Saturday, September 29, 2007

nfl week 4 picks

Not a lot of commentary here this week with the picks. I've been feeling sick. My posts earlier in the week were crafted over a period of time. They had been brewing for a while. I'm just trying to be completely healthy for next week as I found out that I have no more sick time at work this year. Yup, for some reason they gave me 15 vacation days and 2.5 sick days when I joined them in April. Weird.

BROWNS +4 over Ravens - If Ogden plays for the Ravens, it will improve their entire offense. That and benching McNair. The Jets and the Ravens are stuck in the same qaundry: do you bench the toasted QB for the young gun when the rest of your team might be playoff quality?

Bears -2.5 over LIONS - This is tough because the Bears defense will be missing key players: Harris, Briggs, Brown, Vasher. The switch to Griese will invigorate the entire team.

Packers -1 over VIKINGS - Not sold on this Packers team. They are winning with glue and duct tape. This will be a test as it is a road game. The Vikings D is set up to stop the run, the Packers will not run. That's fine with them because Favre will just throw 50 times.

FALCONS +3 over Texans - I am going to bet against the Texans because Jones and Johnson are out, although the Falcons are missing several guys on defense. Rod Coleman and Babineaux, which is a big part to their attack on Schaub.

Jets -3.5 over BILLS - The Bills can't score. They cannot score. Plus, they are starting Trent Edwards. This is a reason to avoid them. The Jets need to bench Pennington for Clemons.

Raiders +4 over Dolphins - Raiders on the road, enh. Phins are bad as well, but I'm going with Culpepper because Trent Green is done. He is absolutely done. No zip ont he ball, and the defense is full of dinosaurs.

COWBOYS -13 over Rams - The Rams don't have the horses on defense to stop the Boys on offense. They also are missing Steven Jackson, so there goes the run game for balance. Wade Phillips is a bad playoff coach, but I will trust him in the regular season. Very excited by Romo's play versus the Bears defense on the road. One mistake by him but besides that, the offense played spectacular and the defense was not too shabby. Still need Newman back.

Seahawks -3 over 49ERS - I dislike the Hawks team. I dislike them on the road without that crowd of their, the great acoustics in their stadium, and the pumped in crowd noise. I dislike their offense, which has no 'playmaker' on it. I like Shaun Alexander, but they rode him into the ground their Super Bowl year. They gave him the big contract one eyar too late. They could have hade on more year of bonus money off the books had they signed him 4 months earlier.

Bucs +3 over PANTHERS - The NFC South looks awful this year. A few years ago, this division was consistently sending teams to the SB for the NFC. This year they all look weak, even the 3-0 Bucs.

COLTS -9.5 over Broncos - Cutler on the road, nope. Manning is always geared up for the Broncos, always. The one thing he has this year that he has not had in the past is a decent defense. Let me correct that, a healthy Bob Sanders. When Sanders is healthy, the defense plays well. When he is out, they suck. It's that simple.

CHARGERS -11.5 over Chiefs - The Chiefs are abysmal. The Chargers are pissed off now. This will not be pretty. If the Chargers find a way to lose, you can book Marty Schottenheimer on the NFL Sunday shows for a gloating session or two.

CARDINALS +6 over Steelers - I like the Cardinals to cover. At home, they are a different beast than on the road. The Steelers will probably win this one, but it will be tight.

Iggles -2.5 over GIANTS - The Iggles love to pass and the Giants cannot stop the pass. This is tailor made for McNabb. After this win, the mags will run the "Is McNabb back?" stories forgetting that the Lions and Giants both are terrible against the pass.

BENGALS +9 over Patriots - This is a stupid bet because the Bengals play sloppy, but I think this will be a shoot out. Final score 30-24 or 35-38, something high and fun to watch. I never though the Pats would have a fun to watch team as long as Brady and Belicheck were there: screen pass, WR screen pass, 5 yard slant, 5 yard out, fake screen pass to screen on the other side, that was their MO for years. Lame.

Season: 25-18-4

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Poseur Charlatan of the Month: Caveh Zahedi

Tossed amongst much of my reading, indieflick watching, and web surfing are the footprints of douchebags. These folks take moral highgrounds or state beliefs in an attempt to shock people, impress peope, get laid, or most importantly, sell something. It has reached the point where I have decided to post on these folks, break them down in a rudimentary manner, and hopefully, with my 20 person readership, help people see these charlatans for what they are. This post is more or less a commentary on this man's film, and not an attack on him. After all, he claims it to be autobiographical but what if it is a sham that is a basis for a decent flick?

The title is poseur charlatan for September. By definition, this would be someone who pretends to be what they are not in order to gain money or some advantage over another (I smashed the meanings of poseur and charlatan together). First up, is a gigantic douchebag of the most covertly evil sort of man, the wimpster type, Caveh Zahedi.

I first discovered this poseur by tivo-ing his film "I am a Sex Addict". My motives for taping this were, ahem, not entirely pure. It was on latenight on premium cable, and I thought it might be something from a different genre. Here's the case for this guy to be a poseur charlatan. In his instance, it is a phony persona and belief system to sleep with women and then break up with women but not have it be his fault.

1. Claims to be a feminist and goes to anti-porn rallies, yet hires prostitutes.
2. Is anti-marriage and anti-private property in an effort to have a steady piece of ass to fall back on while he can go nail other women.
3. Would never ask a woman for a blowjob. Sarcasm alert: That would be misogynistic and a power arrangement. This is what he asks prostitutes for in service.
4. Believes in honesty at all times, so he ends up telling his partners that he is frequenting prostitutes. This of course ends a few of his relationships.
5. Is passive aggressive in his arguments with his ladyfriends. Always somehow turning the problem into something they have done or don't do.
6. At one point, is mad that with prostitutes, he has never acted out his real fantasies with them. Like he somehow does not have the sex he wants with prostitutes, which dumbfounds me since they are being hired to do as you please.
7. The thing he wants to do is berate the hooker as she pleases him and be violent int he way he is when she performs oral pleasure on him. See point 3.
8. Claims to be a feminist yet completely views the prostitutes as objects to fulfill his sexual fantasies. He absolutely views them as property, which defies his claim of being anti-private property.
9. Walks really really gay. I just had to throw this in. I thought he was going to turn out to be gay by the end of the film.
10. Cherry on top of this all... the first prostitute he does hire scares him a bit. He then gets extremely aroused when she says "rape me".

This douche went to Yale, which similar to Cornell, is full of Beta Male types that use passive-aggressive means to quasi-stalk women and trick them into bed. I saw this happen a lot in college. When he started to tell his tale, I said "oh shit, he's one of those wimps that fish for compliments and ego boosters". There is a female version of this. You know the girl with the size 2 waist and C cup boobs who says she is fat or doesn't like her body? Yeah, she's begging for you to compliment her. Don't fall for it. Caveh's entire scheme is to appear to be so pro-women that girls feel he is supersensitive and understands them. This works like a charm on a sliver of college age girls who listen to Carly Simon-esque singer-songwriters. When they find out the guy is straight, it's a relief and they date him. These guys are just using this approach to sleep with them, and can fall back on 'enlightened' views of relationships to screw other women and end the relationship. It is about conquest and is far worse than other types of men.

