Thursday, December 29, 2005

iPod: The Other White Meat

MacNN reports that at least two iPod buyers who bought their new toys at Wal-Mart were surprised to find meat or batteries in place of the MP3 player. "A woman and her son from Mililani, Hawaii were caught by surprise on Christmas morning as the boy opened a box which should have contained a brand-new fifth-generation iPod from Apple, but instead contained a sealed fish or meat product. ... Another Wal-Mart customer was also dissappointed when she opened her newly purchased iPod package. After opening a 30GB iPod box which was sealed with cellophane wrap, she discovered six AA batteries taped together--an effort to simulate the weight of the iPod."

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Russian Backsliding?

A few recent articles have caught my eye on Russian backsliding away from a market economy. It had already appeared that Putin was a totalitarian at heart, despite what W saw in his heart. Of course, none of this has seemed to bother those who hold themselves out to be champions of human rights when it comes to Iraq. See also China.

But now that Russia appears to be renationalizing many of its businesses, maybe conservatives will actually take notice. According to the CS Monitor, "the Kremlin has effectively renationalized almost a third of the formerly private oil-and-gas sector." This should be a real problem for American and other Western interests with designs on Russian oil fields, which should make it a priority point for W and his crew.

Yesterday, news came of the resignation of a top Putin advisor and major proponent of free market economics. Andrei Illarionov, Putin's economic advisor, cited "a Kremlin ... bent on eradicating political freedom and commandeering the country's economy."

This story has been developing quietly for a few years, and you don't hear much of it here in the US. I wonder what would cause it to get prime real estate in the papers?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

This Doesn't Sound Good, Does it?

From a Washington Post article on the recent Iraqi elections and their unkind results for W's good buddy Ahmed Chalabi:
Eight members of a single Iraqi SWAT team were wiped out in what Iraqi authorities described as an hour-long shootout with better-armed insurgents. [Emphasis added]
Now, maybe these guys were like SWAT trainees. Or quasi-SWAT. Or maybe even the better-trained, better-armed Iraqi forces are not well-equipped enough (either training- or equipment-wise, or both) to handle security in the country by themselves.

I'm Back

and I'll try to be better about posting regularly.

Monday, November 21, 2005

You Forgot Mongolia!

President Bush became the first sitting US President to visit Mongolia. He praised them for their support in the GWOT. Mongolia has 131 troops in Iraq and about 50 in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thank You, Vets

Thanks, a few hours in advance, for your service to our country.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Divide and Conquer on Miers?

The right is so divided on the nomination of Harriet Miers, I think the left has no idea what to do. So the left is sitting on the couch, eating popcorn, transfixed on what it sees before it. They don't seem to know what to do. To this observer, the left has only one choice: wholeheartedly support the nomination of Harriet Miers. MoveOn.Org should air ads promoting Miss Miers for a spot on the Supremes. People for the American Way ought to send out mass mailings urging Americans to support their President.

The Bull Moose is on the right track. But more needs to be done. This should be in the public eye. Dianne Feinstein, Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton must meet with the President and urge him to stay the course. And they need to hold a press conference immediately after
telling C-SPAN Nation that they fully support the President on this issue.

I don't think I've been more correct about something in my life.

What's the worst that could happen? And intellectually incompetent justice could be confirmed onto the Supreme Court. Like that's never happened before.

Monday, October 24, 2005


So, I've decided that there are few artists in rock and pop music more underrated than Warren Zevon. Unfortunately, he gets tagged with the "novelty act" label because of Werewolves of London, but he has a catalogue of pretty good songs. Lawyers, Guns and Money and Excitable Boy are fine songs, as is Poor Poor Pitiful Me. Anyway, I was just thinking that as I was on my computer this evening.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Life Imitating Art?

On a recent West Wing, moderate GOP presidential candidate Arnold Vinick made a covenant he knew he would not keep. He promised a religiously conservative lobbyist that he would have a Roe v. Wade litmus test on judicial appointments. On a Sunday talk show, he publicly repudiated the litmus test.

Switching over to real life, now, a formerly moderate-sounding GOP president is drawing the ire of conservatives for a number of issues. President Bush has led conservatives through a period of unmitigated government expansion and entitlement expansion, using the carrot of socially-conservative judicial nominees. But when faced with two openings on the Supreme Court, W punted, nominating a not-too-conservative, scholarly and well-respected (by liberals even!) judge and a cloying sycophant with no record of conservative decisions under her belt. As you can imagine, many conservatives are pissed off. Wouldn't you be?

If like me you have a visceral hatred of this President, you gotta love this quote:
"The broader nature of the split becomes clearer with each conservative declaration of independence from the Bush White House. David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, wrote yesterday that many of his friends "swallowed policies" they opposed out of loyalty to Bush.

"We've been there for him because we've considered ourselves part of his team," Keene wrote in an essay printed in the newspaper the Hill and e-mailed to fellow conservatives. "No more. From now on, this administration will find it difficult to muster support on the right without explaining why it should be forthcoming. The days of the blank check have ended."

So Brilliant, It Almost Has to be True

Eric Alterman on the brilliant plan cooked up in the bowels of the White House to get your war and humiliate your enemies at the same time. Yeah, it's tongue in cheek, but Rove et al. are smart enough (and devious enough) to have cooked it up.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

OK, I Admit It

I would love to have this car.

Here's a Lame Post to Begin the Resuscitation of dotblawg

Mark Cuban isn't a multi-bazillionaire because he's stupid. Here's his view of Disney's decision to offer Lost and other TV shows up for download via the iTunes Music Store.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I'm Suffering from Severe Katrina Relief Backlash

and I'm doing something about it. There are tons and tons of wonderful organizations out there, both nationally and in your backyard that help people and are missing out on donations because of the largesse flowing to Katrina victims. The same problem confronted these organizations after the September 11 terrorist attacks and after the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't wish ill upon the people affected by Katrina, though I wonder about the intelligence of people that build on barrier islands and below sea level between a large lake and the Gulf of Mexico, not to mention the intelligence of people who subsidize such poor decisions. But I would like to try a little bit to help folks that are doing good things around the country and in my neighborhood.

If you can, please consider donating to some of these organizations...

The Nature Conservancy
American Cancer Society
Southern Poverty Law Center
Georgia Justice Project
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Fund
Toys for Tots

or another worthwhile charity -- I'm sure they'll appreciate it. Thanks!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Crescent City

So if reports coming out of New Orleans are true, where do we Americans go to turn in our High Horse saddles?

