Friday, March 31, 2006

Thanks for the memories, Marquis

After 17 seasons as a Major League baseball player and nearly one year as the inspiration for a blog, Marquis Grissom retired from the game of baseball on Tuesday. He will be sorely missed, but at least he might have more free time with which to Google himself and find this blog. If you read this Marquis, don't hesitate to contact me.

"I'm at peace with myself. I'm happy," Grissom said. "I feel like the whole world has been lifted off my shoulders."

Oddly enough, this is exactly what I said when I started this blog. I was ecstatic that I could tell a medium-sized group of people anything I wanted to about my life or the world at large without having to call all of them.

The Way Things Work

Remember that big book with all those cool drawings of the insides of cars and light bulbs? Throw it out. I am going to tell you right now the real way things work.

You: Rich, how does an elevator work?
Me: You step inside, hit a button, and it takes you to the floor you want to go to. Sometimes it stops at other floors along the way because other people hit buttons too.

You: Rich, how does an airplane work?
Me: You pay JetBlue $300, you go to JFK airport, and 6 hours later you are in Los Angeles.

You: Rich, how does buying toilet paper work?
Me: You run out of it, so you finish wiping with a tissue. Then you say, "Mom, we're out of toilet paper." Next time you go to the bathroom, there is a new roll on the rack.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

NASA Incompetence

Despite featuring some of the brightest minds in America, NASA is wasting billions of dollars on silly projects. What about helping the people on Earth?

A gaming legend

Abdner Ashman. What does that name mean to you? Probably not much, although you might be wondering if his name is actually Abner. Well, make sure you call him Abdner and you marvel at his incredible Ms. Pac-Man skills. I learned a lot from the account of his record-breaking performance written by Robert Mruczek and you can too. Most interesting tidbits:

Through the first sixteen stages, when "Ms Pacman" eats an energizer dot, the ghosts turn blue for a short period of time, during which "Ms Pacman" can eat the ghosts for some big points. As the boards increase, the time that these ghosts turn blue and are vulnerable to being eaten decreases to about one second. During board 17 they do not turn blue at all, while in board 18 they turn blue (albeit briefly) one final time before they never turn blue again.

The Path to Victory

Boards 26 thru 53 inclusive - Some of the worst fruit distribution luck imagineable. Abdner receives only three (3) banana fruits out of 56 fruits for these 28 stages. Even Abdner was heard saying "Come ON !!"at some point, expressing his personal annoyance at this run of bad luck.

The Million Point Dream

The last frontier on this title is "fruit manipulation", a concept that may be a pipe dream, or which may very well be the key to a "Holy Grail" of video gaming...attaining a score of 1 million points on "Ms Pacman".

Experts have contended that if everything goes right, and the fruit distribution is about as perfect as they can expect, then they envision a possible score of maybe 1.003 million points as being possible under normal conditions on classic "Ms Pacman". And if you think that all it will take is just a few more bananas, think again. In twenty three years, only two (2) scores of over 920,000 points have been logged on the classic version of the title, separated by barely 1,000 points.


Like sporting event records...fastest 100M, highest high jump, longest home run...eventually the world records on all video games reach a point where competitors sit back and marvel at just how much effort had to go into setting such a score. Can the effort be duplicated ? Can they themselves pick up the skillset and challenge the world's best scores?

My own thoughts:

This brilliant site also lists high scores for all games. It turns out that I could get on this Tetris list! As my family can verify, I once got 211 lines in a game. And I could easily get over 160.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Good News?

Kobe Bryant has said, "I wouldn't mind being Jewish. I wouldn't mind. Really." I think it's a great idea for Kobe to convert. Particularly from a marketing perspective. First, he would have a Bar Mitzvah, then he would get roasted by the Friar's Club, and finally his mother would start telling him to eat more and start kvetching about Lamar Odom.

Baseball is back! Well, soon enough. In the meantime, read about how baseball actually DOES have competitive balance.

Should gambling be legalized?

Here's what Mark Cuban and the people who comment on his blog have to say. I am also adding Cuban's blog to the links!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Extra Credit

Someone in the office kindly brought donuts and danishes and other "cakes" into work this morning. But since the goodies are situated near my desk, I get all the credit as if they are mine. When I allowed a guy from the mail room to have a cruller earlier, he couldn't have been happier.

10,000th Page View

This milestone will be reached tomorrow probably. I'd like to thank myself for writing so many posts to make this all possible. I'd also like to thank my few loyal readers of course, but again, especially myself. I often check the blog even when I know that nothing new has been written because I am the only contributor and I get all comments e-mailed to me.

Bird Flu

Kingspawn has been on top of this for awhile. Today, The New York Times devoted a number of articles to it, including this question and answer session.

Also, troublesome, but minorly amusing. Male-female relations are seriously screwed up in Africa.

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Simpsons/South Park

I stand by what I wrote earlier about South Park surpassing The Simpsons these days. That said, I would also like to say that The Simpsons has improved itself this season, with the last three episodes all being ranging from fairly funny to very funny.