Concerning his sex addiction, I am sensitive to people who are addicts, which is why I love "Intervention". Watching his movie, I did not feel he was a sex addict. I feel he used prostitutes to realize his sexual dreams and desires instead of just asking his partners. He can keep up the sensitive, wimpster routine with his ladyfriend and use other women as objects. On a personal note, I have a friend from college who was a sex addict and attended Sexaholics Anonymous meetings. His stories from SA meetings made me feel sad for people who are true sex addicts.... and his feedback is why I never lick ATM envelopes. Caveh Zahedi went to SA so he could be the 'victim' which is something inherent in the modern liberal world. Power is achieved when one can be called a victim; it gives a moral high ground. It gives an excuse for bad behavior and poor treatment of all women despite his claims to be a feminist.

As a libertarian, I consider myself a believer in equality of opportunity for all. I do like the strain of feminism that the author Christina Hoff Sommers exemplifies. Men and women are both human. Men and women are different. Men and women have different things they might be better tailored to do than the other gender. My other male friends are probably more feminist than they think. The scary part of this tangent, is that the gender worldview that my friends and I are a part of is a whole lot more sincere than Caveh Zahedi's.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Who was the last unattractive, female singer in the US music scene?

Frequent conversations with my wife on the state of the entertainment industry coem down to the idea of imagery. Many movies are marketed on who is in the film rather than the merits of the film. The female images pushed by Hollywood fit stereotypes and are forever pushing women (especially white women) to be thinner and younger. Musicians are discovered and then glammed or shaped up to fit the message the music label thinks is the easiest to market. This can sully the waters of entertainment media and force listeners or viewers to go to alternative routes to find something they think is good. Think about all of the middle class families on TV living in gigantic sets with still only one wage earner. I swear the family on "Friday Night Lights" is the only midle class family on tv that faces middle class problems, and this is on a frickin' sports show.

The beauty of the internet was that is was suppose to make it easier for creators of music, film, & writing to connect with listeners, viewers, & readers. In a sense, the internet does that with the easy posting of music on central gathering sites like MySpace, compression of files into mp3/mp4, digital video, and then blogging for writers. Similar to the problems of chasing profit, the internet has hurt the dispersion of music/film/writing through the monitoring of downloads, blog hits, or 'eyeballs' (for internet ads). With the growth of the internet, I was expecting a few ugly ducklings to emerge. Ugly ducklings in the sense of a female singer who blows people away, creates a grass roots following and is launched onto the popular music scene. Not pop music as much as just being on the mainstream radio consistently. Country Music as an industry, I swear, has a by law that states you must be gorgeous to be a female singer. It has yet to happen.
Pop music has not launched a successful solo pop act with the exception of the American Idol crew since the former Mickey Mousers landed on the scene in the late 90s. Check the record sales. It's been nearly 10 years now. This brought my wife and I to think about an ugly female singer. Ugly male singers are everywhere (Adam Duritz, Ben Folds, Van Morrison, that dude from ELO with the shades & afro). Hell, David Bowie is ugly but chicks think he is sexy because he has a British accent, dresses weird-trendy, knows how to apply eyeliner and was pretty gay in the 70s. It's just so much easier for male artists (for men in general, put an ugly guy in abercrombie clothes, give him a modern haircut and girls will be all over him for being cute). We went over our memories, and conceded that video and the entertainment media killed the radio star.
Above is a photo of Sarah McLachlan (drawing on the Steveie Nicks wear flowing clothes look). You might be thinking, she's ugly. No, she's hot. Hot in a "not hot but you still think she's hot and don't tell your friends about it" way. She mastered this look and rode it into the ground to make men and lesbians fall in love with her. Sarah McLachlan is borderline. She's as close as the entertainment industry would get to having someone unattractive selling albums. She's also blessed with an amazing voice, and only a retarded sea monkey would not produce an album of hers. Ani Difranco wrote a song "The Next Big Thing" about this very concept.
Here are the rules:
1. Must be post-1980. MTV era to now.
2. Must be unattractive in a way that everyone can agree.
3. Must be have released a major label album and had radio airplay on a regular basis within the last 20 years.
4. Cant be Grace Jones. She existed in that weird androgynous era of the '80s.
5. No lesbians. Not for looks, but for the built in niche market of lesbian music.
My wife and I could not name one. Can you?
We could, on the other hand, name a few pre-1980 that are undoubtedly unattractive. They received their record deals on talent, pure talent. With these names, there can be no argument to their talent. Here's that list....
1. Carole King
2. Janis Joplin
3. Aretha Franklin
I will keep scouring the airwaves for that next great find. If there is an ugly duckling out there, I will be pimping her stuff.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

NFL Week 3 Picks

As a Cowboys fan, I am moderating my excitement over their chances of making the playoffs and maybe even hosting a game or two. The offense looks solid with so many ways to attack defenses. I have been impressed with Romo this season so far, but once in a while, he forces a pass. That will end badly versus the good defenses. The defense is a bit weak in pass coverage, but with Newman coming back, it should improve a lot.

RAVENS -7.5 over Cardinals

Cardinals on the road, bad. Cardinals at home, take the points. They play extremely different when they are on the road. The Cardinals offense has a tough assignment trying to score on the Ravens. I can't believe I am typing this, but the Ravens are better off with Boller than with McNair at QB. McNair is done. This should be a big day for McGahee, so if he's on your fantasy team expect plenty of points.

PATRIOTS -16.5 over Bills

I can't believe the line is this big for a Pats game. I'm going with the home squad and laying the 3 score spread because I doubt the Bills ability to score. This spread is mindboggling.

Lions +6 over IGGLES

The window has officially closed on the Iggles. Good news for them is that it will probably take McNabb a few more weeks to get back to his normal self with his legs. Until then, the offense is 'enh'. It's not his rushing that does it, it's his ability to evade pass rushers and buy more time. Without the mobility in the pocket, the awful receivers will not be open. Then again, he is playing the Lions defense this week. When he retires, the Iggles should give him a plaque that reads "best QB with the shittiest WRs ever". That's been his career except for the first year with TO.

Colts -5.5 over TEXANS

The Texans without Andre Johnson are a completely different team. He truly makes the offense go, and he is such a physical specimen. He's out this week, crippling my fantasy football team. I am renaming it "Team Injured". Johnson is a special player, and it is nice to see him with a decent QB. He's not just catching dump passes and WR screens. He's running real routes and being hit in stride. Peyton should be good for 300 yards and 2 TDs in this one.

JETS -3 over Miami

After watching last week's finale to the Jets-Ravens, I am now a big believer in the Jets this season. I had previously thought they would fall to earth with an 8-8 or 7-9 season after last year. The new QB has me believing they can now scratch 10 wins out of this season. That 10 win season starts this week. The Dolphins have a weak armed, old QB. This is getting them nowhere and makes the passing over of Brady Quinn look even dumber.

CHIEFS -2.5 over Vikings

Tavaris Jackson is awful. The Chiefs are bad as well, but not nearly as bad as the Vikings. This -will be low scoring, maybe 17-13. Chiefs take it on another Jackson 4 INT game.

