Welcome! (I guess...)

For those of you who by some extremely unlikely set of circumstances happened to stumble upon this page, I apologize to you. For those of you who intentionally came to this page - yikes! As the title of the weblog indicates, these are my Ramblings About Whatever. There is a chance that I will ramble about just about anything (as I am in this introduction), but only a select few topics will actually make this site. Enjoy! (I guess...)

Monday, November 17, 2008

NFL 2008: Week 11

I just had to touch on a few NFL stories for week 11, with the Monday night game between Cleveland and Buffalo still yet to be played.

First of all, with each successive week, I become more and more convinced that the New York Football Giants are going to repeat this year. Their running game seems virtually unstoppable at this point, and the fact that they are not relying too heavily on one back is extremely important. Since they are spreading the rushing load around, the odds of their running backs being fresh and healthy for a presumed late trip into the playoffs seem high at this point. It is a bit worrisome that top running back Brandon Jacobs did come down with a bit of an injury in yesterday's game versus the Ravens, but since he insists that he could have come back to play if absolutely necessary, I'm going to cross my fingers and judge it as being of little concern.

The Giants running attack was dominating yesterday, totalling 207 yards rushing, and in so doing, becoming the first team to break 100 yards against Baltimore's previously top rated run defense this year. The Giants run offense is doing the important job of limiting the need for the Eli Manning to beat teams passing. The Giants defense is also doing its part, ranking number two overall in the league in total defense, and in the top ten in both rush and pass defense. Being able to control the ball with a solid running game on offense and being able to prevent your opponent from doing so on defense are certainly ingredients for success in the NFL.

Okay, now that I'm done fawning over the Giants, I'll move to a few other things. First of all (or second of all), I'll discuss the Chargers-Steelers game. By now you may know that the Steelers defeated the Chargers 11-10, this game being the first time in 12,000 plus NFL games (or something like that) in history that the final score was 11-10. When I first heard this stat, my initial response was who gives a damn? Do people really have this little to do that they sit around and wait for professional football final scores to see if they have ever been achieved in the history of the game? And then I remembered that the answer to this last question is yes, and that the people who do have such little to do are at the Elias Sports Bureau. But then I later learned that the officials had improperly taken away a touchdown at the end of the game that would have given the Steelers a 17-10 or 18-10 win and I realized that there were other people who would actually give a damn. Those would be fantasy football players and gamblers. I certainly am glad that my fantasy football team wasn't affected by this error, and it is times like this that I am overjoyed that I never got into gambling.

And I guess I should say at least something about the Denver Broncos so that James doesn't whine that I dedicated an entire post to football and didn't discuss the Broncos. The Broncos are in first place, leading an otherwise absolutely crummy division. Good show! Keep up the good work!

And finally, I get to the reason that I really wanted to write this particular post. I'm going to discuss the Philadelphia-Cincinnati 13-13 tie that took place on Sunday. And to be more precise, I'm going to discuss Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb's apparent lack of understanding that ties were possible in the NFL. I find this utterly ridiculous that a starting quarterback on an NFL team did not know that a tie was possible. Now sure, ties don't occur that frequently in the league, the last one having occurred six years ago, but McNabb was in the league six years ago. One would think that even if he didn't know ties were possible when he entered the league that just perusing the scores of games that particular week would have caused him to say, wow a tie - I didn't know that was possible! That's crazy!

But even if that tie had not occurred in 2002, this still seems utterly absurd. Maybe the Philadelphia Eagles just haven't played that many games that have gone to overtime since McNabb has been in the league, but one would think that if they have played any other overtime games, since he is the starting quarterback he would be out there for the coin toss for overtime and he would at least listen to all of the rules that the referee gives. I'm not 100% certain, but I think that the referee does tell the players gathered for the second coin toss that if no team scores after fifteen minutes of overtime the game ends in a tie. I mean, did the guy not watch any pro football while he was in college? Admittedly, I'm a bit of stats junkie and I love ties in the NFL because I think it is funny how they screw up playoff races, but off the top of my head, I was able to remember that there were two ties in the 1997 NFL season, and three of those teams with ties were in the same division. And that division with three teams, and one of those teams, are the division and team on which McNabb has always played for in the NFL. I guess McNabb must have known what record his team had the year before joining the team, but he didn't think to look at their record just one more year back? Unbelievable...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Fate of Joe Lieberman

Okay, now that I posted a non-political story, I can get back to politics. (But I swear, I'm not going to turn this into a political site. Just one more post...for now.) And this story deals with Joe Lieberman and what the Democratic Caucus in the Senate should do with him.

Let's get one thing out of the way first. Joe Lieberman is definitely a traitor to the Democratic Party. You can come to no other conclusion if the guy endorses the opposition party's presidential candidate, actively campaigns for that presidential candidate, speaks at that party's convention, and then levels not so veiled threats about leaving his own party and defecting if he doesn't get his own way.

Joe Lieberman did all of those above things. He chose the losing side, and rather than displaying any contrition, he comes wielding empty threats. There is a very simple way that Democrats should handle Lieberman, notwithstanding President-Elect Barack Obama's opinion that Lieberman should stay in the caucus and retain his committee chairmanship.

The Democrats should say, "Joe, you can stay in the caucus if you'd like, but you're not keeping your chairmanship. Those are the terms and they are non-negotiable." If Lieberman reacts like a spoiled brat and goes off to join the Republican caucus, who cares?

If the Democrats needed Lieberman to remain in the majority (as they did the last two years) or if they needed Lieberman to maintain a sixty vote filibuster proof majority (which it appears they won't reach even with Lieberman), then this issue might be a bit more complicated, but neither is the case. Why would the other Democratic senators allow themselves to be worked over by a traitor to the party like Joe Lieberman? Joe Lieberman has precisely zero leverage in this discussion to make demands.

Let's say Lieberman does decline such a gracious offer and goes to the Republicans. Is Joe Lieberman now all of a sudden going to vote with the Republicans on domestic issues on which he used to vote with the Democrats? Is he going to vote in the opposite way as he used to vote purely out of spite? Honestly, I wouldn't put this past Lieberman. I do so hope that we get the chance to find out.

Lieberman has been extremely arrogant in the way he has carried himself over the last couple of years. He should not be allowed by the entire Democratic caucus to come with his threats. Give him the non-negotiable terms described above and see if he is foolish enough to switch to caucusing with the Republicans. If he thought that his re-election bid in Connecticut was tough in 2006, then he is in for a very bruising experience in 2012.

Kickball and the Summer of 1996

Alright, back to non-political stuff. I would like to relate to you a brief story from my youth that still makes me smile to this day. And this story happens to be 100% true, in case you are wondering.

Back in the summer of 1996, my younger brother and I had the misfortune of working as counselors at a summer camp. Well if it was such a misfortune, you might ask, then why does this story bring a smile to my face? That's a very good question, and I certainly will answer it before long.

This was a miserable summer because the pay was incredibly low; we were basically indentured servants. And we were not happy to be there - in fact we hated being there. And I'm pretty sure most of the kids hated being there as well. Who could blame them really? Though I was eighteen at the time, I knew for a fact that all of the activities that they had the kids doing sucked. I mean seriously, they had these children dancing to that stupid Macarena song, they had them doing arts and craft, and a whole host of other stupid activities that an eighteen-year-old certainly would not enjoy, and six to twelve-year-olds should not enjoy either. Six to twelve-year-olds should be more interested in winning foot races and solving complex mathematical problems and not these sort of trite activities that should be reserved for four and five-year-olds.

Now since I hated these activities, and believed that deep within themselves all of the children did so as well, I didn't feel obligated to force the kids to do any of them. This decision on my part did not necessarily go over so well with my fellow counselors, but I decided that since many of them seemed to have an inability to pronounce my name correctly (one even going so far as to add additional syllables), I was going to be of as little help to them as possible. And I must admit that the children adored me all the more for not making them do stupid, boring stuff.

But alas the goal was not to have the children love me, but to hate me, and in so hating me, love me all the more. So I had to be a jerk to the kids. I know from experience that once kids get to be about ten, eleven, twelve, that's when they start developing jerk-personae. Some of those kids in the camp that year might have been very adept at being jerks for their age, but they could not hope to compete with one such as I who had had several years head start in honing my jerk skills.

But I've kind of been meandering a bit, or rambling, if you will, and have yet to come to the incident that occurred while I was working at that camp that summer that still brings a smile to my face. I was in the midst of a kickball game involving a group of mostly six-year-olds, and I happened to be standing on the portion of asphalt that would be considered left-center field. I believe that there were two runners on base, a boy on third and a girl on second. Well, the ball happened to make it through off the bounce to me and as I scanned the "field" (the blacktop), I could see that somehow there was a mix-up and the boy and girl were both running in close proximity toward home plate. For some reason we playing by a rule that if you hit someone with the ball while they were running off of a base, they were considered out. And so I knew what I had to do.

From my position out in the outfield about 100 feet from home plate, I saw how quickly the children were running and tried to judge the proper trajectory to use to pick off one of them. I knew I had a bit of a margin for error since two of them were running so closely together. I did the almost instantaneous mental calculation and I lofted the ball into the air.

The ball drifted into the air, seemingly taking an eternity to reach its apex. As the ball descended back down toward the ground, the mouths of all were agape as we all slowly tracked the progress of the red round object. The little boy was fortunate to escape the ball's wrath, but the little girl was not so lucky. Bam! She was drilled in the head and sent down to the asphalt.

What happened next? Well, my memory is a bit hazy on this matter. I'm going to guess that we were up by one run prior to the ball coming out to me and that the boy and the girl running the bases represented the tying and winning runs. Since the girl was knocked out before the boy crossed home plate, we won. I think that all of the six-year-olds on my team came and mobbed me and lifted me onto their shoulders as we celebrated our victory. I do kind of wonder what became of that little girl though...

Good times...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sarah Palin in 2012?

Thus far I have been very successful in keeping this site from delving too deeply in the discussion of politics, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to suspend that practice of mine, at least for this post.

And as much as I would like to go on and on celebrating Barack Obama for winning the presidential election, I must instead focus on the subject of Sarah Palin. To be more precise, I must focus on this notion that she represents the future of the national Republican Party, and is perhaps even a viable candidate for the Republican nomination for 2012.

