Monday, January 30, 2006

Super Bowl Stuff 1: Looking at Records

First, I'll make things easier on myself and link to the official NFL Super Bowl Standings.

Admittedly it's a bit unbalanced, since it ranks the teams by winning percentages.

So I'll parse through the basic statistics to bring out some subtleties.

First, a list of the teams you WON'T see on the list after the superbowl:

Houston Texans
Jacksonville Jaguars
Cleveland Browns
New Orleans Saints
Detroit Lions
Arizona Cardinals

(The Indianapolis Colts won it once (and lost it once) as the Baltimore Colts, and The Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Titans, who made an appearance. The Seattle Seahawks won't belong on the above list by July 6, so I'm not including them on the above list now.)

The Houston Texans are too new to belong on the list, and the Jacksonville Jaguars are still new enough to have an excuse. The present incarnation of the Cleveland Browns is also pretty new, although when the Baltimore Ravens were known as the Cleveland Browns they had been unable to make it to the Super Bowl.

The New Orleans Saints have suffered from an extreme sense of frustration, as this is the team that saw the invention of the paper bagged fan and the diminuition of their nickname to "The 'Aint's". This year has been especially rough on them, with their home turf flooded and the team being locked in to where they're definitely not wanted nor needed. I can think of four places where franchise would fit in better -- Los Angeles, San Antonio and Sacramento could fit in smoothly with no muss, and Oklahoma City has proven its salt with the NBA.

Then there is the Detroit Lions; also known on this board as the Football Puddy-tats. Trust me, any team that has has trouble over nearly fifty years winning a postseason game (try a single win, with few tries to boot) is a case of a team embracing mediocrity. The fact that they moved into a SMALLER stadium (and didn't have the excuse of space that the Bears had) should point to you what they expect from their team.

So why aren't the Lie-downs the bottom of the list? Simple: they've been known as the Detroit Puddy-tats all this time -- unlike the Cardinals, who've moved from Chicago to Saint Louis to Arizona and still haven't found a way to get a championship. Curse Art Model as much as you want, but at least he got the Super Bowl Championship he always wanted.

Next Posting: Teams with a tradition of making the Super Bowl

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Illegal Weekend Update:

Just so you know, I'm getting better. Still a bit too busy for stuff, but will be back Monday.

Have had a few things to think about in the meantime. You'll hear them, as well as thoughts about the Super Bowl (the phenomenom and holiday, not this year's game).

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bleepin' Cold

I've been fighting sniffles and sneezing all day, and now it's getting in the way of me looking at the screen and writing this. I'll have to hide away until this stuff dies off.

When I'm back (after this weekend) I'll be doing some postings about the Super Bowl. Being a Football Puddy-tats fan, I don't really expect to root for my team to make it there, but there's other ways for me to root.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New Orleans Was Known About!

White House Was Told Hurricane Posed Danger

Strange that everyone knew what was coming, but nothing was done about it until it was too late. And even now, one gets the idea that nothing will be done.

Still Thinking About Election 2004 (and 2000 As Well)

Bad enough that Michael Moore had to come up with this map:

While I wouldn't mind becoming a Canadian Citizen, I doubt Canada would want me. I'd need a skill that earns enough to be an asset, and they have a selection process that allows them to refuse people (unlike the USA, which makes it easy for ANYONE to become one of us). And besides, Canada has standards which they would probably place each American to in order to find them wanting.

And since Canada probably wouldn't welcome us, I fear this map and its identifications would fit much better:

Yes, the term is "Occupied Territories." I've seen bumper stickers along the lines of "There Are Americans, Then There Are Liberals" with the connotation of liberals as enemies in full force.

But at least we get the idea of statewide areas; more worrysome to me is the county-by-county map. Not that a large area is Republican red; but more the fact that in many states you can isolate the strongly democratic areas into dot-like areas:

(our elections are "Winner Take All," so I'm not gonna entertain the "purple" maps of the USA.)

