Monthly Archives: December 2006

Quack!

We’re already getting headlines painting doom for the Ducks.

Instead of dreaming of a Stanley CuLinkp, Anaheim Ducks fans might just want to wish for good health in the New Year.

Of course. It’s almost boilerplate when a top team stumbles for a bit. But take any team’s top two goalies, a Norris trophy winning defenseman, and two other top 4 defenders out of the lineup, along with the team’s #2 penalty killer, and shit is going to happen.

And it’s not like they’ve been blown out, either, even with their goalie who was just playing in the ECHL. I’m sure they’ll get stuck a little behind Buffalo in the Preznit’s trophy race, and Nashville may get close, but no one’s talking about San Jose’s catastrophes lately, either.

Let’s see how things go when they get just one of the top goalies back.

Fuck ATA

6 hour delay in Maui, with no real explanation, and no willingness to really do anything about it. I’ve never been treated this poorly by an airline, and I could bitch for hours at shenanigans of other airlines, but this takes the cake. A new low.

Fuck ‘em.

Pens March Out of PA?

Mario says they are exploring relocation. Whether this is just puffery or not, there’s been a lot of talk of this for a long time.

I can’t think of a better idea. The next three largest markets in Canada are: Quebec City-Levis, Winnipeg/Brandon, and Kitchener. All in all, I’m probably most in favor of a second Toronto team, or a suburban one, like Kitchener. (“The Ontario Penguins?”)

The Pittsburgh Problem

I’ve known this for over 10 years. If you don’t give Canada affirmative action or subsidy, or whatever you call it, you aren’t watering the roots of hockey, and the farthest reaching branches will die no matter how bright their blooms may be.

The NHL blocking even the notion of the Penguins moving to Canada is myopic, stupid, and greedy. There are many cities with a weaker hockey tradition than Pittsburgh, but as of right now, none of those teams have teams that have been economic failures despite the presence of three very huge stars spanning the last 22 years.

This is the same league, after all, that took hockey away from Minnesota for over 5 years.

The money-men around Bettman and New York insist that the NHL have a presence is as many major media markets as possible, so they can have their revenues. One step. No vision. Underlying that is the simple fact that the list of major hockey markets is not the same as general media markets. Further complicating the picture is the fact that the game needs to play to its base, as it were, and keep itself #1 in Canada (and Minnesota, for that matter) if it’s going to continue to draw the talent it needs to have any star power.

We need three more teams in Canada, and three less teams in the American South. But until one of those teams is a failure, I don’t see any reason why Pittsburgh can’t do without.

Windows Deathwatch 3

The Free Software Foundation has begun a campaign called “BadVista.” That alone doesn’t mean much for the impact Vista will or won’t have. What is amazing is how little original content they need to generate.

Aside from just that bias list, the IT media consensus is definitely: don’t rush to upgrade. That alone means that the death of the Windows OS is very likely. Windows hasn’t needed a killer app to sell itself since version 2.0.

Compound that with the fact that very few people really have any idea exactly what technical advantages Vista has. XP was the first NT-based OS to have reliable game play and development. That meant that you could run it and run everything. Vista doesn’t offer anything except the most incremental improvements in middleware features that open the door to things like better game play.

At least Office 2007 attempts a new UI that is somewhat cool, but mostly not all that impressive. Different, yes. Better, I don’t know.

It will ultimately take a killer app to make most people pony up for the new hardware it will take to run Vista competently.

The potential wedge here is that if that app is a business app that has little home use, like some kind of revolution in Power Point (using a Wii remote??), it may have no traction in the home, where Apple’s iTV might. (I think a desktop OS based cable/media box with internet connectivity will be the next killer app for the home but may not be mutually exclusive with the “computer”)

Microsoft is competent at business applications, but not so great at home stuff… so I see them going in that direction, and ultimately losing control of the home desktop.

Adjusted Goal Differential Among Top Teams


This Google Spreadsheet looks at some of the stats (I haven’t figured out how to make it hot-sortable there yet) of the top teams in the NHL. I think it’s interesting to subtract power play goals and power play goals against from the teams overall stats to see how the teams are doing 5 on 5.

This shows contrary to the CW, that NJ leans heavily on its special teams (both of them!) and that Buffalo and Anaheim do not.

I’m looking at this number in part of my quest to develop or develop in part, the sabermetrics of hockey. So far, I believe team goal differential is the beginning of that.

Buffalo vs. NJ

About this time 9 years ago, the Devils played a pivotal game at home against the Dallas Stars. At that point of the season, both teams were favorites to come out of their respective conferences in the final. The Devils lost that game, and I never felt they were the same for the rest of the year. Ultimately, two season later, they handed Dallas their ass in the Final, but that season seemed to turn on that game.

It was lost when future Devil Joe Nieuwendyk scored with less than a minute left, set up by future Devil Jamie Langenbrunner. Jamie also set up the Jere Lehtinen’s winner in overtime.

I feel like last night’s game against Buffalo was similar. I hope it doesn’t have the same result. They were within a tip of tying it up, and it was a close game for the first periods or so. A victory would have established that Buffalo’s high-flying offense couldn’t stand up to Marty and the Devils D.

