April 30, 2006

BSG Spoilers

Here is a spoiler-filled story about the next season of Battlestar Galactica, in an interview with the actress who plays Starbuck. It looks like the Cylons who have New Caprica surrounded aren't exactly going to be the peace and love, leave humans alone sort that we were promised near the end of the last season.

Also, if you haven't seen an excerpt from Stephen Colbert's funny speech about just how crappy the Boy King is at the White House Correspondents' Dinner last night, Crooks and Liars has the video. Predictably, wingnuts thought he just wasn't funny at all, how dare he make fun of the god-like commander-in-chief who is protecting our freedoms (the ones he feels like protecting, anyway). Some on the liberal side are going a little overboard talking about how brave he was for speaking truth to power.

On the contrary, the fact that public criticism of the president should somehow be equated with bravery shows you just how screwed up this country is right now. What Colbert did should be perfectly normal and acceptable, and Bush shouldn't have given him a petulant scowl but instead laughed like a good sport. Wingnuts who proclaim that they are somehow embarrassed for Colbert are doing some serious, serious projecting. Peter Daou has more on reaction everywhere to Colbert's speech.

Posted by Observer at 04:01 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2006

No-Shows

Our 11-year-old, C*dy, had a soccer game scheduled for this morning at 9am at a field about 40 miles away. We decided not to try to get all the moving parts of the family going, so I just took him. And it's a good thing, because we got there about 30 minutes early, practiced for a bit and kept wondering why no one else from our team was there.

At 9am, one other person showed up. We figured surely there would be a caravan of parents showing up soon. Finally, at 915, we got hold of our coach on his cell phone, and he said he totally forgot about the game! But what about all the other parents? We all had a schedule, and the game time and location was announced at practice just this past Thursday!

My guess is that it rained so hard last night, and the field is so far away, a lot of parents just gambled that it would be a rainout anyway and blew it off. But it sure sucked for the other team, who were there in force ready to play. And it sucked for me, wasting about 2-3 hours this morning for nothing.

Oh well.

Next week is the last week of the semester here, and I'll be busy with lots of grading and so on. We're hoping that the baby doesn't come until after finals week has ended on May 12 (baby is due May 17), but I'll have to have a backup plan just in case! This semester has been extremely busy with lots more outside projects (some for pay and some not) than usual, and it being Spring, I'm naturally a little more run down than at the end of Fall. It'll be very good to be done and get a few weeks off to enjoy the new baby and just veg.

Posted by Observer at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2006

Terry

Now they're down to five, and it looks like Terry is a lock to win the game. All he has to do is win one of the next two immunity challenges and use his idol on the other, and he gets to the final three. The last challenge between the three is always endurance, and Terry is certain to win that one because he's dominated every other physical or endurance challenge so far.

Cirie was very smart last night to arrange to get rid of Courtney, and I really respect the way she's made it this far. Hell, she should've been voted off the very first week, but one of the other older women was kinda freaking out over her lost son and unknowingly alienated the others. If Cirie makes it to the final two, she is the only one who has a chance of beating Terry (which is why if Terry is smart, he'll never take her with him to the end).

The only way Terry could lose now is if the six Casaya members of the final nine make an agreement to vote for the last remaining Casaya member to win the million, but that seems unlikely to me because by the end, they'll all hate each other. Now that Shane realizes after last night's vote that he controls nothing and is in his own little world of irrelevance, I wonder if he'll pout and tantrum next week or just accept his fate with resignation. I don't think he's smart enough to regroup and try to strategize to get himself further.

Poor Courtney. She's in for months of therapy after this experience. First, she wakes up to the realization that she is a truly annoying person (even more so than Shane, which has got to hurt), then she tries to put it behind her, only to see the rest of her tribe vote her off as a threat. She's so bad that everyone realized that she would make a great person in the final two since no one would vote for her, so they all kicked her off to give themselves a shot at the final two with Terry. She has to know that's why she was voted off.

Posted by Observer at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2006

70%

In the couple of months since we have had the basketball hoop in the driveway available (after the cleaned out the garage), we've all been brushing up on our skills. Even little D*niel can now dribble a full-size basketball pretty well! He's not much for shooting yet. We got him a "baby ball", but he likes to play with the big basketballs, which he still occasionally calls "airballs".

I like to shoot free throws. Ever since I was a little kid. I don't know what grade I was in, but long ago, there was a free-throw shooting contest. They would let you shoot 25 free throws, and of all the kids in the school, the top three would go on to the next level and so on. Well, one of my friends practiced like crazy and could consistently hit 22-24 free throws, and he eventually made it to a very high level, maybe even nationals. I can't be sure because it was so long ago.

I've been trying to match that ever since. A lot of it was because I needed to work on my outside shooting anyway. My brother and all of the neighbors were bigger and stronger than me, so I couldn't really compete unless I could threaten an outside shot. But I was never that good at shooting free throws.

After being a lifetime 50% shooter, in the past week, I've figured out how to simplify my shooting motion (fewer moving parts), and now I'm hitting free throws at about a 70% rate. I even made 20 out of 25 yesterday, which is a new record for me.

Hey, it was either this entry or another long one about how wingnuts are in a different (and wrong) reality.

Posted by Observer at 09:25 PM | Comments (4)

The Going Rate

I haven't been as consistent about this as I would like, but I'm really going to try harder from now on. Whenever a kid has a chore to do in this house, I will always give them a choice. They can either do their assigned chore, or they can pay me to do it, and I charge $30/hour for a minimum time interval of two minutes. So far, everytime I've made that offer, the kid has decided to go ahead and do the chore.

Oh, and also, it appears that for the time being, the Rangers have a new closer, the new guy Otsuka who has closed for the Japanese national team. He's been good so far, so that works for me.

Posted by Observer at 04:49 PM | Comments (2)

April 26, 2006

Platt

When this new storyline developed near the end of the 2nd season of "West Wing" about the president having to disclose his illness to the nation, I was glad that they replaced the White House Counsel actor. John LaRoquette has always just been annoying. He was fine as a funny cameo when Ainsley was hired, but Oliver Platt has the acting chops to handle this role.

We're almost done with season 2, so no spoilers on how everything gets resolved!

Posted by Observer at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

And Again...

Now it is five blown saves, three in a row. And this one cost us the game, albeit in extra innings. We should've won two out of three against the A's. This is going to hurt in the long run.

Posted by Observer at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2006

Try Again...

Ok, second try: anyone have a closer we can use? Cordero has now blown four saves in seven tries, and he's giving up two or three runs a pop. His ERA climbed *again* to 12 after tonight's debacle. Fortunately, Ranger bats have bailed him out in the bottom of the ninth twice on this homestand, but this guy needs to be demoted to long relief and I mean right frickin' now.

After a 2-6 start, we're 11-10. I'll take that. Just quit trotting out a dead arm in the ninth inning, please. We could be 13-8. Closers are supposed to blow saves now and again, but if you blow more than eight or so, you officially suck, and Cordero is halfway there in April.

