Monday, December 28, 2009

Trees are so communist

"I’d prefer to do energy because I think you could get a really broad consensus on a lot of energy legislation,” said Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)
Via Politico, Mark Pryor tries to shine his 'centrist' (read: 'moron') credentials by explaining why climate change legislation isn't feasible in 2010. I wonder how Mark Pryor thinks energy legislation differs from cap and trade....

A little while back another centrist, Mary Landreix of LA, justified tabling climate change legislation because, well, health care reform has been a lot of hard work. Does that excuse work anywhere but the US Senate? "Gee boss, I'd love to work on this next project, I really would, but the last one was hard, so I'd rather just spend the rest of this Congress voting aye on puppy dogs and nay on burnt toast"

My CSA is bigger than yours

As one often does with Wikipedia, looking up one things leads you to something entirely different. I came across a table of the Combined Statistical Areas of the United States, defined as "an aggregate of adjacent Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) that are linked by commuting ties" and is also the "the most expansive of the metropolitan area concepts employed by the OMB." I suppose a shorthand way of approximating this is, which NFL team does the network always show you on Sunday.

Anyway, I surprised to see Boston ranking much higher than I would have thought, coming in at number 5:

1) New York-Newark-Bridgeport
2) Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside
3) Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City
4) Washington DC-Baltimore-Northern Virginia
5) Boston-Worcester-Manchester

For comparison, Houston-Baytown-Huntsville ranks #9. If you were to look at a city based purely on its population, Houston is #4 and Boston is way down at #21. But, perhaps not surprisingly, a lot of people live near but not in Boston, while outside of the urban sprawl that is Houston, there is nothing. Certainly this matters when it comes to things like investing in transit infrastructure.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator from Rhode Island, makes this point:
When it turns out there are no death panels, when there is no bureaucrat between you and your doctor, when the ways your health care changes seem like a good deal to you, and a pretty smart idea, when the American public sees the discrepancy between what really is, and what they were told by the Republicans, there will be a reckoning. There will come a day of judgment about who was telling the truth.

I'd like this to be true, but isn't the whole problem right now that objective reality just keeps receding from view? Won't Fox News just run scary stories about grannies dying because of the health care bill (which doesn't take effect until 2014, but never mind that)? Is there any reason to believe that the Republicans won't just double-down on obstruction, while hoping and praying that the economy continues to recover slowly so they can win back some seats in 2010?

Speaking of which, thanks to the Club for Growth for getting a burr so far up Arlen Specter's ass that he switched to the Democrats. Do you really think he'd have voted for this bill if there was an (R) next to his name?

That's unpossible

If you know of any scientists, or even happen to be a scientist yourself, then you'll know that the best part about publishing papers is not the sense of self-satisfaction, or of increasing knowledge in the world, or even the career benefits. No, it is the subsequent emails from ESL (English as a Second Language) folks that will eventually arrive. For example, there's this, from a colleague who most decidedly has a female name:
Dear Sir,

Please send me following your article for personal use which is intersting for me

Will health care cover implants?

Over the weekend, Tom Coburn, Senator from Oklahoma, said "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can’t make the vote tonight. That’s what they ought to pray." It might be a bit harsh to read into this statement that he was actually wishing for someone to, say, die, but maybe just lock themselves out of the Senate or something.

So my question is, since that didn't happen and all 58 Democrats plus Sanders and [shudder] Lieberman made it to vote aye, has Coburn modified his thinking to reflect either:

a) Americans chose not to pray against health care reform, and thus he has misread the mood of Americans


b) Americans did pray but God wants health care reform, so He didn't smite Barbara Mikulsky.

I suppose option c would be that Coburn is a homophobic (1) and insane (2) grandstanding blowhard, but this is the US Senate, so we can just dismiss that possibility out of hand.

(1): “the gay community has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country, and they wield extreme power. [The gay] agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today.”

(2): "And I thought I would just share with you what science says today about silicone breast implants. If you have them, you're healthier than if you don't. That is what the ultimate science shows. . . . In fact, there's no science that shows that silicone breast implants are detrimental and, in fact, they make you healthier."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Shamrock-shake-induced behavior, no doubt.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yglesias hits a point I made the other day:
What’s needed to regain footing, I think, is a different kind of issue. An issue where it makes sense to draw lines, pick a fight, and if the votes aren’t there to pass a strong bill just say to the public “we were out there fighting for you and senators x, y, and z killed it.” Swinging for the fences like that, you might actually hit a home run, which would be great. And if not, you energize your allies and make your enemies look bad. At least if you pick the right issue.

Financial regulation, it seems to me, would be that issue. In broad terms, the idea of regulating big banks is popular. And substantively speaking, a weak bill that’s full of loopholes would genuinely do very little good. We’re not in imminent danger of a bubble/crash replay but if we do something called “financial regulatory reform” we’re unlikely to do it again until there is a new panic. So there’s a strong case for coming out swinging against denouncing a too-weak bill as a sham and drawing some bright lines. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll do some Taibbi-style denunciations of Geithner & Rahm.

Tentacles unite!

Credit the emperor for being the first person on the internet to notice the brewing octopus uprising. I'm sure he found it in the course of actually thumbing through scientific literature, so the Venemous Bede would be proud of his use of primary sources. And Maniac Mansion was a great video game.

Anyway, here's a video:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Figure 2: Taunting the Octopus

From the ever-valuable Emperor:
Defensive tool use in a coconut-carrying octopus

Julian K. Finn1, 2, , Tom Tregenza3, and Mark D. Norman1,

1 Museum Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne, VIC 3001, Australia
2 Zoology, La Trobe University, Bundoora, VIC 3086, Australia
3 CEC, Biosciences, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, Penryn TR10 9EZ, UK


The use of tools has become a benchmark for cognitive sophistication. Originally regarded as a defining feature of our species, tool-use behaviours have subsequently been revealed in other primates and a growing spectrum of mammals and birds [1]. Among invertebrates, however, the acquisition of items that are deployed later has not previously been reported. We repeatedly observed soft-sediment dwelling octopuses carrying around coconut shell halves, assembling them as a shelter only when needed. Whilst being carried, the shells offer no protection and place a requirement on the carrier to use a novel and cumbersome form of locomotion — ‘stilt-walking’.

Monday, December 14, 2009

John Lackey

31 years old, 5 year deal. Huh. Sons of Sam Horn site completely down.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Angry mob

Via Taegan Goddard, Rolling Stone's Matt Tiabi opines thusly:
What's taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.

If you read Andrew Sullivan enough, you can convince yourself that Obama is a Jedi mind warrior, minus the goat-staring, or perhaps a pre-cog/Oracle type: he sees five moves ahead and he knows the effects of his moves 6 months down the road. Don't get me wrong, I think Obama is a smart guy, but at some point you need to Obama's "patience" on an issue is better explained by "indifference."

I don't think it is too late for Obama to do something about our crappy financial system. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that it is something he does want to do something about, and I think it reasonable to argue that, if health care had been wrapped up by this point, he'd have taken it on by now. But both for the purposes of actually reforming the system, and for the sake of Democrats in 2010, Obama needs to pursuade Congress to make this the high profile issue of 2010 (and it pains me to prioritize it over climate change). From an electoral standpoint, it is a winning issue -- people are pissed at Wall Street, and rightfully so. This would help motivate the base and bring some independents back into the fold. As usual, the place where any legislation like this would die is the Senate, but my gut says that it'll be easier to call Senators bluffs on this than on health care -- nobody wants to be seen as defending Wall Street, whereas at least now you can position yourself as defending seniors or whatnot.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Home on the range

A debate has been raging in the blogosphere lately (no, not really) about the concept of home ownership as an investment. Matt Yglesias verbalized something I've thought for awhile:
I think the clearest way to make the point is just to observe that no matter what happens to the price of your home, it’s very hard to actually take advantage of any gains you may make. Bubbles aside, property values in a given metro area really can separate from the national trend in a fundamental way. Over the past several decades, the Detroit area has become a much less attractive place to live relative to the national average and some other cities have become more attractive relative to others. So you can “make money” by buying property in a city whose attractiveness increases relative to the average. But how are you going to realize these gains? By moving to Detroit?

Indeed, really the only way to play the housing market is to buy your first home when the market is down. But once you're in, well, that's it.

That's not to say that buying a home is a bad idea, compared to the alternative of renting. There are a lot of calculators that you can use to decide rent v. buy, which more or less come down to, well, how long are you gonna be around in place X. Certainly it doesn't make sense to buy a home if there's a good chance you'll be moving in 6 months, as there are a lot of transaction costs. But the longer you'll be in one place, the more sense it makes to buy. If you rent a place for 30 years, at the end of 30 years, you have... nothing. But if you buy that place, at the end of 30 years, you own a home and have no more housing costs to worry about. I don't know if that qualifies as an "investment" per se, but that doesn't mean it is a bad idea.

One thing I would like to see is reform of the tax code, which right now "encourages" (though I have no idea to what degree) home ownership by allowing a deduction of mortgage interest. While I think it would be essentially impossible to eliminate that politically, one thing you could do is instead expand the deduction to also allow people to deduct their rent. Indeed, Massachusetts does this on the state level, although it is still not comparable to the mortgage deduction.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

That's fat with an F

If you're the sort of person who has the DVR set up to record the Daily Show every night, make sure you get around to watching last's night show, with Mike Huckabee as the guest. One highlight when Stewart showed a poll that "Fox and Friends" were all excited about (done by Rasmussen, of course) detailing doubt as to the veracity of climate change. The percentages on the poll added up to 120%, so, um, the numbers were made up. Nice.

