Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Welcome To The Bigs

In case you missed it, the Mariners today finally gave up on the abysmal Brad Wilkerson and called up Wladimir Balentien and Jeff Clement. Although he only played in 19 games, Wilkerson was only able to manage an anemic .232 average with just 5 RBI, and his average is only that high thanks to a 3-3 outing yesterday. Prior to that, he had been hitting .189. Maybe he was starting to turn things around, but I doubt it. As far as I'm concerned, we couldn't get rid of him soon enough.

Meanwhile, his replacement, Wladimir Balentien made a great major league debut, going 2-4 with a 3 run home run. In his one game, he's already got 60% of the RBI's that Wilkerson managed in 19 games. Balentien plays some solid defense, has a strong arm, some speed (he hit an inside the park home run in his last game in Tacoma), and has the ability to hit for both average and power. In a full season in AAA last year, he hit .291 with 24 HR. I'm really excited to see this kid finally get a shot, and I think he will immediately fill a hole in both the batting order and the outfield.

Jeff Clement only had one plate appearance tonight, but had a single. This catcher and former first round draft pick still needs work on his defense, but has shown the ability to mash the ball. He was hitting .397 with 5 HR and 20 RBI in just 23 games in Tacoma before today's call up. He figures to see more time at DH than catcher. The one unfortunate side effect of today's dealings is that Greg Norton was released instead of the overpaid and underperforming Jose Vidro. It will be interesting to see how much playing time he gets. If he takes over for Vidro full time, that will fill another big hole in the batting order.

House Of Horrors

This is the most unspeakably awful things I've ever seen. If you haven't seen this story already, a man in Austria kept his own daughter locked in a dungeon under his house for 24 years, where he repeatedly raped her and fathered 7 children with her, some of which had never seen the light of day. I can't even begin to imagine what will become of these children now. Unable to communicate, completely ignorant of the outside world. I don't know how they will ever be able to live outside of an institution under constant supervision, let alone ever trust anyone. I am still in disbelief that this has really happened. One part of the story I have difficulty with is that it says that the man responsible for all of this is now under suicide watch in prison. Wouldn't it be a blessing for all if he killed himself? I really couldn't care less about him facing a trial. The sooner that guy dies, the better.

Irony

In what seems like a tremendously uphill legal battle, 3 resident of the Greek island of Lesbos have filed suit against a gay rights group demanding that they cease using the word lesbian. I can see how this might be a problem, particularly for the straight women who inhabit Lesbos, but I can't imagine the use of the word lesbian will change in my lifetime.

Out Of Order



I took this picture at work down at Safeco Field on Sunday with my super crappy camera phone. But since the picture is poor enough quality that it is not self explanatory, I'll enlighten you. This is one of the time clocks. Or at least it used to be. Now it is just part of a box on the wall with some wires sticking out of it. Taped above is a helpful note with says 'clock out of order'. As if you were unable to deduct that from the missing clock portion and the protruding wiring. I find this terribly amusing. Probably far more so than it really is. Trust me though, with a higher resolution picture, it would be hilarious.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Interesting Take On The War

Someone forwarded this to me recently. It's a different perspective on the war in Iraq from a foreign affairs commentator in Australia named Greg Sheridan. I've copied and pasted it here for your convenience.

THE US war in Iraq has strengthened its strategic position, especially in terms of key alliances, and the only way this could be reversed would be if it lost the will to continue the struggle and abandoned Iraq in defeat and disarray.

Surely the author of this sentence is on the ganja, you might say. Something a little weird in the coffee? It goes against every aspect of conventional wisdom. But the author of this thesis, stated only marginally less boldly, is one of the US’s most brilliant strategic analysts. Mike Green holds the Japan chair at Washington’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies and was for several years the Asia director at the National Security Council. He is also one of America’s foremost experts on Japan and northeast Asia generally.

His thesis, applied strictly to the US position in Asia, is correct.

First, Green states and acknowledges the negatives. He writes: “The Iraq war has had one important, pernicious impact on US interests in Asia: it has consumed US attention.”

This has prevented the US from following up in sufficient detail on some positive developments in Asia. Green also acknowledges that the US’s reputation has taken a battering among Muslim populations in Asia.

Yet Green’s positive thesis is fascinating. The US’s three most important Asian alliances - with Australia, Japan and South Korea - have in his view been strengthened by the Iraq campaign. Each of these nations sent substantial numbers of troops to help the US in Iraq. They did this because they believed in what the US was doing in Iraq, and also because they wanted to use the Iraq campaign as an opportunity to strengthen their alliances with the US.

More generally, in a world supposedly awash in anti-US sentiment, pro-American leaders keep winning elections. Germany’s Angela Merkel is certainly more pro-American than Gerhard Schroeder, whom she replaced. The same is true of France’s Nicolas Sarkozy.

More importantly in terms of Green’s analysis, the same is also true of South Korea’s new President. Lee Myung-bak, elected in a landslide in December, is vastly more pro-American than his predecessor, Roh Moo-hyun.

Even in majority Islamic societies, their populations allegedly radicalised and polarised by Bush’s campaign in Iraq and the global war on terror more generally, election results don’t show any evidence of these trends. In the most recent local elections in Indonesia, and in national elections in Pakistan, the Islamist parties with anti-American rhetoric fared very poorly. Similarly Kevin Rudd was elected as a very pro-American Labor leader, unlike Mark Latham, with his traces of anti-Americanism, who was heavily defeated.

