Friday, October 29, 2010

Reality and Parody Racing to Meet One Another


Have you ever seen Idiocracy? It is a movie that you will see and likely think it is either "ok" or "not so good". Then you'll get back to living life and witnessing different things that happen in society, and you will say to yourself "my God, they're right!"

The latest example of that for me was this story about the Senate race in Connecticut. From TPM today:

Republican Linda McMahon might be seriously down in the polls for the Connecticut Senate race, but it looks like she'll have some unconventional help on Election Day, The Day reports. Folks from World Wrestling Entertainment, the company she ran along with her husband and business partner Vince McMahon, will be handing out WWE merchandise near select polling places...

...As The Day reports, Vince McMahon is now mounting this new maneuver, and boasting in a statement: "I can't think of a better way for WWE fans to celebrate their constitutional rights and freedom of expression while voting than to proudly wear the WWE merchandise that Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz attempted to prohibit from the polls."I want to still have hope in a climate like this, so I think back to what Luke Wilson's character says in addressing Congress:

... And there was a time in this country, a long time ago, when reading wasn't just for fags and neither was writing. People wrote books and movies, movies that had stories so you cared whose ass it was and why it was farting, and I believe that time can come again!
I hope he's right.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Christmas Gift Idea

To any of you planning on spending 7 figures on me this holiday season:

The pages used by James Naismith to write the first basketball rules will be auctioned off Dec. 10 at Sotheby's in New York. The two pages are expected to go for millions of dollars.
That's, of course, if you want to get off cheaply. A great gift for a small sum more would be an NBA franchise for Kansas City. Don't say I'm hard to buy for.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thinking Outside the Box of Throwing Stars

Just a reminder of why Bill Clinton was awesome via Foreign Policy magazine:

In 1999 or 2000, after the failed attempt to kill Osama bin Laden with some 80 cruise missiles launched into the al Qaeda camp in Khost, Afghanistan, a frustrated President Bill Clinton thought that somehow the United States could "scare the shit out of al Qaeda if suddenly a bunch of black ninjas rappelled out of helicopters into the middle of their camp," according to the 9/11 Commission.
Maybe he was kidding, maybe he was serious. If you've seen The Men Who Stare at Goats, you'll not find it surprising if he was serious.

Brandon Flowers



One of our best young Chiefs players is getting noticed. This is pulled from an article about Jay cutler being an ass.

"I've played against [Hall] before -- there's no reason to shy away from him. That's hard to say after throwing four picks at a guy, but if we had to play him tomorrow, I'd go at him every time." That was Cutler's response to the valid question: "Why did you keep throwing Hall's way, when he was picking off everything in his area?" It's true that Hall isn't exactly Brandon Flowers(notes) or Darrelle Revis(notes), but this goes beyond hubris on Cutler's part. Easy enough to give a perfunctory answer about how Hall played a great game, and "the breaks just didn't go our way," blah blah blah ... but this?
I think Flowers needs to do it for a few more games before he moves into a class with Revis. But, the early returns are certainly good.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Masters Degree in Communication!

I'm sure many of you have seen this. For those that have not, please enjoy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Life

Keith Richards has a new book out. It sounds like something I want to read:

But is there anything new that can be said about the Stones anyway? As “Life” emphatically demonstrates, the answer is yes. And some of its most surprisingly revelatory material appears in what Mr. Richards jokingly calls “Keef’s Guitar Workshop.” Here are the secrets of some of the world’s most famous rock riffs and the almost toy-level equipment on which they were recorded, like the cassette recorder onto which Mr. Richards dubbed guitar layer after guitar layer for “Street Fighting Man,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and part of “Gimme Shelter.” Here’s how the silent beats in Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” worked their way into some of Mr. Richards’s most inspired solos. Mr. Fox found that “Heartbreak Hotel” itself was the key to some of Mr. Richards’s best musical memories.
That's cool.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fantasyland

Maybe this is fair, maybe it isn't. I think it probably is.

Kevin Drum makes an interesting observation.

The modern, tea party-inflected conservative movement is based on a few core principles. Global warming is a hoax. Income inequality hasn't been growing. Tax cuts don't increase the deficit. America has the best healthcare in the world. Evolution is a myth. The economy is weak because of regulatory uncertainty. Barack Obama is a socialist.

I'm trying to think of another successful political movement in history based on so many objectively fantastical beliefs.
He couldn't think of one. I can't think of one either. I suspect allowing for all of history gives us a pretty good chance of finding someone, but probably not in modern American history.

I do wonder how many of these things most conservatives actually believe. I know there are some conservatives that believe all of these things, but I guess most conservatives at least believe a few of them or they wouldn't keep being talked about by conservatives I know.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Solving the Puzzle

There is endless talk from the right about the ridiculousness of liberal Hollywood stars giving their opinions about this, that, or the other. But, of course, as I believe we have noted here before, the right has a much stronger record of validating the views of Hollywood types by electing them (the Gipper and the Governator to name a couple).