One item of note... Mike Huckabee has gained a lot of weight. Now, he was a big guy when he was governor, and lost a lot of weight and wrote a book about it. I remember awhile ago people had a theory about Al Gore's weight and his propensity for running for office. I forget how it worked, but that's not the point, because I have no point.


A new poll by Public Policy Polling asked an interesting question: Who would you rather have as president right now, George W. Bush or Barack Obama? Obama won, but barely, 50% to 44%, with 6% either undecided or unable to successfully press "1" or "2" on their phone. Jeez, I thought, that seems really bad for Obama. So I looked at some other results in their poll, and it seems skewed towards the GOP (I'm not accusing of malfeasance in any way, just saying that their data has a bias). For example, the actual results from the 2008 election has Obama winning 53% to 46%, but when this sample of people was asked who they voted for, it was 47% Obama and 45% McCain, with 8% remaining. So in this sample, Obama voters are under-represented by about 6 percentage points. Further, when you look at the breakdown of McCain voters who still choose Obama over Bush, and Obama voters who would now choose Bush, McCain has a defection rate of 10%, while Obama's is less than 5%. Further, the 8% of people who voted for "someone else" in 2008 (the non-Obama/McCain percentage was actually less than 1%), well, those folks/fools prefer Bush to Obama by a 3.5 - 1 margin, which further biases the data.

By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, when you correct for the sampling bias, you find that greater than 55% of people would prefer Obama to Bush -- so definitely at least equal to and maybe a smidge higher than actually voted for Obama. That sounds about right to me, and now that I think about it, is not cause for concern.

And this is why we're headed down the tubes

From a local site, in regards to yesterday's primaries and the idiocy of the voting public:

Inspector: You are unenrolled. Which ballot would you like, Democratic, Republican or Libertarian?

Voter: I’m an independent.

Inspector: Yes and you have the choice of any of the three ballots. Would you like, Democratic, Republican or Libertarian?

Voter: (angrily) I don’t have to tell you who I’m voting for!

Inspector: That’s true, but you do have to decide for today’s primary which party ballot you want.

Voter: (raising voice) No, I’m an independent!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I looked at the returns after exactly one town in Massachusetts (Southampton) had reported results, and it was 53-29 for Coakley v. Capuano. AP has just called it for Coakley with 44% reporting, and it is Coakley by 48-27. I hope to one day drive through Southampton and see a sign designating it the "Bellweather of Massachusetts."

Too bad, I wanted Capuano. Coakley seemed a bit too boilerplate for me, the sort of person who will get to the Senate and do nothing in order to... get re-elected to the Senate. I hope she proves me wrong.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Red Sox Hot Stove

Sox have apparently signed Marco Scutaro, SS from Toronto. Sigh, SS for the Red Sox under Theo is Defense Against the Dark Arts, just one train wreck after another. It is apparently a two year deal with an option for a third year. First, the guy is 34, and second, he is coming off a career year. And that career year he had last year? A whopping 12 HRs with an OPS of 0.789. In '07 and '08, his OPS didn't break 0.700. His defense is apparently okay but nothing stellar.

They needed to fill the position with, well, someone. And Marco Scutaro is someone, but nothing more. He's a #8 or #9 hitter, not a leadoff guy, even though a lot of casual fans think that scrappy players (i.e. middle infielders with no power) make for good leadoff hitters. His strengths at the plate are that he walks a decent amount, and in the past three years has more BBs than Ks, which I guess is good.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


First, Judge Smails passes along the good news that the aforementioned pay-for-prayer silliness, while in the HELP version of the bill, did NOT make it into either the House bill nor the merged Senate bill that is currently under consideration. So that's good.

Over at, Tom Schaller has a really nice summary of arguments centered on the Constitution. Check it out. Two of my favorites:
First, there is the fallacy that anything not specifically prescribed by the Constitution is unconstitutional. True, the Constitution doesn’t mention health care; but neither does it mention air traffic control. Is the FAA’s safeguarding of our skies from commercial crashes therefore unconstitutional? Of course not. First, there is the matter of the “necessary and proper” clause. And second, just because the Founders clearly meant to avoid the whole business of constitutionalizing specifically policies--see point #3, below--doesn't mean they didn't want the government to have any policies. If they did, why create a legislature?

Fifth, if you want to be a strict constructionist, fine, but be one even when it’s inconvenient. Imagine if the Second Amendment read as follows: “A woman’s ability to survive childbearing being necessary to a free state, the right to abort a fetus shall not be infringed.” Now, do you think the anti-choice movement would simply ignore the leading clause and resign themselves to the idea that a woman has an unconditional right to abortion? Not a chance, and they'd be right to fight because the language clearly implies a conditional right. And yet we almost never hear gun rights advocates mention the actual Second Amendment’s leading clause, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state….,” which at least suggests a collective right—indeed, obligation—to an armed defense of the state, rather than an individual’s right to use arms to protect himself and his property. For the record, I support gun rights with some restrictions, but that’s besides my point, which is that you can’t be so selective in citing the language in the Constitution that you chop off inconveniently ambiguous parts of the same sentence upon which you base a categorical claim.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Where to begin?

The always-observant Ms. McGee passes along this article, about an odd part of the Senate's health care bill, sponsored by John Kerry, Ted Kennedy (um, he's dead, right?) & Orrin Hatch:
The three senators have quietly inserted a provision into the Democrats' healthcare overhaul that would allow the Christian Science church to receive remuneration from the federal government for prayer treatments as medical expenses.

According to Hamburger and Geiger, the proposal would have a negligible overall cost on the bill, as the Church has fewer than 1,800 branches worldwide and continues to see membership declines. Prayer treatments cost from $20 to $40 a day -- which the church describes as competitive with medical care.

Leaving aside the nonsense that praying for someone is medically useful, what aspect of prayer costs $20 to $40 a day? Are we buying indulgences? Don't get me wrong, I do believe that thinking you'll get better helps -- the placebo effect is strong and real -- but the idea that you could pay for prayer and that would somehow make you get better? I don't get it.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Two stabs at my grammar question, plus a bit more on Belichick. First up:
I think adding "might" puts it in the subjunctive mood, which (confirmed by some half-assed googling, turning up several ESL sites, interestingly) takes the infinitive (i.e. "to apply") in the present tense. In the "probably" version, the verb isn't plural, it's just the 3rd person singular form of "to apply" (i.e. I apply, you apply, he/she/it applies). (Actually, come to think of it, most regular verbs lack the "s" in the plural conjugation, but have it in the 3rd person singular. English is funny, eh?)

Also, while I too was initially surprised, almost horrified, that Belichick went for that 4th and 2 last week, I've come around to thinking that is certainly wasn't a bad decision, and probably even was indeed the smart play. What's annoying is that no sports announcer seems to get this. For example, in the Cal-Stanford game yesterday, Stanford faced 4th and EIGHT deep in their own territory, down by four points with under 4 minutes left. (Despite my support of Belichick's call, I think Stanford has to punt here, as the circumstances are quite different than those the Pats faced.) The announcer of the game asks whether the Stanford coach is going to "pull a Belichick," which is now apparently synonymous with "go for an ill-advised fourth down attempt." Jerks. (Stanford went on to lose the game.)

And Judge Smails:
Might is a helping verb; probably is an adverb. I assume therein lies the difference.

The counter-argument to Nate/Your thesis is that legislatures are built over time by evolutionary elections. The fact that all the Senators are arguably blowhards is decent, although by no means dispositive, proof that talking alot is perhaps a positive quality if your goal is to stay in office.

Hmmm, subjunctive mood... I'm having flashbacks of Sister Gloria Jean yelling at us 7th graders about the subjunctive mood... so that might probably be right.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Grammar Q

In my previous post, I originally wrote: probably applies to....

Which I then changed to: might apply to...

The verb goes from plural to singular, and while I know that is correct, I have no idea why. Any ideas?

Oh, he's a horse's ass

Apparently that was a favorite expression of my grandmother, usually in response to some suitor for one of her several daughters. And at least according to Nate Silver, it might apply to Senators, too -- the notion that you should just shut up, because the more you talk, the less people like you. He looks at the varying fates of Max Baucus and Jon Tester -- both Democratic Senators from Wyoming, but one of whom (Baucus) decided to make himself front and center during the health care debate and has seen his approval ratings drop 20 points, while Tester simply shut up and still has very high approval ratings. Now, to be fair, there are a lot of other mitigating factors, most notably that Baucus was chair of the committee that needed to pass health care, but still, he didn't exactly shun the spotlight.

In general, I think politicans over-estimate how much the public cares about their particular positions. Rather, a lot of the time, the public just gets tired of hearing about a given politician, and thus sours on him or her. In other words, just stop being a horse's ass and do your job without me having to hear about it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

In an attempt at consolation, Paul Hogan writes in:
Not writing to rub salt in the wound. Just thought the "controversy" over Belichick's decision to go for it on 4th and 2 from the Colts' 30 could be a good topic for your blog post. From what I'm hearing so far, the vast majority of pundits and talking heads are saying the decision is terrible. I haven't done the math myself, but it's fairly straightforward calculation:

Probability of converting the 4th down + [(1 - Probability of converting the 4th down) * (Probability of stopping the Colts' from the Pats 30 with 2 minutes left)]

You could also take into account probabilities of stuff like the Colts scoring right after a failed conversion, and then the Pats scoring again after that, but I think that would only be a very minor factor.