They have three chances to prove this was a fluke.

David Sirota is My Hero 3

I’m not sure what Obama really thinks about all of this, and I’m certainly in favor of better education, but I agree with Sirota on this point:

Yes, it is the Great Education Myth – the idea that if we only just made everyone in America smarter, we would solve outsourcing, wage depression and health care/pension benefit cuts that are the result of forcing Americans to compete in an international race to the bottom. As I wrote recently in the San Francisco Chronicle, this is one of the most dishonest myths out there, as the government’s own data shows that, in fact, all of the major economic indicators are plummeting for college grads. You can make everyone in America a PhD, and all you would have is more unemployed PhD’s – it would do almost nothing to address the fact that the very structure of our economy – our tax system, our trade system and our corporate welfare system – is designed to help Big Money interests ship jobs offshore and lower wages/benefits here at home.

It’s more insidious than that, even. It creates one archetype for people to follow, and society labels people who don’t follow it as losers, and gives them an excuse to not include them. I have a doctoral degree, so I’m part of the in club, but I’m going to need car mechanics and garbagemen the rest of their lives. I’d also like to think that the people who do that see at least some reason for doing it and don’t wake up every day thinking they suck.

America should be a football team, not a running race. On a football team, the left tackle can get paid almost as much as the quarterback (or more on some teams). On a football team, you need small quick guys to catch, and guys to kick. In other words, it takes all kinds. In the 100m dash, it’s just about whose the best runner.

We’re ignoring our Nose Tackles in this country, and importing them from abroad, to the detriment of both their country and ours.

Coaching Deadpool: w00t!

A long time favorite of the Coaching Deadpool (see here (most recent), here, here, here, here, and here) has been Mike Kitchen. Today he got the axe, and the annoying and frumpy Andy Murray took his place.

He was off the list for a while, because I figured if JD was keeping him around, he’d get this season. But, I put him back on the “bonus” list (i.e. pure hunch) because other coaches in that same division who were frankly only underachieving relative to overhyped expectations also got the ax. That leaves Babcock and Trotz in that division. I think this is Barry’s last year if they don’t at least get to the Final. Same for Babcock (and that’s not fair).

So, we’re 2 for 4 for the year, nailing Hitch and Kitch, but missing Yawney (a former list regular, which makes it worse) and what’s his name in Columbus.

Updated Picks:

(1) Tortorella. The Lighting and languishing, and they probably just can’t stand this jerk crowing at them anymore. He’s gone.

(2) Gretzky. “What do you mean you couldn’t just dance around three defenders?” It’s hard coaching average players when you’re 99. That’s why shitty players make good coaches. Wayne is advancing the theorems of hockey by proving that the reverse is true. Good players make shitty coaches. He’s no coming off this list if even if Laura and Barney are the only ones that agree with me.

(3) Playfair. Has it been long enough? I don’t know, but overheated expectations in that neck of the woods are making it harder than it used to be.

(4) Martin – Gotta wonder if he won’t hire someone, because he’s doing a shitty, pointy-headed job.

Bonus picks: Julien.

Trotz is off the list, even though he’s been there longer than god. He’s back once the playoffs start and Nashville loses in the first round because they aren’t sneaking up on anyone this time.

NHL Western Conference Teams Are Boring?

So says Damien Cox of the Toronto Star.

I’m assuming like most talking hockey heads, he means scoring. He seems to be saying as much when he says, “[r]emember the days when the Western Conference was all about flow and speed and Gretzky and offence?”

Well, it’s true. Only 5 of the top 15 (i.e. half) scoring teams are in the West. (But 2 of the top 5, Anaheim and Nashville.)

Cox though wants the individual stars. “No wonder of the top 20 scorers in the league, 18 play in the east.” Huh? Oh–scorers, as in people with assists. What about goal scoring? Well, that increases to 4 in the top 20. (But I’m not sure about the arbitrary cut off at 20.)

It’s not that Cox is without merit on claiming that the West is scoring less. But all of the teams except Jacques Lemaire-coached Minnesota are boring? “Of the top eight teams out west, only Minnesota, really, is a particularly interesting team to watch.”

So, the trap must be okay with him, as long as there’s scoring? I’m not sure.

And whether he things Anaheim, San Jose, and Edmonton are dull–well, that’s his opinion, but it’s not mine. Those teams are scoring!

Water on Mars…

Another indication of liquid water on Mars.

For anyone looking to find evidence of lingering non-objectivity in science, look no further than astrobiology. At one point in the 1990s, scientists had asserted the absolute rarity of earth-sized planets, even though at the time the technology only had any hope of detecting Jupiter-sized planets.

The long-standing presumption has always been that earth and humans are unique. I thought Carl Sagan’s Contact (even the movie version) dealt with the social implications of that issue. On the contrary of the uniqueness presumption, it is almost certain that other life exists out there, and lots of it.

Even among those who accept that, given the vastness of the universe, or even just of our galaxy, and the routine way that heavier elements would coagulate around nascent stars, there must be life out there, it still seems to be shocking when anything that suggests there might be life elsewhere than earth (and the presence of liquid water and hydrocarbons are just about all you need).