Posted by Observer at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

More of the Same

Recently, a CIA agent named Mary McCarthy was fired for allegedly leaking the existence of the CIA "black" prisons over in Eastern Europe where we were sending people for torture and all that other stuff that makes us all so proud to be Americans. Of course, she categorically denies it, and the guy in charge of the investigation is in the process of purging all the people in the CIA who aren't loyal Republicans, so it's hard to trust these results given that McCarthy is a Democrat (apparently).

Is this Russia now? Purges based on party affiliation! This is happening in America?!? Where we all have to be a party of the offical political party apparatus to be in any branch of the government? Are military ships now going to go out to sea with a political officer on board who will make military decisions like in a Clancy novel about Russia?

Of course, Republicans are all about prosecuting leakers to the maximum extent of the law unless they leak Valerie Plame's identity or unless they're a Republican Senator who is covering up for Bush. Or members of the Bush administration.

Republicans are so far off the deep end in terms of loyalty to party over country, I don't know if we'll ever be able to extract them from power. It'll be like a damn root canal, only more painful.

Posted by Observer at 08:05 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2006

Advice for the Converts

For those who have finally come to realize about Bush that the emperor has no clothes, a helpful blogger provides some advice for new converts. It's a bit too long, but I can summarize it pretty well, I think:

1) It is nice that you now disagree with Bush on whatever issue happens to be motivating you. Bush now no longer feels your opinion is relevant. You used to have integrity, but now, no matter who you are, what your history of service to the country or what your history of rock-solid Republicanism is (same thing to Bush), you will no longer have a voice in this administration. You are an outsider forevermore on every issue because you have showed you lack loyalty.

2) You are not missed by Bush or the Bush administration. Upset about the Iraq War? Katrina? The deficit? Whatever. Bush passionately does *NOT* care whether you were ever on board or not.

3) Bush will continue to do whatever he feels like, and he will continue to view any disagreement, no matter how polite or correct, as rudeness or perhaps even hate. If by some slim chance, he *is* made aware of your views, his reaction will be somewhere between callous indifference to vengeful resentment. And why shouldn't he continue doing whatever he feels like? There haven't been any real negative consequences for him so far.

4) That someone like Bush is in charge of America right now is something you bear part of the blame for, and you have a responsbility to actively try to make it right. You broke it. You fix it.

5) If you're bored sometime, try to look up the writings of some of the historical figures Bush supposedly is basing his presidency on, like Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, Adam Smith or even Jesus Christ. You'll get a deep understanding of the word "diametrically" as in "diametrically opposed".

6) Cheney is worse.

Update Do you doubt that Bush is being compared to Lincoln? Do you think I'm just saying that to be inflammatory? If so, you don't get out much because there's literally no argument too stupid for wingnuts.

Posted by Observer at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2006

The Faire

We decided to take the day and go to Scarb*rough Faire, which is a Renaissance-style festival a bit of a drive from here. C*dy had a friend over visiting, and so we offered to take him as well. With D*niel in his stroller (most of the time), we had a party of seven lurching around the festival the whole time.

Like last year, it was plenty of fun. Last year, it was a little too cool at the beginning, so we ended up carrying around a bunch of extra clothes and an umbrella. The upside was that the place wasn't crowded at all. This year, it was just hot. They do a good job now, unlike twenty years ago when I used to go every year, with misters and coverings to keep things cool. But still, there's only so much you can do at an outdoor festival when the temp in the shade is pushing 90.

D*niel enjoyed the shows quite a bit, and we all gorged ourselves on yummy food except M*chelle, who has trouble keeping just about everything down. With less than four weeks to go before her due date, we figured this is her last chance to get out and do something big, and it was pretty tough on her. She was very brave and made it through the day and only got called "preggo" once.

The kids had fun, but I think they were a little frustrated that they couldn't find a neat souvenir that they could really afford. We did the foam swords last year, and that was fine, but this year, they used up their spending money on food, basically. After we left, I stopped at a little gas station to get M*chelle a Diet C*ke (they only had P*psi products at the Faire) and felt like $1.29 for a 20 oz. bottle of pop was a great deal (half the price and a much bigger selection than inside the Faire).

The boys will always remember this as the year they sat on the front row for the "Mud Show", which left C*dy and his friend caked with mud (which fortunately only got them in front and dried by the time we got to the van). J*stin and Ashl*y were smart enough to sit far away near us.

Posted by Observer at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2006

Wanted: Closer

Our closer is broke. Cordero has three saves and, if memory serves, he has blown four. He has appeared nine times now, pitching a total of eight innings, and his ERA is 11.25. These aren't your one-run nail biter saves that he's blowing. Oh no. He's coming in with a three run lead that vanishes in a barrage of walks, singles and home runs, including tonight's three-run homer.

The Rangers came back in the ninth to win. I mean, this *is* the Tampa Bay Double-A's we're playing, after all, and sometimes the world works the way it is supposed to and we dominate those poor saps. But still, we've finally clawed our way back to .500 and are just a game or so behind the Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of California, Anaheim and Los Angeles (ALAACALA), and it is no thanks to that bucket of warm spit Buck Showalter keeps trotting out to the mound because he knows that he is immune to all criticism by simply saying, "Hey, he's my closer."

Why do you "have" to respect a manager who sticks with a struggling closer? Why can't a manager be held accountable for bad pitching change choices in the ninth damned inning? This whole "closer" thing is just something Tony La Russa came up with in the 80's to get the media off his back after a tough loss. Hey, don't blame me, I put in my "closer".

You know what, you're the manager, and you make the choices, and when the choice is a bad one, you get paid to take your damn lumps. Now quit shutting off your fucking brain in the late innings and get the right guy out there to give us the best chance to win.

If I were the manager? Oh hell yes I'd use a closer, and I'd probably stick with Cordero. After all, that's the easiest way to keep your job, and it would be a cool job. But I'm not the manager, so I have the luxury of the hypocritical stupid fan rant, and I will use it as necessary this season.

Posted by Observer at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

Spurs!

Now is the time to be watching the English Premier League, because it is getting down to the end. A couple of years ago, the Tottenham vs Arsenal (at Highbury) fixture, usually a tightly fought "Darby" match, ended 5-4 in Arsenal's favor, and it was one of the most fun matches I've ever watched. I've been following Tottenham closely ever since, and this season has been their best yet.

If they finish in the top four, they qualify to play in the European Champions' League next season, and right now, they are battling Arsenal for that 4th spot. They played this morning in a real nail-biter, one of those matches in which you could see both sides had stepped up the intensity. Tottenham had the better of the play for most of the match, but once they scored, Arsenal went crazy. Fortunately, Arsenal only scored once in the final 20 minutes, and so Tottenham escaped with a draw.