The episode "The Seemingly Never-Ending Story" was particularly clever and well-crafted. I also enjoyed last night's episode, "Homer Simpson, This is Your Wife" written by the amazing Ricky Gervais. Of special note was the live-action version of the opening credit sequence.

French Arrogance

Jacques Chirac really doesn't like the English language.

Imagine what Bush was thinking:

"When President Chirac had a one-to-one dinner last year with President Bush, he insisted on speaking his mother tongue the whole time, even though the US President could understand him only through an interpreter."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Nash v. Wade (No, not the legal case)

There has been a debate raging among my friends recently about who is a better player: Steve Nash or Dwyane Wade? Essentially, if you were starting a team from scratch, whom would you rather have? Here's what I have written on the subject:

Take a look at Nash's past statistics with the Mavericks. Very good, but clearly not as good as his stats with the Suns. And that was with a markedly more talented Mavericks team (at least when you compare them to this year's Suns). With more talent around him (a la D-Wade), shouldn't he have been "better"? The fact is that everyone who has played for the Suns the past two seasons has had markedly better offensive numbers than in previous seasons. I don't have the time for a comprehensive analysis of this phenomenon, but my hunch is that it has more to do with the overall team system than with just Nash. The Suns play the game in an entirely different fashion from every other team. This allows them to create all sorts of matchup problems and confuse teams that are not prepared for this offensive onslaught. That said, Nash is critical to running this system, and there are very few point guards, if any, that could run it so efficiently. The Suns' system has helped Nash as much as Nash has helped the Suns' system. Which is to say that it has been a highly beneficial symbiotic relationship! Nash is extremely well-suited to the run-and-gun style, and the run-and-gun style (with the right players) has proven to be very successful in the current NBA.

So we have a conundrum. And unfortunately there is no way to very accurately examine whether Nash or the system is more important (unless we ran the same system with a variety of different point guards over many games...I think that we would find in this case that most point guards would improve their numbers dramatically and all players on the team would perform similarly to how they do now, but that the offense would run best with Nash at the helm). But there's a difference between a top point guard and top players at other positions. Because of the nature of basketball, particularly the premiums placed on height and size, other positions are generally more valuable. So in the end, I think that Nash is an extremely valuable player and a top 10 guy in the league. If I was constructing a dream lineup I would make him my starting point guard. But if I was simply choosing the best players in the league, I would prefer LeBron, Duncan, Garnett, Shaq, Wade, Kobe, Nowitzki...

Friend's response:

Valid points Mr. Arboze, I am beginning to see some logic. However, the fact remains that with a much worse supporting cast in the tougher conference, Nash's team has a better record than Wade's (regardless of system - and Riley ain't a bad coach). I also didn't love your point about Nash with the Mavs because I think he is a better player now than he was with the Mavs. Your initial argument was "who would you take in one season right now?" All this being said, I want you to know that I am not at all biased because Wade is one of my favorite players and I have debates with Lapidus all the time because he thinks Wade is overrated.

My response:

First of all, you just can't say regardless of system! This is something that I forgot to include, but I will say it now. There are countless examples of innovative systems in sports that are extremely successful. Especially in the regular season, where a majority of games are against inferior opponents. I could write a whole article about this phenomenon, but I will instead just provide a couple of examples.

Example 1: Texas Tech Football. Coach Mike Leach comes in, takes a team with very little top-tier talent, all of sudden they win 9 or 10 games every year, even though none of their players (especially not their QBs putting up 400 yards a game and 5 TDs) go to the NFL. Why does Texas Tech succeed? Because of a brilliant offensive system that no one has ever seen before. Teams just don't know how to prepare for it (although my assumption is that they will start to figure it out). Notice that when Texas Tech played against Texas for example, the Red Raiders were throttled (much as the Suns this year have no chance against the Spurs unless Stoudemire plays 110%). However, against Kansas State, the score was 63-21 or whatever. Thus, despite having "inferior talent," Texas Tech is able to be a successful team. Meanwhile the Suns have mediocre talent this year, which you admit (last year they were one of the most talented teams in the league I would say with Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, and Quentin also...once they get Stoudemire back, they will be very talented again, he is THAT good), yet they are extremely successful again. One player alone just can't do that, even if he is the perfect point guard or whatever. I've always been anti-coach in general, saying that they get way too much credit in general, but I take all that back for coaches like Mike D'Antoni, who don't get ENOUGH credit!

Example 2: The Princeton Offense in basketball. It is now used by a number of teams with the motivation of beating more talented teams by playing more efficient basketball. And it has been very effective. By using uncommon discipline and teamwork, a team becomes much more than the sum of its parts (see Princeton's 1996 upset of UCLA for example...there probably wasn't a single player on Princeton objectively better than a single starter on UCLA, yet because of the way that the team played, Princeton won that game anyway...of course that is only one game, but Princeton constantly threatened to defeat or defeated teams far more talented than they were for a long stretch).

That's just two examples off the top of my head. We can all think of more later.

