Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How Did Rico Not Post This Weeks Ago?

My colleague may be bashful, but I share none of his modesty. Rico, under a pseudonym, is playing the titular character. I enter the trailer at 1:30.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The obligatory life update

First, of course, is the big news. For those of you who don't know, my lovely wife is pregnant. She is due in late July. She's feeling pretty good thus far, and she'll soon be out of the window where she had morning sickness the last time around. She's interested in the possibility of having a girl, so she won't listen when I tell her that I'm simply too manly to produce a girl.

Beyond that, everything else pales in comparison. As mentioned earlier, I just finished the busiest semester of my life. In addition to a full class load, I worked part time and interned for credit with a federal judge. Individually, they were all wonderful experiences, but collectively, it was quite a strain. I estimate that I wrote nearly 110 pages worth of papers and drafts of opinions. My wife is an angel for putting up with my grumpy self the past four months.

In "I'm not going to be poor forever" news, I will be working as an associate this summer at the largest law firm in Milwaukee. Among all the other benefits of working at a large firm (cough *paycheck* cough), they have a really diverse practice. I'm really looking forward to trying a few different areas of the law to see what I enjoy. I'm currently leaning toward litigation, but I want to try tax and a few other areas as well.

Jake is also growing and learning faster than I thought possible. He's quite literally learning something new every day, and it's constantly blowing my mind. I'm really looking forward to this time off because I don't spend as much time with him as I would like. If you thought I had a high opinion of myself, just wait til you hear me talk about him.

Wisconsin weather is truly awful. On Friday, we got 13 inches of snow. Today, the wind chill has been hovering between -20 and -30. It's really putting a cramp on my Christmas shopping.

I think that's about it. I hope to keep a semi-regular bogging schedule in the coming weeks. Over the next few days, I hope to discuss Notre Dame football and provide an open letter to the President-elect.

Friday, December 19, 2008

At 11:12 PM Central time on 12/18/2008, I turned in my final assignment for longest semester of my life

In other words, to paraphrase Jimmy Chitwood, "I don't know if it'll make a difference, but I figured it's time for me to start blogging.

"But, there's just one thing... I play, Big Jim stays. He goes, I go."

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Also via Amy:

Thirty-six Jesuit ordinations. Yowza. A different era. The country has changed in other ways too. Dulles' conversion from mainline Protestant to Catholic wouldn't cause much of stir now. How big a deal would even W converting be for the majority of the country?

A Christmas Message

From that Pope guy (via Amy Welborn):
That which John calls in Greek "ho logos," translated in Latin "Verbum" and in Italian, "il Verbo" (the Word), also means "the Meaning." Therefore, we can understand John's expression in this way: the "eternal Meaning" of the world has made himself tangible to our senses and our intelligence. Now we can touch him and contemplate him (cf. 1 John 1:1). The "Meaning" that has become flesh is not simply a general idea inscribed in the world; it is a "word" directed to us. The Logos knows us, calls us, guides us. It is not a universal law, in which we fulfill some role, but rather it is a Person who is interested in each individual person: It is the living Son of God, who has become man in Bethlehem.

To many people, and in some way to all of us, this seems too beautiful to be true. In effect, here it is reaffirmed for us: Yes, there is meaning, and this meaning is not an impotent protest against the absurd. The Meaning is powerful: It is God. A good God, who is not to be confused with some lofty and distant power, to which it is impossible to ever arrive, but rather a God who has made himself close to us and to our neighbor, who has time for each one of us and who has come to stay with us.

Thus the question spontaneously arises: How is such a thing possible? Is it worthy of God to become a child? To try to open one's heart to this truth that enlightens all of human existence, it is necessary to yield the mind and recognize the limits of our intelligence. In the cave at Bethlehem, God shows himself to us as a humble "infant" to overcome our pride. Perhaps we would have submitted more easily before power, before pride; but he does not want our submission. He appeals, rather, to our heart and to our free decision to accept his love. He has made himself little to free us from this human pretension of greatness that arises from pride; he has incarnated himself freely to make us truly free, free to love him.

Dear brothers and sisters, Christmas is a privileged opportunity to meditate on the meaning and value of our existence. Approaching this solemnity helps us to reflect, on one hand, about the drama of history in which men, wounded by sin, are permanently seeking happiness and a satisfactory meaning to life and death; on the other hand, it exhorts us to meditate on the merciful goodness of God, who has gone out to meet man to communicate to him directly the Truth that saves, and make him participate in his friendship and his life.

Let us prepare for Christmas, therefore, with humility and simplicity, readying ourselves to receive the gift of light, joy and peace that irradiates from this mystery. Let us welcome the nativity of Christ as an event capable of today renewing our existence. May the encounter with the Child Jesus make us people who do not think only of ourselves, but rather open to the expectations and necessities of our brothers. In this way we too become testimonies of the light that Christmas radiates over the humanity of the third millennium. Let us ask most holy Mary, the tabernacle of the incarnate Word, and St. Joseph, silent witness of the events of salvation, to communicate to us the sentiments they had while they awaited the birth of Jesus, so that we can prepare ourselves to celebrate in a holy way the coming Christmas, in the joy of faith and enlivened by the determination of a sincere conversion.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Getting on the Record

(Preliminary Note: I am writing this at 11:00 AM, while sequestered at the Federal Courthouse in Milwaukee. I have no Internet access and am unaware of any exit poll data. My only bit of empirical evidence is that I didn’t have to wait in line this morning to vote.)

(Preliminary Note for the optimistic Republican: Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.)

As longtime readers of WHTC may recall, I accurately predicted the results of all 50 states in the 2004 presidential election. See here for details. I haven’t had the time to track the polls as closely this year, but I didn’t want to pass up a chance to match the feat again.

Unfortunately for the future of the Republic, I see Obama winning fairly comfortably, 311-227. I think McCain has run a pretty good campaign overall, but the currents working against him will prove too tough to overcome.

McCain States

North Carolina
North Dakota
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

Obama States

District of Columbia
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
Rhode Island

The good news is that we should know a lot by early in the evening. If things look hopeful, I’ll stay tuned into the night. If they don’t, I’ll do homework while watching my wife play Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on our Wii. A good night either way. Here is a mini-schedule of the important early closings with some things to watch for:

7:00 ET: Georgia, Indiana, and Virginia. If the networks don’t call Georgia and Indiana for McCain early, or if they immediately call Virginia for Obama, things will look pretty grim.

7:30 ET: North Carolina and Ohio. Cliches endure for a reason: As Ohio goes, so goes the presidential race. Though unlikely, an immediate call in North Carolina for McCain would be a strong indicator of a good night for him.

8:00 ET: Florida, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. Florida and Missouri have been two of the closest states coming down the stretch; both are must-wins for McCain. The GOP, meanwhile, has campaigned harder in Pennsylvania in the last month than in any other state, so an early call for Obama would be disastrous.

(Closing Note: A semi-regular blogging schedule should resume in December. This semester has been brutal.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Because I Can't Find It Anywhere Else on the Web . . .

Secondary Epic

W. H. Auden

No, Virgil, no:
Not even the first of the Romans can learn
His Roman history in the future tense,
Not even to serve your political turn;
Hindsight as foresight makes no sense.

How was your shield-making god to explain
Why his masterpiece, his grand panorama
Of scenes from the coming historical drama
Of an unborn nation, war after war,
All the birthdays needed to pre-ordain
The Octavius the world was waiting for,
Should so abruptly, mysteriously stop,
What cause should he show why he didn't foresee
The future beyond 31 B.C.,
Why a curtain of darkness should finally drop
On Carians, Morini, Gelonians with quivers,
Converging Romeward in abject file,
Euphrates, Araxes and similar rivers
Learning to flow in a latinate style,
And Caesar be left where prophecy ends,
Inspecting troops and gifts for ever?
Wouldn't Aeneas have asked:--"What next?
After this triumph what portends?"

