Friday, September 28, 2007

Why is journalism considered a profession?

Because if if were a trade journalists would be required to at least get the basics right.

From an AP story about Bush-Clinton fatigue:

The dominance of the two families [Bush & Clinton] in U.S. presidential politics is unprecedented. (The closest comparisons are the father-son presidencies of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, whose single terms were separated by eight years, and the presidencies of fifth cousins Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, whose collective 20 years as president were separated by a quarter-century.)
What?! John Adams left office in 1801. John Quincy Adams didn't enter office until 1825. That's not eight years, that's 24 years!

Also, this writer, one NANCY BENAC, also forgot about William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison, a grandfather-grandson pair of US Presidents. I think that's a little closer in the familial relation department than fifth cousins, but that might just be me.

I'll see if I can get a screen capture up, as I'm sure some of those fine editors at the AP will figure this out eventually....

ADDED: I note that the Canadian version of the story on Yahoo is correct about the number of years between the two Adams' presidencies, as is the San Luis Obispo Tribune version. I have no idea who has screwed this up, but it doesn't appear to have been a simple typo: someone must have gone in and re-written the copy, either to correct it or to mess it up.

AND MORE: There's even more wrong with this story - the stat in the opening line:
Forty percent of Americans have never lived when there wasn't a Bush or a Clinton in the White House. Anyone got a problem with that?
I do have a problem with that. Namely that said fact is wrong, is you believe the US Census Bureau, in any event. Checking the estimate here for citizens under the age of 20, one finds that the Census Bureau estimated there were approximately 82 million such people in 2006. From a population of approximately 299 million, that leads to about 27.4% of the US population having been born since 1987, two years before G. W. H. Bush took office. It's hard to believe the demographics have changed that much since 2006!

This is wrong in all three versions of this story. Are the various editors and reporters so innumerate and so lacking in basic fact checking? The Magic Eight Ball says, "Signs point to 'Yes!'"

LATEST: It appears the forty percent comes by way of a cheat. If one includes people born since 1981, the year G. H. W. Bush became VICE PRESIDENT, one can get over 40%. That's cheesy, though. I mean who looks back and thinks of the Mondale years, or the Rockefeller years?

Monday, September 17, 2007

In a reasonable world, these two headlines shouldn't go together.

Spy games bother Pats owner : Belichick extended

And yet they do, on the front page of ESPN's website this morning. Hey, Bob, contracts speak louder than sanctimonious claims of innocence... uh, I mean sanctimonious claims of different "interpretations" of the rules.

I guess this proves that Bob Kraft is every bit the phony that his head coach is....

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Another reason I love my wife: Her great comments!

For example, she left this one on my recent post that included lyrics from Gilbert & Sullivan:

>As office boy I made such a mark
That they gave me the post of a junior clerk

English people don't say "clerk"; they say "clark".
Anybody who says "clark" is a jark!
~"Zip", Pal Joey

That Lorenz Hart guy was a pretty good lyricist too.
And then we had this recent email conversation:

Icepick: THIS is why I love Udolpho. Don't drink anything while reading this.

justkim: When did you adopt this alter-ego?

Icepick: It's not me, I swear it. He's been at this since 2002. I am SO ENVIOUS of his assholeness!

justkim: Oh, honey, you have your own special variety of assholeness.

Icepick: Oh, I know that. I'm just envious because his is so much more powerful than mine.

To a shark, people are just like Zebra Cakes.

This is the coolest story of the year!

An Oakland Park teen who went swimming at the beach Thursday emerged with a nurse shark latched onto his abdomen.
Also? This kid will have the coolest scar story ever!

To be fair, Zebra Cakes are mighty tasty....


Friday, September 14, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dumb Ideas in Sports

Cheating against one's coaching disciple, especially if you don't need to do it to win.

Wearing a Texas Longhorn shirt into a sports bar in Oklahoma City.

Don't cheat by using an obviously disgruntled employee to get documents. (Also? SHRED THE DOCUMENTS! Didn't you guys ever hear about Watergate?)

Paying BIG MONEY to an unproven player, especially if the player is damaged goods.

Firing a proven college coach and replacing him with an unproven pro assistant.

Giving a huge contract extension so that you can endure more than a decade of this.

Putting a Major League Baseball franchise in Florida. (375!)

Thinking that wearing a mask will automatically keep you from getting fingered for delivering a beat down.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Radio Free Icepick

Ten random selections from my iPod.

