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...)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Chase for the PopoZao - January 31, 2008

Here are the finishing results from the most recent Chase for the PopoZao race. As always, first place votes appear in parentheses. The Chase is on!

Previous PopoZao Finish

PopoZao Finish - January 31, 2008

1. Kevin Federline (3) - 2000 PopoZao Points - Kevin Federline is in the position where many people believe he should have been all along: first place in PopoZao Finish. Since the last Chase for the PopoZao race, Federline has already made his triumphant appearance on the hit television show One Tree Hill. And by hit, the Committee is using the word in relative terms because One Tree Hill is a hit show for the CW network. And how has Kevin Federline affected the ratings for One Tree Hill? Well, in a word, fabulistically! The fifth season of One Tree Hill premiered on January 8, 2008 with two episodes. The first of those episodes got a rating of 2.3 and a share of 4. For those unaware of what this means, it means that on average, 2.3 percent of televisions in the US were tuned to this program during the time that it was on, and over the entire length of the show, 4 percent of the televisions had tuned to the program at some point. That awesome work. In fact, by beating one show in ratings for that night and fifteen in ratings for that week, it ended up finishing twelfth out of thirteen in ratings for that night and eightieth out of ninety-five in ratings for that week! The second of those episodes got a 2.4 rating and the same 4 share, finishing tenth out of thirteen for that night and seventy-sixth out of ninety-five for the week. That's some great momentum! Could Kevin Federline keep the momentum up? What momentum?!?!? The two episodes in which the star in the making has starred have had ratings/shares of 1.8/3 and 2.0/3. For those who are not very good with the math, that means that on average roughly one in fifty-six televisions were tuned in during his first episode, while one in fifty on average were tuned in during the second. Each of the shows finished eleventh out of twelfth on that given night. Don't fret though, Kevin Federline fans, the shows almost certainly would have finished higher those nights if they had other episodes of One Tree Hill on with which to compete. And cheer up, at least he is not his ex-wife!

2. Ryan Seacrest - 1900 PZ Points - Ryan Seacrest finishes at a strong number two in this Chase race because the seventh season of American Idol premiered on January 15 and though the Committee does not believe he has any discernible talent, his large number of projects mean that he is likely to be most in the news amongst the American Idol personalities...until Paula Abdul comes anywhere close to a corner convenience store or a pharmacy.

6. Tom Brady - 1500 PZ Points - "Oh, Tom Brady is so good looking!" "Oh, Tom Brady is a perfect quarterback!" "Oh, Tom Brady is without a doubt the best quarterback ever!" "Oh, Tom Brady singlehandedly won three Super Bowls!" "Oh, Tom Brady could solve global warming!" And these are the types of quotes you are likely to hear from male sportswriters. Since all of these statements are clearly true, the Committee believed that Brady was certainly a worthy competitor in the Chase for the PopoZao. And if it were not for the fact that Brady had been seen walking around in a boot after allegedly spraining his ankle in the AFC Championship Game, the Committee would have likely already awarded him the crown in the Chase. You may breathe a sigh of relief, everyone else, for the Chase is still on!

18. Britney Spears - 300 PZ Points - Why does the Committee really need to say anything about Spears anymore? In case you were not watching The Early Show on CBS and you missed the breaking news story that they led with this morning, Britney Spears was taken to the hospital once again. Why? Because she's out of her mind. You know it's true, the Committee knows it's true, so the crazy situation should just be left alone, right? Ha, gotcha! The answer is wrong because apparently Britney Spears is worth up to $120 million to the US economy. Clearly, this saga will not end well. Where will Spears finish in the next Chase for the PopoZao race? Here's a hint, just follow the trend...

26. Jessica Simpson - -500 PZ Points - Off again, on again, off again, on again, it seems like the Committee is constantly getting updates about the relationship status between Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo. The latest news suggests that the two are still on! And that's great news because it can only mean that the pair must each drop one spot in the rankings. Why?

