Tuesday, December 27


+ For my part, since the first letter of 'Christ' in Greek is 'chi' (x), and I normally abbreviate Christ with 'X' (and 'Christian' with 'Xian'), I have no problem with abbreviating 'Xmas' and feeling I've left 'Christ' in it. YMMV (Your mileage may vary).

+ Another thought about the observance of Christmas: Many Christians lament the lack of 'Christ' in Christmas, and I'd say they have a good point. Seems to me that one good way to counteract that deficiency, if it's not too high church for you, and in obvious addition to deemphasizing material gifts, is to embrace the traditional seasons of the liturgical church calendar. Thereby, we're actually been in Advent, waiting for the coming of Christ. Now and for the next 10 days (12 in all, which should ring a bell) we're in the Christmas season, Christmastide, if you like. Be counter-cultural. Celebrate Christmas now.

+ Some people will say: it's origins are in a pagan holiday, so it's all a bunch of rot. I disagree. It's origins are the birth of Christ. Some Saturnalia traditions and timing were adopted and adapted. To get theologically and missiologically technical, it can be culturally contextual without being encultured. Macon has some good things to say about this topic.

+ At risk of nullifying my previous point (which I don't think has to be), a few little gift updates. Some of us banded together and bought Wil 'Lego Star Wars' and we've played it a couple times a day for the last 3 days. That, plus the previous week of 'Mario Party 7' finds him this morning with... Nintendo elbow (his right, I think). Poor boy. He doesn't really want to rest it, either. We'll keep you posted.

Bethy got a Holiday (not Xmas) Angel Barbie, a nursery for her baby dolls, and the Felicity (American Girls) DVD.

What was Christine's favorite present? I don't know. I guess I haven't asked, yet (Bad husband! *slaps own hand*). She got herself some biscotti and I ordered (through her folks) a non-broken kitchen timer (hoping the tone will drive me less crazy than her current two broken ones).

+ For myself, I like Wil's presents pretty well ;-). And I didn't get anything else major (besides my share of the Nintendo), because I'm saving for an iPod (or some similar tool). More on that later.

+ I hope you have a merry Christmas, should you so choose, these next 10 days (my next 3 will be cluttered, unfortunately, with trying again to get my CDL).

Words and RotS

(Posted from last week)

+ Usually good for a laugh, Matthew 'Yeti' has his guide to watching 'Revenge of the Sith' , what parts to cut out, and why. I couldn't agree with him more: midichlorians are stupid and 'the Prophecy' was not remotely adequately explained.

+ Reading my etymology of the day (that's what I get it for):

Vociferous  derives  from  Latin vociferari, "to shout, to cry  out" from vox, "voice" + ferre, "to carry."

Guess what that makes me sing? 'Hush, hush, keep it down, down. Voices carry.

+ Speaking of Word of the Day, I really liked this explanation:

Sub  rosa  comes  from  the Latin, literally "under the rose," from the ancient association of the rose with confidentiality, the  origin  of  which traces to a famous story in which Cupid gave  Harpocrates, the god of silence, a rose to bribe him not to betray the confidence of Venus. Hence the ceilings of Roman banquet-rooms  were decorated with roses to remind guests that what was spoken 'sub vino' (under the influence of wine) was also sub rosa.

Wednesday, December 21

Rudolphus [renone] naso rubro

+ Macon's got a great, informed post on why the British won the battle of Waterloo . Makes me want to run right out and start reading the Richard Sharpe books (Richard Sharpe:British Infantry::Horatio Hornblower:British Navy). Then I click through and see there are videos with Sean Bean (wish he'd been Aragorn if they couldn't get Liam Neeson) as Richard Sharpe and that makes them look even better!

+ Thanks to my buddy, Jason, for putting me on his short list of websites he visits everyday. Right back at'cha (ie, when I see in Bloglines that you have a new post. ;-)

+ Google has a new Trends feature within Personal Search History, kind of like your own personal Zeitgeist.

