Thursday, December 27, 2007

US Weekly Update

On holiday break - we'll get a double week of scoring early next week.

Don't you all wish you had picked Jamie Lynn?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Pre-Christmas Cute

Like little blond monkeys.

The Wire

We started watching "The Wire" (Season 1), recently. I've heard nothing but glowing reviews about this show, and since I grew up slinging crack in the 'hood with my homeys, I thought I'd check it out. (Editors note: for "slinging crack" read "feeding chickens", for " 'hood" read "barren tundra of central Wisconsin", and for "homeys" read "dog").

Quick premise of the show: good cop with bad attitude gets special assignment to take down new-style drug lord who runs a tight crew and so far hasn't been caught for anything. Wait, that's the plot of American Gangster. Well, this is the T.V. version, with different names and fewer afros.

So far, the show is good. Not as great as the reviews made it out to be, but to be fair, I've been told that it's the second season that really shines. I was thinking about the show, though, and I think the #1 element that makes the show good is the language. The dialogue is snappy - not quite up to 'West Wing' standards for both speed and wit, but high quality nonetheless. But more than the dialogue, what really stands out is the artful use of foul language.

This is not just curse-word carpet-bombing (e.g. Sam Kinnison). This is swearing that just ripples out in the normal course of conversation. You've got to believe that these cops and drug dealers really do talk like this. Why do you believe? Because you talk like that. They swear at the right times, with the right inflections. They swear because they're not supposed to be literature majors, but cops and drug dealers.

There is a scene in one of the first episodes where McNulty and Bunk (the irascible cop and his smooth partner) visit a crime scene to recreate what happened. The scene takes maybe 5 minutes. At about the 2 minute mark, Kirstin and I realize that the only words spoken so far in the scene have been f*$& or some variant thereof. We lean forward, expectantly, like we're watching someone walk a tightrope. "Can they do it? Can they make it through?" And for the next three minutes, these two cops say nothing but f#*$ and the myriad permutations of f&^@ that you all know and love. Five straight minutes. They never raised their voices. The best part was that in the context of the scene, "f@&$" was always the exact right word. Brilliant.

This whole experience makes me realize how much I enjoy a good curse. I mean, when applied correctly, a swear word can be a thing of art. If you swear too much, it's crude. If you don't swear at all, then you've got something shoved too far up there.

At this point my Mom is shaking her head and wondering how I ended up this way. I'm sure my potty mouth has got to be on her top five list of things she wishes she could have changed in my youth.* She had no chance, of course (have you met my dad?). But never underestimate the power of the Iron Law of Motherhood: "I you can find a way to blame yourself, do so." **

So rather than continuing to ramble on about my particular fondness for a well-crafted f-bomb, let me wrap up by saying:

Happy F-ing Holidays

* The others, FYI, are (in no particular order): not liking vegetables, not going to church, not tucking in my shirt, and an inability to repress sarcasm.
** The Iron Law of Fatherhood, in contrast, reads: "Keep your children out of jail and/or strip clubs as much as possible."

Michigan Mountaineers

Now that we have West Virginia's old basketball coach AND football coach, I thought you might like to see what the words to "The Victors" will look like next year (It's "The Victors", NOT "Hail to the Victors". The former is the title, the latter is a line from the song.):

Let's give a rah for West Virginia
And let us pledge to her anew,
Others may be black or crimson,
but for us it's Gold and Blue.
Let all our troubles be forgotten,
Let college spirit rule,
We'll join and give our loyal efforts
For the good of our old school.

It's West Virginia, It's West Virginia
The Pride of every Mountaineer.
Come on you old grads, join with us young lads,
It's West Virginia now we cheer!
Now is the time, boys, to make a big noise
No matter what the people say,
For there is naught to fear; the gang's all here,
So hail to West Virginia, Hail!

So at least their colors are pretty close to Maize and Blue.

No word yet on whether the WVU lacrosse coach will be replacing Red behind the bench for the hockey team next season. Incidentally, we remain #1 in the CCHA at 11-1 in conference, 16-2 overall. Somehow we managed to get bumped to #2 nationally this week after being #1 last week. By Miami, no less, a team with a worse conference record. This freshman class continues to impress: they still occupy positions 3-7 on the team in scoring. Not to leave the old boys out, let's not forget that Kevin Porter (Sr.) leads the nation in scoring with 18-11-29.

