Soccer coaching advice

When things are going well it's a good idea to mix things up. For example, lots of successful coaches will try to extend a winning streak by switching goalies for a tough game. It's a winning formula!


A tiny little dot caught my eye

Yesterday I picked up At War with the Mystics from The Flaming Lips. I got to about the middle of track four before I felt it necessary to take the cd out and cleanse my palate with Dig Me Out. Has anybody actually listened to this record all the way through? Should I give it another try, or just write this purchase off as a mistake?

In other yesterday's musical purchases news, despite including a pretty interesting version of Tocata and Fugue in D Minor, Bachbusters seems to have grown cheesier over the years. Perhaps what's needed here is a drug induced haze.

Lastly, a question. Are there really people out there who haven't gotten around to giving Futuresex / Lovesounds a listen?


Taking out the trash, a beginner's primer

  1. Remove the bag from the trash can and tie it off.
  2. Transport the (tied off) trash bag to the appropriate receptacle/curb.
  3. Replace the liner in the trash can.

Advanced trash taker outers can set more ambitious goals, such as separating out recyclables. Those goals, while laudable, should not be pursued at the expense of getting the basics right.

Paging Machiavelli

Young Prince Yglesias needs a lesson.
I noticed this absence of actual numbers, too, and all I can say is . . . what's the deal? When I saw Petraeus not including the numbers, I suspected something nefarious. But the Pentagon numbers that contradict Petraeus don't show them either, so it probably isn't nefarious. But it is damned odd. |Yglesias|

The upshot of relying on charts that don't include numbers, as Yglesias notes in his post, is that newspapers like The Washington Post, find themselves writing things like, "The charts are difficult to compare" instead of things like, "Somebody is lying." Maybe it's all innocent, but it's plausibly nefarious.


The nation is a car, and we the people are the driver

I don't know about all y'all, but today's news that UAW is launching a nationwide strike against GM caught me by surprise. I mean, I knew that the negotiations were on, and that UAW had set a deadline, but I didn't think Gettlefinger had the balls to pull the trigger.

How long it will go on is a guessing game. Here's a little bit of data:
The union, which pays workers $200 a week in strike pay if they take shifts on the picket line, has nearly $900 million in its strike fund, enough to cover a two-month walkout.

G.M., meanwhile, had a 65-day supply of vehicles at the end of August, about normal for summer, and it had already announced plans to reduce production in the final three months of the year because of slowing sales. |NY Times|

And the only fact I can think to add is that a whole lot of GM's production is outside the USA nowadays. On the other side of the coin, I think the UAW is going to be able to raise truck loads of money for its solidarity fund when it comes down to it.

All of this only matters, though, if what we're looking at here is an existential throwdown. My gut is that it isn't. I think GM wanted to prove to the UAW that it isn't afraid of a strike. And I think Gettlefinger wanted to prove, partly to GM but mostly to the UAW rank and file, that he is a dog who knows at least one trick other than rolling over. So I'm betting that this is all over pretty quickly -- probably within a day or three.

Update:: Tentative agreement reached.

Will the real opposition party please stand up?

Matching up on some reading I ran across this statement by Barnett Rubin, Director of Studies at the Center on International Cooperation:

[T]he Democratic Party presidential candidates and Congressional Leadership sometimes seem afraid of challenging the administration too directly for fear of being seen as soft on terrorism... If I were a politician, for instance, I might say something like this:

The Bush-Cheney administration has surrendered much of Afghanistan to the Taliban and much of Pakistan to al-Qaida. They have turned most of Iraq over to Iran, creating the very danger over which they now threaten another disastrous war; they have strained the U.S. Armed Forces to the point of exhaustion, turned the Defense Department over to private contractors, the Justice Department over to the Republican National Committee, and the national debt over to foreign creditors, while leading a party whose single most basic belief is supposed to be that individuals must take personal responsibility for their actions. And they dare to lecture us on national security? |Bush-Cheney Threaten U.S. Security: Where's the Accountability? - Informed Comment: Global Affairs|

Bush doesn't disappoint me because I always suspected he was a spoiled frat boy pretending to be a statesman, but I am disappointed at the paltry attempts of the Democrats to curtail Bush's disastrous reign.