The problem is this: If I'm going to want to consider myself an American, I want to feel welcome in ALL parts of America, not just the blue counties. I vote with what I see as my economic interest, so I expect that some people will never be on my side of the important issues; but in 2004 the largest group of people voted for "moral concerns." These "moral concerns" people not only vote without consideration of their interests (economic, security or freedom), but if I appear to be out-of-place with their beliefs they push their agenda onto me.

And that agenda would not be the benefits of choosing Steak instead of a Chinese Buffet.

I remember looking at the 2000 version of the above county map at a eatery in a smallish town and stifling an urge to shout back "So you think a few nuclear bombs would fix this nation?" knowing the map hid the concentrations of people in the blue counties behind the mass of land in the red counties. Now I'm more worried about being forever a foreigner in my own country, welcome only in those small areas known a urban wastelands. Also knowing that the places where Al-Quida would most likely hit (like they're going to hit Liberal, Kansas) are the places where I'd feel welcome.

And I wonder what it would take to feel welcome in the red areas. Other than lobotomizing myself, that is.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Ninth Circle of Mourning

Went to a visitation today. It was a friend of my housemate's, someone she had seen quite a bit in an earlier day but who had recently started suffering from a multiplicity of ailements. From what I heard, the last straw was the guy decided to try out dialysis to see if liver functioning would improve, turned out the liver was worsening so they decided to let things go.

While looking at the people mourning the man, I kept thinking about Tony Salazar (web site now long gone). He died rather suddenly (although not exactly unexpectedly) from a "brain bleed" (another term for stroke, if you ask me), and while at today's visitation a song of Tony's -- The Ninth Circle of Love -- kept running through my head.

You won't see the lyrics online; as the only recording I know of it was played at his funerals (two -- one in Chicago for his friends, a second in Grand Rapids, Michigan for family.

Anyway, one of the more interesting happenings was near the end, when a friend of the dead person was asked to be a pallbearer. Not only was it odd for a pallbearer to be asked at the visitation, but one could tell the guy doing the asking -- the person who had organized the whole shebang in the first place -- was making an effort to include this guy despite his wishes.

Turned out the guy being asked was a longtime companion of the deadman for many years. And although the man organizing the funeral and visitation clearly did not like what this meant, he made what I would call the right move in involving the companion in the pallbearing activities.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

No, Not This -- Bring Back Engler Instead!

Dominos Pizza CEO to Head DeVos's Gubernatorial Campaign

So it looks like Rich DeVos will try to win the Governor's seat in the state of Michigan.

Bad enough that this guy is part of the two families that introduced MLM to the world. Bad enough that they built the first army of Americans who joyously went against their interests by voting for those who wished to make them poor. Bad enough that the company his father (and friend Van Andel) built has made peace with those forces that have worked to bilk their salespeople and abuse those whom they've raised (in order to tear down gleefully). Bad enough that they have a whole city under their thumb...

Now they want to have a state under their thumb.

But let's not forget...while the number of the beast is supposed to be a person, it can also represent an area code.

wink, wink (for the humor impaired)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Gary Suffers from Closed Grocery Stores

You know, this actually looked like a year of some good news for Gary. While too many houses caught fire and burned up, while too many windows started getting busted, while Chicago gangs started taking over neighborhoods throughout Gary, there were two grocery stores that actually opened up! One was a rebuild of an old store, another was new.


First the rebuild burned down after one month of being open. Heard lots of residents mourning the fresh produce and convenience lost when that building burned down. Many think it was arson.

Then this!

I hope this is temporary; otherwise Gary, a city which had suffered much over the past year, looks to have lost yet another battle in the war against the forces arrayed against it -- gangs, industrial aging and abandonment, disinvestment, red-lining, gangs, ghettoization, ugly reputation, etc.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Kid Has BBGun In School, Is Now Practically Dead.

Kid With Pellet Gun Gets Shot

Sorry, but if you're expecting me to feel sorry for the kid, tough cookie.

He brought a gun to school, threatened a felow student with it, and aimed it at men with real guns. Should you expect anything different?