Second, here's what I would say about Nash on the Mavs vs. on the Suns. It is generally accepted that a player's basketball-playing prime is somewhere from around 27-30 years old. Nash is now 32 years old. Is it possible that he has become a much better player? Sure, of course. It's not that ridiculous to think. But is it more likely that he is at a similarly high skill level, but playing in an offense that takes much better advantage of his vast skills? I certainly tend to think so. It seems like a much more logical conclusion to me.

I know that this is a long post, but if you have gotten this far, what do you think?

Saturday, March 25, 2006


I went to this Brooklyn hipster joint last night and I loved the classic arcade games all over the bar. I even played Q*bert, Frogger, and the original Punch-Out!

Friday, March 24, 2006

More about South Park

In response to Finnegan and Alex (I wrote this a couple of years ago, but it is still essentially true):

Get thee to a Television!

“Whatever, I do what I want!” No, those are not the words of an 800-pound gorilla, although I do wonder how much Eric Cartman actually weighs. The big-boned fourth grader is the speaker in this case, but his words are really the rallying cry for the show in which he stars, Comedy Central’s brilliant animated comedy South Park. South Park, first conceived by Trey Parker and Matt Stone nearly ten years ago, has become the best comedy on television. This comment cannot be taken lightly with The Simpsons still on the air, but South Park has reached remarkable new heights of comedy.

The most amazing thing is that South Park has beaten The Simpsons at its own game in order to surpass it. That game involves the extraordinary ability of a show to appeal to both a smart audience and a dumb audience. In the same episode, South Park makes references to Silence of the Lambs and The Godfather, while focusing the entire effort on the toilet-papering of a house. It does what The Simpsons did well six or seven years ago, before it got obsessed with guest stars, among other things. South Park also has its fair share of guest stars, recently including Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, but they treat these guest stars far differently. Their voices are poor imitations, often performed by Parker and Stone themselves, and the celebrities are almost always mocked rather than revered.

The best thing about the show, whose four stars are a group of fourth-graders in the small town of South Park, Colorado, is its willingness to attack anyone and anything. Parker and Stone are not afraid to base entire shows around personal attacks, including the recent attack on Jennifer Lopez and an earlier episode attacking supposed psychic John Edward. But rather than just saying that these people are stupid and untalented, something that would be all too easy to do, Parker and Stone create elaborate and outlandish situations that more fully illustrate the absurdity of these celebrities.

Much like The Simpsons, South Park is able to use a seemingly ordinary town with seemingly ordinary children to address an incredible variety of social and political issues. Recent episodes have looked at such diverse topics as gang warfare, stem cell research, and the music industry. By using the people of South Park, especially the kids, Parker and Stone have been able to send out a more universal message about each of these subjects, and many more. They add to this by concluding each episode with a sort of moral given by one of the boys, usually Stan, the most “normal” of the bunch. He tells the audience what he has learned, and in turn what they should have learned, a nice way of concluding a half-hour of satire.

South Park may be crude on the surface, both in animation and in language, but this roughness around the edges actually belies the sharp and intelligent writing. South Park has the smartest and most offensive writing on television, daring to go beyond the boundaries that other shows will not even approach. The 100th episode of South Park just aired a few months ago and not only is it clear that the show has gotten better with age, it has only shown signs of improvement and one day soon it will be compared favorably forever with the show that it has overtaken, The Simpsons.

A pat on the back

Yes, Rich, you were spot on about the NHL when you wrote that brilliant analysis back in July. The only thing you neglected to foresee was the extraordinary play of Alexander Ovechkin. Oh well, nobody's perfect.

March Madness

Observations from Slate: A look at Annoying White Guys; a bit about how mid-majors are mostly majors without the talent, meaning they have the same lack of "student-athletes," written by former YDN editor-in-chief Jacob Leibenluft.

Observations from Rich: As amazing as MMOD is (for awhile I was watching both the Gonzaga-UCLA game and the West Virginia-Texas games at the same time), I noticed that there is a delay of around 40 seconds vs. the TV feed (which is delayed itself by at least 5 seconds or so)! So it was sort of disconcerting to see the 61-61 with 5:40 left on my computer, while the scoreboard on the top of the TV said 63-61 with 5:03 left. Not a huge deal I guess because most people would be just watching on their computers.

I feel terrible for Redick and Morrison, especially Morrison, as the Zags obviously should have won that game. But that's the nature of the Tourney. Of course the Gonzaga loss can't hinge on just one play, but how can Batista, a big strong guy, get stripped in that situation. He's gotta hold onto the ball better. And then Raivio went out of control back the other way. Tough way to go for the Zags. As for Duke, the Blue Devils picked a bad time to play their worst game of the season. They shot under 30 % for the game!! Redick forced too many shots and simply had an off night. I still think that he will be a solid pro because he will never again have to worry about the kind of defensive attention that LSU gave him. He will be an NBA role player, a gunner. It was a rough night all around as I was hoping that West Virginia and my boy Mike Gansey could do the deed against Texas, but alas it was not to be. Even with a miracle from Pittsnogle...

Lest you all think that I only like white players, I will soon be posting my arguments for Dwyane Wade's superiority over Steve Nash. You might think that is much of a debate, but my friends have been talking up Nash quite a lot over the last two days.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Too Funny

From Overheard in New York:

"...No! Not that! Anything but that!"

