Monthly Archives: July 2009

This is probably old, but…

You know how in Family Guy, the brilliant writers will land on one single thing, usually “awkward stare” or “irritating noise” or just maybe “Hey, it’s a gay baby. That’s funny. A gay baby. Get it? He’s gay. But a baby. Did we mention that, if on a form he was asked for his sexual preference and then subsequently, his age, he would have to put, ‘Men’ and ‘Baby’?”

Well this is that in real life.

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Back in my day, things were (better/worse)

It turns out that things have actually been worse than you thought they were, after they were apparently slightly better than you remember at an earlier time. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (but her friends call her Bea) released revised economic figures, revealing that the recession wasn’t slightly worse than previously thought, nor was it just flat-out worse. It was more than twice as worse. The 0.8 percent drop in GDP between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the last three months of 2008 is now a 1.9 percent drop.

A jump from 0.8 percent to perhaps 1 percent would make sense. After all, certain factors may have been left out, and hindsight allows for a greater gathering and calculation of data. But a 1.9 percent contraction? Why bother sending out economic data so quickly if the figures are going to be completely wrong? The report also reveals that the 2001 recession was a bit better than previously thought, with growth between Q4 of 2000 and Q3 of 2001 clocking in at 0.1 percent, as opposed to the previously standing 0.2 percent drop.

Statistics are always easy to nurse. Let’s take baseball (c’mon, you knew the comparisson was coming) for example. Taking only batting average into account, the five best batters in history are…

1. Ty Cobb
2. Rogers Hornsby
3. Shoeless Joe Jackson
4. Ed Delahanty (who?)
5. Ted Williams.

Now let’s drain some statistics through some colanders, shall we? Taking into account the rigors of old age on bringing down a player’s batting average, let’s limit the figures to only the first 8,000 at-bats. Then, let’s adjust the numbers based upon the relative skill level of the players in comparison to their respective leagues and divisions, along with the quality of their competition (aka, comparing the figures to the yearly total averages of the league and readjusting as such). Then, let’s take into account the changing nature of the game and the role of the hitter (this is done via a study of deviations and other such statistical flotsam that goes a bit over my head). Finally, let’s adjust the rankings based on the ballparks these players batted in, because I’m pretty sure that on a good day, I could hit a ball into the outfield at Coors Field.

With all of that taken into consideration, the top five hitters of all time are…
1. Tony Gwynn
2. Rod Carew
3. Stan Musial
4. Ted Williams
5. Rogers Hornsby

(Many thanks to Paul Zweifel for the mathematical know-how on this)

Ty Cobb isn't pleased. Of course, he was scientifically proven to never be happy over the course of his life. Unless he had a Coca-Cola, which "refreshes me to such an extent that I can start the second game feeling as if I had not been exercising at all, in spite of my exertions in the first."

Ty Cobb isn't pleased. Of course, he was scientifically proven to never be happy over the course of his life. Unless he had a Coca-Cola, which "refreshes me to such an extent that I can start the second game feeling as if I had not been exercising at all, in spite of my exertions in the first."

Oh, would you look at that? Everything changed completely with a bit of statistical massaging. The long-coming point is that…nothing anyone says from a statistical standpoint matters. Polls fluctuate wildly from week to week, economic figures jump from loss to growth and careful evaluations of a man’s standing among his peers can be turned upside down and shaken about for their lunch money. If you see it, believe it. The recession isn’t over because Newsweek says it is, Obama isn’t unpopular because of a new poll that has his support fleeing, it’s because folks can’t get a job and people don’t agree with his policies. Don’t believe a guy has the flu because he’s absent from work, believe he’s ill because he’s coughing, sneezing and tells you, with a puffy face and beleaguered eyes, “I’ve got the flu, boss.”

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Filed under Business, Government, Math Fun, Morgan, Sports

Weekly Mixup

Fourth time's the charm, right?

Fourth time's the charm, right?

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Comedians dying of cancer is funny…right?

Let’s talk about Funny People. Note the capitalization, so we’re not actually talking about humorous things, of jokes and quips that we find hilarious via our own thought processes. We’re talking about the upcoming film, with a title just as brilliant as those cinema classics, “Guns ‘n Stuff,” “A Breakup, Followed by Moping, Followed by Prince Charming,” and “Buy These Toys.” Since it hasn’t hit the theaters yet, I can’t really editorialize on the content of the film itself, just on the way in which it’s being presented.

And boy oh boy is there a lot to say about its marketing.

Usually, for generic comedy X (and Judd Apatow’s style of humor is becoming generic, like it or not) the trailer with feature some quick quips, perhaps some goofy physical pratfalls, pretty much a preview of the sort of hilarity you would hope to see in the entire feature. But not Funny People. See, Funny People is above actually showing humor, instead, it tells you how hilarious it is. Are you wondering whether or not Jonah Hill’s character in the film is hilarious? Well don’t worry, he doesn’t say anything sidesplitting, but he has a hugely successful YouTube video. If you can’t trust imaginary Internet users, then who can you put your faith in?