Speaking of Zeitgeist, the 2005 version is out, a little more tricked out, layout/design-wise than past years. The Movies tab is fun with a lot of Star Wars and Middle Earth. And, in Phenomena news, Wikipedia is on the rise.

And, in other, less-important, Google news, did you see they bought a stake in AOL?

+ For shame: Brad posts what I've often heard and seen in statistics before: Working-age Americans who make between 50k and 100k$/year give 2 to 6 more times (%age-wise) than those who make over 10 million. IIRC (If I recall correctly), those who make under 50k$ give even more, as a percentage.

+ Brad also links something fun I too heard on NPR yesterday: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in Latin.

But that's not really enough, is it? Me neither. So, courtesy of Google, here's a translation for you (from this page - Carmina VI on Page 2):

Rudolphus, nas rubro,
naso nitidissimo,
si umquam eum spectes,
dicas eum fulgere.
Reliqui tum renones
deridebant ludentes,
semper vetabant eum
apud ludos ludere.

Deinde ante Natalem
Santa venit, et
"Tu, Rudolphe nitide,
traham meam duc nocte."
Dein, ut renones amant,
exclamantas hilare:
"Rudolphe, naso rubro,
in annalibus eris!"

For those of you watching the translation, the translator couldn't fit 'reindeer/renone' in the first line, which is literally 'Rudolph (the) Nose-Red' (I think. My 'knowledge' of Latin is sub-rudimentary.)

Tuesday, December 20

Thinking about gaming

+ Some guy's got a page for the Ultimate Gaming Table. It's crazy. In fact, these folks are so into it they have a whole gaming room. The ceiling is bordered in covers from old D&D (presumably, though maybe others, too) modules. And they have an IM system.

While I can't ever see doing something this elaborate, the mind does wander. Wil really likes Battle for Wesnoth. It's an early introduction to D&D-type game-dynamics. And he has a friend named Indiana (after the Harrison Ford character), whose dad is still into RPGs. If Wil wanted to do something like that, I could definitely imagine being involved. How cool would it be to have your dad be cool enough to be your DM (Dungeon Master, to the uninitiated, or, more broadly, GM for Game Master)? In that case, I could see having a dedicated long folding table for gaming.

Of course, given my tech-love, I start to wander if the RPGs won't expand onto some more high-tech platform.

Something you don't know yet if you're outside the family is that Wil and I got a GameCube for Xmas. It's great. And Mario Party 7 is sort of like a high-tech board game, where you can choose different 'boards' that can have all kinds of crazy challenges when you land on different 'spaces', because the platform is so flexible.

All it would take right now is the right kind of display (say, projection, or, down the road, display goggles) and the right kind of more flexible software, and you could use a GameCube (or similar system) as the engine for such a construct. Networked PCs (especially laptops) could do this right now. It probably exists in certain LANs. Also, I know there are similar game parlors in Seoul, the most wired city on the planet.

In some ways, online game play is a lot like this now, but everyone is separated. I'm thinking of playing Halo 2 on XBox Live or EverQuest of Guild Wars or whatever. That's the big difference, though. You're not together in the same physical space. And, as much as I love virtual reality, virtual 'community' is a lot weaker than the real thing. You can present so much differently online.

Chances are, the 'cocooning' of people will continue and this dynamic will develop along the current 'one player in his/her house' networked online together, with all of the related results.

On the other hand, I can also imagine Wil and I (and maybe Bethy) teaming up online in networked games, being in the same physical and virtual space together. Could be fun for us...

Worst Sports

This is over a week old, and I've been waiting to add to it, but, since I haven't...

The State (our local paper) carried Jon Heyman's Worst Sport of the Year Award and I really liked it.

Friday, December 16

The War in Iraq and the Middle East

This post started off as a simple back-log report and developed a direction.

+ We lost over 20k in Iwo Jima and we won. If we lose 2k-plus in almost three years in Iraq, then we must be losing. Where are the wise men? Hell, where are the journalists with any sense of history?