Even with China, the Iraq campaign was not a serious negative for the US. Beijing was far more worried by the earlier US-led NATO intervention into Kosovo because it was based purely on notions of human rights in Kosovo. Such notions could theoretically be used to justify action (not necessarily military action) against China over Taiwan and Tibet. Iraq, on the other hand, was justified on the basis of weapons of mass destruction, a justification with which the Chinese were much more comfortable.

Further, the Chinese co-operated closely with the Americans in the war on terror, especially in tackling what they alleged was extremism among some of the Muslim Uighurs in the vast Xinjiang province.

Similarly, at a time when China developed a massive trade surplus with the US, American foreign policy attention was directed at the Middle East, and far less congressional and public hostility was directed at China than might otherwise have been expected. Green argues that the preoccupation with Iraq may have made it easier for the Bush administration to responsibly and effectively manage US public opinion on China.

Then again, there is the question of soft power. Green was writing before the controversies surrounding Beijing’s actions in Tibet broke out, and before the Olympic torch relay. Yet these have shown the brittleness of China’s much-touted soft power.

Beijing was shocked, not that there might be demonstrations in Tibet, but rather at just how unpopular they were in international civil society, from Hollywood through to liberal politicians such as Hillary Clinton calling for a boycott of the Olympic opening ceremony, to European leaders that China thought it had in its pockets, to all manner of non-government organisations, through to the Asian middle class, through even to the Mandarin-speaking Rudd, who criticised the Chinese to their faces in Beijing.

More generally, it is American values, or more accurately the universal values of democracy to which the US adheres, that are more popular and receive greater adherence in Asia than before, in the politics and civil societies of Asian nations such as Indonesia, India, Japan and many others.

The overall picture is infinitely more complex than the anti-Bush narrative of the Iraq war would suggest.

Green drills down into a lot of public opinion figures and finds even there a big recovery for the US in Asian public opinion in recent years. Public opinion polling on foreign policy is always problematic because the question can so easily shape the response. But the Iraq invasion was unpopular in Japan and seemed to lead, paradoxically, both to a decline in Japanese public faith in US judgment and an increase in Japanese public faith in the US alliance, perhaps because it showed the US would back its commitments with actions.

Similarly, it seems clear that US standing in Japan declined most recently when it softened its position on North Korea, something international liberal opinion universally demanded. However, some other facts are incontrovertible. Japan in 2003 sent 600 troops to Iraq to help the Americans. The Japanese leader who did this, Junichiro Koizumi, was subsequently re-elected in a landslide.

South Korea is even more instructive. Some of the strategic dinosaurs at the Australian National University write as if the US-South Korea alliance is finished and that the day is both inevitable and soon when China will be the dominant power in South Korea. This was always a silly bit of analysis that had a brief vogue six or seven years ago. To hold it now, it is necessary that you never look at what is actually happening in South Korea.

The US’s standing there seems to bear very little relation to Iraq. However, as noted, a pro-US candidate won a record landslide in December. But even the previous president, who did deploy some anti-American rhetoric, sent 3600 troops to Iraq (more than any nation except the US and Britain) and negotiated a free trade agreement with the US. Moreover, as Green describes, there has been a big rise in the positive ratings of the US in South Korea since 2005.

The centrist Joong AngIlbo newspaper’s poll shows the US rising from being the third most popular foreign country in South Korea to becoming, by 2006, the most popular foreign country.
Green cautions that a US failure in Iraq, a retreat and leaving chaos in Iraq behind, would gravely damage US credibility in Asia.

What is clear from Green’s analysis is how different the Asian environment is from the European environment, or even from the US domestic debate.

Australian commentators almost universally mimic the European critique or more often the liberal American critique of the Bush administration and all its works.

What is clear is that they have almost no sense of the Asian context at all. From alleged hardheads such as Hugh White and Paul Dibb, through to the orthodox leftists David Marr and Robert Manne, there is no evidence of any Asian context or consciousness in the assessments of the Bush administration.

Australia’s most progressive voices are almost entirely devoid of any Asian sense. And, as you’d expect, it takes an American to make this sad fact so starkly obvious.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Things That Make Me Happy

Right now, seeing Spinal Tap in HD thanks to channel 661 - MHD - is really making my day.

David: I do not, for one, think that the problem was that the band was down. I think that the problem may have been that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf. Alright? That tended to understate the hugeness of the object.

Ian: I really think you're just making a much too big thing out of it.

Derek: Making a big thing out of it would've been a good idea.

Draft Predictions

I've put this off long enough and can't put if off anymore. It's time for my annual draft predictions. It's always difficult to predict who the Seahawks will get when they have such a late pick, there's no telling who will still be available. But I've got a reputation to uphold. Remember, I predicted Kelly Jennings 2 years ago, and I was off by a round last year, but correctly predicted they would draft Brandon Mebane. So here goes:

Prediction #1: The Dolphins will draft Jake Long. Sure it would be hilarious if all of this talk that they had already reached a deal with him was all a ruse. Seeing them get up tomorrow and hand Roger Goodell a card with somebody else's name on it, and the ensuing scrambling by all of the other teams and analysts would be awesome, but doesn't seem likely.

