This week, Giants RB Brandon Jacobs - my second round pick and a general disappointment so far this year - was considered a MUST START against the Broncos on Thanksgiving night. His performance this year had been diminished by a stronger effort from his teammate Ahmad Bradshaw but Bradshaw was out with two bum ankles. Behind him was only Danny Ware, a promising back but with little experience. The Giants NEEDED this game - hence, everyone who thought about it figured this was Jacobs' game to shine. Even the NFL Network's commercial promoting the game featured Jacobs prominently.
So what happened? Jacobs stunk up the place rushing the ball just 11 times for a meager 27 yards, adding 30 yards on three receptions. Ware not only fumbled but then got hurt - so for the majority of the game, any rush should have gone to Jacobs - and yet he only carried the ball 11 times. It was a pathetic display for a feature back. In truth, the entire Giants team looked awful, and many folks seem to think that this was the nail in their 2009 season given their upcoming schedule.
It's worth pointing out that Jacobs was ranting after the game, saying "We didn't want it." It's also worth stating that 11 carries is hardly a full load for your feature running back; while the Giants were fighting back the whole night, it wasn't like they were down by four scores. They could have and should have run more - but they didn't.
So what is his fantasy prognosis? Check this out from Rotoworld.com:
Brandon Jacobs was held to just 27 yards on 11 carries and 30 yards on three receptions against the Broncos in Week 12.
Jacobs was tentative at the line, often running sideways instead of choosing a lane. In his defense, the offensive line is no longer providing the gaping holes they opened in 2008. With Danny Ware (concussion) and Ahmad Bradshaw (ankles) injured, Jacobs has to stay in fantasy lineups as a RB2 against the Cowboys next week.
Emphasis in the last sentence is mine. This is no slight on Rotoworld - I fully expect Jacobs to be ranked at about the 17-18 RB next week for the same reasons they cite. But why? Jacobs hasn't shown anything this year - he looks slow, tentative and the offensive line - as noted - is not helping anything. Why does he HAVE to be in fantasy lineups again after he stunk it up again?
The only reason? Cause I'll be sitting him, so he should go off for a 100 yards and 2 TDs. Consider yourself warned.
I've been in a bit of a funk lately - after reading Bill Simmons' epic tome, The Book of Basketball, I've read some real stinkers - Chuck Klosterman and A.J. Jacobs recent books were real disappointments, so I decided to dive into a book I bought a little while ago but have been saving because I assumed it would be great.
Suffice it to say it wasn't.
Lorrie Moore is an insanely talented writer - her collection of stories, Birds of America, is so brilliant it should probably be required reading. And yet, after reading her latest - and first full length - novel, The Gate At The Stairs, I feel like I need to pick Birds back up to remind me of why I like her writing so much.
Yep, it's that bad. Click the link below to read the full depressing review.
The protagonist of the novel is Tassie Keltjin, a 20 year old college student who takes on a job as the nanny for an older couple who have [illegally] adopted a bi-racial girl.
I should note that the book is set in the months after 9/11, something noted in every review I read before purchasing the book and, as far as I can tell, almost wholly irrelevant to the book. I really can't figure out why this gets mentioned - because the two relevant aspects - a man Tassie dates and her brother enlisting the army - are either not flushed out nearly enough or so patently obvious in their conclusions that they made me feel sure I was missing the bigger point.
Moore goes to great lengths to show Tassie's sassiness (she rides a scooter! She plays the bass! She's totally disaffected!) as well as mock the politically uber-correct -- notably when Tassie eavesdrops on a parents group she's enlisted to babysit for. Parents of bi-racial children get together and their conversations are just slapped together since Tassie is listening in. The conversations are maddening, and way too clever, and of course that's the point.
But ... there is just about NOBODY to like here. Not even Tassie, who suffers through some predictable disappointments. Certainly not the parents she nannies for who are particularly loathsome, and not her barely present boyfriend whose secret seems relevant and shocking - and then after being revealed halfway through the book never returns again. Moore seems intent on making commentary about politics, Starbucks and war - all of which I probably agree with, but they don't advance the story a whit.
It would be fine if nobody was likeable, I've read and enjoyed plenty of those books - but there isn't really much of a plot here. It's a tale about a part of a young woman's life where she goes through what can only be called some bad shit. It's certainly not intolerable - I finished it, there are many clever sentences along the way - but it falls so short of expectations, of fulfilling the promise the book sets up for itself, that any way you slice it, The Gate at the Stairs is a true disappointment.
