Thursday, March 29, 2007

French follies

I was reading a recent article in The Economist about Segolene Royal, the Socialist Party nominee for President in France. Her platform includes all sorts of wacky lefty ideas, but the one that struck me was her proposal to raise the minimum wage.

She wants to increase the minimum wage to 1,500 euros per month. By my calculations, that equates to $13.93 per hour. (See my calculations below.) I just can't imagine how it's possible for a country to have any economic growth when it's paying its burger flippers nearly $14 an hour. But hey, who needs economic growth when the government takes care of you from artificially-conceived birth to physician-assisted death?

1,500 Euros = $1,950

240 work days per year = 20 work days per month

7 hour work day * 20 work days per month = 140 work hours per month

$1,950 / 140 = $13.93

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

You know you're married when. . . (Part 482)

You know you're married when the most exciting news you've heard for days is the installation of your new washer and dryer.

Big time laundry party tonight.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Less Reliable than a 2012 Presidential Poll!

I suppose I should do this before the season starts:

QB - Demetrius Jones
HB - Travis Thomas
FB - Asaph Schwapp
WR - David Grimes
WR - Duval Kamara
TE - John Carlson
LT - Paul Duncan
LG - Eric Olsen
OC - John Sullivan
RG - Dan Wenger
RT - Sam Young

DE - Trevor Laws
DT - Chris Stewart
DE - Pat Kuntz
OLB - Morrice Richardson
ILB - Maurice Crum
ILB - Toryan Smith
OLB - Anthony Vernaglia
CB - Terrail Lambert
FS - David Bruton
SS - Tom Zbikowski
CB - Ambrose Wooden

Friday, March 23, 2007

Chalk-a-thon rolls on!

This year's NCAA tournament has been incredibly devoid of upsets. The favorites just keep winning. With just 12 teams left (as I write this, we're halfway between the sweet 16 and the elite 8), there are four #1 seeds, three #2 seeds, a #3 seed, two #5 seeds, a #6 seed (Vanderbilt), and a #7 seed (UNLV). If all the higher seeds win tonight, the elite 8 could be 4 #1's, 3 #2's, and a #3. As such, I will be rooting for my former hometown Runnin' Rebels to wreck some brackets tonight.

The pool I'm in has 43 participants. If someone had just picked all the higher seeds every round, he would currently be tied for second place. (FYI, I'm currently tied for 21st, but I will most likely win or come in second if Georgetown wins it all. Go Hoyas!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ignatius Men Forever

I'd just like to highlight some praise given to another Wildcat:
Q. And lastly, every year there's a handful of players that kind of step up that the general public doesn't know about, for example, Carlson last year, are there a few guys that you've noticed have stepped it up with off-season workouts that you're spending big things from?

COACH WEIS: The heroes from the off-season were Travis and Carlson. They were like men amongst boys. It was not even close for second, but you'll see some names pop up. Like I don't want to raise expectations too high but I'll give you a for instance.

If you ask me to call out like one player, I'll call out a player like John Ryan. Not too many people know a heck of a lot about John Ryan other than he was a defensive end backing up Victor Abiamiri and now he's an outside linebacker, and at 6'4", 6'5", 245 pounds, he's your prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker. Where in a 4-3 defense, I don't know if he had ever been prototypical either way.

So as we tweak the defensive scheme, a guy like that might find a greater home than they might have had if the defense stayed the same.


Rico's coming up with his own as well. If mine are closer to the starting lineup vs. GT then I get his firstborn. If he wins, I guess he gets my favorite book or something.

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

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

The battle is joined

Lists rock!
1. Against the Wind - Bob Seger
2. Take it Easy - The Eagles
3. Tuesday's Gone - Lynnyrd Skynnyrd
4. Beer for my Horses - Toby Keith and Willie Nelson
5. Dust on the Bottle - David Lee Murphy
6. Crossfire - Stevie Ray Vaughan
7. Comeback - The Warren Brothers
8. Lose Yourself - Eminem
9. Sweet Child o' Mine - Guns 'n Roses
10. Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones
11. What was I Thinkin' - Dierks Bentley
12. Wouldn't it be Nice - The Beach Boys
13. Riding with the King - B.B. King and Eric Clapton
14. Symphony No. 9, Fourth Movement ("Ode to Joy") - Beethoven
15. Three Days - Pat Green
16. Regulate - Warren G and Nate Dogg
17. Hit 'em Up - 2Pac
18. Say it Ain't So - Weezer
19. Somebody's Baby - Jackson Browne
20. Born in the U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen
For what it's worth, I could've put half a dozen Eagles and Skynnyrd songs on there. Still, killer CD. Way better than Jim's.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Real American Heroes

It says a lot that the armed forces in this country produce soldiers with the courage and desire to do this for a living. I'm constantly amazed by the bravery and resiliency shown by the men and women of our military.