Toddler boy: I don't need to go anymore.
Dad: I just waited in line for ten minutes. You better fart or something.

--Public bathroom, Coney Island

The Candace Parker Fiasco

Jason Whitlock is right on in his analysis of the situation. As he was when she even more ludicrously won the high school slam dunk contest two years ago. And as I was on Monday.

Call me

I have the ring from 24 on my new phone at work.


Ironically, this cartoon actually first appeared in 2001!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Very Topical

A great piece from The Onion. I find it of particular relevance to Dan, my parents, and our friend Nostradamus of course.

I have added some links to "The Bloggies." You will be familiar with Tight Toy Night and Stop Shaking the Baby from Delino and links on other blogs. Boycott the Knicks is blessed with brilliant content, but a terrible layout. But it is worth your while. Of particular note: a comparison of Isiah Thomas and Robert Mugabe. Modern Demagogue is a great blog name, but I question the names of the actual contributors, Llamapus and Emophor. Oh well. At least you can read long rants about anything and everything there.

What a Story!

Bro, I hope that you get to the Super Bowl, so that I can watch from the 50-yard-line, then party with Snoop Dogg. Then go to prison for an extra 4 1/2 years!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

See? We already are not as productive as we could be

So quit saying that the NCAA tournament costs businesses $3.8 billion.

Terri Watch

Michael Schiavo speaks out.

The nuts:

Asked why he stayed technically married to Terri even though he was openly living with Jodi before his wife died, Schiavo said, "Why [did] I have to divorce Terri?

"Terri wasn't like a football . . . an inanimate object you pass back and forth. She was my wife. You mean, because your wife gets sick, do you give her back?"

Beware Anonymous Flamers

Follow this new lawsuit closely...


Ok, you might not have to be so careful.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Au Bon Pain... inferior to Hale and Hearty in every single way. I made the mistake of trying the Au Bon Pain New England Clam Chowder from the dining hall last week. Too creamy! No one in New York should ever go to Au Bon Pain. Hale and Hearty is everywhere these days and serves far superior food.

To BCS or Not to BCS?

Take a look at this analysis of the NCAA tournament selection controversy. As usual, it shows that Billy Packer is an idiot.

Oh, and if you want to become a ninja? It's not so easy.

More good basketball analysis. This time it is about the NBA and the significance of "Extreme Individual Performances" on wins and losses.

Somewhat obvious, but true.

NES gadgets.

Scientology Follow-Up

For more on the South Park Scientology scandal, read here. I especially encourage you to watch the entire episode, if you haven't seen it yet. I even plan to watch it again and put it on my iPod.


People were amazed by Candace Parker's dunks today. I was not. She barely got above the rim. She is 6'4" tall. Come on.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sunday Night Reading

Some light stuff for the evening. One of mine and Dan's favorite topics: Scientology. I think that it is funny that everything in this "religion" has an acronym-style abbreviation (even L. Ron Hubbard is LRH...and an incredible fraud). Also, have you seen that thanks to Tom Cruise, we may never see the incredible South Park scientology episode again? Hopefully this article won't be pulled from the internet.

Choice quotes:

Scientology -- the term means "the study of truth," in the words of its founder and spiritual messiah, the late science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard -- calls itself "the world's fastest-growing religion."

Critics of the church point out that Scientology, unique among religions, withholds key aspects of its central theology from all but its most exalted followers. To those in the mainstream, this would be akin to the Catholic Church refusing to tell all but a select number of the faithful that Jesus Christ died for their sins.

Church officials boast that Scientology has grown more in the past five years than in the previous fifty. Some evidence, however, suggests otherwise.

Scientology releases no information about its membership or its finances. Nor does it welcome analysis of its writings or practices. The church has a storied reputation for squelching its critics through litigation, and according to some reports, intimidation (a trait that may explain why the creators of South Park jokingly attributed every credit on its November 2005 sendup of Scientology to the fictional John and Jane Smith; Paramount, reportedly under pressure, has agreed not to rerun the episode here or to air it in England).

"We're not playing some minor game in Scientology," Hubbard wrote in a policy paper titled "Keeping Scientology Working," which is required reading for every member. "The whole agonized future of this planet, every man, woman and child on it, and your own destiny for the next endless trillions of years depend on what you do here and now with and in Scientology. This is a deadly serious activity."

Both of Natalie's parents are Clear, she says. Her grandmother is what's called an "Operating Thetan," or "OT." So is Tom Cruise, who is near the top of Scientology's Bridge, at a level known as OT VII. OTs are Scientology's elite -- enlightened beings who are said to have total "control" over themselves and their environment. OTs can allegedly move inanimate objects with their minds, leave their bodies at will and telepathically communicate with, and control the behavior of, both animals and human beings. At the highest levels, they are allegedly liberated from the physical universe, to the point where they can psychically control what Scientologists call MEST: Matter, Energy, Space and Time.