Goldberg Variation 26 ...........................Glenn Gould
Whores (live) .........................................Jane's Addiction
Eight Miles High .....................................The Byrds
No Regrets .............................................Billie Holiday
Boy! What Love Has Done to Me! ............Ella Fitzgerald
Dr. Van Steiner ......................................Yello
Partia 4 I Sonata ....................................Musica Antiqua Köln
When I Was a Lad ...................................????
Welcome to the Jungle ...........................Guns -n- Roses
Shine ......................................................Meat Puppets

I'm not sure who performs "When I Was a Lad", but it's a song from Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Penafore. I love the lyrics of this one.

When I was a lad I served a term
As office boy to an Attorney's firm
I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor
And I polished up the handle of the big front door
..................He polished up the handle of the big front door
I polished up that handle so carefully
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navy
..................He polished up that handle so carefully
..................That now he is the ruler of the Queen's Navy

As office boy I made such a mark
That they gave me the post of a junior clerk
I served the writs with a smile so bland
And I copied all the letters in a big round hand
..................He copied all the letters in a big round hand
I copied all the letters in a hand so free
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navy
..................He copied all the letters in a hand so free
..................That now he is the Ruler of the Queen's Navy

In serving writs I made such a name
That an articled clerk I soon became
I wore clean collars and a brand-new suit
For the pass examination at the Institute
..................For the pass examination at the Institute.
And that pass examination did so well for me
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navy
..................That pass examination did so well for he
..................That now he is the Ruler of the Queen's Navy

Of legal knowledge I acquired such a grip
That they took me into the partnership
And that junior partnership, I ween
Was the only ship that I ever had seen
..................Was the only ship that he ever had seen.
But that kind of ship so suited me
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navy
..................But that kind of ship so suited he
..................That now he is the ruler of the Queen's Navy

I grew so rich that I was sent
By a pocket borough into Parliament
I always voted at my party's call
And I never thought of thinking for myself at all
..................He never thought of thinking for himself at all.
I thought so little, they rewarded me
By making me the Ruler of the Queen's Navy
..................He thought so little, they rewarded he
..................By making him the Ruler of the Queen's Navy

Now landsmen all, whoever you may be
If you want to rise to the top of the tree
If your soul isn't fettered to an office stool
Be careful to be guided by this golden rule
..................Be careful to be guided by this golden rule.
Stick close to your desks and never go to sea,
And you all may be rulers of the Queen's Navy
..................Stick close to your desks and never go to sea
..................And you all may be rulers of the Queen's Navy

A Societal Benefit from Professional Sports

Athletes are great test cases (i.e., guinea pigs) for experimental medical techniques that can eventually benefit many other. The latest example? Buffalo Bill player Kevin Everett:

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Kevin Everett voluntarily moved his arms and legs on Tuesday when partially awakened, prompting a neurosurgeon to say the Buffalo Bills' tight end would walk again -- contrary to the grim prognosis given a day before.

"Based on our experience, the fact that he's moving so well, so early after such a catastrophic injury means he will walk again," said Dr. Barth Green, chairman of the department of neurological surgery at the University of Miami school of medicine.

"It's totally spectacular, totally unexpected," Green told The Associated Press by telephone from Miami.
Here's a brief description of the "Gee whiz!" technique behind this potential miracle of science:
Green said the key was the quick action taken by Cappuccino to run an ice-cold saline solution through Everett's system that put the player in a hypothermic state. Doctors at the Miami Project have demonstrated in their laboratories that such action significantly decreases the damage to the spinal cord due to swelling and movement.

"We've been doing a protocol on humans and having similar experiences for many months now," Green said. "But this is the first time I'm aware of that the doctor was with the patient when he was injured and the hypothermia was started within minutes of the injury. We know the earlier it's started, the better."

Everett remains in intensive care and will be slowly taken off sedation and have his body temperature warmed over the next day, Green said. Doctors will also take the player off a respirator.
It appears that the reason they had this available in Buffalo for the game was because Bills' owner Ralph Wilson is one of the large donors behind The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. I imagine that by next season many more teams in the NFL will have this available in stadium for immediate use if needed, as will many colleges. I also imagine that in a few years EMTs will be trained and equipped for using this technique on car accident victims and the like.

Professional athletes earn their money not just by being particularly good at given games, but also because they're guinea pigs for cutting edge medical science.

Ain't science grand?

Madness. Madness!

Okay, this is approaching Alabama-Auburn levels of lunacy.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- To some Oklahoma football fans, there are things that just aren't done in the heart of Sooner Nation, and one of them is to walk into a bar wearing a Texas Longhorns T-shirt.

That's exactly what touched off a bloody skirmish that left a Texas-shirt-wearing fan nearly castrated and an Oklahoma fan facing aggravated assault charges that could put him in prison for up to five years.
I've really got nothing to add.