Anyway, I don't have the raw data to calculate whether or not Belichick's decision was mathematically correct according to the equation above, but I suspect it's close. What really bothers me is that 99% of analysts, including former football coaches, don't even bother to think about the math and just say automatically say that the correct decision is to punt. I think most analysts and coaches automatically choose the "playing not to lose" strategy without actually doing a full analysis of the situation.

I think Belichick's decision may have been an example of an instance where there is incentive for an NFL coach to make uncontroversial, yet mathematically incorrect, decision because most GMs and fans (i.e. the people with hiring and firing capacity) are too ignorant to actually evaluate the merits of many coaching decisions. Fortunately for Belichick, he is pretty untouchable at this point.

Well, one calculation I know for sure is that the Pats Super Bowl chances just decreased by about a factor of 10.

I forget where I read it, but apparently going for it on fourth down is worth it a much larger chunk of the time than conventional wisdom suggests.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This story in today's Washington Post details how China hacked into both the Obama and McCain campaigns during the summer of 2008 to gather sensitive data.

If one is of the mindset to view the 21st century as an impending conflict between China and the USA (and I'm not) this news would be pretty frightening. But it also would make you question military strategy. The US spends billions of dollars annually, even in peacetime, on things that blow up other things. This sort of technology has its limits, as we've painfully seen over the last decade. Emphasizing intelligence is not only cheaper, but it is more, well, intelligent.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bill Clinton was on Capitol Hill today, to give a pep talk to Senate Democrats and presumably to warn them about the dangers of not passing a health care bill, I guess in case none of them have aides or a functioning internet connection. But really, good for him. And it reminded me that I should analogize Hilary Clinton to a good third base coach in baseball -- the less you hear about her, the better a job she's likely doing. As evidence for this, I still remember the names of Wendell Kim and Dale Sveum as 3B coaches for the Red Sox, because they were terrible. Secretary of States should aim to be like good third base coaches. Or something like that.

Monday, November 9, 2009

House vote

Health care passed the house on Saturday night -- and yes, I spent my Saturday night watching CSPAN -- and I'm a bit puzzled by the logic of Democratic House members voting no, if there is any logic to it. I suppose some are actually against the bill, but the cynical side of me says that their actual feelings have little to do with their vote, but rather political calculation dictated their vote. Most of these folks are from red areas, so perhaps they are thinking that voting no will give them cover come 2010. But if voters in that area want a Republican, won't they just vote for one? Put another way, what argument do they make to voters -- reelect me because I'll vote like my opponent?

Certainly there are a multitude of votes where it makes sense to buck the party. But on the whole, Democrats' fates will rise and fall together in 2010. And folks in red areas, should conditions still suck in a year, will be the most vulnerable. So what good is the argument that I tried but failed to obstruct the signature legislation of this Congress?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Okay, I'm hooked again, having been in front (and not "on" as I kinda wrote earlier) of the TV for the past few hours. Deeds losing in VA is a non-issue is he, apparently, sucked from the outset. Corzine losing is not a total shocker, but according to my local source (i.e. my mom) is disappointing. I don't know why Corzine left his cushy Senate gig to run for governor anyway, especially to be replaced by almost-90-year-old Lautenburg. In other words, Corzine gave up a pretty much guaranteed Senate seat to have a shot at first doing something noteworthy as NJ gov to then run for President. But since that failed, NJ now has a Repub gov. and a potential GOP pickup when Lautenburg runs for re-election.

Anyways, we also have Maine voting on gay marriage. Now, I'm just reacting to the recent spate of anti-gay referenda in various states, but when was the last time the referendum was actually useful?

There's also the special election in upstate NY. I'd really hate to see the pundit interpretation if the Repubs sweep the three elections tonight, so I guess I want Owens, even though I have no idea what Owens like. But I know that Palin likes Hoffman, so that's pretty much enough.

On a side note, since I like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Pirates and the Who, I really want to see Pirate Radio.

Vote '09

Plopped my butt on the TV to watch election coverage, as there are a few vaguely interesting races going on. Of course, in 2008 this was a pretty frequent occurrence, so I guess I built up some sort of tolerance for the screaming pundits, but wow, after a year's withdrawal, it is really hard to watch.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Seeing as how I'm employed by Harvard Medical School, I feel like I should comment on the recent poisoning case (I don't work in the New Research Building, although that is where my gym is located). First, it is downright appalling how long it took HMS to tell anyone about this -- it happened two months ago. Second, there is no frickin' way it is accidental. Sodium azide just doesn't float into a coffee machine. It is also worth pointing out that this is very easy to do. Most labs have grams of sodium azide just lying around, along with all sorts of other poisons, so if you're interested in doing something like this, there's not much of a barrier to entry. And no offense to the Harvard Police Department, but shouldn't the Boston Police Department get involved, since this is, you know, attempted murder?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

F = ma

Force equals mass x acceleration. This explains why, all other things being equal, it behooves you to use a heavier bat when hitting a baseball or to weight 350 pounds if you're a nose tackle.

It also means that if you get hit by a Chevy Suburban at 30 mph you'll be in much worse shape than if you were hit by a mini Cooper. Yet someone caught speeding in either of those vehicles receives exactly the same fine. Now, one aspect of setting a speed limit has to do with sight lines, reaction times, etc. But not always -- there are plenty of streets where the speed limit could be much higher, but since it is a residential neighborhood with children, a commercial area with a lot of pedestrians, etc., the speed limit is much lower, meaning that one aspect of the speed limit is the recognition of limiting damage when the inevitable does occur. So maybe instead of speed limits we should have force limits.

No, I don't think this is actually do-able, but just as a thought experiment. And actually, now that we're on the topic, if the point of traffic tickets is to discourage behavior, shouldn't the ticket amount be normalized to income?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


What does it say about this country that the best sources of news are Jon Stewart and the Onion?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Will work for EZ moneez

I'd like to say, just from a keeping-it-real perspective, that my blogging absence of late has been due to depression over the Red Sox, but that is not true. Rather, Real World events have intervened, namely, me starting to think about leaving the postdoc world.

I had an interview yesterday, and started off the day by meeting with someone from human resources. Towards the end of that (and I swear, I knew more about his work place than he did) he asked what I was thinking about in terms of salary. What the f? I mean, if I answer a bijillion kajillion dollars, will they offer me that? As far as I can tell, there is no upside on my part to actually answering that question -- if I say a number lower than their standard offer, then I've just screwed myself. But I cannot imagine a higher number altering their original offer. Just extreme silliness, really.

Obama visits MIT on Friday. No tickets for alums, unfortunately.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize

Really? In less than 365 days Obama won both election as US President and a Nobel Peace Prize?

The reaction from conservatives will be totally ridiculous, and telling. Some will say, look, some bad people have won the Prize in the past (Arafat, e.g.), ergo, Obama is a bad guy. Of course, so has Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, MLK, etc. Others will say it is pointless prize anyway and does nothing for America, somewhat implying that this makes us weak.

I'm wondering if Andrew Sullivan took his Abilify today -- will he post that composite image of Obama that he does when he's feeling good about the guy, or will be spend the whole day sniping that Obama didn't make repeal of DADT and DOMA his top priority.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Playoff Baseball

Sox come into the postseason after 95 wins in the regular season -- the same number of wins they had in '03, '05, and '08. As a friend commented, I don't like the way any of those postseasons turned out. Interestingly, the top 4 offenses by runs scored in the American League made the playoffs, but only 1 of the top 4 pitching staffs made it, the wild-card-winning Boston Red Sox, ranking 3rd in runs allowed (Yankees are 6, Twins are 8, Angels are 10).

Game 1 is tonight, starting at the bleary-eye-inducing 9:37pm. I don't want to know who the announcers are, nor does it matter, because they will inevitably suck. At least they sent Craig Sager to New York, he's probably the worst of the bunch, and that is saying a lot.

Wait, praise Jesus, here's a good sign: TBS is letting Don Orsillo (teamed up with Buck Martinez, he of the David OR-tiz pronunciation) call the Sox series! I guess I couldn't wait to find out. Anyway, that's good news.

Seems like an awful lot of postseasons of late have had the Yankees beating the Twins and/or the Red Sox beating the Angels. I don't really see that changing this year.

Google creep

This morning, I logged onto Google Reader and there was a note saying that Person X is now following me on Google Reader -- essentially, when I read something that I think others would be interested in, I click the 'share' button and that blog posts pops up in Google Reader for everyone else who's following me.

Anyway, in addition to the note saying Person X is now following me, there's a note asking if I want to follow Person X, so I click yes. I then send Person X an email saying ha ha, you sure you want to know what I read on the internet. It then became clear that Person X is only following me because I was following Person X -- the same reason that I'm following Person X, because Person X was following me!