27. Tony Romo - -600 PZ Points - ...Because in the eyes of the Committee, as long as these two remain a couple, they will remain coupled in the rankings. The Committee does not believe that Jessica Simpson has much talent, and so she does not stand to have many big jumps in the rankings. However, Tony Romo is the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and has demonstrated Pro Bowl level talent. When the Committee heard that it had appeared that Romo had come to his senses and jettisoned Simpson, that was worth an immediate jump to number two or possibly a challenge to the top spot of the Chase. However, for erroneously getting the Committee's hopes up, Tony Romo takes a one spot plunge in this Chase for the PopoZao race.

40. Dr. Phil McGraw - -1900 PZ Points - One of the more improbable events has occurred as Dr. Phil McGraw has actually moved up a spot in this race. Have you regained consciousness? Good, now please continue reading. Mind you, the Committee did not move Dr. Phil up because he became any less of a hack in the minds of the Committee members - case in point his appearance on this morning's The Early Show to discuss the most recent Britney Spears hospitalization. But the Committee does not want to be too hard on Phil, since there was some progress that was made. This time Dr. Phil actually stayed away from the hospital (for now), and though he still did get plenty of television face time, the cameras shooting him were not his own. Which brings us to the last place finisher in this race in the Chase for the PopoZao...

41. The Early Show - -2000 PZ Points -Somehow while NBC's Today Show and ABC's Good Morning America were leading their broadcasts this morning with coverage of last night's Republican debate, CBS's The Early Show, as stated earlier, was leading with "breaking news" about a crazy person, Britney Spears, being taken off to the hospital. Now no member of the Committee actually watched this Republican debate as they are all sure, just as you probably are, that it was likely a real yawner, but seriously, you are faced with a choice of leading with coverage of an event that has some factor in the process of choosing the next President of the United States and leading with coverage of an insane, junkie, tabloid queen. If this is the grand idea as to how to make it out of third place in the ratings, then good luck. And, of course, the ultimate decision that solidified The Early Show's last place finish in this edition of the Chase for the PopoZao was the decision to have Dr. Phil appear on the show as well.

Current Chase for the PopoZao Standings as of January 31, 2008:
1. Kevin Federline - 3900 PopoZao Points
3. Jamie Lynn Spears - 2000 PZ Points
4. Ryan Seacrest - 1900 PZ Points
7(tie). Amy Winehouse and Tom Brady - 1500 PZ Points
19. Britney Spears - 700 PZ Points
28. Blake Fielder-Civil - 100 PZ Points
41. Jessica Simpson - -900 PZ Points
42. Tony Romo - -1100 PZ Points
50. The Early Show - -2000 PZ Points
63. Dr. Phil McGraw - -3900 PZ Points

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Form of...An Ice Toboggan!

Some time ago, I watched one of those fantastic Super Friends cartoon shorts starring everyone's favorite junior super hero duo (or trio) the Wonder Twins (and their blue space monkey, Gleek). For those unaware (and you are the fortunate ones), the Twins consist of a girl and a boy, Jayna and Zan, with the abilities to change into any animal and any form of water, respectively. I know what you're saying, Jayna seems to have made out pretty well with the wide variety of options she has, while Zan really must be useless. After all, what more could Zan possibly do other than change into water, ice, or water vapor? Oh, be patient! You'll see!

Now the title of this particular episode in question was "Tiger on the Loose." As you might guess from the title of the episode, a tiger had escaped from the zoo and was now on the loose. Now I saw this long enough ago that my memory of the episode is not perfect. However, I do recall what I think are the key points. After the tiger had escaped, the zoo kingpin decided that it was only right to fire the girl that was the tiger's trainer/handler or something along those lines. Since I can't remember what her name was, I'll call her Girl. A little bit later on, a teacher leads a class of students that were evidently on a school field trip to the zoo back toward their school bus. Who can say how many students made it to that field trip that day, but one after another they all boarded the bus, and it was not until the teacher herself had boarded that anyone noticed the 500-600 pound tiger in the back section of the bus. And this makes sense to me. After watching this episode, I think back to the days when I rode a school bus to school and wonder how many tigers might have been hiding out in the back seats, with their orange and black fur blending perfectly with the green seats of the bus, but I digress.