Rating: 4.0 out of 10.0
Take a journey with me for a moment, won't you? Imagine that you lived in a country with two major political parties that together essentially hold every office in the land.
Party A historically has presented itself as tough on crime. It is called, often by itself, "The Daddy Party," both to highlight their overall toughness and to paint the other party as weak. (In Party A, it's not offensive to imply that all women are weak. Party A says, "Deal with it.") Party A has major ties to the defense industry, the military and consider it offensive and unpatriotic to not enthusiastically support the two wars this country is currently engaged in. In many states, measures supported by Party A have led to huge expansions of prisons, and a swollen, overcrowded prison population.
Party B is, historically, the party that is considered less focused on issues like crime and homeland security than instead focused on education, healthcare and poverty. Party B has many vocal members against the war, and although past leaders from Party B have passed sweeping crime reform with historic results, they are still considered the soft party. More strident members of Party A call Party B's members "socialists," and suggest that they want the country to lose its wars because they hate the country.
So, that's our totally hypothetical setting.
Now, keep following along. In the course of these wars, the country has placed what it considers the "worst of the worst" in a secluded, off-shore prison. It bears mentioning that many of these were nothing close to the worst of anything, and were released after many years of having no rights. Party A thinks this is just part of the war, and boasts about how much it loves this prison. (They even make shirts!) When some members of Party B suggested this prison should be closed in the past, and that the worldwide accepted conventions on prisoner treatment should be adhered to, Party A called Party B a bunch of wusses. (To put it mildly.)
Unfortunately for Party A, recent elections have shown that the country preferred the policies of Party B by a substantial majority, and Party B is going ahead with its plans to close this prison. The plan includes moving some of these prisoners to prisons that are not off-shore, but instead within the borders of the country. These "SuperMax" prisons already hold terrorists and the most dangerous criminals, and have never had an escape.
Party B is also in the process of setting up a criminal trial of the most dangerous prisoner there, a man who has admitted to acts of terrorism against this country, the most vile act of warfare ever waged on this country's soil.
OK, so that's our setting.
Now...imagine that one of these two parties is horrified by the idea of closing this prison and moving the prisoners to maximum security prisons. They go public, suggesting that these prisons are so shoddy that they risk the streets being run amok with terrorists, or that while in prison they'll indoctrinate others - even though the prisoners would be in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.
As for the criminal trial, this same party is virulently against it. Their argument? That the criminal justice system is so flimsy that this villain could get away on a technicality. Justice be damned, they say, we HAVE to use military tribunals against him, otherwise the system we use for ourselves is so weak, so shoddy, that we're doomed.
Party A is, of course, the Republican Party, and the ones terrified of due process and the prison system.
Party B is, of course, the Democratic Party, and the ones who have no idea what to do about Party A in this situation. Part of this, of course, is that the media presents the Republican fears as being valid concerns - after all, the Republicans are tough on crime! Their fears must be well grounded.
But no ... in fact, it's a pretty easy reach to see that Republican concerns here can only be explained by one of two explanations:
- They are genuinely concerned with the efficacy of the prison and judicial system, and don't trust its results whatsoever.
- They are saying this purely for possible political gain, to portray the Democrats as being irresponsible with national defense, and to use fear as a weapon.
I'll let you decide which of those options is most likely.
And getting relatively atrocious reviews. Just read the book, people - it's amazing. But what am I specifically referring to? Here are the top eight keywords people have used to land on my blog over the last month:
First, the name is spelled Leigh Anne Tuohy for future reference. [It's worth mentioning that I first posted this with the wrong spelling; it's a hard one, I get it.]
Second ... why are so many people searching for her? I think it's really people looking for Sandra Bullock.
While there are some cheesecake photos of her on the web, Sandra is really more of the girl-next-door type, and plus it's my wife's birthday and even I feel a bit guilty about posting pictures of hot women on her special day. So here instead is just a pretty photo of, apparently, who you are looking for. Happy Thanksgiving.
I started a post earlier this week about my ineptitude in choosing a third wide receiver for my team. I finally finished it, but Blogger has posted it as if I finished it days ago, meaning it's far down the page and the three people who visit this blog likely won't see it.