Indeed, I think the kid was sucidal, and God's making sure the kid gets the maximum amount of punishment (by keeping him brain-dead yet alive). Sometimes God gets the punishments right.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Second Impressions...

Sometimes people need time to get an impression on another person. A first impression can quickly give way to a second impression which may not be appreciative.

My housemate has always bemoaned what had happened to her when she married her first husband. Seems he had made a good impression the first time he made it up, then grew a beard and created enough of a reaction that she was disowned by the family for a few years. She has always marked that as one of her biggest traumas in her life.

Well, recently she had reacted violently to my brother, almost as if he had done something merely by being here. She even went as far as suggest that my brother's wife divorce him and live off welfare as long as she needs to.

Now, here's the kicker: Both actions were right actions!

In my story of my housemate's few years of disownership (she was eventually welcomed back into the family), it turned out the former husband was mildly abusive and very much a malingerer when it came to the working world. Not only that, but he seemed to do nothing to watch over his health after a certain point.

As for my brother, let's just say I found out first-hand what type of person he is. After all, when you spend over $1500 on gifts when you just lost your home and you owe someone who bailed you out of some troubles $2,500, it definitely looks bad.

So no, I don't appreciate whinings about people being disowned by their families. Sometimes it makes much sense -- either in relation to the disownee or with whom the disownee chooses to hang out with.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Common Census Map Project

Common Census Map Project

Earlier I wrote about the "Pop vs Soda (vs Coke) Page" It was hilarious, and it DID give an intriguing insight into who thought in what way, depending on how you viewed the bubbly drink you ingested WAY TOO MUCH OF (or at least I did...).

Here's another set of pages with this concept in mind, ony this is a bit more serious: Where does your place identify with? Is your area most strongly affected by the nearest large city, or is there another town that has your area in its thrall?

Interesting things to note (at least as I see it):
  1. States where the capitol city is totally obliterated by a nearby big city (with the overpowering big city listed next to the state):
    • New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island (Boston)
    • New Jersey (NYC/Philadelphia)
    • Delaware (Philadelphia)
    • Maryland (Baltimore/Washington DC)
    • Illinois, Missouri (Saint Louis, although Illinois also has Chicago and Missouri also has Kansas City)
    • Kansas (Kansas City Area)
    • South Dakota (Soiux City)
    • Wyoming (Denver)
    • Montana (Helena)
    • Nevada (Reno)
    • Oregon (Portland)
    • Washington (Seattle)

    (The capitols of Michigan and Louisiana, while weak, still show up on the map. New Mexico, Nebraska, Maine and New York's capitols have their area outside (or bordering) the capitol city itself. And Minnesota's capitol is included in the "Twin Cities" designation).

  2. Intriguing how Minnesota and most of New England can identify with one city while North Dakota splits itself between four towns (with three of them throwing their influence from a distance).

  3. How Jonesboro seems to have a finger reaching down into Mississippi when it should be fighting off Memphis.

  4. Some oddities in the map. Such as: is that yellow spot where Pennsylvania meets Lake Erie for the city of Erie? And is that Iowa City coloring in northwest Iowa, or Hayes, Kansas? And does Los Angeles REALLY have a finger reaching into Nevada?
Time (and the addition of votes) should tell (North Dakota cities total 31 votes in total; more votes should correct for most of the oddities there) with most of the items.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Just Read "Blink" and "The Tipping Point"

Two books by Malcolm Gladwell worth reading about, if for different reasons.

"Blink" is about our ability to think without being aware of our thinking. By focusing on what I would call our "unconscious thinking" (think "intution," or think "Freud was right, only his focus was off."). Mr. Gladwell admits that it's not a perfect measure (read on "The Warren Harding Effect" in the book) and he also gives hints on how to correct the wrong impressions that come from such thinking.

"The Tipping Point" is about how ideas and actions spread. From new things becoming hip to crime doing a major collapse in New York in the 1990's, it looks at what happens to cause these things. And again, it's usually the small things -- in this case, the few people who connect with everyone else, or focusing on one portion of the problem (grafitti, turnstile jumpers).