The brain, Rurik says, has absolutely no bearing on our thoughts or feelings. Nor, he adds, does the mind -- its chief function is to serve as a memory bank of all we've experienced in trillions of years of lifetimes. Indeed, Scientology holds that the entire field of neurological and mental-health research -- from Freud to the study of brain chemistry -- is pseudoscience. In Scientology's overview text, What Is Scientology?, psychiatry is described as a "hodgepodge of unproven theories that have never produced any result -- except an ability to make the unmanageable and mutinous more docile and quiet, and turn the troubled into apathetic souls beyond the point of caring." (Note: I like that Scientologists dislike psychiatry.)

Scientology has been extremely effective at attacking its defectors, often destroying their credibility entirely, a policy that observers call "dead agenting." Some of the church's highest-profile critics say they have been on the receiving end of this policy. In the past six years, Tory Christman claims, the church has spread lies about her on the Internet, filed suit against her for violating an injunction for picketing on church property and attempted to get her fired from her job. Rinder dismisses Christman as a "wacko" and says her allegations are "absolute bullshit."

Discussion, as some academics like Kent note, isn't encouraged in Scientology, nor in Scientology-oriented schools. It is seen as running counter to the teachings of Scientology, which are absolute. Thus, debate is relegated to those in the world of "Wogs" -- what Scientologists call non-Scientologists. Or, as Hubbard described them, "common, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety humanoid[s]."

"Scientology has a plausible explanation for everything they do -- that's the genius of it," says Sara. "But make no mistakes: Scientology is brainwashing."

and so on and so forth...

Friday, March 17, 2006


Obvious but true that March Madness on Demand is brilliant (although I don't understand why there is no live scoreboard in the interface). I especially like the "Boss Button" that immediately puts up a random spreadsheet on the screen. Imagine if you had this in life. Right before you were caught doing something wrong, you could just press a button and be safe. Sort of like the dark side of the Staples easy button.

Example: A husband looking at internet pornography becomes a husband looking at Tiffany's jewelry for his wife at the click of a button. (Maybe that's a bad example, that already exists with Alt-Tab.)

Another example: You are about to walk into Subway for a sandwich. You hit the button and it looks like you are going to walk into somewhere that doesn't smell terrible.

Look what I found

How do you get from Marquis Grissom to Delino DeShields?

Practice, practice, practice. (And I always thought that I just had to click the link on the sidebar.)

A Sense of Legitimacy

My review of a show I saw at the UCB Theatre was quoted on Brooklyn Vegan. This is supposed to be a big deal of sorts. Thanks Brooklyn Vegan, but you're looking a little pale lately, how about a nice glass of milk?


I just registered Marquis over at NYC Bloggers, where I found this little gem. Rather, I stumbled on this blog, and upon reading the description, I suspected that I might have started it with Dan late one night without remembering it. Apparently not.

Also, this amazes me, but I feel like people at work complain way less about being too tired than people did in college. I might think this because I don't really talk to people at work.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Office: Tournament Edition

My first NCAA tourney in an office setting. Going pretty well so far as I was able to watch the end of regulation and both overtimes of the only exciting game (Pacific-Boston College). I also caught portions of the other games. Good job Wisconsin-Milwaukee! Oklahoma was garbage. It's funny when people randomly yell things out and you know it's because they are following the tourney on their computers.

Also, I have noticed once again the office obsession with any free food. There is a huge box of Snickers on top of a file cabinet near my desk. Everyone who walks by comments, "Wow, Snickers!" or something to that effect. I even fell prey to the siren song of the Snickers. The box is quickly emptying itself out.

The Fabulous Foer Boys

A nice post about the Foer family over at the soon-to-be-live-I-have-a-sneak-preview-I-think Yale Herald blog. What Alex neglects to tell you is the story about my interaction with Josh Foer in Trumbull College:

It was the Winter of Aught-Three and I was but a callow sophomore when my residential college announced the beginning of a game called Assassins. Cognizant of the fact that I was fearful of playing alone, my roommates Nicholas and Joseph decided to play with me. We had ever so much fun shooting those little plastic darts around the common rooms and great halls of Trumbull, but when the game officially began, we became deathly serious.

After three days inside our room, we ventured forth to go to the bathroom together. No, not to use the same stall, but to provide cover for each other on the way into that safest of safe zones. Alas, it was on that fateful trek that young Nicholas met his proverbial maker. The assassin? None other than United States memory champion Joshua Foer. Foer had an impish grin on his face as he snuffed out the hopes and dreams of someone who had played the game as well he possibly could have up to that point.

Nicholas understood that he had been beaten by a better man. Foer's dedication to the game became legendary as he ultimately murdered his way to victory and the victory cigars that came with it.

(Editor's Note: This is the best that I can recall of the story. The only part that I am 100% sure about is that Josh Foer killed Nick in Trumbull College Assassins one year between 2002 and 2004.)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Power of Marquis

They said I couldn't touch people's lives with this blog? I say: "Look at the most recent comment on this post."

Am I the only one?

I just can't help but look up every time someone passes my desk. It creates some awkward eye contact situations, but I guess that is just a hazard of working in an office.