As rhetoric your device was too clever:
It lets us imagine a continuation
To your Eighth Book, an interpolation,
Scrawled at the side of a tattered text
In a decadent script, the composition
Of a down-at-heels refugee rhetorician
With an empty belly, seeking employment,
Cooked up in haste for the drunken enjoyment
Of some blond princeling whom loot had inclined
To believe that Providence had assigned
To blonds the task of improving mankind.

. . . Now Mainz appears and starry New Year's Eve
As two-horned Rhine throws off the Latin yoke
To bear the Vandal on his frozen back;
Lo! Danube, now congenial to the Goth,
News not unwelcome to Teutonic shades
And all lamenting beyond Acheron
Demolished Carthage or a plundered Greece:
And now Juturna leaves the river-bed
Of her embittered grievance--loud her song,
Immoderate her joy--for word has come
Of treachery at the Salarian Gate.
Alaric has avenged Turnus. . . .

No, Virgil, no:
Behind your verse so masterfully made
We hear the weeping of a Muse betrayed.
Your Anchises isn't convincing at all:
It's asking too much of us to be told
A shade so long-sighted, a father who knows
That Romulus will build a wall,
Augustus found an Age of Gold,
And is trying to teach a dutiful son
The love of what will be in the long run,
Would mention them both but not disclose
(Surely, no prophet could afford to miss,
No man of destiny fail to enjoy
So clear a proof of Providence as this.)
The names predestined for the Catholic boy
Whom Arian Odovacer will depose.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Who Has Two Thumbs . . .

And had to walk twice through an anti-Columbus Day rally wearing in Indians t-shirt sporting Chief Wahoo?

This guy.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

No time to blog

But I simply had to note that I'm ready to run through a brick wall after listening to the end of Senator McCain's speech. The words don't do it justice:
If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you’re disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Enlist in our Armed Forces. Become a teacher. Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed. Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier. Because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself.

I’m going to fight for my cause every day as your President. I’m going to fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank Him: that I’m an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth, and with hard work, strong faith and a little courage, great things are always within our reach. Fight with me. Fight with me.

Fight for what’s right for our country.

Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.

Fight for our children’s future.

Fight for justice and opportunity for all.

Stand up to defend our country from its enemies.

Stand up for each other; for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America.

Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. Nothing is inevitable here. We’re Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.

Thank you, and God Bless you.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

It Begins

Well, yesterday went about as well as could possibly be hoped.

Washington looks to be horrible, maybe beyond horrible (Go, Ty!), and Michigan's defense is nearly as putrid as ours was last year. I can't decide which loss makes me happier. On top of that Pitt looked awful in their loss to Bowling Green, while BC only scored 21 points against Kent State. Navy beat up Towson State, which, apparently, exists. I didn't know that. San Diego State lost to 1 AA Cal Poly (A gimme game just got gimmier.), while North Carolina nearly lost to a 1 AA opponent of their own. Syracuse got flattened by Northwestern. Ouch. I didn't see Michigan State play, but they seemed to give Cal a pretty good game. How good is Cal though? USC, of course, was transcendent. I should probably add that Stanford looked pretty good Friday night against Oregon State, who seem to have a horrible defense. There that's everyone, since Purdue was idle also.

Ordinarily I'd be rooting for all opponents (except Michigan) so that we would have as strong a schedule as possible. This year is different. Charlie Weis has recruited one good class followed by two exceptional ones. A winning record nearly guarantees a third exceptional class and near parity with USC, hence the joy at yesterday's events.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Someone Is Going to Pizza Hut . . .

The image in the foreground is, as far as I can tell, macaroni and cheese with bacon. I rest my case.

The Game Is Afoot

Friday, August 22, 2008


In that not informative kind of way. Was there any point to that video? Any pertinent information as to how Notre Dame would fare this year? Sheesh.

Also, Mike Ragone is out for the year with a partially torn ACL. Good thing freshman Kyle Rudolph has been practicing so well. Still, not a good thing for a freshman to be the second string tight end by default, for a coach who likes to use two tight ends so much. Yeatman looks to be solid though not spectacular, so the only tight end who's going to make significant plays this year is probably going to be Rudolph.

It's a Trap!

So from what I can tell from his article, Linker thinks it desperately unfair for those diabolical conservatives to pass laws highlighting the contradictions of supporting abortion. If only they wouldn't be so uppity.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What About Football?

Notre Dame started practice on Friday, much to my (and I assume Rico's) delight, since that means we're only four weeks away from the first game.

Since practice now enters its third day (still without pads, I might add), the only real news is the depth chart. No real surprises, save the formal acknowledgment that Harrison Smith is our new strong side linebacker. Since he only weighs 212 lbs. (when 250 are needed for a 3-4 outside linebacker), this may pose a problem. However, knowledgeable posters on Irish Eyes have said that our 3-4 defense has been tweaked so that one outside LB (Kerry Neal or John Ryan) will play with his hand down. How this modified 3-4 differs from a 4-3 is not clear.

Another bit of news is that Steve Filer is practicing as the third string strong side LB. Since he's already 235 lbs., the hope is that he'll be advanced enough to take over the starting position next year, which would bump Harrison back to safety and bring us back to a tradition 3-4.

Right now the 2009 linebacking corps looks like:

Will: Kerry Neal, John Ryan, Kallen Wade, Darius Fleming (I wouldn't be surprised if Fleming shoots up to second string and Ryan moves to defensive end)
Mike: Brian Smith, Toryan Smith, Anthony MacDonald
Jack: Anthony MacDonald or Dave Posluzney
Sam: Steve Filer, ?

Dan Fox is the only outside LB committed to Notre Dame right now for the incoming class of 2009. Carlo Calabrese, also committed, will be an inside LB. This is more evidence that the Notre Dame defense is two years away. A team shouldn't have to rely on sophomores to start. We just don't have the numbers right now.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Ah, the Olympics. A time when Americans of all creeds and colors can unite behind the principle that a lot of foreigners are weird looking and talk really funny. But perhaps more importantly, it's a time when Americans care about the results of sports like swimming, gymnastics, and the shotput. For two weeks, we're all fans of Kerri Strug, Rulon Gardner, and Michael Phelps.

I freely admit that I'll watch almost any sport when Team USA is involved. The sheer joy I get from watching an American dunk a 5'4" South Korean's head in the pool during a water polo match is nearly incomprehensible.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I don't know how to put this,

but I'm kind of a big deal. People know me. I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.

Once again, my insght and striking observatory powers get me a spot in ESPN's live blog of a major golf championship.
9:56 a.m.: Great e-mail from Ryan in Milwaukee:

Doesn't Kenny Perry's scratched cornea improve his chances of winning? After all, this is the year of the injured victor.

Excellent point. OK, I'm sticking with him to make it 4-for-4 for recently/currently injured/ill players this year.
Based on my success, you might think it's easy to get yourself mentioned in one of these blogs. You'd be wrong.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Matthew 7:7

(Minor spoilers ahead, if you're one of the few people who haven't seen The Dark Knight yet. Seriously, $400 million in 18 days?)

I've got nothing better to do than respond to anonymous critics. In short, The Dark Knight was quite good.

The script was generally well written. My view is fairly unique, but my favorite element was the Harvey Dent-Batman subplot. The way they established the two "heroes" as foils was really well done. Plus, it set up a very good ending.

As many people have said, the movie was quite dark; it really forces the audience to confront some awful situations and doesn't find easy ways out. It's refreshing, because it really stands the recent superhero movies, even the good ones, on their head. As much as I've enjoyed the Spiderman, X-Men, and Iron Man movies, this brought a whole other element that those didn't have.

The acting was almost uniformly superb. Just as in Batman Begins, when your minor characters are portrayed by Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Gary Oldman, you're in good hands. Maggie Gyllenhaal was an improvement over Katie Holmes, though I didn't detest Holmes as much as Big Jim did. Aaron Eckhart's performance as Harvey Dent was passable if a little cliched, though that was more a function of the character than the acting. And Christian Bale plays a rich, charming, possibly crazy badass as well as anyone (see also American Psycho). I think that about covers it.

