Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Just three weeks left

Palin Watch

I saw my first "Palin 2012" bumper sticker while driving back to Lawrence. I had to resist the urge to run them off the road.

What kind of people would put something like that on their minivan? Well, probably someone a lot like the person who said this to a friend of mine. He was telling his family about the grad program he was in and how he felt like it was something he could use to make a positive difference in the world. Kind of a nice sentiment until Grandma chimed in, "What's the point? The rapture will happen soon anyway." Uhh, yeah. Nice. I guess when you think like that electing someone like Palin really isn't that big of deal.

Speaking of Palin what's her name had the baby and named it Tripp. Isn't her brother named Trig or something? It seems very confusing to me.

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Comeuppance

Longtime readers of this blog will remember that I once tried to game the system at work by taking a sick day when I might not have needed it and got my ass fired because of it. Well, today I ran into one of my former coworkers who told me that the boss that fired me was caught stealing $16,000 from the disabled persons she was supposed to be taking care of. It was a little hard for me to hide my smile as she told me all of this because, hmm, kind of makes my transgression look a little less serious, no? But, really, what a horrible person.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh no, PANIC!

Sports Videos, News, Blogs

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stevie Hicks

Really sad story about a former ISU player, Stevie Hicks, from my time there who recently killed himself. I didn't know him but he had a reputation as a really great guy.

It seems like there's got to be a better way to handle mental health issues in this country. From reading the article it's pretty obvious that he had been having problems for a while but wasn't getting the help he needed.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ding dong ding dong!

Let the bells ring out across the land...the king is dead! Long live the king!


After a 20 year reign of terror "King Carl" Peterson is OUT as Chiefs GM/President/Lord of All. Finally. Chiefs fans everywhere have reason to hope. I'm sure manufacturers of cheesy sunglasses and full-length leather coats are pissed but the rest of us are happy.

I give the man credit for helping build Chiefs football and Arrowhead Stadium into what it was but the facts remain that he only had one team advance to the AFC Championship game and had ZERO playoff wins since 1993. No one should keep their job with that kind of record. It's a new era in Kansas City.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It never ends

Sometimes being an Iowa State fan is like being in a dark comedy where you have to laugh at it because otherwise it's just too damn depressing. This week featured the basketball team blowing a 13 point lead at home to Drake. This was Drake's third straight win against ISU and 2nd in a row in Hilton. Fortunately they managed to top Northern Iowa in overtime earlier in the year or else McDermott would have had a stunning 0-8 record against teams from the Missouri Valley, his old conference. Yay!

However, the real tragic comedy comes from the football coach where somehow Gene Chizik, riding a 10 game losing streak, turned a 5-19 career record into a new job coaching Auburn, one of the more storied programs around. Needless to say their fans aren't exactly thrilled.

Quick side note. I'm equally amused and horrified at this new trend of posting videos of yourself heckling sports figures. The Stephen A. Smith Heckling Society of Gentlemen was entertaining at times. The video of the absolutely psychotic Cowboys fan screaming at Ed Werder gained points because the guy is clearly out of his mind and the ESPN guy freaking out pushed it over the top. I love how the guy is so calm when he's explaining that he's standing on the street and extolling the virtues of the First Amendment and then moments later is screaming "HACK JOURNALIST!" OK, other than being horrified at their mental state or feeling empathy for the person who is getting screamed out the videos are hilarious. I guess it's just another way the web is empowering the everyday Americans who want to point out Stephen A's love of Cheese Doodles or rant about how unfair Ed Werder is being to the Cowboys.

Anyway, as far as the actual turn of events I have to admit I have mixed feelings. I'm definitely cynical enough not to be surprised or shocked when coaches completely contradict all of their comments about how much they love it here and can't wait to build a winner and blah blah blah. Yeah, that stuff would be nice but it just doesn't mean anything anymore. No doubt that there's probably a lot more money and prestige at Auburn and you can get better players to go there which is a nice way to overcome your coaching shortcomings...to a point. It's not like it's going to be any easier to coach against the best the SEC has to offer when you were getting stomped by the middle of the road Big 12 teams.

When he was first hired I was pretty stoked because he had a great resume and he was supposed to have all of this money to hire the best assistants. There was a feeling of hope surrounding the program that hadn't been there since the collapses with the Big 12 North titles on the line. So, then he takes all that money and brings his buddies that he used to coach with back in the day giving them way more money than their resumes would indicate they deserved. Two years and five wins later he demotes both of them just weeks before he splits town.