But as is usually the case when there is a minor problem like an escaped tiger on the loose, there is only one thing to do: Get the Wonder Twins via the Teen Trouble Alert! So the Wonder Twins hear about the problem and go into action. They arrive at the bus to find the tiger on board with the frightened children easily within striking distance. So what do the Wonder Twins do? Does Jayna turn into some equally formidable animal to keep the tiger at bay? No, try again. Does Zan turn into the form of...ice to keep the tiger penned up until the children can escape the bus? Good try, but no. Did the twins sacrifice the space monkey Gleek so that the tiger would have something to eat other than one of the children until they could get the children off of the bus? Nope - this is likely the best possible solution, but the twins opted for something else. If you guessed that the twins left the bus to go get Girl, then you would be 100% correct!

And when I say the twins left the bus, I do mean both twins. They did not have a discussion and say, "Maybe one of us should stay here at the bus, you know, just in case the tiger decides to show some non-vegetarian tendencies." And there was no discussion like, "Maybe we should at least leave Gleek here to keep the tiger distracted. You know, because he could start doing his jumping rope thing with his tail or his trick where he holds six ping pong paddles with the tail. At least the tiger's focus will be on Gleek and if he needs to eat anything, Gleek's his man, err, monkey - space monkey." No, it's, "Let us, Wonder Twins, who have powers - although fairly crappy powers - leave these helpless children and go get help from Girl, who has no powers."

And so it was done, the twins and Gleek secured girls help, Zan turned into an ice toboggan, Jayna turned into a donkey, or some other pulling animal (I think), and with Girl's help, they were able to coax the tiger off the bus and back into his cage. Girl was hired back by the zoo after it was clear that she was not at fault for the tiger escape. Of course there was some moral in the story about jumping to conclusions or something like that and everyone lived happily ever after...except for the seven children that the tiger ate on the bus. I know it was seven because I counted the children both before they got on the bus and after all were off. (Okay, so maybe I'm lying about this last part, but it is what should have happened considering how insanely retarded this plot is with the twins leaving the children on a bus with a tiger to go find some "help.")

This was one of the stupidest plots that I've ever seen in a cartoon...

For Debbie...

So I happened to be up early enough this morning to catch much of the Australian Open semifinal match between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Rafael Nadal. After watching this match, I'm firmly convinced that if he continues to play like he has throughout this tournament, Tsonga will win. Yes, I'm predicting that Tsonga will win regardless of whether his opponent is world number three Novak Djokovic or the opponent is world number one Roger Federer.

Admittedly, I'm a bit of a Rafael Nadal fan. However, after I saw how Tsonga dismantled Mikhail Youzhny in the quarterfinals, I knew that Nadal was going to have his hands full. But describing the situation as "having his hands full" does not do justice to what Tsonga did to Nadal in his 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory. Destroyed, annihilated, massacred, if these words are ever appropriate to use in describing a sports competition, this would be the right time.

But defeating Nadal handily (while factoring in Tsonga's success in earlier matches in the tournament) and making the jump to suggest that Tsonga will defeat whomever wins the other men's semifinal might seem by some to be a bit of a stretch, especially considering that Tsonga's potential opponents are probably considered by many to be the two best players in the world on hardcourts. I make this jump because Nadal has been number two in the world for two and a half years, he appeared to be playing near the best on hardcourts that he has ever played, he is healthy, and unlike many other big tournaments, Nadal was fresh, having not lost a set entering the match against Tsonga.