But before I discuss the future of the Sarah Palin and the Republican Party, I would like to touch on the past for a bit - the past as in this election. There have been a number of reports that there are a number of staffers within John McCain's former campaign who are blaming Palin for costing McCain the election. This notion is certainly untrue, I believe, or at the very least I believe it is foolish to say that Palin directly cost McCain this election. To the extent that Palin cost McCain any votes, and by extension the election, is the direct fault of John McCain and his advisers for selecting Sarah Palin.

So no, I don't believe it's "fair" to blame Palin for McCain's loss. However, I'm even more disturbed by these false equivalencies that I've heard some trot out that no one blamed John Edwards for John Kerry's loss or no one blamed Joe Lieberman for Al Gore's loss. Of course no one blamed Edwards or Lieberman for the respective losses of Kerry and Gore. This has nothing to do with the fact that Palin is a woman, as I've heard some suggest. Rather, this has to do with the fact that Sarah Palin was woefully unqualified to be Vice President and, by extention, President.

No one in their right mind can say that Sarah Palin was equally qualified to be Vice President as the last two who failed in their bids for the same office. She displayed a fundamental misunderstanding of what the role of the Vice President is, despite being given a number of opportunities to articulate the job description. Her media appearances were an absolute disaster, to the point where there were at least a couple of appearances where John McCain had to sit alongside her seeming to act as a chaperone of sorts. And yet, Sarah Palin did not cost John McCain the election. To the extent that she had any negative effect on McCain's candidacy, John McCain is directly responsible for selecting someone who demonstrated little to no understanding of important issues.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm thoroughly enjoying all of the Republican infighting that is now taking place. I love the story about Palin being unfamiliar with the countries that constitute NAFTA (with some reports going so far as to say that she was unaware of the countries that are actually in North America), as well as the story that she was evidently unaware that Africa was a continent (or her questioning of whether South Africa was part of the country of Africa). I don't know how much of this is true, but I don't completely buy this argument that she has made that this was all taken out of context. Or at least if these things were taken out of context, how much does this mitigate the damage that her credibility has already taken?

Let's address the NAFTA thing first. I would be willing to cut her some slack on NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) because the continent of North America actually includes all of the Central American countries. However, the fact of the matter is that she is the governor of the state of Alaska. Alaska's only neighbor is Canada. It would seem to me that if you are the governor of any state in the United States you should be aware of what nations are involved in NAFTA. I won't go so far as to believe that she didn't know what countries are in North America because if you want to be absolutely correct about the continent of North America, then you must include the Central American countries as well (something that I could not do off of the top of my head). Still, I think that it would be appalling if she was unaware of the nations in North America as they apply to NAFTA.

Now moving on to the Africa comment, I find it hard to cut her any slack on this one. As hard as it is for me to believe that she would be unaware that Africa is a continent and not a country, I just cannot come up with a plausible explanation for what "taken out of context" means in this situation. I would love for someone to articulate some context for me in this situation in which Palin does not seem foolish. I'm serious; I would really like for someone to do this for me.

What bothers me most about the Sarah Palin candidacy and post-candidacy is that you have people like Mika Brzezinski who are going out of their way to defend Palin. There is a chance that Brzezinski does it from a feminist view point, but I find such a defense absurd. I had two conversations with my mother in which we discussed Palin, and I think that we both agreed in totality. Sarah Palin as a candidate for national office at this time was an embarrassment to the nation as a whole, and to educated women in particular. Her lack of basic understanding of the issues was striking and there is no way she should have been able to get as close as she did to the Vice Presidency. The selection of a woman as a candidate to occupy one of the two highest offices in the land by the Republican Party is truly something that should have been a moment to celebrate because it is clear that the talent level that women represent in this country as a whole is significantly underrepresented in elective politics. However, the notion that Sarah Palin was the most qualified woman that could have been nominated within the Republican Party is absolutely laughable and belies a cynicism that makes their sizable electoral loss wholeheartedly deserved.

What happens next? Well, a large number of members of the Republican Party believe that she could actually be their nominee in 2012. I truly don't get it. I don't understand for the life of me how Republican voters honestly believe she could garner more than fifty percent of the vote in a national election. Those tapes of her interviews and the reports that have come out post-election are not going anywhere. I just don't see how she buries the scars she has suffered, fairly or unfairly, during this presidential campaign. But if the Republicans believe that she is their future, who am I to interfere?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Heroes: Season 3, Episode 6: Dying of the Light

So I just wanted to say a few words about last week's Heroes episode, Dying of the Light, before tonight's episode premieres. As I had stated in another post, I thought that this episode was excellent. At first I couldn't quite figure out how the group of "bad" heroes (to the extent that such can be definitively stated at this point) was going to be able to compete with the "good" heroes, if the good heroes could keep both Peter and Sylar on their side. Well, now we know.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say Arthur Petrelli and his Pinehurst crew are the villains here. This obviously makes Arthur extraordinarily dangerous at this point since he stole Peter's powers with his vampiric power absorption ability. This makes things rather interesting as Peter seems to be completely powerless at the end of the episode. However, is this really the case?

As best as could be seen, Peter only tried to use one of his former powers after hugging his father. Now, as I have stated before, the precise natures of some of these powers are somewhat vague - for example, the Haitian's power inhibition ability and Daphne's ability to move even though Hiro froze time. Many of these powers certainly have been shown to have limits. This is what makes Arthur's ability so interesting. What are its limits?

What is clear about Arthur's vampiric ability is that it, as opposed to Peter's power mimicry ability, has to be an active ability. The reasoning for this is that had it been passive, there would have been no way Arthur could have taken Peter's powers. And the reason for this is that before Arthur and Peter hugged, Peter had already acquired Arthur's power, and if it were a passive power, their contact would have (or it seems logical that it should have) completely negated the power transfer.

Now going back to the questions that I posed earlier, I think that there is definitely a loophole left by which Peter can regain his powers. (And it seems as if at some point Peter has to regain his powers since he and Sylar are probably the main stars of the show.) My guess is that perhaps Arthur's power is limited in that he can only steal powers that he doesn't have. This would mean that Peter would retain the powers that Arthur had already demonstrated prior to the embrace (namely, cellular regeneration, power absorption, and telepathy). This would perhaps be the best way that Peter could plausibly regain his powers. Obviously this is all just speculation, but there is one more question that I have about Arthur's ability that cannot yet be answered. Does Arthur have the ability to transfer powers he has absorbed to other people?

A few other notes:
  • I can understand now why in her dream Angela Petrelli heard Arthur say that she would not be able to move. This is because Arthur is likely planning on taking Eric Doyle's puppet master ability. Eric Doyle should be eliminated not solely to prevent this from happening, but also, and primarily, because he is extremely creepy.
  • At this point I cannot figure out just what Mohinder is doing in acquiring all of these other people. Is he planning on studying them to find a clue about abilities? Is he planning on eating them? That's it; Mohinder is the dumbest character on this show. In truth, Matt Parkman literally has considerably less intellect than Mohinder, but we don't expect Parkman to do intelligent things. Mohinder is (was) a genetics professor and so we should expect more out of him than the colossally stupid things he has done this season.
  • Angela Petrelli should have allowed Sylar (or Gabriel) to slice open Peter's head and acquire Peter's ability. I'm sure she doesn't want to see her sons battle it out, but at the point after Peter attacked her she should have realized that Peter was a loose cannon and Gabriel (no, I don't think that I'm going to call him Sylar anymore at this point) was the one that could be counted on. Gabriel would have been much better prepared for the confrontation with Arthur, and likely would have singlehandedly wiped out all Arthur's assembled crew.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Opening the Vault: Sleeping Beauty

I just saw the other day (October 7th to be exact) that the Magical World of Disney has been so kind to open up the Disney Vault and bestow upon us unworthy consumers for a limited time only on DVD, and for the first time ever on Blu-ray, the 1959 animated motion picture, Sleeping Beauty! (See for yourself.)

This is a tremendous event! There is a very high likelihood that I will go out and buy this movie because the economy is doing great and thus I have so much money to waste, and also, this movie reminds me of the terrible anger and rage that I possessed as a youth. Now please, if you will, journey back with me to my childhood as I tell you my story of Sleeping Beauty...

So I always felt a special connection to the movie Sleeping Beauty as I was born precisely nineteen years to the day after it was originally released. And I have known this fact all of about five minutes, five minutes ago being when I looked at the Sleeping Beauty Wikipedia site.

Now I don't want to bore you with the entire synopsis of this - okay, actually I do want to bore you with the entire synopsis of the movie. It's just that I don't want to take the time to type out the entire synopsis and so I'll just list a few key observations that I have from the movie, all culminating with the source of my anger and rage about the film.

  • Not inviting Maleficent to the introduction ceremony for Aurora was a horrible mistake. I know, I know, you're going to say that this is hindsight, but you have to admit that this was incredibly foolish. Why would you invite three fairies who conveyed absolutely useless gifts upon the princess and not invite a far more powerful sorceress? And don't argue with me about whether or not the fairies' gifts were useless. The only fairy's gift that could possibly be considered useful was Merryweather's and that one was only useful because the kings and queens had forgotten to invite (or snubbed) Maleficent in the first place. Flora's gift (beauty) and Fauna's gift (song) were useless because Aurora was a princess who was betrothed to Prince Phillip so it did not matter if she was repulsively ugly or sang like a banshee, she was still going to be able to get married. And it didn't matter how hot Aurora was, Phillip was a prince and he would one day be a king, and so he was going to cheat on Aurora anyway.

  • King Stefan and his queen (Aurora's parents) are hideously ugly and sound like hyenas. This fact cannot be debated. There is a reason, after all, that the king and queen invited these fairies to bestow these gifts upon Aurora. The king and queen were possibly deformed, and I'm going to suggest that there might have even been some inbreeding, like with the Habsburgs. Yep, King Stefan and his queen were actually brother and sister. Disgusting.

