Monday, October 31, 2005
"There were no reports of serious injuries or property damage," Police Chief Noble Wray and Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said in a joint statement Sunday. "But for the fourth year in a row, police had to don riot gear and deploy pepper spray to clear a disorderly and dangerous crowd."
Okay, so if no one was injuring anyone and no one was damaging property, why did police have to don riot gear and deploy pepper spray? Then there's this:
City officials like Downtown Alderman Mike Verveer who witnessed the pepper spraying had only praise for Madison police, saying they tried first to clear State Street by walking through the crowd and playing messages on a loudspeaker. Verveer said police felt they had to spray a rowdy crowd on the 500 block of State Street, where at least some were chanting "We want tear gas!" Some revelers said the pepper spray also affected innocent bystanders. State Street Brats bartender Jason Heyerdahl said employees in the bar had to climb to the second floor after pepper spray drifted through the front door.
It seems to me that city officials created a situation where kids expect to get rowdy and police expect to use pepper spray. When that's the case, you're going to have a rowdy crowd getting pepper sprayed. My hunch is that if our idiot mayor would just shut the hell up and the cops would keep their pepper spray out of it, the crowd would eventually disperse without inicident. Wishful thinking. But I had fun and I didn't have any run-ins with the cops. Here's last year's Halloween post.
And this looks like some spooky Halloween news.
Halloween in Madison
"The overwhelming majority of the infractions committed by revelers were open intoxicants and underage drinking," he said. “Trailing far behind were disorderly conduct, violation of the glass ban and public urination — there were a few resisting an officer, battery and drug arrests as well."
How do I know that the cops overstepped their bounds this year (if any of you were there last night and disagree, feel free to chime in, by the way)? Simple.
Pepper spray is appropriate if there is destruction, fighting, etc. No one claims that any of this occurred. Instead, the cause of the pepper spray seems to have been 2:00:
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, who was at the police command post during the disturbance, said the command for officers to put on their riot gear came at 1:52 am post daylight savings time and the command to unleash the spray came at 2:08 am.
Well now. 2:00! That is a good reason to severely injure a bunch of students. And in a classic Madison move, the Mayor is threatening to close down State Street next Halloween:
"We have to ask ourselves as a community if it's worth spending more than a quarter of a million dollars in public money to support an event that is built around the overconsumption of alcohol," an angry Cieslewicz said Sunday afternoon, adding he'd like to see the city shut down State Street next year under essentially martial law. "It's the world's largest collection of obnoxious drunks. I see no value in it."First of all, hearing any Madison politician concerned over a waste of public money is hilarious. Secondly, the mayor seems concerned primarily with the safety of police officers. If that is the case, might I suggest that he not send quite so many, or send them to areas where there are fights and destruction of property. The point of having police officers is not to keep the police officers safe. It is to keep everyone else safe. Cops deal with murderers and thieves all day, and simply patroling a party should be a nice break from their day.
I would advise him not to have them arbitrarily fling tear gas into a large crowd.
So the local government causes most of the problems at Halloween, and, as a solution, they want to cancel the event. I think it's funny that they think this possible. To do so, they would have to shut down State St. all weekend. I don't think that people are going to put up with that. Halloween is not some government sanctioned party. It's spontaneous.
That's why it is fun.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Fun Friday, Part 2
And if you need a costume ideas, here is a complete list of all of the costumes from every episode.
Ozzie Guillen for Supreme Court!
Having just won the World Series as manager of the Chicago White Sox, his popularity is at an all time high.
Born on January 20, 1964.
I don’t use computers. Yeah, I have e-mail. But what’s so hard about e-mail? It’s just “delete, delete, delete.”
He will help improve strained US/Venezuala relations:
All over the bars and restaurants, baseball fans are abuzz about Oswaldo.
While he's called Ozzie Guillen in the United States, Venezuelans know the White Sox manager by his full name. And with Chicago on the verge of winning the World Series, pride is swelling for the national hero.
"We love Ozzie," Simon Lopez said in one packed nightspot. "He plays a different baseball: Caribbean style."
Fans in the South American country on the Caribbean coast tend to root for the major league teams with the best Venezuelan representation.
Daniel Barrios, a 27-year-old civil engineer, said he would be rooting for the Houston Astros if not for Guillen's presence with the White Sox.
"Interest has grown a lot," Lopez said. "This series has gotten a lot of Venezuelans involved."
He's highly intelligent:
I’m smarter than a lot of guys who go to Harvard. When you come to this country and you can’t speak any English at 16 years old, and you have to survive, you have to have something smart in your body. If you take one of those Harvard guys and drop them in the middle of Caracas, they won’t survive. But if you drop me in the middle of Harvard, I’ll survive.
And if that's not enough for the administration, he is also a man of faith:
Something you believe that very few people do?
There are any number of safe and careful places Ozzie Guillen could have gone with this answer when asked during spring training. But the manager of the Chicago White Sox doesn't do safe and careful. What fun is that? So Guillen didn't say he believed in everlasting love, second chances or the designated hitter. He settled on this:
''I've got a real weird religion,'' Guillen said.
''Santeria,'' he said.
It's a bloody religion, imported from Africa. Guillen believes in animal sacrifice.
Heck, if Chicago fans had known it would work like this, they might have endorsed human sacrifice.
You kill animals, Ozzie?
''Back in my country [Venezuela], yes, I do,'' Guillen said.
So call your congressman today, and tell them to pressure the White House into making the only sensible choice.
Ozzie Guillen: A self made man, who came to this country to make something of himself, and who, on occasion, participates in the ritual sacrifice of chickens.
Fun Friday, Part 1
The Carnival of the Badger
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Chad Johnson, Talking Smack.