Aside from the valor shown by these heroes, one thing that struck me about this article was the training they must have to go through to be able to be proficient in so many environments and situations. Just look at the list of equipment these guys brought to the Middle East:
PJs head into war zones with an array of equipment: rafts, snowmobiles, scuba gear, 4-wheelers, mountain-rappelling equipment, souped-up jet skis, medical equipment, off-road motorcycles, parachutes and oxygen masks for high-altitude jumps from aircraft. They also carry a variety of weapons, from combat machine guns to sniper rifles. This is what the PJs call "traveling light."

"I remember laughing because PJs, before we deployed, they said, 'Sir, we need to bring our water gear,' and I said, 'You've got to be kidding me. We're going to the desert.' And they said, 'You never know, we've got be ready.' I'll be damned if I didn't have to eat crow," helicopter pilot TC said.

After doing water rescues and helping recover downed aircraft, humvees and other U.S. military vehicles in lakes and canals in Iraq, TC changed his tune.

"I was like, 'OK, you guys won, if you want to bring snowmobiles to the desert, I'm gonna let you, because who knows, it might be snowing that day.'"

This is as close to G.I. Joe as I've ever seen. These guys are real American heroes.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Boo yah:
1. The Sunnyside of the Street - The Pogues
2. Across the Sea - Weezer
3. This Side - Nickel Creek
4. Tangled Up in Blue - Bob Dylan
5. More than a Feeling - Boston
6. London Calling - The Clash
7. Dead Flowers - The Rolling Stones
8. Digsy's Diner - Oasis
9. Bring It on Home to Me - Same Cooke
10. It Won't Be Tonight - Saw Doctors
11. Saint Simon - The Shins
12. 14 Years - Guns N' Roses
13. Fathoms Below - Little Mermaid
14. Plastic California - Stereophonics
15. Hard Candy - Counting Crows
16. Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon
17. Narcolepsy - Third Eye Blind
18. The Sickbed of Cuchulainn - The Pogues
19. Beyond the Sea - Bobby Darin
20. Walls - Tom Petty

I guess I should add that these are not my twenty favorite songs but the 20 songs i would pick at this moment to make a CD.


There are quite a few villians and monsters in this world. But few, if any, anger me more than Robert Mugabe. The day he dies, the world will be a better place.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Challenge for Big Jim

Big Jim and I both happen to be traveling this weekend, so I'm issuing a challenge: Create the ultimate road trip CD. If you could pick 20 songs, what would they be? Think on that while you travel through the barren wasteland that is upstate New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

As for me, I, an Irish-Catholic (!), will be spending St. Patrick's Day (!!) at a baby shower (!!!) in Michigan (!!!!) with my in-laws (!!!!!). Has anyone in the history of the world ever has as many simultaneous reasons to drink?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Peace to the Hizzay

Well the Apostolic Exhortation's out and I must say, I feel exhorted already, although I've only had time to skim it in the baldest fashion.

One paragraph in particular caught my eye.
Even so, during the Synod of Bishops there was discussion about the appropriateness of greater restraint in this gesture, which can be exaggerated and cause a certain distraction in the assembly just before the reception of Communion. It should be kept in mind that nothing is lost when the sign of peace is marked by a sobriety which preserves the proper spirit of the celebration, as, for example, when it is restricted to one's immediate neighbours (150).

Bracing stuff for one who's waged a lonely war against the excesses of the sign of peace as celebrated at Notre Dame. Hugging absolutely everyone you may have met in the chapel while discussing your weekend is perhaps less than respectful of the body and blood of Christ physically present on the altar.

Here's footnote 150:

150) Taking into account ancient and venerable customs and the wishes expressed by the Synod Fathers, I have asked the competent curial offices to study the possibility of moving the sign of peace to another place, such as before the presentation of the gifts at the altar. To do so would also serve as a significant reminder of the Lord's insistence that we be reconciled with others before offering our gifts to God (cf. Mt 5:23 ff.); cf. Propositio 23.

Way to go Benny. He may have to stick around for a few more years.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Just because. . .

My favorite Onion article of all time.

Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of shaving in this country. The Gillette Mach3 was the razor to own. Then the other guy came out with a three-blade razor. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Mach3Turbo. That's three blades and an aloe strip. For moisture. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened—the bastards went to four blades. Now we're standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three blades and a strip. Moisture or no, suddenly we're the chumps. Well, fuck it. We're going to five blades.

Sure, we could go to four blades next, like the competition. That seems like the logical thing to do. After all, three worked out pretty well, and four is the next number after three. So let's play it safe. Let's make a thicker aloe strip and call it the Mach3SuperTurbo. Why innovate when we can follow? Oh, I know why: Because we're a business, that's why!

You think it's crazy? It is crazy. But I don't give a shit. From now on, we're the ones who have the edge in the multi-blade game. Are they the best a man can get? Fuck, no. Gillette is the best a man can get.

What part of this don't you understand? If two blades is good, and three blades is better, obviously five blades would make us the best fucking razor that ever existed. Comprende? We didn't claw our way to the top of the razor game by clinging to the two-blade industry standard. We got here by taking chances. Well, five blades is the biggest chance of all.

Here's the report from Engineering. Someone put it in the bathroom: I want to wipe my ass with it. They don't tell me what to invent—I tell them. And I'm telling them to stick two more blades in there. I don't care how. Make the blades so thin they're invisible. Put some on the handle. I don't care if they have to cram the fifth blade in perpendicular to the other four, just do it!

You're taking the "safety" part of "safety razor" too literally, grandma. Cut the strings and soar. Let's hit it. Let's roll. This is our chance to make razor history. Let's dream big. All you have to do is say that five blades can happen, and it will happen. If you aren't on board, then fuck you. And if you're on the board, then fuck you and your father. Hey, if I'm the only one who'll take risks, I'm sure as hell happy to hog all the glory when the five-blade razor becomes the shaving tool for the U.S. of "this is how we shave now" A.

People said we couldn't go to three. It'll cost a fortune to manufacture, they said. Well, we did it. Now some egghead in a lab is screaming "Five's crazy?" Well, perhaps he'd be more comfortable in the labs at Norelco, working on fucking electrics. Rotary blades, my white ass!

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we should just ride in Bic's wake and make pens. Ha! Not on your fucking life! The day I shadow a penny-ante outfit like Bic is the day I leave the razor game for good, and that won't happen until the day I die!

The market? Listen, we make the market. All we have to do is put her out there with a little jingle. It's as easy as, "Hey, shaving with anything less than five blades is like scraping your beard off with a dull hatchet." Or "You'll be so smooth, I could snort lines off of your chin." Try "Your neck is going to be so friggin' soft, someone's gonna walk up and tie a goddamn Cub Scout kerchief under it."

I know what you're thinking now: What'll people say? Mew mew mew. Oh, no, what will people say?! Grow the fuck up. When you're on top, people talk. That's the price you pay for being on top. Which Gillette is, always has been, and forever shall be, Amen, five blades, sweet Jesus in heaven.

Stop. I just had a stroke of genius. Are you ready? Open your mouth, baby birds, cause Mama's about to drop you one sweet, fat nightcrawler. Here she comes: Put another aloe strip on that fucker, too. That's right. Five blades, two strips, and make the second one lather. You heard me—the second strip lathers. It's a whole new way to think about shaving. Don't question it. Don't say a word. Just key the music, and call the chorus girls, because we're on the edge—the razor's edge—and I feel like dancing.

What Is Your Battle Cry?

One of my favorite sites. You have to alter the input a couple times to get a satisfactory result, and, ahem, sometimes the answers are a little more than PG, but, what a glorious inspiration they provide. Here's what I came up with for your intrepid bloggers:

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Rampaging through the candy store, swinging a jeweled meat hammer, cometh Johnny Rico! And he gives a booming roar:

"For the love of carnage and discord, I lay waste to all I see like a sentient bulldozer!!!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

created by beatings : powered by monkeys


What Is Your Battle Cry?

Zang! Who is that, skulking out of the steppes! It is Big Jim Dwyer, hands clutching a studded crowbar! He grunts apocalyptically:

"I'm going to smash you until your mortal mind doth snap!!!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

created by beatings : powered by monkeys

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

What could I say?

Idol Chatter

Despite her formidable intelligence, my wife enjoys American Idol. I can't really explain why.

One unfortunate consequence of my wife's enjoyment has been me watching far, far too much of the show. However, an exciting byproduct of my viewing has emerged: I have finally figured out a suitable analogy to describe listening to Paula Abdul speak.