  • Maleficent has to take some responsibility herself for her servants having not found Aurora after sixteen years. I remember the scene well when one of the servants tells her that they had searched every cradle for Aurora. First Maleficent laughed and then she snapped at these servants calling them, I believe, "fools, idiots, imbeciles!" Now, I'm not going to debate whether or not Maleficent's servants are fools, idiots, or imbeciles, because they certainly are all of these. However, it gets kind of tiring to see an arch-villain trust one or more of her/his lackeys to accomplish some feat when the villain knows full well that these lackeys are clearly too incompetent to complete the task. And after having had these servants around for at least sixteen years, wouldn't you have thought that Maleficent would have figured out that they were idiots at some point in more than a decade and a half? Sorry Maleficent, you have to take some blame for this one.

But this is starting to drag on and I haven't even begun explain my rage. Now at some point as I was growing up as a child, the color red became my de facto favorite color. I'm not certain at this point whether this was something of my choosing or whether my parents essentially just kept telling me that red was my preferred color when such was not really true (which is not something that I would put past my parents considering that among other things they had me believing in leprechauns for many years). The bottom line is that I came to accept that red was my favorite color and I even made my choice of what university to attend based solely on this one criterion.

Now this applies to Sleeping Beauty because one of the important scenes in the movie is when Flora and Merryweather get into a tiff over what color Aurora's (or Briar Rose, as the fairies call her) dress should be. Flora opts for pink, the color that she always wears, while Merryweather desires that the dress be blue, her preferred color. The two have a duel of sorts, using their magic wands to paint the dress each of these colors, alternating back and forth. As the fairies hear Aurora returning, the dress is a splattered mess of pink and blue, and in the final stroke, Merryweather is able to turn the dress completely blue.

Okay, so I know that pink is not red, but pink does have red in it and in that little battle between the fairies, I certainly came down on the side of Flora. So needless to say, I had rather a sour mood for most of the remainder of that movie. However, as the movie came to a conclusion, with the Princess Aurora and Prince Philip beginning to live happily ever after, Flora suddenly realized that the dress was blue. And thus began a second war between the fairies over the color of the dress.

I must say, though, my spirits lifted, for as the book closed on the story, the last glimpse I could get of the newly married princess and prince dancing the night away showed Aurora wearing a pink dress. To me that said, "Sorry, book closed, pink dress. You may have won for an hour or so, blue dress, but once the book was closed, the dress was pink, meaning that the dress would have to stay pink until the next time we could see the dress as blue. Victory!" (And yes, I am only very slightly exaggerating all of this.)

So what is troubling me about this now? I suppose I have some lingering doubt as to whether or not that dress really was pink at the final instant when that book was closed. And I'm thinking, we have this new technology that wasn't around in the 1980s; we have DVDs, we have high definition Blu-ray technology! So I'm thinking, what if by virtue of this new high definition technology it is determined that the dress was blue as the book closed?

So of course there is only one course of action; I must buy the Blu-ray version of Sleeping Beauty and analyze it meticulously. There are two ways this story can end. The first way this story ends is that after watching the movie, I see that, after slow-motion (high definition) viewing of the final scene of the movie, the dress is actually pink and I take the movie out of the player, put it back in its special edition case, and never watch it again. The second way this story ends is I watch the final scene and see that the dress is blue, I take it out of the player and burn it. And then after this I go from store to store destroying every copy of the DVD that I can get my hands on, and then finally, I break into the Disney Vault and destroy the original version of Sleeping Beauty.

Either way, I'll live happily ever after...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Heroes: The Sylar Mystery

Eventually I'll get to some more extensive thoughts on the Heroes episode Dying of the Light, which in short I thought was another great episode (except for the Matt Parkman storyline - he's starting to annoy me perhaps more than Mohinder), but I wanted to touch on an entirely different subject. It's the mystery of Sylar, or Gabriel Petrelli, as it makes sense now that this is who Sylar is.

The mysterious thing about him that occurred to me yesterday is, in accepting that he is truly a full brother to Peter and Nathan, then when was he born? Nathan is older than Peter, and he appears to be substantially older. But Gabriel seems to be much, much closer to Peter's age than to Nathan's. There seems to be a substantial enough age difference between Nathan and Peter that Nathan would have to have remembered when Peter was born. I mean, I remember when my sister was born and I was only about four and a half then. The age difference between Nathan and Peter in the show seems to be at least a few years greater than four and a half years.

Angela Petrelli has stated that Gabriel was given up for adoption, and so I can only conclude that given that Nathan does not remember Gabriel and at least there has never been an acknowledgement on his part that he remembers his mother being pregnant other than with Peter (of course the show has never had to touch on this so the explanation could be that Nathan knew that his mother was pregnant with another child but the child died at birth), Peter and Gabriel must be fraternal twins. I guess this could kind of make sense in their each having the ability to take others' powers, albeit in different ways. And it would explain how Nathan would be none the wiser when it comes to his other brother. Of course this would imply that Gabriel was given up for adoption immediately upon birth and one would be left to question why.

There is of course the sort of "cheating" explanation that exists that the Petrellis used the Haitian to erase Nathan's (and perhaps Peter's) memory of Gabriel being born, but I would hope that this sort of easy explanation is not the one the show is going to use.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Heroes: The Death of Future Peter and the Haitian's Power

Okay so in my previous post about Heroes I mentioned a couple of things that just do not make a whole lot of sense. What is clear from watching the show is that some of the powers that the characters have are active while some are passive. For example, Nathan Petrelli in just about every example of his use of his flying ability had to actively use it. (There was of course the initial time that he used it, when he seemingly unwittingly flew out of the car that he was driving, escaping an accident, but leaving his wife to suffer through it. However, at no other point in the show have they shown Nathan flying unless he has chosen to do so.) And as an example of passive powers there is Peter Petrelli's ability to absorb others' powers without attempting to do so and Claire Bennet's/Adam Monroe's ability (later acquired by Peter and Sylar) to heal their injuries. Essentially these abilities have always appeared to be passive.

Why am I bringing this up? I am bringing this up because the writers of Heroes have appeared to be somewhat sloppy with their handling of the Haitian's powers. The Haitian has the ability to inhibit another's use of his or her power and the ability to wipe away others' memories. Evidence from the show proves that the Haitian's powers are active. The part about erasing memories is easy; the Haitian has never demonstrated the ability to erase someone's memory unless trying to do so. (When the Haitian goes around casually from place to place you never see people spontaneously losing their memories.)

The evidence that the power inhibiting ability that he possesses is active is a bit more subtle. In the episode One of Us, One of Them Hiro and Daphne both find that they are unable to use their powers in the presence of the Haitian as the two search for a half of a formula that it turns out the Haitian possesses. Now, it seems somewhat difficult to believe that the Haitian knew that Hiro and Daphne were there and thus was actively using his power to suppress their powers. This would seem to suggest that the power is passive. However, the fact that Daphne was able to once again use her super speed after Hiro's friend Ando temporarily knocked the Haitian unconscious and then Hiro was unable to use his powers of time manipulation when the Haitian regained consciousness and confronted Hiro and Ando moments later suggests that this power inhibition is an active power. In addition, there have been at least three occasions shown in which the Haitian selectively allows individuals to use abilities while inhibiting the use by others: In Five Years Gone the Haitian prevented Hiro from using his time altering power while allowing Matt Parkman to use his telepathic abilities, and in Four Months Ago..., there were two occasions when Elle Bishop was able to use her electric powers in the presence of the Haitian while Peter was powerless.

It seems that based on the evidence, the Haitian's power is active. The only other possible explanation (to me at least) is that it is a passive power except that it "shuts off" when the Haitian is rendered unconscious. If the Haitian's power was passive, he would selectively choose when to disable his power to allow someone else to use his or her own power. This explanation seems almost absurd. It would be similar to way we breathe, with the mechanism being passive and with our ability to stop doing so when we choose. However, if we were to lose consciousness, our breathing would automatically resume since it is ultimately a passive ability.

What is the relevance of all of this? I'm glad you asked. The relevance of all of this is that Peter Petrelli should by now possess the Haitian's power based on their encounters. Unless the writers of the show would use the rationale that the Haitian's power have a greater range than Peter's power absorption ability then Peter should have instantly absorbed the Haitian's power the moment he was at close enough range. It is also my contention that just in observing how powers work on this program, however inconvenient for the storyline, Peter should be immune to the Haitian's power inhibiting ability. It seems to me that the Haitian's power should be similar to Hiro's time manipulating power in that if two people with that ability confront one another, neither can be affected by the other's power. I don't know why, it just feels like this is the way that the Haitian's power should work.

Now ignoring whether Peter has the Haitian's power or not for a second, I would like to address the fact that Future Peter died in I am Become Death. Now the explanation given for this Peter's death was that the Haitian was present to prevent him from regenerating and thus he ended up dying. However, in the episode The Second Coming, when Sylar takes Claire's power, he tells her that she cannot die, and now neither can he. If Claire's ability prevents her from dying and Sylar has taken this power rendering him unable to die and Peter absorbed the exact same power that Sylar took from Claire, how can Peter die? It makes absolutely no sense. It has already been demonstrated that the regenerative power that Claire has is passive, so unless the Haitian is going to babysit Peter's body for the rest of his life (and assuming that Peter is not immune to the Haitian's power - again, as you know, I think that Peter should be immune to this power), then eventually this Future Peter has to regenerate and come back to life.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Heroes: Season 3, Episode 4: I Am Become Death

Sorry to all of my readers out there (the millions and millions of you) that I was unable to provide a review for last week's episode, but I was busy or something like that. I hardly remember what I might have been busy doing at this point, so it doesn't really matter. And since I don't even really remember what happened in that episode (Episode 3 titled One of Us, One of Them), I probably would not be able to give a very good review anyway, or at least a good review by my standards. What does matter is that I'm back with my review of I have Become Death.

I found this to be an excellent episode. This is not because it cleared up any of those troubling time travelling issues that I discussed in the review of the season premiere (honestly, I've given up on them ever truly resolving these problems), but because it provided more clarity of what is going on in that crazy, crazy world four years in the future. The first thing that was absolutely cleared up for me is that Mohinder Suresh is an idiot. This point can no longer be argued. Okay, so this is not some huge revelation.