And it was not as if Nadal's game all of a sudden fell apart. By all objective viewings of this match, Nadal played well. He did not make a lot of errors relative to winners (at least he did not until it became painfully obvious in the third set that prayer would be his only chance at defeating Tsonga), and so it is impossible to make the claim that Nadal beat himself. A look at the match statistics is very revealing. During the match, Tsonga had 49 winners (including service) and 27 unforced errors, versus Nadal's 13 winners (including service) and 12 unforced errors. Let's also look at Tsonga's 17 aces versus Nadal's 2 aces. Tsonga had the edge in total points, 89-57. In looking at the winners, errors, and aces of each as a portion of total points, it becomes clear that this match was completely controlled by Tsonga. Tsonga's winners, errors, and aces combine to 93 of the 146 total points. In essence, this is saying that 63.7% of the points were decided almost irrespective of what Nadal was doing on the court. Adding the aces and winners, 66, shows that in 45% of the points, Tsonga put the ball in places where Nadal essentially could not credibly get his racket on the ball. And Nadal is generally regarded as one of the best returners and best defensive players in the world. No one does this to Nadal. Now, just for fun, consider the fact that 27 of Nadal's 57 (47.4%) points came on Tsonga unforced errors. This is not to say that Tsonga would have won all of these points if not making the errors, but it highlights that Nadal was truly playing at Tsonga's mercy during this match. It got to a point late in the match where former world class tennis players Darren Cahill and Patrick McEnroe said that if they were coaching Nadal, there was literally nothing they could say to help him in this match.

But how does all of this translate to Tsonga beating Djokovic or Federer? It's simple, Tsonga was able to attack Nadal strengths like I have never seen before. Nadal's heavy topspin forehand, which creates high bounces (admittedly, the bounces are higher on clay), reducing the ability of players to attack Nadal with sufficient pace on returns, seemed to be no problem for Tsonga. Routinely, after Nadal hit the ball to either Tsonga's forehand or backhand side, Tsonga replied with such devastating pace that Nadal really could only stand and watch as the shot went by. Nadal was never able to make Tsonga off-balanced. Tsonga always seemed to be in perfect position to hit a quality shot back at Nadal, and as I stated already, in a good many of these situations there was very little Nadal could do. Let me put it this way, I have never seen Nadal play better than what I've seen from Tsonga in the last couple of matches. Never. And though recent events often bias memory, I cannot recall ever seeing Roger Federer play better than Tsonga is playing right now. Never. And I have said before, Roger Federer is the best player that I have ever seen play.

The last time Roger Federer lost at the Australian Open was in the semifinals in 2005 to Marat Safin. There seems to me to be some similarities between Tsonga and Safin in terms of size and striking power. Tsonga seems to me right now to be a version of Safin with a bit more footspeed, and a lot less of the mental craziness. Some people may suggest that Tsonga cannot possibly keep playing at this level. He has done so for six matches, why shouldn't he be able to do it for a seventh? Federer (and Djokovic) beware.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What is Reality?

The Matrix is one of my favorite movies of all time. The notion of what is real and what rules actually exist (to the extent that anything truly exists) plays a huge role in the virtual world of the Matrix. During Neo's training, Morpheus tells Neo that there are certain rules that can be ignored or broken. The key is the person's mind, we are led to believe, it is what makes things real in that world. Recently I have discovered something that is slightly troubling about the notion of reality in the movie.

After Neo attempts the "Jump" program during his training and he and Morpheus are unplugged, Neo discovers that his lip is bleeding from having crashed into the ground in the program. Neo says to Morpheus, "I thought you said it wasn't real." Morpheus replies, "Your mind makes it real." Presumably in the movie those people who are still hardwired to the Matrix are more controlled by the system of rules and laws in place. Those minds that are free, those minds that visit the Matrix through hacking in to the system, those individuals would seem to be bound by the laws only insofar as their minds are unable to reject the notion that nothing is truly real in the virtual world.

Yes, I am rambling on a bit, but (a) I'm allowed to do so (just read the title of this blog if you need a justification) and (b) this is going somewhere. A pivotal moment in the movie is when after Morpheus has been captured and the Agents are trying to extract information from him about Zion, Neo, thinking that he is sacrificing everything, along with Trinity, comes to Morpheus's rescue. It is after Neo has downed all of the Agents and Morpheus frees his mind from the effects of the drugs and breaks free of the handcuffs that something curious happens. Morpheus begins running toward the helicopter piloted by Trinity when the newly transferred Agents re-enter the room. The agents begin shooting at Morpheus and one bullet actually strikes Morpheus's lower leg causing him to stumble as he gets close to the open window. The question is, why does Morpheus stumble?

