Thursday, November 30, 2006

general updates

We're two days from December and it was 60 degrees outside yesterday. Who is Michigan trying to fool? These weeks have provided just the right mix of unseasonable highs with soul-mangling lows. Friday's high is going to be 36; Monday's is 31. Michigan is a walking ghost.

The walking ghost phase:
The walking ghost, or latent, phase of radiation poisoning is a period of apparent health, lasting for hours or days, following a dose of 10-50 sieverts of radiation. As its name would suggest, the walking ghost phase is followed by certain death.


Facebook (the malevolent timesucker into which I've stopped importing this blog) released a Firefox toolbar, putting one less step between me and stalking. The News Feed thing meant I didn't have to check friends' profiles directly to find out about them; now I don't even need to have the damn site open. Do I really need a popup message to tell me that some girl I was friends with in middle school changed her "status" to "is looking forward to winter!"? Absolutely not.

Great quotes from the U-M football bust. Lamarr Woodley and Lloyd, respectively:

"I ain't cocky when I say this, just confident: The team that we play next will lose."

"When we play that game on New Year's Day or the 8th or whatever it may be ... we don't care. We're gonna be there and we're gonna play like hell and we're going to be doing our damnedest to make you happy."


Make it so, number three. Make it so. Please?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The war in Iraq has lasted 1,348 days, two days longer than America's involvement in World War II. Only three wars - the Civil War, the Vietnam War and the Revolutionary War - have engaged the country longer.

Monday, November 27, 2006

B-squared minus 4AC

If Notre Dame were in the Big Ten, they'd be in fourth place, heading to the Outback or Champs Sports bowl. Instead they get a $10-million BCS bid and we continue to subsidize their program.