AJC: People Not So Stupid

The AJC has a great article on how hard it is for suburban dopes who bought huge, gas-guzzling SUVs to unload these days. Pre-Katrina, gas prices had been rising to more realistic (read: market) levels despite additional governmental subsidies for oil producers and the SUV subsidy was on the wane. Post-Katrina, gas prices have just gone through the roof here in the Peach State.
In Suwanee, John Kim posted his family vehicle — a 2003 GMC Yukon Denali XL — for sale at, owned by Cox Enterprises, parent company of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"I've been trying to sell it for a couple of months," Kim said, "but I'm not getting any calls. I thought it'd be faster."

He first priced the vehicle at $35,900. He dropped to $31,900. With no one calling, he may go lower yet.

Fuel costs are eating him up. There might as well be piranhas in his 32-gallon tank.

"I'm going with a smaller, more gas efficient car," Kim said.

Pardon my schadenfreude but these people are simply getting their just desserts.

Gas in Atlanta

Friday, August 12, 2005

OS X on PC

Wired is reporting today that hackers have tweaked the Intel version of OS X to run on Intel-based computers not blessed by Apple. These computers do not have the Trusted Platform Module chip that will likely act as a gatekeeper, preventing store-bought OS X for Intel from running on non-Apple hardware. The hackers have figured out a way to bypass that requirement and, apparently, have found that the OS may actually run faster than on today's G5-based Apple computers.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Fed Boosts Rates for 10th Time

Ruh roh. "In response, commercial banks began boosting their prime lending rates - used for many short-term consumer loans, including variable-rate credit cards and popular home equity lines of credit- by a corresponding amount to 6.50 percent." The Fed continued to forecast increases over the near- to mid-term, too. I sure am glad I went with that 30-Year fixed.

Krugman on the Bubble

The hot air in the bubble will be slowly let out, says the economist. He buries the lede, though:
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy has become deeply dependent on the housing bubble. The economic recovery since 2001 has been disappointing in many ways, but it wouldn't have happened at all without soaring spending on residential construction, plus a surge in consumer spending largely based on mortgage refinancing. Did I mention that the personal savings rate has fallen to zero?
I wish he would stop doing that.

So You Wanna Buy an SUV?

Read this. It's an Acrobat version of a New Yorker article that I read 18 months ago when it came out and I recently came across again.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Plamegate Apologists Skip This One

The Washington Post reports:
Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.

They Can Have It

Philadelphia Inquirer reports on a movement to "turn South Carolina's government into a biblically inspired oasis." Now, this movement claims "thousands of Christians" but apparently only bout five families have actually moved to South Carolina. This time, if South Carolina secedes, may I suggest we let them go.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

One Exculpatory Scenario

I've mentioned to friends that I think jailed New York Times columnist Judith Miller may have more to do with the Plame scandal than we know. My suspicion was that Miller had a soft spot in her heart for one of the "Senior Administration Officials" cited by Bob Novak when he outed the CIA operative. For some personal reason ("Love?" asks this schmaltzy blogger), Ms. Miller languishes in a jail cell, potentially subjecting herself to criminal sanctions, to protect the Administration.

Over at the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington opines that I have it backwards. In her post, she posits a theory that she claims is making the rounds at the Times: Judy Miller is Deep Throat. It's an interesting theory. This theory might lift the specter of criminal liability from members of the Administration. But it still wouldn't make their actions any less reprehensible.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Red China Realignment

Paul Krugman opines on the Chinese announcement this week to de-link the Yuan from the Dollar. Krugman's analysis provides some interesting perspective on the perverse policy underpinning the nearly decade-old Chinese dollar fixation and its effects. He warns of discomfort ahead in the housing markets if interest rates rise on a falling dollar.

Read for yourself -- but there is significant possibility of dislocation if the Chinese currency is revalued too quickly may send cause a spike in consumer prices in the US. This could destabilize the US economy and thus, the world economy. Bad things could happen.

Monday, July 18, 2005

What Took Them So Long?

I wonder why this iPod clock Radio, soon to be available from iHome Audio

Bubbles, Bubbles, Toil and Troubles

A cousin of mine just got a plum new job and is thinking of buying a house. When he approached a trusted family friend in the mortgage industry, the broker told him to sit back for a year an continue to rent. A mortgage broker. Told somebody with a really good job to continue renting. Why? Because he perceives that housing prices in that area are unsupportably high and will come crashing down.

This industry professional is not alone. According to a column at MarketWatch, 86% of respondents to a poll see a credit-inspired real estate bubble. Further, "Comments by real estate pros stood out because the housing bubble is likely to be the lead domino triggering a global economic meltdown. Real estate respondents expressed virtually unanimous concerns about this bubble."

At least this column is constructive, though. It does provide sample portfolios to help you get through any bubble-popping-induced recession.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Mozilla for Mac OS X x86 Posted

Josh Aas, the chief developer of Mozilla, posted on his blog about his experience in porting the browser to OS X for Intel. He added a detailed description of the process, in which Apple heavily participated. If you have an x86 developer box, you can install it from this disc image.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

iTunes Phone Under Your Tree

The much-anticipated iTunes cell phones from Motorola and Apple are due to roll out by the Christmas shopping season, according to Businessweek. There is no doubt in my mind that the iTunes phones will are a necessary extension of the iTunes empire. What I don't agree with is the following analysis:

The longer Cingular, Motorola, and Apple wait to get into the market, the more they risk a rival catching fire. On June 15, Napster (NAPS ) and telecom-gear maker Ericsson (ERICY ) announced that they would offer a wireless music service for operators to use.

Meanwhile, startup Mercora, headed by a cofounder of antivirus-software maker McAfee (MFE ), already allows cell-phone users to listen to songs for free. And satellite radio operators XM Satellite Radio (XMSR ) and Sirius (SIRI ) are looking to offer music radio for cell phones. These are just some of the services that could roll out within a year.
As long as iTunes for Mobiles is introduced within two or three months after the startup music stores, Apple probably won't have to worry too much. Why? It seems that the stores that BW touts as iTunes competitors aren't even off the ground yet. It'll take months or perhaps years for them to get online, establish a brand and capture significant market share. Apple and Motorola's tie-up with Cingular will have an established brand, marketing muscle and be leveraging existing infrastructure. If Apple gets this off the ground by 2005Q4, it will absolutely kill competitors.

By the way, it is nice to see Apple and Motorola playing nice. And it is really nice to see Motorola rewarding Cingular for its past loyalty with the V3 RAZR.

Apple Distributing Pr0n

Apple joins major corporations like Time Warner, Comcast and News Corp. as a porn distributor.

