Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bob Costas - America's Moral Compass

At least that is what Bob Costas seems to think. I had nearly forgotten about this pompous display of blowhardiness, until a post on Slate weighed in feeling the same.

I generally like Bob Costas. I hope NBC pulls the plug on his halftime monologues so I don't permanently change my mind.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

As a Kansas City sports fan and resident of one of the few states that voted for McCain in the last election, I can get caught up in not feeling too appreciative of how the world works. But, by and large, I think humanity continues to improve, and I know I certainly have a lot to be thankful for in my own life. It's nice to think about that every now and again. Friday, I shall resume being downtrodden.

Monday, November 21, 2011

To the Mattresses

Bill Simmons has a great article up at Grantland where he assigns blame to various parties explains how The Godfather is like the NBA lockout. After an opening where he talks about Michael and Sonny, he closes the piece with this:
For the owners, nothing has changed — it's strictly business. For the players, something haschanged — it's almost entirely personal. You can't find a middle ground between those two worlds. You just can't. Maybe it's the opposite of how definitively The Godfather: Part II ended — with Michael Corleone sitting outside by himself, lost in thought, alone in every sense, a ruthless businessman with no personal connection to anything — but even so, that deafening silence sounds the same.
The rest of article where he explains how the various actors have helped bring us to the brink of a year without an NBA season. It's good stuff, but I particularly like the metaphor because I just love movie metaphors. One of my greatest regrets is that I can't find the paper I wrote in high school explaining how The Grapes of Wrath was really the same story as Alien. If I ever find it, be assured it will be making an immediate appearance in this space.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


There are lies, there are damn lies, and there is psychological science:
In a forthcoming paper, also to appear in Psychological Science, Leslie K. John, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, and two co-authors report that about a third of the 2,000 academic psychologists they surveyed admit to questionable research practices. Those don't include outright fraud, but rather such practices as stopping the collection of data when a desired result is found, or omitting from the final paper some of the variables tested.
And this doesn't even include the fact that most psychological studies involve some kind of totally unreliable self-reporting by the subjects. Not a real major point here, just something to remember.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sports Update

A review of my favorite teams:

Kansas City Chiefs - They just lost a game where the opposing QB completed 2 passes. I haven't verified, but this has to be a record. Anytime you hear a story that starts "For the first time in NFL history, Team X did Accomplishment Y, you can safely assume they were playing the Chiefs. The team is a complete disaster on offense. The QB was inaccurate even when he wasn't being driven into the ground by opposing defensive linemen, and now they have to hand things over to his backup. On the positive side, their division is so unspeakably awful that they are still a game out of first after being outscored by 77 points in their 9 games.

Philadelphia Eagles - Actually a game worse than the Chiefs despite outscoring opponents by 17 points. And now Vick has broken ribs.

Kansas City Royals - I am actually looking forward to next season. However, if they don't get any more pitching help than Jonathan Sanchez, you can't possibly consider them an actual contender for the Central crown.

Sporting KC - A great season finished with a disappointing home loss to a team without their best player in the Eastern Conference championship. However, the fact that they were even playing in such a game means they are easily the best franchise in town. Here is hoping they can build on this season, and learn from their playoff experience.

Oklahoma City Thunder - N/A (And that sucks.)

Chelsea - They aren't playing well, and now racist fans are distracting a team that needs to be focused on how not to give up five goals at home. Plus, there is talk of a Didier Drogba trade.

Syracuse - College basketball seems to be my bright spot. The Orange are off to a great start. Of course, they aren't playing anyone this time of year, but there is a feel you can get watching a team. The feel I am getting from this Syracuse team is that they will have good offensive balance and they are athletic enough to compete with other top 5 teams.

Missouri State - I have no idea what to think about their 22 point drubbing of Nevada. Either expectations were too low for the Bears in the MVC, too high for the Wolfpack in the WAC, or the MVC is wwwaaayyy better than the WAC. I think it is probably mostly the first, and a little of the second. Pretty sure it isn't the third.

