Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Little FInancial Advice

Press: Too Much and Too Little

I see a theme emerging here.

I mentioned the FCC requirement that a percentage of all media coverage refer to Brett Favre. This sparked a post from Auggie about the overwhelming publicity of Brady-related non-stories. That in turn prompted frequent (but erratic) commenter "JD" to snipe sarcastically about Tiger.

Here are two lists. A partial list of things that seem to get too much press and a partial list of things I think should get more "ink". Feel free to help me round them out.

Too Much:
1. Favre
2. Brady
3. Tiger
4. Steroids
5. Obama's Dog
6. Celebrity political opinions
7. Polls
8. The Dow
9. Housing prices

Too Little:
1. Korea testing missiles (this one is getting some run)
2. NFL players life expectancy of 57
3. US and European obesity rates among children
4. Increased smoking among teens
5. 42 separate wars on the planet right now
6. Disparity of education quality between inner-city and suburbs
7. What Would Den Say Blog

Any thoughts?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Speaking of Quarterbacks . . .

Contributed by Auggie

OK, OK, OK. Brady hurt his knee, had surgery, and is now participating in the team's OTAs. He's ahead of schedule but we won't know how he reacts meantally until the real games start. WE GET IT!! God forbid a sports "reporter" would report about actual football stuff. Why do any real work when you can just show a close up of Brady's knee and then talk about it for 30 minutes . . . every . . .freaking . . . day!! And then for good measure, daily written updates in every sports publication around. Really, how much is there to say?

Ok, I feel better now. You're right Den, this blogging racket is a bit therapeutic.

Requisite Favre Post

As a blogger, I am akin to a member of the media. As such, there are certain immutable, FCC regulations by which I must abide. One of those is that no less than 5% of my writing must be about Brett Favre.

So I guess Fran Tarkenton has issues with Brett. I could speculate on the source of those issues but I generally try to avoid playing amateur psychologist. Ah, what the heck, I think he's jealous that Brett now holds records he once held and is afraid of being displaced in the conversation about great Vikings QB's. If Favre goes to Minnesota for a season or two and (gasp) wins a SuperBowl with their highly talented roster of current players, many might equate him with the Vikings greatest success and drop Fran from his current perch atop that particular discussion.

Tarkenton went on the radio yesterday and absolutely lambasted Farve. Seems like he is also harboring some thinly veiled anger toward the Vikings and all NFL owners as well. You can read his rant here and click through to hear the audio clip if you wish.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Freedom and Justice for All. Unless You're Gay.

Unbelievably, against all evidence of a progressive mindset, the California Supreme Court has decided that gay people are not entitled to the full set of human rights that most of us enjoy. Marriage is a right that has been taken off their table.

The argument (a word which barely applies here) is that we must protect the sanctimony of the word "marriage" and restrict it to unions between a man and a woman. We must do this to protect children.

Here's a newsflash: the institution of marriage has bigger problems than the sexual orientation of it's participants. My young children already have a command of terms like step-father, half sister, ex-wife, and single mother. One may pretend that we all live in happy, nuclear families but let's be honest. Pretending as much will be unlikely to fool the children we hope to protect with this idealistic view. They are living a different reality and know otherwise.

I say it makes no sense to shield marriage from same-sex unions when so many other (more prevalent) threats are already tearing it apart. And if such a protection initiative involves denying basic rights to large chunks of the population, it is really not a defensible idea.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Praise for Portland, ME

I was very pleased to see Portland, Maine at the top of this year's Forbes list of Most Livable Cities in America. Even if I'm not sure I agree.

Don't get me wrong. I lived in Portland, loved every minute of it, would be happy to move back, and give it very high marks for livability (if that's a word). But top of the list?

I guess I can't name one I'd rank any higher but I've only lived in a few. There must be some really great ones out there.


Some of you know that I don't get too riled about the extinction of a species.

I do not condone, in any way, reckless human endeavors that endanger the environment or upset ecosystems but I accept that more than 99% of all species that ever inhabited the earth have vanished. I also accept that the millions of species currently frolicking about will also, one day, be gone.

The earth has changed radically since it first cooled into shape some 4 billion years ago and the forms of life it sustains have necessarily evolved. This is a perpetual process and it will not stop.

It goes without saying that I hope man does not contribute to these changes in any meaningful way. Like you, I would prefer ecological transformation at a slow rate, slow enough to allow evolutionary forces to perpetrate an abundance of diverse life. However, even mother nature can act quickly in this regard.

For example, a massive earthquake could trigger hyper-volcanic activity which could fill the sky with ash and plunge the earth quickly into a deep ice age bringing a rapid, mass-extinction to our era. A wily virus could devastate the earth's vegetation, deplete the atmosphere of oxygen, and kill all but the few remaining anaerobic life forms. I could go on but the point is clear; sudden change could happen through myriad, unstoppable natural phenomena.