The Onion giveth and The Onion giveth more

First, a fascinating interview with Matisyahu, an Hasidic Jew who makes "reggae-fueled" music that's fun for the whole family and then some.

Second, an article that explains what women are really like. Notice the Hidden Hand reference. I didn't know that you had so much influence Kingspawn:

"Ericsson said he began to suspect a "hidden hand" at work during the months following his 2004 breakup with then-fiancée Sara Osborne, when potential dates routinely refused to return his calls or e-mails. "

Third, it is a good thing that we are saving the African children.

Finally, on a different note, Jayson Stark gives some good ideas for improving the World Baseball Classic. I have enjoyed the games that I have watched so far, but it has often been tough to find them on TV. Also, I would change the tie-breaker system. The first tie breaker (after head-to-head) should be run differential, not runs allowed. Winning 12-8 should be just as good as winning 6-2.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More about my well-spent youth

This afternoon I have been reading a little bit about one of my favorite subjects: the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). I was driven to this distraction by a clever little piece of internet journalism which I found courtesy of this link description from the Sports Guy's intern: (Daniel M. in NC) -- The ideal fantasy baseball lineup if compiled entirely of classic Nintendo characters. I'd probably have just picked the American Dreams from "Baseball Stars" or something, but that's admittedly much lazier and less entertaining, kind of like the whole "Pistons as the Olympic team" argument.

Of course the reference to "Baseball Stars" got me excited and I decided to read more about the game I love. Wikipedia has an incredibly detailed analysis of the game. Of particular note to me was the description of the "Luck" player attribute:

Luck (?): Unknown. Luck's exact affect on the game is currently unknown. One theory is that "close calls" are awarded to the player with the higher luck. Another theory is that luck helps players get hits that sneak through the defensive holes, or get hits when the game is on-the-line. It has also been suggested that luck helps players out defensively by decreasing the chances of a bad throw. There is also the theory that luck is a bogus category that has no effect whatsoever.

Amazingly, even after 17 years, no one knows what this value actually means to a player. All I know is that if you give me Oh, Kagenu, and the rest of the Japan Robins, I'll take on anyone.

Peter Tomarken hits a Whammy

A tragic plane crash took the life of Peter Tomarken and his wife yesterday. Tomarken was the former host of the classic game show Press Your Luck and another Berger family favorite, Wipeout. Few things were more exciting to my 8-year-old mind than coming home from school to catch a re-run of this show and hearing someone yell "No whammies, no whammies, no whammies, stop!" Tomarken joins Ray Combs as another game show host who left us too early. Let us hope that a better fate awaits the Yale blogosphere's own beloved game show host, Tom.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Should Steroids actually be allowed in sports?

An interesting look at the issue. We all know what Finnegan thinks already...

Also, is there more point shaving going on in college basketball?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bizarro Dan

He has been found. His name is Dan J. Berger and he has his very own blog. Amazingly, both Dans took note of this article, albeit from different sources.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Good news

Slobodan is dead. And my team won its first touch football game.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Social Networking

An interesting interview that suggests that it is impossible to be truly self-made. I don't know though, I think that I am making a pretty good case in the other direction...

What the...?

I saw a three-legged dog on the way to work today. And no, it was not wearing Levi's three-legged jeans.

This looks healthy.

Yale on O'Reilly and O'Reilly on Yale

Wednesday night's episode of The O'Reilly Factor featured a discussion of the two major current Yale-related news stories: the Taliban student and military recruiting in law schools. Mr. O'Reilly brought two Yale College seniors (Zvika Krieger and Andrew Bender) onto the show to talk about the issues at hand. Krieger and Bender acquitted themselves fairly well, but O'Reilly came off looking somewhat buffoonish as usual. He focused too much on discussing the law school controversy with undergrads who weren't closely connected to the issue. But that was nothing compared to his final question: "Does Yale hate America?"

The only thing worse than O'Reilly was the e-mail response to the segment. Someone complained about her son not getting into Yale Law School because of Hashemi. Hashemi has nothing to do with the law school!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Will they make a difference?

Clocks in casinos.

Let's go Red Bull!

Strange, but true. You can now root on your favorite energy drink on a soccer field in the United States. Maybe the players will grow wings and fly around the field? Would that be an advantage in soccer? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But the key would be if you could hold onto the ball in the air without using your hands. That would make it a big advantage.

Parental Control

Inspired by Mulatto Jesus, Dan and I just watched an episode of this show and we loved it! More good reality TV. After so much wrong, there is finally so much right. I will spare you all the details of the episode (except for the fact that the mom's broken English made things much funnier), but I will tell you what happened at the end. As is customary, Jamie (the boy) was discussing his dates and his final decision. He had narrowed things down to his current girlfriend Natalie and his potential new girl, Brianna. After discussing the pros and cons of each girl, he said, "This has been really hard, but I've made my decision and I choose..." and then the DVR recording ended! Dan and I fell off the edges of our seats and then started crying. Who did he choose? Has anyone seen this episode? Can you shed some light on the situation?