San Diego Chargers -4.5 over PACKERS

The Chargers have to be a bit antsy with Rivers performances in the big games he has played. He has been less than stellar, and one could argue he pissed that Pats game away with his 2 INTs early in the game. Unless your Manning, you cannot get down by 24 points tot he Pats in a half. Would Brees be playing better with the Chargers than Rivers? Yup. Did they make the right choice? We'll find out in 3 years. If they have not won a title in 3 years and LDT retires with his prime wasted, well you can blame AJ Smith and Marty Schottenheimer.

STEELERS -9 over 49ers

This will be a blowout. The Steelers have a lot of things working right: Ben looks back to normal self, Tomlin has the D playing better, Willie Parker andNajeh Davenport are a nice 1-2 out of the backfield. It's all coming together. They need to play well in these first 5 games to put some distance between them and the Bengals-Ravens. I'm fading on the Bengals because of their D, and the Ravens with McNair look weak offensively. The Steelers just might prove my preseason picks wrong and win the division.

TAMPA BAY -4 over Rams

If Garcia finds a way to win, we might have to rethink the NFC South. I doubt Garcia's ability to hold it together for 16 games. There is a reason the 49ers dumped him, and the Iggles didn't keep him around in case McNabb pulled a Culpepper with his knee. My Rams prediction of an NFC West title looks really bad right now.

SEAHAWKS -2.5 over Bengals

It's the Bengals awful defense. Wasn't Marvin Lewis a defensive genius? Yeah yeah. Looks like it was the talent on the Ravens in '01 that made him look good. Palmer and the Bengals can still put up 20 on anybody, but I doubt their ability to hold the other team to only 20.

RAIDERS -3 over Browns

I'm taking the home team in this contest of awful NFL teams. I pity anyone who is forced by CBS to watch this game.

DENVER -3 over Jaguars

I'm not sold on the Jags, and I have a hard time believing they will march into Denver and pull out a W. Both of these QBs need to step it up as they are hurting their teams chances of the postseason.

Panthers -4 over FALCONS

I am only wagering with the Panthers because it is Joey Harrington on the other side. If the Falcons cannot win this game, I will not be siding with them for any other games this year. They might as well lose out so they can draft Brohm and reunite him with Petrino.

REDSKINS -3.5 over Giants

The Giants are floundering defensively. The Skins have a solid running game, a good defense and efficient play from Jason Campbell. I doubt his ability over the 16 game season, and when he plays good defenses, he will be exposed. This could be the factor that keeps them out of the playoffs. Remember that Campbell scored a 6 on the Wonderlic his first try.

Cowboys +3 over BEARS

This is the game that forces Lovie Smith to use Brian Griese in the 2nd half. Safety blitzes will be the downfall of Rex in this game. The Bears have to consider the Griese option because they face all divisional foes the next 3 weeks. Rexa can put up good numbers on sh*tty competition like the NFC north, but that would just enable him to blow the big games that the Bears need to pull out. If the Cowboys do win this game, they have a big jump on the Iggles. I am not sold on the Skins and consider the Iggles the Boys challengers for the NFC East crown. If they can start out 3 games up on the Iggles, it will be too much to overcome.

SAINTS -3.5 over Titans

How did the Saints not get a home game until week 3? The Saints' defense is awful, but they do not have much to worry about besides containing Vince Young from the Titans.

OVERALL: 17-11-3 (I may be counting wrong but too lazy to check, derp)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pink Floyd Lyrics Stuck in my Head

For the last week, I've been rocking out to some awesome music. Whether it is great CDs in my car, good tunes on the mp3 playlist at my computer, listening to Kenna's tunes on his myspace page, or catching a Jim Croce rock block on the radio, music has blessed me recently. I have always had a great mental connection with music from classical to bad '80s New Wave tunes. Heck, in high school I was in the Southern Maine All Star chorus, a tenor, and one of the leads in my high school musical (Grease). When I get down to it, I think my wife only married me because I can dance really well. Something about my hips. I would rather go blind than deaf because of music. Well that and two other reasons: 1. never hearing "I love you" again and 2. wouldn't you rather be blind during sex than deaf? I think my grandfather told me that once.

Stay on target. Over the last few days, I have had the Pink Floyd song "Young Lust" stuck in my head. I have no clue what the lyrics are besides the line "need a dirty WO-man". I end up walking around the office going "oooooooo, I need a dirty WO-man" under my breath. Now I know how the song goes, so then I make up lines to mumble so I can then get to the one line I know. Sometimes it is "somehow-thinkin'- 'bout-a-sawdo-sayo". I really have no clue what the heck he sings. Reading the lyrics, I like my made up lines better. Because of my fear of the HR dept, I am going to stop mumbling this song through the aisles at work.

Having "Young Lust" stuck in my head, I have pondered Pink Floyd's place in rock and whether there will ever be another band like Pink Floyd. Their place is all on their own, as they really do not fit any category (a problem Kenna has right now). Luckily for PF, their time came before the music industry destroyed itself and compartamentalized the industry. You are black therefore you must be hip hop; you are young and white therefore you are 'alternative'; you are over 40 therefore we do not want to market you. I doubt any band has ever created music with as powerful a philosophical, political, and satirical edge as PF and gained commercial success and a such a huge following. U2 has put together pieces of this, but I have always considered them a bit too aware of being cool. I think it comes down to Bono being more and more douchey as he ages. U2 is a brilliant band, but not on PF's level of political, cultural commentary.

Pink Floyd's album "Animals" is a musical representation of George Orwell's classic "Animal Farm". The world being divided into Pigs, Dogs and Sheep. Somehow they made this work well enough to tour. No one could do this now and sell out theaters/arenas. The beauty of the "Animals" album is that it forced them to tour and mental breakdowns to occur, which created "The Wall". "The Wall" being about a rock star's descent into madness and the machinery of being in rock 'n' roll. Ever seent he film? Brilliant animation, and I recommend seeing it stoned. Might make it easier to take. The masks for the students always freaks me out.

How does Pink Floyd appeal to classic rock listeners, stoners, non-stoners, music lovers and more mainstream music listeners? I think it is the intricate instrumentation combined with good lyrics. Listen to the song "Time", and it feels more than just a song. It is a call to yout, the listener, to think and live. Somehow my wife listened to a ton of Pink Floyd, lives as an artist, did the "Dark Side of Oz" trick, and has never smoked marijuana. Bless her soul.

Here's the last bit about Floyd that separates them from a lot if not all bands..... How many bands do you listen to alone that their music scares you? Ok, so you're stoned and it scares you. Driving home at 2am through the Maine woods, I have had Floyd on and had to turn it down because it was spooking me out. I don't get scared by much, so that says something. Could another band come around that is as anti-commercial yet commercially successful, as brilliant in their satire and wit, as scary with their arrangements, and as beautifull blended as their instrumentation and lyrics? No. Not in this day and age. They would play with "Honda" sponsoring the North American Tour, sell songs for an SUV advert, and make absolutely no controversial statements. Any political comments would be the extremely safe Hollywood "Republicans are evil" (which is mostly true) or "I don't like guns" stock phrases. Thank you Pink Floyd for being so wonderfully different. Peace.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

MLB Playoff Predictions

The time of year that my wife hates (NCAA Football, NFL kickoff, MLB Postseason) is upon us. I am pretty happy. I'm going to gaze into the future and do some lame brained predictions on the MLB Playoffs. Thank God it is an election off year so I don't do my lame November predictions for politics. With the way the '08 prez campaign seemed to start in late '06, I feel like I could do '08 predictions now.