More likely, change will continue on pace with the slow crawl of ecological time. Temperatures and sea levels will rise and fall and re-draw the shorelines of today's continents as they bump and slide across the tectonic foundations of the earth's crust. The mixture of gasses in the atmosphere will fluctuate with the consumption and production of the earth and all it's organisms. And although the earth's trajectory and proximity to the sun are not beyond alteration by the interactive gravitational forces between all of the massive bodies hurtling through space and time, it will likely remain in a sustainable orbit for billions of years to come.

So, let's do what we can to avoid the sudden changes that would render the planet inhospitable to our current evolved forms. But, at the same time, let's not forget that our species, along with every other species we know, is only here for a brief, brief time and the conditions that sustain us will certainly change.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Top 5 Light Hearted Comedies

Unlike the my list of prettiest baseball plays, this list can be legitimately challenged by the imaginary readership. I haven't seen all that many movies but, when recently pressed to name some favorite comedies, I came up with the following:

1. My Cousin Vinny ("Oh, a counta auwffa")
2. Princess Bride ("Inconceivable")
3. Anchor Man ("Whale anatomy")
4. Groundhog Day ("Oui")
5. Monty Python - Search for the Holy Grail ("Blue, no yellow")

OK, which ones did I miss?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Missing Link

Here it is folks! Very Exciting. Read more here.

Gotta Love Met's Fans

I don't know what stereotypical bias I harbor against Met's fans but, in my mind, this story could only happen to one of them. Maybe a Phillies fan, maybe....but probably not.

So the Met's were about midway through last night's loss to the Braves when one of their faithful followers wandered into the restroom outside of section 338 and promptly, inexplicably, lost a gold tooth into the latrine. Reflecting on the sizable investment she had undoubtedly made in her shiny symbol of material success, she immediately decided to go in after it.

Yes, public restrooms tend to be filthy and high volume joints like those at sports stadiums must be near the top of the list in that regard. But a gold tooth is a gold tooth and if your peeps expect you to rock a grill full of bling, you can't show up in section 338 looking like Michael Strahan all of a sudden. She had to get it out. That's when the story got good.

As you may have guessed, she got her hand stuck down in there and wound up spending a couple of hours sitting in slime with the toilet flushing on her arm the entire time. Plumbers were called to the scene and had to disassemble the toilet to set her free.

Apparently, the crowd following the toilet-tooth incident rivaled the crowd following the game. The tooth was never recovered. Go Met's.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Approved Forms of Litter

When I become Commander of All Things, a likely career step in my future, I will be making some pretty big changes. For example, here is a list of currently approved forms of litter, all of which will be banned under my reign:

1. Flyers left on the front doorknob of my home from cleaners, painters, and roof guys
2. Coupons left on the windshield of my car by restaurants and clubs
3. Little baggies of rocks thrown into my driveway by landscapers
4. Sales flyers deposited into my mailbox by anyone other than a US Postal worker
5. Stickers left on the door handle of my car
6. Mini-flags planted in my front yard by real estate agents
7. Anything else I think of before becoming the Commander of All Things

I will also crack down on one that is already illegal but inexplicably accepted by many: cigarette butts. Who started the idea that stubs are OK to flick onto the ground and why has that idea caught on?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Long Live Newspapers

I'm hip, I'm fly, I'm phat. I get technology. I'm down with Web 2.0 and I am all for progress, dog.

Alright, I'm faking it. I might as well come clean: I like newspapers. Does that make me a troglodyte?

They should be easy to eschew. Big flapping sheets of tissue paper that smear ink on your hands and have a shelf life of a few hours but an afterlife (in the landfills) of a hundred years or so. Not very green. Not even very timely given the 11pm deadline for the next morning's news.

So what's to like?

I guess it's that they've been an enjoyable part of my day for too many years. Just imagining the quiet of the dawn with a hot cup of coffee and a crisply folded daily puts me into a relaxed but anticipatory mood. It's a ritual that can get me ready for just about any type of day. I can't imagine that they could one day (and a soon day at that) all be gone.

But I know they could be.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cool Things With No Purpose

I encounter cool things with no apparent purpose often enough that this could actually become a regular feature on WWDS.

In 1998, Elisabetta and I drove from Maine to Southern California making the usual four day trip in remarkable time (21 days). We veered around a bit (drove a couple hundred miles out of our way to see a dinosaur's footprint), took long lunches, and saw many sites along the way.

This is a shot I took at the Cadillac Graveyard. It's a bunch of Caddy's buried nose down in a corn field in the middle of no where (Amarillo, Texas).