Prediction #2: The Seahawks will draft Kentwan Balmer, DT from North Carolina with their first selection. With Chuck Darby leaving in the off season, Marcus Tubbs looking like a bust, and Rocky Bernard getting himself in trouble, it looks like DT is the position of need. Depth at DE is also a need, but I think after the top couple of guys, anybody else would be a reach. Field Gulls made a convincing argument for Sam Baker, and he may be a Tim Ruskell type guy, but I just don't see this pick happening.

Prediction #3: A lot of people are predicting the Seahawks will draft Dustin Keller, TE from Purdue in the first round. All of these people are wrong. Keller is a poor mans Shannon Sharpe, and is over-rated due to a strong combine. I predict he will be a bust.

Prediction #4: The Seahawks will fill their TE needs in the second round with John Carlson from Notre Dame. Sure I hate ND and he's kind of goofy looking, but I think he's the most well rounded TE available, will fit the Seahawks needs very well, and will still be available for their second pick. Martellus Bennett is another possibility here.

Prediction #5: Rashard Mendenhall, whom you all already know I have a man crush on, will be drafted by the Cardinals just so he can punish us twice a year.

Prediction #6: On day 2 of the draft, the Seahawks will draft Chauncey Washington, RB from USC and Dennis Dixon, QB from Oregon. I've already given you the sales pitch on Dixon, but the Washington pick I have to admit I was talked into by Field Gulls. Now I can't wait to see him in a Seahawks uniform.

Prediction #7: Both the Raiders and Cowboys will make a couple of really head scratching moves. I'm still not convinced that the Cowboys won't mortgage the farm to pick up Darren McFadden, and they may well work out some kind of deal with the Raiders before the day is up. Also, expect one of these teams, most likely the Cowboys, to draft Marcus Dixon, a talented DE who has served 15 months in prison for aggravated child molestation and statutory rape.

And I think I'll stop there with my predictions.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Chapman Stick

I have been increasingly fascinated by the Chapman Stick recently. Half guitar, half bass, and half piano, it is incredible what can be done with it in trained hands. It's got 10 strings, and you don't play like any other instrument. Everything is done by tapping the strings, and two different parts can be played simultaneously.

This is clearly way too complicated for me. I can barely handle 6 stings, but I still have the itch to give it a try. If you own one, let me know. I think the thing is exceptionally cool. Playing a different melody with each hand seems impossible to me. I guess that's why I was never able to pick up the piano. Some of these guys really make it look easy though.

Please take the time to watch the two videos below. I think the second one will probably be more of a crowd pleaser. And if you just search for Chapman Stick on youtube, you can find an abundance of cool videos of the stick in action.



Charlie Wilson's War

"You can teach 'em to type, but you can't teach 'em to grow tits." - Charlie Wilson

Charlie Wilson's War was a wonderful movie. It's a fascinating story, one that were it not based on a true story would be laughed it for it's implausibility. But it is this fantastic element that makes it so interesting. How is it that a little known congressman from Texas, a man who admits that his main goals are drinking whiskey and chasing women, a man known as 'good time Charlie' who is under investigation for snorting cocaine with strippers in a Vegas hotel room, a man of whom it is said that his greatest achievement in his 6 terms in congress was getting re-elected 5 times, was able to almost single handedly raise the funds, arrange for the weapons purchase, and train Afghan's who didn't know anything about fighting to repel the Soviet troops is really astonishing.

Knowing Hollywood, I really expected the producers to turn this story into a political statement. I am pleased to say that the told the story straight and restrained from any moralizing. No allusions made to the current war in Iraq. Nothing about either political party claiming the moral high ground. In fact it was just the opposite. It was more about people from very different backgrounds working together to accomplish the seemingly impossible.

Tom Hanks turned in his usual quality performance, and Julia Roberts was acceptable, if a little bit on the creepy side. But Philip Seymour Hoffman really stole the show. I think that more than any other current actor, he really embodies his roles and truly becomes his character. He may be the best actor of his generation. And for a man so ugly to make a name for himself in an industry so obsessed with physical appearance, that is quite a feat.

I don't know much about the actual events, so I don't know what liberties were taken with the script. Apart from feeling like large chunks of the story were left out, it did feel authentic. Most of the story was spent on the build up to the arming and training of the Afghan troops, and then the film seemed to rush through the following events. I assume this was done for pacing and because that is really the more interesting part of the story. Still, I would have liked to have seen a little more of that.

I really was impressed with this movie. It walked the fine line between entertainment and documentation. It really could have erred either way, but there was enough humor to keep it from being dry and boring, but not so much as to make light of the subject matter. I went in with fairly high expectations and still came away impressed. And for that, I give this movie an amazing 9 units of cinematic goodness out of a possible 10.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Panic In Congo

This story is 100% hilarious. I don't want to even say anything about the subject matter because I don't want to spoil it. Nothing I could say about it would enhance the story. Trust me and read it.

Today's Game

Ok, here's how this works. Imagine that you have the ability to go back in time and talk to yourself and give yourself some advice. You can only go back once and tell your younger self one thing. What advice do you give yourself? Do you tell yourself to be on the lookout for one particular special person? Do you tell yourself not to get drunk and sleep with that woman at that party who turned out to be psycho? Do you tell yourself not to get high and go to that Neil Diamond concert where you got beat up, robbed, and left for dead in a dumpster in a nearby alley?