Is Seth Rogen a truly worthy up-and-coming stand-up comedian? His clips in the trailer may not impress, but a co-worker mentions that a terrible joke of his is kind of funny, so of course we should feel the same! Is Adam Sandler the funniest comedian in the world? Well…not really, oh wait! Everyone in the trailers seems completely bowled over by his hilarity, so I guess I…wait, is he telling a phallic joke that isn’t even worthy of an unforced grin? Funny People, you almost had me there, you almost had me fooled. And to think I thought that Funny People would include, you know, funny people!

And in case you didn’t know, the movie’s actually about Sandler’s character getting a life-ending disease or something, and is inching toward his inevitable death when it suddenly goes into remission so that Apatow can showcase his wife as “the girl that got away.” This sounds hilarious, doesn’t it?

Let’s compare the first trailer…

With a newer trailer…

I know how Sandler’s illness went into remission! The marketers just sliced it out entirely!

Well, either that or either Apatow or Universal don’t have any confidence in marketing the film as what it probably actually is…one can only hope that it turns out in the same way as the equally horribly marketed “In Bruges.”

Suck it up and see this film. It's fantastic.

Suck it up and see this film. It's fantastic.

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Post referencing Sarah Palin

Nope. No more.

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There’s no such thing as mistakes

Every kid, whether it be when they ride their bike right into a shrub, fail to hit a baseball off of a tee or decide that bagel bites belong in the DVD player, is told by their parents that they need to learn from their mistakes. There’s a reason you don’t see many people in their thirties prodding electrical outlets with forks and CEOs don’t put on Superman underoos and think they can fly. It’s the simple idea that if you do something wrong, you admit to it and move on with your life, knowing one more thing you shouldn’t repeat.

It’s a bit easy to pick on Sarah Palin. She’s a maddening combination of brainless populism and tawdry politics, who inspires people for all of the wrong reasons. And she never fails to disappoint. Let’s take a look at what she said in her home town during her goodbye tour (which brings to mind Cher’s persistent departure and re-emergence).

“Let us continue to love our country, be proud of our country, never apologize for our country.”

If taken step by step, her sentence starts out fine. Love our country? Right on. Be proud of it? Can do. Never apologize? Wait a second…

What odd compulsion makes people believe that one cannot be proud of an ideal and at the same time admit that said ideal has, at times, been tarnished? It’s akin to a startling case of overcompesation, of pride built up over the paranoia of being exposed as less-then-perfect. It’s the same mentality that drives middle-aged yuppies to take secretaries into the supply closet and then drive home in unnecessary sports cars, turns parents into manic obsessives who pour their fails dreams into their kids and ultimately creates a completely false fantasy world where no one did anything wrong.

Let’s go over all of the wonderful things America has done that we should feel no guilt over, shall we?

The Trail of Tears: Serves Native Americans right for crossing over the land bridge in prehistoric times, knowing full well that they were tresspassing on America.

The Trail of Tears: Serves Native Americans right for crossing over the land bridge in prehistoric times, knowing full well that they were tresspassing on America.

Slavery: Geez, that was like a majillion years ago.

Slavery: Geez, that was like a majillion years ago. Who cares?

Japanese Internment Camps: It was a neccesity brought on by war, not by blind racism! We treated the Germans and Italians the same way...right?

Japanese Internment Camps: They were a neccesity brought on by war, not by blind racism! We treated the Germans and Italians the same way...right?

Compulsory Sterilization: You can't spell fun without Supreme Court-endorsed eugenics, now can you?

Compulsory Sterilization: You can't spell fun without Supreme Court-endorsed eugenics, now can you?

Nope, there’s nothing regrettable there. We really have been perfect for hundreds of years, haven’t we?

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Filed under Culture wars, Government, Morgan

Only naturally-born U.S. citizens can read this post

Are they gone? Did every single foreign computer user abandon their post and run off to tip over old ladies, or whatever it is non-Americans do? You’re sure it’s just us?

Phew. We can’t have them learning the particulars of our democracy, can we? That’s the sort of thing we should keep to ourselves, I’m sure those of you left over would agree that our successful governmental methods should be cloistered like precious jewels kept behind glass and then hidden in underground safes. Sure, you can’t admire the shimmer or use them to beguile femme fatales, but they’re safe from other folks laying their grubby hands on them.

So while realizing that we didn’t actually have a President, I would also like to announce my resignation from my future presidential campaign. I was planning on eventually declaring my candidacy on “The Daily Show with Carlos Mencia” (no one said the future was a nice place) once I had reached the prerequisite age limit, running on the campaign slogan, “Please don’t squash us, Eurasian Empire.”

Oh how the Eurasians love to squash...

Oh how the Eurasians love to squash...

But, as my legal advisers just informed me, I cannot, as a result of my birth. Article II of the Constitution clearly states:

“No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

Before I’m run off of my own blog, let me reassure you that I am indeed, an American citizen, and to further quell the easily riled, both of my parents are American citizens (even though the Supreme Court has already ruled, in Dred Scott v. Stanford, that the requirement for citizenship is the location of birth, but who listens to them anyways?).