+ More from Tom, this time quoting self-described liberal George Cohen in the Washington Post regarding the movie 'Syriana' :

A movie does not have to stick to the facts.  

Still, if it is going to say anything, then it ought to say something smart and timely. But, the cynicism of "Syriana" is out of time and place, a homage to John le Carre, who himself is dated. To read George Packer's "The Assassin's Gate" is to be reminded that the Iraq war is not the product of oil avarice, or CIA evil, but of a surfeit of altruism, a naïve compulsion to do good. That entire collection of neo- and retro-conservatives--George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and particularly Paul Wolfowitz--made war not for oil or for empire but to end the horror of Saddam Hussein and, yes, reorder the Middle East.  

They were inept. They were duplicitous. They were awesomely incompetent, and, in the case of Bush, they were monumentally ignorant and incurious, but they did not give a damn for oil or empire. This is why so many liberals, myself included, originally supported the war. It engaged us emotionally. It seemed … well, right--a just cause.  It would be nice if Hollywood understood that. It would be nice if those who agree with Hollywood--who think, as [director and screenwriter] Gaghan does, that this is a brave, speaking-truth-to-power movie when it's really just an outdated cliché--could release their fervid grip on old-left bromides about Big Oil, Big Business, Big Government and the inherent evil of George Bush, and come up with something new and relevant. I say that become something new and relevant is desperately needed. Neoconservatism crashed and burned in Iraq, but liberalism never even showed up. The left's criticism of the war from the very start was too often a porridge of inanities about oil or empire or Halliburton--or isolationism by another name. It was childish and ultimately ineffective. The war came and Bush was re-elected. How's that for a clean whiff?

+ And then, just for the heck of it, an interesting review of 'Syriana' from someone with a lot of cultural familiarity (via Mark).

+ (I don't plan on seeing 'Syriana', by the way. It's not that I'm opposed. These guys liked a lot of it or are planning on seeing it. I like George Clooney, too (like Tom). He seems to rise a little above your normal Hollywood actor. I'm just not interested enough and don't usually pull away from the computer long enough during free time these days to watch a movie.)

+My take-away on this stuff (something for everyone to hate):

Big Oil is bad, and I really don't like it. They peddle their influence to make more money and, combined with cars, are the biggest industry on the planet.

I'm sure President Bush and VP Cheney are compromised in their political dealings because of their ties to Big Oil and and the military industrial complex. I would not go as far as Cohen and say that the neocons didn't give a damn about oil. I think it was in there, at least a little bit. This compromise is reason enough for me to not want their leadership. Of course, all politicians are, by (my) definition compromised (that being the essence of politics).

All that to say: the world is not caught up in some Big Oil, star chamber conspiracy. Occam's Razor applied here: It's easier to explain Big Oil's role with garden-variety greed and lust for power.

The Post op-ed brings up the President 's lack of curiousity. I continue to feel that President Bush's worldview is too simplistic. However, it is still preferable to the more sophisticated but cut-off-from-absolutes worldview of the Left.

Though I accept that neoconservatism crashed and burned in Iraq because of its own incompetence, it does not follow that the mission to change the Middle East through regime change in Iraq has failed or must. We should stay the course. They had free elections again in Iraq. In case you've gotten inured to it, this is amazing.

That's my (interpretation of this) story. It has been, and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, December 9

Something else I've been thinking about football...

Mike Tice's Vikings teams have an annoying tendency to over-perform when the chips are down and underperform when the chips are up (legitimate turn of phrase?).  I wish they'd do a little better when they were expected to do well.

Come to think of it, Kirk Ferentz's Hawkeye teams have kind of been like that, too...

Pentagon politics and open-source law-making

+ Mark describes himself as a 'conservative' and a 'hawk', but he still has a withering criticism of the Pentagon:

I am deeply, deeply, troubled by the Pentagon move to cut troops in the midst of a manpower crisis during a war in order to protect the postretirement golden parachutes of the Chairborne Division of the Career Desk Cavalry at the Pentagon. This is the sort of in the bones corruption that loses wars and brings down republics.