However, Mohinder the Freak did prove himself useful as, after Scarred Future Peter Petrelli was apparently killed by Crazy Future Claire (this does not really make sense, but I'll get back to it later), Present Day Peter in the Future was able to visit Mohinder who instructed him on what he needed to do to perhaps prevent this future from coming to be: Peter had to find Sylar.

Sylar's ability is that he knows how things work. He knows how everything works. And by learning how to use Sylar's ability (Peter had of course been exposed to Sylar's ability in the first season, but had never explicitly used it), Peter believed that he might be able to determine how the ability-granting-formula worked and thereby find a way to reverse its effects. (Or at least I think that this was the theory that Peter and Mohinder, ahem, Mohinder the Freak, came up with.) And so Peter teleports to where Sylar resides and is in for a shock.

Peter discovers that Sylar is now going by his real name Gabriel, Sylar (or Gabriel) has a son, and Sylar is actually his own brother. Eventually Sylar realizes (by way of his son) that this Peter is the Peter of the past (or really the present, as we are viewing the show), and he does not know that Sylar is no longer "evil." So Peter tells Sylar that he must instruct him on how his power, intuitive aptitude (as it is called in some places), works. Sylar is reluctant to do so, realizing the danger that this represents for Peter, but Peter finally convinces him to do so after having Sylar paint the future.

Just as Peter finishes learning Sylar's power Claire, Daphne, and Knox arrive (it would take me too long to explain how they found Peter and Sylar - hint, Molly Walker), with Knox threatening to kill Sylar's son unless Peter submits to Claire, who plans to murder him. Peter uses super speed acquired from Daphne to knock Claire out before she can fire the gun, giving Sylar's son a chance to escape. Knox and Sylar confront one another and Sylar tells Knox that he is powerless since Sylar is not afraid of Knox. Knox replies that Sylar's son is the one who is afraid. Knox punches Sylar across the room and the resulting collision kills Sylar's son. Sylar flies into a rage and absolutely pummels Knox to death. Sylar then goes nuclear, exploding and destroying the city in which he resided.

Next we see Peter strapped to a table, unable to move while Claire paces about around him. It seems that Peter is unable to use any of his powers as the Haitian is there to block him from using them. (There is something about the Haitian's power that troubles me as well, and I might discuss it further at some other time.) Just as Claire is about to kill Peter (and again, based on what has been revealed in previous episodes, this should not be possible) when Peter's brother Nathan, the President, walks in and stops her. Claire and the Haitian walk out as Nathan releases Peter. After some discussion about Peter wanting to fix the disastrous state that he finds this world in, Peter eventually finds the hunger for power that had driven Sylar taking control of him. Peter telekinetically holds Nathan in place and then starts to slice open Nathan's skull. Before he can finish slicing the skull off, but it looks like perhaps after he has already killed Nathan, Peter stops and then teleports to his own time to Level 5 of Primatech where Sylar is being held and tells him to help him stop the hunger or something like that. And Sylar laughs or something and tells Peter that it is too late and that Peter is already like him.

Great episode, and I'm done with this post. It has gotten a bit long and so I'll discuss that other stuff that I said that I'd get back to in another post. If you have a problem with that, too bad.

Monday, September 29, 2008

9/28/08 Weekend of College Football Chaos

As is the case during many autumn weekends, I spent quite a bit of time (perhaps too much) watching college football this weekend. And of course this enabled me to witness the various losses among the top ten teams, many of which lost to unranked opponents. What started innocently enough with top ranked Southern Cal's "shocking" loss at Oregon State on Thursday turned into a tidal wave with 4rd ranked Florida's loss at home to unranked Ole Miss, 9th ranked Wisconsin's loss at unranked Michigan, and 3rd ranked Georgia's loss at home to 8th ranked Alabama. (Okay, so Georgia's opponent clearly was not unranked, but the way in which events in this game transpired makes it worthy of inclusion in discussion about this chaotic weekend.)

The Florida-Ole Miss game was tight for the most part and as a result, it did not produce quite the level of shock for me as the other games did, other than the fact that Ole Miss was able to pull out the victory. The other three games produced far greater shocks in that Southern Cal was down 21-0 at halftime, Wisconsin was ahead 19-0 at halftime, and Georgia was down 31-0 at halftime!

It was not necessarily surpising that Southern Cal was able to rally and make a game out of it with Oregon State. I felt that if they could have ever tied the game in the fourth quarter then they would have won, but Oregon State's defense came up big at the most crucial points of the game. And watching that game on Thursday night, I thought that the result should completely doom Southern Cal's (national) championship aspirations - and I still do (more on this later) - but then a whole bunch of other craziness ended up happening once Saturday rolled around.

It was likewise not too, too surprising that Georgia was able to rally to create the semblance of an illusion that they were actually sort of in the game with Alabama at any point. After all, Georgia did start the year ranked number one. Now granted, I never understood why Georgia started at number one, and thus I actually expected Alabama to win. However, I did not expect Alabama to lead 31-0. Now sure, if Georgia runs the table (which would necessarily mean that they win the SEC Championship) they instantly put themselves in the conversation for the national title, but the Georgia team that I saw play on Saturday would seem to me to have little chance of beating Alabama in a potential rematch, and I cannot even envision them going through the rest of the regular season without another loss.

What can I say about Wisconsin? I suppose the only statistic that I can point to that would indicate that their collapse was not a surprise would be the fact that Wisconsin has not won at Michigan since 1994. Otherwise there is no way to paint this game as anything other than a colossal choke. Michigan has looked awful this season, and they looked awful in the first half of the game against Wisconsin, turning the ball over five times in the first thirty minutes. However, Wisconsin was only able to produce four field goals and a lone touchdown before intermission. This loss should absolutely doom Wisconsin's national title hopes. After the last two showings in the BCS Championship by Ohio State, Big Ten schools were essentially playing with zero margin for error. As a result, it essentially does not matter if Wisconsin runs the table; they will not beat out a one-loss SEC or one-loss Big 12 school should it come down to such a selection. And they certainly would not beat out a one-loss Southern Cal team.

This all brings us back to Southern Cal. (See, I told you that I would come back to this later.) Southern Cal should be done. The pollsters should have punished them far more than dropping them to nine (on the AP poll - I don't use the Coaches' Poll, it's a total sham). Southern Cal is buoyed by a perceived superiority in athletic talent (which they could well have) and on the strength of convincing early season victories over a very bad Virginia team and an overrated Ohio State team. (Let's face it, even with Chris Wells in the lineup against Southern Cal, Ohio State still gets beat badly in my opinion.) The conventional wisdom prior to last weekend's games was that (a) Southern Cal was the best team in the country and (b) there was the chance that an undefeated SEC or Big 12 team could be left out of the BCS Championship because it was unlikely that either would jump an undefeated Southern Cal team playing in a weaker Pac 10 conference.

This is precisely the reason (now) that Southern Cal should be out of the BCS title conversation. To me, this retarded system in which the contenders for the championship are selected subjectively by human beings has almost no merit whatsoever. And the only time it truly has any merit is when teams being considered are undefeated. It's simple; when teams go undefeated, they have done everything they could possibly do to be in the championship conversation. When teams have one-loss, they have not done everything possible. If all teams (or at most all but one) have lost, and the schedules of the teams in question all can be considered legitimate, then I think it is completely useless to discuss which team a person thinks would win in a hypothetical matchup. For example, a Trojan fan might say today, I totally think Southern Cal would beat Georgia. My response would be, Really? Did you totally think that they would beat Oregon State, too? You see, in absence of a credible argument to support your beliefs about the hypothetical outcome of a college football game, I'm afraid you have to select a team that tallied a more robust list of victories. And I'm afraid that there is no way that a one-loss Southern Cal team can trump either a one-loss SEC Champion or one-loss Big 12 Champion (should this scenario occur) in this department no matter what the identity of those teams might be.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heroes: Season 3 Premiere

Okay, I was as excited as ever about the premiere of the third season of Heroes - truly a great show. I watched the red carpet countdown special and barely left my sofa for the entire three hours that the premiere event lasted. And in case you have yet to see the episodes and plan to do so, I plan to say exactly what happened during the show's first two hours of this season. Yes, that means that there will be "spoilers." Does this anger you?

Now about the very beginning of the first episode, I was absolutely stunned that a future version of Peter Petrelli was indeed the mystery shooter of his brother Nathan Petrelli. I never would have seen that coming. There were some other interesting developments in the episode that I might discuss in greater detail later on (e.g., Sylar being Angela Petrelli's son and Mohinder being a veritable retard), but I must first address a troubling aspect of the storyline. This aspect is future Peter's attempts to change the past.

These attempts by future Peter are no different than the attempts by future Hiro in the first season to change the past and thereby change the future (all the way down to the use of the different colored strings to represent the lifelines of important characters). A certain phenomenon was hinted at by future Hiro when he encountered Peter in the subway car in the first season, and it was more strongly alluded to in the second episode of this third season (heck, it was even the title of the second episode), and this is known as the butterfly effect. Now I do not want to discuss whether the show used the idea properly (because it did not), but rather I want to discuss the more problematic nature of the show, the notion of causality.

In season one and season three, respectively, future versions of Hiro and Peter believe that they can go back into the past to alter events in order to prevent their own dystopic presents from coming to be. The problem with such attempts is that by each character going back in the past and altering events to prevent their own presents from coming to such disastrous ends, they would necessarily destroy their own causal loops.

Allow me to explain Peter's case. In the present day (or the just recently expired past), Nathan Petrelli is preparing to deliver a speech in which he reveals to world that there are superpowered individuals. This speech is a seminal event that sets in motion the other events that show a future Claire on the verge of shooting Peter. (For the life of me, I cannot understand why she thought that this would work in killing him, given the whole regeneration/immortality thing.) Peter swears that he can go back in time to "fix it," and he stops time just as Claire fires the gun, takes the gun from his frozen niece, and disappears. He finally uses this gun to shoot Nathan.