I think I would go back to just after my high school graduation, and tell myself to skip college, get as high a paying job as I can find, and invest every penny I can save into Microsoft. Or better yet, get a job at Microsoft. Had I done that, I think I might have been retired by the age of 30.

Liberty Mutual

I arrived at work this morning to the news that I am now a Liberty Mutual employee. As I'm sure most of you have already heard, Safeco was sold to Liberty Mutual today. I don't yet know how this will effect me, but it did make for one unusual day. This was punctuated by one of the most bizarre speeches I've ever heard, delivered by CEO Paula Reynolds. I'll see if I can't get some audio or at least direct quotes later, because I can't do justice trying to relay it from memory.

My first impression is that this is sad news, since we are essentially losing another local company with a long (85 years) history in the area. The other impression is that this will be an improvement for any employees that remain with the company. Not because I know anything about Liberty Mutual, but because I have become so disillusioned with the Safeco leadership that I think anything will be an improvement. I think the current leadership is dishonest, and has made some questionable business decisions for short term gain to justify exorbitant executive salaries.

I will avoid saying more at this time, but at this point I'm thinking it's time to polish up my resume. I'm not really interested in going through the transitionary period, and I'm also tired of commuting to Seattle every day. I want to find a job on the east side again. If anybody knows of any good jobs available on the east side, let me know.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In The News

There are all kinds of interesting news items today. To start with, someone has come up with an algorithm that will increase your learning power and intelligence. The idea being that when you learn something and don't use it, you will forget it, however, reminding yourself of what you learned too soon will wasted time. So theoretically there is an optimum time for you to review and use information that you have learned. This algorithm will calculate this time and set up electronic reminders for you. Sounds good in theory, but I'll have to do some of my own research.

The related story debunking Intelligence Myths claims that doing crossword puzzles, eating fish, and taking supplements don't have any impact on your intelligence.

Next up is that Danish company that claims to be able to create plastics out of pig urine. Ideally these plastics would not be formed into forks, spoons, or sporks. But for the people who drink coffee made from beans extracted from cat poo, this surely won't be a problem. I'd prefer to not place either of those items in my mouth.

And finally, I learned today that the marshmallow was originally made from the root of the marshmallow plant. And the root extract was also used to sooth sore throats. Who knew? This completely changes my views on house plants, and I may have to see where I can find a marshmallow bush. Is that something typically carried by local nurseries?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bond-mobile


Apparently James Bond's car in the upcoming Quantum of Solace is unable to turn into a submarine as discovered by the driver who parked it at the bottom of a lake on the way to the set.

And I guess no matter what else Q comes up with, it will never be as cool as the Lotus from The Spy Who Loved Me.

I've Got Nothing

I don't have anything worth saying today. I took an Access class after work and really didn't have time to do anything when I got home today other than makes some dinner. But I did find a video for the Dream Theater song Forsaken. I love this song. And the video could be worse.


In addition to this, I have a quiz for an undisclosed prize. What is the name of the theme song from 2001: A Space Odyssey? And if you say "the theme to 2001", then you are wrong.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Holy Diver

Do you ever have one of those songs that you don't really like the first time you hear it, but over time it really starts growing on you? For me that song has been Holy Diver by Killswitch Engage.

I never really cared much for the original Dio version, so I wasn't thrilled with the cover to begin with. I keep hearing it on the radio though, and this version has more edge to it than the original, and I really like the vocals a lot better in this one. I don't know the name of the Killswitch singer, but he does a great job except for the couple of short bits where he's screaming. I'm going to have to look up his name.

Having now seen the video, I love this even more. This is 100% pure, unabashed cheese. I haven't seen something this cheesy since the days of Def Leppard and Journey. And if you haven't seen the videos for Rock of Ages or Separate Ways, what's wrong with you???? Go look them up now! Getting back to the Holy Diver video though, how can you not love a video with a castle, knights in full armor, sorcerers, and a bald drummer with a beard so impressive you'd think he was a ZZ Top cast off. I swear it looks like he's trying for the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest beard of bees.

And now I'm really in the mood to look up more cheesy videos. Maybe if you are all very good, I'll post the Safety Dance, or Oh Sherry later in the week. Or possibly even one of my all time favorites: Come On Eileen. I am now officially taking requests.

I just did my research, and apparently the Killswitch front man is Howard Jones. No, not that Howard Jones. But feel free to vote for No One Is To Blame, The Prisoner, Things Can Only Get Better, or any of his other singles.

April 19

video

April 19th and it's snowing. Unbelievable. This is almost a full month later in the year than I can ever remember getting snow before. I remember it snowing on the first day of spring about 5 years ago and it absolutely blew my mind. I don't have the words to describe my disbelief. And it turns out the video is so small you almost can't tell it's snowing.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Overheard In The U District

While I was heading back to the office after lunch today, I was stopped at a street corner waiting for the light to change when I heard this sentence uttered by one of the two frat boy looking guys behind me:

Yeah, yeah, no no no, yeah, dude that's gay.


Now I didn't hear what led up to that point in the conversation, so I don't know what he was referring to, and thankfully the light changed and I didn't have to listen to any more of the conversation after that. One thing is certain however, this genius is a future leader of this country. He is destined for greatness. This kind of brilliance just doesn't go unnoticed.