Let's start with the American League. Oddly enough, the AL division leaders as of this moment all have the same record of 90-62. Spooky considering how hot the Sox were midseason. The Yanks adn Sox will be hoping to draw the Indians instead of the Angels. The Angels are the much more balanced team. Cleveland's strength this season has been their starting pitching with CC, an unknown, and Paul Friggin' Byrd carrying the load. The Sox have been struggling with spotty results from their previously strong pitching. Dice-K looks tired when he throws and has now been around the league. Teams know him now, and he has to adjust. Schilling is "enh". He's "enh" until proven otherwise. The Yankees have been up and down all year, but they have been a bit more consistent recently. The team's amazing .962 OPS for August is what has been behind this surge.

Here's how it shakes down.......

Sox (AL East Champs) draw LA Angels (AL West Champs)
Angels win this in 5. Escobar, Lackey, Weaver right now, are stronger than the Schilling, Beckett, Dice-K. I never thought I'd type that. If I were the Sox I'd use Wakefield as my 4, and stack the young arms for long relief. Wakefield's knuckleball becomes tougher to hit and dances more in the cold weather. Wakefield has said his knuckleball is easier to throw and get movement when the ball is colder and the leather tightens around the core. Remember the great ALCS he had in '03? I also can't believe I am typing this but the Sox lineup is spotty right now. They sorely miss Manny, Ortiz is banged up and soldiering on, Youkilis is hurt, Lowell's roids might run out any moment, and everybody else seems to step up to the plate looking to walk so Ortiz can drive them in (except awesome Pedroia). Think about the Beckett trade right now. Besides the millions in savings (no Beckett/Lowell/Lugo), they'd have Hanley Fuckin' Ramirez at the top of the lineup and $23 mil to spare. Actually, they'd have the middle infield that their AA affiliate the Portland Sea Dogs had for a couple years; Ramirez-Pedroia.

Cleveland (AL Central Champs) draw Yanks (Wild Card)
Yanks in 4. The Yanks bats are set up for short series. The Yanks have found their set up man for Rivera (for this season). I think Cleveland wiggles ahead of LA because they have an easier last week. Hafner has been killing the Tribe's offense with his drastically lower production. They would need 2 lights out performances from Carmona and Sabathia to have a shot. I think the Yanks rotation of Wang, Andy, Clemens, Hughes is a solid rotation. Mussina in for long relief when Clemens punks out during his start, and then Chamberlain and Rivera to finish up games.

ALCS Angels host Yanks
Angels in 6. I'm going with the LA Angels of Anaheim taking the AL. They have weathered injuries, built a decent batting order, and have a solid starting rotation. K-rod is back there for closing out games, and they seem to be the most balanced team in the AL. I trust their starting rotation to hold it together of a 7 game series more than the Yanks.

Over in the NL, it has become a who's who of choking. Even worse than what the Sox are doing right now. I might not even have the right teams in the playoffs with these predictions.

Mets (NL East Champs) draw San Diego (NL Wild Card)
Mets in 5. This one is scary. Both teams might miss the playoffs. Both teams might win their division and not meet. I bet I'll be back in 2 weeks revising thee match-ups. The Whale's Vagina (San Diego for you squares) has a nice 1-2 in the rotation, but I like the Mets bats more in this short series. Nice thing to note for the Mets is that they can run on you as well with great success. Wright-Reyes-Beltran will run when needed. The Mets also have a decent rotation going now that Pedro and Glavine are in 'decent' form. Top to bottom, unless the Padres pull a Cubs in '03 move on the Mets with their pitchers streaking like mofos, there is no way the Mets won't put up 7 a game and force the Padres to catch up with them. Now that I think back on it, the Cubs had Prior-Wood-Zambrano pitching so well, and they managed to fuck things up. I feel so bad for the Cubbie faithful.

Arizona (NL West Champs) draw Cubs (AL Central Champs)
Cubs in 4. Cubs make it into the playoffs due to their easier road in the last week. Brewers have to go to San Diego for 4 games. Ouch. I like the Cubs rotation and hitting much more than the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks have a shot if they use a 3 man rotation and pitch Webb twice. Then it just comes down to winning one of the other games he does not start. Still, the Diamondbacks bats are awful.

NLCS Mets host Cubs
Mets in 6. The LCS would be a networks dream if they played out like I feel they will. Watch I will be wrong on all 4 teams and neither NL team will even make the playoffs. Chicago-LA-NY all represented in the LCS. The ad revenue would be amazing. Mets take this one because I believe their line up is superior to the Cubs. The weakest link for the Mets is their bullpen. If the Cubs can hold tight in games and force Billy Wagner into tight situations, they could see their ticket to the World Series. This is how Cleveland beat Baltimore back in '97. They waited out two Mussina gems to get to Armando Benitez. Smart move.

World Series
Angels host Mets
Angels in 6. This is an indictment on the weaker NL. I also feel that the AL teams, with the exception of the Indians, all have superior talent to the NL squads. The Mets are loaded with talent, as their batting order is solid top to bottom. The top half of their batting order would be good for any team in any era. I just feel that the rotation is going to let them down when they have to face the heavy bats of the AL. There is a reason pitchrs seem to get better and have lower ERAs when they switch from the AL to the NL. It's a weaker league for hitters and the pitcher gives you an easy out. Add to that a SS who would be the 9 hitter in the AL, and you have two easy outs.

Watch the World Series will be Indians-Phillies.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The FED 50 basis Point Cut

Oh man, this one crushed me today. Not expecting the 50 point cut. Not expecting it. Saw it as a small possibility. Crushed me when I read about it after a meeting. Can this help our economy avoid an inflation? I don't think so, unless exporters can crank up the production. Will this cut hurt the dollar? Keep checking here. Get ready for more inflation!

My Fed Funds rate prediciton of 5.75% by end of 2007 looks bad now. Damn you bankers. Just for fun, damn you Chinese Oligarchical Leadership that is trying to destroy the world!

Then I recalled that nothing is permanent, all is forever changing, and there is a large connection of emptiness. I sat in my cubicle, took a deep breath and just concentrated on a swirl of blue fabric going around my body. I felt my heart beat with my whole being. Not just listen for it or touch my friggin' chest with my hand, but actually felt the heart pump out blood. This calmed me.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Wind Farms, Idiots, and our Education System Part 2

This whole stupid Miss SC incident made my wife and I discuss the education system in general and what we saw as a lot of fluff in the modern set up. Mind you, my wife is a teacher of the arts. She deals with kids all of the time, and she knows they are not challenged. I know kids in the system from K to PhD programs and have teacher friends. The system is broke but we don't know how to fix it or even want to try. First rule: no year round schooling. Second rule: take out courses that should be taught at home: sex ed, conflict resolution, tolerance, whatever. Teaching one group's set of values over another is like teaching religion in school. Les goup work and more individual work. We all know that this only encourages kids to learn quite early to team up with someone smarter and let them do the work. We carved things down to this scrunched system that is a bit more like the Euro-Russian model of schooling. We harken back to the days of yore of the 3 Rs, and god forbid, not everyone gets a star.