Those companies sell pornography through their cable and satellite affiliates. Apple gives it way (for now) through its
podcasting feature on iTunes. And, unlike those television services mentioned above, Apple's sultry podcasts go unlabeled according to I'm sure Apple will catch on and either start labeling them (preferred and probably most likely) or try to filter them (not preferred and tough to police).

P.S. Yes, "porn" is intentionally misspelled in the title.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Atlanta Firm Caught in Southern Company/Mirant Spat

Mirant, the Southern Company's energy trading and supply spinoff, is now in bankruptcy and suing its former parent for allegedly dooming its existence by failing to properly capitalize it. What's bizarre is that the prestigious Atlanta firm of Troutman Sanders represented both the Southern Company and Mirant in those negotiations. I don't know enough about the deal or remember enough from my professional responsibility class to remember if this type of representation is actually unethical. But such representations can easily spiral out of control and create an appearance of impropriety. I know greed is good and greed works, but shouldn't law firms think twice or thrice about representing both sides in the same transaction?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Revised Mac HD Video Ripping Tool

While it sounds obscure, those who have been using their Macs to archive and transcode HD content from a Motorola DCT-6xxx DVR should happily note that Apple has updated the FireWire SDK. The SDK (short for software development kit) contains software that allows Macs running OS X to record content stored on the increasingly common Motorola-brand high-def set top box.

The SDK contains a program called VirtualDVHS, an uncreatively-named virtual DVHS deck. Connect your mac's FireWire port to one of the two on the back of the DCT and fire up VDVHS and you can record whatever show is playing, whether it is live TV or DVR content. This recording is digital, in high definition and beautiful.

And, thanks to the DC Circuit, sans Broadcast Flag!

News Flash: Iraq Insurgency Not in 'Death Throes'

In what should come as a shock only to W, the Dick, Rummy and their band of Merry Men, the top U.S. commander in Iraq said that the Iraqi insurgency is at best as strong as it was six months ago. Flanked by high-ranking field commanders, Rummy testified before a Senate committee today on recent goings on in Iraq.

General John Abizaid, the commander of the multinational forces in Iraq, told members of the committee that he believed "more foreign fighters (are) coming into Iraq than there were six months ago." Repeatedly pressed to confirm or deny the Dick's assertion a few months ago that the insurgency was on its last legs, another top U.S. general in Iraq stated "There's a long way to go here. Things in Iraq are hard."

Teddy Kennedy asked Rummy whether, after hearing his generals' reports, it sounded to him like the insurgency has entered the "last throes" stage. Noting that he had not uttered the "last throes" line, an obviously exasperated Rumsfeld said of Cheney's choice of words: "I didn't use them, and I might not use them."

Friday, June 17, 2005

Frist Misdiagnosed Schiavo

Bill Frist, continues to be plagued by his Senate Floor misdiagnosis of Terri Schiavo. He, of course, denies that he actually diagnosed her. But he told us, at the height of the debate, that he was "speaking more as a physician than as a U.S. senator ... There seems to be insufficient information to conclude that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state," Frist continued, "I don't see any justification in removing hydration and nutrition."

Now, of course, Dr. Frist is bearing false witness: "In a Thursday appearance on ABC's Good Morning America, Frist insisted: 'I raised the question, 'Is she in a persistent vegetative state or not?' I never made the diagnosis, never said that she was not.'" Of course you didn't, Dr. Frist. Must have been the God complex kicking in.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Another Thing to Thank Apple For.

Apple's iPod is being cited as a reason for a rennaisance in radio, where corporate ownership and increasing concentration of the industry has decimated the variety of programming available. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that stations are beginning to greatly expand their playlists to win back former listeners who now simply pop their iPod in their car and go. 99X, the local Atlanta alternative station owned by Susquehana, had been losing listeners for years after going after trailer trash with a lineup of Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and Godsmack. Now it is reinvigorated, playing "Alternative" standards from the 1980s and 1990s as well as modern music.

In fact, 99X DJ Steve Craig recently began stealing a march on the competition by having his own iPod randomly play any of 1,100 '80s songs every Monday for an hour at noon. (This week, his iPod spit out new wave group OMD twice, along with obscure tunes by the Buzzcocks and China Crisis.)

99X has increased its playlist by 20 percent. Other stations, like DAVE FM, have also been increasing playlists. DAVE has gone from about 500, when it was known as Z93, to over 700. Of course, some stations, especially those geared towards middle-aged women, haven't followed suit.

B98.5, a Cox Radio property, sticks with 300 well-researched songs — mostly from the '80s and '90s — 24/7. (B98.5 is part of Cox Enterprises, which also owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.) Since February, the soft rock station has made just three changes: two adds (Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved" and Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway") and one subtraction. (Sheryl Crow's "First Cut is the Deepest.")

Much unlike an iPod, no? Then again, I bet middle-aged women are the worst iPod demographic.

Do Astronauts Sign a Waiver?

I wonder if astronauts' families can sue NASA or its contractors if they are negligent. Challenger was apparently done in by an O-ring that everybody knew would become brittle in near-freezing weather. Did the astronauts sue NASA or Morton-Thiokol? I was only 12 at the time of the Challenger disaster, so I don't recall.

This bit of morbid curiosity is brought to you by the news that the Shuttle Discovery will be launched in July.


This administration and its supporters are wrong on just about every issue that they have considered. Whether it is the excessive tax cuts of the first term, the war in Iraq, the economy, the cost of the prescription drug benefit or how to handle nuclear threats in North Korea or Iran. The latest bungle by these doofuses is the Terry Schiavo matter, in which the Pasco County medical examiner has vindicated the position of the Courts, every treating physician, the husband and any person who rationally considered the matter. Just look at the backtracking:

Bill Frist (who apparently left medicine for politics because he stunk at the former):

Then: "That footage, to me, depicted something very different than persistent vegetative state." - on March 23, after reviewing a videotape of Schiavo

Now: "He never made a diagnosis." - Amy Call, Frist's spokeswoman. The senator said he looked forward to reading the autopsy report.

Mel Martinez:

Then: "Several of Terri's caregivers ... feel that, with proper therapy, she may even be able to learn to eat without a feeding tube." - in a March 16 column for National Review

Now: "I've had second thoughts as to whether a federal review was the right way to go or not."

I'm glad these people wasted the money of the U.S. and Florida taxpayer and raped the concept of Federalism by dragging this stupid thing through the federal legislative and judicial process.