With two games to go, Tottenham retains a four-point lead on Arsenal (which has three games to go, two on the road), so Tottenham will probably end up 4th. Meanwhile, Chelsea sewed up a Premiership title, but they still have some good games to play. I hear the recent FA Cup semifinal against Liverpool was one for the ages, but I haven't seen it yet. It was on pay-per-view only, so I'll have to wait for them to show the replay.

Anyway, right now EPL soccer is my third favorite thing to watch behind Football and Baseball. It definitely beats basketball and other sports. If poker counts as a sport, then I'd probably put it just behind soccer.

Posted by Observer at 06:24 PM | Comments (1)

April 21, 2006

History Lesson

Glenn Greenwald has excerpts from an interview with Scott Ritter today. You may not remember who he is, but Glenn provides a little history:

One of the most bizarre aspects of our current political debates is that the very people who were most glaringly and incessantly wrong about virtually everything prior to the invasion of Iraq are still held out as some sort of wise foreign policy experts. The converse of that distorted principle is that those who were most right about Iraq-related issues are still treated as subversive lepers who are unfit for decent company, as well as unfit to be heard in mainstream media outlets and television talk shows.

Few people, if any, were as right about the critical pre-invasion issues as Scott Ritter was. Back in September, 2002, Ritter was trying to tell anyone who would listen that Iraq had no WMD's, and accordingly said:

My country seems on the verge of making an historic mistake…. My government is making a case for war against Iraq that is built upon fear and ignorance, as opposed to the reality of truth and fact.

Ritter was not just some newspaper columnist like Charles Krauthammer or free floating pundit like Michael Ledeen. He was a former Marine officer, top aide to Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf during the first Gulf War, and a tenacious weapons inspector working inside Iraq for the U.N. It is difficult to imagine someone with greater credentials and credibility who ought to have been listened on those issues.

But in a vivid reminder of just how ugly and corrupt were the tactics used by Bush followers at the time to crush any dissent, Ritter was virtually excluded from any mainstream setting. He was branded a subversive, a traitor, and the "new Jane Fonda." The media -- while it venerated the Krauthammers and Bill Kristols and Fred Barnes's and the slew of other know-nothings who paraded forth to spew fictitious pro-war talking points -- cooperated enthusiastically with the smears on Ritter, all but treating him like some sort of untouchable traitor, notwithstanding the fact that, until 2004, he had voted only for Republicans, not to mention that he been an outstanding Marine officer. Nothing shielded those who dissented from the Bush agenda from charges of treason and subversion.

And by virtue of this now-familiar Bush worshipping tactic, one of the very few individuals who was actually voicing accurate and truthful observations about Iraq prior to the invasion was shut out of the debate, other than to be held up for universal mockery.

What I find the most depressing about this whole situation is not so much that people like Ritter are not given a voice in the national media. It's that when they are given a voice, it is only in the context of marginzaliing him. The lump him in with the crackpots of the world (as they see it, which includes crazy bloggers) the "angry Left", and then provide a balancing quote from someone who is more "serious", a wingnut pundit who has supported Bush all along and thinks we should stay the course.

I always complain that the media should stop giving such a big platform to wingnuts about the war because they've been wrong all along, but there's another solution. If any of these pundits were to come down with a half-decent case of being deeply ashamed and embarrassed at having been so disastrously, harmfully wrong, then they'd have the good grace of not only stepping aside, but openly lauding and promoting the opinions of people who have been right all along.

I know, I know. I'm expecting corporate media types to be ethical. Joke's on me.

Posted by Observer at 04:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2006

Tom and Terry

We've been keeping up with "Survivor" like we usually do, but this one hasn't really been as good. It has gotten better recently because we can now genuinely root for the fighter pilot, Terry, who is kind of like firefighter Tom from the last one. Kind of an older guy but made of real iron and making the other people look pretty lame.

It was funny to watch his reaction to being an outcast today compared with Shane's reaction to pretty much everything. Somewhere in California or wherever he lives, Shane's head must be exploding watching how he looks on TV. He's got a gigantic ego and thinks he's the best guy ever, but he's about 14-15 years old emotionally or maybe younger. When he's pretending to be nice, he reminds me of Tom Hanks in "Big", like a little boy in a grown-up's body. Most of the time, he's acting like a pissed-off teenager.

I imagine most of Shane's acquaintances in real life are richly enjoying the idea of Shane watching himself on TV. Anyway, the only reason to watch at this point is to see if Terry can beat the rest of 'em. I have a sick feeling that somehow all the Casaya members on the jury (who will be a majority at the end) will make some kind of pact not to vote for Terry at the end, but surely they won't all hold to that what with all the backstabbing that's got to start once they start voting for each other.

Now I'll grant that Terry probably has a big ego, too, and is probably very annoying. The editors are all but putting a halo around Terry's head, but the people who are there obviously are annoyed with him. Oh well, even though this season isn't as good as last, it still remains a very fun show to watch. I read somewhere that someone may have spilled the beans on who wins, just because a betting site had to shut down due to all the betting on one particular player, but I'm trying to avoid that information just to make the end a surprise.

One thing's for sure... I wouldn't want to be the studly upper-middle-aged guy on the next Survivor. After the example Tom and Terry have set, that guy will get voted off immediately.

Posted by Observer at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

Nutball Ceremony

Your morning reading today is about Purity Balls. These are quasi-religious ceremonies in which young girls formally celebrate their sexual purity with their fathers.

How has Stephen King gotten through his entire life without including something like this in one of his novels?

Posted by Observer at 08:36 AM | Comments (1)

April 19, 2006

Military Democrat

The founder of Daily Kos talks about how the military changed his life:

Six weeks shy of my 18th birthday, I reported to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to train as an MLRS/LANCE Operations/Fire Direction Specialist, managing operations and logistics for a missile platoon.

I was a mess of a human being. I was 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighed just 111 pounds, and didn’t have a shred of self-confidence. In high school, I had been the short, skinny, Salvadoran war refugee with the funny accent who looked half his age (still do) and read books in the (then) lily-white Chicago suburb of Schaumburg. A deadly combination.

I was also a Republican. As a 17-year-old precinct captain in 1988, not even old enough to vote, I helped deliver one of the district’s best precinct performances for Henry Hyde. I had a framed picture of me with George H. W. Bush.

Of course, that was a different time, a different Republican Party. And I was a different kind of Republican -- always socially liberal, committed to fiscal sanity, and willing to pay more than lip service to the concept of national service. Talk was cheap. I was going to wear combat boots.

Military service is a sacrifice from the beginning. The cheap combat boots assigned to new recruits blister the toughest of feet -- after one particularly grueling 20-plus-mile road march with a 100-pound rucksack, I literally squeezed out blood from my socks. But basic training was the best thing to ever happen to me. They say they break you down in basic training so they can rebuild you into a real man. I was already broken when I arrived at Fort Sill. For me, it was all building.