School starts at age 7. Yep, age 7. We would standardize the entry age to be "must be age 7 by December 31st of X year". This would prevent situations where kids from NY and kids from Maine are in the same grade but 1 year apart yet they have a birthday on the same calendar date. The education goes from entry age 7 to graduation age of 17. Yes, 10 years of schooling, not the normal 13. Here's where we gain our efficiency:

K-2 is condensed to two school years. Let's face it most of K-2 is socialization, learning basics of reading/writing and addition/subtraction, and finding out who are the really smart/stupid kids. Start doing linguistics tests on the kids to see who is more conducive to learning languages. Linguistics testing is so awesome now they can spot these abilities at an early age.

Grades 3-5 are condensed to 2 years as well. Most of the math kids learn in 4th grade is the same as what they learn in 3rd grade these days, it's just repeated. WTF? Science is still general studies, and now is getting wishy washy with some lame Global Warming preaching inserted. Forget topical stuff, let's stick to the basics of Biology, Chemistry, Geology (no Physics yet). A general language course that introduces other languages should be taught.

Grades 6-8 are full 3 years. Why 3 full years here? Science (rotate: Physics, Biology, Chemistry during a year), Math, Reading/Writing = "English", Foreign Language (each school has 3 languages to choose from), History, Art (rotate: dance/music/paint-draw), Phys Ed. Seven 50 minute periods each day. If a student wishes to specialize in one art form, allowances can be made. Here's the major difference I have with this period of schooling. A lot of schools get out early for sports. Now, I love sports. I played them a lot when in school. Schools should never be going short so sports can be played. This is a growing trend in some states, and it is horribly wrong. I would push the school day out an extra hour to get a full day of 50 minute periods for each subject. This might sound dumb, but with a school year of 180 days, that extra hour each day equates to an extra 4.5 weeks of schooling a year. This means Algebra for all 8th graders, at a slower pace obviously for Math challenged kids. Huge gains.

Grades 9-12 are only 3 years. Forget 4 years of high school. Most of that fourth year is for smart kids to position for college or get college credit w/AP courses, mid-level students to prep for college and take some fun electives, and for dumber students to retake courses so they can graduate. Basic requirements will be for all. No exceptions. Well rounded, but you can focus in what you feel is valuable to you. English would be focused more on the actual content of the class: World Lit, British Lit, US Lit, etc. You must take core 3 English, 3 Math, 2 Science, 2 History, 2 foreign language, 1 Art, 1 Phys Ed (outside sports count towards this), 1 economics. At 8 courses a year, a student could finish in 2 years. Not so fast. The 3rd year is super focus in 1 English, 1 Math and then 2 subjects that they will use to feel out as a major for college (British influence). Students who have already loaded up on History could then flesh out with more history or a possible macroeconomics course. If not contemplating college, well, for whatever they think they could use for the future. I would integrate 3rd years not thinking about college with the local tech colleges, nursing schools, and community colleges in the area. Like the junior high level, add an extra hour to each school day.

It sounds quite odd and quite expensive. Think back to my beginning statement: 10 years instead of the classic 13. The money not spent on 3 years worth of teachers is redirected to spend on the different types of resources needed at each level. Think of the foreign language majors who could proudly tell their parents they have a job and did not waste their folks' money for college. This is 10 years worth of all levels fo government funding redirected into fields that could use more focus like foreign languages or more effective teaching of sciences and math. My thought is that you'd see an increase in spending on foreign language education, and need to spend more money to lure better math and science teachers. Would this ever pass teachers' unions? No f-ing way unless you could show them that the total teacher head count remained the same. Still it is a dream.

Now with the 17 year olds out on the open market where would they go... Ah yes, part 2 of my program, the '2 years to serve the country' idea. This has been put forth by much brighter people than me as well as myself at different functions. If a student wants to go to college, nursing, tech, maritime school, they apply. If accepted, they can go right off the bat or defer for 2 years. When a student graduates at age 17, they would then have the choice of entering any field of service for their country for 2 years: Americorps (if it still exists), Peace Corps, the Military (must be 18 to actively serve after basic training), border patrol, Airport Security. Pay them very low, like we shamefully pay our current military personnel. The group would also receive grant money for college education if they choose to go to school. After 2 years, they could continue to serve or go to college. What happens if they chose to go to colege first? Well then they have to serve 4 years for their country. This service would then wipe off loans just as the service first would have provided grants. Grants or student debt forgiveness is tied to how well they do at their volunteer duties.

What I envision is a nation where students are challenged before they get to college. What I envision is a nation of kids learning that the civic duty can be as rewarding, if not more than monetary gain. What I envision is a group of college students who go to college with a much better idea of what they want to study and why they want to go to college. What I envision is a nation of students and families taking control of their education and doing what they want to do and learn what they want to learn. What I envision are students who find something to do after college that would be a calling. What if we could find a great future border patrol thinker-czar through this system? What if we could find airport security people scared for their job ratings and doing their job instead of treating you like shit and being condescending assholes? What if we sent young representatives out to other nations to help them so they had a positive mental reminder of the USA instead of a negative (and sometimes false) reminder? I think this would make a stronger and healthier USA.

Wind Farms, Idiots and the Education System

First, once again you cannot please every hippie or dipstick when it comes to wind energy. Of special note is that the best areas for capturing wind in Maine are along the coast (note that pink purple and red are the best regions and there are HUGE swaths of them along the coast). This is a brilliant idea in the wrong part of Maine. This is one of those plots to get business or something in Northern Maine that will probably end up in disaster. Setting these 5-10 miles off the coast of the less inhabited parts of Maine would be wonderful for power generation and have more constant, powerful winds. I've been calling for this since college. In my hometown, there is a guy with a small windmill above his house on the beach that he gets most of his power from. The windmill is on a swivel so that he can get the coastal and inland breeze. It sounds like an air conditioner running. Once again, the paper erroneously reports that wind farms would reduce oil consumption. Maybe for home heating if people switch to electric heat, but to power their cars. Who has an electric car right now? Back to the hippies, it spoils the view but reduces coal and possible oil consumption. Which do you want more, a view or less consumption of fossil fuels and CO2 burning? Am I taking crazy pills? Idiots.

On to another idiot. After the reaction to the Miss South Carolina response to the geography question during the Miss Teen USA pageant, I thought long and hard about her level of stupidity. What about the moment of being on national television, showing off your goods, answering a tough opinion question that requires some generic answers? What about the sequins on her dress? What about the difficulty of the question: Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is? Her answer rambled acorss the globe to the point where she should have had points taken away from her total score.

No, there is no cover for the level of stupidity of her answer. This is an easy answer. I'm giving her a 1 out of 10 for stupidity, with a note that the mentally retarded are not on this scale because I will not make fun of those that cannot defend themselves. A quick answer to turn the tables would be "With all the recent discussions about distorting facts and the reliability of surveys and polls, I challenge those results as I do not know of a single individual who does not know where the USA is on a map". Honestly, this would have been the best response because I find it pretty fucking hard to believe that 1/5 of the people out there do not know where the US is. Wasn't it just a few years ago that only 20% of the kids in school knew where Iraq was on a map? Did we somehow get incredibly stupid in 5 short years? No. Another response could have been "Who was surveyed as the people surveyed can highly influence survey results like Alzheimer patients, toddlers, immigrants, retarded people"? This shows that you know the question is BS and are calling them on it. I seriously think it is a BS stat from a BS survey.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Missing the Point with Alternative Energy

Many folks talks of alternative energy as a way to cure our CO2 problem. As the cost of oil continues to rise, many folks talk of alternative energy. Both of these statements make sense. Conservation efforts to reduce our use of oil are great ideas, and will have a bigger impact than alternative energy. You will see why later. If you are an investor, financial folks talk of alternative energy plays as oil rises in price. I think they are missing the point. Big Time.

