to the humiliation.

Just a Spoonful of Sugar . . .

Helps the medicine go down.

Medicine being the key word here. I'm not as optimistic as Rico. LSU by two touchdowns. Notre Dame has yet to stop a team that can both run and pass.

Pour some sugar on me

Notre Dame - 27
LSU - 24

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

A Blast from the Past

Reading this article ripping Lloyd Carr and his offensive coaching staff brought me right back to the days of Tyrone Willingham. Uninspired play calling, an inability or unwillingness to make adjustments, a refusal to accept any responsibility. . . man, I do not miss those days.

This blurb in particular took me back to the great days of 2002 to 2004:

On their third play of the third quarter, the Wolverines sent freshman Greg Mathews in at receiver. Star Mario Manningham was on the sideline. Now, anybody who has watched the Wolverines knew they were not going to pass to their receivers on that play. I think the Wolverines have a spot on their depth chart for Freshman Receiver We Send Out There Once In a While To Let The Opponent Know We're Not Passing, and this season the guy was Mathews.

Anyone who watched Notre Dame football during this period should remember fondly that any time Chase Anastasio and Carlyle Holiday (post-position switch) came into the game for Maurice Stovall and Rhema McKnight that Notre Dame was going to run the football.

On a semi-related note, Holiday, who was my favorite player during my four years at ND, had 5 catches for 87 yards in the Packers last game this year. The fact that Willingham and his staff couldn't make use of his incredible talent is one of the greatest blots on their tenure at Notre Dame.

Quick movie plug

Little Miss Sunshine is the funniest movie I have seen in a very long time. I'm not much of a laugh-out-loud type of person (ask my wife, who is incredibly proud when she can get a snicker out of me), but I got several really strong belly laughs during this film. It certainly helped that I watched this movie about an outrageously dysfunctional family with my own crazy family. Regardless, Steve Carrell is absolutely hysterical in this role.

I would say more, but two reasons I enjoyed the movie so much were that I had no expectations going in and that so many of the jokes were unexpected.

High-larious Political Commentary

I find Lileks to be one of the funniest writers - in any arena - in America. His columns never fail to make me laugh several times. He is possibly the most clever and witty political colmnist. His site always has amusing content.

While I'm on the topic, I'll run down my other favorites. If I want hard-hitting analysis, Krauthammer is definitely my favorite columnist. If I want political humor, Lileks is the best. If I'm looking for some combination of the two, you can't go wrong with Mark Steyn. Rounding out the list would be Christopher Hitchens (the one writer with whom I would never, ever publicly argue), Thomas Sowell, George Will, and Jonah Goldberg.

Monday, January 1, 2007

James Lileks Is a Funny, Funny Man

In his latest column Lileks decides to "look back" on the year of 2007 with hillarious (though not sexy) results.

The highlights:

Vladimir Putin prepared for his eventual retirement in 2008 by forcing the Russian Parliament to create a position called "Czar," which he described as "purely ceremonial." Critics of his imperial ambitions and corrupt, gangster-style government were not reassured by the theft of Lenin's body, which turned up on eBay, was then stolen from the winning bidder and was finally discovered in a London alley. Poisoned.

He actually manages to top this gem with his "recap" of presidential bumper stickers:
Rudy Guiliani rolled out a new campaign slogan: "Why? Because I'll Nuke Them Old-School Style If I Have To, and You Know It," while John McCain's team came up with a GOP base-tested slogan, "Suck It Up, Haters! It's Him or the Witch."

I'm in awe of Lileks ability to so wittily capture the reason behind voting for either candidate. The rest of the article is, of course, worth reading. Any sentence containing "Kim John Il" and "pony" is inherently amazing.