Essentially, it seems like Google just decided to link us together even though neither of us initiated the following. I dunno, maybe we had exchanged enough emails or something to pass some threshold. But that's kinda creepy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Crystal ball

Via Andrew Sullivan, this brought a smile to my face. Baseball is a fun sport:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Can we return it?

My academic alma mater, the MIT Cancer Center, has been re-christened the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Too bad David Koch and his brother Charles are conniving conservative douchebags, as detailed in this Rolling Stone article.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Stat of the day

With Ortiz' 26th home run, [the Red Sox] improved to 23-2 in games in which he goes deep

Isn't the simplest interpretation of this datum that Ortiz only goes deep against truly horrible pitching, which is why the Red Sox have such a good record in those games?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Health Care Q&A

The invaluable Judge Smails passes this along this primer:
Question #1: What the hell is a "markup"?

It's a formal meeting of the committee to consider a bill, operating much like the House or Senate floor, except only Members of the committee participate. Legislation (in this case the Baucus plan) is introduced, Members can offer amendments, and ultimately the committee will take a vote whether to report the bill out of committee or not. It's the basic formal mechanims of committee work.

Question #2: What is "the Chairman's mark"?

It's the first draft of the bill, and the version which the committee starts with in the markup. In this case, Baucus' staff will have prepared the mark. It is a massive advantage to be the chairman and introduce the mark, since there are enormous first-mover advantages in legislation drafting --- since you get to structurally arrange the bill, and any changes to the bill (in or out) will be subject to filibuster on the floor (and psuedo-filibuster in committee).

Question #3: How do amendments work in committee? I heard there are 500+ amendments for the Baucus bill?

Much the same as on the floor of the Senate. Without unanimous consent, it is relatively wide-open (with exceptions, see below). Anyone can offer any amendment at any time. Amendments are allowed in two degrees. The Finance committee does not have any specific rule requiring first-degree amendments to be pre-printed; the 500+ printed amendments were either given priority (to encourage pre-printing) or the subject of a UC agreement (I haven't been able to figure out which). In general, however, you can write an amendment on a napkin during the markup and get it considered. And that is always true of second-degree amendments.

Question #4: Are the amendments debatable like on the Senate floor? Does this mean that you can have a committee filibuster?

Yes and no. The basic rules of the Senate apply in committee, so all amendments are debatable. However, the Senate also empowers committees to make further rules governing their procedures. In the case of the Finance committee, there is a committee rule that the Chairman can make an non-debatable motion to end debate on any amendment, with an up/down vote on the amendment afterward. So effectively, the chairman and a majority can shut off debate on any amendment. As with the Senate floor, unanimous consent agreements can also be struck in committee, allowing for House-style structure to debate (with time limits, etc.). And, as always, motions to table amendments are also in order, allowing amendments to be killed without debate.

Question #5: So should we expect filibusters or other bad-faith action?

Not really. A straight up amendment filibuster in committee has to be conducted the old-fashioned way, by standing there and talking. It's not possible to dual-track a markup like you can on the floor, so there isn't an informal "hold" system available. Of course, you can still filibuster-by-amendment if you offer a gazillion amendments, but that's somewhat rare too. Most amendments are sincere. It is likely that the 500+ amendments are almost all genuine. Of course, some may be strategic --- putting in poision pills, etc. --- but even those are in the realm of "things the sponsor hopes are actually adopted," rather than simply debating devices. Watching something get filibustered in committee is not the best image to be showing the world, so it's tough politically --- it shuts-out the other 76 Senators who would like to bloviate, and it reminds too many people in the press of the bottling up of civil rights bills. And a markup of this size takes long enough as is.

Question #6: So how long will the markup take?

Probably a long time, but there are no guarantees either way. The Senators could come to a UC agreement 5 minutes into the markup to table all amendments and report the bill to the floor, but that is unlikely. Assuming they don't actually have debate on 500+ amendments (by coming to some sort of UC time agreement or tabling amendments en masse), it probably will go somewhere between days and weeks.

Question #7: Is it guaranteed that a bill gets reported out?

No. But it's highly likely. When bills die in committee, they almost always die from inaction, not from failed markups. It's possible that the Baucus bill could be maneuvered in such a way as to have the GOP and the progressives defeat Baucus and some conservatie dems in a committee vote, but very unlikely, since the progressives would almost certainly see the politics of that as bad, and choose to just hold their nose and report the bill out. It's also not nearly as important to get the bill out of committee in the Senate as compared to the House. A lost markup in the House would almost certainly destroy the bill's possibility on the floor. In the Seante, there are plenty of ways around a committee, although the politics of bypassing one can get very dicey.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Awesome clip

In case you didn't catch it on SportsCenter, check out this recap of the Phillies game, go to about 1:20 in. Hilarious:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Money saving?

Much has been made in the past 48 hours about the Baucus plan, which has finally emerged. Not surprisingly, even after months of negotiating with Republicans, none of them support it. And multiple high-profile Democrats have attacked various aspects of it as well. A real highlight of the bill is that it is quite fiscally attractive, the CBO scoring it as deficit reducing over a 10 and 20 year window.

But what I don't understand is the mechanism by which it achieves some of these cost-savings, namely an (increasing) tax on generous insurance policies. I have no idea how the CBO scores such things, but wouldn't a higher and higher tax eventually produce diminishing returns, as in, employers and their employees will switch to cheaper plans?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Farm system for mayors?

Don't know why I thought of this, but is it odd that mayors don't seem to move around very much? Right now in Boston we're choosing between essentially three candidates, all of whom are local -- the current mayor, Menino, and two councilors, Yoon and Flaherty. My question is, why isn't there much of a farm system for mayors? Something like, I've been mayor of Portland, Maine for the past 8 years, and now I'm ready for something bigger, so now I'll move to Boston. And if you do a good job in Boston, you run in Houston, and then New York.

Certainly one pragmatic reason is residency requirements, which I'm sure exist. But it does strike me as odd that we don't seem to include people who have actually run cities before, just not our city. Put another way, 'd imagine that being a good mayor of town B is a better predictor of success at mayoring town A than being some sort of lower official in town A.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nails on a chalkboard

Brother Disconfirmed emails from the Bolt bus on his way up to Boston:
I didn't think it's possible, but I'm sitting in front of someone even more annoying than that lady we stood next to on the subway platform 10 years. Subjects I've overheard so far (all discussed very loudly and in explicit detail):

- her physical therapy after a car accident
- her gall bladder surgery and the gas she experienced afterwards
- her concussion while playing soccer in high school
- the medication she takes daily (prozac and birth control)
- her biopsy next week
- how she used to used a diaphram and how annoying it was to insert and take out
- a story involving tampons on a camping trip

And no she is not remotely attractive.

I remember that woman on the subway platform 10 years ago, she was exquisitely annoying. That only lasted until the next train arrived, though, not for a four hour trip. Bro, I'll have a beer waiting for you when you arrive.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Irate email!

I'm very excited to share an irate email I received this morning from a "mike sanders" who somehow stumbled on this blog. Here it is, in its entirety, with my comments interspersed:

Your blog had more inaccuracies then I could count. But then again that's the liberal mantra. Keep saying something till people think it's a fact. you know when I'm in China I see the same thing in their papers as well. Plus I have seen this from the Stalin handbook as well.

Well Mike, I'd say that your opening paragraph has more grammatical inaccuracies than I could count, but I'm really good at counting. So that was one. Next is more of a terminology issue, I don't really think that "mantra" is an appropriate word in the second sentence, maybe tactic? The third "sentence" is actually a sentence fragment, "till" is not a word unless you are working the soil, but you do get bonus points for using the apostrophe in "it's" as most people forget that the contraction form of it is requires the apostrophe. Not capitalizing the beginning of the next sentence is forgivable, because coming up we have a sentence written in ALL CAPS, so on balance we're even. Okay, so now that we've established the topic of the debate, namely my Sino-Russian blase attitude towards facts, let's see where I've erred. In response to my assertion that there are a lot of non-toll roads in Massachusetts, mike writes:
wow so I take it you have never heard of Rte 1? Rte 1a? Rte 95? rte 93 or Rte 128? Cause last time I checked, there are tolls on them. I can draw you a map if you want?

I would be very interested in such a map, as I-95, I-93, and Rt. 128 do not have any tolls on them in Massachusetts -- they do if you continue into other states, but Schilling was very clear in his statement that you can't drive in this state without paying tolls. Now, Rt. 1 does have a toll on it, but that is to cross the Tobin bridge, so it a bridge toll, not something that makes Rt. 1 a toll road (ditto for some of the tunnels to exit from Logan). But you can drive through the entire state of Massachusetts on I-93 and I-95 and not pay a dime. I also like the "I'm Ron Burgundy?" aspect of the offer to draw me a map.
HA yes all of us republicans are soooo against science. The world is still flat right? I too support ALS research. I make less then $50k a year but still raised over $150k in 5 years for ALS research with the charity me and my brother started. I give as much money as I can to charities (part of being a Christian and Not a Entitlement Liberal.) I give to Cancer Research as well. I spend time to help my community from my work at a private club that helps the community from scholarships or to on my own helping every thing from the local little league to the Salvation Army. What have you done for your community besides belittle people that are actual doing things on there own and people that are not ACORN paid demonstrators? See Republicans believe charity is something we Should do but not forced to do. (as in TAKING my money to give to the whacko's at eh NEA or what ever else) So again I ask What DO YOU DO?