Looking at the scorecard, Bush has won every single round against the Dem's even since the 2006 election, so who's the stupid one?

Bush is a lame duck and his brain has left the building, when will the Democrats get up the courage to challenge him?


A very serious Friday

This is a few years old, but well worth reading. Chock full of interesting bits it is.
And while it's a small point, the Empire's manners and decorum speak well of it. When Darth Vader is forced to employ bounty hunters to track down Han Solo, he refuses to address them by name. Even Boba Fett, the greatest of all trackers, is referred to icily as "bounty hunter." And yet Fett understands the protocol. When he captures Solo, he calls him "Captain Solo." (Whether this is in deference to Han's former rank in the Imperial starfleet, or simply because Han owns and pilots his own ship, we don't know. I suspect it's the former.)



Dan Rather's lawsuit is not about George Bush, dummy

For several years now, there has been a sort of unity amongst liberal political institutions and media outlets, including MoveOn, various blogs, Air America radio shows, and so on. We've all been united in one despairing cry:


Truly, when it comes to liberal voices, George Bush has been one hell of a uniter.

A couple things are changing now, however. Bush is on his way out. Democrats control congress, at least in theory. We're beginning a primary season. And because of all of this, our differences become a little more stark. And people and groups that seemed reasonable last year now seem to be totally nuts.

One example of left-wing nuttiness is this blog post by Richard Greene, host of Air America's evening show, "Clout."

Let's Support Dan Rather

Congratulations, Dan Rather!! Since MONEY is THE only thing that the mainstream media corporations measure, hitting CBS and Viacom with a $70 million lawsuit is, finally, speaking their "single bottom line" language.

That George Bush got to lie about his military service, steal his job and then keep his job and Dan Rather, a courageous journalist for decades, lost his and was disgraced for telling the truth about the man who lied and stole and ultimately defrauded the nation into war, is a national obscenity. In fact, CBS and Viacom bear significant responsibility to America for the $500 Billion plus, plus, plus foreign policy disaster where they, and the rest of the mainstream media, suspended THEIR journalistic ethics, surrendered their national role and became, instead, cheerleaders for our MIA Commander in Chief and his disastrous foreign policy.

Perhaps America should join Mr. Rather and file a lawsuit against CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox for THAT! We will be cheering for you, Dan!

Rather is filing a lawsuit saying that he wasn't actually responsible for the incorrect information. He's not at all claiming that the story about Bush was true. He's basically saying, "I'm just a talking head, so please give me money." This lawsuit is just going to give wingnuts another opportunity to push actual issues to the sideline with a hysteric round of bashing the MSM for it's alleged anti-Bush slant.

So, let's not support Dan Rather. Sure, he got a raw deal, but his reputation (and his personal fortune) are the least of our worries.

Don't tase me bro

Speaking of important issues, the video of Andrew Meyer being arrested and tasered is certainly disturbing and the implications for free speech and citizen safety are appalling.

My personal view is that tasers are too dangerous to be used on non-violent subjects because tasers do, from time to time, kill perfectly healthy citizens and until Taser International can explain the exact mechanism of why people are killed (and how to prevent accidental deaths), the devices should not be used on non-violent citizens.

But the free speech issue is also quite troubling. A Vanderbilt student sums up my view when they state that the actions of the police interfere with the very nature of free expression and open debate that are hallmarks of the University system.
While neither exceeding his time allotment nor ignoring line protocol, both of which Meyer seems to have done, are appropriate or respectful actions at a lecture event, his transgressions clearly pale in comparison to those of the officers.

It is clear from the video that the police escalated the nature of the conflict by forcibly grabbing a non-physically threatening Meyer as they attempted to remove him from the auditorium. His resistance was completely understandable. By the time the officers used the stun gun on him, Meyer was pinned to the ground and clearly outmanned.

Meyer was arrested for resisting an officer and disturbing the peace, giving police a more palatable way to describe Tasering a student for over-questioning a senator.|Taser incident threatens campus culture - Inside Vandy|

None of these issues are new, they've just been brought center stage by the footage of Mr. Meyer screaming like a stuck pig while he's being shocked.

A recent comment from a police chief encapsulates the law enforcement view:

"It's simple. If you do what you're told and you comply, you won't be Tased."