Update: The Vernon and Petunia Dursley of the movement apparently aren't swayed by science, logic or common sense.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Merlin Ported to Intel in Four Days

Project Wizards is a company that makes project management software for Mac OS X. Apparently, they've been busy during Apple's World Wide Developers' Conference, because they have announced that their flagship Merlin product runs natively on Mac OS X for Intel. Hopefully there will be a number of other announcement like these to follow. If there are, it will encourage other developers to move their code to Universal Binaries and bode well for next year's transition.

I don't know how complicated Merlin is. But I do know how complicated Mathematica is, as I am familiar with it from my days at the University of Illinois' Calculus and Mathematica program. The fact that Theo Gray ported Mathematica in two hours is more than impressive. It is shocking. Hopefully Mathematica and Merlin are the first drips out of a gushing faucet.

Update: It looks like another developer has gotten their software to port over, too.

Update 2: Yet another port: Unreal Tournament 2004. And other games, as well.

Update 3: Here's a list of finished ports and commitments.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Just a Few More Apple Posts Left

to meet my yearly quota. Thanks Apple and Intel!

Anywho, here's an interesting thought on the
shifting paradigm of file organization. Due to better search technologies, like Apple's Spotlight and Google's Desktop Search you can make a pretty good argument that filing documents away in client or matter specific folders will become obsolete. As processors and I/O subsystems get faster and hard drive space gets cheaper, indexing file meta-data becomes a much better way to "organize" files than manual filing. And searching for a document in Spotlight becomes a lot easier than drilling down folders.

Monday, June 06, 2005

I Wish I'd Seen This

Earlier. A pretty interesting take (posted before Steve Jobs' announcement) on why moving to Intel makes sense for Apple.

Dogs and Cats Living Together

Apple is moving to x86 hardware. Microsoft is using PowerPC hardware.

It's Official -- Steve Jobs Says Intel Inside

Reports from Apple's World Wide Developers Conference indicates that Apple is moving to Intel CPUs, apparently x86. Steve Jobs indicates that all OS X technologies have been living a double life and run on Intel boxes, too. Wow.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Denali, not Suburban

Faced with declining fortunes, Wal-Mart is apparently trying to lure upscale shoppers to its stores, according to theboxtank. I'm not sure they're going to get wealthier folks into their stores unless they clean those nasty places up, though. Wal-Mart stores have become so decrepit that they actually cause me to have a mood swing when I enter them -- not that I'm even the target "wealthier" customer. Or maybe I am, since I do like to shop at Target and outlet malls.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Quran Kicked, Peed on at Gitmo

You knew the administration was lying, didn't you?

The findings, released after normal business hours Friday evening, are among the results of an investigation last month by Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, the commander of the detention center in Cuba, that was triggered by a Newsweek magazine report — later retracted — that a U.S. soldier had flushed one Guantanamo Bay detainee’s Quran down a toilet.
Now I wonder what Newsweek's yellow-bellied editorial staff will do. I mean, will they still fellate the administration, or will they return to being part of the independent news media?

C|Net: Apple to ditch IBM

This would be a shocking development. But, C|Net is a pretty reliable source.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Now THIS is Why the Internet was Invented

Eff You H2 Yes, I am five years old.

(D/R)eforestation in Vermont

Over at the very fine Volokh Conspiracy, Todd Zywicki blogs about the reforestation of Vermont. Look, judging by what I do for a living, nobody's going to put me in the Greenpeace camp. But I giggle at conservatives that attempt to support deforestation, especially of old growth ecosystems, about the fact that the US may have more forest now than in the 1800s. Of course, I'm not sure if Mr. Zywicki is trying to make that argument, though he seems to imply it, but the instant factoid ignores a couple of things: First, Vermont is a teeny, tiny speck of a state, nevermind Phish and Ben and Jerry's. Second, Vermont's agricultural industry isn't exactly the same as that of the Midwest, or even the south and the far west.

Moreover, the bigger argument out west implies that replacing 100 year-old trees with saplings is an even trade. Of course it isn't. It's more like tearing down the Biltmore Estate, replacing it with a neighborhood of tract homes and arguing that you have more houses than when you started. The conservatives just don't get this one. Loss of old growth habitat is devastating for the local and regional ecosystem and cannot be replaced for hundreds of years (quite literally). Saplings just don't cut it.

Feds Investigate Prius Stalling

Autoblog links to an article in Forbes (who's seemingly been on a automotive journalism kick lately) on the U.S. Highway Traffic Safety Administration's investigation into alleged stalling on highways. Autoblog reports that Toyota recently recalled about 175K cars from Asian markets due to defective brake and fuel systems. Luckily, my parents bought a reliable Honda, rather than a problematic Toyota.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Sith Switch

Well.... I think it's funny.

Image hosted by


ATI's h.264 Hardware Acceleration and Macs

MacHTPC Mac ruminates about a possible upgrade to or extension of the Mac mini line to include ATI graphics chipsets with hardware accelerated HD video rendition using the h.264 MPEG-4 codec. Sounds like an interesting idea. But I'd prefer Apple to take the same approach it took with the AirPort Express with AirTunes only with video -- remember, the AirPort Express has hardware music decoding. In other words, Apple should make an AirPort Express-sized box with built-in h.264 decoding hardware and an HDMI port.

PC Magazine: Tiger is the Best OS

PC World, a Windows-centric magazine, has named Tiger the best Operating System. I agree. It's like having Longhorn's second Service Release in now, rather than in 2007.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Whores Himself Out

The Governornator apparently prominently displayed products made by big campaign contributors in a recent Ad. This is quite bizzare, isn't it? I mean, is a political ad an appropriate vehicle for a nested soda ad? Maybe this is just a sign of the apocalypse?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Dear GM....

More of this:

Less of this:


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Intel CEO: Want Security? Buy a Mac

New Intel CEO Paul Otellini told Wall Street Journal tech writer Walter Mossberg that "[h]e spends an hour a weekend removing spyware from his daughter's computer. And when further pressed about whether a mainstream computer user in search of immediate safety from security woes ought to buy Apple Computer Inc.'s Macintosh instead of a Wintel PC, he said, 'If you want to fix it tomorrow, maybe you should buy something else.'" This should be earth shattering news in the computing world.

GOP Concentrating Power in the Executive?

The Washington Post has a rather interesting article on steps the GOP has taken to establish the primacy of the Executive Branch and more specifically, the chief executive. Comparing the structure to a corporation with a powerful CEO (the President) and a compliant Board of Directors (Congress), the article sweeps across initiatives to limit debate of policy in the legislature, minimize legislative oversight and establish political fiefdoms in the executive agencies. The article goes on to talk about the fact that the next battleground will be the courts, and the threat of the Nuclear Option will prevent future filibusters of judicial candidates.