That about covers it, right?

What's that you say?

Ah yes, the gay cowboy! Heath Ledger was very good portraying the Joker, but I don't think he was quite as unbelievable as many have claimed. What people generally have not acknowledged is this: the character was extremely well written. The Joker, especially as envisioned by the writers, is a compelling, intriguing, disarming figure. His completely amoral, psychotic provided a rich landscape for Ledger to use. Granted, ledger used it well, but I'm pretty sure that other actors could have done nearly as well with it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Si! Si! Si! Si!

CC Sabathia has now had four starts. His numbers: 33IP, 5 ER, 31 K, 3 CG, 1.36 ERA.

Of course, the most important number of all: 4-0.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

August 5, 2008

I just found out about this last week. I can't believe I missed this for so long. I'm not sure yet how this blog is going to celebrate this monumental event, but rest assured that it will not go unnoticed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Moving on up in the blogging world

At the risk of shedding part of my anonymity once again, I'd like to note that a question of mine made it into ESPN's Live Blog of the British Open:
4:56 p.m.: E-mail from Ryan in Milwaukee:

There's a good chance none of the "Big Four" will play on Saturday and Sunday. When was the last major with no Tiger, Phil, Ernie, or Vijay on the weekend?

Believe it or not, that's actually a pretty easy one to look up. It was the 1992 U.S. Open, when Tom Kite won at Pebble Beach. (Mickelson missed the cut; Woods, Singh and Els failed to qualify.) That's 64 straight majors in which at least one of those four made the cut.
I'm going to have to avert my eyes when I see the "What have you done to increase the share price today?" sign this afternoon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Am I part of the conservative press?

Senator Obama on the perceived shabby treatment of his wife:

"It's infuriating, but it's not surprising, because let's face it: What happened was that the conservative press—Fox News and the National Review and columnists of every ilk—went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way...and treated her as the candidate in a way that you just rarely see the Democrats try to do against Republicans. And I've said this before: I would never have my campaign engage in a concerted effort to make Cindy McCain an issue, and I would not expect the Democratic National Committee or people who were allied with me to do it. Because essentially, spouses are civilians. They didn't sign up for this. They're supporting their spouse. So it took a toll. If you start being subjected to rants by Sean Hannity and the like, day in day out, that'll drive up your negatives.

"Everybody who knows Michelle knows how extraordinary she is. She's ironically the most quintessentially American woman I know. She grew up in a "Leave it to Beaver" family. She is the best mother I know. And our kids are a testimony to that, because she's really had to raise them, oftentimes without me being there. She's the most honest person I know, she's smart, she's funny, so yeah, it infuriates me. And I think that it is an example of the erosion of civility in our political culture that she's been subjected to these attacks, and my attitude is that the people who have attacked her in the ways that they have...if they've got a difference with me on policy, they should debate me. Not her."

Other people have already tackled this, but I'd like to address one specific point. The "most quintessentially American woman (you) know" probably shouldn't have been ashamed of America for her entire adult life prior to her husband's presidential campaign. I'm no expert on the Beav (ha!), but I'm pretty sure June Cleaver had some pride in her country.

Secondly, if Michelle Obama gives high-profile speeches where she discusses her policy views, we absolutely unequivocally should debate her. She's pushing her own views as a reason to elect her husband. We who oppose those views have a responsibility to take her to task.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Defensive Numbers

Contrary to most Notre Dame fans' expectations, the Irish are going to be hurting more at linebacker than defensive line these next few years.

Because Notre Dame is going to be running a 3-4, numbers are far less of a problem at d-line. This will be the last year that Notre Dame will need to rely on a freshman to help out there. Starting in 2009, we ought to have more than enough players to pitch in and provide a solid, if not good, defensive line.

NT: Ian Williams (true junior), Brandon Newman (true sophomore), Hafis Williams (redshirt freshman), also Paddy Mullen (redshirt junior) + Tyler Stockton

DE: Morrice Richardson (true senior), John Ryan (true senior), Emeka Newankwo (redshirt sophomore), Ethan Johnson (true sophomore), Sean Cwynar (true sophomore), and Kapron Lewis-Moore (redshirted) + any new recruits (Anthonly Lalota, Pat Muldoon and Davon Custis are the most likely)

In 2009 we'll have a line young but having the appropriate weight and body types, so that we should be solid against the run. In 2010, it will be very hard for Notre Dame not to have a good-to-very good defensive line.

Linebacker is more troubling. 2009 numbers:

ILB: Toryan Smith (true senior), Steve Filer (true sophomore), Anthony MacDonald (true sophomore), and David Posluzney (redshirt freshman) + Carlo Calabrese and any other recruits

OLB: Kallen Wade (redshirt junior), Brian Smith (true junior), Kerry Neal (true junior), Darius Fleming (true sophomore) + Dan Fox and someone else

While the numbers are ok (I've read that you want a 3 deep +1 at each position), the ages are not. Notre dame will be required to start a sophomore at ILB, never a good position to be in and, unless Kallen Wade comes on, we'll need a freshman on the 2 deep at OLB.

What we can take away from this post, then, is that 2010 will be the first year that Notre Dame will be able to field a defense composed entirely of upperclassmen. That's scary.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Jim Geraghty is a National Treasure

The man is tireless in his efforts to draw attention to Obama's various gaffes, contradictions, inconsistencies, and outright lies. He also relentlessly goes after an even more deserving target: Michelle Obama.

See his latest here:
Michelle Obama: Americans Spending $600 Stimulus Checks on Earrings

Amanda Carpenter notes:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle, complained the government’s $600 economic stimulus check was only enough to buy “a pair of earrings” while stumping for her husband.

You're getting $600 - what can you do with that?” Mrs. Obama said in Pontiac, Michigan last week. “Not to be ungrateful or anything, but maybe it pays down a bill, but it doesn't pay down every bill every month. The short-term quick fix kinda stuff sounds good, and it may even feel good that first month when you get that check, and then you go out and you buy a pair of earrings."

She made these remarks at a “working women’s roundtable discussion.”

Well, it's not like Michelle Obama makes comments like this all the time.

not everyone can afford to keep it all together, especially here in Muskingum County, where, according to the census, the median household income in 2004 was $37,192, below both the Ohio and national average. Out of that, there’s the mortgage. And child care. Health care. Education. Lessons. “I know we’re spending — I added it up for the first time — we spend between the two kids, on extracurriculars outside the classroom, we’re spending about $10,000 a year on piano and dance and sports supplements and so on and so forth,” Mrs. Obama tells the women. “And summer programs. That’s the other huge cost. Barack is saying, ‘Whyyyyyy are we spending that?’ And I’m saying, ‘Do you know what summer camp costs?’

One wonders whether that $600 budgeted for earrings could be spent on, say, fruit:

"Now we’re keeping, like, a bowl of fresh fruit in the house. But you have to go to the fruit stand a couple of times a week to keep that fruit fresh enough that a six-year-old—she’s not gonna eat the pruney grape, you know. At that point it’s, like, ‘Eww!’ She’s not gonna eat the brown banana or the shrivelledy-up things. It’s got to be fresh for them to want it. Who’s got time to go to the fruit stand? Who can afford it, first of all?

Eh, nevermind the fruit. It's probably not worth it, what with all the nefarious labeling of products:

"And the notion of trying to think about a lunch every day! . . . So you grab the Lunchables, right? And the fruit-juice-box thing, and we think—we think—that’s juice. And you start reading the labels and you realize there’s high-fructose corn syrup in everything we’re eating. Every jelly, every juice. Everything that’s in a bottle or a package is like poison in a way that most people don’t even know. . "

What with the $600 earrings, the $10,000 summer camps, unaffordable fruit and hidden poisons on the store shelves, daily life in America seems particularly tough on women:

"I wake up every morning wondering how on earth I am going to pull off that next minor miracle to get through the day. I know that everybody in this room is going through this. That is the dilemma women face today. Every woman that I know, regardless of race, education, income, background, political affiliation, is struggling to keep her head above water." (This presumably includes her friend Oprah.)