If in the world of the Matrix, a person's mind is what makes things real. If Morpheus's mind had believed that he had been shot in the leg, then if Morpheus was unable to mentally realize that there was no bullet, then Morpheus would have stumbled. However, Morpheus could not have possibly seen the bullet strike his leg. First of all, the "bullet" (just as "there is no spoon," there is no bullet...) was travelling way too fast for his eyes to have truly processed it if he had been looking in the direction from which it was fired. Second of all, he was not looking in the direction from which it had been fired. Morpheus could not have possibly known that he had been shot, and so his mind could not have made this sensation real.

Again, if Morpheus was still hardwired to the system, he probably would have been more subject to the rules which exist within. The rules within the Matrix probably would have been set up such that when someone is shot, they feel it. But as is explained in the movie, these rules are more absolute for those currently on the system. In other words, those minds that are not yet free might have a strong enough will to realize that they have not truly been shot, but there is no possible way that Morpheus should have ever experienced any sensation of being shot by that "bullet."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Chase for the PopoZao - January 15, 2008

It's a new year and that means the official retirement of the Spears-Federline Rankings. There was some controversy as the Spears-Federline Rankings wrapped up 2007 by naming Britney Spears Person of the Year. As a result, the Committee has been disbanded. Fear not! A new Committee has been created, which will conduct rankings in this Chase for the PopoZao in a much more transparent fashion. For example, the number of first place votes in each ranking has increased (from 1 to 3), and the number of total points that each person receives each ranking will be listed. In addition, the cumulative yearly standings will be listed in the rankings as well. So sit back and enjoy! The Chase is on! First place votes appear in parentheses.

PopoZao Finish - January 15, 2008

1. Jamie Lynn Spears (2) - 2000 PopoZao Points - Jamie Lynn Spears finishes first in this PopoZao Poll. There were a number of other worthy candidates for the top spot, but only Jamie Lynn Spears could say that she is a Spears sister who has been impregnated by someone other than Kevin Federline. That is an accomplishment. Also, despite the fact that being pregnant at the age of sixteen may not be the best situation that a girl can find herself in, Jamie Lynn's life is still considerably less screwed up than is her sister's.

2. Kevin Federline (1) - 1900 PZ Points - Building on his success in winning the Father of the Year award from some extremely obscure publication, Kevin Federline continues to demonstrate why he is such a great parent. And how has he done so? He has done so by beefing up security to ensure that the children aren't kidnapped by a crazy person. And who is this "crazy person?" Why the crazy person is the children's mother, Britney Spears. The Committee has not confirmed, but it can only assume that Federline has taken the same painstaking care to ensure that his other kids are safe from the harms of the world. He is the father of the (last) year after all!

6. Amy Winehouse - 1500 PZ Points - If fate would have had it that the Committee originated in the United Kingdom rather than the United States, Amy Winehouse might possibly be the star of the Chase for the PopoZao. Nonetheless, she still comes in as a top performer. In the first couple of weeks of this year, Winehouse has already supposedly (or reportedly has had the intention of)renewed wedding vows with her husband (who is in jail) (date of article: January 2), gone on a Caribbean holiday with an ex-boyfriend without her husband (who is in jail) (date of article: January 7), and angered her husband (who is in jail) by spending the night/morning in a hotel room with some producer (date of article: January 14). Wow! This sort of rapid fire information update proves that Amy Winehouse will be a true factor in the Chase for the PopoZao. Now, the Committee has no way of confirming whether any of this information is true, but it does not matter because the Committee is just going to assume that it is all true. Oh, the Committee almost forgot to mention that Winehouse will have to pass a drug test in order to come to the US for the Grammy Awards program!