Now, I simply noted that it was "odd" that Schilling and his wife support scientific research yet also support the Republican party. This is an opinion that is quite common among scientists, in fact. What I didn't question, but mike seems to want to say I did, is both the value of doing charity work and the relative contribution of liberals and conservatives towards charity. But we get mike's treatise on the subject nonetheless. I appreciate the ALL CAPS at the end, it really brings home the point that I should reconsider how I contribute to society, because clearly my line of work is pretty selfish.
I can go over everyone of your responses and give you truth instead of the kool aid answers you have to each of Curts statements. But Sorry the state just raised my taxes so I need to get some work done.

It is too bad mike chose to spend his time ranting about ACORN instead of informing me about truth, and I also like the use of Schilling's first name, as if to imply that they are buddies or something. As for the recent sales tax increase that mike mentions, it is worth noting that "the higher sales tax on Massachusetts residents, even at 6.25 percent, would be among the bottom third of states because Massachusetts does not impose sales taxes on groceries, clothing under $175, and prescription drugs."

Thanks for your time, mike.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Bill gives his advice, and I think it is spot on: "All we have to worry about is getting things done and doing them as well as we can. Don't even worry about the Republicans. Let them figure out what they're going to stand for. 'Cause as long as they're sitting around waiting for us to mess up, they don't have a chance."

This is true. If the country is feeling good in 2010, and especially in 2012, Democrats and Obama get re-elected, and it doesn't matter who the Republicans run.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Judge Smails asks for a bit more explanation:
Vitter is another Senator who's a Rhodes Scholar. Yikes.

Concur that Schilling is an idiot. Although I disagree that it's somehow impossible to support Republicans if you believe in science research. It's one issue. Very few people agree with every major position of the party they support; those who do,by and large, are simpletons. For example, I presume you support the Democrats despite a strong (and probably complete) objection to the farm policies they support?

A few points. First, yes, science is only one issue, but it is a rather big issue, ranging from one's acceptance of the effectiveness of vaccines to sustainable farming to funding of basic research to climate change. And, more broadly, it signifies a willingness to listen critically to experts and accept what they are saying, even if you don't like the conclusion. This obviously relates to the anti-intellectualism that runs through American right now, which, from my vantage point, has more of a home on the right than the left, at least currently.

I'll put it this way -- there are some circumstances where I could support a Republican over a Democrat, especially if the Republican had a strong record of rational and logical thinking (Sherwood Boehlert, former representative of the district that Hamilton was located in, is a good example). But especially when you're talking about the Senate, where the ideology of the 60th vote matters so much and where Republicans, at least currently, have a helluva lot of party discipline, I just couldn't vote for a member of a party that also has James Inhofe.

Further, I just can't imagine that if Schilling were really into ALS research and asked researchers what they thought of Bush he'd still be defending him. There is no single block of people who despise Bush more than scientists, and I don't think that's an exaggeration.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Curt for Senate?

For some reason, someone put a microphone in front of Curt Schilling and asked him about the vacant Massachusetts Senate seat, which has somehow created the smallest inkling of a possibility that he'd run for Senate. Good God.

First, Schilling is politically best known for his belief that it was everyone's "duty" to vote for George Bush in 2004. Mmm, strike one, buddy. Second, it has always struck me as odd that he is, seemingly, devoted to ALS (i.e. Lou Gehrig's Disease) research, and his wife lobbies for melanoma research... and yet he supports Republicans, whom are vigorously anti-science.

Anyways, he just posted on his blog about his political beliefs. Let's go through it:

People, many people, point to my support of former President Bush as the only reason they need to support “whoever he would run against”. Obviously that’s your right, and freedom. However it appears to me that as an Independent, which I will always be, I’ve always tried to vote for the right team more so than the right person. I believed in Dick Cheney, I believed in Colin Powell, I believed in Condoleezza Rice. I voted as much, if not more, for the team President Bush had assembled as I ever did for the man.

Okay, this makes it even worse. Cheney committed war crimes, Powell was dismissed about two days into the new administration and either lied or was too dim to see the truth when he spoke at the UN in the run-up to the Iraq war, Condi declared that no one could have forseen the breach of the levies in New Orleans, even though many people, including a leading researcher at Tulane (in New Orleans!) said exactly that. This is just a bizarre defense of a vote for Bush.

I live in a state where I can’t drive 1/2 of a mile without a torn up road, or on a major highway without paying a toll, a large toll.

The only toll road in Massachusetts is I-90. You can drive on I-93, I-95, and I-495 and not pay a dime. You can also drive on Route 2 across the state to the Berkshires, Route 3 down to the Cape, and Route 24 towards Providence for free. Pandering moron.

I’m pro-life (with exception to rape, incest or terminal consequences to mom or child during birth) and against Gay marriage. However, let me be very clear on both of those issues. Those issues are so far beyond the scope or responsibility of one person to legislate it’s laughable. The state you reside in should be the body that determines BOTH of those laws.

Well, if you are a Senator, you are one of 100 people who work on things like this, so I would hardly describe it as 'laughable' that a Senator's position on these matters would matter. Certainly if one has the same attitude towards civil rights as Schilling is making for gay rights then this nation would probably still be far behind where we are now in terms of race relations.

Were I to even consider this it would be for 1 term and 1 term only, and then only to do everything in my power to rid this state of the tired an unethical people that have run it into the ground and help it begin the healing process, and once again become a thriving state to live and work in.

Curt might need a bit of a primer on the structure of federal and state government. How, exactly, is someone in the US Senate going to clean up the Massachusetts state legislature and governor and judicial system? Beyond that, Massachusetts has actually held up really well during his recession.

I’m not even close to a Rhodes Scholar or Ivy League graduate, but I also know I’m watching many people with those exact credentials run this state, and this country, into the ground.

George Bush has an MBA from Harvard, so when did this become a no-go for Schilling? John Roberts has a BA from Harvard, Alito from Princeton, and Scalia has his JD from Harvard Law -- should we remove them from the bench? As for Rhodes Scholars, there are exactly two in the US Congress, Dick Lugar and Russ Feingold (in looking that up, I learned the Bobby Jindal is a Rhodes Scholar) and I'd hardly point to them as two of the main architects of running Mass or USA into the ground.

Curt Schilling is an idiot.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Harvard: Blazing Trails

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Information Technology will discontinue its little-used dial-up internet service starting Sept. 30 in an effort to cut costs.... Current usage has dwindled to an average of two users a day—a level at which FAS IT “can no longer justify the large expense of maintaining the service,” said spokesman Noah S. Selsby ’94.... Citing departmental policy, Selsby declined to reveal how much breathing room FAS IT would gain from cutting the service, but said the savings were “substantial.” .... Should users wish to “check their e-mail very, very slowly,” Selsby said with a laugh, third-party dial-up service providers, such as and, remain available.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kennedy funeral

The white-hot center of the political universe (point A) is one block away, while I'm in lab assaying cell viability. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Idiot watch: Peter Roff

I have no idea who Peter Roff is, or why US News & World Reports allows him to write on their website, but this is just idiotic. In talking about Romney running for Kennedy's Senate seat:
As a self-funding candidate who has already been elected once statewide, Romney has nearly 100 percent name ID. And, in an environment where President Obama seems to be dragging the Democrats down, he would be a serious threat to the Democratic hegemony in Massachusetts's congressional delegation. Meaning Romney likely would win.

Do you think that, maybe, all those disparaging comments Romney made about Massachusetts while he was running for president in '08 might be re-told now? In the Republican primary Romney barely cracked 50% (51%, to McCain's 41%). So I'm pretty sure he won't be our next Senator. Idiot.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I won't sit there either

Deadspin has been going around trashing every ballpark, and Fenway was in their sights this past weekend. Best quote:
The worst experience I had in Fenway was in the right field box seats. They face center field, so I was forced to watch the entire game in the same posture that I use to back out of my driveway.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The screen door slams, Mary's dress waves

Okay, lotta nominations for best opening lines. Let's get right to it. Judge Smails had apparently played this game with his uncle not long ago, and came up with this:
We started playing "What is the greatest opening lyric to an album of all time," which isn't quite the same as your question, but it's damn close. For my money, Zepplin is the jedi master of this genre: Zep I through Zep IV all start with killer lyrics, especially if you think the essence of rock'n roll is sex:

I - In the days of my youth I was told what it means to be a man... (Good Times)

II - You need coolin', I'm not foolin', I'm going to send you, back to schoolin;' (Whole Lotta Love)

III - We come from the land of the ice and snow, in the midnight sun where the hot springs blow (immigrant song)

IV - Hey Hey Momma said the way you move, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove (Black Dog)

Anyway, to answer your original question, I always liked Fleetwood Mac's Monday Morning:
Monday Morning you looked so fine. Friday I got traveling on my mind...

And Layla is unforgettable:
What'll you do when you get lonely? And no one is waiting by your side?

Patience by Guns N' Roses is sweet:
Shed a tear cause I'm missing you, I'm still alright to smile...

People who like soft rock and don't think rock is all about sex always point to Paul Simon for this type of thing:
When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school, it's a wonder I can think at all...

My personal favorite is probably unknown to most, the Figgs Big City girl:
Big City girl is what you claim to be, behind my back so headily, you say we don't belong amidst your fucking social rhapsody....