(COUGHoprahCOUGH) So who's to blame?

"What I notice about men, all men, is that their order is me, my family, God is in there somewhere, but me is first."

Dear Obama campaign, please make sure this is the theme of her prime-time address at the convention.

If it's possible, I may dislike her more than I dislike Theresa Heinz Kerry.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Got some time to kill? These tests will keep you busy for a half hour!

Presidents: I got 42/43.

Simpsons Characters: I got 60/63.

BCS Conference Colleges: I got 72/73.

In the comments, I'll tell you which ones I missed for each test. No cheating!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fact of the Day

According to a recent poll, Congress' approval rating is...

wait for it...

seriously, this is going to be worth it...

prepare yourself...


How is that even possible? I assumed that you could get at least 10% of Americans to approve of just about anything. In fact, I'm pretty sure that that's the theory behind this.

Si! Si!

Rico and the Milwaukee Brewers would like to thank Big Jim and the Cleveland Indians for trading reigning American League Cy Young winner CC Sabathia to Milwaukee, where he is destined to lead the Brewers to their first World Series. In his first start last night, he earned the win after allowing two earned runs in six solid, if unspectacular, innings. Projecting the rest of the season based on last night’s performance, he shall finish 15-0 in his 15 regular season starts.

Also, he’s as cute and as cuddly as a teddy bear. A 6’7”, 290-pound teddy bear with a 96-MPH fastball.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Rock rocks

Speaking of music, I'm certainly no expert on modern rock, mostly ignoring the radio stations on which it plays. Having said that, it seems like there's a pretty good collection of rock music coming out these days. Whenever I happen to flip to a Daughtry, Nickelback, or Three Doors Down song, I find myself enjoying it. I think American Idol winner David Cook also has a good chance of putting out some good straightforward rock music if he goes in that direction.

At any rate, radio rock today is certainly better than it was 5-10 years ago, when it was dominated by some truly awful bands. (I'm looking at you, Limp Bizkit and Creed.)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

It's even funnier when you see a guy say it while playing a guitar and occasionally blowing on a harmonica

"I'm in a weird situation 'cause I like rainbows, but I'm not gay.

So I wear a rainbow on my shirt, but then under it I gotta put 'Not Gay.'

But I'm not against gay people, so then under that I gotta put 'But Supportive.'

I just think it's weird that one group took refracted light.

That's pretty greedy, gays."

--Demetri Martin

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Thought on Country Music

I find it interesting that rock and pop artists have been popping up more and more in country music in recent months and years. Just to name a few, The Eagles, Jewel, Sheryl Crow, and Darius Rucker (Hootie!) have all recently had songs on country radio. I suppose there are two possible explanations for this (not to say that they are mutually exclusive):

1. When rock/pop stars are washed up and can no longer succeed in their original genres, they move to country music because its really easy to be a country star. After all, all country fans are dumb yokels.

2. Pop and rock are so image-centric that when you reach a certain age, you can no longer be a mainstream star in these genres, regardless of the quality of your music. Country fans, on the other hand, care only about the quality of the music produced, regardless of the age or sex of the person producing it. (See 55-year-old George Strait touring last summer with 17-year-old Taylor Swift.)

I've thought about this for a while, but I've never had a way to test these competing theories. Now, a possible litmus test has emerged: I just heard that Jessica Simpson will be performing at a big country music festival in rural Wisconsin later this summer. If she does attempt to move into country music and if she succeeds, clearly theory #1 is true. If she fails, however, there's hope for theory #2 yet.

(Also, for what it's worth, I'm a fan of Hootie's new country song, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It.")

(Also, despite the anti-Hootie backlash that emerged in the late-1990's, Cracked Rear View was a phenomenal album. I just heard "Let Her Cry" on the radio this morning, truly a timeless song.)

What a Great Great Story

For those of you who haven't seen the story on the rescue of the Colombian hostages, go here. This is absolutely one of the best stories I've read in a really long time. 15 people held captive (including three Americans) are set free AND terrorists are embarrassed, to top it off.

To summarize, Colombian troops infiltrated FARC, the left-wing guerilla/drug trafficking movement. Over the course of a year, the gained the trust of the group's leaders and rose to positions of power. Then, earlier this week, the moles ordered the movement of 15 hostages to a central location and made them board a helicopter (ostensibly controlled by FARC) right in front of the terrorists' noses. When the hostages got on board, the moles convinced the remaining real FARC members to abandon their weapons and brought the hostages to freedom.

It's always a good day when terrorist groups get hoodwinked and bamboozled.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

An Alternate Ending

For those who haven't seen Boromir's brilliant scheme:

And the even better:

So That's How He Did It

Movie Aragorn's absurd prowess becomes explicable:

Why'd they have to translate it into Elvish though?


Today I had my typical breakfast of two pieces of toast and a cup of tea. However, instead of the usual honey, I used cheese.* Also, instead of my usual non hamburger, I decided to go with a hamburger. That is all, carry on.

*On the bread, not the tea--I only put cheese in my tea for special occasions, such as Wednesdays.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Loose ends

1. My wife knew of my love for John Adams prior to our marriage, so she has no excuses now. (She didn't know of my secret affection for Johannes Gutenberg though.)

2. Yes, my family is probably going to be wealthy some day. If that day comes, however, I'd like to think that I'll retain enough self-awareness to refrain from flaunting it under the guise of complaining about the commute to my second home to a poor 25-year-old law student.

3. Diablo II had a powerful ability to bring roommates together. I hope III can do the same.

4. Nick the Stick was only absent from my sweet allegory because I couldn't think of a historical fuigure from that period who would try to walk from Farley to Knott and end up on the other side of a lake. John Burgoyne, maybe?

5. Jake took his first steps the other day. It's a dizzying, terrifying experience to watch.

My Closing Argument

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I am here to present you with facts. Not opinions, not speculations, just facts. Cold, hard facts. Inescapable, undeniable facts. And here are those facts.

1. Big Jim's unwillingness to enter the fray and eagerness to achieve victory through cowardly and ungentlemanly means led the Smash Bros. Coalition (i.e., the fray-entering warriors) to develop a system that included the number of knockouts as a factor in determining victory (the BCS).

Think about that for a moment. Nintendo was unable to develop a system that adequately compensated for Big Jim's craven play. This gutless, spineless style of play was so unforeseeable – indeed, so incomprehensible – that the greatest video game company in the history of mankind failed to account for it.

2. Once the Smash Bros. BCS (see point one) was adopted, Big Jim countered by constantly pressing for team battles. Some people, when confronted with the reality that their style of play was no longer viable, would change that style of play. Not Big Jim. Rather than adapt a manly fray-entering style, he instead resorted to seeking to fight in two-on-two scenarios. There, he could continue his fray avoision and do so under the guise of being a good teammate. Despite Jim's protestations below, no right-minded Smash Bros. warrior ever left the experience of teaming with Big Jim without severe scars. Years later, poor Pikachu still goes to physical therapy three times a week.

3. Big Jim fathered a child with Sally Hemings. There, I said it.

As you can see, when we look at the facts, it is irrefutable that Big Jim is a pusillanimous, bastard-producing loser. Having said all that, I'm willing to give Big Jim a chance at redemption. All he needs to do is buy a Wii, buy Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and become a master in the art of brawling. It's that simple.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Always into the East . . .

Ok, so the trailer's not all that good, and the website says something about fighting the failing powers of heaven. Why does Blizzard always ruin things that way? Warcraft and Starcraft had the same damn problem. Anyway. II was ridiculously addictive. With any luck, III will follow in its footsteps. Problem. Despite Rico's urging, the only time I'll be able to regularly play a video game will be during my year abroad. I'm thinking I'll have better things do in Rome. Maybe I should take a year off to "discern" or something?

Lies! All Lies!

Only I know how it truly went down.