In their last 13 games the Irish have lost to the current top three teams by an average of 20 points (Michigan by 26, USC by 20 and Ohio State in last year's Fiesta Bowl by 14) and did not threaten to win any of those games. None of the ranked teams that they beat last year finished in the top 25 and this year only one team they have defeated is ranked (Georgia Tech #22/23). Weis's claim to fame as a coach is losing to USC by 3 at home last year. Their biggest win was -- still -- over the worst Michigan team in 20 years.

~~~

I went to the "Rave" multiplex theater in Kalamazoo this weekend, and I was very impressed. Their $6 tickets are quite reasonable. The theaters are spacious (though Crossroads gets the nod for seat cushion technology). In lieu of a cheesy animation, the turn off your cell phones announcement was delivered in person by an employee who was our "host for the evening." The bathrooms and ancillary concession stands were right outside the theater. The pre-show entertainment was good 'ol Coke trivia, and there were no television commercials before the previews! For once I didn't feel like setting fire to the theater before the show began! The popcorn was good and we were greeted upon our exit by several employees genuinely inquiring how well we enjoyed everything (probably corporate PR staff still taking early exit polls).

Digital projection is incredible. Although the contrast ratios and color saturation made me feel like I was watching an enormous HDTV, it was incredibly bright and clear. Until now, we've been watching movies in a fog.

The movie itself was good too. A nice new direction for the 007 franchise.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Everyone is special, Dash

CNN chimes in on grade inflation with a story where a student involved in 3 AP classes with a 3.7 GPA is ranked around 260th out of his class of 540.

High schools and colleges suffer from the same problems as college football -- with no standard of regular-season rigor and wafer-thin resumes, they trumpet their relative successes and claim more than they deserve.

Solutions become clearer when college applications take into account some of the factors that BCS polls do, like strength of schedule. The kid who has a 4.4 because he aced Health, Gym, and English (sans AP) is the equivalent of a 9-0 Rutgers wanting a shot at the National Championship.

And now, monsieur, Wisconsin's schedule.

The SAT, the BCS poll of high school seniors, is right now the best way of levelling the playing field. Otherwise every Joe Sixpack with a coddling, nurturing, NCLB-pandering schedule would be upset when their 5.4 GPA and 1150 SAT don't get them into Harvard.

But admissions officers, like college football fans and coaches, wish they didn't have to rely so much on its flawed logic and unfair rhetoric. Maybe high schools, like college football, will find their equivalent of a playoff system to determine the true champions.

Football allegory aside, some of these sissification problems can be traced back even earlier, all the way to the elementary school level. We've have a new generation of kids whose elementary schools practice social promotion and other such craziness, like not using red pens because red makes kids feel bad or banning dodgeball because it made kids cry.

And the root cause of all that evil?

The simplification, destruction, and nerfing of playgrounds. Reduce the risk of injury and (God forbid) skinned knees and splinters, and sure the kids feel good, but have they really accomplished anything by climbing something that was explicitly designed to be easy to climb? I say no. It's the equivalent of giving them full credit because we "knew what they meant," which leads to 5.5 GPAs, which leads to a 10-1 Notre Dame wanting a piece of the national title.

It starts there. You don't even need to look inside the school. The litmus test is right there on the outside for the world to see.
The plastic playground: The I-AA team on your kid's schedule.

Clearly, that will be the basis on which I choose my kid's schools.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Loyd

So, OSU.

At least the ABC camera crane caught us at a good moment:


(Additional screencaps)

Anyway: Ugh. We should've and could've won. I'm sick of being on the losing end of the Best Game Ever (see: 2005 Rose Bowl).

The fans were par for the course; congratulatory old people did seem to outnumber the "fuck Michigan! LLLLLLLLLoyd is teh suckz0r!" crowd, but still -- do they even care that they won? Or just that we lost? Do they even like Ohio State?

A few even thought it was funny to insult the late Bo Schembechler. Any negative mention of Bo is equal to an automatic deduction of 100 IQ points and status as a sentient being, as Bo was not only an assistant coach at OSU but also received a graduate degree from there. Making such statements is a quick way to affirm your backwater hillbilly status and general incompetence.

The Game: Mike Hart is amazing. He has never let us down. He got flak for his passionate comments in the lockerroom. I don't care. He wanted to win and he still does. Our touchdown celebrations were absolute pandemonium, as it's much easier to celebrate while not holding an instrument.

The Band: OSU had a very classic-style halftime show with many recognizable shapes/sets/words as their formations. Most notably was their performance of the Titanic theme. While they played Celine Dion's song, they formed the ship, cracked, and sunk it off the edge of the field, using fire extinguishers for steam. The crowd loved it. Now, that's a really clever and unique idea, and it doesn't seem like something any other band could p--

"Michigan Daily: The Band Plays On - 10/1/1998: 'That whole thing with the band members grouping in the shape of that old sunken ship, complete with the fire extinguishers for steam, was quite creative and entertaining, and very cool.'"


TBDBITL: Stealing from the MMB since 1936.

Item: The Every Three Weekly finally got a new website up and running.

Friday, November 17, 2006

One whale of a battle

Things like this don't even happen in bad sports movies.

Less than 30 hours before kickoff of the most important Michigan-OSU game in the series' 103-year history, legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler has passed away. Tomorrow's game, for all the hype and pomp and circumstance, would not be what it is without Bo.

Before the 2004 season, Bo Schembechler gave the MMB a pep talk in the darkened stadium. His speech was inspired and passionate, and he ended it by screaming the following, which was nearly drowned out by cheers:

"YOU MUST OUTPLAY OHIO STATE!"

 


My favorite poet, Johnny of RBUAS, wrote the following this week:

"Somewhere, years from now, I may wake from sleep as a brunette’s blue eyes take the air from my lungs with a tornado stare; I may lay shirtless on warm beaches and watch fuchsia sunsets with foreign booze on my lips; I may leave footprints in Mars’ red dirt, but give me a Michigan win on Saturday and you can save your inquiries as to which moment I’ll favor."

I'll return Saturday. GO BLUE! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

AIM 6.0

AIM 6.0 came out today, and I must say I'm pretty impressed.

Features I like:
  • AIM profile pages that include information like the "member since" date. You'll see that I've stubbornly used my screenname since November 2, 1998. I've only found one person with an earlier start date.