This is just one more bit of evidence that frat boys are the most worthless human beings on the planet. A plague on humanity. In fact, my disdain for them is even greater than that of Red Sox fans, and if you know me, or have been visiting this site for any length of time, you know that's really saying something.

The silver lining in this whole thing is that I wasn't alone. Not only was this quote independently verified, but I was also afforded the opportunity to immediately make fun of this guy. There's nothing like instant gratification.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Warning: Low Brow Content

Just when you think Steven Seagal's career is over, along comes a movie like this which may just revive it.



On a completely unrelated topic, I think it might be time to buy some Seagate stock. If this news is correct, they could be sitting on a gold mine. Then again, my portfolio is already a little tech heavy already and needs more diversification. Should I really let that stop me though?

Best Team Name

Now there are a lot of quality team names out there: the TCU Horned Frogs, the Lansing Lugnuts, the Albuquerque Isotopes (shamelessly stolen from a Simpsons Episode), and I'm pretty fond of the Montgomery Biscuits. But without question, my current favorite team name comes from the Japanese baseball league. The Nippon Ham Fighters. I don't know what exactly a Ham Fighter is, but that's the funniest damn name I've ever heard.

Oops

I don't know if any of you are familiar with The Borowitz Report, but it is a web site I enjoy that is similar to The Onion in that it creates fake news stories. I find quite a few of them to be amusing, but a recent event proved to be far more entertaining than anything Andy Borowitz could have come up with. The Boston Herald ran a story based on and heavily quoting a story he had made up about Dick Cheney challenging Hillary Clinton to a hunting contest.

Not only does this confirm my assertion that the intelligence of Bostonians is severely lacking, particularly that of Red Sox fans, but it also calls into question the quality and credibility of print journalism. If they can't do enough fact checking to get to the bottom of that mystery, it calls into question everything else they report. The true gem of this whole situation though is Andy Borowitz's response.

And as long as I mentioned the Onion, I'll throw in this video for your viewing enjoyment. It makes me want to go on a punching spree.


Wildly Popular 'Iron Man' Trailer To Be Adapted Into Full-Length Film

Getting The Shaft

I found this article to be fascinating. A German man fell down an open elevator shaft, only to have his fall broken by the women who had fallen down the same shaft the day before. And what's even stranger is that he may have saved the woman's life. Who knows how long she would have been down there had this guy not fallen on her. She has got to be pretty tough to have survived falling 25 feet, laying injured and unnoticed for a full day, and then having a full grown man fall on top of her.

I suppose the important question at this point is: what is going on in Germany that people are falling down elevator shafts left and right? Is it that they don't effectively cordon off open shafts, or is it more a situation that Germans are so completely spellbound by an open elevator shaft that they are unable to keep themselves from going in for a closer look and falling in?

Which leads me to my next question: which country leads the world in elevator shaft accidents? Based on the evidence I have available, I would have to guess Germany.

Dennis Dixon

I'm going to start making my case for the Seahawks to draft Dennis Dixon. After reading the Sports Illustrated article about him and how far he's come in such a short time from his knee injury, I think he's the guy for the Seahawks. I will concede that he is a little unpolished and needs a lot of work, and will not be able to play for quite a while because of his knee, but I think those things play right into the Seahawks plans.

Being a Duck makes it difficult for me to give him my endorsement, but America is all about second chances, and I am willing to offer him a chance to atone for his poor choice in universities. So the rest of you Oregon haters, hear me out. He has all of the physical tools to succeed in the NFL, but I am not one to become enamored with a guy because of his 40 time or how far he can throw a football. I'm all about how you perform on the field, and Dixon has shown me a lot. Consider this, before his injury, he was a Heisman candidate (luckily he didn't win since that's the kiss of death for QB's) and Oregon was in the national title hunt. As soon as he got hurt, they couldn't win another game. Add to that a 67% completion rate, and I'm pretty impressed.

I think if he was healthy, he would be considered a first round talent, but SI projects him as a 4th rounder, and the NFL Draft Countdown, a site I've found to be very reliable and informative, has him listed as a late round pick, possibly falling out of the draft all together. So I think that anything 4th round or later is a bargain. The Seahawks don't need him to come in and produce for a couple years, and can groom him for a couple years before Matt Hasselbeck retires. It's a perfect situation.

Still not convinced? Check out Dennis' web site and let him tell you himself.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Arthur Rhodes

With today's glorious return of Arthur Rhodes, I call for another glorious return. The golf cart bringing pitchers in from the bullpen. Old man Rhodes really needs it. I think we could shave a good 20-30 minutes off of a games length using it for him alone. At the very least, the moose could drive out and pick him up in his 4 wheeler and shuttle him to the mound. And maybe run over an opposing player or two on the way in. Start sending your letters to the Mariners now demanding the return of the golf cart. One person can make a difference.

Today's Mystery

This mystery has actually been progressing for a while now, but in the last week has really gotten more baffling. It all started in January when I started receiving Sports Illustrated for no reason that I could discern. Due to the timing of it, I just assumed that somebody had given me a subscription for Christmas and not told me about it. I really didn't think much more about it until about a week ago when an issue of Men's Vogue showed up in my mailbox. I checked to make sure that I hadn't received someone else's mail, but sure enough, it was addressed to me. I scratched my head a little over that one, and then scratched my head a lot today when an issue of Premier Guitar showed up in my mailbox. Again addressed to me.