While our esteemed Rico certainly presents a plausible version of events, the perfect linkages in his construct surely should make the discerning reader leery of accepting his version of events. The regrettable lack of Nick the Stick is merely the first in a series of gaping holes. I might also point out that the Wierema and Pontzer areas of Smash Bros. were largely separate save for the occasional reunion game. While the regular player of need hardly be reminded, our less practiced readers might not be aware that Samus' Up B is Falcon's best friend. Without the incapacitation provided by this nigh un-blockable move, the 10 second windup on our avian commander's punch renders it all but useless. Finally, I might add that Rico is not only wrong on the particulars but offers a strangely static vision of Smash Bros. history. As the records clearly show, while my play with Samus was unorthodox, it was undoubtedly the most effective style of play for that character. As I progressed to Falcon and Donkey Kong, rarely was I absent from the fray. The bizzare complaints of a certain roommate and Pontzer that my characters threw too much are otherwise inexplicable.

Oh, one more thing. Rico's analysis of the Ponz is spot on.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Today's Smash Bros. History Lesson

Reflecting on John Adams, I can't help but notice the parallels between the Continental Congress and my college experience playing Smash Bros. (Spare me the criticism. If something can't be reduced to a Smash Bros. analogy, it's not worth studying.)

We would routinely play two-on-two team battles. Whenever Big Jim and I would team up, I would inevitably be Captain Falcon, the bombastic and badass brawler. Jim, on the other hand, would choose Samus, the archetype of a jobber. Naturally, I would do the heavy lifting for the team, shouting "Show me your moves!" and "Falcon Punch!" all along the way. Jim, of course, would allow me to take a two-on-one beating just so he could stay in the corner and charge up his Big Shot. Despite my demands to "Get in the fray!" the most assistance I could hope for would be the occasional Up-B. Then, at the end of the fight, just as I was about to complete my heroic one-on-two victory, Big Jim would come in, fire one Big Shot, and steal my kills.

So it was in the Continental Congress. While John Adams was up fighting for independence on the floor of Congress every day, Jefferson sat on his hands like a scared little boy. Adams would take a beating from opponents of independence such as John Dickinson, and Jefferson would remain silent, providing virtually no assistance. Once Adams had heroically swung Congress to vote for independence, Jefferson hopped in, wrote the Declaration, and stole all the glory.

To fill out the analogy, Wierema has to be George Washington, always ready for a fight but smart enough to find one on good terms. And clearly Pontzer is the French: only fighting when it suits his own interests, prone to spectacularly violent disasters, and far, far too effeminate.

The Perils of Wealth

Yesterday, I was having lunch with an attorney from the company where I'm working this summer. She was telling me that she was about to go on vacation to her family's second home in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. She said it was nicer than her first home, which is no small feat considering the neighborhood in which she lives.

Then she had the gall to complain to me that she had to drive to the house while her husband got to fly the family plane. She finished the complaint by saying, "You know how it is."

As a matter of fact, I don't.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


One of the reasons I've been on hiatus for so long, much to the chagrin of my six fans, is that we recently got a Nintendo Wii. I can say it's unequivocally awesome.

The game that comes with the system is Wii Sports. It was prominently featured in the original Wii commercials ("We would like to play") for good reason. The games (baseball, bowling, boxing, golf, and tennis) are simple, intuitive, and fun, and they really set Wii apart from the other Next Generation gaming systems, which are so focused on raw power. All five sports are fun to play, and Wii Sports is perfect for just about everyone because the learning curve is virtually nonexistent.

Along with Wii Sports, we purchased Mario Kart Wii initially. It's very similar to all the recent Mario Kart games with the exception of the Wii wheel, which really adds another challenging element to the game. The other fun feature is the inclusion of tracks from previous Mario Kart games, going all the way back to the initial Super Mario Kart for SNES. It's a lot of fun to see how the game has evolved, although some of the tracks chosen for inclusion are puzzling. Also, Rainbow Road is as difficult as ever.

Lastly, my brother got me Super Smash Bros. Brawl for my birthday (over a month late, but that's another story). While I've just begun to tap into all the different features, I can tell you one thing: this ain't your daddy's Smash Bros. I didn't play Smash Bros. Melee too much, but Brawl seems to have adopted Melee's frantic pace. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but something I'm not used to after playing something approaching 1,000 hours of the original game during college.

The other thing that surprised me about Brawl was the sheer number of features. In addition to your traditional multiplayer free-for-alls and "survive and advance" modes, there is an actual story mode (The Subspace Emissary) and a slew of mini-games, challenges, and features.

The final sweet feature about Wii is the free online gaming and wireless access. Whereas playing against AI can get tiresome after a while, online play offers an almost limitless challenge. Now the task is to get all my college friends to join in. Especially those who receive stipends from their Ivy League schools' Classics Departments. Hint, hint.

John Adams

Mrs. Rico bought me John Adams, the HBO miniseries, for Father's Day. Thus far, we've watched the first two parts of the seven-part series, and I'm surprisingly conflicted.

On the one hand, it's truly brilliant television, a rare feat in the days of I Survived a Japanese Game Show and Celebrity Family Feud, (on ABC and NBC last night, by the way). Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney are simply phenomenal as John and Abigail Adams. They both perfectly capture the profound intellect, surprising warmth, and deep love of the Adamsseses. They also capture the couple's personality quirks without descending into the slightest bit of caricature. The series is very well produced, largely maintaining historical authenticity with small and acceptable embellishments for dramatic purposes. (My only complaint thus far is that Washington looks much too old. He was only 42 at the time of the First Continental Congress, and the actor portraying him is 55. Giamatti, by contrast, is 41, while Adams' was 38 in 1974.)

As you may already know, I'm a huge early American history buff, so it's really exciting to be able to watch my favorite historical moments captured so beautifully. Already we've seen Henry Knox, the 300-pound bookseller turned Continental Army engineer, transporting British cannon through hundreds of miles of wilderness aided only by field animals. All my favorite quotes and moments from the pre-war period have been used, and there are so many additional scenes I'm already anticipating. Plus, it's great to see how captivated my wife is by the series, even if she's getting a huge crush on Washington. (Can you blame her?)

And yet, on the other hand, I'm slightly jealous that Adams is being shared with the wider world. I've always felt a special connection with Adams, and I've always identified so closely with him, warts and all. I like to think I share his virtues (service, self-sacrifice, a passionate love of his wife, an eagerness to debate and fight for his beliefs) as well as his flaws (stubbornness, arrogance, pride, an occasional need to be coddled, a tendency toward feeling unappreciated). David McCullough notes in his stupendous biography of Adams that he is, in a sense, America's forgotten founding father, often confused with Sam Adams and generally unappreciated and underrated. While I'm happy he is getting the appreciation and publicity he richly deserves, I always kind of relished the idea that Adams was my founding father.

Blog Bonanza 2008!

Because (1) I have nothing to do at work, (2) I can't really ask anyone for things to do, and (3) I want to look a little busy, I've decided to type long blog posts into Microsoft Word, email them to myself, and post them when I get home.

Lucky you!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Banned in Canada?

Definitely won't hear that joke nowadays.

Wouldn't a Bazooka Be a Lot More Fun?

As it is, darts will have to do. Best individual reaction time (guessing is cheating) is 0.132 s. My highest rating is "Rocketing Rabbit." Rico, let's see if your superior Smash Bros. skills translate to other fields.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Authoritative List of the Greatest Movies Ever Made!

Well, friends, I've done it. I've compiled a list of the greatest movies ever made. I've seen movies spanning a period of 70 years, and I can now tell you with great confidence the ten best films in the history of the world.

Let me tell you: Putting together such a list isn't easy. Think of all the great movies there have been through the years, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, on and on and on. Distilling such an impressive group down to ten is quite a challenge. Having said that, I believe my list is perfect.