What's somewhat intriguing is that the criticism of the current Republican efforts in the article are almost all drawn from retired Republican legislators:
"Every president grabs for more power. What's different it seems to me is the acquiescence of Congress," said former representative Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.), a government scholar at the Aspen Institute.
"Anybody with a brain knew once Republicans got their hand on the wheels . . . there was going to be punishment" because they felt silenced and slighted when Democrats were in control, said former senator Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.). "It's unfortunate."
"I would remind my friends that you may one day be in the minority and you won't want to be [run] roughshod over," said former minority leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.), who served in the House for 38 years, 14 as leader.
I wish I had longer to ponder and post about this article, as I think it is a pretty profound one. But I guess my main thought is what will the American public, and libertarian-leaning Republicans, think of this apparent power grab.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Motorola Demoes iTunes Phone

The Unofficial Apple Weblog reports that Motorola demoed the much-rumored iPod/Cell Phone at the D3 conference in San Diego. I wonder how long before this thing comes to market.

Renting is Better than Buying

One of the problems with renting, goes the conventional wisdom, is that, after taxes, it is more expensive to rent than to buy. However, right now, the housing bubble is turning conventional wisdom on it's head. The story linked in The Housing Bubble Blog asks "why buy a home when you can rent for half the cost? ... [W]ith home prices soaring and rents staying flat -- and with the Federal Reserve expressing concern last week over signs of a national housing bubble -- there may be some good economic reasons to consider renting instead of buying."

Revenge of the Sith -- First Thoughts

I was satisfied with Revenge of the Sith. It was certainly the best of the three prequels, and that by a long shot. It was probably better than A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, too. George Lucas toned down the cheesiness present in the first two prequels considerably. Sure, there were a couple of things that made me cringe, including the last scene with Vader and the Emperor, but all in all, the movie was appreciably more grown up. I guess that's more appropriate, in keeping with the themes of this installment, but I wish all three of the prequels would have been equally no-nonsense.

One thing I can't get out of my head (and why I'm posting even though it is nearly 1 AM and I have to go to work tomorrow) is how overtly political Episode III is. Emperor Palpatine has consolidated power in the Executive (USA PATRIOT Act?), has a blinded, fawning legislature (Congress?), controls the courts (see the current dustup in the Senate) and is engaging in a trumped up war to shore up his popular support and "bring peace" to the galaxy (Iraq, duh). Darth Vader even tells Obi Wan "If you're not with me, you're my enemy." And finally, Obi Wan tells Vader that his absolutist worldview will lead to death and destruction. I really have a hard time coming to any other conclusion that Lucas had this all on his mind while writing the movie.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Senator Santorum Compares Democrats to Hitler

Crazy Rick Santorum compares the Democrats' use of the filibuster to Hitler's occupation of Paris. Pretty funny. Of course he gets the facts wrong, too. We didn't bomb Paris. In fact, we went out of our way not to bomb Paris in 1942.

The Senate rules ought to be more like internet message board rules, where the first person to compare his opponent to Hitler or the Nazis automatically loses the argument.

Friday, May 20, 2005

So my parents just bought a new car. They picked up a 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid on Monday. the Hybrid tops the Accord line, and has more power than the standard V-6 model that used to cap the range.

The car looks like a regular Accord V-6, which may explain why it doesn't have the noteriety of the Toyota Prius.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

On Blind Faith

Blind Faith
in your leaders

or in anything
will get you killed.

--- Bruce Springsteen, 1985.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Gator on the Loose

Richmond Channel 8 reports that there is an alligator loose in a nearby reservoir. Beyond the bewilderment at just what an alligator is doing in central Virginia, the article's writing style struck me as just plain odd. Example:

Officials say the gator should not harm you, unless you go up to it and try and catch it yourself. .... Officials are asking that you not come out here to try and see the gator or to provoke him, but if you do spot him, call Police at 748-1251.

I guess the highly conversational style and reference to the reader in the second person caught me off guard. Is there a journalistic convention being violated here or am I just not seeing this type of writing in newspapers and magazines?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Microsoft Developing XBox 360 Titles on Macs

The PowerMac G5 and Microsoft's forthcoming XBox 360 share the IBM-sourced PowerPC CPU. Because of this, Microsoft has been using modified PowerMac G5 computers as development boxes for its next-generation gaming platform, according to ZDNet. Strange bedfellows, I guess.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Mac HTPC is Reporting that Sony's PS3 may Support iTunes

Mac HTPC's report is intriguing. Apple and Sony are both notorious for wanting total control of their products. Sometimes to the detriment of their businesses. I wonder whether these two control freak companies are actually cooperating or whether this is just another unfounded rumor.

(Vicente) Fox Criticized for Anti-Black Comments

Civil Rights leaders in the US are criticizing Mexican President Vicente Fox for saying that illegal...check that...undocumented immigrants take jobs "that not even blacks want to do." Wow.

Back in the Saddle...

I am back to blogging now that I'm back home. Having your hardwood floors refinished is a life-interrupting experience.

Monday, May 02, 2005

From the 'You Get What You Ask For" File

Apparently, John Mason still wants to get married to Jennifer Wilbanks. Should it shock anybody that the guy's also a self-professed Sean Hannity fan?

Microsoft Behind the Wheel?

Bill Gates wants to drive your car. Well, he wants his software to, according to this article. And my entry in the most ironic newspaper line contest, the AP wrote: "Eventually, Gates said, there could be a car that wouldn't let itself crash." And this car that won't crash will be designed by the company that brought us Windows?

Welcome to the Illini, Mr. Semrau

6'9" Richard Semrau commitedto Bruce Weber's Illinois team last night. Ranked in the top 30 by, Semrau averaged 22 points and 13 rebounds per game in his junior year at Lutheran West High School in Rocky River, Ohio. Semrau was also considering Florida, Wake, Carolina and Kentucky. The junior has a combination inside-out game with mobility and range.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

George Allen's Retirement Solution: Sell Your House!

GOP Senator George Allen, Jr., whose claim to fame is that he's the son of a successful football coach, suggested on Meet the Press that retirees should sell their homes to make ends meet in their golden years. Always looking for the bright side, Sen. Allen (R-Va.) suggested that seniors could avoid lawn-mowing and hedge-cutting by doing this. This excerpt sounds downright uncomfortable:
And moreover, in the event that a personal savings account approach is taken, allowing them to invest in a home in addition to right now it's stocks, bonds and other financial instruments, if people can invest in their own home, they'll know it. They'll understand it. They'll take care of it. And they'll enjoy it and they don't have to worry about mergers and acquisitions and scandals and market share. And by the time they retire, they're going to have a pretty good nest egg there and they don't need as big a house, usually, because they don't want to be cutting grass and trimming hedges, and that is good for the economy as well.
But what happens if the housing bubble pops?