Go Blue (and hope that Florida's bus explodes on the way to the bowl game).

Because you're not lazy enough..

This should use up those extra 10 minutes a day that you actually do work.

Tower Defense

It's like Tetris, but kind of like Centipede. Dangerous stuff. My advice if you decide to play: don't build lots of weapons - build a few and then upgrade them like crazy.

You were warned.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

US Weekly Update

Happy Holidays, I'm still kicking all your butts. Here's the latest round of scores:

This Week:
1. The Boob Jobs (53)
2. Ocean's Fifteen (45)
3. F-ing French (42)
4. Dina Lohan's Playgroup (41)
Fourteen Freaks and Kid (41)

December Total:
1. The Boob Jobs (86)
2. F-ing French (77)
3. Dina Lohan's Playgroup (72)
Los Chulos y Las Putas (72)
5. Ocean's Fifteen (67)

Season Total:
1. The Boob Jobs (131)
2. F-ing French (116)
3. Dina Lohan's Playgroup (110)
4. The Good, The Bad, and the Fugly (103)
5. Los Chulos y Las Putas (102)
Ocean's Fifteen (102)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Huh? Part Deux

"In a news story Friday (”Spectrum holds Condom Olympics to educate on safe sex,” page 3), it was incorrectly stated due to a reporting error that health and wellness educator Beth Grampetro and Tim Hegan, an ORL area director, said Fruit Roll-Ups are adequate protection against STDs. No health officials said or advocated this use at the Condom Olympics. The Daily Free Press apologizes for the confusion."

Link here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Steroid Report

So I'm finding myself unable to get into any kind of uproar over the Mitchell steroid report. Granted, a lot of this report refers to users who are now out of baseball, so there really are only two "sexy" names named: Clemens and Petitte. Now, I think Clemens is a d-bag of the nth degree, and Petitte seems like an overrated mercenary to me, but I don't find the revelation that they used steroids as particularly offensive. Perhaps this is because part of me wants to say, "well, duh."

However, I think I'm just not bothered by the steroid "scandal" because I don't see it as being fundamentally any different from a host of legal medical techniques that are used to prolong seasons and careers. The issue with steroids (or HGH) is that it is performance-enhancing. How do they enhance performance? By repairing muscle at a faster rate than one would achieve without them. So when you work out, you rebuild muscle faster. When you are injured, you rebuild faster. What these drugs do is make your body capable of something that it would not naturally be capable of.

How does this differ from Tommy John surgery? When Kerry Wood blew out his elbow, it meant that he was not naturally capable of throwing curveballs at 90 miles an hour. Should he have quit? No, he had surgery to put a cadaver's tendon into his elbow, and a year later he could pitch again. This is not "natural". He's got a dead guy's tendon in his elbow - not his own. His body basically said, "I can't do this", and he used modern medical innovations to override this signal. Isn't this what steroids are for? Overriding your body's natural signals?

I just can't get up any anger at guys using steroids. They're going to die young, probably with massive complications and a scrotum the size of a Peanut M&M. But that's their problem, not mine.

(And don't give me this "bad example for the kids" crap. If my kids are taking cues from professional athletes on what is right and wrong, then I failed as a parent a long time ago.)


This made my head hurt. From the Guardian:

"We misspelled the word misspelled twice, as mispelled, in the Corrections and clarifications column on September 26, page 30."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My Kids are Mutants


"Ten thousand years ago, no one on planet Earth had blue eyes," Hawks notes, because that gene—OCA2—had not yet developed. "We are different from people who lived only 400 generations ago in ways that are very obvious; that you can see with your eyes."

According to these guys, the pace of evolutionary change has accelerated over the last 10,000 years since the agricultural revolution. We're acquiring mutations (like blue eyes) faster than we did previously - a lot faster. Between 10 and 100 times faster.

I'm pretty excited to see if my grandkids have four legs. Sweet.

Amazon Humor

So you thought I had lots of free time on my hands. These are comments left on Amazon for "Tuscan Whole Milk" - there are 97 total pages of comments!

"Horrible service, I bought my milk and went with the 7-9 day super saver shipping method and it arrived warm and curdled. What the hell?"