You know how when you go swimming and dunk your head underwater? No matter what happens, you're inevitably going to get some water stuck in your ears. Listening to Paula Abdul is like that, but instead of water, you're surrounded by stupid. No matter what you try to do, you're going to get some stupid stuck in your head.

Alas, hopping up and down with your head tilted can't get the stupid out.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Good Questions

When Hanson's on, he's on:
We need an Orwell to offer some psychological explanation for why an Al Gore, who gobbles up carbon-based power in his mansion and private jet, continues to harangue the less well off about their energy profligacy and threats to the planet, or why a John Edwards, who just finished a towered 28,000 sq. foot palace, claims Jesus would find us unforgiving to the poor, and serially speaks in terms of two nations, rich and poor.

Is this disconnect explained by an easy means of alleviating guilt over their own largess through cosmic preaching about the inequality and selfishness of others?

Or is it a genuine notion that as a crusading Senator and trial-lawyer they have battled enough for the less well off to justify some small compensation for their ongoing labors?

Or is it a clinical schizophrenia in which one side of the Mother Teresa brain has no connection with the Donald Trump other?

Or do they analytically conclude that they will be more effective advocates for the human race if they purchase requisite shelter, transportation, and amenities commensurate with their worth that can refresh body and soul for their own messianic ordeals ahead?

Or are they in denial, and feel their own respective modes of living and travel are not that much different from others-the enemy being instead wasteful and "selfish" billionaires, not sober multi-millionaires like themselves?

Still, at the very least when Edwards says the following: "I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs. "I think he would be appalled, actually," he could at least offer the homeless shelter for a few cold nights in his sports and entertainment annex or a cot in something in the palatial residence apparently called "John's Lounge."

The hypocrisy is stunning. John Edwards' newly completed house is the biggest in his county, I believe. In a sense the knock against Gore for his carbon emissions is unfair. There's really no other way promote his message than to use fossil fuels; however, that doesn't excuse his apparent 50 spaceheaters per room Tennessee mansion. He consumed about 20 times the amount of energy the average family uses, I believe. And carbon offsets are no excuse. According to his own rhetoric, he's still actively destroying the earth. A true believer would cut down as much as possible and donate extra money to carbon offsets. Hanson doesn't even touch on the fact that the company Gore buys the offsets from is his own.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Vladimir Putin

is a wonderful human being. I have nothing but the best to say about him. In fact criticism of him is the farthest thing from my mind.

On a completely unrelated not. If a foreign power were to assassinate an American citizen, especially an American citizen on American soil, for criticizing said government, I wouldn't take it at all lightly.

I just wanna make an omelette!

So they're spinning off a commercial into a TV series? That's either the stupidest or brilliantest idea I've ever heard. I think there's an extremely good chance that this show will be horrific, but if anyone can salvage an idea like this, it's got to be the geniuses that brought us Tiny House. Indisputably my favorite commercial of the last five years.

As for bringing A Song of Ice and Fire to TV, that's quite exciting. I'm currently halfway through the third book in the series, and I'd recently been thinking about how the books would translate to a live action format. Like Jim mentioned, there are a lot of potential pitfalls, but the idea certainly has merit. And he's also right that a movie version of the books would almost certainly be disastrous, just because there are so much meat in each book that would have to be cut out. Regarding the concern about whether there will be a sufficient budget to accurately capture the series' people, places, and creatures, HBO tends to go all out for this sort of thing. Fans are much better off having it there rather than on any other channel.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Future TV Extravaganza

In the space of an afternoon I discovered the existence of two interesting upcoming TV series. The first is based on perhaps my favorite series of commercials:

That's right the Geico Caveman is coming to a sitcom near you. According to Variety:
"Cavemen" will revolve around three pre-historic men who must battle prejudice as they attempt to live as normal thirtysomethings in modern Atlanta.

Project, from ABC TV Studio, is penned by Joe Lawson, an advertising copywriter who was behind the "Caveman" ads -- as well as other Geico commercials (think the cockney-speaking Geico gecko, and the reality TV spoof "Tiny House").

Daniel Rappaport, Guymon Cassady, Will Speck and Josh Gordon are exec producers. Speck and Gordon, commercial directors who recently helmed the Will Farrell feature "Blades of Glory," are on board to also direct.

Though the idea is clever, I'm going to go out on a limb and say the show is doomed to failure.