The problem with this attempt by Peter is that this Peter Petrelli cannot kill Nathan. In fact, it is probable that this Peter cannot even shoot Nathan. It all comes down to causality. There are several events that transpired in the past of the would-be fratricidal Peter that led him to believe that he had to go back in the past to prevent his brother from getting the ball rolling. However, if Peter succeeds in shooting or killing Nathan, he changes the chain of events that ultimately caused him to develop as he did and believe that he had to go back in the past to alter events. If Nathan dies or decides not to reveal the secret of the heroes to world, then Peter will have no reason to travel back into the past to stop Nathan from revealing the secret. In such a case, Nathan would reveal the secret, and Peter would travel back in time to prevent Nathan from revealing the secret, and thus, set about a chain of events that would cause Peter to not have to travel in time to stop Nathan from revealing the secret. Do you see how you could continue going on with this until your head hurts? In short, the future Peter cannot kill and (probably) cannot shoot Nathan because such an act would in effect erase this future Peter from existence.

The same sort of a rationale holds for future Hiro in the first season. That future Hiro could not possibly stop the bomb from happening that blew up New York City. Doing so would in effect kill that future Hiro and prevent him from helping to stop the bomb from blowing up the city. (And the more I think about it, the more the scene in Five Years Gone from the first season where present day Hiro encounters future Hiro and future Hiro is shocked to see his younger self seems absurd. Barring a colossal bout of amnesia, if these two Hiros are truly from the same timeline, then the future Hiro would have had to remember encountering his future self when he jumped through time at that earlier age.)

These paradoxes can potentially be explained away if you allow for the possibility of multiple realities, whereby a Hiro or a Peter of one reality went back into the past of another reality and changed the course of history, but this explanation does not make a whole lot of sense either since by virtue of the fact that a single change has the ability to create a divergent reality, there should be an infinite amount of possible realities. Why would this future Peter find it so important to try to change this singular one (the one that he in truth should be most unable to alter) when he can probably find any myriad realities to relax in that have rosier outlooks?

All of this aside, this still should be an enjoyable season to watch.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Weekend of Weddings: Part 8

Part 8 in Cabral's Continuous Blog on Weekend of Weddings (with actual blogging being done during the ceremonies). See Part 7 here.

And I'm runnin' runnin' (Valerie's going to kill me), and runnin' runnin' (and I don't want Valerie to kill me) down to the beach and finally I make it to the wedding. Phew! 6:32 pm - right on time, or close enough. I slow down to walk to a seat, but then look around and realize that I cannot recognize a single person seated. That would have been perfectly fine with me, but I could not recognize either the bride or groom either.

Oh crap again!

And so I walked up to a lady who was standing some paces behind where the wedding guests were seated and indicated to her that I was on the beach for a wedding but wonder of wonders, I could not recognize a single soul sitting before me. Well, she kindly informed me that there was another wedding occurring some ways down the beach as she pointed in the direction that I needed to go.

I thanked her and kindly tipped my hat and was off runnin' again. (Okay, I did not really tip my hat since as I stated in the last post, my hair was a mess, but such was my gratitude that I actually would have tipped my hat if my hair was not a mess. However, if my hair was not a mess, I would not have been wearing a hat in the first place. I have come to a bit of a paradox, I'm afraid. Let's see, I would tip my hat if my hair was not a mess, but I would not be wearing the hat to tip if my hair was not a mess... How do I reason my way through this one? Wait, there's no time! I have to keep running!)

Weekend of Weddings: Part 7

Part 7 in Cabral's Continuous Blog on Weekend of Weddings (with actual blogging being done during the ceremonies). See Part 6 here.

Crap!!!!!! It's 6:20?! It's 6:20 and the wedding starts at 6:30?! Crap - Valerie's going to kill me! Gotta go jump in the shower! (Valerie's going to kill me!) I can't be late, I can't be late! (Valerie's going to kill me!)

Wow, that was one of the fastest showers I've ever taken. Wait a minute, did I use soap? And did I wash my hair? Oh crap, that's right; Valerie is going to kill me!

Okay, what to wear... All of this stuff looks wrinkled, except the suits, of course, but I don't want to wear a suit. Let's see, I'll wear the khakis, and this Hawaiian shirt will probably look good with it, and why don't I throw on the Masters jacket as well. That should make for a splendid ensemble. Okay, I'll throw on my black dress shoes and everything should be perfect. Okay I'm gone.

Crap!!! My hair!!! I didn't have time to do my hair! Okay, I guess I'm going to have to throw on the Harvard fishing hat. Now I'm out the door. (Valerie's going to kill me!)

Weekend of Weddings: Part 6

Part 6 in Cabral's Continuous Blog on Weekend of Weddings (with actual blogging being done during the ceremonies). See Part 5 here.

That pina colada that I just had by the pool certainly was a good way to top off things before resting up for the wedding. I'm glad Katherine told me that people were still hanging out there. Let me see now, I'm back in my room and it's about 5:30 pm. The wedding is not scheduled to start until 6:30 pm...so why don't I set my alarm for 6:20 pm? That should be plenty of time to get ready and head down for the wedding, right?

Weekend of Weddings: Part 5

Part 5 in Cabral's Continuous Blog on Weekend of Weddings (with actual blogging being done during the ceremonies). See Part 4 here.

Where the hell am I? Wait a minute, I'm in a car and I guess that this looks like the hotel where we are staying. But weren't we just playing golf a moment ago? Okay, let me try to piece things together...

I remember buying the beer right before the third hole. Yeah, that was a six pack of Coors Light. The beer was going down smoothly and we were having some fun driving around the golf course. Wait a minute, now I remember running out of beer a lot sooner than I expected and seeing the beer lady sometime after...let's just say it was sometime after the fourth hole. So what else was there to do but buy more beer? Buy a ham sandwich as well.

So I guess it was that second six pack of Coors Light that did the trick. Oh well, I was going to head back up to my hotel room to pass out for a while before the wedding, but Katherine just called me to say that there are a few people out by the pool. Well, let just go on out there and say hello to everyone. This can't possibly turn out to be a bad idea, can it?

Man, that was a really good ham sandwich...I think.

Weekend of Weddings: Part 4

Part 4 in Cabral's Continuous Blog on Weekend of Weddings (with actual blogging being done during the ceremonies). See Part 3 here.

We are now about ninety minutes into play and have just finished the third hole. At the rate that we're going, we might be done by Christmas. This is obviously a bit of a problem since Justin's and Valerie's wedding starts at 6:30 pm, and none of us would possibly be late for the wedding.

And apparently this golf thing is a bit harder than I thought. It wasn't until during the first hole of play that the rules were changed such that I was limited to eight strokes per hole, after two unsuccessful swings my ball would be moved up to the location of another player's shot, with a one stroke penalty, and other players were no longer able to stand within the 180 degrees of my shot direction (this change occurring after I nearly killed two players - one being the groom-to-be - after a shot I struck that was sliced by just a tad bit).

Never fear, though, we just bought some beer prior to this third hole so things should go smoothly from here on out, right?

Weekend of Weddings: Part 3

Part 3 in Cabral's Continuous Blog on Weekend of Weddings (with actual blogging being done during the ceremonies). See Part 2 here.

We just got over to the golf course and I must say that I am sensing an outstanding round out of me. I don't know why, just call it a hunch. Now sure, this will be the first time that I've swung a golf club (other than mini-golf) in like 19/20 years, but how hard can this be?

I only have one question; why did we stop in Wal-Mart and why do I need so many golf balls? Okay, those are really two separate questions. Why did we stop at Wal-Mart when we could have presumably stopped in any store to buy golf balls (and I hate Wal-Mart with a passion)? And why did I need to buy so many golf balls? Don't you only need like one golf ball to play?

Weekend of Weddings: Part 2

Part 2 in Cabral's Continuous Blog on Weekend of Weddings (with actual blogging being done during the ceremonies). See Part 1 here.

Well, as you might have noticed, I didn't get to do quite as much blogging as I would have hoped during Weekend of Weddings. And I certainly didn't get to do any actual blogging during the ceremonies themselves, which is a good thing because I absolutely hate the words "blog" and "blogging" and hate the fact that I have used them as much as I have up until this point.

However, my narrative about this weekend must be told, and so I plan continue telling of the events of this weekend almost as if they were in real-time. And so this means that I will try to go back to the specific times when the several events happened.

For those of you who have complained that I don't post things frequently enough here, you stop whining now because there will be several posts on this subject.

Note: This post is the official "I just woke up this morning and I'm heading to play golf for the first time ever" post.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Weekend of Weddings: Part 1

Part 1 in Cabral's Continuous Blog on Weekend of Weddings (with actual blogging being done during the ceremonies)

Well, this weekend is already off to an awful start (as I imagined would be the case) as today is my sister's birthday, and being the very best brother a person could possibly have, I decided to call her and wish her a happy birthday. But of course, even though my sister has like eight cell phones, all of them went to voice mail. I suppose that I could have just left a message, but (1) that's something that Cabral just doesn't like to do and (2) it seems a bit impersonal. If worse comes to worse, I guess I'll just post something on her Facebook page reminding her that today is exactly twenty-one weeks until my birthday.

And oh yeah, what also adds to the crummy start of this weekend is that apparently Kara has requested that I bring my Masters jacket to one of these weddings (yes, I do have a Masters jacket, which, considering the fact that I don't play golf, or at least not until tomorrow, obviously means that I stole the jacket from Augusta National or Gary Player) and so I must make a detour home to pick it up before heading to the airport. I don't know why I'm doing this since Kara is clearly a crazy person.

Well, I'm off to Florida!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Report - August 12, 2008

I must thank my dear sister for alerting me to the story of the little Chinese girl lip-synching at the opening ceremony for the Olympics. Do you know what this is folks? It is cheating, and that is about all I'll have to say on this subject. (And you mean to tell me that out of a billion plus people China could not find a cute little girl with a good singing voice?)

Oh but wait, because I suddenly have more to say. As I perused the medal tables earlier this morning or afternoon, a realization came to me that was utterly disturbing. While the great US of A was ahead in the medal count, as we should be (twenty-one total medals versus China's twenty medals), we did trail the host country in terms of number of gold medals. (I believe at that time China led thirteen golds to the US's six or seven.) Now sure, China does have probably four times our population, but still no nation should have more gold medals than the USA. I could only come to the conclusion that there was more cheating going on on the part of China.