ALSO: Bonus points for knowing where I got the title of the post.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Suddenly, Columbus discovered that it was home to many Appalachian State alumni....

...or maybe not.

Meanwhile, phone lines at the bookstore on the Appalachian State campus in Boone, N.C., have been jammed with orders for Mountaineers merchandise, with many calls coming from Ohio.

But the store has had to be careful, because an old state law limits sales at university bookstores to students, faculty and alumni. A couple of Ohio men wanting large numbers of Appalachian State T-shirts had to be turned down, said Lorraine Childers, the bookstore's assistant director.

Smaller orders might get by.

"If people call in and say, 'My uncle is a graduate' or whatever, we really don't have a way to verify that," Childers said.
This makes me think that perhaps we should send some Gator Gear to Ann Arbor this fall.

The Law of Unintended Consequences Stikes Again

Yesterday saw three more cases of children left in cars here in Central Florida. In one case, a toddler died when her mother forgot that she had responsibility for the child that day.

A 22-month-old girl died after being left in the back seat of the car while the mother worked at Ocoee City Hall, investigators said.

The death was considered a mistake, police said, because the mother was supposed to take the girl to day care, but it was normally the father's responsibility to take the child.
In another case, tourists left their child in a car while doing some shopping in a Wal-Mart.
A couple from France was arrested Tuesday night after deputies said they left their daughter locked in a car at Wal-Mart on Turkey Lake Road.

Gerard and Chetrie Sterne are accused of leaving the 2-year-old inside a rental car while shopping.

A shopper noticed the child inside the car and called authorities, who said the girl was left inside for about an hour. The parents said the girl was only alone for a few minutes.
Regardless of whether the child was alone for a few minutes or an hour, this is piss-poor judgement. The child is now in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families. That may be just as irresponsible as leaving the child unattended in a car during a Florida summer, but that's not the parents' fault. That is a topic for another time, if I can stomach it. (I probably won't be able to stomach that topic, so don't hold your breathe. Of course, if you're reading this you're not likely to be holding your breathe anyway, as you know I don't post that often.)

(Also, I am resisting the urge to ridicule French tourists for shopping at a Wal-Mart, but don't let that stop anyone from doing so in the comments.)

The third case was not as bad as the first two.
Meanwhile, a child in Ormond Beach was also rescued from a car Tuesday night after a grandmother locked her keys inside the vehicle.

The woman called for help, but rescuers couldn't get the door open and ended up breaking a window.

The child was hot but didn't require medical attention, officials said.
But all of this isn't really the interesting part, which appears in the last paragraph.
The number of children who have died of heat exhaustion has risen dramatically since the mid-1990s, totaling around 340 in the past 10 years. According to an Associated Press analysis, one reason cited was a change made to protect children by putting them in the back seat away from air bags, where they are more easily forgotten.
ADDED: Reading the story on the Orlando Sentinel webpage, I see that the comments have already turned nasty regarding the death of the toddler mentioned above. This quickly brings to mind this recent post of Mark Daniels.

UPDATE: Mark Daniels provides an update on the story he blogged about before.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Explaining My Anti-Big Ten Bias

As my last post made clear, I have an anti-Big Ten Conference bias. This bias is less than a year old. It dates back to early last December, to the day when UCLA beat USC and UF beat Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game. On that day, it became clear that my alma mater, the University of Florida, would send its football team to play in the BCS National Championship Game against The Ohio State University team. This is the point at which by bias began to form.

I have to confess that initially I wasn't looking forward to this game. Like everyone else, I had bought into the hype that the 2006 Bukeyes team was the greatest college football team of recent years. (Which was silly on the face of it, given how good some of the teams from USC and Texas had been in the then IMMEDIATE past.) I would have been happier going to the Sugar Bowl and beating Notre Dame senseless. (There would have been personal reasons for that, which I won't go into here. Let's just say that work would have been a fun place to talk college football for a few years.) But we had to play OSU anyway, so I sucked it up and got myself into the game by listening to local sports talk radio.

Now central Florida is a land of immigrants. Recently that immigration has come from points south, but not so long ago the immigrants were almost exclusivelty from points north. Central Florida has a LOT of residents from the Mid-West. When I was a child, it seemed like half the people in the state were from Michigan, Wisconsin or Ohio. (The other half was primarily from West Virginia, oddly enough.)

With the reality of a UF vs The Ohio State University national championship game, all of those Mid-Westerners came out of the woodwork and onto the local airwaves, and man were they obnoxious! One call after another for a whole month explained to us UF partisans that up there they play real football, men's football. Down here we allegedly just played some form of flashy touch football with no real substance, no real physicality - nothing more than glorified Pop Warner football. (Apparently none of these idiots had watched the LSU-Auburn game from earlier in the season, which was the most hard hitting game I've ever seen at any level.) This was compounded by the fact that several of the local sports talk radio announcers and producers were from the Mid-West themselves, so we had a month of almost entirely anti-South, anti-SEC and anti-UF sports talk radio ... in Central Florida! (Incidentally, if these people are so found of the Mid-West, they're all welcome to move back - the roads run both ways.)