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Save this Bear

Absolutely Shameful

The national media should be ashamed of itself for fueling the
Jennifer Wilbanks story. To recap, Ms. Wilbanks was to be married today, but disappeared earlier this week. Because Ms. Wilbanks is a rich, white suburban woman, CNN took this story and ran with it. Was she kidnapped? Was she alive or dead? Who would have done such a thing? (Oh, come on, if this was a poor black woman, do you really think CNN would be carrying the story 24/7?)

She turned up today, safe and sound in New Mexico. What gives? Well, as it turns out, Ms. Wilbanks simply got cold feet and ran. At least that's the public version of the story. Surely there is a backstory. I just don't know what it is.

Update: Ms. Wilbanks committed a few crimes, including lying to police, in this case. I wonder if she'll be charged. Of course, she ought to be.

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Natives are Restless

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I'm blogging today from Dallas, Texas. This morning, I turned on the TV and was flipping channels when I happened upon the local Fox station. They were showing video of W's and the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's stroll, hand in hand, through the wildflowers at his ranch. Over this video, the station was playing irate calls from Texans (presumably) fuming about what they characterized as pandering by Bush. The words "sickened" and "pathetic" floated out of my hotel room TV's speaker. One caller reminded us that the vast majority of the 9/11 hijackers and OBL are Saudis.

Obviously these facts, and the fact of the Bush family's tight relationship with the Saudis, are not new. A fat slob told us this last summer. I wonder why people here in Texas are so pissed off about it now?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Two Days 'til Tiger

And the stories are pouring in. And there are even comparisons to Longhorn, Microsoft's operating system scheduled for release in mid-2006, which will mimic many of Tiger's features.

A380 takes off

The Airbus A380 "Super Jumbo" flew its maiden flight today in France. The double-decked, ultra-large capacity plane is Airbus' first direct competitor to Boeing's 747. Airbus is banking on this plane, which appeals to airlines that make long-haul, high-volume trips between large hub airports, like Singapore or Emarites.

Boeing is taking a different tack, with its 787 Dreamliner. In contast to the A380, the 787 has a lower capacity, but still sports long range capability. This type of plane is ideal for airlines that use a decentralized system or aren't banking on six or seven hundred passengers on a single flight. Air India and Air Canada have recently announced orders for the 787.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

My New Favorite Place

I think I've found my new favorite place, the Pole of Inaccessibility.
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I wonder if anybody has ever been there.  Apparently, the only things left there are a building and, appropriately, a statue of Lenin.

Plug for The Housing Bubble Blog

I want to recommend adding Ben Jones' oft-updated The Housing Bubble Blog to you. This post is pretty typical of the insight Jones brings. Take a look at the linked financials for the three homebuilders, especially the year-over-year inventory numbers. It's a bit scary.


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Can anybody save this bear?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Useless Plastic Men

Tomi's $17 PodBrix are utterly useless but totally cute miniature figures that you can attach to your iPod headphone cable. Really. That's it. That's all they do. Nothing else. Nothing.

Soy Vodka

A couple of nights ago, I was in the Warren and Sarah, the friendly bartendress, offered me a free drink made with 3 Vodka. This vodka is made from soy, rather than potatoes or other grains. It wasn't bad. But I'm a Bourbon man, not a Vodka man, so what do I know?

Here's what I want to know: is it kosher for Passover like potato vodka?

MicroNet miniMate

Over at Mac HTPC, they're blogging about the Micronet miniMate, a device that supplements the Mac mini by adding a bigger hard drive and a USB 2.0/FireWire hub. All of this is built into a form factor that apes the mini. From the publicity photos, the combination looks quite nice.

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Although, let me make one comment to MicroNet: lose the S-Video-like power plug. I have a couple of FireWire enclosures that have this type of plug for power and they make a terrible connection. What ever happened to the mail socket and female plug that used to be standard in computers?

Friday, April 22, 2005

Tiger Ripped...

Think Secret is reporting that Apple's next operating system, 10.4 (aka Tiger), will be available (for free, illegal download) on file sharing systems pretty soon. Don't steal it.

Mac Viruses vs. Windows Viruses

England's Alternative IT paper, The Register, published an article yesterday analyzing Apple's 40% Mac unit growth last quarter. Apple owes this growth to viruses, according to the article. On the Wintel side, viruses, trojan horses and worms are causing IT professionals to bite their nails to the quick.

On the Mac side, the iPod's "halo effect" and Wintel (in)security fears have caused an upsurge in interest in the Mac as an alternative to the insecurity of Wintel and inelegance of Linux. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Apple has moved quietly in the Enterprise space with its XServe products and with SMB and other Windows integration. Finally, the real geeks of the IT world have recognized that Apple computers represent a simple, cheap and attractive entré into the world of UNIX computing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Bollywood's Casting Couch

The Washington Post reports on an Indian TV sting operation, which caught Bollywood actors, Hindu "holy men" and government officials trading sex for favors. India TV aired a series of videotaped sting operations in which famous actors and supposed ascetics alike traded advancement and spiritual guidance (respectively, of course) for sex. But rather than being saluted as exposing the underbelly of the world's largest film industry and the largest religion in India, the operation is being denounced as trash journalism. Even by other journalists.

Roll Your Own NIN

Trent Reznor, better known as Nine Inch Nails, has released an upcoming NIN song, The Hand that Feeds, on the internet as a GarageBand file. GarageBand is a multitrack audio recording program for the rest of us. "GarageBand lets you easily perform, record and create your own music. Whether you're an experienced or aspiring musician. Or just want to feel -- and sound -- like a rock star. ... And when all your tracks are in place, you can view them in full music notation and take advantage of new GarageBand features to enhance the tuning and timing of your recordings."

Check out the official NIN Blog to download the file. It is 70 MB and you'll need GarageBand to play it, so don't bother if you don't have the requisite hardware and software. NIN's next album, With Teeth, will be released on May 3, 2005.

Just a brief comment on this. This release is pioneering stuff, breaking down, somewhat, the separation between artist and listener. I hope it will result in a wave of fan-generated music, sort of like fan fiction. And I hope that other artists will take notice, and make similar raw materials available for fans and artists alike.