"One should not be intimidated by Tuscan Whole Milk. Nor should one prejudge, despite the fact that Tuscan is non-vintage and comes in such large containers. Do not be fooled: this is not a jug milk. I always find it important to taste milk using high-quality stemware -- this is milk deserving of something better than a Flintstones plastic tumbler. One should pour just a small dollop and swirl it in the glass -- note the coating and look for clots or discoloration. And the color -- it should be opaque, and very, very white. "

"This milk worked well when I first got it, but within a few days it wouldn't hold a charge. I called their customer service department and, I don't know if it's in Bangalor or Ireland, but I couldn't understand a word that they said and they began to scream at me. Finally, though, they sent me another one - but that wouldn't hold a charge, either. I'm beginning to wonder if this is truly meant to be a portable product. I still haven't been able to retreive my email and the video is murky. "

" Has anyone else tried pouring this stuff over dry cereal? A-W-E-S-O-M-E!"

"On the nose this milk is exceptionally elegant. Dominant floral notes (mint and white flowers) mingle with hints of fresh fruit (citrus fruits, fresh almonds). As it undergoes aeration, riper notes of vanilla and nougat come to the fore, giving a pleasant roundness to the milk. At this stage a typical whole milk characteristic, crisp elegance, clearly prevails over aromatic strength."

These comments are for "Bic Pens":
"Upon receiving my order, I carefully opened the box and dug through the packing peanuts in order to get to the pen contained therein. 'Beautiful!', I thought, and promptly opened up my moleskine notebook to jot down to myself some notes. My previous pen had ran out of ink four weeks prior and I didn't want to splurge on expensive shipping, which meant I had a lot of notes to catch up on writing."

"And I can conclusively declare that these pens are the PERFECT (the ***PERFECT***) thing to use for spooling cooked linguini for storage purposes."

"Very good if you need to write on paper"

No-Good Teenager Cute

Abby and Maddie hanging outside of Kinko's with some friends, looking to bum cigarettes. Deadbeats.

Academic Angst

I recently received a "revise and resubmit" from The Review of Economic Studies for a paper that is authored with my grad school advisor and another economist. It's a great journal, and I'm quite happy to be close to publishing in it. However, this is now the 3rd round of revisions requested by said journal. A brief scan of my hard drive shows drafts of this paper with the following dates:


So that's three and a half years of drafts for those of you scoring at home. I started working on this project in grad school, just as my fourth year had ended. One year of grad school, and now two and half years at UH, and I'm STILL revising this f$*#(-ing paper.

If this ever gets published I may have a bonfire party and burn that part of my hard drive.

How to Invest

There is a great article by Michael Lewis on the efficient market hypothesis - the idea that financial markets are so good that you can't actually beat the market. (I can't find it online anywhere) I'd summarize it, but this blog by Megan McArdle has already done so in a much pithier manner than I am capable of:

"Lewis completely glosses over distinctions between various forms of the efficient markets hypothesis, bizarrely simplifies arguments about the various premia on asset classes (those looking for a solution to this riddle might start with the word "liquidity"), and tells a suspiciously pat morality tale about a stock-jammer-turned-sainted-investment-advisor. But he gets the big thing right. The world would be a better place if we all took home the point of his sermon:

You can't beat the market. YOU can't beat the market. YOU CAN'T BEAT THE MARKET.

It doesn't matter which version of the EMH (efficient market hypothesis) is correct. It doesn't matter if the behavioral finance guys are correct. You--adorable, clever, hardworking little you--are mathematically just as likely to underperform the market as outperform it. You would do better to go to Vegas and sit down at the $25 blackjack table with a firm resolve to walk away as soon as probability has varied a few hundred dollars in your favor."

McArdle concludes with the essential investing advice that any sane economist should give you:

"You can't beat the market, and neither can the jerk on the phone trying to sell you stocks. Put your money in the broadest possible index fund (being young and having no children, I'm all equity with a 70/30 split between domestic and international; your mileage may vary). Then leave it there. Don't even peek. Throw the statements away unopened. Rebalance once a year to keep your money at your target allocation, and otherwise don't think about it. If you want the thrill of gambling, go to Vegas. At least they'll give you free drinks."

Monday, December 10, 2007

US Weekly Update

A new month begins with Halle Berry racing up the charts thanks to having had tons of plastic surgery. If only someone had Scarlett Johansson, they could have racked up 10 points from the cover this week. Scoring note: Katie Holmes has 5 points this week, not 6. In one of her pictures with Tom, she's facing away from the camera, and we can't see her face - no point.