Solid nominations all. Speaking of Paul Simon, I like the opening to "I Know What I Know":
She looked me over / And I guess she thought / I was all right / All right in a sort of a limited way / For an off-night

DGT chimes in as well:

I've been working on a cocktail called "Grounds for Divorce" - Elbow, Grounds for Divorce

don't fall in love with me yet/ we only recently met/true i'm in love with you but/you might decide i'm a nut/ give me a week or two to/ go absolutely cuckoo - The Magnetic Fields, Absolutely Cuckoo

You're obsessed with finding a new brain/but what you need is a new body - Rilo Kiley, Accidental Death

If I could swallow the sky and the mountains too/I'd do it/so there'd be nothing to fall on you - Jamie Lidell, All I Wanna Do

She was an American girl/raised on promises - Tom Petty & The Hearbreakers, American Girl

Have you ever been to american wedding?/Where's the vodka? Where's the marinated herring? - Gogol Bordello, American Wedding

Well I thought about the army/Dad said "Son, you're fuckin' high" - Ben Folds Five, Army

I've seen you laugh at nothing at all/ I've seen you sadly weeping/the sweetest thing I ever saw/was you asleep and dreaming - The Magnetic Fields, Asleep and Dreaming

Now, I've never claimed to be a music afficianado. I love Springsteen, obviously (this recalls a quote from a friend who attended a concert with me: "I thought he'd know 95% of the lyrics... nope, he knew 100%"). And I like classic rock in general, although I'm hardly an expert on it. I've never heard of half the bands DGT references, but those are some very good lyrics. Perhaps I should broaden my horizons...
Finally, one more nomination:
david bowie's space oddity = "ground control to major tom."

ok, maybe not a good lyric, but arguably one of the most memorable opening song lyrics ever.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Opening Line

Certainly a lot of literature has memorable opening lines:
Call me Ishmael. -- Moby Dick

These are the times that try men's souls. -- The American Crisis

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. -- A Tale of Two Cities

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. -- Anna Karenina

But as I was listening to my iPod today, it struck me that there aren't a helluva lot of great opening lines to songs. The proximal cause for this thought was the opening line of the White Stripes song You Don't Know What Love Is:
In some respects I suspect you've got a respectable side.
Good lyric. Sounds good, but also has some meaning behind it, as opposed to, say, Springsteen's opening to Blinded by the Light:
Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat.
which sounds good, but the Boss will readily admit doesn't mean anything.

Now that it was on my mind, I paid attention to the next few songs, and the opening lines were immediately forgettable (indeed, I now don't remember what those songs were). So now I'm trying to think of other good opening lines, without the use of the internet. The only one I can come up with is from The Who:
I woke up in a SoHo doorway. A policeman knew my name.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some obvious great openers, but it has been about an hour and nothing has sprung to mind. Nominations, anyone?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dog days

From Yglesias:
If we assume that Baucus actually wants to see reform happen, he’s going about it in a very strange way. If you want to see reform enacted, Baucus needs to just write a bill he likes, talk to Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe about what kind of special lobster subsidies they’d like to see in it, and then you pass the thing. This isn’t brain surgery.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of evidence that Baucus doesn't really want to see reform happen. Not that I wouldn't mind seeing Maine lobsters outfitted with Rolex watches and fancy pants.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Huzzah yourself

Who knows why (maybe the panama hats) but I've always thought that Teddy Roosevelt would have been absolutely insufferable to be around. This passage from "Theodore Rex" pretty much confirms it:
Personally, Roosevelt was not worried about assassination. If a bullet came from behind, he could do nothing about it, and would "go down into the darkness," that being his fatalistic image of death. If the attack was frontal, as on McKinley, he had confidence in the abnormal speed of his reflexes, and the power of his 185-pound body. Last winter, in Colorado, he had leaped off his horse into a pack of hounds, kicked them aside, and knifed a cougar to death. What a great fight that had been!

The phrase "ass-clown" springs to mind.

Thanks to the pirate with webbed feet for the quote.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

ID card

I somehow have myself on a bunch of right-wing email lists -- I regularly receive missives from Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, and various right-wing organizations. Not sure how that happened, but they are amusing (if you temporarily tell your brain it is all a joke). Anyway, here's one I received yesterday, warning against a national ID card:
Dear Friend of Liberty,

Unbelievably, Congress and the Obama administration are currently trying to resurrect the failed REAL ID Act, more accurately named “Dangerous ID.”

Dangerous ID, which passed in 2005, establishes a de facto National Identification System, and opens the doors for Federal biometric tracking of every American citizen.

And although Dangerous ID is a clear attempt to establish a National ID System, the reality might be much worse -- an INTERNATIONAL Identification System. That’s why it is so critical we get that law off the books.

You see, Dangerous ID actually requires that driver’s license photographs meet United Nation’s biometric format standards. At this level of sophistication, government software can analyze facial characteristics and generate a unique identification number.

Think about that for a moment -- your identity will be reduced to a single number in an international database that can be tracked globally by one-world government surveillance cameras and facial recognition software.

I find the fear of all things international to be rather amusing, but it struck me odd that certain strains of conservativism probably have a lot in common with the ACLU, at least on this particular issue.

Personally, I think we should have a national ID card, because let's face it, we already have a mismashed system of identification that is a frickin' mess. We have Social Security numbers, State-issued driver's licenses, Federally-issued Passports, all of which, combined, function as an ID system. Later in life you probably also get a Medicaid ID. Further, none of these systems are connected to, say, voter rolls or the IRS. If I move, I need to tell the state of Massachusetts about it to get a new driver's license, but I also need to tell the IRS, and the Post Office, and I need to re-register to vote. That is nuts.

Maybe I'm not paranoid enough, but I have zero fear of what the government would do to me if I had an ID card, if that ID card had some sort of biometric system to it (hell, they can sequence my whole genome if they want), and if that ID card combined the functions of our various current systems. If the government wanted to take away all my civil liberties, well, there's nothing stopping them from currently doing that, as we've learned during the Bush adminstration. So I fail to see how an ID card is going to, all of a sudden, but all the power in Big Brother's hands.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

SC Senator

Still recovering from last night (not that current events are helping...) but this Ezra Klein interview with Lindsey Graham on health care reform is really interesting. Check it out.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Aug. 7, 2009: Red Sox-Yankees

12:45 5 hours, 33 minutes. And 4 hits. That's about a hit every 75 minutes.

12:42 At least they didn't lose 1-0.

12:40 From a Yankee fan:

Oh, and Damon is now 0-7 with 2 k's and 1 blown can have him back.
I'm not sure what I hate more, the concept of closers or sacrifice bunts. In order for the latter to be even remotely worth it, you need a ridiculously high chance of success, which Damon does not provide.

12:37 Thank You For Bunting

12:36 Lead runners on are not good.

12:35 Ask the blog readers, and you shall receive:
During the 13th inning, YES mentioned a 14 inning 1-0 game from 1969 (Sox won, they only used 2 pitchers!).

12:34 Not quite was I was looking for, but Rivera: 16 pitches in 1 inning, Aceves averaged 12 pitches over 3, Bruney 14 pitches over 2, and Coke 12 pitches in 1.

MIDDLE 15: 0 - 0

12:32 Okay, I gotta look up pitches by inning here for the Sox, they have sucked in extras...

12:29 I like how the Sox have two guys who were in AAA a week ago batting in the 15th inning of a seemingly-important game. Super duper.

12:27 I'm pretty sure Tazawa is in until this ends, as he's normally a starter, and the Sox have no one left in the pen. Phil Coke in for the Yankees, while Chronicles of Reddick leads off for the Sox. Damn, he just looked at his pitch. NESN still hasn't told me the last time a Sox-Yanks game went this long scoreless.

END 14: 0 - 0

12:23 Looked foul to me. I have -10.50 vision.

12:22 Apparently the Yankees have one of the 17 Molina brothers as a backup catcher

12:21 From email:
Well, if this game goes 27 innings, we now have our Sportscenter "wow" highlight from the middle 9 frames...

12:20 JD DREW, THIS IS NOW THE SECOND TIME I WILL REMEMBER YOU! (unless there's a bleeding single to this next batter...)

12:19 2-2 on Hinske. Does Tazawa have an out pitch? We'll find out...

12:17 Pinch runner for Posada. I assume this guy is the backup catcher, or that there is a backup catcher on the bench. Otherwise, that is really ballsy by Girardi. Jeez, this strike zone is tiny.

12:16 1st and 2nd, one down. One hit was hard, one a bloop...

12:11 Hey kid, welcome to the big leagues from Japan's Industrial League (wtf?). Does this possibly end well? Eleanor? His curve ball... WRONG! Jack? Well he commands... WRONG! NEXT ISSUE!

MIDDLE 14: 0 - 0

12:08 In the last two minutes I learned that it is "Yankee" (no S) stadium, and that striking out 4 times in a game is a golden sombrero, 5 times is an "Olympic Rings" (I call bullshit on that one) and 6 times, rarely accomplished, is a "Horn of Plenty" named after Sam Horn, one of the few to ever accomplish it.

12:04 Ortiz swings at ball 4, grounding out. Dave Roberts calls it a good at bat.