Eight weeks later, I emerged a brand new person, this one weighing 140 pounds. And after my three-year stint, while I was stationed in Germany and missed deploying to the Gulf War by a hair, I emerged as a Democrat.

There’s a reason most vets running for office this year are running as Democrats. The military is perhaps the ideal society -- we worked hard but the Army took care of us in return. All our basic needs were met -- housing, food, and medical care. It was as close to a color-blind society as I have ever seen. We looked out for one another. The Army invested in us. I took heavily subsidized college courses and learned to speak German on the Army’s dime. I served with people from every corner of the country. I got to party at the Berlin Wall after it fell and explored Prague in those heady post-communism days. I wasn’t just a tourist; I was a witness to history.

The Army taught me the very values that make us progressives -- community, opportunity, and investment in people and the future. Returning to Bush Senior’s America, I was increasingly disillusioned by the selfishness, lack of community, and sense of entitlement inherent in the Republican philosophy. The Christian Coalition scared the heck out of me. And I was offended by the lip service paid to national service when most Republicans couldn’t be bothered to wear combat boots. I voted for Bush in 1992, but that was the last time I voted Republican.

Lest this sound like an ad for the Army, those were different times, when our men and women weren’t treated as expendable pawns in a neoconservative’s game of Risk. One of the many tragedies of the Iraq War is that the military is no longer a viable option for those needing a boost up the socio-economic ladder, making college a possibility, granting people the confidence and experience that has paid such huge dividends for countless veterans.

Maybe the saddest thing about the last couple of years is that without this administration's own incompetence which allowed 9/11 to occur, these guys would've never been re-elected and might never have felt they had a good enough reason to start up a war with Iraq.

Posted by Observer at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

Happy Boy

This is a picture from M*chelle's blog (click to enlarge) from last month when D*niel was aboard Thomas the Tank Engine for the first time. It'll give you a flavor for just how happy this boy can look when things are going his way.

Posted by Observer at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2006

Aspiring Artist

Little D*niel got some sidewalk chalk in his Easter basket, so I drew him a pretty good Thomas the Tank Engine on our driveway last night while the boys were shooting hoops. He liked it so much that he didn't want to come inside. He kept standing over the Thomas picture, trying to figure out how he could get his hands around it to bring it inside to bed with him. It took a "count to three" to get him inside. He was sure hot to get back out there tonight, and I drew him a couple more trains. That and butter noodles for supper made for a happy boy. "Dayyel happy! I happy! Oooo!"

Posted by Observer at 08:38 PM | Comments (1)

Priorities

M*chelle and I were discussing this last night, and it seems so simple to me that I must be missing something. It costs around $30k per year to incarcerate a person and $10k to educate a person, which makes them far less likely to be criminals and far more likely to be productive members of society. Those numbers are pretty close to reality, right?

So how come when you give a Republican $100 million, they generally use it to build prisons (or pass "three strikes" laws which ultimately require more prisons or mandated minimum sentences which have the same effect) instead of building schools or paying teachers? I don't mean this sarcastically or rhetorically. This kind of thing has been a Republican priority for decades now, and I think it speaks directly to the overall philosophy of Republicans. Democrats aren't immune to this kind of thinking, mind you, but they aren't the ones who originate these sorts of ideas and funding priorities. They just go along for fear of being labelled "soft on crime" or whatever.

Someone, somewhere, is not paying attention to the stupid political labels that drive Moron Americans to the polls. They know what the right thing to do is here, and they know how to sell it to the public, but they are consistently refusing to do so and have for a long time. Why? What am I missing?

Posted by Observer at 06:46 AM | Comments (8)

April 17, 2006

Oooo, Better

Well, the NOAA website has the forecast discussion and forecast (including sky cover) available without having to do so much digging, so that's my new fave. Still can't beat the Weather Channel for satellite loops, though.

I added Billmon to my sidebar, as he's had some very good rants lately. I need to be sure to read him daily now that's he's posting more often.

I advised a student today who wanted to switch over to the pre-med track. This poor guy made some abysmal grades in his first semester in a simple Economics class that I quite literally slept through in my undergrad days and made an "A", and he also did poorly in a pre-Calculus class. I asked about his background, and he said he was the valedictorian of his class (a local high school that I guess has really gone down the tubes but thankfully not our high school)!

I gave him a healthy dose of Biology and Chemistry and sent him along, told him he better treat this semester as make-or-break and he better make A's or B's or pick another career path. After watching parts of a couple of "Oprah" episodes where she talked about the differences between urban and suburban high schools (which I've seen plenty of) in Illinois, I have to say it is pretty discouraging to think of the fates of these poor kids in crappy schools.

What ever happened to giving every kid an equal opportunity?

Posted by Observer at 09:18 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2006

Weather Geek

For those who are interested, Weather Pages is a very good reference for forecasts. If you click on your region, you'll eventually work your way down to a page for your locality. My favorite product there is the "forecast discussion", which you sometimes have to scroll through (or use a text search for your city name) to find the relevant entry for your location.

This is a "raw feed" from the National Weather Service, and it goes into a lot more depth than just a simple forecast. It takes a while to get the language down, especially the abbreviations they use, but it basically gives you not only the forecast but also the "derivative", which is how likely the forecast is to change and why. It'll tell you what the latest sounding showed, whether your region is capped, and what it will take the break the cap and what to expect if it breaks, etc. It'll tell you if that 70% chance of rain is really probably 100% or just about 20% in their opinion. Basically, it's neat, and I recommend it if you are a weather geek like me.

It is also good to read in combination with some of the forecast maps from the Weather Channel website, which always has a very up-to-date and useful satellite loop. For local radar, you can't beat your local news station's website, so that's up to you to find.

The latest discussion tells me that (thankfully) the cold front due on Tuesday will be quicker and stronger than they previously thought, so maybe it won't get so damned hot in front of it. Tomorrow is going to be brutal though. Mid-90's in freakin' April!

Posted by Observer at 09:46 PM | Comments (3)

Easter Fun

The kids had three different Easter egg hunts today, and D*niel was just adorable. The other kids were also very good the whole day. I think they know that the best thing to do on Easter is to keep their heads down and do as they're told, and they end up with a huge candy haul.

I was glad to catch the last inning of the Rangers playing in Oakland. The Rangers again got good starting pitching, but couldn't hit. Down 3-1 in the ninth, Texeira connected for a two-run homer, and then three hits later, we're up 5-3 off a very, very good closer. Of course, our own stupid closer, Cordero (please, please let Otsuka take over that job), never has an easy save any more, and this one was a nail biter to the end, but the Rangers won. So far on their West Coast swing, they are 3-3, which is as good as can be hoped for out there.

If they can win the series in Seattle, they'll come home nearly .500 and on their way to where they are expected to be at the end. I'm surprised that the whole division is so down, hovering at .500 or below (even before all the intra-division play began last week). In the past several years, it seems like at this time, one team is always 11-2 or something and running away with it from the beginning.