So here's a link to it, for those three lovely people. Enjoy.
According to Yahoo's NFL Pick 'Em,Green Bay has beaten Detroit in the Thanksgiving game, 26-0.
Only problem, of course, is that game is TOMORROW.
I'd say that the Lions fans will be up in arms about this, but there probably aren't that many left. (And yes, I am sure this is just a server hiccup - but if this turns out to be the actual score tomorrow? I'm going to be very, very nervous.)
Obviously, this is the hot button issue of the moment. I have a hard time understanding the legitimate concerns over this bill -- our current system doesn't work, and the national healthcare that currently does exist (Medicare, Veterans Insurance) is rated among the best options out there in the country.
That being said, I have no idea what the bill passed in the Senate really says. That's what experts are for - so here's an article by Ron Brownstein, talking with Jonathan Gruber, an economist who works with both parties about the bill, as well as other folks who have worked in Republican administrations, all saying that this bill is a milestone in the right direction. Below are some snippets, but the whole article - which President Obama and his administration have been distributing - is worth your read. All bold font is mine.
Jonathan Gruber…is a leading health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is consulted by politicians in both parties. He was one of almost two dozen top economists who sent President Obama a letter earlier this month insisting that reform won't succeed unless it "bends the curve" in the long-term growth of health care costs. And, on that front, Gruber likes what he sees in the Reid proposal. Actually he likes it a lot.
"I'm sort of a known skeptic on this stuff," Gruber told me. "My summary is it's really hard to figure out how to bend the cost curve, but I can't think of a thing to try that they didn't try. They really make the best effort anyone has ever made. Everything is in here....I can't think of anything I'd do that they are not doing in the bill. You couldn't have done better than they are doing."
Almost everything Baucus proposed to control long-term costs have survived into the final bill. And, with only a few exceptions, that's just about all the systemic reforms analysts from the center to the left have identified as the most promising strategies for changing the economic incentives in the medical system.
The CBO projected that the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $130 billion over its first decade and by as much as $650 billion in its second. (Conservatives, of course, consider those projections unrealistic, but CBO is the only umpire in the game, and Republicans have been happy to trumpet its analyses critical of the Democratic plans.)
No one can say for certain that these initiatives will improve efficiency enough to slow the growth in health care spending. Some are only pilots; others would affect only a small portion of providers' revenue from Medicare. CBO typically evaluates them skeptically: it generally scores little or no savings from most of them. Former CBO director Robert Reischauer, who signed the November 17 letter, says that's not surprising. "CBO is there to score savings for which we have a high degree of confidence that they will materialize," says Reischauer, now president of the Urban Institute. "There are many promising approaches [in these reform ideas] but you...can't deposit them in the bank." In the long run, Reischauer says, it's likely "that maybe half of them, or a third of them, will prove to be successful. But that would be very important."
Note that the article correctly points out that missing from the bill is legitimate malpractice reform, and that absence should be changed. (In fact, there are efforts by Harry Reid to do just that - still, it should have been there in the first place.)
In any event, this makes me feel even better that we're on the precipice of enacting historic change, which after all was what the last election was all about.
When I was in college, a buddy of mine and I used to get pretty drunk and eventually, one of us would say, "Let's drive into San Jose and get tattoos!"
This was back in the day when everyone didn't have a tattoo, and when there weren't places to get inked on every corner in most towns, including Santa Cruz where we were.
Then, we'd realize we were both drunk, and therefore in no shape to drive. And what's more, we were in no shape to choose a tattoo - my buddy insisted he wanted a groundhog peeking out of his ass, and seeing his shadow. I wanted what was then a rare icon from my childhood cartoons, a "Marvin the Martian" - something that I'm very glad I passed on.
Somehow, I think the person who got THIS tattoo below is going to feel similarly regretful in not so long...
Regret Hero: "
Click through to see more on Lamebook, one of the most addictive sites I've stumbled across lately.
This series of interviews outside of the Going Rogue book signing in Columbus, OH is really interesting - of course, it's edited so I'm sure there were some cogent, reasonably minded people there -- but if you've ever wondered why Palin talks in the platitudes, "conservative mad lib" manner that she does ... look no further. Everyone in this video does the same. (Of course, none of THEM are considered the leaders of the Republican Party.)