+ I really wish I had more time to hang out at Democracy 2.0 and post some laws. It's an open source law project. People write laws. If you disagree, you write and post a different law.

That would be a bad use of my time, given all of the other things I waste/invest it on/in. But you might be interested.

The morality of spending cuts and tax cuts

Interesting observation by the Dem.s: the Repub.s are fixin' (note the Southern idiom) to give back more from the budget in tax cuts than they cut from the budget recently in spending cuts. They said they had to cut 'popular' social programs because we're spending too much, then they go and give more back to mostly 'investor class' people.

Now I'm not blind enough to think this is a zero-sum game. It may be the case that tax cuts for investors stimulate the economy. Does anybody really know? If so, does it stimulate the economy enough to produce a rising tide that lifts all boats? And, if not, are we content to let poor people continue to live with inadequate housing, food, transportation, etc. that, at least, damages the future opportunities of their children?

What do you think?

QB thoughts

+ Seems like everyone wants to credit Brad Johnson with the Vikings resurgence. It makes for an easy storyline, but it's lazy journalism, to me. Don't get me wrong. I like Brad a lot. I'm glad he's back. Dude's got a Super Bowl ring. But he's just doing his job, along with the rest of the guys. Daunte was overdoing it a little, but I don't thing that was losing games (I could be wrong). I think the single biggest (sort of tangible) factor has to be the defense getting their job done more consistently. If they weren't holding people, we wouldn't be winning anything. The team has toughened up and they're showing the resolves to win games. It's interesting to watch, and we'll see how it progresses.

+ Bad news for Jaq: Tom Brady is SI's Sportsman of the Year. I really like Tom, obviously. I like his intelligence and hard work. He includes his teammates in his successes and took a much lower contract than his 'market value'.

If there's any criticism I have, and it's a very minor one, it's that he seems almost too diplomatic. He always says and does the right thing (barring the occasional interception). Is it calculated, or is that another one of his gifts? Don't know.

Anyway, I agree that he is this generation's Joe Montana: not as physically gifted as some, but with the grit and smarts and wherewithal to win.

Wednesday, December 7

Basketball and blockage

+ Well, I'm a little deflated about the Iowa loss to UNI in basketball last night. Still, good for the Panthers. Jason couldn't go to the game, but he's happy.

+ Good news! My buddy Kurt writes that 'interact' is blocked in China! [Of course, I'm pretty sure all Blogspot sites are...]

+ More good news: CBS will be offering free out-of-market web broadcasts during March Madness . Time to upgrade! (just kidding, Christine ;-)

That's all I got this morning...

Weekend football recap

I do these on Tuesday enough to call the post 'Tuesday Morning Quarterback', but someone already took that... [And it's not posting 'til Wednesday!]

I turned on the Texas game and couldn't believe my eyes: 70-3 mid-3rd quarter! Then USC did about the same thing to a decent, 1-loss UCLA team. We might be looking at a good Rose Bowl. Main takeaway from watching USC: Reggie Bush is a freak. It's a hackneyed phrase, but how else do you describe it: It's like he's playing at a different speed. I don't know how you don't vote him the Heisman Trophy winner.

Iowa earned itself another Outback Bowl and we're psyched about that. Hoping that the university will support the football team's success to reap further benefits.

The Vikings won again. Crazy.

Disappointingly, my run at our fantasy football playoffs has ended. I'd been winning games, putting up enough points, and had favorable matchups. I was ahead going into last night. But Ryan had the Seattle defense and they scored 44 fantasy points. A total fluke. The craziest score of the year, easily. And it happened to me. That's about how my fantasy year has gone. Oh well. 4 championships in 4 years (4 out of 7 league-seasons, including my own World Bragging Rights League 2 out of 3 years) isn't bad.

Tuesday, December 6

Big Game tonight

Iowa at UNI. SI even had UNI ranked higher than Iowa in the preseason, like 17 and 18. Allow me to employ a Southernism: 'Do what?'