Without further adieu, the top ten movies of all time:

10. Who cares?
9. Irrelevant.
8. Some stupid thing.
7. !!!
6. I don't know, uh, Mortal Kombat 2: Annihilation?
5. Probably some Hitchcock movie.
4. Blah blah blah.
3. Nothing Michael Moore ever made.
2. First loser.
1. IronManIronManIronManIronManIronMan IronManIronManIronManIronManIronMan IronManIronManIronManIronManIronMan IronManIronManIronManIronManIronMan IronManIronManIronManIronManIronMan IronManIronManIronManIronManIronMan IronManIronManIronManIronManIronMan IronManIronManIronManIronManIronMan IronManIronManIronManIronManIronMan IronManIronManIronManIronManIronMan

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lollapalooza was already taken.

Apparently Big Jim is contemplating a Midwestern tour this summer. I don't have much to say about it, except that I have the perfect title: "Pi's, Psi's and Alibis: Big Jim's 2008 Greekfest."

I think it has a nice ring to it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dedicated to Barack and Michelle

Aerosmith's Eat the Rich:
Well I woke up this morning
On the wrong side of the bed
And how I got to thinkin'
About all the things you said
About ordinary people
And how they make you sick
And if callin' names kicks back on you
Then I hope this does the trick

'Cause I'm sick of your complainin'
About how many bills
And I'm sick of all your bitchin'
'Bout your poodles and your pills
And I just can't see no humor
About your way of life
And I think I can do more for you
With this here fork and knife
I promise more blogging once finals are over.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means . . .

From a truly, absolutely, utterly fabulous op-ed in the Washington post by Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity College:
Of course, church leaders, including institutional presidents, also expect Catholic colleges and universities to manifest clear respect for the church and its moral teachings across the spectrum of issues in human life and moral conduct. How we manage that expectation within our respective communities of diverse scholars and students exercising their free-speech rights is at the white-hot center of many controversies. Controversy itself is sometimes the most fruitful way to teach about our faith.

The critics would have us ban plays, speakers, student clubs, faculty members and alumni guests whose words or deeds run contrary to the most orthodox interpretation of Catholic teaching . . .
Truly, absolutely, utterly fabulous in its willful misinterpretation of Church teaching. Hi oh!

Low-hanging fruit first. That last sentence I quoted is a doozy. We'll ignore the the first part since it manifestly isn't true and dwell upon the predicate. Does Ms. McGuire have another way of interpreting the faith? By orthodox she obviously means "hard-line" or some such. Kind of clumsy to give the game up though, isn't it? I mean, doesn't everyone claim to be an orthodox Catholic? If you don't think your views are consistent with the "real" Catholicism, why on earth would you call yourself Catholic?

If we can now backtrack to the full initial paragraph. Have you ever heard a more weak-kneed support for the Catholic Church?* Can't a school like, oh, say, Cornell "show respect" for Catholic doctrine? So, the Church claims to offer the most the accurate means of learning the truth of existence and meaning of living a human life. Ms. McGuire will take that as one among many factors before embarking on a course of action. Lovely.

Notice the skill with which our fearless leader inserts "free speech rights" into the equation. A Catholic school is a private entity. There are no free speech rights. Nor should there be. The government of the United States is not in the business of regulating speech in private schools, or businesses for that matter (Same thing. Oh, snap!). However, some sort of professed allegiance to the first amendment, does provide excellent cover.**

*I don't think I want to know if the the answer is "yes."

**I'm guessing that Ms. McGuire would not tolerate (nor should she) a professor shilling of the KKK on one of her surely august quads.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Another Poem

Prince of Wales tea.
It's good for you and me.
Hidey, hidey, ho.
Heedy, heedy, hee.


It also makes damn good coin jar.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

All-American She-Witch

In a world where Britney and Jamie-Lynn Spears are singlehandedly corrupting our nation's youth, Carrie Underwood is truly a breath of fresh air. She's wholesome, talented, beautiful, and a college graduate to boot. She's the kind of celebrity I wouldn't mind my (completely hypothetical) daughter taking as a role model.

Having said all that, her most recent song annoys me. All-American Girl is a fairly typical fluffy country-pop girl-power song. The second verse, however, has our protagonist falling for the star of the football team. While girls probably think his devotion to her is romantic, any man can see that this girl is nothing but trouble.
'fore you knew it, he was dropping passes
Skipping practice just to spend more time with her

His coach said, hey son what's your problem?
Tell me, have you lost your mind?
Your daddy says you'll lose you free ride to college
Boy you better tell her goodbye
Naturally, he fails to heed the coach's warning. The two end up getting married and having a girl of their own.

On the surface, this appears to be a "Happily Ever After" story. But of course the truth is more insidious. What the hell is this girl's problem that she's letting her boyfriend risk jeopardizing his future so that they can go to the mall? Not to mention that he's letting down all his teammates. If she truly cared about him, she wouldn't act so selfishly.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wisconsin gripes

Ahh Springtime. As we all know, Spring brings us longer days, the sounds of birds chirping, and eight to fifteen inches of snow.

Wait a second! Eight to fifteen inches of snow? Unfortunately, yes. The National Weather Service has issued a 'Why Would You Live in Wisconsin, Dummy' Warning advising against travel of any sort.

I figured there would be more snow before the end of the season, but I foolishly believed that the worst of it would be over. Silly me.

Incidentally, this is the second time the snow has crushed my plans to attend religious services. (We got sixteen inches on Ash Wednesday a few weeks ago.)

In other news, Notre Dame won its first round NCAA basketball game, beating George Mason 68-50. Alas, I wasn't able to watch it because Wisconsin was playing at the same time. Tomorrow the Irish will play Washington State in a crucial 4-5 seed matchup. Again, alas, I won't be able to watch it because Marquette will be playing at the same time.

I hate you, Wisconsin.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Liveblogging Barack

Thanks to the miracle of Spring Break, I'll be brining you a liveblog of Obama's major speech today.

9:12: Senator Obama's major speech on race and politics is set to begin in a few minutes. Obama is giving the speech in large part to address the serious criticism that has arisen during the past week over the extremely offensive remarks of Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. These include "G-- d--- America," "the US of KKK A," and, referring to 9/11, "America's chickens are coming home to roost." Part of the reason that the controversy has become so important is that not only is Wright Obama's long time pastor, but he also married Obama, baptized his two children and received more than $20,000 in donations from the Obama family as recently as a few years ago.

Also, there are no less than 8 American flags behind the podium.

9:50: More than 35 minutes late, it appears the speech is almost ready to begin.

9:54: Obama begins by referencing both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It is a profoundly moving opening. Though this speech is being given in a small room, it immediately evokes much of the soaring oratory from his arena speeches.

9:56: He does a really good job at placing himself into a long train of racial uniters by discussing both America's history ("striving for a more perfect union") as well as his own ("not the most conventional of candidates").

10:00: Obama mentions Wright for the first time. "Unity" has replaced "Change" as the theme du jour of the Obama campaign. He's casting himself as the middle ground between racial dividers on both the right and the left (Rev. Wright).

10:01: Obama concedes that he disagrees with some of Wright's political views and acknowledges that they are profoundly distorted views of the country. He appears to be distancing himself more now than he has up to this point.

10:02: He pronounces "divisive" as dih-VIH-sive. Never heard that before.

10:03: He begins to defend his membership in the church, calling recent reports "caricatures." Even if that's true, I've never been to a church that could be caricatured in the way that Wright's church has been.

10:06: The church is a work in progress that makes up the joy and bitterness that is the black experience in America. Indeed, Wright contains the contradictions-the good and the bad- that make up the black community. I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community in America. People like Wright and my (possibly racist?) grandmother are an undeniable part of me.

10:09: We cannot ignore race at this time in our history. To do so would be as big a sin as Wright's speech to begin with. He gets his first applause when he comes full circle on the unity issue: If we ignore race, we cannot come together to solve the issues facing our country today.

10:10: Gets another education when addressing segregated schools: 50 years after Brown v. Board, we still haven't solved the problem of inferior schools.

10:12: Addressing the persistence of black poverty, he throws a bone to white middle America, acknowledging that old welfare policies may have exacerbated the problem.