But as you might imagine, I was just a tad bit lazy to do the necessary research to see in what events China had cheated to win all of these gold medals. So instead, I have come up with a creative solution to ensure that the US returns to its rightful place as the country with the most gold medals.

My remedy to this problem is quite simple; there just are not enough swimming events in the Olympics yet. I know that Michael Phelps has won every event that he has entered so far in the Olympics, but can we say with a certainty that Phelps would win the 200 meter freestyle-butterfly individual medley if the event were contested? Or for that matter, can we say with a certainty whether Phelps would win - and wait for it - the 400 meter freestyle-butterfly individual medley relay? I say we try it out just in case so that the greatest Olympic athlete of all time can have a chance to win a few more medals. (And you probably noticed that I left out the 250 meter freestyle-butterfly medley relay - well let's not get silly. This would require Phelps to change strokes in the middle of a lap, and while Ihave no doubt that the great Phelps could do this, I'm just not confident that any other swimmers could do so. This just would not be a fair competition and so I will leave it out.)

And why in heavens did they ever limit the number of stroke disciplines to just four?! You're telling me that we couldn't get a little sidestroke action into the swimming program? And no elementary backstroke? Come on! We are so getting cheated in these Olympics!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Brett Favre Saga

Quite frankly, this Brett Favre retirement/non-retirement saga is getting a bit annoying. All you hear about all day long seemingly is whether or not Brett and the Packers are essentially going steady anymore. To be honest, I don't really care, but I got to thinking and I'm pretty sure that there have to be other people who are just as annoyed as I am by this Brett Favre Saga. And so without further delay, here are the top ten people who are pissed off about the Brett Favre Saga.

10. Cabral Williams - Ordinarily I would never have a top ten list that had me at number ten. For the purposes of such a list that would put me in last place, and I don't like to put myself in last place ever. Because I'm a winner. But I put myself here because believe it or not, I think that there are others who are slightly more annoyed by this than I am. Not that they are better than me, because they're not, but they are probably a little more annoyed. And the mitigating factor in the Brett Favre Saga is that as annoying as it is, it is still much more exciting than spending the entire summer worrying about the boring baseball season.

9. Cal Ripken, Jr. - You can see it coming, I can see it coming, so Cal Ripken, Jr. can definitely see it coming. As you may know, Ripken holds the Major League Baseball record for consecutive games played at 2,632. Well, Brett Favre holds the record for most consecutive games started by an NFL quarterback at 253. Knowing Brett (and I don't really know Brett), he won't be satisfied with just taking down Jeff Feagles's (ongoing) NFL record of 320 consecutive games played, he's shooting for Ripken. Now sure, barring an increase in the number of games of an NFL season, and assuming no work stoppages along the way, Favre won't have the opportunity to break Ripken's record until the twelfth game of the 2156 season, but Cal just cannot be happy that Brett just won't hang it up.

8. Fans of the 2156 Green Bay Packers - Now in truth, fans of the prior 140 or so Packers teams will share similar sentiments, but in particular, fans of the 2156 Green Bay Packers (although it is almost certain that none are yet alive) cannot be happy with where this is going. I mean, raise your hand if you would be thrilled if your NFL team was breaking camp with a 186-soon-to-be-187 year old quarterback attempting to lead the team to the championship.

7. Brian Brohm - What looked like an ideal situation, being drafted as the backup quarterback for a guy who had never started an NFL game before, for a team that came extremely close to making it to the Super Bowl last season, suddenly no longer looks so rosy. Tell me, would you want to spend the next century and a half as the third-string quarterback, only coming into the game if both of the guys ahead of you were injured or for mop-up duty during blowout games?

6. Aaron Rodgers - It would seem virtually impossible for anyone to be more annoyed with this Brett Favre Saga than Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has to be annoyed for similar reasons to those of Brohm, but one has to believe that Rodgers's level of annoyance goes a bit higher (at least one level higher as Rodgers is number six while Brohm was number seven). When Rodgers was coming out of college a few years back, there was some discussion that he might in fact be the number one player taken in the entire draft. Unfortunately for Rodgers, that honor went to Utah's Alex Smith. Rodgers had to have been looking to finally show the world that he is a quality player, and in particular to demonstrate this fact to the more than one person (because I certainly did this and I have to assume that there is at least one other person who did so as well) who derived great enjoyment out of seeing Rodgers slip all the way to the number twenty-four selection. And so Aaron Rodgers has to be saying, "Brett, get out of here! Just retire, old man! Let me have a shot!"

5. Aaron Rodgers - Aaron

4. Aaron Rodgers - Rodgers

3. Aaron Rodgers - Hates

2. Aaron Rodgers - Brett

1. Aaron Rodgers - Favre.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Late Night Pizza

In the wee hours of a Friday morning, Cabral decides that it is a good idea to drive two girls who he has never met before to wherever it is they have to go after witnessing the dude that was supposed to take them there storm off angrily and after seeing the girls eat pizza that had fallen on the ground.

Someone, let's just say it was Heebs, decides to call the Wonder Twins...

Meanwhile, miles away at Chuck E. Cheese's, the Wonder Twins are engaged in a spirited game of skee ball...

Zan: "Watch this, Wonder Sis, I'm totally about to sink this ball in the fifty!"
Jayna: "The only way you'll sink it in the fifty is if you are really very nifty!"

Moments later, an alarm goes off...

Zan: "Jupiters! It's the Teen Trouble Alert!"
Heebs (through the TTA speaker): "Wonder Twins! I just saw Cabral walk off to drive two girls who may be drunk and just ate pizza that fell on the ground!"
Jayna: "Oh no! We'd better get over there right now!"
Jayna and Zan: "Wonder Twin p-"
Heebs: "Wait, where are you right now?"
Zan: "We're at Chuck E. Cheese's."
Heebs: "Why? It's like 2:30 in the morning. Isn't that place closed?"
Jayna: "Yes, but Gleek wanted to play Whac-A-Mole and Chuck E. Cheese's won't let us in with monkeys when there are children around anymore. The last time we brought him here when kids were here, he bit a kid and gave him rabies."
Heebs: "So you broke into Chuck E. Cheese's."
Jayna: "We'd better go help Cabral!"
Jayna and Zan: "Wonder Twin powers activate!"
Jayna: "Shape of an eagle!"
Zan: "Form of water!"

And so Jayna flies off holding Gleek who carries Zan in a bucket.

Meanwhile, a short distance away, Cabral brings his car to a stop in an empty parking lot.

Girl #1 (in the passenger seat): "I think that she is totally about to puke back there."
Cabral: "That would totally suck since you've already dropped my pizza on the ground."

Just then the Wonder Twins (and Gleek) arrive.

Jayna and Zan: "Wonder Twin powers deactivate!"
Zan: "What seems to be the problem kids?"
Cabral: "I'm not really a kid anymore, but why are you guys still answering the Teen Trouble Alert? Aren't you like forty-five years old or so by now?"
Girl #1: "Girl #2 ate some pizza off the ground and now she's in the back of the car about to puke!"
Jayna: "This calls for some Wonder Twin power, Wonder Brother!"
Jayna and Zan: "Wonder Twin powers activate!"
Jayna: "Shape of a -"
Cabral: "Sponge!"
Zan: "Form of -"
Cabral: "Water!"

Thinking quickly, Cabral tossed sponge-Jayna into Gleek's bucket containing water-Zan. Cabral then forced the monkey to clean up the puke in his car using Jayna and Zan. After Gleek had finished cleaning the puke out of Cabral's car, the Wonder Twins had reverted back to their alien forms.

Cabral: "Thanks Wonder Twins! I would have been in trouble if you hadn't showed up."
Girl #1: "Yeah, thanks Wonder Twins! If you hadn't showed up I would have had to clean up the puke or Girl #2 would have still been lying facedown in the puke because I don't think Cabral was going to clean it up."
Cabral: "You're right Girl #1!"
Jayna: "Remember kids, don't talk to strangers."
Zan: "Yeah kids, and never eat pizza that has fallen on the ground."
Gleek: "Glck, glglglglck, glglck!"
Zan: "What is it Gleek?"
Jayna: "I think that Gleek wants to eat the puke that's stuck in your hair, Wonder Brother!"
Zan: "That's great Wonder Sis! Maybe afterwards he'll eat the puke that's stuck in your hair!"
Cabral: "Thanks again Wonder Twins!"

Cabral drives off leaving Girls #1 and #2 with the Wonder Twins as Gleek, having finished eating the puke out of Zan's hair moves on to eat the puke out of Jayna's hair.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

This Morning's Top Story - July 23, 2008

In an absolutely stunning development I have learned that two ATP (that would be Association of Tennis Professionals to those unaware - the men's professional tour) tennis players have recently been suspended by, err, the ATP for betting on tennis matches. You can read about it here if you would like.

You may be asking yourself at this point, what's so stunning about this, given that the article itself mentions recent allegations of potential match fixing by tour player Nikolay Davydenko. True, the fact that tennis players were gambling on the match isn't the stunning development of which I am speaking. What is stunning about this is that I learned of this news in the first place.

Now I will freely admit that I am a fairly big tennis fan, however, even my level of interest in the sport does not rise to the point where I would know, let alone care, what the names of the 34th and 37th ranked doubles players in the world are. These people are doubles players for crying out loud! Usually the best doubles players in the world play doubles because they are not skilled enough to win on a consistent basis playing singles. And these two guys in a combined twenty years of professional tennis play have a combined singles record of 19-29. They're obviously not that great at playing singles, but they're ranked 34th and 37th in the world playing doubles. So I would say that they aren't exceptionally good at doubles either.

So in essence what is stunning about this story is that Associated Press evidently had someone to spare to write about it. How is it newsworthy that the 34th and 37th ranked doubles players in the world are betting on tennis matches that do not involve themselves?