(I am going to do some research, but I am really relying on the rest of the blogosphere to help me out here.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Onion does it again

A great new article here about Iraq. Although I have been preaching the importance of semi-violent behavior for years regarding my relationship with Dan.

In other news, despite doing very well myself, I was somewhat humbled by the play of an Asian pop-a-shot machine (and another man who may or may not have been homeless, but he sure knew how to bank those shots in). At least I saw how good he was before I started shooting, so I wasn't overly cocky.

Finally, I am going to Peter Luger Steak House tonight. I'll try to bring you back some Channukah gelt.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Simply incredible

Not much else to say about this family that walks on all fours.

Nut graf (as others might say):

"The five are all mentally retarded. Their mother and father, who are closely related are believed to have handed down a unique combination of genes which result in the behaviour."

White Men CAN Jump

Or at least they can shoot. And be excellent college basketball players.

Entertaining Television

Last night showed me that there is still hope in reality television. Specifically in the form of Deal or No Deal and Pros vs. Joes. I blogged about Deal or No Deal before I had ever seen the show. Now that I have seen it, I have enjoyed it a lot. The game itself is pretty interesting, but proper strategy is always skewed by the fact that the amounts on offer mean way too much to the people playing. But this just makes the viewing experience more fun when you watch someone turn down $150,000 because she has a 1 in 4 chance of $400,000. And then she ends up with $5 (instead of taking the deal like she should have). The people are what make the show, as the contestants are mostly hilarious. They really ham it up for the cameras and I admit that I find it a pleasure to watch (although at this point I fast-forward through a lot of the briefcase choices.

Pros vs. Joes hooked me from the beginning with the introductions of the professional athletes. I was very impressed with the quality of players willing to appear, including none other than Jerry Rice, the greatest football receiver of all-time, who is now obsessed with reality television. Other athletes on the first episode were Dennis Rodman, Matt Williams, Goldberg, and Jim McMahon. But Rice stole the show, entering the locker room sounding like "The Ladies Man," and going on to verbally and physically (on the football field) abuse the Joes. Rice has totally reinvented himself in my eyes, and I think he's been highly entertaining so far. I always equated Rice with Michael Jordan in a sense as the perfect, proper athlete who was always composed. Turns out both guys are way more interesting and more like regular people. Good. There were issues with the format of Pros vs. Joes, but overall it was an incredibly entertaining show. Although I feel that it might be better (and certainly more competitive) if average Joes faced off against top former FEMALE athletes. Food for thought and probably in the works already.

But as much as I like these new shows, nothing will ever live up to Man vs. Beast, the greatest reality show in history, and one that deserves a post in its own right. But I will wait for the third installment to write extensively about it. For now, chew on these morsels about events that took place in the two glorious episodes that were made. A 100m race between a man and a giraffe, followed by a 100m race between the same man and a zebra (Note: The man, Shawn Crawford, later became an Olympic Gold Medalist after beating the giraffe and losing to the zebra. The giraffe and zebra are still eating a lot of grass and leaves). A tug-of-war between a sumo wrestler and a female orangutan (naturally won by the orangutan). And finally, a hot dog eating contest between the legendary Japanese Takeru Kobayashi, and a Kodiak bear from Alaska. Needless to say, the show's producers made this an America vs. Japan match up and the lucky viewers watched a seemingly bored bear demolish the greatest eating machine humanity could offer.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Reaction to the Oscars

After such an incredible celebration of Jews and gays, I figured Brokeback Mountain was even more of a lock to win at last nights Academy Awards. Whoops. I was completely shocked when Crash took home Best Picture. I was even more shocked, however, at how poorly organized the show was as a whole.

In case the producers don't realize this, the awards that people are most interested in are the major awards, especially Best Picture. Yet the telecast spent close to 30 minutes of air time on performing songs that few people have ever heard (although I was very happy that one group, the Three 6 Mafia, got to perform...incidentally they gave the best acceptance speech of the night after their deserved victory for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"), and showing montages about film noir and epics that were purely self-congratulatory. Lauren Bacall's introduction to the film noir montage was a total nightmare for everyone involved, as she consistently stumbled through her speech. Dan even wanted to fast-forward past it because he felt so uncomfortable watching it. Then, after all that, the telecast spent about 10 minutes combined on handing out the Best Director and Best Picture awards. This would be somewhat akin to the Super Bowl spending three hours on the halftime show and then fast-forwarding through the game-winning field goal as time expired (and then going off the air before the audience could even understand what had happened). Shameful.

Jon Stewart was solid as host. He definitely got better as the night went on, and I was especially happy that he also noticed the fact that Larry McMurtry was wearing jeans. That was incredible. My favorite parts of the show were the various fake ads narrated by Stephen Colbert. Reminded me of Mr. Show. Well done there. I also thought it was funny when the guy from Tsotsi, winner of Best Foreign Language Film, read the teleprompter out loud. He said, "Time to wrap up. Ok, fine, fine." Don't give away the Academy's secrets! Although it might have helped Lauren Bacall...