  • Offline messaging: This is not a new feature, since ICQ has had it since 1997. It's a welcome addition though.
  • Grouped IMs (sending to multiple people at once)
  • Tabbed browsing, AIM logging, Aliasing: These are also DeadAIM and Trillian features.
  • Blogger integration! People using 6.0 will see an icon next to my name when I update this thing. There is no escape.
  • Cell phone IMing
  • Modularity: They've released plugins and are allowing developers to create more.
  • Songs in the profile: The %song tag. Not that anyone cares. An iChat import, I think.
Features I dislike:
  • The "IM catcher" window only catches new IMs. Old conversations with new IMs stay in the old window. I think. It's confusing.
  • The ad window plays loud advertisements whenever the mouse rolls over, which has happened several times by accident. This act, as well as popups that steal focus, should be a federal crime.
  • The aliases show up in quotes.

Irrational Comparison #2

Aspect #2: Library taunts.

Big Ten school book transfers are handled by a separate delivery system. The books come and go in big gray bins wrapped in padded envelopes. Naturally, UM and OSU send taunts back and forth the week of The Game. I compiled our message and we sent it yesterday, insulting their "storied" history and their plagiarized traditions:


This is what they sent yesterday: A simple message, written in Sharpie, in the handwriting of a six-year-old. A six-year-old sea cow. But it was probably someone very high up in the department who got promoted for spelling all the words correctly. Anyway:

Monday, November 13, 2006

Irrational Comparison #1

Let's begin making irrational comparisons. Hopefully this is the first of many aspects -- the "we're ready" sign.

Exhibit A:


Strong work all around. He has the important symbols of school pride (a well-drawn block M and the outlined Go Blue), proper use of the opponent's colors, and a pun suggesting how we're already looking forward. On to Exhibit B:


This pretty much speaks for itself. Note the off-center "you're," indicating that the apostrophe and R-E were very much an afterthought. The rest has your basic fourth-grade penmanship, one color, with an obvious and not clever statement. Yes, we are indeed the next team on your schedule.

It's just too easy sometimes.
(ht: mgoblog)

The Game

Have I been good this year? Is Santa coming six weeks early, and leaving me an extra stocking full of goodies? Is this really happening? Is Michigan really 11-0 and playing an 11-0 OSU?

Any good Michigan fan or bipedal OSU fan what their ideal football game is and the answer will always be an undefeated Michigan and an undefeated OSU playing for all the marbles.

By some divine providence, and the Ron English Revolution, this year we get just that.

I watched in 1991 when Desmond Howard struck the Heisman pose in the endzone to Keith Jackson's "Hello, Heisman!" call. (I remember hearing him win the trophy that year on the radio and jumping up and down even though, at 7 years old, I didn't really understand what it meant.) I watched in 1995 when Biakabutuka ran for 313 yards to defeat the then-#1 Buckeyes. I was there in 2003 when Chris Perry tripled the Buckeyes' average allowed rushing yardage en route to our last outright Big Ten championship.

The slobbery hyperbole I'd write about the game will not suffice, especially considering what already exists (and what I know will be written this week). So I'll just say that despite the memories and the great games over the years, I have never been more excited for a Michigan football game than I am for this next one. For historical nostalgia, read Michigan Football Saturdays. For statistics and highlights, read iblogforcookies. For unmatched analysis, read mgoblog. For beautifully written prose, read RBUAS. Even the athletic department's official website has an entire page dedicated to the rivalry.

In the 70.75 year history of the Associated Press, there have been 36 matchups between #1 and #2, 16 of them arranged in bowl games. Of the 20 regular season matchups, 6 took place during a 4-year stretch in the 1940s, when WWII had altered the football landscape and the same 3 or 4 teams consistently rose to the top spots in the poll.

Of the twenty regular season #1 vs. #2 games, four games have been the final game of the regular season for both teams.


Hopefully I make it through the week. Let the hype begin on the game that has been recognized by a House resolution as the greatest rivalry in the history of sports.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

G80

When Sony announced the PS3 specs, people feared that it would mark the demise of PC gaming. The PS3's Cell processor and the nVidia GPU were both outrageously powerful, and we were all left wondering when nVidia would release a GPU faster than the one in the PS3. The answer: Today.

Kudos to them for making the PS3 obsolete before it even ships.

Meanwhile, I just bought a card two months ago like a sucker. I'll just have to look the other way and convince myself to stay satisfied with my 1280x1024 performance... even though I upgraded my entire system for less than this card costs.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

it's all about blue

So the Democrats won control of the House at least. Hopefully they can use their new clout not to dwell on the past and further mudslinging, but to address important issues for the future (say, 9/11 Commission recommendations, minimum wage, student loan interest rates, and Medicare drug price negotiations, to name a few). Pelosi has already ruled out impeachment murmurs and subpoena abuse and seems to understand that any bold legislation is still subject to the veto.

An Arizona ballot measure was rejected that would have offered a lottery-like cash incentive to vote. Opponents feared it would bring people to the polls for all the wrong reasons, but really, who wouldn't want a chance at a million dollars? Especially since the chances of winning this lottery would've been higher than the regular one!

Monday, November 06, 2006

I could have walked it back by now

Looks like I'm driving to Portage and back tomorrow to vote. Sure, I could have sent in my absentee ballot application before last Monday, but I really didn't expect it to take a FULL WEEK to get sent back. Especially when the website reassures me that these requests are processed immediately.

Bryan, your uncle is still the clerk, right? I expect you to bring this up in front of everyone at the next family gathering.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

To boldly go and beat the Buckeyes

From Michigan vs. ...


That's a picture of Patrick M.F. Stewart conducting The Victors.

In a moment of scripted glory, Captain Jean-Luc Picard amended television's most famous split infinitive into the greatest order in history.

Video of the occasion is here.

Compilation video is here.

Pictures are here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Snow

Ahh, November. The worst four months of the year. This wouldn't be so bad if it hadn't been 70 degrees on Monday.

 
 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

You're the geek, Camel Breath

I did not dress up this Halloween.

However, my total dominance over all Halloween costumes in 1989 cast a shadow from which every child in the country has yet to emerge.



(HT: Mom)