-Richard Leighton, police chief in St. Johnsbury, Vt., where two men who were shocked with stun guns in a 2005 incident won a $10,000 settlement after claiming police used excessive force. |Mlive.com|(emphasis added)

While law enforcement obviously takes an authoritarian stance on issues of disobeying a police officer's orders, I think law enforcement needs to exercise more judgment and discretion in determining whether a protest is political and non-violent and police should refrain from interfering with lawful dissent.

"I'm interested in changing the policy so that Tasers are not used on non-violent people, particularly protesters taking a dignified stance. I see the points police make in using Tasers as an alternative to lethal force. But it seems like they're lowering the threshold so they can use [Tasers] for a wide variety of uses."

- Jonathan Crowell, who was shot with a Taser during a peaceful demonstration in Brattleboro, Vt. |Mlive.com|(emphasis added)


Posts concerning important issues will resume before too long

Unless it's already been too long. Anyway, in the mean time, WTF?


This is how a lot of bad movies start...

VILLAGERS in southern Peru have been struck by a mysterious illness after a meteorite made a fiery crash to Earth in their area.

Around midday Saturday, villagers were startled by an explosion and a fireball that many were convinced was a plane crashing near their remote village, in the high Andes department of Puno in the Desaguadero region, near the border with Bolivia.

Residents complained of headaches and vomiting brought on by a "strange odour," local health department official Jorge Lopez told Peruvian radio RPP.

Seven policemen who went to check on the reports also became ill and had to be given oxygen before being taken to hospital, Mr Lopez said.

Rescue teams and experts were dispatched to the scene where the meteorite had left a crater 30m wide and 6m deep, said local official Marco Limache.

"Boiling water started coming out of the crater and particles of rock and cinders were found nearby. Residents are very concerned," he said.


It looks like it ended up in water, so I'm guessing the heat and motion just kicked something nasty (but terrestrial) into the air rather than brining a zombie plague from beyond the depths of space.


O.J. Simpson held without bail

Will he be able to assemble another legal "dream team?" Discuss in the comments. I'll start, by suggesting that the answer is... no.


Two truths and a lie

Item: Ex-Pamela Anderson husbands Tommy Lee and Kid Rock nearly came to blows at the MTV video music awards and have been offered $1 million to settle their differences in the ring.

Item: Pamela Anderson recently became engaged to a man after he agreed to pay off her gambling debts in exchange for sexual favors.

Item: Pamela Anderson's fiance is the man behind the Paris Hilton sex tape.

Bad boys bad boys, whatcha gonna glue

I don't know. Why can't all cops be like this?



Are not my ways equal?

Greetings from the land of moderately priced digital cable!
  • What the hell is broccolini? Also, Anthony Bourdain seems like kind of an asshole. So I guess he probably gets along great with Tom Coleccio.
  • Speaking of Top Chef, this is fucked up.
  • UFC is waaaaaaay better than WEC. But thanks for trying Versus. You done brung me through the wilderness.
  • Did you know that David Lynch has had his name removed from the Dune credits? The film is now brought to you by Alan Smithee.
  • Speaking of Alan Smithee, the free movie offerings on *On Demand* have really expanded since the last time I had access to the Digital Starter Package.
  • Apparently the M*A*S*H revival is only taking place on Super Basic Cable. Who'd'a thunk?
  • Don't be fooled by the lame advertising campaign. The women's World Cup is awesome.


Burning salt water for fuel

No kidding. This dude can (allegedly) "burn" salt water by exposing it to an RF energy field. The radiation weakens the chemical bonds and releases the hydrogen, igniting the hydrogen in the process. Even if we never use burning salt water for heat, just freeing the hydrogen in this manner sounds pretty cool to me.

Of course, there's the Vonnegutesque Ice-9 angle:
"This is the most abundant element in the world. It is everywhere," Dr. Roy said of salt water. "Seeing it burn gives me chills."


Perhaps it will "reincarnate" as an Olympic medal

From a few days ago:

ELK RIVER, Minn. - The high demand and soaring prices for scrap metal appeared to be the reason a 7-foot statue of Buddha, covered in copper-laden bronze, was stolen from an outdoor temple shrine at the Thai Buddhist Center of Minnesota, police said.