17. Britney Spears - 400 PZ Points - And just when you thought Britney Spears life had reached total train wreck/derailment status, things got even worse... And that was how 2007 started off for Britney Spears. It appears that the court custody hearings between Spears and Federline still persist, with the court ruling that Spears's visitation rights with the kids should continue to be suspended (indefinitely). The Committee is somewhat unfamiliar with custody hearings, but is wondering at this point why they continue to waste time and money with these hearings and don't just give the kids to Federline for good. This is what is going to happen anyway (if these proceedings happen to actually terminate before the children reach the age of eighteen - which seems doubtful right now) and need the Committee say it again: Kevin Federline is the Father of the Year (2007). Oh, but Britney feels she can do a better job than her lawyers at getting the kids back (and by this the Committee does not mean breaking into the newly fortified Federline compound), and after her stint in the hospital, the Committee is certain that she is ready to give it her all in this futile effort! Well, cheer up Britney, at least you don't have to pass a drug test in order to go to the Grammy Awards program!

20. Blake Fielder-Civil - 100 PZ Points - Let's play Jeopardy! The answer is: the husband of Amy Winehouse who is currently in jail. Who is Blake Fielder-Civil? Correct. And that is the sum total of what the Committee knows about Blake Fielder-Civil.

25. Jessica Simpson - -400 PZ Points - Ruined one of the Committee members' fantasy football seasons by showing up at the Eagles-Cowboys game on December 16. Slightly more talented than Britney Spears - maybe.

26. Tony Romo - -500 PZ Points - Out of the playoffs early after being the NFC #1 seed. Karmic justice for not having the realization that he is the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys and thus can get just about any girl that he wants and should not have settled for Jessica Simpson and thus ruined a Committee member's fantasy football season.

41. Dr. Phil McGraw - -2000 PZ Points - If ever there was a person who was 100% qualified to use Mighty Mouse's catch phrase (Here I come to save the day!) then it is Dr. Phil. Oh wait, no, the Committee is 100% convinced that Dr. Phil is an unqualified hack. "What's that? Britney Spears has had a nervous breakdown and is in the hospital? Well, this looks like a job for Dr. Phil. Oh, and I'd better have the cameras rolling when I go save her."

Current Chase for the PopoZao Standings as of January 15, 2008:
1. Jamie Lynn Spears - 2000 PopoZao Points
2. Kevin Federline - 1900 PZ Points
6. Amy Winehouse - 1500 PZ Points
17. Britney Spears - 400 PZ Points
20. Blake Fielder-Civil - 100 PZ Points
25. Jessica Simpson - -400 PZ Points
26. Tony Romo - -500 PZ Points
41. Dr. Phil McGraw - -2000 PZ Points

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Cabral Book Club: The Mitchell Report

Aaaaaaaaaaand finished! I just got done reading the Mitchell Report, and what is my take on it? It is 409 pages of outstandingness! And my favorite part about the Mitchell Report? Oh, I would say it has to be the part about trainer Brian McNamee injecting Roger Clemens in the buttocks with steroids. Just when I thought my favorite Roger Clemens story of all time was when he had to miss some time pitching last season because of a "fatigued right groin," the Mitchell Report about him being injected in the buttocks with steroids comes along.

Now did Roger Clemens actually use steroids? Few people know for certain. I, for one, believe that he did and am enjoying the roasting that he is taking right now. I think he is every bit as big a jerk as people have always said that Barry Bonds is, and it is high quality entertainment watching Clemens prove this with his current actions. I know that Clemens had his little press conference where he proclaimed his innocence, he also had his interview with Mike Wallace where he did the same, but did these two instances seem remotely believable? If you are a Yankees fan, yes. If you are some misguided, delusional, Clemens devotee, yes. Otherwise, probably not.

But of course, I'm a little biased. I'm a Mets fan after all and I still remember Clemens beaning Mike Piazza in the head with a fastball in 2000 and then throwing Piazza's broken off bat in Piazza's general direction during the World Series that year. That couldn't have been roid rage, could it? Nah, because Clemens thought it was the ball... And what does a pitcher do with a ball that has grounded back to him? Well, he throws it in the general direction of the batter that has just hit it, silly! For those who said that he throws it to first base, that's just crazy talk. And yes, I'm still a little pissed about this. But I'm thrilled about the Mitchell Report findings!

However, I do like to allow others the chance for rebuttal, so please listen to Carl.

Note: I did not actually read any of the Mitchell Report.