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

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 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."