Posted by Observer at 08:04 PM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2006

Please, Please Tell Me...

that this guy is full of crap:

I would say -- and this may shock some -- I think the decision [to go to war with Iran] has been made and military operations are under way.

Bush is a religious guy. Do you think maybe he could give something up for Lent, like maybe give up the whole "make shit up to provoke a war" habit?

Posted by Observer at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2006

General Orders

Glenn Greenwald is back to posting regularly again now that he's done writing a quickie book, which I imagine will be excellent when it comes out next month. Glenn's issue is wingnut critics of generals who have come out lately publicly saying what a crappy job this administration is doing, particularly Rumsfeld, in making decisions about Iraq. And there's a lot of behind the scenes protest over nuclear options being left on the table for Iran, which the White House calls "wild speculation" but pointedly doesn't offer a definitive "no".

I'd be all for rattling a nuclear sabre at Iran if I thought it might work and especially if I thought the Boy King wouldn't just decide "what the hell" and go push the button to nuke some brown people. That's pretty much what this entire eight years under this asshole is going to amount to in the history books. Best case scenario: "Well, at least he didn't nuke anybody." Will he even manage that?

Posted by Observer at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2006

Another Day, Another Outrage

You may recall that prior to the Iraq War, the Bush administration was talking up the aluminum tubes that they had found in Iraq. People who were qualified on this kind of stuff said that no, they can't possibly be centrifuge parts for purifying Uranium. But a few political guys tried to push the story that yes, they could, even though it was very obvious at the time they were just rocket tubes.

So the administration sold everyone the story that the tubes were evidence of WMD in Iraq, knowing they could later plausibly deny responsibility by saying that the intelligence community was "mixed" on the issue. They did the same thing with the whole Uranium from Africa story. Pumped up the wrong interpretation, knowing it was wrong, then later blaming the whole mess on the intelligence community. Hell, we now know they even leaked parts of intelligence reports that proved their case while keeping the exculpatory stuff (which was far more voluminous and convincing) classified.

Then when someone leaked the classified parts to show the administration's dishonesty, the administration tried to blame the leaker for endangering our national security! Jesus!

Now comes another chapter in the story: the mobile bioweapons labs. Supposedly, there were these trailers all over Iraq that were manufacturing biological WMD's. They were kept on wheels so they couldn't be targeted by cruise missiles or tracked easily by satellites. So after the invasion, we went looking for these bioweapons labs to provide some political ass-covering for a needless war.

And we got a definitive report.

But it contradicted the spin, so it was buried:

On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile "biological laboratories." He declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true.

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.

The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped "secret" and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories.

The authors of the reports were nine U.S. and British civilian experts -- scientists and engineers with extensive experience in all the technical fields involved in making bioweapons -- who were dispatched to Baghdad by the Defense Intelligence Agency for an analysis of the trailers. Their actions and findings were described to a Washington Post reporter in interviews with six government officials and weapons experts who participated in the mission or had direct knowledge of it.

None would consent to being identified by name because of fear that their jobs would be jeopardized. Their accounts were verified by other current and former government officials knowledgeable about the mission. The contents of the final report, "Final Technical Engineering Exploitation Report on Iraqi Suspected Biological Weapons-Associated Trailers," remain classified. But interviews reveal that the technical team was unequivocal in its conclusion that the trailers were not intended to manufacture biological weapons. Those interviewed took care not to discuss the classified portions of their work.

"There was no connection to anything biological," said one expert who studied the trailers. Another recalled an epithet that came to be associated with the trailers: "the biggest sand toilets in the world." [...]

The technical team's preliminary report was transmitted in the early hours of May 27, just before its members began boarding planes to return home. Within 24 hours, the CIA published its white paper, "Iraqi Mobile Biological Warfare Agent Production Plants," on its Web site.

After team members returned to Washington, they began work on a final report. At several points, members were questioned about revising their conclusions, according to sources knowledgeable about the conversations. The questioners generally wanted to know the same thing: Could the report's conclusions be softened, to leave open a possibility that the trailers might have been intended for weapons?

In the end, the final report -- 19 pages plus a 103-page appendix -- remained unequivocal in declaring the trailers unsuitable for weapons production.

"It was very assertive," said one weapons expert familiar with the report's contents.

Then, their mission completed, the team members returned to their jobs and watched as their work appeared to vanish.

"I went home and fully expected that our findings would be publicly stated," one member recalled. "It never happened. And I just had to live with it."

It would've been nice to hear about all this back when we only had a few hundred dead instead of over 2,000. It would've been nice if we had a Congress that exercised its oversight responsibilities.

All we can hope for now is a Democratic capture of either the House or Senate in November 2006. The only thing that will let us start pulling the steering wheel the other way so we can start to get out of this ditch is subpoena power. I honestly don't know how most of the staff in the executive branch can sleep at night.

Of course, there's no question what the reaction to this article will be now. Calls from the wingnuts to prosecute those who (oh my God!) leaked classified information to the press, no doubt. Assertions that the inspectors were all a bunch of liberal Democrats. Complaints by the poor Republican victims that this is some kind of political payback by disgruntled scientists and ex-military types. They'll say this is proof that the media is liberal, because they're just trying to make Bush look bad.

The worst thing about it is that when the grown-ups are finally back in charge, the country is going to be in such horrible shape that the fixes are going to make the leadership deeply unpopular because all the problems couldn't possibly be the fault of this administration which, aw shucks, just can't think of any mistakes they've made.

Update: Kevin Drum is maintaining a list of these kinds of stories as they come up, these stories that show the administration was misstating the conclusions of the intelligence community (not being misled) in the run-up to the Iraq war. This one is number EIGHT on a damning list.

Posted by Observer at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2006

2-6

Yes, we're winning tonight (so far), but I'm not optimistic. Our offense is in a deep freeze, and that's going to absolutely kill us this year because it looks like our pitching will at least be mediocre. Texas lost last night in Anaheim for something like the 13th time in a row out there.

Can we at least finish April as a .500 team so I can have some hope through May? As usual, the top Ranger blog on my list has excellent coverage of the rolling, flaming wreckage that is the season so far.

Yes, it's early, but when you have two other really good teams in the division and a tendency to finish weak, a bad April is a death blow.

Update Make that 2-7. One nice thing about the Rangers playing on the West Coast is that I can't possibly stay awake long enough to watch them choke away a win like last night.

Posted by Observer at 10:28 PM | Comments (2)

April 10, 2006

Tired Head

A lot of my favorite bloggers are very excited over the latest revelations in the Valerie Plame case. It appears as though the name of this CIA operative was leaked with the acknowledgement and approval of both Bush and Cheney for purely political purposes, part of a systematic pattern of selectively releasing classified information when it suits their purposes. They also hide stuff that makes them look bad, and any time anyone ELSE leaks anything, the wingnut brigade acts like they just discovered this horrible new thing called leaking that is damaging our country and helping the terrorists kill all of our children.