I must confess that I don't know much about her philosophy or her qualifications, but she also served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court before heading to the Seventh Circuit, which is a nice start to say the least.
I just thought that I'd mention it.
Harriet Miers, fast version.
1. She was unqualified.
2. She was more likely to agree with me politically than anyone else that Bush will nominate.
3. There was certainly no guarantee that she would agree with me politically.
4. I don't necessarily care if a judge agrees with me politically. If I was a judge, I would be forced to make many rulings with which I did not agree politically on a regular basis.
5. She would likely have ruled like a politician, that is, without an underlying philosophy. This bothers me.
6. There are better alternatives.
7. All conservative nominees scare me a bit.
8. All liberal nominees scare me a bit too.
9. I don't really like anyone with a serious chance to be nominated to the Supreme Court.
10. It's difficult to care that much when you're in that situation. Doing so leaves you perpetually worried. I'm not much or a worrier.
Conclusion: She would have been bad at her job. The fact that someone that I have greater political disagreements with, but that is more qualified, will probably now get that job is an improvement. The problem that I face is not that I am incapable of sneaking a candidate that I like past a bunch of conservatives. The problem that I face is that there are a bunch of conservatives in charge. This is the fault of a bunch of voters. As per usual.
By the way, kudos to Charles Krauthammer for coming up with the Miers exit strategy. I suppose it's possible that someone from the administration fed him the idea, but it seems a little too smart for that.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
The Bucks make a trade.
I'm still sick.
I haven't really followed the news much lately. I only made it through the 8th inning last night, and the cold makes reading a bit of a chore. That said, did you know that we're ruled by investment geniuses?
Last year, Alan Ziobrowski, a professor at Georgia State, headed the first-ever systematic study of politicians as investors. Ziobrowski and his colleagues looked at six thousand stock transactions made by senators between 1993 and 1998. Over that time, senators beat the market, on average, by twelve per cent annually. Since a mutual-fund manager who beats the market by two or three per cent a year is considered a genius, the politicians’ ability to foresee the future seems practically divine. They did an especially good job of picking up stocks at just the right time; their buys were typically flat before they bought them, but beat the market by thirty per cent, on average, in the year after. By those standards, Frist actually looks like a bit of a piker.
Interesting, no? Maybe I'll give my senator a call later and ask for stock tips. Hat tip to Julian Sanchez.
Also, we're running out of fish, which sucks, because I like orange roughie. Oh well.
And here's Virginia Postrel on Harriet Miers. Devastating.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Hack. Cough. Sneeze.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Just Like The Olson Twins...
Oct. 20, 2005 — Thirteen-year-old twins Lamb and Lynx Gaede have one album out, another on the way, a music video, and lots of fans.
Known as "Prussian Blue" — a nod to their German heritage and bright blue eyes — the girls from Bakersfield, Calif., have been performing songs about white nationalism before all-white crowds since they were nine.
"We're proud of being white, we want to keep being white," said Lynx. "We want our people to stay white … we don't want to just be, you know, a big muddle. We just want to preserve our race."
Sunday, October 23, 2005
UN passes cultural stagnation law.
We fear change.
Check this out (From the recently passed Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions):
For instance, let's say that some country wanted to wipe with corncobs instead of toilet paper, and some hip teenagers started "attacking the culture" by getting their own TP imported from the US. That government could pass a tariff on US TP to preserve their cob-wipin' ways.
Article 8—Measures to protect cultural expressions
1. Without prejudice to the provisions of Articles 5 and 6, a Party may determine those special situations where cultural expressions on its territory are at risk of extinction, under serious threat, or otherwise in need of urgent safeguarding.
2. Parties may take all appropriate measures to protect and preserve cultural expressions in situations referred to in paragraph 1 in a manner consistent with the provisions of this Convention.
3. Parties shall report to the Intergovernmental Committee all measures taken to meet the exigencies of the situation, and the Committee may make appropriate recommendations.
While cultural diversity is a good thing, the reason that it is a good thing is that we are exposed to new ideas and new concepts, and we can decide which ideas rule (Burritos), and which leave something to be desired (stoning women). This rule seeks to remove certain practices from the cultural marketplace for no good reason.
Tim Cavanaugh sums it up nicely:
Hey, Renaud, while you're winning the rest of the UNESCO apparatchiks over to your side, take a gander at the movies your own countrymen chose to spend their Euros on this year. And while you're at it, tell the Canadians—who are forced by their government to pretend they know your language—that they're also doing a heck of a job showing their disapproval of American cultural products.
The Packers are now officially a debacle.
The Weather v. Global Warming
How can we tell what the temperature will be in 100 years when we can't even tell what it will be this weekend!?
Back in the day, when I used to paint houses during college, Milwaukee talk radio host Mark Belling would throw this point around willy-nilly. It is, of course, a stupid argument. I was driving around town during Mark's timeslot on Friday, and I heard him use this argument again. I thought that by now (8 years or so) someone would have told him to stop using this argument, but apparently not. And while it's generally a pointless waste of time to argue with anything on talk radio, this is so easy that it's really no trouble at all.
1. When you are predicting what the weather will be like in 5 days, you're predicting a specific. That is difficult to do. It is like predicting a specific car accident will take place in 5 days. You can predict a few general trends (more accidents during large events, construction etc.) but even those will sometimes be off due simply to random chance.
2. When you predict the average temperature 100 years in the future, you're predicting something general. You're taking a big sample size, which tends to absorb any outliers that may affect a specific prediction, and you're talking about a trend, not a specific incident. It is like predicting the number of car crashes in a given state for next year, based on the number of crashes that have occurred in the past. These predictions tend to be accurate. Moreover, if there is a blip in the general trend, we can generally find the cause, as it takes a large and consistently occurring event to alter the results of a large sample size. Like people putting large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, for instance.