Thursday, May 14, 2009


My approach to the mail is to let it pile up for a couple of weeks at a time and then, when it claims too much real estate on my desk, I open it all and process it. I just tackled a pile that had probably been growing for three weeks.

Not unlike the usual pile, this one had many unsolicited offers for which I have been "pre-approved". What exactly does that mean?

Based on my understanding of English, it means that I haven't been approved yet. The conclusion of an approval process demarcates pre-approved and post-approved. Right?

So why do these companies use this message? Are they language flunkies who do not realize they are rubbing in our faces the fact that we are "not approved"? Or are they hoping that we will all consistently and miraculously draw the exact opposite conclusion that we are actually post-approved?


Flying through Lightning

I know it doesn't sound safe but radar technologies allow planes to fly adjacent to electrical storms without really entering the danger zone. In my opinion, doing so affords a viewing opportunity that is difficult to beat in terms of sheer grandeur.

Last night, I sat on the runway in a 767 at O'Hare in a driving rainstorm awaiting a break in the weather so we could take off for Los Angeles. When the tower gave the word, the pilots maxed the thrusters, got us airborne almost instantly, and then banked a hard right turn up through a seam in the storm. As we climbed through a wall of black clouds, the view outside of my window was one that will stay with me.

I was sitting just ahead of the wing so, from my vantage point, the forward-facing spotlight on the wingtip illuminated the rain spectacularly. At 700 MPH or so, it looked like we were flying through a river. When we emerged through the roof of the lower cloud bank, I could see that we had entered a lateral chamber between the lower cloud bank and another one thousands of feet above. Inside this chamber, we appeared to be completely surrounded by jagged bolts of electricity flashing at a rate of about once per second. Each white-hot bolt, one more brilliant than the next, turned the night sky into a purple backdrop hovering over a rumpled terrain of white and yellow clouds and beneath a ceiling of black and blue clouds.

I know how distances are distorted in the sky when there is no object of known size to help you gain perspective so I am sure the closest bolts were not likely within 50 miles of the plane. Nonetheless, it felt like we were in the center of the storm and the visual effect was mesmerizing.

Monday, May 11, 2009

HBO Alzheimer's Project: Commentary

Last night was the first portion of this 4-part documentary (continuing tonight and tomorrow night). It focused on showing what life is like for several Alzheimer's patients and their families at various stages of the disease.

I am fairly close to this disease in the respect that I see real AD patients and their families almost daily. It is an emotionally charged experience when people come face-to-face with such a terrible disease and begin to slowly lose a person (either a loved one or themselves) to a progressive decline of cognitive and functional abilities. Even with my daily exposure to the pain that so many suffer from this disease, I found the show powerfully stirring.

Going forward, this documentary will focus more on the science of the disease and the prospects for better treatment in the future. Because there is such a low level of understanding about Alzheimer's disease, I am encouraging everyone to tune in and watch.

More details are available at the HBO site.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What do WWDS Imaginary Readers Look Like?

Here is one hitting a 1-iron off the eastern face of Tumbledown Mountain.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Switch Pitcher

Contributed by Auggie

As a young baseball fan I would often bat opposite handed in the hopes of becoming a legitimate switch hitter. Then I had the bright idea “what if I could throw with both hands”? What an advantage that would be - simply switch hands depending on which side of the plate the batter was hitting from. Not to mention the arm strain you could save by switching it up. Why hadn’t anyone done this yet?

I immediately set out to improve the coordination in my ‘other’ hand by performing a multitude of daily tasks. It wasn’t easy but I was a determined young fool. Then one day while enjoying a hearty plate of macaroni and cheese I over shot my target and accidently performed rhinoplasty surgery on myself with a fork. I realized then what a daunting task it would be to develop the requisite coordination in this arm. If I couldn’t even feed myself then punching out Wade Boggs with a nasty slider down and away seemed like, well, too much work really.

Now I am happy to report there is hope of witnessing this phenomenon. A forward-thinking father realized that to develop these skills you need to start young, and so he trained his son to throw with both hands at a very early age as told in this story by ESPN’s Rick Reilly. I for one will be watching with interest.

The End of My Innocence

This one caught me by surprise. The evidence strongly suggests that Manny Ramirez is a steroid user and he has been suspended by MLB for 50 games in accordance with their banned substance abuse policy.

Who's next? Jeter? Youk? Santana? Is anyone legal?

My reaction to this story is the manifestation of MLB's worst nightmare. I have lost my ability to believe that the game is mostly clean. Now I think cheating is the norm.