10:15: The anger in the black community is real and powerful. We can't dismiss it. We must understand it. But we must understand the white experience as well. Most white people don't feel benefited by their race, don't believe they must bus their schools to the inner city, and don't understand why they must pay a price for affirmative action when they did nothing wrong. Both black anger and white resentment are counterproductive.

10:19: We must work together to overcome the racial divide. The black community must unite with the white community to work toward our shared goals. The black community must demand more from its fathers and must not succumb to despair and cynicism in the face of discrimination. This is good stuff that will really appeal to middle America.

10:21: He is really hitting a stride now, evoking ideals of overcoming our flawed past to come together to form a more perfect union.

10:23: Hits the bible, saying we must be our brother's keeper. Further, Wright is a distraction, and by focusing on him, we cannot accomplish the change for which the country longs.

10:25: The children of America are not "those kids," but "our kids." Whites and blacks and Hispanics don't have health care. People of every race have lost their jobs and homes. Corporations are shipping jobs of people of all colors.

10:29: He closes with a story of a nine-year-old white girl whose mom lost her job because her mom got sick and had to miss work. The girl convinced her mom that her favorite food was mustard and relish sandwiches in order to save money on food. The girl eventually worked for the Obama campaign. In doing so, she met an elderly black man who said he was he was supporting Obama because of that young white girl. I actually thought it was a goofy ending. He would have been much better off closing with the flourish of a few minutes earlier.

Summary: He only touched on Wright briefly, and didn't really address the specific criticisms that have been brought. But his genius is in his ability to move the debate. This speech was an eloquent argument for racial unity. If he can get that to be the lead story, it will be very effective in calming white fears. I'll be interested to see the news coverage tonight.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Great Moments in French History

1. While reading an article in our French for Reading course, a History PhD student mis-translated a sentence because he was unaware that Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena.

2. Our teacher, a sixth year French lit-crit student, learned during our class that the crown prince of France was known as the Dauphin.

Am I taking crazy pills, or is our educational system breaking down?

I like numbers

Here is a complete list of numbers that do not repeat letters when they are spelled out (i.e. 3 doesn't count because it has two E's): 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 40, 46, 60, 61, 64, 80, 84, 5000.

There's your random fact for the day.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Great Wits Are Sure to Madness Near Allied

If you're looking for the real thing. It's included in this set directed by Karajan. Probably my favorite CD I own.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Red Letter Day!

Someone just got The Landmark Herodotus and Lost Battles. On the same day. Not that I have time to read either, of course. The Herodotus is especially tempting. Maps galore! But alas, it's now time to study French.

Rocky 2008!

I recognize that the cross-section of people who love both Rocky IV and politics is probably quite small, but what the hell.

Come to think of it, a McCain v. Obama general election could set up just like the entire plot of Rocky IV (see my post immediately below).

Playing the role of Ivan Drago, the unstoppable Communist force dominating the boxing world is Barack Obama, the unstoppable near-Communist dominating the political world.

John McCain plays Rocky Balboa, a formerly great figure who's now thought to be over the hill by most observers.

Starring as Apollo Creed, Rocky's former nemesis turned respected peer, is Hillary Clinton.

In Act I, it is revealed that Dragobama is coming to America to fight an exhibition bout against Apollary. Though Rocky tries to talk her out of the fight, she's convinced that she can show this uppity youngster a thing or two. However, from the opening bell, it becomes quickly apparent that Apollary was woefully unprepared for the onslaught unleashed by Dragobama. Apollary's corner fails to throw in the towel, and Apollary is left beaten, bloodied, and on life support. Closing out Act I is Dragobama's fateful line, "If she dies, she dies."

Rocky is faced with an existential dilemma. Having just seen his peer killed in the ring by Dragobama, he concludes that his only choice is to face him for one final showdown: a debate at UC-Berkeley. His wife, however, has other ideas. When she tells him he can't win, he recognizes that maybe she's right, but he's going to fight anyway:
No, maybe I can't win. Maybe the only thing I can do is just take everything he's got. But to beat me, he's going to have to kill me. And to kill me, he's gonna have to have the heart to stand in front of me. And to do that, he's got to be willing to die himself. I don't know if he's ready to do that. I don't know.
With the world against him and no one-not even his wife-thinking he stands a chance, Rocky goes into the wilderness and trains.

At this point, we cut to a training montage: Rocky, telling people the truth, Dragobama speaking empty platitudes. Rocky, riding the straight talk express, Dragobama, using class warfare rhetoric. The scene ends with Rocky standing atop Mount Rushmore repeatedly screming "Dragobama!" at the top of his lungs.

We arrive at the big debate. Polls show Rocky with nearly no chance. At the beginning of the debate, as the foes shake hands, Dragobama greets Rocky with, "You will lose" and "I must break you." Dragobama unleashes his dazzling array of oratorical assaults on Rocky. Though Rocky takes a vicious beating, he continues to fight. Just when things look hopeless, Rocky lands a wholly unexpected counter punch that fells Dragobama. Seizing an opening, Rocky pounces on him, attacking him as weak on national security, pro-taxes, and too inexperienced to lead this great nation. Even the Berkeley crowd is inspired by Rocky's words and begin to chant his name. Dragobama is unable to recover, and Rocky scores a KO by winning the electoral college 269-267.

After the debate, Rocky turns to the liberal crowd, and delivers this rousing speech:
During this debate, I've seen a lot of changing, in the way you feel about me, and in the way I feel about you. In here, there were two guys killing each other, but I guess that's better than twenty million. I guess what I'm trying to say, is that if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!

Fade to black.

Everybody look at me!

I gave my son my sticker today. Never too early to teach him a lesson about voter fraud.

I did pencil in McCain today, and thanks to my vote, he carried Wisconsin. I didn't see his entire victory speech, but I really enjoyed this line, turning his sights on Obama:
I promise to fight every minute of every day of this campaign to ensure that voters aren't deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change.
Maybe I'm just fooling myself, but I'm beginning to believe that Obama is actually beatable. It's kind of like the scene in Rocky IV when Rocky finally gets Drago to bleed and Rocky's trainer Duke says, "You see? You see? He's not a machine, he's a man, he's a man."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Marshalling the evidence

Just so we're keeping track, Roger Clemens wants us to believe that:

1) Brian McNamee is lying about Clemens, despite the fact that his accounts of steroid provision have been largely confirmed by contemporary player Chuck Knoblauch and Clemens' good friend Andy Pettite.

2) Andy Pettite "misremembered" their conversation years ago, somehow confusing Clemens' discussion of a TV program that showed the benefits of HGH on old people with him saying that he had HGH shot in his ass.

3) Clemens' wife spontaneously mentioned to McNamee that she wanted to get HGH shot in her ass, without any prompting or even discussion of the subject with Clemens.

4) Clemens' career spontaneously regenerated, leading to multiple Cy Youngs, at a period when most pitchers begin to break down and struggle.

5) Clemens was entirely clean, in spite of mountains of evidence that hundreds of players were using HGH and/or steroids, and a "don't ask, don't tell" culture had developed in baseball.

Were I an unbiased observer, it would strain credulity beyond belief to think that Clemens is the one individual telling the whole unvarnished truth while everyone else is lying and misremembering. As a biased observer, I hope they throw the lying, bat-throwing, ass-injecting, steroid freak in prison.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Unifying Theory of British Culture

1. The British like tea.

2. The British have bad teeth.

3. Brushing your teeth makes your tea taste bad for hours afterwards.

Conclusion: The British have bad teeth so that their tea will taste better.


Monday, February 11, 2008

No Burnination, Unfortunately

From Norbert, who is kind of a dragon in his own right:

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Wrecruting Wrapup

Notre Dame wrapped up a remarkably successful recruiting class this Wednesday on National Signing Day. According to both Rivals and Scout, the class ranked second in the country. However, by the time August rolls around, it will likely be upgraded to #1. The current #1 belongs to Alabama, but Nick Saban signed 31 players to his class, of which only 25 are expected to qualify academically.