Winners of four straight, the 12th-ranked Hawkeyes seek their first road win over Northern Iowa in six years when the rivals meet at the McLeod Center on Tuesday.

Maybe more importantly: I hope you're going to be there, Jason!

Things that only I think (latest in a series)

When thinking about the song Milkshake by Kelis, and the line:

you want me to teach the
techniques that freaks these boys

where 'the' has a long 'e', I think it could be:

you want me to teach thee
techniques that freaks these boys

you know, like the archaic accusative case, like Kelis is being really polite or reverent, with the whole I-Thou thing.

Of course, if she's being so polite, why does she go on to say:

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard and they're like 'It's better than yours.' Damn right, it's better than yours. I could teach you, but I'd have to charge.

That's not so reverent ;-)

I'm the only person who thinks these things, right? You're saner than that, right? I'm mashing up a classical education with pop culture... and selling welding supplies. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Stream of consciousness log

[trying to fall asleep, having read some 'Jarhead', stream of consciousness 60s songs mashup:]

don't ya know, we're on the eve of destruction?

eveybody stop hey what's that sound everybody look what's goin down? [complete with flashes from use in 'Forrest Gump']

there must be some way outta here said the joker to the thief. [Dylan or Hendrix or U2 version?] there's too much confusion here. i can't get not relief. but you and i we've been through that. and this is not our fate. so let us not talk falsely now, because the hour is getting late...

Alliteration day at interact

+ Here's some fun for you: The Forbes Fictional 15 : ranked richest fictional characters.

+ Interesting reading: a Google employee management manifesto.

Friday, December 2

Freakonomics, music subscriptions (and more)

+ I see there's a 'people information summarizing' site called ZoomInfo. I am result numbers 3, 6, 9, and 13 out of 13 for 'Sean Meade'. No job offer yet ;-)

+ Mark has a post about Dan's post on Freakonomics (which links Mark's earlier post ) which drew comments from both authors and others. Great book. Highly recommended. Of course, I highly value  'counterintuitive' ;-)

+ Matt has an interesting post on the relative value of owning your own music v. subscribing. His take is particularly interesting since he's on the forefront of the copyleft movement, being the webmaster at Creative Commons.

+ Oh wow. That Paul Ford is so great. Business 2.0 used one of his pictures without asking, linking to it on his site. So he proceeded to vandalize their site by changing the image to various humorous things (including an ad for his new book). They came around, though, and all is well.

Wil's hit points

Wil and I have been playing some Battle for Wesnoth (as I mentioned before). Wednesday he asked me from the other room what 6+9 was. I told him and didn't think much about it. Then I heard him saying he had 15 hit points. I wondered where he came up with that number. He had put on his soccer shirt, which was #6, and added 9 (6 upside down, naturally). Fun...

Thursday, December 1

BradFilter, Blowfish and GrammarHammer.com

+ Brad notes in a recent post that, according to the NYT, an inordinate number of the sales reps for drug companies are former cheerleaders. Brad's got one conclusion. And you can draw your own...

+ Say it ain't so: We in Columbia are already the butt of many jokes for having the 'Gamecocks' as a mascot. But we wear it with pride, and there's tradition and history there at least. I don't think I'll be able to do that with our new minor league baseball team, the Blowfish. I'm hoping this is a joke, but fearing it's not.

+ More Brad (in the felt I should link it but not going to read it right now department):

Jason Furman has written an article (.pdf) which shows how Wal-Mart's pricing and employment policies save American consumers an estimated $268 billion per year, provide more and better paying jobs than they eliminate, and benefit the poor. BTW, Furman, currently visiting scholar at New York University, was a former advisor to President Clinton and Sen. John Kerry (IOW, not the poster child for conservative economics and big business).

+ When headlines go bad: Allthatscool.com: Why you should start a internet company today. I'm going to start one called GrammarHammer.com where people can subscribe to automagically have their misplaced 'a's corrected to 'an's ;-)