But I was not naturally born. Being an impudent little bundle of joy, I required that my mother give birth to me via a C-section, not by the other, natural method. During which, it was not mechanism of Mother Nature that allowed me to be typing this, but instead, the technique and precision of a doctor and his staff. And there isn’t anything more unnatural than science, as I’m sure my fellow citizens must agree.

So it’s with a heavy heart that I shrink away from my dreams. If only it were a simple matter of being questioned on my citizenship, to which I could then produce birth certificates, the support of the state I was born in and the archival newspaper clips announcing my birth.

Wait. That’s already happening? And you guys still aren’t satisfied? You say you’re petitioning Congress to enlist Doc Brown in going back to 1961 and witness Obama’s birth yourselves? Good luck…and don’t try and make out with your grandma or something in the process

This is similar to Mitt Romney's plight for, being mostly made out of felt, he is also not naturally-born.

This is all similar to Mitt Romney's plight for, being mostly made out of felt, he is also not naturally-born.

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Spend weeks in your basement playing video games gearing up for this one. I know I will be.

For a while there I really thought there was a betterment in the standards of the movie industry. Obviously there were always exceptions, but the last couple years I’ve been an advocate for the path Hollywood was taking, producing some pretty good movies on high budgets with big name actors. I mentioned it in the bit about Spike Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are. Awesome concept. Then the pretty cool direction the sub-genre of comic epics.

But I have officially been proved wrong. Perhaps it’s a tanked economy. Perhaps it’s desperation. Who knows. The man who brought us the incredibly revered Drag Me To Hell, Sam Raimi (also responsible for the Spiderman movies, which are a little cheesy compared to the better of that genre) is about to make a World of Warcraft Movie. Here’s a little bit of his work:

Yes, this is only a taste of some of the theme’s you’ll get in the WOW movie. I particularly like the seance. And that old woman’s teeth. Maybe there will be some awesome ghouls in this or some giant, badass, green hairy piglike creatures.

I’m going to say right now, too, that I have no knowledge of whether Warcraft isĀ  good game or not. I’ve never played it.

I did play Zelda, which was awesome. I mean I spent hours coming home and fulfilling the incredible, action-packed quest of Link. But in no way shape or form would I want to see a movie made out of that.

All this comes in the wake of an announcement of a movie based on Asteroids, which is only cool cause it was before the days of video game plot. Great movie material. A NYT column takes a pretty decent stab at what that will be like.

So all of this is not necessarily to chastise the industry as a whole, because decent movies are still being put out–hence the other posts I had on this subject. But it’s almost an insult to the movie going population to be offered famous video games repackaged into a two-hour excuse to blow some stuff up.

The only thing that would redeem this is if they can pull it off with a kind of postmodern feel to it, a fresh perspective on it that takes itself lightly. But then the people who are absolutely in love with WOW will uproar. Sorry, Mr. Raimi, but you might have picked a doomed project.

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Filed under Business, Culture wars, Hollywood, Jack Dodson, Media

One nation, under whoever or whatever the majority in the board of education decides

Kids are often compared to sponges, absorbing everything they see and experience then presumably, scrubbed against the backs of the geriatric or on a crusty plate. The key element of that absorbency is how there are no barriers to exactly what is taken in. Toss a sponge onto a puddle, and its response will be akin to the result of tossing it on some soda.

Likewise, throw a kid into a household where the air sags thick with slurs and profanity, and chances are they’ll carry the same air wherever they go, until on their deathbed, the nurse is so repulsed by the tumult of foul speech that she’ll cram soap in their mouth. Just as when kids are raised and surrounded by particular ideological doctrine, they’ll carry that train of thought until they’re old enough to wonder whether or not they should get off at each passing station.

Look at how cute my kid is! He certainly is a big fan of the Republican party, and in no way am I tackily enforcing my own beliefs upon him. No sir. He even voted for Dole!

Look at how cute my kid is! He certainly is a big fan of the Republican party, and in no way am I tackily enforcing my own beliefs upon him. No sir. He even voted for Dole!

But kids aren’t treated like the sponges they’re often compared to, they’re not tossed indiscriminately into seas of knowledge, instead they’re coddled, sheltered and in many cases, methods by which to perpetuate particular systems of belief. They’re to be taught to believe what their elders believe, to reach conclusions not by their own deductions, but by the assumptions of those in power. Masters of particular ideologies feel such an incredible compulsion to in essence, brainwash the young, because if they can’t persuade the most impressionable, what does that say for their own intellectual validity? A charade caught by the most gullible of citizens isn’t likely to fool most of the masses.

That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with parents and other figures of power trying to instill their beliefs upon the younger generations. How else is a society expected to perpetuate if the youth are left while still in the nest? But there’s something a bit sickening when figures who already have their own pulpits decide to encroach upon the domain of others when educating the young, and who seek to monopolize the way in which history, the most underrated of all of education’s pillars, is told.

Case in point, the oncoming struggle of Texas’ educational curriculum, in particular, the tone of the historical lessons. It’s the classic example of the traditional academic hierarchy facing off against the religious right over the various subtleties of historical lessons.

Be warned, this goes on for a while…

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Weekly Mixup

It has Pat Buchanan's seal of approval, what else could you want in a mix?

It has Pat Buchanan's seal of approval, what else could you want in a mix?

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