I have written that I don't think steroids make a major impact on hitting and I stand by that. But I do think that using them is cheating and it changes my perspective on the game if it appears that a high percentage of the game's stars are cheaters.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Brett Favre and the Media

I don't know why there is such a range of emotion about Brett Favre among so many members of the media. It is really baffling; these are my thoughts.

I was never a big fan but I can't deny that he played for a long time, put together a remarkable string of consecutive starts by playing through the pain of minor injuries, had lots of success in terms of Super Bowls and league MVP's, stayed out of legal trouble, was a good teammate, didn't make greedy and unreasonable salary demands or pull free agent stunts to gain wealth, and was open and accessible to the fans and media.

Sounds to me like the formula for a "good guy" in this age of WR's who carry unregistered guns to NY night clubs, QB's who torture dogs across the south, and corner backs who act so bad, new laws get invented in Tennessee just to contain them. As I said, I was never a big Favre fan but couldn't really dislike anything about him either. And surely, his career has been impressive.

I guess it must have been a bit stressful for Packer fans and front office executives to live through his indecisiveness each year regarding retirement but is that really a big deal? Isn't it pretty easy to understand that an aging player, who feels drained at the end of the season and doesn't want to commit to his team for another year unless he is sure he has the will to give it his all, feels a bit torn before making a decision one way or the other?

As you know from earlier posts (I am sure you have all committed my writings to memory), I believe pro athletes should play for as long as they (1) want to, and (2) can make the roster. There is no honor in "going out on top" if you still want to play. In fact, it is cowardly to walk away just so no one will see that age has diminished your skills. If you are good enough to claim a roster spot and come off the bench, and your will is there, you should play.

So back to the media. I cannot believe the vitriol I am hearing over Brett's alleged meeting with the Vikings and his possible participation in the league for another year. Successful QB's are in high demand and there are not enough to go around. He still has skills, the Jets released him, and he may want to play another year. What's the big deal?

He is not "selfish", he is not "an attention whore", and he is not "sticking it to the Packers". He is just pursuing a career in the NFL.

Attention angry media hacks: save the vituperative diatribes for more deserving topics. If you are tired of covering Favre, don't cover him. Roll the dice and see if you can capture the nation's attention with a story you actually research and report. You know, journalism?

It's not his fault the public is curious about him and I doubt anyone is holding a gun to your head to work at your job; feel free to become plumbers.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More Good Baseball Trivia

Here you go imaginary readers -- let's see if anyone can dethrone Pete Dore.

Question: Who is the only pitcher in MLB history to have won 2 "Game 7's" in the world series?

As with the last trivia, the answer is a notable MLB player.

Remember the "answer code"; it is written backwards with a "b" on either side of each letter

Answer: bnbosbbbibgb bbbobbb

Monday, May 4, 2009


When I wrote last week about misplaced moral outrage, I wasn't intending to take a stance for or against waterboarding; I was merely expressing what I thought was a big hole in the public discourse.

The topic seemed interesting among my imaginary readers so I am passing on the results of a survey conducted by the congressman from my district. He posed the following statements and asked his constituency to indicate if they agreed (agreeing percentages indicated):

a) Waterboarding is justified under circumstances such as these because of the consequences. 77.58%
b) Waterboarding is never justified regardless of the consequences and the act itself has its own societal consequences. 17.28%
c) Undecided. 5.14%

Based on what I read, these results surprised me. I guess the news stories are simple artifacts of the ongoing partisan feuds in Washington and not necessarily indicative of a deep and bitter schism among the masses.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Living on Top of the World

It's been more than a decade since I left Hong Kong but I still recall, with vivid fondness, how much I loved living there. I took this shot of the harbor from my bedroom window.

Friday, May 1, 2009

What's in a motto?

Contributed by Auggie

I see where New Hampshire is still the only state in the nation without a mandatory seat-belt law for adults. As far as I can tell, the biggest obstacle to passing a law is the state motto which is "live free or die". Ok then. I'm not sure that wearing a seat belt falls within the spirit of the motto, but like any law, bill of rights etc., one can twist the meaning any way they want to make the point they want.

State Senator Peter Bragdon engages in a little extreme extrapolation (see earlier post Non sequiturs), when he argues "Some of the most serious accidents happen while people are walking. Should we require people to wear helmets while walking?" Again, if I had the opportunity I would return the insanity and say "So Pete, why do you have any traffic laws at all? Who has the right to tell you how fast to go or when you should stop?" And you wonder why it's called the 'Peter Principle'?

Look, I don't really know if seat belt laws make a difference or not because they are difficult to enforce. But I just find it bewildering that a state motto would influence a law making decision. Remember, the motto doesn't necessarily describe the state's culture - it was made the motto by government officials, and now it's being used by officials in their decision making process.