What I don't get is that this stuff has all been obvious for well over three years, dating back to the run-up to the Iraq war in late 2002 and early 2003. I understand bloggers wanting to push this, having to keep repeating the same point to dry to penetrate the thick skulls of the Moron Americans out there who think Bush is an honest guy they could have a beer with or whatever. And I understand the media being its usual useless self.

But for me, we've been over it. If you don't understand just how corrupt and harmful this administration is to our national security, not to mention our military and our economy, then no amount of detail on this case that is uncovered by Patrick Fitzgerald is going to change your mind.

Wake me up when Bush or Cheney gets indicted, impeached or censured. Until then, we're just dancing around the elephant in the room, and I've got better things to worry about. Like making the Democratic party climb up off the mat and fight like hell against everything these guys are trying to do while they and their cronies loot the country.

Posted by Observer at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2006

Cliff Hanger

We finished season 1 of "West Wing" last night, and oops, I didn't quite have disc 1 of season 2 from Netflix yet. I had the bonus disc from season 1, but the last episode of season 1 is a cliffhanger where lots of shots are fired in the direction of most of the major characters on the show. Anyway, long story short, the local library came in with a big save today because on branch had the first volume of season 2 available for checkout, so we were able to watch the two-part opening of season 2 which resolves the cliffhanger and has a lot of backstory.

All in all, that's the best two hours (or 104 minutes because there are no commercials) that I've seen in quite a while. Definitely as good as any political movie I've ever seen, with a very moving ending (Josh says, "What's next?"). We also watched the bonus stuff, so now I have a very good appreciation for the genius of Aaron Sorkin (I didn't realize he was involved with the very good and very short-lived "Sports Night").

I wonder if we'll notice the big dropoff after Sorkin leaves the show in season 4 (?), and I wonder why he left? Anyway, it's nice to have so much more "West Wing" in front of us that will be a complete surprise.

Posted by Observer at 09:04 PM | Comments (3)

April 08, 2006

1-4

The first time through the rotation, and the Rangers are 1-4. Bleargh. Actually, if you take out R. A. Dickey's embarrassing attempt at being a knuckleball pitcher (tied a major league record giving up six homers in an appearance, and it only took 3.1 innings ... can you say batting practice?), our starters haven't been half bad. I certainly expect better tonight from our #1 guy Millwood, who wasn't good his first time around. I can see losing two of three to Boston, but if we get swept by Detroit, then Cap'n, she's gonna blow.

I'm excited by Padilla's fine first outing, and Kameron Loe is light years better than what he looked like last season. Too bad Eaton went down, or we'd have a very solid one through four in the rotation, and Kornoka wasn't just awful last night as the 5th starter (and we have other options). Now the offense has to get going. I've been optimistic, thinking we have a shot if five or six guys have career years. On the other hand, if meltdowns (like Wilkerson at the top of the order who is already collecting 0-for-5's like they were state quarters) occur across the board, we'll be downright Mariner-like.

Update: Make that 1-5. Detroit's starter showed Texas how a real #1 starter pitches, and Millwood was marginal. He allowed four runs in the first inning, and Texas couldn't get anything going, losing 7-0. We have to beat Kenny Rogers tomorrow to avoid a sweep, and he's always good at the Ballpark in Arlington. Plus Pudge will be catching for him tomorrow, the same pair that pitched a perfect game here way back when, just playing for a different team.

Posted by Observer at 06:30 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2006

IOKIYAR

Via The Sideshow comes a flashback to this story from 1998. I'm sure you must remember the media uproar, how it was in the headlines for days, dominating news talk shows and radio talk shows, right?

In the annals of congressional arrogance, Barr is a repeat offender. In 1998, The New York Times reported an incident in which Barr slapped a female security guard at the airport, after which his wife summarized her view of airport security: "They were all from other countries, and they were talking about me in their language...I thought, 'Hey, this is my country.'"

Maybe I need my memory refreshed, because I don't remember Congress proposing a resolution praising security guards at airports in the wake of this incident. Phoenix Woman over at Kos has more on this sort of thing by Barr, which just shows the rules we live by today: It's Ok If You're A Republican!

Got a mistress you want to have over to the White House (or the governor's house)? Drug addiction? Sexual Harassment? Hunting (and Shooting) While Drunk? Want to tell the cops to come back tomorrow and you'll be ready for questioning? Shoplifting or petty theft? IOKIYAR!.

Posted by Observer at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2006

Narnia

We got "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" on DVD from Netflix and watched it with the kids tonight. I vaguely remember reading and enjoying those books as a kid, but not nearly as much as Tolkien. It's hard to watch a movie like that without thinking it is a pale shadow of "Lord of the Rings", even though I am pretty sure Narnia was written first. I don't think either author really took from the other significantly, regardless, since Lewis was telling a Christian parable while Tolkien was delving into a far larger pantheon of legends for his story).

I also thought that Peter Jackson did a great job with LOTR, keeping it flowing continuously, with no abrupt changes that needed lots of explaining or made you frown. He compacted the book (along with his writing team, of course) very well. I didn't feel that the Narnia movie was nearly as good on that count, and it was almost as long. Hell, the Harry Potter movies do a better job, for that matter, and they're more fun.

I certainly wasn't moved to go see any future installments in the theater, but I'll probably watch them with the kids out of curiosity when they come out on DVD. Not really something I want to own, though the kids might like to get it for their birthday, maybe one of them. I just hope the next Narnia movie gets a better writing team to adapt the book.

Posted by Observer at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2006

Outta Control

Several liberal bloggers have noticed with dismay that this Cynthia McKinney story is getting way too much attention. McKinney is a black woman and member of the House of Representatives. She walked past a security checkpoint the other day, and the security guard didn't see her pass (a pin they wear that enables all members to skip the security lines). He called to her, but she was in a hurry and didn't hear him, so he ran after her. When he grabbed her by the arm, she whacked him with her purse or something.

She didn't like the guy grabbing her, and she wondered if she had been a white male dressed in a business suit, if the treatment would've been the same. The ConservaBorg love to push this story because it feeds their base so well. Uppity black lashing out at authority who is only there to help and protect them, oh the irony. Good for many hours of hate radio, and so they're pushing this story out and the traditional media is picking it up as well because that's just what they do, instead of oh, I don't know, covering the resignation of the House Majority Leader, one of the most powerful and influential Republicans over the past decade or, you know, the big fat war we have going on where we keep losing our soldiers and the country keeps sliding deeper into chaos. Those crazy "liberals"!

A good Kos diary puts things into perspective with a Mark Twain twist:

So Jim and me is sailing down the Mississippi on our raft, just tryin to get away from the world. But we got this new thing now, it's call this sat - a - lights dish and it keep brining to world to us. Jim, he is always watching the thing. I don't know why. I would rather fish maybe.