(I should point out that there was one notable exception to the above on the local airwaves - Dan Sileo on WQTM's 740 The Team station had been stating since early November that UF would destroy Ohio State if the two teams played. Sileo is a former University of Miami Hurricane and Tampa Bay Buccaneer. I don't much care for him, as he's a loud-mouthed fool most of the time, but he is usually an excellent commentator about college football.)

Needless to say, this was all highly aggravating on several fronts. First of all, I AM a native-born Floridian. (Even now there aren't that many of us.) Secondly, I am a graduate of the University of Florida. But most importantly, I have watched college football off and on for many decades now, and I know for a fact that SEC football qualifies as serious football.

In any even, after a month of this, I was quite happy to see THE Ohio State University get demolished in the desert of the South West on January 8th.

I should say that by the time the game itself rolled around I was actually expecting a UF win. Having looked at the records, it had become apparent that OSU hadn't actually played anyone that was all that good, other than perhaps a very inexperienced Texas team. Meanwhile Florida had run an even tougher than usual SEC gauntlet. (Let me tell you, I'm happy we didn't have to play LSU a second time last year. LSU got robbed in the Auburn game, and I'm not sure UF would have beat them on a neutral field in December.) On top of having looked at the records, by January 8th, Michigan had been destroyed in the Rose Bowl, and LSU had ruined Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, speaking to the relative strength of the two conferences. So January 8th was a sweet, sweet day for UF and its fans and alumni.

And of course, in the NCAA Men's Division 1 Basketball Tournament in early April, we got even more satisfaction. Yep, good times to be a Gator!

Anyway, that's why I have an anti-Big Ten bias these days - that and the fact that they can't count. Hey guys, there are actually ELEVEN TEAMS in your conference!

Post Script: I should add that having achieved satisfaction, as it were, last January and April would be enough for a normal person to let the matter drop. However, UF fans and alumni are not normal people - we are in fact world class jerks. I say this with no pride, and a great deal of chagrin. But that's a story for another time.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Big Ten Sucks

Michigan, this is why you weren't allowed to play in the BCS National Championship Game last year. Congratulations to the Appalachian State Mountaineers for pulling off the Upset of the Century!

(Kim speculates that when UF broke Ohio State last year, we also broke Michigan by extension. Plausible!)

Let the Lloyd Carr Death Watch commence....

ADDED: This is the best article EVER! Sample:

Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr knows who the Mountaineers are.

"We had the benefit of watching all their games last fall, so we know the strengths of their team," Carr said. "We know about their speed and about how well they play on both sides of the ball."


The Mountaineers and Wolverines are playing because Michigan needed to fill out its schedule when it was expanded to 12 games. Appalachian gets $400,000 from the Wolverines for showing up.

"We're just here for the experience," said one Appalachian fan, talking to a local in a hotel lobby.
EVEN MORE: How are the Big Blue fans taking this? How do you think? (Scroll to the bottom if you don't have much time, savor the whole thing if you do.) Samples:

From the poster "FIRELLOYDCARRNOW":
Followed immediately by this post from "lloyd must die":
i agree with every word you just said [followed by one of the rudest emoticons I've ever seen.]
God I missed football season!

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE FARM: UF won its game, and didn't even need a whole game to do it. Game called on account of lightning in the fourth quarter.

SPEAKING OF BAD PREDICTIONS: The Orlando Sentinel has a feature called The Saturday Ticket, which lists all of the college football games with time, matchup, buzz about the game, the line, and a prediction. This week's edition was entitled "It's a feast of cream puffs", and the first line was this:
Noon Appalachian State at Michigan Wolverines will pile up the yards NL Michigan 48-3
There was no line on this game!

BEST BULLETIN BOARD SMACKDOWN: From a poster calling himself UrbanLegend:
When UF lost to Mississippi State that was it..Ron Zook was terminated! For your sake, I hope your AD has the balls to do the same thing to Carr. You could find a much better coach! If not learn to enjoy being a second tier program.

Please hire a new coach, we are BORED with beating Ohio State! We want a new challenge.
Truly, we ARE bored beating up on OSU. (Sorry Mark Daniels.)

Also, a lot of Michigan fans are saying that ASU had SEC-like speed. But that's not true - if ASU had that kind of speed, the final would have been more like 41-14.