Here's a great graph on what a barrel of oil is used for in our modern world. Notice a gigantic chunk of that use is for gasoline (51.4%). Another 12.6% is used for jet fuel. Transportation methods use almost 2/3 of oil end products. Few areas use oil to heat their homes and the US does not use much to generate electricity. Alternative energy is good as oil rises if it is in direct competition with oil. Therefore, a financial investment that would be a good 'play' as oil rises would be an investment in something that competes with the 50% end product oil provides: gasoline.

Good alternative energy plays in the spirit of oil rising are railroads, car companies with hybrid/electric products, and nuclear power providers/builders. Railroads are good because the rising cost of gas will make transportation by 18 wheeler much more expensive. A dirty secret right now is that railroad freight transportation is cheaper than trucking. This will only make railroad freight a more attractive option. Car companies with electric/hybrid products will give consumers an automatic savings. People talk about the cost of these cars, but if gasoline keeps rising & average total fuel costs of car ownership reach $3000/year, reliable electric/hybrid cars will look more attractive. If people do turn to electric power for transportation, a non-CO2 method of generation that provides massive power is our friend nuclear fission.
Oil going up does not make coal any more expensive, therefore helping solar and wind power out. Oil going up affects alternatives for the end product users. Fears of global warming and CO2 levels rising will be what makes the public shy away from coal therefore making solar and wind much more enticing. Right now, if you are looking for plays against rising oil, think about the end products, not pie in the sky alternatives.

NFL Week 2 picks & Greg Oden Talk

I am very sad that Greg Oden has to have microfracture knee surgery. We as fans of the NBA can only hope that he will be ready to go come fall 2008. He is still only a 19 year old kid, so his recovery will hopefully be swift. If he can get to game shape for the 2008 season, the Blazers are going to be sitting pretty with Roy in his 3rd year, another top 5 pick and now Oden in the middle. Oden is a good personality and has a touch of innocence about him, and the NBA needs that desperately.

Last week, I went 9-5-2 with my picks. The fans should start calling into question Jack Del Rio's sanity. The man has a great 1-2 punch of Mojo and Fred Taylor. He ran them 13 times last week. My expectations for the Rams are now lowered since Orlando Pace is injured. Geez Orlando, you think not going to minicamp has anything to do with your injuries? This will mess with their offense, and we know the Rams are built aroudn the timing passing attack and a steady diet of Steven Jackson. If the Iggles offense is a no show this week, do we have to strenuously chastise Andy Reid for never picking up a solid, dependable option for McNabb? Lots of questions to be answered, and the most important is "Will the Chargers beat the Patriots in New England?"

NEW ENGLAND -3 over Chargers

No. They will not. If this were in San Diego, I would say yes they could. I think the Chargers match up better offensively against the Patriots than they did the Bears, so I do not doubt their ability to put up points. My concern would be with Randy Moss. Hold on, the Chargers played Moss the last few years and handled him well, so maybe that is an overblown worry. I hate the Pats and would wish for nothing more than a Chargers victory, but going against the Pats at home is a tough thing to do. Here's one question to Norv Turner: When the Bears were shutting LT down, why didn't you bring Turner in as the RB for a 2 RB set or use LT as a slot receiver? It would have worked well. My only comment on the Belicheck videotaping situation is: He went a step too far in getting a competitive advantage and should be punished. This does not taint the past accomplishments, but it further illustrates what an asshole he is.

STEELERS -11 over Bills
I like the new head coach for the Steelers. Seems really cool. I also like how the Bills played the Broncos extremely tough. Their defense played pretty hard, which I think will keep the game a low scoring affair. The problem for the Bills is scoring. They just can't put points on the board. The Losman experiment is probably in its last season.

Bengals -7 over BROWNS

Bengals will put up 30+ points in this game. This will be another horrible season for the Browns. They will fire Romeo Crennel. His replacement will then inject some new blood into the team and they will have a decent '08 followed by a playoff appearance in '09 or '10. Crennel will have laid the groundwork for this rise, but sadly, not be there to propser from it.

Falcons +11 over JAGUARS

Line seems a bit high with Garrard at QB for the Jags. Last week, I picked the Falcons and completely forgot that they rely on the run and were playing against the best run defense in the NFL last year. Bad idea. It will also become obvious as the year progresses that the Falcons RBs were effective in recent years because Mike Vick opening up the middle for them.

Packers +2.5 over GIANTS

No team with Jared Lorenzen as the QB should be favored unless it is in a pie eating contest. The Giants are maybe a few weeks away from shutting Eli & Jacobs down for the season and just going for the high draft pick. Wouldn't a 0-4 start do that? The Giants GM is about as bad as you can get. He did nothing to improve the defense, he let Strahan play with them all preseason and training camp, he did not address the secondary problems in the draft, and he's stuck with a horrible first half schedule. If they start out 2-6, this team will give up not realizing how easy their second half of the schedule is. They will give up.

Texans +7 over PANTHERS

I am a believer in this Texans team. They could shock some teams, and expect Schaub to do well before he has finished 6 starts. Once he has 6 games under his belt, teams will make adjustments for him. He is in the sweet spot right now. I love their coach, Kubiak, and I wish him the best of success. The Panthers need to use Deangelo Williams more. The kid has skills and could really lighten the load off of Steve Smith's shoulders (so would using Jarrett).

TITANS +7 over Colts

I'm going with the Titans because these games played two tight matches last year, and the Titans do not seem to fear the Colts. The Titans will probably rack up 200 rushing yards against the Colts and limit the Colts' posessions. Despite this, I still think the Colts will put up 7 an awful lot more than they put up 3. The Colts also have nothing to worry about with pass defense, so they can stack the line with 8 guys. I'd even go with stacking 9 since Vince Young threw for 78 yards last week. Let's face it: he sucks as a passer.

Saints -3 over BUCS

Sean Payton's men have had 10 days of rest for this game. Payton will have all his Jeff Garcia research down, and I do not see Garcia having a big game against the Saints defense. Deuce and Reggie will probably run a bit more this week than they did last week.

49ers +3 over RAMS

I am standing behind my statement above where I call into question the Rams ability to win now that Pace is injured. This really opens the door for those lame ass Seahawks. If the 49ers are going to contend for the playoffs, they need to see better decision making from Alex "Genius" Smith.

Cowboys -3.5 over DOLPHINS

This line is only 3.5 points? Holy shit! The Dolphins are in store for a bottom feeder season, and they can have their pick of QBs in next year's draft. Good luck. The Cowboys offense looked great last week. Their D, not so much. Losing Ferguson hurts their run defense, but the pass defense looked bad last week since they were missing their no. 1 corner (Newman). If they can rest Newman an extra week or 2, they could have him at 100% for the week they play the Pats. That's when they really need him. Of note, the Dolphins are 8-22 against the spread at home in their last 30 home games.