Both good and thought provoking books. And each one of them points always to a small thing which ends up having a much greater power in our world than all the big things we think of.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Got The Latest Credit Card Bill...

...and I noticed the minimum payment was now a little higher. It went from 2% to 4% on the one I got.

Not that much of a difference, since I definitely pay more than the minimum. However, I can see where some loser who pays the minimum would have trouble.

Wouldn't surprise me if many of these credit card companies increased their minimum payments expecting the following:
  1. More late fees from suckers unable to meet the minimum payments, and
  2. More charges to fast food places and gas stations as those able to make the payments were forced to charge more in an attempt to juggle their finances.
In a way, I feel for the people who fall for the cards. Having seen my latest card's credit limit go from $6K to $8K to $10K (the latter when my balance was going DOWN), I know the temptation to spend the money. It's almost like the money's begging to be spent.

This is what the card companies want. After all, as long as you're paying interest, the card companies don't have to do anything. Just sit down, watch the money roll in, and set their lawyers on you once you start struggling with the payments.

These are the same folks who keep jacking up the interest rate and sending applications to others. These are the same people who hope for credit fraud so they can pump money out of you for stuff you didn't enjoy.

And you wonder why they don't care what you think of them...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Impeach Now. You Know Why.

Bush Flips Off The Press (Run Quicktime Item)

Yes, that is his middle finger.

No, none of the other fingers are up.

Also, I know thumbs. That isn't one.

Don't ask me whom it's aimed at. I know (and can guess, in addition).

And don't remind me it's old.

I just know this is wrong. Absolutely wrong. Definitely not the sort of thing one should expect from the President of The United States. From me, maybe -- I'm impotent enough and can be goaded at odd times to flip the bird -- but NOT the president. And if I were president, I most certainly wouldn't do it under ANY circumstances.

And don't remind me of Reagan doing antlers to the press. He at least warned them, saying "I've been wanting to do this for a long time," so we're talking about someone having some fun. While it may have been a sideways peak into Reagan's true views, it wasn't done in public (it was at a dinner with some of the press).

Impeach the bastard. There's plenty of reasons to do so, even stuff he's admitted to. But this should be the reason he's impeached -- for disprespecting the american people and of the office.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Michigan State's Wet Dream Comes True — Elsewhere

Burn Your Couch, Legally

That's Right, Spartans. Your football team may be preparing to take its place besides such powerhouses as Indiana, Illinois, Southern Methodist and Vanderbilt; but now there are couches you can burn legally!

The problem: you'll have to go to West Virginia for them. And we'll have to persuade Mark Garrett to make some special for Michigan State.

Or maybe some enterprising Spartan Waxmaker can come up with the idea. Who knows...

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New, Specialized Blog/Goodbye, 2005, Glad To See You Go!

First, here's Sling Poet Blog; my newest blog dedicated to the idea of writing poetry once a week, at least.

The idea came from another writer, who decided to write a poem for every week. It ended up being during 2,000, which meant he had a sizable entry on what appeared to be a theft of the Florida vote from the Dems.

Now, onto my thoughts about 2005:

To quote Bob Schieffer (the host of Face The Nation), The best thing to say about 2005 is that it is over and we survived. ALMOST anything should be better than 2005, a year which saw Intelligent Design try to obliterate science in the classroom, a president admits to impeachable offenses to the cheers of the peanut gallery, and the American Economy becomes a debtor branch of China. Add in The Death of The Pentultimate American City (I wrote a few posts on this subject), and you got an ugly year in review.

At least Hollywood started expanding its repitoire of plots to include Christian-friendly stuff. And just in time, too -- their usual stuff sucked much more than usual, and the Christian-friendly plots were pretty much the only things worth going to (and no, I'm not counting "Brokeback Mountain." Anything with that much hype is to be devoutly avoided, no matter what it is.).

Anyway, there's a starting post (ignore the one below, as it's necessary details needing to go up) for The Sling Poet Blog