I've never even heard of Men's Vogue or Premier Guitar, and I can't for the life of me figure out if they are promotional issues and they bought my name and address from someone, or if someone somewhere gave me a subscription and didn't tell me, or if there is a third possibility I haven't considered. So if you gave me a subscription to any of these magazines, thank you. If you gave my name to some marketers and some bills for these will start showing up soon, then go to hell. If you have some kind of crazy conspiracy theory, I'm all ears.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Drunken Debates


Special thanks to Jo for sending this my way. Yes, she looks like she's 2 1/2 sheets to the wind in this picture, but that's not what amuses me so much. Upon seeing this, my immediate thought was how much I would like to see drunken presidential debates. If all of the candidates were required to have at least a .15 blood alcohol level to participate, the debates might well be entertaining enough to watch. The gloves would come off. You wouldn't have to put up with all of the political double talk and prepared comments. We might finally get a glimpse of the true candidates. And if Hillary sucker punched McCain or Obama, all the better.

This message was brought to you by Scott. The same innovative thinker who brought you the concept of voting against a candidate. Always at the forefront of political reform, see me first for the important political topics.

Curse Of The Golden Flower

Curse of the Golden Flower is a beautiful movie in every way. The costumes, sets, scenery, and actresses are all beautiful. The cinematography is amazing and grandiose. Battles with thousands of soldiers, huge ornate sets, and elaborate fight choreography, it is truly a visual feast.



But visuals alone are not worth the price of admission. Despite the slightly soap opera-esque plot, the story was still compelling. I don't really know how much I can describe without giving away too much, but I'll say that it is about a power struggle between the emperor, his wife, and his three sons. The story is told in a very subtle way. Until the end, most of the plot is hinted at and not told outright. This type of story telling demands more of it's actors, and this cast performed admirably.



If you're like me, when you see a big budget Hong Kong film, you prepare yourself for a lot of martial arts, particularly some unrealistic wire work. Personally I can't stand all of the flying around. I've asked my sensei to teach me to fly, or at the very least run across the tree tops, but he refuses. And until I can fly, I don't want to see it in my movies. Luckily there was none of that here. As a matter of fact, there was little action until the last 30 minutes of the movie. It is really plot driven, and not action driven. This pleases me.



I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I am now officially in love with Gong Li. I've seen her in several movies before - as a matter of fact 5 other films now that I look at it. Some of them were pretty bad (do not under any circumstances watch Miami Vice), and so it wasn't really until this movie that I completely fell for her. Sure, she still looked beautiful in the bad movies, but there is just something off putting about a bad movie, it clings to you like an offensive odor. But Curse of the Golden Flower has cleansed her of the bad film stigma, so if you read this Gong Li, will you marry me?

So all things considered, this movie gets 4 golden flowers out of 5. I bestow recommended viewing status upon it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Huh....

Occasionally I'll get some random comment on something I posted a long time ago, but this one is extra special. I got this anonymous comment that as far as I can tell really doesn't make any sense:

Urban intelligentsia sicken me. Hopefully the inevitable nuclear conflagration
of the future will wipe all metro areas over 500,000 population off the Earth,
and cleanse this planet of the urban hipsters who are now destroying it. Start
with those half-caf-decaf-laff-daff-a-plaff-maff or w/e friggin cafes.


This was in response to a post I had written in August about encountering a bum with extremely offensive body odor. I can only assume that whoever this is from is referring to me, since I doubt the bum would have been referred to as urban intelligentsia. I think this is some sort of backlash from the indigent community. Outraged by my intolerance of malodorous individuals, they have sworn a vendetta against me.

My first thought was that this was from old friend Devon, but this is pretty nonsensical even for him. Besides, I can always count on him to claim his work. He's not the kind of guy to hide behind the mask of anonymity. At this point I'm left to assume that some random nutjob just stumbled across my site. I know it's hard to believe that the internet of all places would be a haven of the mentally unbalanced, but this seems to be the case.

I would like to thank this anonymous commenter for being entertaining though.

In other news, the Mariners are now 1-0 in games I've attended. I'm going to make a rash prediction at this point and say that their record will remain unblemished in games attended by me this year. It's a long shot, I know, but that's my prediction.

Friday, April 11, 2008

How To

Sometimes I find these 'how to' articles interesting and occasionally almost useful, but how to make a crossbow from household items? What reason could anyone possibly have for wanting to do that? Perhaps someone who has been incarcerated might have a use for an article like this, or maybe even a juvenile delinquent, but that's about it.

Red Light Cameras

Any illusions I had entertained that there was any safety reason behind red light cameras are now gone. Not only have studies shown that these cameras actually increase the number of accidents, especially rear end collisions as drivers slam on the brakes to stop in time, but even worse, some cities have been caught illegally decreasing the length of yellow lights in order to issue more tickets. So cities are actually sacrificing public safety in order to boost revenues. This is despicable even for public officials whom I don't hold in particularly high regard as is. I don't know what can be done to increase public awareness of this, but some strong pressure needs to be placed on public officials to get rid of these cameras. I'm ready to sign a petition right now.

Dalai Lama

I saw this story on the front page of the PI about the Dalai Lama being in town, and all I can think is that in this picture, he is describing a woman he met at the bar last night. Based on my expertise in the field of body language and facial expressions, I can conclude no different. It is apparent that he met a very attractive tall woman with an hour glass figure and/or large breasts. And this is less clear, but from his raised eyebrows and weird smile, I think she was blonde.