Despite all of the signs of poor coaching (horrible tackling, dumb personal foul penalties, brutal clock management, multiple delay of game calls, etc.) I stuck with him because I believed that he could eventually get it done. There was a lot of young talent on this team, a lot more than 2 wins worth, in my opinion. Because of my mixed feelings I can't say I'm crushed to see him go. Surprised, to say the least, but not crushed. Iowa State will move on like we always do when faced with absolutely absurd circumstances, hoping that someday it will finally pay off for us. I have to kind of laugh that the program is viewed in such a way that freaking Auburn is willing to overlook a 5-19 record because, well, he was at Iowa State. Ugh, true, but that record will go down as one of the worst for any coach at ISU and that's definitely saying something.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

The adults are back in charge

One of the really nice things about the Obama appointments so far is that, even if I may not completely agree with all of their positions, at least they're extremely qualified. None of the cronyism of the Bush years. What? Brownie needs a job? How 'bout FEMA? It's not like we'll ever need them!

The best example I can think of are the appointments for the energy posts, specifically Steven Chu as Secretary of Enery. Chu is a Nobel Prize winning physicist who is currently head of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Wow, a brilliant scientist in charge of a lab that spends billions to research (among other things) alternative energy technologies? While it's no guarantee that a good scientist will be a good administrator it sounds good to me and I'm excited to see what direction they take the department (here's a somewhat wonky description of a few ideas from Science or possibly even throwing some money to research on synthetic biology?).

Meanwhile, the controversial Bush appointees at NASA reportedly aren't dealing so well with the transition.
CAPE CANAVERAL – NASA administrator Mike Griffin is not cooperating with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, is obstructing its efforts to get information and has told its leader that she is “not qualified” to judge his rocket program, the Orlando Sentinel has learned.

In a heated 40-minute conversation last week with Lori Garver, a former NASA associate administrator who heads the space transition team, a red-faced Griffin demanded to speak directly to Obama, according to witnesses.
Griffin was brought in by Bush to accomplish the awe-inspiring task of sending humans to the moon...again. Yay. Then it's on to Mars which I admit would be pretty cool but with limited resources it makes more sense to me to focus on unmanned craft that can learn so much more about the universe. Either way NASA is at a crossroads and I'm not sure pissing off the new guy in charge is the best way to get your point across.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

NBC Gives Up on Life, Entertaining Me

Just when I thought I might finally be rid of Jay Leno forever he becomes an even more obtrusive force in my life. NBC is announcing that he will now have a nightly one-hour show at the 10 Eastern/9 Central timeslot. I guess when the 35th season of ER is your top rated show at that time for your network you might get a little desperate for anything even if that anything is bland, inoffensive comedy for middle-aged people. Uhh, no offense if you like bland, inoffensive comedy (hey, it's "Dorf on Golf"!) but it's always been a snoozer for me.

Way to go, NBC.

Blago!

Early this morning Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was led out of his house by authorities facing a litany of corruption charges detailed in a 76 page affidavit. Busted.

Of course, this type of thing is hardly new in Illinois politics. The state has a long and distinguished history of corruption that continues today. Should Blago be convicted he'll be the 3rd of the last 5 Illinois governors to spend time in the big house. Well done. What's pretty amazing to me is the number of pies he had his fingers in and the brazenness with which he talks about parlaying his responsibility for choosing Obama's replacement in the Senate into a financial windfall for himself. Here are a few of the highlights. A full summary can be found here.

There's a lot of talk about selling the Senate seat to the highest bidder. In fact, it sounds like he may have even gone after Obama's people to get it done. Uh, dumb move #1. You're going to try to extort the man that was just elected president? Proving he's no dummy, Obama's people evidently said no. In fact, there are rumors floating around that it was actually Rahm Emmanuel that tipped off the Feds.
ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he is "struggling" financially and does "not want to be Governor for the next two years." ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to "suck it up" for two years and do nothing and give this "motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him." ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put "[Senate Candidate 4]" in the Senate "before I just give fucking [Senate Candidate 1] a fucking Senate seat and I don't get anything."

Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the open seat but "they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them."
Nothing but a thank you? The bastards. Then he called it a “valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.” Umm, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what you're supposed to do. I mean, if you're not a total scumbag crook. Here are the three criteria on which he says he's going to base his decison: "our legal situation, our personal situation and my political situation." Wow, the people of Illinois should feel great about that. Hey, I know we only get two of them but go ahead and use one as your personal senator, Blago!

Then he decides that he's going to try to extort favors from the Chicago Tribune. Dumb move #2 because, I mean, it's not like they wouldn't love to break a "governor extorts newspaper" story, right? Dumb move #3 is to try to hold up a move that would benefit the Cubs, costing the Trib a shitload of money. Hey, Chicagoans are willing to overlook a lot of corruption (I mean, how many Daley's can there be?) but I'm not sure they're willing to let you fuck over the Cubs somehow. And isn't this kind of why newspapers shouldn't own all kinds of crap like stadiums or baseball teams? They surely bear some responsibility that their financial situation was being lorded over them to try to get editorial staff critical of politicians fired.

There's plenty more to pore over but I have to say that I'm equally in awe of the balls on this guy to try all of this, amazed by his stupidity to think it would work, and disgusted that this kind of shit probably happens quite a bit. Oh well, at least I get to enjoy watching this asshole scumbag go down.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

The Green Sahara

For some reason this series of shots from the always excellent Boston Globe "Big Picture" series really caught my eye.

Around 9,000 years ago what we call the Sahara desert was actually a pretty wet place covered in grass and trees. The area produced more than enough food for the humans that lived there as well. A rather large excavation project has been exploring the area and has so far found two football-field sized burial sites with a few hundred remains buried there.

To think that this area that won't even support the growth of any plants today was, at one time, close to paradise for these people. We live in an ever changing world that might not even be recognizable in a few thousand years. One moment you're hunting a bountiful prey and a few thousand years later they're digging you out of mounds of sand. Changing weather patterns could easily turn our fertile fields into a true Great American Desert.

The evidence strongly suggests that the Earth has never seen changes in temperature occur this quickly and that human behavior is the main cause for this change. The amount of damage we've done to the planet in the span of a couple centuries at most will have effects that last well beyond that. We're powerless to stop changes that affected this region but we can slow what we're doing now.

I think it's kind of humbling to consider our place in this world. From where I sit today there were no "European" settlements to speak of anywhere close 250 years ago. There were no Europeans at all just over 500 years ago. Depending on who you believe there were no humans on this entire continent around 20,000 years ago. 600,000 years ago it was under ice. 40 million years ago and again about 300 million years ago it was under water. Something like 4 billion years and we were nothing but molten rock. Humans haven't even reached flash in the pan status as far as the Earth is concerned. It will go on long after we're gone but it would be nice to stick around for a little while, wouldn't it?

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Finally

The Timberwolves are finally rid of McHale making personnel decisions. Wait...what? They just moved him to coach?

Good Lord. If there's an organization more dysfunctional than the Chiefs or a GM with more chances than Carl Peterson this has to be it.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Scary Terrorist William Ayers speaks

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Thoughts, links, whatnot

Matt Fuckin' Taibbi. This article on the '08 presidential election is well worth your time. It has it all.

Like many people I found the story about the Wal-Mart employee trampled to death by post-Thanksgiving crowds to be more than a little disturbing. Obviously everyone would agree that saving a few bucks on crappy merchandise isn't worth a human life but I hate the rampant consumerism that goes along with that whole day. Doesn't it seem like every year we get these stories about "how much are people going to buy?" with all kinds of footage of fat asses wandering around malls? Maybe it's just really easy for them to reuse the story since everyone's gone for the holiday. Anyway, I feel like our entire economy is now based on people buying more and more shit every year. What happens when all of that collapses? Will it ever?

I think that GoogleFlu is pretty damn cool. They've developed a method to use data from their search engines to detect and even predict flu outbreaks one to two weeks before the CDC can. This can help prevent the spread of the flu and potentially save lives with a faster response in the face of an epidemic. Here is the paper in Nature if you're so inclined.

Hey, there's only 48 days until Obama is inaugurated. Fuck, 48 days? Really? Spend your time getting to know him better by perusing Conservapedia (a response to Wikipedia's liberal bias...).
When he takes office, President Obama will be the first person having ties to a known former terrorist to gain control over America's nuclear weapons.
Huh. Did not know that.

It's kind of bizarre that people live in a place where this happens fairly often and just continue to go about their business. The last one is particularly amazing to me. Kinda gross, right?