My favorite is the well dressed woman (in the still above) who says, "It's not rocket science." No ... no, it isn't.
For those who play fantasy football (and there are lots of us), setting a lineup often means just starting your studs and forgetting about it. For instance, this week, I played Adrian Peterson who got me all of nine points, while leaving Mike Bell on my bench who got 24 points.
Upsetting, to be sure - but it was the CORRECT decision. You don't sit All Day Peterson - you just don't.
BUT ... not every lineup slot is that clear cut. We start three wide receivers in our league, and after I lost Anthony Gonzalez in Week One and Calvin Johnson later on to injury and then a trade I made, I've largely had to choose between Steve Breaston of the Cardinals and Nate Burleson of the Seahawks each week.
It's stunning how POORLY I choose.
For those not up to speed on depth charts of all the NFL teams, Burleson is the #2 wide receiver for Seattle, while Burleson is the #3 receiver for the more pass-friendly Cardinals. Almost exclusively, Burleson has been ranked higher each week by the fantasy 'punditry' across our fair land.
At first, it seems like there's not much room for error - in the weeks where I started one of these guys, Burleson scored 47 points while Breaston scored 64.
The optimum mix-n-match here (choosing the best result each week) would have yielded 85 points. As noted, I could just have chosen the worse of the two players, left him in there and never looked back and gotten 47 points. Oh but no...I can make things worse. Much, much worse.
Somehow, I've managed to only get 30 points out of this. If I go back and look at the WORST possible outcome - that is, starting the worst points player each week, I would get 26 points. Seriously, that's how bad I've done here.
In Week 10, I started Burleson who caught ZERO passes for zero points, while Steve Breaston notched 15 points. So, I started Breaston this week - who didn't even have a pass thrown to him, let alone catch one against the woeful Rams. He threw up a donut while Burleson put up 17 points against the Vikings.
This is woeful efficiency. This is atrocious management. This ... is fantasy football.
Please excuse me while I go pound my head on the pavement. And for those playing at home, this week I'm starting Burleson. Please proceed to put Steve Breaston into YOUR fantasy lineup, as I'm sure he'll explode.
While the media fawns over Sarah Palin, yet again, Jon Stewart was compelled to comment on the "content" of what she actually says. He came up with this:
It's just a conservative boiler plate mad lib.
Which is pretty spot on. And Kevin Drum takes the ball and runs with it. (Emphasis below is mine.)
Yesterday I was thinking about how everything she says sounds like it's just plucked from the tea party talking points of the day, but Stewart comes closer to the truth. They aren't just talking points, they're sort of bizarrely, syntactically mashed up talking points.
I wonder what really goes on inside her head? Lots of politicians have mastered the art of speaking in talking points and never going off message, but mostly they at least try to sound like they know what they're talking about. Palin doesn't. She just spouts the sixth grade version of the talking points with an apparently total unawareness that she sounds like a child.
Virtually every political commenter — even the ones who like her! — concluded after the presidential campaign that she needed to study up on the issues, maybe pick one to make into her signature, and use that to increase her gravitas. But obviously she hasn't. She just doesn't care. Or, perhaps, doesn't think there's any reason she needs to know about issues. I mean, she beat that nerdy issue guy in the Alaska governor's race just by making fun of his book learning, didn't she? Why change a winning game plan?
As good a summary as I've come across so far. And - a bit of serious talk now - let's not forget that she is the defacto face and voice of the Republican Party. She's it. She's who they have chosen, and they LOVE her, or so we are told.
All together now: SIGH.
Coming to an indie movie near you any day now, I suppose.
It's a cute little song and I can't quite get it out of my head, so I'm sic'ing it on you.
Enjoy a live performance of it here.
Via Last.FM, here is the description of the band:
Slow Club are Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor from Sheffield, United Kingdom. They sing using quirky lyrics, a variety of percussion instruments and great vocal interplay. They are currently releasing singles on Moshi Moshi Records and have been on nationwide tours with bands such as Fionn Regan, The Noisettes, Hot Club De Paris, Tilly And The Wall, Jamie T and Jeremy Warmsley.
The pair have released a series of EPs: Because We’re Dead, Me and You, Let’s Fall Back in Love, Christmas TV and It Doesn’t Have to Be Beautiful. Their debut album, Yeah So, was released on 7 July 2009.