Free Coffee Friday

It has been brought to my attention that McDonalds has started a new promotion - Free Coffee Friday. If you can make it in before 10:30 during the next 4 Fridays, you can get yourself a free latte. Sure it won't be the best coffee, but the price is right and I'm reasonable sure it's potable.

Also brought to my attention was the news that you could go to McDonalds web site and print up a coupon for a free espresso that can be used at any time, not just Fridays.

This public service announcement has been brought to you by Craw Fu, your #1 source for free coffee information. And if you know of any other free coffee promotions, please be sure to let me know.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

April Fools

Sorry, I forgot to get this up on April first, but you shouldn't be punished for my oversight. And just remember: you couldn't fool your mother on the foolingest day of your life if you had an electrified fooling machine.



I'll fool you up real nice.

Walk Hard

I just finished watching the Dewey Cox Story, and despite the fact that as I get older, the less tolerance I have for parodies, I have to admit that this one was pretty damn funny. Yes, it did have some stupid parts, I'm not going to pretend there weren't, but there were a few gut busting scenes. I don't often see something that actually makes me laugh out loud, but this movie had a few of them. The scene with the Temptations still makes me laugh when I think about it.

From what I had seen in the trailer, I didn't expect much from this. It looked too low brow for my tastes but after all of the positive reviews I decided to give it a shot. It could have had less juvenile humor and I would have been happier without the male full frontal nudity, and it could have been edited down about 10 minutes. Come to think of it, I'm not sure if I watched the directors cut or the theatrical version. Maybe the theatrical version didn't have those problems.

The timeliness of this movie couldn't have been better. Coming on the heels of an overabundance of musical biopics, I was ready for something to come along and skewer that genre. This movie had shades of the classic film Spinal Tap. And I can't say enough about the quality of acting from John C Reilly. He played the serious scenes convincingly, and was over the top when it was called for. I can't imagine the part being played by anyone else.

One of my favorite running gags was that every time a famous musician or band made an appearance, everyone in the scene was constantly referring to that musician or band by name. They must have said Buddy Holly 15 times in about a 3 minute scene. But even Buddy Holly was out shined by Elvis, every word out of his mouth nonsense. This movie masterfully played with the legends and reputations of real musicians.

So if you liked Spinal Tap and can tolerate a little crude humor, this is the movie for you. I was pleasantly surprised by it.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Solar Power

With the steep rise in oil prices, I have become increasingly interested in alternative energy sources, and recently solar power in particular. I've been wanting to invest in a company that manufactures solar panels, but really don't know who makes any, much less any of the fundamentals, and researching solar power stocks on investment sites has been a dead end. Well, my luck has now changed thanks to 2 interesting articles forwarded to me by my brother.

The first, interestingly enough is about a company in Abu Dhabi that is building some huge solar power plants. For a country so rich in oil, this strikes me as very forward thinking, although it makes perfect sense since the area is also a hotbed of solar activity. Where better for a solar plant than in a desert? I'm very curious to see how this story progresses.

Next, and even more interesting, is a story about some companies that are creating lightweight, flexible, and more importantly low cost solar panels. I now have these 3 companies to look into: HelioVolt, Miasolé, and Nanosolar. And what's particularly fascinating about this technology is some of the proposed uses. They can be molded to roofing tiles, so you don't have to have the traditional large glass panels mounted to your roof. They can be attached to the sides of office buildings, potentially allowing offices to become self sufficient and generate all the power they need. And possibly the most fascinating, embedded in clothing, allowing you to plug your cell phone, ipod, crackberry, whatever into your pocket and charge it as you walk around.

So, any additional information on solar power would be welcomed. I think that if production is ramped up sufficiently, we might see a big enough drop in manufacturing costs to make it economically feasible.

Free Coffee

This just in: Starbucks is giving away free 8 oz cups of it's new Pike Place blend today. Hopefully this will help turn around their stock, but I doubt it. I've got to go get some coffee now.....

Baby Born With 2 Faces

This story was forwarded to me today, and while my first inclination is to make some sort of Tommy Lee Jones joke (he played the character Two Face in one of the Batman movies), I feel that would be in poor taste and on further review, not that funny anyway.

But what I do wonder is why in India, children born with massive deformities seem to be viewed as deities. This baby girl is already being worshipped as the reincarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga. And a while back there was a baby born with 4 legs that was worshipped as Vishnu. I find it very odd that in virtually any other part of the world, the parents would be mortified by such birth defects. I guess it's lucky for these particular children that they were born in India.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Movies That Get To Me

Last night I watched Field of Dreams to get myself prepared for the baseball season, and I realized 2 things:

First, I kind of want to go to Iowa to visit the field where the film was shot. I know that I'd get there and after about 20 minutes I'd be bored and realize that there isn't anything else to do there, but I still have that urge.

Second, there are very few movies that I actually have an emotional response to, but even after having seen the movie many times, I still get a little choked up at the end. I don't know why, I've always had a good relationship with my dad, but it does get to me. The only other movie that I can think of off the top of my head that will always get me choked up is Saving Private Ryan. And like my tradition of watching Field of Dreams and The Natural at the start of each baseball season, I have a tradition of watching Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers on or around Memorial Day, so I will be watching those before too much longer. I may have to arrange a showing as Memorial Day approaches.