So Jim, he calls me over, he says, "Huck, what you think of this?"

And I stare at the sat - a -light for a whiles and I says to Jim, "Those people, they must not got much to talk about. A Nigra woman hits some man - even if he got a badge. Why they put that on the sat - a - light like that Jim?"

Jim, he shakes his head, "I know that Cynthia girl, yeah too well. She some crazy Nigra woman. But I got to tell you, I'm thinking that ain't why they put it on the sat - a - light. They don't care none about Cynthia."

"Well then what?" I ask, cause I can tell old Jim, he's bout to pontificate.

"You gots a Nigra woman here, hitting a white man. They don't allow that, nuh-uh boy. You don't know that, you don't survive so long in Georgia."

I takes out my corn cob and put in some fine tobacco, cause I can tell me and Jim, we is gonna have one of them philosophical discussions. "This Nigra girl come from Georgia then. Why she do it you think."

"Cause her momma taught her," Jim says, as if it weren't nothing.

I almost spit out my first puff. "Momma told her? You just telling me that brings problems. You saying her momma want her to have problems."

Jim shrugged. "Cynthia's a Nigra already got some problems. But lookie here, any momma of a Nigra is going to tell he little girl, some white man grab you - then girl you got two choices. You hit back right then - or you gonna have nine pounds coffee with cream in jus' nine months - that's God's word."

Well this was too much, even from Jim. "You think this Cynthia, she scared she going to have a baby from this policeman."

Jim shook his head like I don't know nothing. "It gets to be what they call in - grained." He pointed to his head. "Sometimes you got to fear everything, cause when you don't you jus' don't know what to fear."

I take a couple of puff on my pipe. "Still I think maybe it was jus' a slow news day."

Jim laughs at me now. "Oh no, oh now Huck, one of the big days I can remember. They got this man named DeLay, who more or less one of the men control this here whole country. He saying he ain't gonna do it no more. He saying he gonna be with God now."

"He gonna die?" I ask.

"No, he gonna pray," Jim says.

"Well why he gonna pray to be with God?" I ask, "if he been controlling this whole country."

"Well turns out this powerful man, and he so powerful, he jus' a con man, like the Duke. But even worse. He ain't stealin from no widows, he stealin' from everybody, Lordy you don't know."

Well now I was confused and thinking Jim was having some of his fun with me. "Then how he gonna be with God. Even the Duke he knows God ain't gonna have much to do with him for quite a spell."

"He says he does it all for God," Jim says.

Well I scratch my head at this. "That some story there Jim. Why ain't that on the sat - a - light. I think I even stop fishing to watch that story. Why they talking about this Cynthia?"

"I done told you Huck," Jim says, "A Nigra woman hits a white man."

"I jus' don't understand the sat - a - light, now just one bit." And I got no other choice but to go back fishing.

Posted by Observer at 01:04 PM | Comments (3)

April 04, 2006

Buh-Bye

Bye, Tom. Of course, it is always nice to see an ass like this pass another milestone on his way to federal prison, but Tom DeLay is just gonna get replaced by someone just as bad as long as Republicans are in power. With any luck, the coming months will reveal more of what DeLay has been doing with the rest of the corrupt Republicans in Congress and enable us to do a little Congressional house cleaning in November.

That's about the only thing that's keeping me interested in politics nowadays when all hope seems lost: the dream of subpoena power.

Posted by Observer at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2006

Cool As Hell

I had the occasion to look at Rate My Professor today because I was in a committee meeting where we were talking about online course evaluations. Anyway, some student apparently put up a recent comment about me where he gave me a pretty low rating (that I'm actually very happy with).

He said I'm "cool as hell", but that my class is "rediculously hard" because if you don't go to class you are screwed because you can't find what you need by just reading the textbook, so you should definitely avoid this class.

I wonder if this student realizes that is PRECISELY the point.

Posted by Observer at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)

Up $140

Though it was a Sunday night and I knew I had classes lined up for today, I was done with a weekend's worth of exam grading and hadn't been in a few months (since the Xmas holiday, I think), I figured it was time to try my hand at my brother's $1/$2 blind no-limit hold 'em group. Last time, this Irish guy, Tony, had me pretty well pegged by the end of the night. He was reading all my hands pretty close, and I knew I was playing too tight, only waiting for aces and flushes and the like.

So tonight I was resolved to call and see at least one flop a round with junky hands (i.e. 10-8 suited, 6-7 unsuited) just for the implied odds if I got a 10-10-8 or 4-5-8 flop. I almost didn't get to use my strategy, though. I bought in for $80, and within the first two rounds, I had lost half my stack. I called a couple of pre-flop raises of around $10 when I had pocket pairs and there were five or more others in the pot, but trips didn't hit, so I folded. And I chased a K-Q unsuited until an Ace came on the turn, so I had to go away (there were 10 or 11 at the table at any given time, so tight play was warranted).

Pretty soon, I'm down to about $35 and looking down at A-J unsuited in early position. I got in cheap and the flop came up Ace-blank-blank. I checked it, and the guy to my left put me all-in. With only one other caller, I figured what the hell and called (this is where the willingness to rebuy saved me when previously I would've been very crippled, having to fold without the nuts just to stick around a while longer). Well, the original bet (to my left) was trying to bluff me out, and the caller to my right was chasing a straight that didn't happen, so I tripled up plus a little bit extra.

Two hands later, I won a good-sized pot with a nut flush, then another decent pot when I stuck around cheaply until I hit a gut-shot straight draw on the turn with a junk hand (my strategy paid off there, because my brother and the Irish guy were looking at me like an alien when I showed them I stayed in for so long with a 10-6 suited). I went from having $35 in front of me to over $300.

For the next few hours, I played cautiously, fluctuating between about $240-$320. Around midnight, I was getting tired, and the money was really flying around the table. These guys, some of them, drink while they play, and they loosen up as the game goes on. I figured I would just sit back and wait for the nuts and see if I could make someone pay me. If I didn't get the nuts, I'd be happy to sit on my $300 for the rest of the night.

But then two hands in a row cost me about $140. I had pocket tens, saw a cheap flop, which was all undercards. The turn was another blank, then the river was a queen. I was stupid to bet, and my brother made me pay to see his queen. I should've known he wouldn't try to bluff me and the other guy who was staying in (who by this time had an enormous stack and was playing pretty loose, calling lots of stuff), but I paid him off. Poker does weird things to your mind, because I *knew* he had a queen. I don't know why I called him, but it cost me $50.

Then the next flop comes and I have Q-10 offsuit, and the flop gives me two pair. So I bet $20. The turn helps no one, and I bet another $20. Only three people left (including the rich, loose, drunk caller across from me). The river is a jack, and I bet another $40 figuring I was good. The guy across from me called, and I think he was as surprised as I was when he turned over a straight which he had filled in with the river card (9-10-J-Q-K). Those two hands took me down from about $300 to $160. I came back with a couple of small wins later and finished the night with $200, up $120. So my total over three poker nights is that I'm up $140.

