Football notes

* Bama may have something after all, if they can keep pressing people into mistakes.

* Vandy managed not to lose. Of course it was a bye week.

* The Redskins are in dreadful condition, cannot be considered a favorite in any game they have left this season, and will require major overhaul once the new CBA is hammered out (again, don’t count on NFL football in 2011 as a sure thing by any stretch).

* Cal played not to lose, hung on for 57 minutes, and then gave up one big play that broke their back. I don’t think the Bears could drop below 4 wins, and it’s always possible they will manage to rise to the occasion against UCLA or Washington or in the Big Game, but I wouldn’t want to bet on a winning season at this point. Riley is as good as he’s ever going to be as a quarterback, which is “not very”, and you can’t run Shane Vereen to death the entire season – which means the defense will get no rest.

I get the feeling this is God’s way of telling me to stop caring about football so much.

Football Wrapup

* Respect to Duke for not moving the game to Charlotte and selling an extra 30,000 seats, of which 29,997 would have probably gone to Alabama fans. However, the real problem might have been scheduling the game in the first place. No idea why some of these games happen.

* Speaking of – apparently the Nevada tilt was considered Cal’s “A” non-conference game this year. I don’t know whether this is begging the question or just after-the-fact rationalization, but it makes no sense to me that you’d schedule your non-con games C-B-A, leaving all summer for Davis but needing a short week for a road game at altitude against an exotic offense with a propensity for breakaway scoring. For the first time, we have a loss that may be less on Tedford and more on Sandy Barber’s scheduling – something that’s already giving pause for thought with the month gap between home games.

* I think before the season, people would have been thrilled with a 30-27 OT loss to Houston and a win over Dallas to start the season. Proof, if any were needed, that the euphoria of beating Dallas is a worse drug than black tar heroin. Also, Gary Kubiak does need to eat a bag of dicks for that utterly hack move with the timeout before the field goal, but do you know who was the first to bring that particular move to the NFL? That’s right, noted douchebag Mike Shanahan – now the coach of the Redskins. Karma’s a motherfucker, and we could do without it, especially now that the universe has ten years of illegal cut blocks to reckon with.

* Four out of six. Math it up. Vandy has beaten LOL Miss (ht EDSBS) four years out of the past six, including both of the last two games in Oxford. There’s a reason a win over the Rebels has become a critical component of Big Six, and matters are probably made worse this year with the likely loss IN Connecticut (who the hell is scheduling these things)? and the resulting need for two extra conference wins to make six (although you have to think Tennessee could be had, and we do have a way of tripping up South Carolina whenever they get good). I don’t know how good the Furd is, but looking at Wake Forest down 41-7 at the half I’m more sanguine about our prospects for derailing the Demon Deacons to end the year…


If you didn’t care for the Killers’ second album, you may not be the target audience for the first solo effort from Brandon Flowers, the lead singer of the aforementioned band. But you should give it a listen anyway. The countrified slide guitar and John Cougar-esque references differentiate it from what you would get from the main band, and – to borrow from an iTunes review – Brandon’s obvious mission is to make himself the Bruce Springsteen of Clark County, Nevada. And the opening track, “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” is something you could totally hear being sung in the voice of the Boss.

Still the best new act of the last 10 years.


In the course of monkeying around with a netbook and then an iPad, and with some mild Kindle experimentation going on with other folks’ hardware, I’ve come to think a little more about what I carry with me. Obviously, if you have to carry a bag, you may as well put some of your S in it beyond just the laptop (and if you DO have to carry a bag, unless you are traveling you may as well have the laptop rather than a lesser device). But even before I went back to the stage of carrying a 15″ MacBook Pro back and forth to work every day in a Timbuk2 backpack (and then scaling down to a lighter one-strap laptop sleeve with a couple of pockets), I was already reducing what I go around with. To wit:

SMOKING UTENSILS. Let’s face it: when I lived in DC, I was a smoker. Since leaving Cupertino, I’m not. Badabing. During that ten-year window, I had to go around with a pipe, a Zippo lighter, a tobacco pouch, and some means of scraping and cleaning said pipe. That is a hell of a lot of gear, even if you don’t add a cigar punch to the mix, and I usually did.

POCKET TOOL. I’ve carried a pocketknife of some sort almost continuously since starting high school, because I’m a guy from Alabama and that is the done thing. By the time I was a year or so into DC, I had ramped up to one Leatherman or another to weigh down my pockets. When I started in California, I worked somewhere that had all the tools I needed in ready reach, and the state of things evolved to the point where I found I almost never needed to carry a Leatherman or Swiss Army knife or the like. By the end of my time in Cupertino, I was down to a simple Buck knife with a hookbill blade for opening boxes and a bottle opener on the back – and with my Vandy ring, even the bottle opener is superfluous. Now, the work Swiss Army Cybertool is in my laptop bag, because if I’m not somewhere with a computer I probably don’t need it.