Addendum: One final thing that I forgot to mention was the TERRIBLE decision to play music throughout every acceptance speech. People had to fight to be heard over the music, which was horribly distracting. They used to play music when people went on too long, not as soon as they picked up the award!

Addendum #2: From Slate: "In 2037, some media studies major will write an un­der­gradu­ate thesis on the 78th Annual Academy Awards as a tipping point in 21st-­cen­tury pop culture, a critical text of the iPod era, and she will get a B+."

Friday, March 03, 2006

A new angle on WBC pitch counts

Everyone (the three Americans following the World Baseball Classic) is talking about how unfortunate it is that the enforced low pitch counts might deprive viewers of the best possible pitching matchups in this tournament. But what if we think about this another way. Don't pitchers generally get worse later in starts? Could it be advantageous for Venezuela to have Johan Santana pitch 5 innings, Freddy Garcia 3 innings, and Francisco Rodriguez 1 inning? I don't know, but I've thought about this a lot (mostly when I am playing an exhibition in a baseball video game). It seems like an advantage to me...

Am I a Connector?

I'm not sure...but I am sure that my friend Dave is.

Also, I find Gladwell's work to be extremely kindred in spirit to the done in Freakonomics. Which reflects well on both parties. Other people have probably pointed this out before, but I figured that I would say it anyway.

Finally, on a different issue, are you telling me that my buddies in Karachi can't read this blog? What a nightmare!

I don't know why I've never seen this before

Being a big Manny Ramirez fan, I naturally like his website.

And check out this exchange between Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell. Part I here. Part II here.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Schiavo Lives!

At least she still inspires greatness in others.

Good thing...

...I don't have to face these nightmarish working conditions.

The Constitution? Cluttered with Amendments...

Here is a legal document for the masses. When most of you think of J. Howard Marshall (better known as that old, lecherous pervert who married Anna Nicole Smith), you see him as sad, old, and pathetic. But if you read a little more about him, you realize that he was a ruthlessly successful Texas businessman who would stop at nothing to get what he wanted (including legal documents no longer than 1 or 2 pages). Which is how he ended up married to Vickie Lynn Marshall, better known as Anna Nicole Smith (amazingly he had a similar relationship with another stripper named "Lady" Diane Walker ten years earlier). Which is where this story gets even more interesting.

First of all, Vickie only had an eighth grade education. This was evident in her semi-illiteracy. She "has trouble with zeros" and until recently, wrote "25.00" to mean "$2,500." Furthermore, J. Howard later even called her "unteachable." So with a young son and few viable job options, she became a dancer at a strip club (a sad fate for a lot of poor, uneducated women, but they do make a surprisingly high amount of money). She was "lucky" enough, however, to be working the day shift when J. Howard rolled in. She danced for him, he tried to grab her breasts (this is in the document...imagine a sickly 86-year-old at a strip club feebly trying to grab a stripper's breasts...incredible stuff), and a courtship began. He lavished money and gifts on her and she was obviously happy to accept them. But it is fascinating to note that she refused his marriage proposals for three years before finally accepting! She wanted to have her own career first (meaning she wanted to pose in Playboy).

Later, when J. Howard was in the hospital, Vickie "climbed into his bed, exposed her breasts and asked [him], 'Do you miss your rosebuds?'" Six months later, he was dead. I'm not going to bore you with the rest of the money dispute details between Vickie and Pierce Marshall, but I will encourage you to read some of the document for your own amusement.

Shameless self-promotion

Look at me, look at me (at the end of the article)!

Also, Spamalot was clever, well-executed, and funny. Or as Dan said, "Divine."

And this video does a decent job of making fun of Microsoft.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Hammer Time!

An incredible discovery here. MC Hammer has his own blog. I thought that it was a hoax...but it seems to be real.

Meeting Squash superstar Jonathon Power

After watching Gregory Gaultier's brilliant upset of defending champion Anthony Ricketts in the Tournament of Champions last night at Grand Central Terminal, I turned around to see none other than Jonathon Power standing a few feet away from me.

After watching him absolutely obliterate his countryman Matthew Giuffre 11-1, 11-0, 11-1 the night before, I decided to approach the Canadian professional.

Me: Just wanted to say that I was very impressed with your play last night.
Power (smiling): Thanks so much.
Me: So, you have any tips for a mediocre squash player?
Power (chuckles, thinks about how absurd it is for me to call myself mediocre): Just make sure you always play within yourself. (Or something like that.)

What should have happened:
Me: So Jonathon, what do you think about that picture they have of you at the Yale Club? You know the one that they show people in order to make sure that they wear goggles?
Power: Um, what are you talking about?
Me: The picture where you clearly just got nailed in the face by a squash ball...why wouldn't you wear goggles when you play now?
Power: Alright, alright you got me, that was a promotional picture that Louis and I made together. I never got hit in the face. But it has you wearing goggles, right? Oh yeah, and next time you go to the YC can you ask Louis how his junk is? Tell him mine is doing great.

I also could have asked him why he has an "o" at the end of "Jonathon?" Is it a Canadian thing?

On another semi-celebrity note, Wayne Chrebet just walked by my desk with his arm in a sling.