So there it is. Thank God for college basketball since the NFL has been a disaster and the NBA probably won't even have a chance to be a disaster. March Madness here we come!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

First New Page Up

I'm working on adding static pages to the blog. The first is places I like to eat in KC, and you can find it in the menu to the right.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Riveting News

Here is the entirety of a story on the front page of the Kansas City Star's website today:

Firefighter Twists Knee Battling South KC House Fire 
A firefighter twisted his knee early this morning while battling a south Kansas City house fire. The fire was reported about 6:35 a.m. today in the 10900 block of Forest Avenue. The firefighter was being evaluated at the scene. 
There were no other injuries. The cause of the fire was being investigated and no estimate of damages had been determined this morning.
In other news, I stumbled in the parking lot and nearly spilled my coffee this morning.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

College and Learning

There seems, out there in the great big world, a growing buzz that college diplomas are not offering all the same benefits they once offered. Politicians, journalists, and college students themselves have been more vocally criticizing high prices and less robust returns on those prices over the last few months. You can see it in such varied forums as OWS rallies and Republican presidential candidate debates. An interesting article from the New York Review of Books discusses a point made by the authors of Academically Adrift:

For most of them, in the end, what the university offers is not skills or knowledge but credentials: a diploma that signals employability and basic work discipline. Those who manage to learn a lot often—though happily not always—come from highly educated families and attend highly selective colleges and universities. They are already members of an economic and cultural elite. Our great, democratic university system has become a pillar of social stability—a broken community many of whose members drift through, learning little, only to return to the economic and social box that they were born into.

 I put the italics in because this just strikes me as one of the most patently obvious issues with our education system. College for many people is not a place to aspire to learn, but a place to earn the right to get a better job. And it would be crazy for us to be surprised by this because this is exactly how we sell college as a social institution. "A college degree is the ticket to a better future... college graduates earn x% more than non-college grads... the opportunities afforded you by college." These are things you hear. You do not hear things like "college is a place to help you be a more reasonable, critical, and thoughtful human being." Why? Probably because there is no certain profit in that.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Old Fashioned 2

A great story in Slate today designates the Old Fashioned as the ultimate symbol of our pluralistic nation. It also makes a pretty strong case that it is a drink built to expose our more tribalistic and pretentious nature.

The old-fashioned is at once "the manliest cocktail order" and "something your grandmother drank," and between those poles we discover countless simple delights, evolutionary wonders, and captivating abominations. Because of its core simplicity and its elasticity—because it is primordial booze—ideas about the old-fashioned exist in a realm where gastronomical notions shade into ideological tenets. It is a platform for a bar to make a statement, a surface on which every bartender leaves a thumbprint, and a solution that many a picky drinker dips his litmus paper in. You are a free man. Drink your drink as you please. But know that your interpretation of the recipe says something serious about your philosophy of fun.
Very true. I would recommend the whole article as it does a nice job of describing the issue with a hipsteristic influence on modern day cocktail making. It also made me think about an issue I have become more and more familiar with in my own life, which is my attempt to thread the needle in my own tastes between crass popular culture and the overly precious tastes of the denizens of speakeasies and indie-music sites the world over.

Indeed, my struggle to find an equilibrium between the mass and peculiar results in a regular self-questioning about how my perceptions of the audience of a drink, show, album, book, etc. are affecting my appreciation of that thing. I am afraid more often than I would like, that affectation is clearly present.I reported on my thread-the-needle approach to the Old Fashioned a couple of years ago. Notice my obvious disdain for the neanderthalic addition of club soda, but my defense of the heretical muddled fruit at the bottom of the glass. I am a creature of two worlds I suppose... or I just know what I like.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Gripe

In reading the news and listening to the radio, it seems to me that what we seem to be having - more than anything else - is a breakdown in faith that we can do anything as a collective. Whether that be govern ourselves, raise children, build good neighborhoods, or improve an economy, it all seems the same. Our national thought process has truly been hijacked by people who believe "every man for himself" is the best way to run a society. Leaving aside the incongruity of this idea with many of these same people's supposed religious beliefs, this is still a baffling issue. How did this train of thought become dominant? Is it a climate of skepticism in one another that has caused it? Is it social, moral, or functional? I don't know, but I am afraid of what we may do to ourselves before we figure out otherwise.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blogger Stepping Up in the World

I think I may be about 2 or 3 months behind, but I just looked around and see it is now easy to all kinds of things with this blog. I think the project through November may be to start adding some features...

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