This Public Service Announcement was brought to you by the Electric Commentary.
Friday, October 21, 2005
More on the Secret Xerox Code Scandal
Is there anyone out there that thinks that this won't be used to trace a leak, track down a whistle-blower, or identify an anonymous political critic? And, even if you are able to conjure up trust that the US government will not use these codes for anything other than fighting counterfeiting, what about use of these codes by private parties? Or, even more depressing, remember that these printers are being sold today in China, Syria, Iran, Zimbabwe, etc. Does anyone at all doubt that these governments will use the print codes to identify and silence dissent?
One Word Titles
Their leader is Sarge (The Rock), and their members include Reaper (Karl Urban), Destroyer (Deobia Oparei), Mac (Yao Chin), Goat (Ben Daniels), Duke (Razaaq Adoti), Portman (Richard Brake) and The Kid (Al Weaver). Now you know everything you need to know about them.
I'd just like to add that I'm sick of video game movies. Like The Slate's Will Carlough, I've seen too many, and they're all bad. Why no movies based on board games? The high stakes world of real estate development in Monopoly! The emotional roller coaster of Chutes and Ladders! And let's not forget the ever-whimsical Candyland. And who wouldn't go to see Mousetrap (Fantastic finish, although the setup takes a while).
(Note: I seem to remember a conversation from the short lived animated TV show, The Critic, in which Jay Sherman's actor friend Jeremy Hawk was going to make Rubik's Cube: The Movie. The plot was that there was a plane full of supermodels that was going to explode unless Jeremy could solve a Rubik's Cube in under an hour. The catch was that Jeremy was colorblind. Fortunately, his partner wasn't. But his partner was a dog! Now there's a movie. Plus you have a ready-made sequel: Rubik's Revenge!)
Anyway, it's bad enough that Hollywood types are so devoid of ideas that they have to remake every campy 70s TV show out there, but this is starting to get ridiculous.
Fun Friday: Busy Week Edition
That said, this is the absolute best Homestar Runner Halloween cartoon. Mainly because the King of Town is dressed to Hamburgle. Robble Robble.
Ahren on Carlos Lee
why then, do i think it's a good move? there are 3 major reasons, and 1 minor one. the first big reason is that the brewers probably are not going to seriously contend next year, but a known quality bat like lee's could fetch them some good, young pitching talent at mid-season. the second reason is that the brewers MIGHT contend next year. it's unlikely, but they could conceiveably win 90 games and be in actual contention (as opposed to the make-believe contention that the papers tried to foist upon us this year). in that case, lee's 5 wins could make all the difference if the brewers somehow managed to land a playoff spot, and if not, just being in serious contention would be such a boon to ticket sales and the franchise in general, that even when lee is let go at the end of the year, it will have been a wise investment. the third reason is that it demonstrates a bit of good faith to the fans and hopefully will go some length toward convincing current season-ticket holders to re-up. in general, the brewers have established a pattern under doug melvin of either ponying up and retaining their talent (sheets, jenkins) or trading it for value (sexson). this is an encouraging trend, and something wholly unfamiliar to brewer fans.
It is an excellent post on the Brewers.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Big Brother can tell where you print your documents.
It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it isn't. The pages coming out of your color printer may contain hidden information that could be used to track you down if you ever cross the U.S. government.
Last year, an article in PC World magazine pointed out that printouts from many color laser printers contained yellow dots scattered across the page, viewable only with a special kind of flashlight. The article quoted a senior researcher at Xerox Corp. as saying the dots contain information useful to law-enforcement authorities, a secret digital "license tag" for tracking down criminals.
The content of the coded information was supposed to be a secret, available only to agencies looking for counterfeiters who use color printers.
Now, the secret is out.
Yesterday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco consumer privacy group, said it had cracked the code used in a widely used line of Xerox printers, an invisible bar code of sorts that contains the serial number of the printer as well as the date and time a document was printed.
Read the whole thing, and the commentary at Marginal Revolution.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Is Atheism a Religion?
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Just for fun...
Update: Mariam at Accident Prone was first to get it. Her prize is a free link! It looks like she just had her first real trial, and is concerned for Paris Hilton's old pet. I hope the case went well.
Little Stuff (for a busy day).
Here's a fun fact about China. Wow.
This is just gross. I warned you.
Anyone need use of a "Free Speech Zone?" There are just a few minor catches:
Among other things, the county requires each group to have a $500,000 insurance policy to cover liability...
Some groups may have also been put off by another clause in the county's policy requiring that the content of each display undergo review by county officials. Displays cannot include any profanity or pornography, commercial speech or lights or sound effects, the policy says.
In the words of Inigo Montoya,
That word you keep using. I do not think it means what you think it means.
The Coyote Blog notes a fun new proposal in California (up for a referenda vote):
Proposition 79 seeks to capitalize on public outrage over high drug prices by creating a new big government program that would supposedly mandate drug discounts for low-income Californians.
It turns out that the initiative contains a little-noticed provision that will allow private trial lawyers to sue drug companies for the new tort of "profiteering in prescription drugs." Under this sneaky provision, which will be effective immediately even if the drug discount program is never implemented (Federal approval is required), drug makers would be prohibited from demanding "an unconscionable price" or demanding "prices or terms that lead to any unjust and unreasonable profit." These terms are not defined anywhere in the initiative or elsewhere in state or federal law, so your guess as to what these terms mean is probably as good as mine. A violation of this new offense would carry a minimum fine of $100,000 or triple the amount of damages (whichever is greater) plus court costs and legal fees.