They’re out there. Either we haven’t been noticed, or we have been noticed but we aren’t noticing them back.

Gentiles Gone Wild!

The capitalist-orgy of mass consumption celebrating the birth of Jesus both saddens me and causes me to chuckle every year.

Can me and that camel get through with the PS3 and the iPod attached?

“I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24.

STFU About the Bowl Championship Series

Another year, another set of articles decrying the BCS.

It’s almost boring at this point. Because the thing gets changed so often, no one takes the current system seriously, and, as a result, they always have an argument as to why their team should get a chance.

The reason this problem exists is pretty obvious. There are about 120 teams in I-A college football. Making matters even worse, these teams from time to time play I-AA teams with the hope of becoming bowl eligible, even if playing the I-AA team hurts their BCS ranking.

Most major sports leagues have about 30 teams, and have become fairly unwieldy at that size, never mind four times that size!

So, here are my possible solutions.

#1 – Baseball-based. Eliminate the conferences. 30 teams are put into 4 regions. West Coast, Mid-West, South, and North-East. Because the NCAA currently places so much value on being undefeated, you simply have the team with the best record or the top two from each region enter into a playoff.

#2 – Soccer-based. Eliminate the conferences. 30 teams are put into four classes. Premier, 1st Div., 2nd Div., and 3rd. Div. The teams with the top 4 records in the premier play-off, the bottom 4 are relegated to the 1st. div. The top 4 teams in the 2nd div. advance to the first division, and the bottom for are relegated and so on.

#1 will never happen because it would simultaneously increase travel and destroy the conferences, and some of the traditions, like the Rose Bowl. (Why can’t the bowl games be like the pro-bowl and happen later anyway with no real meaning–say, in February between the traditional teams?)

#2 is even more unrealistic for many of the same reasons, and because no one wants to be in the bottom tiers.

So, the system is broken anyway. No playoff is going to work either. So, as I said, STFU and live with the BCS.

Oppression.

Since it’s clear that the South, or perhaps Republicans in general, are going to need some scapegoat class in perpetuity, I have a suggestion. Lets finally get over picking on blacks, y’all, and give a real shot at leaving gays alone.

I suggest we oppress midgets. Their mafia engages in monopolistic anti-trust activities for their economic benefit. None of them are ever talented, and they only exist for the sick pleasure of others.

Put them in camps. Give them some short cigarettes.

OK. And after watching this week’s Gray’s Anatomy, I think we can use Siamese twins as a backup. Fuck them. Too. Get the coathangers.

PS3 Deathwatch 6

I just got a Nintendo Wii. Aside from it costing less than half what a PS3 does, it also happens to be fun for non gamers. It’s a whole new thing. It’s realistic enough for the golf to bring out my actual golf game, i.e. shitty long game, decent short game and good putting.

San Luis Obispo Local: Dalidio Vote Is An Abomination

I’ve only lived in San Luis Obispo for about 3 years. My views on development are generally agnostic. I don’t have a particularly long-term view to form solid opinions. From my perspective, the city has an amazing balance of an old-fashioned downtown and big box convenience, and has controlled growth well enough to keep the natural vistas intact in a way that other places like Santa Barbara have not. In other words, things are pretty damn good here.

But I’ve lived in places that had that balance and then lost it, and lost it damn quick. I’d hate to see that happen here.

In the November, 2006 election, the entire county voted on whether a large parcel of land should be developed. The land is technically not in the city, but it is surrounded by the city, and abuts no other city. When the city council approved the development, local residents forced a referendum, and voted the development down.

The more recent vote, however, was county-wide. And the only precincts that voted “No” were in the city of SLO proper, with one exception. In fact, the majority of the city voted No. Yet the project will go forward because voters who will not have to face any of the consequences of either the development or non-development of that land decided that it was “fair.”

I have no say about what happens in the rest of the County. We do not elect supervisors at large, so I only get to vote for my district’s supervisor. So, only indirectly do I have any say in whether there will be a stop light in Creston or an office park in Pismo Beach.

Yet these others may have tipped the balance for this city towards a path that its own residents did not want. Again, I’m agnostic. I’m not convinced that this development will have the drastic consequences that its opponents fear, but I’m certain that it is a possibility, unlike its proponents, who assure us that it will actually alleviate traffic. (Sure it will. It was never about that, it was about trading traffic for convenience.)

It is incredibly hard to define who should have a say in what local issues. Obviously, if the South had their way, segregation would still exist. It took federal law to control that. And people outside of the artifically drawn political map of the city have interests within it.

Likewise, the direct democracy that was reflected in this vote is by definition no more or less flawed than the direct democracy that overruled the project in the past. But it should stick in people’s mind that proximity to the project more or less corresponded with its rejection.

SLO residents regardless of whether they are for or against the development, or more or less neutral like me, should be deeply troubled by this precedent.

Anyone wanna sign my petition to permit a Planned Parenthood in Paso Robles or an Evangelical Megachurch in Cambria? I think I am entitled to vote on that now.