Current single Trophy Room is out now, and details have just been announced of a new Christmas single, ’Christmas, Thanks For Nothing’ out on the 17th December through Moshi Moshi.
Last FM doesn't seem to allow embedding of its videos because -- well, I can't think of a single good reason. In any case, enjoy.
Just rest assured, you haven't cornered the market on the best rant by a fan yet (unless, of course, you are THIS guy):
You are a total disgrace, not only to your profession, not only to the human race, but to nature itself. This may sound like an exaggeration, but believe me when I say that I have passed kidney stones which have brought me a greater level of pleasure and entertainment than watching each of you worthless excuses for professional footballers attempt to play a game you are clearly incapable of playing, week-in, week-out.
I considered, for a second, that I was perhaps being a little too harsh. But then I recalled that I have blindly given you all the benefit of the doubt for too long now. Yes, for too long you have failed to earn the air you've been breathing by offering any kind of tangible quality either as footballers or as people in general. As such, I feel it's only fair that your supply runs out forthwith.
The entire letter is here. Raiders fans, you have your work cut out for you.
This is an amazing compilation of some of the very best quotes from THE best show ever, The Wire. Like most of the show, it's often pretty foul language so if you're at work, put your headphones on or watch it later:
I'm pretty partial to the parts where they show a character (Bunk, Clay, McNulty) repeating certain phrases, but all in all, I can't think of anything in particular that they missed except for a mention of Hamsterdam... (Of course, you could fill ten minutes just with Omar quotes, but restraint is important too...) The title of this post is one quote I was waiting for - it comes right towards the end but thankfully, they did include it.
Last night, we watched the three CSI episodes from this week, from Miami to New York to Las Vegas. We watch the Vegas show regularly and don't watch any of the others. This seemed like a good idea - a theme that ran across all three shows, mingling the cast, etc.
Wow, what a fail.
First, CSI Miami is not just sort of bad, it's truly awful - and it's barely David Caruso's fault. Just horrible writing, acting and the tone is super cheesy and fake. There's also a pony-tailed guy with a super computer and screens that don't really exist - for no good reason.
CSI NY is better, but largely by comparison. And even the Vegas show was tenuous and exposed the preposterous parts of that show that are generally left alone.
Total fail. Also, what happened to Emily Procter's face? I miss Ainsley Hayes.
Recently, Matthew Yglesias wrote a comment about Bill Simmons recent tome "The Book of Basketball," which I've also read and enjoyed quite a bit.
His comment is a rebuttal to what he interprets as a claim by Simmons that because Simmons was first exposed to basketball by getting great seats during the rise of the 1980s Celtics teams, that he has better insight into what makes a great basketball player. Yglesias thinks this is backwards:
I think this is kind of backwards. You sentimentalize teams you root for, and if you root for a team that’s really good—the Celtics or the Lakers or the Yankees (or the Canadiens?)—you wind up sentimentalizing success. And since the point of a sports competition is to win the games, sentimentalizing success gets people extremely confused. Thus we wind up hearing an awful lot in the book about “character” and how you need good character guys to win. If you’re a Celtics fan, this probably makes a lot of emotional success.
Well, I can relate this to my 49ers fandom as it's a parallel, and I don't think Yglesias has much of a leg to stand on here. The Celtics just happened to both be successful and, largely, full of good character guys. (Character doesn't necessarily mean nice; Charles Oakley is lauded in the book so much Simmons says his son's middle name is Oakley, which I'm tempted to believe.)
But Yglesias really loses me with the last sentence
Otherwise you get too hung up on the idea that the ‘86 Celtics were better than the ‘96 Bulls (something that all and only people from Boston seem to think) and start twisting your whole worldview around to accommodate that conclusion.
Not only people from Boston think this. I lived in Chicago in 1996, and while that team was great - truly, truly great - I support Simmons in ranking the 86 Celtics higher. They just were, man by man, and as a team. I'm not going to rehash why - the book does a great job of that. But I think Yglesias' error here might have something to do with the fact that Yglesias was probably like 4 in 1986 but a true sports fan by the time the 96 Bulls rolled around. Age bias rears its ugly head.
RIF! Reading, It's Fundamental.
Recent Books I've Read
Stuff You Will Find Here
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- On Healthcare Reform
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- Be Afraid. Very, Very Afraid.
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