Oh good. That won't screw up drug development at all. Is this any better than the Fed not funding stem cell research? That reminds me. Check out this article in Forbes by Virginia Postrel:
U.S. scientists and their supporters tend to assume biomedical research is threatened by know-nothings on religious crusades. But as the Canadian law illustrates, the long-term threat to genetic research comes less from the religious right than from the secular left. Canada's law forbids all sorts of genetic manipulations, many of them currently theoretical. It's a crime, for instance, to alter inheritable genes.
And the law has provisions the fabled religious right never even talks about. It's a crime to pay a surrogate mother or to make or accept payment for arranging a surrogate. It's a crime to pay egg or sperm donors anything more than "receipted expenses," like taxi fares. Since eggs are used not just in fertility treatments but in research, this prohibition stifles both.
Read the whole thing.
Here's Mike Seaver on evolution. Ed Brayton addresses all of the former Growing Pains star's points as only Ed can.
Here's a midweek Homestar Runner Halloween cartoon, from 2002.
Here's a list of hockey's new rules (from the Onion).
And here's the erstwhile TMQ:
Stats of the Week No. 9: Washington has not beaten an AFC team in more than two years.
And finally, a big "screw you" to the officials who decided to review Mike Anderson's touchdown at the end of the first half of the Denver/New England game on Sunday, which cost me a game in my fantasy league. First of all, I still think he scored. Second, there was certainly no indisputable visual evidence to overturn the call of a touchdown. Third, it delayed the game for about 15 minutes, and resulted in the Broncos having the ball on the 3-inch line on second down, instead of a touchdown. They proceeded to score on the next play with a pass to the fullback.
That game took forever. Reviews galore, several injuries, and a silly use of timeouts caused halftime of that game to occur at 5:00 PM CST. There is no way that Bill Belichik would have challenged the call (It appeared to be a TD, and he has stated his opposition to the lack of a goal line camera, and protested by refusing to challenge such plays). That's enough of that.
Have a nice day!
Monday, October 17, 2005
Professor Brewer is taking a blogging hiatus.
Beer Pong finally gets the NYT treatment it deserves.
Urban Outfitters stocks a popular beer pong kit called Bombed and boxed sets of rules for other games. In January, thousands of players are expected at the first World Series of Beer Pong, sponsored by a beer pong accessories company and held on the outskirts of - where else? - Las Vegas.
This past summer, Anheuser-Busch unveiled a game it calls Bud Pong. The company, which makes Budweiser, is promoting Bud Pong tournaments and providing Bud Pong tables, balls and glasses to distributors in 47 markets, including college towns like Oswego, N.Y., and Clemson, S.C.
Bud Pong may soon expand into more markets, said Francine Katz, a spokeswoman for Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc.
"It's catching on like wildfire," Ms. Katz said. "We created it as an icebreaker for young adults to meet each other."
I couldn't agree more, although this type of commercialization may be inevitable in the drive to make the sport Olympic-eligible. The Times also seems concerned about the fact that the sport promotes binge drinking and underage drinking. A Bud representative puts us at ease:
Excuse me? Water? She probably likes the DH rule too. And instant replay. And those stupid, oversized, red, wiffle ball bats. Aside from instantly turning beer pong into a crappy game, taking out the beer also removes the game's educational value.
Beer companies like Anheuser-Busch have made promoting "responsible drinking" a matter of corporate philosophy, partly as an answer to criticism that they market to youth.
But Ms. Katz said Bud Pong was not intended for underage drinkers because promotions were held in bars, not on campuses. And it does not promote binge drinking, she said, because official rules call for water to be used, not beer. The hope is that those on the sidelines enjoy a Bud.
A tip o' the cap to Christine Hurt, who takes Bud to task for their silly, completely unbelievable, corporate hypocrisy. I would add, however, that it is unlikely that beer pong increases underage drinking, as, in my experience, underage drinkers don't need much of an excuse to drink, just access. It definitely promotes binge drinking though. At least, if you're any good.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Christopher Hitchens got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.
Do steroids help you hit homeruns?
As to steroids themselves, they are highly overrated. They encourage hypertrophy in bodybuilders, who use massive amounts, train long and hard, and do very high volume work. No baseball player can afford to train that long and the training would be highly counterproductive to his baseball playing. Body builder exercises produce a higher volume of slow twitch muscle fiber, the antithesis of power production. Slow twitch fibers make a player slow, even though they may promote endurance. Hitting a home run requires accelerating a bat from a stand still to over 70 to 110 feet per second in a few milliseconds. Such a feat requires rapid force generation that can only be supplied by fast twitch muscle fibers.
Muscle hypertrophy is also counterproductive to home run hitting. Bulky muscles are heavy and there is more body weight to accelerate if a bat is to be swung quickly. Hypertrophy affects hitting mechanics because it alters joint alignment and movement. Body building, and the slow twitch fiber composition that it produces, could not produce the power and speed that Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa exhibited in their prime years. Even they are not nearly as muscular as Ted Kluszewski or Steve Bilko were in their prime. In fact, they look like slightly taller versions of Mickey Mantle, a densely muscled player of the past.
Again, The Babe has the final word on steroids. The last home run he hit, while with the Boston Braves in a season of just 72 at bats, was one of the longest of his career. Using a 36 ounce bat, he hit the first home run ever hit over the right field roof of Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Films show that he was a shadow of his former self by this time and he likely already had the cancer that would kill him a few years later.
It's long, but if you're a baseball geek, take a look.
Hat tip, Marginal Revolution.