LIONS -3 over Vikings

Vikings strength is its run defense. Lions strength is passing the ball. Vikings offense cannot score points. It's as simple as that.

BEARS -12 over Chiefs

Can the Chiefs win 4 games this year? I only put them 3rd in their division because the Raiders are so awful. The Bears defense will suffocate them. I don't see the Chiefs scoring much of anything this week, just like last week. The Chiefs defense looked weak versus the Texans, and this could be a Sexy Rexy 100+ QB rating game, which will just anger Bears fans as they get on the Rexcoaster for this season.

Seahawks -2.5 over CARDINALS
I dislike the Seahawks. I truly do. They sit in the laughingstock division of the NFC, which is saying a lot. The nearest competition lost their Pro Bowl OT. The two other teams in their division have QBs that are still young and learning the NFL game. Age will catch up with them someday, and it might just have to wait for next year.

RAVENS -10 over Jets
This is an anger game for the Ravens. I do not care if Boller's the QB, he has to be better than Steve McNair who was overthrowing all of his WRs. He was throwing high on almost every single throw. The Ravens could have won last week if Billick had just run the ball at the goalline. The Ravens traded 2 picks for McGahee, they get to the 1 yard line and they don't give him the ball. What? My concern with the Ravens is the Ogden injury. How fast cna he come back? Can they design roll outs for Boller to take advantage of his athleticism. He's not a statue like McNair. He has wheels.

BRONCOS -10 over Raiders
I have no faith in this Raiders team if they are going to give up 35+ points to the Lions at home. No faith.

Redskins +7.5 over Iggles
Here's my rationale: Skins defense is solid. Skins rushing attack is solid. Iggles rushing attack is bad. Iggles receivers are, once again, bad. This all rests on McNabb. McNabb is not the spring chicken he used to be, and now is a year removed from knee surgery. The Redskins have the speed on defense to contain him. They also have hard hitting safeties who are going to scare the daylights out of Avant and Reggie Brown. Reggie Brown can't be a receiver in the NFC East if he is going to flinch everytime a defender is nearby. The great thing about this game is that all Skins fans will get excited by their 2-0 start. Calm down, you still suck.

Friday, September 07, 2007

NFL Week 1 Picks

NFL Kickoff night was really nice to be a part of as a spectator. It was really amazing to feel the vibe in the city. Usually at night, downtown Indy is a little on the quiet side. Bars do have patrons, the symphony might be playing, and with good weather, people might be walking the canal or downtown memorial areas. During a weeknight, this is not going to happen. Not on the level the NFL Kickoff brought the city to on Thursday.

Picks are coming, and honestly I have not thought too much about week 1, as I have been looking inward and outward about my concepts of God, philosophy, ethics, etc. I find similarities between the religion I was raised to believe (Catholicism) and Eastern religions I have learned about in recent years (since college). I also find huge differences. It's a innerspace quest. I have devoted time to it, and feel on the verge of making a rather large step in a new direction. I will always enjoy sports, especially the NFL, and no matter what I may be on the verge of understanding, I will always take time to watch my Cowboys.

Broncos -3 over BILLS
The Bills defense is a shabby reflection of what it has been in recent years. They just have lost too many guys. Facing the Broncos rushing attack, you need to have a front 7 that can fight the zone blocking scheme and hit RBs at the line. Buffalo lacks that. I always feel for the people of Buffalo, whether it is the evaporation of employers int he area or the heartbreak they experience in their sports fandom experience. Another year of heartache is ahead of them.

TEXANS -3 over Chiefs
I am low on the Chiefs this year. Too many quality players have left their offense in the last few years. The Texans are on the upswing offensively, not to mention a D-line that is getting bigger and better. Matt Schaub is a QB I believe in despit what my college roommate always says about him "drunk loser douche". Ian went to high school with Schaub. Not the best of buddies.

Steelers -4.5 over BROWNS
Steelers offense, meet crappy Browns defense. Steelers D, meet Charlie Frye. The Browns will be starting Brady Quinn by week 6.

Dolphins +3 over REDSKINS
In AFC-NFC matchups, I am going with AFC teams for the third straight year. There's too much of a talent imbalance between the conferences to do otherwise. The Dolphins should have drafted Brady Quinn with the 9 pick last year, but passed him. It will be a huge what if for South Florida fans over the next decade. I like the Dolphins, they just have no trustworthy QB for the umpteenth straight year since Marino retired.

Eagles -3 over PACKERS
The Packers defense is a huge question mark. They are still very very young, and their development will determine how they do this year. They could not stop passing attacks that were based on the short game, and McNabb does that well. This is not a good match-up for them.

Titans +6.5 over JAGUARS
I am only choosing this because the Jags are starting David Garrard. This has 17-13 written all over it. A way the Jags could break it open is if they rush Fred Taylor and Mojo Drew 20 times each. This is what the Jags offense will consist of this year if they do not use Byron Leftwich.

Falcons +3 over VIKINGS
The Vikings had a chance to grab David Carr, Byron Leftwich, Jeff Garcia, Chris Simms and maybe sacrificing 1st round picks and a 2nd, Matt Schaub. They instead chose to go with Tavaris Jackson. I watched Jackson during last year's Thursday night game vs. the Packers, and he was awful. No timing, not much accuracy, and shaky pocket presence. Minnesota is wasting their offensive line, a good RB tandem, and a decent crop of speedy receivers on this putz in thw weaker conference. The Vikes even took a flyer on Drew Henson who has conned Steinbrenner and Jerry Jones out of millions of dollars. David Carr was the safer bet.

RAMS -1 over Panthers
This is where the Rams NFC West title begins. They will take care of business at home and split road games (6-2 @ home, 4-4 on the road). That is a 10 win season, which is doable with their schedule.

CHARGERS -6 over Bears
The Bears will win their division by default, but not beat the most talented team in the NFL on the road. Not going to happen, and with the Chargers offense, it will not be close.

RAIDERS -2 over Lions
This is another AFC-NFC match up, and I am going with the AFC. Both teams are awful, but I will go with the better defense. The Lions should score points this year. It's stopping the other team that is there problem.

SEAHAWKS -6 over Buccaneers
Seattle at home is as close to a sure thing with gambling on the NFL. They have a tremendous home field advantage, and more teams should take lessons from their stadium design. Artifically pumping in noise through the PA system during the snap count helps, too.

COWBOYS -5.5 over Giants
The long season for the Giants starts this sunday with a big loss. Their defense is awful. They match up horribly versus the Cowboys offensive attack. The Cowboys offense has not been this stacked since Novacheck's last season with the Boys. The Boys have two reliable backs, TO-Glenn-Crayton to throw to, Witten over the middle, and the 2nd TE Fasano is a decent receiver.

Pats -6 over JETS
The Patriots are too improved on the offensive side of the ball to let a team like the Jets stay close with them. The Jets relied on trickery for their offense last year, and even with Thomas Jones, they still have a chick winged QB behind center.

BENGALS -2.5 over Ravens
The Bengals are not afraid of the Ravens. They have a system for playing them, which does work. Willis McGahee should have a big game vs. the Bengals run defense. Like the Ravens problems since the dawn of their franchise: what do they do when the game rests on their QBs shoulders?