More on America's Imbalances...

The Economist talks up the point that I have blogged about recently, warning that America's trade and budget deficits put the world economy in a precarious position. According to the newsmagazine, while world finance ministers, who met in Washington recently, were fretting about the high price of oil, they were ignoring the distortions caused by America's twin deficits.
This calm may explain why the world's finance ministers have done so little to wean themselves off their addiction to American-led growth and why they spent so much of their time in Washington fretting about oil. That is a pity, for while the oil price seems to be the most imminent risk, the size and rate of growth of the global imbalances are the real reason to worry. And as Rodrigo Rato, the head of the IMF, warned at the weekend, the time to address these imbalances is now, when good economic conditions -- in America, and globally -- can ease the pain of the transition.

Update: Paul Volker also recently threw his considerable intellectual weight into the ring on this issue in the Washington Post. I'll try to find a link.

Update Two: Here's the link.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Why Lord, Why?!?!?!?

Columbia Pictures is set to release Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. Watch a trailer, if you dare! What morons are footing the bill for this one? I mean, not only was the first movie stupid and bad, it was long enough ago that surely what little buzz there may have been for a sequel has died off. Rob Schneider, this is why you're the homeless man's Adam Sandler! Damn you to hell!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Loving Freedom

All the news outlets are reporting that Capitol Police jumped a guy in a black suit carrying luggage near the Capitol Building. The latest reports don't tell us what was in those bags or anything. And the picture accompanying the Reuters story hardly extolls the virtues of the freedom for which our soldiers are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Leaky Mel

Florida Senator Mel Martinez's office called the Terry Schiavo situation "a great political issue." It isn't the cynicism in the memo that is shocking. Issues are reduced to political formulae all the time. What is shocking, however is the hypocrisy in that memo. Conservatives have tried to paint those who sided with Mr. Schiavo as immoral, part of the "culture of death." The memo trumpeted the Schiavo affair as "a great political issue ... and a tough issue for Democrats." To me, though, there is nothing more anti-life than trying to make political hay a legitimate dispute over end-of-life issues. If the politics didn't appear right, I guess Mr. Martinez's office wouldn't have given the Schindlers the time of day. What's lost in this is Mel's yellow-bellied description of how the memo turned up in the first place. Here's the description:
Martinez, in his statement, said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, had asked for background information on the bill ordering a federal court to review the Schiavo case. He said he pulled a one-page document from his coat pocket and handed to Harkin. "Unbeknownst to me ... I had given him a copy of the now infamous memo." He said Harkin had called him earlier Wednesday to say he believes the memo had been given to him by Martinez. The Florida senator said he then ordered an internal investigation in his office.
Boy, it's too bad a U.S. Senator can't keep his papers straight. I can see the headline now, "With Egg on Face, Senator Martinez Scrambles to Poach Aide."

Dissension in the Ranks?

It seems like some members of the GOP are publicizing the internal squabbles over the heart and soul of the Republican Party. The party usually does a great job of keeping such fights secret, but Connecticut Senator Chris Shays is not easily gagged, I guess. He is now publicly calling for the resignation of Tom DeLay.

I don't know if this is a resurgeance or merely the final death throes of the sane wing of the GOP. I know a lot of people like me, who would like to vote Republican, or at least think they could, but who are so turned off by the Bible-thumping, Deficit-inflating GOP personified by W and DeLay that they get physically sick at the thought of doing so. How bizarre is it to long for the relatively moderate politics of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich....

Interstingly, even arch-conservative Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania admonished the House Majority Leader: "I think he has to come forward and lay out what he did and why he did it and let the people then judge for themselves." Et tu, Rick?

Back after a Hiatus and Mourning Period

I've been pretty slack on the posts lately. But after a weekend in St. Louis and a week of mourning the Fighting Illini, I'm back.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


So I made a movie of the Illinois/Arizona tilt using iMovie HD. I actually have the linked clip in HD format on my computer at home. iMovie HD is absolutely amazing. For $15, I can edit movies in full high definition format.

Year of the Rat

Coach K's year, deconstructed.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


Illinois Fighting Illini Michigan State Spartans

Edit: I guess I ought to explain myself. A couple of times, I have mentioned that I didn't really buy the conventional wisdom that the Big Ten is down this year in basketball. See this post and the links therein.

Orange Rush

I'm still awfully giddy about the win last night. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that last night's Illinois-Arizona game should go down alongside Duke-Kentucky in 1992 and North Carolina-Kansas in 1957 among the greatest college basketball games ever played. And I hope I would say the same thing had Hassan Adams' desperation three gone in at the end of overtime.

Because I'm still too hopped up on adrenaline to think straight, I'm just going to aggregate blog posts and interstice articles here.
Mark Tupper blogs that he's "still trying to figure out what happened a few hours ago when I sat courtside for the greatest college basketball game I've ever covered." Mike DeCourcey writes that Illini Assistant Jay Price and the rest of us saw "the greatest comeback in NCAA tournament history." Bill Rhoden writes in the New York Times that "Just like that, Illinois leaped back to life: a 3-pointer, a basket in the lane, a score after a steal, a basket and then a steal, leading to another basket. ... The Illini miracle continues" BigTenWonk must have put a pot of coffee on after the game because already has gobs of things to say.

One original thought, though.
Looking back, anybody that saw the Michigan game at Crisler Arena this year -- especially that sequence Dee Brown had in the second half -- knows exactly where Illinois' comeback came from. Remember this? "Brown turned three straight steals into baskets, including the go-ahead three-point play, and scored 16 points to keep the Illini undefeated with a 57-51 victory over Michigan on Tuesday night." That's where it came from. Only on a bigger stage.


Saturday, March 26, 2005

His Orval Faubus Moment....

I'm so glad it is march madness season. Otherwise, I'd be getting myself worked up over Jeb Bush's complete and utter lack of respect for, among other things, the sanctity of marriage and the federal Constitution. Jeb, like Orval Faubus, Bull Connor and George Wallace, tried to use state law enforcement to disobey the orders of the federal courts. His use of the Schiavo case for political grandstanding is sickening.
Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo wasn't to be removed from her hospice, a team of Florida law enforcement agents were en route to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted - but they stopped short when local police told them they would enforce the judge's order, The Miami Herald has learned. Agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told police in Pinellas Park, the small town where Schiavo lies at Hospice Woodside, that they were on the way to take her to a hospital to resume her feeding. For a brief period, local police, who have officers around the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called a showdown. In the end, the state agents and the Department of Children and Families backed down, apparently concerned about confronting local police outside the hospice.
What's worse, Jeb's irresponsible actions not only ignored the federal decisions in the case, but also the state courts' decisions with respect to the right of a husband to exercise authority over medical decisions for his wife. Luckily, cooler heads have prevailed and the Florida Stasi decided not to violate federal and state law to "seize" Ms. Schiavo. One issue that this incident raises is whether, in an extreme situation, W would order federal assets to enforce the orders of the federal courts. That the answer to this is not obviously yes is troubling to me.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Bruce Weber: Naismith Award Winner

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today that the Atlanta Tipoff Club will name Bruce Weber the Naismith Coach of the Year.