An Arabized "Simpsons" -- called "Al Shamshoon" -- made its debut in the Arab world earlier this month, in time for Ramadan, a time of high TV viewership. It uses the original "Simpsons" animation, but the voices are dubbed into Arabic and the scripts have been adapted to make the show more accessible, and acceptable, to Arab audiences.
Homer is now "Omar Shamshoon," and he doesn't eat bacon or drink beer. That's just perverse. I wonder how they treat Apu.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Ray Kurzweil Interview
"Exponential growth looks like nothing is happening, and then suddenly you get this explosion at the end," says Mr. Kurzweil, a prominent inventor, mathematician, and entrepreneur. Evolution has taken millions of years to bring humanity to this point, he says. With the help of technology, the pace of change is about to accelerate at an astonishing rate.
Where humanity will be by midcentury is barely conceivable to us now, he says. Humans will merge with their machines to make quantum leaps in intelligence and abilities. They will vastly improve their bodies using nanotechnology and live extremely long lives Â or perhaps abandon their bodies altogether, continuing on indefinitely in a nonbiological form.
Kurzweil lays out these startling conclusions in "The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology." It tops the science bestsellers list at Amazon.com.
"The Singularity" refers to a future time (Kurzweil says around 2045) at which technological progress accelerates beyond our current ability to understand it. The concept was popularized more than a decade ago by mathematician and science fiction writer Vernor Vinge.
"P.S. No More Public Scatology"
A: Click here.
Calvin and Hobbes are awesome.
Quote of the day.
Sometimes I think that Laura Ingalls Wilder was probably a big bitch.
This sounds interesting.
Companies find it more profitable to increase prices (above the sale price) by a larger amount on an unpredictable basis than by a small amount in a predictable way. Customers find it trouble some to avoid unpredictable price increases -- and may not even notice them for lower-value goods -- but easy to avoid predictable ones...
Have you noticed that supermarkets often charge ten times as much for fresh chili peppers in a package as for loose fresh chilies? That's because the typical customer buys such small quantities that he doesn't think to check whether they cost four cents or forty. Randomly tripling the price of a vegetable is a favorite trick: customers who notice the markup just buy a different vegetable that week; customers who don't have self-targeted a whopping price rise.
I once spotted a particularly inspired trick while on a search for potato chips. My favorite brand was available on the top shelf in salt and pepper flavor and on the bottom shelf, just a few feet away, in other flavors, all the same size. The top-shelf potato chips cost 25 percent more, and customers who reached for the top shelf demonstrated that they hadn't made a price-comparison between two near-identical products in near-identical locations. They were more interested in snacking.
(Hat tip, Marginal Revolution)
I'll have to pick that up next month. Right now I'm reading The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil, which is surprisingly entertaining. Here's a review by Glenn Reynolds in the WSJ. Kurzweil is an inventor/computer scientist, and has created some of the most sophisticated voice recognition software in existence (an bunch of other stuff too).
I'm also reading Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides, which is also quite good, and to this point (about 200 pages in) can best be described as a touching tale of immigration and incest.
I'm about 1/3 finished with each, and so far I'd recommend both.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
The Packers and the "Fair Catch Kick" Rule
In view of such distinctions, it should come as no surprise that the classic series also has been punctuated - not once but twice - by one of the rarest plays in pro football history.
Going by the NFL rule book, it is officially known as the "fair catch kick."
Simply put, the rule states: "After a fair catch, the receiving team has the option to put the ball in play by a snap or a fair catch kick (a field goal attempt) - with fair catch lines established 10 yards apart."
The latter, incidentally, means that the defending team must be 10 yards removed from the scrimmage line of the kicking team and cannot "rush" the kick, which thus, as the name implies, is a "free" kick.
The Packers, then under the direction of Vince Lombardi, "introduced" the maneuver - a genuine rarity in league history - to a capacity house of 42,327 fans in their 1964 regular-season opener against the Bears (Sept. 13) in what was then known as City Stadium (it was to be renamed Lambeau Field just a year later, following the death of team founder E.L. "Curly" Lambeau).
With only seconds remaining in the first half, Elijah Pitts, back to receive Chicago's punt from Bobby Joe Green, signaled for a fair catch as he fielded the football at the Packers' 48-yard line.
Next, to the surprise of the full house - and virtually all members of the attending media -Lombardi informed Referee Norm Schachter that the Packers would be attempting a fair catch kick on what would be the final play of the first half, and the Green and Gold promptly lined up across the field, 11 strong, with quarterback Bart Starr remaining in the game as a holder at the line of scrimmage.
It's a good story. You'll have to click the link to find out how it ends. And while you're over at the L&N Line, check out the many sports related posts, as well as reviews of Two For The Money, and Wallace and Gromit.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
The Titans attempted a free kick this past weekend. I love the free kick rule because it's terribly useful and little known. Basically, after a fair catch is called for that team is entitled to a "free kick." That is the receiving team may attempt a kickoff style field goal attempt (either with a holder, or as a drop kick) from the spot of the catch, for three pints. It is uncontested, as the formation is that of a kickoff, not a true field goal. The kicker may take a large run up to the ball, which may have resulted in Titan kicker Rob Bironas missing the kick.
While this rule hasn't been used in some time, it is potentially valuable at the end of games (or halves, as it was in this case). If someone chooses to punt out of their own end as time expires and the fair catch is made, the kick can take place even if there is no time on the clock. The reason for this is that the free kick is considered an extension of the previous play. This all goes back to Rugby, from which football is derived, and the practice of "marking" the ball. Similar to a fair catch, a player calling for a mark can immediately take a free kick in rugby. This rule has survived into modern football. And missed free kicks can also be returned, as was the case in Bironas's kick.