49ERS -3 over Cardinals
Reverse the home-away teams, and I would pick the Cards. I'm not going to go with the Cards on the road. The Cards do look to be a year or so away with the coaching changes. Russ Grimm was a good addition to the staff for Coach Whisenhunt. It's only a matter of time before the line can open holes for RBs and give Leinart enough time to do his 3 reads.

Good luck out there, peace!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Colts vs. Saints: My wife's countdown to February begins

Ah yes, the NFL and College Football seasons are now in full swing. Throw in the MLB playoffs in one month and my wife will be in TV hell. Often I remind her, these 5 months are the only months I really watch sports. Then I slip March Madness by her at the end of winter when she is not looking.

Tonight's matchup of the Colts vs. the Saints was kicked off literally blocks from my workplace. Let's just say security was "tight" to get near Monument Circle. If you were looking like a terrorist, you were being taken down. I might suggest Homeland Security outsource security checks at the airport to the NFL security detail. I saw Hinder and some of Kelly Clarkson but then hightailed to get home to watch the game. Hinder sounds decent live. Not nearly as bitchy as I thought. Kelly Clarkson has a good voice. I am glad she's gone the rocker route and not just another sort of hip-hop, poppy crap that most other American Idol female seems to do. American Idol is usually good for eye candy (both for the ladies and gents), and this past season was a big let down. The best eye candy of last season was that Italian girl with the amazing body but so-so voice who missed the final 12, and that girl with the great legs "Leggy McLeg". It was a kind of ho-hum year, no real stunners or hunks. Fox's reality department will have to do a better job of marketing what they market best: the exploitation of idiotic lookers.

COLTS -5.5 over Saints
Home game, Lombardi Trophy, indoors with the noise & heat, and on national television. This is made for Peyton and his men. I do think the Saints will end up in the Super Bowl, but tonight belongs to the Colts. The scary part about the Saints is that Sean Payton, their gifted coach, has a knack for gameplanning to stop good quarterbacks and seems to craft creative game strategies against great teams. Final Score: 33-24, take the over.

Enough about the NFL and American Idol, I did some calling today and found out that I can invest in Canada's version of CDs (GICs). GICs are CDs in Canadian currency, and yes, Everbank does offer foreign currency CDs without the need to go to a foreign country to purchase them. I prefer the direct purchase and control of the investment because of the potential for a higher interest rate and a lower minimum dollar investment hurdle. It's a matter of finding the right bank, and right interest rate. Downside, the dirty international banks withhold 10% of your interest as part of a tax issue. Lame. I consider an investment like this protection against a sliding US $. Most of the money I am saving right now (outside of my 401k) is going into a house down payment fund, which I am not using for 18-24 months. Maybe longer, you never know. If I am worried about the value of my cash depreciating, foreign currency funds are a way to hedge. I have discussed this before with investing in foreign bonds & stocks. Once I have an accoutn set up with the Canadian bank, they allow me to roll over the GICs over the phone or on the internet. This is where financial globalization & the information superhighway meet, and I like this intersection. Look there's a Starbucks on the corner.... and another on the corner directly across it. Hmmm, enjoy the evening.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Texas: Not Messing with It

Texas: a vast swath of land big enough for the personalities of its movers and shakers. Gigantic ranches, gigantic farms, big hair, big guts on the older men, big hats, and big tits on the women (and some men). I hate to sound like a sexist, but yes the boobs were bigger. The intertwined Mexican/Texan culture is a truly American blend. Actually seeing a longhorn bull for the first time I thought to myself "good thing the Spanish do not use these guys for the running of the bulls". For one evening, I spent time at a ranch. While staying in a relatively well populated area, it was a mere 15 minutes and we were in the middle of nowhere-rancher country. Would I return for a vacation to sample the food and culture more? Yes. I would love to see more of the people and feel the vibe.

Of all the corporate thing I did down in Texas for 3 days, the thing that stuck with me the most was the presentation down by a represntative of the Timothy Plans. I went to the seminar "Meeting Customers' Values" thinking it was about investing in environmentally positive, socially responsible, social justice, non-terrorist (etc. etc) funds. Nope. This was about investing in biblical principles, knowing your money is not going to alcohol, tobacco, gambling, porn, abortions, some other elements of the entertainment industry, and the 'gay agenda'. When the presenter began his discussion, it sounded like a nice broad approach to the concerns of the room: "Do you think... too much materialism, too much violence and sex, too loose morals...". I was going along for the ride. When he said "do you worry about investing in the gay agenda or people who promote it", I had to do all in my power to not laugh at him or stomp out of the room. I could not believe he used that term in this day and age and did not feel ashamed, repeating the phrase over and over again.

However a person wants to invest is up to them. I want to go over 2 exclusions here: alcohol and tobacco. I know it is not Christian or whatever to get drunk or to be a glutton of these products, but where in the bible does it say to not smoke? to not drink at all? Is not Christianity a faith built on a Last Supper where Jesus broke bread and shared wine? Is not one of Jesus' most famous miracles the turning water into wine miracle? I found these exclusions stupid. If they wanted to exclude abortion, porn, "gay agenda, and other loose moral entertainment companies, fine, that kind of flows with a Christian, biblical frame of mind. To exclude smoking and drinking on biblical grounds is weak.

My challenge to them is this: why exclude those companies but include companies that exploit workers in foreign countries? That is not Christian. Why not exclude companies that use child labor? That is not Christian. Why not exclude producers of food high in fat and sugar which creates millions of food gluttons in society? This seems rather hypocritical on their part to exclude smoking & alcohol producers but not crappy food producers. This left an inkblot in my mind. I could not move beyond this for hours.
One other reason for the trip was a company that my firm is trying to do business with is moving their HQ & manufacturing from NJ to Texas. The cost of doing business in NJ just rose too high through taxes, NJ TDB costs, employee costs, and retaining good people (incentives by Texas helped). They do good, technical manufacturing of an export-competing product. In the move from NJ to Texas, they are going to expand their employee headcount from 60 to 150 employees. It's a small drop in the employment bucket, but it's a 60 person loss for NJ of good jobs, a 150 person gain for Texas, and construction jobs in building their new facility. It would be great if other companies considered moves like this rather than just farming out manufacturing to other nations.
All in all, that visit got me thinking about an idea which will not sound too new to some people. People have recently be throwing around the thought that if people will be induced to use plug in hybrids at a reasonable cost, they might need to have smaller batteries, which would hold a smaller charge. A problem is recharging midday. Some folks have stated employers could set up charging stations in parking lots provided through solar panels to somehow make money for the employer. I do not know how many employers would be up for this, but some could turn parking lots into solar power "farms" (same for building rooftops for that matter). I do have an idea (laugh if you want):
The spark hydrant. Like a fire hydrant but for electricity. There could be multiple plug ins for multiple cars, a credit card swiper for charging customers and a solar panel array above the station. Problem is what to do with the electricity while no car is plugged in? Tie this into the grid and sell the electricity to the power companies. While it is possible with current solar effiency rates, it would be even better with effiency rates above 25. If we as a nation are to move away from fossil fuels, we need an infrastructure to handle this change. This is just a little idea I had while scorched by the sun in Texas for 3 days. My other idea was "Why the heck don't we build giant solar panel farms in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and becoe the leading producer of energy in the world". If there is a nation that is innovative to make this happen, it is the USA.
...if not, the totalitarian overlords of China will force this through production when we deem it foolish.