12:02 "Ortiz is getting his swagger back" according to Dave Roberts

12:00am This will probably only inspire Youks and Ortiz to swing for the fences. At about the 5 hour mark here... Youk gets on, is there a chance Big Popup doesn't GIDP? (I mean, I suppose he could just, you know, pop up)

11:59 Cameraman, you suck. I didn't think that was gone until you panned into Brooklyn off the bat. You j-hole.

11:57 Victor, on 0-2 in the 14th, take it in the upper thigh, would ya?

11:56 The sclerotic heart of the Red Sox lineup this inning

END 13: 0 - 0

11:53 This game is making my postdoc seem brief

11:51 The blind squirrel that is Dave Roberts has found his nut: the strike zone has gotten smaller, at least for Saito

11:50 Okay, he walked Ta-share-uh. Now A-rod...

11:46 Please walk Teixeira. Please.

11:44 I'm not the only one who hates Dave Roberts:
What is that blissful peace I hear? Is that.. Dave Roberts not having said anything for like three innings? Does NESN only pay their color commentator for regulation innings?

11:42 Remaining in the Red Sox pen is Oil Can Boyd, the corpse of Mordecai "Three Fingers" Brown, and some AT&T Rollover Minutes, brought to you by AT&T

11:41 Bold prediction - this game doesn't see the 15th inning. Given who the Sox have left to get 6 outs, I think that's a pretty safe assumption, actually.

MIDDLE 13: 0 - 0

11:40 Pedroia whiffs. Just shoot me.

11:38 Human White Flag, Takaishi Saito warming in the pen....

11:37 Oh my, we've worked him up to 7 pitches this inning! Will MVP make him pitch any more than that? Whoa, #8 now, for ball 1! I am bitter and tired.

11:35 This is atrocious

11:32 An email:
I bet you didn't do the math on the time commitment when you decided to live-blog this one.
I might need so set my alarm clock so I can make it to the beach tomorrow.

END 12: 0 - 0

11:31 Melky bailed out Delcarmen. He couldn't have thrown two strikes before a ball.

11:29 Do you recall any time in extras where we've had men on base and were, you know, pressuring the pitcher? Me neither.

11:25 Nice catch Youk. Fundamentals. How many times we going to pass the ball? FOUR TIMES!

11:21 Yup, Astros scored a run in the bottom of the 24th in 1968. Wow.

11:20 Thank you Don, Mets-Astros, 24 innings of 0 run ball (1968 I think he said?)

11:18 Low-lev Delcarmen into the game. This is, um, not good. When he's off, he is upper-deck-home-run off. Nice that the Sox are into their 6th pitcher while the Yanks are on their 3rd, because Aceves was an ace for 3 frickin' innings...

MIDDLE 12: 0 - 0

11:14 No stats info from NESN yet, just that 'tek is 1 for his last 20, with 3 Ks tonight. Oh captain my captain!

11:11 I'm sorry, but if you can't score a run off a reliever wearing number 91 in three innings... do they even have a hit? (maybe one, no more)

END 11: 0 - 0

11:09 I'm sure NESN will provide the info, but when was the last Sox-Yanks game to go to the 12th scoreless? Had MLB integrated yet?

11:07 To add to my previous comment, an email:
I was at a double-A game in New Haven in 2002, Binghamton Mets in town to play the New Haven Cardinals. Game is in the 14th or 15th inning, and me and my buddy have moved down to the seats right next to the on-deck circle. There are almost no fans left. So the Mets are coming up in the top of the inning, and their big slugger is warming up in the circle, Bobby something, can't remember his name, never made the majors. And my buddy says, "Hey Bobby, could you end this thing, I want to go home." And Bobby says, "Dude, I'm going to either end it or strike out quickly. We don't get paid for extra innings."

He struck out on three massive cuts in four pitches.

11:06 A fine comment from SOSH: "Johnny Damon used to look like Jesus, and now he looks like a chimp. Is that Creationism in reverse?"

11:04 Well, at least now we're past the MLB-mandated 4 hour mark for a Sox-Yanks game. And the New York crowd again shows their lack of depth perception.

MID 11: 0 - 0

10:58 Was that 8 pitches that inning? I don't know if this is something that happens to every visiting team, or just the Sox, but it seems like patience goes out the window once extra innings arrive

10:56 "Baffled" is a good word to describe Vmart this series so far. Clueless.

END 10: 0 - 0

10:53 HAAAAA!

10:52 Jeebus, there's not a Yankee that scares me more than Jeter ('cept Sheffield, he was downright petrifying). Every time he swings I think the game is over.

10:50 The silver lining is that Papelbon has been good when he's been motivated.

10:44 After bouncing one in the grass exactly halfway between the mound and home, Ramirez bounces another one. I didn't use to give much creedence to the idea that a closer need something, but R. Ramirez makes me believe it.

10:40 Great, Hinske. I didn't even like him when he was with us.

10:35 Three hits. Three hits. Three hits.

END 9: 0 - 0

10:33 That was Ellsbury's power stroke. Pedroia has had more than enough opps tonight, all we need is a single...

10:31 Actually, wouldn't mind seeing Jacoby go for the HR here, it is short enough...

10:31 Walking Woodward: horrible. Will Jacoby make them pay: um, no

10:28 C'mon Reddick, um, chronicle this!

10:27 Someone I've never heard of now in for the Yankeess. But it is against Varitek, so he could have just come from Williamsport

END 9: 0 - 0


10:22 Balk? Yeah, so composed. I think I control the universe

10:20 Oh great, Posada... I'm going to close my eyes for this...

10:18 Regardless of what happens, Bard at least looks composed

10:13 What do I know.

10:12 Odd that Tito would bring him in to face Texeira, who bats lefty, which is by far the preferable side to bat from in this stadium.

10:10 Oki gets 1 out, Bard now on. I guess Tito trusts him. I think I do.

10:06 No Paps. I'd say this is strategy, but I think Tito just doesn't trust him. I sure don't.

MIDDLE 9: 0 - 0

10:02 Nope, forgotten. In under a minute.

10:02 Hey Drew, now would be a good time to make me remember an at bat of yours...

10:01 Three years ago I'd be surprised if he didn't hit a homerun. Right now, I'd be surprised if Papi didn't GIDP (with no one on). Hey, a single!

10:00 Don't complain, that was right there.

9:59 Lean in youk, lean in!!!!

9:58 There's no excuse for swinging at an outside pitch at eyeball level, Vmart

9:55 Surprised to see Rivera in a non-save situation. Then again, the Sox did make the Yankees use a decent chunk of the bullpen last night (somehow)

9:53 From a managing standpoint, I have nothing to put on Tito tonight. We just can't hit, simple as that. We now have the "heart" of the lineup due, and that does nothing for me. That says something.

END 8: 0 - 0

9:52 All of Yankee(s) Stadium has depth perception issues, they get to their feet on a semi-shallow pop up to right center.

9:50 Why don't you see more pitchers who can throw a functional change-up? Of all the non-fastball pitches to learn, it is the easiest on the arm. And probably the most effective. If I ran the world...

9:45 Entering this inning, according to fangraphs, we have a 39% chance of winning this game.

9:44 Mr. OkiDoki comes on. OkeyDokey. Those were both strikes...

MIDDLE 8: 0 - 0

9:42 Mr. MVP flies out. I feel like one criterion of being MVP is that the voter can imagine that it is remotely possible that this person wins the award again sometime in his life.

9:40 From the pirate with webbed feet: "I will also point out that you & Joe Girardi have the same pirate name." Damn you Gideon!

9:39 I think he was out, although I also like ham, so I guess I'm living a lie. C'mon... get him in, Dustin!

9:38 Considering that Dreamboat led off the game with a hit, and it is now the 8th inning and we have but one hit, um, that means we haven't gotten a hit in a long time...

9:36 From the inbox:
Dear Pirate Who Doesn't Like Ham,

He was out by about a step (The Sexy-Voiced Pirate can run the DVR).

ps - I'm evidently the Pirate With Webbed Feet.

9:34 Is it possible, short of the left and center fielder being struck by lightening, to hit an inside-the-park homerun in this park? I wonder if there are parks that have never had an inside-the-park homerun. A walk to Ellsbury removes Burnett...

9:33 Casey Kotchman is like a Little Leaguer who hits a homerun on his first pitch of the season and Ks every single other at bat, swinging for the fences.

9:31 My inability to function my DVR remote leaves me believing that Reddick was safe

9:30 I think he was safe. Replay time...

9:28 Damn you foul! So, um, foul! BTW, apparently the pirate with the sexy voice agrees with my bullpen based logic. Google "Defoe pirate name generator" if you want your own pirate-based pseudonym.

9:25 Am I nuts to think that if the Sox score this inning, a reliever comes in, but if they don't, then Beckett comes back out? There's absolutely no logic behind that thinking, but I do think that is what's going through Tito's head.

END 7: 0 - 0

9:24 Whoa! Strike 'em out, throw 'em out! Woo hoo!

9:21 Yes, my son/daughter/cloned iPS cell, this is how I spent my Friday night's before I was wiping your ass. So no, you can't get a hologramtoo on your forehead.*
* A hologramtoo is my made up on the spot vision of what parents will not like their children to have in the future.

9:20 Big K! An email: "Did Dave Roberts just talk about Matsui's "happy zone"? Dude, I don't even want to know how you pitch there."