I've seen ignorance of this rule cost a team the game at least 3 times in the last ten years, but perhaps Jeff Fisher, always on top of his game, will bring it back to prominence.
I hurt myself today...
The following players were hurt this weekend, and will probably miss significant time, if not the entire year:
Najeh Davenport. Deuce McAllister. Corey Dillon. Julius and Thomas Jones. Sam Rayburn. L.J. Smith. Jonathan Tait. Michael Clayton. Ed Hartwell. Chris Cash. Roy Williams. Ben Roethlisberger.
The NFC North has yet to win a road game.
Jeff Triplette was an embarrassment on MNF. He was nitpicky, as usual (he loves to be the star), and he probably cost the Chargers the game by ignoring a glaringly obvious facemaking penalty on the final play of the game. Had it been called the Chargers would have had one more play in Kaeding's field goal range.
The Colts' defense is overrated. They've played wretched offenses. November 7th they play the Pats. Take the over in that game.
The Packers, last place in the worst division in football, have scored 53 more points than anyone else in the division. Of course, they've played an extra game, and one of those was against the Saints. Only the Bears and Packers have scored more points than they have given up.
Both the first place Patriots, and first place Lions have given up more points than they have scored.
The Badgers have a bad defense. Take the over.
Michigan State has a great offense. Take the over. Unfortunately, never the twain shall meet.
McCarver is terrible. Buck was terrible. The whole SNF crew is horrible. Marv Albert's brother is horrible. Who's not? Boomer Esiason, who did MNF on the radio:
The refs missed a heck of a game tonight.
Late Night Ramblings.
Moreover, I really don't understand how those who know evolution to be basically true can be left wingers, and those who believe in ID or some such nonsense can be right wingers. Actually, with recent shifts in Republican policy (huge spending increases, etc.) I do understand that one a bit better.
If you know evolution to be true, you believe that complexity has arisen through a non-ordered system under certain conditions. Why then do these people require economic activity to have a creator?
I'll never understand it I'm sure. Part of it is probably hubris. The thought that they can do better than nature. But they misunderstand the nature of nature (and of markets). Both nature and markets are just aggregators of information. They already reflect what you know, and what I know, and what everyone knows. When you interfere in a market, you aren't adding your expertise, you're removing the expertise of millions of others.
But there is one thing that makes me happy. I have confidence in my ideas, and as long as information continues to travel with more simplicity over time (yelling, writing, telegraph, phone, cell phone, internet, ???), the correct ideas will eventually win out.
An Aristocratic Senate Hearing
A True Visionary
But the elder Mr. Martinez occasionally would make the frozen drink in a blender for his patrons. When his son opened his own restaurant, he knew that frozen margaritas would help his establishment stand out.
The harried bartenders at Mariano's couldn't squeeze enough limes or blend the drinks fast enough to keep up with demand, though. Customers complained – the signature drink was inconsistent, and it wasn't even cold.
"I saw my dream evaporating," Mr. Martinez said. "This was my one shot at being somebody."
A pit stop at a 7-Eleven proved inspiring. Mr. Martinez spotted a Slurpee machine and knew he'd found the answer. He acquired a soft-serve ice cream machine and started mixing.
"The challenge was to make each drink taste like a blender margarita," he said. "We kept experimenting – and tasting."
Once Mr. Martinez hit upon the right recipe – sugar was the secret ingredient, he said – he moved the machine to the bar.
"It became an instant success," he said. "We didn't have to sell it."
The whole thing is quite interesting.
To Mariano Martinez, for speeding up the global intake of bad Tequila, we salute you.
Have you seen that Blue Man Group? Total rip off of the Smurfs. And the Smurfs. They suck!
Apparently, UNICEF agrees:
The short film pulls no punches. It opens with the Smurfs dancing, hand-in-hand, around a campfire and singing the Smurf song. Bluebirds flutter past and rabbits gambol around their familiar village of mushroom- shaped houses until, without warning, bombs begin to rain from the sky.
Tiny Smurfs scatter and run in vain from the whistling bombs, before being felled by blast waves and fiery explosions. The final scene shows a scorched and tattered Baby Smurf sobbing inconsolably, surrounded by prone Smurfs.
The final frame bears the message: "Don't let war affect the lives of children."
It is intended as the keystone of a fund-raising drive by Unicef's Belgian arm, to raise £70,000 for the rehabilitation of former child soldiers in Burundi.
Philippe Henon, a spokesman for Unicef Belgium, said his agency had set out to shock, after concluding that traditional images of suffering in Third World war zones had lost their power to move television viewers. "It's controversial," he said. "We have never done something like this before but we've learned over the years that the reaction to the more normal type of campaign is very limited."
These cards save lives, unless they're blue, of course. Something to think about this Halloween.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Alexander Hamilton on Harriet Miers
To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity. In addition to this, it would be an efficacious source of stability in the administration.
It will readily be comprehended, that a man who had himself the sole disposition of offices, would be governed much more by his private inclinations and interests, than when he was bound to submit the propriety of his choice to the discussion and determination of a different and independent body, and that body an entire branch of the legislature. The possibility of rejection would be a strong motive to care in proposing. The danger to his own reputation, and, in the case of an elective magistrate, to his political existence, from betraying a spirit of favoritism, or an unbecoming pursuit of popularity, to the observation of a body whose opinion would have great weight in forming that of the public, could not fail to operate as a barrier to the one and to the other. He would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.
Hat tip Andrew Sullivan.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Eminent Domain and Baseball
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Fun Friday, Thursday Edition, Part 4
Tex has a flippin' sweet idea for a Supreme Court nominee. Way better than Harriet Miers.