They apparently now also let the celebrity rooters write columns in their magazines. Perhaps they shouldn't. Pat Sajak's first column for the National Review Online tackles the scourge of allowing public sector employees to vote:

In nearly all private and public endeavors, there are occasions in which it’s only fair and correct that a person or group be barred from participating because that party could directly and unevenly benefit from decisions made and policies adopted. So should state workers be able to vote in state elections on matters that would benefit them directly? The same question goes for federal workers in federal elections.
He bolsters his case by pointing out that his family and friends aren't allowed to participate on Wheel of Fortune. I'm not kidding. He doesn't explain whether or not employees' families should be allowed to vote despite their obvious conflict of interest. Likewise left out are taxpayers who have a definite stake in most elections. Perhaps when Sajak's though experiment ends, he will come to the conclusion that we are all too conflicted to vote and thus democracy should be eliminated.

It is exciting, however, to think where this column might go. When you start with the disenfranchisment of a sizeable portion of the U.S. Workforce, there is no telling where you might end up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Several Things That Suck

I just read all of this, and well, damn.

Anne Applebaum on anti-intellectualism:

In America, the end of the meritocracy will probably come about slowly: If working hard, climbing the education ladder, and graduating from a good university wins you only opprobrium, then you might not bother. Or if you do bother, then you certainly won't go into politics, where your kind is no longer welcome. We will then have a different sort of elite in charge of the country—and a different set of reasons to dislike them, too.
Christopher Hitchens suggesting maybe Applebaum's fears are already reality:

I could introduce you to dozens of enthusiastic and intelligent people, highly aware of "the issues" and very well-informed on all questions from human rights to world trade to counterinsurgency, to none of whom it would occur to subject themselves to what passes for the political "arena." They are willing to give up potentially more lucrative careers in order to work on important questions and expand the limits of what is currently thinkable politically, but the great honor and distinction of serving their country in the legislature is only offered to them at a price that is now way too steep.
Kevin Drum points out that our other groups of elites are doing just fine.

Pay on Wall Street is on pace to break a record high for a second consecutive year, according to a study conducted by The Wall Street Journal...There's some speculation in the article that Wall Street pay might "level out" as profits flatten in response to financial reform, but if that happens "analysts and experts expect that Wall Street will lay off employees in order to keep bonus pools high."
I think I'll go read something about the Royals to cheer me up.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Buenos Noches


One more thing about the Royals. There probably is only one guy on the Royals who deserves a big pat on the back this year, and that is Joakim Soria. Not only did Soria set a Royals record by pitching 23 straight scoreless innings, but he also recorded 36 straight saves on his way to a 4th best in the majors total of 43.

But the really impressive thing about Soria's stats this season were the percentage of total Royals wins he saved. Here are the top five closers this season by number of saves, then the number of wins their team had, and the percentage of the wins saved by the pitcher (WS).

Brian Wilson SF, 48 Saves, 92 Wins, WS 52%
Heath Bell SD, 45 Saves, 90 Wins, WS 50%
Raphael Soriano TB, 44 Saves, 96 Wins, WS 46%
Joakim Soria KC, 43 Saves, 67 Wins, WS 64%
Neftali Feliz TX, 39 Saves, 90 Wins, 43%

Granted, this may say more about the Royals than anything, but that is a lot of pressure to heap on one guy. Well done Joakim.

Batting Average at the End of the Season

Thanks to Dan for forwarding this piece that combines two of my favorite things, numbers and being depressed about the Royals.

“Two economists at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, while investigating how round numbers influence goals, examined the behavior of major league hitters from 1975 to 2008 who entered what became their final plate appearance of the season with a batting average of .299 or .300 (in at least 200 at-bats).

They found that the 127 hitters at .299 or .300 batted a whopping .463 in that final at-bat, demonstrating a motivation to succeed well beyond normal (and in what was usually an otherwise meaningless game).

Most deliciously, not one of the 61 hitters who entered at .299 drew a walk — which would have fired those ugly 9s into permanence because batting average considers bases on balls neither hit nor at-bat.”


The Royals part of this is a reminder that this statistic doesn't mean much because the Royals finished second in all of baseball in batting average (.274) yet scored less runs than 19 other teams. Let's go minor leaguers!

Taxpayer Receipts

Missed a couple of days, so here is the first catch up item. Taxpayer reciepts - good idea or bad idea? What would you you reduce on this list? Expand?

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Weirdest Walkmen Show


Saw the Walkmen last night on the roof of a parking garage at the Plaza... at a fashion show. Ancillary Girlfriend and I were two of about 30 people there who came to see the band and therefore didn't realized we were supposed to put on our sleekest black outfits for this kind of thing. It was certainly the strangest concert crowd I've been a part of.

The fashion show was for a fall line of clothes inspired by the military, though the only people I saw wearing camo were the two Capital Electric guys running the power. The models were actually wearing a whole range of other things from fur jackets (perhaps inspired by Spies Like Us) to one guy dressed like an English paperboy. I didn't understand much of what was going on.

On the plus side, we got to meet and talk with Pete Bauer from the Walkmen. He was standing next to us during the fashion show and eased my suspicion that the weirdness of the event was related to it being in Kansas City. He claimed to have been at similar events in New York and L.A. and assured us that all such events are, in fact, weird.

Once the Walkmen played, the show was fantastic. They were missing bass player Walt Martin, so they passed the bass around and played songs they could handle with four guys (and songs that don't have horns). The setlist was great. They played stuff from every album except 100 Miles Off. Most of the crowd didn't care. I did. Bravo Walkmen!
 

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