9:19 Here's the tough part of being manager: Beckett is looking close to done (inability to put away Matsui, loss of command). But is he the better option right now? Relievers, as a group, seem to have trouble with coming into a game with runners on base... whaddya do?

9:18 There's no Yankee I loathe more than Posada. He drives me nuts, I don't really know why. I can't stand him. C'mon DP!

9:17 Well, he swung at ball 4 anyway...

9:16 Matsui is taking too long... I fear a battle of the bullpens in my heart, even thought my mind says ours is better...

MIDDLE 7: 0 - 0

9:07 Presumably in response to the doorstop job posting, an email: "I think if you put [the pirate with the sexy voice] & me together, I bet we could fill that job description. How's the pay?" Unfortunately, the pay isn't even close to $15 million a year, so you'll have to turn it down. Rickey doesn't like being disrespected.

9:05 The middle of our lineup, um, sucks. Personally, I blame Tiffany.

9:04 WANTED: 300 lb doorstop to hold a bat and shake its head. Ability to spit into hands and clap them a plus.

9:00 Clarification: my wife bought a bed frame but didn't take into account that we have a split boxspring for our queen sized mattress, i.e. there is no cross beam for the new frame. BTW, my journalistic integrity has been compromised, there were 4 previous versions of this sentence that have been deleted. Will Ortiz do anything here? no.

END 6: 0 - 0

8:58 Now, there's gotta be something to the fact that both Beckett and Burnett are on their A game tonight, and they are former teammates who are facing each other. My wife is correcting my syntax as I type, and she just spent $450 in cash on a bed frame that won't even fit our current bed. And I'm the moron. No dear, it is not wrong, and I won't stop it. Get your own blog. ... :)

8:57 It could be worse, I tell myself. My cousin Timmy (age 10) is a Mets fan. What a guy.

8:54 From the inbox: "I think Youk's batting average would be higher if he didn't sweat so much." He needs to get laid. Where's Heidi Whatney?

MIDDLE 6: 0 - 0

8:52 Erk blorg asflkjas;flkj;fjkl! That's 2, 3, 4 in our lineup, doing nothing. Super.

8:50 C'mon Youk, 0-2, this is your count...

8:49 Jeebus, that's a second 1st and 2nd, no one out that we're -- wait for it -- about to squander

8:48 That first pitch to Vmart should have ended up in the right field stands. Weak breaking pitch...

8:47 My beer is empty and I'm still sitting here. THAT's how into this game I am. Pedroia, you suck. Beer time.

8:46 Right call on that, I swear as I saw it I thought, that looks funny. Good call.

8:45 Dreamboat Ellsbury, disappointment or not? Good question. Then again, he has the only (bloop) hit of the night. But he also grounds in to double plays an awful lot, which is saying something, considering how fast he is. I think he is a victim of hype.

8:44 Nick Green, offensive catalyst, at the plate... 4 pitch walk

END 5: 0 - 0

8:40 YEAH!!! or, as Beckett mouthed, "YEAH MOTHER FUCKER!"

8:39 Shit, bases loaded, Jeter up. This is when he either leans into a pitch, or broken-bat bloop down the RF line...

8:36 Of course Yankees Stadium (or is it Yankee Stadium? just like Boston Common v. Commons, I never remember) plays some idiotic music when Varitek goes out to the mound. Could we just eliminate that? I never remember sitting at Fenway going, jeez, I love this 18 seconds of music!

8:34 Big K by Beckett. He didn't "out-think himself" according to Dave Roberts.

8:33 Batting Average on Balls In Play (if you were wondering)

8:32 Um, Drew caught that? This stadium is soooo tiny in RF...

8:31 Blogging is taking up drinking time.

8:30 F'ing seeing eye single... damn you BABIP overlords!!!

8:29 Shut up Dave Roberts, shut up. Just, stop talking. You're an idiot, shut up shut up shut up.

MIDDLE 5: 0 - 0

8:24 From Bill Maher: "Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll says 18% of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth. No, they're not stupid. They're interplanetary mavericks. A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen, and a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, which is an absurd sentence because it contains the words "Bush" and "knowledge.""

END 4: 0 - 0

8:18 Back to politics... can you imagine if John Edwards (i.e. losing VP candidate) said anything this stupid in 2005? I mean, if he just outright made crap up that is totally inflammatory? Beckett through 4...

8:16 Okay, sorry to bring politics into this, but this is what Sarah Palin just posted on her Facebook page (not a direct source for me, obviously): "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil." Death panel? Meanwhile, Damon Ks looking.

MIDDLE 4: 0 - 0

8:12 Does anyone remember that stretch from mid-'04 through '06 where Ortiz was the best best best hitter in baseball (most feared, anyway). That seems forever ago. All things must pass. But damn, that was a helluva ride.

8:11 Youks is now at the point in his career -- maybe it was that Onion headline -- where he now gets the benefit of the doubt from the ump. He's seen strike 3 twice in this at bat... and now draws the walk.

8:08 Lucchino is stoned or drunk or both in the booth

8:05 Sorry, didn't finish my thought... Rivera will get a standing O at Fenway... Jeter will get applause, but more out of politeness than anything else.

END 3: 0 - 0

8:03 When Rivera retires, he'll get a standing O. Jeter, not so much. Beckett with a nice play at 1B on that.

8:02 I wonder if anyone has ever looked at time between pitches and batter's average on the subsequent pitch.

8:00 HUGE double play! I love Beckett. Right now.

7:58 - I'm not sure about stats on doubles followed by walks, though. Where's John Valentin, we need a triple play!

7:52 - Well, at least Cano didn't have a lead-off walk, as they score more often than lead-off doubles...

MIDDLE 3: 0 - 0

7:48 - Wait, what, catchers are allowed to throw runners out? I thought that was just ceremonial! As NESN goes into commercial, BMW is advertising a car that alerts to you when you are drifting. Yes, that's exactly what we need, drivers to develop an even more falser sense of security in their car...

7:45 - By the way, can we just replace umpires calling balls and strikes? Burnett just threw a pitch over the middle middle of the plate, and it was called a ball because Posada was set up outside. That offends me.

7:44 - The wife just said Jason Varitek was cute in the way that I was cute... what, in a slow, halting conversation sort of way? No, kinda hairy, leaderish type. I don't know what that means, and I need to have more than half a G&T if this night is going to end well (just deconstruct that sentence and know everything about me...) Six in a row retired by A.J.

END 2: 0 - 0

7:39 - As the wife just noted, that Josh Beckett is easy to watch. I don't think she was commenting on his looks, but rather on how easy he makes it all seem.

7:34 - Wow, great K of ARod there. Working back from a 3-0 count... He's bringing it tonight...

MIDDLE 2: 0 - 0

7:28 - It is often said, and I believe it, that you need to get to some pitchers "early on" in the game lest they "settle down" and mow you down. I totally believe this. But I wonder if it is true. It probably isn't true across baseball, but it certainly could be true for certain pitchers. I have no idea how you'd measure that. But Burnett seems to be doing it right now. Now that I think about it, though, I'd have a 50/50 shot of getting out Drew, Tek, and Reddick 1-2-3, so maybe it is all a matter of lineup construction

7:26 - Don notes that Drew is hitting .394 since some point in the past (probably a very recent point). This guy has been on the team for 3 years now, and I remember exactly one big at-bat by him (Gave 7 ALCS v. Cleveland, '07). On the plus side, Heidi Whatney got her hair done today at some fancy pants salon, and is lookin' good.

END 1: 0 - 0

7:23 - Easy 1-2-3 for Mr. Beckett. He's gonna need 8 more of them.

7:19 - Speaking of Remy, a guy I know saw him at the Waltham Appleby's, eating alone. Not really sure what that means, but the phrase "spiraling out of control" springs to mind.

MIDDLE 1: 0 - 0

7:17 - If Big Popup is running hard the whole time, he's probably safe. BTW, I'm not sure who YES currently has in the booth, but in an attempt to find a replacement for Jerry Remy, the Red Sox have paired Don O. with Dave Roberts (yes, of the 2004 stolen base). He's horribly vanilla. Did the execs at NESN think we wouldn't notice that he's horrible, or that we wouldn't care, because he's Dave Roberts? They're wrong either way. It can't be hard to find a good color guy, although if you limit yourself to "people who played for this team" then you're wading in a pretty shallow talent pool.

7:15 - Four pitch walk, as expected. WTF is that tattoo on Burnett's arm? Chains? Chromatin? 13 pitches, 10 for balls, and there are two outs... c'mon, corpse of Papi...

7:14 - I wouldn't give Youks anything to hit here, he's the last (currently) decent hitter in the lineup.

7:12 - Good start. This is where things seem to fizzle in general, although V-mart has been stellar... As for the HBP thing, for a long time the Red Sox hit way more Yankees than the other way around (mostly Pedro). Wow, as I type that, DP. Super.

6:59pm - Okay, live-blogging tonight's game, because, um, I think I'm losing my mind. So Smoltz is gone, DFA'd (designated for assignment). Beckett starts tonight, so we might actually win. If he throws a complete game shutout. Otherwise, I'll hold my breath. The offense was horrible last night (as it has been for awhile), at one point having drawn 7 walks but not plating any of them. That's anti-timely-hitting. We'll see how this goes...