9. Has a much sweeter bike than Miers, and the Supreme Court building has some sweet jumps out front.
4. If confirmed, Pedro will offer his protection to the Constitution.
Read the whole thing. And note that in true Tex fashion, he's selling t-shirts.
Mothers Against Drinking. Period.
Even MADD's founder, Candy Lightner, has lamented that the organization has grown neo-prohibitionist in nature.
"[MADD has] become far more neo-prohibitionist than I had ever wanted or envisioned ...," Lightner is quoted as saying in an Aug. 6 story in the Washington Times. "I didn't start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving," she said.
Unfortunately, the tax-exempt organization has become so enmeshed with government it has nearly become a formal government agency. MADD gets millions of dollars in federal and state funding, and has a quasi-official relationship with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In some jurisdictions, DWI defendants are sentenced to attend and pay for alcoholic-recovery groups sponsored by MADD. In many cities, MADD officials are even allowed to man sobriety checkpoints alongside police.
On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, perhaps its time Congress revisit the spigot of federal funding flowing to MADD, and consider revoking the organization's tax-exempt status. Clearly, MADD isn't the same organization it was 25 years ago. It has morphed into an anti-alcohol lobbying organization. There's nothing wrong with that — it's certainly within MADD's and its supporters' First Amendment rights.
But taxpayers shouldn't be forced to subsidize them.
Read it all, including this:
MADD's biggest victory on this front was a nationwide blood-alcohol threshold of .08, down from .10. But when two-thirds of alcohol-related traffic fatalities involve blood-alcohol levels of .14 and above, and the average fatal accident occurs at .17, this move doesn't make much sense. It's like lowering the speed limit from 65 to 60 to catch people who drive 100 miles per hour.
Fun Friday, Thursday Edition, Part 3
Fun Friday, Thursday Edition, Part 2
Fun Friday, Thursday Edition
It's October, which means it's almost time for Halloween. To get in the mood, Here's the first Home Star Runner Halloween cartoon.
The Carnival of the Badger
1996 Profile on Harriet Miers
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court reiterates claims that the voluntary ban on specials was meant to maximize bars' profits but alleges the violation of federal antitrust laws goes back even farther.
For 15 years, drinkers "were charged supra-competitive, excessive and fixed prices for alcohol" at the taverns, the lawsuit claims. Through private conversations and secret deals, the bars agreed when to increase prices and offer drink specials, it claims.
The conspiracy allegedly started after Wisconsin increased its drinking age from 18 to 21 in 1987. Despite reduced demand, drink prices increased faster than inflation in the 1990s "and the timing and sequence of those increases were agreed upon" by bar owners during monthly meetings of the Madison Tavern League, the lawsuit claims.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
The Carnival of the Vanities
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
The God Who Wasn't There
Brian Flemming is an ex-fundamentalist Christian that has seen the light (for lack of a better term). His main hypothesis is that Jesus Christ was not a real historical person and that he was more likely a fictional character. He really puts Christianity under a microscope. The result is sometimes pretty funny but usually pretty scary. Much of his argument centers around the timeline of the alleged history of Christianity. Jesus lived from zero to around 33A.D. There exists little record of him from birth until he's 12 and then none until he's in his thirties. He performs some miracles, yada yada yada, is brutally killed and rises from the grave. Then no one mentions him until Paul does some 20 or so years later. Paul never mentions anything about Jesus being a real person and only talks about his death and resurrection. The gospels of the Bible were written over 40 years after Jesus' death. It seems likely that some of his actual followers might have written about a real Jesus soon after his death. They didn't. Flemming notes that the story of Jesus is similar, and sometimes nearly identical, to the stories of several previous gods of different religions such a Dionysus and Mithra. It contains many of the same characteristics as other hero-stories including the story of Hercules or even Robin Hood. According the Flemming, the Bible comes complete with some serious safety mechanisms. The most important one is that the only unforgivable sin is denying the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is allegedly within us (well, probably not me). When Flemming learned about Christianity as a child he was told this. He was made to believe that if he even considered the idea that there was no Holy Spirit he would be eternally damned. In other words, he wasn't allowed to actually think about and question his beliefs. Fear is a powerful weapon.
The documentary includes interviews from many scholars as well as many normal people telling us what they know about their religion (not much in many cases). Scholars interviewed include neurologist Sam Harris , anthropologist/folklorist Alan Dundes and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. They each bring a unique and interesting perspective to the issue.
The God Who Wasn't There is a documentary in the same way that Supersize Me or Bowling for Columbine is a documentary. Flemming is definitely out to prove his point and pulls no punches in doing so. That said, I think Flemming was pretty fair in his analyses. For example he places the time the gospels were written around 40 years after the alleged death of Jesus when there are many scholars, even Christian scholars, that place it closer to 80 or 100 years later. His major point doesn't seem to be that he is right and Christians are wrong about Jesus, but rather that it should be something that people can freely talk about and question without being called intolerant. This, I think, is a very positive message.
So the Packers suck...
Fortunately, however, I've come up with a way to make the rest of the season slightly more bearable: The 2005 Packer Drinking Game.
Let's face it, alcohol was invented for things like this. It's the reason that action stars swig a fifth of whiskey before they cauterize a wound with a branding iron, or pull a tooth. You may as well have a positive purpose to your drinking, instead of just drinking to forget.
What you will need: Whiskey, a case of bad beer (Old Style or worse), some Guinness, Amaretto, Bailey's, Kahlua, a bunch of other girlie stuff, Tequila, maple syrup, red wine, creme de menthe, Russian vodka, Tom Collins mix, and Miller High Life.