And of course, you naturally should be asking why I even care about this or even bothered to open the link. Well, I will simply answer this (very good) enquiry by saying that recently I have heard a number of complaints (or better yet whines) by people because I have not been updating this weblog enough. Well, here you go.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Non-Rigged Flip Cup 2008

I would like to offer my congratulations to the winners of this year's 2nd Annual Houston Flip-Cup Tournament, also potentially to be known as the 1st Annual Non-Rigged Houston Flip-Cup Tournament. (We of course won't know if the non-rigging of the tournament is annual until another tournament is held next year that is also not rigged, unlike what occurred last year.)

Being clear underdogs heading into the finals, the purple team consisting of a bunch of people who I'm not going to waste my time naming battled valiantly to defeat the heavily favored orange team. (I would name the orange team's players, but this also would be a waste of my time.) The match came down to round five of this best of five rounds match. Team orange was ahead early and led heading into the final leg of the round, but some faulty cup placement during the flipping portion of the contest doomed team orange as the team purple anchor, who for some unfathomable reason decided to fly to Houston, TX, for the sole reason of competing in a flip cup tournament that pure percentages should have told her was likely to be rigged, came up with a clutch chug and perfect flip to secure the upset.

Bravo Team Purple!

Also, James was totally owned by Hebing when they faced off during the tournament.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Belmont Stakes - Big Brown Looks Unbeatable

Okay so we are now finally a day away from the Belmont Stakes and quite frankly, I'm going to have to agree with Big Brown's trainer, Rick Dutrow; I just cannot see how Big Brown is going to lose this race. Assuming Big Brown is healthy, and assuming all of the other horse are healthy as well (unfortunately there is word that Casino Drive has come down with a bruised hind foot today), it just seems hard to imagine that another horse can win.

Big Brown is thus far undefeated, so it is somewhat ridiculous to talk about the way to beat Big Brown. It has not happened yet, so any talk of how to beat Big Brown is pure speculation. However, one can certainly take some guesses about how it would be possible. Based on watching the races in which Big Brown has run thus far, in order to beat him, a horse would have to debilitate Big Brown's kick. Based on watching these horses run, Big Brown seems to easily have the highest top speed. In order to beat Big Brown, another horse would have to set dangerously fast fractions (:23.x, :46.x, 1:10.x perhaps) and hope that Big Brown follows and wilts on the final straightaway. The problem with this scenario is that (1) Big Brown has shown thus far that he totally responds to Kent Desormeaux's commands and Desormeaux would likely not allow Big Brown to chase an insane pace and (2) I don't really see any horse in this field setting such a suicidal pace.

The problem with picking another horse against Big Brown is that despite the fact that some of these other horses might be closers, I don't think that any of them have demonstrated anywhere near the closing speed to handle Big Brown's finishing acceleration. The paces off of which Big Brown delivered those bursts were legitimate paces, slow by no means. What this means is that Big Brown should have been able to handle even stronger paces, if other horses had set them. Sure, Big Brown may have not had quite the ending acceleration that he has displayed in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but against the horses he has faced so far, he would not have needed it as he would have separated from them with ease at those paces. The bottom line is that there does not appear to be any horse here that will take that kick out of Big Brown. Casino Drive may be a more talented horse than any other Big Brown has faced so far (and I do say he may be more talented because many people thought that some of the competition was pretty strong in the Kentucky Derby before Big Brown dispatched those horses with ease), but much of the hype concerning Casino Drive is based on two things. The first thing is his victory in the Peter Pan Stakes four weeks ago that I would argue is a weaker performance than any of Big Brown's last three races. The second thing is that Casino Drive's half siblings have won the last two Belmont Stakes races and so the story is that Casino Drive was "bred" for the distance. Yes, rather than seeing the last two Belmonts as some sort of a fluke occurrence (which it very may well be), I think that because there are many out there who do not respect what Big Brown has done and do not respect Big Brown's capabilities, they are willing to so easily talk themselves into giving Casino Drive a questionable edge.

I just cannot see Big Brown losing to these horses.

Welcome Back 1980s!

I am quite thrilled, just as I suspect anyone else reading this certainly is, to welcome back the 1980s! For quite some time I've desired to be transported back to my favorite decade when we were introduced to the highest quality of television and the highest quality of musical performers. But being ostensibly a scientist, I'm well aware that the technology needed to accomplish time travel into the past is probably a good 10 billion years away from being perfected (sigh...). Well joy of joys, it seems as if the late 1980s has been transported to me! (And I guess to all of you too...)

I first came to suspect that something was up when during the fall of last year, old episodes of American Gladiators started popping up on ESPN Classic. I remember when American Gladiators began those long years ago and I remember thinking the show was really cool. But there must have been something that happened along the way that caused me to stop watching the show because after all, the original run of the show lasted until 1996. Let's see, what could have possibly caused me to stop watching that show...

Oh, I remember! I grew beyond the age of twelve or thirteen. I mean seriously, there are reasons that shows like American Gladiators go off the air. Or maybe there is just one reason; people come to their senses and realize that the show is stupid. When the XFL folded, it folded because, you guessed it, people realized that it was stupid. When American Idol and Dancing with the Stars fold, they will fold because, you guessed it, people will have come to their senses (finally) and finally realized that these shows are stupid. No but wait, there's more.

Have you ever wondered what ever became of the New Kids on the Block? No? Well you're not alone. I just can't figure this out; really, who thought it was a good idea for these guys to make a comeback? Who really wants to see some more of the New Kids Hangin' Tough? Let's do a quick analysis. Back in the late 80s, I can remember that the New Kids on the Block were popular with a certain segment of the population. And that segment would be the pre-teen to early teenage girls who were completely insane. Well, fast-forward about twenty years and I just wonder to myself what could possibly draw these girls (now in their late twenties to early thirties) to a bunch of guys who are probably in their late thirties to early forties and are calling themselves the New Kids on the Block. They are almost forty years old!!! There was presumably a reason why their act died away a decade and a half ago; everyone (and by everyone I mean teenaged girls) realized that these guys were lame. Nothing has changed in the last fifteen years. These guys are still lame. So really, why would you want to waste your money, and more importantly, your time going to see these washed, boy-band jokers struggle their way through twenty year old songs? That's time that you will never, ever get back.

And finally we have one last example. Now in truth, this particular show did premiere in 1990, but I figured that 1990 was close enough to not really change the premise of my argument. What show am I talking about? Well, Beverly Hills, 90210, of course! So I got wind of the fact that a stupid spinoff of this show (titled 90210, creatively enough) was planned as I had the msn.com site open a couple of weeks back. I happened to see that for some reason Lori Loughlin was listed in their popular searches. I thought to myself, Lori Loughlin!? They're not planning to bring back Full House, are they? Because that was truly a horrible show, and besides, John Stamos and his hair are currently tied up ruining ER. Admittedly, though, when I decided to click on the search for Lori Loughlin and I saw that the information indicated that she was going to be on a new 90210 show, my immediate impulse led me to believe that this was going to be a spinoff from Melrose Place. My thought was that with Loughlin in her mid forties, there is no way she was going to star in a show that in its genesis, centered around high school students (although Ian Ziering was indeed thirty something at some point while he was playing a high school student I believe, and maybe forty something as well). But sure enough, it is a spinoff/sequel to the original Beverly Hills, 90210! And apparently, they've brought some of the old crew back, with Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling reportedly reprising their roles! Yaaaaaay! Wait a minute; who exactly was it who thought that it would be a good idea to bring this show back?

Welcome back 1980s (and early 1990s)!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Big Brown vs Casino Drive - May 24, 2008

I have good news for you horse racing fans! This is going to be yet another horse racing post, and so obviously if you do not like horse racing, I don't really care. As you are no doubt aware of by now, Big Brown did go on to win the Preakness Stakes impressively by 5 1/4 lengths in 1:54.86. The margin could have been a lot more if Kent Desormeaux had allowed Big Brown to really throw down for longer in the race, but Desormeaux wisely thought to save some of the horse's energy for the Belmont Stakes on June 7.

Big Brown is already in New York as I write, getting set for his attempt to become the first US Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Big Brown has dominated every single horse that has ever raced against him. The case can be made that we have yet to truly see Big Brown at his best because he has never been truly challenged. And I will be honest, as impressive as Big Brown looked in the Preakness, his competition was truly atrocious. Andrew Beyer put it best in his article when he said "[r]arely do a horse and rider win any kind of race...with such obvious disdain for the competition." That Big Brown was able to win so easily should not have been a surprise. (Heck, I essentially stated that Big Brown could win this race in essentially the way in which he did and I am clearly no expert - please ignore those picks for second and third place.) However, there still appear to be many people who refuse to acknowledge the quality of races that Big Brown has run (irrespective of what the "competition" might have done in the races), and continue to grasp at straws for why Big Brown should be unqualified to win this Triple Crown.

Before the Kentucky Derby, the story was that Big Brown was too lightly raced and that no horse since 1929 had won the race from post 20, Big Brown's assigned post in the Derby. Of course the naysayers seemed to heavily discount the quality of Big Brown's prior starts when assessing his Derby chances. In Big Brown's maiden run in 2007, he won the 1 1/16 mile turf race in a very fast 1:40.33, while setting quarter-mile fractions of 23.19, 47.54 (24.35), 1:11.84 (24.3), and 1:34.46 (22.62). Now turf (grass) times tend to be faster than dirt times, so on dirt one would expect slower times, however, notice that the second half mile that Big Brown ran (46.92) was faster than the first (47.54). He won this race by 11 1/4 lengths.

In Big Brown's second race, and first of this year, he ran a mile on dirt and set quarter-mile fractions of 22.95, 45.31 (22.36), 1:09.87 (24.56), and finished in 1:35.66 (25.79). This might seem like a disappointing time, but watch the race. The race was a joke. Kent Desormeaux never had to ask Big Brown to run hard and he just cruised in for the win. Nearing the top of the stretch you can see Desormeaux looking around behind him for other horses - something that would become a familiar sight in later races. The key is that if asked Big Brown probably could have gone two seconds faster in this race. He won this race by 12 3/4 lengths.