PAGER/BLACKBERRY. I was forced to keep toting the pager until the end of my time in DC, so most days I was going out with a pager, a cell phone, and some sort of music player (Walkman, then Rio, then another Rio, then the first iPod I owned). Not until a couple of weeks into the iPhone era did I finally feel the need to divest myself of the separate iPod. I also haven’t had a separate work phone, except for a couple of years in Cupertino, and even then I divested myself of my personal phone shortly thereafter. Now, with the iPhone doing for everything, a whole category of utility-belt crap has gone away.

CAR KEY. I kept it separate from my other keys almost from the time I arrived in DC and parked the car, and now it usually sits on the nightstand.

So what am I down to for everyday carry? It’s gotten about as light and simple as I can make it. What has it got in its pocketses, precious?

KEYS. Duh. House and a couple others, including the work lockup.

CLIP. And when I say clip, I mean an extra-small binder clip holding my folding money to a thin sliver of driver’s license, insurance card, credit card, debit card and work ID (with transit pass stickers). That’s pretty much all I ever need on a routine basis and it’s smaller than any wallet.

iPHONE (w/earbuds obvs). This goes in a pocket all by itself. Replaces phone, pager, iPod, books, magazines, laptop*, VCR, record shop, James Spann**, and those whiteboards we all had on the dorm room door in 1990.

HANDKERCHIEF. Hey, I’m from Alabama and I’m allergic to air, what do you expect? (Guys: the move is to have two. One in your pocket for the nose, and one in your inside jacket pocket in case a young lady needs to burst into tears or blot her lipstick or something. Trust your Unca Donkey. Also, quit smoking machine-rolled cigars from the drugstore.)

PEN. Has gone in the right hip pocket since 7th grade. The current model is almost always some sort of Fisher Space Pen, because I don’t write with it very often and the important thing is that it make a mark the first time wherever (and on whatever) I happen to be writing.

NOTEBOOK. Because you can’t jot down reminders in an iPhone in 5 seconds or less. The little paperback Rhodia is the thinnest thing I can easily use and doesn’t seem to have covers as fragile as the Moleskine Cahiers I use for travel abroad.

WALLET (optional). This is a Timbuk2 card wallet which holds all the stuff you don’t actually need daily but might be handy to have: donor card for the Blood Center, pass to the California Academy of Sciences, my Clipper card in case I need to take mass transit in the Bay Area other than Caltrain or VTA, five or six business cards, a five-pound note from the Bank of Scotland (hey, you never know), all my CERT identifier/certification cards (basically everything twice, once for work and once for home), and the Costco membership card in case I suddenly need five gallons of mustard and a 36-pack of Mexican Coke. The best part is that I don’t even necessarily have to have this, so if I have to go somewhere in a tux or what have you, I can leave it behind without a problem. And it’s flat enough that it’s not really a problem for everyday carry.

That’s it. Obviously this doesn’t cover worn things like sunglasses or watch or work badge, but that’s what I’m down to after twenty-five years of carrying things in my pockets.

Next trick? Using the greatly reduced space in the laptop sleeve to force a cutdown of what I carry back and forth daily…

* The iPhone isn’t truly a laptop replacement, but I would argue that it’s a very servicable netbook replacement.

** When I was a kid it was Channel 6, now it’s Channel 33/40, but the process is the same: if it’s tornado season and the weather is bad, turn on the TV and wait for James Spann. If he’s standing in front of the weather radar in a coat and tie, you’re fine; you can ignore all the watches and warnings and stuff, nothing to see here. If he has the coat off and the sleeves rolled up, it’s gonna be a long night and you need to take your ass to the storm cellar.

All In

Rand Paul in Kentucky. Sharon Angle in Nevada. Maes in Colorado. Murkowski in Alaska. The list goes on and on. Now O’Donnell in Delaware and Paladino in New York. Time and again, Tea Party candidates are capturing Republican nominations in statewide elections – and as often as not, turning safe Republican seats into tossups, or worse. In Delaware, for instance, the Democrats are projecting to hold the Senate seat and pick up the House seat of Mike Castle, the presumptive GOP nominee before tonight.

This is a bet. If this works out, the Democrats may yet take their 747 with three engines on fire and fly it through the hurricane to land on the aircraft carrier. If it doesn’t, the GOP will take the reins in Congress with the most radical right-wing rank and file since the Civil War. This is a dream scenario for the Ds in their darkest hour – but if they botch it, it will be a train wreck.

Now there are those who say “yay, put the Tea Party in control for two years and people will see how radical they are and the Republicans will be ruined forever!” These are the same sort of people who voted for Nader in 2000 and then tried to rationalize it while shitting themselves. If it would be a disaster for your opponent to win, you had better fucking win.

This was inevitable, to be honest. The GOP has been in the hands of the South for quite some time. “Tea Party” is just a label the base assumed because “Republican” was a toxic brand in the post-Bush era and “Confederate” might be a little too honest for electoral success. But don’t think for a second that the people you see waving WWF-style signs at Glenn Beck rallies are outside the mainstream of the GOP – that’s the most reliable base the Republicans have, the last-ditch dead-enders, the ones who talk endlessly about how the President is a Muslim (largely because the N-bomb remains over the line in politics), and – most importantly – the ones who are convinced that they are the last platoon desperately holding the line against the Mexican Muslim Homosocialist onslaught. Which means that their support will gravitate to the kind of no-retreat no-surrender candidates who will never ever ever compromise with The Enemy.