It was a long night. We normally quit at around midnight, but the guys wanted to play later because of some daylight savings time drunk rationalization, and who am I to say no? So, ok, we played until shortly after 1am when me and another guy said we needed to go. From the sound of it, I think a lot of them wanted to play until 230am or later. I could barely prop my eyes open on the long drive home, nearly half an hour from my brother's house.

Posted by Observer at 10:08 AM | Comments (1)

April 02, 2006

Good News, Bad News

The good news is that one of my students doubled his score from the first exam to the second exam. The bad news is that the score on the first exam was only EIGHT (out of 100).

Posted by Observer at 04:12 PM | Comments (2)

The Good Book

The best thing about having my own copy of Baseball Prospectus is that I get to read up on the full details, instantly, of any trade. Texas gets a couple of scraggly pitchers in return for a head-case who could've been a reliable starter, and I get to find out immediately how they've done and objectively what to expect (instead of the local paper which isn't so good on objectivity and is written mostly by what I consider out-of-date baseball minds who talk about stuff like "chemistry" and "clutch hitting" and all those old myths).

Yesterday, one of my favorite players from last year, David Dellucci, got traded to another pitcher, and I was kinda bummed out, but now that I read BP on this new guy Tejeda, I'm a lot happier. Texas did what it needs to do more off, which is trade surplus hitting (especially coming off a good year and bound to regress like Dellucci) for pitching. Now we have a few candidates to step into the rotation and develop.

I also like to read their take on the division rivals. It's very nice to have a realistic picture going into the season of where we stand.

Here's hoping that Brad Wilkerson is in Center, Laynce Nix is in left and Kevin Mench is in right to start the season in the outfield. And here's hoping our only obvious choice for DH left, Phil Nevin, either surprises the hell out of everyone and has a decent year or gets hurt or demoted early. We have a chance for a great offense and decent defense this year, and I'm optimistic about the pitching if we can stay in it until Eaton comes back from his finger injury. Not that Eaton is great, but I trust him more than I trust the six or seven guys we now have competing for the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation.

Posted by Observer at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

How to Catch Feebas II

One old entry in my archive gets more hits from search engines than maybe all the other entries combined, and it's the one about how to catch the rare Pokemon called Feebas. I thought I would update that with a more complete, easy to follow guide here because I only mentioned it in passing in that old entry, and I get at least one email a week asking for more details (DELETE, DELETE, DELETE).

Perhaps this will help some other parent out there who wants to be a hero to their Pokemon-loving kid, so here you go:

1) You'll need to go to route 119 in Ruby, Sapphire or Emerald, the South end of the water, with a Pokemon capable of "Surf" and any rod (old rod is preferable).

2) The water, like the land, is divided up into grid squares. You need to establish a search pattern. I surfed over to the bottom-most water square in the SE (bottom left) corner and started working my way up from there in a zig-zag pattern.

3) At each square, you will want to fish successfully at least five times (you have about a 50%-75% chance per try to catch Feebas if he exists in that square). If you don't get a Feebas on the hook any of those five times, move to the next square.

4) Feebas can only be found in six random squares on the map. You will probably find Feebas in at least one of the squares you can get to in the south end of the water (there are over 100 squares there, I think), but if you can't, move past the rocks and check the areas further north.

5) As you search, use landmarks to identify which squares you've already covered. Be smart about your search pattern so you don't waste time searching squares you looked at before. It is best to allow yourself a couple of hours of continuous play.

6) Be sure to remember which square you catch Feebas in. You want to catch a female Feebas so you can breed it, and you want a Feebas with certain personality characteristics so that you can more easily feed it the Pokeblocks necessary to evolve it to Milotic.

7) Be sure to only feed your Feebas high-level pokeblocks (preferably mixed with the help of a master using rare berries) because you can only feed a Feebas so many pokeblocks before it won't take any more. If you don't max out its beauty with that set number of pokeblocks, you'll be stuck at a dead end and will have to start over with another one.

Parenting makes you do weird stuff, you know?

Posted by Observer at 12:01 PM | Comments (56)

April 01, 2006

Already Bad

You'd like to at least enjoy the first week of the baseball season, thinking you've got a chance. But then your #2 starter goes down with a weird finger injury for a few months and a promising young guy who was going to at least be a #5 starter and a good long-guy out of the bullpen gets traded to a division rival for a bag of magic beans. The blogs in the baseball portion of the sidebar have a lot more on this, if you're interested.

I guess there's an outside chance one of those beans will sprout into a half-decent pitcher, but that's about a snowball's chance in hell. Our starting pitching has been pretty horrible during spring training, but the bullpen hasn't been too bad. The offense has been good. But it still remains that we're going to have to avoid any other major injury problems *and* get career years out of five or more guys to be competitive with the Oaklands of the world.

At this point, I'd settle for us being within a few games at the All-Star Break, just so I can hope for a while.

Posted by Observer at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)

Ignored

Kevin Drum, among others, points out another story that puts the lie to the idea that the media is somehow liberal. They're just damned lazy and don't seem to care about how we got into this war in the first place:

As Bob Somerby and Peter Daou and Media Matters have all pointed out, it really is remarkable how little attention the confirmation of David Manning's explosive prewar memo has gotten in the past week. Here's what the New York Times reported on Monday:

During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second [UN] resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons...."The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."

And this is in addition to the news that Bush was brainstorming ideas for deliberately provoking a war since it didn't appear that Saddam Hussein had any actual WMD to give him a legitimate reason for invasion.

And yet as near as I can tell from a search of both Nexis and Google News, a grand total of about a dozen U.S. newspapers bothered to even report this. This is despite the fact that Manning was Tony Blair's chief foreign policy advisor, the Times reviewed an actual copy of the memo, and two "senior British officials" confirmed its authenticity. What's more, the conversation between Bush and Blair took place on January 31, 2003, which means that Bush was flatly lying for six consecutive weeks when he pretended that war could be averted if only Saddam Hussein would cooperate with UN inspectors.

Is the "collective yawn" from the media because everyone figures this is old news? Because it comes from a competitor and no one wants to credit them? Because no one really cares anymore?

Or are we now so jaded by the relentless mendacity of the Bush administration that high level lying just isn't worth reporting these days? What other explanation is there for this not being front page news in Los Angeles and Washington DC as well as New York?

I think the news media won't report any major story critical of Bush unless there is some kind of public welling up of outrage or at the very least an exciting, dramatic current event that is a hook for the story. They figure unless Bush gets up in front of a podium and wags his finger at America, saying he didn't lie about this war, that no one will pay attention to this story except those who are always looking for excuses to complain about bias.

Posted by Observer at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)