Of considerable more interest is this article from Variety.
HBO has acquired the rights to turn George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy series "A Song of Fire & Ice" into a dramatic series to be written and exec produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

"Fire" is the first TV project for Benioff ("Troy") and Weiss ("Halo") and will shoot in Europe or New Zealand. Benioff and Weiss will write every episode of each season together save one, which the author (a former TV writer) will script.

The series will begin with the 1996 first book, "A Game of Thrones," and the intention is for each novel (they average 1,000 pages each) to fuel a season's worth of episodes. Martin has nearly finished the fifth installment, but won't complete the seven-book cycle until 2011.

Martin spins a fine plot, as Rico has testified. His books are so complicated that I'm glad they'll be able to devote a full season to each one. Trying to cram A Game of Thrones into a two hour movie would have been a disaster. Still, there are a few problems. First, I don't know how much money HBO has to throw around. It'd be a shame if the battles and exotic locations have to be cut or pared down. That's half of the fun after all. Second, I'm not sure I want to see it. Sure, the vast majority of A Song of Ice and Fire has the potential to be amazing, but it's a lot easier to read some of the stuff Martin writes than it will be to see it. Specifically from Game, I'm thinking of Dany's "romance" with Kahl Drogo and Tyrion's flashback to his peasant wife. Yuck. Reservations aside, I'm really looking forward to seeing Martin's characters come to life. I hope Game gets the treatment it deserves. A faithful adaptation would be one hell of a ride.

Friday, March 2, 2007

I'm In

Krauthammer does it again. This time on space travel.
A more serious critique of returning to the moon comes not from the Luddites but the purists. They want science, and they are right that robotic exploration is a more cost-effective way to get it. The science yielded by unmanned vehicles, such as past and future probes of the ice surface of Europa and the hydrocarbon lakes of Titan, is indeed thrilling. And pound for pound, dollar for dollar, manned exploration does bring back less science than robots.

But it still brings back science. Humans can discover things through intuition and pattern recognition that machines thinking in algorithms cannot. Imagine the scientific possibilities if today we had humans patrolling Mars rather than the brilliantly programmed but still limited golf carts now roaming the surface.

And then there's the glory. If you find any value, any lift of the spirit in a beautiful mathematical proof, in an elegant balletic turn, in any of the myriad human endeavors that have no utility but only breathtaking beauty, then you should feel something when our little species succeeds in establishing new life in a void that for all eternity had been the province of the gods. If you don't feel that, you are -- don't take this personally -- deaf to the music of our time.

I really like that last paragraph. Part of being human is to explore. It would be a shame to concede the greatest adventure possible.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Around Here the Canon Is Law

I just want to plug one of my favorite internet creations of all time. John-Michael Kirkconnell, brother of the famed Cayman Joe, animated this absolutely hilarious cartoon. I can't embed it unfortunately, being flash and all, but Kirkconnell's genius can't go unnoticed. Warning, to really get the whole thing, you have to have attended Notre Dame in the recent past. Conservative Catholic humor. You really can't beat it.

Keep your laws off my body!

I know I shouldn't be surprised by this, but of course, I am. I was browsing The Daily Cardinal, a student-run newspaper at UW-Madison. I should make it clear that I was only looking at it because I was interviewed for a story and I wanted to see if my words were twisted (they weren't).

Anyway, I came across today's main news story: Rising "Price of Pill Hard to Swallow for Students." It's about a federal law which recently went into effect that prevents UW's University Health Services from charging discounted rates for birth control.

As a policy matter, I'm not quite sure how I feel. On one hand, I really don't want my tax dollars being spent to subsidize college students' ability to have multiple sex partners with no repercussions. On the other hand, I'm a big fan of federalism and this seems like a possibly unnecessary intrusion of the federal government. Ideally, I'd like the state to pass a law like this. The bottom line is that I really don't know enough about it to make an informed opinion.

The policy is beside the point. What I found somewhat surprising - and more disappointing - was the cavalier way the girls quoted in this story talked about birth control. One called the pill "Something you have to have" and the increase "another monthly bill I don't need." Another girl, a freshman, said "This is another way for the government to legislate my body."

Really? You NEED birth control? And I should pay for your significant discounts? If I don't give you heavily discounted birth control, I'm "legislating your body," whatever that means? Have you ever considered that these discounts are just "legislating my morality"?

Maybe, just maybe, you could reconsider your sexual habits. If sex has been so commoditized to the point that birth control is just another bill you have to pay each month-no different than rent or utilities-your priorities might be in need of reevaluation.