The next race for Big Brown, and the one that installed him as the favorite for the Kentucky Derby, was the March 29 1 1/8 mile Florida Derby. The Florida Derby was the last Kentucky Derby prep race that the great Kentucky Derby champion Barbaro contested in 2006. In that Florida Derby, Barbaro did the seemingly incredible, winning the race from post 10 in a time of 1:49.01. The fractions for that race were 23.45, 47.35 (23.9), 1:11.37 (24.02), and 1:36.08 (24.71). Barbaro won that race by about a quarter length. When Big Brown ran the race, he won from an even more impressive post 12 in 1:48.16, setting splits of 22.76, 45.83 (23.07), 1:10.08 (24.25), and 1:35.18 (25.1). Big Brown won the Florida Derby by five lengths. Clearly Big Brown's Florida Derby was more impressive. He broke from a more disadvantageous position, set faster fractions in leading from wire-to-wire, and his final eighth of a mile was nearly as fast as Barbaro's (12.98 for Big Brown versus 12.93 for Barbaro) even though Big Brown had the race in hand and was not being pushed to finish.

Then we come to the Kentucky Derby. The race has been discussed widely because of the ill-fated run of Eight Belles. Despite this tragedy, the run by Big Brown was truly spectacular. Again starting from post 20, Big Brown won the 1 1/4 mile race in 2:01.82 in which the fractions were 23.3, 47.04 (23.74), 1:11.14 (24.1), and 1:36.56 (25.42). What may not be immediately obvious, and if you do the math (and I've done the math), you will realize that the last quarter mile, in 25.26, was faster than the second to last quarter mile. Essentially this means that the pace to the mile mark was not an overly taxing pace for Big Brown as he still was able to accelerate late in the race. Big Brown won by 4 3/4 lengths over Eight Belles, with another 3 1/2 lengths back to third place Denis of Cork.

And finally we come to the Preakness. There is no secret that Big Brown won the race. As stated above, he went the 1 3/16 mile course in 1:54.86, with fractions of 23.59, 46.81 (23.22), 1:10.48 (23.67), and 1:35.72 (25.24). Big Brown was able to win this race by 5 1/4 lengths with Desormeaux slowing him down well before he had crossed the line. Big Brown probably could have won by more than 10 lengths had Desormeaux allowed him.

Two weeks from today is the Belmont Stakes, the 1 1/2 mile race that has doomed ten Triple Crown contenders in the last thirty years. Many have said that Big Brown has the best shot at winning the Crown since the great Spectacular Bid in 1979. The new horse that everyone is talking about that supposedly has a shot at derailing Big Brown is Casino Drive. There are three main factors that the "experts" point to when assessing Casino Drive's chances. First of all, he is half-brother (sharing the same mother) to the last two Belmont Stakes winners, Jazil in 2006 and Rags to Riches in 2007. And second of all, people point to Casino Drive's victory at Belmont Park in the 1 1/8 Peter Pan Stakes on May 10 in 1:47.87. Casino Drive won this race by five lengths with Kent Desormeaux as his jockey. It's a very impressive time, better than Big Brown's time at the same distance in the Florida Derby, with quarter mile splits of 23.08, 46.31 (23.23), 1:10.47 (24.16), and 1:35.26 (24.79). The third main factor that people use is that Casino Drive will be the more rested horse.

Casino Drive hasn't received nearly the same scrutiny that Big Brown has. Would you care to know how many lifetime races Casino Drive has completed as he prepares for the Belmont? Two. The Peter Pan Stakes was Casino Drive's second lifetime race. Why is there no talk about whether such a lightly raced horse such as Casino Drive able to win such a demanding race as the Belmont as there was for Big Brown heading into the Kentucky Derby? Additionally, is the fact that Casino Drive is half brother to the last two Belmont winners really that strong of a piece of evidence? Put in another way, might it not be more chance than anything else that Jazil and Rags to Riches happened to win the Belmont? Surely there have been well-bred horses born from the same mare who have shown varying abilities to perform over the last several decades. Why should it be the case that simply because Casino Drive's two half siblings won the last two Blemonts that Casino Drive should have a reasonable chance to upset Big Brown? Oh, that's right, Casino Drive did have that big performance in the Peter Pan Stakes. However, that performance is somewhat deceptive, and is in my opinion not as impressive as Big Brown's Florida Derby victory.

One of the things that I have never heard discussed is the dimensions of the tracks on which the horses have run. The Belmont Park main racecourse, on which the Belmont Stakes will be contested and on which the Peter Pan Stakes took place, is a 1 1/2 mile racecourse. The straights of the Belmont course are 1940 feet, which leaves 2020 feet for each of the curves. The Gulfstream Park course, where the Florida Derby took place, is a 1 1/8 mile racecourse, and as nearly as I can tell, the straights are about 1370 feet while the curves are 1600 feet. (This is a rough estimate based on using the Gmaps Pedometer, but it is close enough for qualitative and quantitative purposes.) Casino Drive ran a single turn in his Peter Pan win while Big Brown ran two turns in his Florida Derby win. Anyone who has ever run in races knows that it is harder to maintain a high speed on a tighter curve than it is on a more gradual turn. That Big Brown ran a longer distance on tighter curves (3200 feet versus 2020 feet) and actually had to run a few horses wide on the first turn as a result of the disadvantageous 12 post start position (actually increasing the distance that he ran), and only ran .29 seconds slower than Casino Drive, who was able to stay along the rail for pretty much the entire race, is impressive. Each horse won by five lengths and so it is unclear as to whether either was going all out as the race ended.

The biggest that I see with those who are discounting Big Brown's chances is that it seems virtually everyone ignores the fact that Big Brown seems to listen to and obey Kent Desormeaux's every command. From all appearances, Big Brown will not go off chasing an insanely fast pace on his own, and I doubt that Kent Desormeaux would direct him to do so. From what I've seen, the only way to defeat Big Brown is to set some pace that is fast enough that he will have his kick taken out of him. So far, none of these other horses have demonstrated this ability. In the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, Big Brown was positioned just off of the pace as he reached the quarter pole, and then once Desormeaux gave him the green light, he accelerated away from the field, gapping them by three to four lenghts in a matter of a few strides. I don't think any of the horses that ran against Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness are good enough to set such a fast pace that will break Big Brown. And in those last two races, once Big Brown pulled away the distance widened without Kent Desormeaux asking for the full effort out of Big Brown. (This was certainly the case in the Preakness, but I believe it was also the case in the Kentucky Derby.) I don't think that Casino Drive would be likely to set the pace in the Belmont and I have not seen anything out of this horse to suggest that he can handle that Big Brown acceleration when it inevitably comes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Scene in He Got Game

So yesterday evening I happened to watch much of game one of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons, and quite naturally, I was disappointed as the Celtics came away the victors. Somewhat coincidentally, I was flipping channels this morning before heading in to work and I happened to come across the movie He Got Game airing on one of the cable stations. Now for those unaware, He Got Game is a 1998 movie featuring Denzel Washington as Jake Shuttlesworth, the incarcerated father of Ray Allen's character Jesus Shuttlesworth, the top prep basketball player in the country. The coincidence, of course, is that Ray Allen is now a member of the Boston Celtics.

I had seen the movie in the theatre ten years ago, and then as no, something really disturbs me about the film. Well, at the very end of the film... Oh wait, maybe I should not spoil how the movie ends... No screw it; the movie has been out for ten years and so you have had plenty of time to see it. At the very end of the film, Jake Shuttlesworth, after fulfilling his end of a bargain whereby if he convinced his son to attend Big State, the alma mater of the governor, the governor would shorten his prison sentence, finds himself still imprisoned with seemingly no change to his sentence. Concurrent while Jake is out playing basketball in the prison yard, his son is playing basketball states away in the gym of his new school, Big State.

And then the symbolic (I guess) but truly perplexing occurs. Jake begins to walk while holding a basketball toward one of the goals and beyond into a section of the grounds labelled "Out of Bounds." Now I know what you're saying; what's so wrong with labelling the part on the basketball court that is out of bounds with "Out of Bounds?" Behind the basket is out of bounds after all. Now that's a good question except for the fact that this out of bounds section was the out of bounds section in which the prison guards evidently shoot you. Now Jake is walking out toward the shoot-me-please out of bounds section while the guards call him back as they simultaneously aim their guns at him. What does Jake do? Well, he tosses the basketball high up into the air and over the prison wall.

The scene shifts, and we are now back in the gym at Big State with Jesus Shuttlesworth alone getting some practice in. He's about to attempt a shot when seemingly out of nowhere a basketball flies onto the court. Now this was no ordinary basketball (of course it wasn't, I've just told you that it came flying in from seemingly nowhere) as when Jesus picked it up, we the audience could see that it was the same basketball that Jake threw from within the prison yard those many states away. The movie ends with Jesus staring up toward the arena ceiling in amazement as he holds the basketball and Jake walking back onto the court at the prison.

Now I always swore to myself that if I ever got the chance to meet Ray Allen, I would have to ask him about this scene. This is how I would envision this going:

Me: Hey Ray, how's it going?
Ray Allen: Great.

Me: Hey Ray, can I ask you a question?
R.A.: No, you can't have an autograph.

Me: No, I have a different question. It's about He's Got Game.
R.A.: Yes, I do get annoyed when people call me Jesus.

Me: No, it's about one of the scenes from the movie.
R.A.: Yes, the scene with me and the two porn stars was as awesome as it looked.

Me: No, I want to ask about the final scene in the movie - the one where you stand there when the ball magically flies into the arena from nowhere.
R.A.: Oh, that scene.

Me: When you read the script or when Spike Lee told you about this scene, did you think that he was a crazy person?
R.A.: (silence)

Me: I mean, did Spike bother to explain exactly what the symbolism behind this was.
R.A.: (silence)

Me: Was your character in the movie even supposed to know that your character's father threw the basketball because I couldn't see the ball closely, but I don't recall seeing "Property of Attica State Prison" on it?
R.A.: (silence)

Me: Oh, did Spike even tell you that a scene with Denzel throwing the ball was juxtaposed with the ball flying into the arena? Wait, did you even see the movie?
R.A.: Look, do you want my autograph or not?

And that's exactly how it would play out. Well, I wish to inform you that I did encounter Ray Allen on one occasion in early April of 2004. And how did things play out? Forgive me, but that is a story for another day...