Notre Dame signed 165 (edit: 16!) of the top 250 players in the country, according to Rivals. Even more impressive is that the Irish signed 5 of the top 37: QB Dayne Crist (#25), WR Michael Floyd (#20), TE Kyle Rudolph (#27), OG Trevor Robinson (#37), and DE Ethan Johnson (#32). Here's the full rundown:

Hat's off to Charlie Weis and the Notre Dame coaching staff for doing such an incredible job keeping this class together in the face of a 3-9 season.

While we're on the subject of incredible coaching jobs, Notre Dame basketball is now ranked #21 in the country and is sitting at 8-2 in the Big East. For a team that was projected to come in ninth in the conference, they've really exceeded expectations.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Snow Day!

10-16 inches of snow? No problem!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

25 Years of Kicking Ass and Taking Names

Well, maybe not kicking ass, but you get the idea.

Today, your friend and mine, Big Jim, turns 25. And boy, do we have an all-star lineup to wish him a happy birthday.

First up, two-time NFL MVP and reigning (for one more day) Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning.

Thanks, Peyton. Next, a special message from our friends at Anheuser Busch:
Bud Light presents, "Real Men of Genius." (Real Men of Genius.)

Today we salute you, Jim, Mr. Really Special Birthday Celebrator. (Mr. Really Special Birthday Celebrator!)

Some say you're a year older, some say a year wiser, and some say, "Why is a 25-year-old still celebrating their birthday?" (Cause I can!)

They say with age comes wisdom. Unfortunately, it also comes with varicose veins and thinning hair. (I'm wearing black socks with sandals!)

Tonight, you and your friends will party in the roped off section of the hottest club in town. Except in your case, it's the line to get inside. (Let us in!)

So crack open an ice cold Bud Light, O Admiral of the Ageless. Because even though you're 25, you'll always be #1 with us. (Happy birthday to yoooou!)

Lastly, Carmen Electra called and said she didn't want to miss the chance to confess a secret to you (and promote her latest movie, of course).

Happy birthday, Big Jim!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Election Probabilities

Chances of Republican Victory:
McCain v. Clinton: 50%
Romney v. Clinton: 30%
McCain v. Obama: 20%
Romney v. Obama: 5%

I think the chances of any Republican beating Obama are quite slim. The only chances Romney has are if Obama makes some big gaffe or if the Democratic primary process drags on considerably and leaves Obama damaged goods. (Bill Clinton is certainly doing his part in this regard.) McCain has a better shot against Obama, but it would still be a very difficult fight.

Both Republicans have a better shot against Clinton, but only McCain gives the party an even shot of holding the White House. McCain has a chance to pull in a number of independents that Romney likely wouldn't. Regardless of who the GOP candidate is, if Clinton is the opponent, the election would largely be a referendum on her.

What say you, Big Jim?

The Right Talk Express

The Corner is one of my favorite websites. But the vitriol displayed by some contributors to McCain has made it almost unreadable. In the last 24 hours, he's been compared to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy, and Lord Voldemort.

I understand that Levin, Lopez, and some others don't care for McCain. But their insistence on looking at everything he does through a bad faith lens combined with their uncritical fawning over Romney are unbecoming and unhelpful. There are huge distinctions to be drawn between McCain and Clinton/Obama, and these "conservative leaders" are doing both the movement and the nation a disservice with their unwillingness to draw them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Classic Family Guy Humor

Peter: Brian, I feel awful. Stewie and I were getting along so good, but now he hates me. How do I get him to like me again?

Brian: Well, that depends. Do you really want my advice or are you just asking random questions again?

Peter: What's a hypotenuse?

Poetic Interlude

Silky smoothness
I'll never again neglect to
Your blades regularly

Monday, January 28, 2008

Not Just America's Team

Video brought to my attention by a certain Cuban:

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Election Hijinx, Shenanigans, and Tomfoolery

Start here. Lee Atwater was a Democratic bogeyman when Karl Rove was still wetting his political diapers. There's a reason people still talk about Willie Horton.


Conclusion of a decent Joe Klein column:
It may well be true that any Democrat is going to have to handle that sort of sewage in the general election, but I've now--belatedly!--figured out that the real audacity in Barack Obama's campaign--far more than his positions on the issues, which almost seem an afterthought--is his outrageous belief that the entire country, not just Democrats, wants to see a straight up election; that the entire country is tired of the pestilence of tactical tricks that the Clintons learned from their co-dynasts, the Bushes. (The latest example being their sudden, sociopathic emphasis on the importance of the Florida primary, a contest all three candidates had agreed to eschew at the behest of the Democatic National Committee.

It is a hell of a bet Obama has made. And nearly 40 years of political, uhm, experience tells me that it isn't a very wise one...but I must also say that it is truly sad to see Bill and Hillary Clinton on the wrong side of it.
What got me was the line about the Bushes. Just what did Bill learn from Papa Bush. I presume that Joe doesn't think that Karl Rove had already assumed the position of Prince of Darkness in 1992. Rico?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Being poor rules!

Actually, working for half a year while marrying a student and being a parent rules. Thanks to the federal government's largesse (specifically via the Earned Income and Additional Child credits), we are getting $2,968 in tax credits even though we didn't withhold a penny in 2007. If we add in the $79 from the state, we're getting over $3,000 for no reason. If we further add in the estimated $900 we're allegedly going to get to "stimulate the economy" this summer, that's nearly $4,000.

Maybe I should start voting Democrat...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A short list of awesome things

1. This story about robots evolving and learning how to lie. Awesome and troubling at the same time.

2. The video game Bully. It's a less homicidal version of Grand Theft Auto. It's the first video game I have bought in a while, and it's been a blast.

3. This dream I had last night (or was it two nights ago?) where I was running for president and got into a verbal fight with Mike Huckabee in a parking garage overlooking Notre Dame's spring football game. Awesome because it gives a deep insight into my psyche and the things that occupy my brain power.

4. Antonin Scalia. It's really fun to see ostensibly liberal law students persuaded by sheer force of his reasoning. It's equally fun to see other liberal students trash him because they think they are supposed to, without actually addressing his arguments.

5. Eli Manning and the New York Giants. Simply because I don't think I could have stomached two weeks of Packer hype and Favre news converage without harming myself or others.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Social Conservatives, Electability, and Mike Huckabee

Generally, voting based purely on "electability" is dumb. We saw that in 2004 when the democrats nominated John Kerry even though no one seemed to have any actual affinity for him. A collective groupthink set in where everyone seemed to convince everyone else that Kerry would be the most likely candidate to win in the general election. Maybe that was true and maybe it wasn't. But the fact remains that very few people were actually fired up or excited by Kerry. Had democrats nominated their true love, Howard Dean, who knows what would have happened?

Having said all that, electability needs to be a factor when deciding whom to support. I bring this up because social conservatives understandably love Mike Huckabee. It makes sense, given his outspoken views on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Social conservatives view Huckabee as one of them. While I still think it's unlikely that Huckabee will be nominated (because he hasn't shown a real ability to pull in voters outside his base), if he were the nominee, it would be disastrous for the GOP in general and social conservatives in particular.

Were Huckabee the nominee, he would alienate most moderates and all liberals with his uncompromising far right social views. Further, he would alienate a large segment of the conservative base with his populist, leftist, protectionist economic rhetoric. Alienating voters across the political spectrum is generally a bad policy for winning elections. He would have virtually no chance in the general election. Simply put, nominating Huckabee would give the Democratic party two years of complete control over the federal government.

In those two years, the democratic majority would roll back protections against the unborn, put gay marriage on the table, and most importantly, replace John Paul Stevens (and possibly Ruth Bader Ginsburg) with young liberal Justices. These moves would render the efforts of the last 20 years to develop a culture of life in America and overturn Roe entirely meaningless. If you're a social conservative, the worst thing you can do for your cause is nominate Mike Huckabee.