Top 5 for the Week, and for December:
1. F-ing French (35)
Los Chulos y Las Putas (35)
3. The Boob Jobs (33)
4. Dina Lohan's Playgroup (31)
5. The Good, The Bad, and the Fugly (29)

Top 5 for the Season:
1. The Boob Jobs (78)
2. F-ing French (74)
3. Dina Lohan's Playgroup (69)
The Good, The Bad, and the Fugly (69)
5. Los Chulos y Las Putas (65)

Still lots of time left before the Oscars. Tell your friends and enemies to get their lists in.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mental Housekeeping

Crap you might find cool:

1. Strange maps. This blog posts some new weird map pretty much every day. One could waste a lot of time (not me, of course, but some hypothetical procrastinator) on this website. Scroll down a few days for the map of the prevalence of blond hair in Europe. Useless, but interesting.

2. The Hamlet text adventure. Old school computer adventure game. And when I say old school I mean OLD school. Like type "look book" to look at a book, or "north" to go north. No graphics at all. This could have run on the PET computer we had in 4th grade. Love it. Helps if you remember at least some of the plot of Hamlet, and Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet, and Othello...

3. It's like they're really talking:

Sick? Not so cute

I know that they're cute in their little dresses (see a couple posts below), but give Maddie a sinus infection, a fever, and an inability to breathe, and this is what you get.

Random Sports

A few things to get off my mind and onto the web-o-net:

1. Michigan hockey continues to look very good. Big wins around Thanksgiving versus Wisconsin and Minnesota. I'm willing to forgive the hiccup against Ohio State the following week, where we split with the Buckeyes. My boy Louie Caporusso has quited down lately, and has missed some games (can't get any info on whether this is injury or Red's decision). But freshman continue to be big contributors. Palushaj, Pacioretty, Langlais, Rust, and Hagelin are 3-7 in team scoring. Bryan Hogan got a start vs OSU, after having mono for the first two months of the season, and scored a W.

2. Who in the Michigan athletic department agreed to play Florida in the Capital One Bowl? Isn't this just the Oregon game all over again, except with more speed and a better quarterback? I want to believe, but yikes.

3. College football - doesn't this crap-ass LSU/Ohio State match-up make the case for a real playoff? How can you tell me Oklahoma, or USC, aren't really deserving of those spots? What about Virginia Tech? Aren't they a different team than lost to LSU early in the season? Here's the 1st round matchups of my mythical 16-team playoff, based on the BCS rankings
  1. Ohio State (1) vs. Tennessee (16) - the battle of the loudest stadium in America
  2. LSU (2) vs. Clemson (15) - not a bad game either
  3. Virginia Tech (3) vs. BC (14) - you might want to shake this up to avoid their 3rd meeting
  4. Oklahoma (4) vs. Illinois (13) - also not a bad basketball game
  5. Georgia (5) vs. Florida (12) - the world's extra-largest cocktail party?
  6. Missouri (6) vs. Arizona State (11) - wasn't this a Final Four game from like 1986?
  7. USC (7) vs. Hawaii (10) - probably 42-0 in USC's favor, but whatever
  8. Kansas (8) vs. West Virginia (9) - uh, okay, I wouldn't watch this either
Let's assume the higher seeds win each game, then your final 8 looks like this
  1. Ohio State (1) vs. Kansas (8) - alright, still boring
  2. LSU(2) vs. USC (7) - now we're talking
  3. Virginia Tech (3) vs. Missouri (6) - can Chase Daniel handle that D?
  4. Oklahoma (4) vs. Georgia (5) - TOP quality game
From there, who knows, but isn't this a lot better than what we're going to get anyway?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Overdue Cute

Thanks to GG for the cute dresses.

US Weekly Update

This weeks standings:

1. Papa Razzies (22)
2. Dina Lohan's Playgroup (20)
F-ing French (20)
The Boob Jobs (20)
5. Fourteen Freaks and Baby (19)

Month (November)
1. The Boob Jobs (45)
2. The Good, The Bad, and the Fugly (40)
3. F-ing French (39)
4. Dina Lohan's Playgroup (38)
5. Ocean's Fifteen (35)

J.D. (Papa Razzies) scores big in his first week in the pool, but as always, my own celebrity radar is spot on. For your own celebrity edification, here are the top scorers so far:

1. Vanessa Minillo (10)
2. Lauren Conrad (6)
Lindsay Lohan (6)
4. Jessica Alba (5)
Victoria Beckham (5)
Carrie Underwood (5)