Police Chief Jeff Beahen said a 45-year-old Elk River woman was arrested Friday night, and a male family member was being looked at as another suspect in the theft.

The statue, valued at $10,000, was stolen Wednesday night, and a detective issued a statewide alert to police and scrap dealers Thursday with a photo of the stolen statue.

Early Friday afternoon, a recycling company in Monticello called the detective, saying they had taken in two pieces of scrap they believed to be from the statue.

Police recovered the right shoulder and right hip of the statue, each weighing about 60 pounds, and with the help of the recycler were able to identify the woman who had brought them in.

"There are another 10 pieces or so, and I hope the other recycling companies are as diligent in talking with us," Beahen said.

The statue was specially made in Thailand for the center.

"It's too bad," said temple member Jay Cramer. "The whole community is real sad. It's a sacred piece."

But Cramer said there was some relief in knowing that the statue was stolen for money and not because of bigotry.

Anyone even a little familiar with Buddhism, and especially Zen Buddhism, has probably heard the story about the firewood Buddha. There are several versions of this story, but they all climax with a sacred, revered wooden Buddha statue (or several) getting chopped up by a senior monk to be used as firewood in an extreme time of need, much to the chagrin of the other resident monks (another, similar story has the head abbot peeling the gold off of a sacred Buddha statue to give to a poor man). The moral of these stories, of course, is that Zen has nothing to do with statues, scriptures, scrolls, saints...or even Buddhas. The act embodies typical, paradoxical Zen "counter-knowledge," in this case committing a sacrilegious act which is, in fact, the essence of Buddhahood. If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him, indeed (or, if you're the Taliban, blow him the hell up with yer anti-aircraft artillery).

The Elk River sangha's sadness at the loss of their Buddha is natural, true. And as a good Buddhist knows, sadness is a manifestation of suffering brought on by attachment. It's nice to hear Cramer take some comfort knowing the statue was stolen for money and not religious intolerance, but I am curious to know whether this organization has pressed or will press charges, what the economic situation of the statue-knappers truly is...and, whether or not the firewood Buddha story is being recounted this week in Elk River.

Crazy talk

We are organizing and regularizing what amounts to a Sunni militia. If we could do with the Shiite militias what we are now doing with the Sunnis (who already have plenty of weapons) the war would essentially be over now.

That's Mario Loyola, from an email posted at the fever swamp.


That's a nice way to put it

With one important exception: through the 18th century, the most celebrated singers were castrati, boys altered before puberty who grew into men with powerful high voices. Un-altered tenors rarely got higher than an A without singing falsetto. Many of their roles were decidedly unheroic, like the slightly wimpy Don Ottavio in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” But the style was one of grace and agility. |link|


Lessons learned

  • The refrigerator at my office will comfortably hold 11 cases of beer.
  • One good way to improve rapidly at Guitar Hero is to set up your rig at the office.
  • You don't really need very many chips at the final table of an online poker tournament, because chances are that the other players are idiots.


Don't everybody volunteer at once

(sorry for lack of attribution... i ended up downloading the image in a glut of surfing, and now I can't find the source blog).

Morning in America

With Bush's approval ratings still hovering near Nixon-era lows, no end in sight for Bush's quagmire in Iraq, and war with Iran on the horizon, the Republicans are getting a bit anxious about the next election. None of their candidates really seems to be able to pull together a coalition of voters.

The answer to their prayers might be a synthesis of proven experience and egomaniacal chutzpah.

The Big O

Oprah Winfrey has already done plenty for Barack Obama, lending her influential endorsement and organizing major fundraising efforts, including an event on Saturday at her California home. But she may go even further. The Washington Post reports today that the TV superstar is in talks with Obama's advisors to take on a more active role in the campaign, possibly delivering stump speeches and more openly campaigning for Obama in the media.

Discussion question:

Is Oprah the cultural juggernaut everyone says she is? Will she send forth her arcane and hypnotic commands, shaping or subverting the will of America's ladyfolk? Will Obama crush Hillary and the hapless republicans beneath Oprah's fabulous heel?

Or is this more of a Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin level thing?


It's the day after Labor Day, and you know what that means

The 2008 Presidential campaign begins today!
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