Take it, Charlie Pierce:

Seriously now, [O’Donnell] was a crackpot when she rose on primary morning, and she’s a crackpot now, and she will be a crackpot whether she wins or loses in November. She no more belongs in the Senate of the United States today than she did the day she was born. That 30,000-odd primates in Delaware thinks she belongs there is their problem. If enough people in Delaware come to think so, then she becomes our problem.

O’Donnell is a creature of an age in which politics have no meaning beyond performance art. She is the Creature From The Green Room, with no apparent public career beyond being available whenever some teenage booker from the cable shows needed someone to say something reliably stupid. She is one of those people who’d show up at CNN with a waterbowl in her teeth if someone there blew a dog whistle.

Her resume is so thin as to be opaque, and a lot of it seems to be a lie. She seems to be something of a deadbeat, and “U.S. Senator” seems to be her idea of an entry-level position. This morning, she stands one step away from the job.

She is what politics produces when you divorce politics from government. She is what you get when you sell to the country that nothing government can do will help, and that the government is an alien thing, and that politics is nothing more than the active public display of impotent grievance.

She is what politics produces when you turn them into a game show and the coverage of them over to a generation of high-technology racetrack touts. She is what you get when political journalism reduces politics to numbers on a scoreboard, divorcing them from the real world consequences of what are increasingly seen as cute little eccentric decisions…

Ten years ago today…

…they released Mac OS X Public Beta.

Which means we’re coming up on ten years since my Powerbook G3 Series with Mac OS X Public Beta installed got ganked out of the Irish bar at 2 AM. Leading to my purchase of an iBook SE and the beginning of my obsession with cheap mobility computing.

The moral of the story is this: if you’re going to take your laptop down the pub, make sure nobody spike your drink with, like, seven other drinks.

The Old Days, take 2

When my mother came to visit a couple weeks ago, she brought an old pair of boots – Rockport hikers that I acquired in fall 1991 for my first trip to Europe. They carried me from Poland and Czechoslovakia pretty much all the way to my first pair of Docs, and served some useful time even after that until I moved to where there’s not much need for insulated hiking boots. They’ve got laces I don’t recognize, some repairs to fraying stitching (and a lot of fraying stitching not repaired), and their third set of Vibram soles, and I had to put an old pair of sports shoe insoles into them to account for the fact I bought ’em a half size large to accommodate the big thick wool socks. And they are now the oldest footwear I have in my house.

That same autumn, I got my first Redskins hat – plain grey wool twill with a burgundy bill, script Redskins across the front, ever-so-slightly retro feel to it. It’s the oldest hat in my house now – despite the presence of two or three newer ones, like my Pentagon-patch Skins cap (the go-to for anything commemorating my DC family). Within the same month, I also splashed out for a Redskins jacket – a quasi-retro cloth varsity jacket that commemorated the (then) two Super Bowl victories. It’s way too warm and way too gaudy and way too not-waterproof to actually wear out here, and a tad on the small side, but it’s the oldest piece of outerwear in my collection here in California.

It should be obvious at this point that my autumn of ’91 was a big regeneration point. I don’t know why the transformation happened then, but it did – although I had claimed the Redskins the previous year, this was the year I sold out from game one on (and was rewarded with the third Super Bowl victory). This was the year I discovered football prior to the AFL, discovered Glenn Miller, discovered the old 1920s yearbooks, and really discovered what would come to be known in my house as “five space”.

Which brings us to the oldest thing in my wardrobe. A couple of years ago, my mother gave me her dad’s old watch, but I hadn’t really paid much attention to it until recently. Back in 1991, my maternal grandfather was the deceased relative that I reminded everyone of, and was the closest thing I had to a spirit guide of sorts – and if I’d been given this watch then, I probably would have thoroughly lost my S. Because it’s not just any watch – it’s an old Movado Tempomatic, Swiss-made, with nary a battery or circuit to be found. It’s a purely mechanical automatic action – you put it on your arm, and the movement spins a weight that in turn winds the mechanism. After a while, you take it off and set it to the correct time – and then put it back on, where it keeps time without battery, winding, quartz, or a hint of electronics. It’s unbelievably simple – not even a date window, no form of illumination whatsoever, and the cheapest Spiedel stretch-band you can imagine.

Simple, Swiss, family-connected, mechanically ingenious, and the oldest thing I own to wear – it’d be tough to conceive of anything more perfectly suited to me. As much as we talk about high school around here, it’s plain that the kid in 1991 is still me – and vice versa, although he never would have expected twenty years of mostly misery from supporting the Skins. Or seven years living in DC. Or listening to Sonny and Sam while driving down Highway 1 in California…