1. Whenever Robert "Turd" Ferguson short arms a ball, do a shot of Amaretto while talking about how Turd is a funny name. Add an extra shot of Tequila if the play results in an interception, and, if possible, don a giant sombrero.
2. Whenever Najeh Davenport gets stuffed, stand up and shout "They dropped a Deuce!" Do two shots of Whiskey and continue closet related jokes.
3. If Ahmad Carroll is all over a receiver,do the moonwalk, and chug the amount of beer required to make you that bad of a cornerback.
4. Drink a shot of maple syrup every time Will Whitaker gets pancaked.
5. Mark Roman misses an easy tackle. Fiddle down some red wine while Green Bay gets burned.
6. B.J. Sander botched a snap. Let's just say that the shot you have to do here contains Kahlua (or butterscotch schnapps, or banana liqueur), Bailey's, and whipped cream, and leave it at that.
7. Ahman Green fumbles! Do a Slippery Nipple.
8. Ahman Green is injured! Ease the pain with some nice green Creme de Menthe.
9. KGB was run over by the opposing RB. A shot of Stoli is in order.
10. Nick Collins takes the shallow TE instead of the streaking #1 WR that Michael Hawkins is covering one on one. Time for a Tom Collins, as he is a superior safety, whoever he is.
11. Nick Barnett is celebrating for no reason. Everyone yell Yatzi! and drink a Miller High Life: The Champagne of Beers.
12. Paris Lenon missed a tackle. We surrender! Drink some wine for the first name, and vodka for the last.
13. Aaron Rogers is playing. Sit back, relax, and pour yourself a Guinness. Now it's time to drink to forget.
This will improve your viewing experience immensely. Or it will kill you. Either way, you won't have to suffer through the rest of this season, which has to be a good thing.
(Crossposted at TheWisconsinSportsBar.)
Monday, October 03, 2005
Weekend In Review
Conservatives don't like her because she's clearly a crony, she appears to be a "diversity" pick, and they don't know what she thinks about anything.
I'm looking forward to these Senate hearings immensely. It's one thing to have Senators asking stupid questions to a smart, qualified guy like Roberts. Adding another politician to the mix and it could be absolutely hysterical.
2. In football news, Peter King is right. I watched the Lions-Bucs game yesterday, and I must confess that I originally thought Pollard was out of bounds. However, after watching the replay many times, I now believe that Pollard was in bounds, and, as King points out, there was certainly no indisputable visual evidence to overturn the call on the field. So the Lions were screwed.
Also, I can't help thinking that ESPN's Len Pasquarelli doesn't write his "Morning After" column until he reads Peter King's MMQB column. He conspicuously starts this week's effort by stating that the call was correctly reversed, as if he's responding to King's assertion. Len is wrong. Peter is right.
3. NFL Call of the Day:
From NFL ref Jeff Triplette, attempting to explain that the defense is being called for a penalty for causing the offense to false start (From memory. I may be a bit off, but I definitely have the important part right):
The defense committed unnatural acts which enticed the offense into moving early.
Let me tell you, that was a very exciting game indeed.
4. That reminds me. If you're British, try not to get prostate cancer:
In most countries with national health insurance, the preferred treatment for prostate cancer is ... to do nothing.
Prostate cancer is a slow-moving disease. Most patients are older and will live several years after diagnosis. So it is not cost-effective under socialized medicine to treat the disease too aggressively. This saves money, but at a more human cost.
Though American men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than their counterparts in other countries, we are less likely to die from the disease. Less than 1 in 5 American men with prostate cancer will die from it, but 57 percent of British men and nearly half of French and German men will. Even in Canada, a quarter of men diagnosed with prostate cancer die from the disease.
That's from the Cato Institute's Michael Tanner, via Cafe Hayek.
5. I'm not a big fan of the economic term "rent-seeking." Tyler Cowen suggests some foreign alternatives including:
A man with a few shares in several companies who extorts money by threatening to come to the shareholders' meetings and cause trouble.
6. Paul Krugman screwed up his facts in a column in which he claimed that Gore won the 2000 election by all recounts. This is simply not true, which Pauly K should know, as his paper participated in at least one of the recounts that would have given the election to Bush. He has refused to run a correction, so editorial page editor Gail Collins did it for him. And, as Ann Althouse points out, she didn't even do a very good job. Of course, since no one reads Krugman anymore (thanks, TimesSelect!) it doesn't really matter.
7. I thought the Minnesota Vikings were going to get their act together this week with Mewelde Moore running the ball. I was wrong. They're just not very good.
8. Brian Baldinger and Kenny Albert, or Steve Albert, or Herp Albert, or whatever, were responsible for the worst 20 minutes of football that I have ever seen in the final half of the Vikings/Falcons fourth quarter. It was a blowout, and even though it wasn't a Bear game the network would not switch to the exciting Eagles/Chiefs game. They stuck with it and Baldinger and Albert made OC jokes, made excuse after excuse for Culpepper, and stated several times that the Vikings could still be a dangerous playoff team. It was a travesty, and Albert (we all know how he got his job) needs to be fired.
9. Here's a solution for cities below sea level:
There are 37 houses strung along this branch of the Maas like a row of beads. At first glance, they seem quite unremarkable. Two storeys high, semicircular metal roofs and yellow, green or blue facades - hardly any clues let on that these are The Netherlands' first amphibious houses. The cellar, in this case, is not built into the earth. Instead, it is on a platform - and is much more than a mere storage room. The hollow foundation of each house works in the same way as the hull of a ship, buoying the structure up above water. To prevent the swimming houses from floating away, they slide up two broad steel posts - and as the water level sinks, so they sink back down again.
10. The Packers are going to win tonight.