Bruce Weber, who led Illinois to a No. 1 national ranking and a No. 1 tournament seed, is the Naismith Men's College Coach of the Year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club will announce today. Weber already was named Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading Illinois to its second consecutive conference title.
Congratulations, Coach Weber!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Shyam Reddy for Georgia Secretary of State

My friend and colleague, Shyam Reddy, is running for Georgia Secretary of State. Shyam has been an associate at my firm for the past several years. He is smart, articulate and forthright. Go Shyam!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Open Mic Night

There's an eye (ear?) -opening discussion among Illinois media types about the Pearl and Deon Thomas issue. Apparently, somebody forgot to turn a mic off during the media luncheon and several folks with memories dating back to the early 1990s can be heard discussing the matter. Here's the link to the Real Audio file. Pearl, Booby Knight and others are implicated in what sounds somewhat like conference-wide animosity to Lou Henson's recruiting practices. The first 25 minutes or so comprise the Illinois presser, after that, it's lots of fun.

Update: The audio has been cut down so as to remove the offending discussion. Too bad.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Bruce Pearl

Taylor Bell and Clyde Travis of the Chicago Sun-Times explain why the Illini Nation hates Bruce Pearl. Deon Thomas was one of the most coveted recruits in the nation, coming out of Chicago's Simeon High School in 1989. Iowa and Illinois competed mightily for his letter of intent. Bell and Travis write "we were closer to it than any other journalists. We taped an exclusive two-hour conversation with Thomas, gave depositions to attorneys representing Illinois, did extensive background checks on other key figures involved in the controversy and wondered why the NCAA never bothered to probe into Thomas' allegations of Pearl's improprieties."

To Illini fans, this investigation knocked the program from its national power track back into the Big Ten's backwaters. I entered the University just after the NCAA placed Illinois on probation. Looking back through the lens of law school, it is pretty clear to me that the NCAA's role was that of Rev. John Hale from The Crucible, not that of an even-handed investigator searching for the truth. The NCAA found no merit in Pearl's accusations, but slapped Illinois with sanctions anyway, for "lack of institutional control."

And, as Bell and Travis note, the NCAA never investigated Iowa's part in this saga. This, despite the fact that Iowa was paying Thomas' classmate to report on his every move. Despite Thomas' claim that Pearl took him and his teammates around town in Amsterdam and paid for lunch. And despite Thomas' claim that Pearl offered to double whatever Thomas got from Illinois. No investigation of Iowa at all.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Differences of Opinion

In article Mark Tupper writes that Illinois' Coach Weber and Nevada's Coach Fox had a few differences of opinion on why Illinois beat Nevada to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Tupper writes:
Maybe defense isn't everything

Illinois held Nevada to 37 percent shooting and frustrated Wolf Pack center Nick Fazekas, the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, into 5-of-20 shooting.

Not all impressive apparently.
Well, KU did hold Nevada to 28% shooting, so maybe Coach Fox has a point.

Moving on....

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Here are some of my random thoughts after the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament:
  • It's not something the team should be particularly proud of, but Illinois seems to be playing about 10-12 points better than its competition. That's fine because a 10-12 point margin of victory's not such a bad thing. But it is troublesome because Wisconsin is better than Nevada, who is better than Minnesota, who is better than Penn State, who is better than Fairleigh Dickinson. Yet, the margin in each of those games was between 10 and 12 points. I hope the team really does know its throttle, and won't find itself in a hole with no gas in the tank. (In other words, I hope we that the team has the appropriate amount of motivation to come out against a very good but totally unknown Wisconsin-Milwaukee team. If we come out an play like we did against FDU, we're toast. If we come out and play like we did against Nevada, we're in a dogfight. If we come out and play like we did against Bucky, we should win.)
  • Speaking of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I hope the team realizes how much the Illinois fanbase despises UW-M coach and former Iowa assistant Bruce Pearl.
  • Surprises:
    • The overall strength of the non-major conference teams. I mean, Bucknell beat preseason number one Kansas, for goodness sake! Even the teams that lost in the first round showed plenty of pluck. Illinois was only up by a point on FDU at halftime. Delaware State kept within arm's reach of Duke for a goodly portion of the game. And, as we all know, UWM, Vermont and the aforementioned Bison all won.
    • The weakness of the Big East. Six Big East teams made the tournament, but only two remain.
    • The strength of the Big Ten. Five teams in the tournament. Three remain. Same as the ACC.
    • West Virginia. I thought Pittsnogle and crew would be done in by Dana Altman's Blue Jays. Oops!
    • N.C. State. I thought the 'Pack would find themselves Sendek'd much earlier.
    • Texas Tech. I'm not a Bobby Knight fan, but I am pleasantly surprised by his bringing the boys from Lubbock to the Sweet Sixteen.
  • Non-surprises:
    • Wake Forest's flameout. I bet a friend a steak dinner that Duke would last longer in the tournament than the _eamon _eacons. What's bizarre is that the friend is a Duke grad. Let this be a lesson to everybody: teams that don't play defense do not advance very far in the NCAA tournament.
    • North Carolina's dominance. North Carolina will absolutely kill teams that don't have the kinds of athletes it does. However, it will be bothered by athletic teams that play smart basketball and defense. In other words, look for them to have some trouble in the Elite Eight or Final Four, but not before. The 'Heels are still not where Roy needs them to be in the defense and decisionmaking departments. I wonder if they'll get there this year. If they do, they'll win it all. If they don't, not so much.
    • James Augustine. Auggie has been a quiet stud for Illinois this year, overshadowed, it seems, by the three guards and Rev. Powell. In the background, Augustine won two Big Ten Player of the Week Awards and was named a third team All Big Ten selection. Lately, however, he's gotten loud. Augustine was named MVP of the Big Ten Tournament. He dunks with authority, yelling and pumping his fist as he lands. And, against Nevada, he shot 9 for 11, scoring 23 points, had two blocks and four steals.
I can't wait till next week!