**one additional thing I learned just today while at the Field of Dreams movie site (top link), is that according to the home run derby game on there, I've got some incredible opposite field power. I hit a 501 foot home run. Top that.

RIP Charlton Heston

As I'm sure you've all heard by now, Charlton Heston died over night. Cause of death has not been announced, but apparently he has had Alzheimer's disease for a while and I would assume that to be the cause or at least a contributing factor. And while it's a shame to lose him, he did live a long full life, dying at 84. He entertained millions and left behind an impressive body of work. I assume that by now, Moses is giving him notes on how he should have been portrayed. Thanks for the memories Charlton.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Quote of the Day

I was looking at stock recommendations on The Motley Fool, and SpecBear - the #1 rated investor - or top fool, a truly delightful title - on the site perfectly encapsulated my own personal feelings about Sony.

My only CAPS pick driven primary by spite. I love my PS2, but I've been
severely put off by the contempt that Sony's shown for its customers.

I could argue that because Sony operates in highly competitive markets,
ticking off the customers will ultimately affect the bottom line.

But mainly it's the spite thing.


Now basing investments on personal feelings rather than company fundamentals is not recommended, but I was still delighted by this quote.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Shamelessly Stolen Poll

With her 18th chart-topper 'Touch My Body,' Mariah Carey has passed Elvis Presley for the most No. 1 singles on the Billboard singles chart, and is now second only to the Beatles.




I really have a hard time believing that Mariah Carey has had that many #1's. I couldn't name a song that she has sung in the past decade. Apparently while I thought she was just acting crazy to avoid fading into anonymity, she was actually pumping out hits. Who would have guessed?

Additionally, I have to admit that the title 'Touch My Body' kind of creeps me out a little. I hope you can overlook the unfortunate turn to low brow ville I'm taking here, but I wouldn't touch her body without - as the saying goes - double bagging it first. She has just gotten so skanky and gross over the years.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Hulu

I just found out about a new site today - Hulu. Streaming movies and tv shows. And all above board, so this site won't disappear one day like some of the other sites I've found in the past. This one is ad supported. The video quality isn't great, but it's way better than youtube and the like. See for your self.

Crazy Japanese Pranks

I don't know what they are saying in this, and the subtitles don't help, but this is pretty funny. Particularly the second prank. Let's watch!


Insane Japanese Pranks - The funniest videos clips are here

Useless Trivia!

Today's useless trivia is brought to you by Vogue magazine, who caused an uproar recently by putting Lebron James on the cover with Giselle Bundchen in a pose reminiscent of the old King Kong poster.

Oh crap, I got distracted for a minute there and forgot what my trivia question was going to be. A tremendous amount of free praise will be given to the person who can tell me what my trivia question was going to be.

Oh yeah, now I remember: What is the title to the theme song from Mash?

***Update***
And we have a winner. Melinda get's the praise.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Hope & Sorrow Preview

My copy is supposed to come in the mail tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have listened to it 2 or 3 times by this time tomorrow. Until then:

Featured Artist

This week's featured artist is Ashes Divide. Normally I'd put the video of their song up here for your viewing convenience, but unfortunately the jerks at the Universal Music Group decided to disable embedding and I was unable to find another watchable version elsewhere. The result, which I'm not sure Universal foresaw, is that most likely nobody will follow the link to watch the video for The Stone, effectively negating the purpose of posting the video to begin with. But nobody has accused record company executives of having any common sense anyway. And I'd be tempted to just pull the video off of youtube and post it myself, but this new computer has Vista and the video isn't in the temporary internet files anymore. I'm too lazy at the moment to find where Vista hides streaming video, but maybe later.

Ashes Divide features Billy Howerdel, best know as guitarist and founder of the band A Perfect Circle. So if you like A Perfect Circle at all or Tool, there's a good chance you'll enjoy this one. It's a little mellower and more melodic though, so no need to fear that this is some sort of ear splitting heavy metal.

Homer Sez


After ordering a subliminal weight loss tape but receiving a vocabulary building tape instead, Homer suddenly becomes so verbose that nobody knows what he is talking about. But after gaining 13 pounds, an indignant Homer chucks the tape and is soon back to his dumb old self, asking Marge, "where's one of those ..... things ..... for digging food?"
Luckily for us all, he composed this fabulous chart before reverting to his previous self. And you can find it here, along with other wonderful wallpapers in handy 1024 x 768 size, or my favorite, 1280 x 1024. Thank you for your words of wisdom Homer. And I believe "where a French guy does it" is my favorite.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Yes That's A Monkey

This just makes me want a pet monkey more than ever. Words can't really describe this, just sit back and enjoy. I'd like to see a cat try to do that.

Shodan

Today after work I headed down to the dojo for class as I often do on Tuesdays. What made this class different than normal was that at the end, my Sensei called me and one other student up in front of the class, slapped black belts on both of us, went through a short ceremony, and promoted both of us to the grade of shodan. Shortly afterward, he told us it was an April fool's joke.

Now I never believed for a minute that he was serious, but I will give him credit for a first rate April fool's joke. That's one of the best one's I've seen in quite a while. In retrospect, I should have grabbed the belt and run before he had a chance to take it back.